Sunday, November 30, 2008

Last Day.

Last day of NaBloPoMo. Strangely enough it doesn't seem to have been quite as difficult to remember to blog this time around. Last year I missed a couple I think. Maybe this time I'm happy to let the most inane ramblings serve as blog "posts"?

Anyhow, thanks for hanging in there, dear readers, and normal "sense" will be resumed month. And thanks for the comments. Somehow it seemed the dafter my ramblings, the more comments I got. Does that say more about me than you, or vice versa?

Happy December when it comes, anyway.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Back from Ingliston and knackered. Talked non-stop for seven hours. Anyone who knows me also knows I could talk for Scotland once I get onto a topic that interests me but even I was at my limit today, lol. Still, we've hopefully raised the public profile of spinning a bit, and got ourselves a few new Guild members as well.

Shopping? Not a lot. I bought Princess some double sided craft sticky tape (she will LOVE it!!) and a needle felted fairy kit for myself. I don't really see myself handing Princess a felting needle just yet....she'd probably felt the cats together or something. I have only made a couple of needle felted items but this kit looks easy enough. Then I can show Princess and we might make more then.

Too tired to blog much tonight though....*yawn*

Friday, November 28, 2008

Planning for the future...and Vikings.

Tonight was a first for this house....Lad planned, did some of the shopping for and cooked the dinner, with only minimal input from me. He even cleared up. He's doing cookery at school now and wants to practise at home too. He's always helped in the kitchen, off and on, but this is the first time he's taken responsibility for a meal. We had French bread pizza, beans and salad with yoghurt for pud. No, it's not haute cuisine, but he's only 12, it was tasty and what's more important I didn't have to make it. He's decided that when possible he's going to make Friday night dinner, or at least help with it. Yeah! Hubby doesn't cook much so I'm pleased to be able to shift another meal onto someone else. I get sick of cooking! And it's good for him to be learning. I think we're having some sort of chicken pasta bake next week.

On the Viking front Princess has come back from school and announced she needs a full Viking girl costume for the class open day next Tuesday. To be fair I'm not totally sure if this was her teacher Mrs P's idea or Princess's, but if it was Mrs P's she knew what she was doing when she chose Princess...or rather generate this outfit. Back in the days that Lad was in her class I ended up making an entire Celtic Warrior outfit from a car rug in under 48 hours, and that included sourcing the rug from a charity shop. Bet she thought she was onto a sure thing when she spotted Princess Fishwife sitting there and remembered I can sew. And also, I'm probably the kind of mother that has supplies of all sorts of scrap materials in their attic.

She's right of course. I'm the mother on the gate that the others hate. Viking outfit in four days? No worries! I have no other life, after all!

(Pictures later. Do you think I've got time to make some tablet woven braid for trim?)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Today I was at the Royal Highland Centre at Ingliston, just outside Edinburgh. I was helping set up the Edinburgh Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers stand for the upcoming Creative Crafts and Gifts for Christmas show. It's on this Friday, Saturday and Sunday and I'll be helping on the stand all day Saturday so if you're there come please do come and say hello. I'll be demonstrating spinning and talking most of the day I expect. I did two part days last year and thoroughly enjoyed myself, and we got some new recruits to the Guild as well. There are a lot of excellent stands covering a number of crafts, and for the knitters amongst you Black Sheep Wools were setting up their 50% off Yarn Mountain just as I left today. (No, I did not buy anything. I am on a yarn diet!)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Just to show that some knitting has been done...

This is Branching Out, knitted in Artesano Alpaca Inca Cloud and it looks rubbish at the moment because it's not been blocked. Lovely yarn, very soft, easy pattern and I'm half way through. I'm bored with it though. My brain has never been very good at remembering lace motif repeats and though this one is simple enough it's just not automatic for me, and I do make the odd error which is tedious when I have to pick it back. I'm using it as car knitting as well, which is not ideal when you have to stop at once when the child comes out of school or whatever. I'll be glad when it's finished. It's for my sister at Christmas.

What I really want to be knitting is this....

Noro sock yarn. I bought it for myself as a birthday present last month and I think I've been very good because I've not cast it on yet. I am knitting two sweaters and a scarf at the moment though (we won't discuss the UFOs) so I'd be daft to cast on something else, especially something that I'd want to knit to the exclusion of other projects. Since I finished the Kaffe Fassett socks though I've been missing having a sock on the needles. Wonder how long I can last out?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Beauty revisited.

Remember this post I made just over a year ago, about the fantastical glass spinning wheel? Well, I was reading Lime & Violet today and found not one but two links to videos about the same wheel.

First off, actual spinning.

And secondly a piece from Andy Paiko, who made the wheel. Very interesting piece including some footage of making the component parts. You have to admire the man, really. Amazing work.

Also thanks to the folk who left comments on yesterday's post. I appreciate the kind thoughts, I really do.

Monday, November 24, 2008

That day again.

That day again. Never a good day Chez Fishwife, so I don't think I'm going to blog today. See you all tomorrow.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday Night.

Sunday night chez Fishwife...early dinner (usually of the meat + Yorkshire pudding variety) then a DVD. This second item takes some organising as it has to be something all four of us like ie two adults of completely different filmwatching tastes, a twelve year old boy and a seven year old girl. Usually someone has to compromise.

