New Year; New Beginning

2013 proved to be a very challenging year and ended extremely badly.  2014 didn't start off very happily either, but using a new phrase I picked up - "I will not speak of this again".
I've neglected this blog last year, but I have resolved that for 2014 I will try to post items more frequently. So, I will start that commitment today.
I felt like I didn't accomplish much last year and wanted to strive to do better this year. To stay more focused on the things that matter to me,  I set up a Top Goals spreadsheet and purchased a monarch size Franklin Planner.  I didn't start populating the planner until yesterday.  I am now in a better place this evening, which is a good feeling.  I did my weekly planning today, set up my project bags for January 2014 HCKCHC in Ravelry and made good progress on David's first socks for 2014 .
There is a Slytherin Sock Syndicate which mentioned a great way to  achieve more sock knitting by setting up your 2014 sock project bags at the beginning of the new year. A new project bag is pulled out once you have finished your pair latest sock project.  Yarn Harlot Stash Sock Club thought this up, so I give credit, where credit is due. 
First I made up 14 project bags along with determining what sock pattern I would use for each selected yarn.  Then I had a little help when I was trying to set them up to photograph.
 
 Then I had more help...
Quick snap the picture before they return!
 
Finally, all safely tucked away in the pocket of Doom.
So I can now post this on the SSS thread in Slytherin House on Ravelry.  My own personal Stash Sock Club is ready to go for 2014.
I want do a bit more reading and to tackle that goal I started a new book today by Stephen King - 11.23.63.  I haven't gotten into it much yet, but I am looking forward to some good book time this evening.
I would love to chitter a bit more, but I want finish my first pair of socks for 2014 which are to go to hubby!  More on that later.

Arctic Toilets and Icicle Clothes

The calendar says it's now Spring, and the longer daylight promises warmer weather to come.  But as you see below, it is still bitterly cold, with perishing cold gusts from the east.  We now have 3 quilts, a double layered duvet and a crocheted throw on our bed, but it takes a while for you to warm up when you first slip under the covers.  Yesterday, Buddy crawled under the covers with his head sticking out by mine for a bit in order for us to share our heat.  

I'm so grateful we only have a sprinkling of snow.
The austerity measures remain in place until at least the end of May.  Thank goodness we have the open fire in the lounge.  It is being used daily to enable a warm place to reside. We only leave the central heating on for a few hours in the morning and at night. This has no affect on the bathrooms.  Ally described it best by phrasing it as 'It is like sitting on a block of ice.  I gave the downstairs bathroom the moniker "Arctic toilet"  That tickled hubby to no end.

The old fashioned bed warmers sound heavenly now.  Hubby takes his hot bottle

Buddy is playing his 'pathetic cat' routine.  But the saddest routine is when he hangs from the window like a man overboard.  

Testing the Defenses
I worry about Moriarty.  He seems to only come in at night to eat.  He has lost a lot of the weight he originally put on prior to the bitter winter weather arrived.  You can feel his spine so easily.  Fortunately the last two nights he has come into the lounge for about 30 minutes and sits next to me on the couch.

The best news is that I start my new contract on Monday.  I'm hoping the role lives up to my expectations.  I think it will.  The commute will be challenging - 71 miles one-way.  But hopefully I will be able to work 2-3 days in Glasgow when I've settled into the role.

Discovering Nemo

Today while I was trawling through BoA, I began a time stealing path through some esoteric and 'normal' world things.  The bit that I spent quite a long time on had to do with the winter storm named affectionately 'Nemo' by weather authorities in the US.  This new way to track bad storms on the other side of the pond.

Taken from Climate Central
Now that looks bad...really bad.  The weather this winter seems a bit more intense than in previously in the last decade - especially in the UK.  I was trying to find out when/or if this storm might follow the gulfstream over to Europe.  In spite of a keyword search via two search engines, I couldn't find anything conclusive.  I did find a tracker so I may try to see how it's affecting the east coast of North America.  It should be finishing up in Ohio this evening.  I did find a lovely sticker that I've added to this blog and also Disaelfr.

Speaking of Ravelry, I did a lot of crafting last month.  See my collage below:


The muggle studies assignment was designed and knitted my me.  It took a lot of fiddling, but I was happy with the final results.

My Own Design

I need to write up the pattern in order to distribute it on Ravelry.  What a difference a cover makes.  The bottle is still warm by mid-morning.  Amazing!

