Thursday, 31 May 2007

Oooh, I've been tagged to do a seven things meme! Oooff!

Wow. Seven things you don't know about me. Thanks for the tag, jayjay!

1. I'm a certified badminton coach -

I have the certificates and everything. Haven't played for years though. When I crossed the pond to the UK, I took my badminton and squash rackets, but haven't played since I've been here.

2. My first love was in the US peace corps.

He was lovely, the relationship was intense and when we ended it, I thought that I would die. I didn't though and I wonder why, because I was so dramatic. For a few years after that, whenever I saw someone of similar height and colouring, I'd pause.

And yearn.

We were good people, but not for each other.

3. My favourite song is Stardust's Music Sounds Better with You .

No matter what mood I'm in, it makes me dance and giggle like a little girl. I also do this little half soft shuffle no matter where I am. It's rather embarrassing when I do it in the town square. I have it on my mp3 player and play it all the time.

4. I'm a nail biter.

I want to stop. I tell myself I will stop. One of these days. I will.

5. I've written fanfic in the Harry Potter fandom. I've written loads of meta. I've also been a beta reader.

Strangely, I've grown like my fanfic better. I think I have a distinctive narrative voice, and good characterisations. Although I'm known for my meta. A beta reader is someone who reads people's fanfic and makes suggestions, be it continuity, grammar, vocabularly etc. I was a damned good beta reader, with my help I actually got people into selective writing communities.

6. I've written fiction. All sorts of fiction, mostly to do with minorities

But not in that emo self searching way that it seems you have to do. I like my characters to get on, and have whims and reasons. I should go through my stash (I keep the manuscripts in my yarn stash!), and actually take my writings and get them organised.

Not necessarily for sale, but just because I can.

7. When I was fourteen I read Homer's The Odyssey and the Illiad. I wanted to read Paradise Lost but the nuns stopped me.

I attended a Catholic school, which understood the tension between the Pagan and the Christian, and kitted out their library accordingly. That's why I like Neil Gaiman so much, because he acknowledges such tensions in his work, and creates his own mythos. I wish I could do that.

Bonus fact about me:

My writing style and writing outlook are influenced by comics. Particularly Marvel and DC. My mum made my brother read comics as a child, so that he would be tempted to read books without pictures. I grew up with my brother, an avid comic books collector. As a result of this, I have a fetish for writers who can paint a visual.

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Sorry about my lack of photographic skills

I just thought that you'd like to see more images in the book. There is nothing more frustrating than seeing the cover of a book, but not the images, you know what I mean? Well, this long... cardigan? Column of crochet? Architectual wonder? Is the 'Wedding dress' photo of the book. Ms Durham sets out the book rather like the workings of a fashion show. You have the day time clothes and accessories. The flirty, the coquette, the classic and all over attitudes of fashion, until you get to the Wedding Dress, where the designer shows off his skill and aesthetic to a T. Oh, if you click on the images they become bigger. But you know that, right?

I like this skirt. It's done with a cotton/lyrca blend. There are a lot of patterns in this book that calls for stretch, which is good, because we know how inflexible crochet can be when it comes to stretch. I'm almost tempted to do this skirt, just to see if I could do it. :)

It seems that Ms. Durham learnt from the criticism of the first book (people were saying that the models were too thin, the measurements too ana), so her models look solid. Curvy. Strong. Some on this side of zaftig. The measurements start at at 32" bust and waltz up to 48", I think (my cms to inches are a bit dodgy). Also, as is stated before, there's a lot of cotton/lyrca blends that she calls for, so that there is some stretch to the garment. She also uses wool (big sigh on my part, I'm trying to get away from wool, but there isn't a lot of elastic tweedy acyrlic/cotton blends out there, no?), so have a care.

I love this shawl. I think it's called a Solomon knot - paired together with the three dimensiona doiles. Fab, no?
I really need to do a good review of this book, but so many assignments, so little time.

What I'd say is, this book is stronger than her Loop d Loop book for knitting. Although I admired her aesthetic for the knitting Loop d Loop, there wasn't much to move me to knit things for myself, especially when you compare it to Norah Gaughn's Knitting Nature.

