Autumn 2013

Autumn 2013

Monday, July 30, 2012

Summer of Love

Hello, everybody, and welcome! Welcome back, if you’ve been here before :o)

I hope you’ve had a good week; mine has been quite full. So much is going on these days! We have had summer: glorious sunshine, hot days (yeah, I know, not 40 degrees, but hot for these parts) and a cloudless sky. My lavenders and butterfly-bush are full of bees and butterflies, the privet hedges are in fragrant bloom (well, they were until a few days ago), and life is good.
I have been knitting, got a new car, went to a wedding, held a pre-birthday dinner for my youngest – and the Games are afoot! So, lots to talk about, let’s get started.

This is embarrassing ... I didn’t finish my wedding shawl in time for the wedding. This is what happened:
As you probably have guessed ages ago, my Secret Gift Knitting is a wedding present. I made the Veil of Isis by BadCat Designs, renaming it Iris after the Greek goddess of the rainbow, because I made it in the Kauni yarn.
Anyway, Friday evening I got to where I wanted to start the edge – and realised that it was 31 rows, of more than 800 stitches each, and that I would have to more or less knit all weekend to get it done in time.
So I knitted furiously all day Sunday to finish the wedding blanket; I had to put plasters on several fingers against the chafing. My left forefinger, where the yarn goes across it, and on the inside where the tip of the right needle rubs at it, even though it is calloused. The tip of my right forefinger that got an actual hole in it from pushing against the tip of the left needle (pointy bloody KnitPros), and my right ring finger where the back end of the needle rubs against it. By Sunday afternoon, I was getting pretty bored with this pattern; and by Sunday evening, I loathed it.
I got up Monday morning, re-plastered my fingers, and got to work on the last five rows. Finally, the end was in sight ... and then came the stretchy bind-off, that took me an hour and a half. Really. 
And I had to hurry up and finish it, take a few pics, throw it in water to soak 

– because we were going to collect the new car. And, of course, because the blanket needed time to dry afterwards, so that I could wrap it by Tuesday afternoon.

Remind me never to knit two big projects simultaneously EVER again. Please. If I utter any plans to that effect, just shoot me. It is too close to monogamous knitting, and I get immensely frustrated over not finishing anything for a long time. Don't get me wrong, I love the result :o)

So I didn’t finish the shawl. Embarrassing, since I had notified the world (heh) that I would, and that I was going to wear it for the wedding. But, hey, I am only human, and anyway, it was 25 degrees. Celsius. I did not need a great big woollen shawl.
I am considering getting some more of the purple yarn for it instead of doing the edge in blue. That way, it will be easier to match to different dresses; and it can be my Christmas shawl. Usually, I remember in December that I would like to knit something pretty and Christmassy to wear, and, well, you know, by that time it is simply too late. So I decide to remember in October the next year, and ... I’ve done that several times. But this year, people, this year I have a chance of pulling the Christmas wear off. Maybe I should order that purple yarn now to have it ready for – well, after the Ravellenic Games. And Laura’s birthday dress.

And I have my ‘new’ Mondeo! Is it weird to squee over a car? I’m really happy with it, though, not least the fact that it’s blue. I like blue, and the dark blue is classy & stylish. Added to that, it’s TARDIS-coloured :o)
It’s (even) bigger on the inside giggle
I am going to Copenhagen next week with my two youngest boys; this time, we are driving. We have a car that will go the distance, and train tickets are ridiculously expensive. I calculated the cost of petrol + bridge toll compared to three train tickets (two adults and a child), and we are driving. It will, of course, cut into my knitting time; but I can work around that.

Apple of the Week: The Summer of Love

So, my friend Aviâja got married. I’ve known her for more than 20 years, ever since we went to university together. That was really a long time ago, come to think of it.
She has had some rough patches in her life – no, that’s not fair: she has been through tremendous hardships and has overcome them all. Aviâja is a wonderful woman, warm, giving, caring; and now she has married a lovely man, who takes care of her in the way she deserves.
Hans is from Holland. So this marriage is not only two different persons coming together, which can be difficult enough; they come from different countries, cultures, and languages. Hans has moved to Denmark, and the wedding was held in the home town of the bride, as is Danish custom. His family – parents, brother, three sisters, in-laws, nephews & nieces – and friends travelled a long way to be there and to celebrate.
The wedding was lovely: great weather, beautiful church, nice speech by the minister about crossing borders (in English so everybody could understand it); great party with great people.

