Sunday, July 4, 2010

Long overdue

It's been so long since I've posted, and there is so much that has happened and so many knitting and spinning projects in that length of time that I have finished. I will, no doubt, forget probably half of it. Still, at the express request of mom, I will make a bit of an attempt at catchup. A "bit" being the operative word. If I thought I had to include everything, the task would just be too daunting to even begin. Oh well, enough with the excuses. I seem to start all of my posts with excuses, which is probably not a good thing.

I guess I'll start, more or less, where I left off. I did knit for the Ravelympics, for Team Manic Purl (listeners and fans of the Manic Purl Podcast), and I did finish my jumper just inside the 17 days the Winter Olympics games were on. As mentioned in the last post, I had decided to knit the Vis'a Vie jumper, out of some Naturally Woodland Mohair I had lounging around in my stash. A simple stockingnet stitch for the most part, done in the round all in one piece, it wasn't a hard project at all. I finished up the roll collar with only hours to spare before closing ceremony, but finish I did. The yarn is quite lovely and makes all the difference to it visually, but like most mohair, it's quite scratchy, and I can't wear it comfortably without something in between it and my skin.

Pictured below is the front:

and the back:

Finishing that, I was free to turn my attention to the Alpine Lace Shawl from Victorian Lace Today. I really wanted to have it done in time for Winter Roundup, the big western action shoot, to wear with my new Civil War circa ballgown my cousin sent me from the US. I was about halfway done with it when Ravelympics was over, so there was still plenty to do. I finally finished it on May 2nd, a bit less than 5 months after I started it.

Consequently, I did get to wear it with the ballgown at Winter Roundup:

a couple more shots of it:

I made some really good progress on the Alpine Lace when on a boating trip with hubby Chris in March. We spent 3 days and 2 nights out on the Murray River, and the weather was pretty ideal. We went up above Mannum and tied up at a nice spot up that way.

Since I last posted, Chris has picked up a new hobby. It's called geocaching and entails finding hidden "caches" using GPS tracking devices. There is a global website for it online called Geocaching, as well as a linked but separate Australian site. The gist of it is this: Someone goes and hides a container (shapes and sizes vary). This container contains, minimum, a notebook and pen/pencil for people to sign when they find it, and often other little "prizy" sort of gifts. Sometimes they have these geotracking "chips" in them, with the origin of the chip, dates etc engraved in it so it can be tracked on it's journey from cache to cache.

Anyway, to make a long story short, people who enjoy doing this go out and find these caches, and hide those of their own. Everyone's participation, as well as the location of the caches is tracked via these online websites.

Dear Chris is mad about this stuff. He is as hooked on this stuff as I am with my knitting, and we knitters know how crazy our obsession looks to others, and the strange lengths we will go to in persuing our hobby. Well, it appears, geocaching buffs are no different.

So off we went on the boat, and the mooring place was chosen for it's reasonably close proximity to one of thise caches hidden along the side of the river. Chris brought along this little inflatable raft that is more a child's toy than a serious flotation device. His mission was to moor the boat as close to this cache he wanted to find as he could, then take the inflatable boat and row the rest of the way.

So he blows up the raft:

And off he goes:

The pictures do not do justice to how totally rediculous he looked. A big man, over 6feet tall, crammed into this little raft with it's plastic "toy" paddles. He did make it to his destination, or at least, thinks he did. He failed to find the cache. Still, and crucially, he actually made it back to our boat before the raft sank. It was half full of water, and Chris was so wet it looked more like he'd swam the distance.

Okay, enough of all that. Back to fibrey things. In a previous post I mentioned having a spinning friend from Whyalla and her children out on the boat with us. While there, she did some spinning on my Magacraft Little Gem. I told her to just take the unfinished bobbin with her (she has another type of Magacraft at home, but the bobbins interchange) and bring it back when she's next around.

Well, she did me one better than that (or two better...or even three). I recieved in the mail a package from Ewe Give Me the Knits containing one Magacraft bobbin, one bag of merino/silk fibre in the Peppercorns colourway and some lovely homemade soap.

Of course, I must show the closeup of the fibre:

The fact is, I could not in a million years have picked out for myself a colour that suited my taste better, and she did it on the scant knowledge that I was "fond of greens".

The grandest thing was not really the colour of the roving though. In all truth, it was the first colourway that fascinated me at every step. The roving looks quite multicoloured, with evergreen, lighter green, gold and white.

The singles start showing the predominance of green, and the gold and white start becoming accents:

The resulting yarn is greener still, with golden highlights:

After finishing the merino silk, I spun up some alpaca roving a workmate gave me. It's naturally coloured fiber from a local alpaca ranch. She gave me some white and some reddish brown, and I chose to spin the brown first.

