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I’m still marginal!

I was born with Ocular Albinism which is a genetic condition where the pigment of the retina and the iris is reduced, which leads to light sensitivity and impaired vision. It is very rare in females [go me!] and, because it is not correctable, there is nothing I can do about it and it has been a pain my entire life. I was also born with esotropia [commonly called a squint] which was corrected by surgery when I was eighteen months old. However the squint has left my right eye significantly weaker than the left one which is apparently very common. I am also short-sighted and have been wearing glasses since I was very young.

So, I was born with several things wrong with my eyes and have spent years dealing with vision that is impaired and the issues that causes. The biggest of these is that I am marginal when it comes to being able to drive. I once failed a driving test because I could not read the number plate at the requited distance. It was very stormy and overcast that day and the lack of light did for me. As a result, I had to take another eye test and then send the result to the DVLA and then go in to the test centre and have the chief examiner for Wanstead take me out and get me to read a number plate after measuring out the distance. I passed, but it was very stressful and I was scared it wasn’t going to happen. As I’ve got older I have acquired more of the age related eye problems such as astigmatism and, a result, every time I go to the opticians I half expect them to say, oh dear, no more driving for you.

Yesterday I went for my first eye test in three years because I really need new glasses and where I often buy them online, I much prefer being able to try them on in person. This was a new opticians that is over the road from my work and which a lot of other council workers go to. I actually enjoyed the experience as, after I’d explained all the various ways my eyesight is fucked, I had a really interesting conversation with the optician about genetics and their role in Ocular Albinism. Of course the fact that he was happy to say I remained marginal but still fine to drive made me like him even more.

I now look forward to a new pair of glasses in the next couple of weeks which will be a nice change from my current pair that are broken and keep slipping off my face.

[I should point out that I can actually see and it’s just that I don’t get a very sharp image, especially at a distance.]

I’ve never really managed to keep going with this blogging lark

I’ve had a LiveJournal for over thirteen years now and have never been a one to post very often but over the past few years it really has been languishing rather tragically.

This month, one of my LJ friends decided to make September Post Ever Day Month and I decided to give it a go and see if I could manage to post at least once a week, if not more. Well, I managed to post ever single day and I feel very accomplished as a result.

It’s made me want to resurrect this blog and actually try to put it to use. I’m not going to promise anything to myself or anyone else but I have been looking at systems to try and encourage myself to post. I think by planning out posts and trying to make a note to post when I’ve done something particular or gone somewhere interesting I should be able to get a rhythm going.

Let’s see!

sunny and delightful

At least, that was what the Accuweather forecast was for today. The forecast was correct and so it seems that summer has actually arrived at last. Mind you, I’m not convinced it won’t suddenly turn vile once again. Anyway, enough of me being thoroughly English. This is not the promised photo post but instead a catch up on the last two months.

At the beginning of April there was a visit from the lovely Genevieve Valentine who was in London to attend EasterCon. She was accompanied by her mother, who suffered us dragging her around until rebelling and leaving us to do a lot of walking on our own.  We took a tour around Angel Costumiers‘ warehouse in Hendon which I would recommend to anyone with an interest in costume and film making. The highlight was Genevieve hyperventilating at the sight of Elizabeth I’s coronation gown worn by Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth. Geneveive’s own post about it is here and has some lovely photos to accompany her geeking out.  We also took a tour of the British Library which was a tad more sedate than Angels but did clear up the mystery of how they move the books from the vast basement to the reading rooms. It’s all done by magic. You heard it here first.

So, as EasterCon was the main reason for Genevieve being here, she happily dragged me along for the Saturday and Sunday. This was my first proper convention and by ‘eck it was entertaining. I spent most of it explaining to the people I met that I read neither fantasy or science fiction. Of course, this tended to be undermined every time by Genevieve telling them to ask me what I thought of the Lord of the Rings film portrayal of Faramir. Busted!  Overall, I have to say that it was great fun and I met some thoroughly nice people who were very long suffering of me having little idea about anyone or anything being discussed.  I was sad to have to wave goodbye to Geneveive but we have a tentative date for the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton next year. I say, bring it on!

