Wednesday, 30 December 2009

A Pink Post

Thank you for all the nice Christmas wishes. I have completed all the answers to the Movie Quiz, if you want to check them and smite your foreheads. Do watch the clip from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes if you need cheering up. Lee and Mary G. came tops.

I have completely lost track of what day it is. We seemed to have three Sundays in a row, and then my visitors who were meant to come on Monday couldn't because of the weather, and they arrived on Tuesday instead.

We got cups of tea and mince pies and then settled down to opening the presents.

Silence fell.

I got a couple of nice knitting books, Erika Knight's Classic Knits and the first Mason-Dixon Knitting book, the Curious Knitter's Guide. I don't know why I didn't get this sooner; I won't wait so long to get the second one.

I also got a pink polka dot measuring tape, which pleases me inordinately.

And I had the piquant pleasure of seeing my pink bougainvillea blooming against a snowfall.

Knittingwise, I haven't as anticipated cast on for a piece of frothy lace, but have lumbered on with the white Pinwheel Blanket and Kaari. I have finished the Pinwheel, bar the blocking. It might be a while before I do a knitted-on border again (can you hear my clenched teeth?) but I'm happy with it.

And I have nearly finished the front of Kaari. I have made better progress this time, by the simple expedient of reading the pattern carefully. Feel free to borrow this handy tip.

I didn't carry on with the Jyri cowl. The pattern was coming out too small and I would rather do it with a heavier yarn. I came across some more white Jet on eBay do that might be good, if another baby doesn't present itself.

I was at the local John Lewis on Tuesday afternoon for the Clearance Sale and won the struggle with temptation, which wasn't easy. They had some very nice blue yarns. I did buy a pattern book, but that was the result of careful planning, not temptation.

It's Kim Hargreaves' Winter Blooms. Follow the link for better pictures than I could take. The Ravelry page is here.

I don't know why the girl on the cover is wearing a short-sleeved sweater and has a huge bunch of flowers on what is fairly clearly a late summer afternoon, in sharp contrast to the title, but there you go. It doesn't do to take pattern books too seriously and the important thing is that there are lots of lovely things in, some of which I could imagine wearing.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

White Christmas

I don't seem to have pitched the Movie Quotes Quiz very well. I am obviously spending too much time watching the same obscure films over and over again. I will try to do better next year.

If you want photos of snow, have a look at the latest set from the Big Picture. Breathtaking.

And if you would like to see Scotland's polar bear, Mercedes, enjoying more of the same, look here. There's a movie clip here. If you want to hear the sound of a polar bear moving across deep snow, turn up the volume. It's not a sound you'll hear very often.

And here is your correspondent enjoying the snow, more than a few years ago.

Happy Christmas!!!

Monday, 21 December 2009

Christmas Movie Quotes Quiz

I thought we would enjoy another Movie Quotes Quiz. They're all funny ones: the films may not be comedies, but the lines are drawn from their more light-hearted moments.

The pictures are not straightforward clues. They are of the actor who spoke the line, or the actor of whose character it was said. And none of the pics is from the relevant film.
(CHANGED: see ADDED 3.) I'm sorry the font keeps changing. It's because I cut and pasted, and I've given up trying to put it right.

1. Now it isn't that I don't like you, Susan, because, after all, in moments of quiet, I'm strangely drawn toward you, but - well, there haven't been any quiet moments.

Yes, of course, Lee, said by Cary Grant as Dr David Huxley to Katherine Hepburn as Susan Vance in Bringing Up Baby.

2. Nervous?

First time?
No, I've been nervous lots of times.

Yes, DougB, very close, although it was Robert Hays as Ted Stryker, the nervous pilot, in Airplane. I've put my My First Mister on my rental list.

3. You must think I was born yesterday.
Well, sometimes there's just no other possible explanation.

Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. What a script, and the campest scene in mainstream cinema.

4. No bucks, no Buck Rogers

And the film I like so much I quoted it twice, The Right Stuff. Fred Ward as Gus Grissom, nearest the camera in the shot above.

5. Bite my ass, Krispy Kreme
Yes, Mary G., Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich, to a colleague who criticizes her choice of clothes for the office

6. Do you two know each other?
Yeah, she's my fiancée.
Well, that would certainly explain the hostility.

Yes, Gretchen, it's Cousin Vinny, another of my longtime favourites. Marisa Tomei and Joe Pesci are wonderful together, and who knew Joe was a comic? Marisa is so beautiful and yet chews gum with distinction. Fred Gwynne played the Judge in this excerpt. It's full of great set pieces and if I catch the first five minutes, I'm hooked. More great lines from it here.

