Quick lil’ update to tell you that I’ve finished the body on my Greco! This is a great project, I think, even if it has turned out to be a little bit too warm for the summertime. I did a few extra stripes when knitting in the round for added length, but I still feel it’s a wee short — I’m planning to block it quite aggressively + cotton has a tendency to stretch, so. It really is a very fun knit — the lace is simple and easy to memorize and it gets broken up with stockinette, so you have both simple + complex knitting in the same project. The sleeves should be a quick knit — I’ll be sad to see this one go!
I do most of my knitting while watching TV, so I decided to share some of the shows I’ve been watching and loving recently.
I watched the entirety of Seinfeld while knitting the body of my Waterlily. I had only watched a few episodes here and there, and I had a lot more fun with this than I would expect. I kind of hate everyone in it, because they’re such awful, awful people — but their incredibly stupid shenanigans are so funny. Plus, it made me want to dress like Elaine Benes all the time. It’s a great background show, I think — perfect for knitting.
A very new release, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is only three episodes in. The same-titled book by Susanna Clarke the show is adapted from is one of my all-time favourites — one of the best fantasy novels I’ve ever read — and the show does not disappoint. The characters are all perfectly cast, there’s enough detail to keep it close to the source material but it is perfect as a TV show as well. I highly recommend this one — especially if you’re a fan of period dramas.
Another one adapted from a favourite book (sensing a theme?), Wolf Hall aired earlier this year and it totally slipped my radar until now. Historical fiction on the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn has been done to death, but Wolf Hall is just the best one, period. The show is actually based on both Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, both by Hilary Mantel — but, unlike most pieces of historical fiction centering around Henry VIII, this one is told from the eyes of Thomas Cromwell, a blacksmith’s son who rises to power in the 1520s. The show is gorgeous, and since it’s only 6 episodes long, you get to devour the whole thing in a weekend. I know this periods’ history by heart ever since reading a book about Henry VIII when I was a kid and then becoming obsessed with it, but it’s still fascinating how gripped I am by the storyline — when I, of course, know what’s going to happen.
I loved this show and I am too sad to talk about now that it has ended, so here’s a piece on The Millions that sums up everything I feel quite nicely: Mourning, Meaning and Moving On: Life After Mad Men.
May is my birthday month, so I justify everything I buy during that month as “I’m older therefore closer to death, therefore I should spend money.” I accumulated a few books, mostly secondhand, and others I was gifted for my birthday, so.
These are all secondhand. And they were all impulse buys of the highest order. Naipul’s book is called In a Free State in English. I’m glad I was able to snatch up both the Turgenev and the Woolf in Oxford World Classics editions — they are annotated, which I greatly appreciate when reading this type of novel. I always feel like there’s something I’m not quite getting if I don’t have some sort of context or explanation for certain details. I’m most excited for Between the Acts — I’m a big fan of Woolf, but I’ve only read her in translation so far.
R. gave me the Miéville as a birthday gift — which I had also pestered him for, of course — and I am suuuuper excited to get to it. It’s the final book in Bas Lag trilogy — the first two being Perdido Street Station and The Scar. I love this series. It’s a mix between fantasy, sci-fi, weird stuff and steampunk. It’s engrossing, has a great world you can get lost in, and the writing is superb. I became an instant fan of Miéville after reading 40 pages or so, and he’s now one of my favourite authors. I am slowly making my way through his entire work. Seriously, the books are so good, and I think even someone who isn’t typically into sci-fi or fantasy would enjoy them. There really is something for everyone there.
And speaking of favourite authors, I placed a wee order for two of Byatt’s books — Angels and Insects, pictured here, and On Histories and Stories, which hasn’t arrived yet. I’ve only read two of Byatt’s other novels, Possession and The Children’s Book. I especially love the second one of those, but ugh. Byatt is such a talented writer; she can weave in an out of stories, in and out of time. She is masterful with her words — her novels are luxurious and long, but she never lingers on stuff she doesn’t need to, and every word is put to good use. Angels and Insects isn’t actually a novel — it features two novellas, both set in Victorian England, I believe — but I’ve read the first few couple of pages and felt like underlining the whole thing.
Lastly, Kenneth Henshal’s A History of Japan — a gift from my parents — is exactly what it says on the tin. In April I kind of went on a History kick and started reading up on all sorts of subjects. I’m reading The Penguing History of the World, and thought it would be interesting to actually read more in depth about certain countries or historical events. I also have a nifty little collection of Oxford’s A Very Short Introductions (these focus on one single topic, like the Celts, or the British empire, and they’re only about 100 pages long), and decided to supplement those with a little bit of Japanese history. This is only a very, very short primer, but since I know nothing about Japanese history, I think it’s a good starting point.
As always, you can snoop what I’m reading at my Goodreads account.
