Friday, 29 December 2006

Self-striping experiment

On Boxing Day I made a start on knitting up the Kool-Aid dyed self-striping sock yarn.

ROY sock 01

I'm using the Ridged Feather pattern from the Chevron section of Sensational Knitted Socks. I'm using a flap heel (Dutch) rather than the "Forethought" (variant on the afterthought) heel which the book suggests for the chevron patterns. I can't quite work out the point of an afterthought or forethought heel where you have to join yarns back in and fart about using provisional cast-ons in the middle of a sock. To me, one of the beauties of sock knitting (with either a short row or a flap heel) is the idea of the single piece of string creating a perfect three-dimensional object with no joins or stops and starts.

The best place to judge the success of the self-striping attributes is on the bottom of the sock.

ROY sock sole


It has worked quite well although the stripes are probably a little narrow. I now have a cunning plan of action for a simplified version of the self-striping Gryffindor socks that I was originally envisioning.

Monday, 25 December 2006

Merry Christmas

We're finally getting our first rains of December. Here's hoping that it is falling in the catchment areas where we really need it. Too add to the magic, it hailed a few minutes ago so here's my Summer White Christmas.
White Christmas in Summer

I hope you have a great day filled with food, family, friends - or whatever floats your boat.

Friday, 22 December 2006

Have a splendiferous silly season

It's the last day at work before Christmas and the super long weekend. For some reason people keep walking past the library and laughing.

I can't imagine why.





Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Stupendous Solstice and Bah Humbug to everyone.

Thursday, 21 December 2006

Normal linkages resumed

This new blogger isn't half bad. The new drag/drop template customisation tool makes it a lot easier to make changes to the side bar without having to delve into too much hard coding.

Christmas is fast approaching in case you've been living under a rock. I'm about half-way through the last stocking, so Christmas knitting is very comfortably on schedule. Today is stinking hot (36 deg C / 97 deg F) and tomorrow is forecast for more of the same with a late change. Then the long range forecast for the next 5 days or so (including Christmas Day) is for temperatures hovering about the 20 deg C mark (68 deg F - very comfy Christmas weather) hopefully with the odd bit of rainfall if we're really lucky. Melbourne is about to go on to Stage 3 water restrictions while a large part of the rest of the state is already on Stage 4.

I'm trying to keep my garden going with the water I can collect in a bucket whilst waiting for the shower temperature to regulate. My garden is only little so this covers most of it. I have to admit though that when I go past the posh tennis clubs closer in to the city and see them watering their lawn and en-tout-cas courts, I wonder why I bother being so frugal.

I didn't intend this to be a post about watering, but it's kind of ended up that way. Water, or rather the lack of water, is becoming more and more a topic of "water cooler" conversation here. Grey water recycling systems, rainwater tanks, water efficient appliances - all these things are growth industries and are attracting government rebates for consumers. Somehow the train of thought always leads to water.

Wednesday, 20 December 2006

Beta version of template

I'm in the midst of upgrading my template to the new beta blogger. I haven't got around to adding in some of my lists yet. This might take a while.

Friday, 15 December 2006

Shameless plug for a Yarn mag

Like most people at this time of year, things are getting a little bit busy on the social side of things. And, like many a craft blogger out there, I have created a few more deadlines and craziness for myself by deciding to make a few things for Christmas. I've never really got into the swing of "Christmas knitting" in the way that a lot of the northern hemisphere knit-bloggers do. I think that's most likely due to it being summer here. Even though there are plenty of summery type things that can be knit, it just doesn't seem quite so traditional or fitting. But this year I am knitting Christmas stockings to hang up over the gas heater "fireplace".

Last night was the Yarn Magazine Holiday knit-in. This was held at Mag Nation, a new magazine shop near my office so I had no excuse not to go. I actually went in last Sunday and knit in the front window of the shop for a couple of hours to help promote the knit-in and scored a bottle of wine as a thank-you from Barbara - the Yarn editor. The upstairs level at Mag Nation was totally taken over by knitters. (Too bad for any motoring or beading or travel enthusiasts. They had no hope of getting anywhere near their preferred reading). I worked on the latest Christmas stocking.

RoséChristmas stocking in progress

Of course the whole point of the exercise was also to launch the latest issue of Yarn which is now on sale. The good thing about buying it last night at the knit-in was the free gift we got to go with it.

Yarn as gelato

Two sets of Clover bamboo dpns and a yummy ball of merino 8ply which featured in a pattern from the current issue. To me it looks a bit like Filatura di Crosa Zara (which I think is heavenly). However Barbara, who did the test knitting for that project (a PDA cosy), told me that she thinks this is better as it doesn't tend to split so much and it is very hard wearing. I haven't decided what to do with the yarn yet. I don't really have a yen to make an iPod cosy or a mobile phone cover. Excess packaging in my book! But each to their own.

