Friday, March 31, 2006

use your imagination

A no-photo post today, because I have managed to lose my camera. So, I will just have to tell you about all the wonderful things I have knitted (and you can decide if I am telling the truth or not).

First up, the aran, which was going to knitted with all-over twisted stitches (eastern/western crossed technique), for extra warmth and bubbly texture. Until proper knitters started laughing at me. And the swatch proved that I have nothing in my stash for an aran (oh, sure, there is some lovely stuff there, but you know when you want something just right, and it isn't, and what there is is obviously planned for other things), but it made a very nice striped swatch-blanket for a friend's new and fancy pair of multicoloured slippers. And then the weather kyboshed the plan, because today the sun came out, again, and it might indeed be starting to be warm(ish), and who makes an aran for the summer.

Then, the socks. Three pairs, in matching disarray of not done-ness. The first, for friend one, is close. But it is far more fun to make her whip out her feet at inopportune moments, in public, and try them on for size checking, so they may never be finished. The second, for friend two (who does much work for AIDS charities), will be in glorious toning reds (please, CTH, none of the dye problems that have been muttered about in various places, but oooh, liking it to knit with), with ribbon twist clocks, but I need to sneakily check her feet size, for that full-on surprise effect. The third, for me, me, me, in STR, is fully in potentia.

Then, the promises. The sweater for my godson, with a digger on the front (though mum keeps campaigning for a dinosaur). Promised for his birthday, in July, but it means intarsia in cotton, and I am afeared of the evil cotton colour combining. (I should make it in wool, but that boy likes his handknits, has a habit of wearing them there and then, and I don't want to be accused of giving him sun-stroke.) The matching-but-not-identical pretty pretty things for the matching-but-not-identical pretty pretty new young twins. The pretty pretty things for the singular, but equally pretty pretty other new young girl (although I have a cunning plan for this, which involves the work of another, and I hope will be revealed soon).

And, of course, the Iceland thing. Which at the moment is still very much being planned, the key to which seems to be an incredibly avaricious purchasing of extra goodies (shiny things, little beady things, sparkly glittery things, and if I'm not careful I'm going to end up with some kind of mutated steam-roller flattened my little pony/barbie princess things). That, and getting all down and dirty with some matches, 'cos I was doing the burn test on various acquired, but not labelled, and might be useful, and if you are sure I can take them, otherwise they might be thrown away, yarns.

Hmmm, I seem to have moved from named, planned, but inappropriate, to completely sand-castle in the Severn estuary when the tidal bore is coming it will be something someday but not quite sure what 'things'. And wasted innumerable words on really nothing at all.

Aha, an idea to make up for it. Go
and look at the pretty pictures of the knitted garden. Then bow your head in grief for the loss of the tortoise who went missing in Glasgow, but cross your fingers and hope that young Shep will track him down.

(The camera has now been found, knocked down behind the bed following a cat climbing bookshelves in search of food incident. The camera seems unharmed, the cat.... And yes, my life is this boring. How boring? Well, boring enough to find it hysterically funny when reminded by a 'friend' that I have not known the beast with two yadda yadda yadda since the last century. That boring.)

Friday, March 24, 2006

new homes

(cos daddy is a football fan)

I'm feeling deeply virtuous today, because not only have I done some knitting, but I have given knitting away.

First, some deeply silly little things made their way, with the help of some post-people and planes, trains and automobiles, all the way to Canada - to the home of Chub Creek. Where, apparently, it can get very cold, and pop-screen covers and microphones need keeping warm. Now, I'm a radio baby (a house isn't complete without a radio in every room), and I love me some talk radio. And if the presenter happens to be just a slightly bit odd, in a good way, and there is maybe a bit of music thrown in, nothing makes me happier. So, it is perfectly natural that I also love me some podcasts. And young Dave, co-host extraordinaire of Chub Creek (Gary is on sabbatical at the moment), took his life in his hands recently, stepped up the mark, and guested for Brenda Dayne's Cast-on (episode 15) a couple of weeks ago. Brave man, to tackle the might of the addi-turbo users, being a non-knitter, and I thought he did such a good job that he needed some kind of reward (well, that, and I was bored, and he mentioned that his pop-screen was looking a little dishevelled). So I forced a reward upon him. And he said he liked them (or else he is scared of what a pair of addi turbos might do). So.

