Monday, 31 January 2011


It's just been one of those days!

Being bombarded with questions and comments when really all you want is to be left alone, to get on with your work in silence. Feeling like you're not working to your full potential, and getting stressed about that, which brings on the headache from hell, where you feel like you've got to hold onto the top of your head otherwise your skull is going to explode.

On the plus side, due to the shambolic service and ineptitude of the staff at a certain popular coffee chain which shall remain nameless (not that one, the other one) I walked away with (/didn't pay for, depending on how you look at it) a free mocha. Being in a foul mood to begin with certainly helps you stand up to people and stick to your guns!! And hey, the customer is always right, right??

I've seen lots of people on lots of blogs buying fresh flowers, particularly at this time of year, to brighten up the otherwise gloomy days. So after work I was determined to find somewhere to buy some myself, although whilst standing in a queue in a heaving Morrisons for about 15 minutes I did wonder just how desperately I needed them. I persevered though, and finally arrived home complete with two bouquets of tulips and one of daffodils. They're not up to much at the moment because the daffs haven't even opened yet, but I'm hoping they will burst into colour very soon, and restore my faith in the fresh-flower-buying process.

Hmm, see what I mean?  If you want to see some beautiful flowers bathed in the warm glow of the sun, rather than the stark fluorescent strip light of my kitchen, go here and prepare to let out an 'all-is-right-with-the-world' sigh of contentment...

Well, tomorrow is the 1st February and it's occured to me that I have to take my monthly garden photos. Except I leave for work just after 6am (ie. in the dark) and I don't get home till around 4.30pm (ie. daylight, but only just). If I pull my finger out I might just be able to take some pics before the light fades, but otherwise I might have wait a few days - I think I did say last month that I'd take them on or as near to the first of the month, just to get around the annoying issue of having to go to work when I'd rather be at home, taking photos.

If you're a Facebook user, you may or may not be aware that tomorrow is the start of Facebook Free February, which basically 'does what it says on the tin'. You completely avoid Facebook for the whole month of February and try and do something more productive with your time. To be honest, I don't spend that much time on it really. I stopped playing games ages ago because they were so addictive and time-consuming (Bejewelled Blitz, I'm looking at you!) but I have a terrible habit of logging on every day just to have a nosy at what everyone else is up to. So I'm going to try and steer clear of it for the next month and who knows, maybe I'll wean myself off it completely!

Anyway, I think that's all for now, sorry for the negativity, I just needed to vent! Hope you've had a much better day than me!!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Faster Than The Setting Sun...

There was an amazing sunset this evening as I drove home. I couldn't really stop to take a photo, and I only had my phone anyway so I doubt it would've have done it justice. It looked like the sky was on fire! Beautiful! And what song happened to be on my mp3 player at the time?

This one, appropriately enough:


Tuesday, 25 January 2011

I Have The Will-Power Of...

... a thing with very little willpower!

So a couple of posts back, I was wondering what my next project could be. I specifically said that I didn't really want to do another blanket, or anything in crochet really, I wanted to have a go at some knitting for a change. After a break of a few days, I was itching to get on with something, so what have I started making? Oh, only one of these from Lucy at Attic24! Hmm, so much for no crochet then! I raided my stash and pulled out loads of tiny balls of yarn that wouldn't really be enough to make anything with, apart from something intentionally 'scrappy' if you know what I mean. Initially I planned to do another big granny square, and just keep going with a colour until it ran out, and then start the next one regardless of where I was up to in that particular round. But I got looking on Lucy's site, and thought I fancied doing a different shape - after the cushion cover I'm all 'squared out'! So I decided to have a go at the flat circle, and so far so good! I'm really enjoying it and once again Lucy's instructions are faultless. I think the plan is to keep going for as long as I can, or at least until it's the kind of size that I can lay over my lap. Mischief sometimes likes to come for a cuddle, but the trouble is he does that 'kneading' thing that cats do, and sticks his claws in! They go through my top and I end up with a stomach that looks like a dartboard (my fault for having a squishy belly, I suppose!). So I thought if I could have a little blanket just hanging over the back of the chair so that it's handy, I could whip it into place when he starts and give myself an extra layer of protection!

