Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Heaven Knows Who

A few months back, I was in between projects, and some cheapo acrylic yarn was on sale for a couple of bucks for 100g.s at Spotlight, so i bought a dozen balls and started a afghan for "heaven knows who". Occasionally I do those "heaven knows who" knits. I'll make a washcloth or a beanie, because I like it, not because I need it, and it will wind up going to "heaven knows who". Usually "heaven knows who" is a coworker or a friend, since most of my family require expensive postage to send things to them, and besides, I like to put my love into things I knit for them (yeah, you know what I mean). I don't usually do that when I'm doing a "heaven knows who" project.

When I started the afghan, my main objective was to have something easy to knit on, because the other project I was starting at the time was a bit fiddly. So I looked in my handy "Harmony Guide" and found the easiest stitch I could find that I hadn't done before, which was called the "drop garter stitch". Four rows knit, then wrap your yarn around the needle twice, drop the extra wrap on the next row, then repeat those 6 rows ad infinitum. It was working out well, and I was knitting right along, but then it started getting a bit big to tote around. Not huge mind you; I've toted around bigger, but just to the point where it was getting ungainly.

About that time, hubby and I were trolling the yard sales around MB alot. At one of these sales, we picked up a big black garbage bag full of baskets for a dollar. I wanted them because I like to give "gift baskets", but I'd rather pay more for the goodies inside than the basket they come in. One basket in particular I really liked. It had an interesting shape and it had a nice smooth surface that would look nice holding my knitting beside the couch.

So I put the afghan I was working on and a couple of balls of yarn in the basket. I liked the look of it. So I brought out a few more balls, did some arranging, and wah lah, a lovely knitting basket. Trouble was, now it looked better on display than most of my "nic-nacs". I moved it up onto the top of a plant stand and now it's a permanent part of the decor. I haven't worked a stitch on it since. I'm not sure it will ever get finished.

But for a "heaven knows who" project, that works out just fine.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Terrie's Horf Pattern

Now that I know she has recieved it, I reckon I can now post the finished pictures for my cousin's hood scarf (aka Horf). I have posted progress on it, but decided to wait before printing the finished project since she knows where to find this blog and that would ruin what tiny little element of surprise there was left. By all accounts, she is happy with it, which is quite gratifying to say the least. It's always nice to have my work appreciated.

I wanted to have it finished and mailed before vacation, and I had finished everything but the mohair edging. The edging, however, required picking up about a million stitches, as I had decided to knit it on rather than crochet it. I'd never done this before, because in the days before I got my Denise interchangable needles, regular needles just weren't long enough to edge something as long as a scarf. With my Denise's, though, I could just join two of the longer cords together and have a massively long needle that did the work quite nicely. The colors of the mohair for the edging and the main body of the horf were practically identical, so it all blends in very nicely. A lucky break really, and all in all I'm happy with the outcome.
There's not really a pattern for this per-se. I sort of winged it.
I c/o 46 stitches with the Natural's Harmony 100% wool, worked in garter stitch (k every row) for what seemed like a decade until I got the length I wanted, then c/o. Ohh, and at either in I put in a couple of rows of garter drop stitches, which is knit one row but wrap your yarn twice around the needle, then knit the next row dropping one of the wraps, but that step certainly isn't necessary. It was done purely for a little extra decoration, and that is a nice stitch that looks the same upside down as right side up.
For the hood, I c/o 98 stitches, and again worked in garter stitch until it measured 11 inches, then I folded the cloth with the open stitches at the top of the fold and used the three needle bind off to join these at the top of the hood. (a video of this method can be found on this page:
Then I joined the hood to the middle of the scarf. This is really all it took to make a perfectly good horf. I threw on the extra edging, but if you don't possess interchangable needles, I would suggest you do this in the crochet edging of your choice.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Binge shopping & Scarf patterns

I have not had much luck with my spinning. My main problem seemed to be that the twisted wool (not sure if I'd call it yarn yet) wouldn't pull itself up onto the bobbin. It just kept twisting and twisting till it kinked up against the orifice. So I went to googling images of spinning wheels, flyers, etc and noticed something was missing. My spinning wheel, a traditional, should operate with a scotch tension braking system and mine had no such animal. This may sound complicated, but essentially it is a length of what looks like thick fishing line that attaches on one end to a spring and on the other end to a knob (I had the knob). The line passes thru two metal hooks (those were there too), and runs over a grove in the bobbin. Thus, you tighten the tension knob, which tightens the string, which stretches the spring. This is the part that makes the bobbin go slower than the flyer, allowing the yarn to twist onto the bobbin.

