Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas, innit?

I spent Christmas with The Limey's family up in the midlands. A few observations from my first Proper English Christmas.

1) These people drink a lot.

2) Despite dire predictions from The Limey, it is perfectly possible to have a vegetarian Christmas dinner. His mom made a special effort. Can you even tell the difference?

I think you can just barely see a some turkey peeking out in the bottom picture. There are some bacon-wrapped sausages buried in there, as well.

3) I understood about 30% of what his uncle said. I don't know if this is because he was drunk before he arrived, or because of his accent. I'm voting a combination of both.

4) Remember point #1? The dessert (pudding for the UKians) was not spared.

The thing was drenched in alcohol, set alight, and then served swimming in rum sauce, into which more rum was added at the table.

5) The Limey's grandmother told me stories about her husband and family going down to work in the mines. In mines! I guess that sort of thing doesn't just happen in the movies.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Dispatch from my cold flat

I have been waiting for the guys who are supposed to replace our heaters to turn up. They haven't. Which means no heating for the weekend. Which means we'll have spent a whole week with our heaters turned off. The Limey is about to go apeshit. There's nothing more blood-boiling-inducing than having people say they will turn up and not. The letting agency (closed for the holidays and therefore not answering their phone) hasn't given us the contact details of the heater-replacing people, so we can't chase it up, either.

Meanwhile, I have been off work. If I stay at home, I have to fight the cat for a position in front of the toaster-sized portable space heater they've given us, so I've been out and about in London and around town.

I have some Christmas knitting to do (oh, don't worry: as I've only just started, they'll never be done in time for Christmas, so there's no time pressure), and on the pretense of having to buy some needles for one of the projects, I went to Stash in Putney. From East Putney tube station, it's a short walk through a cute little street (I'm all about exploring all the different London 'hoods) and the shop itself is wonderfully laid out and the people are friendly. I've been thinking about knitting a summer-weight t-shirt and so was on the lookout for appropriate yarns. One of the salespeople there tried to help me out, but they're mainly stocking lots of winter-appropriate stuff (duh) so I just bought some needles, a set of 4.0mm Addi bamboo dpns. Then I thought, Darn it, maybe those were too big for what I want them for, and Oh! I also need some lace needles for the Jaggerspun Zephyr I bought a month back. So off I went to I Knit London, where I browsed a bit more and got more needles: a set of 3.5mm Brittany dpns and a pair of 3.0mm Addi lace needles. It has been quite a good needle-acquiring week over here, actually. Check this out:

The ones on the right are the 3.0mm Addi lace circulars. The ones on the left are 1.5mm Inox dpns, and the ones in the middle are wince-inducing 1.25mm Inox dpns. I've been looking for needles smaller than 2.0mm forever. I knit somewhat loosely, and knit all my socks on 2.0mm dpns. This is fine, except that sometimes I want a denser fabric, especially as socks knit at tighter gauges wear better. So I've been looking for smaller needles, and the only ones I've found are ones in a Susan Bates sock set. Which I'd have to order from the US, which is more trouble than I'm willing to put into the whole thing.

So imagine how happy I was when I went into the teeny sewing and haberdashery shop in town here and found these! The shop sells a small selection of not so exciting fabrics, and an anemic selection of wool. This selection consists of a shelf of Patons, and although I can't see myself spending too much time there, I do like the Patons Diploma Gold 4-ply for socks, and they stock a lot of colours of it. I went in there the other day to get some grey 4-ply for another pair of Anna socks, and thought, just for the heck of it, to see what kind of knitting notions they had, and there they were: packages of teeny dpns tossed into a box willy-nilly. I grabbed the two sizes they had, and thought very seriously about buying two or three packages of each, in case I lost one and can never find any more. In the end I bought one set of each, but now I'm thinking of heading back over there and buying more.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

And the rude Secret Santa goes to...

Thanks for all the Secret Santa ideas, everyone. The prize goes to Heidi. I'd seen the "Don'ts For Wives" book, first published in 1913, a few weeks ago, and saw it again at Borders at the last Soton knitting group meeting, so that's what I got CEO's wife. I labeled it with Mrs. CEO'sFirstName CEO'sLastName, which put her off right away. I think she was offended (rude? check.) and wasn't that fond of the book, either. Heh. But other people had a great time reading and laughing at it, so it wasn't wasted.

The Christmas party was last night and was great fun. The Limey took the train down after his work's Christmas do, which was in the afternoon. Of course we missed the last train home, but numerous people offered us a bed or a floor, so we crashed at a colleague's house. It felt like home because they had a bad-tempered cat as well. We got home this morning and our cat wasn't all that excited about not having been fed for a day.

