The trials and tribulations of a life of leisure...


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Going Green

I admit it. I may have got a little carried away with Ebay.

But everything I have bought was a lot cheaper than if I had got it in a shop. And my pricing cost/ball includes postage.

And where it wasn't I found a great on-line shop to get it. For some reason people wanted to pay more for fancy sock wool on ebay than they could get it here in the sale. So I now have 2 balls of regia sudsee sock wool, one of Noro silk garden sock, a couple of balls of baby alpaca and one of extra fine merino dk.

I took it as a challenge to see how cheaply I could get some of the yarns. Since my last post on the matter I have won a few more loads...

Rowan natural aran silk yarns were originally over £5/50g ball. I found a couple of sites where I could get restricted colours at £4, and a couple where a very restricted colour range (browns/beiges) were £3 - excluding postage. My first 5 won balls (pink, cream and green) came in at £2.65/ball, the next four (dark pink which was nicer than the purply colour in the photo) at £2.54/ball but my coup d'etat was 7 balls of blue at £1.31/ball.

Another triumph was 600+ grammes of mixed mohair at 78 pence/ball.

My final bargains were some dk tweeds. I had spotted a series of badly marketed lots ending on a weekday lunchtime. Photos of two balls with tatty labels and description of merely knitting wool/yarn. They were actually selling 400-500g lots of 100% wool. I tested the water on the first lot, raising the bid by the minimum amount. And won it. I didn't like the colour of the second lot so skipped it, but tried the same tactic on the third. And won it. Someone had bid on the fourth lot and had put in a max bid. I decided it was still a good price and increased their bid. When they bid again I gave up on it, now costing almost twice as much as the first lot. But I won the fifth lot with no competition. And then I requested a combined P&P invoice and got another 2 quid off - just over 80p/ball. Still waiting for it to arrive via parcel post.

I gave up on the ten 2oz skeins of 1920's knitting silk - very hard to gauge its value. If it was in good condition it could be worth two to three times my maximum bid, if not it could be virtually worthless as far as knitting was concerned. I was outbid in the last minute, and although I still had time to fight I didn't...

Odd-balls jacket was completed last week.

But now I am on to one of my planned projects for all that I have been buying. The ultimate in odd-ball, mixed yarn designs. A Kaffe Fassett jacket. I have a couple of his books but have only ever attempted one of his designs before.

I have gone for his damask flower design applied to one of his jacket patterns, down-sized width-wise. I am using one of my new circular needles as advised as the front and back are worked in one piece and the weight will be very heavy on normal needles. Not sure how much wool it will take but I guess over a kilo even with the reduction in size.

I am half way up the second flower of the back and have already used 30 different yarns!

The photo makes it look as if the background is in mixed blues but it is actually currently using 26 different shades of green - one of the reasons I bought the mixed green oddments lot to go with the odd balls I already had.

I still have a few more I can add in.

A mix of yarns (wool, chenille, silk, mohairs and other man-made fibres) and plies combined to make an approximate chunky weight.

I need to keep track of what yarns/combination I have used, building up a list of each row as I go along, so that when I get to the front I can duplicate the background. As so many of the colours are so similar I have had to letter-label them - there are only so many ways of describing different subtle shades of green! I couldn't resist a QZ combo for one row...

They are laid out on the window sill...

The bottom flowers are the previously mentioned unpicked burgundy chenille. I decided it was a little too thick doubled so changed to one strand chenille and one strand red mohair for the upper petals of the first flowers. This worked well, so I am continuing that with a different colour mohair for each of the flower bands - currently a shocking pink.

I reckon about a month to completion...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Growing Canes

I phoned up to arrange apple tree delivery for the latter part of this week. The weather forecast was for T-shirt weather - well, double figures.

And for once it was right. None of this moving back to never actually get the promised good days.

So on Tuesday I was out getting the canes in place. Every seventy five centimetres at 45 degree angles, tied in to the railings.

No delivery yesterday so I made a start on tidying up the long bank.

And still no sign of them today.

So I finished off the long bank autumn/winter debris clearance.

And now I can really see the bulbs

and signs of spring coming...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

First Gardening Day of 2011

I may have missed out on the fruit trees at Aldi last week but today Paul spotted that Morrisons had some. Morello cherry purchased for five quid.

Time to change the fruit-tree-bed-to-be to the fruit-tree-bed.

A little concerned at how many potatoes I found in digging the hole to plant it.

Pleased to re-discover a good sturdy stake, an old stocking used as the tree tie and one of the cut sections of chicken wire as a temporary rabbit/dog defence.

Having checked in my RHS fruit and veg bible it should not be pruned until the spring, when it will be reduced to a stick and two side branches which have been identified to be eventually trained as a fan.

One fruit tree in, ten apple trees still to be delivered...

In the rest of the garden

Snowdrops and more snowdrops... The high bank is covered. My colonisation program of the long bank and LBE has proved successful - another couple of years should see them all the way along. The only disappointment is the bank at the top of the drive where only three rather sad looking small patches have appeared so far. But my stocks at the back of the sheds are thriving so I will be able to dig up and redistribute another few hundred later in the year.

The winter aconites are flowering. I now have four decent sized clumps. Maybe still some more to come up at the back of the sheds. Not sure if I have enough to split them yet.

The hellebore that I thought had died last year has reappeared...

