Friday, 31 December 2010

december reading

Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris - sex, vampires, sex with vampires. Sadly, this is the most recently published 'Sookie bookie' so I'm joining the legions waiting for the next installment.

Sweater Quest: my year of knitting dangerously by Adrienne Martini - I picked this up on impulse from the library's 'just passing through' shelf (books borrowed from other branches and returned to my library). Well, how could I not pick up a book about knitting, and knitting dangerously at that. This was a great book, I loved it. I really related to the author who records her year-long quest to knit a very complicated Alice Starmore design called Mary Tudor, an absolute feat of stranded colourwork. And why does she do this? Just to test and prove that she can - the ultimate in process knitting

Speaking of process knits, here is the latest incarnation of my In the Pink:

I've doubled my progress, just in the reverse direction. My dissatisfaction with this shawl, which had been slowly growing, took over when I completed two of the 105 edging repeats and realised, 'no, this is not going to happen'. The dissatisfaction was really discomfort with my uncertainty about the stitch counts.

To digress a moment - this is a fabulous design. It's gorgeous, the construction is fascinating and the pattern is generously made freely available by the designer. I think that if made precisely as written, it would be very satisfying.

Still digressing: the issue I sometimes find with independently published patterns is that there is not necessarily any standardisation of the instructions or terminology or explanations. I think that this written pattern (there are no charts) is very much an expression of the designer's thought patterns and as such is somewhat idiosyncratic.

So back to my discomfort - the problem was that in the instructions for the centre swirl there are directions for doing a larger size by adding eight more rounds of knitting. I am tall and broad shouldered and took this option. There are, however, no further instructions in the pattern for the larger size; the knitter is required to figure out the numbers for the side wings and border and edging. Ok, that's not such a big deal except that this requirement is not made explicit at any point in the pattern and I wouldn't have realised that I needed to do various extra rows had I not read a knitalong forum on Ravelry. It's possible that had I thought about it enough (and when you understand the construction it does become clear) or sketched it out that I would have realised but by the time I was deep into it, i didn't really care to.

Anyway, the absence of any stitch counts for the larger variation left me a bit in the dark and uncertain that I was getting it right. And getting it right is important to me. Yes, I could have fudged it but that is not how I knit and once that uncertainty had crept into this project, it was, alas, doomed. And after I had figured out the construction by doing, I decided that I didn't want a frilly pink shawl anyway.

In the Pink by IzzyKnits
Size: I tried for the larger size.
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock Yarn in colourway 'Manzanita'.
Stash/recycle content:
I had two skeins of this in the cupboard. I then had to buy two more skeins in order to have enough yarn for the edging. Unfortunately, the two extra skeins were a different dyelot and really didn't match - also part of my decision to frog this project.
Start to finish:
1 March to 21 December 2010 in fits and starts: centre swirl, 1 March to 11 March; left side, 17 to 18 July with extra rows 5 to 6 December; right side, 3 to 5 December.

Verdict: This is a fabulous design and a pattern for experienced knitters who can independently figure out any variations.

catch up

Just to be clear, I didn't knit these! This is actually a refashion of a Country Road cardigan (again, something that I brought with me from Australia). The wool is incredibly soft so I wanted to make something from it for baby b to wear. Given how long it can take to knit something and how quickly babies grow, cutting up an existing woollen and sewing something new is a very cost-effective alternative. And again, I like the play on scale that comes from adult-size cables on a child-size garment.

I kept the existing button and buttonhole bands for the front and used my overlocker to finish the edges of the garment pieces. I actually sewed and finished them both by hand.

I'm not sure whether this fabric was a bit bulky for the overlocker's liking but it did give it quite a wavy edge, despite using the differential mechanism to tighten it up a bit. This is only evident from the inside so I'm not too bothered.

I would like to experiment a bit more with knitted fabrics - that is, knitted woollens - to discover just what the machine can cope with and still give an attractive finish.

Other parts of this garment were frogged to provide the yarn that I used to knit the Ivorie hat so this cardigan has been well re-used. And unlike last year when I kept remembering more things that I made, this is my very last finished project for 2010.


The Vital Statistics
Jutta Beret by Staceyjoy Elkin from Handmade Underground Knitwear: 25 fun accessories for all seasons.
one size.
Reynolds Lopi that I bought at Crown Hill Value Village here in Seattle.
Start to finish: 26 December to 28 December 2010.
Stash/recycle content:
100 per cent thrift store yarn that was in my stash - hooray!

