Week 2 – Bonjour mes amis

This week I worked very hard at the day job for four days, then on Friday I accompanied my sister to London to The France Show at Earl’s Court.  It was a lovely day out and an interesting show; particularly interesting to me comparing it to the Knitting and Stitching Shows which I am more familiar with.

My sister very kindly provided me with an early birthday present in the form of a lined basket to use for my knitting projects.  I’ve been looking for a while for something pretty to hold my main project and this was ideal.

An early birthday present

Ah, sweet

On the needles

Both of the projects I started last week are progressing.  I’ve worked a little on the green sock and remain undecided about whether it will fit.  My plan is to complete the first one and wash it then check on the fit.  At that point I will know whether it’s worth going on with the second sock.  I still think it makes sense to find a good everyday sock yarn so if this doesn’t turn out well it’s no big deal.

Turned the heel of the first green sock

I’ve also done a bit of work on Laccaria and have completed the back.

Progress is being made on the cardigan

It seems quite long compared to some cardigans I have made in the past couple of years, but I think it should fit well.  I have made one change to the pattern so far – the back of the neck is supposed to be shaped to dip a little, but I really prefer the back of my neck well covered, so I carried on and just did a straight cast-off at the top of the shoulder shaping.  I think this evening I will get a chance to start on one of the front pieces.  These have a little bit of patterning so I shall have to disengage autopilot for a while.

Reading

This week my reading has been pretty much limited to dipping in and out of “The Cyclist’s Friend” by Chris Naylor which is a “miscellany” of cycling-relating anecdotes.  It is ideal reading for the bath.  I keep hovering on the brink of buying Haruki Murakami’s “1Q84” then stepping back again.  I love Murakami’s books, so there is no doubt that I shall buy it at some point.  The thing is, the first two parts were released as one book, and hardback at that.  Now, last year I read a hardback copy of “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest” and it was so heavy that it made my hands and wrists ache.  So I will either wait in the hope that the Murakami comes out in paperback sometime soon or I shall order it as an iBook.  The only downside to iBooks is that I don’t like to take my iPad into the bath.

Writing

I would like to say that I have written religiously in my diary all week, but that would be a bit of a fib.  I have done a bit, enough not to feel like I’m totally avoiding it, but nowhere near as much as I intend.  I think it is purely a matter of making it into a routine.  Ah, if only routines made themselves without any effort from me!!

So here we are on the brink of another working week.  As well as working hard, I hope there’s plenty of time to delve into my knitting basket.

Full of the makings of a Laccaria cardigan

 

Week 1 – Back to Reality

It’s been a real back-to-work week and I have been rather lacking enthusiasm, not just for work but anything much really.  It was a windy week in the UK; fortunately in Norfolk I think we had things slightly quieter than a lot of the country, but it was enough to scare me away from cycling to work on Tuesday.  Walking to and from work, in turn, was enough to get me back on my bicycle by Wednesday!

On the needles

For the beginning of the year I have taken the opportunity to start two new projects.  I have mentioned that my knitting had slumped a little with nothing quite working how I wanted it to, so I have taken my favourite yarn and hope to make it work for both projects.

First, Laccaria, the Norah Gaughan cardigan from her Berroco Pattern Collection Volume 6, which I am knitting in J C Rennie Supersoft Lambswool in the Couture colourway.

Making a start on Laccaria by Norah Gaughan

I struggled a bit with the gauge on this and have ended up going for the yarn held double, knitted on 4mm bamboo needles and knitting a size 34″.  Usually I would knit a size 38″ but when I started that it was coming out unfeasibly large.  I keep measuring this one against a jumper I know fits well, but am still convinced it will be a bit too tight.  Well, time will tell.  One strange thing about this pattern is that you decrease to shape the waist, but knit quite a long while before starting the increases to the bust.  Again, I cannot predict whether or not this will fit me well (I am short-waisted – I can see how it would suit someone long-waisted), but I’m happy to give it a go.

My second project is a pair of basic socks, again in the J C Rennie Supersoft Lambswool, this time in the colourway Lush.

Green sock with purl stripes

I have chosen to add three “purl bump” rows at the end of the cuff before heading into plain stocking stitch for the rest of the sock.  These socks will be an experiment in durability as I don’t know how this yarn will hold up to wear.  I have been very pleased with it for garments, but socks are a whole different kettle of fish.  If it does work out well, I have plenty of yarn to slowly build up my everyday sock collection.  I am using my usual 2.5mm needles, but am working on 56 stitches, rather than my customary 60, as this yarn, whilst feeling thinner than most sock yarns, seems to knit up a bit bigger.

Reading

Over the Christmas break I galloped through a Josephine Tey detective novel which I received for Christmas.  Once again, I thoroughly enjoyed this.  Josephine Tey wrote her novels mainly in the late 1940s and they have the smaller world charm of that era which contrasts with modern detective novels.  The idea of a “body count” doesn’t enter into it.  In fact, in “The Franchise Affair” no-one dies – it is all about a teenage girl’s allegation that two women in a small town had kidnapped her and held her against her will for a month.  One thing I particularly like about Ms Tey’s writing is that she keeps the focus on the main story.  Yes, there are little things happening around the periphery such as you might expect to occur in the lives of the characters, and some people are telling the truth and others are not, but I don’t get the feeling that things are being thrown in as ‘red herrings’.  In a good crime/mystery story you need enough complexity to make the story interesting, but no so much that it becomes clouded and unreal.

I have many more books sitting unread on my shelves, and am not entirely sure what to pick up next.

Writing

I enjoy keeping a journal/diary, but have fallen out of the habit.  I have been experimenting with various pads and books and also with electronic options for the iPad, but to no great avail.  I have kept both handwritten and word processed journals in the past, and have written reams in them, and I am a big fan of the therapeutic value of having somewhere to tuck away your angst; writing it all out of your system.  Not to mention how very much I enjoy going back and reading old journals.  Anyway, I think it is high time I got back into the habit of writing a diary and with that in mind I’ve bought some Moleskine Cahiers (or exercise books to you and me).  I was taken, most of all, with the size of these particular offerings – at 7 1/2″ x 9 3/4″ they give me more freedom than even a standard A5 book whilst being less cumbersome than an A4 size.  Needless to say, these are stay-at-home books.  It remains to be seen whether I am happy with the paper quality.

I have a vague plan to set up a paper-based system to record my knitting exploits too, but this is still in the daydreaming stage.

Ultimately, I hope to improve my handwriting which is suffering from lack of use.  Oh, and to use and enjoy my precious pens including this beauty:

Cross Apogee Fountain Pen

Now it is Sunday evening and I intend to get in some solid knitting whilst watching the next BBC offering of Sherlock, and perhaps downloading an audio book.

 

Where did my handwriting go?

Lovely pen

I used to be able to write neatly.  When I was at school I won a prize for keeping a neat notebook.  I have a love of all the paraphernalia of writing, the notebooks, the pens, the ink, the heady smell of a stationery shop.  So when did I lose the ability to write, and where did my handwriting go?  Did the rot start the day I first lay fingers on the keys of a typewriter?  Certainly, by the time I was taking my creative writing course I could write much more effectively sitting at a computer than handwriting on paper and then laboriously transcribing it.  I didn’t realise it at the time, but my handwriting was already starting to drift away from me.  Yet even a few short years ago I was capable of turning out page after page of readable script when I put my mind to it.  Now, it disintegrates into an ungainly scrawl which the finest pens and ink cannot remedy, and I can no longer love it.

I don’t know if my handwriting and I can ever be reconciled, but it feels like a part of me is missing if I cannot pick up a pen and produce something sweet.