Saturday, 24 December 2011

Actual Christmas Knitting

I got the Bronte Hat finished. The Rowan Plaid isn't all wool as I thought, but is still soft and warm and very nice to work with. It knits up in no time at all and is as much fun as I hoped. I put tassels on but I must have done that after I took the photograph.

I came across these photographs recently. It's the Hamish jacket from Rowan's Tadpoles and Tiddlers, by Kim Hargreaves.

I made it a long time ago: I was a fairly experienced two-colour knitter by then, but I found this a real chore. I didn't mind, because of who it was for, but I've never knitted tartan again.

I won't tell you who it is, because he's fifteen now and taller than I am, but the jacket is cute, isn't it?

Now that I'm out of danger as far as starting any more Christmas knitting is concerned, I've cast on for a January birthday present. I think you can probably guess what it is. 

It's two shades of Wollmeise, a purple and Magnolie Medium. The purple is completely wrong in the photo; it's a real  royal purple. I'm looking forward to getting lots of it done over Christmas and I just hope it isn't going to transform before my eyes into a horrible mistake.

I've bought a spiked ferrule for my walking stick. I've wanted one for years because a rubber ferrule on ice is one of the most useless things imaginable, but I thought they were probably illegal. However, it appears that are available and I've bought one, a Swedish one called Ingrid. Now that I am thus armed, the weather has warmed up and Edinburgh is likely to be one of the warmest places in Britain on Christmas Day. You couldn't make it up. I saw the most extraordinary cloud this afternoon, just before sunset, and tried to photograph it with no success: a couple of minutes later, Ian Rankin the crime novelist posted a picture of it to his Twitter feed. I don't seem to be able to copy it to this page, but here's the link Edinburgh 5 mins ago on Twitpic  It looked like the sort of cloud which could easily conceal an alien spaceship, which might explain a few things, but it was distinctly pink which bodes well.

The naughty penguins have been very popular on YouTube and some other people have posted the clip, so this should be visible outside the UK. The title isn't mine.

One of the many good things about this series is the music, which was specially written.

Lastly, here is a real Christmas clip. You might want to adjust your speakers.

It was posted to YouTube by the embarrassed big sister in the front row with the gold halo. I hope her sister's forgiven her. The Baby Jesus sleeps all the way through.

I hope everyone has a happy festive season and doesn't embarrass themselves, or at least not when the camera's rolling.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Some FOs which Aren't Striped

A kind and generous friend gave me a ball of the new stripy Kidsilk Haze from Rowan, in the Twilight colourway. I'm watching the projects on Ravelry and it seems to me that it looks best used in pieces which allow it to be seen in long stretches so that the bands of colours are narrow, i.e. lengthways scarves , long cowls or garments knitted in the round. I've been swatching for a lengthways scarf but then a couple of people did long cowls, and someone else did a Citron. Hmmm. Now Rowan have brought out a pattern book, called Kidsilk Haze Stripe Collection, which shows them to great effect. At first I could only take the more sombre shades to heart but now I'm not so sure.

I like Freya, although I can't imagine when I might ever wear it.

And the poncho, Megan, although the same applies.

(Ponchos have come back after hardly being away, have you noticed? I wonder if I might make one this time. Or would people think I was still wearing it from last time?)

While I'm copying and pasting little pics from websites, I spotted this while I was Xmas shopping.

It's from Marks and Spencer. Sorry it's such a tiny image. They're calling it a Slash Neck Knitted Top and it's 50% polyester so I don't suppose Sarah Lund would be seen dead in it, but it's only £35 so that's some consolation.

Speaking of Sarah Lund, if you're a fan of Scandinavian detectives, you might like this. Lovely sweater. If you click on the YouTube logo you can see it properly: it's widescreen so I can't squidge it in here.

I finished the pink cowl and gave it a soak and didn't exactly block it, but persuded the garter stich edges to lie flat.

I think it might have been better with just a rolled edge, but all I can see in my knitting at the moment is what is wrong with it, so I'm not going to dwell on it.

It feels delicious. I finished the Crispy Crunchy Snow Cowl as well.

I feel  bit happier with this but that's maybe because I haven't thought about it for long enough.

