Socking it to Sochi

Even to someone who lives in a self-imposed news blackout it hasn’t escaped notice that serious concerns have been raised about the wisdom of holding the 2014 winter olympic in a town in Russia, and no wonder, with Russia’s record on LBGT rights as appalling as it is.

I wasn’t thinking about this, or indeed anything much beyond the beauty of her hand-dyed knitting yarns when I landed on the Old Maiden Aunt Yarns (OMA) site this morning. Where, I wondered, had all these yarns been all my life? Why, I asked myself, had I never taken note of them before?

Not only are the yarns just awesome (and the website is very impressive too, to this newbie) but the lovely personality of the dyer-in-chief, Lilith, comes across clearly in her blog. It was there that I read her post to russia, with love which deals with her dilemma over participating in Olympic knitting-related activities (the “Ravellenic Games”) on the knitting site Ravelry. She says:

as a member of the LGBT community, i’ve experienced discrimination and hatred firsthand, and try my best to actively work for equality. and as a queer business owner, i feel like my business & associated activities should also reflect my personal and political beliefs. i thought long & hard about even bringing this up, as i definitely don’t want to discourage anyone from participating in the Ravellenics, or ruin the experience for you. it’s always so much fun, and i’m really happy that my customers want to participate and compete for Team OMA!! but i also felt that by not saying anything, i was rather letting myself down.

so, here’s what i’d like to propose for Team OMA – for every team member who successfully completes their Team OMA Ravellenic Games project, i’ll personally donate a minimum of £5 to Stonewall UK, an organisation who works towards LGBT equality both within the UK and internationally. i may end up being able to donate even more per person, depending on how many/few of you complete your projects!!

i’ve also created “nothing to hide” (kermit the frog fans should recognise the reference!), a rainbow-hued sock yarn that i’ll be dyeing from now until the official start of the Games in february.

What a superb way of tackling the dilemma. A skein of the wool, nothing to hide, is winging its way here already (I hope).

Whether I get into the whole “knit a complete object during the course of the Olympics” again remains to be seen. In 2012 I joined in for the first time and made a cardigan which I enjoyed very much and wear frequently. It also, tangentially, meant I saw the opening ceremony which I would otherwise have deliberately missed and found it to be rather inspiring.

The uncertainty hasn’t stopped me from looking at possible patterns, though. I’m inclining towards the aptly named Victor (from the recent book Op-Art Socks by Stephanie Van Der Linden) with the spirals (which, with a stretch of the imagination might resemble the Olympic rings) in a deep shiny black.

What is certain is this won’t be my last acquisition of Old Maiden Aunt Yarn.



Not moth proof :-((((

Moth. Clothes moth. Tineola bisselliella. Call it what you will, it’s a complete fu*k pig, and it ate through my yarn. I’m far too familiar with the signs – the slight stickiness around the chewed edges, the white deposit (moth shit?) – not to feel my heart hit my ankles with a huge thud.

Additional annoyance is provided by the fact that I didn’t notice the damage until half way through knitting the ball since the chomped area was under the ball band and I always pull from the centre. GRRRRRRRR.

In terms of the knitting, it means I’ve lost a few meters of wool. Not mission critical probably. Also I blithely knitted past a half-chewed section which, when I came to the next round, collapsed under the strain. So I had to perform running repairs on the row below, undoing several stitches either side of the yarn-fail and knitting in a short section of un-chewed yarn. More ends to darn in. Bah. Annoying, but also not mission critical.

But where and when did the vile pest attack the ball? Because that’s really very important to know. It (the ball) arrived in this house on 23 July in an opened plastic bag with eight other balls from the supplier. None of the others appears to have been snacked on.

So is there/are there clothes moth larvae in my house? poised to chomp through my clothes and stash? or are they elsewhere and I’m just reaping the results rather than the pestiferous crop? Obviously I’m hoping the former.

Time to re-home the animals

I am spitting blood and feathers. The cat is spitting shredded bamboo.

i *hate* my cat

Just look at the end of that needle. I leave my knitting unattended for a microsecond and he’s pounced. Not content with destroying the ball of wool he attacks my precious, rare-as-a-hen’s-tooth, perfect, gorgeous bamboo needle. Destroys the point. Utterly ruined. Unusable.

