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.
I dropped Eoin off at the childminder’s house this morning, and, before I went home and started work, I went for a walk. It was a beautiful morning, I had got my good camera back over the weekend… Surely there would be a few good opportunities for photographs?
I wasn’t wrong. Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to present: Penarth Dalek!
He (I’m making the massive assumption here that Daleks are male, largely based on the voice) is in somebody’s front garden up near Belle Vue Park, and he’s pretty spectacular. I’m not sure if he’s left over from Halloween, or if he’s some sort of scarecrow, designed to deter the real thing. Either way: he’s a Dalek in the front garden of a regular terraced house, and that’s something to celebrate.
I think he’s mostly made out of a compost bin, with quite a lot of plastic cups for his various nodules and lights. The only small design flaw is that his plunger attachment appears, inexplicably, to have been replaced with a small mop, but I suppose we can allow this to slide. After all, you can see that his egg-whisk-style laser is made from an actual egg whisk. Happy day!
PS: I’ve just realised this is my 200th post: hurrah! I didn’t think I’d get this far. Clearly, I owe it all to Daleks,
I know, I know: it’s totally normal for toddlers to push limits, resist authority and generally have immense rushes of emotion which they are not adequately equipped to process. I know this in my rational mind. However, my rational mind becomes a difficult place to access when a small person is screaming, shouting, snotting and generally creating because he doesn’t want to wear a coat outside, even though it’s freezing, because his biscuit broke in half, or because the water in his cup was too wet. I am obviously not the only parent to experience this sort of situation (it’s a brain-befuddling toss-up between wanting to scream incoherently or laugh hysterically, in case you’re wondering), as is demonstrated by the existence of a site like Reasons My Son is Crying. There was a recent review in The Guardian of a book spin-off of this blog: the comments section contained a few rather snippy pronouncements, very much along the lines of this one:
Way to encourage your poorly disciplined brat. The reason they are acting like this is because you have been too soft and indulgent – taking photos of them somewhat reinforces that conception.
Now, I think I pull off my fair share of firm, disciplined parent moments, as do all of the parents I know. Even Stephen, the resident parental good cop, is perfectly capable of being severe when the occasion demands it. However, as other commenters on the Guardian review pointed out, there are times when no amount of calm, reasonable, logical argument works against the tide of scrotebaggery being unleashed by the smallest member of your family.
Eoin has been particularly tantrum-filled recently, and in the spirit of humourously defusing the situation, I hereby present some of the oddest reasons for his most furious outbursts of anger. Remember that I love him and I wouldn’t change him, but sometimes you just have to laugh at these things.
- The radio wouldn’t play the song he wanted. Neither would it repeat the one it previously played, which he actually liked. Rotten, stinking radio.
- I wouldn’t let him play with the blender (I also wouldn’t let him play with the oven, the breadknife or a pair of scissors, allow him to run his head repeatedly into a cupboard door, or stand by while he tried to hurl himself through the patio door). I am cruel and unfeeling.
- He wanted to be downstairs. “I want to go downstairs, Mummy! Why won’t you let me go downstairs?”. He was already downstairs.
- He wasn’t allowed to walk to his friend Noah’s house on his own. Not only is Eoin not yet 3, and far too small to walk anywhere on his own, but Noah lives about 8 miles away, on the far side of Cardiff.
- No matter how many times we explain (in simple terms) about the magnets on his toy trains, he cannot get two like poles to stick together. Turning one carriage round is not an option.
- An hour and a half of stories before bed was not enough: “But Ivor the Engine is a short book!”. 32 text-heavy pages may not be War and Peace, but it’s a lot for an over-tired toddler who has already had several other books read to him. “But Daddy said it was short! He did!” (He didn’t).
- We just barefacedly lied to him: we told him it was Sunday, when he knew fine well it was Saturday. How can he ever trust us again? (This one happened yesterday – note the date of today’s post).
One day, I’m sure, the tantrums will stop, and there will be a brief window of sanity before the teenage hormones kick in. Until that time, I’m going to keep trying to do the right thing, vis-à-vis sensible, fair and consistent parenting. There is, however, no way I won’t also be remembering the most ridiculous tantrum-pretexts, and laughing over them in the evenings. It’s really just self-preservation, you understand.
I failed yesterday. I don’t have anything to blame apart from myself (and possibly the industrial quantities of cheese I ate while we had friends visiting, and which did not sit well in a pregnant stomach).
Can we maybe just pretend I wrote this on Sunday?
I won’t tell if you won’t.