M-Space: The Blog


Sat 28 Jan 2012

On the move again

I've decided to start blogging again but, this time, to use a WordPress blog. If you would like to follow my new blog, you will find it at magnuscanis.wordpress.com.

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Wed 03 Feb 2010

Head and toes

As promised yesterday, here's details of my knitting projects so far this year that don't include cables.

The first thing I knitted this year was a pair of socks (that may have been started on 31st December or the first couple of days of January - I can't remember precisely). Unlike the other pairs I've knitted, I actually followed a pattern fairly closely for this pair, although to account for the thicker yarn I was using I followed the direction for medium sized socks to get large ones. The pattern, entitled Adult and child socks, comes from the book One Skein Wonders by Judith Durant, and I decided to risk using the same yarn that had given me so much trouble last year. These socks are fairly straightforward top-down ribbed ones with a peasant heel, but have the interesting feature that the ribbing continues into the heel and toe:
Sock toes
I finished these socks without too much hassle and was so pleased with them that I almost immediately started on the cabled socks I described yesterday (which I'm still working on).

Having taken care of keeping the lower end of my body warm, I decided to turn next to the other end and work on another hat for myself, although my previous ones are still doing fine. For quite a while I'd intended to have a go at the Tam O'Shanter that was described in Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting without tears and an impending Burns Night supper towards the end of January gave me the impetus I needed to actually get going on it.
Self-Portrait with Tam
Unfortunately I didn't quite get it finished for Burns Night, but it was greatly admired by my fellow Scottish dancers at our class the following week. In addition to the pompom (apparently a traditional feature of tams) and the 3-colour checked headband, I personalised the hat by knitting my name into the hem:
Tam #2

Although I already had a couple of projects on the needles (my cabled socks and antler scarf, in case you weren't paying attention earlier), which I think is a good number to have at once, I decided to start on my next project a couple of days ago. If nothing else, this would give me a break from the copious amounts of cabling involved in both of the others. I came across a pattern for a waffle knit dishcloth which looked quite fun. I think the stitch pattern is officially called raised box stitch, but waffle stitch seems to be a more evocative name. As well as the interesting stitch, I was attracted to this pattern because (i) it's fairly small and potentially quite quick to make, (ii) it uses cotton yarn (and I've had a skein in my stash since almost the beginning and been wondering what to do with it) and (iii) it doesn't involve cables :)
Waffle stitch washcloth (WIP)

That's probably enough about knitting for now, at least until I get one or two more projects underway (hopefully once I've finished my current batch). I'm hoping to keep on knitting over the coming months - perhaps this year I'll even keep it going throughout the summer?

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Tue 02 Feb 2010

The year of the cable?

As I mentioned yesterday, I've been a lot busier with knitting in the past month than in the whole of last year.

So far this year I have started 6 projects and finished 3 of them. Compared to last year, in which I abandoned my one outstanding knitting project from the previous year and completed one smallish bit of crochet, that's pretty good going.

Interestingly, half of this year's projects so far feature cabling quite heavily. It's probably just as well (or just because) I happen to like cabling.

My first cabled project of the year was a headband:
Self-portrait with headband (26/52)
This features a single 2-strand braid running all round it. It's knitted as one long strip and then the two ends are grafted together to form the band.

My other two cabling projects are both currently works in progress, and both feature slightly more exciting cable work.

Shortly after finishing the headband, I got cracking on an antler cable scarf:
Antler scarf - the middle
This is a type of cabling that I've not tried before. There are 2 crossings on every right-side row - one with the stitches held behind the work (so that the cable crosses to the right) and the other with the stitches held in front (so the cable crosses to the left). In addition, the cables and the background fabric are all in stocking stitch so that the cables blend more into the background (more commonly, cabling is done against a reverse stocking stitch background for greater contrast) and the cables are not continuous but snake out from the centre to the edge and fade out as the next cable begins. It is, I think, a very pleasing effect.

