Thursday, October 16, 2008


Your result for What Your Taste in Art Says About You Test...

Concientious, Fulfilled, and Spiritual

11 Renaissance, 3 Islamic, 6 Ukiyo-e, -21 Cubist, -22 Abstract and 3 Impressionist!

The Renaissance was a cultural movement that profoundly affected European intellectual life. Beginning in Italy, and spreading to the rest of Europe by the 16th century, its influence affected literature, philosopy, religion, art, politics, science, and all other aspects of intellectual enquiry. Renaissance artists looked at the human aspect of life in their art. They did not reject religion but tended to look at it in it's purest form to create visions they thought depicted the ideals of religion. Painters of this time had their own style and created works based on morality, religion, and human nature. Many of the paintings depicted what they believed to be the corrupt nature of man.

People that like Renaissance paintings like things that are more challenging. They tend to have a high emotional stability. They also tend to be more concientious then average. They have a basic understanding of human nature and therefore are not easily surprised by anything that people may do. They enjoy life and enjoy living. They are very aware of their own mortality but do not dwell on the end but what they are doing in the present. They enjoy learning, but may tend to be a bit more closed minded to new ideas as they feel that the viewpoint they have has been well researched and considered. These people are more old fashioned and not quite as progressive. They enjoy the finer things in life like comfort, a good meal, and homelife. They tend to be more spiritual or religious by nature. They are open to new aesthetic experiences.

Take What Your Taste in Art Says About You Test at HelloQuizzy

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Momma gotta brand new bag!

I do! I will!

I've been having a go at dyeing wool, using Kool-Aid (right, top) and food colouring and vinegar (right, bottom). I have loads of undyed 4ply which I am probably never going to use up otherwise. The plan is to double-ply it and knit and full (felt) myself a bag. I love Clarice Cliff so I just had to get a copy of Melinda Coss's Art Deco Knits when it came up on eBay. I've had it for a while but the designs are so 80s that I'll never knit anything from it. However, it would be a pity not to make something. So I thought bags. The first one with be a straightforward knit-up of a sleeve, but if/when I do more, I might try to mimic the shapes of Clarice Cliff's pottery as well.

I wound off approximately 2oz (50g), skeined it on the back of a chair and tied it loosely with waste acrylic yarn. I washed it in cool water with a little liquid soap, making up the dye bath while it soaked briefly. The Kool-Aid dye bath consisted of 2 sachets dissolved with cool water, in a microwaveable pot (I used a soon-for-the-bin micro pressure cooker) - except for the purple (top, far right) for which I used 4 sachets. The food-colouring dye bath was approximately half a bottle (20ml) of Supercook food-colouring and a good glug of Sarson's Distilled White Vinegar, in cool water. I didn't bother rinsing the wool clear of the soap - I read somewhere that it actually might help the dyeing process - and lowered it into the dye bath, adding more water to make sure it was completely covered. A good shuggle of the pot to mix it up, then into the microwave for 2-minute bursts - mine has a default setting of 750W - with 2mins rest between, when I poked it a bit with a whisk to keep it under the bath. For most, the dye bath was clear after about 4 or 5 bursts like this. I then left the wool in the depleted dye bath overnight to cool, though it only needs to reach room temperature. I washed the wool gently in cool water to remove any excess dye, and left it to dry on a radiator. I've double plied two already into pullcakes with my Daruma Home Twister (left).

The results of the dyeing were overall pretty fabulous, even if I do tootle me own flute. The colours on the whole are clear and vibrant, and I'm particularly pleased with the good, dense black, which I really didn't think would come out well at all. Instead, it's about the best of the bunch, much better than the pic shows. The food-colouring green is lovely too - a nice strong organic sagey colour. I'm very fond of the Kool-Aid turquoise (second from left), and the red (second from right) is lovely and pure too. The food-colouring blue is a huge disappointment though, all patchy. It was my first attempt at food-colouring dye: on some advice from tinterwebs, I soaked it overnight in the dye bath before zapping it. Damn you, tinterwebs! Once more you bring me wrongness! It was actually worse than it looks now: I cooled it, added more blue and, in a fit of poorly-remembered colour-theory madness, a splash of red and zapped it again. It's better, but it suffers from the madd colorz yet, poor fluff. Saying this, I could probably whip up a bidding frenzy of Wollmeisian proportions on Etsy with the foul stuff. Many's the fool would promise me their firstborn* for it...

