Sunday, 29 October 2006


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")

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


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.

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.