Sunday, April 30, 2006

Knitting Slows Down Your Biological Clock....

and we're not talking about having babies! All our lives, from the moment we are born, our biological clocks are ticking, counting down to that moment when, pooofff-we are no more. What if we could slow down these ratbag clocks? Well, according to good old Deepak Chopra, we can! Our bodies and their biological functions respond to the experience of time. We have our own personal biological clocks, which respond to our personal experience of time. And the experience of the passing of time is subjective - if we are always in a hurry, time speeds up, if we feel we have all the time in the world, time slows down. BUT during times when we enter into the gap between thoughts (usually when we're doing something we are really engaging in, ie. knitting) time stops (biologically). Time is a subjective experience in consciousness and that subjective experience translates into a biological experience in the body. Phew! Did you ever need a better reason to get those needles clicking? It will help keep you young and add years to your life.

So, to ensure that I'm really slowing the old bio-clock down, I've started another project - koigu socks. The stitch pattern is from this and I used Sensational Knitted Socks for the sizing etc.. I originally started knitting the sock straight from the Knitty pattern, although I was suspicious about the meagre amount of stitches to cast on. Turns out I was right. Got as far as turning the heel and nearly cut my blood-supply off trying to get it on. Had to start again. Good grief. So instead of 44 sts, I've cast on 112 and then k2tog all the way round, making 56 sts, for a lovely stretchy cast-on. Probably wear them with mules in the summer. I'll obviously get away with it as I'll only be about fourteen years old by then......

Friday, April 28, 2006

Yes, Yyesss, Yyyeesssssss!

Look! Ella is finished. In case you hadn't guessed - ILOVEHERILOVEHERILURVEHER....Why? Well, I think my feelings are magnified due to the fact that I didn't expect to. When I bought the yarn, the colourway choices were limited to three, so I chose the one I disliked least (not good). And when the yarn arrived, I still wasn't sure about the colour combination - orange, purple, pink and grey (although when I say it now, it sounds okay). I started knitting and the yarn was splitty and a bit loosely woven (don't know the technical term for it, but the strands that made up the yarn were hardly twisted together) and these things were bugging me. The other thing was that shawls are meant for grannies (that's not really fair to grannies. My mother-in-law is 74 and she is one of the most beautiful and cool people I know). But you know what I mean. Anyway, how wrong I was! I can't tell you exactly how pleased I am with this shawl, but these are the reasons that I am:

It doesn't need the slightest bit of encouragement to "stay on". You just drape it over your shoulders and it stays there.

From the front it looks like a lacey, floaty cardigan and the bits that hang over the arms fan out slightly and look gorgeous. I haven't really managed to catch that in the photos.

It looks great with little summer tops (fab, actually) or any old jumper.

I do love the colours and it doesn't curl at the edges after all (well, not really).

I loved knitting it and am now almost bereft without it on my needles. Going to start another as soon as Get Knitted has the stock, maybe in the next ten days.

So, here are the details:

Knitted from this pattern, with the 6mm circs (not the 5mm lots of people used). Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport in Irving Park colourway x 3.5 skeins. This stuff is lovely to wind into balls, without tangling, not once. I didn't have a clear space large enough to block it properly with pins, so I put it on the floor on a big towel, sprayed it with water and, stretching it by kneeling on one part and pulling at another with my free hand, I ironed it on the hottest setting - risky, but it worked great. I wouldn't do this to a proper garment, though. Louisa Harding says you should always steam before sewing together the component parts of a garment, but that's just scary. However, the difference before blocking Ella, and after is amazing. The fabric drapes beautifully now and the lace has really opened up.

Suppose I'd better get going on my daria belt and Nick's sock....harrumph. Oh, but tomorrow I should have some beautiful Debbie Bliss Maya in pale blues coming my way, to knit the Woolly Wormhead Beret like Frankie's. Hope it comes out as good as hers did....

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Good Vs Evil

Well, this is supposed to be a quickie post, but if I can keep to that, it will be a miracle. Speaking of which - look at this divine, divine, gorgeous, angel-breath yarn..........

It's Fyberspates laceweight mohair, which I ordered from Get Knitted (a completely fab company, with friendly staff and efficient service and they always send lollipops and pens and tissue paper). The colourway is Liquorice and I'm really quite in love with it. After it arrived and was sat there on the table, looking all innocent and beguiling, I thought, "no, you're going into my bag with the rest of the stash. I've got three projects on the go and you can stop looking at me like that". But it was so persistently gorgeous and fluffy, I had to give in. Of course, with this hand-dyed stuff you have to wind it into a ball first. I'm used to that now, but this was something else - about 450 yards of sewing-cotton thin yarn in one skein. At first I thought that it would be really difficult and if it got tangled, well, that would be the end of it. But it wound so smoothly and perfectly and the colours were so beautiful, I was enraptured.

