Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Stash that will not be subdued

I blame Kate. It was she who said I should come up for air after the Knitting Karma episode of last week. Emboldened by her words and the need to give my mother a break from her house guests, I introduced visiting Ange to the joys of op-shopping this morning.

It was fortunate, indeed, that I had Ange with me. The donor of last week's bounty is obviously as ecumenical a donor as I am a shopper, because there, partially obscured by a tatty car seat cover, were 21 more cones of yarn at the Tuggeranong St Vincent de Paul. Together, Ange and I wrestled this windfall (50c a cone) into the car. It was also fortuitous that I had reached the 20% off square of my frequent shopper's card. Several books for Mum and the yarn mountain were mine for $20.25.

My SIL has leant me her camera, so photographic evidence should be available tomorrow.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Book du jour

There is a glut of knit-induced publishing at the moment. Here, in the Taphophile Vault of Ancient Knit Literature, is this little gem.

Great instructions if you want to start your own religion or c*****t a tennis racket (warning, pattern calls for disembowelling cats, not necessarily something I'm against, but some readers may be squeamish. You can test your level of squeamishness here, which actually looks like cat viscera anyway).

Back to the pattern for knitting your own skyscraper, it's a hoot. There is a Bahaus version for beginners and a more deco version for the advanced knitter in search of a challenge. Under "Tension" :

We believe this to be inevitable if you are to tackle this project with any degree of seriousness, but if it gets too much, try unwinding with a stiff drink in a hot bath.

I'll bring it to the next SnB.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Have a heart

Go on, you know you want one, too.

ACME Heart Makers .

Ask and ye shall receive

Was it only yesterday that I was anticipating a new Vogue International in a cruel post aimed at those D&G funsters?

It was .

Today in the newsagency there it was - the Winter VI. It was an omen that the self-imposed knit-mag diet was over (that and it was pay day).

Other signs were

  1. I quite like this (although without the I-cord loopy bits at the end - who has the Nicky Epstien book and may I borrow it?)
  2. It is upsizable with no maths required (although changing the edging kind of negates this omen)
  3. The prescribed yarn wool, NZ "Naturally" Possum and Merino, is sitting in stash.
  4. There is neither too little of it to tempt those harpies, the yarn goddesses, nor too much of it to think knitting this out of that much wool is a waste
  5. I have the correct needle in the shed well appointed knitting studio.
  6. I am almost finished "Big Red" - the top down scarlet baby jacket and ready for a new portable project (not that this will be portable for long, but for long enough).

I also want to knit this one because

  1. It will fit
  2. it is a rectangle with two sleeves added
  3. it's an interesting but not particularly difficult pattern
  4. it looks like chocolate


Looking further at this image and the pattern I'm not at all sure about it. See how the edge on the left is all scallopy and the edge on the right not so much? That's because it's a rectangle knitted from the edge on the right. I'd be really peeved to finish this and not have matching fronts. Really, to do this successfully, I'd have to knit from both ends and graft the middle. Bugger that for a game of soldiers.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Dolce & Gabbana stash buster

Yes, Rapunzel, that is a knitted wig. Can't wait for the next Vogue International! ;)

Edited to add: Looking at this more closely today it is even more disturbing than at first glance. The model is either wearing two pairs of white socks (one knee high, one mid calf) or one pair of socks, one pair of short leg warmers with her chunky sandals AND that wig is actually part wig part balaclava. What looks like a cowl to the jumper is actually part of the wig. *shudder*

Sunday, February 19, 2006

You know that knitting karma thing...

Well after our mega SnB this afternoon *waves at all the 7 lovely newbies* I went to dinner with the extended family to celebrate my twin nieces' 11th birthday (they loved their Kaleidoscope Bracelets, BTW - big hit with the whole family, why don't I knit them to sell, can I have one for my birthday, that kind of thing :) ).

As it was a family do and quite informal, I was knitting at table while waiting for everyone to arrive etc. I sat next to my SIL's Godmother who is a really lovely woman.

"Do you knit other things?" she asked, indicating the bright red, top down, baby's jacket on the needles. I smiled and my SIL chimed in that I was "always knitting something or other".

