Sunday, December 31, 2006

Come in, come out of the rain

And that should be the last Simple Minds reference for a while but I couldn't resist with lovely wet stuff falling from the sky here in drought-ridden Canberra and more is forecast.

Little Waves Wash Cloth
Yarn: 1 x 50g ball 8ply cotton (dk, light worsted, ) This pattern is a heavy feeder, you will need the whole ball.

Needles: 1 pr 3.75mm (Imperial 9, US 5)

Notions: 1 darning needle for the endy bits.

: Tension is not that important.

Time Investment:
About 3 hours.

Finished size
: About 20cm x 20cm (8" x 8")

Cast on 53 Stitches

Knit 6 rows

Begin Lacy Waves pattern:
Row 1: Knit
Row 2: k3, p to last to last 3 stitches, k3
Row 3: k3, *yrn, p1, p3tog, p1, yon, k2; rep from * to last stitch, k1
Row 4: k3, p to last to last 3 stitches, k3

Work rows 1-4, 13 more times (14 pattern repeats)

Knit 6 rows.

Cast off.

Darn in ends and give it a bit of a tug to square it up.

Things you might like to know about how I knit this pattern:

  • I use a cable cast on, you can use whatever method you prefer.
  • I slip the first stitch of each row knit-wise because I like the little bump on the edge. If you like a smooth, chain edge, slip the first stitch of each row purl-wise.
  • To avoid the little loop that sometimes forms on the last stitch of the cast off, knit into the stitch below and voila!, no loop.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Time Thief Watch Cap

Yarn: 12 ply yarn (worsted, 10-12 wpi, ) . You'll need between 80 and 90g for this hat. Best be safe and have two full 50g balls or equivalent.

Needles: 1 x 60cm (23") 4.5mm circular needle (US & Imperial size 7); 1 set 4.5mm dpns. The whole hat can be knitted on dpns if you prefer.

Notions: 1 darning needle for the endy bits, 1 stitch marker of choice.

Tension: 19sts to 10cm (4") not absolutely crucial but should be within a stitch either way

Time investment: About 3 hours.

Big Brain Box Size (23-24" head)
Cast on 88 stitches, place marker and join in the round. Remember to slip marker from left to right hand needle at the end of each round.

Round 1: *K2, p2 , repeat from *
Rounds 2-12: as for round 1
Round 13: Knit this creates a turning ridge for the brim
Round 14-16: as for round 1

Round 17+: Commence stocking stitch (just knit and knit and knit). When whole work measures 20cm (8"), begin decreases.

Round1: *K6, K2tog, repeat from *
Round2 (and all even rounds): knit
Round3: *K5, K2tog, repeat from *
Round5: *K4, K2tog, repeat from *
you'll need to change to dpns about here
Round7: *K3, K2tog, repeat from *
Round9: *K2, K2tog, repeat from *
Round11: *K1, K2tog, repeat from *
Round13: *K2tog, repeat from *

Cut wool leaving a tail of about 10cm (4"). Thread tail onto darning needle and run through all remaining stitches. Remove dpns and draw tail tightly. Pass the threaded needle through the cat's bum at the top and weave in. Weave in the cast on tail. Turn up the brim at the turning ridge and c'est finis.

I'm a Lady Size (21-22" head)

Cast on 80 stitches, place marker and join in the round. Remember to slip marker from left to right hand needle at the end of each round.

Round 1: *K2, p2 , repeat from *
Rounds 2-10: as for round 1
Round 11: Knit this creates a turning ridge for the brim
Round 12-14: as for round 1

Round 15+: Commence stocking stitch (just knit and knit and knit). When whole work measures 17.5cm (7"), begin decreases.

Round1: *K6, K2tog, repeat from *
Round2 (and all even rounds): knit
Round3: *K5, K2tog, repeat from *
you'll need to change to dpns about here
Round5: *K4, K2tog, repeat from *
Round7: *K3, K2tog, repeat from *
Round9: *K2, K2tog, repeat from *
Round11: *K1, K2tog, repeat from *
Round13: *K2tog, repeat from *

Cut wool leaving a tail of about 10cm (4"). Thread tail onto darning needle and run through all remaining stitches. Remove dpns and draw tail tightly. Pass the threaded needle through the cat's bum at the top and weave in. Weave in the cast on tail. Turn up the brim at the turning ridge and c'est finis.

Things you might like to know about how I knit this pattern.

  • It's called the Time Thief Watch Cap because, quite literally, I knit it in stolen time - walking to work, standing in queues, during staff meetings, at red traffic lights (shhh) etc... It takes about 30 mins for the cast on and final decreases time, the rest is bonus knitting time.

  • The fabric is meant to be reasonably tight to increase the moisture repelling properties and warmth of the hat.

  • I used a cable cast on, you can use whatever method you prefer.

  • I hate joining in the round so I knit the first round as a row and join at the beginning of the second round. The small gap is sewn together at the end with the tail from the cast on.

  • I don't use a marker until the decreases as it slows me down. The cast on tail indicates the beginning of a round until that point.

  • To change sizes, go up or down in multiples of 8 stitches. 72 stitches, for example, would be good for a kid's size.

  • There is no pattern for the stripes - I just make it up depending on the amount of wool available.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Someone, somewhere in summer time...

