Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Tag Team

Grumble, grumble, moan, moan, mutter mutter, I hate memes and I've been tagged twice in a week!

I'm wondering if I can combine Bells' 6 weird things, with Twitchy Fingers' , 5 things I haven't told you about myself on my blog in the last 12 months, but don't know if that will work.

Last year it was only 5 weird things so you can have all of last year's weird things, Bells, plus

6. My personal library is divided in fiction and non-fiction. They live in different parts of the house. Within that, fiction is filed alphabetically by author and non-fiction roughly into subjects. I guess it's an occupational hazard, but I actually know someone who is not a librarian who used to borrow my Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC 19 it was then) to classify his personal library. And you though I was weird.


1. See (A.6) above

2. I don't go much for personal reflection - tends to degenerate fairly quickly into "I'm not good enough in any possible way" to be truly useful.

3. When I was 14 or 15 I overheard one of my teachers tell another teacher that I was a nice girl but had such a bad inferiority complex. I had to look up what an inferiority complex was, then I was mortified. I'm still working on that one - see (B.2) above.

4. My favourite toy as a child was Mum's button jar. I used to spend hours sorting and classifying them. Colour, number of holes, shanks, shapes, material etc. My brother used to count the money in our money boxes. This may go part of the way to explaining my choice of profession, and his. He's an accounts clerk, by the way, and has a considerable real estate portfolio.

5. Last year I used a 2mm metal dpn to let down a tyre on the van of a group of young men who said VERY rude things to me about my weight. I left a note on the windscreen that said "Fat, not deaf". I would do it again, only this time, I wouldn't just let down one tyre, it would be at least two.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Great Southern Supreme Merino Show

And you think your stash is big...
Mallee Pavilion, Exhibition Park in Canberra, 10am

Many sheep, many knitters, spinners and felters, some stash expansion. Very tired, very happy, will post pics and story tomorrow (maybe).

Saturday, January 20, 2007

You just like me 'cos I'm good in bed

Time Thief Watch Cap 2007.03
7am, My Bed, Pearce

Working with 8ply for the watch caps is really slowing me down. This one took nearly two weeks.

Partly it's this particular yarn. 100g skein of Little Bo Peep, produced by a mill in Geelong (but my stash of it purchaed at local op-shops in the last 12 months) that only spun Corriedale and Merino fleeces. The yarn has a lot of the lanolin still in and are in the natural fleece colours. The grease in the wool has made it rather slow going because it doesn't slide along the needle as readily as more processed wools. Also, with our 30C+ heat every day this week, the lanolin became very sticky making it less than pleasant to knit with and reducing speed knitting further. I've another skein of the yarn in the same colourway as this. Might save that until the weather cools, though. Last week's beanie was in Little Bo Peep as well (donated by Spidey), but the lanolin content was far less than this one.

I broke my own rule about only knitting these in time otherwise not devoted to knitting and finished the decreases this morning watching the first episode in a Blake's 7 marathon.
I missed Blake's 7 the first time around, but found the complete first season on DVD at my local library yesterday and thought it time to broaden my experience with science fiction (not my favourite genre). Maybe it was the tragic 70s hairdos and wobbly sets that made me think of Skyhooks for the photographic shoot. For a rock down memory lane with the Skyhooks song book, go here.

Lessons learned:

  • do not knit naturally greasy wool in very hot tempertures
  • I can work out "fixes" to patterns if I need to (I finally got the decreases right for the 8ply).
  • A small calculator is now part of the knitting tool kit.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Merino Madness - Announcement

For the first time in Canberra, the Great Southern Supreme Merino Show and Sale is on this weekend Sat 20-Mon 22 Jan at Exhibition Park in Canberra (the Showground). Map downloadable from here .

There will be 300 quality sheep on display Saturday and Sunday and on Monday 120 rams will be sold.

Throughout the weekend in the Mallee Pavilion there will be opportunities to learn about Merino sheep and wool, how to felt, weave and knit in an interactive area, as well as stash enhancement opportunities.

All knitters are invited to come along and knit in the Mallee Pavilion. I'm sure spinners and weavers are also welcome and intend taking my trusty Kiwi on one of the days. Saturday 12-5, Sunday 9-5, Monday 9-2.

You'll need to bring a chair to sit on and your knitting, spinning or weaving. Food is available in the nearby Fitzroy Pavilion and a coffee machine is in the Mallee Pavilion.

Some of the knitters from Canberra Stitch & Bitch and also from the Canberra Mothercraft Society knitting group will be there. We'd love to see others.

