Monday, April 21, 2008

I should probably post more than once a month...

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...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Lost my Mo...

Don't even ax where my Jo's done gone...

The WIPs are progressing.

That is all.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Baa-Baa-BaBa-Baba-Baa-Bamboo, ~or ~ Joining the Sock Flock

I is brekin mi duk.

I have #1 of a pair of socks for Tiny Husband on the dpns. They are from a Regia Bamboo kit I purchased from PurpleLinda, 10% off atm. The maddcolorz are befuddling my eyes a bit, but I have about 4cm done so far. The yarn feels nice, but the dpns included, man oh man, very loooong, very sticky.

The 100% bamboo Silk Slip now has 2 boobies, and I've begun the rib-band. It has two hundred and stupid stitches, so I am going to take my time!

I also have, on bamboo circs and in 100% mohair, a sweater loosely based on Irina Poludnenko's Ruffled Collar Pullover, published in February's Knitting magazine as Moonlight Cashmere Top. The gauge was fine, but I didn't care to trust the sweater to fit itself so I started at the bottom with 7mm circs for about 10cm, and switched to 6mm for 3 rows and finally to 5mm. I shall reverse the process when I need to expand for the bust. I have no idea whether I will ever wear this. The pattern is HAWT, and the yarn is HAWT red, a colour that looks particularly HAWT on me. However - it's mohair. The result might merely be hot, as in sweaty. And it's mohair. As in, adds a stone to my already overloaded arse.

Oh yes: and the bamboo circs, they do not like the mohair.

Really must try to get back to my WIPs, too. I have crocheted another leg for my amigurumi unicorn - just another 2 legs and ears, a horn, mane and tail to go.

This really doesn't belong here, but I'm venting anyway. I was perusing my local Freecycle (go join) posts today and saw yet another appeal for Playboy-related tat to decorate a girl's bedroom - pictures, lamps, duvet covers, etc. This really disturbs me. Since when has it been socially acceptable to allow your daughter to indulge a morbid interest in the seedy world of pornography, much less involve others in your lamentable parenting? If you're teaching your daughter that spreading her legs for the titillation of the smut-buying public (including her dad, uncles, brothers) is okay, then do it on your own - and take responsibility for the fallout from providing your child with her own Barbie Brothel.

Much as I want another child - no daughters, thanks. I cannot raise a girl in a society this sick.


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Staff of Life

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

Senior Moment

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

A boo, frou-frou, and a big Bamboo

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...



Sunday, January 20, 2008

I'm thinking of knitting a dress

Let me backtrack...

I have a wedding to go to next week back in Ireland - assuming I get there: the school has had my absence request since forever, but won't give me a decision. Or rather, the deputy head, Mr Piggy McPigpig who doesn't want me knitting on the school grounds, won't give me a decision. At this stage, I might not be able to afford the flights (Rant over). This weekend is the only time when I can look for something to wear both for myself and Ickle Baby Cthulhu - thanks to recent family events, everyone has seen all my current dressy-uppies, and IBC's growth demands new frillies for him.

Being of a somewhat Mediterranean physique, I was approaching the shopping trip with trepidation. Britain is not a good place to locate suitable clothes if you're a busty long-waisted hour-glass type of gal, let me tell you. I'm three different sizes here - about 18/20 bust, 8-10 waist and 12/14 hips. In addition, to get tops that don't look cropped, I need to go for Extra-Tall ranges, but I have to go to the Petites section to get skirts and trousers with a waistband in the region of my real waist instead of my nipples.

Needless to say, I have very few dresses.

And trying on clothes is so much fun. I have had to be extricated from clothes more than once by the shop staff. That smock thing I tried, with the zipped placket. I zipped it up - and halfway up it stuck. Crushingly tight. Pinky and Perky jammed flat, hardly able to breathe. Interestingly, I could have made another top out of the excess material round the waist - if I had any talent with a needle - even though I was about five months pregnant at the time. I struggled with the damned zip til I was sweating and panicky and scared I was going to rip it, before crawling out of the cubicle to ask for help from a snotty stick-insect (who nonetheless had a very fat waist for her size, snerk), giddy with embarrassment. And the trousers. Though that really wasn't my fault - the zipper came off the zip when I was doing them up. But even so... Big old grey knickers of course.

I dropped in to the Bull Ring yarnshop as normal before commencing on the clothes shopping. Nothing too interesting - well, some Aran-weight cotton, but I restrained myself. However, I noticed a nice colour in the corner of my eye, a softish purple, similar to a wildflower that's frankly a bit of nuisance back home - grows everywhere and hard to eradicate, but pretty. Mum would know the name. Some kind of willow-herb. The yarn is a 20% wool yarn that I've got before - not great quality but cheap. I immediately started thinking "dress". I'd seen a knitted dress last week in Rackham's sale which had taken my fancy, but I hadn't bought it because it was a) Empire line - not so flattering if you're top-heavy, b) knee-length - never a good look on me, though higher or lower hemlines are fine, and c) Khaki green. Nothing wrong with khaki green - I spent 8 years wearing it professionally, it matches my eyes, and lends me a certain exotic mystique that most women get from black. In fact khaki IS my black, my standby. Black is more like my everyday. When I don't necessarily want people realising I'm gothick, I pull out the khaki. I even had a DPM ballgown, once upon a time. Yes, that's right - my Little Black Dress was GREEN. Wonder what happened to it?

But I digress. I just didn't want a green dress because I wanted something that I could wear to work later, and I have lots of green that I wear to work. Time to throw something else into the mix. So purple yarn. Lots of it, too: at least five 400g balls that I could see, surely enough for a dress. But again, I restrained myself. Seriously, 6 days isn't enough time to knit a dress, especially when I'd have to come up with a pattern. I've seen a few on Ravelry, but I'm thinking more Stephanie Japel Fitted Knits extended down into about mid-calf. Though I suspect the precise thing I want is lurking in one of my vintage knitting books - I'm almost certain there's a 1940's fitted New Look style dress there somewhere.

This set me on my way. Debenham in the Bull Ring had a 70% off sale on, and lo I found TWO knitted dresses, one cerise and short-sleeved, and one mock pinafore in black with a white 'under' blouse. The cerise looked hideous on - my biceps are too butch for short sleeves (thank you, IBC) and the colour was too bluey. So that left the pinafore. A nyim over knee-length. I also found a John Rocha boiled merino jacket in a nice muted cranberry which will look nice over it - something like this, but with 3 huge buttons and no stitch detail at all. Almost got a JR lace wrap too, but restrained myself. I am getting SOOO good at this! The fact that it was described as crocheted when it was clearly knitted helped. As was a JR scarf - well it was obviously crocheted but said knitted on one label, and crocheted on the price tag. Really John Rocha! You work in IRELAND for pity's sake! You should KNOW this stuff. Grannies on the bus should have beaten it into you by now.

Total cost 35 pounds. T'was only on getting it home that I realised it was a maternity dress... Oh well. That would be funny if we hadn't been ttc for the last 18 months.

Still, it will look hawt with my Pirate Argyle stockings, if I ever get round to casting on. Especially since I scored a pair of Demonia Bat coffin heels (PU version) for only 25 pounds to go with it!!!!


No knitting or crochet of consequence occured recently. I have put in a little work on Cillian's Trellis cardi and Libby's unicorn, have almost finished a crocheted knitting needle holder (OH! the irony), and crocheted a couple of hair scrunchies from fancy fur and eyelash yarns. In khaki.

Troublingly, I actually paid cash money recently for Sirdar Bigga MULTI... Hawaii AND Etna... I have to go and lie down every time I think about this...