Mr Knitter

String Chaos For The Converted…

Summer is long over and quite frankly totally forgotten about. It was a fleeting thing that we all loved for the few weeks, alas memories are fading along with the dropping temperatures. Today it was really cold, 8c outside, which is so far away from the other month when we had 32c. The weather forcasters say that this winter will be the worst in 30 years, which will be interesting as near 10 years ago it was -17c at night and a few feet of snow, so god help us. The joys of living so far north.

Anyway, less of the weather and more of this…

So it begins; knitting

Now the weather has turned my knitting is out and off we go again. I am doing a circular blanket which will be in three colours, cream, brown and grey. Cream being the major colour and grey will be mostly edging.

I love knitting in the round/circular knitting. My mum, who has been knitting longer than I have been on the planet thinks knitting in the round is some sort of witchcraft. I have tried to show her that it is just standard knitting with 5 needles until the circular can be used, but she just does not get it. Although I did freak her out with 9 needles just to prove it does not matter if it is one needle or nine, it works just the same.

The pattern I am using is Stephen West’s “A Bit of Iceland”. The yarn I am using is the Womens Institute Aran (Cream) and Hayfield Aran (Grey & Brown), all knitted on 5.5mm needles. This is the third “Iceland” blanket I have knitted. The first is on the headboard of our bed and is in the original Iceland colours. The second is in Ireland as I made it for M’s mum, and done in creams and greens with the edgework in a sage green hank of merino that was rediculously expensive, but was lovely when finished. This new one will be used in the bedroom too. When we decorated the bedroom I did it in suble greys and browns, so this should look really nice when finished.

I have an idea for a hat I want to make for winter after seeing it on a film. I have checked and it is not a commercially available pattern or hat, and was made just for this film and sold at auction for £240. Once I have worked the pattern out and got to making it I will share it with you all. Just have to work it all out as it is not just a standard hat.

I have decided to try and build up. Yes, I know, close to 50 and now I decided that this is the time. I have tried to get fit in the past and loose fat, but now I thought if I built up I could do all of it in one go. So the weights (not heavy yet) have come out and I have started a small routine. The Apple Watch has an app called 7 Minutes and I use that too, which is good as it raises my heart rate to fat buring/cardio rates, which is something I don’t get too much of with weights.

A few weeks ago I was thinking about M’s health and that it is slowly getting worse, and with that I decided I had to do something about my health and fitness levels as I will be useless to him if I am a fat lazy lump. I have bought some supliments to assist, but all in all it will be hard work that gets results.

I have been looking at some blogs of people that have been doing the same thing, but a lot of them seem to be using steroids and are gym bunnies that live in the gym 24/7 and eat 7 meals a day. This really is not a posibility for me, let alone the cost of gym membership in the UK is very high and you are automatically stuck in a year contract. Then there is the embarrisment/shyness of working out amongst the gym-rats and muscle dudes, which is entimidating too unless you have a gym mate (I don’t). So I don’t think I will be joining a gym anytime soon.

I have had the weekend off from any exercise as I had a very sore chest after earlier in the week from overdoing it. I needed the recovery time, but tomorrow it all starts again. I have looked at ones site and there is an idea about what to do and when, i.e. Mondays chest day, Tuesday arms and so on. But, I will not be up ar 5am and off to the gym as he does for the above reasons. I also need to do more cardio, but having asthma it can be quite hard, but I will give it a go, anything to get rid of fat and build muscle I guess.

I bought an app too that I can use to measure my body and it also takes photos of my and over time can play to show changes, but I will be a slow show LOL. Anyway, I feel determined to do it this time.

At the beginning of the year, I decided my Goodreads challenge would be 30 books. Now for those who really know me, know that I usually have about 10 to 15 books on the go at one time, and flit between them. I need constant stimulation when reading and if I find that the book is lulling a bit, then that goes down and I get another one and read till that gets to that point, or more often than not, I decide that I need a different story, feel, drama, whatever, it just needs to be changed. I can sit in bed at night and start to read, then after say 30 minutes swap books and continue to read.

So, after 8 full months and a few days, I hit my 30 book challenge. I have mixed it up quite a bit and changed genres throughout. One of the best reads so far was The Salt Path by Raynor Winn which is about her and her husband Moth losing their home, business and everything due to a bastard so-called friend. Their journey of being homeless, dealing with Moth’s diagnosis of a terminal illness, wild camping and surviving on very little money and dried noodles really was a testament to their determination. This really is a book I loved and would recommend it to everyone. Oh, yes, his name really is Moth!

Other books read which completed the challenge since my last book post was Bundy: Portrait of a Serial Killer by Robert Keller and Neverland by Jeff Dosser. Both books proving I really do swap from genre to genre.

