Friday, 22 April 2011

Even Less to See

There's even less to see now. Knittingwise, I seem to be moving backwards in time. I've ripped the denim cardi.

 And you remember I had to rip back part of the Swallowtail Shawl? You may have wondered if I put in a lifeline when I did that. Did I? Well, no, I didn't, and I've just had to rip it back again.

 I knew I wasn't particularly well last week, but I hadn't realized that I had lost the ability to count to three quite so spectacularly. The second row of the pattern was a bit tricky, amd the third was impossible. I'm still managing to look forward to how this is going to look when it's finished  but it's taking all my resources of stamina and perseverance. Have I ever shown you my school badge?

Also, I was born on a Thursday, so I have far to go. It seems that I still do, at least with this blessed shawl.

So, now, we shall talk of other things, of ospreys and of films that I have watched while I have been pointlessly purling.

The ospreys are back at Loch Garten. EJ, the female, came back first, and then Odin showed up some days later.That link is to the webcam: the link doesn't work for me but I think it's something to do with my settings for Windows Media Player, which I have set up so that I can stream stuff through the dongle on my blu-ray player. . . having got that set up, I am reluctant to tamper with it, as you can imagine. They can also be seen on YouTube. Here she is getting rid of the grass that has grown on the nest during the winter.

Remember, she's bigger than she looks here: she has a six-foot wingspan and the nest is wider than that. Since then she has laid her first egg of the year, and another, and another.

I saw The Illusionist last week, the animated film by Sylvain Chomet, from a screenplay by Jacques Tati which was originally set in Prague but is now set in Edinburgh. It has been described as a love letter to Scotland, and it is. 

Not only has he got the 'fifties setting right, he hasn't prettified it which can be difficult to avoid, especially with Edinburgh. He has captured the city's sootiness, as well as her beauty.

I liked his Belleville Rendez-Vous very much, (which seems to have been re-named The Belleville Triplets...) but haven't felt any impulse to watch it again. I'm sure I will watch this again lots, although that may be because of the familiarity of the setting. Well worth catching, even if you you're not a Scot. Like Belleville, it has little dialogue and what there is is more background noise than text, which adds to the dreamlike quality.

I also watched The Ghost (aka The Ghost Writer, it's all very confusing), in which not a lot happens but it's all beautifully photographed. It starts well but I felt that it fizzled out into a predictable hash of the CIA and other baddies. I never quite felt that Ewan McGregor's character (the writer) would have got such an important contract, and Pierce Brosnan was far too cool to be any British politician that ever lived - they're not a glamourous lot. But the setting, in the wild wastes of coastal Massachusetts is stunning, and there's always lots of nice clothes and furniture - not what one usually looks for in a Polanski movie but it gives you something to look at while everyone's walking about. It's from a novel by Robert Harris and I find that while he has original ideas, he doesn't write very three-dimensional human beings: the films based on them tend to have the same qualities, which is fine but makes it difficult to care about the characters.

What I have been totally glued to however is the American tv series, Justified. The first series was shown here on FX and is available on DVD, and the second series is just starting on Five USA on Wednesday nghts at ten o'clock. It's based on stories by Elmore Leonard, who writes the best dialogue ever. It is set in rural Kentucky - where UK stands for the University of Kentucky - and the storyline follows a Deputy U.S. Marshal from the area who has been sent back home against his will after one too many 'justified' shootings. The acting is exceptional, and the faces - there are so many people in it who don't look like actors, but look like people who haven't had many square meals or much medical attention - and although the young women are pretty and well kempt, the older ones are downright frightening. A check of IMDB demonstrates that they are indeed all actors, just ones who valued acting lessons above trips to the surgeon and the waxer.

Timothy Olyphant and Walt Goggins (no, really) in character,

and looking like themselves. You can tell because they don't look as if they're thinking about whether they might have to kill each other.

