Thursday, 27 August 2009

Anhinga At Last

You'll be relieved to hear that I've finished Anhinga. I unpicked the seam and re-did it, and I'm fairly happy with it. I have modelled it, Janet, but you'll have to go the Ravelry for that treat. I think in the end that I wasn't sufficiently experienced with the Rowan Bamboo Tape and I made mistakes with that, especially in the seaming, which have let the pattern down. Thanks for the suggestion about sewing it with a different yarn, Sea, but the principle of seaming with the same yarn is deeply ingrained in me. I want to knit it again in wool, maybe even in a semi-solid or slightly variegated yarn, and probably in the next size up. I would like to knit something else in the Tape too before too long.

I finished and blocked the off-blog project.

Susan wins a coconut because she correctly identified the Queen Anne's Lace Shawl. This was intended as a wedding veil but I've decided it's a christening shawl. No, the bride isn't pregnant :) It's just that I don't think she's keen and I'm backing off: brides have quite enough people contributing bright ideas about what they should wear / sing / say / do on their wedding days and I don't want to add to the clamour.

So I'll put it away for a year or two and I can produce it with a flourish when the time comes. I made her christening robe when she was a baby and I dare say it's been stashed away somewhere, so they'll make a good set.

I made it from Henry's Attic 20/2 Spun Silk: I bought 1000 yards and I've got 27 grams left - seriously, I used about three quarters of it. I used a 3mm Addi Lace circ. I bought special hand-made silver ring stitch markers from Spindle Cat Studio and they worked very well, didn't make holes at the pattern-joins and didn't catch on anything. It blocked to 35 inches wide.

The pattern is easy to follow and the massive task is chopped into very manageable chunks. The only thing I found confusing was that the charts omit plain rows, but I got round this by marking them in large red letters before I started. I couldn't actually see what I was doing, i.e. read the row below, until the last section, so I was quite relieved that a pattern emerged when it was blocked. When I'm making a triangular shawl I never start a row unless I'm sure I'll have time to finish it, but because of the spiral nature of this, I could pick it up and do a couple of segments any time, although in practice I usually did a few rows at a time because I was enjoying it so much.

I absolutely loved knitting this; I never regarded it as a chore. I abandoned things I should have been doing; I took my glassses off and ignored the television so that I could peer at it more intently; and I made the larger version so that I could work on it longer. I would knit it again tomorrow.

I have another navy blue project in mind, which I was about to start when I got swept off my feet by Anhinga, and I may cast that on soon, but meanwhile I got sidetracked by a skein of Kidsilk Haze. Oooooh, fluffy.

This is Sharon Miller's Pink Puzzle Wrap pattern, which Jean very generously gave me some time ago. I cast it on at the time, and then quietly put it away - the pattern is written as knitted lace and my poor brain shut down on the return rows. However, since then I have noticed that Sharon says you can do it with purl return rows and that's what I'm doing. It makes the diamond shapes much larger and I like the rhythm of Thinking and Not Thinking which it requires. It's Rowan Kidsilk Haze in Trance which is impossible to photograph but is a bluey green. Or perhaps it's a greeny blue. It depends.

I'm making the narrower version and it's 23 inches wide now. I expect it will block wider. It is quite insanely fluffy and floaty and it's for me.

I see there's a new version of Wuthering Heights coming up on ITV. I'm not a Bronte fan at the best of times, and I see Cathy Earnshaw has injected lips and carefully tended eyebrows

so I think I shall save my blood pressure and watch something else. He has to be the wettest Heathcliff I've seen for some time.

I shall stick to watching the episodes of Wallander from Swedish television which are being shown on BBC4 just now. In the episode Fotografen, Krister Henriksson turned in possibly the best bit of drunk acting I've ever seen (and the victim's husband was played by the chap from Poldark, which was distracting for those of us with an eye for trivia) and all of them are spellbinding. Perhaps the best thing on British television at the moment is Swedish televison. Or is that mean?

