Monster Post II

Let’s see, a good long while ago, the father of the Monstrous Offspring’s playmate at the childminder’s asked me if I could make a replacement blankie for her. He is also the Head of IT at work, so I ain’t gunna be p!ssing HIM off, with the state my laptop’s in! I had a look at the pitiful remnants of her blankie, and there was just enough left for me to make out that it was definitely crochet, three long stitches together and a chain between each group, into which the next row’s three stitches went. The long stitches might have been trebles, the number of stitches in the chain might have been 3 or 4 – the poor thing was too matted to tell. But I had a go at it for her birthday, and she was delighted. I was worried she would feel it was trying to take over, but she wrapped it round herself, twirled with it, was a butterfly, etc. Honour was satisfied.

I should really try to crochet more. It’s starting to be a little ouchy on my hand, and that’s not good. I may even have a project in mind…

Tiny Husband has expressed an interest in tie pins and waistcoats – now that his workplace has made ties optional for all but front of shop staff. Contrary beast that he is. So I made him a 1940s knitted waistcoat! The yarn is from a massive cone of natural 100% wool – Herdwick possibly – that I bought for nothing when I was still leaving the universe of dolly-mixture acrylic – didn’t even know Herdwick was a breed! There’s probably more than enough left for Louhi, once I get the courage together for such a long project – and a decent pair of gardening gloves: that stuff is rough! Currently, I’m making a Noodle Shrug for the bridesmaid, using this wool doubled.

This is all by way of diverting attention from the fact that I went on a big me me me drive recently. I attempted to make this for myself using some no-name chunky wool blend from LIDL. It was a very fast knit – all done, plus other knits, on our two weeks in Ireland – but it was just too. Low-cut. And there’s just no way I was going to add even more bulk by wearing something underneath it to hide Pinky & Perky from a curious world. It awaits frogging and a possible rebirth as Owls. My Ruffled Collar Pullover continued apace, but there’s only so much time I felt like devoting to ribbed mohair. Making considerable progress is my Clarice bag. No photos, but it is almost finished, which I am quite pleased about. I’ve only been able to work on it for short periods, as the multitude of bright bobbins tends to attract cat, son and husband, to the detriment of the work.

Then I saw these, and had to have them for my own. They are Penispoopcakewaffle Socks. Brainchild of one Wendy Moreland, it is a free Rav download, not available elsewhere I’m afraid.

For a time, this was all I had completed for myself to wear to UK Rav Day, and durned if I could find a pair of shoes, among the millions I own, that I could wear them with – even just a pair I could wheek off easily for showing-off purposes (why does that sound dirty now it’s in print…). I had slaved and slogged into the wee hours many a night trying to finish off my Joan Crawford (in a black variant of the mystery yarn mentioned in the previous post) for the day, only to be defeated at the last by the finishing. Sew a hem on a jumper, will ya, Biddy Ann? Aye right. I ask you.

And then, the blindingly obvious hit me. Funny how often that happens. Some time ago, I answered a plea from someone about the infamous February Lady Sweater – or as thee, me and the cat would call it, bed jacket. Cardigan if you’re being charitable. This is viral knitting as its finest. The Susan Boyle Youtube video of knitting. Now That’s What I Call Knitting #6306 (which is the number of times it’s been made so far, according to Ravelry) – you get the idea. It’s the adult version of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Baby Sweater on Two Needles. I first came across it a good while ago, being touted as suitable for a maternity cardi, and thought good luck to it. It’s mostly lace, which is not something I’m dying about at the best of times. What with neither being pregnant nor having the prospect of pregnancy, not to mention having a very great hatred of the current fashion for looking pregnant (even though it worked in my favour when I was) I had no interest in the thing. But a plea went forth, and I answered it.

The whys escape me. I mean, it’s not like no one out there had ever made one. Some people have made – well – quite a few. They’re a bit like sock knitters: they’ve found what they were born to knit, and, well, they go to it with a will. Anyway, this is about me me me, so back to your normal service.

Her questions were quite complex, possibly made so by a difference of language, and in the end I had to cast on to check that my reading of the pattern was correct. For handiness, and because it was roughly the right weight, I started off with an apricot cotton – Paccia La Lana Cinzia – which I got in a fire (or possibly bomb) sale in Belfast about 18 years ago. I had tried doing things with it before, but nothing had quite worked. Undaunted, I plugged on with FLS to the point – at the end of the collar/start of the lace – where her questions ended, and was pleased to report that I was correct (as was she, just confused, but then this is about me me me. I don’t know why I have to keep saying it). By then I had invested a substantial amount of time on the project; I thought I might as well use up this stuff after all that time in a box, moving countries with me.