Since I last wrote an entry on here (like a month ago, erm), I cast on for loads of different things, finished others and turned 22! *sobs quietly*
I’m currently working on three different projects — two tops and a pair of socks (because sock knitting, as we have established, is life.)
I started knitting Waterlily from the 2014 Spring Issue of Pom Pom Quarterly. I’m knitting it in DROPS Baby Alpaca Silk, in a lilac-blueish colour. It’s a 70% alpaca and 30% mulberry silk blend, and it’s so soft! I got this while DROPS where having their Wool Supersale, so it was quite affordable! I started knitting this in early May when it was still possible for me to wear it, but since then we have entered full-blown, 30ºC summer weather in Portugal. I also got sidetracked with other projects, so this one taking a backseat for now. I’m up to the lace section, which I’ve already had to rip out twice because I got cocky and thought “Why, yes, I can knit a complicated lace section while watching TV! I’m such a knitting pro!”. Ah well.
Back in March I subscribed to Pom Pom Quarterly, and this year’s summer issue also arrived in early May. I love, love the cover pattern, Greco. I’m also considering knitting Michelada and learning to crochet just so I can do Azulejo! I kind of was unable to resist and like a week later I stopped by my LYS on my birthday, and kind of bought the yarn I needed — birthday impulse purchases are the best/worse. The day after that I immediately cast on, and this is where I’m up to. I’m knitting it in Fonty Bohème, a 65% cotton / 35% linen blend in a grey and denim blue,. I have a couple of issues with this pattern, the biggest one being the fact that it is knit according to rows. The pattern will say, knit for x number of rows, and if your gauge is off my one row, it won’t fit. It’s also a bit short for me, so what I’m doing is repeating the 3 and a half rows twice before separating the back and the front. The original design also features an open back, which looks amazing but I wouldn’t feel very comfortable wearing it, so I’m going to knit the front and back panels the same way.
Lastly, I’m working on some background socks which I take with me to knit at the café, or when I’m watching a movie or something. The yarn is Das Paar, which I mentioned in my last post. The skein is split into two skeins, which allows you to knit an identical pair of socks!
These super cute DPN holders were a gift from my boyfriend — after I pestered him for about 3 months to get them for my birthday. They came, as did the yarn, from Retrosaria. I love them! They’re made my Clover, and there’s also a bigger size for larger DPNs — these ones run from 2,0mm to 3,75mm, I believe.
Speaking of birthday gifts, my mom got me this little basket from IKEA for me to store all my yarn scraps in! I basically stuff all my WIPs and yarn in there, and then carry it around the house — the main reason I wanted this was so that when I’m knitting I can place the ball of yarn somewhere instead of having it catch all the dust on the floor.
As for FOs, I finished these cute socks — they’re Opal, from their Hundertwasser collection (the colourway is Der Weg von dir zu mir züruck, I believe.) The heel is DROPS Fabel. I haven’t worn them yet, it’s too warm for wool (and for shoes, I’m sporting my flip flops everywhere already), but they’re going to be very welcome come winter.
I knit another Moss & Deer Horns hat, this time for my mom and in DROPS Alpaca Lima. This one turned out much smaller, but it looks great on my mom so yay!
Remember my Hat for Belgium? I also knit a pair of mittens to go alongside it, and gave both of them to my friend for her birthday. She really liked them! They’re also knit in DROPS Fabel, and I followed Hannah Fettig’s 70-yard mitts — they’re amazing for using up leftovers! Everyone I know will start to get one of these on their birthdays. I don’t even care they that don’t use mittens.
And, finally, I finished the Gryffindor socks for my boyfriend — I wasn’t super happy with these, though. I need a lot more practice in knitting fair isle before I actually get good at it. But, he likes them, so that’s good.
As always, you can check my Ravelry projects page for more info on all these projects, the yarn I used, etc.
For the past month or so I’d been eyeing some sock yarn over at Retrosaria and I finally picked it up this week.
The white is Schoppel-Wolle’s Admiral Cat Print (undyed) and the other is Schoppel-Wolle’s Das Paar, which supposedly knits up into a pair of socks that are exactly alike. The white yarn is going to be knit up into this Rachel Coopey pattern, and the other will become plain vanilla socks. I am very excited about both.
As for what I’m working on, R. asked for a pair of socks with a little fair isle dragon at the cuff a while back. He picked out the colours, and is almost the proud owner of what we have dubbed Gryffindor socks. The mustard yarn is DROPS Fabel and the burgundy bits are leftovers from my Cranberry socks (which I’ve finished and am sad to say that they fuzz and pill like crazy).
A few notes on being a fair-isle newbie: I suck at this so bad. My first experience with fair isle was doing the Willard Pullover. I purposefully kept the floats super long and since it’s not a very intricate pattern, it’s not really a big deal if the tension is a bit uneven. But here? I knit the dragon chart twice, and am still not happy with it, but I couldn’t rip it out again. Gather round to hear my tales of woe:
— Being very afraid of not enough stretchiness in the area with the stranded yarn, I knit it up with 3mm needles and the rest with 2.5mm.
