Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Knitting and Ripping

Yes, Judith, it was Bette Davis in Cabin in the Cotton, 1932. It's towards the end of this clip.

And here she is some years later, talking about kissing in the movies. Get a load of those diamonds.

Back to knitting. I was about to start the Swallowtail for the third time and I took a long hard look at it and decided that the yarn just doesn't suit the stitch. When this yarn was in the skein it looked like a lot of white with a few random dashes of pale blue and green, but once it's swatched there's a lot more colour. So I ripped it and started another Forest Canopy.
I thought maybe the angularity of the pattern would let it overtake the yarn. But that didn't really work so I ripped it and started a Montego Bay Scarf, from IK, Summer 2007. I've meant to do this for a while and even have a skein of Seasilk somewhere, but I decided this was the time to start it. But after a while I decided it would be better in a silky, drapey yarn (like the pattern says, doh!) so I ripped that too.

And I started Argosy, from Knitty. This is designed for a heavier yarn, but I think that if I make it a repeat or two wider and block it so that the points are long and curvy instead of being right angles, it might do very nicely. (Take a look at her other lace; it's beautiful.) This stitch pattern doesn't seem to fight with the colours.
I haven't altogether decided. I'll do a few repeats more and then see what I think. I suppose that I could use this pattern to make a triangular shawl, but one of the intriguing things about the scarf is that the stripes formed by the colours run at right angles to the stripes formed by the stitches, like the Clapotis.

Interspersed with all this ripping and starting, I've gone round and round on Chrissy and have separated the front and back, and am now chugging up the back. It's very wide. The pattern is so oversized that I'm knitting the one for someone five sizes smaller than I am. I wonder what size she's wearing.

I'd like to kiss ya, but I just washed my hair

That movie post was fun. I keep thinking of more quotes. Today's post title is an old favourite: you have to say it in a strong Southern accent, so that 'hay-uh' is two syllables. It was said by an actress who was usually brunette, but she was blonde in that film.

I thought you did very well, especially SuzySZ, who persevered and finally got Flawless right. Flawless is an odd movie; you could be forgiven for thinking that it was actually two films cut together as some sort of exercise or mistake. There is one perfectly adequate plot with Robert de Niro as a retired security guard who has had a stroke and is advised to have singing lessons to help recover his speech; the obvious teacher is his neighbour, the drag queen, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman. Usually in films, drag queens are played by tall, slim, beautiful leading men but Phil is often described as cuddly, and although I find him steamingly attractive (I have a thing about strawberry blonds), he's not the sort that you think of as having Hollywood good looks. He's terrific in the role, as he is in everything. I saw him in a number of films before I realized he was the same person; his early roles are all so different and this is a long way from his sleazy Scotty in Boogie Nights or the sharp-witted Freddie in The Talented Mr Ripley (I should point out that I don't find him steamingly attractive when he's playing Scotty). The story develops as these two who dislike each other on sight grow to some sort of understanding. And then there is a perfectly stupid crime plot which seems to have been grafted on, and is nothing but a distraction. I had this film on VHS but haven't got round to acquiring it on dvd; I think what I would like to do is record it when it's on tv, and then make my own cut, but it doesn't seem to crop up on television. I should just buy the dvd and skip the offending chapters - by the way, the small son of a friend of mine calls dvds 'deevie deevies' - I'm hoping it will catch on.

I watched Bus Stop on the weekend. I think it's the first time I watched it all the way through. There are some wonderful lines in it too, and some good female roles. How anyone could watch it and then say Marilyn Monroe couldn't act, I don't know. I thought she was just wonderful; her halting, nervous cabaret turn is perfect, and the bit where she has to lose her temper and end with the line, 'Give me back my tail!' which could have been excruciating, is perfectly convincing. The red-and-blue photography (Technicolor?) is marvellous, even if Cherie's 'green' scarf keeps showing up as blue. My favourite line was, 'Well it ain't actually a real diamond... '

There's been a bit of knitting and quite a lot of ripping going on here, but I'll save that for the next post. Thanks for joining in on the film quiz, and don't forget to add your guesses for the post title quote.

