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Monday, August 31, 2009

And we're back

It's been an amazing holiday but there are a few things I'm glad to get back to like real milk in tea and coffee, my spinning wheel (one more skein of grey Shetland spun up today), and you guys. I'll be blogging about the holiday in exhaustive detail in the next couple of days but in the meantime here's an Alpine cow complete with cowbell.

Alpine cow near Le Prarion

All those cows and they still give you crema for your coffee.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Alternative listening

What with Brenda Dayne being on summer vacation and Miss Violet following the Mountain Sole Trail I decided I needed to scout around for a couple more knitting podcasts to listen to whilst my two favourites are off the air.

I came up with The Knitmore Girls presented by Jasmine and Gigi and Never Not Knitting presented by Alana.

I downloaded two episodes of each to give each podcast a fair chance and listened to them on the train coming back from Bolton on Sunday and I really enjoyed both shows. It took me a little longer to get into The Knitmore Girls but by the second episode I'd figured out the format of the show and got used to the two different voices*. Both shows feature yarn and book reviews and knitting stories. I loved the story of the Joseph knitting told by Nic in episode 22 of Never Not Knitting and Alana's own story in episode 21 of how she used to cure "woolophobes" of their fear of the scratchy stuff was really funny. Alana's show also has great music editing and a really catchy theme song.

* Although why two different voices should worry me when I've been happily confusing Lime, Violet, and Carin (they all sound the same to me!) for the past three years I don't know.

Holiday knitting

I knit these Monkeys whilst not exactly on holiday but whilst travelling at least. On the train (and tube) to London, whilst helping to look after my niece, whilst on another train up to Bolton, and the very last bits on my bus to and from work. All this knitting whilst on the go, all the gathering up of parcels and stuffing knitting into bag to change trains (or nappies) might explain whilst I slipped up a teensy bit on the second sock. You don't see it?

Handspun Monkeys

I'm a repeat short in the foot, argh! I only noticed last night at knitting and there's no time to fix it now before these are whisked away to be samples for Megan at FibreFest. The consolation is that I only noticed the mistake after some careful comparison and counting so maybe no-one else will spot it, right?

That apart, I love these socks. I'm so happy with how my handspun sock yarn turned out and quite suprised that I was able to spin a 3 ply fine enough to knit on 2.5mm needles. The bfl/silk blend was lovely to spin with and I really love the blend of solid and heathered colours that emerged.

As there wasn't actually anything I could do about it last night I tried to put it out of my mind and get on with some more sock knitting. Having just finished two projects and not having another in a state where I just just pick it up and start knitting I was scouting around last night for a simple project that I could just get going on and came across this long neglected sock.

Rainbow jaywalkers

At one point I had knit these up to the heel of the first sock using what I thought was a proven formula for me before I tried them on and realised that I would risk DVT every time I wore them. I ripped back, obviously did something reall weird with the yarn (there's a whole separately wound ball inside the yarn cake), re-knit as far as the toe and then got distracted.

Rainbow Jaywalkers

i'm not quite sure why because I love this yarn. It's the last of my Jaeger Matchmaker Merino which I dyed into a rainbow stripe pattern using food colouring. Each colour change is just about a single round and the effect is both gorgeous and designed to keep me knitting, just till the next colour change.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Treasures: part one

A couple of posts ago I wrote about a few things that I'd enjoyed that week and this got me on to planning a short series of posts to share some of my "treasures", things I enjoy and which I hope you will too. This isn't an unselfish exercise as I'm very much hoping that, although I don't plan to tag anyone, some of you will share your "treasures" (either in your blogs or in the comments here) in return and I'll get a whole load of recommendations!

To start off with I'd like to tell you about some blogs I really enjoy. I'm not mentioning my friends' (you know who you are) blogs here simply because I figure that if you read this blog then you're probably familiar with them already and I'd like to introduce you to something new.

Fat Orange Cat Studio is the blog of Li Ward a pet (and now wedding) photographer based in Boston. I found her blog by way of her knitting blog, domesticrafts, where she still posts from time to time. Her photography is exquisite. Even if you're not really a pet person I defy you to resist cooing over some of her subjects, for instance this little guy, and I love her descriptions of each shoot. She's even shared some of her tips for photographing subjects who typically won't stay still (in an article for the NY Times Gadgetwise blog) which I can tell you work just as well for babies as they do for pets.

Life at La Bastiole is the story of an American family living in the south of France (think A Year in Provence except without John Thaw). Sadly for her readers 'Madame Marron' et sa famille have now moved back to les États-Unis so there will be no more stories about Jules their eccentric (to say the least) landlord or the complexities of pétanque. However, the archive is still there to enjoy and I really hope that once the bustle of the move is over she will start writing about being an American who used to live in France and now lives in the US again.

Vanessa Cabban, who writes do you mind if I knit?, is a children's book illustrator, knitter and crocheter. I always visit her blog when I feel in need of a colour hit. Recently she's been treating her readers to a series of photographs from country shows and open gardens in the border country - really I could lick some of that jam off the screen!

I'll be back in the next day or so with more treasures. In the meantime you can check out all the blogs that I like in my blogroll in the sidebar.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Spin, ply, wash, dry

Hand spun sock yarn in Cherry and Espresso dyed by The Thylacine.

Handspun Cherry and Espresso

I offered to spin and knit a sample for Megan's stand at FibreFest at the end of August. I chose this beautiful colourway on a base of oatmeal bfl and silk and it has spun up beautifully. Not quite like I thought it would, the brown looks much darker, almost grey once spun, but that's always one of the nice surprises about spinning, how colours appear to change when spun and plied.

I've only plied about half the spun fibre so far as I just needed to have something to take away with me to London for the next few days so I could get a start on the knitting. I've cast on for a pair of Monkeys on 2.5mm needles but I'm taking the rest of my Harmony dpns along just in case I need to go up a needle size.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

This week I have mostly ...

... been reading I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.

I Capture the Castle

I really can't recommend this charming book too highly. It came to me with glowing reviews from Lara and Brenda Dayne and it didn't disappoint. If you've already read I Capture the Castle you might also like The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets which has a very similar feel to it.

... been watching Man on Wire on BBC2. This is a beautifully, quirky documentary about Phillippe Petit's compulsion to walk on a wire stretched between the two towers of the World Trade Centre. The story of how he and his team broke in there and the wire walk itself is funny and fascinating and the whole thing is only made more poignant by the fact that the buildings that he danced between are no longer standing. It's still available to view on BBC iPlayer.

... been listening to the BBC Proms, in particular A Celebration of Classic MGM Film Musicals which featured, amongst other artists, the multi-talented Seth McFarlane. I mean, I knew the guy could sing, but boy can he sing. This is also still available to watch or listen to on iPlayer.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Grey lace on a grey morning

So grey, in fact, that the only way I could get any decent shots of Arisaig in progress was to squish it onto the window sill in the study on the side of the flat where the sun, if it had decided to put in an appearance this morning, would have been.


But whereas the grey outside is just flat and depressing, in fact the sky is really white rather than grey, the grey lace is far from that. The handspun yarn has a lovely springy texture and the colour of the natural grey Shetland fibre is full of subtleties.


Another cause for happiness is that, although you can't see it from these shots, I am onto the very last row of lace before the back shoulder shaping which means that the back is almost done. This does, of course, mean that shortly I'll be back onto knitting 2x2 rib on the tiny tiny needles for the fronts but it makes such a lovely crisp fabric that it's really worth it.