Sunday, 21 October 2007

Shh! Don't startle the UFOs... I am stalking them with serious intent.

The reason behind my UFO busting is that I was not able to work on the Puss in Boots wrap template either last or this weekend - so I am still not at the point where I can cast it on.

It's very frustrating and lack of progress has threatened to leave me with nothing to work on during my commutes. As a result, I have been stalking old projects, trying to clear the decks a bit:

Striped Top: it might not be not striped but it is now knitted, blocked and dry, ready for me to sew a shoulder together and pick up the stitches to do the neckband. Sadly, it is also sizing up to be the most boring baby jumper known to humankind. I think that it needs a duplicate stitch motif of some description to cheer it up? I bought teddy bear buttons for it at K&S last weekend but actually, I don't like them - it was the desparate, random button buying act, of a desparate to have buttons, to finish a jumper woman. Yes, me.

Castle Couture Hat: Progress was bought to a swift halt on the hat because every time I tried to knit parts of its optional knitted accessory, little golden dog turds squeezed themselves off the ends of my needles. Foul. In the end, I gave up and the project hibernated over the summer. I am having another go as the weather is cooler and people might be interested in knocking themselves up a warm hat? It's okay - I know. My golden motifs do not look great but compared with the first batch I experimented with - they are improving slowly! I'll get them right in the end.

Ribbed Shrug: I tried to unpick across to my ribbing error but it all started to look hideous and I was afraid that I was going to make one mistake look several times worse. So I have quietly picked the stitches back up, woven in the ends and I am going to stitch up the sleeves so that I can pick up stitches for the centre part of the shrug. If the ribbing error stands out in an obvious way when the shrug is finished (I am hoping that it will end up under my arm), then I will try Kelli's suggestion of snipping and darning. Or maybe trying darning a duplicate stitch over the top of the error?

Otherwise, what's been going on this weekend?

1) Well, I picked up a copy of The Happy Hooker - I went through all of the 'learn how to crochet books' at Borders (I have a stitch reference/pattern book at home but I wasn't feeling inspired by either of them) and this book seemed to stand out as having beginner things to try that looked wearable and achievable in the-less-than-great-learning-environment-of-an-aircraft-cabin (in the event that my Denise interchangeable needle ends are confiscated by security).

2) I picked up some skeins/balls of these two yarns: Rowan Cocoon and Mirasol Sulka (which is John Lewis's new fairtrade type yarn - I think).

The colours are as requested by my gift recipients but I cannot say much more until the presents are handed over, as they read my blog!

So if I am a bit quiet in the coming days, it is just because I am working on the wrap template, UFO busting and sneaking out two small offline presents.

PS - I have had a few questions from people asking me what I plan to do with the Habu Textiles 100% Linen Paper that I bought last weekend.

Please see left for a small clue! (It is not socks.) what is it about the colour aubergine, eggplant or purple (collective wisdom of team blokes) that makes it so bloomin' appealing to me, right now?! I cannot help it - I just love it!

22/10 Edit: Yikes! I think that I have just had an out of body experience - I just stopped by using my work computer (as I was having pagination problems with my post last night at home) and discovered that I have, in fact, posted a photo of myself with a skein of yarn balanced on my head.

What on earth am I doing?! This blogging thing - it's got to stop!

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Knit & Stitch Show 2007

In keeping with the Champagne Bar theme, 'Knit at the Movies', here are my highs and lows from this year's Show entitled, 'The Good, The Bad and The Ugly'!

[cue Spaghetti Western music]

The Good

Put very simply:

  • a venue full of like minded people enjoying themselves

  • Robynn, Alice (with Emms) and all those other hardworking suppliers strutting their capable stuff and showing their wares

  • UK Handknitting, SnB London and Meantime Knitters teaching people how to knit

  • very cool 'Knit at the Movies' posters in the Champagne Bar

  • Mel handing in 32 Innocent Smoothie hats to Rowan (go Mel!) compared with the 2 hats that I handed in...(um ok, I knit slower but every little helps, right?)

  • inspirational work by established makers and graduates.

Judging by how tired I was at work today, it was hard work just being a Knit & Stitch show consumer - so goodness knows how Robynn and Alice must feel today! I was glad that I had a two day ticket in some respects. Sunday, was more chilled - I browsed the exhibitions and attended the comedy show! I didn't do any workshops - there just didn't seem to be time.

The Bad (or the indifferent?)

