Sunday, 25 May 2008

Nothing to see here...

Hey guys, I have no photos to show you. Boo. My nokia N95's camera isn't working. This phone has been a major stress, and I don't think I'll ever go back to Nokia again. UGH.

My other camera - the sony one- needs to be charged. When that's done, I'll get some pictures on, pronto.

I've been working on the Debbie Bliss yoke sweater (ravelry link, soz) in the Prima yarn. I must admit, I do like DB's prima yarn. It's 80 percent wool/20 percent bamboo and its dk (or sport weight, for you Americans out there). It's a lovely yarn that seems to marry both characteristics of the materials gone into them. The bamboo gives the yarn a lovely drape and lustre, and the wool gives it elasticity and makes it easier to work on the hands.

Due to a quirk of my gauge with my knit picks metal needles, I've had to abandon them, and use colonial rosewood needles instead. The needles are nice, but not as smooth as I hoped - but you have to 'season' bamboo and wooden needles, by running them through your hair and allowing the oils to build a patina of sheen on them. So because of this, I'm not zipping through the miles of stocking stitch like I thought I would.

If I knit too long, my fingers hurt, due to the 'grabby' nature of the wool against the wooden needles. Also, I'm afraid of knitting too long because I've been seeing a fair few of my knitterly friends having to wear wrist splints because of the repetitive action. So, to quote a well known Jamaican proverb: take sleep, mark death - which just means that you note the little patterns and use that to see the big picture.

So, yesterday I watched the Eurovision song contest. For the Americans on my flist, Eurovision is a deliciously campy song competition that happens around this time every year. It's over the top, with original lyrics and zany costumes. On average, forty different European countries enter, and only twenty five countries make it to the final. You have songs lasting for two - three minutes each, and people are encouraged to be as original and outrageous as they can.

The way how the Eurovision song competition is going now its very political. People in the respective countries are not allowed vote for their own talent, so you have to vote for another country. I voted for France's divine.

But the thing is, if you're not from the Balkans or the Baltics, your song doesn't get a look in. Pants. I thought Latvia's pirate's song was brilliant as well.

So, I hope to have some pictures up here. So far, the knit is all stocking stitch - rather boring, but soothing inthe sense that you can watch TV.

While I'm doing that, I'm thinking about doing my thermal in pieces, then seaming. I probably might do that, but then, I think about the dark yarn and change my mind again.

We will see.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Swatching for England

Swatching for England. To the left, I'm doing the Yoke detailed sweater (how American sounding!) from Debbie Bliss' Coastlines. Instead of doing it in silk, I'm doing it in her prima yarn in emerald. It's a pretty yarn, a merino, bamboo blend. Bamboo gives the yarn its drape and lustre, wool will give me a bit of warmth and elasticity. I'm ruminating over the neckline, knowing that the silk tends to droop, hence that elongated neckline. Bamboo/wool might not have that same inclination to 'droop' but we will see.

Already, there's a problem. The pattern calls for 24stsx30rows on 4mm needles. I can only get 22stsx30 rows, so am reswatching in 3.75mm needles. Fingers crossed.

The picture to the top right is my swatch for thermal. I knitted a swatch, stuck it to my cork board with two clothes pins at its edge to imitate weight in order to coax it to stretch. The thermal stitch is very stretchy - as in, an inch. This is done in rowan soft 4ply (100 percent merino). So, will do 34" instead of 36" size on 3mm needles. The twisted rib for the cuffs was very stable - didn't budge from 2 inches - even after the washing and hanging (I treat my swatches mean, to keep them keen).

The jumper to the front is from Rebecca 36. It's just called 'brown sweater' and has cables and lace, done in a cotton/acrylic yarn called Leona. I'm subbing Leona with Rowan all seasons cotton in a green/grey/brown colour called 'military'. I got 20 balls of it on the cheap because it was being discontinued. I thought of knitting an actual military jacket, but this yarn wants to be this jumper. My gauge is on point, although I've never really done cable on a jumper before (did on Fetchings, but never on clothing). I haven't done a lot of lace, so this might ease me into the land of lace knitting.

I'm hoping to follow less of the US elections (go Dems!) a lot less, and focus on my knitting a bit more. No more ravelry for the nonce, because I do want to get these jumpers finished. The yoke one will be nice to wear in this changeable British weather - cool when it's hot, warm when its cool.

Next week, I hope to be half way through the body.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

*taps on microphone* Is anybody out there?

Hello! I know, it's been a minute. I had to deal with some business in IRL, wherein I came, I saw... and got my arse kicked. So, I've been licking at my wounds for a while, and decided to get my knitting on.

I love knitting. No matter how bad things get, I can always rip back, and make something useful. In knitting, you can always fix mistakes.

So, without further ado, here's my tomato.

The usual specs:
Pattern: Tomato, by Wendy Bernard from the book No Sheep for You.
Started: March, 2008
Finished: May, 2008
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Stella in blue and cream
Needles: Aldi 4.5mm.
Mods: Did 140 sts at bust instead of 156sts, did pattern a couple of rows earlier.

I actually liked this topdown. It was easy peasy. I had issues with it though, in the sense that the pattern calls for negative ease - and the measurements were for 32" and 37" bust lines. So, since I'm 35" - I had to do 140 sts (instead of the 156 dictated by the pattern). In addition, I was leery re: the pattern on my bust, so, it's a bit high up (under the pits) and not across the 'girls'. The Debbie Bliss Stella is lovely: yes, it's prone to splitting, but it has a soft, lived in feel and look to it, and it takes the 4.5mm needle sizes nicely (the needle size recc'd for this yarn is 5mm).

I do like the yarn, but doing stranded knitting with such a thick yarn was tricky, because you didn't want it to be too tight, you know? I'd do this in a dk yarn next time, with some elasticity too. It's a nice sweater for this hot weather we're having. Not too hot, with all that silk and cotton. You could wear this baby against sunburnt skin and not feel uncomfortable.

Like a virgin?:
This is the first time that I've completed knitting a topdown garment. There are advantages to this method, especially when you're knitting with limited yarn quantities. What's nice is that the seaming is minimal, and I appreciate Ms Bernard's necklines. They are nice and wide and there's enough stitch work for interest.

Oh that purple fingering yarn to the right? That's the swatch for my thermal in rowan soft 4ply, 100 percent merino yarn in an aubergine colour called 'Victoria' (I think).

Hmmm... I hear that the rowan 4ply soft stretches like a politician's lie, so I'm doing a swatch for gauge, and for how this yarn is going to behave. I've been hearing stories about doing the jumper in the first size (32!) because it will stretch to 35 inches when I'm done. Can we say, *okay*? But it's a jumper done in fingering yarn, and it calls for a commitment in terms of time and effort.

Sooo, because I'm incorrigible (what? You thought that I changed?! and my eyes are bigger than my stomach - have you seen Kim Hargreaves' new collection? I'm sure you have, I've been away. I like the fact that she has denim yarn in this collection. I want to knit either joy or glee. I like glee because it looks lady like - and I can wear a denim jacket that doesn't look like a denim jacket. Joy probably seems more my speed, but I love glee.

So, onward to doing this swatch. I'm going to wash it, stretch it and stick it on a cork board and see how it stretches.

I don't trust you, 4ply!
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, 20 March 2008

*sighs* I hate life

You remember when Marian Cotillard won her Oscar and she said something about loving life and love?

