Monday, December 31, 2007

Off to the Beach

Tommorrow starts 10 whole days off from my normal paid employment. (Being female, I never say "Off work" since I tend to spend more than a few hours of my vaction time catching up on housekeeping and other chores). In about 3 more days, Thursday that is, we'll be heading off to the beach. We have rented a cabin on the ocean in Port Turton, South Australia, on the Yorke Penisula, for 3 nights. I simply can't wait.

As usual, I had my knitting projects planned well in advance for this adventure. I spent some time trying to decide just what I was going to take with me, but decided my "main project" for this free time in the sun will be a fairly simple cotton top, using the 8 ply cotton and a pattern I bought from Bendigo Woolen Mills during my last vacation. (Nice way to tie the vacations together, I suppose.) It's easy, almost entirely stockinette stitch, so 99% of it will be perfect for knitting on the long car rides or sitting on the beach, but with picot edging to give it a bit of a fancy touch. It's one of those tops you can wear alone or under a jacket or blazer. The color is a light pea green shade. Don't ask me the actual name of it, I really can't recall. Still, I reckon it will match up with lots of other colors.

When I'm sitting around knitting, non-knitters always make comments like: "You must be so patient to do that". Wrong! I don't think knitters are patient people at all. Doggedly persistent maybe, but not patient.

As mentioned, I had planned well in advance to work on this project during this vacation. Nevertheless, after finishing all my Christmas knitting, and having finished everything but the trim on the "Russian Blue Cat" scarf, I found myself at loose ends when it came to an easy, work on anywhere project. So, right before Christmas, I started casting on stitches for the cotton top. I reasoned with myself that it would be well and truly started and I wouldn't have to do all that pesky cast on, rib border counting stuff while in the car on the trip over. Yep, I convinced myself. Now, a week or so later, well, I have about a third of the front done already. That still leaves me alot to knit on while I'm gone, and I'm going to take my Alpaca jacket as well, but really, I had intended to save it.

What is it about knitting, really, that makes you more impatient to start a project than you are to finish one?

Speaking of the Alpaca jacket (I've posted pics of this project before, mentioned fondly in my UFO thread, I believe), I've finished the back, one front, and half of the other front. This is what I want to take just to switch up and give me a break from the cotton, as I much prefer working on Alpaca (or any wool) to knitting up cotton, which can be slippery and hard to keep tension on, at least for me. It is in a "counting" phase, as I'm shaping the front around the sleeve holes and the collar, so it will be great for quiet times when I can concentrate.

I might also take the "Russian Blue Cat" scarf, just to work the trim on, but that's a whole bunch of knitting up, and I'm not sure I'll have gaps of "concentration" time that big. We'll see. If nothing else, it might go along for the ride. I'd really like to finish it, cause it's going to my cousin in Texas, and I'd love to get it to her while it's still winter over there.

Knitting on the beach! I can't wait!!!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Ironing things out

I don't know if it's my ironing board, or just ironing boards in general, but I just cant seem to get any of the covers to fit right. I keep buying them, and they are either way too small, or they are usable, but big, and I have to scrunch them up under the "nose" of the ironing board and then wrap the excess material in a rubber band to get that all important "tight fit".

About a year, maybe more, ago, my friend Ang gave me a box of old material scraps her mom had left at her house. She knew I took these odd fits of sewing, and thought they might come in handy. Some of it was potentially usable, including a nice huge peice of organze, but frankly, a lot of it was hideously ugly stuff, looking like remnants from projects making kitchen curtains and such in the 70's, with big teapots and flowers and such on them. The only thing I had previously used a piece for was to put under my kitchen stove so it wouldn't rip or scratch the linoleum when it needed pulled out from the counter to get fixed.

When my old "rubber-banded to fit" ironing board cover bit the dust, I was ready to go out and buy a new one, resigning myself to the poorly fitting option. They are cheap after all. Just the cloth to make one would generally cost you more than the already "made in China" products. Then I thought of the "ugly kitchen fabric" that I had resigned to the "i'll probably never use" box in the shed. I drug it out and found the tolerable fabric which you can see in the picture. Besides, it's an ironing board cover, not a peice of clothing or curtains or anything you really need to worry about looks-wise.

I used the foam backing from the old cover, which I had already trimmed down to fit the "nose" of my ironing board better. I would suggest this, as the foam backing practically never dies, and as a form of recycling, it's good for the planet. I'm not the tree hugging sort generally, but really, foam takes a few eternities to break down in a landfill, so if it's not necessary to change it, I can see no reason why you can't reuse it.

But, if your old foam backing just won't do, you can buy 2 or 3 mm thick foam commercially. Find a place in your home with enough floorspace, lay the foam on the floor, turn your ironing board upside down on top of it. Trace around the edges and trim a bit. Easy as that.

The amount of cloth you need is pretty simple, just measure the length of your ironing board and add on about 5 inches (12 cms). Now, you can either make a template for your cloth cover, or just do what I did. Lay your cloth out on the floor, wrong side up, and again flip over your ironing board. Grab a peice of chalk (I'm a huge fan of common colored chalk for marking sewing projects). As my ironing board is about 2 ins. (5 cm) deep, and you have to allow for the seams, I marked the fabric with a little chalk dash every few inches all the way around the board at about 4 inches (10 cms) from the edge, paying special attention to the curvy bits. Then I just whizzed around connecting the dots with my handy dandy La Sarta electric sewing scissors (which works a dream, I hate cutting out).

I did have to purchase some thin elastic. I got 2-1/2 meters of the stuff, which for my ironing board worked out well, with quite a bit left over. Total cost from "The Bridge Agency", or habadashery here in Murray Bridge, was $.75.

