Wednesday 28 November 2012

WIP Wednesday 121: The Misbegotten Glove

Druidcraft Tarot


 The soundtrack for today's post is martial and triumphant, and in no way a reflection of my personality:

Since the James C.Brett ball of Moonlight Sonata yarn is 500m long, not only has it enabled me to knit The Hat, but also a Neckwarmer, and 3 fingerless gloves for Mini Diva, who was enamored with the idea of a matching winter set of accessories.

No, she does not have 3 arms or hands. I made 3 because this was the first one:

It is not a sad and pathetic unloved mistake, it is a character-building Learning Experience we fondly call The Misbegotten Glove.

Using the pattern 'Raging Fingerless Gloves' because the gloves are knitted flat and then seamed (anything to avoid the dread DPNs of Doom or the Magic Loop of Lunacy), I found it to be somewhat slipshod; I am no Virgo perfectionist, but even I raise an eyebrow at instructions that say ''Don't worry if there's a little 'hole' where the thumb attaches to the body - it will blend in nicely with the lace pattern''.

Umm .....

No, it doesn't. 

And if you don't purl through the back of the loop on the thumb gusset yarn over increases ie. ptbl each YO, then you get a whole bunch of other extra holes that do not look like purposeful lace holes. You don't have to ask me how I know, as the Misbegotten Glove above is the proof.

Things I also learned from Misbegotten Glove was that it needs a really stretchy cast on and a really stretchy bind off, unless you want said gloves to also act as a tourniquet resulting in the loss of a limb from blood starvation. The bind off was a cinch, as I'm now an old hand at the Yarn Over Bind Off. But one of the new things I learned how to do (needs must when the Devil rides) was a Long Tail Cast On:

I watched Steph do this when she started The Hat for me; in fact, I watched her do it several times including in Super Slow Mo. It made me feel like Mr.T, and looked like a Cat's Cradle game gone terribly, tragically wrong and the Cat was strangled.  But me and You Tube persisted, and in the end I managed it, but not without lots of gleeful crowing.

Since I had carefully picked the pattern because it is seamed, I neglected to anticipate that a thumb gusset might not be part of that whole Flat Earth ideology as it's pretty much a 3 dimensional item:

I Magic Looped the thumb gusset. I know ! I can hardly believe it myself ! Hence the photographic proof.

That means I have slain two whole demons in as many days: go me !

Brimming with irritated confidence, I embarked on the two Pretty Sisters of the Misbegotten Glove; with which Mini Diva was so chuffed, they didn't even get washed and blocked before wearing them to school.

Hop on over to Tami's Amis for more tales of conquest ...

Friday 23 November 2012

FOFriday 114: Note from A Sickbed

I hope you are suitably impressed with my dedication to duty - I have dragged myself from my sickbed, mopped my fevered brow, managed to find both slippers, flung several warm layers of clothing on, and oozed outside to take pics of The Hat, hampered only by my inability to breathe.

You know, the pretty one that I totally failed to be able to start, and so Steph did it for me

Once started, the pattern is pretty straightforward, and lacy without being too full of holes for a winter hat.

The pattern is 'Raindrops on Roses Beret' but it can just as well be worn as a slouchy hat, which is Mini Diva's preference:

The yarn is once again James C.Brett Moonlight Sonata, this time in the exciting colorway SM2, otherwise more approachably known as shades of blue; it's a real shame that the sparkles don't show up well in photos.

The hat only used up about 150m of the 500m ball of yarn, leaving plenty over to make a matching scarf, or as actually requested, a Victorian-style neckwarmer instead.

While I crawl back into my pit with a nice hotwater bottle, why don't you pop over to Tami's Amis see what everyone else has made over Thanksgiving ?

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Yellow Jack Hoisted

Mystic Faery Tarot

Mini Diva has been making like a dying duck in a thunderstorm since Sunday night: a nice hacking chesty cough for which I have kept her off school. 

Lemsip, honey & lemon, and Soothers weren't cutting it, and after last night when it took raising her on 5 pillows to ease the coughing and allow her some sleep, I was on the phone to the doctor's surgery first thing this morning, and seeing the doctor second thing this morning.

The doctor asked lots of questions, listened to her chest and administered a peak flow breath test in which she should have been able to blow 308 but actually managed only 175. Four times. Each of which set off a coughing fit.

We came home with this:

Two different types of this:

And I will have to go back and collect the peak flow meter thingy tomorrow when it arrives at the pharmacy, so that we can continue to monitor Mini Diva's capacity.

Destructo Boy started to cough this morning, and I have a sharp sore throat. Might as well just paint my door like this:

Monday 19 November 2012

The Gambler

You need to click on this and play it as you read - all will become clear as you proceed, I promise:

When Nanny was visiting with us, she bought Mini Diva some yarn, for me to make something out of.