Friday, 18 April 2008


I've added clues to the remaining quotations in yesterday's Movie Meme, although I never find that clues help; they just make me bang my head on the wall even harder. Good luck.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Movie Meme

Thank you for the generous comments about the Lagoon Forest Canopy Shawl. I feel a bit of a fraud as it's a very easy pattern, but it does knit up very nicely.

I've made two starts on the Swallowtail Shawl. I used 5mm needles the first time and decided they were too big; I couldn't tell the gaps caused by the YOs from the gaps between the stitches. I've gone down to 4mm. Also, I had made some mistakes, it has to be said.
With the Forest Canopy, I followed the written instructions at first, and then kept the chart at my elbow as an aide memoire, so for the second start on this I wrote out the pattern and fixed it to my magnetic board. This helped a little bit, but didn't entirely solve the problem. I did a year or so of Russian when I did my degree, and I found it very salutary to be back moving my finger along under the letters and uttering halting sentences about Boris and Natasha, just as I had been with Janet and John some decades before. I feel a bit the same about lace charts, when I hear myself saying 'Knit, yo, knit, slip, knit, pass, yo,' and so on as I stumble through the lines. I don't make many mistakes on the first half, before the middle stitch, but after that all h*ll breaks loose. I think I make fewer mistakes when I follow the stitches instead of the pattern, but that may be wishful thinking. Anyway, if I make a total mess of it I can always knit another Forest Canopy with the yarn.

I've decided to do the Movie Meme which is going around. You choose 15 (or 10, or whatever you want) movies and select a quote from each on IMDB. You happy readers get to guess what they are - purely for your own amusement - and add the answers in the Comments. I did it by thinking of my favourite quotes and then checking them on IMDB, so there is a bias towards what I could remember rather than what are necessarily my favourites, which seems to indicate a tendency toward the frivolous on my part. No great surprise there. If you guess a lot of them, you can probably identify my favourite actor too. And yes, the picture is a clue, although not to my favourite actor, just one of my favourite actors and one of the quotations.

1. I’m asking you to marry me, you little fool. Rebecca, guessed by Vivienne. Spoken by Laurence Olivier, with a moustache.

2. Son of a bitch just stole my watch. Not The Sting or Pulp Fiction, Gretchen and Kassia. It's the last line, I think, of a film which has been made more than once and not always under the same title.
: the line is spoken by Walter Matthau and he's complaining (falsely) about Jack Lemmon.
No, Kassia, it's not one of the Grumpy Old men movies. It's well before that, but after The Odd Couple.
The Front Page, the 1974 version. I'm a bit surprised nobody got this one, but maybe I'm living in the past.

Tell me five things about yourself, four of them true. Breach, guessed by Cetta. An underrated film, with the great Chris Cooper and the drippy Ryan Phillippe.

4. Miss Casswell is an actress, a graduate of the Copacabana School of Dramatic Art. All About Eve, guessed by Gretchen. George Sanders said it of the character played by Marilyn Monroe.

5. Have the florist send some roses to Mrs Upjohn, and write ‘Emily, I love you,’ on the back of the bill. A Day at the Races, guessed by Tamara. Said by Groucho Marx of Margaret Dumont, who else?

Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue. Airplane, guessed by Cetta. Spoken by Lloyd Bridges.

It costs a lot to look this cheap. No, this isn't Steel Magnolias, Lee. I'll give you a clue: it isn't spoken by a woman but by a drag queen. Actually, it's pretty obscure and I only included it because it's my favourite actor. No, Shadowdancer, not To Wong Foo... or Mrs Doubtfire either. No, Kathy and SuzySZ, it isn't Priscilla, Queen of the Desert or Some Like It Hot either.
Clue: the line is addressed to Robert de Niro and this is probably time to tell you that my favourite actor is Philip Seymour Hoffman.
And no, it's not Analyze This, either, SuzySZ. Or Analyze That.
Flawless (1999), guessed by SusySZ, who got there in the end, hurrah.

