Monday, 30 January 2006

What fun!

I thought it would be fun to change my template tonight but of course I forgot to save my customisations before I went ahead and did it so I've had a lovely hour and a half getting all my links and buttons back again. Oops!

It's been a bit of a busy time this last week as I spent most of the week offshore but last Tuesday night I got to meet up with Ali who was my Secret Pal in round 5. She spoiled me rotten then (and got me addicted to Hip Knits silk) and she took along a wee pressie for me on Tuesday night which was totally unexpected. The merino wool is some of her own handspun and the lavender handcream is rather lush. One of the bars of chocolate were already eaten by the time this photo was taken!

It was really fine to meet up with Ali after reading her blog and emailing her for this last while. It's kind of weird getting to meet folk face-to-face in this way as you feel like you know something about them but you don't know the real ins and outs of a person as you only get to know, through their blog, what they are willing to reveal to the world. It does mean though that you're not meeting a new friend totally blind. I definitely hope it isn't going to be the last time the pair of us meet up though. It was a good evening (in Aberdeen's first totally smokefree pub - way to go The Old Schoolhouse!) even if I had to go reasonably early as I had a 6.15am check-in the next morning - boo hiss! I just hope that the poor lass didn't think that I chewed her ears off as I do have a habit of talking non-stop.

It is weird to think that knitting, essentially a solitary hobby, and the internet, the height of geekiness for so long, have combined so well to create totally new social outlet. My social life has expanded in leaps and bounds since I started to combine the two of the them and all of a sudden folk don't look at me quite so strangely when I mention knitting and blogging. The other thing I love is that you can start to make friends with folk from all over the place and there have been quite a few who have been really supportive during a bit of a difficult start to the year. It has been very much appreciated.

I did start thinking about the whole Secret Pal thing the other night though and came up with an alternative to a knitting one - okay it made me and Robert giggle. We wondered if you would get such a thing as a porn Secret Pal. Could you imagine the questionnaire:
1. What is your favourite form of deviancy?
2. What are your favourite toys?
3. Do you prefer girls or boys?

We just wondered what sort of things folk could send to each other - nipple clamps, edible knickers, vibrators. Who knows, maybe it exists out there. No way that I'm going to go looking for it though or you never know what sort of stuff you could end up with on your computer!

Woke up to a really hard frost outside so decided to be a bit artistic and take a few piccies. George did help but it was impossible to get him into any of the shots as he kept wrapping himself round my legs.

These muscari have been flowering since Christmas!

I love plants with frost on them. It's such a gorgeous effect.

It does mean it's a wee bit nippy outside but then it is still January...

I've been tagged...

...this is a first for me. I've been officially tagged by my Secret Pal's to do this meme so here go's.

Four Jobs You Have Had In Your Life
1. Waitress
2. Academic researcher
3. Stop Smoking counsellor
4. Health & Well-being consultant working offshore in the North Sea

Four Movies You Could Watch Over and Over - I wish I could be really intellectual here but...!
1. Grease
2. The Sound of Music
3. Gone with the Wind
4. Dumb and Dumber (perfect for those days when you are feeling totally miserable - just plain silly)

Four TV Shows You Love to Watch
1. Grand Designs (a British architectural show - fantastic houses)
2. Nip/Tuck
3. River Cottage (you have to see Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall to believe him)
4. Shameless

Four Places You Have Lived
1. Orkney
2. Edinburgh
3. London
4. Aberdeen

Four Places You Have Been On Vacation
1. Canada
2. Mexico
3. Russia & Ukraine (back in the days it was still USSR)
4. Most of western Europe - favourite being Lisbon

Four Websites You Visit Daily - believe me, I visit an awful lot more than 4 on a daily basis!
1. Crazy Aunt Purl
2. Get Knitted
3. Kerrie's Place
4. Float'n'Purl

Four favorite Foods
1. Chocolate
2. Seafood - especially scallops or crab
3. Raspberries
4. Mushrooms

Four places you would rather be right now (maybe not right now but these places would be nice)
1. Iceland
2. On a beach back home in Orkney in a howling gale with a stormy sea
3. Lisbon
4. On a ski slope whizzing down without falling over once

Consider yourself tagged...

