Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Be back Saturday

but don't tell Peggy, she's sleeping in my very messy room studio on her special sheepskin and old pillow.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Men are from ...

Mars is far too close to be where they are from and I'll tell you for why.

My parents have been married 42 years. For the first 30 of those years, Mum made Dad at least one jumper or cardie every single year. My entire childhood, the woman had needles in her hands.

You will all be aware that she has recently taken knitting up again with enthusiasm and is churning through my (she's started calling it "our") stash at a fair clip.

This morning Dad indicated the basket of 8ply in the corner and asked Mum as she was working on a wrist warmer -
"When do you think you'll be finished all that knitting?"

Mum and I are heading out of town tomorrow to visit her mother in Leeton, and also to meet up with Kate in Wagga Wagga.
I think it's really a ploy to torture me. Many, many hours of driving through rural NSW with Mum knitting in passenger seat. Inhuman!
There will be S.E.X. and I'll be doing a little research for the planned fibre freak day trips from Canberra routes we'd like to put up on Canberra Knitters.
Speaking of which blog, Jejune and Bells are keen to have a International KIP Day event (9 June). My suggestion of knit naked day was not enthusiastically taken up, but if you have better ideas, they'd love to hear them.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Knit Lit Bits

Not much interesting knitting news. Not much knitting at all. Instead of knitting, this week I've been enabling Mum (still) and reading about knitting.

Firstly the Knit Lit.

This books is worth the read - The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood (available in the ACT Public Libraries).

I was a bit over the premise of knitting as a saviour for the grief stricken but this book is not mawkish or over-sentimental. In parts it is heart-breakingly honest and so sad I was beyond tears. I now find it is semi-autobiographical. There are few actual surprises after the first chapters but it isn't twists we want from this book and it manages to avoid some of the manipulative cheap shots that are used in the other knit-novel of the moment The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs.

Also available from the ACT Public Libraries, FNKC is mostly trite. It is transparently written with the movie rights in mind and manages to incorporate all the demographic and ethnographic characters and concepts (white, black, Asian, young, middle-aged, older, mixed-race love affairs, ballsy single mothers, over-achievers reclaimed by the power of knitting, celtic wisdom). There is a twist and it is unexpected and it's what lifted my rating from "trite" to "mostly trite". I'm sure Julia Roberts will walk through the film role with (my guess) Blair Underwood as the romantic lead. Olympia Dukakis as the older woman, perhaps?

A recommended read is the Australian novel Knitting by Annie Bartlett. It is set in Adelaide and deals with knitting and grief in a very beautiful way. And yes, the ACT Public Libraries have both the paperback and audio versions of this novel.
There has been some knitting - most of it in the week before last.
Finished are 7 more hats

Beanies 2007.33-38

TTWC 2007.39

Mum has completed 15 pairs of wristwarmers for Stasia. She's also made another 4 pairs for the kids and our parcel lady.

Yesterday I made the mistake of taking her into the Smith Family shop. While I was chatting to the staff and checking out the fat clothes (Phillip Smith Family has the best selection of fat clothes of any op-shop in Canberra), Mum found the yarn boxes. As I rounded the corner she took a protective stance over the containers and with a look that said "back off, bitch" proceeded to defiantly hoik several balls of 8ply into the basket of her walking frame. She also scared off a very nice man who knits for his sons. My knitting mother is back with a vengeance.

This is great, really it is. She hasn't knitted in 10 years and we fought for the last 5 of those years about her stash and her needles. She wanted me to take them, I insisted she keep them. (I'm a knitter, I know how much those things mean!) I only yielded and took the stuff to my place less than 18 months ago. There was not much decent yarn left in her stash. She'd knitted most of it, or the moths had got to it and over the years I'd managed to "borrow" lots of the needles - usually when I'd come home from Sydney for the weekend and find I needed another size or whatever.

She's also using the knitting to combat the need for lollies. Mum has used the Soothers cough lozenges as a substitute for cigarettes and for years. She's on one-two packs of Soothers a day. I've been trying to get her onto sugar-free lollies as her blood sugar is a little high. However, the sugar-free lollies, when taken in excess, can cause diarrhoea. The transition has been less than smooth and knitting helps.

So far her RSI has not been a problem. The pattern is easily memorised and gratification is instantaneous and accompanied by the knowledge that she is helping less fortunate people.

The second All Sorts Beret is complete. I'm in love with this technique and I'll be keeping this beret.

