This is me, wearing my February Lady cardi, ensconced in the First Class carriage, crocheting a mobile phone sock, on my way to UK Ravelry Day 2009! It's a bit fuzzy because the train was vibrating with speed, but it's the best of six or eight that I took, including a charmingly smeared one of my bum as a particularly sharp jolt knocked the camera out of my hand. Nonetheless, it is proof, if such were needed, of my attendance.
I abandoned Tiny Husband and the Mighty Offspring at silly o'clock for a Saturday morning, and tore off determined to arrive for the opening. Sadly, it was not to be. The bus to the centre arrived later and took longer to travel than I had allowed for, so all was in full swing when I arrived.
It was actually a little intimidating walking into the hall knowing it was full of fibre enthusiasts. I didn't dare take my rain coat off at first, for fear of people throwing tomatoes at me for my February Lady blasphemy. Or something equally irrational. I got a coffee and sighed over the lovely cakes I daren't even breathe around, and checked out the competition. But despite the tight confines of the entrance hall, everyone seemed quite jolly, pushing and shoving their way round very politely. I risked putting the raincoat in my shopping trolley (for, friends, I was on a mission), sucked in a fortifying breath, and tried a little eye contact. No tomatoes. Oh good. Then I saw Rooknits, who organises the knitting meet-up that I, er, occasionally attend, helping hand out programmes, and wearing - yes! - her own FLS. Completely different to mine, barely skimming her hips in a variegated purple Malabrigo, and just looking so much lighter. Mine is, you know, heavy. Cotton. A quick word, and I went to pick up some goodies, including a Rav badge.
I had not scheduled anything for the morning to give me a chance to wander round and soak up the atmosphere. On my way into the main hall, a couple of people stopped me to look at the FLS, and one took a photo. The Knitter magazine, which was sponsoring the event, had a photographer there taking pictures of individual knitters in their finery. I made sure to walk past slowly and ostentatiously, and they totally ignored my orange and black 60s-inspired take on the world's most popular sweater!! Which didn't improve my misgivings about it... And as if to add insult to injury, on my final promenade, the photographer's assistant - or the fashion director, who knows - dived shrieking towards me - and grabbed the woman behind me. Who was wearing an ill-fitting, sangria-vomit-coloured... sack thing, that she protested she hadn't even had time to finish seaming or weaving in on (which was very obvious) before coming to the event. It was a shambles, but the PA/FD just would not release the poor woman, dragging her kicking and screaming up on the stage and propping her up with threats and menaces as she tried to hide her face in shame inside the lopsided half-sewn collar... Maybe it was some hellishly expensive yarn - they always seem to look like some variant on puke - or a pattern by some high-flown designer. I clearly don't have good enough taste or fashion sense to tell. Maybe - no, undoubtedly - it would have looked better properly finished and blocked. Who cares - I was miffed, insulted, ready to throw the bloody FLS in the trolley, certain it was every crappy thing I worried it was (tacky, ugly, unflattering, laughable, grannyish...). Sometimes I am a very small person.
The hall was bustling quietly. Someone was doing a demo of spinning in historical costume, on a very large, very homemade looking wheel. I couldn't place the era, and don't know enough about spinning to identify any more than that, and was still feeling too shy to stop her and ask questions. There was a selection of fabulous felted hats, some military, on her stall, but sadly none for sale. The most amazing thing was a set of carders (?) that I didn't even see until I was leaving the hall later. Instead of bristles, they had large burr seeds attached! That just amazed me. Of course, what would you use before manufacturing gave you the option of inserted-bristle brushes? It's so obvious and ingenious.
I wandered about for a bit, looked everything, then headed out into the bucketing rain to wander round the stalls. The first thing to see was this adorable pair of alpacas. There were a few people, as I passed back and forth, who bemoaned the terrible conditions the poor little things were suffering in the rain. I inadvertently sniggered the first time I heard one, earning a glare, but really? They come from the Andes (full of alloo-ARRRR!), which is Spanish for 'some of the most extreme environmental conditions found on this planet': Coventry must be a cake walk for them. They certainly seemed to be coping with the downpour and the crowds with typical camellid insouciance, though of course they may just have been stoned on the comparatively oxygen-rich atmosphere.
I bought some alpaca fibre at another stall, lovely deep black stuff that I will one day pluck up the nerve to spin. However, I was really after Jameson and Smith's stall. I wanted to get a colour card (done, and then some - I think I got every colour card there!) and possibly some yarn. So I picked up 10 skeins in a lovely honey green, which I hope to run up in a Japanese pattern from Hitomi Shida's 250 Couture Knit Stitch Patterns, to which I treated myself on YesAsia. I also somehow accidentally walked off with some 1-ply cobweb in a lace scarf kit. No idea how that happened, or how that huge sack of Shetland spinning fibre came to be in the bag with it - if you've been paying attention, you'll know that lace and I are not mutually compatible. And my first response to thread is to whip out a steel crochet hook visible only under electron microscope - not big fat knitting needles! And it's PINK!!! Gooey, sickly, sugar-pink at that. Nonetheless, I cast on Meg Swansen's talk and did a respectable amount before having to rip back due the inevitable stitch-count issues.
