Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Interweave Knits Spring has sprung!

And it looks great! Of course, being a lowly European subscriber my issue presumably won't bowl up until sometime mid-September, but at the rate I'm going I won't be ready for a new project till then anyway. (The Surplice Bodice Camisole is on hold while I wait for the ministering angels at Ravelry to rescue me from the depths of tension despair.) In an unsubtle attempt to distract you from my lack of progress I present my find of the day:

Is it wrong to want children purely as cupcake-making justification?

Monday, 21 January 2008

Who ya gonna call? Stashbusters!

The swatch for the Surplice Bodice Camisole is drying (by which I just mean that I've hung it up to dry - I highly doubt that it actually is drying, given the dismal damp), and I'm now twiddling my thumbs for want of a craftier use to put them to. Did I mention that I'm meant to be working on grammar exercises? So what better procrastination than a spot of mental stash-busting!

When I first started knitting I was sure I'd never accumulate a stash. Don't laugh! My logic was flawless: you buy yarn for a project, you use it for said project; you have, at most, a few odds and ends left over. But somehow things didn't quite pan out like that (yes, yes, hide your astonishment). Irresistible sales, abandoned projects and the odd gift or two have meant that, while I by no means have the kind of mammoth, threatening-to-engulf-entire-loft-extensions yarn collection that most of blog-land seems to, I've got enough to make me think twice about buying more. Most in-need-of-using-up are ten balls of Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk DK; seven skeins (or maybe hanks; is there a difference?) of Blue Sky Alpacas Alpaca Silk and three of Classic Elite Provence. I'm a bit stumped, to be honest: they all knit up to about 22 st/4", and for some reason very few of my patterns call for that sort of tension. I'm toying with a couple of ideas:

Puff-Sleeved Feminine Cardigan from Fitted Knits

Laced-Front Sweater from Knitting Lingerie Style

...but nothing's really clamouring "knit meeeee!" I may have to put my designing cap on (does anyone else hear that ominous music in the background?).

The real trouble with mental stashbusting is that you come up against so many things you'd like to knit but don't have the right yarn for. Yet. Because as we all know, the simplest solution to not having the right yarn is to buy some! The reason I have a stash problem in the first place may be becoming clearer...

Saturday, 19 January 2008

It's raining, it's pouring!

I don't normally consider rain particularly blog-worthy, what with being British and all, but in the four months I've been in Berlin I've only needed my umbrella once (admittedly this may say more about how often I leave the flat than about the weather), so I think this counts as headline-grabbing stuff.

In knittier news, I've decided to place Mike's jumper in the hands of the blocking fates. I don't much fancy having eleven balls worth of wet wool sitting around in my room, though (our flat's experiencing a bit of a damp problem; add a sodden jumper into the mix and the atmosphere might no longer support human life), so I'm waiting until the imminent arrival of a dehumidifier before attempting it. In the meanwhile, I've started swatching for my next project - je vous pr├ęsente the Surplice Bodice Camisole from Knitting Lingerie Style!
Isn't it sweet? I chose this example (courtesy of a Raveler named Vilma) because it's more or less the exact colour of the yarn I'm using; the chocolate brown Classic Elite Provence I showed a couple of posts ago. I don't think I've ever knit with pure cotton before, and I've been finding it a bit tiring on the hands. Plus I'm not entirely sure how much tighter you're meant to knit cotton than other fibres; the latest section of my swatch bears a startling resemblance to cardboard.

On a completely unrelated note, marvel at the cutene
ss of my aubergines!
Alright, that's actually a stock photo; I was too lazy to take a picture of mine. But they look exactly like that! In fact, the Chinese supermarket I got them from appears to have an entire refrigerator unit dedicated to unfamiliar aubergine varieties of varying cuteness, the most intriguing of which are these. I thought they were peppercorns until I read the label. Being a sucker for all things miniature (remind me not to go to Japan; my credit rating would never recover) I stocked up on a selection of baby vegetables, and now feel like a giant every time I open the fridge.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

What's wrong with this picture?