Two more days of work, and then I can sit around for a couple weeks. Whew.

Monday, December 10, 2007

One down, one to go

Well, that's one problem solved, anyway. I gave up on the yellow raglan. It just wasn't going to work out, and I was unhappy with the fit. I didn't even bother frogging it. I un-did the neck bind-off and am knitting the new project right off the old project.

It's the Gathered Pullover, by Hana Jason for Interweave Knits Winter '07. In this picture, I'm just a few rows past the centre of the cable detail. For some reason, on the centre row, the instructions have you decrease a certain number of stitches on either side of the cable, then increase the same number on the next row. I have no clue why. Maybe because this bit goes right over the fullest part of the boobs, and the decrease/increase rows keep it from stretching too much? That's the only explanation I can think of, and I'm not sure it's a valid argument.

Unfortunately, I'd made a mistake with the decrease/increase rows:

I didn't knit through the back loop on those increases, so there are holes. Aaargh. I dropped each of the increase stitches and picked them back up. It's sort of helped.

I'm crossing my fingers and toes, and knocking on all wood I pass that I have enough yarn for this. I'm using the correct yarn weight, but it's knit much looser for drape. Even though I don't have as much yardage as the pattern calls for, I think I may just manage this. Even if I don't, this will look much better with short sleeves than the raglan would have.

Still need Secret Santa ideas, though. A note's gone 'round saying the gift has to be cheeky, rude or useless. Grrr.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A little help, please

So I have two problems I'd like to gather your thoughts on. Because I'm totally stumped.

1) For the work Secret Santa thingy, I drew the CEO's wife. I've never met this woman; I know nothing about her. In fact, I'm only assuming it's his wife- they have the same surname. What the heck do I get someone I know absolutely zilch about? 10 quid limit.

2) My train knitting has been a plain stockinette raglan. It has turned out to be totally unlike what I wanted it to be. I wanted it to be a plain raglan with a wide, drapey turtleneck/cowl, with belled sleeves and simple natural rolled stockinette hems. In reality:

As you can see, I ran out of yarn. (Yes, really! I know, y'all can't believe it!) Not only can't I do the belled sleeves, but I can't do the turtleneck/cowl either. Which meant the neckline had to be finished off some way- otherwise, it would be too unstructured up there. So there's just a bit of ribbing. The non-belled sleeves is not an issue; they would get in the way at work and were probably a bad idea, anyway. The problem I put to you readers is: what to do about the sleeves now?

I have just enough yarn to finish them off with ribbing as is, but it's a weird length. Short sleeves? Puffy short sleeves? Short drapey sleeves? I have no clue, and I've totally run out of ideas. Even though this didn't come out as I imagined, I think it could still be a good, easily wearable sweater if I sort out the sleeve issue.

Any help and insight appreciated. Pretty please?

P.S: Have you seen Cheryl's Knitty pattern? Totally cute.

Friday, November 30, 2007

I finally made it to the Southampton knitting group! It's at the Borders in town, which is conveniently close to the train station. There were a good dozen people, and everyone was awfully nice. Also, a lot of people were wearing things they'd knit, which is nice to see. I hope I can make it regularly. Work has been so crazy I hadn't managed it before.

I worked a bit on my current (and only!) project, a plain raglan knit in the round with some Artesano Alpaca which was frogged from its previous incarnation. I'm not going to have enough yarn for the full length sleeves I wanted, though.

It was really nice to talk to people who aren't work colleagues or The Limey. Much as I like all of them, I really needed to talk to other people. This brings me to the perennial "How do I make friends" problem that has dogged me for the last few years. It isn't helped by moving around every few years.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Hallelujah! (Updated and edited)

(This entry was written quite quickly yesterday, so I've added some useful stuff.)

Print O' the Wave
Yarn: 2 + an irritatingly teeny bit of a 3rd skein of Margaret Stove Artisan Laceweight Merino in plum
Needles: 2.0mm Pony bamboo dpns and 2.0mm 100cm Addi Turbos
Pattern: The oh-so-popular Print O' the Wave by Eunny Jang

Notes: Finally, finally! It only took nearly a year, but now it's done. Modifications include reducing the centre panel to only three horizontal repeats instead of four, and lengthening it to 40 vertical repeats instead of 34. Also, I did the centre panel in one piece instead of grafting two pieces.

I used Eunny's helpful advice at this Knitter's Review thread, and in figuring out all the modifications, I found CogKnition's notes on her PotW really useful.