"Where do you get your wool?" Godmother asked. My mother and SIL chorused back "Op-shops!"

"So you don't mind second-hand stuff?" Godmother enquired, probably wondering if I ever answered for myself. I said that I didn't mind second-hand stuff at all, which is how I come to have 750g homespun and dyed chunky wool and another 700g of three different shades of blue 8ply sitting on top of the laceweight next to the computer.

Oh, and Spidey, that tweedy stuff is just perfect for Folly, many, many thanks. :)

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Knitting Karma

In the past couple of months I've given away a fair number of needles and a goodly few sheep of wool. This is, of course, a Good Thing TM. I'm fairly sure,though, that the knitting goddesses are a bunch of karma freaks with wicked senses of humour.

David and Gaye have been staying with me for the last few days. Gaye goes and does grandmotherly things while David and I go op-shopping. For regular readers, no, David has not made my yarn swift and he loved his Butch Hat Mark II so much he wore it all Thursday night and much of Friday. He marvelled at the perfect shaping for his crown and diameter for his boof-head, the manly chunkiness of the yarn coupled with the smooth feel of greasy wool. We all know what pride cometh before....

Day 1 Thursday.
Meet Maree (she of the curly whirly scarf who likes a good op-shop herself ;) ) with the intention of shopping through 4 op-shops and a Cash Converters in Belconnen in 3.5 hours. I am restrained. I buy a few pattern books, a set of good 4mm needles for the swaps basket should we have a newbie or two, a set of wine glass charms (another set, yes) to turn into stitch markers, a couple of books and a spare tea strainer. Two small plastic bags, honestly. David and Maree are like people possessed and must be dragged from each shop. Maree has a flashback to the Goodies episode where a tour operator whips everyone getting everyone back onto the coach they had barely alighted. I'm sure I wasn't that bad and they did get A LOT of stuff. Clothes, books, camera equipment, jewellry. I was feeling virtuous, I was feeling superior. Not even the news that the St VdeP frequent user discount cards finish at the end of this month could bring me down. A week of decluttering my house had engendered in me a restraint that was obviously going to hold.

Day 2 Friday
David and I venture to Revolve (our rubbish tip shop). Maree is busy.

Revolve turns up several books, ten uncut sewing patterns, a couple of knitting patterns, two really good stainless steel seives that are destined to become planters for the front porch and a partial wool winder. This last is essential as I have a wool winder that needs a clamp. It is not at all easy to find the correct clamp and the Revolve find has just the thing, but it is welded in. David assures me he can drill it out. Excellent.

David's haul is good and we both could have stopped there. Perhaps we should have. But no, flushed with success, and the knowledge that everything I bought is useable and an absolute bargain at $7 the lot, I suggest a trip to the op-shops of Tuggeranong. We are being even handed in our treatment of the valleys, it is only fair having been to Belconnen, that we visit Tuggeranong.

St VdeP turns up 600g of Heirloom 4ply in soft baby colours of mauve, butter yellow, pale aqua, shell pink and white for $6. I claim it as my own. I know I have a lot of baby wool, but this is beautiful and in need of rescue by someone who will love it for itself. It can go into the 4ply stash to play quietly with the other pure fibres (sock wool, pure wool and baby ack are kept in 4ply apartheid at my house).

Any normal woman would have been happy with this and returned home sated. I am not, I can now admit, in the least bit normal. If you had harboured any hopes of me being at all sane you are about to be cruelly disabused of the notion.

On to the Salvos store. I have had some minor yarn success at this shop before and last year found a LOT of lovely tortiseshell needles there. I was not, however, at all prepared for what I would find.

Right there, by the counter, with "$1 each" marked clearly on the containers, were two large tubs of yarn on cones for knitting machines. I sank to my knees, eyes glistening, hands shaking, brow feverish. I had hit the op-shopping knitter's motherload. My breath came in shallow gasps as I began sorting with clumsy fingers. "I'll just take the wool", I vowed, "There won't be much of that" as David went in search of a trolley and a cooling cloth. It was then that the red mist descended. From a distant place I heard a voice say to the nice man who approached with caution to drag me from my supine position over the two tubs, "I'll take the lot", all the time muttering under my breath, "Mine, the precious is all mine...."

