Tuesday, February 28, 2006

it's the taking part that counts, right?

One more day, that was all I needed, one measly 24 hours. Well, that, and drying time, and decent light to take a half-way decent photo. But the Olympic Knit, she is done.

So what did I learn? That in a perfect world, I could have knit a Faroese style shawl, with lining, in 16 days (I did the lining in 5 days). But the world isn't perfect, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Am I sorry I missed out on the medals? No. Most defiantly, definitely not. Because it is seldom that I drag myself out of my default state of torpor, and actually bother to apply myself. And I did, for this. I went and learnt about Faroese shawls, just a bit. I went and worked on my charting, just a bit. I even tried some maths, just a bit (and know that I need to go back to school, because the state of my maths is abysmal). I set myself a challenge to try something new, and I did.

I joined in, and I'm not really a joiner. I visited new blogs, met new bloggers, been astounded by the work they do, and by their generosity. (And greatly appreciated the generosity of those who were sane, did not take part in the K.O., and yet still indulged this madness in others.) I've thought about what the meaning of community is (hey, I've got a background in social anthropology), and applauded the efforts of thousands around the world.

I took some time out, to concentrate on one thing only, tried it on for size, and confirmed that I don't really work that way, though I can, if I have to.

I learnt that I'm not afraid of knitting, I'm not afraid of getting it wrong, of making a mess, because things are fixable, work-roundable, forgivable.

And although you can't see it (I'll try and get some better photos up over the next couple of days), the slogan around the bottom of the shawl is * K O * YARNHARLOT GAVE ME * T S F [for Tricoteuses sans frontières] * KNITBLOGGERS MADE ME *. The lace on the panel is, from the bottom up, fir cone, christmas tree, and snowflake.

Right, I'm off now, to make some socks. And if anyone knows anyone who is really, really cold, I happen to have a seriously warm, two-layered alpaca shawl lying around, that needs a good home.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

saturday morning

I'm taking bets - do you think I can make it?

By Saturday night, under 2 balls to go. Sadly, I think I am just about peverse enough to finish the knit. (And when all this is over, someone make me go out and get a life.)

The big question is, how fast does alpaca dry.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


susoolu: I'm ill.
Doctor: You sure?
susoolu: Yes.
Doctor: If you say so.

susoolu: For 8 days.
Doctor: Flu?
susoolu: Yes.
Doctor: Cough?
susoolu: Yes.
Doctor: Blood?
susoolu: Yes.
Doctor: Bronchitis.
susoolu: Thought so.
Mad man: Could be TB.
susoolu: (throwing of scabby tissues at doctor) Don't be so stupid.
Doctor: Just saying, makes it more exciting. But okay, probably not.
susoolu: How did the English exam go? [Doctor had to pass exam to get sabbatical and work in Australia for 6 months. Bastard.]
Disgruntled Student: I passed, but my waffle wasn't 100%.
susoolu: Are you sure? Maybe you should get the marks checked.
Doctor: Yeah, you know, brought down by mandatory medical illegible handwriting.
susoolu: It happens. Where are you going in Australia?
Travel agent: Here, let me show you on GoggleEarth. [10 minute discussion on merits of Australia, swimming with sharks, medical systems globally]
susoolu: I should probably go now. Can I have my prescription?

I've given in, and am now officially ill. I think it was the refusing of caffeine which might have been the tip off. But the good news is, I get magic little blue pills, which will make everything feel better. (There are times when my love for penicillin, in all its forms, rivals my love for shetland spun yarn.)

That said, the Shawl (part 1) will be off the needles tonight. (Yippee! Said very quietly, as anything above sotto voce brings on a phlegm attack.) So I will sort out the provisional cast-on, and head for blocking. There is an outside chance that there might be photos tomorrow.

Thanks for all the suggestions re alternatives to knitting a lining. Still, 4 days left, so surely a lining is possibly (I now have magic blue pills to help). Okay, so that may be my oxygen-starved brain talking, but I will not surrender, nor lay down my needles, nor put away my yarn, until the flame has died! Knit on, knit on, and knit again.

Friday, February 17, 2006

still no pictures (and I'm still not ill)

(I apologise for any incoherence, crabbiness, rambling, etc., etc., but I'm not ill.)