I've been telling myself that next year I will have a go at lace knitting (knitted lace? I believe there is a difference) but I had yet to decide on a project. I think the Gumleaf lace shawl pattern (also featured in Issue 5 of Yarn), perhaps with one of these yarns is a definite possibility.

Saturday, 9 December 2006

Kool-Aid dyeing on Saturday

When I took the merino skeins out their packet they still had that lovely smell of lanolin that you get with slightly less processed wool. Now, of course, they smell of tropical punch, mango and orange.

sock kit


I did my very rough guestimating calculations on how long a skein that would be required to make a sort of self-striping yarn. I set up my chairs and set about winding the first skein. I really need to get myself a swift.

sock yarn tangle


Since I found myself in such a tangle, the best, if not only way of fixing the mess was to wind the mess into a ball from the other end of the skein - very slowly and painstakingly. Transferring this ball into a skein around the chairs was then a breeze. I sat the ball in an empty jar and just walked the yarn round and round. I like to think that I can learn from my mistakes and experience. So for the second skein, I wound it into a ball first off and then repeated the jar exercise. It took half the time of the first. Woo hoo! I forgot to take photos of the yarn on the chairs. I tied the skeins up at my vaguely pre-determined intervals and started the dyeing process. I did the red (tropical punch) last night and then the orange and mango this morning. Next time I think I'd do them all at once which might stop the wool wicking the dye so much.

sock yarn soakingsock yarn dyeing


This Kool-Aid is a bit scary. If this stuff clings so well to protein, then what colour are your insides if you drink it?

sock yarn drying


After rinsing, the skeins went outside to dry and most likely absorb a smoky smell. There have been bush-fires raging in various large stretches across Victoria for the last few days. They're expected to worsen today with the extra hot and dry weather forecast. Here in the suburbs there is no danger from fire, but the sky overhead is covered in a pall of smoke and there is not a skerrick of blue sky to be spotted.

Looking North-east:
saturday sky 9dec2006a


Looking South:
saturday sky 9dec2006b


The yarn dried very quickly. My quilting frame proved a handy substitute for a niddy noddy and the ball winder was employed to produce the final yarn cakes.

sock yarn skeined shortsock yarn cakes
.

Friday, 8 December 2006

Red Sock Blue Sock Stripey Sock?

Why does that post title remind me of Dr Seuss? This post could also be titled SIP (sock-in-progress) Friday.

SIP number one is using up the leftover shepherd sock from the first useful stocking. Like most lace, it looks a bit crappy while it's in progress. I'm using a toe-up pattern from Sensational Knitted Socks which has a flap heel in reverse which I was keen to try. They also had an "easy toe" which theoretically speaking was simple enough, but practically challenging when trying to wrangle small numbers of stitches on dpns. I think for toe-up socks of the future, I will stick to the provisional cast-on half the total desired stitches then work a short-row toe - it feels quicker and less fiddly.
Red sock in progress


SIP number two is actually two and three together. I've already featured these as the inadvertently matching socks. I took this photo before I left home this morning so what the photo doesn't show is that the short-row heel (in green) has just commenced.
Blue socks in progress


PSNYIP (planned-sock-not-yet-in-progress) is the last thing to be reported today. A couple days ago I ordered a sock kit from Live2Knit. It was put in the post yesterday, so the chances are pretty good that Australia Post will have delivered this to my house today. I haven't dyed anything before but thought I would experiment with trying to make some self-striping yarn. My end goal is to make some Gryffindor socks, but for now, I'm planning to experiment with the techniques and colours. But tomorrow is going to be hot. I'm trying to decide whether dyeing stuff with pots of steaming liquid on the stove is a sensible thing to be doing on a day that is forecast to reach 37 degrees C. I can always put the air-con on but I feel a bit guilty contributing to the collective spike in the drain on the grid that happens when we get days over 35.

Monday, 4 December 2006

One Word MeMe

I try not to do many memes but I've seen this one on a few blogs in the past few days and the one word restriction makes for an interesting exercise. It almost works like a stream of consciousness.

