Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Something in the water...seriously!

The last couple of days have had some very surreal moments.
On Saturday, myself and HusBeast spent a very cool afternoon in the Hugh Lane Gallery. The collection was together in its entirety for the first time since 1908, which is really a red letter moment. Saturday was the last day of it, so the packing crates were around and about, though everything was still on display.

Tragic to think that a chunk of the collection is now back in various museums around Europe. What is the moral of the story? Make sure you have your will witnessed properly.

Having left the gallery, we ambled around town for a while, and discovered that it wasn't just the curators having a busy day

What I couldn't fit in to this photo were the three other vehicles - two cars and a van - directly in front of these, each with a big yellow clamp as well. Various cliches involving fish in a barrel or ducks in a line sprang to mind.

I came across a most disturbing sight in the local supermarket on Sunday afternoon.

Even though my brave housemate tried to hide it from view, the image of the display was burned into my retinas (gotta love him for trying though!)

Those boxes behind him?

Christmas selection boxes. Fricking Christmas chocolate. In September.

I had applauded their Halloween display a mere 10 metres before, but this just undid it all. While I'm disgusted by it all, my heart really goes out to the legion of parents whose young children spot the offending articles on the weekly shop, and are prompted to start the "is it christmas?/can I have X for christmas?/etc etc etc" routine.

This is the first year that I've seen things so early. It was always tradition that the shops waited til Halloween was over, and the spooky stock sold off before wheeling out the inflatable Santas and reindeer shaped cookies.

Bah and humbug.

The vague and tenuous knitting link in this post? One of my best friends emailled me today to let me know that she's back in the country for the weekend.....and expecting her first!

That brings the number of friends and aquaintances that have had joined the bump club this year to....a scary number that I don't want to think about.

I don't really do much knitting for babies. My schedule is so crazy that no matter what size I choose or how early I start, the little rascals are always growing at a rate that means all they're getting is booties.

I'm going to start planning for this one now though. No idea of gender. Hell, I've known this girl since we were five and she always maintained that she'd rather get another cat than a baby. I was completely blown away to find out that she is twelve weeks along, and delighted to be so. Something nice is called for. Nice and gender neutral.

Will start sussing her out this weekend.

It's almost like being an aunty!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Plotting and scheming

My favourite LYS ever, This Is Knit has opened a second branch. Which I've been to twice already this week. It seems that having a yarn store close enough that I can walk to in my lunchbreak is going to be a dangerous and expensive thing.

Some of the goodies that I picked up there can't be photographed yet, as they're for yarn swap things. I hope the recipients like them, as it's going to be a tough job to put them in the post!

I also picked up a ball of Kilcarra aran tweed, which is one of my favourite yarns in the world.

It's really good value, comes in a fabulous range of colours, and is spun up the road in Donegal to boot. It's great to knit with, but really comes into its own after the first wash - it just comes alive, and is soft and durable.

Aaaanyway, this particular ball is to become a square. It's more exciting than it sounds, honest.
I'm heading to Galway in October for the first Irish Knitters Retreat. As a thank you for the wonderful lady who is letting us take over her B&B for the weekend, we're each making a square, which will be sewn together on the Friday evening.

It has to be 15cm squared. After that, it's anything goes.

I'm thinking cables. Or cable, at least. Something like that. If I was more talented (and less chicken) I'd do something in fair isle. I'm going to have a rummage through some books for inspiration this evening, and hopefully get a good start on it on Sunday when - if all goes to plan - HusBeast will be putting together a chest of drawers for us.

The weather here is changing rapidly. A rather blatent sign of this is the postman making his door to door journey in a car, instead of on foot as usual. The evenings are getting darker too. The clock isn't going back an hour for more than a month, but the light is starting to fade much faster, and it will be well on the way to getting dark when I get off the train at home.

I love autumn.

