Sunday, 29 July 2007

Weekend round up - plus some TdF notes

On Saturday I went to the Melbourne Craft and Quilt Fair. I went a little bit overboard on adding to the fabric stash. It felt quite satisfying though.

fair stash 01

fair stash 02

fair stash 03

fair stash 04

fair stash 05

I also spotted a couple books that begged to come home with me. Who was I to say no?

my new knitting books

Today, at Mum's request, I made a bag which is to be a 60th birthday present for an old family friend.

GED bag 01GED bag back

Tonight is the final stage of the Tour de France. I was on tenterhooks last night watching the final time trial. It now all comes down to Contador, Cadel and the wonderfully alliterative Levi Leipheimer. I don't really understand the structure of the final stage. It sounds as if there won't be many opportunities for the lead to change. I guess we'll just have to wait and see. Tomorrow I am looking forward to my first early-to-bed night in 5 weeks (before le tour, we had two weeks of Wimbledon - what can I say? I'm a Euro-sport tragic).

Friday, 27 July 2007

This will teach me to ignore the bandwagon...

Good thing that I'm a patient person, otherwise this whole waiting for my Ravelry invite would drive me nuts.

Found you!
You signed up on June 18, 2007
You are #9780 on the list.
2883 people are ahead of you in line.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

TdF KAL - étape 16

Some dot point notes
  • Rasmussen wins the stage, but then the Rabobank team withdraws him from the tour.
  • Another rider - Moreni - and his team join Vinokourov and the Astana team on the failed-doping-test bench.
  • On the bright side, Aussie Cadel is now in 2nd place on the overall standings.
  • Last night I frogged the gansey sock that I was experimenting with. The shaping was interesting but I wasn't feeling the love.
  • Instead, inspired by the determined mountain climber Donni, I cast on for the second Bayerische sock which will be my home knitting.
  • For train knitting, I decided to pay some attention to my sock queue and made a start on a pair of Razorshell socks. The yarn is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Bittersweet, which I've had ear-marked for this pattern for quite some time.

Razorshell beginning

Some spoiler-free thoughts on the whole Harry Potter thing.

I've finished the book and was mightily impressed with the way that JKR wrapped the whole thing up. My head was spinning by the end.

I went to buy my book on Saturday morning and decided to brave the nightmare that is Chadstone Shopping Centre, because previous experience (ie: the release of the last two books) had taught me that the easiest and cheapest way to get your HP fix on the first day, is to high-tail it to K-Mart or Big W, where odds on, you can just wander in, pick up a book and make your way through the check-outs in a comparatively orderly fashion. This is what I did at about 10-ish on the Saturday morning. Kmart had no queue, a big stock of the book and I was in and out in about 5 minutes.
Out of curiosity though, I decided to go around to the Borders store to check out how the HP sales were going there. The Chadstone Borders has three levels and I found a queue on every level, snaking it's way round almost every row of shelving. As far as I could tell, these were all the people who had pre-ordered their book so that they "wouldn't miss out". All I could think was "Suckers! You might get a free beanie owl, or HP shopping bag, but I get to go home straight away and start reading, with no standing in a queue for hours on end required".

Sunday, 22 July 2007

TdFKAL - Stage 13

Pair of Baudelaires, originally uploaded by Paisley Womble.

Just popping in to post a photo of the finished socks. I'm about two thirds through Deathly Hallows and I've shed my first tears (that's all I have to say about that...)
I watched a fair bit of the Albi time trials last night but was too tired to watch to the finish. Aussie Cadel has climbed to second place in the race for the maillot jaune which is pretty exciting.
I've decided against starting the Canal du Midi socks as a continuation of my knitting TdF - I wouldn't get them finished by the time the riders reach Paris, so I've decided to continue racing with some other projects that were already underway (I fought the startitis and I won!).
One project is a Gansey Sock - the pattern comes from my knitting pattern-a-day desk calendar. The pattern uses gansey shaping techniques to shape the heel of the sock. I'm working this in an 8ply (DK weight) wool/alpaca blend. Photos later.
Another is a crocheted ripple blanket. I caved earlier in the week and bought Jan Eaton's 200 Ripple Patterns. The crochet is quite mindless when my hands and mind are tired.
And one more... I'm trying my hand at spindle spinning. Photos once I've plied my first singles.
Perhaps I'm in startitis-denial.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

TdF KAL - ...umm.. I've lost track of the stage number

DSC01640, originally uploaded by Paisley Womble.