One
Word
Meme
No
Exceptions
and
No
Cheating

1. Yourself: me
2. Your boyfriend/girlfriend (spouse): theoretical
3. Your hair: curly
4. Your mother: alive
5. Your Father: dead
6. Your Favorite Item: ipod
7. Your dream last night: unconscious
8. Your Favorite drink: tonic
9. Your Dream Car: prius
10. The room you are in: library
11. Your Ex: rodent
12. Your fear: bungee
13. What you want to be in 10 years? mindful
14. Who you hung out with last night? me
15. What You're Not: extroverted
16. Muffins: orange
17. One of Your Wish List Items: crocs
18. Time: essence
19. The Last Thing You Did: breathed
20. What You Are Wearing: black
21. Your Favorite Weather: temperate
22. Your Favorite Book: Persuasion
23. The Last Thing You Ate: shortbread
24. Your Life: muddled
25. Your Mood: despondent
26. Your best friend: moving
27. What are you thinking about right now? cricket
28. Your car: dented
29. What are you doing at the moment? introspecting
30. Your summer: pending
31. Your relationship status: looking
32. What is on your TV? dust
33. What is the weather like? warm
34. When is the last time you laughed? today
35. Who do you tag? nobody

Weekend in pictures

Saturday evening saw us gathering at S & T2's house for a "pre-Christmas" BBQ. As well as the standard lamb chops and tandoori chicken pieces, T2 also did these little bits of curried monkfish wrapped in bamboo leaves. They had quite a kick to them so we needed to keep our drinks handy.
BBQ for dinner


I had set up the Christmas tree on Friday evening but I decided that the tree needed a little mat to sit on. So on Saturday I made this.
small Christmas-ish quilt


Then I remembered that I also had a little nativity scene which Y gave me as a Christmas gift a couple of years ago. On Sunday I decided that it needed a little mat to serve as a base. So I made this.
small landscape-ish quilt


Putting it all together. (I couldn't take a good shot of the tree, the lighting was all wrong)
The nativity

I love this nativity scene. Y and I did a couple of needle-felting workshops a couple of years ago which was great fun. I haven't done much of it since, but she has done quite a lot and the detail and scale of this little collection of figures is wonderful.

Oh - and apparently Australia's favourite album is Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. A very interesting list. Interesting as much for what it doesn't include, as what it does. I have one album from the top 10 and 8 albums from the top 100.

Friday, 1 December 2006

inadvertently matching


inadvertently matching
Originally uploaded by Paisley Womble.
Working on these toe-up socks on the train this morning, I noticed that I had inadvertently co-ordinated the colours to match my handbag and the Connex upholstery.

Socks specs for the curious are as follows:

Pattern - plain vanilla toe-up socks using Wendy's instructions (google it and you will find) (including short-row toe with provisional cast-on and - probably - a short row heel). Added spice of doing both at once.

Needles - 2 X 2.5mm 12" addi turbo circs

Yarn - leftovers - Green is 2 strands of Marta's 2 ply Merino Magic and the blue is ONline Supersocke cotton/wool/stretch blend - recently featured in my vaguely remarkable socks.

It's the first official day of summer here, as well as the first of December. So what did I dream about in the wee hours of this morning? Someone playing April Fools jokes of course! I think there was someone dressed up for an Easter parade as well. What is my sub-conscious trying to tell me?

Tuesday, 28 November 2006

an angel(?) in red shoes

I finished the vaguely remarkable socks last night and I'm wearing them today. They are proving to be more comfortable than I had expected given the non-fluffiness of the yarn. Perhaps it's a summer thing.

Vaguely-remarkable socks

The design uses the Chevron pattern from Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted Socks, the Dutch / Horseshoe flap heel from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks, and a modified pointy toe (dec 6 per round - using p2 tog - every few rounds until 12 stitches left, then gather rem sts). I've decided that the Dutch heel is my favourite heel style trialled so far. I like the strong boxy shape that it forms and it sits nicely with the slipped heel stitch pattern (which I like to continue on the heel turn, not just the flap).

I found this group on Flickr called Handknit Socks + Shoes = Happiness Forever. I know it sounds a little bit fetishist (*) but nevertheless I joined up and this is my first contribution.

keep your eye on the red and the blue

When I bought these shoes I didn't really think about how bright they are. Sometimes I think they're just that little bit too Ronald McDonald-ish. But they get quite a lot of comments. I was in the lift with one of the senior partners the other day and he commented that "those are very bright shoes". I replied that yes they were very bright and that they were very comfy. Then I think he got worried that he'd said the wrong thing and he added "not that there's anything wrong with that". Then he started reminiscing about a song that Elvis Costello sang "before you were born" about an angel in red shoes. I'm older than I look but I'd never heard of it so I did what all good librarians do. I looked it up. The song is actually called (The angels wanna wear my) red shoes and it's from his debut album My Aim is True - released in 1977 - so I was born - I was two years old.

(*) Speaking of fetishists, I also found this Flickr group for Obsessive Sheep Photographers. There are some fantastic photos there. Sheep can be very photogenic with the right lighting.

Monday, 27 November 2006

Sunday

Sunday was taken up with cricket-watching and Christmas-crafting (the alliteration is fortuitous rather than intentional). I spent most of the afternoon waiting for Australia to break the partnership between Collingwood and Pietersen and cutting out little 8-shaped pieces of fabric. I was inspired to make some ornaments for the tree (which will go up this coming weekend - it's four weeks today until Christmas!) by this post from Craftapalooza. But I decided I couldn't be bothered with making little yoyo/suffolk puffs so I drew some inspiration from another of her projects from earlier in the year (scroll down to the last necklace). This is the result.


