Monday, December 24, 2007

catmas cheer

Remember to put some catnip out for Santa and his reincat, hard at work tonight.

Remember that only good cats get catmas presents, so a last-minute public display of affection for your catmas friends is always a good idea.

And finally, don't forget to get to sleep early the night before catmas - it can be tiring, being full of catmas cheer.

To friends old and new, Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

wipping post

Look what I done gone and finished. A thing of beauty, in the pattern, a thing of glory, as other people have made it. A wonder.

Yes, that is a finished Eunny Jang Tangled Yoke Cardigan. And I made it with proper grafting, and short rows for lumps, and even grafted off the ribbed button band. And it is lovely, made in a not quite too fuzzy coned yarn from Sue Blacker. (Okay, so it is much fuzzier than the pattern recommended yarn. But I deserve brownie points for stash-busting. And even though the fuzzy makes the cables less stand-out-y. But, still, I deserve points for stash-busting.)

But. Despite getting gauge (even with yarn adjustments), and knitting to what I thought was the right size. I forgot something. I forgot about negative ease. And the thing hangs on me like a sack. A really, really bad sack of idiotness. (And the buttonband needs better blocking.)

So, do I give it away? Frog and reknit? Hide it and continue sulking (this sulking may have had something to do with recent blog absence, because I am not a grown woman)? Or, daringly, do I try a very subtle and gentle semi-felting? Answers on a postcard please.

Still, there have been other works happening here - behold two in progress, which do fit, dammit.

A baby Muir, in a Habu silk. Lovely, but slow. My designated sitting in front of the 'puter waiting for a CD to upload knitting.

And my one and only bit of Xmas knitting, a pair of socks, not even for me. The Clematis Vine (but without the vine) from Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters. And I know these fit, for the giftee is regularly instructed to hold out foot, close eyes, and then forget the feel of stranded Regia Silk goodness.

What I really, really like about these socks, apart from the fact that two colour socks are just so much quicker, is that the combination of the red and charcoal plays tricks with the eyes, making it look almost ribbed. That, and if you do trust in Cat's magical master numbers, it actually works.

And now, I would like to share with you just one final piece of wisdom, stolen from Carrie K. (very clever woman, that):

The reason to never finish your knitting is to avoid any possible danger of learning that the infernal thing doesn't fit.

See, nothing but a license to keep casting-on....

Sunday, November 25, 2007

there is nothing like a bowl....

....of yarny goodness, to set you up good and proper for a long day ahead of serious yarn shopping at your nearest yarn extravaganza.

For seriously, is not this bowl of chocolate and raspberry sweetness better than a bowl of cornflakes, or highly fruit-and-nutted-museli?

Officially, a bowl full of Posh Yarns, of cashmere Incense. Because a long time ago, I had a cone of something or other that I cannot remember (no, my stash is not out of control), which Blueadt rather liked. So it only seemed right and proper that Blueadt got the cone, and in return I would get something. Only I forgot that I had done this (once again, my stash is not out of control, and nor is my memory for yarns in it, due to be in it, due to be used, due to be part of it at some unspecified time in the future, when I first see them, but are only in potentia at the present). Blueadt, on the other hand, has a firm grasp of all things yarny in her life (you can check out her stash on Ravelry, if you don't believe me), and did remember. And recently, I was presented with the above. Which are beautiful, and pettable enough that they probably deserve actual pet names, and good enough to eat. So many thanks Blueadt.

And then, to make things even better and brighter, the postie knocked the other day, and presented me with a package all the way from America, which contained things that smell nice (yay for smellies, that aid the hiding in the bath to soothe away the day), and things to keep food usefully hot in (yay for the funky hot-bag, which also, happily and conveniently, nicely holds a travelling yarn project), and yet more yarny goodness. So good, that surely snacking on this would be better than a hearty bowl of porridge. Or better than a bowl of Cranachan?

In colours that make me want to dye my hair to match (the colours of the yarn - not the blondeness, though I would dye my hair blonde, if it would guarantee a regular supply of Dizzy Blonde Yarns). So yay for JenLa, who sent delicious things many, many miles, to bring berry, berry goodness into my stash. (The fact that this sits not in my stash, but on my desk, is in no way any kind of indication that I in any way acknowledge that my stash may be a place of growing black hole-ness. For I am in control of my stash, my stash does not control me.) So many thanks JenLa. (Oh, and you just have to check out La's Serenity blanket. Lace, and Joss love, can it get any better?)

The actual knitting show went well, greatly aided by my fellow traveller, and arch-map-reader (and map-annotater - she found a pencil loose in the car), Knitterbelle (and the less said about buckets of beans and Cattlemens Associations the better). Though shopping was severely limited by my standing on the KCG stand for much of the day (but shopping was still managed - in a somewhat panicky fashion, but please to remember that this is in no ways any sign that the stash is in control, it has not achieved sentience, and in no ways is it directing me in any kind of mind-control fashion to feed it to epic proportions, so that it may take over the house), under the careful eye of WyeSue. I wonder if WyeSue's watchfulness had anything to do with my ever constant need to invite people in, possibly a trifle loudly, to 'Come and look at Sue's knitted knickers'? No, surely not. (Though they are deeply fabulous, and well worthy of looking at.)