I bought a set of Tozo earphones from Amazon, great price and to be honest, a great pair for music listening. I did want a pair of Apple Airpods, but really £199 is outrageous, to the point of beyond reasonable, and I am an Apple Boy! The said earphones/earbuds fit nicely, worked perfectly for a week, then a few cutouts that I thought could be due to interference, but being Bluetooth I thought this should not happen as my large headphones/cans are Bluetooth and connected to my iMac and work like a dream, granted they cost a lot more than these little earphones, but the principle is the same, it should work without dropouts.

Move on 7 weeks later (yesterday) I decided to wear them out whilst walking the dogs. They were quite frankly appalling. The right one, which is the main connection dropped out every 10 or 15 seconds, just for about a quarter of a second, but the left one which is connected again via its Bluetooth to the right one was constantly dropping out, to the point where there were more dropouts than there was music. In the end, I turned them off and pocketed them and walked in silence with the dogs.

Last night I went on to return them, and the window was shut for returns. So, to the help section and chat to an Amazon person about returning them for a refund. He (Amazon employee) had to think about whether they should be returned, but before I had chance to spout the consumer rights act he relented but decided to do as Amazon does best, throw a spanner in the works. The earbuds have rechargeable batteries in them, and as such are subject to certain EU laws (EU fuckery), but Amazon read this return of goods with batteries incorrectly, and deem that they cannot arrange for return of the goods and the consumer has to pay for them to go back, as they “cannot produce a paid return label”, which turned out to be a complete lie. They state that only UPS and DHL can carry goods with batteries in them, again I later find out was another lie. To make matters worse this dickhead decided that I had to use UPS and he would send me a UPS label so that it could go back that way, but again I had to pay for the return (legally Amazon have to pay for the return, not me). After what felt like the whole night dealing with dickhead arguing my rights, he decided to leave the conversation.

I printed off the label and this morning took it to the shop in the village that happens to take UPS parcels. However, the label and barcode was generic and not a UPS one. The lady was very nice and apologised that she could not do anything and advised I speak to Amazon to get the right label. Knowing that he was full of shit and did not know his job, I went to the Post Office and asked the postmaster there if this item could be sent. He smiled and said that anything with a battery enclosed within it can be sent by Royal Mail and that the Amazon guy does not have a clue, or just “couldn’t be arsed” which is very apparent now. The postmaster also told me that they Amazon can do a postpaid label with the hazard sign and that I should not be paying for this. The said that EU regulations state that if it is a battery on its own, i.e. a laptop battery, then no, it has to go via a carrier, but if it is within an item, like my earphones, then it has a place to discharge to and is safe to send.

I got home and put in a call to Amazon and the guy I spoke to acknowledged that I should not have to pay for it and whilst on to him email the receipt and he would refund me the postage. I did my part, and he arranged for the refund.

Usually, I get emails confirming what went on and I am given the option to rate the person I dealt with, but alas the guy last night ensured that did not come my way, otherwise I would have given him big fat zeros.

I sometimes wonder if there is a mark on my account that says “he dared to complain back in 2013, so fuck him over as much as you can. Maybe I am becoming pessimistic in my old age, or maybe, just maybe I am right.

I keep meaning to do a post, and then something comes up, and later I realise that I didn’t do my post, and think I will do it now, but manage somehow to get myself sidetracked and BOOM! Forgot to post again. I do not know what is going on with me. So, forgive me for my tardiness!

Fish…

Since last we “spoke” as it were, I finally got rid of my large tank in the lounge. Part of me was glad to get rid of it, and part of me was sad to see it go. The fish love their new smaller home and my Cameroon shrimp seems happy too. Although it was a great tank it took up quite a lot of room, being so massive. We have a unit that we moved into one of the halls when we got the tank, so that is now back in the lounge. My thoughts for getting rid of the tank was to move the smaller tank onto the said unit and get another small tank and finally do a nano reef tank. However, the cost of doing a reef tank is high. I have found a nano tank I like which is £150, but then I need a skimmer and a heater so that’s another £90. Add sand, live rock and all the other bits I need to get it started and I am close to £500 without even adding fish or coral. So, before I take the plunge I have downloaded and printed a book on the subject and intend to read it in full before I decided on what to do. Having spoken to a few people the jury really is out. Some say it is easier than tropical, some say get a large tank as a nano can have problems being small, and others rave on about nano tanks, so there is no real help chatting to others LOL.

I bought an external 12-litre canister filter for my other large tank which works like a treat, but today I added on an extra 2-litre filter canister to that. In essence, water is drawn out of the tank to the small sub canister then passed into the large canister and finally put back into the other end of the tank. I did manage to make a bit of a watery mess as I had not fastened one of the inlet pipes properly oops! I had lost a few fish over the last few weeks, so thought the canister filter would help sort the water quality out. It has UV inside so sterilises the water as it filters. The lighting I have on the tank also decided to die, only 6 weeks after it being exchanged after the first one died after 4 months. Thankfully the aquatic centre where I get most of my equipment and livestock were very understanding and spoke to Fluval who admitted there was a problem that they have now sorted out and to exchange it for me.