In the afternoon, I attended a natural dyeing workshop, run by Debbie... Barton? Sorry, the name is gone. There, I went a little mental, discovering previously unsuspected enthusiasm for the Madd Colorzz as long as I was in charge of the dye pots. The result is the red and green ball on the right - the ball on the left is some leftover mordanted Jamieson & Smith jumperweight that we were told to take away. I dyed it a lovely deep gold with onion skins - not terribly even but mouthwatering. I mean that btw, I'm dribbling on the keyboard just thinking about it. I call them Rhubarb and Crumble respectively. There might be enough for a faux Fair Isle tam, but I'd probably best knit it from the top/centre down just to be on the safe side.
I also picked up some smaller size KnitPicks (now Knit Pro in the UK) interchangeable tips and longer cables to go with my kit, and some of their multi-coloured Symphonie wooden cable needles - not that I need them, or will ever likely use them, as I think the scoring on them would tear up the yarn, but I can't say no to a cable needle... Tried to get some Soak, but the only bottles left were scented and didn't appeal. Was sorely tempted by Poems of Colour, but it was sold out too apart from the stall copy. I did finally settle on The Opinionated Knitter, and got it signed by Meg Swansen!
Meg's talk was great fun. She read briefly a few extracts from her mother's books - mostly The Opinionated Knitter, which at this point I hadn't bought. I've always liked Elizabeth Zimmerman's tongue-in-cheek humour, and it translated well in the talk. Most of the talk was taken up with answering questions from the floor on any and all topics related to Elizabeth, Meg herself, Schoolhouse Press, etc. I hadn't expected any laugh out loud moments, but there were plenty. At one point, someone asked about the February Lady Sweater, and whether Elizabeth would have approved of this adaptation of the Baby Sweater on Two Needles (Knitter's Almanac). In her reply, Meg asked for all the people in the hall wearing a FLS to stand up - and at least 20, probably more like 30, stood up! I may have lost my stitch count at this point. All different colours and fibres, on all different sizes and shapes. After the talk, when I queued up to get my new copy of The Opinionated Knitter signed, Meg was very complimentary about my fitted FLS, and asked a lot of questions about how I'd done it (yes, I know I have to put something together about that). So, sucks to the The Knitter! Validation from the foal's mouth!
Monday, August 03, 2009
This is me, wearing my February Lady cardi, ensconced in the First Class carriage, crocheting a mobile phone sock, on my way to UK Ravelry Day 2009! It's a bit fuzzy because the train was vibrating with speed, but it's the best of six or eight that I took, including a charmingly smeared one of my bum as a particularly sharp jolt knocked the camera out of my hand. Nonetheless, it is proof, if such were needed, of my attendance.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Let's see, a good long while ago, the father of the Monstrous Offspring's playmate at the childminder's asked me if I could make a replacement blankie for her. He is also the Head of IT at work, so I ain't gunna be p!ssing HIM off, with the state my laptop's in! I had a look at the pitiful remnants of her blankie, and there was just enough left for me to make out that it was definitely crochet, three long stitches together and a chain between each group, into which the next row's three stitches went. The long stitches might have been trebles, the number of stitches in the chain might have been 3 or 4 - the poor thing was too matted to tell. But I had a go at it for her birthday, and she was delighted. I was worried she would feel it was trying to take over, but she wrapped it round herself, twirled with it, was a butterfly, etc. Honour was satisfied.
I should really try to crochet more. It's starting to be a little ouchy on my hand, and that's not good. I may even have a project in mind...
Tiny Husband has expressed an interest in tie pins and waistcoats - now that his workplace has made ties optional for all but front of shop staff. Contrary beast that he is. So I made him a 1940s knitted waistcoat! The yarn is from a massive cone of natural 100% wool - Herdwick possibly - that I bought for nothing when I was still leaving the universe of dolly-mixture acrylic - didn't even know Herdwick was a breed! There's probably more than enough left for Louhi, once I get the courage together for such a long project - and a decent pair of gardening gloves: that stuff is rough! Currently, I'm making a Noodle Shrug for the bridesmaid, using this wool doubled.
This is all by way of diverting attention from the fact that I went on a big me me me drive recently. I attempted to make this for myself using some no-name chunky wool blend from LIDL. It was a very fast knit - all done, plus other knits, on our two weeks in Ireland - but it was just too. Low-cut. And there's just no way I was going to add even more bulk by wearing something underneath it to hide Pinky & Perky from a curious world. It awaits frogging and a possible rebirth as Owls. My Ruffled Collar Pullover continued apace, but there's only so much time I felt like devoting to ribbed mohair. Making considerable progress is my Clarice bag. No photos, but it is almost finished, which I am quite pleased about. I've only been able to work on it for short periods, as the multitude of bright bobbins tends to attract cat, son and husband, to the detriment of the work.
Then I saw these, and had to have them for my own. They are Penispoopcakewaffle Socks. Brainchild of one Wendy Moreland, it is a free Rav download, not available elsewhere I'm afraid.
