Saturday, January 23, 2010

COMP: Grumpy Robot Seeks Home


Meet Marvin. He's loosely based on the BBC TV version of the character from the Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy. I knitted him several years ago as a jokey birthday present for an ex, who solemnly returned it when we split up. I found it again packing up to move house last week. I don't really want to keep him, but someone's got to look after those dodgy diodes down his left-side (if you don't get that reference, you can leave now). So, want him?

Enter this competition. All you have to do is guess how many books I have at home. The closest guess posted in the comments form on this post by 3rd February, 5pm GMT wins Marvin.

Remember to include some sort of link/ email address in your guess so I can contact you if you win. If you don't, the entry will be discounted. I'm happy to post internationally. In case of a draw, I'll pick one out of a hat. I've emailed the total number to myself, so that email can act as a record in case of query. I'm not having people round to count them just to check. I should probably also note it hasn't been knitted to any toy safety standards.

The photo isn't a clue, as it was taken on my bookshelves at college, which I haven't counted. Yes, those are 'work' books, they are primary data for my research. The answer is probably less than you might imagine a lit-PhD-ex-bookseller might have (I'm really, really, not a book hoarder), but it's also probably more than you might imagine too, just because everyone has more books than you think.

UPDATE (3/2/10): and the answer is... 185. So the winner is Mr Robert Weaselspoon, who guessed 172.

Marvin standing

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Warming jumpers and balling yarn

Happy New Year. I'm sneaking in a quick blog post between start-of-term business and our impending house-move next weekend (no huge life-dramas: it's just that the land-lady's selling up and we're only moving a mile away, but moving is a hassle).

I thought I'd share a recent experience in balling some yarn of my mother's, in case the info is of any use to fellow knitters. Exhibit one: some pretty, but very tangled and very, very slippery yarn.

tangled yarn

My mum bought it in Damascus (here). From my own experience with a lace-weight version of the same yarn, I predicted it would be a humongous pain to ball. Loads of tangles, and so slippy you leave it un-gripped for a millisecond and the ball falls to pieces (creating more tangles in the process). I warned her, and insisted she came round to use our swift and ball winder.

I was right about the tangles and slipperiness. About 1/8th of the way through we decided to ditch the idea of the ball-winder (it just slipped off it, you had to hold the ball in your hand the whole time...). We needed a bobbin which could readily be passed through un-doing knots. We looked around the table and spotted some rolls of parma violets I had lying around ready to be sent off to a friend who lives in the states.

sweetie bobbin

They worked REALLY well. The thick pen-like shape was great for wrapping yarn around whilst keeping tight in your hand, as well as pointing through the knots. We then balled the yarn (by hand) from these bobbins and kept the balls secure with some tissue paper and rubber bands. It still took several hours: the finished knitting pieces from this yarn better be worth it!

If you don't know what these Parma Violets things are, they are UK-sweeties (candy if you really must), flavoured with violets. You either love or hate them. See a close up of the 'bobbin' here.

I'll finish with a couple of FO shots - pieces finished over the Christmas break, my last knitting of 2009.

Wedgewood FO: close up red cardi: close up hands

It's the Wedgewood blouse from IW Knits Summer 2006 (but modified as a woolly jumper), and a super-simple top-down raglan cardigan. Ravelled here and here respectively. The yarn for both comes from aborted attempts at Demi (rav link). Which, using yarn from a first-day-of-the-sales trip to John Lewis, is my current WIP. I've modified to work it as a top-down raglan, but I'm a little worried I won't have enough yarn. Wish me luck.

Demi WIP