Still, here I am again - eventually!
Did everyone have a good Christmas? Was Santa kind? Richard and I had a splendid, very quiet time. Christmas always begins for me with the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols on Radio 3 on Christmas Eve afternoon, although this year I felt there were too many unknown pieces that showed off the choir without really adding to the atmosphere. Everything sounded amazing, though.
We both had lots of small presents (books, gadgets, board games etc), which we prefer to large presents. The whole family is the same. Richard cooked a chicken, which was delicious (he's a very good cook).
Mum was staying with my sister for Christmas, so they visited on Boxing Day, which was like a second Christmas, swapping more presents! I ended up with five books (including Knit One, Haiku Too), four boxes of chocolates, some beautiful stationery, 3 bookmarks, some purple knitting needles and a stuffed bookworm (that is a seriously weird company :) ). Oh, and my kitchen lino, from Mum, my sister and my brother!
Richard excelled himself, with a stainless steel kitchen bin (mine is matt, not polished, though). I've wanted one for ages, but it's not the kind of thing you treat yourself to - well, I don't, anyway! He also got me a wondrous gadget called a Mood Beam. I've long been coveting the eggs Richard has which change colour, but my Mood Beam is even better - it has several modes, including following the beat of music. Mine is called Chipper (scroll down - he's at the bottom of the page).
I've been pretty productive over Christmas, too, producing a jumper for Knit Today with very few hiccups. The only one that really set me back was finishing the neckline, when I decided that I would do it on 3.75mm dpns instead of the 4mm needles I had been using throughout. One nasty, buckled, too-tight neckline later and I realised my error - I had to unpick the whole thing. Serves me right for not doing it the way I know will work!
I'm briefly between commissions now, so I'm trying out the new Purple Pins. I love making my own socks, because I can contour them to fit both my swollen legs and my perennially problematic short, wide feet with high insteps. Mum used to have such a fight on her hands to find me school shoes that fitted me! Even though the socks end up really wide (90sts on 2.5mm needles), they're fairly short, as I can't tolerate anything fitting too high up around my legs. I only work 3 inches, including the ribbing, before I work the heel. This means I can get a pair of socks, plus enough left over for something like an iPod cosy, from 100g of Opal yarn.
I'm using the Rainforest Tiger, and doing what Lucy Neatby suggests with the black stitches. If you have black working yarn and black stitches on your LH needle, then you purl them. The rest of the time, every stitch is knitted. This gives a raised section of black stitches which is very effective.
I used another of Lucy's design elements, which is the garter-stitch 'ribbing' from her Mermaid socks. Essentially you knit a strip of garter stitch (mine is 12 sts wide) until it will wrap around your leg, then join it and pick up your working stitches around one edge. This gives a soft, flexible fabric around the top of the sock, as well as ensuring you cast on the right number of stitches!
I'm also using a star toe which was featured in a recent SlipKnot, the journal of the Knitting and Crochet Guild. It looks more effective in a plain yarn, where you can see the points of the star more clearly, but it's still OK in printed yarn.
I have to say that I am happier with the second sock than with the first - the colour changes seem to be much more close together, whereas the first sock has big blocks of colour which I don't like as much. I'll get the Beamish Boy to photograph them when they're finished, and you can see what I mean.
Tigger is doing well - although, as it turns out, it's probably not asthma after all, as he didn't respond to the steroids. The vet then suggested lungworm treatment, which he said was a liquid we could mix into his food. Hah!
He had to have half a teaspoonful of what looked like PVA glue, and apparently tasted disgusting. We tried disguising it in moist food, yoghurt, beef paste. We tried bundling him up in a towel and squirting it down his throat. Nothing worked.
We ended up smearing it onto his fur so that he had to lick it off, and even then he sometimes managed to wipe it all over the furniture. Not a good time!
He seems perfectly happy and energetic still, with bright eyes and shiny fur, so the next thing the vet's doing is - nothing. He says that there are other treatments we can try if Tig gets worse, but that they all have side effects, and would damage his quality of life. In the mean time, he is still rushing round like an idiot, ambushing everyone who comes in and demanding a cuddle, and watching every mouthful I eat because he is a Starving Kitten and Never Gets Fed....
Tigger says, "I have to make do with the crumbs from their table, you know. And I don't even like raspberry."