Sunday, June 29, 2014

Playing with my Paint Box

Photo by Christine Laennec
Last Saturday I met up with my knitterly pal, Christine Hooray!
We scooted out to Oyne where we enjoyed good coffee, good food, and some wonderful relaxed stitching while we caught up on each other's news.  Christine exhibited remarkable self-control in the yarn section of Touched by Scotland.  Me? I couldn't walk away from 2 skeins of Colinette Cadenza in the colourway "Paint Box".

Dappled Mitts pattern by Shirley Macdonald
 A week later, and I decided to take my new yarn for a test-run.
I thought the splotchy dye would look best as crochet, and started out by trying the Dappled Mitts pattern from Inside Crochet, Issue 48 (above).
That sad little strip of work took me ages and doesn't do justice to either the yarn or the pattern.

Pattern by Elizabeth Trantham
For my next attempt, I went back to basics and used the "Colorful Stripey Fingerless Mitts" pattern by Elizabeth Trantham (above).  This was much quicker, and much more like the paint-spattered effect I was expecting from this yarn.
But the more I looked at it, the more I thought this yarn would be better-suited to a baby-centric project.
So I did the decent thing and stored it away in the stash, waiting for the next knit-worthy baby to be born.  It may be there for some time... but that's OK.
Better that than fighting its true destiny.
Vintage Fremont, nearing completion
Today I returned to Vintage Fremont, Act Three.
I had knitted 25 pointy wedges (instead of the original 18), and "all" I had left to do was the zigzag bind-off.
I decided the only thing to be done was to sit down and commit to finishing it.
Eight hours, several coffees and a chocolate brownie later....
It is upstairs, blocking on a towel.  Two towels, actually.
That zigzag bind-off edge is 2.5 metres long.
As FL would say:  "Cheese-oh!"
Yup, it's a big fella. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Looks Like Cosmic Wonder Dust

It has been a week since I last wrote.
Everything is fine here - I am knitting away and have a single (Pavilion) sock to show for it.
And I really need to finish my latest Vintage Fremont so I can move on.  Those rows are getting ridiculously long.
I topped up my supply of yarn for the Mystery Crochet Blanket and  have been curled up in my nest with a podcast in my ear while I hook my way round and round in ever increasing squares.
FL is doing OK - still on Pomalidomide, with the offer of another blood transfusion this coming week if his haemoglobin continues its downward spiral.  But he is (touch wood) clear of infections and his jaw has settled down again.
On Friday night, we went out to the theatre!
No, seriously, I'm not pulling your leg - we really did.
We went into the city to see a touring production of West Side Story.  It was hard to set aside my over-critical eye, and I think FL was taken aback by the details that bothered me:  that the male and female leads were singers but not dancers (at all - no attempt was made at movement); that the male dancers were probably not ballet-trained and lacked upper-body strength;  that too much of the singing was coming from the throat instead of the diaphragm;  and that I could spot the joins between set piece rehearsals.
Yeah... you're probably a bit pissed with me too for those comments.
This is Aberdeen.  I should be grateful they came here at all.
Moving on...
I made some purchases.
Miss verykerryberry was singing the praises of Japanese double gauze, and a few web-wanderings later, I found this amazing teal splotchy Nani Iro print at Guthrie and Ghani.  Inevitably, I took the opportunity to buy some Atelier Brunette cotton lawn in the Hirondelle design while I was there.
I am a bit grumpy with myself for buying more fabric when I haven't done anything to reduce my stash... like, you know, actual sewing, but I hope this will inspire me to get stitching.

 And there is some new yarn too...
This is Colinette Cadenza in the Paint Box colourway, discovered in Oyne.
Listen, if you knew how much I was lusting after the vastly-more-expensive Madelinetosh Cosmic Wonder Dust colorway, you would totally understand why I couldn't walk away from it!
What's it for?
Probably some crochet mitts... or even the Blue Notes cowl?
Hmmm- yes I think that might be just the thing!
Crochet - it's the new knitting, dontcha know?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Weekend with a Book and Assorted Stitches

Thank you from FL for all your birthday wishes :)
That's another birthday season successfully negotiated - phew!
So what am I doing now that I am not racing the sock clock?

