Friday, 25 June 2010

Nearly at the Nupps

I'm trying to decide whether or not to any more repeats of the budding lace pattern on the Swallowtail before I start on the lily of the valley section. I've done 18 repeats. I think I'll stop.

I'm sort of wondering about altering the lily of the valley section ever so slightly, by making it a couple of stitches wider. I feel that it's a pity that the two patterns don't flow from one to the other: it moves from a six-stitch repeat to a ten-stitch repeat, and I think it would look better if the second one were based on a twelve-stitch repeat. But would something go horribly wrong? I suppose the thing to do is to put in a lifeline and try it. I should probably put in a lifeline anyway.

I don't make a habit of polishing my needles, Mary Lou, but when I took them out of the bag they looked very dull and I didn't like the idea of brass oxide coming off on my lovely snowy yarn, so I did. I have to confess to keeping Brasso in the house, though, and I have been known to polish the letterbox, cough.

I spent an awful lot of time yesterday trying to upgrade my iPod Touch to iOS4. It kept hanging, so finally I told it to restore to the factory setting, did the upgrade, and then re-installed everything. It took no time at all. I think I've lost some music by doing this, but frankly it was either that or throw it out of the window so I feel I made the right choice. I was then disappointed to learn that some aspects of the upgrade don't apply to the model I have (2G) because it's all of a year old. Sigh. Strange how petulant one can get about not having a wallpaper photo behind the App icons.

On the plus side, having just had another birthday, I acquired a gadget to enhance my use of last year's gadget. Using my iPod Touch when I'm out is a haphazard business as free broadband isn't always available even when it's claimed to be (railway operators, are you listening?) and it hasn't been worthwhile my subscribing to BT OpenZone or anything of that sort because they are all time limited and I simply don't get out enough to justify buying a voucher that has to be used within three days. I knew that eventually someone would invent what I need, and they have and I think it's magical.

It's a Huawei E5830, a mobile broadband wireless modem that you can carry in your pocket. Mobile wireless is called MiFi so I'm going to call this my little Mo Fo. Not only does it give me wireless broadband access while it's in my pocket, but it supports 5 items altogether, so it can support my Touch, two friends' laptops and an iPad and a camera all at the same time. It can be used with a mobile broadband Pay As You Go card, which isn't time limited. I feel as if I'm living in the future. Where's my jetpack?

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Lace At Last

Thank you for the suggestions about my bikini-shaped swatches, but I think the thong-wearing days of the Comtesse de Ribes (b. 1931) are past, as indeed are my own. Mostly. Thanks too for the info about the YSL docos, Gretchen. I've put them on my list.

A second cone of white laceweight merino arrived from the lovely Linda yesterday, so I will be able to do the white maybe-Christening shawl double-stranded without having to wind any off, oh joy, oh bliss. The second cone is merino from Tasmania, which is exciting. It's a creamy white which brings the bright white down to a softer shade. As soon as it arrived I started a swatch (in my pyjamas) but in fact I couldn't see a good reason to cast off so I've kept going and it's no longer a swatch but the start of the shawl. It's so nice to have something dainty on the needles again.

The sheet it's pinned to is pale blue, by the way, not dingy white. I got out the Brasso and polished my Addi lace needles before I started: they're gleaming. I'm not going to do a square or a circle. It'll just be a triangular Swallowtail. The only problem I had with the double strands was with the slip stitch in the sl 1, k 1, psso, so I'm now doing that as a k2tog through the back loops, and it's working more easily. I'll worry later about whether they will actually want a christening shawl, or whether they already have some elderly female relative to placate.

I've finished the back of Billie. I thought I wasn't going to need all the yarn but then I remembered the hood. I'm still very happy with the colour and it's going a little quicker than I expected.

The baby in Dubai has arrived and is a little girl. Both well. I'm beginning to think I might give the green and cream Pinwheel to her after all. I'm on the last cream stripe and then I have two balls of Sea Spray which would do a fancy cast off. It also occurs to me that I have some* of the distressed green version of this yarn and that could soften it a bit. Here it is, with a cabled swatch that I have no memory of knitting.