Christmas ornaments

The lighting isn't great in the photo - it was late afternoon and I was trying to avoid using the flash. I interspersed the little fabric bundles with beads that I had left-over from other projects which helped pad out the ornaments so I didn't have to cut out quite so many little shapes to get a decent length. I'm pretty happy with the way they've turned out. Roll on December!

Saturday

Saturday was our state election. I voted in the morning. Then I handed out how-to-vote cards for a couple of hours (for the Greens) which was an interesting experience. My shift was early to mid-afternoon. It was a pretty quiet period (people mostly go in the morning (getting it over and done with) or late afternoon (leaving it till the last minute). The ALP guy there was pretty chatty so there was quite a bit of yakking going on. There was a dippy middle aged lady from Family First who kept on trying to engage the three Liberals in conversation by asking them questions about John Howard's intentions on future policy in Iraq (she was making the strange assumption that Liberal party members would have inside knowledge of what Howard's plans are on various policy issues...). Then the Liberal candidate's daughter (aged about 19 or 20?) turned up with a friend. They were both dressed in tight designer-looking jeans and t-shirts with photos of the candidate plastered across them. The daughter's t-shirt was emblazoned with "Vote for my dad" across the bust line and I couldn't help but see them as a pair of spoilt princesses.
The government has been returned with what looks to be a slightly reduced majority. If Bracksy serves out this full term then he'll be entitled to be immortalised in a pretty much life-sized bronze statue in Treasury Place alongside the other 4 premiers who were in office for over 3000 days (Bolte, Dunstan, Hamer & Cain).

Saturday evening was dinner (curried tofu and fishball noodle soup - yum!) at S and T2's. I got S to try on the first useful stocking to double check the fit before I finish off the foot.

useful stocking fitting

I think it's a teensy bit too short in the above the knee stakes, but S is happy with it so I'm very thankful that I don't have to frog back at all on this. It's not a difficult knit so it wouldn't be the end of the world, but it would be a tremendous bore, especially when I'm itching to knit new things and try out more interesting sock patterns.

Thursday, 23 November 2006

Celebrations

Happy Thanksgiving to any American readers (what's that all about? I have some vague idea of starving pilgrims being invited to share in a feast with the Native Americans). Here in Australia we're celebrating the arrival of a "scorching summer of cricket" with the first test against England starting today. The cafe here at work has a big plasma screen TV tuned in to the match so we're finding even more excuses to just "pop down and grab a cuppa".
I've finished the first vaguely-remarkable sock and have just cast-on for the second. Hopefully we will be able to schedule a fitting for S's useful stocking this weekend (in amongst voting and handing out how-vote-cards - it's the Victorian state election this Saturday).

Tuesday, 21 November 2006

Rasta Ram


Rasta Ram
Originally uploaded by Boered.
I just logged into Flickr and clicked explore. This is the face that greeted me - isn't he cool?!
It seems to be my day for sheep spotting in the media. Nigel the sheep is the page 3 girl in the Hun today.
I've also been reading about Cookie A's first encounter with alpacas over at Knitters Anonymous. Check out all the sock yarn there! Very dangerous.

Vaguely remarkable socks

I like this yarn. It's a wool / cotton / stretch blend. Looking at the ball though, I had thought that it would be a self striping yarn. I have a bit to learn.
denim sock yarn

I'm using a chevron pattern from Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch. She suggests that these patterns are particularly effective when used in conjunction with stripes. The popularity of Grumperina's Jaywalker socks is further testament to this assertion.
This is the resulting sock so far.
chevron 01

Effectively, I'm knitting a blue denim sock rather than a sock with dark and light blue stripes. I like the result, but it's not what I expected and if I want to get the real ziggy-zaggy stripe effect that I was aiming for, I'll have to try the chevron pattern again with a yarn that I know, rather than expect, to be self-striping.

So. Vaguely-remarkable Socks.

Monday, 20 November 2006

sloth

  • I haven't been terribly inspired to write much on the blog lately. There has been some sock knitting (useful stocking number one is down to the foot, but I want to pin S down for a precautionary fitting before I finish the sock off). The good news with these socks is that given the wonderful yardage that you get with Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, a stocking can be achieved with only a little over 1 skein. The first skein did all the way from above the knee, through the heel flap and ran out during the heel turn so I only have to get a foot out of the second skein for each stocking. Which means that there will be plenty left over for me to make myself a pair of bright red socks. I've got a design in mind for this project, but I'll wait until they're at least in progress before I blog about them properly.