The Baudelaire socks were finished last night whilst watching le tour make it's way through the Languedoc region. I'll post a better piccie, with feet actually in the socks, once I emerge from the other thing in this photo. I've tidied the lounge room, I have coffee, I have fruit loaf and there's left-over casserole for dinner. Everything is as it should be.

Friday, 20 July 2007

Spreading himself thin

Spreading himself thin, originally uploaded by Paisley Womble.

This has been making me chuckle all week. I love how often these contradictory / complementary headlines seem to coincide.

In case you're having trouble reading the headlines...

New Idea: Ange's fury - Brad and Gwyneth together again

Womans Day: His Mum's bombshell confession - Brad still in love with Jen

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

TdF KAL - étape 9 - insanity?

Prior to last night's stage 9 of the tour, I looked at the tour website to check what route the riders were taking. If you click on the "profil" tab on the map, then you get a little schematic showing the up-and-down-i-ness of the course. Last night's had a big "unclassifiable" hill at the start and as if that wasn't enough, another big "unclassifiable" hill at the end. The SBS promos are right. These are real tough guys. Either that or they are just insane.
I, on the other hand, like any good maillot vert candidate, am just speeding along nice flat ground with my second Baudelaire sock. There's really no point in showing photos - it looks exactly the same as the first. I've turned the heel and I'm on the home stretch. Next up, Canal du Midi?

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Some patchwork activity

KF Charm Squares Pieced, originally uploaded by Paisley Womble.

I had bought a couple of packs of charm squares at the last quilt fair that I went to. One pack of Kaffe Fassett's stripes/checks and one pack of his prints. The beauty of many of his quilt designs is in the simplicity of the piecing so that the gorgeous fabrics really take centre stage. So I decided to give the squares a moderately minimalist treatment and this is the result. It uses the basic triangular block layouts from "Sarah's Pastel Quilt" on p 21 of KF's V&A Quilts. I've omitted using any borders though. The piece still needs to be quilted - when I get around to it.

TdF KAL - Etape 7 - le jour de la Bastille

As the peloton headed into the first of the mountain stages last night, this little sprinter finished her first Baudelaire and made a start on its pair.
Baudelaire 02 begins

I was loath to take the finished one off after the photo shoot this morning. The heel shaping fits beautifully and feels wonderful - the best toe-up heel shaping I've come across yet. It requires a gentle little tug to get it over the instep, but I think it is more advisable to avoid the instructions for larger insteps.
Baudelaire 01 landscape

My other variation on the heel was to work slip stitch heel pattern from the point where the short rows commence on the bottom of the foot (see pic above), right through to the top of the heel flap and then a little bit further (see pic below).
Baudelaire 01 back

What amazes me every year when I watch the tour, is how many non-bicycle hazards the riders have to negotiate around. What with all the support vehicles, cameramen on motorbikes and the spectators playing chicken, it's a wonder they don't come a cropper more often.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

TdF KAL - étape 4

After my grump-fest yesterday, I'm back in the saddle. I ripped back to before the cable increases, picked up all my stitches (not as bad an experience as one might think) and re-knit the ankle with a 4 stitch cable on each side. It looks much better now.
Baudelaire 1 - heel back on track

I've made a couple of variations to the pattern as written. One deliberate and one accidental. The deliberate is to continue the slipped stitch heel pattern a bit further up the back of the leg and the accidental is that I'm working the cable every 8 rows instead of every 4. This one is a consequence of me not reading the pattern closely enough and of having 8 row repeats of cables on the brain from all the Bayerische knitting. I'm going to use the excuse that I'm working at a different cadence to the pattern (we learnt all about cadence last night from Phil Liggett in the course of the commentary on Stage 4).
Baudelaire 1 - working the leg

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

TdF KAL - Troisieme Etape

Baudelaire heel turned, originally uploaded by Paisley Womble.

