Thursday, 30 August 2007
I started working this top back in May. I finished it in early June (I think) but somehow, I got daunted by the job of sewing it together.
So it sat. And sat. And sat. I finally started to sew it up on the 7th August, during a train journey back from a business meeting in Sheffield. Two hours and I managed to set in 1.5 sleeves.
It got put aside again.
Until I realised that the gift recipient was about to hit the target age for the top!
So the final push has been this week.
Two round commutes sorted the rest of the sewing up, plus its buttons.
I just really hope that it fits and that the gift recipient's mother likes it!
The summary of photos for this top can be found in my Flickr photostream, Finished Objects set.
Phew. Onwards to the next item.
Have a good weekend all - I won't be knitting. I will be running a Championship and competing.
Friday, 24 August 2007
What is lovely is that I feel like I am making steady progress. When I cast off a part of a garment, lay it out and see its shape - I think that it all feels that little bit more tangible. It's given me a real boost. I am enjoying this as a project, a knit. It's interesting enough to keep me engaged but regular enough that I am not fussing over the instructions every row.
Also, in stark contrast to my Anthony Gormley High Brow Art moment.
I bet we've all seen the film already but...
....c'mon, look at them, all gi-normous on their brooms...
....how can you possibly resist the allure...
Just think of the B-I-G glasses of wine we could have somewhere with our knitting on the South Bank either before or afterwards...
...I know just the place with good wine and a B-I-G communual table too.
Come on, you know you want to...?!
Tuesday, 21 August 2007
- 17 pairs of casual trousers, including jeans
- 11 pairs of work trousers
- 9 work skirts
- 4 dresses
- 3 jackets
- 13 work/going out tops
- 4 jumpers
- 37 t-shirts (vest, short & long sleeved)
Oh, there are about 8 skirts, 2 dresses, a top and 5 pairs of trousers on my 'at risk' register too.
What is this list? Well, I do not like to make a big thing of my weight or the weight loss programme that I have been following this year as my blog is supposed to be about my knitting, not me. Weight and dieting seem to be quite contentious in blogland. I have seen some very supportive sites, read some people's accounts of their efforts to control their weight, or come to terms with it. I have also seen some horrendous, cruel comments left by people as well. I had no intention of opening myself up to that kind of attack and anyway, my weight and my size is a very personal matter - it is for me to decide what size and weight I comfortable being and act accordingly.
So what is this list? It is the catalogue of items that are now two sizes+ bigger than my current size that I packed into black binliners this evening. I need to think through how best to dispose of them: charity shop, carboot sale, recycle centre?
I reached the point where I open my wardrobe and found myself unable to find anything to wear, even though the blooming thing appears to burst at the seams with clothing!
So my friend and ex-colleague Carol (Landscape Scarf gift recipient) came over on Sunday to be firm with me. The objective: to put a spoke in the wheel of my previous weight loss-gain cycle.
I have always joked about having a wardrobe divided into three: Thin / Medium / Fat - I am fairly sure that I am not alone here?! Usually, I just cycle through the sizes - when I get too big for one size, I sigh and pull on the next size up.
This time, the plan is to vanish the Fat end of my clothing completely, keep the Medium while I work on the last bit I need to lose to reach my goal weight, then work out what size my body settles into and prune again, as necessary.
Okay, I confess, I broke my diet on Sunday, as Carol and I slugged back a fair bit of prosecco in the process of trawling through my wardrobe which, as it turned out, harboured a number of crimes against fashion that had Carol clutching her sides with mirth..!
"What's that?!" she shrieked as she caught sight of my splendidly dire and dated brown suede tassle jacket from the mid eighties (acquired with pride on the Kings Road, no less).
I was allowed to retain that as a slice of fashion history but some of my less notable (often sales mistakes) were treated less kindly. Sometimes, all it took was a quirk of the eyebrow for me to add to the reject pile.
You see, the other part of the prune objective was, "Okay, it might fit you again...but what year were you last this size?!"
As we discovered, I still have clothes that date back to my teens - so if I wear them now, will people bleat, "Mutton, mutton," quietly at me as I pass them on the street?!
You know, it hurt to let some of those items go - yet what are the chances of me EVER wearing a tight, sheer, stretchy silver metalic t-shirt again? Oh, some memories of good times disappeared into the reject pile on Sunday evening!
Also, are Capri trousers from 2000, still getawayable with in 2007? (The answer was an emphatic no, by the way. It seems that in 2000, we all wore trousers in the same way as Simon Cowell - a bit high!)