Image courtesy of the fine people at The Canberra Times.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Tips from the Vault: Blanket Storing


Blanket Storing: Blankets and woollens which are to be stored during the summer can be kept free from vermin if mint, previously dried in the sun or oven, is sprinkled between them and the articles rolled in newspaper. Be sure to fasten each end securely and store the parcels on airy shelves.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The beat goes on

I’ve written before about how knitting in public gives people the excuse to talk to you. It’s partly about commonality of experience. The same thing happens when you walk the dog or do anything in public when visibly pregnant.

I met Mary (not her real name), a woman in her 70s, in a queue to buy veg at the CIT Farmers’ Market this morning.

I sat Mum in the shade, took out my latest Time Thief Watch Cap and joined the rather long queue. Mary was ahead of me. She smiled and nodded at my knitting and told me how she doesn’t knit much anymore, just booties for premmie babies at the hospital. Jumpers are too heavy for her hands now. We discussed needle types – she prefers the old torties and aren’t they hard to find nowadays? - and agreed how circular needles really do make knitting in the round much quicker. We discussed how booties are not the ideal opportunistic knitting project and agreed that beanies are just right. She didn’t think it was at all odd that I was knitting a beanie in the middle of a hot, dry Canberra summer.

It says something about knitters that initial conversations usually take on a similar pattern - what we knit now, what we used to knit and how we learned to knit. Partly it's about establishing bona fides in the subject under discussion and partly it is about the unspoken communication that goes on in these conversations. It is taken for granted in these communications, that we knit out of love. Love for knitting and love for the people we knit for. There is also an assumed understanding of the generational interconnectedness of our craft. I rarely speak of any of this to the strangers who talk about my knitting and theirs, but the knowledge is always there.

Mary’s grandmother taught her to knit when Mary was 4 years old. Grandmother also taught Mary’s younger sister, who was 3 years of age and desperate to be able to do what Mary could. Grandmother provided Mary with very large yellow needles (about 5mm diameter and 30cm long going by Mary’s gesticulations) and very fine baby wool. When Mary was 4, baby wool in Australia was 2 or 3 ply – laceweight really. Mary still has those needles at home. She told me they are among her treasured possessions.

By now Mary will have two of her granddaughters with her for a few days. The girls are 10 and 11 years old and, following our discussion, Mary thinks teaching them to knit and revealing to them the magic of pom-pom making might be something to keep them occupied while they visit and, incidentally, a way of connecting six generations of women.

The illustration is Jean McKenzie knitting in 1917, from the collection of the State Library of Queensland.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Bally Brilliant

Bally Sandals
1pm, Front Porch, Pearce

1pm, Front Porch, Pearce

I paid the ransom on these shoes at my local Salvos this morning. Today was meant to be deposit only day but at a whopping $2 a pair I had to make a withdrawal as well.

The Bally sandals are ideal in every way. I have a great deal of difficulty getting summer shoes to fit my broad feet. These fit and are lovely. They only allow the smallest glimpse of toe and they are perfectly flat. They have also recently had new heels. No further expenditure required apart from a bit of polish.

The RM Williams boots also fit absolutely perfectly and have been worn in very well. The elastic is still firm (what I need to support that ankle which never fully recovered from the break 2 years ago). They do require new heels and a very good polish, but as a pair of black RM Williams boots was on my list of things I would like to buy this year if I've been very good and if I managed to save up some "silly money ", I could hardly leave them behind.

PS. edited 7.30 pm to say that I had to pop out to visit a friend late this arvo and dropped off two pairs of shoes to another op-shop. Two pairs in, two pairs out. Excellent net result.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Project Spectrum 2.0

Just signed up for Project Spectrum 2.0 over at Lolly Knitting Around. I figure it will be good for that whole developing my sense of colour and detail thing.

February / March Blue, White, Gray
April / May Green, Yellow, Pink
June / July Red, Black, Metallics
August / September Brown, Orange, Purple

Beyond signing up I have set no rules for myself. I will not necessarily only knit in the colours prescribed for the month. It's about increasing awareness, not setting myself up to fail.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Flick o' the wrist

7am, Messy Room, Pearce

Pattern: Earthy Computer Mouse Pad Wrist Pillow by Jennifer Tallapaneni of Pie Knits

Materials: So proud that this is completely UWYH.
  • Small amount of 8ply cotton left over from the Christmas wash cloth extravaganza
  • Cardboard reinforcement for the bottom is from a block of Lindt 85%
  • Stuffing - two stockings irretrievably laddered and waiting patiently in the busy box. I use old stockings, knee hi-s etc for tying up new plants and other garden and household uses. Actually, the uses for stockings and pantyhose that can no longer be worn are plentiful and will be the subject for another day.

Too much data entry at work on a poorly designed database meant I was a bit sore in the arms last night. NOT a good thing for a knitter. I was too sore to pick up my current project and using the mouse at home was hurting, too. What I really need is a wrist rest. Almost as quickly as I thought - "Hey, wonder how I could knit one of those?", I found a pattern on Pie Knits' site.

