Tuesday, March 25, 2008

What I did on my Easter Holiday

No prizes for guessing where I spent the Easter weekend.

Yep, that's right. Saturday afternoon was spent in the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff watching the Tigers go through to the finals of the EDF Cup.

We've been to matches in Cardiff a number of times before but this is the first time they've played the game with the roof open. It was great, much better than with it closed. The weather for our game was lovely if cold, but during the second game (Saracens v. Ospreys) it snowed some.

We didn't stay at the Hilton this year but at the Holiday Inn which was pretty good and the view from the window was spectacular.

It was a great weekend made even better by the fact that the Tigers won a game which I seriously thought they could lose. It was a hell of a game too, nip and tuck all the way.

I realise that I don't have a huge number of readers who are interested in rugby (well, I don't have a huge number of readers at all!) so here's a picture of my BFF socks which are coming on nicely. I'm still enjoying them hugely, and am getting on okay with the cables without a cable needle.

Yesterday we went to visit my other sister and went over to see how the sheep were getting on with lambing. Here are two who had got disowned by their mum. We brought them home to be bottle reared. I did some other stuff so if anyone asks me what I did on Easter Monday I can casually say "Oh, I helped castrate some lambs". I wasn't involved with the business end though, I just helped to hold them! I think both these two are girls.

I also waded through, how can I put this, ummm, cowshit to help feed the cattle. Luckily I'd been able to borrow a pair of wellingtons. I did smell a bit of sheep and pooh by the time I'd finished, but it makes a change.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Cookie A

Warning: the following post contains descriptions of some of the more unpleasant realities of a truck drivers life. Those of a sensitive disposition may not wish to read the last few paragraphs of the post!

I've never really thought much about a "favourite designer"; not being a "designer clothes" kind of gal it didn't seem something that was particularly relevant to me. Last weekend though I suddenly realised that I'd enjoyed knitting Pomatomus, Hedera and Monkey and that they were all designed by the same person; Cookie A. I wondered what else she'd done that I might enjoy knitting so via Ravelry I went to her website to have a look.

The pattern that I found was the BFF socks (BFF stands for Best Friend Forever; that's who she originally made them for). So I printed off the pattern to get started. I'd bought some cygnet 4ply single colour sock wool from Texere Yarns the last time I was there which I thought would be perfect for showing off the cable pattern. I decided that they were probably a tad complicated to take with me in the truck so I started a plain vanilla pair of "travelling sock" on Monday night but on Thursday when I was home and recovered from this week's run (tell you later) I cast on for the BFF.

Well it's been a while since my knitting has made me smile whilst I'm doing it, but I was this morning. I love a simple pattern that you can enjoy watching as it develops under your fingers and this certainly does that. I'm using it to teach myself to cable without a cable needle which may not have been a wise move using 2.25 mm needles (think I may need bi-focals) but what the heck.

So I think I may put Cookie A on my (brand new) list of favourite designers for inventive and interesting sock patterns. I may even have a look at other things that she's designed.

I managed to get a fair bit of my "plain vanilla" sock knitted this week as I had a bit of trouble sleeping on Tuesday night. Anyone who regularly reads my blog will know that this is very unusual. I get up at two am on a Tuesday morning and work a fifteen hour day driving and unloading my truck in the Bristol area. Come bedtime (about 8-00 pm) I'm ready to drop.

This week I parked up at the service station on the Evesham byepass. It's a bit exposed there but I suspect that I'd have had the same problem wherever I'd parked. I was woken at about eleven o'clock by the truck being buffeted by the seventy mile an hour winds that were sweeping the south west of the country.

The wind dropped briefly at about two and I caught another hour or so of sleep but I woke up again and then didn't get off after that. At four I decided that if the truck was going to blow over I'd rather have my clothes on; didn't fancy having to clamber out in me vest and knickers. So I got dressed, went and got a cup of coffee and sat up most of the rest of the night knitting and listening to the BBC World service on the radio.

I didn't feel like the brightest button in the box the next morning and when I got back on Wednesday I went to bed at eight and slept through till a quarter to seven the following day when the alarm went off for me to go back to work again.

Minor rant
I was deeply p!ssed off on Wednesday when I stopped at the service station at junction 2 of the M42. I pulled into the truck park, got down from the truck and looked to see where I had to go to get a cup of coffee and use the loo.

As you can imagine I wasn't best pleased to discover that I'd have to go for a half mile hike to reach the "amenity building" (as it was quaintly titled). You can just see it in the distance (indicated by the arrow in the picture).

One of the most unpleasant parts of driving a truck is the fact that the truck stops reek in the summer because (male) drivers have a tendency to relieve themselves against the wheel of their truck rather than bothering to use the toilets. On Wednesday I felt like doing the same!! Unfortunately it's a bit of an unfeasible trick so I had to bite the bullet and take a hike. I had a quarter of an hour break which was completely taken up by walking over, using the loo, buying a cup of coffee and walking back. Had to drink it whilst driving along! Of course car drivers can park right in front of the building. Who designs these bloody places?

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Scouring longwool

I spent most of yesterday (on and off) attempting to scour part of the Wensleydale fleece that Ro and I bought at Woolfest last year. It's been languishing in a plastic sheep feed sack (no not feed for plastic sheep; don't be smart) in Ro's garage. But I asked her to bring it to the match last weekend so I could have a go at scouring a longwool fleece.

You can see how it looked when I pulled it out of it's sack. I've seen cleaner fleeces but I would imagine it's pretty tricky keeping these babies clean with hair in lovely long ringlets. It's pretty greasy too; more so I'd think than the other fleeces I've processed at home. I decided to try the technique that the Yarn Harlot detailed on her blog here.

I won't go into a great deal of detail here as she does it so much better but it involves a roasting tin and the hob of the cooker and BIG LOTS OF WATER!

It wasn't an unqualifed success. As you can see there's still a quantity of crud left on the tips in places, but the bits that did come clean are absolutely gorgeous.

This is a close up of the butt ends; which did come clean. It's like angels hair and positively gleams in the light.

Here's a few locks that I combed out. I've subsequently read about another technique for scouring fleeces to maintain the structure of the locks on Spinning Spider Jenny's blog. So I may give that a try next time. Whichever method I use I reckon I need to spend more time teasing out the tips than I did this time.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Hurrah, back online!!

So I've been without t'internet from Monday to Friday (bet nobody even noticed) and I still don't know why. At first I thought it was my service provider but Thursday evening I replaced the new router with the old modem and all was well. Put the router back and nada again. It wasn't the wireless that was the problem as I tried the PC (which the router is plugged in to) as well as the laptop and still nothing. Friday morning I tried it again and BINGO, all was well again.

Sometimes I hate technology.

Have to say that I miss the Internet when it's not there. I'm on a couple of message boards and like to think that my rude comments (must learn to control my more acerbic inclinations) are appreciated by some if not all the contributors. Have had to spend the week being rude to real people instead!

On the fibre front I continue to spin, and spin, and spin, (and card a bit) and spin. Sunday I may do some more plying having spun three more bobbins worth. At least it makes me feel as if I'm doing something productive whilst I'm watching the TV; and I MAY be improving slightly I suppose. I just hope that I'm keeping it fairly consistent with the first batch. I know you're supposed to card the whole lot, then spin the whole lot, then ply the first with the last etc etc etc but No one really does that do they? At least I haven't started knitting yet (though tempted).