Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Stay in motion, keep an open mind

This is why it's a good idea to not only make a tension square or swatch, but to wash and dry it  and measure it again, to see what the fabric will do after washing.


That's the same green top sitting underneath.

The significant widthways growth is fine with me, since I planned for it and the fit is good. I learned some lessons with this yarn last time, when I made a different cowl-neck top with it: 1. Slinky yarn with no memory looks and feels better with positive ease (so it can drape) rather than stretched tight. 2. Stocking stitch fabric made from this stuff grows quite a bit in width.

Funnily enough, because of the lack of ease in that earlier Coachella top, I didn't learn a third lesson that would have been handy - given a chance, the fabric does grow longer too. I actually knit this a bit too long because I thought from that past experience that it would lose a little in length after washing. That may be true in a relatively small swatch/tension square (and here is where swatching can really let you down), and it happened with the other top that was a bit too tight, so in stretching around me it tended to pull up. This time I made sure there was a decent amount of drape, it sagged way down.

It's wearable; I wore it all day on Sunday. But it is really too long (I tucked the ribbing under because it looked bad stretched over my jeans and hips), and the sleeves/armholes are too long as well, they look a bit funny proportionally. I've decided it's worth fixing. I'll have to rip it back from the top to at least to the armholes, where it divides for back and front. Because I substituted a very different yarn to the one it was written for, I adjusted the row gauge, knitting 6 rows for every 4. I think I will be able to abandon this adjustment and just knit to pattern, and the length of the sleeves should turn out right. This will  take care of the too-long body as well. The cowl shaping will happen over a shorter space, but I don't think that will be a problem.

I'm happy with the other modifications I made, one of which was essentially to knit the top part a size smaller than the bottom. This was very simple - the pattern has you increase from the waist upwards, to make a nice loose cowl top. I was afraid this would make the cowl too big for me. I love this kind of neckline, but many cowl/drape neck tops do droop way too low on me, and I really didn't want to wear a camisole underneath - 4 ply bamboo already makes a heavy summer top. I do have a B-string which is fantastic for certain necklines. But even that won't help with something really drapey - that's if I don't want to be restricted to standing up straight and never bending forward at all. I also didn't want to end up with an off-the-shoulder look. I worked out that the same amount of stitches would be about right for my hips and for my bust (this would still leave more ease at the bust than at the hips), so although it seemed weird, I left out all that increasing and just knit a straight tube until I got to the cowl shaping.

Another thing I changed was to just cast on a ribbed band, rather than making the garter stitch tie belt, which looks nice in the pattern pictures but which I was pretty sure would be sad and droopy and annoying in the bamboo. I love the way ribbing looks in this yarn.

The pattern is the Chiton Pullover, and the yarn is Cleckheaton Bamboo. The reknitting will happen... at some point.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013


I love music, all the time, but the absolute best thing is getting right into the middle of a good  obsession - when some new (or old) album doesn't emerge from the CD player for weeks, maybe  inspiring a good rummage through the artist's back catalogue and even the broader scene they came out of. I can't really choose to make it happen but I've triggered it by going to festivals (most especially the first time at Womad) going to gigs, talking about and listening to music with knowledgeable friends, and at least once by impulsively picking up a fascinating book on a trip.

I never really notice when the ride starts to slow down, but later at just at some point I find myself thinking, I wonder when (and what) the next ride will be? Sometimes it's a bit of a wait.

During Bruce Springsteen's recent Australian tour with the magnificent E Street Band, we planned far in advance to go to two different shows, one in Sydney and one at Hanging Rock. At first I thought this was excessive, but I'm glad I came around to the idea of two shows. I had quite different (both good!) experiences at each show, over a week apart, and the set list was varied a fair bit between all of the 3-hour-plus shows on the tour. There are always quite a few requests - there seems to be an established thing with fans bringing handmade cardboard signs and Bruce selecting some of these to play. Many of the signs are really clever and funny, and not limited to song requests. Not a few were pleas from many ladies (and some men) hoping for their chance to dance on stage during 'Dancing in the Dark'. I quite liked 'Please dance with me, my other boss just fired me.' One he picked was 'Young and slender I may not be, but please dance with me.' You'd think this would be a cheesy element,  likewise the set piece of inviting a child to come up and sing 'Waiting on a sunny day', but my inner cynic was pretty much banished, as the Boss seems to have a gift for connecting with a most parts of large audience in a really genuine way.

I tend to think, if I'm going to go to a massive stadium show (which I almost never do), I want to be RIGHT there, with the keen people, right at the front. And we did that in Sydney, we lined up and got in with the first 200 people to be right near the stage. During the waiting time we met some pretty hard core fans. I have to assure you that going to 2 out of 10 Australian shows does not make you a groupie. I'll let you make up your own mind about the guy who always needs to stand in a particular spot in the mosh pit, because he knows that Bruce will see him because he knows to look for him there...?

So yeah, at the moment I'm a bit obsessed with the Boss. No, not in that way - I actually chose not to put my hand up as he crowd surfed within reach and the crowd surged in (some of them conveniently using the moment to get closer to the front).  I just thought... no. I don't actually need to grasp for momentary physical contact with this rock idol, like he has magical powers or something. That's not how I get what I'm here for.

My obsession is not a big deal, just listening to all the CDs we have in the house (which is quite a few - my ipod was sadly lacking but I've fixed that now) and a bit of falling down the Youtube rabbit hole. And, since I'd been thinking about doing some duets follow-up posts to my duets list anyway, here it is, the Bruce edition. Not very balanced, but it's where my head is at right now. You don't have to go there with me if you don't want to.

First up: 'The River' with Sting. It is hard to imagine just how they could look more mismatched - check out Sting's long hair and gorgeous - but surely hot on stage - fleur de lis jumper. And a scarf, just in case that high neck was not enough (maybe it was itchy wool?). Yet they sound so very pretty together.

And if you like that - here is a longer video which includes them doing 'Every breath you take' (yes, the creepy stalker song) as well. One of the commenters summed it up perfectly: "That'll do 1980's. That'll do." Ha.

'Thunder Road' with Melissa Etheridge. She's right - it always does sound like the crowd is booing when they chant "Bruuuuuce. Bruuuuuce" Love how you can tell just how nervous and excited she is.

Here's 'Brilliant disguise' with his wife Patti Scialfa.

And finally, a song from the Hanging Rock show we were at, 'Tougher than the rest' with Jimmy Barnes. Of course it's not a great recording, but interestingly, you can hear a bit more of Jimmy than we could at the time, sitting a bit further back. They had him turned down too low.

A massive highlight of both the shows we saw was 'The Ghost of Tom Joad' which Bruce sang as a duet with Tom Morello, who filling in on the Australian leg for guitarist Steve Van Zandt. I really hope they put that on a live CD or DVD.