Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Laminaria, a work sort of in progress :)

I'd thouhght I'd write a post about one of my many WIPs. The knitting I'm actually doing just now is secret deadliney stuff, so I can't write about it, but I have one or two other things waiting in the wings. I think it'll only take another 3 or 4 days till I'm finished what I have to do, then I can get onto some creating that I can actually write about!

So, Laminaria. I'm in the middle of the first section so far, and it looks kinda pretty. :)

I'm using a yarn I think I mentioned before. I got 3 skeins of handdyed laceweight off ebay ages ago ridiculously cheap. I seem to remember it being something like £2.99 for all three skeins, but part of me is thinking that can't be right. But I think it is. See, ridiculously cheap!!!! Each skein is approx 900 yards, I remember that. So I should be able to get a good two or three shawls out of it. I already have another one picked out for this yarn: the mystic light shawl by Anna Dalvi. It's a pay for pattern, but I think it'll look really good in this yarn. I'll wait till I've finished Laminaria first.

What I've got done of Laminaria, I've enjoyed. I didn't get to do much of it before other things got in the way, but I'm going back to it as soon as they're done.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Not Feeling Well :(

My allergies are really playing up today. I'm allergic to a few things, I think, but I've never had a proper test. I know I'm allergic to cats, although that's not what's causing it today. I've got hayfever, and I'm probably allergic to dust and who knows what else. It doesn't help that Tupac sheds what seems like half his coat every day. My bf decided to get an air purifier to stop me sniffing so much. It arrived yesterday, and today I feel like death!!! I think it must be moving the dust and stuff around as it ionizes it and makes it fall to the floor, and it's irritating my nose something terrible! I've been sneezing and sniffing all day and I just feel pathetic and ill. Even antihistamines didn't help. So I've been lying around the house just feeling sorry for myself.

Big projects are out of the question today, as is anything that requires thinking. So I made another fan bookmark. My sister liked her bookmark so much she wants more! She gave me a big list of what colours they all had to be and everything. Since I have this pattern memorised, it's fairly easy to get on with even while sniffing. One of them is finished so far.

My other projects can wait for today. My BPT jacket just needs the zip put on now. I got a zip off ebay, but I think it might be too bright a green colour. Maybe I'll have to buy another zip, but that's too much thinking for today.

I've started Laminaria, in a lovely red laceweight yarn I got for a ridiculously low price off eBay ages ago. I'll post about that with pictures later, when I can navigate the whole picture uploady thingy.

I also started the February Lady Sweater, like about everyone else on the planet, it seems like! I'm just at the shoulders, for the second time, because for the life of me I cannot do top-down raglans properly. The first attempt is always the wrong size. I'm getting a bit sick of it to be honest, because you can't tell with top down sweaters if they're wrong till you get past the armholes, and then you have to rip it all back and start again. At least with bottom up sweaters you can tell after an inch or so how it's going to fit, and if you need to make a different size. I'm at the armhole seperating now, and I don't want to attempt it today in case it's the wrong size again, because I'll just cry if it is.

So bookmarks it is. I can make them while lying in bed and drinking hot chocolate and watching red dwarf. All that would be rather good if I wasn't sniffing at the same time, lol!

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Belly Dance Birthday

I just realised the other day that I've been dancing for four years, near enough exactly. I can't remember what date I first went to dance class, but I can remember the class, which shows what a huge impact it had on me. It must have been around August or September 2004, and the class was rehearsing for a performance coming up at the beginning of November. They were still learning their routine, so it was fairly easy for the teachers to break the moves down for the beginners (there were a few of us, but only two have lasted from that particular batch of newbies!). We didn't start off with drilling moves, which is what my teacher tries to do with beginners, but I think the hurried learn-a-bellydance-routine-in-a-couple-of-months technique worked for me. I got to see what the moves were actually for - how they ran together and became combinations, and eventually a whole routine. If I'd started with drilling eights and circles like everyone else, I would have got bored, I think.

I remember sneaking a look in the mirror in that first class. I was so self-conscious. I was wearing a skirt, for goodness sake! And dancing, actually moving in front of people! And the teachers (there were two in that class) kept looking at me to see what I was doing!

