Monday, 31 December 2007

Fifteen Knitters on a Dead Man's Chest

Well hello there, and I hope you all had a peaceful and enjoyable Christmas. I have been fortunate enough to be on holiday now since the 21st December, so I have comfortably settled into a routine of waking up late, sitting around with a cup of coffee and browsing the web. I am so not looking forward to the hideous awakening at 6.00 am on 2nd January and the realisation that I actually have to get up NOW and go to work.

Enough of these horrors, dear reader. As you can see, I have been using some of my time productively. The Skully Knucks are finished, and very nice they look too, at least I think so.

Triumph of the season, here are the finished Father and Son socks.

I have knitted a second set of repeats on Catbert's Diamond Fantasy scarf. She said coldly as she departed here after Christmas, having seen the state of it "well, perhaps it can be finished for my NEXT birthday". Well, perhaps.

And I have not been able to resist the temptation to cast on for the Snowflake Socks which are the December pattern from Sockamania. What am I like! I am using some Cygnet wool rich 4 ply in Lilac as the main colour, and a ball of Opal Lollipop as the contrast colour. The contrast is quite subtle, but I think will look very nice when finished. I am going to do one snowflake band around the top and a snowflake on the heel flap, I think.

I have been playing with teaching myself continental knitting over the Christmas break. I have mastered the knit stitch well enough to use it for the colourwork on both the Knucks and the Snowflake sock, so I have been knitting them with one colour in each hand, which is quite efficient. I have been practising knitting the Continental way with just one colour, as well, and I have mixed feelings about it. I have been knitting the Other Way (lever action I think my style is called, so not actually throwing, but yarn in the right hand)since I was five, so this new way feels a little awkward, but I suppose practice makes perfect. My tension is not so even with the new way as with the old, and there are some things (like ribbing, for example) which I know how to do easily with the old way but can't really work out with the new. I'm not even sure the new way will be faster, but having started to learn it I am reluctant to give up without mastering it and knitting something significant with it. I think what I really need is a tutorial from an experienced continental knitter. Any volunteers out there?

Right, better stop procrastinating and get on, I've got loads of stuff to do this morning and I haven't even had my second cup of coffee yet.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Bonsoir from Paris

Tonight's post is brought to you from The Hotel Mercure, Massy Palaiseau, as I am in Paris for a business meeting tomorrow. It is now possible to connect to the internet in a hotel room through WiFi, which is very civilised. I had a moment of panic when I realised that I wanted to post photos of some of my WIPs, and I had not brought my camera. However, I do have a mobile phone. So these photos are taken on my mobile phone and then transferred to the PC and uploaded to the internet. Isn't technology amazing!
The light here is poor, although notice how I've cleverly improvised with some sheets of white A4, and the resolution perhaps not what readers of the Knitbert Principle have come to expect, but I think you can get the idea.

I should be knitting Catbert's Diamond Fantasy scarf, and indeed I have made progress! The colours have not come out at all well, but you can see it is bigger than before. Unfortunately, I seem to have got distracted by this fun item:

The glove pattern is Knucks, and I found the skull chart here. Well, I fancied trying some colourwork, what can I say? The yarn is assorted acrylic from my stash. They're cool though, don't you think?

I do have an Important Announcement to make - I have finished the Father and Son Socks!I do not yet have a photo, but I will add one when I get home. I started them in March, and they are my second and indeed I think we can safely say final pair in 2007. I did rather overestimate how many pairs of socks I could knit in a year. Not even a bronze medal from the Crafty Threads and Yarns Sock a Month *hangs head in shame*
Oh well, I think in the New Year I'll look through the Sockamania archives and try some of Anni's lovely patterns.

Monday, 10 December 2007

The Past Is A Foreign Country

A friend of mine from a long time ago invited me to see his facebook album today. He is someone who takes lots of photos, and when he was a student the wall of his room was covered with portraits of his friends. He has now scanned and uploaded over a hundred photographs of us all at University, including some of me. The photo at the top was taken after a formal dinner in the month of May, when I was 21. I wasn't sure it was of me at first, but there were some others taken at the same time which show what I am wearing, and I recognise the dress, which was white cotton with flowers painted on it. I remember it because I spilled red wine on it that very evening and I never wore it again.
I think I look quite calm and collected in that photo, as if I knew what was going on and where I was going with my life, but in fact nothing could be further from the truth.

There are also some other photographs of the college, this time taken in winter. I had forgotten that it snowed in winter in those days, but looking at these photographs I remember the biting cold, freezing feet trudging through the snow, wearing layers of thick sweaters to keep warm and toasting bread on the end of a fork around the gas fire.

