Monday, June 30, 2008

Knitting for a baby

The past week has very much been work and knitting.
And not just any knitting, but knitting for a baby.
Not something I've tried before, but it's hugely enjoyable and somewhat addictive, I'm afraid. There is no other way you can finish a dress, a hat and a pair of socks in less than a week if not knitting for a wee one.
She's not due to arrive until August, but her mother, my lovely colleague, will be going on maternity leave by the end of this week.
But I could not wait until then to present her with this:
(I was in a bit of a hurry to take the photo as I was running late for work. So it really does look much better in real life, not as if it has just been dropped on the floor and then stomped on by a horde of mad cats. Which is a fairly close description of the situation seconds before the photo was taken)

The dress is largely based on a pattern from Drops/Garnstudio. I changed the waist and borders from boring garter stitch to a pretty ribbed pattern. At least I think it's pretty.

The hat I made up. I had a few gos at the bonnet that's part of the dress pattern, but I don't think tying satin ribbons around the neck of a wriggly baby would be much fun on a regular basis. And the babies I've seen have been very wriggly.
So I decided to do a little hat instead. And it's terribly cute. And I hope the little girl has a small head (a hope shared by her mother).
And the socks are actually "Perfect Baby Booties". I think I would like to make more of them. But attempt to knit the whole lot in the round and maybe top-down, as I suck when it comes to seaming.
My seaming really is wonky and my crochet shows how challenged I am in that particular area, but then it shows its loving handmadeness only so much better.
And handmadeness is very good according to the trend types.
And the mother truly appreciated it.
Her reaction was every knitter's dream.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Stormy weather and what happens when you try to sort your stash

It's madly stormy outside. Probably one of the more autumnal Midsummer Eves.
And I wonder if the summer is ever coming back.
The cats are cosy.
Very much so.
And I'm knitting Coviellos Ruffled Jacket from VK's 25th anniversary issue.
And I've never seen myself as a ruffle-kind of girl. But it is very pretty.
I attempted some tidying up this weekend which extended to sorting the stash (Oh, I have quite a stash by now), and I found this black aran weight wool which should have been a sweater but obviously didn't want to.
And that was the end to the tidying and the start of the Ruffled Jacket.
At present I have a sleeve and the left front, and that's insane as I only started it yesterday afternoon.
It really is a very pretty jacket - but the amount of seaming involved is crazy and the thought of it nearly makes me want to reconsider the yarn's vocation.
But only nearly.
I think it might be only a week or two before I have a brand new handknit jacket.
That's amazing!
The V-neck dress is taking forever and I'm currently in the middle of a very long, monotonous stretch of plain stockinette in the round. Boring.
So for now that is assigned to be knit only when waiting, watching something very interesting on the telly, or for transport.

Now I'm just wondering if I should cast on for another sleeve or the right front or the back. And when to set the alarm for tomorrow morning. The cats usually wake me up, but they're not fail proof.
I'm not expected to be at the office until 11-12, which allows for a lovely, long, slow morning - and some doing laundry and things. And cuddling soft morning cats.
But .... I'm just looking forward to going to work. And I don't know if I want to wait until noonish.
I have not been there since Friday, and it feels like a very long time.
And this is a feeling it's really very strange and hard getting used to. Actual looking forward to going to work.
After all that time dreading the other crappy job.
Besides there is fresh baked bread in the morning.
And sometimes there are bits of pineapple or fresh berries. Meant for yogurt but fine for just nibbling.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Mid-year look at the big plans for 2008

So, on the first day of this year I set up a list of great, big plans for this year.
And since Mid-Summer's Eve is nigh it would perhaps be a good idea to have a look at them.

I will finish the Elfin Bride.
It's finished. It's a bit tight around the chest, and I need to find a way to fix my cast off on the back, as it's a bit too tight. But otherwise it's finished. And very lovely.

I will finish Elizabeth I.
Erm,... I've frogged her. I could not figure out how far I had come, and I decided I would much rather knit her in the round. Besides it's a very enjoyable knit so I will start over - and maybe even finish her this year.

I will knit the second Spiral Boot sock...
I had completely forgotten about this. Probably because I want to reverse the spiraling and have yet to figure out how.

I will finish the City Coat even if it is hard work.
I know it will be worth it, but it still has a long way coming.

I will finish the Saturday in the Park dress from Fitted Knits, even if it’s boring.
It really is boring!

I will finish the Hex coat....
That's such an autumn/winter thing. It will get done in time, I think

I will finish the Fitted Jacket-gone-tunic. I have a major crush on it and it’s very addictive knitting. I just have to read up on the dominating-yarn-thing.
I have yet to read up on the dominating yarn thing, and steeks frighten me. But yes, it's fun, and yes, I'll get back to it.

I will finish the Cashmere lace blouse. It would be perfect for spring….
Maybe next spring.