This knits up in an hour. You can't get more instant knitting gratification than that.

When I knit this again, I will use 3.5mm needles rather than 3.7mm and I think I'll use a combination of wheat or rice and lavender for the filling so it smells nice and supports my wrist better. I'll probably have to sew a lining though.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Strange Fruit

8pm, Lemon Tree, Pearce

Twins are twice the love and twice the knitting deadlines for garments that have to be the same but different. These shawls are 12th birthday presents for the lights of my life, my nieces.

They need blocking but there are 7 weeks until the birthday so I'm further ahead than usual.

Yarn: 2 x 100g skeins of hand-dyed boucle mohair from Australian independent producer Colored Jules (one skein per shawl)

Pattern: Simple garter stitch triangular shawl pattern printed on the back of the card which came with the wool.

Needles: How cross-making. I had to buy 15mm needles to make these shawls. El cheapo Pony needles from Big W, but in a very nice symmetery I bought them on the last day of 2006 with the remaining 2005 Christmas gift voucher from the twins' parents .

Lessons learned:

  • Knitting with large needles is awful.
  • Garter stitch can be meditative. It can also be dull.
  • Knitting the same but different is still the same when you aren't having fun.
  • Non-knitters think you're really clever knitting "lace" in striking yarn.
  • Mothers never forget and knitting mothers are not as easily fooled as muggles. Mum reminded me that at age 10 or 11, a very simple triangular shawl knitted on "rocket" needles from cream loopy mohair (so 1976) was the very first project I ever completed. She began this reminder with the comment "Are you learning to knit again?"
  • With a bit of luck, this will be the last Barbie SpewTM colourway the girls will want now they are almost teenagers.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Tips from the Vault: Angora Jumpers


Angora Jumpers:
To wash Angora jumpers, etc., squeeze till clean in lukewarm water and soap-flakes and rinse by squeezing in fresh lukewarm water. Fold carefully, pass through a wringer till no more water can be extracted, then shake and spread out on a flat, warm place to dry. When dry brush up the fluffy surface with a very soft brush.

Dad uncovered this wee book at home. I've, erm, "borrowed" it. Published by EW Cole of the much loved Cole's Funny Picture Books, it's great fun.

Like all handy household hint books, there are some absolute gems among the dross. Over the next little while, I'll share with you some of Mary Mansfield Cook's pearls of wisdom for knitters and sewers. Might just sneak some of the others in as well. Not all of the tips will be practical, but they should be entertaining.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Taph the Stash Slayer

8am, ACT Heritage Library, Canberra

Got some seriously odd looks walking to work this morning. What is so strange about a woman walking and knitting a beanie? Nothing. Then I caught my reflection in a window. The 15mm needles sticking out the top of my backpack would look pretty strange, if not downright menacing, to the Buffy generation.

Time Thief Watch Cap 2007.02
7am, Herb Garden, Pearce

All out of the usual 12ply, so I've started on the 8ply stash. Slower to knit and I've had to rejig the pattern, but it still serves the purpose. Not so sure about the decreases in this version - will have to play with the pattern some more.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Plum Loco

10.15am, CIT Farmers' Market, Phillip.

I'm trying to develop a better eye for colour and for detail. So if I see something that appeals it will be photographed or recorded it in some way.
Wouldn't this make a fantastic yarn colourway?

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Light as a Feathers

10.35am, Salvos Store, Phillip.

An interesting use for the execrable Feathers yarn. I reckon the lamp shade is trying to crawl into that waste paper basket it's sitting on.
Please note the sign behind the lamp shade. It warns customers against touching items on this particular table. AS IF!

Still Life

"Coffee Beanie"
11.50 am, Qantas Arrivals Lounge, Canberra International Airport
The flight I was meeting was 50 minutes late, I was bored, it was funny at the time.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Have you any dirty washing, mother dear?

The fact that I had to go back to World War II for a popular song reference to washing (laundry for my North American friends) means there's a real gap in the market for domestic pop tunes, I reckon.

Here's what's on my line at the moment.

Hand dyed 2ply baby wool. The Happy Spider dyed it for me - she's very talented, you should buy her stuff when she lists it on e-Bay (none there now, but it's only a matter of time) .

This is meant to be for baby stash items. Would the babies really appreciate it? Would they know the difference between vintage Shepherd 2ply wool and Bendy baby nylon? That I'm coming up with names like Tequila Sunrise and Lime Spider probably tells you which way I'm leaning right now.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

FO: Puppy Paw Scarf

Pattern: Kid Merino Cat’s Puppy Paw Lace Scarf

Yarn: 25g (half a ball) of Anny Blatt Fine Kid (51% wool, 49% Kid Mohair) in Colour 84100 Orange, a birthday gift.