What, you want a picture of a large and unwieldly pile of brown shawl? Ain't going to happen, not today. Cos I'm not ill, and I haven't had a fever, and I'm not behind, and I'm not surrounded by used tissues, and I'm not cranky. But I am lying. (I'm ill enough to have spent most of this week asleep, taking painkillers, and drinking lots of liquids, but not ill enough to go to the doctor, who would just say go to sleep, take painkillers, and drink lots of liquids. Hrmph. But I'm getting better, because I'm now getting pouty cross with it all.)

Okay, so I will finish the shawl - I'm on row 72 (of 200 or so), and the dream about casting on 441 stitches, and then losing some every other row, is it all goes faster and faster. So I will finish the shawl. But, and this is where it gets tricky - I did sign up and say I would also knit a lining. Miles and miles of garter stitch. And then there is the blocking, and the joining together. It's the lining that scares me! And does anyone know when on 26th the flame is due to go out? (That, and I'm having to sacrifice blog-reading time, to olympic knitting and being not ill, which is poohy.)

But I have learned one thing. Do not attempt a spit splice if you have a) just eaten crisps/dry biscuits, or b) just swigged the really sticky cough medicine.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

if I ever

mention anything again that involves me doing my own charts, can someone please, please, take me gently by the hand, lead me outside, and then hit me repeatedly around the head with a mouldy kipper.

After having successfully identified that I was trying to fit a 28 stitch pattern into 25 stitches, I merrily went on my knitting way. And another row was done. (Look, that makes 20 rows.)

Then, I realised that having corrected the quart into pint pot basic error, I now had a whole stuffing a quart into a teaspoon error. Because in shuffling the 28 stitches, I had somehow forgotten it would then impact on the next 200 stitches, and throw the second half of each and every knit row out. Yes, I get points for thinking ahead.

Yippee, more counting, figuring, refiguring. Problem fixed. 21 rows completed (379 to go). 4 rows later, I see that there was indeed a much easier fix, which didn't involve throwing what little symmetry I had out the window. A fix that I had already suggested to myself in my notes, but been too lazy to mark up. The notes that have been scanned, photocopied, with back-ups left in fire-and-water-and-act-of-God proof safes, and carried near 800 miles since the Knitting Olympics began. The notes that I had not consulted. The notes that are now muddy and wet, after the cat came in from the cold and sat on them, twice (I think she might be a double-agent - come on, which team has been bribing her with tuna fish?).

Make that two mouldy kippers.

Monday, February 13, 2006

so I might have got distracted

So I might have got just a little bit distracted from the Olympic Knit - but I had to
do something, to stop myself casting on before the actual pyromaniac moment. So, in the front, the start of a sock which actually seems to marry yarn and pattern well, unlike the poor Oriel sock - Nancy Bush's Conwy, from her 'Knitting on the Road' in the Motherlode colourway from Lorna's Laces. (See, I do learn. Although it seems to be the kind of learning which comes from my own numbwitted experience, and not from listening to the better advice of others. Were you the kind of child who would still put their hand in a fire, even though they had been told, repeatedly, that a fire is very hot, and it would burn, and it would hurt, and you still did it anyway, just to check? Are you kind of person that is irresistibly drawn to push the large red button that says 'do not press, under any circumstances'? Because I was that child, and I am that person. Mmmm, large red buttons...)

Anyway, hiding in the back of the photo, being a little ruff to keep the ball of alpaca warm, is the very small beginnings of the 'It is meant to be a Faroese Shawl, but it seems to be trying to develop a confused identity all of its own Shawl' official olympic object.

But I'm home now, after an exciting weekend playing with my godson down in London (and he has not given me a bug, I am not coughing, I am not losing my voice, I do not have a fever, and I do not want to crawl back into bed surrounded by cats), and I'm optimistic. Particularly now that I have stopped trying to fit a 28 stitch pattern into what was, is, and always will be 25 stitches wide.

Is there an olympic medal for having successfully navigated the knitter's own stupidity?

Oh, and new excitement over in the side-bar. Pixeldiva cracked (knew someone would), and volunteered herself to set up a Team GB blog, at the very last moment. Go look, there is some good knitting there, and surely medals are in the offing.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Sunday, February 05, 2006

into the pit we go

I hate what flash does to photographs - but I'm on a deadline, here, and haven't got time to even try and take a photo properly.

And what is the photo of? Why, it is of my olympic knit kit entry - aka 'it started out as a Faroese Shawl, and it is now taking over my life'. I think, with hindsight (and because people are beginning to glaze over when I start talking), I may just be taking this all a bit too seriously. That said, I have managed to lure some others into the game, even though they play on the dark side (with crochet hooks, that is).

