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We went to bed as usual last night.  Went to sleep.  Later on I woke needing the loo - moral of this story, don't drink too much late evening.  I tried not to wake H, but he turned out to be awake anyhow.  Eventually we both gave up and got up, around 4am.  Two 4 o'clocks in one day is one too many.  We made a drink, I had cocoa.  Then H did whatever he does in the wee, small hours and I went back to bed.  Hence oversleeping today.  The previous night was a bit of an oddity sleeping too.  Here's hoping tonight will be better.

  Knitting is becoming popular, or at least there are people out there wanting to learn how.  There must be the number of times I've seen an ad for 'Free Knitting Classes - enrol now' on the side bar various sites.  I dunno, I learned to knit from my Mum, but I gather that many Mums these days don't know how to knit so people have to go look elsewhere.  I tell you, Dear Reader, knitting is basically Very Simple.  You can knit, you can purl.  Throw in a cast on, a cast off, a yarn over or two, a couple of other forms of increase and a few decreases and you're off.  Anything from dish cloths or face flannels (though they only need they knit, purl and casts on and off), to lace shawls, Aran jumpers, Fair Isle or Shetland knitwear, picture knits and socks.

  Mind you, Dear Reader, socks only require knit, purl, cast on, cast off, increases/decreases (depending on whether you knit toe-up or top-down), picking up stitches/short row knitting (depending on the kind of heel you use).  Simples.  You can make them as complicated as  you like after that, there are plenty of patterns available - from Estontian Lace inspired to confections of cabling.  I'm currently doing a pair in Cascade Heritage Paints - Green Opal.  This I've purchased at £9.99 for 100g, so I'm ekeing it out with plain yarn at the toes/heels/cuffs and knitting two pairs per 100g.  You have to make the most of your yarn.  Actually Cascade Heritage Prints comes in saturated colours, is a tightly twisted, smooth yarn with a soft handle which knits up beautifully.  I look forward to my next knitting bout.

  Well, I had to have something, the Aran cardigan has stalled, awaiting more yarn.  I hope the new stuff is almost the right shade.  Hate to have to frog all I've already knitted to try and work out something else.  The moral of this story is to look at the yardage required, the yardage per ball/skein of yarn and do some basic arithmetic.  Ho hum.  So much for saying 'the pattern calls for this weight of this yarn, better add another ball/skein or two to accommodate my long arms etc'.  If I'm going to post this cardigan (the pilling one) back to my suppliers I may well have to wear a fleece in the meantime.  Hmmm.  Maybe I should take my accumulated sock yarn scraps and try knitting a cardigan with them?  Dominoes anyone?

  Oh boy, UKIP have won another by-election, (the new MP is called Reckless!)  That means the Prime Minister and government are going to be going frantic over how to win back all those who've been seduced by UKIP's mutterings (I have yet to hear a policy) before the General Election.  That's not until next May, perhaps, but the parties are limbering up for it none-the-less.  What's the betting we won't be able to get any sense out of any of them, Dear Reader, until next June.  And then we still may not, depending on who wins.  Aaaarrrggh!  I shall go continue knitting my green sock.  Green is relaxing, knitting is relaxing - honestly, Dear Reader, it is - once you've mistressed/mastered the basics.  Knitting is also useful.  Hmmm, maybe these manic politicians need to take up knitting?

  Y'all have a good day now!
Current Location:
as usual, with knitting
Current Mood:
annoyed annoyed
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There now, I wrote about how the cardigan I knitted in King Cole Magnum has not been entirely successful - the cardigan is fine, the yarn is pilling like nobody's business.  I e-mailed King Cole about it.  They have replied thusly:-

Thank you for your recent e-mail, and sorry to read of your disappointment after completing your garment knitted in King Cole Magnum Chunky.
As you can appreciate, it is very difficult to comment overall without a full inspection. However, if you return the garment back to the retailer to/from whom you have originally purchased the yarn from and our Area Sales Manager will take up your complaint.
Thank you once again for bringing this to our attention.


Kind Regards.

