Exciting new venture (again!)

It’s not long since I told you about my Etsy shop selling jewelry, www.jennieworldcrafts.com. And yet there is another venture which I’ve not yet shared with you. Since the summer, Ellie and I have been dyeing yarn, and we also have an Etsy shop set up for that at www.jelliebeanyarns.etsy.com. I’m so enjoying doing this. It’s so close to my most loved craft; knitting. And yet it’s so different that I can flit from one thing to the other without getting bored!

Another thing about it that I love is that if I feel like knitting, say, a shawl in purple, I know that I can now go and dye that yarn myself rather than waiting to get to a yarn shop or wool festival before I find my perfect colour.

Anyway, I’ll share some pictures of my yarns with you in a minute, but first off, we had very good news at the weekend! As soon as we choose which yarns to take, we will have our yarn stocked in ‘Big Knitters’ yarn shop in Roath, Cardiff! This is tremendously exciting news, especially as we are such a new little enterprise. We’ve only been dyeing for a few months, but we’ve had such a gratifying response both from people we know and those we’ve only just met. Many of our friends at the local knitting groups have been kind enough to buy some of our yarn. We’ve also been fortunate enough to sell to crafters visiting from the United States as well as, via our Etsy store, to the US and Finland! And every skein I hand over or send off brings little shivers of excitement! It’s thrilling to think that, sometime in the future, this could be a viable, profit-making, income-bringing business for us!

Anyway, here are some of my yarns so far:

Firstly, those which will be listed in the shop in the coming few days;

Witching Hour

Midnight Jade

Autumn Days

And next, those which are already listed in the shop, or have already sold;

Acid Hiss

Blackberry Blueberry

Gryffie Roar

Ocean Swell

I am loving the opportunity to play with all the different colours and see how they all meld together so beautifully. My only problem at the moment is that I want to knit with them all! I have reserved a skein of the ‘Midnight Jade’ for myself (there have to be some perks to this job!!) and I’m designing a shawl with it at the moment. To my credit, I think I’ve only held back four or five skeins for myself so far, all to use to design new knitting patterns, so I think that’s pretty restrained!

This yarn is all British wool, from Blue Faced Leicester sheep in a 4ply or sock weight. The wool is yummy because it takes the colour so well, but it also has a sheen about it which really accentuates your work. We’ve also got new yarn bases in to try, so I’m looking forward to sharing some of them with you soon, just as soon as I’ve planned which colours to use for which bases!

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My Etsy shop!

So, I’ve managed to list 25 items in my shop now, and I decided to share it with you. Please bear in mind it’s still a work in progress! I’m hoping to create more jewelry over the next few weeks for the shop. I’m also planning to put some knitted things in there soon, as well as some of my own patterns (just as soon as I get them written up!).

The link to my etsy shop is www.jennieworldcrafts.com. I decided to stick with Jennieworld for my little shop as I’m used to it on my blog now!

And here are a few of the items in my shop right now;

Please let my Dad know just how good his photography is!

I forgot to post again, didn’t I?

I keep doing it. I switch on the computer with every intention of blogging, but by the time I’ve done everything else I have to do online, it’s time for me to switch off and do something else. So yes, I’m rubbish and I know I am! It’s not that I don’t want to, and I can think of plenty of things to say! But I’m here now and that’s what really matters, right?!

First off, I took a picture on Tuesday with the sole purpose of posting it here;

Christmas chocolates. CHRISTMAS CHOCOLATES, on the SEVENTH OF SEPTEMBER!! This is unacceptable, and left me muttering furiously as I made my way around the rest of the supermarket. Thankfully the¬†sweets looked untouched, so I’m fairly certain every other shopper was as disenchanted with the display as I was. What made this even more incongruous was that right next to this budding Christmas section was a still active barbeque and summer garden section! They could at least wait until they’ve packed away the charcoal before wheeling out the selection boxes!!

In other news, I seem to have picked up a lovely pair of ear infections, which is filling my life with boundless joy at the moment. The one ear started off about ten days ago, but was just irritating so my GP prescribed the same drops I’ve had before for a form of exzema¬†in my ears called otitis externa. However, by Saturday and while I was at Roath¬†Market the pain levels had increased exponentially and so I called the doctor and made an appointment to go to the out of hours clinic at the Cardiff Royal Infirmary (which, on a totally unrelevant note, has featured in Doctor Who lots of times¬†including ‘Aliens of London’, ‘The Idiot’s Lantern’ and ‘Turn Left’). There I was prescribed some very strong antibiotics (flucloxacillin, anyone?) which, over the course of a few days made my ear slightly better (much less pain) but had a very detrimental effect on my tummy. So, back I went to the GP on Friday and now I have super-strong eardrops and an invitation to go back again next Wednesday if they haven’t worked. If my ears are still full of yuck then, I will be enjoying a trip to the Ear Nose and Throat people in the hospital. So much fun to look forward to! Oh, and then yesterday I woke up with both¬†ears aching, so I’m now using my superstrong drops in the one ear, and my weaker drops in the one that’s just started aching.

