Thursday, September 17, 2009

Polygamy versus Monogamy

Well, we've just said goodbye to our most recent spate of visitors, consisting of my brother and sister-in-law, followed by my parents, followed by my Auntie Joy, followed by my father-in-law! Now we have none until the end of November, although we're going away ourselves in October. No rest for the wicked indeed!

But it was not all about feeling like a bed and breakfast landlady. You see, my Auntie Joy has been knitting longer than I've been alive. But, she's only been knitting socks since last year! She has, however, made 30 pairs in that time. On top of being a very busy midwife and lactation consultant. Her FO list puts mine to complete shame.

I was so looking forward to my first ever S'n'B holiday. I was looking forward to seeing all her projects. But ... she's a project monogamist! And only brought one WIP - a gorgeous alpaca lace scarf she was knitting in two pieces to be grafted later. She refuses to allow herself to cast on something new until the WIP is done!

How can one be so disciplined and never suffer from startitis? She brought up a pile of lovely sock yarn to wind on my swift (she doesn't have one but she will by Christmas!). So we wound it all up and then she just put it away. In a bag. Without casting on One Single Thing! I espied some Wired for Fibre in gorgeous spring-like colours and badgered her mercilessly about casting on some Spring Forwards in it. But she resisted admirably! Her only concession was to stay in bed on her second-last day until she'd finished the second end of the scarf. And agreed to cast on a sock before grafting the two halves.

She laughed herself silly when she saw my pile of WIPs. I don't think it's bad really. It's mostly Christmas knitting and I'm getting through it. I keep it in a pile on my sideboard in the lounge so I see it every time I walk past and that motivates me, particularly with the less interesting projects.

Like this dreadfully tedious jumper for Glynn. Without strong guilt self-manipulation it would never be done. Booooorrrrriiiing!!!


Other than that I have a Winter Lace Afghan (Rav link) in Bendigo Rustic 12 ply Green Tweed. It's about one-third done.


I do like this pattern - it's very pretty and effective. I might even use it for a wrap down the track with a sportweight or something.


A cashmere laceweight Falling Leaves scarf. It's only supposed to be 42 repeats but I've already done 12 and I can't imagine being content with a scarf only 4 or so times longer than it is.


I will have to learn better blocking techniques for this. With previous projects, pin scallops haven't mattered at all, but they will on this scarf.

Monkeys in Jitterbug Lapis. One is done and I'm halfway through No 2.


Cabled ribs in STR heavyweight Atomic 6. One's done but I haven't started the next yet. That will wait until Monkey no 2 is done. I love how the leg of this has knit up in a spiral of colours. Neat!


I also have to do another Araucania lacy mock cable but they're not intended for any particular person, so it can wait.

But ... the literally Luscious Silk Pallas Athena Forest Canopy Shawl is finished and blocked. Oh my gosh I love this thing. It's so lustrously smooth and inviting. And the teeny touches of gold lift it so beautifully. They didn't appear on the website photograph - perhaps the silk takes up the dye quite differently from the sock yarn. It is for a dear friend for Christmas and it will be difficult not to give it to her for her birthday in October!!



So I was fiddling around with all these things and my Auntie Joy did this. And this only.


I don't know why I can't stomach project monogamy. I tried to justify my polygamy in various ways - everyone else does it, a change is as good as a holiday etc. Sometimes it's too hot to knit something big, with it spread all over one's lap. But I think it's really that I keep casting on new yarn with absolute delight until I think it's bordering on the ridiculous, then try and be strong. At this minute, I'm contemplating winding up some STR in Kaw Kaw and casting on some Ironwork socks!

