Sunday, 28 October 2012

The Size of a Small Bedsit

I am now a little over a week into my second trimester (though the picture is from last weekend) and still going strong. I have an appointment with the midwife on Friday and I got a letter for my next ultrasound appointment, the last week in November. I know, right? I'm shocked, too. Normally the appointment letter shows up on Tuesday informing me that my appointment will be on Monday. I actually have time to reschedule before having to switch shifts so I can make it. Though, in fairness, the short notice appointments have all coincidentally been on days off. And yes, I have my work rota through the end of November already. Technically it's written out through mid-January but A) I won't be working that long and B) I highly doubt it will survive the first skirmish with the enemy. I keep telling Little Djinn to stay inside until January, any time in January is fine but not a moment sooner, but I'm comforted to know that if it has other ideas it's viable. Still, my preference is a 2013 baby who shows up in January and I'm not shy about saying so.

Of amusement to me and Chris, every time I tweet my weekly progress update ("28 weeks down, 12 to go #gestating" usually accompanied by a picture of either my pregnant self or an ultrasound of Little Djinn) at least one more person twigs that I'm expecting. I've been tweeting about it for 4 months now, and not just the weekly update. I complain about kick boxing lessons when I'm trying to sleep and near constant heartburn and say how weird it feels when Little Djinn has the hiccups (very weird). I talked about the swollen sausage flippers that replaced my feet when we were on holiday and there has been a lot about the joys (or rather lack there-of) of trying to find maternity clothes. I don't really expect people to notice every little thing in my life, but it is a source of amusement and wonder in our household when people who actively use twitter miss it completely.

We're finally getting around to "nesting": we've cleared out the nursery (but not the cupboard/closet!), washed the walls, plastered the holes and, today, added the first coat of paint to the walls. We're using the leftover barely-there peach from when we repainted the lounge after having the fireplace installed. We got our local handyman to do it while we were on our honeymoon and it looks lovely, adding just the slightest hint of warmth to the walls. The paint is also supposed to be "light reflective" which is not to be scoffed at when you get as little sunshine as we do. The nursery...doesn't quite look the same. We're not entirely sure if it's because of slight paint transfer from using the same brushes Chris used to paint one wall of his office red, or if it's because the room is smaller and the colour is bouncing off itself, or just because the paint was wet, but the nursery is looking a bit pinker than the lounge. I'm not overly bothered, if Little Djinn has a problem with the colour of the walls we can paint it again in 5-8 years, and I'm confident that yellow curtains and/or bedding will pull the room back towards peach. I'm also hoping that a second coat of paint will even out the colour. It turns out that love and enthusiasm are not a substitute for skill and professional tools.

In autumnal news, I made pumpkin cake using a third of a tin of Libby's pumpkin purée sent to me by the lovely Miss Krissy. With another third I made pumpkin butter (cup of pumpkin purée, cup of yogurt except I only had 3/4ths a cup left, and a cup of powdered sugar, spice to taste). In the picture above the cake is served with brandy whipped cream, which my husband implied through grunts and eyebrow waggles made him love me twice as much as before, on Aged Parent's seasonal china. It's his every day tea service that he uses year round, but currently it's seasonal and I thought it particularly suitable for pumpkin cake.
Here's another picture from last week, the view from our bedroom windows. The yellowish trees are now mostly gold and rust. I'll take another picture for Autumn-Watch 2012 when the sun actually comes out. It snowed on Friday but not enough to stick or, really, for me to see it as I was at work in a windowless room all day. But I got the satisfaction of correctly predicting it would snow in October, so that's something, right?

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Husband Knits

These are things knit for my husband, not things knit by him. I did try and teach him to knit but he got a few rows in and decided he didn't care it wasn't for him.
First up are Husband Socks, specifically the Firestarter Socks by Yarnissima knit in Opal's van Gogh sock yarn colourway "Red Vineyard" from Sock Yarn Shop. I love this pattern and plan to knit them again sans modifications (I added 4 stitches after the toe and another two for the cuff to size them up and switched the cable to a braid which I'm not sure added anything) for myself. The Red Vineyard colourway turned out a bit less red than I anticipated, more of a burgundy than the rusty red I was expecting. Fortunately my husband has no problem with "pink" socks and is delighted with them. According to Ravelry, I started them on 22 September and finished them on 15 October. I almost entirely faithful knitting the first sock, but my attention wandered on the second (Oh siren of casting on new projects, I am susceptible to your wiles!).
Having finished the Husband Socks, I polled the internet if I should cast on something new or work on another project in progress. My single respondent, Yochannah, voted for something new and I gave myself permission to cast on a project that had been dancing in the back of my head for a while, The Perpetually Persistent Cowl by Liz Abinante. I knit one back in March as part of the Great Cowl KAL using the only super bulky yarn I had in stash, Rowan's Big Wool in brown (it was a gift). I modified the cables on that one slightly (adding another cross to tie it all together like a chain-link fence) and then gave it to my Aunt Kathleen, a redhead who shows to advantage in autumnal colours and lives in Alaska where things like chunky merino cowls are useful. I ear-marked the pattern for future use and bought some yummy bulky alpaca from a farm when wine tasting with my mother with the intention of knitting one up for myself, but at 11pm when I was looking to cast on I decided that winding the skein into a cake was somewhat excessive and instead grabbed another ball of the same Rowan Big Wool I'd used before and cast one on for my husband who had also expressed interest.* Half an hour last night and less than 4 hours today and I have a finished cowl. I did the cables as written this time but added a third repeat to make sure he can wear it up over his ears as his fedora doesn't shield them from the wind.