For a time, this was all I had completed for myself to wear to UK Rav Day, and durned if I could find a pair of shoes, among the millions I own, that I could wear them with - even just a pair I could wheek off easily for showing-off purposes (why does that sound dirty now it's in print...). I had slaved and slogged into the wee hours many a night trying to finish off my Joan Crawford (in a black variant of the mystery yarn mentioned in the previous post) for the day, only to be defeated at the last by the finishing. Sew a hem on a jumper, will ya, Biddy Ann? Aye right. I ask you.
And then, the blindingly obvious hit me. Funny how often that happens. Some time ago, I answered a plea from someone about the infamous February Lady Sweater - or as thee, me and the cat would call it, bed jacket. Cardigan if you're being charitable. This is viral knitting as its finest. The Susan Boyle Youtube video of knitting. Now That's What I Call Knitting #6306 (which is the number of times it's been made so far, according to Ravelry) - you get the idea. It's the adult version of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Baby Sweater on Two Needles. I first came across it a good while ago, being touted as suitable for a maternity cardi, and thought good luck to it. It's mostly lace, which is not something I'm dying about at the best of times. What with neither being pregnant nor having the prospect of pregnancy, not to mention having a very great hatred of the current fashion for looking pregnant (even though it worked in my favour when I was) I had no interest in the thing. But a plea went forth, and I answered it.
The whys escape me. I mean, it's not like no one out there had ever made one. Some people have made - well - quite a few. They're a bit like sock knitters: they've found what they were born to knit, and, well, they go to it with a will. Anyway, this is about me me me, so back to your normal service.
Her questions were quite complex, possibly made so by a difference of language, and in the end I had to cast on to check that my reading of the pattern was correct. For handiness, and because it was roughly the right weight, I started off with an apricot cotton - Paccia La Lana Cinzia - which I got in a fire (or possibly bomb) sale in Belfast about 18 years ago. I had tried doing things with it before, but nothing had quite worked. Undaunted, I plugged on with FLS to the point - at the end of the collar/start of the lace - where her questions ended, and was pleased to report that I was correct (as was she, just confused, but then this is about me me me. I don't know why I have to keep saying it). By then I had invested a substantial amount of time on the project; I thought I might as well use up this stuff after all that time in a box, moving countries with me.
Okay fine, I just couldn't stand the thought of ripping it out again.
So I continued. I soldiered on with the lace - it wasn't too hard, especially after I put 15 million stitchmarkers at every repeat. I could even do it without looking, managing half a row or so (there are about 85 giblillion stitches per row...) on the bus. Then I remembered I was doing a maternity tent - sorry, smock effort. Never a good look on one so sumptuously endowed as moi, and thanks to my recent success in vanquishing the Weed, I am packing a smidge more round the waist than I like. So not just huge jugs to make it sit out, but a muffin top to keep it from sneaking back in. By jaze sez I, I'll need to do something about this.
So I shaped it. Hah! Pheer my madd skillz. I narrowed it in to my waist, then widened it out again for my hips. Then along the way I thought, you know, for ages I've been longing for something a bit piratical, a bit Jacobean, something with booty and flounce and that certain Laurence Llewellyn Bowen sensibility - something with oomph and tra la and a fol de rol to set the cat among the curtains. So I SUPER-sized the hip increase for a bouncy little peplum, ha har! Then I added cuffs, collar and hems in a vintage Astrakhan I have about me, and some gold-and-black buttons I found in the market, and voila! The effect is not fitted, but semi-fitted: I can still wear a jumper underneath. Though part of me is tempted to unpick and re-do it, because I feel I didn't start the decreases early enough. But whatever.
I just about finished it in time to travel to Ireland, where I wore it almost constantly. The photos had to be taken that evening, before it was finished, or blocked or anything - you can see the ball of astrakhan balanced on my shoulder. I'm not sure now why it was so urgent, but it was. One day I'll get nice pics. Ones where I don't get exasperated by the photographer's fear of pressing a button on my very complicated camera phone while panicking over the location of the passports...
Next installment: UK Rav Day!
It's gotta be. Nearly 5 months since my last post, and let me tell you I have not been idle.
The first report is of the Bob The Builder jumper, last seen almost two years ago. Hallelujah, it's done. Good job I was making a big size - he's still got room to grow into it! Forgive the look of misery on his face - I was committing the cardinal sin of interrupting his viewing of Ben 10...
So what else? Ah Christmas. Scarves and smoke ring kind of things, mittens that I stupidly didn't photograph before they were handed over. Ah well. We went to Ireland for two weeks over Easter, giving Tiny Husband's HR person heart failure at taking so much time off so early in the financial year. Several gauge-swatch bunnies, Ava's pink hoodie and Adam's Trellis cardi were finally given to their intended victims - or not in the latter case, as it was not originally intended for Adam... I'm just too much of a flibbertygibbet with crafts. But I suppose it makes up for being so staid and dull everywhere else.
