Three things

1) At the end of the last post I said I would upload a proper post-blocking shot of my shawl. Due to really bad lighting conditions, the last few days of the Fringe and a lovely post-Fringe cold, I completely forgot. So here’s the finished shawl.

And here’s a shot of what it will look like when I wear it.

Or what it would look like if I were a hanger.

2) A while back, I posted about putting a lovely alpaca shawl in the washing machine. I never got around to taking a nice photo of the final result. So in the interests of completeness, here it is. The photo doesn’t do justice to how snuggley and warm it now is.

3) Last, but by no means least, I got a lovely birthday present in the post from my friend Evin. She made me a lovely needle case a few years ago for Christmas, which holds most of my interchangeables. Now to join that she has given me a lovely Lantern Moon fan case  which has become a beautiful home for my square needle interchangables. I have to admit, there were gasps of amazement when I opened that package!


A Nice Hard Block

It’s been a good long while since I’ve had a good, proper block. Sure, I’ve blocked things, but most of those blocks have been pretty gentle, more about settling stitches and shape than bringing out the openwork of lace. My last big lace project was my pure silk shawl, which received a slightly gentle block to avoid damaging the wet silk.

When I really block, I block hard. There’s no mercy for the wool as it’s stretched to its limit. I know I’ve been blocking properly when the blocking mats curl as it dries and the wool shrinks back.

Today I finally have something to really block, my Shoulder Shawl from Victorian Lace Today. The yarn is Hedgehog Fibres BFL lace in Gem, so it should be sturdy enough for a nice big stretch. Now the fun starts!

1) Finish the shawl and weave in the ends, but don’t snip them yet!

2) Take before photos, because everybody loves before photos. Don’t forget the before measurements, because everything is more fun with numbers.

3) Get a basin and grab whatever is nearest in the shower. Sometimes I use shower gel, sometimes I use conditioner, I have no method to this step, except what I have to hand, and what smells nice. Today I’m going coconutty with conditioner.

4) Soak the shawl in water (I usually use cold) and soap/shampoo/conditioner until the whole thing is sopping wet. This may take some time.

5) Check ravelry, do laundry, tidy up, knit, or otherwise occupy yourself while the water does its magic.

6) No, really, there’s a fair amount of waiting involved here.

7) Once the shawl is fully soaked through, empty out the water and give it a couple of rinses. Then roll it up in a towel and squeeze out the excess water.

8) Pin out. The great thing about triangles is being able to use blocking wires rather than pinning out every point individually.

9) More waiting.

This is the part I’m worst at. I usually wait until my more patient husband gives the all clear before I unpin it because I’m very good at convincing myself that it’s dry when it’s not quite there yet.

So sometime tomorrow evening I should be ready to unpin. I’ll add a quick update with the finished photos then.


PhD Presents

When each of my colleagues finished their PhD I knit them something to commemorate and celebrate the occasion, something to remember me by. For Richard it was a scarf to keep him warm in windy Chicago. For Cormac a cowl to ease the bitter chill of northern Russia and Mongolia. For John some bright coloured socks, designed after the famous mathematician Cauchy, for the chills of… Italy? For Danny it was a hat for cycling to and from work. Alison, queen of funky socks, got some bright socks with a longitudinal stripe construction. The tradition continues with a few projects in the works.

Three weeks ago I successfully defended my PhD thesis at my viva and passed, with some minor corrections. It was a really long day. Stew came over from Edinburgh especially and Greg baked his delicious cookies and was amazingly supportive (as usual!). It was a busy time of the summer and few of my friends or colleagues could make it along to the celebrations afterwards. But Danny and Richard were there and gave me the most thoughtful wonderful present! A frame with 5 knitted squares, one from each of those mentioned above. It was particularly sweet as I taught many of them to knit :) It really lifted me when I was starting to flag after a very trying day and made me so happy! I didn’t even notice that one of the squares was actually a printed picture, as John’s square hadn’t arrived in the post yet.

Last week we were all united again and had a lovely dinner out and I was re-united with my (now-complete) present. I spent the evening yet again beaming from ear to ear and clutching my much-prized frame. I don’t think I can fully say how touched I am by such a thoughtful present or thank my friends enough.


A not-quite seamless transition

August has been an odd month so far. My work contract finished on the 31st July, so I’m technically unemployed now. I say technically as if there’s some ambiguity or nuance there, but really, I’m not going into work anymore, and they, in turn, are no longer paying me. It’s actually quite simple.

Luckily I have another contract due to start in a couple of months. A couple of months with no work, no research visits, lots of sitting down on the sofa playing video games.

Yeah, right!

August in Edinburgh means festival time. Usually I avoid the city centre this time of year because, well, people. This year, however, I’m both crew and performer for a stand-up comedy show called Bright Club. Bright Club has professional researchers doing amateur stand-up about their research.

No, really.


I am making a bit of knitted progress though. I’m doing the lovely knit on border for my Syrian shawl, which is good tv knitting.

I also got these super cute owl stitch markers made by a work colleague of my hubby! Sleepy owls are sleepy!

This Friday I will finally get a full day off so plenty of knitting and video games, before I jet off to Ireland next week for a family birthday and This is Knit’s 2013 Yarn Tasting!

I will eventually get the hang of this unemployment thing.