Wednesday, 31 December 2008

last minute finished knits

I think that I may be able to squeeze a couple more finished objects in this year. Here is version two of the Baby Hat that I knitted in such a hurry last month that there were no photos. The first one came out so well that I wanted one for baby bear too.

The vital statistics
Pattern: baby hat from Leigh Radford's One Skein in 12-18 month size
Cascade 220, shade 9430
4.5mm Addi Turbo
Start to finish:
25 December 2008 to 28 December 2008

Comments: I can see why Cascade 220 tops the list in Ravelry as the most popularly used yarn - this stuff knits up like a dream and gives a wonderful finished fabric. I've heard that their eco yarn is also very nice. I may have made the hat just a tad too, it has a bit of the flowerpot look about it at the moment but I am sure that as baby bear grows it will fit well. She already loves it.

Verdict: I love this pattern and I'm going to make it again and again. The lace pattern (12 rows) is just enough to make it interesting but is not too onerous. I love the fullness of the decreases and the scalloped edge too.

In other knitting news, the swallowtail shawl has stalled a bit. There's a certain psychological hurdle about starting the next lace chart. It might have to wait for a childcare day when I can really sit down and concentrate on it. The baby cabled cowl - well, I've chosen the buttons.

Monday, 29 December 2008

getting around (to it)

So, the grass is green again, the road is black and the snow is all but gone except for some piles of grey slush. It's almost as if it were never here. And I am back in the car (and out on foot and in the bus) again - so relieved.

I did also use the indoor time of the past week to get around to some hand stitching that I have had in mind for, oh, quite some time. I have way more in mind to do than I ever get around to (which I'm sure is not a unique story). I'm kind of on top of the knitting at the moment but the sewing ideas/projects/flights of fancy that I have piling up is almost overwhelming. Part of it is a psychological barrier about getting out the sewing machine. I'm trying to get over that by setting up a space where I can leave it (and scissors and stitch rippers and pins) out and out of reach of little hands but it's not quite ready yet.

In the meantime, every now and then I pull out the hand sewing. I have mended seams on two of baby bear's toys (both new and already splitting - good grief!),
mended the vintage linen that is being used as doll sheets, completed the patchwork quilt for the doll bed and made a mattress. Neither of these last two are as impressive as they might sound.

The patchwork doll bed quilt is actually a pillow sham, which there seem to be a lot of around here. I'm talking about oversized decorative pillowcases, not for actually sleeping on just for piling on the bed I think. Anyway, Value Village is full of them and sometimes they are really nice, like this sweet patchwork one. I bought it always with the intention of being a doll quilt and finally stitched up the opening in the back to make it more, well, quilt like.

The mattress was a bit more work (and for a different, smaller doll cot). For this one I cut four layers from an old blanket and wrapped them in some fabric, much like a present, and sewed it up. Took precisely one Scrabble game to complete. Isn't this lovely old-fashioned fabric? It came from, would you believe, a shower curtain? Something else that is popular in these parts - fabric shower curtains. I gather that you are supposed to have a waterproof plastic one underneath as well. Odd.

Admittedly, these things have been waiting for months to be done. I hope that it doesn't take until the next snowfall for me to do some more. By then I'll be buried beneath ideas/projects/flights of fancy!

Saturday, 27 December 2008


So we did get snowbound and I almost went out of my mind. I didn't realise how important it was to me to be able to make plans and get in the car and take off and go places and do things and see people. That is, until I couldn't. It really takes your independence away when you're stuck at home (in the sense that there was too much snow to get the car out and we don't have chains anyway so it was too dangerous to drive).

I did get out on foot and by bus a couple of times (both for knitting, ha ha). Actually, on Monday I walked the better part of 3.2 kilometres (that's 2.0 miles) through the snow with baby bear in the carrier on my back to join my friends for knitting. They told me I was crazy, I told them that I would have been crazier to stay home.
We were lucky to catch the bus a few stops up the main hill but as soon as I got there I realised that there was no way that I would be able to get home alone. Tim had to come and meet us (also on foot) and we walked home together (he carried baby bear).

Yesterday we got out in the car for the first time since last Friday and it was a relief. There's been quite a bit more rain and the temperature has increased so that should help to clear the roads further - phew.