By the end of the process, Carol declared that I must not be allowed out to shop for clothes on my own ever again - as 96% of my wardrobe seems to be black - with the odd flash of something very bright, metallic, shiny or patterned or see through (or all of that together) thrown in. I suspect that Carol thinks that I have absolutely no style...opps!
So how does this link to anything knitting related? Well, my poor phyllo yoked pullover is languishing, neglected in my Namaste Messenger bag - its current home. It is done, all the way up to the lace yoke but I got distracted by the baby ballerina wrap and stopped working on it.
As I have lost weight, I have lost all motivation to finish it - that is, unless I want to knit it straight off my needles and into a black bin liner.
I started knitting it at chest size 48", now I am knitting the shaped lace tee in chest size 38".
Don't get me wrong - I am delighted to be within sight of my recommended B.M.I - however, I do feel awful about the phyllo, as it is probably the closest I have ever got to finishing a full sized garment for myself. This being the case, I am not quite ready to frog it and, although the Calmer is great to work with, I have to say that I cannot face ripping it out and reknitting it in a smaller size.
I have thought about this (blogged about it in fact) but I don't particularly want to finish it, just to give it away either. I think that whoever I gave it to, would know that it was not knitted specifically for them and that it's being passed on because I am lucky enough to be a bit smaller than usual for me, right now.
No one wants a gift from a friend that says, "I thought of you when I finished this, as I think that you might be a bit chubbier than me?" Even if they did not think that, I would worry that they would think that.
So it seems that I need to add the Phyllo-Yoked Pullover to my general Fat clothes quandry.
Not sure how comfortable I will feel, posting these here - they may stick or I may pull them within minutes/hours!
I was a bit camera shy earlier this year. However I think this snap of me attempting to dive out of the frame should be enough for you to see how my weight had maxed out.
This other snippet is me a couple of weeks ago. The difference between the two photos is about 57 lbs? At last weigh-in, I had another 18lbs left to go. I am trying to remain focused but it is tough going.
Then, once it is off, the next challenge? Keep it off. Forever.
After all - I like being able to knit smaller garment sizes: fewer stitches, less outlay for yarn and overall, less work - gosh, it makes all sorts of things seem more achievable!
Monday, 20 August 2007
Last night, I appealed to have my Flickr account status reset to Public/Safe, just on the basis that the images it contains of male metal nudes are simply a part of an exhibit of art in a public space (central London). It has been reset, I have been thanked for moderating my photographs (um...I didn't change anything) and I have been reminded to keep in line with community guidelines in future!
Okay, so if you are interested, I suggest that you go have a look quickly - just in case they decide to review my account and deem it Unsafe again!
To warn you in advance, my slidesets do show some images of Anthony Gormley's statutes. His work is predominately based on his own body: fully detailed metal and lead casts of his body, in fact.
So if you are of a sensitive constitution, I don't suggest that you access this link while tucking into your morning cereal. If you think that you might be offended by lifesize, unclothed iron casts of an artist, I recommend that you pass on the links entirely and think yourself very lucky not to have visited central London this summer!
Saturday, 18 August 2007
As soon as I do anything else or am somewhere other than on a train, it just doesn't seem to occur to me to pick up my needles.
I am hoping that this explains (to me) why I failed to knit a single stitch on holiday. No knitting on holiday yet, as soon as I was on the train back to work, out came my needles and off I set, as though I had been working on my project the day before (and not 2.5 weeks before).
This week, I have been working on the Knitting Lingerie Style Shaped Lace Tee and progress has been a bit slower than I hoped! Rather than cross post, I have posted about it here.
Otherwise it's been a quiet week for knitting, Dee has sent me through a photo of my yarn for the full Puss in Boots wrap (oh, it looks lovely) and I am hoping that the actual yarn will be with me on Monday. So this weekend, in preparation, I need to finalise the pattern templates.
(And sew up the Baby Ballerina Wrap...I am I am, I promise! Photographic evidence shortly.)
However, I did go to the Anthony Gormley exhibition at last. Just before it closed with all of the other last minute merchants from all across London (there were plenty of us too)! In fact, we were all so late getting to the exhibition that we knew that we couldn't really grumble about the fact that they had sold out of all the decent postcards. As a result, we all queued patiently to buy the overpriced exhibition catalogue (I winced, thinking of all the knitting books I want right now) and bought various man shaped knick knacks!