I had a very fun afternoon with Samara on Tuesday. I think some kids these days aren't allowed to puddle around with things like we used to as children. So I decided that we'd do some "cooking" in the back yard, just before bath time. So we had red water, green water, oats and flour, various bowls, whisks and spoons and Samara proceeded to concoct various revolting looking glues and porridges. And tipped a bowl of pink porridge down the front of herself. Ick. But fun :)


Sunday, August 30, 2009

A new look (well, sort of)

I'm a dreadful blog decorator. I admit it. I'm not a complete technophobe but I don't have the patience to sit down and work out how to make my blog look more interesting. I'd rather knit in the spare time I have. I had a burst of enthusiasm recently to try and improve my blog wardrobe but after half an hour of trying to work out progress bars (and yes, I even looked at the Ravelry instructions!) I thought, "bah, I'm going to cast on a new sock".

As far as I knew, a widget was a fictitious manufactured item often referred to by the English House of Lords when giving hypothetical examples in their judgments. I also know that it's one of those little balls in cans of, for example, Guinness. Frankly, I still don't know much more about them!

Fortunately, I have some very generous and talented friends :)

One of those friends is Carol. She made my header thingie for me. I really love it and I just wanted to do a quick thank you post. So thank you, darling Carol, for your aesthetic contribution.

Maybe one day I'll have widgets that aren't beer can balls.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"Are you having a yarn-gasm?"

asked my husband when he witnessed my reaction to opening a suggestive brown cardboard box to find this:


Socks that Rock from Blue Moon Fiber Arts in "Kaw Kaw", "Hoofle Foofle", "Brick" and "Atomic". Plus two skeins of Luscious Silk in "Pallas Athena" - one of the Raven Clan colourways. Who could resist buying something called "Hoofle Foofle". By happy coincidence, I was browsing an old issue of Interweave Knits, came across some socks I loved and realised they were in the exact same yarn! Kismet indeed.

I defy anyone not to have a yarngasm on receiving such booty. I am soooo in love with the silk - just the most delicious stuff. I also defy anyone not to cast on, just to see. Not to abandon all my other projects (of which I have far too many right now), but just to see.



After much agonising, I decided on a Forest Canopy Shawl (Rav link); my second this year. It's intended for a dear friend for Christmas, so I need something I can knit up quickly, as I have a lot of other gift knits to do. I know my friend loves the design, as she raved over the other one I made.

I have so many Christmas projects on the go - I wonder if I will finish any on time! I have started a Winter Lace Afghan (Rav link), in Bendigo 12 ply Rustic in Green Tweed. Knitting that, after working on the grey laceweight cashmere scarf is like knitting rope using crowbars. But it's good to give the fingers a rest.

Also on the go are more socks for my brother, David (he of the Brown Nemesis fame) in Colinette Jitterbug Lapis. More monkeys for boys! David saw Glynn's blue monkeys in the Wendy Happy Bamboo and said, "that's a pretty cool pattern huh?"


Now, I've never thought of myself as someone who fits into societal norms too much, or someone who pays much attention to them. But David leaves me for dead! He's a very blokey bloke. A diesel fitter, who supervises dozens of mechanics and apprentices. He wears dark green King Gee work shirts with "Dave" embroidered on the pocket. They stink of grease and diesel. He has enormous hunting dogs and drives a 4WD ute.

But when he and his wife were staying with us recently, he baked brownies using Nigella's recipe from "How to be a Domestic Goddess". And he makes my espresso machine sing - the best coffee I've ever had! Talks disparagingly of fully automated espresso machines that make coffee with no love and therefore it tastes like *&^%. Makes the best roast chicken anyone could ever eat. And he will soon be wearing lace socks.

So it's easy to see why I love him so much and why I took so much time with his Brown Nemesis. As brothers go, no-one could have a better one.

I actually did finish one Christmas gift - some Romantic Wrist Warmers (Rav link) in Noro Silk Garden sock yarn. These mittens are so cool - I will get three matching pairs from one ball! So far I have this matching pair.


I also have a single blue and grey mitten and a blue and fuschia one, who will receive their respective soulmates when I receive some spare time. Can't beat that for value - three gifts from one ball. Three in one - that's a bit Holy Trinity isn't it (I stole that joke from Bill Bailey's Part Troll.) Love that man.