Sewing isn't happening, but I have been preparing to sew.
I have traced the patterns for the Eloise and Melanie dresses from Un Ete Couture, but am hesitating over fabric purchases and questioning whether either style is truly "me".
I have reached a point where my me-made wardrobe feels adequate for my lifestyle and the season, with a few recent makes still unworn.  So I feel no compulsion to sew to fill gaps or simply to have new things. 
I would really like a linen Beatrice pinafore, but can't seem to commit to buying the fabric.  While I barely blink at spending £30 on yarn, it feels like a lot to spend on fabric for a single garment that I intend to wear around the house.
I have cut out my Snow White's apples fabric to make a blouse, but as I haven't yet worn either my stripey blouse or my Afternoon Blouse, it feels... superfluous to make another.

There was another burst of crochet activity yesterday, resulting in me running out of teal cotton about 18 inches from the end of a round of my giant mystery blanket.
I felt so frustrated with myself for such a lack of planning!  So I have now ordered an extra ball of each of the remaining colours, in the realization that I WILL run out of yarn.

So I am knitting - of course.
I am at the end of Clue 2 on Sock 1 of Rachel Coopey's Pavilion sock.  Clue 3 is out now and I will take it to the waiting room on Tuesday and hopefully polish that off this week.
Meantime I am ploughing up and down the ever-lengthening rows of my laceweight Vintage Fremont shawl.  I am now on my 20th "point".  At some point soon, I will have to decide to start the zigzag edging / bind off, but I am aiming to use as much of my yarn as possible.
I am trying really hard not to cast on anything new until I finish one of these projects.

I have just emerged from a binge-reading of "My Salinger Year" by Joanna Rakoff.
Some unkind people have suggested it is"The Devil Wears Prada" set in the literary world.  Well...only in the sense that she (the author) has a demanding and slightly eccentric boss and works as an Assistant.  Otherwise?  No - this is a really compulsive and well-written book, a literary book, a book about literature and writing and reading.
Joanna Rakoff herself draws comparisons between herself and Jean Rhys, and there are elements of that same melancholy hopelessness of a young woman depending on a man for her place in the world.  And sometimes I could shake her... while at the same time recognising my younger self and that implicit belief in "destiny".  Oh dear me, yes.
JD Salinger himself has a walk-on part in this autobiography.  And I need to re-read Joyce Maynard's autobiography now, At Home in the World, to see if I recognise him as the same person from a different angle.
Have I read any Salinger?  Nope.  I have tried to read "The Catcher in the Rye" and I spent some time with "Franny and Zooey" once upon a time, but I couldn't get on with either.  Maybe I need to try again.
My Salinger Year left me wanting more.  I enjoyed Ms Rakoff's voice and I really really want to know what happened next and why and how:  "Three years later I would pack up my children and leave him for my college boyfriend."  You did?  You DID?  What, that same guy you have been mentioning all the way through with such wistfulness?  Oh come on Joanna, spill the beans!  More, more!
I think you might enjoy this book.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

FO: Ehren Socks by Rachel Coopey for FL's Birthday - woot!

 Beam me up Scottie, I'm done!
At sunset on the night before  FL's birthday, I have finished his socks - yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!

The eagle-eyed among you will spot the hiccup on the left-most heel flap...
But I will be astonished if FL notices it.
And honestly?  It is the thought that counts!
Unlike my first attempt at his birthday socks, these are soft and squishy and wonderfully stretchy.

They could do with a gentle wet-block, but there's no time for that tonight.
Pass me the wrapping paper - he's already asleep so I can get them packaged up and squirrelled away under the bed ready for a surprise in the morning and he'll be none the wiser :)

Pattern:  Ehren by Rachel Coopey from the Little Bit Club, May 2014
Yarn:  Knitting Goddess 75% superwash merino, 25% nylon in "Hurray for the Mice", the Club yarn


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Ye Cannae Change the Laws of Physics

Still Star Trekkin' here...

