Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Absolutely frilled!

Yesterday I took solace in instant gratification with gorgeous yarn. Behold the beauty of the Tudora. Knitted in a few hours with Lily Chin Park Avenue donated by the lovely and now blog-free Margie. The yarn was meant to be for charitable knitting, but I'm a weak woman and made this as a birthday present for a member of my ever-shrinking work team.

Park Avenue is very much like Patons Jet. Wool/Alpaca blend, perhaps slightly thinner than Jet. Anyway, I've chucked a couple of balls of Jet in the charity pile as a replacement.

While the Jet was out, I grabbed a couple of balls and cast on Norah Gaughan's Sunflower Tam from Knitting Nature. It's for a friend who will require some elegant headwear in the near future. Up to the pretty top bit now and it's so much fun!

The Curs-ed* Sleeve of Doom has struck again.

After yesterday morning's debacle it went into it's project bag in the corner to have a good long think about its behaviour.

It did and decided to disagree about being a quick and easy notch on the FO belt.

Took it out at lunch today and merrily knitted several rows in the wrong stitch pattern. Seriously, if there had been any lighter fluid handy, that jumper would, quite literally, be toast!

*thanks for the punctuation, 2Paw, couldn't remember how to do that. :)

Monday, January 28, 2008

WIPs that hurt so bad

Back in November I joined the Stash Down 2008 group on Ravelry. The plan is to knit from boodle first. I do that anyway, but supportive encouragement is always welcome. Not a yarn diet as such, more a reminder of the purpose of stash.

My stated January goal was whip the WIPs into shape because they're all boodle all the time. Sounded like a good idea back in December.

With the end of the month approaching, a couple of weeks ago I hunted out my oldest WIP. A jumper, size 18mos, that I was knitting for Connor. I guess I started knitting it late 1998 or early 1999 intending it for Winter 1999. It's a cute little jumper, a Patons pattern that was a freebie from the magazine That's Life. The yarn is from Reverse Garbage in Marrickville (how I miss RG!)which I picked up along with a lot of other yarn, some of which is still in stash but most of which I gave away on leaving Sydney. It's in small hand wound balls - nothing more than 30g - which took me weeks to untangle and wind.

I'd knitted the front, the back and 3/4 of one sleeve. Why I'd deviated from my usual formula of back, sleeves together then front/s, I can't remember. It may have been because I was still doing most of my knitting during work breaks and two sleeves at once is fiddlier. I can't remember why I stopped knitting it either. A rush of startitis? Changing jobs? Dunno. The dark blue colour makes it hard to knit in anything other than broad daylight, so maybe I got busier and couldn't see to knit it at night.

Last weekend I finished the first sleeve and happily cast on for the second. A sleeve, some sewing up and the neck bands - a piece of piss to finish by the end of the week? Apparently not. That second sleeve was the Second Sleeve of Cursed Doom.

First of all I cast on for the wrong size and knitted the band before I'd realised. Unravel, begin again. Then I forgot to do the second pattern repeat and had done half the sleeve before I'd worked it out. Unravel 20 odd rows. Knit up to second pattern repeat and realised I've buggered up the increases, unravel another 28 rows.

So I finally finished the second sleeve this morning. Happy dance, give Peggy a piece of celebratory chicken, more happy dance, place sleeve two on top of sleeve one to do double check of length.


There's a )*&%^#$)$(!! error on the first sleeve about half way down.

Have unravelled sleeve one (now known as the First Sleeve Of Cursed Doom) to the problem, picked up all the stitches and knitted a little past where the problem was. 28 more rows to go and I know the little blighter's got a surprise or two waiting for me.

I'm going back to garter stitch mitred squares.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Seven things weak 20, no 21 - damn numbers

Five whole months of this and still room for improvement - both on the ins and the outs.

I can leave other stuff in shops now - clothes, cute clutter, Tupperware etc... , but am still unable to pass up a yarn bargain.

There was an accident in Lincraft involving 75 balls of Cleckheaton Machinewash 5ply and $40 of my hard earned dosh. 53c a ball and enough for 3 projects for me. Enough to knit the twinset design in my head and have some left over for practising on. Enough to actually knit a tension square and not have to leave it on the needle because I'm pretty sure I'm going to need those 30 rows worth of yarn . I still look at the pile and giggle and kick my heels with glee. So not much progress really. Bargain yarn is my biggest weakness - even ahead of chocolate.