I expected to see what I'd seen in every photo taken of me (mostly as a teenager, but I was in my early twenties at that point). A gangly, uncoordinated, awkward mess of limbs and long tangled hair. And a big belly (pretty much imagined, I have to admit).

But I didn't see that. I saw myself, dancing. Actually dancing, and the moves didn't look like I was just swinging myself about. My vertical figure 8's looked like vertical figure 8's. Nowhere near as controlled as the teachers, but a proper dancy move nonetheless. That's still my favourite move :)

I'd only tagged along to the class because my boyfriend suggested that I go with his aunt and her friends instead of sitting around being bored all evening. (And he probably had images of sexy belly dancer ladies in his head too. He's male, after all!) But I wanted to go the next week too, to learn more. To make my body move in pretty ways, and actually control how it was moving. This was a revelation for me, that I could control my body's movements.

So I went the next week, and the week after that. And I performed at that hafla in November. Hiding in the corner, but I was dancing on stage with other people looking at me, and I loved it!

I've done a few things I never thought I would. Danced in front of strangers at various places, even been paid for dancing! Someday, I'll have to write about the more memorable performances. I haven't started teaching yet, but it's something I can see myself doing at some point in the future. Me, teaching, telling other people how to do something! It's unbelievable, but I'd like to pass on what I've learned, open up this world to other people.

I still love it. I love that feeling of being on the stage, and having everyone else watch me. Bellydance crowds are very kind and appreciative, which helps! I love to dance to people, I'm even getting eye contact down! Bellydance gives me a way to express myself. I'm very shy, and terrible at talking to people. I stutter, and lose words, and then run out of things to say. But for some reason, I can dance in front of people. And with people, in a group. I can engage with people, actual live people, and they're not so scary when I'm dancing.

My relationship with myself has benefited enormously. I'm a stone (14lbs) heavier than when I started, and I'm constantly losing that stone then putting it back on, but I'm more comfortable in my body, even if it is bigger. I still worry about it, what western woman doesn't?, but I know I can live if I put on a few pounds. Seeing other dancers has really opened up my eyes to the fact that you don't have to be skinny to be good at something, or worth anything. Egyptian dancers especially, it just doesn't seem to be fashionable or desirable for them to be tiny little things. They're women, with women's bodies, and I look at them dancing so beautifully, and I realise I can have a woman's body too, and be a woman. Myself. I am a woman. It's taken me years to get past the fact that I'm not a little girl, and I don't need to struggle to keep a little girl's body. And I don't think I would have managed it without bellydance.

I can't wait to see what the next four years brings for me, in dance and life. I'm so glad I found this art form, that seems to fit me so well, and that I love so much.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Crochet for the Bibliophile

Bookmarks! Lots and lots of bookmarks!

These are from this pattern: fan bookmark by crochetroo. I noticed that my bathroom book didn't have a bookmark in it, I was using old letters to mark my place, and that's just not good enough! I made two gray ones, because I was just getting used to the pattern by the end of the first one. I gave one to my mil, because she had seemed to like it when she saw me making it. Then I made two purple ones. I made one for my mum in purple because that's her favourite colour (I could make her anything in purple and she'd love it. The world's crappiest garter stitch scarf, with dropped stitches and uneven rows - so long as it was in purple, she'd love it!) She suggested I make one for my sister as well. I had to ask her what her favourite colour is (purple!) but I've learnt the pattern now, so it takes me less than an hour to make one. I posted it out to her yesterday. I didn't tell her I was making it for her so it'll be a surprise. I hope she likes it :)
Sidenote: my current bathroom read is A Woman in Berlin by Anonymous. I'll be writing a review of this as soon as I finish cos I have lots to say about it.

After making the gray fan bookmarks, I was getting quite into the whole crochet bookmark thing, so I made this one:

Pattern: fancy filigree bookmark by Cheri Mancini. This one was a bit harder, more fiddly and delicate. I like how mine turned out, but the pattern seems uneven with the picot spacing. I guess it's meant to be like that, because the picture on the pattern is the same, but it's a bit disconcerting to my inner OCDist. If I make another, I'll modify the pattern to space them evenly, I think. This bookmark is currently marking my place in my bedroom book, The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett. It's a really good book, the first discworld one that I've read, and I want to read more.

