I want to raise an issue here before I forget. I have become totally smitten with a beautiful new passion - to be precise, Misti Alpaca Chunky in natural black, which I glimpsed across a crowded Internet last night. Hunting for stockists I found one US provider and asked for postage costs (I've been ripped off badly in that department before so always check now). First of all they refused to give me a costing unless I actually ordered. Sorry guys, I've been trapped there before, no flipping way! Then they conferred at their end and sent me an email saying they had now listed the international postal rates on the site so I could check. I did. The yarn in question was around $12 a skein. Postage would be an additional $8.50 per skein. No adjustment for bulk buys, no reduction for a big package. Come on fellas, we know perfectly well that there are stages in packaging where two (or three) costs the same as four or five. We know that. Are you seriously telling me that I will have to pay almost as much again per skein to get it across to Ireland? Thanks, but no thanks.
They did say that they also factored in the cost of having to send someone to the post office to mail the package internationally (my italics). Now here I need your help, gang. What is it with this going to the post office in the States? Is it a really really serious adventure, the kind that needs a rucksack and a week's supply of chocolate? Is it risky to the point of inadvisability? Are there endless miles of jungle or desert involved? Does it require advance vaccinations and a visa? Are your post offices the size of major European cathedrals, with side apses and corridors and catacombs where a girl could get lost with her package of yarn? Do you get fingerprinted on the way in, bodysearched, subjected to the kind of indignities that make late night television? What is it about your post offices that makes people so unwilling to go there? (These alpaca people weren't the first to be strangely reluctant or downright difficult about posting to Ireland.)
I pop into my local post office a couple of times a week (lately, with all this yarn being sent out, rather more often), to post packages, pay bills, say hallo to the staff. It's friendly, relaxing, part of the daily round in a small country town. When I go away, I let them know and they keep my mail until I get back. I slip oranges across the counter at Christmas. When we had a spectacular crop of grapes this autumn, I brought those in too. We love our local post offices and give them all the support we can. So tell me what's so different. I really want to know.
Oh the Misti Alpaca Chunky. I'm currently talking to another web provider who seems a little more human. It still may cost more than I'm willing to pay to get the delectable stuff across, but we'll see. Wonder if it would be cheaper to go to Peru and get it from the source...? In the meantime, I suggest you check out postal costs whenever you buy on the Web, and slap down HARD on those who misuse the system grossly.
Seriously happy holidays by Frog Marsh at the moment; in fact, so relaxing does a good frogging session feel that one could definitely get hooked. Might frogging yet turn out to be the new knitting? I know I thought I was imagining the calm pleasure before, and then someone else said she loved frogging as well, and then another - so what is it about this act of ripping out what took such blood, sweat and tears to create that gives such a feeling of fulfilment?
Anyway, the latest frogging indulgence was with yet another red vest that hadn't turned out quite as anticipated several years ago and had been languishing in the armoire ever since. It was a particularly nice orangey-red shade of mohair/wool which suited my colouring perfectly, and the lavish use I had made of it for the vest meant there wasn't quite enough left on the original cone for anything else. I hunted rather casually for it and couldn't find the pest, so gave up overnight; then saw the cone again, had another go, and this time unearthed the offending item.
Looks quite OK doesn't it? But it wasn't. It was far too big for one thing (how is it that you check gauge carefully and yet end up with something several sizes too large?), and for another, the vandykes or points at the bottom just looked naff, not cute at all. AND of course I'd done a crochet band around the edge, because I couldn't face picking up all those stitches, and THAT was too tight on one side and too loose on the other. Oh boy do I have a degree from the University of Unfitly Finished Buttonhole Bands! With honours!
Now it's all back in its original state of loose yarn, skeined up and washed, awaiting a new project which is the utterly gorgeous Celtic Viking Vest (or is it Viking Celtic Vest, I forget) from Knitter's Fall 2003. It was the adorable Angeluna (Angeluna WHEN are you going to get a website so that we can all enjoy your witty style online?) who reminded me of this particularly beautiful pattern, so that's what the yarn is now going into. Can't wait for it to dry. Wish I could hurry it along but if I know one thing it's that you can't speed up the drying process where yarn is concerned- it's asking for trouble and I get into enough trouble as it is without asking for more.