Next time, I will make sure to loosen up the strands within the skein, and tie them VERY VERY LOOSELY indeed. So loosely indeed that they were virtually UN-tied. Even though I thought I'd got them loose enough, they still affected the dye penetration on the first batch. It doesn't matter much, since I'll be using them double-plied and then felting.

The Kool-Aid colours are, from left to right:
Orange and Lemonade (one sachet each) - light, bright orange
Berry Blue - turquoise
Lemon-Lime - bright sap green
Black Cherry - reddish-brown marroon
Watermelon Cherry - peachy pink
Tropical Punch - pure red
Grape - mid-purple. Not entirely successful.

Other craftiness: a forgotten pair of socks. Sue me. How many pairs have I done? These are claret, ribbed in the leg and down the top of the foot. And another pair, 5-row stripes in red and navy blue. And yet another: Tiny husband's Regia Bamboo socks are finally finished. And as if that wasn't enough, a dinky pair of ankle socks for Ickle Baby Cthulhu from the left-over Bamboo. The photos are crap. Don't know what's wrong with the camera.

I also made myself a fake Fair Isle tam. Not that I couldn't make a real one, but I saw the patterns and thought "Oooh!" and "An excuse to use some of that variegated Teddy Picasso** in the camouflage colourway that I unaccountably like so much, without people necessarily catching me out being hypocritical". So I went at it like a demented thing, so maddened by the promise of fiendish skultammery goodness that I didn't check stitch counts or anything, finished it in 24hrs - and promptly lost it to the offspring. Seriously. I spend ages working out significant and meaningful Aran symbols for a tam for him, and he won't touch it. I risk my mental health at the eight legs of monstrous yarn worshippers to make him a Spiderman hat that lies despised and cobwebbed in a corner until I give it to his friend Harryweb. Not to mention all the unbelievably cute little hats for which I don't even have photos, because they got chucked out of the pram! But let me even day-dream about a hat for someone else - TH's BS Johnson, my fake Isle tam, his Spiderman hat now that it's Harryweb's... - and he WANTS IT NOW. The bottom two pics are his response to mild suggestions that he give Mommy back her special hat.

"Ye can tak awa ma dignity, but ye'll nivver tak ma tam!!!".***


P.S. I treated myself to a spinning workshop for my birthday!! Now, once I get a proper spindle...

* - What, precisely, is the attraction of the firstborn? Why does everyone want them? Why the elaborate schemes to get their mitts on them? I say this as a firstborn myself. Though perhaps the fact that no cannibalistic witches/wrathful gods/strange little spinning men wanted me makes me bitter. And envious.

** - This is the DK version of the chunky Teddy Colourama for IBC's 'special jacket'.

*** - Sunday Post Translation Services, Inc.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

There Went The Summer.

Er, well. That was a bit pants, really. July was okay - I even had the beginnings of a decent tan, and managed to get out and about with IBC to do fun Mummy and Baby stuff like going to the pool, etc., but then August came pouring in. I've just had two INSET days at school, with the students returning tomorrow, and I'm sitting here, shivering, in a thick jumper, with the heating on and the rain lashing down outside.

We didn't go anywhere. Despite best plans, we didn't really have the ready cash. I did get to Rhyl on a day trip though. It was a freebie, with a play-scheme attended by my chief bridesmaid's 9-year-old son. She had double-booked herself, so she asked me to go to look out for him. I was a little concerned about IBC's behaviour on a 100-mile coach trip, but he took his cue from the older boy and was very well behaved. He slept briefly both ways, which helped, although a surfeit of pop resulted in a fairly spectacular spew on the way home. Above left is a phone video of IBC and his pal on the beach - it was not warm! - and left is me, knitting a sock on the way to Rhyl.

I managed to finish all but the toe by the time we got back to Birmingham! It is the last of the blue and claret socks I'll be making for now. It's a Fibonacci-striped pair: this time I made the leg and the foot bed half an inch longer each, which allowed for up to 8-row stripes, with no fudging like the first Fibonacci pair I did in blue and yellow. One of the most rubbish pics I've taken with this phone. I've just started on a new series, this time in red and navy.

