Sunday, 25 April 2010

thrift score

The other thing that I do when I feel stressed is spend money. What is it about spending money that makes me feel like I am in control of something? Perhaps it is just the illusion of power in the notion of purchasing power. Fortunately, I'm spending it at the thrift store so it doesn't do too much damage to our bank account. And these past few days I have struck it lucky with yarn:

top row, left to right: Noro Transitions, Cascade 220 Superwash (four), Enterprise Knitting Yarn (a vintage Sugar'n'Cream), Zitron Trekking XXL
middle row: Rowan Cotton Tape, Lily Sugar'n'Cream, (two), Baruffa Kid Fur (not sure what I'll do with this one), Cascade 220 Wool
bottom row:
Zitron Trekking XXL, Patons UK Crocus 4ply (four; a vintage yarn I think), Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool (white and red).

All very useful purchases and all of which of course just lead me to think of more projects and things that I want to make and ...

p.s. Thrift Score is also an excellent book by Al Hoff, all about my favourite past time.

Friday, 23 April 2010


It has been very lax of me (as a knitter) to not declare until now that we have champion Corriedale sheep breeders in the family. Yes, Tim's cousin and wife are the proprietors of Liberton Corriedales and will be at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival on the 1st and 2nd of May.

Jim and Brenda stopped by in Seattle for a few nights on their way across to the east coast and I was the lucky recipient of two enormous hanks of their wool. The hanks weigh about a pound each; I'm not sure of yardage but apparently enough for an adult sweater. I'm not sure whether to experiment with dying the yarn or using it in its beautiful natural state. I could never wear cream so I guess that I'll have to decide whom I'm going to knit for before I decide on the colour!

Actually, what I have to do first is catch up with myself; I still don't feel like I am back on top of things since we left for Orcas Island which is almost a fortnight ago. Since then I've had a cold and allergies simultaneously (that's two grades of snot at the same time - sorry) and house guests for four days. I feel as though I am behind on everything - email, housework, knitting. And when I feel stretched like this what do I do? I retreat into my knitting and sewing and general crafting but in a hectic, frantic kind of way, which just leaves me with more unfinished stuff and feeling more stressed. It also leads to one discount skein of wool turning into a hundred dollar baby jacket ... but more about that later (sneak peek at right).

Monday, 19 April 2010

acorn hat

Oooh, I've been saving this one up. Finally revealing it is almost as exciting as giving it to the expectant mother was.

The Vital Statistics
Acorn hat by Jane Davis from Simple Crochet for Cherished Babies.
Size: newborn.
Yarn: Grignasco Bambi, 100% merino, not sure of shade, with yarn held double throughout for the hat and a mystery yarn from stash for the leaves.
Hook: 4mm.
Start to finish: 22 March to 31 March 2010.
Recycle/stash content: all of it from stash!
Comments: Eep, it's a few weeks ago now. This was a gift for a friend who is expecting twins. This was simple to crochet for an effective result, the leaves especially are great. I crocheted a few extra rows on the hat because I found the result from the pattern wasn't deep enough. The hat has a turned-under brim and instead of attaching that to the inside of the hat with a crochet stitch (as the pattern directs) I just slip stitched it into place.
Verdict: Very happy.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010


We have spent the last couple of days on Orcas Island in a beach house perched upon a bluff above a pebble beach with a stunning view out across Puget Sound and various other islands. Deer wandered through our garden as I sat on the deck in the moist misty morning and completed a few more rows on my Knitted Veil. That's where the maths comes in - I am a quarter of the way through!!

It was wonderful to get out of town although a bit stressful too with small children, especially making sure that there were enough changes of clothes to keep a certain little boy dry and clean (he stayed dry, not so clean but I've given up on that). Orcas Island was beautiful, as is the whole San Juan Islands area; just the ferry ride from Anacortes to Orcas felt like a cruise in itself. One thing that really struck Tim and I was the (to us) overwhelming private ownership of the land there, particularly the beaches. It just felt wrong. We had a private beach as part of our accommodation but were exhorted to not stray beyond the big white boulder or the pink survey tape. Pink survey tape? There may be some cachet in the exclusivity of a private beach but ah, not in pink survey tape.

I'm not sure whether I have written about this before but the main thing that has struck me in so many ways about the US since we moved here is the rampant individualism. I am currently sleep-deprived and a bit addled by a head cold/hayfever mix, so my skills of sociological analysis are not really up to the task of elaborating on this. I just eagerly await publication of E Unus Plures: American individualism and the shaping of the nation (I'm just making this up but in the event that such a volume does already exist, let me know!)

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

make it work

Ah, the immortal words of Project Runway's Tim Gunn. I've been kind of enjoying season 7 (available to watch online) but is the format perhaps getting tired or the characters just aren't as dynamic a mix this time around?