Despite all the recent doom and gloom, life is actually pretty damned marvellous, what with presents, and knitting shows, and knitting actually happening (you can just wait for the actual info on that), and just generally many fun things to do. And winter solstice getting nearer, so soon the days will get longer. Yay.

(Excuse me, but I think I hear the stash calling. Apparently the Habu has been misbehaving, and calling the Wensleydale a country yokel, and the Jamieson's colours need separating, because the greens have been mixing with the yellows again. And I need to arm myself with a couple of 150cm circs before I go in. Not that the stash is out of control, or anything.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I really, really, really, really....

.... want to have a major whine-fest. I mean really. I want to bitch and moan and whinge, and shout and cry and stamp my feet, and throw absolutely every single breakable toy out of my pram.

Hmmm, I think, among other well-whingeable things, that S.A.D. might be kicking in big-time this year (a month or so to go, and the days will start to get longer...).

And I haven't made time to tell of the (yet more, I'm very, very spoiled this year) presents from near and far.

And I haven't made time to tell of the yarn-related activities.

But tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and I will be playing at a knitting show.

And then, I shall come back, and be a cat for the rest of the winter....

(okay, so my new motto is: 'don't have anything [nice] to say, post pictures of sleeping cats instead'. Sorry.)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

whoopsie cushions

I took this picture, so I'll use it, goshdarnit. (Anything else that might have happened in yesterday's post is a completely innocent mistake, so apologies to all concerned....)

One cat, one evil cat, who has been known to swipe me in the eye, for not vacating her sofa quick enough. Keeping my dinner warm for me, and adding that extra special spicy flavour.... Perhaps this is a hint that I should up my home-cooked food consumption, and stop with the take-away....

Thursday, October 25, 2007

can't come to the blog right now...

... because I am:

1) Nursing a little baby black eye. Which my CAT gave me last night.


2) I've finally got onto Ravelry. You can find me under susoolu. Let the time sucking begin.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

feeling deflated, and apparently rather red

Now, it isn't that I've been avoiding the blog - but rather that dear old blogger has been having a few posting issues. But still, here, again, some finished things.

First off, some charity knitting - small things, to make into key rings (and I really must try and remember who they are for, and where I am meant to send them). And evidence of multi-tasking ('cos I is female, and apparently we is good at the multi-tasking). Three little socks, which are my 'class' socks from Cat Bordhi's 'New Pathways for Sock Knitters', and a sweet little jumper, in horrible, horrible acrylic.

(Do I like Cat Bordhi's new book? Yes, I suppose I do. Some very fun patterns, well laid out, couple of very useful tips, very good support via Cat's website. Overall an interesting addition to the library.)

(And I would like to point out that the hatred for acrylic is very much a personal thing - I just don't work well with it. My tension goes to pot, the knitting looks a mess, the squeaking sets me on edge, and it just generally makes me manky and sweaty. And there is part of me that wishes I could work well with with much of the man-made - as some of it does look very nice. But I can't.)

And now, onto some socks. Which in the knitting of, looked most interesting, and not a little scurrilous. But now they are finished (and worn), though they are warm and functional and fit, they have rather flopped. And the cast off, to make sure they aren't tight, is perhaps just a touch floofy. But I shan't draw any aphorisms, about things which promise, but don't deliver. Because after all, they are just a pair of socks.

And finally, to something pretty, but pretty useless (for me). A pair of Selbuvotter mittens (I love the Selbuvotter book, I love the concept that a whole knitting tradition can be traced to one person, I love the work that Terri Shea has put into writing this book, and I love how generous Terri has been in acknowledging all the work of so many others, past and present, in the creation of this book). In fact, they are Annemor 4 - the dog mittens. Worked with just 2 lovely balls of Jamieson's Shetland Spindrift, in white and red, because my dog really, really wanted to be loud.

I had so much fun knitting these - they were quick, interesting, challenging enough, but not insanely difficult (and no, you can't see the boo-boos, but there are a couple there, for me to learn from). And completely useless, until I can find someone with hands small enough to fit. I feel another truism coming on....

Monday, October 01, 2007

Last week ....

was just one of those weeks. One of those weeks, that now that I am 39, I wonder what has happened to my life. (I'm certainly not the international superstar librarian/vet/ballerina that I thought I would be when I was 8. At the ages of 7 and 9, I just mainly wanted to do away with my older brothers.) And I know I seem to be fixated on my age - how *did* I get to 39, just how did that happen - but, joyously, I still seem to be milking the getting of presents somewhat.

So, anyway, last week. It started off with celebrating a friend passing her Viva - another doctor in the very loose academic family - which, of course, involved much high-flying intellectual conversation. And then, increasingly, much toasting and drinking, and possibly a diminution in the tenor of the discourse. (Bless anthropologists, for their ability to keep going for ever and ever, given a fire and enough whiskey, and who cares if we were sitting in the rain, on wet chairs.)

But more importantly, the next day, I reintroduced the newly crowned doctor to yarn. Hooks, though, not needles. (And admonished her soundly, for she had stopped with the hooking, though she now lives in Bristol, and passes their temple of yarn regularly. But now she is hooked again, and I'm sure wouldn't be adverse to my sending her off with a shopping list every once in a while.)