I did have a look on Ravelry the other night, and I've now got quite a few patterns in my queue ready to have a go at at some point. I won another couple of auctions on Ebay too, so I have more yarn on the way, which is exciting! I still want to knit something soon, but the crochet circle can keep my hands occupied in the meantime.

Monday was my birthday, and CJ and I both had the day off work. I had a really lovely day, apart from the fact that both of us were feeling a bit under the weather. I felt like I was coming down with a cold, although I wondered if that was anything to do with my flu jab. CJ felt the same, but he had his flu jab last year, so he thinks he's caught it from someone - he's blaming all the kids at the panto! I'd had the sniffles since about Saturday, but then on Monday I also developed a bit of a stomach upset (won't go into details!) - not sure if it was something I ate or a bug, but either way, I wasn't feeling too great. So we had a lazy day and stayed in, apart from a quick visit to my parents' in the evening. Unfortunately I was still feeling poorly this morning; I got up at my usual time for work, but after a couple of hours decided I didn't want to risk it, so I phoned in sick. So in between running to the bathroom I've just sat in the living room and worked on my crochet. I think I'm finally feeling back to normal now - I haven't eaten anything all day, and I'm actually starting to feel a bit peckish now.

Speaking of my birthday, I got some lovely pressies. My mum and dad got me some perfume (haven't tried it yet because of the sniffles), some chocolates, some toiletries, slippers, stationery (I have a stationery fetish!) and a book on how to make crochet bags and purses. I wouldn't mind having a go at that one day, but generally you have to line them, don't you, which means I'd have to learn to sew/use a sewing machine. Hmm, one step at a time! I also got some money from CJ's mum and my auntie, which I've decided can pay for the wool I've just bought on Ebay. CJ got me a couple of books, chocolates and some of those embroidery scissors shaped like a stork (which I asked for, cos I've seen them on other people's blogs and think they're fab, and now I've got my own pair!). But his main present was an Amazon Kindle! Wow, I definitely wasn't expecting that! I'd seen them on Amazon and kind of knew what it was, but I'd never looked into it properly because I was worried that I might want one (I'm a bit partial to a 'gadget' now and again!). Part of me thinks that you just can't beat actually holding a big chunky paperback in your hands, and before I got the Kindle I was maybe a bit skeptical about them. But now that I've had a go with it, I can definitely see the appeal. I've only downloaded about 5 books so far, but I've started making a wishlist on Amazon and I'm sure I'll be adding some more soon. One of the main advantages I can think of is when we go on holiday. I usually take four of five books with me - not because I think I'll get through that many, just because I'm indecisive and don't want to limit myself to just one or two. Well, four or five books takes up quite a bit of space in your luggage, and adds weight. With the Kindle I could take hundreds of books, for something about the same size (but half the weight) of an average paperback. So I'm looking forwards to reading something on it, although I don't know when. I was supposed to be reading now, while I was inbetween projects, but that didn't last long!

Anyway, I think that's all for now, I'm off back to my circle!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

It's Behind You...!

Oh no it isn't!! Oh yes it is!!

Yes, today we went to the Bradford Alhambra to see this:

It was a late Christmas present for CJ's niece, A. I can't say I was really looking forwards to it, panto isn't really my thing - I was joking that I was going to take a book or my mp3 player - but it wasn't bad actually. The chap in the middle on the front of the programme is Billy Pearce, a local comedian/entertainer who has been a regular on the panto circuit for years now, as well as having his own standup shows, especially in Blackpool. The Wicked Queen was someone who used to be in Emmerdale, and I didn't know anyone else in it (oh, apart from one of the Dwarves, who was in that Peter Kay 'Amarillo' video). It was pretty funny in places, and it had two or three really good 3D sections (they supply the glasses) involving the Magic Mirror, a trip down the Diamond Mine and an assault on the Queen's castle. I know panto is for kids and adults, but I was surprised at some of the 'grown-up' jokes, they were quite rude! I'm obviously really out of touch! Anyway, the main thing is A enjoyed herself.