We are experiencing another onslaught of visitors through this month and the next. David and his wife stayed with us from the beginning of August until Sunday. This Sunday, my parents arrive and stay until Thursday morning. Thursday afternoon, my aunt arrives and stays until Monday. On Wednesday, my father-in-law arrives and stays until the Sunday. This on top of work and parenting a very busy toddler seriously threatens knitting time. And therefore my sanity.

It's very difficult to believe it's winter here right now - for a few days more at least. We had 35 degrees celsius here a couple of days ago. Late afternoon and Samara was doing this on our back deck.


No, I don't still do my laundry by hand. It's a stainless steel tub with a stand intended to hold ice and drinks. But lately it has been holding a very happy little girl. And multifunctionality (is that a word?) is a good thing.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Unholy Brown Nemesis

Yes! I have done it! The brown nemesis no longer has a hole. It was a horrid job patching it up. My sister-in-law is staying with us at the moment and took Samara to the park for a couple of hours so I could have some peace and quiet in daylight to get it done. I took progress pics.

This is after tying the loose stitches, weaving in lengths of new yarn, and making new stitches with a crochet hook.


I then grafted the two rows of live stitches at the top and pulled the ends through to the back. Which created this freaking mess!


And the finished product. It's not perfect - I had trouble weaving all the ends in and working out where everything was supposed to go. Dark, slightly furry yarn didn't help!


I think it will look better after washing. The brown nemesis is now strictly banned from visiting farms!

These were a much more pleasant diversion!



Pattern: Queen of Cups
Yarn: Colinette Jitterbug Velvet Olive
Sticks: Knitpro 2.75mm (still can't get used to not writing Knitpicks!)

I have good intentions of knitting a lot of Christmas gifts this year - hmmm. But I've started! I ordered some laceweight cashmere from Knitter's Addiction in a silvery grey and maroon. It only took 2 days to arrive - excellent service.

This is my very first laceweight project. I am using the silvery grey for a falling leaves scarf (Rav link) for my sister-in-law.

I have some old injuries to my hands and have trouble with really fine needles. These are on 3.5s, so the needles are okay, but it remains to be seen how I cope with the yarn.


And the maroon - just because I love this gorgeous rich colour! Not sure what this will end up as.


So I end this weekend feeling most virtuous! And very happy with my feet encased in my new Queen of Cups Velvet Olives!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Three Unfinished Socks

And one needs to be frogged. I know that. I just can't bring myself to do it :( I love this pattern - it's one of the Chevron ones from Sensational Knitted Socks. I love the yarn (although I started it so long ago that I can't remember what it is and the band is floating around somewhere in this maze of a house).

I think it's a real "statement" sock. Unfortunately, it doesn't want to speak on behalf of any feet that I know.


It's not a pointless sock - I learned how to do a "forethought heel" and was very proud of myself when it worked out so beautifully with those concentric circles of yarn. Well, worked out beautifully insofar as aesthetics are concerned. But the thing doesn't stretch! At all! My sister-in-law has weeny feet and tiny ankles. So I encouraged her to pull hard - they won't break. Even she couldn't get them on. Where's Twiggy when you need her?

I have no idea how I could have made it stretchier - after all, I followed the pattern to the letter. I even swatched to get the right size, which is unheard of for me.

So it languishes in a ziploc bag in my "shame" pile of UFOs. I will frog it. One day. But not right now. Just in case I make a friend with sticks for ankles. One who would like to make a statement with them.

I finished my Spring Forward socks and sent them off to a (hopefully) happy recipient! Then, of course, cast about for more casting on to go with the incredibly boring stocking stitch jumper I'm making for my husband. He'll get it, one day.