It took me three weeks to get hold of that pair of needles. Scouring the interwebbing. 23cm long, 2.25mm in diameter (US size 1) and made out of bamboo. Absolutely perfect for the task. Almost IMPOSSIBLE to find.

Firstly many companies don’t do needles as fine as 2.25mm. Secondly, if they do, they’re 33cm long rather than 23cm. Thirdly, if you can actually find the right size/length/material combination you are forced to buy hundreds of other pairs at the same time. Which you don’t want. Or they’re available, singly, but only ship to America. The major European manufacturer does not make any needle in 2.25mm. To say that I am pissed off is the understatement of the year.

Meanwhile, over by the letterbox, the dog is spitting shredded paper.

i *hate* my dog

That is the back cover of a superb book of patterns which came through the post. The holes were made by the dog’s canine teeth. There are similar holes, decreasing in size, through 46 of the book’s pages. Not to mention the padded envelope and cardboard packaging within which the book was enclosed.


Cat update (with a knitted tail)

He had three more injections at the vet’s this morning, two pills and some kaoline paste. She was encouraged that he’d eaten a little last night. Said we could hold off on the drip until this afternoon and if he ate more during the day then maybe he wouldn’t need one at all.

Eating – refused sardines this morning before going to the vet. Deigned, some hours after we got back home, to eat something resembling duck paté but only when fed to him in a small, pre-warmed dish placed on the chair under the table he was occupying having earlier refused it from his bowl at room temperature on the floor. Hg – please attempt the most humiliating caption possible, although I’m afraid this isn’t a very inspiring picture.

cat eats

Puking – zero.

Crapping – twice, noisome and viscous at best but no sign of blood.

Vet bill to date – £356.41

Chances of saving money by cancelling pet insurance – zero.

Chances of Cat living on duck paté for the rest of his life – zero.

Chances of Cat ending up as cardigan trimming if he doesn’t go back to eating cheap dried food – very high indeed.

Despite the suggestion from acb below that it is demeaning not to knit a garment purpose designed for a cat-fur trim I am still of the opinion that the current WIP (the austenesque) would be ideal for such adornment. The yarn in question is thick and warm and has a multitude of white hairs in its makeup which would be well accentuated by Cat pelt, as can be seen in the picture below.

austenesque wip back

For those of a knitting disposition – the Kochoran tension square came up at 14 sts x 20 rows to 10cms on 6mm needles, so close to that of the recommended yarn (Louisa Harding Castello, 15 sts x 20 rows) that I started in good heart on the recommended needles. It may end up a little wider than the advertised garment but that is definitely a fault on the right side.

Forty hours off-line shock, horror, misery

Fault finally tracked down to the modem. Which will now, with persuasion, talk to the ISP server and to the laptop but not to the wireless thingy. Still, being tethered by a cable is a very very great deal better than no internet at all. And the children are probably better off without it, although they of course don’t think so.

I was not better off without it. I was sad. Miserable. Bereft. When on holiday one expects not to have it. At home one does. (The internet of course. Before anyone sniggers and suggests that I’ve got those two the wrong way round.) And it is, and has long been, a very important part of my life. The internet. My social, intellectual, emotional and creative life. A necessity, not a luxury then.

Two days without being able to go online, however, meant a lot of knitting got done. The scarf is finished.

scarf finished

It was a lovely journey. We meandered through woodland of coniferous and deciduous green and rowan berry red; had a rather volcanic session with sulphurous scarlet and glinting amethyst; pottered through an iznik palette of turquoise and orange and roamed over a highland glen of heather and bracken. Amongst other combinations. The colours aren’t actually as bright as they appear on the above picture, taken on the mobile using its flash. (Still no word as to the well-being of the camera.) But it will have to do since it’s off into the post it goes tomorrow.

No excuse now not to start the Austenesque.