So, the week has kicked off with things intellectual and yarny. Always a good start. And the yarny continued. For next there was a meeting of the local KCG. Where our great and glorious leader told us we would all be working in black and white, and putting on an exhibition in the summer. The standard response to that, of course, is to throw things. But I don't think the yarn hurt too much, and she says that the needle puncture wounds are healing nicely.

And the intellectual continued. For it was the quiz final for our WI federation. (No, we didn't win - but at least this year we didn't quite get threatened with being thrown out for disruptive behaviour. But how can you resist acting out the answers in the Heraldry identification round - and my Lion Rampant was considered a triumph.)

So far, so fairly regular. But midnight saw things moving a little more unusally. For, of course, it was the Halo 3 release. Will Master Chief win? Will Cortana stay evil, or see the error of her ways? Will I survive being in a small intimate gaming shop with so many spotty boys dressed in combat gear? Will I ever get my tv back? ('Can I play Halo now?' 'Yes, you *may*, but only after you've done the washing-up.' Actually, it sort of works quite well, as a way of getting out of housework.)

So Wednesday was spent balling up, by hand, a most beautiful present (while shouting 'Go left, no left, you idiot. Move, now, oh look, you died. And now you have to start all over again.'). Nearly a whole mile of navy blue laceweight.

A present, all the way from the Faroes, from Wye Sue. Who somehow just seemed to know that I don't have nearly enough on the needles. And that the lack of lace in my life was ludicrous. (But as always, once balled, the laceweight, she has to sit there, until inspiration strikes. Gradually collecting cat hair.)

So far, so good. Until Thursday, when strange and fascinating blogging connections all got just a little six degrees. For it turns out that one of the bloggers I got to know through the Knitting Olympics (she got a medal, I didn't, and no I'm not bitter at all) not only used to live 5 minutes away from where I am now, but is that daughter of a member of my local WI. And she was up, visiting. So we got together. And I had one of the funniest, easiest, most interesting evenings I have had for a long time. Meeting An Elegant Sufficient, in the live flesh, was a delight. And then Gill went and topped it all, by giving me yarn. And things to do things to the yarn with. A sumptuous skein of Knit Picks sock yarn, and a bunch of Kool-Aid to dye it with!

Though I must admit, I am a little afeard of the powder packets, given that even though they are still sealed, and not sweetened, I'm getting an anticipatory sugar high off of them! So, if I am seen wandering around with berry-cherry stained hands for the next few days, it is all Gill's fault.

And the week was topped off with an minor emergency visit to the Vet, when one of the beasts (the one pictured at the top of the post, the one looking all butter wouldn't melt) decided to get conjunctivitis. I swear they do it on purpose. I swear they get together, and decide it is time for one of them to get something minor and irritating, but expensive. I swear that they were plotting, while I was out eating posh fish and chips, playing with humans, that I needed to be punished for returning past their dinner time (as if they piles of protest hair balls weren't enough).

And the week came to an end, as I battered some slate paving stones (and yes, I did manage to break one by jumping on it too much) into the dead lawn, in a pair of swanky new spotty wellington-boots, just so I could get to the new compost bin without wading through mud. While waiting for my house-mate extraordinaire to finish making madeleines.

I don't know that I ever had a very clear idea of where I would be by the age of 39, of the kinds of things I woud be doing. But I don't think I imagined this.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

the animal edition

Because I promised, and because I am in love with them, herewith prawn pr0n and sheep. (And a cat, being a prawn.)

So first, and look carefully, for there is a delicate crocheted prawn - with antenna - nestling among the sugar prawn sweets. A prawn, when seen, that I practically wrested untimely from its maker's hands. (Actually, I did trade for them, with some shockingly pink Rowan something or other. Which, fortunately, the lovely and kind Marie (non-blogging, but deeply talented) likes - shockingly pink, that is.) And after losing prawn at least twice at knit club that night, he did finally make it home, to be sewn onto a brooch back, and then carefully placed to adorn my coat. But do you remember those shockingly sugary prawn sweets? Well, I couldn't resist buying a packet, just to see what they were like. And to know, now, in my growing dotage, that I much prefer the crocheted kind. (Though I would never say no to a bowl of perhaps delicately garlic and chili scented finger dripping loveliness of the real kind.)

Happily, fortuitously, Prawn then got a friend, to keep him company. For the deeply talented Mary-Lou, in a moment of incredible kindness, and stunning organisation, sent a little care package my way for my recent birthday. (Which arrived, on the day itself. More than anything I got from either of my brothers. Though one of them did call that evening, and sing a stunningly drunken and out-of-tune song to me. And even though the singing was shockingly bad, the fact that he remembered, for the first time in over a decade, was more of a shock.) So Sheep arrived. And where better to put Sheep, than next to Prawn, on my coat.

Mary-Lou also had the intelligence to send chocolate (well, of course it isn't still around), and a delightful book on shoes. (By the way, I have become so attached to my farting shoes, that I now have three pairs. Such joy and bouncy comfort do they bring to my life. And so much fun to wear, especially when chairing meetings of my local WI.)

What brings me even more delight are the looks I get, with Prawn and Sheep on my coat. The looks, as people stare, double-take, and stare again (hey, their eyes are up and to the left of where they sometimes are, which is always an improvement). And sometimes even have the bravery to ask questions, in a 'Is that a..., well, no, it couldn't be..., is it really...,' kind of way. Don't you just love having talented friends?

