Friday, 28 November 2008

Blue, Blue, More Blue and a Little Green

The Habu lesson on Monday was very good. I'm glad I went. I got a little ball of Kasuri Bamboo Tape which I think I will be able to use with the Shosenshi paper, and I am fired to have another go at the Kusha Kusha scarf before I give it up. The workshop gave the necessary clues to deciphering a Japanese pattern, so I should have a better chance of understanding the Setsuko Torii book I bought at the beginning of the year.

I also, quite unintentionally, bought a skein of Old Maiden Aunt's merino sock yarn. It's called Pine, but the greenness reminds me of something else that I can't put my finger on. Terrible photograph.

I didn't mean to buy it, just as I don't intend to knit any more Xmas presents this year, but this just has somebody's name all over it. There's a smidgeon of navy blue on it which made me think of dark blue beads and a little Forest Canopy Shawl, but since then I've been thinking of fingerless gloves rather a lot. Or a cowl? A Forest Canopy Cowl with beads?

The Pinwheel is finished and has been despatched to my friend, the baby's great-aunt. I blocked it with very slight points at the YOs, just enough to give it a bit of movement.
It turns out that this baby isn't Australian as I thought: it's English and is due in December, and is having an Australian cousin in January.
So I may be knitting another Pinwheel for the cousin. It won't be Lorna's Laces Worsted, because the price of anything brought from the US has gone up by 50% since I bought the Hawaii. I have been looking for another superwash 100% wool in the right weight and it isn't easy, but I've found a couple and await a choice being made.

I've been wearing a lot of black this week - no special reason, just feeling dramatic - so I haven't done any fluffy white angora knitting.

I bought a cone of Colourmart cashmere from one of my favourite eBay sellers, cossetter, and swatched a little bit.I've photographed it so close up that it looks like Aran weight, but it's very fine, 4 ply (2/13). I'm not sure what it's for but it's nice to have it.

I also got some laceweight merino from her in the palest pale blue. It's even finer, 2/28,and it's like knitting with a spider's web.
It's not at all a babyish or sweet blue; it's very cool and icy. She has more of it here, and in white too here and here. I'm not sure why I'm telling you this as I want to buy some of the white myself.

The swatches are both Forest Canopy: I wouldn't use such a fine yarn as these for that but I can swatch it now without getting off the sofa and looking for the pattern so that's what I did.

Raveller found this link on the Scottish Screen site to a clip of a Shetland woman blocking a shawl. I can't embed it, but do follow the link. She runs a strand of yarn around the points with a curved needle and then stretches it over wooden pegs in the ground which look as if they are fixtures, outdoors with snow on the ground and a strong wind blowing. The shawl would have been wet and cold too. Her poor cold red hands. I'll think of her next time I'm pinning out a shawl in my heated bedroom.

Some blue sheep have been created for St Andrew's Day.

It's a pity they aren't Blue Faced Leicesters.

For those of you who are already feeling jaded by the downside of Christmas, and fans of the Number 11 Bus, here's a seasonal roundup of Edinburgh scenes.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Scottish Joke

I came across this on LOLCATS tonight and it reminded me of something.

funny pictures of cats with captions

There was a television series some years ago called Scotland on Film which consisted of clips from the Scottish Screen Achive interspersed with clips of people talking about the themes covered. They had tracked down some of the people who were in the clips as children, and got them to talk about what they remembered. It was very interesting and also sometimes very funny.

One woman was reminiscing about a gossip in her town who was the butcher's wife, in the days when game used to hang outside butchers' shop windows, pheasants and droopy rabbits. She said that the wife had a grand view from the shop of everything that was going on - 'keekin' oot atween the rabbits' erses'.

I expect the rest of you can do the translation.

It's worth going to the Archive link and searching on 'knitting' and so on. This is a film from 1939 about rooing, this has a moment of knitting at the beginning, and this is a lovely ad about the virtues of the Knitmaster knitting machine - the women don't sound very Scottish to me, or if they are, they're awfy genteel.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Babies and Brides

I've finished the Pinwheel but this photograph was taken while I was doing the picot bind-off.
I put off starting the bind-off because I was worried that I'd hate it like the first effort and would have to keep looking, but I think it suits the yarn and the pattern very well. I'd forgotten how much I like to do a picot bind-off; it's a very satisfying rhythm and I even manage to count up to 3 and 4 successfully most of the time. I was quite sorry to finish it.

I haven't blocked it yet and will take another photograph when I have. There was quite a bit of yarn left over and I even toyed with the idea of ripping the picot and doing another couple of rows, but then I thought, 'Hat!' If I remember correctly,this is another Antipodean baby so it will need a woolly hat when it's five or six months old, so I did that sort of size instead of a newborn's. It should make a nice set for sitting in a buggy.

