Friday, November 30, 2007

I finally made it to the Southampton knitting group! It's at the Borders in town, which is conveniently close to the train station. There were a good dozen people, and everyone was awfully nice. Also, a lot of people were wearing things they'd knit, which is nice to see. I hope I can make it regularly. Work has been so crazy I hadn't managed it before.

I worked a bit on my current (and only!) project, a plain raglan knit in the round with some Artesano Alpaca which was frogged from its previous incarnation. I'm not going to have enough yarn for the full length sleeves I wanted, though.

It was really nice to talk to people who aren't work colleagues or The Limey. Much as I like all of them, I really needed to talk to other people. This brings me to the perennial "How do I make friends" problem that has dogged me for the last few years. It isn't helped by moving around every few years.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Hallelujah! (Updated and edited)

(This entry was written quite quickly yesterday, so I've added some useful stuff.)

Print O' the Wave
Yarn: 2 + an irritatingly teeny bit of a 3rd skein of Margaret Stove Artisan Laceweight Merino in plum
Needles: 2.0mm Pony bamboo dpns and 2.0mm 100cm Addi Turbos
Pattern: The oh-so-popular Print O' the Wave by Eunny Jang

Notes: Finally, finally! It only took nearly a year, but now it's done. Modifications include reducing the centre panel to only three horizontal repeats instead of four, and lengthening it to 40 vertical repeats instead of 34. Also, I did the centre panel in one piece instead of grafting two pieces.

I used Eunny's helpful advice at this Knitter's Review thread, and in figuring out all the modifications, I found CogKnition's notes on her PotW really useful.

I'm not even going to go into what happened when I ran out of yarn. (Of course I ran out of yarn!) Each 20g skein is 300m. I used two and maybe, oh, 20 metres of the third. Annoying. What'm I going to do with the rest of it? (By the way, how did I run out of yarn? The pattern called for 500 yards of cobweight weight. I made sure I had cobweight weight. I had 600m of it, and I made the centre panel a whole quarter narrower. How could I have run out of yarn? How?!)

The blocked size was 43cm wide and 160cm long. It could have been blocked longer, I think. By the way, you know how when you read about blocking lace, they just say, Oh, pin out the points, spritz, and ooooh, the magic of blocking. Well, they lie. It's fecking hard to block a huge piece of lace evenly. I'm totally buying blocking wires if I do a big piece of lace again.

This yarn is lovely to work with and blocks out beautifully. I would totally work with it again.

If you want to see a better close-up of the lace pattern, look at Knitelly's. It's just like mine! I kept doing double-takes when I read about hers.

Friday, November 23, 2007


Well, that was an interesting couple of weeks.

Work went crazy busy for a bit as we tried to get a report out to a client. It got even busier when the response came back asking questions such as "Do the people on this project really have PhDs?" and "Do you know the first thing about what we want you to do?" and "Are you capable of achieving even the most basic requirements of this project?" They were Not Happy. So then there were rounds of meetings with everyone and his dog; there were people tripping over themselves to apologize; there was, of course, even more work for us.

I tried hard to get to the Southampton knitting group for the past two Thursdays, but each time it turned out I had to stay at work way late.

The Limey has been great even though he started work this week himself. He's gotten home before me and starts cooking, so I can just collapse when I get in.

There's one more week of instrument time, during which I have to cram in as many experiments as I physcially can. Then it'll be data analysis time, and then it'll be report time again. I'm looking forward to Christmas break, I tell you.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What's me, what's not

Well, we've had nearly a month in the flat now. The Limey has been at home to buy stuff, take deliveries, fix things around the place, etc., so things have been chugging along pretty well. But he starts work next Monday, so I think any more changes will be coming very slowly.

So unfortunately, it looks like these are staying:

Living room lights. Gotta love the fake distressed copper finish. And those green streaks running down the shades!

The hall lights. I think maybe they were stolen from a country hotel. The dusty picture-covered hallway of a manor house somewhere is missing its lights.