The new swift (well the antique one I got on eBay) works beautifully, I'm happy to say. I never thought it would stand on its own, but it's so beautifully balanced that it does, without any clamp to keep it secure. I used it to wind up the lovely raspberry ripple sock yarn from Ms Knitingale.
How quickly one becomes addicted! I now find that I can't be doing without a pair of socks on the go. I miss having them to work on when I'm out and about (couldn't these annoying eBay sellers of Misti Alpaca take socks with them to the post office for heaven's sake?). In fact I'm going to re-christen this lovely Knitingale gift the Blackberry Pie Sock Yarn, since that's what the colour is like (especially if you add ice cream to the pie and mash it up a bit). I was so delighted with this soft merino from Nature's Palette (where did you get it, Ms. Knitingale?) that I kept going and cast on for a new pair of socks right away.
Here they are, all ready to go. I did think of trying the toe-up method, but when I looked it up and read about provisional cast-ons and wrapped stitches and slanted increases and abstruse calculations that wouldn't disgrace a nuclear physicist, I felt faint and decided to stick with the tried and tested cuff-down. But this time I'll be canny. I'll weigh the remaining yarn on the ball every now and again, and when I get to half the original weight I'll know it's high time to be heading for the heel if not too late altogether.
The tale of knitters who would a-frogging go is not finished, though. You may remember I was crowing the other evening about the Red Sweater KAL and how clever I'd been at moving to a quintuple strand of cashmere and 6mm needles. Late last night it became sickeningly clear, although the obvious was resisted as long as possible, that the sweater was just that bit too loose-textured on 6mm needles. Tried to ignore it (after all I was right up to the fun bit where you do the patterning across the chest) but in the end had to accept the truth. Another session by Frog Marsh, followed by a refreshing dip (for the cashmere that is, not me.) Have now hunted out the 5mm circular and will try YET again.
How do you store your circulars? Mine are in a hideous muddle in a sort of circular hatbox.
I've been fully intending for over a year now to make one of those wall-hanging circular needle storers, with a neat tape label by each size, but haven't got round to it yet. Even sorted out what fabric I'll use - but time is at a premium chez Celtic Memory right now and unlikely to reduce in price this side of the New Year.
Someone asked, and yes, I suppose I should use the official pattern for the Irish Hiking Scarf... but I did see that someone else had used a braided cable which looked superb, so I kind of thought... Playing outside the
perimeter again, Celtic Memory! When will you learn to play the team game?
UK Jo asked what my slanted cast on was, that I had thought of using for the scarf. It's not an official way of casting on as such, just a way I worked out of giving a scarf a slanted end which sometimes looks better. You cast on about 3 to start and then increase at one end either every row or every second row until you get to the right width. Then, when you reach the required length for the scarf, you reverse the shaping by decreasing at the other side to match until you get back to 3 stitches, then cast off. It takes a bit of fiddling around to get the pattern blended into this increasing, and sometimes it's easier to work a band in moss stitch until you're up to stitch count. Another way would be to cast on the correct number and work short rows, but I don't think that gives such a good effect as the increasing way.
UK Jo also said (quite innocently I am willing to believe), 'Nice to see so many projects on the go.' HahahahaHAHHH! She means the two or three (or four?) I listed! Jo, do you know about cupboards and
closets and wardrobes and tin trunks in the attic that strange, obsessive people sometimes fill with WIPs? Pray heaven you never do. It's not pretty. It's fun, it's addictive, it possesses a strange yeast-like expanding quality of its own, but it's not pretty.
And yes, there is yet another interest on the horizon (well, on my desk next to me as I type actually). A new Japanese book, this time on Guernseys and Arans...
What is it with these Japanese books? They're coming out by the dozen, all beautifully photographed and full of superb designs. You don't need to be able to read Japanese, the diagrams are self-explanatory. I know Francesca is obsessed by them too, but at least she's learning Japanese so she has some excuse. I just like the pictures! And oh the temptations! Show you some in the next posting.