I went round the fabric, ironed under about a 1/4 inch, then did the same all over again. Then I sewed down this doubled hem. I took out the elastic, stretching it out as I went, and sewed that over the hem all the way around.

VIOLA!!! My ironing board cover. I know, I know, it's not knitting....but for a change, other things can be fun too. And best of all, it actually FITS!!! When ironing, I'm not constantly trying to straighten out my ironing board cover. For me, that certainly makes it worth the effort.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Jessica's Scarf and the Christmas Delimma

When I started this blog, I had the intention of telling friends and family about it, so they could drop by here and check out my "creations"...particularly my family, most of whom are in the US..... sort of as a way for them to keep track of me. I didn't invite them over for a look right away, as it was more or less a work in progress, and I figured I'd wait until I had enough on here to make it vaguely interesting.

Then I realized: Christmas is coming. Time to knit those xmas pressies quicksmart. As most of these presents were destined for winter in Tennessee, hopefully to be stuck on or draped across a deserving family member, I thought it would be a bit difficult to be posting this work for them to see. Messes up the surprise factor on Christmas morning. So I figured I'd put off till the New Year any invites. With a couple of exceptions, I've done just that. Diddo that for work, with NO exceptions. I've recently started knitting up some bookmarks for workmates, and have purchased some cotton for a few washcloths. I reckon I need 7 or 8 in all, and with less than 2 weeks left, I have exactly 2 made so far. Ah well, I'll do my best. I have tonight off, and nothing urgent to do tomorrow, plus Tuesday and Wednesday off next week. Christmas shopping is all wrapped up, literally and figuratively. Hopefully I'll be able to turn out enough.

So, along with the 3 hats I knit up for my mom, aunt and sister mentioned in the earlier post, I also sent along in the package to Tennessee this scarf for my neice Jessica. She's a teen, so I went with the novelty yarn, some really stringy stuff from Lincraft. I used 9 needles and an off the cuff "pattern" which was really just the garter drop stitch (knit 4 rows, 5th row wrap yarn around needle twice, 6th row drop the extra wrap). I had seen a similar handmade scarf on a young girl I met here, and thought it looked great! I'm quite happy with the way this one turned out as well.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Three hats and a pattern

I made these three beanies as Christmas presents to send back to the states. Started out, I was just going to make one for my mom, but as it went so quickly and I had lots of yarn bits just perfect for the job lying around the house, I thought I'd make one for my sister and my aunt as well. I used different bits of yarn here and there, but basically, all were 12 or 14 ply wool yarn, and I used some of Spotlight's Yarn Bee novelty fur yarn to trim them in, which I picked up a couple of months back on sale for something like 1.49 per 50 g skein.

The pattern was very simple. I made them on straight needles and just put a seam in the back. I suppose that is sort of the cheaters way out when it comes to hats, but I find that if I'm careful with my seams, they really come out looking pretty darn good.

The pattern went something like this:
Winter Hats on Straight Needles:
Materials: 2 - 50g balls 12 (or 14) ply yarn

1 - matching novelty fur yarn

8mm straight needles

Cast on 70 stitches,

Knitting with one strand of 12 ply yarn and one strand of fur yarn:

Knit in 2x2 rib (1st row k2 p2 to end, ending with k2, 2nd row p2 k2 to end, ending with a p2, repeat these two rows for pattern) until work measures 9 cm.

Cut off novelty fur yarn, leaving a 6cm tail. Continue on in 2x2 rib, using only the 12 ply yarn until all of work measures 26 cm, ending with a purl row.

Begin shaping:

Row 1 : K2 tog, *P2, K2tog; rep from * to end. 52 stitches

Row 2 : P1, *K2,P1: rep from * to end

Row 3 : K1 *P2,K1: rep from * to end

Row 4 : As row 2

Row 5 : K1, *P2tog,K1: rep from * to end. 35 stitches

Row 6 : P1, *K1,P1: rep from * to end

Row 7 : K1, *P1,K1: rep from * to end

Row 8 : As row 6

Row 9 : K1, *K2tog: rep from * to end. 18 stitches

Row 10 : *P2tog: rep from * to end. 9 stitches

Cut yarn, leaving enough of a tail to pass thru the remaining stitches and also stitch up the seam of the hat.

Pass tail thru the remaining stitches, pull tightly and tie off, but DO NOT cut short. Sew in all ends. Then take the remainder of your very long tail, thread it into a yarn needle, and sew up the seam. Reminder: your fur area is going to turn up, so switch sides as your sewing the seam at the point of the fur, as to keep the ugly back of the seam out of sight.

Easy as! I don't often get to sit for 3 hours and just knit, but I reckon that would have been the sum total of my 15 minutes here and there it took me to knit these up!

Progress makes perfect

I'm rolling right along on the hood scarf for my cousin. So far, so good, although the real test I suppose will be to not get the back of the hat too pointy. As I'm planning to use the "three needle" join to join up the top seam, it could get a bit tricky, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

I've been taking notes as I go along, and will get the pattern on here in good time, assuming everything comes out the way I intend. Meantime, here are some pics of the progress made so far.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Russian Blue Cat grey

A couple of months ago my cousin Terrie had a look at my blog here and then told me about a hood scarf that she had bought in the early 80's in NY and lost over the years. She described it as the color of a Russian Blue cat. I shouldn't have been surprised by her description. She's always loved animals, even as a child. I remember her dream vocation was to be a "vet" when we were kids. She didn't wind up being a vet, but she does raise exotic and not so exotic animals, and makes a fair living doing it. So everythng relates to animals with her.

