Thursday, 31 May 2012

May Cross Stitch Along II

I have a confession to make: I don't like fudging cross stitch. Maybe the odd stitch, but I have made systemic errors in this project and it is driving me up the wall. It looks exactly the same as it did three weeks ago. There has been a lot of going back and taking, and I have tried my best but I still see errors everywhere. Or maybe I'm lost in the giant pattern, I don't know. But it is either going to the bottom of the giant list of things I have to make, or it is going to need concentrated effort. My current plan is for the latter, so I'm taking it to America where I hope I will have the light to do it. If not, I'm hoping the light evenings will help once I'm back home....

Tuesday, 29 May 2012


One thing that is essential when in Vienna is to eat Sachertorte. It is an incredibly chocolaty cake, dense and rich and a real treat. For those of you who like me are interested in baking (to say the least), you will know it was the final technical challenge on the recent series of the Great British Bake Off. I wanted to see how hard it could possibly be, so off I went to Hotel Sacher, home of the original, and ate cake and drank tea.

It was a lovely experience, and I really enjoyed it. The tea was easily the best one I drank all week in Vienna. But the cake, though very tasty, I left the place thinking 'this is achievable'. So I found the recipe*  and pottered down to my local supermarket, where the lovely cashier did not look twice as I unloaded my basket of chocolate, butter, eggs and double cream.

*FYI: recipe is not in the Great British Bake Off book, though I do like that as a book

Though I could not be bothered piping the word Sacher on the top,  I think it looks - and more importantly tastes - absolutely delicious.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Visiting Vienna

I haven't yet told you about my trip to Vienna at the end of last month *facepalm*. It was mainly for a conference related to my PhD, so there was quite a lot of worky stuff through the week. However, the weather was too nice to stay indoors all day every day, so I took (almost) an entire day off and went for a walk around the tourist sites. I got the underground out the Rathaus and wandered about a bit... This choice may have been mainly to do with the online research I did beforehand about the location of yarn stores. Sadly, the one I had found was closed, but I wandered up an interesting-looking street; just full of little shops and cafes....

...and I was wandering up I saw this on the opposite side of the road.

Named with all the usual linguistic directness I have usually found in the German language. No sheep based puns here, oh no, just 'wool'. It is great inside too, full of lovely yarn and especially sock yarn. Though the floorspace was not huge, the floor-to-ceiling shelves were packed with squishy goodies, and enough knitting patterns and books to keep me occupied for a long time. If that had been what I was looking for.

I was up for some more sock yarn, after a bit of a diet and making a serious plan, I was itching to treat myself. After making a small purchase (very restrained I thought)....

... I walked back to my accommodation on the southwest side of town via all of the major tourist attractions.

Though what I didn't buy in yarn I made up for in snack food. All yummy of course!

Friday, 25 May 2012

Going on Travels

Tomorrow, I am leaving for America for a month. It has been a busy week sorting things out for that and moving out of my house, and trying to do some work somewhere in between, but I think I am almost there. 

The plan for America is to have a fun week, and then work for three weeks. For the fun part, we fly to Denver and stay there for two nights, then fly onto Page, Arizona, pick up the hire car and drive off into the desert. Well, saying that, we have booked the lovely Cameron Trading Post Lodge for five nights, which is quite a treat but the location cannot be beaten; it is a couple of hours drive from all the things we want to do.

While I'm away doing all this fun stuff, I have scheduled blog posts to go up, about what I have been doing in the few weeks (that hasn't been running around madly getting stuff done). I thinking by the time I get to the work bit I might need a little relax of an evening, so I'm hoping I can squeeze in some time to blog about what I did in my Week in Arizona and What Craft I Have Done. But I don't really know how intense this work will be, so if I fall off the radar entirely, don't worry too much.

See you on the other side!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

FO: Afterthought Heel Socks

Last weekend, I had a great time in Fife with a lovely long walk on the beach from Burntisland to Kinghorn. It was a lovely sunny day if maybe a little on the windy side; we did sit down at one point, massive error as we both got a faceful of sand. On the upside, you get some great views of the Firth of Forth and Edinburgh, including this one along an old pier.

