Etsy items

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Branching out

So... I've started up an Etsy store.  I'm not exactly expecting to make lots of money (I'm not sure I'm expecting to make any!), but I'm hoping some bits will sell.  Eventually it will contains lots of different things - earrings, stitch markers, writing sets, brooches,  etc.  At the moment the 'shelves' are fairly bare, though,  as I'm dipping a toe in to see what happens!  I did have a Folksy store previously, but had little luck with it; I'm aware that Etsy has much more exposure, so we'll see how it goes.  In the meantime, if anyone fancies taking a look, you can find my new emporium here!

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Test knitting

So, the Ravellenics are over... I only got those two projects done, but it's better than nothing!  I don't care about the 'medals', I'm just pleased to have two presents out of the way.
Right now I'm mainly focussing on a cardigan I'm knitting.  It's a test knit, which means the pattern hasn't been released yet, and I'm one of the people testing it to make sure it's all right and works properly before it is released.  I quite enjoy doing test knits - they can be fun, and it's a nice  way to get a pattern that you like; testers generally get the final pattern for free. 
I say I enjoy doing them, and it's true, but I also find that I sometimes put myself under a lot of stress with them.  They have deadlines, and I can get very anxious if time is running out (or if I feel like it is).  Once this cardigan is done, I won't do any more test knits this year; I have too much else going on.  But this promises to be a lovely little cardigan - simple but pretty.  It's knit in 4-ply, which is thinner than anything I've ever used for a proper garment before.  I'm using a Marriner 4 Ply Cone in bottle green (not black!), and I'm hoping it'll be a nice addition to my cooler weather wardrobe.  I might do another one in cotton for the summer,  if I'm pleased with it.
I have to say, I'm pretty pleased with the yarn; I don't think anyone could really say that knitting is generally a cheap or economic hobby these days, but this cone of yarn is 500g - and okay, yes, it's pure acrylic, which may put some people off, but it feels nice enough, and I can get an entire cardigan out of it. And I'm not small, so that's pretty good! And it's £6.50. Even with postage it was less than £10. To me, that's a bargain; a cardigan I'll like, in a colour I like, that will fit me as I like? For under £10? Win, however you look at it.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Adjusting to new things

I'm on the second day on my low-FODMAP diet.  It kind of feels like longer!   Still, some interesting things have arisen already...

It turns out I actively prefer almond milk to normal milk on my cereal.  Not  so much in my tea, but it's drinkable.

I made gluten free bread.  The first loaf, done in the bread machine, was a disaster.  No rise, and so heavy that if I'd dropped it on my foot I would probably have broken some bones!  It went in the bin, oddly enough.  I tried again with a different recipe, made by hand, and although the loaves were still very small,  they were baked properly and the texture is much better.   So I've had chicken sandwiches for the last couple of days, and they've been.... okay.  Edible.  I miss being able to have a yoghurt,  though!

I'm trying to make myself a  sort of ice cream at the moment... all things I can have, so Ican have a bit of a treat when I want one.  As far as I can tell, it's low-FODMAP, gluten free and vegan!

Frozen Banana Delight

1 very ripe banana
A large teaspoon of peanut butter
A small amount of syrup or sugar, if wanted
A good splosh of almond milk.

Mash it all up together, and put in the freezer.  Take it out every so often, stir it, and put it back in, until it's completely frozen.  Consume!

(I think most of this is customisable... I might try almond butter next time, for example,  and you could use whichever non-dairy milk you prefer).

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Dietary changes

We've just come back from a couple of days away visiting my in-laws, which is always lovely.  Even nicer this time, as we went to the Shrewsbury Flower Show with them, and I had a glorious time!  I also finished a hat while I was there; another Ravellenics item completed, and another Christmas present ticked off - BOOM!  (I might be a teensy bit smug about this; I'm basically multi-tasking while doing one thing!).  The yarn and pattern are as mentioned in the previous post... and I'm very happy that I have enough yarn left to make myself some fingerless gloves, or something.  The yarn is so utterly lovely that I might have cried a bit if it had all been needed for the hat which is destined for someone else.  (Also, no idea why the formatting is screwy in this post...)

Anyway... the day we went to Shrewsbury, I had a doctor's appointment (finally), and as a result I have to have a battery of blood tests  (deep joy) to rule out (hopefully!) a variety of things.  However, the doctor also recommended that I try the low FODMAP diet (try looking at if you're curious) to see if it eases my symptoms. So I'll be trying that for 6-8 weeks, cutting out a lot of things, and then slowly reintroducing stuff to see what causes problems (if anything).  So I'm about to embark on a no lactose, no wheat, etc diet.  Woohoo.  I'm currently making a loaf of gluten free bread for myself, and have just cooked up a huge batch of sauce I can have with potato or rice (no pasta!).  There may be a certain amount of whinging in the next few weeks!  The sauce is Quorn mince, peppers, courgettes, chopped tomatoes and lots of herbs and seasoning... it smells good, at least!