Chevron Lace Wash Cloth

Yarn: 1 x 50g ball 8ply cotton (you will not need a whole ball - somewhere between 25g and 35g depending on the brand) .

Needles: 1 pr 3.75mm (Imperial 9, US 5)

Notions: 1 darning needle for the endy bits.

Tension: Only if you've left it until the last minute. No, really, tension is not that important.This wash cloth will take about 3 hours to knit.

Finished size: About 22cm x 22cm (8.5" x 8.5")

Cast on 48 stitches.

Knit 6 rows.

Begin chevron lace pattern
Row 1: K4, *K2tog, yo, k1, yo, sl1, k1, psso, k2, repeat from * to last 2 stitches, K2
Row 2: K3, P to last 3 stitches, K3
Row 3: K3, *K2tog, yo, k3, yo, sl1, k1, psso, repeat from * to last 3 stitches, K3
Row 4: K3, P to last 3 stitches, K3

Repeat these 4 rows until piece is about 1 pattern repeat shy of square - I did 14 pattern repeats on some and 15 on others because the cotton knitted differently.

Knit 6 rows.

Cast off.

Darn in ends and give it a bit of a tug to square it up.

Things you might like to know about how I knitted this pattern.

  • I used a cable cast on, you can use whatever method you prefer.
  • I slip the first stitch of each row knit-wise because I like the little bump on the edge. If you like a smooth, chain edge, slip the first stitch of each row purl-wise.
  • To avoid the little loop that sometimes forms on the last stitch of the cast off, knit into the stitch below and voila!, no loop.
  • Sometimes I only knitted 5 rows at the end to make sure the piece was reasonably square.

Promised you a miracle ...

39 wash cloths completed by 2 December. Gift giving has begun with positive responses, although one of my volunteers guessed it was either a lining for his cod piece OR a wash cloth. Even he admitted it was beautifully knitted, though. The guys (apart from the cod piece remark) were particularly responsive to these gifts, which I didn't expect.

All of the yarn was purchased second-hand and no ball cost more than $1. In the main I got 3 wash cloths out of 2 balls. There are very few scraps left. I will be a making stripey garter stitch cloth for myself with the left overs.

I've been thinking about why these were the perfect items for hospital bedside knitting. Some reasons are obvious -

  • portable
  • simple
  • distracting when necessary
  • easily cast aside when required to assist the patient or the staff. With no more than 52 stitches to a row, you're almost always near the end of a row.
  • quick - one cloth a day was not uncommon, so a sense of achievement was maintained
  • rythmically comforting

Not so obvious reasons included

  • something positive to talk about with Mum, visitors and staff that wasn't about illness, hospitals etc. It seems everyone was grateful at some point to have another topic of conversation, even for just a while.

It wasn't until I started wrapping them to give away, however, that I recognised a potential benefit to these knitting these simple wash cloths. The wash cloths were gifts. Intended to be given to other people. Had I been working on a large project for myself or my immediate circle and had Mum died, something that was a very real possibility and almost happened several times, I don't think I would have been able to deal with seeing the item again - it would have reminded me of a loss far greater than 39 wash cloths.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Roma loves Jack

Mum and I had morning tea with her Uncle Jack and Auntie Roma today.

After a cup of tea and piece of fruit cake, and while we chatted over this and that, I took out my knitting. Roma asked if I knitted constantly like my mother used to and told me how Mum and her sister never sat with idle hands. Then, between them, Jack and Roma and Mum told me the story of Jack's cardigan.

Jack met and fell in love with Roma at an early age. Roma was beautiful and kind. To my mother she was a glamourous older sister. Jack and Roma became engaged just before Jack was posted overseas with the Army. During his time away, Roma knitted him a cardigan.

It was a Fair Isle cardigan with eight different colours of beiges, greens, browns and tans. Mum, Roma and Jack all described the pattern and the colours in detail. It was Fair Isle all over, not just the yoke, Roma and Mum took pains to tell me.

Roma knitted Jack's cardigan at night at the kitchen table. She couldn't sit in the living room to knit it because she needed the family's tea cups and a flat surface. Each ball of wool was placed in a different tea cup to keep the colours separated. It was lucky there were only eight colours because that was all the tea cups they had. When someone in the family wanted a cuppa, knitting ceased until the tea had been made and drunk and the cup washed, dried and returned to Roma at the kitchen table.

When Jack returned home from his posting a year later, he and Roma were married. Jack swears the cardigan was his favourite and he wore it all the time. Mum, who was 7 when they married, confirms that he did as she vividly remembers the cardigan.

Jack's eyes glistened this morning when he told me how upset he was when Roma discarded the carigan when they moved into their retirement unit earlier this year. He smiled and held her hand when she told me that although she'd always hand washed the cardigan and looked after it properly, it had shrunk a little and was becoming quite worn.

Jack and Roma married in 1949.

Uncle Jack selling hub caps at the Jamison Trash and Treasure Markets, 5 September 1985.

Image courtesy of the absolutely essential ACT Heritage Library, Canberra Times Collection.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Last Tango in Braidwood

I really did think that a day looking at quilts hanging off balconies in Braidwood with my mother and her friends would be S.E.X.* free. Heaven knows I could do with a weekend of yarn celibacy.