By the way, Sage of Quirky Nomads guested for Brenda (episode 16) as well - and did a gem of a job. And this week Franklin of The Panopticon will be guesting - breaking news is that Dolores will not be involved (some disagreement over harmonica solos), which is probably a blessing in disguise. (Seriously, listening to podcasts, if you have the technology and inclication, is a wonderful way to spend some time, so go, listen, and if you like, send them some cookies, as Brenda would say.)

But back to the giving away of the knits. 'Cos this week I also got to go and see some friends, and meet their brand new twin girls. (I would say they are little, but at 6 pounds a piece, for twins not so little). Gratifyingly, I could tell them apart, but just in case I brought with me a couple of hats, matching, but not identical. (The girls themselves were a little camera shy - but imagine dinky little ones scootched down in the bassinet in the photo, below their matching, but not identical hats). And, because Daddy is a football fan, they are in his favourite team's colours. Because a man needs to sit between his daughters, on the sofa, in front of the TV, all cheering for the same team together, in matching, but not identical, hats. And mum got the olympic knit shawl, because new mothers need something warm and soft and comforting to wrap up in.

And it is good that I am feeling virtuous, because I have been being selfish, and keeping secrets. If you are a habitual knit-blog crawler, you may have come across mention of Socks that Rock, the new ├╝ber-yarn for sock knitters. And you may also have heard of the Socks that Rock Club (look, they even have their own KAL). And then cried and wailed and stamped your feet, because at first, they were only going to ship to North America. But, if you are really lucky, you get emergency emails from friend-nablers (Snow, have I told you how wonderful you are, and thanked you enough for the heads-up?), who tell you that they will ship to the UK, but you need to order 'schnell, schnell, schnell', because the club is almost full? And because I am selfish, I didn't share the news, because I wanted to keep the yarn all to myself. And it is a good thing, the giving away of knits, because my socks that rock kit arrived this morning, and it is beauteous and righteous, and if I hadn't been giving away knits, my karma would have been seriously kicked into the negative. Because the yarn is beauteous and righteous, and I was a bad, bad knit-blogger, not to share.

Now, though, I think I'd better go and knit some more to give away, just to make sure.

Monday, March 20, 2006


(an example of NMK, being possible elements of the
"evoking Iceland shawl")

This past week has been devoted to being not terribly productive at all. But if I wanted to spin it (I love spin), I would say I indulged in the latest trend - New Minimalist Knitting*.

New Minimalist Knitting is fantastic. The solution to all of those knitting mojo-less moments. The solution to spending all your time in the newest amphibian aquarium. The solution to when knitting time is limited, ideas are non-existent, and all round cack-handedness rules. It is, in fact, the Emperor's New Clothes of the yarn world.

To practice New Minimalist Knitting, take a ball or two of yarn, unwind just a little, then place it on the floor, a shelf, a pretty plate, drape it on the window sill, toss it on a chair. (The advanced NMKer need not even take the yarn out of their stash.) Then - and this is the really clever part - you stand back, admire, and pronounce done. (You can always take a photo for your records.)

There may be those who lack the imagination, or rigourous training in NMK (there are group courses available, of course, contact your LYS for details, but an intensive series of one-to-one sessions, where the master NMKer comes to your home, is the best way to go), and complain that a ball of yarn has been left somewhere inconvenient, with threads hanging off, just waiting to trip them up. But sit them down, and explain that if they concentrate really, really hard, they will begin to see the finished item. With focus, they will soon be able to visualise the days and weeks and hours of planning, of knitting, of finishing. Slowly, the yarn will be transformed, threads will pick themselves up, and loop together, knotting delicately, but with absolute surety, into swathes of knitted beauty. The potentiality of the yarn has been achieved. And all is good with the world.

*both photo and phrase coined by Puplet, who was having a bit of a silly weekend. I think he might have been at the catnip.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

being silly, wasting time

Not blocked, or decently finished, but because I (foolishly) said I would make something for a non-knitting Canadian.

Just over 4 inches wide, in Margaret Stove's laceweight, on 1.5mm/000USA needles. Just because.

Don't believe me? Kitten for scale.

(see, it is very, very small, but 200 stitches around!)

Pattern taken from Marianne Kinzel's Maple Garland Christening Shawl, from her 2nd book of Modern Lace Knitting.

And I also made them a spoon cover. I don't know why, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

I think I'm in avoidance mode.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

once, I must have done something good...

because the other day, I got sent this.