And finally, one of the dreaded beasts. Doing her best to imitate a prawn. Looking innocent. No at all as if she had been hairballing with a vengeance recently, in an attempt to get the premium, ridiculously over-priced cat food, rather than supermarket own-brand. (One small bit of success, though. For we are starting to wean her off her cravings for raw potato peelings - though she isn't so keen on summer varities, and really isn't a fan of new potatoes, she is a King Edward girl all that way - and have discovered that cucumber peel is an almost acceptable alternative.)

Still to come, mitten (and now mi), and more pressies - something from the very prescient Wye Sue (owner of the niftiest combinations I have seen, ever) who just knew that I need something to kick start the lace.

And Avast, ye land-lubbers, for tomorrow, 19th of the fair month of September, is of course, Talk Like a Pirate Day. (Lookie, lookie, Mary-Lou even has appropriate clothing for you!) Arrrr!

(edited because I can't spell today)

Sunday, September 09, 2007

it was a 'special' day yesterday

And I forgot to mention it. It was, in fact, Wye Sue's Birthday. (Mine too, as it turns out.)

And I got mighty spoilt, for I received cards, and presents (details to come, but many, many thanks, Mary-Lou). And I took myself off to go and see the KCG - which is code for spending money on things knitterly. And then I took myself off to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, to eat bambi and cranberries and ice-cream, and be stilled in awe by the Andy Goldsworthy exhibition.

And seeing as it is birthday season, the last of my recent birthday knits:

Seemingly, a rather strange thing - but in fact a version of Elizabeth Zimmermann's 'Very Warm Hat' (from 'The Opinionated Knitter').

Knit in just over one ball of Jaeger cashmina (the grey), and using that darned Buffalo gold yarn for the brown. And after all the possibly snitty things I may have said about Buffalo gold, I have got to say that it is beautiful to work with. Because it feels like your hands are running through the softest undercoat of your favourite pet (but without all the requisite wet dog smell). And it does knit up ridiculously warm and soft. So I shall cherish my memories of working with this yarn, because unless I get very, very rich, I shall never work with it again. (Oh, and the problem with birthday knits, is it helps to check the head size you are knitting for before you are nearly finished, so that you have to start all over again, and end up washing and blocking the hat at 4.30am, to be given, still damp, at noon the next day.)

Many thanks for the kindness about the tea-pot cozy. The latest report is that it is now completely liberated from the tea-pot, and has become the hat-du-jour for the twins. Which is delightful, but does mean that when I visit for tea, my tea will still be cold. So my cunning plan went awry. Again.

Amy, I wish there had been a pattern, it would have made life much easier - but instead I just cannabalised one of the frilly neck/cuff patterns out of Nicky Epstein's 'Knitting Beyond the Edge' (which has some very, very beautiful things in it), and topped it off with a selection of her flower patterns from the same book. The thing which saved me was knitting the base in a lovely, forgiving, elastic 100% shetland wool yarn, which meant I could get it good and wet, and stretch it heinously, and block it fiercely on the tea-pot itself, because of course, not starting with a swatch, it was slightly too small. (Everything I make tends to be either slightly too small, or slightly too large. My inability to judge size correctly must be related to my refusal to accept that I am no longer a size 8, or even vaguely near to a size 8, and haven't been for the past 20 years.)

Right, now that I am older, I must away to bed, for the midnight bells have struck. But still to come are prawns, and mitten and socks in a myriad of sizes. And a sheep. Can't wait...

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

not blogging, been knitting

And so, may I present, the 'Functionally Frou-Frou Teapot Cozy':

Behold, first, in its pinning on of the insane, using up lots of yarn oddments, flowers. Hmm, fun. (And many thanks for Hiding Pup, for the sewing up of the insane flowers.)

Then, the side view. Note the functional frills - for added insulation. And the flower topping, for added insulation, and added frou-frou. (Note, as well, how flower placement decided to change. Gah, you try to plan something, and do you think it behaves...)

And finally, the top - if only Carmen Miranda had liked flowers instead of tropical fruit - view.

The teapot has been presented, accepted, and used. More importantly, no sooner had young god-daughter and twin sister seen teapot cozy, than they did what every sensible, and fashion-conscious, 18 month old does, which is place cozy on head. Where it looked mighty fetching. (And, gloriously, this has solved all present giving for many years to come. Because the younglings like hats. And I can make hats. And then in a few years I can present them with knitting needles and yarn, and they can make their own hats. Bliss.)

So when I say functional, I actually mean multi-functional, for the cozy can keep warm both tea and tiny tot tĂȘtes. I loves a bit of form meets function, I does.

I'm still far, far behind on blogging, and emailing, and just generally things. But in my defense, I have indeed been knitting. So to come, more hats, mitten, the most beauteous crocheted prawn, and an almost completed pair of tumescent socks. Just like buses, you wait forever for one, and then three come at once...

Monday, August 06, 2007

summertime.... so it's time to make cozies

People cozies, and teapot cozies, that is.

Finally, some shots of the Yoda coat - modelled by Hiding Pup - teamed with its yarn-mate, the My Dear Stalker hat. Both made in glorious Garthenor Organic Jacob.

