There and back again…

…a sock’s tale.

These socks were started on the way ‘over there’ to Canada, and worked on for most of the way ‘back again’.

I designated these as my travel project, on brand new Brittany Birch 2.5mm DPNs, which I thought A) would evade the X-ray machines at the airports, and B) would stand a chance of getting past anyone who did ask ("No, officer, they’re not knitting needles; they’re toothpicks!").  They did get past the check-in staff, and no-one asked about them, so I didn’t get to test hypothesis B.  However, one did break, just into the second sock, which has produced a significant hiatus in their progress.

I finally sucked it up, though, and bought a new set, and progress is now being made:

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But these little beasts haven’t played their last trick yet; I got well past the documented point on Saturday, only to discover that I’d done the gusset decreases differently on each sock.  I don’t mean I’d used a different technique – ohh, no, I’m not that picky! – but that I’d decreased at a different rate.

I discovered ages ago that decreasing on every round can improve the fit on my rather skinny ankles, and so did just that, automatically, on the second sock.  It was only later, when comparing the would-be pair, that I noticed the difference.  Given that I know the first sock fits, and that cabled fabric knit on small needles is less ‘give-y’ than lace, I ripped.

Sigh.  I might yet finish these this month, I suppose…

Gay Adoption and Discrimination

In December, Scotland brought in a bill allowing same-sex adoption, but allowed adoption agencies with a religious foundation to ‘opt out’.  The UK is bringing in an ‘Equality Act’ that will force all UK adoption agencies to accept same-sex adopters, and incidentally railroad the Scottish opt-out clause.

India has posted today regarding the current furore over this incoming legislation that prevents adoption agencies from discriminating against gay couples who want to adopt.  She has made some excellent points that bear repeating – that a marriage certificate isn’t an MOT of child-worthiness, that "there are damaged, vulnerable children brought up within a marriage that is loveless and wrought with violence" and that being gay should not automatically result in being labelled as an unsuitable parent.  And I totally agree.

However, and please realise that I am making this comment as a non-Christian, non-straight woman in a long term, non-married relationship, I can also understand that a religiously-founded organisation might have genuine horror at the thought of giving the children in their care into the hands of people that they believe to be deeply sinful; might believe that the moral and spiritual wellbeing of those children would be endangered; might believe that they would be failing in their duty to those children to place them in such a family.  While I don’t agree with those beliefs, I can understand that they are genuine beliefs, and I also quite understand that such an agency may be concerned for the child, rather than acting to spite the would-be adopters.

To draw a parallel, it would be rather like the vegetarian owners of an animal rescue centre being forced to hand over their sheep to a meat-farmer.  I am sure that some people will think this analogy heavily over-drawn; I’m equally sure that some will think it not strong enough.

If it is discriminatory to prevent gay couples1 adopting, it is also discriminatory to trample the deeply-held values of any religious group.  I don’t know what proportion of adoption agencies do have a religious foundation, but I’m pretty sure that the church does not have a monopoly on adoption in this country.  Assuming I’m correct, I would think that any gay couple choosing to register with a religious adoption agency was either dumb and insensitive, or otherwise chasing the potential lawsuit, to register with one.

I don’t have the answers to this.  I think it is a very, very difficult situation.  Anyone who is both deeply Christian and gay has to square that circle with themselves, and much heartache and soul-searching that has lead to over the centuries.  Yet how much harder it is when the argument must be carried out by different individuals – or groups – rather than within one’s own head.

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1In any case, why do we insist on an existing sexual relationship between the two (and why two??) would-be adopters?  Realistically, how does that make a difference to a child?  Actually, why not allow a brother and sister living together to adopt?  (I’m talking about platonic living together here; let’s not go down that route right now.)

My name is Alison, and I have bought no yarn for a month now.

Except for this.  And now this:

Stash damage:
   Cygnet wool rich 4ply, sagey khaki:    50 g, 205 m

In other words, another ball to finish that darn edging.  This better be the last.

I am, on the whole, really enjoying the freedom *not* to buy yarn, but today was my first real test, confirming my theory that I buy yarn as a destress mechanism when work has p!ssed me off (long story, not interesting).  Oh, and I suddenly realised that I didn’t have enough cash for just the yarn (and the buttons – picture to follow) – so I had to make up my purchases to £10 so I could use my card.  Interesting that in the past, that would have been INSTANT YARN!  Today, what to do??

Patterns, of course.  But I found it reaaallly challenging to find a book that I wanted to spend my hard-earned $$ on.  I looked at Erika Knight’s Glamour and Classic (I think??) – more on that later – and also Rowan’s Beads, Buttons and LaceScottish Inspirations and Classic Beach.  I ended up buying ‘Classic Beach’ because it has the best ratio of patterns I actually want to make vs. cost – and it’s still not great.  I don’t know if I’m overloaded and jaded after 18 months of intensive knit-purchasing, or if I’ve just become more selective, or if there is a lot of ‘padding’ in the current Rowan-published books, but I thought that the ‘win rate’ was pretty low in all of them.

Oh, and do we really need a whole book from Rowan on dog jackets?  I love my hound, but I don’t think I’m gonna knit her a coat out of Kid Classic and then felt it.  And for anyone out there that thinks that they can carry off a whole sweater in Big Wool, let’s all bear in mind that it can even make a whippet look fat.