I'm not even going to go into what happened when I ran out of yarn. (Of course I ran out of yarn!) Each 20g skein is 300m. I used two and maybe, oh, 20 metres of the third. Annoying. What'm I going to do with the rest of it? (By the way, how did I run out of yarn? The pattern called for 500 yards of cobweight weight. I made sure I had cobweight weight. I had 600m of it, and I made the centre panel a whole quarter narrower. How could I have run out of yarn? How?!)

The blocked size was 43cm wide and 160cm long. It could have been blocked longer, I think. By the way, you know how when you read about blocking lace, they just say, Oh, pin out the points, spritz, and ooooh, the magic of blocking. Well, they lie. It's fecking hard to block a huge piece of lace evenly. I'm totally buying blocking wires if I do a big piece of lace again.

This yarn is lovely to work with and blocks out beautifully. I would totally work with it again.

If you want to see a better close-up of the lace pattern, look at Knitelly's. It's just like mine! I kept doing double-takes when I read about hers.

Friday, November 23, 2007


Well, that was an interesting couple of weeks.

Work went crazy busy for a bit as we tried to get a report out to a client. It got even busier when the response came back asking questions such as "Do the people on this project really have PhDs?" and "Do you know the first thing about what we want you to do?" and "Are you capable of achieving even the most basic requirements of this project?" They were Not Happy. So then there were rounds of meetings with everyone and his dog; there were people tripping over themselves to apologize; there was, of course, even more work for us.

I tried hard to get to the Southampton knitting group for the past two Thursdays, but each time it turned out I had to stay at work way late.

The Limey has been great even though he started work this week himself. He's gotten home before me and starts cooking, so I can just collapse when I get in.

There's one more week of instrument time, during which I have to cram in as many experiments as I physcially can. Then it'll be data analysis time, and then it'll be report time again. I'm looking forward to Christmas break, I tell you.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What's me, what's not

Well, we've had nearly a month in the flat now. The Limey has been at home to buy stuff, take deliveries, fix things around the place, etc., so things have been chugging along pretty well. But he starts work next Monday, so I think any more changes will be coming very slowly.

So unfortunately, it looks like these are staying:

Living room lights. Gotta love the fake distressed copper finish. And those green streaks running down the shades!

The hall lights. I think maybe they were stolen from a country hotel. The dusty picture-covered hallway of a manor house somewhere is missing its lights.

Uh...this is in the second bedroom. I'm not sure what's up with it at all. The Limey's already taken down the lightshade in the main bedroom, so I have no pictures, but it was a ball made from stringing plastic pink beads onto a round shape. It belonged in the bedroom of a little girl in her ballerina stage. A little girl with bad taste.

Old dark heavy wood curtain rods, mounted, as you can see, right up against the ceiling. Why?? Why?? Plus, that paint over the base there? The management agency actually paid somebody 1800 quid to repaint and touch up the flat, and that's what they did. I won't even show you the other crimes they have perpetrated on this poor flat.

Oh, wait, yes I will.

Yes, sickly mint green plastic. Lovely. Oh, that streaky paint over the top there? Yeah, great painting job, guys.

Those are some of the things we haven't fixed yet. A couple of things that we have done:

The Limey bought this on e-Bay. It is totally over the top, doesn't match anything we have, and has a tear on one of the arms. But it is awesome. Absolutely awesome. Who doesn't love a red velvet couch?! It's really comfy, too. I can sit sideways on it, knitting, with my back against the arm, and put my feet up or on The Limey's lap.

Now the best thing:

Ah, you think I've finally lost it. No, what I would draw your attention to is the tap. Do you see? A tap. One tap. A mixer tap. For reasons which I cannot fathom, the peoples of these here islands like to pretend that mixer taps don't exist. Possibly they are masochists who like alternately freezing and burning themselves. I live with it in the bathrooms. But when we moved in here, there were separate taps in the kitchen. So if you wanted to wash something and:
a) actually want to get it clean, but
b) don't particularly want all the skin on your hands burned off,
then you have to fill up the whole sink. Oh, you only wanted to wash a couple of bowls? Tough.

Not only that, but the taps they had put on there barely reached over the side of the sink, so that we could hardly fit the kettle under there to fill it, never mind fit bowls and plates and cutting boards under them to rinse.

I told The Limey his people were backasswards looney and demanded a mixer tap. So the poor thing drove around the greater Guildford area looking for a mixer tap that didn't cost 200 pounds. Then he spent a couple hours grunting and cursing under the sink. But now, behold, the mighty mixer tap!

Stay tuned for how the hell we will manage when both of us work and the cat goes crazy. Crazier.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Amidst the upheaval, some knitting

There has been some knitting the last month or so. I didn't really have the emotional strength to commit to a big project, so it's been socks.

