Monday, 31 January 2011

Taking the plunge

On my list of goals for 2011, one of my crocheting targets was to make myself an item of clothing. I've been eyeing up this Avalon top by Doris Chan, from the Naturally Caron website.

It looks like this:
The pattern calls for Naturally Caron Spa (naturally!) which is 75% acrylic/25% bamboo and, as far as I can tell, unavailable to get hold of here in the UK.

I have been searching for an alternative all month. Of course, I could find nothing with the exact same composition! I have instead focused my search on just finding a yarn with the same tension (22st x 30r = 4") that would hopefully fulfil all my criteria:

a) be available to purchase relatively cheaply in the UK
b) come in a variety of colours so I'd have plenty to choose from
c) be washable and the sort of material I'd be comfortable wearing next to my skin

After searching high and low, I stumbled almost by accident upon Wendy Mode DK, and a website (Cucumberpatch Ltd) which sells it for the rather lovely price of £1.40 per ball (that's point [a] satisfied). It comes in 35 different colourways (tick for point [b]) and is 50% acrylic/50% merino wool (point [c] covered then).

So today I have taken the plunge, and ordered 10 balls in Vanilla (which should give me more than enough yardage, as my calculations, based on the yardage of Caron Spa and the requirements of the pattern, estimate I need just over 8 balls). I'll have to get a 5mm hook as well, don't currently have one as I haven't needed one yet.

So hopefully, I shall start on this later on in the week. I am very excited about it!

Friday, 28 January 2011

A very special FO Friday today

A little late today with my FO Friday post, but I couldn't post earlier on today as I hadn't taken pictures of it yet!

Drum roll please......

It's the Clown Fish!!

Yes I finally finished my clown fish amigurumi this week. I actually finished him on Saturday, last weekend, and have been excitedly counting down to this post all week.

Here he is in all his glory:

I decided against putting a mouth on him, like the pattern suggests. I think he looks just fine without one. It'd make him look too cartoony.

So, the project details. The pattern is from Mausica's Magical Menagerie, and can be found on her blog, or in pdf format as a free Ravelry download. The yarn is Sirdar Bonus DK, the same orange, black and white used in the tiger starghan. I used a 4mm hook for the main body of the fish, and a 3.5mm hook for the fins.

Now, here's where it gets interesting. The fins are four different variations on a similar theme, coming out in different sizes. The ridges are done by crocheting into the back loop only, which I didn't have any trouble with (although my first few attempts with the 4mm hook came out really loose, hence the switch to the smaller hook). What stumped me, was the fact that instead of having a lovely fan shape like I was expecting, halfway along the fin it was switching to fan in the opposite direction.

I eventually figured out the problem - in the Dorsal/Pectoral fin section (which is the first fin section), the pattern is wrong. The rows go ss, sc, hdc one way, then hdc, sc, ss the other way (so all the ss height ends are at the bottom of the fin, and all the hdc height ends are at the top). But halfway through the dorsal fin pattern, are two rows going ss, sc, hdc one after the other. For some reason, the rows have ended up the wrong way around. Once I had my epiphany, I started ignoring the pattern stitches, and just paid attention to how many stitches I was supposed to have in total, following the basic alternating pattern laid out above.

Worked like a dream. I can't believe, now, that it took me so long to realise what the problem was! Once I'd worked it out on Saturday evening, I was determined to finish it as quickly as possible, so stayed up watching Interview with the Vampire while I made all the fins and attached them.

The small fins underneath the body have been attached kind of wonky. Which is fine, if you don't look too closely!

I need to get on and finish my Tiramisu Baby Blanket this week, as the baby it is now intended for has been born a whole 2 weeks ahead of schedule! So I shall mostly be concentrating on that this week; who knows, maybe it will be next Friday's FO.

Done with my fish? Head on over to Tami's Amis to see some other awesome FOs.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Progress Report

Another week, another WIP Wednesday post.


First up: the Tiramisu Baby Blanket. I have been working on this, on and off, all week, and it's now a rather impressive 21" (still a way to go to 32!).

It's quite a dull project at the moment, I get fed up of just doing the same stitch over and over in rows. I much prefer crocheting in the round, I think. But I can see the end is near, and I'll be on the border before I know it.


