Thursday, 22 October 2009

Post Blocking Puzzle

Helen Raveller had a good idea and suggested that I post a photo of the Puzzle Wrap hanging on the same hanger as before, to show you the post-blocked state. It's crinkled a bit across its width now, instead of fitting exactly, because it's got a bit wider.
Folded, with the crystals still resolutely refusing to twinkle. The crystals I put in Icarus twinkle quite happily, so I don't know what's wrong with these ones.

I've also done one that shows you how it might look when artfully draped.

But I have narrow shoulders and artful draping doesn't always work. We'll see. To recap, this is Sharon Miller's Pink Puzzle Wrap, done in an alternative way with every second row purled so that the pattern turns out much larger and the knitter, if easily confused, doesn't get in such a muddle. It's done in the prescribed yarn, Rowan Kidsilk Haze, in the shade Trance. I had to Photoshop all of these photos because the originals were all too blue, but they're quite close now. I probably shouldn't have made it so long, but I like it and it's better than too short.

I'm going to take the All Seasons Cotton Wrap Top with me, so that I can keep inching up the back. I'm also taking the Golden Gail which isn't finished yet. I wonder if I dare block it at my temporary residence if I finish it in time. I might take something else, maybe Karius, although it isn't much more mentally stimulating than the Wrap Top.

Thanks very much Janet, for the recommendation about The Red Violin. I shall track it down. I caught glimpses of a Chinese version of Hamlet called The Banquet while I was trying to pack, and I want to watch it when I get back. It looked absolutely terrifying. While I was going in and out of the room, I kept hearing the heart-stopping sound of a sword being drawn from its scabbard, and then a dull thud.

That sound has been engraved on my brain ever since I saw La Reine Margot, where it featured rather a lot.

On that cheerful note, I leave you. I'll be back in about a week, although I can't promise when I'll post.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Floaty Finished and Blocked

I blocked the Unfeasibly Floaty Puzzle Wrap last night. This is it folded in half and blocking in a double layer. I thought this might be difficult but in fact the doubleness helped me keep it even.

I will try to get some better lit and more picturesque studies later, perhaps even an action shot when I wear it at the wedding next weekend. It's still much the same length, which is insanely long but will be good when I wear it as a scarf and want to put it in a Fulham Loop - that's a way of tying a pashmina and I can't find a photo to show you what I mean, but here is Paul Bettany wearing a movie star's version.

He must have had a stylist tie that for him, mustn't he?

When I started knitting this, I could only find two of the three balls of Kidsilk Haze in Trance that I thought I had, and I bought another, and then another. Last week, when I was trying to clear a space in the sitting room - not a task to be undertaken lightly - I found the missing ball, which had been ravaged by some extremely luxurious moths. Some balls of 100% wool which were next to it had been ignored so these must have been very extravagant moths indeed, used only to most the sybaritic standard of living. I wonder how they found their way to my flat.

I think I've finished the main body of the Golden Gail, and just need to do the border now. I say 'just', but I shall wait until I have daylight and a clear head. I hope to have it finished and blocked before I set off on Thursday. I will be away for almost a week, and have two longish train journeys, so I have to decide what knitting I should take. The back of the inky blue Wrap Top from All Seasons at the Mill would be practical and it needs a good spell of time put into it, or I could cast on for Kaari with some navy blue Jet I have, or I could pick up the red sandstone cardi again. Or hey, I could cast on an elaborate lace project and have to pack a bag full of charts and magnetic boards and coloured pens. I wonder what it will be.

You must have a look at World Animal Day on the Big Picture.

A zookeeper feeds milk to a newborn baby giraffe at the zoo of Duisburg October 16, 2009. The male giraffe was born on October 3, 2009. (REUTERS/ Ina Fassbender)

Milk farmers squirt milk on riot police during a demonstration outside the European Council headquarters in Brussels, Belgium on October 5, 2009. Milk producers from all over Europe protested against lower selling prices of milk outside a meeting of European Union agriculture ministers trying to tackle a crisis in the dairy sector. (REUTERS/Yves Herman)

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Floaty Puzzle Finished

I've finished the Puzzle Wrap for the second time. It's four repeats longer and has a couple of hundred crystals in it, which are resolutely refusing to twinkle in this photograph.

It's 92 inches long at the monent, which is, em, quite long, but I'm hoping to make it wider in the blocking so it might not grow too much. I think I'll have to block it folded in half: cross your fingers for me.

There's a new adaptation of Emma on BBC just now. I can be very unforgiving about telly Austen but Emma isn't one of my favourites so I'm less impatient about it. And the lead actress is at least trying to look as if she isn't wearing any make-up. Jonny Lee Miller is Mr Knightley and once one gets past his boyish looks, I think it's an interesting interpretation. He is nearly 40, after all. But Mr Elton is too good-looking; I think I would have swapped him with the actor who's playing Frank Churchill. I wouldn't swap Michael Gambon with anyone.

The point of interest here, though, is that there's some nice knitting, although I can't find any photographs of it. Michael Gambon as Mr Woodhouse has a wide grey scarf knitted in alternating bands of garter stitch and seed stitch. I can't work out how it is straight at the sides and doesn't go in and out when the stitch changes. Perhaps it's some very floppily spun wool of great authenticity. Someone else had a rust-coloured scarf knitted in rib, which was rather nice too. I'll look out for photos.

