Thursday, October 30, 2008

Introducing ...

There will be an end to guinea pig posts soon - probably :o)

From past experience, The Hermit and I know that the easiest way to process the sadness of losing a pet is to focus on caring for one, not on obsessing over the one that has been lost. No new animal can 'replace' the one that has been lost, but by concentrating on getting to know a new personality, the grief can be lifted and love can come back into life. Thanks to the wonders of the internet I was able to make contact with a lady who actually lives very close by who had a baby guinea pig available for adoption. Tina boards small animals and takes in unwanted pets and had initially taken in two guinea pigs for holiday boarding who basically were abandoned when the owners returned from holiday as they (the piggies) were pregnant.

Most of the babies had been rehomed, apart from one little chap whose new home had fallen through, so Tina was so pleased when she saw my message and invited us round to look him over ...

I don't think we necessarily chose a new pet - I think he chose us! As he was used to being handled thanks to Tina's care, he snuggled up with both The Hermit (guinea pigs love beards...) and I instantly and was very chatty and perky - we thought he would get along well with Jasper in terms of temperament and so we took him home, with promises to keep in touch and send pictures.

First of all though, we had to get him to tell us his name ... It took most of the day, but finally, we came to the conclusion that we have a Rowan - an Anglicisation of the Gaelic for 'little red one', coincidentally.

And then secondly, we had to introduce him to Jasper... introducing boars can sometimes be troublesome, as there are dominance issues. Jasper wasn't aggressive, but poor Rowan had to submit to a lot of chasing around, bottom sniffing, mounting, and head rubbing, although he took it fairly sanguinely and didn't cower - in fact, when placed in the newly cleaned pen, would defend the corner he thought of as his in quite an assertive manner ... meeping all the time. Of course, guinea pigs don't have huge amounts of athletic stamina, so every episode of chasing was punctuated by them curled up next to each other to sleep before the cycle started over again :o) This is basically normal behaviour and we knew it wouldn't last, although waiting it out can be a test of patience ...

Now, life is harmonious in Piggleville. Jasper is allowing Rowan to share the pod without complaint (something it took a very long time for him to do with Colin) and they are so sweet, sleeping curled up together, and Jasper is definitely taking an elder brother role. Jasper seems more himself than he had been over that last week when Colin was ill, and although Colin hasn't been forgotten, the pain isn't as sharp.

Thank you again everyone for the comments about Colin - he was a lovely little chap, so cute and a good little buddy. May he rest in peace, and may Rowan have a long and happy life with us!

Mattress Pincushion From Jayne

This is the lovely mattress pincushion and pincushion I received from Jayne (no blog) from the Hooked on Exchanges blog. She obviously reads my blog (or my mind!) as the design is by Bent Creek, one of my favourite designers, and features a bee, my favourite beastie! And those ladybird buttons are just too cute :o)

The rest of the goodies included some backing fabric which features pins and needles, some pins - ideal for all the pinkeeps I make, a tape measure and stitch unpicker which will fit neatly into my work bag, some hand cream - perfect for my handbag and a bar of Galaxy, my favourite chocolate. I'm surprised it managed to last long enough to appear in the picture, but it disappeared shortly afterwards!

Thank you so much Jayne for such a thoughtful exchange, I love it all!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Thank you

Thank you all so much for your comments on the loss of Colin. He was indeed a cutie, and one of the sweetest natured piggies I've been privileged to share my life with. It's very odd not to have the big fluff ball look up at me at every movement, expecting food but this will pass, and I will be sharing some good news tomorrow...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Colin: 1 December 2005 - 24 October 2008

1 December 2005 - 24 October 2008

This week has been difficult - Colin had a respiratory infection/pneumonia and although initially he made good progress, he relapsed during the night and his condition was such that this morning, our lovely vet Manuela and I took the decision to put him to sleep. He had collapsed totally and he would have suffered a slow painful death otherwise.

His companion Jasper is fine, he is not ill but is a little subdued.

The Hermit is at work, unfortunately, but my parents will be by shortly. Colin will be laid to rest with all the previous family piggies, under an apple tree I grew from a pip, and in the spring, there will be flowering bulbs to mark the spot.

