Friday, May 30, 2008

A wet weekend

Last weekend, The Limey and I went to the Hay Festival of Literature, held in the teeny Welsh border town of Hay-on-Wye. I experienced a weird kind of nostalgia, being in a country with bilingual signs again.

This was my third time at the festival, and The Limey's first. I love the festival and the other two times I'd been, the weather was lovely. Plenty of clear skies to walk around town and to take hikes around the Beacons. Apparently, I'd been very very lucky- normally the start of the festival was a sign for the heavens to open up.

Well, my luck ran out this year, and it poured and poured. We did get one good day in. The Limey, wet and miserable, kept looking at me and accused me of lying to him in order get him to drive four hours to stay in a wet field with "a bunch of middle-class Guardian readers".*

But, actually, undaunted by the weather, we both really enjoyed the festival. We heard a bunch of panels and talks, from comedians, scientists, story-tellers, economists. Enjoyable and educational, and lots of it.

The festival brought to focus for me something I'd noticed about my reading habits in the past few months. For my first two Hay festivals, the people I most wanted to hear were novelists. They were who I was most interested in. This year, I didn't attend any sessions with novelists. I was most interested in the non-fiction authors; scientists, sociologists, economists especially. This, not surprisingly, pretty much mirrors what I've been reading lately. Lots of popular economics books, some history, some science, interspersed with some Agatha Christie (who won't be speaking anytime soon, eh?).

Overall, I'm reading much less, as well. I'm not sure why. I have the time, certainly. Every once in a while, I pick up some "serious fiction" but then realize I don't have the...emotional patience and energy... required when I really get into a well-written, well-constructed novel. I manage a lot of P.G. Wodehouse and Agatha Christie because I know I won't get emotionally caught up and tangled in them.

Maybe it's a phase.

*Although The Limey staunchly refuses to admit that he's now firmly a member of the middle class, he can't have missed the fact that he's married to a Guardian reader. Willful blindness to the truth.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Too many options, not enough ideas

I'm knitting a lace cardigan from some beautiful Habu Tsumugi Silk (in colour 38, a purply-red) I bought from I Knit London a few months ago. I looked at it for a long time, and decided I wanted a lightweight, wear-everywhere, match-everything casual cardigan for warm weather. Basically to wear over dresses and tanks and stuff. But not as fancy as the black silk Horseshoes Cardigan.

I've finished the back:

I'm halfway through one of the fronts, and am at a decision point: what kind of neckline do I want?

As you may have noticed, I'm quite fond of deep scoop necks (see the Horseshoes Cardigan, the Silk Garden Scoop Neck Pullover and the Scoop Neck Tee). In this case, however, I want to be able to wear it open and closed without the sides flapping about too much.

  • I think probably a normal crew neck (something like the one on the Synergy Cardigan) is the easiest choice, but kinda boring.
  • A V-neck is the next obvious choice, but, again- eh. V-necks look alright on me, but boring again.
  • A really deep v-neck, starting below the boobs and going steeply up to the shoulders?
  • Or a V-neck starting from below the boobs, but stopping a few inches before the shoulders, from where it will go up straight to the top of the shoulders. So it looks like a scoop neck, but with straight lines at the front instead of curved ones. A sweetheart-ish neckline.
So, as I said, I'll have to make a decision on which neckline to do soon. (One of the reasons I knit things in pieces like this is precisely because it gives me time to think about these things. Also, so I can estimate how much yarn I have vs. how much yarn I need.)

I can't get a good picture of the colour of this yarn. It's purpler (yes, that is a word) than the picture above.

After I decide the the neckline, my next question will be what to do with the sleeves.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Summer's here!

Pintuck t-shirt
Yarn: Rowan Bamboo Soft, 6 balls, from Soton John Lewis
Needles: 3.0mm circular Addis
Pattern: my own! Available here, and on Ravelry if you have access

Notes: An exercise to update and feminize the good old t-shirt. Knit in the round, with the cap sleeves picked up around the armscye and knit down using short rows, so no seaming on this one.

The pintuck bib incorporates a dressmaking detail that I love. This detail is picked up in the twisted rib at the hems.

Shaping is done by paired increases and decreases knit as front and back darts. The hem is slightly rounded, again using short rows.

As I've said before, I dig the bamboo yarn. When I was swatching for this one, I tried lots of different yarns, but I just love the softness and drape of bamboo so much I went for it again. The bamboo does stretch slightly from the weight of the finished object, so it ended up a little longer than I'd envisioned. I took this into account when I swatched, so it's not too bad, even after I wore it all day for the picture shoot. I do intend to put in two stabilizing crochet "seams" later, though.

