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Waving July 30, 2010

Posted by Fiona in Craftiness, Knitting, Lovely people, Really good day, Sewing.

Yes, I know, I’ve been terrible at keeping in touch, recently.  I’ve been working practically full time for the last few weeks, plus attempting to tackle a bit of the reading list for my dissertation, and have a massive clear-out of my room, and I’m too shattered to do much else at the moment.  Perhaps surprisingly, the clear-out is stressing me out more than either of the others.  My theory is that it’s because I’m a pack-rat by nature, I hate chucking anything away and quite frankly, there’s a lot to go.  Plus I can only do it basically one day a week because I’m out at work or hiding in libraries miscellaneous the rest of the time, so right now everything’s just sat there, and you can’t see any floor space, and there’s nowhere to put it all, and I can’t bring myself to throw it away.

In other news, I’ve cut about seven or eight inches off my hair, so it’s now ust below my shoulders and actually looking tidy, and I’ve started using my sewing machine with varying degrees of success.  My first impressions of this are that it’s a whole lot faster than knitting (I made a skirt! in about three hours!  After knitting, I can’t quite grasp in my own head how this is even possible), and also a whole lot less easily reversible.  The unpicker and I are becoming very good friends, and my vocabulary has been substantially fruitier the last week or so.

My crush on Marcus Brigstocke has reached new and previously unexpected heights after seeing him play King Arthur in Spamalot on Tuesday.  The musical itself was good fun – although I preferred the new bits to most of the scenes lifted directly from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, probably because the latter were done so well first time round.  Having said this, Marcus Brigstocke playing King Arthur could probably only have been improved for me were he wearing handknitted socks, and holding a creme brulee and two spoons.  I’m so Radio Four.

I was at Knit Nation today for a few hours – and it was fantastic, exactly as expected.  Also as expected, exactly like I Knit last year, this time I have promised myself that next time I will actually take a workshop, and bring a friend.  It’s a little bit overwhelming wandering around yarn marketplaces by oneself, and I totally failed to organise in advance to meet anyone from Ravelry.  I shall continue to lament that although I know people who knit in real life, for the most part they only really do it because I showed them how, and I can’t really compare exciting patterns and yarns and techniques with them because they never really have any of their own.  Everything’s just so different on the internet, isn’t it?

Speaking of exciting things in the marketplace, I had been looking around for approaching five minutes, when I happened upon a very large, and slightly militant crowd getting overexcited about some eye-wateringly bright yarn.  Good thing I turned up early, ladies and gentlemen, for I have Wollmeise:

The more I play with it, the more I see what some of the hype is all about, although I imagine I shan’t be joining the ranks of the stashers and Ebay-scourers.  People were grabbing armfuls of the stuff, though!  It was mad.  But I got my skein of Lacegarn, and spent about twice as much on it than on any single skein of yarn I’ve ever bought in my life, so I suppose I can’t really talk.  It’s blue.  By which I mean bright vibrant turquoise, and probably more blue than every blue thing I own put together.  And squooshy.  And it smells nice.  These things are important.

It’s going to be a cardigan.  And I’m not going to use a patten.  It’s going to be terrifying.

I also spent the requisite amount of time stroking Ysolda‘s samples, and trying to decide whether it’d be impossible to knit Vivian for NaKniSweMo in November (I’m currently erring on the side of OMG all the moss stitch, I’d better finish it in a month or I’d never want to touch the damned thing again).  AND, and and and, I managed to bag myself a copy of Woolly Wormhead’s new book – the last copy she had brought with her.  And she was lovely and chatty and signed it for me and absolutely no fangirling occurred. Definitely not.  It’s just nice to meet these people in real life and discover they’re just as excellent as you’d hoped.

I discovered an article on Handmade and Fabulous today about why handmade things are just so special and thought I’d share.  I’m a student, I have as little income as the next student, and I still buy free range eggs and handmade things still make me happy, and this just articulated a bit of that for me.  What I would add as my reason for loving handmade, though, is the same reason a lot of knitting makes me happy.  A lot of people are probably of the opinion that I don’t really do fashion, that I’m not really interested.  I am interested, it’s just from a totally different angle.  A lot of fashion today is about how things look: it’s about the finished product and how it all looks together and moves together and works as a completed entity – and that’s wonderful, that really is, but I am far more interested in the process.  The choosing of the fabrics, the thought process and engineering that goes into putting something together.  I am a process knitter.  I think buying things that are handmade is wonderful because it puts you so much more in touch with the process, and while some people are more interested in the product, and so much better at understanding the product than I am, for me the process is what it’s all about.

…Well, that was a lot of odds and sods.  I’ve been saving it for you, you know.


In Which It Was Wet And We Went Camping July 22, 2010

Posted by Fiona in Big things, Craftiness, Knitting, Look what I did, Lovely people, Really good day.

…and I didn’t take many pictures, because my camera was dreadful, and even the ones I did take came out quite badly most of the time.

