Monday, June 26, 2006

Audrey Hepburn vs. Cyndi Lauper

I haven't done much blogging at all lately, as I've been busy doing other things. Like baking things containing nuts, in an effort to make sure Charles gets at least a small amount of essential fats inside him, as he refuses fish no matter how it's disguised and I consider him too young to be eating whole nuts. It has worked too well. The biscuits, which contained walnuts, heather honey, wholemeal flour and walnut oil, were bitter (due to the type of honey we used, which had a bitter after-taste) so Charles has realised he has them all to himself and eaten four today.

Self-evident is the sewing.......

The bustle skirt! The pattern arrived beautifully packaged and was a work of art in itself, hand-drawn on heavy paper and adorned with the beautiful Miss Twiss motif! I couldn't wait to get started. Once I have an impulse to do something it must be commenced forthwith! So, on Saturday evening I made the green one with the most yuk fabric you would never, ever choose. I've had it years and heaven knows why I bought it in the first place and only used it on this occasion as I wanted to make sure I was making the right size and it was going to look ok. Oddly, once it was made I loved it in all its putrid glory and have worn it non-stop ever since. This is a very simple but clever sewing pattern. In actual fact, one size really does fit all - you just adjust it by way of the positioning of the holes where the tie is threaded through to gather the fabric. No zips, no buttons, no interfacing - nothing. Love it. So much that I went to get fabric for three more and made the second one last night (Sunday). I fully intended to come back with something understated and chic. But due to something in my soul, a magpie deep inside, I did the same as always and bought two bundles of fancy taffeta (although I did buy a more reserved black and cream check as well, for winter). I've always wanted to project an Audrey Hepburn sort of image, you know - effortless and graceful. But somehow I'm drawn to styles that Cyndi Lauper would probably prefer (not that I'm a fan - not even in the 80's). Hmmmmmm. And I suspect that some of the time that is how I appear to others. Especially to my deeply chic 74 yr old mother-in-law (not that she minds. We are great friends).

I really like feminine clothes, stuff that's not very practical though. For instance I will wear the red/orange taffeta skirt shopping on a Friday afternoon and not care what anyone thinks. But don't think I never wear ordinary, dignified clothes. I do, but not without the effort of turning my back on all the fancy schmancy stuff.

But it's the same with wallpaper. I had to have raspberry matt paper adorned with proper gleaming gold flowers. And then had to paint the chimney breast gold. You know how it is..... But I know there is a chic, understated person waiting to make her presence known someday. But until that happens, it's the magpie in me that's winning!

I have done some knitting. I've turned the heels on the pink socks and am doing the gusset decreases. I'm making the black and white skirt this evening and then it will be back to the knitting (the brown embroidered taffeta can wait).

BTW As you can see, I did finish the black/cream skirt. And despite Blogger really messing about uploading photos - again.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Impatience Is Not A Virtue

Oh, I'm bored and impatient.

Fed up with knitting these pink socks now. The yarn is so lovely; I really like the colours and the texture. But I've been knitting socks with it for about two weeks now and this is the furthest I've got. At last, I may have got the number of stitches, needle size and pattern right. Might have, although I have been mistaken in the (recent) past. We'll see. The pattern is Bluebell Rib from the Charlene Schurch book I've mentioned before.

The thing is, when I'm bored anything can happen. I might spend too much money, money I haven't got, or decide I should move hundreds of miles away, to somewhere new and exciting. Luckily I usually remember I'm thinking this way because I'm bored and not because I really want to leave my family and friends and the life we have here. I can chop all my hair off, or dye it nuclear red on the spur of the moment, like this:

That happened last June and stayed until November when I became bored again. Sorry, it's painful to see how the hair clashes with the cardi, I know.

But I have learnt to recognise the difference between boredom and a sudden flash of inspiration. Don't know why it's taken me so long. So, at present I'm a bit restless with my knitting projects. The same old socks. Dare I say it, Ella 3 as well. I'm just feeling restless, I know and there's no reason for it. I do want to wear the socks, the belt, the Ella 3 but the journey there is the same old, same old..... And I have chosen articles I enjoy knitting, so it's not that; it's something inside me.

I really want to start the Mrs Beeton's thingies (wristwarmers - that's the beads and stuff) but that way leads to heartache and piles more unfinished items. I WON'T DO IT. Petulantly I also declare - I WANT TO SEW THINGS. Things like this
Bustle Skirt (pattern coming in post).