Sadly, I can't say I'm enamoured of life at this moment:

My herringbone stitch for my tomato is giving me a warm time. This will be the fifth time I've ripped back - boo. The thing with my tomato is, I fall between sizes - in addition, the pattern calls for negative ease. So instead of 136 sts or 156 sts, I'm working with 140. Herring bone stitch is a multiple of 4, but the way how this design is, it seems to be a multiple of 4+2 at round 1 and round 4. Arrrgh.

In other life news, my partner and I have decided to withdraw from the adoption process - even though its more a matter of jumping instead of being pushed.

According to stats, it seems that we're neither wealthy enough nor do we have an adequate enough 'social circle' to adopt. Also, I don't have parental experience, which is important since this child won't be ours, as the social worker keeps saying. I now need to call my referees and tell them to stand down.

So, I'm a bit bummed right now. Off to rip my tomato back two rows.... again.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Ohhh la la! New Knitty!

Have you seen it? Yosemite and ribbon scarf are mine! I have first dibs. Honeycomb is cool too.

Need to finish up my knitting. Yes.

See you Friday. :)'

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Purple - or is it blue? Tomato

My partner and I have been puzzling over this colour of yarn. I think it's an ultramarine blue (the first picture is really accurate), while my partner thinks its purple. I actually hope that it's blue, because I have too much purple yarn. It's going to be embarrassing when I knit up all this purple yarn - oy.

So, I decided to look up colour psychology and came up with my favourite colours and what they meant.

Purple: Associated with: creativity, fertility, joy, but also magic, evil, death and sex

Orange: Associated with: stability, reassurance, warmth, and is thought to aid digestion

Green:Associated with: nature and energy, calming and restful, balance (halfway between red and blue) security, stability

Blue: Associated with: calming and soothing; promotes intellectual thought; believed to keep hunger at bay; loyalty, serenity, authority, protection, contemplative, prevents nightmares.


Anyhoos, this is my first top down pattern, it's knit and tonic's Tomato . I must admit, it's the only pattern from No Sheep for You that I genuinely liked, so imagine my chagrin when knitting daily offered it for free! After I bought the book! Grrr. I'm not using the recommended yarn for this project (Blue Sky Alpaca's organic cotton) because I don't like it much. It pills dead easily (winding hanks into balls!), would be very uncomfortable on the size 7 needles and just feels really heavy.

I'm using Debbie Bliss' Stella, a cotton/silk/rayon blend. It has a nice slubbed texture (to hide the inevitable pilling), and the silk will have nice temperature regulating abilities. I'm doing it on the sevens, using the directions for the smallest size (but added additional stitches on the armscye so I can wear a t-shirt underneath without it bunching).

So far, the pattern is easy. I must admit, I scratched my head when it came to backward loop cast on (too loosey goosey, I understand why its used for lace cast on), and how to join the neckline into the round.

That was because I'm accustomed to knitting from the bottom up, so the needles dipping down threw me for a six.

The pattern is going well so far *knocks on wood*, and if I actually put my mind to it, I'd probably finish this by Friday - but alas, I have to tidy my house, fill out a stack of papers (an inch high!) and get some work done. It also doesn't help that I've started reading comics again - in earnest - as well as all those Navy SEALs romance novels *sigh*. They are so utterly trashy, like junk food for the intellect. So decadent, and so good. I'm shameless, I know.


Oh, btw, flickr sucks. Because I live in the EU, my picture amounts have been shaved to nothing. What it means is that I have to go back to flickr and delete some of my pictures - or pony up $24.95 for a year.

So, what's your favourite colour? What's the psychology behind it? Surprise yourself!

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Rip it good

"There's dust on my guitar/ and it's all your fault/ and you've paralyzed my mind and for that, you suck/Ooohh"

I don't even remember who sang that song, but they used to show it on Saturday morning cartoons when I was a wee sprong.

Anyways, how have you been? As for me, I've spent the time reading good books by Suzanne Brockmann - who writes really good stories with characters that make me cackle until three am in the morning. Right now, I'm totally mooning over the plight of Jules and Robin - my gay one true pairing (OTP).

I've also spent the past two weeks knitting the short sleeved cardigan - only to face the facts: the slubbed, lived in texture of this yarn doesn't suit the crisp sunny nature of this cardigan. Probably a smooth cotton/bamboo or a bamboo tape would have worked. Alas, cotone cardi, we hardly knew ye.

So, I'm gonna rip it back and do a Tomato from no sheep for you. The Stella yarn is a slightly better yarn than the blue sky alpaca cotton (the recommended yarn) in the sense that the Stella yarn hides the pilling well, and with its silk/cotton/rayon mix, it should be comfortable to wear. I've never really committed to a top down garment to its completion, so I'm going to be putting the foot down on this baby. I want three tops for Spring, and this is top no. 1.

My weekend will be the following:

  1. Rip yarn
  2. Wind yarn in hanks, dampen and let dry
  3. Wind into balls
  4. Do swatch
  5. Start knitting - Sunday night.
The grand thing - I'm wearing the heck out of my Phildar pullover. It's charming, warm and I might knit another one in another colour - and put on sequins and keep it 'for best'.

We will see.

I hope to update on Sunday (tomorrow evening), or mid week the latest. See you then!

Have you ripped back anything lately?

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Spinning a yarn

Right. So far, I've gone ahead and done the 34" bust size for that Lana Grossa Cotone no 5, pattern no. 5. I did the size smaller in the stella since I hear it grows 'some' and not much. I can live with that. Or rip it back if I'm not satisfied.

I've done it before.

The sleeves are more or less finished, although I have a fair few problems with the pattern. By the time you follow all the instructions, you're seven inches in, and yet the pattern asks you to bind off at six inches. Things that make you go, "*&^%!$ crosses."

So, last night, to keep my sanity, I took on a dare and started writing Sweet Valley High fanfic.

Not the high school/college variety, but the Sweet Valley Heights variety, when our well loved (and loathed!) characters are existing in their gated community and living out a desperately incestuous existence, what with all the boyfriend (now husband) swapping and the like. I used to read SVH and was always bemused at the fact that to date outside the SVH community was death.


So, someone said that John Barrowman reminded one of Bruce Patman at forty. He had that sort of charm that can be at times sweet, yet having a sinister edge. You'd be wanting to kill Patman, yet you would stay your hand and find some other punishment that sat lightly on your soul, because he was so *hawt*.

That was all it took and I wrote slash. Me, who shied away from writing slash in the HP fandom (and my OTP was a popular slash pairing), bust a move and wrote two stories featuring Steven Wakefield (the twin's older brother) and Bruce Patman.


I shan't link you to the stories because they are too risque, like Mr Barrowman himself.

I have a sickness.

Anyhoos, came across some yarn via ravelry. It's New Lanark, from Scotland. For 100 gs its about £1.80 for aran weight (150 m) and for 100 grams of dk it's about £1. Bargain. They have natural colours, some emerald colours and there's the option of 100 percent wool as well as a wool/silk mix. I ordered three balls to have a play with, because I want to do Nora Gaughn's tweedy aran cardigan that's for sale on the IK website.

The wool is relatively soft, and I hear it softens more on knitting and steaming. For all my anti-handwash vibe, I might have to bite the bullet and purchase more. I mean, I can make a man sized jumper for £18! £18! Compared to Rowan's price at £80! Bargain, that. It makes me wonder about the 'designer yarns' and their overheads.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Any 'Fibre whisperers' out there?

I have a problem.

See, I want to knit this (look at model no 5 with the short sleeves) with Debbie Bliss Stella colour no 10.