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Ravellenics and Christmas

This has not been the relaxing, productive week off that I had hoped for.  We've had a lot of problems with our gas meter (it's a pay-as-you-go), which dragged on for a few days,  causing lots of phonecalls and hassle and annoyance.  It is, in theory, sorted out now, so that's something.

I have, at least, managed to get some knitting done.  I've already completed one of my Ravellenic entries - a nifty little cowl that looks like an artfully draped shawl from the front.  And I've started another one, a nice slouchy hat in the loveliest, softest yarn ever!  And the best bit is that they're both Christmas presents for friends, so I'm doing well on that front... and I think it's going to work well to combine Ravellenics with present-making in the future, too. I get the fun of "competing" (which is a thing that only interests me if I am essentially competing against myself rather than other people, for some reason), and the pleasure of knowing I'm making progress on things that need doing, rather than panicking later in the year!

The cowl is Zuzu's Petals, knit in Sparkleduck's Genie, in the colourway Quietly.  This is lovely, lovely yarn and I would happily have several more skeins of it!

The hat is a Wurm (I clearly like this pattern, as this is the third or fourth time I've knit it!).  The yummy, scrummy, silky soft yarn is Debbie Bliss Andes, in the purple colour.  Discontinued,  alas; why do the gorgeous yarns always get discontinued?!

Monday, 8 August 2016

A week off

I'm at the beginning of a week off work, and it feels pretty blissful!  Don't get me wrong - I really like my job, the people I work with and the company I work for.  But sometimes it's nice to have a break!

I have few fixed plans for the week.  At the tail end of it, we're going to the Shrewsbury flower show, courtesy of my lovely in-laws; I'm looking forward to it, but I need to remember to pack a good supply of pollen pills... (Or antihistamines, as I gather most people call them).  I'll work on the PhD stuff, of course... I'd like to get some letters written, as I'm horribly behind on my correspondence  (I always feel so pretentious saying that, but it's true!).  I'll be knitting, of course.  Otherwise,  no real plans.

I do like writing letters (and getting them, naturally), and I do have a weakness for pretty stationery (ugh, my brain's gone blank and I can't remember if that's  the correct spelling!).  I got these in The Works (it often has pretty writing sets, if you're interested), and was carefully setting up all my letters yesterday, when I saw it - 10 envelopes (yep, that's normal), and 10 sheets of paper!  What?!  That's not right!  Writing sets (in my reasonably extensive experience) generally have 10 envelopes and 20 sheets of paper, which makes much more sense.  Who only uses one sheet to write a letter?!  And yes, I know I can always supplement the pretty with some normal plain paper (as I frequently do, as my handwriting isn't especially tiny and I often need more than two sheets of paper).  But still, I expected two pretties per letter!  I realise I'm far too indignant about this, and really for the price I paid I shouldn't complain.... but I am, if only on here.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Knitting for medals

Right now, the Olympics are happening.  Now, I can't honestly say that I care very much about that - I'm not very sporty, on the whole, and I just don't find them terribly interesting.  (I should note that the same does not apply to the Winter Olympics, which I do like and watch bits of).  However - each Olympics year, Ravelry (possibly my spiritual home) runs the Ravellenics (which used to be called the Ravelympics, until legal stuff intervened).  Basically, you challenge yourself to knit (or crochet, or spin) things during the time between the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games.  'Medals' are awarded in various categories, etc.  It's all just a lot of fun and a way of challenging yourself.

I've never taken part before, but this year I thought.. why not?  I'll be knitting anyway, so I may as well!  So I've entered the sock category, shawl category and the WIP category.  Given that some people knit entire jumpers in the time period, I think my aims are pretty modest!

I've started the socks already (and the WIP, of course!).  I found a lot of sock yarn on sale a while ago... and while I'm fairly helpless in the face of sock yarn generally,  I'm almost totally helpless in the face of sock yarn on sale.  So I bought some... but unfortunately two of the colours I liked only had one ball each.  So - ankle socks.  I'm trying the picot edge for the first time (time consuming, a bit fiddly, but so very pretty!!), and doing shortrow heels. I'm still experimenting with heel types; I like the ease of knitting the shortrow heels, but I'm not sure how well they'll wear.

The yarn is Regia - the pinky-purple is Regia Design Line, in Plum Pudding (03872), and the tiger stripe is Regia 4-fadig Color, in 05865.  The Design Line seems a little thicker and cushier, which I like very much,  but I know I'm going to love my tiger feet, too!

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Beginning again...

Hello!  Or possibly, hello again - this being my second attempt at a blog of this nature.  I gave up on the first one because I felt I had nothing new or interesting to say... whether that's changed I don't know, but I can't keep bombarding my Facebook friends with my crafting updates, so I'll stick them all on here!  So, by way of introduction, here are 50 things about me...