I haven't progressed much on the Granny Rectangle in terms of size, but what I have done this week is weave in all my ends. I'd been getting quite wary of the fact that when I finished the blanket I'd still have to weave in hundreds of bits of yarn, so I figured I get a head start.

I've done more squares for 100 million stitches (who, I discovered today, have a group on Ravelry).

Top right: #16 Waterlily from 200 Crochet Blocks
Bottom left: #41 Bobble Triangle from 200 Crochet Blocks
Bottom right: #48 Danish Square from 200 Crochet Blocks

All made from the Sirdar Bonus DK I'm using on the Granny Rectangle. I quite enjoyed the bobble square, despite being worked in rows. I like how it's turned out. The Waterlilly was a bit awkward, I don't think the pattern is written very clearly. But as I'd done flowers just like it for my Afghan Reincarnation cushions, I kind of knew what I was doing. The Danish square comes out wonky. I guess blocking would fix that, but as I'm just sending this off to be sewn into a large blanket, I don't think its worth bothering.

I think the main issue I've been having with these blocks, is that Jan Eaton's book is the British edition, so all the crochet terms are the British terms. I learned to crochet from the Stitch 'n' Bitch Happy Hooker book, so I learned American style. Once you get into the swing of it, it becomes second nature to read a British pattern, but it makes my head hurt at first.

Annoyingly, when I think about why Americans would say single crochet when Brits say double crochet, they both make sense. Single, because you only pull through the loops once. Double, because you yarn over twice. It would be so much easier though, if people publishing patterns said quite clearly at the top "I am using American/British crochet terms". It would save on squinting at pictures and thinking "is that a sc or a dc?"; my talent for identifying crochet stitches on sight is not yet fully developed!


And finally, before I sign off, here's a rather exciting sneak peek at something soon to appear in an FO Friday:

Yes! I finally conquered the fins! Clown Fish is a go! More details on that when I post the FO.

That's me done for WIPs this week. Head on over to see more at Tami's Amis.

Monday, 24 January 2011

52 Photos in 52 Weeks - Week Four

Once again, the only real chance I have to take photos for week four was at the weekend. This weekend was a very lazy one - there was lots of European Cup rugby to watch, and after non-stop socialising weekends since Christmas we didn't really feel up to doing much more than sitting in front of the TV watching the games.

We did still make time to cook, though. In a vague attempt to be healthy/save money, we have had to curb our takeaway habits somewhat; we are rather fond of takeaway curry (although the local curry house has now sadly closed) and pizzas from Dominos. So this weekend we decided to make our own!

Saturday night was home-made Dominos pizza night. Our usual order is a meaty pizza for Jamie, a mushroomy pizza for me, and some sides (usually the chicken strippers and the mozzarella sticks). Having experimented with baked chicken goujons earlier in the week, we did those again to mimic the chicken strippers.

As for the pizzas.. we used Jamie Oliver's pizza dough recipe from the Jamie at Home book. The recipe makes 6 - 8 "medium" pizzas, so we halved the quantities. We had plenty of dough for four 12" pizzas (which meant pizza again for lunch the next day).

Jamie opted for mushroom and chorizo, I went for just mushrooms. We used a tomato pizza sauce from a jar, and both emmental and mozzarella for the cheese part. Drizzled with generous amounts of flavoured olive oils (basil, garlic and chilli) and plenty of black pepper, we added prosciutto ham and fresh rocket once they came out of the oven.
They were delicious! What's more, some playing around with the food macro setting on my camera produced an awesome close up shot of my pizza, which has earned itself the title of photo of the week for week four:

Carrying the takeaway theme through, we made chicken tikka masala on Sunday night (cheating a bit by using a Loyd Grossman sauce jar). Such an awesome idea.

Home-made takeaway night is going to be a recurring theme in this house, I can tell. Now if only I can find a recipe for/perfect the mozzarella sticks Dominos do....

Sunday, 23 January 2011

The trials and tribulations of a crafter

As any crafting pet owner will know, getting animal hair trapped in your knitting/crochet is par for the course. Luckily, as my cat is black, his hair shows up quite obviously against most of my projects, so I can pull it out as I go.