Dutch and Danish are NOT the same, but a lot of things are very similar. Most of the chatter was in English, but there was a general agreement that our two languages are not that far apart. In my experience, if you know Danish, German, and English, you can read Dutch; and the Dutch said the same: if you know Dutch, German, and English (which they do), you can read Danish. Pronouncing what you read is another matter entirely, though. That was fun :o)
And the similarities in language correspond well with the similarities in culture.

Anyway, this day really brought home the importance of love in a broad sense: generosity, inclusion, willingness to cross borders and try to communicate with someone outside your own daily circles. It may – and often will – take some imagination and flexibility to understand what the other person is telling you, but if you make the effort, you can open a door to a whole new world.

The endeavour towards understanding and a sense of fellowship across cultures and nations is of course central to the Olympic Games ... As everybody knows, the games opened Friday evening in London; 9 pm local time, 10 pm here.
I have mentioned the Ravellenic Games: I am part of two teams in this context, Team TARDIS for fans of Doctor Who, and Team Knit1Geek2 for fans of the eponymous podcast and geekery in general – including Doctor Who :o)

Competing for Team TARDIS I have two projects: a TARDIS shawl
This shawl has an almost triangular section, knitted sideways from tip to tip, with a lace Time Vortex pattern. Then you pick up stitches along the curved edge and knit down a row of TARDISes, ending with a rib edge.
Bigger On The Inside: Time Vortex increase section

and a stuffed mini-TARDIS.
This is the bottom and a bit of the top: a stocking stitch square in one colour was what I had the brains for Friday night from 10 pm, when it was time to cast on during the opening show. 

For Team Knit1Geek2 I am knitting a silk top in a lacy laurel leaf pattern, named Pythia after Apollo’s priestess in Delphi (but you know about her, don’t you? At least if you’ve been here before.).

This is how far I am right now.

My challenge is to finish all three projects by the evening of Sunday 12th August, when the official games close. 
And to do the colour work on the plush TARDIS: I usually let the yarn do the work for me :o) 
And to design the Pythia top. 
And to do the beads on the shawl; I’m using beads instead of bobbles for the TARDIS lights.

Speaking of TARDISes, today is Victor’s birthday: he is 14 now (my youngest! – what happened to all those years?), and he wanted a TARDIS cake. 

So I made a chocolate cake,

cut it into six pieces to layer with fresh apple purée in between – really fresh: we picked the apples at my parents’ place today –

kneaded blue colour into a slab of marzipan,

rolled it flat and cut sheets to cover the top and sides.

I used sugar icing to make the light white, as glue for the panels, and for ‘writing’.

Well, it did turn out rather squat, and I learned several things for next (!) time; but all in all, everybody was rather happy with it. Thomas was the first to mention the next time, and Victor looked up all the Doctors’ birthdays to find reasons for TARDIS cakes :o)

That’s all for now – I need to get back to my knitting :o)
Thank you very much for stopping by, I hope to see you again soon!
I’ll be back with updates on the Ravellenic projects later this week, and until then:

Happy knitting!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Life & knitting

Hello, everybody, and welcome – or welcome back – to my basket of apples. Thank you so much for stopping by, I’m really happy to see you!

This week has been somewhat hectic, and life has been getting in the way of my writing.
My car is up for reappraisal; in Denmark, all cars over the age of four years need to be approved every two years. Officially, it’s to ensure that they live up to modern safety and environmental standards; some will call it an extra tax. Anyway, it’s an Opel Astra from 1998, and its birthday is coming up. So I drove it to the garage to get the mechanic’s view on what needed to be done – and he had quite a list of problems. And quite a price. Ouch. All in all, the conclusion was that there wasn’t any point in repairing the poor thing, and I needed to look for a new car. Or rather, another used car within my price range, which really is not that huge.

This took several days: first, the salesman (a real cliché used-car salesman) at the garage wanted to sell me a Skoda Octavia, which is an okay car, not one I’d love to get, but ... you know, beggars can’t be choosers. It turned out, though – hooray for The Internet – that his price was ridiculously high. The price on the tag corresponded nicely to the listed price for a car of that make, model, mileage, &c – except this particular car needed repairs and approving, and they wanted ME to pay for that! Seriously.

