Tuesday, 29 March 2011

More Distractions

All the bits of the Debbie Bliss Denim Cardi are finished. The back seems to be the right size after all, but I'm going to tack the whole thing together first so that I can check, before I undertake the massive seaming project. Yes, the yarn is discontinued, Mette, but it still crops up on eBay all the time.

And I've finished another ball of RYC Silk Aran on the Clapo-Ktus scarf. This is two-balls worth and I have four balls left so I think this is one third of the final length, although I might make it shorter if it gets too heavy.. I did the increases during the first ball, and have gone straight for the second.

I got distracted by something else bright and shiny. It was the Yarn Harlot's fault. She made a pair of mittens. I'm somewhat obssessed with silk. One of my more embarrassing secrets is a small collection of kimonos that I've bought on eBay because I couldn't resist their fabulousness, and when I spent 36 hours in Shanghai, I devoted two of them to going round a silk factory.

This angry little person is a decorated silk cocoon which I think I bought in one of the shops at the Smithsonian - can that be right? Anyway, it's about an-inch-and-a-half long, and if you shake it you can hear its owner and builder rattling about inside it. The filament for one cocoon unwinds to a length of about one mile. These 'hankies' each use one cocoon and aren't woven; they're sort of spread out on a frame - very good tutorial here in Knitty from the redoubtable Amy Singer. This form of silk is also known as mawata.

I had managed to ignore silk for spinning because if I allow myself to be diverted by spinning, I won't be able to knit all the things I want to knit, but the Harlot's unspun mawata seduced me completely and she offers the possibility of knitting it without the spinning. I found a British supplier who hadn't sold out, George Weil, and ordered some.

They sent purple, pink and blue and I started tearing them apart as soon as I'd opened the parcel.

I even knitted up a couple of little swatches.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but it's lovely stuff. 

First of all, British viewers of The Killing must go here.  I made some open sandwiches for the final episodes of The Killing on Saturday night - pickled herring, shrimp, salami and gherkins, on dark rye bread (I don't dare drink cofee after 5 p.m., Gretchen. and I didn't think of beer, so I was forced to drink wine). I put the lights out for Earth Hour - I know, I should have put the television off too, but really - and lit a candle. I discovered there are hazards to eating open sandwiches in the dark. I won't say anything specific here, because you might be going to catch the repeat, or you may be waiting for the American version which starts soon, but I wasn't disappointed. It was the person that I suspected quite a long time ago. I don't see Sarah Lund as some sort of feminist heroine, because she seemed to do the same things as male characters in her situation do (i.e. the television maverick), which is disappointing, and I'm curious to see how she's re-instated - we know she is because we've seen the trailer for Series 2 - but at least she didn't spend a lot of time bursting into tears. Actually, she didn't burst into tears once, which is good going for a woman on television these days. Gripping stuff.

It's the last episode of Silk on Tuesday night: there are three storylines to be resolved - who is going to get silk, will Billy be ousted, and the obssessed former client - and I think I can also see something sad looming on the horizon. I hope there's going to be another series.

I think it's a very likely candidate for showing on BBC America, Mary Lou, as it has lawyers in wigs, and judges in robes, and fleeting glimpses of picturesque bits of London, so keep your fingers crossed. In spite of what one thinks of as the ubiquity of the Internet, there are a lot of American programmes which we still can't see. Even on television,  we can't always get what we want - Boardwalk Empire is only available to Sky subscribers: I'm not one and even if I wanted to be, I can't because I live in a 'listed' building, i.e. one of architectural or historical importance, so I have cable. In Edinburgh, it's quite difficult not to live in a listed building. And cruellest of all, Channel 4 took Southland for the first two series, but didn't take the third. I thought Southland was superb, James Ellroy meets The Sopranos, and I can't forgive Channel 4 for the oversight, presumably casued by Southland switching channels in the States.I wish the providers would get themselves sorted out.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Catching Up

There's some catching up to do. You may remember the Cool Clapo-Ktus, which is heading to Australia soon. We left it just before the half-way stage.

It's Rowan's discontinued Bamboo Soft, 100% bamboo fibre. My idea about only doing rib on one side and purling straight across the back worked out well, and the stitches dropped beautifully.

The whole thing has the most beautiful, whippy drape  and hangs perfectly either as a shawl or can be concertina'd into a scarf. I love it. 

So much so that I cast on another for myself. Mine is in some charcoal RYC Natural Silk Aran that I got when  the yarn was discontinued. I used this yarn for Aria, one of the scarves I made from Knitting New Scarves, and it has great drape and swing so I have high hopes. The Clapo-Ktus pattern is well written and the designer, Loredana Gianferri, has some other very nice things...

I'm not planning to make it the full width of the shawl; I think I'll keep it slender so that it''s a scarf. That way it shouldn't be so heavy. This time I'm knitting the rib on both sides as the silk makes it a bit sticky.

I did 17 repeats of the first pattern on the Anne Swallowtail, and now I've finished the second repeat of lily of the valley. I think I'll do another. I'm having a  short rest so that I can face the idea with enthusiasm rather than regarding it as a chore.

I'm glad I waited so long to find  the right pattern for this yarn.