This is the second sock of the pair for FL's birthday.
I have 40 rows plus the toe still to go...
Achievable?  I think so, as long as I don't make any more stupid mistakes.
We won't discuss the inside-out row on the heel flap.  It will be at the back of his foot in a shoe and he will never notice.

We got away from the hospital quickly today, as they agreed to ring him with his blood test results, rather than make us wait around for the usual 3 hours.
So we went to the dentist instead.
FL's phossy jaw problem is back.
Really?  Can't he just have some peace please?
Apparently not.
So I took my knitting to a different waiting room.
Oh look - it's my Vintage Fremont shawl!
Did you know that 875 yards of laceweight makes a shawl twice as large as 400m of sockweight?
And that means the rows are twice as long and there are twice as many of them?
Ye cannae change the law of physics...

Friday, June 06, 2014

The State of the Enterprise

Elbow number one of FL's sweater
"Captain's Log
Stardate 060614.1951

We have entered a spectacular binary sock system in the Rachel Coopey sector on a most critical mission of sockalogical research. Our eminent guest, Ms Roo BeeDoo will attempt to study the decline of crochet expelled at relativistic speeds from a massive stellar implosion which will occur here in a matter of hours."
Elbow number two of FL's sweater
  • "Captain's Log, supplemental. Our stash doors have clearly been tampered with and yet there is no sign of a breach of security on board. We have engines back and will attempt to complete our mission. But without a reliable knitter, Ms Roo Bee Doo's experiment is in serious jeopardy."
  • "Captain's Log, supplemental. Ms Roo Bee Doo has used her influence to have planet Twisted Limone designated the new home of self-striping civilization. Commander Data's neural network has been vacated. He has been returned to us unharmed and, with the help of the dpns, our computer core has been reconstructed in time for the experiment."
Twisted Limone self-striping sock yarn in PoppyFields colour
In other words:
  • FL's sweater required urgent surgery. 
  • my knitting was set to one side.
  • Sparkley crochet barnacles were applied to said sweater.
  • In a fit of fever, I purchased a ball of self-striping awesomeness.
  • two new sets of 2.5mm dpns have arrived and I have recommenced sock-production.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

My Summer of Socks

Warning:  this post includes spoilers of the Rachel Coopey mystery sock KAL "Pavilion", and the Knitting Goddess / Rachel Coopey sock club for June.
If you don't want to see either of those, please leave now :)
I am reading a book in French at the moment:  "L'Elegance Du Herisson" (The Elegance of the Hedgehog).  This is an attempt to invigorate my ancient braincells with the challenge of a language that is not my own.  As my reading time tends to be late at night, I often wake in the morning with random phrases running through my head.
One of the characters is described as: "Un bon gars qui aime une biere fraiche" (A good bloke who likes a cool beer) and when I saw this photo of FL, I was immediately reminded of it... especially as the same character is also called a "frog-intellectual-leftie" (please don't ask me to recall the French!).  FL has many facets to his character!
So here we are in the garden on a warm summer's day... he has a cold beer and his notebook and I have a coffee and my knitting.  Perfect!
We are having astonishingly pleasant weather here.  My garden is a blaze of colour with everything blooming at the same time, regardless of their usual timetable.  At one point there were still a few narcissi beside tulips, bluebells and the occasional poppy!
Today we were back at the hospital and the news was much better than expected.
The Pomalidomide is zapping FL's myeloma.  His kappa freelite score has fallen from 790 to 450 to 95 over the past few months.  The problem is that it is absolutely vicious poison and the doctors are having to monitor his haemoglobin and white cells closely, as both fell life-threateningly low last month.  So he has to report in once a week on a Tuesday, and has a standing appointment for a blood transfusion every Wednesday, to be used only as required.
He got a reprieve this week - yay!
So I am spending a lot of time in the Waiting Room...
I have therefore declared this to be My Summer of Socks.
First up:  Ehren from the Little Bit sock club (Rachel Coopey and the Knitting Goddess).  This was the kit from last month.  These are for FL's birthday on 12 June.
Yeah... maybe...
...because I also felt compelled to join the Unwind Festival / Rachel Coopey Mystery Sock KAL "Pavilion".
I am using a Skein Queen yarn from the stash:  Squash, in the colour Turkish Delight.
I had previously wound this yarn into one big ball, and it was only when I finished Clue One that I realised I couldn't work a second sock unless I unwound the rest of the ball to split it in two.  Oh Roo, you dimwit!
So I am thinking through that little scenario.
Meantime, I had scavenged the 2.5mm  needles from Ehren to allow me to get this far... and then had to steal them back today, after passing the colourwork section of Ehren (which I worked on 2.75mms) - phew!  Complicated!
So there was nothing for it, but to order another two sets of needles, just to be on the safe side.
I had to buy a skein of insane yarn to qualify for free postage - aw, shame!
This is Regia Fluormania in the DK weight, so 150g of neon self-striping madness.
FL suggested a scarf...
Be careful what you wish for, my dear!
Also in the post this week:  the latest Knitting Goddess / Rachel Coopey club yarn.
Did somebody say "gorgeous"?
The pattern is pretty spiffy too.
This might have to be my next pair!
 I will leave you for today with an outfit photo.
I finally got round to wearing my Factory Dress.
I really like it!  So comfortable and not nearly as baggy as I remembered.
I just might have to make another one soon!

