Friday, March 31, 2006

Flashing and whatnot

Tomorrow is Flash the Stash day. So today had better be Show off the WIPs day, coz I'm sure that stash doesn't include yarn presently in use, right? Lessee, what do I have on the needles?

1) denim bag. This will get a bit longer, then will get handles and a bottom of some sort, and then I will try to enlist Scarlet, who can sew, to help me with some sort of lining. It'll be done in no time, maybe.

This baby denim jean jacket is also, I suppose, a work in progress, because it's not sewn up or anything. (I neglected to wash/shrink a bit of the yarn for sewing, and now must wait till I'm going to wash the bag. I hate my washing machine.) This is a picture of it pre-London, and I had to rip out the leafy square to get the yarn to finish the button bands! The leftovers from that got used in the bag, and the intact lace and cable square has gone to a good home.

2) sock. We're getting there, and good thing, because I want to start some others with this not-very-garish cotton blend yarn. Arthur did try on Sock #1 and it was snug on his leg, but I'm hoping it'll loosen up with wear, won't it??

3) tea cosy.
Hmm, not a priority really, but it'd be nice to get it out of the way. I thought of it in pink and red month, and now we're almost into orange and yellow month... Bedtime knitting. It does seem a shame to cover up the lovely pot, but sometimes one does need a tea cosy. I'm making it as hexagonal as I can, and it will have a sufficiently ornate top!

4) the blanket. Coasting along, with something like 30 squares. I want 49 or 56 or 63, since I've already sewn a 7-square strip!

5) Darn this thing. Nice, eh? I am not taking it back to Toronto unfinished! Must take it outside in the breezes away from sensitive noses and work away. I'm starting a sleeve. Now I'm a tad worried -- although I have enough yarn, I'm not sure I have the right colour mix left. Too light and skylike, not enough woods and water. And some of the yarns in this pile are not going to end up in the sweater, like the gold and the blue silk.

6) summer tweed sweater. The other day I was told, don't knit a whole big garment out of summer tweed because it stretches and sags out of shape. So what shall I do? Carry on, I think, though this has not seen any action in some months. I have half a sleeve, which I've had since November.

This certainly is on the border between WIP and stash!

That might just be all for today. Tune in tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Other people's stuff

You learn something new every day. Yesterday I learned at least two things. One is this: "There's a stereotype that goes like this: When somebody running a website has run out of useful things to say, they post a picture of their cat." I got it from this story, which is a few months old. Lucky for you, I don't have a cat. Since I can't actually "post the cat," I'm posting things I've picked up in my sluggish surfing of the web.

And a picture of flowers behind Trinity College...

I also learned that videos recording the frogging of knitted objects is the way of the future. Check out The Unravelling, and then the tragic Frogging Hourglass. Very scary, lemme tell you!

And today I made Polly's pie. Well, since it's a recipe that starts with marinating meat overnight, I didn't really make that particular pie, but I dumped in a pot some beef, Guinness, a leek, some mustard, some stock, a potato and who knows what, while I looked at Polly's recipe. Sort of the way I follow a knitting pattern...

Ah, knitting patterns. Have you seen this?? It's a multidirectional scarf, but look at the wacky way the stitches stretch and wave! She calls it "kureopatora's snake." Very cool indeedy! Must go get some variegated yarn! Um, after Flash the Stash day...

Ok, back to the knitting...

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Don't ya love the knitters?

This past weekend I zipped down to London. Well, I didn't exactly zip, since I missed the non-stop train by mere minutes, and ended up on the milk run. Ah well...

I met up with Kay, and a bunch of London knitters, Polly, Amelia and Mary. It was great fun! We had tea at Liberty, where Kay showed off her latest square. Bad blogger, I somehow didn't take pictures of the others! It was wonderful to meet these knitters, and see what they are working on, and just spend time knitting and talking. There was even talk of the Londoners making a trek to Cambridge sometime this spring, perhaps for a punting and knitting adventure!?

