Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Still no photos


Yesterday was Tuesday, which in our place is Beer Line Cleaning Day.

We have three bars, with a total of 17 fonts, which have to be cleaned weekly whether they are used or not. This involves me reverting to my last-but-one job, and donning lab coat, sensible shoes, safety specs and rubber gloves, and scampering around the building clutching buckets into which to pull the caustic soda/bleach mix which is Beer Line Cleaner (TM).

Not fun. It takes just over 2 hours to do it all properly (see Google if you really want to know the details), but is essential if you are going to serve a pint of good beer (or cider as it happens).

As a result, I didn't get much done yesterday morning. By the time breakfast was over and the lines were cleaned it was pub opening time, and I perched myself behind the bar with my KIP (passim) and waited for customers.

In five hours, I saw 5 people. Two of those had come in looking for lunch, which we can't do until we've had the kitchen upgraded, so I had three customers in five hours. That's a bit soul-destroying, but at least I had my knitting.

A good plan
Not a cunning one.
Always have something done at the end of each day which will not need to be undone or redone tomorrow.
Ideally, it will be something both tangible and visible, which will therefore cheer you up each time you see it. It's how my father avoided depression, and how I keep myself going in this job. It's probably also why I hate ripping out my knitting, as that's the thing I have each day (unless it's utterly manic in the pub) which is DONE and won't need to be redone.

It's surprising how much better that sense of achievement, even if it's only a row you've finished, can make you feel. I'm almost done the centre square of my shawl-to-be, which is actually on 5mm needles (I checked) and also almost done with the first ball of sock yarn. I will have to consider my options for the next section: contrast, toning, or continue in grey.

Pictures soon, I promise.

Sunday, September 25, 2005


Knitting in Public (normally), or in my case, Knitting in a Public House.

That's all the knitting time I get at this time of year, as the only time I spend in one place for more than 10 mins is either behind the bar, or asleep. That puts a serious crimp on the kinds of knitting I can work on.

Requirements for pub knitting:
  • no chart required
  • can be dropped at a moment's notice to serve drinks, collect empties, adjudicate arguments, etc.
  • washable yarn, as it will end up smokey and possibly beer-y over the course of several evenings
  • easy to fix, as customers will 'help' on a regular basis
  • easy to explain, and with a minimum of embarrassing connotations....

So, Devan was good:
  • there was very little in the way of shaping for the first part, and then an easily memorised sequence of increases and decreases
  • the work is in stocking stitch, and it's very easy to reclaim dropped/missed stitches

The finishing of Devan is NOT good:
  • too much counting, and the potential for disaster if someone decides to grab one end of a circular needle.

Chantelle has stalled:
  • I'm test knitting the pattern and noting anywhere it needs clarified, fixed or generally rewritten
  • the lace is a 10 row repeat, and isn't fun to fix
  • there are, at last count, 400-odd stitches on a circular needle, and despite markers it can take a while to work out where you are if you have to stop in a hurry

Flora has stalled as well:
  • I've done the easy bit: a scarf with one point and seed stitch edging
  • I've done the (slightly more complicated) knitting of the flower (very clever construction, by the way)
  • I haven't got the solid-colour yarn I want to make the final version of the flower
  • I can't sew up said flower, attach buttons etc from behind the bar. Something is sure to go wrong, and more than once.

So, I'm hunting pub knitting again.

Today I started the centre of a new venture for me: a square shawl along the lines of a traditional Shetland shawl. I'm working on 4mm needles with sock yarn, so it should be fairly cosy, but I've no way of knowing how big it will end up with the 3 x 50 g balls I have available. Maybe I'll work the edging in another colour....

Progress so far:
(picture tomorrow when the camera's batteries have charged up...)

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The trouble with working for yourself....

is that your days don't really have a defined structure to them. The advantage of working for yourself....

That said, working in a hotel does have certain fixed points:
  • up at 07.00 to 07.30 to get breakfast ready
  • bed not before 23.00 once you've closed up the pub and counted the (meagre) takings

Hubby is at the Hexham Abbey Festival at an organ concert. Yes, we've probably heard all the bad jokes, but feel free to share. Every so seldom, we try to get a night away from the place to get some sense of perspective and a fresh view point on what we're working towards.

To return to knitting:
The sleeves of Devan (see below) are blocking upstairs. Sewing & button bands will have to wait until I have some down time outside of the pub. I can't concentrate on knitting while I'm playing genial hostess!

I'm now working on Flora from the latest Knitty. I'm working in some variegated King Cole chunky yarn and hoping to get hold of some similar yarn in one of the colours to make the flower. More would be good, as then I'd have three scarves for the time of one....

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


A brief digression into the slightly dodgy field of politics....

Last week I went off to the Council offices in Newtown St Boswells (as usual, the ugliest building in the town) to swear alliegance to the Queen and promise to be a good person generally.

the council offices

Very difficult to keep a straight face at some points, as it felt very like the simple ceremony we held when I was part of running a cub Scout pack.

