Sunday, 30 December 2012

Catching Up

Well, Kaffe Fassett was a long time ago. Remember that? I was just about to write a post about that evening when I was felled by a very bad bout of the Damned Disease. Somehow, after all this time, I sort of expect that I've learnt to manage it or that it has eased off, but this was one of the worst bouts I've ever had. It came at that critical juncture when I might have bought some Christmas cards or some wrapping paper, so neither task got carried out. I'm hoping to send New Year cards.

Anyway, Kaffe was very good. He started by telling us how to pronounce his name - Kay-fe, with a long A - and I realized that I used to pronounce it that way but at some point got lost and started saying Kaff instead. So I'm now back on track. He gave a nice self-mocking account of his early days as a painter of white still lifes, with occasional touches of beige, and his snottiness about colour. It seems extraordinary to me that someone who grew up in Californian light should have been indifferent to colour, but there you are. His story brought the '70s back to me very vividly, possibly because of his friendship with Bill Gibb, whose creations I used to follow in Vogue and the Sunday colour supplements. It's hard to credit now just what an important blast of visuals and information Sunday newspapers were then.

One of Bill Gibb's gypsy dresses for Baccarat, c. 1970: photograph by Mike Davidson

More Bill Gibb dresses, with his trademark tiny yoke and voluminous swathes of mosaic-ed colour

Kaffe even learnt to knit on a train in Scotland, returning to London after buying armfuls of Shetland yarn while visiting BG's family in Aberdeenshre. Nice to think that the country which is so often characterized as grey and cold should have been the place that turned this Californian on to colour.

His book looks gorgeous too: I had foolishly assumed it would be full of words, but it's bright and gorgeous.

During the bad bout I didn't pick up the needles at all for a week, so the Doctor Who scarves ended up being a bit of a rush after all, with ends being woven in at the last minute. I've seldom been so pleased to receive a text saying 'Held up in traffic.'

As you can see, they didn't get fringes. Sublime Chunky Merino on 8mm needles, 25 stitches. I'm now doing a teddy bear-sized one with 7 stitches. I think these were about 6 or 7 feet long, but I'm banking on them stretching a lot once they get into the hands of the owners. I'm hoping very much to get a pic of them in wear, so I'll keep you updated.

When the people who were stuck in traffic arrived, one of them was wearing these.

Sequinned boots. I am so jealous.

Speaking of boots, we know now that next year's baby will require pink clothes, so I made one of these. Elizabeth Zimmermann's Bootees from The Opinionated Knitter. I've knitted these before.

Little sewing scissors for scale.

The floorboard is six inches wide.

 Very simple pattern, even when watching Christmas films.

I used too small a needle size (2.75mm) so it's a bit cardboardy: I'll try again with a 3mm or a 3.25mm. Madelinetosh  merino light in Sugarplum.

And I'm doing this for myself, in the Alder shade of Rowan's Kidsilk Trio. Heaven. I don't know why it's called Alder (isn't that a tree? A green tree?) because it's denim blue, pure and simple. It's the Five By Five Cowl pattern and I'm half-way through the second skein. It looks shorter here, but should be a little over 40 inches when it's finished. I found that I was getting a big hole in the column where I switched from plain to purl, so big that it looked like a lace effect. I tried doing the plain stitches in twisted rib, but that made the rib very flat and I want it to look billowy and relaxed and puffy so instead I'm just twisting the last of the five plain stitches each time. This seems to be working quite well.

I got a cold over Christmas, a very noisy spluttery one with a barking cough. My neighbours probably think I got a sea lion for Christmas. Although having a cold is like a holiday after that bout of CFS, it has meant that I still haven't recovered my appetite. This is a) very unlike me, and b) a damned nuisance at Christmas. I keep opening cupboards and finding more food that I haven't got round to eating, and drink that I haven't got round to drinking. I made a Nigella chocolate salame on Christmas Eve

and in spite of the best efforts of visitors there is still some of left. Unbelievable. I keep asking people how long refrigerator cake lasts and they laugh and say, 'In my house it usually lasts a couple of hours,' but I had a slice tonight and it was fine. (Yes, I know, one slice. I'm pathetic.)

I expect however that this problem will resolve itself in the usual way and by part-way through January the cupboards will all be picked clean again, and the recycling bag will be full of bottles, and things will be back to normal.

I hope you all had lovely Christmases, surrounded by the people you most wish to be surrounded by, that Santa was good to you, and that you managed to eat more than I did.