I will accept and embrace the fact that I suffer from a bad case of castonitis. That is not very likely to change. But I could of course try to control it a bit.
I've chosen to just accept and embrace it.

Once done with the WIPs I will knit the Knitted Robe of Insanity! I will!
I may start a bit sooner.

And I will knit more socks.
There's still time for that. And more is a somewhat loose term anyway.

I will take better care of my skin. By the end of January I’ll be closer to 40 than to 30 and so the days of going to bed without using cleanser and cream etc. are officially over. No matter how tired or drunk I am. I swear!
I've improved a lot. Let's just keep it at that.

I will take very good care of my pancreas!
Oh, yes.
And remember to appreciate the fact that my inner bits and pieces are actually functioning perfectly again. And not cease to be amazed by the complex mostly-silent ever-busy wonder that is the human body.
Oh, yes.

I will spend less time online and more time outside.
I think this one has worked for me. But that's easy to say when the sun is shining and the park is green.

I will read more for entertainment without reading less for education - meaning more fiction but not less non-fiction, just more pleasure reading.
I do get great pleasure from reading non-fiction.

I will be better at taking credit for my work. And learn to toot my own horn a bit.
I'm doing much, much better in that department.

I will learn to recognize flirting when I meet it.
I still have to work on that one.

I will try to work less.
Ha! Not bloody likely, but now I actually enjoy it. A lot!
And play more.
Knitting is playing. As is teasing the cats. So, yes.

I will knit sweaters for the cats. Even if they’ll absolutely hate me for it.
I have not yet gathered the courage.

And I will get my bachelor’s degree this summer! That one is certain.
It was not as certain as that. Unfortunately. But it's OK.

So it's not madly impressive, but then it's always nice to know there's still room for improvement!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Oh, Stockholm. Oh, Rudolph. Oh, Anthropomorphic cloud in the sky.

Oh, Stockholm was wonderful.
It is one of my favourite cities.
If Copenhagen and Paris had a lovechild it would be Stockholm. It is so beautiful, and pleasant and calm even with its big-city vibe.
And we were spoiled.
I had my very own hotel room with armchair and desk and bath robe and a huge bed with crisp white linen and thick, soft towels. I could happily have stayed there, but I'm glad I didn't.
We had dinner at Operaterrassen with a stunning, panoramic view of the castle and the water. It was so beautiful it was almost surreal!
And when I couldn't figure out what renytterfilé was, my charming Norwegian colleague kindly translated it as "Rudolph".
I may see myself as a vegetarian, but when I'm a guest I eat whatever is being served. Even when it's called Rudolph.
And I can even bring myself to find it rather tasty. And I probably need the protein from time to time.
And the food and the wine was just wonderful. In particular the passion fruit cheesecake.
As was the band and the DJ, and quite against character I decided to stick to water for the evening so as to better enjoy it all without being numbed by alcohol.
And I may do that more often.
I had no less fun, and I had a lot more energy on Saturday.
Enough to go for a long walk with a colleague while the others were still snoozing.
And it was of course fun and interesting to meet our colleagues from the other Nordic countries. Even if I feel we had far too little time.
Less time as we had to wait for 1 1/2 hours for take off because a wheel had to be changed.
I think I drove the poor young man next to me bonkers by going through three newspapers and a documentary podcast before knitting a few rounds, then going through the newspapers once more and knitting some more and generally having far too much energy confined in a narrow window seat.
And then I kept pointing out interestingly shaped clouds to him, even after he had shown very little interest in the first five.
I didn't take any photos, so here's one of the cats instead:

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Bird bath

It has been raining today. Enough for big puddles to remain in the gutter and the holes in the streets.
And waiting for the bus home I enjoyed watching a pair of pigeons bathing joyfully in the puddle by the bus stop. They were completely drenched in water, and looked happy and calm and playful and unusually charming, considering they are big city pigeons.
Suddenly a car came racing and the pigeons rose like little wet, feathery cannon balls. And one hit a young man right in the crotch.
I hadn't seen him coming either.
And I don't know which were more startled, the poor bird or the poor birdstopper.
And now I cannot help wondering how he must have tried to explain the big, wet splash of water with "You see, this big wet pigeon came zooming at me....".

For lack of pigeon photos, here's Laurenz, the Master Snoozer

And Vincent's paw.

Sunday, June 08, 2008


I think I can say for all of us, that we love the new litter. As much as you can love litter, that is.

The dressmaking didn't turn out quite as planned.
I soon realized the satin is far too heavy for what I had in mind, and I also thought it better to spend the afternoon and evening and most of the night drinking white wine with friends.
And today I do not feel like sewing at all. It would require far too much thinking about what to do. And I'd rather just eat melon, drink strong mint tea, and knit.
Instead I've rummaged through the mess that is my wardrobe and found something wearable which will have to do.
It's not very summery, but it's fine. And I cannot stand myself when I waste too much time obsessing over what to wear.