And what did I trek through the snow to knit? I have finished all nineteen of the budding lace repeats for the swallowtail shawl. I'm a bit in shock at that myself, even more that I am still only half-way through! I'm thinking about doing some test runs on the lily of the valley lace edging and the nupps after a day or two break. I have almost finished the cabled cowl for baby bear - it's been knit, blocked and is just waiting to be finished. I'll do my best to get it done before next year (which is actually quite soon). I've also cast on and knit the 12 rows of lace pattern for another baby hat, this time for baby bear (and this time with photos).

Friday, 26 December 2008

white christmas

I'm dreaming of peace on earth and goodwill to all. Maybe next year?

Sunday, 21 December 2008

snow bound

As in 'bound for snow' (which has just started to fall) rather than snowbound (which is apparently where we are headed).

Sixteen repeats of the swallowtail shawl.

The weather forecast for the next 24 hours includes snow, freezing rain, snow, sleet and more snow. I'm loving it. Surely the novelty value will shortly wear off but I hope not before we've demolished the two packets of mini cinnamon rolls that I bought at the supermarket (where it was mayhem).

We actually did quite a bit of driving yesterday through the snow-dusted landscapes. The evergreens do look wonderful with boughs laden with snow. And the landscape is punctuated by little red berries. Somehow this landscape, this weather makes perfect sense at this time of the year. Blame it on a childhood filled with literature, films and television from the northern hemisphere but this does feel right.

I have even been induced to decorate the house with winter cheer.

An assortment of crocheted snowflakes (patterns found on Ravelry), stiffened with diluted craft glue. They are so old fashioned but very effective.

Saturday, 20 December 2008


After several months of patience and thrift perseverance, I finally found Scrabble!

And not just any Scrabble set, but a 1982 deluxe edition. The board has a clear plastic grid over the top to keep the letters in place, an inbuilt rotating tray (which keeps the board just high enough off the table so that the little shelves for the letter tiles fit underneath) and dark wood letter tiles (all of which are there).

How many points for an exclamation mark?

Friday, 19 December 2008

the last resort

I have been meaning to tell you about this for some time now, a couple of months to be precise. I actually thought that I had imagined ever mentioning it before.

So anyway, back in October I mentioned my stay at The Last Resort. It's my moniker for our time here in Seattle - not for Seattle itself, because it's a great place and I'm really enjoying living here. It refers to how fantastic the thrift shopping is here and that I am purchasing things new only as a last resort. Kind of like The Compact I suppose but my own rules.

Upon arriving in Seattle we had to furnish an entire home and as far as I was concerned (and certainly from a financial standpoint) second-hand was the only way to go. Almost everything in our house comes from either the thrift store, a garage sale or from Craig's List.

And please don't feel sorry for us - we're quite happy with our Villeroy and Boch porcelain, our crystal champagne flutes, baby bear loves her vast quantities of Lego and I'm wearing a cashmere cardigan as a dressing gown. I'm also delighted with the hand-made patchwork quilts that we have warming up our living room (who gives these things away??), the needlepoint cushion covers and vintage Fisher-Price toys.

Eventually, The Last Resort becomes like a game, a daily challenge, a point of pride to find it second-hand instead. In many ways it has also been a release from the mill of mainstream commercialism. I can wander around a shopping centre now, curious and looking out for inspiration, but completely freed from any intention or impulse to buy.

It's also about 'buying local' in the sense of taking what is available and deciding that is what you want to wear/decorate with/make something with, rather than shopping around endlessly for the perfect X, whatever it may be. I must also acknowledge that this is something that is made possible by the array of goods that are available at Seattle thrift stores in the first place, things that were purchased, used and then donated to them.

Want to come and stay?

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

cable able

"Ok, I have found some focus and have commenced on a cabled cowl for baby bear, inspired by but not working from the Cabled Cowl pattern by Olga Buraya-Kefelian from Blue Sky Alpacas. I've looked very closely at the projects on Ravelry and while I am following the general layout (welt, cable, cable, edging), I am using different cables (to suit my stitch count) and an edging of slip-stitch double knit (lifted from the Backyard Leaves scarf by Annie Modesitt in Scarf Style).

