Friday, 30 November 2007

Everything changes, nothing remains without change

I do understand why people have strong feelings towards change. Why change is regarded with fear and loathing.

I myself know that change isn't always sudden, immediate or shocking. Change is inexoriable, unyeilding and constant. The notion of change should be met with equanimity, even a sort of eagerness.

We grow with change.

This is what I told myself. It was time to break away from Rowan patterns, to see how magazines do it, to add some spice to the knitting. Now that I've taken up with this Phildar pattern, and am totally foxed by these dashed instructions. I'm doing the third size (hello, gauge issues) up and at the end, I should have 13 sts to cast off. My calculations tell me otherwise.

Care to see?

Starting amt of stitches =63

Cast off 3 stitches twice and 2 stitches once. (3+3+3+3+2+2=16)

Then cast off two stitches from each edge of following alt rows.

single decrease 3 times (here, I assume that it means single decrease one stitch at each end of row) 3x2=6


On foll 4th rows, sgl dec 4 times (4x2=8)


On following alternate rows, single decrease 3 times (3x2=6)

29-6=23 sts

Then on each edge of following alt rows cast off 2 sts twice (wherein 2 sts on alt row cast off twice - that's 2+2+2+2=8)

23-8= 15

Cast off 3 sts (on foll alt rows) once (3+3 = 6)

15-6= 9

When work meas 43 cm after ribbing, cast off rem 13 sts.


Ugh. This is why I've taken so long on the sleeves. No one who's done this pattern on ravelry hasn't said anything about the sleeves and the stitch count, so I'm going to assume that it's my fault.

What am I doing wrong? Have I factored in too many decreases? Do you just decrease only once (as in, decrease stitches on one side of the work, leave the other side untouched until the other other)?

What am I doing wrong?

I think I might just leave the sleeves to stew, and then carry on with the back and front. I want to wear this top for Christmas and it's thwarting me! *Is thwarted*

Am I teh dumb?

Right now, I spit on change. Phooey.

ETA: A fellow raveler sent us some instructions. Her math is on point. I, am teh suck who now fears change.

I just went through it and I get 13. Here's what I reckon

(start with 63)

Rows 1, 2, 3 and 4 - cast off 3 Rows 5 and 6 - cast off 2

(16 decreased)

on alternate rows: sgl dec 3 times (-6) every 4th row: sgl dec 4 times (-8) on alternate rows: sgl dec 3 times (-6)

(20 more decreased)

cast off 2 four times (-8) cast off 3 twice (-6)

(13 remain)

Friday, 23 November 2007

Do you pick, or throw

Sung to the tune Do Your Ears Hang Low?

Do you pick or throw when you're finishing a row Is your yarn tied in a knot, is it tied in a bow Do you throw your yarn over (un) like a continental soldier Do you pick or throw?

For the past couple of months I've been trying to come to some peace with continental knitting. I do admire its virtures of being quick and minimal movement (and I have gotten quicker!) but the purl stitches are not as good as the knit stitches in continental. So, I tend to get lines in my knitting and really odd tension. I guess this is why most continental knitters knit in the round - they avoid the purl stitch.

Alas, I need a perfect purl stitch, because I'm doing the sweater (catalogue no. n 460-T6-275) from Phildar, autumn 06. So, I'm doing the old English throw. I think I may do the body in the round, so I can keep an eye on the fitting.

So, because life isn't simple, it seems that my tension for this pattern is wackadoo. It's supposed to be 19sts x 27rows, and I'm at 22sts x 27 rows. So, I'm doing the large size (instead of medium) so that I can get to the medium. I didn't want to go up 4.5mm needles because I like the snug fabric on the 4mm needles. I did a sleeve today and the tension worked out, so yayy.
I do think that my choice of needles (knitpicks options) tends to make my tension tighter, because the needles are slick and metal. I do intend to get the wooden knitpicks needle as soon as I can.

I do like the mods on the sweater that I've just highlighted - the longer body for instance. I'll definately do the 5cm for the waist instead of the 1.5 inch. I'm keeping the orignial neckline though (ravelery link, soz). I love that wide scooped neckline, and will wear a camisole underneath to keep my modesty.

