Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Fame! Fortune! And the strange phenomenon of the Irish Sunday

Hello, dear readers! Many apologies for my neglect and absence over the last while. Work, work has been crazy, and the secrets of Christmas knitting cannot be posted to the internet. But in lieu of my own content, I bring you Seventh Day Evangelists, the feature featuring my glamorous self, knitting away in a vapid fashion. Enjoy...




The feature as a whole is most peculiar: it is ostensibly on "people who do freaky things of a Sunday". Besides my good knitting self, there is someone who plays sports, someone who accompanies her daughter to dancing competitions, and yes, a plane spotter. Imagine! The eccentricity! Playing sport of a Sunday! Have you ever heard the like?

I'm not quite sure how I made knitting sound quite so dull, but oh well. Hopefully the feature will amuse some of you. And now, back to the Christmas knitting: I'm up against the wire here, people.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Meilenweit: in der Tat?

A burning question: Is Lana Grossa Meilenweit really miles long? Every pair of socks I've knitted, bar the Jaywalkers, has left lots of yarn left over, and I was seized by a curiosity to find out precisely how far the yarn would last, if knitted until the very very end of the ball...

Quite long, is the answer.


FO: Edinburgh Winter socks

Pattern: NONE. I made them up, using Knitty's handy generic toe-up hints. I used wrapped short-rows, not yarn-over ones, and I think I prefer them: they're tidier, no holes left over, and if you get the right technique, easier, I think.


Two heels, one made with the wraps picked up and knit along with the stitch they were wrapped around, one made by slipping the wrapped stitch and picking up the wrap on the next round. The latter method is nicer, but I made that heel far too narrow. Twelve wrapped stitches are easily enough. Oh well!

The pattern is a 3x1 moss stitch rib, which is that bit less stretchy than ordinary rib: I like it.

Yarn: 100g Lana Grossa Meilenweit Scala, in colourway 6533, 25% polyamide 75% wool. Gorgeous simple stripey pattern makes for instant gratification. I shall stop scorning self-striping yarn forthwith. Sometimes, maximum fun for minimum effort is what's called for.

Needles: 2.5 mm Addi metal double-pointed needles

Time sucked: A week and a half, I guess. It's been busy.

Verdict:

What is the point of ankle socks in an Irish winter, eh? These are almost knee-length socks, hooray! That said, my calves are indeed of an elegant and slim nature, but even so, the socks are looking stretched to their last gasp at the cuff. Next time, I should probably increase on the way up, rather than keeping them at the same length. Also, I knitted the stripes going in different directions on each sock, and started at a different place in the stripe pattern to boot, which was probably anarchic overkill. I'm still all about the unmatchy socks, but they have to unmatch in a recognisable ways: either reverse the stripe, or have the toes unmatchy, but not both, I think.

And that, alas, is the end of the selfish knitting. Even though I have another ball of the £3 self-striping Lana Grossa sock yarn from Handknits just waiting for my attention:


No. Advent Sunday is tomorrow, and it's Christmas knitting from here on in. Here's the last of the Christmassy sneak peaks. This one is entitled, "Do not store your yarn in plastic bags next to the radiators."




A lesson for us all.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

the trouble with the world

Oh yes and! My Falling Leaves socks were the only hand-knitted pair that were clean for me to bring to Edinburgh, thus leaving me in the peculiar position of at once bragging and apologising for them. Look at my LACE SOCKS! I knitted them myself, you know! Aren't I clever? But, um, the colour's crap, and I hate them. The yarn was a mistake, a mistake, a mistake.

On my return home, I realised that this was all stupid. What is the point of hand-knitting items that make you feel sad when you look at them? I have worn the socks several times since their completion, so I couldn't exactly give them as a present to someone else. No, what was wrong with the socks, I realised, was what is wrong with a lot of the world in general:


Just Not Pink Enough.

Hooray for Dylon. And yes, it's a bit silly spending €3 on dye for a pair of socks, but they make me happy instead of sad to look at, now. Also, you can see the lace pattern just a smidgen better, now they are darker. And furthermore, they now look rocking with my favourite pair of shoes this season, my new anthracite-grey Birkenstock felt clogs:



Now, we all know what The Manolo thinks of Birkenstock clogs. They are decidedly not superfabulous. But neither is winter, and neither is knitting, and yet together the three make a wonderfully comforting combination. Sorry, Maestro. And after all, if they do "look like it was put together by the blind medieval monks, for wear by the peasants of the mud", the Maestro also says, "if you insist on wearing these ugly shoes, be certain to wear the wooly socks of grey for the full effect." Why yes! I just might!