Next up, the remember the day bookmark by Ferosa Harold. (the link takes you to, you have to register to get the pattern, but it's free, and they don't spam your email account or anything)
This one has bullions in it! My first time doing them. I was totally worried about this all the time while I was making it, because my bullions didn't look right, it didn't look the same as the one in the picture. I kept wondering if I should just rip it out. I kept thinking my yarn choice (mercerised crochet cotton thread) was wrong, and maybe I should have used unmercerised thread. As it happens, I think unmercerised might have been a better choice, but luckily, the bookmark totally came together when I started working the last round! I'm very happy with it, except the back is a little squiggly and uneven, due to my own inexperience with bullions, and the yarn choice. I think unmercerised cotton would have hidden the squiggles more.

I feel like the queen of crochet picots after all these bookmarks! I'm definitely a lot more comfortable with them, and with bullion stitches. What started off as a purely functional project seems to have become all educational all of a sudden!

And finally, something that didn't work out well :(

This is supposed to be the shamrock bookmark, by Michelle Ryan. (that link takes you to a free ravelry download, so you have to be a member of ravelry to access it).
I don't know if I did something wrong or anything, but this is huge! This one repeat is about six inches square, and there's supposed to be a few repeats stacked on top of each other. If I had done the full thing, there's no book in the world large enough for it to be used in! It's my first time trying filet, so it's entirely possible that I messed it up somehow, but I really can't see how. I used a 1.25mm hook and mercerised crochet cotton again, so there doesn't seem to be anything I could have done to make it smaller. So it won't work as a bookmark.
Also, the pattern in the middle doesn't show up as well in real life as it does in a photo. It's a bit undefined in real life. I'm going to see if there's something I can do to salvage it, maybe use it as a motif on a fabric bag or something. It's become a bit of a challenge to myself to save it somehow instead of just ripping it. :) Anyone out there have any other ideas how it can be saved?

Friday, 15 August 2008

Bpt and other random stuffs

Oops, in all my excitement of knitting the BPT sweater, I forgot to actually link it or anything. So, it's BPT from Knitty. To be honest, I never thought much about making this pattern. It wasn't even in my queue. But I was looking for a jacket-y type sweater, using the pattern browser on ravelry (which is just brilliant, by the way. It comes up with little pictures of all the patterns, and you can add or take off subsections to totally customize your search, and it's fab. I use it all the time to find patterns in a specific weight of yarn). BPT popped up, and I admit, I wasnt much impressed by the pictures. But then I looked at other people's projects, and I noticed that solid coloured ones looked much better than variegated ones (in my own humble opinion :) ). And I started thinking how it would actually go really nice with the green yarn I was wanting to use. The yarn is Teddy Vanguard DK - actually worsted weight. I'm still not entirely used to the american system of weighing yarns, and think it makes little or no sense at all. But that's just because I'm used to seeing a certain size of yarn being called double knitting, for like, all my life! Now suddenly, it's all changed because of the american system being more prevalent on the internet and in yarn stores, and I don't like it. Hmph. So there. :)

Anyway, rant over, this yarn is my new favourite acrylic ever! It's so soft! I don't know if I'd make a proper next-to-skin sweater out of it, I think it'd be a bit hot and sweaty and clammy under it. But it's fab for things that won't be next to the skin, like jackets or cardis. I've used it for my seraphina shawls as well, and they turned out nice in it.

