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We’ve moved…

August 4, 2010

As of last night, I’ll now be blogging at Pins and Tentacles.com. All my previous posts have moved over too. So please update your links/feed readers/bookmarks.

And promote, goddamnit! Papa needs some new needles.

The Opposite of Empty Nest Syndrome

July 12, 2010

I’ve moved out. Regular readers may want to read that again. I have moved out. Those of you who’ve followed this blog for a while will know that attempts to move out have been ongoing for about a year. Let me repeat: I have moved out.

I am now living happily in Birmingham, near to my place of work and far away from anything remotely like a village. Thank God. It feels great. But also, it feels terrifying.

I’m 23, and this isn’t the first time I’ve lived by myself, but moving out still has a feeling of abandonment. It doesn’t seem to matter to my subconscious that every part of this process has been my choice. As my parents drove me to Acocks Green (for that is the area I now live in) I had a deep, surprising discomfort. I was about to become a completely self directing agent. Realising that all the possibilities in the world where now open to me, including the possibility of failure, made me anxious. If this goes wrong, I’ve done it wrong. No-one else. I have responsibility for my life.

Isn’t that terrifying? Isn’t that exhilarating?

I realise of course that I’ve always had the responsibility. But it’s harder to hide from when you don’t have a parent figure in the picture.

Hopefully, all the free time I now have (shorter commute ftw) means that I will get more knitting done. Currently on the needles are:

A felted shibori scarf using Rowan Colourscape Chunky:Knitted Shibori Scarf in progress

A lace scarf using Manos del Uruguay DK:

Manos Del Uruguay Lace Scarf In Progress

This wool, probably:

Indiecita wool for fair-isle

This is some lovely wool brought for me by my friend Andy. He went to Peru and bought me some DK baby alpaca. Attention other friends: YOU JUST GOT MOVED DOWN THE LIST. Whilst there he managed to seriously injure his spine and almost ended up paralysed. Whilst the injury wasn’t *directly* related to the yarn shopping, the effort was appreciated. I’m very glad that he is walking again and no longer doing stupid extreme sports on the other side of the planet.

But what to do with it? I want to do some fair-isle, but I haven’t decided what yet. The upcoming Rowan magazine looks MAGNIFICENT, so I want to make sure my colour work is perfect before I crack into it. Cream and scarlet aren’t inspiring me though. Suggestions for interesting motifs in the comments please.

Knitting Spirituality

May 16, 2010

I’m beginning to realise that I knit oddly. Not in terms of technique (I knit English with a very traditional hand hold) but in terms of my psychology. I’ve discussed elsewhere on my blog my belief that knitting is magic but as I continue I see more and more that this “knitting spirituality” has taken over my knitting practice.

I finally managed to abandon the heartache over the skein of Manos del Uruguay that was stolen (I told you all about the lace scarf I was knitting with it, but I didn’t mention that some complete bumberclunge stole it. Sorry, it was just too painful to bring up.) and cast on with the second skein. The pattern, a simple eyelet lace, is easily memorised and lends itself to contemplative knitting. I chose it largely because I thought it would make the most of the yardage. But what I’ve noticed, as I knit, is that I’ve trained my internal dialogue to change when I pick up the needles. It’s not that I’ve acquired any degree of Zen focus. Samadhi is probably still a way off. It’s more like, I step away from my usual chatter. I start to hear two conversations in my head instead of the usual one. The first is all my normal stuff; boredom, anxiety, arousal…the white noise of the unenlightened mind. The other conversation is, I don’t know, finer? The second conversation makes my heart buoyant. It’s about the knitting and about who I am knitting for.

As I knit, the other part of me gently guides my mind back to memories of the person I am knitting for. It collages those memories with prayers of support and my intention that they be loved. It’s as if I’m trying knit strength into the stitches, trying to layer the yarn with a reminder of how wonderful the recipient is.

My aim isn’t just to make a scarf (don’t get me wrong, I still care about the scarf, lace ftw) but also to dwell closely on the world and hold it my heart. The knitted object has become secondary to the love it represents.

I promised myself, when I started this blog, that it wouldn’t be a soapbox for my emotional experience. But the more I experience my knitting, the more I see that what I knit is myself. Writing about my knitting can’t help but to have a confessional tone.

The yarn is beautiful and I can’t over compliment it. Barbara Walker, once again, has made picking lace patterns super easy. I think I’ll be releasing the pattern for the scarf some time before June. My other two, long promised, garments (the underpants and the bagtopus) are currently with the test knitters and will be available as soon as the corrections have taken place.

I hope you are all having as nice a summer as I am and, I promise, more pictures of all the projects are to follow.

Knitted Superhero

April 28, 2010

So, after the sudden splurge of new readers yesterday (1,700 of you apparently…) I decided to spend another day on the knitted pants theme. A friend of mine has been playing with GIMP and managed to turn this…
A picture of me wearing my hand knitted red pants.

into this…

I promise, normal service returns tomorrow. Until then, are there any suggestions for a caption?

Knitted Underwear (Photos!)

April 27, 2010

So I’ve been talking about my knitted underwear for months now. I even promised a vaguely erotic photo-shoot. Sadly, I’m still at an in-between stage with them and the patterns aren’t finished yet.

Did that stop me putting them on and strutting round like a rent-boy? Obviously not…

As is painfully obvious, they aren’t big enough. I’d planned them to have a bit of bulging, but I’d really intended it for the front not the back. The pattern needs some serious readjustment, but will be available really soon.