Feeling like a total wanker, I realized I needed a some line and a spring. I probably could have rigged something up myself, but I decided not to tempt fate any longer, so last week I went by the Walking Wheel Studio, a spinning studio in Adelaide with the most gracious of women running it, and explained my dilemma. She had the line right there, but she was out of springs. They would be in with her next order, arriving in a few days. She would give me a call. Meanwhile, she gave me a couple of little rubber bands that would substitute for the spring. I tried them out the next day, and at LAST I was spinning something that looked like real yarn, or at the very least, real string. I'm hoping after plying it looks like yarn.

She called me Tuesday, letting me know it had arrived. The studio is open Thursday thru Saturday, so I told her I would see her at her 10 o'clock opening time on Thursday. As she's over on that side of town, roughly, I decided I would hang out at Starbucks in Glenelg and then visit Barb's Sew and Knits (again), this time to see if I could find some yarn for a scarf for mom.

I left work yesterday morning at 7, drove out to Jetty Rd, parked and walked down to Starbucks at about 7:45, ordered a Blueberry Muffin and a Cappuccino, got a paper cup with coffee grounds in it to use for an ashtray, and settled in on the patio, which looks out over the jetty and the ocean. It had just stopped raining, and the ocean had that eerie dark look, but quite beautiful really. I spent the next hour sipping cappy and jotting some preliminary notes down on a sweater mom has requested for Christmas. I have a picture out of a magazine that she sent, but no pattern of course, so I'm trying to design a pattern that will look like the picture. I'm in the early stages yet, and hadn't bought the yarn. Not knowing gauge, there wasn't much I could do besides get the particulars jotted down: drop shoulder, boat neck, bell sleeves etc, and draw a few rough sketches.

At 8:45, I drove back up Jetty Rd and turned off onto Byron, where Barb has her shop. When she opened, we first looked at ideas for mom's jumper, both ready made patterns (of which she has, seemingly, millions, both old and new) and then we explored wool options. Then I looked around for yarn to do mom's scarf with, which was far more urgent than the jumper at any rate. What I wound up buying was 2 skeins of the most beautiful yarn I think I've ever seen, at least in the skein, Fiesta's La Boheme. It was very dear, but it came in 100 g skeins, which I used to justify the cost. Besides, I reasoned, it was for mom's birthday. So, I talked myself into it, and walked out with some beautiful yarn that, for the price, should have been solid gold.

Having already spent more than I had planned, I left Barbs and went over to the Walking Wheel to pick up my $1.50 spring. I wished I had left with only spending a $1.50, but that was not to be. I left with 8 skeins of beautiful hand spun, perfect for mom's future sweater, and my wallet, once again, much lighter.

The night before, hubby informed me that my yarn order at my LYS in MB had arrived. Thank goodness, it was already paid for with my Christmas pressie gift certificate and a few extra dollars. It was 30 skeins of Cleckheaton Country Naturals that I am planning to make a super difficult cardi out of. I got the pattern months ago, and have been looking at it periodically with longing ever since. Loving mindless knitting as much as I do, I love this cardi more. So before coming home, I swung by there and picked that up as well.

So this morning, I'm faced with a shopping hangover, and all sorts of ideas of "what to do with what" running thru my head. This is NOT in any way aided by Ravelry, which has so many ideas available on it it makes me dizzy. I thought I had pretty clear cut ideas when I bought it, but now I'm not so sure.