But animal hair isn't the only obstacle I face on a regular basis. A long while ago, when he first moved in with us, I bought Fidget a crocheted blanket to sleep on.

As you can see, it was rather popular.

As a result, Fidget is very fond of my crochet projects. Sometimes, he just tries to help.

Sometimes, he seems to feel I am ignoring him, so deliberately sets out to stop me crocheting.

Now I'm working on my granny rectangle, it's more of a problem than ever. The original blanket was just a big granny square. To Fidget, the new blanket is exactly the same, only even more appealing because it smells more like me than the other one did. It has reached a size now that I can't have it all piled up on my knee when I'm working on it, as I get too hot. So I push most of it to one side.

That's when Fidget invades.


He completely takes it over! And I just feel too cruel to throw him off, because as well as curling up on my project, he squashes himself right up against me and I do enjoy my cuddles!

Of course, it's one thing dealing with a cat who is keen on your crochet. Quite another is dealing with the OH when he gets bored of you sitting there crocheting. Then this happens.


Friday, 21 January 2011

A mini FO Friday today

Finally, Friday has arrived and the weekend is here! What better way to welcome in two whole days off work than by sitting back and basking in the glory of a finished piece of art.

This week, I only have one FO to share, as I'm still a clear few weeks from finishing either blanket WIP. It was my friend's birthday last weekend, so we headed up to Northampton to visit and go to her karaoke party. Terribly bad form to turn up at a birthday party without a gift, so after a fruitless argument with Amazon and my friend's wishlish, I opted for handmade.

My friend is one of them pagan sorts, so a quick search on Ravelry turned up a couple of interesting patterns than would have been appropriate. Unfortunately, I didn't think I had the time, or the spare yarn available, to pull together the Tarot Spread Cloth, or the inclination to do one of the Goddess statuette projects I found. What I did find, however, was this:

Pattern: Pentacle Pentagram Hook: 4mm
Yarn: Sirdar Bonus DK in purple, green and black
Modifications: I didn't like the edging in the pattern as it was written, so I changed it as follows:
Round 6: 2sc in first dc, sc in next dc and in each dc around (61 stitches)
Round 7: basic shell stitching, so sc in first sc, sk 1 sc, 5 dc in next sc, sk 1 sc, sc in next sc, repeat to end.

I'm really pleased with the finished motif, and judging by the reaction when the present was opened, so was the recipient!

If I can master the art of crocheting circles into squares, I may do a pentacle motif in a square for the 100 million stitches project.

Head over to Tami's blog to see other finished objects on show. I did, and they are awesome. Sadly, blogger has been screwing me over when it comes to leaving comments, so I have been unable to leave comments where I'd wanted to, and equally unable to respond to comments here. Very frustrating!

So I'm just going to say, if you don't go to Tami's blog, you should at least check out these FOs because they are my favourites this week:

CraftyCripple's socks are amazing, and the homemade stitchmarkers are beautiful!
Kathleen's been busy making preemie hats for charity, and had her first go at dying yarn; it's turned out fantastically.
And I just absolutely adore AutumnGeisha's shawl. The buttons are fab. Makes me want to knit more.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

WIP Wednesday, sort of

So as I mentioned yesterday, I'm crocheting squares for the 100 million stitches project. True to my word, when I got home from work last night I pulled out the yarn I've been using on my granny rectangle, and made my first block, the friendship ring motif I mentioned yesterday.

I'm going to count the 100 million stitches project as one WIP, so although the individual square is finished, the project is ongoing; therefore, by the virtue of tenuous logic, I include it here as a WIP Wednesday, and am not saving it for Friday's FO post!

The picture's not great, but you can see it well enough. Purple and red were my colours of choice for the interlocking rings (and boy, were they a pain in the behind to manouevre around) with a pale blue border. It's come out bang on the 6" required, which is awesome.

I popped out at lunchtime, and had a look in Waterstones at crochet books, the end result of which was me ordering Jan Eaton's book 200 crochet blocks from Amazon when I got back to the office (I don't mind waiting a few days to get my hands on it if it costs me half the price!). No boring plain squares for me in this project! Rather handily, all the patterns in the book are for 6" squares as well, so very little brain power will be required.

