Friday, January 26, 2007

actual knitting content

And you thought I'd forgotten how to knit - while I just thought I had done something truly awful to the knitting gods, given the parlous state of my finishing ability. But, after giving up in disgust on just about everything already on the needles, I actually managed to find a relatively small project, and finish it. So, a pair of fair isle fingerless mittens. Adapted from Ann Feitelson's 'The Art of Fair Ilse Knitting' (wonderful book, even though some parts make my brain ache). Adapted because duh, when you make a pair of mittens for your own, small hands, don't just blindly, blitheringly use a pattern designed for a nice, large, male hand. (They are still just a tad too large in places, but hey, something finished. And I say pah to blocking).

And what have I learnt? Well, I can indeed knit in a piece of waste yarn, and then pick up from it (thumbs, baby, thumbs). But it is so much easier to pick up, if the pick up row is one colour only. 'Cos when it is a sweet little two colour, alternating stitches in closely matching heathers row, you end up trying not to get tangled in what in an otherwise normal round would be the itsy bitsy floats. Funnily enough, good light helps too.

But what I also learnt? They were quick. (Okay, so comparison knitting is lace shawls, long socks, ganseys....) And they were fun. And they used stash. Sort of. And they are warm. Which is all good.

But I have been knitting other things, too. New things. (I'm not knitting old things, because everything is in time out. Everything. And not solely because of user error.) Below, behold, the boiled ass lace (there are many reasons to thank Rabbitch, not least her way with words) that is my version of Sharon Miller's Cora Shawl. Which is now into the interminable feather and fan. But, as it turns out, I appear to be knitting an ice cream coffee break. Because somehow I appear to be knitting neapolitan ice cream, with a large side order of iced coffee with whipped cream. (And can you explain why I eat more ice cream in winter than in summer?)

Ah-ha, but you are more interested in that stitch marker? It is a chinese luck ball (okay, so you tell me what they are called - but that whole one ball inside another ball thing, carved out of one piece). Part of a beautiful set from Mary-Lou, who shares my loves of all things Peter Wimsey (a reference involving chess-sets, presents, searingly romantic love, and a life that will never be mine). And I have to say that they do seem to be bringing me luck on this particular knit. For so far, nothing has gone wrong. I have not pulled the stitches off the needles. I have not screwed up the pattern. I have not switched needle size mid-knit. And I have not run out of yarn. Perhaps all that was missing in my life was the right stitch marker.....

Finally, I'm glad you enjoyed my tale of farting shoes (go on, say it, it's fun), and be assured that there are always days when farting shoes are not only desirable but necessary. Farting shoe days are the kinds of days the see me ending up with one third of a sawn up bath panel sitting in my hall way. The days that see me begging a friend to stick back a bit of the roof with duck tape are farting shoe days. And when the cats sleep on just the left side of my back, causing great, uneven pain - yes, a farting shoe day.

ps - For those who asked, Kim being the latest, the Wedding Ring Shawl is still alive. Just in long term hiatus. It sits besides its cone, on my desk, reminding me daily that it is still there (perhaps this is why I have been avoiding my desk). And it will get done. But I'm happy for the shawl to wait, because that kind of knit should be done with a joy and a lightness in the heart. And any decisions to be made about the fellowship of the ring shawl blog can wait indefinitely, too. Because the wonderful Snow, my fellow fellowship of the ring shawl knitter, has been having such a grim time of it over the past few months. And it is far more important for Snow to find her joy and lightness again.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

which shoes ....

get me more strange looks, and occasional interesting comments in public?

Why yes, of course, the pair of I'm not really a nearly 40 year old lime green Converse.

So, the background is, well, you all know how you have a pair of shoes, boots, whatever, which are your comfortable, and not completely shabby, going out for the day shoes. Shoes which have held up well, coped with all the perils of daily shoely life, survived deep puddles, grey snow, dog mess, broken pavements, and bubble gum. Shoes which have even survived the one cat's need to remove shoes to a place of privacy, so she can inhale long and deep on the aroma that comes from well-loved shoes. (This cat eats raw potato peelings, so the fact that she wants to stick her head in a trainer should come as no great shock.) But the shoes, they are coming to an end. Still comfortable for an hour or two, but just one day at a yarn show drops a hint that you might just need to wear something else. (The yarn show was in London, and only one pair of shoes, valuable suitcase space, yadda, yadda.) And when your delightful hosts suggest taking you out (actually out, where someone else does the cooking, and the cleaning, and brings you nice things like wine, and keeps filling your glass up, that kind of out), and you ask how far the eating-out place is, and if you can go on your hands and knees, because, well, your feet are threatening all kinds of civil law suits, you know it is time to find some new shoes.

