Monday, April 23, 2007

Monday.

It's grey and just that bit too damp to put the washing out. On the other hand, after considerable expenditure and about a fortnight of hard labour in the garden, we might be able to sit outside next weekend and, well, just sit and contemplate our accomplishments. I think the electricians have finished with us bar submitting the final bill; the house is festooned with green&yellow earth wire and little silver tags that advertise the fact it is PME (whatever that is), and the new electricity meter is sitting in a box! on the outside! of the house instead of nestling at the back of the cupboard in which we store all our alcohol. I look forward to NOT seeing the expression on the meter-reader's face as I open the cupboard doors. That involved digging 15m of trench 45cm deep, laying duct for the power line and covering the whole lot when they'd finished. I learned how they connect a new cable to the existing supply *while it's live*, which is rather cool. I'd hoped for fireworks, but the chap just looked at me strangely and said "Not on Friday the 13th!". We spent this weekend replacing the rotted ex-railway sleepers that retained one of the flower beds with new solid sleeper-size chunks of French oak. I ordered these while he was away, because I had a cunning plan for a few more. Which worked:
Our garden from my workroom window. At one end of the bed there are now four chunks of oak standing upright, forming a partition/break. For what it's worth, placing those was much easier than we thought, given that each full-length piece must weigh c. 50kg. Note the new path, too. The blue tarp covers spare soil that must be disposed of together with the old sleepers. Which will be expensive: creosote is now a banned substance, so the sleepers (bits of which are still solid because they were soaked in it) are considered hazardous waste.

All that and knitting, too!
FO: Monsoon Socks, from Blue Moon Fiber Arts Rockin' Sock Club.
Knitted exactly to the pattern, with sole and instep on 2mm needles, leg on 2.5mm. I could just about have managed the whole thing on 2mm, but I couldn't consistently knit the cable round loosely enough on the leg. So, after two rounds I ripped back to the heel and changed to 2.5mm.
I am excruciatingly pleased with these. I've learned how to do an hourglass? toe (start at the sole with my first-ever provisional cast-on, short-row down to the toe, then pick up the short rows as you increase back up to instep width. Then rip out the cast-on and start knitting rounds as you head up the foot. As it were.). I'd never thought of garter stitch toes/heels; they're extremely soft. The yarn is BMFA mediumweight, the thickest sock yarn I've knitted (incidentally, I'm intrigued by the variability of the patterning on the completed socks. Scroll through the others posted in the gallery). I love the feel of the yarn as I knitted it, woolly and resilient, and I love the cozy fabric it made. I love the colours, I love the intricate, witty pattern... I'm bouncing slightly as I type, I love these socks so much!

The next pair is (of course) already on the needles. This is SWTC 'Tofutsies', bought because the ingredients sounded interesting (soy silk? chitin??) and it was on sale. I can confirm reports of its 'splittiness', but it's not too bad in straight knit/purl. M1 was a pain. It feels thin, but apparently will bloom a bit when washed; there were lots of comments for/against this yarn on Wendy's blog, so I reserve judgement. I'm certainly not that keen on the colour patterning. This is the first 'mechanically' coloured/patterned sock yarn I've knitted, and I much prefer the subtleties (or not) of hand-paints. Never mind, live and learn. I've also bought some fabric to drape and cut into pattern pieces for a summer top I want to design. I can see it clearly in my mind's eye, I just have to work out how to knit the thing. Some of it's sideways :-) And I'm working intermittently on the Seraphim I started months ago. It's a purple/blue jellyfish c. 520 st in circumference; only two more rows before I start the pattern charts. And find out if my calculations of stitch count to add a repeat were correct. I felt such an ass, I made so many mistakes working that out.

The US/UK exchange rate is very favourable at the moment, which means I've wasted far too much time coveting yarns available only in the US. I got as far as drafting an email order to Habu, told myself not to be greedy then, 15 minutes later, I was making notes of rovings I want from Crown Mountain Farm (this last is all HPNY's fault!). I've been wondering why I (and at least a few other bloggers) are so easily tempted by fibre when I am generally able to resist the siren song of anything other than books. It's got something to do with price: fibre is a relatively cheap habit, especially if it's to be hand-spun AND hand-knitted. It's got something to do with potential, the possibility that I can produce something truly beautiful from this as-yet unformed stuff. But most of all (for me)
it's the colours and textures of the handpaints: true artistry makes me covet colours I normally hate, and I want to run everything through my hands. I think some of these yarns are speaking the same language as the art on our walls and the sculptures in the garden. I love undyed fibres too (my alpaca/silk makes me so happy), but I suspect I'll always have my nose stuck to the sweetshop window, greedily eyeing the pretty colours. "I want one of these and one of those... wait, there's no point in having just one, it's not enough to make anything. Three of these and three of those and, oh, wow, I could make a sweater of that...")

In addition to all the socks I've knitted for myself to date, I present my most recent extravagance as evidence for the above. This is handpainted silk top from Carol Weymar, the Silkworker. Just checking that URL has revived my greed. I must be strong, I will not succumb, I will think about what I've already bought. On the left a pink/purple/orange that is far outside my colour comfort zone, but I know at least two people who would love a scarf or shawl as beautiful as that. On the right, something for me. Black and chestnut and grey and brown and gold.
And here's a reminder of other beauties. Spanish bluebells in Saturday sunlight.
Please may I have some sock yarn in those colours?

6 comments:

Joanne said...

Wow. I think you have the same websurfing shopping acquisition virus that I have!! The only thing that has stopped me is my embarrassing office, already full of stash. It sounds like you had an incredibly productive weekend, so please don't envy me the many hours of driving to see the Yarn Harlot. She was wonderful, but 300+ miles later, I'm feeling guilty about all the unnecessary driving!

La Cabeza Grande said...

"I look forward to NOT seeing the expression on the meter-reader's face as I open the cupboard doors."

Sarah, you never fail to make me smile with your understated humor and intelligent commentary on gardening, yarn lust, geological formations - whatever!

Mrs J said...

What a productive weekend! Good socks -its about time I had a go at a toe up sock. Don't get too excited about the outside meter box -I think the meter readers assume an old house will be an inside job & knock anyway!You really are putting ideas into my head with comments about the exchange rate.....hmmm....time for a little surf I think!

Pat said...

Your Monsoons turned out beautifully .... perfect timing before then next kit arrives!

Debby said...

Your garden looks so lovely -- the lines and structure are so important to frame what is to come. I can picture it even now...please come and do mine someday. :)

Do you like the show Rosemary & Thyme? I'm on Season 3 and the gardens just make me completely envious. I know many of them are trust properties, but we have *nothing* in the US that compares to the loveliness of an English garden.

Your socks look marvelous! I like the pink and orange roving and envy your surf-shopping and the fact that the exchange rate is in your favor! :) :)

HPNY Knits said...

thought of you when I saw this:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/saralechner/468282411/