Thursday, 28 February 2008

I simply cannot believe that... 100th blog post is about the stupid hair saga. Yet here it is.

Last night (it's Friday morning now) I was momentarily rescued from the ignominy of ginger (turned sludge by toner), black and red shades of hair. I was returned to my pre-dyed, original hair colour state by a 'colour remover'.

This is magic stuff - it does not bleach the hair, it simply removes the colour, leaving you with a slightly more porus version of your original colour. I glanced up , I saw my normal hair colour, noting that my eyebrows matched my hair colour for the first time in weeks and I heaved a massive sigh of relief.

Perfect. All that needs, I thought to myself is a few blonde streaks to distract everyone from my stray grey hairs give it definition and I am good to go.

It was not quite to be. There ensued, at great length, a debate with the colourist about colour. He kept showing me warm browns, I kept showing him natural mid-light nut browns and blondes. He took me back towards the warm browns and gingers again. We to and fro'd across the colour charts like adversaries asked to share a picnic basket. It felt like we were never going to agree.

I flicked through magazines and tried to find what I meant. I explained that I liked having some blonde in my hair and that generally, lighter hair shades made me feel happier and more confident than dark colours which generally make me look like I have a cowpat on my head pale and a bit witchy.

Well, this month folks, my hair colour (with my preferred style of blondey bits) appears to be out of fashion - not in sight on any page. Someone has filed those blonde streaks, as sported by Jennifer Aniston so long ago, under B1N. (Hair colour, not cut - please note! Picture borrowed from Hairstyles123 blog, I hope that they do not mind).

Botheration. All I needed last night was a photo of someone sporting blonde bits to lighten and brighten mid-brown hair, maybe with a mid-way colour thrown in to soften the contrast between the darker hair colour and the blondes?

How hard can it be? Hard, it seems. We argued the toss over what looked red to me (everything with even a hint of warmth, it seems). He sighed and explained that really, the magic remover could only do so much.

So while I had visions of brown hair with blonde highlights for Spring, he wanted (or needed?) to keep me in a Winter compromise - rich warm browns and gingers.

"So you want to dye my hair dark auburn red again?" I did my best to assume an aghast expression.

"No...." he trailed off, sounding uncertain.

So who won? Well, he's the colourist right?

He wields the foils, right?

On the bright side, it is not red, black and ginger - my colleagues think that it is a vast improvement.

It seems to be dark brown, with bleached bits underneath, plus some browny red that is a lot less red than the first round.

However, it is far too dark and it does makes me look a bit pale and witchy. I hope it will fade (and not into red).

My hair and I have had more than enough. We are going to retire hurt and lick our wounds. We are going to look for a new hairdresser, so that in 6-8 months time, when the disaster cut has grown out and I can see what is left of my hair after its recent chemical dosing, I can try again.

Hurrumph, pass me my knitting - I am off to sulk.

(I would show you what I am working on doing but y'know, it's not very interesting at the moment.)

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Vancouver & Ravelry Yarn Haul

It's quite a discreet acquisition of yarn really:

1) 2 skeins of Classy Dream in Colour (Cocoa Kiss and Black Parade) that the fella bought for me to create Father and Son Dashing (or similiar). So - hats, scarves and now fingerless gloves? I seem to be working my way down their bodies!

2) 4 skeins of Koigu KPPPM (reds and browns) and 1 skein of Indigo Moon sock yarn (pinks) for um, socks. YES, socks. Okay, I got a bit carried away after Dotty gave me that tiny sock lesson - so it seems that 2008 will be the year that I get to grips with DPNs (or two circulars) and sock construction, after all?

3) 3 balls of RYC Lux which I acquired via Ravelry and that I picked up from the Sorting Office, the same day that I jetted off to Vancouver - I plan to test knit another Castle Couture hat because I have made a couple of modifications to the pattern and I want to verify that they are correct.

Apologies that my blog is so slow this week but I have been suffering badly from jetlag. Last night was the first night that I managed to get to sleep before 4am. It is a very strange experience trying to operate at all, let alone function properly at work, on 2-3 hours sleep.