Cubs: "I promise that I will do my best to do my duty to God and to the Queen, to help other people and to keep the Cub Scout Law. Cub Scouts always do their best, think of others before themselves and do a good turn every day."

New British Citizens: "I swear by almighty God that on becoming a British citizen, I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her Heirs and Successors, according to law. I will give my loyalty to the United Kingdom and respect its rights and freedoms. I will uphold its democratic values. I will observe its laws faithfully and fulfil my duties and obligations as a British citizen."

Spot the similarities? Well, not that surprising really, as the Scouts was started as an offshoot of the British Army - and you swear the oath of alliegance when you join the Army to this day.

Anyway, my point (which I will get to eventually) is that although it was a bit stilted and strange, the intention is a good one. You stand up and promise to be part of the country you have gained citizenship of, and to uphold those things which (probably) were a major part in your decision to apply.

How about making this kind of oath (or affirmation - I didn't swear) part of the coming-of-age of every British Citizen, not just those of us who come to it later in life? Before you vote for the first time (18 at the moment), or when you come to leave school, why not celebrate the values of the society you live in and remind yourself of why it's a good place to be?

I can't quite get my head around the idea of starting every day with something like this, the way they do in the USA, but certainly we should make more of this nation and its history of freedom and democracy.


Friday, September 16, 2005

Are you being served?

Just popping in to put in a plug for a new yarn shop in Troon. Fankle is run by a woman I know from when we both lived in Glasgow.

I phoned last week to see if she stocked sock wool, and ordered three balls some time around 3pm. By 7.30 the next morning, there they were at the Post Office waiting to be picked up.

And she's a lovely person too!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Knot a happy camper!

About the Opal yarn I'm working with at the moment, that is....

I've just hit the fourth knot in this one ball (colour 11, dyelot 3303 if anyone cares), and I've still got about 1/4 of it to go. Not good. What's worse is that for about 30 cm after (or before) each knot the yarn suddenly goes from 4-ply to 2-ply with two of the plies just broken off. Grrrr!

Opal colour 11

Just as well that I wasn't trying to match up the stripes on Devan, or I'd be even more narked. If I run out of yarn, however, I will be very seriously ticked off indeed.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

And the weather forecast for today is....

Wrong. As usual. According to AccuWeather, it is sunny and 17C at the moment.

I hate to break it to them, but it is completely overcast. Not raining mind, and not cold, but definitely NOT sunny.

The weather channel thinks it's drizzling and 14C.

Sorry, wrong again!

So, if you're coming to Scotland, pack everything. Maybe not the bikini, but everything else for certain. Oh, and don't bother with an umbrella in winter - the rain will be going sideways and you'll do a very good (but rather less elegant) impression of Mary Poppins.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Good day sun-shine

Typical: the weekend is over, the tourists are away.... so the sun comes out. It's been a gorgeous day: 21C, sunny and feeling like summer. Not at all like last Friday and Saturday when it was 13C, wet and windy; and we had 8 walkers staying with us doing St Cuthbert's Way. Somehow they managed to enjoy themselves, but they were pouring water out of their boots, waterproofs and rucksacks when they got back.

Ah well.

The fronts & back of Devan are complete - well, sort-of.

I joined the fronts and back together using a variation on the 3-needle bind-off which I read about somewhere in the blogosphere a few months ago (apologies for not remembering where) which has given me a neater, flatter shoulder seam.

Devan fronts & back pre-blocking
Shoulders linked on the bar top late last night.

It's a two-step procedure:
1. as for a normal 3-needle bind-off, hold the two pieces to be joined with the 'seam' side outwards. Slip on stitch from the front needle as if to knit, and one from the back needle as if to purl; then pass the first stitch over the second. Repeat until you run out of stitches on the original two needles.
2. work a bind-off row as normal

I'm blocking the completed bits at the moment. Not agressively, because I have neither the space nor the time to pin it out to perfection. However, a towel has enough grip to hold the knitting more-or-less in place once it's been wet & squeezed dry.

And, most importantly, the sun is shining and I'm off for a walk before it hides!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Tortoise-ing along

Progress overnight on Devan from Knitty in Opal and Sunbeam sock yarns. Slow going, as it's 180 stitches across both fronts and the back - worked together to avoid having to count three times to get them all the same length.

I was getting a bit fed up and worked out that 180 stitches takes me between 6 and 7 minutes to work. That's 12 - 14 minutes to work across-and-back on the whole thing, so perhaps I shouldn't be quite so impatient.

I probably shouldn't have been so surprised, given that I'm working on 3.25mm needles, but that's the same number of stitches as half way down my lace poncho (pattern coming soon, I promise.)
Chantelle lace poncho

I'll add photos of my Devan progress & yarn info once I've been back to bed for a bit. We've had a busy month or so at the hotel, which is good, but we're both very tired!