While CJ went to collect A this morning, I found myself looking at yarn on Ebay and - whoops! - I accidentally bought some! Yes, I got a bit trigger-happy with the 'bid now' button! I was expecting to be outbid at the last minute, but that didn't happen, so I've already got about a dozen or more balls of yarn on the way, and more to come, if I win! I don't want to say what they are though, or how much I spent, in case it's not very good stuff - I don't want you to sit there pointing and laughing and saying "ha ha, look what the silly woman bought on a whim without doing her research, what a waste of money!" Not that you would say that, you're too nice! (But you might secretly think it ;-) So I'll just see what turns up. If it seems to be good quality yarn, I might tell you what it is!

Well, I think that's all for now. I might just follow Gail's suggestion on my last post, and pop over to Ravelry to have a look at some patterns, for inspiration. I joined up a few weeks ago, but I haven't really got into it yet - it's kind of a bit overwhelming when you're a beginner!

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Finished... ish...

Ok, technically it's not finished, because I still have to sew on the buttons. But it could be ages before I get around to that (naughty, I know) and, well, they're only buttons. All the crochet is done, however, and the cover is on the cushion.

One side:

T'other side:

On the whole, I'm happy with it, but I'm also a little bit disappointed. It's ended up a bit on the big side, so it's kind of a bit 'baggy'. (Is it possible to shrink it a bit, in cold water, or something like that? Or will I ruin it?) I think I'd got the measurements pretty much correct to begin with, but when I started I didn't know how I was going to do the closure part of it. I decided to cross that bridge when I came to it though, because otherwise I'd have spent hours, days, weeks searching the internet for advice, and would never have made a start! So I measured up and got on with it. When it was about the right size, I started looking for tips on button closures, and decided to go with the tutorial from Bunny Mummy's blog (on the right hand side, scroll down a bit). She advises (if I understood it correctly) two rounds of double crochet, which is what I did, but obviously that made both sides of my cover a little bit bigger. I'm not disputing her technique at all, I just wish (in hindsight) that I'd taken that into account when working out the size. Also, I'm pretty sure I should've blocked my squares, but I didn't and there's no other excuse for that than I was just being lazy. To be honest, I think I was starting to get a bit bored with it towards the end, so I was kind of rushing to finish it. I know I shouldn't have done, after all the time and work I've put into it I should've taken a bit more care at the end. Oh well, you learn from your mistakes.

Not sure what the next project is going to be, but it may involve buying some yarn and following an actual pattern!! So while I decide on that, I'm going to try and get some reading in. I've just started this:

as part of my 'learn-more-about-Scotland' New Year resolution but it's one that really needs concentration, and I don't know if I want that right now, or if I'd rather just lose myself in some fiction. I suppose there's nothing to stop me having more than one book on the go, though, is there?

Regarding the dreaded flu jab, I had it on Thursday morning, and so far, so good - no rash or other reaction, so hopefully last year's event was just a one-off.

Well, I think that's about it for now. If you have any suggestions for my next project, I'd love to hear them! Bear in mind I'm very new to both crochet and knitting, being just slightly better at crochet because I've done more of that so far. I don't really want to do another cushion cover or similar crochet blanket; I'd quite like to have a go at something wearable, but I don't know if that would be too much too soon. There was a knitted cardigan in Let's Knit magazine last month (I think) which said it was for beginners, which I definitely am!, but I still found the pattern confusing, and that was supposed to be easy! Also, it was mostly garter stitch, and I wouldn't mind trying something else. Then today I saw a crochet cardigan which I liked (in another magazine), but I think I want to knit something next, otherwise I'll forget what little I've learned so far! So any suggestions would be appreciated!


P.S The saga of Mischief and the knitting bag continues:

Yes, he's actually been picked up off the floor in it here...

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

A Song To Start And Finish The Day...

An opera-singing colleague sang Happy Birthday to me this morning, in Italian! My birthday isn't until next week, but I've got a few days annual leave now and I'm not back at work until afterwards. I also got a card and something in a Lush bag, which I haven't opened obviously. We don't usually do presents unless it's a 'special' birthday (it isn't) so that was a complete surprise!

