Thursday, August 31, 2006

Eye Candy Friday and Crawling Up that Hill

The above gladiola was rescued from the garden after the heavy rain snapped the stem. I find I enjoy them so much more on my kitchen windowsill, anyway. I didn't realise I liked gladioli so much.

Thank you all so much for your encouraging remarks about my paintings. I really do appreciate all the comments and I will certainly take it up again one day when I have a little more time to dedicate to it.

I haven't posted for a week because I just have not had the energy. That is very, very unlike me. I never feel lacking in energy but since having the most horrid earache two weeks ago I feel about ninety. Sore throat every day, and tender skin. I bloody hate it, as everything feels such an effort. I want to feel like I usually do. And it's not even flipping winter yet. I feel like I'll never be healthy again. I will stop whining now.....

The Debbie Bliss and KSH above were obtained by selling some Louisa Harding blue Kimono Angora and Kimono Ribbon on eBay. Thank heavens I got rid of that stuff. It might look and feel nice but it's evil. The angora leaves bits of fibre EVERYWHERE and makes my nose and eyes irritated and the ribbon is too bright and too hard and scratchy. Don't like it. I don't know what I'll do with the Debbie Bliss yet, but at a bit over £1 per ball, it doesn't matter too much. The KSH in "Swish" will be another lace shawl but don't know which yet.

I've knitted ten repeats of the Edwardian shawl so far, which isn't many, but there are times it irritates me silly and I reach for something else, usually a plain stocking stitch sock that I can knit mindlessly and without looking. At this rate the shawl will be finished just in time for the start of spring 2007. That's no good. I have to order some more KSH soon, for presents for my mum and my sister.

The cardigan I'm knitting in the Balmoral (texere) is called Willow and it's from the Louisa Harding Design Collection. So far I've completed the back and am two thirds of the way through the left front. Could this be the garment that fits me? If so it will be an almost miracle, due to the fact that the weight of the yarn is way off the pattern requirement and so is my tension. We'll see. I don't pick this WIP up very often as the loops in the yarn are "catchy" and I have to be in the mood. And I'm wondering how I'm even going to see these loopy stitches when it comes to picking up millions of them to knit the neck edging and the button bands. Lucky for me tasks usually turn out easier than I expect them to be. That's Willow, below. Take it from One Who will be merely a shadow of that image. Hehe.

And finally, my haircut (sorry-photo was taken "Through a Glass, Darkly"). I will not fail to have my hair done by Ozzie at Sanrizz when I want. Even if it means taking drastic action to get the money (!). He listens, he's courteous and friendly and he's great at cutting hair. He's better than any other hairdresser I've tried (loads). My last hairdresser is now London Hairdresser of the Year but he never listened to a word I said. Titles sometimes just don't count (or the money they charge-over £100 in that case).

I hope I haven't posted too many photos for your computers. Please tell me if it's making things slow. I got carried away. Also, I must in future give some thought to the content of my posts and not just type a stream of thought.

BTW. I just looked at this photo again and it's even worse than I thought. I took it through an old Art Deco mirror the in-laws gave to us. It's really beautiful but it's in four square pieces with pale pink and green glass strips down each side. Where the square bits meet in the middle they've distorted the image and chopped the back of my head off. Haha. But it's worth the distortions. I love that mirror (and the in-laws).

Thursday, August 24, 2006

ECF and Things Once (well, almost) Forgotten

I came across "Piece of Beauty" blog, the other day. In it was mentioned the Rowan Tree, or Mountain Ash. We have a large and beautiful Mountain Ash in our garden, and though I'd admired it through the seasons for at least six years, I had no idea that it's also know as a Rowan Tree. Of course, I've heard of the Rowan Tree, I just didn't realise it's another name for the Mountain Ash. Now, I thought I knew what a Rowan Tree looked like............One of the first houses I bought was situated alongside a canal and this canal was (of course) lined with various shrubs and trees. One day (one day of many, in those times) I was extremely bored and decided to give watercolour painting a go, and, as there were plenty of willing and patient subjects lined up along the towpath, I brought a random twig into the house and began (see below).

