Sunday, 30 December 2007

2007 round up

I don't know how common this is but I have an almost physical dislike of numbers that end in a 7. They make me do that thing with my nose that emotion used to make me do in the dim past before therapy stopped it. Seriously. So 2007 never boded that well for me. But all in all I think it's gone pretty well. This year has seen me...
  1. Get married
  2. Cut 75% of my meds
  3. Go a whole year without therapy (first since about 1999?)
  4. Get a new job (Yipppeeeeeeeee)
  5. Join ravelry, and thereby get a grip on all my WIP, UFOs, stash and queued projects.
  6. Knit some mighty fine objects, some of which I've put photos for below (in no particular order and largely depending on whether I could find them in my photobucket account)
  7. Hosted my first ever baby shower and become "Auntie Lixie" to the cutest baby I've ever seen.
  8. Reached episode 13 of the podcast, with a 14th being planned.
And probably more that I will think of the minute I publish this post!


I'm astonished to find that this is just a small part of what I've finished off this year. But it's not just the finished objects that I am grateful for - this year also saw the end to the never-ending-aran-jumper started for my step dad in 2005. Long may it rest in peace. The front, completed and ready to go, will form part of a lovely quilt for feed the children in the near future.

This time last year I was giving voice to all sorts of plans and it is of course the traditional time for resolutions. But I think I'm just going to see what the year brings. Pooch and I have been discussing things to do with buying a flat and I would like to see that happen next year but who knows which way the market will go next.

Knit-wise I am very happy with the year and with my current stockpile which would see me through at least one nuclear winter. This doesn't mean there won't be a little stash acquisition during the year, especially at SkipNorth which is shaping up to be oh so good. But I no longer feel compelled to buy all I can and am now much more committed to quality over quantity than I was in the past.

So yes, it's basically been a good one, despite the number 7 featuring so prominently in the year. I've got a little something to share with everyone. It is something I filmed Pooch doing about 6 months ago. This is pure gold, with Pooch at his muppet best. For those people with sound he is complaining at first that his 'arms bend back' but it is what happens when he notices what I'm doing that really keeps me coming back to it to watch over and over again....

Happy New Year everyone!

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Saturday, 29 December 2007

Xmas post

Have had a really rather lovely xmas - just me and pooch at home enjoying ourselves and relaxing. Knitwise it has been rather frustrating as I spent most of the holiday so far making the hourglas jumper from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. This is it when it wasn't wrong - I really like the colours and the yarn and the size and everything but I have completely cocked up the raglan decreases.
I am going to have to rip it back to the armpits which is terribly irritating. On the plus side I have tried it on and know how long it will take to knit and what I need to do differently next time so should have it within a week.

I managed some sale shopping this week and hit both liberty and john lewis on oxford street. As ever they had the same stuff at the same discount - roughly 50% off a load of jaeger and rowan and the DB Astrakhan. Also some Noro at John Lewis which I bought some of for a special project I'll be blogging about on ravelry to keep it out of the way of the recipient's eyes! Liberty's sale was on the whole better if only because they put the prices on things. John Lewis left it for you to guess or deduce. Bit odd. Got two full packs of matchmaker dk at Liberty in two shades of purple. Have done pretty well for purples recently really.

Xmas itself brought lots of goodness. Take a look at this little lot!
Two calenders, domiknitrix and fitted knits, both of which I have been after for quite some time.
My absolute favourite present though comesfrom Nic who made me the *most* beautiful shawl! Pooch agreed to model it for me.
In't it amazing? The yarn is cashmere. It is so lovely to have around my shoulders!
At first Pooch was quite reluctant to model but then he seemed to get strangely into it.

My second favourite present has to be one of the ones from Pooch. How can you not smile at this...
A gift tag sellotaped to a satsuma. Genius.

I've been having a stash clear out and now have a bag of stuff to swap at the yet to be organised yarn swap which I keep thinking I should organise. I had suggested it to a few people who seemed up for it. The Foyles group have had a couple where they have one table for free stuff and one table for stuff for sale which I thought sounded like a good idea. We could have it at Starbucks and people can get their fill of tea and cake at the same time.

With my final day at IOP coming up there are a load of things I need to get sorted before I give back my work laptop. It's amazing how large my 'personal' folder has got in 7 years so there's a lot of patterns and images that need transferring elsewhere. One of the things I started and hadn't finished was the blog book I talked about a month of two ago and on the podcast. I have finally submitted and ordered a copy of "Lixie Knits It 2005"! I had great fun putting it all together and have already started 2006. As I said at the time I was worrying about how blogs are only as permanent as the website hosting them and I didn't want it all just to vanish one day.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Breaking News

I got it!