What I can confirm is that my heart is still very firmly here:

With this man and this yarn:

Yup, he is keeping all that Classy Dream in Colour yarn safe for me - it is destined to become a jumper for him. I know, international yarn stashing. (Not bad, eh?!)

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

On the Subject of Simple Scarves

Itchy Scratchy Noro Strikes Again
It would not be right to move on, without showing you a final image of the itchy, scratchy Noro scarf in action and as worn by its gift recipient.

Voila! In the space of one short week that scarf was gifted, admired, worn, lost, found and gentlemanly lent to me for half an hour during a walk by the ocean.

I am relieved delighted that the fella likes it and does not find it remotely itchy. I was also (I did not tell him this at the time) quietly delighted at how well it suited him.

I have to ask, do you ever find that when you gift a handknit to someone, it takes on a whole new life of its own? Somehow, ends up looking far better on your gift recipient, than it ever did on you when you modelled it for your project record?

I cite the Landscape Scarf that I made for a colleague as my other example of this in action. There is definitely something about giving something to someone and then watching them make it entirely their own by wearing it their own way.

Mind you, this Noro scarf remembers and dislikes its maker well - it seems that it harbours me a slight grudge. Possibly for dunking it in Eucalan to soften its harsh, vegetation ridden existence?

After our short walk by the ocean, I took the Noro scarf off and the fella asked, 'What's that rash around your neck?'

'What rash?'

'That purple rash, there, around your neck.' I touched my neck, I felt itchy lumps. I sighed.

'Either the Noro or the Eucalan does not like me.'

It is now about 72 hours, one plane ride and 4 showers (or so) after that ocean walk and I still sport a lumpy rash on my neck, together with what looks like a couple of blood blisters. Allergic reaction? What's that all about?!

Truly Scrumptious Man Scarf
Unfortunately, the victim gift recipient of the Truly Scrumptious Moss Man Scarf, got away without being photographed. I need my fella to step in and capture a shot of this item in action. (That is, if the subject consents to an image capture process....if so - hint, hint B - can you photograph L in his scarf, somewhere outside for me?!)

Mindless Pink Scarf (Scrumptious)
Opps, I did it again! In my defence, I worked this solely for the reason given in its name. I took two balls of bright bubble gum pink Scrumptious DK with me on the flight to Vancouver and knitted this for me to wear out and about while I was there. Worked Knit-o-matic style, while strapped into an airline seat knitting at about 31,000 feet?

Oh and yes - my 12" 8mm bamboo straights, my 14" 4mm brittney straights and some Denise circular needles all made it on board my flight with me. Thank goodness.

The colour doesn't really suit me but this scarf does complete my little family of Vancouver scarves. It is the same as the previous scarf recipe I used except this one has a moss (seed) stitch border.

It's that bright actually, that I think Army of Knitters may even approve. Sadly, the colour clashes with the hat that Mel and Robynn gave me...

...not that this has stopped me wearing them both together. Must stop that on the basis that one handknit item worn in a city context = chic. Two or more items that do not coordinate = fashion disaster of epic handknit proportions. Discuss.

Hair Update
Tonight was supposed to be my emergency hair appointment to kill the ginger-red-black error streak combo I was given before I went on holiday. However, the hairdresser was off sick. The salon owner was very interested to learn that I was there for a colour correction. I feel bad but I do want my hair colour sorted out. So next appointment, next Thursday with a different colourist. Apparently I will be subjected to colour stripping and a re-dye of the blondes and browns that I originally requested.

Apparently, it could take some time.

It sounds toxic so watch this space - a bald ORK may grace your screens shortly?

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

The Valentine Time S-t-r-e-t-c-h... a very simple exercise that every person with a Geographically Undesirable (GU) partner should indulge in, every once in a while. The Time S-t-r-e-t-c-h simply increases the romantic window of opportunity around Valentine's Day. It's a bit like having a birthday week. Or month. Or year.

So instead of a measly 24 hours to shower each other with overpriced flowers and fripperies, you stretch the whole thing out for as long as humanly possible. After all, if your other half is GU, the chances are that you will not have seen them for a while before Valentine's Day and you may not be certain when you'll see them afterwards - so why not make the best of it?!