"The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there."
L. P. Hartley ['The Go-Between', 1953]

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Memory Lane - December

This year has been a year of journeys and discovery, both geographically and otherwise. And that's all I'm saying. So this month I have decided to show some slide shows of the places and people I visited this year. As there are so many to show, I will put a new one up each weekend until Christmas.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

WIP It, WIP It....

Well, dear reader, I had nearly finished the Father and Son socks and was all ready to start decisively knitting Ivy with the red Berlaine when I unaccountably got distracted. The weekend before last, I went to a meet up of members of the Crafty Threads and Yarns Forum. We had a lovely day, and a delicious lunch, all organised by Granny Smith. Here is everyone chatting and knitting away.

There was also yarn for sale, I'm sorry to say. Here's what I bought:

L to R: laceweight and hand dyed sock yarn from Bright Dyes, even more lovely laceweight from Yarnaddict Yarns, and a gorgeous Merino Tencel sock yarn from the Yarn Yard. The fibre at the front is the result of my first attempt at spinning with a drop spindle. It's pretty pants, isn't it? I enjoyed trying it though.
I wanted to get started on knitting some of this,and I even worked out what pattern I would use with the Yarn Yard Merino/ Tencel.
Then I remembered that it is nearly Christmas, and I ought to be knitting Catbert a scarf, which I actually promised her for her birthday (which was in May). So I cast on, and here it is - the Sivia Harding Diamond Fantasy scarf, in a skein of Lucy Neatby Celestial Merino Dream, shade Fiery Fuschia.

I'm really enjoying knitting it because the colours are so lovely. And I will so finish the socks. And knit Ivy. And knit my merino/tencel lace scarf. And....OK, I'm off to do some actual knitting now.

Friday, 16 November 2007

A Touch of Frost

This week, in the morning, the roof I can see from my kitchen window was covered in a thick rime of frost, as was my car. I recently acquired a new car, and I have sold the old one to DSoK the Intern. Well, when I say "sold" - he owes me the money for the car and his insurance, road fund, MoT and service. He's a student, you see. I should do a deal like this every day, I'd be rich in no time...
Anyway, the car I "sold" had a scraper for the ice and a car vacuum in the boot. It still does in fact. MY car, on the other hand, does not. I mentioned to DSoK that I would quite like to have these items back. He laughed, and said, "you need to chill, Mum". I tried to scrape the ice off today with my Tesco Clubcard, and it sort of worked, but the signature on the back is a bit blurry now. I think I'll need to buy a proper scraper. Maybe DSoK could get me one for Christmas!

I promised photos of my Ally Pally acquisitions, and here they are. Two gorgeous skeins of laceweight from Cherry Tree Hill - in shades Serengeti and Fall Foliage.

The red is a merino mohair mix boucle from Touch Yarns, and is the same kind of yarn I bought in Auckland earlier in the year, but in a different colour.

I think the Fall Foliage CTH would make a lovely Leaf Lace shawl - one day.
I'm focusing on finishing WIPs and knitting from stash at the moment. Thanks to a swimming gala I have one of the Father and Son Socks finished now, and the other is well over half way. The next project to be finished will be my Mystery Stole 3, I think - or Swan Lake as I now know it to be. Another project which is capturing my imagination at the moment is my crochet granny square cushion cover, because the colours are so nice.
And - a decision - I am going to knit another Ivy with the red Berlaine. I'm swatching now...

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Still Knitting After All These Months

Despite many distractions over the last few months, I have been steadily knitting away at my Colinette waffle throw, which is now finished. You can see it in use on my sofa in the photo above. Here it is from the back:

This throw is from the Toast and Marmalade book, and I found it to be a straightforward knit which was good to carry around for knitting at events and in odd moments.

I have only got five or is it six WIPs at the moment, so I have gone straight on to Mr Knitbert's socks (which I started in March, in New Zealand) and we'll take it from there. Here's the two socks, I knitted them both on two circulars until I got to the heel flap and then it seemed simpler to knit one at a time.

It is now getting cold and dark in the mornings and evenings, and I am experiencing a desire to knit warm winter sweaters. I would like to start Poppy, which I have a bag of lovely Noro for, and I also have a strong desire to knit a Central Park Hoodie in my lovely red Donegal Tweed, and a Bergere de France cable sweater, in some lovely soft red Berlaine.