Ms Durham also gives little asides, as in, what inspired her to do X and Y, and there's a delightful yarn about her grandmother. She seemed as mad as Fat Tuesday, but a thrill to hang with.

I can't vouch for the clarity and ease of her chart following, so I don't know if there are any erratas to boot.

As a novice crocheter, I appreciate the fact that she has 'beginner', 'Intermediate' and 'Advanced' on her projects, so I know how much tears I'm going to spill.

I do hope this potted view of the book has helped you to decide if you want to get it or not!
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I drool - a quick review on loop d loop crochet

So, a confession. Way before I knew the way of the sticks, I used to crochet. Now in the West Indies, you didn't really crochet clothes or even follow a pattern per se, you'd learn from your Mum, or your Grandmum, and through imitation, you might innovate and the rest of it. So, I learnt how to do chain stitches, make flowers and do the odd doily. But since I was not one for high teas, or entertaining, the skill of crochet fled into the unconscious, and laid therein, slumbering. Debbie Stoeller's The Happy Hooker crochet series stirred my interest. Learned to do a few stitches, and the patterns were cute, but didn't move me with their aesthetic. I was waiting... with hooks stashed to one side, being all Cindrella singing, "One day my Prince will come."

Oh Teva Durham, how I heart thee! Her patterns came, laid their lips on my brow, and oh! I now yearn to pick up the hook, to do as she does, to imitate, yes, but oh! How the heart sings at her patterns, the cunning of her stitches. Prithee kind reader, look to the mustard boots of the top page. Isn't it just fab! Very chic, tres elegante. I lust.
And oh! Look at the delicate socks, juxtaposed against such healthy calves (I have a pair myself, developed from teenage soccer and badminton high jinx). Look at the crazy pavement of the patterns, rather like runs in stockings gone mad. Oh, so charming they are.
But Ms. Durham doesn't leave it there. No, like a true artist, she goes for the clothes as well. Look at the rustic crocheted jacket, with the doilies - the earthy colours make it so special. Normally, when it comes to clothing, I tend to want to change the value of tones. But no, this is perfect.
This orange gorgeousity is what made me decide to throw knitting to the wind - for now. Look at how it hangs, look at the lovely negative and positive space of the pattern. It looks like a dream out of a boutique, one that you'd pay arms, legs and half a torso for. So what if you couldn't walk, play or eat? This is dream crocheted into form, loops of desire coming into being.

Ah Teva, I wake, perchance to scream and sob at the patterns (is there any errata online? Does anyone know?).

Knitting, I take leave of you my darling. To go back to my first craft, to see... well... if it could work this time. You understand don't you, darling?
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Monday, 28 May 2007

Stick a fork in me because I'm done! (kinda)

Right. Apologies for the smeared mirror. But I'm done! Well, sorta. There are bits of strings all over the place, but I'll sew that up later on tonight while watching Prison Break. I have to tidy the strings and ends away.
Back of Loll. I'll retake pictures when the weather is brighter, but just thought that you'd appreciate a view of the back. The cardigan is a bit short, so I'll be wearing longer bottoms underneath the cardi. My style is much more casual than spit and polished, but some more length would have been good. Note the shaping at the waist. It's a nice touch that makes this pattern pop.
Finally, I've licked short row shaping. It was raining cats and dogs yesterday, and the internet was off, so I thought well it was better late than never. The blogs "Nona knits" and "purlwise" do have some good hints on how to do it, but I had to spell it out myself. I'll share my observations on short row shaping in a later post.
Close up of the curve of the neck. A slip stitch rib around the neck. Fab pattern!

The Nitty gritty.

I thought that you'd like a round up of this pattern. I consider myself an intermediate knitter: as in, I know how to follow a pattern, am not afraid to rip, change or make alterations to pattern when needed. I think my outlook is more advanced than my skills to be honest.