Hopefully my last day here will be 18th Jan. How happy am I?!!!!


London is fricking freezing today. I still haven't warmed up after my journey in. Plus I suspect Pooch has poisoned me and so keep feeling really sick. Some might say I was in a bit of a grump but that would be a shallow interpretation as I leave that kind of thing to the Pooch. One primadonna is enough in any household.

Through incessant listening to 'Santa Baby' I have kind of managed to get into the festive spirit. Also through intensive staring at our christmas tree which is now surrounded by an embarrassing quantity of presents.
Our families are just so generous! Can't wait to get unwrapping... Have high hopes of a knitting book or two in amongst it all.

We had some lovely news chez byrne at the weekend - a little baby girl arrived to two of our mates (the first baby in Pooch's gang) so of course this prompted some furious knitting. I'd already knocked out the blanket and everton top but these took just a few hours and are so amazingly cute - even more so in the flesh!
Pooch is now demandaing some 'thumbs shoes' of his own.

I have also cast on the hourglass jumper in last minute knitted gifts using the yarn I got at ally pally 3 years ago. I've had it constantly on my mind as I really liked the colours and the feel of it but had never come across a pattern that seemed right for it. But...I think I may have cracked it.
It is two different colourways of fibreworks but they share quite a few colours and so striping them is making a rather pretty fabric and using the 4.5mm instead of the 3,75 gives it a nice drape too. Am going to concentrate on knitting this over xmas.

Something I've hesitated to mention because I don't want to jinx it is a job interview I had yesterday. It is for a Head of CPD at a similar org to my current one. I *realllllllly* want this job. Really. I should find out either today or tomorrow. Its been ages since I was in suspense like this - since I started at IOP in fact. I am so desperate to leave this place that it's going to be a double blow if I don't get it - mood and ego!

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Goddamn camera nonsense and a podcast

Actually to be fair it is actually byrne-nonsense as I have consistently managed to ensure my camera, the camera lead and a computer have not once been brought into alignment since we got back from Lille. So rest assured there is much to follow and the crappy quality of the photos in this post are because of my switch to my mobile which is not really designed for such things. However it has encouraged some stealth photography as you will see shortly.

(Lu and Lou do not click on this link for another few days) I have just put these babies in the post - the reason I've put a link is so that Lucy and Louise do not click on it as they are their presents. They are the same as the ones my secret pal made me except different yarn, gauge, buttons, most things so obviously are not as quite as good as hers. I was able to tell her in person what a dude she has been at the Romford Knit-in on sunday. It turns out she is Emma from and she has definitely been an excellent pal. She handed over my final parcel when we met and I can't do it justice in words so it will have to wait until my camera meets the lead once again. Go to her blog though. She has a very funny exert from the black lace submission guidelines.

There has been lost of knitting going on chez byrne although nothing much I can particularly show off. Just progress on big items really. I did start and then rip the rainbow socks from magknits because once I'd understood the shaping it all just seemed a little bit mundane. I've started another pair with a leaf design which are coming along very nicely and hope to have some decent progress to report shortly. Sadly I have never managed to produce a garment as magnificant as this 'knitted dress' I saw in H&M window. Yes, the blue lurex one.
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Knitted? Jaysus. Whoever thought the 80's and early 90's would seriously come back so much. I still cringe thinking about it the first time. But then imagine my surprise when my ickle sis took me into topman and this was standing behind the counter -
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I kept thinking to myself. That must be a wig. Surely that is a wig. But why would someone wear a wig like that to work. But if it's not a wig he must have had to spend real time getting to look like that. Dear god, it's not a wig, he actually wants to look like that. I turned to Byrne-junior and made a joke about Wayne's World which got a "What's that?" type response. Honestly, what are they teaching them in schools nowadays?
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Or am I the only one who still does the hand movements when Jimi Hendrix's Foxy Lady comes on the radio? Oh go on, watch it again.

And finally a rainbow from my office window.
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Except not finally, because there's a podcast too - last one before xmas. And a humdinger of a competition too!

