Monday, 29 August 2011

No more camping, sob

We took Friday off to make a long weekend out of the Bank Holiday weekend, and went camping up in the Cotswolds near Chipping Norton.  Gorgeous part of the world, I could definitely see myself living there if I win the lottery.  The so-called summer continues to be erratic, and we had pouring rain on Friday, but the rest of the weekend wasn't bad although ever-changing.  I took four knitting projects and made progress on all of them:
  • Summer Flies shawl:  I'm now on the final stretch, just starting the final ruffled edge.
  • Drop Stitch shawl:  I decided my crescent was wide enough, and I've started decreasing now.
  • Cabled Yoke sweater:  having solved the cable conundrum prior to leaving home, I managed about another three inches on this so storming along now.
  • Cookie A Sunshine sock:  turned the heel on the second sock, and am just decreasing the gussets.
Sadly, that was probably our last ever family camping holiday.  DH has never been keen, and has been growing steadily less keen.  DS, who is a teenager, has previously announced that he hates camping, and was visibly miserable all weekend.  So I've accepted defeat, and am sadly going to sell the trailer tent.  I really love getting away in it, but there's not much point if the rest of the family isn't cooperating.  I'm not much of a driver and don't have a car, so going away in it myself wouldn't be practical.

This week I managed to finish the machine knitted doll, giving her a garter stitch red bow as a final touch.

I also got as far as loading the Kaffe Fassett 'Stars over England' quilt, but haven't started quilting it yet.  I'm going to meander on it as I need a break from pantos and the busy design means that the quilting won't show very much.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

How not to look after yourself

I haven't exactly been treating my body as a temple this week.  I've had a succession of late nights leaving me tired each day; then went out for drinks Wednesday night with an old friend and missed supper in favour of alcohol and french pastries; then got invited out for an impromptu drink after work Thursday with my boss and three other managers (I'm not a manager) which turned into a heavy drinking session (and no supper) resulting in me falling into bed just before midnight with the room spinning a fair bit. Normally I really don't drink much, honest.

ALERT - do not read the next para if you are squeamish.

So Friday night feeling groggy and ancient, I was trying to finish my log cabin quilt, feeling guilty about how little I had done this week.  To make a long story short, I managed to sew right through the tip of my ring finger with the sewing machine.  This is a Pfaff Grand Hobby Quilter which is a semi-industrial home machine, and I knew it was powerful but it's rather impressive to see an entry AND exit wound on opposite sides of your finger. It all happened pretty quickly and didn't even hurt much, but the needle shattered and I could only find two out of the three pieces of it.  On the basis that there might still be a quarter-inch of metal needle in my finger, off we went to the A&E for an x-ray.  The most painful part of the night was prizing off my wedding ring with the aid of some lubricant, so that they wouldn't cut it off.  X-rays showed no needle tip (wonder where that went then, but likely DS or DH will find it soon with their feet) so they just sent me home again and said it should heal up in a week.  Luckily the needle went through at the side of the nail, rather than piercing the nail, and the bone is intact.  The hospital was predicting lots of swelling but so far it seems fine.  I guess if you have to pierce your fingertip with something, then a tapered ultra-sharp metal needle is going to do the least damage.

Ok, no more blood and gore stories.  So I finished the Log Cabin quilt this morning and it went straight in the washing machine to shrink up the cotton wadding a bit.  I did a better job on the Baptist Fan this time so practice does make you better at things, but there are still some dodgy fan blades here and there.  I was brave and used a plain calico backing (plain backings don't hide mistakes as well) because I thought it fit better with the American Civil War reproduction fabrics of the design.

