Friday, June 30, 2006

Signs that you may knit quite a bit..

when you walk into the tearoom at work, put the opaque plastic bag containing 3 sushi handrolls on the table and a colleague excitedly asks to see the new wool you bought!

Not every bag I carry contains yarn - well at least not all the time!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Also did this scarf knitted from a Paton's Velveteen and Ostritch kit. Don't mock - it was gift and I knitted it last night, finished it off this morning and will have it at TASDA as quick as I can to add to the raffle prizes.
Here's a closeup of the tassels. They remind me of cranberry coloured lamb's tails. They are made by casting on then immediately casting off and they get a cute little twist in them. The colour is a rosier colour than the photo. It got a lot of attention at the morning tea table today, so it should be a welcome prize for someone.

OK, so what else?

SnB with the usual supsects, Tupperware Party for Margit's first every demonstration at Mon's place. Finally got listing sewing patterns and stuff for sale on e-Bay so will be busy posting stuff off come Sunday. I have only scratched the surface, but it's a start.

By the time you read this another ex-poncho hat will be finished and quite soon another matinee jacket. I'm even making headway on JEC's cabled tunic (due last October, but she didn't know about it so she'll get it this October as a lovely surprise) . It's no longer a chore to knit this, I'm enjoying it! I can't tell you how relieved I am to have recovered my joie de tricot!

Mum delivered two matinee jackets last week to a very enthusiatic response from her physiotherapist whose wife is expecting their first child - most gratifying. Note to self, two more babies are due quite soon - knit more baby stuff.

Oh, I finished knitting up the test fabric from Lynne Johnson's workshop. I darned in all those hundreds of ends as little rosettes to add to the texture, leaving a few still flowing free. Need to find a pinky/mushroomy fabric to line it and make a little clutch bag. Again, night photography does not bring out the colour very well.

And I'm officially addicted to podcasts. I can now listen to them and I'm all caught up with Cast-On and making headway with KnitCast.

I'm over here

Computer viruses, human viruses and family dramas have left me a little behind in the posting stakes - sorry all and thanks to Kate and Gillian for checking in (within minutes of each other - how spooky is that?).

I have not been idle. There's this sweet little grey mystery mohair (stash busting 3 balls of it) kerchief knitted from a pattern in Yarn issue 2 to get me out of my knitting malaise of a couple of weeks ago.

And there's this mystery 12 ply (stash busting again!) moebius scarf from Simply Knitting (UK) Spring 2006 issue.

The moebius is REALLY easy to do and I enjoyed it a lot. I'm trying to find the headspace to design one for a specific wool (also in stash) that will be a cowl for me. I wear my hair up most of the time (I am a librarian, after all, so it's part of the dress code). A hat is therefore out of the question. A cowl I can pull over my head and ears is what I'm after and this technique is so compact with none of those messy scarf ends dangling in the breeze. It also makes one feel ever so clever knitting it.

It was edge of the seat knitting. I've never seen one in the flesh, so to speak, nor seen anyone knit one, so I was knitting blind and loving it. I have rediscovered my joie de tricot!

Continued right away - Blogger won't let me add more photos.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Nirvana Part II

Spent all day yesterday with a fabulous group of women in a Knitting Workshop with Lynne Johnson, who is one of my knitting heroes.

We chatted, we laughed, we ate, we knitted the most amazing fabrics and had our knitting mindsets opened to new possibilities of technique, finishing, colour and fibre use. I even knitted with Feathers!

Photos later as my computer is not at all well and may peg out at any stage.

Off to SnB this afternoon after a trip to the Open Day at the Narrabundah Long Stay Caravan Park, the residents of which may well lose their homes and a unique community disappear. Guess I'd better do something to document it.

My email is also patchy so if I haven't replied to something you think I should have, I'm sorry. It may be late next week before I can fix this problem.

Also there is a new issue of Vague, that irregular magazine for the terminally confused.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Lunatics / asylum ....

Apparently the disguise of mild-mannered librarian is working or I was sicker than I thought.

Had to wait for a prescription yesterday (thank heaven for Marie Curie and all her kind) so chose to wait at the dreaded Stitch 'n' Time. Hey, it's a wool shop 10 metres from the chemist, it was reasonable. Anyway, the little English woman was there on her own yesterday and serving a customer when I staggered in. I was cruising the bookshelf (2 Nicky Epstein - not the most recent, and a good book on felted knits) when the other customer left and our friendly assistant looked pleadingly at me and asked if I'd mind the shop while she popped out for a coffee.

For 3 minutes yesterday morning I reached Nirvana.