I haven't come a total cropper in my pursuit of le maillot vert, but perhaps my bike is having some gear change issues?

OK, here's the rub. For the "larger instep" version of the Baudelaire, the pattern makes the following provision - after the completion of the reverse-engineered-toe-up-flap-heel (which incidentally is fantastic - the shaping that results is superb) you make these cable increases on each side of the sock.

The increase is so that the cables up the sides of the sock will be 8 stitch cables instead of 4 stitch cables which will make the leg a little bit wider. I didn't really understand this until I had actually executed the move (which is damn fiddley).

This is an interesting theory and a creative way of incorporating more stitches into a pattern rather than just adding in a bit of extra ribbing.

But... (could you sense the but that was coming here?) the cable increase is really in-elastic. The cable increase doesn't stretch horizontally and is positioned on the "hinge" of the heel where you really need that little bit more stretch. Instead, you have that little bit less stretch. As soon as I had done it, I was wishing that I hadn't. (It also looks pretty crap which could be down to my tension or execution) So, I think that the sock should fit just fine without the allowance for a larger instep ...

(which also seems to me to be in the wrong spot - when I knit cuff-down and I want a larger instep, I knit the heel flap longer which makes a deeper gusset - there's no reason why you couldn't reverse engineer that using the same shaping in this pattern - the pattern shaping as written seems to be for a larger leg, not a larger instep)

... so I'm trying to suck up the courage to rip back to before the increases. It's not that much in terms of lost knitting and I will feel better about the whole thing as the sock was looking pretty damn good before that - did I mention that the reverse-engineered flap heel is otherwise fantastic?

OK - I've made WAY too much use of parenthetical asides in this post, so I'd best stop here for a little rest.

Monday, 9 July 2007

TdF KAL: Deuxieme etage

I hope that all my fellow Maillot Vert knitters are feeling suitably inspired by Robbie McEwen's superlative effort in winning Stage 1 (complete with injured wrist from a crash) in Canterbury yesterday. I'm making pretty good progress on Baudelaire number 1. It's toe-up and tonight I've started the gusset increases.
Given how quickly this is going so far, I'm contemplating whether to up my degree of difficulty and try and get a second pair of socks going once these are done. I figure that Nancy Bush's Canal du Midi socks from Knitting on the Road would be most appropriate, both in nationality and well... road-ness.

Sunday, 8 July 2007

stitch keepers

stitch keepers, originally uploaded by Paisley Womble.

Three posts in one day. Somebody stop me....
Since my sock knitting gets dragged around in my hand-bag, I have found that the little stitch keepers that I got from SSYC are really useful for stopping stitches coming off the needles when in transit. Especially when using the shorter 5" and 6" sock needles.
In my surfing travels, I came across some instructions for making your own using felted/fulled materials. This seemed easier than traipsing round Bunnings trying to find the little plastic cuppy things to go on the ends. I already had everything that was required.
The green yarn felted more convincingly than the purple, so next time I will use that exclusively. I started it off felting it by rubber-glove-clad hand but got sick of that pretty quickly so I threw it in with a load of towels on a super hot wash. This had the desired effect. I think front loading machines are perhaps a bit more effective in fulling/felting due to the whole tumbling motion.
The verdict? Functional, quick and easy. I'll be making more for my different sized dpns.

Baudelaire 1 commence

Baudelaire 1 commence, originally uploaded by Paisley Womble.