As I didn't do "art" at school (I did pottery and batik and drama and biology and theatre arts and sociology and Eng lit and pure and applied maths, but not painting) I was very pleased with the way it turned out and rushed out to buy a set of Winsor and Newton paints, set in a delightful metal paintbox, and painted every Sunday.

I wanted to move on to Other Things, like landscapes and interiors and catching the light a certain way - that kind of thing. But I really didn't know where to begin and, more to the point, I was too scared of not being Good Enough (Sarah......that's the self-defeat I mentioned). So I stopped. And I have regretted it ever since.

I'm irritated by my failure to pursue something I might have been good at and this is one thing in a list of activities that have gone the same way. I remember dragging a 10kg bag of clay home from a local art centre. I really did drag it. I only weighed about 7st at the time, if that! But when I got it home, I lacked motivation and inspiration and I think it's because I wanted to go straight in there and be fantastic and I knew that wasn't possible, so I couldn't be bothered.

What has this got to do with the Rowan Tree? See the second painting down? Someone once looked at it and said "oh, a Rowan Tree". So I always thought it really was a Rowan Tree, after all, why would I question it? And sixteen years later I find out that it wasn't a Rowan tree at all (the leaves were a glossy, deep green and not in clusters, as a Rowan's are), and it doesn't matter .....but what is interesting is that it brought to mind these paintings and a time gone by, and also a reminder that I can do more than I think I can. And that whatever I can paint or knit or cook or whatever, it's a gift, and something to be thankful for; not something to resent, just because someone else can do it better. There will always be others who can do it better and, these days, I can look at them as inspiration, and take pleasure from their achievements. I must have grown up a bit.

And my paintbox....I left it behind in 1999, when I left my evil partner in a hurry, before he came home and stopped me. He'd put my paintbox in a beautiful hand-carved closet he kept in a corner of the room, locked (I never knew what was in there).

I was planning to show you my WIPs and some yarn I acquired as a result of selling some. I will show those next week. I'm off to Mayfair to get my hair cut tomorrow, at Sanrizz, where I always used to go. My beautiful almost-mother-in-law-and-friend has insisted on paying. I think she's horrified that I've been cutting my own hair for a year and a half. I'm quite excited as I haven't been to London in ages and it's nice to visit every now and again.

BTW. You might have noticed that my surname is Keen on some of the paintings and Plumridge on others. That's because I used to be married.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Progress on Lace Shawl

Having ordered the Edwardian Lace Shawl pattern on a spur-of-the-moment whim (mostly due to my current love-affair with KSH), I then felt a little anxious that it would be beyond my knitting capabilities. I needn't have worried, as I soon found there were no borders to be knitted separately and then grafted on, or anything yuk like that. However, it did require a provisional cast on, which I'd been avoiding for ages, by ignoring any pattern that needed one. Again, I needn't have avoided these provisional cast ons, as there is nothing complicated about them at all (well, not the way I did it, anyway). So, having joined in my KSH, I got down to it. At row five I found there were more stitches left than there should be, at the end of the row. I checked and checked again, and just couldn't find where I'd made the error. Started unknitting it stitch by stitch, messed up, and frogged the lot. It's not that easy undoing lace knitted in black sticky KSH, I can tell you (although I'm quite good at it now). Started again, got to row five and found the same problem again. At this point I was suspicious that there was a problem with the pattern. Never mind, Heirloom Knitting told me what the row should read and I carried on. Then I did my maths for rows 7, 9 and 11 and found they were incorrect, too. Of course, H.K. gave me the correct instructions again and I carried on. Only to find that the corrected instructions for one of the rows was.......incorrect. Heirloom Knitting were very helpful and quite apologetic but it did make my first proper lace-knitting much trickier. I must add that Sharon at HK was very helpful with advice about picking up stitches from the provisional cast-on, as well. The company does offer support with knitting up their patterns.