Dogs…

Harper with her Birthday monkey

It was Harpers 5th Birthday on Sunday. As always we took them to McDonald’s for hamburgers, then to the pet store so Harper could pick a toy, which this year was a rather large monkey, and two packs of balls. Needless to say, they both had a great time.

Knitting…

Thought about it, even mentally made a pattern for a hat for winter, but that was it, but it’s the thought that counts, isn’t it?

Books…

I was reading The Massacre of Mankind which is a sequel to War of the Worlds and in the end, I gave up as it was so slow and the author was trying to write in the style of H. G. Wells but failed page after page. As most of my readers will know I love classical literature, so have no problem with ancient writing and old English, but this bad, if he had written it in current English it would have been a good read.

Outings…

I went to a joint Christening and Communion party a few weeks ago, got very drunk and had a ball.

Last week we went to Delamere Forest again, which for some reason driving there we managed to take all the wrong turns. I came off the motorway/highway onto the expressway in order to go over the Mersey Gateway Bridge, which when you get to the end of the expressway is straight over the roundabout, however, when you follow this, you end up in an industrial estate and nowhere near the bridge. It would seem the directions for the bridge do not exist, and when you get to the end of said expressway you turn left and ignore the signs. But as I managed to turn the wrong was we ended up back on the motorway heading in the direction of home. Time though was on our hands. My satnav said we would get there at 11:15 when we left home and although I managed to go on a long diversion of 20 minutes we got there at 11:22 thus proving that time travel can be achieved.

Education…

The degree is now on hold. I was so undecided about doing it that I thought it best to put the thought to one side until I was 100% committed to doing it.

General…

After returning from Ireland I had tests and a cardiac assessment done. My blood results came back reporting a lack of vitamin D, which is about right living so far north and the general lack of sun. But I also did not have enough of the good cholesterol either, but this could be due to coeliacs disease. The doctors’ office suggestion was to take vitamin D tablets and eat more oily fish etc. Luckily I found a company that sells vitamins on Amazon and they do a vitamin D that is 4000iu, and when you buy a product they thank you by letting you pick another one for free. I decided on Hemp oil tablets as they are for omega 3 and 6, so that’s the bloods sorted.

The scarecrow festival came and went, and I managed to take exactly zero photos of it. I mean, what is the point of having a great camera, living in the country, and having festivals if I do not record it? Answers on a postcard, please!

We bought new garden furniture, namely a table, chairs and a parasol, just in time for the monsoon season to hit us. Yes, my luck/timing really is in at the moment.

I have managed to have a few barbeques lately, between showers that is.

I finally took the leap into meditation after dipping my toes off and on into it over the last few weeks. I have joined Headspace for a year, and am finding it quite good and just have to add it into my daily routine.

In other news, I had a puncture in one of the rear tyres on the car.

So, how are you all?

I have spent the weekend baking bread. Yesterday I baked a country malt loaf and binned it as it had the density of a black hole. Today I decided to do another malted loaf, the result is the ball-shaped one above, and I also made a sourdough loaf, on the right.

If I am truthful, neither rose the way they should have. I thought that maybe the yeast was dead, but after activating the yeast on its own rather than adding it directly to the flour I thought it would rise better, but no, it is a football size loaf weighing about 3 tonnes. The sourdough, however, is a bit of an odd one as it rose one side but not the other. But the good news is that my sourdough starter smell fantastic, and exactly the way it should do, sharp, sour and it’s bubbly, that’s one in the bag that I am counting. I have not tasted them as yet, but am hoping beyond all hope that they are good. Something inside says not though.

The thing which is odd, I used to bake bread all the time and never ever had a problem, everything worked, everything looked good, and tasted fantastic. This last attempt is making me wonder what I am doing wrong. Hell, I can make some of the finest French pastries, and I have made every type of bread successfully. I am at a loss. But, not to be defeated, I will keep going but will get some fresh yeast rather than dried.

Okay, since starting this post and now, I have just tasted the sourdough bread, and it was okay in taste, not the full sourdough taste, but not bad, the crust was crisp, there were air holes in the bread itself, but not enough, and unfortunately it was too dense, which means back to the drawing board.

So far, so good. This is 12 hours after the first feeding, near trebled in size, lots of bubbles. This morning, day three I gave it its second feeding and left it in the warmth of the kitchen, it is rising which is great. Hopefully, by the weekend, I will be able to bake some bread.

However, as it is barbeque weather I may bake a loaf on it today, we will see how I feel after sitting in the sun for an hour LOL

Oh, did I mention, day three without rain, and temperatures 24c, not exactly the heatwave promised, but I am definitely not complaining as it is just right.

rachelmankowitz

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