It’s a girl!

I found out today one of my close friends has had a baby girl, just a little before she was due to. I’m hugely thrilled to hear of a girl, because it seems like everyone is popping out the other kind. I dearly want to make something for the baby, but the issue is that it is an Indian baby and will live mostly in hot climates (in addition to having been born in summer). What could I make for her? Suggestions please.

Bamboo

Bamboo purse handles

I went looking for an embroidery frame at a craft shop and I struck it lucky, finding these bamboo bag handles. The upper ones were Rs 50 a pair (about a $1.10) and the lower ones were Rs 40 a pair (about $.90). Now all I have to do is make some bags. But you know, I prefer my bags to be shoulder ones, so that my hands are free. Time was, all my trousers had pockets so my wallet could be in them and my keys, and I could swing my arms freely around. Alas, now all my trousers are pocketless and I am laden with a handbag with my cell phone, keys, wallet, pens and things. Sigh.

Now I want you to cast your mind back to when you were younger, the world was friendlier and everyone loved everyone else. Remember the last time I showed you some respectable crochet? It could be this or this, neither of which were truly respectable, actually. Anyhow, I am now showing you some work in progress:
Baby blanket

This is a baby blanket using the Offset Shells stitch pattern from one of my Harmony Guides. I seem to remember Cordelia told me the yarn is Lionbrand Woolease (she sent it to me via my uncle in Houston whom my sister visited on her way back from Hawaii). The skeins are label-less, so I haven’t a clue what colour it is supposed to be. It’s about 40 inches wide and I’m close to the end of the second skein, with one more left to go. I shall make this as big as it gets and then pop it off in the mail to one of two friends with small children. There’s another one being made, also from a Harmony Guides stitch pattern and it’s a bit er, unorthodox, shall we say? I haven’t got a picture of it yet, but I shall soon.

I am happy to report I successfully used the Russian join on this one which leaves me with two less ends to weave. I’m not quite sure how exactly to manipulate the yarns when you’re trying to join two different coloured ones, though, so as to get the join exactly at the stitch you want it.

In happy book news, a branch of Crossword has opened  in this town and it’s walking distance from my house. I visited it the first day and bought Pico Iyer‘s Falling off the Map. I’ve never read him before.

But currently I am reading Alan Clark‘s (colourful chap) Diaries and it’s an interesting experience. I bought it at a discarded books sale at the British Council Library in Hyderabad, along with a bunch of Reginald Hills that I haven’t blogged about. My sister has a deep fascination with Maggie Thatcher and this book has several insights. And I’m learning things I never thought could be true outside books about how British politics work. Also Clark met George Courtauld (Travels of a Fat Bulldog) at an airport in Latin America. Now I want to go back and see if Courtauld refers to the meeting. Except I don’t know where to look for the book. I think my sister had borrowed it from the BCL on one of my Hyd trips. Sometimes it all sounds like Alice in Wonderland. Things like the Queen’s Messengers, and tea parties are actually true!

One of my favourite pieces of dialogue in Alice:

“Whose job is it to answer the door?” (Alice)

“Why, what questions has it been asking?” (the footman, I think).

Oh, and I bought a so-called bamboo cotton sari the other day at a craft fair from a persuasive Jaipuri salesman. I wonder how authentic it is. It qualifies as a party sari (for naval parties where Kanchi and Venkatagiri would be too aunty-like). Don’t know how long it will last. All glamour and glitter.

Yarn/thread in Pune?

This is for any of my readers with experience of buying thread in Pune. One of my online crochet friends wants to know the prices of the following:

1)the cost of a 100gm ball of thread from RED HEART,  (size 20)

2) the cost of the Knitting cotton by ROSE (size 10 or 5-don’t know?)

3) the cost of ANCHOR 100gms (little thinner than the size 20)

She wants to know if she is paying a fair price where she buys them. “Jita” left a comment on my old Blogger blog telling me that Galaxy overcharges, but she didn’t leave me an email address or an alternative shop suggestion. So we’re looking for information. Anybody know where you get the best prices for thread in Pune? Please?

Calling all Indian knitters

I’ve been asked twice in the last two days about traditional knitting in India. As far as I know, we only have an oral tradition and no written-down patterns as such, but I’m hoping my friends here can tell me more. Did we have knitting before the British colonised us? Are there traditional patterns?
Someone says she saw knitted vests in Rajasthan. Does that sound familiar to anyone?
I am totally ashamed of not knowing more, but would love this opportunity to find out, if anyone knows.

Yay India!

The buzz in knitting circles in recent weeks has been about the new interchangeable needles introduced by Knitpicks. While I was trolling the Web for info on which brand to choose, all the fora (forums) were agog with these needles, metal rather than the resin of the Denise set that I finally decided to ask for (a friend has promised me she’s getting them for me). I found a review today and guess what! The metal parts are Made in India. That’s really good. Despite knowing they will never be sold here, I can still feel happy someone in India is making something for themselves. Really. More power to them.
Although these are cheaper than the Boye Needlemaster, I still find them expensive (you try multiplying something by 47 especially when it’s “just a hobby”). I didn’t want the Boye because I’m not particularly fond of their metal crochet hooks. I find them heavy, the colours garish and the finishing is a bit odd (they have ridges on the backs).

Pony hooks might be bland, but I like them. They have a smooth finish and they’re not nearly as heavy as the Boyes.