I met another knitblogging Helen last week when she came to Edinburgh for the day. As well as having the same forename and following the same profession, Helen and I both have an Aunt M_______ who lives in the County of N___________ . We managed to talk without interruption from 1.00 till about 5.30, so we must have a lot of other things in common too. There was a brief lull while we investigated K1 Yarns, which had some new things since my last visit, including Reggae Ombre sock yarn with very slow stripes in it and their own K1 Laceweight Linen in absolutely beautiful shades. If I hadn't already bought some fine hemp yarn at Woolfest which remains unknitted, I probably would have got some of that.

I've posted before about the Big Picture site that the Boston Globe maintains, and they've got a series just now about Autumn.

Caitlin Snow, 2, walks through a Gladiator Pumpkins on Wednesday, September 30, 2009 on Connors Farm in Danvers, Massachusetts. Connors Farm owner Robert Connors had to ship the pumpkins in from Michigan because of his low yield this year. Heavy summer rains encouraged black rot (Didymella) and Phytophthora Blight among his crops. (Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff)

They're the usual mix of the expected (but brilliantly executed) and the staggering but I thought this one was particularly relevant to a woolly blog.

A shepherd leads his herd to grazing grounds down from the mountains along a tunnel in Zakinskaya hollow, about 70 km (44 miles) south of Vladikavkaz, Russia on October 5, 2009. (REUTERS/Kazbek Basayev)
I think one of those sheep is a sheep dog - click through to see it more clearly. And do go to the site to see the whole series - definitely worth taking a moment.

Monday, 5 October 2009

At Last, Reversible Knitting

I finished unravelling the end of the Puzzle Wrap (I only resorted to scissors once although I resorted to bad language more often) and I've started adding the beads. I'm not doing a huge number and I'm not doing them in a very thorough way, more a bit of twinkle. I can't get a decent photograph. They're very small Swarovski crystals, no colour but an aurora borealis coating so that they sparkle amazingly. The bride's mother is convinced that it will rain steadily all day, so sparkly dew drops could be an appropriate look.

The trouble is, Reversible Knitting arrived at the same time as the beads and I am almost unable to put that down - I don't know which way to turn. There isn't much point in my reproducing any of the photos that are available on Grumperina's thorough review, but here is an item that isn't.

Reversible lice - how clever is that?

And a reversible hat. I haven't done any swatching yet because I Must Finish the Puzzle Wrap and if at all possible the ivory and gold Gail as well, but I haven't been able to resist quite lot of peeking.

The book is beautifully put together, of course - clear instructions and clear photographs and something I noticed on my third or fourth run-through - the different types of stitches are shown on different colours of background. Picked Up against avocado, Openwork against orange and so on. The colours of the book are really juicy, and follow through into the colours of the garments in the pattern section: the whole book is designed around the same colours, very harmonious. I don't think I've seen that done before.

This Faux Wrap was designed by Lily Chin. The cables are reversible so that the cuffs can be worn down and long, or folded and three-quarter length, and the collar can be worn high and buttoned, or open.

I am just boggled by how Lynne Barr's mind must work. I'm very poor at visualization and find it extremely difficult to think in three dimensions: she must have an extra ration of whatever it is that I'm lacking. I wonder how far she can model these designs in her head before she picks up the needles.

Gail photos
I thought that language might be Portuguese, Mary Lou, but I didn't want to risk getting it wrong. I used to have a Brazilian friend whom I could have asked, but I went on holiday with her once and we haven't spoken since.

I was wakened this morning by someone delivering a parcel (no, it wasn't wool; it was one of my other weaknesses) and while I was signing the thingie, he said, 'Have you had a fire in the stair*?' I said no, and he remarked that there was a strong smell of burning. I muttered something about checking and he said something sensible about always best to be on the safe side, so after he'd gone I couldn't quite sneak back to bed as I had planned. It was mostly the smell of burnt food but with a plasticky element. I put some clothes on because I hate talking to the fire brigade in my dressing gown, and I texted one of my neighbours. I didn't get a reply from her so I started trooping up and down stairs sniffing at letterboxes. I don't know if you've ever done that, but it's not something you want to be caught doing.

I was fairly sure it was one of the ground-floor flats and I hammered and knocked for a while to no answer, which wasn't very encouraging. I hadn't heard from the neighbour I'd texted so I started to visualize her unconscious in a haze of smoke but her letterbox was pristine. I can vouch for it.

So I rang 999 and there was all the clanging and nee-nawing and so on, and they knocked on the ground-floor door and this time, she answered. It turned out she had burned her supper at about three in the morning: she must have burned the handle of the pan too, given the plasticky element. My other neighbour appeared and said she'd been in the shower when I texted. She also said that the supper-burning neighbour never answers the door, so that's useful to know.

I apologised to the firemen - I know it's not necessary but one feels such a fool - and they left after they'd checked up and down the stair (I didn't catch them sniffing letterboxes but they have little meters that tell them what sort of smoke it is).

So that was an exciting start to the week. I hope the rest of it is less dramatic and that I don't have to get dressed in a hurry again.

'Stair' is the Scottish term for all the flats on a single staircase, sort of equivalent to 'block'.