Monday, November 03, 2008

Obama President?

The Americans are electing a new president and what an exciting chance they've got this time. One one hand they have Barack Obama which I really like for being intelligent and keeping genuine ( and what a rare quality this is in the ego land of politics), on the other hand Sarah Palin, the American chavette. What's it going to be ? Like John McCain just said - he can't understand how come Obama is not leading with 20% already.
We know what you mean John, we can't understand either.
Back to knitting. Finished the Japanese butterfly.

and I'm well into my next 'Normal and please keep me warm sweater'. Pictures soon.
I have a few other projects is mind - just bought some blue angora and some Cocoon yarn (bargains) from Coldspring Mill. I should visit more often.
Trying to catch up with life facts:
- we are decorating a few rooms in order to repair the floods damages. Chaos everywhere.
- I've got a new project at work which is very interesting but requires working at their place and not at home (9 to 5 and I hate it, but at least I don't have to contemplate the disaster at home)
- I've sent my daughter to University and her independence is scary, to say the least.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Yes - we had a good summer

I had a choice in July to stay in England and spend my birthday at a party (party which had nothing to do with me), organised by my partner's ex wife, (which BTW is still 'on board' as she's our accountant), or to fly abroad and spend ten days in Mallorca(my daughter's suggestion). Guess which one I picked (and how fast).

The resort is a small port in the north part of the island, it's called Puerto Pollensa and amazingly it's still untouched by the mass tourism plague which covers most parts of Mallorca.

This is the the terrace of our hotel - everything in 50 metres: beach, port, small restaurants, all sorts of shops and boutiques, plus live music every evening.

I don't think we could have found anything better then this. Did I mention the sea was crystal clear?

I had my knitting with me - obviously didn't get very far - discovered that I can't knit while sun bathing or swimming. I didn't miss it though. I think more and more about moving in a sunnier country.

Knitting wise I'm into Japanese stuff again- it's almost finished and I love it.

I still have to finish the sleeves - both are ready till the armhole decreases - then I need to see if I can figure out some basic crochet stitches on my own. If not I'll have to rely on ravelry again.

I've blogged it extensively here:

Friday, July 04, 2008

Japanese leaf top

Managed to finish this top - it was a quick knit. I like the pattern and everything - just that I wish I would have done it a bit smaller.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Japanese patterns again

Started another summer top while still waiting for the yarn for THE.MOST.BEAUTIFUL.PATTERN EVER. Anyone trying to guess what pattern am I talking about :) ?

More about this one on the Knitting Elegance KAL.
Oh, and some white strawberry fields.

Not much else happening yesterday, apart from the fact that I've sprained my ankle coming back from the dentist, plus that I had to go through the related three hours in the A&E.

Lets' not forget about finding at the dentist that I'll need thousands for an implant operation for my daughter. Plus having to pay £125 for a nice 10 minutes consultation=chat, about the future procedure.

Plus returning home from the hospital and finding the main computer I use for development totally dead.

I could definitely do with skipping these days entirely.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sir Terry Wogan and the Eurovision contest

I was listening to the radio this morning and it doesn't look to me as Sir Terry Wogan got over all this Eurovision thing.
Just want to say that I completely agree and emphasise with him, it's obvious we should definitely redraw from this ridiculous competition where we can't stand a chance mainly because nobody (well, apart from Ireland) loves us .
Furthermore, in order to promote our local music ( and be a bit more certain we have some good chances of actually winning the bloody thing ), we should start a totally new contest, with UK as the main competitor ( and if possible with more than one candidate ), plus some of the following other states : Australia, New Zealand, India, Canada, Papua New Guinea...and if that's not enough, let's just pick a few more from the list here.

Now, if we'll still find ourselves in difficulty to clearly win this one, maybe we should think twice about sending Andy morphed into Cico to sing a song I could not remember five minutes later. Just a thought.
(I'm not sure how to spell Cico - but somehow I can't be asked to look further into the matter).

Another important thing: we should change the voting rules obviously. The public can not be trusted therefore should not be allowed to vote. It is ridiculous how the diaspora altered all votes across Europe. (How do I know this?)

Anyway - it's not all lost. If you're in the Cabinet and reading this, I'd say urgently ask for the UK votes list, anyone smart enough should be able find out straight away the exact level of immigration in the UK.
Do not forget you might need divide the numbers by 2 though, as I voted both from the land line and my mobile and I guess everybody else did pretty much the same. Even so - I bet you anything you'll get a much better estimation than the governmental current one.

Oh, and by the way, Terry, the Russian skater is far from being 'an obscure sport figure :) ' might need to do a bit more research here. Just saying.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Kinder Scout

I've finished the Little Rivers but I'm not happy with the neckline so I'll have to think of changing it a bit. At some point. Then I'll post a photo.
In the meantime summer has arrived finally, so I'll be out of the house for a while.

Yesterday decided to take our first real trip of this year, on the Kinder Scout mountain, in the Peak District. I'm not sure if it can be considered mountain at 700 m ? Anyway. Sunny day but extremely windy.

Did a bit of research in google then decided to start in Hayfield, which is not very far from where we live anyway.
The standard walk through William Clough starts from the Bowden Bridge car park. A word of advice. Make sure you are in the right car park and not in the village car park, otherwise you will have to walk another two extra miles - like we did. And that was because I live with a native and British people never ask anyone for directions, as it's considered cheating.
The Bowden CarPark is quite famous, as it was the starting point of the Mass Tresspass in 1932 - when a large group of ramblers decided to force the law for the right to roam on Britain's mountains and moorlands.

Five of them have been arrested but in the end the result was that the law was changed, the land was opened to the public and Peak District became the first National Park in Britain. This is the plaque on the car park stone wall, in their honour.

Have you paid and displayed?

Right, the walk starts with an easy part towards the Kinder Reservoir.

...then another half an hour along the reservoir till the bottom of William Clough. At the wooden bridge, carry on left ( do not cross the bridge). The other road, crossing the bridge, goes up on Kinder Scout as well - it was our 'escape' route down.

From here, the real climbing starts soon and it's really a bit difficult but definitely rewarding, as the scenery only gets better and better.

Looking back towards the reservoir and cursing the vicious cold wind, which delays us to no end.

Just look at the erosion that is affecting these moors. The direct effect is the disappearing of the peat bogs - the peat bogs are storing ten times more carbon than a normal leaf forest and that's why the local authorities decided to run programs to restore it as much as possible.
At the crossroad on top, turn right and start climbing again.
And this will be the view looking down. No, we're not on the moon.

The first road to the left is the one which we just came from and the one across the hill in front is the famous Pennine Way. We'll carry on on the Pennine Way, up on the plateau.

The Seal Stone.

At this point we had a choice of going further or taking an escape route down. The wind won the fight and we took the path down.
And here is the Mermaid Pool and the Kinder Downfall which is quite spectacular when it rains and the river goes down in a waterfall. Some other time maybe.

Two hours later we got home safe (and just in time for the Eurovision contest ;)) but as it's easy to imagine, today we could hardly move from one sofa to another, and the walking around the house was only related to locate the bloody aspirins.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Happy Easter

We've celebrated Easter yesterday - we are not like everybody else here in England, because we are Orthodox and we operate with a different calendar. It was enough to see what a beautiful day we had for Easter yesterday (as opposed to the catholic Easter day, four weeks ago), to simply know which calendar is God regarding as the true one :).

And this is how it goes in term of food. The main part is painting some boiled eggs in all sorts of colours. This tradition is lost in England so I've ordered my paint in Germany and a good friend of mine sent me the Mercedes of paints. Never had metallic eggs for Easter before but there is a start for everything, right?

You can imagine it took me one good hour at least plus cleaning the kitchen afterwards.
Next was the boeuf salad. This is a traditional dish in Romania and we like it a lot so I've agreed I'll do it.

You start with a mayonnaise. I definitely don't like the Tesco's one, and I don't like using the mixer simply because you lose the connection with the food. So if you want a really special mayonnaise, do it by hand.

It will take a while obviously, in order to sloooowwwly incorporate the oil.
Then you've got to cut the boiled vegetables and the chicken breast into billions of small cubes.

And voila, three hours later, here is the main one:

and the leftovers made a smaller one - with my mom's decoration pattern on top, which used to terrify us when we were kids.

The power of early conditioning.

At this point in time I got fed up with taking pictures, so next we'll go straight into the final phase of the deserts.

They are a special kind of tarts called 'pasca' - one is filled with a custard type of cream, the other with a 'chocolate style' cream.