The Mighty Offspring also benefitted from a Fat Controller hat. This is the top hat worn by Sir Topham Hatt, the eponymous director of trains on Sodor Island and Thomas the Tank Engine's boss. I made this by laying out cash money - yes! coin of the realm! - for Dark Twist's Miniature Top Hat pattern, then promptly ignoring most of it. I used Rowan Big Wool rather than a worsted, because, well, I didn't really want a miniature, just a little'un for a little'un. I think there was some mad nonsense about felting it by boiling it, then plunging it into freezing cold water too, but I am here to tell you - do not waste your time on this pish. Throwing it in the washing machine on a boil wash cycle with a pair of jeans that have got a bit saggy in the arse is yer only man. All I got for that boiling and freezing nonsense is frizzy hair and chilblains, and the Offspring hiding in a corner with his fingers in his ears until Daddy came home. In a way, I'm sorry I didn't just leave it the size it was, because he looks so cute in it, an Artful Dodger - which fits his personality a lot better these days. The remaining yarn was made into a pair of felted slippers, which spend too much time on the run to be snapped on camera!
Two more pairs of socks, one a green and beige on-the-fly Fair Isle (and I must get a pic of these on him), the other a Spidey pair. I'm really becoming quite inured to arachnids, as I also made him a pair of my Mitts-to-Mittens with the Spidey pattern - though Gordon knows where they are now. Probably in his special superhero chest, wherever and whatever that is this week. The Spidey socks were the last pair I made using the 52st pattern, as I've noticed they're a bit baggy even on MO's feet. The green and beige were made using a 48st version, which is quite snug. At that point I kind of stopped with the socks, partly because he really had enough for now, and partly due to a misunderstanding. I did buy some socks (they were cheap), big enough for his feet which of course meant they came up over his knees. Not too long after, we were having this little chat about socks and shoes, and he told me he didn't like the socks I made him. Now, I didn't at first factor in that 'buy' and 'make' probably mean much the same thing to a highly-verbal three-year-old who nonetheless only has a three-year-old's understanding of the magical ways in which goods and services appear in his world. He has about ten lyrically-described birthdays a week - doesn't mean he's getting cake every day. Turns out he doesn't like the long socks, only the Mommy socks... I have started again, as I see some of his socks are a bit small now. More of which anon.
I also made him a woolly sweater, Crab Apple, based on Blue Garter's Twisted Tree Pullover - with the usually mods for not having the right yarn in the right weight, etc., etc. - do I really have to say this? The pic does not do this justice - it is one of the things I am most proud of making - utterly gorgeous, beautiful stitch definition. I dread the day when he's too big for it. In fact, I'm plotting how I can lengthen the sleeves and such to get a bit more wear out of it...
But the interesting bit is the yarn. I bought it out of the bargain bin at this market stall I go to. I'd seen other yarn like it before - similar weird rolled-up looking balls - but they didn't appeal. Many of the colours were drab, and they looked like they were the work of a particularly ham-fisted beginning spinner: I've done a bit of spinning so I know whereof I speak here - all twisty and lumpy and bumpy, only singles and the fibre looked rank - nasty old ropy cottony looking stuff. However, this one day, there were 2 balls whose colour just demanded to come home with me, a beautiful vivid sap green. And at 69p for 2 balls in the sale, I wasn't going to fight over it. Sadly, I had to get the brown because there was no more green, and I needed 3 balls in total, though I must say, it came together well in the end.
It was brutal to work with. I imagine knitting Brillo pad fibre would be easier on the hands. I switched from index to middle to ring finger flicking as blisters rose and fell, and even to my shame did the odd row Continental. I went through many times that 69p's worth of Norwegian hand liniment. My hands turned green - the dye just seemed to brush off the yarn! and every dozen or so stitches I'd have to stop, grab the ball, and dangle the knitting from it to de-tangle it - it was horrifically overspun. Then I began to notice it was FELTING. Well, sort of getting that another-go-at-90deg look about it, at least. Then there was the quantities of hay I had to dig out of it... Finally, when I wet it to block it, it looked like the dye was just going to leave it completely - it absolutely gulched out of it for ages. The odd thing is, the colour wasn't really affected - there's a few white flecks that weren't there before, but otherwise, it's the same sap green that drew me in the first place.
Then I went to UK Ravelry Day in Coventry a few weeks ago - a grand day out which I will make mention of - but anyhoo, I was tootling around the rain-soaked stalls, mindful of my budget* but determined at least to beard Jamieson & Smith in their, er, stall, and cop a feel of a few fibres that shall remain nameless (dirty, dirty qivuit), when I just ceas'd all motion. I posed myself a few searching questions and ascertained that something had caught my surveillance attention out of my peripheral visual field. There was a little hurried conferring with longterm memory, with visual memory loudly denying all knowledge and blaming everyone else, and then finally reading comprehension and categoric memory kicked in with a few facts that hitherto had not been going to the same parties, all whilst, unbeknownst to the cerebrum, the legs had wafted me towards a stall I had just passed.
And there by the hokey were some balls with the same odd rolled-up shape to them. Same godawful ropy stuff, in glowing colours - multi-coloured in this case, but I was too stunned to hold that against them. Ye see, all that mental conferring and confabulating - putting of straw and blisters together with dye runs and felting, and marrying that to a chance flicker in the corner of my eye on a rainy Saturday in Coventry - had already told me what I would see written on the gracefully hand-painted sign beside them...