Snicket Socks
Yarn: Jaeger Baby Merino 4-ply, lots left over from two balls
Needles: 4.0 mm dpns
Pattern: Snicket Socks by Sabine Riefler for Magknits

Notes: I knit these during the packing-up time in Dublin, picking them up between filling boxes with crap I didn't even know I had. No big changes to the pattern. I substituted my own tried-and-true short row heels and just winged it with the toes until they looked right. These could have been longer, especially since I had so much yarn left over. I made the medium size, but at tighter gauge, so they're snug.

The pattern is easy enough, but she left out some details like what to do at the ends of rounds when you can't quite finish a whole repeat. It's easy to figure out, but it was mildly frustrating to have to do it. Will wear these lots, I think. The only limiting factor is how long the yarn will last; it was pilling quite badly after the first wearing.

Random useless trivia: Lemony Snicket, the author of "A Series of Unfortunate Events" and for whom these socks are named, went to my high school! Isn't your life so totally more enlightened now?

I started these next socks for The Limey the minute I finished the Snickets. In fact, I wound this yarn at my last Dublin SnB meeting (sob!).

Upheaval Socks
Yarn: Cherry Tree Hill Supersock, in Moody Blues, from I Knit London, every inch of one skein
Needles: 2.0 mm dpns
Pattern: basic toe-up ribbed socks

Notes: I bought this yarn on the flat-hunting trip The Limey and I made last month, so this project has really bridged the whole moving process. I started knitting them in Dublin, continued on my first train commutes here, and finished them in the new flat one evening. Thus their fancy name, but they're just your basic ribbed socks. I knit them toe-up until I thought I had half the yarn left, started the second sock from the other end, then knit until they were both the same length and I had no yarn left. (The Limey likes his socks high.)

This is the first time I've worked with a Cherry Tree Hill yarn, and I love it. Love it. If I didn't know better, I'd swear it had some silk or bamboo in it, it's so soft and smooth. I loved just winding the skein up into a ball. I don't spin, so I have no clue, but I've heard it's smooth because the yarn is spun so tightly. It just glides through your fingers, and The Limey says they're the squishiest, nicest socks ever. I would totally, totally knit with this yarn again, so it's good I'd convinced The Limey to let me buy two skeins of it! (I used the "but I'll soon be working!" argument.)

Actually, maybe one thing would hold me back from being swept head over heels by this yarn: even though it's supposedly superwash, I've heard that it doesn't stand up so well in the machine and should be hand-washed. I'm not so excited about hand-washing socks; I'm even less excited about The Limey hand-washing his socks.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Woking girl

(Get it? Get it? Ha.)

So, we finally have interweb at home (Virgin Media sucks), so some progress reports.

1) The move: as The Limey said, everything went fine. We got here, the cat's freaked out, it's three weeks later and we're still in a sea of boxes. See, we haven't got any furniture, but we do have boxes of stuff that goes on, into, inside, around and against furniture. So that stuff'll just have to stay in boxes for now. What we're going to do about furniture will be saved for another post, I think.

2)The job: is awesome. I was lucky with timing. The project I was put on started experimental work the day I joined the company. So I could get my hands dirty right away. I'm back to UHV (ultra-high vacuum) work, which is what I did my PhD in, so I could tighten bolts, press buttons, etc., without having to be supervised or given detailed instructions all the time. Basically I felt that I made myself useful right away. The people are really friendly, and there's still the feel of a university research group about the whole thing. Except unlike some academic research groups, everything is managed very tightly and everyone has projects with clear goals and progress is monitored and measured so everybody knows what's happening. It's nice.

3)The flat and Woking: The flat is pretty good. For some reason I remembered the living room being longer, but it's still quite large. You could fit The Limey's whole Ringsend flat in it. The kitchen is a separate room, which is nice. Open plan kitchens are great in theory, but in practice, everything just smells like cooking all the time. The people who decorated the place had terrible taste. I think we'll be replacing a lot of stuff.
As for Woking, well, er, Woking is less than exciting. I think it's because it's an awkward distance from London. London is so close that there's no point having anything here except the train station. If you want to buy/do/get/see anything, you go up to London. But it's just far enough away that it's a pain in the ass if you just wanted to pop out quickly to, oh, say, a yarn shop, or anything. The pubs we've tried have been very quiet. Restaurants consist of the ubiquitous fast food chains, curry houses, Chinese take-aways, and a couple of "pizza and pasta"-type Italian places.