Sunday morning, it was off to Loop for cupcakes and yarn. Kay got the whole store log cabining (cabinning?), showed us her felted boxes (oooh, ahhhhh) and signed books. The book looks great, not surprisingly. It's fun and clever and I've got to get back to the land of dishcloth cotton -- which Kay had to explain to the English crowd. (For anyone who doesn't know dishcloths, check out the Dishcloth Boutique!)

It is nice to have a new knitting book, but the real treat was to meet women whose blogs I have read and enjoyed, and who turned out to be as charming and pleasant in real life! Yay for knitters!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Black and white for summer

I hear black and white are "in" these days. I see dresses that are white with black rosy trellises on them, as I walk through the mall (every day I walk through the same dang mall, as it's the route to the school!). They tend to be light and sleeveless and summery, and I like the look a lot.

Here's a cool modern one, and another. When I was in the V&A a couple of weeks ago, I took these pictures of the wrought iron, and the gorgeous black, white and grey floor, thinking, of course, of how one could knit these! I love the regular swirls of the top ironwork picture, and the irregular, barely there design of the bottom one.

Project Spectrum doesn't get to b&w till August, I think, but I'm pondering on this now.... A bag, perhaps...

Oh, and it's my sister's birthday today. Happy birthday to youououou.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Rolling in the aisles

Hmm. Anne had a joke because Sandy had a joke because Norma had a joke. I won't claim that these jokes are *up* there with theirs, but I've been wondering how to sneak in excerpts from Elaine's birthday present from her Auntie Mary, 101 Canadian Jokes. Here's my chance! Now, I have 101 jokes to choose from here, but I'll just give you a couple.

Why is snow easier to understand than any other weather?

Because you can catch the drift.

ho ho

And the one everyone's great-grandparents probably knew (you have to imagine being told this joke by a 6 year old who's never heard it before):

How do you catch a squirrel?

Climb a tree and act like a nut!

Okay, enough of that.

I am zipping through the denim jean jacket, and Arthur's orange sock in my spare time. It, of course, was meant for April, Project Spectrum's orange and yellow month, but I bet I'll finish it in April.

And we still like Auntie Mary, despite her joke book! Hey, how do you make antifreeze? Take away her housecoat! ha haha hahaha ha...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

As promised...

Let me show you my pink and red things for Project Spectrum -- several squares for the blanket. I'm not following any pattern or picture, just making whatever squares take my fancy from this book (the cover I have is different, but it must be the same book). I tend to the Molly Weasley school of knitting, rather than the 24 squares of this pattern alternating with 24 squares of that. Now, I was going to link you to a picture from Goblet of Fire, with Ron under a lovely knitted blanket, but I can't find it on Mugglenet, where I know I found it before. Trust me, though, it'll be a higgledy-piggledy blanket of squares. This is obviously very pink, but the whole thing will be various blues, purples, a bit of the green you see here, that dash of turquoise, and some orange.

And then there's the baby bonnet! It still needs some sort of button band under the chin, but it is cute as anything. (Imagine a cute baby nose instead of my thumb!) The original has ribbons threaded through the eyelets and a ribbon to tie it on, but I think that's too fussy, and ribbon tends to slip untied, in my experience! This will be the start of my charity knitting pile.

And my last knitting news for now: I'm doing something with the denim yarn I bought ages ago. I tried a bazillion things with this, mainly in the baby blanket line, but I finally settled on this jean jacket pattern. Now, I don't have a toddler anymore, but I am sure I will find someone to make use of it! I have enough yarn to make two of these (dark and light denim) but I think the second lot will get made into something useful for me. I decided to look at this yarn again recently because the queen of denim, Kay herself, is coming to England and I am making the trek to London to see her at Loop! Since they're promising cupcakes at this event, I couldn't pass it up!

And that's all the news for now!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Cambridge in March

Let's just talk about the weather here. A month ago, I was delighted to see some flowering cherries and a bit of forsythia, and green things poking out of the ground. Now, the daffodils are up, a couple are in bloom, but most of them are still just standing there, green as anything, waiting for a weeeee bit of sun to open them up. It's colder now than in December, I think. Now I know why everyone rushes out on sunny days to take pictures; it's to seduce us into thinking we'll get those lovely scenes all the time!