I did get a few laughs trying to describe the color I was looking for to the girls in my LYS's. Being springtime down under, the shops were'nt brimming with grey wool, Russian Blue cat grey or otherwise. I wound up ordering the yarn in the swatch above from my LYS here in the bridge. It's Natural Harmony, a New Zealand wool, and the color was the closest thing I could find to the pictures of Russian Blue Cats I found on the internet, despite how it might appear in the photo. (For some reason, my pictures have been coming out with a pink tinge lately...cheapo camera) It has a fabulous texture, even though it's not the warmest option I could find. Still, apparently warmth doesn't matter, so long as it makes her look like a young Audrey Hepburn. Of course, I'm a knitter, not a magician. Still, ya never know...

Soooo, never mind the UFO's. I'm going to start this baby tonight, by hook or crook. I'm just going to borrow a few ideas and then design this myself, so I'll post the pattern later, assuming it turns out allright.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

My Denise Needles

I got these babies back around June. I was quite frustrated. I had this pattern that required 100cm long circulars. I could find 40's and 60's and 80's, but could not find a single pair of 100's in any needle size, much less the ones I needed, anywhere in South Australia. I searched all the LYS's that I know of, both country area and in Adelaide. On the one hand, this was fun, as I had a few browses thru uncharted territory, but it was also rather frustrating because I was not finding what I needed. I extended my search to the internet, and when I did, I ran across these babies, sold out of the US, called Denise Interchangeable needles. I went to their home website and had a read and was most impressed. They are simply remarkable. The needle heads snap on rather than screw on like some of the other interchangeable sets, which means they are less likely to come loose during knitting. I have done practically all of my knitting for the past 5 months on them, (a considerable amount, I assure you) and they haven't come loose once. They also have tons of tricks you can do with them, which I won't go into hear but you can read about at the website if you are interested . You WILL be amazed, particularly if you buy some. I wish I'd known about them as a beginning knitter. The entire set cost me $95AU (the pink set is $5 more than the blue and that extra goes to breast cancer research). I could have saved heaps of money and time chasing down the various sizes of needles, straight and circular. One flaw I would point out for those of us who live in "metric needle" countries is there are no 7mm or 7.5mm sizes in the set. Otherwise, you get all sizes from 3.75 to 10mm, in virtually any length for circular that you could imagine. Anyway, I tracked down the only dealer of them in South Australia from the "shops that carry denise" section of the website. She only had an online business, no shop, and she lived about as far from me as you can go in this state without going bush, but I'm not known for my patience when it comes to getting what I want, so, with the business owners kind permission, I set off one morning after work and drove out to her home and picked them up. Never mind it would have probably only taken a couple of days to mail them :)

Anyway, love em love em love em. It was hard to get a picture of them as they are generally constantly in use, but the other day I finished a peice of a project and realized I had them all free, so I decided to snap a few shots while I had the chance, so I could show them off and crow about them on here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Summer UFO's

I've been working, more or less simutaneously, on the vest for hubby in Paton's Techno Fleece (a yarn discontinued with good reason) and a jacket for myself using two strands of Bendigo Wool's 100% Alpaca (a sensuous feast for fibre lovers). However, the season is upon us ...Christmas that is... so I have ceased work on these projects until further notice and have stored them for the summer, or at least part of it.
I have, at this stage, finished the body of the vest for hubby, and like only picking up a million or so stitches on fuzzy, ill tempered yarn to do the trim and thus finish the work. Fussy as this yarn is to work with, I would like to get done with this thing if for no other reason than to have the torture completely behind me. However, that is, at this stage, unrealistic. It won't be wearable for some months, and I daresay, at any rate, I could use a break from it.
The jacket is a pet project of mine, which I have mentioned earlier, with THE alpaca I fell in love with in Bendigo and still cherish to this day. I have finished the back and one side of it, and although it isn't pictured here, the other side has progressed to the point where I need to start decreasing it for the arm holes.
Now, however, the need to finish off some more urgently needed Christmas knits, such as the bookmark mentioned in the last peice, has persueded me to put these two beauties down and pick up the less impressive but quicker knittables. Also, on my trip to Bendigo I also picked up some cotton and a pattern for a summer top that would be more appropriate for the season. I reckon I might start it as a bigger project I can pick up in between Christmas projects. It would be nice to have it finished to wear this summer, and as I have a nice holiday-on-the-beach planned for January, that would be the perfect time to finish it off.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Easy peasy bookmark pattern

My friend Angie, not an avid knitter, gave me heaps of wool bits and peices a couple of weeks ago. Remember the nursery rhyme "Baa Baa Black Sheep, have you any wool"? Yep, you guessed it: three bags full. Now, for the most part, I'm a big project girl. My knitting is sort of an extension of my sewing, and I prefer to make clothing. Of course, a colourful variety of bits and peices are just dandy for sewing up fuzzy knits. It beats buying a whole ball of yarn just to do the stitching together. However, after I finish this project of Chris', I'm going to attempt to avoid the furs and the eyelash for awhile.

Anyway, Christmas is sneaking up on me, so it occured to me that some of this yarn would be good to use to make either Christmas decorations or little presents, such as bookmarks. I looked at various bookmark patterns on the internet, but they were either too complicated for a lazy knitter like me and sort of "doily-ish", or I just didn't like the looks of them.

So last night I decided to come up with something on my own. Something quick and easy but attractive. I drug out the "three bags full" and dug out some gold 8 ply cotton (at least that's what it appeared to be, there was no label) and a pair of 3 1/4 mm needles. What design would be easier than a cross? Nothing, I reckon. Perfect for the Christian friends and rellies. (I would have posed the finished bookmark with a bible, but I realized I don't own one. What a heathen I am!)