I'm also keeping the latest Short Circuit Scarf. This one is in Cleckheaton Naturals boucle in black and a dark bluey-grey. It's not too long (only 2 x 50g) balls, knitted on 5mm needles.

Not the best photo. It looks great with jeans, black t-shirt and my black leather jacket. It's still too warm to wear it that way, but I gave it a go anyhow.

I leave you with puppy-porn. My brother and his family are away for the school holidays leaving me with joint custody of the 3 dogs. From left is Lochie (son of my Peggy), Rosie and Peggy.

Seconds before taking this photo they were all together in one basket looking like a Christmas card. Here they look tired and confused.

Friday, April 20, 2007

It's a dirty job...

I have a terrible job. Twice a year I am forced to the Lifeline Bookfair to buy bargain priced books for the collection. You all know how much I hate bargain shopping and books ;) .

Yesterday Dad came, too. He has very painful gout in his elbow (because he spent a long weekend in Melbourne with his mates and cousins eating the wrong foods and not drinking water) but insists on doing physical labour. This little outing, ostensibly to keep me company, made sure he wouldn't do any digging, mowing or downpipe clearing at least for today. He is really pissed off that he spent more money than I did! Ha - I win in the thrifty stakes - a game he's been playing for a VERY long time.

In between shovelling stuff into my trolley for work, I managed to fit in a little browsing of the handcraft section - well it was on my way from the "Canberra" table to the bulk purchases room - it would have been wrong not too look. It was great. A group of 10 women all fighting to get a look in, but with some dignity and generosity. Those there when I was all kept an eye out for the lady who was after cr***t (poor misguided soul), and the one after lace, and the one after cross-stitch. We handed books up and down the line. I believe it was cut-throat over at Sci-Fi. I managed to stifle my "Eureka" when I found Interweave's reprint of the Weldon's Practical Needlework in mint condition for $3. One woman, when she spotted it disappearing into my bag, said I was a "lucky fish". Yup!

Oh, we got a goodly haul for work as well - lots of stuff we needed and some stuff as second copies - all in all a pretty good morning's work.

The Shopping Sherpa was also spotted lurking by the fiction. Hope yours was a good haul, too, TSS.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The child is mother to the woman

As one ages, one expects to take on somewhat of a parenting role to one's parents. This is the way of the world.

One does, however, expect that to be something in the nature of helping with household chores, ferrying to doctor appointments and choosing the high security facility nursing home. One does not expect it to include stash supply

Large amount of vintage 8ply, some very nice handpainted 8ply, my spare knitting bag, my spare knitting accessory kit and 8 pairs of completed Voodoo wrist warmers.

Mum halfway up VWW pair 9, no. 2

or in the case of today - loan of my car so Mum could go the the gym!

I'm very pleased that Mum is feeling so well and strong that she is knitting again, and has her driving license back.

Really, I am delighted she's rediscovering the joy knitting and I'm around to share it (and my stash) with with her. It's just wonderful sitting on the back verandah in the sun with a cup of tea and the dogs and hearing her exclaim over the variegated yarn "oooh look, another stripe" and "I don't think I can give these ones away" and "do you have any more of this wool, it's so much fun".

My car, though, that's another matter ... Canberra suburban buses are not place to try and knit.

Monday, April 09, 2007


After sleeping through most of yesterday (some of you read the now deleted late night drunken post, so you know why), today was catch up day - grocery shopping, garden centre shopping and delivering stuff around town with some light BookCrossing on the way. The idea was to spend only what had been budgeted and bring home only groceries and gardening supplies that would be immediately used.

I had to drop wool off at Mum's (8 x 25g vintage Totem in mustard and 6 x 25g mystery 8ply in purple) for her Voodoo Wrist Warmer marathon (stuff out), then the last lot of completed hats had to go to Stasia (more stuff out) and there was a bag of baby yarn for Lynne, a friend who has decided to knit premmie stuff for the hospital (even more stuff out). There was also the box full of books in the car to be BookCrossed. Postive de-cluttering activities you might think, but trust me, there are some well known pitfalls en route.

First stop the hardware shop for gardening supplies and a bolt to complete the skeiner. I spent $5.85 over budget for the gardening supplies (Flax Lillies, Convolvulus mauritanicus, and brachycome daisies). I love hardware shops almost as much as stationers. All those potential projects just waiting for the spark of creativity. Dangerous places, hardware shops but I managed to resist all temptations but the Flax Lillies were 65c per plant more expensive than I'd bargained for.

