Archive for March, 2009

the bees knee-dlesMy daughter dropped the knitting needles of the friend who got me started, and the stoppers broke. I decided that it was no job for glue: this needed Fimo. I liked the results, but then I had second thoughts (perhaps they are too heavy and/or too twee?) and so I bought new replacement needles for her. We’re keeping these.

Meanwhile, I think I just had a fabulous idea to combine my current obsessions.

If I knit a few swatches of different yarns, and then sandwich them between layers of glass, I can see what interesting results I can come up with. The possibilities are probably far greater than the reality will prove, but it has to be worth a try. Putting anything between glass like that is a tricky prospect: anything could happen, depending on how it combusts, how much air is trapped, what gases might be released… You can have a ghost image of your original object, bubbles, nothing at all…

Maybe the different fibers will react in different ways. This could be another way – not useful to the majority, I know – to test that unknown ball of “wool”. I know it won’t get into the knitting manuals: “Take your sample, layer it between glass and heat over six hours to 1400°. Cool for another six hours. Check results.” But, well – I’ll have a better idea once I’ve tried. Right now I’m envisaging elaborate tableware or coaster sests with a series of different lace patterns, or a service whereby people would send me their swatch (say of the wedding shawl they made) and I would return it included (in the technical sense of the term) in a bowl. But, I am getting ahead of myself. As I said, inclusions are notoriously quixotic.

I’m off to try a couple, though. Bt which glass to use? I could use the nice Bullseye, or some cheaper float (window) glass, although that has the disadvantage of softening at higher temperatures. I guess I should try both. A swatch of swatches? A meta-swatch?

Also, I’ve been stroking the angora I got on eBay a few weeks ago. I’m working up to winding it. And then working up to working out what to do with it (beyond stroking).

pet angora

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The Beloved was off to South Africa for a couple of weeks on Sunday. Firstly, it had to be Sunday and not Saturday because of the priority of watching the finale to the season’s Six Nations. Which was very thrilling, but ultimately disappointing for Wales. Well, never mind: at least they won’t have to struggle from under the muffling mantle of favorites next year.

nice foot at leastSecondly, I had to finish his socks in time for him to give them a wearing before leaving. Now he was not to be allowed to take them with him (he said it was too hot anyway), in case they fell foul of The Infamous Washing Disaster of Johannesburg, an incident involving a less-than-state-of-the-art machine and an operator unprimed in the delicate matter of handling hand-made socks. So they were finished for good or ill by the Knitting Dervish of legend, on Saturday morning and presented to the Beloved’s feet. He said they were going to be too hot (it having been unaccountably, confusingly, but short-lived-ly spring-like), but upon receipt of an appropriate look, he demurred and on they went. I think they went down fairly well.

Sock A was truly rubbish: holey crap, in fact. Sock A was so terrible it needed darning before it could be put on, and that was only so it was a plausible match for Sock B. Now Sock B was preferable, by far, and at least could be called a sock instead of a waste of good wool, but it was hardly the dizziest height of elegant hosiery. Sock C (ongoing at the moment) is as superior to Sock B as Sock B was to Sock A.

terrible sockI should really have taken a photograph of Sock A before it received the ministrations of the darning needle: it was sadly comical. The sock equivalent of two-year-old finger-painting. My father – cruel man – on spotting it on a recent (rare) visit declared that he would be throwing away a sock with that many holes in it. Very witty. But he won’t be getting socks from me anytime soon. Unless he begs. Which I have to admit is unlikely. It is actually still pretty terrible. See this? How bad is this? I also had to warn the Beloved that they might not be his socks forever. Who knows what will happen to them? I think the gauge is too loose, so they might just streeeetch impossibly; they might shrink in the wash. They might do the former and then have the latter done unto them in a desperate remedial – or retaliatory – gesture… I will anyway do him better ones some day.

sock cIn my own defense, I feel it only fair to give a foretaste of Sock C: altogether better. I don’t think I’ve managed to drop any stitches (yet) and there are no great gaping holes (or none worth mentioning). I think I have benefited from experience – the joy of still being at the Early Learner Exponential Improvement stage of socks – and smaller needles. Yes! Half the size of porcupine I was using before. Size 3 (3.25mm) has given way to size 2 (2.75) and the result looks altogether sturdier. I’ve also gone for 1 x 1 ribbing instead of 2 x 2 (but I still “cheated” and did that part on straights. Hey: it works for me, OK).

I quite like this sock thing at the moment. I can see how it could get addictive. Where next? A pattern? Maybe.  Let’s finish Sock C first. Oh – and Sock D, too.

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I’m getting very excited about my Frank Lloyd Wright mirror (or do I mean, my ‘Apologies to Frank Lloyd Wright’ mirror?).

Frank Lloyd Wright mirror in progress

The first thing I should say is that I was astounded at how fast this project came together. Good old geometrics. Fast, fast cutting. Slow, slow deciding on the final color scheme though: there was an abrupt change of plan in the larger (now purple, once opal/iridescent white) squares and the (now dusky pink, once planned as clear textured) area immediately bordering the mirror. Now it is the way it is, I can’t imagine what I was thinking of before. I suppose it’s proof that you need to keep  your thinking flexible, and that it might – just might- be a good idea to do a colored version of the initial sketch. Ahh…

The second thing is that leading up geometrics is both easier and harder than leading curves. It’s technically less complex, but boy, are any mistakes more obvious. Straight lines, anyone? Sure they’re straight? Quite sure that wherever you’ve used the “well, I didn’t cut that piece the right size but the lead will hide it” strategy, that strategy has really worked? Certain that, having carefully soldered the lead on the one side (taking pains to shove all the lines truly vertical as you go along), no “just slightly small”  pieces of glass are going to fall out as you turn it over to solder the other side?

The third thing is that I’m reminded quite how shockingly, embarrassingly, I love lead. I mean, I lurve it, I ♥ it. It is deeply, viscerally satisfying stuff. The way it bends, but without being floppy or flimsy; the just yielding bite it has when you cut it with the lead knife; the denseness of it. I am occasionally tempted to just try the tiniest nibble, despite the fact that I know lead poisoning is no joke, and I must resist the urge. But I wonder what it would be like…? Probably not at all bad. After all, the Romans used it to flavor wine, and one of the reasons it was always such a menace in paint was that children used to find that lead gave the paint an attractive (or not unattractive) sweetness unleaded paint apparently does not possess (which is why fewer kids now gnaw the skirting boards than they used to in the dangerous old days). But, I have to say, it is a delight to work with. And yes, I am good and careful to wash my hands before I go and pick up my little one from the on-site creche after handling it.

So, anyway: the mirror is nearly done. I have cemented one side, and cleaned it, and hopefully this week I’ll get a chance to cement the other side. Clean it, black it and bring that baby home. I can’t wait. Even though there is cementing to be done between now and then. And as much as I enjoy leading, I cordially loathe cementing. When they bring back slaves, can I have a cementing slave please?

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