And this isn't just ordinary wool, either. This is special, surprise wool, present wool, bouncy, soft, comes from a named flock wool (the Pyefinch flock, if anyone wants to know), lace weight wensleydale wool, creamy gorgeousness that must be used for something good wool. And all because Ms Ruth WoollyWormhead is a kind and generous person, who fell for my 'pity me, pity me' posts about having 'flu (in winter too, who would have thought).

And the wool has passed the cat test, and been pronounced good. But because this wool came out of the left field, it is demanding that it be treated differently, and it wants to evoke, EVOKE, I tell you.

So although there is knitting going on (no, I didn't shut down completely after, what was it now, some kind of knotting or macrame jamboree, but it was close), and things are being done, and things put away half-done are being brought out of storage to complete, and there are some projects that have due dates (who knew that small boys could be so very demanding as to precise colour combinations and models of diggers to be depicted). And that is all very fine and good, and fun and productive and, and, and. But my mind is dreaming of creamy white swirls.

And the wool, it wants to be this when it grows up. It wants to be the trip to Iceland I made years ago now, the trip where I heard silence, walked behind waterfalls, talked and talked and talked (and sat in silence, quite comfortably) with a very dear friend, found lava and sulphur and guinness and amazingly good coffee, and black sand and sunlight (oh, the light), and ice lakes. So now, I just have to work out how.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

the stats edition

Well, the shawl has now been test-worn (thanks Blueadt, and I didn't really mean to wrestle you to the floor to get it back), and confirmed as warm, if just a tad sheddy.

From tip to tip, relaxed after blocking, it measures 80 inches across, and 30 inches top to bottom (just over 2 metres, and 76cm for the metric crowd).

It took 16 balls of Artesano Alpaca Inca Cloud (a fair trade yarn from Bolivia) in Chocolate (a shy 8 balls, with the extra for joining) and Oatmeal (nearly all of 8 balls), or 2096 yards, or 1920 metres, and weighs in at 800gms, or 1.7lbs, knit on 4mm/USA6 needles. In other words, it is rather large, but then I am only 5'1".

I based the shape on the Litla Dimun Shawl, from Cheryl Oberle's 'Folk Shawls', used Bridget Rorem's Lace Alphabet from Piecework Magazine May/June 1998, and the gusset patterns were from Barbara G. Walker. I consulted Myrna Stahman's 'Shawls & Scarves', 'Faroese Knitting Patterns: Knitted Shawls' translated by Marilyn van Keppel, and the Faroese Shawl pattern, again by Marilyn van Keppel, in Meg Swansen's 'A Gathering of Lace'. And the final, invaluable, source was Carol Connors' webpages on Faroese Shawls and Lace Knitting. You see, a truly collaborative effort. (Oh, and thanks as well to some friends who might have been rung at odd hours of the day, and had to listen to me babble incoherently about how you calculate the size of a right angle triangle, how to calculate gauge, and how to estimate the amount of yarn needed - all of which I got badly wrong.)

The yarn itself was fairly well behaved, although the chocolate was quite fragile when you unwrapped the 2 strands to spit splice (and it took a lot of spit too). Oddly, the oatmeal colour was more robust - because it was undyed? - but also more unevenly spun. Still, I was more than happy with the yarn for this shawl, as I wanted something that hinted at the rustic.

The inspiration for the colours and shape came from the film Babette's Feast, which I watched, again, a few months ago, and realised that knitter is now part of my identity. But the overall inspiration was Yarnharlot herself, and all the knitbloggers I have 'met'.

Finally, thank you all for your kind comments - when I started blogging, I told myself I didn't care if no-one visited, or if no-one commented, as I was writing to get over my fear of the hard, physical, written down word, rather than the ephemera, and easily forgettable, of the spoken. But as I've moved around the blogosphere, stopping in on others, sometimes staying, sometimes moving on, sometimes even commenting myself, I've realised that there is a real person looking at a computer screen somewhere else, and that this is all a conversation. And words themselves are fine and dandy, but the real treasure is that there is someone to talk with. (But if you don't comment, don't worry, I love you too - and I know you are there, because my stat counter tells me so. And if you've commented and I haven't replied, it is because blogger won't give me your email address, and that I am often useless.)

Finally, finally, that is the closest you will get to seeing a photo of me, so count yourselves lucky. (Puplet took the photos, by the way.)

And finally, finally, finally, brownie points and cleverness to Mary-Lou - and have you seen what she got a gold for! - for having picked up on the church bell reference in the motto, which she privately identified as having been pinched from Dorothy L. Sayers 'The Nine Tailors', a tale of murder, mystery, and campanology. (Lord Peter Wimsey, be still my beating heart.)