To share this very rare moment of extreme, high brow artiness (cough), I have uploaded two sets of pictures to Flickr:
- A selection of the photos that I took at the exhibition (until a nice lady told me that I wasn't allowed to take photos inside, only outside); and
- A collection of cameraphone snaps that I have taken over the summer - they are of the Anthony Gormley statutes on and around Waterloo Bridge. This may help to explain why I have really enjoyed the statues being there, why I discovered there was no need for me to put myself out by knitting the statues a cozy pink pair of angora knickers and also, why I will miss them terribly when they are gone!
I hope that you enjoy them!
Saturday, 11 August 2007
This is where I feel I need to say that, I know it's not much: it is small, the patio is a disgrace and trust me - I know that I have a very ugly shed.
Furthermore, I realise that my garden is not a particularly tranquil place.
"What?," I hear you cry, "A garden - not a tranquil place to knit?!"
Well, you see, where I live....
....planes* fly overhead every two minutes between 5am and midnight. No exaggeration.
Sadly, this picture is not zoomed. I did like concorde but I am glad it doesn't fly overhead anymore - that was a real conversation stopper.
Also, a pub car park** squats over the back wall.
But hey, despite these setbacks, I do not really mind. I like my garden because it is home to my plants.
You know, I am not sure why I am sharing this - I think that I felt self conscious about my garden when I took pictures of Megan out here the other evening - it looked distinctly neglected.
Actually, it still does but at least it is looking a little neater now.
None of the following pictures match the text, by the way - as chaotic as my planting!
I have left the Aqueligia plants where they have self seeded between the patio slabs but I have tidied up the foxgloves as I have plenty of seedlings in the borders too.
I used to be afraid of foxgloves when I was little because they were poisonous.
I used to come across them, great tall things with dappled flowers, in shady dells or glens and I would edge respectfully past them - that is, until I saw the bees that happily trundle in and out of them without any mishap.
So I have them in my garden now, along with a lot of honeysuckle, because both remind me of my childhood.
To this day, I doubt that there is anything, that really competes with walking unexpectedly through the scent of wild honeysuckle.
None of the garden varieties that I grow smell anything close - not to mention the fact that they prefer to flowering on the other side of the fence, so I never get to see or smell them either - ungrateful things!
Generally, I stopped growing annuals and bulbs the last time that hosepipe bans were imposed in London which coincided with me having less time to garden.
So the last few years have been about keeping the important shrubs and perennials alive.
While this has meant less contunity of flowering and colour (very important in a small space), I am still proud of the plants that have overcome my sparodic watering efforts and survived anyway.
Take my peonies, roses and this this dinnerplate dahlia, for example - it never gets lifted and it comes back every year as glorious as the last.
I am very lucky that all these things like where they are planted.
That said, my garden is scattered with accidents as I have a terrible habit of rescuing plants from garden centres, 90% dead and nursing them back to life. Or things that seem like such an unmissable bargain at the end of their season (usually 75% off, with the tag missing) and I have no idea what horror I have unleashed on my carefully thought out small space until they burst into action the following year.
Yet, I quite like those accidents. Sometimes things look better when they evolve organically, rather than being thought out to the nth degree. I doubt that would ever have chosen to buy an orange patio standard rose if it hadn't been so cheap (and looked like it was red in its photo) but it has cheerfully (and relentlously) expoded into minature colour every year for the past four years!
As a result, I have introduced some plants in colours that make it look a little more like it is supposed to be there...!
Like I said, it's not much but I do care about my plants and I do enjoy my garden.
* * * * *
*Planes: my mother flinches every time she comes to visit, thinking that the planes are about to drop onto her head. Like oversized troublesome hornets plopping out of a nest.
**Pub Car Parks: very illuminating living next door to one. People will conduct their affairs in them, believing themselves out of earshot of others.
I have heard language over the past nine years that has even made me, a jaded Londoner, blush.
And that is saying something.
Partners confront each other in furious whispers and/or at full volume unacceptable behaviour, grievances, infidelities and levels of inebriation.
Some individuals make arrangements to hook up later with mistresses, mates and aquaintances with recreational substances (just as soon as they can jettison their current company) and failing anything else for entertainment, I can always count on the pub's resident alsation to bark and keep me company. Endlessly.
Oh and right on cue, out beyond the wall...woof!
I don't watch any tv soaps. I do not need to as, trust me, it is all going on very colourfully over the end of my garden wall.
It's enough to challenge the plants, themselves.
Friday, 10 August 2007
I have given Katherine a prod with the business end of my Lantern Moons and the results of the Puss in Boots wrap yarn and stitch auditions have been posted at last.
See Roobeedoo? I have been knitting!