Then I met this evil temptress.

From the moment I touched her soft downy balls, I was beguiled. Her charms were seemingly endless.

It began with a smile and a caress but soon escalated.

Watched and encouraged by both her husband and my mother (oh, the perversity), we engaged in a mutal petting session that ended in an exchange of cash. I felt so cheap. $2 for each of the Patonyle, and $3 for each of the cones of Bendigo baby 4ply. She threw in the set of 2.25mm dpns because of my enthusiasm.

My reserves breached it was an orgiastic frenzy of linen and alpaca (50c a ball for 2 balls of each), climaxing in a box of 20 pairs of tortiseshell needles (some still in their virgin state original wrapping), 7 sets of circular needles, a few cr****t hooks and assorted accessories for $40 in which I was joined by my mother's friend Bernie. Sadly, the photographs of these will not load. Seems Blogger has moral standards.

I needed a towel down (tea towel with knitted top) and a cup of tea ($5 for a really cute Bodum plain glass teapot). Sometimes I really miss smoking.

*Stash Enhancement eXercise, for the uninitiated

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Going, going, gone

TSS and Bells - the Jo Sharp books are yours. Will put them aside for next time we meet.

TSS if you want the swift back, just say the word. It's an excellent one, so you did very well. :)

The week that was

Last week was a busy one here at Chez Taph.

The Saturday trip to Young for the mega SnB was bookended with this last Saturday's trip to Braidwood for the Airing of the Quilts. In between there was

  • Some mild Sunday morning op-/bargain shopping (I now have a couple of spare copies of Jo Sharp's Knitting Bohemia for $2 if anyone wants one - that's what I paid for them at the Angus & Robertson stand at EPIC)
  • Sunday lunch of cherries with a friend and her children and checking out the knitting section at the new Borders (Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting Without Tears, Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks: New Twists on Classic Patterns and the Yarn Harlot's Yarn harlot : the secret life of a knitter) and a whizz through Academic Remainders in Civic (Brendan Mably's Brilliant Knits: 25 Contemporary Knitwear Designs from the Kaffe Fassett Studio)
  • Sunday SnB with the girls - welcome to our newest recruit, Olivia.
  • work and work functions (at which I finally met The Shopping Sherpa who is even lovelier live than in her blog)
  • visitors to my parents' house for 3 days which meant much entertaining, organising and endless negotiating
  • another round of specialist visits with Mum (more hospital knitting)
  • an interview by the ABC for a forthcoming Compass program during which I found out there's a Chicks with Sticks knitting group at the ABC in Ultimo who meet during lunch times. I also knitted on camera while walking up a mountain in 30-odd degree heat - madness I tell you (photos to follow).
  • a day at the Airing of the Quilts in Braidwood with Mum and her visitors (photos and full report on disgusting stash enhancement to follow)
  • a night and a day of drying out much of my house after returning from Braidwood to find the washing machine had been pumping water into my house all day
  • gifts in the form of a ball winder and swift from The Shopping Sherpa. Thanks so much TSS - they are great.


Washcloths 36 (really need 3 or 4 more by Monday)
Beanies 16
Shawl to wear on TV Christmas morning 0.05

Monday, November 20, 2006

Young at Heart

Sharon, Spidey and I went to Young on Saturday for a meeting of the SnB clans.

Entirely wonderful from the company to the stash enhancement opportunities at The Wool Room Country Store in Young. It is EVERYTHING you'd want a local wool shop to be.


After bribing Sharon's dogs (Patrick, Maeve and Erin) with white chocolate to be good while we were gone and collecting Spidey, we hit the road. We used the journey to introduce Sharon to Brenda Dayne's Cast-On podcast.

Sharon managed to ignore my "look, there's a Vinnies" at several small towns en route and the "ooh, they've got a market on this morning" at Booroowa. By doing so we made Young in about 2 hours - plenty of time to hit the local wool shop - The Wool Room Country Store before meeting Sharon's Mum and her SnB cronies for lunch.

The Wool Room is EVERYTHING one could want in a local wool shop.

The owner, Kate Sevier, is knowledgeable, enthusiastic, welcoming, kind and generous. She also runs a sheep stud, so the woman knows her fibre.

You might want to check out the photos on Spidey's blog of our visit to The Wool Room. We spent about an hour in there fondling yarn, browsing the extensive range of patterns, comparing colours, brands, textures etc. Kate has commercial ranges (Patons, Cleckheaton and Shepherd, Jo Sharp etc.) as well as some locally spun and dyed woollen yarn and dyed sliver. Needles were the usual range. There is also natural fibre clothing and accessories throughout the store and it was with some difficulty I left behind some gorgeous shawls, felted bags and throws. Sharon picked up some fab cotton t-shirts and immediately changed into one.

I cannot rave enough about this shop or it's owner. Go, buy stuff from her. She will mail order and we are now on the mailing list for special events and workshops and stuff. As Arnie would say "I'll be back."

Next stop was our lunch with Sharon's mum and her SnB cronies. Edith started the SnB when Sharon told her about how much fun ours is. The ladies meet at JD's Jam Factory every Wednesday morning. The women were utterly delightful, and I only hope I can remember their names. I was enchanted from the first moment when Betty handed us each a Sean Sheep pattern book she'd picked up at the local Salvos for 20c. Gotta love a group who welcomes me withop-shop gifts! Then there was Winona who used to breed Westies - so she won me over pretty quickly, too. There was my name twin and Patty and Margaret and Marie x 2 and Ann as well, I think. There was the woman who brought in a laundry basket containing a gorgeous baby layette and other baby stuff she had made. So very pretty and so very skilled.

Over what can only be described as very average food, we shared patterns and tips and giggles and jokes. We were made to feel like welcome friends and it was a blast.

Spidey and I have requests for patterns and Ms Spider has converted at least one more knitter to the secret society of sock knitters. We're invited to return. Edith also made a contribution to the swaps basket - get in quick.

Our third major stop was to Richens for cherries. We were advised this was the best place to go, so away we went. There are photos but Blogger is refusing to play.

Here I displayed a self-restraint not evident at the Wool Room earlier. I bought only the required 4 cases of cherries (one was for me the others were requests from family and friends) and a couple of better-than-Cherry-Ripe chocolates. I lugged the 20k of cherries to the car and Sharon took her Cherry Wine and small box of cherries to the car. Spidey, however, had the services of yet another sherpa to transport her box of cherries and bottle of cherry port the 10m to the car. The woman is a sherpa magnet. (Funnier if you could see the photo).

Home via Murrumburrah where we made a recommended stop at the Whichcraft & Coffee Cottage in Albury Street. A whole historic house crammed full of local craft goods and a small tea room. Some good crafty stuff, some not so good. It's staffed by volunteers and was opened n 1971 to stimulate interest in the town and district in both tourism and craft. Well worth a visit.

It was in the tea shop part that Spidey revealed a previously hidden prediliction for crime. While we waited for our scones and tea, she spied on display on a high shelf, several items of spinning equipement. There was a spinning wheel, a yarn swift (upside down but still recognisable), hand carders, some bobbins and a DRUM CARDER.

"Psst", Spidey hissed at me from the side of her mouth, her excitement only betrayed by the slightest trembling of the hands, "you create a distraction and I'll nick the drum carder." Furtively I surveyed the room: no staff in evidence, a direct route to the door and a ready supply of sturdy chairs to climb to reach the shelf. A tic began in Spidey's left eye and the trembling of her hands became more noticeable.

"OK," I assented. "Sharon, you go start the getaway car and open the hatch, while I knock over that pile of towels with cr*cheted edges and maybe the hats cr*cheted from plastic shopping bags."

Just as I made my move, our waitress appeared with the refreshments. "Drat, foiled again", I muttered as the silence of the scones descended.

Friday, November 10, 2006


I love this community.

I met Jejune doing BookCrossing things on my way into Woden Plaza this lunchtime, Bells spots me looking at forbidden goods in the novelty yarn aisle at BigW not 10 minutes later (she's planning on a knitterly gift for her next fibre victim niece), and The Shopping Sherpa texts then rings me about cones of Wangaratta wool at Belconnen Vinnies. You women are the absolute BEST!

Biopsy day was yesterday. The mass in Mum's adrenal gland turned out to be a cyst which the absolutely charming Dr G. blew into thousands of harmless droplets to be dispersed in the fullness of bladder time. Actually, he said he aspirated it but I prefer the super hero version.

I am happy and weepy and officially finished my Christmas shopping. Christmas knitting on the other hand ...

Wash cloths 29
Beanies 9.5

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Taph's Tools - stitch marker+

A year ago I'd never met a pretty stitch marker in the flesh. I was a loop of contrast wool girl. I was also a bread tag girl.

No, really - this makes an adequate stitch marker when no alternative presents itself. I was forced into it one day when I had absolutley no spare wool with me and I needed a marker. So now the old bread tie is useful for more than just a makeshift plectrum.

Since then, I've discovered they make great identifiers for circular needles. Grab a fine tipped permanent marker (I recommend the Sharpie which I use for work but which are now available in places like Woollies), and record the needle length and size.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Modern life offers many moments for incidental knitting

Remember this? It's the mystery 12-ply stunt wool from Taph's Tools last week.

Well it appears that this is an adventurous yarn. Red wool is like that, don't you find?

Anyway, it's had quite a week. It was spotted by the Head Honcho of my work place as I knitted and walked from the carpark this week. She admired the yarn and asked how long it took me to knit a beanie like this. When I replied, "Not time at all", I don't think HH believed me. It's almost true. It takes about 30 minutes of dedicated, not doing anything else but listening to audio books/podcasts/cds etc. to cast on, do the first round and the last 6 rounds of knitting.

The rest is done while other essential things are being achieved. Walking to work (not that I've done that in a while), walking to and from the carpark, waiting at traffic lights, standing in queues, sitting in staff meetings, in the down time during cooking dinner etc.

This weekend I got a few rounds done at the carwash. I love how the yarn matches the washing brushes.
It's now 2.3 beanies.

Washcloths 27
Beanies 8.3
Victorian Cabled Wristlets (was mystery gift) 1 pair

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Au revoir, Margit

Sad SnB this evening - it being the lovely Margit's last.

She departed in style by finishing a Carla beret - seen here

and bringing a garbage bag full of yarn for the swaps basket. Forgot to take a picture of that, but here's another one of Margie in her beret.