And the coat may not be pretty (but the buttons are), but it will be absolutely perfect for winter. Because it does what it says on the tin - it will keep me warm, and has places to store things. And I got to work on various techniques while making it, what with those afterthought pockets (lawks a mercy, and blessings on you, Elizabeth Zimmermann, says I as I tug my forelock), short row bust darts (which are just about in the right place), three-needle bind offs on the shoulder.

And dudes, check out those side seams. Finally, I think I may be cracking the mysteries of the sewing up (which is much, much easier in a big chunky wool, 'cause it is so much easier to see things). I am insanely proud of those seams.

Originally, it was a Rowan pattern - Kim Hargreaves' 'Snow', from Rowan 26, but the modifications have made it my own. That, and that the model in the magazine looks cool and interesting and attractively windswept, whereas I look somewhat like a cross between a small child in a home-made Paddington Bear coat, and a muddy Michelin man. But I care not, and when worn with the hat, the Jacob yarn will protect me from all slings and arrows, and any possible name-calling. Because I will be the warmest thing around, and moreover, I will have pockets to put things in.

Second, behold the teapot cozy in progress. A mad confection of frills, which has yet to fall into the knitted flower garden (yes, the pink is going to be covered in knitted roses). The sharp, and assiduous blog-readers among you may recognize the influence of Yarnstorm - for it was her pineapple cozy that is the inspiration. (Yet somehow, Yarnstorm's pineapple cozy has a certain kitsch splendour, whereas mine is, inadvertantly, going for the crocheted toilet roll cover on acid...) I've just got to hope that functionality wins out over lack of taste, and that the soon to be owner (why yes, it is going to be foisted on someone as a birthday present - but they get the tea pot too) can cope with the sheer amount of yardage in the ruffles.

Right, I must go and knit flowers now. And check on the painting of the garage door - child labour you know, such a useful thing (well, it is the summer holidays, and my next-door neighbour gets to look after her grandchildren, and the garage door badly needed doing, and the kids were at a loose end, and it is so much cheaper than paying a grown-up to work. And the littlest one is just about small enough to send up the chimney.)

And then I must go and remove the pillaged bird's nest. Which has been ravaged over the past few nights by killer. Who does not believe in giving her prey a sporting chance. Because where is the fun in that, when she can nip out at night, and catch the birds a-napping. Behold, I am the pawbinger of doom.

And I've got a feeling that I owe quite a few people emails and such. But I've melted my brain, wearing a too warm yoda coat in the finally, it might almost be summer temperatures.

ps - glad you like the sock post, but I am shocked, I tell you, shocked to my core, at how some of you saw such dirty things there. Go and was your minds out with soap.

Friday, July 13, 2007

is it just me....

.... or does this look like something it shouldn't?

Yup, that's right, a too tight sock. In the latest Socks that Rock Club colourway and pattern.

Have a good weekend, y'all.

Monday, July 09, 2007

ker-nitting, ker-not finishing

The Cosmos Jacket, she is done. Well, she is knit. And she is now waiting for all the ends to be sewn in, the sleeves set, and the seams sewn up. And then we play the sizing game - will she fit, won't she fit. But a lovely knit to make, where the designer cunningly has you working on lots of techniques, fair isle and intarsia, mattress stitch and picking up. Jamieson's patterns tend to assume a degree on knitting know-how, and I would have been terrified a couple of years ago, worrying about whether I was using the 'right' cast-on, or joining the yarns 'properly'. But with the internet, and an out-of-control book buying habit, knitting has become a more natural craft to me. Just wish I were better at the sewing up! (I found some old junior school reports the other day - apparently, the teacher thought I really, really like sewing. Just because I used to be fastidious about washing my hands every five minutes - meaning less time spent actually sewing - and because I used to take things home, and get mum to do it for me. Because I really, really didn't like sewing. At all.) Oh, and a word of warning - check your yarn amounts. The yarn pack contained much too much of the accent colours, and not quite enough of the main. (But, despair not, for this means I managed to score some free stash yarn, and Jamieson's sent down the extra.)

And even though Cosmos is not quite wearable-finished, my lust for Jamieson's is undiminished, for Winter Sunset is growing fast(ish). I am absolutely hypnotised by fairisle in the round (remind me of that when I get to steeking, and cutting). I love the rhythm, and watching and feeling as my hand dips up and down, main and background, counting each repeat, finishing each row sooner than I think possible. The sense of accomplishment, as each pattern repeat, each row, each block is completed, the tiny sense of loss, as you know that that section is finished, and the anticipation as you look to see what comes next. I know that I am losing all sense of proportion, but it is better than looking up, looking around, and realising you need to do the hoovering, again. So excuse me, while I ignore the world around, and get back to watching a sunset grow.

Monday, July 02, 2007

woolfest and water, water and woolfest

First, the weather watch section (unfortunately, not a patch on The Iceland Weather Report, but hey). The expected deluge just pretty much, comparatively, tinkled down - so all that nervous anticipation, all that 'blitz spirit' (and I'm never quite sure what to think about that phrase), came to naught. And though it is raining, and thundering right now, the worst of the threat is hopefully over. Which is good - for people are still underwater around the country. And much as the flooding here has been a tragedy for many people, we were relatively lucky. Nothing like the regular flooding in Bangladesh, or the current floods in Pakistan, or what happened after Hurricane Katrina.