My friends, there were 30 cones. Mostly it's 1, 2, and 4ply, a little bit of 3 ply, about 150g of 8 ply and some large cones of thread. Some of the cones weigh over a kilo. Most are between 200 and 400 grams. Most of it is pure wool. I am never leaving the house again.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


For those of you reading the comments on the last post, last Sunday, 5 of my fibre soul sisters spent the day at Chez Taph.

Spidey had us dying future socks with food colouring. Results were splice, frappe, tiger and tropical. Can't wait to see what you ladies make of them.

A fantastic day was had by all (it was worth the cleaning hours in the lead up). Spidey brought her Yarn Harlot books. One of the chapters (was it the one on cr*chet?) took three of us and 20 minutes to read because each of us completely lost it with laughter and could not continue. I'm not saying who, but I was almost in need of Tena Lady.

Food was supplied by all, lovely cheeses, divine chocolate cake, nibbly bits, jelly beans, shortbread, chocolate and I made a couple of Spanish omlettes and salad. Much tea was drunk.

My neighbours asked me on Monday what we were on, because from the amount of laughter wafting to their house, they judged it to be a new form of E. I assured them it was K, W and Y, but equally addictive, not to mention mind-altering when taken in excess. :)

Everyone knew which house to come to by the enticing row of knitting needles in the parlour window. I said it was the knitting version of Paul Revere's candles but thinking about it later, particuarly with the bright sock yarn hanging over the front porch railing as well, it probably looked more like a knitter's version of a certain street in Amsterdam where the ladies sit in windows displaying their wares. :)

Due to the fact we were enjoying ourselves so much, no photographic evidence exists. :(

My latest eBay purchases have arrived. I am now the proud possessor of 12 sets of bamboo dpns and 15 bamboo circular needles. The circs are about the same quality as the ones I can buy locally which is not brilliant but better than most of the metal ones I have. Haven't tried the dpns yet - they are so pristine in their individual plakky bags that I can't bring myself to open them. I am so HAPPY. Jejune reckons I'll need a baby name book now. :P

Yesterday I attended the wedding of some very dear friends. Yvonne is an insane BookCrosser and her hubby, Dave, equally keen on trains. Their wedding, at the Queanbeyan Railway Station followed by a reception on an historic train which steamed to Royalla and back, was celebrated by BookCrossers the world over with an international book release challenge.

Local BookCrossers have released romance and railway themed books for the last few days all over Canberra. It even made it into the Canberra Times. Another BookCrosser and I perpetuated a release frenzy of nearly 200 books in Monaro Street, Queanbeyan immediately before the wedding. It didn't take as long as I expected and with the prospect of 1.5 hours with nothing to do but get changed and look with self-loathing upon my makeup and hair, I raced off to Spotlight and bought Patonyle and needles and quickly cast on another sock.

Spying Jejune at the Railway Station, I presented her with a knitterly valentine - 2.25mm dpns and the knowledge that I had a sock in my bag should we need it.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Stuck Up

The parlour windowsill is chokka with knitting needles. Two and a half hours this morning was spent sorting through the knitting needle collection. Result - 7 coffee jars full of needles in nice neat pairs waiting to be adopted.

I started off allowing myself two pairs of each size in each length, but will admit to keeping a four pairs in some sizes and lengths. I exempted from this process, any bamboo or particularly lovely needles, or needles with a sentimental value. Consequently there are not as many needles in the jars as probably should be, but it's hard to let go all at once. I've been collecting needles for a VERY long time and it's not like they take up too much room. I have an old timber library card catalogue cabinet which holds my needles and other notions and it's by no means full. :)

However, there are still about 80 pairs of needles that need new homes. Mes amigas, when you come tomorrow, please bring your needle lists. If someone could bring a camera, that would be grand, too. My camera and my computer are still not on speaking terms and this blog is looking a tad dull.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Embarrassment of riches

Today a friend of my Mum's left a large box of yarn (most ack!), 4 ring binders full of patterns and dozens of sets of needles. Two hours later, I've managed to match up 36 pairs of mostly metal needles, some odd sets of dpns and am left with 24 singletons (which of course don't match my vase full of singletons). If anyone is after some metal straights, LMK and I'll see you right.