This pattern is my recommendation for holiday gift knitting - they're simple, they're fast, they're cozy as all get out, and they use less than a skein each. Churn them out!

Finally, I give you Husband Convertible Mitts from the Borough pattern in Knitty's Winter 2011 issue, knit with Noro Kochoran in peach-purple which, again, turned out more pink than expected. These took a week last December but have languished since for want of buttons. I still don't have the "right" buttons for them, but on the grounds that any buttons at all is the difference between them ever getting worn or not, I am adding buttons now. I don't remember much about knitting them and I didn't add notes in Ravelry so we'll assume they were easy and straight-forward and that I didn't make any modifications.

~ * ~

* This is the man who asked me to knit him a nose-cosy (and has since found any number of excuses to keep from having to wear it). He is generally in favour of me knitting anything and everything for him.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Greece 2012

Back in July, when the Scottish weather was being particularly "meh" my husband snapped and booked us a 7-night holiday on the Greek island of Zakinthos for the end of the season. Oliver and Libby left for Summer Camp on Tuesday, we took the train down to Glasgow on Wednesday and flew out bright and early Thursday morning, landing around 2 in the afternoon local time. Highlights from the trip down included a visit to what I've come to think of as my LYS (local yarn shop), The Yarn Cake and chatting with the proprietress over tea and cake (and yarn!). I was afraid my holiday knitting project, Firestarter Socks in Opal's van Gogh "Red Vineyard" colourway for Chris, wouldn't last out the week as I'd kinda cast on in the days leading up to the holiday and had already turned the heel on the first sock. I didn't have any comparable yarn that I could count on being able to knit up with the same needles (and possibly even pattern, it's a lovely one) should I finish the second sock, so I bought another skein of Opal in a tealy-blue varigation that I figured would remind me of the Mediterranean ocean. I was, of course, overly optimistic about my knitting prowess though I was correct that the colourway is perfect. I'm not sure what it says about me that I bought my Greek souvenir in a Glaswegian yarn shop...

Also, for reasons unknown to us, our hotel bumped us to an "executive suite" which, near as we can tell merely meant the presence of a (singular) bathrobe and a bottle of wine (two glasses) that may or may not have been complimentary. Though we'd paid for the room in advance so I'm not sure how they would have billed us for it had we drunk it. After dinner we discovered that the aircon/heating unit was borked and they bumped us to a queen size room, again with a bathrobe and bottle of wine. We had to get up at 4:30 the next morning so we didn't have a chance to find out if they have rooms with king-sized beds.

Zakinthos has the best border control I have ever experienced. There were two guard stations with the agents standing rather aimlessly in front of them, waving through anyone with an EU passport. They weren't even looking at the pictures, just matching the quantity of passports with the quantity of people. Which brings me to a side issue - when travelling as a group, even if you don't trust your kids or wife to keep their own passport without losing it, pass them out as you approach the agent. Tell everyone to hold it open to this page and don't use it to hit your brother and collect them again as soon as you reach the other side, but really, the number of blustery men I saw jealously guarding all of the travel documents and then trying to juggle them all, find the photo page (which, again, the agents weren't even looking at), and match a passport to a person was ridiculous. I got to watch this farce a couple times, waiting for everyone to get waived through so that the senior agent could go back to his booth, find the entry stamp, make sure it was set to the correct day, and stamp my passport. A similar holdup with the added drama of "no, I don't have a vignette for my passport, my visa is this entirely separate biometrics card" played out a week later when we tried to leave.

As for the holiday itself, it was a bit of a mixed experience. Between my heartburn away from my fortress of pillows, Chris being the world's lightest sleeper in a place that was hardly quiet (the hotel bar closed around 3:30am, which is when the cockerels started), and rock hard beds we didn't sleep well. Every tourist and her brother smoked (I only saw one Greek person smoking), it was supposed to have cooled off to the upper 20s by this time of year but they were having a heatwave and it was still in the mid 30s for most of our trip. The whole experience was oddly English - English pop music being played everywhere, English football games on the telly, menus full of English food... It wasn't quiet what I'd envisioned, not that we'd given it much thought beyond "sunshine and warmth, please!"

The last couple of days were the best: most of the tourists left on Monday so it was a lot quieter, and we'd worked out a routine where we'd wander down to a fairly secluded beach after breakfast and wade about 30 feet out into the sea where the water was 2-3' deep and we'd sit on the bottom and bob gently in the water for an hour or two before heading back in, drying off a bit and wandering back up the shore to a small restaurant with an overly-friendly ginger kitten who picked us as big softies from the second he lay his little yellow eyes on us. Chris would drink beer, we'd have lunch, and with varying degrees of success defend our food from the plaintive ball of fluff.

In the afternoon, Chris did a little work on his laptop (things Chris needs on a holiday - a learning project he can work on) and I knit while drinking milkshakes (they ran out of smoothies the second day) and allowing myself a tiny little bit of direct sunshine, and then in the evening we'd go out for dinner and then retire for another almost sleepless night.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Productive Morning

I should go on holiday more often: we woke up before 7 and after a leisurely lie in I managed to dispense advice to and from Captain Awkward's blog, eat breakfast, unload and reload the dishwasher, unpack our suitcases (in the dump-everything-on-the-bed sense, not the actually-deal-with-everything sense - that's crazy talk, though I did sort the laundry), put the suitcases (both those we used and those we didn't) back in the attic, start a laundry rotation, hoover upstairs, wash the hand-knit socks, and have everything ready for Oliver and Libby when they got home at half 10. I am currently sat on the sofa, elevating my sausage-flipper feet. So much better than putting everything off until "later".