I’ve already tweeted a version of this picture, but I decided to post it here too, as I’m really rather pleased with it. It’s only an iPhone image, but the setting is so splendidly spooky that I think it’s worth a post.
This morning, we woke up to quite spectacular mist and fog. We live on the coast, so this isn’t unusual, but it is unusual for me to be scarcely able to see a few metres down the road when I come out of the house. On my way back from dropping Eoin at his childminder, I stopped on the Esplanade to see how the Pier was looking under the unusual weather conditions. Well-nigh invisible, it turns out, at least until you were right on top of it. I only had my phone with me, but I took some pictures while clambering precariously on top of one of the seafront benches in search of some much-needed extra height.
I enthusiastically shared my misty photographs online, but I felt that I could improve on them with a little bit of digital tweaking. A couple of filters later, and I feel I have an image which is closer to the eerie scene by the Pier.
Ronan Peter Lynch, born on 10th March, and already settling in well, surrounded by handknitted goodness (the blanket is courtesy of the lovely Liz of Knitting on the Green).
I have been rather remiss in posting recently, and indeed the little chap has nearly managed to get to the age of two weeks before making his public appearance here. I’m planning to write a post or two about his birth, as there are a few things I feel I need to talk though before they disappear into the fog of newborn-induced sleeplessness. As far as I can tell at the moment, things seem to be going very differently to the aftermath of Eoin’s birth. Hopefully this will continue: coping with a newborn seems to be a whole different experience when you aren’t also struggling with a range of fun symptoms related to anxiety and PND. One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is the fact that all tiny babies, even the laid-back, self-burping kind, need heaps of attention, so I will have to keep this post short.
For the moment, though, I should say that, from the midwives to the anaesthetists, the surgeons to the diabetes specialists, and most particularly my very lovely GP, the whole medical team involved in the pregnancy and birth have uniformly excellent. I couldn’t have asked for better care, and I owe an enormous thank you to all the people who looked after me, and to the NHS in general. Once again, I am reminded how very lucky we are to have a health service in this country. People moan a lot about problems with the NHS, and I realise that, like any large organisation, it does have its issues. It is, however, all too easy to moan about the bad things, and forget to praise the good things. There is so much excellent work done by so many dedicated and talented people, and I am uncomfortably aware that, like a lot of people, I am guilty of not saying a public thank you often enough. I’ll be sending a letter to the hospital as soon as I can (there may be a large box of biscuits involved), and I’d urge you to show some love to the doctors, nurses and other marvellous medical types in your life too. We’d be lost without them.
Very shortly after I posted the picture of Eoin cheekily inserting himself between my camera and the quilting fabric yesterday, I heard him wake up and start making some horribly familiar barking, wheezing noises. He has had a few bouts of croup since last winter, and, though we had hoped he might have grown out of it, it seems he managed to get a small dose again. Thankfully, it wasn’t bad, as croup goes: the first time he had it was the worst, and then I was seconds away from calling 999 (If you’re ever in that situation, don’t hesitate: the A&E department the next day told me there’s really no such thing as a false alarm when you’re dealing with an infant with breathing difficulties). Fortunately, Eoin was fine then, and seems well recovered now: last night’s sleep was not too broken, and, although he did have a couple more breathless episodes, I think the worst thing from his point of view was a bad dream in which a lot of minions were trying to get into bed with him, “but I didn’t want them to, mummy!”. After a domestic day of helping Stephen with designing an experiment (“You don’t need to solve the problem, daddy: I’ve done it for you”), building duplo machines and helping me cook, he is now safely tucked up in bed, and I have taken the chance to do a little work on my Aidez cardigan.
Despite a lot of reading around on the subject of shaping, not to mention some very helpful suggestions from other kind knitters, I was still no closer to a strategy for inserting bust darts into the design. The problem is mainly that I have a lot of trouble visualising things in three dimensions: making darts in fabric when sewing is no problem, because you can pin the blasted things in, see how they look, and easily change them if necessary. To me, at any rate, bust darts in knitting seem to entail some form of precognition, not to mention a much more highly-developed mathematical ability than I possess. Basically, in terms of Stuff About Knitting Which Scares Me, bust darts are right up there with stranded colourwork and steeking. I realise I am going to have to deal with this at some point, but I suspect the way to work though my problems might be to try to insert the darts into some plain stockinette fabric, rather than into some fairly complicated (for me) cabling, on which I am only just keeping my head above water. I’ve been planning a Cria since I tried one of Ysolda’s samples on at the 2011 KnitNation: it was the lovely grey one you can see in the linked pattern, and I’m pleased to report it was only a tiny bit snug in the 34″ bust, which goes to prove that a smaller size with well-thought-out shaping is likely to be far more flattering than a jumper in your actual bust size, which is probably just going to hang off you everywhere else. This feels like a sensible place to start my adventures in shaped knitting: Ysolda even uses the Cria as an example in her section on bust darts, and you can’t really get much more hand-holding than that.
Of course, cheering though my Cria plans may be, I was still no closer to a solution to my potential bust issues with the Aidez, which does have a reputation on Ravelry for coming up rather small in the fronts. After a lot of mental wrestling, I looked again at the garment photographs, and thought, “For heaven’s sake, this is almost entirely unstructured: it’s supposed to hang loosely at the front, not fit neatly. This is actually kind of why you’re knitting it, pregnant person!”. So, I did what any sensible slapdash knitter would do, and decided to just add an extra two stitches into the stockinette panel on each front. This should give me an extra centimetre of width in each front, which should hopefully be enough to stop the cardigan looking skimpy. I’m planning to keep the extra width going all the way up the front, and then just decrease a little more rapidly for the neckline.