There was some fluffy tail action this afternoon when we brought the ferrets in for some ferret fun.  We first allowed them to run about the driveway.  They loved it!  So many shiny new toys. Running under the cars, behind the bins and plants.  The fun did not stopped there. They had a bit of a wrestle in the tubes, searched out some new ferret treats, and kept climate up to fuss me up on the couch.  But when they dislodged the dvds from the bottom shelves with great fervour it was time to go back to the box.

Winter Wonderland

The dream is coming closer to reality.  Everything is now moved up to Scotland.  We have such a lovely home that we're renting.  I just hope the home down south sells quickly.

The animals have settled in nicely now.  While the situation is tight we're doing well.  It's amazing how you can manage and still have little treats.


The weather is not helping the job situation.  Hopefully things will get better in the next week or so.

I continue to knit and really need to sort out the workshop.  But the cold makes it less inviting.

This is Britain right?

It's extremely rare to witness thunder and lightning here; and even more rare to experience nearly hurricane force winds and hail.  But here you have it:


That's the neighbour's doorway adjacent to ours.  This picture doesn't do it justice.  I had to wipe down the ferret hutch as it was soaked and had a lot of halestones in it.  This happened yesterday in the afternoon.  I heard a neighbour literally shovelling the hail away from his doorway while his children were watching in awe.

Whoa! I've never been so tired in all my life!

Mental note for future reference:

Do NOT try to drive to Ayrshire, collect keys, unpack car, and drive back on the same day!
 Driving 6 1/2 hours to Ayr leaving at 9 am. - 45 minutes late, not a surprise there!  It didn't help that the AA travel planner took us through Dumfries town centre during rush hour. :)

Had a great Chinese in Mauchline and we didn't get back home until 2am.  I can't remember ever being so tired in all my life.  By 1 am I hit the

I don't think I'm still in my body because I feel so weird!
Even after having babies (especially twins), and major ops I have never felt so tired.  I must have taken 3 or 4 naps yesterday and still felt out of it last night.

Feeling a bit better now.   Started clearing out my work room.  What a chore that will be.  I'll employ the little and often approach and hope to break the back of it by Friday.

Absolutely love the house and the landlords.  We discovered Scottish Tablet that kept the hypoglycemia at bay for the trip back.  Thank you Mr and Mrs Wilson. 

We met and adore Malcolm the Bengal rescue cat.  He is a real curious cat!  We've landed back in a neighbourhood that is full of cats.  The funny thing is that the nearest neighbour is about 1/4 of a mile away.  Yeah!  It's not flat, lovely rolling hills and the house is huge!  Must remember not to consider the axiom that

Nature abhors a vacuum.
More on that later!

Fashion? Moi?

As some of you who actually know me in real life, you would definitely not think I was a slave to fashion.  I don't set trends; I am certainly not a follower. My clothing is truly an expression of me - comfortable, sometimes eclectic and usually timeless fashions.  However, let me confess something no one ever knew about me, I had seriously considered studying fashion design as a career option while I was in high school.  My doodles during classes dealt with patterns and textures, as well as clothing, generally for women.  I made my own clothes, especially dresses and tops so I understood the basics of construction. 

While I am visiting family here in Ohio, I spent some of my free time visiting the Kent State University Fashion Museum.  My 'excuse' this time was 'the need to demonstrate this for my C&G qualification'. The grey hair must have notified the kind receptionist that I might be entitled to a discount.  I forgot that here in the States you are considered an OAP at 55.  Yes!  I saved some money on the entrance fee.  I had brought my camera, only to be disappointed that they did not allow them along with no pens.  So I nipped into the Museum shop to see if I could get a sketch pad.  I suspect I demonstrated a flaw in their marketing strategy.  There were no separate sketch pads and no pencils. The manager did remember that she had seen some rather stylish sketch pads and I think you may see these in days to come. Fortunately I did have a mechanical pencil in my ruck sack.  I selected a small posh note pad (no lines) and started wandering through the museum. 

I always love visiting the museum.  This time my focus was on garment lines focusing on all aspects of it:
  • Collars
  • Sleeves
  • Bodices
  • Hems (both sleeve and overall)
  • Textures and patterns
  • Layers
  • Lace, trims, and ribbons
  • Insertions
Really the full gamut of the articles on display.  I drew copiously and quickly.  When I return home, I want to redraw my notes and annotate them better.

I also went a bit mad and purchased quite a few books from the museum as these books provided me with the photos of the garments I saw and made sketches of.  I gained a lot of inspiration from the garment structures from the 18th to 20th century and from some of the ethnic patterns in their Resist and Weaving exhibits.

