Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Boatie Bits and Knits

I wanted to throw a post in here before we left for our boat trip, and indeed, had much of a post done before we left. It was started, but not completed. So now, I'm doing some creative editing on the "old" post, and adding the unfinished and new bits. At the moment, time is not on my side, so if some of the edits make no sense, and if I'm sketchy and a bit brief, then I can only apoligize in advance.

With Christmas obligations and Chris on school holidays, my schedule has been packed full. I came home from work last Monday morning, showered, loaded up everything and left for the boat. We were on the boat until Thursday afternoon, back to work Thursday night. I work Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and then when I get home Sunday morning I'll shower, load up in the car and begin a three and a half hour car journey to Wool Bay. Wool Bay is a seaside resort community on the Eastern shore of the Yorke Peninsula. An old friend of Chris' has a cabin there, and we will be staying with him and his wife Sunday night and Monday night, returning home Tuesday in time for me to be at work Tuesday night. Such is my schedule at the moment. Consequently, this might look a bit hurried, and editing will be rough.

Now, to go way way back (or so it seems now) to the things going on before the boat trip. I'll get to the knitting bit eventually, but one thing I thought pretty exciting was that I actually had a raffle win. I was in the express line at the grocery store a couple of months ago, and the checkout girl asked me if I wanted to enter a raffle aiding in the support of the two new pandas they were getting (and have since got) at the Adelaide zoo.

I said "I'll donate two bucks. I'm a bit short on time".

She said, "Oh, the prizes are great, and I only need your name and phone number".

So I scribbled down my name and number, gave her a two buck coin and never thought another thing about it until I got a phone call from Woolworths. Even then, I didn't recall it immediately. The girl on the phone told me where she was calling from, and I really couldn't figure out why Woolworths would be calling me. Then she told me she needed my address because I had won $1000 worth of "gift cards" in the "Panda Raffle". Still, no bells are ringing, and my first instinct was it was one of those calls where they try to glean information and then rob your bank account or something. I figured there was no harm in giving her my address, as it's in the phone book anyway, but I was wary about giving her any more information. Thank goodness she never asked for anything more. She just started explaining to me what I had won. It was then that I finally remembered the Panda raffle, and started paying attention. At that moment I realized it wasn't a prank, since I hadn't thought anything about buying that ticket, much less told anyone about it.

After asking her to repeat what I had won, I started to get excited. Essentially, it was two $500 Wish gift cards that could be spent at any Woolworths or several associate stores. They arrived by registered mail a few days later:

Shortly after the phone call, I had called Chris to tell him the news. We had planned on buying a new digital LCD TV for Christmas, sort of one big thing for both of us, but we knew we'd have to put it on the credit card and pay it off. So he suggested we get the TV with the cards. We went shopping at one of the associate stores, Dick Smith Electronics, and got this lovely whopper of a TV (well, whopper compared to the 26in we had):

It's a 42in Sanyo LCD, the picture is beautiful, and we are enjoying watching all the new digital channels. Admittedly, with all our running around, and the utter crap that on TV this time of the year, I haven't had a chance to watch to much on it, but I'm sure I'll get my chance soon enough. The only problem is that I'm having a bit of trouble hooking it to the DVD/VCR player, but I really just haven't had time to figure it out. Something else for me to put my mind to when all the running is over with.

All in all, it was a nice little windfall, and helps us tremendously in planning and saving for our planned trip to Tennessee in late August. Chris has applied for the time off work. We still haven't gotten final approval back from the department, but it looks promising. We're planning as if it's a done deal.