But the 'best' news? Decimate can come out to play. For it seems that in Hull, the housing stock, both public and private, was decimated by the flood (though the council wimped out, and just went for the measly 1 in 10!).

But you all want to know about Woolfest. Unfortunately, my official photographer, Hiding Pup, had volunteered to stay at home, and pup the flood barricades (well, and there is no way I was going to be sharing a tent with him - friendship only goes so far). So, really, no pictures (though many of the same people, and animals, were there, so last year's pictures will do - the early July posts. And some of those animals are such regulars, that I swear the minute they see a camera, they start primping and preening, and checking that their locks are in place. Yes, I'm talking about you, the Crookabeck Angoras.)

Well, there was the camping - with Woolly Wormhead and her mother, Gloria, and her aunt, Paula. Fibre people all. And camping people, which is even better, for they brought the goods, the equipment, the tents, and even put up my tent for me! (I, however, arrived with 5 packs of ground coffee, wine, beer, bananas, the largest, thickest duvet around, and 36 kit-kats. I know what my priorities are.) The campsite, Graysonside, is stunning - and comfortable (actual hot, properly hot water in the showers, and cleaner that my own bathroom).

There were people to talk with, into the early hours of the morning - when fellow campers Babylonglegs and Yoshimi came a calling. And Wye Sue dropped by with her spinning wheel. And no, we did not accidentally set fire to a cardboard box in an attempt to keep warm.

There were knit-bloggers to meet (and of course I can't remember their names), and fibres to fondle. There were spinning wheels breeding (nothing else can explain how every time I turned around, there seemed to be more), and people to convert to sock knitting. There were old friends to see - those on the KCG stand, and those on KCG Trading (fortunately they seem to remember me from year to year, which is helpful, as each year I forget my membership card). And, of course, the Jamiesons stand. Which was visited many, many times. Well, they brought a lot with them, and you didn't want to make them carry it all home again, so it was only polite to walk away with a kilo (or 2 or 3 or more), of their yarn.

There were books to buy - Terri Shea's 'Selbuvotter: Biography of a Knitting Tradition', Priscilla A. Gibson-Roberts' 'Ethnic Socks and Stockings', and Veronica Gainford's 'Designs for Knitting Kilt Hose', because I am having an historical moment. (Gloriously, Gainford has her own set of knitting abbreviations, taken from a Victorian, Edinburgh published knitting book. Now I'm fine on 'O', and 'T', but do you know what 'A', 'Ts', 'P', or 'B' stand for?*) There was just a little bit of new and exciting wool to buy - just a little bit of Wensleydale, and a couple of balls of Teeswater, because we need to keep the variety of sheep breeds alive. There was one incredibly dumb purchase. Not because it isn't beautiful, and soft, and gorgeous, and a deep, rich, very animal alive brown colour, and not because the family selling it weren't lovely (come, visit the ranch, we've got room, and beer, and Texan B-B-Q), and not because it isn't always fascinating to see what a different fibre is like. But it was hideously expensive. A single skein of Buffalo Gold sock yarn - enough to make one (yes, just one) adult anklet sock. Or something else, I am sure. Perhaps something framed, behind glass, with an alarm system, to prevent theft, 'cos it ain't called buffalo gold for nothing.

My overall impressions of Woolfest 2007. Socks, spinning and felting. Gone were the innumberable hanks of variegated lace-weight which were everywhere last year. Up was the amount of roving to be had. And weaving is creeping in with just a little bit more strength. There is still a little bit of an issue with a couple of places vastly underpricing their goods - a stall may be showcasing an organisation, but when a delicately smocked child's coat dress, in hand spun, and two colours, is selling for only £35, or a beautiful, tiny, knitted and beaded purse sells for £10, it impacts on all those who are trying to make a living from their craft. But overall, Woolfest goes from strength to strength, and the members of Woolclip are keeping a close watch on the feel and identity of their festival.

And I leave you with a photo of my last purchase. A few stones from the Cumbrian felt wall (being sold for charity). Who could resist taking home a bit of dry stone walling, especially when being sold by a young girl, whose pitch includes telling you how they are 'safe stones to throw, because they won't break any windows, because they aren't actually real'. And because I wanted to see what the cats would do to them. (So far, the stones are still intact, but they have been sniffed, prodded, sat out, scent-marked, and are currently being ignored.)

And I'll see you all at Woolfest 2008.

* O - yarn over
T - knit two together
A - slip stitch, knit two together, pass slipped stitch over
Ts - slip stitch, knit 1, pass slipped stitch over
P - plain stitch (knit)
B - purl stitch

Thursday, June 28, 2007

I want ....

.... to thank our dearly beloved Yorkshire Water, for having the prescience in signing me up to a free, three-month sewer and drain damage insurance policy. Amazing, that the letter was sent out on Thursday 21st June, and the great deluge hit us on Sunday/Monday 24th/25th June. (Where I live was hit quite badly this week, fortunately our house was, just, safe, just a minor roof leak, and a little bit of toilet backing up downstairs, but enough are still under water. Blueadt, who has a swanky new mobile phone, took many, many pictures.) Just who are their weather forecasters? They should get a pay rise. Ah, but the best thing about this free, try-it-and-see insurance policy. You can't make any claims for anything that happened before 5th July.

