31 May 2008

Thoroughly maddening Millie!

I'm feeling rather sleep deprived. Millie, my lovely, beautiful cat, turns into a monster at night. We used to let her wander the flat at night except for our bedroom (hubby doesn't want her sleeping on the bed as we'd wake up with a face full of fur) but a couple of weeks ago she started scratching on our door at about 2am and 5am. And she was persistent too. We'd try ignoring her, shooing her off, throwing socks at the door, but nothing stopped her. So after reading some advice on a cat chat forum, we started shutting her in the living room at night.

The night before last was OK, she scratched for about fifteen minutes but it wasn't too loud and we managed to ignore her, and so eventually she gave up. But last night she was being so persistent hubby went to try stopping her. Big mistake, that only made her worse. He put cardboard up against the door to try and deter her from scratching but it didn't work. She started scratching everything - the door, the sofa, even the floor. The third time she woke us up I relented and let her in our room, hoping she'd just curl up and go to sleep. No such luck. She wandered around on the bed, licking any bit of human skin she could find, at one point standing very heavily on my chest. In the end hubby had to go feed her and she happily trotted off to the spare room for a nap. In the meantime, we're shattered.

We really don't know what to do. We need a proper night's sleep, and we also need her to get used to some rooms being out of bounds at night - in the next few years we may well have a less furry dependant to worry about, and I don't want Millie wandering in and out of the nursery at night. We've now attached a trellice (sp?) to the living room door to try to stop her scratching, but if that doesn't work, goodness knows what will!

Stash Wars!

Every true knitter has a stash issue. There are two main contributing factors: the buying of a little too much yarn for a project, leaving you with an often useless amount of yarn, and the fact that yarn is so very pretty that you can find yourself buying it even when you don't really need it, and then can't find a project to fit. It's the first one that's a challenge for me. Here is my main stash:

See what I mean? A real problem. And that's not even all of it, after taking the picture I realised I'd not put in some of the smaller balls I've got. I can remember where most of the balls came from. The two bigger black ones are from when I knitted myself a tank top about two years ago, the smaller black one was given to me by a friend who'd bought to just use a bit for a Sunday School game (along with the red, cream and one of the browns). The other brown and the pale pink were bought for making knitted cupcakes. The yellow ball is left over from a tea cosy I made for hubby's Grandparents. The white one I saw in a charity shop and bought with nothing to use it for, it's been used for cupcakes and a matinee jacket I made to send to Moldova. The pale blue was bought from Poundstretcher when I first started knitting because it was cheap and has been used for cupcakes, a baby cardigan (also went to Moldova) and a headscarf that I don't wear because it makes me look like someone from 'Little House on the Prairie'. The denim blue wool was for a crocheted shrug.  And the bright pink is left over from my Mum's shawl. Oh and the weird brown thing on the edge is Millie's tail, she wouldn't move.

In addition I have the yarn I 'thrifted' (a horrible word but fitting) from a jumper that had seen better days:

All in all I've got a lot of yarn. So I've decided not to buy any more (unless it's for a special gift) until I've reduced this little lot to oddments at the most. I'm using the jumper yarn to make a cardigan, the bright pink for a skinny scarf, the yellow will make some baby boottees and maybe a hat for a friend who's expecting, I'm thinking of making a beret out of the bigger black ones and I also need to make a tea cosy for my mum out of a combination. As for the rest, any suggestions would be good, otherwise it'll be cupcake mania!!

I'll keep posting the results as I go along!

Generous Journal: Mama's got a brand new bag

I did it! For months on end I've been working on a carrier bag knitted out of plastic bags. I actually started before Christmas and only finished it last night. Ain't it funky looking?

The pattern is called 'Reduce, Reuse, Recycle' and was found on the internet (but unfortunately the pages is now extinct). I don't know how useful it's going to be as a bag, but I think of it more as a statement - a surprising 18 bags went into the making of this, and they have all now been replaced by just one. It just goes to show how wasteful we are as a society (myself included - after all, the bags weren't donated to me!). Instead of carrying around one or two bags to reuse, we amass dozens of carrier bags, often very flimsy. There's one bag in there from Greggs that snapped whilst I was knitting it and I had to do a hasty repair job, it just shows you how these bags aren't built to last at all.

Also interesting to me was the amount of nasty dye used. Some bags were just white or transparent, but there were some that left my fingers all sorts of nasty colours (you can see a line of pink at the bottom, that was a T-Mobile bag and it made me look like I'd trapped my fingers in a door!). You've got to wonder whether those chemicals are really necessary, and what damage they could be doing in landfill.

So there we are, about six months work - a hopefully more durable bag than the sum of its parts, and a symbol of just how much we clutter up our lives unnecessarily.

27 May 2008

This Week I will mostly be ...

... reading 'The Summer Book' by Tove Janssen
... finishing the knitted carrier bag (I'm determined!)
... enjoying my last week off before I start work again
... enjoying having hubby home with me
... watching all the DVDs we've not had chance to watch
... hoping the sun comes back

22 May 2008

200-word review: 'True Grit' by Charles Portis

Wow. It’s a long time since I read a book this fast! When I got ‘True Grit’ as a birthday present, the title and front cover put me off – why would I want to read a book about guns and grit? But I’m so glad I did, because this is a good ol-fashioned gripping yarn!