Tonight however we watched "Stardust". The kids and I had seen it once already in the cinema but it was the first time for Hubby. Excellent film. I can see why it wasn't quite the blockbuster that the makers hoped for though. It has some very big name and excellent actors, a strong plot and some fabulous special effects but it's also got some really quite dark bits, some bad language, a fairly robust attitude to violence, homosexuality, transvestitism and several other things that might not make it past many of the stricter censors of the parental or film board time. It's a PG-13 ie "Parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Fantasy violence and some risque humor." So anyone getting it out expecting it to be your standard fairytale princess in a frock story is in for a bit of a surprise, straight from the bit the captive princess (wearing silver chains) lures the innocent young county lad into her caravan for a bit of an illicit snog.

Quite. But it is hysterically funny a lot of the time and very well done all the way through. A fairy tale, but a mature one, not a saccharine Disney Princess tale. (Come to think of it I think the messages contained in some of the earlier Disney Princess films should carry a "Parents strongly cautioned" warning of their own, given some of the hopelessly outdated sexist messages they send to small girls.)Highly recommended for all the family.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

You have to laugh...

Sometimes you've got to laugh at something otherwise you'd cry. I was in Woolworths today to get some party tights for Princess, and I spotted this in the toy section.


Barbie Beauty Secrets In-Line Scooter is the perfect set of pink wheels for your little pink lady, with a secret compartment full of shimmer and shine beauty treats! She can scoot along on the non-slip pretty printed footplate before stopping for some rest and gloss application. Suitable for age 5+


17 piece beauty travel kit

Shimmer and shine beauty treats

Non-slip pretty printed footplate
Easy folding mechanism
Soft foam handgrips
Rear footbrake
Translucent pink PU wheels
Adjustable handlebar - height 68-85cm

Naturally Princess LOVES it. She can really see herself scooting around the campsite next summer on this, stopping only to gloss her lips and paint her toenails in front of an envious band of cohorts. Me? I think it epitomises all that's wrong with little girl toys. I think it is barf. Sports equipment should not have to be pink in order to get girls to do physical activity! And to have to add in the bribe of make up? For a five year old? Urgh....and yet...I know I would have loved it when I was seven too. But what's wrong with just having a scooter?

It's £29.99 as well, so not something I'm just going to pick up to present to her on a whim. If it was £5....well, maybe. It really is disgustingly girly icky though, isn't it?

Friday, November 21, 2008


Got the big car back from its MOT today. £465. Eeeek. Just as well I'm not having an over commercialised Christmas, isn't it? Though even I hadn't quite planned on blowing the whole of the Christmas shopping budget on a pair of new brake discs, lol. Oh well. At least they'll increase the chances of me seeing Christmas 2009.

And Baileys Irish Cream is on special offer at £8 per litre down at Tesco just now. I seldom drink, but that's enough to tempt even me. And to cushion the blow of the MOT a bit. *hic*

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I took the big car in for its MOT today. This meant I was in the Big City ie Edinburgh city centre so I thought I'd take the opportunity to look round the big shops and perhaps buy a few odds and ends for Christmas. I was a bit scandalised to realise that at least half the big stores were running some sort of sale already...M&S are having a 20% off day, Debenhams have just finished (I think) a 25% discount promo, Boots are running a big points offer etc. Yet with the exception of M&S, the shops were nearly deserted.

Well I know why of course...everyone is feeling the effects of the credit crunch and the shops are desperate for turnover. It's going to be one of the worst trading Christmas periods for decades, apparently. Yet I remember (when I were a lass) that no-one really expected to be doing any of their Christmas shopping until December and even then, it didn't seem to be one massive shopfest, buying everything from new televisions and 3-piece suites to all this yad. (Yad is what my BIL calls all these totally unnecessary gimcrack bits of novelty rubbish.) You bought your family a nice little box of something or a trinket each, hit the toy shops for kids pressies, bought one new outfit and that was it. Extra box of bikkies and some satsumas for guests, dug the decorations out the attic and ordered a turkey. Wrote the cards, bought some crackers, got the kids to do something creative with glitter, arranged to meet your friends in church, a few parties, at school or down the various sports clubs. it didn;t seem to cost a mint and it certainly didn't seem to require organising from November. And it didn't require all this shopping!!! Catalogues from everyone, shops full of Christmas tat from October and every paper and magazine telling you that the only way to have a perfect Christmas is to redecorate, buy new furniture, clothes, latest electronic whatevers, a fully coloured themed set of decorations to match the new wallpaper, a 12-course chef-inspired banquet for every day of the holiday and a vast Gift Set or Gift Experience or Perfect Gift for everyone including the person who clips your dog's toenails. because if you don't, you're not having a Perfect Christmas.

Not only do folk have to cut back and economise a bit, they're being made to feel that this is a terrible thing because if they do they won't have a Perfect Christmas and then their kids and friends and relatives will think they're Scrouge and have a horrible day and it will all be their Fault. Because it's 20% off, folks! So what if you can't afford the other 80% either. It's a bargain!!

