Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Finishing Post

Much to report for a week of non-blogging. Well I tried to blog but blogger buggered it up.

I may have fallen off the Use What You Have Month (UWYHM) wagon, but I've still completed several projects from what I had.

We have, for your viewing pleasure:

The Knitting Cape


The pattern is A capella from Knitty.com. My version is not elegant but it's serviceable.

No, knittydoll, unfortunately the Knitting Cape does not confer on the wearer knitting super-powers, like the ability to knit lace in an instant with no tedious unraveling when a YO has been missed! It does, however, keep this knitter toasty warm without all the bulk around the arms that too many layers of clothes adds.


This was knitted from two strands together of the homespun donated by my SIL's godmother in February. It used about 400 g. I will admit to buying the buttons ($1.80 from Big W) because I had no suitable ones at home. You can't see them in the pic because I hadn't sewn them on at that point, but they are now firmly secured and are a lovely mother-of-pearl finish, very thin and about the size of a 10c piece. There are four of them. I added the ruffle on the bottom, knitted in garter stitch with increases in every 4th stitch for 4 rows because cr****t and fringes are forbidden in this house.

I will admit to not really liking this wool when it was donated, but knitted up it's just lovely. The pearly grey colour gives way to mauves through to indigo with some pale pink and crimson.

Java Jarmies, Versions I and II

We rise early in the Taphophile household. We like to greet the day slowly and with generous doses of caffeine. Now that the weather has turned in Canberra, my early morning plunger of coffee is usually tepid after the first cup and stone cold by the third.

As I was finishing the ruffle on the Knitting Cape, I pondered the problem and immediately solved it. What was needed was a cosy for the Bodum. A few calculations later and we have Java Jarmies Version I.


It's double rib with the homespun knitted on two needles with a button hole flap to accommodate the handle and a v-shape in the centre front to accommodate the pouring lip. The bottom 3cm is stitched together.

Version I didn't have quite enough length in the button hole flap (only 6 stitches). Version II has 12 stitches which is too long. Version III will have 8.

Now there's one for work and one for home and have to create them for the other sizes and styles of coffee presses in the house. It works really well and the coffee stays at a drinkable temperature for about an hour, even in the arctic reaches of the kitchen.

Cap for Claire

A member of my work team loved the donated yarn so much she demanded I knit her a cap. She also demanded a jumper but that was never going to happen even had there been enough wool.

I used the Mark Thrailkill's Watch Cap pattern again and it worked a treat. The model here is Baby Chrissie. There's about 150g of the donated handspun left. Not sure what it will be yet.

Matinee Idols

The handbag usually contains a matinee jacket or other small and portable item of knitting. These two are the latest versions.

The aqua is sweet and the yellow is really very buttery. There will be more of these in the months to come as they are knitted in one piece from the top down on a circular needle and after the sleeves it's all plain sailing. Also, stash contains an awful lot of 3ply.

Beau's Beanie

Beau is the boy-manager of the Starbucks which is the SnB and BookCrossing venue. He is a lovely man who is very supportive of both groups so I thought he needed a little knitterly gift. This was knitted from the leftover Wedding Hat yarn to Needle Beetle's Sea Cap pattern.

He whipped it out of the bag this afternoon and stuck it straight on. He appeared delighted with it and it fitted quite well. Don't know about you, but I get very nervous giving knitted gifts, so his response was quite a relief.

Several things have been started, unravelled, restarted, unravelled and chucked in a box and some progress. More later.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Hold it

Just a little post to jot down some reminders for myself more than anything

FO: Knitting Cape (UWYH); Java Jarmies Mark I (UWYH); Beanie for Beau (UWYH)

OTN: Java Jarmies Mark II (UWYH)

THE ROYAL EASTER SHOW: Magpie Mohair; Back to Back Challenge & Baaarbara; Donna Hay; Tea

GIFTS: Fleece; Ack

Saturday, April 15, 2006

A Very Good Friday

Finally left work at 4 on Thursday afternoon. Yes, I know I was leaving at lunchtime but sometimes I just have to be the boss and lead by example - that and there was a lot to do and very few staff to do it.

Anyway, a few stops for petrol etc. and I was on my way. The road to and from Sydney I have driven hundreds of times and in the gathering dark is not particularly interesting. The audio-book was fine company, "A Spell of Winter" by Helen Dunmore, won the Orange Prize a few years back, and reached Sydney in reasonable time. Stopped at Coles at one of the big malls, and ran full-force into Easter. It took 90 minutes to get out and I had 4 potatoes, 2 zucchini, a carrot, some broccoli, a litre of soy milk, a loaf of bread, a dozen eggs, two lamb steaks, a packet of dried apricots and some soy icecream (So Good Chocolate - definitely OK particularly when on special).