There's not been a whole lot of progress on the sweater. I was away for a couple of days and I'm still on the second arm. So there's no point taking more pics. I'll just link to the old one on flickr again. :D

Off topic - I totally need to upgrade my flickr account. It's getting filled up with pics, both my ravelry account and my private one. I was thinking about merging them, cos I can just keep my private pics so only friends and family see them. And it would mean I only have to log in to one yahoo account. Logging in and out of yahoo accounts is a royal bum pain! It just seems so much more finicky than having multiple hotmail or anything else accounts. So that's another thing for the to-do list.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Putting Magic Loop to Good Use

I'm knitting BPT just now, pretty much exclusively. I finished my magic loop socks:

I used an Opal self striping yarn that I got from Twist Fibre Craft Studio. I had to fiddle a bit with the yarn, cutting bits of yellow out so that the heel and toe could be all orange, but it worked out pretty good :) The magic loop technique itself sped up for me after a while, but it's still slow trying to move the stitches around the needle. And they would always catch on the join in the needle. No stitches broke, but I was worried a couple of times.

And it's useful that I learned the technique, because I'm using it in my BPT just now, for the sleeves. I got to the sleeve bit sometime late at night, and couldn't be bothered searching the house for DPNs, so I just put the stitches on the needle I was using, and magic looped it!

I'm most of the way down one sleeve now, just the other to go, and the hood.

I like this pattern, but it's so much stocking stitch! I keep having to get up and wander about the house for ten minutes, because it's driving me nuts! There's a cable every eight rows, but still! I do have other projects I want to cast on, but I'm going to visit my parents on Tuesday, so I kind of feel like there's not much point in starting something new. And I want to finish the sweater too. It's funny, I start off all driven, wanting to finish, then I'm driven demented by the stocking stitch, and have to do something else. I did print out the pattern for Laminaria , that's next on the shawl list. Maybe I'll start it soon. Just after this sleeve :)

Saturday, 2 August 2008

i Iz Can Do Magic Loop!

I learned something new!!!!

I wanted to try out magic loop cos there's a few sock patterns I thought might work better with it. I figured maybe there would be less laddering cos it's on a circular needle, and maybe it would be easier to manage cables with just that one needle as opposed to four dpns. Also, it's on my 101in1001 list! :)

There's definitely less laddering, at least in stocking stitch. I'm pulling the stitches pretty tight at the edges, so it's a little hard to get the stitches moved across sometimes, but less laddering is good. However, the cables could only be done if they didn't cross over the halfway point of the stitches. So I'll have to examine the patterns I've got to see if they do that or not. I'd tried the drunken bees patterns previously but there was horrendous laddering cos the cables crossed all over the place. That's one of the ones I'll need to check. And most of Cookie A's ones too. I love her patterns! I've been drooling over the Twist Collective page all day, and not only her patterns, but most of the other ones too!

Anyway, I'm going off on a tangent there. (But go check out Twist Collective anyway!!!) I promise, I'm not affiliated, I just think it's fab.

The technique itself is much easier than I imagined. I watched this youtube video, followed what it said, and voila, I was off magic looping before I knew it. I had to watch the first few rows carefully though, because I was twisting the knitting round, and I even ended up knitting the sock inside out somehow! But after about half an inch it sorted itself out, and it's been pretty easy from there. I'm not at the heel turn yet though, that should be interesting!

I think overall I still prefer DPNs. They're faster for a start, you don't have to slide stitches along a long needles then figure out where the yarn is to pick it up correctly (it ends up inside the needles loop if you're not careful). Also, when I'm sliding the stitches across the circular needle, they catch on the join between the needly bit and the plastic wirey bit, which must be stressful on the yarn. I keep waiting for the stitch to just pop in half when I'm sliding them across. Magic loop is very portable though, it's all there on one needle and it's not going to come off without a struggle. I guess both techniques have their advantages for different patterns and situations. I think DPNs will continue to be my default unless I need portability, or less laddering, or cabling across certain stitches.

I've still got a sock and a half to go though, so we'll see what I think when I've finished!

Friday, 1 August 2008

Internet Knitting-type Updates

The first issue of Twist Collective is out! I havent bought any of the patterns yet, but I added 13 to my ever-growing queue, and there were a couple I was swithering about which may get added later. I think the faux bois scarf may actually get made soon though, I love it!

Also, Mystery Stole 4 sign-ups are open! Sign up here (you'll need a yahoo account)

In my own knitting update, I've finished knitting the vogue shawl, it just needs washed and blocked. I'm pleased with it. It only required two more repeats and it looks quite nice, even unblocked. I haven't started anything else yet though.