Monday, August 25, 2008

2 new uses for a swift

Over the years, I've found several uses for my swift other than winding yarn. It's great for
  1. drying yarn off in a hurry - taking the ties out and spreading the skein a bit on the swift is really good, particularly if you can do this while clamping the swift to a table/chair/fence/whatever in the garden when it's sunny (for UK residents: no, not this summer. Obviously. This summer, recipe for a mouldy swift and wet yarn...)

  2. measuring yarn (measure half-circumference of skein and double, place on swift, mark one leg of swift with something garish, wind slowly into a ball while counting rotations like mad)

  3. drying light clothing... I don't have space for a clothes' horse, but when the rain comes down, I can put a blouse on the swift and it might dry quicker...

  4. amusing small children (this is a ballwinder-and-swift-combo - they love winding the handle on the ballwinder and seeing what happens to the swift...)

  5. amusing teenagers (no, really. Particularly male teenagers. They love the process of yarn-winding. I have no idea why, but a couple of years ago at Textiles in Focus at Cottenham the male teenagers working car-park duty used to bring their friends in to watch the swift work... It can't be the appeal of machines per se or they'd have been clustered round the sewing machines. The girls (other than the knitters, who saw the point) weren't that impressed; but then most teenage girls are Officially Not Impressed with Anything.)

  6. amusing cats (cats are best for the amusement thing - their heads look as if they're going to fall off while they're watching, but for some reason they don't have the instincts small children and teenagers have to put their front paws into the moving machinery. I would say this makes them of superior intelligence, but my current cat would live on a diet of Sellotape, elastic bands and bubblewrap if I let her... It is good to live with another stationery fetishist though...)


I have been doing lots of sorting out and tidying up over the last few weeks. I started so that I could physically fit 7 people, including myself, into the lower floor of my small house for a dyeing workshop without anyone having to stand or work outside (because, as everyone in the UK knows, doing either activity outside this summer means you will inevitably become extremely wet; and so it was on that particular day), and I just seemed to keep going...

Anyway; all the way through this process I've thought 'when I feel pleased with the downstairs I'll spin that really beautiful skein of fibre I bought from Fyberspates at Ally Pally last year'. And so it came to be that having reached a state this afternoon where I wasn't anxious about tidying up anything I could see at the time, I reached for the skein, dragged out my Louet S-10... and...

... at some point in the whole tidying-up thing, I think I must have dropped something on the wheel. That's my only explanation for the thing that we very-nearly-non-spinners call that bit of the flyer with the hooks on it being... loose. And, on closer examination, cracked, both sides of the circular plastic pin with the orifice (stop sniggering, you at the back) at the other end...

So I used needlework tools... one 12mm needle to prise the cracks more open still; some wood glue bought to glue ends back onto bamboo needles, a needle to push the wood glue into the cracks... and then I realised I needed a G-clamp. So, like a fool, I went off into my completely disorganised shed, in near darkness, to look for one. After a couple of minutes of ferreting around, sanity reasserted itself, and I suddenly realised that I had a perfectly good one sitting in the dining room, and it was called my swift... So I present you... Eduarda Hook-Arms...

So, by my accounting, that's non-yarn-winding use 7). Use 8), I think, is as an artists' model for zombie artists...

Which in turn reminds me of this, which made me laugh a lot when it came out.

Yes, I am still mainlining paracetamol and ibuprofen and blowing my nose every 10 minutes - why would you ask?

Hypoteneuse and medals tomorrow...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Closing ceremonies...

Pics of Mystic Meadow blocking - this is the whole thing - sort of upside down, in that the cast-off is nearest the camera...

An idea of the openness of the top part, which is mainly yarnovers...

And the more densely-stitched bottom section - looks like grasses...

This is near the cast-off edge. It's bizarre - the chart looks extremely geometric, but the final result is very fluid...

So, the details:

Pattern: Mystic Meadows Stole by Anna Dalvi
Yarn: Enchanté by Kaalund in Lavender
Needles: 3.5mm (US4) Addi lace circular
Finished size: 50cm (20") by 180cm (72").