In my defence, I did not rush to the Cassidy's $2 sale despite every fibre in my being screaming at me to do so and I left a packet of very nice vintage chocolate brown 8ply at Vinnies yesterday.

IN (16)
7 projects worth of yarn (for $65 - less than $10 a project! still giggling). LINCRAFT
6 books GIFTS
1 cycling helmet - I had to buy new. There's no way I'm trusting my few remaining brain cells to a secondhand helmet.
1 cycle pump - ditto new.
1 bed linen set GARAGE SALE $5

OUT (48)
1 ball winder GIFT
1 top OP SHOP
1 bath tub tidy OP SHOP
2 hand knitted scarves GIFTS
3 nail polishes BIN
2 decorative boxes OP SHOP
20 CD cases WORK - yes our budget is that bad that I am subsidising the stationery
1 CD folder WORK
5 hair ties BIN
1 ruler OP SHOP
1 fake flower BIN
1 key ring TSS
1 CD jewel case TSS
2 pairs knitting needles GIFTS
3 Tupperware containers OP SHOP

SIAA (1)
1 TTWC and progress on other stuff, but nothing finished *sigh*.

IN 16
OUT 48


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

And sometimes it's about maintaining equilibrium

In Knitter's Almanac, Elizabeth Zimmerman says something about knitting on through adversity. EZ knew a think or two.

When faced with the prospect of a whole afternoon at a dire extended family function at the end of a rough week, I treated myself to one of the pretties from stash.
Knitting the Pretties is one of my 2008 resolutions.

This is hand dyed, hand spun Wensleydale with little glass beads. The yarn was called Dew Drop Fancy by it's creator, that yarn maven, Helen Rippin. I bought it at our visit to Bundanoon in October. There was a scant 115g of this gorgeous Navajo plied yarn and I wasn't sure it would be enough for what I wanted but the Yarn Goddesses smiled and it was just enough for a short but spunky Short Circuit Scarf over 8 stitches on 6.5mm needles.

There was no blood shed at the family function, at least not by me. I was pleasant and composed at all times and I completed a project, so it was productive.

I also taught myself a new skill - knitting backwards. It's slower, of course, than knitting forwards, but the look of intense concentration on my face could be attributed by the person speaking to me as wrapt attention in them. I get bonus points for this.

The only downside - requests for two similar scarves. Both from really lovely and generous people, though - so that's ok.

Monday, January 21, 2008

It's all about the journey

Until very recently I'd never heard the terms "process" and "product" knitters, or thought much about the concepts.

Like all of us, I'm a little bit of both, but in the "process" end of the spectrum.

How do I know this? Unlike some people that I know and love, sewing up and blocking hold absolutely no delights for me.

Case in point. This Clapoteenie, knitted in a Happy Spider experimental dye job (go ask her, it's fascinating) has been finished for over a fortnight, but didn't get the 3 minute block it needed until just as I was racing out the door to meet Spidey. She's been very patient.

While the ironing board was up and the iron actually turned on, I blitzed the lace headbands knitted this week for my nieces. Part II of their birthday present for next month.

The pattern is Molly's Headband by Pam Allen from Interweave (free online) knitted in a 4ply instead of the light 8ply of the original. I wanted something smaller and finer that would use left overs. 11-12g of sock wool is what it used.

On the left, Happy Spider Sock Yarn in Kelp Forsest self-striping colourway. On the right, the left overs of the Stanbridge Sock. It's an easy and quick pattern and I'm still not loving the lace.

And the obligatory beanie was finished earlier in the week. Recycled 12 ply in a quite violent orange based red which works quite well with this example of my nephew's art. Poor little bugger had his appendix removed this week, so mock if you must but gently.

TTWC 2008.06

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Seven Things Week 20

It's been a rough week, Chez Taph.

Disruption and uncertainty at work, mainly. I was such a misery I wanted to get away from myself most of the time and I will admit to a little thrift therapy on Saturday to take the edge off and then I treated myself to knitting up one of my prettiest special yarns to get through a dire family function. Amazing how well buying 4 cheap paperbacks and indulging my senses of sight and touch with pretty yarn can lift a mood and prevent bloodshed on a massive scale.

Someone once told me that Totem is cheaper than valium.

