Thursday, 28 February 2008

Plumbers and Hats

I'm still not getting much knitting done. I started the snails on the Kauni, but I did it while plumbers were running up and down the stairs and shouting, so when I started the second round I found an rather enormous mistake quite soon. I was doing the pair of snails, so I've ripped it back and I'm now doing single snails, all heading in the same direction. It's not worth photographing yet, but I'll let you see it when the coils are beginning to show.

The plumbers are finished meanwhile, although the floor may need to come up again to see if any horrible damage has been done by the puddles. The news on the insurance front isn't too good, but having a dry floor is a considerable consolation.

Greatgranny, I don't know about 'binnock', but a bannock is a sort of bread. It's a large oatcake or a flatbread, a bit like a large scone, and if it was a few days old it would certainly be hard. There is a delicious variation on it called a Selkirk Bannock, which is full of sultanas and butter. A Selkirk Bannock allegedly has a shelf-life of two months, but I don't think I've ever made one last more than a couple of days. I eat it spread thickly with butter too. When I lived in London I sometimes startled my friends into silence by spreading butter on gingerbread, which is the way it's eaten in Scotland. Mmmm, butter.

The huge pink hat in the previous post is the Daisy Hat from Itty Bitty Hats, by Susan B. Anderson. I've knitted it three times in different sizes and this is the biggest. I think I must have knitted it quite loosely too. The Bunny hat in the jigsaw (see sidebar) is from the same book. You can't see them here, but it has the cutest bunny ears. And there are some more here - it's a wonderful book.

And Knittingwoman, I have added a hat jigsaw, just for you.

Monday, 25 February 2008

Needles, Needles Everywhere

The first lot of knitting needles arrived on Saturday. And then the second lot arrived today. They took respectively four weeks and six days to arrive, posted on 28 January and 19 February, both posted by First Class International Airmail. Oh well.

That's the first lot in the photo. They've been washed and artistically arranged; the second lot are lying around in a plastic bag. I'll get to them.

I've even tried knitting with a pair from the first lot, and have cast on for the Habu Kusha Kusha scarf. The combination of superfine merino yarn and stainless-steel-and-silk yarn isn't bad to knit with at all, but I still don't feel I've got the right needles; these are short enough, but I think they're too heavy. I can't believe I'm making so much fuss about this. Maybe I just need new glasses, but I have to get a new tooth first so the glasses will have to wait.

I knitted one ball of the Mavis scarf while I was away on Friday night, between the train journey and sitting on the sofa. I expect it to grow quite a lot when blocked, and I have some bits and pieces left over, so one more ball should be enough. I need to block the sweater pieces first, and do the small rolled collar, but I can't block the pieces meanwhile.

I have been kept from my knitting and my blogging lately by a series of domestic disasters, the most pressing of which were a busted lock on the street door and a puddle of sudsy water which kept appearing and disappearing on the bedroom floor. The busted lock meant that we could hear the buzzer on the entryphone, and speak on the intercom, but I had to keep dashing downstairs to let people in. The sudsy puddle meant endless confabulations with my upstairs and downstairs neighbours to try and trace its origin. My upstairs neighbour was somewhat distracted because her bank had just informed her that someone had used her credit card to book a £650 hotel room in Dubai, amongst other things, and my downstairs neighbour had a dose of flu. Do you think there might have been a small black cloud hovering over our property?

The sudsy puddle and subsequent investigations have meant that I am moving the bedroom furniture around rather frequently, and I just can't face trying to block sweater pieces on the bed at the same time. They will have to wait until I am feeling slightly more serene. The source of the water ingress has now been found, which caused only minor devastation, but it appears that there is a blockage lower down so we are waiting to establish the extent of that. The plumber will be back at sparrowfart tomorrow.

While I was away, I was able to check that one of my youngest relations is putting to good use the items that I knit for her. I would say that she is. Do you think I should have made it a little smaller?

Friday, 22 February 2008

Mavis's Sleeves

I was looking for my address book in my handbag and what should I find but my camera? I wonder how long it had been there.