So I went looking elsewhere. I wasn’t alone in all this; I think I have mentioned my 3 teenage boys, haven’t I? Anyway, boys and cars ... so my second son (in terms of age, not affection, of course; he is 16 and SO looking forward to being allowed to drive) found a place that had no less than three blue Ford Mondeos at very affordable prices. Now, I’ve had two Mondeos, and I really like that model. Also, it’s the only car that all three Top Gear guys can agree to like, and that has got to count for something, right? We went to have a look, had a test drive right away, because this car had already been fixed and approved, and it cost less than half of what the Skoda would have cost.

So, all in all, I’m getting a blue Mondeo for much less than a red Skoda – this is brilliant3! (3 as in cubed: make, colour, price; everything comes together.)

And so, with that in order, we can move on to The Knitting:

There is really not that much to say about my knitting since last week: I am STILL working on two huge projects, the gift knitting and the Regrowth shawl. They both have to be finished by the end of this week, so next time I’ll have something more interesting to report.
I did count the live stitches on the shawl, when I reached the final purl row on the Owls chart the other day – now I only have the Edge chart to do – and it came up to 1069 stitches. And on row 1 of the Edge chart was another set of quadruple yarnovers. Also, I ran out of yarn. I had looked at the given yardage in the pattern (914 – 1554 m) and ordered seven balls of yarn (1680 m) – and the seventh ball was just enough to finish the owls. I considered ordering more yarn, but decided instead on using the single ball in blue that I had in my stash: a Christmas gift from the BC Garn webshop last year. The colours go well together; now I can only hope that it is enough. Otherwise, I’m screwed: I won’t have time to get more and knit and block the shawl before Tuesday, when I’m supposed to wear it.

I have a bit of confessing to do, because I do believe that I cannot be the only knitter to feel like this: I love my stash. Really. But sometimes, when I’m low in general and / or low on cash, the existence of my stash becomes guilt-inducing.
The boxes of yarn come to represent, if not all, then most of the deadly sins rolled into one: these skeins I coveted and greedily bought just to please myself; that yarn I bought because, in my pride & vanity, I thought I was going to knit a whole bunch of stuff. And why didn’t I? I am afflicted by, no, guilty of, idleness and lack of perseverance.
All this proves beyond doubt that I am selfish, disorganised, and irresponsible. Totally unworthy. Because realising that not reaching my knitting goals does not come down to being lazy (after all, no-one can knit 24/7) does not exempt me: in that case, I have failed to plan properly. I am not a proper grown-up and therefore a Bad Mother, the ultimate sin.

I beat myself up like this for a day or two; and if I really get into the swing of it, I include my book shelves: substitute ‘(unread) books’ for ‘yarn’ and ‘read’ for ‘knit’, and here we go ...
And then, somehow, out of the murky depths of despair, springs creativity. I sort my yarn, get rid of those skeins that I know I’ll never use (oh, the purging ...), and find lovely yarns that I had forgotten all about, for the next several planned projects. I can enjoy knitting again, and if I can read at the same time, Bob’s my uncle.

So it all works out in the end. Now I just have to not fall for the next temptation that comes along ... (yes, I am looking at you, Mean Girls Yarn Club!).

More knitting: Rowan Magazine Number 52

So the new Rowan Magazine arrived today, #52 for the winter that in these latitudes is never far away. I know, it’s July, and I am not at this moment wearing woollen socks – but they are within easy reach most of the time, and anyway, if you want to get a jumper ready for the cold season, it’s time to get started (I almost wrote ‘it’s time to cast on’ in Brenda Dayne’s voice, if that makes any sense).
As always, they have themes for the patterns; this time, they are all wintery and warm and quite traditionally British: there is a Hebridean section featuring all Fair Isle garments, and a North Sea section filled with cabling and high, snuggly collars to keep you warm. And, of course, the Essentials: the overview of knitted items that complete your wardrobe.
And, as always, we get interesting features, among others an interview with a lady who crochets lions. Yes, that’s what it says; Shauna Richardson crochets life-sized lions. Her 2012 Cultural Olympiad (sic) Lionheart Project is named after King Richard Lionheart and uses 36 miles of locally sourced wool to sculpt – well, lions. The pictures with the interview show a couple of gorgeous lionesses (as well as Shauna herself wearing a lovely cabley knitted sweater). She calls her art form ‘crochetdermy’ – do look it up , it's fascinating!