Thanks to all of you for your good wishes. The drugs are kicking in and I'm heading back to work today. Still snuffling and hacking, but am more awake.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Crook as Rookwood

Seasonal illness is the pits. How I know I'm sick:

  1. I'm not at work OR op-shopping
  2. I didn't go to SnB lat night
  3. I'm not going out to dinner and listening to Les Murray read poetry tonight
  4. I'm not going to the BookCrossing Booking tomorrow night
  5. Knitting seems boring and pointless.

I'm drinking water, resting and praying for a speedy recovery.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

FO: Trans-Siberian Watch Cap

A little while ago I started knitting Sarah Bradberry's family watch cap in some hand spun wool purchased from an op-shop. It was roughly 8ply and uninspiring in the ball. Once knitted, though, its beauty became obvious. The yarn is soft and warm. It's a beige colour but with charming little flecks of dark and mid-brown. It was a joy to knit on bamboo dpns.

It was such a joy to knit, I didn't think I could give it away even though it is not the sort of hat I would normally wear. Then Dad announced that in September 2007 he is taking a long-desired trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway. I figure even in an airconditioned train and even in September, there may be the odd nippy evening, so Dad gets the hat previously known as Porridge.

A few notes on the pattern. I knitted the circumference for the largest size but shortened the other dimensions. I really think 30.5cm plus a very gradual crown decrease was too long, even for a boofhead like Dad.


Finally blocked the Green Menace Shawl on the long weekend just passed. Failing to find any definitive advice on the blocking of mohair lace, I cobbled together a technique.

Somewhere I read that mohair is delicate when wet so should be spritzed. There was no explanation of the verb "to spritz". I took it to mean that mohair lace should not be fully immersed and wrung out like other wool but should be dampened - perhaps by spraying with water. I didn't really feel like spraying water all over the parlour or the spare bedroom and doubted I'd be able to evenly wet the shawl this way, so I thoroughly dampened an old white bath towel and wrapped the shawl in it. By thoroughly dampened I mean not dripping wet or just moist but about the same amount of wet as would come out of the spin cycle of a washing machine.

The rolled up shawl/towel was left overnight and then pinned out on the spare bed. It was left to fend for itself for two days. Here it is before I unpinned it last night.

I'm a bit disappointed that the scallops didn't block all that well - it was a bit tight. If you look really hard, you'll also spot a mistake with the centre rib - it went off for about 8 rows.

What do you think? This was knitted for a charity raffle and it is far from perfect. Should knit something else for the raffle or submit this?

FO: Voodoo Wristwarmers

At long last, the Voodoo wristwarmers by Bonne Marie Burns from Knitty are finished. Easy peasy, although I did do a bigger thumb hole as advised by Jejune (thanks, matey).

These were definitely Use What You Have, as the Heirloom 8ply wool was leftover from the Wedding Hats and Beau's Beanie earlier in the year.

Here the wristwarmers are reclining on the TASDA Jade Mohair Shawl. They are not the most elegant garment ever knitted, but that's ok as they are only required for pegging out washing in the mornings and reading in bed at nights.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Heartfelt thanks

You are all wonderful - thanks so much for your words of advice and encouragement.

Haven't actually acted on any of it yet, but I hope to this afternoon once I find where the puppy has hidden all the tennis ball.s

Yesterday was an unintentional non-knitting day. Had to shop for some essentials like food, a digital camera and an MP3 player which all took longer than expected. I'd saved up for the sales and ended up with a 20g portable hdd/mp3 player and a cheapie Kodak digital which is still better than the 2 mega pixel thing I've been using or borrowing from work. Had to do a clothes shop for Mum, too, and then babysitting for my SIL. Lots of giggles with 4 little girls and no knitting at all. Then cracker-night with all the neighbourhood kids and a night at the computer loading software and learning how to rip to my mp3 player.

I am such a dag that the first things I loaded were 3 audio books and a cd of Renaissance choral music. It's pretty easy but quite time-consuming. Still, I have about 35 hours of audio books loaded which should keep me going for a while.

This morning I took Mum shopping for new shoes and a quick trip to The Warehouse. The list of projects to finish this long weekend hasn't got a lot shorter, but I think I'm making forward progress.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Fulling Monty

This stuff followed me home from the op-shop the other day. I patted it and it followed me home, I swear ...

It's 49 balls (difficult to call something that large a ball) of Chinook wool. It's kind of bulky and not twisted at all. It's "floofy"and has a funky 1970s label and was made for export to Canada.. Looks like it should felt well.

I like the blue and green colours but am not so fussed on the brown ones but reckon they will dye pretty well.You do, of course, realise, that I have never felted (intentionally) or dyed (intentionally), but I've read the theory and muttered the famous last words "How hard could it be?"

So I trawl the internet and my books and mags for knit then felt patterns. I'm thinking totes, I'm thinking slippers, I'm thinking I may never knit with another yarn again.

The "ball" label says the yarn should be knitted at a tension of 10 stitches and 16 rows to 10cm. It fails nominate a needle size on which one should expect to get this gauge. Never mind, research suggests that a 9mm needle might be the one.

I knit a tension square on 9mm needles. Nice, 'ey?

My tension is 11 stitches and 16 rows to 10cm but it looks nice, so this will be the basis for calculations. I race over to my LYS after work Friday to pick up a set of 9mm dpns to do slippers and stuff. I also come home with a set of 1.25mm dpns because I don't like to discriminate on the basis of size.

Today, with several very large piles of washing to do and rain threatening, the square (in a lingerie bag) and a load of sheets goes in a hot wash and we wait for the miracle of fulling to occur.

The "fullness of time" does not happen in the first load. In fact, the fibres have barely begun to mix but I am not dismayed. I have read that it may take more than one go. In with the cotton blanket and the doona cover it goes and at the end of this cycle, there has been some minor shrinkage.

I am, at this stage, experiencing the first stirrings of concern. I was awake in enough science classes to know that this experiment could use a control.

As it happens, I'd knitted up a odd ball of Lincraft Big Wool into a rectangle (dimensions not taken) a few weeks ago in a fit of therapeutic stocking stitch on big needles. It is quickly sewed into an envelope shape. Both the square and the envelope, in separate bags, go into a small hot wash with some terry toweling tea towels for agitation. Result! The Lincraft wool felted really well, some small change is evident in the tension square. I notice at this point that the square is felting more on the edges than in the centre - kind of like how a microwave heats a bowl of soup from the outside in.

The Lincraft envelope is doing well but could probably do with another cycle and I decide that the lingerie bag is probably too smooth for maximum abrasion so the tension square goes into the rice bag with the Lincraft envelope.

This time the envelope looks just right. Here it is drying. You'll have to trust that it was 1/3 larger before I felted it.

Maybe the tension was too loose in the square to promote adequate felting so I knit another on 8mm needles. Tension is now 11.5 stitches and 16 rows to 10cm. Not a huge difference, but maybe it's enough. Into another rice bag goes this square and both go into the machine again, and again, and again.

On a side note. 10k rice bags with zippers make excellent small project bags as well as machine-felting bags. I do suggest overlocking or zig-zagging the raw seams and washing them before use, though.

I'm getting a bit desperate by now and it's getting quite late in the day. I sit down with a cup of tea and ponder over a few rounds of the second Voodoo Wristwarmer (it's on the list to be finished this weekend). A light bulb appears above my head when I notice the ball band for the Lincraft Big Wool. Let's see, what tension was that knitted that at? Hmm, 12sts and 18 rows on 7mm needles. I find 7mm needles and knit yet another tension square. Waddaya know, 12 sts and 18 rows to 10cm! Maybe this is it, the magical tension at which the swatch will felt like the Lincraft Big Wool.

Back to the washing machine. This time, 3 swatches are doing the rounds with the pot holders and the last of the tea towels. I've also started pegging the damn things folded in half to promote even felting. It seems that thy fold in on themselves in he machine and protect the centres from agitation.

Here's my first swatch after a whole day of hot water and half an hour in the spin dryer. Well you would be able to see the swatch if blogger would let me.

I have now lost count of the number of times the tension squares have been washed and how much water has gone onto my front garden (I pump out the grey water) on a day when it hasn't stopped raining. The other two swatches are still going round and I'm very tired.

Anyone got bright ideas for improving my fulling?

Friday, June 09, 2006

Seven Things Part 6 (the end)

Apparently I overestimated the size of my own feet. Tried the green opal sock on last night and it was an inch past my big toe. I get to unravel again. O joy.

  1. Lie convincingly
  2. Walk past an open op-shop (but you already knew that)
  3. Play a musical instrument (8 years of piano lessons completely wasted)
  4. Do mental arithmetic with any degree of accuracy
  5. Understand the current craze for making crappy soft toys (I realise I may be exiled from the Blogdom for this one)
  6. Separate my coloureds from my whites
  7. Conceive and carry a child to term

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Seven Things Parts 4 & 5

More green opal sock knitted. My SIL saw it and asked me if I was knitting something for one of the dogs. Bloody hell. I know my feet are big, but they aren't that big!

  1. The Three Billy Goats Gruff, Little Golden Book version (the first book I remember learning off by heart)
  2. The Monster that Ate Canberra by Michael Salmon (the first time I saw my home town reflected in literature and I know, now, that it was allegorical)
  3. Canberra Tales by Margaret Barbalet et al (the first time I saw the non-National Capital aspects of my home town reflected in literature)
  4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  5. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy by Lawrence Sterne
  6. Little Women by Louisa May Allcott (if you didn't want to be Jo you can't be my friend)
  7. The Bible (great stories, culturally significant and the King James Version is a beautiful version of the English language)
(Er, does the dog count? No? Ok, I'll do the list that makes sexy for me)
  1. Caring
  2. Principled
  3. Smart
  4. Funny
  5. Politically aware
  6. Knows that chocolate is an essential food group and when to administer it
  7. Loves animals

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Seven Things Parts 2 & 3

Yes, I did knit the green opal sock monogamously today thank you very much and I am at the black hole stage. Apparently my foot is static. I'm thinking amputation is an option here.