I have yarn - although I am seriously worried that I have enough, and am laying the groundwork for getting my hands on emergency supplies. I have books - many, many books. Too many books. And I am consulting them all. I have needles - at least 8 4mm circulars, because I keep forgetting that I have some, and go and buy some more. I have charts - well sort of. What I do have is a growing pile of paper with scribbles (don't worry, I recycle). I do, at least, have the start of a chart (the border pattern is 390 stitches. The border pattern repeat is 390 stitches. Impressive, I think). And I know what designs will be on the gusset (I love that word, gusset, it fits so well with lace, but I have difficulty calling it a trapezoid, as I was never very good at maths). I have websites - I have a large and every growing bookmark folder, containing the addresses of people far better at knitting than I, and I am mercilessly raiding their pages, looking for advice. I have, as it turns out, a very indulgent housemate - who this very evening announced I had special dispensation during the knitting olympics to be next to useless about anything house-bound (I think he may have realised that 8 circular needles could be dangerous in the hands of a knitter over the edge). I have swatches - in the wrong yarn, to play with the patterns, and in the right yarn, to work out gauge. Did I say I have swatches? They keep following me around the house, they attach themselves to my clothes, my shoes, my bags (I think they may be trying to communicate, that or trying to smother me), and there are little yarn tail trails waiting in doorways, at the top of stairs, in the kitchen, in the bed, just waiting. I have a calculator - that is wimpering for help, begging me to stop pounding its buttons, and to stop screaming when it doesn't give the answers I want (told you I was not good at maths).

I have 5 days - I have not enough time.

But, I am part of Team GB (go team GB!), and I say - to the sounds of over-blown patriotic music - never surrender.

Oh, and Mary-Lou, you are no doubt right that the kitten was after the butter and eggs. But seriously, there was the peel and juice of 5 large lemons in there, and the curd could fell a charging yak.

Edited to add:

Jenla have allowed (encouraged?) me to make a fool of myself all over their blog. I'd like to thank them, again, for their sterling work in covering the Knitting Olympics (and assure everyone that my views do not necessarily reflect those of Team
GB - Go Team GB!).

Thursday, February 02, 2006

of poetry (and because I forgot before)

A Bloggers (Silent) Poetry Reading

Fence Shadows

Nothing much is going to change
the clumps of yarrow, but in five minutes
the fence shadows will reach them
I can't judge the difference until it happens
and staring will only put me to sleep

Two girls are coming up Betty's Creek
trying to catch butterflies
but not trying hard enough, laughing
Someone in cities is wishing he were here
And I'm wishing ... Oh, well, nothing much

- Michael Mott, from 'Woman and the Sea', Anhinga Press, 1998, Tallahassee, Florida.

Grace's Poppies had the idea, which I found on Creating Text(iles).

of winter colours

Oh, I had so many plans. I had timetables and lists, this will happen, then that will happen, then the other and another and the next. But the dominoes fell the wrong way, and the other and another and the next are still undone.

Ah, I seem to be feeling not blue, but muted. So, a quick report, possible rambling, and a question at the end.

Olympic Training

Is pending the arrival of inspiration (and books). The pre-game cardigan, mentioned earlier, and shown above, is started, and meant to be finished for the opening ceremony. I have one week. It is garter stitch. It will need sewing. I still need to make olympic charts. Bets, anyone?

But the Habu yarn, of 'paper' (a specially treated linen) and silk mohair, in perfect winter colours, is fascinating, if slow to work, and very, very strong - the kitten* took the knitting for a run, the length and back of a living room via two chairs and a trunk, without it breaking. And Japanese charts are breathtaking in their simplicity and economy, and actually rather fun to work with. Once used error has been corrected.

Pixeldiva (go visit, she does take beautiful photographs) mentioned the wonderful tata-tatao site, built by a Japanese couple devoted to knitting, who will take you gently by the hand, and guide you through. It is a great resource if you ever do need help with Japanese patterns (but you still need to get over the hump caused by user idiocy and error).

And finally, cats are meant to dislike citrus, no? So why was the kitten* caught dipping her paw into the home-made lemon curd, again?

* the kitten is currently on time-out for bad behaviour. Therefore she is being referred to either as 'the kitten', or by her full name of Frangipani Weasel.