Then onto the groceries. The shopping centre I frequent has a very good newsagency. It gets all Vogue and Interweave titles and several other knitting mags. I'm relieved that today it didn't have anything in I particularly wanted to take home (Knit1 is now $19.95 - I don't think so!). The newsagency has also opened a discount book store in the same centre. The last time I was there I dropped $50 on knitting and cooking books in an instant. Fortunately others have found it and there was nothing I really wanted there. Phew!

The shopping centre has a discount shop that often stocks reasonable craft materials. Its yarns were 4 for $5 today, but fortunately they were feathers and eyelash styles in hideous colours.

There are also two op-shops in this centre, but today being a public holiday, I was safe from their siren charms.

Relieved to have got out of these potentially perilous parts of the trip and with the groceries done and $10 under budget and 4 books released, I dropped the hats to Stasia's and was cruising!

Again, the Yarn Goddesses laugh at all attempts at restraint. I got to Lynne's. Instead of handing over a small grocery bag of baby yarn, I swapped a small grocery bag of baby yarn for this.

Yup, it's an enormous gar-bag full of a quite fine Merino fleece. The poor sheep had two years' growth on it. It's mine for the price of a skein of the yarn I make from it.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Bulky Rib Beanies

Stash contains a large quantity of bulky wool purchased at an op-shop last year. The time has come to make inroads into it. It is Chinook "carded pure virgin Australian hand knitting wool" created here in Australia by Hycraft Spinners in Sydney and distrubed for Craftsmen Distributers Inc of Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.

It comes in 8oz (227g) balls that look quite like woolly cow pats. The wool is six thin singles wound into the ball. They are not plied in any sense.

Originally it was going to be felted projects, but I'm not happy with the results of any of the 9 test squares I did, so plain old knitting it is.
As I develop patterns for this yarn, I will post them here. The patterns are for my own reference, but if you have a bulky yarn that knits to a guage of about 9 stitches to 10cm on 10mm needles you are welcome to use them.

Yarn: 90g, Chinook
Needles: 10mm (15 US, 000 Imperial)
Notions: darning needle for the sewing up
Tension: 9st to 10cm (4") over stocking stitch
To fit: adult

Using 10mm needles, loosely cast on 44 stitches.

Work double rib (k2, p2) for 20 rows.

Next row: k2 tog, p2 tog across work
Next row: p2 together across work
Next row: k2 together across work

Run yarn through remaining stitches and draw up.

Fold right sides together. Using matress stitch, sew seam.
Time Investment: About 1.5 hours

That 70s scarf

Sometimes the Muse of Knitting likes to take you by the hand, inspires you to greatness and laughs her head off when you fall on your knitterly arse.

Behold - That 70s Scarf.
It started innocently enough.

The beige colour is a thick and thin single plied against a beige thread so it's all bumpy. To call it beige is to actually give it a colour but it is beautifully soft and squishy. It came from the Salvos Tuggeranong as a partial ball still attached to a very scary would-be scarf knitted on needles far to small for the job. Unravelled and reballed, it was 100g and the two balls sat on the bookcase for a couple of months looking beigely pathetic and in search of a contrast colour to show of its soft and squishy loveliness. For a couple of weeks it has been calling to me whenever I cast a glance its way - "Turquoise, Taph. I need turquoise".

Pushy bloody wool. There is no turquoise wool in stash and I'm not going to buy wool just to keep 100g of an op-shop reject happy.

Enter Spidey. Spidey turned up to SnB on Thursday night with a cone of very harsh single in a gorgeous tone somewhere between teal and turquoise. One look at my face as she handed it to me and she whispered "It doesn't have to be for beanies if you like it". Knows me well, does that Spidey.

It was way too harsh for a beanie. This is wool made for a more industrial purpose, perhaps carpeting and really shouldn't be worn next to the skin. It was the perfect contrast colour for old beigey, though, and when I put the cone next to the beige balls on the bookcase a chorus of angels sang.

When the cone was put on the lounge while I made a cup of tea, Peggy gave her approval as well.

"My Yarn"

"What? I was only minding it."

Which is how I came, on Good Friday with several WIPs clamouring for attention, to cave in to the Muse of Knitting and create the cat yak that is That 70s Scarf.

It's a gentle curly-whirly style and I opted for lots of open work on 12mm needles to try and lift the heaviness of the yarn. What I created looks like something cr****ted in the 70s by my grandmother.

