Saturday, September 5, 2015

So what was the rest of the summer like?

I have to go back to July -- to the time between our trip to the South (Avignon, Six-Fours) and mid-August when we went to Najac with friends. On arriving home from the trip south, I found the yarn I'd ordered waiting for me, so I started knitting a sweater that I've since finished (Aug. 4). The picture does not do it justice; it's not gray and white, it's a light lavender color and white. I should have probably used a darker contrast color. This will look nice, though, with gray slacks, I think. It'll be very warm because the jacquard, double-strand knitting makes it thicker.
Working on the small needles made me think that it might be a good idea to get out the knitting machine that had been sitting on a shelf in the basement for about 30 years. I bought the machine before Claire was born and used it a lot, but I think that I never unpacked it when we moved to this house! A friend from the library was interested in buying a machine and I thought I'd like to see if I could still use mine (would my shoulder not complain). If not, I'd sell it.
The first step was finding lots of help on YouTube. These machines are no longer made. I knew I'd have to get it back into working order and was curious about how to do that. It needed more than just oil. I found several excellent videos from The Answer Lady. It's her husband who usually does the machine repair. I took pictures of the two chariots at every step of taking them apart so I'd remember the order to put them back together. In Europe, it's impossible to find the oil he used for the oil bath, and after much soul-searching and a visit to the place across the boulevard from our street to see what he could suggest, Paul convinced me to go with plain, simple diesel fuel. He even hiked to the gas station to get a couple of liters for me. Diesel fuel stinks, so I did the oil bath (soaking the chariots in a basin of oil) outside. Surprisingly, there was little lint and very little trapped fibers in the cams. Apparently, I'd been taking good care all those years ago. I had to let the chariots drain out the oil before putting everything back together. I had time to wash all the plastic parts. Aside from age discoloration, it all looks new. I found a British company that sells all sorts of spare parts for these machines. I needed a couple of end pieces for the old plastic that had deteriorated and sponge replacement for the bars that hold the needles in place: the metropolitan machine knitting company
Before I found the zipper
Before we left on the trip to Najac, I managed to knit the back, two sleeves and one half of the front of a sweater for Aurelia. After the reunion, I managed to do the other front and put it all together. Then I had to go into Paris for the zipper. I did finish for her birthday, but since I'm here and she's there, that only meant I was able to get to the post office to send it off on her birthday, not that she received it on the day!
We went to England at the end of July. I had my knitting (the sweater at the top) with me. Both Aurelia and Charlotte wanted to try their hand at knitting, so I figured out my mistakes from the first time I had tried to teach Charlotte and this time it went like a charm. Aurelia went with me to choose the yarn -- not to slippery -- and medium gauge needles -- not too long. She learned the knit stitch, but didn't want to go to purl. When Charlotte arrived, she shared Aurelia's yarn and had her own small needles. I put a mirror on my lap so that she could look into the mirror and see what my hands were doing in reverse. This was a perfect solution for her left-handedness. Even Claire joined us. It rained a lot during that week, so knitting was a fine activity.
On the Saturday, it didn't rain and we all went to Warwick Castle. It's a fine visit -- somewhat between a cultural, history lesson and an amusement park. The girls tried out archery; we saw an archery show (but no one really understood what the guy was saying; we were too far from the amplifiers). We had a picnic lunch, walked around, visited the towers, saw the birds of  prey show, visited the birds of prey and the peacock garden. Constance liked everything she saw and I'm sure we'll return when both she and Aurelia are older and can appreciate the history. Charlotte is already old enough; she immediately identified Henry VIII and named all his wives! The main hall was all decked out for a wedding reception in the evening. In each room, there were riddles and things to keep the young kids interested. There were also many refreshment stands and game areas on the grounds, as well as souvenir shops -- a bit too commercial for my taste, but these places have to make some money for the upkeep.
On a not-too-rainy morning, we went to a petting farm. The girls rode ponies. Constance pointed out the animals but never wanted to get close enough to touch. On the way home, Charlotte and Aurelia were treated to archery sets, so the visit to the castle may have set off a sport interest.
Now, it's September and the weather is already turning. It's really chilly in the morning. I hope it'll warm up this afternoon, but I doubt it will. Sacha has started ecole maternelle (pre-kindergarden, for US friends); Aurelia is in year 2 (UK system). As she just turned 6, she'd be starting 1st grade in the US or CP in France. In the UK system, she's already reading and writing and doing simple math.

No comments: