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Archive Entries for December 2012

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Monday December 31, 2012

Books in December

  • The Complaints by Ian Rankin [read by Peter Forbes] BOM-TheComplaints.jpg
    Hopefully this is the start of a new "series" with a new hero Malcolm Fox. Our hero works in the Complaints and Conduct Department; nonetheless we are soon involved in a murder investigation, and quite a traditional chalk and cheese buddy scenario bordering on Mills and Boon (at first they don't get on but then discover a mutual respect, joining forces against adversity).
    It's great - read it. The only thing I can muster up against it is the hero's name "Malcolm" - and that's just me - it's a nice traditional Scottish name.
    I understood that Rankin had written the final Rebus book and rather like the final Morse and Wallander, I was not inclined to read it. I can go along with an author's or actor's desire to definitively put an end to a character once he has decided to finish with them, even though rather definitive ends (Holmes) have resulted in future reincarnations once the author was strapped for cash! Anyway, I imagined that Rebus, like the others, had met an unpleasant end - so I was very pleased to learn not only that he had simply retired, but that Rankin has now brought him back (and not because he is strapped for cash). Thus I now have 2 Rebus books to catch up on.

  • That (or the) Affair Next Door by Anna Katherine Green BOM-GodOfTheHive.jpg
    I downloaded two "free" vintage - presumably out of copyright - books from the internet. This one interested me for two reasons. Firstly I thought it was quite a good story and plot; I think I am quite patronising or dismissive of old detective fiction - unless it is "iconic" of course - so simple snobbery lowered my expectations. However, Green is credited with inventing the amateur spinster sleuth, (Miss Marple apparently being inspired by Miss Amelia Butterworth), and she is also said to be the first to write about the use of an icicle as murder weapon - so she probably is "iconic" and it is I who am simply ignorant.
    Secondly: the author is American and was more or less contemporary with (preceded in fact) Conan Doyle - this novel was written in 1897 - and the language and style are very similar to that used by Elizabeth Peters in her "Amelia Peabody" novels. The latter are set in the 1880s but written in the 1970s, and although they are tongue in cheek parodies, I never liked them very much as I thought the writing style was unrealistic ie what a modern author thinks old fashioned writing is like. However, it seems I am completely wrong..... so there.

Posted on December 31, 2012 at 1:42 PM. Category: Books of the Month.

Tuesday December 25, 2012

Christmas Morning


Here we are on Christmas morning - George is sporting his new reindeer pyjamas and dressing gown - courtesy of Next. (He is not awake enough to object to the picture)

The house is looking very festive with the cushions and quilts I have made over the years, and this year there were some new items.

When I split the (5ply) guernsey yarn to make some thinner yarn, I used the 2 ply to make the Arne and Carlos' Christmas Balls. I expect you are agog to know what happened to the 3 ply.
Well. Make yourselves comfortable.
I made some Christmas lettering, based on an idea from Debbie Bliss magazine No 5 for Winter 2010.

The original pattern spelled out "HOME" (highly non-sectarian and politically correct for the American market no doubt), but the pattern shied away from the difficulty of sloping the knitting by making the letter "M" from felt only.


Far from critical, I really like the styling in grey and white with the splash of red - and would have emulated it but... I wanted to spell NOEL and use my split Guernsey yarn. I used the pattern for Debbie's "O" and "E", and easily improvised an "L". However, the N would not have looked so arty in plain red at the start of the word, so with some difficulty both in planning and execution, I made a pattern for the N.


There are a couple of things to note if you want to do this - or rashly decide to make up your own letters (kid's name etc).

After I made my guernsey letters in 3 ply, I felted the pieces - by hand so I could gauge how small I wanted them. It produced a nice fabric, and the cardboard templates make for a very forgiving method to produce nice even letters. I can't really see how the 4ply yarn recommended would make letters of the size given in the pattern. The magazine photos bear this out to some extent as quite a bit of the knitting is lost in some places, wrapped behind the cardboard.

The base of the letters is a cardboard shape - which helps - especially for the sloping letters and internal corners, where you rely on being able to pull the knitting into shape around the cardboard. You can see that I not only used the double sided tape to fix the letters to the card (to hold in place while I worked) but I also laced up the back to pull it all into shape:


Once the front and back sections (latter from felt) were made up I pressed them under a pile of books, before sewing fronts to backs. Don't forget the felt backings must be mirror images of the letters (for some symmetrical letters this is not important).*


After all that, I was pretty pleased with the result and made sets for myself and for Alison.

* I have not yet made the major confession here that I knitted these on my primitive machine, though I think they are not at all too hard to contemplate making by hand, and you would avoid the mistake I made.
When you work on a knitting machine, the purl side of the knitting (the back) is facing you. I happily started with Debbie's charted E; it worked out well, if a little large, as I started with a 5 ply version. When I turned it around, however, I found I had knitted a 3. The hearts pattern meant I could not turn it upside down as a fix.
I almost did.

Posted on December 25, 2012 at 12:39 PM. Category: Red Letter Days.

Sunday December 23, 2012



So I was really pleased to get these Goebel elephant salt and pepper shakers for a real snip on eBay. I could not understand why no-one else bid - then I found out why when they had arrived. One elephant was damaged - all above board and detailed very clearly by the seller - I just had not looked.

They were a bit grimy, so first I cleaned them up. Then I soaked the broken elephant in water for 24 hours in order to get his trunk off again so I could effect a better repair. This took some doing and I found the trunk had been repaired more than once I am guessing. First with a filler (probably milliput which is what I was intending to use) and then I presume over time it fell off again and contact adhesive was used and created a very unpleasant repair.

Milliput is not ideal for sticking two surfaces together, but is good for modelling missing parts - so I persevered with it. Having created some sort of bond, I let it cure and touched it in with black acrylic.

In the end, the repair proved better than I thought.
As I was trying to exactly position the trunk (pointing down as I received it) I noticed that the paint pattern did not match. I moved it around until it did match, but found the trunk was then at a very strange three-quarter angle. Now I have never seen any of these shakers before, so I did a lot of image searching on the web until I found some originals to show me how they really should look - and the trunk really is at the very strange angle. My conclusion is that they are made to link together - and a very jolly pair they make.


Sheila has a thing for elephants, so I plan to give them to her, with the warning that they are for display only - and never to breath on them too heavily.

Posted on December 23, 2012 at 3:33 PM. Category: Crafts.