Friday, December 26, 2008

The Post Christmas Post

Well, here it is, the day after Christmas. Boxing day in South Australia. While the rest of the country tears apart the shops to get the after Christmas bargains, outdated laws and the retail workers unions keep the shops closed and things pretty quiet here in SA. Tomorrow will be the big "shop-a-thon" here, but I have to work tonight, and probably won't attend. No biggie, I'm not big on crowds and meyhem anyway.

I'll deviate off the normal knitting path here for a minute to post my Christmas pictures and pressies. We had a small Christmas lunch at home this year, with only Chris' mom and dad attending. I was happy to have it here, frankly, because I worked all night Christmas eve and it meant not having to go anywhere. There was a weeks worth of cleaning to get the house in shape, which needed done at any rate. Sort of a spring cleaning a bit late. But the day arrived, I was proud of how my house looked, and happy to be home.

The table looked nice:

And on the kitchen table I set up a (very) few munchies:

The inlaws arrived at about noon, and we ate right away.We had a pretty conventional dinner, with turkey, ham, veggies, roast spuds, and Pavlova for dessert. I've been on a diet for a couple of months, and have lost almost 11 kilograms, so I took it easy during the meal, but the others seems to enjoy everything.

Then we opened presents. I had a huge box of things to open from mom and the rest of the family in the states, and a smaller package from my cousin in Texas, plus there was all the presents between Chris and I, and his mom and dad.

The inlaws opening presents:

Me with my John Deere tray from Aunt Pat (it's a sentimental thing ;):

Chris getting ready to rip into one (isn't he "chillin"?):

Me with a handful of goodies:

My fantastic leather gauntlets to wear when shooting Western Action, from my cousing Terrie Lynn in Texas:

Here's Chris modeling his new shirt from Mom:

Me wearing my new shorts and top outfit from Mom:

My lovely wallet/purse from my son Justin:

And from Chris, a set of plastic barbells in the case, a yoga mat, a hat with misquito netting for our "outback to the bite" holiday in a couple of weeks, and that tiny litty paper thingy is a gift certificate for my LYS!! YaY!:

From my mother and father in law (the gift certificate is for coles/myers stores):

And other goodies sent from my mom and her partner and family, my sister, brother-in-law, my neice, my aunt and her hubby...well, just everyone:

I wish I could give every item individual attention, as I do love every bit of it, but there's not the time or the space, so I'll leave off. It was a wonderful Christmas, and I made off very well.

I also finally suprised Chris this year! I bought him a new bike for Christmas, a Schwinn mountain bike, as we are so into the exercise right now. He had tried to resurrect his old bike, but it was not to be. So I bought him a bike, and hid it at the inlaws, and then they brought it down when they came. Sneaky, but it's the very first time I've ever managed to surprise him.

Ok, now, on to the knitting. Since my last post, I finished the Los Manos Locos socks, and I'm very pleased with them:

I'm also started a pair of socks for my father in law. I'm calling the the "Old Timer's socks, since I'm making them in a beige color with black and tan toes and heels. Progress so far:

I did a very small favor for a Ravelry friend, and she generously sent me this package of pretty goodies:

I'm still working on Kaitlyn's Kaliedescope, the entrelac top for my granddaughter. I did spin up some more yarn for the sleeves, but I wasn't happy with it, so I've now dyed more, and will be spinning that up starting tonight. Instead of random colors, I've decided to just ply pink and orange together and do the sleeves in those colors. Sleeves don't do well if they are too random.

And I have various projects in mind for the future, but more on those later.

Hope everyone out there had a very Merry Christmas, and that they have a happy and prosperous New Year!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Entrelac?? What the????

When I first took an interest in "entrelac" it was when I saw this girl's pullover in a book I bought at the bookstore here in town. I really only bought it because it was on special. Who can pass up a knitting/pattern book for only $7.99. It's called Clever Knits: Great Looks for Kids by Kristine Clever. Now, kids knitting tends to be boring. Sure, knitting projects for kids tend to be small and quick, instant knitting satisfaction that can only be rivaled by hats and mitts, but still, it's usually not very imaginative, kids aren't that appreciative of clothing (no matter how lovingly creative) and even their parents look at your offering a bit sideways and say things like "So do I have to handwash that?". On the whole, I find knitting for children unrewarding, but the price of the book called out to me, and I bought it.

The book has lived on my bookshelf, more or less untouch for the past few months. My recent spinning experiment with colours, which culminated in the creation of two skeins of "Princess Shabooboo" yarn,

made me start thinking of what I could do with the rather erratic, but definately feminine coloured yarn. There's no real discernable colour pattern to Princess Shabooboo, more just a whatever fell off my fingers at the wheel (and later, whatever plyed with whatever came next). I knew the only suitable recipient for my colourwork was my granddaughter Kaitlyn. The colours cry out "young girl". But I wondered if, should I just knit a plain stockingnet jumper, the lack of color pattern might become obvious in a not very attractive way.