I really don't know what it is, but spinning alpaca just doesn't seem to agree with me. Yes, it has short fibres, and that takes a bit of a different approach, but still, given that I know that, and know what to do, and know how to do it, it still doesn't seem to go as naturally for me as wools or silks do. I tend to break the singles more often, or get a slight "thick and thin" result, or both. Like anything, I suppose practice and familiarity would fix the problem. The trouble is, I get so frustrated with it, and there's so much beautiful wool fibre in my stash, I tend to get tempted to just not bother.

This bit however was a gift, and wanting to make use of that gift, I dutifully spun away. I'd be going all guns blazing for awhile. In the zone..on a roll..that sort of thing. Then for no reason I could figure out, I'd start having all sorts of issues with it. Oh well, eventually I did finish, and the results are nice enough.

I plan on making a hat from it, and regifting it to the girl who gave me the fibre. I'm not sure it will be enough though, so I'm thinking of spinning some of the white and using both colours in the hat, but so far haven't found the courage to pull it out and put it on the wheel.

Instead, I pulled out last month's fibre club offering from Southern Cross Fibre Club. It's Shetland, and heaven knows I love spinning Shetland. It practically spins itself. Aside from which, it's more lovely green shades, and greens my current "thang".

I'm spinning the second bobbin up right now, and then I'll work out how (or if) I will ply it.

Speaking of the Southern Cross Fibre Club, I recieved the July installment a few days ago. It's a BFL top in the Reflection colourway, a series of browns, blues and purples. Rather dark, but very interesting. I'm not usually all that fond of purple, but I find this mixture has it's appeal.

Now, back to the knitting. First, I mentioned in the last post finishing the Welt and Rib Pullover from Interweave Knits (Fall 09). I finally got a picture of me wearing it (mom requires a picture of me in these posts or I get fussed at in the comments section).

I also finished a pair of socks for my nieces husband David who is currently serving in the US military. Made with Heirloom 5ply easy care wool and a simple (improvised) toe up rib pattern I think they fit the bill for military requirements. I'm only hoping the fit was right. I had to go by his shoe size, which can be an iffy proposition.

When I was out shopping for the yarn for these socks, I happened upon some Aracaunia. I had no idea anyone in Adelaide sold it, but sure enough, they had it at The Yarn Barn. Having never tried it, I snapped up a skein.

Yes, the green theme continues.

I also finished a pair of socks, the Twist Socks. I simply must show one picture of the work in progress, because the sock is lying on a neat quilt my mother in law gave me (she didn't make it, but it is homemade).

The socks themselves were made with Grignasco Strong Print 4ply and my own improvised (and quite easy) pattern. I started with the general template for a toe up sock with a variation of the Widdershin heel (ie. increases for the gusset, a short row heel turn, and then decreases on the gusset till your return to the proper number of stitches). I added a twisted rib stitch pattern into the mix, and I rather like the way they turned out.

Having finished the Alpine Lace Scarf, I simply couldn't help starting yet another project from the Victorian Lace Today book. (I still plan to knit everything in that book before I die). So on the needles right now is the Myrtle Leaf Shawl. I'm using the Lara Down's 100% Cashmere Lace Weight, and what a dream that stuff is to work with. It's like clouds slipping through my fingers.

That's the center section I'm working on now. This pattern has a border that is knitted onto the center section after it is completed. That will be a new experience for me, and I can't say that knitting on all those stitches seems particularly appealing, but I'm up for it nonetheless.

For the last WIP (that's right...gasp...only 2 at the moment) I'm using the magical green wool/silk mentioned earlier in the post and the New New Shale Cowl pattern I found on Ravelry. When I spun the yarn, my original intention was socks. After seeing the resulting yarn though, I decided not to hide them away on my feet and decided on something around the face.

That just about wraps it up. In the next few weeks, I'll be getting things organized for our trip to Tennessee in early September. That's one of the reasons I'm keeping my WIP's to a minimum. I probably won't be done with the Myrtle Leaf Shawl, so that will go along. I plan on ordering some yarn from Knit Picks and having it shipped to Mom's, plus visit a few yarn and fibre shops while there, so I don't really want to take alot with me. I'll pack my needles and other necessary tools of course, but otherwise I'm keeping it to a minimum.

You can knit now on domestic flights in Australia, but I'm still not entirely sure of the rules on overseas flights, so I'll have to check that out as best I can before deciding if I take a project along or not. Socks would be ideal of course, but I'm thinking my larger (5mm or above) plastic Denise needles might be a little less threatening looking than my small sharp 2.5mm Knit Pick Harmony's. So if I can knit, I'll probably go for a children's jumper.

I will try and get another post in before we go, or ideally, two. Still, given my track record, I'm not making any promises.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Has it been a Month?

I've just realized it's been almost a month since my last post, and figured I'd better get one up before folks start wondering what's happened to me. Contrary to my life slowing down a bit after the first of the year, it's been pretty busy. I've also discovered the rather remarkable world of Facebook, and what a rabid time sucking device that is.

I'm going to stick pretty much to the facts, and I doubt I put things in very good chronological order, mainly because it's been so long since I last posted that I have a hard time remembering what order they came along in. So I'll just organize things in sections. I'm thinking a section for knitting, one for spinning, and one for social occasions and events. That should do fairly nicely. Can you tell I'm a bit overwhelmed here?