Back in the realm of lace, I mentioned to the bride's mother that I could knit the wedding veil and there was a bit of a silence on the telephone, no doubt while she pictured something made in dishcloth cotton, so I shall do some swatches to give her the idea. I know I'm not up to doing something stupendous like the Princess or the Cap Shawl from Victorian Lace Today, but while I was finishing the Pinwheel it occurred to me that it might make a good pattern for a bridal veil, if one used a fine enough silk and a good border. I checked and something like it is on Ravelry, a pattern from Knitter's Magazine.

I also came across lots of Pi Shawls knitted in silk so I shall think about that too. The bride is a gardener so I could probably find some patterns that are fitting; the groom is an accountant so I'm less likely to find anything to represent him. If the bride doesn't want anything lacey knitted for the day, I can always just make her a pretty shawl anyway.

Spinning Fishwife directed me to this lovely find, the Forest Canopy Cowl. I'm pretty sure I see one in my future, possibly even from stash. Yes, of course I've already bought the pattern.

The Barbara Walker Treasury that I bought off eBay arrived; it's the first one so I have stopped fretting about having Volume Two without Volume One. I wonder how long it will be before I absolutely have to have Volume Three.

The Shetland Triangle is coming along too. I put in a lifeline and did one more repeat, but it looks to me as if I can still squeeze in another before I do the border. I'll put in another lifeline first. It's shedding more now that it's grown.

Because I have this Habu event coming up on Monday, I picked up the Kusha Kusha Scarf again, but I'm afraid I also put it back down again too. I'm going to give it one more try on different needles, and if that doesn't work I'm going to give up on this effort. Maybe I should try again using the stainless steel with some Kidsilk Haze: I think that was one of my swatches. I still have a huge skein of grey Shosenshi, so perhaps I'll get moving with that after Monday.

I'm still glued to Between the Lines. They show it on on Sunday and Monday nights, so I have a binge on Tuesday and watch them one after another. The cops aren't smoking so much but the technology is almost as diverting. The lady cop recently opened up her briefcase and took out an enormous mobile phone, about the size of two bricks, and Tony was seen working last week on a - not a laptop because he would have cut off the circulation to his feet if he'd put it on his knee, but a portable computer. I remember we had one at work: it was portable in that it had a handle on it but it weighed a ton because of the battery. I think that was in pre-Windows days and I used to use Wordperfect on it in DOS. I was allowed to get a taxi when I had it because it was too heavy for me to carry to the bus stop.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Steady Progress

I unravelled the edging on the Pinwheel and I'm now knitting it on four circs. This makes it seem bigger in some weird way and I'm thinking of putting it back on one. You can't really see the edging here, unless you click, but it's some garter stitch and I'll finish with a picot bind-off.

Does anyone have a rule of thumb for the yardage for a picot bind-off? Eight times the distance to be cast off? Ten? I'll just be doing a 2 x 4, casting on 2 and casting off 4.

I ripped the angora Shetland Triangle back completely and started all over again. It's very pretty, and delightful to work with. I thought it would make me cough and sneeze, but it hasn't at all. It sheds a bit but that's less of a problem when I'm not wearing a dark purple tee-shirt.

I'm keeping it in a poly bag most of the time but it doesn't seem to pick up dirt very readily. I suppose rabbits don't get dirty easily, so that shouldn't be a surprise. This Raveller got 10 repeats out of the same yarn, so I'm hoping to manage without buying a second ball. Does angora grow much when it's blocked?

The blue and black yarn is Mirasol Miski, Gretchen, and it's 100% baby llama. Five Valleys Fabrics has it at a very good price just now. They have Sulka too. Their shipping charges are extremely reasonable and as I discovered when I bought the first Barbara Walker Treasury off an American eBayer last night, the pound has dropped sharply against the dollar, so if you're in the U.S. you'll get an even better price. I still got a good deal on the Barbara Walker, but not as good as it would have been a couple of weeks ago. 'Sno fair.

I didn't knit my friend's wedding dress, Moorecat. I used to sew a lot and I made wedding dresses for, I think, three of my friends over the years. Two of them were 'proper' wedding dresses, with miles of fabric and hugely complicated interlinings and arcane haberdashery: this one had a long, very full skirt which required 6 metres of horsehair braid around the hem, an item I haven't used since. It was made with two Liberty Tana lawn prints and I remember the fabric cost about 25 pounds, which was nearly a week's salary for me at that time, 1976. Checking the website now, I see that a single metre of Tana Lawn costs £19.95.