An update on my other WIPs:
  • Clown Fish has not changed since last week. I didn't have a chance to have another look at the fins this week, perhaps I will make time to do that tonight.
  • Granny Rectangle is sleeping at the moment, I finished off the round I was halfway through and fastened off because I needed the black for something else (come back on Friday to see why!), and I'm using my only 6mm hook for this and the Tiramisu blanket, so I can only work on one at a time.
  • Tiramisu Baby Blanket is progressing nicely, it's almost halfway done on the main fabric area. No photos though, as it's at home and I am not! Plus, it doesn't look all that different to last week.

As usual, head over to Tami's blog to see everyone else's current WIPs.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Third week out of 52...

Opportunities for photography at the weekend were low on the ground. Sure, I took a lot of photos on Saturday, but that was at a friend's karaoke party and I didn't think drunken shots in a dark club were really appropriate for a photography challenge!

Yesterday it rained all day, so I had no opportunity to go out and take photos during my lunch break. I thought today would be the same, but there were blue skies overhead as I cycled to the station.

I did miss out on a fabulous shot from the train, but I was busy reading the Metro and not sitting with my camera in hand - a small river had burst its bank and flooded a field, and there was a heron striding through the water looking like all his Christmasses had come at once. Would have made an awesome shot, and one I could probably have managed, as it was in a field just before one of the stops along the way so the train had slowed down! Dammit, that's two awesome photos I've missed in as many weeks.  Last week there was a perfect opportunity to shoot a plane flying overhead in a completely clear blue sky, with the sun glinting off the metalwork, but I didn't have my camera with me as I'd just popped to the corner shop to buy a tin of beans.

Lesson learned - always carry your camera and be ready to shoot!

So, what did I do today? At lunchtime there were blue skies (with a little cloud) and the sun was really rather bright. I thought I'd take my chances, and popped out to have a wander around the park behind the office. I've taken photos there before, there's plenty of things going on. Boating lakes, ducks, swans, all kinds of different tree species on the "tree trail"...

I couldn't help myself on the footbridge I had to cross to reach the park - the bridge is at the same height as the treetops, and there are fabulous red berries.

More berries

I have photographed them before (see here!) but the sunlight was just.. perfect. I think I have a thing about berries; I love taking photos of them, especially when they are so brightly coloured.

Heading into the park itself, I was disappointed to see the fountains in the main pond were not switched on. A council employee was up to his knees in the boating lake, doing some sort of maintenance thing with the island in the middle. I guess it would have been unfair on him to be showering him with water the whole time he was in the lake! However, it did cause me an issue, as the fountains had been what I had in mind to photograph, perhaps with the sun behind, shining through the spray. Another day for that, perhaps.

As I walked round the lake, I noticed a rather large puddle.

I had a brief spark of inspiration, and headed over to it to have a play. I stood with one foot in the puddle, focused on the water in front of me, and took photos as I kicked water across the puddle's surface.

Circles 1

Circles 2

Circles 3

I really like these shots, especially the third one. But I'm not sure which I prefer to put in the Flickr group for my photo for the week. Do I use the water shot? Or the berries? Or do I use this shot instead?

Your Time is Up

I can't decide.

Charity Crochet

Over the last couple of weeks, I've read about a number of charitable knitting/crochet efforts, most notably SuddenExpression's drive to knit preemie hats for the hospital which cared for her sister's premature twins. I wanted to get involved in something like this, because I think it's a great idea. Unfortunately, all of the ones I've read about so far are based in America, and would involve shipping my FOs to American addresses.

So you can imagine my delight when I discovered today the 100 Million Stitches project being undertaken as part of the celebration of the centenary of International Women's Day. Not only are 6" squares ridiculously quick and easy to crochet up, I can go to town on different motifs. Consider it practice for my next afghan project! And better than that, the project is based in Glasgow, which means a UK address to post the squares to.

