Sunday 28 February 2010


Finished:  two pairs of socks.

Toasty Toe Up Socks

These are the Buffalo Gold socks I mentioned last month.   I actually finished them on 25th January.

Very cozy and very warm.  Knitted from the toe-up.  Only thing I'd consider doing differently is that, next time, I might make the foot a little shorter, since the heel is a bit baggy.

Almost Södera Socks


Södera is a free pattern by Vilma Vuori which I found on Ravelry.  I've modified it a bit because I couldn't visualise the German heel when I read the pattern and, since I was away somewhere without free broadband, I couldn't look up other people's projects on Ravelry to see how it looked.  Also, I just did a normal cuff and not the one given in the pattern.

String:  Regia 4-ply.  100g all used up.
Sticks:  2.5mm needles.

I haven't worn these yet, so I don't know how well they will stay up.*

- Pam

* edited later to add:  They don't stay up very well.  I'll need to weave in some decent elastic.

Sit.Rep. 2010 - February

Report for January/February 2010.

Stash:  Not quite Cold Sheep.  One skein of Rowan Cocoon in the Mountain colourway purchased in January, after goal defined.  Immediately used in the Weekender beret.  Also, one skein of Buffalo Gold purchased at start of January, before goal defined.  No further skeins purchased.  Six skeins used up.

Garden:   Nine broad bean seeds potted up.  Seven sprouted so far.  Purchased:  onion sets, garlic, seed potatoes, shallot sets, chilli seeds, butternut squash seeds, runner bean seeds.  Drawn up planting calendar.  Still need to work out planting out plan.

Fitness:   No miles run.  2lb weight lost.  Training plan was to commence on 22nd Feb.  Ditto new Weight Watchers.  Delayed 1 week due to illness.

Overdraft:  £246.55 repaid.

Socks:  Two pairs completed plus half a pair (the Baudelaires) brought forward from last year. 

- Pam

Friday 26 February 2010

Frugal Friday - Write It Down

It's the end of the month and I've just done my accounts.  In budget terms, February was a success - I stayed within my "money to live off" and I paid down a bit of my overdraft.  Of course, February was a short month, which helped, and I was sick for the last week but, with the exception of a £30 tank of diesel, I wouldn't have spent much more money anyway.

One of the biggest "secrets" of my success/failure at money management is what I've done today - worked out my accounts for the next month.  It's no coincidence that whenever I've landed myself deeply in debt, I'd already lost track of what I was spending.   As the Frugal Zealot said in last week's video, the key is to write it down.

This is how I manage my personal money:  I keep two records, a bank "account" and my "Money to Live Off". I use these pages from Filofax to keep my bank "account".  It's a type of cash book.  (Click to have a better look.)

At the end of each month, on pay day, I write down my salary in the "+" column and then list every single item I can think of: in the "-" column, deducting as I go from a running balance in the "=" column:  transfers to savings; the transfer to our joint cheque account (from where the real bills are paid);  regular investments; my "petrol accrual"; and my "Money to Live Off".  At the end of the process, the balance I have written down in my account should equal my real bank balance on the day before pay day at the end of the next month.  

As you can see, if you click on the image, there are a couple of extra columns to the left of the "-" column.  That's where I record my Petrol Accrual  and the cash I take out of the bank for my Money to Live Off.  When the time comes to take actual cash out of the bank, I record it in both the "+" and "-" columns and deduct it from the Money to Live Off column (or the Petrol Accrual column).  In effect, I've added that, say, £40 back to my bank balance and then withdrawn it out of the bank, leaving the eventual bank balance unchanged. 

I know I've talked about my Money to Live Off before, but here how it works.  It's my allowance. In a notebook, I write down every single payment I make out of that allowance, and I keep going until  the money runs out.  It looks a bit like this:


(Typed up so that you don't have to suffer my dreadful handwriting.)

If I have £5 left in my wallet at the end of the previous month, then I'll add it to the total, so the month will start with £205 instead of £200.  It doesn't matter what I spend the money on, just so long as I know how much I have left and don't go over the budget.

I know I'm a bit of a Luddite, keeping both my main money records on paper, but I find it helps  me to be able to look at them and amend them at any time, not just when I'm at the computer.  And it gives me some positive reinforcement that I've £x left over or I've managed to save £y or whatever.  When I don't keep these records I get into trouble, spending more than I can afford and going overdrawn at the bank, so this system works for me.

- Pam

Finished. One Olympic Project

Here is my finished Knitting Olympics Project, my first ever baby surprise jacket.


Back view:
(Oh, how I wish I'd seen a shot of the back view when I was half way through.  It might have made sense sooner.)
And a close up of the teddy bear buttons.  Aren't they cute?


Pattern:  Baby Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth Zimmerman, as published in The Opinionated Knitter
Size:  Approximately the 1 year size.
YarnsPlymouth Encore in acqua and Sirdar Snuggly Chunky in white.    Approximately 200g.
Needles:  4.5mm.