October is probably my favourite month, and not just because it's got my birthday involved in it. The weather is generally dry, the nights are properly dark, and some of my favourite things are wheeled out again for another year; open fires, hot whiskeys, scarves, jumpers, stews, things with cinnamon in them. It's all warm and comfortable and reassuring, like a well used pair of slippers. There's a much more settled feeling than during summer, and the frantic feeling of having to be in many places at once seems to relax for that short period before the Christmas merchandise hits the shops.

Having ample opportunity to wear big, thick handknitted socks is also an incentive!

On an entirely unrelated matter...is there anyone out there who pays for Flickr?
I'm getting the "you have x photo's left" line off them at the moment, and am not sure if I want to pay the $25 a year, or if I should be stingy and just set up another account.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Slow down, you move too fast

Dinner out last night was rather relaxed, and involved eating steak and drinking Guinness in a pub that serves food. I don't want to say "pub food", because it wasn't deep fried and in a basket. I also don't like gastro-pubs, as they tend to be over priced and amazingly pretentious considering that they're still in essence just beer halls.

A little knitting got done on the train home as well.

I'm liking this yarn a lot. Yes, it pools like mad, but it has the graciousness to do it in a cool way, so that I have spirals of colour wrapping around my foot. The stitch definition is fricking fantastic as well. I hope that will hold up after several washes because it would be a pity to see it fade. The colour is wonderfully saturated, and there's a nice twist on the yarn as well.

Downsides? It's kinky. Not in a good way either. The short-ish stretch of yarn between my project bag and my needles kinks like crazy, and involves de-kinking it on a regular basis to avoid knots.

Apart from that, it's all going well!

True, progress is slow these days. I'm just not getting in enough knitting time these days. Working from home was spectacular in that regard. I could happily knit while answering emails and during those quiet few minutes that happen here and there over the course of the day. Making dinner involved walking downstairs to the kitchen.

Now I get up around seven, am out the door before eight, and am not home again til nearly seven in the evening. By the time dinner is made and eaten and a few basic tasks are done, it's almost time for bed. It's not the mammoth commute that a lot of people have, I realise, but I really need to rethink things a bit. How else am I going to knit my way through my queue?!

Perhaps I just need to be a bit more disciplined. Instead of slapping on the iPod and snoozing on the train to work, I need to break out the sock. Considering the number of pairs of socks on the horizon, I can guarantee there will be one in progress in my bag from now til.....I don't want to think when.

This weekend is a don't-have-to-do-anything-really weekend. The plan, then, is to finish the sock above, and my one skein wonder, and get cracking properly on HusBeast's second sock before he stages a protest.

Nothing too challenging, you may think, but setting too many goals leads to panic, and panic leads to haste, and next thing you know you're driving like a crazy person and have part of a tree dragging behind you...

...or at least that's what I've learned from the driver of this van.

The things I see on the way to work in the morning, I'll tell ya!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The week that was....crazy.

I have survived the lurgy!!!

Well, mostly. There are still bits hanging around, like the odd sock or hair accessory you find under the sofa cushions a month after having friends over.

The last week, in Cliff notes version, then.

On Sunday there was the discovery of Erdinger Oktoberfest beer(bier) in my local supermarket.

....and it was consumed. Amazingly yummy. Even better than last year's offering.

On Monday, I went to ballet like a good girl, and had food with HusBeast afterwards in the new Chinatown that's developing in Dublin.

When I got home....my Wollmeise package had arrived. The photos are crap, but I felt the need to capture the moments.

Tuesday saw myself and HusBeast meeting some of our friends from Belfast to go and see The Mighty Boosh (which was fricking awesome) and on to the aftershow party, which I managed to swing tickets to.

Wednesday was when things started to go wrong. Having sensibly booked the day off, and crawled out of bed shortly before noon, I was feeling a little under the weather. I put it down to being "old" and not able for staying out til 4am anymore.
We met a friend in town and went for a wander in the National Museum, which is always a good thing. I love the porcelain tiles in the door frames.

