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: http://books.google.com/books?id=rseR2LHP_6YC&pg=PA97&lpg=PA97&dq=diva+29+mohair&source=web&ots=tFX3mFBAG8&sig=byaSNjqbOj3h-8vQt2OCOgk75P4#PPA11,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...well...at least I won't today...