I've done stunningly little knitting over the holidays. I got an automatic spool-knitter, which I have plans for, of which more later. I did make some i-cord with it, about 1.5m, which was appropriated by IBC and has been pressed into service as a tail when he's playing cats, a tow-rope when he's playing truck rescue, Cranky the Crane's grappler thingy, a belt, hair, a necklace... Following IBC's sudden interest in Spiderman - causing him to purloin various beanies and pull them down over his head as Spidey masks - then pranging into walls - I made him a Spiderman hat in DK using the We Call Him Spidey pattern, a variant on Hello Yarn's Generic Norwegian Hat. At least he can SEE through this hat. Now: I HATE spiders. How much do I love this little boy? 8 spiders' worth, that's how much. And while I was knitting this, every massive spider in the world was attracted to me. I killed two 3-inchers. Seriously. It was like they were coming to worship. GY-Y-Y-YAAAAHHH!

So what have I done with my summer? Wellll... This:

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Here Comes The Summer -

Woo-ooo, Here Comes The Summer!

Hurrah for The Undertones! Thirty-odd years on, I still find myself singing this one at some point during the sultry hell that is the British Summer - usually while out frying eggs on the pavement.

School closed on Tuesday, after 3 days of end-of-years jollies for the kids, including school trips, the disco, and Sports Day, which was a Gladiators-style challenge between staff and students. I did not join in, partly because I wasn't asked, and partly because I had serious misgivings about the whole thing. Far too many opportunities for harm, given the nature of the little hoodlums. I did have several offers, mainly from the Yr 10 boys, to take me down. Ummm, boys - you do realise I'm Irish? 8 years military? and the body-building/power-lifting thing I did that 15 years on still has me looking like a drag queen in a frock? Frankly I don't trust myself to stand there and take it like a good teacher if one of them decided to assault me for real. So I don't put myself in that situation.

I have plans for the summer - swapping bedrooms with the Offspring, for a start. They are about the same size - his current room is very slightly larger. I did some calculations and figured out our furniture would fit better in his and vice versa, and since ours is further from the living room there'd be less chance of him being disturbed by conversation, tv, etc. I have to paint out the feature wall in our room and put a mural on instead (Thomas the Tank Engine?), then totally repaint his room for us. I've arranged to borrow an overhead projector from school for the mural - I just need to sort out printing a suitable image on acetate. Quite looking forward to it, though I've no idea how to keep IBC out of the way while I do it!

I wanted to say a few words on the subject of converting flat knitting patterns to knitting in the round. But I think I shall write a knol on the topic. A list of my knols are on the sidebar, just below my pattern(s) - please note, not all are complete!

So, dear reader, to knitting: the Hoodie for IBC is completed. He calls it his 'special coat', bless. And two more pairs of socks, one in the Aston Villa colour scheme, the other a simple claret rib with a stocking stitch heel, toe and footbed. The final pair in AVFC colours - a ribbed Fibonacci sequence pattern - are on the needles as we speak. After that, we get onto other colours, woo-hoo!

I have also completed the Presto Chango for my colleague. I made the 6m size because she told me her medicos said the baby would be about 10lb. I did speak briefly of my own experience of expecting a 14lb+ monster - multiple scans, hysterical midwives (my favourite knitting tape measure is the one dropped by the midwife as she ran out of the room shouting for an ambulance*), planned inducing, etc., only to pop a medium-sized 8lb-er, but she was not having any of it, she was having a big un. I held my peace as it was announced in briefing that she had had a 6lb 3oz boy... At least the Presto Chango will fit him - eventually!

I've since begun a second Presto Chango for my niece. It'll be different. I'm doing it more or less in the round, with lace sleeves, and the inserts will obviously be different too. No pics yet.

That's about it for now


* - Max bump size at full term: 40-42cm. My bump size with 3 weeks to go: 48cm. Cue a fortnight of to-ing and fro-ing to the hospital, observation stays, more flippin' scans. I went a little crazy, as detailed in my LJ... starting here...

Friday, June 20, 2008

I made a new knitter...

And here he is:
DSC00420 DSC00421 DSC00422

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...

DSC00424DSC00441As to my knitting, I have finished yet another couple of pairs of socks for my Blondy Bear. I got a variety of colours of 4-ply Teddy Enriched 25% wool in the Bullring and hope to make as many combinations as possible.