I'm so glad you liked Cinema Paradiso, Mary G. and even more that you left a comment. I sometimes pore over my Google stats and wonder just who those dots represent, so it's nice to put a name to a dot.

Speaking of Google, that thing they do of tracking what you're looking at and then posting ads that match is driving me nuts. Certain items that I've looked at online are now cropping up in endless permutations on other sites. I'm looking for an item of furniture just now - I won't name it here because that'll only make things worse - so I looked at examples on a certain website - ditto - and now, every time I go to IMDB or whatever, ads for those products start revolving around the periphery of the page - the items that I decided not to buy because they were the wrong size, or the wrong colour or because I didn't like them, are pursuing me in perpetuity. Aaargh. How do I make it stop?

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

A Break from Knitting

A friend of mine came up with this celebration of the present relations between Scotland and the U.S.A., as represented by some of the media.

The Royal Air Force has been bumped from doing the nightly flypast at the Edinburgh Military tattoo and the USAF has stepped in.

Hope it's not true. Normal knitting service will be resumed shortly.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009


If you can't stand to read another post about Anhinga, talk amongst yourselves.

I think I've worked out what the problem is. I wore the sweater yesterday afternoon and evening and it grew quite a lot, which revealed that the seam between the flap and the left side showed up as quite short. The 'seam' between the flap and right side is false - it's created by picking up stutches on the other side - but the one on the left creates some of the tension that makes the construction work. This wouldn't be a good pattern to do in the round, except maybe for the sleeves, because it relies on the construction to make it do its thing.

That was the first seam I did and had quite a lot of trouble with because sewing with Rowan Bamboo Tape was a new skill (can you hear my clenched teeth?); I probably made it too tight. I’ve wet the jumper again but when it’s dry I’ll unpick that seam and sew it up again more loosely. That will stretch that edge a little which in turn will pull up the lower edge. She’s a clever girl, that Norah Gaughan.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Not Quite There Yet, and Lace

You'll have noticed that there hasn't been a rapturous post about Anhinga. Well, first of all it took ages to dry. I had been too cautious when I spun it and it was pretty wet, plus the continuing high humidity here means that nothing's drying very well. I suppose the bamboo was just soaking up the moisture again from the air as fast as it was drying.

Anyway, I finally tried it on last night and the flap at the front has gone funny: it's all long and well, flappy. This can't be the pattern's fault because none of the others on Ravelry have done it, and it can't be the yarn's fault because Smashing Puffin's didn't do it; so I suppose it must be my fault. It might be the way I dried it. I'm going to wet it again, and this time I'll give it a fast spin and it should dry faster: I think the sheer weight of it while sopping may have stretched it. I suppose I could use the tumble-drier but I usually only use that in cases of national emergency.

But I do love it and I'm going to do a woollen one for the winter: I think I'll make it the next size up. I have some Jaeger Matchmaker Aran in Flannel grey and I'm trying to decide between how it works on 4mm needles and on 4.5mm.

I'm casting off the off-blog project. Click to see all those tiny, tiny stitches.

It's been re-purposed, and I think the person that I thought might be reading my blog isn't, so I'll let you see it when it's been blocked and tell you more about it.

And look what I got.

It's a custom order I placed with Fyberspates, pure silk in ivory, honey and gold. It arrived with perfect timing, as I was casting off the above lace. This has been re-purposed a couple of times since I had the original idea, but it's probably going to be a Nightsongs shawl, and not for me.

Jeni's business is taking off in a big way so she isn't doing any more custom orders; I feel so lucky to have scraped in with this one.

Friday, 14 August 2009


I've just told myself that I can't go to bed tonight until I've finished sewing Anhinga together.

EDITED at 02.31.

I didn't say I had to weave in all the ends.

Thursday, 13 August 2009


I still haven't finished Anhinga, but I tried it on this afternoon in a very unfinished sleeveless, seamless state and I'm much happier: I think it's going to be great. It's taken me far too long. My concentration is really bad just now: I keep sitting down and thinking, 'I'll just finish this sleeve / front / collar,' and the next thing I know I'm back at the computer or reading a mail order catalogue or washing the dishes or knitting a swatch in some other yarn - or writing a blog post - and the thing isn't done.

