Saturday, December 24, 2005

adoration of the moggy

In reality, adoration of the prime radiator spot in the house, but bad puns help me feel the xmas spirit.

To those who celebrate this time of year, in whatever shape or form, have a splendiferous time, all spangly and sparkly and special.

Love, susoolu.

Friday, December 16, 2005

goo-goo ga-ga

bad photo of cute baby things,
aka EZ's BSJ and Anouk, pre-blocked
(well, they were cute in the pattern)

But I haven't got much time at the moment to try and take better pictures, for not only is it that time of the year, but a friend, in her infinite wisdom, brought her wedding forward to the week before that time of year (also, I think she didn't want her unexpected but much longed-for babies to be born b******s). (And I say, nothing wrong with being born a b******, as technically, I was. And I'm being mean and grumpy about it, and nobody is allowed to get married/have parties/have fun of any kind ever again, or at least for the next five years, if it involves me having to go shopping for something to wear.) So what with the shopping, and the shopping for something to wear, and the shopping, and the finishing of gifts, and the head-in-sand attitude towards all things seasonal, and the stress and the... Again, you know how all this goes.

But seriously dudes, baby clothes. So unbelievably cute, makes me almost want one of my own. (By the way, asking people 'how large is a baby's neck?' results in some quite strange and possibly slightly disturbing gestures.) And quick to knit. Ultimate gratification, brownie points for using stash, and all official gift knitting finished.

Things I have learned - Anouk

Anouk is clever, french-baby chic, just right for a Continental European baby. But I'll say it again, and maybe I will remember this time, that cotton is a pain for showing errors, no matter how cheery the colours. However, I have decided that those odd little tension kicks - when a stitch just doesn't sit quite right, when it is a little loose, or a little tight - are not my fault. They are the fault of all the people/cats/telephones/cats/doorbells who interrupt me mid-row.

If I made it again, I might adjust the shaping at the bottom, as the moss/seed stitch border does tend to pull in a little.

For a really quick knit, you could leave off the pockets altogether, or knit them plain. To avoid sewing pockets on, you could always experiment with making a double knit pouch (which one day I might just do).

I cannot sew. I cannot even do a simple duplicate stitch, with instructions in front of me, and make it look even half-way acceptable. Anything that expects me to sew is doomed from the start.

Things I have learned - Elizabeth Zimmermann's Baby Surprise Jacket

Thank you, thank you, thank you - to all the bloggers I have discovered in recent months who kept mentioning EZ, which finally prompted me to go and have a look and see what all the fuss was about. She is so much fun, and I firmly believe in a woman who roamed far and wide in her attempt to eradicate seams. And the BSJ is such a hoot to make.

What else? Well, you can make 'interesting' seams if you attack them with a crochet hook, and make it up as you go along. Anyway, it's for a baby, so no-one will be looking at the seams.

Jamieson & Smith (ah, how do I love thee, let me count the ways, my passion for J&S is running out of control at the moment) smells ever so faintly of the farmyard when wet, of small baby lambs and mucking out stables and unpasturised milk, healthy and fertile and fun (a nice organic farmyard, not one of your battery places, no thank you). Which is a good thing if you dreamed of having your own pony when you were a little girl, and would spend hours starting at ungodly hours in the morning working as slave labour just so you could be near a horse. But standing at the kitchen sink inhaling wet wool and dreaming of My Friend Flicka does not get the cat hair out or the blocking done. And the mother of the baby did have a pony when young (hiss, hiss, spit, spit, gently turning green), so faint farmyards won't faze her at all.

Now I'm off to stand over wet wool, and day-dream. And pretend I don't have to sew on 8 buttons.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


bucket hat

There is something about short and cold days that makes me come over all traditional. Hot one pot stews, hot chocolates, hot water bottles, hot toddies, and having hot hands and heads. So I suppose it is lucky that I bought out the Jamieson & Smith stand at the Harrogate show the other week, as shetland spun, for me, falls oh so neatly into the traditional category.

Above is my second attempt at a new winter hat. Inspired by Elizabeth Zimmermann's pillbox, and using a Barbara G. Walker mosaic pattern, I have managed to make a hat which is almost perfect, if just ever so slightly too big. (Seeing as the first hat was too small, I'm feeling just a little bit Goldilockish.)