Only thing is, I bought it to make a laceweight version of Ella but after knitting the first 24 rows I knew that It would be too flimsy, like wearing candyfloss - what's the point? And you really have to concentrate when you're knitting with this, as it's not just fine, but ultra fluffy, too. This makes it difficult to see the stitches. Anyway, I knitted up a couple of gauge-test pieces and decided I prefer it on smaller needles (3.25mm) and in plain st st. So I've cast on 130 stitches and am attempting a plain and simple jumper - no shaping, nothing (because I don't know how). It worked for the Lanartus, so on a wing and a prayer - here goes.......!

You know those lollipops that come with the yarn? I was in a hurry the other day and unwrapped one and popped it into my bag to suck in the car (I unwrapped it first so that Charles wouldn't hear the paper rustling and then want one-he's too young). Anyway, was having a really good suck, took it out of my mouth to say something to OH and happened to glance down and thought "Oh, I wonder what all those little black bits are-odd." Then I realised I'd been sucking ANTS. Loads of them. More of them than I've actually seen in the house. And they were all squashed and mangled. I was nearly sick (from laughing).

Monday, April 24, 2006

How Does One Know if One is Becoming Crazy?

Well, to be more specific, how would I know if I was going crazy, or if my brain was just a bit worn out and run down? I suppose if I was really losing my mind I might go to the supermarket with my knickers worn on the outside, or I might start singing "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" at the top of my voice, in the public library. I don't do either of those, but is this the run-up to it? There is enough evidence to have the men-in-white-coats put me under surveillance, just in case I'm a danger to the public: The other night I actually asked the cat to go to Nick's office (upstairs) and let him know the dinner was ready. This was not the kind of incident where I mistook the cat for a real person, due to having seen him moving about at the corner of my vision. I really asked the cat; I keep messing up my stitch-counts, as every time I count, I miss out the number 10 (this has been happening for a while); recently I asked Nick, "is this called a kiwi-fruit?" (we always have kiwis in the bowl, so this is as terrible as not remembering the word for an apple); and many other facts but because of my madness, I can't remember them. But one stands out above all the others - THIS:

Yep, I am responsible for knitting this thing. And now, every time my friends see me wearing it, they say, baaaah. It does look remarkably like a sheep's fleece, but in pale purple, cream and pale blue. It came about because at the time I received the yarn (adriafil set) I'd just finished knitting the blossom shrug and thought "now, this would make a lovely little shrug". So I just cut down the number of stitches in the blossom pattern and went straight ahead, same size needles and everything. Because the needles were really too small for the yarn (matter of opinion-not science), the fabric was very dense and heavy. You can see how bulky it is in the photo. Despite this, I do quite like it. I fear it would look better on a skinny person, as people would see they were skinny and realise that their arms weren't really that chunky. I'm thinking that this baaah shrug might be just the thing to wear with my jeans. Oh, and a nice little frilly pair of pants over the top......baaaah!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Ella Has Taken Over the Asylum

Look how much larger Ella is since last you saw her! I've got as far as ten rows in on the right extension Rows. So it's about half way done, I think. I've been giving her quite a bit of attention, but not too much, as I'm still working on the Noro Daria belt and (yes) socks for the Other Half. Those socks are killing me, but that's another story (such tiny needles and 100 rows just on the leg bit). And I've still got the other one to do. Lucky I can't wait for him to feel just how gorgeous hand-knitted socks are. Do you know, the number of people that have actually said to me, "oh, how much did you say sock yarn costs? And how long do they take to knit? Good grief, didn't you know you can get 3 pairs for a fiver at Tesco?". "Well", I grimace in reply, "that's hardly the point". These must be the people Oscar Wilde (I think it was Oscar who said that) is referring to when he says they know the price of everything and the value of nothing. But this has turned into a post all about socks, which wasn't my intention. Here's a photo to prove this sock exists. One day I will write a post about how much I love heels knitted in heel stitch, oh that lovely firm fabric.............

So, back to Ella: I came across a blog where the writer laments that, despite aggresive blocking, her Ella still has curly edges- being a new knitter, I'm actually quite pleased with myself for realising the following: the problem could have been avoided in the first place. On the first few rows of my Ella, I noticed that, no matter how much I stretched it out, the edge would not be able to stretch enough to keep up with the much stretchier inner stitches, so no matter how much blocking I do, those initial rows will have curling edges (drat). To eradicate this problem for the remainder of the shawl, I've kept my tension much looser on the first and last few stitches of every row. And YIPPEE, it stretches out perfectly flat. Drat again - I'm going to have to knit another one when I've finished this - a nice new lovely perfect one. But don't worry, I will still love my special first and best Ella, the one with the fancy curling bottom!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Never Mind the B***cks

