Well, the week of the holiday has come and gone. I suppose to begin with, I should clean up the "loose ends" of the last post, before talking about the holiday itself.
I finished Ayla's cardigan, or very nearly. I still need to find a button for it, and of course, I still need to block it, but to all intents and purposes, it's done. I'm quite proud of it. It turned out perfectly, if I do say so myself. I went to put it on my old beat up sewing dummy, and because of the "small" size, it actually didn't fit, but it's still the best way to display it I suppose.
Before we left for holidays, I also finished the Scalloped Table Runner I was making for my newly married neice and her hubby for Christmas, although truth to tell, I just got the ends sewn in yesterday.
Of course, like everything else it isn't blocked (and for lace, blocking makes a huge difference in appearance). I plan on doing the blocking in similar coloured batches to conserve water, so I'm leaving most of the things I finish these days unblocked, and plan on having one big "blocking party" when most things are completed.
I also managed to go out shopping for summer clothes with all the money I recieved for my birthday. I had specifically asked for money to buy clothes with. Since losing the weight, I really had little or nothing that was wearable when the weather does finally turn warm. I'm including here pictures of just a couple of outfits that I bought, but you get the idea.
For a full fashion show of all the lovely clothes I've bought, you can check out my Flickr page. I have all the shots in a separate folder entitled Summer Fashion Show for convenience.
After one of my clothes shopping outings, I decided to spend just a wee bit of my birthday money at the LYS (of course I did, it's what we do). I suppose that yarn could sort of be considered clothing, since it potentially could be future clothing. But I didn't buy yarn. My mission was to find these mysterious "boards" I'd heard about that one uses to hold one's charts with. I had seen them in magazines from the US, but as yet hadn't seen anyone advertising their sale in Australia, so I wasn't even sure they were available here. Frankly, I didn't even know what they were called to ask for them. (I'm thinking "chart holder" doesn't sound quite right). I stopped at the Needlenook in Adelaide just to see if they had such a thing, and sure enough they did, so I promptly bought it. It was called a "magnetic board" and there was this gadget sold seperately but to be used with it that was sort of like a clear solid glass tube cut down the middle lengthwise, with a red line drawn down the middle of the length of it that magnified the charts. Confusing description, I know, but here's a piture of the board, with the magnets that came with it, and the "extra" glass magnifying gadget that I bought separately.
Now I just want to say that this has to be the handiest knitting gadget that I have bought to date (with the possible exception of my Daylight lamp). I simply can't believe how much easier and faster my colourwork goes using this. The magnifying gizmo highlights the line you are working on, or you can simply place the long magnet that came with the board directly under the line you are working on. No more "hunt and search" every time you refer back to your chart. No more accidently reading the wrong row and knitting the wrong stitches. I haven't tried it on lace yet, but I'm sure the results will be very similar to what I've experienced with colourwork. It literally simplifies the job so much that I can knit the pattern in half the time I was taking before. Both the magnetic board/magnet set and the magnifying gizmo only set me back around $24 AU, and WOW. After having it only a week, I'm not terribly sure of how I ever got along without it. The only negative I've experienced so far is with transporting it, but I'm working on finding an adequate holder for it. I'm in love. If you don't have one of these, and you do any sort of lace or colourwork, I can't recommend it enough!
Last Wednesday, the day we left on holidays, I finally reached my "goal weight" of 55 kilograms. It's more or less the top end of my healthy weight range, and I will admit to still have bumps and bulges here and there, but for now, I'm reasonably content. My goal now is to maintain this weight for 6 months, while working on those problem areas with exercise. If that doesn't work, then I'll consider tweaking things a bit and maybe losing a few more kilograms. Only a very few though, because when I'm too thin, I sacrifice my face, which starts looking haggard.
We left out on Wednesday morning at around 9:00 for Point Turton on the Yorke Peninsula. It's a lovely place, and we've been there several times before. The trip over was pretty uneventful. We drove around the gulf, stopped for a leisurely lunch in Ardrossan, then down and across the peninsula to Minlaton, where we again stopped and did a bit of window shopping and leg stretching. I bought a knitting magazine (The Knitter, a UK mag) and then we were on the final leg to Point Turton. Chris drove the whole way, and I knit on the "mystery project" I'm making for my mother but can't show here since she reads this blog. The total trip took us about 5 hours.
We had reserved a deluxe cabin that sits on a small cliff overlooking the sea, and has a nice roomy veranda where I can sit and knit and soak up the scenery. There are pictures of the coastline there on earlier posts in this blog, but I took more of course, and thought to refresh your memory.
The view from the veranda to the left:
and to the right:
And a picture of the veranda. I'm standing there on it, but I'm in the shade so you can barely see me (in South Australia, shade is a good thing).
