Hey Ashurbanipal, I’m a Mesopotamian!

February 13, 2011 § 6 Comments

Entirely expectedly, I got a lot of knitting done in the crunch phase of my finals, with the whole refusing more than an absolute minimum for Spanish (I passed the oral! Abysmally, but I passed! Yesss.) and general procrastination.

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(The day before my oral, Saskia and I went down to the canal and sat in the sun for an hour. What a perfect day.)

Incredibly, I’m down to one project. Well, three. Well, technically four, but the Dalek vest has been hibernating for so long and it looks like that’s not gonna change anytime soon, so. (well, four things and a lizard.)

Anyway: the Thermal sweater is finished! Done! All sewn up pretty and with buttons and a little ‘handmade’ tag in the back of the neck. I’ve already worn it to choir, literally fifteen minutes after cutting the last thread, and I’m pretty enchanted by the whole thing.

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(Thermal by Laura Chau, 3mm needles, just shy of 600 g of Zitron Trekking XXL)

I’m proud to report that the sleeves are NOT too long, for once. It seems I’ve finally learned my lesson? Or maybe it was just a fluke. Who knows.

Re: the sleeves though, I don’t know if it was the fact that I had to fudge the sleeve cap a little (I increased to 106 instead of 112), or that my sweater is generally a tad less fitted than the one on the model, but the tops of the sleeve caps were VERY boxy. Very angular. To the point where they stuck out and just looked stupid. I fixed that by sewing the seam in a diagonal line over the last 16 rows or so. The downside of that is that now there’s four little triangles inside the sweater, but they’re not noticeable from the outside, and they haven’t been a problem yet.

More photos (and close-ups of the uber-cute little buttons) when I come back from Berlin next weekend or so, in the hope that I’ll catch some good natural light at some point. It’s been overcast, and that always screws with red colors.

Also, guess what became of the handspun?

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A Hitchhiker! It knit up really quickly on 4 mm needles, and I’m still very charmed by the construction. Alas, I did not get 42 spikes, but the fact that they’re much more pronounced and dramatic than in the sock-weight version more than makes up for it.

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The best thing is that it worked out perfectly. I finished on the last row of a spike without a single yard left over; there were two 2-inch pieces that I cut after weaving in the ends, but that was it. A very, very gratifying knit. Calmed me down immensely in the last couple of minutes before my Spanish oral.

Also, I’ve figured out what’s wrong with my Spanish Armada – I’m missing three stitches on each side. Very, very strange. Rather worrying, actually, but I think I’ll just fudge it with another row and a sneaky increase somewhere in the middle. I’m so confused though why 3 and not 2 or 4. Those I could have explained, but three is indeed very bemusing.

Book rec for this week: Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”! I’d never read it before, but I’d resolved to include as many classics I’ve always wanted to read but never got around to buying in my 52 in 52 project as I could. And in the case of Jekyll and Hyde, it was definitely worth the, oh, €2.50 I splurged on the Dover Thrift Edition. And, uh, it’s much better than that just sounded. It reminded me a lot of Dorian Gray, actually, which isn’t all that surprising, considering they’re both Victorian novels dealing with the strange rift in their society, between virtue and vice, between public and private. It was terribly captivating, a gripping read that had some places where I literally recoiled in horror – perfect, really, for a nice rainy afternoon. It’s under 50 pages too, but it’s packed with mystery and thrill. I loved it.

It’s also narrated from an outside perspective, which surprised me: I’d always assumed it was going to be following Jekyll rather closely, but it didn’t at all until the very last chapter, which of course elevates the mystery a good deal more. You literally don’t know what the hell is going on until the last couple of pages. It must have been so endlessly shocking to Victorians reading it as a fresh story, a fresh idea, without any kind of foreknowledge. All in all, a book definitely worth reading. I might tackle Treasure Island too this year, I really liked Stevenson’s style.

Next week I’ll spend four days in Berlin with Saskia. We’ll be visiting at least two yarn shops, one button shop and four museums, and I hope we’ll not be too tired to see a silent movie on Wednesday evening. I’ve already cast on a sock to drag everywhere and photograph; also I’ve been saving the new Thursday Next novel for the train ride. I can’t wait!

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We’re gonna turn this sow’s ear into a silk purse

February 7, 2011 § 5 Comments

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(We’ve been having some lovely weather lately. I just sat on the Augustusplatz and knit for half an hour today, in the blinding sunlight with my jacket open, just because I could.)

I’d love to pull a Yarn Harlot and proclaim my infection with finish-it-up-itis, but while I don’t maintain it doesn’t exist, it certainly isn’t happening to me. Or I’ve already had it for months, it was just that my projects weren’t as wisely chosen as these days?

First, the purchases of the week:

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That’s a skein of Wollmeise (color: Frosch) on top of the Lucifer Box novels by Mark Gatiss, which really deserve their own post and I could go on and on about them. So I’m just gonna say that they’re brilliant, and fun, and adventure-laden, and the hero is the perfect mix of James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, every single character out of Dorian Gray (no, seriously. every single one of them. Well, maybe not Sibyl Vane. But everyone else.), and Captain Jack Harkness. They’re written in the first person, which isn’t normally my thing but works wonderfully with the wit and sparkle Lucifer Box has, and, you know. Even Stephen Fry couldn’t get enough of them. As of now I’ve finished the first two books, and I loved every page. Mark Gatiss is my new hero. (A brilliant gay sci-fi and adventure writer whose well-written hero is cheerfully bisexual but not utterly defined by some stereotype. What’s there not to love?)