But it doesn't end there... I have poured over Yarndex and online Noro sites, asked questions on fan forums, gone to yarn shops and looked and asked, and I'm no further forward. Noro's not cornflakes - they don't make yarn for anyone else, and no one else makes yarn for them. It looks like it might be Maiko 105 colourwise - but Maiko is a new range, and I bought this yarn before Maiko became available! Anyway, Maiko's also supposed to be plied, not single. I've bought more in the interim (yes, even before UK Rav Day!) which has a different structure - 2 plies, evenly spun - but in colours that are closer to Cash Iroha, which is a single (not plied) yarn... So I don't know what to think - and neither does anyone I've asked. It looks like it should be, but it's not quite right... There's only a few 'solid' Noro ranges, and the colours I'm finding are oh so close - but the weight and the construction is wrong, even for discontinued colours. Quality control reject? Pre-production run that didn't get past the design stage? Did someone hit the saki too hard at the office party, and do the yarn factory equivalent of photocopying their bum? Or is it something completely different, that just happens to bear certain remarkable similarities? Employees trying to make a bit of extra cash on the side? Industrial espionage? Wool piracy?
Akk. I'm not used to putting in this much detective work and getting nowhere. Answers on a postcard?
* I was rushed to hospital with a suspected heart attack in May! It wasn't - I have the heart of a GOD - but the health insurance policy gave me some free money for the two-day stay in hospital, which was my UK Rav budget...
Friday, June 20, 2008
And here he is:
So proud of his work -
About a fortnight ago, my son, aged 2yrs 8 months, demanding to "do knittings". I grabbed the camphone, then got out an old pair of needles and my bag of scraps (priorities, m'dears, priorities). He picked the "lello woo" himself because it looked like Josie Jump! He's still asking for his knittings occasionally, though we've moved on to pink wool after an unfortunate potty-related incident with Josie...
So far, I am tackling the light blue and claret shades, which are coming up at a gauge of about 12st / in. The first is the striped pair: just 4-row stripes, one of which is split across the heel. Both colours are held together on the heel and toe. I'm planning to make two more pairs in this colour combination, one of which is almost finished - again stripes, but in the combination AABAA BBABB. These are the strip colours of Aston Villa, a football club here in our fair city of Birmingham. A few years ago, The Villa were going through a reversal of fortunes - good or bad I can't say - and there was a slogan about it - again it may have been coming from disappointed fans or enraged supporters of other teams, I don't know. The slogan was "Sh*t on The Villa", from which I named this project "Socks on The Villa". I'm such a wit.
The second pair is in the light blue only, with a little mock cable running down the sides - k through back of 2nd stitch on left needle, k through front of 1st stitch and 2nd stitch and remove from l needle. The next pair will be in claret, and I'm toying with making them ribbed on the leg.
I have started a little jacket for him as well, purely because I fell in love with the yarn... And it's variegated!! Quelle horreur! Teddy Colorama Colour Keyed Chunky. Actually, I fell in love with the DK, then noticed the same colourways were available in chunky. It's a simply beautiful melange of greens, creams and browns, some long runs and some short giving stripes, spots and chevrons. Of course the gauge is all off. The pattern calls for 10st x 13r on 9mm needles, which would be too large for this yarn, which is on the low end of chunky. The ballband recommends 3.75mm needles (15st x 20r) - ridiculously tiny for chunky yarn. I’m getting 14.5st x 20r on 6mm needles. I also decided to Zimmermann it - knitting seamlessly. Except for the pockets which I didn’t stop to understand - they’re attached at the bottom as per pattern (but there’s a BO edge in the body), and at the top as per a sort-of 3-needle bind-off of mine own devising which isn’t BO but instead melds into the body. If I had taken time to understand the pattern I would probably have done some sort of pick-up and bind off to anchor the side of the pocket, and possibly a Fig-8 cast-on onto a dpn at the bottom to knit the whole pocket attached, which would have the added advantage of not interrupting the striping-ness of the yarn. Sadly, it was all on my snazzy new computer which decided to die, so I'm a little stalled until it's fixed.
Finally, for a colleague who's going on maternity leave soon, there's a Presto Chango, one of the cleverest ideas I've ever seen for babywear. The body is in blue Robin Bonny Babe Aran, and the insert(s) is (are) a mystery Aranweight cotton found in the Bullring. I just have to knit one more insert, for which I'm checking through my Aran pattern books. She's expecting a boy, and the pattern's lace insert looks a bit girly to me... Not that she's likely to put it on the child - from the sounds of things, the sprog won't see anything less than Armani. And that's just the nappies.
I had a clever idea, aka hints n tips, recently. Using i-cord to re-create the effect of Aran barleytwists if you don't do Aran knitting, or to create your own non-canon shapes and designs. Just make huge quantities of i-cord (a job for a child with a new French Dolly?), lay it out in the shape, then sew to the knitted piece.
Gosh I'm good.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Yet another pair of socks for my mightily hoofed offspring. Ye gods I am bored with this sock business. The only thing they have going for them is that they are handy bus projects for my 10-minute commute. But I shall persevere until he has a reasonable supply - by which time he'll probably need bigger socks - because today, for the first time EVAR, he has been willing, nay, demanding to wear something I've made him - yes, these socks. Ripped from my hands as I tried to finish weaving in the ends, which is nice because it's not my favourite task, with shouts of "Mommy, put a socks on!" Guess they won't get blocked for a while then. He pootled around the house until bedtime, when he adamantly refused to have them taken off. Half an hour after we put him to bed, I looked in on him. He was sitting on the floor, facing the window, chatting to his socks...
