Sunday, November 26, 2006

Pom Tiddly Pom-Pom

Making pom-poms should be simplicity itself. I'm sure I was taught to make a pom-pom in primary school and while I haven't exactly made a career of pom-pom making, I'm pretty sure I have made my fair share of pom-poms over the years.

Imagine my surprise, therefore, when the making of the first pom-pom for the "Frill Scarf" went completely pear-shaped. In fact, the thing wasn't shaped like a pear - it just fell to bits completely. There is no photograph. It went in the bin; in the big bin; the outside bin; long before the camera could be deployed. There were short strands of yarn everywhere. It was a right mess. It also used up plenty of yarn and necessitated a trip to the LYS to buy another ball of Impression. I was a very, very good girl and contented myself with that one ball of yarn, although I did collect a 2mm addi circular (for the WRS) that has been on order for ages and a 4.5mm addi circ for use with the black Frost and Ice (hoping to make the thing go faster, but see below).

I got to thinking about the "traditional" way of making a pom-pom - you know, with the double circles of cardboard with the centres cut out and you wind yarn round for ever and end up having to use a needle to poke the yarn through the hole in the centre that becomes smaller and smaller as you go on. That method seems to me to be flawed in all sorts of ways. One way is that when you cut around the circumference of the circle and ease the two cardboard circles apart,ready to tie a strand of yarn round the middle of the pom-pom to hold the whole thing together, it is all too easy for the card to slip right off the cut ends of the yarn (particularly when you have a small diameter, as in this case) and then you end up with a pile of short strands that really, really want to be a pom-pom but can't quite hold it together.

So, it seems to me that you need to have the "tying yarn" round the yarn-to-be-cut, before you cut the yarn. And I don't see why you have to wind the yarn round the circle and cope with that infuriating hole in the middle.

This is what I did.

Cut a piece of card about 6in/15cm long and as deep as the desired diameter of your pom-pom (5cm in this case):

Fold the card in half (short side to short side) and poke a hole through both layers on the mid-line and near the fold. Cut through both layers along the mid-line up to the hole (and no further, do not cut the whole lot in half).

Thread the yarn you are going to use to tie the middle of the pom-pom so that it rests in the hole:

Wrap the yarn round the card:

Don't wrap too tightly. If you are hoping to make another pom-pom the same size then it might be a good idea to count how many wraps you do, otherwise your pom-poms might look un-even. (Ask me how I know this.)

Bring the two ends of the "tying yarn" together at the right of the card and shuffle (technical term) them down the slit in the card and tie - just once, you can tie it tighter later.

Poke your scissor blade down between the two layers of card at the top and cut the yarn:

Cut again at the bottom. Tighten the "tying yarn" if necessary. Ploof up (technical term) the pom-pom. Trim if necessary. Stand back and admire your creation:

Not a bad pom-pom and a heck of a lot better than the first miserable attempt.

I've just spent quite a large chunk of time putting right a mistake in the black Frost and Ice which came about due to overambition - "I can knit black mohair when I've just come back from work at mid-night and had several glasses of wine."

Guess what, I can't.

All done, now though. Not perfect, but it passes the running horse test.

Friday, November 24, 2006

I hardly dare say it

but the blue wraps are done. I have clawed my way, by sheer force of will, out of the black hole and back into the land of the living. There are no pictures of this feat - I have flung the items far, far from my body and hope never to see them again. In fact, I shall have to see them again because I need to darn in the ends, wash and possibly block them. Consultation with the bride (or her mother) will be needed. Many, many thanks for all your words of encouragement - I couldn't have done it without you.

If you think knitting a shawl every two weeks for twelve weeks is bad, spare a thought for Stephanie, who is busy knitting a sock a day - for quite how long I'm not sure as my flittering about in cyberspace has been severely curtailed by warping of the space/time continuum and my being sucked into a black hole.

I feel like a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis. Slowly unfurling my wings, I look about me tentatively. Suddenly, I soar into the air, which is code-speak for "I'm at last knitting something other than blue fluff and isn't it flying off the needles?"

I'm over halfway through the fluffy blue scarf for #1 daughter's friend:

I'm using the Zig-Pattern (click on "Scarves" and it's P57, if you want a closer look) from Artyarns, purely to stop myself running screaming from the room, as I surely would if I had to do the whole thing in back and forth garter stitch. It is blue, after all.