The pastry was not high enough for the second one but one can only learn for the next time. Otherwise they've been absolutely DIVINE ( you can guess it's not much left today).

The main course, and this was the easiest part : lamb and potatoes.

My diet went completely down the drain. 5000 calories per day, yesterday and today.

And please don't ask anything about the knitting - I am still recovering after all this food...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A very special wine

I'm almost there.

I need to assembly all parts together just to see how it fits - I have a feeling that the sleeves might be a bit short. I want to have it ready for our Easter on Sunday, so everything else is on a (very) slow burner.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Dreaming of a white Easter?

That's what we unexpectedly got this year for Easter. (And no, we can't afford a new gate yet.)

Snow is rare in England and when it snows the natives become highly anxious about anything involving outdoors, all traffic is declared 'chaotic' and the few inches of snow will make the headlines in a big way alerting everyone to maximum vigilance.

It doesn't look to me like the English are in any way aware of other countries experiencing months and months of good snow every winter, and actually getting on with it without any associated fuss.

Anyway - I have to admit I didn't like it either - I kept moving plants pots in and out, hoping to protect the new buds and praying for the flowers in the garden.

And here's our Easter adventures.

Despite the cold wind, we kept on track with our Good Friday ritual which involves attending the Page Eggers festival in Heptonstall.

The Pace-Egg is based on the oldest play in the world, The Mummers Play.

The play is about Saint George's triumphs, and the whole play boasts his great champion status. Throughout the play three challengers try to defeat Saint George: Bold Slasher, Black Prince of Paradine and Hector, obviously with no success. It's the same script every year, it's just that it doesn't look we can get enough of it.

Easter Day was all indoors (don't forget I live with a native and therefore we don't drive in the snow) but some interested cooking took place.

It is breast de la gallina wrapped in bacon de il maiale and stuffed with farmhouse pate. Garlic, Mediterranean spices with fennel and chicken stock.

You can see I've entered a new cooking stage plus I'm doing Italian lessons from Francesca's new blog. I wish I could afford a proper cooker though :).

Yesterday was a bit sunny so I just decided to threaten everybody with a nervous breakdown. As a result I was finally taken out for a walk on the hills above Halifax.

Great crispy fresh air and needless to say the roads were cleared of snow and no traffic whatsoever.

And yes, we managed a bit of knitting as well...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A gate with a view

This is our gate after the storm.

We forgot to lock it so it just banged all night long, till the pieces started to fall apart.

Even the bloody postman is now walking in and out through the hole.

There is something scary in this though. Few days ago I was thinking what a pity nobody can see our crocuses on the lawn - well, it looks like the Universe solved it for me.

I'd love to understand how this comunication with the Universe works and, if possible, before I play the next lottery ticket...

No knitting to report. I am only doing the Little Rivers and it's SLOW...

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Noro again

I bought this yarn on sale last year, and decided to make it into a quick knit.
It is Noro Silver Thaw - lovely, nice and soft and I only used a bit under 10 balls.
The pattern is all mine - I've applied my Universal Method of Designing a Simple Size M Sweater : if it's going to be knit on 4.5 mm needles and has no cables then it's 96 stitches to start with for the ribbing - increased to 106, a bit of raglan shaping later on, and voila:

Disclaimer : If you want to try this at home and it does not quite work, it's all your fault. You should have known better.

When this was almost finished (and supposed to be mine), my daughter decided it's cool enough for her to have it instead, but only if I was to agree to re-shape the neck line so it drops off one shoulder. Have teenagers? Familiar?
This was an easy task - all I had to do was to frog half of the damn thing but hey, who's counting, I've got a happy customer now. And I've been 'repaid'.
Look what she bought me for the Mother's Day - out of her own money from her first weekend job!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Little Rivers

Little Rivers from Starmore's Stillwater. The pattern is splendid but it is quite challenging, with a lot of action on the WS as well.

The yarn is Jamieson's Soft Shetland from my stash. I bought it in late January, left it for a week to become stash, then started the sweater.
I found that people look at you with more respect when you say : 'ah, the yarn is from my stash...'
Now the thing which is totally puzzling me is why did they use the word 'Soft' to label this yarn? What's soft about this yarn? Anyone?
The result is very nice though - it's going to be one of those love-hate relationships with me and this yarn.
Knitting is very difficult (can't quite explain why) so I've imposed myself to only do 6 rows a day.
I could have easily skipped the gym subscription and just knit this sweater instead...10 minutes on the bicycle: 200 Kcals, 1 row with Little Rivers: one million Kcals.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Why charts after all?

