Sunday, January 24, 2010
Blood line, by Mark Billingham. London: Little, Brown, 2009.
Mark Billingham read the first, hair-raising, chapter of this at the Winter Wordfest event in November, and it was un-put-down-able. Tom Thorne is a wonderful creation, and this is tightly plotted with a twist in the tail to give you whiplash... As ever, his descriptions are graphic but not gratuitous, and you genuinely care what happens to his characters right from the first few pages...
The people's music, by Ian MacDonald. London: Pimlico, 2003.
A series of collected essays in music, with subjects ranging from Bob Dylan to The Supremes; the essays on Dylan and Nick Drake are particularly fine. The title essay talks about the passage of popular music from the essentially amateur process of folk music to the professionalism of writers such as Cole Porter and Irving Berlin and the manufactured artists of Motown; and then tracking its descent into amateurism again with the Beatles and Stones, and later the punk era. The piece was written in 2002 or so - it would be interesting to hear where MacDonald thinks we're going in the era of The X-Factor...
Little face, by Sophie Hannah [audiobook]. Oxford: Isis, 2007. Read by Charlotte Strevens.
Alice returns to her house after the first outing without her new baby, and claims that the baby in the cot upstairs isn't hers. Her husband is equally convinced she's lying, and her very controlling mother-in-law loses no time in weighing in. I don't think I'd have carried on with this after the first couple of chapters if it hadn't been an audiobook; I didn't really feel sympathetic to any of the characters, the final dénouement was a bit of a disappointment (and I couldn't make the reasoning add up), and some of the mental and physical sadism was just unpleasant. Strevens is a good reader though; now we can search the library catalogue by narrator as well as author, I'll be ordering up some more she's read.
Un Lun Dun, by China Miéville. London: Pan, 2008.
One intended for young adults; this is a wonderfully inventive trip through London and unLondon, with some great inventions such as the binja (fighting waste bins), unbrellas (ever wondered where all those broken umbrellas go?) and Webminster Abbey (populated by giant spiders). The style of it is much simpler than Miéville's complex prose when writing for adults, but none the worse for that, and the London cityscape is skewed just enough to make it magical without it becoming unrecognisable.
Scarpetta, by Patricia Cornwell. London: Sphere, 2009.
I didn't have a lot to say about this one, really; it's a Scarpetta. It is, however, less ridiculously angst-ridden and more plot-driven than some of the more recent ones. I keep reading these, despite vowing that I won't; I always come out of them feeling a little bit disappointed...
Saturday, January 16, 2010
On the number of projects knitted:
Actual number: 50
Best guess: 51, by Yvonne. Well done! I'll wait until I see you at IKL sometime - Thursday, maybe?
For anyone interested, and because I hadn't worked this out before, this breaks down as :
8 lace shawls/stoles/scarves
7 children's garments
7 pairs of socks
4 non-lace scarves
3 potholders (crochet!!)
1 baby blanket
1 Christmas stocking
1 pair of mittens
1 tea cosy
and 0 partridges in pear trees, although I'm sure the extraordinarily clever Alan Dart has a pattern in development...
Yvonne wins two skeins of CTH Potluck Worsted (4 oz and 280 yards per skein; you'll have to work out what that is in British) in colour scheme Water.
On the metreage knitted up:
Actual figure: 21,120
Best guess: well, actually Yvonne got this one closest too with 21,000m (I'm beginning to think she's slipped some sort of monitoring apparatus into my knitting bag at some stage... that's only one ball of DK out, which is frankly just frightening).
However, I think she's the sort of nice, lovely, public-spirited person who would put her second winning raffle ticket back in the pot, so next closest is anonymous (and first) poster Rachel with 20,513m! I don't have a way to contact you, Rachel - so I'm hoping you're a regular reader. Please e-mail me at liz AT lizmarley DOT co DOT uk and send me your snail-mail address so I can get your prize to you.
