Welcome to the home of my musings about knitting :)

Monday, September 27, 2004

The Civil Aviation Authority strike again

As some of you know, in a couple of weeks I will be taking a quick trip to the US :)

What better way to use up 8 hours of flying time than some solid knitting, I thought to myself. So I sent BA a quick e.mail to make sure it would be OK to take my knitting needles in my hand luggage, as I knew that there were some problems with that straight after 9/11.

This is the response I got:

"Dear Ms Atropos,

Recent Government directives have increased security activity at airports worldwide. BA is committed to remaining a safe and secure airline, the safety of our passengers, crew and aircraft is paramount. The normal security measures applied to aircraft departing from the UK and to UK registered airlines operating worldwide are amongst the highest in the world.

The following items are strictly forbidden to be carried on board the cabin of any BA aircraft:

Toy or replica guns, household cutlery, catapults, steel nail files, knives with any length blade, razor blades (non-safety), paper knives, darts, sporting bats/clubs, knitting needles, billiard/snooker/pool cues, darts, catapults, scissors of any size, tradesmen's tools, corkscrews with blades attached, hypodermic syringes (except with written evidence of medical need), any other article which the airport authority considers might be used, or could be adapted, for causing injury or incapacitation of a person.

If you are carrying any of the above items (with the exception of hypodermic needles when proven to have a medical need for it/them) will be asked to place it in their hold baggage/suitcase. If you only have hand baggage then you will be asked to hand over the restricted item for disposal by British Airways. "

This is what I wrote in response:

"Dear Crazy Airline People,

Curses! You have foiled my evil plans. I may look like a mild-mannered 30-something chartered accountant but you have uncovered my cunning super villain plot to take over the world using only 2mm knitting needles. I will now be forced to resort to Plan B which involves global domination through the use of a pair of stilleto heels and the contents of my pencil case, neither of which I see are on your prohibited list.

Mwa ha ha

Mwa ha,

Yours sincerely,


Well, to be truthful that's what I wanted to write in response. Anyone who thinks it's possible to threaten the security of a plane with a pair of Addi Turbos might not see the funny side of the above I imagine. So it looks like it's the inflight movie for me *le sigh*

Knitting wise I decided to take a break from socks and blankets, and am currently racing through a felted bag in the following yarn:

Noro Kureyon 181 Posted by Hello

It's for RLBF for Christmas. I've based it on the Booga Bag pattern but changed the dimensions so it should come out a slightly more practical size. If I have enough yarn left I might add Sophie's handles instead of the normal Booga Bag ones just to make a change. I do love these projects. It's so nice just to knit and knit, watching the stripes form and always thinking "just a little bit more and then I'll *insert chore that I am supposed to be doing instead of knitting*". Fun knitting is good knitting in my book.

In other more curious news, my sidebar seems to have disappeared. I hope this isn't permanent - I was just getting it the way I liked it. Anyone have any ideas as to where it might have got to? And while I'm on the subject, does anyone know where to get those nifty % completion bars for works in progress? I fancy installing those next.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Not strictly knitting, but still quite cool

So, at the weekend RLBF & I went down to West Dean College for a 2 day course entitled 'An Introduction to Batik'. Neither of us had ever done it before and we both thought it sounded interesting, so off we went.

It turned out to be excellent fun, and just the sort of technique that shouts out at you to try all kinds of things and see how they turn out. Once we understood the basics we both went a little crazy and produced loads of different bits of fabric just because we could. I like that sort of creativity sometimes.

Anyway, the way batik works is that you start (usually) with a white piece of cotton, and some melted wax. Then you use a brush, or a special tool called a tjanting to wax over the parts of the fabric that you want to leave white. Once the wax is dry you then apply your first layer of pale dye. You can dip dye the whole thing at every stage if you want to, but we were painting the dye on much as you would in silk painting. Then, once that's dry, more wax followed by darker dye colours and so on and so on until you are happy with the finished result.