Of course, now I am worried that the Aidez is going to come out too big (I really struggle with the concept of ease), but, let’s face it, if I wasn’t worrying about this, I’d find something else to panic about. So far I am about a third of the way up the left front, and I’m actually feeling pretty pleased with myself for having managed four separate cable patterns in one garment. You’ve got to take your knitting victories where you can.
In other news, I may have received my oddest spam comment so far: a chunk of text out of what appears to be an academic essay on the sermons of John Donne. This is pretty spooky, not least because I have a good friend who wrote her PhD thesis on this very topic, and I’m really hoping that an unscrupulous spambot (is there any other kind?) hasn’t been plagiarizing her work. Mind you, it makes a change from Viagra advertisements: this may be the first time I’ve been mildly interested in anything a spammer had to say before I consigned the comment to the bin. Spambots, take note!
I know, I failed to blog again yesterday: I was busy cooking an overly-tomato-based curry.
By way of an extra post, this is what happened when I was trying to photograph the fabric earlier today: someone inserted himself between it and the camera…
I think that’s a Marmite stain from breakfast on his pyjamas: I may be a slattern, but at least his intake of B vitamins is good.
Yesterday, Eoin and I headed out to Tredegar House with Sam and her little boy: we didn’t go into the house itself, as toddlers and historic homes don’t usually mix well, but there was quite a lot of climbing about in the playground and a great deal of jumping up and down in muddy puddles (this last being, as you may know if you have your own small people, an inevitability). There was also, particularly excitingly, a visit to Busy Bees Patchwork, a fabric shop which is handily located in one of the outbuildings of the House itself. I really need to go back and visit on a day when Eoin is otherwise occupied, because there was such a vast range of fabrics to admire that I’m sure I didn’t manage to do it justice today.
I did, however, pick up some fat quarters:
Red and blue prints for inclusion in a planned quilt for Eoin (of which, more later), and sheep and pin prints for me. It’s healthy to have a stash of fabric, you know, just in case the zombie apocalypse comes and you don’t have enough quilting cotton to see you through.
The pin print is particularly lovely: if I was in a position to fit one at the moment, I’d say it would make a fabulous dress, maybe in a shape like this one, only without the extraneous bows. Or this one, which I actually have somewhere in the chaos of the wool room. I just have to wait for the bump to (a) appear and (b) disappear first. 17 weeks to go…
Mind you, it was a lovely day, and the church is a gorgeous one. John Betjeman gave it top marks out the churches in the local area, don’tcha know? The interior is beautiful: you can see more here.
With that, I’m heading off to bed, clutching a copy of Little Red in the City. I’m going to work this bust shaping out if it’s the last thing I do.
I’m a long-term fan of the marvellous Electric Sheep podcast by Hoxton Handmade, a lady with a mellifluous voice, a sharp sense of humour and some great taste in knitting patterns. She may or may not also have a hard-drinking, supervillain sheep concealed in her back garden in South London, but I think the less attention drawn to him, the better. I have been tempted into favouriting a lot of the patterns she has reviewed, and further tempted into casting others on. My Color Affection shawl, knitted last year and still being worn proudly now that the days are getting chillier, was very definitely Hoxton-inspired.
This initial recommendation had the fringe benefit of introducing me to the lovely designs of Veera Välimäki: I have also knitted her Fisherman’s Pullover for Eoin (though I did have a bit of a gauge mix-up there), and am working on a Gathering Stripes jumper for him at the moment.
The second pattern which the wiles of the Electric Sheep have seduced me into casting on is the celebrated Aidez cardigan by Cirilia Rose. I had put off knitting this for a while, as it is a fairly unstructured fit, and, being large of bust, I was concerned that it might not be flattering. I had, however, cast on an OWLS jumper which I wasn’t happy with: I was using a wool-mix yarn, and would have preferred to be knitting in a pure wool, and I was also becoming convinced that the shaping in OWLS doesn’t really work for my figure, and was going to need some serious tweaking if I was going to achieve a neat, non-baggy fit. GIven that I am about five months pregnant, working on the neat fit was not going to be easy: I don’t have any bump to speak of yet, but it’s sure to pop out in the next couple of weeks. Throw the likelihood of a bout of Gestational Diabetes into the mix, together with the associated strict diet and drastic weight loss (with Eoin, I weighed less at full term than I did at conception), making anything remotely fitted over the next few months was really going to be a non-starter. I happened to listen again to one of the podcast episodes in which Ms Hoxton discusses her Aidez, and decided to take the bull by the horns, frogging the OWLS and casting on the Aidez.
It’s going well so far: I have finished the back so far (I know it doesn’t look like it from this picture, but I promise it’s true), and am about to cast one of the fronts on.
It’s a lovely, straightforward pattern so far, and very addictive: I’ve sat up far too late on several evenings, muttering “Just one more row, just one…” under my breath as the clock ticks on towards midnight. Cables just seem to do that to a knitter! As it’s knitted in a chunky yarn, it’s also going very quickly, which makes a pleasing change from working in 4 ply. The yarn isn’t the most exciting (Sirdar Click, so it’s a bit acrylic-y) but it’s knitting up in a pleasantly non-crunchy manner, and should at least survive being thrown in the washing machine. My only concern at the moment is that I might have to add some bust shaping to the fronts, and we all know what that will involve: maths, and the doing thereof. I am not good at maths, nor am I good at thinking in three dimensions. I’m undergoing a tiny bit of a hiatus as I read the pattern very carefully, and try to work out whether just adding a couple of stitches to the stockinette portions and adjusting the decreases at the top will work. If not, I’m going to have to dive in with a calculator and a tape measure: if this happens, I may have to ask you to hold my hand, in a virtual sense.
I’ll keep working on this over the next few weeks: let’s hope I find a solution to the bust issue which doesn’t involve me passing out over some complicated long-division sums.