  They want me to post my cardigan so that they can inspect it?  Err, it's nearly quarter to December, folks, the weather is turning cool and I kinda need it, pilling as it is, to keep me warm now and over the next four or six months.  Perhaps I'll try "returning it back to the retailer to whom I have originally purchased the yarn from" then.  Perhaps I'll have a go at their 'orrible grammar (delete/insert) now!

  In fact it's turned so chilly that I've been unwilling to remove the cardigan long enough to sew on the buttons which came Tuesday.  This is a bit silly, as it flaps open at odd moments, but there we are.  The other cardigan, the one currently on the needles, is progressing.  It's currently approaching hip level and final (bottom) ribbing - it's being knit top-down, Dear Reader, remember?  Trouble is I reckon I'm going to run out of yarn before it gets there, let alone knitting the sleeves, front bands and collar.  Thinx: time to try sourcing some more yarn.  Not this actual Artesano aran but an aran yarn with a high wool content and as similar a shade as I can manage from a computer screen (ie: not very similar at all!)

  And Finally - a thought.  The worst part about liking classical music is when you forget the name of a piece and you can't goolge the lyrics because there are none!  I know a lot of music like that.  Y'all have a good day now!
Current Location:
as usual
Current Mood:
creative creative
Current Music:
Fur Eliz, Bagatelle no 25 - Beethoven
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We watched a programme last night about the Kinshasa Symphonie Orchestra - an orchestra in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.  The orchestra, and chorus, are made up of amateur musicians and singers who get together two or three times a week to practice and then give concerts - for the past twenty years.  Classical music in central Africa.  I dread to think what the climate does to violins and other stringed instruments!

  That said they showed someone showing how they would get two double bass necks from a piece of wood.  Which made me wonder, will there in ten, fifty, one hundred years, be the same interest in Kinshasa-made double basses as there is in certain European makes of violin and cello?

  The KSO came to Britain in September this year, joined with the Halle Orchestra, practiced together, visited the Sights (Manchester United's ground, London) and went on a concert tour - Manchester, London (also with the National Youth Orchestra, the BBC Singers and someone else), Bristol and Cardiff - with a Symphonie specially written by two of the orchestra, Finlandia and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.  All in the space of a week!  Then back to Kinshasa - with a load of other instruments for other people to learn to play.  They were amazing.  Really Good Musicians, of course.  It was just so wonderful to hear a Good News story from central Africa!

  You can Google KSO, Dear Reader, or go to BBC iPlayer over this week.  Enjoy!



  Hmmm, SpellCheck is 'off' for the main bit of the blog but 'on' for titles, tags and 'Music' label!  Wonder how that came about?
Tags:
Current Location:
as usual
Current Mood:
excited excited
Current Music:
Kinshasa Symphonie - KSO
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Ooh look!  The new Paddington Bear film is out at the end of the month.  Lovers of the bear from Darkest Peru will, probably, be enchanted, though they seem to have rather gone overboard on the Effects, and seem to have put a fairly major Diversion (Nicole Kidman as a Baddie) into the story. I dunno, see what you think, Dear Reader.  I think it's something to do with having to appeal to the American audience.  They seem to like Big and Simple, the understated Britishness of the original Bear would probably just not have been enough, or that's what somebody thought anyhow.  Maybe they should have tried that.  The BBC did a great job animating the original stories some years back, see what you think about them too.  Apparently they'd booked Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington, only to discover that it just wasn't working.  The guy they finally settled on seems to have worked.  And no, I don't know who he is.  I'll leave that discovery to you, Dear Reader.

