Monday, September 18, 2006

in motion

Strangely, for me, this past week has been one of great motion. Of exciting tales and derring-do - well, actually more just of leaving the house and being sociable - of sights and sounds and travelling knitting. So a very quick catch up, not for you, but for me, and my dodgy memory, now that I am 38 (which is a very good time to read A.A. Milne again, I think).

There has been knitting in public, working in the sun, working on a jumper promised to a 3 year-old boy (which he might just get by the age of 4, mea culpa). So a trip to the local park on Sunday last, to eat and drink, and knit sitting on the grass, while watching local bands play in our local Mela. And then, what with the houseguests of the two-legged kind, who are good, and bring bottles of single malt, and clean up after themselves, and the houseguests of the four-legged kind, who I really could do without, thank you so much cats, and if you think you are getting fed after setting a live mouse loose in my bed while I'm trying to get to sleep you can think again, you would think there had been enough to do.

But no - for other knitting went travelling, when a friend who works at the local history section of the library borrowed the gansey in (eternal) progress for a talk she was giving on the history and symbolism of ganseys. So not only did my knitting get petted and patted (and returned with mighty swollen head), but I can get to find out what all those combinations of knit and purl stitches mean.

And then, and then, just to add that always needed touch of WTFness, I went to hear a Theremin played. By Pamelia Kurstin, who is an absolutely delightful member of the screw, nut and bolt loose club. And I swear she escaped from the Sesame Street cupboard. And I never in my life thought I could say I went to a Theremin concert in Hull.

Andthenandthenandthen, my brand-new-birthday-present-to-myself sewing machine arrived. A thing, which I had been given last year, or 10 years ago, or even 30 years ago, I would have jumped up and down on in horror and disgust and childish tantrum how could you how could you I hate it I hate it mode. A thing which I actually decided I wanted (I think), a thing which is sitting there, still, virgin of thread, because I am ever so slightly scared of it. But soon, when I am feeling brave, there may be tales to be told of running stitch and 4 kinds of buttonholes and zig-zagging and scallopping and, and, and.

Andthenandthenandthenand finally. I fixed the toilet. I fixed the toilet by removing the tiny, tiny piece of brick from the washer that sits in the inlet valve (don't ask me how it got there, I really don't want to know why bits of brick are floating through my pipes). Not by replacing the whole unit, or indulging in any kind of major re-plumbing, or cutting and soldering of copper pipes, or having to call in an emergency plumber. Or following any of the really really not useful advice from the man at the DIY store. Admittedly, I have left the toilet with a slightly different quirk in the flush, but at least it no longer dribbles all
night long.

Because I am feeling all-conquering and perky, and these hands can do anything, apart from maybe finish something. (Oh, and thank you, the socks that rock have become gravel, and are now sitting meekly, until I can work out how to re-work them.)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


... myself, of being an idiot. Because I know, now, just about what number of stitches I need on a sock for me. And I know how many to decrease down to on a short row heel. But more than that, I also know how easily seduced I am by pretty colours, and when something yarny gets compliments from knitters and non-knitters alike, and when that something yarny gets told how very, very lovely it looks and feels, I should know now that it is time to listen to the inner claxon.

Socks that Rock is gorgeous stuff - I may have mentioned this before, just once or twice - and I am eternally grateful to Snow for giving me the heads up about joining the Socks that Rock club. And the most recent skein I received, in Peaseblossom, is a stunner. And their suggested sock pattern looks as if should work. Well, look at the photo - don't you think those soft pastels really marry well with Barbara G. Walker's 'subtle mesh'?

(the colours are just about true on my monitor, maybe a fraction warmer in real life)

And I love that Socks that Rock have really been pushing different patterns, and pushing you to experiment with techniques (the Socks that Rock club blog tells all).

But I knew, as I cast on, and I knew, as I read the pattern, and I knew, as I came to the heel, and I knew, as I went along the sole, that they just weren't going to work for me. 'Cos the pattern is lovely, but gives no opportunity for ankle definition (not that I am that vain, but if your legs are short, and somewhat stout, but you know that you did once have an ankle, you do quite want to give the ankle an opportunity to still be seen). And I love a short-row heel, but I know I need to decrease down to 8 (or maybe 10) stitches, and stopping at 12 leaves funny little heel ears. And thought I may have big broad peasant feet, they are still comparatively small, and 70 stitches round is just too many, too many, too many. So the sole is all baggy and wrinkly. Look, photographic evidence!