Screaming kids and late evening after a long day; thankfully I had my knitting! I nearly left my handbag knitting at home but at the last minute chucked it into the daypack and now I'm REALLY pleased. It's amazing how much of a baby's matinee jacket (yes, another one) can be knitted standing in a supermarket queue for an hour, while inching the shopping basket towards the checkout with one's foot.

Eventually got to Gaye and David's just after 9pm. Unpacked the groceries, unpacked the clothes, sorted out the knitting projects (I brought 5, not including the handbag knitting). This may be overkill but due to babysitting the nieces and nephew on Wednesday night with no notice at all, there was no time for decision making.

Yes, Jejune and Judy, a sock is among these projects, along with Angelina, JEC's cabled tunic, a capelet and a shawl.

Friday - it was forecast to be 29 deg so this little black duck opted for continuous pots of coffee, a book ("Elegance" by Kathleen Tressaro - definitely better than your average chick lit) and knitting the capelet. Radio National played a very good recording of the St Matthew Passion all morning. I had a lovely day.

Capelet no. 1 is a bit (read only a young child could wear this) small. Obviously the homespun (regular readers, yes both of you, might remember the gift of homespun from my SIL's godmother) isn't as chunky as first thought. Using the A Capella pattern from Knitty. And before anyone can accuse me of not doing a tension square the pattern says guage isn't important! Obviously the designer lied and wanted me to buy hideously expensive American yarn but I won't be beaten and there's LOTS of this wool, so I've started another one using two strands of wool. This one is definitely chunkier and it's absolutely Use What You Have.

Right, now it's time for a shower and my assault on the op shops of the Inner West, Reverse Garbage and Blue Bags v Tigers at Henson Park (I'm HOME, my lovelies).

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Holiday Knitting

I'm off to Sydney for Easter. Four whole days to myself! One day at the Royal Easter Show, an afternoon watching my favourite Rugby League team, the mighty Blue Bags, play at home (I MISS Henson Park, people) and trips to Kumfs for a new pair of boots and shoes, Haighs for some chocky frogs and maybe an Easter bilby, and one work related trip, but just a small one, promise. I'm not telling the Sydney crowd I'm in town. Selfish, I know, but I REALLY need a break.

Food staples are packed - cereal, coffee grounds, thermos, packet of sweets, travel mug and water bottle. Clothes are packed - two pairs of jeans, four black t-shirts, a black jumper, a black spray jacket, jim jams, an appropriate quantity of socks and jocks, one pair black boots. I've selected the audio books for the car and packed a couple of novels for other times.

Major dilemma - what knitting to pack?

Do I take one or more of the current projects to complete or do I pack something new so I have a souvenir? Decisions, decisions.

Definitley not the Motherly Mohair, which has been shelved. Mum's getting Tupperware icecube trays for her birthday instead. Sounds dull, I know, but these icecube trays are FANTASTIC. The SIL and nephew, who also have birthdays this month, are getting cash, so gift projects are off the list.

I'm wavering between socks and a wrap. Will decide tomorrow, I guess.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Constitution: Weak

At least the fall from the "Use What You Have Month" wagon is cushioned by wool.

Sorry everyone, but 22 balls of black Cleckheaton 8ply, all in the same dyelot for $1 a ball was too good an opportunity to walk away from. I will admit that the two balls of Patonyle and four balls of vintage Patons Azalea for a total of $5.50 wasn't strictly necessary, but as I was buying the 8ply anyway...

I did leave lots of other beautiful wool there, though. St VdeP at Curtin if anyone's interested. ;)

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Mood: Chuffed

For several reasons, I am chuffed.

  1. I'm still on the "Use What You Have Month" wagon. Admittedly working all day yesterday limited the opportunites, but I could have been bad and wasn't.
  2. Yesterday's work was staffing an information desk at the Heraldry and Genealogy Society of Canberra's genealogy showcase. Not busy at all and I knitted most of the time. Finished another matinee jacket and also my first "Use What You Have Month" item, a black beanie from the yarn left over from the Wedding Hats. I think this beanie will be a gift to our favourite barista, Beau the Boy Manager of Starbucks, Civic. (pics later)
  3. The intermittant decluttering at Chez Taph reached a whole new level today. Two young women of my acquaintance (work with the mother of one and am a neighbour to the other, who's father was in the Airforce with my dad - it's Canberra, happens all the time) are about to move out of home. This afternoon they collected a two seater couch and a pine wardrobe to add to their furnishings. In order to find room for the stuff that had been in the wardrobe (TV and DVD/VCR, videos, dvds and large amount of stash), I cleared out a chest of drawers and another wardrobe resuting in 5 garbage bags full of clothes and shoes going to St Vincent de Paul, 3 bags to my SIL and another bag for JEC.
  4. Franklin mentioned me in his blog. My reaction was the opposite of cool.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Easter bunny arrives a little early

Popped over to see my friend Gaye this evening. She's down looking after grandchildren, so not staying with me this time. David stayed in Sydney.