I watched Cinema Paradiso again at the weekend. I haven't watched it for ages which is odd because it's in my Top Five. I prefer the original version to the director's cut (I'm a philistine, I know) because I'm more interested in the little boy's story than the love story, which I find goes on a bit. I think the little boy is the best actor of the three who play the main character too.

If you haven't seen it, it begins in a village in Sicily after World War II and is about a fatherless boy who gows up to be a film director after adopting the local cinema projectionist, played by the great Philipe Noiret. It's a potted history of Italian cinema too, if you're quick enough to recognize the clips, which we watch with the local audience. My father said that the streets of the mining village where he grew up were deserted at night for weeks after The Mummy was shown because the children were too scared to come out and play after dark, and my stepfather, who grew up in a poor part of Glasgow, could remember going to the pictures as a child - this would be in the 1930s - when the audience was sprayed with disinfectant during the interval between the films. That was why cinemas were known as fleapits. Paradiso covers the same sort of ground, but in Italy.

It has some of the most magical moments in cinema - one scene is one of the most magical scenes from my life and I wasn't even there: it is one of my great regrets that I have never stood in an Italian village square at night and watched a film projected on a gable wall, but at least I've seen it in this film.

One of the episodes from village life is when the village priest watches the films before they are shown and censors them - especially the kisses. I don't think I'll be spoiling anything for you if I show you this bit from the end of the film - there's a lot goes on in between - when someone gives the grown up hero a can of film.

If you haven't seen it, rent it this weekend.

Monday, 10 August 2009

The Exciting Bit

Anhinga has reached the exciting bit.

I am knitting the flap.

The fronts and flap have taken me longer than they should; I can't really understand how they took the whole weekend, but anyway I'm decreasing now and the tension is mounting.

Actually, I'm worrying that this isn't going to turn out well: I think this is Chrissy's fault, because I haven't got over how that turned out and I haven't had another go at doing the neck, which I should have done by now. It is causing Fear of Finishing, which in turn is induced by an old friend which has been identified and named by Knit Forwards, to be known henceforward as Post Knitting Disappointment Disorder. This is breakthrough work on her part and should be recognized as such, that awful moment when the garment you thought you were knitting turns into the garment you were actually knitting.

I am telling myself that it's a beautiful colour, a steely midnight blue, and the humidity here (93%) would make anyone feel doomy, and it'll all be lovely when it's done. Won't it?

To cheer us up, here's another little bit from Cosi fan tutte; again there are no subtitles, but we can guess what's going on.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Pretty Blue Yarn, Again

I had reached the shaping on the second sleeve of Anhinga on Saturday when I stood up from the sofa and didn't notice that the Bamboo Tape had cunningly wrapped itself around my ankle. I nearly broke my neck, and all the cast off stitches unravelled and then ripped down another couple of rows at one end. You can imagine which I was more annoyed about.

Anyway, both sleeves are finished now and we move on to the exciting bit, the front. I've started the left front and reached that dangerous moment where it says, ' the same time...' so I'm having a little lace break.

I did a slightly terrible thing last week and fell from grace over the matter of yarn purchases. I''ve been pretty good lately (Woolfest doesn't count, honestly) and have even successfully banned myself from getting any more Bamboo Tape from Kemp's until I know what I'm going to do with it, but Wendy at Wendy Knits has been working on a new circular shawl pattern and she used a greeny blue yarn - how could I resist photographs like these? It's Ella Rae 100% Merino from the Loopy Ewe, in Seven Seas, and it's sock yarn, not lace.

The only thing I can say in my defence is that I only got one skein, not the three required for the circular shawl. That's something, isn't it?

My niece has had to spend a great deal of time recently on the telephone to two companies about a problem with her laptop, and her four-year-old has now taken to walking around with her toy mobile saying firmly, 'No, it isn't you I want to speak to, it's the other guy,' and 'But that doesn't answer my question, that doesn't tell me what I need to know.' Snort.