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.

DSC00413I 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.

DSC00442Finally, 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

Foot Loose! Fibonacci

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.)


Thursday, May 15, 2008


Just for the cuteness.

Wondering why he'd gone quiet, I found Ickle Baby Cthulhu running around the garden in his daddy's hat.

Of course it then took about 10 minutes to get him to stand still for the camera...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

BS Johnson, socks, and a hoodie

What a boring title.
This afternoon was British Summer Time, so I forced my significant Creature of the Night out of his tenebrous cellar, blinking and meeping, into the lacklustre light to model his Bloody Stupid Johnson hat. But it was worth it: despite his wailing and chittering, and his frequent swinges into the shadows to check for tell-tale signs of ash forming on his pallid skin from the influence of the evil Day Star, the cables showed up well.
As for him - anyone would think I'd asked him to bathe, for sheeshs' sake. Honestly.

Also forthcoming, more pics of the Ba's socks. Not a lot to say here - they're based on Lion Brand's Child's Solid Socks pattern (you might have to register to look, though it is a freebie). Not having Woolease within several thousand miles, I've been using what I have to hand - DK in the case of the beige ones in the previous post (Robin DK) and the dark brown (Patons Fab) and red (mystery) pairs here, and 2-ply pure wool, double-stranded, for the striped pair. Even in the DK pairs, there have had to be slight alterations as none of the yarns are the same gauge - brown and beige were 24st per 4in, close enough that I could use the pattern sizes given, but the red yarn was 26st/4in, so I had to go up to 44st cast-on.

At this point I unvented a 50-50% rule for turning the heel - half the stitches are used to work the heel, short-rowed down to a quarter overall. It may not be pretty, or anthropometrically accurate, but it works. The blue and yellow striped pair had a gauge of 32st/4in, even with the yarn doubled, and follow this rule. I have a Fibonacci striped pair on the needles right now, blue and yellow in alternating 1,2,3,5, and 8-row paired stripes, with the final 8-row split across the heel in the other colour, then 5,3,2, and 1-row paired stripes down to the toe - though I've had to do 4 rows of alternating-stitch colour changes to make the footbed long enough.

That turned out to be more than I thought. I'm planning to make a few more pairs.

I also got round to making His Wee Nibs' Sirdar Bigga weskit. I've called it the Bookem Dano, as it is the Hawaii colourway (groan!). It took almost 2 balls. I hadn't intended to put buttons on it, but I think I might try a duffle set, with a loop instead of buttonholes. I've unplied the remaining yarn and am hoping it will be enough for the Berroco Kap with a bit of fudging. It's like the hat worn by Grandad Tumble, from the Mr Tumble series on cBeebies, which HWN loves, and I'm hoping he'll like a Grandad Tumble hat...

One last thing: my niece Ava's Little Pink Riding Hoodie, from Drops Design, using that weird pink mystery yarn I got in the Bull-ring. Quite a quick knit really, slowed down by my crappity attitude towards the sewing (~shudder~). The first pic shows it right side out, the second inside out, and the third is a close-up of the hairiest part of the sewing (~shudder~) around the armhole. Just to show that, actually, I am not such a crapilicious seamstress* as I fear myself to be. Go on, find a stitch. Yeah, you. See any? Do ya? DO YA? No.

That is not half bad for an awkward seam in a bulky, 6wpi yarn. I kind of mattress-stitched it from the right side, using a nylon-y fibre with cellophane strips which I unplied from the yarn itself. Y'see, I really can sew. I know all the moves. I know lingerie techniques lost before La Revolution. My homies called me Madame St Cyr down le 'Ood. I used to have a little notebook with beautifully stitched and pinked samples of my needlework. Exquisite, it was. Of course, for every charming little gingham sampliaire in it, there were twenty blood- and tear-stain'd rejects, pin-rusted and spraying pulled threads, lying in a bin somewhere...

Now I just have to screw my courage to the sticking place and line the blasted thing.


* - Having started the post with the Terry Pratchett-inspired hat, I feel I should probably point out that when I say 'seamstress', I do mean the female personages wot sew, not the ladies of negotiable affection...

ETA: I have Kool-Aid! w00t!