Goodbye little buddy, we knew you for too short a time, but we wouldn't have missed having you for the world...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Quaker Hedgehog - The Workbasket

Design: Quaker Hedgehog
Designer: The Workbasket (freebie available here)
Threads: DMC 4130 Color Variations
Fabric: 28 linen, cream

I stitched this little chappie for a private exchange with Karen and it was hard to part with him, but he went to a good home! He is stitched over one, as I wasn't sure how big a floss tag should be - I think it would have been okay over two, and I might do that when I stitch him for myself.

And this is the back ... You can just see I whipstitched the edges, which gives a decorative effect and means no struggling with turning a piece through a tiny opening!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Works in Progress

This is my current focus stitching piece - Summer into Autumn by The Drawn Thread. I'm really enjoying it, but because the linen is 32 count, I need good light to stitch by, and a steady hand, so I'm mainly working on it at weekends, which is slowing the progress. No matter though, as it will make the joy last longer :o)

I am going to finish this as a bellpull I think, and display it with Winter into Spring - which I have yet to stitch!

This is my second pair of socks - one is already finished, and I've just turned the heel on this pair. I'm making them for my closest friend (who doesn't read my blogs) for Christmas, so I should have them completed in plenty of time. The yarn is Italian and lovely to work with, but knitting black has some of the same issues as stitching on black, especially counting! I work on these mostly on the bus, it's quite surprising how much I can get done - it works out at a sock a week.

And because I saw the yarn on Saturday, I just had to start a third pair ... these are for me. I love how the stripes are working out.

Knitting has been very soothing - Colin the guinea pig, star of the recent post, has been rather ill with a respiratory infection so has needed nursing, vet attention and some hand/syringe feeding - and knitting helps dispel the worry somewhat. He has another checkup with the vet today, but appears to be recovering - fingers crossed!

Mattress Pincushion From Jayne

This is the lovely mattress pincushion and pincushion I received from Jayne. She obviously reads my blog (or my mind!) as the design is by Bent Creek, one of my favourite designers, and features a bee, my favourite beastie! And those ladybird buttons are just too cute :o)

The rest of the goodies included some backing fabric which features pins and needles, some pins - ideal for all the pinkeeps I make, a tape measure and stitch unpicker which will fit neatly into my work bag, some hand cream - perfect for my handbag and a bar of Galaxy, my favourite chocolate. I'm surprised it managed to last long enough to appear in the picture, but it won't be around much longer :o)

Thank you so much Jayne for such a thoughtful exchange, I love it all!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Big Knit Hats - Sweepstake Winner!

I packed up the little hats knitted for The Big Knit and mailed them yesterday. Colin thinks they will look better on smoothie bottles than on him...

So, the entrants to my sweepstakes made the following guesses:

Sherry guessed 20 - good try, would have won last year, but not this time...

Cindy F. guessed 28 and 30 - getting closer ...

Quirky guessed 30 - and this one too...

Barbara guessed 33 - a little more...

Barbara guessed 58 - pretty good ...

Trillium guessed 60 - getting warmer ...

Karen V guessed 65 - nearly ...

The total number of hats I knitted was 78 - so Karen V is the winner! Karen, I think I still have your address from a previous exchange, so I will get your little prize out to you shortly.

Thank you everyone for your entries - and if you're in the UK, look out for be-hatted bottles of Innocent smoothies in Sainsburys from November - every bottle with a hat sold will mean a donation of £0.50 to Age Concern to help old people this winter.

Oh no!

My very local LNS - the one that's three minutes walk away - is closing down. The owner is citing the current financial climate and competition from TV and internet sales for this, and I think after 24 years, she's probably wanting to retire too.

The amount of needlework stuff has declined dramatically over the last five years I've lived close by, and the stock is currently mainly just some basic fabrics, DMC, a few kits and some very tired looking charts, but she does also stock beads, ribbons and loads and loads of papercraft stuff so it's always useful for popping in for finishing stuff and the inevitable skein of DMC I've run out of but yet don't have a spare for ... and I've been buying most of my bits of fabric for exchanges there rather than online.