Now, the Debbie Bliss Stella is comprised of 60% silk, 20% cotton and 20% rayon. All of these materials on their own are known to grow (silk grows when worn, so does some cotton and rayon, in my readings and experience) . However, I haven't really come across a complaint about this yarn growing while knit.

As such, I'm unsure if I should do size medium 36" bust, and just do size small (34" bust) instead, since I've a feeling that this yarn might GROW. Right now, I'm doing the sleeves first, and have sent out missives to those on ravelry who've used this yarn.

I do have my suspicions with the fact that Debbie Bliss tends to use a LOT of patterns with cables. Yes, ideally yarn needs to be elastic for cables, but Bliss also uses cables as some sort of structure with her yarn designs.

Help! I'm drowning, not waving.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Got gauge? Jazzy sings the blues

"Born under a bad sign/ been down since I learned how to crawl/if it wasn't for bad luck/then I wouldn't have no luck at all"

Homer Simpson from The Simpsons Sing the Blues.

Normally, I'd scoff at Homer Simpson's fatalistic caterwauling, but that was before last week (after my vacation in the Land of the Navel), and my gauge swatching. I've been swatching samples all week. I have yet to start my thermal because my John Lewis didn't have the amount of yarn I needed. So I've sent off for some. Meanwhile, I'm swatching and singing the blues.

Normally, the reason why it takes me so long to start a project is substitution and gauge. Most times, I tend sub the yarn used for varying reasons, but all have to do with the fact that I live in the UK, and I have to work with what I've got. Also, I tend to obsess over gauge and make sure that it's perfect, including calculations and everything, so once I start to knit, I never look back.

With my swatching of these squares, I've come to some inalienable truths:

  1. My gauge/tension is tighter on metallic needles.
  2. My stitches are much neater on wooden/bamboo needles.
  3. I spend a lot of time swatching.
So, what am I swatching? To the left in that purple/blue yarn is a short sleeved top by Filati, I think. I like the design but not the original yarn. Stepping into the substitute box is Debbie Bliss Stella - a silk, cotton, rayon mix. It's light and papery smooth to the touch, and the colour will work on me. Of course, the yardage sucks, and the yarn is 'high end', but I want it.

My swatch is on point for this yarn.

In the middle with that plum yarn: a Vogue top- raglan sleeves, with bobbles on the sleeves and a cable and bobble front. I love the bobble detail on the sleeves, but not in love with the bobbles on the neckline. I'm using Bergere de France magic. The 'magic' is supposedly for 5-5.5mm needles, but it's really chunky, and handled the 6mm nicely to form a good fabric. However, on my Aldi turbos (6mm), the tension is too snug, and on my 6.6mm bamboos, it might be a tad too big. I should have some 6.5mm circulars about, so we will see.

That teal yarn there? That's Cascade superwash 220 in Spruce. On my monitor, the spruce was a darker green blue. The tone was rather mysterious, like shadows in the snow in a coniferous forest. In real life, it's a TEAL yarn. I've nothing against teal, but dang. Anyways, it seems that the superwash is a bit thinner than its non superwash comrade. Crap. So, instead of me getting 18 sts to 4 inches on 5mm needles, I'm getting 20 sts. I don't want to go up a needle size (5.5mm), because it will look like lace.

Crap again.

Not many people make bamboo circulars, and once you go metallic circular with fine cords, you never go back. Good thing I don't mind knitting with straight needles.

Hopefully, I'll get something sorted, because I do want to wear more knitted stuff. Once you start wearing home made knit garments, its hard to pay scads of money for acrylic based clothing, really.


Friday, 8 February 2008

Yo, Joe! Jazzy courts nostalgia, you might want to pass on this post.

Readers, forgive me. It's been eight days since my last post. I've gotten my Rebecca magazine (I'm so casting on - once I've done my swatching) and wondering why people don't do double knit or sport weight patterns anymore. What's with all this aran and heavier yarn stuff? With 4ply and dk you can layer, will have garments that are light enough to wear in summer, yet giving you leeway for winter with layering. Also, it doesn't make you look like you've been doing a Winne the Pooh and getting stuck in the honey pot (or whatever vice you're stuck on). In addition, it really doesn't take that long to knit in 4 ply and sport weight. Really.

Also, I've been spending time on Ravelry as a volunteer editor, which just means archiving patterns and their links and prices as well as writing notes. These editing jobs are primarily the new Rowan RYC magazines, and the new Rebecca. I might do the new Filati too. Then, as the patterns get worked up, I'll be pestering people for pictures to pair with the new spring/summer patterns posted. The 'job' isn't hard, but it's rather time consuming.

Anyways, I haven't been knitting for the past couple of days, because I've become reacquainted with GI-Joe (the original Sunbow series, mind. Not the Dic series or the GI Extreme or Sigma 6), and have fallen in love with the cartoon and characters again - but for the first time.

Right now, I guess you know they are making GI Joe the live action movie to be released in 2009. It will be a good book end to the franchise, whose 25th anniversary is being celebrated this year.

GI-Joe was the first cartoon that I fell hard for. It was an ensemble cast of good guys fighting COBRA, a terrorist group trying to take over the world. Due to me living in the West Indies, we got the cartoon that was shown state side, so I know the "GI JOE, a real American hero" spiel by heart. At least three versions of the theme. Why, I can even sing the original song for GI Joe the animated movie (Cobra la) without prompting, and without irony.

Two variations of the songs. Flint (the guy wearing the beret) is pointing his hand in this one, the second version.

Duke (the blonde haired guy) leads the charge in the original. You see that black guy, Stalker, coming up to the front left of Duke? He's one of the original Joes in the comic- and helped formed the original team along with Hawk. Recognize.

What I remembered about the cartoon is the excitement, from Flint's shout of : "Yo, Joe!" and his gloved finger pointing in the direction of the charge, to the actual action of the cartoon episode itself, some life lessons (knowing is half the battle) and then the end credits which were just as thrilling.

The cast of characters were colourful as their names: Duke, Scarlett, Snake Eyes, Cover Girl, Flint, Lady J, Gung ho, Roadblock, Dusty and then later (in the cartoon series), Shipwreck and Hawk.

In every episode, additional characters came thick and fast: Mainframe, Dial Tone, Ace, Lifeline, Doc, Airbourne, Airtight, Alpine, Quick Kick... I could go on and on.

Of course, such good guys actually deserve colourful and worthy opponents, like the megalomaniac Cobra Commander, with his rasp of a voice, and an unwavering thirst for world domination, Destro the arms dealer who wears the mask as a nod to his ancestors, and the Baroness, loyal to both men, but never being less than herself in the process. Rounding off the Cobra ranks was Zartan, and his gang (The Dreadnoks), the mercenary Firefly and the capable Major Bludd, who is not a poet but doesn't know it.

GI Joe had a fair bit of action, most times than not, you'd find yourself in the thick of the battle, or meet the Joes gearing up for said battle. The Joes and Cobras would clash anywhere - in space, on the roof of the world, in alternate dimensions... and I'd go with them, a willing participant in whatever the cartoon was selling.

But really, what kept me coming back to GI Joes were the characters - considering that this cartoon was just made to sell the Hasbro toys to boys - that's something.

The banter between Cobra and Destro would have me in stitches each episode. You got the fact that although Destro had to defer to Cobra Commander, he didn't much like it - or him.
"Of course, my dear Cobra Commander", he'd say with sarcasm so rich and thick, you wonder why he didn't choke on it.

Tomax and Zamot, the Crimson twins (video PG13 for language) would finish each other's sentences, and were brilliant, charming and resourceful, because they would have been successful anywhere.