I was attracted by the geometric design of this hat an have wanted to use up some of the Lopi for ages. They seemed like a good match and I wanted a tam that was not a version of red (like my other two).

I think that this project would have benefited from a slightly smaller needle size. I was feeling impatient and don't have a 6.5mm circular so I used 7mm. As it is, I feel that the tam is too segmented - I don't know whether this is because of the design (cables and twisted stitches divided by columns of reverse stocking stitch) or that I didn't block it vigorously enough. I am tentative about blocking it any further though as then it might be too big. I do have another ball of the Lopi, and it was a quick knit so perhaps it's actually time to enhance my circular needle collection.

Verdict: I'll wear this in the meantime but I may give it a second shot.

Monday, 27 December 2010

undersea anemone

The Vital Statistics
Pattern: Kerchief by Kieran Foley of knit/lab. This designer has lots of other lovely patterns - I hope to knit something more from him soon.
Size: One size - depth at centre is approximately 36 centimetres/15 inches.
Yarn: Schoppell-Wolle Crazy Zauberball in colourway 'U-boot' (which means submarine), 0.6 skeins; Rowan Pure Wool 4ply in colourways 'Kiss' and 'Clay', 0.2 skeins each. I really love the Zauberball and this colourway particularly and will certainly use it again.

Actually, it strikes me that the colour story in this piece is similar to my Daybreak shawl. Oooh, but a note - the Zauberball lost dye when I soaked the piece for blocking and it tinted the Clay which was actually a lighter grey. All to good end I think, it fits in better now to the colour scheme but certainly something to be aware of.

Needles: 4mm.
Stash/recycle content: none whatsoever.
Start to finish: 20 December to 25 December 2010 - wow, look what I can achieve when the mood takes me!

Comments: I came across this pattern on Ravelry on 2 December. Exactly three weeks later I was wearing it out to Christmas dinner. As soon as I saw it, I desperately wanted it. I bought the exact yarns and colourways that the pattern indicated, I attempted stranded colourwork for the first time in my life, I knit it in six days!

Given how much bulk there is to the colourwork band compared to the Zauberball sections, I'm not convinced that it might not be smarter to just knit a red band and then do some duplicate stitch ...

Verdict: Wonderful, if not a little small. I wish that it was twice the size and did consider making it larger but then decided to stick with the pattern for my first foray into colourwork. In that respect, I'm glad I did. Doing the colourwork was ok but I wouldn't say that I'm a convert - the idea of an entire garment makes me blanch but maybe a hat or some mittens sometime. If it is a small element of a future project, I won't hesitate.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

a knitted veil in peruvian wool

So it turns out that all I was waiting for was some snow because really, that's the best place to take photos of lace. (This snow was not in Seattle but somewhere in the vicinity of Cle Elum where we went sledding.)

The Vital Statistics
A Knitted Veil in Pyrenees Wool by Jane Sowerby from Victorian Lace Today.
Size: I did one extra repeat in the central panel so the final shawl measures 150 x 60 centimetres (60 x 24 inches).

Yarn: Recycled lace-weight yarn, 85 per cent alpaca, 15 per cent wool. This yarn started its life as a heavily cabled long-sleeved dress purchased at Savers in Las Vegas back in December 2008. I also sewed some baby pants from its sleeves.
Start to finish: 30 May 2009 to 13 December 2010 - eighteen months (and a half). I would like to point out that during this period I also started and completed eight hats, four pieces of baby clothing, two adult garments, four shawls, one scarf, one cupcake, two cowls, a pair of mittens, a pincushion, four blanket squares, one pair of baby bootees, a fuzzy little alien and five other small crochet toys. And a baby boy.
Stash/recycle content:
100 per cent! A Peruvian dress that found its way to Vegas and then to the snowy slopes of Washington.

Wow, where to start? This shawl was a long time in the making and I have written a lot about it previously. I had the most trouble with knitting that central panel -nine repeats of 3 rows, keeping track of a four-row lace pattern and an 18 row border pattern simultaneously. Once I got rid of the stitch markers and just 'read' the knitting it went much better. The rest of it was actually fairly easy knitting, just following those charts. The entire shawl is knit from just two strands of yarn, one for the body and one for the edging, a great advantage of using recycled yarn. I learnt new skills - particularly that knitted-on edging - and refined old ones - perseverance.
Triumphant, absolutely triumphant. I don't think that I'm going to rush to make another one (although I will yet finish my Faux Prussian Stole) because that central stretch was mind numbing but I am going to love wearing this and feeling triumphant.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010


I had to make this shawl. As a necessity. I bought the exact yarn that the pattern calls for (almost unheard of for me).