I already have a first motif in mind, the Friendship Ring Square by Terri Kroupa (pattern is here, the only shared FO on Ravelry I can find is tealya's joined ring afghan, which I'm sure she won't mind me linking to, as it means my non-Ravelling readers can see how it looks all finished in a blanket). It reckons it's an 8" square, but with some fiddling about on hook size and yarn I'm sure mine will be more like 6". I've been wanting to play with this square for a while, but it didn't really seem to make any sense to just make one and leave it lying around.

I am now very tempted to run out and buy a big book of motif patterns and spend the next week or so working my way through them for this project! Might have to wander into town at lunchtime and see what I can find.

Friday, 14 January 2011

FO Friday again

I'm quite excited about FO Friday today. For I have two things to share, and one of them *gasp* is from WIP Wednesday last week!

Yes, I've finally put a face on my amigurumi tiger and he's ready to meet the world.

Isn't he cute?
I used some black embroidery thread I have hanging around from an unfinished cross stitch I've been working on. I think he looks quite sweet, and I'm very pleased with him.

The other thing I finished this week was a new project, started and finished on the same day (last Friday, in fact, but waaay to late to be included in last week's FO Friday post). I mentioned on Wednesday we have a few babies arriving over the next six months or so; I started my gift-making with an experiment in baby hats:

This is the Popcorn Crown hat by Paula Dean Nevison. It's that yellow Top Value DK again, until I buy any more baby-things yarn everything I make will be this colour! Using a 6mm hook, my hat has come out with a circumference of 14 inches, which according to this chart makes it suitable for a newborn. But as I have no experience with babies and their heads, I have no idea if this is accurate or not. Does anyone have any idea? If it is possibly too small, then I will follow kelbeldesign's advice and add two more dcs to the starting round and making it longer. I also really like the effect she gets with using two colours (see her other project here).

I feel I ought to apologise to my non-knitting/crochet readers. A lot of the links here are Ravelry-based, so you'd need to be a member of the site to see them. I presume everyone who's found their way here from Tami's blog is on Ravelry already, though.

I also promise to blog more about the other stuff, not just my crochet! I'll make a real effort to start on the other photography challenges soon, and I'm in the middle of a huge Games Workshop audit in the house to find out how many miniatures we have that need painting, so expect a large Warhammer related post in the next week or so too.

Have a good weekend, and don't forget to head over to Tami's Blog to check out the other FOs posted today.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

WIP Wednesday 3

Another Wednesday already! I am happy to report I have a new WIP to show you this week, hopefully to make up for any lack of progress on the amigurumi front.

Lets start with the WIPs from last week:

Granny Rectangle
No pics of this one today, as it doesn't really look that different to last week. I've done maybe four more rounds since last Wednesday (mostly at the end of last week), and I'm starting to look like I'm going to run out of some of the colours soon. So a trip to Hobbycraft will be in order at some point this week!

Clown Fish
I'm afraid I have to report no further progress on the clown fish. I did try, but I have to admit the pattern is defeating me. I just can't get the dorsal fin to work! I think I know what the problem is, I just need to wait until I'm not likely to throw it across the room in frustration again.

and finally.... the new WIP for the week:

Tiramisu Baby Blanket
This week I learned another friend was expecting a baby. That makes three babies due between now and August. I'd best get busy! I already had a couple of items in my Ravelry queue. The Lion Brand hooded baby blanket is one, but I want to use Sirdar Supersoft Aran for that, which means a trip to Jacksons, where they sell it quite cheaply. I needed things I could start immediately, and use the pale yellow Top Value DK I was given for Christmas.

The Tiramisu blanket pattern (Ravelry pattern link here) looks really cute in all the FO pics on the site, plus it's free, which is always a bonus (don't think I've paid for a pattern yet!). However, a quick glance over it showed me straight away that my yarn was not the same as the recommended, so a test swatch was definately needed:

After a couple of goes, and a bit of a head scratch as I worked out the maths behind the pattern and how to scale it, I finally settled on chaining 121 stitches instead of 91, with a 6mm hook. The rest should follow on from that neatly enough.