I’ve also had visits to the theatre and ballet recently. I saw Misterman at the National with Cillian Murphy giving a bravura performance alone on stage for nearly and hour and a half. He was excellent and the play was thought-provoking, funny and disturbing. The ballet was La Fille Mal Gardee which has CHICKENS cavorting. It was all very bizarre but enjoyable. Less enjoyable was the pain of trying to sit still in horribly uncomfortable seats for the duration. Sadly, affordable seats at the Royal Opera House are not made for anyone taller than 5’ 8″ and wider than a size 10.

Next month will bring a wedding, a visitor from the ‘Pool and hopefully the builders to start fixing my windows, decorating the outside of the house and plastering and painting the hall. Stay tuned for tales of the drama and stress that will undoubtedly be brought on by at least one of these things!

Shall we try this again

So, I inspired by Mel’s return to blogging, I am dusting off WordPress and making yet another attempt to actually update this blog up on a regular basis. Up until now I thought it best to just keep this as a craft blog but I am going to see if expanding that to anything that tickles my fancy actually gives me some incentive to post.

The first job I had was cleaning up all the virus and malware that had infection the site. That’s been a pain and is still in progress. Hopefully I’ve got this bit sorted but please do let me know if you get redirected somewhere dodgy from here! The perils of modern technology, eh?

In other news, I have been knitting, crocheting and quilting. I don’t have loads of photos but am in the middle of a tidy up so plan to drag everything out that I know needs documenting and get some photos done. For my birthday this year, work gave me a copy of The Crafter’s Guide to Taking Great Photos which is packed with useful tips and suggestions for making objects look great in photos.  I’m even thinking of making my own light tent!  Sadly I have a few projects I have already given away so there are some camera photos that are the only record of my hard work. But at least there are camera photos!

I’ve also been reading a lot which probably has a great deal to do with owning a Kindle. I still go to Book group with a grand bunch of people and have read some very good books as a result. I have just started reading Kerry’ Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher books after being pimped them by my friend Lucy and am very much enjoying the first one. The tv series is highly entertaining and will hopefully get picked up by a network in the UK at some point.

Right, I think that’s it for this evening.  Let’s hope this is not the only post I manage under the new regime!

there may been little blogging, but there has been some knitting

I have been horribly remiss but hope to get caught up at least a bit!

I have finished a blanket, a scarf for Mum and am two thirds through a pair of socks. I have started a wrap and am taking part in a knit-a-long of a shawl by Alice at Socktopus using some gorgeous orange superwash merino dyed by Indieknits. I appear to be on a roll which feels good after being a bit out of knitting sorts for a few months.

I plan to sort out posting some pictures at the weekend when I will hopefully have some better light to take decent ones. That’s if it doesn’t pour all weekend!

clackity clack

I can hardly believe I haven’t posted since August. It’s been a long few months around these parts but I am looking forward to a new year that will hopefully be less stressful than the last.

My knitting has been going somewhat slowly as I haven’t really been able to settle into anything. I have finished a few small projects, though and have [of course] added quite a few yarns to my stash! It’s a disease, I tell you!  Not done a huge amount of spinning but the plan is to buy a wheel in the new year. In fact, this will be a present from my Mum. who loves having something I actually want to get me as a gift and as it will be my birthday in three weeks, she is happy to go for a serious present. Hoorah!

On the FO front I have Auntie Barbara’s Midwest Moonlight Scarf which I made from Knitwitches silk and came out beautifully. Sadly the photos I have do not do the colour justice. My Aunt loves it and waves it at other members of the family any opportunity she has!


Auntie Barbara's Midwest Moonlight Scarf

I finally finished my Percy bag after leaving the completed pieces to one side, not having the energy to sew it together and line the thing. The finished object is actually rather nice and I am very pleased with it. I am not going to say that it was worth the blood, sweat and tears of the strap knitting, but I am rather proud of how it turned out.