I still smoked then and I can remember taking the trouble to keep the ashtray away from the miles of fabric, although I probably puffed while I was doing the hand-sewing. When I made the most recent wedding dress, I no longer smoked, but the bride did and I made her an elegant little matching bag to carry her cigarettes and her hypodermic (she's diabetic).

I'm very flattered that I've got you knitting, Sea. I think knitting hats on two needles is under-rated, and good luck with the ear flaps.

There was a television series here in the early 'nineties called Between the Lines. It was about the cops who snoop on other cops and it was popularly known as 'Between the Sheets' because of the extra-curricular activities of one of the characters, played by Neil Pearson. I didn't watch it - it was on on a night when I was out (remember when you had to be at home and in front of the television in order to watch something?) or I had an irrational dislike of one of the actors, I don't remember, but it's being repeated now on Alibi and I'm hooked. The grittiness of the series is often conveyed through the incessant smoking and almost incessant drinking that goes on; it makes you realize how hard it must have been for actors to learn to do without these props and how they must have had to find other ways of conveying tension.

Friday, 7 November 2008

You've Bought More Yarn?

I didn't get much knitting done on Tuesday night, although I stayed up unconscionably late. I think I couldn't take my eyes off the screen long enough to look at the needles.I watched mostly the BBC, as the CNN coverage required a better knowledge of American geography than I aspire to. The BBC had some good guests; poor Simon Schama was on with the rudest man in the world, who was also in a fury because his side was losing. Being British, I always expect diplomats to be well, diplomatic, but he'd obviously missed the lessons. He reminded me of the Falklands era, when the American Secretary of State said that Lord Carrington was 'a duplicitous b*st*rd', apparently not realizing that that was Lord C's job.

Anyway, all I did was this.
It's the lace border for the lace edged cardigan in Debbie Bliss's Cotton Denim Aran book. I bought an old copy of this off eBay recently and I'm glad I didn't pay the full price for it: it's really badly designed with only one photo of each item and no name on the photo page, or anything that tells you what page the pattern is on. Lovely patterns, though. I immediately went through it with a ballpoint, cross-referencing the pattern and photo pages - nobody at the publisher's could do that? And of course, there are no schematics. I mean, why would you want to know the shape of the piece you're knitting? I know I always complain about DB's books, but it's because I like her designs so much and I Want to Knit Them. I still want to knit this cardi.

Speaking of schematics, I've knitted all the pieces for the little bolero cardi but the sleeves don't fit onto the bodies. I've knitted this twice before with no problems, so it can't be the pattern's fault. I thought of hiding the sleeves I've done and knitting a new one by following the instructions faithfully, but I'm worried that I'll end up with three sleeves that don't fit, sigh. I don't really see what else I can do though.

The reason for the swatch was that I thought I was going to use this border on the Pinwheel, but I've done it a stretch of it and I don't like it.
The lace is completely lost in the colours. So I've ripped it and I'll do something plainer.

This is the Christmas present I'm working on, a Shetland triangle in Orkney Angora.
I've made a substantial booboo already, so I'll have to rip it back to the beginning of the second chart. No, I didn't have a lifeline; I've knitted this before, so I didn't need one, did I? No sniggering at the back, thank you.

Fyberspates is having a sale because she's moving website and home. One of the cool things she's offering is mixed sets of undyed yarn for people who want to play, and there's some lovely lace too.

My copy of Franklin's book of cartoons arrived on Wednesday, when I was trying to come back down to earth. I didn't manage to read it until Thursday, but it's very good: there's a lovely one that has a picture of 'Mr Fassett's sheep'. Make sure you get one in your Christmas stocking. Also, I suppose you've already read it, but just in case not, here's Franklin's priceless account of his opportuning a woman whose baby was wearing a February sweater.

The other thing the postman brought was this.
The colour isn't a plain dark blue, it's dark blue and black, very rich. It's not a for a Forest Canopy, Fishwife, 'cos I didn't buy enough, but I think it might be best knitted up as something quite plain, a 3x3 rib scarf perhaps. If I can just stop rubbing it over my face.

My god-daughter got engaged last week, so I am hoping to be able to indulge in some lace knitting for her. I made her mother's wedding dress (I'll try and dig out a photo) so it would have been lovely if I could make hers, but I'm not really up to it these days and will have to be satisfied with lace. She's allergic to everything under the sun, so it will have to be silk. I don't think she's allergic to that. Perhaps I could make her veil? That would be nice.

Monday, 3 November 2008


I don't know what I'm going to do after Tuesday. For a start, I'll have to go to News Rehab and learn how to live without checking Huff Post incessantly.

I'll have to stop reading Alaskan blogs - except for Kathy's.

I'll have to stop checking YouTube for the latest campaign clips and the latest campaign fun.