I will be sorry to see it go, as no store in the city centre stocks DMC and none in the city at all stock evenweave fabric - I'll probably have to travel to the next town for anything (which will cost £3.50 in bus fare) or buy online. Neither of the craft shops near the centre carry any needlecraft stuff at all, and Hobbycraft is very poor unless you stitch from kits on aida...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Spooky - San Man Originals

Design: Spooky (a subscriber freebie)
Designer: SanMan Originals
Threads: DMC as charted
Fabric: 28 count evenweave, Amsterdam Blue (I think)

This project was my Hallowe'en Exchange piece over on the Hooked on Exchanges blog, and stitched for Olga in Louisiana. Initially, I didn't know what to stitch, as I don't really do a lot of Hallowe'en stitching, and it took me a while to settle on something from the mass of freebies I have in my stash. I'm so glad to hear she likes it!

The original design was a little deeper and made into a candy roll, but I didn't have a huge border left over so I decided to make it squarer and into a patch for a trick or treat bag. The bag is made of felt and hand sewed together. The handles are trimmed with black buttons back and front - pretty but they probably wouldn't hold too many treats LOL

Here is a picture of everything else I added to the exchange - I particularly liked the dancing skeletons fabric!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

No turkeys were harmed in the making of this post...

For once, The Hermit and I remembered that this weekend is Thanksgiving in Canada and so we had a Thanksgiving dinner yesterday. It was kind of Anglo-Canadian and also made concessions to my vegetarianism so it wasn't entirely traditional, but it was yummy :o) I think next year, I might invite the parents round, although it would mean serious furniture re-arranging to get them seated at the table!

Anyway, dinner was Quorn escalopes, mashed sweet potato, sweetcorn, petit pois, honey roasted parnsips, Yorkshire puddings, and onion gravy, and for dessert we had pie - apple and blackberry, as pecan or pumpkin pie would have been a bit fiddly. And we had a delicious organic beer too - Stinger - made with nettles.

I think we have a lot to be thankful for - not just each other and our families and friends, but we both have jobs, both are studying on courses that really interest us, we have the guinea pigs, our health problems are chronic but not terminal, we have a roof over our heads and food in the cupboard.

And the small things too: hot water bottles, Lush soap, a friendly postman, a new computer, Radio 4 ...

Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow bloggers, especially those in Canada!

Fall Into Autumn - Rainbow Gallery

Design: Fall into Autumn Designer: Erica Michaels for Rainbow Gallery (freebie available here) Threads: own choice (mainly Anchor stranded cottons) Fabric: 14 count aida, cream Finishing: Pinkeep

Although I'm currently not active on the Crazy Exchange group, I recently completed a birthday exchange for Marlies there - I had already received you see, my birthday being in February. It was really nice to have another exchange to put together and I found lots of nice autumnal themed items to add to the package - it's amazing what one can get in a fairly small padded envelope! LOL

The card is one I made myself, as is the floss tag. Also added to the package were two small charts, a small kit, some backing fabric, beads, rayon floss, metallic floss, multi coloured floss and a small spring hoop!

Marlies told me she felt very spoiled, so I feel my work is done :o)

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I've only been stitching on exchanges lately, so I have no pictures yet to show you. My other 'free' time has been taken up with knitting but now I'm back taking classes there seems to be remarkably little of that happening unless I'm sat on a bus...

Today's task is making up my first mattress pincushion - deep breathing and patience have been gathered :o)

I hope you all are having a lovely weekend and thanks for dropping by!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Big Knit - Sweepstake Still Open

As I've already mentioned, I'm participating in the Innocent Smoothies Big Knit.

Each bottle sold with a wooly hat will mean Innocent gives 50p to Age Concern. This is how many I've done so far ... ( a couple more are in my knitting back) - and if you can guess how many I will have by 14 October when I mail them off, you can win an item hand knitted by me!

Thank you everyone who has made guesses so far - you CAN make another guess if you'd like.

For one night only ...

... I have straight hair! LOL

I went to the 'salon' at the local college yesterday to have my hair coloured - fab value, and to prove it most of the people there were pensioners having a perm or a shampoo and set :o) Basically, I think the costs involved are only to cover materials and the 'leccy.

My trainee, Carly, did a pretty good job on the colouring and asked if I wanted my hair dried straight. I have never ever had my hair straightened, and I thought it might be fun to see if it was actually possible.