When I got home (after a bit of a stressful drive) I could hear (but not see) a bird singing it's little heart out in the tree at the end of the garden - I think it was probably a blackbird. It was such a pretty sound.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

To Jab Or Not To Jab...

... that is the question...

So, thanks to my dicky ticker, I am in the 'at-risk' group when it comes to influenza, and therefore the recommendation has always been that I should get a flu jab every year. This I have dutifully done, and I have never had any problems; I know they say that you can develop a few mild symptoms, but I've never even had so much as a sniffle as a result of it.

2009, of course, saw the outbreak of swine flu and the subsequent vaccination. I had the seasonal jab first, and then a few weeks later (January 2010, in fact) I had the H1N1 jab. A few days after I'd had the swine flu injection, I was sitting at my desk at work when I started to itch. I think it started on my back, or the nape of my neck, somewhere a bit awkward that I couldn't see. But boy, was I itching! After a while I went to look in the mirror - by this time I could see a rash was spreading kind of from the back of my neck, round to the front. It was also on my arms. Before long I could actually feel the warmth of it moving up my neck and onto my face, and when my eyelid started to feel like it was swelling up, I decided it might be a good idea to book an urgent appointment with my GP! I saw her that afternoon, and after we'd ruled out all the usual suspects - no I hadn't changed my soap powder, bubble bath, perfume etc, etc - I mentioned that I'd had the swine flu jab a few days earlier, and she said "ah, it's probably that, then". She prescribed anti-histamines and the rash (which had spread almost over my whole body, although thankfully the eye swelling hadn't got any worse) eventually disappeared over the next few days.

Around October 2010 the call went up again for everyone to have their flu jabs. I meant to have it, but time just got away from me, and I didn't get around to it till the end of December. I can actually get it for free where I work, but after explaining to the nurse about my allergic reaction, she refused to give me the jab, as it was a combined seasonal/swine flu vaccination, and she didn't want to take the risk. She recommended that I check with my GP to see if they were offering separate ones. They weren't. I was told to ring and speak to one of the nurses; she was busy and actually called back while I was out, so CJ spoke to her and explained the situation. She seemed to think it would be ok, so I got booked in for an appointment this afternoon.

So, there I am in the nurse's room, about to have the jab. We go over the allergic reaction once more, and I can see the doubt forming in her mind. "How do you feel about having it?" she asks me.
"If you're happy to give me it, I'm happy to have it," I reply, "getting a rash is better than getting flu".
"I'll go speak to the doctor, just for my own peace of mind..." and off she goes. Five minutes later, she comes back with the doctor who I saw last year. She tells me that because I had a reaction last time, there's a possibility that I might have another one, and it may be more severe. She asks me if I work in an environment where I might be at increased risk of catching flu (well, yes and no) and then tells me that the flu outbreaks are tailing off now, that we're kind of coming to the end of it. I kind of got the feeling that she was trying to talk me out of having the flu jab!! She also asked me what I wanted to do, and again I said that I'd feel happier having it, because I really don't want to risk getting flu, especially after all the horror stories that keep popping up on the news. In that case, she said I could have it but they'd want to observe me for about 40 minutes afterwards, so instead of getting it this afternoon, I now have to go back one morning later this week. I'll be taking an anti-histamine that morning, as a precaution. I guess I ought to take a book to read too, while I wait (I'm not brave enough to crochet in public yet!)

What a palaver!! I do understand that she was just trying to make me think of the risks versus the benefits, but I'm still a little shocked that she was almost trying to talk me out of having it. Especially when you think of how much pressure they put on people - particularly 'at-risk' groups - to have it. It almost makes me wish I hadn't said anything in the first place, but when it comes to health, I've always been an 'honesty-is-the-best-policy' kind of person - tell 'em everything, no secrets!

Anyway, fingers crossed I get jabbed later this week, and I don't suffer any side-effects - I don't want to be all itchy and scratchy for my birthday next week!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Crochet In A Bowl...

Hello! Just thought I'd pop in for a quick update. I hope you're well?

It's absolutely grim outside - it's almost like daylight has never really arrived today, and now it's bouncing down too. It's so dull I've had the light on all day. I do find days like this a bit depressing. I think I might have to take inspiration from some of you and start buying fresh flowers to brighten the place up.

