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The Inside Loop

The new issue of the online textiles magazine The Inside Loop is up, The Great British Summer issue.

I have this pattern in it. Jennifer Gwiazdowski kindly modelled the sleeves for me and braved a chilly afternoon at the beginning of April to wear a strapless dress.

I am hoping to use Jenni again for modelling, and some other models too.
The next set of things I have published is not until the Autumn. I will have to get cracking then to finish those!

Fair Isle Socks Misery!

I am an old veteran when it comes to knitting Fair Isle stuff and getting it to sit neatly without any ugly bits showing through. However, I seemed to have lost my touch when it comes to putting motifs on to the socks. I suspect what is happening, is that because I am using a pre-dressed very stretchy sock yarn when the fabric is at its full stretch, you can see little bits of the yarn caught in the back showing through.

Grrrr it is driving me potty! I am going to have to try going down a few needle sizes, to lose some of the elastic qualities and try and make the fabric more dense.

Or I am going to have to abandon these stretchy purpose spun sock yarns, and choose a sturdy 4ply or sportsweight yarn that will give me the same control I have when I make hats. After all, hats must stretch on the head and this doesn't normally happen.

The other alternative, it is to knit the cuff flat and use Intarsia
or completely change my design so that yarn stranded at the back, does not need to be caught in with the stitches whilst being carried. My design for motifs though, is so specific, I want them to look the way I have designed them and I am going to find a way of doing it successfully in the round if it kills me.

I am off to research the problem now.

New Shoes!!

'Scuse the chubby ankles and not quite the right shade of socks, but I just had to try these on whilst still in my nightwear and bedsocks. I love these shoes.
They are from the anarchic range of TUK . I really wanted the Lady Luck shoes, but alas none in my size so I now have my chubby little trotters in the Rock n Roll shoes. All I need now is a spotted skirt and quiffy thang! I love Mary Jane shoes, they make me fantasise about all the lovely socks I probably won't make to go with them.

I love this sole, with all it's little anarchy prints, and can't wait for some sand on the beach next month to make some marks.

Update: More new shoes
These are everyday wear 'em to death DMs, style is called Cissie
Socks are Tofutsies, my own pattern test knitted to the wrong gauge, then redone by me in the right gauge.

New Gothic Me

I got really bored with my hair, and my image. I was a sort of light brunette, but with highlights of blonde and copper etc as you can see on my Avatar on the right.

So, on Friday, I went into the hairdressers and said....do what you want....as long as it is funky, punky, and bright (I mean really bright) and this is what I came out with. A base of dark brown with mahogany tones, and some bright pink/red stripes.

I am really pleased,
but fired up to go and have other colours added next time (blue green etc etc). I have it tied up here, but when it is down, it has the layers of red underneath and the top is mahogany brunette and it is massively chopped into so the same length as before, but with lots of shorter layers and pieces taken out ....I do think (like all the dark colours I have tired before on my light mousy hair) it might not last and will fade in the sun. I am almost scared to wash it!! It is versatile and can tie up in bunny ears like this, or single ponytail with lots of messy bits and clipped etc etc. I am told the colour should last me about 8 weeks, but my poor financial state means I usually only get a haircut and colour once or twice a year. I feel a bit of home colouring coming on. Not atl all very fitting for my age, when will I grow up....NEVER I hope.

I have been wearing makeup, but have been really good about wiping it off my eyes after the max time for wearing it has gone by (couple of hours according to my eye docs). Thought I would stick my black lippy and eyeliner on for a bit of fun, and Steve took a photo of me on his camera phone snuggling up to my favourite garden ornament.

And what am I knitting at the moment? Well, certainly some things that would go very well with this new hair do, for a certain website of alernative style fame, but I am not allowed to tell anyone yet.

Summer here at last!

After a couple of years, we now have something which properly resembles summer.
I'm in flip flops, thinking of ideas of what to do with my pure silk and cotton yarns.