I decided against the dark grey and am instead double stranding some Emu Scotch 4ply in baby blue which I picked up at Value Village a few weeks ago. In keeping with my resolution to create"

I wrote this late last night. I was going to continue with my resolution to create less stiff fabric by using larger needle sizes (in this case 5mm) but then I looked at the fabric that I had created. And ripped it. I think that I could go 5.5mm and I'm going to change one of the cable patterns. So what do I have to show? This really cool vintage ball band from the Emu Scotch 4ply. Don't forget, 'Emu patterns are best'.

Sunday, 14 December 2008


Please don't report for me for cruelty to knitted works in progress. This is the second time that my swallowtail shawl has been exposed to snow - but this time it's outside our very own door here in Seattle. Yes, it started to snow at about 6:30pm yesterday evening and now at 10:30am the temperature is still below freezing and there's a layer of white over everything outside.

The swallowtail shawl is going well, as I hope you can see from the photo. I have completed thirteen repeats now, six to go and the edging. I discovered a fabulous/dreadful calculator at Rose-Kim Knits - you enter how many rows there are in the shawl and can check your progress row by row. Seventy-eight rows complete out of 141 and I am 30.6% of the way through the shawl. I'm really pleased about that 0.6%!

In practical knitting news, I'm not having much luck. On a whim I decided that I needed a slouchy beret (and I may well still) but I made a bit of a mess of it by using a yarn that was way too heavy (five strands together of recycled yarn - I think that I ended up with bulky weight). Besides, I really don't like to knit with anything that requires needles over about 5.5mm. So anyway, that was frogged within a day of starting. I am currently considering Fern Glade from the newest Knitty which calls for dk weight. I am determined to use from the stash so that would involve 'creating' a dk weight yarn from multiple threads of recycled yarn. So far in this endeavour I haven't had much luck getting the weight right - always too heavy so maybe I'll underestimate next time around. And Fern Glade is lacy which is time consuming and with two other lacy projects underway ... blah blah blah. Might be time for some cables.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

hands project 2008: update

Back in February this year I wrote about Taryn Ferris' Hands Project. Here is an update:

Thank you for contributing to my Hands Project 2008. It has now been four months since I completed my dissertation.

To my delight the theory and analysis that has developed from the project has been received very well. I wanted to share this success with all those involved, and thank you for your time and effort. Without your input I would not have had a project.

Unfortunately, I was not able to produce a book exhibiting/displaying the entire project as first devised. However, I am considering creating a shorter book via PhotoBox which will include a compilation of your responses (words & images) with some brief commentary from my dissertation. This book will be available for you to purchase at cost price (circa GBP20.99) plus postage. The book's production is subject to demand; I require a minimum of five orders before I take it forward.

If you are interested in receiving one of these books, please reply to by Friday December 19th 2008.



Friday, 12 December 2008

three little kittens

I'm wondering how long it will take to lose these mittens ...

The vital statistics

Pattern: Basic Cuff-Up Mittens by Patti Pierce Stone
Yarn: Recycled hand-dyed yarn - it was originally a Gap sweater, 90 per cent lambswool 10 per cent angora, which I unravelled and then dyed with the help of Val of Actual Size Creations; the colourway is Auntie Jane
Needles: 4.0mm
Addi turbo for the cuff, 4.5mm Addi turbo for the body of the mitten
Start to finish: 30 November 2008 to 9 December November 2008

Comments: I have actually knit two pairs of these mittens. Not that the first pair got lost or anything - it was given away as a thank-you gift at Thanksgiving. Now baby bear and her best friend have matching, interchangeable mittens. A very simple pattern, the second time around it was a bit of a slog. The yarn is lovely, very soft and has already survived a machine wash. II made the smallest size and cast on only 20 stitches (instead of 24) and increased to 28 because otherwise I felt that the cuff wasn't snug enough. They've knitted up quite densely and with at angora in there should keep baby bear's hands very toasty. I'm still debating whether to crochet up a safety cord to keep them together. I think that I would prefer clips to clip them to the cuff of whatever baby bear is wearing - is that sort of thing still available?

Verdict: I hope that they don't get lost because there's no way that I could knit them a third time, well, not this winter at least.