Not surprisingly, perhaps, given the pattern themes, the article presents Heritage Knitting complete with Edward VIII, fishermen and a charming old geezer in a Fair Isle jumper and matching tam.

Kaffe Fassett – or rather, a couple of his designs – makes a colourful appearance; and then there are the ‘Stories’:
I am not going to take you through all the patterns – I don’t want to bore your socks off, so I’ll just point out a few that caught my attention.

The Hebridean segment is a riot of colours and patterns, traditional Fair Isle stars and flowers and little-bitties, tartan wraps and a guy in a kilt. The garments look useful: cardigans, jumpers, vests and socks, as well as a throw. You may be able to tell that I’m not much of a Fair Isle person myself. I mean, a lot of it is beautiful, and I love colour – I’m just too lazy to deal with all the colour changes and ends to weave in. So far, anyway; Fair Isle knitting is on my bucket list.

In the North Sea segment, we have lots of textured knitting and cabling in soft, warm wool, all photographed in what looks like a fishing village on a windy coast – no surprise there, it is supposed to be by the North Sea, after all. The male model sports a full beard and longish hair, rugged jeans and boots to go with the sweaters, while the female model has a Kate Winslet-like pale beauty and wind-blown done-up hair. So everybody looks in place for this.
The men’s jumpers are mostly in one neutral colour and textured and / or cabled, with V necks or high collars; all very discreet and masculine. There is one cardigan with broken-up stripes done in a slip stitch pattern (Fitzroy). The colouring is still fairly muted (at least compared to the Fair Isle), in greys, blues, and white – it looks like three colours or maybe four, but there are actually seven of them blending together. One cabled jumper has the shoulder piece and collar in a darker grey than the rest of it (Fisher).
The women’s jumpers have a bit more colour to them, though they are still fairly muted; one is stripey with bobbles, for some reason (Sole), and we have a soft lavender jumper, again with a high collar (Humber).
All in all, we have a collection of sensibly warm woollens – and then, at the very end, comes a cardigan that simply does not make sense (Dover). It’s a long-sleeved piece in chunky wool, a bit short, maybe, ending just above the hip; done in what looks like rib with a bit of travelling stitch pattern on the lower part of the sleeves and on the fronts. Pretty enough, as such. But the V neck is impossibly deep, going right down to the waist. The cardigan has 2 buttons right at the bottom, over the tummy. Now, the model is showing it over some sort of top (that shows below the cardigan) and a buttoned up waistcoat and a scarf around her neck – and she would need all those to keep her warm, because the chunky woollen garment on top of it all is quite open at the front. Why?! And I would imagine that if you had any sort of bust, the neckline would go to the sides of that, giving you a Minoan-style garment. Not very practical in the North Sea winds, I can promise you that.

Well, the Essentials: I’m not quite sure about the ‘must have’ edict on this, but of course Rowan have to say that, don’t they. And to be fair, there is a range of garments, jumpers and cardigans in different styles and shapes. For a lot of uses.
We have two tunics: the Chunky Tunic (Ruby) in rib, which looks nice and soft and warm, something to snuggle up in on the sofa, and the New Traditional Tunic (Fala) with a bit more interest to it. I’ll ignore the Bobble Polo (Ebbe) and the Fitted Bobble Cardigan (Beatrix), because I hate bobbles. There are quite a lot of bobbles in this issue, I think, they seem to be in fashion. Go figure.
I have to mention the Loop Cardigan (Wade), though, because once again: WHY?! It is a very short cardigan, long-sleeved, which gives those rather odd proportions, when the sleeves are twice as long as the body. But that’s not all, folks. The stitch pattern is a sort of horizontal rib, alternating stocking stitch and reverse stocking stitch; and here’s the thing: on the sleeves, the very long sleeves, they made loops of yarn in all the stocking stitch rows. It looks like something worn by one of those surprisingly humanoid aliens in a 1970’s episode of Doctor Who. Quite bizarre.
I rather like the Neat Cardigan (Dallan): nothing strange going on here, just a cropped cardigan with elbow-length sleeves and a little collar. What makes it interesting is the Argyle pattern: it is done with texture instead of colour. The diamonds alternate in stocking stitch and moss stitch. Really great for those of us, who don’t enjoy too much colour work :o)
So this one I may actually knit.

All of the patterns are on Ravelry, so you can browse them there, if you like.