The gold skirt is one of my favourite pieces of clothing. Ever!
But I've never worn it.
The silk is a very delicate silk and metal weave and I've always thought that it was either too pretty for normal day wear or too delicate for wild parties.
So I've just looked at it and stroked the fabric very lightly and hung it back. Every time, until now.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

This weekend is for fancy new cat litter and dressmaking

Okay, this may not be as exciting as I think it is. But anyway:
We have new cat litter. Very fancy cat litter.
Apparently the cats recognized the bag from the pet store and thought I brought home food. But it was our new Fresh Haiyu Crystals. Stupid name.
It means I will only have to remove the poop.
And with a very fussy Siamese boy who sings songs on his way to the litter box to have me ready to scoop the second he's done, this will be an advantage.
And I'm tired of carrying home not only big bags of food, but also big, heavy bags of litter.

The two bags I've bought are meant to last a month, and thus they cost the same as, if not less than, the usual super market variety.
The bags have been thoroughly examined by the cat boys, with a good deal of rubbing against and sniffing and jabbing at them.
But when I brought the bag to the bathroom rather than their food bowls, I think I saw traces of disappointment.
They have both done a quick test pee, though. So there'll be no need for an adjustment period as it kindly says on the back of the bag (which I didn't read until after replacing the old litter with the fancy crystals.)
I think we're happy with the change.
Less waste, less carrying things, less scooping - and I think it's actually nicer for the cats to use.

Far more interesting is next weeks trip to Stockholm with the Big Investment Bank, for a day of getting to know our colleagues from the other countries and such things.
And there's a big party in the evening. I like parties.
But having nothing to wear I've spent an hour or two going through fabric stores today before deciding on a lovely heavy satin in an oystery colour. I have pretty beads and rhine stones and a very clear idea of what I want to make of it.

It's always a bit difficult dressing for work functions such as this, especially when the only hint at dress code is "festive", which can be interpreted in a myriad of ways.
And the first time you find yourself amongst all your colleagues and the big bosses you do not want to stand out for being under or over dressed.
So I'm aiming for something elegant and fairly simple - but not too simple.
And something to match my gold dancing shoes.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Monday is work and fruit and black dye

Last year's laundry crisis was tough on some of my favourite clothes.
Either hand washing is harder on the fabric than I thought, or I did it wrong.
Maybe both.
So I've had a favourite black dress and a few favourite black t-shirts hiding at the back of the wardrobe in their faded sadness.
But with the arrival of summer I had to bring them out of their hiding place and into the dyepot before being put back to good use.
And rather than let it stay on the to-do list for ages it's done.
A bit smelly and messy and quite fun, and I really should have worn gloves.
But it's done.
And I feel unreasonably proud.
And I have fruit. Lots of fruit.
And I feel like I could launch my own little banana boat.
The cats are still furry little sun-worshipers, and I really need to remember to water those plants.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

I just want to knit and play with the sunbaked cats

Exams are over for now.
It didn't go quite as planned, though.
And for the first time ever I've felt stressed.
Not mentally, but physically. My heart racing like mad, the feeling of tightness in the chest, chest pain, trouble breathing fully. And it has scared the hell out of me.
More so since I have been feeling quite calm and collected although a bit more busy than I would prefer.
I've never felt stressed before, or even thought I could, especially since I've always believed that stress could only truly "happen" when you felt overwhelmed and without control of a situation. And since this is of my own choice I thought I was immune.
But then I may have had too much on my plate this semester.
Work has been busy - both have gone through a months-long period of rebranding and restructuring and that has taken a lot of time and energy.
Now I have set up a meeting with a student adviser at the University - and one with my doctor. And I hope and expect that both will be able to help me find tools and ways to avoid this in the future.
So, when I realized what was going on and why I canceled the exams. It seemed to be the best and safest and easiest way to get around it, and I will work on finishing the papers during the next half year.
And work on not having this reaction at another time.
And so I've been knitting.
I fell in love with Teriokhin's V-neck Dress in the Spring/Summer issue of VK. And I found a lovely cheapish cotton/bamboo blend which seemed perfect and affordable.

I did get gauge using 4 mm. For once. But I liked the fabric better using 3.5 mm needles, so we're already off to a great start. (And I'm working it in the round.)
I didn't like the eyelets in the bottom border. So I skipped those.
And now I'm wondering if those pleats would do anything for me. I doubt it.
I think they're fine for a tall, slender thing like the model wearing it, but with my curvy 164 cm, they are probably .... not quite right.
So for now it's starting out as a V-neck dress and only time will show how it turns out and in which form.

The cats are enjoying the extraordinarily sunny summer weather we're having.

They are far better with sun and heat than I am.