Kylie also brought some very noice yarn for the swaps basket. Here's Kylie being mugged by Lulu, Jejune's very naughtly lamb.

And for those lovely people who asked, here's the link to the Victorian Cabled Wristlets, one of which is modelled below by the ball winder.

These took 50g of Bluebell (5ply), knitted double.

For those who think that spinning is too slow...

I'd be more impressed if there was actual fibre involved, but it's funny nonetheless, and as close to spinning as I've managed in weeks.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Short Post

So great to finally get to an SnB last night. Small but enthusiastic was the crowd. The Happy Spider came, fresh from moving into her new home, and newbie Caroline who's recently moved from the US and immediately found an SnB. She used to run one a SnB and she let me fondle her Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino and rub it on myself. She also wants to breed alpaca and got to the alpaca show on the weekend (I didn't need to know that). Definitely a kindred spirit.

Looking forward to Thursday night at Starbucks very much.

Washcloths - 25
Beanies - 6.3
Other finished objects - 1
Jobs - 1 (for now)

Gratuitous Westie pic - this is Rosie the last time she was groomed. Happy smile, non?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Taph's Tools - ball holder

Mum is home from hospital. She's not fully well but she's much improved. A needle biopsy will have to be done sometime soon as they accidentally found a mass in her stomach which now must be investigated.

Did not get to the alpaca show, dammit, but several woollen jumpers have been reclaimed, skeined, washed and await the application of the swift/ball winder combo to make them useable. We have pink Bluebell, chocolate Bluebell, green Herdwick and some red mystery 12 ply.

Wash cloth count 24
Beanie count 6
Mystery gift item 1/2 (I know I wasn't casting anything else on, but it's a present!)
Job 1 (for now)

Thought I'd begin a series of posts on my favourite knitting tools. Let's not get into the best needle debate - it's far too divisive (I'm not that fussed on my new Addi Turbos - 'nuff said).

Here's two favourite tools. Not originally designed for knitting use, they adapt perfectly well. Thank you, Mr Tupper.

On the bottom is my Tupperware digital scale. I LOOOOOVE this scale. It measures accurately, has a wide flat plate, takes up very little room, does grams and ounces and came with it's own batteries.

On top is the 1.5 litre Tupperware Rock 'n Serve. It's perfect to hold that ball of wool you don't want rolling around the place collecting dust and attracting pets. The vented seal is big enough to accommodate quite thick wool. Here the hand wound ball of mystery 12 ply is about to become a centre pull ball and below is a better picture of the container.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Score card

Thank you all for your warm wishes and support. I sincerely appreciate it.

The state of play is
  • Mum is still in hospital and may come out some time this week. She's definitely improving. Dad is also improving, emotionally. In a fit of displacement activity (he cannot sit by bedsides), he has built a large open topped box in my back yard. It's 1.2 metres high, 3 metres long and 1.5 metres wide. It will eventually become my herb garden.
  • Wash cloth total - 20.
  • Beanie total - 5.
  • Days to go until announcements about major changes at work - 4.
  • Stress levels - beyond any scale you can conceive.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Code Blue

Absolutely gutted to have missed SnB today, ladies. You know that only the most dire of emergencies would keep me away.

Mum has been in hospital since Thursday arvo. Pneumonia x 2 is back with a variety of other little complications that affect treatment. We thought we would lose her on Thursday night but she's pulled through and, although weak, is improving.

Much bedside knitting has been done in the last 3 days. The wash cloth count is 17, and another couple of beanies have been added to the pile.

The beanies, in particular, arouse the interest of the nurses. Apparently none of them have seen knitting in the round before and there was an audience for the finishing off of one today so they could see it come off the needles and go straight on a noggin. Three of them tried it on and I didn't have a camera!

Posts will be intermittent, if at all, for the next little while.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The post with no name

Too tired to come up with a cute post title, sorry. Things are happening at work that make life pretty crap but I can't blog about it.

Mum had cataracts removed from one eye last week which left her pretty wonky on the health front because she had to come off all other meds to have it done. She's not back to speed yet, but she's looking better ;) .

ALL of the teams I supported on grand final weekend lost, including my beloved Newtown Jets (go the Bluebags) who lost by a golden point in extra time. So devastating.

The long weekend, however, was not a complete bust. The generous and talented The Shopping Sherpa made me the most gorgeous knitting bag. Check out the photos on her blog . It's absolutely fantastic! I'm calling it my ANZAC tote because it was made by a Kiwi for an Aussie and has a digger knitting socks on it. It's also made from NZ frugalled denim and AUS frugalled sheeting and rick rack. Did I mention I adore it? Well I do. It's also just the right size for small projects like socks (it came with it's very own sock kit and a book on spinning and gorgeous red needles). It is also just the right size for my current knitting obsession, wash cloths.

Yep, I know I've been a little scathing sceptical about the usefulness of knitted wash cloths but both Jejune and Gillian have convinced me to give it a go. Made one for Jejune for her birthday and haven't stopped since.

During the clear up of stash (and there has been more than one go at this in the last month), I found rather a lot of 8ply cotton lying around. So I'm stash busting washcloths for Christmas. 36 are needed - 11 for boys, 25 for girls. That's one for each volunteer, one for each member of staff and a couple for "oops I forgot" gifts. Current accumulation - 10 wash cloths. Current rate of production - about 2 every three days. I'm well on schedule, but if you see me and I'm not knitting cotton wash cloths, please mention it.