Superfabulous can wait till Christmas. In the meantime, I will sport the Certain Cachet of the bohemian.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

yarns from Edinburgh

Hello, lovely people! I am sorry I have not blogged: I have been Away in pretty foreign cities. To be precise, in the lovely town of Edinburgh:



Edinburgh is spectacularly pretty. It beats Dublin and Berlin by a mile.

I had a fabulously relaxing time, and spent most of my time eating, reading and meeting friends in yarn shops. Edinburgh has some great yarn shops, and although I'm on a bit of a yarn diet at the moment, I managed to buy something small and pretty in each of the ones I visited, thus helping me feel that I supported international knitting, or something. I didn't bring any knitting with me, though: I decided a wee break would make me feel even happier about returning to my WIPS, and I was right. So I have little progress to report, but have two travellers' tales:

Arches



On a misty Saturday afternoon, I was walking across the Meadows from McAree Brothers' yarn shop to Handknits yarn shop, right on the other side of Edinburgh, and this arch, made of bended trees, caught my eye. Was it intentional? Was it a natural phenomenon?



It's a Victorian knitting monument! Well, I find that exciting. You don't have to.

Little Girls' Room


This anecdote happened at a tiny, musty little yarn shop that will remain anonymous.A fit seized me to knit some socks on the last day I was there. I had no equipment with me, but had just bought some comforting self-striping yarn, and decided to splurge on a duplicate pair of sock needles.

(You must imagine the below dialogue occurring between an Irish and a Scottish accent, by the way, if you find that entertaining. I do, which is doubtless rude and wrong of me.)

ME (enters yarn shop, panting and dripping from attack of robust Edinburgh winter): Hello!

DISEMBODIED VOICE FROM THE BACK ROOM: Wait a minute! I'm just in the little girls' room.

A moment later, an OLD LADY arrives.

OLD LADY: How can I help you, dear?

ME: Hi! I'm looking for 2mm double-pointed needles. Do you have any?

OLD LADY: Two millimetres? That's very fine. I'll have a look... three millimetres? That's better, isn't it? Three and a half? What kind of yarn are you using?

ME: Sock yarn. I need sock needles.

OLD LADY (searching through drawers): Hmm... that's very fine... no, no I don't have any. You see, most of the people who have been knitting all their life have their own sock needles, if you see what I mean?

ME: Erm... yes.

Except that I don't. It's as peculiar as going into a bookshop and getting told, "Pride and Prejudice? Oh no, we don't stock that. Most people who read a lot have that already." So no Scottish needles for me that day, and the socks had to wait until I came home.

Self-striping yarn, round and round and round in the most soothing of fashions. I know I have scads of other projects to work on, but the mindnumbing sense of achievement that a simple pair of socks brings is just what I need right now.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

when does recycling become undignified scavenging?

I have no dignity, you know. None at all. For real.

A while ago, the lovely Felinity posted to say that, to her very great regret, she was chucking out her very first jumper ever, the Big Sack Sweater from Stitch 'n' Bitch 1. O, poor Felinity! I know exactly, but exactly how she feels. My first two jumpers were out of Stitch 'n' Bitch 1, too. My very first was the hourglass jumper, and I was so very proud of myself. Look at my proud face!


And look at that floppy, shapeless jumper! What on earth was I thinking, knitting it out of a far too fine mohair that was neither structured nor warm? And why on earth did I think that bell sleeves and a cowl would be at all attractive on me? Then came Under the Hoodie, and had I learned? No. Clearly, a 40% acrylic mohair yarn would be perfect for this project.



Just as a too-short jumper body and strangely twisted front pocket and completely square shaping would be perfect on me. Not to mention the dropped sleeves. Please, don't mention them.

Alas. I knitted, I learned, I had moments of pride... and when I moved houses, they too went into the bin. Can one ever keep one's first jumper? Is it always going to be a learning disaster? Perhaps not. So I commiserated with Felinity... but I also reminded her that she had used lots of lovely expensive yarn for the project, and maybe she could reuse it. Ach no, she said, but maybe I would like it? Friends, I hesitated for a little while. I really did. It seemed so cheap to accept her first baby and rip it apart for my own benefit.

But we all know I'm cheap, right?