Sunday, 22 January 2006

Evil website...

...there I was just having a bit of a blog surf after spending the last 3 hours putting together a planning objection to the local City Council and before going to plough through 3 weeks worth of ironing. On my surf mission I came across the most evil website - Kitten War! You are expected to judge which are the cutest kittens between pictures that are uploaded to the site. That is just plain evil as how can you pick between one ball of cutiepie fluffiness and another ball of cutiepie fluffieness. I have found myself being sucked in and started clicking away but it's just so unfair as they're all cute! Don't think George could ever go on it for being cute - one cat biscuit short of a full box perhaps but never cute. His claws are too scratchy for that - and his mouth too bitey!

Thursday, 19 January 2006

Hoot's mon, there's a moose...loose...aboot this hoose!

Being a proud Scot (and even prouder Orcadian - they are very different, I shall explain someday) I thought it was time to bring attention to the national sport of haggis hunting. We all know the basics about the haggis - it's an elusive creature, 2 legs shorter than the other so it can run quickly round the hills, tartan ribbons, etc, etc. Awfully tasty if you can get hold of a wild one compared with a farmed haggis. To help in the endeavour of finding the wee beastie you can go online to hunt haggis, especially convenient for those ex-pat Scots who are unable to track them in their adopted countries. To join in the Haggis Hunt just click here.

Good luck!

Bargain bagging

Our local Littlewoods closed down a couple of weeks ago and the one in Aberdeen had a Coats Crafts concession. A'thing was at 70% off so I went a bit mental and picked up quite a bit of stuff. Loads of Paton's cotton in 4-ply and DK, stacks of buttons, a a couple of patterns, some dye and a couple of other things. Not bad when you consider that full price it would have cost me £79 and with all that discount it cost me £23!

Wednesday, 18 January 2006

I want to be a princess in a fairy castle...

The Dreaming Princess

Your head is in the clouds and you don't feel like
coming back down to earth any time soon. You
have a very active imagination and may find
sometimes that you enjoy fantasy more than
reality. You are sweet and girlish, a loveable,
kind dreamer given to flights of fancy.

Role Models: The Princess of "The Frog

You are most likely to: Be enchanted by fairies
after falling asleep in the forest.

What Kind of Princess are You? - Beautiful Artwork (Original Music is BACK!!!)
brought to you by Quizilla

Sunday, 15 January 2006

Been better but it all takes time

It all started to go downhill late on the 1st of Jan really when Dad phoned me to say that Granny Heddle was going downhill rapidly, followed by her eventually dying late on the 2nd of Jan. I really didn't know how I was going to react as she's not really been here the last few years after a series of really serious strokes back in 2002. They affected her quite badly and I thought I'd done a fair bit of grieving for her at the point - obviously not the whole caboodle though. I'll admit to having been quite upset these last couple of weeks as the realisation that she really isn't going to get any better and be able to pick up the phone and speak to me is starting to sink in. I only travelled up to Orkney for the funeral on the day itself (Fri 6th) which meant that the first sight I got of her was the coffin at the front of the kirk. It threw me a bit. The kirk was full of folk and I know that most of them visited her while she was still alive - she wasn't one of those folk who got forgotten about as she aged or wasn't so fit anymore. I did start to lose it a bit when we left the kirk (thank heavens for my cousin Katrina - hugs most appreciated) and wasn't best at the graveyard but if you can't be upset then when can you be. I was really glad that Mabel and Anna came as it helped to have my own friends who knew Granny there. I'm very grateful to them - plus Anna provided a much needed bolthole on the Saturday night. About 70-odd folk came along to the wake which was astounding. It's a long time since I've seen a funeral as big as that.

What didn't make it any easier was landing in Orkney to hear that one of my cousins had been murdered by her husband the evening before. She'd left him a few months ago but he obviously had some control issues along the lines of "if I can't have her then nobody will" so he shot her and then shot himself. It's unheard of for such things to happen in Orkney - we've only had 3 murders in 40 years. Most of the family are still in shock over the whole thing. I can't say that I'd seen a lot of Donna in the last few years but we did play together a lot when we were kids and she was always a very cheerful, giggly soul. It's very unfair for her to love her chance on life at only 30.