4) The commute: is frustrating. So, yes, I live quite far away from work- roughly 40 miles. The first 38 is covered in 45-50 minutes by train. It's fine- there're always seats. I sit, knit, read, nap, whatever. That last two miles is teeth-grindingly frustrating. My job right now is in two locations: the labs (which are still at the university) and the offices, which are in a commercial/industrial estate northwest of the city. Getting the the uni is no problem: if I take the 08:00 train, I'm in lab at 09:15. However, getting to the company's offices is a total, absolute nightmare. The first time I did it, it took me three hours. Three hours! Two hours ten minutes of which was to cover the two miles between the train station and the office. See, there's no bus to the estate. The closest bus stop is a 30 minute walk away. Worse, there's no direct bus from the train station to this bus stop. I have to get a bus into the university and change. And traffic in certain parts of Southampton (the part the buses go on, naturally) is really bad during the commuting hours. So I wait forever for the bus, then the bus takes forever to cover a 5-minute journey. So far, I've dealt with this problem by never going up to the offices. This is not a permanent solution, however, as the company is buying new equipment and slowly moving everything to the estate and leaving the university labs.

I really don't want to drive. I won't be able the beat train time on that first 38 miles; it would solely be to save my sanity on that last two miles. But then I don't get my knitting/reading time and does Southampton really need another car on the roads at commuting hours? And with the cost of a car, insurance, and petrol, I probably won't be able to do it for less than my train pass.

I think I'll get a bike.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Ey'up. The Limey, here.

Lien asked me to post a quick note, since we have no internet access in the new flat, yet (hopefully this'll be sorted tomorrow). I haven't started my job yet, so I have time to sit in the coffee shop and exploit their free wireless network ... although I should probably spend more time unpacking.

The move is complete, and everyone & everything is here safely, although Chloë is a little perturbed by the change of location and the fact that new stuff keeps turning up. Lien has started her new job: she was straight into the lab on her second day, and has been doing all manner of new science since (and I'm pretty sure that she's enjoying it).

With any luck, Lien will be able to post here within the next couple of days, as our cable box is supposed to arrive tomorrow. Let's see how well ParcelForce compares to Án Post.


Thursday, October 11, 2007


Can't blog...Limey making me pack...removals people here on looks like this:

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Some notes on Horseshoes Cardigan

I've had a trawl through the web and thought I'd address some of the thoughts people have had on the Horseshoes Cardigan. I've really enjoyed reading what people have to say about the pattern, so I hope this is useful (if people who want to knit the cardigan actually find this blog!).

1. Sleeves- this would look great with long sleeves. I would have put in long sleeves, except -you guessed it- I didn't have enough yarn. I wouldn't even bother putting in shaping; knit straight and block to the required trapezoid shape. Or keep the straight shape for a swingier sleeve.

2. Sizing- I realize the smallest size is a 36 inch / 91.5 cm bust measurement. This was just how the math came out. However, in the photos, I'm wearing the smallest size and my bust measurement is 34 inches / 86 cm. And there is no ease. How have I achieved this? Through the minor miracle of blocking- I simply blocked the cardigan to my size. Lace is stretchy and looks nice in a range of stretchednesses (look! I made up a word!), so it's easy to block the finished garment to a couple inches smaller or larger than the stated sizes. Just remember not to block the ribbing too much.

3. Length- It's easy to make this longer or shorter. For more length, knit more ribbing or add a few vertical repeats of the lace before you start armscye / neck shaping. For shorter, knit less ribbing..

4. I really like to use short rows for the shaping when I can. The neckline was done with short rows, so there's a nice, even straight edge, and you don't have to go over it with a crochet hook or anything. It's finished as you knit.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Why, lookie here

Horseshoes Cardigan
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Pure Silk
Needles: 2.5 mm
Pattern: my own, found at Magknits! (Eeeee!)

I wasn't entirely sure Magknits were going to publish this until a few days before the October issue went live, and then I saw it just as we were preparing to fly over to the UK to go flat-hunting, so I haven't had time to let it sink in yet!

I'm totally excited about it. The pattern editor must have superpowers or something, because her re-worked version makes a million times more sense than the original I had sent in. I do wish I had gotten better pictures, but, well, photographing knits and yarn, modelling clothes, setting up shoots, it's all an art that I still have yet to acquire any talent in.

I'd love to hear any comments, questions, rants, etc., so please feel free to contact me about the pattern!

Having said that, though, I haven't looked at any of the knitting forums to see what the reaction has been. I'm slightly frightened, because sometimes people are merciless, but if I wasn't told what isn't good, how am I supposed to improve? So I'll go and check now. Cross your fingers.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Just in time

I'm totally over-posting, but I figure once I start working, blogging may take a hit.

Anyway, autumn's definitely here. I was waiting for the bus a couple of nights ago, and really really wished I had gloves or something, because it was freezing. So these are just in time.

