Sunday, 28 March 2010

Frogging on a Grand Scale

You've probably seen the television commercial for natural gas which has been on the knitting blogs: Spinning Fishwife posted it here.

This is the behind-the-scenes story, which is sort of heart-breaking but interesting nonetheless - although it's a pity we don't get to see more actual knitting.

My next post will feature some knitting by me, honest.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Family Snaps

I 've been looking through some family snaps this week. Do you remember this baby?

I got an email on Monday morning with the latest photos of her.

She looks so like her granny. Her granny was my cousin, and she died nearly six years ago of ovarian cancer. I miss her a lot. She didn't live to see any of her grandchildren. This is her at six months. Lovely knitted cardi.

While I was tracking that down, I came across this.
I'm not going to tell you who it is because if I do, she'll never speak to me again, but it ISN'T ME!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Young Me, Now Me

I've finished the Cupcake Hat but I can't stay away from this website for long enough to take a photograph.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Progress, Such as It Is

I've been slogging onwards with Dapper. I had a moment of joy when I joined the fronts but
since then the rows have been a lot longer. I've done a few more inches since this photo. And it's a much nicer colour in reality.

I'm not neglecting it, but last night I cast on for a giant sock.

No, it isn't really; it's a hat. A cupcake hat. I've wanted to knit one of these for ages. I've cast on 100 stitches for an adult size, although I'm still not sure that's big enough. I'm not quite sure who it's for. It's Rowan Kid Classic: I think the colour is called Feather.

I keep forgetting to tell you about this, which was a gift from Raveller after her visit last year.

The colour is a gentle lichen-ish green, too subtle for the light at this time of year. It's the Fibre Company's Road to China, a blend of baby alpaca, cashmere, camel and silk - do you have any idea how soft that feels? I think it will have to be a cowl, as it wuld be so gentle on the skin.

Knitting Mags
There's something about the covers of Interweave Knits which has been bothering me for a while but it was only this week that I made the effort to check: I was right. These three covers have all been used in the last year.

Is beige really a colour that makes magazines fly off the shelves?

There was a stunning documentary on BBC2 on Sunday night (14 March) about Detriot, Requiem for Detroit. It's available on iPlayer here although I don't know for how much longer. There's a clip on YouTube

and I expect more of it will become available there. I caught the opening shots and was hooked; it's a devastating story of a city and what led to its rise and its very rapid decline. With some hope at the end.

LoveFilm excelled themselves after the rude things I said about them, and delivered Goya's Ghosts almost immediately. It's very good, as long as you aren't looking for historical accuracy in the script - it's a made-up tale, set in period surroundings. It has a multi-national cast and was directed by Milos Forman, but was mostly filmed in Spain and is a US / Spanish co-production - some people have got terribly cross about the fact that Goya is played by a Swedish actor, but I have to say I got over the jumble of accents very quickly. Javier Bardem is staggering in it, not that I've ever seen him be anything less. I didn''t think Natalie Portman was so good, too modern, but the friend I watched it with disagreed, so take your pick.

If I knew Goya's paintings better than I do, I'm sure I would have recognized more of them amongst the background figures. I think there's must be miles of it left on the cutting room floor and I look forward to seeing the special edition double-disc dvd if it's ever released.

After that, I watched Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame. I hardly know where to start with this. It was made in Afghanistan and directed by a 19-year-old girl, Hana Makhmalbaf. The fact that her father is a film director doesn't really make this any less remarkable. The film gets its title from the figures of Buddha in the Banyam Valley in Afghanistan which were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001, and where the film is set. The lead character is a little girl of about six, who spends the day trying to get to school and is thwarted in lesser and greater ways. There were lots of times when I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. You should see it. The little girl, Bakhtay, played by Nikbakht Noruz, is enchanting and all the other children in it are well, impressive. It's shot in dazzlingly clear digital sunlight. I hope things are better by the time Bakhtay grows up.