  I remember trying to read the Paddington stories to S when he was young, about six or seven.  We'd always read to the children, but gosh there were a lot of words, specially after the picture books we'd started them off on.  Even compared with the Thomas the Tank Engine books.  I think that was around the time I left S to read for himself, rather than me reading to him, though in fact he'd been reading for himself for years already.  If you have small children, Dear Reader, do read to them, and with them.  Children should be introduced to books as a Good Thing.  A warm, comfortable and comforting experience in their parents' or grandparents' arms.  Pick a book with good clear pictures and an interesting story (believe me, if they like it you'll be reading it to them for what like seems forever.  Better pick a book you can get on with, better still, join the local library!)  Pick a quiet time, sit them on your lap and away you go.  You'll be amazed, with just them as your audience you might find you can do 'voices' and everything!  That way you both get a cuddle, get to sit quietly, get to understand how books go (left to right etc) and get to know books as a Good Thing.  You never know, they might even pick up the reading of the words for themselves.  So much easier for when they start school.  And with government plans to have your children into school from age three or younger you need to get in there from practically as soon as they can sit on your lap and focus.

  The important thing is that they learn that books and reading are good, enjoyable.  I'm not sure how many children, first discovering books at school, particularly 'learn to read' books, are put off reading and find it more difficult than it should be.  Yes, I know about dyslexia etc, but most children aren't, and, surely, it's better that you notice that they have difficulty with words rather than they struggle for terms, or years, and eventually get labelled 'stupid'.  Some people manage to cover up their inability to read, or their extreme difficulties with it, for years, when it could have been sorted out much earlier.

  And having started witheWhere the Wild Things Are, progressed to Peter Rabbit and Thomas the Tank Engine, you will soon both be on Paddington Bear and then the whole world of books, even Literature, can be their, and your, oyster.  Whether it's a hard copy book, or a kindle, reading is a Useful Skill and looks set to be one for many years to come.  Not only that, it's a great leisure occupation and you can learn so much from just 'stories'.

  'K, shuttin' up now.  Just one thing, if you're quick and can get to London you can go on the Paddington Bear Trail.  Fifty people have decorated statues of Paddington Bear which are positioned around central London.  You can get maps, an Oyster card, or walk, and go see the lot - provided you go this year.  The trail ends 30th December.  Then you can go see the film.  Or, bearing in mind how long films stay in cinemas, you could see the film, opening 28th November, then go do the trail.   Hmmm, Central London just before Christmas . . .

  Whatever, if all you visit is the websites, and maybe Amazon for the books, enjoy!  Y'all have a good day now!


  PS  Ooh look, Cascade Heritage Paints 4ply comes in skeins.  Good thing I've got a ball-winder then, and one of those expanding skein-holder thingies!  The Postman came.  My cardigan shall have buttons.  Good thing too as it's feeling a tad chllly this morning.
Current Location:
as usual, under my knitting
Current Mood:
amused amused
Current Music:
'Paddington Bear' - tune to the BBC series
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It turns out that the surface of a comet can be Really Hard, which is why the Philae probe bounced rather than anchoring itself when it landed on comet 67P.  Bearing in mind that Science reckons comets are water ice plus bits of Other Stuff, and that out in the depths of space it is Really Freezing, this is hardly surprising.  As Philae finally landed in shade it's used up available battery power and has gone into 'sleep' mode, until such time as the solar panels collect sufficient energy to recharge said battery.  Apparently a lot of data were gathered ('data' is a plural noun after all, though what the singular would be . . . 'datum'?) and experiments done - that's how they know that 67P has a Really Hard surface.  I watched a Sky at Night programme about the whole comet/probe thing last night.  Interesting.  Try the BBC iPlayer site, Dear Reader, as I don't think it's being repeated this week.

  The cardigan is coming along.  Having frogged the Really Too Big top, I re-knit it in a smaller size.  This seems to be about right, so I shall continue.  By now the majority of the cables are over and it's merely a case of stocking stitch til the right length is achieved, which doesn't matter as much about tension.  Then knitting the sleeves, top down.  I may just adapt the cabled pattern on the sleeves.  I have a limited amount of yarn and don't want to run out before I run out of cardigan!  Not sure I could find another aran yarn in the same thickness, let alone a suitable colour.  The whole knitting of this cardigan is an example of why you should make sure you've got the specified tension before you start knitting the garment.  That or go look for a different pattern!