That’s all for this week, I hope you’ve enjoyed it, and do come back next time. Until then:
Happy knitting!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Here be dragons

Hello, and welcome back! I hope you are having a good week. The weather here is not as warm as it has been, and somewhat grey & wet – but that has its advantages, too. I ran 6 k this morning in 15°C, and it was a lot easier than running in 23°C a couple of days ago.

This week, it’s all about heroes and monsters, about overcoming danger – or adapting to your circumstances. Not surprisingly, perhaps, a bit of history as well, and of course an update on my knitting.

Apple of the week:
Apollon (replica painted to look like the bronze original)

With the Ravellenic Games coming up and all the talk about various ancient Greek games, I wanted to talk to you about a god who has an affinity to one of the games, viz. the Pythian Games in Delphi. 
The god in question is, of course, Apollon (in Greek; the Romans called him Apollo because in Latin, the –n at the end of a word disappears, much like in French). Today, I will tell you two stories of Apollon: first, how he came to be the master of Delphi and why the games are called Pythian, and then something about the laurel leaves which were given as a prize to the winner in the games. 
Both of these stories are what is known as an etiological myth, one that explains the origin of a name, a custom, or a ritual.

Slaying the monster:
Delphi in the mountainous region Phokis is the home of an ancient oracle. Not surprisingly, perhaps: Delphi is the centre of the World. Once, Zeus let his two eagles fly at the same time from the easternmost and the westernmost corners of the world, and they met in Delphi. Anyway, the oracle originally belonged to Gaia, Mother Earth, so it is truly ancient.
Apollon slaying Python (engraving by Chaveau)

According to the legend, Apollon came to visit the oracle and was denied access by the huge snake named Python who lived there and guarded the oracle. After a great battle, Apollon slew the monster and became the new lord of the land.

In keeping with the tradition, Apollon acquired the title Pythios, and thus the priestess of the oracle, who received the divine communications, was titled Pythia. The games in honour of Apollon were the Pythian Games.

We have records of these games dating back to 582 BCE, but by then they were already established. They took place every four years, right between the Olympic Games, and included competitions in music and poetry: a hymn to Apollon, flute and kithara, singing, acting, dancing, and painting. And sports such as running and chariot races, like in the Olympics. The musical contests were the original ones: Apollon is also the Leader of the Muses, the nine goddesses of various art forms.

Oedipus visiting the Pythia in Delphi (vase)
The oracle was in function for at least 2,000 years, giving guidance to anybody who asked: ordinary folk, legendary characters such as Oedipus, Middle Eastern kings, the leaders of democratic Athens, and Roman Emperors, until it was shut down in the 390’s, when Christianity became the only legal religion in the Roman Empire. The various Games were cancelled at this time, too, and for the same reason.
The collective name for the prophesising priestesses of the ancient world is Sibylla; the Roman writer Varro gives a list of 10 sibyls, among them the one in Delphi. (And what, btw, is professor Trelawney’s first name? Exactly.)

The story of a hero or a god battling a great snake, with or without wings or legs, is one of the basic Indo-European myths. It is, of course, a story about good versus evil, civilisation and light overcoming the dark forces of chaos and destruction. We find this story across a vast expanse of time and space, from
India, where the warrior god Indra slays the great snake Vŗtra to free the waters of the sky (very important in an area that is prone to droughts), to

the Norse god Thor struggling with the Midgard Worm on several occasions. During a visit to Utgard, Thor is challenged by Utgard-Loke to lift up his cat, and as we all know, cats grow to tremendous lengths when lifted. Thor heaves and lifts and finally manages to get the cat to take one paw off the ground – and later finds out that this ‘cat’ really was the Midgard Worm, which coils all the way around the world. So that was quite a feat, really.
And during the ending of the world, Ragnarok, Thor and the Midgard Worm kill each other (another story for another day, perhaps).

Sometimes the monster is winged or goes under a different name: any prince or knight worth his salt will know how to slay a dragon like St. George did; Harry Potter stabbed the basilisk – and Neville sliced the head off Nagini.