Anyway, here's what I came up with:

Guage: not terribly important. Whatever you get using 3 1/4 needles and 8 ply cotton will be fine. I would warn against dark colours, as the cross pattern is somewhat subtle and the darker the colour, the less well it will show up.

c/o 19

Rows 1-3: knit

*Row 4: k2, purl 15, k2 (purl row)

Row 5: k* (knit row)

Repeat from * to * (rows 4 and 5) until work measures appx 7 cm, ending with a row 4 (purl row).

Cross pattern:

Beginning with a knit row:** k8, p3, k8

Purl row: k2, p 15, k2**

Repeat these two rows 12 times, ending with a purl row.

Row 13 (of cross pattern): k4, p 11, k4

Row 14: k2, p15, k2

Row 15 to 18: Repeat rows 13 and 14 twice more.

Row 19: k8, p3, k8

Row 20: k2, P15, k2

Row 21 to 24: Repeat rows 19 and 20 twice more.

Row 25: k

Row 26: k2, p15, k2

Row 27: k

Row 28: k2, p2tog, p to last 4 st., p2tog, k2

Repeat rows 27 and 28 until there are 5 stitches left.

On last 5 stitches: k one row, then on next row k2tog, p1, k2tog

On last 3 stitches: k3tog.

Leave a tail and do what you like with it. I did about a 4 cm crochet chain with it, but you might have other ideas.

There it is! Possibly the easiest bookmark ever.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Coconut Ice Blues

Almost a year ago, I did one of those impulse Ebay buys. It's called Wendy's Coconut Ice. I have no idea of how long it has been discontinued, but I'm guessing a few years as I can find practically nothing about it on the internet, least of all a pattern for it, and the ball bands are a bit aged. It's a funny "feeling" yarn too, soft but slick to the touch. You can really feel the slickness as your knitting. I knitted up a guage square months ago so that I could perhaps find a pattern to match the guage, which using 4.5mm needles got me 17 stiches to 26 rows, spot on what the ball band says it should be. (A phenomenon that doesn't seem to happen to me often).

Anyway, I got 10 50g balls of turquoise with white flecks and 3 balls of off white with a slight bluish tint to it. It's absolutely georgeous, but I haven't a clue what I'm going to do with it still. I'm open to any suggestions at this point.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Birthday shopping spree No. 2

Saturday, a bit over a week ago, I went on my second birthday shopping spree, to spend my $100 Spotlight gift certificate given to me by my hubby. I absolutely love gift certificates. They practically FORCE me to shop, since it's not money I can save or use on bills. Pure, guilt free indulgence.

Going to Spotlight, I had a plan. They had electric sewing scissors on sale, marked down from 80 to 40 dollars. Too good a deal to pass up. I've sewn for myself longer than I have knit, but knitting has been taking up so much of my time recently, I haven't really applied myself to my knitting.

There was also some wool, around a 12 ply 100% pure wool. It was a spotlight Basics brand, but quite nice, soft stuff on sale for $2 a ball. The plan was, I would see if I saw anything else interesting, and spend the balance on this wool. The trouble was, however, I had no idea of what I would make with it. I probably do have patterns around for a similar wool, but nothing came to mind right away, which meant that even if I did have a suitable pattern, it wasn't anything that had caught my notice.

I went to the Spotlight on Rundall Mall in downtown Adelaide because I had other things I wanted to shop around for in the city. Of course, I found the scissors and then went straight for the yarn section, which is whittled down this time a year as some silly fools think there is a "season" for knitting. Bahhhhh. Anyway, they had Moda Vera Sentiments, which is a 12 ply brushed mohair, marked down to clear, for $2 a skein. I was stoked. I bought 24 balls, 12 in a greyish purpleish mix, and 12 in a very pastel pinkish, bluish, yellowish mix. It's all quite nice, and I have some copied patterns for either a jumper or cardigan using 12 ply mohair.

So, I happily walked out with the scissors and the mohair. Another satisfying yarn shopping adventure. Now, it's another whole year till my birthday again :(

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Stash

Yesterday, I was feeling froggy and decided to clean up my guest bedroom, which has also, by default, became the home of my stash and knitting paraphenalia. But before I cleaned, I decided to organize, and while organizing, I took this picture of my stash.
Perhaps things are getting a tad out of hand. Really, this doesn't include various peices of balls of yarn that I have tucked away here and there. There's also about 20 balls, perhaps more, of acrylics tucked away somewhere as well. I like using acrylics on "around the house" rugs and afghans. All in all, a tidy collection, and if nuclear war hit tomorrow, I'd have plenty of knitting to keep me busy during my years in the underground bunker. Now if only I had an underground bunker. Ah well.
I reckon this indicates that I should probably start buying less and knitting more, but the world is blessed with such a myriad of yarns, and each has it's purpose under the sun. I do have plans that go along with most of it. Most of it, but not all. Some of it was bought because I loved it, and I figured an idea would come along eventually to match the yarn. Kind of a "Field of Dreams" approach. If you build it, they will come.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Birthday shopping spree No. 1

As I mentioned in a previous post, I recieved several gift certificates for my birthday. One was for 50 dollars for any coles myers store, and I wound up buying some floor mats to match my new "Frangi Pangi" carseat covers ($30), and used the rest, plus a little extra from my pocket, to buy a new webcam, both purchases at Kmart.

The other was a $50 gift certificate to my favorite LYS (local yarn shop). Wasting no time, I spent this one about 3 days later, which was the quickest I could manage being in the city past 9am. My mission, once I got there, was to buy yarn I needed for a pattern I found in a library book back probably 6 months ago. It called for no less than 4 different types of yarns and a total of 6 colors. (yes, it's striped, but I prefer to call the stripes "rows" of different colors and textures). It's listed on a sample of the patterns in the book on google books. I've been trying to get a picture over from the website, with no success, so here's the link to the website where it can be found:,M1

This link gives you several patterns from the book. The one I'm planning to do is the one entitled : Hudson's Bay.