Then this weekend I visted Catbert and we went shopping together. I found a nice wrap top in a lovely apple green, but it was not as nice as the Ivy I knitted at the beginning of the year. I decided I would like to get some more Patons Diploma Gold in Thyme, and knit another one, but John Lewis did not have any in the right colour. Then I thought perhaps, in the spirit of stashbusting, I would knit another one in my red Berlaine. I formed a cunning plan to knit the BdF cable sweater in some very nice pale mauve possum merino yarn I purchased in New Zealand, instead. However, then I realised I still won't have a green wrap top, so maybe I will have to buy some Patons DG anyway. Oh well...

I went to the Knitting and Stitching show at Ally Pally a few weeks ago, and bought some gorgeous Cherry Tree Hill laceweight merino (only £18 per skein, how could I not?) and some Touch Yarns boucle in a delightful red colour. Photos of those next time. Oh yes, and I bought a kit from The African Fabric Shop to make a quilt (see sidebar for their website). Their fabrics are stunning, and as you can imagine I desperately need another addictive craft hobby.

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Normal service is about to resume...

I'm working on a new post, honest I am. I just need photos! I've even finished knitting something.
I also had a knitting disaster - I have LOST a Clapotis. I wore my lovely soy silk Clapotis to work one day a few weeks ago, and I went out to lunch wearing it. When I went to leave the office that evening, I couldn't find it. I have phoned and been back to the place where I had lunch, and they do not have it and do not remember seeing it left behind. So, I don't know what has become of it. I hope it has gone to a good home. I am rather sad about it, because it was a lovely soft colour and it went with lots of things, and if I knit another I think I will do a different colour, so I will probably never have a chocolate soy silk Clapotis again.
I guess I'll have to be more careful in future.

Sunday, 26 August 2007

An Age of Elegance

The week in Singapore has flashed past, and I can hardly believe that it is over and that we are heading home. I have relaxed by the pool at the hotel, been to lunch and then to dine at Boat Quay, shopped at some more lovely shopping malls, visited Raffles Hotel and been to the Night Safari, which was fantastic.

Singapore is just a really nice place and I have had a lovely relaxing holiday. The top photo is of the entrance to Raffles Hotel, which is a lovely old building with a great atmosphere.

Here's me in front of the hotel:

This is Mr Knitbert at Raffles, looking elegant on the staircase up to the shops:

We had lunch in the courtyard, which was very pleasant,

and I saw this (I think) mynah bird playing in the fountain.

After lunch we went to the Raffles museum, which is fascinating and full of memorabilia and photos of people who have stayed at Raffles over the years.

Here's the pool at our hotel:

and here I am relaxing beside it with my crochet (which has made good progress, I have finished one skein of Tao now):

The Night Safari is out of the town centre and was just fabulous. It starts after dark, and is basically like a huge zoo or wildlife park full of nocturnal animals from Singapore, India, Africa and Malaysia. It is very dimly lit, so I have not had much luck with photos, but there are a couple I will show you. It is just very atmospheric and really interesting to see the animals at night. I recommend it to anyone. The park also includes the last remaining rainforest in Singapore.

Anyway, here is a photo Mr Knitbert took, of a lake which was lovely and peaceful and you can see the water is still and there are reflections of the trees in the water.

and here is Mr Knitbert at the entrance to the park:

I asked Mr Knitbert what he had in his pocketses and he said if he told me he'd have to shoot me. And Jacquie's really scary story about hair had me worried! But I'm safely home as I finish this post and so far it seems to be OK....

Before I conclude, I'd like to thank the lovely Maid of Flitwick for nominating me for a Rockin' Girl Blogger award. I'm thinking about who to nominate in my turn.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Bad Hair Season

Today I am posting from Singapore, where I have been since Sunday (morning for you, afternoon for me). It is a very nice place, clean and safe and full of greenery, water and some rather large shopping malls. This photo is of me outside our hotel. It is rather hot here and very humid, which is a nightmare for my hair. As some of you have noticed, I have recently been straightening my naturally curly hair. Normally it is fine all day as the air is not too humid at home, but here, as soon as I step outside the hotel airconditioning my hair starts inexorably to twist into corkscrew curls. So I have to take all the photos of me very early in the morning, just after my hair has been styled and before it has begun to frizz.

Here are Mr Knitbert and I on our way to the beach.

Here is the water's edge, and me drinking a smoothie which I had just bought. Mr Knitbert was having a 2-scoop ice cream, but his photo is not very flattering.