So here the jumper is, and it's so well put together that I feel ashamed to start ripping it. At the same time, I can see why Felinity chucked it: a giant square sacky unshaped pattern isn't going to suit anyone. So thank you, lovely Felinity, and I will try and put the Rowan Chunky Tweed to a more noble use, even if I cannot knit it any more neatly than you did.

***

Ever wondered how far a ball of Kidsilk Haze would go, if you knitted it more or less in plain stocking stitch?


This far, is the answer. This is 25 grammes of yarn. This is going to be the lightest, fluffiest jumper ever. Here's where the Harlot's Progress is at at the moment...


boring back-and-forth neck shaping, accursed cutting of yarn for stripes. Bah. How anyone could bear to knit the whole thing flat, I don't know. But I'm still dying to wear the jumper.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Infamy! Bankruptcy! Semi-nudity!

You had no idea that the life of a nerdy knit-blogger was so full of sensation, did you? Who needs Kerry Katona, I say, when you can read ALL ABOUT IT here. Have a nice calming cup of tea handy...

Infamy!


I was sitting down quietly with my jorum of gin the other night, when an email pinged into my inbox. A friend of a friend wrote to say that she was a journalist for a certain national paper, and would I mind being interviewed for a feature she was writing? Hmm, thought I, do I want to be infamous nation-wide for something as trivial as knitting? On the other hand, do I want my magnificent knitting skills, not to mention my astonishing beauty, to languish in obscurity for the rest of my born days, when here is an opportunity for them to receive the fame they so richly deserve? Yerra, sure. I had gin taken. I said yes. Would I mind being photographed, came the reply? Ah sure, in for a penny, in for a pound, sez I.

The next night, I was out with the friend when, as is the way of Dublin, we ran into the journalist herself. What exactly is this feature? I asked. Is it on knitting? Not exactly, she said, it's on... unusual things that people do at the weekend. We have a guy who watches trains and takes their numbers lined up too! It'll be great!

Wow. Knitting, trainspotting and other assorted tragic hobbies, separated at birth and now re-united, I see. You just WAIT, national newspaper! I will wear my sexiest knits and inform you of the newfound funkiness of knitting, and I will show you all!

Bankruptcy!


Well, it was the Knitting and Stitching show, right? So what did I expect? A large jolly hall filled with all manner of money-sucking crafts, is what, and of course I succumbed. How could I not? I found the 3.25 circs I need for the Harlot's Progress, and a knitting book with patterns for Colinette that shoudl suit my handspun... and then my downfall really started. First up, gorgeous monocolour Fortissima Socka. All the softness! None of the porridge! Bright glitzy pink!



And then, I found the Black Sheep, and well, all was lost. Past experience told me that in the heap of discounted ten-packs, there were true gems hidden among the piles and piles of Sirdar. I dived in. My lovely lady friend dived with me. We burrowed, casting Snowflake and Silky Look aside. She found some cotton, whooped, began swimming for the shore. I dived further. Near the sea bed, a treasure glinted: Rowan Biggy Print, extra-discounted, true luxe yarn... but, even in my light-headed state with my oxygen running low, I realised that it's not something I'm realistically likely to knit into a jumper I'd ever wear. And then, as I crawled half-drowning on the bottom, "Glitz!" my lady friend cried.



Yep. Gorgeous, fabulous RYC cashsoft, in a blissful pink. (Seeing a theme, friends?) And yes, it was on sale at roughly 2/3 of the retail price, which is actually still more than I would usually spend on a jumper's worth of yarn, but... but. But. The softness! And that Verena cardigan will be mine! (Unless you have any further suggestions?)

Semi-nudity


I also went to the This is Knit in search of Rowan lurex shimmer to stripe my Harlot's Progress top with, only to be told that it has been discontinued, apparently, and all they had left was a rusty colourway which made us all wince when it was held against my kidsilk spray. I wandered off in search of stashed shimmer elsewhere, and not only did I not find it, but I also didn't make it back to This is Knit before the show ended, which makes me feel bad. The This is Knit women are so insanely friendly and so full of enthusiasm for reviving Irish knitting, I feel I should support them more. Perhaps I can plug them as I pout in the paper beside the trainspotter? And I will go back for the Lorna's Laces yet. Mmm, all-American variegated socks.

(When you start drooling about socks, perhaps you really have crossed over to the trainspotting side, though. A lowering thought.)