7. Every time I see that man’s hands, I’m so glad I don’t have to look at his feet.

This was said by one of the minor characters in White Mischief, of Gilbert Colville, the old Etonian who drove around Nairobi in an open-top Rolls Royce with a couple of Masai herdsmen. You can just see him in this tiny snap with the lovely Greta Scacchi who played Lady Diana Delves-Broughton. They subsequently married - Gilbert and Lady Diana, I mean, not John and Greta, although they might make a fun couple.

This is John Hurt again, as Quentin Crisp in an Englishman in New York, which is due to be shown on ITV next Monday, 28 December. It's a sequel to the divine Naked Civil Servant and covers Crisp's later years in, yes, New York. I am looking forward to it very much, while simultaneously worrying in case it doesn't match up to the first one.

8. Who’s the best pilot you ever saw? You’re lookin’ at him!

Yes, two from the same film.

Dennis Quaid as Gordon 'Gordo' Cooper in The Right Stuff, second from the left in the hinty photo. Fancy not knowing that.

9. I'm not even supposed to be here. I'm just "Crewman Number Six." I'm expendable. I'm the guy in the episode who dies to prove how serious the situation is. I've gotta get outta here.

Punkin is right: this is from Galaxy Quest. As Lee guessed, said by the lovely Sam Rockwell in the character of Guy Fleegman.

Sam Rockwell as Charley Ford in the Assassination of Jesses James by etc. etc.

12. You aren't too smart, are you? I like that in a man.

Yes, Lee, Kathleen Turner as Matty Walker to William Hurt as Ned Racine in Body Heat, when she picks him up in the bar.

10. She's been diagnosed as a paranoid hypochondriac.
Doctors think she may be faking.

Yes, Mary G., it's Steve Martin in Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid.

I don’t know who I am, but I’m sure I have a lawyer.
Yes, Mary G., it's Goldie Hawn as Joanna Stayton in Overboard.
I think Goldie's underrated, probably because she's so cute. She has great comic timing.
Swing Shift is a satisfying film - it also has Christine Lahti,
Ed Harris and Fred Ward as well as Mr Hawn, Kurt Russell, which is good enough for me.

No prizes, just fun and an excuse to spend hours on the Internet.

ADDED: Raveller, I don't think I was expecting you to sneak some help from Google. I don't see any harm in looking up the actors in the photos and checking their films, and I think I was imagining that as the answers started to appear you could look clips up on YouTube and so on. But of course, it's entirely up to you...

ADDED 2: I've moved the photos so that they are now better clues. They appear below the relevant quote.

ADDED 3: I've added some more picture clues, stonking ones this time, from the film in question and showing the actor(s) quoted or described.

ADDED 4: I've posted all the answers. Lee and Mary G. are top girls.

Sunday, 20 December 2009


After that pause for reflection, I stormed on a little bit.

I chose a border for the Pinwheel Shawl. It's not as fancy as the last one I did, a little more modest.

It's the border from the Karen Shawl by Amy Swenson. I kept doing it back-to-front at first, but I got there in the end.

And I cast on for a Jyri cowl. I'm stiil not sure whether this is a swatch or the real thing: I'll decide when I've finished a repeat. I'm using markers just now but I expect the pattern will become readable shortly (I mean the pattern on the row below, not the pattern as printed on paper) and I will cast them aside.

The yarn is finer than it looked on the hank so I think it might be suited to a lacier style and the mountain peaks pattern may work better in something heavier, but I won't decide until I can see it properly. The Malabrigo Silky Merino is, of course, heaven.

I can't cast on for the front of Kaari until I find my 4.5mm Addi Turbo again. I had it when I cast on for the back, so it can't have gone very far. Can it? I feel I should point out that all my frogging and re-knitting with Kaari has been entirely my own fault. The pattern is simple, at least so far, and it's clearly written. It's just that I tend to speed-read, which is not a good technique for amything that's concisely written, and sometimes I jump to conclusions. I remember once as a very superior teenager being reduced to helpless laughter by a Wayside Pulpit that read 'Jumping to Conclusions is a Poor Sort of Exercise' so perhaps this is a judgment on me, being condemned endlessly to rip and re-do my knitting.

Christmas Movie Quotes Quiz tomorrow.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

I Must Write Out 500 Times...

There has been rather slow progress here. I finished the plain bit of the Pinwheel and have done a few rows of garter stitch to flatten it out while I think about a border. I've gone through Victorian Lace Today, which is always a pleasure, but I want something simpler. I have a short list of two. I'll try one out and then I'll show you a bit.

