Tuesday, 29 March 2011

What a busy week!

I've not posted for a while because I've been away on a trip as part of my job, travelling to Brussels and London. It really was a whirlwind trip, starting with a meeting in Brussels on Thursday. I went with my great friend and colleague, H, and we had a very good time, especially in the evening when we visited the Grand Place in Brussels and went for the iconic Belgian meal of mussels and chips. If ever you go to Brussels, eating mussels and chips is a MUST. We then went on to see the Mannekin Pis, another Brussels icon. The poor little guy has people staring at him while he pees all day and all night! He is really quite small, no bigger than a doll, but for some reason he is a very big tourist attraction. We went in the evening so the pictures are a bit dark, sorry about that! Lastly we bought Belgian chocolate, yet another Belgian tradtion, and a very delicious one at that.  Yum yum yum!

And I almost forgot - how could I ?! -  just after the meeting and before the shops had closed, we found... a craft shop! Where they had my favourite Catania yarn in colours I hadn't yet acquired: a lovely dark elephant grey, and Catania color, a gorgeous variegated yarn that I just HAD to buy too. And I found boxes and boxes of the faceted beads that I use for my owl eyes and that the lady on the market I normally buy them from had completely run out of. So I came home with two boxes of beads too (containing 130 beads each) - that's enough for 130 owls!

On Friday, we took the Eurostar from Brussels to London. It was the first time I've been through the Chunnel and it was a doddle! So much easier than flying! We had to be at the station half an hour beforehand for check in, but it was very easy and straightforward. We were served (a second) breakfast on the train, and the trip only took two hours. You know how tired you feel after flying? Well, I do. But travelling by train is so much more peaceful and feels more natural. And when you travel by train your carbon footprint is neutral. Otherwise said, zero. For me, that's a simple enough reason to prefer the train, when you have the choice.

The London leg of the trip was very interesting and exciting too. We were there to report on the March for the Alternative, which I'm sure all the UK readers on here had heard about, and maybe some of the others too (I hope so!). It was a HUGE, very impressive and very hopeful march with hundreds of thousands of protesters demonstrating against the cuts imposed by the UK government. We walked all through central London, from Embankment to Hyde Park. We went past lots of landmarks: Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, 10 Downing Street, Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus. On the photo you can see the London Eye just visible on the right. It was a wonderful, peaceful, collective gathering of ordinary people marching together for a better world. Let's just hope we'll be listened to.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Felt owl brooches

Another thing to tick off my list! Today I finished off the fourth owl brooch, it was the little blue one. Do you remember when they looked like this? I call this group my English owls because I bought the felt and the gingham ribbon on my last trip to the UK. The ribbon was a very good bargain from the local market, I couldn't believe how cheap it was! And the felt was from my hobbycraft trip. I think I now have enough felt to make a couple of hundred owls! I also made another little brooch, but I'll show that one to you another day because I've not taken its photo yet.
Today I went to the local (French) market and tried to get some more of the shiny faceted beads I use for my owls' eyes. But there weren't any! The lady who I buy from in the market didn't have any left, what a disappointment... I did buy a different kind, but I'm not really convinced they'll look as good. We'll see.
My craft supplies have been getting a bit out of hand and taking over my life and my bedroom! I've emptied out the top drawer of the chest of drawers in the hall and I'm sorting out my stuff and moving it in there. I've started with my ribbon stash and I'm quite pleased with myself - instead of having all the ribbon in a bag getting mixed up it is now neatly arranged in an old watch box.

How do you managed to keep your stuff in order? Please do let me know, I need as many ideas as I can get!
Have a great Sunday!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Llama worm

After Manuel la llama, here's llama worm! If you've never seen the "real" llama worm, here it is:

The llama worm is going to a new home in Britanny, where it will be adopted by my son's friend. They spend time look at this kind of thing on the internet and judging by the number of times this image appears on any search engine, they're not the only ones... Anyway my son agreed that it would be funny to make one for his friend, so here it is.

That's another item off my list.

While I was wandering through our small town this afternoon, I came across this:

Naturally, my first thought was, "Why is there a stegosaurus on the back of that truck?"... but then I moved on a bit and on the side of the truck it said:

And sure enough, around the corner, there it was!

A dinosaur exhibition!  But I couldn't visit because it was closed. So the photos will have to do. Anyway they've got something a bit wrong. According to my expert son, neither tyrannosaurus nor pterandons lived during the Jurassic period, they're from the Cretaceous. Stegosaurus was a Jurassic dinosaur, but when he was around the other two didn't exist yet. It did make me think that I've not tried to make an amigurumi dinosaur yet. Hmmm...

Monday, 14 March 2011

Manuel la llama

Anyone who knows me through flickr may have already seen my llama on there, and his flickr name is Miguel. However, he has now been given to his rightful owner and his name is Manuel. "You'll have to forgive him, he's from Barcelona". I'm sure the English amongst you recognise the quote :D

Manuel is going to Norway with his new owner, Maria. I'm very sad that Maria is leaving. She has worked alongside me for the past six months and we shared so much. We had lots of fun, and some serious times too, and there's going to be a big empty space in my life now that she's gone. On the other hand, I'm happy for her that she's going back to her family, and Maria, if you're reading this, I'm counting on you to come back very soon.