Generally speaking, other project deadlines permitting, this is absolutely not a problem: I do like to knit something for someone when it will be wanted and loved and petted and squeezed and called George. Oops, sorry, got carried away there.

Mini Diva wanted a hat and scarf, seeing as how the weather has turned cold and wintery; so we spent some time cruising the hat patterns at Ravelry - and because nothing is too good for Mini Diva - we even checked out the paid-for patterns. She decided on Raindrops on Roses, which I agreed was a very lovely pattern and would give her the slouchiness she desired.

All straightforward so far, right ?


I persevered through the online and RL hunt for the right size of double-pointed needles: the pattern specifies 4.25mm, and after an exhaustive search, my Twitter Knitter friends told me they did not exist, and that it was a typo in the pattern. Then I had to wait til the shops were open again so I could buy some 4mm ones.

OK, a hitch, but not insurmountable.

Here's the thing: these are double-pointed needles (or DPNs):

They come in packs containing 4 or 5 needles. It's a method of knitting teenytiny circular shapes, you know, as in the crown of a hat maybe. Or perhaps socks - but  we will not peer too closely into the scarey darkness under the stairs on that one, we don't like the skittery noises we can hear. Anyway. It might look a bit like this diagram:

It only might look a bit like that diagram if you are one of these:

My temperament is somewhat akin to the Kraken's, true, but I seriously lack it's most useful attributes, ie.

the Tentacles

And also these:

the Suckers

After almost weeping with rage and despair at the fleet-fingered DPN doyennes that seem to so carelessly litter You Tube, I decided that Magic Loop would be the technique for me.

In this, you take a circular needle ie. 2 knitting needles joined/connected to each other with a nice bendy plastic cable, and you twizzle it about like a cowboy with a lariat hog-tying a calf so that you can knit small circular things, like, I don't know, maybe the crown of a hat ?

It looks like this:

No, I WISH that's what mine looked like. It didn't even look like this, which is what I was ready to use by this time:

So I totally folded and asked my friend Stephcuddles to teach me how to use either of these techniques. We met for posh coffee (although not at Starbucks, I am boycotting them) at the weekend. She spent loads of time and effort and patience, but this old dog could NOT learn this dagnammit new trick ! 

Steph knitted the first 10 rounds to get me going..

I know when to walk away. And go off to look cool and regain my self-esteem by being interviewed on stuff I actually know something about - at Andy's blog.

Friday 16 November 2012

FO Friday 113: Lucky for Some

Made with the James C.Brett Moonlight Sonata yarn gifted to me by my MIL, I wonder if you remember this unprepossessing sack-like item from last week's WIP Wednesday ?

Look what magic can be wrought by blocking:

A Slice of Berries

 And here is a photo of the lace detail and edging, in which I think you may also be able to see the sparkles in the yarn: 

The pattern is A Slice of Autumn/Spring from Kay Meadors, and I may have had about 50m of yarn leftover. It came out a lot bigger in DK - 67'' wide by about 24'' deep. It is also interesting to see the difference that a yarn can make to a project; this is the last Slice of Autumn/Spring that I made, using Crazy Zauberball in 'Olive':

A Slice of Summer

 It looks the same size, but this is modelled by Mini Diva, whereas I am modelling A Slice of Berries. True, she takes the same shoe size as me now, and she is a tall girl, but even so ...

I am very pleased with how it came out: the yarn, the color, the size, and how easy it was. A brilliant pattern which I will probably use again.

Pop over to Tami's Amis to check out what other people are satisfied with today ...

Wednesday 14 November 2012

WIP Wednesday 119: Bright Idea

Spiral Tarot

If I was a bear ... Well, OK. If I was a bear without kids, I would definitely hibernate: I don't like winter - the cold, the wet, the greyness, the dark. Since I have kids and have to stay awake, I think of the summer and remember its colors by adding to the SGGSB.

The count now stands at 56, up from 44. In the two tall stacks are 10 of each type of blue square - I've decided that I will make 10 of each color combination, and then re-assess to see how many squares there are and whether they will make anything worth joining them all together. You'll be glad to know - as proof that I still retain some shreds of sanity - that I am weaving in the ends as I go:

As it is getting to halfway through November, I thought it was about time to start on the obligatory Xmas knitting for my youngest nephew, the pitiful victim who is blissfully unaware of the psychological and emotional scarring that is heading his way (mind you, with the full encouragement of his mother); I've found this seemingly simple pattern for a hoodie from Sirdar:

And lookee ! enough seasonally festive Stylecraft Special DK of the colorway 'Matador' in my stash to make an immediate start:

Believe me, your eyes are not bleeding as much as mine.

Since I cannot leave well enough alone, I have modified the pattern by using a straightforward checkerboard stitch pattern rather than - yawn - stocking stitch.

