Monday, 14 July 2008

Tipcats, Buzzers and a pain in the Coriolis

This weekend I spent on the Isle of Wight with my dad. Dad is in his eighties so I like to drop in on him every so often just to make sure everything is OK. He is fiercely independent so would never let on if he was struggling so I need to go and see for myself.

It's also a wonderful opportunity to get some uninterrupted knitting and spinning time. As it's a flying visit I only really need a change of underwear and a toothbrush ....plus at least four knitting and spinning projects...

For the train journey and ferry I need something portable and fairly mindless so I chose some Socks that Rock lightweight merino in one of last year's Rockin' Sock Club shades for some plain, ordinary socks.

I am in two minds about Socks that Rock. On the one hand (or foot) they use a lovely base yarn which is springy and plump and a joy to knit with.They also use colours that look fabulous in the skein. On the other hand they are ruinously expensive ( I didn't rejoin the sock club after last year) and are quite well known for some rather spectacular pooling and flashing. I think I was quite lucky with these socks.They sorted the colours out into fairly organised stripes with only a bit of a shuffle around the instep. I'm very pleased with them and they have the sort of feel in the hand that makes you want to gallop on with them.

I also attempted a little drop spindling on the train as I had plenty of room and not too many fellow passengers to annoy. It went pretty well. Over the weekend I knocked out another mini skein of pink yarn but it looked almost identical to the last one so I won't bore you with that...


Here is one of my favourite knitting spots in dad's garden. We sat out there for ages watching the potatoes and courgettes grow and speculating about the contents of the neighbour's washing line.

Most of the time I'm with dad we sit and chat or do quiz crosswords or watch the television so Le Germolene shawl was a good accompaniment to that, still requiring occasional visits to the stitch dictionary for patterns not yet entirely memorised but simple enough to be able to hold a conversation at the same time. To be honest, the most that is required of me is to listen. Dad was in good reminiscing mode and was telling me stories about his childhood in the north east of England and his adolescence in the south.

Evidently tipcats are a sort of wooden thingummy that you put on the ground, hit with a stick to make them jump up then hit them like a rounders ball and run like in cricket. Or something like that. Buzzers on the other hand are simply wads of newspaper wedged into the bottom of an unsuspecting neighbour's drainpipe and set fire too. Apparently they make a most satisfactory whooshing noise as the oxygen is sucked down the pipe like a chimney, bringing the enraged householder to the door with cries of 'I know your dad', at the backs of a gang of little boys running away in their short trousers and boots. Young people today...

Despite all this excitement I did manage to add a few more rows to the shawl bringing my total to 74 rows. I fear I am making a bit of heavy weather of this shawl - at this rate I'll be still doing it next time the Tour comes round. More like Windy Miller on his tricycle than a sleek and fit member of Team Credit Agricole. Wait for me - I'm coming...

Finally, I brought a project for when dad was 'resting his eyes' or pottering about in the garden. Something that requires a bit of concentration. I was planning to tackle Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters. Now I was terribly excited when this book came out as being both a keen sock knitter and a geek it seemed like my dream book. However, every time I opened it, usually after a challenging day at work I would read a couple of pages and be overcome with the need to take a powder and lie down. I really found the book difficult to follow.

Today, however,I refused to be beaten. I was going to make the Coriolis socks. One of the first things that I struggled with in this book was navigating my way round it. To make this one standard architecture I calculated that I needed to regularly visit eight different sections of the book so be warned, come at this book armed with plenty of bookmarks, don't be forced to tear up a leaflet for a Paul Weller concert like me.

After visiting four sections I had achieved this:

I was ready to give up already but dad was still 'breathing deeply' so I pressed on and eventually this emerged. A whirlpool toe. I think it's really pretty. It may have been worth the effort...

The whole concept of the book can be summed up in one sentence. 'You can put the arch expansion stitches anywhere you like.' With the Coriolis they are added in a swirl that sweeps across the arch of the foot. It's very pretty and very simple to do. I have finished it.


I will let you know how I get on with the heel turn and flap - I may be some time. I think I amgoing to learn to love this book as it is larded with ideas and options for changing the construction of socks but I find the layout confusing and the concepts, which are in essence very simple, overdescribed to the point of incomprehensibility. Perhaps when the second printing comes out they will remove every other word and it will become a work of genius. It is, however, despite these shortcomings, an absolute goldmine for sock knitting tips and tricks and does invite the reader to start thinking and experimenting for themselves.I've already got an idea I want to try out...

The yarn,by the way is Shelridge Farm Soft Touch Ultra Heathered in Opal. I've had it for ages but I can't think why as it's lovely. It's the sort of yarn that makes you think of toasting your feet in front of a log fire in a little cottage miles from nowhere, practical but pretty.

So, that was my weekend. Dad is on fine form, I did lots of knitting and spinning. Life is good.

14 comments:

Paula said...

Sounds like a lovely weekend. The knitting all looks great.

Marianne said...

That's a lovely spot in the garden to carry on with chatting and knitting.
The Opal Shelridge Farm yarn is Very Pretty, I rather like the solids and nearly solids for my own feet and love that toe!

sussexyorkie said...

I always think the Isle of wight is good tonic. Love the colour of the STR. I have had Cat Bordhi's book for a few months now, keep opening it up and thinking it needs a bit of concentration too, you seem to be well on the way to mastering it.

Miss 376 said...

What a beautiful place to live-looking at those pictures reminded me why I haven't jumped on the sock bandwagon as yet

Auntie Noo said...

Glad you had such a lovely weekend. Your shawl is looking wonderful, and I can't wait to see the how the new socks come out, looks mighty complicated to li'l 'ol me!

Queen of the froggers said...

That sounds like the perfect weekend for total relaxation. I am really interested in hearing more about the Cat Bordhi sock knitting.

picperfic said...

are you writing a book? I could read your words forever! Love your naughty Dad! I had the same trouble with the Cat Bordhi book but I did the little learning socks forst to familiarise myself with this new technique, there are some gorgeous ideas in that book!

ambermoggie said...

looks like you had a productive and happy weekend:)

Mrs J said...

Nice weekend! I am reserving Cat for a bit of P&Q time in the holdays!

Carolyn said...

Love your shawl! I enjoyed reading about your Dad and Cat Bordhi. My Mom (the sock knitter of the family) has the book (I gave it to her for Christmas) and has been saying the same thing about how it is hard to get into. You remind me that I should spend more time sitting and knitting with her.

celadon2 said...

Thank you for the Pick and mix sock pattern. Natalie has just sent it to me.

knittingtastic said...

What a lovely, reflective post, I think we all need to remember that we should spend more time 'watching the potatoes and courgettes grow' with a loved one before we get too caught up in the business of daily life. Thank You Jane

Gill said...

I have the sock book too and have tried to get into it on several occasions, defeated each time by my inability to see wood for trees. Your phrase "overdescribed to the point of incomprehensibility" sums it - and the mobious concept - up wonderfully!

BTW having begun my working life on the IOW your post prompted fond memories. thank you!

Bronchitkat said...

Do NOT try doing Buzzers on plastic drainpipes. Cos if the householder does indeed 'know your Dad' he'll be round with a bill for a new section of drainpipe!

Ah, the days when drainpipes, & most other things, were made of cast iron!