Endpaper Mitts
Yarn: Jaeger Baby Merino 4-ply, half a ball of each colour, for both mitts
Needles: 2.0 mm and 2.5 mm dpns
Pattern: Eunny Jang's Endpaper Mitts

Notes: The first stranded colourwork project for me. To make it easier on myself, I could probably have chosen colours that were a better contrast. But, hey, for a first, it's alright. My gauge was tighter than called for, but that's okay; it means the mitts are nice and snuggly.

It was also the first time I bothered with a tubular bind-off. I didn't do the fancy cast on called for in the pattern.

I quite like the tubular bind off. It produces a really nice, non-bulky edge. It's fiddlier, definitely, but for some reason, I "got" it really quickly. Which is weird, because every time I kitchener, I still have to look up the instructions.

I don't get the love of faux seams Eunny has. She put in two for the mitt, but I only put in the one on the inside. And my tension, wonky enough for the rest of the mitt, got really weird around the seam. I'm glad I didn't put in the other one.

All in all, a good project. But they're really long! I know I'm short, anyway, but these go nearly up to my elbows. There's plenty of both colours left. I could totally do another pair. If I knit these again, I'd make them shorter, maybe only two repeats of the arm part instead of three. I'd omit both seams and just have the pattern continue right across (there'd be a jog, but maybe there's a workaround for that)

(Look! One pinkie's way shorter than the other! I swear this isn't true normally. Huh. Magic finger shortening mitts.)

Friday, September 28, 2007

Something new

(Before I start, thanks Averil for reminding me that moving is done all the time and that I, and others, have survived before. It really did help.)

I've managed to calm myself down somewhat about the whole moving thing. I took stock of the situation and realized that this is probably the cushiest move I've ever made. We can keep the room here in Dublin with our stuff (and, more importantly, the cat!) for as long as we need to. It's cheap, so that's no problem. (I never thought I'd be 30, married, and in shared housing, but it made living on one income possible, and we even managed to save up some money.) The Limey had the good sense to ask his new employers for relocation expenses, so not only will they pay for the move, but they'll pay for us to go over there and look for housing. So we're doing that next week. I realized that the worst case scenario meant we'd have to live in a business hotel or B&B for a few weeks while we keep our stuff here in Dublin, and we have the money to cover that. So what was I worried about again?

Still, there was a bit of stress, and I realize it was probably not the best time to learn stranded colourwork, but Lien had recommended some fair isle by Eunny Jang a while ago, and I really liked the idea (thanks!) so I started on the Endpaper Mitts. New technique + careful tension control requirement + stress = not the best work I've ever done.

I did a few repeats of the pattern while trying to train myself in stranding. It's like learning to knit all over again. I tried to do it two-handed, but could not keep even tension on my right hand no matter how hard I tried. So then I did it with both colours in my left hand, first with both colours over my index finger, then with one over the index finger and the other over the middle finger. This last method is what I eventually settled on. It still looked crap, but I decided to just go with it.

Like everyone said, blocking does help with the colourwork, as you can see here:

The mitt on the bottom has been washed and blocked; the mitt on the top hasn't. However, no amount of blocking can hide the fact that I had no clue what I was doing.

Quite lumpy and uneven. The weird thing is that it's just the purple that seems lumpy to me. Obviously that could be due to my not tensioning correctly with one of my fingers, but the other mitt was done with the colours reversed, and it's still the purple that looks weird to me. I made sure to always carry the pattern colour over my middle finger and the background colour over my index finger. So I don't know what's up with that.

The reverse side looks alright to me, but, then again, I don't know what correctly-tensioned stranded colourwork is supposed to look like on the wrong side.

Perhaps someone with experience in this could tell me if it looks obvious that I'm carrying one colour or the other too loosely or too tightly. I have no clue.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Nervous knitting

The only upside to all that stress is that I need to knit to keep my mind off things. I took advantage of this to work on the two WIPs that have been sitting around since March.

The Neverending Socks of Slight Girliness
Yarn: Patons Diploma Gold 4-ply, 50g of the black and 25-30g of the blue, from Knit2Together/Cucumberpatch in Wolstanton
Needles: 2.0mm double points
Pattern: (what should have been) basic toe-ups

Notes: I started these for The Limey in April. April! I chose the stitch pattern after I saw it on Knitpicks' Mock Croc sock pattern. I've also seen it since in a sock pattern book (maybe in Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks?). The Limey picked out the colours himself. These are the Neverending Socks because of the following:

1) I chose the stitch pattern because I thought it would be less boring than yet another basic rib pattern. Oh, how wrong I was. It's basically a lace rib, which means that it's just as boring as any 3x2 rib would be, except that I can't even mindlessly knit because I have to keep track of rows so I know where to put in the lace round. So it was not a joy to work on.