So these are the sleeves for Mavis. They aren't actually bell-shaped, that's just the way the stocking stitch has curled. There will be some serious blocking soon. I didn't try to match the sleeves, but I'm happy with the way the colours have fallen, with most of the interest in the lace part, but also a flash across the top. Both sleeve caps are the same shape, so that must be how they're meant to be; that, or I've made the same mistake twice. I haven't manipulated the colours in this sweater, just taken them as they came in the ball, except on one occasion where I snapped the yarn in order to avoid a big beige stripe across the top front. After lengthy debate my friend has decided that instead of the original high collar she would like a plain neck and a matching scarf. I'll do that in the chevron stitch. I said, 'And I can just knit until all the wool's gone, that way there won't be any wastage, which she was very pleased about, and then I thought, 'What have I talked myself into?'

So while I get round to the blocking, I've cast on for a scarf that is three chevron's wide, starting with a bit of purple. I might manage the colours a bit on the scarf, so that she gets the bright colours at the ends.

The re-discovered Kauni has reached the end of the second repeat of the big Zilboorg pattern from Fancy Feet. I was searching for another pattern when I remembered the snails. I don't know whether I'll do them in pairs or if I'll just have them all going round in the same direction. Speaking of Kauni, Purlwise had a great photo yesterday.

There's a nice piece by Hazel Tindall, who appeared in my last post when she won the World's Fastest Knitter title again, on the UK Handknitting site here. She refers to knitting lace as well as her colourwork and the speedknitting. I wonder if some publisher has got her lined up; hers would be an interesting story.

I watched Michael Clayton last night, just out on DVD. It's very good and I think I managed to follow the plot. I have a theory that when the director writes the script, the dialogue often falls short because the director is so busy thinking about how it will all look, but that isn't at all the case here - terrific script as well as a great looking film. He also wrote the Bourne films (well, the first two were good) and Armageddon, one of my faves.

No knitting needles have arrived yet but I didn't really expect them so soon. Maybe Monday. I'm going away for the night, so I have to dash now, but I've got two new knitting books to write about when I get back. Watch this space.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Free at Last

I can't find my camera, so you will have to take my word for it that I've finished the second sleeve of Mavis. My friend hasn't decided what sort of collar she wants, so until she does I am free of obligation. I realized that since I got Knitting New Scarves in October, I have been knitting things for other people , first Christmas presents and then Mavis. That's a long time. The freedom thus achieved has led me straight back to the Kauni cushion / sampler, which I picked up with little cries of joy. At some time soon I will have to decide where I am going with this and when to stop it. I am tempted to keep going until the yarn runs out - I can get a cushion made to fit it, after all, rather than stifle its gloriousness for the sake of fitting it to some existing cushion. It might be a completely different size after washing and blocking. I am sure the yarn will bloom beautifully. I suppose I could even felt it, although my reluctance to put in the effort of knitting something large but ending up with something small, makes me disinclined. I can't show you a picture of the Kauni either, but I am hoping the camera will surface later today. It is lost in a space about 11 feet square, but that space is well covered with yarn, books and remote controls so it's not as easy as it sounds.

In order to avoid being completely pictureless, here is a shot of Hazel Tindall who held her title as the World's Fastest Knitter at the weekend. Be sure to turn your speakers on for the full excruciating effect. How she manages such a sweet smile while that's going on I can't imagine; it makes me want to lie down and weep.

For a full account of the event, go over to kmkat's blog - she does it more than justice. Her shots of the competitive knitters include a Fair Isle vest worn by Hazel and one of those lovely jackets from Poetry in Stitches worn by Miriam Tegels, as well as another Fair Isle worn by Hazel's husband. The author of Poetry in Stitches is Solveig Tisdal; I think the -dal in Tisdal and the -dall in Tindall are both from the Norse, like the Dales in Yorkshire which were thoroughly explored by the Vikings, just as Shetland was - dale is Norse for valley.

I bought another set of vintage Boye knitting needles on eBay at the weekend, to replace the set that evaporated in the hands of Royal Mail. I did wonder if this might have the effect of sending the first set rocketing through the letter box this morning, but no. So I reckon I have about a week to work on the Kauni and anything else that takes my fancy, before my friend makes her mind up about the Mavis collar or the second lot of needles arrives and I have to decide between the Habu scarf and something else. The issue may be slightly clouded by the fact that this morning I bought the pattern for Knitspot's Gust; I have been sorely tempted by this since I saw it on the designer's website, and then at Knitting Linguist. The only thing I can say in my defence is that I didn't buy the yarn as well, although I love that Pacific colourway. Every attempt to hunt around on the sofa for my camera reminds me of just how much yarn I have that is ideally suited for this project.