Seriously. I’ve been recommending it all over the place for a week, and I’ll do it here as well: If you only discover one author this year, let it be Mark Gatiss. At least read Vesuvius Club. You won’t be able to stop there, anyway.

Second, I finished the Kai-Mei socks! I admit it’s kind of embarrassing that I’m the first one to finish a design out of Saskia’s birthday present, but, eh. They’re warm and lovely and SO CLEVER, and I think I’m going to knit a couple more socks with that construction, although not necessarily the same lace panel.

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I wore them to Annelie’s to show them off, partly because it’s always nice to show off an FO to real people, and mostly because Annelie had given me the yarn. And once again, it was one of these things that only happen with yarn people.

Annelie: Oooh, you finished the socks!
Me: Yup. *pulls up pants leg a bit* … you can touch them if you want to?
Annelie: Ooooh, they’re so soft!
Me: Yeah, I think there may be some alpaca or something in there.
Annelie: No idea. … Honeeeeey! Honey, come here for a second!
Annelie’s husband: … yes?
Annelie: Remember that yarn I had for the longest time?
Annelie’s husband: … no?
Annelie: you know, the one I got from XY, in Karolinsiel, don’t you remember?
Annelie’s husband: … no?
Annelie: well, Patti knit it up into socks. Here, touch them!

I have to say, he’s very well-trained in terms of yarn-related behavior.

Apart from surprise!sock-fondling, we actually got some work done on Sunday. I was at Annelie’s for six hours and I sat at the wheel for at least 5 of those. I had ~flow, man. But now, along with some gorgeous yarn I finished with only seconds to spare before I had to leave, I’ve also got sore muscles in more expected places.

Yes, I finished my first wheel-spun yarn. And I shall subject you all to a lengthy slideshow of every stage of the process.

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Well, actually I won’t. Kind of. I’ll put the major part of the lengthy slideshow under a break so the tl;dr crowd can’t complain (although, pretty pictures. what’s wrong with you people? have you got no soul?), but here’s some of the most important ones. Because I took this here:

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(Drachenwolle, 130 g BFL, color ‘Stroh zu Gold’, gorgeous but useless)

and turned it into this:

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(~130 g, 226m, still gorgeous, knittable!)

and it only took me two afternoons (and a total of two hours or so of pre-drafting on the Saturdays before). How would you not want to see more of where that came from? (Am I trying to guilt you into clicking that ‘more’ link, just so that I can geek about spinning a bit more? Damn right I am!)

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All I want to do is be more like me

February 1, 2011 § 3 Comments

Now that I’m back on the knitting horse, so to speak, it seems I can’t stop blogging about it.

Seriously, it’s kind of insane how good it feels to start something new, something exciting, something quick. I’m making very good use of my birthday present to Saskia (Cookie A’s ‘Sock Innovation’) and am halfway done with my first Kai-Mei. Or Kei-Mai. Or Mai-Tai. Or… something. I’m almost getting a head rush from the speed. The yarn feels a little thicker than your average sock yarn, which made the leg zoom by extra fast. 66 stitches to a round… paradise.

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I swear, the yarn’s a lot less neon than it looks in this picture. It’s still cheerful though, and works great with the (pretty, inventive, just damn clever) pattern. So. Clever. I’m more and more in awe of Cookie A.; this is the first time I’m knitting one of her socks after two years of admiring them from afar, and I have nothing to complain about at all. Clear chart, solid instructions, unusual but not mindboggling construction, even a photo of the sock worked in a variegated yarn in addition to the solid version.

News of my big projects… oh, phooey. The only big projects I’m touching these days are Watson and Girl Friday, and that’s only because they’re finished and amazing. I rocked my complete Watson outfit again today, plaid shirt and all.

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Oh, Watson… I made the sleeves a bit too long. I keep doing that, by the way. I think I’m just so excited by the fact that I can make sleeves as long as I want, that I can make sleeves that won’t be too short for my (according to the fashion industry) freakishly long arms, that I get kind of carried away every freaking time. With Girl Friday, I redid the cuffs and shortened them and I can still fold over the entire cuffs and have them be long enough.

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With Watson, it’s not quite as bad. I mean, yes, I can still fold over the entire cuff, but the cuffs are a lot shorter than the Girl Friday ones. I’m not sure what I should do about it. I mean, technically, I’m already well-versed in the fiddly art of removing the cuffs, picking up the stitches and reknitting it. I’m still debating whether I will, though. Maybe I’ll snip off the cuff, remove one repeat or so of the sleeve pattern, and graft the old cuff back on. (Even though that would require me to fudge it by a couple of stitches, so it might not be the best method. On the other hand, the cuff wouldn’t be offset by half a stitch.)

Or maybe I’ll just leave it like this. I’ll have to mull it over a bit, but I’m painfully aware I can’t put it off too long. Eventually the stitches will be fulled together as it is, I can’t even imagine doing it after a couple of months. That’s the drawback of Lopi, really.

No deep thoughts, this time, I’m sorry to say. Saskia and I randomly read Oscar Wilde out loud last night, but the thing that’s stuck most in my my mind is the crowning sentence of my translation homework that (unintentionally) set everyone off giggling.

“The heating ducts are everywhere.”

Daleks? Aim for the eyestalk. Sontarans? Back of the neck. Heating ducts? Run.

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