I had to go over to hear about their most recent OS trip -
a couple of weeks in New Zealand and pick up these; the keys to heaven - well to Gaye and David's house in Sydney. I'll be staying there for Easter while they are in Melbourne.


I also had a lovely surprise of this; Lindt carrots - yum ;)






and a mystery box (not the fabric behind - that's a kid's applique thing that's going to become a needle roll sometime this month, but it suited the Easter theme).

The box is old, small and heavy and all the way from NZ. What can it be?



Woo hoo, it's a vintage yarn swift! The kids (3 & 5) were intrigued and then enthralled when I produced knitting from my handbag and we wound the ball onto the swift, then rewound it into a ball. Many rousing renditions of "Round and Round the Garden" and "Baa Baa Black Sheep" were sung to keep our spirits up.

The box is original and contains the original instructions. They are priceless! When I get the scanner's valves warmed up, I'll post it over on Vague. I'm in charge until the HappySpider returns from her island retreat, so I should do something soon.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Knitting in public

It is an established fact that I knit at any given opportunity. My handbag almost always contains a piece of small easy knitting that can be whipped out at traffic lights, in queues (God’s little gifts of knitting time) and while walking around in general. I have been known to knit and push a supermarket trolley with my tummy.

It was not unusual, then, for me to be knitting in the queue for the supermarket checkout yesterday. A woman in her 60s began a conversation that ended with me conducting an informal knitting in the round tutorial based on the problems she was having with her current project of a baby beanie on dpns.

On Saturday, at a Blue Hat Project follow-up, we were discussing the portable nature of knitting, how it lends itself to social and group activity and why was it so?

I ventured a thought that knitting in public is rather like walking the dog or being obviously pregnant – other people feel that they can speak to you (or the dog or your abdomen in some cases). There is a pretext for conversation and perhaps a commonality of experience that allows people to contravene unspoken but strong social taboos around personal space and talking to strangers (try starting a conversation in a lift/elevator and see what happens!).

So next time someone asks me “What are you knitting?� or even the annoying and ridiculous “Are you knitting?�, I will not roll my eyes, even metaphorically, and through gritted teeth reply, “Yes, I am knitting� adding internally “you moron.� But will smile and acknowledge that for a brief time another person wanted to make contact with me and that something I was doing allowed them to transcend powerful social taboos and I will rejoice - any positive (or even benign) human contact nowadays is a very Good Thing TM. :)

Sunday, April 02, 2006

New Toy


Ok, so it doesn't count as a corruption of the Use What You Have Month principles if it's something you've wanted for a long time and something you got outbid on eBay for last month and if it's a bargain - does it? I'll think the answer to this question is "no", otherwise I've fallen of the wagon on the very first day and might as well indulge. Definitely a "No", then. ;)

Last night I won this on eBay. Is she not beautiful, mes amies? We will have a poll to name her when she arrives and perhaps a little christening party?

Spin Sisters, when shall we meet?

Spidey, Mon and Heidi - I'm going to NEED you. Now that's the kind of spin class I'd be interested in joining!

In knitting news I spent yesterday afternoon in the company of some wonderfully talented craftswomen following up on our hat workshop from last month. Our facilitator was the wildly talented Lynne Johnson . I am trying to make fine wire and yarn work together in hat form. Not there yet, but getting closer. Will also try and incorporate the wonderful sinimay fibre.

This is all for the Blue Hat Project which I urge you to support. Make a hat (doesn't have to be an actual hat, could be drawing, painting, poem, jewellrey, embroidery etc) that expresses what the blues are to you and send it to the another amazingly talented and creative woman, Waltraud Reiner, by the end of June. She will exhibit it in the Hat Extravaganza during Hat Week (first week of September) at Federation Square in Melbourne. The hats will be auctioned to raise money for Beyond Blue.

If you don't think you can make a hat, you might like to buy a button or a key chain. I have some buttons - they are $4 each.

Canberrans, there will events around Hat Week here, including a Knit-In at Duffy School on 5 September. It's a work day, but I'll be applying for leave and it would be great to see as many of us there as possible. More details as they come to hand.