Thursday, 29 May 2008

More Meme

Lee's tagged me for a meme. I tend to be one of the less revealing bloggers, I think, so this is torture for me, but on the principle that torture is probably good for the soul, I will oblige.

I have to answer all the questions and then tag six more people by listing their names and adding comments on their blogs. And I have to let Lee know I've done this. I should be able to handle that.

What was I doing 10 years ago? I was working at a job which seemed in many ways to be what my confused attempts at a career had been delivering me towards. It demanded the assortment of qualifications and skills I had acquired and was very innovative; I found it hugely satisfying. (You can tell there's a 'but' coming.) But, I had to do it in very difficult circumstances, battling with people who were prepared to behave pretty badly in an environment which didn't exactly reward team efforts. I shall say no more. I was also getting ill, a fact which I thought I could ignore or work around. I was living around the corner from Jean Miles, although I didn't know that at the time. I wasn't knitting, but I was sewing, making most of my own clothes.

What are five things on my to-do list today? Five? That's a bit ambitious. I have an appointment with the chiropodist, but you probably don't want to know too much about that. I want to drop into John Lewis and pick up some Noro Silk Garden for my second Lara jacket. I got some gift vouchers recently which are going to progress that project. I absolutely must start tidying up so that the broadband man can get at the back of the cable box. Something that you probably want to know even less about than the chiropodist is that everyone in Lothian of a certain age got a bowel cancer screening kit through the post recently; no matter how grown-up and serious I try to be about this, it's very hard not to end up giggling childishly at the contortions it requires - well, it's very hard for me. It's a pity they're not asking children to do it; they would enjoy it enormously. That's four things. I have to ring some friends who called me last week whom I haven't got back to yet - I want to as well as have to, so I will.

What snacks do I enjoy? Toast, toast, toast. And toasted bagels and toasted crumpets and toasted rolls. Toast contains more calories than bread because of the caramelised sugars, which I think is very unfair. I used to eat a lot of crisps (chips) but I settled on a drastically low-fat diet some years ago so they had to go. There is no such thing as a low-fat crisp, whatever they tell you. There may be not-quite-so-high-fat crisps, but there are no low-fat ones. The thing I like best on my toast is Marmite;I was always a fat-and-salt sort of a girl, not a sweet girl. Mmmmm, olives.

Where are some places I've lived? Edinburgh, Shortlands (we didn't live in the railway station but my Dad got the train up to London every day to work in Fleet Street), Loanhead (that's me at the Gala Day circa 1956, after all the crowds have gone and pies have been eaten. We got a bottle of milk each, and a paper bag containing a mutton pie and a bun, if I remember correctly. There was a story one year that a girl found a worm in her milk, but looking back I think that's probably not true.),
Leith, Paddington, Wimbledon, Edinburgh again, and now Leith again. I now live round the corner from the Woolworths that I used to mooch around after school while my friend stole bars of chocolate. I didn't and was terrified she would get caught.

What things would I do if I were a billionaire? Free beer for all the workers, for a start. After that, I think my benevolence would be directed towards socio-medical ends; you can't have too much clean water, I always say, and it would be good to fund research which solved the mystery of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It would be nice if all those earnest articles went the way of the discussions about what sort of people got tuberculosis.

Who shall I tag? Well, I've lost my bloglist at the moment so it's hard to remember. Can I add them later, Lee?

ADDED: I've tagged Jean, Vivienne, Jessie and Kathy.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Hello, my baby; Hello, my honey

Well, Firefox is still providing a bit of entertainment and occupation. This morning it had completely re-set itself and forgotten everything it ever knew about me - I can't blame it entirely, because last night my old pc had yet another of its fainting fits and that probably did something dramatic. The good news is that AdBlock is working now, so I can stand to look at LOLCATS again. Life without LOLCATS has been very dull.


Firefox has thrown away all my bookmarks, but strangely it's kept all the URLs in the dropdown list at the thingmy - what's it called? The bit where you type in the URL? It's a bit like actually having amnesia yourself, when your browser forgets everything. What sites do I have on my home page? What blogs do I read? D*mned if I know.

Sad news about Sydney Pollack. Don't you love this photograph?

And did you manage to look at this without saying, 'I had a farm in A-a-a-a-frica,' in your Meryl Streep voice?

Tootsie is a film that I wasn't mad about when it came out, but which I feel warmer towards as time passes. I felt at the time that I didn't need men in Hollywood to bring feminist issues to my attention, whereas now I just enjoy the jokes. I love movies that are set behind the scenes in tv or films - Living in Oblivion, the first film I saw Steve Buscemi in (follow the photos link for some shots of Brad and Gwynnie at the premiere, quite funny), Day for Night, and Soapdish. There are always a lot of in jokes and you feel that the actors are enjoying themselves even if a lot of the jokes are about actors' vanity. I expect they're so vain they don't care.

