Saturday, 31 December 2005

Happy Hogmanay!

Happy Hogmanay tae a'body awey. Hope you're having a right stooshie wharever ye are.

See you in 2006. Hid's bin richt grand.

Stonehaven fireballs

The teuchter that cam fae Skye...fae Skye...fae Skye...fae Skye...!

Monday, 12 December 2005

Almost sorted...!

It's only now I've photographed everything I've been making over the last wee while that I realise I haven't been sitting on my basket doing sweet Fanny Adam after all. I've been a regular Mrs Beeton with all my craftiness! I dug out the brambles from the freezer and made a whole stack of bramble jelly. Pish easy to do and if you make jelly rather than jam you get all the seeds out of it. So fine to have a dollop of jam in amongst some fine rice pudding - mmmmmmmmmm!

This had to be followed up with a gaggle of sticky toffee puddings for handing out to folk as their Christmas presents - haven't had any complaints yet since I started doing it. The only complaint I get is that they want more sauce - greedy buggers!

Then we had a night over at Eli's, with the girlies, making our Christmas decorations. Of course mine had to be knitted so I had a lot of fun experimenting with electrical wire first...

Then I played with an old top of Eli's that I hacked to pieces and this was the result...

It improved slightly with a bit of a tidy up. We'll call it "the development stage"?!

Next is some Kid Classic gloves from Leigh Radford's book "Alterknits" - they're for *****.

I managed a pair of alpaca bedsocks for ***. Hope she likes them.

She's also getting this loopy scarf. Might be a bit sophisticated for walking the dogs though!

And finally, it's somebody's birthday just before Christmas so they're getting this lacey shrug.

And since it's a marker birthday she's getting a loopy scarf as well - not forgetting a sticky toffee pudding.

So after all that I don't feel quite so lazy after all. Time for some rice pudding and bramble jelly I think...mmm!

Tuesday, 29 November 2005

Finally finished something for me!

Finally finished something for me the other day after lots of Christmas knitting i.e. stuff that can't be photographed just in case folk look even though most of those getting the presents aren't exactly computer literate! I used the Cat & Dog Hip Knits silk and a pattern from the latest Interweave Knits for a Chanel style cardi which is more of an evening thing. No fastenings and I shortened the sleeves to 3/4's. I like it! Had to have it ready for going out with the girlies on Sat night after all.

Taking some stuff out with me offshore but don't know if I'll have much of a chance to do it. I don't get out there until about 7pm tonight so might only be doing presentation all day tomorrow. They might have one lined up for 8pm tonight - we'll see. I'm wearing about 5 layers - the recommended amount is 3 at this time of year. It's pigging cold and choppers don't have fancy heating like planes do.

Our weekend trips got postponed until next year and although the money would have been nice I'm quite relieved in some ways as I have plenty other stuff to crack on with that will pull in a reasonable amount of money by the end of January. It gives me more time to catch up with friends and family as well which suits me fine. Might even make it down to Mum's before Christmas rather than her have to hoick her bones all the way up here. I'll suss it all out once I get back on Thursday.

Feeling all hyper after having an email read out on Jeremy Vine this lunchtime. I know that makes me a sad case but it was more that he described as their email of the day! Just a wee story on a customer we had in Owlies who complained her soup was too hot and expected to get a free meal out of it - we told her to blow on it!. Considering I've been sending emails for the last 18 months I'm quite chuffed to get one read out.

And to finish...a pretty sunset from the other week. Yet another reason to try and stop the "Cooncil" trying to spoil things round about here by building even more rubbish. Why spoil a pretty view just to have more office buildings that will be left empty as there's no one around to fill the office space. The fight starts here...!

Tuesday, 15 November 2005

Eek...what next?!

It's all about to go a bit dolally for me now. Six offshore trips between now and Christmas starting with a 5.45am check-in tomorrow morning. Three of them are overnighters, one is for a couple of nights and the other two are over 2 weekends in December. I'm obviously getting old as I'm not that bothered about missing out on nights out - thinking of the cash instead to be honest. We've a few things we want to finish off in the house so the money's going to be a lot more useful than a couple of lost weekends.

It's all a bit up and down as we've found out now that not only are Scottish Enterprise going to build in the fields on our side of the track (eventually, well 3 or 4 years time anyway) but that the "Cooncil" (lovely folk) rezoned the land on the other side of our track a couple of years ago and want to take over another couple of fields to make another small industrial estate. So much for Green Belt - that obviously means sweet fanny adam! Just makes it a bit of a pain for when we come to sell as it might put off a few folk. We'll have to tread very carefully. It doesn't actually make spectactular sense for all this building of office space and low-level industrial units as demand for that sort of space will certainly go down rather than up as the oil industry downsizes over the next 30 years. There's loads of empty office space in Aberdeen - why build more! It doesn't really make sense to me.