Now I just have to sit on my hands and wait till I get the Denises. I sincerely hope they’re worth the expense (they must be in $$, but Rs?)

Censorship

This is the first time I’m living with censorship (I was too young to appreciate it properly the earlier time) and I’m not liking it much. Technologically challenged people in the government have decided that all of the blogs at blogspot.com and typepad.com are to be blocked. I cannot also access any geocities.com site. Either that or the ISPs here do not have the wherewithal (brains) to ban subdomains rather than entire domains. Luddites. What next, the printing press? How about cellphones? The radio. No, that is controlled anyway. Bah.

On a happy note, I can use http://www.pkblogs.com to access any blogs on blogspot.com, but not the others. Also, I cannot comment on those blogs.

There isn’t a word to express how I feel. :x

Does anyone know how I can read typepad.com blogs? Google’s cache is usually a couple of days old. Webarchive.org isn’t current either.

Elucidation

Breathe in, breathe out. Yes. Relax.

Ok. Comments on my previous post depressed me. There, I’ve said it. Now I’m recovering. I shall address your concerns point-wise. :)

1. First, desi, I can occasionally be sarcastic, too, you know (ooo, imagine that!). A big craft store is as much progress for India, as Macdonalds, Imax, Archies, Starbucks, Domino’s, Valentine’s Day….and the rest of it. If we can be invaded by Hollywood (dubbed into Telugu, no less) and Marks & Spencer selling underwear starting at Rs 450, why can’t we share some of the crafty goodness as well?

2. I can produce busloads of aunts (and grandmothers) with the creativity to produce miracles without patterns and directions as well. Sadly (for me) I totally missed the bus when the creativity gene was being handed out and I’m afraid I couldn’t create to save my life. I can only follow directions (I’m *very* good at that), so patterns are a godsend for me.

3. I rely heavily on our local craft stores, as well, and sometimes wish I did enough crafts to take full advantage of all they have available. See #2 above to know why I don’t. Deneen, of course women in India do crafts. Our smallest towns will often have mom-and-pop stores (bangle stores, they are called) which sell everything to tickle your fancy, from said bangles and cosmetics, to thread for sewing and crochet, crochet hooks, knitting needles, painting kits and satin ribbon, crepe paper and bindis and rubber bands and lining cloth…you get the idea, all in one small 10″ by 8″ space or less. These are our staple.

4. I am weird (no, really!) and I like browsing in stores, without having to consult salespersons until forced to. No hovering over me, please. Given #2 above, I go into crafty stores without any clear idea of what it is exactly I want and feel shy of asking for a nebulous “thing” (what have you got to tickle my senses today?). So a store that allows me to browse through crafty stuff sounds wonderful. (The same thing applies to me and books, by the way).

4. I agree wool isn’t required in most of the country, but the same thing could be said of concrete building materials, for example, which are totally unsuitable for our climate but have almost completely replaced our traditional construction material, or the synthetic materials that make up so many of our “readymade” (and therefore affordable) clothes. Why couldn’t we have natural yarns available, like cotton?

5. It’s a bit like you aren’t happy with the education system in India and you go abroad to study and work (there’s no future in India, sweetheart/the US has *dignity of labour*, and that’s why I can work in Macdonalds to support myself there, but would die before doing anything similar at home, dahling). I guess it’s a side effect of the global spread of information and seeing what’s available has made me greedy(ier).

6. This isn’t to offend anyone, just my views. Debate is welcome. The longer the comments, the happier I’ll be, since it means someone is reading me and thinking about what I say.

Phew, it’s hot on this here soapbox ;)

Footnote 1. I was depressed because I was reminded of my lack of creativity in comparison with what (busloads of) Indian women generally have.

Footnote 2. Creativity to me means the ability to conceive and execute something wholly out from one’s mind, not the ability to follow directions blindly (or otherwise). Ergo, I am not creative (and the polls are closed on that one, lovey, move on).

Let me now catch my breath and hear what you’ve got to say.

Whatever next?!

India apparently has a hobby and craft store! It's in Mumbai, called Hobby Ideas and is a venture of Pidilite Industries. I found this out by accident today when I spied a tube of fabric glue in a shop while looking for buttons. Now two of my bags which were languishing while I dithered over hand sewing are sporting linings (drying as we speak). Look ma, no needle and thread!

The tailor refused to sew them in and I was much distressed and girdling my loins to start the task, when I went in to buy buttons and just before I handed in my cash, I spotted the tube of glue. Whoda thunk it? So obviously I grabbed it and tossed over the extra Rs 15 (small price to pay for the pleasure of no-sew – no, not Mary-Sue). Came home and sat down with scissors, bags, cloth, iron and got down to work). Remind me not to keep more than two bags in line for lining. In other words, line as you go, sweetums, or liningless forever you shall remain.

Anyway, as I was saying, with my google fixation, once the gluing was finished, I tripped over to the net and looked up the manufacturer (whose products I use regularly, but hadn't thought to google before). And lo and behold, I find the said store has been in existence since last year. When can I go to Bombay, please?

The craft store has all sorts of things for candle making, glass etching, clay moulding (even has Fimo!) and a spool knitting kit. But that last product is as far as it goes, nothing else remotely related to crochet or knitting was advertised (except this book). Ah well, it's something to even have a craft store in the country. We might still progress.