Sunday, 31 January 2010

More and More Knitting

I baptised Kaari and dried it flat, and I'm very pleased with the result. I knew as soon as I first saw that pattern that I would knit it, so it almost doesn't seem new. I knitted a size smaller because I wasn't getting gauge and it's come out just the right size. I didn't make any alterations at all, although the neck is a very little shallower because I ran out of yarn. I'm wearing it as I type. Can you tell?

The neck has come out quite wide. Since I always planned to wear this over a tee shirt, this doesn't matter but when I make a summer one, I'll have to do something about it. I think it might be because of my narrow shoulders which don't hold it in place, so I'll just have to continue the front up a bit higher and think of a way of making the sleeves come up higher too. They have an unusual construction so it will take a bit of thinking, but it should be feasible. Or I could make it out of linen on large needles, and wear it over a cami. I'll think of something.

I've done one tiny legwarmer for the small pink person. I got my wires crossed and made it in stripes when apparently what is required is a plain legwarmer in ballet pink, so I'll finish these and then do the plain ones. It's RYC Cashmerino and some Wool Cotton from the stash. At least if these turn out to be the wrong size, I can get it right the second time. I made the pattern up.

I bought this skein of Habu Shosenshi, which I've been planning to get for a while: I already have some of it in grey and I have project in mind which will require two colours. More will be revealed. The shade is called Indigo, a very pale washed-out indigo.

The waiscoaty thing on the front of the latest Rowan mag, number 47, is meant to be made from Lenpur Linen, but I went with Rowan Wool Cotton. I won't be putting on the beads.

The colour is called Cypress, which I thought was a dark green but this is a sort of dusty turquoise, like verdigris but a little bluer. The vest, which is called Dapper, is knitted in one piece starting at the left front and is meant to be knitted without the front band and the armhole trims: they're added by picking up stitches at the end, but I've decided that I'm going to do it all in a oner. I expect I will realize why this is wrong when I'm nearly at the end, and there will be much smitting of the forehead, but I'm going to do it anyway.

I watched three more episodes of The West Wing on Saturday, and was greatly distressed to discover that there wasn't a fourth episode on the disk. I missed a lot of the seventh series the first time round, and it's interesting to watch it again anyway because we have discovered since that the writers based some of it on Obama's senate campaign. I consoled myself by watching some of the first series of The Big Bang Theory, which I was slow to discover and just love.

Here's a quickie.

And if you've got 10 minutes, here's some more.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010


Cool poster, available from jenniegee on Etsy.

Lots to Report

Kaari is finished, except for one tiny detail. I didn't buy another ball of yarn and I just got to the end by the skin of my teeth, with enough yarn to sew down the collar on the inside. Then I realized I had overlooked something.

You can probably see what it is. But by the time I've given it a soak and a spin and left it to dry, I should have found some navy blue yarn somewhere and I can finish the pockets. I last tried it on before I cast on for the collar and I was happy with it then so I'm feeling quite positive.

Every time I looked at photographs of this sweater, I thought the collar was knitted on in stocking stitch, finished off in rib, and then turned inside out, but in fact it's the reverse; you start in rib first, then knit four inches of reverse stocking stitch and then turn it outside in. Interesting. Kaari, knitted in Paton's Jet, in 508, dark blue, on a 5mm circular needle with 4.5mm for the ribbing. I knitted a size smaller and it came out the right size. (This wasn't dumb luck; I tried knitting the right size first, and it came out too big.)

I also knitted 24 inches of i-cord with Kidsilk Haze and a pair of 4mm bamboo dpns, and finished the Mary Jane Hat. This was a nice little knit.

It starts with two strands of Kidsilk Haze held double and then it changes to a single strand: at the same time you turn the hat inside out and knit the stripes in reverse stocking stitch. I'm not sure that it gains anything by the inside-out-turning, and if I knit it again I'll probably skip that.

I fell off the yarn wagon last week, but not really because I know what I'm going to make with the yarn so that makes it OK. One of my friends is trekking to the Everest Base Camp this Spring, and I want to knit her something warm and light to wear under whatever technical hat she's going to wear. I'm assuming that the outer layer will be something wind- and waterproof but I thought a little cosy something couldn't go wrong. I've been looking for a while and wondering if I should go for yak or possum (she's a New Zealander so that would be appropriate) or something else exotic, but I came across some cashmere lace by Hedgehog Fibres which I think will do nicely.