I'll be very interested to hear what you think of Silk, Anita (Comments, last post). I've caught up a little bit with North Square and am glued, albeit a bit alarmed to discover that it's true to life. It isn't available on dvd, but it's on Channel 4 On Demand, and it can be streamed free from the LoveFilm site. I can't imagine why I didn't watch it first time round, as it has lots of people I like - Rupert PJ again, Kevid McKidd, Phil Davis and so on. Fab.

I was joking when I suggested that Sarah Lund might venture into another large, dark abandoned building, but it was almost the first thing she did in Saturday night's episodes of The Killing, with very sad consequences. I suppose I should have realized that it was about time for someone else to be bumped off, but I hadn't and it was a shock. One of the disadvantages of making the series so long is that you have time to think about things and reflect on the way your expectations are being manipulated, and I am getting very tired indeed of maverick detectives. I watched a doco once about culprits who attract attention to themselves by wanting to do television appeals to 'help' the police, and one detective said - he was neatly dressed, in a suit, white shirt and tie, as mavericks never are - and he said that he had learnt not to jump to conclusions based on how suspects react when they are told of the death of their loved one, but that in one case his mother rang him immediately after the tv appeal and asked why they hadn't arrested the husband yet. I would like to see a series based on that neatly dressed detective and his mum.

The advantage however of making the series so long, is that one is compulsively drawn into it, responding to every hint and glance, and I will be glued on Saturday night. I might get the proper accompaniments - I can't drink spirits or I would buy a bottle of schnapps, but maybe some rye bread and pickled herring...

I can't let this post finish without a mention of Elizabeth Taylor. Who else could still have got her obituary in the headlines on a day when so much is happening in the world?

It's difficult find one clip or one photograph, or even one husband, that represents such a life, but I like this one. With Richard Burton, during their first marriage I think.

Saturday, 19 March 2011


Knitting and Yarn
I've just ripped back the right front of the Debbie Bliss Denim Cardi because I was doing the decreases in the wrong place. Actually, I was doing them in the right place, but apparently I did them wrong on the left front and it's easier to rip back the one I've just started. Since the cardi is knitted in garter stitch, I was expecting the fronts to be identical, but I suppose there's a difference of one row.

I still like it, although when I told a knitter friend the other day that I was nearly finished, she said, 'That's usually when it all starts to go wrong,' and she's right. I'm holding my breath just a little.

The back doesn't look long enough at the armholes and I'll have to review it once I've finished both fronts. The sleeves seem a bit long, especially when you consider that they are still to have a lace border added, but they may shorten when stretched over my arms. The yarn hasn't been hard on my hands at all: I usually find 10o% cotton heavy going but this is plied quite loosely and I can knit with it for hours. Which is a good thing, as I still seem to be snapping it up on eBay and possibly on my way to cornering the market. I wonder if the lace border would look good done in the solid navy, instead of the marl?

Talking about buying yarn on eBay, I've had a search for Wollmeise 100% Merino Superwash in the Barist "O" colourway for some time. I never thought of actually buying it because Wollmeise goes for such astonishing prices, often approaching a hundred pounds for a skein, but it's a very pretty shade and I did like to watch it as shimmered past, beyond my reach. Then one night recently a skein got stuck at about the £22 mark. My eBay bidding instincts kicked in and I snatched it for about £25. Which is only about twice as much as I might have considered spending on a skein of rather special sock yarn.

It is very lovely, and I don't regret it, but I have noticed that this seems to be the going rate for Wollmeise now. What happened? Did she suddenly start dyeing it in truckloads? Is it all fake? Or is it just that nobody has any money?

The blue at the top is really green, but it won't photograph as such. The answer to the obvious question is, I don't know but probably a shawl or some other neck thing.

The Danish crime serial, The Killing, continues. We have two episodes tonight, and then the last two are on next Saturday. Up until now I've been recording it and watching it as a daytime treat on Tuesday or so. I know that next week I won't be able to wait but shall be glued to the television while it is actually broadcasting, something I almost never do, but I'm not sure about tonight.

Will I be able to wait to see Sarah enter yet another dark and abandoned warehouse alone? She's still wearing that jumper, although she occasionally wears another in the reversed colours. At 280 euros, it's far too expensive for someone on a police detective's salary: is she on the take, or did her nice Swedish boyfriend buy it for her? Or is he actually nice? At this stage in the proceedings, I'm suspicious of everyone.

Staying with television, we have a snappy new legal series on BBC2 called Silk, set in a barristers' chambers, to which I seem to have become very attached. I so completely lack the ability to think on my feet that I can only gaze in awe.

Neil Stuke is in it, who doesn't do enough television by my standards (well, he was in the remake of Reggie Perrin, but we're trying to forget that). He used to be in a legal series called Trust which I liked and which only ran for one series; he got to wear better suits in that. Rupert Penry-Jones is in it too; he often plays awfully decent chaps who haven't realized just how incredibly handsome they are, but in this he plays an absolutely copper-bottomed sh*t, who is only too aware of how delicious he is, and how clever. The lead is Maxine Peake, whose character is well up to all of them. It's very tightly written and it's worth watching from the first episode, as a lot happens. Not great art, but very good television. I do hope it gets a second series. I will now have to catch up with North Square, which was another legal series by the same writer, which I missed.

There's much more, but I have to get a couple of things done before The Killing starts. Just in case I decide to watch it tonight.