Again based on the Lion Brand pattern but modified for gauge as described previously, these are the Fibonacci socks I mentioned. So what's Fibonacci when it's at home? Well, HE discovered a sequence of numbers where each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers, hence 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21, etc. So what? So, most flowers have a ‘Fibonacci’ number of petals. Fibonacci numbers also show up in the shapes of coastlines and clouds and other natural phenomena. Also, if you divide each number by the previous number, you get a result that is very close to the Golden Number/Section/Phi/Divine Proportion (1.618), whereby all sorts of The Weird And The Wonderful… ~Cue Twilight Zone music~. It's all terribly amazing until you realise that mathematics exists to describe the universe. So it's not exactly surprising when the universe just happens to conform with the maths, is it?
It is a little sad that this glorious stuff is too complicated to explain to kids who think maths is boring.
I have also - in two days! - completed a Valkyrie helmet for my cousin's daughter Anna, who is a cute chubby little Brunhilde. It's based on a Viking Girl Hat I saw on Ravelry. However the thought of forking over $24.50 for a kit had the predictable effect on my bowels, so I reverse-engineered it from the photos. I couldn't tell for sure if there were horns or wings on it in the photos, but as a Viking re-enactor, I couldn't in conscience put horns on it so wings they are.
I wanted a smooth, helm-like shape with no obvious decreases. To get this, I phase-shifted the decreases on each round (i.e., starting at the 1st stitch on one dec round, and on the 7th, 5th, 3rd stitch on the alternate dec round). The plaits are i-corded, though I thought about French-knitting them. In the end, though, I had the dpns in my hand, but the bobbins were somewhere in my knitting boxes...(Modelled by my vintage fully-working Oopsie Daisy, with original outfit, for those interested in such things.)
Monday, April 21, 2008
My dad died a year ago. We were not close, and disagreed about most stuff. I don't recall him ever calling me by my name, and he certainly didn't know where I lived - not just that he couldn't remember my address off the top of his head: he didn't know what country I was in, let alone what city. He only began to warm up a bit when my son was born, the image of him as a child. There was no broken home or damaged relationship to explain this. He simply wasn't interested in his daughters. We were the waste product of having real children - sons. My sister lived nearby and was able to force some recognition out of him. In many ways I regarded him as a rather eccentric relative that I didn't see much. I was fond of him and recognised his good qualities, even though I knew they would never be applied in my direction. He was a good man, loyal to a fault, kind, tolerant and good with children. I wasn't terribly upset, just shocked when he died. Now mostly I'm angry at him for dying at only 69 and denying my son the chance to get to know him.
Mum is lonely since he's gone. She has a lot of support in her church, and always had a life apart from him, so she is bearing up well. But she doesn't have to run around after him any more - checking that he's taken his pills, has his wallet, isn't eating junk (he was a diabetic), etc. - and is a bit lost. They spent a lot of time together and they talked about everything under the sun. Except food. Dad could get her to stay off the subject of food for hours - I wish I knew his secret. She was on the phone daily over the anniversary weekend of his death, even though my brothers and sister were there for her. Not to talk about him - she didn't mention his name once, even when she phoned minutes before the actual time of his death. I can't have been much comfort, I just let her blather on.
Tiny Husband is in a poor way atm. He fell over in the car park at work a fortnight ago and wrenched every joint in his body and a handful of ribs. He had spectacular bruises from wrist to elbow on both arms but otherwise was okay (!). Then his calf muscle began to hurt. It bruised and swoll up about twice its size. He went to the Haemophilia Unit several times and was sent away because it was clearly a bruise, not a bleed. Finally they gave him Factor, crutches and 3 different painkillers including codeine phosphate, and an appointment for physiotherapy. It looked like it was working, but over the weekend it swoll up again: he spent Sunday at the unit, and had to go back the following morning. They didn't keep him in then on condition he went home and rested. So he lied to them and went to work anyway.
Today at work, he had Disability Awareness training on blindness - how not to be patronising towards disabled people. Though come to think of it, One is not sure how he can tell people are blind over the phone. The chap had the grace to look embarrassed as he delivered his spiel to the guy on crutches...
It's been a knackering few weeks. Emotional turmoil, and the bulk of the housework, shopping and childcare to do as well - TH is very useful about the place, deffo no Elektra complex in this marriage. However, I've managed to do quite a bit recently.
I'm just finishing a third pair of socks for Ickle Baby Cthulhu. They're just quick acrylic knits. His feet are very broad but not big, so it's a struggle getting his (shop-bought) socks on. I've been using DK yarn, but that's a bit bulky. I've some 2-ply pure wool I might try next.
I also made a Bloody Stupid Johnson hat for TH for our wedding anniversary. The pattern's not 100% clear here and there, and I goofed a bit on the crown. Also, the head band is supposed to be grafted but with the cabling that's just as messy as sewing it. So I did. It turned out fine, a bit better if anything as it's longer to the crown than it should be. Just like TH.
