Sunday, October 31, 2010

5-year draw results!

Hello all: thanks very much to all 24 people who commented on the 5-year-anniversary entry! So good to read all the positive things people have done and made, particularly at a time of year where it's easy to be dull and gloomy

And sorry for being a very crap blogger over the last couple of weeks. Work has been really busy, I've been knitting away like mad over a Christmas present which is routinely kicking my arse (can't show you as the recipient reads this), and on the rare occasions I've been home it's been much more tempting to curl up in front of the wood stove in the dining room with knitting and a good book than venture out to the living room to blog...

Some knitting has been done though - and it's been received so I can show you. These are for Baby Eliza (I blogged about hearing about her arrival while SusieH and I were in Norwich Cathedral).

One baby blanket (the Chalice pattern by Lykkefanten) in James Brett Marble. E's big brother got the "heirloom" type one so this time I was going for washable, practical, soft and likely to get used over the winter. And the same consideration came into play with these three burp/dribble-cloths. No point in not having pretty ones, though!

OK - back to the comments draw.

The winner in the random number generator is Comment #11 by wuthering_alice (AKA Steph - you can't fool me with your clever Victorian wiles, my dear...) Congrats, Steph! PM me on Ravelry with your address, or use the link in my profile to send me an e-mail, and a packet of goodies will be winging its way to you in the next few days.

The winner in the completely non-impartial "comment I liked" is Valerie, who pointed out very sensibly that it's better to make as much time as you can for an activity rather than whining that you haven't time; but accept you're never going to do everything you want to all at once! I might know you in real life, Valerie (and your freeform stuff sounds very intriguing) but I don't think I know how to contact you online. If you're on Ravelry, I'm greensideknits - drop me a PM with your postal address - and if not, my e-mail address is in my profile (button on the top right of the blog).

I've foolishly signed up for NaBloPoMo again this November, so will definitely get round to telling you about my personal bests then.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Take two

It's not often you knit a whole sleeve on a day's commute. Today was one of those days; but then, when the sleeve's only this long...

The tomato-soup coloured All Seasons Cotton is re-knitting up nicely to be an Alpaka Tunic (from the Fall 2009 Interweave Knits). I've needed to go down three (three!!!) needle sizes to get gauge, which is a bit unprecedented... I'm doing a couple of rows of moss-stitch rather than the slightly rolled edges in the original.

A couple of people asked about reskeining/washing after unravelling. I've never bothered if it's not been washed and worn, as it doesn't seem to go too kinky. I suppose if it had been washed and pressed and so on, I might reskein, but it's still enjoyable to knit with... I wind straight onto the ball-winder as I unravel, and that keeps the yarn slightly under tension, too.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Reverse engineering

As part of thinking about the best things I've made (in the knitting sense), I was also forced to admit today that there are some things which are less than best. In fact, there are three sweaters I've made over the last 5 years or so which didn't even get fully sewn-up because I was already aware that they were All Wrong.

One was going to be a long-forgotten dark blue All Seasons Cotton sweater (having already been a failed jacket); one a Ragna in cardigan version in Wendy Aran, and one a She Gansey in red All Seasons Cotton. In all cases they were too big, or the wrong shape, or I'd just completely fallen out of love with the pattern by the time I'd got to the end. Here they are in their awful glory.

And here they were a couple of hours later. Back left, 776 grammes/1550 metres of Wendy Aran with Wool in a nice green/grey tweed. Back right, 764 grammes/1400 metres of Rowan All Seasons Cotton in dark Air Force blue. Front, 490 grammes/880 metres of Rowan All Seasons Cotton in Paprika (orangey red); I do have another unopened 500 gramme bag of that one having bought two packs in Liberty's sale a few years ago.

Half of me is happy to have reclaimed three sweaters' worth of yarns. The other half of me looks at 2030 grammes and 3,830 metres of unravelled, never-worn sweater, with all the time, effort and hope involved, and marvels What was I thinking??

