Friday, 30 September 2011

Harvest- Mange-tout

Went out to do some gardening today, and found a little harvest waiting for me!

72 grams of delicious, fresh, organic mange-tout. Now, based on information from, Tesco sell 150 gram of organic mange-tout for £1.60, working out as £10.67 a kilogram.

So by that basis my tiny haul is worth around 77p. But mine are grown in lovely wet England, using the ever present watering can in the clouds, instead of being grown in Egypt where water has to be pumped from deep beneath the ground, compromising water sources in the region.

Also some of mine had been nibbled:

But a little wash later, and they're tasty all the same. Peas are so easy to grow past germination. They just sprawl everywhere and come harvest time picking your crop turns into a little scavenger hunt where the grand prize is 77p worth of nibbled peas.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

New technique- Entrelac

This week I challenged myself to learn something new. Right now I'm working on a cabled baby jumper and it's hard going because there are 26 twists in the cable row. It's been killing my fingers, but I still wanted to knit.

I've been trying to cull my junk, and found a bag full of the odds and ends left over from a single sized crochet blanket I made a couple of years ago. I didn't want to just knit a straight blanket, and had seen entrelac in my Compendium of Knitting Techniques and wanted to give it a shot.

Turns out entrelac is really easy. It's just using increases, decreases, and picking up stitches to give the appearance of knitting sideways. There are tutorials online, but I can't recommend one because I worked from instructions from this book (which by the way, is a fairly wonderful knitting book overall). I'm using a 5mm circular needle and chunky acrylic.

At first it looks really weird and like you've gone horribly wrong and got twisted somewhere:

But after the first foundation lot of triangles, things start to look up:

And here's where I am at the moment:

I am very happy with how it's going and how fast it's growing. Honestly, I'm glad I learnt entrelac, the finish is just so intriguing- it's like an optical illusion of colour changing strips weaving in and out. It also feels lovely and plush, so I'm sure the end baby/pet blanket will be lovely and warm.

Long term challenge? Knit an entrelac bedspread from DK remnants. 

Friday, 9 September 2011

What's black and blue and goes clack clack ding?

I'll give you a clue. It's a toy I've wanted for a while. For a long while. We're talking since I saw the Barbie one in the Argos catalogue in 1995 (the Argos catalogue was in my formative and materialistic years one of my primary literary resources, the other being Girl Talk magazine).

It's been the best friend of writers for over 100 years. It's the save mechanism in my favourite survival horror franchise (Leon always carries a tin of ribbon with him). The protagonist in Moulin Rouge! pawns his to pay a debt to a hooker. It's used as a percussion instrument in a very special symphony.

Okay, I'll show you.

I also tried to type a duck. Use your imagination people.

It's a Silverette II typewriter and I can't find any information on it, but I think it's from the 70s or early 80s. The outside is in pretty good condition, although it's got a bit of a tension problem at the moment which means I can only type about 7cm worth of text before I have to go to the next line. Like this:

My mum's very useful friend phoned her dad and seems to have worked out what the problem is, we just have to open it up and hope a sharp metal spring doesn't fling itself across the room and lacerate someone's jugular. Fun times with mechanical things!

Typing on this is so different from typing on a computer, especially a laptop. I've always been a fan of noisy keyboards, you know, the ones that sound so crisp and crunchy when you clack away at them? Well typing on this is like that times a million. I never knew you had to move the keys so far to get a response. I know it sounds obvious, but it's the polar opposite of a touch screen and, to me, it feels amazing. Feeling that key push down and seeing the little letter hammer swing up and smack the paper is just so satisfying.

I love it, it feels so real.

Maybe it's my poor eyesight and fear of going blind. Maybe I'm overly in-tune with my sense of touch. Maybe it's my paranoia of living in a world where we have been enslaved by robots and live as inefficient batteries in a post apocalyptic world, tricked into thinking we live in New York, but I need things to feel real. I'm a tactile person. I'm the one at museums and exhibitions getting told off for groping everything. I'm the person who hates to buy anything without picking it up, turning it over and feeling every last edge and corner. I'm the one in the art shop trying out soft paintbrushes on my cheek.

I need that grounding sense of reality, and typing on something that smacks the paper so hard it embosses it is exactly what I need.

Plus now I can write passive aggressive notes and look professional doing it. Apart from the spelling. I'm also forced to remain calm as there's no damn exclamation mark on this thing (people in the 70s had very little to be excited about, naturally).

The best thing about being a grown-up is that you can finally indulge in your silly childhood wants. Eating icecream for dinner and dropping a paycheck on a little machine that goes clack clack ding.