Something else is going on which is driving up the wall with distraction but I can't say anything about it as it might not come off and while it's a bit scary it's also potentially very exciting. It could mean huge life changes - and no, it doesn't mean I am or I'm about to get pregnant. That's not scary or exciting - that's a whole other realm that we don't even want to enter...

So have I found time to knit even with all this work and other stuff going on? Like duh! Course I have. Finished the bedsocks for my Granny so just need to get sommthing else to send with it for her birthday. Hopefully she won't destroy a pair of cute bedsocks but I will make sure that careful care instructions are sent. She does have a habit of killing woollen items! I've also finished a loopy scarf (Colinette Isis) for Lou's birthday and I've nearly finished a lacey shrug (Artesano Alpaca and some discontinued Kaffe Fassett Kid Silk) for her as well. Just need to do a pair of wristwarmers (Rowan Kid Classic) to complete the luxury set as I've used all really plush yarns. She likes her luxury does our Lou. I've got to a do a couply of loopy scarves for Secret Santa type pressies and then I've got a pair of bedsocks to do for Mum as well so that should complete the Christmas knitting for this year.

Better go and find my clothes for the next couple of days. You have to dress in layers offshore as you never know what the hell the air-con is going to be like. It's going to be freaking cold...

Thursday, 3 November 2005

I've been a busy bee...

I have been rather busy knitting up all my Ally Pally purchases. I just couldn't keep my hands off most of the stuff - the only thing I haven't played with yet are my beads but then I can't take them offshore. Considering that I've been a tad busy with lots of stress presentations and workshops it's been rather fine to have lots of luxury yarns to play with.

First up - the angora/kid mohair mix hat. So soft, so cosy, so lush. Think I should make one for George?

Angora/Kid Mohair hat

Then I made a "Flora" (sans flower) with the chunkier angora. It is so gorgeous to wear and I spend half my time just sitting stroking it it's so fine.


Think George likes it as well...

George modelling Flora

Finished sock number one for Granny's birthday at the end of the month. I just hope she doesn't ruin them in the washing as they are alpaca and she has a a habit of shrinking natural fibres to hell and back. About to start another pair for Mum's Christmas as well in some lovely chocolate brown alpaca.

Sock from above

My Kaalund is being made up into a gorgeous wee jumper from a People's Friend supplement from the 1940's. I think it suits the wool perfectly and it's rather nice to have something rather delicate and lacy.

People's Friend jumper

The HipKnits silk didn't last long before I had to start knitting that up into a Chanel style cardi from the Interweave Knits special "Knitscene". I'm making it slightly smaller than the original as I know the silk has a tendency to drop with wear and since I'm not exactly blessed with the broadest of shoulders or biggest of boobs then neat fit is best to start with.

"Cat & Dog" Chanel Cardi

And finally...Vicki taught me how to crochet a Granny Square at the weekend however I think we can safely say that version no 1 kind of missed out on any resemblance to crochet. We laughed at attempt number 1!

Granny Square no 1!

However attempt no 2 was much more successful and does bear some resemblance to real crochet. Starting to get there. Don't think I'll turn totally to the other side but I do like the embellishments you can add to things once you've got the hang of it.

Granny Square no 2...

Stitch'n'Bitch tonight - time for a catch-up since I haven't been in ages.

Monday, 17 October 2005

Ally Pally: Part One...

I went with a budget and I didn't spend anywhere near the full amount. That is just so unlike me. I decided that I would only buy stuff that I hadn't come across before and wasn't accessible on the net - plus I had to remember the minor little quibble of transportation back home!

First stop was the Magknits stand to see my Clapotis in all it's glory (photos to follow - they were taken on the old-fashioned 35mm film, got a few cameras so I do still like to use them and I didn't feel it was right to borrow Robert's more expensive digital camera all the way to London). It looked very pretty and then I dove straight into her plastic bins full of silk and bought 5 skeins.

Hip Knits Silk: Part 1

Hip Knits Silk: Part 2

Then myself and Mandy had a magpie moment and were sucked in by the beads of the Speelbound Bead Co - so pretty and so sparkly.

The Spellbound Bead Co.

I had decided, before I went, that I was going to get myself a skein winder however if i'd had more sense I would have bought it at the end of the day as it was a bit of a bastard to cart about the place. Classic eye removal purchase really.

