Thursday, December 28, 2006

Sewing again

I decided that after the madness of Christmas Eve and Boxing Day in the pub, I needed a little time for me. After the blue blouse woes, I decided to try something a little simpler. I need summer tops, as I don't think T-shirts look particularly professional unless they're under a jacket or similar.

I found this New Look pattern (now out of print) sitting amongst the dust and stour in what was supposed to be my craft room before the renovations got out of hand, so I set to....

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I'm quite pleased with the result, for a first attempt:

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The back view isn't as good, partly due to the static, but partly also because it just doesn't fit right. I can't quite figure out why, but suspect it may have something to do with a bum that sticks out, and a waist that goes in....

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And yes, I am that lopsided - it's not just the way I'm standing.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


There's a very thoughtful article by Brian Taylor, political editor to BBC Scotland published today.

We're coming up to the anniversary of the abolition of the Scottish Parliament, which is causing all manner of rantings and ravings from assorted politicians. In summary: do we keep the Union or not?

I'd like to hear the debate that Mr Taylor asks for, but suspect that we're only going to get a question-and-blame session from both sides before the Scottish elections next May.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Whatever you celebrate, have a wonderful day....

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Apologies in advance.

I've just received the new Avon brochure (cosmetics by mail order) and was happily browsing when I came across this:

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Here's a larger version of the offending bit:

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Excuse me? What on earth is going on here? Botox for your 21st birthday, anyone?

I'm afraid I'm not particularly coherent about this, but quite frankly if we're to start worrying about getting old-and-wrinkly as soon as we leave our teens, then I think we've got our priorities just a little bit skewiffy.

More simply: I don't want to look like Cher when I'm 60!

Monday, December 18, 2006


Well, DH and I have chosen the fabric which he's going to order for my Christmas present.

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The blue is much less visible to the naked eye than the camera makes it appear. I think it will make a lovely classic jacket, once I dare take scissors to it!

Second choice was this textured black:

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Two more that we liked, but didn't think were appropriate at this stage:

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Along those lines, I bumped into some georgeous linen, designed on a hand loom and woven in Europe as I was mooching around looking for shirting fabric.

The Linen Shop is definitely worth a look if you're into quality fabric and/or furnishings.

Hotel stuff
Still no progress on the flood cleanup. We can't start without a quote, and our tradesmen are taking their time.

Mutter, Grump!

Other than that, I'm waiting up for a guest.
His first question on booking was "Do you have 24 hour reception?"
Well, not exactly. When there's only two of you, you need to sleep at some stage. Still, if I know when someone will be arriving, I don't mind waiting up - Mahler 1 on Radio 3 is good company for my sock knitting.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Money Matters

You may recall that I was having a little local difficulty with my credit card provider some time ago., and that I sent them a rather lovely letter.

In case you missed the whole sorry saga: I'd received a refund for some online purchases, and Cahoot chose to regard this as my payment for the month, and didn't take the direct debit payment I had set up. No credit card payment = interest due....

Unfortunately, Cahoot didn't see it that way, and informed me, in summary, that this was perfectly normal behaviour from a credit card provider. I didn't have to pay interest because I had spotted the problem and paid it pdq, but the gist of their communication was that I could expect a similar occurrance every time I received a refund for goods paid for with their Visa card.


So, I went looking for a better deal.

Please note: I am not a financial adviser, and I don't play one on TV! This is my experience of looking for terms that suited me.

The decision-making process went something like this:
Q: What do I use my card for?
A: Buying online, holiday spending sometimes, general shopping.
Q: Do I need a low interest rate or balance transfer rate?
A: No. I pay my card in full every month, and have no outstanding balance.
Q: What features do I therefore need?
A: Commonly accepted type (not Amex), low commission on currency conversions, low commission on cash withdrawals overseas.
Q: What features would be nice?
A: Ability to pay the balance in full by direct debit to avoid forgetting. Some sort of reward scheme, as I'm not going to benefit from a low interest rate if I pay it off each month. Internet banking.

The Yorkshire Building Society offers a Visa card with a reasonable interest rate, amongst the lowest I could find for foreign currency conversion, and cashback!

I used the Money Supermarket to compare cards, but then went directly to the Yorkshire Building Society's website to apply as Money Supermarket suggested that you couldn't apply directly online.

The card is actually provided by the Co-Operative Bank, and I'm not altogether happy with their internet or telephone banking security procedures, so I'll try to log on as seldom as possible.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Light relief

Courtesy of The Spinning Fishwife.

I've never tried to embed an object in a blog posting before, and since blogger doesn't like Firefox on Linux, I'm having to do this manually.

I hope it works!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Knitting for Geeks

You may have noticed that I very seldom mention knitting for J. This is not because he doesn't appreciate knitting, but because the kind of knits he wears are far better bought than made. A single-colour crew neck in burgundy 3-ply for example....

However, today was different. The new Knitty is up, and one pattern in particular has received an extremely favourable response.

I had already considered the Linux Scarf, as well as Pasha - both of which show the Linux penguin Tux.

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The Binary Scarf however, got an unequivocal "Yes!" along with helpless laughter, so that's on the list once I've finished the latest pair of socks, and made a bit more progress on the patchwork knitting for the Retreat in May.

I'm not sure if he's going to insist on an actual message, rather than random code....

Wee Dish

Is done!

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I've uploaded the files to The Knitting Vault and am waiting for Fredda to OK it for sale. I really love the design of this little double-breasted cardigan / light jacket. It's old-fashioned enough to look classic, but modern enough to be comfortable and easy-care, I hope.