My trusty stash, though, delivered the goods, and without me needing to spend an extre eleven euro too: the seventies French silver mohair that I knit my first jumper out of. There's still a good jumper's worth of it around, too. Even though silver wouldn't be my first choice for the stripe (I was thinking claret or gold), it's still a dreamily sheer fabric, no? Shockingly see-through, but friends, it's so sexy I just don't care.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Happiness is...

1. Casting on for something utterly self-indulgent for yourself.



No, the Christmas presents aren't exactly finished yet. But they're both about halfway there, and really, it's November. I'm doing superwell. So last night, I turned on a programme about Hogarth, all fancy frocks and panniers, poured myself a jorum of gin, and set about making myself a fancy silken chemise. Perhaps this particular project should be called The Harlot's Progress. Or perhaps not.

I'm feeling doubly louche and daring because I am modifying a pattern by St. Kim Hargreaves - the pattern instructions are for a plain stocking stitch vest knit flat, but I know full well that if I knit it forward and back for aaaages, and then have to seam it to boot, I will not feel remotely glitzy or self-indulgent. So it's being knit in the round, and We Shall See how I get on. I've had this yarn in stash for a whole year, and I'm unreasonably excited about the prospect of an actual garment being finished out of it.



The other decision is Embellishments. I'm knitting this in kidsilk spray, not haze (pay attention!), and it variegates between hot pink and rich burgundy, utterly lovely. Would adding glittering stripes, as in the pattern, over-egg the pudding? Or would they just add to the chemise's seductive power?

The decision (to purchases lurex shimmer, or not to purchase) may be upon me, because...

2. Happiness is also The Knitting And Stitching Show, which I've been looking forward to for weeks, and which is finally THIS AFTERNOON. Yarns! Books! Crazy textile art that leaves me slightly baffled! It's going to be great.

I haven't set a budget. This may be foolish. But I will most certainly keep you posted, possibly even when I come home this evening on a PURCHASING HIGH.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

the leaves aren't falling

Hooray! An FO, finally!

FO: Falling Leaves socks





Pattern: Falling Leaves socks, from Knitty
Yarn: Porridge-coloured Fortissima Socka yarn in a discontinued colourway, 75% wool 25% polyamide
Needles: Random 2mm DPNs, to my chagrin. This is the last pair of socks I knit on bloody 2mms, I swear. 2.5 mm power from here on in!
Time sucked: I suppose it's only a week and a half, on and off, but for some reason it feels like forever.

Verdict


Rarely have I ever felt less enthused by a project, and I'm somehow surprised that I even finished it. I'm not really sure why, but I think it's the yarn. The pattern is perfectly pretty, and look! I learned how to do toe-up socks. (I know that toe-up socks are the very apogee of True Sock Knitting, and now I can say, yes but perhaps I spurn them anyway. I just prefer the look of a decreased Kitchener toe, it's neater and more professional-looking.) So yes, a lovely pattern, I'm still slightly confused by the idea of lace (airy, lets in the breeze) wool (warm, insulates) socks, but they seem to be common currency on the internet, so I should probably shut up.

No, it was the yarn. I was young, I was weak, I was living it up in Berlin, but I am never ever again buying a yarn that inspires me so little. You can't see the pattern for the weird mottling, but it's not as though the weird mottling is particularly pretty in plain stocking stitch either:



Porridgey. Pointless. That said, I will wear them, because it's Hallowe'en and the leaves are finally, finally falling from the trees. But from here on in, it's hand-dyed or plain sock yarn all the way from me. Yarn snobbery, you will overcome us all in time.

(On a side note: the heel demanded a purl three together through the back loop. I struggled through one heel; I lost loops, shoved wildly through impossibly tight yarn, approximated stitches, resorted to crochet hooks, cried. Then on the second heel, I became a heretic and just purled three together. Yes, I know, I am a bad internet knitter. The heel looks a lot less fally-aparty, at least.)

Onwards and upwards! Yesterday I was round at a dear friend's for a knitting and gossiping date, whereI started Christmas Present Number Two, because it is a stocking stitch project and I can't concentrate on fancy stitchwork while screaming and shrieking over feminist theory. Here's a peekeen:



... and now sssh! till Christmas. I'm scooting through it, though. Good times.

