Monday, 28 July 2008

Hell must have frozen over

Because I have a finished object to show you! Unfortunately I have yet to think up a way of taking an action shot of a hat without my head being involved, so you'll just have to do your best to overlook it:

As Mike so kindly pointed out, I haven't quite mastered the "well-adjusted, non-manic human being" look. Also, contrary to appearances, I am not naked in these photos

Apologies for the blurriness, but it was 33 degrees when I took these and my enthusiasm for messing-around-with-camera-settings-while-wearing-a-woolly-hat was beginning to wane. (OK, I could spend all the time in the world fiddling with the settings and I still wouldn't be able to take an in-focus picture, but at least this way I have a pleasing excuse.)

Anyway! The pattern is Robin's Egg Blue Hat, and if the yarn looks familiar it's because it's leftover Lana Grossa Royal Tweed from the Textured Tunic I knit last year. The hat took exactly one ball, so if for some reason I can't yet think of I wanted two more identical hats, then lo, they could be mine! I think I'll change the button at some point though; I'd rather have something with four holes and a rim. As for why I suddenly felt inspired to make a Winter hat in, erm, July, your guess is as good as mine. Maybe next week we'll have freak snow storms and I'll finish the Drawstring Chemise.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

O Summer, where art thou?

I've always had it in for the Gulf Stream. In geography at school we learnt that the current was responsible for our "delightfully" mild maritime climate, and from then on I constantly fantasised that it would one day, in a fit of meteorological pique (because, you know, currents are always having those), re-root itself and usher in scorchingly hot Summers and picture-perfect crisp, snowy Winters. Never mind that I already complained whenever the days dropped below 19°C and got goose bumps at room temperature. In my imaginary Winters I'd somehow acquired the knack of getting fetchingly rosy cheeks without a red nose, my hair behaved itself beautifully in uncannily Heidi-like plaits, and the whole thing was topped off by charming knitted hats which miraculously didn't make me look like a juvenile delinquent.

When I announced my intention of going to university in Edinburgh it was met with general bafflement. "But it'll be...cold," my usually eloquent parents pointed out. They gently suggested that I consider somewhere a little further South, like, say, Spain. But I stood firm, for reasons much too embarrassing to confess to the internet, and my bemused parents duly drove me up, stocked my cupboard with Marmite and Heinz tomato soup, and drove off again. Two hours after they'd left I'd drunk all the soup and was wondering whether wearing a sleeping bag with head- and armholes cut into it would make me too conspicuous in lectures.

Anyway, you've probably got the idea: I don't really do cold. Which is why the current weather is particularly grump-inducing. After a gorgeous May and June, Summer seems to have decided it's done its bit for the year, and July's been a damp squib. Practically British, in fact, except (what with being in Berlin and all) I can't implicate the Gulf Stream in this one. (But it's not over yet, Gulf Stream! Victory will one day be miiine! Ahem.)

All of which is just an extreeemely long-winded way of saying that - you guessed it! - I've made pretty much no progress on the Drawstring Chemise. We're talking not-discernible-to-the-naked-eye progress. In fact, it might even have got shorter since I last posted. But when the forecast gloomily prophesises 18° cloudiness with the odd shower or two thrown in for good measure, finishing up a skimpy Summer top doesn't exactly seem pressing.

I wonder what the German view on sleeping bags as outerwear is?

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

The finer things in life

Knit So Fine has had very mixed reviews on Amazon, so I thought I'd chip in my two (Euro) cents. First, the not-so-good: I found most of the (26 page long!) introduction supremely irritating. Maybe it's just that in my case the authors were preaching to the converted, but honestly, does anyone need to be told that, "thin yarns weigh less than thick ones", or require visual proof that, "a lace pattern looks better when knitted in a fine yarn"? Their definition of fine yarn seems a bit off to me anyway; they consider anything knitting up at more than 5 stitches per inch to be fine, which means that DK is, according to them, thin. Hmmm.

Some of the reasoning is a little wonky as well - at one point they provide a rather entertaining picture of a Barbie doll dressed first in a bulky knitted dress (3 stitches/inch) and then in a lightweight one (7 stitches/inch). "Even the fashion doll," they enthuse, "looks better in the clingy, thin, curve-hugging fine-guage yarn. If the difference in gauge makes a doll look better, imagine what it will do for real bodies!" Erm, surely it's the other way round? At three stitches per inch, each stitch is a very significant percentage of Barbie's itty-bitty measurements, and she'll look proportionally chunkier wearing a garment knit at this gauge than a human adult would. Or have I grossly misunderstood some basic principle of physics? (It wouldn't be the first time; I've occasionally counted on the laws of gravity charitably overlooking me.)

My final niggle with the introduction is that some of the advantages of fine yarns which the authors wax so lyrical about aren't represented in the patterns. Colour work, for example - zilch! Unless you consider stripes to be colour work, which I have been known to do in unambitious moments.

But, that grumble aside, on with the patterns! There are, I think it's fair to say, some exceptionally iffy ones, but I'm very taken with others. Three of the four in the mini collage above are already sitting impatiently in my Ravelry queue (the fourth - the Bohus jumper in the top left corner - looks gorgeous there but is, in fact, disappointingly frumpy when seen in full). I'm also smitten with the wrap dress, which I'll never have the patience to make, unless perhaps I resurrect my mum's knitting machine from wherever it's currently collecting dust. Or acquire a troupe of dexterous child slaves.

In other news, in the last three weeks I've knit exactly eleven rows of the Drawstring Chemise. A new slothfulness record! And to think that I was seriously toying with the idea of entering the Ravelympics...

Sunday, 6 July 2008


What's that I see in the distance there? Surely it can't be...but wait, it is! That most elusive of creatures, a finished Surplice Bodice Camisole!

Yes, yes, spoilsports, I know it's not an action shot, but do I at least get half points?

Did I mention that this was incredibly, comatose-state-inducingly dull to knit? If I ever start making "maybe-I'll-whip-up-another-one" noises, somebody please prod me reprovingly with a needle.

Pattern: Surplice Bodice Camisole from Knitting Lingerie Style. I don't seem to have kept any notes for this project (pretend to be amazed at this display of disorganisation), but if memory serves I was working at a tighter gauge than stipulated, so followed the instructions for a size 36" or 38" in order to end up with something coming in at just under 32". Which sounds tiny, but my fear of Cotton S-t-r-e-t-c-h Syndrome knows no bounds.

Yarn: 3 skeins of Classic Elite Provence in "Special Walnut". Unfortunately the colour's a bit washed-out in real life, which is a problem I keep running into with dark browns - they look chocolatey rich in the ball, but when knit up turn out to be disappointingly anaemic.

Needles: Presumably I did indeed use some, but my non-existent notes are understandably hazy on specifics.

Mods: Not enough! I tinkered with a couple of things to compensate for my guage and added an inch or two to the length, but I really should have made the whole thing even longer. And in the highly unlikely event that I were to make this again (see needle poking instructions, above) I'd use something other than 100% cotton, so I could knit the lace section in the round without worrying about the dreaded cotton stretch factor. (Plus I had the damndest time working out how to seam the lace, as there weren't any selvage stitches, so knitting in the round would also save much desperate grovelling on Ravelry.)

So there you have it! It's...OK. In order for me to really warm to it I'd need to dye it a darker, cooler shade of brown and add another inch or so to the lace. The chances of either of these things ever happening are about as good as the chances of me changing my name to Honoratia and setting up as a dog aromatherapist, but what's life without a cheering dose of self-delusion?