I did finish the Hypoteneuse shawl (casting it off while the closing ceremonies were going on) which is now also blocked - photos of that tomorrow...

Have spent most of today battling something disgusting and sinusy, probably a result of the cold I had last week, and moving furniture - my CD and DVD storage had become somewhat disastrous and precarious as both had completely run out of space - so I've ordered another bookcase for upstairs, moved the upstairs bookcase downstairs and filled it with CDs, thrown away the existing DVD storage, moved the DVDs into the CD bookcase... Not sure I want all the CDs in the dining room in perpetuity, but it'll certainly do for the moment and there's a little bit of space for expansion, particularly in the DVD storage...

I also remembered that a very small relative has a 1st birthday this week so another bit of speed knitting to one of my favourite patterns is under way. No photos yet...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

One down...

The Mystic Meadows stole is cast off. As ever with lace, it looks like a big old heap of nowt at the moment;

but I have hopes of its transformation into a thing of beauty in the blocking tomorrow. (I was strict as regards Olympic knitting - finished means not only cast on but blocked. I know myself... remember last week's posts of the things which had lain around for a couple of months after cast-off? So I'll be posting to the "podium" thread on Ravelry once the last pin goes in...)

This really was an Olympic challenge (as you might have gathered from my maunderings and whingeings over the last couple of weeks). I didn’t realise when I started that the design called not only for cables but also for bobbles, wrapping, and every-row-lace, all of which I usually avoid like the plague. It's a beautifully-written pattern, and I signed up for the KAL earlier in the year which meant the pattern was also presented in a large-print format over 32 pages (2 taped-together pages a day) which was extremely clear... The gorgeous but slippery silk yarn didn't help - any dropped stitch went down several rows...

Minor frogging was done all over the place - I managed to avoid major frogging by some surgery to the middle section halfway through - and I really wouldn’t have carried on with it if the small, insanely competitive fragment of my brain hadn’t been engaged by the Olympian ideal…

[I am, however, sure that when athletes refer to 'hitting the wall' they're not referring to flinging quarter of a mile of knitted silk and a perfectly good Addi lace needle across the kitchen while yelling expletives]. In the end the finishing was quite peaceful though...

Onwards with the second project, then. I have 4 repeats (96 rows), I have series 2 of Boston Legal on DVD, I have chili... how long can it take?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Home straight...

Didn't post last night because I was out seeing West Side Story at Sadler's Wells - which was absolutely tremendous. The energy of the thing was just unbelievable and the guy singing Tony that evening (there are two Tonys and two Marias listed), Ryan Silverman, has the most fabulous voice...

Today Sue came and visited work; we had lunch and then I gave her a tour round the place, dodging in between parties taking tours as part of the Summer Opening. We then went for Sue's debut visit to I Knit, and to the National Theatre where Shirley Williams and June Purvis discussed the legacy of the women's suffrage campaigners before heading home...

Now I'm going to be knitting until further notice - have just over 2 charts (0f 16) of the Mystic Meadows to go, and 4 repeats on the Hypoteneuse stole. More news and pictures tomorrow...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ooh! Moo!

I know, everyone's had Moo cards since ages ago, and I'm, as ever, late on the bandwagon; but I ordered some of their new business cards on Sunday night and they came today, and I'm dead pleased with them (and the case they rode in in...).

Do remind me I have them, if I see you, please? You'll see I confined myself to only one cat picture. Weirdly there are only two pictures of actual knitting in the batch, although all but one are fibre-y; and the one which isn't (the lamp-and-squash combo) is actually the top of my dining-room yarn-and-tool chest...

Olympics pieces - still more-or-less on track - need to finish 5 rows of this evening's allocation to make that so; I'll go and do that now. Knitting lace at I Knit is a dead loss - far too much fun to be had.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dyeing in Suffolk

There's only so many times that you can take almost-identical pictures of stoles/wraps which are becoming fractionally longer every day... (but they're on track. A night knitting at I Knit tomorrow night should get me within distant sight of the finishing line for the Hypoteneuse, and the Mystic Meadows is 11/16ths finished (and there's one chart in the last 5 which is only about a third the size of the others. This is just as well as, fiendishly, there's an every-row-patterned element coming through in the next chart which usually defeats me completely if some of the patterning is on the reverse, which in this case, being a stole, it is...)