  • I've also made a start on another pair of socks, which are vaguely remarkable, but I really need to take photos to illustrate their vaguely-remarkableness. I'm obviously not a very organised blogger.

  • Quilting continues in fits and starts on the Plain Spoken quilt but photos are pointless at this stage as they won't show anything new.

  • I made a second Christmas stocking. I need to do a third to have a family set.

Wednesday, 15 November 2006

on the platform

In the interests of pushing the boundaries of strange behaviour on public transport (or at least pushing my own boundaries), I present photographic evidence of progress on the ladies useful stocking number one.

useful stocking progress

Knitting in public is a little bit unusual and possibly a little bit eccentric, but it is not weird or inexplicable. So today whilst waiting for my train, I got out my camera phone (hence the weird lighting) and snapped a shot of the sock.

I know, of course, that in the grand scheme of things I've got a long way to go before I can match the Yarn Harlot for sheer Chutzpah (I'm not brave enough to ask complete strangers to pose with my sock for photos). But for me it was a little step on the road to being the crazy old lady (who perhaps really isn't that mad) on the train that everyone gives a wide berth. Long live the life just a little less ordinary.

Sunday, 12 November 2006

Stuff I made this week


Christmas stocking
Originally uploaded by Paisley Womble.
It's six weeks until Christmas and I had this idea of making Christmas stockings using up scraps from my stash. This one used up the precious leftover bits of Filatura di Crosa Zara. That yarn is sooooo soft and delicious. The cuff is Patons Zhivago (leftover from my too slippery clapotis). Together they look nice and Christmassy.
I've also made progress on the first of S's useful stockings - I've done maybe a third of the leg.
The other major project at the moment is the quilting for Mum's birthday quilt. Progress is quite quick so I'm hoping I might be able to knock most of the work over before the weather gets disgustipatingly hot. That way I can avoid using the air conditioner quite so much.
plain spoken quilting

Sunday, 5 November 2006

useful stockings commence

I made the mistake of letting S look through "Knitting Vintage Socks" for ideas about what style of sock she wanted me to make for her. Of course she decided that the Ladies Useful Stockings were exactly what was required. A few balls of Lorna's Laces later, some time with the ball winder and some maths to adapt the pattern for her shorter legs has resulted in a start being made.
Although they're going to be long, the knitting is pretty mindless - good for meditative process which is a nice change. The red is a gorgeous colour and S' hubby T2 is quite impressed with them going to be "real stockings".

Saturday, 4 November 2006

Two Toe-up on two circs.....

After finishing the pair to the Madder Ribbed Sock, I still had about half the ball of ONline sock yarn left so I tried out the two socks at once on two circs toe up (try saying that three times at top speed) method. This is the result.
toe up pair

Not bad eh? (goodness I really do have flat feet) I've found this to be a very useful technique when you don't know how far the yarn will go. I can see that my left-over bits of sock yarn will benefit from this method in the future. But I think my first preference is for one sock at a time on dpns cuff down. Circs and bits of yarn going everywhere meant the whole knitting experience didn't feel quite so zen as it usually does - not so rhythmic and meditative.
My short row heels still need some fine-tuning.
toe up 01

I haven't worked out how to avoid the hole at the pivot point yet. Still, with these summer weight socks it doesn't matter so much - more ventilation!

Thursday, 2 November 2006

the circle of life

I looked up bee & wasp removals in the Yellow Pages and got a man in who came into the back yard and said "ah - you've got a swarm there". "No shit" was my unspoken response. Having sent me inside and donned his veil, he "dusted" the bees. They obviously didn't like that and I felt bad that evening as I swept up their remains. The bee-man reckoned I could put them on the garden as mulch - "the low toxin pesticide won't hurt the garden". I wasn't so sure, so they went into the green waste bin. My bee karma is a little low at the moment.

I did, however, take advantage of a morning off work to pop down to the local shops - the local Brotherhood op shop in particular where I scored these old pattern books ($2 for the three)which are in really good condition.

Patons Book C.14Patons Book C.19Patons Book 890

I love the expression on the baby's face in that third shot and I suspect that the next couple of years might well bring quite a few more babies into my circle of friends, so it will be fun to try out some more old fashioned designs. The gifts to knit book has a wide selection of tea cosy patterns and some tv and bed sock ideas that I am keen to try as well.

Sunday, 29 October 2006

ummmmm.....


bees
Originally uploaded by Paisley Womble.
This afternoon a group of bees decided that hanging out around the bottom of my clothes lines was a hip and happening thing to be doing. I'm hoping they'll go away of their own accord otherwise I'll have to get a bee-man (or woman) in do his (or her) stuff.