So please forgive me if it takes a few weeks for me to get back in the swing of things. I'm trying to look after myself (and Robert's helping in any way he can) to make sure that grief doesn't turn into a bout of depression but I've held it off for a couple of years and I don't want to go back down that path again.

I will be adding a few things to the blog to commemorate Granny over the next few weeks (once I get my arse in gear) and rest assured they will show her spirit, courage and audacity in getting on with life when it wasn't always easy for her. I'm just grateful that we became friends later in life when we didn't have the best start. You would have thought that she would be one who ended up understanding me the best.

Thursday, 12 January 2006

Secret Pal 7

And here's my questionnaire. I don't know how to add it as a link in my sidebar so it'll just have to go here until I figure it out.

Secret Pal 7

1. Are you a yarn snob (do you prefer higher quality and/or natural fibers)? Do you avoid Red Heart and Lion Brand?
Not really, as far as I’m concerned I’m more concerned as to how it feels rather than whether it’s natural or not. I do like silk, alpaca, cotton but I also like a lot of Colinette which is nylon or polyamide. As long as it feels soft that’s my stipulation. I also hate yarns which have a horrible plastic feel to them – Rowan Spray springs to mind, it’s horrible. We don’t have Red Heart or Lion Brand across here.

2. Do you spin? Crochet?
I just got a drop spindle for my Christmas but I have to persuade a friend to teach me how to spin. I’m learning to crochet but most of my attempts have been really hilarious so far. I’ve got some funky 70’s patterns from my Granny which I really want to crochet.

3. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
I have an old vase for my straights, a basket for my circs and the original box for my Denise set.

4. How long have you been knitting? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
I’ve been knitting since I was 4 so that’s a rather scary 34 years this year. I’d say I was a good intermediate.

5. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
I do. Go onto and put in “Maureen Heddle” as the name of choice and you’ll find it.

6. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.)
I love Lush, especially their candy bar bath products. Got far too many candles as it is.

7. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
YES! I don’t like aniseed, liquorice or turkish delight otherwise anything else is pretty fair game – especially if there’s chocolate involved. Fruity things such as raspberry or grape are pretty good too.

8. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do?
I love photography, I’m learning to crochet (pretty badly at the moment), and I received for a drop spindle and a small table-top weaving loom for my Christmas so that I can learn to spin and do some basic weaving this year. I’d like to get the hang of felting but it’s not so easy when you only have the choice of a front loading machine.

9. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
Loads of stuff. Dance music through to guitar bands to female singers e.g. Public Domain, Franz Ferdinand, White Stripes, Kaiser Chiefs, Beth Orton, Johnny Cash – very eclectic. It’s easier to say what I don’t like which is bland middle-of-the-road rock or jazz.

10. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand?
Most folk would probably say my favourite colour appears to be pink, apart from the really flourescent shades. Quite into purples and reds as well, even got into orange this year. Like my colours to be more autumnal in hue than springlike. Not into extremely pastel shades. Like greens and browns. Not a huge fan of blue and really don’t like yellow

11. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
Partner of 8 years (Robert) plus one puddycat by the name of George. He likes mice, rats and weasels for snacking on!

12. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
I have a few favourite scarves but not a huge amount. Hats definitely, mittens occasionally and “no to ponchos!”

13. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with?
I’ve become rather addicted to Hip Knits aran weight silk. It does pill a bit but it is lovely. The new Louisa Harding yarns are rather lovely as well. I’m quite weird in that I quite like knitting with 4ply/laceweight but then will go back to a thicker yarn for a quick project. Colinette is rather lovely as well. Artesano Alpaca has some lovely colours and Kaalund has some gorgeous silk laceweight. I also love variegated yarns which have subtle colour variations.

14. What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
I don’t like anything which is too acrylic and has that whole feel of a cheap bathroom sponge.

15. What is/are your current knitting obsession/s?
I love lace knitting, whether it’s in a laceweight or a more chunky knit. I get really bored with plain knitting. I need a bit of a challenge.

16. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
I mainly knit for myself with a few items done to order for friends or at birthdays/Christmas. I love doing retro/vintage inspired patterns. Designers I admire include Teva Durham, Stephanie Japel, Kate Gilbert, Veronik Avery, Leigh Radford and Louisa Harding.

17. What are you knitting right now?
Only 4 projects on the go at the moment. The Teva Durham cardigan out of the latest Interweave Knits, “Heather” from Louisa Harding’s latest book, a 1940’s lace short-sleeved jumper with some Kaalund variegated laceweight, and I have to adjust the Teva Durham scarf out of the Scarf Style book as I’m a bit narrow on the shoulders. Think that’s it! I’m about to start an Aran jumper as a “commission” for a friend.

18. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?
Can’t say I would say no.

19. Do you prefer straight or circular needles?
It depends on the project. My favourite needles are a pair of 5mm straights I got from a charity(thrift) shop for 60p (about $0.40) which are purple with silver tips.

20. Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
Again it depends on the project but I would like to stock up on bamboo DPN’s as they’d be easier to take on offshore work trips. My Denise needles don’t go small enough all the time.

21. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
I have a yarn swift purchased at the Ally Pally Craft Show in London – you take one of them on the London Underground at rush hour. It was fun!

22. How did you learn to knit?
My granny taught me when I was about 4 years old. I’ve learned a lot of new techniques over the last 2 years from the Internet and my Stitch’n’Bitch buddies.

23. How old is your oldest UFO?
I’ve got it down to about the 3 month mark which is pretty good.

24. What is your favorite animated character or a favorite animal/bird?
I don’t have a favourite animated character but cats of any description are pretty high on the list. I’d like to have a sheep (we looked after orphan lambs when we were kids) but Robert says it would ruin the garden. Not fair!

25. What is your favorite holiday?
We’re not really a nation that celebrates specific holidays so I don’t have a favourite. I do quite like Hogmanay (New Years Eve) but then I am a Scot.

26. Is there anything that you collect?
Robert would probably say I collect junk! I’ve got loads of books. I love retro/vintage knitting patterns (I have started a collection of vintage Vogue knitting magazines) – especially 1920’s to 1970’s. I have got a soft spot for 1960/70’s coffee pots – the more lurid the pattern on them the better. Does chocolate count as a collection if you eat it and store it in your stomach?

27. What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
I have a Rowan subscription but that’s only twice a year. I tend to get most copies of Vogue Knitting and have started to get Interweave Knits.

28. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on?
Can’t wait for Debbie Stoller’s new crochet book when it comes out. Yarns? Anything pretty and soft which will knit up without pilling horrendously. Just something different really. Needles – bamboo DPN’s to take offshore as they don’t like metal needles on oil rigs!

29. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
Grafting – I’m rubbish at it. I’m saving it for my next Stitch’n’Bitch. I want to learn to spin and weave and dyeing my yarn would be pretty cool too (I need to try the Kool Aid technique)

30. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
I’ve started knitting bedsocks in the Artesano Alpaca but I’m not really a sock knitter otherwise and not really a handknitted sock fan. My feet are a UK size 5 (European 38).

31. When is your birthday? (mm/dd)
I’m a St Patrick’s Day Piscean – 17 March.

Monday, 2 January 2006

New day

The sun sets on the first day of the year...

Granny Heddle (6 May 1922 - 2 January 2006)
Sunday afternoon tea
Pavlova, packet mix cheesecake, trifle with patched up bits ready for a second sitting
Sausages in batter, cold beans
Supping jam
Bits of chutney on her chin
Sunday runs in the van
"Wife!" "Ach, weesht Edwin..."
Tattie picking having dinner in the old school bus
Mince and tatties
WRI and whist
The Croys coming to visit with their big knickers
Loud whispered gossip
Gallivanting all over the place visting folk
Bulb shows
Home bakes
Knitted jumpers that always started to come apart at the neck
Phone calls to see I was still here
Washing hair in the sink
Rollers and setting lotion
Falling asleep in the chair
Lots of letters
Lots of love...