IN (34)

1 shopping basket GIFT
2 sealable plastic tubs rescued from being dumpstered WORK
26 Patons patterns EBAY
1 tortie cr***et hook OP SHOP. I've never seen a tortiseshell hook before, it's pretty.
4 novels. OP SHOP

OUT (52)

3 cushions OP SHOP
3 video cassettes OP SHOP
2 curtain rod ends OP SHOP
1 flower press OP SHOP
9 crochet patterns GIFTS
6 crochet hooks GIFTS
1 knitted headband GIFT
1 pair shoes OP SHOP
1 handbag OP SHOP


2 lacy headbands
1 Short Circuit Scarf


IN 34
OUT 52


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A very proud old Auntie

Last night I got home to discover that one of my nieces had spent the day with Mum.

This was Emily, the one who first realised that I always make their birthday presents.

Em asked Mum to help her sew a bag for her twin sister for their birthday. Under guidance, but doing it all herself, Em made a tote for Jess. She was so confident by the end of it she whipped up 3 fabric "socks" for each of their mobile 'phones.

Em told Mum that it was better to make presents because is showed people you loved them by making something specially for them that no one else had.

I'm so proud.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Seven Things Week 19

You know how I mentioned dying in the arse in my last post. I speak from experience.

All that knitting this last week has meant little time or inclination to evaluate the resident stuff. That and answering the phone to The Shopping Sherpa when she's in an op-shop.

IN (7)

1 pair shoes OP SHOP
2 bundles spinning fibre OP SHOP
1 spinning wheel OP SHOP c/- TSS
1 pair hand carders OP SHOP c/- TSS
2 projects alpaca blend yarn OP SHOP c/- TSS

OUT (17)

1 coffee cosy. GIFT
1 video cassette. GIFT
1 small basket. OP SHOP
1 carton of about 200 copy safe sleeves reclaimed from old research notes etc. DONATED TO WORK
4 containers perfumed talc. 1 BIN, 3 GIFTS
1 scrubbing brush. Unhygenically old and mouldy. BIN
1 wooden spoon. BIN because it snapped at a point to far down the handle to turn it into a short handled spoon.
1 pair knitting needles TSS


2 coffee cosies
1 Time Thief Watch Cap
3 Calometry headbands
1 rice bag turned into a project bag
all entirely from boodle, including the buttons.

IN 7
OUT 17
net out 10


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Counting Calorimetries

It's that time of year again, twin niece birthday time. Well it's a month away, but when knitting for two of the same gender for the same day, some forward planning is required.

This year they are getting headbands. First off, Calorimetry from Knitty, Winter 2006.

The yarn is ancient Wangaratta Woollen Mills 12ply that was in Mum's stash in 80s. Ms Spider gave it her special treatment and voila - unique headbands for my favourite girls.

The pinky mauve one is knitted to the pattern but on smaller needles and is still too big. The blue one is about 1/3 smaller all over and is a better size. I've already knitted, but not photographed, a smaller version in the pinky mauve. Trust me, it's the same, but smaller.

The girls will be 13 this year and recently worked out that Auntie Taph always makes something for their birthday. Since Christmas, they've been looking quite closely at the needles for a sneak preview. Huh, I'm not that silly, all they've seen are endless beanies.

I intend two more headbands, probably Molly's Headband from the free Interweave Knits patterns. Haven't decided on yarns yet.

Over on Ravelry I signed up for the Knit a Mile Challenge. Knit a mile (1600 metres or thereabouts) of yarn between 5 Jan and 19 Feb. I signed up thinking it would be fun but not expecting to actually make it.

Progress to date. 900+m. 4 beanies, 3 Caliometries, 1 Clapotis and 2 coffee cosies.

I might actually get there or I could begin well and completely die in the arse. No saying really.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Completely Cosy

I loved doing the Coffee Couture so much, I turned around and did it all again but bigger and redder.

It's Dad's birthday tomorrow. 67 he'll be and finding a gift is increasingly difficult. His plunger is the 12 cup size, so I did some maths and added two extra cable patterns and cast on 100 stitches. I did an extra half a pattern repeat in length as well.

This yarn wasn't as thick as the first lot, so the cosy is a little more stretched out. After sewing the ribbing together I picked up 22 stitches along one edge leaving a little room for the handles, double ribbed for 5 rows, chucked in 3 yo button holes in the next row, then two more double rib rows and cast off in rib. This band could have been a little longer, but it will do.

I finally got to use these very cute wooden Scottish Terrier buttons again. I bought a heap of them at the Lisa Ho factory outlet in Sydney years ago and the last time I used them was on cot doona covers for the twins who turn 13 next month.
A workmate pointed out today that we could use a cosy on the plunger at work. Do you reckon I could just knit these until the end of the KAL?