So, the next day, you crawl to the nearest shoe store, full of fancy London types (I'm down from the sticks, you must remember), all looking young, and trendy, with hair and make-up and perfume and fashion and dinky little bags and feet of iron, you realise this isn't a place that is going to sell 'sensible' shoes. And then you remember those All Stars from your youth, how all the trendy girls at your school had them, and how mum was just the absolute meanest, meanest, why didn't she understand, she just didn't care that you had spent all your pocket money on Adam Ant records and posters, and she just wants everyone to laugh at you 'cos your shoes are wrong, and she doesn't care, and if you don't have a pair of Converse right, right now you will just absolutely, completely die. And then that little mist comes down, accompanied by the realisation that there is a credit card in your bag, you do need a pair of new shoes, and they do look as if they would be comfortable, and no-one can say nay.

So you come out with a natty pair of lime green Converse. Which go so incredibly well with your hand-knit socks. And you bounce. You really, really do bounce. (You also tend to go a bit pigeon-toed, because not only are they flat, they are completely and utterly flat, without useful things like arch support. Don't believe me - check out that bouncy, knock-kneed walk that identifies a Converse wearer.) You start getting all yea, whateva, and you even bounce through puddles. (Point to remember - Converse uppers are fabric, and not entirely waterproof, and nor are the helpful little eyelet breathing holes.) And they are great. You have hours of fun, playing with the laces, and bouncing. And they become your new, favourite shoes. Because you didn't just have a birthday which took you really quite dangerously close to 40. Because you are young, not just young at heart. And you go on bouncing. And you go on bouncing with the handknit socks. And you start wearing them all day. And then you bounce home from an evening with friends, when you sat on the floor and ate cheap plastic sponge fingers and drank whiskey and beer and wine, and teased the cats with catnip, and you hear this strange, and strangely regular sound. A little pfthpftht, pfthpftht, pfthpftht, pfthpftht. Which is quite loud. And other people look at you. So you trying skipping, but the pfthpftht, pfthpftht is still there, accompanying the beat as you skip-bounce down the road.

And the next time you wear you new favourite lime green Converse with hand knit socks all day, the same sound is there. And this time you are with knitters. And they laugh at you. And point, and wonder if you had macho beans for dinner. 'Cos the miraculous thing about hand knit wool socks (apart from the miracle that is the heel), is the miraculous thing about wool. How it can absorb water, and still feel warm. How it can absorb water, and not feel wet. And how, at the end of a long day, when you feet just might have felt a little bit toasty warm, and there might also have been a puddle or two, and so your socks might just be a little damp, that that warm, slightly wet wool on the heel rubs up against the back of the nice rubber cradle on the shoe, and with each step you take, your shoes fart.

And of the other shoes - well. What I want to know is, is why women are expected to look all fancy at weddings and such like events, when it is more than likely that this means wearing your fanciest shoes (and yes, The Manolo, he knows how to make a shoe, and I love those shoes with a passion, which is why they only come out for special occasions, and you at the back can behave yourself, because I have, as you very well know, a deeply boring life), and the hosts will always insist on making you walk, stand, manipulate a plate and glass at the same time, expect you to both eat and drink, make interesting and polite conversation with strangers, and try and look vaguely elegant (or at least in ironed and/or matching clothes) on grass. Without sinking. Or spending hours picking off bits of rabbit droppings that have been speared by a very expensive, and very pointy heel.

And finally, the knitting. Which shall not be mentioned, bedeviled as it is by yet more lying ball bands, who declare to be of the same dye lot, yet clearly aren't, because someone must have played shuffle in the yarn store. Which is seen only when the front and the back are just about the be grafted together. So I'm off to post some growth stunting pills to my godson, because I am determined that one day, this jumper shall be finished, and he had better not have grown to big for it.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

big head,

big head, I've a big head,
my head it is enormous, and is large to look upon.
Jenla, Jenla, they gave me a big head,
now I've got a big head, and the pressure is on.
Big head, big head, I've a big head,
'cos Jenla think I'm funny, and I've got to carry on.
Big head, big head, I've a big head,
now I need to knit more hats, so they fit my giant head.

Those darling, wonderful knottygirls gave me an 'award', in their annual, completely objective, handing out bouquets (and brickbats) session. Go, check it out, find new and interesting and wonderful bloggers (and don't forget to present Jenla with an invoice, for suggesting yet more ways to spend your time not working).

But I'm wondering if I should be miffed, 'cos apparently my deeply heartfelt and completely serious words have been taken awry. Don't they know I live my life as one of mature, reasoned, restrained, utterly rational, tasteful and graceful navel-contemplation.

Ladies, I am honoured. May you not live your 2007 in interesting times.