2) I started these socks toe-up with the Turkish cast-on so I could make the toes asymmetrical, because The Limey has pointy feet. The first try was too pointy. The second try felt a little weird, he said, but maybe it was okay. I merrily knit the rest of the foot, short-rowed the heel, after which he tried it on and said it was too weird and he would prefer a normal rectangular toe. I did not kill him. Eventually I just knit the rest of the sock, unraveled the toe bit, picked up the foot stitches, and knit a rectangular toe down.

3) I had only one ball of the black, which was going to have to do for the main body of both socks. The Limey vetoed a positive/negative coloured pair. So after I'd done the heel of the first sock, I kept thinking, Uh-oh, I'll have to stop soon because I need enough for the second sock. If I still worked in lab, I'd just take the yarn in, weigh it, and stop at 25g, but I have no access to a good balance right now. This went on for months. I'd knit a couple rounds, then stop due to this fear. In the end, I cannibalized some 2.0mm needles from my Print O' The Wave and started the second sock from the other end of the ball of yarn. My estimate was pretty good. By the time the second sock got around to the length of the first, there was only enough black yarn left for another two rows on each sock.

So: the Neverending Socks. Actually, it took me five months to knit just the first one; the second took me four days. And the lace does make them ever-so-slightly girly. But that's okay.

The second WIP I worked on was Print O' the Wave. I started this around the same time I started the Neverending Socks. Firstly, I would like to say right off that it is not my fault that I ran out of yarn. The pattern said I'd need 500 yards of cobweb weight yarn. I had 600m. I checked around everywhere to make sure it was indeed cobweb weight. Not only that, but I actually made the damn thing skinnier. Instead of 4 horizontal repeats in the centre panel, I only did 3. Okay, I made it slighty longer, but that took nowhere near as much yarn as doing all 4 repeats would have. So, once again: not my fault that it looks like this:

See where the needles come out of the knitting? That's how much edging is left to do. See that bit of yarn there at the lower right? That's how much yarn is left.

I've already checked with the Margaret Stove people in New Zealand, where I got the yarn. Obviously the dye lot is long gone, but they do have some of the same colour. So I'll just order a skein of that and hope the difference isn't too glaring. I'm sure it'll be noticeable, but damned if I'm going to frog this.

Monday, September 24, 2007

In denial

Whole shedloads of things have to be done in the next couple of weeks. I've done none of it. I'm in total denial about what I need to do. We need to sort out the move, but we don't have anywhere to move to. We can't find a place to move into in the next few weeks, so we have to find a temporary place. I need to sort out bank accounts and tax numbers (without a permanent address! Ha!). I know I have to do all this but I can't get myself to think about it. It's a kind of mental paralysis.

Every time I try to turn my mind to the whole thing, it starts panicking. If there was a gauge or meter on it, you'd see the needle ramp up to the "Red: danger" zone, so my brain shuts down. A nice, cooling grey film sort of drops over the whole thing. But that background level of panic is still there; I live in a constant state of mild hyperventilation and slightly elevated heart rate. There's a continuous buzzing in my head.

I fear that this is my life for the next month of month and a half.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Two-body problem

You get bonus job hunting stories! Courtesy of The Limey's life. May be boring to some people, but I know I appreciated hearing others' experiences while I was job-hunting and while I was in grad school and post-docing.

A while ago, The Limey applied for a job at a lab on the outskirts of London. It's a great lab, good reputation, and a really good job. A senior scientist position. He thought it was way out of his league- some of the other senior scientists there had been lecturers (lower ranked professors, for the 'Mericans). I convinced him to apply because, really, what did he have to lose? He didn't hear from them for weeks and assumed he hadn't made the cut. (Some places just don't let you know; it's so rude.)

Then he got a phone call asking if they could schedule some phone time to talk to him about the position. I guess the way they phrased it, he figured it would just be a quick chat, maybe to ask for his references and set up an in-person interview. He was happy, but didn't worry about it, so said Sure, I've got time tomorrow afternoon. It turned out to be a full-on formal phone interview. With a four person panel of scientists. They asked him all sorts of questions, ranging from "Where would you get funding for this type of work?" and "Which specific British industries and companies could benefit from this research?" to general physics questions. General physics questions! Like at your dissertation defense and qualifying exams! No one keeps general physics in their heads except for exams! That's what reference books are for!

Obviously, The Limey was in no way prepared. He was depressed for a week afterwards. I told him there was no way anyone could have done well at an interview like that without warning. If they hadn't made it clear that it was a formal interview, what do they expect?

Two weeks later, they called again asking for him to go over there to give a presentation and visit the labs.

Two days ago, they told him he's got the job.