I swear that I didn’t mean to look this hoochy.

Kiss, Marry, Kill: A Review of Handcreams for Knitters

April 26, 2010

I would like to tell you that I am a graceful animal. I do dance-classes. I promote body consciousness and spatial awareness. To admit even small instances of works against the aestheitic I’m working towards.

But I feel it’s only fair to give credit to the recent accident that’s prompted me to blog this.

The friction burn and the symmetrical set of burns on my bottom are new as of yesterday. I missed the footing on the top step and fell arse-first down the stairs. I proceeded to make loud, hurt animal noises which greatly distressed the gentleman caller in my bedroom. Luckily, with a mixture of tea and sympathetic cuddling, I was quickly restored to health.

But the boo-boo on my hands has brought me back to a topic that I think is important to knitters: hand cream. I’ve been meaning to blog about it since forever, but the arse-bruising/hand-burning brought it back to my head. Thanks, gravity!

Hand massage is a big part of my knitting. I suffer horrible joint pain and any long stretch of knitting can really hurt. Like any endurance sport, knitting requires preparation if you intend to avoid injury. These knitter’s exercises are a god-send to me. The massage section of this regimen is so much nicer with a good cream. I’ve picked three of the ones I’ve used out at random and I’m ranking them using the time-tested kiss/marry/kill formula.

Astral

My hand holding a little pot of Astral.

How could I refuse the moisturiser chosen by Joanna Lumley? This lovely little tub markets for about £1 and I LOVE it. The lovely, naked skin smell suggests innocent jocks being talced in a changing room. Like talc, and jocks, Astral is suitable for use all over the body. It’s now my regular moisturiser.

The only cons are a) I can’t use it on my lips and b) that lovely, slightly fetish-y, clean-body smell overwhelms perfume, unless you’ve got the bottle with you to top up. I don’t have room for perfume in my knitting bag, so this is a straight-up choice between Issey Miyake’s L’eau d’Issey or the scent of slightly jaded innocence. A difficult decision.

Atrixo

My hand holding a little pot of Atrixo.

I want to like Atrixo. It cost me £2 or so, at least double the price of the other products. When you are unemployed, there’s little you won’t do to avoid buyer’s guilt.

On the plus side, Atrixo has an EXCITING texture. It’s lumpy and silky and shiny like something made by aliens. As you rub it in, you get a definite feel of ‘made in a lab so therefore effective.’ You can feel the lab-coats in the formula.

Sadly, this is the only positive quality. My hands were left feeling oily and I smelled of floral floor-cleaner. Save your money: you can make a similar product by mixing hair conditioner, Zolflora and butter.

Rosebalm

Hand cream for knitters made by monks

This tiny, badly photographed, pot cost £1.20. Cisterian monks mix rose oil, olive oil and beeswax into lovely little pots, then I buy it from my local monastery. It is magical. Let me list its virtues.

  1. Monks make it.
  2. With 3 ingredients, all of which I recognise
  3. It smells of angels
  4. Low air miles/good ecology blah blah blah
  5. Freaking *monks*!

It is perhaps a little too oily for moisturising all of my face. But to be honest, when I do ever moisturise more than my lips and problem spots?

This stuff works my hands, nails, lips and body. I dab it on my pulse points and collar bone as a perfume. The small amount of residue doesn’t mar my knitting, just delicately scents it. And, as I am a complete natural-substance-ophile, I can also use it to treat my wood/bamboo needles. I love this stuff *too much*.

This review has an easy conclusion. Kill the Atrixo. Quickly. I’d have hot, sleazy, meaningless kisses with Astral (I’d have it often) and marry the unfortunately celibate monks’ balm.

That’s it for today. Tomorrow: pictures of the knitted underpants.

Things I Hate: Lawn Strimmers

April 19, 2010

I try not to be hateful. As a rule, I try to see both sides of every argument. Hell, I try and see more than “both”. I search for third and fourth options. My head is a space very open to dialogue.

But some things are evil. Some things are cancerous. Some things do not deserve the benefit of the doubt.

I. Hate. Lawnstrimmers.

It’s not their shape. Nor their design. I can completely understand the joy of large dangerous phallic symbols. I am pro-motorcycle. When my parents voiced a desire to buy a sit-on lawnmower, I could sympathise the desire for something metallic, buzzing and reductive between their thighs.

It’s not the enviromental impact of the fuel. That can be dealt with using bio-fuels.

It’s not the noise. I like making noise.

What I hate about lawn strimmers is the worldview they espouse. It scares me and it angers me. I get that people need to cut the grass. Maybe your children need somewhere to play football. Maybe you are trying to grow meadow-flowers, so regular strimming is needed. Cutting the grass is a morally defendable act.

Is there any functional reason why bases of your trees and fences need to be denuded life? Any reason at all? No. There’s not.  It’s an aesthetic choice. The choice to silence nature. To turn meadows into lawns. To make wildness into subservience. It’s the choice to replace the rapturous yelling of dandelions with the neutered weeping of cut grass. It’s the choice to turn habitats, breeding grounds, food stores and life cycles into unending “blank canvas”. An odd form of oppression from a race that treats its own deafness as evidence for its victim’s muteness.

In short: Lawnmowers rock. Lawnstrimmers suck. The closer something becomes to symbolising perfect order the closer it comes to being dead.

/end rant

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