Last Sunday I had 'booked' a day off from the family and planned to have a lovely restful sewing day, like the kind I read about on other people's blogs.  I was working on project number five of the UFO challenge, the Scrappy Knapsack.  Unfortunately, despite expressing verbal support, the rest of the family didn't seem to grasp the concept of me having a day off.  M-i-L phoned to see if DS was taking them up on their invitation (which I didn't know about) to go spend a week with them, so I had to wake up DS, negotiate a length of stay with him, and phone back and negotiate with her on logistics.  DS couldn't get the dishwasher to turn on, and had to be reminded several times to feed the cats. DH was with the programme until about mid-afternoon when he started to feel abandoned which made him grumpy, and all in all it began to seem that life could not go on for anyone unless I stopped what I was doing and gave them some attention.  Obviously next time I want a day off, I should pack DH and DS off to visit with M-i-L.  For breakfast and stay for supper.  And possibly stay overnight as well.  Anyway, I got the body of the knapsack done with the outside pockets, and have started to work on the lining.  This is a picture before I sewed the last seams to join the back to the body.

About the only other thing I've done this week is some commuter knitting (Summer Flies Shawl, now back on track) and a bit of evening knitting earlier in the week before I started turning into a barfly.  I sorted out the Berroco Eyelet Jumper and ran a lifeline through it.  This is the first time I've ever used a lifeline and unfortunately didn't think about what I was doing and ran the lifeline through all the stitch markers as well (remember I said I was tired).  As they aren't the kind that open and close, this made subsequent rows somewhat difficult so I had to take the lifeline out and run it through again, skipping over the markers this time.  Machine knitted doll is still bald and the cables on the Cable Yoke jumper are still unfixed.  I haven't tried knitting with my newly-pierced finger yet, hopefully it isn't going to be a problem.  Shame I'm not a Goth, or now that my finger is pierced I could have put a silver stud through it to show how hard I am   :)

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Knitting karma has left the building

It hasn't been a great week for knitting.  After mucking up the stitch count on my Summer Flies shawl last weekend, and spending about an hour counting and re-counting stitches (and coming up with a different answer every time) I eventually identified the errant yarnover.  The next row had some M1s scattered along it, which I managed to get in the wrong place.  I sorted that out, and knitted the next row with relief (169 stitches) only to realise that it should have been a purl row.  Sigh...

The Berroco Eyelet Jumper was going really well, I thought, until I couldn't get a row to go right.  Somehow I have apparently managed to jump to a random point in the chart and knit about an inch of absolute rubbish.  So now I am trying to unravel about an inch and a half of lace knitting, with no lifeline, without losing my markers.

And the Drops Sleeveless Cable Yoked cardigan has also rebelled, my cables seem to have snaked off piste and I'm not sure what's going on there but it doesn't match the chart.  I don't think I need to pull back too much, maybe about a half inch.

But I have been getting on fairly well with my Machine Knit Doll,  who is now fully limbed and dressed.  I'm working on her hair, crocheting snakes of hair in a similar style to a doll in the latest issue of Simply Knitting magazine.  At the moment she is entirely bald on the back of her head, so lots more snakes to crochet until she looks decent.

I gave my Vintage Spiderweb feedsack quilt a gentle soak in the bathtub.  I didn't think it was that dirty, but the water turned an interesting shade of brown so I guess it had picked up some grime since the 1940s.  The overcast-but-warm-and-breezy weather was ideal for drying it flat on a sheet on the lawn.  The cotton wadding has now shrunk up a bit, lifting the quilting up into relief.  It looks a bit too bumpy now, I think I will gently steam it a bit to relax the wrinkles and flatten it a bit, but it already has a vintage look like it is an antique and not just quilted a few weeks ago.  I've done several passes on the Log Cabin quilt currently in the frame, I might be halfway now on it.

And I finished Block 16 of the Grandmother's Last Quilt 25 block applique quilt, which was Project Number Five in the UFO challenge we are doing in my quilting group.  Only 9 blocks left, which at my present rate of progress is probably another two years...

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Summer: don't blink or you'll miss it

Our erratic British weather abruptly decided to be summer earlier this week, and we had highs of 30 degrees or more, before it once again collapsed into torrential rain.  Today we had both: nice sun earlier in the day, then sudden rain this evening.  It makes it very hard to decide what to wear to work in the morning, and my knapsack weighs a tonne as I am burdened down with sunhat, umbrella, shawl for warmth, water bottle for hot train carriages etc. to be prepared for all eventualities.