And back on Planet Shallow, tonight I watched Fracture, which is just a legal detective story with a twist, but it's very stylish and has lots of good actors - Anthony Hopkins, Ryan Gosling, David Strathairn, Rosamund Pyke, Fiona Shaw - and an ace script, a perfect Saturday night flick.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Better News

It appears that I was premature in my gloom and despondency. My Everest-bound neighbour was up to see me about the window-cleaner last night, and I showed her the cowl. Not having had any expectations about it, or even known it existed, she was delighted with it. Apparently she hates trying to keep scarves tied so she was thrilled to have something cosy that would stay in place on her neck and liked the idea of the snood too. So, there we are. I was being silly. Thank you for all the comforting comments. I will try not to be silly in the future.

I finally sat down and got to grips with Dapper. I had to rip a bit, but not as much as I feared and I've now finished the left front and set off on the right. I am scrupulously ticking off the instructions line-by-line on the photocopy this time. I still love the colour.

Alice in Wonderland was fun. It's the first 3-D film I've seen and I only flinched about four times when things leapt out at me. There were trailers for some very promising-looking films which are due later this year, Shrek 3 and Toy Story 3. Sequels of animated films seem to be more successful than sequels of em, human, films. I wonder why that is.

Some of Alice is more Disney - the Red Queen's Castle, and the horrible frightening bits and the silly futterwacking - but lots of it is Lewis Carroll and lots of it is Tim Burton. I was unimpressed beforehand when I saw that Alice is older, but TB says that Alice has been filmed umpteen times in the past and the concern has always been to 'get it right', so he felt he could afford to stray from the path pf pedantry a bit, which sounds reasonable. So it's set some years after the first, and features Alice's return to Wonderland.

Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen is too witty and clever to be a baddie, but I liked her very much. Pig here!

I wondered why the March Hare had a Scottish accent - I don't mind him having one but I was puzzled. And I'm fairly sure they'd tampered with Stephen Fry's voice (the Cheshire Cat) so that he didn't sound so much like Stephen and was more like a generic Englishman. Are they worried about Bible Belt parents who might disapprove of homosexual cats? Alan Rickman's Blue Caterpillar was splendid. Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter was touching and sweet, and did lead me to wonder a great deal about how the effects are created: his eyes were enlarged, but the expressions were all his and it was unmistakably Johnny. All very clever, and you can see here how some of it is done, although this is about Avatar, not Alice. I don't know that I'll be in a great hurry to see Alice again, but I would watch it on the telly at Christmas.

Also this week, I saw Bright Star which is wonderful. I will watch it again, long before Christmas. In theory I don't buy dvds, but I think I'll buy this one. Everything, the writing, direction, acting, all seamless. I had forgotten it was Abbie Cornish as Fanny Brawne and it never occurred to me it wasn't an English actress; not just the accent, but everthing including the historical feel - and we all know how pedantic I can be about that. I last saw Ben Whishaw being impressive in Criminal Justice as a possibly shifty 21st-century teenager, and here he was as impressive as a penniless 18th-cntury poet.

Everyone else was spot-on too. There's a Scottish accent that shifts into Irish sometimes, but I've been known to do that myself. It presents another bafflement about this year's Oscars, as to why this was only up for Best Costume. Did somebody at the Academy think there couldn't couldn't be two women up for Best Director in the same year? It certainly knocks Up in the Air clean out of the room. IMHO.

One of the nice things for a pedant like me is that the interiors weren't overdone; the characters lived in sparsely decorated spaces, not overdone gorgeousnesses. People who are claiming to be poor are shown in bare rooms, which can't always be said of films of Jane Austen novels.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Post Knitting Disappointment Disorder, Again*

I finished the Everest Cowl today. It's too big. The yarn and the pattern are both very pretty, but it's too big. It works as a snood, but it's very loose as a cowl, and it doesn't work at all as an ear-warmer. I'm feeling more sad than cross. It's not the pattern's fault; I was worrying so much that it might be too small that the opposite didn't cross my mind. And no, I didn't swatch. I don't swatch lace, but then I don't usually make lace that has to fit. Sigh.