Browsing knitty, I came across the Queen of Cups. A pattern for a Queen indeed. I had just the yarn - some delicious Colinette Jitterbug in Velvet Olive, purchased recently from the accommodating Sarah Durrant. So rich, foresty and glorious. This will be for ... moi. So I'm doing them on 2.75s.


But, becoming engrossed in Series 4 of "The Two Fat Ladies", I realised that I could easily make a mistake. Very easily. So the need arose for something simple (other than the jumper, of course!). I decided that my Araucania Ranco needed to become some fun socks reminiscent of fruit tingles, so I trotted out the old faithful lacy mock cable pattern. One cannot stuff this up. I think they look very lively and fun. Someone will get them for Christmas, I suspect.


Back to the Two Fat Ladies. I love cooking shows. Not all of them, mind. They have to be more than just culinary instructions. And no-one had more personality than these two wonderful women. "Just what I like to see - a big jug of double cream" I recall Jennifer (Paterson) saying. And seeing Clarissa Dickson Wright spread butter "lavishly" on bread makes one's arteries shrink in horror. But I would still love to eat pretty much everything they made.

Series 4 was the unfinished one, due to the death of Jennifer. Well, she lived hard - the end of every show featured them having a brief debrief over a drink (ginger beer for Clarissa), Jennifer always having a cigarette between her beringed, beautifully manicured fingers.

I miss them - they had such unadulterated enjoyment in each other and their creations. I could scarcely believe it when I discovered that they didn't actually know each other prior to the BBC throwing them together. As Clarissa said in an interview, as soon as they started cooking together, it was as if they'd been best friends for years.

Oh, and I must thank 2paw for her helpful link :) I'm ashamed to say I found that very useful article a long time ago. But the brown nemesis still has a hole in it!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Heartbreak of a Hole

Remember my brown nemesis? That bane of my life? It has returned to me for surgery. I have had it for some time now - since May in fact. I have trawled moth hole repair sites, studied and thought.

My brother was very upset when it happened - it's his favourite jumper and he wears it so often that my sister-in-law has to prise it off his body for occasional washing. He has no idea how it even happened, other than it was probably a mouse when they were staying at a friend's farm overnight. He wore it in the evening, took it off to go to bed and when he put it on in the morning, it looked like this.


I am thinking I will stabilise the stitches by sewing around the hole with contrasting embroidery thread and tying the top and bottom stitches together, then try and reknit the missing stitches using a crochet hook and then graft together at the top. It is the sides that worry me - all I can think of doing is weaving in the ends, which won't look that great. Incidentally, "tying" is one of those words that looks incorrect no matter how you spell it! Like "manoeuvre".

It is something that will require some peace and quiet, which is something we haven't had much of, with all our visitors. It also requires daylight - Glynn is an environmental globe fiend, which means there's not much strong light in here at night. I am determined to somehow fix it so it's at least wearable, even if it becomes more of a home jumper. Why couldn't that mouse have nibbled at the armhole or something? It would have to be right over the sternum - couldn't get a more obvious place!

Hopefully one of my posts in the near future will have a photo of the repaired brown nemesis. My brother is coming down in August and I'd like to have it finished for him then, so he at least gets to wear it again this winter. Tell you what, he had better get me a cracking good bottle of red for this!

Back to Spring Forward No 2 and a quiet night in front of the telly for a change. Our remote is broken and we can't change the TV channel. Never heard of the dials on one of those old wooden cabinet TVs breaking. Lucky it's stuck on ABC so I don't miss Trial & Retribution.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Almost a year to the day ...

since I updated my blog. How hopeless am I? Maybe busy is a better word. On top of juggling our respective jobs with looking after our little girl, Glynn and I have decided that 2009 is the "Year of the Houseguest". Since about October last year, we've had something like 6 weeks on our own. It seems like we've barely spent 5 minutes together. And the washing!! Sometimes we had people arriving and departing on the same day with about a 30 minute gap, barely enough to change the bedding and air out our guest room. Fortunately, we have a couple of weeks until the next onslaught, which will last until the end of September. Unsurprisingly, we've decided to have Christmas alone. In an isolated place. An undisclosed place. Where we can just "be".