.... to have a wedding. With ceremonial swords. Because for the really very reasonable sum of £39 extra, you can get up to £20,000 of cover for ceremonial swords. Just what do they anticipate happening with the ceremonial swords? Do you get someone in from the ConfrĂ©rie du Sabre d'Or, who attacks the toasting champagne, sending the cork flying off, to great applause, but it lands on top of the wedding cake, which topples, tipping the flower-ringed candle over, which sets fire to the crepe swags, which in turn ignites the immense amount of hair-spray vapour in the marquee, and as the fire brigade arrive, to drench all the guests in water, they run over the castle owner's prize Chinese Crested Dog (nothing fatal - just put him off his stride a little) which was on its way to a highly lucrative stud assignation. And all this from having a ceremonial sword or two at the wedding. (Oh, and not to mention that in the whole basic wedding insurance package, they'll even pay for your counselling, but only if the wedding doesn't take place. But if you are getting married soon - Good Luck!)

.... to stay dry this weekend. Even though the Met Office is predicting more heavy, heavy rain. Because someone has decided that I must go camping, in order to attend Woolfest. (The one and only time I have ever camped was in a friend's backgarden at the age of 8. Memorable because they had broad bean plants in their garden. And we had just 'studied' broad bean anatomy and reproduction at school. So we spent the whole evening, in a state of high giggles, just this side of mass hysteria, comparing the anatomy of a broad bean, and its reproductive cycle, to that of humans. Urgh, men, urgh, gross, giggle, giggle, giggle. Parents screaming to get us to shut up. I wonder why I never went camping again.) So hopefully I won't be washed down a mountain, with a precious skein of hand-dyed lace-weight clutched in my teeth, as the hills resound with the sounds of knitters all crying 'Save the Wool! Save the Wool!'.

.... my new, just finished Yoda coat (though it will probably be more Kenny from South Park coat - the hood looks worrying) to dry in time for said camping. Because I need something to wrap up in to keep warm. Because I've been told that campsites don't tend to have central heating.

.... finally, for my house to stay dry this weekend too, though as I am leaving Hiding Pup in charge, I have every confidence that it will be. But I might just move some things (the stash) upstairs, just to be extra safe. And it would be no great loss to humankind if the living room carpet had to be replaced.

Friday, June 22, 2007

this is not....

... a cow. Even though she eats a cow's worth of grass, and other assorted vegetables (I'm currently trying to wean her off raw potato peelings onto carrot peelings, but somehow the orange doesn't appeal.)

... a sign of affection. Though I suppose, grudgingly, they are quite fond of each other. (Mainly because the not a cow has a habit of not finishing her cat food, giving the not affectionate one ample opportunities to grab some sneaky extra helpings.)

... asleep. This is 'being' asleep, with the paw over the nose actively keeping those eyes shut, because it is daylight outside, and one wouldn't want to be awake in the daytime, because that would interfere too much with dawn and dusk hunting activities. (Though she has a spangly new collar, with a bell on it, which has dramatically reduced the number of huntees.)

This, you may have noticed, is not a post about knitting. This is because no photographs of knitting have been taken recently. Because I cannot quite face all 48 knitted and decorated butterflies just at the moment, and because I had yarn quantity issues with the Cosmos Jacket.

Many thanks for all your generous comments about the Cora Shawl - she shall have an outing soon.

Monday, June 11, 2007

cora filed

Finally, at last, the Cora/Neapolitan Ice Cream Shawl is done. Not just done with the knitting, but done with the washing, the blocking, even done with the photo-ing. Done, done, and ready to be done with as I please, and if that means wadding it up into a ball, dumping it on top of the filing cabinet, and forgetting about it for months, it is done to be done with. (The fact that I might just be waiting for an invite to an 'event' - and I'm really not fussy here, any kind of 'event', which involves hanging around until the summer evenings turn cool, and something simple must needs be draped to keep me warm, and I can pretend that I am elegant, really, really shouldn't have anything to do with whether I wear Cora or not, but hey, I'm only human, and I want to show it off at somewhere a little bit nicer than the local pub.)

The facts:

Can't remember when I started Cora, but it was sometime this year, and, even more amazingly, she has only been hanging around since I bought her at the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching show last November. (The shawl pin, shown below, also came from the same show, but you think I can remember from whom?)

It is, but of course, a Sharon Miller design (though not her colours, which were just a little too pink), goddess of all things lacy.

A remarkably trouble free knit - which is down to two reasons. Shetland wool, baby (Jamieson's Ultra, this time) - my choice of desert island yarn, no matter the weight, because it just grabs me, baby. And the good luck knitting markers from Mary-Lou, which have stuck with this project from the very start (scroll down to seem them in action). Not that I believe in luck, but the lack of dropped stitches, come blocking time, has got to be down to something....

