High may your proud standards gloriously wave

July 27, 2010 § 3 Comments

I love Scotland.

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I’m not ashamed to admit it, either. The Highlands are gorgeous, Edinburgh is an entirely charming city, and Scottish accents set my heart on fire. I’ve had a single-bagpipe version of  ‘Scotland the Brave’ as the world’s most annoying ringtone since August 2007, which has led to frantic episodes of digging for my cell phone in all kinds of places (most notably on Westminster Bridge, where I didn’t spot the lone bagpiper in time).

I’ve also been coveting Marianne Kinzel’s Thistle Design ‘Balmoral’ at least since January – that’s when I queued it, though I’m pretty sure I’ve had it in my favorites longer than that, it’s just that I got the book around that time. It’s an outstanding design, timeless, gorgeous, Scottish – and it doesn’t repeat. Well, the background pattern does, but the rest? Mostly line-by-line work of pre-computer charts.

The most surprising thing of all? I’m making ridiculous progress. I’ve been at it for five days, and I’m almost done with the second chart, i.e. the tops of the thistles. Granted, I’m doing half the design, cause I have little to no use for a circular shawl (not that I have too much use for other shawls, mind. ahem), but I’ve still put in a lot of hours, and it shows.

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I’m thinking it might also be due to the yarn. It’s the white Zitron Filigran No. 1, but unlike the skeins I made Haruni out of, it’s the second generation. Filigran No. 1.2, so to speak. Apparently it’s steamed at 1°C higher than the previous incarnation, which astonishingly enough results in an amazing increase of softness. It feels at bit fluffier, too, but what’s most remarkable is that it’s softer than butter. It almost feels like baby alpaca, that’s how soft it is.

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I had to take some leaps of faith – especially the asymmetrical-seeming kfb increases, which turned out to be perfectly symmetrical after all – but on the whole, I find it perfectly charming. The thistles are remarkably thistle-like, I love the wide mesh in the middle of the thistle-heads, the background is very textured yet just airy enough, and I have yet to figure out where exactly the row increases are hidden.

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All in all, it’s quite marvelous.

And also, I’ve been watching entirely too much QI to be unaffected by the brilliant Stephen Fry’s speech patterns. Oh dear.

Now excuse me, I need to tink back two rows to fix the background in the last panel. And also refurbish the kitchen.

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Unter einem Regenschirm am Abend

July 24, 2010 § 1 Comment

So, last night was the Max Raabe concert at Schloss Augustusburg. For reference, this dude in this place:

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Unfortunately, to say that the sky wasn’t quite as blue as in the photo would be the understatement of the year. The concert was open air in the courtyard, it was pouring rain, and as far as I could tell, we were the only ones without any sort of protective garb. We were slightly overdressed in little black dresses and blazers.

Needless to say, I didn’t wear the yellow Swallowtail Stole. It needs reblocking from being carried across the street in my backpack, I’d hate to see what would’ve happened if I’d actually exposed it to two and a half or three hours of pouring rain.

But other than the pouring rain, the horror that was the drive back (downpour, curving streets, and my rear lights were mysteriously broken, wtf), it was amazing. I think the rain made the contrast between the timeless glamour of the Golden Twenties onstage and us sodden lowlives even more striking.

It was classic.

It was definitely unforgettable.

I’ve never been that wet in my life.

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This is me, after 160km (about 100 miles) of driving, halfway dry except for my dress, which I’d periodically wrung out during the concert and that had gotten clammier than clammy on the drive back until my kidneys were just about to jump out of my body.

But that’s okay. We had a great time yesterday, we’ll talk about this for years, and we put the dog in a Union Jack hat today.

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Glamour shots

July 22, 2010 § 2 Comments

Excuse the double posting, but I really wanted these to have their own post.

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It is so pretty, I swear. And so light too, with gorgeous drape and the perfect size, and the color, and… just everything. It even goes with the dress I want to wear it with.

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I can’t be the only one who picks clothes according to what will go best with the accessories, can I?

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Max Raabe tomorrow. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.

I’m excited.

On the front lobe of my left-side brain

July 22, 2010 § 2 Comments

I went to Zitron when I was at my parents’ these last few days – big surprise there, I know! The plan was to just nip in and get some sock yarn, and like always, the nipping extended to about an hour and a half, in which I fondled new yarns due to come out in the near to not-so-near future (and oh, I can hardly wait for the new lace yarn!), talked yarn and translation with Mr Zitron, and bought some fresh-from-the-dyeworks sock yarn. And some lace yarn. And ordered a custom extra-long 4mm circ for Girl Friday.

I love those people, but my visit once again creates an old problem: it’s called ‘oh god, I’m running out of space to store my yarn’.

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The second drawer is actually just for reference, I didn’t add anything to the heavier-than-fingering-weight yarns. However, the four sock yarns (two balls, two skeins) on the left are the sock yarns I bought, plus white lace yarn (which I’ve vaguely planned for knitting a half a Balmoral), and this beauty:

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It’s Filigran Lace No 1 in Indian Summer, and it’s very colorful. The colors are muted jewel-tones, yes, and it’s entirely gorgeous in the skein as well as in the ball. I’ll have to wait for a really strong shawl pattern for this, though, or else it’ll drown in the sheer mass of colors.

