Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Updates on the scarf

I've been so tired lately. I've got hayfever like no one's business at night (not during the day?) so I'm constantly waking up with sneezes and sniffles. Not fun. I have tried pharmaceuticals which don't work for me. The only thing that has ever worked has been eating two teaspoons of local honey per day. The theory is that it desensitises your body from local pollens. Alternatively you can do a much more expensive version with the doctor, but they call it "immuno-therapy" or some drug company crap like that. Scam.

Anyway, I thought I'd post some pictures of the scarf that I've been too tired to finish:

The start of the leaf pattern, using the AG-20 Intarsia carriage. Very fiddley.

Getting the hang of it

More fiddley

Super fiddley, and a bit worried it's not going to look like a leaf on the other side.

Feeling like I just reached the summit of Mt. Everest with this leaf...

...Only to find the hole from hell. I hate going back and fixing things. I find it so unsatisfying!

Fixed the hole with the handy latch tool.

I'm not quite sure what this is. Well, I'm sure it's frustrating, but I can't figure out why it keeps happening. I wanted to cry at this point. The right-side arm was pushed to the back, which is what I thought the problem was. But when I put it back to the front, all went well for about 100 rows until it happened again so I'm really not sure about this one. If anyone knows, I'd be forever grateful if you could shed some light on it!

Fixed after a long, laborious procedure. Bleck.

Finally enough length to turn it over and have a look... and it looks like a leaf! TRES excited!

Getting some length now, thinking it's plain sailing - little did I know I'd have about 3 more of those blunders to sort out!!

Hope you enjoyed the little photo diary. I'll post one more picture of the finished scarf when it's done. I really enjoy the knitting machine when I'm not so frustrated that steam blows from my ears and veins pop out of my eye balls. Really, I am!

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Where art thy?

Yes, I've been away! Actually I have been home but been going through a lot of changes recently. So I suppose I'll take you through what these changes are!

I quit my job about a month and a half ago. Technically I was made redundant, but because the company didn't want "redundancies" included on its end-of-the-year pie chart, it put me elsewhere in the company doing something I hated instead - selling insurance. *cough*. I know a lot more about breakdown cover and accidental damage, but I don't think that's going to help me in the long run ... unless I want to submit a fraudulent insurance claim. So I quit, relaxed for three weeks (looking at jobs here and there), bought myself a knitting machine (yes please!) and even played my other half's XBox. I recommend the game Fable II. I beat it and it was pretty cool in my opinion.

After three weeks, I walked into a temp agency and asked for some sort of Admin job. I can't commit long-term to anything because my other half and I are applying for him to gain Permanent Residence in Canada. We don't know when we'll be approved but we haven't even sent off the 98-page-plus-your-supporting-evidence application yet. I got a call back the same day to start at the Ministry of Justice. I'm pretty happy with where I am now. It's a month-long contract and then we'll see where I go next!

Anyway, about the knitting machine: my landlady left me a note one day saying that the local charity shop had a knitting machine for 20 quid. "It's probably old and broken," I thought, but I decided to have a look. I'm glad I did because it looked in good condition. The workers told me that if no one decided to buy it by Sunday (it was Saturday), they were going to throw it out from lack of interest. Surprising, I thought, because while I was checking it out, several older ladies came in saying things like, "That brings back memories," and others showed great interest while I was fiddling about with it. Maybe they just needed to see someone show a little enthusiasm around it, I don't know. The accessories it came with alone were worth over 50 quid. It's a Knitmaster 321 and it came with loads of 60's manuals and charts. My personal favourite picture is the mature yet super hip momma whose demonstrating the ease of machine knitting while a young, naive, and frustrated young girl faces the other way while she hand-knits in shame. Good marketing technique.

I brought it home and tried for ages and couldn't even start my first row. The needles were popping out all over the place and I thought, "Great, now I've got a 20 quid broken knitting machine." I decided to do a little research and found a very helpful Youtuber who has the same machine (and more). She told me I should check the Sponge Retaining Bar (for which she conveniently had a video). Gods and Goddesses bless this woman for this was the problem after all. I quickly ordered one from eBay and off I went!

My first swatch was just a gray piece of knitted acrylic. Then I quickly moved on to my first scarf. I was looking forward to the World Cup (my first in the UK) so I knitted a traditional red-and-white striped scarf. It hung on the window yesterday as my other half showed his support during the England v. USA game last night.