I will, however, wear this. Not so much as a punishment to myself but I'm hoping a muggle will admire it so I can appear all gracious and generous as I thrust it at them and run away.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Charity begins at home

Mum recently experienced knit-envy.

After the fun of the Harlot Happening, and hearing how well received the hats were, Mum decided she needed in. She also decided that what the homeless really need are fingerless gloves. She could probably manage fingerless gloves, but a whole beanie was too much. Yes, I know, it's about the same amount of work etc, but it's much easier if you accept her reasoning and go along with it.

So I left her with the Voodoo Wristwarmer pattern, my completed black ones, a set of 3.75mm dpns, and what was left of this jumper, which St V de P made available for $1 and which was reclaimed last October.
The jumper yielded 683g of what I have since discovered was this yarn.

I had already made 4 TTWCs from it but Mum had admired the wool as I was making them, so I knew she'd enjoy knitting with it. She has finished three pairs of Voodoo Wrist Warmers from it. There is about 30g of the yarn left. Not bad for a buck.

Meanwhile, the grandchildren discovered the wrist warmers and requested a set each and did I have any maroon 8ply to match the girls' school uniforms? The only maroon in stash was 400g of vintage crepe which I confess to only reluctantly surrendering. My reluctance was duly noted by the Yarn Goddesses and resulted in my black wrist warmers being claimed by my nephew because he didn't want maroon ones.

Now I've lost my wrist warmers and all of the maroon crepe because it was so nice to knit with Mum is keeping it. She has also requested more 8ply. All of you currently supporting the yarn habits of your children take heart - eventually you get your own, and their stash, back. ;)

TTWC 2007.32

Beret Picking

Same pattern, two techniques - how different can the result be?

The pattern is Lynne Johnson's "All Sorts Beret" from Canberra Mothercraft Society's Keepsakes from Mother's Table.

The "Monet Beret" is knitted in a hand-painted wool bought cheaply at St V de P. It knits to about a 10ply and Spidey reckons it's definitely Lorna's Laces. Don't know about that, but it's gorgeous to knit with and the variegation is very entertaining. This is for the TASDA raffle but I haven't been able to let it go just yet. I do have enough wool to knit myself another and there will be scraps to use as the basis for a truly All Sorts Beret, like this one.

The finished fabric is embraided with the joined yarns. Here I've been making french knots (well my version of them, anyway). With the hairier yarns, I've left a little bit hanging out the top of the knot for a more depth. It will be finished soon but I think I'm going to have to keep it.
There will definitely be more of these. I'm falling in love with working the colours and textures and can see all sorts of possibilities for finishing: completely hairy (looked great when Monica tried it on before I started embraiding) or i-cording the ends back, or running stitching the ends in patterns. Or different shapes, like a toque.

Friday, April 06, 2007


GREAT SnB last night. A shout out to our interstate visitors Ceri and Denise from Tasmania and Ginger Nut from Sydney and our newest member, the Caffeine Faerie. We quite literally took half the available space at Starbucks.

Ceri brought this as her contribution to the hats for the homeless-athon. Thank you. It will feature in a beanie sometime soon. :) I've never seen 12 ply Totem before. Gorgeous navy crepe.

Jejune brought another TTWC in a lovely pink variegated Patons Jet. Here it is posing with the last of the roses. This brings our beanie count from the Harlot Happening to 29 and we're expecting one more from interstate.

Bells, in her excitement at receiving gorgeous yarn, forgot her knitting last night, so she worked on this TTWC.

It is 2007.28

It joins 2007.29

and 2007.30-31 (trust me, there are two of these and I don't need a separate photo of both)

I set a goal of 26 beanies for this year so that target has been blitzed. They will continue to be produced, though. Latest figures on the Canberra homeless population - approximately 12,000. That's a lot of cold and hungry people in the nation's capital.

The virus has departed but has left its little friend lethargy behind. Hoping a rest this weekend will do the trick to restore some joie de vie. Thanks to everyone for their health-giving wishes. I completed as scarfy thing today but it's too dark to photograph adequately now.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Fully Sick

Wednesday-Sunday: No Voice (much cheering from my staff)

Friday-Sunday: Sniffle and lethargy

Saturday-Sunday: High temperature

Miserable and for the first few days, completely unable to knit. I've spent the weekend on the couch with the dog, Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha (the last season), and endless pots of tea.

Did manage a few beanies, but from muscle memory rather than motivation.

Hats 2007.23-27, Pearce, 4pm

Dad wants to go to the footy tomorrow night and as much as I'd love to go it's probably not going to happen.