Monday, 29 December 2014

The end of the year is nigh - 2014 Goals

"The time has come" the Walrus said "to speak of many things ..."

2014 will come to a close in two days time and so I felt this was a good opportunity to take a look back at the goals I set myself at the beginning of the year and see what I achieved and what remains on the To Do list.  Apologies in advance - this is going to be very picture heavy.

The first goal was to start and complete a wedding present for one of my oldest friends.  This piece was all ready to be framed when the wedding was called off two weeks beforehand.  So I am counting this as a completed goal.

The second goal was to complete "April" by the second Thursday in August to hand over to V for her 70th birthday.  This goal was also completed and I received a very nice thank you card from V afterwards.

Goal 3 was to start and complete "Corgi" by the second Thursday in September to hand over to I for her 80th birthday.  This was a great success and she loved it.  Major tick in the box!

My fourth goal was to complete "Guardian Angels" for my Mum by Christmas at the latest.  This was an abject fail as I have not worked on this piece since about April.  I will be carrying this one over into 2015.

Goal No. 5 was to complete at least one page on "Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose" and I am delighted to say that the last stitches were put into page 5 on 27 December 2014.  So a happy dance for the end of the year!  This piece is now going on hold for the time being.

My sixth goal was to complete the pages that I was stitching on "Train of Dreams".  This was also an abject failure and will be carried over into 2015.

My final goal for 2014 was to stitch my annual Christmas ornaments for my two nieces.  This goal was completed, but as I did the finishing on Christmas Eve at my parents' house and without my camera, I don't have a photo to show you yet.  As soon as I can get one, I will put it in.

So 5 goals completed out of 7 - relatively good going, I think.  However there were also the other achievements that weren't on the list of goals for 2014.

At the beginning of May, I learned to knit again, having knit briefly in my early teens.  The results of this are as follows:

My scarf, known as "Learning Curve" which is made up of sections in 13 different stitch patterns.

Three sets of baby booties and mittens - two in yellow and one in blue - one for a work colleague, one for a former work colleague and one for my sister's work colleague.  The set shown here were my first knitting finish after I started knitting again.

My first pair of hand knitted socks, courtesy of my sister and brother in law who gave me a sock knitting workshop as an early birthday present.  They aren't perfect, but they fit and I have felt so chuffed with myself every time I put them on.

"Breeze", a lace edged headscarf knitted as a Christmas present for my oldest friend.  In the beginning, there was much frogging and language, but eventually I got the hang of it and am very pleased with it.  I'm hoping to get a picture of it in use to show you.

And finally I hit target at Slimming World - I won't say that I am currently right at target (blame it on Christmas), but I did get there!

So that is my goals for 2014 covered and the extras that came along during the year.  What next?

Well, first comes Christmas.  This is the crazy patchwork lap quilt that my Mum gave me for snuggling up under when I'm knitting or stitching on the sofa.  My parents also gave me two pairs of sock blockers for drying my hand knitted socks on.  My sister and brother in law gave me another workshop - this time to learn how to knit socks from the toe up.  Most everything else was non-craft related.

And finally my current WIPs:

As you will appreciate, the Christmas festivities have cut into my quiet time so on the sock front, I have managed to complete the ribbed cuff section and move onto the leg.

In the case of my cabled handwarmers, I only managed to finish the ribbed cuff section.  Although I can knit stocking stitch in the round while my family play Scrabble right next to me, I am not yet up to knitting cables in company :-)

So that is 2014 for you.  I have already started mentally planning my list for 2015, but that is for my next post.  I am back to work tomorrow, so will call it a day.  

I wish you and yours all the very best for the coming year.  May 2015 bring you all that your heart desires, and may the frog stay away from your needles!

Monday, 22 December 2014

A Curate's Egg Week

In other words, good in parts!  I went out with my team on Wednesday night after work and had a good time.  I went out with a couple of old school friends on Thursday night and had a very good time.  I went to Knit Group on Saturday and also had a good time.  The Christmas shopping is done (just needs wrapping).  The Christmas knitting is done (just needs wrapping).  All well and good.

The carol concert was mediocre and disappointing.  Other people's Christmas shopping issues were a pain in the posterior.  I've got a stupid cough and am suffering somewhat from the blues.

I also didn't quite achieve all my goals this week.