So, what did I buy today, given that it was a big Shopping Opportunity with Discount? A diary for me, a diary for Princess (it had a fairy riding a unicorn on the front so it had to be bought) and some craft paper. Total cost £4.98. I had a look round the shops then came home, feeling hot and bothered and vaguely nauseated. I feel much the same way about the way Christmas is presented these days, come to think of it. Credit crunch or not, I just don't want to do this. Which is fine because I'm pretty good at avoiding commercial pressure to buy tat I don't need. But though I can see the arguement justifying all these sales and offers from the trading result point of view, I feel annoyed on behalf of the increasing number of folk that will feel they still have to keep spending even though they can't afford to.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Yarn Yard.

Went to see Natalie out at The Yarn Yard today. Just a social call...we were going to have a serious discussion about her vegetable plot and how it could be made more productive, but the weather was foul so we hid inside, taked about fibre and spinning and knitting and fended off dogs from our cheese rolls (with homemade pumpkin chutney) instead. The nearest we got to gardening was looking at the very cheeky rabbits sitting in the veg patch, and me leaving her a pile of back issues of The Kitchen Garden, the best magazine currently published in the UK for folk with allotments and kitchen gardens.

And I picked up my Yarn Yard Fibre Club parcel too, which is most interesting. But I don't think I can show you the contents until the other Club folk have got their parcels and I think they were only posted yesterday. Nice, though. *grin*

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I'm tired tonight. Not sure why. It was just an ordinary Tuesday with spinning group and supermarket shopping in the morning, paperwork, some minor housework and cooking in the afternoon and Brownies for Princess in the evening. Busy few days before today however so it's probably just that catching up on me. So rather than blog I'm off to bed. Night, all.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Garlic Pt.2.

The whole road stinks of garlic. Whatever these fancy varieties tasted like, they sure did have an abundance of whatever makes garlic garlicky. I go out the front door and all I can smell is garlic, from the stray cloves that got run over on the road by cars.

Actually this could be a new form of vandalism....malicious damage by smell. If you didn't like garlic then ran over a bulb of my super-pongy stuff then you'd be mighty upset at your car stinking of garlic for weeks, no? Easy enough to set up as well...just tuck a bulb under the front of the wheel. Come to think of it one of my neighbours might be an ideal candidate for this....*grin*

No, of course I wouldn't. He's probably already got plenty garlic on his wheels by now anyway. But I did turn my mind as to what I could do to discourage the scrotes from coming in my garden again. Here in the UK we're not allowed to use anything that might be actually dangerous to intruders, so barbed wire and an electrified fences are not allowed in domestic garden settings. Eventually I settled on a simple but hopefully elegant solution. (Until the Pyracanthia hedge takes root. 1" long thorns on my Pyracanthia.) The scrotes had also damaged one of the apple trees by bending down the branches to use them to haul themselves out over the garden wall, and several branches had broken. I pruned them off and then...dropped them in a neat heap just where the scrotes jump over. They will never see them in the dark. There are several very big and tough branches, with many very sharp and pointy twigs sticking out of them that could give you a very nasty poke or ten if you dropped on top of them. It will really hurt. Hopefully.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Scrotes stole my garlic.

A bunch of horrible little scrotes of about 12-14 years old have recently taken to invading my back garden and nicking things. Apples off the trees (very traditional), two crates of rotten windfall apples (why??) and, most recently, about 80 heads of garlic. I grew a lot of garlic this year from a posh selection box....

I was drying it out in the greenhouse. It didn't look much, just scruffy stems and unstripped mud stained bulbs. I was going to strip the outer layer off and plait them. Also, like most allotment produce, they weren't big show-stopping vegetables. They were smallish and lopsided. However, the kids seemed to think they were worth taking. They went back over the 8 foot high wall with them, stripped off the stalks and scarpered with the garlic. I looked out the window this morning and wondered what all the strange bits of dried stem all over the road was. Ah....

Thing is, what were they going to do with it? It's too "home made" looking to be worth selling. If a bunch of adolescents took it home surely their parents would twig they'd pinched it. Missiles? The local shops do get fruit pinched from their displays and it gets thrown at the neighborhood windows. But garlic is small. So why? Are we under threat from vampires?

Whatever. I'm pretty p-eed off about it as you might be able to tell. That box of starter garlic was a bit of an extravagance allotment-wise. I had the harvested bulbs tied together in big bunches by variety and was looking forwards to doing a bit of comparison testing on the different types. Now I just have some unlabelled odd bulbs I picked up from the road and a few stragglers that had got harvested late, also unlabelled. About 20 bulbs in all. Enough to see me through for cooking for some of this year, I suppose, plus a few to plant but none to give away and the whole point of growing varietal garlic lost.

Humph. I hope they stink of garlic for weeks and become social outcasts with no girlfriends and no party invitations. I hope karma catches up with them eventually and they develop embarrassing (but non-fatal) vegetable allergies. I hope something really, really nasty happens to them toilet-wise if they eat any. That was MY garlic!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Do you know what I spotted in our local Borders yesterday???

A spinning book.

It's bloomin brilliant as well. (I've got it already.) I was still gobstruck to find it in Borders though. Knitting books, yup. plenty of these. But SPINNING???!!!!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Cash in the Attic.

