Merry Christmas!

How times change.

A very Merry Christmas from me to you! x


The Snowy Adventures of the Photo-Hat

As you might have realised, it has been snowing here in the UK. Very much more than usual for this time of year, and almost in one fell swoop overnight. Giles and I are lucky enough to work from home most of the time, so quickly rejigged our schedules to take advantage of the glorious powdery snow before it had time to freeze and turn to trecherous ice.

We donned walking boots and gaiters, neckwarmers and woolly gloves before venturing out to revel in the still-falling snow. We walked for about three hours past the village green, the not-so-gritted roads and along the even more beautiful than usual Saxon track in the woodland. We both took a lot of photographs: Giles on his Nikon D3, myself using the little camera on my blackberry (which is strangely better than my little point and shoot camera for sharpness, although guess whose photographs came out better overall?)

Here are just a few shots that I took including some inspiring bronzey-orange coloured leaves peeping out of the snow which might make their way into a fledgling making-idea that I have.

As the day’s official documenter of Giles-Babbidge-behind-the-scenes, I made sure that I got some good shots of his hat. During the summer he had asked me whether I could knit him a hat with his logo on it.

After some charting, measuring of head and pattern writing, it turns out that indeed I could. Although his logo is usually black on white, or white on black, Giles preferred to have a more earthy colour to wear. The finished photo-hat, as it is now called, is made from Sublime DK baby cashmere merino silk yarn, in white and mole (which describes the colour perfectly), and is gorgeously soft to the touch. It’s getting an awful lot of use just lately.

‘.. if an old lady tried to knit that many, her hands would catch fire’

I love David Shrigley‘s work. I first came across it in an exhibition in Prague while I was there on a uni field trip a number of years ago. He was recently commissioned to produce this humourous short animation for the fashion label Pringle of Scotland, to mark their return to Milan Fashion Week this year. It is all about how jumpers and cardigans have been made over their 195 year history, and is just brilliant. Do enjoy.

Making it up as you go along…

Sometimes a whole lot of similar ideas come out at once, independently of one another.

I’ve been thinking for a while about crowdsourcing tweets to make a knitting pattern. I’d flip a coin to tell me to knit or purl but receive the rest of the instructions from my twitter followers. It’s something which I’ve sort of done before, with the aid of a few friends, but not on such a scale.

This is Mmm – Entrails, or The Red Un-Round. The result of pub-instruction knitting, it was originally cast on as a mobius wrap. It didn’t end up that way.

Mmm - Entrails (or The Red-Unround)

Mmm - Entrails (or The Red Un-Round)

From my Ravelry notes:

I liked the first version of The Round so much I decided to cast on another.

But… what happens in this one is going to be dictated by other people’s suggestions at the pub quiz.  I’ll cast on the amount of stitches they suggest, knit the amount of rows that they want and make it to their specifications rather than mine. I will change colours when they say and make the buttonholes to their request (size and placement).

Given that I usually knit this at the pub, random suggestions are making it all the more entertaining!

So, they asked me to stop knitting. I did.
Then they said: Cut it in half. Er… okay.

I think its quite good actually!

I’m planning to make a pair of wrist-warmers this time with the crowdsourced instructions which will come out with all kinds of weird patterns on them: I hope! There’s still a bit more planning to do, but I’ll be setting that up and executing it within the next couple of weeks.

It seems that quite a few other people have had similar kinds of ideas for knitting just recently: playing with making patterns or being influenced by social media.

How about knitted tweets? Knitters in the north of England, organised by the glittyknittykitty blog came together at the Shipley Art Gallery for an evening event which included freeform knitting something in 140 stitches or under. You can see one of Brendadada’s knitted tweets here.

Then, last week I found knitting dice, which are available from Knitivity. Basically, you throw a set of five dice to determine where your pattern goes. I’d love to have a go with some of these!

Lastly though is Lee Meredith’s new e-book Game Knitting.

Orange Game-Knitted Hat by Lee Meredith. Used under Creative Commons licence.

Orange Game-Knitted Hat by Lee Meredith. Used under Creative Commons licence.

Its concept is ace. In her own words:

The easiest way I’ve found to describe how game knitting works is this:
You make a list of reoccurring things that happen in a TV show, as if you are going to play a drinking game to the show (drink each time something on the list happens), and you want it to be a crazy night!  Which means, if you really were to turn your list into a drinking game, you’d either want to take very small sips of light beer, or you’d be too drunk to play after a couple of episodes.  So, once you have this game list, you design a knitting pattern around doing/changing something in your work every time something on the list happens.  This may be as simple as switching from knit to purl stitches, or making an eyelet hole, or something a bit more complex, like cabling or turning your work for a short row.  Just don’t try actually playing a drinking game as you game knit!