... and I realised I'd completely forgotten to post pictures of the Natural Dye Studio's open weekend at the end of July (Heather [sparkleduck] and Michael were going and very kindly gave me a lift and found a lovely pub for lunch - they're the two somewhat ghostly figures on the left of this picture). Here's Amanda telling us about the vats - she dyes a kilo of yarn at a time, and does one colour and leaves it to dry before dipping it in another. Really, really interesting; and the amount of care it takes to get the vats right is amazing; but she also balances that with a certain jaunty élan when actually dipping the stuff...

Jeni from Fyberspates then gave us a bit of a talk on her methods, too, and then a demo - again, fascinating. I've been buying sponge-brushes for years, and Jeni just uses paintbrushes and it works just as well - I'll be down at Wilko's as soon as enough of my spongey ones fall apart... It was good to see someone who uses the same type of dye doing things in a different way and it looking fabulous.

It was a lovely afternoon; highly recommended...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Past the halfway point...

Despite the last post, my Olympics projects are going ahead and are both more than half complete. I had a really good bash at the Mystic Meadows stole today and did two and a half charts, so that's 9 of the 16 done. Here's a bit of the detail:

and here's what there is of the stole stretched out on the table...

Hypoteneuse is also going really nicely - 10.5 repeats down...

And a recent FO I haven't posted before, but have just wrapped up to pass on to my boss, who's off on maternity leave in the next week or two; this is a Shetland shawl, worked edging-first, and then stitches picked up all round and worked into the centre, with the centre square worked last, lacing up stitches from the sides as it goes and finishing with a three-needle bind-off. I used all sorts of small balls of sock yarn in the border and it was delightful to knit. I need to work up another pile of odds and ends and make one for me - maybe with black where the beige is on this one... This attracted so many favourable comments on the train because of the colours!


I should know by now that knitting lace while surrounded by KToggers is a Bad Idea. Picked it up this morning and realised that 8 rows back I'd ignored the Randomness introduced by the designer, and carried on in the established pattern.

Drastic remedies are called for....

There's probably some sort of Paula Radcliffe analogy here, but I'll let someone else think of it while I go back and catch these stitches up one by one. Where's my 2.5mm crochet hook...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Blocking, and... not.

I clocked up two FOs on Ravelry today - go me. Neither is an Olympic project, but both have been "95%" projects for a while, which in my personal lexicon means "it's all over bar the shouting". In effect, the things need blocking, or buttons need to be found and sewn on, or labels need to be attached with washing instructions, that sort of stuff... And for some reason, keeping them at 95% on Ravelry motivates me more than having to move them every time I want to sit down and eat... I know, that worries me, too.

Today's projects, however.

First I present you Flutter: this is a MimKnits pattern by Miriam Felton, utterly beautiful and I thought it would go very well with businesswear. The original is a soysilk blend which lends weight; I was using a remnant of denim-blue Colourmart cashmere which I'd dyed into a semisolid purple, and I added the weight by using beads (#8 blue-plum raku beads from Beads Direct, to be precise; 2 tubes needed...)

It's gorgeous. I love the way she does the increases and I've loved wearing it today... Blocking -erm; nope. I gave it a good hot steamy iron instead...

Second up : my second Hemlock Ring Blanket. Just realised I've got in there 2 days before the anniversary of Brooklyn Tweed blogging it in the first place. Because this was for me, it's been lying around for ages while babies were born, Christmases and fairs came and went... so here we are. I used Classic Elite's Mackenzie Tweed. No links to the yarn because Texere had it on sale for a couple of months last year but it's discontinued. It's a wool and silk mix which looks like oatmeal; but as I'm a horribly lazy blocker, and had actually washed this whole thing in shampoo and put it through the spin-cycle three times before finally pinning it out, it's got softer and softer each time...