The Knitmaster 321 is a Punch Card knitting machine. What is that, exactly? I wasn't sure. It came with a sleeve filled with cards. The cards had holes punched out in the shape of patterns, and the machine had a slot to put them through. Eventually, I figured out that the punch card automatically dropped row after row as the user slides the carriage back and forth. It somehow makes the needles do a little dance until they match the pattern on the card - brilliant! My first punch card swatch was a Tuck Stitch pattern which turned out pretty well. I did find it quite difficult to do though so I decided after this I'd try something else.

After starting my new job, my knitting has gone on hiatus as I get used to the new schedule and get back into a routine. Eddy (that's my other half) finished this year at University and that means I'm not the sole income-earner any more which takes a bit of the pressure off. We haven't done anything "fun" in a while; no holidays, significant outings, etc. Then I thought, "Hey wait, Canada Day is coming up. I think the embassy does something for it in London." After looking it up on the Canada Day London website and reading all about the free festival, we booked our train tickets. You have no idea how excited it makes me when I think about a big ol' Bison burger and Steak Sandwich BBQ with live Canadian music, Sleeman's Honey Brown lager (how I miss thee!), and Tim Horton's DOUBLE DOUBLES and Iced Cappuccinos. Ahhh, heaven. The angels are smiling upon me now... But what to wear?!

Hopefully it'll be a sunny day in London, but as the event goes well into the night, we'll need something warm and of course festive. That's where the knitting machine comes in. Eddy and I roughly drew up a sketch of something a little more chic than the average maple leaf scarf.

As you can see, I'm hopeless at drawing the Maple Leaf. I don't know a single Canadian who can (try it if you don't believe me!). So instead I found the Canadian Flag on Google Images and printed out the image. After cutting out the Maple Leaf, I traced it onto some custom graph paper using Knit on the Net's fabulous Design Chart generator. I then pencilled a little "X" on all the squares at the edges of the design until I had something leaf-like.

With that, I made a start. It's not finished yet, but I'm taking photos as I go and will keep you posted. For now, I'm going to enjoy a cuppa and get on this Immigration application.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

A Hat a Day Keeps the Doctor Away!

Well I haven't been posting recently but I've been super busy knitting away!

I've added three new hats to Folksy in just three days.

Next up is a pair of black gloves for my other half's mum-in-law. She's unfortunately suffered a stroke and having trouble holding her fingers together, so they've asked for a thick pair of mittens.

St. Patrick's Day is coming up quickly (17 March!) so I've added a very chic Shamrock hat.

But for now, here is a showcase of the newest additions to the Wool & Wire shop on Folksy:

I'm going to keep this short but feel free to use the Comment bit to post what you've made for St. Patrick's Day!

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Valentines Day

Happy Valentines Day to anyone who celebrates. I personally don't, because I feel like I'm being used as a marketing tool. Any holiday that makes you feel like you must participate or risk looking insensitive has really good marketing techniques. I'm happily with my partner but I don't feel the need to declare my love on any certain day. Every day is Valentines Day as far as I'm concerned! Besides, wasn't Valentines Day originally to tell the person you fancied that you liked them ... anonymously?

Onto the rest of the day! I'm starting a new wire collection and almost finished the first bracelet. This is where I need your help! I'm not sure how to finish. I know I want it to be a dome bracelet (the kind that doesn't actually connect, but has a small gap to slip your wrist through). It's a 16-strand fine silver wire bracelet. I could finish by doing some fancy wire bending technique, soldering the ends, or trying my hand at using precious metal clay. Anyone have experience in these and what do you suggest?

This is the wire bracelet as it is now:

I'm eager to know how you'd like to see it finished so please comment below!

Other than that, I better make this post short. I'm getting into the Winter Olympics and getting more and more excited as the games go on. I was glued to the BBC's website this morning trying to catch up on everything that has happened. It's really a shame that my recording of the opening ceremony didn't go as planned. I e-mailed my cousin who said her recording failed too. Oh well, she had a blast and got to wear this super cool costume in all her Olympic glory!

Saturday, 13 February 2010

2010 Olympic Opening Ceremony

So I was so excited to come into work today and watch my cousin perform in the 2010 Olympic Opening Ceremony in stunning HD when I see the message from Hell: "Recording Failed. Unknown Reason". Unknown reason? What the hell does that mean? Of course there's a known reason. You stupid piece of crap box! Tell me the reason! Backtrack on your stupid flailing errors and tell me where it all went to shit! TELL ME! Hmph.