Many thanks for the comments about the surrealist photo of the gloves. You are quite right; the hands must be from plaster mannequins. I am a bit disappointed to lose the mental image of a group of immaculately dressed models contorted behind the newspaper, but the pose is familiar from shop window displays of my youth. And as a fan of disembodied limbs and print, Angus McBean or one of his imitators seems a distinct possibility. I've added a little grey jigsaw of it to the sidebar.

Between failing to deliver the needles, the postman has succeeded in delivering a book, but it must wait for the camera.

Friday, 15 February 2008

More Not Knitting

I was reading a blog post this morning about how one doesn't post so often when working on a single long piece of knitting. Yes, I know, I was reading knitting blogs when I should have been knitting. I'm still bashing on with Mavis and should know soon whether I've got the second sleeve cap wrong too. Once the sleeves are sorted, my friend has to decide what sort of collar she wants; I said initially that I thought the doubled over rolled neck would be too warm and she agreed, so I have been putting forward suggestions for other collars, including a removable cowl which would be as warm as the roll collar but less permanently stifling. We had a lengthy conversation about it last weekend but don't seem to have arrived at a conclusion.

I think I would, paradoxically, be much nearer the end of Mavis if those blessed Boye needles had arrived and I had been able to cast on something else as my alternative knitting. I am beginning to conclude that they have gone to the great Post Office in the sky. As long as my regular postman is on, everything's fine, but he had a few days off and chaos descended. He's back and I told him about the needles the other day, so he is on the lookout for a long, thin parcel, but I don't hold out a great deal of hope. I discovered today that a book was posted to me in January which also hasn't arrived. It's so embarrassing explaining to people overseas just how bad Royal Mail can be nowadays. This has led to my spending yet more time on eBay looking for another suitable set, and therefore less time knitting.

On a more positive note, a Scot is hoping to hold on to her title as the world's fastest knitter this weekend. I came across this clip of her talking after her win in 2004. She describes not being allowed to knit on Sundays in her youth on the Protestant island of Shetland. Coincidentally, I had been reading a Jewish knitting blogger mentioning using the Shabbos setting on her oven and then proceeding to knit on a Saturday and I had been a little surprised. I suppose the difference is whether you regard knitting as work or not; if you do, then you can't knit on the Sabbath. In Hazel Tindall's family, knitting was definitely work - quite different from recreational knitters nowadays who look forward to stealing some knitting time from what they, in turn, regard as work.

One item which has been delivered is the vintage knitting pattern; I think I will give it to Jean to go with her near-perfect collection of Vogue Knitting Books.Isn't it lovely? A must for that thesis someone is surely writing about knitting and Surrealism. The date on the newspaper (The Times, of course) is Monday, 7 November 1949. How on earth were the models arranged behind the newspaper? The only thing which would make it better would be if one of the hands were holding a cigarette.

I watched Picnic the other day. If I tell you that two of the keywords on IMDB are Drifter and Beefcake, you'll get the picture. William Holden spent a lot of his time shirtless, to the distraction of a largely female cast, although I couldn't help feeling that they were actually exploring gay male issues - I thought that before I looked up the author, honestly. It must have seemed so daring then (1955), and now it's on television in the afternoon. I spent some time following up keywords on IMDB afterwards: they're not very well thought out and have lots of overlaps, so you can find films under Drifter and Adultery (if you are so inclined), Drifter and Lust, and Drifter and Sex, not to mention Drifter and Daughter which sounds pretty worrying.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Mavis and Mags

Well, here's the first Mavis sleeve. I don't think the sleeve cap is right, but rather than rip it and do it again now, I'm going to do the other sleeve and see how the cap on that turns out: if they're the same then that's how they're meant to be, and if the second one's better I'll know what I'm trying to do with the first one. The schematics for this aren't very detailed and are driving me a bit bats; it would be helpful to know the length of the sleeve above the beginning of the decreases, but it isn't shown. I've started the second one.
I'm thinking about giving myself a day off from this because I'm in danger of hating it. I've told myself I can't do anything else until this is finished, but I think this might misfire and I might not knit anything at all, so I'm going to have a day or two off. I wish those vintage Boye needles would turn up and then I would know what I'm doing next.