So much for monsters; let’s take a look at our protagonist in a different setting.
This is why the laurel tree is sacred to Apollo: once there was a girl, Daphne, whom Apollo ... shall we say, fell in love with. He tries to woo her, but Daphne is not interested. Apollo has not been brought up to know that when a girl says no, she means no (remember, he is the son of Zeus), and becomes rather insistent. Daphne runs. Apollo runs after her. Away they go, weaving between trees, ducking under branches, fording streams, uphill and downhill, dodging rocks, she desperately trying to get away, he still trying to entice her: ‘Come back, sweet girl, I love you. Don’t you know who I am?’
Apollon & Daphne, sculpture by Bernini

Finally, she has to realise that she cannot outrun him – he is a god, after all. So she prays to her father, the river god Ladon, to save her. And of course Daddy saves his little girl from the nasty man lusting after her – by turning her into a tree. Her feet sprout roots that dig into the soil, her soft skin becomes dry, wrinkled bark, her arms extend upwards with fingers lengthening into branches.

Apollo catches up in time to see the transformation happening, to see the love of his ... well, week, gradually become inaccessible to him. He hugs the tree, moaning (as in weeping, for cryin’ out loud! Get your mind out of the gutter), and vows that from this day forward, the laurel will be his and will be held in high esteem by him and all who follow him, in one way or the other.

And so, the winners in the Pythian Games held in Delphi are crowned with garlands of laurel leaves, as are poets.

And finally, The Knitting:
I am currently working on two rather large projects: the Regrowth shawl, that I have mentioned several times already, and the secret gift knitting. Both are coming along, getting bigger day by day. Now, with large projects it can sometimes be difficult to sense any progress, because an hour’s worth of knitting produces a very small part of the whole thing. In this respect, though, my two projects are quite accommodating.
The Regrowth shawl is worked from several different charts, of which only some are repeated, and I am past all of them now; so every knit row is different from the preceding, and I can tick off each of them on the chart.
The rows are becoming very long. I have no idea how many stitches are on the needles; I am using a circular needle, KnitPro (KnitPicks or Knitter’s Pride in the US) with cubic needles size 4 mm (I just love the cubics, they are so much easier to hold than the usual round ones) and a 150 cm wire. I did count the stitches a good while ago – or rather, I counted till the marker in the middle and doubled the number – and at that point I had about 420 stitches. I’m not sure I want to know how many there are now ... it takes at least 30 minutes to knit a row, and in a bit I’ll be at the Owl chart with the quadruple yarnovers.
Okay, moving on, before I’m struck by the enormity of that. I may count the stitches and tell you next week. If I dare – but by then I’ll be almost done, so it won’t be as daunting. I hope.

The other project is in multiple colours, so for that I can gauge my progress from the colour changes.

Maybe because of this almost monogamous knitting – so unlike me! – I have been visiting my queue and thinking about other knitting plans. My Ravelry queue is deceptively short; I have only 9 or 10 things in it. That doesn’t mean, though, that my total to-knit list contains less than a dozen projects: I only put stuff in the Ravelry queue that I really plan to knit within the foreseeable future, either gifts or something for which I have the yarn in my stash. All the ‘ooh, nice, I might do that’ go in favorites (I’m getting a red squiggle now, because my spell check is British). And, obviously, my own designs exist only in my head and / or notes, so they can’t go in the queue. But really, I have enough on my plate, knitting-wise. I have no reason to consider new projects. Hold that thought.

Anyway, the other day I noticed a new episode of Cast On: Brenda is back from her tour of the States, so let’s hear what she has to say. Among lots of other interesting stuff, she talks about her souvenir knitting project: the Color Affection (red squiggle again). Made famous by the Yarn Harlot and knitted by over 4,000 Ravelers, it is a 3-coloured shawl: it starts out with one colour, adds one more in stripes, then the third, still in stripes, and finishes with the third colour by itself. Brenda talks about the lovely hand-painted Canadian sock yarn she found in Toronto, the exciting colour combinations, the knitting and blocking of it (do check it out on Ravelry, it’s quite pretty).
I have seen and read about this shawl before; Hoxton of Electric Sheep has talked about it; it is nice, but never really called to me, begging to be mine. But this day, while I was out walking and listening, I found myself seriously considering it. Here’s what I thought:
# 1: Hmm, it does sound rather nice, I might do that, and those miles of garter stitch would be brilliant for reading. I could name it my Book Affection shawl or something (creative, right?)...
# 2: What am I thinking?! I have two big deadline things on the needles; in the days between finishing those and the start of the Ravellenic Games I have six things I really want to get moving, for the Games themselves I have three projects in 17 days – or rather, 16 and a bit, since they start in the evening – and there’s a lot of other important stuff to knit, so this shawl would be something like item number 23 on my list, and I might get round to it, if all goes well, in Dec– oh, jeepers, Christmas knitting! Let me reshuffle. I might get round to this shawl in February.  Providing I don’t add something more urgent to the list in the meantime. Forget it.
# 3: Sock yarn ... I don’t have ready access to Canadian hand-paints, but I do have several single skeins of fingering weight Shetland wool in my stash, some of which I got for that Dangan blanket that I frogged. I could probably put together a pretty combination ...