Right, it's up and you can find it here.

Friday, December 08, 2006


I've been glaring at level 19 of Weffriddles for some time now.


Still, 19 levels in 2 hours seems to be decent progress.

More pretties
From Linton Tweeds in Carlisle
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I'll try and get a better picture of all of them, but they are one-off high end tweed samples (£30 per metre!) and they are beautiful.

I think I might ask for 3m for a jacket as a Christmas present from DH - to be made some time in the next five years when I dare!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

More socks

I've found my sewing-up-needles, so the socks are done.

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Socka for the most part (a gift years ago), with the toes in St Ives 4-ply. I've misplaced the ball band, but vaguely remember around 50% cotton, 15% nylon and the rest wool for the Socka

I used my now-favourite pattern, but the Socka sock is much less snug than the Regia pairs. If I were to use it again, I'd work the sock on several stitches fewer, and work a shorter foot. I do love the colours, but probably won't use that yarn for socks again. It feels 'thin', and certainly less warm, which would make sense if you consider the cotton content.

I knew I would run out despite having relatively small feet, as last year I knitted a hat from the same 100g ball. I'd decided I needed a hat which was small enough to scrunch into the pocket that wasn't holding my gloves, and this did the trick. I'm really pleased with the pattern: maybe someday I'll even write it up.

Off to Selkirk today for a Food Hygiene course and exam. I came back after 7 hours feeling like I'd been hit in the back of the head with a board. I won't know if I've passed for several weeks, so I'm doing my best to forget it.

Still no word from the council's "Event Fieldworker" who is supposed to be assisting. If I don't hear by Monday, I think I'll just have to run with the plan on my own.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Last Wednesday I escaped to Kelso, and popped into Woolly Ewe which is in Abbey Court.

It's a bit out of the way, but look at what I found:

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Patons, RYC, Rowan, Jaeger

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Noro, Louisa Harding, Opal

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They also have a very shy member of staff who scampered around sorting things out for the photos, but didn't want to be seen!

I forgot to get a picture of the outside, but if you know Kelso, head out of town on Bridge Street past the Cloister Bar and take the first right.

Contact details are:
Woolly Ewe, 7, Abbey Court, Kelso, Roxburghshire TD5 7JA
Tel: 01573 225889
Open: Tues - Sat
Knit & Natter: last Weds each month (I think!)

The Flood
Thank you all for your sympathy. The fitting which failed was an old one, and appears to have been faulty. The plumber thinks about 15 years old, which was when push-fit was just becoming available, and it was a lot easier to get things wrong.

We're absolutely gutted, and waiting for the insurers to come and have a look before we can get anything done. Monday morning....

Monday, December 04, 2006

Umm, could I rephrase that...?

When I said we were unlikely to be flooded, I meant we were unlikely to be flooded from outside.

Last night 22mm (3/4") push-fit connector decided that it didn't want to hold the hot water pipes in room 4's bathroom together anymore.

It was really quite freaky, as there was water pouring through the ceiling of the function room (J has worked out about 50 litres a minute), and yet no sign of anything wrong in any of the bedrooms.

What a mess!

The plumber arrived within 10 minutes of our phoning, thank goodness, but we're going to have to repaper and redecorate the function room....


Sometimes you wish you'd kept your virtual mouth shut.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


The weather today is horrid. Gale for winds, driving rain, and cooooooooooooooooooold. Not nearly as bad as the winter storms in the US though, for which I am grateful. We're also very unlikely to be flooded here, unlike the poor folk in Hawick 10 miles away where they have been building on the old floodplain with predictable consequences. Those folk are now pretty much trapped, as they won't be able to sell (no-one will give a buyer a mortgage in a known high flood risk area), they can't get flood insurance, and there's a good chance they will be under water most winters. Dumfries, on the other side of the country, seems to be suffering badly as well. The perils of living on a small, densely-populated island when no-one wants to live in high-rise developments....

Yesterday, I signed up on the UK Government's experimental 'e-petitions' site. There's a petition requesting that ballot papers be modified to include None of the above as a valid option. I think that would probably increase voter turnout quite a bit. Spoiling a ballot paper just means your opinion isn't registered: this might be a better option and might even increase the pressure for proportional representation at Westminster.

Thank you all for your congratulations on the new-look hotel. We're still dealing with painters in the corridors and a bit of joinery in the new dining room, but overall we're very happy indeed. I'm horribly jealous of the new guest bathrooms....

More socks! I've mislaid my sewing-up needles, so the next pair will remain technically unfinished until I find them.

I'm also experimenting with log cabin knitting, after being inspired by this.

Fibre Craft Retreat
Sigh. It's taking me far far longer to get this finalised that I had feared. So far I have two workshops confirmed: backstrap weaving and patchwork knitting, with possibly feltmaking as well (depending on whether the teacher is available).

It will definitely be going ahead on the weekend of 11 - 14 May 2007, here at the hotel, and will include a Borders Banquet, the opportunity to visit a working knitting mill/factory (from Sheep to Sweater), a guided walk around the Royal Burgh of Jedburgh, and of course, plenty of time to sit and be sociable.

I'm also hoping that we can work on a charity blanket, which will be offered to the Roxburgh Volunteer Service to help them raise funds for their work with the elderly in the area. I suspect this will take more than one Fibre Craft Retreat to complete....

Just as soon as I've had confirmation from everyone involved (this includes the Council, as they are supposed to be helping with advertising) I will contact everyone who has expressed an interest. If you want to add your name to the list, please email me using the link at the top right of this page.