I understand that it is discounted but somehow this plastic wrapped, heaped presentation of last season's colours and/or discontinued yarn did not inspire me to throw myself apon it in product acquisition buying frenzy.

If you think that I am being a yarn snob, then it is important that you know that Mel was not tempted either and she happens to be an eagle eyed spotter of quality bargains.

So there!

This photo (almost) makes two points:

1) This is one of the very few items that stated, 'Do Not Touch' without stating, 'Do Not Photograph' as well. This is why I have no exhibit photos for you to see.

Quiet grump.

I understand why it is necessary but as a person with a strong kinesthetic learning style, it is very frustrating not to touch things - particularly items that are being held up as shining examples of work in an exhibition!

2) Okay, now people might glue glitter to their stitching but there was a fair amount of non knit or stitch items on offer at the show. I guess that these vendors are hoping that, because I knit, I might:
  • make cards (no)

  • buy printed polyester scarves or acrylic pashminas (no)

  • purchase a rubber or fabric raincoat (no)

  • hand over money for a handbag that my knitting will not fit in (no).

Or perhaps they hope that, for fun (you know, just once in a while) I like to strip down to my underwear, daub myself with washable glue, scoop large quantities of glitter out of an oversized champagne glass and sprinkle it lavishly over my person before I settle down in front of the telly to watch an episode of Heroes?!

Um, no - sorry to disappoint.

It would be easier if these vendors were all grouped together, so you could choose to visit them (or not). Alas no, they were scattered across the venue, so you would turn a corner and find yourself confronted by a scarily perma-tanned looking vision assuring the gathered crowd that they had better hurry and buy their manmade fibre wares, before they all sold out. Frightening.

The Ugly (or things with the 'Why?!' factor)

Left: Okay, just because you can knit something, doesn't necessarily mean that you should! Besides, aren't children this pattern size a bit young to get the message that anyone can be Father Christmas as long as they wear the right outfit?

Right: I dare not post another word for fear of offending anyone with a passion for cross stitching cartoon characters! If you don't, then I rest my case.

Yarn Immunity
Otherwise, Sunday passed completely without incident. I escorted my mother around the show, I am proud to say that I calmly ignored the call of all yarn...

...what do you mean that you can see another photograph of yarn?! Rubbish! You are seeing things. I absolutely deny the acquisition of this Habu Textiles 100% linen paper and cotton kasuri.

It's a figment of your imagination. My mother bought some Habu Textiles yarn. I simply consulted...

...I walked away yarn free.

Honest. I certainly didn't 'come to' in the car park, to find a credit card receipt tightly gripped in one hand and a carrier containing this in the other. Gulp. there a Compulsive Yarn Acquisition, Self Help group on Ravelry yet?!

Saturday, 13 October 2007

A bit like Christmas come early...!

I will post about the Knit and Stitch Show at Alexandra Palace properly after the end of this weekend - in the meantime, the picture left shows Thursday's haul:

- 2 skeins of Fyberspates Wool-Silk in Moss (considered gift buy)

- 3 skeins of KnitWitches Laceweight 4 Ply Silk (what it says on the label) in Bright Raspberry (impulse buy).

Other than that, I was strict on the yarn front as I have an overflowing stash and another acquisition opportunity at the end of the month. Oh yes.

- replacement KnowKnits pouch

- 4mm extremely posh and lovely wooden crochet hook so that I can teach myself to crochet something basic

- my first EZ book so that I can viral knit a BSJ in 2008 (and in the process discover why EZ has such an ardent, devoted following)

- Subscription to Knit.1 - it had to be done after the amusement and discussion generated by the current issue, in terms of its styling and patterns. To summarise with a simple example: just picture any of the Back to the Future accessories on a real life The Tron Guy for example?! (No disrespect intended here at all - it is just where the fashion styling / film costume worlds collide with us mere mortals of more usual proportions. Like me.)

Today has felt a bit like Christmas, looking over my presents, piling them up to photograph to show you. That said, while K&S 2007 only happens once a year in London, it is not quite over for me as I am taking my mother to the show later today.

Thursday was mainly about spending a day with Mel, shopping, greeting friends and seeing what was new and today I am hoping to spend a bit of time looking around the exhibition spaces, as that is what will interest my mother (I think).

I did learn one thing from Thursday's trip - the catering at AP is not the best in the world. So today, I bought a picnic - just on the basis that it cannot be good for your soul to eat unpleasant food when surrounded by mountains of creativity and beautiful things?!