However, the best item I found was a Dover kit called How to Draw Dazzling & Dressy Fashions by Barbara Lanza - with a sketch book included!


What I like about it is that it gives you a step-by-step idiot's guide to how to draw clothing 'on people' from start to finish.  With the knowledge that I used to do this as part of my doodling exercises, I feel I have the confidence to give it a go in my golden years even though I think I can't actually draw.

Hmmm, I may just try out those pencils I bought earlier in the week.

It isn't always about the ferrets

There is a rather strange event that takes place nearly every night in the front bedroom, sometime between midnight and 4 am.

Suddenly you hear a bit of banging, bumps and scuffling.  You also hear very soft noises of cats growling, swearing and mewing.  When you go up to investigate, it's Buddy and Oscar locked in mortal combat, scratching, kicking and biting.  They let go as soon as they have been caught out!

After 4 years, they still  are not on good terms with each other.  It appears that the older cat, Buddy (12 years old) still doesn't like the youngster - Oscar (4 years old).

So imagine my surprise when I went up to my bedroom to get dressed and make the bed:


Will it be tears before bedtime?


Not this time!  Like sleeping babies, they look so cute.

Very Bad Babies!

Rather like toddlers and small children, when it goes quiet, that's when you start to worry.

The other day, we had a quiet moment and when I went to investigate this is what I found. Hubby keeps a bag of bonios in a bag in the utility room that he uses when he walks other people's dog - these are stored on the second wall shelf in the utility room (about 4 feet above the floor)..  I'm not sure where the bag was, but Scully was nabbing the biscuits and squirreling them under the kitchen units and Mulder was hiding his behind the freezer.  I suspect they managed to store half the bag.

You have to understand that Mulder can not get his chubby stuff under the kitchen units, so Scully has an amazing stash that is all hers.  The behind the freezer storage space is a free for all.

You have to have lightening fast reflexes when handling ferrets. On another day, as I was collecting ferret treats to hide around the lounge and dining room (they love that), I saw Scully had one of her cuddly toys , which she was trying to squirrel away underneath the kitchen units. She was nearly in there, when Whoosh! I scooped her up and nabbed the toy.  That was a close shave.

Re-invigorated!

Last weekend, I attended my penultimate weekend course at Urchfont - C&G Hand Knitted Textiles Summer School.  Don't get me started on the wisdom of Wiltshire County Council's (the Conservative wing) that are selling off their only jewel in the Wiltshire crown of residential adult education. Rant over.

Along with 5 other students in various stages of their journey to certification, we worked incredibly hard, most especially our tutor, Fiona Morris.  That woman is truly amazing.  I learned so much.  Let's list some of the things I learned.

  1. How to add a new colour at the end of the row without knots and that doesn't create a hole.
  2. The processes needed for designing knitted items.  Key message here... Swatch, Swatch, Swatch! Document every step with drawings, swatches and notes -  yarns used include fibre type, stitch pattern source (i.e. more is best).  Use the premise that if you need to reproduce this again in 5 years, could you easily do it from the notes you made.
  3. Using folded paper cutting techniques we learned as children are fantastic for creating colourwork designs.  A couple ladies made some awesome looking lizards!  I need to work that on out.
  4. That 7 heads are better than one.  When you're stuck, discuss it with your fellow students and tutor.  In five minutes you're back on track.
  5. Even making mistakes improves your progress.  Add them to your portfolio with notes of where you went wrong.  You'll remember better so as not to repeat that mistake.
  6. Photo editing software is great for creating stitch/texture patterns  to incorporate into your designs.  
  7. You really need to wash and steam your swatches as you would for an item you create from that swatch (when I washed by samples made over the weekend, I learned the wool bloomed quite a bit - I used Eucalan).  I now want to remove the samples I already added to my portfolio as it's rather obvious that I did NOT wash them.  An important lesson learned.
  8. I need to get another book shelf to hold the new source books I learned about. Yikes!
The list can go on and on.  I was so invigorated and the momentum has continued.  I'm still on Activity 1, for Module 1, however it's my choice to document many more than the 6 required for casting on and casting off.  I've done 3 more cast on samples with two more to go and then I'll call it quits for the moment.

I'm currently rather stumped by the German Twist cast on.  I found another tutorial on the Internet.  I'll try that today.  This new one demonstrates the steps more easily by using two colours.

I have one more I'd like to add to my portfolio - Maine Cast on.  I only have a video for that one, so I'll need to write it down as well.

I want to investigate the other possibilities for casting off.  Determine which to add and do some more swatching.

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