There was also the fact that characters on both sides - not just the good guys- had their own moral code and sense of loyalty. Way before I read the comics, I knew that Stormshadow wasn't bad, he just had his own moral compass. Zandar may have been mercenary, but when his sister was in danger from a Cobra scheme, he'd throw his chips in with the Joes to rescue his sister. Same with Xamot when his brother was being held 'hostage' by the Baroness.

Those character studies would have been enough to keep me coming back, but then the cartoons had recurring adult relationships which showed another side of the characters, and earned my loyalty.

You see, earlier cartoons might have had established couples, but you didn't really see anything other than a kiss on the cheek, ala The Flintstones, or just staid couples like Daphne and Fred in the Scooby Doo cartons. You knew they were a couple, just because... but nothing more. Or, if the cartoon was 'edgy', you'd have the main character falling for someone, but that character would be a one off, and they'd wave goodbye with hearts in their eyes.


GI Joe broke that mold by showing relationships with adults that weren't staid at all. There was kissing, the slight edge of jealousy, the sorrow of what could have been.

For the recurring adult relationships there was Destro and the Baroness, who were involved with each other, with kissing and all. Considering the fact that this was a kids' cartoon, such blatant sensuality between these two characters made my young life, and my heart go pitter pat.

Destro and the Baroness did more than just snog, Destro got jealous of her flirting with Flint (although it was part of a Cobra plan in the Eau de Cobra episode), and the Baroness actually destroyed Destro's ancestral home because his attentions were elsewhere (a blonde Cobra drone). Despite the drama, you got the feeling that they deserved each other and they wanted each other. That relationship was dark and exciting, and no less real to me than my parents' own. Sad but true.

On the Joe's side, you had Scarlett and Duke who were an item in the cartoon (but Scarlett and Snake Eyes were in the comics), but seemed more flirtatious and not as serious as Flint and Lady Jaye. I loved the Flint/Lady Jaye relationship just as much as I loved the Destro/Baroness one, because they were similar.

Both men respected their women enough to let them get on with what they did best (kicking you know what, taking names), expressed concern and flirted with their other halves. Love was never mentioned between the characters, but you felt it, and knew it. Flint's halting remarks when he expressed worry, his blush when Lady Jaye expressed hers (in front of Shipwreck), and the slightly snarky tones they exchanged were really a portrayal of a healthy relationship. No sacred cows, here.

However, those two relationships never made me pause and get a pang in my heart like the truncated one of Mainframe and Zarana in the episode titled Computer Complications.

Despite the fact that they were on opposing sides of the conflict, they had chemistry - and lo and behold, I found one of my kinks. Anything with truncated love affairs I'll read, so I can mourn over what could have been.

These characters were the ones that got me into the GI Joe comics - even though they were relatively expensive and hard to get in my neck of the woods (my brothers and I collected the Daredevil, X-men, and Spiderman series faithfully. I'd buy the GI Joes whenever I saw them, or read the ones my friends bought when they came back from the states). In the comics, I loved Stalker, Hawk's second in command as written by Larry Hama (but Stalker wasn't shown in the cartoons, Duke, the blonde haired blue eyed guy was pushed by Hasbro).

Then, I dropped out of GIJoe, because I didn't like the Dic series, and I thought Serpentor was nothing more than an overgrown toddler instead of the champion villain that he should have been (to his credit, Larry Hama explored it in the comics, but... I couldn't access all of the series). Optimus Prime of the Transformers died, and I moved on to other cartoons, like Gargoyles.

Of course, these things come full circle.

GI Joe came way before I got the internet. By the time I got the internet, I fell into the Harry Potter fandom, and for a good few years, I couldn't get out.

I've always liked GI-Joe, my first fiction loves and when I heard about the live movie coming out, I decided to google my favourite pairing, Flint and Lady Jaye. Were they still an item? Was Lady Jaye still snarky? In the comics she gave Flint a warm time, but then Flint was cocky, and his ego needed deflating anyways. Or did the comicverse break them up? From what I gathered, Covergirl was still around - and very much a member.

With this in mind, I toddled around the internet, pleased with the amount of stuff I remembered, glad that the magic of the series was still there, untouched by my adult cynicism. Real American heroes indeed.

I decided to read the files of the original Joes, still remembering my brothers and myself racing pell mell from school, dropping our school bags at the front door, sitting in front of the TV promptly at four.

In my readings, I mourned over Mainframe getting killed, and over the lost possibility of him and Zarana in my alternative cartoon verse. The Scarlett/Snake eyes relationship was shades of shock and LOL, in that he left her at the altar, his face got repaired, Scarlett reminds Snake eyes of his sister, there are Ninja Joes everywhere -and that they were still together. Shipwreck and Cover Girl were hooking up - in the cartoon he hit on her - and she gave him a cold shoulder.

Shipwreck ...and Cover Girl?

I can dig it. It could work.

Destro and Baroness had a child, I gather, but the child might have been kidnapped or mislaid. I smiled at reading that, because Destro and Baroness were always dramatic and tempestuous. If their path had run smooth, I'd have been disappointed.

Now older, I read the background to GI Joe, the voice actors, found out (to my surprise!) that I've watched ALL the Sunbow episodes, admired Larry Hama for putting up with so much for so long, and kick starting the mythos (for Hasbro) that made growing up in the 80s fun.

Tut tutted over the producer turning GI Joe into an international task force, since American military might doesn't sell so well overseas nowadays. You know, because the centuries of glory and honour of the armed services should be smeared by the last eight years (my dad served in my country's military. I have a great respect for the armed services. Shoot me).

Are you kidding me? GI Joe is very much an American institution, just like the stars and stripes, Old Glory, and the battle cry, "Yo Joe!" Only Americans can be so passionately earnest about God and country without it coming off as being ironic (Australians come a close second). Yes, the cartoon might have been a tad jingoistic, but hey, it was The Cold War. Besides, have y'all seen NATO operations in Afghanistan lately?

Annoyed, I shrugged that off, to find out about my favourite Joe pairing. I'd whinge about the approach and the casting to the live action movie later. Probably I'd weigh in on the whole Lady Jaye vs Scarlett debate on some message board and make my case for who was better. Later, after I see what Flint and Lady Jaye were up to.

Only to find out that Lady Jaye was dead.

Lady Jaye got killed.

So, I've spent the past week tracking down the DDP issue, as well as various back issues. It seems that DDP is losing the GI Joe license, and I was warned that the GI Joe comic books had a limited issue run, and I'd be lucky to get it, because this happened way back in '05. I ebay'd, and messaged and desperate, I went to my local Forbidden Planet to order the issue, only to find out that it was in store!

I bought the comic, and didn't read it until I came home. To be honest, the storyline didn't make sense, and for the world to fall at the Red Shadows' feet was laughable.

Although there were many things wrong with the storyline, the writer totally got the Lady Jaye/Flint pairing. In their last days together, Lady Jaye was angry, and totally blowing up at Flint even though he tried to placate her. In the last hours they had together, they have a real humdinger of an argument, and Flint drives away, leaving her to stew.

He's run off the road by Dela Eden (one of The Shadows), trapped in his car, Eden is sent to kill or capture him, whatever comes first, only to be foiled by Lady Jaye. lady Jaye drags Flint out of the car, and quickly tells him that no matter what happens, she loves him, and goes off to secure Eden, only to be caught off guard by her and gets killed (shard of glass to the heart).

I loved that part, the fact that Lady Jaye went after Flint, and told him that she loved him ("you big dummy"), and everything else was just noise.

