Tuesday, October 25, 2005

One year ago today

We took ownership of The Spread Eagle Hotel. It was, to all intents and purposes, closed. The public bar was open for part of the day from Thursday to Sunday - basically being run as a private club by the owner.

Today, one year on, we have reached the 20% occupancy we were aiming for, and are gradually carrying out a program of upgrade-and-repair works supervised by the project managers JDI of Nottingham.

To be honest, I've been so busy preparing for the Hallowe'en party that we're holding on Friday to celebrate making it to the end of this year that I've not really stopped to think about the milestone much. Green custard creams (green & blue colouring to get a decent shade), still-to-be-iced iced spice biscuits in various appropriate shapes, and the small matter of a steak pie for dinner (yum), have occupied me for the past five hours!

I do still think that we picked a good one, in terms of both location and potential, and hope that we can make a decent job of getting "Scotland's oldest continually-licensed hotel" back up and running fully over the next few years.

Now I'm going to go and soak my sore feet....

Monday, October 24, 2005

Stop press

Diana, who seems to be a very methodical knitter indeed, has just pointed out two mistakes in the pattern for Chantelle (version chantelle051011.pdf). One isn't too bad, the other is likely to cause a certain amount of cursing.

Mistake 1:
On starting the yoke, you are instructed to pick-up 80 stitches and then work (k1, kfb) to end to get 122 stitches. This doesn't work - you get 120 as any competent mathematician would have told you.
Please, amend your pattern to:
Pick up 81 stitches i.e. pick up one stitch in your bind-off row, which makes a neater edge anyway, and work (k1, kfb) to last stitch, then kfb in the last stitch to give you 122 stitches.

Mistake 2:

This is rather more serious, and involves the set up for the lace.
Here is the corrected section of the pattern, with the changes in bold type

For Poncho:
Join work in the round, being careful not to twist, as follows:
Turn, and bring the two ends of the circular needle together.
Slip the last two stitches on the RH needle onto a cable needle and hold at the front of the work.
Knit one stitch from the cable needle together with one stitch from the left hand needle, place round beginning marker (R), knit second stitch from the cable needle together with one stitch from the left hand needle.
Knit 1 round, decreasing one stitch at the beginning and one at the end of the round, then follow the Lace Section instructions below.
For Cape:
Do not join in the round, instead, start 2-stitch i-cord edging by knitting the first two stitches of each row and slipping the last two stitches as if to purl with yarn in front.
Knit 1 row, then follow the Lace Section instructions below, but purl the plain knit rows.
Lace section:
Round 1: sm[R], 8(k2, pm[MC], work row 1 of lace pattern, pm[CC], k2)

In other words, you decrease two stitches in the plain round after you have joined the work, and then have a gap of 4 stitches between each lace section in the first round.

I will amend the .pdf of Chantelle some time next week (after the Halloween party on Friday anyway) so if you have requested a copy from 10pm on 24 October, there is likely to be a delay in receiving it....

Thanks Diana!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Of city life vs. small town life

Those of you who have read my intro to this blog will have noticed that DH and I moved to a small town in the Scottish Borders a year ago. This has its pluses and its minuses: both being due to the fact that living in a small town means that far more of your neigbours know (and are interested in) your business. What they don't know, they will happily make up!

Sometimes this is very frustrating indeed, but at least we are unlikely to find ourselves in a similar position to the three-year-old who police now believe may have survived for up to six weeks on his own in a flat in Edinburgh after his mother died.

Awful thought. Living in a multistorey with many near neighbours, and nobody notices that you've not been seen for over a month....

Saturday, October 22, 2005

If the hat fits....

Wear it!
Three hats

I'm stealing time from the never-ending laundry monster which is the result of five hotel rooms and very few stays of more than one night to talk about hats. It's cold, wet, and dismal, and just the perfect weather to be working on something warm and cosy.

My hats are made following a 'recipe' which I know works for most weights of yarn when knitted at a fairly firm gauge. It gives a reasonably snug-fitting beanie style hat, which is how I like it.

Firm gauge for me is Chunky on 6.5mm needles, DK on 4mm needles, 4-ply on 2.75mm needles (I'll measure the stitch/row gauge next time I'm sitting down)

When I worked at a slightly looser gauge (4-ply on 3mm needles), the recipe needed tweaked as it resulted in a very snug fitting beanie indeed (the blue/grey one in the photo above) I still like the result, but it definitely would have been improved by a change to either the gauge or the pattern.

I'm now working on another sock yarn hat, this time for the brother, who likes his hats quite a bit longer than I do. I doubt I'll get much done today or tomorrow (weekends are our busy time, DH is having a day-and-night off in Edinburgh, and there's a christening party tomorrow) but photos and the recipe will follow in due course.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Mrs Mop

We interrupt your regularly scheduled knitting....

Thats my knitting, by the way.

With some rather unscheduled cleaning. One of my two part-time cleaners has handed in his notice. He's keen, enthusiastic, hard-working, and really wants to do a good job.

The government provides a minimum income guarantee of £45 each week, along with help in paying rent etc, to those who are out of work.
As soon as these people start work, the government starts clawing back the handout. It all makes sense to the mandarins in Whitehall I'm sure:
  • not in work: income £45
  • work 1 hour, income £45 + £5.05 (minimum wage)
  • work 2 hours, income £45 - £10.10 + £5

In other words, if you work 1 hour you get £50.05, and if you work 9 hours - you get the same. They take back everything except for the first £5 you earn, and once you get over £45 a week, they start cutting back on the help you get with paying rent.

Would you work?

