Monday, June 18, 2007

I FELT It Must Be Right!

I felt, you felt, we all felt. What am I doing getting into this? I need another sidetrack like I need a hole in the head. This is NOT a good idea.

But back to that in a minute. First of all, a little jealous drooling is in order, I think. Some shapely seduction in the shape of a rather beautiful merino lace yarn from Knitivity.

This is the most delectable colourway - Ray calls it Watermelon Ice, and you can almost taste the fresh delicious coldness. It's not too fine a laceweight, and I have in mind using it for some rather wonderful lace socks, knee length, the kind you'd wear to distract a bishop (think long black skirt with deep front slit so that you could flash the kneesocks and then cover them up demurely again).

Ray's story, intricately woven in with the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina and the devastation of New Orleans, is amazing enough - but that he turned his life completely around and decided to start producing wonderful yarns that 'delight the eye and please the hand' is something to really cheer about. Go over and check out his site. Those colourways are incredible. I'm going to fall off the No New Stash wagon for those, that's for sure. And I'll let you know how the socks go, and post pictures as and when. Let me know what colours you succumb to.

Rather more sedate temptation now, but temptation nevertheless. That wonderful quickie trip to Lapland produced a few treasures of its own. First of all, and most valuable to me, three skeins of lovely original Finnish sockweight yarn in natural colours, gifted to me by Lene.

Each skein would make wonderful winter socks, but I'm rather seduced by the idea of a traditional shawl in bands of each colour. What do you think?

Then there was the little treasure trove unexpectedly discovered in that traditional crafts hut.

Here we have four skeins of a soft chunky wool also Finnish, in a natural ecru shade -

- here a skein of a finer-than-sockweight handspun in a light grey: this one definitely destined for intricately patterned hose -

-and here a lovely big fat cake of the softest white pencil roving, also handspun by the same lady who produced the other two types shown above.

Well what would you have had me do? Leave them behind? Cast a glance over the shelves and say loudly, 'Oh, heavens, how quaint - rural yarn, whatever next?', and walk OUT? I'd like to have seen you leave empty handed, that I would.

There was one more purchase (only one?, they cry sardonically). I checked with Lene where her own LYS was, and nipped in there just before heading off, to snaffle a ball of this -

This is that marvellous Step yarn from Austermann, which contains both aloe vera and jojoba oil, and is supposed to be frightfully good for your feet. A really helpful touch in the shop (apart from the fact that the lady there spoke at least five languages fluently, switching from Finnish to Swedish to German to English to French while I was wandering around, and heavens know how many others when I wasn't there), was a wall chart next to the Austermann yarns showing exactly how each colourway looked when knitted up. You know how it is - they all look just basically jumbled and speckled in the ball and it's only when you start to knit that the actual sequence of shading is revealed. Or not as the case may be.

(A propos, it was only last night, when talking to a friend who was knitting with Trekking yarn, that I realised what all the fuss was about in that department. It looks like nothing in the ball, but creates a beautiful pattern in the sock. Every ball band should carry an illustration. ARE YOU LISTENING, PRODUCERS?)

Now if you've been paying attention, you will have registered the fact that Celtic Memory appears, apart from receiving totally undeserved gifts, to have not just fallen off the no-more-yarn-waggon but to have crashed to the ground with considerable force. Several times. Well, it's all right because I can account for all of it.

I think.

With a little help from Hillary, the incredible organiser of Sock Madness anyway. Hillary has posted some very helpful Rules on her blog for those trying to control their stashes. You should go and check them - they're very precise. The ones which help me are:

2(a): Sock yarn doesn't count.

3: We are allowed to receive gifts.

5: Souvenir yarns don't count - as long as they are unique and can't easily be got at home.

(In addition, I think Rule 2(d) allows us one Get Out of Jail Free card as well, permitting a single fall from the wagon.)

So I haven't been misbehaving, and shame on you for thinking I had.

Well, up to this stage in the posting you don't know any different anyway. Maybe you'd better stop reading now.

But if you do stop, you'll miss seeing this utterly enchanting little hippogriff:

Now what do you suppose that is? Looks like a child's play teapot, right? Or the kind of thing several shapeless jellybean creatures would clamber out of (out of which several shapeless... do watch your grammar, Celtic Memory).

But it isn't either of those. It's a knitting machine. A bright jolly little knitting machine with a handle that turns and needles that go up and down.

I was enchanted by this discovery, in the children's hobbies section of one of those bargain shops which sell imports from less expensive Eastern countries. First of all because it looked as though it genuinely worked, secondly because it only cost €29 (about $35, hardly anything in £stg.). And thirdly because it was uncannily like a stocking machine on which my mother used to crank out an endless supply of legwear for all of us in childhood. Hers of course was heavy, made of metal, clamped to a table, and yes would certainly be an antique of high value if we still had it. And I will admit with sorrow that we didn't exactly appreciate these warm woolly stockings in our youth. No, we'd gladly have traded them in for trendy nylon kneesocks like our more fortunate friends wore. I imagine my mother is gently smiling right now as she sees me working on handknitted socks.

And very very strangely, when I came home with my new toy, and checked up with Summer of Socks to see if I needed to know anything important before kick-off on June 21, what should I discover there but -

An illustration of a genuine antique sock knitting machine, almost identical to that which my mother had discovered in a sale and somehow managed to get going to provide legwear for her family. Very odd - I haven't come across such an illustration ever before. Coincidence?

(And in case you're wondering, they'd put it in to warn contestants of the dire consequences if anyone was discovered using one of these to get unfairly ahead!)