It’s a Western, based around the 1870’s, about a teenage girl (Mattie Ross) who goes into Indian Territory with a maverick marshal, Rooster Cogburn, to avenge her father’s murder. I’m not a big fan of Westerns, but what drew me in was the narration. The story is told retrospectively by the older Mattie and the style is fascinating. It comes across as very dry, almost matter-of-fact, with a lot of attention to detail. This makes the action of the story really stand out, and gives the sense that the older Mattie is numbed to the harsh realities of what she went through then. The realities are harsh – gunfights, snake-infested pits and corpses galore, and the narrative has the effect of making this action more believable.

Even if you hate Westerns, read this. If you don’t like it, even a little, there’s something wrong with you.

19 May 2008

200-word review: 'The Brothers Karamazov' by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Having loved ‘Crime and Punishment’ when I was 17, I had high expectations for ‘The Brothers Karamazov’ – I thought it would be as compelling as Dostoyevsky’s earlier, more famous work. Alas, ‘Crime and Punishment’ is more famous for a reason. ‘The Brothers Karamazov’ is nearly as boring as ‘Don Quixote’.

The story is of a father, Fyodor, and his three adult sons, Mitya, Ivan and Alyosha. Fyodor and Mitya have an ongoing feud over money and a woman who is mistress to both. Fyodor is murdered, and Mitya is blamed. After the murder, the novel is quite engaging, reading like a whodunnit-cum-courtroom drama, but leading up to the murder it is convoluted and frustratingly dull. I think the problem is that Dostoyevsky uses the novel to comment on contemporary Russian society and draws in a lot of unnecessary characters and subplots, padding out a simple murder tale to a 900-page bore. Perhaps the social comment was riveting at the time, but as I had no contextual knowledge, it was lost on me.

If you know about and are interested in 19th century Russia then this might be the book for you. If not, I suggest you give it a miss!

This week I will mostly be ...

... working a bit. Got a day's work on Wednesday
... otherwise being a good little housewife
... reading 'True Grit' by Charles Portis
... watching the Kaiser Chiefs perform live on Saturday
... hopefully getting closer to finishing my knitted carrier bag
... eating salad leaves (they just keep coming!)

16 May 2008

Generous Journal - update

Well, I've been generally rubbish at blogging recently, but particularly regarding my Generous Journal. So here's a little update on how I'm getting on:

* Thanks to one of my neighbours in our block of flats we now have a compost bin in the garden, so I'm working hard to reduce the amount of leftovers and kitchen scraps we throw away (hubby not doing so well, keeps having to fish teabags out of the bin having forgotten they can go in the compost pot!) As a result, I can now sign up to the 'Compost Your Leftovers' action on Generous
* Undeterred by the lack of garden space, we are growing our own veg! We've got onions in planters outside, little baby chilli plants in the kitchen and a tub of salad leaves on our landing. Also, in conjunction with our neighbour, we have planted out some potatoes - but perhaps not at the right time of year ...
* As a bit of a crafty challenge and a statement on the wasteful use of plastic carriers, I am knitting a bag out of cut-up plastic bags! This has taken me since December and I'm only just getting close to finishing, I'll post the end result when I get there!
* I'm doing Race for Life again this weekend, although I've not raised as much as last year, couldn't set up a website because I was registered by Mum's friend who forgot I was married so registered me under the wrong name! While I'm there I'm also donating some clothes so they can sell them on and get a bit more cash out of me. Two items of clothing are in fact from charity shops themselves, but alas I can no longer fit my voluminous bottom into them so I'll give them a home with someone who can resist their desire for cake!
* As well as giving old clothes to charity, I'm putting something that's too battered to pass on to good use. It's a cotton knitted sweater I bought as a student but the polo neck ripped along the seam, so I'm in the process of frogging it to re-use the yarn. Clever eh? May post a bit more about that later on too.
* We're making a more conscious effort to buy local produce when shopping, although it's not easy. I know not everything is in season over here, but really is there any need for apples to be brought over from Chile? I don't think so! We're trying to buy British (or at least European) produce where we can.

I'm really pleased also that some people have noticed that I'm trying to live more ethically. A friend of mine said the other day that she's trying not to shop at Primark any more since I mentioned their use of sweatshops, and when I left work I was given a box of Fairtrade chocolates wrapped in recycled, handmade paper! So either I'm a big hippie-bore or I'm inspiring people - hope it's the latter!

12 May 2008

This Week I will mostly be ...

... working (I hope - nothing in for temp work yet :S)
... finishing 'The Brothers Karamazov' at long last
... watching 'The Motorcycle Diaries' and probably a bit of daytime TV
... knitting a carrier bag still
... enjoying the warm weather
... resting my ankle so it's ready for 'Race for Life' on Sunday (having hurt it on my dummy run that ended up much longer than the actual race by virtue of getting lost)
... blogging more (if I don't find work that is!)

08 May 2008


Sorry for the lack of posts, been unusually busy doing not a lot recently, but I leave my job tomorrow so may get a bit more time. Yay!