Percy finished

Percy Bag lined and finished.

I have made a couple of presents as well. A hat from Drops which came out really well. I made a scarf  in Rowan Tapestry for my friend Kim’s birthday last year and this year she asked for a hat to match. This hat was easy to knit but looks really effective and Kim loves it!

Kims hat

Drops Basque Hat in Rowan Tapestry - front

Kims hat

Drops Basque Hat in Rowan Tapestry - back

Finally I made a pair of Toastie fingerless mitts and a Bainbridge Scarf. Both these projects took a few hours and I have been wearing the mitts for the last few weeks [never got around to blocking them as a result]. The Bainbridge is for my friend Chris who I am seeing tomorrow. I found some lovely red yarn in All the Fun of the Fair on Saturday when I braved the sales with Mel and it took a couple of hours to produce a really nice scarf.

Bainbridge Scarf

Bainbridge Scarf in Araucania Nature Wool. The colour is gorgeous.

I currently only have three projects on my needles [there are also two that are in hibernation, but I am not counting those] at the moment, the Elm Row Scarf for my Mum and a Silver Birch hat for me and a pair of socks. Here’s how they are looking so far:

Elm Row

Elm Row Scarf for Mum in Mericash by Punta del Este Yarns

Silver Birch

Silver Birch Hat - the yarns are Colinette Tao and Rowan Kidsilk Haze so it feels amazingly soft.

The socks are coming along nicely but are hard to photograph as I am knitting two at a time on magic loop. Trying them on is a bit of a faff. I will need to go up a needle size soon, though, as I have very fat calves and I want these to be long socks.

stash and spin

Today was the second of the two-part spinning class with Diane Mulholland and much fun was had by all.  This time we learned the basics of fibre preparation and of spinning with a wheel, which is harder than it looks – or maybe not as it looks pretty damn hard! We also had a chance to try out spinning with a variety of different fibres – it’s amazing the difference in the feel of spinning silk in comparison to bluefaced leicester, for example.

I also brought along the yarn I have been practice spinning over the last few weeks.  I had a visit to the Handweaver’s Studio as it is down the road from me and I wanted to buy some different fibres to have a go at spinning.  The 20g of alpaca I picked up for 75p spun so that it plyed to a 14 wraps per inch thickness. Then I knitted up a swatch to see how it looks using 3.25mm needles and I am thrilled with how it turned out.  I have a feeling that I shall be buying some more alpaca and knitting enough for a garment of some sort.

I also bought myself another spindle, this one lighter so I can spin more delicate ply. It was made by IST Crafts on the Isle of Wight and is made of reclaimed Honduras rosewood. It’s truly a thing of beauty!

Whilst watching tv I spun up quite a bit of the dyed bluefaced leicester that I got from the first class. I am planning to finish spinning the rest and then seeing how much yarn it makes so I can work out what to knit it up into. It’s two-plying to a thickness of 18 WPI.

Today I also purchased some fabulous sock yarn from Socktopus as we had the class at Alice’s flat. Her yarn room is amazing and I totally caved when I saw some of the gorgeous colours available. The Malabrigo has some gorgeous colourways and I was really impressed with the range of colours from The Knittery.

I also nabbed some of Karat Stix adorable notions: a wrap per inch tool and stitch markers.

Two weeks ago I joined various crafters from the Oxford Bluestockings and their families [Katie, Kim, Liz, Ellen, Ruth, Hilary and Jacqui] on a visit to the Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham.  I spent a lot of time explaning that quilting is not my craft which cased great amusement, epsecially to the stallholders on the Button Company/Eternal Maker stall. I got some cute fat quarters of Kokka Japanese fabric and ribbon from them which I plan to make into bags and/or purses or some sort. I may even make a knitting project bag from some of it.