Update on my hands; my rheumatologist has decided he has no ideas (as I already said) and my GP has said I’ll learn to live with it over the next couple of years. I went back to work on Wednesday after my long summer break with the boys. By Thursday lunchtime my hands were aching despite the more accessible hardware my employers have provided. So, this week I should hopefully be trialling a touchscreen monitor with a new on-screen keyboard, and hopefully this will allow me to do my job pain-free. Otherwise I’m not really sure what I’ll do.

Knitting wise, I’m keeping myself busy, especially as it seems to be good physio¬†and pain relief for my hands. I’m knitting a jacket using some Lopi¬†yarn that my parents brought me back from Iceland, a shawl to go with my new winter coat (that I’ve not yet bought) and a short sleeved¬†thin sweater with a fairisle yoke (like this one, in fact). I’m thinking of changing the pattern on the yoke to something rather than paper dolls as the variations that the designer showed looked so cool, but I can’t decide which one I like the best. So I may well do a paper dolls one first, then another one with another design later on. Talk about glutton for punishment! The jumper involves an i-cord cast on, which I’ve never attempted before. Suffice it to say that I can generally cast on the stitches for a jumper in well under one episode of a favourite TV programme. Last night I watched two episodes of ‘Bones’ and I was still only about a third of the way to casting on enough stitches! This is going to be¬†a severe test of my patience!

So now you’re all updated, I’m off to do something else useful. I hope you’re all having a lovely sunny Sunday like us!

Working hard at new things

I’m determined to, at some point, write about everything that I’ve been doing since I last blogged regularly. It may take me a while, but bit by bit I’ll get there!

At the beginning of July, I was trying to decide what to give to my sons’ teachers for the traditional end of year gift. Cheeky has two teachers this year, as they’ve come back from maternity leave on a job share, so I had three gifts to find.

I decided that they would have lots of chocolates, flowers and toiletries and so, being a 24/7 knitter, decided to use my talent for the greater good and make them something! I decided on mittens, being a lot quicker than scarves, and then decided to knit fingerless ones with the intention that they could be useful during autumn P.E. lessons in the cold wind!

The first pair I knitted from an existing pattern, with slight adaptations. For a start, the pattern made elbow length gloves but I didn’t have the time for that so I made them a few inches shorter. I was pleased with how they turned out;

The second pair, though, was a different story. I really wanted to make a pair of mittens with a cable (twist) design, but couldn’t find a pattern I liked anywhere. So then I sat and thought to myself, this is silly. I’ve been knitting for a long time now, I should really be able to design my own patterns rather than relying on Ravelry‘s database for everything. So I designed some myself!

I was really pleased by how they turned out, and also that I managed to match up the yarns exactly between the two gloves so that the stripes happened in the same places on each one! And then I had to make something for a Ravelry swap I took part in (about which, more later) and so I thought, another pair of mittens from this pattern would be a good idea, just to make sure that the pattern works well and there are no errors;

And here they are. I was even more pleased with them in a solid colour, as the pattern really pops at you from these ones. So i decided to bite the bullet and publish the pattern on Ravelry, which means that I’m now a published designer! It was very exciting to see “Jennie Powell’s original designs” above my pattern, and I’ve opened some floodgate or other in my mind. Every day I’m thinking of new patterns to create. I’ve just got to find the time to knit them now!

Long time…

Oh my goodness, it has been nearly three months since I last posted. I am still alive, and still have all of my fingers and (most of) my mental faculties.

Life seems to have been very busy! The summer term passed me by in a flash, and all of a sudden my children are home for seven weeks. There was actual real live sunshine, and so I cut back on my internet time in order to get out in it! And I’ve been doing a lot of crafting, most of it knitting.

Most significantly (in my life, at least), we’ve finally managed to get our flat on the market, and are now keeping our fingers crossed that someone else will come along and love it as much as we did nine and a half years ago when we put our offer in to buy it! I’ve got a list of potential houses to buy, and so if and when we get an offer on the flat, we are ready to leap into action and organise viewings straight away!

I hope to find time to be back in touch with you all a little more now. The medical problem with my hands hasn’t gone away, I’m just trying to manage it in such a way that I actually get to type a little more. And, thank God I can still knit! So I can keep myself very busy with that in between brief spurts of typing!

I hope you’re all well, and enjoying summer (or winter, if you’re the wrong way round!).

Signing off, for now.

UK General Election – where do you stand?

I wish I could believe all the hype. I wish that polls (other than Murdoch sponsored and obviously biased ones) could be relied on. I wish that all the voting intentions as stated on Twitter were indicative of the country as a whole. And I wish that my vote could actually count.

I will be voting in the UK General Election today. I’ve been trying to teach my children about our incredibly complicated political system. So far, they know which are the main political parties and who their leaders are; who we will be voting for, who we MOST DEFINITELY WILL NOT be voting for and who we’d be willing to put up with!