Last nigth, hubby helped me wind one of the La Boheme skeins into balls, and as it is made of two distinct threads, yet dyed together, it was really hard to wind and keep the color pattern even on both threads. Consequently, in actual use, it might be really hard to get the graduting look I was looking for in the scarf pattern I had in mind, which is this short row scarf from magknits found here:

So, I'm thinking of this one, which looks good on Ravelry knit in other yarns besides homespun:

But it also looks fantastic in homespun, and I do have alot of the homespun I bought at the walking wheel for mom's sweater lying around, and can always get (or, potentially spin myself), more for that and just make a shawl with the La Boheme.

Another horse coming from the outside is this one: which would look good with the La Boheme I think, or the Grignasco.

I'm so confused, and I wanted to get started TODAY!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Needle to yarn

I thought my obsession to Ravelry was going to hurt my progress of actually knitting, but so far I have managed to put needle to yarn and finish off the miles and miles of straight, unshaped stockingnet stitch that makes up the bottom 2/3rds of the cotton top (front) that I'm currently knitting on. In fact, since I took the pic, I've managed to finish the cast off and decreases for the arm hole. Now, I'm at the point where I'm about to start the front collar shaping. Of course, I stopped right there and probably won't pick that up again until tomorrow.

Tonight I have a meeting before work, and then I'm working with someone I've only worked with once before, so I'll have to stay on my toes (more or less) for both events. Thus, easy minimum counting knitting is required.

I also managed to finish the right half of my shawl collar of the alpaca jacket. It's the side with the buttonholes (grrrrrr) and I do hate buttonholes. I ripped it out 3 times before I had them right, but as an excuse, the first time I ripped them out was because the pattern was a bit unclear. It said "cast off two, knit 10, cast off 2 repeat 5 times" which is what I did. However, they were counting the stitch left over when you cast off as one of the 10, and I was not. A simple failure in communication. So I was having 11 stitches in between button holes when I should have just had 10, meaning I ran out of collar before I had the required 6 buttonholes. The second and third time I ripped out was purely me trying different ways of doing buttonholes till I liked, relatively speaking, what I got. Buttonholes are bad enough, but buttonholes on rib are downright annoying.

On Ravelry, I had "hibernated" the jacket, as I hadn't planned on picking it up again until I finished a scarf for my mom's birthday. I bought some yarn at the LYS the other day to make this scarf. I found a couple of likely patterns on Ravelry. Alas, this yarn I picked up, Wendy Moiselle, is hideous to work with. It's that kind of yarn that gets fatter and then skinnier, and it splits on the needles constantly, plus it winds up stiff as a board when knit up tightly enough to make a proper scarf. I tried a couple of swatches Thursday night of the patterns I'd found, and it just went from bad to worse. Now, I'm not sure what I'll use this yarn for, but I'm pretty sure it won't be mom's scarf.

So, for the meeting and work tonight, the jacket is coming out of hibernation. I pulled the bag out today, restocked it with yarn and made sure I had all the needles I could possibly need. The left collar has no buttonholes, and while it does call for some c/o's and dec, it shouldn't be too hard to keep up with, or if it does turn out to be too much, I can work on the belt, which is simple 2x2 rib over 8 stitches ad infinitum. So, I have my long night knitting planned and organised. YAH for me.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Ravelry Tornado

Let me explain this mess, shall I?

I've been setting up my "notebook" on Ravelry, a knitting and crocheting website I mentioned in an earlier post. You have spots for your "projects"...WIP's (works in progress), finished items, and even projects that have gone into hibernation. You also have a place to list your "stash", that is, all those juicy bits of yarn you have lying around the house. You take pictures of your yarn and/or projects, add those pics to flickr, then add them in the appropriate place in your notebook. In this way, your knitting life is more organized, and you have about 70,000 people who can potentially ohhh and ahhhh (lets assume their not gagging for ego's sake) at your work.

You also have a practically unlimited source of yarn info, links to patterns using this yarn, free patterns, for sale patterns, where its sold info, yarn swaps or sales, knitting forums for advice, sharing, help, or counseling. The possibilities are almost infinite. I'm gushing, I know, but it's a deserved gush.