On the crochet front, I'm currently working on t'other side of my cushion - I keep wanting to call it 'the back' but it's not really going to have a front or back when it's finished, hopefully it will work either way. I've nearly finished it, I reckon I've got another one or two rounds to go before it's the same size as the other, and I have to start thinking about buttons. I'm using my dark brown wool, and it's such a big ball I've been struggling with where to put it. If it's on the floor or next to me on the sofa it seems to attract too much attention from my four-legged friends. So I've improvised with a casserole dish:

I know you can buy 'yarn bowls' (I'm not sure if that's their correct name) which have a little notch in the side to feed your yarn through, but I'm finding that this is working quite well for me. By the way, we've hardly ever used it, so I don't mind borrowing it for my wool needs.

Speaking of my four-legged friends, they're having a mad half-hour at the moment, it seems. I'm not sure who is chasing who, but all of a sudden there'll be a flurry of noise and movement and the sound of my carpets being shredded as they chase each other upstairs, round the bedroom, back down, over the sofa, into the kitchen and back into the hall. And then one will manage to get away, the other will go and sit somewhere quietly getting their breath back whilst plotting their next ambush.

Had to laugh at Millie earlier. She has a fondness for sleeping in our bed; yes in, not on. On our bed we have a sheet, and then a duvet (inside a cover) and then a throw. Often, she'll just be under the throw, but occasionally she gets right under the duvet and sometimes even under the sheet. She can spend most of the day there; I think she gets frustrated at night because we steal her spot and she has to make do with a chair, and if we lie in, she eventually comes and meows at us, which I think translates as "Come on, get out of my bed, it's my turn!". So this afternoon, there was the tell-tale 'bump' in the bed, and we went to investigate. Lift the throw - nope, not under there. Lift the throw and duvet - nope, not under there. Lift the throw, duvet and sheet - nope, not under there. Hmm, try again. Definitely not under the throw, but seems to be between that and the duvet, which could only mean one thing - she was inside the duvet cover! Opened up the end (one press-stud had come undone giving her means of entry) and lifted the cover, nope, still not there, so lifted the duvet aswell - ah-ha! Found her at last!! Gave her a fuss and then left her alone, but went back a couple of minutes later to see the 'bump' moving around in the bed. I think she was genuinely lost, and couldn't find the way out! So I opened up the cover again and she followed my voice to the exit! Such a little cutie!

Anyway, I think that's all for now, I need to get back to my cushion cover - it won't crochet itself!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

But I Never Win Anything!!

Except I have! Jacey from Coffee 'n' Crochet has passed on this award to me, which is so lovely of her, and very unexpected!

Obviously this is my first one, so I wasn't too sure what to do with it, but I believe I have to tell you 7 interesting facts about myself, and then pass it on to another blog.

Hmm, this could be tricky, but here goes! Randomly and in no particular order:

* I am a GUCH, which stands for Grown Up Congenital Heart patient. I was born with a heart condition, and have had open-heart surgery twice, plus I also have a pacemaker. And I've lived to tell the tale! At one time, children born with heart conditions didn't usually make it to adulthood, but with all the medical and surgical advances of the last 20 or 30 years, most of them are leading near-normal lives well into adulthood, which is great! So now we have our own 'group', 'cause we're special!  :-)

* I collect frogs! All shapes and sizes, and anything kind of 'frog-related'. I stopped counting when I got to 100 - when CJ and I moved in together most of them got boxed away in the attic, and only a few have made it back out on display. One of my favourites is Jeremy Fisher from Beatrix Potter.

* I can say the alphabet backwards in 4 seconds

* When I was 14 I had a poem published in a poetry anthology, although I'd originally written it when I was about 10 or 11. All the contributors were told that we'd receive a percentage of the book sales, but I think the publishers were being a bit over-optimistic - I never saw a penny! It's a nice feeling to have my name in print though.

* Inspired by one of Jacey's facts, my dream would be to own a little tea shop somewhere in the Scottish Highlands, which would sell mostly cakes, buns and biscuits because I love baking, although I might stretch to a soup of the day and sandwiches too! It would probably have a craft section as well, where local people could sell their handmade goods (and hopefully I'd have something worth selling too!). However, when I win the lottery (note: when, not if, you've got to think positively!) I may just go and live up there and try to become...