I also got a silk brick from Oliver Twists in a really beautiful golden brown tinged with blue. It’s hard to do it justice in a photograph but I can’t wait to see how it spins up.

Finally, I am currently knitting an alpaca vest for my friend Deborah from a classic pattern I found at work [and one day I may explain about where I work].  I am almost at the decreases so it’s coming along nicely and should help to see her through the winter at her place in Brittany.

I also started yet another Midwest Moonlight scarf, this time in a gold silk I got at last year’s I Knit London Day. It’s for my Auntie Barbara, who has had a rough time over the last couple of years and who was admiring my orange version. This one got stalled when the yarn got horribly tangled but now, having untangled it, I am on a roll and hope to get it finished soon.

checks the calendar

Oh dear. It appears that I have been horribly remiss in the last few months but I have the excuse of life and work being pretty full-on and stressful.  But the summer is here and I am looking at my knitting and deciding what to cast on next.  I have a couple of projects on the go at the moment but one of those is a tank-top in alpaca which is more suited to an autumn knit – very hot and fluffy!

Yesterday Mel and myself went along to the first of two spinning sessions organised by Alice from Socktopus. DIane Mulholland is the tutor and I would recommend taking one of her classes as she is a really good and encouraging teacher. Diane had us all spinning away happily by the end and I am very much looking forward to the next lesson.  Just what I need, another hobby! In classes dorky style I shall endeavour to photograph my first spun yarn and subject you to it. It feels amazing to take a hank of roving and turn it into a length of yarn. It’s like magic!


I finished my Hemlock Ring Blanket! Actually, I finished it a couple of weeks ago but have only just got around the photographing it. I really love how it turned out and hope that Mum likes it when I give it to her this week.


The finished article. It’s very comfy to sit under [just ask Lara!]

Here we have the blanket in its just off the needles state.


I would like to draw your attention to the bedspread as it was a gift to myself from Melin Tregwynt Mill, not the cheapest thing I have ever bought, but I love it – as do the cats. 🙂

This is the blanket spread out on my bed atop two layers of towels. I was somewhat concerned about putting a damp blanket on top of my lovely bed but it was fine and the only place really big enough to block it.


One last shot of the finished blanket. I shall be knitting other versions in the future as it was a really satisfying knit.


knitting waits for no woman

I have been happily knitting away over the last month or so.  After finishing Kim’s scarf I cast on Percy using Matchmaker Aqua Cotton in a gorgeous purple with pink for the contrasting inner pocket. I have finished the outer shell and am now faced with 50″ of 2×2 rib in cotton on 3mm needles. *weeps*  I am not pleased to note that pretty much everyone on ravelry who has knitted Percy has complained about the strap!  I would start the inner pocket [stocking stitch in the round ftw!] but don’t have the right needles – my 3mm circulars are too long to comfortably manage 93 stitches in the round on cotton. Ho hum. But as you can see, it does look really lovely so far so I am hoping the pain will be worth it in the end!


I have also started the Hemlock Ring Blanket using Wensleydale Longwool in Aran from the Sheep Shop. The folks from the Sheep Shop were at the London Stitch and Bitch Show last Autumn and were very friendly and the wool is gorgeous. I have the cream undyed and so far I am really pleased with how it is knitting up. I used Emily Ocker’s circular cast on to start as it was recommended by other Hemlock knitters and did indeed prove perfect for the pattern. The blanket it meant for Mum who starts radium at the end of this month and who will need something lovely to sit under after the hospital visits.  This is it so far and I feel great having done this much in just an evening.


I also finished the Salina jumper and am really pleased with how it turned out. I got some lovely red buttons from Liberty and they finished it off nicely. Maybe not the best picture of the jumper itself, but the best picture of me so I am putting vanity before knitting technique. 😉


Finally a picture of Edie, who likes to inconvenience me whenever I forget that she is more important than my knitting. I transferred my stash into this rather nice storage bag and the moment I zipped it up Edie decided it made the perfect bed!