On the train, I finished my afterthought heel socks; they are to be a pretty late birthday present, the birthday was the last week in March, oops! I've been interested in doing a pair since reading about them on Eskimimi's Blog and, after picking the brains of my housemate Steph,  Googled to find instructions here (where it is called a waste yarn afterthought heel), though there are many options for video and audio guides to them too.

I've taken a few photos in different lights so I hope you can make out the colour of the yarn OK. The yarn is Crazy Zauberball in 2095 Indian Rose ( I think) bought at my current LYS, BaaRamEwe, and it varies between a scarlet red to a auberginey purple.

Vanilla socks, toe-up, with cast on with Judy's Magic Cast on and with a waste yarn afterthought heel. Sounds complex but really so simple! This really was brilliant, brainless knitting; after the toe plain stockinette in the round until  you had to knit half a row with scrap yarn, and then plain stockinette until the ribbing, mostly using 2.25mm needles (the ribbing I did on 2mm needles).

You do have to go back and do the heel and then graft it together and here is my pro tip: when grafting there is yarn on a needle, so it looked to me like a good opportunity to sew up the two small holes that can appear either side of the heel (this does also happen with a standard short row heel, I just pick up stitches).

I'm hoping I can photograph the week's other FO and get it out to you before my manic weekend of moving house but if not, see you on the other side!

PS. no, you do not need to adjust your set, some of these photos have weird aspect ratios; apologies for that. 

Thursday, 10 May 2012

May Cross Stitch Along

After having a good bit of inspiration about knitting, I suddenly had a rabbit-in-headlights moment; there is so much I want to knit, that I don't know where to begin. A lot of it I already own the yarn for too, so I can't really use that as an excuse for not cracking on. I've been in this situation but only realised during my week off (or rather, week not in the office but still working) that I am not going to meet any of my mental knitting targets. So I decided to hang them, and do some cross-stitch instead. Just as my knitting-decision-skills became totally paralysed, a couple of my twitter pals decided to have a Cross-Stitch Along, so I signed up. (Here is one of the other posts)

I do like doing flowers, they normally involve great colours; these are not the brightest but I like them all the same. I started this at Christmas, realised I'd made a mess of it, and put it to the bottom of the list. I think having a deadline will help this, but might be a bit ambitious; this is far and away the biggest project I have attempted in the last decade, and definitely the most complicated. There are a lot of little clusters - a few stitches of a colour here and there - so it it involves changing colour lots or incessant counting. To compound matters, I may have volunteered to turn in into a cushion or something for my Nana's 80th birthday in early July. Just what have I let myself in for??

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

So endeth the yarn diet.

The title says it all really. Knit & Crochet Blog Week 2012 has resparked my appetite for knitting - though not perhaps for blogging, I needed some time off! In this frame of mind, I set off for Aberdeen, where my partner has a new job (he's been job-hunting for the last five months after being made redundant). It is a long way by train (6h from Leeds) and I am not yet in love with the city itself - all a bit grey, a bit cold, a bit expensive, a bit near the coast enough that you get seagulls but not so near you can walk to the beach. Though it has won the Britain in Bloom award ten times, which I'm taking as a sign I could love it yet.

Aside from abstruse ramblings, I did what any knitter going to a new city would do. I did just check online for yarn stores and came across Wool for Ewe. It was walking distance from some of the chores we had to do on Saturday, so we both knew we were going to wind up there for a little bit. Turns out, it has actually won awards for things like 'Scotland's Best Wool Shop', and it is easy to see why. There is an excellent combination of your standard woolly yarns, beautiful sock wool, and basic acrylic, all priced at the going rate. I can see myself buying jumper quantities here at some point, but not yet; after all, when I walked in the shop, I was on a diet. I had no plan. I will blog about the shop properly at some point; I was too bowled over to be taking decent photographs so instead I will show you what I have bought.

To add to the spectacularly impetuous craft-purchasing, we discovered that there is also a Hobbycraft in central Aberdeen. I figured I'd go in and get some more cross-stitch supplies as it was so close to the cinema but got rather distracted.

Yes, exactly not what I intended. Oh well....