I've used up one whole ball of Kidsilk Night (with the sparkles) on the black Frost and Ice shawl:

Seen here, in a not very good picture, languishing on a tree in the garden.

The more I take photographs, the more admiration I have for professional photographers, and the more I understand their need for great big lights on tripods, for white umbrellas, for white tents (large and small). The way they always seem to have their bodies slung with spare cameras and lenses like Mexican bandits (no offence to any Mexicans reading - don't start) always used to puzzle me. No longer. I have every respect for anyone who can take a photograph of a black sparkly part-shawl, in an overgrown garden, in a high wind, on a dull day in Warwickshire. The photograph above bears witness to the fact that they are the professionals, not I.

Anyway, the black Frost and Ice. The knitting is simplicity itself; the yarn is still as scratchy (technical term). I'm hoping it will soften in the washing/blocking process. We shall see.

I'm also making a scarf from a pattern in a Louisa Harding book ("The Accessories Collection") using two balls of her "Impression" yarn and one of her "Kimono Ribbon":

Mine is green, however and I don't suppose I shall look like her when I'm wearing it, but miracles are not to be expected.

There's no picture of it at the moment, since I am lacking the white umbrella, the white tent and the lights on tripods.

See the little pom-poms at the bottom? I'm going to make those before I start with the second ball of Impression, so I can continue knitting until I run out of yarn. To that end, I have borrowed a pair of compasses from #1 son, rescued an empty cereal packet and got my pencil and scissors ready. #1 daughter asked what I was doing and when I replied, "Getting ready to make pom-poms." she looked puzzled and asked, "Is it something to eat?" Oh dear.

Beelzebub? Beelzebub has taken up residence on the bread maker:

and seemed quite content until the other evening when I heard strange noises from the kitchen. On investigation, I spotted a pair of bright eyes lurking in the dark recess beside the Rayburn and unearthed another cat.

#1 daughter thought it might be Beelzebub's "pal". Pal my ar*e, as Jim Royle might well say, "Toy boy", I say.

Any advice as to how to stop my kitchen becoming the knocking shop for the local feline population will be gratefully received.

Monday, November 13, 2006


n. Courage in pain or adversity. [ME f. F, f .L fortitudo -dinis (fortis strong; see -TUDE)] O.E.D.

I feel I am the very embodiment of Fortitude. If you can believe it, I am still knitting the blue bridesmaid wraps. I am about half way finished with the very last one and it is requiring all my courage in pain or adversity not to fling it across the room. It will be finished and I can't say I'll be unhappy. One shawl to a deadline is one thing, but six? That would be six things.

I dare not start anything else for fear that I would never want to return to blue fluff. I have, however, bought more yarn (which, of course, I really, really needed.) Mostly to cheer myself up and act as a sort of carrot.

Some blue (ARRGH!) eyelash stuff.

#1 daughter was wearing a scarf I made for her. It was much admired by her friend and would it be possible for me to knit one for her? Yes, but not before the blue what-nots are finished. I'll probably use the zig-zag pattern I got from Artyarns - it stops me dying of boredom and solves the problem of the variegated yarn getting itself into unattractive stripes and blobs (technical term, again) of colour.

I also got this Louisa Harding yarn to make a scarf for me.

Just a simple garter stitch with pointy (technical term) ends, finished with a frilly edging in Kimono Ribbon and a few pom-poms at the ends.

I've managed todo a few other things, too. #1 daughter had a birthday, cake was made, pizza was made, dips and snacks and asparagus rolls were made. All was eaten.

I made the Christmas Cake - the Traditional Boiled Cake from the ever-reliable Prue Leith. Full of dried fruit - currants, raisins, sultanas but also dried pear, peach, apricot, cherries. I am feeding it brandy every few days and hoping it isn't too alcoholic for the rest of the family.

I had a "turn" the other day - very bad asthma attack. #1 daughter did sterling work - calling up the doctor, explaining the problem, listening carefully. The upshot was that an ambulance was sent for. I feared I would be carted off to hospital but the paramedics treated me in the comfort of my living room and I never had to leave the house. Top marks to them.

Back to the blue nightmare. Is there no end to it??