I do trawl other people's blogs to drool over their creations, but am always too embarrassed to comment because my blog is so hopelessly out of date lol!!

But, in amongst all this upheaval, there has been knitting. Without it, I am sure I would have gone insane. There is something about curling up on the couch and drifting off into a world of yarny loveliness. Serenity, whilst chaos is all around.

This year, our baby has grown into the most beautiful little girl imaginable. Every day is an absolute joy and watching over her as she learns new things is an absolute privilege and a blessing. Just look at this lovely little face.


Now, enough gushing and on to the important stuff!! This post would go forever if I posted all the things I've made, so I've just chosen a few of my favourites!

A good friend is turning 50 this year, so I embarked on my first Forest Canopy Shawl. Loved it! Except when I had an "arrogant" moment and decided I didn't need lifelines. I just can't chat and knit. An omitted YO meant undoing about 800 stitches. One at a time. I couldn't look at it for a little while, but it's all ready for delivery next week!



Yarn: Jo Sharp Alpaca Silk Georgette in Pebble (3 balls)
Sticks KnitPicks Options 5mm
Pattern changes I did 4 extra repeats - thought it was a little small

These are my first Spring Forward socks. Such a great pattern - I did this in just 3 evenings! So a big thanks to Carol for her recommendation. During one of those aimless "hand dyed sock yarn" googling sessions that one engages in from time to time, I discovered Moseley Park. You can't imagine how chuffed I was to discover a hand dyed sock yarn producer that Bells had never heard of. This is the bamboo/merino blend in "Plum Tart". I thought it was somewhat optimistically named, given that it is in shades of rose, smoky lilac and palest apricot! Perhaps there was a lot of cream in this particular tart. Gorgeous stuff nonetheless and I'll definitely be treating myself to more!



Here are my delicious new Hederas in Colinette Jitterbug Velvet Bilberry. I discovered them on RoseRed's blog and loved them. I took note of the different YO size between P and K stitches and so I did the suggested method of picking up on the following row instead. Worked pretty well I think. I also used 2.75s to accommodate my tree trunks.


Monkeys in Wendy Happy Bamboo. These are Glynn's - he saw some other monkeys I'd made and decided the pattern was not feminine but "interesting and intricate". Lucky they're blue, is all I can say!!


A little cardigan for Samara in Zara dark wine. This was a Sirdar DK pattern I dug up from somewhere. It was supposed to be for a friend's little girl, until I noticed the very obvious mistake on the left front! So Samara got lucky and Gracie got a perfect one. The making up on hers is much better too - I hate making up with a vengeance. I wish there was a Mattress Stitch Fairy.


I can't take credit for this one - it was made by my Auntie Joy, but it's so exquisite that I had to put it in.


And, of course, new acquisitions! Have been buying up big in the sales. All in the name of beating the Global Financial Crisis, of course. My motives are entirely benevolent. Here are a few favourites.

Lovely, lovely Knit Picks Options! What a beautifully presented set this is - it looks like it should be opened to reveal some deliciously thick and creamy vellum, to be used at an antique ladies' desk, at a window overlooking a rose garden.


More Moseley Park, this time in "Aubergine".


Scrumptious Noro Silk Garden Sock. I have been stalking Ravelry looking for something to inspire me, but nothing strikes as yet. I aimlessly started knitting a sock just to see what it looked like. Under the lamp, it was like knitting spun peacock feathers. But the 60 stitches on 2.5s would fit an elephant! So my "just because" sock will have to go.


Araucania Ranco. It's been silent so far on what it wants to become but I take it out every now and again, just to fondle. It reminds me of a jar of boiled sweets!


Well, if nothing else, at least I've recorded a few things for posterity! I won't tempt fate by promising to be good by updating my blog more regularly. That would surely result in me being very BAD!!