Despite everything else, I stitched the next block on Carnation, which leaves one block for this week and one block to stitch before the New Year.  I am determined to greet the New Year with a page finish on this one.  So this week's goal is to stitch one block.

I finished Breeze and washed it, so this is a photo of it blocking on my bedroom floor.  I will be wrapping it up tonight and hope to be able to show you a picture of it being worn at some point.  So that's two goals down for last week.

And this is where things went astray.  I have stitched round three sides of the H piece and need to trim it down, turn it inside out, stuff it, and stitch up the top, adding a ribbon hanger as I go.  I started to stitch the A piece, only to find that it is one row too short in depth and one row too wide.  So I need to frog two sides, redo them, stitch the three sides and then do all the things that also need doing to the H piece.  Before Christmas!  So the main goal this week is to finish these ornaments.

Moving on, when the Christmas knitting got cast off, I cast on some new pieces.  This is the first of two cabled handwarmers to be knit in King Cole Baby Alpaca DK.  The colour is called Heather and the yarn is very soft.  I am going to enjoy knitting these.

At Knit Group on Saturday, I cast on for my second pair of socks.  This time I am using five double pointed needles instead of four as it should make a difference as to the amount of laddering you get.  So goal number 3 for this week is just to knit.

So there we go - some good bits and some not so good bits.  I am going to finish here so I can get Breeze wrapped before I turn in (haven't been sleeping well either).

I would like to wish you and yours a very Happy Christmas (or whatever you celebrate at this time of year)!  Have a good one!

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Will get there eventually

Well, here we are again - Christmas is creeping closer and closer - are we ready yet? Of course we're not - there are still 101 things to do before then!

However I did complete all my goals for last week.
I stitched my two blocks on Carnation, and now have just three blocks to go to finish the page.  My goal for this coming week (which will be busy) is just one block, which will leave one for Christmas week and one for the few days before New Year.  I'm really looking forward to getting this page finish under my belt.

I more than passed my goal on Breeze.  Not only did I knit all the remaining repeats, I knitted the increase row and got started on the final section.  So my goal for the coming week is to knit the last 7 rows, cast off, wash and block this piece.

And I also achieved more than my goal on my nieces' Christmas ornaments.  Both back sections are now complete and they just need putting together.  So this week's goal is to wash and press all four pieces, stitch up the sides, stuff them, attach ribbons and stitch up the tops - in other words, finish finish them.

On top of all this, I need to finish my Christmas shopping, write the remainder of my Christmas cards and post where necessary, go to my last Pilates class for the year, go out for two meals, go to Knit Group - oh, and go to work!  Can we do this ... yes, we can!!!

No Slimming World this week - too busy.  So much to do, so little time.  And on that note, I will love you and leave you, wishing you and yours all the best for the festive season and may the frog steer well clear of your needles.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

2014 WIPocalypse - December Full Moon

So can some kind person tell me where this last year went?  How come we've got to the December WIPocalypse blog post already?  I'm sure it was June only last week - no, that's a lie, it was too damn cold last week to be June!!  I suppose it just feels like I've spent the whole year trying to get stuff done, but when I look around, there's an awful lot of stuff still not finished!

But I do have some finished pieces to show you.

First up are the blue booties and mittens for my sister's colleague's baby.  I finished and blocked them earlier in the week and then took them to Knit Group to sew them up.  So that's one of last week's goals ticked off.  I daren't start anything else of the knitted genre until I get Breeze finished, but I do have plenty of projects in mind.

Next up is the second Christmas ornament for my nieces, so that's a second goal ticked off.  I have charted up their initials to go on the back pieces of these, so one of my goals for this coming week is to work on the back pieces.

I also ticked off my goal for Carnation - another two blocks completed, leaving five blocks to go.  This week I aim to complete another two blocks and get past the halfway point on this last row.

And last but not least, Breeze.  I ticked off my goal on this piece by completing one repeat of the pattern.  This week's goal is to finish off the remaining repeats, even though that will include starting a new ball of yarn.

In other news, I actually went to Slimming World this week and maintained, so still at 11 stone 9lb.  I'm hoping that the dancing I did at the works Christmas do on Friday will have worked off the food I ate - I was driving so no alcoholic calories to worry about.