In other news... the Mossy Variation quilt is now complete. I'll blog it properly once I've taken some good photos. Outside wasn't really an option this afternoon for reasons I've already discussed. Quilting has commenced on the Plain Spoken quilt. Deadline is February next year so the sewing schedule is looking pretty positive as long as I stick to the quotas I've set.

Oh and C - if you're reading this, I watered the garden this evening and picked some silverbeet and spinach. Thanks!

Thursday, 26 October 2006

Train knitting warm fuzzy

So when I was a teenager right? I went to a few church-run youth group camps which are interesting to look back at now, if only from a purely sociological perspective (I'm not very churchy now - nor was I then when I come to think about it, but I have a better understanding now of why). Invariably these camps had an ongoing program of everyone doing or saying something nice for the other campers. Usually this took the form of a "secret pal" type arrangement or the "warm fuzzy" mailboxes (everyone had a "mailbox" where anyone could leave them a little note saying something nice - a "warm fuzzy"). All very warm and admirable and touchy-feely (which I'm not).

So cut to this morning on the train right? I was completely absorbed, knitting away on the two-socks-on-two-circs-in-self-striping-sock-yarn project. When I got up to leave the train, a woman who'd been sitting on the other side of the carriage caught my arm and said "your knitting is beautiful". I only had time to say "thank-you" and then I had to high-tail it off the train before it took off again, but the compliment for what are pretty plain socks left me with a very warm and fuzzy feeling. Warm fuzzies are at their most lovely when they come out of the blue.

Now, for some colour and interest, I present a progress shot of the quilting on the Mossy Variation quilt.

Mossy Variation progress

I'm quilting the labeling at the moment, then it's just the border and the binding to go. The end is in sight.

Monday, 23 October 2006

Secrets and new stuff

I caught up with Aunty M, the future (February next year) recipient of a birthday quilt which I have almost completed. She was quizzing me on what quilts I was working on at the moment. I didn't want to give the game away that I was making birthday quilts for the big February shindig so I was a bit vague and said I was working a quilt for Mum (true) for the new bedroom (also true) and that I haven't been doing so much quilting this year as I've become pre-occupied with knitting socks (mostly true).
Case in point: Latest sock(s) in progress.
two socks at once

Lookie Lookie! Two socks at once for the first time. This radical step has been necessitated by not being sure how far the left-over half-a-ball of summer supersocke will go. This form of Xtreme knitting is not to be attempted when drinking G&Ts at S & T2's house. The befuddlement that results is not compatible with working out which needle comes next and you start to believe that you've made an error which isn't actually there (I discovered that I hadn't stuffed anything up when I sat in the sober light of the next day to "fix" my slightly tipsy knitting).

Sunday, 15 October 2006

types and competition

A group of us got together last night and went to a ceilidh that a local social group organises once a year as a fundraiser. In between dances I got chatting with a friend's sister-in-law who (whom?) I hadn't met before. It turned out that she was also a librarian who quilts (no knitting though - more on that in a minute). She suspected I was librarian before that actually came out in the conversation because I happened to quantify my fabric stash by the number of archive boxes it took up. Damned by my own vocabulary!
I found my conversation with her remarkable for two reasons.

Reason 1. She asked me a question that I'm coming to realise is one which most quilters seem to ask of another. "What sort of quilts do you make?" I find this question as impossible to answer as "What sort of man do you go for?" I make quilts for so many different reasons, purposes, people and occasions. So the designs and styles vary. I don't make the same types of quilts all the time. I'm always finding new ideas from magazines and books. The inspirations are all different and I don't know that I could narrow them down to a type. Perhaps it would be easier to define them by what they're not. Generally I'm not drawn to "naive" or "country" style quilts. I find them a bit too twee for my tastes. I don't do "art" quilts. I find a lot of these quilts spectacular, but my artistic abilities (or lack thereof - I'm really crap at drawing) don't lend themselves to this sort of work.
Perhaps my style boils down to this. When I make quilts for other people, I find a design that I think they will like and will be satisfying for me to make. This may then involve the special purchase of fabric and possibly using up bits of the stash left over from other projects. When I make things for myself, or as "experiments", I tend to draw mostly on the stash for fabric supplies. [Although like the Yarn Harlot (I'm reading her Secret Life of a Knitter at the moment) with yarn, there are bits of fabric in the stash that are just too good to go in an experimental quilt. What if the quilt turns out crap and I've wasted that gorgeous (or expensive) fabric on a crap quilt?]
I'm a little puzzled though. Do most other quilters only make one sort of quilt? Am I a quilt "slut" because I don't stick to just one type and sew around?