On a Summer theme, I scribbled some
basic milkshake instructions down, mainly for 'him' because this is the first time since his cooking debut that he has owned a proper blender with a big glass jug. It just so happens, that I can make the perfect simple milkshakes using the correct proportions.

So here are my scribblings. Misspellings entirely intentional, so no emails correcting 'me gramma' please! There is one for a basic banana shake, and another for iced coffee or Iced Cappucino Shake.

I really should be knitting, still got a pile of socks and bags to get through and some sketching (erm it will be better than these scribbles honest)

I am pleased to announce that I have just been through my patterns, and updated the ones available for download. More white space was what was needed and some simplifying of instructions to make as few pages as possible.
They look neater and do have some coloured text, but that has been tested as a download, as a very rough draft and then as a photocopy of the draft and I can safely say the green does copy quite clearly. It looks more like this now.

This is a ver very rough scan of the Country beret (chunky beret pattern). The pristine pdf copy is free from here on Ravelry.

Happy Beltane!
The new Beltane issue of the Anticraft is up, and it is all about bacon! I found it hard to take though, as the mere thought of bacon brings on pancreatitis pains as I can't even tolerate the smell of it. A shame, because if it didn't do me harm, I would love it. However, I do feel pigs are a bit intelligent, so would probably want to save their bacon rather than eat it. Only two of the baconist projects were textiles, the above was felted and used for hate spells (tongue in cheek of course....haha). The other is this knitted scarf, a clever piece of bacony Fair Isle stranded two colour knitting, but also double knitted so front and back are knitted at the same time.

I am surprised though, that this vegan bacon scarf is the only antithesis of the 'bacon' theme for this issue.

I have a feeling that knitters will moan about lack of bacony projects for them, and the crochet people have nothing at all. Well, yeah, if that is the case you know the themes in advance....so come up with something yourselves!

I am secretly working on some Samhain issue projects, well not that secretly but the actual details will be. I must get the skates on, not long before they are due in eek!

I don't have any new patterns for you, however I thought it might be good to dig out the old faithful
A Maiden's Glory pattern. Thanks to Ravelry it is possible for me to know that there are 11 projects finished, and the project is in 123 queues and 138 people have marked it as a favourite.The
Beltane Flame hat has also been made as other people have made fresh versions of these Sabbat projects.

I like Meadosweet's pink flowers for A Maiden's Glory, this could be more in keeping with those who live in sub-tropical climates. The Stitchbug's blue flowers look cool too.

However, my overall fave version of this has to be Shropshire Pagan's circlet she made for a real hand-fasting (Pagan wedding)

A few people have made the Beltane Flame into bags for their Pagan bits and pieces, and I especially like this orange muted version by the Duchess as well as the strong reds and blacks by Aurorabee.

Someone made a version of the Beltane Flame in greys and renamed it Beltane Ashes, I liked that touch. I couldn't find a pic of that, although I have found this version 'Charred'

More Books to Read In Between Your Knitting

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Why is it when I buy books as presents for other people it takes me ages before I read it myself? I bought this for my Sister-in-Law ages ago and she raved about it.

If you think this might be a political story about events in the Middle East you feel tired of reading about in the news, you would be wrong. It is a very personal and moving story of two close friends who are separated by political events, but also by one of their actions and their ethnic origins. The narrator of the story, one of these boys is no hero. Haunted by his past, he has to go back to Afghanistan in his 30's and find redemption for his previous actions.

What a story though! Several times I was moved to watery eyes. I thoroughly recommend this as compulsive reading for any 21st century book lover. I am going to read Hosseini's 2nd novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns which is also receiving awards and accolades.