In the epilogue (and normally, I hate the damned things, epilogues; most of the time they weaken the story), we get the Lady Jaye we know from the comics and the cartoons, the snarky take charge Lady Jaye. The one who joshes Flint, who can be at turns sharp and cool, shades of arrogant and prickly professional, but catches you off guard with astonishing warmth as well.

It's her funeral, and Lady Jaye is getting her final send off, the tones of the panels in the present are grey and sketchy, a contrast with the brightly coloured panels of Lady Jaye through the lens of Flint's memory; from their first meeting, his proposal, to marriage, to their reinstatement, and her death.

By the third to last panel, when we see Lady Jaye, arms open, face warm and wreathed with smiles, eyes bright telling him, "C'mere, Flint, you big lug. You know I love you, right?" I was already feeling the sting of tears. When Flint salutes her grave and says, "I love you too baby... I always will." I just broke.

That's the drawback to nostalgia, at times the ache overwhelms the sweetness of the moment.

With this in mind, I'm keeping an eye on the movie. If it touches me just a fraction of the cartoon and the comic books, I'll be content. The magic of the series is the characters, and how they are complicated and shades of grey.

I know it won't be all Flint/Lady Jaye and it shouldn't be. I'm hoping that it won't be all Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow, although to appease the GI Joe fan boys, it might be.

The comic and the cartoon series had a bit of everyone trying to do their best self - even if it was as base as getting paid for one's services, misguided as trying to rule the world or putting life on line for defense of honour and country.

I hear Larry Hama will be a consultant to the movie, but in his interviews he comes across as apathetic, or a bit bitter.

I harbour no great hopes for the movie, but I'm going to see it whenever it comes out. No matter how bad it will be. I'll be going to the theatre alone and I'll sit in the back, watching a piece of my childhood on screen, and remember magic. When the theatre goes black, and everyone leaves, and I'm alone, I'll stand up, punch my fist in the air and do the battle cry.

Yo, Joe!

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind? ~Percy Bysshe Shelley

"Spring has returned. The earth is like a child that knows poems. "
-- Rainer Maria Rilke

It's spring again, everybody knows its spring again... in knitting magazine land, anyway. It's the time to shuck off winter clothing in their world, to wash and fold bulky scarves and jumpers and put them to one side. In their world, the sun is already warm on our faces and skins, our bodies are toned and lean from shedding the winter weight, swathed in sinful silks, clad in cool cottons and linens.

In spring, we're like the models in the Rebecca magazines: frolicking in exotic lands, where the wind is as soft as a lover's touch, warm as a cherished friend's smile, and our hearts are as light as well... the sun.

We'll send postcards to our friends in the Arctic climes - so smugly drunk on our sheer existence, our messages will be absolutely inane.

"Wish you were here", we shall scrawl on the back of card.
Or, we'll click with our camera phones and send the picture of a beach with this text attached: "We chase the sun".

Don't mind me, I kvetch because I'm jealous.

I wish I lived in Rebecca's world; the models always seem to have such fun, and their necklines tell the tale (the second picture). They are open, inviting, not hidden by yarn, or censured by the cold. The models' necks are bare; enough to show off expanse of chest and flirt with the curve of breast, but modest enough to titillate.

Or probably, we could be like Interweave Knit models. Still happy, but because we're American, we'll be friendly with it. We'll invite you inside and show you our stuff close up and friendly, because we're like that.

We will not be Rowan models though, too fey, too delicate, too well bred. Summer might be the time to lounge in a crumbling garden, musing over the fact that the sun did set on the British Empire, but not to hang out in the kitchen beside the heater. They also don't seem friendly, and not the type to send drunken texts from Marrakesh while simultaneously chasing the sun, like we do, because we are

Right, because I can only extend analogies so far (I think this one broke), lets talk knitting magazines and their offerings.

At first glance, the Interweave Knit magazine seems to have a lot of the same ( cardigans - short to bracelet sleeve lengths). The only thing I'd really make right now would be the Auburn Camp Shirt, with its sweet details on the sleeves, the subtle patterning and the interesting collar (first photo). I must say, I do like the Aleita shell (look on the IK website), and the neckline of the printed silk cardigan.

In keen contrast, to IK , if I had time and money, I'd make everything from Rebecca's Spring/Summer magazine. It's funny how in the past couple of years, I've collected Rebecca magazines but never really
looked at their patterns until recently. And when I say 'until recently' I mean like, 'last month.'

Hail ravelry, for showing me the way of the Rebecca.

Like Phildar, Rebecca has interesting twists when it comes to stitching and necklines. Unlike Phildar, I think Rebecca tends to like its cables and lace more. I also like Rebecca's pullovers, and the twist on ribbing that they revisit ever so often.

The only drawback is, since I've discovered my mad mad love for Rebecca, I find that the magazine isn't really available in the UK anymore. *emo tear* To get the magazine from Germany, inclusive of postage, would cost me about €15,00 (£11) - around the same price as a Rowan magazine.

I told myself that if Rowan's Spring/Summer offering was good enough, I'd forgo buying the Rebecca. Money is at a premium right now, and the principle of opportunity costs is all too real.

Rowan number 43 won't be bought by me this year.

It's good though, because most of my knits have been Rowan (Salina, Loll) and I need to expand a bit. I've never done a Rebecca pattern before, I now think its time. I've never knitted from IK either (have lusted, though. Have lusted in my heart). Am also eying up the thermal ( So, I can see myself getting a few jumpers/pullovers for my wardrobe.

Just as well anyway, because I'm frightfully cold, but refusing to buy jumpers because I can make them myself. Also, I have mad stash to come to grips with.

So, have you seen any knits worth slotting into that ol' ravelry queue?

Saturday, 26 January 2008

ZOMG! I might have found a Bansky! :D

First, a confession: I love graffiti, the brash lines and its kicky verve. I like the fact that the best graffiti seems to be in the worst areas: the more broken buildings , shabby and rambling - the brighter the colours, the more insane the art. Of course, graffiti has its own sort of humour - it is exclusive to the tagger.

Of all the graffiti artists that I've been acquainted with, I love Bansky the best. I admire his attitude towards art; that it should for a minute, cause someone to pause and react, either in admiration or amusement. For Bansky, he makes me do both. Long before the Jolie-Pitts of this world hurled the value of his work into the stratosphere, I was a convert.

There is something of the craftsman in the detailed stenciling, but given a roguish edge by aerosol can. In addition, Bansky has a very democratic attitude towards art that appeals: it is done on walls, in public places, and of varying sizes for the average man to see, instead of going to the Louvre, or the National museum. In terms of scale, he's done mural sized stencils, and sly intimate pieces.

His work also reverberates on varying levels: at first, you admire the art, wait a beat, and then you get the message. Whether it be gay bobbies kissing on the beat, or painting open skies on a wall in the Middle East before it got knocked down, Bansky challenges one to think, and isn't precious about it.

I've seen a few pieces of his when walking around London, and always swore at myself for not having a camera. So imagine my surprise hustling from my Saturday job, only for this window to catch my eye. I'm like.... could it be a Bansky?! :D

The building is an old one, and its in the process of being abandoned. I was tempted to buy a window cutter and get cutting! But that might be vandalism, and with me trying to adopt and all, a criminal record wouldn't really help out matters.

What do you think? Has Bansky struck Nottingham? Is an imitator? From what I can gather, it looks like a store Santa Claus with a dash of Lenin, holding a machine gun.

