Monday, 29 January 2007

latest stash enhancement

My excuse is that my stash isn't nearly big enough to warrant a year of solely "knitting with what you have". To be honest, the stash could probably see the year out, but it would be seriously depleted if I did that.

I've been eyeing off some of the yarns at Ecoyarns for quite a while now and figured that it was time that I did some actual ordering and try them out. This was partly prompted by the scarcity of multi-coloured cottons in dk or heavier weights (suitable for dishcloths) in Australia (no Sugar N Cream here as far as I can tell). Even the Anchor cotton that I used for earlier dishcloths is hard to find at the moment. But Ecoyarns and Live2Knit teamed up just before Christmas last year and produced a one-off series of hand dyed yarns, which included this organic cotton in the "Ulysses" colourway.
hand dyed organic cotton

These should make a couple of gorgeous dishcloths. I bought a couple of balls of plain pakucho cotton for good measure (this stuff naturally grows in a range of colours - from brown to cream to green). Then I thought well why not try other plant fibres for dishcloths so I ordered a ball corn fibre ribbon yarn in a multi - aMAIZing stuff - this feels lovely and smooth.
pakucho cottonaMAIZing yarn

And since they had only recently come into stock and I was intrigued by the blend, I bought a ball of TOFUtsies - sock yarn in a wool/soysilk/cotton/chitin blend. My first thought when I pulled this ball out of the packet was how soft it was - silky smooth. My second thought was that it was very thin. On sight alone, I think this yarn will need 2mm needles to produce a nice textured sock. But oh.... how soft they will be. The yarn is really stroke-able.
TOFUtsies yarn

The quilts are finished. I'm hoping to photograph them this coming weekend so will post more about them then. I'm working on some socks that I don't want to post about right now. They're nothing startling, but I'm not sure how often the recipient reads the blog, so I'm just being a bit cautious.

My cold is much better (thanks G!). I went to yoga tonight and we did single nostril breathing (* in right nostril, out left nostril, in left nostril, out right nostril, repeat from * until instructor tells you to stop) and I was able to do that with no difficulty at all - most satisfying! C and I have been trying out the classes at the local council-run pool and fitness centre. We had been going (or rather trying to go) to a national chain of gyms that are basically all about getting you to help them recruit more members. Things like - "we'll give you free personal training session if you give us the names and telephone numbers of 5 of your friends and family so that we can ring them and try and get them to join too". Like many people, I hang up on telemarketers and I'm certainly not handing out my friends phone numbers without their permission. Bugger off! Plus the vibe of the place, whichever branch we went to, just wasn't me. The other people in the classes weren't very friendly and I was very unmotivated to keep going. I couldn't even manage once a week. I've only been to this new place twice so far, but already it feels much more comfortable. More like the council-run gym that I went to before I moved house.
I might even go for a swim one of these days. I used to love that.

Wednesday, 24 January 2007

Bound for the finishing line

I was thinking last week that I didn't get a cold last winter, or spring and that maybe that flu vaccine that work pays for isn't completely useless. So of course yesterday I developed a sore throat which today had turned into what I tend to call leaky-tap nose. TMI? Sorry. So this evening I am cooking up some of Nigella Lawson's aromatic chili beef noodle soup in the hope that the copious amounts of chili and garlic will help the infection clear up sooner rather than later. I get this usually once a year and sometimes it lingers, sometimes it doesn't.

On to more exciting things. Last night I made this.
bias binding

I'm guestimating that's about 20 metres of bias binding - much more than I need but when making this stuff you may as well make too much rather than not enough. I can always use the leftovers to bind small projects later. My leftover bias bindings even have their own shoe box in the sewing room (and they do get used - it's not an ever-growing stash like the sock yarn... I ordered some more sock yarn today.... I'll post about that once it arrives).

Bias binding not exciting enough for you? What if I tell you that now the bias binding is made, I can spend this evening doing this?
binding commences

Yep - I finished the Plain Spoken quilting on Monday night while watching Shameless (I love this show - one of the characters called her twin babies Nigel and Delia - how OTT cute is that?) so it's full steam ahead with binding and the quilt will be finished entirely by the end of January which is ahead of schedule - with far less stress than last year's wedding quilts.

This year there won't (*touch wood*) be any landmarks that require quilts. I have several quilt UFOs (see the WIPs on the side bar - although that doesn't quite show all of them... ahem...) which I aim to finish, but there are no deadlines. Woo Hoo!

Saturday, 20 January 2007

a pair of ROY socks

ROY socks pair, originally uploaded by Paisley Womble.

Did you learn the mnemonic ROY-G-BIV in science when you studied the visible light spectrum? Red - Orange - Yellow are the first three colours - hence the ROY description.
See that dark patch on the concrete at the top of the picture? That's rain. It has been raining pretty much all day which is very exciting. The tennis goers are looking a bit glum though.
Next pair of socks on the needles are a little bit hush hush for a couple of weeks. I'm finding it hard to believe that we are already two thirds through January. Time seems to fly faster and faster every year.
I'm making really good progress on Mum's quilt. I reckon one more week and the quilting should be finished. I'd best get some fabric for the binding tomorrow.

