Friday 30 November 2007

Crisis averted

Mr Z handed me his credit card on Tuesday and invited me to order the new Knitpicks Harmony Interchangeables for my Christmas present (yeyyyy! SO excited). Well....I took the opportunity to try and order another 3 hanks of the Debbie Bliss Maya, and they were shipped yesterday, so I guess I didn't clean them out and I can knit Central Park in the biggest size and with the hood and everything. YEY. I plan to swatch it this weekend.

I noticed yesterday that one of the chav kids I work with has made off with my stress bat. My work friend Caroline bought it for me for my secret Santa in NQT year, and it has been hanging around at home for years gathering dust. Last month I finally brought it into school, where I used it once with my year nines, for an extremely successful game of Mallet's Mallet... an aside, I was not surprised when the kids hadn't heard of this, but I was slightly upset when the student teachers also looked at me blankly as I explained the game. Just how old am I these days?...

...where instead of associating words, the pupils had to give reasons for and against Haig being blamed for the Battle of the Somme. The game went down a storm and I vowed to keep the bat in school and do it again. Except that some chav kid had other ideas. Le sigh. Four years in the corner of my living room....less than four weeks in my classroom (and hidden in the cupboard, at that) and it's gone forever. I expect it's popped and covered in alcoholic vomit, screwed up in a bush in the local park or something.

Anyway, I was thinking about how I could replace it on the way home from work yesterday, and I decided to try and knit one. I think I could do it quite easily, and I've worked out how it would be constructed. I will add it to my list of dream projects, and perhaps get round to knitting it before I retire. Perhaps.

I know I promised Ester, but I'm not at home. Tomorrow, after I've had my hair cut. PROMISE!

Sunday 25 November 2007

Restless Needles

I don't know what to knit next.

I mean...I am knitting. I cast on yet another pair of Eowyns; this time in pink wool and purple Kid Silk, but I went down a needle size because the last time I did this they were a bit loose. Now they are a bit tight. But, I have big wrists, and they aren't for me.

But Eowyn is a 3 hour project, and I am hankering after something bigger. I went to Get Knitted today and, after half an hour of browsing, during which I was unable to find a satisfactory colour match for Rowan's Herring tweed (which they irritatingly do in DK and chunky, but not the aran I needed), I snapped and bought 10 skeins of Debbie Bliss Maya in dark purple. It was a bargain at £50 ( was a bargain) and I feel at peace because that yarn has been on sale on the GK website for at least 18 months. I had it in mind to knit the Central Park Hoody with it, as my first proper sweater project. I read the pattern carefully tonight and it seems simple enough. I was all ready to swatch.

And then I realised...I am approximately 300 yards short. And that's 300 yards, if I knit a size down to what I intended and block the crap out of it and hope it fits. Now, I could knit it without the hood but that seems to defeat the object. I could go for it and hope for the best, but I know I'll probably end up unable to frog it if I get to the end and realise I don't have enough for a satisfactory ending. I bought the last stocks the shop had, so I can't go back. And if I decide not to go for it - what will I use it for? And when will I feel happy about splashing out on yarn for the Hoody?

Big questions, folks. I bet you're glad you don't have my problems.

I'm blocking Ester as we speak. Finally. I pinned it all out nice and spritzed it with water scented with a little autumn BPAL, to disguise the fact that the bottle used to hold antibac spray (if I was going to wait until I remembered to buy a clean spray bottle, I wouldn't have Ester by spring 2009, let alone next year). Pinned, in a bright light, I can see lines running across the piece where obviously the yarn was dirty or something. I don't know that washing it will help. I am not even sure dying it will. I am just hoping that it won't be too obvious when I'm wearing it.

In the end I blocked it to 2XL even though I'd intended to make it just XL. This is a direct result of the wonder that is Ravelry. I finally received my invite for the beta version of this uberknitting site last week, and I have spent a vast amount of time on it since - which is why I know that people found Ester to be meanly sized. This website is serious about being good. It's like someone has taken the best ideas on the web and applied them to knitting. I have found loads of ideas for projects I want to knit, and it's so much fun to see other people's takes on patterns. Best of all, it synchs my blog to my profile. If this wasn't already mostly a knitting blog, it's going to be now.

