Wednesday, 26 March 2008

If a Swallowtail is a Sign of Spring....

....I want my money back!!

It's COLD in London. Cold and rainy. On Easter Sunday and Monday it SNOWED.

Ok - there was no accumulation, and they were the first flakes I've seen this winter - but still - SNOW! At Easter!

(To be honest, I'm struggling to maintain my outrage on the snow thing -- my sister sent this photo last week of the snow at my parents house in New Brunswick. It sort of puts a few flakes on Easter into perspective.)

Anyway -- back here in the UK I've taken advantage of the miserable weather to catch up on some DVD viewing of BBC adaptations** and knit a bit.

First I knit up this red Swallowtail Scarf (Interweave Knits Fall 2006) -- I love the colour. It's made with lambs wool dyed by Wild Fire Fibres (aka Vixx). The red is deep and absolutely gorgeous.

For some reason while knitting up this one I became curious about how the pattern would knit up in Kid Silk Haze....and so immediately after I cast off the red one I started this one. I always love Kid Silk Haze - but I'm not convinced about the colour. Perhaps it just needs the right outfit.

I confess that when I finished this one I really wanted to cast on for another one (I'm such a freak) but decided I really needed to get some socks going.

The first pair is Colinette sock yarn, using a slipped stitch rib pattern - inspired by HelloYarn's pattern (I just needed to tweak the number of stitches as her pattern uses a heavier yarn).

The second pair is from the book Favourite Socks, - Embossed Leaves. I've made some modifications - most of which were just the result of working on the socks without the pattern nearby and being too lazy to go find it - so just winging what I thought I should do. So I did a 2x2 rib instead of 1x1 twisted rib on the cuff, and I made the heel flap shorter and without garter stitch. I like the pattern and will definitely make them again.

This pair is Indigo Moon Vancouver Series fingering weight.

** Totally non-knitting related DVD roundup.
The lovely Babette Blanket (thanks so much for all your kind comments!) coupled with the rubbish weather has led to a lot of DVD watching lately.
Middlemarch - the 1994ish adaptation. This was very good, but dated already, in particular the music which did that loud dramatic thing when dramatic things were happening. Dorothea's earnest-ness got on my nerves sometimes, and Mary Garth was a right cow and a little too good for my taste.
Cranford - 2008. Lovely, comforting viewing.
Oliver Twist - 2007. I'm a Dickens fan and this definitely took liberties with the book which has led to some critical slating - but I thought it worked. Not my favourite adaptation, but it had some good moments.

Next set of DVD's to be attacked: 24 - Series 5!!! I'm an addict, but can't start watching a series unless I know I can devote serious viewing time to it because once I start, I can't stop. And I can't knit while I watch it. In fact, I can't do anything else. I just watch Jack get in and out of entirely unbelievable situtations, doing either of his two trademark emotions and loving it. (For reference his two emotions are: sincere and angry. There isn't actually much difference in the expression, but if he's yelling "drop your weapon, I said drop your weapon NOW" then he's angry. If he's speaking in a low voice, telling another character "trust me" then he's doing the sincere thing.)

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Babette Blanket

Phew. It's finished.

I started with 1800 gm of superwash sockyarn in 17 colours. A few weeks, a lot of hooking, sewing and (let's be honest LOTS AND LOTS of) swearing later I am left with 290 gm of yarn and a blanket that I expect will keep me warm and comfy whatever else may be going on around me.

I did a lot of whinging during this project. Stitching up the 272 squares seemed like a never ending task. But eventually it did end and I began the border. I couldn't decide on a border and changed my mind a couple of times before deciding to finish the blanket off with a single round of each colour (well, most colours, I didn't have enough brown, dark green or gold/yellow). The extra wide border helped use up more of the yarn (I wanted to minimise the leftovers) and added some much needed width to the blanket.

I finished the last round on Tuesday night and did a little happy Babette Blanket dance when I wove in the last end.

Turns out that the happy dance was a bit premature.

Friday I decided to block the blanket (why? why? it didn't really need it). I soaked it in the usual manner, squished out as much water as I could which wasn't very much. Considering this dripping mass I had a great idea (moron). As it is superwash yarn I decided a few minutes in the washing machine gentle spin couldn't hurt (why? why?) and so I tossed it in.