I think I'll start with my knitting. I'm ashamed to say I still haven't gotten the other sleeve sewn on to the lacy cami. I don't know what's really stopping me from getting to it, but there always just seems to be something more urgent (or more fun) to do. I plan, though, on getting it sewn on sometime this weekend. I really want it off my project board before the Ravelympics. (more on the Ravelympics later).

However, TA-DA!! I did finish my Welt and Rib Raglan after letting it sit on the needles 95% done for way too long. One of the reasons I left it on there too long is that I was a bit afraid I was going to run out of yarn, and I guess I was procrastinating rather that accept the inevitable. As it turned out, I did have enough yarn, but just barely. I think this is the closest I've ever came to running out without actually doing so. Here's what I had left when finished:

I see a few mistakes in the jumper, particularly in the collar, but I doubt anyone else will notice. It looked hideous, to tell the truth, before I blocked it. I initially washed it, spun the excess water out in the washing machine, and then lay it out on towels overnight. The next morning, I put it on my sewing dummy to finish blocking on there. (Note: My sewing dummy is covered in a red feltish material, so I covered it with a plastic kitchen garbage bag to keep any of the red colour from transferring to the damp jumper.) Now, I reckon, it looks fantastic. It's amazing the magic blocking can achieve.

I also finished my Get Jiggy with It socks, made with Heirloom Jigsaw yarn and just a basic toe up pattern. They turned out great, fit well, and will make good servicable work socks, which was the intention. I don't just knit socks, I wear my knit socks pretty much every night at work, and consequently, I wear socks out. Lacy frilly socks seem to wear out quicker, and to tell the truth, the more expensive the yarn, the less well it seems to hold up for me, so nice wearable socks from relatively cheap yarn are perfect for my everyday wear.

In the WIP department, I've done quite a bit on the Alpine Knit scarf, although for me, lace never seems to show the progress I "think" I've made. I did get back to the point I was before the horrible disaster I mentioned in the last post and all the consequent frogging back to before the error, and have added a few more pattern repeats besides.

It's just one of those projects that I leave handy and pick up when I have quiet free moments, do a row or a few, and then put down again. I do want it finished in time to wear to the Winter Roundup in mid May, though, so I really do need to devote more time to it than I have been.

At this point, I should explain my future knitting plans, as that might explain why I don't have any more on the needles right now than I do. You see, the big event on Ravelry, cleverly labled Ravelympics, is coming up. It corresponds with that actual winter Olympics in Vancouver. For those who don't know, the idea is to join a team, pick a project, and start the project (ideally) when the torch is being lit and the games officially begin (in this case, Feb 12th), and have the project finished by the closing ceremony two weeks later.

I have decided to participate this year, and have joined Team Manic Purl. Manic Purl is a podcast that I enjoy listening to, and the podcast also has a group on Ravelry. So, I joined the Ravelry group and I'm getting into the swing of things. I'll be knitting in the "Sweaterboard Cross" event (all things sweaters, vests, boleros etc.) I think, but I also qualify for the Stash Compulsory Dance (things knit with neglected stash more than a year old). It's all for fun, and all in the Olympic spirit.

I have chosen as my project the Vis'a vis jumper (aka sweater) from the book "Knitting the New Classics". It's a very simple jumper done in the round in plain stockingnet with a bulky mohair yarn. I've chosen to do it with some stash yarn I've had lying around for, literally, years. It's Woodland, from Naturally, and is a lovely brown colour with different colour flecks in it.

As the beginning of the festivities is just over a week away, I've already began organizing my yarn, needles, etc, so that all will be ready when it times to cast on. However, due to needing to finish an entire jumper (albiet an easy one) in two weeks, I probably won't be knitting on anything else during that time. A manogamous knitter for two weeks, imagine that!

I did, however, cast on for mom's birthday present this morning. I won't be showing pictures here for obvious reasons, but I figured I could get some of that done before the Ravelympics, and then work on them like a mad thing afterwards. I have about a month and a half till the gift will need to be mailed off, but once you slice two weeks out of that for the Ravelympics, well, I'll likely be cutting it close.

