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...!