  1. Bugger it!
  2. Two minutes, I'll be there in two minutes.
  3. While you're up...
  4. Just one more row
  5. How's it going?
  6. Drink o'clock (I know, cringe-making!)
  7. Were you good today? (Peggy's almost always good, but I like to ask)

SEVEN THINGS TO DO BEFORE I DIE (and the act depicted to the left is not one of them)

  1. 1. Finish a knitted sock
  2. 2. Complete
  3. 3. one
  4. 4. of
  5. 5. these
  6. 6. bloody
  7. 7. lists

Because I couldn't find a suitable image for this post, I stole this one from The Deli.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Tagged: Seven Things Part I

Gillian tagged me with a meme ages ago. I hate these things, but in the interests of a more regular blog update that isn't devoted entirely to "I knitted two rounds of the sock..." which is about all I'm doing at the moment, I give you Part I of Seven Things.

in no particular order

On a side note - if anyone sees DVDs of any of these, please let me know.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Short Circuit - an accessory recipe

Want to knit a curly whirly scarf but don't own several very long circs and the endurance of a marathoner? Well get out your shortest needles, sharpen up your short row skills and grab a heap of your favourite yarn. This one's a stashbuster extraordinaire.

Any yarn at all will do for this. In the pictured sample I've used 4 x 50g balls of Cleckheaton Country Naturals 8ply (DK) roughly 384m (420 yards).

Use whatever size needle you would normally use for the yarn of your choice. The needles used in the sample were 4mm Ivore casein needles. Darning needle for dealing with the ends.

Note: If you use a slightly larger needle than you would normally use, say a 4.5mm needle for 8ply, your scarf will be drapier. A lovely effect.

Depends on materials and equipment. In 8ply on 4mm needles, 4 x 50g gets 70".

Basic Recipe:
Cast on 10 Stitches
Row 1: *Knit to end (10 sts)
Row 2: Knit 8, wrap next stitch, turn (Sarah Bradberry has a good explanation of wraps)
Row 3: Knit to end (8 sts)
Row 4: Knit 7, wrap next stitch, turn
Row 5: Knit to end (7 sts)
Row 6: Knit 6, wrap next stitch, turn
Row 7: Knit to end (6 sts)
Row 8: Knit 5, wrap next stitch, turn
Row 9: Knit to end (5 sts)
Row 10:Knit 4, wrap next stitch, turn
Row 11: Knit to end (4sts)
Row 11: Knit 3, wrap next stitch, turn
Row 12: Knit to end (3 sts)
Row 13: Knit 2, wrap next stitch, turn
Row 14: Knit to end (2 sts)
Row 15: Knit 1, wrap next stitch, turn
Row 16: Knit to end (1 st)
Row 17: Knit to end (10 sts)
Repeat from * until you reach desired length, run out of yarn or can't stand it any longer.
Cast off.
Sew in ends and drape elegantly around your neck.

Work on 16 or 20 stitches for a wider scarf.
Use a floppier yarn for a floppier scarf.
Add beads to the ends of the long edge on every 2nd or 4th row.
Alternate colours and textures.
Anything goes with this technique. I'll post other versions later and better photos than these of the basic scarf.

Added bonuses:
The ruffles have a lovely softening effect around the face (you have to be over 40 to understand this as a bonus).
Maximum KIP effect. I knitted on this for a few hours on a stall at a craft show today and it was a HUGE drawcard.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Startistis and its cure

I had an attack of conscience the other day and updated the OTN list (to the left and down a bit, yep, that's it, lovely, mmm... oh, sorry).

It was sobering to list these projects, mostly small ones and realise that startitis can be operating on such a deep level that it's almost imperceptible. Just another sock or hat seems small enough at the time, and is usually justifiable here in the Sophistry Room at Chez Taph, but they all have to be finished sometime.

So at Chez Taph much effort is going into finishing a few things before taking up needles again for new stuff. This is going to be a difficult resolve to stick to this week as I have 15 balls (shut up) of Opal sock yarn (shut up some more) arriving. Tell me you wouldn't have done the same thing at 75% off then shut up!

Celebrate with me, though, the completion of the Nicky Epstein Eat Your Heart Out Flower brooch and the Siberian Railway Hat, formerly known as the Porridge Hat.

I'll post details and pics later.