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Onwards Upwards - Ribbed Shrug - Mojo

Definitively. This is my favourite colour - I have no idea why, it just is - Aubergine. Eggplant. Collective Wisdom of Team Blokes: Purple.

I just posted a description over at Ravelry that stated:

"If I pop my clogs unexpectedly, I would like it hereby recorded that I would like to be laid to rest on a thick bed of this yarn, in this colour.

Frankly, I do not give a damn whether this knit turns out the way that it should or not...

...I am going to wear this shrug, until they peel the very last snuggly shreds of its worn out, pilled yarn off me.

By force."

It is just how it is. Trust me - this yarn is soft and nice to work with. You would make the same promises - I am sure of it.

Actually, I have made a bit of a mistake in my knit and I am working out in my head how to remedy it - I could ignore it and put up with the comments that tell me that I was slack in my making - just get on, get it finished and wear it until it/I expire.

Please note that correcting the fault would involve cutting, unravelling rib, dropping a stitch to point of error, making good and then grafting back together with kitchener stitch.

Help! The chances of me completing this successfully alone - zero! Yet, I soooo want to have a go at the technique - such a quandry? I just know that I will stuff it up and ruin an otherwise, perfectly acceptable knit.

It is knitted, cuff to cuff. I 'just' need to sew up the arms, pick up stitches, then work the shrug shawl rib. Okay - so...carry on and live with the rib error?

Or risk stuffing up the complete knit in order to achieve 'perfection'?!

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Despair! Doubt! Celebrate! (Finished Object)

At 3.15am on Sunday morning, I despaired. Another weekend where I had bitten off more than could chew - I had promised reports of finished objects this weekend and all I could see was that I was not going to deliver (again)!

Y'know, I have a thought process (I ignore it a lot to my personal detriment) that tells me, 'If anything you are doing hurts (I am thinking of my sport here) or takes you longer than it should, well - then you are doing it wrong'.

Between 17:30-20:45 and 11:30-3:15am on Saturday evening and Sunday morning I persevered, bullishly, against my better judgement and to my complete detriment. Eventually, I gave up and went to bed, discouraged - my lace shape tee seams were lumpy and grim.

Even now, I know that I should take half of them out. At that point, I thought that the only answer was for someone to have a bright knitting business idea, along the lines of the roadside placards one reads on leaving an IKEA car park:

‘No Alan key? Don’t panic, let us make your furniture for you!’
‘No sewing up skills?! Don’t panic, inept knitter, let us solve this for you!’

I hoped, I slept, I woke up but no elves had visited during the night and no (much needed) knitting support businesses had set up to take the sewing up problem off my hands.

So I got up, dressed (reflecting grudgingly, that it was lucky that I do not depend on my making skills to clothe myself). I quietly went back to a reference book. It pointed out quite clearly where I had gone wrong. Hmm. I made coffee. I quietly set to with the technique it suggested. It worked too, damnit.

Don't you just hate it when the answer is under your nose if only you could be bothered to read it? (I am not a reflective learner.) The second half of the top was sewn up in a scant 2 hours (including the addition of a crochet edging I had no idea how to attempt beforehand).

Here are the results demurely pictured on Megan:

Knitting Lingerie Style, Lace Shaped Tee
Size 38" with lengthened arms as it is now Autumn
Knit Duration?
End of August 2007 - Start of October 2007
Where Knitted?
In public - on the train and at knitting groups
Yarn Used
7-8 Balls of Debbie Bliss Cotton Cashmere

I enjoyed a quick moment of pride. I looked at the top with more critical eyes.

You know, even setting my seam mishaps aside, I am not sure that this top is really me (after all that work too).

So I put it on. I went around to my best friend's house, for her to take a few photos and give me her opinion.

So here, throwing all dignity to the wind, is the top - in action and on me!

We retired indoors for a gossip. My best friend told me that she thought my top is 'nice' but then confessed that she is not certain it is me - she thinks that it is a bit big. I worry that it is a bit short - we sat on her sofa and we doubted together.

The conclusion is that I might wince and put it in the machine on a hot wash, in the hope that it shrinks. It is 95% cotton and 10% cashmere - will that survive a hot wash?

So that is where I am on top acceptance so far: you have seen the evidence, what do you think?!