The yarn used is Lana Grossa cool wool. It's a 50 gram ball, 120 metres, worsted (slightly heavier than the English double knit) and goes for £3.95 a ball. Lan Grossa yarn is what I'd call expensive (on par with Debbie Bliss, Louisa Harding, et al) but it's a nice yarn. The colourways are rich, the yarn is sprongy and tactile. In terms of pilling, I've had it bouncing around my knit bag for a couple days and not a fluff.

Wish us luck. This the the most tentative I've been with my knitting.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007


Hee, I'm actually writing a novel for nanowrimo.

Never mind that I'll have to do five thousand words a day (I'm already up to over 5000 words in two day, go me).

Of course, since I'm just writing this by the seat of my pants, it's a lot of nonsense. But the main action takes place around a yarn shop, and there are assasins and guns. But it takes place in a yarn shop and stuff.

So, since I promised you something related to knitting in my blog, behold an excerpt from my Nanowrimo. With a disclaimer and all that - it's not been revised. Also, the work (as scrubby as it is) is mine. Respect mah copyright!

The scene is this: Daniel (one of my main characters) is on the lookout for F, (another character) and he finds himself in a yarn shop.

The colours could thrill, he admitted, his eyes noting the grid of yarn ranging from blues to reds, following the reds as they slid into florid pinks and manic oranges before happily skipping to yellows and soothing into creams.

It was not only colour, but texture; some yarns were balls of the colour of eclipses, deep blacks and blues, so dark that they absorbed light, instead of reflecting it outwards. Other yarns had hints of shimmer in them, and they flirted and flitted with the swings of luminousity and movement, some balls were hazy as half-remembered dreams and others with patterns so sharp, they were a blur on the eye.

Then, there were the – needles- he assumed, looking at pointed plastic sticks as thick as his arm tapered to a point. They were made for knights to joust with for honour and the hand of a fair maiden, not for knitting.

Despite his annoyance, Daniel had to smile.

That's like, the only thing that's close to making sense. I'm actually enjoying the process. I don't think I'd ever see a publisher in this lifetime, but I'm happy.

Are you doing Nanowrimo? Have you ever been tempted?

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

What's your personality type?

I've always avoided this question, but today I didn't. I'm at a loose end right now, so I did the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and Keirsey Temperment sorter Test .

It seems I'm an INFJ. I was going to roll my eyes at the description: Introverted Intuitive Feeling Judging, but it's the first time that a test has accurately identified me as an introvert, because I am. Even though I can be sociable, and am interested in the welfare of my work and acquaintance mates, I do like to keep to myself. I think that's why I like knitting, or don't mind going camping with the hubby.

This paragraph is frighteningly accurate:

Usually self-expression comes more easily to INFJs on paper, as they tend to have strong writing skills. <- that's true. I can write myself into an interview, but in real life interviews, I tend to choke and stumble. Many people have actually commented on my writing skills over the years.

Since in addition they often possess a strong personal charisma, INFJs are generally well-suited to the "inspirational" professions such as teaching (especially in higher education) and religious leadership. Psychology and counseling are other obvious choices, but overall, INFJs can be exceptionally difficult to pigeonhole by their career paths. <- that's also true. I'm trying to get out of an 'inspirational' profession, but to quote Michael Corleone in Godfather III, "Just when I thought that I was out, they pull me back in".

Perhaps the best example of this occurs in the technical fields. Many INFJs perceive themselves at a disadvantage when dealing with the mystique and formality of "hard logic", and in academic terms this may cause a tendency to gravitate towards the liberal arts rather than the sciences. <- that's also true. My strong suits were history, literature, philosophy. I always balked at Math, until I started knitting anyway, and seeing how Math follows logic. Dammit, if I'd only known about this fifteen years ago!

Then, if that didn't sweep the rug from under my feet, this bit of prose did:

"They are, in fact, sometimes mistaken for extroverts because they appear so outgoing and are so genuinely interested in people -- a product of the Feeling function they most readily show to the world. On the contrary, INFJs are true introverts, who can only be emotionally intimate and fulfilled with a chosen few from among their long-term friends, family, or obvious "soul mates." While instinctively courting the personal and organizational demands continually made upon them by others, at intervals INFJs will suddenly withdraw into themselves, sometimes shutting out even their intimates."