For anyone interested; this averages out at 1760m/month; which is, according to Google (and don't you just love that you can put "1760m in miles" into Google and get an instant calculation?) 1.094 miles. I had a vague target for myself of a mile a month, because I was pretty close last year, but didn't calculate whether I'd reached it until the end of the year. My "worst" month was June with 845m and my "best" December with 2945m, but that's because I only count projects once they're finished, so it's all a bit random...
Rachel wins a scarf kit: 3 balls of Schoeller and Stahl's lovely Limbo in the blue/green colourway
and a PDF of my Helter Skelter scarf pattern (which isn't linked on Ravelry yet because I have yet to figure out the becoming-a-designer thing, but is proving very popular at I Knit London, who have been selling them pretty steadily for the last six months or so - I keep seeing people working on them and wearing them when I go to knit there, and it's lovely!).
And the other vital statistic for 2009:
Yarn knitted up this year: 7,659 grammes (equivalent of 153 50g balls; which is only 21g a day, but I'd refer you to the 8 lace shawls/scarves/stoles...).
I started counting up yarn acquired in the course of the year and gave up in mid-February.
However, with UK Knit Camp looming this year, I need to cut down, so I'm going to be counting yarn in as well as yarn out this year. Gifts and purchases will count as yarn in; but destashing and knitting up of yarn will count as yarn out... And I'm probably going to embarrass myself by posting a monthly total here... I shall, as ever, not be counting needles/magazines/books in that total, so IKL shouldn't suffer too badly...
And tomorrow, I vow to start blogging the Christmas Knitting (both given and received).
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
I haven't used a hot water bottle since a very cold winter 22 years ago... They didn't have Dream in Color Classy then... and hot water bottles came wrapped in very bad pseudo-polar-fleece from Boots (one cerise, one turquoise, IIRC)...
Interestingly, three people on the train asked me what I was knitting and said how beautiful the colours were. Dyers, take note - normally I get No Attention Whatever, and I think I usually use pretty yarns...
Monday, January 11, 2010
And if everyone can Think Good Thoughts to prevent trains hitting people in my local area, that would be good too. I've no idea whether this was suicide or an accident (although I understand you would have to try very hard to end up on the line accidentally at that particular point); but please, let's just hope people stop doing that.
On a more cheerful note, my brother sent me a YouTube clip of Gypsy Girl by Cruella De Ville. At the time, we thought this was a really good video. How times change... In return, I sent him a YouTube clip of possibly the most absurd Christmas recording ever.
And I realised I never gave an end-date for the annual competition. Let's say Sandi-o'clock on Friday (i.e. 6:30pm GMT this Friday, January 15). I'm hoping I'll be enjoying a drink with colleagues at that point, but it's as good a time as any...
Friday, January 08, 2010
Anyway. I got onto the train this evening and removed (a) over-mittens (b) fingerless gloves (c) hat (d) coat (e) scarf and (f) sweater (I still had many layers of clothing, thanks), and piled them all into the gap between seats. The woman in the seat opposite watched this with amusement and said, "you've seen that card, haven't you?" I admitted I had. "So this is sort of Knitters' Revenge Week, then?", she said.
Made me feel ever so much better about the whole thing.
Thursday, January 07, 2010
So if you don't have any paint you could be watching dry (or just want to have some reassurance that warmer days will come), or you're trapped under something heavy while reading this, do have a look.
While looking for all the versions, I found the photo below, which I made last year but never posted. It also makes a change from the current state of my small resentful house-mate, who is spending 22 hours a day sleeping next to a radiator in the bedroom at the moment, emerging only to eat or dive briefly into the garden to answer the call of nature...
Keep warm, all.
*Bet you were wondering why I was more positive. I'm not the most disciplined worker-from-home, but after yesterday, only wasting 90 minutes of my day dealing with trains, with the knowledge I was only 10 minutes from home at any time, was just fine and I got a fair amount done.
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
Apologies - this was not meant to be NaBloPoMoWhinge. Tomorrow I shall Put on My Happy Face. And Ye Shall All Fear Me...