Blocking: yes, severely. The silk seems to have made sure I don't have the sort of rucheing I had with the last one... I just wish you could get Clover blocking pins easily here, the 2-pronged sort; they're amazing.

Having brought the blanket down in triumph this evening and laid it on the sofa... I've decided I don't like it there after all. Instead, I've moved it over to the chair by one of the bookcases, which has a strange bow-legged charm...

And because I've kept the downstairs tidy(ish) for a whole week, and I do like it like that, a gratuitous calm-and-tranquil house photo with some beautiful statice and everlasting flowers I bought today... I've actually printed this picture out and am going to put it on the boiler in the kitchen to remind me of how nice the place looks tidied up...

Food meme

Carrying on from yesterday's tale of foodie delights, here's a food meme nicked from nhw - I've changed the formatting slightly because Blogger doesn't seem to offer "strike through" as an option.

Bold type shows foods I've eaten, normal type things I haven't but would consider, italics foods I'd never eat, and those items which are asterisked are foods I've eaten but probably wouldn't bother with again or would actively avoid!

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea*
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari*
12. Pho
13. Peanut butter and jelly sandwich*
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn or head cheese*
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche in ice cream
28. Oysters*
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut*
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin (but only as in "kaolin and morphine"...)
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho*
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail*
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Friday, August 15, 2008

Two days' worth

This is going to sound like "the dog ate my homework..."; I did blog yesterday, but Blogger seems to have completely eaten the post! No draft, no finished post, no Bloglines entry... Weird. It was just about another very lovely I Knit evening, but Yvonne has posted one of the pics I took of her in her unfeasibly quickly completed jacket...

While at I Knit we hatched a Plan. We'd originally intended to take the afternoon, do lunch and go to Borough Market, but I double-booked myself and could only get away at 3. So Yvonne and I met up at 3:30 anyway, did the market (I have a haul of poussins, pomegranate molasses, some extremely fine sweet-pickled gherkins, a couple of things which are presents, some tiny baby peppers (think about 1.5" high), red endives and strawberries). Delicious. It really is a stunning market - it's been a while since I went there, and I only went once and right at the end of the day. When I was living in London, Dalston Market was my nearest one and that was very fine, but Borough is something else...

After the market, Yvonne introduced me to the delights of the shop and tranquility of the refectory of Southwark Cathedral (where that last photo was taken), and some knitting was done.

Then we went on a wander towards Waterloo, taking in the sights of the Golden Hinde, Vinopolis, the Globe (another very nice gift shop), various bits of the South Bank including Tate Modern and the Millennium Bridge, the OXO building, where we looked longingly through the window of Annie Sherburne's shop, which thankfully wasn't open at the time, and on to Gabriel's Wharf, which was fabulous. Near Blackfriars Bridge there were these pillars jutting out of the water - you can't see all the seagulls perched on them in this picture... We wondered briefly what they were for...

and then found the answer: the London, Chatham and Dover Railway bridge...

Increasingly aware of the weight of our shopping and the distance we'd wandered at the end of a hard week, we staggered on through the Southbank Centre, where this colourful crowd was preparing to set off on a Free Tibet cycle ride to the Chinese Embassy near Regent's Park,

and on to Waterloo and the train home.

Thanks, Yvonne, for showing me your patch of London, and I'll definitely be back to many of the places! It really felt like a holiday despite only leaving work an hour early...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What miserable weather for August! Managed not to get completely soaked at any point, but it as a close thing a couple of times... So here's a picture of what it *ought* to look like at this time of year. I noticed yesterday that it's exactly three years since I got my first small-enough-to-carry-round digital camera, and this was one of the first photos I took with it...

I've also been immensely cheered up by Joshilyn Jackson's blog Faster than Kudzu, by the realisation that it's only 7 days until I get a week's holiday, and by having finished the first quarter of the Mystic Meadows stole (which looks very little different to the last photo). I was slightly disconcerted to realise that despite the easiness of the Hypoteneuse stole, I'd still managed to make a complete mess of one pattern repeat yesterday evening (wine and good company, death to knitting of all sorts!) and hadn't noticed until nearly the end of the next one ("Boston Legal" on DVD is also fairly distracting) so a-frogging I went, and have nearly caught up again...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Progress of a sort, and comments!