So, guys, what should I do? Persevere, and give them away to someone else? (And if any of you say yes, I may just have to come round and do something nasty to your stash.) Rip back, redo the heel, and reduce the stitch count on the sole? (But that means I am still left with the no-ankle problem.) Rip completely, start again, having rejigged the pattern? (Am I up to the jiggling?) Or rip completely, make some little wrist warmers using the 'subtle mesh' pattern, because it is so very, very beautiful, to be worn when it starts getting chilly (unlike those of certain teenagers) and then make a pair of simple little toe-up footies with the remaining yarn?

Decisions, decisions, most of which involve the delaying of actually finishing the dratted things.

Oh, and thank you for all the offers of help with sewing. I will, no doubt, be demanding further advice from you all. Because I think I am this close to buying my very own sewing machine. Something which would have my old sewing teacher from back in primary school rolling in her grave...

Friday, September 01, 2006

coffee knitters unite

Because I have a cunning plan. So cunning, that it could very easily go stunningly wrong. Because it is a plan that involves ... sewing.

Now, for some background. A while ago, I got the very lovely Ruth Woolly Wormhead to make me some hats, for a friend and her brand new daughter. And one of the joys of working with Ruth, is that she spun me up a couple of yarns to choose from. So I chose one, and the other skein went back into Ruth's stash. Only to recently reappear, looking for a new home. And so, the sumptuous Silky Flame became mine (though I have had to grovel to Piglottie for having stolen her yarn, but hey, all is fair in love and yarn purchases.)

And I looked at the skein - it looked back. I took out some needles, and started to knit, and the yarn started growling, every so slightly, not being entirely convinced that I knew what I was doing. So aripping we did go. And out came the crochet hooks (bag, I thought, it wants to be a bag). And the yarn sighed, a deep, tortured, resigned sigh, carrying with it an unfailing sense of 'you've missed the point there, kiddo'. Yes, it did like the idea of being a bag, but the design was wrong. The crochet was wrong, the shape, the altogether drape was wrong.

So I thought some more. I though about my friend - and my poor descriptions of her to Ruth - who had inspired the yarn. I thought about all the times my friend and I sat and drank coffee together (and may have put the world to rights at the time), and how my friend had spent years living in India. And I had a cup of coffee. And then, I thought, coffee bags. Wouldn't a bag made out of a coffee sack, one that had travelled the world, survived tempestuous seas, heat and rain and cold, being stuffed into a shipping container, survived being dragged out and carried and emptied, to be thrown aside, bereft once its purpose had been fulfilled, well wouldn't a bag made out of a used coffee sack be a good thing. So I called my coffee supplier (doesn't everyone have a coffee supplier), and the star that he is, he found me three beautiful bags, which smell of far-off places, and seas, and coffee.

And the yarn, it unwrapped itself, and drapped, and declared that this could, indeed, be good.

But you see, here is where it can all so easily go wrong. Because to make the coffee bag, I am going to have to:

cut the bag, preferably using straight lines,

sew the bag, preferably using straight lines.

And this means sewing. (Well, it also means cutting, and I've never been very good at that either, but the sewing is worse.) Which means finding a sewing machine. And remembering how to use a sewing machine. And how not to injure oneself using a sewing machine. And how not to destroy things using a sewing machine. And how not to destroy a sewing machine.

But, don't you think it could work, a bag, which came all the way from India, sitting side by side with yarn inspired by India, spun with delicate strands of recycled sari silk. A simple, homestyle (yes, and lined too, we want this thing to last), delicious smelling bag, banded round the top with knitted loop stitch silky flame. Wish me luck, folks - but don't hold your breathe, cos it could take me some time.

Oh, if anyone wants, I can try and write up the pattern for the ribbon twist socks. Which you can have, if you promise to throw a bit of money a charity box. And if you promsie not to shout at me, because I can't write a pattern. Just email me (address in, guess where, the sidebar).