Monday, 22 April 2013

Still Dithering

I still haven't decided what to do with the pink shawl, but thank you very much for all your comments. Sea, I know that the mum wants lots of pink things so I'm not worried on that score. It's the shade of pink that concerns me, and I think you're absolutely right about ballet pink, stashdragon.

I should watch some of Call the Midwife, Mary Lou,  just to see the knitting. My Granny had a book of knitting patterns which were her staples, and there were two baby jackets in it which she must have knitted over and over. Matinee jackets they would have been called. Does anyone know why? I can't imagine babies ever went much to matinees. I thought the term would have passed into disuse but I see from Ravelry that it's alive and well. There was another pattern in her book which she knitted over and over, for a short-sleeved lacy top to be worn under a tailor-made tweed suit. A woman's tweed suit was called 'a costume' in my youth. I think the tops might have been knitted from baby yarn as they were in those soft pastels like lemon and pink and wisteria, and a pale green. Pale green and lemon were worn by very small babies because you wouldn't know whether they would need blue or pink until they actually arrived. Changed days.

It does look better in daylight, Fiona, but not better enough, if you follow me. If it were a hotter pink, I'd be a lot happier. But I don't  want to spend money on dye and anyway I think dyeing would knacker the cotton and acrylic blend. But the baby was born on Saturday so there's much more important things to think about than blankets. 3.2 kilos, which I believe is a perfect 7 pounds. Mother and baby are both well.

I have been making progress with the Mediterraneo [BIG] Rubble, so much so that I had to rip it back again because I had overshot the increases for the arms. I've made it a little longer because I was worried about it being too short, and now I think I've made it too long, but I won't really know until the underarm seams are sewn so there's no point in flapping, and anyway it won't be too too long and I think this is a pattern I'll knit more than once. In sewing terms, this is a toile or muslin, a trial garment, except that I should be able to wear this.

The sleeves don't look wide enough here, but that's because it's squeezed onto a needle which isn't as long as the row. The neck comes up a bit higher than I expected and I have a very short neck so I don't think I'll add any ribbing. I think I'll just pick up the stitches, do a couple of rows, and cast off, so that it's a rolled neck edge. But we'll see.

It's the last episode of Broadchurch tonight (Monday) and I shall be all agog. Actually finding out who did it will be a slight disappointment as it always is (or is that just me?) but it's been absorbing and the photography and music have contributed to that a great deal. I have arrived at an age where usually I just complain about music on television, but on this it has been a major part of the whole. I have been distracted by one major hole in the investigations (why haven't they got the boy's phone records from his provider?) but I'm prepared to overlook that for the purposes of suspending disbelief. Last week we saw a major suspect written out but another who had been drawn to our attention was strangely absent. . .

Monday, 8 April 2013


I did do another round of stocking stitch before I started the picot bind-off on the Pinkwheel baby shawl, and then I started to warm to this project again.

The combination of garter stitch rows, YOs and picot bind-off. all worked out as well as I could have hoped and I was quite happy with it.

And then I washed and dried it, and I hated it again. I think it looks like a bit of old tat and I'm going to give it to my friend's cat-charity shop. Perhaps someone will give them a couple of pounds for it.

I've made Pinwheel Blankets in All Seasons Cotton before  and been more than happy with them, and I'll use this border again, so it's sort of hard to say why this combination is so horrible. I think it might be down to the shade of pink, which reminds me of the 1950s, and not in a good way. It's the colour of old plastic and artificial silk and bathroom fittings and toothbrushes and plastic cameos and yes, the gums on false teeth. So I'll buy the baby a present out of a shop and we'll all be happier.

I started  a stay-on sock and then couldn't understand what to do next. I'll have another go some day when my brain's sharper.

I forgot to mention that I finished the Denim Kidsilk Trio cowl and I've been wearing it ever since. I just cast off at the end, put a twist in it, and then seamed up the join.

I know, I'm terrible. So far, no-one has stopped me in the street and accused me of not kitchenering it.

I had thought of going to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival but abandoned the idea because I wasn't sure there was any seating and I didn't want to take the risk. How wise I was, for once. A friend who went reported that it was full of lovely stuff, but mobbed, jam-packed and full of queues. I hope I can go next time. She also said it was full of Stripe Studies and Color Affections. After a moment's disappointment that I wasn't totally original, I decided that it's nice to be part of a wave.

The Shape of Knitting
Lynne Barr's wonderful new book The Shape of Knitting arrived while I was packing to go and stay with the cat again.

The subtitle is A Master Class in Increases, Decreases and Other Forms of Shaping, and it has sections with her brilliant instructions and photographs.

And patterns.

A section on Three-Dimensional Knitting.

A whole section on casting on and casting off.

And more patterns.

I was very tempted to pack some yarn so that I can cast on while I'm away, but I've decided instead to take the turquoise Rubble and read, mark, learn and inwardly digest Shape before I do anything rash.

Flickering Screen
There's a good series on television just now called Broadchurch. It stars David Tennant and Olivia Colman and it's another crime drama. I do wish that we ever had any other sort of drama on television  especially when we have such good actors. Both of them are doing seriously good work on the London stage these days, and do we ever get to see it? No. Broadchurch is a cut above though and I find myself thinking about it between epsiodes (I cannot type 'episode' right first time) and wondering what the people are doing. It's in eight episodes, and we still have three to go. I'm going cat-sitting again and will be relying mostly on Netflix and dvds, but fortunately I'll be able to see Broadchurch.