Also finished yesterday was a Time Thief Watch Cap. I'm reusing a photo of one I prepared earlier to save hassle.

TTWC 2008.005 Recycled yarn.

Monday, January 07, 2008

No prisoners!

Culturevore 2008 activity began with a picnic under a tree. See the picture over on TSS's blog.

Here's the "It takes a village" frittata*. Free-range eggs, olive oil and mushrooms all from local growers, potatoes from friends in Crookwell, onion from friends across town, oregano and parsley from my garden, silver beet from Dad's garden and tomato from Miss Spider's garden. TSS made a carrot salad and couscous, and Spidey supplied fresh local apricots. The last three items were particularly appropriate because TSS and I then enjoyed the airconditioning of the Australian War Memorial's theatrette and watched a 4 hour free screening of Lawrence of Arabia.

Sadly, we were unable to consume TSS's banana pancakes but she assures me she will freeze them for next time.

Lawrence of Arabia is one of my favourite films, due in no small part to the eyes of Peter O'Toole and the screen presence of Omar Sharif. *sigh*.

Because it was such a looooong film, we completed three Time Thief Watch Caps, and got well underway with another two.

TTWC 2008.002-004

The screening was in association with an exhibition at the AWM. We might get to see that another day.

* VILLAGE FRITTATA - because Bells asked.

olive oil
1 largish onion, diced
3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed (also good with half and half potato/sweet potato)
2 large handfuls of sliced mushrooms
3ish sprigs oregano, chopped (about a tablespoon or thyme or rosemary - woody herbs, all good) 2ish sprigs parsley, chopped (about a tablespoon)
1 large silverbeet leaf, finely sliced
8 large eggs, beaten seasoned with a little pepper
1 large tomato, finely sliced

Heat a very little oil in a heavy based fry pan
Cook onion and potato over medium flame for 10 minutes or until browned
Set potato and onion aside
Add mushrooms and herbs to pan to soften (you might need a little more oil), then add silverbeet to wilt.
Put potato and onion mixture back in pan and mix so you've got an evenish arrangement of veg around the pan.
Add eggs and cook over medium to low flame.
When eggs are almost cooked through (bubble holes appear on surface but the top is still a little runny), arranged sliced tomato on top and place under medium grill to brown.

Serve hot, warm or cold. Travels well.

This is what I did for yesterday's dish. It's a good for any veg you happen to have wilting in the fridge, a glut of on hand. The original recipe was bacon, chorizo and capsicum but this version is low salt, lower in saturated fats, gluten and dairy free. I have made it with left over diced roast potatoes which is really delish but generally ups the fat level. If you're using baked veg you only need to brown the onions, not the potatoes. Also, I usually add a clove of crushed garlic to the onion and potatoes if it's for home.

Because this is an eggy dish, it tastes MUCH better with good free-range eggs. If you don't have access to them, add a little butter to the frying oil or sprinkle a little paremesan on the top to add flavour. This also ups the saturated fat, salt and dairy content but it tastes really good.

Cafe society

Item 5 for the Yarn Knit Along, Coffee Couture by Megan Longhurst from Yarn 6.

MATERIALS: Just under 50g of an 8ply recycled from an op-shop jumper.

ALTERATIONS: None, but I'm tossing up about picking up some of the side stitches and making a button placket for added warmth.

It's a lovely quick knit. Perfect for last minute gifts. Not that there's anything last minute about this one - it's a 2008 Christmas gift for coffee loving friends. Oh, and I've added the pattern to Ravelry if you want to queue it.

I had some help. One of the blokes at work wanted to learn to knit. He did most of a row of double rib.

A larger version for Dad's birthday on Thursday has been cast on. Fingers crossed I got the numbers right.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Seven Things Week 18

The purge continued this week, but now I'm back at work, things have slowed. There is still a long way to go, but the last couple of weeks have been good.