The Encore is a worsted/aran weight yarn, whereas the Snuggly is definitely a chunky. If you look more closely at the white stripes, you'll see they're a bit uneven because I used the needle size to achieve the correct gauge with the Encore, whereas the Snuggly would need smaller needles.  So the white puckers a little.   However, I couldn't have finished the BSJ without it because there wasn't sufficient quantities of any other suitable yarn in the stash to make the BSJ.

- Pam

Thursday 25 February 2010

Almost there

Except for blocking, I've completed my Olympic Knitting Project.


Looks a bit like a dog's dinner, doesn't it?  When I'd cast off, I threw it at DH and  asked him to fit it together.  He turned it over a few times and threw it back at me.  Two quick twists and it looked like a jacket.

- Pam

Wednesday 24 February 2010

An Economist Is:-

An economist is a man who states the obvious in terms of the incomprehensible...

Ask 5 economists a simple question and you'll get 5 different answers - 7 if one went to Harvard.

Economist (defined): a person who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn't happen today.

Economists have predicted nine out of the last five recessions.

- Pam

Monday 22 February 2010

Monday ramblings

I'm sick.  Again.  This time, it's laryngitis.  (Oh, great.  I have a concert in two weeks.  Fanshawe's African Sanctus.)  No cold symptoms, just a sore throat that started on Friday.  Thank heaven for sick leave - I've taken today off (croaked out a message on my boss' voice-mail this morning).  May or may not go in tomorrow.

I'm more worried about the approaching concert than missing work.  We've only got 4 rehearsals to go, so I really need to attend tonight. But I shouldn't go, since I don't want to pass this onto someone-else and I can't sing a note at present.  However, I feel a bit guilty missing another rehearsal (we are only allowed to miss two rehearsals per concert and this is my second).   At least I've sung the African Sanctus before.

In the meantime, I've almost finished the Baby Surprise Jacket.  Since I've never seen one in the flesh, it required a small leap of faith to follow instructions when I couldn't visualise the results.  It's such a puzzle figuring out which seam goes where. But now that I've only got a dozen rows to go, I can finally see how it fits together.  It's amazing.  I'll photograph it when it's off the needles (before assembly) and you'll see what I mean.

On the garden front, I've just  placed my orders for this year's vegetables:  seed potatoes, onion sets, shallot sets, garlic bulbs, tomato seeds, jalapeno seeds, runner beans, and butternut squash seeds.  I have some seeds leftover from last year, which I'm going to try before buying replacements:  broad beans, sweetcorn, courgettes/zucchini, pak choi, bell peppers and broccoli.  The broad beans are already in their starter pots - I planted them two weeks ago and six out of the 9 have emerged.  Maybe, this year, I can grow a "Victory Garden".

- Pam

Friday 19 February 2010

Frugal Friday - what's the point?

A few weeks ago, I watched this interview with the Frugal Zealot, Amy Dacyzyn.  In it, Amy makes a  really relevant point:  that the point of frugality is to live well on a low budget, not to be cheap for the sake of it.  I think Amy actually says it's to "live like a millionaire but not to spend like one".

It seems that everywhere I look these days are articles about "the death of the New Frugality" or "Frugal fatigue", where the writers moan about being fed up with cheap food, cheap clothes, not having a social life, etc.  To me they've missed the point - I'm with Amy.  You can have good food, good clothes, a wild social life but you have to work out ways to balance that so that you stay within your budget. It's all about what is more important to you - an extra lipstick, when you have a dozen at home, or saving for a car/holiday/house?  And yet, so many people focus on feeling deprived of that lipstick, instead of feeling rich that they don't need another one.

Anyway, watch the video and tell me what you think.

Wednesday 17 February 2010

Decision time

While I was waiting for the Network to talk to me today, I finally worked out what my Knitting Olympics project will be.  I'm going to knit a Baby Surprise Jacket (Rav link), as designed by the legendary Elizabeth Zimmerman.

Unlike the other patterns I considered, it will be a challenge - the construction is rather singular - but a quick browse of Ravelry tells me that completion is achievable in the shortened timescale I have available.  (I won't be able to cast on until Friday, almost a week into the Olympics.)  Also, it looks great striped, which will fit in with my plan to only use stash yarns.  And, best yet, I don't have to buy the pattern - I have a copy of The Opinionated Knitter, the book in which it is published.

I wish I was at home so that I could cast on now!  Hopefully the book will be easily accessible.

- Pam  (all eager now!)

Today's prayer

"Lord, in order to give me strength to get through the day, keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth"

Today was a stressful day, so when I read the above on a post by Tconi, I thought "yes, please!".  The network is out to get me.  I'm at Site so expect it to take longer to save or open files, but 5 minutes to open a file on my C: drive(!) is ridiculous.  It was taking 10 minutes or  longer to save that file when I was accessing the copy on the server.  Still, I managed to complete some very important and time critical tasks today.  Yay!

