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!!