Anyway, the pattern is very easy - I've come to realise that it's not knitting lace that's difficult - it's just making sure you don't mess up your rhythm half way through a row and miss out a YO or a K2tog or a Sl1 K2tog psso etc.etc. That's the only difficult bit - not going wrong! I'm counting every stitch after knitting every single row, as it's best to find any errors immediately. There have been hardly any and I've completed seven pattern repeats now.

After knitting fourteen repeats I have to pick up the stitches from the provisional cast on and start again for the other half of the shawl. I will practise that on some scrap yarn first, to make sure I'm picking up the correct loops. Imagine if it all went wrong at that stage. Shudder.........

I'm hoping this will be a nice big shawl. It should be about 72" by 19". I think mine might be even larger than that. We'll see. I'll let you know how it goes on.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Life is Sweet

They told you life is long
Be thankful when it's done
Don't ask for more
You should be grateful
But I tell you life is short
Be thankful because before you know
It will be over
Cause life is sweet
And life is also very short
Your life is sweet
Who do you believe?
Who will you listen to
Who will it be?
Eye Candy Friday......The above lyrics to Life is Sweet, by Natalie Merchant are eye candy to me. Very simple, but so true (and it doesn't do any harm to sometimes have a reminder). And the melody is beautiful.
Progress on the Edwardian Lace Shawl is coming soon (but don't expect miles of it).

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Little Things

Is the above yarn the most horrid ever? I just can't make my mind up. Anyway, putting that aside, this is one of my easy projects that I can do without having to give my all. The socks will be an ordinary woven stitch, although you can't see that, as the colours are so in your face. I don't think it's just that the combinations of colours are odd, it's the fact that the colours change every couple of stitches and this creates a very busy and overpowering effect. I had some Koigu like that but it wasn't such a problem as the colours were nicer. On the plus side, the yarn is very, very soft (it's Lana Grossa).

The socks in the photos above and below are the Bluebell Rib socks. The ones that took at least ten attempts (with various patterns, needles and stitch-counts). They are very pretty but I've knitted them too small (jinxed from the start?) and so they've not only made my finger numb (it's still slightly numb and that was about six weeks/two months ago) but if I wear them they actually make my feet ache, they're so tight. I've come to the conclusion that the problem is that my ankles are skinnier than the rest of the foot. If I knit the sock to fit the foot comfortably, I get bagginess around the ankle. I read that, in that case, a longer heel flap should do the trick, which I'd been suspecting. Has anyone else had this problem?

The photo below is of Charles in his hat. I had a spare ball of Cashsoft DK and knitted this Odessa the other evening. So satisfying and so lovely and easy. The hardest part was trying to take a photo of a two and a half year old dashing about like a, well, two and a half year old. I tried bribing him but it didn't work. He will wear this hat on our many walks in the woods.

I keep forgetting to mention that one of the first sort-of sentences Charles came out with was "knit. my. sock" in a quite menacing way. He was trying to say he didn't need my interference with his game at that point in time, and that I should just go and knit. I nearly fell over, I was so proud of him and also the fact that he recognised I knitted his socks! That was some time ago. He's a real chatterbox now and makes up the most funny and amusing tall stories. If I think back to six weeks ago, he hardly spoke at all, I mean he had quite a large vocabulary but didn't string anything together.

Now I'm on a roll, I'll tell you about his potty-training. He did it - in one day. Honestly. I'd been putting it off as I didn't want to do it too early, so we'd have less of a risk of him feeling like he'd "failed". And also because I just wasn't looking forward to it. One Monday morning I showed him the potty and the pants and explained the game-plan and he just did it. We had one accident immediately after and then......potty-trained. I still can't get over it. I guess he was just ready.

Got to go. Charlie's waving a parsnip at me from the kitchen and saying "I want dinner. Help me, Mummy". It's too early for dinner. And so arises another series of negotiations......