It's 40 inches by nine inches so it's a bit of an effort to get it round my neck twice, but it works perfectly well as a single loop and it'll probably soften up and grow a bit when it''s washed.

In spite of everyone's lack of interest, and a deafening silence when I asked if anyone wanted a hat, I've decided to do some Xmas knitting. I have wanted to knit Capucine ever since I first saw the pattern and burst out laughing. It is such a splendidly Victorian piece, suitable for tramping about moors looking miserable, but done with wit and style. One of my nearest and dearest is reading English at Stirling just now, and we recently discovered a mutual dislike of Dickens, so I think that could be celebrated with this hat. Stirling is a chilly campus, so I wanted an all wool yarn and in purple. I've ordered a ball of Rowan's discontinued Plaid in Bramble. I hope it arrives soon. I might even add a little Kidsilk Haze, which as Mary Lou says, is the bacon of yarn - makes everything better.  Everyone says it's a very quick knit. I hope I have enough yarn for all the tassels - I think the ones with pigtails at the side are cool, aren't they?

This is one for you, Mette. I have been meaning to post this for ages. It's an illusion, a piece of trompe l'oeil, but even although I've been looking at it for weeks, I still can only see it as if it's real. Do click on it to see it full size. It makes lovely desktop wallpaper.

Here it is in action, at Springdance 2011 in the Netherlands.

And thank you, Joan, for a new word - kawaii. I now wonder how I ever lived without it.

I saw The Ides of March recently and while it's o-k-a-y (watching George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti could never be a waste of time), I felt it was made at least five years too late and there was also bit of a plot hole (why didn't Ryan just tell George what he was doing right away?) Rachel Evan Wood was in too, the only female role really and she's good too, even in such experienced company. Marisa Tomei is in it, but not given much to do. So I wouldn't say you should rush out to see it, but if it 's ever on television you could watch it then.

Great news about another series of Southland being made after all, f11holdsteady. Between a new series of Southland and one of Justified, 2012 is looking up. Southland does that thing that you got in The Sopranos, where things are revealed to the audience but not to the characters, which is so much more interesting than the usual cathartic style of drama where everything is revealed and resolved. I always remember that moment when Tony came home from doing a piece of work with Christopher ('Bring two pairs of rubber gloves and a bottle of bleach,') and told Carmela that Janice's boyfriend Richie had done a runner - Carmela, in her best new Jersey accent, said 'Oh, Janice will be devastated,' but we knew better.

Monday, 12 December 2011

And Another One

This is all getting a bit samey. I'm sorry, but until I shake off the addiction, there's not much I can do about it. It's misfired this time, though.

I bought one skein of each colour of madelinetosh Merino Light to make a Different Lines, but after I had done my first Different Lines I was itching to do another Stripe Study instead so I just started, and sent off for another skein of Kelp meanwhile. The brown shade is William Morris. I knitted an extra stripe of Kelp, so it's a very good size.

This being the winter, I mostly knitted it in artificial light, and it was only when I saw a photograph that I really saw the difference in the colours.The first skein is a deep, rich, intense, organic shade of malachite and the second is well, green. I'm torn. I might rip it back and make it a short Study, or I might rip it all and make a Different Lines after all. Or I could decide it's all right really.

I've washed it and hung it to dry, to lengthen it, but I haven't woven in the ends yet because I haven't decided. It's a Christmas present for somebody, but I don't know whom. It feels gorgeous, has that heavenly swing  that  garter-stitch Merino Light has after washing.

My aunt asked for a pink cowl.

She's very elegant, and has a magnet on her fridge which reads, 'My tastes are simple: I only like the best,' so I looked at cashmere at first but then I decided Malabrigo Lace in Damask Rose would be soft and warm, and could be combined with a strand of Kidsilk Haze Spray. Either of these is an absolute pig to knit on its own on these needles, but together they're a joy.

The pattern is the Superior Cowl but I didn't knit the full length. I just knitted until the KSH ran out (not a full ball, just 15 grams) which gave a length of ten inches, which I think is fine. We don't have long necks in our family.

It's certainly simple: let's hope it's the best too. It still needs to be blocked. I'm thinking of knitting her a Stripe Study for her birthday in January, in Wollmeise, shades of purp and pinkle. And yes, I have enough yarn.