Anyway, I bought the yarn for it with my gift certificate, plus a bit from my pocket. It was a fabulous hunt for different yarns that might look well together colour wise plus would match the same guage while knitting. The only thing I had bought so far was the loopy mohair. I had thought at first to get the yarns a couple here and a couple there, but really, that makes combining the colours a bit hard. Anyway, my shopping results are pictured.

Christian's Furry Jacket

I made this jacket for my youngest grandson Christian, who lives in the US, but after seeing him on web cam recently, I'm just hoping it's big enough for him! I found the wool for a bargain at Spotlight a few months ago. It's Bella Baby Parade, and possibly the softest (in a slick way) fuzzy wool I have ever came across. The pattern is from the Spotlight yarn catalogue fall/winter 2006/2007, and it's a pretty easy pattern. The hardest thing in it are some short rows in the hood for shape around the collar area. Otherwise, it's ordinary stockingnet stitch with standard increases and decreases for shaping. Because of it's slickness, I didn't have as tragic a time with knitting it as I often do when working with fuzzy yarns. I reckon the worst problem I had, as I do with most fuzzy yarns when working in stockingnet, is keeping track of the RS/WS thing when actually making up the garment. I generally thread a string of different colour yarn thru the middle of the work and tie a big ole bow on the RS to make it more obvious. The buttonholes are fiddly on fuzzy yarn too, and often hard to find. At any rate, I completed knitting this a couple of months ago, but finally finished putting it together a couple of weeks back, and I'm reasonably pleased with the results.

Free time restored

Well, hubby is back to work now and my free time has been restored to me. As a teacher, he's off work frequently for all the school holidays, while I get no such luxuries in health care. He does try to give me my space during his holidays, but it's just not the same as knowing I have 8ish hours a day, 5 days a week to come home in the morning to an empty canvass and then paint my day as it suits me. That's always been my way. I'm full on at work, or pretty much any time I'm around people, but for my sanity I've always needed my "down time" as I call it, when the world is locked out. Working night shift makes that easier, as other's are all at work or school during the day. For me, it's one of the main attractions of night shift.

I had every intention of using my two days off this past fortnight to teach myself how to spin on my new wheel, but it was not to be. Hubby likes to go when he's off work, so we went over to the coastal town of Victor Harbor, by way of Goolwa, which is a river town near the mouth of the Murray. Hubby wanted to see what the recent drought has done to the river levels there, but alas, it was a very windy day, and hard to judge the real river levels, as the direction of the wind was pushing the level up. Still, we had a great time, and I found a bunch of old knitting pattern books at the op shops there. I'll copy what I like out of them eventually, and then resell them on Ebay in the fall (when knitting things sell best). Or that's the plan anyhow.

I broke tradition and took my "on the couch" project with me on this trip. I simply couldn't face the fuzzy techno fleece I'm making his vest out of (see last entry for the horrific details). So I worked with my alpaca, and it was quite relaxing and enjoyable. I love to knit while hubby drives, as I can concentrate on my knitting better than when I'm distracted by the TV or the goings on in my living room. I got quite a bit done on the way there and as we made our way from place to place, but of course, on the way home I mainly looked thru the pattern books. An amazing day really. The temperature was a comfy 25 or so, with a nice breeze. The ocean was crystal blue, and a joy to behold as I worked my needles.

Yesterday was hubby's last day of holidays, and we headed up river to check the river levels there, making it as far as Swan Reach. I've mentioned earlier, I have a UFO, a scarf I'm making for my neice for Christmas. I took this project with me on this trip, and finished it, or at least, finished everything but weaving in the end peices, which I will do soon, and then I'll get a photo. I made the scarf with the most incredibly difficult yarn I could find, some novelty yarn from Lincraft, which had three different types of yarn wound in and about a center yarn, with bits hanging off at regular places. I did a simple garter drop stitch on it, but it was still a mess to work with, which is essentially why it remained a UFO until now. After torturing myself with this stuff for the first couple of hours of the trip, I finally finished, and turned to the fuzzy vest, which seemed like smooth knitting in comparison.

Last night, while watching the absolute worst episode of Australian Idol it has ever been my misfortune to watch, I worked on the vest, bringing me very close to being finished with the back, which of course means I'm almost halfway done. Yippeeeee! I think I've about come to the mind that the quicker I finish this thing, the happier I will be. So I'm going to try to knock out the back before I leave for my meeting and this work this evening. Then I can start the frount, and have a much smaller peice of cloth to carry around with me. The back of the vest had gotten so big I had to move it out of Shelby (my sheep knitting bag) and into a cloth shopping bag.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Rib woes and and photo finishes...

Before I start, I will explain a couple of things. I usually have two projects going at all times. One of them is "on the couch" which literally means what it says. It's what I'm knitting on at home; what I can pick up when I plop on the couch to catch a few minutes of TV or talk to hubby. It's what I don't need to finish anytime soon, and so can work on carefully, contentedly, and at my leisure. It's also often what will be the biggest, or the most uncomfortable to tote around with me. Working off two balls does make for a headache when your toting it around. Right now, on the couch, is the Bendigo Alpaca Jacket, knit with two strands of different color alpaca that I mentioned in an earlier post. What I didn't mention is that it is done entirely in 4 x 2 rib stitch. I hate rib stitch of any kind, but most particularly the uneven ones. And I have trouble with my guage in rib. The switching back and forth doesn't agree with me. I reckon though those little imperfections are what makes handknits unique. Yeah, I'll go with that.

