Tuesday, June 26, 2007

this thing I do when I'm not knitting

I'm just tinkering with the last few missing pieces of this thing I've been writing. I wrote the last chapter the other week and it's just the middle that needs planting and pruning. Very difficult to explain how wildly exiting this is. I'm almost ready to make the big push and send it off to try to get myself an agent. Bloody hell!

Actually, even if no-one ever wants to publish it, I happen to have a printing press in my airing cupboard and an enormous box of type under my bed, so it could still happen!

So, I thought I'd let slip a little taster of the book to you. Please feel free to ignore it. The basic premise of the story is four guys who were in a band together when they were young, getting the band back together even though they broke up in horrible, horrible circumstances and never wanted to see one another again. A strange logic, but it makes for some funny scenes. Or I think so, anyway. This little snippet takes place after they've agreed to get back together for a one week trial - at the end of which they're going to be the wedding band for an unfortunate couple, but that's a whole 'nother chapter.

This is just meant to be a little taster of the book. It may seem a little disjointed, but to explain those involved - Eric is one of the four in the band and may well be the biggest pain in the arse in the world. Bic and Innes are two of the other three band members and they've just rolled out of a bus and slogged up a mile-long driveway to get to this huge country house where they're going to be practicing for the next week and entertaining 150 wedding guests the following weekend.

After about fifteen minutes – long enough to irritate Eric we reasoned but not long enough to let the chill all the way in - we picked up the bags and ambled towards the white stone steps that led up to the grand entrance of this country pile. I was aware that Innes was humming something beside me, but I couldn’t make out just what it was – something gloomy at any rate.
“Funeral march,” he said gravely when I turned to ask him, humming a few more bars for clarification.
I listened carefully and realised his mistake. “Innes,” I said solemnly. “You’re an arse. That’s not the funeral march, it’s the theme from Starwars.”
He did a quick mental listen and decided I was right. He immediately dropped the battered case and swept an imaginary light saber from the equally imaginary light saber belt at his waist. He had to drop the case, since he needed one hand for the light saber and one to hold in front of his face to do the consumptive breathing bit. “You will embrace the dark side, Bic,” he said, sweeping his light saber in what could only be described as a vaguely menacing manner. “It is only a matter of time. Eventually, all will worship the Dark Lord.”
I dropped my own bag, since I needed both hands to be on my hips as I faced my enemy. “Never,” I cried. “I will resist the call of the dark side as long as there is breath in my body.” My light saber was now extended and in my right hand. We circled one another around the abandoned luggage, lunging and parrying with all the accompanying noises you’d expect from an imaginary light saber fight. And it was brilliant. Utterly, amazingly brilliant. I felt lighter than I’d done for ages, certainly lighter than I had at any point since I found that bloody letter on my windscreen. Things couldn’t be that bad when I was having this much fun. They. Just. Couldn’t.

I got in a few imaginary thrusts and slashes with the imaginary light saber and it began to look like I was winning the fight. As I should be, since we all know the dark side cannot be allowed to flourish. Heads other than Eric’s began to appear at windows all over the place, but I couldn’t bring myself to care and judging from the size of the grin on Innes’ face, neither could he.
“Die, Jedi scum,” Innes wheezed out from behind his hand and lunged at me, but I caught him with a spectacular imaginary light saber thrust to the chest and he fell dramatically to the ground, to lie there twitching.
I extinguished my pretend light saber and knelt before my bested foe. “You fought well, O-Wheezy-Wan,” I said, “but I could not let your evil live.”
“Ach, well,” Innes said grinning up at me from the gravel. “Win some, lose some.”

I'm at my voluntary job tomorrow all day so I know I won't have any spare energy for posting and that's why two posts today. Spending the day with groups of five-year-olds who think that if they say 'excuse me' they can then all magically talk at once tends to make for a fantastic, but tiring day.

Let me know what you think of the wee snippet, won't you?

the librarian's library

I'm so glad I married someone who's more of a bibliophile than I am. Maybe it's because the evidence of his obsession has to be displayed out on a shelf for everyone to see, whereas my obsession can be ziplocked and stuffed into baskets and drawers, out of sight. Anyway, yarn isn't an obsession of mine. A keen interest at most. A keen interest that currently fills 6 big baskets and a tall chest of drawers, but that's all it is. I could stop anytime I wanted to. I just don't want to right now.