But I can tell you are wondering - no Scandinavian colorwork of white snowflakes, no applique of a reindeer, no sparkly fun fur, no jingly bells even: what's so damaging about this ?

Wait til you see the buttons I have found.

Hop on over to Tami's Amis to see what other evil plots gifts of love are in the works ....

Monday 12 November 2012

Deck Review: The Sirian Starseed Tarot

Deck Review: The Sirian Starseed Tarot

Author/Artist: Patricia Cori/Alysa Bartha
ISBN: 978-1-58394-536-0
RRP $29.95

This deck and its small paperback companion book arrived in a sturdy, glossy box which contained 78 oversize cards – by oversize, I mean 15cm x 10cm/6’’ x 4’’. The cards are quite heavy and stiff, with the lamination making them somewhat ‘sticky’ and difficult to shuffle, as appears to be common with decks printed in China.

Each card has not only a narrow white border, but also a secondary border of a starry night sky: pleasant and unobtrusive, a permanent reference throughout the deck to the theme of the deck; the backs of the cards are also pretty, but the image is not a mirror-image, so this might be an issue for readers who use reversals, but don’t wish to know a card is reversed until they turn it.

The deck’s art is collages of digital photos and digital art; this has great clarity and detail, but lacks warmth and humanity – somehow it seems to add a remote, cold aspect. This may be compounded by the predominance of dark colors and the color blue - even fiery cards seem to lack heat. The deck makes plenty of use of Eastern imagery, mainly of Buddhist and Egyptian origins. The amount of imagery varies from card to card – sometimes it is quite stark and naked, others are stuffed to the brim with details to look at, like a ‘Where’s Wally’ picture.

 The quality of the images, despite that they are ‘’spirit faces and beings that simply materialized in the scenes’’ is generally good, although every now and then there is a jarring sensation when the photoshopping appears to have been inserted clumsily:

Many of the Major Arcana have been re-named to allow for the removal of ‘’the restraints of past authority structures and the icons of their influence’’; thus, we find 0 The Fool becomes The Starseed, I The Magician becomes Indigo, II The High Priestess becomes Higher Self, and so on, including XIII Death as Transition and XV The Devil as The Shadow.

In the same way, the Minor Arcana suits have been re-named: Pentacles is Crystals, Swords is Orbs, Cups is Chalices, Wands is Flames. As you would therefore expect, the Courts have also been re-named: The Page becomes The Seeker, the Knight is The Adept, the Queen is The Sage, and the King is the Master: it seems the Sirians are not quite yet liberated from the out-dated Terran patriarchal structures. The unfortunate Seeker of Chalices even looks like a bearded lady through an unlucky slip of the stylus:

The Sage of Orbs is, interestingly, the only ‘impersonal’ person card – all the other people cards ie. Court cards are real, but she is a mosaic; the only people cards with vaguely traditional poses are the Sage of Crystals and the Master of Orbs:

The suit of Crystals is a modern expression of traditional images; the imagery of the Orbs departs from the traditional until we reach the 8 and 9; the Flames and Chalices suits are the easiest to see the reference and link to the traditional RWS images.

Despite the companion book claiming a bright new approach, and explaining the deck’s specific imagery quite well, the interpretations are exactly what we are used to for RWS clone decks; except for the Court Cards, which get short, non-Suit-specific shrift from the author – surprisingly, as she says that when she began to work with the tarot, she would ‘’find herself lost when one of these cards appeared in a reading’’.

My two favorite cards in this deck were two traditionally difficult cards: XV The Devil/The Shadow, and XVI The Tower:

I loved the immediacy given by the angle from which we view The Tower, the portrayal of the lightning and flames gives this card an urgency that it has but that is not depicted in other decks. And I loved the subtlety of the entrapment of The Shadow being portrayed as a cobweb, delicate yet stronger than steel.

The aspect of this deck that I really struggled with was its overall theme, one about which the author Patricia Cori has written several other works: that the Sirian High Council is working through special humans who are related to them in some way (Starseeds) to bring enlightenment and ultimate Ascension to human beings. According to various sites I found with Google, Sirius is not the only source for Masters and their wisdom, I found mention of the Pleiades, Andromeda, Betelgeuse and others listed as locations of friendly aliens who may send their progeny to live on earth to help us evolve spiritually. This makes me glad that I have personally matured almost enough not to burst out laughing hysterically at other people’s deluded craziness and how it is facilitated by the internet.

I am reminded of the Osho Zen Tarot: many people struggled with the Master card, Osho himself; if one disregarded this card, it was a perfectly workable deck; I believe this is also the case with the Sirian Starseed Tarot: if you like digital photography and art tarot decks, this is a pretty decent one, and the size of the cards means the deck lends itself easily to meditational or visualization work. However, for me this only applies if one can ignore the basic premise and/or theme ie. alien beings directing us from Sirius – and if one can ignore the premise, then it begs the question of whether an overall theme is at all important to using a deck. Many people don’t like to use Crowley’s Thoth deck because they perceive it as being as twisted as its creator, I wonder if people would avoid a deck like this because its creator, as a Starseed herself, has almost literally been dropped here by the Mothership.

