Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Much Making

My impromptu craft table
...or rather finishing. Since I've been staying in waiting for parcels today & yesterday I thought I'd get some of my on-the-go projects finished off. Having these things completed and my mending pile being smaller feels good :)

I liked the crochet cats I made for S & Boy so much that I've made another for myself. She's got a purpose-bought button nose and bright green eyes but otherwise is just the same as Lab Cat. I haven't stuffed her body or attached her head because I don't know what to stuff her with yet. The pattern is  Crochet Kitten from Marmalade Rose & I've added her to my Ravelry notebook.

My friend gave me this shritdress several years ago and although I loved the fabric it just didn't fit comfortably over my hips. So, after asking permission, I hacked off the skirt section (at a convenient seam) and hemmed the top part into a blouse. There was a button missing at the top but luckily as the placket extended into the skirt section there was a newly redundant button which I transplanted. I think I've only ever worn this once before (with the skirt part folded up) but now it's a wearable blouse :D

These ripple scarves are made of leftovers from blankets I made last year for my friend and sister. The red, white & blue one came first and was actually a first attempt at the blanket which turned out way too long. I tried to make the second one the same size by counting the ripples, but I must've got the wrong hook or had considerably worse tension as it's come out far, far bigger and I had to buy more pink and brown yarn to finish it!
These have been leapfrogged in my crochet queue by a fair few other projects so it's really nice to have them done. They're also part of my 25 Before 23 as they're going to be sent off to some friends on the other side of the world(ish).

Less excitingly I've also patched up some holes in cardigans. I won't bore anyone with photos of those.

My next projects to finish are: stuffing lady cat, re-hemming my suit trousers, birthday present for Boy's Mum, and finishing the seams in my Simplicity 2451. I've just received something that might come in handy too ;)

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Doings & Happenings

Pulled pork & slaw roll from Grillstock at St Nicks Market
  • After a small storm of technical tests and interviews I've been offered a job! Yay! I'm waiting somewhat anxiously for the paperwork to come through but, all being well, I should be employed pretty soon. I'm pretty lucky to be in a sector where jobs are relatively plentiful but I still didn't enjoy the process of applying for them. Cover letters are the worst. Apart from presentations, that is. I really hate those. But, fingers crossed, there will be no more of that for quite a while. The job I've been offered is in a fairly relaxed office so I don't need to add to my suit collection (I had to wear one in sixth form). I've stocked up on tights though - there's nothing worse than being in a hurry and having to go through a whole pile only to find that there are none without holes in. (yes I could throw them away when they get holes but I'd happily wear them at weekends so why waste them? I think segregating work and weekend tights is the way forward)
  • I've been eating out lots (not entirely intentionally) and trying new places. I've written a post about all of it but I think it might be a bit long and uninteresting to actually publish! The short  & positive version would be: Friska, Flinty Red, Hart's Bakery, Grillstock = GOOD
    This week I'm making my first ever trip to ZaZa Bazaar - apparently the biggest restaurant in Europe(?). It'll be an experience.
  • I've been working on a few crafty things - mostly presents - and finally went to Stitch 'n' Bitch again. I got lots more of my twin scarves done, started Boy's Mum's birthday present, and got part-way through turning an old shirt dress into a blouse.
  • I've read The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy and Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh, both of which I borrowed from the library. I really appreciate the fact that my Somerset library card works in Bristol. Even though it wouldn't be hard to sign up for a Bristol one I like that they've made it easier for me :)
    I got TMOC out as I hadn't read any Hardy before and I think this was the one Mum recommended I try first. I enjoyed it. I found some of the description of Casterbridge superfluous but perhaps I was missing some meaning? I wonder if if I knew Dorchester I'd appreciate it more? (the fictional town of Casterbridge is based on Dorchester) I was somewhat annoyed by the course the book took (Persuasion-style eternal devotion is more my thing) but it worked out in the end!
    I got Decline and Fall out when I returned TMOC. I'd wanted to re-read Sense & Sensibility but it wasn't there so I browsed a bit. I've read Brideshead Revisited previously but didn't think of that at the time. I found Decline and Fall a bit strange. I think that it was the combination of subject matter and style - had the injustice been presented in a straight or dramatic style it would have had me in tears (like Atonement) but the comic presentation didn't quite sit right with my instinct to be horrified. I liked the clever neatness with which the book finished but found it quite a light read - I read quickly, finishing it in three short stints, and the lack of insight into the main character's thoughts and actions made it not very engaging. Quite the opposite of Villette, for example, which has whole chapters of swirling thoughts and allegories.
    Next I'm going to read Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.
  • I've spent a lots of time helping my friend campaign to be elected to a sabbatical position in the students' union. We did lots of walking around the university with a big sign, giving out brownies and trying to persuade people to vote. The turn-out in the election this year was 25% I think, which sadly is pretty good. The result didn't go in our direction but, as we pointed out, this means my friend doesn't have to spend next year fending off angry society presidents who have no space while the union is being refurbished!
I'm glad to have spent plenty of time relaxing at home & with Boy this weekend, and next weekend we're off home to celebrate my birthday. I hope the weather becomes properly Spring-like!

Monday, 11 March 2013

Start Where You Are, Use What You Have, Do What You Can

 I think these words of wisdom will feature in my next cross-stitch creation - somewhat nobler than my last...
Oh 99p Store.