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Me Made May: Week Four and Conclusions

OK -  here we go: Me Made May 2014, the last leg.

Friday 23 May:  Just another day at the office.  The day before I discovered that the left front wheel of my car was only attached by a spring and that I had therefore been driving a death-trap for weeks (when I hit a pot-hole and that funny noise started). 
Monday 26 May:  With 3 wheels on my wagon, FL had to drive me to a bus-stop (9 miles) so I could go to work.  We are not amused.
Tuesday 27 May:   I got my car back late on Monday night.  Just as well, as Tuesday was hospital check-up day.  FL had a funny turn in front of the doctor and was wheel-chaired to the consulting room.  His haemoglobin was dangerously low.  We went home and slept.
Wednesday 28 May:  Back to the hospital for a blood transfusion.  I went in to the office while FL had his tank filled with turbo-boost fuel.
Thursday 29 May:  A full day at the office.  2 of FL's golf pals visited him at home and dragged his horrible old chair out of the house and into the garden...  (yes, of course it is still there)...  and moved the high-backed bedroom chair into the sitting room so that we can now spend our evenings together again.
 Friday 30 May:  Waving in the window to FL before I set off for work.  Yes, I really really need a haircut.
Me Made May 2014, by numbers:

Most often worn:  Dark denim Peggy skirt on 7 days;  a Darling ranges dress of some description on 5 days;  something from a Lisette Portfolio pattern on 7 days; a Renfrew tee on 7 days; a Plantain tee on 5 days.

Not worn because there was something missing:  My LoveCats Mortmain dress because I didn't have a black or bright simple cardigan to make it work-appropriate.  This was a disappointment:  I really wanted to wear it.
Same story with my new Afternoon Blouse. A black or red cardigan would have propelled this into work-wear rotation.

Not worn because I didn't like them:  My new Lisette Portfolio trousers.  I tried to put them on twice and on both occasions had them off again in the space of seconds.  They felt horrible (static?) on my legs and looked saggy and baggy and frumpy.  Goodbye - you are off to the charity shop!

Any surprise new favourites?  Yes!  My Betsey Johnson linen wrap skirt :)

Oh look - I'm wearing it today!

Summary and Conclusions:
  1. Telling Zoe that I would probably wear my Audrey in Unst cardigan every day in May meant I was too self-conscious to wear it after May 1st - ha ha ha, typical Roo! 
  2. My need for lightweight cardigans continues:  I wore my new navy Boden one 10 times in May!
  3. I failed to stick to my plan to make any black and white separates.  The fabric is still waiting upstairs.
  4. I need a haircut.
  5. And I need a pair of summery Doc Marten's:  I wore my cherry DM chelsea boots 13 times in May... and my two-tone brogues have a hole in the sole.
Right.  First of June.  Let's see how long my front door looks like this shall we?