Frankly, I think this little guy’s expression says it all:

Pissedoffpooch

"I’m gonna bite your kneecaps off"

Out of yarn… again

I appear to have purchased nowhere near enough yarn for the edging; I will need at least one more ball of the paler green yarn, and another of the dark green, too, I think.  This seems to be the Project of Too Little Yarn, as well as the Project that Ate Cambridge.  Still, now I’ve actually started concentrating on it again, I think there’s a reasonable chance that I’ll finish it this week.  Whilst I’m waiting for the opportunity to pop back into town for more yarn, I’ll be correcting the mistake I made on the cuffs – which itself should free up more yarn.  Though not enough.
I just hope that this is not setting the pattern for the year; since I’m knitting from stash this year, it could all to easily do just that.
In other news, I’ve followed Polly‘s lead and joined the Knitting on the Road knitalong – just in time to vote for the next sock in line.  I’ll need to get Making Waves off the needles PDQ then….

Progress on ‘Lily’

The big green blob:

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Body edging: half done
Cuff edging: all done – but will it stay??

The cuffs on this cardi are interesting; two slightly-less-than-half-width cuff sections are knit, then joined together with about 5 stitches between them.  This results in a U-shaped indentation in the cuff.  When I crocheted the edging, I wasn’t sure whether the edging was supposed to go across the bottom of the ‘U’ or not – so I put it there.  In retrospect, I would have been better leaving it off, then adding it in later if I decided I wanted it.

Aaaaand….  I didn’t read the cuff instructions properly.  The cuff edging is only supposed to have one row of loops.  I’m not sure I like the double row; it makes the cuff flare loads because it’s so bulky, especially with the split cuff:

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I think I will probably pull it out and do it again properly.
 

Dancing again

So, dancing.  I mentioned in my last post that I’ve actually made it to a dance class this week.  I think the time between having shingles (July ’05) and now is the longest time I have gone without dance classes since the age of about 8.  Dance and me go back a long, *long* way.

Some of my earliest memories are of begging for dance lessons.  (Mind you, I used to beg for a pony, too.)  I had a tape of the RAD ballet grade 3 (or 4?) syllabus music from the time, and I used to make up barre exercises based on the teacher’s descriptions on tape.  I’m sure there are people who would pay good money to see my imaginative thoughts on what a développé might be.

I did get dance lessons (though not the pony), and learned tap and ballet with several teachers over many years.  I have a knack for tap (innate fine motor control and an ability to perform silly co-ordination tricks will do that for you), but ballet was the one that bit deep.  Which is pretty sad for me, because I’ve never been tiny, and have ended up at 6 ft tall.  For those that think ballerinas are tall folk, Darcey Bussell, Principal Ballerina with the English Royal Ballet is considered exceptionally tall – at 5 ft 7.  Most female dancers would fit in your pocket (and probably weigh less than your jacket, too, bless ’em).

Ballet took me right the way through my undergraduate career – and part of my post graduate one – until I somehow injured my hip and couldn’t even walk properly for most of a year.  That injury’s never healed fully, and despite a few flirtations with ballet since, I can’t get into it unless I can train *properly*, and that’s just risking too much pain with the hip.

Enter raqs sharqi – which is a posh word for bellydance.  I won’t even start to go into the politics of raqs sharqi/bellydance and so on (not in this post, anyway), but learning raqs with a local teacher taught me to relate to my body and movement in a very different way.  All Western dance forms teach an ‘up’ and ‘forwards’ posture; you are always on your toes, or your weight is forwards as if it might be.  It’s not only ballet; it covers our whole Western aesthetic, from jazz to ballet to ballroom.  It gives a feeling of weightlessness, and constant movement, as if the dancer is in an infinitely prolonged fall.  By contrast, Middle Eastern dance has a feeling of the weight being pushed down into the earth through the feet, through the whole sole of the foot, which to me feels more like an emphasis on the heel than anything else.  A dancer who is not firmly connected to the ground will appear to ‘bobble’ around like a pea on a drum, and will probably have difficulty mastering the isolations that enable the hips to move without affecting the rib cage, or vice versa.  There is far less emphasis on the body’s movement through space; there is far more emphasis on the body’s movement within its own personal space.  You could perform a dance that takes up a space not much larger than the dancer themself, and it would not be dull.    It is rare to extend an arm or leg straight.  The dance is often improvised – as is the music – and the expressive power can be amazing.

I studied raqs sharqi and the music of the Middle East for about two years, until I became ill.  By that time, my teacher was effectively unable to teach me more: she always had beginners coming in, and no ‘intermediate’ class.  Now, by luck rather than judgement, I have moved to a village with a bellydance class within walking distance of my house.  And a teacher – a good one – that does ‘intermediate’ lessons.  And is concentrating on technique this term.

I feel incredibly lucky.

the project that ate Cambridge

I’ve been knitting Lily from Debbie Bliss’s book 7, and it has been going on… and on… and on!  I think I started this one in November, and I’m still not done.

For example, would you believe that it takes a week of evenings to seam a simple cardigan with set in sleeves?  It’s not even as if I made a pile of mistakes and had to
back-track; it’s just taken aaages.  I guess that if you have more row ends per inch, you have more row ends to seam together.

I just barely managed to finish seaming it yesterday, and it seems to fit (though J thinks it looks ‘too small’ – thanks, hon.)

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Now, I’ve started on the edging, and after about 5 hours, have managed one cuff (sneak peak photo here):

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I’m hoping against hope that I might finish this in time to wear it to our Stitch and Bitch meet on Friday – but I’m not taking any bets.