Friday, 30 April 2010

Missy safe after operation

Bit of a worrying day yesterday, Missy had her operation, I cannot tell you how quiet the house seemed without her once DH took her to the vets. Even though she had a powerful sedative to keep her calm til the operation, Geoff says she was still really interested in the smell of rabbits who were also waiting in a separate cage for operations. All went well and she was back home just before 4pm last night. We have had a pretty sleepless night with her. She doesn't seem to be in any pain as the vet gave her nerve blockers and pain killers as well as antibiotics but she's clearly in a little discomfort so she was fidgety from 2am onwards for the rest of the night (she sleeps on our bed).

Instead of taking a photograph of her a little under the weather and looking daft with the "lampshade" collar she has to wear to stop her licking the wound and unpicking the stitches, I've include a couple of snaps of us taken on holiday last week. Look at the state of my hair(!!); I told you it was windy! And honest, DH isn't attempting to strangle her, she was lovely company on holiday and I'm hoping she'll be back to her normal boundless energy self very soon!

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Sunsets on holiday

I've been quiet on the blogging front last week as we had a holiday a holiday in Bamburgh in Northumberland. We had a lovely week, very calming and restful. I was letting little things get out of proportion before we went, a sure sign that I needed a break. Weather was absolutely great, a couple of odd showers but dry apart from that, though there was a cold North Easterly blowing for some of the time - it's quite close to the Scottish border so we needed to be wrapped up for the walking we did with rests at various pubs with beer gardens so we could take our dog, Missy in. The three of us walked miles, and every evening we were on the beach for the sunset; most of the time, we had the entire beach to ourselves - it was magical.

The above is my favourite sunset picture taken by DH on the camera that he used to use for his architectural photography in the days when he earned his living taking photographs for building companies.

Here are a few more taken as the sun was going down.

(Click on thumbnails to get a larger version).
I think this one that he took of the sunrise is absolutely stunning, the reflected warmth on the rocks near the rock pools is beautiful and the lonely seagull completes a perfect sunrise photograph in my rather biased opinion! I'm afraid I didn't get up early to join DH when he took it though! (Who on earth gets up at 4.30am when they're on holiday?!) He says the seagull was a happy accident, he didn't even notice it when he was taking the shot (I wouldn't have admitted that!)

This one was taken the same day, a little earlier - a great cold sky on this one!

Finally, a couple of Bamburgh Castle lit up at night.

Hope I haven't bored you too much!

Monday, 12 April 2010

Silver recycling

I'm blogging today in praise of Cooksons scrap recovery service. On request, you get a free scrap pot from Cooksons and gradually fill it up. My waste metal from jewellery making is mainly sterling silver and it took the best part of two years to get full; you get a separate pot for each type of metal that you want to recycle.

A couple of weeks ago I sent my sterling silver pot back to Cooksons using their pre-paid service and a few days later, I got a cheque back for over £400! The silver price is relatively high at the moment and so I picked a good time to weigh it in.

The cheque has now cleared and I am having fun deciding what to spend this not-so-little "bonus" on! I've had my eye on a creation station for several months so I may just indulge in one of those. Second on the shopping list is an Ace202 Didymium screen so I don't have to wear my didymium safety glasses over the top of my prescription glasses. I just got new glasses (I'll do a photo of me in them very soon) and the safety glasses don't go over them as well as they did my old rimless ones.

I was actually going for a Sue Perkins look when I picked the frames but they're very similar to Cindy's from Lampwork Diva, the sides are a little different though. I think all three of us have excellent taste in glasses!

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Earrings and almond blossom

There are lots of yellow flowers about at the moment. The flowers have nothing to do with the subject of my title to this post but they look so nice in the lovely weather we're enjoying this weekend, I thought I'd share them. My posting is really about something you've already seen lots of ... my almond blossom jewellery so I thought I'd not bore you with any more photographs of it.

The new jewellery is being well received by customers at my stall, I had a terrific day there yesterday, lovely weather, steady stream of customers and my varifocal glasses crisis has been sorted out at last too.

It's always a little quiet on Grand National day, I don't know why, maybe everyone is saving their money to have a little flutter but most of the shops I went into yesterday were also quiet. Anyway, I'm getting off the point, someone bought one of the Almond Blossom bracelets and was considering a matching pair of earrings as well. I was telling my customer about the inspiration for the beads in the jewellery being a Van Gogh painting and the nearby person (overhearing this) who said "You'll only be wanting the one earring then", shall remain nameless! (Very funny though!) :-)

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Toes up socks it to 'em

When I first got into knitting socks, I thought I knew - and could do - anything that a knitting pattern could chuck at me. Knitting any garment consists of casting on, casting off, increases and decreases and various combinations of knit, purl, slip stitches etc to make patterns on the intermediate fabric of the piece. I was taught to knit at a very young age and continued knitting non-stop through my teens and most of my twenties interspersed with a bit of crochet here and there.