Man, this feature contributed to a lot of broken relationships over the past couple of years. That old chestnut, "It's not you, it's me" got a lot of use over the years. But I really meant it.

Famous INFJs: Goethe, Chaucer, Robert Burns.

So, what's your personality type? Are our blog personalities compatable?

I'll try and have some knitting on this blog soonish.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Everyday above ground is a good day.

Oh man, oh man, oh man, oh man, why did it take me so long to discover Scarface?! Oh, yes, I know why, it's because those nihilistic rappers took the movie and made it their own: doing up their houses in the same lurid red and ivorydecor, with the pool underneath the stairs, and the TV in the bathroom with an ocean of a hot tub.

Calling themselves Tony Montana, and giving their albums names like, "The world is yours" and "Push it to the Limit." I was also put off by the posters, you know, the one with Tony Montana holding the grenade launcher, and screaming, "Say hello to my leettle frien' "

Also, it didn't help that every Italian male in their twenties I know was dressed like they escaped from 1983, pre "Miami Vice", post disco with that white double breasted suit, and the oversized lapels. The imitation of Pacino's Cuban accent didn't help either, especially with, "Who put dis deal together? Me? Who I trust? Me!" (An Italian imitating a fake Cuban accent by an Italian American? Priceless.)

Don't get me wrong, I've always been a fan of Al Pacino. I loved him in The Godfather trilogy, The Devil's Advocate, and Heat. Hell, I saw Oceans 13 because of him (not a fan of Pitt or Clooney, no.). But I'd never seen him in Scarface. Saw posters, heard about that ghastly chainsaw scene, but didn't go beyond that.

So, what brought this about? you may ask, and I'm rather embarassed to admit it. I was reading a particular author's work, and she has a series of books out, about men who serve in the US Navy SEALS. So, she mentions this character's name, Vincent DeInnocentis and how he looks like Al Pacino, and that's why they call him "Godfather"(code name, nothing hokey). So, I'm thinking about Al Pacino as Micheal Corleone in Godfather I (1st photo, the other photos are from Scarface).

You know, that face Al Pacino has then, earlier in the film? Iit's a nice face. Lean, with striking features of hooded eyes, a strong nose, a mobile mouth. But his face is not yet not fully formed, not yet lived in. When he smiles, it's easy, but reserved, because that's how Micheal is. He is stillness, has the core within him to live apart, to distance himself from his family's business, because it doesn't define him - not like it defines his brothers.

Not yet, anyway.

Moving on. So, I read two other books within the series, and Vincent kinda resembles Al Pacino in Scarface. I'm like, "Scarface? As in, "Say 'ello to my leetle fren'?" or, "When you **** with Tony Montana, you ****ing with de bes'?" Scarface? Really? And then, I cocked my head to the side, rather like a puzzled dog and tried to think how Al Pacino looked in that movie, and can only come up with him and the grenade launcher, at the end. Or him sitting in front of that false front of a tropical background, with his coat slung over his shoulders and his arm in a sling. And I'm like, "really?" and felt bummed. Why not Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver, with his whipcord body, tough guy bravado and face creased in sly smiles?

Sighing, because well, although I avoided Scarface despite it being a cult movie, and all the baggage it brings, it seems I must see it, to see what sort of face Al Pacino has in that movie. The one between The Godfathers and Carlito's Way.

Well, wow.

What a face Al Pacino (as Tony Montana) has in this movie! It's tough, and very much lived in. Montana's face is a barometer of his moods: a satanic mask with hellfire eyes when angered at a percieved double cross, almost handsome when happy (because Tony Montana is not handsome, he's striking, yes, but not handsome). His body has a swing to it, sometimes jittery, due to the drugs, but always cocky, always powerful. Montana is shades of charisma and cruelty, which simultaneously makes him atttractive and repellent to his nearest and dearest.

The movie itself is definately a Greek tragedy, with our antihero coming from nothing, seizing chances, making the right choices and getting money, power and his woman, a fey and cold blonde. His pursuit for the whole world and everything in it literally destroys him, but he goes out with a bang; when he's all pumped up with coke, riddled with bullets and literally seeing his burgeoning empire now ashes at his feet, in his mouth and nose, he looks at his assassins and snarls/screams the immortal words, "I'm still standing!" before he's blown away.