The Handweavers Studio

Then I fell in love with the softest angora from a South African co-operative. It's not the most perfectly spun yarn but I like the slubbiness of it. It is so adorably soft.

Angora: Part 1

I managed to keep my hands off it until the Saturday afternoon and then I just had to start knitting with it. It's going to be a wee scarf just for me (Flora from Knitty) but I have discovered I can only knit with it for a wee while before the fibres make me sneeze too much. I need to do the freezer trick with it I think.

Angora: Part 2

This mohair mix came from the same stand.

Mohair Mix

And a couple more pattern mags don't go amiss...

Pattern Mags

Or a copy of the textile directory so I can find all sorts of new sources of nice things.

Textile Directory

It was heavenly...

Wednesday, 12 October 2005

Something a bit happier

Although life can be pretty horrible at times it's also nice to remember the happy things that go on so here are some gorgeous photos of Rhonda and Gus's wedding out in Positano on the 1st September. I think they look rather gorgeous and pretty pleased with themselves. We couldn't make it out to Italy but they've made damn sure that everybody can share in the event with all the photos and a DVD of the ceremony as well.

The bride

The groom

Getting hitched

Looking lovely

The Scottish Mafia

Flowers are funny!

Time to get some vino

On the 1st October they had a reception back in Aberdeen for everybody that couldn't make it out to Italy (so that would be most folks then). As you can see, by the end of the night I was quite out of my tree but in a bouncy, lots of dancing sort of way so I was quite harmless really. Pleased with my Ebay frock - it got loads of compliments.

The end of the night

And then Karen decided to get in on the act as well. Mike seemed to miss out on the crisp focusing at this point but considering that neither myself or Karen were probably seeing straight at the time either then it's probably quite apt.

We're a bit out of focus...and that's how we're seeing things as

And I've just found out that the Orcadian has just started a new comic strip. Looks a tad like an Orcadian Calvin to me but the neighbour (that appears in later strips) is slightly based on the artist's grandad so there is a bit of sentimentality involved there for me as I remember Jimmy from when I was growing up as he used to visit my grandparent's when he was alive.

The Orcadian Calvin?!

So it's off to London tomorrow for the show and a bit of destress away from Aberdeen. I'll be thinking of Katrina as it's her funeral - maybe, if she's really unlucky, I'll drag her around the show in my mind.

Tuesday, 11 October 2005


Sometimes life is pish! There is no other expression for it. I just found out this morning that a friend of mine has died. It's not as if it wasn't expected at some point but it still doesn't make it any better when it happens.

I worked with Katrina at what turned out to be the worst job ever. Okay, that's not strictly true, the job wasn't so bad there were just a few dodgy folk who screwed it up for everybody else. In 1999 I left the Dugald Baird Centre to join a research project in the Department of Medicine & Therapeutics as the Local Co-ordinator. It was a 6 year post, pretty much permanent as far research posts go, and looked pretty good. So off I toddled to TOMBOLA (Trial of Management of Borderline and other Low-grade Abnormal smears) full of enthusiasm for the prospect of a research project that might have an impact on the future health of women. I must admit it looks as though it has as part of the trial looked at the HPV strains which are precursors to cervical cancer and are now subject to the new vaccines.

Katrina was the overall Trial Manager and had a research and publication record as long as your arm. She was very petite, pretty, vivacious, good fun and fit as fuck! She did try and persuade me that running in my lunchtime was a good idea - I never fell for it. She had a gorgeous hubby called Glenn and 2 sappy bearded collies, Dylan and Murphy. They were nearly the size of her! The two of us clicked really well together and I enjoyed the job when it first kicked off. Unfortunately things didn't carry on so well as other members of the research team, those who had done the pre-grant application work, didn't take too well to letting go and enabling the project to progress. One individual in particular was the most insiduous little bitch who decided to make a number of people's lives hell. I was bullied to the extent that I ended up being off work for 8 months after a nervous breakdown. I never went back and left to go to another job instead. Katrina tried desperately to sort out the problems but this particular individual, with the support of others, continued to bully and undermine a number of other team members. It was the worst breakdown of working relationships I have ever seen. If it wasn't for Katrina I probably would have gone under much sooner than I did. She was only one person, she couldn't change such a horrific situation without support. In the end, she also went off sick due to stress and anxiety. The main individual concerned eventually sued the University for constructive dismissal and because they had failed to follow the correct procedures for what turned out to be an 8 year record of bullying and harassment she won her case. In the meantime she had managed to get rid of around 9 members of staff. Funnily enough the University now has a policy in place on workplace bullying but we have never received an apology for the absolutely shocking way we were treated.