Neither will he.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Big scary boss

That, apparently, is me. I'm going to have to try to be one later this week when I have words with one of my staff who hasn't been turning up for shifts. I've written and sent the 'please get in touch' letter, and await developments.

On the knitting front, I've been surprised and gratified by the response to Chantelle. I thought it was lovely, and it seems lots of you do too. Thanks!

I'm working on winter hats and scarves at the moment. One for me, in the same yarn I'm using to make Flora, which is at the blocking-and-hunt-for-buttons stage.
Flora scarf section
Incidentally, blocking this chunky yarn (King Cole Magnum Chunky) has given me warning not to wear said scarf with light-coloured clothing, and reminded me why I use an old towel for blocking.
Dye transfer
Just look at the amount of dye which has come out of the black sections of the yarn!

More on the hats tomorrow....

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Perfect is good....

Done is better!

And in that spirit, I give you
(click here for a larger picture.

Do email me if you'd like a .pdf copy of the pattern.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

I wish to complain

in the strongest possible terms. (with apologies to Monty Python and that Lumberjack) About Devan, that is.

My cousin had a son, Joshua, by emergency C-section on the 3rd. So, I got the bits of Devan out to do the final finishing.

Button band
The instructions on Knitty say clearly:
Shape neck and shoulders:
K18[20, 24, 28] sts and place these shoulder sts on a holder, BO 30[32, 32, 36] sts, K to end and place these 18[20, 24, 28] sts on a holder.

Then, when you get to the instructions for the band, you get:
Front band:
With RS facing, smaller needles and CC, (details of pickup snipped here) K30[32, 32, 36] sts from back neck holder, (more details of pickup snipped here)

So, you bind of stitches on the back, and then knit them off the holder you didn't put them on when you come to do the band.

Sigh. So I picked them up and worked the bands anyway, reasoning that a slightly firmer back neck might not be a bad thing. I had, however, reckoned without the second oopsie.

So, I'm knitting at a significantly looser gauge than the pattern specifies: 6 1/2 spi as against the 7 1/2 spi specified. I've followed the instructions for knitting the buttonholes exactly.
For boy's sweater:
K1, *purl to first marker, SM, RM1, P1, LM1, SM; rep from * once, **YO, P2tog, P10[10, 12, 14]; rep from ** to last 5[5, 6, 4] sts, YO, P2tog, P2[2, 3, 1], K1. (4[5, 5, 5] buttonholes).

And I get:
Front band with biro buttonhole with biro
Buttonholes I can't get a biro through.

I considered toggles instead of buttons. I considered i-cord ties instead of buttons. Then I looked more closely at the place where the button band meets the rolled edge of the sweater.
Corner closeup
and remembered the too-tight back neck bind-off-and-pickup instead of knit-off-live-stitches fiasco, and decided that it would never look quite right. I don't know of any way to make an edge which curls under (the bands) join onto an edge which curls over (the lower border) without it looking like the fudge that it is, and a stiff neck is a pain whether you've got one or are wearing one.

So I'm going paddling in the frog pond again.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Deja Vu

We've had a group of insurance sales reps staying with us since Sunday night. They like staying up late. Very late. Like 4am late. So, any time not spent doing essentials is being spent sleeping. In shifts. Add to that the fact that we're one down on staff due to holidays this week, and things have been a bit daft.

Good daft, in that we're full and busy and the reps seem to be enjoying themselves, mind.

Actually, it feels very like the early days of our relationship, when he was working nightshift and I was in the lab. We'd meet on the stairs twice a day at around 7.30am and 10pm! At least we're in the same building now, even if this is the most we see of each other aside from when we're doing breakfast.
J after a long night

Knitting, well. Lets just say that designing after 4 hours sleep is a bad idea. I've been splashing about in the frog pond again.

Monday, October 03, 2005

A frogging we will go.

Ho hum. Due to a staff no-show I was in the pub from 14.30 until 24.30 yesterday. For this, I have precisely nothing to show knit-wise.

Adding garter at 45 degrees to garter, doubling the number of stitches Does Not Work. It ruffles. Badly. And gets Ripped Out.

Adding stocking stitch in the same position should have worked. But I forgot to double the number of stitches. And ripped out again.

At that point, I decided that perhaps I'd done enough knitting, and put it away.

The cold war broke out in the pub again last night when I had the temerity to suggest to a punter that he'd probably had enough to drink, and I wouldn't be giving him any more after he'd finished his current pint. Apparently, you just don't do that to Locals.

And you thought that League of Gentlemen was a comedy
(catch phrase: "This is a Local shop, for Local people. There's nothing for you here!)

Pictures of progress tomorrow. If I make any, that is.

Saturday, October 01, 2005


But sometimes you're just so busy being busy that you lose sight of what you're trying to achieve.

Weekends are, of course, our busy times. This weekend particularly so, as we had a party upstairs last night, and there's a music session tonight. Should be fun though, as the band, "Slainte Mhath" (pronounced Slaan-je Vaa - it's Gaelic) are a Scots-Irish duo who did a spontaneous session in the pub a few months ago.

I'm not looking forward to the quieter winter months in terms of actual work, as sitting in an empty pub with the TV for company is not my idea of fun, but it will be useful to have some time to think and plan.

Knitting progresses rather faster than I would like, given that it's something I do when the the pub is quiet and I can talk and knit in between serving customers.

From Monday lunchtime:
Shawl centre started
To Wednesday evening:
Shawl centre completed

I do need to get back to Devan (see below for progress to date) sometime soon, and Chantelle is getting very urgent indeed as the cousin it's intended for is due to have her first child within the next month....