Monday, 28 January 2008

Manchester

On Saturday I went up to Manchester on the train. I lived in Manchester from September 2000 to June 2003, while I was at university there (at the much-missed UMIST), and I hadn't been back since. I went mainly to have lunch with the ladies that I lived with in my second and third years, but I got there a couple of hours early and was able to spend some time walking around the old UMIST campus (now part of the University of Manchester grumble grumble but I'll save my rant for another day).


UMIST Main Building, Lambert & Fairfield Hall to the right

And it was really strange. I went out of Manchester Picadilly station by the Fairfield Street entrance, crossed the road and went down Back Acton Street, turned the corner of Lambert Hall and it was almost shockingly familiar. The Main Building on my right, the viaduct to my left, the red paperclip-esque statue in front of me. I walked across and down the steps under the viaduct (past Archimedes, who is sadly missing his nose), then down the Y-shaped staircase, across the quad and over to the MSS building at the back. And it really felt like I was last there the day before, or the month before at most. Except for all the University of Manchester signs, and the Barnes-Wallis building was now apparently the arnes-Wallis building, it was all exactly the same.


MSS building, which contained the Department of Computation and hence the computer labs

Next I wanted to go into the city centre so I walked back along Sackville Street and Whitworth Street, and then I managed to get a bit lost because they'd built some new huge buildings in my way (how dare they). I knew the right direction though so I kept going and came back out on Picadilly.


UMIST Main Building from Whitworth Street

It sounds silly when I hadn't been back in nearly five years, but I miss UMIST for not being there any more. When I was choosing a university, I chose UMIST based on two characteristics that don't exist since it merged with the University of Manchester - one, it had a self-contained campus in the middle of the city, and two, because it only did science and engineering subjects, computing had a high status within the university. UCL kept their computer labs in the basement; at Bath, the student tour guide didn't even know where they were. At UMIST we had our own skyscraper. Actually, it looks like I am going to have that rant, sorry. You know what else annoys me? When they did the merger (2004, a year after I left), they kept saying that the Victoria University of Manchester was merging with UMIST to form the University of Manchester. Except NO ONE called it the Victoria University - it was just the University. So UMIST has disappeared. And last year when they were deciding which buildings to sell off, surprise, they were all old UMIST buildings.

I know it sounds stupid to be so cross when I don't even go there any more and I live on the other side of the country. But UMIST was special. There was no other university in the country like it. I feel so privileged that I had the chance to study Computing Science (yes, and it's ComputING not ComputER - and it was the first course of its kind in the country) at a university where the Student Union had a computer room just for network games, and a computer shop in addition to the newsagents. And where the Department of Computation was the biggest department in the university, and the first computing department in the country. And it was all completely, unashamedly geeky, and we liked it that way.

Well done if you read all that. =) I think I needed to get it off my chest.

Anyway. After UMIST I went into the city centre. I had a look round Affleck's Palace, and then went into the back of the Arndale Centre and got lost because I ended up in the new bit. A month or two before I left Manchester in 2003, they started clearing out part of the Arndale in order to rebuild it and add a new bit, and that's where I found myself. It was all very clean and shiny and new and could have been anywhere in the country, really. I did manage to find my way back to Market Street though so I could meet up with my friends. We went over to Chinatown and had lunch at a Thai buffet place, which was very good, then we sat in Pret a Manger on Picadilly Gardens and chatted until it was time for me to go and catch my train home. It was so lovely to see everyone again, it had been far too long!

Also, I'd like to thank Virgin Trains, for running clean trains, reasonably priced and on time. First Capital Connect please pay attention, they can usually only manage one out of three and sometimes not even that. And I did have a really lovely day out, despite all the ranting!

Friday, 25 January 2008

The Story of Bear

This is Bear.



I crocheted Bear last year. I'm not sure why, I just had the wool lying around and I thought it would be fun to try and make a teddy. I think I had some vague idea of selling him on Etsy. I wish I'd written down the pattern now because this one isn't going anywhere.



And that's because Mark loves Bear. As soon as Bear was finished, he took him to sit on the armchair. He always sits Bear nearby - on the arm of the chair, on top of the CD tower next to it, or on his lap. Sometimes when he's wearing a zip-up jumper he undoes it a few inches and tucks Bear into the top with his head peeping out. May I remind you here that Mark is my 31-year-old husband? But he loves that bear! I could never take it away.



Bear was made in seperate pieces, basically two not-quite-complete spheres for the head and body, four tubes for the arms and legs and semi-circular pieces for the ears. His muzzle is a separate flat piece. His nose is felt and his mouth and eyes are embroidered with black wool. His scarf is crocheted as well. I was going to make a matching hat but never got round to it, maybe one day I will.

I also have a couple of other photos to share - these are the two blankets I'm working on at the moment. First the crochet one:



and then the pinwheel one:



Tatty-bye!

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Woo!