Busting is also happening in the reclaimed and 12 ply stash. Hats for the homeless are on the needles and I'm doing about 1 a week just in the daily little gifts of time that modern living provides - like walking to and from the car at work, walking around shops at lunch time, standing in Medicare queues and waiting for meetings to start.

Operation Wipeout in September saw some gains. I unravelled, washed and skeined 4 jumpers and there are pieces of several more waiting to be skeined. Skeining takes away from knitting time, though, so they may wait for a bit longer. The back of the Celebate Vest is finished and during the football grandfinals, about 2/3 of the front was done, too. Err, other stuff was done, but certainly not all of it. Beyond the Christmas knitting, though, no new projects have been started.

Cannot get any pictures to load, sorry. More later in the week.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


Created by Christiane for Daniela whose podcast (Secret Knitting) blog I found this on. It does keep time, apparently.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


Among other things pursued, dragged down and hauled back to the Taph lair from op-shops this morning was this for $4 (still in the shops for $30.95) containing 2 episodes I've never seen - so happy!

And two pairs of black Bally shoes for $6 each.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Stalking the Yarn Harlot

For all of us not in North America we get to join the Yarn Harlot on her book tour thanks to YouTube.

If it won't embed go here and look at it. It's by Freecia.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Curly Whirly Scarf Recipe

Hi, if you've come looking for the curly whirly scarf pattern, please click here.

It was lovely to meet you at the exhibition and thanks for looking.

The rest of you - get to the TASDA exhibition this weekend at the CSIRO Discovery Centre - it's an inspiring feast for the senses of sight and touch. If I haven't hit you up already - buy a raffle ticket and support Stasia Dobrowski's soup kitchen and have the chance to win one of nearly 100 wraps and scarves.

And the girls are feeling very pretty since their wash and cut on Thursday. That's Rosie without the bow and Peggy with. Peggy removed Rosie's bow almost immediately but resisted all efforts to take hers away. They are different, it just doesn't look like it at the moment. Their happy smiles are identical, though. They love being groomed.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Blue Monday

Was once a cardigan, but $1 and several hours of unpicking, unravelling, skeining, washing and drying later it is 515g lovely soft blue 4-5ply wool.

Dunno what it wants to be yet but I've had New Order's Blue Monday stuck in my head since I started winding it. Not a bad song to wind wool to, actually.

Wanders off singing, "... and if it wasn't for your misfortune, I'd be a heavenly person today..."

Friday, September 08, 2006

not completely idle

Sunday before last for Bek's baby shower/Tupperware party - we have mini cupcakes iced in lurid pink for girls and striking blue for boys. The ones in the middle are iced with the fruit of the passion. I thought it was funny at the time but I was a little punchy.

I really did finally put handles on Mum's loofah. I believe this was meant for her in April but that cr****t nylon is such awful stuff I managed to forget all about it. The handles ended up being cannibalised from a Bay Swiss bag. By all accounts it's fantastic and does the job. It's rough and Mum reckons it will never wear out. Just as well because I ain't touching that stuff again - not even for her.

Now to yarn reclamation.

Here is a lovely cabled jumper with bobbles (ugh) on the bottom picked up at Vinnies for $1.

Washed skeins weighted by water filled chip packets (new Smiths chips, a lot like Pringles but with reusable packaging on sale at Woollies for 99c each a couple of weeks back) dripping into the shower stall. There's a really good photo of the skeins but Blogger is being unco-operative.

Here it is wound into beautiful centre pull balls and weighing in at 683g. That's a lotta hats for the homeless for next winter for $1.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

More mean than green

The non-cow post has caused some interest so I continue my personal review of products.

Butter substitutes ? well there really isn?t one. Nothing tastes as good as butter. I use a vegetable oil in baking where possible. Woollies sells a soy margarine (55% veg oil ? mostly soy) and there?s good old Nuttelex for those who can?t have soy or dairy. Both are reasonably awful. Nuttelex wins on several fronts (not on taste). It is salt-reduced, Australian owned and the container is square so it fits in the fridge better and makes the empty container more re-useable. Did I mention I often buy based on the re-useability potential of containers? I try to re-use packaging at least once before it is recycled. More mean than green I suspect but either way it?s better for the environment.

Mayonnaise also posed a non-cow problem. I?ve finally found a decent one. It doesn?t taste much like the sugary stuff I used to buy, but that?s a good thing. Sometimes one just has to retrain the tastebuds. The Norganic mayonnaise is fine. It comes with a ?delicious honey and lemon flavour?. Dunno about that, but it tastes ok and is good with chicken. There?s also a fat reduced version. This is an Australian owned company, too. I find it in the health food section of Woollies.