And of course, a picture of how I spent the greater part of my time on this holiday:
It is simply heaven, sitting there knitting away, listening to the waves lap on the seashore, and admiring the lovely view. It was, though, on most of the days we were there, a little bit chilly and a whole lot windy. I did get some chapping on my face from all the wind, but it was well worth it.
The veranda wasn't just for me though. I got a cool picture of a little visitor we had who decided he liked my veranda too.
On the first day we were there, I went for my first and my last walk with Chris. Of all the days, this one was the coldest and the windiest. He chose this 4 wheel drive track that skirted Hardwick Bay. The view was nice, but it would have been nicer if it wasn't low tide:
Still, the view was pleasant. So I trudged along, headlong into the wind, and we managed to stick to if for about 45 minutes before the wind and cold totally sent me shivering and running for the car. When I got to Chris's car, I tried to dive into the front seat, but I had left my "mystery project" lying in the seat, so I snatched it up out of my way, got in the seat and shut the door.
Almost immediately, I knew something was wrong. I was working the project on my Harmony needles, on the longest cord length due to it's size, and one of the needles had dropped down when I moved it. Crunch...I had shut the door on it, and snapped my needle right in two. Thank goodness I'm not a tidy person. I had started the project on my Denises, but as it got bigger, the cord was dragging the yarn. I had switched to the Harmony's for speed, but had left the Denises in the bag. YAY me, I could still knit on the project, but for a moment there, I think my heart stopped. I'll have to go into the city and buy me a replacement needle, but so long as I got to continue to make progress on the project, that's a minor thing really.
Anyway, after that rather disasterous walk, I decided to become a sedentary vacationer. Yes, I should have attempted more exercise. I know I should have. But I had a specific goal in mind for this vacation, and that was to knit as much as I could while I was there. Nature walks were on Chris' agenda, and he went for several. On the other hand, I did alot of sitting and alot of knitting.
Which brings me to the knitting part. I had taken along 3 projects. The "mystery project", which by necessity I won't talk about here, my version 3 of the horse sock (the first was too small, the second too large...am I sounding like Goldilocks here?) and a fair isle hat project I'm making for my son.
The sock I had gotten started before leaving, and had made it a few rows into the colourwork on the leg of the sock (they are cuff down socks). I'm using the Bendigo Woolen Mills 5ply classic yarn that I bought while in Bendigo for the Sheep and wool show. While in Point Turton, I finished all the colourwork on the leg, turned the heel, and made it about halfway thru the colourwork on the foot. This picture was taken shortly after I turned the heel:
But the project I'm most impressed with, and in truth had the most fun with, is the Skull Isle Hat from Debbie Stoller's book "Son of Stitch n Bitch". It's a fair isle hat. I'm using black Patonyle for the main colour, and red Patonyle for the contrast colour, on size 2mm needles. It's more of a proper fair isle than the socks are, with less gaps of 5 stitches or more where you have to carry the yarn. The socks, by contrast, have long areas of one colour or another, and tend to be a bit bumpy and messy because of it (and probably, my lack of skill in such matters). The hat's colourwork lays perfectly flat.
Yes, the stitches are tiny, and the black stitches are borderline invisible when you drop a stitch or make a mistake, which serves to drive me up a wall. But the red and black together, and the fine patternwork, makes it all worth it.
I had done the ribbed bottom border of the hat before leaving for the trip, and with the tiny stitches, it was impossible to work on while traveling, so I took up the project once I arrived, and by the time I left Point Turton, I had all but 5 rows of the colourwork done. I've included two pictures, but it's still quite hard to see the colourwork, since the project tended to want to curl back on itself near the needles. Hopefully, by the time I do my next post, I will be finished with it and can show it off in all it's glory.
On the second day, I spent the day sitting at the cabin knitting. The good thing about these cabins is that when the weather is fine, you can sit outside on the veranda, but when the wind and/or the cold drives you inside, you can still see the view from the "living area" located at the front of the cabin through the two sliding glass doors, so even when the weather forced me inside, I could still knit to a beauitful view.
Chris, on the other hand, decided to go down to a nearby conservation area and take a bushwalk. I took this time alone to turn the heel on the Horse sock. It may sound funny, because I can turn a heel on a toe up sock in my sleep, but the whole set up of the cuff down sock heel, with it's heel flap and it's gusset takes intense concentration. I do very few cuff down socks, obviously.
That evening we went out to eat, at the "only joint in town", the Point Turton Pub. It's a lovely pub, new and well decorated, with a great veiw out over the bay. I decded to splurge food wise, and had a lovely chicken breast stuffed with chambert and smothered in a creamy avacado sauce. While the chicken breast itself was good for me, I'm sort of betting the chambert and the creamy avacado sauce had more calories than a typical wedding cake. All of it. Ah well, se la vie.
After coming back from the pub, I finally pulled out Matilda and had a spin. I was spinning on the second bobbin (of two) of last months installment from David at Southern Cross Fibre Club, the Sprout colourway. After all the knitting, my fingers could use the break, and the gentle caress of Polworth and Tussah silk sliding through my fingers was just the trick.