If this weather keeps up, I'll be wearing this lots this summer.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Quick! While summer lasts!

The weather here in this last week has been absolutely glorious. We seized the opportunity (who knows how long it may last?) and, on Saturday, took a trip to the Great British Seaside.

I loved Brighton (the San Francisco of England!). The beach, though, not quite the same.

That look on my face? Due to two things: that water is cold! And the beach is stony. Not rocky, not sandy- stony. It had stones and shells just the right size and lumpy shape that it hurt to walk on it. People did their promenading on the paved bit parallel to the beach.

On Sunday, with the weather still gorgeous, we took a picnic to Kew Gardens. We chose a nice, shady spot in the quiet walled garden bit.

This was also the day I discovered I've turned into my mother:

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Ouch, that hurts

You'd think I'd be used to rejection by now, what with all that job searching last year, but no.

My submission for the summer Knitty has just been rejected. It stings, I tell you.

Well, since it's all written up and everything, I'll put it out there anyway. I just have to check everything and reformat.

Boy, this blog in the last couple weeks has been all "Boo hoo, poor me," hasn't it? I'll slap myself out of it soon.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

What's a peripatetic scientist to do?

The last few weekends have been quite busy socially for me and The Limey. Weddings, birthday parties, Easter celebrations- all invitations from The Limey's university friends who live in London now, or at least down south. He reconnected with a bunch of them after moving back to the UK. They're lovely people; nice, fun, really friendly to me and great about making me feel like one of the group, even though they've all known each other for a decade and I've never met most of them more than once or twice.

Although I enjoy hanging out with them, and of course I like seeing The Limey happy at meeting up with old friends again, it really emphasizes the fact that I have no friends here. It's all this moving around every few years business. Also, although I was never one to make friends easily in the first place, I think, as I get older, I'm finding it even harder. I have less patience for the awkward beginning stages of friendship, and the actual working at making friends thing. Also, I grow more and more comfortable in my own company and doing my own thing, so it's easier for me to just not make the effort. Obviously, this is bad, and contributes to my becoming a bitter misanthrope who can't be bothered to interact with people. More importantly, it means I have no friends to go shopping with and stay up late drinking far too much wine with.

At least when I was still in some form of schooling, there were my classmates, and seeing them regularly helped to form friendships. At work, it's a little more awkward. Now, it's lots more difficult, because I don't even live in the same town as my work colleagues. I try to stay for drinks or whatever after work, but I'm always having to catch a train, so I never go out to dinner with them, or get to the Sunday pub quiz, or get together with them outside of work hours.

I don't know if it's solely a problem with me, either. I mean, most of the people at work hang out with other people from work. Aside from a few people who have lived in the city for years and years, the ones who have moved there for the job in the last few years mostly seem to stick together.

Something has to be done, but I'm not sure what.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Hell. Yeah.

Bayerische Socks
Yarn: Lang Jawoll, two skeins, with just a bit left over
Needles: 2.0mm dpns
Pattern: Bayerische Socks by Eunny Jang

Notes: Avrienne and Lien guessed correctly- these are the wonderful, wonderful Bayerische socks.

You can't ever say Eunny doesn't pay attention to details. You can see how the ribbing at the cuff flows nicely into the cabling of the leg. The motif at the side of the leg splits at the gusset/heel, with a perfect half travelling down the foot. You can't see it as well here, but the cabling pattern also flows beautifully into the slipped stitch heel flap.

I only did two repeats of chart D for the leg, instead of the four that Eunny had knit. I was afraid of running out of yarn. For the record, I have a UK4.5/EU38/US7 size foot, and two repeats of chart D in the leg and four repeats in the foot gives me a comfortable bit of yarn left over. I could probably have safely done one more repeat in the leg.

These socks were fun to knit, and are just beautiful. They look great on the foot, and I just keep staring at them, marvelling at those travelling twisted stitches.

I've just realized that, out of the four pairs of socks I've knit for myself, three of them are based on twisted stitches. The very first pair is the exception- I was just learning how to knit socks so they are plain stockinette. But the second pair was the Snicket socks, which are twisted stitches against a purl background. Then, of course, came the spectacular Pomatomus socks, which are knit in a twisted shell rib. Apparently, I really like twisted stitches.