My icecream maker is a Krupps I bought for $20 at a Salvos store. It has two parts - the motor/beater which clips onto the bowl and the bow, the walls of which are filled with some liquid. The bowl needs to be frozen for at least 24 hours before use. For best results, ingredients also need to be as cold as possible. I usually keep the bowl in the freezer most of the year (not at the moment, even I think winter is too cold for sorbet) and make up a batch of ingredients the night before I need it. A family favourite is a big tin of mango, a small tin of passion fruit pulp, a little sugar syrup (artificial sweetener also works but doesn?t taste as good), blended, chilled and then sorbeted. Fresh fruit is, of course, best, but not always available ? tinned stuff works fine. If you want to skip a step with the tinned stuff, buy the tins in syrup and you don?t need to make any sugar syrup at all.

The reason I bought a second machine (also at a Salvos and yet to be tested ? it?s a Sunbeam) is efficiency and quantity. The Krupps makes about 750ml at a time and takes about 30-40 minutes to be ready. I need to wash and refreeze the bowl between batches, so even doing one batch early in the morning and one late at night I can?t always keep up with the demand of a large extended family. My nieces and nephew live 15 houses away ? my place and my freezer are very popular on hot summer weekends. Aunty Taph?s sorbet is also in demand for sorbet cakes for the two kids who can?t have soy or dairy and sorbet cakes are usually at least 2 flavours and 2 cake moulds full. Also, when the fresh fruit is available, time is important ? just like with jam making.

In knitting news, one jumper is completely unpicked, unravelled, skeined and washed. Just needs to be wound into balls and it's ready for a new life as hats for the homeless. Three other garments are in various stages of unmaking and should be done by this time next week. I'd forgotten how slow this process is, but it's worth it to save the yarn from the landfill.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Get Real

You are all aware, I'm sure, that Operation Wipeout is
a wish list rather than something achievable.

Yes, Gillian, I do love my lists and like you do the
little easy jobs first. I have been known to add
things to my lists in order to have the pleasure of
crossing them off.

Just the making the list gives me a bit of control

As for soy products. I resent having to eat soy. I
love love love dairy products. My father's family
were dairy farmers for goodness' sake.

Larissa asked for soy recipes. I don't really have
any as such. The soy dip is one carton of Tofutti soy
cream cheese mixed with a handful of chopped gherkins.
With everything else I just substitute soy for dairy
if it's possible. Desserts are a problem. In summer
I make fruit sorbets. The icecream maker is in
constant use in the warmer months. So much so that
I've invested in a second one for this summer.

It could be worse, I have a niece and nephew who can't
have dairy or soy. That rice milk stuff is really
rank. It makes OK pikelets but cakes with it are
lumps of yuk.

Friday, September 01, 2006


THIS is why Margie wasn't so fussed on Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Carribean.

How could the people at Interweave do this to us?

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Operation Wipeout

Work is a complete bastard and the family even more challenging than usual. I am unable to control those things much but I must be in control of something, so this is the plan.

*cue the Surfaries* .... September is Operation Wipeout. Here's the list so far:

1. Unravelling

  • green opal sock (yep, I've called it a day with the mega sock. It turns out that I knit a whopping 2 stitches per inch less when knitting in the round - my gauge sucks like a Hoover) - 11/09
  • grey Kiri shawl (this may actually be cut and chuck because it's in Cleckheaton Studio Mohair)
  • navy Kiri shawl (also in mohair)
  • all reknittable jumpers earmarked for hats for the homeless (there are at least 3 of these)

Aran with bobbles - 9/09
Mid blue cardie - 4 or 5 ply - 515g 11/09
Mint green baby hat - 4ply - 50g 12/09

2. End Processing

  • press and wrap red baby jacket (10/09)
  • sew button on Rough Day Ruff (01/09)
  • finish embroidery on hats
  • put handles on loofah (01/09)
  • graft toe of baby sock A
  • line workshop sample and make up
  • cot sheets for Bek
  • sew tassels on novelty yarn scarf

3. Knitting

  • baby sock B
  • finish lacy rib sock A
  • knit lacy rib sock B
  • finish JEC's jumper
  • finish Celebate Vest
  • finish boucle short circuit curly whirly
  • finish navy matinee jacket
  • find and do something about Angelina (this will probably entail much muttering, measuring and probably unravelling)

4. Prep

  • organise hats for the homeless stash and equipment
  • organise baby stash including patterns and equipment
  • sort felted stash into colour

And then there's the Andean Plying Tools, the Niddy Noddies and the Lazy Kates that all need finishing.

Sometimes the outward sign of my inability to be in control is a radical hair cut (I wore a hat for 8 months the last time this happened), body piercing, contemplation of a tattoo or compulsive furniture moving. Another sign is the need to finish all projects currently underway and to over organise the various stashes. I think finishing projects and over organising the stashes is more positive than the other options.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Non-cow food

A note about non-cow, mostly soy products.

Yup, Margie, the soy cream cheese was Tofutti. The one I used for the dip was the plain one. There's also a herb flavoured one which is yummy, but it's hard to find. I've only ever found it in Coles' at Woden. It's not Philly but it's pretty good. I'll have to give the jam and tofu trick a go. I like mine spread on toast with home made pumpkin and sweet corn soup. You must be onto something though because the website has a recipe for a raspberry cheesecake. I don't recommend this company's fake cheese though.

There is a good soy yoghurt - King Land. Comes in a variety pack of peach & mango, strawberry, berries, blueberry.. The tubs are half size but the yoghurt is fine - not gritty which is the problem with most soy yoghurts. Also, it says it's organic and non GM. I'm told there are 250g tubs around, but I've never seen them. Pity because I prefer the berries to the other flavours.