I really need to get out there soon to clear away all the autumn and winter debris. I almost made a start today after planting the tree as it was so mild, but it is also very wet and muddy. I have, however, managed to do a couple of inspections to see what else is happening. Daffodils, tulips and crocuses poking up. New signs of life from a lot of the perennials. Pulmonarias in bud despite looking dead and yukky with all their brown rotting leaves from last year needing to be removed. Hopefully I can get stuck in next week as the weather forecast is looking optimistic.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Win Some, Win Some More

Where to start?

Berwick A played and won their third match of the season, leaping from the bottom of the second division league into fifth place with games in hand.

Ebay... Well, I have now bought :

400g grey aran (£4.40) that turned out to be fawn. I didn't mind but seller seemed a little upset when I down marked her on lot description in the feedback!
1230g assorted yarns (£10.11) - a good mix of colours, plies and textures
570g chunky/aran (£11.20) - five different colours
350g 4ply/dk mixed greens (£5.55) - included some chenille and a fancy silky yarn
300g+ mohair mix (£7.25) - pale green and a pretty pink
500g+ eyelash/feather fancy yarns (£7.20) - pinks, mauves, blues and blacks
610g small balls (£9.50) - 60 different colours
500g grey 30% wool aran (£17.55) - this was the colour on the photo!

I have started using some of it - doing one of the patterns from the Odd-Ball knitting book.

11 piece set of 60cm stainless steel circular needles (£7.00)
15 piece set of 80cm bamboo circular needles (£6.50)

I am particularly pleased with the bamboo needles having not won the previous 3 sets I bid on which were going for £8.00+. Patience paid off.

I am having great fun on ebay. The cut-and-thrust of competetive knitters. Watching the last few minutes of what you have bid on counting down. Watching the last few minutes of what you are 'watching' when there is a bidding war going on. One batch of wool leapt from £10 to £26.00 in the last two minutes...

Also I am quite interested in the fact that people overbid, obviously not researching what they are bidding on. There was one lot that I was watching that you can buy on Amazon for under £27.00 but has just sold at £31.00! I have two more lots I am currently winning on that end this afternoon and I have done my homework. Maximum bids at cheapest price found - n%, n varying depending upon how much I want it. Fingers crossed...

Finally, scrabble.

I had never done well in the Scottish Masters despite being the top seed every time I have played in it. Well, this year I lived up to my seeding. 9 wins out of 12. 12 blanks out of 24. The three games I lost were all blank-less, against Neil, Simon and finally Allan in the king-of-the-hill round when I was a game ahead and he needed to beat me by about 500 to overtake me. I had beaten Allan in the round-robin earlier in the day when he also had both the blanks.

Some nice bonuses played:
ORIGaMI, PINWEED and NONBaS(I)C against Ross
sHOWTI(M)E and PANDITS against Ricky
IN(U)NDATE and ELONGAT(E) against Stu
PALELIN(G) against Neil
POTIONs, INUNDAT(E) (again) and SCURVIES against Kate
(R)EASONER and SHERbE(R)T against Ray
PAIGLEs and OGREISM against Alan
INHERIT against Allan
zilch against Simon
Two more against Allan but can't remember what...

And another stupendous sperm count of +1221...

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Win Some, Lose Some

I had a very pleasant long weekend at the Chester scrabble tourney. I didn't quite manage to win the required 14 games to maintain my rating but 13 was good damage limitation, and as the Phenomenon would say (but I can't, being a woman) had a massive sperm count amassing a spread of +1543. I lost my third game to Beverley when I emptied the bag taking off a spot for a 7 and she spotted a great outplay of (T)ONGSTER making 4 two-letter parallel words. I also lost to David Shenkin, giving him extra spread when I made a last-ditch attempt to win and he bonused out. My third loss was to Robert Richland - I had been keeping up with him as he played off all the goodies except the Q which he kindly let me have at the end when I had just opened a second bingo line keeping a bonus-friendly rack. My final loss was to Wayne Kelly by 2 points when I couldn't play out in 2 and score enough holding ACELNNV.

I did play some very nice bonus words over the weekend including GRYPHON(S) and picking INVADE? straight after playing MELTONS opening up a 9-x with S in sixth to finish the tourney with a 200+ win against Phil Robertshaw.

We finished playing at around 10 p.m. in the evenings which allowed some very enjoyable socialising, playing other board games and a few drinks...

I thoroughly recommend this tournament - 17 games, enough time to relax, very well run and the food at the hotel was excellent. Many thanks to Kathy and Dave for making my first outing here so much fun.

Now on to some things I have won!

Paul and I played in the Bobby Allan simultaneous pairs a week ago. We knew we had done well at the Berwick bridge club, scoring 73.7%. We then had a very nervous wait whilst all the scores from the other clubs came in. Our score came down slightly as the other results came in but the result was finalised yesterday and with 71.6% we finished well ahead of second place. I did notice that the pair in sixth place appear to be impostors, Stuart and Dave, as this was a mixed pairs event!

Having got back in to knitting and chatting to Mike O'Rourke over the weekend, who I was permanently sat next to other than the one game when I played him, he mentioned a friend of his who dyes and sells her own wool. On Monday he gave me a link to her website and I went and had a look. Glorious looking wool, but then I wandered off looking at other wool. And got drawn in to ebay...

After failing on a few bids I won my first auction this morning, 400 grammes of grey aran. My next deadline is in about another hour and a half. And I have bids in on another 8 lots and watching another 13! My mountain is in danger of becoming a range. However, I did see 'The Odd-Ball Knitting Book' on there and found I could get a second hand copy with free postage from Amazon at about the same price as just the ebay postage. It arrived today and is full of great ideas, with patterns for hats, gloves, scarves, socks, cushion covers through to a rather glorious looking entralac jacket.

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