Monday, 22 March 2010

Tourist Socks

The past 10 days my knitting had to be portable so that it could accompany me as I guided the delightful Dylann (my niece) and the angelic Alina (her friend) around the sights of London as they used March break to escape from the stresses of grade 12.

We began with the obligatory bus tour. I'm a fan of the bus tour - it gives the new London visitor a good overview of the sights and I always learn a new fact (or probably more accurately get reminded of an interesting fact that I learned last time but forgot). The tour also provides 2 hours of knitting time so I cast on a pair of socks using a gorgeous blue, green 'Duet' yarn from the Swell Yarn Shop. I love Duet Sock Yarn - the colours are gorgeous and it's great to work with. I finished a few inches before the tour ended.

In order to keep the neat little rows of colour and avoid pooling I replaced my usual heel flap with a short row heel -- a first for me! I think the heel flap will still be my 'go to' heel but it's nice to have another option in the repetoire.

I joined the kids for some shopping, visits to the galleries (I love the National Gallery and the Tate Modern amuses/baffles/annoys me!) and at performances of the Lion King and Les Mis. But as I've visited all of the big sights once (or twice!) I fell into a nice pattern of guiding them to attractions, finding the nearest Starbucks (not really selected for the coffee, more for the comfy chairs) and knitting away happily while they toured the Clink Prison, the Globe, the London Eye, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, St Paul's, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Madame Tussaud's, and of course glorious Greenwich Park.

This meant that by the time I packed them back off to Canada Dyl was not only well acquainted with the sights and history of London she was also the proud owner of two new pairs of socks. (The second pair was a pair of ribbed socks in DK weight yarn - Opal yarn. (I think.))

In return I had a week of a lot of laughs, lots of my favourite card game (and winning! Ha!) and singing our favourite songs.

A pretty good deal I think!

Monday, 8 March 2010

It's all about perspective

On Friday my friendly Amazon delivery man delivered my new television. I didn't particularly need a new television - my old one worked fine (although it isn't digital)(or HD) - but the mood just struck me and because Amazon Prime makes these things all too simple a day later my new 37" HD telly arrived. Too (foolish)(impatient)(both probably) to wait for help I risked my arms, back and the warranty by lugging the thing up two flights of stairs.

A few expletives and close calls later the tv was unpacked and set up. And suddenly, my old television, which seemed fine to me before looked TINY. Like some sort of handheld tv you'd carry with you on a coach trip and the new tv seems HUGE. Like a cinema screen.
And what does this have to do with knitting you are probably asking (to be honest I forgot myself) -- but it will all become clear (as soon as I remember).

When last we met I was ready to start the Queen Susan - the yarn was ordered and the pattern downloaded and printed (all 70 pages worth!).

The yarn arrived and it is gorgeous. But holy fine yarn batman! It's so thin!

For comparison here's a snap of some yarns I've used for projects over the past couple of years. There's the chunky yarn I used for Gen's caridigans, the aran weight yarn I used for my sister's Nantucket Jacket*, a dk weight, a sock weight, Jaggerspun Zephyr laceweight (a laceweight yarn I used for lots of my lace shawls) and the yarn I'm using for the Queen Susan.

Look how fine the Queen Susan yarn is -- it's no thicker than thread! Suddenly that laceweight Zephyr looks chunky.

But it is BEAUTIFUL yarn. Some of you may recall my whinging about the Shetland lace yarn I used for the Lerwick Shawl -- it was quite uneven and felt really fragile at some points. This yarn (designed and spun to the genius Fleegle's specifications and dyed by Artist's Palette) is evenly spun and doesn't make me feel it's a stitch away from snapping.

Working with a yarn this fine requires good pointy needles. I started the project with some standard Addi's but that was torture -- the pont wasn't nearly pointy enough. A trip to iKnit later and I was zooming along with a pair of Knit Pro (Knit Pick) circulars. (Zoom being a relative term.)

I haven't actually made much real progress - I did two repeats of the alternative centre before I decided that I wanted to make the original centre. So back to the starting line and not even a full repeat in this photo.

I've also been working on a pattern called Summer Night Top as a birthday present for Caroline. It's a pattern I fell in love with when I came across it - and I think it'll look great on her.

* Speaking of sweaters that look great on their recipients - here are some snaps of my sister in her Nantucket Jacket. I feel that my blog may be bringing my sister to her true calling as a model -- how fab does the Nantucket look on her??