Kaari, well, there has been some more ripping, and I have written out 500 times, I must read the pattern properly, I must read the pattern properly... I galloped ahead with some decreases and then realized I had done entirely the wrong thing again, so I put it aside for two days while I worked up the courage to check the pattern. Then I ripped it and did it again, and I'm now about to start the decreases for the armholes (on the back). I am reading the pattern very carefully now.

I fell over just a little bit on the yarn-buying front, but I think you'll forgive me when you see it.

Malabrigo Silky Merino in Teal Feather. Two skeins.

Bliss. It's not really teal; it's very green, but it's not the sort of green that makes me look as if I've recently been dug up. Oh, did I not say it was for me? Well, it is.

I was thinking of a scarf, and then I thought of a cowl. I used to wear a fleece cowl and my then boss used to ask me why I had a legwarmer round my neck. Happy days. Most scarves would need more yarn than I've got (it's only about 300 yards) and most cowls would use a lot less, but I'm now thinking about Jyri, Norah Gaughan's scarf pattern. This isn't because I'm slavishly copying everything Fiona does, honestly; I just like Norah G's patterns a lot. And Fiona has very good taste.

I'm going to answer Lynne's question about films soon, and I'm working on a Movie Quotes Quiz for Christmas. While you're waiting, I'm updating the list of dates on Lynne's blog tour so it's worth following that. Today's is a very interesting long interview with knitting designer Ilga Leja.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Lynne Barr Q and A

Lynne Barr stopped off in Edinburgh during her blog tour for Reversible Knitting and answered some questions about knitting and one about her favourite films.

1. Can you think about your designs when you're away from your knitting? Or do you have to have the needles in your hands?

I actually prefer to design without needles and yarn in hand. I like to get an image in my head, think about how it might be created, and then pick up yarn and needles to see if I can knit the vision into a reality. While working on Reversible Knitting, I got pretty good at knitting in my mind, and could even lie back with my eyes closed and work. I’m sure my husband thought I was being lazy and napping, but I was working hard.

2. On a single design, how much time do you spend frogging? Or do you start afresh?

It depends on the design. In the scarf book, some of the easier, straight-forward designs weren’t frogged at all, and my first attempts with working yarn, which was mostly gray Peace Fleece, ended up being the scarves used in the book.

More frogging was required for Reversible Knitting, and there would have been much more if I couldn’t knit in my mind. My working yarn for this book was Rowan Felted Tweed, because it can handle a lot of knitting and ripping and reworking without showing much wear or breaking – it has 25% viscose in it. I used the Felted Tweed for both vests too, and because it’s such a sturdy little workhorse of a yarn, after I finished the book, I frogged both first drafts of the vests and reworked the yarn into socks.

3. What sort of things do you knit when you're not working on a book? Do you knit garments for your family?

Just recently, as preparation for a Brioche workshop, I knit three brioche headbands based on Nancy Marchant’s pattern in Reversible Knitting.

After the workshop, family members claimed two, and the third was given to my son’s girlfriend. Otherwise, for the past four years, all of my knitting has been book related, except for the socks from the frogged Felted Tweed vests.

4. I often write about films on the blog, so I'd really like to know - what is your favourite film (or favourite five)?

I really enjoy your film reviews. Do you think much can be learned about a person, knowing their favorite movies?

Some movies I really like: No Country For Old Men; The Girl in the Café (I know you didn’t care for it); Kitchen Stories; The Lives of Others; Three Iron; Reign Over Me; Chungking Express; The Reader.

‘Easy listening’ movies – ones I’ve seen and know well, with a great soundtrack or lines, that can play in the background while I knit: Gattaca; Love Actually; Parenthood; The Thomas Crown Affair (Pierce Brosnan version); Unconditional Love; Stranger Than Fiction; Defending Your Life.

Helen… can you pare your list down to your favorite five (or eight)?

Thanks very much, Lynne. I am more impressed than I can say by the answer to the first question: I had an awful suspicion that you might be able to knit in your head, but it's still stunning to have it confirmed.

I would be reluctant to come to conclusions on the basis of someone's favourite films or books, but I suppose they can be a bit of a rough guide. If their Top Five were all Godzilla films, for instance, I might jump to a conclusion there. I do find it a good way to get recommendations though, and I have added some of yours to my waiting list. I’ll write a fuller answer over the weekend.

If you live in the U.S., you can enter a competition based on the alternative designs for the book cover by clicking here.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Kaari V3.0

I've knitted about 6 inches of Kaari V3.0 and it seems to be about the right size. Oh joy oh bliss. I've got Stocking Stitch Shoulder again, but it's worth it.