Then you cover the whole thing in wax, crumple it and put it into a suitably coloured dye bath to make the mottled veiny effect that's typical of batik. Of course you don't have to do that part if you don't want to, but I thought it tied most pieces together really well. Plus the fact that it was a fun part to do because it was super-messy.

Then you iron out most of the wax from the fabric, and you are left with your final creation. Some wax remains in the fabric unless you wash it, meaning that the cotton becomes quite a lot stiffer than it was before you started.

So what did I make? The first piece was a sampler, just to get used to the tools and the dyes and the technique in general.

Not too bad, I thought. I am particularly fond of the 70's ish section with the squares and the huge swirls in the top right hand corner.

Then I was inspired by a postcard that I happened to have in my sketchbook of this painting by Matisse:

Polynesie, Le Ciel

That lead to this piece below (which sadly Mr A has photographed upside down, but you can't have everything). This has four layers of dye applied to the fabric, with two birds left completely white and all the other birds and sea creatures waxed onto the second or third layers. I'm not quite sure why my piece turned out so green, when the postcard is clearly of the sky. I don't think it really matters though. I finished this piece off by cracking it and dip dying in a vivid purple, which has made a great mottled background. I like it, even if it's not traditional for the sky to be green.

Matisse on CRAX

Then I went a bit crazy with masking tape and red and orange dyes...

And finally I decided to produce some fabric that I might be able to use in one of my knitted bag projects and I came up with this:

Posted by Hello

Could be a fun lining, don't you think?

If you ever get a chance to try batik out I recommend that you give it a go. RLBF & I really enjoyed it, and it's quite easy to get very pleasing results without necessarily having to be highly skilled at drawing or design.

Friday, September 17, 2004

How long is it possible for one woman's craft queue to be?

When I went away last weekend, one of my friends brought Rowan 34 with her. I managed to prize it out of her fingers long enough for a browse and ended up falling in love with two projects. I would love to make both of these some time this autumn / winter but the end of my craft queue is so far away from my needles that they'll be lucky to make it up to the top before 2006.

(Unless of course they jump the queue - heh, heh, heh)

First up is this wonderful cardigan in Rowan Felted Tweed and Kidsilk Haze. I just love the frills around the cuff. Smart enough for work but cozy for around the house, I thought.

I can see I am going to have fun choosing what colours to do this in. I quite like the combination that they have used in the pattern actually (which is KSH - 588 Drab and FT 147 Dragon). But I am very drawn to FT 152 Watery. The question is what to pair this with. KSH 601 Khaki maybe? Or 605 Smoke? Hhm. Looks like I shall have to make yet another 'research' trip to John Lewis to compare yarn shades.

That is bound to be a great hardship ;)

The only thing that I am not entirely enamoured with when it comes to this pattern is its name. She answers to "Elfin", apparently. Sadly I passed the 'elfin' stage at the age of about 12 and currently inhabit the 'slightly plump' category. Well, as long as nobody rechristens her "Elephantine" I think I can probably live with it.

The other pattern I fell in love with was this Birch shawl, again in Kidsilk Haze. Yeah, I know, everyone's knitting this. But that's no reason that I can't knit it as well, right?

Birch Posted by Hello

I think I might try and adapt the pattern to make it a rectangular wrap rather than a triangular shawl, as that somehow seems more practical. I'd love to knit this for my grandmother for Christmas, maybe in KSH 589 Majestic, or KSH581 Meadow. The only question is whether or not I'd have the stamina afterwards to knit it again for myself. I think mine might have to be in KSH 585 Nightly :)

I need more knitting hours in the day.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

In which normal service is resumed

How can it be 11 days since I had anything to say about knitting? I find that very strange. The only excuses I can offer are a rather rampant illness that laid me low last week and the generally hectic tone of my life. Feeble, I know, but they're the best excuses I've got.

Looking on the bright side, an 11 day gap means that I have a lot to say over the next few days :) There'll be progress reports on ongoing projects, and undoubtedly some squeeing over new patterns that are joining my craft queue. But first I must present progress to date on my first pair of Christmas socks (intended as a gift for a dear friend from University). I have christened them Harvest because of the rather autumnal way the yarn is knitting up.