Thanks for the comments - it's been so long since I blogged anything interesting that I'd forgotten what that was like!

Here's tonight's progress, after a madly busy, very loud, extremely good fun KTog. Hypoteneuse (top) is doing nicely - about a third of the way through; the Mystic Meadows one got a bit stalled this evening once I realised the designer was eschewing the repeating pattern to get lots of random leafy things set up... I need to get back to it and do the last 5 rows of tonight's repeats. I'm worried about how small it is - don't mind about the width but I like a long scarf and I'm not sure that's what I'm going to get - but I think it's going to be beautiful. Has to be said though, if this wasn't an Olympic thing, I'd have given up by now...

And for all those commenting on the Addi-dyeing - I believe Addi cords are nylon and therefore will dye like any nylon fibre, buttons, bag handles etc. - I've seen no sign of them bleeding onto projects I've knitted afterwards, although I might cast on a row and dunk in water-and rub them on my hands for a while if I were going to propose to knit a baby shawl with them... You do, of course, lose the what-needle-size, but I've found that with the ordinary Addi cord that wears off pretty quickly anyway... Haven't tried Addi lace needles with this method, but with my degree of (im)patience, it's only a matter of time...

Monday, August 11, 2008

A FO from a while ago...

From June, in fact. The Peacock Feathers Shawl from Fiddlesticks - now living with Sue.

I used KnitPicks Shimmer laceweight in Turquoise Splendour, but realised quite early on that the skeins I had were way too variegated to do the pattern justice (I've seen this knitted in the same yarn on Ravelry, and it looks as if it might vary quite a bit between dye-lots). So I skeined the yarn up again, and dumped the entire project, needles and all, into a dyebath of turquoise/teal. I'd use the yarn again like a shot, but for something with a much simpler lace. It was really nice to do... (And for future reference, Addi cords dye beautifully - I have a lovely teal 3mm cord now...)

I think I probably have several other finished and unblogged FOs - more tomorrow, maybe.

Meanwhile I'm nearly 2 charts (out of 16) down for the Mystic Meadows Olympic shawl, and 4 repeats (out of 17/18) down for Hypoteneuse. I'll be taking both along to the KTog tomorrow night but probably won't be able to concentrate on the Mystic Meadows! I have high hopes for finishing Hypoteneuse, but am not quite as sure about the Mystic Meadows - it's high-concentration stuff and I'm doing fairly high-intensity stuff at work this month...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sunday afternoon...

Nice afternoon... and not overwhelmed by Guilt given the amount of slog involved in making sure people could actually navigate around the house yesterday.

I made a Secret Project, too... started and finished in one day, hoorah.

Olympic Project 1 (Team Cambridge): (that would be the tiny greeny-purply thing on the needles... cat showing appropriate level of derision..)

And Olympic Project 2 (Team I Knit London): doing rather better. My not organising a cast-on event is evidently a Good Thing...

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Dyeing day

I had various KToggers and Ravelry people round to do some dyeing. Which necessitated quite a lot of rushing round and cleaning, but some nice yarns were painted; which as ever I entirely failed to capture on photograph... Here are Clare (tigerchilli) and Heather (cybil) painting yarn, anyway! Clare very kindly brought me some mohair laceweight yarn and beads, which may well be put to use quite soon - I dyed the mohair and it's drying outside.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Casting on...

I meant to blog every day during the Ravelympics. But things got away from me on Friday and again yesterday. I am, however, using the great Blogger way-back machine to fake posts for those two days!

Friday, the casting-on event at the Cambridge Blue. Photos are on the KnitCambridge blog - there were around a dozen of us there and it was a nice evening, despite my frogging my second Olympic project after the first hour and a half!!

I'm making the Mystic Meadows Stole as my Team Cambridge group knitting project, and the Hypoteneuse Shawl as my Team I Knit London project. The London half of the biathlon is working a lot better. Photos as things go on.