After a couple of days working on it, it now looks like this:

A whole nine inches done. Out of 32, so I've a bit to go yet before I can get excited about the border! I'm not sure what colour ribbon to go for, although of the three babies it could go to, one is definately a girl and one is definately a boy, so I could go blue or pink and get away with it. Guess I'll see what's in the shop when I go to get it.

That's all my WIPs this week, head over to Tami's Amis to see the others!

Sunday, 9 January 2011

52 Photos in 52 Weeks - Week Two

So yesterday marked the start of Week Two of the 52 week photo challenge. I know theoretically I have the whole week, and ought to wait until Friday before choosing which photo to use, but since the weekends are the only days in January I actually get to enjoy the daylight hours, I've kind of settled for taking the photo on the weekend at the start of each week. Hopefully, as the days get longer, I will find more opportunities to take pictures elsewhere/at other times.

On to this week's photo then. We had some friends visiting this weekend, so arranged to go out to the pub last night with everyone. The pub nearest our house has recently been refurbished, going from a very cheap, studenty Scream pub to what looks from the outside like a very up-market, posh gastropub. We weren't sure how a posh pub would work in this area, as we're quite close to the university so have a lot of students in the area.

But it's actually quite nice. Not massively expensive, compared to the other pubs we usually go to in town (although definately more expensive than it was, as we have a discount card for the Scream pub chain!) and very nicely decorated. The pub garden is vastly improved, with better furniture, heaters and pretty twinkly lights everywhere.


We particularly liked these lanterns. They're made of wood. I especially like the red glow of the heaters in this shot.

I don't have a lot of experience taking photos at night. It is my intention to explore this a little bit more over the year (maybe even shock horror reading the instruction manual for my camera and having a play with the manual settings).

Watching the BBC Stargazing Live program has also made me keen to take awesome photographs of the night sky, so I will definately need to get better at it in order to do that.

Friday, 7 January 2011

FO Friday

Friday already! This has seemed like a really short week.

Just a quick one to show of my FO for the week - as I've mostly been working on the granny rectangle I don't have much to share today.

In traditional fashion, I have this week ignored entirely my list of crafting goals where knitting/crochet are concerned. I sat down on Monday thinking "I've got to finish those amigurumi" and then promptly picked up an old knitting project instead.

I was gifted a pair of "knit-your-own-scarf" sets by J's Mum a few years ago. One has been half-finished for a long while (so long, it is now officially hibernating), but the other I knitted up on my birthday back in May this year (following the pattern directly, 15 stitches cast on and then just a basic knit stitch). It looked like this:

Please forgive my terrible posing/hair/kitchen

Which was all very well and lovely, and it was nice and snuggly and would be perfect for wearing when going out somewhere one step up the posh scale from normal.

But it didn't go with anything. Nor did I have any occasions to wear it to. It sat in my cupboard gathering dust. So on Monday, after much deliberation, I took it out and I frogged it.

Then I cast on just 8 stitches, and knitted it back up again. Now it looks like this:

It's incredibly long! Enough to wrap around my neck at least three times. I wore it twice this week, and got lots of compliments from my colleagues. People always seem so surprised when they say "Oh, that's lovely, where did you get it" and I reply "I made it yesterday".

The only real downside of this scarf is that it's full of gaps which let the wind through, so it's far more suited to wearing when I am walking or travelling by car; it didn't really hold up well when cycling.

Hopefully next Friday I will have some finished amigurumi for you! Don't forget to head over to Tami's blog to see all the other lovely FOs posted today.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

WIP Wednesday

Wednesday already! It doesn't feel like a week has gone by since I last posted my WIPs; bank holidays do such funny things to one's perception of time.

So, not much progress made on my amigurumi this week (read: no progress at all), but I have been flying through the granny rectangle afghan.

When I posted pics of it last week, I was working on round 11 (2nd blue round). Last night, when I put it down before bed, I had just started round 29 (4th purple round). It grows very quickly indeed!

I'd say I'm not quite halfway through now - I want it to be big enough that it covers the sofa entirely, so that me and J can snuggle underneath it quite comfortably when we watch TV. It's a lovely project to work on in the cold weather, though, as it keeps me very warm when it's all piled up on my lap!

That's it for my WIP Wednesday, but head on over to Tami's Amis to see lots more!