So far I have been shopping in some great big malls, walked along the beach and had lunch in a little beach side restaurant, and been to Chinatown and bought some silk brocade. This afternoon I went on an amphibious bus, which was once a landing craft in WW2, and which drives around part of the tour and then goes into the water and floats for the other part. Unfortunately I let Mr Knitbert (who has to work in the afternoon and evening) leave with the camera, so I don't have any photos of that bit.

In the evening, I thought it would be good to do some exercise, so I have signed up for a week's membership at a nearby fitness club and I have been going to yoga classes. They are called "hot yoga" and this is because they are done in a room which is heated to about 28C, so you sweat buckets but it helps to stretch your muscles. The level is also fiendishly difficult, and as I have not done yoga for a few years (although I do Pilates) I now have muscles aching in bizarre places. On the other hand, my spine is very flexible!

I have been getting on with my crochet project from Colinette, the Sweet Chestnut scarf from the Arboretum book.

It is in TAO silk, which is gorgeous to work with, in colourway moss. It is probably the most complicated crochet design I have done so far and I am coping with it OK, so I am rather pleased with myself.

I have got my Mystery Stole with me, and am plodding through Clue 2, but I feel more like doing the scarf right now, so that's what I am going with.

I do also have a pair of Mr Knitbert's unfinished socks with me (unfinished since March, that is) and the crochet squares I was doing on the flight to New Zealand, which will one day become a cushion cover. No, really!

Thursday, 16 August 2007

A Tale of Two Routers

About four weeks ago now, Mr Knitbert set off for another stay in a luxurious hotel in Singapore, where he claims to be working. For the first week all was well chez Knitbert, I worked my way through the enormous backlog of washing up and washing which Mr Knitbert and DSoK had left behind, and in the evening I logged onto my trusty laptop, and sometimes I even did some knitting.

Then, one evening, I logged into my laptop and opened an Internet Explorer window, and it told me that the page could not be displayed and the most likely explanation was that I was not connected to the internet. The router does sometimes drop out, so I entered the router IP address intending to go to the router configuration page and reconnect. To my astonishment the browser could not access the router's own home page. I was bemused. How is such a thing possible? I checked the wireless networks available and our home network just was not there.

I took the laptop upstairs and spent a happy hour or two running hardware tests. Everything checked out OK but the router was just not visible to the laptop. Then I had the idea of turning on Mr Knitbert's computer, which is connected to the router by an Ethernet cable. This computer could see the router and told me that it was connected and indeed it could access the internet. Oh thank God! Only two hours with no internet connection and already I was in a cold sweat and having panic attacks. I was able to read my email and talk to my friends for a bit. Then I began to wonder again what was wrong. I ran hardware tests on the router. No apparent problem. I turned off the router and rebooted it. No change. By now it was 1.00 in the morning and I had matchsticks propping my eyelids open, so I reluctantly gave up and went to bed.

The next evening, I tried the other laptop, and as it could not access the router either I knew that the problem must lie with the router. Or so I thought...
That evening I needed to do some internet banking which Mr Knitbert had been nagging me about over the phone from Singapore only a few days earlier. Now my internet bank has recently changed, and I had completely new details for logging in which I had only tried once. These details were safely stored on my laptop, but not on Mr Knitbert's computer. And I had shredded the letters from the bank. I tried connecting to the internet with my laptop again but there was nothing doing. So I decided to have a go at connecting it to the router with an Ethernet cable. Well. We have three cupboards full of assorted computer and video cables, and it turns out not one of them is an Ethernet cable. By now it was 1.00 in the morning and I had matchsticks propping my eyelids open, so I reluctantly gave up and went to bed.

The next morning I got up early and phoned the bank to send Mr Knitbert his money. Overnight I had had a brilliant idea. That evening, I downloaded new firmware for the router! It was a bit scary, especially the bit where it said that the router would be disconnected from the internet and not to even breathe near it until it had compeltely rebooted. All went well, though, and I excitedly turned on the laptop. I had a different error message! Hooray! Well, no, in fact, I still could not connect, and now it told me that the network I was trying to connect to was hidden. By now it was 1.00 in the morning and I had matchsticks propping my eyelids open, so I reluctantly gave up and went to bed.

The next day I phoned Mr Knitbert and told him the whole story. He laughed and laughed.

Then he made a couple of suggestions for fixing it and authorised the purchase of a new router if those didn't help. When I got home, DSoK was back. He had his laptop out, and it was abandoned on his bedroom floor. He had also worked out that he could access the internet from Mr Knitbert's computer and was going through his emails. "What's the matter with the %$*&ing router?" he asked. I explained. "Have you tried downloading the latest firmware?" he suggested, in that irritating way people have when you have already tried everything. "Yes" I snarled.