We headed to Starbucks for coffee, at which point I promptly fell asleep in an armchair. We eventually got home, I somehow managed to finish off my first Galaxy sock,

and then collapsed into bed.

On Thursday, I was sent home from work early, and this is my first day back since. My mail accounts are spilling over, and I'm f5'ing on my bank's website because they haven't processed my salary yet.

Damn them.

It has been an odd week overall, I think. Full of events and non-events. Lots of time spent on the sofa drinking hot lemon and being a mucus monster. It was like a 4 day hangover without the craving for a rasher sandwich.

HusBeast's jobhunt mostly came to a halt this week as well. He finally got called for an interview, and 2 hours later got a further call to ask if he could start on Monday. It's not a career by any stretch of the imagination, but it pays and is a damn sight better than dishing out chips to ungrateful customers at Maccy D's.

The really big thing though isn't the fact that he's getting a paycheque again though. It's that he's no longer going out of his mind in the house, thinking that he's terminally unemployable.

I won't object to getting staff discount on books and Lego when Christmas shopping time rolls around either!

It also looks quite a bit more likely that he'll be able to make it over to my work party at head office in December. Here's hoping!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Sock puppet

I can't believe that I "kinneared" my own sock on the train this morning, but I did.
The things I do for my readers :)

I'm about to start the cuff ribbing, so sock one should be done and dusted this weekend. Huzzah. I like it when a plan comes together.

Unlike my thus far fruitless plan to buy frozen puff pastry. All the usual deli type places that I'd expect to have it, like Fallon and Byrne no longer stock it. I'll probably end up finding it in the corner shop near my house, just to drive me further up the wall.

If it was shortcrust, I'd just make it myself. Puff is a pain in the arse though, as it involves putting lots of dots of butter in between two sheets of pastry, then rolling it out, folding it over on itself and adding more butter dots, and repeating until the maker loses the will to live. Not something I have either the time or the inclination for this evening. I shall be doing much more important things like making brownies and drinking wine. Too right.

Today was made even more weekend-tastic by the arrival of the postman this morning.

Pictured is my new Ravelry tote bag and a copy of the new Terry Pratchett book, which is actually a present for HusBeast. Shhh!

Yeah, I'm on a book diet, and yeah, I really can't afford to be buying random stuff at the moment, but I did it anyway. Minus one gold star for me.

A weekend of baking, ice cream making and meeting with friends is stretching before me. The weather is even picking up, which is worthy of celebration!

The important question of the day is...do I move on to his second sock, or finish off this baby?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Winter arrives early

We're in month two of Autumn, and Winter already seems to be trying to assert control.
Now I know that it rains most days, but I think the most telling factor (apart from my plans to go and buy some rain gear next week) is

This is the Rainy Day Scarf that I knitted last year, and it has been brought out of storage already. It is one of the snuggliest things ever, and does a stellar job of keeping errant raindrops from finding my cleavage. Nothing wakes you up faster in the morning than a cold, fat drop of rain smacking into an unsuspecting boob!

I was twice as glad of it this morning when I crawled out of bed. The play last night was great, but meant that we didn't get back to the in laws house (where we were staying) til after midnight, at which point we were both overcome with the munchies and had to rustle up some tea and toast.

Today I'm a little rough around the edges as a result.
I've also been booked in to make the birthday cake of one of the girls in the office. We always have cake in the meeting room on a birthday, which is a great tradition I think. The bakery that we normally buy our cakes from has gone rapidly downhill of late though. We recently discovered that they don't even bake their own bread - they buy it in, ready sliced in bags! What the hell?!

A lot of baking will be done this weekend, methinks.
Perhaps I can justify some new tins as a result?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Breakfast of champions.

The weather is improving slightly. By which I mean that I didn't get soaked to the skin on the way to work this morning. I even had time to stop and smell the roses...

...or whatever these not-roses are.

Today is turning into a lazy day, and it's not even 10am. I didn't have the energy to go to the shop once I discovered the lack of milk in the office, so this morning saw me mainlining coffee and millionaire's shortbread. Tasty, but I'm waiting for the sugar crash already.