Reason 2. She told me her theory that in any family there can only be one person who does an activity. For instance, she's the only quilter and cross-stitcher, her mum is the only knitter and gardener. The reason for this? So that there is no rivalry or conflict over technique or proficiency or whose work is better than the other. This struck me as a bit weird at the time but I didn't say anything as I thought it probably said more about her relationship with her mother than it did about supposed crafting competitiveness. Then I was thinking about it this morning and remembered a few years ago when Mum was telling me how my Aunty M was going to patchwork classes and was worried that I might think that she was trying to "steal my thunder" as the patchworker in the family. Mum told her not to worry as she was sure that I would be delighted if someone else in the family took up the craft. I thought it was strange that such an idea would even occur to my aunt (who I adore) as I see it as an opportunity for someone else to understand my quilterly side and an opportunity for mutual patting on the back for projects completed.

Put me in front of a game of Scrabble or Trivial Pursuit and I'm as competitive as all hell. But I've never viewed knitting and quilting that way. They're just things that I love to do, and if the people around me love to do them too, then that makes me really happy. End of story.

Friday, 13 October 2006

Madly stashbusting

Although I haven't signed up for the program, I couldn't let Socktober pass without at least dipping my lid (or rather flashing a sock-clad ankle) to the month-long festival of the sock. The pattern is another one of the basic ribbed socks from Knitting Vintage Socks - Madder Ribbed Socks.
madder ribbed sock 01

Variations made to the pattern: Length is the most obvious. We're coming up to summer here and the yarn is a cotton/wool/nylon blend so I thought anklets would fit the bill nicely. The only other modification was to work the heel flap in Eye of Partridge which I hadn't tried before.
This sock uses a Dutch or horse-shoe heel turn which was also new for me. I quite like the square-ish blocky shape which results from this.
WIP for today? Cast on the second sock.

Monday, 9 October 2006

have-it-your-way hat


have-it-your-way hat
Originally uploaded by Paisley Womble.
It's a wee bit loose, but it's very comfortable. I finished it yesterday afternoon while I was visiting my uncle and aunt. I tried it on and my uncle said "Oh, it's Grandma Stagg (his grandma, my great-grandmother)" and my aunt said "Oh, you look like your mother". Mostly I get told that I look like my dad, so when people see something of my mum's family in me it seems worth noting.
I think it's got a bit of a 1930's feel to it, especially with my stray curls sticking out of the front.

Project Specifics:
Pattern: The have-it-your-way crochet hat plan in Yarn, Issue 4, Sep 2006, p. 23
Yarn: Panda Regal 4 ply cotton - 2 strands together
Tools: 4mm crochet hook, pipe cleaners ("chenille sticks")

Modifications
Following the pattern to the letter, making the crown a flat circle as wide as the circumference of your head, then working straight down, the hat was ending up waaayyyy too big. In retrospect, those instructions seem to presume that a head is shaped like a cylinder rather than more like a sphere. So I frogged it back to the flat section and started the sides of the crown earlier on.
The pattern for the broad-brimmed hat suggests working the last round of stitches over a brim liner (either specialist millinery supplies or substituting in dressmakers stays or corset boning). I discovered on Sunday that my local Lincraft had closed and I spent ages in the nearest Spotlight combing the haberdashery aisles with no success. Then I happened to walk down one of the kiddies craft aisles and I spied some "chenille sticks" (I guess that's a new PC name for pipe cleaners) and I had a light-bulb moment. They mean that the brim is flexible and I can "set" it in various shapes.
I might well make more of these hats this coming summer (one for every outfit perhaps!). It was very quick and easy and the outcome is practical. Almost instant gratification.

Friday, 6 October 2006

So much for no knitting


hat begins
Originally uploaded by Paisley Womble.
I splurged yesterday and bought two (2 !) magazines yesterday - Real Living and Yarn. I was quite taken with the hat pattern in Yarn (picture on the website) which provides for 4 variations from the basic instructions and very easy size manipulations. The sizing is important for me as I have a big head. Or at least, I think I have a relatively normal-sized head, but whenever I try hats on in shops - particularly summer ones which generally aren't made from stretchy materials like beanies - they are too tight and hurt my head and the last thing I want, in summer especially, is a tight hat making my head throb when the heat from which the hat is meant to be protecting me is quite capable of making my head throb on its own. So we have established that I must have a freakishly large head. I mean it must be - otherwise surely they would make hats in different sizes instead of selling them on a one-size-fits-all basis. My point was further proved when the measurements in the pattern suggested that a large adult head would have a circumference of 56 cm (22"). I measured my head last night - circumference was 60 cm (23.5"). No wonder average-sized hats are too bloody tight. (I realize of course that there are businesses out there that make hats in a range of sizes, but I don't necessarily want to fork out mega-bucks for a hat when most people can just plonk any old hat from Target on their noggin and be done with it).
Anyway - back to the yarn.
I decided to send Grace to the frog pond last night. It had been sitting in my knit WIP pile for far too long and I decided that although the pattern is gorgeous, the shape and fit was wrong for me and the multi-coloured yarn that I'd chosen didn't look very nice knitted up in stocking stitch - it just looked kind-of freckled - and not in a good way. So I'm giving the 4ply cotton a chance at redemption. I'm using 2 strands with a 4mm hook to attempt a wide-ish brimmed hat which will hopefully sit on my head this summer without me feeling like my temples are about to explode. So far it looks ok.