I really ought to have finished the Drops Hooded Cardigan from the Bullring mystery cotton blend for my niece, but decided it really needed to be lined. And that, as we know too well peeps, means sewing (~shudder~). More specifically it means finding something to line it with, which translated into a couple of weekends bombing round the Rag Market. Then a few more weeks umming and ahhing as I tried to figure out the best way to line it - before or after assembling the pieces? during, whilst sewing it into the seams? and when should I knit (and line) the hood - before or after or...? Oh the dilemma. Trilemma? - there are 3 options. See how I suffer for my art? Oh the PAIN!!!!!!!!
Cillian's Trellis Cardi is also finished, apart from tidying up the ends from sewing on the buttons. As he's now 15 months, this may have to become Adam's Trellis Cardi - depends on which size I made. Durned if I can remember. I also have a crocheted knitting-needle roll (OH! the irony...) almost done, just a closure to do. I also found this very, very old (well, from just after I restarted crafting) project lurking in plain sight on the Baba's bedroom floor: a rug crocheted from old sweatpants*!! My sister sends me these things even though she knows I don't wear them (?!?!). So I cut off the cuffs and waistband, slit them up the inside leg and one side-seam, then cut them up into a single strip about 1" thick, which I crocheted up with the thickest crochet hook I had - an 8mm I think. It would have looked neater if I'd rolled the strips so only the 'knit' outer was visible, not the fleecy lining, but PATIENCE IS NOT MY VIRTUE DAMMIT!!!!!!! The Ba used to lie on it for his kicky sessions before he was mobile - more comfy than the hardwood floors. Now he uses it to slide along the same floors, wheee!
What else? Plans for making a bunny from a swatch. Oh yes, and I'm now a Proper Ol Designer, Ravelry-accredited n evrathang! My totally amazing scrunchie pattern has been downloaded loads! LOADS! more than I thought it would be... both from my Ravelry Designer shop and from the linky on the sidebar here. Well, shucks. Thanks to all the lovely people who thought it worth the bandwidth. Srsly! Now I'll have to put some more up. TH has been on at me to write up the pattern for my Corset Cosy, and there's the neck-warmer thingy, maybe the toddler gloves...
More pics to add later!
* aka fleece-lined track suit trousers. Aka Fat Couture. Aka Oxfam-bin fashion for the woman who's given up the struggle with weight, pregnancy, baby puke, personal hygiene...
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Or not, as the case may be. If you can't eat wheat, does that mean you're dead?
A departure from crafting. But not from creating...??
I can't eat wheat. I'm not coeliac, it's just IBS, but I do often eat gluten-free products for coeliacs. However, I'm violently allergic (projectile vomiting, as opposed to the flu-ey symptoms I get from wheat) to buckwheat, a major coeliac staple, especially in brown, high fibre and multigrain baked goods. For some reason, buckwheat is very occasionally listed by other names, including its name in other languages. I recently had a horrific experience thanks to Doves Farm's Plain White Flour, which lists buckwheat as 'sarrasin' - the French word. Oddly, they call it buckwheat on the Brown Bread Flour. Thanks, Doves Farm! Also, as I learned to my cost - or rather my mum's cost, since she'd bought the stuff in advance of my visiting - these days, not all coeliac foods are wheat-free: those clever clever food scientists have worked out how to remove the gluten from wheat, which can then be used to make gluten-free foods! Great for the coeliacs, not great at all for me. And tbh, the stuff looked as bad as the wheat- and gluten-free food.
Nowadays it's a lot better for me. At least now I can buy gluten-free food in supermarkets, rather than having to trek into the city centre to go to the big Boots, and food labels now list wheat in the short health warning section of the label. Of course they also plaster the shelves with Look! Gluten Free! signs. My poor mother (who ought to know better, she's a Trinity graduate, ffs) has been robbed blind buying special gluten-free apples, chicken, lettuce and sellotape for my visits. Recently though, I've been getting fed up with the stodgy fare available to me, happy as I am that it's there. But sometimes I want soda bread. Or a sandwich bread that doesn't need to be toasted (although I sound a rousing hurrah for Sainsbury's part-baked baguette). And I've never found anything, buckwheat-filled or not, that substitutes for the dense nutty brick that is the Irish Wheaten Soda. Thing is, I'm not a great baker, and I don't enjoy yeast baking. Stovetop cooking generally I'm fine at, and I've mastered roasts now that I have people to cook for, but the results from the oven are disappointing. My cakes, buns and breads don't rise well, although my pastry and biscuits are surprisingly good considering these are supposed to be harder to make. I used to have a very basic bread machine, but results were not great. When the element died, I didn't bother replacing it.
However, I've heard great things about the Panasonic bread machines, and there are now dedicated cookery books for gluten-free bread machine baking. I ummed and ahhed for a while over the price - £70+ - and then LIDL had a Bifinett bread machine on offer for only £25 which appeared to be more or less identical to the Panasonic in function. So I dispatched Tiny Husband to purchase one, and yesterday I gave it a trial run using Dove's Farm White Bread Flour ("sarrasin"-free!) and quick acting yeast, and the basic bread-making programme No. 1 as per the recipe for breadmakers on the Dove's Farm pack, selecting a medium-coloured finish.