A Tale of the Summer Sales
Just before I went on holiday...I went to the sales. Just at John Lewis. Actually Mel and I were there at 9am on the first day of their sale. I have never done that before.
I was so grown up and reserved - I felt inwardly proud. I have been burnt at the sales before and I have yarn that I may never knit as a result.
So I was strong. I didn't get anything I didn't need - no impulse buys. I put Cathay in my basket, I put it back. I got some yarn for one of my future Puss in Boots knits, picked up some Big Wool, then spent the next hour placing balls of yarn in and out of my basket while it felt (to me) that Mel stacked hers with beautiful things.
I wondered why I hadn't spotted the things that she had found but I congratulated her and agreed that she would do wonderful things with them (and she will too). I admit, I felt the slightest twinge of envy when the pinky-lavender Alpaca-Silk DK went into her basket along with some co-ordinating silk. I ignored it. I was strong. In fact, I only bought the Cathay book on the basis that it had some patterns in it that would be good for my Jaegar DK silk.
We departed John Lewis. Mel excitedly showed off her purchases in the car. I was glad that I was driving. My 14 balls of mauve Big Wool (no idea why I bought that many) were unable to compete with the delicious lustre of some of her yarns.
I went home. I looked at the Cathay book. I had placed enough of it in my basket to do any of the patterns in the book. It had only been £1.60 a ball. I felt that twinge of regret again. Oh well. It knits on small needles, I would never finish anything that knits on anything that small. The DK silk is a big enough journey.
I went to work. Monday...Tuesday...and I could not bear it anymore.
I jumped on a bus to John Lewis in Oxford Street after work. I spent an hour, fussing over the odds and sods left in reasonable colours. The same colours that I had placed in and out of my basket in copious quantities on the previous Saturday - here I was, 3 days or so into the sale and not enough of anything for anything.
I sighed. I bought them anyway (reason had left me).
So in the end, I am thinking that I might have got burnt at the sales again anyway...?
Damn. Please tell me that it is not just me who falls into this trap.
My Sales Haul (my mojo was in the red-blue part of the colour spectrum)
Rowan Big Wool - 14 Balls - more than enough for a single project = a sales triumph?!
DB Cathay - 11 Balls - enough for one of the patterns in the book. Hmm, not sure that I'd either wear or knit it but hey, I got enough for a project - a semi-sales triumph?
DB Cashmerino Superchunky - 9 Balls - think that I have found a pattern that I use this yarn as a substitute in Glamour Knits.
Disaster averted? Yet I need to buy an expensive book.
Not a sales success even if aubergine is one of my favourite colours. No really...I mean one of my favourite colours.
DB Cotton Cashmere - 9 Balls - I had a Knitting Lingerie pattern in mind...hmm...see below.
General Knitting Update
The good news is that I have started to sew up the Baby Ballerina Wrap. I know, at last. It's the one thing that I should be able to do ok, right?!
After all it's knitted. It is lucky that I knitted size 6-9 months but it less good that September is the start month of month 6?
Okay, yes - I am ashamed. I have shown the bits to the gift recipient's mother who said, 'Well, now I have seen it, I am going to start hassling you otherwise she will have grown out of it by the time that you finish it.' My friend has a point.
The slightly less great news is that the Debbie Bliss Cotton Cashmere is proving too thick to knit the lacy t-shirt from the Knitting Lingerie book.
If I am honest, my tension square suggests that it would be more like wearing armour plating than dainty lingerie. I am struggling to get the correct gauge and the swatch that I have knitted? The only word that comes to mind is 'armadillo'.
It's not a good sign.
It's a shame as I am waiting for yarn my my Puss in Boots wrap and knitters on the Knitting Lingerie Knitalong are declaring that they finished this t-shirt in a week. If that is the case, this project would fit between now and my yarn arrival...?
Oh...do you think that these knitters work on their projects for more than an hour a day?
Hmm - well, even if they do not, that's what I plan to say at the end of week when my armadillo project languishes unfinished on my needles and they are headed out on a Saturday night wearing their finished and beautifully sewn up project!
If this sale yarn project dwindles on my needles because I cannot get the yells of 'armadillo' out of my head, does anyone have any sensible ideas for 800m of Debbie Bliss cotton cashmere?!
Wednesday, 8 August 2007
I am looking at her now. Interestingly, Meg hails from an era where ladies were slim. Although I have lost 53 pounds (in weight, not through financial carelessness) over the last 6 months, I have pushed Meg to the very outermost limit if her capacity, to approximate my curent dimensions.