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Yarn Cake Pattern

This is what we're aiming for - it stops your yarn cake falling apart or getting tangled in your keys in your bag.
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When reading this pattern keep in mind that I am not built for speed, lettuce or writing patterns and so am not sure whether I am using english or US terms but I know it works for me. Some kind person may leave a comment and then I'll make it better so it makes more sense.

First choose your yarn - I tend to use leftovers of cotton 4-pky or dk. You'll need about 15g. Choose a hook suitable for the thickness of the yarn. In the photos I used DK cotton and a 4mm hook.

Make a slipknot and chain 10. This base chain decides the width of your finished net so if you are using one of those mega ball winders then make this number bigger.

Chain 5 (first treble plus 3ch), 1 tr into 5th chain from end
Chain 2 skip 1 and treble into next chain. Repeat 3 more times. DON'T TURN THE WORK!
Into same stitch ch3 treble, ch3 treble. This effectively turns the corner and enables you to do the same loopy thing up the other side of your starter chain.
Repeat to match first side of chain (where made first treble). Ch3 and join to 2nd chain of first treble.

At this point it should look something like a freaked out sea cucumber, a la picture below.
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That's your base done.

Slip stitch across 2 chains - you're now on the peak of one of the little loops. Ch4 and dc into next space. You now repeat this round and round in a spiral.

At the end of the first round you might be tempted to join the end of the round with the beginning at the place the hook is pointing to below.
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Instead make your last ch4 work a little harder and just dc into the next loop, where the yellow arrow is.
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Keep going round until the cake holder is a bit shorter than you want it to be (about 9cm unstretched/7 loops high for me with my low tech average size ball winder). It should look a bit flacid and useless, like the pic below.
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Now you're going to sort out the top so it can be gathered tighter to keep the yarn cake in it.

From wherever you are on the brim ch3 (first treble) *ch1 skip 1 1tr into next stitch. Repeat from * to end. Join this round to the 3rd chain of your first 3ch. You've created some little gaps like the pillars that held up aquaducts in ancient rome.
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To neaten it off do a round of dc around the top. Cut yarn and sew in end. Use approx 50cm yarn to make a twisted cord and thread it in and out of the aquaduct spaces, indicated by yellow arrows.
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You've finished! Put your yarn cake in it and tighten the top cord to keep it in. The centre pull end of the cake comes out of the top. Tighten the cord around the top as your cake gets smaller.

The pattern is on Ravelry as 'Yarn Cake Keeper'. Let me know if you spot any mistakes!

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

THAT wig

Oh yeah, this is me. I'm the one with the chin.
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Because of course last night was Grease 2 at the Barbican's bad film club and it was really fun. Not as good as Anaconda - if anything Grease 2 is almost too bad to be shown at the bad filmk club - but still pretty good. And made doubly memorable by the attendance of Alice (aka Socktopus) and Sue from Golders Green. And triply memorable by my winning a trophy the size of my nose for my wig and a t-shirt.

The wig is of course the hallowig from knitty and it was great fun. I can quite see them being great as hat substitutes for bright young things or chemo patients (not that the two are mutually exlusive unfortunately).

Grease 2 brought back many memories, not least of which was thinking of the last time I ever did something like this in a crowd...
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Here is my sister trying not to be noticed between Sue and Alice. We all had kazoos, clackers and whistles so we could try and drown out songs like 'Charades'.
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It all reminded me of dear old anaconda and I don't think I ever got it together to share this photo of Pooch with a snake on his head.
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The sticky up tail rattles. What a boy.

The terribly busy rush in the run-up to xmas has started. Not at work,. oh dear me no, but in my real life. The weekend saw me going out on both friday and saturday night (practically unknown for me as neither occasion involved knitting) and then going to meet my parents and sian at her place in Horsham.
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If you ever happen to pass through it is worth stopping. A very nice place with lots of promising looking charity shops. Sadly only one of them was open when we were there. And also containing my sister and her boy's very impressive collection of rocky memorabilia which decorates the whole of their flat. I was wondering whether you can get a rocky doorbell as his xmas pressie...? And if anyone knows of somewhere I can get some rocky fabric let me know asap.

This week I have already been to Grease 2 and am off to Lille tomorrow for an early weekend with Pooch. We'll be away til Saturday and I have a couple of yarn shop addresses pencilled in my diary for when Pooch is looking the other way. Then on sunday I get to have my secret pal actually meeting her in person at the Romford knit-in! How exciting is that?!