P.S. A passing friend has just said how nice the horrible pink shawl is. She isn't usually given to unnecessary politeness. I shall see what I think when I come home.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Bogged Down

I haven't been ill this time, just bogged down in a bit of knitting that I'm not finding very inspiring. At one point I was so uncaring that I didn't notice I'd picked up the wrong needle and I produced this abomination, pink Pinwheel and Mediterranean Rubble conjoined.

But I'm about to start the picot bind-off, unless I decide to knit another round first, so the end is in sight,  albeit somewhat distantly. It's 530 stitches, give or take, which isn't too bad.

The cat-sitting went well. Here she is, telepathically informing me that it's 5 o'clock and time for her dinner. In fact, it was only 4.30 so she's going to have to wait a little longer. It was during that very hot week we had at the end of February and her Mummy and Daddy were colder in Spain than they would have been here. Now we're freezing at night again and lots of people have snow. Crazy.

I got some photos of past knitting. Boys in Doctor Who scarves.

One boy in a Doctor Who scarf. I would like to point out that he's got it folded double so it looks much shorter than it actually is.

And a Coffee Cozy. I don't think I blogged about this. It's some of the bright red Sirdar Sublime Chunky Merino that I used for the Doctor Who scarves. It is the most brilliant true red: it's called Tartan but could easily be called Christmas, a colour that endlessly pleases the eyes.

I made the pattern up out of my head. The ribbing has a slit at the side so that it can fit different sizes or be rolled up for a shorter cup. I thought it was for a paper coffee cup; apparently it was for a travel mug  but it still fits, phew.

Someone on Ravelry has knitted another gorgeous stripy  cowl. I feel simultaneously disappointed and relieved that I don't have a lovely bag of leftovers that I could use as an excuse to cast on for this.

Composing Lace
One of my Twitter friends alerted me to a radio programme on the World Service about the Dark Days Music Festival in Iceland, which included an interview with Icelandic composer Hafdis Bjarnadottir who uses lace knitting charts as inspiration for her music - you can hear the holes being made. It's available to listen to here and here, but I don't know which of these, if either, will be available overseas. If you don't want to listen to the whole thing, the knitting bit starts at 11:20.

If you can't listen to it, there's a brief newspaper account here. It's written by someone who thinks knitting is frightfully amusing but we're used to that.

Silver Screen
Going round and round in pink circles left quite a lot of time for staring at the screen. I watched all of the latest House of Cards, and then couldn't resist watching the old one too. I felt the new one was too long; there isn't really any reason for it to last 13 episodes except that that's how long a television series usually is nowadays; for the same sort of reason the last episode was unsatisfactory because everyone who should have been getting their just desserts was being set up for the next series. The writing wasn't always very exciting, and one was told things - she's an outstanding journalist, he's got great promise as a politician - without necessarily seeing any evidence for these statements. The relationship between the politician and the journalist was much more of a transaction than a relationship - interestingly, in the older show the woman initiated things and was much more of a driving force - well, not so much at the end, but still. Apart from that, it was all watchable and Spacey was as good as I'd hoped. I like Corey Stoll, who played David Russo and thought he shone. Robin Wright was convincingly dastardly and always beautifully dressed.

The old one (1990) was skipped through much more quickly, three books boiled down into four episodes, and the ending was as definite an ending as you could get.  And everyone seemed to cope very well without mobile phones.

They're both on Netflix in the UK. I learnt recently that if you're travelling you can log into the local Netflix site using your home username and password. It remembers what you're watching and everything. I thought it was a mistake at first but it's just Netflix being practical. Bravo.

The BBC are showing I, Claudius again, all remastered and tidied up from 1976. They're not repeating it and it isn't available on iPlayer so one has to catch it on a Tuesday night. I was worried that it might seem very silly and out-of-date as innovative things often do 35 years later but I'm enjoying it as much as ever and am surprised by what huge chunks of it I remember vividly. The very modern style and avoidance of fake ancientness still works. Sian Phillips is entirely convincing as the deadly Livia and I'm dreading the appearance of John Hurt as Caligula. The scenery does wobble from time and ageing make-up has improved a lot since then, but it doesn't really matter.

I'd wanted to see Sightseers since it came out and have finally caught up with it. It's a British film, a black comedy. It has been described as Mike Leigh's Nuts in May meets Terence Malick's Badlands, and that's pretty accurate. It's about a couple who go on their first holiday together, and the people they meet. You wouldn't want to be one of those people for, oh, lots of reasons. This is the lovely knitted poster.

I suppose that being told a film is very funny is always a bad idea as it almost inevitably sets you up to be disappointed, and I think it probably works much better in a cinema with a responsive audience than watched in silent solitary contemplation, so I didn't enjoy it as much as I expected. I think I should watch it again with a crowd. It certainly had some very good lines. The actors who play the ghastly couple are also the writers  so I guess they may also be a couple in real life, although of course far from ghastly.

Thank you, Mary G.; it's nice to hear from you again.