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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The weekend starts here

Yes, I know it's only Tuesday but what with taking tomorrow off work and getting a train after work this evening I really have no idea what day it really is. I'm in London to see my sister and niece and my Mum is here too (and Dad's coming tomorrow). Felix listed the required ingredients for a good weekend in her last post and I should have a few of those. I've got people I love, knitting (the Olympic sweater), not sure about the ales (though I do have a glass of white wine sitting by the laptop at the moment), and if the weather's nice tomorrow we're off to a farm.

Happy weekend everyone - whenever you get around to having it!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Knitting Olympics - day #10

We're talking to Liz now who's aiming for a gold medal in the two week sweater reknitting event.

So Liz, this is your first attempt at knitting a whole sweater in two weeks, nervous?

Well, I've been training hard. Last month I knit a much larger size sweater in just under three weeks.

There are just over 6 days to go, are you confident about completing on time?

I've finished the body up to the armholes and I'm 7.5 inches into the first sleeve. From here the target's looking very achievable.

And you're working with yarn that's been ripped out once, are you worried about any difference in gauge between that and the yarn that hasn't been ripped?

Well now I am! Still I'm pretty strong at blocking and I'm sure it's nothing that a good soak won't even out. Now I really have to get on I'm afraid.

Just one more question ...

Oh for goodness sake, can't you see I'm on a schedule here?

We just wanted to know ... OK, we're going ... you can put the needle down. Well that was Liz, obviously very focussed on her sweater. Later we'll be going over to the sock knitting arena to see if the GB team can break that Olympic record but right now it's off to the slopes for the freestyle crochet.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Marathon girl - Week #5

Day #7 - long run

Distance: 15.74 miles
Time: 02:11:15 hours
Average time (per mile): 08:20 minutes

This week's run was a lot less complicated than last week's and considerably more scenic. 5.5 miles out along the A44, 4.5 miles around Blenheim Great Park, and 5.5 miles back again. I wasn't completely sure of the mile points, as has a nasty habit of adjusting the figures when you save your run, and suspected that we might have been heading out a bit on the fast side but both Kate and I were staggered when we looked at the end time. At this rate there should be no problem with achieving my aim of a sub 4 hour time. Luckily my next long run isn't for two or three weeks as my legs felt like they were about to drop off at the hips by the end of the run.

Once I'd recovered (thanks to a bath and copious quantities of tea, toast, and Nutella) I headed back out to Blenheim to enjoy the afternoon sunshine. I managed over an hour of sitting and knitting and listening to the footy on the Olympic sweater on the Water Terrace before retreating inside for more tea and to get some feeling back into my fingers. The body is now done (hurrah) and I'm several rounds into the cuff of the first sleeve. That Olympic gold medal is still a possibility.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Rip back and think of GB

I finally sucked it up and ripped out the original, over-sized EZ hybrid sweater whilst watching the women's curling (GB vs. Russia) this evening. I'm down to the last ball of new yarn for the reknit and I knew there was a chance I'd have to reskein, soak, and hang the ripped out yarn and I didn't want to run out of yarn before it was dry.

Thanks to the ball winder and the fact that it was a seamless sweater the whole process was fairly painless. Physically painless, that is. I'm sure I'll bear the emotional scars for years to come. No, I'm kidding. There was an initial wrench as I picked out the darned-in end of the neck band but really I'm so far along on the new sweater that I don't mind too much.

yarn doughnut

I was right about having to reskein and soak this stuff though. Check out the sproinginess. It would be like trying to knit with phone cable.


I'll post an update on my Knitting Olympics project tomorrow.

But is it good enough ...

In celebration of the return of Masterchef and under an injunction from the boyfriend to eat up the green beans in the fridge I made this salad for dinner tonight. I even improved it a bit with some prosciutto leftover from the weekend.

green bean salad

I am so excited about the return of Masterchef. I love the cookery but it's mainly the characters. Not only the amateur chefs and their insane food combinations but John and Greg too. I love how they have yelled conversations like they're talking from opposite sides of the room, rather than six inches apart and I'll be taking a drink whenever they come out with any of their catchphrases "I could eat three of those" (Greg), "Let's cook!" (John), and the perennial favourite "but is it good enough for the quarter-final of Masterchef?"

