Tuesday, 2 October 2007

This post narrowly avoided having a painfully bad pun for a title

After extensive comparative tasting (I don't know, the things I do for this blog...) I can finally announce that the best Laugenbrezeln in Berlin are those from the Ditsch in the lower level of Alexanderplatz station. All Ditschs do pretty damned good Brezeln though - they bake them in open ovens in front of you, so as often as not they're still orgasmically hot when you get them. (Is it wrong to use the word "orgasmically" in reference to baked goods? Maybe the love between woman and Brezel is one that ought not speak its name.)

Anyway, my much abused stomach is now recuperating from its Brezel marathon, but my hands have come out of retirement and started knitting again! Chiefly because I finally figured out how to do magic loop, which meant I could start on the sleeves of the purple cardigan I mentioned a post or two ago. Voici!

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's magic loop!

This is a commemorative picture, really, as the sleeve will be ripped out when I can muster the heart to do it. Partly because I misjudged where to start the garter stitch ever so slightly (by, erm, about two inches), and partly because I'm going to tweak the shaping a bit, so that the increases and decreases form a sort of underarm 'seam'. At the moment they form two 'side seams,' which seems a bit silly for a technique whose appeal lies in its seamlessness. Actually, though, the whole seam issue has led me to conclude that - much as I like the physical process - sewing sleeves in the round probably isn't for me. The thing is, I don't actually mind seaming sleeves. And sewing a sleeve on straight needles and then seaming it is much less time consuming than all the pushing and pulling of magic loop. Plus, if the sleeve's at all shaped you're going to get some sort of seam effect anyway, so why not have the real thing?

Still, if you've never tried magic loop - or if you have but without much success - I thought I'd share the tips I found most useful. To get you started, I'd recommend this video, but it's worth having a look at this one too, which will show you how to create a less visible join (it's actually aimed at knitters working with two circular needles, but this particular tip is just as applicable to magic loop). Both videos begin with a fair amount of spoken guff at the beginning, but bear with them! There's genuinely useful stuff buried in there.

Magic loop becomes much easier to work after you've done a few rounds and are getting into the swing of things, but to help you through those awkward early stages my top pointers would be: a) always slide the next set of stitches to be worked onto the needle before you slide the set just worked back onto the cord. This saves all sorts of confusion. And b) to avoid ladders of looser stitches forming at the joins of your work, pull especially tightly when working the second stitch on each side, rather than the first. (I have no idea why this should work, but it certainly seems to.)

In other knitting news (if 'news' isn't too grandiose a term for what is essentially me rambling), I'm rather taken with this scarf from the Autumn edition of Knitty; I have a feeling it'll worm its way onto my frantic-last-minute-whirlwind-panic-midnight-on-Christmas-Eve-knitting-list (to give my Christmas knitting list its full name), destined for an unsuspecting male or two. (I have yet to meet a man who was anything more than lukewarm at the prospect of receiving handknitted gifts from me. Fortunately this hasn't dampened my enthusiasm in the slightest.) As for the Woodins, I may have to hire someone to sit on my fingers full time and thus forcibly prevent me from abandoning all other occupations (eating, sleeping, breathing, etc) and knitting them for - I really wish I could say "my three-year-old nephew" here - myself.

Back in the present, I'm hoping to have the cardigan finished before Mike gets here so I can wear it to pick him up at the airport, but given that that's less than four days away, and that I still have almost all of both sleeves to do, not to mention re-knitting part of the back (it seems a bit baggy all of a sudden), working out how to do the yoke, grafting the underarms and finding the perfect ribbon to finish it all off, this may be one of my more wildly optimistic plans...

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