On the subject of film trivia and feminism, I watched A Murder of Quality last night, an old television production of a John le Carré story. Lots of wonderful actors including Glenda Jackson and Denholm Elliott, and a very young Christian Bale, aged about 16 or 17. I was cruising around IMDB following up this and that, and I came across the fact that Christian Bale's father was married to Gloria Steinem. Eh? Well, no reason why he shouldn't have been, but still.

Monday, 26 May 2008

My Widget Isn't Working

Sorry about the long silence but I've not been at my pc as much as usual so I've had less opportunity for blogging. Partly this is because as I said in my last post, AdBlock isn't working and I've lost my Sage RSS reader so I'm feeling somewhat lost. I suspect this has something to do with the advent of Firefox 3. Did I download it? Well, I might have and I'm perfectly capable of having forgotten, but according to the Help, I've still got Version As also aforesaid, I wasn't greatly inclined to do anything about this as I've got a new pc and I was just going to start afresh with my new pc, rather than fix this one and then do it all over again on the new one.

But when I started to set up the new one, there's a problem with the monitor. Or, at least, it looks like it might be the monitor or it might be the pc. The pc thinks it's a CRT monitor when actually it's an LCD; is this because the pc's being silly, or is the monitor giving it misleading information? I rang Support today and spoke to someone for 17 minutes and in the course of that time he told me two things about the monitor which I later discovered to be wrong. They would like me to bring the monitor in so that they can check it with another pc and see where the fault lies. I said I would, but now I'm wondering.

On a more positive note, I rang my ISP today to ask why I was paying so much for my service when they're making spectacular offers to new customers, and wangled myself a substantial reduction in my subscription and an increase in my broadband speed - woohoo. I also asked about getting my new pc online and was given a bizarre answer, but it was accompanied by a £10 reduction in this month's bill so I agreed to it to give myself time to think.

On the negative side again, my downstairs neighbour has a leak in her kitchen which appears to be from my bathroom - this has no connection with the February leaks and will require another investigation and no doubt another ghastly bill. The only upside of this is that the leak is dripping into her kitchen sink so at least it's not causing major devastation.

As you can imagine, this has left little time for knitting, apart from the odd row carried out with clenched teeth while waiting for a pc to boot or someone to answer the phone. Oh, and Knitting Lace Triangles has arrived. It's as lovely as I'd hoped, the perfect mix between maths and lace, and I've already pretty well decided what patterns I'm going to use. I think I'll do a shawl for the Australian baby - this enterprising spinner is sending me two samples of appropriate yarns and I'll try them out next weekend. She also has an Etsy shop, All the Pretty Fibers. I think I'll go and do a repeat of the Swallowtail and think calming thoughts.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Not Much To Show For It

No new knitting to see here. I've done a few more repeats on the Swallowtail. I was already concerned about whether I would get a worthwhile shawl in terms of size out of one skein of Malabrigo Lace, so thanks for the confirmation, Lee. I've ordered another one, but I took a deep breath and ordered a different colour, a turquoise. (Which reminds me, does anyone know what the most frequently mis-spelt word on eBay is? I think it must be 'embroidered' or 'turquoise' but that probably reflects my browsing. 'Bargin' is one that always surprises me; you would think that people who were into bargains would notice that, but apparently not.)

Anyway, I do have concerns about the Azul Profundo being very light-absorbing and although I don't always like the way stripes look on shawls - if the colour doesn't follow the pattern - I'm hoping I can make it work. I will change the colour when the next stitch pattern starts, or I might have alternating colours in the budding lace pattern - or would that look naff? (For visitors, 'naff' is a difficult word to translate, but 'tacky' comes quite close in this context. Although Wikipedia doesn't say so, the derivation used to be said to be from 'Not Awfully Fine', but I don't expect that's much help.)

And I'm inching along with Chrissy, which seems to get wider every time I look at it. I've finished the back and am almost finished the front; I expect the sleeves will be enormous too. It's been eating yarn in vast quantities.

I've been colliding with technology lately, usually to my detriment. I was updating my iPod Shuffle yesterday when suddenly, without so much as a by-your-leave or an are-you-sure, it cleared itself. Not an insurmountable problem as I was making some changes anyway, but a bit of a shock. And then today I discovered that all my Sage blog feeds have disappeared and AdBlock isn't working. Aaaaargh. The last two are presumably related to each other. I've just got a new pc which I haven't set up yet so I'll just start over with that one and not try to tidy up here, but it does pull the rug from under your feet, doesn't it? I'll have to get to grips with Vista on the new pc so that should keep me busy.