I'm already thinking about my knitting and stitching goals for 2015 but will save those for my New Year post.  I've started my Christmas shopping - why do people have to keep reminding you how few days there are left before the great turkey extravaganza?  I don't want to know, I'm stressed enough as it is anyway!

However, all the best to you and yours - may the frog stay away from your needles and may the run-up to Christmas not drive you nuts!

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Goal setting for Christmas

Yes, folks, the big C is looming just over the horizon and deadlines need to be set so that packages get under the relevant trees.  Things have been fair to middling this last week at work, but it is not quite sorted completely, so I can't relax just yet.  But there has been progress on the knitting and stitching side of things.

In order of importance for finishing, I am now up to two booties and one mitten for my sister's colleague's baby boy.  The plan for this week is to knit the second mitten and then wash, block and sew up all four items.  After that it will be down to my sister to make sure that they get to the right place at the right time.

I sent off the yellow baby knits on Saturday so now will wait and see what sort of response I get.

Next up is Breeze.  I got another repeat done this week so there are now 101 stitches on the needle.  I'm also very close to the end of the first ball of yarn.  So this week's goal is to knit at least one more repeat on this piece.

Then there is the second Christmas ornament for my nieces.  This will be Rudolph when it is done.  This week's goal is just to work on this piece, although I am planning to take it into work with the intention of working on it at lunchtime.

Last but not least is Carnation.  I got my two blocks stitched this week, which gives me a row finish (row 18) and a start on the last row (row 19).  So there are just 7 blocks to go before this page is done and I have until New Year to do it.

I've also started setting some goals for next year - my cousin has a second baby due in February and my Mum will be 70 in November.

No Slimming World update this week cos I didn't go.  A busy week this coming week - Pilates, Slimming World, office Christmas party, Knit Group, family for lunch on Sunday - plus knit, knit, knit and stitch, stitch, stitch!

Anyway, all the best to you and yours, may you hit your Christmas deadlines and may the frog stay well away from your needles.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Looking for the silver lining ...

Things have not gone so well this week.  The weather has been atrocious and as I have mentioned before, this time of year is never a good one for my mental health.  On top of that, it was not a particularly good week at work and tomorrow I have to face up to the situation and that may well cause some waves.

On a brighter note, L and I went to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Harrogate yesterday.  It was a long day (2 hours drive each way) and the venue was very crowded.  However, I bought some pretty things and didn't spend all the money I took with me, so am quite pleased with myself.

This is my new yarn bowl bought at Harrogate, a belated birthday present from my parents.  It took several attempts to take a photo which showed anything close to the right colours.  The bowl is glazed in shades of purple, which insisted on coming out looking blue.  I'm very much looking forward to using it with my next project.

Next up is a couple of finishes.  Here are the booties and mittens sewn up and ready to post off as soon as I get an address.  I finished them on Wednesday and baby Henry arrived early on Thursday afternoon, so that was good timing!

Then this morning I finished the stitching on the first of the Christmas ornaments for my nieces.  I need to crack on with the other one now as the countdown has begun.  There are Christmas trees on sale at my local supermarket!!

Moving on to work in progress, I got two more blocks done on Carnation, so only have nine more to do to finish this page.  I'm really looking forward to crossing this particular goal off my list.

And finally I've managed to make a little start on the second blue bootie.  I had hoped to be much further on with these, but as I said earlier, it was not really a good week this last week.

In other news, I put on another 0.5lb (Mum's birthday) so am back up to 11 stone 9lb.  Definitely need to try harder this week.

With tomorrow's difficulties ahead of me, I need a good night's sleep so will love you and leave you, and hope that the frog stays away from your needles.


Monday, 17 November 2014

IHSW - November Edition

Knit or stitch?  That is the question!  I have knitting deadlines and stitching deadlines, and limited free time in which to get everything done.  But progress has been made in all areas.  Work is the main culprit for eating up crafting time, but the other problem is the weather.  Both knitting and stitching are sedentary hobbies and it is easy to find that I've been sitting so long that I'm chilled to the bone and my fingernails have gone blue.

Anyway, moving on to progress pictures:

 I managed to get three blocks done on Carnation last week, so that puts me a bit ahead of my target.  The remaining three blocks on this row have more confetti so will take a bit longer to do.

This is the first of the Christmas ornaments for my nieces.  It will eventually be Santa's face.  When I have stitched both ornaments, then I will decide who gets which one.