I hadn't reckoned on knitting toe up socks, "Judy's magic cast on"? Whassat?! I did the research on Ravelry and got the how to but I wasn't best impressed with it, there's no tension in the stiches and some worked loose for me, especially the corner ones. Despite practicing and practising it, I had to admit defeat and this method of seamless casting on isn't for me. I found another method on Ravelry using two circular needles but I don't have any so I devised my own method using using my trustee double pointed needles which gives the same seamless effect as Judy's but the stitches are in tension. It has probably been thought of before, I just haven't come across it.

The first pair I made was a basic stocking stitch with a rounded heel which was new to me - all of the many pairs of socks I've knitted have a square heel flap (except one which has another type of heel I don't like). I wasn't sure about the rounded heel but to give me a basic "anatomy of a toe up sock", it was a perfect exercise and I did get a wearable pair of socks at the end of it.

I decided not to let my prejudice against round heels colour my next project which was to use the same basic pattern but incorporate a lacy stitch from one of my shetland lace pattern books. That was a mistake, I didn't realise the lacy pattern wasn't stretchy enough and the sock wouldn't go over my heel! My first ever casualty of one sock syndrome, I put it away and ruefully marked it down to experience.

I went on the hunt for a pattern which had a square heel and found Laura's free Triton socks pattern which was just the thing, Laura's photographs on the pattern showed a nice square heel but the sock had 62 stitches and my usual gauge means a pair of socks to fit me works out at 56 stitches on 2.5mm DPNs.

I got some smaller needles and hoped it would work out. The only change I made was I used a different form of ribbed heel stitch, I guess every experienced sock knitter has their own preferred stitch for their heels. Unfortunately, I chose a yarn with lots of colour changes and the lovely lace in Laura's socks didn't show up well, the pattern made by the yarn was too dominant and overpowered it. However, the socks are a great fit; apart from the poor choice of yarn, these were a big success and I wear them all the time (inbetween washes ...!)

There was yet another new thing in this sock pattern "wrap and turns". Never come across those either but fortunately, a good deal easier to master than Judy's magic cast on :-) Plus casting off - the Russian Bind off - again, never heard of it but it gives a good stretchy, strong edge and again, easy to do! Knitting has really advanced in the years I've been away!

My next pair is the one in the photograph using yarn from the now unpicked doomed shetland lace sock. I had the knowledge of how a toe up sock works and combined Laura's pattern with a tapestry stitch from one of Violet Green's cuff down patterns. This is a really good stitch for yarns with lots of colour changes as the slipped stitches carry the colour from one line of knitting down to the next giving a really nice looking effect. I am now a confident toe up sock knitter and can swap between the two with ease. I really like Violet Green's patterns and her yarns but she only does cuff down ones. Now I have my new knowledge, I can freely adapt them to suit whether I want to go toe up or cuff down. I'm knitting one more pair of the toe up tapestry socks in green at the moment and then I'm going to try my most ambitious pair yet, Violet's Force Five socks. I think I'll have to go cuff down with it the first time I knit it as it looks quite complicated, every row is patterned. I have learnt from my mistake with the Triton socks and chosen a plainer coloured yarn for them.

What all this has taught me is that it just goes to show, you never know it all and you're never too old to learn!

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

SLS and earrings

SLS = serious life stuff. SLS has been dominating the last several days, hence the relative quiet for last couple of weeks. DH is starting a new business which has required some financial re-jigging. A long trip down to Sussex to say goodbye to Uncle Fred, that was sad. Also, some not-so-SLS has been going on with my new varifocal glasses but enough said about that the better - it has just taken up so much flippin' time; being able to see well is really important for me doing so much close up work!

In addition a sudden glut of commissions from my lovely customers visiting my stall; it's brilliant to be so busy but leaves me less time for photographing new work and updating the website and blog so I may not be here much in next couple of days though I do have some toe-up socks I've been meaning to show off for a while!

Whilst I get myself back into gear after a nice bank holiday Sunday and Monday (I just worked on Friday, I cannot take Fridays before a market Saturday off!) I can show you some matching earrings and a bracelet which were made to go with the almond blossom necklace.