I was at the dentist today for a check-up and I don't need anything done. I'm not particularly nervous about dentists, but I still get a Got Out of Jail Free feeling about that. I always want to celebrate.

Lynne's blog tour for Reversible Knitting has already begun and you can check the posts at these links.

8 December Go Knit in Your Hat

9 December Grumperina and Purlbee

10 December Knit and Tonic

11 December Moi

12 December Sheep in the City

14 December Alicia Kachmar

15 December BoogaJ

16 December Knitting Today

17 December Ilga Leja

18 December The Hook and I

21 December Melanie Falick Books

22 December Needled

January House on Hill Road

January The Panopticon

I'm in some impressive blogging company and am beginning to feel somewhat unprepared.

There's also a competition you can enter, the prize being a copy of - yes, Reversible Knitting! Sadly, the competition is only open to those in the 50 United States and Washington, D.C. so many of my readers will have to resort to acquiring it in the usual methods of begging, borrowing or stealing. Or buying it, like I did. If you are eligible, you can enter the competition here on Melanie's blog.

LATER: Edited to add some dates to the tour.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Not Much Knitting

I expect there will be some rolling of eyes at this, but I am going to rip the second Kaari after all. I made a bit of progress with it and it was still awfully wide, so I sat down last night with measuring tape, pencil, paper, slide rule and calculator. It would appear that I'm getting four stitches to the inch, not four and a half. I don't want to go down a needle size because I think the fabic will be too stiff and I've noticed that I'm slower knitting Jet on 5mms than the 5.5mms that I'm using for the Pinwheel, so I shall go down a pattern size - or is it up? The next smaller one anyway. While I was rummaging, I came across an Addi Turbo circ in the right size so I'll use that instead of the rosewood Suzanne and that might speed me up a bit.

I haven't done any more on the Pinwheel because I've been so busy muttering over Kaari.

I watched Frozen River last night. I thought it was good, but I'm slightly surprised that it's up for a couple of Oscars. It's described on the DVD box as a thriller but I'd say there's more to it than that; I never felt particularly on tenterhooks but it has much more human interest than the average thriller. I always felt I was watching it; I didn't get drawn in, but perhaps that's because I watched it at home instead of in the cinema. I kept being distracted by the fact that although it was deep winter and very snowy (the river was frozen, after all) nobody was wearing a hat, even at night. I finally said this and my companion said, You know, I was thinking exactly the same thing. They didn't even fasten their quilted jackets and the times that we saw Melissa Leo getting dressed, I thought she should be putting on some warm underwear but she didn't. It sounds daft, but it was distracting. Charlie McDermott, the actor who played her teenage son, was very good - they all were, but he's young and deserves encouragement.

I've watched Moon twice now and I love it. I've still to watch all the extras and listen to all the commentaries but I think I'm going to become a Moon geek. Like all the best science fiction, it's not really about science at all but about human beings. It's difficult to say anything about it without giving away too much, so I won't, but it's not a secret that Sam Rockwell plays two roles in it. The first time I saw it I was very aware of this and thought about how they did it and so on, but the second time I forgot completely and just got absorbed in what was going on. Sam should be up for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor.

It got Best British Independent Film at the BIFA awards this week, and Duncan Jones got Best Debut Director.

Lynne Barr of Knitting New Scarves and Reversible Knitting will be making a guest appearance on this blog on Friday as part of a blog tour she's doing - isn't that exciting? If you've got any questions of burning importance that you would like to ask her, please leave a comment here before Thursday eveningish (evening UK time) and we'll try to fit it in.

Mary Lou, I'm so excited to know that my website is dangerous (see Comments in previous post). You're right, it must be the jigsaws. I mean, it can get a bit tense around here sometimes, what with the ripping of Kaari and the mistakes in the lace, but I've never felt anyone was actually in danger.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Defintely Sunday

I don't think I will rip Kaari and do the next size down; I'm going to stick with it for a while longer. The thought of having a Kaari that's too small is worse than the thought of having one that's too big.

The Pinwheel in white Jet is racing on. I'm on the fourth ball.

In order to give my brain some activity after all these miles of stocking stitch, I spent some time with Reversible Knitting today.

Can you tell what it is yet?

It's pattern 45, in some grey All Seasons Cotton Mélange.

I think I need to make one of my knotted row counters so that I don't knit any more elongated circles. My excuse is that like most of Lynne Barr's work, this is one of these patterns that makes you want to race on breathlessly to see what happens next. It's great fun.