I also finalised my plans for that kidsilk spray:



and the pattern's in the very first pattern book I ever bought, back in 2003, in the Wool Shop in Bray. Aeons ago, I know. Back then, I knew not of the way of internet knitting, and I bought patterns full price. Crazy talk, isn't it? Anyway. A Season's Tale is an elegant book full of classic projects for classy chicks, which isn't quite the way I would define myself. But I find myself drawn back to this top:



minus the lurex, because I think there's enough interest in the variegated yarn. But perhaps a little beading around the neck? Or even all the way through the garment? We're talking a fabulous, sexy, luxe top that I can wear to Christmas parties to hide the fact that I've ever been known to be an utterly nerdy internet knitter...

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

unfinished musings

Thanks so much to all of you who came by to say such nice things about my ridiculous biker jacket! And particular thanks to those who agreed with how ANNOYING Debbie Bliss's schematic-free ways are. My current theory is that Ms. Bliss made her fortune designing baby clothes, which are basically square and hence need little finishing finesse. Perhaps some day she will realise that women and men are not actually giant babies, and that their clothes can't quite be put together like dinky infant sleepsuits. Some day.

OK! Enough snark, more constructive talk. First of all, I have finished one of the falling leaves socks, look:


Hmmm. No, honest, that IS a lace pattern. Look! Do you believe me now?



See? Yarnovers? Anyone? Ach, this is a funny yarn. I was hoping that when it knitted up the splotches of black and yellow and purple would resolve themselves into some kind of pattern or stripe or something, but no. It's just splotchy, or perhaps porridgey. Which is probably why it was on sale. It doesn't show the falling leaves pattern very well, but it doesn't look particularly great on the stocking stitch sole, either. O well. This is not my favourite project of all time, but I am loving my handmade socks so much that I will certainly wear them into the ground in any case.

And next up? Next up is going to be the dread Christmas Knitting. One good thing about my crazy eBay yarning habit is that at least I have a large and varied stash from which I can pick nifty gift projects. And I am trying to be very very sensible, and to follow two simple rules, viz:

1) only plan to knit four presents, because otherwise I'll be swamped

2) make one present between every project for myself.

So once these socks are finished, Present No. One goes on the needles. Alas, I'm not going to be blogging the presents till after Christmas, because although I'm reasonably sure that my family have no notion that I would have so nerdy a thing as a knitting blog, you never know, do you? But I might show you the yarn for the projects, yes. Such as this one. On eBay it looked a bright pink, you know, jolly and a bit extroverted; but once it arrived on my doorstep, I realised that it belonged to an entirely different species, perhaps a different planet of pink. As in, look. This is just how pink it is:



Yes. Pretty damned pink, no? But I think that the recipient will like it, and it is fun to knit with. All the same, who on earth thought of dying plain four-ply yarn such a colour?

And after that comes the teal-coloured tweed. Alas, I started swatching for the Verena cardigan, and although I got gauge, once I lashed into the back of it I realised that there was no way that the yarn would last out for the whole cardigan. It's only 550 grammes, and in terms of chunky pure wool, that's not enough for a big long jacket, alas. So *deep breath* I think I may design my own jumper. Eeek. My hippy heatwave cami doesn't look like it'll be the greatest of successes, so I am not convinced by my designing (read: Hard Sums) skills. But if I do a v. simple top-down raglan, based on the √úbernatural, but with a couple of cables? And just keep knitting till all the yarn is used up? I can't go THAT badly wrong, can I? Can I?



Poor teal yarn. What fate awaits you?

Friday, October 20, 2006

FO Friday

Look! LOOK! Finally, I have an FO to get off my damned sidebar. If only I were like the inimitable Aileen and could promise you an FO a week (except that, to my tender ears, that sounds much more as though I were promising you a fuck-off every week instead of a decorous and ladylike knitted garment. Who makes up these abbreviations, anyway?)

But after a year on the needles, I present, FINALLY:

FO: Debbie Bliss tweed biker jacket



Pattern: Debbie Bliss biker jacket, from the tweed collection (capital letters not included: this is a high-end English product, and capital letters appear to have been banned for all aspirational brands across the water.)

Yarn: Vintage Sunbeam Lux Tweed Canterbury alpaca/tweed aran mix, 500g; cuffs, collar and waistband knitted in Tivoli luxury aran tweed, 50% wool, 21% acrylic, 20% alpaca, 9% viscose, 100g. SO soft and snuggly, all of it. Here's the vintage yarn pre-knitting: the colour of it is truer here than in the first photo.