Knitters' denial - it's an amazing thing.

Just a reminder of the blog giveaway from the last post. Leave a comment over there about the best thing you've made over the last 5 years for a chance of a prize.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Five; and a giveaway...

Well, it's five years today since I opened my Blogger account, and 505 posts down the road, here I still am. I didn't put up my first post for a few days, so it's not quite my full five-year anniversary, but I'm at home today on a day's holiday so I thought I'd celebrate early, having spent the morning fiddling with the template.

I thought the blog needed a bit of a freshen-up for its birthday though - so I've stripped the Victorian wallpaper and gone for a cleaner look. Let me know if you like it!

I've done some stuff I never thought I would over the last five years; I've gained friends, and even family (3 little ones to knit for this Christmas!). I've met some wonderful knitters both online and in real life, gone to some excellent and/or interesting events, visited Venice, and Canada, and Vienna (which weirdly, I really didn't blog despite taking huge numbers of photos - here's the Flickr set though!).

I've also changed jobs for one which is both much more fun and much more structured, and where I'm finally using my qualifications fully; I've become a commuter, and Establishment, and have surprisingly found I enjoy both of those things. I've overhauled my garden (the back bedroom is next on the list) and learned to spin yarn which is actually knittable (more on that later, I hope).

Anyway, five years is a long time; and as with all these things, deserves some sort of contest/giveaway thing, to thank you for reading, and for continuing to read, particularly when I'm just maundering on about my garden, or showing you the next foot of unblocked lace in a big heap with a cat sitting on top of it.

So, please add a comment to this post before the end of October 30, telling me about the best thing you've made in the last five years. It might be a sweater, a baby, a pie, a decision... I'll use the random number generator to choose one prize, and give the other one to my personal favourite comment. The prizes are secret (largely because I don't know what they are yet) but will be yarn-related and fun.

Over the next few days I'll blog about two or three of the best things I've made over that time, too.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sahar: proof positive of knitting life...

I have been knitting; honestly. I'm just aware I haven't blogged any for ages. Some of this has been that delay you get where you knit a present, or do a test knit, and then can't present it for ages. Some of it has just been indolence. Most of it, frankly, has just been that all my blogging time (and honestly, most of my energy) over the summer and since has been sucked into the whole KnitCamp experience, and the earlier and later fiascos. Even from the point of view of a student and observer, it's been completely knackering. I hope to catch up at some point. And some of the things I've made have been really lovely even if I say so as shouldn't.

However, just about a month ago, Franklin put up a pattern on Ravelry for download which somehow just screamed "KNIT ME!!" in a way very few things have recently, despite the huge wealth of patterns out there, particularly as I knew exactly which yarn I was going to use. So despite having 114 things in the Ravelry queue ahead of this, and a lot of yarn at home, I found myself in John Lewis buying Rowan Felted Tweed a couple of days later, and casting on in the pub (yes, I had brought appropriate needles and the waste yarn with me. I was a Brownie and a Guide. On occasions, I am Prepared).

That evening I had this

and was sort of entranced. There's a switch every 6 rows in the first pattern which stops you falling into complacency, but it's a switch like the end of a long seam in sewing, or (for those of us just old enough to remember) the ding of the bell of the typewriter at the end of a row; not too jarring, just a little reminder that something needs to be done.

There's not too much of any part of the pattern to be boring (Summer into Fall and Wibbo's as-yet-unpublished Gallimaufry compare with it for sheer enjoyment) but the DK weight yarn also makes it a comparatively fast knit. There's a provisional cast-on at each end, grafting/Kitchener stitch in the middle, and then picking up and knitting around the edge to make a border (which isn't a huge border, but still takes up about a quarter of the yarn). The picking up and knitting is dead easy if you just follow the instructions. I found a tiny error on one square of the final row of the border; which is, of course, fixed now.

A little over a fortnight after casting on I had this:

and then a few days later managed to get a photo of the actual colour of the thing.