Monday, 3 January 2011

52 Photos in 52 Weeks - Week One

So I've been racking my brains over what my photo for week one would be. The week isn't shaping up to be an interesting one; it started with New Year's Day, which was mostly lost to a hangover. The rest of the weekend has been fairly uninspiring from a photography perspective, and for the rest of the week I will be busy going to work and not really having daylight time available for taking decent photos.

Unless every one of my 52 photos is going to be a different photo of the park behind my office!

But then I was struck by a sort of inspiration. There had to be a way to create an interesting and beautiful picture inside the house, from something ordinary and unexpected. I took a few shots of Mr Fidget (the cat) sleeping on the sofa; while cute, I didn't think they cut it in terms of meeting my challenge needs. I have much practice in taking photos of the cat!

I took the camera into the kitchen, as we'd just roasted a chicken and I like taking photos of our roasts (I'm not sure why, maybe so I can play with the food setting on my camera). J was still cooking, so I amused myself taking random shots of the cooker. And came out with this, which I think is beautiful.

Kitchen grease

It's grease, under the cooker hood. A bit embarrassing to share, I guess, because it shows up how horrendously filthy the cooker hood is, but we never use the extractor fan anyway, so it doesn't really matter. The flash reflected off the hood, and at first I thought it had ruined my shot. But looking at it on the bigger screen, I actually like it. So it makes it into the set, as my week one photograph.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Twenty Eleven here we come

I guess it's tradition, to make resolutions on the first day of the year. This year I'm going with something slightly different (for me at least). Crafting goals!

I am realistic enough to realise that I cannot possibly hope to focus on everything in the year ahead, so I am going to have to relegate some of my hobbies to the back shelf once more. Some things are unfortunately more important than others, and as one of my main goals this year is to qualify as an accountant, I need to ensure I have enough time available for studying and revision. So some of my hobbies are going to be (once again) relegated to the back shelf and put aside. Drawing, painting and any ambitions I had towards learning a new instrument will all have to wait for another year.

The year will be no fun, though, if all I do is work and study. So at the very least, I shall attempt to complete these modest goals:

These goals have already been outlined in a previous post, but I will list them again for completeness:
  • One picture a week for a year
  • One picture for each season
  • One picture a day for a month
  • Object photo challenge
  • Finish my current WIPs before starting anything new (the tiger, clownfish and rectangle granny, specifically)
  • Crochet my first item of clothing, potentially this top I found on Ravelry
  • Make gifts for friends currently expecting babies (bit of time pressure on this one, as baby 1 is due fairly soon, and baby 2 is due in May). I suspect the pale yellow yarn I was given for Christmas will come in handy for this!
  • Learn more "advanced" knitting techniques. At the moment I can do a basic garter and stocking stitch (and I did one lace scarf that had YO and knit2tog) but I've seen some lovely knitted patterns on Ravelry that I'd love to have a go at which I suspect require me to be a bit more competent. Something like this, or this.
  • I'd like to add in some sort of crochet X number of Ys but I have no idea what that would be. Maybe a new amigurumi a month or something?
Painting Warhammer Miniatures
An element of my craftiness not yet explored by this blog, but something that I love doing but did far too little of this year. So to compensate, here are some targets for me to hit over the next twelve months:
  • Finish painting my High Elf Bloodbowl team. They've been half painted for about a year now, so it's about time.
  • Convert and paint some of the individual star player models we've had planned for ages.
  • Base every single model that gets painted in this house. I want to be able to say, on 31st December 2011, that there is not one single miniature in this house that has been painted but is still standing on a bare base.
  • Make a decent go at painting my Orc army. Ok, I probably won't get the whole thing done, as there's something like 150 models at current count. I'll do a post in a few days and elaborate on this, as I need to sit down and go through the army and see what is what,
Making Music
So I've put learning the cello on the back burner for another year, but I am rather determined to let 2011 be the year I finally get back into the habit of playing the piano. To do this, here are some goals;
That's probably enough to be getting on with. After all, I still need to leave time for things like roleplaying, climbing, swimming, cycling and hiking! I'll try and keep you all updated with my progress!

Happy New Year!
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