His Nibs and I went to Larmer Tree Festival.  Captain Shakespeare and Cap’n The Younger went also.  Thursday and Friday it chucked it down, Saturday and Sunday it was glorious.  We all spent an inordinate amount of time drinking cider and bumping into Mark Kermode.

The bands present involved an impressive selection of beardy old men with guitars:

Steve Knightley.  I want him to be my uncle and come to my house and have barbecues with my family and just happen to bring along quite a lot of Somerset cider and a lute.  That would just be the best night ever.

Chris Wood.  Although, if I’d closed my eyes, he would have been impossible to differentiate from Martin Simpson.  Either I have been listening to too much of this sort of thing, or not nearly enough.  He was very good, is the point.

Otis Gibbs.  Don’t worry, I hadn’t heard of him either.  We happened to be in the tent where he was playing, and after about five minutes were totally mesmerised – the man can work a crowd like nobody’s business.  Potentially the best banter of the whole festival.  He ended up doing the encore without a microphone, wandering around a 150-ish seater tent strumming his guitar and ad-libbing at people.  Should have been cringeworthy and impossible to hear; worked like a dream.

Rich Hall also had a guitar, and made up several very funny songs on the spot – but I didn’t get a good picture of him, sorry.  He was totally worth standing in the rain for, and I’d love to see him speak live again.

Also, this is Oysterband.  I promise.

Other than said beardy men with guitars, there tended to be quite a few four or five piece bands with one or two jaw-droppingly talented female members and, um, surprisingly attractive accordion players.  There was also a fair bit of world music, a lot of things I’d never heard of but am quite glad I have now, and a certain amount of what I like to term His Nibs’ Music.  This latter is entirely because deep down inside I am actually the sort of middle-aged git who buys the Telegraph for the crossword and I don’t understand this modern um-chuh um-chuh um-chuh business.

Other exciting things that happened: there was a great quantity of exciting food, and a lot of street theatre.  A terrible picture was taken of the shawl I made a week or two ago:

(Yes, I look like this on occasions.  I shall remember it in years to come and either be overjoyed or disgusted.)  The shawl is the Lady Bertram shawlette (Ravelry link) by Wendy Bernard, in Old Maiden Aunt merino 4-py. The colourway is called ‘Bluebell’.  I love it.  The lace pattern is beautiful and I love that too, and I’ll reblock it and take better pictures soon because it deserves to be shown off.  It was so much fun to knit – I know I’ll definitely knit it again.

Also, the Cloud pullover came into being, and grew rapidly:

I knitted it at every opportunity, for the main reason that raglan sleeves fascinate me.  In the way that turning heels fascinates me, and knitting the Baby Surprise Jacket must be such a rush of excitement – I love knitting in apparently strange directions and then bam! Look what you just did, it was so simple and now there are SLEEVES!  I shall never tire of this.  I think I knitted an entire 100g skein of fingering weight, on 3mm needles, in four days, which for me is unheard of.  At one point, two fingers of my left hand seized up so I couldn’t grip anything without getting a stabbing pain.  This hasn’t happened since I was making my first pair of socks.  And isn’t the yarn so pretty?

Clearly the knitting enthusiasm wore off, because after nearly three and a half years of gentle poking, look at this!

Caught in the act!  His nibs can now cast on, and knit, and purl, and cast off.  I am so proud.  Not least because ever since he has been badgering me to lend him yarn and needles.  He took to it like a duck to cranberry sauce – by which I mean very well indeed.  Captain Shakespeare also learned, but it was fairly obvious that his attention was elsewhere.

To each his own.  I was amazed and impressed by how many knitters there were about, and how many people were learning.  Seeing new knitters about always makes me so happy and excited because of all the potential ahead of them, to see how it fits together and get enthusiastic about all the things that made me so enthusiastic when I first discovered them, and to make beautiful, clever new things.  New knitters are a wonderful thing.  Having said this, I was a bit self-conscious: Cloud is mainly stocking stitch, so I was going like the clappers for a lot of the time and not really looking at my work while I was doing it, so it was a bit disconcerting to look up and find myself being stared at by people who were just learning the basics.  I don’t feel like I’m that good at knitting, I feel like I always have a very long way to go before I can call myself good at it, but it’s stuck with me since I’ve got home that actually I’m quite a lot faster and more streamlined than I thought I was.  Which is nice.

I discovered something else that I’d really like to share, but I think that one’s going to get its own post – and I hope you’ll find it as brilliant an idea as I did.  It also involves the word ‘serendipity’, so it has that on its side.  It’ll make you grin, I swear.

Oh!  And I wore the shorts.  I knew you’d be pleased.

It was quite the excitement, actually.

Hiatus July 14, 2010

Posted by Fiona in Uncategorized.