I will just have to keep this restlessness under control and buckle down, finish the belt, OH's socks, the Bluebell socks, the Ella 3 and then I can do WHATEVER I WANT.

Although, I have already cut Charlie's hair off. Quite a lot of it, all over.

BTW: Do not think, even for a second, that I have nothing to do around here. Looking after a toddler (entertaining a toddler), the house, staying sane - they all take up a lot of time. Oh, and selling everything I own on eBay so I can get a small yarn fix - that takes time.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Spur of the Moment Decisions

Remember the Fyberspates laceweight mohair? Remember the rash decision to make another Ella from it? And how stupid that was...... And do you remember how I decided to knit a jumper with it, on 3.25mm needles with millions of stitches and without a pattern (and probably nowhere near enough yarn, either)? Well, it's frogged. I had completed lots of rows but hadn't touched it for weeks/months. And then I required the needles to knit something else, so came about the frenzied frogging episode. Then I realised I have three pairs of the same 3.25mm needles. And the fabric I'd knitted - and then frogged - did look rather nice. Oh no! Another rash decision. I think I'm going to have to knit the whole thing again. Look, you can see the Fyberspates entrails hanging morbidly from the branch of the climbing rose........

I was thinking about impulsive decisions recently and realised that I have made more than my fair share, but that they are not always bad. For instance, the pussy cat below is Buddy. I made the decision to get a cat and brought him home the same evening! He was beautiful, inside and out. But he was of a daredevil persuasion and used to dash across the then-main road out the front (I lived nowhere near a road when I acquired him) to fight all the other cats. And one night, on returning from a blissful day by the sea, we found he'd been knocked down by a car and killed. Amazing how kind all our (then unknown) nieghbours were. They took care of him until he died a few minutes later and then covered him in a blanket so we wouldn't just find him. Oh dear - it was three years ago now and still brings tears. I was 14 weeks pregnant when Bud died and it was the same week my Dad had a stroke and my Grandma was diagnosed with a terminal illness. My Dad made a rather fast and miraculous full recovery. I still find it incredible how we think we might not cope with situations such as these but when it comes down to it there's an incredible inner calm and strength when it's needed. Or that's what I found in myself, anyway. But this post isn't meant to be my life-story!

And this little chappy......

We decided we might have a baby and he came about that exact day. Amazing! I must say it was a shock a couple of weeks later, to find our wishes granted so quickly, but he (of course) is just the best.

I won't mention decisions involving correspondence courses and a total of about £800. I'm sure I could think of lots of bad decisions made on impulse but I don't want you to harm yourselves rolling about on the floor laughing at me. So I'll wrap it up.


I have been getting on with Ella, no progress on my pink socks. Still haven't finished my Noro Daria belt. Or OH's socks. No money to make any purchases. Still waiting for our record company to make us millions.

Coffee time.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

All I have to Show

So this is how we get it to rain in this part of the world - we take delivery of a new paddling pool and the downpour starts a couple of hours later. Yesterday it was 32 degrees here. This evening it's freezing. I will bring Ella 2 out of hiding to keep me company this evening. Speaking of Ellas, I have managed a few rows of Ella 3 but just haven't felt much like it (or anything else except drinking beer, really) in the heat.

But you see the above several rows of ribbing? Well that is all I have to show for several days work (well, a few hours spread over several days, you understand). I cast-on my stitches and finished all the ribbing for two socks and a few repeats of the lace Oblique Openwork stitch but found the combination of the particular stitch and yarn quite uncomfortable to work with. I do think it makes sense to use a solid colour for lace anyway, so it doesn't really matter that the yarn isn't suited to lace on 2mm needles! So I frogged the embryo socks completely, although I suppose they were foetus socks (yuk, what a horrible analogy, since I wouldn't really have frogged a foetus-but let's get away from that). Started again with the ribbing and knitted a few repeats of the yarn-over cable, which, despite not being knit in a solid colour, looked rather smashing. Just to make sure of the size (it was alright the first time I tried) I threaded some waste-yarn through and tried on for size and "oh for bloody goodness' sake (or words to that effect)-what the bloody hell is going on" (rhetorical question aimed or not aimed at OH). They nearly cut off my blood supply. So they got frogged again. I have tentatively cast on the same number of stitches but on 2.5mm needles. I'm wondering if that will help with the size. One thing though, I've noticed that my lovely bamboo needles, the ones I usually use for socks, feel quite "sticky" compared with the metal ones, a thing I'd failed to notice before. Mmmmm, maybe I'll swap them all to the slick metal ones (only for socks, mind). Anyway, I might knit the whole sock in the 1 x 1 ribbing. I like the look of the stitches.