You know, at last, I feel swatched out - I really need and want to start on the real thing, even though I love my unruly swatch, truly I do. In fact, today, to stop me carrying on with my swatching, I cast on a tension square for something in the Knitting Lingerie book and took that on the train with me into work.
If you would like to see more on the yarn auditions and the endless swatching that I seem to have done lately - please keep an eye on Katherine Laarzen (Puss in Boots blog), over the next day or so! The photos are taken but life and work seem to conspire against me, so I just need a bit of time to organise and upload them.
Sunday, 5 August 2007
This little bit of the internet is my main blog but I have another one...two...okay, three if you include the one I maintain as part of my sporting responsibilities.
I have three knitting blogs. This is to keep information on my general knitting exploits separate to two specific knitting projects that I am working on - so if things are quiet here, it may be that I am working on one of my knitting projects. I have added links to my two knitting projects on this blog so you can check up on progress (and harass me for updates, if necessary).
In fairness, progress across all three knitting areas of my life is slow at the moment.
In part this is because my time between Spring and Autumn is at a real premium due to my sport. On top of a full time job and a pretty full individual sport schedule, I am halfway through a three year Club captaincy. This requires me to organise and run 4 individual events, 12-14 team matches each year plus the Club's annual Championship.
Also, I knit very slowly. I named this blog 'Rare Knits' - not because I think that my knitting is any good - it is just after a joky discussion with someone I was making a present for. They chuckled at my slow progress and suggested that they would need to treasure it on receipt as it might become valuable after my death (as a very rare O[my surname] produced item).
So everything I have produced since, has gone out with an O.R.K. label attached - that specifies how long it took to produce, where I knitted it and how to care for it (to increase the chance of it surviving until after my demise)!
So what are my O.R.K. Knitting Projects?
I loved the idea of Robynn's Purlescence Storytellers competition and I really wanted to put an entry in for Alice in Wonderland. However, I hadn't done anything that creative since leaving college.
It happened to be a week before the Puss in Boots deadline. So I thought: pull your finger out, dry run! There followed a week of manic typing, cutting, sticking, sample knitting (roped in Mel for an evening of this!) and staying up far too late, generally having a huge amount of fun. My house looked like a whirlwind had hit it.
Occasionally my brother (who was staying with me at the time) would pop his head around the door, look at me up to my armpits in paper and glue, shake his head, laugh, pour me another glass of red wine and retreat to the front room to watch TV.
I decided to submit my entry under a pen name, just on the basis that I didn't know whether it was any good or not and then I could watch what happened to it from afar, without any embarassment! Yup, really...so, if you stick the name 'Katherine Laarzen' (well, 'Kat' for short) into Altavista's Babelfish, it should translate from the Dutch as 'Cat Boots'.
To my surprise and great delight, my Kat Laarzen entry won...which actually put me in a real quandry, as I had geared up to put in my 'proper entry' for Alice in Wonderland the following month and wasn't sure that it would be appropriate if I had already won Puss in Boots.
I'd even ordered a copy of the book from Amazon, drawn some 'after Tenniel' illustrations for my story (Mel's five year old daughter posed as my model) plus I had popped into the V&A museum to photograph and draw some of their victorian dresses - I just could not bear not to submit my entry!
I thought that it was only fair to let Robynn know that Kat and I were one and the same person. So we discussed it and again...
...my house took on its post whirlwind persona, my brother holed himself up in the front room and kept my wine glass topped up...
...and typically, my 'real entry' didn't do as well as my dry run entry - I probably tried too hard!
You know what though? I had the most amazing time creating my entry and despite not winning, I would still like to explore and develop my Alice ideas, once I have finished work on some of my Puss in Boots ones. So I have set up a placeholder blog for it. It may be some time before I get to it - but I will get to it. Definitely.
In terms of progress on my Puss in Boots designs, you will need to read Kat's 'Laarzen Knits' blog! Oddly, I do sort of think of Kat as a separate person (goodness knows what that says about my psyche).
It was part of my entry brief to myself to give myself something new to learn and experiment with for each design . I started out by working on the Puss in Boots Castle Couture hat, as I had not really used circular needles in a project before.
Now I am working on the Castle Couture summer wrap. My personal design challenge for this piece was how to achieve (either actually or visually) directional knitting...this has evolved to help me meet two of my other, general personal knitting objectives this year: lace and beading.
I will post more about my yarn quandry and stitch / swatching progress on Kat's blog shortly.
Well, good - glad that's out in the open - less blog creeping about!