In any case, it's still quite nice, I suppose... It's not really rained much, and those green things sticking up are promising.... And another sure indication of spring and impending good weather: there are signs outside the major tourist trap colleges, announcing the season's admission prices and so on! The students are off studying for exams, I believe, and the tourists are starting to seep into town.

This is Science Week in Cambridge. Stephen went and talked to both kids' classes, and learned that when you're 5 or 6, science really only means dinosaurs. On Saturday, lots of the museums downtown were open, and there were tons of special activities for adults and kids. We saw a robot, who talked as if it could see the people, but had old CDs for eyes. The best part was when the robot offered you a sweet! Arthur saw a talk by Newton, or at least someone dressed up like Newton. We also went in the Whipple Museum, full of brass astrolabes and telescopes and a big lot of chemistry glass apparatus, which Elaine liked for potion making; and the Zoology Museum, with a giraffe skeleton, beautiful seashells and birds, mastodon teeth... everything you could desire. And there were places where kids could watch pointed-ended boats beat square-ended boats in a race; mix yeasty water in with flour to get a cup of muck to carry around until it rose; get a seedling to take home or paint on walls like people in Lascaux.

After our day of battling the science crowds, on Sunday we got on our bikes and went out to Grantchester and Trumpington. We stopped in at the Blue Ball for a
pint, then continued on to the church in Trumpington, which has a WWI monument with the name of local poet Rupert Brooke and others. It also has the second-oldest brass in the country, that of Sir Roger de Trumpington. Click on the little image on that page to make it ginormous. I'd show you our picture, but he's now under glass, and it's not easy to escape funny reflections!

This is the churchyard, with a tiny bit of pink in the corner, see??

I wonder if this is where you send the wee ones when you're in church? What exactly is Godly Play? Are there lots of those Noah's Arks with the little animals, and you can sail them around? Hmm. Or maybe clay, that you can make into little people! It's a mystery.

And now the kids are off at school, Stephen has gone to work, and I have to go get groceries. (Notice my restraint -- I didn't say anything about laundry!)

And really, honest, for sure, I'll have knitting pictures tomorrow! Really...

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Knitting progress and stuff

I've been good with the stash lately, knitting more and buying less. Yessiree. And I've been also fixing to do another check on the UFO pile, so now I have a date to flash the whole lot! I can imagine that some people's stash will need more than a couple of photos, but I think my situation is under control... Maybe....

I like having Project Spectrum to point me in a direction these days. I was going to work on the big old wool sweater, known as the sweater that makes me sneeze. But since everything else is also making us all sneeze these days, I haven't got it out! I have made a pink baby hat. It's now what Ryan would call a UFOBOB, UnFinished Object Because of Buttons. Well, it actually needs the whole under-the-chin hat-holding-on mechanism: maybe a strap with a button, or ties. UFOBOHHOM, UnFinished Object Because of Hat-Holding-on Mechanism. I am also working on the pink squares. And Arthur's second sock has a full cuff now. So, little objects are great. And I would have pictures for you, but the camera is working in the lab these days.

This is very boring, isn't it? Let's find a picture for you....
This table was in the V&A, nice wood inlays. It's hard, I find, to get good rich wood tones in wool, without it looking just... brown... The quest for a nice brown sweater led to the acquisition of lots of the yarns involved in the dang sneezy sweater, though it's not turning out to be mainly brown!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Knit baby socks!

Did you know there will be an International Sock Knitters' Meeting? And did you know that they want to make the longest clothesline full of baby socks? You can contribute as many socks as you like (they give you a pattern at that link) and you can win prizes*, if you knit tons and tons of socks, and then the socks will be given to shelters for women and their families. I first found this all on Knitomatic's site -- it's a yarn shop I like in Toronto. Hmm, the socks have to be in Oregon at the end of April... Lemme just finish a few things, and a pair of baby socks shouldn't take long, should it??