So, what to say about this project?

  • The yarn is Apple Butter from http://www.applelaine.com in a wonderful shade called Earthly Delight. I am finding it really soothing to knit with, although it splits slightly more often than the Opal or Regia sock yarns that I have used before. The wonderful colours and softness more than make up for that though.
  • The shape of the sock looks a little odd because I am using a mock cable lace pattern that I found in the Koigu fun socks booklet. When the sock is worn, the pattern will look something like this :

I'm really pleased with how effective that is, and it's very simple to do. Maybe I'll summon up enough courage to do proper cabling on the next pair.

  • Rather than using the heelflap method set out in the Koigu pattern I decided to go crazy and try my hand at the short row method. The only instructions I had for this sort of heel were ones that I got free with the last ball of Regia that I bought, and it was soon very clear that they had originally been written in German. But I persevered, and ended up with this:

Posted by Hello

Not too bad for a first try, I thought. I've still got a bit of work to do in perfecting my stitch wrapping to prevent eyelets forming, but the basic method doesn't scare me any more.

So there we are. One Christmas sock nearly done, only another gajillion to go :)

Saturday, September 04, 2004

In which Atropos is excessively diverted

I was wandering around the internet earlier looking at the various free knitting patterns on offer and came across something that made me laugh like an idiot. So much so, I thought I'd share.

(Apologies to all non-Potter knitters who will have absolutely NO IDEA what I am about to go on about, but trust me - this is funny.)

I present to you ..... the perfect yarn for all your Harry Potter knitting needs:

Posted by Hello

I kid you not. It's made by Bernat and comes in some quite interesting colours. This is probably the part where you say "Yes, Atropos, we know all about that. SOX yarn is on the shelf of every yarn shop in the US" but really I don't care. I'm still highly amused by it.

Just so this post has some actual content, can I recommend that you check out www.bernat.com if you haven't done so already. If you join as a member (which takes 30 secs and is free) you get access to a good range of free patterns, including one for stripy SOX which I think I am going to adapt to make Mr A's 'Denis the Menace' pair when they reach the top of the craft queue.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

In which the folly of knitting in the dark is uncovered

Not too much knitting progress to report for this weekend due to the fact I was camping in a field with 17,000 other people for most of it. So I thought I would show where I was up to on my latest knit while watching the TV project. It's a baby blanket I am knitting for my new nephew/niece due in December

The pattern is 'borrowed' from a Debbie Bliss book that I was flicking through the last time I was in John Lewis looking at the yarn. It's basically a moss stitch panel in the centre in pale grey-blue with a darker blue garter stitch border (3 stitches and 4 rows wide). The yarn is Rowan wool cotton, which is lovely and soft. The moss stitch is also pleasingly nubbly, and the use of only moss and garter stitches makes the blanket reversable. I'm pleased what I've made so far but it is taking quite a while. I'm going to need to watch lots of films in the run up to Christmas to get this one finished in time.

But what has this got to do with knitting in the dark, I hear you ask? Well, I started this blanket in a fit of excitement on the very same day that I bought the wool, a couple of Saturdays ago. Mr A & I were just sitting down to watch a couple of films, which seemed like the perfect time to produce the first couple of inches, which I duly did. Mr A likes to watch films in the dark, but I was sure that wouldn't be a problem with such a simple pattern so I carried on regardless. Sadly I had to pay for it the next day. When I say this blanket is reversible, of course what I mean is 'practically reversible'. You can see from the picture below that you do get a little bit of interweaving of the two yarn colours on the blanket's wrong side as you twist the two yarns together to change from one to the other.

Posted by Hello

In my enthusiasm I had forgotten to allow for this, and had the crossover for the bottom edge on one side of the blanket and the crossovers for the side edges on the other. Doh!

I only noticed this on Sunday morning when I came to look at my work in the daylight. I looked and looked. And then unravelled the whole thing because I couldn't bear it. I reknit everything I had done later that day but it's still a bit frustrating. You live and learn I suppose :)