And in other crafting news, after trying to work out what to sew I did find a bit of motivation and finished sewing the two lengths of batting together for the vintage fabrics quilt. At night while trying to fall asleep I have been dreaming up what the backing will look like, so I'm getting there. I today completed repeat 12 of the budding lace pattern for the swallowtail shawl - yippee! That's seven more to go. I am trying to knit one repeat a day in order to maintain momentum and also because I can't wait to start on the Faux Russian Stole (ravelry link) which I plan to be my next project knitting.

I spent a lovely couple of hours yesterday sitting in one of the display galleries at Seattle Art Museum knitting Baudelaire while baby bear slept in her stroller. Much to my horror though, and quite uncharacteristic of my knitting woes, I discovered two dropped stitches! After working an entire pattern repeat or so of the leg. Dreadful. Lots of frogging and confusion about where I was up to with the heel once I had frogged back far enough to rescue the stitches. Still have no idea what went wrong.

And practical knitting - it's time for a new practical knit. I had mentally committed to starting a baby version of Olga Buraya-Kefelian's Cabled Cowl but all I really have to knit it in is a dark grey and being for baby bear I just can't get into it in that colour. Truth be told, I'm not really so into the dark grey wool either which is what I knit my wide-brimmed hat from. So
on a whim instead I decided that I need a slouchy beret and cast on today for the Star Crossed Slouchy Beret (ravelry link) by Natalie Larson. I didn't have any appropriate weight wool for that either but rather than going out and spending money, I went through my thrift shop sweater stash, found a J Crew sweater, 100 per cent wool in a very nice purple and started to unravel. The yarn is very fine but I'm finding it working well knitting five strands together. Actually, I think that this is a sweater that I bought at a yard sale, I think that it cost 50 cents.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

sew what?

Ok, so I have my knitting under control and it's going well. I'm sticking to my knit list, enjoying the discipline. I've always been good at following rules, I think that this is just what I needed. I'm up to the ninth repeat on my swallowtail shawl and have turned the heel of my first Baudelaire sock.

Now there's the sewing issue. I have so many things that I want to make but I seem to get around to sewing even less than I get around to knitting. Knitting is, of course, more portable and easier to pick up at a moment's notice. And easier, and safer, to put down. Unless you have a place to leave it out, getting out the sewing machine is a trial in comparison and all those pins and needles and scissors and the two-year old. Hmm, what to do?

In the absence of a ravelry for sewers (or is there one?!?) here is my current sewing situation.

complete unfinished projects
This was the first stage in dealing with the knitting. So, currently lurking around and in no particular order I have:

vintage fabrics quilt - the top is long complete and several weeks ago I found some great fabric to be the batting on a thrift tour in Burien. I was afraid that there wouldn't actually be enough of it though and that has put me off proceeding for weeks. Friday past I finally laid it all down on the floor and yes, there is enough! Now I am hand sewing two lengths of the fabric together and am about half-way there. Next steps will be putting together the backing and doing the quilting. This will involve getting out the sewing machine (sigh).

felted jumper bag - lots more bird embroidery to do. I worked on this a bit a few weeks ago, it's just a matter of sticking with it.

reverse engineering a dress pattern - impetus for this has stalled given how cold the weather currently is but I still think about it often and would like to get on with it. I actually have a number of these on the go and they're at ready-to-cut-out stage. I think that I will make toiles first.

black skirts - I have three black skirts - one cotton with a floral print and two printed velvet - all of which are in a different state of disassembly so that I can replace the waist band or add darts or some such to make it fit me. They have been like this for a long time. And although once upon a time Di helped me to draft a new yoke for one of them I have no idea whether it would now fit me.

practical sewing
That is, things that are required in our household right now that I have resolved to sew from recycled fabrics.

pyjamas for baby bear - I did actually have a go at these a couple of months ago using a pattern from a Japanese pattern book but with no great success. I did buy a commercial pattern at the thrift shop recently - Simplicity 8173 - though and should try that. I think I'll make the pyjamas but with long sleeves.

woollen legs - I love love love this idea of using the sleeves from garments to make children's pants and would like to try it with some woollens. This would mean getting out not only my sewing machine but also my overlocker.

Where to start??

Saturday, 6 December 2008


That is, multiple foliages.