I cast on for the Knit-along during the Tour de France prologue last night - I hope that's allowed. It looks like London put on some spectacular weather and a warm welcome for the riders.
This is the first time that I've tried Judy's Magic Cast-On. So far I have preferred to use a provisional cast and short row toe for toe-up socks. The first couple of rounds were a pain on dpns (I think the technique would be easier with two circs), but after that, it went pretty smoothly. I also took the advice found in my new copy of Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Workshop which recommends that you increase by yarnover, then knitting into the back of the yarnover on the next round. This looks pretty neat I think.
I'm using Cherry Tree Hill Supersock in Java (I love this colour-way), on 2.25mm Knit Picks dpns.

Boys model socks

T2 and D socks, originally uploaded by Paisley Womble.

Showing off their bespoke knit socks on Friday night.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

"Matchy Matchy"

At the risk of breaking the apocryphal (?) dictum of Anna Wintour (editor of American Vogue) against outfits that are too "matchy-matchy", I can now accessorise my outfit with matching socks and shawl. The Sea Silk Shawl in the Woodland colour-way....
Woodland Sea Gumleaf Shawl

...has been joined by the Sea Wool Socks in the Woodland colour-way.
Woodland Sea Monkey detail

I'm sure I don't need to tell you that this pattern is everywhere at the moment. Take a look the Cookie's Sock Creations Flickr group to see a selection if you're interested.
Why is it so popular? For starters, it's by Cookie A who is the height of cool in sock design at the moment - and deservedly so. Plus the pattern is very easy to memorise while still producing a relatively intricate effect.
Would I knit them again? Given that I have so many other patterns in my sock queue that I haven't tried yet, the honest answer is probably not. However hypothetically I would, with the modification of only doing 4 pattern repeats on the leg instead of 6. Perhaps I would also modify them by just doing a 2x2 rib on the cuff rather than 1x1 twisted rib. The twisted rib looks fabulous, but it's not quite as stretchy and these socks are just that little bit too snug at the top so they tend to bunch around the ankle.

Sock Statistics:
Pattern: Monkey by Cookie A
Yarn: Fleece Artist Sea Wool in Woodland (I can't see this colourway on the Fleece Artist website, although it is still listed on the Hand Maiden branch)
Needles: 2.5 mm addi turbo circs (2 socks on 2 circs at once)

Sunday, 1 July 2007

ein Bayerische Sock

I finally made it over the hump that was the never-ending foot of Bayerische sock. I even made the effort last night to graft the toe rather than do my usual three-needle bind off. Here is the first completed sock. It is destined to be an only child for a while yet as the second sock will have to wait until after the Tour de France. (I don't think that le Tour is scheduled to divert into Bavaria this year so I can't really link these to the French theme. Donc, les chausettes Baudelaires sont le projet prochaine.)
bayerische sock

I made a few modifications to the pattern as written. The original cuff is knit on 76 stitches before increasing to 96 stitches when the cabling patterns begin. Knitting on 2mm needles, I found the 76 stitch cuff was too snug (ie: too damn small) for my ankles. So I did my cuff on 96 stitches, following the ribbing pattern (a mixture of 2x2 and 1x1) that was established in the increase row. That way, the ribbing still flowed properly into the cabling pattern.
For the leg, I did three repeats of the pattern instead of four. This shows great foresight on my part (!) as I don't think that the cuff could stretch any further if it ended further up my calves.
Bayerische sock detail

The heel and gusset were worked pretty much as written. The only exception to this is a modification I make on all heel flap socks - on the first round after picking up the gusset stitches along the heel flap, I knit all the picked up stitches through the back of the loop. Then I start the gusset decreases on the next round. I can't remember where I read about this, but I remember that it was recommended as a way of avoiding holes at the gusset corners. I've never had a gusset-corner-hole problem, so perhaps this extra round is the reason.
Bayerische sock

Getting towards the toe, I was running out of puff, so I stepped the pattern down, progressively switching to ribbing until I was just working the central panel cable. The toe was worked exactly as written.
Bayerische sock detail