*I just read this at the very bottom of their page: "You must be a member of the OpalChatters mailing list to qualify for a PRIZE. Prizes will not be awarded to non-members."
Well, I'll knit them some socks anyways!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Weekend roundup, cough cough

I thought I would just catch up on the last few days of thrills and so on, but I have a wretched cold and can't really write much. Type a sentence, delete it... But I shall continue to try. Maybe I'd better find a picture or two, and then I don't need so many words.

Saturday, Rocket party: This is Arthur, having just set off a pop-bottle rocket powered by water and compressed air (put water in the bottle, pump air in with a bike pump, until the pressure builds up and the bottle rocket takes off, with a tail of water exhaust). Sometimes there are failures on the launch pad, like when the rocket scientist gets a face full of water because the rocket does something unexpected.
Also we had a rocket powered by baking soda and vinegar, which had a few design flaws, but it worked pretty well. This is it having crash landed...
We had 3 other families visiting for this extravaganza. Girls and boys and young and old, and it was a really fun time. Of course, it being March, it was snowing when we got out to the Common, but there was bright sunshine about 10 minutes later! This ends the March portion of birthday season, and we have a few weeks' break before our last birthday of the year.

Sunday: The kids' school arranged coaches to take families to London. It was very cheap, 5 pounds per person, and they dropped us right at Exhibition Road, where the Science Museum, Natural History Museum and the V&A are all located.

A good deal, but really, it took much longer than the train and we felt a bit constrained about having to be back in a certain place at a certain time. Not to mention any unmentionable stuff like motion-sickness, which usually isn't a problem on the train...

This little bomb was in the Science Museum, where we spent the morning, and since it was stationary, both kids sat happily in it! Other big sights were the old steam trains, the Cray computer, all sorts of timepieces... it's huge and varied!

After lunch we headed across the street to the V&A, where we wandered aimlessly through China and Japan, ironwork, silver, the crazy room where they collected casts of all the great large works of sculpture -- there's Michelangelo's David, there's Trajan's whole dang Column! And then there are cases of things like metal pillar box money-boxes.

I should give you links for some of these things, but my brain isn't really working...

After our weekend of excitement, Elaine and I are both coughing and spluttering. I think it will pass shortly -- won't it?? I haven't been to the grocery store in days and days, so I'm trying online ordering and delivery! Whoo hoo, I say. I think I ordered too much of some stuff, and was sort of nervous about letting them choose my meat and fresh veg, so we're getting a lot of pasta... I think it would be good for one who was organized, instead of one who was desperate.

I got a good bit of sock cuff knitted on the bus Sunday, and I've almost finished my pinkish yarns in the afghan squares, and the red teacosy is sort of boring, as it turns out, so it's just sitting there. I also have had issues with the pink 4-ply. I am determined to do something with it, and having been considered for scarf, gloves, and the get-rid-of bag, it's now being turned into a baby hat. It'll not be warm enough for Mongolia or Afghanistan, but I'll find a local charity, I think, unless a baby girl turns up pretty quick! It's a fun pattern from an ancient Patons learn-to-knit book. I'll show you... tomorrow.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

A bridge over the River Cam

Once upon a time, Norma posted her opinion of memes. And once upon a time, Ryan posted a story involving a bridge. And then, Norma made a suggestion in Ryan's comments, which I'm betting was not entirely serious, that there might be a "show me your bridge" meme. And I must say I'm all over that!
So, since I have nothing better to do on a Saturday morning and I like this picture, I give you our neighbourhood footbridge.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Secret knitting

Thanks for all the birthday messages! I did manage to get the floor clean, and then went out to pick up the kids in the rain and we all tracked more wet shoes in... We had a nice kid-friendly dinner out, and today Arthur is making garlands of Happy Birthday Mum balloons, in preparation for more festivities on the weekend. This will be a joint Arthur-Mommy party with rockets being fired off!

I also did some secret knitting. I have two knitting-related secrets, and I will actually share neither of them with you now.