* ... a bestselling novelist. Heck, just a novelist will do! Yes, another dream/ambition is to write a book. I've been saying that almost since I learnt to write though, and I've yet to finish a chapter, so it's not looking good!

* A while ago I decided I wanted to learn the nonsense verse 'Jabberwocky' off by heart, as I could remember actually singing this to music at school. I managed to learn it all, but after a few days it goes out of my mind, as things do. So every now and again, usually when I'm lying in bed trying to get to sleep, I'll think to myself "I wonder if I can still remember Jabberwocky?" and I'll try and go through it all again. There's usually an odd verse that takes a while to come back to me, but I get there in the end. And then promptly forget about it for another few weeks! If you're interested, you can read about it here.

So there you go, 7 facts, not necessarily interesting!

So now I have to pass on the award to another blog or blogs. I could quite happily give it to any of the ones listed over there ---->, but I've decided to just pick one of them: Paper Mountains. This is a new blog, although Eleanor had another one prior to it, but it seems that a house/location move has also lead to a blog move! I've chosen this blog for a few reasons: as well as it being new, Eleanor and her family have gone to live in a beautiful part of Scotland (I'm not jealous. Honest!); she loves her cats (they're adorable!) and she's clearly very imaginative and talented when it comes to her crafts! So that's my choice - I hope I've done this right!

I think that's all for now. I kind of got into watching Silent Witness last night which I've never watched before, and it was a two-parter so I think we're going to watch the rest of it tonight. I can't help calling it Witless Silence though, after the French and Saunders skit from a few years ago!

Sunday, 9 January 2011

The Most Nerve-Wracking Thing I've Ever Done!

Ok, that's a bit melodramatic, but I was a bit nervous about it. Yes, late last night I finally finished joining all my granny squares together! I used this tutorial from the Attic24 blog; I never doubted the instructions, only my ability to follow them!

Here are the first two squares joined:

... and the next two:

I couldn't believe it was actually working! Although the instructions couldn't have been clearer, I did struggle at times with finding the stitches, mainly because of the dark brown. I wish someone had told me when I started that that might cause me problems, but then again, it's been good practice I guess, and I suppose you can't avoid dark colours all the time (unless your name is Lucy and you surround yourself with beautiful bright colours ;-) ). I understood why I had to only work through the outside part of the 'V' of each stitch, but sometimes I had trouble finding them, and in places I think I might have either gone into the same stitch twice, or missed one out completely. Another problem I had, which was entirely of my own making of course, is that when I was tying in the loose ends of brown on each square, I was threading them through the outermost stitches, because that seemed to be the easiest thing to do. I only did it on the first few, before realising that it might lead to problems later on, which it did as it made the stitches a bit messy, and harder to define if that makes sense.

Anyway, I perservered, and finished it last night. Here it is, laid over the intended cushion just to get an idea of what it's going to look like:

I'm actually ridiculously happy with that!! I think it's going to look really good when it's all finished, and it'll really stand out against the sofa. Do you like my sleepy cat throw too? My mum bought me that a few years ago and it was so nice I didn't want to use it! So it's just been folded up in my wardrobe ever since, which was a shame, so I've decided to make use of it now.

So, I'm kind of on the home straight with the cushion cover now. I finished the squares last week, but didn't want to join them until yesterday (when I could devote a few hours to it), so in the meantime I started working on 'the other side'. It's going to be a big granny square in the same colours, 6 rounds of each with 1 round of brown in between them, and if that's not big enough I'll just keep going with the brown until it is. I also have to figure out how to do the button closure part of it, but I've found a tutorial on another blog which I think I might try and use.

I thought Mischief had decided my new knitting bag wasn't worthy of his attention, but apparently not, because he got in it this afternoon, despite it having the cushion cover folded up inside it too:

It must be more spacious than I thought! He tried again a bit later, after I'd taken the cover out to photograph it. He looks like he's checking both sides for take-off or something:


So I think that's about it on the crochet news.

