Remember, remember the fifth of November…

I really meant to participate in NaNoBloMo this November (if it’s still going?) but here we are already on the 5th of November and I forgot!

So, brief synopsis of the many months since I last posted – kids got bigger, cheekier and learned lots of things, I knitted some kilometres of yarn, we went camping a couple of times through the summer, I finally finished decorating our daughter’s bedroom and I launched my solo yarn shop, http://www.owlaboutyarn.etsy.com. I’m also on instagram now, you can find me there as @jennieworld.

Let’s pretend I’ve not been away and dive straight in. I’m struggling through a pair of colourwork mittens at the moment. It’s a lovely pattern, although you do need to be familiar with knitting Scandinavian style mittens as directions are sparse, but it’s a free pattern on Ravelry – Heart Mittens. But I’m not in the mood for colourwork, and there are a hundred and one things I’d rather be knitting and so I’m knitting as fast as I can to get them done! I’m well over half way through the second mitten, so it shouldn’t take me too much longer. Here’s the mitt-in-progress;

image

Once this is finished, I cast on some plain flip-top mittens, and then some more mittens which I’m designing in my head at the moment! I’m visualising a whimsical little cable up one side…hopefully pictures soonish!

Advertisements

Merry Christmas!

I’ve been given a new toy for Christmas; a tablet! So while I’m having a play and working out what it can do, I thought I would wish you all a merry Christmas and a very happy new year. 

We’ve had a lovely day so far. Bacon and eggs for breakfast and a couple of presents before church, then a big roast pork dinner before finishing opening the rest of our presents. Our front room looks like a warehouse! The boys are very happy and excited with what they received, and baby Sweetie was of course thrilled with all the wrapping paper that she was allowed to scrunch and wave about. 

Now it’s almost time for Doctor Who, so I’m settling in for the evening!

Tinsellitis

This is apparently the name of my ailment. It shows no sign of letting up. I grow more and more covetous of pretty sparkly Christmas decorations by the day.

Jelliebean Yarns

I think it’s time to tell you a bit more about the yarn business which Ellie and I are working on at the moment. We played at dyeing for a few months, but for just over a month now we’ve counted it as a business. Two reasons for this really; firstly, we’re enjoying it so much that we can happily imagine ourselves doing this more and more in the future, and secondly (I’m not usually this immodest, but) we seem to be good enough at it to produce saleable items!

We’re doing well in Big Knitters on Wellfield Road in Cardiff, and we’ve had a very generous response from fellow members of the Cardiff knitting groups. Also, our Etsy store is thriving. I genuinely didn’t expect to sell very much during the first weeks of trading, and so I’ve been so thrilled by the healthy level of sales we’ve made. We’re ploughing it all straight back into the business so that we can increase the level of stock as soon as possible, so we’re able to have lots of dyeing days. This is brilliant for me, because I’ve got all of this gorgeous yarn in the house, in a veritable rainbow of colours – knitter’s heaven! How many knitters dream of living in a yarn shop, able to reach out and pick up whatever they fancy to knit with? I’m living that dream! I’ve just dyed up a batch of aran merino which I bought specially to make a jumper for myself in the new year – a purple finger is testament to this (my glove broke – occupational hazard!) – and I’ve now got another fourteen skeins left to dye for the shop. It’s fantastic. I’m feeling guilty a lot of the time because I’m having so much fun, then I remind myself that this is what it must be like to enjoy your job! I’m also taking the opportunity to try my hand at pattern design, so that there are some patterns especially geared at our yarn. Ellie has also done some of this, and has created a lovely shawl pattern. I’ve got two shawl patterns on the way, as well as some scandinavian style mittens and some gloves. I’ve already published a hat pattern and a pattern for fingerless gloves. It’s very gratifying to be able to do something like this, rather than follow someone else’s pattern for a change!

Well, long may this last. I feel as if I may finally have found what it is I’m supposed to be doing. Having spent many years working in an office job which, let’s be honest, has been less than fulfilling, makes the potential to be running my own yarn business even more exciting. It’s nice to feel that I could be good at something, and valued for a talent which I enjoy to exercise!

4th Blogiversary

So, I missed it. Well, in the UK I did! Somewhere in the world it’s still the 6th, so it’s still the 4th anniversary of the first post on this blog.

I meant to do something to celebrate, but have been hectically busy, so haven’t!

I’ll be back in a day or two to catch you up on what I’ve been doing. All celebratory ideas are welcome!!

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.

Probably the last of the Christmas presents

I meant to post all of these posts at the beginning of the month, but I got carried away with writing about other things, so here we are, a day away from February and I’m still writing about Christmas! I’ll probably just about finish telling you about last Christmas before I start writing about the next one!

Anyway, today I want to show you some of the presents I made for my friend Maria’s family.

First up, I made her mum this apron and oven glove set;

After Maria made dinner wearing her little dress and high heels, not getting a mark on her, I thought that an apron would make a good present for her mum. We agreed at the time that either of us would have ended up covered in flour and gravy had we attempted cooking in such an outfit! She seemed to like her set anyway, putting it on straight away and wearing it for the evening! And I loved her Christmas crown!

Also, Maria’s mum loves her Nintendo DS, apparently spending time on it on most days before she goes to bed. So when I saw this pattern in one of my magazines I thought it would be perfect for her.

I thought this little Shaun the Sheep pattern was really cute! I lined the case with felt, and you can’t see here but it buttons up at the top to keep the DS from sliding out.

Maria’s sister has her birthday just after new year, so I had to think of Christmas and birthday presents at the same time. For her Christmas present I made her a pair of fingerless gloves of my own designing. I’m annoyed with myself for not having taken a picture, but I’m planning on making some more soon anyway so I’ll photograph them instead. I also made her a hat.

This pattern, from Ravelry, is based on the hat that ‘Hermione’ wore in ‘Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince’. I designed the gloves to have matching cables, and they were obviously made in the same wool, Sirdar Click DK which is a wool and acrylic blend. Hopefully enough wool to make them warm, but enough acrylic to make them easy to care for!

Finally, for Maria’s sister’s birthday I made her some jewelry. I’d not really done very much with beading and jewelry making before, but I was quite pleased with the outcome.

Just a simple bracelet and earrings set. Not the best picture as I suddenly realised as I was packaging it up that I’d not taken a photo, but you get the idea! I also made a necklace and bracelet set for Maria, but I’ve yet to get a picture of that. She definitely liked them though, as I’ve seen her wearing them many times since Christmas. Nothing like a spot of appreciation to give you a warm glow inside!