I think most people have heard my exciting news by now, but just in case anyone only reads here and doesn't know me anywhere else (unlikely I think), I'll tell you now. I'm pregnant! Here is an illustrative picture that was taken yesterday:



I'm sure you can see all the stunningly high detail available on the high-end NHS equipment. Yes, I'm aware it's a blob, but it's a blob with a heartbeat! And it is 1.69cm long, or at least it was yesterday, it might be 1.7cm long now. Exciting! By the end of August it should be ready to join the outside world.

And now, just to prove I'm not going to bang on about babies (and nothing else) for months, I'll update you on my current crafty projects. At the moment I'm working on:

1) a pair of socks made from left-over sock wool, with contrast heels and toes - stalled halfway through one sock. These have sort of been put to one side for a bit but I'm OK with that.

2) crochet baby blanket for Chris and Nicola - babies, sorry! But this is coming along nicely, which is good, because it needs to be finished for April. Seven and a half more rounds to go. This is my main project at the moment because I want to get it done; not that I'm not enjoying it, but it's time-consuming and it has a deadline!

3) pinwheel blanket - a friend in America sent me some very pretty variegated wool, so I started this blanket because it shows off the colours nicely. I've done the main bit, partway through a crochet edging at the moment. Very near the end so I should just get this finished but when I have crocheting time I always work on my other blanket.

And in the queue coming up next are:

1) wrap cardigan - Jen gave me the wool for this for my birthday, so I really should start at some point! Especially as it's a spring cardigan really. It's going to be a lovely yellow, and I'll start it as soon as I finish something else, assuming it doesn't get bumped for:

2) baby cardigan - sorry sorry sorry. Anyone would think it's on my mind. Anyway, I ordered some baby bamboo wool (seriously, it's made out of bamboo! How cool is that?) that's a lovely apple green colour to make a tiny cardigan. And hopefully a hat as well if there's some left over, which there should be.

A lot of knitters online seem to start projects whenever they want to, and then have hundreds on the go at once. I couldn't do that; I'd feel dreadfully guilty about all the things I hadn't finished. I already feel guilty about the fact I have THREE ongoing projects and I usually try to limit myself to two. Also I must take some photos of these things soon.

Also I need to take a photo of the crochet finger protector (pat. pend.) I made at the weekend. I found that when I crochet for a while, the wool starts to make a groove in my left index finger (note for Mark: that's the one next to the thumb). The crochet finger protector (pat. pend.) is a bit of felt held on with a bit of elastic, and it keeps my finger groove-free. It doesn't affect my tension because that's controlled by the wool being wrapped round my left little finger (which doesn't seem to get a groove in it, as far as I can tell. Maybe one day it'll just fall off).

Thursday, 17 January 2008

So let's get started.

I was going to take some interesting and artistic photos for the blog today, but unfortunately the sun has very much not got his hat on, so they'd come out looking like crap. So I'm going to share some photos of other things that I've made recently and not blogged about before.


This is the crochet fish. I designed him myself. He's based upon one of the fancy goldfish I had at the time (I don't have them now. Now I have two neon tetras and two rummy-nose tetras, and no plans to crochet them at the current time). The crochet fish turned out to be quite popular - a friend who tested the pattern for me (well, she got her friend to make it, but it's the same thing) has one for each of her two children and they love them. And I made one for another friend to give as a present. And I've sold the pattern once as well. I'm not sure whether to make up patterns of more fish, or whether to do other things; fish don't seem to be too difficult, though. Maybe I'll do a pleco next (ooh, and you could put a magnet in its mouth, and then you could stick it to things! Might have to do that).

Also I am continuing with making tiny things for Mum, who as some of you may know sells dolls house knitting patterns over t'internet. Soon she shall be selling dolls house crochet patterns as well, designed by yours truly. Such as this stylin' shoulder bag:



I also made the underwear for that doll as well but only because when Mum lent her to me she was naked (the doll). And that seemed just wrong, especially if I was going to take photos and put them on the internet.

Mum and Dad are in foreign climes at the moment, by the way. They're currently in Hong Kong, then at the weekend they advance to New Zealand, then about a month later I think it's the Cook Islands, then home. So while they're away I'm designing some patterns and also redoing the whole website, because it could be better organised. And prettier. I designed and programmed it in the first place though so I only have myself to blame.

I made three tiny cushions last night. And a striped tea towel (tiny). And I contemplated a tablecloth but didn't get that far, maybe another day.

And finally, as promised, a photo of my cat, apparently doing some sort of yoga pose:

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

New blog!

Welcome to my new blog! I've been blogging with Blogger for some time now but I thought it was time for a new start. My old blog was the boring kind of blog, about what I did and what I had for dinner and photos of my cat. Most of the blogs I read these days are craft and knitting blogs, and that's the kind of thing I want to post more of (of which I want to post more?). I'm sure there'll still be photos of the cat, though, so never fret.

I'm also going to try and keep to a posting schedule, because on my old blog I would have spurts of posting, then I'd forget for a while (often months), then I'd post a few more times, then forget again. I'm not going to say what the schedule is, so if I slip no one will point and laugh, but I am going to try and be more regular.

That's all for now! I will be back soon.