I recommend it as I have just spent the best part of 10 days in the same time zone as my partner, blissfully free of all Skype, ad-hoc phonecalls, text messages and email. It's been wonderful. It is also why my blog has been so quiet over the past two weeks. I've not been home. Nope, I have been in Canada enjoying a Valentine Time S-t-r-e-t-c-h, as follows:

1) Tackling some slopes at Whistler and losing the daily Scrabble tournament with my partner's son.

2) Spending glorious days and evenings in and around Vancouver.

3) Taking time to catch up with both knitting and non knitting friends. This included a sneaky mini-sock knitting lesson from Dotty (just check the size difference between my mini sock and Dotty's hubby sock) and also, a coffee with Rabbitch, who was in the midst of plotting a serious quantity of Revenge, for a very good reason.

4) Stashing. You know, this trip, I did assert that I would not buy any more yarn. There have been mutterings of 'Stash Down' and 'Yarn Diet' under my roof. Do you know what? I did not purchase one single skein of yarn. Not one. Honest. Yep, there is yarn in the photograph above. Ahh, I did not buy any yarn but my fella did. Now how jealous are you feeling right now?!

I picked out 5 skeins to play with and um, he picked out 13 skeins for me to make him and his son something. Here my lovely GU partner models one of the nine skeins of Classy Dream in Colour that he particularly liked and that Dotty helped him to pick out.

I think that the colour goes well with his eyes, so I am happy - the question is: which sweater to knit? Dotty has suggested the Cobblestone Pullover (a great choice) but I would like to offer him a choice of a few patterns, so he feels that he has had input?

5) Romancing and being romanced. Well, you can hardly have a Valentine Time S-t-r-e-t-c-h without it, eh? What? You mean that it is not usual to use raw new potatoes as the basis of a romantic heart candle display...? Pah, so I shouldn't mention the two small skull and crossbones and four Catapaulted Cupids either?! Nor the fact that there is a half made Ikea chair in the background plus the fact that if you have any idea about my sport, there is something in this photo that would make you laugh out loud.

Sadly, my Valentine Time S-t-r-e-t-c-h ended this morning.

I discovered myself back in London after a long night strapped into a seat, next to a surly globe-trotting teenager without the ability to control her airline issue pillow or blanket and without a clear understanding of individual aircraft seat boundaries. Bless her oversized, shaggy airline bed socks, baggy clothing, plethera of magazines, PC, shoes, books, discarded sweets and crisps wrappers. Ugh.

Actually, it feels as though I have spent ten days attached to an overextended length of elastic and have found myself whipped back home involuntarily because I accidentially lost my footing on a wet Vancouver pavement yesterday evening.

During take off, I am usually settled in my seat, happy in the knowledge that I am headed out on a specific jouney or returning to the familiarity and reassurance of home. Last night, as the plane accelerated down the runway in Vancouver, my head conjured up 'Home' and I felt a bit confused - I had to smother this very peculiar, rising feeling that if I was going home, I was headed the wrong direction. Hmm.

So now I face the aftermath of my Valentine Time S-t-r-e-t-c-h:
  • jetlag
  • unpacking
  • catching up at work
  • trying not to miss my fella too much.

Something tells me that this could be the trickiest part.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Storm Water Scarf - Two Weeks Later...

...and I have slowly progressed my way through 23 inches of this piece. It looks like I have barely made a dent in the skein. So I am probably only a 1/3rd of the way through?

I have not used Handmaiden Seasilk before and it is beautifully soft and light. Not to forget that the colour is glorious. People on the train keep commenting on how lovely it is.

I must say that I am finding it quite splitty to work with. (I guess that I need sharper lace needles?) Once split, it doesn't seem to go back into shape. I am hoping that this will resolve itself when I block it.

Can anyone let me know what their experience of this yarn is in terms of splitting / getting it back into shape?

The Storm Water (otherwise known as Midwest Moonlight) scarf pattern is very repetitive to work so I was not surprised to read elsewhere that others have struggled to keep up enough energy to complete their projects.