Lastly, we have a piece of sheer impulse knitting. I keep seeing thick squishy cowls in my Ravelry Friends' Faves, and I have some Jaeger Matchmaker Merino Chunky which has been burning a hole in my knitting bag. I love Jaeger Matchmaker and scoop it up on eBay from time to time, in interesting shades of grey and sometimes Charcoal. This is shade 302, a very creamy Cream. I don't have a pattern, just cast on 100plus stitches and set off. It's sort of like the lovely Gap-Tastic Cowl, but instead of moss stitch, it's seed stitch (or is the other way round? It depends where you're standing.) because I wanted it to be extra crunchy. It's like knitting crisp snow. I had thought of striping it with charcoal, but I think I'll keep it cream. This is two balls. I don't know who this is for either.

I was thinking of knitting some Christmas present hats, especially after I saw the fiendishly clever Howlcat, but I've asked around and haven't got any takers. This is possibly a good thing.

Moving Pictures
I have quite a lot of pix and clips that I want to show you, but I'll put them up in a day or two. Meanwhile, here are some kittens (and Mum) watching an ice skater on the telly.

There is a sound you can hear on the soundtrack which is either the noise of skates cutting through ice, or the sound of sharp little claws running down a television screen. I hope it's the former. There's a moment where there's an extra bit of light and you can see that they are little golden Bengals.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Not Completely in Love

It turns out that Comet isn't so moreish after all. It's one of those patterns that the first half takes no time at all, and the second half takes the rest of your life.  However, by working on it ceaselessly I managed to get to the stage where I could reasonably cast off and seam.

It doesn't say to block it but in everyone's photos it's plainly been thoroughly blocked, so I did that.

I was looking forward to seeing the pattern when it emerged, but it hasn't really. I suppose I didn't block it enough but it fought back quite hard.

I wish I had listened to my inner knitter and made it in the round. I kept wondering why it had a seam and I still do. But it's just a small attack of Post Knitting Disappoinment Disorder, not a major tantrum.

My loved one had good test results last week but will still be convalescing for a while  and will need something cosy. I forgot to take a pic of the bottle of matching nail polish which I parcelled up with some dvds and will post with it tomorrow. I hope she likes it.

While we're on the subject of family members, it appears that airing opinions about movies on the internet is a genetic trait - check out Internet Voices for some recent releases.

I caught Stupid, Crazy, Love recently. I have to confess that the presence of Ryan Gosling was one reason. Someone else clearly feels the same.

Oh, and this.

I know, I'm old enough to know better. More here, at FeministRyanGosling.

Anyway, back to the film. There's usually a character in a romcom who has to do something completely unmotivated and unconvincing in order to get the plot going, and in this case Julianne Moore is stuck with the role. Steve Carell is luckier, as is Emma Stone. At first I thought she was the girl with the saucer eyes from Glee, Jayma Mays, but she isn't. I laughed a lot at the funny bits. It has to be said the characters with the best chemistry are Steve and Ryan - chemistry doesn't always have to be sexual and they have the best lines and pace their scenes brilliantly. I would watch it again, and not just for Ry.

I forgot to say I saw Bridesmaids. I think I laughed once, at one of Melissa McCarthy's lines. She's a lovely girl, who's to be admired all the more for succeeding in Hollywood while not being anorexic, so why would a film which is supposed to be feminist put her in such hideous clothes? Why would they make her a figure of fun? Why is the 'heroine' always in very short skirts which reify her out of existence? And so on. So much of it seemed to me to have been done before: perhaps these things have to be discovered by each generation.  And could we please, just once, have a film or book about women which doesn't have any bl**dy cupcakes in it?

I thought I had written about Drive, but it appears that I didn't. It stars Ryan again, and Carey Mulligan and some other very good people including the wonderful Bryan Cranston, but you know what, hiring a lot of good actors doesn't stop it being full of pointless violence. I couldn't quite see why Ryan and Carey had taken it on except that they had next to no lines, just lots - and I mean lots - of meaningful glances. Albert Brooks is in it too and I always find him unbelievably wooden: other people claim he's very good so that must be a failing on my part. He really spoils Broadcast News for me.

And I should benmore tolerant, Knitlass. I'll watch Burke and Hare when it comes on the telly.