The problem with keeping it for the August baby is that in Scotland green and white stripes indicate support of a particular football team, and my friends may not be able to put up with the jokes. I'll have to make the Dubai baby a Daisy Hat, as her big sister and her cousin each have one so it's a bit of a tradition. She may be going to be named Ava.

I watched what I thought was the last Wallander of the second series. I had expected the ghastly young couple to be finally sacked because they were sucking face in a squad car while the suspect arrived and got her head caved in with a poker, but they were bright-eyed as ever, and allowed to graduate. Then the whiny girl was again put in danger and nastily beaten up (have I mentioned the amount of threatened or actual violence to women in the second series?) and again did something very stupid. Wallander then took it upon himself to risk his career and his pension in order to cover up for her. Give me a break. One always expects a series to like this to fall off a bit when they run out of the original stories but the fall here has been particularly abrupt. I have since discovered that it wasn't the last episode: there is one more, in which surprise, surprise, the female prosecutor is put in danger - it's been shown but I haven't watched it yet. I'm not sure I can stand it.

This seems a suitable time to remind ourselves of David Mitchell's superb diatribe about football coverage on the television.

During the first England match of the World Cup, my Twitter feed jammed up with disconsolate fans' comments, but by the second they had lapsed into speechlessness, or Twitterlessness. Long may it continue.

*Discovered that I actually have ten balls of it. Eeeek.

Friday, 11 June 2010

The Comtesse de Ribes Has Brought Her Own Vodka

The knitting here is mostly rather unremarkable and not really worth photographing. I've nearly finished the second ball of Kid Classic on Billie. Every 16th row I get to do two decreases, woop de doo, but I'm enjoying it. I picked up the green and white Pinwheel again last night and am flogging onwards. It occurs to me that both the upcoming babies have an Irish connection so I may not have to throw it away.

I'm still swatching for that baby shawl. This is some Yeoman Polo laceweight, 100% merino, which I bought years ago on eBay from someone who is now a Ravelry friend. It is s-o springy, it's sometimes like knitting with shirring elastic. Used single and double.

While I was doing these, I remembered that I knitted a Shetland Triangle in white angora, and it suddenly became less important to do this in Fir Cone stitch. I keep thinking how good this yarn would be for the lily of the valley pattern in the Swallowtail Shawl. It's on a cone, so if I'm going to use it double I will have to wind off a lot of it. I'm rather old school about winding yarn and like to do it by hand because it reminds me of holding skeins for my aunties, but I might have to be more practical about this or I will end up with a horrible fankle.

Little Boxes
This is an idea I stole from Fleegle, who sells Folca boxes on her Etsy site. To save on the mileage, I buy them from a fishing tackle seller on eBay UK, tradtackle. The colour is a true purpley purple although it looks blueish in these photos.

I got this one for myself, and this duo as a thank you for a friend. You have to have some special friends for them to appreciate a tackle box as a thank you present, but if you do, then these are just the job.

There's another one, which looks as if it might take a tiny pair of scissors. The labels peel off. You have to tell him you want purple, or they come in camouflage green if you prefer. Very nice, helpful seller, and fast delivery.

Viewing Pleasure
All this vanilla knitting has allowed me to spend a lot of time staring blankly at the television screen. I watched a doco about Valentino, the couturier - Valentino, the Last Emperor.

This probably isn't the place to say this, but I actually get more excited about fabric and cut than I do about yarn and stitches (please don't blacklist me) and I was interested to see that his methods are completely different from Karl Lagerfeld, whom I saw in a series about the house of Chanel. Lagerfeld draws sketches which are whisked off and rendered into life by cunning sempstresses, while Valentino works with fabric on a model - a living, walking about model. I would rather wear Armani than either of them, given the choice, but I still hyperventilate at the sight of the skills exercised by those women in ateliers. Looking at an assembly of his designs from the beginning of his career, Valentino said, 'To do this embroidery today, you would need to sell an Italian bank.'

