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 While the rest of the country tears apart the shops to get the after Christmas bargains, outdated laws and the retail workers unions keep the shops closed and things pretty quiet here in SA.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.