To make Manuel I used the same basic pattern as I used for the blue stripy giraffe:

Spot the similar legs and arms, and body shape? However, Manuel's head is a different shape and the ears are different, of course. Well they would be for a llama, wouldn't they? I also used hairy yarn for the body, for the top parts of the arms and legs, and for the back of Manuel's head.

I'm sorry I haven't yet had time to write up the pattern, but I'll do it eventually, I promise!

So that's one item off my list. I've also finished one of my felt owls and I've done some more work on llama-worm, so things are chugging along nicely.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Earthquake and tsunami in Japan

We watched the Japanese tsunami happen before our eyes - luckily for us we are thousands of miles away and it was brought to us via television. It was shocking to see the wave advancing irremediably across the land, dragging along with it debris, cars, boats, houses.

News this morning is that the scale of the earthquake has been increased to 9. In any case it is the one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded (there was a 12.5 earthquake in the Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago, that created the Chicxulub crater).  I have heard reports that it is the strongest, but according to the entry on Wikipedia, there have been a few stronger earthquakes more recently:

9.0 in Lisbon, Portugal,  in 1755
9.2 in Anchorage, Alaska, USA, in 1964
9.3 in the Indian Ocean in 2004
9.5 in Valdivia, Chile, in 1960

Maybe it's to do with its intensity. If anybody can shed any light on this, please leave a comment.

Last Friday's earthquake in Japan was 8,000 times stronger than the one that preceded it in Christchurch, New Zealand on 22 February, which created lots of damage and over 200 dead.

In Japan, thousands of people have been killed and thousands are still missing. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced because there is also a nuclear danger. The nuclear power stations were built to withstand seismic activity, but nothing of this magnitude. One nuclear reactor has exploded and another one is, as I write this, in danger of exploding. The radioactive material is no longer being cooled efficiently so it is in melt-down, bringing with it a huge risk to the population. People have been evacuated in a 20 km radius. But just imagine if you lived on the limit of that radius, at only 20 km from the nuclear site, where there have already been leaks equal to 100 times the maximum permitted level. Wouldn't you want to take your family as far away as possible? I know I would.

I am glad that the handful of Japanese citizens I know are safe and well, though shocked, but many, many more are are injured, homeless, have lost members of their families, have no home, no job, nothing. Whole cities have been wiped out. Just look at these before and after photos of Minamisanriku, a border town. The pictures say it all.

If you want to help, several charities are collecting money for aid and are easily searchable.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

I heart you!

I don't know why, but I' ve been in a heart-making mood. It must be love.

I made these lovely red hearts with this pattern from Red Heart (of course!) and my favourite yarn (Catania cotton for any newcomers who don't yet know that it's my favourite yarn)

I also made a pink one, with different soft, squidgy yarn

and while I was in my hearts mood, I made a granny heart too. No idea what to do with this one.

I've also been through my workbag and I've really should prioritise. I get so excited about starting new things that the old things tend to sit waiting patiently for me to get around to finishing them. It DOES feel good when I finish a project, but there are so many unfinished ones...

First the crochet projects:

  • Coasters for M+J  (4 out of 6 finished)
  • Jolly Green Giant socks for H (half of one sock made)
  • Llama worm for S (almost there!)
  • Granny square covers for my poufs (no started yet but my poufs really need them)
  • Bootees for baby C (the idea for that lovely wool I bought in the UK in February)
  • Garfield that I started over a year ago (no comment)

and finally a Llama for MAW (that I AM GOING TO FINISH THIS WEEKEND)

Then the sewing projects

  • The four felt owls from my last post
  • An owl pyjama case (about half done)
  • Little dress for ???  (about half done)

So I have made a resolution: no more new projects until I've finished all of these. I'm going straight away now to finish off the llama. I'll post them up here as I finish them, so that we can all see where I'm up to! If you see me talking about anything new, please do me a favour and remind me that I've lots of other things to finish off first!

Friday, 4 March 2011

Spring in colours

Owl brooches WIP
Originally uploaded by aishakenza
It's not yet Spring, but I can tell it's on the way. Not only are lots of the blogs I follow displaying photos of sunshine and flowers, but even in my part of the world, where the winters tend to be longer and colder, probably due to the proximity of two mountain ranges, the first signs of spring are peeping out from the ground. After yet another cold, grey spell, this morning there was sunshine and birdsong. Yes, I know the birds in the photo are not going to be singing any time soon, the poor things don't have beaks yet.

You may remember that I bought lots of bright felt last time I went to the UK. It had been sitting waiting for me to do something with it, and this week I took the plunge. I've started on four new owl brooches. This is where they're up to, and I just had to take a photo of them with their beady eyes shining! Watch out for the finished owlies, they should be along quite soon.

On my way to work I spotted these gorgeous crocuses.

Then as I walked past the flower shop I couldn't miss these.

I don't know what you think, but I prefer the crocuses.

The flowers in the shop look too bright, they almost look as if they contain additives. They make me think of those bright sweets that are bursting with food colouring and sugar but don't actually contain anything useful. They're pretty, but just a little bit too bright.

At least now it's the weekend so tomorrow, sunshine permitting, I'll be out with my camera once again trying to catch a glimpse of some more springtime cheer.