Now to tackle the yarn. I'm thinking a donation of the 8ply to Project Linus or Wrapped With Love. The patterns will wait until another day.

Also collected my Nanna's nylon ribbon stash. Will be experimenting with Bonbon.

And what should arrive at my parents' house (courtesy of the lovely postie who couldn't fit them in my letterbox), but a huge bag of baby ack, some chocolate brown sock yarn (500g but I have large feet) and some notions.

I am drowning in knitting paraphernalia! :)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

FO: Big School Curly Whirly Scarf

IT'S FINISHED - the Curly Whirly is finished!

Only 3 days late, but it's finished! Looks great, too (if I do say so myself).

Vital Statistics

MATERIALS: 60g Sirdar Courtelle 8ply (ancient)
EQUIPMENT: 6mm Aero metal 80cm circ; 6mm "Naturally" bamboo 80cm circ; 2 x 4.5mm pink plastic 30cm dpns (I needed the extra length and tensions isn't that important). I would recommend 3 x 80cm dpns to anyone contemplating this technique.
PATTERN: Cast on 150sts. Row 1 increase in each stitch by knitting into back then front of each stitch. Row 2 knit. Rows 3 & 5 (as row 1). Rows 4 & 6 (as row 2). Cast off.
If I did this again (heaven forfend!), I'd knit two rows between each increase row to give a little bit of leeway on the needles. C****t would definitely be easier for this "pattern".
LENGTH: 130cm. Less a scarf, more a thick curly necklace.
RECIPIENT: Maree to celebrate Luke's first (4th actually, but who's counting) day at Big School.

Photo by Jejune. Many thanks. :)

Thanks to all for your kind comments about Peggy. She has some effective doggy pain killers and is going a bit stir crazy, but seems fine otherwise.

Spidey, thanks for the offer of a care package, very grateful to you but casserole not necessary - I may have overstated the case somewhat. Let's just say that "extras" are out. And, yes, Cathy, it will be a good time to finish a thing or two :)

Oh, and my yarn swift arrived today! The lovely woman who delivers parcels also offered to drop large parcels (like specially ordered needles) at my parents' house, just around the corner. Isn't that sweet?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Cr*chet Ligament

Crochet/Cruchet, what's the difference? About $2000 as it turns out.

Today we found out, after $400 worth of xrays, anaesthetic (and we'll just do your immunisation while your here), 4 trips to the vet's in two days and another $132 for Rosie's immunisation (Dad forgot to have her done last September!), that Peggy has a partially torn Cruchet Ligament. We have surgery next week after Dr Bill returns from a conference.

Don't get me wrong, we love Dr Bill. Dr Bill saved Peggy's life last March when Dad fed her a lamb loin bone that got stuck in her throat, sideways, just above the heart. In the 10 months since this major abdominal surgery though, Peggy has given birth and been spayed. It's not fair and not cheap. We don't love Dr Bill enough to single handedly finance his house extensions.

All plans for next week's jaunt to Sydney for Body Corporate AGM, Pissaro Exhibition and the Stitches and Craft Show are off. All plans for Stash Enhancement are off. All plans for eating are off. Plans to sell everything in this house not currently in use are ON.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Curly Whirly - hurly (across the room)

Now I may be doing something wrong, but the Curly Whirly scarves are NOT the easy knitting they have been lauded as. Well the knitting is easy but the process is PAINFUL.

Short of a portable project (again) to take to SnB on Thursday, I cast on 150 stitches of a variegated, not quite boucle, 8ply courtelle acrylic that's been maturing in the stash for some time. It has survived several ack-rylic cleansing programmes because I love the colours. An olive base with orange, raspberry and lemon (that's it, she says having a light-bulb moment - it's because of the food!) scattered lightly through. Yes, I will photograph it.

