Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Hats, Boots, and Oopsydaisy (or the perils of non-communication in the human male).

Recently I seem to have been knitting a lot of baby stuff. I finished off the Debbie Bliss cardigan and I still had a ball and a half of yarn left, so I decided to use them up on a matching hat and bootees. The hat took a few attempts to get the decreases right - the first attempt was a bit pointy, like a sort of woolly medieval pikeman's helmet, but I was fairly pleased with it in the end and C even joined in and made the bobble.

Then I got an email from an old friend I hadn't spoken to in ages saying his wife had had a baby on New Year's Eve, so I used up a few oddments to rustle up a couple more pairs of bootees, which were duly dispatched and seem to have gone down well (at least with the parents).

No doubt the bootee theme will continue presently, as I know at least two other people expecting soon, but for the time being I've gone back to C's seemingly never-ending socks. I'm hoping to finish them soon, not only because they're boring me stiff but in the hope that a Finished Object might in some way make up for my accidentally scalping him at the weekend. Mind you it was his own fault.

A while ago he bought an electric razor-clipper thing for me to use in cutting his hair (since he has so little of it these days it seems ridiculous to go to an expensive hairdresser). I was trimming his hair with it at the weekend and said to Chris I thought it could do with going a shade shorter at the bottom. Without speaking he handed me what I assumed was the fitting for the next grade down and it was only after I'd laid into the back of his hair with it that I realised it was in fact the shortest possible. So he has a little bit of a chunk missing on one side...only a little's barely noticeable unless you know where to look...well it's more noticeable in the daylight...but it's going to be cold for the next few days, so he can just wear a scarf while it grows back...

However, the socks are progressing rather slowly as I've only really had knitting time on the train recently, and not a lot of that yesterday and today since my dad was visiting for a conference. He got the train down in the afternoon and we arranged to meet at the front of work about 5.* This resulted in a short game of hunt-the-woozle: I went out the side entrance (the one at the front) and turned right expecting to meet him coming the other way. He meanwhile approached the same entrance from the left. When I didn't find him I walked back, while he went round to the main entrance (the one at the side) thinking this must be what I'd meant by the "front". I then phoned him and we each established where the other was. I set off round to the main entrance thinking I'd find him coming back, and he persuaded the man on reception to let him go through the building to get out the other entrance... Round and round they go. Anyway, we finally found one another and made it to the train, but I didn't think it was really very friendly to then produce socks and spend all night knitting, so C will have to wait a little longer.

I soon will have finished them though and will be in need of another train project, so I've also been to trying to find something to make out of this ball of Shetland yarn my brother gave me a while ago. It's 100% Jacob sheep but other than that it doesn't give any information on the label. Since I only have one ball I have been thinking about a hat and I had guessed that it would be about aran weight, so I started knitting swatches for Gretel by Ysolda, but it soon became apparent that it's more chunky than aran, and although the gauge was ok, the knitted fabric was far too stiff and itchy to be comfortable, so back to the drawing board on that one.

On the subject of hats and brothers however, A has sent me pictures of his latest creation. Not sure why he's knitting woolly hats when he's in Oz where the temperature's about 30 degrees, but I'm glad to see he's still knitting (though it does mean I won't get to keep the 8 balls of Rowan Scottish Tweed Chunky I'm looking after for him). I think the hat is probably a variation on the theme of a knitty pattern. Can't help feeling it should be called "Beagle".

* By which time he had been to the Oxfam bookshop and managed to acquire four Odysseys and an Iliad.

Friday, 4 January 2008

'Twas the season to be jolly.

Well not in our house; 'twas more the season to be achy, shivery, and grey in the face with a persistent cough and a slight temperature.

On the Thursday before Christmas I cheerfully returned from singing carols to find C sitting on the sofa wrapped in a blanket and trembling. This did not bode well. C does not malinger as a rule. If he's ill a typical conversation goes along the following lines:
Me - You're never going into work.
C (manfully) - Oh, I'll be ok.
Me - But your arm's off!
C - No it isn't; it's just a flesh wound. I've had worse.

Needless to say two days later I woke up feeling and looking like the last turkey in the shop. We managed to drag ourselves out of bed long enough to stagger up the road and buy a Christmas tree (which looked very much like we felt), dump it in the back garden and go back to bed. The following day we just about made it to the supermarket, and then back to bed. On Christmas Eve, in between fits of coughing and bouts of shivering, we had to do all the housework and put the tree up. We just about managed to get the place straight before my brother arrived. "Sorry if I'm not very festive," he said as he came in, "only I've got flu".

So the three of us sat about feeling sorry for ourselves while my brother's partner (who is a doctor) tutted and told us to take more drugs (mind you it might have been more worrying if she'd expressed any great interest: she's training to be a pathologist!).

However, the lurgy did mean I got a fair amount of knitting done as it was about all I felt up to doing. The River Stole languished rather as I didn't think my concentration/patience was up to it and from experience, knitting with kid silk haze while coughing and sneezing is a dangerous occupation resulting in a great many dropped stitches. However, I did manage to finish the Brown monkey socks:

and (following Liz's example) to start a mini-version of the Debbie Bliss Classic Baby Cardigan, knitted on smaller needles so as to come out newborn size.

This is for some friends of ours in the U.S. who are expecting imminently. The other part of this gift - requested by C - is to be "Extermaknit" which I haven't yet started. It might have to be sent on later, but I thought the baby jacket was probably the bit to concentrate on getting finished. I'm not quite sure what a newborn is going to make of a knitted Dalek...

I also finally relented and in response to C's piteous cries of "Aren't you going to make me something soon?" bought some yarn to make him the stripy socks he wanted. They are fairly dull but good train and TV knitting. However, as predicted they do seem to be going on forever. I can never quite believe how big men's feet are and spent a lot of the time grabbing C's foot in the knitting equivalent of "are we nearly there yet?". I've finally turned the heel but they may end up as trainer liners as I don't know that there's all that much yarn left to do any leg. I strongly suspect that we will find them far too warm to be comfortable anyway, so it probably doesn't matter.

Today we have also been to JL in Reading and identified a cabled aran cardigan pattern which a) doesn't have to be ordered from the U.S. b) does not involve terrifying amounts of steeking and I might actually be able to knit c) (much to C's chargrin) doesn't have leather elbow patches, horn toggles, or cause the wearer to age by 40 years as soon as it is donned, so if we can agree on some yarn he may yet get the long-coveted cardigan too - possibly even before the end of the year.

Star knitting-related present this year was this Cath Kidston knitting bag from the lovely mother-in-law.

It's happily swallowed up the rather unwieldy collection of needles that's been preventing my stash box from shutting, thereby restoring marital harmony by allowing me to close the lid and put the box under the table out of sight. C also bought me the "New Pathways" sock book from Socktopus but (owing I suspect to Liz's dad snaffling the last available copy) it hasn't arrived yet - grrr.