Okay fine, I just couldn’t stand the thought of ripping it out again.

So I continued. I soldiered on with the lace – it wasn’t too hard, especially after I put 15 million stitchmarkers at every repeat. I could even do it without looking, managing half a row or so (there are about 85 giblillion stitches per row…) on the bus. Then I remembered I was doing a maternity tent – sorry, smock effort. Never a good look on one so sumptuously endowed as moi, and thanks to my recent success in vanquishing the Weed, I am packing a smidge more round the waist than I like. So not just huge jugs to make it sit out, but a muffin top to keep it from sneaking back in. By jaze sez I, I’ll need to do something about this.


So I shaped it. Hah! Pheer my madd skillz. I narrowed it in to my waist, then widened it out again for my hips. Then along the way I thought, you know, for ages I’ve been longing for something a bit piratical, a bit Jacobean, something with booty and flounce and that certain Laurence Llewellyn Bowen sensibility – something with oomph and tra la and a fol de rol to set the cat among the curtains. So I SUPER-sized the hip increase for a bouncy little peplum, ha har! Then I added cuffs, collar and hems in a vintage Astrakhan I have about me, and some gold-and-black buttons I found in the market, and voila! The effect is not fitted, but semi-fitted: I can still wear a jumper underneath. Though part of me is tempted to unpick and re-do it, because I feel I didn’t start the decreases early enough. But whatever.

I just about finished it in time to travel to Ireland, where I wore it almost constantly. The photos had to be taken that evening, before it was finished, or blocked or anything – you can see the ball of astrakhan balanced on my shoulder. I’m not sure now why it was so urgent, but it was. One day I’ll get nice pics. Ones where I don’t get exasperated by the photographer’s fear of pressing a button on my very complicated camera phone while panicking over the location of the passports…

Next installment: UK Rav Day!

TTFN
K

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Baa-Baa-BaBa-Baba-Baa-Bamboo, ~or ~ Joining the Sock Flock

I is brekin mi duk.

I have #1 of a pair of socks for Tiny Husband on the dpns. They are from a Regia Bamboo kit I purchased from PurpleLinda, 10% off atm. The maddcolorz are befuddling my eyes a bit, but I have about 4cm done so far. The yarn feels nice, but the dpns included, man oh man, very loooong, very sticky.

The 100% bamboo Silk Slip now has 2 boobies, and I’ve begun the rib-band. It has two hundred and stupid stitches, so I am going to take my time!

I also have, on bamboo circs and in 100% mohair, a sweater loosely based on Irina Poludnenko’s Ruffled Collar Pullover, published in February’s Knitting magazine as Moonlight Cashmere Top. The gauge was fine, but I didn’t care to trust the sweater to fit itself so I started at the bottom with 7mm circs for about 10cm, and switched to 6mm for 3 rows and finally to 5mm. I shall reverse the process when I need to expand for the bust. I have no idea whether I will ever wear this. The pattern is HAWT, and the yarn is HAWT red, a colour that looks particularly HAWT on me. However – it’s mohair. The result might merely be hot, as in sweaty. And it’s mohair. As in, adds a stone to my already overloaded arse.

Oh yes: and the bamboo circs, they do not like the mohair.

Really must try to get back to my WIPs, too. I have crocheted another leg for my amigurumi unicorn – just another 2 legs and ears, a horn, mane and tail to go.

This really doesn’t belong here, but I’m venting anyway. I was perusing my local Freecycle (go join) posts today and saw yet another appeal for Playboy-related tat to decorate a girl’s bedroom – pictures, lamps, duvet covers, etc. This really disturbs me. Since when has it been socially acceptable to allow your daughter to indulge a morbid interest in the seedy world of pornography, much less involve others in your lamentable parenting? If you’re teaching your daughter that spreading her legs for the titillation of the smut-buying public (including her dad, uncles, brothers) is okay, then do it on your own – and take responsibility for the fallout from providing your child with her own Barbie Brothel.

Much as I want another child – no daughters, thanks. I cannot raise a girl in a society this sick.

K

The Staff of Life

Or not, as the case may be. If you can’t eat wheat, does that mean you’re dead?

A departure from crafting. But not from creating…??