— I began my adventure by doing this Portuguese-style = the wrong side of the work is facing me, and I purl every row. This made for a very neat, good-looking dragon, but I completely forgot that if I purl every row in the round I get HUGE ladders. I usually fix this my purling the first two stitches in the next needle I’m working with the needle I’ve just worked with (ignoring my empty needle).
— This meant everything was super baggy and awful. I ripped it out.
— Then, I decided to work it with the right side facing me. No ladders, but such tight floats that it would be impossible for even me to put the socks on.
— Have I mentioned I’d knit the chart twice by then?
— Going back to knitting with the wrong side facing out, I finally got the hang of it — a much nicer result, minimal ladders and even tension. It’s not perfect, really. It’s far from it. But this is my preferred method of doing fair-isle.
— I didn’t know the first thing about colour dominance. After reading about it a bit, I am now chalking up all the weird-looking stitches to that.
All in all, I’m moderately pleased with these socks. R. is always the guinea pig for new techniques/projects so he’s used to less-than-stellar garments. If I were to do this again, I’d keep the 2.5mm needles for the fair isle, though. I did learn that Portuguese-style fair isle is the best method for stranded colourwork — I had fun doing it, and would have had more fun if I hadn’t had to knit the same chart three times. I don’t want to think about the fourth one for the second sock.
As for other life things: I’m reading Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies and it’s so great. Have you read it? It’s set in India just before the beginning of the Opium Wars and has a big cast of characters that all end up meeting somehow — it reminds me of David Mitchell’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. Both are set in very rich, detailed worlds with fleshed-out characters. And heavily feature boats and Imperialism — such fun!
I’m also listening to Jeff Vandermeer’s first volume in the Southern Reach trilogy — Annihilation — on audiobook during my runs, and it’s weird, creepy and intriguing. I’m a big fan of the New Weird movement, Miéville being one of my favourite authors in general, so I was pretty sure I’d enjoy this one. While Miéville veers towards the sci-fi/fantasy/political/economical side of things, Annihilation seems to be a bit more post-apocalyptic. Like Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, only infinitely creepier. It does make for very engaging listening material, especially when running in a deserted park in the morning.
What are you working on/reading? What are your thoughts on fair-isle? Do you have any favourite tips?
Hello, friends! Here is your procrastination material for the week. Enjoy!
— A ranking of all the sweaters on Twin Peaks. I’m very sad about David Lynch not being the director for the yet-to-come third season, but this has softened the blow quite a bit.
— On crafting and privilege. A great read, and something I think about quite a lot.
— And here’s a follow-up on that.
— Sharing a bit of Portuguese love today with a song by B Fachada.
— A post from last year, but something I hadn’t considered: how needle materials affect gauge.
Let me know in the comments below what you’re reading/knitting/making. Have a great weekend!
P.S.: Have you watched the latest Mad Men episode? I loved it, and am constantly horrified/fascinated by all the 70s clothing and mustaches.
P.P.S.: Are you watching the newest season of Community? They made fun of Portugal a little bit on the second episode and I just about laughed myself to tears.
P.P.P.S.: I’ll shut up about TV shows now.
Can you tell I’m very excited about my first ever sweater? I am so happy with how this turned out! It’s very warm + soft, fits a lot more nicely than I thought it would and I am so sad it’s already too warm in Lisbon to wear it.
A couple of notes on this sweater:
a) The pattern is the Willard Pullover by Hannah Fettig;
b) The yarn is DROPS Lima in Rost (for the fair isle) and Off White for the rest;
c) Measure your upper arm circumference and see if it matches the one in the schematic. I completely failed to do this, and was about halfway through the first sleeve when I realized it would look huge on me. I ended up decreasing 10 stitches, but the end result didn’t look as nice as I would have like. If I were to do this again, I would have kept the same number of stitches but used a smaller needle;
d) Before blocking, the sleeves were fine, but it was really noticeable that they were much tighter than the body, so I blocked them quite aggressively;
e) I skipped 2 or 3 rows of ribbing on the sleeves simply because I like them a bit shorter;
f) I bound off both the sleeves and hemline using Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off. A regular cast-on was too tight on my waist, and it caused the sweater to bunch up and look awful;
g) Markers between decreases cause a slight hole that is very noticeable in light-coloured yarn:
All in all, I’m pretty pleased! The colourwork isn’t perfect and there are teeny tiny bumps everywhere, but I really like it. It’ll be perfect for next Winter. Knitting top down is kind of addictive, and I see a whole lot sweater-knitting in my future.
P.S.: The Ravelry project page is here.
P.P.S.: Simply because I always find this very useful when deciding which size to cast-on and am looking at other projects on Ravelry: I have a 91cm bust circumference (~37 inches), and did the third size on the pattern (104.5 cm = 41 1/4 inches).