1) I'm 34, female and married.  No children, yet.

2) I love fibre crafts - I knit, crochet (not as well as I knit, as I'm very much a beginner), and am learning to spin.

3) I also enjoy embroidery, and making clothes  (again, I'm still learning).

4) I'd really like to try weaving.

5) I work (part-time) and study  (also part-time, at least in theory).

6) I'm in the (hopefully!) last stages of my PhD in archaeology.

7) I love creative writing, and have at least 3 finished or mostly finished novels hanging around.

8) I do NaNoWriMo most years.

9) I would absolutely love to be published, but I'm scared to try as I don't think my writing is good enough.

10) My husband has had a book published; I'm simultaneously massively proud of him, and slightly down-hearted because I can't see it ever happening for me.

11) I really enjoy knitting socks.

12) I may have a slight sock yarn problem. In the same way that Hemingway might have had a bit of a drinking problem.

13) I mostly wear black, because I like it, although I occasionally branch out into purples and reds.

14) Despite 13, I really like wearing bright, colourful socks.

15) I think it might be hereditary; my father also loves bright socks.

16) I also have a deep love of sparkly sock yarns.  They make me happy.

17) I am vaguely trying to introduce a bit more colour into my wardrobe by having accessories in colour (shawls, hats, socks, etc).

18) I enjoy knitting shawls, but I'm not totally convinced that I'm the shawl-wearing type (at least, not the full on shawls).

19) I'm not very tall, and definitely not slender, both of which I think helps immensely with shawl-wearing (for most people; I have seen exceptions to this, of course).

20) I like cooking and baking, and people tell me that I am good at these things; I'm not much on presentation,  though!

21) I suffer from depression and anxiety; it makes things really hard sometimes, but I try to just get on with it most of the time.

22) I find that crafting helps a lot with 21, and I will always make at least a bit of time for it.

23) I love the fact that my mother also knits, sews, etc, and that we can sit and knit together; it means a lot to me to have that connection.

24) I even don't mind that she's much, much better at knitting than I am ever likely to be.

25) I enjoy gardening, although I'm not terribly good at it.

26) I desperately want a cat (or two), but we're still renting so it's not going to happen yet.

27) Despite being (I suspect) inherently lazy, I love spending time outdoors - especially in woods or by water.

28) However,  I also love spending a day curled up with plenty of tea (and cake, for preference), and a pile of books to read.

29) Books.  Books, books, books, books, books.  I love reading.  Love it.  I also read quite quickly.  I'm like a .303 bookworm.

30) I enjoy yoga, but I'm not very good at it (yet).  Also, I really feel that mirrors shouldn't exist in yoga studios.  Who the hell wants to see the contrast between cool, flexible, slender teacher, and their red-faced, sweating, lumpy selves?  Or maybe that's just me...

31) I'm a massive fan of David Attenborough.  The man is verging on God-like, in my opinion.

32) Did I mention that I love reading?  No, really - I love it enough for it to easily be worth two slots on this.  Doing my research is probably my favourite part of the PhD.

33) I've started going to Quaker meetings.  I can see it continuing, and possibly even me becoming a full member one day.

34) I like tattoos and piercings.

35) I'm yearning for a pair of the new willow pattern Doc Martens.

36) I can't swim properly, but wish very much that I could.

37) I'm not a 'girly girl', but I do love having pretty nails, and have a decent collection of nail polishes.  There are quite a few variations of black, purple and red in there.

38) I really like vintage styles, especially the 1940s and 1950s.  I particularly like goth versions of these styles!  However, I lack the confidence to wear them.

39) I really don't like the heat.  Even though cold and damp set my arthritis off, I'd rather that than be too warm.

40) Spring and Autumn are my favourite seasons.  I seem to like the changing times.

41) I'm terrible for having loads of craft projects on the go at the same time, and rarely finishing things (except socks).

42) I have a weakness for vintage style brooches, and regret that I didn't keep any of my Gran's - unfortunately I didn't appreciate them then!

43) I'm terrified of speaking in public - any sort of presentation or conference paper gives me panic attacks.

44) I enjoy role-playing (tabletop rather than LARP, although I have done that in the past), and board games.

45) A perfect evening with my husband is a nice dinner, followed by listening to Classic FM while we play something like backgammon and discuss things like history or theology.  Yes, we are secretly about 60.

46) I'd really like to try falconry.

47) I don't like alcohol much, but if I do drink, I favour mead, cider, or rose wine.  Or blackberry and elderflower Pimms!

48) I cherish the fact that I can have intense discussions with my husband and friends about things that we don't necessarily agree on, and that's fine, and we haven't fallen out by the end of it. That's how ideas and people grow.

49) I really enjoy watching period dramas and murder mysteries, as well as all sorts of documentaries.

50) One day I will finish reading "Paradise Lost". Honest.