Tuesday, 16 June 2009


We are in the middle of May Week revelry here in old Cambridge town, entailing trips to Grantchester, champagne picnics, and generally living the stereotype. It has mostly been blisteringly hot during the days, but it can be hard to remember this when the sun is on the other side of the world in the early hours of the morning at a May Ball. This being my fifth year in Cambridge, I have been to a fair few May Balls in my time, so I can say with some authority that, for girls at least, Being Cold is high on the list of Ball spoilers (or busters, if you will), second only to Sore Feet. Many carefully composed confections of dress and shoes can be seen from around 3am hobbling about barefoot and swathed in huge men's dinner jackets. I have found that the best way to get around this is to check in a monster bag at the beginning of the night containing the Ball Survival Kit of flat shoes, plasters, Something Warm, and other sundries. 

Hmmm. Something Warm. Despite all this accrued wisdom, it was with a sense of mild panic that I realised I didn't have anything that fit this description and went with a black dress I am planning to wear. No shrug, no wrap, no cardigan. Nothing. What to do? Surely I couldn't buy something: since going knitting-bananas I have developed rather a violent and snobbish aversion to commercially-produced knitwear. There was nothing for it. I was going to have to make myself something. 

The only problem with this moment of epiphany was that I had it on Sunday. The ball in question is on Wednesday. I did not initially see this as a problem, however, but more as an exciting challenge. It was in this - mildly delirious - mood that I set off for John Lewis. I had a pattern in mind (the Two-Tone Ribbed Shrug from Fitted Knits by Stefanie Japel); I had two full days of knitting time (plenty!); all I needed was some delightful black yarn. 

I got this...
It wasn't until I got home that I realised the awful truth. Not only was there no way I could knit this thing in time, but even if I did succeed in this endeavour the resulting shrug would make me look like not so much a mysterious, gossamer-clad creature of the night, as a gorilla.

I felt like an ass.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Seeing red

Remember that red Cascade 220 wool I got in London a while ago? It has been slowly morphing into the Lush and Lacy cardigan by the Sweaterbabe, which I have wanted to knit for ages. I knew I would have to make some substantial changes to the pattern, namely:
- The smallest size is too big for me
- I wanted to use a different lace pattern
- I decided to knit the body in one piece
To take advantage of this seamlessness, I wanted to put something where the seam would have been, and settled on a little bit of faggoting. 

I must admit, I felt a little bit smug as I steamed up the body, merrily faggoting away, up to just before the peplum ruffle at the back. I glanced at the instructions for the fronts to see if I had to work any pocket magic at this point... and saw that I had missed the vital instruction to decrease every few rows. Sigh. Rip, rip, rip, re-knit, re-knit, re-knit...

Hooray! Peplum ruffle! Finally I can get down to some serious honeybees. But wait... does this ruffle look a little off-centre? Let me just check... Oh. 13 stitches on one side of the ruffle, 15 stitches on the other. 

At this point I saw red. Yes, this latest error might not actually take all that long to fix, but I could not escape the fact that this thing was trying to get me, mocking my hubristic idea that  I could navigate my way through all of these at once...

... with only this paltry excuse for a compass.

I'm sick of red. I'm putting red down for the moment. I'm going to knit... the Something Red cardigan by Wendy Bernard. In yellow!

Friday, 12 June 2009

Here comes the summer

The dismembered limbs of Hey, Teach! are drying, waiting to be pieced together. This is my first time setting in sleeves, and I'm a little nervous. The thought of having a nifty, hand-knitted item in which to shimmy about in the sunshine is enough to make up for a little sleeve-cap finagling. 
I have also been working on these...
I sort of despise the sugared almond colours of the yarn... I bought it when I was a new knitter and easily beguiled by variegation, and I am very happy to be expelling it from my stash. Whether or not I'll ever want to coat my feet with fairy vomit is another matter. Socks are so supremely portable; I think I'm going to try always to have one in my bag for snatched moments of knitting time.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

... and this completes the Shipping Forecast.


Forecast is finally done! I cast on for this during a long car journey between Madrid and Bilbao, and knit the majority of it quite quickly. Then it lurked about in button band limbo for ages - I knit and re-knit three times and it's still not perfect....

I can live with it, though. I learned to knit back backwards, and cable without a cable needle, which made bobbling and cabling much less obnoxious.

The yarn is Rowan Scottish Tweed Aran in Thistle, which is quite rough to work with but softens wonderfully with washing. The depth of colour is glorious, with little blue and pink flecks, and it makes the cable pattern look like grapes on the vine.

It has turned cold again in the 'bridge, so I have been wearing this with pride.

Thanks to my friend Patrick for taking a million photos of me, and then taking a million more when I realised that one button had been undone throughout (see above).

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Two Things

1. I have just seen Coraline.
2. I will not be collecting any more buttons any time soon.
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