I'll have to stop watching news programmes.

No, sorry, I mean I'll have to stop watching SNL.

Things wouldn't be the way they are in Iraq without your Mr B. and our Mr B., so what happens on Tuesday will have repercussions for us too.

I'll have to start taking an interest in British politics again, especially the by-election that we have coming up on Thursday,which is important to Scotland in a way that Westminster by-elections often aren't.

The BBC has actually sent someone up from London to tell us about it.

I'm going to have to get back down to earth. But first of all, I have to decide, should I stay up all night, or get up early on Wednesday morning?

Actually, given the time difference, I could probably get up quite late on Wednesday morning, but I think I'll find it difficult to wait. I remember, in the 1997 UK election, I kept going to bed and getting up again because I couldn't sleep and I had to get just one more news fix. And some of the states with earliest poll closing times of 7 p.m. EST are key battlegrounds - Indiana, Georgia, Virginia, and Kentucky. That's only 2 a.m. here (I think; I always get muddled when the clocks change).

Back on Earth

Spinning Fishwife corrupted me badly on the weekend by linking to some Mirasol bargains and I'm breathlessly awaiting the arrival of four skeins of dark blue Miski, the baby llama yarn.

Franklin's book of knitting cartoons, It Itches, is now available on Amazon UK and a copy is speeding on its way to me. Between cartoons and baby llamas, the postman will be lucky not to get ambushed tomorrow morning.

And what of the Pinwheel, you ask? Thanks very much for all your helpful suggestions, which I am still considering - although I should decide soon because the border would be a good occupation for sitting up late on Tuesday night...

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Exponentially Expanding Information

As if I weren't feeling indecisive enough, I came across a couple more pages of Pinwheels.

Stitch Marker, who is one of the authors of Knitalong, has this page, and this gallery which leads to other blogs.

I've also realized that if I'm going to increase the number of stitches by very much, I'll have to make a serious effort to find my 60" circ.

ADDED: And as Martin, the other author of Knitalong, has pointed out, there's the Flickr group too. I may never make up my mind.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Decision Time

I'm still rolling along here: I keep meaning to pick up something else, but somehow I keep getting back on the hamster wheel and pedalling round.
I'm at the end of the second skein.
Elephant Man shot

I have to choose a border now. Thanks, Judith, for being so emphatic about needing vast quantities of yarn for the border; I suspected that but I probably would have done something silly if you hadn't confirmed it for me. My predictions have worked out quite well, and the diameter is now about 30 inches, which seems OK. I'll do one more round, and then I'll have 50 stitches in each section, 500 in all.

I've been going through the Ravelry pinwheels which actually discuss the border, and peering at the pictures.

The simplest borders are garter stitch or moss stitch (seed stitch): I'd like to do something more interesting than garter stitch, and my moss stitch never works very well. It tends to be saggy and baggy. I could do garter stitch with some YOs to make little holes, but that doesn't seem interesting enough - I'm not saying it's never interesting, I just don't think it's right for this yarn. I think the holes would disappear among all the white.

I thought of making a ruffle by increasing every second stitch, but I thought if I did that twice it might not be deep enough and I might be insane by then, gibbering of stitches and YOs - like I used to get when I was knitting curly whirlies.

A knitted-on-sideways border would be good with the variegated yarn, of course, since the stripes would be at right angles to the existing ones. That would be nice.

I could take the opportunity to learn to crochet and do a crocheted border, but I don't really think should practise with rather expensive yarn on something which is intended as a gift.

Some people have used a Nicky Epstein frill called Belle Epoque, which is in Knitting on the Edge. It's like the bell-shaped frill on the Mrs Beeton Wrist Warmers: I made a pair of these and the frill was a bit insane-making, but very worth it. You increase by 10 stitches over every 8 stitches, which I think means 1,125 stitches before you do the picot cast off. Eeeek. But it does look lovely.

I bought a copy of Greetings from Knit Café recently. When it came out, I thought I could live without it but I keep seeing the Slouchy Cardigan on Ravelry and decided I couldn't. I love unstructured, geometric clothes and I have just the yarn...

although I must finish the Noro Lara first. I couldn't knit that in the hot weather, but that's not a problem any more.

I've been thinking for a while about what to do with the Sulka Scarf I knitted a year ago. I've never worn it and although it's cosy and beautiful, I don't think I will. I might rip it and knit a neckwarmer for my cousin. He lives in Indiana and likes to ride his motorcycle to work, even in the winter.
This is him some years ago, with his Dad's motorbike (and his Mum). I thought something simple, which exploits its warmth, but is sufficiently manly. Maybe this is my chance to learn Fisherman's Rib.