I just complained a few days ago that I can't knit using the chart description (instead of the chart itself).
A few nice ladies sent me some links so I can learn the meaning of k2tog, ssk and such.
Well I don't think I was clear enough. It's not that I don't know their meaning, is just that I refuse to knit following step, by step, by step, by step, [100 by step], [100 by step tbl], instructions.
All I need is a chart and maybe a legend to explain the symbols in case they are not the standard ones.

Now, before jumping into why are the charts important, let's first discuss the main types of charts.
Basically, I would say, there are two types of charts : great charts and rubbish charts.
A great chart will use symbols which are visually very near to the real knitted swatch. See the Japanese charts.
A rubbish chart will use symbols which visually look like anything else but the result itself. Best example, my last Sandra lace cardi chart, where the right slant and the left slant decrease symbols are far from being even symmetrical.

Next. Lets see why are charts good for us.

1. The chart is giving the visual context of our knitting. We see what we knit. We do not knit blindly. We can double check easily that we are on the right track.
Like exploring a new territory with a good map in your hand.

2. The chart helps us to figure out where we are. Imagine retrieving a project three years old, and God knows what row number is that on the needles. And no chart.

3. Charts help us to discover errors in the pattern and correct them on the spot. They make counting and visually aligning stitches easy.

4. Charts are universal. You can send a good chart in space and they'll figure it out in no time. Send the description and you'll lock them for ever. The best example is the k2tog instruction. Some people can knit 2 stitches together and get a nice right slant decrease. Others, like me, can do the same, and get a nice left slant decrease. We are called continental combined knitters. So k2tog does not help us at all...But a right slant decrease symbol in a chart would.

5. Now listen to this, because that's where it gets really important. Charts make you think. Charts make you creative. Charts will make it easy for you to change any element, to insert a new element if you fancy so, to modify the original. Can even teach you and make it easy for you to attempt to CREATE YOUR OWN PATTERN next time you attempt a new project. They teach you to be become a designer. Words don't. Words will make you a robot following rows of instructions.

I wonder why is it that some designers (or publishers?) do not publish the charts. It will definitely take less space. And it's quite obvious this is the way they created the pattern in the first place anyway.
Might be because it's financially more profitable to train an army of followers which are mechanically knitting word by word by word ...and thus will have no further knowledge nor creativity desire to break free from their published books ? Just a thought...

Monday, February 18, 2008

Hello Martha !

Enjoyed both the pattern and the yarn.
I just went with the pattern requirements in term of everything - didn't even swatch, just went for the M size and it fits perfectly.
All I have to do now it's to wait for the summer...

Monday, February 11, 2008

Martha is finally off the needles

This cardi was a quick knit, at least once I managed to translate an awfully written pattern into a decent chart.

People, get a grip ! Please publish chats, for idiots like me, which can't read words like ssk, ssdtk, k3tog, k2tbkugfddgbvszyhzb etc. Thank you.
Right, these are all the parts ready to be assembled.
My 'favourite' game.
And this is how it goes. I use to stick needles, stitch by stitch, along the edges just to make sure I have them align properly. What do you mean I'm a control freak? It looks great in the end.

Keep reading my blog in the next days and you might see the real thing blocked and eventually ready.
Weekend update. The weather changed completely and we had a beautiful sunny and warm weekend. Thanks God - I was beginning to go nuts spending the last at least five weekends indoors.

This is Saturday, we did a good walk in the Lyme Park.

Is this real spring or what?
A few funny naked trees.

The city in the distance, under that pink cloud is Manchester and the pink cloud is actually all the pollution we are breathing in and out every single day. I was realy grateful for a day out of pink clouds.

This road had a very special light somehow, and reminded me of the 'Road not taken' poem.

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less travelled by,

And that has made all the difference."

There will be always a time in out life when we need this poem at hand.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Snowing in England

Every winter we get one day of snow. Just to be reminded how winter should look like. Obviously one can't get too much of a good thing. It's not British, you see.
So that's this winter snow.

Or to be more precise - this was this winter snow. It's evening and it's almost gone now.

Managed to take a picture with my Marvelous Mitts swatch.
The size is right but the pink is too sad so it might be replaced with a different colour.