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.


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?