The vital statistics
Pattern: Foliage by Emilee Mooney from Knitty
green - Manos del Uruguay 100% wool, less than one skein; grey - recycled lambswool, as used to make the wide-brimmed hat
4.5mm and 4mm Addi turbos
Start to finish: green - 28 November 2008 to 2 December 2008; grey - 2 December to 5 December

Comments: I've now knit three of these beanies, the first having been one of my secret pal gifts. That one I knit in Malabrigo worsted and it's been interesting to see how the different yarns produce a different finished item.

These were two pretty uneventful knits. I didn't like the Manos del Uruguay as much as I had hoped to.
It was a special skein of yarn because a dear friend was kind enough to purchase it for me when on holiday in New York a couple of years ago already when it wasn't available in Australia.

As such I had planned to use it to make something for baby bear but these hats had to be made and the yarn was there. I wasn't pleased by the thick/thin nature of the yarn, I like things to be a little less rugged than that.

The grey lambswool is excellent to knit with, lovely and soft. I still have heaps left of it, I actually hardly know what to do with it. Anybody want some?

Verdict: Successful knits but autumn has come and gone and it's winter now so no more foliage for a good few months.

parents and their young

I bought this card matching game for baby bear at Goodwill the other day. I thought that the pictures were kind of cute and naming animals is a popular pastime around here and eventually we will be able to use it to play memory games.

But then I decided that actually, it really pisses me off. Not the cards so much but the name - why on earth does it have to be mothers and their babies? Granted, the cow has an udder so that's a mummy cow and her calf but otherwise - the cat, the dog, the elephant? - they could all be a daddy with his young. I suppose that the concept reflects the fact that children do spend more time with their mothers but it also promulgates a social value that mothers and children belong together and fathers are elsewhere. This notion not only robs mothers of the opportunity to be somewhere else (like work) but it also robs fathers of the opportunity to be with their children.

I'd be the first to acknowledge the 'special bond' between mother and child but I'd also be the first to question whether its special status just reflects social norms or whether there is actually a qualitative difference with the bond between father and child. Having never been a father it is impossible for me, or anyone else I think, to say.

Everywhere, including in the crafting world, I see and hear rampant gender bias - "It's a great first sewing project for a little girl". Rubbish, it's a great sewing project for a child, any child. At a shopping centre last week I heard a young girl tell her mother that she wanted a certain Lego set for Christmas. "No no, you can't. That's not a girl's toy", the mother replied. !!!. Yeah, and engineering and architecture and anything else requiring spatial abilities and creativity are not women's professions.

We are making every effort to raise baby bear with a wide variety of toys, books and activities. Yes, she has a doll house but she also has a great train set which she just loves. And she'll sit for a good half hour on her own playing Lego, totally engrossed.

So anyway, in our house it is only a mummy animal where physiology dictates; all the others are an even mix of mummies and daddies. One might think that a small child wouldn't be worried by the udder but yes, correct physiology does matter. Don't even get me started on the correct usage of vulva and vagina.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

verbal foliage

I'm really quite obsessed with knitting at the moment. Yes, I've been a keen knitter for a few years now, even an enthusiastic knitter but at the moment I really am obsessed. All I want to do is knit, and log it all into ravelry. Perhaps it's a way of bringing a bit of control and order to these chaotic times.

So, let me share recent knitting activity with you here too:
  • I knit on the way to and from Las Vegas, on the airplane. This is very exciting for an Australian knitter because you can't take knitting needles past security at Australian airports.
  • I'm doing quite well sticking to my 'knit list' approach. I've actually got two practical knits on the go at the moment but only because I was swapping between available needles and patterns while we were away. Even just the mental discipline of the approach is working for me so far.
  • I finished the first of my two 'thank-you foliage' projects. I'll wait until they're both finished before writing/showing more.
  • I have discovered that lace knitting is a quick and demanding addiction. I cannot get enough of the swallowtail shawl but I really do need to sit and knit a repeat in one go which requires some good blocks of time. And time is something I can never get enough of. But that's ok because I can still think about all the lace knitting that I'm going to do next. My project knitting queue (both mental and literal) is filling up with yarn overs and knit two togethers. I'm so excited!
In this vein I have been shopping for laceweight yarn - thrift shopping, of course. The selection of woollens at the thrift stores in Las Vegas was pretty poor. Quite a lot of cotton knits, way too much acrylic, but no cotton/wool/silk blends or anything like that. I always trawl the 'sweater' aisles at the thrift stores, even though I do have more woollens and more yarn than I need. But always looking for ... something. Anyway, sweater aisles in LV were a dud but I did go and have a quick rummage through the dresses and look what I found:

Eighty-five per cent alpaca, fifteen per cent wool, light/dark brown but with flecks of red and blue in there as well - exactly what I had in mind. I'm pretty confident that it will unravel to laceweight and the best part - it's a dress, a long sleeve full-length dress (awful really, don't visualise too closely) so there will definitely be enough yarn. That's always my worry with recycling yarn, I'm never quite sure that there will be enough until that last stitch is cast off and that anxiety can be enough to discourage me from getting on with the knitting, witness the baby ballerina top.

This post is a bit of a ramble. So many thoughts to get out at once. These past few days, I've missed blogging.

leaving las vegas

Thank goodness.

I'm sure that much has been written on the topic and it's getting late and it was a long flight with a two-year old so I am not even going to attempt a cultural analysis of Las Vegas. But, I did note the following:
  • the casinos are like huge theme parks with a den of iniquity at their core
  • the city is very clean and there is no graffiti to be seen but it smells bad
  • the Goodwill superstore isn't that super but the Savers on Tropicana has a really good array of children's puzzles (well, had - I bought a few)
So the best thing that we did was leave Las Vegas and drive to the Hoover Dam on the Nevada/Arizona border. I'm sure that it featured in a James Bond film sometime ago. Anyway, I didn't realise that it was actually built between 1931 and 1935 - it's an art deco masterpiece. There's not a lot of signage around and where there is, it's mostly for the toilets but the typefaces are wonderful:

Happy to be home.

Friday, 28 November 2008


It's not quite homesickness, so much as nostalgia. For Australia. Something I really miss is lamingtons.

So I tried to make my own to take along to Thanksgiving dinner this evening. I didn't really have the facilities (or should that be faculties?) to bake my own sponge so I made do with angel food cake. Although it looked and tasted pretty good while I was putting them together, the chocolate coating didn't stay moist as it should have; instead it just dried like regular icing. Does the CWA have a branch in Washington state?

on exhibit

In August this year I took a class in block printing at the Kirkland Arts Center. This is located in a lovely old red brick building near downtown Kirkland and offers a variety of classes in drawing, painting, printmaking and ceramics. They also have a gallery space.

I had done some linocut prints before but was introduced to the Safety-Kut block - it's a flexible rubbery block that is very easy to cut and can be cut on both sides. There's less chance of injuring yourself, too (the last time I made a linocut I cut myself; that's why it was the last time).

The centre also hangs and displays a selection of student work in the halls and my piece which is currently on display - 'Stormy weather' - a block print on recycled linen fashioned into a child's dress/sleeveless top. The design is adapted from the endpapers of an old book that I have (back in Melbourne - not even sure what book it is).
Although the effect is just what I wanted, it was very difficult to get the fabric printing ink (designed for screenprinting) to be tacky enough to succeed with a block print. I had to put a lot of medium in to thicken it up and am not sure how this would affect the colour fastness of the ink, were I to wash it. For the moment I'm calling it a prototype.

Monday, 24 November 2008


I have been using Ravelry a lot lately. I think that it's part of the desire that I currently have to get things in order. I've been assigning yarns to projects and thinking about knit categories and priorities. I'm really keen to use up some of the yarn that I have lying around - some of it has been carted across the Pacific and deserves to be used.

Unfortunately, the Ravelry queue doesn't quite accommodate my knitting plans so here they are for your (dubious) edification.

sock knitting
current - Baudelaire - going well, have completed the gusset and am about to start the heel on the first sock. I'm liking it.

next - Jaywalker in Noro Kureyon sock yarn, shade S233 - my mum chose this yarn when she visited and I want to try the Jaywalker pattern. I might even do it toe up.
and then - Travelling Stitch Legwarmers - I actually bought some new yarn for these (Louet Gems fingering weight in eggplant), an unusual state of affairs as I am quite committed to yarn recycling these days.