Let me give you a for instance. Say I bought some Yarn Brand X on sale on Ebay. No pattern, no helpful shop attendant. Just me and Yarn Brand X. Normally, the standoff is on! In my previous life (BR...before Ravelry) I would be at the mercy of google, and the chance of me finding a pattern I was interested in, even for a price, in the same hemisphere as I'm in, was slim to none.

Now, I go to Ravelry. I add the yarn to my online "stash", and I automatically get links to all the other nearly 70,000 Ravelry members who have that yarn in their stash, or who have finished, or are working on, something in that yarn. It will tell me where to get the pattern, (and many, many are FREE) and I can see, usually, a picture of the actual finished product made by actual knitters, and often modeled by the actual knitter or real life recipient. NOT a picture of some size 00 model with something professionally done draped over her lithe figure. See what I'm getting at here???

Ok, now, about that mess. See, in order to photograph and get the info off of the yarn, I have to actually find it first. Also, Ravelry actually has a spot for you to tell where it's stored. I've been giving that a pretty good guess up until today.

So, in the interest of organisation, I pulled out all of the decent yarn and my 2 hibernating projects (a sweater I started for my son back, I think, in June, and my hubby's vest, which only needs trimming). To do this, I needed to clear out the chest completely. It had some tablecloths, sheets and the like in there, which were either bagged for the shed, or relocated to linen closet, where they should have been in the first place. I also had a stack of fabric I had bought here and there, mostly for Western Action costumes, but some for work pants. I decided to give the fabric half of the chest.

The only thing I didn't drag out was the three big black garbage bags full of bits and pieces that my girlfriend at work gave me here while back. They are crammed safely under the guest room bed, and most of that is unidentifiable. Those, I think, I'll save for another day.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A hop and a shop and away I go!

This morning, after I got off work, I drove out to Glenelg. It's a beautiful beachside suburb of Adelaide, and Glenelg's Jetty Rd is a significant shopping district. Jetty Rd is pretty much what it sounds like, a road that leads to the beach and the Glenelg Jetty, which extends out over the Southern Ocean. I suppose it had been almost a year ago when I went there last. I took my son out there not long before he flew back to the states in March of 07. That made the trip bittersweet, as I do miss him heaps. There, an excellent lead to explain why I have a picture of my son, not even wearing knitwear, on this blog post. That's Glenelg jetty in the background.

I got off work at 7 AM, which is always a hassle with two hours to burn before most things even open up. But hey, where better to burn time than in one of the loveliest locations on the planet? Now, it is inconvenient for me, even from work, but it was well worth it. I stopped at McDonalds and got a breakfast sandwich and ate it on a bench overlooking the ocean. Then I walked a bit around the beach area and the jetty. It was the best wait for something to open I suppose I've ever had.

Still, I had a mission. There was a yarn shop tucked away there somewhere that I had not known about until recently and had not seen on previous visits. It's actually not on Jetty Rd proper, but if you turn the corner on Byron Street, there it is. Barb's Sew and Knits, a lovely LYS in the old tradition. Heaps and heaps of stuff, and literally thousands (if not tens of thousands) of patterns, complete with a yarn savvy person behind the counter. It was my first visit, but I doubt I last a week before I go there again.

I shopped and chatted, and settled on 9 balls of Grignasco Top Print, which was everything she had left in this brownish orangy greyish sort of color. It's a lovely, if 'manly' alpaca. I reckon it was the color that caught my eye. That, and I love knitting really soft alpaca. I'm not sure of what I want to do with it. Maybe a vest, maybe a couple or three hats. Maybe a matching scarf and hat. Dunno yet. Right now I can't get past the "manly" color to think of gal's projects, but maybe I'll see something on ravelry that will inspire me and send me in an intirely new direction. Who knows? That's part of the joy that is knitting.
I chatted a bit more, discussing an upcoming project for my mother. But I'll get to all that in another post. I also picked up a pattern for a jumper out of a ton (8 balls or so) of Wendy's Velvet Flake that I have lying around here. Impossible to find an adult pattern for, or so I thought a few months ago. Seems I looked EVERYWHERE but the right place. All in all a wonderful morning, and this afternoon, with hubby and his buddy at the movies, I have the whole afternoon to spend on Ravelry. Yipppeeeee!!