Also, on one of my days off a few days before the trip, Chris and I went bushwalking in a nearby conservation area, and I managed to get a couple of shots I thought I would include here. It's a lovely spot. Chris goes there alot, and was anxious to show it to me, and I must say, I was impressed by the landscape, but not so impressed by the plethora of flies that abounded there. I was wearing my "fly hat" though, so all was well:

Notice too our handy new hiking poles. Chris, ever the ebay stalker, found them on there. Mine was originally supposed to be his, and came from China, but it was way to short for Chris, even fully extended, but perfect for me. He got himself another taller model:

I suppose I should mention Christmas in here too, although really, we didn't do much. I was off Christmas Eve night, and we went to Chris' parents for lunch the next day, then down to the beach for awhile, and then over to some friends of his for a few hours in the evening before I went to work. Unfortunately, I didn't have the foresight to take any pictures. I did, however, get one knitting related present that bears a mention and a picture here. My newest Christmas ornament, sent to me by my dearest mom. It's too cool for words, and I love it to pieces:

Sometime back before Christmas (honestly don't remember when) I got my latest installment from David at Southern Cross Fibre Club. It's quite lovely, and I plan on taking it with me to Wool Bay tomorrow, and hopefully get started on it there.

Now, for pics of my pre boat trip knitting. The only finished object to report on is the Honey Bee Socks in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Solids, which turned out to be very pretty. Sometimes pretty socks aren't terribly "wearable", but these certainly are, and I'm very happy with them:

Also, I took out some of my "early" homespun, a semi thick yarn made with some Border Leichestershire tops I got from Jane at Moseley Park eons ago and whipped up a quick little sock for my still very much loved iPod touch:

Here we have the Lacy camisole, which liked having the sleeves sewn on in this pic:

I did manage to get one sleeve sewn on, and the second sleeve started before we left for the boat, and even though I took it with us on the trip, it is still in exactly that same position. I never even took it out. I'm not even taking it with us to Wool Bay, as I'm traveling a bit lighter and know I'm not likely to get to it. I don't like sewing at the best of times, and I really don't like sewing away from home. It doesn't fit my "strategy" for getting seaming done. That is, I like to lay it out on the couch and just leave it there. That way, I feel obliged to stitch on it when I sit down.

Then there are those projects I did actually work on while away. I'll show a "before picture of them now, and save the "after" picktures for later on in the post. (I'm really trying hard for some cronological order here.)

The Welt and Rib Raglan done in Sublime merino silk and cashmere blend went with me as my . Here's a photo of it before we left:

Then there's my "pride and joy" WIP, the Alpine Lace Scarf from Victorian Knits Today book, made with Ixchel's merino cashmere laceweight 2ply in a lovely sky blue, or would that be ice blue?? Well, a very pretty blue anyway. It looked something like this before we left:

I took along Matilda, my Majacraft Little Gem spinning wheel. Before we left, I'd been spinning some of the roving I got from Southern Cross Fibre Club into one long single, and the plan is to Navaho Ply it.

The trip upstream on the Murray River was nice. We caught up with Chris' coworker Amanda and her husband Bob shortly after we left the marina in their little pontoon style boat, the "A'Salt":

We went up to the cliffs outside Mypolonga:

and moored in a shady area, but unfortunately the banks were a bit on the "weedy snaky" side, so we weren't able to get off the boat and walk around much. Amanda and Bob pulled the A'Salt in next to us:

We did a bit of swimming around when it got quite hot in the afternoon:

Unfortunately, my swim was cut short by this dang dead fish that was floating straight for us. I crawled back in the boat quick as a flash, but my hero tried to protect me from the beast by removing it from our swimming space:

We went a bit further up the river, to the other side of Mannum and moored there on the second day. Again, a nice spot. More swimming and such, but I must admit I spent the majority of my time on the boat knitting.

Amanda has an old spinning wheel, and likes to spin locks from her family sheep. I try to get her interested in prepared fibre, but she's more interested in the more rustic aspects of lock spinning. To each his own. But what she has been keen on is learning how to knit socks. She's a novice knitter, but she picked up the magic loop method in an instant, and with my help, set about knitting her first ever sock:

Matilda fit rather handily on the boat:

and at one time or another both Amanda and I took her for a spin. It was so nice to be sitting there spinning, rocking in the boat and watching the fish jump and listening to the birds sing.