Moving on to my knitting pieces, Breeze has now been transferred onto a circular needle in order to have space for all the stitches.  It is definitely a different feeling knitting flat on a circular needle, but I couldn't see any other way of doing all the increases without losing a stitch off the end of the needle at some point.

As you can see, this set of baby knits is done apart from the blocking and sewing up.  I was told today that the baby is breech and will therefore be arriving by Caesarian section in the near future.  I really do have to get these finished pronto.

And this is the start of another set of baby knits, this time for one of my sister's colleagues who is due around Christmas.  In this case, we know that the baby is a boy, so blue it is.

In other news, I put on 0.5lb last week so back to 11 stone 8.5lb - no worries, what went on will come off again.

I'm starting to feel a bit chilly, so will stop here.  All the best to you and yours, and may the frog steer well clear of your needles.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

2014 WIPocalypse - November Full Moon

And a very Happy November to you all!  This is a happy dancing WIPocalypse post and I feel good!

I'm happy dancing because on Friday I sat up late and finished my first pair of hand knitted socks.  They are not perfect (I never expected them to be), but they fit, and are nice and comfy.  I am so chuffed with myself, I could fly!

Moving on, I got the next two blocks done on Carnation, which means that I am still on target to finish this page by the end of the year.  Also on the stitching front, I have decided on charts for my nieces' Christmas ornaments and hope to get started on those this week.

However my new start is in preparation for someone else's new start.  My knitting is obviously improving because I got this baby bootie knitted up in about 2 hours while I was at Knit Group yesterday.

And I've made good progress on Breeze this week to the point where future WIP pictures are going to look a bit cramped.  There are 83 stitches on the needle and about another 50 to go.  I think that I may have to move this onto a circular needle so that I don't start losing stitches through lack of space.

And to answer this month's WIPocalypse question, I really like working on evenweave but I really don't like using metallic threads.

In other news, Mum's Halloween party plus assorted cake at work added 1lb to my weight, so back to 11 stone 8lb - but it was worth it!  And my journey home at nights has suddenly become much, much quicker as the construction guys have finally given us our properly functioning junction on to the main road back only about 11 months behind schedule!!!

The winter weather may be upon us, but I do wish all the best to you and yours, and may the frog keep away from your needles!

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Coming along nicely

Just a short post tonight because I don't really have much to tell you.  This week has just been same old, same old, apart from my parents' Halloween party on Friday night.

However I did manage to stitch four blocks on Carnation and finish row 17.  This means that I only need to complete two blocks a week to get this page finished by the end of the year.

On the knitting front, I have been pushing on with the second sock and am now making my way down towards the toe.  With luck and a following wind I hope to have a happy dance for you in my next post.

And in other news, I lost 2lb this week which brings me back to 11 stone 7lb and back to my target weight.

I wish I had something more exciting to tell you, but I don't and its getting late so I will finish here.  Hope all is well with you and yours, and may the frog stay away from your needles.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Spring forward, Fall back

Yes, the clocks went back last night so I got an extra hour in bed this morning - whoopee!  However, it does mean that winter is really on its way - time to get out the hot water bottles, electric blankets and heavier duvets.

Just a couple of pictures to show this week.  I got another three blocks done on Carnation so am slightly ahead of myself for the moment.  If I can do the same again in the coming week, I will be nearly at the end of another row.

On the knitting front, I have made good progress on my second sock.  I have finished the leg and the heel flap and turned the heel.

I also attended my first knitting group yesterday.  It was nice to spend time with like minded people and I have every intention of going again.

In other news, I finally managed to get hold of the endocrinology nurse at the hospital.  My blood test came back clear and I have now stopped taking the tablets!!  I have to have another couple of blood tests just as check-ups, but other than that I'm done!  I also went to Slimming World and discovered that I'd put on 1lb over the last fortnight, so am now 11 stone 9lb - 2lb to lose to get back to target.

The extra hour in bed this morning came in handy because I was babysitting late last night.  I still feel a bit tired so will finish here and wish you and yours a very good week, and may the frog stay away from your needles.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Far Too Many Pretty Things!

Today I went to the Bakewell Wool Gathering.  Bakewell is a pretty little market town in the Peak District area of England not far from Chatsworth, and so gets lots of tourists visiting.  But this weekend was the Wool Gathering so I got up early this morning and headed out to see what there was.  I promised myself that I wasn't going to spend a lot (having bought a lot of yarn in Yorkshire) and that I wasn't going to buy sock yarn (because I already have lots).  I failed on both counts (surprise!).