While mulling over the possibilities, I started going through my childrens patterns, and eventually came upon the book mentioned above, and the interesting pullover pattern in it, made using a method called "entrelac". Well, aside from sounding like the name of a french starship (weeelcummm abourd the starsheep entrelac), it looked duecedly hard to do as well. I'm not really that passionate about hard. I like easy better, pretty much every time.

But it was interesting, and it would cause such a stir and kerfuffle with the fabric that the colors being a bit misguided would scarcely be noticed, and would probably just add to the overall effect. It was, in short, THE pattern for the yarn. Which meant I would need to learn how to do it.

The pattern in the book is rather vague (or I am rather pick), and I really didn't "get it" after reading through the pattern roughly a dozen times and starting/frogging/restarting the project at least 3 times. So I looked up "entrelac" on Ravelry, and found a tutorial on Yarnpath by Robbyn Kenyon which did a fine job of clearing things up for me. I had started out with 2 inches of ribbing, followed by "base triangles", but those base triangles weren't going right for me from the pattern. When I followed the tutorial above, and did the base triangles starting with purl rows instead of beginning with knit rows as the pattern suggested, I got it straight away! Thanks Robbyn at Yarnpath!

After that, it was easy, but easy in a new interesting sort of way. I could hardly put it down there at first. It is alot of fun, and not nearly as difficult as it looks. However, it does require LOTS of picking up stitches. Ok, yes, picking up stitches is definately hateable, certainly nothing I ever enjoyed, but actually, the practice is making them not nearly so daunting as they once were. And it's only like 9 or 10 at a time, so you don't have to do all the pinning and measuring that's involved in say, picking up stitches for a neckline.

All in all, a fun knit so far. I'm almost done with the back, and will cast on for the front either today or tomorrow.

Trouble is, I'm pretty sure I don't have quite enough yarn. I have enough for the front and back, but not the sleeves, or so it seems at this point. So yesterday, I pulled out the Koolaid and another 150g of the white corridale roving and dyed another batch, matching colors as closely as I could, but given the overall randomness of the colors, I don't think that will be to much of a problem.

Dyeing the roving:

The finished roving:

So tonight, the spinning wheel comes out and I will start creating "Princess Shabooboo Part II". Should be fun! I've been dying to spin again, and now I have the excuse. Plus I can spin the Corridale, which is such a joy to spin.

I haven't forgotten "Los Monos Locos", toe up version of the "Crazy monkey" socks. They have the "no pick up gusset" heels, and I've started the gusset increases. They are still my project of choice for standing in line at the bank or the grocery store, and little by little I'm making progress. They are also a fun and interesting knit. The lace is in 8 row repeats, which isn't too terribly complicated, and of course, I have lots of experience with "Widdershin" type heels.

And finally, a little something for mom. "Your" rose has bloomed again, and I thought I'd post this picture.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Whew..That's Done!

I finally, just a few minutes ago, finished my Christmas knitting. No pictures, sorry, as it needs to remain a surprise and some nosey recipients might come here to see ;) Stitching up is not my favorite thing to do, and neither is weaving the ends in, so I'm well and truly stoked that that is over and done with. Now, I have the articles in the wash, and will block them later to night. I now have lots of wrapping to do, and will hopefully get everything mailed out early next week. Hopefully!

BUT, now I can get back to my spinning, which tickles me to no end. About the only thing I've done in the past couple of weeks (other than Christmas knitting) is to dye up some lovely white merino I purchased from Jane at Mosely Park using Koolaid. I wanted to try and go for my apple blossom colors, and I'm pretty happy with the results.

I also got some lovely RAOK gifts from one of my forum buddies on Ravelry, in a little special Christmas RAOK we had. Much love goes out to Clairberry for the lovely pacakage and the extra little something that came shipped from the supplier, Jolly Jumbuck.

The sock yarn is a blend of merino, cashmere and nylon, and is so soft and pretty! The colorway is magnificent! Now, it's been almost a month..maybe more...since I finished a pair of socks, and my fingers were itching to cast this on. So a few days ago, when I finished all of the actual knitting I could do on my Christmas knitting, I cast these onto a pair of extra long knitpicks.

They are a toe up version of the ever popular "Monkey Socks" called "Los Manos Locos", and the link to the download can be found at Knitting Sutra. It's a BETA pattern and I'm hoping for the best. I'm making them using a slightly larger needle than required, as they are sized a ladies medium, which made strictly by pattern can be a bit tight in the heel on me. I may have to modify the heel, but we'll see about that down the track.