Monday, January 14, 2008


Wow, I finally got my invite to Ravelry!!! Seems they had sent it months ago, but I finally got it today. Apparently it got caught in my spam filter. When I got to thinking about it today and went to the website to check and see where I was in the queue, I found out the sordid details, and another invite was automatically sent.

Ravelry is an online nirvana for knitters, with all sorts of links and gadgets. It's still in the beta testing phase right now, but soon it will be open to all. In the meantime, you can sign up and then wait in a queue just like I did until the invite arrives to join the beta testing. It's a work in progress, but still chocker block full of goodies for yarnaholics.

So here I am, after working all night, totally exhausted, and I've spent two hours past my bedtime playing around on ravelry, and I haven't even scratched the surface of what they have to offer.

When I get time to do the tech stuff, I'm going to add a link for it to this blog, and to flikr and have all my knitting ducks in a row. In the meantime, I'm going to crawl into bed and kiss my pillow.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Knitting on the Foot

Hubby is a school teacher, and gets all of the school holidays off, which aside from making me extremely envious of all that free time he gets (and he doesn't even knit, what a sin), drives me nuts because he's home underfoot. As Christmas is in the summer here in the Southern Hemisphere, and as the Christmas holidays is similar to "summer vacation" in the states, this is his longest break of the year, about 6 weeks. So I took 10 days off of work, and we planned a little getaway.

We booked a cabin over on the Yorke Peninsula here in South Australia, at a little community called Point Turton. If you look at a map of South Australia, the Yorke Peninsula is at the bottom, slightly left of middle, and is shaped like a foot. Point Turton is on the top of the ankle, if that makes any sense, and is located on the bottom end of Hardwicke Bay. We got in our bookings rather late considering the time of year, and had to settle for 3 nights in a pretty basic cabin. While the cabin wasn't bad, and the veiw was excellent, my main purpose was to finally see Innes National Park, which is located on the toe of the foot. Hope your following me here.

Anyway, hubby did all the driving, and I did all the knitting. I was working on the Bendigo cotton top for myself that I SHOULD have saved and started on the trip, but I had started it early. So instead of doing the mindnumbing but simple stockingnet stitch that makes up the majority of the back of the piece, I wound up doing the arm shaping on the trip, and the shoulder shaping that night in the cabin.

Now hubby didn't seem terribly impressed with my idea of seeing Innes, but he'd been putting me off quite a while about it, and finally had to give in. He's seen it all already basically, being a native, and sometimes forgets that I haven't. So, on our first full day there, we went off to Innes. By this time, I had started on the front of my top, and had gotten thru the cast on and ribbing at the bottom and was ready for miles of stockingnet again. So I knit on the way to Innes, and I knit on the way back. I had figured I would knit while we went around the park, looking up to see points of interest. No way! It was all so beautiful (and I hate to admit this) that I forgot my knitting while there and just looked around more or less awestruck. I can never get enough to the Australian coastline, particularly parts with cliffs and rocky outcrops and islands. Absolutely spectacular.

After getting back to the cabin that night, I picked up my alpaca (also bought at Bendigo Woolen Mills) that I'm making my jacket out of, and finished the other side of the front and part of one sleeve before we left. As it is lots of ribbing (4x2 ribbing at that) and lots of shaping, I only worked on that inside the cabin. The cotton was my "take along" knitting for the trip.

I've included a pic of me poised with my knitting (the cotton, of course) at the lighthouse near Corny Point (the top of the toe). All in all a fabulous trip, and I got sooo much knitting done. Now, with only two days left before I have to return to the "grind", I'd better make good use of my time and get those needles clacking.