The third series of Southland is showing now on More 4 on Thursdays at 9.00. You can catch up on earlier episodes from this series on 4OD, and it's worth getting the first two series on DVD. Simply, it's a cop show set in Los Angeles, but it's outstanding. It has a documentary style, with a James Ellroy twist: the sun is always in your eyes and terrible things happen, and yet we keep going. It's produced by John Wells who wrote ER and made Third Watch and The West Wing, so you can imagine how well it does gut-wrenching emotional involvement and ensemble acting. It got cancelled after the third series, which brings home how tough Hollywood is: if John Wells can get cancelled, nobody's safe.

On a slightly less angst-ridden level, there's a new natural history series on BBC1, Frozen Planet, about the North and South Poles. The first episode did feature a very badly beaten up polar bear so it isn't all creeping glaciers. Before it started I thought it might all be a bit familiar but within ten minutes I was gobsmacked.

I hope this clip can be viewed outside the UK.

I keep thinking this must have been set up, but it couldn't be, could it?

PS I'm sorry to hear that this clip of a Very Naughty Penguin can't be viewed from Canada, grannypurple. It shows some male penguins lining their nests with stones - someone on Twitter said that the female penguins were off buying hats, but surely that can't be true? One male penguin is working quite hard while his neighbour pops in every time his back is turned and steals a hard-won stone. This seems to be quite widespread behaviour as the thief has to fend off another male penguin who is stealing stones from his nest. It's tempting to see this as typical of some human behaviour too, bu that would just be sheer anthropomorphism, wouldn't it?

Even if you can't watch the programme, it's entertaining to follow the comments on it on, Twitter using the hashtag #frozenplanet

Monday, 24 October 2011

Something that Isn't a Stripe Study

Did you hear that noise? Sort of rhythmic, and impatient? It was me, drumming my fingers as I waited for the second skein of Kelp to turn up. The colours work brilliantly.

I'm happy with this, although still not absolutely sure that I'll give it to the person I have in mind.

To fill in the time, I started a Comet cowl in Kidsilk Aura. One of my loved ones is having surgery, to be followed by a fairly long convalescence, so I thought something soft and light might help keep her warm while she works her way through a stockpile of dvds.

The lace is a very simple pattern but I wouldn't recommend it to a beginner as the Rowan Kidsilk Aura isn't the easiest to work and needs the right needles. I use Addi Turbos a lot, but if I'd used them for this I think I would have flung it at the wall by now. Fortunately, the needle I happened to pick up was a rosewood circ with very sharp pointy points, and they can handle the loops and snaggles and insane fluff with ease. I really like the yarn, so I'm very glad to have found a way to work with it.

Every row starts with casting a stitch on and then casting one off, which gives a nice runcible edge. It's knitted flat and then joined beginning-to-end.

I could imagine these being quite moreish, if I weren't already addicted to the Stripe Study.

Here's a joke you've probably heard before.

The Guardian recently covered Edinburgh in their City Guide series. This includes a list of Ten of the Best Films Set in Edinburgh. When I first read the list I thought it was the ten best and I got somewhat cross, but 'ten of the best' is vague enough that I calmed down. You can read the descriptions and see clips here, but the titles are

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Chariots of Fire
Hallam Foe
Shallow Grave
The Illusionist
Burke and Hare
One Day

I haven't seen Regeneration yet, or One Day. I don't plan to see Burke and Hare. I think Festival is absolutely dreadful. Jean Brodie, Trainspotting, Chariots and The Illusionist I like a lot, and Shallow Grave is one of my favourite movies ever. I used to watch it after a bad day at work and it always cheered me up: I'm not sure what this says about me or my job, but there you are.

My favourite of the films missing from the list is The Battle of the Sexes, an early Peter Sellers film adapted from a James Thurber short story, The Catbird Seat. Made in 1959, it's in black and white and directed by Charles Crichton, who made so many of the Ealing Comedies and at the age of 78, A Fish Called Wanda. It was photographed by the great Freddie Francis. I was going to add a clip here, but this is the whole film! You'd better get a cup of coffee.

It's a bit dark, but in the circumstances we can't really complain. Sellers makes his first appearance about 2: 45 in, in the Royal Mile. You can see Edinburgh as it looks in The Illusionist, which I raved about here.