It was, but it took 45 minutes of hard work ...

I like it, especially the shine my hair has, but it doesn't really feel 'me' - and I certainly wouldn't want to spend the time necessary to maintain the style like this!

This morning, the front bit is definitely trying to kink - you can't keep a good curl down :o)

Monday, October 06, 2008

Prairie Schooler Exchange

I'm sorry I'm a little late acknowledging this - with a new job and a new semester to get to grips with, time simply disappears and I'm hardly at home in daylight to take pictures :o)

Gwen send me this adorable (and useful) needle packet holder with a packet of my favourite needles, as well as some gorgeous hand dyed threads (my favourite dyers too!) and useful personalised note pad and sticky notes (great for all those honey-do notes LOL).

Gwen also sent me a card through the mail, as initially I didn't know who exactly it was from - the mailing envelope only had a surname and address. I did do some detective work, which led me to a couple of new blogs, and I did guess it was Gwen from the clues, but it was nice to have it confirmed :o)

Thank you Gwen, for the lovely exchange!

Purple ZigZag Socks

Design:Simple socks
Designer: Sue Morgan for Viridian Trading
Yarn: King Cole Zig Zag, 50% wool, 50% nylon
Needles: 2.5mm

My first pair of socks :o)

I've been knitting more years than I should really admit (35 years... my mum started me on dishcloths when I was 4) but never really managed the whole using more than two needles thing - I think it was due to lack of patience, with hindsight :o) The first rows of circular knitting with double pointed needles (DPN) are a bit tricksy but perseverence pays off :o)

They are really quite comfy and the wool blend isn't as overly warm as I thought it might be. And the socks aren't too thick, so I can still put on my usual shoes.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Thread Fob from Karen

This lovely floss tag was stitched for me by Karen in a private exchange - isn't it beautiful? The design is from a LHN freebie, and I love it - I have several designs with blackbirds on.

Karen has done a fantastic job on the finishing - if you look closely, you can see the red eyelet is in exactly the right position for the flower - isn't that cool?

Thank you Karen for such a lovely gift, I'm sorry I'm so late in posting about it!

Goals and Update

I don't feel I did very well on my goals for September, but I think outside circumstances and a new obsession with knitting played a large part in that. I'm thankful for my new job, but it doesn't half eat into my stitching time! The office is two bus rides away, and one bus is a rattly old thing, so I'm taking my knitting along instead of my stitching :o) And now Uni has started again, that's two evenings down, and that doesn't include all the reading and such I have to do!

My pile of little hats for the Big Knit is increasing - don't forget to comment on how many you think I will make if you'd like to win something hand knitted by me! The Hermit is in charge of the box of hats now, so I can't be bribed into finishing at a certain number as I have no clue as to how many I've done :o)

So, without further ado, here is my goals list:
  • Summer Into Autumn - The Drawn Thread - no, barely started
  • Derbyshire - Heritage Stitchcraft - no, still not finished!
  • HoE Prairie Schooler Exchange - yup - and thank you everybody for your very kind comments on it!
  • Crazy Exchange Birthday Exchange - mailed, but the person's birthday hasn't happened yet, so I can't share pics yet.
  • Empty mending basket - no. Again.
  • HoE Halloween Exchange - I'm going to finish this today, I'm a little behind
  • One item 'finished' - if you count the PS exchange, then yes!
  • One item framed - not yet!
  • One UFO - oh dear, no.
However, in my defence, I have knitted lots of little hats, numerous afghan squares, several dishcloths, nearly a whole pair of socks, and I stitched JBW's Pumpkin, and part of a Lizzie*Kate design (before deciding it wasn't really my Halloween partner's cup of tea) so I don't think I need lashing with wet floss. Yet.

So, my October goals are:

  • HoE Halloween Exchange
  • Summer into Autumn - The Drawn Thread
  • Lots of Little Knitted Hats
  • Purple ZigZag Socks
  • Mostly Black Socks
  • Mattress Pincushion Exchange
  • Floss Tag Exchange
  • Trick or Treat - Lizzie*Kate
And that's it. If I manage anything else it will be a big bonus!