On the third day, we headed back downstream, and stopped in the exact same place we had stopped at on the first day. It had gotten progressively hotter as the days went by, and this day was the worst. In the late afternoon, I actually had to stop knitting on the Welt and Rib Raglan for awhile, since my sweaty hands were felting the stitches.

Very early Thursday morning, more to beat the heat than anything, we were headed back to Murray Bridge. I found the best time for working on my Alpine Lace Scarf was while actually traveling, since Chris was busy at the wheel and Amanda and Bob were on their own boat. I took this picture of my progress on that final leg:

It is breathtaking and I love it immensely. I had alot of trouble getting started, having to completely frog it twice before successfully finishing even 20 rows, but eventually I got the hang of it. I'm also putting in lots of safety lines, which is easy to do with the KnitPicks Harmonys I'm using for the project. I'm using the method where I just pull the safety thread through the keyhole of the needle in my right hand. After all the running around and holidays, I'll do a bit of a mini tutorial on the method for those not familiar with it. At any rate, things are going much smoother now, and I've only had to use the safety line once so far.

After getting home, I took this picture of the Welt and Rib Raglan. I finished the lower body part. It had to be cast off using the sewn cast off method, and that took me literally hours to do all that many stitches. Then I cast on for the first sleeve and managed to get quite a bit of it done:

It's coming along quite nicely I think, and it is easy knitting, good to do while watching TV or chatting with others.

I didn't get as much spinning done as I thought I might, mainly because I was sharing Matilda with Amanda, but also because I was just feeling quite involved with my knitting. I did, however, manage to finish the bobbin I had started:

I still haven't plied it. I've decided to ply it on the Ashford, as I have the jumbo bobbin on there and (it seems) a bit more control while plying. That will have to wait till all this running is over with.

Well, that just about brings me up to speed. We leave out in the morning for two days on the coast. The Alpine Lace and the Welt and Rib Raglan are going with me. I'm also taking a ball of self striping sock yarn, and might (just might) start a pair of simple stockingnet stitch socks while we are away. The Raglan is getting a little big for carry along knitting this time of year, and will certainly be too big once I finish the second sleeve and start joining everything up. So I will soon need some simple carry along knitting to work on.

I'm now out of words and out of time. I'm only going to give this a quick once over, so pardon any imperfections. It's pretty much my bedtime, and if I don't want to be exhausted tomorrow, I'd better get my sleep today. I'll post again as soon as I can after we return. Till then....

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Mistake, Some Successes, and a New Love

It's cool, wet and dreary outside, probably the perfect day for sitting inside working on my blog, so here I am. As predicted, I haven't finished any of my knitting projects that I was starting in the last post, but that was to be expected.

I did get the package of Christmas knits and other goodies off to mom in the US, and low and behold, she wrote me yesterday to say it had already arrived. I was gobsmacked at how quickly such a big package got there at this time of year. I suppose all the extra Christmas staff they hire in the states sped things up for a change. I always worry about those big packages getting held up in customs too, but obviously that didn't happen.

Do I like to let things come down to the wire or what? On the day I needed to mail out the package, I was sewing the buttons on the Peace Fleece Central Park Hoodie for my sister. So finally, a picture of the completely finished project.

In spinning, I did actually finish something. I finally got the llama plied, washed, hung to dry and skeined. Here it is on the niddy noddy:

I just love the colour. Here is it hanging to dry on the veranda:

And here it is in the final skein:

The colour is excellent, but must admit the stuff isn't terribly soft. It's actually a bit string-like. For me at least, it's definately not wearable next to the skin, and probably not even wearable as an outer garment. I'm thinking a small rug, or a bag, but I haven't made my mind up yet.

Right now, I have the roving I got from Southern Cross Fibre on Matilda, and have about a half a bobbin completed. I'll show pics of that next time. On the Ashley, I have the second bobbin of the merino from Kathy's Fibres. In all honest, after finishing the llama, I've gotten very little in the way of spinning done.