Actually, I am caught between wondering whether I am knitting something that will get lots of wear, as a discreet, regular lace pattern, or whether the overall effect leans perilously close to a rather staid granny look.

Hmm. I am focusing firmly on this being a little wispy something to dress up a work suit during the Spring.

Sharp, not staid, Sharp, not staid!

Now, you might not see much of this scarf (or hear a lot from me) during the course of February as I have my head down on a different project.

I promised to work on my Castle Couture Wrap in February - so I am.

I will keep you updated when I can and also, this project may still accompany me on some train rides when I am at points where I can only work on the wrap at home.

P.S. Hair Update: the hairdresser accepted that the colour at the front of my head was a lot more golden (ginger) than she'd expected.

So she has put toner on it. Actually she put on two. The ginger laughed off the first batch, so she used a second, darker toner over the top. She has told me to pop back into the salon in a few days to see how it's doing and she's offered me a free wash and blow dry.

It's hasn't done much good actually. It sort of looks like ginger that someone has painted, a thin layer of watery dark brown watercolour paint over - I now look like I took a cheap packet of supermarket brown dye to my head and its taken oddly: patchy black, red and sludge. How long with the toner last before the ginger blasts back through at full strength, I wonder? Sigh.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

How to solve a bad hair problem...

...with a little help from good friends!

Namely Yogic Knitter and Robynn, who took pity on me yesterday and donated a knit to save my brain (and the eyesight of anyone else looking in my general direction).

Shh, it's a test knit (keep an eye on Robynn's Purlescence website). Now I have only taken this hat off in order to go to bed in the past 24 hours. So do you think that I can show up like this to all my work meetings this week, until I have got 'the light ginger bit' resolved by the salon?!

Luckily, I have recovered my sense of humour - the cut'll grow out. It may even look reasonable in about 6-8 months time. Which is roughly how long it will take me to be driven back through a hairdressers door by split ends and diabolical roots after this latest incident.

I just cannot deal with that little bright orange bit at the front. So I am going to have to tackle the salon tomorrow morning.

Here it is in daylight, glued to my head with hair mousse (which seems to have darkened it down a little), so that the 'half fringe' stays off my face.

Face to face feedback on my colour and cut so far this weekend has included:

'Hmm, it's not too bad.' Polite grown up friends.

'The colour's far too dark - it doesn't suit you.' Fashionable 15 year old daughter of a friend, looking up from tv programme, when asked by her mother what she thought.

'What's Gabrielle done to her hair?!' 12 year old boy, who spotted my blog over his mother's shoulder.

'Oh my god, why is your hair black and what is that orange skunk stripe at the front of your hair?!' Unprompted opinion of honest friend and neighbour. Which she followed with,

'How come's they've chopped half your hair away on one side at the front?! It's all lopsided!'

Well after her first comment, I took my scrunchie out and pulled the cut down around my face for her to see the cut and show her how I was told to style (wear) it over my face.

It took her about 5 minutes to control her laughter.

Mind you, as she is only just recovering from her own self inflicted, home root regrowth kit disaster (apparently, the top of her head went the colour of lemon curd last week, resulting in two trips to two different hair dressers to recover the situation at great cost), I can see why someone elses's hair hiccup may have made her day!

See? Here in London, hair disasters are just rife. A fact of life.

'No big deal at all', she says reaching for her hat (again).

Friday, 1 February 2008

Argghh - what is it with hairdressers?!

Despite my best efforts at communication, I've been scalped by a salon and put through a strange series of dye pots.

I must confess that I really do hate going to the hairdressers - I consider it worse (and far more traumatic) than going to the dentist.

Actually, I like my dentist, old enough to be my father, nose and ear hair and all - he's just one of the loveliest men on earth. Whereas hairdressers? They just ignore me and leave me beached on the desert island of bad cuts and hair colours that do not suit me...

...without any music, knitting or even a book to read.

What sort of makes it worse, is that when I got taken to a proper hairdressers as a child, it was such a treat - a real haircut. I still carry that feeling of excitement and hope with me to the hairdressers each time I go. It is just so cruel when it is dashed against the cruel snip of scissors and rattle of tin foil.