Wednesday, 4 October 2006

Nuts!

Maybe it's because I'd just done an RPM class and was feeling all self-righteous and virtuous, but I was totally flummoxed this evening when I walked past the Melbourne CBD's very first Krispy Kreme outlet (which opened within the last month - I believe that the doughnut chain has only just arrived on Australian shores) and there was a queue. Not just inside the store, but out the door and down the footpath past the end of the shop window - at 7pm, on a Wednesday evening, at the end of town that really has very little to offer apart from the train station.
To quote Rove... What the?
And to paraphrase Samuel L Jackson... We'd have to be talkin' about one mother&^%$! charmin' doughnut.
I don't get the whole doughnut obsession. Don't get me wrong, I'll quite happily eat one if it's served up to me. But I don't crave them and I certainly wouldn't queue up down the street for one. I think probably because the enjoyment/flavour to fat/calories/sugar ratio doesn't rate very high for me. Give me a blueberry muffin, a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting or apple pie any day.
Homer Simpson I ain't.

Tuesday, 3 October 2006

Garden stash enhancement


jap maple 01
Originally uploaded by Paisley Womble.
I've finally lashed out and bought a plant to go in my half-wine-barrel-turned-into-large-plant-pot. C and I took a drive down to Chris & Marie's Plant Farm and I now have a little weeping Japanese Maple in my little backyard. As an added bonus, the first iris of the season has bloomed so this is what I had the pleasure of surveying as I ate my breakfast this morning. Bliss!
No knitting projects are on the go at the moment. I've developed a couple of excema-like patches on my yarn carrying hand so I'm taking a break from knitting for a least a couple of days to see if it clears up. I'm hoping it was just the particular yarn (Spotlight's harvest pure wool 8ply) I was using rather than a general knitting issue. I really should be doing some more work on the birthday quilts anyways and I'm taking the opportunity to read on the train which is a nice change. Although this morning I was so engrossed in my book that I missed both the stops where I would usually change and so ended up going right round the loop (it only made me about 5 minutes late so it was no great drama - just a cause of mild amusement).

Sunday, 1 October 2006

baby jacket


baby jacket
Originally uploaded by Paisley Womble.
I've knit this Baby Coat pattern quite a few times now. Two or three times as written and a couple of sized up versions. I've knit this one so that it will hopefully fit my cousin's baby next winter when he or she is 6 or 7 months old.
The colour is a little bit washed out in the photo. It's not quite so pastelly in real life. I'm really pleased with how the edging worked in the multi. I made use of the double decrease (slip 2 tog knitwise, knit 1, pass 2 slipped sts over) that I learnt from knitting the Sunrise Circle Jacket. Although if I was to do that again, I'd purl that centre stitch on the subsequent row rather than just knitting straight through as the corner turn becomes a bit bulky.

Specs:
Pattern: Baby's Coat by Mary Lee Herrick
Yarn: harvest pure wool (8 ply or dk weight) plus a bit of Marta's 8ply merino multi for the edging.
Sticks: 4mm circular (aero?) and 4mm hook for the edging.
Buttons: Pair from the button stash. Origin unknown.

Tuesday, 26 September 2006

Male socks & Male choir


thuja modelled 02
Originally uploaded by Paisley Womble.
I'm just back from a long weekend visiting my parents. I got my step-dad to model his Fathers' Day socks.

We went and saw the Melbourne Welsh Male Voice Choir who were down to do one show at the local PAC. There looked to be just the one chorister under the age of 50 (and him not by much) and some of them had very distinctive visages. It's funny the things that you take notice of when the show is not designed for visual stimulation. Whilst listening to their wonderful singing, we occupied ourselves with spotting who was left handed (there were a couple that revealed themselves when they had to some finger clicking), who had an earring (I spotted just the one in the front row - he also had a button missing from his jacket and his trousers hadn't been taken up enough), who wore a wedding ring, which face matched which name on the program, who looked like the biggest trouble-maker or stirrer.... you get the picture.
Here are the socks from the other angle.
thuja modelled 01

In other knitting news, I'm a bit over half-way through a variant of the baby surprise jacket for my cousin who is due to give birth in November. No photos yet as it just looks like a green blob.

Thursday, 21 September 2006

A woman of few words

I went to Borders after work today.
new books

That's all I have to say about that.

********************

I've been knitting my first pair of toe-up socks.
toe up socks 01

That's all I have to say about that.