I’m disappearing off for four days or so as of tomorrow.  There will be good music, and crafting, and tents and rain and probably quite a few photographs.  I’m looking forward to it.  My preparation thus far has consisted of checking out my tent by putting it up in my living room (haven’t used it in several years now, more’s the pity), experimenting with marginal success with that gradual fake tan stuff that never looks gradual on me because I’m ginger and freckly and ordinarily look just this side of undead… and buying a pair of shorts.

So far, the shorts are scaring me more than the rain.

The shawl I’ve knitted this week is now blocked, but I’m too lazy to take a photo of it.  Never mind, I’ll be taking it with me, so I’m sure you’ll see it sooner or later.  I’m planning on casting on Kate Davies’ Cloud (Ravelry link) this evening with some dark grey-blue Araucania Ranco Solid I got last time I was in York from Ramshambles, and taking it with me so as to have some simple-ish stocking stitch to do that I don’t have to look at too hard.  I may also take a sock.  Taking knitting on holiday: it’s srs bsns, I assure you.  (I am as yet undecided about the cloud pocket on the front, although I fear that if I do make it then His Nibs will not be seen in my vicinity when either making or wearing it.  This saddens me a little.)

I’ll leave you with Baz Luhrmann, because I’ve just rediscovered him and frankly, looking at the Met Office website, I think the sunscreen and I shan’t be making each other’s acquaintance much for the next few days.  Maybe knitting Cloud is surprisingly appropriate.

Housekeeping part 2 July 12, 2010

Posted by Fiona in Craftiness, Knitting, Look what I did.

So I felt like a change.   We’ll see how it goes, but personally I think it looks rather good.  The buttons are from a pack I got from Duttons in York about a year ago.

It’s been busy around here!  November is being test-knit as we speak, and I escaped the house today to go and sit in a coffee shop and work on something else.

Colourwork and I sit uneasily together at the best of times: I’m not very good at it, for a start, and just as a matter of preference I prefer knitting things that don’t tie me to a chart or looking at a piece of paper every few minutes.  I also confess to having considered it oft to be the gimmicky, showy sister of texture: visible from a distance, and tending to grab the eye of the beholder at the expense of subtler but more clever, knitterly techniques, like lace, and cables.

I take all this back, now, of course.  It was entirely sour grapes because I couldn’t do it without getting my floats mixed up and my tension all wrong.  Anyway, this new project, complete with cup of coffee and muffin, is making me very happy.  There aren’t any pictures, unfortunately, for the main reason that I think I’m going to be taking the plunge soon and submitting a design to a magazine, and I haven’t decided yet but it may well be this one.  Honestly, I want to see if I can do it.  The response so far for the November beret has been wonderful – all the people who say they like it, and they’d like to knit it, and the testers who’ve been so positive and said they enjoyed knitting it and it’s really well-written – it’s been such a confidence boost.  I honestly can’t wait to get it out into the world now.

Anyway, the point is, intarsia!  It’s not just for people with more concentration and patience than my mum (who, incidentally, has both in shedloads)!  Although on second thoughts it is probably for people with concentration and patience.  But then, frankly, so is most knitting when you first do it.

I have a shawl nearly finished too, by the way, because I wanted some quick lace a few days back.  It’s not grey.  Or brown.  It’s not even green.  And I love it.  There will be pictures of that.

Housekeeping July 6, 2010

Posted by Fiona in Craftiness, Knitting, Look what I did.

It’s been a bit quiet around here, sorry.  With regards to blog, I’m planning on a bit of a revamp in the next week or two, so it might stay a bit quiet until I’ve finished deciding what I want to do with it – and whether I’m up for splurging on my own domain name.  Some of you have done it.  How much is it and is it worth it?  I honestly can’t decide right now.

With regards to the real world, we’ve now moved out of Techie Towers, Linguistic housemate has sodded off for pastures new (and, I believe, to ogle Frenchmen for the summer – lucky her!), and we’ve moved into the new flat.  Which, I might add, is above the theatre.  No work will be done this year. I can’t tell if I’m excited or dreading it.  I’m also back home for the summer, and back at work on Ladies’ Fashions from tomorrow.  The excitement is palpable.  I am clinging onto today like my last day of freedom.  Let us say that if I didn’t have to go back, I wouldn’t.

Knitting-wise… well, there’s another pattern on the way!  I’m looking for test knitters as we speak, so if you’d like headgear as natty as that of Ms Lawrence here:

…pop on over to the Ravelry Free Pattern Testers Group and we’ll fix you up.  Otherwise, fingers crossed the pattern will be out by the beginning of next month.  D’you know, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of this.

What can I say?  All the cool kids have them.  Even if only the first 50% of them brush their hair beforehand.

Speaking of messing about with improvising things, I’ve been looking at what I’ve knitted over the last few months, and I’m spotting a trend.  A green, brown and grey trend.  I mean – just scroll up.  I rest my case.  Anyway, the point is, replace the green with cream and you have my new amusement:

Colourwork, right?  I was messing about with it last night and it looks fantastic.  I’ll get out of the rut soon, I promise.  But for now… I think earth tones are my Thing at the moment.

To be continued, I think.