                                                         © Vivianne Kacal, 2012.

Friday 9 November 2012

FO Friday 112: Testing, Testing, One, Two ...

Silver Era Tarot

This lovely card from the Silver Era Tarot portrays for me part of the experience of test-knitting. For my non-knitterly friends, this is the process where a designer creates a design and pattern for an item, and then floats the sheaves of instructions off through the aether to jonesing twitchy fibre addicts with no lives, so that they can knit said design according to the prototypical instructions, discovering along the way any typographical errors, design errors, actual gauge vs. imagined and desired gauge, stuff like that.

Just imagine test pilots, but instead of jets, there are knitting needles with the accompanying excitement and dangers, and I believe you have got an accurate picture of the experience. 

Some while back, my friend Denise from Voie de Vie asked me to test a scarf pattern she had designed; it so happened that I had the perfect yarn on hand for it, so I was glad to comply. It was a Super Secret Mystery Test Knit as no-one was allowed to put up any kind of information about it until Denise did her big reveal. So this was completed some time ago, but I'm doing my big reveal now:

The Piaf Scarf

I used one 200m ball of the ruby red 70% wool/30% silk aran weight yarn the Twins got me from Kingcraig Fabric; the eyelet pattern knitted up quickly on 5.5mm needles, and blocked out it measured 72'' long and 7'' wide. I think the smooshy soft yarn, color and pattern complement each other really nicely. The Piaf Scarf pattern - which I would rate as easy/beginner - also includes instructions for a fringe, if one wishes to add it, and is also available from here.

And then in the miniscule interval where I had completed one project but had not yet started the next (I know, right ? so hard to imagine a gap in time that small and empty), my friend Dianne sucked me along with her into the next test-knitting vortex, for Emily Ross (knitterain), testing her Arlington Shawl pattern using Rico Superba Poems:

It looked like that, until it was finished and blocked, when it magically transformed to this:


You'll remember I had been stressing a little bit about the I-cord bind-off; but when I got there, I realized I already had used this bind-off on other occasions, I just hadn't known it's name.

Lots and lots of double yarn overs in this pattern, including the bind-off itself, which I found challenging but absolutely worthwhile for the unusual effect it creates: it's mainly for this that I'd classify this shawl as an intermediate knit. And once you get into the swing of it, any mistakes you make are almost instantly obvious and therefore much easier to correct. 

Statistics for this shawl are:  
                                 1 repeat of Chart A 
                                 8 repeats of chart B 
                                 4 repeats of Chart C 26g of yarn left 
                                 1 repeat of Chart D 14g of yarn left after Row 10 
                                 9g of yarn left after Row 12 
NB. I did not do row 13/14 of Chart D as I was worried about the yarn running out; and after the i-cord bindoff, I had 4g of yarn left: so that was a pretty accurate guesstimate. When blocked, it measured 16 1/2'' top to bottom, and about 44'' edge to edge.

The Arlington Shawl pattern is not yet available to buy, but will be here when it is.

I believe I have puffed off enough for now, so kindly go and see more loveliness over at Tami's Amis.

Wednesday 7 November 2012

WIP Wednesday 118: More Moonlight


Having missed posting last Friday, I thought this week would be a little calmer, since the routine of school has started again after half-term.

But obviously not - hence the tardiness of this post, as today I was sorting some books at Belo's house, and scored some fascinating vintage knitting books, which I will post about another time.

I have now stashed 44 squares towards the Summer Garden Granny Square Blanket (I think we will shorten that to SGGS Blankey, don't you ?) and I confess I have crocheted none this week, as my Mother-in-law gifted me some yarn which I was impelled to use immediately - a ball of James C.Brett Moonlight Sonata in the oh-so-imaginatively named colorway SM3, which is rather soft and lovely gradated shades of dusty berry pinks with sparkles; not that you can tell from this photo, more's the pity:

You've seen the green colorway before. I should mention, the pattern is not for some kind of hippie bag-sack thing, but it will be revealed eventually as a Slice of Autumn/Spring, which, because of the color, I am calling Slice of Berries. I am so poetic.

And to tantalize my tarot friends, here is a pic of the Sirian Starseed Tarot in the process of being reviewed:

Yes, those are my increasingly notorious pink sparkly reading glasses appearing for the 2nd time in this blog. I'm not actually really such a pink person, I promise. I do hope that it is not a portent of impending fluffy-bunniness ...

See some sanity over at Tami's Amis ....