  I finally got round to ordering some buttons for the chunky cardigan I knit the other week.  Well, it'll be cold enough to need it buttoned up at some stage so I may as well.  Honestly, Dear Reader, the way King Cole Magnum pills, I may just have to invest in some better yarn and knit another cardigan.  I like the Wool Warehouse's stock of yarns, the button range is somewhat disappointing, but there you are.  I also invested in some more pretty sock yarns.  I supose someone in the family might like another pair of hand-knit socks just for them?  It's a bit soon to start knitting for them for next winter!

  Ah well, suppose I'd better try on this sized cardigan top and see if it's about right, before I knit any further.  Y'all have a good day now!
Current Location:
as usual, under my knitting
Current Mood:
accomplished accomplished
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Pictures have been received from comet probe Philae all the way from comet 67P.  It is currently thought to have 'bounced' into a shaded area thus any investigations it performs will be short lived unless the comet turns it into the sunlight again.  My mind is still boggling!

  Meanwhile this weekend is the G20 summit in Australia.  On the agenda will be the economy (or economies), various other things and the environment.  Bearing in mind that various countries have been trying to shift goals further on so that they don't have to do so much so soon and you can see why a group of Australian climate protesters dug holes in Bondi Beach and stuck their heads in them.  America and China may have agreed limits within a certain time recently, Oz's Prime Minister Tony Abbot apparently isn't so keen.  There are big groups in Australia with vested interests in coal, oil and motor transport - as there are everywhere.  Tony Abbot is a politician and thus sensitive to interest grouup pressure.  Let's hope he's also sensitive to environmental group pressure.  As I've written before, we only have the one planet, it behoves us all to look after it - from self-interest if nothing else!

  As they say to sheep dogs, that'll do.  Y'all have a good day now!
Current Location:
as usual
Current Mood:
thoughtful thoughtful
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So Philae landed on comet 67P yesterday afternoon, more or less as planned.  Data is being sent and pictures are expected to be published soon.  Y'know, it takes quite a bit of careful planning and calculating to think of, build and launch a probe ten years in advance and have it actually arrive at the same place in space as said comet.  Lots and lots of careful calculations, in four dimensions.  Well done ESA!

  Of course these days astronomers have computers to aid them in their calculations.  No longer the back of a fag packet (smoking is so bad for you), or even the back of an envelope (bigger but harder to find in these days of electronic communication) or even a slide rule (which I did learn how to use, though never in anger.  I grew up with log tables, at least you didn't need to approximately work out the sums in advance to know which answer was correct, except for square roots!)  You've probably heard, Dear Reader, that the Apollo moon rockets had less computer power than the average smart phone!

  All the same, calculating where a comet will be in ten years time is pretty good going.  Calculating quite how and when you need to launch your probe and its trajectory to meet said comet in ten years time is mind blowing, even with such computer power as was available ten years ago!

  To more plebian modes of transport, which don't require a computer to calculate their trajectories - bicycles.  Would you believe it, there's a glow-in-the-dark cycle path in North Brabant, Holland.  Apparently it's inspired by Van Gogh's painting The Starry Night.  Van Gogh was born in Brabant.  It's hoped that the glow-in-the-dark path, which is solar powered, will help cyclists stay on the straight and narrow as well as looking pretty.  Another Dutch cycle path is made of solar cells so that it generates electricity as well as helping cyclists get from A to B safely.

  It's long been known that the Dutch have a sensible approach to transport, particularly pedal power.  The country is flat for starters, which is good provided you're not trying to cycle into the wind.  Portsmouth City Council goes on about trying to persuade people to ditch their cars for buses, or bicycles, or the train, or the park-and-ride scheme.  There's even been a murmur about congestion charging.  The trouble is that most households in the city have at least one car - this in a city built when a house might have a bicycle at most.  There are posh places which would have run their own carriage, but not many.  There are even a few places built with drives, but most of the building in Portsmouth is Victorian, mainly terraces varying from flat front to pavement to double bays with forecourt or small front garden.  Whatever else there is, there isn't the space to park all the cars, let alone cars of people who drive in to work every day.  That's part of the problem, people living in one place and working in another, most of whom seem to use cars to get from A to B.

