Take a Tour…..

….. of our new living room.

Sadly, I have no before shots, but imagine this: a tiny dark room, with an L-shaped bite out of it, where there was an inside porch by the front door. A dirty orange carpet, an orange pine fireplace, grubby white walls. Yuck. Now it looks like this:

(cushions all from Etsy, sofa from DFS – half price!)

(my knitting corner, which me and Tony are fighting over already)

(the corner by the front door is where the porch was originally)

(I can’t tell you what trouble we had getting all the books in! I had to get rid of quite a lot, sigh)

It feels so bright and spacious in here now, it’s a joy to work in (I do a lot of my Posh work in here, on the laptop, by the woodstove. Wouldn’t you?!?). Although I am a leetle bit paranoid about the cream carpet, what with Tony (who tends to spill), the three cats, and the wood stove.

No sooner has the dust settled from this project than we’re planning the next. Our plan, which we want to do over the Christmas break, is to knock through the two upstairs bedrooms (both absolutely tiny) into one big room. Then we can move our bedroom upstairs, and use the downstairs bedroom as a yarn store/office. The house will be much more practical and pleasant then. I can’t wait until it’s all done!  

The Eye of Faith

I saw a little plaque outside someone’s house yesterday. It read, “A garden is made with love and patience.” I like that. Even though that particular garden would have needed more than love and patience to make it pretty, since it was an overgrown square of weeds with plenty of rubbish scattered around. (I can only assume the plaque had been left there by a previous tenant, or perhaps it was a gentle hint from a friend?)

Anyway. I thought it was a good motto to adopt for our garden. I’m not the most patient of people, but you can’t be impatient with a garden, there are no real quick fixes. I think gardening also needs another quality – faith. One wise man once described faith as “the assured expectation of things hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities though not beheld.” When I look out of my window now, I see a messy piece of ground, half dug over, half under straggly grass. But I don’t really see that at all, because I’m looking at it with the eye of faith. I see vegetable beds overflowing with goodies, a luscious herb garden scenting the air, beds stuffed full of gorgeous flowers, fruit trees bending low under the weight of their fruits, a rustic pergola dripping with wisteria blossoms, under which we sit and enjoy a pre-dinner drink.

Of course, that’s all a long way away, and there’s lots of digging and planting and waiting before that will be a reality. Luckily, when you have the eye of faith, you don’t mind how much hard work you put into something, because that end result is firmly fixed in your mind’s eye.  

Steal An Extra Hour

There are very few of us who have as much time as we would like to spend knitting. Most of us have to juggle the demands of each day – house, family, work, friends – and have little time (or energy) left over for me-time.  That’s why you need to learn how to steal time. Borrowing time is no good – if you take half an hour to knit when you should be ironing, that just means that you’ll have to pay that half hour back, when you could be knitting. But if you steal an hour, and you’re a good time thief, you will still get everything done, and have extra time to spend on knitting.

Here are some examples of where I’ve managed to steal time, to have more time with the needles:

  • Audio books. Yes, I’ve plugged them before, but really, the value of a good audio book can’t be overrated. I used to spend a lot of time each day reading. Now I spend very little, maybe half an hour before bed, but I still enjoy books, just in audio form.
  • Housework takes up so much time, and if you’re like me, you resent every minute of it. Unlike Quentin Crisp, I can’t turn a blind eye to mess, so I’ve invested in a cleaner instead. (NB. For this to work, you have to be very strict with yourself, and not clean up before your cleaner arrives, because you’re worrying what she’ll think of you otherwise.)
  • Laundry is another time sucker, and is an unavoidable task. But our local laundromat does a service wash (where you drop off bags of laundry, they wash, dry, and fold them, and you pick them up) for a pretty reasonable cost. This one feels a bit decadent, and I haven’t quite persuaded myself into it yet, but it’s worth thinking about, especially if you work fulltime.
  • Do you spend a lot of time on the phone? I hate using the phone, but I do spend quite a lot of time talking to my mother on the phone each week. Speakerphone enables me to talk and knit at the same time. I do a lot of my knitting this way!
  • If you’re like me and you read lots of blogs, you might want to  consider using a blog reader, such as Bloglines. This only downloads the updated posts of each blog, so it doesn’t take so long to download. You won’t save lots of time, but hey, every little helps!   
  • If you find you can’t knit and watch tv at the same time, have a think about how much time you waste watching tv (by that, I mean, watching it just because it’s on, and not because it’s a show you want to see). Consider giving up tv altogether, and just watching your favourite shows/movies on DVD. We did this years ago, and haven’t looked back.
  • If you live in an area where you can do your grocery shopping online, give it a go. I do my weekly shopping this way, and it’s fantastic (and totally stress free!). The website remembers what I’ve bought each week, so I can do a week’s shopping in less than ten minutes. You find you spend less too, as you don’t get distracted by impulse buys.
  • Most banks offer an internet banking service now, and I find it invaluable. If you set up your bills to be paid by direct debit, and your wages go directly into the bank, all you have to do is check your balance now and then, and everything else is done for you. Just think of how much time you’ve spent standing in bank queues over the years!