Needles: A 6.5mm bamboo circular needle. The stitches fitted just beautifully along the shaft of the needle.

I love this yarn. It unravelled pretty well for mohair (a good thing for this particular knitter) and stood up to several unravellings in the first few pattern repeats. The colours are gorgeous and well chosen. Mum reckons they match my hazel eyes. Also, Peggy has discovered it. She evinces little interest in knitting most of the time except to resent it or play put-the-paw-on-the-ball-of-yarn-so-Mum-has-to-pay-attention-to-me but with this, everytime it's out she nuzzles it and then rests her cheek on it. I may have to buy her a ball of her own.

Obviously the scarf isn't blocked yet, but it will have to wait until the weekend and I had to show you now.

Lessons learned:

  • Bamboo needles and kid mohair are a match made in knitvarnaTM.
  • Lace needs really pointy sticks – the vintage plastic needles I started this on, gorgeous stubby needles just crying out for scarf knitting that they are, were blunt as buggery and made this project a nightmare until I worked out pointy is best.
  • I have the attention span of an ADHD moth. I’ve multi-tasked knitting with everything else in my life for so long that concentrating on even basic lace was a challenge. This had to be knitted at home with only mindless tv and Peggy for company.
  • Apart from very pointy needles, a row counter is my best friend and should be used consistently and well.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Gifts from generous spirits

I'm in a bit of a bind. I want to gloat over show you and acknowledge these thoughtful and beautiful gifts I received for my birthday and Christmas but I feel that gift giving is very personal and I don't want to embarrass anyone.

I will settle for showing you some of them. Everyone concerned has been thanked, and I do so again.
A knitting puppy card, framed
Wine especially designed for knitters

Handyed laceweight, sock wool and cashmere
Anny Blatt kid mohair (some of which is already knitted)

Monday, January 01, 2007


Yarn: 100g of 14 ply (chunky, bulky, )

Needles: 6.5mm needles (Imperial 3, US 10.5)

Notions: darning needle for the endy bits, button (optional)

Tension: 14st to 10cm (4") over pattern

Finished Dimensions: 87 cm x 13cm (34" x 5")

k = knit
p = purl
sl = slip stitch with yarn in front of needle
yfrn = yarn forward round the needle

Pattern (Herringbone Lace Rib):
Cast on 22 stitches
Row 1 (right side): sl1, *p1, k1, yfrn, p2tog, k1, p1, k1; rep from * to end.
Row 2: sl1, *k2, yfrn, p2tog, k2, p1; rep from * to end.

Repeat these two rows until you're almost out of yarn, cast off.
Darn in ends.

Because this is a very short scarf, more of a necklet really, I sewed a button as a closure. The lacy pattern provides a button hole. It does up on my breast bone and the top of the scarf rolls a little to form a small shawl collar. I also chose to show off the reverse side of the pattern becuse you get to see the beautiful colours of the yarn better.

Right side of the pattern in a plain yarn.

Reverse side of the pattern in a plain yarn.

I bought this wool at the Wool Room Country Store in Young. It is 109g hand dyed and spun Corriedale.

After the endless black cotton of the Mary Ann wrap (nore on this at a later date), which followed the endless white cotton of the 39 wash cloths (almost half of which were in basic white), I was absolutely desperate for colour and woolly colour at that. This is gorgeous and springy and not blocked because I want that dense springiness to remain.

Many false starts and rechecking of the stitch dictionaries occurred and the first metre or so of the yarn was starting to show definite signs of fatigue before I settled on the Herringbone Lace Rib. I was really looking for a double sided pattern, but after the first few repeats of this pattern I fell in love. The back and front of this pattern are different, but they are equally lovely.

Thunder in my heart

The forecast rain for NY Eve turned out to be a storm of reasonable proportions: hail, rain (there is a tide mark on my back door 3" up), high winds.

We'd just sat down to dinner with the in-laws (sigh) when it hit. My brother went out to check the block of flats he caretakes and came home past my place. The lovely gum tree in my front yard had divested itself of two branches, the biggest of which is 6m long, over the road. He dragged it back onto my place.

I wonder if the relevant authorities will deem it time to trim this tree. It's twice the height of my house and has horizontal branches (the ones that drop) and dead ones, too. We asked them to come 12 months ago - about the time a man two suburbs away was killed by a branch that fell from a tree just like mine. These trees are not known as widow-makers for nothing. Yes, the front yard is still in the nursery stage is progressing but slowly due to the drought.

In knitting news, I finished the teal and cream beanie with the in-laws last night and knitted through midnight on the red and green one. It's the basic Time Thief Watch Cap pattern. Instead of plain stripes, I played with random slip stitches - so much fun.