I made a trip to The Walking Wheel studios a while back and bought some more handspun, plus about 500g more of the Corridale roving that's just so well done and easy to spin. Besides all that, I decided to try some new adventures in dyeing. I bought the Earth Pallettes Dye Kit, which are made right here in South Australia (Gladstone to be precise).

I haven't used them yet, but I'm excited to try them once I get the chance. It requires mixing all of the base colors at once and then storing them, so I still need to find jars and such to store it in.

Well, that's all for today. I'm sure I'm forgetting something. I've been doing this Christmas knitting for so long, and rather ignoring my posting, that I've had a bit of catching up to do. Ah well, it will all come up at one time or another.

Happy Knitting (and dyeing, and spinning)!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Spring is in the air..

Spring is in the air, and Christmas is right around the proverbial corner. While everythings getting beautiful outside, it's getting pretty overwhelming inside.

My spring knitting is going along. I'm well over halfway on my "surpise" project, but needless to say, I can't show the progress or results. That will have to wait until sometime after Christmas. Still, I'm knitting 4 peices of a garment more or less simutaneously so that I know I have enough of each color to make an equal size stripe (relative to the size of the peice) on each peice. It's going well, but slower than I would like.

I finished up the Fetching fingerless mitts. They turned out well, I think, but a bit shorter than I would like for me personally. When I make me a pair, I'll likely add some length to the body. Just a couple or 4 rows should do it, and I might still get away with using only one ball. But my cousin has daintier hands than my chubby ones, so likely they will be perfect on her.

I haven't started on anything else, although I do plan on doing a couple of beanies, time permitting. I may start one up soon, as the jumper is getting a big big to be carrying around with me, even peice by peice.

I haven't had time for much spinning lately. The only spinning at all that I've done was to ply together the two randomly Koolaid dyed rovings I had spun up a few weeks ago. They had sat there on the bobbin for a couple of weeks. I was determined to just do the knitting I needed to do, but finally I gave in to the temptation and plyed them together. Here they are right off the niddy noddy, before the wash:

They were both fairly balanced, certainly more balanced than anything I've done previously. I love the results. They are the best I've done to date. I showed them to Chris and he thought they were store bought (not that he's an expert, mind you) and asked me what it was called. I told him that I had spun it, and that it had no name, but offered to let him name them. He promptly did, dubbing them "Princess Shabooboo". The finished skeins:

The colours are rather feminine I suppose. I'm thinking of making a shirt for Kaitlyn with them.

In the last post, I promised pictures of the garden, and now I will deliver. I have some very pretty blooms going on now, and wish they would last all year.

The rose bed out front has gone a little wild, and is in serious need of a pruning, but that doesn't stop it from being very lovely:

I love this pretty pink bloom:

And a homemade bouquet I made to dress up the table on Chris' birthday:

My "mini roses" given to me by my mother in law, June:

The bottle brush bushes along the driveway:

And of course, the beautiful apple blossoms:

These pretty colors have inspired my next dyeing and spinning project, but more on that later. This post has been far to long in coming.

Friday, October 17, 2008

By the sea, by the sea...

I started a post a few days ago, and typed on it over a three day period, but it got seriously long winded and muddled. I was trying to cover such a long period of time, and as I wrote it in spurts, I was writing much more than any sane person would want to read about my life. So I've erased that epic (believe me, you would thank me if you had seen it), and decided to start fresh, letting my pictures guide me.

Given that this post covers a good two weeks, I won't give as many details as I'm prone to do. I've forgotten half of them anyway.

After my last post, I finished off the second sleeve of the "Peace in the Hood" cardigan, and then sent that project into hibernation until after I finish all my Christmas knitting. Heaven knows, I hardly going to need it for the next few months, as spring is well and truly here.

I also did a bit of dyeing on some light grey locks from the fleece that I had cleaned. They looked ok on the table, still wet from the dye:

but once they had dryed, well, the results weren't that great:

I'm thinking the darker colours did better. I used the cold pour method to dye them, and might try again dip dyeing them. Or I might just go with the greens or blues (or both) and settle for a bit of a steely, mottled effect. I'm still deciding.

I also finished spinning the two bobbins from the corridale roving I had dyed to practice my spinning colorwork with. The bobbin on the right I spun from a thick band of the roving, getting crisper colours with longer colourways. The one on the left I spun from thinner strips of the roving, and got more muted colors and shorter colourways.

They are still sitting on the bobbins next to the spinning wheel as I write this. Due to my Christmas knitting, my spinning has more or less been put on hold for a few weeks so I can "Take care of Business". I miss it already, but I do plan on taking the time to participate in my spinning study group in November, since I do have at least one of the fibres they are studying that month. I'll look forward to that, but until then, I'll be on a dyeing-preparing-spinning diet.