You may remember that Jean and Spinning Fishwife and I visited K1 Yarns's shop in Edinburgh a while ago and failed to come away empty-handed. At the end of this month, K1 is having a visit from Jen of Fyberspates - Saturday 31st May in Glasgow and Sunday 1st June in Edinburgh. I've got it in my diary already. Both my Forest Canopy Shawls are knitted with her yarn - which one should I wear?

All of the photos above are from this book, which I picked this up the other day in a remainder place for £4.99 It's still listed at the full price on Amazon, but with a different cover and SBN. Do you think they might have dumped it because of the cover? Zoe Mellor is one of the best children's knitwear designers, I think, and I can't understand how someone could look at all those unbearably cute little togs and select that photo. In context in the book, the mittens look little and dainty, but on the cover the picture has been enlarged and there are no clues as to scale, so there is no way that you can tell they aren't adult mittens - they're actually larger than life size. I threw away my youth on a graphic designer and I worked for a while for a publisher and met some book designers, and I know they're not thoughtless people, so there must have been a reason. I think. Maybe they were working ahead of a long production schedule and nothing else had been photographed.

If you're thinking of buying it, I think this might be an updated version; it has more patterns but that stripy hoodie is on the cover.

One the subject of books, Alice Starmore's Tudor Roses went for nearly £80 on eBay this week, which I think is as might be expected; and Poetry in Stitches fetched nearly $170 recently. Rather more surprisingly, Rowan's current Tapestry booklet went for £17, in spite of being widely available for £5.95. Two people seem to have got into a bidding war.

Since I started this post. I've discovered that Firefox has released version 3.0, which is presumably the cause of some of my above-mentioned problems. Phew. I shall just wait and let them sort it out.

It still doesn't explain why my Shuffle sneezed though. For the interested, I now have a second muxtape. I tried to make this one a different theme, but it was soon overtaken by the usual suspects. Ry, Loudon and John, where would I be without you?

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Malabrigo Lace Swallowtail

I had barely clicked on 'Post' for the last entry when I remembered the pattern that I abandoned because the Schaefer Anne yarn was too busy and realized that it was perfect for the Malabrigo. So I cast on for a Swallowtail Shawl.
Bottle of matching nail polish included for scale. This is Malabrigo Lace, Gretchen, 100% wool. The label in the photo in the previous post is 3.5 inches long, so the Malabrigo mouse must have been about 5 inches long. It is miraculously soft, but actually I think I prefer the weight I used for this scarf. In laceweight it doesn't have much spring or sproing. It's going to be beautifully soft to wear, but I like something that has bit of twang on the needles. I'm not having to check the charts any more (although that may be why the second last block of budding lace has an extra row in it) and it's satisfying to do. I have been making progress on this and not doing the Trellis, because the Trellis makes me feel stupid. I know I'll return to it, but it's nice to have a break.

This darkish blue absolutely soaks up light and I'm thinking I might put some beads towards the edge to brighten it, but I should probably wait and see if I can follow the charts before I start getting any big ideas.

I've been trying to resist buying a copy of Evelyn A. Clark's Knitting Lace Triangles, but I finally cracked and ordered one today. The mathematical progression of these designs appeals to my obsessive side, and I love this one that Brouhaha made. I was resisting the book because I have some Evelyn Clark patterns that I haven't knitted yet, but I decided that I wasn't going to let that hold me back any longer. After all, it never has before.

The baby that I knitted these hats for is going to have a cousin in October. The cousin will be of Scottish, English, Italian and Australian descent so that gives me lots of options. I was thinking about a shawl and I found some yarn that is 50% Shetland and 50% merino and I thought that would be good if the merino is Australian. It would be even better if the yarn were processed in Italy but that's probably too much to hope for. The baby daddy is a keen, one might almost say fanatical, supporter of Newcastle United FC but even he might draw the line at vertical black and white stripes on a baby. I could make this hat in the colours of the Italian tricolour by adding in some red.