Needles: 5.5 mm needles . The pattern called for 5 mm needles, but due to the elasticity of the Rowan Calmer yarn (and my first time knitting with said yarn), I had to go up a size. The fronds at the end of the sleeves, back and sides call for 4mm needles. In retrospect, I should have also gone up a size (4.5mm).

Yarn: The pattern calls for 8 balls of yarn, but I actually used seven. I think it's because I went up a needle size, or something. I might use the other ball of yarn to make knitty's shedir. I need a cap.

Methodology: I did the sleeves first, both at the same time because the pattern for the sleeves had no shaping (and I was afraid of the pattern) and it was a nice way to 'work' into the architecture of the pattern. I'd advise you to do that if you ever start an unfamiliar pattern. Do the sleeves first. I then did the back , and you remember the dramas I had with that (two posts down), and the fronts for the last. Picking up the neck line and knitting it around was straight forward, so yay.

It's been so long since I've actually knit a garment, and have forgotten how long it takes to sew up. I also wanted my sleeves to be perfect re: the set in, so I ripped and reripped. The hubster actually gave me some good advice in terms of working from the top arc of the sleeve to the end of the armscye, so that if there is any bundling, it's all in the arm pit.

I did the smallest size for this cardigan because I have a 34" bust. The other size up was 38" and that had too much ease for me. The pattern seems to work on six stitches, and I didn't want to push my luck in adding an additional three stitches, but if I were to do it again, I might do so. I wish it had been 36" for the upsize, because of more room with tops underneath as well as installing a zipper. I'm not going to do that now, but I'm still thinking about it.

So, I'll tidy up Loll, wait for better weather to take some pictures.


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Friday, 18 May 2007

Pilot error

I don't know why blogger is being a butt.

Anyways, called Rowan today and one of the design team talked me through the problem, so I know what I did wrong. Pilot error and all that. When I've finished this baby (whenever), the post will be one of tears and woe and triumph over adversity.

So, this where I've ripped back to so far. It's twenty-three stitches less than the back shaping.

I hope to buy the Teva Durham Loop d Loop crochet - and hopefully, will post some pictures up here. It might take some time though, because I'm ordering off Amazon, because it's cheaper than buying stuff in Waterstones - and I am not bothered by staff. :)

I swear, I'm defecting to crochet...

Really, I think Loll has broken me.

I have stands what I thought I stands, and I can't stands no more, to paraphrase Popeye (terribly), but seriously, this pattern although cunning (tip my hat to Ms. Hargreaves, yes), is the yuck.
I cannot follow it blindly believing in its clarity and competence. I have to be doing schematics on graph paper before I commit it to yarn, because I refuse to tear stuff again and again.
First of all, I'm at the neck shaping, and it says that I have to rib 8 sts then slip them on to a holder and neglect those while I knit and shape the neck on the other side. So twenty rows later, I have a shaped neck (as seen on the right - although it's folded over) and a pretty steep step to the right which doesn't match the back (hint: where the magenta coloured thread is).
I've actually read the pattern three times, and really, it doesn't make sense, not in the schematics provided (God bless schematics, never trust a pattern without 'em), or in the reality. I know that Helen (my knitting svengali) always says that I need to be 'zen' with the knitting and such, but come on now, you mean to tell me that they couldn't sort this knitting pattern out, especially with the book in it's third or fourth printing?
Thanks for the comments in my blog. I seem to be petting them with great fondness and feeding them sticky cookies.
I thought about the buttons, honest - but I attempted the button holes - but they break up the stitch border, so I'm doing the pattern without button-holes and installing a zip, a tip from the beauteous poster at A Mangled Yarn.
Now I can understand why people decide to do top down knitting - it seems to be less open to nonsense.
It doesn't help that I remember crochet being something of a morale booster, wherein you could do an activity in a couple of days, instead of the months it's taken me to do this pattern. I have four assignments due June 11. Four. Yet, I've fobbed off studying time, friendships and yes, even food so that I can get this top done for the summer.
And yet.
And yet.
So, after Loll, I'm going to take a little break from knitting for a while - and turn my hand to crochet.
The main factor which tipped my decision to crochet is the new Teva Durham (apologies if the name is spelt wrong) Loop d Loop crochet. Every pattern is inspired, and I'm tempting to trade in her Loop d Loop knitting book (although it hasn't come from Amazon as yet), because there are so much more exciting things in her crochet version.
There's this fab orange crochet coat that I want - I must have. It's destined to be on my back - or me just doing it and probably selling it to someone for the price of the yarn, and just put it down to process, instead of product.
There's this cute top in Stoller's Stitch and Bitch Crochet that I'm eyeing, called cup cake. The only thing that's stopping me, is me wondering if it's too cute for my tastes. But I can wear it with a denim jacket, and make it edgy.
So, I've called Rowan yarns, asking them for help with the pattern, they say that the designers might call me today -depending on my place in the queue.