I was too dispirited to take photographs by daylight today so these are a bit murky.

I'm very tempted to find some very warm, thick wool and knit something more obviously intended for extreme weather. I'll sleep on it.

Pattern, Vent d'est, vent d'ouest Yarn, Hedgehog Fibres' Pure Cashmere Lace in Hurricane. The colourway is still compelling and I have been having fantasies of buying a sweaterfull. At the moment I don't feel I deserve it, bit I suppose eventually I'll realize that I can't afford it, which is more to the point.

I haven't been knitting anything else because I was so anxious to finish this, and I haven't even been thinking about what I would knit next. I'm feeling a bit better this week, so I'll probably feel more inspired soon.

I haven't seen Goya's Ghosts, Janet. I've added it to my LoveFilm list now, but they can be dreadfully slow and I shall probably have forgotten why I ordered it by the time it arrives. That happens quite a lot.

I'm going to see Alice in Wonderland on Wednesday.

I usually like Tim Burton's films and it's got Johnny in it, and it's in 3D, so I'm allowing myself the luxury of looking forward to it. Some of the reviews say it's too much Disney and not enough Burton; we'll see. But now I have to go and put on my Alice in Wonderland nail polish.

I'm going with the sparkly blue one. But you guessed that, didn't you?

* With acknowledgements to Knit Forwards, Understand Backwards, who invented this necessary phrase

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Inching Along

Sorry for the disgracefully long silence. I have been even more feeble than usual and there has been very little to report, in the way of knitting or anything else.

I've finished the second repeat of the pattern for the Everest Cowl, so I have another to go. That should make it the right length and I have enough yarn.

I don't think I'll be tempted to do any more than that; the pattern is pretty enough but doing it doesn't make my heart beat faster while I'm doing it. I don't know why one arrangement of YOs and k2togs should be more satisfying than another but it is, for me anyway. I'm rather taken by the Handkerchief Tee in the latest IK, but the lace is similar to this so I probably won't be bothered. It's a pretty shape though.

The East Wind pattern is good, though, well written and easy to understand. Because it's in the round there are no purl rows to trudge back along and although I miss having a rest and a change in rhythm, for some people that will be an advantage.

I don't often buy Knitscene- the last one I got was Winter 2005 - but I got the latest one because it has a couple of nice things in it, one of which at least wouldn't take too much knitting - the Tattoo Tank.

I must check whether it would work in Rowan's Summer Tweed. I have an embarrassing stash of ST from an abandoned project and this would use up, oh, at least a fifth of it.

Those of you with keen memories may be wondering what has happened to Dapper. It hasn't been abandoned, but I got to the stage where I realized that I was going to have to photocopy the pattern and scribble on it instead of just looking at it, and that took a few days to get round to. It's quite difficult to fit a Rowan mag into a copier, which is probably a good thing from their point of view. I've done it now but I haven't quite got round to co-ordinating the pattern, the knitting and the pen. I think there is also a suspicion at the back of my mind that if I put the Cowl down, I might not pick it up again in time.

To make up for the long silence, here's some more from School for Scoundrels.

I remember going to see this with my mother, probably not long after it came out. She was never one for trailing round shops, so if we had to go and buy shoes after school or something, we would bunk off afterwards to see a film. Sometimes it was the news cinema, for a newsreel and cartoons, and sometimes it was the latest Ealing comedy or a Powell and Pressburger. She took me to see my first 'X', Only Two Can Play, and I was a long way short of 16 at the time. I think I survived the experience without becoming hopelessly corrupted.

Here's the last scene of Scoundrels, just in case any of you were worrying that it didn't all come right at the end. Lovely flat, very modern, we thought.