I saw Midnight in Paris, the new Woody Allen film, last week. I don't quite understand why everyone's raving about it as much as they are, but I enjoyed it and will happily watch it again. I wish Woody Allen would visit Edinburgh; it's hard to see how he could resist setting a film here if he did.

To end with a dance, for those of us who like musicals and film noir, here's a nice mashup showing George Raft dancing in a film called Side Streets. Yes, really it does. Just stay with it.

Raft was known for tough guy roles, and was refused entry to the UK in 1967 because of his gangster associations, but was quite the dancer in his early days and was a chorus boy in New York. This is the scene in the original movie, complete with some wonderfully wooden acting.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Steve Jobs

1955 - 2011

Monday, 3 October 2011

At Last

I'm sorry. You are all quite right to nag, and thank you for being so gentle. The thing is, there hasn't been much knitting, or rather much knitting that has survived. Where there has been knitting, there has also been ripping. I did finish the Different Lines. Here's a blurry photo from before it was washed.

I went to get it just now to photograph it properly, and there is an enormous spider on top of it, so you'll have to wait again. It's been a busy summer for livestock here. The mice came back. My upstairs neighbour unplugged  the deterrent in her flat while she was doing some DIY, so we both got them - they swing between our kitchens, - and I was blaming her under my breath, and then I discovered that my deterrent had stopped working so it was my fault too. I have apologized. The are called Pestbye, cost about £20 each and lasted almost two years, which I consider a bargain. I recommend them wholeheartedly. You can get them from Amazon and eBay too, and in the U.S. They make an ultrasonic sound, but more importantly, they also set up an electric disturbance around the wiring circuit which the mice can't bear. If the mice have babies they won't leave at once but will wait until the babies can come along, which is when they are four weeks old (don't say Aaaw; they have dirty feet and they wee everywhere).

After spending a noisy Saturday night having a party behind the skirting board in my bedroom, they went, but one got left behind or couldn't find his way out. I was sitting knitting at two o'clock one morning, watching the news live from Libya so the room was full of the sounds of gunfire, screaming and explosions, when a little tiny black thing shot out from under the sofa and ran under some wool. I went to bed.

After a couple more days, and after cleaning under the sofa, I was sitting knitting again when I saw something else moving and this time it was a huge spider. I mean really huge. Like Woody Allen said, it was the size of a Buick. I'm not scared of spiders, but I don't like really huge ones indoors. I took its photograph -  I won't post it here in case some of you never come back - and sent it to a friend, who said it looked like a garden spider. This is a fairly vague label, but it does support my idea that it was something that shouldn't have been indoors. The one I just found amongst my scarves wasn't quite so huge but still has very long legs. I expect it's this deeply unsettling weather that's causing it. At midnight on Friday in Edinburgh it was 18 C in Edinburgh, hotter than London or Paris. It was balmy in Waverley Station - any of you who have ever been in Waverley Station will know that it has its own micro-climate and is inhospitably cold all year round. It has metal benches which chill you to the bone if you sit on them for 5 minutes, but on Friday evening, it was balmy. I don't know if we should be looking out for polar bears or for leopards, but I'm not surprised we have a few extra spiders.

So, knitting. I started another Stripe Study, with some madelinetosh in William Morris, a rich, rich brown, and some Wollmeise in Barist'O. I thought this was going to be a stunning combination as the Barist'O is green and blue with a bit of brown and black.

The colours you see here aren't entirely true as the blue and green have a tendency to swap places with one another while I'm pressing the button, but you get the general idea.

I thought that the Brown in the two yarns would complement each other, and the green and the lighter blue would contrast nicely, but instead something ghastly happened. I don't think it shows properly here.

The stripes vanished because of the other brown and the green became a hard emerald shade instead of the soft sea that it looked before. I persevered for a while, but I had to admit that it just didn't work, and I ripped it. I tried some Fyberspates sock with the brown but I ripped that out even sooner. 

Then I started a Scalene scarf, in three beautiful pale shades of  Rowan Pure Silk. They don't show correctly here, but they're pale spring green, a sweet blue and a pearly grey. 

Something horrible happened and the colours merged into each other, like when you mix all the colours in your paint box and they turn into sludge. So I ripped that.