Prejudice with buttons on

I found myself, about a month ago now, at the checkout in the enormous Asda in Dumbarton. Lying on the belt moving slowly but inexorably towards the chirpy checkout girl was:
* a bar of cadbury’s fruit and nut chocolate the size of a billiard table;
* a cut-price dvd of Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightly;
* a packet of hair-dye;
* a packet of tampons (assorted sizes).

My companion, A, ran his eye over the selection and remarked that, given the evidence of the pms cliché purchases before him, I was remarkably well-tempered.

I only got round to watching the film a few days ago and it stinks. It’s just *terrible*. Keira Knightly is utterly utterly wrong for Elizabeth Bennet. She appears to be aspiring to a look which is the bastard child of heroin chic and Kate Moss, whilst attempting to audition for a low-budget vampire flick advertising a particularly low-quality brand of over-applied and much smudged black eyeliner. Acting is a concept which is entirely alien to her. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

Feeling besmirched by this experience I had to undertake the only possible cleansing ritual. I closed the curtains, put on the gas fire, snuggled under my favourite blanket on the sofa and watched the BBC P&P from beginning to end in one glorious life-enhancing five-hour session. Unfortunately the bar of F&N had not survived the depredations of the children but apart from the lack of chocolate all was perfect.

I’ve seen P&P so many times now I could practically recite all the parts. This time I concentrated on the costumes, and formed an overwhelming desire to possess a form-fitting, empire-line-necked, long-sleeved, bust-skimming warm outer garment such as is worn to delicious effect by the splendid heavingly-bosomed Jennifer Ehle as Eliza. See, for example, the brown garment in the second and third pictures on this page. The neckline is higher than other similar garments (ideally it would be more like that of the dress on this page) but otherwise you get the general idea.

I confided this perhaps rather unusual longing to F over coffee the following morning. I knew she’d understand. It transpired that among all her other accomplishments (I knew she designed and made hats and shoes) she also studied costume design, pattern-making etc etc and had, on several occasions, made copies of historical garments for herself. The most awe-inspiring of which must be the copy of the coat worn by the French nobleman as he escaped the terror and the guillotine.

One thing led to another and we wound up discussing haberdashery in general and John Lewis’ in particular. And how I’d had a very long-standing credit of £19 on my store card. And how I could go and treat myself to a bit of ribbon and a button or two without actually, you know, spending anything.

This is why I am now knitting furiously. Because of course there was a pattern book on the table of the knitting section in John Lewis. It was, of course, open at the page displaying a cropped empire-line-necked fitted top. With a ribbon round the waist. And lots of buttons. (Bottom left here, if you’re interested). The inevitable happened, even though they didn’t stock the recommended yarn (Castello) or even have any information about it. I substituted Noro Kochoran and am hoping tension and yardage are comparable. Shade #47, a beautiful mix of pinks and greens and mustards. And pink ribbon and buttons.

new project

See how gorgeous that Noro yarn is? entirely edible.

scrummy yarn

But the furious knitting isn’t of the cardigan in question. No, such is the scale of my WIP (work in progress) backlog and concomitant shame about it, I am rattling through a couple of things before allowing myself to start on the empire-lined goodness. First up is this scarf, now finished.


The yarn, a single ball of (I eventually discovered after having lost the label) Colinette Giotto, was purchased on an impulse when I visited Tall Girl a few months back. It’s knitted up into a beautiful scarf – amethyst, aquamarine, eau de nil and petrol blues – and I had to track down the yarn for the people who, seeing it in progress, wanted to make their own.

yarn detail

Now that’s finished I’m on to b r o o k l y n t w e e d ‘s Red Light Special hat (which is so popular it even has its own tag on flickr). I first saw the hat on R’s head on Holy Island in March this year and he pointed me to the pattern, and the superb blog on which it resides.

hat overview

I’m using up 4ply from my stash for this one so at least I don’t have yarn-expense-guilt, but I did buy two sets of circular needles for it so it’s not entirely cost-free. The green bit is the lining which will be folded under and knitted in at the appropriate point in proceedings, the outer part of the hat is turquoise with orange and pink fair isle.

hat detail

It will be very useful when finished if I continue to hold out against turning the central heating on. I’m wearing a hat indoors at the moment.