Uh...this is in the second bedroom. I'm not sure what's up with it at all. The Limey's already taken down the lightshade in the main bedroom, so I have no pictures, but it was a ball made from stringing plastic pink beads onto a round shape. It belonged in the bedroom of a little girl in her ballerina stage. A little girl with bad taste.

Old dark heavy wood curtain rods, mounted, as you can see, right up against the ceiling. Why?? Why?? Plus, that paint over the base there? The management agency actually paid somebody 1800 quid to repaint and touch up the flat, and that's what they did. I won't even show you the other crimes they have perpetrated on this poor flat.

Oh, wait, yes I will.

Yes, sickly mint green plastic. Lovely. Oh, that streaky paint over the top there? Yeah, great painting job, guys.

Those are some of the things we haven't fixed yet. A couple of things that we have done:

The Limey bought this on e-Bay. It is totally over the top, doesn't match anything we have, and has a tear on one of the arms. But it is awesome. Absolutely awesome. Who doesn't love a red velvet couch?! It's really comfy, too. I can sit sideways on it, knitting, with my back against the arm, and put my feet up or on The Limey's lap.

Now the best thing:

Ah, you think I've finally lost it. No, what I would draw your attention to is the tap. Do you see? A tap. One tap. A mixer tap. For reasons which I cannot fathom, the peoples of these here islands like to pretend that mixer taps don't exist. Possibly they are masochists who like alternately freezing and burning themselves. I live with it in the bathrooms. But when we moved in here, there were separate taps in the kitchen. So if you wanted to wash something and:
a) actually want to get it clean, but
b) don't particularly want all the skin on your hands burned off,
then you have to fill up the whole sink. Oh, you only wanted to wash a couple of bowls? Tough.

Not only that, but the taps they had put on there barely reached over the side of the sink, so that we could hardly fit the kettle under there to fill it, never mind fit bowls and plates and cutting boards under them to rinse.

I told The Limey his people were backasswards looney and demanded a mixer tap. So the poor thing drove around the greater Guildford area looking for a mixer tap that didn't cost 200 pounds. Then he spent a couple hours grunting and cursing under the sink. But now, behold, the mighty mixer tap!

Stay tuned for how the hell we will manage when both of us work and the cat goes crazy. Crazier.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Amidst the upheaval, some knitting

There has been some knitting the last month or so. I didn't really have the emotional strength to commit to a big project, so it's been socks.

Snicket Socks
Yarn: Jaeger Baby Merino 4-ply, lots left over from two balls
Needles: 4.0 mm dpns
Pattern: Snicket Socks by Sabine Riefler for Magknits

Notes: I knit these during the packing-up time in Dublin, picking them up between filling boxes with crap I didn't even know I had. No big changes to the pattern. I substituted my own tried-and-true short row heels and just winged it with the toes until they looked right. These could have been longer, especially since I had so much yarn left over. I made the medium size, but at tighter gauge, so they're snug.

The pattern is easy enough, but she left out some details like what to do at the ends of rounds when you can't quite finish a whole repeat. It's easy to figure out, but it was mildly frustrating to have to do it. Will wear these lots, I think. The only limiting factor is how long the yarn will last; it was pilling quite badly after the first wearing.

Random useless trivia: Lemony Snicket, the author of "A Series of Unfortunate Events" and for whom these socks are named, went to my high school! Isn't your life so totally more enlightened now?

I started these next socks for The Limey the minute I finished the Snickets. In fact, I wound this yarn at my last Dublin SnB meeting (sob!).

Upheaval Socks
Yarn: Cherry Tree Hill Supersock, in Moody Blues, from I Knit London, every inch of one skein
Needles: 2.0 mm dpns
Pattern: basic toe-up ribbed socks

Notes: I bought this yarn on the flat-hunting trip The Limey and I made last month, so this project has really bridged the whole moving process. I started knitting them in Dublin, continued on my first train commutes here, and finished them in the new flat one evening. Thus their fancy name, but they're just your basic ribbed socks. I knit them toe-up until I thought I had half the yarn left, started the second sock from the other end, then knit until they were both the same length and I had no yarn left. (The Limey likes his socks high.)