Can recommended, the Sanitarium So-Good Chocolate flavoured soy drink. Not low fat but yummy. So yummy that only one litre a fortnight is allowed in this house. Sanitarium's So-Good Chocolate pretend ice-cream is ok, too. Not the real thing, but not too bad for the ice-cream deprived.

I find I can't have cow or goat's milk products, buy sheep is fine (go figure!). Lemnos make a very nice sheep's fetta.

If Sanitarium, Kingland, Lemnos or Trialia Foods would like to sponsor this blog, that would be fine. Am prepared to take food, or fibre, for comment.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Break in transmission

I'll be off air for a week or so - promise to look in on you all when I get the chance.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Hate the sin not the sinner...

That song has been stuck in my head for the last two days and seems appropriate here. Well that and my secret love for bad boy Robbie. Oh the shame.

Yes I was a victim of child cr****t abuse. My mother cr****ted me a purple cotton bikini with matching poncho. Those of you have met me will understand how very very cruel that was.

We also had in our house, not one, but two cr****ted swan centrepieces. It has been my mission of many years to purchase all known patterns of this particular crime against taste to prevent other impressionable youngsters from suffering as I did. And now I find that Interweave has it as a freebie. Oh the inhumanity.

Pity me and understand.

PS I did macrame as a child. My mother was forced to display spider plants over the bath cradled in wonky cream pot plant holders and a really hideous macrame owl wall hanging. I think we can consider that some payback for the cr****t. Or, horror of horrors, the cr****t was payback for the macrame. A vicious cycle of evil crafts.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Et tu, Jejune and Spidey?

See how liberal I am. I allow your defences of the evil craft through unmoderated.

It's just me and the Yarn Harlot against the tide of crap.

Saying the hook is useful as a knitting tool for picking up stitches etc is fine. Using an electric chair is a great way to crisp up some vegies, but I don't want to put it to the purpose for which it was invented.

Scrapbooking is pretty dire. I did a workshop in it once (long story, it wasn't voluntary) and it was scarily persuasive. Mind you, so was the Knitting with Dog Hair book and certain extremist political movements, but it doesn't make it right.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Cr****t rant (yes, another one)

Right, none of you had better ever try to convince me of the validity of cr****t again. No, I mean it.

Sometimes I feel really mean taking the piss out of cr****t and then someone does this. Go ahead, look. I'll wait.

Now I really hope he was being at worst whimsical and at best subverting the form, but I think he's quite serious about this.

I am an equal opportunity blogger. I think it's great that guys do needlework. More of them should. If more of them did we might get taken a bit more seriously. Do you really think we wouldn't be allowed to knit or even cr****t on planes in this country if the blokes in suits up at the pointy end of the plane knitted? For goodness' sake, they're called airCRAFT. But back to my point. I don't think it's stupid because he's a guy or even that it's cr****t (I could so knit one of those) but because it's a useless, tasteless waste of time. And just as I was coming round to the whole dishcloth thing, too.

To answer Kylie. The wool on my needles in what some may call gold, others may call mustard and now that I'm nearly halfway up the back I am secretly referring to as baby shit yellow, is a vintage Villawool 5ply crepe. I'm knitting a vest. We are calling it the Celebate Vest because I am not sleeping with the person it is being knitted for. Mon has a rule that she only knits for people who provide sex - she puts out so they should.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Thanks ladies

SnB was a tonic - thanks to you all. Much less grumpy now.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Aussie Junk

Yes, Aussie Junk is habit forming and deserves a frugal look.

It's Revolve by another name and at the Mitchell Resource Management Centre, aka The Tip.

You need to do a fair bit of digging to find gold but you can be lucky. Week before last I got a very large plastic tool box for woodwork, two videos (The Shipping News and Charlotte Grey), several uncut paper patterns including one for a really dinky apron which I'll share another day, some cotton wool on a big roll rather than in cotton buds, a couple of books for the collection at work and two intact 70s orange Tupperware containers for $5 the lot.

Pricing is variable and based on how the guy on the cash register feels at the time.

Weekend in Pictures III

Baby's first bobbin. Don't laugh, I know it's pretty average. The skein's at my parents right now - I'll photograph it over on the weekend.

That's my wheel, Bertie. If you look really closely you'll see some cream Corriedale cross on the wheel bobbin and some more of the brown stuff on the lazy kate to the left on top of the basket.

Quick trip to Aussie Junk at the Mitchell tip before making my way to the National Hockey Centre to watch a pretty poor match between Australian and Korea. Unispired hockey but where else do you get to an international sporting test for $10?

Cute timber box to hold sewing/beading supplies. 50c at Aussie Junk

So this looks like a child's toy, right?

Not now I've replaced the badly cut and drilled pieces of timber and with bobbins. Lazy kate, number 2. 50c at Aussie Junk.

To the left is my first attempt at navajo plying with the corriedale cross. Extremely bad attempt but I'm looking forward to trying it again. The green on the new lazy kate, is "Mermaid" colourway desisgned and dyed in cross breed by the Happy Spider. It's beautiful, Spidey, thank you. :) it will be plyed on itself eventually.

Here it is in it's green, fluffy glory.