With my spinning, I've actually gotten several things done, and a couple of new things started. I finished the skein of SCFC's "Deep Thought" colourway:

And I also finished my third skein of the Flowering Red Gum colourway from Kathy's Fibres:

Back a few months ago, I bought a bunch of Timber colourway wool and also some matching silk to spin a 3 ply, 2 plies of wool, 1 ply of silk. I had quite a bit of silk left over, so about a week ago I took the leftover silk and Navaho plied it, making this lovely mini skein (I just love Kathy's earthier colourways):

In the last post, I showed you some Fleece Artist tops I recieved as a gift from a Ravelry friend who was visiting from Canada. I have spun up one of those tops into two singles on Matilda (my Majacraft Little Gem) and will be plying them together for a nice 2 ply soon:

I've also started spinning some alpaca roving given to me by a friend at work. It's the first time I've spun alpaca on the Majacraft, and I can't say it's going all that swimmingly. I'm trying to make rather thin singles, but I'm undertwisting it even sew on the fastest ratio, so it keeps breaking. I need to work on tweaking this I suppose, and it does give me a challenge:

Besides, I need to get it right, because she gave me a whole heap of it. She used to spin, but has since given it up, and had all of this leftover and gifted me with it:

My other spinning related aquisition is this handy stool that I found for $5 at a garage sale last weekend:

It's not exactly a proper spinning chair, but it serves me well. I don't always like to sit straight on facing the wheel, and the rotating seat helps me out there. It is the perfect height, and I'm liking fine right now.

A couple of things happened in my social life that are noteworthy. The first was a visit from another Ravelry friend, "Rosie". She and 4 of her kids came out for a cruise along the Murray River on our boat. I won't post pictures here for privacy reasons (and because I haven't asked), but just had to post the picture of the huge carp her 11 year old daughter caught:

It was her first time ever fishing, and needless to say, she was stoked with her catch, even if it was a carp.

That's about it for this installment, although heaven knows, it's long enough. I wish I could stick to my resolution of posting more often so as to cut down the sheer time it takes to make a post, but so far, I'm not doing so well, so I won't make any idol promises. Essentially, as usual, I'll see ya when I see ya.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Winding Things Back a Notch

The past week and a half have been a whirlwind, but finally, things have settled back into some sembalance of normalcy. It won't be totally normal until Chris goes back to work in a couple more weeks, but for now, this is as normal as it gets.

I'll just take up where I left off...the trip to Wool Bay. After spending Saturday night at work, I hurried home, getting here at about 8AM. After a quick shower, some last minute packing, and getting Chris' car loaded up, we headed out at about 9:30. It took almost 4 hours to get there, after frequent fag and toilet stops, and a takeaway lunch in Ardrossan.

My take along knitting for the ride were the sleeves for my Welt and Rib Raglan jumper (Interweave Winter 08). I was almost finished with the first sleeve when we left. I knit on it until I was sure I was close to the length required, but having no really flat surface to measure it on, I just left it on the cord I was knitting it on, removed the needles, attached them to another cord and cast on for the second sleeve. As I was knitting them using the magic loop method, cord length wasn't all that important, except, of course, that it was long enough. It was easy car knitting in relatively simple rib, and as small as a sock really, so it was just about perfect.

We arrived in early afternoon, chatted with Chris' friends, Roger and Leslie, for awhile. They all went for a walk down to the water, but I, being rather exhausted by this time, stayed at the cabin and enjoyed about an hour of peace and quiet. I spent the time knitting on the Alpine Knit Scarf from Victorian Lace Today. When they came back, we fired up the bar-b-que and had a nice dinner, shortly after which I crawled gratefully into the bed.

The next morning the boys were gone when I woke up. They had taken Rogers boat out on the sea for a bit of a fish, leaving Leslie and I to our own devices. I find Leslie to be very good company. She's the kind of person who you can enjoy "comfortable" silence with. She's happy to chat, but equally happy to sit quietly, and I like that in a person. We chatted, did a bit of tidying, I knit on the lace during quiet moments, and the jumper sleeve during chats. Leslie read or chatted, and time just flew by.

The Great White Hunters returned from the ocean with two fish shortly after noon, both caught by Roger, and plenty of stories of fishing woe to tell. After only a little while, my dearest husband, true to form, was ready to roam again, so off we went in search of a conservation park he was interested in seeing. He had told me it was about 20 minutes away, but I should have known better. About an hour later, after traveling over halfway across the "foot" of the peninsula, and getting slightly lost once, we arrived at Carribe Conservation Park.

It was midafternoon, and quite hot for walking, so Chris struck off alone for a short walk around. Meanwhile, me and about 3 million flies all hell bent on my destruction stayed with the car. I tried to knit on my lace while I had the peace and quiet, but it's hard to concentrate on lace, or even knit for that matter, when you are constantly batting away flies.

We drove back to the cabin, showered and got ready to go into Edithburg where we had reservations for dinner at one of the pubs. It was a nice meal, and we went out for a walk on the jetty afterwards.

Everyone seemed to think a cappacino was a good idea, so we walked down to "The Garage", a coffee house/takeaway joint styled like a 1950's American Diner. As usual, I took my knitting along of course, and Roger snapped a picture of me knitting by the jukebox:

The rest of the night passed uneventfully. While everyone else had an early bedtime, I stayed up until nearly midnight, partly out of habit, and partly because I wanted to finish off that first sleeve. I had almost finished the ball of yarn on the second sleeve, and wanted to use the well over half a ball that was still attached to the first sleeve and would certainly be enough to finish off the second. From the looks of things, I'm not going to have much excess yarn from this project, so breaking a new ball seemed unneccessary.

We left fairly early Tuesday morning on our return trip. I knit on the second sleeve this time, and had it nearly finished by the time we got back to the house. Then it was a whirlwind of unpacking, washing, hanging out, ironing and putting things away.

On the way home, we had stopped by the post office. The Christmas package from my cousin Terrie was late, and even though it arrived right after Christmas, what with all the New Years holidays and us being away, the post office hasn't been open on days when we were able to pick it up. So we picked up the package and then headed home.

I forced myself to unpack and put most things away first, and finally allowed myself to dig into the package. On top was a hat for Chris. Beneath that was the most exquisite Civil War style ballgown, complete with hooped petticoat, hat and muff. I immediately started stripping right there in the dining room and tried it on. It fit like it was made for me.

Here I am outside by the roses in the dress only:

And here in the living room with all the accessories on:

It will just be so perfect for Winter Roundup in May, our big annual Western Action Shooting get together. There's a fancy dress ball on the Saturday night during the event, and I'd already began to worry about getting something together to wear to it, as everything I have like that is way too big. I never really had anything this grand to begin with. Needless to say, I'm stoked.

The rest of Tuesday evening was spent sorting things out, including my knitting. I was almost finished with the second sleeve on the jumper. The way the jumper is constructed, after getting the proper length of sleeve, you then go back to the lower body, pick up your stitches from your original crochet cast on and start knitting upwards, attaching the sleeves to the body in raglan fashion. All this, in a nutshell, meant that it no longer qualified as "easy take along work knitting", being both too big and frought with fairly complicated bits at this stage.

Turning to the ever so lovely Alpine Lace Scarf, I didn't even speculate. Much as I love it, and love working on it, it will never, ever be "easy take along work knitting". While I might have cherish some faint hope of "remembering the pattern" and "developing muscle memory" when I first started it, I have long since gave up on this fantasy. Frankly, I can't even listen to my iPod when knitting on it, much less watch TV or deal with the distractions of work. I keep it on a TV tray next to my bed, with the Daylight lamp on the nightstand, and to work on it I go into my "bedcave", my DO NOT DISTURB zone. Even Chris just sort of clears his throat and waits if he needs my attention while I'm busy with it. No, not work knitting friendly at all.

The result of all this speculation was that I needed a new project, and quickly. I had been thinking of casting on just a plain pair of toe up socks from some of the plethora of self striping yarn I have, and in the end, that seemed the best idea. I drug out the blue/black/grey/white Heirloom Jigsaw that I bought from my LYS here in Murray Bridge about a year ago, some 2.5mm needles and cast on some toe up socks, which I'm calling "Jiggy With It" in honor of the yarn. For the longest I did all my socks two at a time, but for ease and portability, I decided to go with just one sock at a time this go round. I had them cast on, and a bit of the toe shaping done by the time I had to go in to work Tuesday night.

Having sorted my knitting out, I worked Tuesday and Wednesday night. I was off Thursday night, but can't brag about getting too much done. I did work on the lace awhile, and the jumper, but with Chris around, it wasn't terribly easy to get much done.

Then back to work Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights.

The monotony of work was only broken by the visit of one of my Ravelry friends who is visiting the area from her home in Canada. She's from South Australia originally, and her mother still lives here. She, her mother and husband, stopped by on Sunday morning on their way back from a visit to Mount Gambier. I wish now that I had taken photos while they were here, but it seems I never take pictures when I should. But the visit was delightful, and I was so happy to get to meet her in person. For my Ravelry friends, her name on Rav is Handmadam. For privacy purposes (because I forgot to ask her permission to publish her name, NOT that she refused to allow it) I won't mention her given name here.

She did bring me precious pretties which I have taken pictures of. Beautiful fibre from Fleece Artist in Canada. I think she actually only intended to give me two out of three of these, but I oooohhh'd and awwwww'd so much about the green one she gave me that one as well.

The green one on top is kid mohair, and the other two are seacell and merino. Truly they are all three magnificantly soft. I'm trying to figure out now which I want to spin first. I'm thinking the more pastelly one, mainly because it's already unbraided. No better reason really. I love them all, but of course the green kid mohair best. My tendency though is to spin last what I love the most.

Tuesday Chris decided to make a run back up to Port Pirie and (initially) spend a couple of nights there, coming home Thursday. I was, of course, over the moon to have a couple of "free days" for spinning, knitting and doing whatever I pleased. I was overly optomistic, however. He was gone all day Tuesday, which was nice, but as I had worked Monday night, I was really too tired to enjoy myself. Wednesday and Thursday were going to be the really productive days.

Tuesday I set myself to work on the Welt and Rib Raglan, mainly it was easy enough to do sleepy and it was getting near to completion, or so I thought. You know how sometimes you think you are "almost done" with something, then keep knitting and knitting and knitting...??? That's sort of what happened. I knit on that thing most of the day, and I'm still not finished even as I write this, although I have made it to the collar shaping:

I might knit on it later today, and then, I might not. Hopefully, I will have it done by the next post. I'm running very close to being out of yarn, and just hoping I make it to the end without having to buy another ball.

Wednesday morning, I ran a few errands, and shortly after I got home had a call from Chris to tell me that he was cutting his trip short and would be home "late tonight". This was, to say the least, a bit disappointing. I had pretty much blown the morning as far as knitting and spinning were concerned, and I did have a couple of things I wanted to do before he got home.

I wanted to attempt the Navaho plying of the SCF I had spun up for that purpose, and I wanted to get the heel turned on the sock I am currently using for work knitting so it would be good to go Thursday night, and for both of these things, I wanted the peace and quiet of an empty house.

So I got busy on those two things, and essentially put off the Welt and Rib Raglan until after he got home. I got out the Ashford, and got started on the Navaho plying, which went better initially than I expected it to. I used the single of the "Deep Thoughts" colourway from SCFC. I'm sure it would have two plied fine, seeings how David's fibres always do, but the colours were so dark and subtle, I thought it would lend well to keeping those colourways more or less intact.

So after getting the plying started, I turned my attention to the sock, got the heel turn done and had started to pick up the gusset stitches. I figured I could go from there without any problem, even with distractions. So I put that aside and went to do a bit of work on the Alpine Lace Scarf, which is always a "do in quiet" project, but particularly so when I was adding a new safety line, since I had to remove all the markers, then replace them.

This is where everything started to go tragically wrong. In my survey of the lace that I tend to do every time I put a new safety line in, I noticed a big ole boo boo about four 16 row repeats back. I wish now that I had taken a picture of all this, but honestly, I was just not in the sort of mood where you even think about photos. Suffice it to say that one of the rows had went terribly pear shaped, causing the whole pattern to skew and then right itself again on the following rows. After blocking, it would have looked tragic, and I can't for the life of me figure out why I hadn't noticed it before.

So I had to frog back to that point, something I really really wanted to finish before Chris got home. I frogged it back to just before the error, then tinked back a row to get all the yo's accounted for. Back on the needles, I knit a row to get a safety line in, and then another row to replace the stitch markers. Sadly, it's almost back to the point that it was at when we finished the boat trip:

All should be well now, although I must admit I haven't knit on it any more, since Chris came home just as I was finishing the stitch marker row.

Chris got home at about 7PM, not the "late tonight" he had originally said, but then, I should know him well enough by now to know he will always be earlier than he said. Still, wishful thinking can go a long way towards deluding oneself. Ah well, another tick on the "Well crap" wall.

I was sitting on the couch, watching TV and listen to him tell me about his trip during commercials, when I finished the gusset decreases. I was at the point where all I needed to do was knit round and round up the leg. Perfect for work. I tried the sock on. "Well crap!" It didn't fit. Not just by a little bit. No, it was tight enough to curl my toes up.

So once again, I put on my frog face and starting ripping. Again, no pictures, and for the same reasons. But I ripped it all the way back to where I had started the gusset increases. Now, I'll need to knit another quarter inch or so length onto the foot, then redo the gusset increases, heel and gusset decreases.

It's frankly a bit of a bother, but then, socks that don't fit are pointless, so there really wasn't much choice. I will admit though, I did run through my mind who amongst my friends and family had smaller feet than me. In the end, I need the socks, and that was that. A frogging I must go.

So obviously, the afternoon did not turn out well. I can't say I was terribly amused by it all at the time, but in hindsight, all's fair in love and knitting. It is the first time I had to substantially frog back two projects in one day, and I really will die happy if there isn't a second time. But you know, one of the things I love about knitting is that no matter what, you get a "do over". I haven't ran across a mistake yet that frogging and redoing couldn't fix. If only life were like that.

Today is Thursday, and I have to go back to work tonight. Chris, when he announced he was coming home "late" Wednesday night, reassured me that he had "lots" to do Thursday and would "hardly be home" anyway. Well, he did go out to his friends boat this morning (he's trying to sell it) and clean it up for some potential buyers who are coming by this weekend. He was gone about an hour and half. And now, he's gone for a walk at a nearby conservation park. So he is trying to stay out of my hair.

My son sent me this neat UT (University of Tennessee) bag kit for Christmas.

It's a pattern and some quilted fabric to make a bag with. I just love it to pieces and I reckon it will make a really cool knitting bag, so I pulled out the electric sewing scissors around noon, only to find that it had been so long since I'd used them they had lost all their charge. So they are charging up as I type, and hopefully by the next post, I'll have a cool bag to show you. Or some quilted scraps if things go badly. At any rate, there will be something to show.

That's all I have for today. Till next time...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Boatie Bits and Knits

I wanted to throw a post in here before we left for our boat trip, and indeed, had much of a post done before we left. It was started, but not completed. So now, I'm doing some creative editing on the "old" post, and adding the unfinished and new bits. At the moment, time is not on my side, so if some of the edits make no sense, and if I'm sketchy and a bit brief, then I can only apoligize in advance.

With Christmas obligations and Chris on school holidays, my schedule has been packed full. I came home from work last Monday morning, showered, loaded up everything and left for the boat. We were on the boat until Thursday afternoon, back to work Thursday night. I work Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and then when I get home Sunday morning I'll shower, load up in the car and begin a three and a half hour car journey to Wool Bay. Wool Bay is a seaside resort community on the Eastern shore of the Yorke Peninsula. An old friend of Chris' has a cabin there, and we will be staying with him and his wife Sunday night and Monday night, returning home Tuesday in time for me to be at work Tuesday night. Such is my schedule at the moment. Consequently, this might look a bit hurried, and editing will be rough.

Now, to go way way back (or so it seems now) to the things going on before the boat trip. I'll get to the knitting bit eventually, but one thing I thought pretty exciting was that I actually had a raffle win. I was in the express line at the grocery store a couple of months ago, and the checkout girl asked me if I wanted to enter a raffle aiding in the support of the two new pandas they were getting (and have since got) at the Adelaide zoo.

I said "I'll donate two bucks. I'm a bit short on time".

She said, "Oh, the prizes are great, and I only need your name and phone number".

So I scribbled down my name and number, gave her a two buck coin and never thought another thing about it until I got a phone call from Woolworths. Even then, I didn't recall it immediately. The girl on the phone told me where she was calling from, and I really couldn't figure out why Woolworths would be calling me. Then she told me she needed my address because I had won $1000 worth of "gift cards" in the "Panda Raffle". Still, no bells are ringing, and my first instinct was it was one of those calls where they try to glean information and then rob your bank account or something. I figured there was no harm in giving her my address, as it's in the phone book anyway, but I was wary about giving her any more information. Thank goodness she never asked for anything more. She just started explaining to me what I had won. It was then that I finally remembered the Panda raffle, and started paying attention. At that moment I realized it wasn't a prank, since I hadn't thought anything about buying that ticket, much less told anyone about it.

After asking her to repeat what I had won, I started to get excited. Essentially, it was two $500 Wish gift cards that could be spent at any Woolworths or several associate stores. They arrived by registered mail a few days later:

Shortly after the phone call, I had called Chris to tell him the news. We had planned on buying a new digital LCD TV for Christmas, sort of one big thing for both of us, but we knew we'd have to put it on the credit card and pay it off. So he suggested we get the TV with the cards. We went shopping at one of the associate stores, Dick Smith Electronics, and got this lovely whopper of a TV (well, whopper compared to the 26in we had):

It's a 42in Sanyo LCD, the picture is beautiful, and we are enjoying watching all the new digital channels. Admittedly, with all our running around, and the utter crap that on TV this time of the year, I haven't had a chance to watch to much on it, but I'm sure I'll get my chance soon enough. The only problem is that I'm having a bit of trouble hooking it to the DVD/VCR player, but I really just haven't had time to figure it out. Something else for me to put my mind to when all the running is over with.

All in all, it was a nice little windfall, and helps us tremendously in planning and saving for our planned trip to Tennessee in late August. Chris has applied for the time off work. We still haven't gotten final approval back from the department, but it looks promising. We're planning as if it's a done deal.

Also, on one of my days off a few days before the trip, Chris and I went bushwalking in a nearby conservation area, and I managed to get a couple of shots I thought I would include here. It's a lovely spot. Chris goes there alot, and was anxious to show it to me, and I must say, I was impressed by the landscape, but not so impressed by the plethora of flies that abounded there. I was wearing my "fly hat" though, so all was well:

Notice too our handy new hiking poles. Chris, ever the ebay stalker, found them on there. Mine was originally supposed to be his, and came from China, but it was way to short for Chris, even fully extended, but perfect for me. He got himself another taller model:

I suppose I should mention Christmas in here too, although really, we didn't do much. I was off Christmas Eve night, and we went to Chris' parents for lunch the next day, then down to the beach for awhile, and then over to some friends of his for a few hours in the evening before I went to work. Unfortunately, I didn't have the foresight to take any pictures. I did, however, get one knitting related present that bears a mention and a picture here. My newest Christmas ornament, sent to me by my dearest mom. It's too cool for words, and I love it to pieces:

Sometime back before Christmas (honestly don't remember when) I got my latest installment from David at Southern Cross Fibre Club. It's quite lovely, and I plan on taking it with me to Wool Bay tomorrow, and hopefully get started on it there.

Now, for pics of my pre boat trip knitting. The only finished object to report on is the Honey Bee Socks in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Solids, which turned out to be very pretty. Sometimes pretty socks aren't terribly "wearable", but these certainly are, and I'm very happy with them:

Also, I took out some of my "early" homespun, a semi thick yarn made with some Border Leichestershire tops I got from Jane at Moseley Park eons ago and whipped up a quick little sock for my still very much loved iPod touch:

Here we have the Lacy camisole, which liked having the sleeves sewn on in this pic:

I did manage to get one sleeve sewn on, and the second sleeve started before we left for the boat, and even though I took it with us on the trip, it is still in exactly that same position. I never even took it out. I'm not even taking it with us to Wool Bay, as I'm traveling a bit lighter and know I'm not likely to get to it. I don't like sewing at the best of times, and I really don't like sewing away from home. It doesn't fit my "strategy" for getting seaming done. That is, I like to lay it out on the couch and just leave it there. That way, I feel obliged to stitch on it when I sit down.