practical knitting
current - basic cuff-up mittens - in hand-dyed recycled yarn (90% lambswool, 10% angora from a Gap sweater). I have done one so far - I think that the ribbing could be tighter and both the hand and thumb shorter. They're size 2-3 years but I would be amazed if they didn't get lost before then!
next - foliage hats - presents for friends who sent our camera back to us from Switzerland, twice*. I'm going to use up some Manos del Uruguay that I have in stash and more of the recycled grey lambswool that I used to knit the wide-brimmed hat.
and then - oh, how to choose? Dashing, Cabled Cowl, Ice Queen?

project knitting
current - Swallowtail shawl - enjoying it already.
next - Now this is where it really opens up! It could be anything but there are actually some yarns that I have that I really want to use up - a recycled cotton/linen/silk in a bright indigo blue and a recycled heathered dark green Shetland wool. We'll see how swallowtail goes but I am thinking more lace. Then there's the small issue that I have never actually knit an adult garment ...

* We left our camera on our friend's kitchen table in Zurich back in May this year. He sent it through to Germany (our next stop) but it didn't arrive until after we had already departed. When it did finally arrive it was held by customs who wanted duty to be paid on it. We had by now returned to Australia anyway so we let it be returned to our friend in Switzerland who had now departed on a three-month tour of South East Asia. Upon his return to Europe he sent the camera through to us here in the United States. It arrived on Friday.

exigency knitting

Here's a category that I didn't even include in the official knit list but it's one of those situations that comes along where you urgently need to produce something. Like for a birthday present the next day. This knitting was so urgent that, sadly, there's not even a photo.

Last night I whipped up the baby hat from Leigh Radford's One Skein in the green Cascade 220 that I had left over. That's a bit heavier than the yarn called for but that's ok as I did the larger size (12-18 months) but wanted it to fit a three-year old. I'll have to just ask you to imagine.

The vital statistics
Pattern: baby hat from Leigh Radford's One Skein, size 12-18 months
Yarn: Cascade 220 shade 9430
Needles: 4.5mm Addi turbo
Start to finsh: 5:40pm 22 November 2008 to 10:56pm 22 November 2008 with dinner and child's bath included.

Comments: I like this pattern alot. I actually knitted the smaller size for baby bear before she was born. Knit in the round there is no seam and just the two ends to darn in. The Cascade 220 is a great yarn, it knits up like a dream.

Verdict: very happy. So happy in fact that I might have to make another one for baby bear. Then I'll be able to take a photo of it!

Sunday, 23 November 2008

project knitting

Thank you all for your very kind words about the baby ballerina top - it has been a most gratifying project and was well worth the perseverance. Now that it is complete though, I have an opening in my project knitting category. Project knitting is, well, projects - things that I want to make because they look great, or look like an interesting knit, or look like a challenge, or spark my imagination or curiosity.

At least, there was an opening in my project knitting category:

I cast on yesterday for the swallowtail shawl using the lace weight yarn that I bought at Value Village and subsequently dyed. I have done two repeats of the budding lace pattern and am a couple of rows into the third. That's a lifeline there out of sock wool and I think that I may need to use it shortly - I need to take a good look at it tomorrow in the light when I'm a bit more awake.

And in the background? Yes, that's snow! Not here in Seattle but a couple of hours drive away in Mt Ranier National Park. The snow was fresh and dry, the sky was bright and clear. We continued a bit further up the road into the park but as we rounded the mountain it became dark and wet and a bit scary so we turned back. A few minutes down the mountain, bright and clear again. Amazing.

Surprisingly, this is my first lace project. Yes, I know there's a difference between lace knitting (increases and decreases on both right and wrong side) and lacy knitting (increases and decreases only on the right side) but I don't really see the point of the distinction. Anyway, lace is why I started knitting ... three or four years ago. And finally I have gotten around to doing some. Amazing.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

baby belle

Giddy, absolutely giddy. That is the best way to describe how I feel about the baby ballerina top now that I have finally completed it.

Pattern: Baby Ballerina Top from Debbie Bliss' Quick (ahem) Baby Knits
Yarn: Linen recycled from an Elle B jumper purchased at the Salvation Army in St Kilda. The thread was four threads in thickness. I made it five threads by painstakingly separating one thread out from the rest and combining it with another four-thread strand. I have no idea now how I did it.
Needles: 3.75mm bamboo straights (I think).
Start to Finish: 10 August 2007 to 21 November 2008; yes, that's one year three months and eleven days. Quick eh?