Needles: 5 mm circular for the body, 5 1/2 for the bands

Pattern modifications: Apart from not using the recommended yarn? But since when do I do that? I grafted the shoulder seams instead of sewing them up. And I am never sewing shoulder seams again, what's more.

Time sucked: Mensch, who can tell? I'm a year from cast-on to sewing on the last popper, but how long in total? I think knitting the pieces didn't take too long, back in the mists of last winter, but who remembers that far back?

Verdict


Oh my GOD, do I ever have a verdict! So much so, that you get BULLET POINTS...
  • Yarn: the yarns are gorgeous. Absolutely amazing. Much, much nicer that the Debbie Bliss tweed, which has no alpaca and therefore is not half as fluffy. This Sunbeam stuff knits up into a really solid, cosy fabric, which makes the jacket much more structured, rather than a cardigan. Which is perfect, really. Look, here are the real colours again, even if the photo is silly and blurry:

  • Pattern: NEVER, NEVER AGAIN. This is a commercial pattern from one of the biggest brands in British knitting, right? Then why the hell is it so hard to provide a schematic? There is none. None at all. And the finished measurements listed aren't at all sufficent to draw up your own.

    More, the finishing instructions were minimal. The sleeves ended up larger than the holes for them; my lovely lady friend, who is a tailor, informed me (through my tears of rage and fury) that this is standard for jackets, and that I had to gather the extra fabric in at the top of the armhole. Then, elsewhere on the net, I read that some people sewed the extra fabric along the body seams. Again, who can tell? I am not convinced about the sleeves as they are, I have to say. But then, it is a biker jacket, isn't it? they are supposed to be bomber shape, and funnily enough, this is precisely the season of the bell, billowing or slim sleeve, but most definitely not bomber jacket shape.


  • Overall: It's a biker jacket! In fluffy purple tweed! It's butch! It's femme! It's a classic! It's utterly square and hopelessly out of fashion! It fits perfectly around the body! It fits weirdly around the arms! It's a gorgeous dense fabric! It's particoloured! It's... oh, I dunno. It's finished. The proof will be in the wearing, right?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Sock Swatching is for the Weak

As is buying full price sock yarn. Check out my bargainous Fortissima Socka that I got in Berlin for half nothing:



I count five ends. Five! Is this normal for sale yarn? Fretful little fragments at the beginning? But I battled my way past the mess, and cast on for a short-row tow (first ever!) and battled round the yarn-overs and up to the join, three times (it's all education, folks), and finally got to the falling leaves pattern:


to find that it was no use remaining in denial: not only did the sock look unpleasantly like a dead fish's head, but it was a monster, baggy, enormous sock. And this in a pattern that is "deliberately on the small side"! Gah. Time for the rip.

Look, here's a more cheerful thought: an old old FO which lazy me only just got around to putting in the post.



It's a Dream Swatch, knit in a fancy viscose-cotton-glittery-very-very-silly yarn (possibly by Filati, but at this stage I actually couldn't swear. What am I? A fool.) The idea is that you can headscarf it or neckscarf it... or look at it in bewilderment, wondering what on earth to do with it. Hush.



Q: Glitz, don't you have a baby dress and a biker jacket about two stitches from completion?

A: Hush. Yes. Some day, the tidy finishing fit will fall upon me, won't it? In the meantime, I am plotting plotting plotting. I have my family Christmas presents all plotted in my head (though not on the needles yet... sure it's not even Hallowe'en), and on Friday I had a genius stroke: last year, in a fit of desire to emulate my knitting friend hfnuala, I bought three balls of Kidsilk Spray for a lace shawl. Summer came and went, the pattern was sworn over, and five lonely rows languished on the needles. On Friday, the revelation struck: since when do I wrap myself in cobwebby fronds of lace? Do I think I am some class of Pre-Raphaelite Miss Haversham? Answer: no, but what I DO need is a drop-dead elegant sleeveless top for the winter party season. Definitely. So now I am on the scour, friends, for a truly glamorous Kidsilk Haze pattern: all suggestions very very welcome indeed.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Birthday Fingers

Stripey fingers are the very latest sign of true maturity, you know




FO: Seaside Mittens


Pattern: Seaside, from Magknits

Yarn: Rowan Tapestry, 70% wool 30% soybean protein fibre, in colour 172 (120 m per 50g), one-and-a-tiny-scrap balls.

Needles: 4 mm bamboo circular

Pattern modifications: Well. No intended modifications. Granted, I could have read the pattern properly and realised that at every stitch marked place bead, it meant place bead, not place two beads. But hey! Twice the glitter!