Then there are those projects I did actually work on while away. I'll show a "before picture of them now, and save the "after" picktures for later on in the post. (I'm really trying hard for some cronological order here.)

The Welt and Rib Raglan done in Sublime merino silk and cashmere blend went with me as my . Here's a photo of it before we left:

Then there's my "pride and joy" WIP, the Alpine Lace Scarf from Victorian Knits Today book, made with Ixchel's merino cashmere laceweight 2ply in a lovely sky blue, or would that be ice blue?? Well, a very pretty blue anyway. It looked something like this before we left:

I took along Matilda, my Majacraft Little Gem spinning wheel. Before we left, I'd been spinning some of the roving I got from Southern Cross Fibre Club into one long single, and the plan is to Navaho Ply it.

The trip upstream on the Murray River was nice. We caught up with Chris' coworker Amanda and her husband Bob shortly after we left the marina in their little pontoon style boat, the "A'Salt":

We went up to the cliffs outside Mypolonga:

and moored in a shady area, but unfortunately the banks were a bit on the "weedy snaky" side, so we weren't able to get off the boat and walk around much. Amanda and Bob pulled the A'Salt in next to us:

We did a bit of swimming around when it got quite hot in the afternoon:

Unfortunately, my swim was cut short by this dang dead fish that was floating straight for us. I crawled back in the boat quick as a flash, but my hero tried to protect me from the beast by removing it from our swimming space:

We went a bit further up the river, to the other side of Mannum and moored there on the second day. Again, a nice spot. More swimming and such, but I must admit I spent the majority of my time on the boat knitting.

Amanda has an old spinning wheel, and likes to spin locks from her family sheep. I try to get her interested in prepared fibre, but she's more interested in the more rustic aspects of lock spinning. To each his own. But what she has been keen on is learning how to knit socks. She's a novice knitter, but she picked up the magic loop method in an instant, and with my help, set about knitting her first ever sock:

Matilda fit rather handily on the boat:

and at one time or another both Amanda and I took her for a spin. It was so nice to be sitting there spinning, rocking in the boat and watching the fish jump and listening to the birds sing.

On the third day, we headed back downstream, and stopped in the exact same place we had stopped at on the first day. It had gotten progressively hotter as the days went by, and this day was the worst. In the late afternoon, I actually had to stop knitting on the Welt and Rib Raglan for awhile, since my sweaty hands were felting the stitches.

Very early Thursday morning, more to beat the heat than anything, we were headed back to Murray Bridge. I found the best time for working on my Alpine Lace Scarf was while actually traveling, since Chris was busy at the wheel and Amanda and Bob were on their own boat. I took this picture of my progress on that final leg:

It is breathtaking and I love it immensely. I had alot of trouble getting started, having to completely frog it twice before successfully finishing even 20 rows, but eventually I got the hang of it. I'm also putting in lots of safety lines, which is easy to do with the KnitPicks Harmonys I'm using for the project. I'm using the method where I just pull the safety thread through the keyhole of the needle in my right hand. After all the running around and holidays, I'll do a bit of a mini tutorial on the method for those not familiar with it. At any rate, things are going much smoother now, and I've only had to use the safety line once so far.

After getting home, I took this picture of the Welt and Rib Raglan. I finished the lower body part. It had to be cast off using the sewn cast off method, and that took me literally hours to do all that many stitches. Then I cast on for the first sleeve and managed to get quite a bit of it done:

It's coming along quite nicely I think, and it is easy knitting, good to do while watching TV or chatting with others.

I didn't get as much spinning done as I thought I might, mainly because I was sharing Matilda with Amanda, but also because I was just feeling quite involved with my knitting. I did, however, manage to finish the bobbin I had started:

I still haven't plied it. I've decided to ply it on the Ashford, as I have the jumbo bobbin on there and (it seems) a bit more control while plying. That will have to wait till all this running is over with.

Well, that just about brings me up to speed. We leave out in the morning for two days on the coast. The Alpine Lace and the Welt and Rib Raglan are going with me. I'm also taking a ball of self striping sock yarn, and might (just might) start a pair of simple stockingnet stitch socks while we are away. The Raglan is getting a little big for carry along knitting this time of year, and will certainly be too big once I finish the second sleeve and start joining everything up. So I will soon need some simple carry along knitting to work on.

I'm now out of words and out of time. I'm only going to give this a quick once over, so pardon any imperfections. It's pretty much my bedtime, and if I don't want to be exhausted tomorrow, I'd better get my sleep today. I'll post again as soon as I can after we return. Till then....