I tried Mr Knitbert's suggestions and they didn't work, so I ordered a new router from an online supplier. Then I remembered that the virus checker and firewall for both laptops was on a subscription which had recently expired, and because of all the problems with the internet I had not got around to renewing it. I logged into my account and paid for the new subscriptions. A dreadful thought then began to cross my mind...could the lapsed subsriptions for the firewalls have anything to do with the connection problems? It seemed unlikely, and yet....
DSoK and I disabled and uninstalled the firewalls, and the laptops were still unable to connect to the internet. Phew! So that wasn't it then. DSoK and I had a Chinese takeaway and watched an episode of House. By now it was 1.00 in the morning and I had matchsticks propping my eyelids open, but I needed to get a route for my next day's trip to a friend's house for the weekend. Idly I opened my laptop and switched it on...and it connected instantly to the internet with no problems. I surfed for an hour and then went to bed.

The next morning at 9.30 a courier arrived with my new router. And since that moment my laptop and DSoK's have connected to the internet with no problem at all. Since I paid my Macafee subscription...
Spooky eh?

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

The Dog Ate My Router

Well, hello, dear reader, I'm still here and still knitting; well, still purchasing yarn, anyway! I don't know quite what happened but I've just emerged blinking into the sunlight and realised that a month has gone by and I haven't posted here. I do have a sort of excuse, because I have been having problems with my wireless router. In fact, I now have two wireless routers, and as far as I know they both work fine. I'll tell you all about it in a while, but first let's get up to date with my knitting.
Last weekend I was staying with a friend of mine, let us call her Dogbert, who also likes to knit. On Saturday we drove from her house to Colinette's fabulous factory shop in Wales, where we met Aknita, The Cabled Climber, Melody Yarns and murdo from the Crafty Threads and Yarns forum. Dogbert and I spent a happy morning at Colinette, and I might have bought a few things (whistles nonchalantly). Oh well, OK, since you are twisting my arm, here they are:

This is the Toast and Marmalade pattern book, and the picture you can see is the Waffle throw, which is made from 700g of Colinette Giotto, a rather lovely ribbon yarn.
I decided that I would like to have some simple things to knit up quickly in lovely colours on large needles, as an antidote to Mystery Stole 3, which I am progressing with (slowly) which requires quite a lot of attention. In fact if anyone speaks to me while I am knitting it, or in fact looks as though they are going to speak, I have to start aggressively counting out loud and saying things like "yarn over, slip one knit one, pass slip stitch over, knit two together, I'M KNITTING LACE, knit seven....YES?)

Here is one set of colours I bought for this throw, these ones were from the bargain bin (the other colours I bought weren't though!)

and here is the throw just started. It does grow quite quickly so it is a bit larger than that now. Yes those are Lantern Moons, what of it?

I also bought some Giotto in another set of colours to knit a second Waffle Throw. These are all new colours and I just adore them.The dark one is called Sable, and has black and a deep purple in it, lovely!

Some Prism in colourway Windfall to knit the ballet wrap from Interweave Knits Winter 2005 (makes mental note to self - must renew my sub to Interweave in time for the Fall issue which is imminent, I think),

and some gorgeous, soft, silk Tao in moss, which is to crochet the Sweet Chestnut scarf from Colinette's Arboretum book. The plan is to crochet this on the aircraft because yes, dear reader, Knitbert is travelling again. Next Saturday I am off to Singapore for a week to join Mr Knitbert who has been there for three weeks so far this time. It's a thirteen hour flight, so should be just about right, and I'll have my granny squares as a backup.

Now this gorgeous yarn is handspun and was sent to me, along with these divine stitchmarkers (which she made herself),
by Noo, as part of the Crafty Threads and Yarns "one skein" swap. Isn't that a lovely parcel? I am so pleased with it, and it is the softest, loveliest yarn you could ever imagine, and in those beautiful shades of sea green. I think I'm going to make it into a scarf.

One final new acquisition and then I'll stop for now. I'll tell you all about the router tomorrow, I promise. When I met murdo at Colinette, she brought me....a set of Knitpicks Options! which she had been kind enough to include in her order from a friend in the States. They are sooo lovely...I have wanted some for a while now, and am delighted with them.

The photo at the top is me at the start of a walk I took with DSoK earlier this month, which involved a lot of rain, as you can see...but it's been lovely this week so far, fingers crossed that summer is finally here.