Since purse strings were yanked tight - and then tighter - in the last year or so, I've been knitting purely from stash. Nearly. When I think about it there are one, two, three exceptions to this. But one was a mother's day present to me and I made a lovely jumper for £14! And another was only £10 to buy black cotton to make a work cardie so that's hardly throwing money away for nothing, is it? Is it? Stop judging me! The third was to buy the 400g of merino sock yarn to dye at Eastertime. It was only about £12 from Texere Mills online - and it kept Rhia entertained for a good couple of hours over the holidays. So, even if it did break the yarn diet £36 over a whole year is pretty good going, I think.

B.T.W. Texere Mills is a killer site for anyone in the U.K. looking for yarn to dye. Really clear site and lots of choice and I've never been disappointed with anything I've bought in the past.

So, knitting from stash. Firstly this was just 'cos I had no more room. The baskets were groaning at the seams with good and bad stuff. So I purged and tearfully got rid of stuff I knew I'd never knit with. I also broke my yarn diet by swapping a book on Knitty for a whole boxload of lovely stuff from a lovely swapper in lovely America. Can you tell I loved everything she sent? O.K. so I had to swap an Alice Starmore book for it all, but it was sooooo worth it. And yes, it was that Alice Starmore book.

Only problem with knitting from stash is eventually you're down to the dregs. I've used up everything I had enough of to make actual garments and now I'm looking at random balls scratching my head. Actually, that didn't come out quite how I meant it to.

The problem is, I only need so many afghans and handwarmers and hats. And anyway, a fair bit of what I have left over is laceweight lambswool on cones since I thought I was going to be able to run up a whole load of Shibori scarves on a knitting machine a friend's mother gave me. Only it broke. And now I have cones and cones filling up half of the shelf I set aside in the dining room for booze. And I need the room, people.

Well, I started this post talking about books and now I'm onto booze. Two of my favourite subjects. A cold jd and coke, lots of ice. A pernod and water. A whisky and water. A margarita - 4 tequila, 3 lime juice, 1.5 cointreau, please. I've joked I should have that tattooe'd somewhere. 4,3,1.5. I wonder if anyone would know what it meant? Ah, but if they did know, I'd have found a friend for life.

Anyway, books, books. Stay on subject, woman! Since I've been taking pic's like a man with no arms (a Scottish sayin, just go with it), I thought I'd include a few of my pathetically small, but well-used selection of knitting books. The old looking one with the lamb on the front is actually one that my mum got for her mum as a christmas present in the forties. It's full of women who need to knit gloves so they can go riding and socks so they can play tennis and have neat children who wear knitted underwear with happy smiles. The E.Z. book hardly needs an explanation as to why it's on the shelf. I have every E.Z. I could get my hands on and someday I will have the DVD's too. The Knitting Fair Isle Gloves and Mitts is a fantastic book I'd recommend to anyone interested in fair isle at all. I've knit a few pairs from here, following the patterns but substituting colours and it is completely absorbing. I even had to buy my own colouring pencils and graph paper so I could colour in neatly. The Cat Bordhi book is the only one I'm still struggling to get to grips with. It could be that I just really like using d.p.'s. It could also be that I'm completely corrie-fisted.

So, what Knitting books, with a capital 'K', could you not contemplate being without?

Monday, June 25, 2007

new camera!

Well, not so much new as new to me. It's the husband's camera and I've been playing around with it this afternoon. The skeins are ones I dyed in the Easter holidays with the help of Rhia and some Koolaid. She called the purple one Hippy Dippy, the green/yellow one is Kermit's Sunday Best, I can't remember what we called the pink one I began to knit a sock with (before I realised that my sock size is not 'toddler' and took it off the needles) and the pink/orange one with a hint of green is named in tribute to my favourite chocolate bar of long ago - Fry's Five Centres. It was a thin dark chocolate bar with a fondant centre that began with raspberry and merged into orange and them lemon and then lime and ........I can't actually remember what the fifth flavour was. Strawberry? Blackcurrant? Anyway, it was delicious and the flash of green in the skein along with the pink and orange just reminded me of it straightaway. And no, I will not be keeping with the theme and dipping the socks in melted dark chocolate when they are done.

The stripy thing the skeins are resting on is my half-finished - or actually, more than half-finished, I hope - log-cabin blanket. It is a completely addictive knit, especially when you are on a strict yarn diet like me and need a way to use up scraps of nice yarn. Although, as this thing is getting bigger and bigger, the scraps are turning into bigger and bigger balls. Whatever, I'm just waiting for the go-ahead to start a job in the local library so at least I'll have cash soon to buy more, won't I?

I've started making a little pile of small log-cabin squares - just the centre panel with one set of stripes around to use up the smaller balls of yarn. Can you tell I'm Scottish and thrifty? I've just worked out a way to seam them together today too, and I'm quite chuffed with it. I'm going to use a 3 stitch i-cord taking stitches from two panels alternately with finer yarn and needles and bind them together that way. Or that's the plan anyway. I think it'll be a November project somehow. We're going away in November up to Oban to a big house with two other families so I'll probably need small sanity projects round about then.
Anyway, I'm off to take more pic's with this camera while I still have a loan of it.

