Friday 11 April 2008

8 things beginning with S

SPRING! It's here! The sun is shining, in between squally showers of hail and sleet. I've managed to do some clothes-drying outside. It's so light in the evenings that I forget when I should be eating dinner and consequently keep going to bed on a full stomach. The cat is shedding everywhere and looks frankly ridiculous with her massive chest beard, which is usually matted where she's tried to clean it and got it stuck in her mouth. We've been slowly cutting the dreadlocks out of her belly fur but she is, unsurprisingly, resistant to this.

Spring bag. In honour of the new season, and as a nod in the direction of knittabaggamonth which I have completely neglected since the start of the year, I bought some beeyootiful Cascade 220 Heathers in turquoise - much of a muchness on its own, but once felted it has this pink sheen to it, I don't know where it's come from because you can't really see it in the unfelted yarn. I am grateful that Get Knitted have some felted totes and flowers on display, or I would never have known. I am knitting the Cherry Blossom Bag from Noni, which is pictured in a stunning turqouise and caught my attention from first look. I was most pleased to discover they carry the patterns at Get Knitted. The body of the bag is finished, with one decrease round left, and I decided I would hand felt, since I was disappointed when the machine felted pumpkin I did last year came out minus most of its strong orange colour.

I duly cleaned up the bucket, bought a new plunger and a thing to go over the plughole to catch the fuzzies, and I put in hot water and a little shower gel (this was meant to make it smell did not work) and then I got to work, plunging. And plunging. And plunging. After a while Mr Z threw a golf ball in for me to try and help matters along, and I could see that it was working - the bag height had shrunk from 15 inches to 10 - so I kept plunging. And plunging. And plunging.

It did not get any smaller.

In the end, sweaty, soaked from the splashback and generally dishevelled, I gave up, stuck it in a zip up pillowcase, found an old pair of jeans I knew wouldn't bleed dye, and put the whole lot in the washer. It came out looking much feltier - it had shrunk another two inches in height - but with some set-in creases I have been unable to shift. I stuffed it and moulded it and put it next to the radiator. Phase two will begin in a couple of days, when it has dried. It's still a lot bigger than I imagined it would be, but it is a good size for a newspaper, a bottle of gin and the rest of my paraphernalia. And hopefully the cherry blossom motif will cover most of the creases.

Soysilk Corset. My other WIP of note is the Ribbed Corset by Annie Modesitt. I fell in love with this pattern so long ago that I can't even remember buying it. I remember thinking it was way out of my league, though. Now, not so much. I got some Oasis in the sale at Get Knitted, which just seems to go on forever - 100g, 200+ yards, and the ball is so compact! It's a beautiful dark blue, and I picked up a ball of turquoise for the accent, and then I managed to find some little blue shell buttons in Liberty on my recent visit to London which match perfectly.

I had to swatch 3 times before I got gauge. The 4mm needles seemed to be fine until I washed the swatch, and then the thing stretched like a mofo. So I went down to 3.5mm and then 3mm and finally achieved gauge on these tiny little suckers. I was daunted. 200+ stitches, on these tiny needles, for a whole garment? Sheesh. I want to wear it to my friend Sarah's wedding in May, though, so, recognising that these school holidays are my only hope for finsihing on time, I got started.

I had to rip out the first effort. I made two mistakes in the first two rows, and added stitch markers for each pattern repeat to stop it from happening again, and then talked myself into starting over. The ladies at knit club will be so pleased. I don't think Rachel approved of my ignoring the mistake and hoping it wouldn't notice.
So, I am roughly 20% done with it now, and it's not as slow as I had anticipated. I started to worry about the size of the armholes, and posted on the Yahoo groups KAL to ask if I could bind off more stitches than required by the pattern without it looking weird. Somebody replied that that's what they would do. I was bit put out, thinking, "Huh! Yes, but will it WORK?" until I realised it was Annie herself who had replied, and that left me a little bit...

Starstruck! I like how the famous people in the knitting community are down with us kids.

The kind to do with yarn, I mean...stash enrichment expedition, for those not initiated in the geekspeak of the knitting world. There's been an embarrassing amount of this going on recently - it's easy to find excuses to go to Get Knitted. Recently I have splashed out on plenty of Miski from Mirasol, which is so baby soft I could weep at the hatchet job I'm bound to do knitting it up into something. I really splashed out, and bought enought to knit a garment with - I want something I can wear next to my skin, but not something too warm. I am thinking a vest top of some kind, that I can wear under other things in the winter.

