Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A New Month Already

So where did July go? I swear the days are like those flipping calendars in the old movies where they show time passing. Only it goes faster and faster as I get older. No fair! Whatever happened to those lazy summer days of my childhood that seemed to go on and on? I want them back. A smidge of my youth would be nice to get back too but I’ll settle for slower time. Don’t want much, do I?

Today I get to listen to the next batch of workmen next door putting on the soffits and siding. Along with the hammering and sawing, one of them is singing (badly) in Serbian. Yes, this is yet another in the International League of Nations that constitute the building trades around here. How do I know it’s Serbian? My neighbour on the other side asked because he too was curious about what language they were speaking. I knew it was Eastern European but couldn’t identify it either. At least the work is getting done which means there will be An End. Someday soon, I hope.

Meanwhile, the yarn I dyed yesterday dried in jig time on my sunny railing. I’m going to wind skeins into balls later today on my deck. No need to have all that wool fuzz and dust in the house when it’s a lovely summer day out there. I decided to overdye the 2 light yellow skeins a dark rust and while I was at it, 2 (out of 6) of the light orange ones as well. That will balance the colours better I think. I prefer deeper colours to lighter ones anyway. I used up more of the Lanaset dyestock that’s been lurking around my dye studio for months. Unfortunately I wasn’t sure of the dilution or the exact dye colours. (Not my fault! I didn’t mix them! Other members of my Spectrum group did.) So I started with fairly accurately measurements which gave me a soft light orange. Not what I wanted. Then I added the same dyes at half strength to the first time. Slightly darker orange. Still not right. I added a splash of purple. Better but not dark enough. Finally I threw in all the red dyestock that was left and now I’m happy, though it’s still lighter and more orange than I was aiming for. I like it anyway. The yellow skeins are brighter and lighter than the light orange ones. I think where I went wrong was not taking into enough consideration the “under-colour” which strongly affected the outcome. That’s why lots more red got me closer to my goal — though I think I could have added even more dye. Just don't ask me to reproduce my final results:

Back in the wool heap, I eliminated all the greyed violet, dusty denim, and soft dark blue out and now I’m left with my usual fall shades and black, plus a dash of bright periwinkle to spark it up. Hopefully this will be enough to weave the blanket. I’ll take a photo when it’s all balled up. I finally decided to go with the draft I posted yesterday but to make the stripes in warp and weft more random but still a multiple of 8 so they end in the correct place. That will give me a mostly textured effect with parts of the pinwheels showing up at the intersections. I like the little plain-weave diamonds alternating with the more puffy twill diamonds. It should make a nice warm blanket anyway which is the whole point of the exercise. Not to mention use up most of that wool stash.

In other crafty news, when I went to turn the heel on one of T-Man’s socks I discovered that I’d made a big mistake in the number of stitches that I had on my heel flap. So I frogged it back to the beginning of the heel flap and am currently knitting it back up. It’s all about the process not the product, right? I also want to spend a little time today working on the Hepburn Cardi since I haven’t touched it since I stopped in mid repeat when the Birthday Boy arrived on Saturday. As I said, the days go by much too quickly. How am I supposed to get anything done?

So anyhow, here’s another one of my book reviews. This time it’s Crochet Inspiration by Sasha Kagan. I really like this book which is a collection of 200 crochet fabrics, grannies and motifs, plus a number of patterns for accessories and a garment or two. It’s beautifully photographed, which is what you’d expect these days, and the directions are both written out and diagrammed in symbols. Standardized crochet symbols go a long way towards making an easier and more compact way to publish designs and they are much easier to follow for most people. I’d love to see symbols become as commonplace as they are in Japanese and some European publications. Maybe then crochet would become more popular than it is now and inspire better designs. In the meantime, there’s a lot of inspiration fodder in this book even though I don’t think there’s anything that’s really new or radical.

Sasha Kagan, who lives in Wales, isn’t particularly known as a crochet designer but she obviously is very familiar with the technique. Interestingly, because this book was published by Sixth & Spring (Vogue’s publishing arm) the directions use the US terminology with a conversion chart for the Brits and Aussie/NZ bunch. I wonder how the discrepancy began, where the North American version is one step behind the British? Our sl st is their sc, our sc is their dc etc. If you’re counting yarns laying over the hook and number of times you pull through, theirs makes more sense. Luckily, being Canadian I’m bilingual! I do need to check first which terminology is used though. Usually where the pattern is published is the first clue.

The patterns for complete items are quite nice and there’s a couple that I would be interested in working. I’m especially intrigued by the Squiggle Scarf probably because you can’t really see the details from the artsy photo. All the yarns recommended are of course Rowan yarns, since Sasha designs for them. Much substituting will ensue. And I have my usual annoyed reaction to the back flap photo of the author wearing a knitted sweater, instead of a crocheted one! What do the book designers think? We can’t tell knitting from crochet? Oh wait — maybe they can’t. It just seems to me that if you’re trying to push crochet, you should wear crochet. At least for that jacket photo, darn it. Am I the only one who feels this way?

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