Snowy day

I like snow. We don't exactly get the sort of snow that happens in Scandnavia or Canada but when it comes I do think it's awfy pretty.

It made the girlie day trip to New Aberdour beach more exciting as it was a wee bit slidey on the roads but it was worth it as I managed to find a broken lobster creel just perfect for adding to the garden.

And because I was outside taking photos it did mean that a wee evil beastie appeared out of nowhere (just in case I was doing something exciting and he didn't want to miss out) and started to attack his catnip in the herb garden. Looks so innocent but would rather be killing things...!

My New Year's resolution is... stop being such a messy bastard. I've just got fed-up with living in such a tip. I know it's not so easy to be tidy when you've got as much junk as I have but I'm learning to let go of the "stuff" and be a bit tidier in the process. Instead of hoarding I'm trying to use up stuff as I go instead. So part A of the plan towards the enlightenment of being tidy has included a clearout of our pantry. It had kind of turned into a bit of a dumping ground which was getting pretty minky.

So in the space of a day I cleaned it out, repainted it white, turfed out rubbish, tidied things into plastic boxes and generally improved things. Does hid no luk bonny?!

Next thing to have been sorted is all my crafty stuff. The original bookcase has a spectacular lean to it if it wasn't for the wall holding it in place.

So it was off to the Holy Grail of storage enhancement - Ikeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa - to purchase that knitting blogger's favourite of Expedit. For £69 you can't go too far wrong can you? Robert did help me put it together as it is quite a big thing.

Doesn't it look pretty when it's filled up with all my bits and bobs. I still haven't managed to get a'thing into the one area of course so all my photography stuff is in the 1950's kitchen cabinet next to Expedit. Robert did comment on how much wool I had but he doesn't know the half of it. I did tell him that he was lucky as there are a lot of women out there who have a whoro'a lot more stuff then me. I'm just a beginner really.

It'll be interesting to see how far all this has progressed by the end of 2006. We shall see...!

What I did for Christmas...!

On Christmas Day Robert does all the cooking. This doesn't mean that he doesn't cook at any other time of the year but I am rather proud of the way in which I have managed to persuade him that it is tradition for him to cook every Christmas Day.

I was sent out to get the veg from the garden so we had beetroot...

...brussel our own tatties. How ace is that!

Starter was some mushrooms cooked in truffle butter with black pudding. Fine (and no, we're not vegetarian)!

Main course was a roast duck, roast tatties, sausagemeat stuffing, roast beetroot, brussel sprouts with crispy bacon and smoked garlic, and cranberry gravy.

Of course, just because my honey cooks it doesn't mean that he's very good in the cleaning up after himself as he goes. Think he takes after Hugh in that department.

We even managed to get some stock out of the duck carcass which has been made into roasted parsnip soup (I like roasting veg in case you hadn't guessed).

So - pressies. I did pretty well but as I've found it does help to tell folk exactly what it is that you'd like and that saves an awful lot of hassle. Robert got me some Louisa Harding wool which is being transformed into "Heather" from the Louisa Harding book. Very pretty.

From my Mum I got a drop spindle (need lessons from Theresa on how to acutally work it like)...

A weaving loom...well, when your surname is Heddle you have to have a piece of craft equipment that is named after your family name. It's like a no-brainer really isn't it?

She got me a learn to crochet book as well. The dyeing book is from Vicki. I just need to start collecting bits and pieces to start dyeing with.

And Mum got me some sparkly eyelash yarn as well. I foresee gauntlets. My Dad did get me a dressmaker's dummy but that's going to have to go back to get swapped for another one as they sent the medium size and I'm more of a petite. I'm going to be having a majorly crafty year ahead of me.

Sunday, 1 January 2006

Happy New Year!

I had big plans for this afternoon. I was going to update all my photos and tell tales of everything I've been up to over the last couple of weeks however my hangover appears to be kicking back in again so instead I'm going to go upstairs, claim the furry blanket off the sofa bed, bring it back down, and curl up on the sofa with a steady supply of water, dips, unhealthy crisps and chocolate. A snooze might be in order too!

It was a very good New Year. Hope yours is too...