A couple of other thoughts. First, may I never see feather and fan again, or at least for a long, long time. Yes, pretty, yes, effective, yes, simple to learn. But on a round of close to 1,000 stitches, and may the knitting saints forgive me, but more boring that purling close to 1,000 stitches. And second, the shawl is large (just over 5 foot square, and it could have gone further), I am short (just, just over 5 foot, and some people still owe me an eating of their hat, because I broke the 60 inches), so in the triangular shot, the dreaded pointing finger of look, look, large ass(crack) here is avoided. Yippee.

So I leave you with some photos, the obligatory cat claiming ownership;

the laundry line shot;
the close up, with adornment;
and the imagine a person inside the elegant drape shot;

And I think, in honour of the luck that Mary-Lou's stitch markers brought, I shall rename her 'The Wimseycal Shawl'.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

scene of crime reconstruction

Yes, yes, well all know how useless I have been recently. But it isn't my fault, 'cos I have been drowning in a sea of home baked cookies and rock buns (Yarnstorm's rock buns - seriously good, and if I may have spun a few stories about how she seduced her husband with them, mea culpa, but it certainly helped in their selling), second hand books, marmalade, and knitted butterflies. For 'tis the season to be standing on market stalls, raising money for whatevers. And the season is not quite over yet, for the children at school of knit (the genius idea of Blueadt, which is much fun, but costs us a fortune in breadsticks - used to stop that post school lack of energy crash, 'cos we vetoed the sweets and chocolate, and fruit is too messy - as well as the hi-larious sight of breadsticks as chopsticks, breadsticks as knitting needles, breadsticks in ears, breadsticks up noses, and the perennial favourite of breadsticks as vampire fangs, which is just as funny as it was a year and a half ago) still have their summer fair to come. What's that? My crystal ball is saying it can see me sitting in the wee small hours, sewing buttons onto butterflies, and butterflies onto brooch and barette and bangle backs.....

But in between all this rampant capitalism, other things have been happening. First, I have been seduced by the eternally perky Flo, (yes, my life is not complete, unless I am serving screaming cell-phone users, being barked at by bossy business ladies, and cleaning up after caterwauling children). And second, there has indeed been some knitting. For the semi-big news is the neapolitan ice-cream shawl is finished, just awaiting blocking (and purchase of accompanying real neapolitan ice-cream).

And finally, with the aid of the amazing dust/fibre/hair/fluff-ball finding and creating cats (just give me a rug, any rug, any carpet, any chair, for I must to sharpen my claws. Holes, what holes, I can't see no holes, no, that isn't a hole, in a rug, just beside me, with a pile of pulled up fibre beside it, and gosh, how did that bit of carpet get in my claws), I have been playing at CSI. For I have been stringing, reconstructing the scene of the crime, the moment of impact, the point of pointlessness. With ... wait for it ... up to 25 different bits of string in any one row.

Behold, I bring you the back of Jamieson's Cosmos Jacket. With cat. And tangles.

Aren't cats helpful.

Monday, May 07, 2007

missing in action

and I could show you the pile of flithy used tissues, to justify my absence, but you don't want to see that, do you. (Anyway, I'm an old fashioned hanky user - every xmas I pretend I am a man, and put a box of nice, new, man sized handkerchiefs in my paltry xmas stocking. When you were little, didn't you think it was so awful, how your parents used to get things like socks, and underwear, and hankies for xmas? And how it was worse than unforgiveable, when you got them too? Oh, but I know I am getting old, when I start to think how lovely it would be, to get a pack of M&S functional, comfortable knickers in my stocking.) And worse, it seems that there is something strange going on, in the knitting pantheon, that everytime I get close to actually finishing a shawl, I get bronchitis (for evidence, the olympic knit, that nearly finished me). But the ice-cream shawl, she is nearly to the edging, and if I am good today, then the end is in sight.

But I do have something to show you. To make up for my being ill, and just in time for summer (and to make me feel better for being too ill to make it down to London, to play with my frog bag owner - apparently, a big hit, and just the right thing for nearly 5 years old J.J.O. to carry his sunglasses, lip salve, and money for ice-cream, when down at the local paddling pool). Behold, I bring you 'My Dear Stalker', by the fabulous Woolly Wormhead. And hopefully, she won't mind that I made a few alterations - making it extra, extra large in gorgeous organic pure Jacob wool, from Garthenor Organics, adding a crochet brim, and then felting the f***ker. So, some before and after shots:

(yes, that is a partial picture of my, still in my pjs)

(what, you are meant to be able to see when wearing a hat?)

(the washing machine didn't eat it)

(the ears, the ears, just right to protect you from the sounds of the bells, the bells)

Now, this hat is meant to be from one of my big brothers, but it is so lovely, that I'm not sure I can bear to part with it. For it is warm, and cosy, and slightly not quite 'normal'. And when you wear the ears down, they swing comfortingly from side to side as you walk, and you get to feel just like a bloodhound working for Sherlock Holmes. Not quite clever enough to solve the crime, but you know you'll be crucially helpful to the case.

Finally, you may notice that I have changed the template - I have somehow managed to pass 100 posts. And this means that all my carefully collected side-bar delights have etherized. Oh, well. So I'll try and work on those, and get them back ('cos I love housekeeping so). And apologies, for all those who tried to listen to Monsieur M.C. Nuts - well, the sound worked for me!

I shall return, with tales of ice cream shawls, and socks in progress and local elections. Bet you can't wait.