Also fairly gobsmacking are the glimpses into the lives revealed by such a programme. At a hugely fancy party thrown by Valentino, full of important people and people who think they're important, a flunkey dashed behind the scenes and said breathessly, 'The Comtesse de Ribes has brought her own vodka.' I was brought up to eat and drink what was put in front of me when I'm in someone else's house, but plainly it's different for the Comtesse. Or maybe she was just afraid he wouldn't have enough.

The second series of the Swedish Wallander is nearing its end, and I'm rather relieved. They've used up all the Henning Mankell books and are making up their own now, and it's become quite formulaic. Almost every episode has a young female in danger - done in way which is voyeuristic, at least to my jaundiced eye - and we have far too much about the two trainees and not enough about Wallander, who spends all his time being told off by the female prosecutor and whined at by the female trainee. The latter spends a lot of time complaining about not getting anything interesting to do, and then disobeying instructions and putting her own and other peoples' lives in danger, and then getting petulant when she's told off. And they send the two trainees off together to question people, instead of sending one of them with an experienced person - I know it's not a documentary, but really. I can spot a dramatic device when I see one, and this one is getting tired. Sweetly, though, the BBC always gives us a strong language warning at the beginning, although it's subtitled. Obviously we have to be protected against Swedish swearing.

I watched a bit of Sleep, My Love this week, with Claudette Colbert as the Frightened Wife and Don Ameche as the Sinister Husband. I much prefer Don Ameche when he's allowed to be charming, as here with Rosalind Russell in The Feminine Touch.

It reminded me that there's a very good Sinister Husband film on television this coming week, Deceived (BBC1, Monday 14 June, 23.20). It's one of those films that if I catch the beginning, I'll always watch it all over again. Goldie Hawn is the Frightened Wife and John Heard is the Sinister Husband, and the last bit, in the empty apartment building, always gets to me.

Zombies don't frighten me, and vampires bore me, but those people who turn out to be someone other than they appear to be - there's always a scene with a high school yearbook and the photograph is of - Someone Else! - they scare the bejasus out of me. It's a very creepy notion, that you've revealed yourself to someone who was only pretending to exist, or at least it is for me.

It should allow quite a lot of green stocking stitch of one sort and another, so I might have something to show you in my next post.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Vegetables and Greenish Knitting

Thank you for the vegetable lesson, Gretchen (yesterday's comments). I had always thought rutabaga was a leaf that you put in salads. For clarity, here is the item in question.

This is the only way I eat it, with haggis: it's good when it has enough butter and pepper on it, but then so do most things.

I was actually translating when I wrote 'Swede', because to me this is a turnip or a neep but when I lived in London that name seemed to be used for the small white ones and I've never established whether this was a local usage or a national difference, and to be fair, I didn't spend much time on the subject. I wonder why the name of this extremely humble vegetable should vary so much when carrots, which are equally humble, are so consistent. You would think that whatever else the pilgrims had with them, there would have been some of these left over when they arrived and that they would have an English-sounding name.

My aunt, who's 92 next month, says that milk used to taste horrible in the winter because the cattle were being fed on turnip, by which she meant the big yellow ones. I still tend to think of it as cattle feed.

Anyway, the swatch of neep-coloured wool served its purpose. I have 20 stitches to four inches and the pattern requires 21: this is close enough for government work and should give me the slight extra room I need to make the largest size fit me. I cast on last night and after toiling for hours, I have this, which is going to be the back.

It's Billie by Kim Hargreaves, from Precious. This is very like Georgie in Breeze, which I liked a lot but that's in Pima Cotton, while Billie is in Kid Classic. No contest. It took me a long time to choose between this colour and Tattoo, but I finally decided that I have enough dark blue things and that this will go with dark blue. Progress. It's called Teal, but it isn't at all; it's a faded bluish green verdigris with a lot of grey in, a sort of sea mist. Or perhaps Lichen. I don't think it's going to be finished in a hurry, but I hope not to need a warm hooded jacket in the next couple of months anyway.