It was my mum's birthday a couple of days ago. I bought her some of her favourite perfume, and a few 'pampering' bits and pieces, and she informed me today that she spent about 4 hours yesterday doing just that, pampering herself! I'm glad she was pleased with her pressies. Maybe one day I'll be able to give her a 'hand-made' present?

Just before I go, if you're reading this and you are a Blogger user yourself, can you tell me if you have any problems writing your posts? When I hit the 'enter/return' key, the cursor sometimes jumps back up to the beginning of the paragraph, rather than moving down a line. I don't know if it's a problem at their end, or if my keyboard is faulty?! God, I hope not. I'm going to check the Help pages to see if I can find anything, but if you've noticed something similar could you let me know I'm not alone please? Thanks!!

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Brief Update...

... Granny squares joined?: yep, all 16 of 'em!
... Number of times I had to stop because a cat wanted to sit on my lap: at least four
... Photos: tomorrow
... Did I give myself a treat when I finished?: A Crunchie with a glass of milk, yum ;-)
... Eyes: strained
... Back: aching
... Hot bath: imminent

Monday, 3 January 2011

The Best Laid Plans...

Hmm, well, I didn't manage to crochet my squares together today. Time just got away from me. I have tied off all the loose ends though, so at least when I do get around to joining them I can get straight on with it without having to do that first. It isn't just a lack of time that's prevented me from joining them, it's also a lack of good light. I'm currently in our bedroom and even though I'm sitting right under the main light, I'm aware how dim it is. It doesn't help that the colour I'll be working with is a very dark brown. The light in the living room is a bit better, but not much, and as it's evening and my eyes are feeling a bit tired, I've decided it's probably best not to start it at all tonight, but leave it for another day instead. I may, however, do a few rounds of the 'big' granny square which will be the other side of the cushion, as I'll be working with a lighter colour and I don't need to concentrate as much on that. I'll see though.

One of the jobs I wanted to get done today was to sort out some of my books. A couple of years ago I joined a website called Read It Swap It which is kind of self-explanatory - you read a book, then you swap it for another - you just pay the postage. I've acquired loads of books that way, as well as buying them new or in charity shops, and when I've read a book, it will most likely go back onto RiSi to be swapped. However, I haven't used it for several months, partly due to the fact that our nearest post office inexplicably closed 'until further notice'. So I had a bookcase full of books that I'd read (or wasn't bothered about reading) but that weren't being swapped. After getting lots of new books for Christmas (and I may be getting more soon for my birthday) I thought I better have a sort out. So I've made a list of all the books I want to get rid of, and I'm going to see if my work colleagues want any. If not, they'll be getting bagged up and taken to a charity shop (the books, not the work colleagues!). That took me the best part of the morning, and I've been doing other bits and bobs too, hence the crochet not getting done.

In fact, while I was sorting out my books, I became distracted for a few minutes whilst trying to get shots of this little guy (or gal) who has become a regular visitor to our garden, and in particular, to the bird feeders:

So cute!!

Sunday, 2 January 2011


We took our Christmas trimmings down this evening, and the place looks so bare now! It's strange that they're only up for about four weeks, but you get so used to them, don't you? We didn't even have many this time - some lights, bits of tinsel here and there, strings of cards and a few ornaments; we didn't even bother putting our tree up, because the cats just think it's for their benefit and spend every waking moment climbing it!! This was Mischief a couple of years ago, looking very pleased with himself:

 It isn't the climbing that bothers me though, it's when they jump out from the top and get tangled in all the lights and strings of beads!! Nightmare! So that's why we decided against it this year. However, I really missed having a tree in the end, so I think next time we'll just get a little one, one that isn't tall enough for them to climb...

I haven't done any crochet since finishing my 16th square a few days ago. I've been busy with other things, but also the next step is joining them together, which is something I'm going to have to concentrate on as it will be my first time! I didn't feel that a couple of hours in the evening was enough time for me to have a go at it, but I'm not at work tomorrow and I don't think we've got anything else planned, so I think I might settle down with Lucy's tutorial and have a try! I may post photos later, depending on my level of success!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Starting As I Mean To Go On...