I'm still working on the attic. Clearing up the attic has changed from merely being a necessary chore to quite interesting. You have no idea what I'm finding up there!

I'm a really good shopper, as it happens. I hate to buy anything on full price if I can possibly help it, I love vouchers and discount codes, I love hunting round sales and Ebay and I've got no objection to good quality second hand anything. Also I take the long view...if I know I'm going to really need it, even in six months or a year, I'll buy it at 90% off or whatever and store it away. Usually in the attic.

My Achilles heel in this process though is that my memory is terrible. And of course the attic is big and disorganised. So over the last few days I have been coming across little caches of this and that from more than one year past, like ancient squirrel nuts. This is great fun, actually. It gets a bit annoying when I realise I just went out and bought the exact same item, but most of the time finding something means I don't have to go out and buy another one which is great given that I'm currently skint.

For example.

1) Pair of size 9 rugby boots. (Probably owned by cousin.) Lad and I were due to go shopping for new boots this wwekend. They fit perfectly. Fantastic!

2) Six (yes six) boxes of Christmas crackers, various designs, reduced fom about £12 each to £1 per box. Would be fantastic except I just bought two more boxes, at 50% off. Oh well, they'll do for next year.

3) Three dolls of about Barbie size. Strange ones these...they come with no faces and clothes printed on cloth type paper plus felt tip pens to put the designs on yourself. I bought them in France the summer before last for 1€ each and hid them as I thought Princess was too young for them. They will be perfect for C-mas. (And yes, I did check the pens still work.)

4) A box of school uniform that I had forgotten about. Next sizes up for Princess. Great!

5)A very large box of leftover party bag presents of various sorts. I always buy too many and the excess get thrown into this box. There are all sorts of small toys and gift things. I need something to donate to one of the local shoebox appeals so these will do nicely.

6) A brand new Pokemon game for Lad's Nintendo. Yeah!

7) A box containing the swag from the Boots 90% off sale last January. Lots of nice Xmas things, like Rudolph bath bombs and such.

8) The Yarn Mountain Odds 'n Ends Bin yielded all the yarn needed for presents for sister, mother, Princess and lad. (Hubby doesn't do small hand knits except perhaps hats, and he loses these too fast for me to want to knit any for him, sorry.) Mostly yarn I'd forgotten about.

9) A sweater that I'd started knitting about 20 years ago. I've only done the striped back (very Fassett sweater) and I will never, ever wear that sort of sweater now but it will make a truely fabulous cushion cover. And I found the big bag of feather cushion pads too.

10) Christmas wrap. This really was a total surprise because I remember being down to my last roll on Christmas Eve past and having to use some christening paper for Hubby's presents instead. And not being able to find anything sufficiently cheap in the sales. However there are 12 rolls of M&S wrap up there at 10p a roll and a March receipt which probably explains the 10p bit. Also some gold gift bags. Good. Another thing I don't need to buy.

11) Cards, labels, ribbon, craft supplies. Well I won't need to buy much of them next C-mas either, put it that way....

There is a lot more, but most of it I knew was there anyway so it doesn't count. However if I decided not to spend anything on non-essentials for the next year we would probably do pretty well, except for the lack of the cutting edge beep-beep games which seem to be regular essentials for Hubby and Lad. Actually it's a bit embarassing how much I've got stock piled up there. Does anyone else do this? And no, I'm not talking about yarn and fibre stash. I'm talking about household stash. I didn't even realise I had a household stash till this week!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Digging In..

The allotment AGM was last night and I returned home stricken with guilt. A new rule was voted in...I'll spare you the more complicated details but basically it extended the committee power to chuck persistent slackers off their plot. "Terminate membership of the society", is the politer way.

At the moment it can take up to a year to evict someone. If you put your name on the waiting list for a plot today you would be No 67 on the list. Allowing for deaths and people giving up plots we turn over about three per year on average. Now the waiting list does get reviewed regularly and folk do drop off it for various reasons but you'd still be looking at waiting 12+ years for a plot. So it's not really great to have a plot going to rack and ruin for a year while we work through the set process of eviction. We want it to take a maximum of six months. (I'm on the committee, btw.) There is a system of verbal and written warnings, a right of appeal and the committee always takes a sympathetic view of good reasons for a messy plot, such as illness or bereavement. Always. It needs a majority vote to even start the process of verbal warnings, and almost always that's all it takes to get a plot holder to pull their socks up a bit.

Well. I've never been to such a lively meeting. Some of the members (who had been sent a letter saying this new rule was going to be proposed) were up in arms at "Draconian measures." "Committee gone power mad." Etc. And these were from the members who had bothered to turn up, the ones who take an interest in the Society and almost to a man (or women) folk who had never been sent a dirty plot letter in their lives. The black sheep had stayed at home...

Anyway, after the most exciting AGM in decades the vote was taken and the new proposal carried. And this morning I scurried up to my plot and did a bit of tidying up, lol, because it's a bit of a mess have to say. I wasn't the only one. And I've never been sent a dirty plot letter in my life either. Guilty conscience or what???

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

One has to be mildly amused at this magazine......Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts 2008.