Friday, 11 May 2007

More pictures from 'no sheep for you'

Wow. This first jumper - aran design to boot - is made from Rowan Calmer. It starts at 11 balls of Rowan Calmer for a 36" bust. Can you say "Wow!" It doth boggle the mind, the fact that you can do such complicated cables with cotton yarn. It also means that in order for me to attempt this I'd have to find £80 just to make this jumper - or I could do it for quarter of the price in an icky colour of Calmer that doesn't suit. Okayyyyy.
This other jumper is a beauty. It's cabled X's and O's with cotton/linen yarn blend. I actually have some yarn that would suit. But do I really need another complicated cardi? In addition, it doesn't have any shaping - and I'm a bit too zaftig not to need shaping, if you know what I mean.
Finally, I think (knock on wood) that I'm almost breaking the back of this Loll jumper. On the needles I now have the two fronts (flourish of trumpets here). I do want to put buttons on this thing, I do and I need to do a buttonhole that won't break the pattern or have me swallowing my stitches. I really haven't gotten to grips with yfwd and the rest of it yet. *sigh* This colour is true to the ball. Thank ye Gods for the little light we had today. I wish Calmer had more saturated colours like this, oh I wish.

Anyhoos, just thought that you'd actually want to see some pretty pictures.

Also, I need to get some 4.5mm circular needles, it seems that American knitters have no truck with straights, but the straights I had to hand (Pony circulars) are terrible. Ugh.

I might just go back to crochet after this Loll. It's breaking me.
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No sheep for you - a quick review

Got this book from Amazon the other day - it's cheaper than getting it from Waterstones, and the yarn stores I know don't really sell anything beyond the basic pattern books (eg. Rowan, Filati, Rebecca, etc.). I wanted this book because I'm trying to distance myself from wool - not because I'm a vegan per se (erm... I'm not), but because I'm allergic to certain yarns with wool in them (eg - Rowan Felted Tweed), and also, I like the fact that other yarns may have a smaller environmental footprint. So with this in mind, I thought that I'd get the book. Overall, it's a decent read in terms of different yarns and their properties. I thought the book could have delved a bit deeper into various yarns and their shortcomings. It's a small gripe, but one neverthelesss. Like, if you wanted to say make this mosaic jumper (pictured below) in cotton instead of its orginal silk yarn, what are the factors that I should take into consideration? Or if I wanted to make Tomato Soup (below) in 100 silk instead of that particular Blue Sky Alpaca's cotton, what should I know?

There are three to four decent patterns in this book - this gorgeous mosaic jumper with lace sleeves is made from silk, and if I had the money, I'd splurge just to make this jumper. It is fab.

This jumper is by Wendy Bernard from Knit and Tonic. It definately has her sort of style. I know the model wearing it in the picture looks sort of hefty, but it's a flattering jumper nevertheless.

Alot of the patterns in the book are rather boring to knit, and sort of uninspired. I would have been happier if the book had more info on the properties of various yarns, and the substitution table could have been a bit more detailed. The book will stay in the library - for now. I might off load it soonish.
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Thursday, 10 May 2007

One is still knitting!

I'm still knitting! It's just that Loll is kicking my arse. Hopefully I should have the fronts up shortly!

Right now, I'm trying to find out how to do a one row horizontal buttonhole.