The BIG Boss is staying at my hotel tonight.  I don't like him and don't enjoy my encounters with him.  Fortunately, I'm going out to dinner with some colleagues tonight to celebrate someone's birthday.  (We're going for a curry in Cleethorpes.)  Much to the disappointment of my Project Director (who I like and who is also staying here), who will be entertaining the Boss without reinforcements.

- Pam

Sunday 14 February 2010

How did I get into this?

In a fit of madness, I signed up for the Knitting Olympics over at the Yarn Harlot's site.  I'm going to make a cardigan/matinee jacket for a friend's baby (due April, but I know he's a boy).

Problem:  I haven't a clue what I'll be making, only that it has to be either DK or Chunky weight and probably involve RYC Cashsoft Baby DK.  Since it's already Sunday and I haven't started, I think my main Olympic challenge will just be getting it finished in time for the closing ceremony!  Oh, and it'll probably be crocheted because of the time constraints, availability of patterns in my house, etc.

It's day 3 of 17.

- Pam (I must be mad!)

Tuesday 9 February 2010

Fit for purpose

Remember the Beaudelaire socks I finished last month? The ones that I knitted from UK Alpaca's Alpaca Sock Yarn? Well, I wore them to work today.   It was freezing this morning and my office is never warm (no insulation in the walls).  And it snowed yesterday.

I have to report that they are a great success!  For the first time in what feels like forever I had warm feet all day and I didn't have to wear boots in order to wear warm socks. One of the reasons I bought the yarn was that it is dark enough to be inconspicuous under a suit; the other reason was the Alpaca warmth factor.  The yarn feels soft and silky, with no itch. 

If it wasn't for my "No stash enhancement" goal for 2010, I'd definitely purchase some more of this yarn.  As it is, it will be top of my present wish-list (gift yarns do not apply).  Roll on 2011 - I want some more!

- Pam

Monday 8 February 2010

I had a colb

I've got a code -- a code --
   A bost udpleased code;
I caddod sig a sog of sprig,
   I caddod bake ad ode.
For inspirashud will nod cub:
   I'be feelig very blue;
Oh, would that I was -- 
   Ah --
      Ah --
         Ah -- h --
               Kish -- SHOO-O-O!!
(extract from K'shoo by C J Dennis (1876-1938)

Hello, did you miss me?  I was out of Blogland for a while due to a combination of things -  a head cold (a classic "URTI" [upper respiratory tract infection]),and  the games convention "Conception".

This year's convention was pretty much like last year's but I forgot to re-read the list of things to bring along, so, yet again, no garlic crusher.  Must also remember tinfoil next time.


Learned  the hard way that beer/alcohol and some cold medications don't mix.  In a vain attempt to stop my nose running/sneezing, I doped myself up on "cold and flu" tablets as well as using one of those nasal sprays.  I felt fine until after the second or third half of bitter when I returned from the bar to find DH occupying warming my seat.  He offered to stand and I said "No, it's fine.  I'll stand up for a while".  Two minutes later, my head was swimming and I felt like I was going to faint.

I didn't make it to the end of the quiz that night.  And I didn't touch another drop of alcohol until Friday evening, when I'd stopped taking the meds.


Best quote of the convention:

Middle-aged gamer complaining to his friend:  “Why do I get the option of “adult entertainment” when all I want to watch is sport? Why can’t I have sport?”


Best t-shirt slogan:-


sold by Pagan Angel.   Yes, I bought one.

Convention Knitting:

As usual, I knitted my way though the convention.  I finished my first project before I played in my first game:

Pattern: Weekender Beret by Woolly Wormhead, from the latest issue of Yarn Forward magazine.
Yarn:  1 skein of Rowan Cocoon, in the Mountain colourway.  A lovely, silky soft yarn to knit with.
Sticks:  6mm circulars.
Next time:   I don't think I got gauge.  This is certainly less slouchy than the one in the magazine photos, but I may also have not made the main section deep enough (I was so eager to cast off and wear this).  Or maybe I made the wrong size, since my head measurement came half way between the medium and the large.

My second project is a pair of Sodera socks, designed by Vilma Vuori.  (The pattern is available as a free, Ravelry download, here).  I don't have any photos yet, although I have finally finished the first sock, nearly a week after the end of the convention. 

Main things to note are that, in my cold-cure addled brain, I couldn't visualise how the instructions for the "plain German heel" would work, so applied Knot Another Hat's  toe-up sock formula for the heel instead.   Now, of course, the instructions make perfect sense.


DH passed another birthday while we were at Conception.  Here he is modelling his birthday present from me:

And a better shot of the hat:

Pattern:  Montreal Tuque by Veronik Avery.  From her Knitting Classic Style.
Yarn:  Wensleydale Longwool Sheepshop's DK.  Used less than 1 ball.
Needles:  3.5mm circular using magic loop.


I think that's all for now.

- Pam