Now, as to the knitting, well, we'll start that out with a bit of an amusing story, although I didn't think it quite so funny at the time. In my last blog update, I showed a picture of the Welt and Raglan jumper that I had started. I ranted on about the crochet cast on and how hard the old method I had used was when it came to trying to keep the cast on from twisting. I talked about the new method I was using that wasn't nearly as "twisty". And guess what. I twisted it. The evening of the day I wrote the blog post, I had gotten ready to go to work and was sitting having my pre-work snack and checking my email. There was a message notification from blogspot, saying a comment had been left. The Anonymous (I still haven't found out who my hero or heroine is) commenter pointed out that in the photo, it looked as though I had a mobius going there. (I've outlined the affected area here).

My heart sped up and I felt the sweat pop out on my forehead. Aside from being somewhat embarrassed, I really, really did NOT want to have to start this project all over again. I went to my knitting bag, already packed for work, pulled the project out, and low and behold, my dear Anonymous commenter was correct. I had indeed twisted the damn thing. I tucked it back into my knitting bag, not sure for the moment what I was going to do. I made a decision on the way to work, and while at work, managed to tear it back to just a round or two in, tink it back to the cast on from there and straighten it out. Thank goodness, I did NOT have to cast on again. I'm not a fan of the crochet cast on, even if I did find an "easier" way to do it.

Now, to my Anonymous friend, who I suspect is one of my Ravelry Twitter buddies, I would like to thank you sincerely for pointing out to me the error of my ways. Being far from as perfect as I sometimes think I am in less rational moments, I appreciate when people care enough to let me know when I do something wrong. If you would please identify yourself, I have a little gift for you. Heaven knows how long I would have knit on that infernal coil without your help, wasting much precious knitting time. As it was, it's now fixed, and even a bit further along than it was before the correcting began.

That being said, lets move right along to the projects I didn't totally screw up. My Blue Bird and Bees Socks (aka The Honey Bee Socks) are coming along nicely. I finished the first sock:

and I've even made a bit of headway on the second sock:

It is a nice pattern. The stitch pattern is the same as the one in my Saloongirl
Stocking (aka Bettie's Lace Stockings, Interweave, Spring 2009) except that in the latter project, the lace pattern went all the way around the stocking. So one would think I would know it by heart by now, but alas, I still have trouble with the faggoting part. At any rate, this pattern produces a far more "wearable" sock, something I can wear in the day to day world.

I've been vowing to do at least one pattern repeat on them a day, and I've been sticking to that more often than not, because my primary goal these days is to finish my "Natually Me Cami" (aka The Lacy Corset Cami), and without some structure, I'm afraid the socks would get totally neglected. Because of the lace, the socks and the cami aren't really mindless knitting, so that sort of limits the times when I can work on them. The cami is a bit easier than the socks, as the pattern is only a two row repeat and easily remembered, whereas the socks have a six row repeat, and aren't quite so easy.

The cami, however, is coming along swimmingly. I have finished the back, the front and both sleeve caps. All I have left is the lacy bit of edging around the neck. I have just finished that last sleeve cap today, and given all the housework I have to do, I don't see much chance in getting the stitches picked up for the neck today, or even tomorrow. Tonight is my first night back at work, so I'll be a zombie tomorrow. Perhaps I'll get it knit on Thursday morning. After that, there's nothing left to do but stitch it up. Hopefully, but my next post, it will be a finished object to display.

The bulk of the knitting on it being done, and only a few "at home" technical bits to finish up, that of course means that I'm thinking of what to cast on next. I bought some yarn that I "think" will be suitable for the Coachella pattern last week at Spotlight.

It was reasonably priced, and I'm very happy with the colour. It would be nice to get two summer tops knit up while it's still warm enough to wear them.

However, I have been absolutely scouring my lace stash and the Victorian Lace Today book, and I'm intent that very very soon, I'm going to cast on a lace shawl or scarf, most likely a shawl.