I would like to state here that I take full credit for his getting this job. Every step of the way, he was convinced he wasn't qualified. Despite all evidence to the contrary, he refused to believe that he had the skills and experience they were looking for. You want to have been in this house while he was preparing his presentation. They had given him a few important points they wanted him to cover. These were things post-docs don't usually think about- they were things that concerned people who managed a research group, not the lowly bench workers in the research group. Every day I had to convince him that they obviously felt he had the background to do this. Every day I had to remind him that if they didn't think he could do it, they wouldn't have invited him over for the interview. Every day, he wanted to call them and withdraw his application. Aaargh. Eventually I told him to think of it as practice for other interviews.

Anyway, of course he got the job. He's a genius. I looked over his talk before he went over there- it was really good. It was easily at a senior scientist / lecturer level.

Now, of course, we're all very happy and everything. But we have to find a place to live between London and Southampton. Urrgh. It's looking like...Woking. I know. I know! But there's a direct train to S'hampton and The Limey can drive or train/bike to work. It'll be close to an hour's commute for him and a bit more than an hour for me.

Anyone have advice on how to find a place over there? Also, will the cat be an issue with renting? Freakin' cat. If she weren't so cute, I tell you...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


The whole shebang is on Flickr.

In my defense, Diane asked for it.

Also, photographing the yarn (dang, it's hard) and putting this together meant I didn't have to think about packing and moving for a couple of hours.

Edited to add: I've had a look at other people's stashes, and mine is teeny. Teeny, I tell you. I've only got sweater-sized lots of two yarns. (And, yes, my guess is that I will run out of the Jaeger ExtraFine Merino when I try to make a long-sleeved swingy hooded, cabled cardigan out of the six balls.) The rest is a small stash of sock yarn and random bits. The Limey has nothing to complain about. Nothing!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Dye job

I bought some of Habu's raw silk- wrapped paper (N-24) a month or so ago from Loop. It was white, white, white. In some of these pictures (click to biggerize), you can see the fine silk threads.

I hardly ever wear anything plain and blindingly white, so I thought I'd dye it. After some advice from a few people at SnB and on the Knittyboard, I went with the safe and easy route and bought some Dylon from the Dublin Woollen Mills. The Dylon specifically said it would work for both linen and silk. So after a bath, I got this:

The colour on the picture on the left is closest to the true colour. When I first thought about dyeing it, I wanted a steely-blue-grey. Unfortunately, the Dylon choice of colours is less than vast, so I just went with #16 Slate Grey. Fortunately, it came out almost exactly as I'd wanted. The pictures show it a bit more blue than it really is. But the colour came out beautifully and evenly.

The problem is now: what am I going to do with it? It's like knitting with raffia (if your raffia was hand shredded by Japanese elves and then had silk lovingly wrapped around it by baby pixies) and I don't know if it will soften, although others have said other kinds of Habu linen does soften.

I've googled my little fingers off, but I can't find anyone who's done anything with this yarn, except for the Paper Bag, by Just Call Me Ruby for Knitty. The net-o-sphere and blogoweb have failed me this time. I'd really like to see some other examples of this yarn knitted up, so if anyone knows of any, please point me to it!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Anything for geek love

Yarn: Fyberspates Aran yarn, 100% Bluefaced Leicester Wool, in Teal, from This Is Knit
Needles: 4.0 mm circulars, magic loop
Pattern: the ever popular Fetchings, by Cheryl Niamath for Knitty

Notes: I didn't do these in the recommended Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran because I have a pair made from it last year and it pills like crazy. Not good for the hands. Though the Fyberspates says aran, and the Cashmerino says aran, they are of wildly differing thicknesses. The Fyberspates stuff is much thicker. A heavy aran, maybe? Anyway, I still used the pattern's 4.0 mm needles, resulting in mitts that could be used to deflect bullets, Wonder Woman-like.

These are for my housemate S's new fancy lady. He asked me the other day if I knew where he could get fingerless gloves or mittens, because the FL had mentioned her hands get cold, but she needs her fingers free for work, as she is a professional computer geek. So of course I said, Well, you could buy them, or...And showed him my Fetchings. It takes no time to make a pair, so he accepted my offer to knit some up. I toddled down to Blackrock to get suitable yarn. These pictures make them look bluer than they are. The yarn is quite teal.

(I love this picture. The Limey made me all those origami flowers.)

More likely, this will be their normal environment, though:

Edited to add: Now I've run out of knitting projects. (We shall not mention the WIPs that are like a millstone around my neck.) Ideas? A sweater-size project would be good. Or something that uses up all those single balls of Jaeger 4-ply I got from Jackie in a swap.