The result was fabulous. A squarish well-risen, easily-cut loaf, moist, with a defined but not overly chewy or crispy crust. The centre is not dissimilar in appearance to the sliced pan loaves of my Irish childhood, Knutty Krust and so forth, with medium-sized air bubbles, but with a firmer texture closer to that of British pans (KK slices were sadly limp). It ate well straight from the oven, cooled with butter and with butter and jam, and toasted and buttered this morning. The butter sank in nicely instead of melting into a puddle on top to splatter my work blouse minutes before I have to lasso the baby and run out the door. A little crusty this evening, but I had left it out on the counter, uncovered, since I took it out of the machine.
I'm really impressed. Especially so since the programme I used wasn't even the gluten-free programme! The only thing that's inferior to the Panasonic machines is that there's no facility to add fruit or nuts automatically during baking, though you can set it to beep at the right time. However, this feature has only been present in the last two Panasonic models anyway. I'm looking forward to trying out other recipes - maybe even trying the pasta programme!
Fibre crafts wise, Cillian's Trellis cardi is finally done, blocked and sewn, and is only sans buttons. It'll need a re-block. Boobie #2 of the Silk Slip is almost done as well.
Sunday, February 03, 2008
Truly the brain is dying.
This is one of the first things I ever made, and the first I made for myself, after I started crafting again. I wear it quite often, too. Though I have to say it has not endeared me to shrugs - there's something about the 'frontlessness' of it that makes me look fat, pigeon-chested and middle-aged. Well, more fat, pigeon-chested and middle-aged than I actually am. Not that I'm pigeon-chested, I just have a very straight back, courtesy of mother, music and military, and larger than average boobies.
It is a fairly straight copy of the Noodle Shrug, excepting that I abandoned the yarn-overs as they were driving me bananas, in favour of using one 10mm and one 4mm needle. I've since discovered that I was doing the yarnovers the wrong way round (sensibly I wrapped the yarn over then under the needles, whereas in fact one wraps under then over the needle) not that it matters a hill of beans either for this pattern or for my sanity. The yarn is undyed 2-ply 100% wool, and the 'noodles' are a cream cotton chenille. I did not pay much attention to the instructions for these, I think they've worked out longer on mine.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Well, I didn't get to the wedding - by the time I got clearance from the school, it would have cost over 300 pounds for self and offspring, and would have involved travelling at stupid o'clock. So I took the day off anyway and spent it doing computery stuff. I installed a new hard drive (250g) in the old computer, discovering along the way that I didn't have a particular cable I needed. I also discovered there was no point in transferring the Firewire card to the new computer as it has an unconnected 1394 port in the front panel - it would cost a few pounds to install one. So the FW card goes back in the old computer. The old 20g hard drive is now in a portable powered fanned external case. May use it purely for music.
Crafting: clicky to my first pattern, for hair scrunchies, on the right sidebar! Though this is a bit of a cheat, to get myself linked on Ravelry as a designer - shh! don't tell anyone! I do intend to produce patterns but haven't got round to it yet.
It came through one of those D'oh! moments - when you realise the answer has been staring you in the face. I have very fine, flyaway hair. It needs to be restrained in a lot of situations - housework, work, nappy-changing, etc. The only product that will keep the hair in place is Brylcreem - half a jar usually does the trick, but it's not a look I'm keen on. Any fixings you care to mention - combs, ribbons, elastics, kirby-grips - either fall out, or damage my hair. The only thing that stands a chance of staying in place without snapping the hair are scrunchies. For some reason, though, the few that I can find are usually in hideous colours.
So I was about to throw out an old fuzzy black one, randomly wishing I could get more and thinking the fuzzy would make a nice scarf, when it hit me I could make the blasted things with fancy yarns... D'oh! Hence the pattern - crochet, if you're interested. On the plus side, since I'd got the fancy yarns to make scarves for myself, all the scrunchies have mysteriously turned out to be in lovely colours that tone with my wardrobe!
I have also put together a shortie scarf/ruff affair. I've found a scarf to be too long and gappy for some of my winter coats, and thought that a big-collared jumper would work better - only without the jumper... so I knit this collar-and-yoke thingy in Sirdar Bigga (Etna colourway), which I found unbanded in the Bull-Ring for 69p. It's a 2x2 rib on the collar, 3x3 rib on the yoke by picking up the bar between the paired knits and purls. Finished with a belt buckle from the same source.
Finally - another Bull-Ring bargain: pure bamboo yarn, unbanded, also 69p. They had the same stuff on the shelves. I thought I'd just try a little random swatching to see what it was like to knit with, then I saw Knitting magazine had printed one of Joan McGowan-Michael's patterns from Knitting Lingerie Style - Silk Slip. It's basically just a bra: you sew a silk 'skirt' to it. I'm almost finished the first cup, after a few modifications for my voluptuousness. The straps are supposed to be single crochet, but I think I might use the lace bit to knit thicker straps for comfort. I'm also uncomfortable about sewing (!) so the skirt may wind up being knitted too...