Early last week we took our short holiday to Port Victoria, on the beautiful Yorke Peninsula. I love it there. It's a small village, and very peaceful, even in the caravan park. We stayed in a cabin there that we always request, and have stayed in several times before. It costs more than some, but it sits right on the beach and has a lovely large veranda on the side of the cabin, which is sheltered from the worst of the ocean wind, which tends to blow up from the southwest.

I took a few pictures of the cabin this time, having the laptop and the ability, at least, to download photos if my camera got full.

So here we have the dining room, attached to the living area (a couch and TV are behind me when taking this photo):

A nice big (for a cabin) kitchen:

The master bedroom with a full size bed, linen included:

There's another bedroom with two bunk beds, which we normally use to store our luggage and such. It stayed a mess, so there's no picture of that.

And the best of the best of the cabin is it's big bathroom spa:

(there it is, Mom, the spa I'm always telling you about)

Here's part of the veiw from the living area:

and the veiw in the other direction from the veranda:

I took this picture of all of the cabins from the jetty:

While I was farting around taking photos, Chris walked off and left me:

Now of course, I took some knitting along. After much deliberation, I decided to carry one of my Christmas projects, a pair of socks I had started (on Rav, my "Candy Corn" socks). I had cast them on before we left, as they are toe up socks, and I still like to have references near me when I do the figure 8 cast on. And I'd knitted a couple of rounds on the toes, but nothing more than that. The yarn I used is the Heirloom Easy Care 8 ply that I dyed with Koolaid a while back. Having knit so many fingering weight socks lately, I was really surprised, in a pleased way, but how quickly they knit up.

I also brought along the two skeins of black and white Border Leichester that I had spun up recently, and three skeins of Sirdar Denim Ultra, a super bulky yarn I'd bought out of the bargain bin at the LYS here in town. On the first night we were there, I fiddled around some with the spun wool, hoping for inspiration, but I finally decided to make a shoulder bag from the Sirdar.

So I knit away, sitting on the veranda most of the time, smoking my fags and knitting and looking out over the ocean, and by the second afternoon, they were both coming along nicely.

I did also fool with the computer some while there, mainly trying to get used to Vista, and while I did make some progress, I'm still far from a pro with it. I like some things, like being able to search from within folders, but the general setup altogether is still confusing.

We went for walks, and a very short drive on the second day, but for the most part, we stayed at the cabin and just relaxed and enjoyed ourselves. The veiw is so good, even from the inside, that you don't even fell like your wasting your time when you sit and watch TV.

But all good things must come to an end, and on the third day, we headed home. I worked on the bag on the trip home, and pretty much finished the body part of the bag, needing only the flap and the handle. The socks, by this time, were on the leg/calf section, working their way towards the cuff.

I managed, working on it a few minutes here, a few there, after a few days, to finish all of the knitting part of the bag:

And after taking them to work for a few nights, I finished the socks:

Which only goes to prove how badly work cuts into my knitting time. I managed to complete about 80% of BOTH projects in three days, but it took me almost a week and a half to finish the other 20% of them both.

This past Wednesday morning, I stayed in town to do a bit of shopping. I had been searching around on Ravelry, trying to come up with some inspiring Christmas idea when I saw the Fetching pattern. Actually, I didn't have to look too hard, as it was always listed first when I searched the mittens/gloves section. Apparently, it's the most popular pattern on Ravelry.

And, it just so happened, it had a recommended yarn that was available in Australia, Debbie Bliss Cashmerino. Now I'm not stickler about using yarns other than the recommended ones, and I substitute all of the time. But this was a yarn I had really wanted to try, and here was a pattern that only took one ball.

So I stayed in town to shop. I went out to Marion Shopping Center first, as it has places to eat open early, and is a good place to pass the time before things open. I had breakfast, then went to the newsagency and bought myself Interweaves Fall 08 magazine. Then I left and went by the Needlenook and bought the yarn and another pair of Addi's to add to the collection.

The mitts will be for a Christmas present for my cousin, who, as a kid at least, loved that purplish pink colour. I've cast it on, and started enough of it that it's transportable, so it's the project that will be following me to work this week.

I'll get going properly on it tonight at work. I'm on the "easy" floor tonight, and working with the best possible person, both things conducive to a good night of knitting.

The only other project I have on the needles is my mystery project, which is coming along nicely. For reasons I can't explain here, this project is not a good traveler, so I will be working on it more or less strictly at home (unless I get into some trouble toward the end regarding time). Meanwhile, I'll be casting on my smaller Christmas projects to take to work or otherwise on the road with me.

Spring is now in full bloom in my backyard. I've gotten inspiration from my apple tree for my next dyeing project.

I'm not sure what the project will be, but I do know the hues.

Most of my plants are at their prettiest right now, but this post has been way too long in coming as it is, so I will save that for another day.