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This is some Trekking HandArt Tweed that didn’t have a color on the label, so I’m assuming it’s a test skein or something not quite ready for widespread distribution. Either way, I love it, and I’m knitting socks with it right now. Waffle-stitch, nothing fancy, but slightly more fancy than the plain socks I usually churn out. It’s just so pretty! And the colors are kind of rustic, which goes very well with the whole tweed thing. I’m not sure what it reminds me of, but it is very homey.

The bad news about having cast on yet another sock will become instantly apparent when I show you this photo:

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I’m assuming there’s about five to six pairs buried somewhere in my laundry to add to that, plus the recent pair that isn’t in there because I haven’t yet cut the ends. I really need to  sort out the socks that are starting to wear thin, or find another solution, or start giving socks away (except how could I, they’re my babies!), because my sock drawer is already literally bursting at the seams. No kidding, one of the corner has burst apart.

It’s entirely true I might have a slight obsession.

And people wonder why I like to knit lace. For those who are wondering: it’s because it takes more time and less space.

Beau’iful plumage

July 18, 2010 § 3 Comments

Did I mention my Swallowtail Stole is done? Finished, finito, fertig?

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And in just under four months, too. A time that could have easily been cut in half if the poor thing hadn’t languished in various corners. For no reason other than that I was too lazy to do a couple of minutes worth of math, to figure out how many stitches I had to fudge for the transitions from one chart to the other.

Either way, here it is, in all its blocking glory. After Python: African and Python: European, I present Python: Norwegian Blue. Beau’iful plumage!

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Swallowtail Stole, based on the charts of Evelyn A Clark’s Swallowtail Shawl, 4mm bamboo circs. Yarn: LaceMerino handgefärbt from Die WollLust. Converted to rectangular shape and knit in the round following Marianne Kinzel’s Instructions for Oval and Oblong Designs from her ‘Second Book of Modern Lace Knitting’.

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Ended row 5 of the Lace Edging chart with 560 stitches, row 7 with 700 stitches (70 scallops). Dimensions: 50cm by 140cm. (Much better size than the Big Green Monster)

Days left till deadline: 5.

Oh, I rock.

Burning of the Midnight Lamp

July 17, 2010 § 1 Comment

After doing pretty much nothing else for two days, let me just humbly announce…

HELL YES THE DAMN SWALLOWTAIL STOLE IS FINISHED. FINISHED I TELL YOU.

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All I need to do is block it tomorrow morning (cause I don’t fancy sleeping on the floor), and then I can leave for my parents’ in peace.

And did I mention it’s perfect? The dimensions, the proportions, the color… perfect. Everything. And no mistakes. I can’t wait to show it off next week. Oh, the cleverness of me!

It started out as a feeling

July 16, 2010 § 3 Comments

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So, despite almost being done with seaming Girl Friday, I’ve experienced a major setback. AGAIN. And it again consists of me having to rip back the collar/button band (all 80-odd grams of it) and reknitting it with more stitches. AGAIN. I’m pretty much at the point where I just wanna throw the damn thing in the corner and let it rot.

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(Girl Friday as of yesterday around noon)

At least my seams are going well, which is a relief. I’ll have to find another technique for the ribbing on the sleeves, but! I do have to say, I like the actual motions of seaming, it’s just that it takes so damn long. Especially if you make the cardigan even longer to fit your long-ass body.

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But yeah, I’m good at seaming. That wonky column of stitches isn’t the seam, btw, it’s a randomly wonky row. No idea why it looks so weird.

Oh well. To counteract the frustration that is the cardigan (and to procrastinate from the Swallowtail Shawl, which needs to be done in a week) I started a toy owl in some gorgeous alpaca I had lying around since last year’s Wollefest.

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It came to me in a dream – it’s basically a truncated cone, with a flat-knit panel (consisting of eyes, beak, ear-feathers and colorfully embroidered belly) attached to the front. We’ll see how that goes. Right now I’m at the cone part, and it’s going swimmingly.

I really should be working on the Swallowtail Shawl. I’m kind of in the mood for a bit of math, maybe I’ll sit down with it later. It’s probably an issue even a mathematically challenged person like me can figure out in less than two minutes.

**

And now… for something completely different. Like guacamole.

Now, I didn’t even like avocados until last summer, until someone (most likely Christian) convinced me to try the guacamole on the taco platter we shared at a cocktail bar, and va-voom. Just like that, I was hooked.

So last night, I made a half-recipe’s worth of Pioneer Woman’s tortillas and used the recipe from my new Spanish dictionary to make some guacamole. (Yes, at G like guacamole, there’s a little info window with a recipe. How cool is that? Langenscheidt rocks.)

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Not that that recipe was totally extraordinary. It was pretty much like every guacamole recipe you’ve ever seen: an avocado (mashed), a tomato and an onion (finely diced), cilantro (which I can’t get, so I use parsley), a goodly amount of garlic, and lemon juice, salt, pepper and tabasco to taste. Mmmmh.

And then this morning, I used up the leftovers and made a truly heart-stopping brunch.

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Seriously, I wish there wasn’t so much lard in that tortilla recipe. Because they’re the best tortillas I’ve ever made.

Speaking of Spanish, I scored a 2.0 in my oral exam! Which is awesome, especially if you consider how I was convinced I’d fail it. So, cheers, guys.

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