The first involves a secondary hobby of mine. Some people knit and crochet, some people knit and spin, and I knit and then sometimes send things off to Vogue Knitting, and they send me letters back starting, Dear Designer.... They did once accept one of my designs, which went into this book. (Actually I suggested a grey and black scarf, and it ended up a pink and purple hat. Whatever!) So this success from years back keeps me keen, and every once in a while I indulge in the fantasy of seeing my knitting on the cover of the magazine. Just this morning I e-mailed them pictures of my latest genius, high-fashion, clever-knitting idea. Believe me, you'll hear of this again. One way or the other....

The other secret involves a correspondence with Jan's husband. But if he won't tell her what's up, then it's hardly for me to do it! We'll let you all know, April Fool's Day.

Back to my other secret life, as a laundress...

Oh, and the picture is some bags for sale at a shop in Paris. Nice colours, eh?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

It's my party and I'll block wet wool on the bed if I want to

It's my birthday today! I'm now in my late middle 40s... or maybe my early late 40s... whatever, I'm 46.

And lookee, I finished the big old Maya circle thing last night with Alison's lifesaver wool! (I await her note a couple of years down the line saying that she's almost finished something, and is only a few yards short...) So now it's blocking on the bed.

And I shall celebrate later with dinner out, but before then I shall take out the garbage (insert picture of icky kitchen trash), wash the floor (insert picture here of the mud that came in on 4 pairs of shoes yesterday, plus a plan for a dream home which has a mudroom) and listen to a podcast or two. And it looks like the sun will come out any moment now.

The Olympic knitting has been received by my niece Su, and it fits! So hooray for that. I'm awaiting pictures!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Don't believe a word I say

Last night, I said to myself, and out loud, though I bet none of my family paid any attention, that in the morning, after I finished my red afghan square, I would cast on the 4-ply pink to make my gloves. Well, I have not finished my square, and am winding my red tweed charity shop Rowan into a ball to make a cosy for my teapot. So there.

We've been wondering what to do on the upcoming enormous school holiday. Sunny climes were thought of, until we began to hear reports of beaches in Portugal filled with English holidayers, chip shops and "Irish" pubs. (Nothing against either the Portuguese or the Irish, but one wonders what a Portuguese Irish pub could possibly be like!) So last night I also said maybe we should just go to Fair Isle. Hub said, yes, I was thinking the same thing. Which I think means he was thinking of not going to Portugal, not that he was thinking of taking the kids to a remote island full of sheep and knitting in the North Sea at the beginning of April. (I'll settle for Wales, where another Mary went and where there's the Colinette shop and hills like these.)

And, did you see this about the Loch Ness Monster? Maybe we should go to Loch Ness in April?

Monday, March 06, 2006

My backyard

I just learned about the Backyard Fieldtrip from Anne's blog. Go to the source at Knitting Interrupted. I also just learned we were all supposed to do this yesterday, but I didn't know that... so here's my back yard today!

Here's the view from the house looking back. There's a path out the back that is our main route in and out; we rarely use the front door. The almost-falling-down shed houses some of the landlord's junk, the mini-lawnmower and the kids' bikes. On the left foreground you can see a very large rosemary bush, though I now know that there are much larger ones in the neighbourhood. And some tentative laundry on the line, seduced outside by the fleeting sun.

And here's the view of the back of the house. We have started to mess up the patio, since the sun has been out. The stack of chairs has been used as a bike rack for months!

The kids have been busy with archaeology (potsherds have been found) and gardening. Actually, digging holes for the flowers led straight into the archaeology... Scarlet told me to put eggshells around the flowers to keep the slugs out. We need a few more eggs, I think.

The red and pink flowers fit the Project Spectrum bill, so that leads me neatly from gardening to knitting. I have made 3 squares for my blanket -- devoted readers will remember that I was neglecting all to knit squares last fall. And I must say, they are still fun, fun, fun.

tell me that all these "squares" will block out to the same size! Ho ho, I say. I used up all my remaining pink DK for these, but I still have a ball of the dark red/wine colour and will make some solid colour blocks. The one rule I have for this blanket is that it alternates solid and multicoloured blocks. This looks quite garish, but really, it'll be mostly navy blue! Stay tuned for April's orange squares....

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Halfway to 18!

Yesterday was Arthur's 9th birthday! My baby is getting so big....

