Autumn 2013

Autumn 2013

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Baby, it's cold outside

Easterly winds are blowing the Siberian winter cold down over us; so even though the sunshine, when it’s there, makes it look like spring is close by, it is bloody cold. I went out around noon to hang new feed balls for the birdies in the naked branches on the lilac standing beside the terrace – the same lilac that provides a lovely, dappled shade on warm summer days – and my fingers were numb after a minute. Good thing, then, that I could hurry back inside with a clear conscience: the critters are taken care of; and I made myself some hot coffee in my huge Starbucks Scotland mug.

So, this week is a bit different: on Tuesday, Thomas, my 17-year old, and his class went off to London for a week. Not that I’m jealous, though I haven’t been there in almost three years ...
Anyway, I drove him and a couple of girls to the airport in Aalborg, about an hour’s drive. That was fun, having a pair of giggling teenage girls in the backseat; with three boys, I don’t get that a lot. Now, you may wonder why we brought girls along; wouldn’t it be more obvious to choose boys, some of Thomas’ friends? Well, he happens to be the only boy in the class.
This is the extreme end, or nearly, of a common phenomenon in a Danish gymnasium class: the ones orientated more towards language and literature consist mostly of girls, and the science classes have about half and half. In my class way back in the days of the dinosaurs, there were four boys to about twenty girls, the usual ratio.
And Thomas’ class did start out that way; and then one boy dropped out, one moved away, and one decided, when they had to make their final choice of study field halfway through their first year, that he preferred the sociology line and thus changed classes. Then Thomas had to choose if he, too, wanted to change his original choice and follow the other guy, or stay with the languages and the girls. There was also the matter of the Latin teacher, an old hag elderly lady to be endured for another year; several people actually opted out of Latin because of her.
In the end, he stuck to his guns, again choosing the ‘super-linguistic’ field comprising English, Spanish, German, and Latin.
Oh, and by the way: the school hired a new Latin teacher, a young man. I’ll bet some girls regretted changing ...

So, now he’s away in London, going to the Globe Theatre, Tate Modern, walking the streets and probably visiting some of the South Kensington museums, as they are staying right around the corner from them ... I was looking into the possibilities of stowing away in his suitcase, but it didn’t pan out. Of course, with a female English teacher and so many girls in the class, their schedule includes both the Portobello Road and the Petticoat Lane markets; and they were advised to not bring any more than necessary for the trip over.
Well, I have been known to do that, too – though I preferred to give the kids a morning off to go or not go to markets, as they found best, rather than scheduling a visit.
It’s not all fun and games, though: as they are travelling with English and History, they have been studying immigrants in London, particularly from Bangladesh; so they are going to Banglatown to see for themselves. And to Westminster, maybe even the Parliament; the Royal Observatory in Greenwich merits a half-day trip, as well.
They will be landing in Aalborg around midnight tonight – and yes, they have the Monday off.

The Knitting:
Ravelry celebrated 3,000,000 members this week – on Friday, 8th March at around 9:30 p.m. GMT+1.
It seems not very long ago that the 2 million mark was reached, on 29th February 2012; even though I was new to the site at that point and hadn’t even started reading or posting anything. So, 2 million people signed up in the first five years, and a million more in just 13 months. That is pretty amazing.
Ravelry itself is pretty amazing, as I’m sure you know – and if for some reason you don’t, get over there and have a look! Five people are running a huge site, free of charge, with databases of patterns and yarns, discussion fora (though they call them forums), groups for just about anything you can think of. And Ravelers are such nice people, friendly and helpful and skilled and ... you can see why this is my go-to site for anything related to knitting, including the social part. Why be on facebook? (I know there are reasons to be on facebook, I just haven’t found one compelling enough to actually do something about it.)

The Interminable Killer Socks of Doom, aka the Blues Riffs socks, are done! – I was right about the second sock being much quicker than the first, primarily, of course, because I didn’t have to unpick and re-knit four times; but also because I could see the light at the end of the tunnel and so prompted myself to move faster and get them done with.
The only hiccup occurred when one of my dpns broke: it snapped right in the middle of a row, and of course it was the one in my right hand with two dozen stitches on it. And it was one of my new KnitPro cubics! So these socks have a lot to answer for by now.
But Victor loves them, and that is all that really matters, after all. Seriously.

In case you haven’t read my lamentations over these socks, these are the facts: the pattern is Riff Socks by Lise Brackbill, from Knitty Deep Fall 2010. I made them in Bumbo sock yarn bought at a local supermarket (føtex), a nice enough, inexpensive workhorse yarn that comes in both solid and multi-coloured colour ways. I made the XL size for Victor’s size EU 45 feet (UK and US 11); but I left out the final gusset increases and did the size L for the heel – after I had made the size XL heel and undone it because it was way too big.