So yeah, I'm converted. I love Scarface, for its themes of greed and obsession and impotence. It is truly a cautionary tale and nowhere near as romantic as rappers want it to be. It's a story about a bad man in an even worse business.

What probably appeals, is that although Tony Montana is no hero, he still has his own moral code, and he went down fighting. The story isn't exactly Macbeth (although it has a few key themes in common) but its compelling.

Tony Montana is all passion and no control, all faith and nothing to believe in, and when he finally takes a stand, it gets him killed, in large part because he destroys his own support systems.


And yes, I can understand why the writer used that celluloid image for her character in her story. Vincent DeInnocentis is tough, and has his own moral code, but unlike Montana, he doesn't really have those sociopathic tendencies and a drug habit that could stun an African bull elephant. He's lived (although he's relatively young), and his character is formed, so he deserves a face like Montana's. It really fits, and I think I have a new literary crush, even though he's already gotten his girl. *sighs*

I'm the suck.

On the knitting scene: I was supposed to do a jumper for Nanowrimo - the National Write a Novel Month, wherein you write 50,000 words in 30 days? Instead, you're supposed to do 50,000 stitches in 30 days (about a jumper's worth). I wanted to do central park hoodie in Rowan All Seasons cotton. I've done the gauge stitch and casted on twice, but the yarn isn't for that jumper. Maggie Righetti is right, you need to listen to your yarn.

My all seasons is murmuring sweetnothings for me to turn it into a miltary jacket but with slightly belled sleeves, ala Phildar. It's also telling me in hot whispers that I need to get a calculator, some graph paper and hop to it, because it would be fabulous, but I'm studiously ignoring it. I don't want to start whipping out calculators and Barbara Walker just yet.

At the moment, I'm still crocheting my squares for charity, and trying to talk myself out of doing a short sleeved garment for winter. But winter in my neck of the woods hasn't been winter for a while, with all that global warming.

So, have you discovered something new that you've perhaps dismissed before?

Saturday, 3 November 2007

A Book Review!

Book: Crazy Aunt Purl: Drunk, Divorced and Covered in Cat Hair: The True-Life Misadventures of a 30-Something Who Learned to Knit When He Split (Paperback) Laurie Perry.

For the benefit of those who don't really follow online blog personalities, Crazy Aunt Purl is the moniker undergone by Laurie Perry. A Texican who migrated to California, she got married, invested her selfworth and mental wellbeing in her husband, only for him to split. In despair she started a blog to chart her new life and its progress as it were, and well, her blog just became great. She was nominated for Blog of the year in 2005/6.

In the world of knitting, Crazy Aunt Purl is rather like the yarn Harlot (Stephanie Pearl-McPhee) in the sense that you go to her blog to garner a laugh and get the odd insight be it life or love (for knitting). No patterns there!

The difference is that The Yarn Harlot was born in the land of knitting; she knows the language, has the passport and changes the moods as well as dictating the trends. On the other hand, Crazy Aunt Purl is a new migrant, and her struggles with knitting and subsequent joy in the craft rather mirrors the snags and highs in her new life, post divorce.

If you've read her blog, you'll have an idea about the book: each chapter is like a blog entry, one subject debated at length in short bites. The book is divided into three sections, each showing desperation, a stumble and then recovery. There are patterns in the back, a bit quirky, nothing special (although I like the lace scarf and cap).

To be honest, I think her blog is much better than the book. The blog posts feel spontaneous, quirkier and a bit more complete. In contrast, the book seems to have been edited to the point of stiltedness. The stronger 'entries' in the books are those lifted from her blog (about 15 percent). In the blog, her speech candence comes out more, as well as that Southern sensiblity and sass. In the book... not so much.

If you're not a knitter, don't let it deter you from having a read. It could have been any hobby that gave the author focus and made her find herself, so to speak. There are a few good chapters that make you think, especially the one where the author enters into a relationship with someone and recognises that although he may not be the one, he made her feel special and worthy and notes that although its not love, it means something.

As someone who's gone through a similar patch regarding relationships, it's an important lesson to learn, and something I tell all the girls I meet.

Overall, I'd say relegate this on library loan, and read the blog instead. I can't sell this book on, because I inadvertently ruined it. :/'