I will be voting not only for the party which I genuinely believe shares more of my views than any other, but also for the party which promises a chance of more fairness in the voting system in the future. Have you guessed yet? In case you’ve not seen my avatar on Twitter recently;

I’m fed up with a huge proportion of the popular vote counting for nothing. In my own constituency, Cardiff South and Penarth, Labour haven’t been defeated since the war. It’s a very safe Labour seat (put it this way, if Labour lose here, they’re REALLY in trouble!), with Alun Michael getting nearly 23% more of the vote at the last election than the next candidate down, with a 46.6% share of the vote*. But this is my point. How is it right that 53.4% of the electorate can be ignored? I know that our Parliamentary system means that we don’t live in a true democracy, and that it couldn’t be achieved as there simply isn’t room in the House of Commons for us all to vote on every issue! But surely there should be a fairer way to return candidates to Parliament than the first past the post system. Where I used to live, in Ceredigion, the Member of Parliament was returned after achieving just 36.5% of the votes recorded*. And even though Mr Williams is a Liberal Democrat MP, I can’t accept that only taking just over of a third of the votes into account can be the best way to represent the people.

I believe that some form of proportional representation is the best way forward. Now that we’re not such a ‘local’ society as we were before the advent of the internet (and probably much earlier than that when we could easily travel quickly from place to place) I’m sure that we don’t need such specific constituencies.

I quite simply can’t believe how we have put up with this voting system for so long. This voting system which (according to one recent poll) gives Labour 257 seats for a 28% share of the vote, where the Liberal Democrats, with a projected 27% of the voting public behind them can only hope for 80 seats! It is absolute craziness and I cannot see how it can be allowed to continue. Obviously, the only reason it has been allowed to carry on this long is because it suits the two larger parties down to the ground to be able to get more seats with their share.

I’m absolutely certain as well that many people vote for their second choice of party or candidate because they don’t believe that their first choice could actually win. And so they are voting more to keep out a party than to elect who they really want. (I can fully understand the idea of voting to keep out the Conservatives, by the way, the thought of a Tory majority in the morning is very depressing!)

So, I’ll be voting Liberal Democrat knowing full well that in all probability my vote will count for very little in this election. I’m reasonably certain that Alun Michael will return to Westminster and resume his job as my MP, even with the support of less than half of his voting constituents. But I’m thinking in the long term. I am indeed voting for change. I want the country to wake up tomorrow and for whoever is in government to have to face up to the fact that our electoral system is not working. I sincerely hope that all the Lib Dem supporters get out the vote and are brave enough to vote for who they want rather than who they think they could get. I want a hung Parliament with all the constitutional arguments that this would provoke. And I want my children to be able to vote for a truly representative House of Commons. So I’m not settling for second best with my vote. I’m supporting Dominic Hannigan in Cardiff South and Penarth and Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrat party for the 2010 UK General Election. I’m voting for real change, rather than a change back to the 1980s!

*data from the BBC News website, based on more recent boundary changes and how they would have affected the proportion of the vote.

Volcano ‘fall out’

Well, the news broadcasters are in a quandary right now, trying to decide whether to talk about¬†Nick Clegg’s victory in last week’s Prime Ministerial Debate, or discuss the effects of the Icelandic volcano. I think that Mr Clegg should be impressed that he is managing to sway so much media and public attention away from this natural phenomenon which is affecting so many thousands of people and costing more industries than just the airlines millions of pounds!

I see that the pressure is mounting on the air traffic controllers to allow planes to fly once more. The news reports claiming that the dangers of volcanic ash are exaggerated are becoming more and more prolific. I can’t help but wonder if that’s simply because there is not much new to report – the ash is still up there, the airlines are still losing money and British cirizens are still stranded overseas. Or maybe it’s all to do with the blame culture in which we find ourselves living. It seems that for every bad or inconvenient thing that happens, a culprit must be found. And as the eruption and subsequent weather system that pushed the ash our way cannot reasonably be blamed upon anyone (although try telling that to the Radio 4 listener who thought that Gordon Brown should be in Iceland sorting the volcano out rather than running for re-election!), people are trying to find someone to blame for the grounded aircraft.

I don’t know about you, but if the aeroplanes started flying in twenty minutes time and were offering flights for fifty pence, I’d not feel happy about travelling by¬†air until I was as certain and reassured as possible that there are no more clouds (however thin) of ash hovering above us in the skies. Maybe I’m more susceptible to the fear-mongers than I’d like to admit, or maybe I’m not so susceptible to the blame merchants. However, it is now being widely reported that NATO fighter jets have suffered engine damage with a build up of glass in the jet engines after flying through the ash clouds. So maybe the people exercising the caution in not reopening our airspace aren’t as ‘Health and Safety’ wacky as some journalists would have you think.

However, given the state of my car every morning since Friday, the ash is settling. I gave it a good wash this morning, in company with a couple of my neighbours who were cleaning theirs at the same time. It took a lot of cleaning to shift the¬†dusty ash deposits, and it’ll probably need¬†doing again tomorrow, but I suppose I’ll have a good indication of how much ash settles overnight!¬†Journalists in Iceland are reporting that the ash plume is no longer as high as it was, and it is suspected that the eruption may be entering a new phase. So maybe a few more days will see a significant difference in the concentration of ash in the atmosphere. In the meantime, and without reliable indicators of how long this will go on, I’m very glad that those of my nearest and dearest who have holidays planned, have booked to go on a cruise!