Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Catch Up

You're right, Joan, I'm having a lengthier-than-usual run-in with the damned disease. I don't feel nagged at all; and thanks for the message.

Every time I think of doing a catch-up it seems a more impossible task than the week before, so I've decided that instead of attempting a lengthy and lovingly hand-crafted post (this is a day for hyphens, isn't it?), I'm going to upload the knitting pics from my camera, add some comments in the order in which they appear, and if I haven't collapsed by then, add some pithy film reviews. As my boss used to say to stop me launching into one of my epics of thoroughness, 'One side of A4, Helen, and double-spaced.'

First of all, for Jean, it's good to know that Ryan knows the proper name for a cowl. I would expect nothing less.

Do you remember this? I finished it a little late for my aunt's birthday.

I washed it and dried it carefully without actually blocking it, ignoring my inner voices the while, and then, finally, while I was wrapping it in pretty paper, I decided that I just wasn't happy with it.

The yarn was quite curly by now so I washed it again. 

And knitted it again, this time on 4mm needles. Can you see the difference?

 My mistake was that the purple yarn, Wollmeise 100% Merino Superwash, knits up well in garter stitch on 5mm needels, but the pink, which is Wollmeise 80/20, just didn't. It was far too open and the yarn didn't bloom at all. No reason why it should. Something that surprised me was that although it was on smaller needles, I ran out of yarn the second time. I still did just eleven stripes. At six feet tall and slender, I think my aunt is more likely to wear it like a scarf and not to risk looking like a flagpole by having it flap around her.

I posted it successfully, meeting the second deadline I had set myself, and rang my aunt and told her that if she hated it, she could tell me it had got lost in the post. I still feel quite undecided about it, although by the time I'd completed it again, I was totally reconciled to the colours and like them a lot. She acknowledged its delivery and professed herself very pleased with it, although perhaps a little perplexed by why I has spent quite so long labouring over it in the end. The second deadline was that she was about to set off on an amazing trip to Japan for hanami, to see the cherry blossom, and she's taking the shawl with her so I think it was all worth it in the end.

Thanks for the comment about Veera's Color Affection, grannypurple. One of my Ravelry friends has knitted it a couple of times and posted links to other people's, so I've considered it and I like the arrangement of the colours which is a step further on from the simple stripes, but I don't find the curves quite as urgently appealing as the straight geometry. I'm very taken with her Pop Block, but don't have any suitable DK yarn that might have tempted me to cast on. I got tempted by one of her cardis though, Slow Line. I love the shape at the back. I used to think that garter stitch was something I did until I learnt to purl, but I'm completely hooked on it now.

A lot of people have knitted it in madelinetosh Merino Light so I thought I could use the Well Water and the Denim that I have left over. I started with the Well Water and after a while reached into the bag of Denim to pull out a skein, so that I could do a stripe and see how much they contrast with each other. Eeek. As soon as my fingers touched the skein, I knew it was a different yarn. It is of a heavenly, kitten-like softness, while the Well Water is not only the crinkly, hard-to-wind base, but altogether coarser, without actually being coarse. Of course.

So I don't quite know what I'm going to do about that. I'm also a bit apprehensive about this top-down business: what if the sleeves are too tight for my um, mature, arms? But the pattern is very clear and I'm swinging along quite nicely.

I can think about while I'm doing this. I think this is my seventh Pinwheel, my second in white Jet. It's for a friend's great-nephew. He's already arrived but he lives in Australia so he doesn't need a warm woolly shawl yet. I haven't decided which edging to do on this one, and I might need to buy some more yarn in blue to get it to the size I want. But it's very agreeable, tracking round and round. It's much bigger than this now; I've started the third ball.


I watched The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec on blu-ray, and enjoyed it a lot. Adele is a sort of 19th-century female Indiana Jones - she's a journalist, not an archaeologist, but you can hardly tell. It's based on a French cartoon and although it's live-action, you can tell that great care has been taken to make the actors resemble the drawings. The effects are brilliant and blend in perfectly with the human actors, and there are some nice jokes. Some Egyptian mummies are brought back to life at the end and are revealed to have a lovely, dry, languid sense of humour, as I expect they might. I could stand to watch it again.

Sometimes when I receive a dvd from LoveFilm, I have no memory of having ordered it and worse, no idea of why I might have. It usually turns out to be because I have decided to watch every film ever made by a particular actor or director, but sometimes it remains a mystery. This was the case with The Eclipse, which arrived last week. I don't usually watch any sort of ghost or horror stuff, because I'm easily terrified, but the blurb implied that it was more than that and Ciaran Hinds usually makes intelligent films, so I watched it. I actually felt my hair stand on end at one point - I'm not telling you when - and I slept with the light on for a few nights afterwards. What an idiot. If you're not easily terrified, it's a nicely shot 88 minutes set at an Irish literary festival.

Speaking of Ciaran Hinds, I saw Tinker Tailor, which I thought was one of the most uneven films I've ever seen. Why cast Hinds and then not give him any lines worth saying? Colin Firth, much the same. Mark Strong was handicapped by an awful wig - all of them had had their hair severely tampered with, and it was hard to see why. Gary Oldman's hair wasn't his own, but looked very like his own. And it's OK for Rikki Tarr to be attractive, so why spoil the luminous Tom Hardy with a hideous wig?  And so on. And would Peter Gwillim have owned a foreign car? At other moments it took off, not least when Simon McBurney completely stole a scene with a slice of toast, and Oldman and Hurt were terrific, but it left me baffled. 

And I saw The Guard which is also set in Ireland, and although it contains much violence and shocking behaviour, frightened me a lot less than the story with the ghosts. It's funny too and has a terrific Irish and international cast, including Brendan Gleeson

and has Mark Strong without any unnecessary hair, complaining bitterly about the lack of intelligence and style among the drug dealers with whom he has chosen to work. Film trivia: In Bruges, which also starts Brendan Gleeson, was written by the brother of the man who wrote The Guard.

As you can tell, there has been a lot of sitting on the sofa, knitting in circles and staring at the screen. I haven't even been keeping up with blog-reading because that requires a level of concentration that's been beyond me, but I'm hoping to make some sort of return to the real world, or at least the knitting part of it, fairly soon. I'm missing you all.