Saturday, 29 September 2012


Was a very good year for design as it turns out and and as this Playmobil figure illustrates. Oh dear, the nostalgia - I'm 38.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012


They say that change is good (not sure which 'they', the conceptual unembodied 'they' I guess). It gets you out of a rut, introduces you to new people, places, challenges, etcetera.

Hmm, I think it depends on just how much change, whether it's a piddly five cents worth of change, that you don't even realise is in your pocket. Or one of those big, heavy, multi-sided fifty-cents worth of change. Not surprisingly, we're embarking on the latter. See you on Thursday on the other side (of the world).

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

... .-- ..-..

Translation: swf

The Vital Statistics
Pattern: Attabi Wrap by Laura Chau, but all modifications are based on robbyracoon's delightful 'morse code' version (and modeled by our equally delightful babysitter, Nadia).
Yarn: Classic Elite Yarns MountainTop Vista (50 per cent wool, 50 per cent alpaca) in shade 6076, 4.8 skeins; Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend (70 per cent merino, 30 per cent silk) in shade 3073, 0.28 skeins.
Needles: 5mm.
Start to finish: 28 June to 17 September 2012. Actual knitting was finished in July ...
Stash/recycle content: Alas, no.

Comments: I must repeat that this project is an unabashed copy of robbyraccoon's 'morse code'; joining the wrap into a cowl, leaving a notch at the border, the colour scheme, everything.

Reproducing this cowl was a great design and thinking challenge for me - initially I purchased (online) the exact same main colour yarn but found that in the wool it wasn't really the colour I was wanting. I really had to analyse what textures and what quality of yarn I needed to recreate the object of my obsession.  The trick was to pair something rustic with a bit of halo (MountainTop Vista, comes in great natural shades) and something smooth with sheen (silk content in the Malabrigo made it perfect and I love the way it moves ever so subtly from gold to amber to pink).

I didn't weave in the contrast thread Malabrigo as I knit: tedious. Instead I knit the entire round and then wove the contrast thread in as I slipped the stitches purlwise: still tedious but slightly less so. I also used a separate strand of contrast thread on every row, instead of one long strand. To finish them, I trimmed and spit felted the ends together so there was no weaving in of ends.

I did a provisional cast on for the i-cord bind off and grafted the stitches together after completing the bind off. This worked well but I think would have been better if I had cut the yarn after finishing the body of the cowl and started with a fresh piece of yarn, instead of striving to avoid two ends and making it a bit messy.

Verdict: Oh, so many variations that you could do with this pattern; the mind boggles. I'm very happy with this version and it has made a wonderful gift to a wonderful friend (I've made something for everyone in our fantastic neighbour family across the road now, hooray!)

Saturday, 15 September 2012

spacing out

That would be me. Transition back into the school year has been more consuming than I expected. Anyway, having lived here for more than four years, we finally went up the Space Needle. We have had amazingly sunny weather here in Seattle for an almost record number of days, but come Sunday it clouded over for us. So, an authentic Seattle experience.

It was a pretty cool thing to do, and I think knowing the city actually made it a richer experience because I knew what I was seeing from that new perspective, could pick buildings out, follow the lay of the land. Then afterwards we went for a ride on a duck (also pretty cool although I wouldn't admit that to anyone).

Sunday, 9 September 2012

sweet hex | heges

Sweet hex - one hat.
Sweet heges - two hats.

The Vital Statistics
Pattern: Sweet Hex Child's Hood by Lisa Shroyer, available for free.

Size: One size.

Yarn: Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool (45 per cent wool, 35 per cent silk, 20 per cent nylon) in 24 'claret' and '01 'chalk'.

Needles: 2.25 and 2.75mm needles.

Start to finish: I started the project on 6 March 2012 and finished it yesterday, 7 September 2012, six months all up. I knit two hats though, the first was finished on 12 March, so took only six days to knit. The other hat I started on 7 August and finished knitting on 18 August, so eleven days.

Recycle/stash content: Yes, all yarn from stash and acquired at the Seattle Knitters' Guild Fiber Frenzy.

