playing tourist

 

It’s a glorious three-day weekend here in UK — I’ve always wanted to experience a Bank Holiday after reading about them for years and years — and I decided to play tourist.  Then quickly realized that  I did not, in fact, have enough money to be a tourist.

Things started quietly.  I spent Friday at the library being a good little researcher, then headed off to Bloomsbury for a talk at the London Review Bookshop.  I love the LRB — love getting it in the mail, love leafing through it, love it even when I don’t read it — and I can’t quite say why.  Part of me is sure it’s only nostalgia; part of me really does enjoy the articles.

In any case, I was on my way to see John Berger.  And what should have been a rather straightforward walk turned into something of an odyssey of wrong turns down wrong streets, but eventually I made it — and in good time.  Enough to wander around looking at books with John Berger.  It was a bit odd.  The talk was very full and very, very good.

I’m thinking of spending more of my lunch breaks there.

Then, on Saturday, I took a very long bus ride out to see Kensington Palace.  The weather was not ideal; neither was all the renovation work.  Ah, well.

Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace

A friend recommended that I try tea at the Orangery.  It was packed — but pretty delicious.  And probably the most expensive meal of my trip.

Kensington Palace

Today was the final stop on my tourist adventure — out to Spitalfields Market.  This was a pretty comical effort, since any chance I had, I took a wrong turn.  My sense of direction is unerring in its complete wrongness.  Needless to say, the journey took quite a bit longer than planned.  But I arrived and spent a good bit of time wandering through the stalls.

I also found my birthday bag — it’s a very spacious, compact little satchel with all kinds of flaps and pockets, just like I wanted.  It’s perfect.  As is my new scarf from TopShop.

new bag!

new bag!

Pretty nice, dontcha think?

stripes!

Finally– greetings from London!  It’s a bit early here and I’m not quite ready to go, but papers (and letters and documents, oh my!)  await!  The library is very swanky, very centrally located, and has pretty comfy chairs.  Their scanner is amazing.  I haven’t ruined anything yet, which is always my fear when working with old stuff.

London is wonderful, though I have seen very very little of it.  Though I do feel master of the few blocks I wander with regularity.

As for knitting, there hasn’t been much to see.  Just a few more stripes …

more stripes

more stripes

I try to fit in a row here and there, at lunch or whenever.  Makes for slow progress.

Part of last week’s wandering brought me to a very packed used book store where I found some very pretty books.  I didn’t realize I had an interest in gardening (or reading about gardening), but one never knows …

pretty books

i think i might be knitting a lakers jersey

That really says it all.

diff'rent strokes

I was thinking that these two colors (sunset and hollyhock) would make a mighty kicky combo.  Turns out, the Lakers hit upon the same idea in 1967.

Ah well.  These stripes are highly addictive — so addictive, in fact, thatI’ve also started the yellow on yellow study (though the photos have yet to turn out).

diff'rent strokes

diff'rent strokes

Good airplane knitting as well.  I plan to keep going and embrace the wild color scheme, while listening to some form of detective fiction (yet to be determined), all the way to London.  Tomorrow I arrive and head straight to the library (!!).  That’s the best case scenario anyway … somehow, I have a feeling I’ll end up wandering a bit aimlessly, get lost, then collapse at the nearest cafe before until heading out to find my host’s apartment.

But I’m telling myself I’ll be working away at the library.  Now, I have to pack.

Inspector Clouseau trousseau; or, vesna in Paris

“Where is my Surété-Scotland-Yard-type mackintosh?”

mais oui

This is no mackintosh, but let’s take a closer look, shall we? …

mais oui

mais oui

Finally, the Inspector Clouseau trousseau meets vesna in Paris is finished!  And not a moment too soon … this has to go in the mail on Monday, so as not to languish in shawl purgatory (i.e., my apartment) until I return.  After all, Alice has shown no interest in making deliveries in the 5 years I’ve known her.  (Though she does faithfully stand sentry over whatever damp wool happens to be pinned out blocking on the floor.)

The shawl had to come together rather quickly — like everything this summer — and I’m quite pleased with the result.  I did have some moments of doubt when working the vesna border, but in the end I don’t think the pairing looks odd at all.  Just that little bit of added something that I was hoping for.

mais oui

I grabbed a moment of sunshine this morning (oh, stormy Nashville) for a few photos.  The sundara silky merino blocked out wonderfully, so silky and soft and very forgiving of any wonky stitches.  In the end, I kinda fell in love with the color: not too pink, a just-right mellow shade of lilac.  I hope the recipient feels the same way.

