Friday, August 27, 2010

Hello from Edinburgh

The move went well, and we are settling in. Still no internet connection: 5-7 working days, my foot. Free wifi in the pub next door, though. Awesome.

Seeing the flat again for the first time in a month, I immediately noticed all sorts of things that I hadn't noticed at our viewing. For example, lack of right angles. Ah, character.

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We picked a great/terrible time to move to Edinburgh, depending on your point of view: it is festival season, and the Edinburgh Fringe has taken over the whole city. We knew that going in, but it's still a pretty weird atmosphere to form first impressions in. I've been here as a tourist before, and I sort of still feel like a tourist. Maybe when the Fringe-goers go home and there are fewer tourists around we'll get used to living normal life in Edinburgh.

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The Scottish parliament is a frankly confusing building up close. I think it comes together rather well from slightly further away. Art? Or monstrosity? You decide.

Not a whole lot of knitting going on between unpacking, assembling flatpacked furniture, and going to Fringe shows, but we did get out and climb up Arthur's Seat the other day. I've been up several times before when visiting Edinburgh, but every time the views of the city startle me. The spires in the centre of town help form an impressive skyline.

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I love that there's a huge hill right in the middle of the city.

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So far so good.

Monday, August 16, 2010

One last foray on Dartmoor

As I mentioned in my last post, I recently spent a day out hiking on Dartmoor. Hiking, or walking as they tend to say here, is pretty much the only athletic activity I feel any good at. During the time I spent in Devon a few years ago, I took advantage of the proximity to beautiful hills, tors, and moors: I joined a walking society and went hiking most weekends. My boyfriend and I met on one of those walks, and the rest is... geography? Har har. In any case, we both like to walk, and this is a great place to do it. We set out for a final walking daytrip before moving to Scotland.

We started out in Okehampton, followed a proper trail for a way, and then struck out onto the moors to clamber up and down some tors.

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For a while, all the views were like this. Nice. Luckily the weather is very changeable. Over the course of a short walk between tors, we might lose sight of our goal completely, even if it was less than 100 metres away. And then it would reappear. And maybe disappear again in the fog.

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Blunt enough.

We wandered into the danger zone which covers a large portion of Dartmoor, but there were no military exercises going on. Remnants of past military activity cropped up every so often in the form of shell casings and rusted bits of metal, but nothing big and scary.

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It's hard to capture the extremeness of the landscape in a little rectangle. The scrabble, gorse, and tumbled rocks give the whole place a bleak look in the fog and rain, but shine out starkly in the sun. Groomed fields contrast the wildness on all sides of them. On occasions when the fog did lift, the views from the top of the hills and tors were startling and beautiful.

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And yet, it all looks so piddly when I try to take photos of it.

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And of course there were lots of sheep about. These rams looked like they were having some sort of meeting. A Conference of Rams. New collective noun?

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This is my last post before moving to Edinburgh - lots to be done around here, and I'm not sure when I'll next have a reliable internet connection. Exciting times, though! See you soon, blogosphere.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

FO: Herbivore

Two FO posts in a row? It may never happen again. Or maybe it will.

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Pattern: Herbivore, by Stephen West

Yarn: Sweet Paprika Messa di Voce

Notes:
This scarf/shawlette took far less yarn than expected. The pattern calls for 430 yds / 393 m, so I figured two skeins of Messa di Voce would do it. In fact, the scarf was full pattern size after one skein, but I dipped into the second skein because I was nervous it would be too small. I only knit about an extra inch before the bind-off - about 13 inches deep instead of 12. It's a good size and blocked a little bigger anyway.

The colour is a bit brighter and slightly yellower than the photo shows. It's exciting to use indie hand-dyed yarn! (And Canadian indie yarn, no less.) The yarn bled quite a bit when blocking, so I will probably avoid this yarn for colourwork. I really enjoyed knitting it, though, and it's super soft.

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I wore Herbivore while hiking on Dartmoor yesterday. More on this in another post: it really is an astounding place. I hoped to use the landscape in some suitably dramatic FO photos, but none of them really show off the knit or the landscape. Ah well. It kept me warm!

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Herbivore's test-run on Dartmoor: photofail, warmth success!