Comments: The pattern instructs to knit the hat in the round (and then steek) which I suppose is conducive to stranded knitting but strikes me as an odd choice given the yarn used, Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool. Or rather, Silky Wool is an odd choice of yarn, given the technique required. I did in fact use Silky Wool because I happened to have some at hand but I used a different technique - knit the hat back and forth (I don't mind stranding on the purl side) and grafted the last row together. Really, if you're not using a sticky wool, I would recommend doing this.

There is also a discrepancy in the pattern regarding the facings, one is six rows deep, the other nine - unclear why.

Rather than using a commercially manufactured cord and tassels, I attempted to knit i-cord on 2.25mm needles but it was almost unbearable with the Silky Wool which is  bit nubby and doesn't pull through smoothly at that gauge. After managing a few centimetres and realising that I would put off finishing this project forever if I went down that path, I instead made a really tight plait using six strands of yarn. Tassels I had made before for 'the cat on the hat' so I was able to wing it this time.

Verdict: I made these hats in reverse colourways, one for my daughter and one for her best friend who lives across the street. Their names are almost identical (just one sound different, think along the lines of Mara and Lara, which makes for a laugh when calling out to them at a playground) and now they have almost identical hats. I'm delighted with them.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

what a tassle!

What is it about finishing? Why do I have such a mental block about it? I love making things, these tassels were great fun to make once I actually got around to it. And I certainly love to finish a project.

But these tassels, and the cords that they are attached to and the casings that the cords thread through, have taken me weeks to get around to. Actually, I have actively been putting it off. Why?? Is it a reluctance to let go of a project, even though I am simultaneously desperate to finish? Is it a fear of not creating a perfect project? Motivation fascinates me.

I realise that I have also completely neglected to mention these sweet little hats that I am knitting (actually have knit, have completely knit and finished and will showcase shortly). I started them way back in March ...

Tuesday, 4 September 2012


I am entering a finishing phase, so many projects hovering at 90 per cent complete. But not fast enough for how baby b is growing!

The Vital Statistics
Pattern: Ziggy Zag by Carol Feller.
Size: Three years, supposedly for baby b.
Yarn: Dale of Norway/Dalegarn Baby Ull (100 per cent wool) in 5775 (dark blue), 2.4 skeins; and Patons Australia Patonyle (80 per cent merino, 20 per cent nylon) in 1009 (red), 0.3 skeins.
Needles: 3.75mm for the body and 2.75mm for the cuffs and hem, although it may have been 2.25mm but it was knit over some period of time and I didn't make a note and then I forgot ... the collar was knit with 2.75mm needles. I know this because that was the last thing I did.
Start to finish: 25 October 2011 to 31 August 2012.
Stash/recycle content: Yes, all from stash.

Comments: I started knitting this for baby b, who is nearing three, but he's a sturdy boy and there wouldn't have been much wear in this for him. So it was a two-year-old birthday gift for a friend's son instead - perfect! There are a few, ahem, 'design features' included like the red showing through in the change from blue to red yarn. I know that there's a way of avoiding that but I recall not having the oomph to get up and look it up at the time I changed yarns. So, design feature. I knit extra rows on the neck edging to help balance it up with the cuffs and hem. I am normally not one for colour blocking at all and now can't remember why I decided to use the red. An Estonian friend told me though that red at the cuffs is one of the oldest protective magics and I do like the idea of that. The cuffs and hem were knit flat and seamed because I don't mind seaming but I do mind that jog when you cast off in the round. I also decided not to sew on a button closure at the neck because by the time I finally had all the knitting done and the ends woven in, well, I made a design decision not to.

Verdict: Not quite the garment I had hoped for. It's very difficult to adequately block garments that are knit seamlessly. I tried a steam with the iron and maybe a few wears will help it along. The proportion of the yoke depth and underarm measurement also look a little strange to me. I'll be interested to hear how it wears.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

august reading

Spiral Jetta: A Road Trip Through the Land Art of the American West by Erin Hogan - I really enjoyed this book. Just the right amount of art history and theory mixed with a candid account of driving around in the middle of nowhere, facing up to your fears of being alone and trying to find meaning in art.