You note the bit where it says "Fast & Easy Projects: Knitspiration for the Holidays."? Well, admire some of the projects that you too could just whip up in the approximately six weeks between now and Christmas.

A cable sweater for the (very large) man in your life.

A blanket,

A lace shawl.

And in the time you have left over, a tank top in 4-ply.

All images courtesy of Interweave Knits, of course.

Yes sure, I'm exaggerating. A bit. If you look at the full pattern list here there are lots of smaller projects, including some tree ornaments that you could knit several of in a night. But speaking as a knitter who barely manages to crank out a pair of socks and the sleeve of a sweater per month, the bigger ones seem...a touch ambitious? Christmas 2010, maybe!

(I did buy the mag, btw. Not only are some of the patterns really nice, it was the best laugh I've had in ages.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Parallel lives.

Considering Paws has only been here for six and a half weeks, I think he and Oliver are getting on pretty well.

They eat together....

Sleep together....

Hang out together....

Beg together....

And fill in a lot of time rolling around beating each other up.

It was a good idea to bring Paws to live with us, don't you think? It's certainly made Oliver a happy cat.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Home Improvements and the C-word.

I started sorting out the attic today as part of the ongoing home improvement program. Ehh? Why tidy the attic for that? Well, the attic is not only massive (45` x 15`) but like all attics it acts as the holding pen for all our junk. And you can get a lot of junk into 675 sq ft of attic space, belive me. Some families live in less.

View of North End.

Not only are there strata of junk, it's been moved around in haste over the years to accomodate the assaults of builders, roofers, the central heating engineer and the very nice joiners who fitted the windows. As a result the attic has slowly come to look like a gigantic swamp, with narrow pathways meandering between the tottering piles. It is a very classic looking attic, swathed in mysterious dustsheets and spiders webs. It even contains a rocking horse.

South End.

And a spinning wheel....well, three spinning wheels, come to think of it. This one is my Frank Herring.

Strange inhabitants...explains a lot, really. (Both about my attic and Disney movies.)

And the view. We're three stories up here on the top of a hill, and can see straight to Arthur's seat in Edinburgh. Not many folk can say they have a view of an extinct volcano from their attic window.

Anyhow, I was tidying the attic with three thoughts in mind. Main thought was to make room to get more junk up there by (hopefully) consolidating the current junk and maybe even getting rid of some of it. (And pigs might fly too....) Secondly I was trying to collect all the C-mas decorations and such together...I've got a nasty habit of just dumping it all into boxes and putting it up there after C-mas with the firm intent of sorting it out during the year. Never happens. Thirdly I was C-mas present hunting. Weird? Not if you're a Sale junkie like me. I buy odds and sods in the January sales onwards, and by the following December I've usually got quite a considerable proprtion of the presents bought. I do the sensible thing and put them all in one box in the attic? Ummm....

Anyway, I found quite a lot of useful things, including the yarn I need to do the Christmas knitting. Which is a whole other story for another day. But the attic is trashed, trashed, I tell you. I'll need to go up again tomorrow. Wish me luck.

PS. Just found some pictures of the attic when it was just floored, before I started filling it up. Difference....!!!!

North End...

South end...

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Lights under bushels.

The Edinburgh Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers are going to be at the Creative Crafts & Gifts for Christmas show again, at the end of November. We did this last year and it was great fun being on the stand, demonstrating and talking. I'll be there on the Saturday of this year, all day. Do say hello if you're there.

But I digress from the theme of this blog post. When we set up the stand we like to include a display of items made by our guild members, to show off our crafts.Some people really enjoy this bit and submit several pieces but the rest...well, it's like pulling teeth to get most people to loan pieces to display. Not that they're worried about losing them or anything. No, they're worried that their work is not good enough.

Then, after several weeks of arm twisting, small parcels are shyly produced, usually accompanied by the words "It's not very good....". Then out comes some magnificent piece of craftwork, clearly the product of tens of hours of loving work and a credit to the craft. Astounding. I've spent part of today picking up contributions from this side of town and have gone through this scenario several times. Why do craftswomen hide their lights under a bushel so much????

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Fishwife down the drain.

Well, not precisely the drain. The toilet cistern. I have been plumbing.

Now to put this into context our toilet, like many other things in this house, is old. As in vintage, though not antique. My best guess is that the toilet and bathroom suite was installed in 1948 so that makes it sixty years old. That's old for something that's in daily use. And like many old things, myself included, it gets cranky. You have to treat it with a little respect and go with its moods, like when it flushes itself at 3am. Sometimes it jams up and refuses to flush. Sometimes it burbles to itself. It always seems to sort itself out in the end.

It's never been quite happy though since our central heating engineer took it upon himself last year to change a washer or something. I could have told him that this was a step too far for the old Loo. Last time before that a plumber went near old Loo he told me I'd have to scrap it because some essential rubber widget had perished and that size of bit hadn't been manufactured for thirty years or more. I cut a new widget out of an Ikea mouse mat, fitted it and Loo went on quite happily for another seven years, until that engineer chap fiddled with his washers.

