And the winning ticket is……

….mine.  Again!

Mafana Bag

I won this gorgeous bag in my Knitting Group’s raffle this month.  Last month, two of the friends I sit with won raffle prizes of yarn, the month before I won a pretty little tin that I now keep stitch markers in.  I’ve won yarn at least 4 times that I can think of off the top of my head and I’ve actually won a prize more times than I haven’t in the year or so I’ve been going to the group.  In fact, one month, I was so embarrassed to have my ticket called for what would have been the 3rd or 4th month running, that I told the organiser to pull another ticket out instead!  I have always maintained that I never win anything!  Whenever I’ve been anywhere where Bingo, raffles, bus-stops etc. have been played, I just used to pay my money and know that I wouldn’t see a return on it.  I never win anything on my weekly lottery ticket either.  So quite why my winning streak is so prolific for this particular raffle I have no idea.  The bag, by the way is a Mafana bag.  These are handcrafted in Madagascar and you can read about them on their website.   It’s a fabulous bag, absolutely loads of room inside, I have three WIPs in there, all cardigans and still room for extra balls of yarn, patterns and notions.  It could be used for all sorts really, it would make a great beach bag for those of you so inclined!

In other knitting news, I have 3 main projects on the needles at the moment and I think I really need to stick to one of them and get it finished rather than picking up something different each day and getting nowhere fast!

I’m knitting this lovely jumper out of Patons Jet in a really pretty pale green.

Lace Trim Jumper

I finished the back over a week ago and cast on the front immediately.  It’s knitting up quickly and I adore knitting with the Jet.  I did short row shaping for the shoulders, the first time I have tried that and it turned out well I think.  I’ll do the same for the front obviously and then join the shoulders using the three needle cast-off that we learned in the Finishing Techniques class we took at Poppy’s in York.  I was getting on well with it but then my attention was distracted by my February Lady Sweater (Rav link).  I noticed on the Ravelry Group for the project that some people were having a KAL started in January.  As I was undecided about how I was doing and whether I wanted to continue with this project, I thought I would join in the KAL and therefore get motivation,  help and advice from other knitters along the way.  I’m almost up to starting the lace pattern now and I can’t say its been an enjoyable knit so far but I think now that I can see past the endless garter stitch yoke, the rest may knit up a bit quicker.  The third main project I have OTN is my Hampton cardigan

Hampton cardigan

from a book my son got me for Christmas, New England Knits.  I love almost everything in this book but decided to start on this cardigan because the yarn I’m knitting it in, Patons Caressa DK in beige mix, screamed at me everytime I passed it on the shelf that this was the project it wanted to be.  To non-knitters that probably sounds ridiculous but all knitters will understand exactly what I mean by that statement.  Sometimes a yarn just tells you what to knit with it, sometimes you start a project with what you think is the perfect yarn and so far into the knitting, it’s telling you that it most certainly does not see itself knitted up into this object!  When that happens, there is nothing for it but to frog it  and put it away until it decides what it wants to be :-).   Anyway, Hampton (Rav link).  This is knitted all in one piece from the bottom back, over the shoulders with stitches cast on for the sleeves, and then continuing knitting down the fronts.  All was going well until I cast on the sleeve stitches.  I then lost track of the lace pattern.  I mean to say, it’s only 4 rows and 9 stitches so it’s hardly like rocket science to either remember it or to trace where you are in it but I just have a brain fart everytime I try.  I’ve now frogged the sleeve cast on (and resulting two rows) three times.  Needless to say, it has been in the naughty corner for a couple of weeks now until I can psyche myself up to having another go at it.  This weekend might be that time.  It is a gorgeous pattern and the fault lies completely with me and not how the pattern is written I must add, so for anyone else considering it, please don’t let my complete inability to count to 9 put you off!

Things that can cheer me up

Number one.   The first sign of Spring

Bulbs are peeking through

Soon these will be pretty Hyacinths with a gorgeous scent, right outside my front door to greet me each time I go into or come out of the house.  I do love these next few weeks every year, I get a ridiculous feeling of joy each time I notice more plants waking up out of their winter slumber.  The snowdrops are of course already out, they don’t count in a way because it really does still feel like winter when they are braving the elements.  It’s the Crocuses, Daffodils, Hyacinths etc that do it for me.  That feeling that Spring is on its way.

Writing this post has reminded me, it’s almost a year since I began this blog.  For me, it’s quite interesting to read back over and remember little things that are really so insignificant that I would have never remembered them otherwise, as well as the bigger events, the details of which are soon forgotten if not written down.  I’m glad I managed to blog a little bit about Shaggy over the past year, I just wish I had started this years ago when he was younger, more energetic and very amusing at times.   The main reason for starting this thing really was so that I could look back and remember, kind of an online journal.  The fact that sometimes other people read it and are interested/entertained/whatever by my musings is an added bonus…. I haven’t done very well with the post-a-week challenge recently though have I?