I got the new Rowan mag (43) last week; I don't usually find much of interest in the Spring issues of knitting mags, as they tend to be lacy pastels, neither of which make my heart beat faster, but there are a few possibles. The Spook top is lovely (yes, I know it's lacy and pastel, but it's not very lacy and I wouldn't use a pastel shade) although I can't quite see that my rather dull life would offer any opportunity to wear it. The Purity shawl is absolutely delicious (ditto ditto). It looks like a stole in the photos, but from the pattern it seems to be a triangle; there isn't a schematic. I was going to recommend it to Jean as she's a Sharon Miller fan, but she has forsworn Kidsilk Haze forever, so she won't be interested. Unless she did it in a different yarn, of course. I like the ripped Earthly. Those of you who have been taking notes may remember that I knitted a distressed sweater last year so I probably won't do another one, but it's nice to see it.

I also got the new book of All Seasons Cotton patterns, All Seasons at the Mill. I like this yarn a lot, so I bought the book as a matter of principle rather than because it swept me off my feet. The patterns are fairly basic but could provide a starting off point; I think a selection of sort of seaside patterns would suit this yarn better; it's very soft on the skin, quite warm, and has very good stitch definition and I don't think these patterns particularly exploit those characteristics. I have quite a lot of All Seasons Cotton hidden in my wardrobe, so I think I'll do the Wrap Top, and maybe the Hooded Top, although I would shorten that as long tops make my legs look strangely short and stumpy. Although it doesn't say so anywhere, it looks as if this book was modelled by Rowan staff, which is a nice touch.

On a completely trivial note, I was very disappointed with the names in this book. Wrap Top? Hooded Top? Mans [sic] Jacket? Did somebody forget to make up catchy names for them? The mag was a bit dull in this regard too: Kaffe Stripes? Surely that name's been used before?

I bought a vintage pattern on eBay tonight; I don't intend to knit it but I couldn't resist. I'll show you when it arrives.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Nothing to See Here

I've done a bit of Mavis sleeve, but I think it'll be more exciting if you wait to see it when I'm further on.

No Boye knitting needles turned up today. I know that anxiously waiting for them is the worst thing to do and that if I forget about them they will arrive a lot sooner, but I can't seem to manage that.

I'm doing some admin for a lovely knitalong for Kristin Nicholas's designs. I always gasp in awe at photographs of her work although I haven't done any of her patterns myself yet. You know about me and indecision; it's hard enough for me to choose one colour but when there are five to be chosen, I almost go into a state of hibernation. Do go over and have a look at the picture of her glove. And there are jigsaws.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Mavis Reaches the Sleeves

I haven't posted the last few days because I was only progressing with Mavis and I thought you had probably seen enough photographs of minute changes, minute advances and retreats, over that particular garment. I managed to separate the back and front satisfactorily this time, and finished it off up to the shoulders. I'm very pleased that I've got a charcoal stripe one one shoulder, and a purple stripe on the other. I don't believe in making random yarns look symmetrical. The friend for whom I'm knitting this jumper did enquire whether the stripes on the sleeves could be matched, and I told her that they could, but they won't. Cranky, moi?

I didn't get much done at the weekend because I went to stay with my niece and her family. For Sunday breakfast she made me a smoked salmon bagel with scrambled eggs on the side; I am thinking of changing my will in her favour.
Today I got started on the first sleeve. I had considered doing the sleeves on four needles, but I decided it was probably more trouble than seaming them. The holey bit of the chevrons would probably get even more holey if I were juggling needles, or using circs. I've tried two circs and the magic loop and I always end up feeling as if I'm spending more time yanking the stitches round cables than I am actually knitting. And before you tell me that that's a circ in the photo, it is but I am knitting backwards and forwards.

I'm thinking this might best be blocked before I sew it together. It might be easier to get the chevrons on the body properly stretched if I'm not wrestling with sleeves at the same time, and the sleeves might be easier to block when they're flat.

We had a surprisingly lovely sunny morning today, which made it all too easy to believe that we may be going to have an early spring, although the general Scottish tendency about weather like this, whenever it occurs, is to look bleakly at the sky, shake our heads, and say, 'Aye, we'll pay for this.' Whatever may be to come, it certainly brightened up the knitting of this yarn and I still love the colours.

On Friday evening all this thinking and counting overwhelmed me and I did a little bit of fast gratification with the beginning of a Log Cabin washcloth. It's fun. I'll finish it off when I've done the first sleeve. Unless I crack and do it before that.

I'm beginning to look out for the vintage Boyes I bought last week. I think I can reasonably expect them to arrive this week and I might get slightly impatient about them soon. Once they arrive, I can cast on for Scaruffle, or for the Kusha Kusha Scarf.