So, that made my week! I'm still knitting the sock, on and off, but the yarn is terrible. I shan't be doing the other one. I'm still waiting on Rowan's new 4ply before I decide on my colour for thermal.

On the knitting front, it seems the editor for Vogue knitting has been sacked. I know that people tend not to like Vogue knitting (the pejorative term - Vague), but I didn't mind it. Just like its name sake in the shops, the knit fashions were high concept, and very much haute couture.

It was up to the knitter to take whatever bits she liked from the designs and make it to suit herself, especially since most knitters of Vogue are supposedly advanced anyway. I actually liked knit 1 as well, but she's been kicked from that too. :*('

I hope that Vogue doesn't shape up to be Interweave Knits part 2. I like each magazine for different reasons. *sigh* Never mind me.

So, what have you been up to? :D

Monday, 21 January 2008

Still raining

Ugh, will the rain ever stop?

Oh well, there's always yarn to make everything okay. *squeezes yarn fondly*

Finally, I got around to ordering some posh yarn, as a treat to myself for acing an interview. This is a lovely warm orange with lovely variations. It's 80 per cent merino, 20 percent cashmere and entirely too good to waste on a boring sock pattern. If I get a placement after my training, I'm going to order some Wollmeise yarn.

Although I'm not a fan of socks knitting (but love wearing a hand knitted sock, oh Jazz), this yarn is special enough for the right sock pattern. have been looking at Ravelry, and having fun at the socks that I'm seeing. Cookie A's sock patterns seem difficult, but I'm willing to try 'em. Decisions, decisions...

So, I think these are the colours for my mittens. I've never really done a pair of proper mittens before. Ravelry seems to have a lot of patterns, so again, I browse.

The multicoloured yarn is the regia sock yarn. Wool and bamboo should be warm enough, no? We will see.

The purple is rowan 4ply soft, shade 390. It looks rather like eggplant. It is a nice, dark purple. I'm thinking that this might be my thermal. The top would be light enough to wear in spring/summer, have a flattering neckline (so you won't overheat), and yet open to layering. I have a fair bit of purple in my wardrobe though - but what is one more? The top is nice enough to even risk wearing to work.

I'll wait on rowan's new 4ply line. There's a magenta that's calling my name, but I think this purple is quite sophisticated. Either way, I can see myself going with 100 percent wool. There won't be any silk with this baby, so I wander if I need to do a size up. I'm a 35 inch bust, and originally, I was going to do the size down, but I won't be using any wool/silk blend, so I might as well do a 36 inch bust. What do you guys think?

I'm still kniting the roza socks. The pattern is really simple. Simple to the point of boredom. All is not lost, I've learnt a new stitch (brioche), and I can actually see myself using it in place of plain ribbing, because it has an interesting texture. You'd need more yarn though, what with the yarn overs and all. Also, this is the second pair of socks I've made top down. The next time, I'm going toe-up, baby.

So, what are you guys up to?

Friday, 18 January 2008

Ugh, rain rain, go to Spain...

and never come back here again.

Ugh, it's been raining for the past two weeks and I feel positively waterlogged. *sigh* I need to teach English in Barcelona.

Anyway, I'm being good. I'm spending all this month doing swatches. That green blob to the right- is my swatch for thermal, done with Bergere de France's ideal (40 wool/30 acrylic/30 percent polyamid). I like the yarn on first knit - non snagging, fairly soft to knit with and non itchy.

The only drawback is that there seems to be a 'halo' around the stitches. I'm not doing all that work to have stitches with 'halo' (click on picture to make it bigger). I've been told that Rowan yarns are coming out with a nice new '4ply/fingering yarn' within the next two weeks, and that I should *wait*. The colours are supposed to be brighter, which is good, because the original muddy colours in the 4ply yarn doesn't really suit me at all.

The swatch in the round isn't so difficult, and if you're not careful, you might find yourself doing two purl bands instead of one. It's an effective stitch - and an easy one.

That sock on dpns (so *odd* to be working with dpns after discovering the brilliance of knit picks flexible cords for doing stuff in the round) is Roza's socks by Grumperina. I'm doing this in a random yarn of wool/ramie blend (don't know the name, sorry), on 2.5mm needles instead of 2.0mm. The pattern is easy, even straight forward. It looks rather classy, a band in 3x3 rib, then a garter stitch band, and the rest done in brioche stitch. This design deserves a better yarn than the one I'm knitting with, but needs must.

I'm doing these socks on my off time. If I'm watching TV, I have the socks in hand. If I'm on the bus (and my fingers aren't freezing), its the sock and nothing but. In supermarket lines, meetings, and me waiting outside for half an hour (for an interview), I am knitting this sock. I must admit, I'm not a sock knitter per se, but I do like the architecture of socks.

That sock yarn (regia bamboo) and that purple ball of yarn (Lane Borgosesia- I should have bought 10 balls) are going to be swatched together. I'm thinking of using the sock yarn as in the style of fair isle. I got this idea based on this person's mittens . The sock yarn I have is a bamboo/wool/polyamide mix. It is teamed with a 4ply yarn - 100 wool. On 2mm needles. Will that be warm enough? Or should I just do 100 percent wool?

Monday, 14 January 2008

Isn't the knit jacket cute?

I was cruising on ONTD today and stumbled across a few pictures of Jennifer Aniston, filming a movie that I shan't be seeing. But anyway, isn't this jacket too cute? Short sleeved, cropped, with a ribbed collar (do wish the scarf was less intrusive though).

I guess I better be taking that design class after all. I can see myself in this jacket, enough warmth for shoulders, back and chest on a cool spring day, yet light and versatile to wear in the summer over a tank top.

It would be classic enough to dress up, something over a sleeveless dress for church, or funking it up big stylie in the ensemble that Ms Aniston is rocking here. Why, I even like the putty colour. What kind of yarn? I think it looks aran weight, but it would have to be an acrylic/wool mix, or an acrylic, silk and cotton mix. What do you guys think? It's also a neat seasonal jacket, but I don't know about the belt. :/'

I also need to use up all my knitting yarn and enjoy my knitting time. I need to knit all that I can (and all my stash) in eight months.

This is because well... my partner and I have put our names forward for being potential adopters. ¬_¬

From what I've gathered, it's a bloody intrusive business, and a fair bit of palaver, and it takes up to twenty months (WTF?) from initial contact to actual child placement. Anecdotal evidence seems to be that adoption is fraught with hidden dangers within the UK. It's all a lottery, and some councils are better than others. It helps that we are a mixed race couple, but we will see. We have to get past the adoption panel first.

Haven't really been knitting anything (again, WTF?), but am planning to soon. I'm just doing swatches to design with. Zzzzz.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Man, it must be mad being a magazine editor

From what I gather, magazine editrixes prepare winter issues in Spring and Spring issues in Winter. So, while we're in the midst of a cold January, shivering at the thought of a frigid February, the magazine pictures are of spring, with tank tops showing off cleavage and clavicle. The models are slim, all the better to show off the spring form, when our bodies are sleek and the winter weight slugged off. The light is mellow gold, and not the watery, bleary gloam that passes for winter.

Phildar has embraced the sun in its catalogues. Rowan will do so in February. So, this is jazzypom drooling over the patterns, and clenching her fists in frustration because she has to dress in layers. *le sigh*

So, how about the Phildar tops, then? As usual, I love their open - even exaggerated- neck lines. The simple shapes aren't too exacting, but relatively flattering and forgiving. The colours give the shapes a zip, and add life to the spring wardrobe. I love the green pullover with the exaggerated 'V' neckline. It's a nice summer sweater, warm enough for cool nights, but comfortable enough for hot days.