Hope Monday was kind to you.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

jammy day

It's too rainy a day to worry about clothes today. No, I'm not wandering around Dunfermline in the buff - I'm just having an official jammy day. And since the cough - crappy - cough yarn shop in town didn't carry the cotton yarn I need to finish the bolero I'm working on I don't have a current project that's calling me. So blogging it is, then.

I've almost finished the bolero, which is good, but it's felt like a loooong process even though it hasn't taken me any longer than any other similar garment has. I think it's knitting with cotton. Black cotton. Miles of stockinette in black cotton. Yaaaaawn. The pattern's good, though. It's the Debbie Bliss Fiery Bolero in the Spring '05 issue of Interweave Knits (I think). It's well-written and nice and clear. Just booooooring. It's the sort of knitting I've always shied away from and looking at how nicely it's turned out so far I don't know why. Maybe it's because I know the knitted things I'll always wear most are in dark colours and involve huge portions of blank stockinette and I know I'll be out of my basket at the end of it.

Anyway, here are a couple of recent f.o.'s and a few gardeny things. The pink jumper is an ice-cream coloured version of the Jemima jumper from the My Fashionable Life site. It's well worth having. I've knit 4 so far this year and I see more in my future. Really, really good pattern. Just excuse the black vest top underneath mine, will you? The knitting was photographed in a a bit of a rush by my lovely 10 yr old. The red cardie is a version of the Leaf cardie from the Spring Knitty. It's a Stephanie Japel pattern and also really well written. The bag is just a mini version of the Booga bag with the addition of a spare button pinched from Rhia's new green jacket.
The pink rose is a Gertrude Jekyll we have at the bottom of our garden next to the chickens and is looking good right about now. The huge lilyish flowers are Cardiocrinum and took 7 years to get to 8 feet tall. They throw out huge spikes of flowers and then promptly die. The little rhododendron is in the nursery bed at the bottom of the garden.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

that time of year again

What I can't figure out is how I'm convinced this is my daughter's birthday cake from last year when there are only 9 candles and she was ten. She'll be 11 on the 29th of June. Only 6 more sleeps, Rhia!
I'm actually a really good baker, btw, this was a special request from the spawn after we so enjoyed decorating our homemade gingerbread house at Christmas that I thought the poor thing was going to collapse under the weight of cheap sweets and royal icing. Fantastic fun, doing this kind of thing together - we have the same outrageous lack of taste and inability to stop once we start gluing sweets to things.
The other gorgeous lady in the pic. is my mum. She helped us decorate the last gingerbread house and was worse than Rhia and I combined. She kept pasting sweets to the house and then ripping them all off again, complaining that they didn't look quite right. Of course she had to eat the ones she'd taken off. I think we can blame the three or four large sherries we'd had for this kind of behaviour. It wasn't the kind of thing we ever did together when I was small and she was busy, but now, I think it'll become a new Christmas tradition for the three of us. Sitting round our dining table listening to Christmas songs, me ordering my mum to stop hogging the royal icing and eating all the bloody pink sweets already! And her completely ignoring me. Oh how she must have enjoyed that one!
Photos of actual knitting tomorrow now I've figured out how to add them. What a luddite.

new start - again

I've finally joined ranks with the blogging community, then. I tried this a while ago but didn't find the energy to post regularly. I must do better, try harder and knit faster this time round!

The plan here is for me to just yap on about all the irrelevant things that clutter my brain and if anyone reads it - fine. If not, well at least my brain will have less dust bunnies and I might be able to remember just what it was I went upstairs to look for a few times a week. Less time spent head scratching would be good.

Actually I don't mind the senior moments when you open the fridge and can't remember what you needed or you have to check that the door is locked three times before you can get in the car - the one that really gets me is when I'm sitting on the loo and can't recall if I've pee'd or not. I'm only 33. At this rate I'll be wearing purple and talking to myself by the time I reach 40. There's an old lady who lives nearby who paints her rose bushes white and sticks bunches of artificial flowers in her front garden. Maybe I'll be a bit like that. I could felt hundreds of flowers and staple them everywhere. At least I'd be stashbusting, right?

I've a few photos of F.O's to post a little later - including a red version of Stefanie Japel's leaf cardie from the Summer Knitty that I'm really happy with, but for now I need to go make homemade spring rolls with my daughter.

Hope you're having as good a Saturday as I am.