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.