Wednesday, 17 January 2007

A post for the sake of posting

It's been a week since my last post but there hasn't been much to blog about apart from the weather. The tennis is on in Melbourne for this week and the next. Anecdotally, I am convinced that these two weeks are the most reliably stinking hot of the whole year. Bushfires are burning in various parts of Victoria. Yesterday the fires knocked out one of the main power lines that connect us to the national electricity grid which played havoc with peak hour traffic (affecting trains, trams and traffic lights). The line has been restored but the fires continue in that area, so there is the possibility of electricity rationing in the next few days. The last time that happened was in February 2000. The office I was working in would go on to half-lighting after lunchtime.

I got a bit excited this morning - there were about 5 drops of rain. But nothing came of it - I can't remember whether we've had any rain so far this year.

Some crafting has been possible. I can still do my sock knitting on the train (I'm almost finished the second ROY sock) and having the air conditioner at home means that I can plug away at the quilting for Mum's present (the end is in sight which is good as the party has been booked for next month).

Once I take some photos, I'm also planning to post about what will hopefully be a new hobby for the years to come. Mum remembered me eyeing off some bonsai at a nursery a few months ago and so for Christmas I scored some books, a little starter kit (pot, potting mix, wire) and some seedlings to try and train some bonsai of my own. I'm quite excited by this idea, but a little daunted as well - especially by the time that they will take. It is not a craft for the impatient!

Wednesday, 10 January 2007

Restrain that baby!

Someone found their way to my blog after running a search looking for baby straight jacket. (Their spelling, not mine). I suppose, after a few moments of reflection, that there was an old tradition of wrapping babies in swaddling clothes, so a strait jacket could be a suitable alternative but it seems a bit odd.

While I'm on the topic of keyword searches that have found me.... someone else was looking for an australian flag knitted tea cosy pattern. I'm sorry I couldn't help them.

A bag for Christmas

I knocked this bag up pretty quickly as a Christmas present for S, but I forgot to take photos before it was gifted. So last night, I combined collecting some salvaged concrete pavers with snapping a couple of shots so that I can show off my handy work.
Christmas bag

Patchwork like this is very low stress and quick as there is absolutely no requirement for accuracy which is usually the most angsty and time-consuming part of the patchwork process for me. I used a quilt-as-you-go method of foundation piecing. IE: Cut out a foundation piece for each side of the bag, cut a piece of wadding to match (I used a thinnish cotton batting), plonk wadding on top of foundation, plonk first piece of fabric in the middle, line up a second piece of fabric over the first, with the right side down, stitch through all layers, press open, continue adding bits of fabric this way until the foundation and wadding are completely covered. Simple and low stress.
Christmas bag reverse

I made a lining in the same way without the wadding and then used bias binding to finish off the opening. I'm not 100% sold on the method I used for the handles. I think I still need to experiment with different handle types. S is very happy with it though. She tells me that she feels "very Japanese" when she uses it to take her lunch to work.

On the current WIP front, I'm about to start the heel flap on the second ROY sock and I'm still madly trying to zoom through the quilting on Mum's birthday quilt - it's getting there, but I'm giving the air conditioner a good work-out in the process. And T2 has a birthday coming up. I have yarn. I'm thinking about socks (of course!).

Friday, 5 January 2007

One completed ROY sock

This is sock one of the pair. I cast on the second last night which will probably take me another couple of weeks of train knitting.

ROY sock

Thoughts on the pattern: The pattern is very easy to remember. I'm making far more use of Sensational Knitted Socks than I thought I would on the first reading - so much so that the Sock Queue is suffering, or rather, getting longer and longer as it gets neglected for patterns from this book. Schurch's systematic layout into patterns by number of stitches per repeat or theme, coupled with each grouping having a different kind of construction (eg toe-up with short-row heel, toe-up with flap heel, cuff-down, etc.) means that you can mix and match patterns to your heart's content with great ease. And it is very useful when you're still learning and experimenting with the different constructions.
I'm still searching for my ultimate toe style (for cuff-down socks) in particular. I don't like finishing socks with kitchener stitch (grafting) although I like the shape of the end product. Some of the more rounded toes, which decrease down until you have few enough stitches to just pull the opening closed are satisfying to knit, but they look a bit funny on the foot. Which really shouldn't be a huge concern since they're generally covered by shoe (except when I don the satorially elegant combination of sock and Birkenstock). But I will know! The other concern is trying to work out which shape will be the hardest wearing over the big toe - where many a sock has been known to come to grief.
I'm waffling. I'll shut up now.

ROY sock

Thoughts on the yarn: The colour combination is not my favourite - more red and less orangey-yellow would have been preferable in hindsight. But these were dyed mostly to experiment with which colours would be the best for a future project, so they have served their purpose. The yarn feels a bit chalky as I knit with it. I'm assuming that comes from some Kool-Aid residue left-over from the dyeing process. I'll give the socks a good bath in some wool-mix before I wear them and hopefully that will fix the issue.