Pictures are clickable to embiggen (despite the Firefox upgrade which means I'm having to go back to IE to link to Flickr...)

Bravo, Franklin, and thanks for the pattern. It's been a while since I was this single-minded about a piece of knitting; I think this stole will be lounging negligently around on the sofa this winter, on the rare occasions when it's not wrapped around my neck.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

2010 books, #66-70

Ash and bone, by John Harvey. London: Heinemann, 2005.

A non-Resnick novel (although Resnick appears in a cameo), with the same characters as his earlier Flesh and Blood. Frank Elder is again persuaded out of retirement in Cornwall, this time to investigate the murder of an ex-colleague. Meanwhile, his own daughter is facing a drugs charge in Nottingham. This is very tightly plotted with some interesting characters, and well up to John Harvey's standard.

Little girl lost, by Susan Kelly. London: Allison and Busby, 2002.

It seems simple enough: a child is abducted from her home by her social worker, while her father is asleep. But it all becomes much more complicated, and things which had been known as facts turn out to have been so many lies. Another Greg Summers novel; Summers is an interesting character, and the relationships between the different police staff are as interesting as those between the protagonists. There's a heartbreaking side story about Alzheimer's, too.

To darkness and to death, by Julia Spencer-Fleming. New York: St Martin's, 2005.

Another one in this tremendous series; this time based around conservation versus logging, and land transfer deals. Clare's personal life also becomes steadily more complicated. Some of the plotting here seems less realistic than with the other novels, but the characters have almost become more interesting than the plot. (The next two books in the series are in the post from the US.)

Nemesis, by Lindsey Davis [audiobook]. Read by Christian Rodska. Oxford: Isis, 2010.

I put on the first CD of this book expecting the usual slightly comic opening to the most recent (20th!) Falco historical detective novel. I didn't expect to be reaching for the tissues within 10 minutes! The opening is amazingly touching, and the rest of the novel is excellent, too. Falco is now at a bit of a crossroads, established in his home life and now moneyed, but still with the sense of adventure which has led him into so much trouble. The sub-plot involving Albia, his adopted British daughter, is a great touch, too. Christian Rodska's reading is superb as ever - when I realised who the reader was, I happily waited the extra time for the audio version to come from the library. He gives Falco just the right slightly-wrong-side-of-the-tracks edge without caricature.

Things fall apart, by Chinua Achebe. London: Penguin, 2006.

A Kniterati book group book, and another I wouldn't have picked up if it hadn't been a group book, but was very glad to have read. I began with a great deal of exasperation for the main character who is so hard and violent with his family as a reaction to his father having been a weak man; but gradually, because the characters are so well-drawn and the traditions and relationships so well explained by the author, my sympathy transferred to him in his plight. And the ending is quite heartbreaking. It all made for very interesting discussion; thanks to Penny for her suggestion and the background information she had.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Meeting Across the River

Weirdly, as I walked over the Golden Jubilee Walkways from the north to the south bank of the Thames, this song came on the iPod. Seemed very appropriate

It was a grim day, which looked like midwinter...

But I was heading to the Royal Festival Hall for lunch, drinks and knitting with a friend. Anyone who knows this particular friend will probably work out who it was by this photo...

Yes, it was indeed Yvonne (aka Stash on Ravelry); accessorising her purple cast with her beautiful new purple Lou√ęt yarn, and making an experimental foray into the centre of town since her unfortunate altercation with an unfriendly kerb.

And this was the view we had to gaze out on - or at least, part of the view. This bit wasn't entirely populated by people earnestly tapping on their MacBooks (or whatever those Mac laptops are called)...

The people-watching was excellent though - we didn't see anyone we could positively identify, but there were definitely Telly People arranging interviews and so on...

And on the way out, there was an exhibition of art made by young offenders, which was really interesting. This one was definitely one for Sparkleduck though!

Another really good day; despite being wet for quite as much of it!! I also knitted an Entire Item in the course of the day, but more of that later.