Every couple of months we have to take Charlie Townes to the eye hospital, as he has a problem with a floating membrane behind one eye - it was there from birth. We're not sure how it affects his sight, but he seems to see everything and is a very happy child so we're not overly worried about it. We won't know how it's affecting him until he can tell us - he's just a bit over two, so there's a while
to go yet. Anyway, we were sitting in the waiting room this morning and I suddenly said to the Other Half that, as we had to wait another half an hour for some eye-drops to take effect, it was a pity I hadn't thought to bring my knitting - so drat and double drat. The OH was absolutely stunned - the incredulous look, no, I mean scared/worried look said it all. Surely, not in public.......?! he said. Well, I was surprised at that. Previous barely-disguised digs had not gone completely unnoticed (knitting is not for sexy women, only grannies wearing support-tights and hearing-aids, sort of thing/this is taking up quite a lot of your time, sort of thing/costing a lot of money, sort of thing). And like a movie in my mind I saw all the missed possibilities, all the waiting we would ever have to do, and how many missed knitting opportunities? And then I noticed our cute two-year-old son's quite uncensored T-shirt, the one OH put on him for the hospital visit. There it is in the photo - in case you can't read it, it says NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS. Makes you wonder, really.............

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Belt Up!

Look what the postman brought this morning..........Some Noro Daria Multi in #15.

The photos really don't show this off to its best advantage. It has a lovely sheen to it, as it's quite light-reflective - it's quite like a sort of elastic satin in appearance, although of course it's neither. I had a pretty tough time winding this into balls as it got quite tangled, due to the way Noro seem to wind their skeins (must be, I don't have trouble with anything else, but I did have with the Noro Blossom as well). When I say tangled, I don't mean knotted, as this isn't the type of yarn to knot - it's too slippery for that. In fact, the ball wants to unwind itself all the time, so I've placed it in the fruit bowl while I knit. If it's allowed any freedom, it'll most likely unravel itself all over the floor, so I'm keeping it contained. However I'm really enjoying knitting with Daria Multi - it feels very firm and makes such lovely defined stitches (of course it does, it's a cord...) but there's no splitting the yarn, and I know just exactly where every stitch is!

It's not an ambitious project (it's a quick-knit-fix between my other projects) - it's a belt and the stitch is linen stitch:

Start with odd number of stitches (I have 19, on 5mm needles)

Row 1(RS): K1* Sl1 wyif, K1 repeat from *

Row 2: K1,P1*Sl wyib, P1 repeat from * to end, K1

This belt is about 9cm in width and I'm hoping 2 skeins will be enough. It'll be gorgeous with a fab buckle to finish it off. Will post photos.

Looking forward to spending the evening watching The Apprentice and then a Roy Harper concert on DVD (he's so fab) and knitting my belt. Fabaroony! (Tape Grand Designs, my fave TV prog).

Monday, April 17, 2006

Alice's Fashionable Life......!

I haven't done much knitting over the Easter break, even so, I've completed 84 rows of Ella (with about 500 more to go!). It's been plain sailing, mostly, or it was until I had to unknit some stitches and got confused and completely messed up. After ages and ages of trying to work out where I'd gone wrong with the unknitting (involving a combination of YO2's skp and k2tog), I resigned myself to the fact that I'd just have to put up with a couple of errors and hope nobody else would ever notice. Usually this would not be an option, but I couldn't figure out how to put it right and starting again was out of the question. And I couldn't just carry on knitting without having the correct number of stitches, and in the right places (hope you're following me). So I managed to sort it out and now I'm motoring along again. Of course, progress will seem much slower, as the rows get longer. Please let me finish this before mid-summer - Ella would have been perfect for cold spring evenings. I'm concerned that I may go back to my old ways (of getting bored and never finishing a project. One of them was a course that cost me £800 but we try not to mention that in this house).

On the bright side, I recently found out that knitting is very "in" right now. Okay, I know you all knew that, but I didn't until some 24yr old whippersnapper informed me. My Other Half runs his own record label and we went to the Institute of Contemporary Arts on The Mall, to see one of his acts -
Sweet Billy Pilgrim (fantastic, beautiful, haunting music). I'd forgotten there are so many frighteningly trendy people out there. I mean, I kind of used to be one of them (sort of, well, back in the early 80's anyway. Won't frighten you with the details). However, even now it's not as if I'm a tracky bottoms/shell-suit sort of person, or even jeans and fleece (yuk). I do make an effort every day, even just in the house, but these people, terminally trendy. So I was standing there chatting to this guy (not even a female) and telling him that I spend a lot of time knitting and I'm thinking, oh he must think I'm a dinosaur and he says, Oh no - knitting is really fashionable. It's really hip. And I was kind of pleased with myself for being really trendy without even trying. Ha ha...........! Good job I wasn't wearing Ella.
PS The photo is of the boys, working in the garden while I knit. Just how it should be.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Another Day, Another Huge Pile of Cheese and Biscuits

This first bit is not about knitting or anything to do with it at all.