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A flat failure

Pancake fail

I don't know what happened because I'm usually pretty good at pancakes but last night's batch were more or less a disaster. This one was the only presentable one of the bunch and even it started to fall apart when I flipped it. I obviously should have followed Petit Filoux's example and had a run through at the weekend. It might have been that I combined my melted butter with the flour before mixing it into the batter (in an attempt to stop it solidifying as usually happens) or just that I'm out of practice as I usually make the equally delicious, but less technically demanding American style pancakes. I can't even have another try this evening as the boyfriend wouldn't approve - something about today being the first day of Lent and all.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

More than football, more than anything else

I found a great card for the boyfriend in John Lewis.

More than football

And it's true! I even videoed the live cup game between Bolton Wanderers and Tottenham to watch "as live" later on so that we could go for a nice walk and cup of tea at Blenheim this afternoon instead. I'm so happy that the palace is open again after the winter break. I'm looking forward to many more cuppas on the Water Terrace as the weather gets warmer.

The boyfriend and I don't make a huge big deal of V day (at least we try not to get sucked into the rampant commercialism of it all) but we had a nice dinner from M&S and some lovely champagne which was a pressie from my parents and we're going to watch Cyrano de Bergerac later which is both extremely funny and heart-breakingly sad. Anyway, I have a few Valentines links for y'all.

I just this minute came across the Missed Connections blog via Cast-On (thank you Brenda). This is so sweet and beautifully drawn.

I have loved xkcd (even if I don't get all, ok any, of the maths jokes) since I first came across it on Language Log (thank you linguistics geeks) and especially these four* Valentine's cartoons.

Finally go to Fat Orange Cat Studio if you want to know what cats do for Valentine's day.

Happy Valentine's day to all of you!!

[ETA: btw this is post number 500! Thanks for reading, I've really enjoyed blogging to all of you.]

[Also ETA: I just found another link for you. Apparently the boyfriend was looking for ukelele songs (no, really).]

* originally this read "two" but then I kept finding more of them!

Now we are thirty - #2

pressies mosaic

I don't think anyone ever had such lovely crafty friends. Clockwise from the top left are:

500 cupcakes & muffins from Kathrin - I think she's just hoping that the boyfriend will start bringing the cupcakes that we can't eat into work!
Machine stitched owl from Ellen.
Handmade beaded fuschia earrings from Jenny.
Crocheted brooch on a handknit heart cushion from Mikal.
Pink glass dotty earrings from Helen.
Handmade cards drawn by Kathrin's girls - I feel they have a future in the quirky greetings card market.

picnic bag mosaic

After our lengthy conversations about packed lunches on the way back from Woolfest in the summer Felix decided that I needed the ultimate picnic bag. If you read Felix's blog you might have noticed that she tends to play down her sewing skills with typical modesty but this is a beautiful piece of work. The outer fabric is an Amy Butler fabric in a lovely fresh green and the lining is some leaf patterned oil cloth. I'm incredibly impressed with the neatness of the stitching as I've heard that oil cloth can be really tricky to sew. The bag has two handy pockets on the outside and was packed with handy picnic stuff including a one-person vacuum flask (which will be filled only with hot water), two mini tupperware containers, a napkin, a biscuit box, a heart-shaped cookie cutter, and a freezer pack in its own little bag. I was absolutely stunned when I opened this and saw all the lovely things that Felix had filled it with.

Thank you so much to all my lovely friends who celebrated my birthday with me on Monday!

Now we are thirty - #1

Guess who had a "round number" birthday last Monday! I'm going to do this a little bit in reverse as although I received some lovely gifts from my family the weekend before my birthday, and some fabulous pressies from my amazing crafty friends on my birthday I think that they should wait until I have some decent light for photography (although if you want a sneak peek check out the fabulous bag that Felix made for me here).

Instead I thought I'd share a present that I received yesterday from the boyfriend's lovely sister, Clare. Clare was very apologetic that she hadn't had time to wrap it but I have no problem whatsoever in receiving a gift wrapped in a John Lewis bag (so long as the contents actually come from that emporium of joy).

Odd Bods by Donna Wilson


This is such a cute book and it's not one that I would normally buy for myself (it's been some time since I bought a pattern book that didn't contain baby patterns to knit for my niece) so it's lovely to receive it as a gift.

Check out some of the crazy critters you can knit.