So, here we are on the first day of 2011! Are you excited about the new year, or does today just feel like another day to you? I wouldn't say that I'm excited - I've never really been one for celebrating new years; as a child I always found it a bit sad and depressing because it meant that Christmas was over for another year, and I don't think I've ever grown out of that feeling! But I do get a bit caught up in all the New Year Resolutions, even if I don't make any (or pretend not to), and I suppose there's that feeling of it being a fresh start, and a whole year stretching out ahead of you to be filled with, well, who knows?

One thing that I do want to do is make a go of this blog! I've really enjoyed it so far, even if sometimes I've felt like I was talking to myself! I know the only way that I can get you to visit is to make it as interesting as I can, and I know that it will take time to build it up into a blog that's worth coming back to, but I guess that's the challenge! I tried blogging a few years back but I didn't really have a focus, so that one didn't last. I'm hoping that this one will one day be filled with lots of posts and photos about all the gorgeous things I've crocheted and knitted (I can dream!), and probably lots of piccies of my cats too, who I worship! I'm trying to think of ideas for it all the time, whilst being inspired by all the great blogs I've come across so far, like the ones over there on the right.

An idea that I had earlier was to take a photo of something on the same day every month, ideally something from nature, which will change with the seasons. I actually thought about doing this a few years ago, when I still lived with my parents. At the back of their garden is a huge sycamore tree. It actually belongs to their next-door-but-one neighbour, but the gardens are at an angle to each other, so they kind of converge to a point at the end, if that makes sense. So this tree is basically slap-bang at the end of my parents' back garden and it kind of dominates the view. My plan was to take a photo of it on the same day every month, just to see how it changes throughout the year, but I never did get around to it. So I thought I might do it this year instead, but with our garden instead, and the trees that overlook it. However, I'm really not great at taking photos, and I can't say that I'm happy with these, but here they are anyway:

So this is basically our back garden, which I actually don't have anything to do with - CJ is the avid gardener of us two. I think it's all looking a bit muddy, brown and depressing at the moment, but I suppose that's understandable as it's winter and it's only recently reappeared from underneath several inches of snow!! I'm being too hard on the garden, aren't I? Expecting too much from it, too soon? I'm sure that CJ will have it looking lovely in no time at all, and hopefully if I keep up with my 'photo-a-month' idea I'll be able to see that. He's not into flowers so much, his thing is fruit trees and vegetables, but there will still be lots of greenery, and obviously fruit and veggies have flowers too, so there will be some colour as well. Roll on summer!!

One of the blogs that I've started reading is this one and the author, Heather, has just posted a list of intentions for 2011. I commented that it was a great list, but I don't know if I'd be brave enough to put my own version on my blog, for fear of looking back in December and realising that I hadn't achieved any of it! However, a few of her 'intentions' have got me thinking about my own, so I am going to make a list, but keep it private, for now at least. I'm going to try and be specific on it, for example, instead of just saying 'lose weight' (which I definitely need to do!) I'm going to say why I want to, and how I think I could achieve it. Hopefully that might make it easier to stick to. Maybe. Possibly.

Anyway, as promised a few days ago, here are some photos of my knitting bag, wool holder and pattern file that my mum bought me for Christmas:

As you can see, you put your wool in the holder and pull the yarn through the hole in the top, then zip it up, and it keeps it clean and stops it rolling around. Best for when you're using the same colour for a long time, a bit of a pain if you're changing yarns quite often.

And this was Mischief, trying the knitting bag out for size when he first saw it. I don't think he was impressed as he's left it alone ever since:

And just before I go, a quick update on my cushion-cover-to-be:

I was being very good and tying in all my ends as I finished each square, but then I got a bit impatient and just got on with doing the squares, so I still have a few to tidy up, although I tried to hide them all in the second photo ;-) The next step, I think, is to crochet them all together, and I'm hoping that the tutorial on Lucy's Attic24 blog will help me! If it doesn't, it will definitely be a case of 'operator error' and certainly not the fault of the tutorial, which looks so easy to follow. Then I think it's going to be one big granny square for the other side, and a decision about what to do with the 'open' end - I'm thinking buttons...

Anyway, I think that's all - bye for now!
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