I can’t eat wheat. I’m not coeliac, it’s just IBS, but I do often eat gluten-free products for coeliacs. However, I’m violently allergic (projectile vomiting, as opposed to the flu-ey symptoms I get from wheat) to buckwheat, a major coeliac staple, especially in brown, high fibre and multigrain baked goods. For some reason, buckwheat is very occasionally listed by other names, including its name in other languages. I recently had a horrific experience thanks to Doves Farm’s Plain White Flour, which lists buckwheat as ‘sarrasin’ – the French word. Oddly, they call it buckwheat on the Brown Bread Flour. Thanks, Doves Farm! Also, as I learned to my cost – or rather my mum’s cost, since she’d bought the stuff in advance of my visiting – these days, not all coeliac foods are wheat-free: those clever clever food scientists have worked out how to remove the gluten from wheat, which can then be used to make gluten-free foods! Great for the coeliacs, not great at all for me. And tbh, the stuff looked as bad as the wheat- and gluten-free food.

Nowadays it’s a lot better for me. At least now I can buy gluten-free food in supermarkets, rather than having to trek into the city centre to go to the big Boots, and food labels now list wheat in the short health warning section of the label. Of course they also plaster the shelves with Look! Gluten Free! signs. My poor mother (who ought to know better, she’s a Trinity graduate, ffs) has been robbed blind buying special gluten-free apples, chicken, lettuce and sellotape for my visits. Recently though, I’ve been getting fed up with the stodgy fare available to me, happy as I am that it’s there. But sometimes I want soda bread. Or a sandwich bread that doesn’t need to be toasted (although I sound a rousing hurrah for Sainsbury’s part-baked baguette). And I’ve never found anything, buckwheat-filled or not, that substitutes for the dense nutty brick that is the Irish Wheaten Soda. Thing is, I’m not a great baker, and I don’t enjoy yeast baking. Stovetop cooking generally I’m fine at, and I’ve mastered roasts now that I have people to cook for, but the results from the oven are disappointing. My cakes, buns and breads don’t rise well, although my pastry and biscuits are surprisingly good considering these are supposed to be harder to make. I used to have a very basic bread machine, but results were not great. When the element died, I didn’t bother replacing it.

However, I’ve heard great things about the Panasonic bread machines, and there are now dedicated cookery books for gluten-free bread machine baking. I ummed and ahhed for a while over the price – £70+ – and then LIDL had a Bifinett bread machine on offer for only £25 which appeared to be more or less identical to the Panasonic in function. So I dispatched Tiny Husband to purchase one, and yesterday I gave it a trial run using Dove’s Farm White Bread Flour (“sarrasin”-free!) and quick acting yeast, and the basic bread-making programme No. 1 as per the recipe for breadmakers on the Dove’s Farm pack, selecting a medium-coloured finish.

The result was fabulous. A squarish well-risen, easily-cut loaf, moist, with a defined but not overly chewy or crispy crust. The centre is not dissimilar in appearance to the sliced pan loaves of my Irish childhood, Knutty Krust and so forth, with medium-sized air bubbles, but with a firmer texture closer to that of British pans (KK slices were sadly limp). It ate well straight from the oven, cooled with butter and with butter and jam, and toasted and buttered this morning. The butter sank in nicely instead of melting into a puddle on top to splatter my work blouse minutes before I have to lasso the baby and run out the door. A little crusty this evening, but I had left it out on the counter, uncovered, since I took it out of the machine.

I’m really impressed. Especially so since the programme I used wasn’t even the gluten-free programme! The only thing that’s inferior to the Panasonic machines is that there’s no facility to add fruit or nuts automatically during baking, though you can set it to beep at the right time. However, this feature has only been present in the last two Panasonic models anyway. I’m looking forward to trying out other recipes – maybe even trying the pasta programme!

Fibre crafts wise, Cillian’s Trellis cardi is finally done, blocked and sewn, and is only sans buttons. It’ll need a re-block. Boobie #2 of the Silk Slip is almost done as well.

TTFN
K

 

Senior Moment

Truly the brain is dying.

This is one of the first things I ever made, and the first I made for myself, after I started crafting again. I wear it quite often, too. Though I have to say it has not endeared me to shrugs – there’s something about the ‘frontlessness’ of it that makes me look fat, pigeon-chested and middle-aged. Well, more fat, pigeon-chested and middle-aged than I actually am. Not that I’m pigeon-chested, I just have a very straight back, courtesy of mother, music and military, and larger than average boobies.

It is a fairly straight copy of the Noodle Shrug, excepting that I abandoned the yarn-overs as they were driving me bananas, in favour of using one 10mm and one 4mm needle. I’ve since discovered that I was doing the yarn-overs the wrong way round (sensibly I wrapped the yarn over then under the needles, whereas in fact one wraps under then over the needle) not that it matters a hill of beans either for this pattern or for my sanity. The yarn is undyed 2-ply 100% wool, and the ‘noodles’ are a cream cotton chenille. I did not pay much attention to the instructions for these, I think they’ve worked out longer on mine.