Katrina tried to get back to work but struggled to cope after the huge bashing her confidence and self-esteem had taken. We had a bit of a mutual support group going to try and get each other back on track. She was always much more of a fighter than me. I didn't really start to improve until I went for some CBT 18 months ago - the best thing I ever did to improve my mental health. Then at Christmas Katrina got in touch and told me that her cancer was back and there were secondary cancers in the bone as well. I saw her in January and took her a soft loopy scarf (Colinette, waht else!) to give her something soft against her skin during her chemo.

I wish I'd gone to see her again but then I think she had enough on her hands fighting this bout of cancer. She was really bubbly and funny and we clicked and I'm just sorry that it must have been so painful for her at the end. I won't be able to go to the funeral on Thursday as it's when I fly down to London but then I'd rather remember in my head as this lively woman in her miniskirts who still used vegetable oil for tanning lotion rather than anything that had the whiff of an SPF factor in it. I don't want my last memory of her to be lying in a box in the crematorium.

Thanks Katrina for making sure I'm still here when it could have all gone so badly. You were one of the good things to come out of a really crap situation. I am so glad that I knew you even if it was for only a few years.

Thursday, 6 October 2005

Getting excited!

I'm getting all excited now about my trip to Ally Pally. It's a week away now and the exhibitors guide should be arriving in the post this weekend. So much pretty wool and patterns and beads and just like STUFF to play with. We could have gone to the show for 2 days instead of just the one but I don't honestly believe that either myself of Mandy's credit cards could handle it!

It's been a rather hyper two weeks up until Tues and then it all just evaporated. I had to prepare a 3 hour workshop on stress management and I was getting stressed out about it. Not sleeping, mouth ulcers, forgetting to eat. It went okay - put it this way, folk didn't realise it was the first one I'd done. An hour long presentation is so much easier, even if you have to do about 8 of them in a day offshore. At least you keep getting new groups of people to engage rather than have to keep the attention of a few folk for a whole morning.

I'm busy knitting my Vogue Knitting Tank Top in readiness for London. Have to have something pretty to wear to the show. Can't wear a BOUGHT jumper now can I?! I adapted the pattern to be knit in the round to save on seaming. Not too hard to do when there are no sleeves involved. Almost up at the armholes now. I have lopped about 4 inches off the body as I'm too much of a short-arse for the full-size version.

VK Fall 05 Tank top

I splurged the last of my Amazon birthday vouchers on Leigh Radford's Alterknits. This book has been on my wish list since I first spotted it and it has some absolutely gorgeous stuff in it. I know a few folk who will like the silver knitted necklace. Might just have to get the acoutrements for making some for Christmas and birthday pressies.

Time to warm up. The heatings been off since Monday as Bill is fitting a new boiler and radiators. Not looking forward to the pennies for it going out of my account (I wanted a new kitchen) but it will save us a fortune in the long run. Just as well it's been unseasonably mild in Aberdeen - or is is now to be known "Aberdeen and Shire: A brighter outlook"! How pish is that for a slogan - puleese, get a grip. £150,000 and some focus groups and that's the best they can come up with.

I caught George in the middle of a new trick last night. I was coming back all the corridor towards the living room when he ran in front of me and then jumped up to grab the door handle to open the door. He missed (which was funny) but I'm still stunned that he appears to have grasped the concept of the bendy metal bit on the door having something to do with opening it. Maybe there's a few more brain cells rattling about in there than we first thought - doubt it like but there could be...!

Thursday, 22 September 2005

It's Quiz Night!

By all accounts I belong to...

You Belong in Rome

You're a big city girl with a small town heart

Which is why you're attracted to the romance of Rome

Strolling down picture perfect streets, cappuccino in hand

And gorgeous Italian men - could life get any better?

What City Do You Belong in? Take This Quiz :-)

Find the Love of Your Life
(and More Love Quizzes) at Your New Romance.

I wanted to be a bad girl but it turns out that I am a...
You Are a Normal Girl

You are 40% Good and 60% Bad
Sure you've pulled some bad girl stunts in your past.
But these days, you're (mostly) a good girl.

And as far as boots go, by all accounts I am...
You Are Bold Red Boots

You like to put your most outrageous foot forward!

And who would have thought that I had an ambition in life to be...

