Sunday, 6 January 2008

Educating Tussah...

Towards the end of last year I participated in my first ever swap. I'd read about them on other blogs with a great deal of interest. How lovely to knit something for another knitter (actually it's also a bit scary, 'cos you KNOW they'll see every mistake); you also know that they'll appreciate the effort that you made. How lovely to receive a parcel from an unknown knitter - it could be someone round the corner from you, or someone on the other side of the world.

I was really pleased with the idea of the Harvest Sock Swap as I only had to knit one sock, thereby avoiding second sock syndrome. It was great taking part (bendy needles aside), but I now realise that I really didn't understand how they work. Firstly, I thought that I had only one swap partner. I thought that I was supposed to get to know her, and to identify myself to her - which I did. Oops, actually I was supposed to remain a mystery. I was utterly confused when I seemed to be receiving two sets of email from her. One with her real email address, and one from someone called "Spoiler". Then, just a few days before the parcel arrived, I received an email from "Spoiler" saying that she wasn't my sock swap partner ... huh? I am not generally considered a stupid girl (at least I didn't think so until after this experience), but what the hell? Imagine my surprise when I receive a package from a completely different person other than my sock swap partner...

Then a day or two ago, I was browsing on Ravelry, and came across a very relevant question about swaps in the UK Swaps group. This lead me to The Bag Lady and The Pro's blog post called Swap 101. It explains about having an upstream spoilee and a downstream spoiler. I wish I'd seen this before I joined the swap, it would have saved a lot of head scratching and looking dumb!

For me there were a couple of notable things in participating in this swap (above-mentioned educative experience aside):

(1) The faboo package that I received from my spoiler*, Cheryl of Knitting-Knut. The yarn is lovely, and the knitting exquisite. Actually, I'm a little intimidated to try the pattern.

(2) Knitting for my spoilee* forced me to try my first patterned sock, and the pattern worked. Yeah!

*Ahem, just so you know, now that I've acquired the lingo I've just got to use it!

Friday, 4 January 2008

That Was the December That Was!

Clearly I'm a craptastic blogger, I've not said a thing all November. I barely had anything to say in December either...

This is partially work , partially a hectic social calendar and partially because I didn't want to let my Harvest Sock Swap partner down. I wasn't on time with the sock, but I got it sent out, and I know that she received it.

Last Christmas I allowed work to completely rule my life ... to the extent that I didn't participate in any of the the normal Christmas parties and social events. I was working in Belgium at the time, so a lot of evenings were spent alone in a hotel room, either reading, knitting or reading and knitting! Everyone else working on the project in Belgium lives there, so after work they have their regular home life. I don't think they realised how cheesed off I became, knowing that I am missing party after party, with no one recognising the sacrifice to my personal life. This year, I decided that there'll be none of that! I was going to every. single. thing. to which I'm invited: I'm pleased to report that I did exactly that. On top of all of that, my birthday is late in November, and I decided to throw a party. I hadn't had a party since I was 13, and I decided one was past due! The net effect was that I was partying each and every one of the six weeks up to Christmas.

Then I went to Denmark for the annual family get together. Three generations of my family in one house. Play with the niece and nephew; play with the dog; try to knit but end up spending more time tinking than knitting; collapse in bed exhausted each night... you know how that goes.

During all of these shenanigans, my Chinese colleague David came to visit whilst he was on a business trip in the UK in early December. He had previously given me a traditional Chinese tea set (photos to come). On this visit he brought along some tea, some special fish seasoning (which I've yet to use), and a traditional Chinese game called Wéiqí (aka "Go" in Japan). It is an ancient game of strategy, the rules of which are easy to learn, but take a lifetime to master. So during the visit, after playing me and then my father, we all agree this would be a fantastic game to take to Denmark to play with my brother-in-law (BIL). David suggests that since my sister and BIL are returning from a three year stint in Japan, I should get her to buy a "Go" table. I forgot to say anything to her, but remember whilst in Denmark, saying "damn, I think we've missed an opportunity". Yeah right, my smarty-pants sister proceeds to tell me how she got the bargain of a lifetime, purchasing a valuable antique "Go" table and some virtually heirloom "soldiers"! Grrr... Then we had a whole big debate about how the game is played. I'm not sure who won that one.

On the knitting front, well, apart from the Harvest Swap sock, there wasn't any real progress. I've joined the centre for the Seraphim inspired wrap that I'm working on, but I just cannot get it right. I have tinked back the same five rows over and over and over again. It's gotten so bad that I started knitting the Woven Cables scarf in a bluey-green Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran for some relief. I haven't done cables in years; I find them very easy, but super tight on the needle on the following row.

I received a fantastic package from my Harvest Sock Swap "spoiler". Note how I'm using terms like "spoiler" as though I know what they mean. That's the subject of a whole 'nother post! I just love the Koigu yarn she chose. If that wasn't enough to put a grin on my face just before Christmas, I also received my first parcel from the Socktopus Yarn Club. And what a parcel. I am so glad I joined this club, Alice has included some truly lovely extras in the "Bells and Whistles" package that I signed up for. I only wish I'd gone for the "Humdinger" package now...