Here's my delimma though. I really need to start the Coachella pattern if I want to finish it in time to wear this season. I also need another pair of socks when these Honey Bee's are done. As for the Welt and Rib Raglan, well, there's no hurry on that, it's just served as easy mindless knitting when my life called for it and both my other projects weren't. Coachella will be easy, and so will my next pair of socks. So, if I were to cast on a lace shawl, I would have 4 WIPs, 3 that are fairly easy, and the shawl for concentration knitting. I really like to keep my WIP's at a maximum of 3, except when I'm in transition and maybe just need to stitch a project up or something like that. When I have 4 WIP's, invariably, something gets neglected. It seems I have three alternatives. I can either hibernate the Welt and Rib Raglan, or I can wait to start the shawl until Coachella is done, or I can break my own rule and have 4 WIPS. Right now, I'm leaning toward 4 WIPS. Well, I don't have to decide today. I might get Coachella started in the next couple of days, but wouldn't have time to cast on the shawl that soon anyway. I'll just have to make up my mind before all my lovely days off next week. This week will be full up with work and Christmas preparations anyway.

Last but certianly not least, I've gotten a new toy. I recieved a voucher from the weight loss site I used to lose weight, in return for letting them publish my "success story" on their website. With this, I got myself an iPod Touch. If it is possible to feel true love and devotion for an electronic object, then I do well and truly love it. With electronics though, it is a bit easier to accept that eventually, a younger, cheaper model will eventually come along that will steal my heart away. But for now, I'm ecstatically in love.

(sorry for the horrible photo, best I could do)

My iPod Touch has all these handy functions, and it's connected to wi-fi. So whenever I have a wi-fi connection (at home, or at free wi-fi hotspots), I can recieve my email, surf online (granted, the screen is small and this can be tedious), find out the weather, and just all sorts of things. It's like having a computer in my pocket. Instead of taking the laptop up with me, when I go knitting in my "bedcave", I can just take the iPod Touch, listen to my audiobooks, keep up with my Twittering and record my stitch or row counting, all in one amazingly small little package.

To accomplish all this, I have been introduce to the amazing world of apps (short for applications). I had no idea initially what an app was, but I had heard there was a really cool spinning app, and wanted to find out. I threw the question out there in the Over The Fence group on Ravelry, knowing there were many younger, more computer and gadget savvy people on there than I am.

Now I've been shopping for apps. Some cost (like the spinning one) and some are free. They are available on the itunes store, and I already have an account there. So far, the only one I've bought is the spinning one (called iSpin Toolkit) for $5.99, but I have a couple of knitting ones, the free "lite" versions, that I'm trying out to see which one I want to buy, and the app used to connect to Twitter called Tweetdeck (which is also what I have on the computers). The knitting apps have row counters, project lists, organizational tools and more. Quite frankly, it seems there is an app for everything under the sun, inside and outside of the knitting world, and I feel like a kid in a brand new candy store. By far the most prolific apps are games, and I'm not much of a gamer, but other than that, there are financial apps, apps with maps (even one of Adelaide), apps for boating, fishing, cooking, and well, for nearly everything. It is just so very cool. And none are terribly expensive. In fact, the spinning app is about as expensive as I've seen them get. Most are in the 1.19 to 3.99 range. If it sounds like I'm gushing, well, yep, I am. I could become addicted to this thing.

So, that's about all the news that is news in my world this week. This is Chris' last week of work before his long summer school holiday, which means I might not be as "on schedule" with my posts for the next 6 weeks or so. He has plans to go away a couple of times, and always plans outings and such with his friends as he goes along. Besides, he's taken to bush walking on a regular basis, and I'm hoping he'll use his break to find new and exciting places to walk. Essentially though, he will be more "underfoot" than usual for the next few weeks, and I will be obliged to accompany him from time to time, so my time will certainly not be as much "my own" as it is when he's working.

So, until next time...