By this time, as you can imagine, I was getting very nervous. So I did what any rational person would do in the circumstances and bought some more Wollmeise, this time a purple Versuchkaninchen.

I must have spent a week pairing up colours and looking at them. I nearly made a decision a couple of times and then backed off. Perhaps I would never finish anything again, and would pass my life in a never-ending paroxysm of indecision. But there was one combination that I kept putting aside because I only had one skein of the second colour, one that I had already seen knitted up on Ravelry and had fallen in love with. I meant to do a Different Lines with it, but when I wore the first one I realized that I didn't to make another of those. It's lovely, but it's not the Stripe Study and that's all there is to it.  

Eventually it dawned on me that I could buy a second skein of the Kelp, and so I started again. 

It seems to be working out nicely.

The Kelp is greener than it looks here. The tosh Merino Light is so soft to work with, a beautiful yarn. I find their inability to get the colours right a bit of an affectation - my William Morris brown should have some turquoise in it but it barely has a few scraps of pale blue. I can understand dyelots not matching but the colours should be present. . .  but I can still understand why people fall so much in love with it. I think this one might be a go-er.

There were some suggestions that I could offer some songs of my own, but I'm afraid I never sing in public. I have such a bad voice that at school I mimed during singing lessons, as the children standing next to me said I put them off the tune. I mime at weddings and funerals for the same reason. I once sang a nursery rhyme to one of my nieces when she was small and she looked at me very seriously and said, 'I know that song, but to a different tune.' She didn't, of course. 

Yes, Donice, I like the Catkin Shawl and almost used the William Morris and Kelp for it for a Christmas present for a friend. They are such Arts and Crafts colours, I think they would suit it very well. If I don't give her this Stripe Study, I may still do a Catkin.

More soon. There are movies to catch up with.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

No Knitting, So Singing Instead

I finished the Machair Stripes and washed it and it g-r-e-w wonderfully, but it's far too hot to photograph it so you'll just have to take my word for it meanwhile.

And since then I've been stuck. I do a little bit, usually four rows, of the Palatina from time to time but that's all so I think that's maybe not a keeper. It's probably the two strands of laceweight that's slowing me down. I suspect that if I were to wind one of my skeins of Wollmeise or madelinetosh merino light that I would be off again madly gartering, but that would require me first of all to make a decision about which colours to use and that seems to be out of the question at the moment.

So instead, here's another girl singer, Ronnie Spector at the Lincoln Center, NYC, last Saturday, singing Be My Baby with quite the line-up of backing singers.

And LaLa Brooks singing Da Doo Ron Ron, with the girls again.

And The Angels singing My Boyfriend's Back.

Now try and tell me you didn't join in with any of those.

Thanks to @oliverburkeman who alerted me to these on Twitter.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Knitting First, then News

Knitting First
I finished my third Stripe Study, the watery one in madelinetosh merino light. I soaked it and then left it to dry in such a way that it would stretch under its own weight. I didn't want to block it in case it looked stretched, but I wanted it to get a bit swingy. Which it did.

It's beautiful and I wish the weather was colder so that I could wear it. It hasn't been warm, but it hasn't been cool enough to wear a wool shawl. 

And I got an extra stripe of green in the Machair Stripes. The last stripe used nearly a fifth of the ball, and I was left with four grams of green left over. I'm still on the last band.

This bit is somewhat interminable because up until now there's always been something going on, counting, or wrapping, or heading back, or making a narrow stripe, whereas this is just knitting. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

This is the best pic I've got of the colours in the dark blue Jabberwocky. I had 66 grams left for the last stripe.

I couldn't resist starting a little something something, a Palatina shawl. The pattern is only available with the yarn, as a kit, but I've hazarded a guess at how it works and I've set off. This is the Colourmart lace set which I was planning to do something else with - actually there's probably enough yarn for both, but the earlier idea has palled.

It's two rows of plain and two rows of purl, executed indefinitely with a stitch added at one end on every second row.

