Had to do an early telephone interview this morning with an Irish girl who is in the running for the role of Maria in a huge new production of The Sound of Music in London. Andrew Lloyd Webber is behind it, and he, together with the BBC, has organised a marathon television programme around the casting, called - wait for it - How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? Aoife has survived the early rounds (they are on BBC1 every Saturday and the viewers get to vote) and is now in the final 8. She's finding it just about the most demanding audition she's ever had and I'm not surprised. Several months of Big Brother-type television, with cameras recording you day and night (all the hopefuls are living together in the aptly-named Maria House) would have me opting out pretty quick. Still, I hope she makes it.
She's a pretty girl and would look perfect as Maria. I'll keep you posted. For anyone who can get BBC1, the final is on September 16, I understand.
And it is nearly September. Where did August go? I really must get started on the new designer yarns
for autumn. This weblogging and emailing new friends thereby made is so absorbing, and the knitting projects are so all-consuming, that the design side has been almost forgotten lately. Celtic legends I think this time - The Children of Lir is in my mind - and of course Samhain, since that's coming up in October. It's the first festival of the Celtic New Year, and we still have more than you might think of those ancient traditions in our blood. Even the most commercialised Hallow-E'en customs have their roots in something far deeper and
older. Will try to get going on the preliminary stages next week (that involves hauling everything out and up to the sunny drawing room, locking all doors, and hurling yarns around the place searching for the perfect blend, combination, twist, merge). Then I let myself out, lock the door after me, and let it all stew for a day or so. It has usually sorted itself out by the time I go back in (unless one of the dogs has been in there first). Peg drew my attention to a posting on Knitter's Review Forum where a cat had got at a skein of Seasilk (calm down now, calm down) and the writer had found it strangely calming to work for several nights carefully untangling the resultant chaos. I actually know what she means: I've had to do the same when Muffy had been in action (or taking therapy, whichever you prefer) and did find it strangely relaxing - I was almost (but not quite) sad when it was done. Is untangling good for the soul? Is it a metaphor for what we wish we could do with life?
Enough philosophy. I unearthed a wonderful book today when I was vacuuming the library (from the number of dead flies, I calculate it hasn't been done for a year or so, but libraries aren't exactly heavy usage areas, or so I tell myself). It's Jan Messent's Wool n'Magic and it is absolutely incredible. I remember buying it years ago, not quite sure why I had but knowing I had to, and now I know why. I've grown to the stage where I can really take it all in and leap even further. Do you ever find you acquire things before you know that you're going to need them? I was collecting strange fibres and odd enhancing yarns like very thin glitters and shiny threads, long before I realised that I wanted to create my own skein compositions. Anyway, the pictures in this book are enough to set your heart going pit-a-pat. Look at this handspun shawl:
What I love about Messent's designs is that she has no problems mixing crochet and knitting, embroidery and canvaswork, whatever she thinks will look best on her design. In this shawl she's used knitted diagonal squares, crochet squares, bands of garter stitch, bands of trebles, everything and anything, in different shades of fine handspun yarn. And some of the other designs are even more dramatic (there's a simply gorgeous mermaid that I know you'd love,Angie ). This one is called Stalactite Cave and uses wire mesh, dowels, cardboard, all sorts as base for her knitting and crochet freeform.
I must look up Messent's other books - she's done several, I gather. I love people who seem to be able to leap outside the usual and have no limits to their imagination.
Charity thank you so much for the link to that adorable amulet pouch. The bargain I'd struck with myself was that if progress was good on Elann and Interlacement socks, a little time out could be taken today to make my own version of said little amulet pouch. Accordingly, once work was out of the way this morning, there was a hunt for fine dpns. Ah! The rosewoods are still in use on the socks. Can't possibly disturb them - these are show material, after all. Down to the basement (disturbing Sophie who was reading Irish Trees on the stairs).
Found a very long, extremely thin pair of straights (old UK 12s, metric 2.75, US 2, ok?) Into the vice with them. Off with their 'eads (getting good at this. I now have a row of little heads on the shelf above the vice, for all the world like Traitors' Gate at the Tower of London.)
You can see the two little red heads resting on the vice in front of the needles.
Grab the fretsaw.
Ah. Not plastic then. So where's the hacksaw?
Metal needles do not cut neatly or smoothly. A file was needed. Several files of varying roughness were needed.
It took a bit of work (and took up quite a bit of my precious out-time from show projects) but eventually some reasonable points were fashioned on the cut ends.
Now I do not recommend that you try this at home. Metal needles hacked in half and roughly filed do not in any way resemble polished little rosewoods or even common-or-garden plastics. We're talking rough trade here. But they did the job. I used a fairly smooth sock yarn for the amulet pouch, so that there wouldn't be too much catching of fine fibres on the unsmoothed bits. When it was past that exasperatingly fiddly beginning bit, I took it out to the garden to have its picture taken.
It didn't take long to make at all. By mid-afternoon (life, as it tends to, intervened once or twice and delayed the process), the baby amulet pouch was finished, and ready to meet the world.
Isn't it lovely? I'm going to tuck some of my favourite scented herbs into it tonight (lemon verbena, southernwood) and then tomorrow put all my stitch markers safely inside. Charity, you are a pet for introducing me to this. Wouldn't they make perfect little gifts for friends, with sugared almonds or herbs or anything inside?
In the meantime - BACK to the slaughterhouse - I mean the Elann lace crop cardi!