Comments: I can hardly believe that I have actually finished this project! So much procrastinating, so much putting it aside, so much more procrastinating. And then a solid concerted effort to get it finished that just built up like a crescendo. It was so long ago that I started it though that I have forgotten (blocked out?) a few things about it. I substituted the yarn obviously and that required some fiddling - not sure what. I think that i had to make some of my own decisions about what decrease to use along the sloping front edges. I went for something bold. Anything would be ok as long as it is consistent.

The pattern is fine and I guess could be quick if you ... anyway, short row garter stitch collar which has a very nice shape and also short rows on the garter stitch front band (about where the ties attach). I wasn't happy with how this part turned out which is why the ribbon ties are covering the corner - "design feature".

I think that I now understand what hand and drape mean. Linen has gorgeous hand and drape. It feels beautiful to touch and is almost liquid when you handle it. I didn't knit the ties; instead I found a ribbon in just the perfect shade in the ribbon room at Nancy's Sewing Basket. It's pure silk and at US$6.90 a yard is the most expensive thing about this whole garment!

Verdict: Giddy, still giddy. Quite to my amazement I have created something that I think is truly beautiful. The colour, the texture, the shape, the ribbon, I just love it.

thump in the night

Things that go thump in the night:
  1. Baby bear scrambling out of her cot and hitting the wooden floor at about 2:00 in the morning. No apparent damage, except to my beauty sleep.
  2. My thigh against the edge of the bed end as I leapt out of bed and flew to baby bear's room as soon as I heard the thump. I didn't even notice it until much later in the morning when it had turned into a great tender lump.
The photograph is small to protect the identity of my thigh (and perhaps people's sensibilities).

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

not quite on target

I absolutely love the target wave mittens in Nora Gaughan's book Knitting Nature: 39 designs inspired by patterns in nature. I thought that I would be very clever and exploit the structure of the mitten by using a self-striping yarn, namely some Opal sock yarn that I bought in the form of a beanie and cardigan at the St Vincent de Paul op shop in Benalla quite some time ago (who donates hand knits?). Unfortunately the workmanship wasn't really up to scratch (perhaps explaining the donation) so I unravelled them.

Anyway, not quite so clever as I thought. Self-striping sock yarn is designed to self stripe around the circumference of an adult calf, not a two year-old's wrist so I really just ended up with chunks of colour in the hand of the mitten. The thumbs are stripier but only because I cut the yarn up, leaving me with lots of ends to darn in, avoidance of which was part of the point of doing it in self-striping yarn. And I cast on too tightly. And the thumb is too long, even though it's shorter than the pattern called for. And baby bear refused to wear it anyway (unwelcome theme emerging here - see previous post).

So, I'm cutting my losses, so to speak. There is one complete but there will be no pair. I'm not even going to bother frogging it for a few strands of yarn. There's quite a bit still left over. I might knit something suitable out of it - like, say, socks.


The vital statistics
The basic tam from The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns: basic designs in multiple sizes and gauges; the size is basically that which I achieved with the yarn that I used.
Yarn: dark blue Shetland wool recycled from a jumper that I bought at Sacred Heart Mission op shop on Chapel St in Windsor.
Needles: oh dear, don't remember, bamboo dpns I think.
Start to finish: 30 May 2008 to 7 November 2008

I was very pleased with the yarn for this - I decided that I wanted to knit a navy blue tam for baby bear and went out to the op shop specifically looking for a jumper in navy blue. I found one the first time I looked and here is the result. I knit this at a very tight gauge in order to make it as waterproof as possible. If I were to make a tam from this pattern again I think that I would start at the top centre (not at the brim). Then you could knit for a while and work out what your gauge is and then know when to stop the increases. I had some trouble blocking this - I did it over a plate and the brim stretched way too wide so it took me a while to actually get around to putting some elastic into the brim.

Hmmmm, not sure. The pattern is fine but the fabric that I have created with the Shetland is a bit rough. I'm not sure whether baby bear will enjoy wearing it or how well it will fit her because she hasn't shown much interest in putting it on so far.