A note about the bed episode: it didn't really happen! We did get the fab bed for Charlie Townes but he admires it so much that he just gets on top of it (hasn't figured out the duvet yet, always had a grobag) and goes to sleep. Sometimes he does a couple of quick laps around the room first, but we haven't had any trouble at all. And in the morning I still get up before he does and we still drink our respective black coffee and warm-milk drinks and we still chat or sit in companionable silence. Great. I must say that so far Charles has gone through all the usual baby stages with grace and aplomb! We haven't hit the potty/toilet stuff yet so it could all change. And then there's nursery, big proper school and oh dear something is sure to crop up. But he's always been so easy-going, never needed a dummy or a fave toy to take everywhere. Cripes, lucky he's not too aloof for cuddles!

Right, off to get a small beer. To cheer me up in the rain, of course.

PS May I reassure those of you with concerns about my alcohol consumption that I have not had a hangover nor suffered from the ill-effects of drinking alcohol since new year's day 1994. (Not because I am now immune! But because I learned that drinking too much is bad for you). And the fact that my two-year-old says, "mamma-me- pub" is because we took him once so far to a country pub garden with a bouncy castle. Honestly. Not the Charles Bukowski life for me.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

More Socks and all This Lacy Goodness

So, I finished the lacy socks in the waterfall pattern and had some yarn left over so I knitted a little pair of socks for Charles. They only took a couple of days (needless to say I haven't even so much as glanced Ella's way) and were very satisfying as the yarn-over cable was so nice to knit - a four-row repeat and easy to remember. And I didn't even have to bribe him to wear them and they fit so perfectly.

I really enjoy these lacy patterns and am just starting another pair of socks for myself. It's Frankie's fault, really, as she pointed me in the direction of this place, and how could I resist? And now I have to use it for another pair of socks, this time with the oblique openwork stitch. I'm really having trouble getting my socks to come up at the right size (but I am fussy) as I keep changing the type of yarn and pattern and now needle size. I'm doing these on 2mm. Nice strong, pointy metal ones. I have learnt to keep trying on the sock as I go, threading the stitches onto waste yarn - it's the only way to be sure. But good news, I finally learnt the long-tail cast-on! Yippee. My old pc wouldn't play these videos and I had trouble learning this particular thing from a book. But now the knitting-technique-video world is my oyster. And I no longer cast-on twice the number of stitches and then do k2 tog all the way round (although I do really like the edge that makes).

Think of me this afternoon, as I have to go to Ikea at Milton Keynes to get a big blue funky bed for Charlie Townes. It's his first bed and I fear my life will never be quite the same again. Apart from the fact that I very much suspect that he wakes up at a ridiculously early hour of the morning and plays in his cot then goes to back to sleep, having got really bored waiting for me to appear, I will really, really miss going into his bedroom in the morning and taking him out of his cot and having a good cuddle and a chat. I look forward to that part of my day so much and Charles is such a jolly boy. Easy-going like his dad, not highly-strung like his Princess-and-the -Pea mum. I suppose once he is in a bed he'll already be up and about before I am. Cripes I might have to get up before 8 o clock if he hangs over the stairgate at his doorway, and shouts for me (there's no way I'd lock him into his room, as some people do. I'd rather stop him from getting into danger by putting a little gate at his door).

Don't they grow up fast? I'm dreading him learning to drive already. I used to be a driving instructor and it worries me sick how dangerous the roads are. But, as OH says, you can't let your fears rule your life.

I'm off for a good strong black fresh coffee (instant is not allowed in the vicinity of my house).