(Apart from the fact that I'm wearing pyjama bottoms at 11am on a Thursday.) Any guesses? How about if I told you that that's Mike's Secret Jumper I'm wearing? OK, the ribbed section's a bit big on me (I do have a waist somewhere in there, honest), and it does stretch out to more Mike-like proportions, but the top part fits me perfectly! If anything it's a bit snug around the armholes. Now, I have great faith in the miracle that is blocking (and am clinging desperately to the fact that my swatch grew when washed), but be honest with me - is there any chance that a me-sized sweater is going to blossom into a Mike-sized one? Should I keep the faith and plough on, or admit defeat and rip back? (Not that this should influence your decision, but in a fit of over complacency I may have already woven the ends in...)

Friday, 11 January 2008

Good job "better time management" wasn't one of my resolutions

Oops, that was a slightly looser interpretation of "another day or two" than I'd intended. Still, without further ado I present the last, ooh, month or so of my life, condensed into handy paragraph-sized format:

First up, I finished my work placement at the Bundestag, and did so without leaving any sort of political mess in my wake! Then it was moreorless (whoops, I keeps forgetting that's not a word) straight off to Vienna for a quick pre-Christmas break. (Average daytime temperature during our trip: -1°C. Percentage of waking hours spent in coffeehouses huddled over assorted steaming beverages: 90. Sightseeing? What sightseeing?) Beautiful city, supremely tacky Christmas markets, scrumptious coffee (apricot liqueur, where have you been all my life?), unpleasantly smoky restaurants, great hotel, curious preponderance of sushi bars. Oh, and Sachertorte is the most overrated thing since, erm...sliced bread. Next, back to Britain! Highlights included the North London derby and the revival of Nicholas Nickleby at the Gielgud; lowlights included the annual ordeal that is Family Christmas (a misleading name, suggesting as it does that a) it takes place at Christmas and b) is a convivial affair. Instead, Family Christmas is a strictly segregated post-festivities hangover, with the "children" [aged 19 to 32] relegated to the kitchen, allowed to integrate with the "adults" only when saying hellos and goodbyes. I have a feeling that one day I'm going to need extremely expensive psychoanalysis for this). But I digress! Christmas itself was lovely. And I have knitting-related bounty!
Meet Elefante, who I found peering out of my stocking on Christmas morning (yes, I still get a stocking. What can I say; I don't keep my inner 6 year-old on a very tight rein). My mother was up till 3am on Christmas Day finishing him (well, I had to get my time management skills from somewhere...), and thinks I'm decidedly peculiar for being so smitten with him.

Yes, I only know how to do one thing in Photoshop

Next up, wool! Well, cotton, technically (Egyptian, no less!), which my mother picked up for me in New York. I see a couple of pretty summer tops in my future...Possibly from this gorgeous book, which was my grandmother's present to me. (My grandma is about to turn 91, and has no idea that she's given me a book with the word "lingerie" in the title. I reciprocated by giving her a DVD player which neither of us has the least idea how to use.) Or possibly from Interweave Knits, because yup, I am now the proud holder of a subscription! A pretty good haul for one year, oder?

Back in the present I'm in Berlin again, dividing my time judiciously between Ravelry and Frasier reruns while waiting for my language course to start. Hopefully I'll have some knitting progress to show at the weekend, when I have a more man-sized model at my disposal.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Happy ever-so-slightly-belated New Year!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas (nope, I'm not going to start listing myriad religious and ethnic alternatives - hands up anyone reading this who actually celebrates Kwanzaa?*) and that no-one's fallen off the resolution bandwagon yet! (Having said that, my New Year's resolution is remaining firmly under wraps, the better to avoid public humiliation when I inevitably fail miserably to stick to it.)

The pictures above give some indication of what I've been up to over the past couple of weeks, but, lazy so-and-so that I am, it might be another day or two before the accompanying words materialise. Till then!

* (Digging myself out of my politically incorrect hole) not that I have anything against Kwanzaa, but I'm damned if I'm going to start saying "happy winter holidays" any time soon just to cover all the bases. Though that does remind me of a story I had as a child about a family of Jewish badgers whose daughter... hmm, on second thoughts maybe that's one for another day .