There were far, far too many pretty things.  Half of this is sock yarn and the four skeins of yarn on the left are from new to me vendors.  The reddy aran weight yarn in the middle comes from someone who only lives a few miles down the road, which is a dangerous thing to know.

Moving on to work in progress - thanks to having a day off on Friday so that my plumber could check the boiler over before the winter weather really kicks in, I got three blocks done on Carnation this week.  So row 16 is complete and the first block of row 17 is done.  I've done some calculations and I need to get 2.5 blocks done each week in order to finish this page by the New Year.

Sock number 2 is coming on nicely.  The only problem is that the needles get caught in my cuffs when I'm knitting.  There was a lady at the Gathering today knitting baby booties on very short double pointed needles.  She was also knitting a sock on a 20cm circular needle which, as well as not getting caught in your cuffs, has the benefit of not creating any ladders in your knitting.  My next pair of socks will be knitted on a circular needle for sure!

And I have started Breeze again!!!  This time I am using a lifeline (that's the fleshy pink embroidery thread) at the end of each repeat.  I am hoping that this will mean that if I do have to frog it again, I will only have to frog it back to the last repeat, fingers very firmly crossed.

In other news, I didn't make it to Slimming World this week.  We had a bit of a crisis at work that afternoon, which meant that I was late leaving work, got caught up in the traffic, was running very behind and was feeling somewhat stressed.  As a target member, I don't have to turn up every week so I just came home and put my feet up.  However I will make a definite effort to go this week.

On the thyroid front, I am still waiting to hear from the hospital as to whether I can come off the pills.  I will be ringing the nurse tomorrow as it has been well over a week since I had the blood test and I really want to know what the current position is.

It was an early start so I shall love you and leave you, and may the frog steer well clear of your needles of whatever variety.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

2014 WIPocalypse - October Full Moon

Time is flying again - I just read somewhere that there are only 76 days to Christmas - I'm sorry, but I don't start thinking about Christmas until after Mum's birthday in mid November!  And Halloween comes before that - which is an ideal lead-in to this month's WIPocalypse question: are you a Halloween stitcher or a Christmas stitcher?

For me, the answer is generally neither - I don't go out of my way to stitch stuff for Halloween or Christmas.  The only exception to this is the tree ornaments that I stitch for my nieces, so I suppose if we are going to be persnickety about this, on that basis I could say that I am a Christmas stitcher.  But it is just two small tree ornaments each year, because they only have a small artificial tree.

Moving on, I got another couple of blocks done on Carnation, which leaves two more to the end of the row.  I mostly work on this in the mornings before work, but it is getting a bit chilly first thing and my fingers don't work so fast when they're cold.

This picture is for Leonore, who said that she would like to see the yarn that I bought while I was away.  The top row is the yarn that I bought at Yarndale, while the bottom row is yarn that I bought elsewhere on my travels.  Amongst that lot is yarn for another six pairs of socks as well as assorted other things.

And this is my happy dance for the month!  As you can see, my first sock is finished and the second one started.  My first sock isn't perfect - for a start, the toe decreases are in the wrong place - but I never expected to get it completely right first time, and it does fit, which is what really matters!  I'm really pleased with myself, and have plans for making the second sock better.  They are not going to be identical socks, just fraternal :-)

In other news, despite having a week away, I managed to maintain my weight at 11 stone 8lb, which is great.  And even better, I went to the hospital on Wednesday to see the consultant about my overactive thyroid.  He said that, provided that the blood test I had done straight after he had seen me came back normal, he would discharge me back to my GP and I could come off the tablets.  This means that I will only have been on the tablets for about 4.5 months, and when I was first diagnosed, they told me that I would have to take them for 12 to 18 months.  I will have to have a couple more blood tests once I stop taking the tablets, but that's no hardship - it will just be good not to be on medication anymore.  I did tell the consultant that I felt like a fraud, because I had never felt unwell in the first place, but obviously we caught it so early that I didn't get round to having any noticeable symptoms.

So I'm a happy bunny and I hope that things are going well for you and yours.  May the frog stay well away from your stitching/knitting/crochet etc.