My calves are still aching from ballet on Monday. Not that I'd admit this to anyone....apart from whoever reads this...yeah....
It's going well though. Two classes in and I'm doing better than I was after three years of it in Waterford. A little confidence goes a long way, it seems!

Last night I had dinner cooked for me, which was a major novelty, and a delicious one at that. The evening then involved playing some cards, chatting about everything and anything, and getting some work done on the Galaxy sock.

HusBeast has requested that I keep knitting until I run out of yarn. That means that each sock will have 210m (230 yards) of yarn in it. I may go blind. It seems that he's expecting there to be two socks in the pair as well. Men!

I am liking the way the yarn is patterning though.It might not be to everyones taste, but I think it's kind of funky.

My STR sock is coming along as well, but very slowly. Mostly I get a couple of rounds done on the train before I doze off, needles in hand. I am not a morning person, especially once the evenings and mornings are darkening. The exception is if there's somewhere fun to go the next day. I can be up at 5am, all bright eyed and bushy tailed if I'm going on holidays or something. On a "school" morning, it's all I can do to crawl out of bed at 7.30am...

This evening has somehow managed to turn from plans for a bit of entertainment to a casual date night. I'll be leaving work at 5pm, and HusBeast will be waiting for me. We'll make our way to Wagamama's for some food, then on to the main event.


Friday, September 05, 2008

May the road rise to meet you

Another weekend creeps up and slaps me 'round the back of the head. It's almost as naive as being surprised to be rained on as I walked to work this morning.

For all my "going to knit night" talk yesterday, I failed to make my way to Blackrock. Mostly I blame HusBeast and Nugely. I was planning on saying hello to them briefly after work, then heading off. Instead I ended up knitting up a storm in the pub, with a seemingly bottomless pint of Guinness in front of me. Overall, not a bad evening!

I did manage to get the heel turned on the Galaxy sock for HusBeast

He's happy with them, at least. Or will be once he gets to wear them. He was even evangalising in the pub last night. I was asked the magic question "why would you be bothered knitting socks, ffs?". Before I had a chance to answer, he jumped in with "handmade socks rock. Get with the programme!".

It's amazing how something like that can encourage you to knit faster!

Well, I'm hitting the road in a few minutes and visiting my parents and cat for the weekend. I've actually remembered to bring a measuring tape, which is a good thing. I've been comissioned to do a few handknits, so getting people's stats would be a very good start.

Being paid to knit! How fricking cool is that!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Tinned meat

I was rather thrilled and flattered to log on to my email this morning and see many, many blog comments. I was slightly confused, and a little irrated when they all turned out to be spam. Spam in the form of poetry, but still spam.

Does anyone else remember that episode of Clarissa Explains It All where Clarissa and Sam were conducting chemistry experiments using the "gooky stuff off the outside of spam"?

My mind is working in some strange days today. I blame it entirely on the fact that I completely overslept this morning, resulting in having to get from bed to front door in ten minutes. Things have been a little fuzzy on the edges ever since.

That, and my experience with scary Dora last night.

This is scary Dora. She is no ordinary Dora doll.
Take a look at the photo on the bottom right of the box. That's a 5 year old girl standing beside this ginormous doll. Age on box says 3+, but I think that all this doll would so is scare the living daylights out of the average toddler. Sure there's endless comic potential, but really....it creeps me out. Kind of like the Good Guy dolls, only bigger.

Moving swiftly along...

Tonight is Knit Night in This is knit. To avoid the risk of being thought of as the crazy lady who only knits socks, I've brought something else along this time.

This was my train knitting this morning. A little cumbersome, but I really want to get this thing done soon. Time is not entirely on my side. It's another of the genius One Skein Wonders from Stefanie Japel - the difference this time is that I'm turning it into a vaguely long sleeved number.