  Hah!  Not so long ago, like when we first lived here and for a while afterwards, people worked in the Naval Dockyard in their hundreds.  Come 'clocking on' and 'clocking off' time the Yard would blow a siren.  This, particularly the 'clocking off' siren, would be to warn other road users that a phalanx of cyclists would be emerging from the dockyard gates and heading off into the city.  Woe betide anyone getting caught up in the flow - they'd have to stay with it until it began to disperse, somewhere around Copnor!

  These days, of course, the Navy is smaller and the government has moved most of the ship building to Scotland.  There is, I gather, a small ship repair and renovation capacity in the old dockyard.  The rest of it is history - The Mary Rose, HMS Victory, HMS Warrior, a minesweeper (forget her name) and the Naval Museum.  You can almost count the number of dockyard workers on the fingers of two hands.  Ship building dockyard workers that is.  There are quite a few involved in the Historic Dockyard and I reckon most of them travel to and fro by car.

  Helas, Portsmouth is an island, we can't expand, apart from up the hill, which has already been done.  Most of the island is entirely built on.  There are a few open spots, like the Hilsea Lines - which are a nature area, there's some open land along the side of Langstone Harbour, a few playing fields by Stamshaw and a little open ground around St James' (mental) hospital.  That's a bone of contention these days.  The NHS is talking about moving mental health services to St Mary's hospital.  The City Council then wants to build loads of homes on the St James' site.  Other people, particularly those in the area around St James' say that the council hasn't thought things through properly.  What about the drainage?  They ask.  All these new homes will need sewage systems.  The current sewage system in Portsmouth gets overwhelmed when it rains hard and discharges/overflows into Langstone Harbour far too often (rainwater plus raw sewage.  I gather they build different drains for each these days, the Victorians didn't).  Then there'll be the problem of 'runoff'.  Most of St James' grounds are currently to grass and trees, which absorb rain as it falls.  Build over the area and the rain will run off - potential flood hazard!

  All of that is bad enough, but then there will be the car per house, or more.  Apparently the main roads around St James' are congested at peak times as it is.  Put in another few hundred cars and you've the recipe for permanent gridlock!  Then there's the matter of green spaces - of which we have all too few in the city, not to mention wildlife.  We hope the NHS doesn't move mental health treatment.  We hope the council don't build all over the site.

  An alternative plan would be to build student accomodation, with playing fields.  Of course the students also have cars but this might be a win-win situation.  The noisy/drunken/anti-social students would be confined to one site.  What are currently student lets would become available for local people - once they'd been done up a bit, and the playing fields would help feed the populations of Brent Geese which overwinter here from Siberia every year!  That would be a sensible plan, but our City Council has a very poor record of acting sensibly, over a good twenty years - go check the local paper for examples.

  Apparently today is World Kindness Day - so there you are, Dear Reader, go do something nice for somebody today.  Preferably go do a lot of nice things.  Y'all have a good and kind day now!
Current Location:
as usual
Current Mood:
thoughtful thoughtful
Current Music:
Inspector Morse theme - Barrington Phelong
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To those of you who suffer from migraines - a friend had one the other day.  Evidently it wasn't quite the incapacitating sort but it was bad enough.  Anyhew, she got some Hagen Dazs (ice-cream) and by the third spoonful her migraine had gone.  Now I realise this isn't a scientific test, how could it be with only one subject once?  But you might want to try.  If nothing else, it's good ice cream.

  Meanwhile around noon today (GMT) the probe Philae will be attempting to land on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.  There's a live CometLanding webcast here 11-12:15 GMT should you be interested.  Apparently they've already tried to land three times, unsuccessfully.  Considering they're trying to land something the size of a dishwasher on an oddly shaped lump of stuff - frost, snow, rocks, dust - which is tumbling, revolving and spewing off jets of steam etc it's hardly surprising it's taking a few times.