You know me by now right? I am not complicated. I'm casual about my hair - it is scraped back for everyday, then worn down and straightened for social occasions, usually containing a bit of lighter colour to stop the hair on my head resembling a cowpat, like so:

Very simple - very straightforward. So WHY, especially with my input (gained from years of bitter experience) would a hairdresser go ahead and do this to me?

Black, dark auburn and a few stripes of a very light, vivid red.

I'm not sure whether the atrocity that now adorns my head is just BIG HAIR or bad hair. I guess that I need to put my head in a bucket and then see how (if) it calms down over the weekend?

What I do know is that I have been given a hairstyle that I will never be able to achieve on my own, even if I wanted to. Actually, that is lucky as I-do-not-want-to-look-like-this-again.

I know my own hair - it kinks and frizzes. So I know that it is going to do its very own bad hair thing all on its own, every day - from now until this thing on my head grows out.

The hairdresser used one of those big cylinder brushes. I have to confess that I gulped when I saw that come out (as I prefer my hair flat and straighened) but I thought (as I'd flinched at the colour when the towel came off) that I'd better see what 'her vision' of the overall effect was.

Truth be told, I may even wail a bit tonight. Then, if I cannot shift my woebegone, upset aspect by Monday, then I will have to call the salon and see if they can put the worst bit of it right for me.

The worst bit?

Well, that will be the very light, vivid reddish blonde blob, right at the front of my head - right against my scalp/hairline.

You cannot see it in the first photo because the hairdresser carefully blow dried the darker layer of hair over it.

In terms of the colour, I think that my comment when the towel came off was (in horror), "That bit at the front is very bright light red, isn't it?"

Apart from it just looking very strange, the regrowth is going to look absolutely foul within about 3 weeks?

Now apparently, I should sweep the 'half fringe' I have been given right across my face, particularly if I am going out glam and socialising?

Apparently this light ginger-blonde is supposed to 'show through' the darker over-fringe bit?

I am not convinced. I don't get to be glam and socialise much. Also, this evening, I twice almost walked into oncoming pedestrians and a road sign, walking across Waterloo Bridge because I could not see them through the glamourous half fringe (not kidding) plus...

...who the flippity flip, gives a floppedy, flying duck about blow drying a sodding overfringe at 6am? I defy you to do it - I defy you to care on a work day, let alone on a rare going out occurance.

Me: shower, wash hair, out shower, scrape back hair, apply scrunchie, dress and go.

Ok, this is my hair after I have used straighteners on it, to kill the big hair and see what the cut is really like.

Before you ask:

- yes, I did ask the lady not to give me any short layers. So why do I see short bits and a whole section of hair missing on one side?

I forecast in-home hair styling disaster.

- yes, I did tell the lady that my hair was far too long (down to my bra strap, as a colleague informed me today). In fact, I don't mind the new, overall shoulder length of it but...what the hell did she do to the front?

- yes, I did tell the lady that I wanted a half head of highlights. Yes, we discussed the fact that the colour on my head was not great, being 50% bleach and 50% tomato sauce stripes with a good 3" or so of roots and yes, I agreed that a semi permanent to tone down the sections of hair in between the foils might be a good idea to make the contrast between the bleach-3" roots look less obvious. The hairdesser described the colours that she was going to apply, as warmer. I thought that would be okay, thinking golds and light browns, as bleach is too stark on my hair. Um, so where did I sign up for black, dark auburn and bright, vivid, light red...?!

Am I alone here? Does anyone else struggle with making themselves understood to hairdressers?

They seem to ignore me (with a canny instinct of knowing that I am too embarassed to make a fuss before leaving the shop) or they think that they know better, what is better for me.

Despite the fact that I have lived with this particular head, and its diabolical hair disasters, for 37 years.

I just hope that my fella will still think me pretty on Valentines Day, despite looking like a hair model fashion victim....sigh.

Edited to add: what is considered a decent brand of hair straighteners in Canada?! My UK ones don't work as they require all 220 volts to operate (I have discovered).