Mind you, that said, tea drunk, I came home, I looked at my top on Megan again and I quite deliberately cracked open a bottle of prosecco* to celebrate completing it.

Well…it is not everyday that you meet two of your three key 2007 knitting objectives, is it?! This top, however badly it fits or 'is not' me:

- is a completed garment for me (not achieved that before); and

- is a lace design (technique learnt this year and now applied to a full scale project. Okay, technically, the baby ballerina wrap ticked this box but this is lacy all over).

I have another objective but I do not want to jinx it as I am on track to crack it before December!

* Mel, I did not skip knitting last night just because I wanted to put a dent in a bottle of prosecco - although I did - in my defence, I also processed 3 machine loads of laundry and did some other admin too!

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Puss in Boots - Daylight Bead Auditions

I have finally managed to post the Daylight Bead Auditions for my wrap over at my Puss in Boots project blog. I have also uploaded some of the photos that I took into Flickr, if you are interested.

My project post centres around the fact that I have a quandry to resolve over which beads to use. I would be interested to know what you think.

So it would be very cool if you could pop over, take a look and let me know what you think via a comment.

Crikey, a proper knitting post. Well I never!

Time to make another pot of coffee and unblock my progress on the wrap template itself. You know what? I think that I am going to make a toile.

Is that even the correct word?!

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Being There – The Trip – Part Two

No matter how unwell I feel, there are certain things that are guaranteed to make me feel better - this is one of them:

The Sea (view from hotel window)

I love water and the sea: squidging my toes in sand, paddling, jumping over or running away from waves, exploring rock pools, building sandcastles and skimming stones. I arrived, feeling ill, and even this restricted view of the sea was enough to improve how I felt!

Now although I did not find an opportunity to do the majority of things I enjoy at the seaside, I did manage to snatch a bit of time between competitions to explore a few rock pools and sneak in an ice cream - happy days! Isn’t seaweed slippery? I forget things like this, as I spend so much time walking on pavements in London.

However, here's another sight that banishes all unwell feelings:

Cows (particularly this breed - which should give away my trip location)

What can I tell you? I like cows. I have lived in the London area for years but I had an interesting upbringing which, believe it or not, included a stint living on a smallholding. We had a whole raft of animals and poultry (as you do), including some of this breed, so I have a really soft spot for them - it’s just how it is.

The trip seemed to be split into two distinct areas of activity – competing and spending time my team mates. The competitions were as glamourous as usual:

Facilities shipped in especially for the competitions (apparently)

My team consisted of 5 blokes aged between 19 - 30 plus 65 (I think) and me. In reality, this meant spending all time between competitions sitting somewhere with access to both beer and the Rugby World Cup (sorry, did I just yawn out loud)...zzzz.

So I knitted - much to their amusement. Apparently, according to the Collective Wisdom of My Team Blokes, knitting is a female form of 5e][u@1 self-service (if you catch my drift) and apparently purple, the colour that I am using (I did explain that it was actually ‘aubergine’, not purple but I just got back some very quizzical looks) is the colour associated with 5e][u@1 frustration.

So they discussed this odd hobby that I’d taken up, they discussed the colour of my project and they concluded that I was only knitting because I needed a good 5hag. As soon as they had reached this good humoured conclusion – the teasing stopped. It was almost like, as soon as they had rationalised the reason that I was knitting into something that they could identify with, they could get on with their beer and the rugby....

...I think that it helped that I was not rising to the bait either!

Edit: I would like to point out that this was all very good humoured and when we got up to leave, they were all mightily impressed with my progress, getting me to drape my shrug across my shoulders to see how far I had to go.

The weekend ended well: I knitted (photos to follow), I recovered (so ate loads of seafood) and I competed (no prize winning performances but nothing disgraceful either).

Actually, it ended so well that I even felt brave enough to test out whether my Denises were okay to have in my carry on bag on the way back (the airport was not as scary as Gatwick).

I walked through the metal detector and waited quietly for my bag. Security peered at it and...

...nothing. Hurray! All okay - it seems that 8mm Denises are not deemed to be dangerous objects. I quietly knitted a victory round on the journey home (all there was time for as the flight was so short)!

I will photograph my trip knit efforts this weekend for you to see. Actually, I am hoping that this weekend will enable me to unblock process on the wrap, post the bead images on my Puss in Boots project and burp out a couple of finished objects - fingers crossed!

Just 6 days to Alexandria Palace...

...happy days: enjoy your weekend!