Anyway, cast on 150st on a 5mm x 80cm circ. Actually, cast on twice. Note: Cast on LOOSELY for a Curly Whirly. Did the first increase row, the first knit row and took it to SnB. The next increase and knit rows took the entire evening. By this time, too many stitches on the needle but I persevered with the next increase row. The stitches were barely moving along the needle because there were too many of them and because the increase row makes each stitch quite tight. Acrylic at that tension burns the fingers and my arms ache from pushing the stitches along the needle and stretching the yarn to do the increases. It took me 2 days to do this increase row. Granted, I had to buy another 5mm x 80cm needle and that took two goes because I forgot my list and bought a 6mm the first time, but still, it's a long time.

I now have 1200 stitches on two needles and it doesn't look very wide. This is going to be one skinny scarf. What I really need is a 150cm circ, but you can't buy them in Canberra and it needs to be finished today because it is a gift for a friend who's eldest starts big school tomorrow.

Tell you what, though, when next I'm tempted to try a Curly Whirly, it will be one of these.

Thank you, Trish

Our SnB has had a little bit of publicity in the last couple of weeks. Jejune's poster went up in a couple of stores and we had new people finding us from our blogs, from Communities Online and from the events lists on the two Aussie knitting mag sites, Creative Knitting and Yarn. We also had a spot in the 'WotzOn' section of the free weekly community newspaper, The Chronicle.

The 'Wotzon' listing also brought us Trish.

We were a little early on Thursday night thanks to my allowing contingency time and to Jejune, Othlon and Sharon being wonderfully organised and not needing any of it. I'm so glad we were early.

We had just arrived in Starbucks and were beginning to look threateningly at the occupants of 'our' comfy chairs when a woman approached me. I think she'd spotted my (now endangered) Stitch 'n' Bitch Chicago t-shirt. "Are you the stitching bitches?" She asked. I confirmed it with a smile and she handed me an old Grace Bros carry bag. "I'd like you to have these", she said. "I can't knit anymore and thought you could use them."

The bag contained sets of needles and several patterns - a 1946 Knitcraft volume, a 1960s book on stockings, some 1970s crochet patterns and some actually tasteful 1980s patterns. Trish is the woman's name. She has Parkinson's now and can no longer knit. I sat and talked with Trish while she had her iced coffee and we went through some of the patterns. She showed me which patterns from the 1946 book she had knitted as a young woman and we giggled together over the advertisements. She told me about the scarcity of wool in England during WWII and how when a shop got a stock of wool in word went around like lightening and everyone raced down to buy up. She couldn't remember if wool was rationed, but fabric certainly was. Trish has always knitted and loved it. She was so pleased to find out about us because she wanted to hand on her knitting patterns and needles to someone who could use them.

I was deeply touched by Trish's generosity. It must have been an effort for her to get from Garran to Civic on a very hot evening. I will treasure the needles and the 1946 pattern book that I took for myself , and I'm sure those others of us who also accepted her kind offer will too.

One of the things I love about knitting is the connection it gives to women of earlier generations. Yes there were women of earlier generations (and probably lots of them) for whom knitting was a chore. For others, though, it was a creative act and an act of love which they cherised as we, who do not NEED to knit, do.

When commentators talk about knitting not being from grandmothers anymore I hope they also remember that if it were not for our grandmothers and for generations of women before them many of us would not be knitters now. Thankyou, Trish, for reminding me.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Comments post

Ah, Spidey - you're a loyal soul.

Surely $5 is cheap to spend an evening in guilt free knitting and gossip!

Also, tea & coffee & bikkies included. I spend more than that on drinks etc at Starbucks.

Kambah is closer than Civic for me.

This one is for any handcrafts and the shop does stock some knitting supplies. We have to convince SOMEONE in this town to stock bamboo circs and dpns on a regular basis.

Other handcrafters will get to know of SnB - I will take our flyers!

Think of it as me making a sacrifice of time and money to ensure regular supplies of our favourite substances of addiction and the equipment necessary for its consumption ;).

I'm a knitting love bucket - the more I give out, the more room there is for more knitting love in the bucket. Much nicer image than that of SnB slut!