We went out to Duxford, part of the Imperial War Museum and home to many, many airplanes, mostly WWII vintage, but some older, and quite a few American cold war machines, including a B52. We stopped in the village of Duxford (which, as you can see, has a pump in the square, and a nice little old church, too) to have lunch at the John Barleycorn, a wonderful old pub with enormous and tasty lunches. After, um, soup, smoked salmon, Irish stew, an omelet and a ploughman's lunch -- oh and 2 pints of beer, a ginger ale and a ginger beer -- we made our way out to the museum. Of course, it is huge. There were, I think, 4 hangars filled with planes, some restored, and some being worked on now. They have airshows in the summer and a lot of these planes are airworthy.

Not this one, though! This is the skeleton of a biplane, I think a Gladiator. It was the last biplane fighter for the British, and did take part in WWII here and there. Apparently the Germans had seen these planes, and the blurb at the museum said this might have led to over-confidence on their part! Ah, though, the Brits had the Spitfires, too!

You could climb up to look in windows of a few of the planes, and outside there were some large old passenger planes you could go into. One even had bunks for the crew to rest in! And there were other outdoor exhibits, like this V1 on its launcher!

The schmanciest building was the American museum. They have things arranged more or less chronologically, with sections for planes from various conflicts. The B52 does take up the whole darn place, but they tuck things over and under it! It's enormous... There was a Blackbird, the fast, high-flying reconnaisance plane. There was also a piece of the Berlin Wall, with a series of news clips from the cold war, and a meter turning closer to peace or war as events took place.

Around this point Elaine began to flag, so we passed on the remaining building, where they keep land machines, like tanks and what have you. Actually, we missed some other stuff, too. I was supposed to check on Monty, but didn't manage that, either.

It was a long bus ride, but a very good place to visit! We missed a lot and will have to go back in the summer.

Then home for a bit of supper, including chocolate cake, of course. Happy birthday, Arthur!

(I can fit in a teeny bit of knitting news here. I used up my wool for the edging of the Maya circle. About 6 inches of edge to go!! Lucky for me, Alison, with whom I knit on Wednesdays, has some of this very yarn in her stash, and she will kindly provide me with the remaining few meters of it I need. I should be able to show you the finished thing on Thursday! Thanks, Alison!)

Friday, March 03, 2006

A little voice

A little voice in my head is telling me that I do not have enough yarn to continue this border all around. I have knit a bit more than half way, and I have a bit, and another bit, of yarn. Oooooh, I hate this! It's discontinued and I can't find any online in this colour anyways and, ack! I shall see what the situation is at the end of this segment, and then I think I'll be rippin'. And coming up with another nice edge that uses slightly less wool.


Update at 2:30
Okay, I think I can, I think I can. Two segments to go, one bit of yarn left... The suspense is killing me....

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Finishing up and just beginning

The Maya circle thing is getting its sideways garter sawtooth edging. All the stitches of the main piece stayed on their long circular needle, and I cast on 8 stitches on a separate needle. Then I knit the edging, but on every right side row, I knit one stitch from the edge together with one stitch from the body. I calculate that I had 248 stitches all together, which means 496 rows, and that's a lot of rows, even if they are really short! And I have to keep a marker between the body and the edge, which I have to move every time I k2tog. So, not totally mindless, but I think I'll be done in a few days.

And then what will this thing turn out to be? Well, I think it is too small to be a shawl, and besides, I've never really figured out how a round shawl is supposed to work. Probably it will be perfect for putting over your knees while working late at night, or watching TV or such. I'm quite curious about it myself, since it's been all scrunched up on the needle. We shall see.

For my March project in Project Spectrum, I will be using these pinks and reds. The pink 4-ply will become the gloves, the part-ball of pink will go into afghan squares, and the big red wool might become a scarf -- I thought I could do this sawtooth edging on both sides of a garter stitch scarf. Or it might wait, and get made into a bag with some brown wool...

All this pinkness is meant to be a side project and not the main show, which will be the big sweater -- needs sleeves and a yoke.

But, let's get one thing finished first, right?