I love all the raccoon-fox guys and I know Felix has a soft spot for the Ginge Marmalade cat.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Marathon girl - Week #4

Day #6 (long run)


Distance: 13 miles
Time (total): 01:49:48 hours
Average time (per mile): 08:26 minutes


Distance: 13 miles
Time (total): 01:55:00 hours
Average time (per mile): 08:50 minutes

I'm not completely sure which of the above times is correct. Kate, who planned the route, thought that we'd reached 13 miles at the turning for Squitchey Lane but when I mapped it out later the route only went up to 12.5 miles at that point. The problem is that we took such a convoluted path around Oxford that I can't completely remember where we went! It's not a bad time either way and the second time certainly looks more plausible but I'd love the first one to be correct so I've emailed Kate for a clarification on the route. We'd have made an even better time I think on a flatter route (I can't believe she made me run up Headington hill twice) although I'm sure that the slower pace on the ups is at least partly balanced out by the assistance from gravity on the way back down again.

Citius, Altius, Fortius

I'm so excited that the Knitting Olympics are underway. I will be reknitting my brother's birthday sweater, an EZ seamless hybrid raglan, (which turned out just a leetle on the large size) as my challenge. The original sweater took three weeks to complete so reknitting it in two is a geniune challenge - at least I know it will be smaller, hey.

I have been training like the dickens. All those hours of knitting stockinette in the round mean that by now my magic loop technique is nearly flawless and I've knit 5 turned hems in the past month. The only thing that fazes me now is the thought of ripping back all this!

EZ seamless hybrid sweater

Maybe a job for during the football tomorrow.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Marathon girl - Week #3

Day #7 (long run)

Distance: 12 miles
Time (total): 01:47:36 hours
Average time (per mile): 08:57 minutes

You might be wondering what happened to week #2, well me too. On Tuesday I went running with one of the fast guys from the club. We ran around 5.8 miles in 45:19 minutes, I think that's the fastest I've run over any distance in my life. Wednesday the boyfriend and I went out for our anniversary dinner and had rather a lot to drink. I had a day off on Thursday (hangover + dentist) and then I went down with a cold which wiped out the rest of the week! Anyway I made up last week's missed 12 miler this weekend which puts me back on track. I had a great run - fantastic conditions, cool, damp, grey and still - and made a pretty good time. It would have been even better if I'd not had to run up a massive great hill, twice (there and back) - still there's really no way of running 12 miles in Bolton without going uphill! Best of all no morons in cars, just friendly cyclists and other runners.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

A big thank you.. the tosser who yelled something at me from the passenger seat of the black Peugeot that passed me at 40mph or so during my run this morning. The resulting anger gave me a nice andrenalin boost up the rest of the hill and my imagined revenge fantasy, consisting of catching the car up at the lights, asking him to repeat what he said, and then pouring the contents of my feed bottle into his lap, kept me mentally occupied for the next half mile or so. Really, what kind of person sees a female runner up ahead and deliberately winds down their window just to hurl unintelligible remarks (I really didn't catch a word of what he said but it was no doubt offensive) at them? It's aggressive, bullying behaviour and I'm sick of it. If I want to go training in shorts or tights or a cropped vest I will. It's none of their business to comment on it (either verbally or by means of their car horn) and they'd better hope I never catch them at the lights.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Alternative uses for a swatch in the round - #1

Takeaway coffee cosy.

Alternative use for a swatch in the round

I have got to make a couple of these for real - though maybe in a colour that won't show spilled hot chocolate quite so much as this would!

btw this is a perfect way to block that swatch in the round too.

I can't wait for the Olympics

Literally can't wait. I had intended to use the Sublime Angora Merino which I scored at the yarn swap last Saturday to be my Knitting Olympics or Ravelympics, or whatever we're referring to them as, project. For those of you not familiar with the concept, during the winter Olympics (after all knitting really is a winter sport) knitters all over the globe will be casting on in their chosen event and trying to complete their projects before the closing ceremony in just over three week's time.

The trouble is, I'm missing my sweater. You'd think that after three weeks of stockinette in the round, knitting in every possible minute* in order to keep on schedule, not knitting on any other project, I'd be quite keen for a change, but no! Last night I cast on for the swatch in the round (pre-competition swatching is allowed, it's like training), washed it, dried it, did the maths, and cast-on. I just couldn't help it.

Seamless hybrid swatch

I'm now 8 rounds into the turned picot edging of the sweater and I'm really looking forward to my train journey later this afternoon - three and a half solid hours of stockinette in the round. Of course I will look like a walking fluff ball afterwards - even as you knit it the bunny fibre wafts off the yarn in little white puffs - I so should not have worn black jeans today!

* my dentist and I seriously discussed whether I could knit whilst he was replacing my filling. He seemed quite keen on the idea but I really didn't want him distracted during that job! I did, however, knit in the chair whilst the anaesthetic was taking effect.