And you know what? I did. I got home, found the box with the fingering weight wool, and laid the skeins out in threes. I actually found a great combination and a few other nice ones. I resisted the urge to download the pattern and cast on. Now I just have to put that aside for a few months. I may still forget it.

That’s all, folks! Thank you so much for stopping by, I hope you’ve enjoyed my ramblings – and do come back next week. Until then –
Happy knitting!

Friday, July 6, 2012


Hello, everybody, and thank you very much for stopping by. I hope you are well and enjoying the summer – the weather here is glorious, it is warm and sunny and feels every bit like it’s the summer holidays.
This week’s offering is a bit different: no history or mythology for you today. I’ll be chatting about boys and their toys, the joys of travelling, and of course update you on my knitting progress.

Last weekend, I travelled with my eldest son to Copenhagen. Andreas is 18 and a skilled painter of Warhammer figures, these one-inch tall warriors from space. His army of choice consists of Ultramarines, blue-clad soldiers that make clone troopers look like Steve Rogers before his Captain America-enhancement.
Now, this past Saturday, 30th June, saw the release of a new rule book for Warhammer 40K (there are several branches of Warhammer, including LOTR, and the 40K part takes place around the year 40,000 AD). New rule books come out every four years or so, coinciding with another event that we are all aware of. Yes, I am referring to the leap year. The book comes in a Standard Edition, a Collector’s Edition, of which they printed only 4,000, and a Gamer’s Edition that includes a bag in Indiana Jones-style with lots of pockets.
Anyway, your LWS (Local Warhammer Store) will do an event day with a costume competition, a cake competition, a lottery draw, a PAL (paint-along) and all such fun activities. Our LWS is Games Workshop in Copenhagen. Because this is a small country, we have one shop. Never mind that it is a 5-hour journey away, this is our local shop. Needless to say, we don’t go there all that often.

Since the day at the shop happened on Saturday from 10 to 5, we opted to travel there on the Friday and back again Saturday evening.
Friday morning, we had a tremendous thunderstorm. I was woken at 5.40 by what I thought was an explosion: I actually jumped out of bed to see where the bomb had gone off, before I realised that it must have been a thunderclap. Anyway, this storm moved, as the weather tends to do in these parts, from west to east; the prevailing winds come from the North Sea, or sometimes right across it from the British Isles. So the heavy rains that we had in the morning were going to hit Copenhagen in the evening. Brilliant.
We set out on our journey in muggy weather. Ordinarily, it’s a two-train affair, with one change; but this summer the tracks, apparently, need repairing, so for the first half leg of the trip we had to go by bus. One word: hot. Then on the train for the second half leg, and finally the fast train from Aarhus to Copenhagen. Except there was one hold-up after another: the ‘fast’ train was stuck behind an ordinary train, delays happened because of lightning strikes, of all things – really, some people will use any excuse –  and we had almost a full extra hour on the train, before we arrived in Copenhagen.
The one good thing that can be said about this, and that is also a major factor in choosing whether to travel by car or by train, is that it gives you knitting time. I had of course brought knitting, my iPod, and a book. But more about that later.

So, after checking in at the hotel, we went out to eat. This was a nice, warm summer evening in the heart of Copenhagen: the new students were out and about with their white hats on and their whole bright futures ahead of them; some sort of mini-football was going on in Raadhuspladsen, joyous screams floated from the rollercoasters in Tivoli, people everywhere were enjoying the weather ... until about 8.30. Then it started raining. Gently at first, but by the time we were walking back towards our hotel from the restaurant, it was pouring. Thunder rolled overhead, and occasional flashes of lightning made themselves known through the lights of the city. We managed to get drenched – or I did, anyway, wearing sandals and a long skirt that clung miserably to my legs.
Everything had dried out the next morning, however, and the rain had stopped.