I have officially started working on the next birthday sweater for my nephew, Emil, who will be 2 years old at the end of this month. That is all the information I am putting out for now: when it is finished and given, I will post pictures and details here and on Ravelry; and the pattern will be written up, thoroughly checked, and put out, too.

In all this, my Juniper jumper has not been entirely forgotten: on Friday, I had less than 40 rows left on the second sleeve, and then there were just the plackets, neckband and the final finishing (as if finishing could be anything other than final) to do. So, a bit of TV knitting over the weekend should do the trick; and I started on Downton Abbey. I know, I am late to the party ... what can I say? Mostly, I feel like I have dozens of books waiting for me, and they are prioritised.
Anyway, three episodes saw the rest of the knitting done, and the finishing was accompanied by vampire stories on Saturday. A while ago, Victor bought The Vampire Archives on Audible, an over 60-hour long collection of – well, stories about vampires. So I am set up for a while with those; I may break it up, though, to not be overwhelmed. Audible has broken the book up into eight parts for download reasons; I could listen to one part each week and alternate with other stuff.
Back to the jumper: I did the plackets and neckband in ribbing instead of stocking stitch, because I prefer the look, and I’m not really keen on the rolling edges that you get with stocking stitch. I can see that my shoulder increases are a bit tight; I will have to remember to loosen them up next time around (yes, I am planning at least one more driftwood).
And I found some buttons that I bought on a school trip to Paris back in my teaching days in 2006; they look good with the yarn and go well with the theme of the jumper, as the yarn itself, Rowanspun DK, was bought on sale at Liberty’s in London in 2005, when I was there with my sister. So there you have it – or rather, I do; but you can, too: an easy to knit, laid-back comfy jumper that has cost me nothing (I know the last bit isn’t exactly true, but it feels like it).

And after that, I will try the monogamous knitting thing, until the birthday sweater is done – or until I break down and grab something different. Monogamy usually isn’t my thing. I’ll keep you posted on that.

I may find, though, that I need some TV knitting, and the birthday sweater is too – shall we say, interesting – for that; so I have dug out a half-finished Hitchhiker scarf to be prepared for that eventuality.
You may remember that I started this Hitchhiker back in the autumn as a Christmas present for my mum and then put it aside when she requested something different. Well, after I had dyed the yarn and started knitting the other shawlette, a Cassandra, she commented favourably on my Hitchhiker; without knowing, of course, about the one in progress. So I decided that she is still getting this blue beaded one, for her birthday. Which isn’t till June, but there is no harm in having it done.
And it will count towards my 2013 goal of finishing or frogging old UFOs: I had seven of the buggers left over from 2012, either hibernating or just snoozing; and so far, I have actually managed to get rid of two of them.

The geekery of the week is Doctor Who-related: I was listening to CraftLit, episode 249 containing chapter 2 of Gulliver’s Travels – and an interview with Kate Atherley about, among other interesting stuff, her pattern in Knitty Spring 2012. This Knitty Surprise pattern is the Bigger On The Inside shawl featuring both a Time Vortex and a row of TARDISes ... and what was I wearing? My very own BOTI, the one I made for the Ravellenic Games 2012. And it’s not like I live in it: most days I have around my neck the above mentioned Hitchhiker, and sometimes the BOTI, when I feel like it or the colours I’m wearing call more for accessories in blue rather than rainbow.

That’s not all, though: the girls of Knit 1 Geek 2 reminded us all once again that this is the year of The Doctor’s 50th birthday, so to speak, and is anybody knitting The Scarf? Well, yes: when at some point the snowstorms let up and spring really arrives, I will be getting back out to my well ventilated dye studio to mix up the seven colours for it, and then I can get into the miles of garter stitch that make up this iconic scarf.
Victor and I have been watching Revenge of the Cybermen this afternoon, giving me ample opportunity to study the length and colours of it.

Speaking of CraftLit, I managed to subscribe (on the third attempt) and thus gain access to the Premium content; so far The Canterville Ghost and Wuthering Heights – and Cool For Cats by Andrew Ordover (the husband of Heather) at a discount. So now I have three more audio books sitting in my phone and waiting to be listened to at some point. I may save them for when I finally catch up with CraftLit; I am used to making a playlist per book and devouring the whole thing without having to wait for the next chapter, so that will be tough. On the other hand, it will be nice to get the newsy bits when they are actually new.

That’s the chat for this week – I will return to the vampires and the birthday sweater.
I hope you have had and will have a good one; and as ever: keep happy, keep healthy, keep crafting!

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