Regeneration by Pat Barker

This is a novel about healing of those who have suffered great trauma of the mind in the First World War. It is accurately based on case studies and experiences of officers being treated in a psychiatric unit for a variety of war neuroses brought on by shell shock. The descriptions of the soldier's experiences are shocking as expected. What I found very interesting about this, was the disparity of two attitudes when approaching how to treat these patients. The officers are encouraged to talk about their experiences; in fact this is probably the birth of psychotherapy as we know it today. The idea is that bad memories that are repressed, that a soldier is not allowed to feel will resurface as a neurotic physical complaint. In contrast, some non commissioned officers are based in a hospital in which the treatment is to shock them back into health. There is a terrifying but real account of a soldier who cannot speak, but is forced to speak by being given a series of punishing electrical shocks and is told they will continue until he does speak and he is not to leave the room until he has 'performed' satisfactorily.

The novel also includes a fictional account of a real event; the meeting of Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen the well known World War I poets. Sassoon is having treatment after having lodged a soldier's appeal to Parliament as an objection to the continuance of a stale mate War.

The impressions this novel left with me, was that this war brought together classes in close proximity in a way that had not happened before. Young officers from the gentry, had a real love and responsibility for their men, thrown together with them in much the same conditions in the trenches. Obviously, we know that the well seasoned officers stayed well back from the front line, and so class distinctions there divided men into those who survived, and those who did not and could not.

I found the style of the writing quite masculine in a way, and very much of that period. I did not feel as if a modern novelist, a female had tried to write a contemporary account of this time. I very much felt that being an academic historian, her research was thorough and confident and was not at all ostentatious so despite the stodgy subject matter, this novel for me flowed. You can read more about her by clicking on this link for Pat Barker

Random Acts of Heroic Love by Danny Scheinmann

What an awful title! But the novel is more promising. This novel is split between two parts. There is the contemporary part and a young person's struggle to com to terms with their grief and a father's attempts to connect and give that person a sense of their own place and history which had been denied to them. Then there is the period part, set in the early stages of World War II i.e. The Great War. Imprisoned in Siberia, the character narrating this part of the story escapes and starts a long journey home to his sweetheart Lotte. The descriptions of battle are as gory and typical of a Sebastian Faulks or Pat Barker novel, so no surprises there. I loved this part of the story and wanted to return to it impatiently when I read the contemporary part, although I found it slightly disappointing that the journey was so full of detail and adventure and made on foot up to a point, and then towards the end he suddenly gets on a train and is transported very quickly for the last part of the journey.

A friend recently commented that novelists, who write great stories, can struggle when it comes to the ending and that she often does not enjoy a book with clumsy endings. Ever since she said that, I have been super critical of the 'great' books I have been reading and ever conscious of the fact that a meaty detailed story does not end satisfactorily.

Engleby by Sebastian Faulks

I sat down and read this novel in a couple of days, I couldn’t put it down.

The story narrated by the main character Engleby contains so much coldness, loneliness and bitter wit I couldn't help but sympathise. Actually, not only did I sympathise but I agreed with some of his observations. This became very alarming towards the end, when it is revealed that his thought processes could be analysed professionally as psychotic!

I respected the nostalgic but caustic look at the decades of the 70's and 80's in which I grew up and recognised some to the work ethics and attitudes he so intelligently describes. This is not a colourful, warm, flared trousers with hippy music and psychedelic drugs type of period novel. It contains all the coldness and austerity of the strikes in Britain, Thatcher's era and the struggle of the working classes who try to better themselves.

I can only say that despite the intensity of the writing and the page turning quality of this novel, it left me feeling a bit depressed and I had to question my reasons for reading it. When I was younger I would have put enjoyment further down the list below education and enlightenment when it came to my reading. However, I don't get an opportunity to share discuss or use that education now, so I prefer novels that transport me away from myself and my own experiences. This novel reminded me of everything that had happened in my own insignificant little existence growing up in Britain, going to boarding school and finally further education.

However, simmering below the detail and observation there is a thrilling mystery story, although I can say I knew what had happened a long time before the shocking revelation.

Read this when you are in a good mood, and not when you could easily be influenced into an episode of depression!