  The cardigan proceeds slowly.  The back panel knits up quickly enough, then I measure it, realise it's too small, frog it, have a think, cast on a few more stitches and knit again.  This appears to be one time when knitting tension swatches doesn't really help, but maybe that's only for the back panel.  Once I get started on other parts maybe tension will become an issue.  We'll see.

  What also happens is that the yarn seems to be shedding short, white hairs on me as I knit.  Or is it as I frog?  I assume that as they're straight they're alpaca.  Just hope the finished cardigan doesn't shed, or I could gradually run out of garment!

  Which is enough silliness, y'all have a good day now!
Current Location:
as usual
Current Mood:
creative creative
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Now I know that you're supposed to cost out planned projects before you ever start them* but I can think of a good few projects** which ran into the buffers at this stage



  Particularly when the analysis is done by a committee!

  Apart from that, everyone knows that a task will, generally, take longer than allowed for - particularly if you have a boss who likes to pare down your estimates to look good to his/her boss, and will likely cost more.  Although there are projects which are completed in time and under budget!


  In Other News I knitted part of the back of the cardigan in one size.  Too small, frog, start again bigger.  The ultimate aim is to get a cardigan.  The intermediate aim is to have some knitting to do of an evening.  Anybody need socks?  Cos I'm finding the change in scale - aran weight yarn and 5mm needles a bit heavy compared with sock yarn and 2.5mm needles!

  'K off to knit some more.  Y'all have a good day now.


  *"For which of you , desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?   Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to mock him, saying. 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.'"  Luke 14:28-30

  **eg: where to re-route the main road past Stone Henge so that it didn't affect the ancient site.
Tags:
Current Location:
with my knitting
Current Mood:
amused amused
Current Music:
Hungarian Dance no 5 - Brahms
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So the first season of the new incarnation of Dr Who has just finished.  As I predicted he trounced the Daleks, the Cybermen, various other 'baddies' and even yet another incarnation of the Master - who, this time, was actually the Mistress.  Strike one for feminism, anyone?  Heck, the last (two-parter) episode included the Mistress/Master, Cybermen, two more famous comedians, old friends and a very old friend.  In the series there were jokes about the Scottish referendum (filmed long before the actual event), jokes about being Scottish (as Peter Capaldi is, despite the surname), jokes about current events (see next para), some of them were even funny!   Shan't tell you any more, Dear Reader, you'll just have to head to BBC3 or check BBC iPlayer.  The series featured at least three famous comedians and a pop star.  I still wish the Dr Who producers (Stephen Moffat et al) would cut back a bit on the Special Effects and Special Members of the Cast and allow for more character and plot development but . . .  Hey, at least some of the episodes didn't have Really Obvious 'Twangle Moments'*!

  OK, one more thing.  In this series people have been dying and suddenly turning up elsewhere.  Elsewhere turned out to be the 'Nethersphere'.  On arrival newcomers were greeted and given a brief tour, one of the tour guides being a famous comedian (Chris somebody, can't remember his name, short curly hair, no, not Alan Davies!)  Anyhew, a recently dead/arrival comments that his  guide has an iPad.
  "That's nothing," returns the Guide (played by comedian Chris ***).  "We have Steve Jobs!"  See, told you some of the jokes were very up to date!

   And change the subject.  I've been looking into knitting another cardigan.  I already have the yarn, from a previous, unfinished and now aborted, project.  I've found a pattern I like the look of, Quercus (I'll be lengthening the sleeves).  The yarn is Artesano Aran, 50% wool, 50% alpaca in a mauve shade.  It's soft, it's nice, it's hand wash (pooh!)  I hope it works!

Getting It RightCollapse )
  I know, I know, the time it takes is the major part of any knitting project, so it's well worth getting things like tension and kinked yarn sorted out first.  A good knitted garment, in a good yarn, should last a good few years.

  I shall go continue knitting.  Y'all have a good day now!


  *Twangle Moment - point in the story when the situation has been getting worse and worse and lo!  Something suddenly changes/someone has a brainwave and suddenly it's about to become all right!  Usually happens fifteen to ten minutes before the end of that particular episode!
Current Location:
under my knitting!
Current Mood:
cheerful cheerful
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