It's dark and light blues with lots of rich browns and some grey. Beata's colours are never bright, but you certainly couldn't call them dull: they really concentrate one's attention. If you join her mailing list she will email you when she puts stuff on the Etsy site (I think it's usually on Saturday night) and then, well, you know the rest. PayPal haemorrhage ensues. Her blog is here.

I don't know whether I should just make a stocking cap, or if I should go for what I would call a balaclava, some sort of helmet which would cover her neck as well. Maybe a stocking cap with earflaps. Maybe a lacy cowl would be more useful and provide lots of warmth without weight. Have any of my readers attempted Everest Base Camp and can make recommendations? The odd thing is that another of my friends did it last year. Even when I was well, I was never known for my exertions. I did go through a phase when I read a lot of climbing books, but that's as far as it got, so it seems odd that I should know two people thus inclined. I suppose it shows how broadminded I am.

Dougal Haston at the summit of Everest, 24 September 1975, by Doug Scott

I watched four episodes of The West Wing yesterday, from Series Seven, which helped with the Kidsilk i-cord. I got quite hyped up and kept expecting someone to dash into my sitting room and give me lots of orders, while wise-cracking. No-one did. I've been catching up with movies too. I watched Juno again, and watched the bloopers which was good because it was nice to see Jason Bateman being normal after watching him doing such a good job of being a selfish creep in the film.

I tried twice to watch Synecdoche, NY and lost the will to live both times. This is a pity as I always thought I would watch Philip Seymour Hoffman reading the telephone directory and here it turns out I wouldn't. I hadn't realized it was a Charlie Kaufman film: the only film of his that I've liked was Being John Malkovich and even that I haven't liked enough to watch twice. It didn't have subtitles, which as we know drives me crazy, but actually that didn't matter because most of the dialogue was along the lines of WTF and so on. It often had the feel of being improvised by actors who were inexperienced at improv, and since these actors aren't, I can only assume it was actually a bad script. Anyway, I gave up. Twice.

In the world of current movies, I saw Up in the Air, which passes the time pleasantly, but really, an Oscar? More than one Oscar? I'm baffled. It's very light. I would say that anyone who thinks that it makes any serious points should get out more, or in the words of Peter de Vries, 'Deep down, it's very shallow.' It also had the feel of having had a different ending tacked on after it was finished.

I also saw It's Complicated, which is funnier than Up in the Air and doesn't pretend to be anything else. I wondered about the ending of that too, since it has a pseudo-moral tone which the first 110 minutes lacked, but I didn't wonder too much. One very unexpected treat in it was a link with the wonderful world of knitting. Yes, really. I kept thinking, 'That beautiful girl reminds me of someone,' and I eventually remembered who it was. And it's really her.

Her name is Caitlin Fitzgerald, and if I remember correctly, she's Pam Allen's daughter. Pretty cool, to go from Interweave Knits to a Meryl Streep movie.

That cover brings us incredibly neatly to Moorecat's comment on my previous post about shibori felting. There's a reason why that's a very good idea and why I should have thought of it myself but I'll have to wait to tell you more.

While we're on the subject of knitting mags, I got Rowan 47 and there's more in it that I might knit than there usually is in a Spring mag.

That little waistcoat / vest / gilet on the front is just the sort of simple thing I like which is usually difficult to find patterns for. It's designed to be knitted with Lenpur Linen, but I think I might do it with something woolly meanwhile. It's the same guage as Rowan's Wool Cotton, which isn't very exciting to knit with but does give a very good fabric.

I like this too, and I think it's the same gauge as Summer Tweed, which I don't find as hard on my hands as pure cotton.

There are also some lovely Kaffe Fassett designs for cushion covers and throws in Summer Tweed, the charts for which are available on the Rowan website.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Crispy Crunchy Scarf

I finished the White Jet Jyri and I just love it.

I couldn't stop taking photographs of it. It's good to have something that shows up in photos in this dull weather.

The texture is marvellous.

It's so crunchy, when it's folded it looks like a stack of crispbread.