I watched The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford last week. I know some people have complained about it being slow but I enjoyed the way that it took the time to tell its story. I don't think it would have benefited from being told in the usual 90 minutes; the extra time was needed to build up the tension. I thought the historical feel was well done, and that the characters avoided that freshly washed and coiffed look which so often brings down period films. Casey Affleck has such a pretty face that I think I've overlooked his acting abilities in the past but he was very good in this. Garret Dillahunt, whom I couldn't have put a name to, turned in one of those performances that leaves you worrying about the character for the next day or two, because of his fragility; he kept coming back to me and I had to keep reminding myself that he wasn't a real person. I think the film left open the moral questions effectively, but I won't say any more about that in case you haven't seen it yet - you may think you know what happens at the end but there are still some surprises.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

The Trellis Continues, Slowly

Well, I didn't start another Forest Canopy on the weekend. I have been progressing slowly with the Trellis. Thank you very much for the reassurances about knitting lace and staring at charts; it made me feel much better about my lack of progress. I am feeling more on top of the pattern now and am enjoying it a bit more and enduring it a bit less; I'm fairly confident that I will finish it and like it. I still love the look of the yarn. But it doesn't have me by the throat the way that the FC did.

The Forest Canopy pattern is available here, by the way, Sea. One of the links on Sea's blog is to this, the "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks, which has taken up an undue amount of my time. Connoisseurs of fine punctuation should check it out.

On Friday I received an item of mail that looked like a mouse in a jiffy bag (padded envelope). I couldn't remember buying a mouse on eBay but it was still a very pleasant surprise to open it up and find this instead. I hadn't expected it to be so tiny.
I was planning to use it for Boing!, but I was expecting it to be a semi-solid, and I want a bit of variegation in my Boing! so although I've wound it into a ball, I haven't cast on.

And thank you too for the offers to supply Kool Aid. Actually, Kool Aid is available in the UK; it's just that it's easy to get Grape and Cherry and Strawberry, but not so easy to track down Ice Blue Raspberry and other exotica. And I do tend to turn to eBay as my first line of supply for a lot of things. It's easier to pay and sellers are more likely to charge actual shipping than online shops who have a fixed delivery charge. I'm a bit tempted to accept your offer, Kathy, just so that I can say, 'Oh I always get my Kool Aid sent from Alaska; it's quite the best sort.' Pretentious, moi? But I have tracked down some of the elusive Ice Blue Raspberry in Norfolk, so I should have everything I need soon.

Today I watched the whole of the first series of Gavin and Stacey on dvd; and then I watched some of it over again, so I'm typing this with a Welsh accent in my head. I won't lie to you, it's very distracting.

But I am still looking for another lace pattern that will grab me by the hair and compel me in the way that the FC did. Maybe a Flower Basket.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Yet another start

I think some of you might start to lose patience just about now. I think there might be some sharp intakes of breath or a muttered, 'Oh, for goodness' sake.'

I have started the Schaefer Anne in another pattern. I didn't rip the Argosy, because I wasn't entirely sure it was wrong and I wanted to keep the option of going back to it; I cut the yarn. It took me about 24 hours to work up the resolve to do that, and then I started on Evelyn Clark's Trellis Scarf from Interweave Knits, Spring 2006, which I've loved since I saw it here.

I'm enjoying it, not hating it, but I have to confess that the effort it costs me in concentration and unpicking doesn't really seem balanced by the result. It has taken me days to get this far. The bit where you knit into seven stitches three times, plus yarnovers, isn't bad at all, probably thanks to the Addi lace needles (5mm), but I am still having to check every stitch of the pattern. Yet again, I am faced with the fact that I am not one of nature's lace knitters.

I love how it looks, and at last I'm sure I've found a stitch pattern that works with the yarn, but am I going to struggle through all the other agonizing rows that are required to complete it? Maybe once I do another couple of repeats, I will begin to be able to read the pattern and I will speed up a bit.

Actually, in between struggling with this and progressing diligently with Chrissy, a small but persistent voice is suggesting that I start another Forest Canopy. That pattern seems to strike some deep chord with me and I catch sight of skeins that are calling to me. Will I get through the weekend without casting on? I doubt it. Spinning Fishwife is attempting to corrupt me further by drawing my attention to this, which is lovely too. It wouldn't suit the Anne, but I have some Jaggerspun Zephyr which is on my conscience.

Presumably not enough on my conscience, as I bought a skein of Malabrigo Lace this morning. The Grumpy Ewe is selling it from the UK, on eBay, and since Malabrigo can be so hard to get here I felt I had a moral obligation to support her. I do, don't I? She has the regular Merino and some Silky Merino too.

And yes, Mary Lou, I love Beauty and the Beast too. And Testament d'Orphée. Did anybody ever look so killingly chic as Maria Casares and Jean Marais?

Natalie asked me whether I've tried the Kool Aid yet. I'm waiting for some blue and green to arrive from the U.S. I've also found myself doing late night searches, combing eBay for a single pack of Arctic Apple Green or Ice Blue Raspberry, but it dawned on me belatedly that I can mix and dilute the colours so I'm not worrying about that any more.