Sunday, June 04, 2006

A Case of The Emperor's New Clothes

My lace socks are finished and I enjoyed every minute (well, not quite, but I'll explain) and I realise more and more that I prefer to knit something quite patterned, quite lacy. It certainly makes things much more interesting, as opposed to knitting plain old stocking stitch, which is easy but soooooo boring. This stitch is Waterfall from the "Sensational Knitted Socks" book, by Charlene Schurch. I really find this book useful, as you can use the tables to calculate how many stitches to cast on for any sock with any stitch pattern and no matter what your tension or needle size. Having said that, I can never quite get my socks to be narrow enough. This time I cast on 54 stitches, thinking that it would be perfect, as I was using a lighter yarn (Jawoll Cotton) and maybe they'd come up nice and small. I kept my tension tight to the point of snapping one of my brittany birch 2.25mm needles - obviously not the way to go as it also made my fingers sore! But the socks, although a snugger fit than the recent Koigu ones, are still on the roomy side, girth-wise. Try again I suppose. But I am happy with them and the pattern makes a lovely airy sock.

So where do the emperor's clothes come into this? It's the brittany birch needles. The fact that one of them snapped was definitely down to my mishandling of them, so that doesn't come into it, although I've already ordered some metal 2mm ones, as they're far more hardy. Even with normal use I could sense the fragility of the birch ones in 2.25mm. But the thing about these needles is they are so sticky for goodness sake. I first cast on for the Koigu sock using these, and thought the combination of the Koigu and the needle just too tacky, so I changed to the Clover bamboo - no problems. I cast on the Waterfall sock, above, with the bamboos and knitted the whole thing with them, until it came to the toe, at which point I introduced the reinforcing thread and the birch 2.25mm needles. Yuk! They seem to have a tacky coating of varnish on them. I know I've read a lot of good comments from people about these, but apart from the fact they're so cute and tiny and woody, I think they're horrid. It's tempting to go for a needle, or anything for that matter, based largely on aesthetics (and I'm a terrible culprit-I am indeed culpable) but when it comes down to it, sometimes you just have to go for something practical but ugly. Skinny little wooden needles are not practical and that is that. Bigger ones are just fine. I always use my clover bamboo 2.5mm for socks and find them perfect: strong and not too sticky.

Right, better get on with Ella 3. Nearly done with section 2 but haven't touched her for two days, so lagging at the moment. I've already got my eye on knitting a Lady Eleanor in Noro Kureyon. Take a look at

Hope you all had a good sunny weekend!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Old Habits Die Hard

This morning the postman brought some Kidsilk Spray, some Cashsoft DK and more Lorna's Laces, but this time Swirl instead of Shepherd Sport. And guess what the LL is for? I realise I'm at risk of boring everyone silly, but it's another Ella - Ella 3. Curled up on the sofa (usually knitting), I almost always have Ella 1 or 2 to keep me cosy, which is handy as it's been so ridiculously chilly here for the time of year, I mean it was 10 degrees the other day....... Ella is not like a pullover that has to fit just right to be wearable, you can throw Ella over your lap or around

your shoulders and it's not just a cosy-stay-at-home thing, either - Ella looks great with denim of any kind, and she's not floaty and impractical - she can stand up to most occasions. And the bonus is that I just love knitting the Ella pattern. So this time I decided to go for a heavier yarn - this one, I'm informed is a DK and it's 85% merino wool and 15% silk. I've got to say that having knitted more than half of section 2, she's looking a bit more, what's the word I'm looking for.......tweedy and speckled than I visualised, although this Swirl is so warm and soft, I think I'll get the result I want - a nice winter Ella. Will let you know, of course.

The Kidsilk Spray and Cashsoft DK are for
this. Haven't got the beads yet but there's no hurry - and what's great about this is that one ball of each will be more than enough for two pairs. So although I was planning to knit this for a friend, I can throw in a pair for myself, too! I'm sure I don't know anyone else that would wear them!

Here are some mung, radish and alfalfa sprouts. Proof that I have been doing things other than knitting. I've even been exercising again. I should never have those phases where I don't get any vigorous physical activity, as I really feel it's very, very important to me in that I feel absolutely rubbish if I don't do it. All my cells obviously feel so much better for being oxygenated - no, really. It's true.

I can now go to sit and knit on the sofa, safe and non-guilty in the knowledge that I am entitled to it, as I exercised my pants off today and yesterday!

PS I've noticed that all my April and May posts are still showing on the main page of the blog and I don't know why they aren't automatically archiving. Well, they are kind of - if you look in April or May archives all the relevant posts are filed there, it's just that they're not coming off the main page, so it's taking ages to load the main page up, as it's getting too large. Anyone know how to fix this? Is there something I have to do or does everyone else's do it automatically?