There's something I don't understand. Why can I eat healthily for about three months at a time, and love every minute of it, exercise regularly and love every minute of it AND AS A CONSEQUENCE, FEEL GRRRREAT? And because I'm loving it, I need no willpower at all - yet friends say to me "oh, you have so much willpower" and I insist that, really, I do not. And the truth is highlighted once the enjoyment of the healthy regime suddenly stops, and I oh-so-need some of this willpower people speak of and I don't have any at all. Enter the garlic boursin and cheese melts, along with masses and masses of maltesers etc. and FEELING CRAP. The solution would be to really try hard to get some willpower or wait until I'm a stone heavier and then suddenly have this kind of natural inclination towards healthy living. Hmmmmm, maybe hypnotherapy would help.

Anyway. Knitting. Started Ella yesterday and have completed 70 rows. This Lorna's Laces I'm using is lovely and soft but it seems that the strands of it are twisted (spun?) together really loosely and this manifests itself in strange splits in the strands on the purl loops. It's not where I've split the yarn with my needle, because I've managed to avoid doing that. No, it's happening by itself but luckily it only shows on the wrong side (and nobody else would look close enough to see it, anyway).

The pattern itself is really not difficult at all and I'm really enjoying it. So far, I've not gained or lost a stitch but I did lose track of where I was in a row and realised I'd gone astray, re-did a couple of stitches and then a few rows later found that I'd created a criss-cross couple of stitches right across one of those lovely circular holes in the pattern, maybe you can see it, above. Although I knew it would drive me crazy for the rest of my life, I couldn't face going back to correct it and now it's really bugging me.

This is not something I could knit in the same room as the TV - I need to concentrate on it. Also, I've noticed that it's really curling all over the place. I suppose that's why it will need blocking but I haven't a clue how? Can anyone help? Do I just kind of stretch and iron through a tea towel (that can't be right), or will I have to move to another house to find the space to pin it out? Please, no! Can anyone give me any tips, I'd be really grateful.

The colours are a bit pukey on their own, but I think it'll look ok with my jeans or denim skirt.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Ella Chrysalis

Look at photo above. Okay, I'm not that fab at the photo thing and it's more a photo of my vase, BUT I'd like to introduce you to Ella. This Lorna's Laces is going to pop out of its chrysalis and emerge in an even more beautiful incarnation of itself(one would hope) but it might take some time. Will let you know how I get on.

Here are the pics of my lovely Noro Blossom Shrug. I know the sleeves are a weird length, but I cannot stand sleeves that drape nicely in the washing-up bowl (no, I do not have a dishwasher and I don't care). And I don't like rolling them up - it can ruin them. I love this shrug; it was so easy and is so warm and soft, not at all scratchy.
Must go and do some knitting. This blog thing is taking up valuable knitting time, but I'm enjoying it immensely.

Monday, April 10, 2006

All Yarn and No Pattern, and It's Got Me Thinking, Man..........

It's not that I don't know what to do with this beautiful Louisa Harding Kimono Angora. It's not that I bought it just because it was gorgeous, or I was bored, or there was a huge yarn-shaped gap in my soul (athough sometimes it feels that way). No, I really did buy this with a little tanktop pattern in mind. The pattern is from the Louisa Harding Design Collection (something to do with roses, I think) and I did order it at the same time as the yarn - but IT STILL HASN'T BLOOMING WELL ARRIVED. So, despite the fact that I've been knitting the socks for the other half for at least three weeks (and still only have one half of one sock) and despite the fact that I'm still creating my second Broadway top, I'm hankering after starting on this one and can't do anything about it. Which makes me wonder about my motives for all this knitting in the first place. It's definitely not so I can put the finished article to good use - that is just a bonus. It's partly because I enjoy the process of the knitting and the creation of something. But is my guilty secret the fact that, more than all of that, I just like buying the yarn? Taking ages to choose it, looking at the colours and imagining the textures? Wanting all of it but only being able to have a little (at a time) and knowing I can always go back, look some more and acquire some more? But it can't just be that, otherwise I'd have piles and piles of the stuff just sitting there doing nothing. And now I'm thinking of the Flash Your Stash piccies and realising that this must be just the beginning and I'm heading that same way. And no matter how much we all say we're in it for the knitting, how come this yarn is taking over our houses, when we can only knit so much, even if we did it in our sleep? And now I'm all confused and wondering why, really why, what our real reason for doing anything is, and whether we really want, or even ought to know or care and whether it makes any difference anyway?