I also bought a massive amount of Fleece Artist Baby Kid. When I say a massive's only 1 skein, but there are 1000 metres of yarn in that skein. That's right, a kilometre of yarn. It is also very soft, and very skinny and fluffy (Ravelry says it's bulky weight but they must be on crack), and the most beautiful mixture of blues and turquoises and sea greens....I bought it, intending to knit it into
this beautiful cardigan I found through Ravelry, to go over my corset top for Sarah's wedding in May. But I think a bag, a top and a cardigan - a lacework cardigan, no less, and my first attempt at lacework - all by May 10th may be stretching it a little. Also, now I look closely, I see that a kilometre of yarn wouldn't be enough for this particular gorgeous wisp of stuff....although I'd probably modify the neckline and make it a V or a scoop, which might save me enough yarn.

Winding this kilometre of yarn was daunting. Mr Z was horrified when he realised that the big ball of fluff was really made of many tiny strands. He set to solving my problem immediately.

I have such a crafty husband. He finally got sick of sitting holding skeins of yarn for me like something out of the Waltons, and we still don't speak about that skein of silk from India which languishes at the bottom of my stash in such a tangle only the most determined unknotter would attempt to smooth it out. Mr Z is no stranger to unknotting, having once spent 6 hours (by accident - he didn't realise it had been that long) untangling a ball of Rowan Cotton Glace which has got itself into a pickle once. But, even he can't face the silk.

I digress. A quick trip to B&Q and £37 later (nobody say I could have bought one from the US via ebay cheaper), and he was in business. Behold! The wood was sawed. We tried to get B&Q to do this for us, but they told us the wood was too skinny to be sawn on the band saw and offered a hand saw instead. And a tape measure, when I asked. And then told us we couldn't saw it until we'd paid for it. Le sigh. So we shimmied it into the car and took it off to Father Z who sorted us out straight away.

Mr Z got straight to it when we got back home and by the end of the afternoon had produced something that looked like this....

(Don't those lilies look gorgeous, by the way? They are Asda Fair Trade. I didn't want to fork out the extra quid to start with but the guilt got the better of me, and I am pleased I did - they have last nearly 2 weeks now and still have some buds just opening; and the whole bottom floor smells of them. Definitely worth it. I even got out that fancy crystal vase we got for a wedding present and haven't used yet.)

(Please ignore the vile wallpaper and border - it's on my list of things to replace).

By the end of today, after sanding down the rough edges, and rasping away the ends of the dowel so that it fits into the holes snugly, and doing more sanding so the arms have smooth edges, and experimenting with stacks of washers and wing nuts, we arrived at this lovely thing on the left - depicted here, bearing my new Fleece Artist, which is doing a great job of reminding me how faded the carpet is (really, all the decor downstairs is tired, but it was the newest when we moved in so it still hasn't been done).

I still need to wax it and make it look pretty, but it's already being so useful. Here it is in action. Aren't I fast?!

The swift was made using instructions from
this amazing website here, which I found through one of my favourite knitting blogs.

Mr Z has now moved on to trying to work out how he can craft me a ball winder, but I fear he may be fighting a losing battle on that one.

Seasonal eating. I am excited. Pale pink spring rhubarb is here! Last weekend the woman in my green grocer told me worriedly that I'd picked up £3 worth of stalks and asked if I wanted to put any back. I almost told her off. "This is new spring rhubarb! Look! You can't put a price on that!" I enthused, maybe too enthusiastically.

Mmmmmmm, rhubarb crumble.

And with the pale pink spring rhubarb has come the very start of the asparagus, and lazy holiday breakfasts of lightly roasted asparagus with balsamic vinegar and poached eggs.

I am currently really liking the Eat the Seasons website. In spite of shopping locally for fresh fruit and veg, I still find they ship a lot of it in from abroad, and it's nice to know what I can expect to find that hasn't travelled further than me. It makes me sad that I'm eating things from the southern hemisphere when I've still never managed to go myself.

Speaking of travelling food - did you know that they grow bananas in Iceland? Over the geothermal vents, you know. They also grow cucumbers, tomatoes and roses. I might not mind eating produce from Iceland - I know it's travelled a long way, but I like to think I'm in some small way, supporting the economy of what may come to be the first carbon neutral country in the world. Their emissions per capita are 62% lower than thaose of the USA, and they use more primary energy. Impressive.

Samba. Or polka. Or disco dance. Just do something. The Wii dance mat has arrived in Bunnyland. I've been hopping about all over it, as has Mr Z (though generally at a more sedate pace).

No Sally - it isn't twister.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Are you the same Ms. Hand with whom I used to correspond lo these many years ago, beginning when we were both young(er) and innocent(er)? I live in Idaho, USA, and have been known by many aliases, but do you know my secret name? If I'm annoying the crap out of some innocent(er) individual here, I apologize.
Andrew Phillips
alandseaver at gmail