Andreas had, sensibly, decided to order his Collector’s Edition of the new rule book online instead of going to the shop on 23rd June – and did so as soon as possible, at 00.12 AM British time, which is 1.12 AM here. Consequently, when we came to the shop and he got his copy – and the very friendly guys in there watched him open the box, and the next box, and the book’s own box – it turned out that his is number 84 out of the 4,000. Impressive. The Games Workshop guys were even more impressed when they found out that we had come all this way just for their event.

Anyway, the day progressed. Warhammer buffs are mainly male; the women present tend to be girlfriends and mothers ... I suspect that if you made Venn diagrams of knitters and Warhammer fans, there would be quite a small overlap, and if you showed gender compositions of the two groups, they would be mirror images. But they are nice people, friendly dudes. I decided at some point (about half an hour into the 7-hour program) that I needed to knit, so I grabbed one of the bar stools around a painting table. In that environment, nobody wonders why you want to make something fiddly with your hands, carefully combining the right colours and learning new techniques to get even better :o) I even got a compliment on the Epona tee I was wearing.
I have at some point tried my hand at painting figures, a trio of female warriors, but the bug didn’t bite, so I’ll just stick to my sticks. To each her own, as they say. I did manage during the day to chat to a girlfriend about knitting and to a mum about cake decorating ...

We did leave the shop to go to lunch and a quick foray to Faraos Cigarer, a comic book shop that also has its own selection of role playing paraphernalia and Warhammer stuff.

All in all, a fine trip: we got what we came for, and the weather wasn’t too bad, considering. No train delays on the way home, either.

Now for The Knitting:

Going away, even for a day and a half, means you have to plan your knitting and bring the right projects: enough to keep you occupied, but nothing too cumbersome. Since I am doing gift knitting with a deadline – the secret project – I decided to bring that; it wasn’t too big yet, and fairly easy.
I also brought my red sock; I started it last time I went to Copenhagen, so that seemed fitting. I hadn’t done all that much with it the meantime: it hasn’t been one of those projects that call out to me and are hard to leave alone for any length of time. Not that I hated it, I just didn’t love it. I am somewhat fickle, so that meh-feeling could have been just caused by the pause. So, I brought it with me and worked on the heel – and still didn’t like it much. In the end, I decided that it was the yarn I didn’t like, so pushing myself to be a good girl and finish what I had begun was not going to bring any joy whatsoever. I was never going to love those socks. So after I came home, I ripped out the thing and donated the yarn to the charity shop.

But the secret gift knitting ... I really want to tell you about that, but it will have to wait.

I am still plugging away at the Regrowth shawl, which is going to be BIG – as advertised. The designer says in his presentation that it’s a good pattern for people who get bored with many repeats: there are 5 different charts and transition charts in between, so you aren’t doing the same thing for the whole project. But still, he recommends 4 repeats of the Blossom chart, and I was fed up with that after 2½ repeats. I did them all, though, kept going, and was in the Leaves chart (3 repeats) when I had to decide what to bring for the weekend trip.
I did welcome a couple days’ break from it; often, at some point in a project, especially a big one, I will lose confidence in it. I worry that the colour is wrong, that I should have chosen another yarn, and in this case, that it will look wrong for a wedding.
I did get out my sari skirt that I mentioned last week – and the colours clashed. So then I had to decide whether to stick with the shawl and find another dress, or to go with the skirt. That didn’t lift my feelings for the shawl. I decided to see if I could find a dress in Copenhagen to match the shawl; I didn’t have much time to look around, though, and the weather was hot and muggy, and by Saturday afternoon I was knackered. By this time I was pretty much disgusted with the whole dressing-for-a-wedding project.
But when I got home, I realised that I had nearly finished the Leaves chart and there’s not that much left, really. And I can look for a dress here, and there’s a sale on. It’s not that bad, after all.

And I finished something! The Bifrost baby blanket is now wholly cast off. The new yarn arrived yesterday, and I undid the half cast-off that I had done, worked a few more rows, and cast off once again. Now I just need to block it.
Photos will be forthcoming, when I get my hands on a camera again; I broke my own a couple of weeks ago and have been borrowing from my youngest son, Victor. But he’s gone camping now – and I really have to do something about getting a new camera myself.

Anyway, that’s all for this week. Thank you for staying with me, I hope you enjoyed it all, and until next time:
Happy knitting!