I've started on the Edwardian Lace thingie and am two pattern-repeats in, with another twenty six to do! Will post all about it in the next few days.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Winter Companion

A few days ago I asked Rebecca if her Kidsilk Haze shawl was warm (you know, worth all that effort). I mean, this yarn is so light it's almost not there. Now, that was before I finished my Winter Companion. In retrospect I have to say - what a silly question! There cannot be a better yarn from which to knit a shawl. It's very light, yes, but each stitch is surrounded by a haze, which of course is what catches your body warmth and holds it there on the surface of the skin. Of course, that's exactly why it's called Kidsilk Haze. Duh. But I'd never knitted with it before and now I feel I may be facing some kind of addiction. Like crack cocaine. One hit and you're lost. Crack yarn, that's what this is. Oh, and by the way, it really doesn't moult too much at all.

I'm sure most of you must have given this yarn a go, but if you haven't, do.....please! I was eyeing all those beautiful lacy shawls and thinking.....well, yeah - absolutely stunning but how useful, honestly? I like my knitting to look nice but be useful. And so arose my question to Rebecca, as I said. As soon as I realised just how wide this scarf is, I flung it over my shoulders and came face to face with the revelation of just how warm and light a garment can be at once. In fact, this morning I made breakfast with it around my shoulders like a shawl, with none of the ends sewn in. I never want to let it go.

As you can see, this is a very plain knit. That's fine as I won't be tempted to treat it too much with kid gloves (no pun intended). But now I've discovered the delights of KSH and the raptures it sends me into, I want more and I want fancy. How about this Edwardian Lace Shawl? I ordered the pattern this morning and, as it only takes three balls, it won't bankrupt me. It's going to be in black.

I sound as though I think it's a straightforward thing, knitting this flibbertygibbet. But I don't know if I'm up to it and it may be beyond me. Or.............I know I will rise to the challenge and learn any new skills I need to complete the task. There, that's better. The power of positive thinking.

Monday, August 07, 2006

This is a First

No photos today, I'm afraid - for the first time ever. And not much to report, either. I've been knitting my scarf every day, but only a little, so it's growing quite slowly, although it has turned into a two-skein scarf and I'm about two thirds of the way through the second one. It's going to be a lanky scarf. No, not lanky. To describe it as lanky would be to imply that it's long and skinny, but it's about 26 inches wide. Well, 26 inches at one end and the other tapers in a bit due to my dodgy tension. I tell you, I have plans for this baby. This is no ordinary scarf. This is the winter companion to the Knitting Princess and her niggly little peas, (you know, all those things in life that must be just so, otherwise a major tantrum is in order: coffee must be less than one week old and kept in the freezer, ear plugs at night ALWAYS, bottom sheet on bed must be smooth or else, spoons must be the right way up on the draining board, crikey I'll stop there. I'd like to point out I'm not OC with the housework. Sometimes wish I was, then my house might be free of dust and cobwebs). Back to the scarf. A scarf for all occasions. It's going to be fluffy and light and warm and glam and cosy and casual and smart and anything else that might be required of it. It's not fancy but I can see I'll like it. There you are.

I found this article on the net today and I identified with the author in some ways. I'm not saying I'm an all-out introvert , but generally I am. When it comes to socialising at all, I am. It was quite a relief to read, actually. You may have read a post of mine from a few weeks back, where I said I wasn't that keen on having too many friends or socialising etc. etc........ and I felt quite horrid admitting to this aspect of my personality. But now I think maybe I'm not that horrid and selfish - I just don't enjoy certain aspects of umm....socialising. Not sure if there might be a better word for it. Anyway, you see what I'm getting at. Maybe others see some of themselves in it, too. Or maybe you're all out and out extroverts, like half of my family!

Right. Got to go before I am no longer able to resist posting a photo that's completely unrelated to anything.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Eye Candy Friday

Mmmmm, my favourite. I usually take my fresh coffee black, no sugar - and STRONG. But the truth is, I prefer it with cream. Not too much, though - and I'm must be strong enough to balance the creaminess. Strong and creamy. Oooooh........ I could give up anything - except for my coffee in the morning.