I also may or may not have done some exercises in knitting-on-the-edge and seeing just how far the one ball of yarn would stretch, which means that the ring finger of the right hand is a teensy bit shorter than it strictly should be. But O well.

Time sucked:
Three days. Not too bad, right?

Verdict


OK, gloves are always going to be fecky. That aside, it was a very clear pattern, and little was more satisfying than striking through each line of the fully charted stitch pattern as I knitted it. They're soft, and cuddly, and very very silly.

You know, though, I'm STILL not sure about that fancy schmancy yarn. It was pricy, it was luxe, but it still feels a little funny: slightly rough, very furry, and I can imagine that the stitch definition will disappear pretty quickly. (Watch out for the velcro on my favourite bag, yo.) My lovely lady friend has just finished some arm warmers in the alpaca silk that I gave her, and it's just that bit softer, just that bit crisper in texture. Also, less stripey and silly. Possibly, my verdict is that the yarn is a lovely idea, but... not so much in practice.

Then again, fluffy mittens! And the yarn lasted until the last two fingers of the second glove, so I have almost a whole ball left. I'm freehanding a cravat-type-thing to match the gloves. No particular reason...



The gloves had their first outing in the Centre Stage Bar last night, a tiny overdecorated dive that plays Las Vegas shows on the telly and has toile de joie wallpaper on the walls. I describe a very paradise? Well, it would be, did they not insist on keeping the door wide open. As it is, I was very, very glad of the fluffy warmth cuddling my fingers.



Sunday, October 08, 2006

Tiger Eyes. Or OWLS OF DOOM?

Urban lace!



Pattern:Tiger Eye Scarf, from Stitchin' Girl

Yarn: Rowan RYC cashsoft DK, 57% wool, 33% microfiber, 10% cashmere, in colour Poppy (197 yds per 50g)

Needles: 4.5mm random circular

Pattern modifications: I only did two edge stitches instead of three, to save yarn (silly, there was no need at all; the scarf turned out 168cm long blocked... or almost as tall as me. Hooray for lace!) Also, I did the grafted version

Time sucked: A week.

Verdict



I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I should have given you an AFTER picture fresh from the blocking pins, lace in its optimum glory. But I ripped it from its pins the second it was dry and danced out for a night in the boozer through the mists. That's how much I love it. Lovely easy-ish lace, glorious snuggly yarn, fabulous bright colour. O luxe yarns, you tempt me so much. So much!

Mme. Tapestry slips shyly onto the needles



Oh god, GLOVES. So fiddly! Fingers! So scary! And goodness, Madame the Fancy Schmancy Tapestry Yarn. Metal DPNS wouldn't do for her, so I ordered bamboo ones, which she does deign to wear, but she clings and snags on the slightest roughness, whining softly at every fray. She is indeed soft and fluffy, but she is also sticky like mohair: tinking is a horror, and even knitting at the gauge recommended on the yarn label is a tricky business, because she is hardly plied at all, just loosely thrown together and hence incredibly splitty. Awkward bloody stuff. Bring back the nice technologically advanced cashsoft, I say.



Moreover, the colours are monumentally silly. Which is fine for accessories, I don't mind stripey fingers one bit. But seriously, friends: this is what Rowan would like you to knit from this yarn:



Now look, I am a vegetarian queer woman myself, and even so, I cannot possibly imagine ANY man sighing, "O, all I want for this autumn is a quirkily striped jumper in SOY silk, please, a bit fluffy round the edges, and if possible, with a darling fussy placket detail on the shoulder? And maybe some adorable sky-blue buttons? But who would design me such a gentle garment?"

I mean, I would be more than delighted were I to get scads of comments from genderqueer knitting men, all going, "Actually, I LOVE that jumper, and I'm knitting it in the PINK colourway, to boot." I just doubt it, somehow.

Kelly also asked me about the biker jacket, so here she is:



Sleeves set in (weary, frail sigh... that is a story for another day), zip awaiting my lovely lady friend's sewing machine. But my lovely lady friend is deep in the throes of designing my BIRTHDAY presxent right now, so the sewing machine will have to await her flash of inspiration. Speaking of which, by the way, here is an answer to the vexed question, "but what do lesbians actually DO?"



Sit around of a Saturday night gaily knitting, designing, reading the paper, and making a godawful mess of the living room, is the answer.