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.