The BBC is starting a dramatisation of Andrea Levy's Small Island tonight. I'm in two minds about whether I'll watch it: I liked the book so much that I'm not sure another version of it could live up to my expectations... but I might miss something good. More dithering.

I friend of mine in New York has started a fabulous blog, Idiosyncratic Fashionistas: it makes me feel so dull.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

I Keep Thinking It's Friday

I cast on for the back of Kaari again and after a few inches it's still too wide - not as much as last time, but still too much. I don't want to go down a needle size because it'll make the fabric too stiff, so I think I'll just follow the pattern for one size smaller. Third time lucky.

So I'm rattling round the Pinwheel instead, which on checking Ravelry I have realized is my fourth, not my third. I've just reached the stage where I need to add markers. Part of the idea behind all this Jet knitting at the moment is that I will treat myself to something lacy over Christmas. I would like to do another Queen Anne's Lace and I have a stash of Kidsilk Spray in Medici, but I'm worried that the lace pattern will get lost in the splashes of pale, as they did in my Icarus.

Not only do I keep thinking it's Friday, but I keep thinking tomorrow's Saturday, which is making life complicated.

While I dither, and while I cast on Kaari for the third time, here are some shots from 100 Days in Glacier Park in Montana. Breathtaking.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

I Must Read the Pattern, I Must Read the Pattern

I finished the Red Sandstone Jacket and I still like it. It is cast off along the right front and I didn't want the usual cast-off edge, which I felt would be too inflexible, and too visible, so I did Elizabeth Zimmerman's sewn bind off. I remember using this once before on something and thinking, I really must remember this and use it more often, but of course I had forgotten until I went looking.

I had bought an extra ball of yarn just in case, but I needed to buy a further one and used almost all of it. I don't understand this, and it doesn't seem to have been a problem for other people who've knitted it. I got a sore shoulder while I was working on this, either due to excessive mousing or excessive stocking stitch, or perhaps a combination of the two.

When I came to the seaming everything fitted together like a dream. It's a well-shaped garment and the shoulders fit more neatly than I expected. This is a good thing. I will try to find some red sandstone to photograph it against for you.

I swatched for the retro tank top but I haven't been given any further instructions about what size is needed, or what colours are wanted, so I can't do much else. I wish I could find a tank pattern that would knit up in Felted Tweed Aran, as my shallow and impatient nature makes me reluctant to knit with Felted Tweed itself, which is double knitting weight.

I wanted to carry on knitting with the Jet but I couldn't decide between Kaari and the latest Pinwheel so I made the pocket band for Kaari while I thought about it. I then cast on for Kaari but after a couple of days mysteriously found myself casting on the blanket as well. Perhaps the YOs on the blanket will stop me getting Stocking Stitch Shoulder this time.

Sorry the photo is so dark; my copy of Photoshop Elements is on the fritz and I can't brighten it up. You know what it looks like anyway.

After I had done about four inches of the back of Kaari, I thought it looked a bit wide, even for something that's meant to go over my hips, and when I checked I discovered that I had a) cast on too many stitches, and b) failed to notice a rather significant row of decreases. Sigh. I've ripped and cast on again.

There have been various signs of winter here. First of all, it's been bl**dy cold. Then on Sunday, the heating broke down which never happens in the spring. I rang the engineer on Monday morning and then, as I put the phone down I touched a radiator and lo, the heating had come back on. So I waited a few hours to make sure it wasn't a fluke and then rang again and arranged for the boiler to be serviced. Alan Ayckbourn maintains that central heating systems have a symbiotic relationship with th major religious festivals, and I don't want to tempt fate at this time of year.

On Monday I got my first Christmas card, from my Buddhist cousin. She always sends a card around this time of year but it's usually a plain one, not a Christmas card. This year it has robins and holly and snow, and reads 'Season's Greetings' so I think it has to fall into the category of Christmas Card. She just signed it with her name, no 'Love', or 'Best wishes for 2010', or even a 'from'. As I have explained to people from time to time, she's a rather Presbyterian Buddhist.

The best sign of Winter is that my bougainvillea has come into blossom, pouring out bright pink flowers on the 26th of November and ever since. I don't know why it does this, why a tropical plant should bloom in an Edinburgh winter, but all the ones I've had have done it. You're meant to give them a tropical night and put them somewhere dark at 6 p.m. every night but I never do and they sit in the glow of all my lights, and televisions of increasing size and then burst into flower when the frosts loom.

ADDED: The Red Sandstone Jacket is from Paton's pattern book 1250, Jet, and is knitted from Paton's Jet in Lolly Orange. The pattern is listed on Ravelry here, and my version is here.