Commuter knitting this week has been a new start: the Summer Flies shawl , a free Ravelry download.  I couldn't resist starting something with my Patons Linen Touch cotton/linen DK yarn, and I love love love knitting with this yarn.  It feels so cool to the touch in this intermittent hot weather, the stitches look crisp even with my loose knitting gauge, and it drapes really well while still feeling substantial.  I've made it to Row 60 and the rows are starting to feel a bit long now (159 stitches so far).

TV knitting this week has been the continued assembly of my Machine Knitted Doll.  I haven't sewn the skirt on yet but I've draped it on for the photo so you can see the effect.  I'm not very convinced by the hair or the facial features in the pattern, but coincidentally Simply Knitting magazine arrived this week with a supplement which has a really cute knitted doll in it.  So I might copy her face and hair for this doll.  It's fun to make a toy, I have no use for them and usually end up giving them to the local Shooting Star hospice charity shop, but I do like making them.

After the carpet cleaning last weekend, we brought the frame back indoors and I reassembled the poles and re-levelled the table.  I got a new quilt loaded on, this is a Log Cabin made in American Civil War reproduction fabrics from a kit I bought at the Stitching Post in Sisters, Oregon a few years back.  I'm going to quilt the same Baptist Fan quilting pattern on it.  However, after setting up the panto and getting all set, I stitched about two feet (everything working fine) along the quilt, then suddenly without any reason the top thread started looping on the underneath.  I didn't realise this for about another two feet, so now I am having to painstakingly un-pick the bad part which is really annoying.  Don't know what happened, I'm beginning to wonder if I have a faulty bobbin case.

The sock yarn swap has now taken place, and I swapped my two I-Knit Sock Club yarns for these two great skeins:  a lovely Fyberspates fingering variegated and a Zauberball.  So I'm looking forward to making something with those, and they are much more my colours.  Hopefully the next Sock Club yarn will be a colour I like more.  I think the Fyberspates might make a really nice cowl or simple shawl.

We went to the Victoria & Albert Museum today for our monthly visit.  We happened to go past where the Textile Galleries used to be (you know the ones with all the pull-out study boards featuring different kinds of needlework).  I was surprised to find they were closed off and there was a big sign reading: "Behind these hoardings we are in the process of transferring the textiles collection to the V&A's new Clothworkers' Centre for Textiles and Fashion Study and Conservation, a new international centre dedicated to the study, conservation and enjoyment of textiles and fashion in Kensington Olympia, opening 2013." 

I hadn't heard about that before, and it sounds pretty cool although not as easy to get to.  Also, I thought I had read that they were knocking down the Kensington Olympia complex to build a new luxury housing development.  I wonder if they will have room to display more of their collection, the bulk of which has always been out of sight in storage.

While we were up in London we happened to walk through Leicester Square and came across 'M&M World', located in the old Swiss Centre.  Apparently it just opened in July, so the staff haven't yet become jaded and suicidal.  They were all really friendly and bopping around to the over-loud soundtrack, including one dressed as a giant M&M, and everything looked shiny and new.  It was all a bit mad, four floors of technicolour M&M themed clothing, toys and decorative items, with lots of London-themed M&M goods like M&M characters riding doubledecker buses or dressed as Beefeaters.  There are life-size statues of M&M characters costumed as armoured knights, or doing the Beatles Walk along a mini-Abbey Road.  We wandered around dazed by the soundtrack and amazed that anyone thinks the world needs four floors of M&Morabilia.  Then we discovered the colour-separated M&M pic-n-mix, tall vats of every colour of the rainbow, or colour mixes. They looked like giant fabric bolts.  We were tempted by a mix of all blue colours which weren't cheap but were incredibly tasty, much fresher than the kind normally sold in packets at corner shops.  Worth dropping in if you have kids.

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