Well I did a little online research and tried to see if it would be on BBC iPlayer. Nope. "Not Available". So what do I do? Search "Not Available" in the iPlayer FAQ. Apparently, although the BBC has the license to broadcast it live, it doesn't necessarily have the license to offer it "on demand". Okay, okay. Next stop - YouTube! I hunt madly through uploaded video collages and stupid cartoons. Every time I come across a real Olympic video another message from hell graces me with its presence: "This video contains content from International Olympic Committee, who has blocked it on copyright grounds."

I don't respect the IOC at the best of times (banning women from Ski Jumping and totally averting Canadian law because it's an 'international' organisation), and while I respect there is such thing as copyright infringement, the video I was trying to access was a home video that happened to film some of the Olympic rehearsals. BIG DEAL.


So if anyone has it recorded and wants to share with me, I would only be too grateful!

Anyway it's Saturday and my last day of work for the week until Monday! Woo hoo! I'm up for a few pints. Anyone wish to join?


Friday, 12 February 2010

TGIF... wait, I'm in again tomorrow

Ah, yes, the glory of working at a Call Centre: shift work. My Saturday will be spent not knitting or bending wire but answering calls. We've been pretty slow lately so I'm hoping tomorrow will be even slower. Then again, everyone might just be waiting for the weekend to phone in. I think I'll bring some knitting in just in case. And I plan on finishing this Owl beanie by the end of this blog post!

Today our bosses, who care so much about business, money, profits, and attendence, enforced a mandatory "Games" day with a Valentines theme. First we had an e-mail Quiz to fill out and e-mail back within 15 minutes, then we had to write a poem for some manager on another floor, then we had to do an actual "treasure hunt" around Brighton (we got clues and had to take a picture of ourselves in front of the landmarks), and some quizzes on songs and movies. I'm not complaining; I got paid time off the phones, but it does annoy me after this whole absence fiasco from the other day. Bah humbug!

So the Olympics start tonight! Woo hoo! My cousin will be in the opening ceremony. She has sent me an e-mail on how to find her in the crowd. I've set it to record at work so hopefully I'll be able to see her. I might just have to come in with my pink Hockey jersey that reads, "Hockey Night in Canada"... but maybe I'll wait for the first Hockey game. I hear there will be one with Canada v. USA. That I must see! I've read that the Canadian athletes are receiving government funded counselling because of the pressure that is on them to win. I can imagine. Canada, snow, Winter Olympics... I rest my case! We're not doing a very good job though. I even heard we had to get some snow imported because there wasn't enough on the mountain! What kind of Canadians are we? Damn Global Warming!

Anyway I'm exhausted so I'll end it here. But not before showing you this new Owl Beanie!

... 3.5 hours later...

Voila! It's a quick snapshot - will take better photos Sunday.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Does Photojournalism Display Truth or Truth as We See it?

I read an article today in the BBC about "picturing disaster". It is a blog talking about the value of photojournalism. It notes that there have been complaints about the photos shown of Haiti and of Haitians themselves. The author, Phil Coomes, argues that although the photos can be gruesome, they are the truth. It reminds me of another opinion article I read in the Independent. Both views are in complete contrast of the other. I tend to lean toward Andy Kershaw's view in the Independent.

If Britain suffered a major catastrophe, do you think they would show the same images they do of the Haitians? Do you think they'd show a young women being pulled from rubble, dress ripped showing her privates, her upper thigh, or a snotty-nose without her consent? Or do we only show these images because they are foreign, black, and savage-like ... or better yet, because they can't complain? We don't see images of British soldiers brutally killed in muddy trenches. We don't see soldiers with one leg blown off after being injured or killed by a road-side bomb. That would be offensive to the country and to their family who wants to remember them as they were in their prime. Is photojournalism really about seeing the truth? I have a feeling it's more about evoking emotion, when appropriate (and that's when no one has the power to protest it).

I personally detest this "Fox News" approach to journalism. It is more about evoking emotion than it is reporting. It, to me, shows a lack of class. It's not that I want to be censored, I just want the people in these images to be respected. If the photos are taken and later the consent is given by the individuals, why not publish them at a later date? I, for one, don't want a photo taken of me with drool down my face, a bald patch from hair ripped out of my head, my t-shirt slipped up showing my tummy and belly fat, etc. It's not insecurity, it's just indecent. It's not who I am and it doesn't represent me. It shows me as a victim; a poor, helpless pet.