Details here.

mais oui

And now onto travel knitting!

nope.

Summer is here.  And I have once again confirmed that I am one of those people who does not deal well with changes to routine.  I’m cranky like a fussy baby with a dissertation to write.  Also, it’s hot here.

Let’s just say I’m glad to be leaving next week.  The trip is nerve-racking — so much to accomplish, so little time! — but someone reminded me yesterday evening that it’s supposed to be exciting! and fantastic!  I’m trying to stay with that enthusiasm.  Because it will be awesome.  And nerve-racking.

So, welcome.

nope.

In knitting news, the sunset/ frank ochre stripe study was a bust.  It’s just not right somehow — too much orange, too much contrast, too much bright … something is off.  As Eileen mentioned, “a lot of look” and that pretty much describes it.  Too much look.  So I ripped.

To remedy the problem, I ordered another shade of Malabrigo: sauterne.  This is the look I was going for: yellow on yellow.  And the pattern really is lovely to knit.  So lovely that I bought different lines as well … perfect travel knitting.  Without a doubt.

nope.

nope.

If the yarn arrives in time, of course.

socks and shawls

Thanks to a Friday night spent watching movies — The Mummy Returns, Harlem Nights, and Why Did I Get Married if you’re curious — this guy now almost has a mate.

Almost.

toddler socks

I had to reknit the heel at least three times because of funky stitch counts, foggy memories of what I’d engineered the first time around, and margaritas.  But now I’m really, really good at the yarn-over short row.  (Quite a nice method, methinks.  I prefer the join it makes with the instep stitches — very smooth and invisible thanks to that extra yarn over just begging to be k2tog-ed or ssk-ed into oblivion.)

Anyway, as it turns out, toddler socks are quite a bit more knitting than baby socks.  Amazing how much more work 8 extra stitches and a quite a few extra inches adds.  I’m not complaining, just revising strategy: in the future older siblings will receive a book.

In other news, I’m trying to figure out some travel knitting.  I’ll be gone for a bit more than 5 weeks and am trying to pack as lightly as possible.  So lace seems like the right choice: I’ve already got plans to take along Ms. Beauregarde — currently stuck in an especially boring and repetitive section with about 358 gazillion rows to go — but what else?  Since this is a working trip, complex charts (or, boring charts) might not be the best choice for public transportation or tired evenings.

The current frontrunner is Veera’s Stripe Study because it is both awesome and relatively portable, meditative but hopefully not tediously mindless.  Here’s where I’m getting stuck: color choice.  At first, I thought of grey and yellow … it didn’t look quite right.  So I went for less contrast: yellow on yellow.

hmmm ...

What say you, internets?  Is this just going to make me look like I’m wrapped in a traffic cone?

I feel that there is potential for this to look either deeply awesome or deeply horrible.  The orange would be the contrast stripe on the ochre background, I think: would this be the good kind of obnoxious color overload that I love so much?

The more I look at it, the more I think it just might work.  It would certainly be eye catching …

Alice is not convinced.  Or maybe she is.

Alice agrees.

mash up

Or, the Inspector Clouseau Trousseau meets Vesna in Paris.

inspector clouseau

I don’t know why I’m so married to the French names at the moment — there is nothing actually French about this project.  It’s all feuled by the insistence on a rather silly Pink Panther reference, very far removed from any kind of intrinsic knitting logic.

But isn’t the yarn pretty?

inspector clouseau

At first, I was afraid it would be too too pink.  But I’m mellowing to it … after all, pink is the color of the heart and what is a wedding (or at least this one) if not a matter for hearts?

Besides, it is most certainly also lilac.  And lilacs are lovely.

inspector clouseau

Onto the modifications.

This is solely personal opinion, but I feel that a wedding shawl should have some flair.  It needs to go out with a bang.  Which, in knitting terms, I translate into some kind of fabulous border pattern.  Now, trousseau is a lovely, flowy shawl … without a great punch line.  It’s an all-rounder, not a show pony.

So, I decided to see if I couldn’t put it together with the fantasticly large and swooping border of vesna.  It took a little fancy footwork (and modification down to a 20-stitch repeat), but I think it might just work.

inspector clouseau

Considering that lately I’ve been in the throes of planning an all too last minute research trip (a whirlwind tour of some very nice libraries in very expensive cities), thinking about stitch counts — and not where in the world I’ll find a place to sleep in London — has been quite relaxing.  And now that the sleeping situation has been taken care of … I just have to get the knitting finished in time.

inspector clouseau