However last week we had a catastropic shut-down, as in Loo would not fill. Something wrong with the ballcock valve (?) I deduced, consulting my 1970's copy of The Readers Digest New DIY Manual. I rolled up my sleeves...

I've got one great failing in DIY though...I'm not good at the brute force bit. I've got small hands and anyway, I'm not keen on forcing old bits of things to move in case they self destruct. I did not want to apply the force necessary to take some of the very seized up parts apart. I did manage to get Loo working again, but only just. He kept relapsing. This was not good. I decided we had to get a plumber and told Hubby this. Hubby then pointed out we're skint as church mice and the big car is due its MOT this month. Argh!

So, when I came in from spinning Guild tonight and discovered that yet again Loo was not working I decided that since the choice was between spending the money I've been saving up for the kids Christmas pressies or jolly well fixing it, I was going to FIX it. Kill or cure. I got out the hammer....

...and I did what the Readers Digest had been telling me to do all along to it, which involved bashing out a split pin with the hammer, taking the entire brass ballcock mechanism apart (more brute force) and some serious work with a file. Then I reassembled everything, turned on the water again and held my breath.

And it all works. Perfectly. Not a mutter, not a murmer. Perfect. I was so pleased with myself I woke up the kids to tell them, and now I'm telling you lot. Round of applause, SVP!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Remembrance Poppy.

It's Remembrance Sunday this weekend, and if you haven't bought a poppy yet I thought this was a really lovely idea for knitters.

Knit a Poppy for Remembrance Day.

And the donation for the pattern goes to just the same place as if you dropped money into the usual collecting tin.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Actual Knitting Content.

As part of the tidy up of the lounge today I thought I'd look into the pile of project bags that live down the side of the sofa. Eeek. UFO Central! Here's my list, with % finished and probable fate of each.

1)Plain vanilla socks in Regia Kaffe Fassett . 95% finished, will complete this week.

2) Viveka in Rowan Soft Lux Amythyst. 25% done but really like this one so WIP.

3) Brigitta in Rowan Soft Tweed Twig. 35% complete. Not sure about this one. It may be working out small but I can't tell untill I get to the armholes.

4) Cold Weather Corset in Noro Iro. Not sure about this one either. It depends on whether the Brigeta above works out. If it doesn't then I'm going to swatch with the Iro and if that looks good I'll frog the Corset and knit Brigita in it instead.

5) Tahoe in purple DB Cathay. Hate this and it's heading for the frog pond. The Cathay is meant to be knitted at a looser than usual gauge then blocked to size. To me it just looks cheap and skanky, as if my gauge was off or I used the wrong yarn.

6) Kismet from Rowan mag No (???) , in khaki Linen Drape. I've finished 60% of this, as in the back and front but have laid it aside as it's a summer sweater. I'll definately finish this one. Linen Drape is gorgeous. I have to finish it's not listed on Ravelry yet, so this is my chance to be the lead link picture, lol.

7) Forest Canopy in a heavy blue silk 2ply I bought at Woolfest from Knitwitches .

I like this and it was my holiday knitting (until I got the wheel) but I was having real trouble with it in the poor light of an evening campsite and rather put myself off it. It's looking lovely though and I'll get going again with it.

8) Silk Tweed Sweater in dark raspberry Summer Tweed. 60% done, as in the body is done up to the front neckline. I hate the neckline though and have reknitted it three times and it's still not right. I want a Summer Tweed sweater though and most of the rest of this is okay so I feel it's worth at least one more shot.

9) A single sock in something I really can't remember, except it was by The Natural Dye Studio. This is nice and I'll make a point of putting the other one in the car to knit on in these five minute slots when I'm waiting around for kids. When I've found the other ball of the yarn, of course.....

Actually, that's less than I thought. Trouble is I also want to knit a hat for Lad, a pair of socks for Princess and scarves for both Princess and my sister. By Christmas. And I'm not a fast knitter. What do you think of my chances of doing these and finishing at least one sweater for me by Christmas????? Bog all I suspect.

So plan is to get the yarn and patterns for the presents at least assembled, then I can use them as car knitting. A couple of nights usually suffices for a hat. The socks for Princess can be DK as they're just for bed socks. As for scarves well....DK there too. I'm not in the mood for fiddly things. And I've got plenty of odd balls of really nice alpaca DK yarns in the attic. Will use them.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Store Cupboard Challenge #2.

Told you I signed up for the Store Cupboard Challenge, yup? Well, I decided that a daily update of what I was eating that day would not exactly be exciting blogging so I'm just going to pop in and out with this topic when I had anything worth saying. Today, for instance, I decided not to buy puds, bread or snack food for the kids and do a biggish baking session instead. Out came the trusty Be-Ro book, ovens on (the cats like this because the fans blow hot air along the kitchen floor, brief pause to go and buy another battery for the kitchen scales (which I do use every day, but which give you no warning when they're going to conk out)

Have to say, the cats behave like a couple of over-excited toddlers when I start baking. Especially Oliver, but when Paws sees Oliver trying to get up onto the worksurface to investigate the crinkly packets and chase the eggs then naturally he thinks he's missing out and tries to get up too. The kitchen worksurface is the one place in the house they're really not supposed to go, of course, mainly because of the cooker hob being set into it but also for hygiene. So it does take a little time to persuade them of this. Then they go and sit on the dining table instead and watch the mighty Kenwood Chef in action, which is not a good idea either of course. Then when they sulk off onto the floor they get under my feet. I must have stood on Oliver half a dozen times today.