The Murdoch business continues to hypnotise. It doesn't look as if they got the numbers of 9/11 families, kmkat, as that story has faded away on closer investigation (it was in fairly unreliable newspaper to start with), but they did get the numbers and addresses of 7/7 families, probably from someone in the police. That's the sort of news that gives you a cold feeling in the pit of the stomach. When most people were running about making a difference, someone was making a quick buck.  It has been replaced in the rolling news schedules by the more immediately awful events in Norway. I've stopped watching the news constantly because it was so annoying, as well as deeply disturbing. When the carnage in Norway began, the interviewers all but asked, 'Did you see a dark-skinned man wearing a head-cloth running away?' It was as if we'd never heard of blue-eyed blonds causing any trouble. Or Christians.

And then on Saturday when Amy Winehouse was found, they all became experts on addiction and started second-guessing that too. A lot of them seemed to think that it would be less of a shock and less distressing for her family because of her history, and didn't hesitate to say so rather placidly, but anyone who has been close to an addict knows that this isn't true.

Let's remember her at her best instead, singing a Carole King song.

(I think I got the size a bit better this time, Zippiknits!)

Monday, 11 July 2011

Still Striping Steadily

I'm on the last stretch of the weathered Stripe Study. I sort of abandoned it for a little while when I started another Veera shawl.

'Only' an inch or so to go on the final stripe. These two shades of madelinetosh Merino Light are different yarns. I understand they changed the base yarn. The off-white one is much softer. I hope it's the later version of the yarn.

And I've reached the end of the stripes on the Different Lines, which you haven't seen at all.

The blue is from Jessie at What Housework?, who now has an Etsy shop. I think it was called Jabberwocky, which would have been enough to make me buy it even if it hadn't been a lovely colour. It's over the edge of blue and into indigo / violet, with lots of tiny particles of other shades. The pale green is from The Yarn Yard and was called 612. I think they're perfect together, like a scattering of flowers across a meadow or a machair.

I've done the 14 stripes required by the pattern, and I've paused because I think it may not be quite big enough. It's in line with the measurements in the pattern but other people's look larger: in particular, the pointy bit at the beginning looks small on mine. I know it'll grow in time but still. I may as well do another stripe anyway, because it's not as if I can do much else with the remaining 21 grams of yarn.

I would have posted sooner, but I have been absolutely glued to the television news and Twitter, following the Murdoch affair. I sometimes put the television on pause while I check Twitter, and then fast-forward so that I can catch up again.  I have been following this story for as long as The Guardian has been covering it but things really took off towards the end of last week. I think the extraordinary aspect is that there is so far no apparent end to it. People talk of drawing a line in the sand, but so far the tide has always come in and washed it away.

Usually when we're riveted by a story, it hangs on a single event and a single area of public life. Will X be elected? Will Y resign? Will Z be convicted? Once the question is answered, matters are resolved no matter how shocking they may be. But this one has leapt in unexpected directions, like the closure of a Sunday newspaper on Thursday afternoon (which Murdoch may well have been planning to close anyway) - I went out for a couple of hours and missed it - and it is still unclear which individuals might crash and burn. Will the Prime Minister suffer because of his appointment of Andy Coulson - it turns out that everyone and his granny advised him against it, but he took the line that he knew best.

On Friday when he was interviewed by the police for nine hours, did Andy Coulson sing like a canary or did he say, 'No comment,' until it was time to go home?

How many police were involved in the bribes? We used to be given the impression that it was a few uniformed plods pocketing wads of crumpled fivers, but it must have gone higher and wider. How high? Who was the most senior officer involved? How could a newspaper spend tens of thousands of pounds paying off policemen without the people who countersigned the claims being aware?

And of course there is BSkyB, which Murdoch was planning to take over shortly. And what if a spark is ignited across the pond? What did Les Hinton, CEO of Dow Jones, know? And which other newspapers are going to be discovered to have been doing the same? Sometimes it seems that the only event which comes close is Watergate.

And now this story tonight that they tried to get the mobile phone numbers of British victims of 9/11, with a view to hacking them. Every time we think we've heard the worst, they trump themselves.

So far there are still few prepared to say openly that the reason a lot of these people went along with the News International crew is because they would be royally stitched up in one of their newspapers if they didn't. Dossiers were kept, and dirt could always be discovered, or invented. Like J. Edgar Hoover, who could, and did threaten presidents. Perhaps one of the consequences of these events will be that they will lose that power.

Whatever happens, it will all greatly facilitate chewing through large quantities of garter stitch.