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This deserves blocking wires. It would look so much nicer with crisp straight edges than my straight pins can provide. Wibble wobble. Also, after one wearing, the edges are already rolling, so I think I should have blocked more vigorously. One day I'll get proper blocking wires!

Sunday, August 08, 2010

FO: Noro socks of pinkness

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The noro knee-sock saga has come to a close, and it's so exciting.

Pattern: Delicious Knee Socks by Laura Chau

Yarn: Noro Kureyon Sock

Notes:
As previously noted, I ran out of yarn 1.5 socks in. The pattern's handy yardage chart is great, but you have to actually use it for it to help you. *headdesk*. I decided to order more yarn after all, and I'm glad I did.

I did not attempt to match the two socks, instead deciding to see where the Noro took me. The tops ended up nearly matching anyway, through no extra calculation of my own.

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My gauge was much tighter than the pattern required: 32 sts / 3.5 inches rather than 32 sts / 4 inches. Even so, I still ended up going down a sock size, knitting for foot circumference 8 instead of 9 inches. I think if I use this pattern again, I will go up to a 2.25 mm needle, instead of 2.0 mm. The fabric is really dense and warm.

These socks are super fun, but now that I've completed them I can't imagine ever wearing them in public. And yet, they are too fabulous to be hidden under trouser-legs.

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Saturday, August 07, 2010

Olive bread success

I have a long-awaited FO to show-off in the next few days, once I can get some decent photos when it stops raining, but in the meantime, I made bread. It was delicious. I have been baking more bread lately than in my whole life, since bread is something the whole family will eat - my boyfriend's family includes a vegan who eats almost no fat, so cookies are out. In any case, half my attempts at cookies here have been horrible failures. (I blame the oven's mad vendetta against me and the surprisingly lack of baking trays.) My bread attempts have been moderately more successful, but this one is the best-received offering yet.

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My lacklustre photos on dirty counter top do not do it justice. The thing was devoured in minutes! Or maybe hours, if I'm honest. Luckily, I made the two loaves at once, so there's a whole other loaf hidden away. It will disappear by tonight, though.

I used the recipe for Sun Dried Tomato and Olive Bread on the BBC, but left out the sun dried tomatoes. I didn't use as many olives as required, either, but I should have used the full amount. I also used loaf pans instead of making round loaves since there were no flat baking sheets to be found. I also used active dry yeast instead of fresh yeast, using this conversion chart. This was my first time baking with a recipe that called for weights as opposed to volumes. I used a kitchen scale and everything! I still have all my North American volume-measured recipes and have meauring devices suitable for those, but I'm excited to venture into these British recipes as well.

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Not going to lie: this is my second attempt at this particular bread. The first attempt looked promising until I cut into the middle and realized the centre of the bread was still doughy, even though the outside was very brown. It never cooked, despite hours and hours more in the oven on low heat. Fail. Reasons for failure are probably two-fold. 1. boyfriend's oven is a temperamental beast that hates me; 2. I tried to make it as one loaf rather than the two called for in the recipe. Bad idea.

Anyway, the second attempt was a resounding success. Fluffy, moist, olive-y, crusty, mmmm.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Fall Twist: best issue ever?

I think this is my favourite issue of Twist Collective so far. The photography and styling in Twist is always beautiful, so I love looking through it even if the individual patterns don't appeal to me. In this issue, the photos are gorgeous but I also want to make practically everything, so it's all a bit overwhelming!

I can't pick one favourite, but as it turns out, many that jump out at me are from Mary-Heather's colourful story.

Orange Pop is awesome. I've never considered using the "wrong-side" of fair-isle as a pattern in itself before, but leave it to Norah Gaughan to come at knitting from all sides. So cool. I would leave off the turtle-neck on this, probably, and I suspect I would use less popping colours, but still. Cityscape is adorable. I would add waist-shaping if I made it for myself, though. And socks! Manolo is so elegant. I've never been attracted to designer shoes, but I would totally make these socks, even to hide them in my unfashionable footwear.

I also like the soft, muted colour palette of "Une histoire comme les autres" - extra bonus points for Montreal and French!

Acorns is pretty and looks infinitely wearable, as does Metro.

Finally, I've always wanted to make a coat, even though I'm not sure how practical it would be. Maybe Red Oak is the one.

I'm so glad fall knitting is around the corner.