Autumn 2013

Autumn 2013

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!

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