Rue McClanahan died this week. That means Betty White is the only one of the Golden Girls left, which must be sad for her, like being the last left of siblings. Rue played Blanche, the insatiable Southern Belle.

Here's the real Rue, who is fortunately a lot calmer.

That's from a series of clips of an interview she and Betty did, along with some of the writers and others from the Girls, worth a watch if you werea fan. The bespectacled one at our left is Marc Cherry, who went on to create Desperate Housewives, which was funny until he left and it turned into what it had been a parody of in the first place. Glee seems to have done the same thing a lot faster, within the first series - first fairly savage lampoon and now, well, just a lot of singing and dancing.

I'm afraid there's another obituary; Duffy the photographer died this week. There's a good film about him, The Man Who Shot the Sixties, which is being shown again on BBC4 next Saturday, the 12th of June. He was famously grumpy and bad-tempered, and his friend David Bailey says he will have no-one to argue with now. 'If you said, "It's a nice day," to Duffy, he'd pick an argument with you.

John Lennon by Duffy
Before we get too miserable, here's another Golden Girls clip, with George Clooney.

George Clooney always lifts the spirits, I find.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Still Not Much Further Forward

I finshed Dapper and steamed it a bit, but I must admit to feeling completely indifferent towards it. I've tried it on and it's a bit big but nothing terminal. It's still a lovely colour. I think I could throw it away quite happily, but I should probably hang on to it and allow myself to re-discover it in a few months. This is more due to the yarn than the pattern: other people make lovely things with Wool Cotton, but I can't love it.

I swatched the yarn I thought I was going to use for a Queen Anne's Lace christening shawl. It's Colourmart's silk, cashmere and merino laceweight.

It's very nice, but I won't be knitting on four needles with it again. I found myself getting into a rage and could hardly bring myself to exercise enough patience to cast off. I'll be fine using it on long needles, and I've established that it suits the rosewoods very well, so that's something. It's still oiled for industrial knitting so it's not soft and delicious, but it blooms something lovely after washing.

Thanks for the baby cardi suggestion, Mary Lou. I'm not sure that my audience would appreciate it. The socks are lovely, Mette, and I just bought the Accessories book, so they are going on the list.

I've been looking at patterns. I'm very taken with the Fir Cone pattern. I was thinking of just doing a Shetland Triangle, but then I found the lovely Fir Cone Square Shawl. And then of course there's Raveller's lovely Fir Cone diamondways. And Beata has done a beautiful baby blanket. She uses that variation where instead of one big decrease, there's two wee decreases (I hope that isn't too technical for you) which gives two parallel lines of stitches. I think this is it. And now Blue Peninsula has given us this Stony Brook Stole which uses something like it but with subtle variations. I swatched the diamondways way in white Paton's Jet but it's too bulky. Back to the thinking board.

I'm making quite good progress with the latest All Seasons Cotton Pinwheel, but I think it's hideous.

The colour looked sort of sea green (it's Sea Spray, which I don't think was ever released) but beside the cream (Organic) it's turned very green. It looks like the sort of blanket you would be given by an elderly female relation, and I'm not yet ready to be that relation. The baby daddy is Irish-American so I'll wait and see; if it's a boy, I might hand it over, but it's far from a certainty.

I did a swatch tonight.

It doesn't have to be perfect, but I want to make sure I'm not using too small a needle, as I don't want to have to buy extra yarn. It's Rowan Kid Classic, one of my favourites. I'm not going to use that colour, which is called Sandstone but should be called Swede, a horrible turnip colour. Or that sort of melon which tastes like turnip. Sandstone is good for knitting Harry Potter scarves in the Gryffendor colours, but not much else, and it's been discontinued. Watch this space to see what I'm going to make and what colour I'm going to use.

It was Tony Curtis's birthday yesterday. He was 85.

And if you want o see him dressed as a man, this one from Operation Petticoat can't be embedded, but do click and go and see it on the YouTube site: Tony out-Carys Cary. Well, no-one could out-Cary Cary, but he tries.