I like the linen coloured pullover, with its wide neckline and a pattern adding interest. I'm unsure about the belt at the bottom of the garment - I guess it prevents it from rolling up? Or, once you adjust the belt, you can get a soft volume to the bottom of the blouse?

Or the pink top (space dyed yarn) with open neckline and shirred three quarter sleeves? Drool. That's just divine. The pink jumper with the breton striped shirt underneath is cute. Very cute. I like the boldness of the hot pink juxtaposed against the stern navy and blue striped dress. Very smart, not too casual, not too try hard.

Ahhh to be a French woman - to paraphrase Oscar Wilde - they act as if they are beautiful, it is the secret of their charm.

Overall though, the patterns seem simple enough, making me want to take out Barbara Walker and give her a try. Or sign up for a day class in designing by Debbie Abrahams.

Yes, my fellow bloggers. I'm thinking about signing up for a design class. It is called, 'If you can't see it, design it.'

According to my knitting Svengali, Helen, I'm ready for a class, she says. I have the books of design how to and all this yarn in my stash, waiting to make patterns from it, but I can't leave well enough alone. She was listening to me talking about simple knitting designs with *pow* and how I don't see enough to make me want to cast on the sticks.

Also, I'd like to knit designs where the designer wants to make a good simple garment, without using up a lot of yarn (I'm looking at YOU, Debbie Bliss). Or designs where the stitch is the effect, not many colours (hello, Louisa Harding). I like Kim Hargreaves, but I need to knit other designers, try new things.

In other news, I've ripped back my neckline off the leafy Phildar jumper. I found the instructions online on the Phildar website, which make sense. Also, honestly, the neckline's been bugging me all this time.

I wore the jumper to my knit group, and everyone's eyes went towards my neckline. Especially Pat's. Pat is the neatest knitter I know, from cast on to finish. She takes her time at every step and she lives in the moment of knitting. Not that I'll ever be that perfect, but I know I can do better with the neckline, so I've reknitted it, and will get up fairly early to catch the light, so I can sew the neckline in, properly. I'm getting to the point where, I want it to be that if I make any mistakes in the work, no-one should know but me.

Anything else? I finished my long arm warmers from the Rebecca pattern. When the sun deems it fit to come out, I'll boast. I also have the DB cashmere gloves to sew up. I'll boast about those too.

Am thinking about my next garment while knitting various accessories.

Currently, I'm trying to scare up six balls of Jaeger aran in shade 546 (hello!), to knit the Central Park Hoodie. The yarn is so meant for that hoodie, I swear it. Or should I just join the cool kids on Ravelry and knit Thermal? It is a nice jumper, and I've been having my eye on it for a long while. The thing is, I hear the original yarn pills, and I'm shifting from the notion of knitting with 100 percent yarn, to knitting with mixed microfibre (read: acrylic) blends. Like say, wool and acrylic. I haven't really seen much in terms of fingering weight wool and microfibre. I hear that Rowan is coming out with some new colours for their 4ply wool, so I might hold off and just go with that. It's definitely a jumper that would get loads of use in my neck of the woods though.

Oh well.

Here's hoping that the sun comes out this weekend, so I can take some pictures of what I've done so far.

It honestly hasn't been much, because I spend all my time reading about the US candidates for President on my google alerts.

**political ruminations. Don't read if you are bored with the ongoing US race for Presidential nominees***

I do like John Edwards' stance on a lot of stuff, and think he should jostle for being a VP candidate to whomever the wins the Democratic election. As much as it would be grand for Obama (if he tones down the rhetoric a tad), I think the US likes its political dynasties. The Roosevelts, The Kennedys, and now Bush, Clinton, Bush and depending on if Hillary can mist her eyes some more (and get people to hear her now that she's found her 'voice') you guys in the US might get a Clinton third term.

As much as I think Ms Clinton is capable and a formidable woman who can boast of many achievements, when I hear her name, I just think of the twilight of the Clinton years. Bill Clinton's spotty international record, tinged with a bit of sleeze with the supposed impeachment and all. I know, I know that politician's personal lives aren't - nay - shouldn't be a concern, but as seen by the whole impeachment business, and how it galvanised the Republicans and the rise of Bush, underscoring the polarization in American politics. Clinton's personal life was a catalyst to that one, with the Republicans screaming about morality and such.

The Clintons were good, but they belong in the hallmarks of history, or on the sidelines doing good deeds. For all of Hillary's good intentions, she's still a representative of a particular time in US history (especially with the whole 'you get two Presidents for the price of one' speech that Bill Clinton used to say), where people might look back on in fondness, but that doesn't mean that you should go back again. The world has changed, China, India and Russia are stronger for starters - and WTF NAFTA? -and I'm worried that Ms Clinton's thinking hasn't.

Now, I'm not ragging on Ms Clinton because she's a woman. That's ridiculous. I can't rag on her, because she's done well for herself. She's a capable female, who's been the force behind her husband, but like Chris Rock said, "I have nothing against a woman President, but vote for her?"

In terms of the Republicans, Mitt Roomy leaves me cold, and so does Huckabee. I tend to distrust people who are all hipped on religion dictating politics. For all their Bible reading, did they forget the fact that Jesus said, render unto Caesar that is Caesar's? Practice your own religion and leave others to their own as long as their practices are within the boundaries of the law.

For all of Tony Blair's faults, even though he was heavily religious and followed the Catholic teaching, he forced the Catholic adoption agencies to realise that they couldn't discriminate against gay people, and he reviewed the laws on abortion (but didn't try to abolish it). I do like John McCain, but I think I like his personality more than his policies. Gulliani needs to stop with the 9/11. We get it. You were mayor, of New York at the time. You weathered the storm. Never mind the (alleged) danger that you put firefighters in with shoddy equipment and such. Grrr.

Oh well, I do need to stop reading politics and go knit. Honestly.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Have been busy, et tu?

Hey you guys, welcome to my 2008. In adhering to the new rules I set myself a few posts back, I'm doing something I'll wear, in a colour that's suitable for me, and a little risky. See the pink arm warmers I'm doing. They are from Rebecca no. 30. The original yarn was cashmere, but alas, my finances are more plebeian, so I'm using Louisa Harding's cashmerino dk, her answer to Debbie Bliss' Cashmerino dk. I think the Debbie Bliss' version feels a bit more plush, and is less splitty, but Harding's yarn holds up much better, so I have to 'suck up' how it feels. I just hope that it keeps my hands warm.

The first picture shows me doing the yarns in the round on circular needles. Up to very recently -and by 'very recently' I mean last night- I was a dpn woman. I loved the symmetry of working with dpns, after the initial join and first row I was off into the spiral, not caring until the pattern said 'stop' or the yarn ran out.


But, I've been really curious about knitting small diameter'd things like socks in the round, ever since I saw Nell (a valued knitter at our knatter) doing so. She spoke about the virtues of knitting small things in the round on circular needles, provided that the cord was long and flexible enough. I thought, how Archimedian with a dash of Ariel from The Tempest, give me cable needles long enough, so as I can gird the earth, and make cool socks.

I saw Nell over the holidays and she showed me what to do, but I kept getting my stitches twisted. Last night, when this yarn refused to stay on my bamboo dpns (all my dpns are bamboo, have not felt the need to move to metal dpns as yet, no), I got out my knit picks options with a 60cm cable. So snug, so tight, so right.

Nell recommends 90-120cms - but I don't have those- and I'm knitting small circles in the round. I can see myself doing sleeves like this - but I'd need a longer cable.