Job wise I still atrophy a little more each day. I had an interview on monday and got asked back for a second but told them I wasn't interested. The woman I had the first with kept telling me how overworked and understaffed they were and how everyone wanted to work there so they expected a lot from their staff and if one person went off ill everyone else really suffered and basically it didn't sound like a restful environment. Fingers crossed something else will turn up soon.

Sunday, 2 December 2007


It's a hat...
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It's blocking as I type, over a dinner plate. Was a bit foxed by the instructions becauser they didn't mention any increases after the headband and so didn't understand how it would work. Should have known Interweave wouldn't let me down. Is the december lights tam from the Interweave Holiday mag and uses Rowan something and diakeito something else rather than the squillion colours mentioned in the pattern.

I've also been doing a few rows on the Pi Shawl which at the moment is looking pretty manky, although I do like the way the yarn and the colour is working out.
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It's something I've been doing a few rows of in bed. I was thinking about one of the blogs I've been reading where she journals every night. I don't think Pooch would tolerate glitter in the bed and a couple of rounds of knitting is much more 'me'.

I've been trying to be a bit healthier recently and sat down to a really yummy meal of toast and this lot last week.
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I can't understand why I never liked raspberries until last year. They are just so good. The texture is good, the taste is good, they look good and they are actually good for me. Goooooooooooooood.

Went and had lunch with sian, mum and rob and drove around in sian's bright yellow car. Torben was lying in a ditch on salisbury plain in the rain. I don't know how they do it. I get hysterical if my feet are wet for more than about 30 mins. Finished the hat on the way back which involved a terribly long train journey for such a short distance. Gave me pause for thought - I have a job interview tomorrow and I keep thinking..."When they ask you 'what is your greatest weakness?', what should you say?" So far all advice is to say something that is actually positive. But the example Dann gave me last night at dinner was one of the ones Sian said not to use under any circumstances, and she interviews grads for a living. I think I'm going to go with the fact that my default facial expression is 'peeved' and that in meetings I have to remember to smile and be facially expressive. I'm very big on giving feedback and expressing things verbally but I know that when you do that but your face says 'pissed off' it makes the person you're talking to uncomfortable. Geez, I'm so fricking insightful.

Another thing I've been thinking about is how to keep ones yarn cake intact. This has been my long-term solution and has been in use constantly since I made it. It's just occurred to me that I need more than one and so am writing a pattern for my own and others use.
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It even looks kind of dinky.

So...pooch is lov ely

Pooch just highjacked the laptop and typed that last bit. I'd ignore it if I were you.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Post 2 and a podcast

So the second post in this series, if people have got their breath back aafter that awesome blanket, is to look at my knitting and the most gorgeous baby I know. Knitting first...

Bracket Fungus socks are totally finished. I did them on 2-needles with a short row heel and I *love* them! Wore them on saturday.
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And then the december tam from the interweave gifts mag is coming along nicely. I can only do a row or two a night as otherwise my tiny brain gets fuddled.
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I'm doing it via the magic loop method and loving it although the contrast between the Rowan (thanks secret pal!) and the diakeito isn't as much as I'd hoped. Is nice though and with the weather getting colder am looking forward to wearing it.

Then I very proudly finished my first real granny square. Not much I know but then I've never done a proper old school one before so thought I'd give it a go.
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And then I was doing some other of the blocks from the 200 crochet blocks book and this is my favourite so far. I think it might be called 'spinner'.
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The yarn doesn't suit it but you can imagine it in something with long colour changes. I am working up to doing a baby blanket so am trying out the various blocks to decide which to use.

And finally, I know this is what you've been waiting for. Here comes the eye candy...
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Isn't he gorgeous?! This is of course Pete and I met up with him, Nickerjac, ProbablyJane and Lucy (who I hadn't met before) at the Romford Starbucks yesterday. He even got left with Auntie Lixie for 15 mins while Nic went to Hobbycraft with Jane. And he didn't cry - proudest moments of my life and probably the most tiring. I don't know how Nic and Andy do it...

Here he is with Jane (I really like this one!)
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Oh, OK, just one more (check out the huuuuge knitting needle!)
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What a cutie!

And finally, there is a podcast featuring an interview with Alice from Socktopus just waiting to be listened to over here. There's also a competition to win the fabulous stitchmarkers pictured on that site. Here are the ones I talk about on the podcast from Glastonbury Glassworks.
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And absolutely finally...Pooch's heavenly evening...
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(Hint - count the laptops)
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