So, I tried this out while I was watching Strictly Come Dancing with my family at the weekend. Casting on for a sideways hat, I knitted an eyelet every time one of the following happened:

  • Len Goodman said ‘seven.’
  • Someone went wrong during the dance performance.
  • Bruce Forsythe made a dire joke.
  • One of the professional dancers got feisty with the judges.
  • One of the dancers came on in something akin to a tablecloth.
  • Craig Revel-Horwood said something bitchy about the performance.
  • There was actual paso music for the paso doble.
  • Tess said that the judges’ scores were in.
Strictly Come Knitting Hat

Strictly Come Knitting Hat

I was knitting in a mid-grey, and you can’t really see very clearly the patterning of the eyelets whilst it is being knit. I think it will come out more when it is blocked. In the meantime, above is a glaring photo in front of the window so you get the general idea. I’m going to continue with it next week, but with shows of two and a half hours each week right up until Christmas I think I’m going to end up with a whole lot of Strictly Come Knitted items!

The Dive: @Platea Project IV

The Dive: 1

The Dive: 1 by Ingrid Murnane

For the next few days I’m taking part in The Dive, @platea’s latest project. Here’s what @platea director, An Xiao has to say about it:

As the summer comes to an end in the northern hemisphere and the fall art season heats up, the steering committee and I thought it might be fun to have one last hurrah with a public dive through social media. The performance will be September 8 to 10, and we’re asking our performers to use the real-time news feed as a visual performance space for diving.

Just think about it: you go online, you check your Facebook and FriendFeed feeds, and as the day goes on, each status update and picture post slowly makes its way down. If it’s a busy day and you have a lot of friends, these updates slide down quickly. If it’s a slow day, they get there eventually. Imagine a picture of yourself diving through this space, gradually making your way down your friends’ news feeds.

Sounds kinda fun, huh?

I think so! Are you taking part too?

Find out more about it on the @platea blog where there is a list of performers, and follow @platea on Twitter and join the Facebook or Ravelry groups to watch the performance take shape.

From Skein to Ball of Yarn

from Twisted in Portland, Oregon.

This is splendid!
I really love Lego, but didn’t have the mechanised type growing up. Just imagine the My Little Pony carriages I could have built if I had! After seeing this video, I’m very tempted to go and buy some now. I’ve been thinking about making my own swift for a while, however I have to admit that if I had a yarn winder it might just sit there…

Alright, I have a confession. I like to wind my yarn by hand. It’s such an integral part of the process of knitting for me that I think that a yarn winder might distance me from the yarn. I’m not sure if I’m being silly here or not because I’ve never tried using one, but the personal contact through winding seems important to me.
Does anyone else have this quandry?

Name that yarn

Until this past weekend, I had never seen Star Wars. Yeah. I’ll let you take that in for a while.

Yes, I knew all the major spoilers and references that inevitably come up in conversation every so often, but those more subtle ones? They just passed me by. I’ve a great friend who is a bit of a Star Wars geek and he decided that enough was enough. He wasn’t explaining anymore and I really ought to see the films. On Sunday we sat down and watched Episodes IV- VI, breaking only to eat and walk dogs.

You know what? It was great and in fact my worst fears were unfounded (those being that as I am a 33 year old woman and not an 8 year old boy I would think the films were boring). In fact I really liked the last two in particular.

Another friend had brought her spinning wheel over and she and I spun yarn while we watched the DVDs. It was pretty relaxing and lent a strangely intense rhythm to the viewing.

Star Wars and Humbug yarns

Star Wars and Humbug yarns

I ended up drop spinning and plying the fatter skein of yarn, now named ‘Star Wars’ during the three films. There’s about  84 yards of 2 ply DK weight alpaca there. As you can see, I named it after what I was watching at the time of its making; after the whole experience of that Sunday afternoon. I’ve never done that before but it felt right. Usually I’ll name the yarn in relation to its colourway (such as the dark and light yarn on the right ‘Humbug’), or sometimes after a thing that it reminds me of in texture or drape.

I rather like the concept of naming the yarn after what I’m either listening to or watching while I spin. Often it is a film or TV programme. It calls to mind the textile artist Michael Brennand-Wood whose work often is titled by song lyrics.

I do wonder though, how much the name of the yarn influences what will be made using it. I have no immediate plans for ‘Star Wars’ nor for ‘Humbug’, which it tones well with. There could be some interesting mash-ups if I put the two together and thought about it too much! It is sure to be epic though.