Friday, 18 February 2011

I Spoke Too Soon

I did manage to fit in a couple of repeats on the latest Swallowtail Shawl before I got sidetracked by donor knitting again. Now I can't decide how many repeats to do.

Someone is going on a very hot holiday, and I kept having this irrational impulse to knit her something. I dismissed this as craziness, but then I thought that a simple linen stole might be acceptable - cue endless pageing through Ravelry for simple linen stoles.

Nothing really drew me in, and then I had a better idea. Bamboo fibre is deliciously cool, and would actually be useful on a hot day or a clammy evening. I thought about a Clapotis a bit as I've never actually made one and I still find the contradictory diagonals sort of fascinating. I did swatch it a long time ago, before I had done any lace knitting and I remember thinking there must be an easier way to do this. I checked out Rowan Bamboo Soft and discovered that my local John Lewis had it at an astonishingly good price - the colours are very beautiful, sugared-almond shades and not my sort of thing at all so it was nice to have the excuse. I was warned of extreme splittiness, but I knit slowly enough that it's not been a huge problem.

After looking at smaller variations of the Clapotis, I tried the Augustine, which is a triangular shawl, not a stole. It has a nice way of slipping two stitches in order to flatten the edges, but several repeats in I still wasn't reading the pattern and couldn't see whether I was on line 1 or 3 of the 4-row pattern.

Then I was saved by another cool Ravelry friend who faved the Klapo-Ktus, where the Clapotis meets the Baktus. The way the to-be-dropped stitches are handled in this is very neat and easy to read; they're just purled. I did this for a while, while mentally oohing and aahing over the heavenly feel of the yarn, and then I thought, these plain stitches on the even rows are really slowing me down. Would it be OK if I purled them, or would this lead to some horrible error at the critical half-way point? I messaged the designer (isn't Ravelry wonderful?) and she replied amazingly quickly and said, Why not? The only problem she could see might come when I was dropping the stitches, when if it was a sticky yarn they might not drop, but with the ultra-slippy bamboo I thought everything should be OK. So that's what I did. This is the back, so that you can see where the rib changes.

I've knitted two balls of the Bamboo Soft and I've now reached the unbearably exciting point where I start dropping stitches - I thought I might use another ball but the point is to create a sliver of coolness, not an enormous shawl, and I think we can be sure that the bamboo will stretch, and it's at least 29 inches long already.

The colour reminds me of the little lace sleeveless tops my Granny used to knit, in pale lemon and pink and green, for wearing with a tweed skirt and a cardigan. The yarn is a treat.

I've also been making good progress with the Debbie Bliss denim cardi. I finished the back and I'm well up the first sleeve. That's very interesting what you say, Anonymous, (comments on previous post) about the shaping on the Molly shrug. I'm very glad I didn't spend ages trying to get it 'right'.

One of the reasons I've spent a lot of time on this is because BBC4 is showing a very long Danish television series, The Killing, or Forbrydelsen. It's a detective story and it's in 20 parts; the BBC is showing them two at a time, so that we won't have forgotten the beginning by the time we get to the end I think. It's very gripping, with a second story about a politician and it's still not really clear how the two stories are going to be linked in the end. We thought we had found the murderer this week, although a little voice in my head was saying, it can't be him, we still have twelve episodes to go, and I was right. It wasn't him.

The detective, Lund, has the obligatory complications in her private life, and an unusually nagging mother. Her colleague seems to have a huge problem with authority, which is an unusual characteristic in a policeman, I would have thought. She has a nice knitted sweater which she has been wearing for weeks now, in spite of it getting badly torn in the sleeve when she was injured. It's been very neatly repaired since then.

The politician has a vey ambitious PA that he's sleeping with, although I don't think that's going to last much longer as I think she'll dump him the minute he's not in the lead. She reminds me of that thing they used to say about how Hillary Rodham's husband would have become President, whether or not he was Bill Clinton.

And there's a character that I'm very suspicious of, but I also suspect that it's clever writing that's making me suspicious and that he may well turn out to be a red herring too. No spoilers, please, Mette.