So WHY did I pick this pattern again? Oh yeah! It was the only one I found that I really liked that allowed me to make one jumper with two colors without resorting to stripes. But Uggggghhh, the rib is killing me.

The second project I have going is "in the bag", which (again, quite literally) means I carry it around in my bag with me. This is usually the easiest of the two, as distractions are more common away from home, and errors harder to fix. My knitting bag is sheep shaped and I call him Shelby. I got him at Spotlight for 12.95 and he goes everywhere with me. He has a zipper, which I don't like in a knitting bag...but he's just soooo cute...I can make allowances.

Anyway, in the bag right now is the vest for my husband (dark blue, Paton's techno fleece). And guess what, it's a rib pattern! 2 x 2 rib. At least it's even, but that doesn't even begin to make up for the fact that it's furry AND it's knit on 4mm needles, which is just way to small to be knitting anything furry on, but are the size the pattern calls for, and actually the size the yarn says is appropriate. The thread jams up around my needles and drives me banana's, and TINKing is a headache of massive proportions. Just counting stitches is a bother, as the furry stuff makes 2 look like 1 or 1 look like 2. Add to that, it's difficult to see the pattern as you are knitting. Once it started going, you could see the pattern in the finished cloth, but AS your knitting, it's really hard to see what is a knit, and what is a purl. I've actually put a marker every 20 stitches (it's 110 stitches across, hubby being a big man) so I don't have to count all the way back to the beginning to see what comes next. I know that after the marker is always a 2 purl stitches, and I reckon that has saved me heaps of time. Anyhow, it's a major pain, and I reckon that's one of the reasons I chose it as my "in the bag" project. If I'm stuck out there in the mean cruel world and need to knit, if it's all I have it's more likely to get done sometime this century.

Which is why it was almost a relief when I realized I only had a week to get a baby jumper ready for a workmate who is leaving on her maternity leave soon. For some reason I'd been thinking I had until the end of November. She knows she's having a boy, so I pulled out my old unused blue velvet flake and the pattern I used to knit the pink jumpers for my granddaughter and my other workmate a few months back. I modified it somewhat. I used the version with no 4 ply trim like I did for the other workmate, plus I left off the lap over and the button hole. While it's a bit plain, it looks cool, and you don't need all the frills for little boys anyway. I won't include a pic cause there are already the ones on here of the pick versions. Plus I'm just too lazy to go take a pic and download the camera right now.

So making that took me away from the rib for awhile, but now that it's done, I reckon I'm facings weeks of rib for awhile. I will be a good girl and not start anything else for at least I won't today...

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Special Birthday edition

Yesterday was my birthday. Never mind which one. Let's just say that most cars my age are "classics".
We went to my inlaws during the morning, where I got my presents, which were all pretty much spot on. My inlaws got me a 50 dollar gift certificate to any Coles/Myer store, which includes Kmart, Target, Officeworks, etc. That is indeed handy, and it's possible that I might get knitting stuff with it, although more likely I'm thinking I might get a new webcam. Even better, my inlaws also got me a $50 gift certificate to my favorite LYS, the Yarn Barn!!!! While I would have been perfectly happy to have the whole $100 at the Yarn Barn, I'm quite happy with the 2 separate ones. Besides, I'll probably wind up spending a hundred in there anyhow.

My husband, not to be outdone, got me a $100 gift certificate for Spotlight. I'll probably hold on to this one until after Xmas, or spend it on fabric and stuff for sewing, as my local Spotlights cut their yarn section drastically this time of year, and it stays that way until after the holidays. Oh, who knows. I can while away half a day in a Spotlight without even trying, and there's no telling what I'll wind up with.

Non knitting related gifts were: Beautiful flowers and some car seat covers and floor mats in a lovely "frangi pangi" pattern, yellow to match my car from my hubby, a lovely silver bracelet from my oldest son, and a whole box full of goodies from my mom too numerous to mention.

All in all a great day.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

ABC's-Alpaca, Bendigo, and Confusion

Last school holidays I talked my hubby into a midwinter trip to Bendigo, Victoria. For those not "in the know" (meaning non-knitters) Bendigo is the home of Bendigo Woolen Mills, a super cheap source of super good fibers. Regular priced Alpaca there is only $15 for 200gms, fabulously inexpensive while maintaining some of the very highest quality. If I sound like an advertisement for the place, so be it. It's indeed a marvelous find. There are three ways to buy from Bendigo Woolen Mills. One is to visit their website at: , the second it to find your way to Bendigo itself, where they maintain a small shop alongside their mill that sells their product and has the added, and most glorious, bonus of having a "bargain room", which is nirvana for knitters. The third is to buy "Heirloom" wool at grossly inflated prices at your LYS (and even then, I'm not sure that all "Heirloom" wools are made at Bendigo, so buyer beware). Now, I love buying online as much (my hubby would say MORE) as the next gal, but I love touching wool. I love smelling it. I love being in the same room with it. While I do, on occasion, pick up a bit of cheap wool on Ebay, I generally prefer the "hands on" approach to wool shopping, so it has to be a heck of a bargain to entice me to buy wool online. Of course, now that I have been to nirvana, felt, tasted and teased their wares, I will most certainly, at some time in the near future, buy from them online. But I had to actually GO THERE first.