I came seriously close to finishing up the second bobbin while there, and really, it only took maybe 15 minutes of spinning after I got home to complete it. So here are the two finished bobbins:
I had every intention of plying them today, but you know...best laid plans and all that.
Back to the holiday. The third day was also a quiet day for me. Chris wanted to drive down to the Southern coast of the peninsula, so we did the drive in about 20 minutes. He went walking along the beach:
For the sake of my shoes, I stayed near the car, and just knit while I waited for him to return, and enjoyed the different scenery.
We got home in time for lunch, and then I spent the rest of the day lounging about the veranda knitting, or in the cabin doing the same.
The next morning we left at about 8:30 to return home. There was more traffic on the way home than there had been on the way there, so it was a bit slower going. We only made two significant stops, one in Minlaton where I bought a "Yorke Peninsula" tshirt that I'm quite happy with and a handcrafted bookmark for a friend, and then again at a rest area outside of Port Wakefield where we stopped to have our lunch.
Arriving home, I could see from the driveway that the mailbox was crammed packed full. In it, I found a recently released special edition Interweave Weekend, which I was expecting. I had looked everywhere for it, but couldn't find it yet at any of the newsagents, and not being particularly patient, I had located it (with the help of Ravelry) at Yay For Yarn, a terrific online knitting shop out of QLD, and ordered it shortly before we left.
Also in the mailbox was the latest installment from David at Southern Cross Fibre Club, a lovely Australian Merino colourway called Equinox.
It is NOT a colourway I would make into outerwear, so I reckon I will most likely spin a nice two ply with it, and make some socks out of the yarn.
Needless to say, I checked my email after getting home, and I found that I had a comment left on one of my previous blog posts regarding purchases I made at the Australian Sheep and Wool Show in Bendigo. The comment was kindly left by Cheryl Crosby, the lady that I bought the llama fibre from, suggesting that I overspin it a bit. She also left a website address for her business, Granite Haven Llamas . I couldn't find a website before, so I'm happy to leave it here now. I've since visited her website, and it's full of all sorts of info on llamas and llama fibres, and an interesting read for anyone thinking of spinning.
Of course, after reading her comment, I then had to drag out the llama fibre that I had bought from her and give it a go. The fibre itself came in 50g bags, and I bought 3 of them. It is a luxurious natural lightish brown in colour. As this was my first try at spinning llama, I didn't quite know what to expect. After fiddling with the fibre, I realized it's a rather short fibre, so I decided to spin it on Matilda, as I can get better speed control on her. As Cheryl suggested, I've been overspinning it a bit. I find it spins up much like the alpaca, and like alpaca, it lacks that greasy feeling that even well cleaned wool can have, so it slips through your fingers easily.
Without further ado, my first try at spinning llama:
I've since finished the first bag, which surprisingly (considering it's only 50g) filled about 1/2 of my majacraft bobbin. I'm debating now whether to spin 3 bobbins and make a thick 3 ply out of it, or whether to do 2 bobbins with 75 grams a piece on it. I've put it on hold for now though, as I do want to use Matilda to ply the Sprout colourway from SCFC first.
Also since I got home, I finished the colourwork on the Skull Island hat:
I stopped knitting on it at that point, as I need to now continue knitting in the round with black only until it is 8 inches in total length before I start my decreases for the crown. Being small as well as stockingnet in the round, that makes it the perfect project to take to work with me, so I will continue on that in the coming few days when I have some free time there.
I also finished the first horse sock (again..remember..version 3). This one actually fits, although the leg part is still a bit hard to pull over the heel, but that is the case with most handknit socks. The fair isle work only makes this one slightly harder, but it will no doubt stretch with time and wearing. Once on, they are remarkably well fitting and comfortable, and I'm very pleased.
It took me 3 tries, but it looks like the third time is a charm, and I finally have struck the magic formula for these socks. I got up this morning and cast on for sock number two, but again, packed it in my bag to take to work tonight. The ribbed cuff also makes for good work knitting. I'll work on it first, as it shouldn't take me more than a night or two (depending on how much free time I have) to knit the cuff and the 10 plain rows at the top. I'll continue to work on it at home when I reach the spot where the colourwork pattern begins, and then use the hat for work knitting.
My Christmas knitting is sort of winding up. Well, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel in any case, although it will still be awhile. There is only two more projects I need desperately to cast on for, another couple of hats I think. One definately not fair isle, and I haven't decided about the other one. I'll cast one of those on Friday, after my Thursday night off. By that time, I should be getting close to done with the other work knitting, and will need something I can carry in.
I've seen so many beautiful patterns lately, and have so very many plans for after I finish the Christmas knitting, but I won't go into all that here. Instead, I'm rather convinced that this post is long enough. Probably a wee bit too long. So long until next time!