A boo, frou-frou, and a big Bamboo

Well, I didn’t get to the wedding – by the time I got clearance from the school, it would have cost over 300 pounds for self and offspring, and would have involved travelling at stupid o’clock. So I took the day off anyway and spent it doing computery stuff. I installed a new hard drive (250g) in the old computer, discovering along the way that I didn’t have a particular cable I needed. I also discovered there was no point in transferring the Firewire card to the new computer as it has an unconnected 1394 port in the front panel – it would cost a few pounds to install one. So the FW card goes back in the old computer. The old 20g hard drive is now in a portable powered fanned external case. May use it purely for music.

Crafting: clicky to my first pattern, for hair scrunchies, see left! Though this is a bit of a cheat, to get myself linked on Ravelry as a designer – shh! don’t tell anyone! I do intend to produce patterns but haven’t got round to it yet.

It came through one of those D’oh! moments – when you realise the answer has been staring you in the face. I have very fine, flyaway hair. It needs to be restrained in a lot of situations – housework, work, nappy-changing, etc. The only product that will keep the hair in place is Brylcreem – half a jar usually does the trick, but it’s not a look I’m keen on. Any fixings you care to mention – combs, ribbons, elastics, kirby-grips – either fall out, or damage my hair. The only thing that stands a chance of staying in place without snapping the hair are scrunchies. For some reason, though, the few that I can find are usually in hideous colours.

So I was about to throw out an old fuzzy black one, randomly wishing I could get more and thinking the fuzzy would make a nice scarf, when it hit me I could make the blasted things with fancy yarns… D’oh! Hence the pattern – crochet, if you’re interested. On the plus side, since I’d got the fancy yarns to make scarves for myself, all the scrunchies have mysteriously turned out to be in lovely colours that tone with my wardrobe!

I have also put together a shortie scarf/ruff affair. I’ve found a scarf to be too long and gappy for some of my winter coats, and thought that a big-collared jumper would work better – only without the jumper… so I knit this collar-and-yoke thingy in Sirdar Bigga (Etna colourway), which I found unbanded in the Bull-Ring for 69p. It’s a 2×2 rib on the collar, 3×3 rib on the yoke by picking up the bar between the paired knits and purls. Finished with a belt buckle from the same source.

Finally – another Bull-Ring bargain: pure bamboo yarn, unbanded, also 69p. They had the same stuff on the shelves. I thought I’d just try a little random swatching to see what it was like to knit with, then I saw Knitting magazine had printed one of Joan McGowan-Michael’s patterns from Knitting Lingerie Style – Silk Slip. It’s basically just a bra: you sew a silk ‘skirt’ to it. I’m almost finished the first cup, after a few modifications for my voluptuousness. The straps are supposed to be single crochet, but I think I might use the lace bit to knit thicker straps for comfort. I’m also uncomfortable about sewing (!) so the skirt may wind up being knitted too…

TTFN

K

This WILL have HAS pics…

Eventually… The pics are taken and awaiting upload from my phone.

The scarf is finished, ends woven in, washed and blocked. The rather stringy, fine mohair bloomed nicely – the resulting fabric appears solid until you look closely, allowing the lace flowers stand out well. The pics don’t really do justice – I was hoping to hang it by a window so you could see the light coming through, but had to settle for laying it on white paper. I shall hand it over on Thursday rather than Friday as she has a do to go to and might like to wear it.

My sister’s bag is boarded, lined and sewn up, and lacks only the fastening. The specs cases for Mum and MIL are finished too, including the label inside. These won’t be in time for Christmas unfortunately. I won’t even get them off until Saturday.

I’m also well into Libby’s amigurumi unicorn – head and body completed to the start of the bum, and stuffed as far as possible. I still have a little time to work on it, as I won’t see them until after Christmas Day anyway. I’m not entirely thrilled with the shape, as the head and neck extend more or less straight out from the body making it look more like a goose than a horse. Before I started, I did think it needed some short-rowing where the lower neck reaches the body – i.e., no building up of the back until the chest is in place. That would mean turning the work and working backwards. I can’t see an amigurumi way of doing it, except maybe by making the pieces separately and sewing them together in the right configuration. There’s a lot of shaping involved and correct stuffing is crucial.

ION, the deputy head was most distressed to see me knitting during break. Apparently I should be planning lessons. It has been pointed out that I am not in fact a qualified teacher, have no regular classes and therefore do not have PPA time, and am in possession of a contract that specifically forbids me from planning lessons (even though I DO, because there’s usually no coverwork). So he gave it as his opinion that I should be doing anything but knitting. Possibly helping out in the canteen, or cleaning the toilets then.

No scarf for him!

If he had any sense, he’d be begging me to run an after-school club for the tards…

Kxxx