Anyhow, back to the trip. My hubby, being a teacher, had the whole two weeks of school holidays off, and he wanted to GO somewhere. He's like that. He loves to GO. Being in 24/7 healthcare, I get no such lengthy holidays, but I did manage to get 4 consecutive days off, a small miracle. He said "Where do you want to go?" and without my usual hesitation, I said "Bendigo". Now, being a manly man, he was not terribly impressed with driving 6 hours or so to shop for wool. He is, however, uncommonly indulgent where his wife is concerned, a trait of his to which I have grown quite fond. He did, however, ask that we based ourselves a couple of hours away in Ballarat, which has nice historical sites that he loves so much. Having reached our compromise, we set out to Victoria.

To make a long story short, I had an absolutely marvelous holiday. It snowed our first day in Ballarat. Being from the Northern Hemisphere, I miss snow, and it was really great to see it again. I found a pair of vintage natural emerald earrings to DIE for, a great canister set that exactly matches my kitchen marked down from $130 to $85 at Bendigo Pottery, and I found a restaurant with the very best salad I've eaten in Australia. Hubby lost, and miraculously found his wedding band, and all things went uncommonly well. All this was well and good, but the absolute highlight of my trip (as it should be) was Bendigo Woolen Mills. In their bargain room, I found Alpaca for $3 per 50 g. ball. I bought two shades, a shade called pistachio and another called oceania. I bought 14 balls of oceania and 12 of pistachio. I also bought some 8 ply cotton for 1.50 a ball, another great deal, but I'll get to that another day.

I think, at the time, I was planning to make smaller things out of them. I don't really remember. The only numbers I was concentrating on was $3 a ball! I remember thinking the two would look nice together, but I really don't like simple two color stripes, and I don't like actually doing any kind of fair island or intarsia. Well, anyhow, somewhere along the line I decided I wanted to make me an Alpaca cardigan or jacket.

The great hunt was on!!! I was looking for the perfect Alpaca worthy pattern. I searched my pattern books/leaflets/cards, the pattern books for sale on Ebay, free online patterns, you name it. Trouble was, I didn't have enough of either color by itself. I considered ordering more, but of course there's the dye lot issue. So I decided to put it on the back burner until something presented itself.

Now, there's a LYS in Adelaide that I don't particularly like, so I won't name it. While the stock is quite extraordinary, the service is dreadful, and the staff quite rude. Consequently, I've only been there a few times. I guess I keep hoping I'll get treated better the next time, but so far no luck with that. Anyway, while in there, I picked up a pattern book called Hurry Knits by Patons. It's a current, readily available book, and I'd seen it around. The patterns use 2 strands of 8 ply yarn knitted together to make quickly knitted womens garments. For some reason, it dawned on me, at that moment, that this was a solution to my problem. I flipped thru and I found a jacket pattern that required 24 balls, and it was exactly what I had been looking for stylewise. Even bigger miracle, it went up to my size! BINGO!! One strand Oceania, one strand Pistachio. I mix the yarn without stripes. I'm guessing it's gonna look awesome.

We will know soon enough. Even though I'm only about a 1/4 way thru my current project, a vest for hubby, and I have 1 1/2 (half done with one) projects for my grandsons Jr. and Christian to stitch up, I will start the Alpaca worthy garment as soon as I get off this computer. The vest is in fuzzy yarn anyway...I need a break.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Age and colors and things

I'm starting to feel old. Most days, hard to believe that I'm 40something. Doesn't even feel real. But then I find myself in the company of younger knitters, while looking at blogs or forums or whatever, and I reckon I'm showing my age. I do not like the hand dyed, striped or varigated multi-bright-colored wool. There, I said it. A confession indeed. Okay, it's not that I don't like any of it for it's asthetic value, some of it is quite stunning. And I might even use some someday to make things for the granddaughter or younger females in my family. I have found a few patterns that look nice with it, but most of it would look downright silly on me. I will concede that perhaps it is as much taste as age, but then I do fall back to remembering wearing outlandish bright colored toe socks in the 70's when I was a teen, and I start thinking it's age again.

But when I look for hand dyed wool, it's practically ALL I can find, which is annoying. Even on the racks in the LYS, in some types of wool it is all that I can find. I've knitted a couple of items for the babies in varigated wools (though not hand painted). One, the set for my grandaughter featured in a previous blog, had a good result, but the different colored sections were only a couple inches long each. When those sections get longer, I have great difficulty with the pooling, or in the case of a jumper I tried to make, matching sleeves.

I have my spinning wheel now, so I suppose (once I figure out how) I can start spinning solid colours, or at least toned down muted shades. Actually, I hear that natural dyes made from plants and such give great "earth tones", which suits me very well, so when I actually get to the stage of dying some wool, I might try that. But there have to be people out there in the dying world who feel as I do. I just haven't found them yet.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Work in progress + today's recap

Well, I'm still sick. Work is out of the question until Friday, per Dr.s orders. So I pottered around here all day. I spent much of my time working on this blog, mainly trying to upload some pictures on here so that I can show off my work. But I also managed to find a home in the bay window for the spinning wheel. I haven't done much else with it. It's a new skill I want to learn, and I'm not feeling at my best. I'm afraid if I start trying to spin when I feel so bad, I will make a mess of things and become frustrated with it, so I'm putting it off a day or two until, hopefully, my health is back on track.

In the meantime, I managed to pick up 179 stitches and make a border around the hood of the childs jumper I'm making for my oldest grandson today. I only like cleaning up the edges and then making it up. I would have gone ahead and made it up tonight, but instead I decided to get a start on my husbands vest so that I will have something to be knitting on, in case of emergency you know. Anyway, I included photos above. One is on the couch earlier today whilst knitting the hood edging, and the other is this evening on the guest bed, and the lighting is crap in the second shot, but you get the idea.

I do have a scarf I'm knitting for my neice, but it's 3/4 done and a super simple stitch, and I reckon I'll save it for times when knitting without thinking is required. A half hour to hour of steady knitting would see it finished anyway.