 There was something not quite right about this from the start

Then things got distinctly owl-shaped

 And this is what my poor sister got for her birthday
The kit really did come from the 99p store, the colours were probably the ones for the golden retriever in a garden picture, and the frame is from Wilko. I also bought my sister some cosy pajama trousers from M&S :)
For added wisdom, here's yet another link to Ashley's blog.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Crochet - Lab Cat

If not for sits then why is made of warm?
 This is lab cat. He was born of a wish to crochet something small and the collection of wool left over from the blanket I made for The Boy. Lab Cat, as his name might suggest, lives in a lab. He looks after the equipment when no-one is around, helps the boy take measurements, and keeps the lab free of crochet mice.

Can has oscilloscope?
I followed Marmalade Rose's crochet kitten pattern again but continued the body until I had used each colour three times, giving me 42 rows instead of 34. This just means that lab cat is rather longer in the body than his green cousin. He's stuffed with cotton wool as that's what I had on hand - this means that he also stands up a lot better than little green cat.
 You can see all my notes on Ravelry here along with The Boy Blanket.

Most of my latest crochet projects have been for other people - but I'm attempting to balance that out now with a matching little cat of my own. How many cats is too many?

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Interviews & Inspirational Links

Notebooks I didn't buy - though I later realised I own a matching biro :)
I've just had my second interview of the week - a telephone one - and am feeling a little bit adrenaline-y. What better time to blog?
I'd mostly like to record this feeling of being capable of doing things and actually fulfilling requirements - after the long sapping of confidence that was my degree course (and extension) this is exactly what I've been missing. To go into a phone interview wondering why they've taken it this far when I obviously crashed and burned at the technical test stage, and then be told that I did really well... well that's a good feeling. And hopefully I'll be able to hold onto it when I'm fighting the public transport system and facing doing a 10-15 minute presentation tomorrow morning. Wish me luck?

For your delectation, and my record, here are a few inspirational pots I've come across whilst fighting my reader backlog:
  • Leah has led me to listen to music I was vaguely aware of but hadn't engaged with. Now I have tickets to see them in May :)
  • Alex's post on life organisation through notebooks inspired me to take the plunge and actually use some of my enormous stationery stash. I now have a making-things-ideas book to turn to when I want to start something.

Monday, 4 March 2013

25 Before 23 - March Update

My new-to-me teacup & saucer clash beautifully with my tray, jug & teapot :)
I'm a little earlier in getting to this than last month, but I also seem to have gone an entire month without posting anything. I have a fair few things I'd like to share - mostly things I've made and a few thoughts - but I haven't quite had the oomph to do it, despite my oodles of time. But, as ever, there's no point beating myself up. This blog is here for me to record things to look back at later and as a companion to encourage ordered thinking, it's not a chore. I have very little chance of becoming a "big" blogger and nor do I want to, so I should get on with filling my little space with the things I want to have in it, and the absence of posts in February rather reflects the sort of limbo that I've been in.
Hopefully things are moving forward a bit now - I've got two interviews this week and a possible telephone interview too, my birthday is coming up, and the boy has just passed his viva (so, subject to corrections, he'll be Dr boy in not too long).
Another thing I've noticed is that being busy, even with enjoyable things, gets too much if I don't stop for a while. I'd like to make sure I take some conscious break time in future; one of my favourite things I did last month was to spend a Saturday morning sitting on  my bed with a tray of tea & a biscuit (in the picture above) and mend some clothes that had been languishing in my mending pile. I wasn't rushing anywhere or thinking of other things I should be doing and it was lovely.
This morning there is glorious sunshine so after this post I will be getting out into it & going for a walk :)

25 Things
  1. Finish my final project - I'll hear by late June at the latest
  2. Get a job - Two interviews this week plus a possible telephone interview
  3. Move to Bristol - Still got an ongoing list of things to get from home but perfectly comfortable
  4. Sew a dress - Still not finished my seams, maybe next time I go home
  5. Make 10 of my recipe bookmarks / pins - Made a rosemary-crusted gallette, potato curry, afghans, disappointing pulled pork (my fault I think), toast for cheese, a post-viva cake for boy, shakshuka,
  6. Send parcels to far-away friends - Scarf still in progress, sent postcards to sisters & a friend
  7. Go to Southwold at least once
  8. Get rid of my Flickr backlog - in chronological order. Currently: film - October '11, digital - June '12
  9. Get a grip on my finances - Still needs doing. Argh. I should find a tutorial and follow it. Spreadsheet time! I think my previous spreadsheets have been too complex to keep up with
  10. Sell my eBay pile, swap my swap pile - It's all now in Bristol. Next step is listing and giving.
  11. Mend & alter my mending & altering piles - Mended two tops, two dresses I'd been wearing anyway, and a cardigan. Successfully felted one cardigan, decided that merino does not felt.
  12. Read a newspaper regularly - I'll treat myself to an i or two if I get a job!
  13. Weekend away by train
  14. Buy good shoes - Still looking out for boots
  15. Crochet 3 items from stashed wool - Kittens & blanket are on Ravelry, working on another kitten & the scarves above. Conquered a leaf pattern from this book.
  16. Get a new phone
  17. Read 3 good/classic books - My Somerset library card works in Bristol & I've brought The Mayor Of Casterbridge home with me
  18. Print more photos - Not chosen one for my spare frame yet
  19. Watch 3 good/classic films
  20. Exercise regularly - Making sure I walk somewhere every day & avoid buses
  21. Scrapbook - It's all at my parents' house still. Should start one with what I have here so I'm not increasing the backlog
  22. Have a picnic - No sign of it yet
  23. Visit a city farm
  24. Visit my sister at university - Soon!
  25. Cycle from Bristol to Bath - Too cold, bike in Somerset, no helmet