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:


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...


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!


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?)


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.