Jamieson & Smith 2 ply soft spun.
Size 4mm needles (but they could have been 4.5mm, my note taking is non-existent).
Provisional crochet chain cast on (my new favourite) - finished off with a couple of crochet rounds to stop the bottom from curling.
Odd mods 1 - slipping stitches knitwise, which gives (I think) a little bit of interesting texture to the pattern.
Odd mods 2 - using a left-slanting decrease on the hat top, 'cos I think it looks pretty.

Things I have learnt.

Mosaic patterns seem to work really well in the round - and the colour jog isn't that noticeable.

Remembering that unless 'they' say otherwise, stitches are meant to be slipped purlwise. I like the slight textured effect slipping knitwise has given, but if I were to do it again, I would twist a couple of stitches in the non-patterned rows, in order to stop them pooching out.

Left-leaning decreases can look quite pretty, but when knitting in the round, they do pucker the fabric.

My head is too short for a 6 1/2 inch tall hat.

Paint pots do make very good head substitutes for blocking, but if you leave the handle on, the hat develops an interesting lump.

But the two best things? My head is warm, and a very cool friend (you know, the kind who does indie bands and vintage port, and doesn't laugh at you for not knowing music, and still invites you over to drink the port) said it was a cool hat. My head might have swelled just a touch, and now I have a perfectly fitting hat.

Thanks for all your kind comments on the stash haul - I am feeling considerably less guilty about it. Trouble is, now the yarn has been exposed, the list of projects is increasing exponentially. And then today the Habu kits arrived. Maybe I could teach the cats to knit?

Friday, December 02, 2005

err ... umm ...

*photo by Puplet - whose camera has a seriously good flash

So, I went to Harrogate last week, with a recently brought over to the yarn-side friend (even though she prefers wire), to see what I could see at the Knitting and Stitching Show, and it seems that some yarn came home with me. I'm only mentioning this, because a certain other friend (yes, that would be you, Blueadt), who has been showing off her refined and restrained purchases, has been badgering me to name and shame my own haul. I think, on reflection, I may have been solely responsible for clearing out the Jamieson and Smith stand on the first day, and I'm pretty certain I got the one and only copy of Elizabeth Zimmermann's 'The Opinionated Knitter' to be had anywhere in the show.

Lorna's Laces lulled me into a state of reverie, and some how I bought so much, in Lion & Lamb and Shepherd Sock, that the stall holder gave me a whole, wait for it, *free pen* (whoo-hoo). And then, of course, having started on the whole it might be lace, it might be sock thang, there was the Cherry Tree Hill supersock vs Fyberspates laceweight mohair debate. Which, of course, my credit card lost.

For the almost finale (and, as it turns out, self and EZOK protection - disappointed knitters can be awful persistent with the whole 'are you sure you want that book?' stalking) some extra extra large needles and hook, from the lovely people at Wool'n'Boats. (I have been secretly lusting after these ever since Woolywormhead mentioned them.)

The actual finale is somewhere mid-Atlantic, but might just involve the word Habu.

Now, I could try and tell you about the show, but I don't know what else I could say apart from it was crowded, with many stalls, many beautiful textile displays, anemic coffee, bloggers to recognize (hello, Yvonne), and I didn't bring my camera. But it was my first really big show, and I'm still a little shell-shocked.

I'm also a little appalled at my avarice.

I was going to go off on one about how embarrassing I've found this display of conspicuous consumption, how I've been not quite hiding the haul, but still not bringing it all out to play, how I feel guilty that I was so self-indulgent, because even though most of the yarn is marked for presents, in reality it is all for me, to feed the pleasure I have found in rediscovering knitting.

But bringing it out tonight, I looked, and saw that it was good, that the second hat is nearly done, the shawl is started, the first hat has already found a new home, and I've reduced the storage crisis pressure (and reminded myself that a slight yarn fetish is a somewhat innocent pleasure - I could be out there clubbing seals, or playing traditional polkas to thrash metal fans), and I promise that I won't buy any more yarn until at least 2006.