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.