This the Jyri scarf, from Norah Gaughan Volume One. It's knitted in Paton's Jet, which is 70% wool and 30% alpaca. I used four balls, and 5.5mm needles. You're meant to stop at the end of a pattern repeat, but I did the first row of another repeat (and purled back) as I thought it was too flat. The start of the new repeat just peaked it up a little. It's 60 inches long and 7 inches wide, but it will probably grow in wear.
It's really a lace pattern which isn't blocked, and I suppose it can never be washed as it would just turn into a piece of chunky lace. It will have to be dry cleaned. I'm giving it to a friend so I won't have to worry about that. It would be wonderful felted, if there's a felting technique that doesn't involve getting the thing wet. Perhaps steam would do it.

I finished the Touch cosy and it'll go in the post too. Unknown thick'n'thin wool, 18 stitches cast on with 5mm needles and double-knitted until the right length.

This is the top of the first sleeve of Kaari.

I felt very clever when I did this and although that can often be a warning sign, I think it worked out all right. I've finished the second sleeve now so I just have to sew it together and put the collar on. I only have one ball left so I think I'll have to track down another. I could rip my Toasty mitts but I'd rather not. I'm at the stage of being very eager to finish this while simultaneously dreading it in case it doesn't fit or looks terrible.

I cast on for the pretty girly hat, Mary Jane, too. This is some of the trove of Kidsilk Haze that Jean very kindly gave me in a fit of disgust (with the yarn, not with me) and the colour is fabulous. I don't usually like burgundy as a fabric colour - I think it belongs in a glass - but this has such intensity and yet such delicacy, I can't take my eyes off it. Silk'll do that.

I did a cable cast on because I thought otherwise the first row might be too hellish to be borne, and it paid off. I don't expect progress to be speedy.

A kind friend lent me Clara Parkes' new book, The Knitter's Book of Wool, and I really must write about it in my next post. It's very good. And I haven't forgotten about My Favourite Films.

Saturday, 9 January 2010


Thanks for the tip about the salad spinner, Judith. I think I got rid of mine because I used it so seldom and I'm short of space, but I must get another one. It can join the scales as a piece of kitchen equipment more commonly used when knitting.

I haven't done any more on Kaari because I've been totally distracted by the white Jet Jyri. Perhaps it's because it looks so like the snow that's piled outside. I find myself racing along the purl rows so that I can get to the next pattern row, which is sort of sad when you think about it. I wonder if I would be so enthusiastic if it weren't knitted lengthwise: I suspect not. I suspect I would be doing my usual scarf thing of wondering how soon I could stop.

I've kept some markers at the beginning of the row because it forces me to think about what I'm doing, which as we know is an activity to be encouraged round here. Racing blindly ahead is to be discouraged as there is far too much of it.

I've been commissioned to make an iPod cosy for another Touch fan. I usually do cosies in double knitting, which I find a fascinating technique but which causes steam to come out of ears fairly soon, so it's best suited for small projects like this.

I did the usual thing of casting on too many stitches the first time, then too few, and got it right the third time. The yarn is a marvellously intense semi-solid blue, looks sort of Malabrigo-ish and would probably felt beautifully.

I bought some more Jet on eBay, the charcoal grey this time. Should I seek help? I really like the basketweave jacket that's in the same book as the Red Sandstone Cardi, but I don't have quite enough yarn and I think all that basket stitch would harm me irreparably. Some sort of shortish cardi / shruggy thing. I forgot to mention that I got a copy of Tracey Ullman's Knit 2 Together off Amazon Marketplace before Christmas. It's a book I've always liked the look of and I specifically wanted the pattern for the Pimlico Shrug. But there's also a Norah Gaughan pattern, the Posh Cardigan, that's been at on my mental shortlist ever since I first saw it in KnitScene magazine when it came out in 2005. It might be a hard choose.

When I checked out my friends on Ravelry this morning, I dscovered that Smashing Puffin, with her usual impeccable taste, had queued a hat called Mary Jane, which is a bit like last year's Felicity, but done in Kidsilk Haze and looking a lot more girly.

I've managed to identify a member of the family who might be persuaded to wear such a thing and I've chosen my colours. I just have one or two other things to finish off first.

Not Knitting
The snow is still lying here. The odd thing about this year's weather in my part of town has been that we didn't have a huge amount of snow, but that the temperature dropped instantly and hasn't risen, so a small amount of snow has become a serious amount of ice. Most of my neighbours seem to be leaving their cars at home so they (the cars) are still white. Someone has walked up the street doing rude drawings on them. I won't take a picture because this is a family blog, but if I did it could be captioned Willies on Windscreens. It's quite funny at the same time as being quite annoying.