I can't wait to try my new little jollypop out. I don't imagine it would be any good for socks - can you imagine turning the heel? - but for long-tailed caps, scarves and - yay - legwarmers - it could be great fun. No more problems with producing big cheerful yard-long Christmas stockings to hang by the fire either. I'm mad about it. A really happy find. Suggestions for a suitable name in the comments box please as you feel inspired.

Now I have explained away all that new yarn added to the stash. No guilt there. On the No New Projects front, however, things are not quite so perfect.

Fortunately, I can blame this fall from virtue entirely on Lene. Yes, Lene, it's entirely and absolutely your fault so it's no use denying it. You showed me that French Market Bag when I was up there in Lapland last week. You demonstrated how well it had felted. And as if that wasn't temptation enough, you then went and lined it, embroidered it, and blatantly showed it off on your weblog. A girl can only stand so much temptation you know!

And I'd had this big cake of pencil roving snoring on a high shelf in the stash room since that trip to Canada. It had been marked down to absolutely nothing in Beehive, that marvellous yarn store in Victoria on Vancouver Island. I think nobody wanted it because it was a very very pale almost-not-there mint green rather than a more decisive colour, so I got it for a couple of dollars. And now seemed to be just the right time to try it out on a felting project.

Now the first thing to remember when dealing with a pull cake of pencil roving is not to pull. I of course didn't know that. However, after waking from a stupor to find myself surrounded by a sea of broken lengths of pale mint green roving, I learned to ease it from the ball rather than yank.

I may then have discovered the real reason it was remaindered. Now you kind of get used to balls of yarn either unwinding from the outside or from the centre. It stands to reason - one or the other has to work.

Not with this baby it didn't. I tried an inside end. Turned out to be a broken length. Tried an outside end. It rapidly retreated right into the depths of so many layers that it couldn't be unwound further. Tried the centre again. Found a triple strand which kept unwinding but no sign of a single strand.

By this time, the thought was recurring with increasing frequency that perhaps this hadn't been such a brilliant idea after all.

Peg, you're from Nova Scotia, where these pull cakes are put together, aren't you? Is there some secret to which I am not privy? Is there a knack? A special code? Are we meant, not to try to unwind, but to pull off large handfuls and toss them in the air? Stamp on the ball first? Boil it in oil? There has to be some way of working with these creations.

In the end I settled for breaking one of the triple strands, untangling back to some sort of starting point, winding it into a ball, repeating the exercise, blending the two broken ends together in that rolling-on-the-hand trick, and slowly getting going. At this rate it will be Tibb's Eve again and not a child in the house washed!

But lookit, I'm using up stash, right? And since I was visiting Lene when I first became seduced by that French Market Bag, it could reasonably be argued that the idea was a gift from her, yeah? So I'm not guilty after all. Radiating virtue and perfection, that's Celtic Memory.

(Any swearwords you hear are coming from the Nova Scotian Monster which is taking very unkindly to being woken up and knitted with.)


Angeluna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angeluna said...

OK girl, gifts don't count, given or received (this could be cleverly worked out with a friend, as if you hadn't thought of that already). Sock yarns don't count (my downfall). Souvenir yarns are absolutely acceptable (another downfall). Rare yarns that you will never see again, that's OK. And a get out of jail free pass. I don't see any problems here. You are absolutely on track IMHO.

Love the French Market Bag and in fact have one half finished on that UFO chair somewhere, at some level. Must pull it back out. I was thinking of felting it and using it raw, then I saw Lene's satin lining and realized there is more work to be done there than I thought.

Love the little sock machine, although I would have preferred your mother's. How did you lose that? Are you sure it's not down in the basement or in the back of the shed? Or did you hate those socks so much you dumped the thing? Once I found one can knit in patterns with them, I would really, really like to have one.

As for your little machine and socks, you knit a tube, then do an EZ, which is just cut into it where you want the heel to be and do an afterthought heel. No problems there.

As for your roving cake, why don't you try pushing out the whole center, loosening it all up, then laying it out around the room and rolling it up. Muffy would probably love to give you a hand.

Angeluna said...

I forgot to mention, my middle name is Enabler.

Anonymous said...

with all that lace yarn you could join beads and mysterious lace, what could be better?! karen

Raytheist said...

Hi Jo! What a marvelous write-up for Knitivity! Thank you! I can't wait to see pictures of the hose as it grows.

That little child's knitting machine: I'd love to read your opinions on it. I have one of the original Barbie knitters (from several decades ago, I'm sure) which does the same thing: knitting tubes.

Back to work I go! Thanks again for the mention. One of your readers has already come to visit!

Ronni said...

My daughter has one of those little purple knitting frobbies. We got it used from a friend who was moving. She's played with it a bit but it seems to be fairly sensitive to yarn weight. She was using a cotton that was too thin and between the lack of elasticity and the too thin yarn she ended up with a sort of drop stitch scarf in a tube thing. If the tool had been more consistent about where it dropped the stitches (yeah - it is a bit much to expect consistent mistakes isn't it) the resulting tube would have had a pretty interesting look. We'll have to see how the PPK (purple plastic knitter) does with say a worsted or even chunky weight wool when next we get around to messing about with it.

Rhonda said...

You'll love the French Market bag. I made one myself and it's my everyday knitting bag. I have some ochre coloured Magpie hiding in my stash for another, because you can never have enough knitting bags.

Cindy/Snid said...

I had a hard time reading past the part where I was imaging you flashing the bishop! i was laughing too hard!

(And don;t worry, we'll never tell anyone about the yarn!)

Roggey said...

I *adore* it when you're a right naughty thing! And wait until you see what I have arriving next week...

Evelyn said...

I read a bunch of reviews on of what looked like the same knitting toy, and they were uniformly negative. I hope your experience is different.