The yarn is the delicious Dyed Cotton from Blue Sky Alpacas. It's heavenly. I didn't think it was possible for cotton to be such a pleasure to knit with. It comes in some fabulous colourways as well. This particular lot was bought in Purl Soho at the beginning of the year. I got three skeins, which is perfect for making the long sleeved OSW with. Might even have enough left for a calorimetry.

While the dyed cotton is now available over here in Europe, like many other American yarns it is stupidly expensive compared to retail price in the States. This vexes me. I am a big "support your LYS" person, but it can be hard at times when it's literally half the price for me to order and have it delivered from the U.S.

I realise that all LYSs need to turn a healthy profit in order to keep being a LYS and not another empty building. That goes without saying. I also realise that shipping large boxes of yarn to another continent is expensive, as are import duties. (Books, in my experience, have exactly the same problem). Something is not balancing somewhere along the line.

My mother had her own business for years. Some of the stock that she was buying cost her more at wholesale prices than I saw it on retail shelves in New York. I'm not talking a few cents either.

Is tax really to blame for the discrepancy?
If it is, then the government are getting a bloody ginormous slice of the pie, aren't they?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Truth, as we know it

To say that I've never had a more tiring 4 day weekend would probably be true. To say that it was absolutely made of pure WIN would also be the case.

Friday morning saw myself and HusBeast heading off on a coach to Electric Picnic. Now I don't usually do music festivals, as I'm past the stage where I think wasted 16 year olds are "cute", but that would be implying that EP was just a music festival. Fact is, it's a million times better.

Over the course of the weekend, we saw only a handful of bands. We checked out Oppenheimer, The Gossip, Franz Ferdinand and The Sex Pistols. What did we actually get up to?

There was an arthouse cinema....a theatre

...various places where you could strut your stuff, including

You could have your aura cleansed, get a massage, go to yoga, learn how to insulate your house using hemp and reduce your carbon footprint, eat at organic and solar powered tea rooms. It was like a music and arts festival at a hippy commune, but with less sweat and patchouli than you'd expect. There was a carnival with side shows, and the coolest "circus" in the world

in the form of Lucent Dossier.

To be honest, I could have spent the whole weekend there, not seen any bands, and still not have gotten around to everything. I even got some knitting done

Sock for HusBeast in Regia Galaxy, which is pretty cool. The fabulous Lisa of This Is Knit brought along enough supplies to keep even the most finicky fibre fanatic busy, and knitting classes were held over the weekend.

One of the coolest events of the weekend was the Temple of Truth.

This fabulous structure was created for the weekend. Anyone passing was invited in to look around, take a pen or other writing implement, and add the name of a deceased loved one to the walls. Walking around inside and reading the inscriptions was amazingly touching. It was a point of ultimate serenity in the chaos of the festival; the title of Temple was truly deserved.

In the wee hours of Monday morning, the entire structure was set alight, and burned to the ground.

Now that is art.

Yesterday I managed to drag myself out of bed by the hair and get in to work on time. Nothing short of a minor miracle, as my mother would say. If she could have seen me, I'm sure she'd also have described as a miracle the sheer volume of coffee I was able to plug into my body over the course of the day.

Today is a bit better. Then again, any day that starts with Socks That Rock is a better day than the one before

I realise that this brings me up to three *gasp* WIP's, not including the hibernated cardigan. I have not abandoned the Galaxy socks. They're just at that annoying stage that require measuring every couple of rounds before I can get my heel turning on. Not exactly what I want to be doing on a measuring tape-less train.

The discussion has come up several times - STR versus Collinette Jitterbug. Are the rumours true? Are they basically the same yarn? Considering that I have just started a STR sock, and have large volumes of Jitterbug in my stash, I think that it's time we here at The GaietyGirl Blog conducted a vaguely scientific experiment....

...by which I mean I'll get some compare and contrast going on, complete with pictures. It may not settle the arguement once and for all, but it may help. Plus I'll have two pairs of socks at the end of it, which is never a bad thing.