One of my friends works in an office which overlooks Leith Docks and he took this photograph on Friday of a tug boat which was breaking up the ice in the Docks. Word has it that this hasn't been necessary since 1960.
Photograph: N. Ferguson

I watched the first in the new series of British Wallander and is it just me, or is it all a bit daft? Nobody at the police station ever seems to do any work, and the dialogue is very weak. When Wallander told a subordinate to check something out, said subordinate lounged back in his chair and said, 'Bit of a long shot, isn't it?' We all know by now that most of the work on a murder investigation seems like long shots and is a matter of checking out mundane facts, but the writer was allowed to get away with that, and the disagreements which were meant to set W. apart from his colleagues were very sketchy. That female boss W. has always seems to contradict him and doesn't have any idea about procedure or protocol, which is unlikely. And Wallander himself is a shambles - a beautifully acted shambles, but really. I wish the BBC had found something better to do with Branagh and with David Warner, two of the best actors we have. What about some Shakespeare? Ibsen? Chekhov? Or a playwright who is alive but doesn't churn out cop dramas?

I liked the crossover from the Swedish series, where the patrolman Swartman appeared here as a criminal. The whole thing could have done with a lot more of that sort of wit.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Happy New Year

Thanks for all the seasonal greetings. In August I referred to checking my Google Analytics statistics and poring over all the dots on the map that represent my readers and I would like to wish a happy, healthy and productive 2010 to all my dots, and the splodges that you become when you are crowded together, as you are in some unexpected places. You are much more than dots to me and I appreciate your coming here as regularly as you do.

I won't do a round-up of last year's projects, and I don't propose to reveal much in the way of plans either - I never use the Queue facility in Ravelry because I know I couldn't take the pressure. But the item I have been most pleased with, and perhaps even a little proud, was the Queen Anne's Lace spiral shawl. The pattern is here and I strongly recommend it.

It is still wrapped up in tissue paper and I don't know what I'm going to do with it, but I don't regret the time I spent on it at all, or the extravagance of the materials (not so much the yarn as the hand-made silver stitch markers, eek!) one bit; I'm very satisfied with it and when I need to whisk one of these out of a hat, then I'll have it handy. As Fiona says, it's nice to be able to do that.

Kaari chunters on. Of course, I missed the row on the first sleeve cap where I should have slowed down with the increases, so I had to rip it back etc., but I was watching Wallander at the time so I think I can be excused.

I was going to block the Pinwheel today, but it occurred to me that it might be a better idea to wait until the daytime temperatures are above freezing before I pin a large piece of wet knitting to my bed. So I cast on a Jyri instead, in white Paton's Jet. This is in the same book as Kaari and is another example of Norah Gaughan's genius. I think it will be a present for a friend.

The white Jet feels softer than the navy Jet that I'm using for Kaari. I thought at first that this was a crazy idea and that I was misled by its soft white prettiness, but I suppose it's possible that the dyes used for the navy blue have a different effect, or that the fact that I'm knitting Kaari on smaller needles makes the fabric minutely stiffer. Anyway, the Jyri is lovely to knit and I don't mind the long rows (it's knitted lengthwise) at all.

One promising thing about the start to the new year is that the mouse scarer I bought seems to be working already. It's one of these; it doesn't just make a horrible (to them) noise, but has additional electro-magnetic capabilities. My upstairs neighbour and I have a fleet of mice that swop back and forth between us, so she's getting one too. I suppose everyone in the block might have to get one eventually but I don't care as long as I don't have to keep hosing down my kitchen with disinfectant. Anyway, I plugged it in on Hogmanay and matters have greatly improved since then. Fingers crossed.

Another hope for 2010 is that this bit of research into XMRV might prove to be the breakthrough that some of us have been hoping for. Apart from anything else, wouldn't it be smart to have a virus that starts with an X? I wouldn't mind at all what letter the cure might start with - let's hear it for reverse transcriptase inhibitors.

There are of course stunning photographs of the year's beginning at the Big Picture, and while you're looking at them, you can listen to this (thanks, Lisa!)