It's got very wintry recently. I am starting to feel a bit festive. I saw a promotional poster in a card shop today of a slutty Santa girl in a Santa boob tube and hat. The whole thing was slightly repellent, but for the fabulous Santa wrist warmers she was wearing. This may be my next turn with Eowyn - red, with white lacey bits. I wonder how many times I can knit the same pattern. Maybe I should give up knitting anything else and just stick to this one item.

No pictures today, I'm too pensive. But you can expect a nice picture of me wearing a properly finished Ester in my next update. Promise.

Sunday 18 November 2007

Antifreeze. DONE.

And none too soon, although thankfully I don't live in the eastern counties, where it's currently snowing apparently.

This is a stick up. Give me all your yarn.

Let's try and do this properly...
Pattern: Antifreeze (Knitty, winter 2006)
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Merino DK
Needles: Addi circs, 3.75mm and 4mm
Pattern Mods: I don't crochet, ever. So when I got to the cast off, I knit 3 more rows as directed, in the CC. But I still wasn't happy - the opening still did not seem small enough. So I knit another round, and then I knit a round of K2,K2tog and then another round, and then I was kind of OK with it but figured I wouldn't know for sure until I cast off, so I did that.

But it's not great. If I pull it down and up so just my eyes are showing like it's pictured in the pattern, it doesn't look quite right.

I'm thinking wide-mouthed frog.

Really I should unpick the casting off and knit a serious decrease on the sides whilst adding rows to the top and bottom....but let's be realistic about this...

It fits with my ski goggles, so that will do. This may be the most technically difficult pattern I've done to date, so I'm not going to sweat it. I'm not even going to mention the couple of little holes where I obviously didn't do the w&t on the short rows quite right. I'm just going to revel in how warm it is, how cute the ponytail slots are, how that ribbing is right on my face actually isn't it....yargh. I had the right horizontal gauge, but I cast on for this so long ago I can't remember if I measured the vertical gauge as well. I am wondering whether that wasn't quite right.

Anyway. Onto bigger and better things. I am still pondering what to tackle next. Meanwhile I dragged this out...

The world's most useless bag. It was my first cable project....first big project, really. I remember thinking it was very extravagant because the yarn cost me nearly £20. If only I'd known. It is meant to be a yoga bag, knit in Sirdar denim chunky, from a pattern in a 2006 issue of Simply Knitting. Unfortunately, I was not about to knit the mat to go with it, since I don't do yoga, and it is much too stretchy to make it in life as a normal bag. So I have unpicked the component parts, and now have a strap knit in herringbone tweed (a stitch I love and must use again soon) and a big cabled rectangle. I quite fancy transforming it into some sort of knit skirt (to be worn over a slip, natch) but it is not quite big enough....I'd need to knit some sort of triangle to graft in so that it became a-line and not a garment that exacerbates my addiciton to cakes.

This week, I will be mostly concerning myself with that conundrum.

Friday 16 November 2007

Of balaclavas and Wiis

I am so finished with Ester, at long, long last. I cast off a couple of weeks ago, but I haven't finished it in that I haven't blocked or seamed it yet. I have woven in the ends, though. I am really pleased with how it looks, it's so soft and warm, and even though I intended to dye it when I was finished, I like it in a sort of "natural". I am a little bit worried, having read all my knitting books, that it's going to be droopy and stretched before too long, because it is quite a heavy fabric; but I think it'll be OK because the garment's quite short.

Yeah baby, it's ribbed (and cabled) for my pleasure.

Last time I ever put it over my sweaty gym t-shirt, I promise.
But check out my lovely manicure!