That Prima magazine that you see on the front, I bought it the other day because I downloaded a Debbie Bliss pattern (the Catriona vest) from their website, . Thought I'd show some support, even though women's magazines aren't my thing. Yes, I know I need to lose weight, no, I don't need to update my wardrobe, thanks- and there's an unattractive version of Naomi Watts (no, it's not her) type model on the cover.

To be fair though, the magazine is helpful, it has articles on decluttering one's home, how to save on bills, et al. It's like a stylish and more expensive version of Woman's own - with its version of the knitting patterns to boot, and random true to life stories. Yes, there is a fashion segment, but they aren't as aggressive in presenting the fashion choices like In Style or Vogue, where you have to buy this now, or else you commit the cardinal sin of being desperately unfashionable.

In the middle are my Debbie Bliss garter stitch mittens that I need to sit down and organise. You knit these trapezium looking things, and they are supposed to spiral into a design at a 45 degree angle. In my mind, it makes sense. The angle of construction gives the garter stitch structure (because it can sag, left to its own devices), but in real life... I need to ask the hubster to read it aloud to me.

Knitting instructions make jazzy's head hurt.

What to say about the Debbie Bliss cashmere yarn? I got two hanks of it at the John Lewis knitting sale (this is where they get vexed and have a HUGE clearance sale on the yarns that haven't been selling briskly enough) and DB cashmere was one of 'em. I bought two, because the pattern called for two. I refused to buy three hanks because knowing my luck, I'd only need like, a meter to finish the actual pattern itself. So, I said to myself, if push comes to shove, I have the DB rialto aran in a similar colour to finish it off.

So said, so done. It's annoying to have the yarn finish before the end of a project, and for such expensive yarn, you'd think Debbie Bliss would have her pattern support organised. *sighs*

Anyway, I'm enjoying the new process of knitting in the round on circulars. While I'm doing this, I'm wondering what garment I should take on with the yarn I have.

I am also following the race to the white house in the United States and am hoping that Barack Obama might place, if not win. As a visible minority in Europe, at times I find the casual racism here a bit shocking (remember, I was raised outside of the EU). England is not bad, I think due to a fair bit of interracial marriages, and children of all faiths and colours going to the same schools, be it grammar or comprehensive. But I've been teaching English to a fair bit of foreigners (especially some Italians) and I have to pause when I hear some assumptions being made. Europeans aren't the only ones to have this attitude towards minorities, I find Asians (as in, people from the subcontinent, like Pakistan and India) just as bad at times. If a visible minority were to place at the highest pinnacle of the world's 'leader of the free world', it might make people pause a bit, and search their prejudices.

Right, no more seriousness in my blog. Hopefully, I will have an FO to show soon, and decide on which of the four garments I shall knit myself this year.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Well. I'm done

*sighs* I'm done.

Knitting garments for me is like being in a relationship. It's dizzying highs, and terrifying lows, and rocky roads in between. At the end of a relationship, one tends to reflect, and regret. If I knew then, what I know now.

The pattern: Phildar Autumn '06
Time scale: took two weeks to knit back, front, two sleeves and neckline. Took two weeks to sew up, because I have to think about things. I tend to take my time in sewing up.

Comments: To paraphrase a comment someone said about Kim Hargreaves' : I love the designs, but I hate the patterns. I feel the same about Phildar. The directions for the neck were ridiculous. You are directed to knit the neckline separately, then knit several rows of stocking stitch in contrasting colour. After this, you back stitch the stitches, then release the stocking stitches.

I did this, only for the bloody stitches to still be live and unraveling! So, I had to whipstitch the stitches around the neckline. If I had to this again, I'd just whipstitch the live stitches to the actual garment itself and ignore the knitting of several rows of st st. I can understand why they wanted the ribbing to be knit separately. If you picked up the stitches, it might be too much, or too little.

My neckline is okay, I wish I had started it in the back, instead of the front. My neckline got better as it went on. It looks untidy, not not enough for me to rip it back.

Ch-ch-changes: I used Lana Grossa merino superwash big wool. It is a tad thinner than Phildar Quietude, I stayed with the 4mm needles because I liked the fabric - nice and dense. Due to my slick needles, my tension square was 22x27 instead of 19x27, I knitted one size bigger than me, and I got my perfect size. Did short row shaping at the shoulders. At the bottom ribbing, did 5cm ribbing instead of 1.5cm. The length helps, but I wear long tank tops underneath this bad boy, to keep my modesty and cover my belleh button.

I think I'd try the Quietude, or any merino/acrylic yarn blend. Merino is lovely, but it pills too easily. So far, this wool has held itself up, and I've been knitting with dry hands, and getting things snagged on it, and ripping and reripping... whew. I do have to give this yarn props. It's really stood its ground. Also, I'd do it in the round.

Overall: I like this jumper. Even the hubster commented on the shape and the nice open neckline. I have nine balls of Jaeger merino aran, and I think I'd probably have enough to do this jumper again.

What's next on the needles? I have 15 balls of debbie bliss Rialto. I rather like the cabled vest
that I have been seeing around ravelry lately. I can wear that over a shirt in winter, and get away with wearing it alone in summer.

So, done! Thanks for joining! I'll post some other pictures when I feel better about it.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Happy New Year!

Hello all, so sorry I haven't been blogging for a while. I totally forgot that Christmas was around the corner, and in a weak moment, I said 'yes' to making Caribbean fruit cake for hubster. Please note that Caribbean fruit cake or black cake is not like English fruit cake, nor German stollen. It's a bit more complicated than that, and also, we don't have hard fruits on top of the cake, or coloured bits and lumps in the cake. Most people tend to puree the fruits and alcohol before adding it to the mixture. It's tastier that way, and you don't have to spent time picking lumps of fruit from one's slices.

First, you have to get dried fruit (currants, raisins, orange peel, etc), and put in a jar, fill to the brim with a mixture of sherry, port, and some 'coloured rum', like Morgan's from Barbados or Appleton from Jamaica and soak this mixture for a year. This prolonged soaking softens the fruit, and plumps them up with flavour. It also gives the fruit cake its distinct moist texture.

Then, on the day of baking, you have to make your own wax paper to line the cake tins by getting brown paper (the kind used to wrap packages), and spread butter or margarine on said brown paper until it gets soft and translucent with the butter grease. Then mix basic ingredients for pound cake, and blend fruit mixture till chunky and add to the batter. Add browning (which is just carmelised sugar burnt on the stove), bake for an hour, cool, and put in a cool (not cold!) place at least for five days before eating. You add a mixture (like a capful) of one part rum to two parts wine once a month if you wish to keep some beyond the Christmas.


It's a lot of work to get Caribbean fruit cake done, and I don't really eat it to boot. But my Mum makes good fruit cake, and I mugged her recipe. The New York Times has a great article on Caribbean fruit cake, and a cool slide show to boot.

Hope your Christmas was lovely and bright. I myself didn't have much in terms of gifts, but a lot of gifts tend to be ill thought out and seems destined for landfill anyway, so the hubby and I decided to have a hiatus for the Yule.

So, what are your new year's resolutions? I'm following Penelope Trunk's advice and am just making one. According to the studies she quotes, if you just focus on one, you tend to make little adjustments to your life that benefits it as a whole.

So mine is :I'm going to stop biting my nails.

It means that I have to knit more. Yayyyy.

I'm almost finished with the leafy Phildar jumper. But that is for another post. I have to backstitch the neckline in place, only to find that I hate backstitch.

More anon.