8. So tell me, Cameron, just tell me because I'd like to know, what on earth could make you think that we would want to share a flat like this with someone like you? I mean, my first impression, and they're rarely wrong, is that you have none of the qualities that we normally seek in a prospective flatmate. I'm talking here about things like presence, charisma, style and charm, and I don't think we're asking too much, I don't think we're being unreasonable. Take David here, for instance: a chartered accountant he may be, but at least he tries hard. The point is I don't think you're trying. Shallow Grave, guessed by Vivienne.

Hi. How are you? My name's Elliot, and I'm with the Cub Scouts of America. We're... we're selling uncut cocaine to get to the jamboree. True Romance, guessed by the blogless Sandyb. I can watch this film over and over, except that I skip the bits with Gary Oldman and Christopher Walken, cos they're too scary: oddly, I don't find the bit with James Gandolfini scary. I have listened to every commentary on the special edition dvd.

10. Hello, this is Harris. I'm in right now, so you can talk to me personally. Please start talking at the sound of the beep. LA Story, guessed by Sandyb. Not one of the greatest movies, but I love this line. And I had to include a Steve Martin film.

You know you've reached rock bottom when you're told you have character flaws by a man who hanged his predecessor in a military coup. Or, from the same film You're no James Bond. You're no Thomas Jefferson, either. Let's call it even. No, not Bananas, Gretchen, although there is a film by that writer / director lower down. This film is much more recent than Bananas.
Clue: the lines are spoken by Tom Hanks and MFA, Phil.
Charlie Wilson's War, guessed by Mary. A lot of people have criticized this film for not being a documentary, but it's still a great movie with a very witty script by the writer of The West Wing, Aaron Sorkin.

12. It's as if Perry and I grew up in the same house. And one day he stood up and went out the back door, while I went out the front.
Clue: the line is spoken by Phil and he got an Oscar for it.
Capote, guessed by Lee. Phil and Chris Cooper, what more could life have to offer?

13. Joseph Turner White: I may have to go to jail.
Ann Black: I'll knit you a sweater.
Joseph Turner White: I'm gonna be in there a long time.
Ann Black: I'll knit you a jumpsuit.
Clue: the lines are spoken by Phil again and Rebecca Pidgeon, in a very funny David Mamet film.
State and Main, guessed by Candlepick, who describes the film as 'a trove of quotable stuff, much of it delivered in weary deadpan by William H. Macy' - I couldn't put it better myself.

14. You’re so beautiful, I can hardly keep my eyes on the meter.
Clue: how could you not get this? It's Woody to Diane - which film?
No, Lee, it isn't Sleeper. A little later than that.
Big clue: it was shot in black and white.
Manhattan, guessed by Lee. He also says, 'My analyst warned me, but you were so beautiful I got another analyst. '

L’amour, c’est si simple, Baptiste.
Clue: I used to think that this was the greatest film ever made. I'm not sure now that it isn't. Made in France in 1943-44, during the German Occupation.
Les Enfants du Paradis, directed by Marcel Carné.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Another Forest Canopy

I've finished the greeny blue Forest Canopy now too. It's 15 repeats, and it grew from 45 inches by 24 to 75 inches wide by 36 inches deep. It's much heavier yarn than the first: it's sock yarn (Blue-Faced Leicester sock yarn from Fyberspates) but it must be for boot socks as it's about double knitting weight, and I used 6.5mm needles. I was trying to squeeze another pattern repeat out of the yarn, but I decided to rip it back and make longer pointy bits on the border instead, which I'm very happy with. I had a satisfactorily tiny bit left over.

Australian readers might be amused to see what I used to soak it: this is wonderful stuff, imported to the UK by Lakeland. I think I've got the need to knit a larger shawl out of my system for the moment and I'm willing to go down a needle size or two. Judith suggested the Swallowtail, which I have looked at in the past and thought, 'Oh I couldn't possibly knit that,' but now I'm beginning to wonder. It would suit that Schaefer Anne yarn, which I now seem to have wound into a ball. My new lace needles haven't arrived yet, so I am paused. I'm still intending to do Icarus, just having a dither about the yarn - can't decide whether to do fuzzy or plain.