I’ll try to get some photos over the weekend to update on my knitting progress.

What a difference a week makes.

Sadly,  just as I thought Shaggy was improving, he took a real turn for the worse and we have unfortunately lost him today.  He’d been up and down all week really but over the weekend he deteriorated to the point where he was having seizures and collapsing and losing control of his bladder.  He was struggling to breathe and we had to make that decision that all pet owners fear and dread.  We stayed with him whilst he went to sleep and although we are all heart-broken and will miss him terribly, we know we made the right choice.  I thought I would dedicate this week’s post to Shaggy, in pictures, when he was in his prime. 

Looking good Shaggy
At Robin Hoods Bay
At Robin Hood's Bay with Mason & me
A Life on the Ocean Wave!
Shaggy paddling
Having a good shake after all that paddling!

Run free at the Rainbow Bridge Shaggy.

Is it finished yet?

My Red ‘jeans Cardigan that is.  The short answer is NO.  The longer version involves descriptions of flu-like symptoms, snotty nose, hacking cough, being off work sick and generally not having the energy to do much in the way of knitting.  Actually, the knitting bit is finished, I need to sew in the ends, get a button and then I’ll be wearing it.  On the whole I have enjoyed knitting it as much as I did the last one but it has got a bit tiresome towards the end and I’m looking forward to starting something new. 

Last Saturday, amidst the aforementioned flu-like symptoms, I took Michael back to Uni in York.  We went and did some grocery shopping first, then drove through to York in the afternoon.  On arrival, I noticed that most other students being dropped off by parents/friends/whoever, seemed to have all their belongings in only one or two bags or suitcases.  Why then did we have a car-load of belongings and shopping that would see a small third world village right for the next 3 months?  I have come to the conclusion that my son is a pack-rat.

It’s been fun and games with the dog this week…well, not really but that’s one of those odd figures of speech we use isn’t it?  Anyhow, the background is that Shaggy has been limping quite badly since before Christmas and I had been to the vets with him who said she thought he might have arthritis and gave him some medication which seems to have eased it a bit.  Whilst Michael was home, Shaggy spent most of his time upstairs and apparently forgot to eat (the Vet thinks he may have Altzheimers too – more on that in another post I think!).  I hadn’t really seen much of him, being up in Michael’s room as he was, so was quite shocked to see him looking even thinner than before and seeming very frail.  He wouldn’t eat his normal dry food, so it was off to Pets at Home to buy special ‘Senior’ food, wet stuff in pouches that is easier to digest apparently.  You’ll be happy to hear that he is now eating again…quite enthusiastically as it happens.  My purse however is not so happy as this other food is quite a bit more expensive than Bakers Complete!  Together with the regular cost of the medicines that he will need to take for the rest of his life, he’s turning into a bit of an expense.   What can you do though?  We love him, which is just as well because he has been a real pest this week.

Here he is asleep, with his tongue sticking out as he does nowadays.  He does look funny when he wakes suddenly and looks up with his tongue poking out at us.

I might look asleep, but just look at the tongue out in concentration, the ear pricked up alert to potential intruders.

Post-a-week 2011 Challenge.

I’ve decided that I’m going to take part in Dailypost’s  postaweek2011 challenge and blog every week during 2011.  Sometimes it may be difficult to think of what to say but I’ll use the resources on the dailypost site for inspiration if necessary.  Sometimes I may have so much to tell you that I post more than once in a week (I doubt that though as I’m not the world’s most prolific blogger!)

I hope anyone who reads my posts will encourage me along the way with some comments.

So, here it is, the first of my regular weekly posts just to get me started.

First up – my new shoes.  These arrived at work in today’s post from Hottershoes.  The brown ones are Navajo in Tan combi and the boots are Verdi in Black Croc.  I already have a pair of these in brown croc and I can walk miles in them, they fit like gloves.

Seriously, Hotter do the comfiest shoes in the whole world.  I’ve never been a shoe fanatic because I can’t wear fashion shoes with high heels, they just hurt me too much.  Comfy shoes are not usually anything to get excited about so in the past, I have tended to get a pair and keep them till they’re falling apart and then I have to buy more.  Since discovering Hotter, I now love shoes.  They’re not high fashion, high heels but then again that’s not really me anyhow.  They are however good quality and stylish and most important of all, I feel good in them and that makes them worth every penny in my eyes.