One of the other projects I completed recently was a pair of socks (about which I'll blog more tomorrow) and, having finished them I wanted to get straight on with another pair but, for the sake of variation, I wanted to avoid the 2x2 rib that has characterised the body of all my successfully completed socks to date. I decided to have a go at cabled socks:
Cabled Sock (WIP)
These are essentially 4x2 rib, with the knit parts of the rib cabled. I am working them from the toe up. At present the first sock is finished apart from the heel and the second one is about halfway up the foot, with the leg, heel and toe still to do. As a cunning design feature (borrowed from the slipper socks I designed and made a couple of years ago), the cables on one sock go in the opposite direction from those on the other sock. I don't yet have any photos of the second sock to demonstrate this, but I hope to get some soon.

That's it for this year's cable projects so far. I don't yet have any more lined up, although if I manage to keep my knitting going beyond the next few weeks I suspect a few more cables will find their way in. Tomorrow I'll give some more details of the other projects I've been working on this year.

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Mon 01 Feb 2010

A time to knit and a time to not

Since I started knitting, back in January 2006, I've done a lot more of it during the winter months than the summer ones. Partly that's perhaps due to the long dark evenings being more conducive to sitting down and knitting to the accompaniment of a good CD (or more recently a Spotify playlist) and partly due to the fact that in the colder months I'm more inclined to be wanting warm socks, hats and the other kinds of things that I like to knit.

At the start of last year, however, I ran into some difficulties with a sock that I was knitting. These were mainly caused by multiple breakages in the yarn (probably as a result of damage sustained before I bought it on eBay - caveat emptor!) rather than my own ineptitude, but were very frustrating. As well as giving up on the socks I had been working on, I abandoned knitting pretty much entirely for the rest of the year.

I think I always intended to return to it sooner or later, and certainly I didn't get rid of any of my stuff (even the problem yarn), but it wasn't until the very end of December, or possibly even the start of this January, that I picked up my needles again.

2009 was not entirely devoid of creative fibrework for me, though, as I did get round to crocheting a bow holster for my double bass:
Bow Holster
I had been wanting a bow holster for some time, to facilitate switching between bowing and plucking in the middle of a song. All the commercially available ones I could find cost at least £30 and looked way too posh for my bass. I decided that a fairly freeform crochet one would fit nicely with the paintwork as well as being a lot cheaper and potentially quite fun to make. I think I originally thought of the idea well over a year ago, but it was not until last September that I got round to starting it. Once it was underway, I had it finished within a few days (although I may yet return to add some decorations to it).

This bow holster is one of only about two crochet projects I've yet done and I don't have any particular plans for more crochet just yet, although I'd like to do some more fairly soon. On the other hand, the last month has seen a return to fairly frenetic knitting activity. More details to follow tomorrow...

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Sun 25 Oct 2009

Song Titles Game

As I blogged recently(*), I've been listening to a lot of music on my computer (either playing stuff from my own collection or using Spotify) over the past year, which has given me the opportunity to have some fun arranging playlists.

I came up with an amusing, although almost certainly not particularly original, little game, whereby I arrange my playlists so that the titles of consecutive songs make a complete sentence. Usually when I play the game (which is by no means all the time that I listen to music on the computer) I add the further constraint that all the songs should be by the same artist. Punctuation can be tweaked to clarify the sense of the phrase, but the word order should be preserved. As a minimum, of course, you need at least 2 titles, although 3 is better; there is no upper limit. A few examples will help to illustrate the idea.

I'm not sure when I first came up with the idea, but the first lists I made a note of were from songs by Bix Beiderbecke. These included:

Billy Bragg's album Mermaid Avenue yielded the list:

From Beth Orton's album Trailer Park I got:

A small collection of Beatles songs gave me two sentences:

The longest and, arguably, most impressive one I've come up with so far is based on a bunch of pieces by John Renbourn. Unlike most of the others I've listed, this one definitely benefits from some clarification of the punctuation:

  • Can't keep from crying | After the dance | I know my babe | Debbie Anne | Winter is gone | Nobody's fault but mine (-> "Can't keep from crying after the dance; I know my babe, Debbie Anne Winter, is gone - nobody's fault but mine")
  • So there you have it - a way to listen to your favourite music in a different order and have some fun with wordplay at the same time.

    * Recent is, of course, a relative term :-)

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