It can be quite violent, and there have been a couple of times when I have watched it through my fingers or with the sound turned off, but the writing and the acting make it all worthwhile. Graham Linehan, co-writer of Father Ted, said on Twitter that watching it 'is like eating really good pie', and he's right.

Have a Happy Easter and if you're knitting, I hope you don't have to rip anything back.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Not Much to See Here

There isn't much to show for the last couple of weeks. I sewed the Debbie Bliss Denim Cardi together roughly and tried it on. It fits, but you know what? I'm not in love. I've tried it on again a few times and although it gets bigger all the the time because of the garter stitch, that's not really the problem. I didn't burst into noisy tears at this realization, but just started to think about what else I could do with the yarn. I think I'm going to have to stick to raglan sleeves in future: Ive got narrow shoulders and as the rest of me has got wider, they haven't, so things that fit in one place are falling off in another. I could of course do extensive measuring and altering, but I know I'm not going to so I think t's better to stick to raglans. I think also that the garter stitch might have had a slight Michelin Man effect. There's a raglan cardi in stocking stitch in the same book so I might try that. I feel quite sanguine about knitting that in the same yarn, which is a relief, and I don't feel a great sense of loss over the lace-edged one, so that's OK.

I think I've mentioned here before the usefulness of actually taking a look at the pattern now and again while you're making something, even if you've knitted it four times already. I find myself in the embarrassing position of making this observation again, having spent two days ripping the latest Swallowtail Shawl and getting it back on the needles. I consoled myself with the thought that a couple of years ago I wouldn't have had the skills to do that, but really, it would be better if my need for them weren't owing to my own thoughtlessness. Sigh. Anyway. We're heading off on the first part of the edging now, and it's still looking beautiful. A friend told me recently that she's getting married next year and I am already hatching schemes for knitting her something huge and intricate and white: I might use this as part of the persuasion process.

I also might use this. I got distracted by a lovely shawl that a Ravelry Friend knitted, without a pattern, called Snow on my Flowers.  She was kind enough to direct me to the pattern for the edging so I've taken the risk of casting on.

The original has regularly spaced holes, but after spending some hours wrestling with graph paper, I decided that this would probably end in tears and that random would be safer in my case. It's some very fine spun Yeoman Polo merino lace that lovely Linda gave me, two strands held together. The yarn is Italian spun, one bright white strand from Australia and the other a creamier shade from Tasmania, which seems so much more exotic than Australia. I used this combination for the Baby Swallowtail, so I know it works well.

I finally thought what to do with the silk that was brought back to me from the trip to Everest Base Camp last year, and I made a long, skinny, garter-stitch band with it. It's ever so slightly greener than it looks here.

I asked my friend where she bought the yarn and she said, 'A wee shop in Kathmandu.' She's not a Scot; she's from New Zealand, but she's picked up the language.

I love it. It's about 80 inches long and averages three inches wide. It feels unbelievably soft and supple and I'm a bit worried about it falling apart because it's so loosely spun but it is probably tougher than it looks. Silk usually is.

I've done another ball of the RYC Silk Aran on the elongated Clapoktus, but it looks much the same, only longer, so I won't trouble you with a photograph.

I bought some yarn last week, but I'm too embarrassed to tell you what it is. I'll show you when I cast on.

Inspiring the Young
 The young relation that I sometimes knit pink things for has expressed an interest in learning to knit and I'm planning a pink garter stitch scarf for a doll as the first project, but I'm not sure what might come after that. She's a very keen reader and regards books as IMPORTANT, so I think a book might be a good way of keeping her enthused. Does anyone have recommendations? Lucinda Guy's Kids Learn to Knit looks promising, but I'm concerned that it might appeal more to trendy adults than actual children.

Peg Blanchette's 12 Easy Knitting Projects loks genuinely childish and Bonnie Gosse's First Book of Kntting for Children has good reviews. There are so many that I'm a bt lost. Any advice will be appreciated.

I'm going to put the non-knitting in a separate post, because this is getting ridiculous.