This is the first time I've worked with a Cherry Tree Hill yarn, and I love it. Love it. If I didn't know better, I'd swear it had some silk or bamboo in it, it's so soft and smooth. I loved just winding the skein up into a ball. I don't spin, so I have no clue, but I've heard it's smooth because the yarn is spun so tightly. It just glides through your fingers, and The Limey says they're the squishiest, nicest socks ever. I would totally, totally knit with this yarn again, so it's good I'd convinced The Limey to let me buy two skeins of it! (I used the "but I'll soon be working!" argument.)

Actually, maybe one thing would hold me back from being swept head over heels by this yarn: even though it's supposedly superwash, I've heard that it doesn't stand up so well in the machine and should be hand-washed. I'm not so excited about hand-washing socks; I'm even less excited about The Limey hand-washing his socks.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Woking girl

(Get it? Get it? Ha.)

So, we finally have interweb at home (Virgin Media sucks), so some progress reports.

1) The move: as The Limey said, everything went fine. We got here, the cat's freaked out, it's three weeks later and we're still in a sea of boxes. See, we haven't got any furniture, but we do have boxes of stuff that goes on, into, inside, around and against furniture. So that stuff'll just have to stay in boxes for now. What we're going to do about furniture will be saved for another post, I think.

2)The job: is awesome. I was lucky with timing. The project I was put on started experimental work the day I joined the company. So I could get my hands dirty right away. I'm back to UHV (ultra-high vacuum) work, which is what I did my PhD in, so I could tighten bolts, press buttons, etc., without having to be supervised or given detailed instructions all the time. Basically I felt that I made myself useful right away. The people are really friendly, and there's still the feel of a university research group about the whole thing. Except unlike some academic research groups, everything is managed very tightly and everyone has projects with clear goals and progress is monitored and measured so everybody knows what's happening. It's nice.

3)The flat and Woking: The flat is pretty good. For some reason I remembered the living room being longer, but it's still quite large. You could fit The Limey's whole Ringsend flat in it. The kitchen is a separate room, which is nice. Open plan kitchens are great in theory, but in practice, everything just smells like cooking all the time. The people who decorated the place had terrible taste. I think we'll be replacing a lot of stuff.
As for Woking, well, er, Woking is less than exciting. I think it's because it's an awkward distance from London. London is so close that there's no point having anything here except the train station. If you want to buy/do/get/see anything, you go up to London. But it's just far enough away that it's a pain in the ass if you just wanted to pop out quickly to, oh, say, a yarn shop, or anything. The pubs we've tried have been very quiet. Restaurants consist of the ubiquitous fast food chains, curry houses, Chinese take-aways, and a couple of "pizza and pasta"-type Italian places.

4) The commute: is frustrating. So, yes, I live quite far away from work- roughly 40 miles. The first 38 is covered in 45-50 minutes by train. It's fine- there're always seats. I sit, knit, read, nap, whatever. That last two miles is teeth-grindingly frustrating. My job right now is in two locations: the labs (which are still at the university) and the offices, which are in a commercial/industrial estate northwest of the city. Getting the the uni is no problem: if I take the 08:00 train, I'm in lab at 09:15. However, getting to the company's offices is a total, absolute nightmare. The first time I did it, it took me three hours. Three hours! Two hours ten minutes of which was to cover the two miles between the train station and the office. See, there's no bus to the estate. The closest bus stop is a 30 minute walk away. Worse, there's no direct bus from the train station to this bus stop. I have to get a bus into the university and change. And traffic in certain parts of Southampton (the part the buses go on, naturally) is really bad during the commuting hours. So I wait forever for the bus, then the bus takes forever to cover a 5-minute journey. So far, I've dealt with this problem by never going up to the offices. This is not a permanent solution, however, as the company is buying new equipment and slowly moving everything to the estate and leaving the university labs.

I really don't want to drive. I won't be able the beat train time on that first 38 miles; it would solely be to save my sanity on that last two miles. But then I don't get my knitting/reading time and does Southampton really need another car on the roads at commuting hours? And with the cost of a car, insurance, and petrol, I probably won't be able to do it for less than my train pass.

I think I'll get a bike.