So with two hours a week where I can't take my eyes off the screen because I don't understand a word, miles of garter stitch are very welcome. I wonder if this trend for foreign crime telly, with Inspector Montalbano and Wallander and now this, might encourage someone to show us some other foreign telly drama: or do they think we'll only watch if it's a very familiar genre?

I saw a very good French film called Fair Play (that's the title in France too) which really took me by surprise. I thought it was going to continue in the light-hearted way that it started, but it became a lot darker - very dark. All the scenes took place between characters playing games and sports - squash, golf and so on - and ended on an extreme adventures outing. I did wonder if the last scene had been tacked on or changed as it felt slightly out of place, but it didn't spoil it. The only actor in it that I recognized was Marion Cotillard. I probably wouldn't have watched it if I'd known more about it, and it would have been my loss.

I also saw The King's Speech. I'm not sure why since I'm not remotely interested in the royal family (I can't decide if they're more boring than annoying, or vice versa) but I suppose I didn't want to be left out. There are some good scenes because Geoffrey Rush and Colin Firth are such good actors, but overall it suffered from some odd casting (I love Tim Spall, but as Churchill? Was Warren Clarke busy? And an unrecognisable Claire Bloom and an even more unrecognizable Jennifer Ehle, both plastered in so much makeup that there was no room for them to act at all.) And don't get me started on the ahem, adaptations they made to history.

What else? Saving Face, which is romantic comedy about a Chinese-American Lesbian in New York. No, really. It's surpisingly Woody-Allen-esque, not just because of the New York setting but also perhaps because of the traditions of match-making and interfering mothers which the Jewish and Chinese cultures appear to share. It's funnier than a lot of romantic comedies remember to be and is full of appealing characters.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

An End to Plain Knitting

There's been a bit more finishing. The little pink shrug / ballet cardi worked out very well. It's Debbie Bliss's Molly from Junior Knits. The Rowan Kid Classic was a perfect sub for the Cashmerino Aran. Everone says this comes out big so I skipped one set of increases in the sleeves, and I did 1 x 1 rib on the cuffs to make it look a little daintier.

I couldn't see the point of doing the collar and back ribbing in two sections and then sewing the side seams, so I did it the other way round and did the ribbing in the round.

I winged the picking up and the short rows and it came out a little bit wonky, but you can't see it in wear.

Not unless you pay her extra to stand still.

Anyway, it's a success and some of the other ballet mums want to place orders so I must have done something right.

I dashed off another infinity scarf, this time from the GAP-tastic Cowl pattern. It's Rowan Cocoon in Bilberry. The Cocoon is as lovely to knit with as I hoped it would be, and has a lovely silky drape owing to its untwistiness. Sadly no model shots this time.

This is an excellent pattern, a simple idea very effectively executed. I cast on fewer stitches because the recipient isn't a tall girl and I didn't want to swamp her. While it was on the needles it kept looking as if it would suit being narrow, but every time I cast off it started to look skimpy instead so I used the whole two balls. It's about 40 inches by nine.

I posted it off and got a delighted email this morning, but apparently it started to unravel shortly afterwards. Ooops.

That's pretty well the end of the knitting-for-other-people for the moment and I cast on for the cardi for me that's been in my mind since I scored that Debbie Bliss Denim Cotton on eBay last August. It's the Lace Edged Cardigan in her Denim book. It's very simple and I think it's something I would get a lot of wear out of: at the moment I'm planning to do the lace but one Raveller left it off so I'm keeping an open mind.

I'm currently on a stretch that consists of knitting garter stitch for 50 rows.

So it's time to look around and see what I was doing before that Christmas Blitzkrieg started, and to think about what else I want to do. I really, really, really want to make a Shadow[]box, but the thought of starting another garter-stitch project just now makes my brain bleed, so I think it'll be that Swallowtail Shawl in Schaefer Anne that I set down in November, and back to the second Venus de Merino, the Venus de Mud, and time for some counting and cursing and maybe even a few nupps. Can't wait.