IN (21)

  • 3 books, OP SHOP
  • 2 facewashers, GIFTS
  • 2 hand towels, GIFTS
  • 6 Patons patterns, eBay
  • 3 video cassettes, OP SHOP
  • 5 sets knitting needles, OP SHOP
OUT (279)
  • 56 CDs – data & music, BIN and OP SHOP
  • 1 travel CD holder, OP SHOP
  • 34 Audio cassettes, BIN and RECYCLING
  • 31 Floppy discs, BIN and RECYCLING
  • 6 Bags – shopping totes and handbags, OP SHOP
  • 8 DVDs and video cassettes, OP SHOP
  • 8 Cones/skeins wool, GIFTS
  • 4 Bras – new and too small, WOMEN’S REFUGE
  • 12 Sewing patterns, OP SHOP
  • 1 calendar, RECYCLING
  • 3 Pieces sewing fabric, OP SHOP
  • 27 Postcards – the freebie/Avant Card collection was unearthed and culled, RECYCLING
  • 6 Cartons old files & personal papers, RECYCLING
  • 2 Souvenir spoons. My Nan was convinced I collected these things and gave me many, many of them. Also received lots of them as speakers’ gifts over the years. Most have been discarded but there’s a few more hiding around the place. For the record, I've NEVER collected them., OP SHOP
  • 21 books, BOOKCROSSING
  • 1 Walkman, OP SHOP
  • 1 emery board - worn out, BIN
  • 1 box assorted bonbonierie - I lived and worked in Marrickville for many years and attended my share of big fat Greek, Italian and Maltese weddings., BIN and OP SHOP
  • 2 soft toys, GIFTS
  • 1 shape-o, OP SHOP
  • 2 big boxes of beads, GIFTS
  • 3 biscuit tins, OP SHOP
  • 1 spindle DVDS, GIFTS
  • 4 hair accessories, BIN
  • 1 cd tower, AUSSIE JUNK
  • 1 dressmaker's dummy, AUSSIE JUNK
  • 1 bicycle, AUSSIE JUNK
  • 1 hand fan, OP SHOP
  • 4 facewashers and tea towels - originally towels cut down to tea towels and washers, then used as dusters. They've lived a good and useful life. BIN
  • 1 shawl, GIFTS
  • 1 beanie, GIFTS
  • 1 three hole punch, GIFTS
  • 10 picture frames, GIFTS
  • 3 souvenir brass rubbings, RECYCLING
  • 3 Christmas decorations, GIFTS
  • 1 wine rack, AUSSIE JUNK
  • 1 coat rack, OP SHOP
  • 1 suitcase, OP SHOP
  • 2 coffee mugs broken in the washing up, BIN
  • 11 embroidery kits, GIFTS

Much sorting, carting away and tidying left little time for creation.

1 scarf
1 coffee plunger cozy


IN 21
OUT 279


Saturday, January 05, 2008

Doctor, doctor, give me the news...

A friend told me that a doctor prescribed his aunt a glass of red wine and half an hour knitting a day to ward off heart disease and arthritis.

Prescription filled! Wonder if I can get Totem on the PBS?

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Vested Interest

The Jelly Belly Vest pattern by Jenny McElhinney from Yarn issue 1, December 2005.

SIZE: One size 12-18 months

YARN: 2 x 50g balls Nastro Four Seasons cotton/acrylic blend donated by Spidey, leftovers from one of her lovely creations. It's a weird yarn. 2 chains of different colours, in this case a pinky apricot and a cream that sit flat like a tape. Knits up pretty, though, and has an interesting texture.

ALTERATIONS: Knitted in the round to the underarms, then flat so there were only the shoulder seams to sew. Also, I used the same finishing on the armholes as the neckline instead of the pattern's double rib, mostly because I was concerned about running out of yarn. As it turns out, the concerns were well founded and I have a scant 4m left.

This is item four for the Yarn Knitalong. I goes in the box for the women's refuge.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Chunking up the New Year

Beanie 2008.001
PATTERN: Match Made in Heaven by Norah Gaughan from Family Circle Easy Accessories

YARN: Chinook, yarn cheese bought at the Smith Family in 2006 - still working through it.

NEEDLE: 10mm dpns thanks to Olivia.

Cast on at 8.00pm, photographed and put in the box 11pm, including Union of Crafters and Knitters mandatory tea and wee breaks.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Talk about a resolution, we-e-eell you know...

Last year's resolution (shelved to fund Dad's grand plans for my garden) has been resurrected.

Each month I'm going to buy something from an Australian independent fibre producer/artisan. NY resolutions are usually restrictive, and I wanted something joyous and positive, so that's mine.

I'll still be stash diving for most knitting projects but now I've got something to look forward to each month.
This list is probably waaaay out of date by now - if you know of any other local fibre producers/artisans, please let me know in the comments or by email.

A subset of this resolution is to continue to "knit the pretties". All those lovely yarns and spinning fibres that I have - well I deserve to knit them, so I will. Not all of them, obviously, but I'm giving myself permission to play.