My hubby popped the "I would like a vest" on me as a surprise a few days ago, but in a way, it turned out well. As any good wool addict, I buy yarn and pattern books, sometimes on a whim and with no real plan for it's use. When he mentioned that he wanted the vest he said "but not dressy, no sleeves, and not tight at the neck, like a V neck" and I pulled out a Paton's Techo Fleece pattern book (bought on ebay about 5 months ago) and showed him a pattern and he said "Yes, that's it, but in a navy blue" so I went in the stash and pulled out 10 balls of navy blue Paton's Techno Fleece (also bought on ebay about 3 months ago for no other reason than I had the book and it's a discontinued yarn). I took his measurements and the amount it would take for him guessed it...10 balls. So I reckon it's meant to be. Plus, it served the purpose of showing him that buying ahead can, and does, pay off. I probably won't tell him anytime soon how big a coincidence that all was.

So, cheers for today. I'm going to upload the pictures of todays work and then go veggie on the couch and watch mindnumbing TV till I fall asleep. Hubby has a late meeting, and things are that quiet around here, so I'd better take advantage of it.

Finished Projects: Hat trick

Just a super simple little hat. I got the pattern from Spotlights Get Creative Fall/Winter 2007 magazine. It's made with Moda Vera Crave yarn...about a 14 ply a reckon. I actually made two of these, one for me and one for my hubby. The turned out well enough, and to date, it's the only thing I've made my husband that he wears with some regularity.

Finished projects: Howdy pardner...

Here I am at the shooting club in my poncho. My other hobby is Western Action Shooting, which is essentially where a bunch of us dress up in late 1800's fashion gear and shoot an assigned sequence at various targets. Fun and dandy! Incidently, I WON the shotgun in the picture here at a big shoot last May called the "Winter Roundup".

But back to the poncho. I bought this collection of patterns at a garage sale a couple of years ago. This is the first and only thing I've made out of it. I'm not sure about copywrite here, so I'll err in the way of caution. But it's a very simple pattern, using 3 strands of yarn together. You switch the colors around, which is fun. For instance, you would knit a few rows using 3 strands color A, then you would knit a few more using 2 strands of A and one of B, then a few more using 2 of B and 1 of A, then 3 of B, then 2 of B and 1 of C and so forth.

Much fun knitting, and the triple strands make for one super warm, almost waterproof, poncho. I used Cleckheaton Country 100% wool for the project.

Finished projects part 1 baby bits

The picture on the left is blankie, jumper and headband in Wendy's Velvet Flake and Sirdar Snuggly trim that I knit up for my first and only granddaughter who was born this past May, Kaitlyn Marie. The leaflet pattern used is actually for Sirdar's "Confetti", but the swap was a successful one. I had a couple of balls of this yarn left over however, as it's a lighter yarn than Confetti, but that made it just perfect to whip up this little jumper (right), minus the trim, for a girl I work with who was about to go on maternity leave. Thanks to modern science, we knew it would be a girl, so it was a perfect way to use my extras, and the mommy to be (now the mommy in fact) was thrilled with it. The pattern is copywrited, alas, or I would share it as well.
While knitting this little jewel at work, a coworker fell in love with the Velvet Flake. It is super yummy soft. She asked if she bought the wool if I would make her up a jumper, and I agreed. What knitting addict could refuse a free knit? I finished it recently, and I'll make a picture and post it on another page.

Monday, September 17, 2007

September 17th, blogging, day 1

I wanted to start a blog to talk about, and showcase my knitting and perhaps some other tidbits of my life. Pictures, they say, are worth a thousand words...but I'll still probably use a thousand words. I do that. I ramble. I will attempt not to, if only so my readers can be amused at how badly I fail.

But first, it's Monday the 17th of September. I'm not feeling well right now, chesty and my throat hurts and I am, generally speaking, perfectly miserable. Besides knitting and other wooly pursuits, I also shoot firearms competitively, and yesterday was an interclub match. I had to forfeit halfway thru (not that I was doing all that well anyhow) and go home. The weather was horrendous, and my breathing had reacted by attempting to shut down. Not good, so I came home. While recuperating from this reminder that asthma + upper respiratory infection + wet cold weather = disaster, I got on ebay, looked up a spinning wheel in Christies Beach that I'd been watching, and bought it in a last minute bidding frenzy. I "won" (don't you love that term, it almost implys you don't have to pay) an Ashford Traditional single drive spinning wheel, plus a lazy kate, four bobbins, carding combs and even a basket of woolie bits included for $121.00, which I figured was a good deal. I don't really know that for sure, but I do know they go for much more than that new. Now all I have to do is figure out how to use it.

Today, I still felt horrible. I called in to work tonight, and I cancelled a club event I was taking a friend to. I plopped in the computer chair and basically farted around all day. For those who thing I might be better off lying down, I must add that I cannot breath in the horizontal position.

Anyway, early on, on the puter, the folks I got the spinning wheel from contacted me and for some reason I found myself telling them I would pick it up today. They didn't push me, or harrass me, or even suggest it. Nope, it was all me and this damnable addiction to all things woolie. So late this afternoon, I drove what amounted to a 2 1/2 hour round trip to get the spinning wheel, which is now sitting in my living room. I've checked it over for warts, gave it a spin, checked the nuts and bolts, and everything seems to be in order, but after getting home with it, I'm just too exhausted to concentrate on trying to learn how to use it, so I will deal with that tomorrow, if I'm able to think by then, which is questionable.

My husband, in the meantime, is looking at it as if it is some strange beast that has invaded our home. Perhaps he's right.