You are White Chocolate

You have a strong feminine side with a good bit of innocence thrown in.
Whether your girlish ways are an act or not, men like to take care of you.
You are an understated beauty, and your power is often underestimated!

What Kind of Chocolate Are You? Take This Quiz :-)

Find the Love of Your Life
(and More Love Quizzes) at Your New Romance.

Tuesday, 20 September 2005

First, an apology...

It is official - I have absolutely no manners. My Mum would spank my bottom for being such an ill-mannered quine! With all the excitement (!) the last few weeks I forgot to say who my Secret Pal was. It turns out to be Ali, someone of whom I am very envious as she lives on a barge in North Englandshire. I always wanted to live on a boat when I was down in London but instead we stuck to a boring flat instead. She has been a great Secret Pal and has spoiled me rotten. Without her I wouldn't have discovered Hip Knits silk, wouldn't have made another Clapotis (and OSW) with it, wouldn't have taken pictures and sent them to Kerrie at Hip Knits and wouldn't be having MY Clapotis on display at the Knitting and Stitching show at Alexandra Palace as one of Kerrie's samples. How excited am I at the thought of 1000's of people seeing the scarf?! To me this is the equivalent of exhibiting a painting for the first time. So, thanks Ali for your part in the whole thing. Plus Wally looks to be a lovely cuddly puddycat but then I tend to think that about all cats - even lions and tigers!

So, what else has been happening? We had a wedding the other week which was absolutely fantastic. One of the best things about Scottish weddings are the plethora of kilts on display. For those who think it's just a man in a skirt then they are so so so wrong. Kilts are wonderfully sexy and until you've seen a bloke walk past you with the kilt swinging as they've got just enough bum to make the pleats swish and a fine pair of legs...just drooling at the thought of it. The wedding ceremony was short and sweet (how I like it) and the reception was really fun. Not only are Willie and Lindsey lovely but so are the group of mates that we know through them. It sounds so naff but you could really feel the affection in the room for the pair of them. The ceildh band were ace (samba rhythms for Stripping the Willow) and I even got Robert up for a St Bernard's Waltz - even if I did have to lead as he wouldn't turn round for the waltzing bit! Lot's on tacky 80's music and good Scottish singalong tunes later. An ace night.

Willie & Lindsey (10 Sept 2005)

Picking up the car from town on the Sunday caused a bit of a sharp intake of breath when we saw lots of smoke coming from the direction of our house but once we got nearer we discovered that it was the farm behind us. These are the guys that actually farm the land around us. Turns out the guy had been welding in the byre in the morning and a spark caught something. The building was full of old tyres, machinery, etc so that's why the smoke was so black. Not nice.

Davidson o'Mains

As far as knitting goes I completed a little cardi for Isla next door's 1st birthday. It is so cute. It's from Knitty and I used Rowan Handknit DK cotton in Shell and Slick. Even as I was knitting it I couldn't believe how cute it was. As you can see, the original model is a bit shy...

Shy model!

I persuaded them to turn around later. Isla looks much cuter in it to be honest and it has gone down very well with Mum as I'm the first one to make Isla something a bit more cool and trendy and not quite so old wifey traditional knitting pattern that's been around since I was a kid...!

Front view of Isla?!

Getting all excited about my trip to London next month. It'll be the first time I'll have been back since I left the place in 1991! Not only am I looking forward to the Knitting and Stitching Show but I can't wait to meet up with Mandy for a good catch-up on life and "what's been happening with you" that you can't really do with emails or phonecalls. We're staying with a friend on her's so that saves on accommodation costs (couldn't really afford the trip otherwise) so I have to take some rowies down for Pauline so she can remember exactly why she left Aberdeen! Probably going to meet up at the V&A as we both get into London early afternoon and Pauline will still be at work then. Their textile exhibitions should get us in the mood for the rest of the weekend. Can't wait.

So what else is up? I won't go into the Scottish Enterprise and their planned survey's for the land around us as that will just get me mad at the moment until we get a bit more of the full story. Knitting wise? I've started on the Christmas present production line. My first hot water bottle cover has just gone into production. I want to get hold of some Artesano Alpaca so I can do a a few pairs of bedsocks for a few folk. After struggling to regain momentum on the "I Do" shrug from Knitty with my alpaca instead I've ripped it back and instead I'm using it to make the following vest from the latest Vogue Knitting. I've converted the pattern to knit it in the round as I want to eliminate seams wherever possible. Now if I can figure out my short-row shaping for the shoulder seams and do a bit of grafting or a 3-needle bind-off then it'll be sorted. Let the challenges continue...

Vogue Knitting - Fall 2005