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
Monday, January 04, 2010
Anyway; the best behaviour thing was - look!! I swatched!! (And then I felt very bad about myself. Not, you understand, for the action of swatching - but because actually what I was doing was knitting a tension square; we have a perfectly good phrase for this process in British English... in the same way as, thank you Google Chrome spellcheck, "colourway" is an actual word. Having said that, the spellcheck fails to recognise "Google", "spellcheck" or "swatching" as words either... Anyone know how to turn it off?)
Anyway, I knitted a square, and measured it, and washed and dried and blocked it, and patted myself on the head, and measured it again - and there was absolutely no difference. I did not get gauge because I'd given myself a talking to by then. Sadly I also did not achieve the appropriate tension, as UK knitting patterns used to have it. The tension demanded by the pattern is 24 sts and 32 rows to 4"/10cm. I got 21.5 sts and 34 rows to 4". But look, isn't it a pretty thing? And the fabric feels very nice and wearable. This sample is also done on a 3.25mm (US3) needle - I am not going to be knitting an entire garment for someone with my degree of, let's say, décolletage, on a 2.75mm needle... and anyway, then the row tension would be even more off and it might feel like wearing armour-plating...
I shall, nevertheless, be knitting Nordique Swing - having done the maths, the one three sizes down works with the number of stitches I need; with any luck that means I'll save a bit of yarn and have enough to work the sleeves till they're bracelet-length...
NB: Reading it back, this post sounds like an anti-American rant. For which, apologies - this was not my intention at all.
Sunday, January 03, 2010
A new lace project (stealth, so just visible on the right)...
Saturday, January 02, 2010
I do have some things I'd like to do this year
- I'd like to keep the garden under control, and plant some more things in it rather than just hacking back. (Having said that, after the couple of weeks we've just had, I'm glad I didn't plant anything which needs much care this year - it was all under several inches of snow for over a week...)
- I'd like to tame the back bedroom which is the pit of hell. It's so bad that I won't be posting "before" pictures (although I will be taking them) until there are at least "during" pictures to show!
- I'd like to knit something steeked - this was also on my mental list last year (along with knitting something from the top down, which I achieved with the February Lady Sweater in January). I got as far as taking an Alice Starmore class at the I Knit Weekender and seeing how it's done; and found a very lovely pattern. However, I'm also intending to continue losing weight, and making a cardi in 4-ply which can't be unravelled once steeked doesn't seem very sensible until that's done. Sometime later in the year, maybe; meanwhile I've seen some nice patterns for cushions and rugs which are steeked.
- I'd like to finish St Brigid - I only have the front to go, and she's been in my WIP pile longer than I've had this blog!
- I'd like to knit from my stash more. This is rather difficult with both the wonderful I Knit on my doorstep at work, and rumours of a lovely new yarn shop in Ely. However, I've just shelled out for classes and accommodation for UK Knit Camp in August, and will want to go to the I Knit Weekender in September (10th and 11th, I believe). So I'm not promising anything because that would just be foolish.
So, nothing dramatic - I rather like my life at the moment and have no desire for radical change.
Being able to get into the back bedroom without a block and tackle would be good, though...
Friday, January 01, 2010
I've signed up to NaBloPoMo again - a few people have commented to me over the holidays that they liked the daily blogging, and actually I quite liked doing it too. Sometimes the theme for the month doesn't grab me (and I know you're not required to follow it anyway), but this month's theme is "BEST", and we all really need something to celebrate in January...
I had a very good Christmas - the best one for a while. Here are some of my fambly - Dad, SIL, Mam and Nephew - opening presents on Christmas Day.
I was allowed to cook Christmas dinner, and it seemed to go well...
OK; the competition. I will be doing 2 prizes this year, and simplifying it a bit. There are only 2 questions:
1. How many finished objects did I produce this year (NB this blog is not an accurate guide and nor is Ravelry - you probably just need to make a guess)?
2. How many metres of yarn did I knit this year (NB for visitors from North America, add approx 10% to a yardage estimate...)?
For some sort of idea - this was the roundup of last year's stats...
Happy competitioning... I won't bother doing an anonymous e-maily thing this year, just leave answers in the comments if you're so inclined!