Anyway, as I've been working along on this piece I've been considering my 'point of view as a designer' and remembering some of things about myself, namely that I really dislike mesh; adore lace but dislike mesh, particularly in clothing, you know, mesh inserts and the like. Love fishnet stockings though. The Kid Silk Haze/Wool Stainless Steel mix is just fluffy enough on 5mm needles to create a fabric but that has run out now and I'm not much liking the Wool Stainless Steel held double; there is still not enough bulk and it's mesh. I'm pondering a few options:
  • increase stitch count and knit with thread held double on much smaller needles but it's a new week and I think that I've had my fill of soothing stocking stitch for now
  • same but in a heavily textured lacy stitch (I'll be needing Barbara Walker)
  • increase stitch count and instead crochet with thread (plain or lacy?) held double which will produce a denser fabric but I can't find my crochet hook roll just now.
Ok, I think that I'll reserve some Barbara Walker volumes and think about it. Any suggestions welcome!

Saturday, 3 April 2010

making it up

Ok, this bit I am not making up - yesterday commenced with vomit at 5:00am and culminated with a trip to the emergency room in the afternoon. Same child (little miss bear), completely different woes. The upset tummy had cleared up (or cleared itself out with two more vomits) by 8:00am, the cut finger resulted from being caught in the car door. The finger was also cleared of any great damage after an x-ray and that glue stuff that they use instead of stitches and a sparkly silver bandaid - phew!

So by yesterday evening, I just really wanted some soothing stocking stitch knitting so I cast on with some Kidsilk Haze and Lion Brand Wool Stainless Steel, yarns held together. Yes, the Lion Brand rip-off of Habu which presents the opportunity to rant a little about Habu. Look, it's been a hard week.

I don't much like Habu. I know that it's the darling of the fibrenistas and perhaps that's part of it. Yes, their yarns are interesting, fascinating even but I am irritated by product names like A-17 1/4.5 which I guess is supposed to mean something to those in the know. Perhaps that is what irritates me, the 'those-in-the-know'-ness of it. And I feel like Habu has a lot of that.
Plus, when I once went by their stall at a fibre show, the woman was unpleasant to me, so that's that and I have embraced Lion Brand, yes, the company responsible for all of that Vanna's Choice acrylic out there.

So, what am I making? I don't know, I'm just making it up as I go along. I have wound the two yarns up into a ball together and cast on 54 stitches. I'm going to knit until the Kidsilk Haze runs out and then will keep going with the Wool Stainless Steel, probably held double. And then we'll see where we end up (clearly not on W 29th St though).


Not much seen in fashion since 1985 or thereabouts, and perhaps with good reason, I have recently fallen in love with the concept of the tabard. You see, my dear sweet baby son is a spewer - spit-up, chuck, spew, posset, whatever you want to call it. A very happy spewer (and fear not dear reader, perfectly healthy) but regurgitated breast milk fills our days and drenches his clothing. And this was starting to worry me (and cost me hours doing laundry) - I was worried about his poor sweet chest getting cold.

I was thinking about some wool-lined bibs or some such when inspiration hit. There was a felted 100 per cent lambswool J Crew sweater stuffed in the cupboard upstairs which I was long planning to use to make some patchwork balls. I didn't, however, like it enough to actually make said patchwork balls. But I didn't get rid of it because everytime I looked at it I thought about the patchwork balls that I was supposed to make with it. Even though I knew that I never would - funny how the mind works.

Anyway, I finally put it to good use and cut some bibs out of it. Not bibs to keep him clean but at least to keep him dry and warm. And the argyle looks quite cute at this scale. And then I bought three more lambswool sweaters, as soft as I could find, on various thrift expeditions and elaborated on the style to create a tabard. He wears them between his inner layer (usually a onesie) and outer layer (long-sleeve t-shirt or whatever). Something about the fuzziness of the felted lambswool keeps them nicely in place and I know that he is warm and dry.

Given the amount that he chucks up, the amount that comes out the other end and the amount of weight that he is putting on (his rate of weight increase has recently increased), I am clearly reincarnated from a prize dairy cow.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

march reading

The Burry Man's Day, the second in the series of the Dandy Gilver Murder Mysteries by Catriona McPherson. Again featuring the same engaging character, Dandelion Gilver, the writing in this volume was rather different to the first, shorter sentences, more concise, more clarity. I had thought that the convoluted writing in the first volume - After the Armistice Ball - was just my imagination after the journalistic incisiveness of Stiff. But it wasn't my imagination, it was the writing, and this volume is eminently more readable.

Needless to say I really enjoyed it, even though it took me the whole month to get through. I usually read while I'm settling Baby B, one hand keeping the book open, one hand in a rhythmic pat-pat on his mattress.
Having read the two volumes now, the post-Great War setting has become more significant which I am finding to be a really interesting element.

Can't wait to read the next one but I am rationing myself! Next month will I think be more sex with vampires.