After all that it wasn't that exciting a baking session. I was trying to use up storecupboard items and have plenty of flour and other baking ingredients so I made Eve's Pudding, using some cooking apples that had been in the bowl for a looooong time, Rock Buns for the kids to use up some of the cheap dried fruit mountain that lurks on the top shelf of the larder and a loaf of corn bread made from a mix that I bought on impulse in Lidl. This last looks a bit suspect, have to say, but bread dough never looks that exciting in the early stages does it so there's hope for it yet.

Just a comment on the trusty Be-Ro book. I learned to bake from this book 40+ years ago and most of the basic recipies have hardly changed. Margarine, butter, sugar, salt, white flour, high calorie dried fruits, syrup, treacle and suet. Eeek. Why weren't the previous generations fat as pigs, eating that lot every day? Well, it's simple. Portion sizes. For example, the Rock Buns said "Makes 16". I dutifully did and as you can see they're not large. In fact they are more the size that modern shops nowadays sell as "snack size", where the implication is that you eat several to make a portion. If I went to the bakers round the corner and bought a Rock Bun it would be at least three times the size. As to other bakery items, a standard seven inch cake would be cut into eight slices, not the four that would seem reasonable now. And back in the '60s when I were a lass you only expected one scone or teacake or slice of cake with your drink when you went to visit somewhere. I can see my kids' faces if they were confronted by plates of home baking and only allowed one thing and that a tiny (in their eyes) one. Portion sizes have definately increased hugely since I was young, if the Be-Ro book is anything to go by.

Oho though, talking of cakes, I didn't show you the cake I made for Princess when she had her birthday party a couple of weeks ago. Be-Ro recipe, of course, and probably should serve about 50.

(Yes, there was something in the treasue chest. A pendant in the shape of an "M", for Princess M.)

Anyway...a small dent was made in the storecupboard ingredients, and to help things along we're having lamb steaks (from freezer), couscous (from sample packet that came free with a mag) and cauliflower cheese made woth freezer cheese and a cauliflower that was in need of using up. So a good day for shopping from the larder.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Deer Laydeez

Deer Lezlee and Saraa and de laydeez of de cat rescue place,

Dis is Baby here, da big hairy grey and whitez cat wot was wif you five weks ago.I promzed I wud write to yous after I waz in my neu hom for one month. Well it haz beens five weks but I haz beens buzy. Sorri. Wen I cam here ther waz one Mum, one Dad, one big Boy perzon and one smaler Girl perzon. I wuz scared off them al, ezpezialy the big Dad wif the louds talkings. I founds a litle hidy hol in the bukcas behind da sofa and I stayd ther for thre days wen da perzons were arond. I cam out wen no perzons wer arond to eat fud and do da other ting. I wuz scared dey might be mean perzons like my last familie. No one wuz mean to me and da Mum was speaking to me nice, soz I cam out. Shee gav me sardines. Now I lik all da perzons becase dey is not means. Dey all lik catz and even da little Girl is not means and stroks me nice. Da big Dad waz scarey but he iz nice really. Da Boy iz my seconds favirite perzon but Mum iz my bestest perzon. I likes dem all now. I goes and sitz wif dem and watch whats dey do and gives dem purzz.

Der is one udder catz here his name iz Oliver. He iz not mean either. He is litle and orange and he wantz to play all de time. He letz me shar his toilet and letz me shar his fud. We plaay lotz of gud games lik Chase and Pounce and Fight and Ball. He iz a pest and litle but he iz okay reely. He iz happy I came to lives wif him becase he mizzed hiz cat familee and hiz mummie and hiz sister. Now we iz palz. We sleps togethers on da bedz. There iz five bedz and too sofas and we cans slep on dem all. My best bed is wens Mum iz asleep. I sitz on da pilow and luvs her. I luv my Mum. I gives her big purrzz and licks and rubs my earz on her. She sayz she is crosz whens I wakes her up but she givez me cuddlez so she iz not crosz.

Da fud is gud and I am not boney anny morez. I am geting fatz. Mum combz ma fur wat I do nots lik but I am geting shiny so this is gud. Dere is lotz of cat fud wich is gud and dere is sardines and fishh and chiken som dayz, wich iz beter. I wud lik more chiken every day but Mum saz no. Cat fud every dayz. Iz okay. Iz plenty cat fud. I lik cat fud to.

Da perzons here is nots means so I wud lik to stay pleaz if dis is okay? Dey lik me and give me strokiez and play wif me and luv me. I luv dem to. Dey is nicerz dan ma last familiee. Dey say I am prettee and pet me. Dey is propers Cat Peoplez. Dey unnerstand catz. Dere is plentee to do and see and Oliver is ma pal. Dere is fud and dere is warm and nice softs beds. I luv dis home. I wants to stay here. Okay wif yous?

So tank you for finding me a nice familee. Giv my luv to da other catz at de rescue and wish dem az much luck wif geting a nice familee lik wot I have gotz.