The top part is plenty big enough but the lower half seems narrower than it should be, hence the need to block. Before I do that, though, I have to remember to buy a new spray bottle, since Mr Z left ours in the garden and it is filled with green slime. I don't think green slime is the way to go for this particular garment.

Anyway, even though it took me six months to finish, and I lost the will to knit while it was OTNs, now it's finished I am really inspired to do another big project like this. For a start, Ester has made me really quick - I have whipped through two and a half small projects in the past week: a pair of Eowyn wristwarmers for Mother Hand, squares for a new Hexed, and half an Antifreeze (that issue of Knitty has to bethe best ever; Mr Z is badgering me often to knit him the Binary scarf although I must admit I find it a bit formidable, and there are at least four other projects from that I'd love to try).

I am loving Antifreeze and how quickly it knits up; I only had the four inches of ribbing done on Tuesday (which, I must admit, I have had OTNs since February - I told you Ester killed my mojo), but now I am all ready to pick up the stitches for the face, and then it's only a few rows until I'm finished -

And all because the lady loves Milk Tray.

I am hoping that it will be cold enough on the ski trip this year to make such a garment necessary. It is going to be very cute with the ponytail holes and I'm going to do the final edging in a contrast colour, maybe pink or green. It's my first attempt at short rows, and I like the fact that they shape the garment as if by magic; I am also all over the fact that it's knit as one-piece so there won't be any seaming. I am knitting them on some Addi circs I bought from Get Knitted for the project and I am LOVING these needles. They're so smooth and perfect! Mr Z promised to get me a set of Knitpicks Harmony interchangables for Christmas, but since we discovered they don't ship overseas and I discovered how lovely the Addis are, I may ask for something else instead.

Indeed, I might be asking for some Wii games. I love my new Wii. I may have paid over the odds for it, but I managed to get it and an extra controller and nunchuck without having to wait....well, I had to wait a day, since I rang the Wii shop and was told they had one in stock, but by the time I got down there is had sold! Luckily they managed to get me another for the next day. It is definitely worth trying to little places - I got mine from a games shop in Hanham, just in time for our Hallowe'en party. Later that night, there were a fair few witches and ghouls drinking punch and play Wii sports. I have become slightly addicted to Paper Mario (although there's a lot of storytelling - you'd be stuffed if you were that one in five primay school kid who can't read), which I have nearly completed; and last weekend Mr Z bought me a classic controller, so I can start playing Super Mario World again. I love Mario with the little tail.

Unfortunately, there's not a lot of time for Wii-ing. I feel like I've been playing catch-up at work since half term. I spent last weekend closetted in the office marking endless assessments (I am going to have a rubber stamp made up that says, "Use capital letters for names, eg Britain, Germany" - and that's for year nine!) and my lessons this week have been, at best, patchy. On top of that my year 12s are so thoroughly confused Ian had to step in and tell me to do a "big picture" lesson with them, and I'm not allowed to use the staffroom milk on my muesli in the mornings anymore because somebody whinged there isn't any for drinks at the end of the day. This, in spite of the fact that
(a) I don't have milk in my hot drinks
(b) I buy my own coffee and never use the drinks machine
(c) the last time I brought my own milk in, it was poured into other people's drinks before I'd had 2 breakfasts out of it (staffroom fridge = worse than student fridge for thieving)
(d) there was never any milk at the end of the day even before I started eating cereal.

I am pretty incensed by this. I think I will, in an act of pure, unadulterated pettiness, start pouring some milk down the sink every time I have a cup off coffee, to represent what I am entitled to.

Piss and moan. I'm tired and ill and I've had neck pains for 2 weeks now that come and go, and I haven't been able t get to the gym because of being ill and having a sore knee, and that has just made my mood even worse. I'm so glad it's Friday. I plan to spend the whole weekend, apart from 2-3 hours on Sunday afternoon when I'll have to do some work, knitting, sleeping and Wii-ing. Mother Hand is coming down, so I can't do much work anyway. I might even decide on my next big project and go to shop for the yarn for it. I am liking the idea of the Central Park Hoodie - I just love cables.