 My apologies if some of these suggestions seem obvious – they’re just ways that I’ve been able to streamline my schedule, and may help someone. If you have found ways to steal time to spend on knitting, do tell!

PS. If only I spent all this extra time knitting, instead of spending it on Ravelry, gossiping and ogling everyone’s projects…..

Mr P…….

Well, as requested, here are some pictures of the new workshop. I wish I could do it justice, but you’d have to see it to really appreciate it. But before I show you the photos, allow me to tell you what a Renaissance man Mr P is. When dyeing, he explores his creative, artistic side. When building, he uses his caveman, testosterone-y side. What more can you ask for? He’s a master recycler, and virtually everything in the workshop is made from reclaimed materials. The whole thing was his baby – all I saw was a tumbledown shack, but he had enough vision to see past that, to what it could be, and the reality is already paying for all that hard work. So, here it is before:

The building looked like one long building from the outside, but inside it was divided into three sections with thick stone walls. These walls were knocked down and removed (2 ton of stone). The front wall was then built up, and the roof was raised, because you couldn’t stand up in most of the shed before. The floor was partially dug out and re-concreted. Now it looks like this:

We have leaned more towards function than beauty, but even so, it’s beautiful to us, because it’s our first custom built dye space. There is still more work to do to complete it, but that’s mainly aesthectic work, like tiling (eventually we would like to have the tiles from floor to ceiling, for ease of cleaning).

Snippets……………

Finally, finally, FINALLY the workshop is finished. I can’t even begin to tell you what a tremendous achievement this is. Originally it was just a shed that had been pig sties, with huge thick stone walls dividing it into compartments. Now, after weeks of backbreaking work by Mr P and his brother, it is a smart long workshop, with tiled walls, custom built work areas, a first class steaming oven, and even a drying area complete with heater.

Finally, I have my kitchen back (now if I can just reclaim the garden, which has been a building site for these past weeks, life will be complete). Mr P worked in it for the first time yesterday, and he loves it so much that I think if I popped a futon in there he would even sleep in it. The post-dye clean-up took minutes instead of hours. The new steam oven worked superbly, which is a huge relief because we’ve been having some issues with dye not exhausting recently, but no more! Hurrah!

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I know I’m a little behind the times here, but we watched March of the Penguins last night. WOW. It was utterly awe inspiring. If you haven’t seen it yet, then I highly, highly recommend it. Those little penguins have captured my heart.

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The toe up sock is coming on beautifully. This is the first time I have knitted with Emily, and I can see why so many of you love it. I’m knitting it on 2.5mm needles, which is making a firm cushy knit, that should wear well. I’m using Ann Budd’s toe up pattern from the last Interweave Knits, and so far, so good! From the comments it would appear that toe up socks are the Marmite of the knitting world – you either love ’em or hate ’em. Marmite, I hate. Toe up socks, well so far I’m feeling the love.

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The eagle eyed among you will have spotted a new section to the website – Dye Your Own. I’m working on this right now, and hope to have it all completed in the next week. And I’m very excited about it. It’s for those of you who are itching to have a go at dyeing your own yarn, either for your own use, or as a business, as well as for hand dyers who are already established and who are looking to expand their range of yarn. We will be stocking all your favourite yarns, cashmere, cashmere/silk, cashmere/merino, in every weight from cobweb to chunky. And we will also be offering a range of premium dyes, the ones we use ourselves at Posh Yarn. We often get compliments on the intensity of our colours, and while credit goes to Mr P for his dyeing skills, it wouldn’t be possible without top quality dyes. Watch this space for more details.

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Finally a question to the coffee lovers among you. I’ve recently started brewing fresh coffee using one of these little guys, and a great cup of coffee it makes. But recently I’m finding that there is a dark bitter sludge at the bottom of my cup, which is spoiling the taste of the coffee. What am I doing wrong? I’ve tried not pouring out all the coffee from the pot, but that doesn’t seem to help.

Any ideas? I need the coffee, people.