Lots of luvs,


PS. Dat is da one things dey do diffferents. Dey callz me Paws becuse of ma hairy paws. It iz a better name dan Baby, youse thinks?

Sunday, November 02, 2008


Today was spent sitting in the side room of the Scottish Karate dojo in Dunfermline. (Princess was doing her first karate grading.) Dunfermline? Beautiful town, full of history (first capital of Scotland)and I used to live there forty years ago. I did intend to get there early enough to show Princess my old house, but in the event I spent too long at home getting the other one organised for rugby, and only had enough time to locate the nearest McDonalds for lunch and then get her there in time to do her paperwork and get her changed. She passed her grading nae bother, but I forgot to get a picture. Maybe next week when she's next got classes. She was very pleased with herself anyway and that makes it all worthwhile. I do think it's important for girls to do a physical sport, one that doesn't just involve pointing toes and smilling. A bit of body contact and possible pain in an activity is not a bad thing for girls. Gives them self-confidence.

Anyway, I got to sit around a lot and that means knitting time. Small projects, like socks. I realised recently that since I first learned to knit socks a couple of years back I've always had at least one sock on the needles. The current one is the second of a pair I'm knitting for Lad's Christmas, in one of the Regia Kaffe Fassett colourways, No.4256, Mirage Twilight. (Coincidentally on sale here.)Basic top down pattern from the Violet Green Sock Pattern Generator. Very reliable calculator, have to say. I use it a lot.

I've also decided that of all the basic sock yarns around, Regia and (less commonly) Trekking have to be my favorites. I've knitted a lot with Opal but it's just too fuzzy IMHO. I'm very sorely tempted to go and buy some more of that KF Regia, but I'm supposed to be on an economy drive at the moment and if I'm trying to cut back on the food bills I can hardly justify more sock yarn, really, not while I've got about fifteen pairs of socks worth in the Sock Box in the attic. Pah. But if you've not tried the Regia before then it's well worth a whirl, especially at that price. Lovely firm, warm, sprongy feel to it when knitted up. And the colours in the Fassett range are wonderful, of course.

Pictures when finished, which should not be long as I've only 24 rows of the second foot to go.

So given that I have no other worthwhile pictures I though you might like to see how the cats are getting on. These pictures were taken at the AM venue. In the morning they both go and sleep on opposite ends of Lad's unmade bed, where they can catch the morning sunbeams.

Paws looks like a skunk, doesn't he?

And Oliver looks like he's knitted from Kaffe Fassett sock yarn, lol.

Tough life, being a cat. Especially in this house. I want to come back as one of my own cats.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

That time of year again.

It's that time of year again. Too early to reasonably start thinking and planning for Christmas (I just REFUSE to do this in any serious way till 1st December) and the memory of summer has drifted away into the mists of time. (Apart from the fact I still haven't got all the camping gear away.) Half term is past, Halloween is past....what do you do in November????

You feel skint, that's what. The holiday bills are finally paid, we've had three birthdays, two car MOTs and the C-lists are next, eek. Money. Not enough of. So steps must be taken to economise. Last year I joined Natalie's Store Cupboard Challenge, in which basically you try to live out of your larder, freezer and whatever else you have in store for a month and buy as little as possible. This has the twin advantages of (a) saving money and (b) clearing out all these odd tins, packets and little crunchy bags of frozen whatever you have in the freezer.

Just to show you the current state of my own larder yesterday (after tidying...!)

And of the same larder in 2007, just for comparison.....

Oh what a difference! (Not....)

So.....Natalie very kindly gives you a couple of days warning to get yourself prepared, even if it is only to go and see what's actually IN the cupboards and freezer. Interesting exercise. I found a lobster in the freezer. When did I buy that? (I know had a Reduced to Clear £1.00 sticker on it.) There was a chicken, which I did know about and which is currently in the oven, four half full bags of frozen peas, four half full bags of Yorkshire Puddings, several chicken carcasses, a lot of blocks of unusual cheese and....well, lots of things. I like bargains and quite often have a trip down to Tesco in the evening when they reduce all the short codes produce.

Anyway, given that it's now NaBloPoMo the Store Cupboard Challenge is quite a useful even to be participating in at the same time, because if I run out of blogging inspiration I can always waffle about what I'm cooking today, no? So today we are having roast chicken, Yorkshire Puddings, baked potatoes, peas and gravey for dinner.

Have to tell you about the potatoes, btw. Last night I was putting the rubbish out when I discovered half a box of baking potatoes in my back garden. I assumed the local vandals had nicked them fromm the nearbye grocery shop but upon enquiry they had not come from there. So....well, I had two boxes of windfall apples pinched from the garden last week so I decided that the potatoes were the karmic balance taking effect and thus am not going to look a gift potato in the mouth, as were. The apples were only windfalls after all, destined for the compost bin. The only thing I regret is that the lads probably used them as missiles. Oh well, better a squidgy old apple being thrown at your window than a large spud.

Finally, to show you that I have not totally given up as a knitter, here is a link to a shop called Five Valley Fabrics. It has some amazingly good reductions in it's yarn section (and possibly other sections) at the moment Worth a browse.