A commenter in Germany has asked about knitting rips in a sweater. I think the method used in patterns is to make a stitch where you want the bottom of the rip to be, knit it in subsequent rows, and then when it's long enough, drop the stitch and rip it down - it won't rip further than the row where you made it in the first place. I didn't like the appearance of that in All Seasons Cotton, so I just knitted a column of purl stitches instead.

When she Was Knitting has done the Movie Meme. I'm still working on my list for this.

Friday, 11 April 2008

Finished Forest Canopy No 1

I blocked the pink Forest Canopy Shawl, which was started second but finished first, owing to an interruption in yarn supplies.
It came up beautifully, and grew from 36 x 19 to 50 inches wide by 26 inches deep. This still isn't very big, of course, but it's big enough not to look silly. I love the geometric look of this shawl, and how it makes something as floppy as wool take on such a rectangular and regimented appearance. I don't know what I'm going to do with this; I'm tempted to put it in a drawer against next Christmas, but there's a friend's birthday coming up at the end of this month and she might like it.

Honestly, the white sweatshirt in the hanger shot was spotless and gleaming; it's part of the joys of digital photography that it's come up looking so dingy.

I'm on the 16th repeat of the bluey green one now; I would be further on but I had to rip back a couple of rows after a fit of absent-mindedness. The motifs on it are fully half as large again because of the yarn and needle size so it should be more shawl-y and less scarf-y.

I think my next piece is going to be more lace. I'm very tempted by the Flower Basket Shawl, which was in the Fall 2004 issue of Interweave Knits and is also available from Fibertrends. It's quite like the Forest Canopy, but with a more complex main motif so it should be a little more difficult but not terrifyingly so. Or maybe I should s just get on with Icarus. I'll see if any Addi lace needles turn up in the post tomorrow.

Kristin Nicholas's lovely book, Kristin Knits, has been published in the UK under the title of The Knitting Palette. It's a softback (although the Amazon listing for some reason says it's a hardback) and it's full of glorious, inspiring photographs and projects. All of the patterns are designed for Nashua's Julia yarn, a blend of wool, mohair and alapaca, which as far as I can make out isn't available in the UK but a little exploration would probably find satisfactory substitutes - many of the items are scarves, hats or mitts, where gauge isn't so critical. Rowan's Wool Cotton comes in a very wide range of colours as do the Rowan Scottish Tweed yarns, Debbie Bliss's Cashmerinos and Artesano Alpaca. The Scottish Tweeds can be used double if you can't get the right colour in the weight you want.

The patterns include wonderful socks and scarves. not to mention hats and mittens, and some sweaters.

All the charts are in colour rather than having letter codes, and the instructions are laid out in a very clear way.

This is such a refreshing change from those books where the patterns are in tiny print or obscurely laid out, it deserves comment.

I always like stripes.
I have a lot of Wool Cotton left over from a stripy project, so I might rustle something up soon.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Shawls, Presents and Music

Here is the Pink Forest Canopy Shawl when I had finished the last pattern repeat and had just started the final pattern - fully equipped with a lifeline and umpteen markers. Although I had only used one marker, for the centre stitch, when I was doing the shawl, you can see I wasn't going to take any chances. After a couple of sweeps of the border pattern, I removed the markers, but I put in another lifeline after the third sweep (there are four) in the pattern) just in case I ran out of yarn during the cast off. I didn't, and I ended up with quite a respectable leftover - not enough for another pattern, and possibly not enough for another sweep of the border either, although I probably wouldn't have done so well without the wise advice of Spinning Fishwife.

The shawl is blocking as I type. I keep going through to the bedroom and tightening the screws a little bit more. Before blocking it was 36 inches wide and 19 inches deep; I did 15 pattern repeats and had approximately 275 stitches when I started the cast off.