A few minutes later I pulled out the blanket to find that the centre of about a quarter of the 272 blocks had - well - errr - self destructed. I should have taken a photo for you all to gape at in horror - because it was horrific - but I confess sharing my disaster was the last thing on my mind at that point.

I was gutted. Of course it was entirely my fault -- these squares start differently than the granny square technique I've used in the past -- and it is obviously far less forgiving of a slapdash finish when weaving in ends.

I cursed and considered trashing the whole thing.

But of course I didn't. I sat at my kitchen table, with a very damp blanket on my lap and began the long process of fixing the squares. The good news is that crochet doesn't unravel from the starting end, so things didn't get worse.....

I worked off and on repairing the blanket and in all it took over 9 hours to get it back to the finished state. As the state of the blanket improved, so did my mood and yesterday I did manage to get a photo of the last damaged square for historical purposes.

The finished blanket is 54 inches x 90 inches -- a good size for a single bed (it's on a double bed in this photo) and perfect for curling up on the sofa. It's almost 3 times the size of the Babette Blanket pattern as written (43x40 inches).

The finished weight of the blanket is 1500 gm.

I used mostly Indigo Moon Vancouver series superwash fingering weight yarn, in a rainbow of 15 colours. I supplemented that with 2 colours from Dream in Colour Smooshy sock yarn. All from Socktopus which has an amazing selection of really special sock yarn (including my favourite Duet Sock Yarn!).

The blanket is exactly what I set out to make.

It's not elegant, it's not sophisticated, but it makes me smile. When I wrap it around myself I feel warm and cosy.

It's sort of a hug in supewash!

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Decisions, Decisions....

I'm facing a few yarn-y type decisions at the moment. I could pretend that I was about to embark on some sort of democratic process where I'd ask for your votes and then go with the majority. But anyone who knows me knows I'm a control freak with an ornery nature and so that's not going happen. (But suggestions are always welcome --eventually I'll come back to them and realise you were right all along.)

First decision is what to do with this amazing handspun (handspun!) (eeeee) merino yarn, spun by LittleBerry and happily rehomed with me. I love it. LittleBerry has no idea how excited I was when this arrived. I've never had handspun yarn before. And for the past year every time I've seen someone's handspun yarn with the multiple mult-coloured plies twisted together I've felt a pang of envy.

And now I've got some! Yipppppeeeee!!!

This deserves a special project - and until I find the right pattern I'll just admire it.

My second decision is what my next big knitting project should be. I've been amazed and inspired and impressed (as always) by things appearing in blogland lately. Two projects in particular have made me want to tackle something meaty. Tinker has this amazing shawl from a Niebling curtain pattern. Fleegle has this amazing afghan from a German (I think) magazine.

To further inspire myself I've got some new books in, and there are some beautiful projects in them.

However, for the last couple of days for no reason that I can really make sense of I've been thinking of knitting a .... Christening gown. To be clear, neither I or anyone I know is pregnant or expecting to be pregnant any time soon. My nieces and nephew ARE FAR TOO YOUNG TO BE STARTING FAMILIES AND SHOULD BE ENJOYING HIGH SCHOOL AND UNIVERSITY SO DON'T THINK THIS IS SOME SORT OF WEIRD HINT. (Apologies for the lecture to all of you who aren't one of my nieces or newphew or a teenager.)

Anyway - a Christening gown seems to have made its way on to my 'to do' list and may be the next thing I cast on.

Or it may not.

My last decision is what to do with this Noro Silk Garden. I ordered this yarn over a month ago with a specific pattern in mind -- but since then I've been dithering. (Really? Me? Dither?) I have occasional lapses of creativity and think I should design something myself. And then I change my mind and decide I should be making the pattern that inspired me to order the yarn. If you check this blog in a year I expect I'll still be dithering.

Babette Watch
For those of you wondering about my crochet progress (and to annoy teenage boys hoping to find something a little more interesting than a knitting blog when googling 'Babette Watch') I finish with this small update.

The squares presented here my bloggy friends are not just any Babetter squares. No, not at all. These squares are the LAST SQUARES of the Babette Blanket.


I'll block them and over the weekend I'll stitch together the final panel and begin the mega border. The end is in sight.