The second skein of Lagoon for the first Forest Canopy arrived, and is the right weight, so I'm beavering away with that now (do beavers knit? I don't think so, but if they did, they would knit very warm, rather rough, sweaters.) It isn't superwash and I think I can detect a difference in the feel but I don't think it's going to look different, or at least not unless someone accidentally boils it. It's funny using 6.5mm needles and heavier yarn, after the 4mm lace needles. I can't find anyone in the UK who stocks Addi lace needles above the 4mm size, so I've bought some from US eBay in 5mm and 6mm. I suspect that true lace knitters never use anything above a 2mm, but I'm a bit of a sucker for a cheap effect.

The lace scarves I knitted as a birthday present have been received with cries of joy and excitement. The Scaruffle will be making a trip to Glyndebourne later in the year, I am assured. Lucky Scaruffle.
I got a wonderful surprise parcel from Kansas City last week. I sent Sweet Knittilicious Spot some fridge magnets and Scottish confectionery last year and she has responded with lots of things to keep me busy. There's some Americana in the form of Betty Crocker cookie mixes and a bottle of Louisana Hot Sauce. There was a jar of peanut butter too but that has found its way to the kitchen already. And there's two balls of Knitpicks in pink and wine, and this. So far I've avoided dyeing for the same reason as I've avoided spinning, because I know it would eat into my knitting time, but this is going to be a marvellous excuse to forget that. I've been busy googling and hope to have a go soon: I don't think Natalie and Jen have anything to worry about, but it should be fun.

She sent me these too. Do you see the beautiful little row counter? It contrasts markedly with my bit of knotted yarn. And heart-shaped stitch markers are my favourite. She has a shop on Etsy with other clever markers, including the ones for Cat Bordhi's sock method. She takes much better photographs of them too, sigh.

I experimented a month or so ago with a piece of software that was meant to play you the music I was listening to while I post. I couldn't get it to work properly but now someone's come up with this. It isn't necessarily what I'm listening to but it's my mix. You don't have to listen to it all (or indeed any of it), but the first track has been stuck in my head for weeks now, since it cropped up on my iPod Shuffle during a train journey. It brings back a part of my life so sharply and it's one of those tunes that makes you think you can sing. I've been listening to Loudon Wainwright so much and for so long that it's quite a surprise to realize that I don't actually know him. This song has a very vivid line about a baby looking out of a pram, makes a real picture in my mind. It's funny how you listen to songs and singers when you're young because of what they're saying about themselves, but when you listen to them again decades later they bring back what was happening to you and you hardly hear the song any more. You can make your own mix here, at muxtape.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Pink Forest Canopy

I started another Forest Canopy after all. I decided this was not the time to start Icarus, without careful yarn selection and considerable thought and preparation. I also thought I didn't want to start Icarus just now because I didn't fancy the Big Boring Bit at the beginning, but it looks like I might have got that wrong.
This is another Fyberspates sock yarn: I've still got the label for this one and it's 75% wool with 25% nylon, but I don't know what the colour is called. Do click. It was in the Sock Club a year or two ago. It's pinks with some lavender and a bit of ginger, hot and sweet, but I think they're close enough to each other that they won't fight and distract from the lace, and they're in short enough bits that they don't pool. The second picture is more accurate for colour and was taken in a flash of sunshine this afternoon. The needles are Addi Lace 4mm circs and I want to be buried with them.

The second skein of Lagoon is on its way, for finishing the first Forest Canopy, and I have a powerful hunch that it is going to be the wrong weight. If I had considered this possibility on Friday, there would have been much gnashing of teeth, but I think I can handle it now. And I might have learnt a valuable lesson; i.e. don't start a project that relies on hand-dyed yarn unless you know you have enough.

I did my first ever piece of lace knitting about 18 months ago (I don't count the acres of Feather and Fan that I did while I was getting my nerve up) and I was in such a hurry to block it and see what it looked like that I tore it off the needles after only 10 repeats, so it's quite tiny. It's Evelyn Clark's Shetland Triangle from Wrap Style, and I did it in Jamieson's Ultra in Iceberg, a pale turquoise. And yes, I have turquoise sheets too. It's that blue thing again.

I have lots of the yarn left over and every now and again I wonder if it would be madness to unpick the cast-off and rip the border, and pick it up again and make a decent-sized shawl. Or would the tension between the old blocked bit and the new bit never even up? I expect not.