And I had to overcome my fear of stranded colourwork, as a necessity, because it is part of the pattern. Yes, this is the project that drove me to, well, not invention but certainly development of my knitting skills.

Basically, in on of my fits of arbitrary stubbornness I had sworn that I would never do colourwork. And that has worked for me for my ten or so years of knitting. It was actually quite helpful as it put some boundaries on the number of projects that I could aspire to and invest in. When I saw a great pair of Norwegian mittens, instead of trying to incorporate them into my mental knitting map, I could just say 'no, I don't go there'. Speaking of Norwegian mittens ...

Tuesday, 21 December 2010


Ganymede? Monogamy? Ganogymy? Ganomy.

The Vital Statistics
Pattern: Ganomy Hat (June) by Elizabeth Zimmerman from The Knitter's Almanac.
Size: child size
Yarn: Rowan Lima (84 per cent baby alpaca, 8 per cent merino wool and 8 per cent nylon) in colourway Lima.
Needles: 5mm.
Stash/recycle content: I'm counting this as stash in the sense that I didn't purchase this yarn for the purpose of making this hat; I just bought it earlier this year for no particular purpose other than curiosity. Oh well, it's gone from the cupboard now!

Start to finish: 27 to 30 November 2010.

Comments: I think that it is worthwhile doing paired increases on the front and back - the first increase is M1L, the last is M1R (this is the back of the hat); the front increases in the centre of the round are are M1L k2 M1R. My gauge was a bit less than called for on this hat so I knit a bit less in length as well.

The dip that creates the earflaps on this hat is a wonderful effect of the double increases and decreases. If I were to knit it again, which I'd certainly like to, I would make the point a bit less pointy; not completely rounded but just a bit smaller.

I was very pleased with the fabric that the Lima creates, it's very smooth and even. It took less than a ball (I'd estimate about 90 metres) so if you're looking to use up some single skeins, this is a great choice.

* And thank you to our neighbour for modelling as one of my children won't sit still and the other refused to even put the hat on ...

Monday, 20 December 2010

spot the difference

Remember those 'activities' from childhood? I always found that the differences were too glaringly obvious or so subtle that I was too impatient to actually search them out.

Anyway, observe:

The offending detail in the left-hand photo (reproduced from the previous post) is that there is a mistake, mostly concealed by the roll of the shawl's edge. It can just be seen on the far left of the fill-in triangle - the pattern in the last few rows doesn't line up.

The difference in the right-hand photo is that this mistake has been fixed and all of the rows now line up nicely. This entailed major shawl surgery because I just couldn't bear to undo it all. I actually just dropped back some 30 stitches for the offending section and re-knit it. Then there were a couple of full rows to deal with which had been knit subsequent to the top photo. The whole process took me the whole day. Absolutely worth it, otherwise I'd be looking at that mistake for the rest of my life.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

ahead of myself

Ok, I have gotten a bit ahead of myself. In the order of things, I'm up to showing how I grafted the live stitches of one segment of the left arm to one segment of the central swirl (the bit that was hidden by that bamboo needle last time). Fact is though, I have done that grafting, and the next grafting. I have rejoined the yarn to the corner of the right arm and knit the first fill-in triangle, and the second, and am now up to the four row border before embarking upon the edging.

It's hard to tell because it's all squashed up on a circular needle but here are some details:

The photo on the left shows (with a yellow arrow) where we left off, where the border continues from the left arm across the top of the swirl. One segment of the left arm (on the left) is then grafted to one segment of the swirl (on the right).

The photo on the right shows the next bit of grafting; once you have attached the border across the top of the swirl you then graft those stitches to the live border stitches on the right arm and graft one segment of the swirl to one segment of the right arm. It's not quite a straight line so I have shown the three points with green dots. I did make a mistake (which I conveniently covered with that uppermost green dot) - the first three stitches should, of course, be grafted as garter stitch and the rest as stocking stitch. I grafted them all as stocking stitch - oh well.

The photo on the left here shows the fill-in triangle bewteen one segment of the right arm and one segment of the swirl. The photo on the right shows the fill-in triangle between the swirl and the left arm in a bit more context. Directly above the triangle is the line of grafting shown in the photo on the above left.

I am not sure if any of this is useful to readers or potential In the Pink knitters. This really may be one of those projects where you figure it out by doing. There is actually an excellent photo on the Ravelry page for the In the Pink pattern that shows all of the steps for joining, albeit on a finished shawl.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

the solid mandala

I have finished the centre panel of the Tibetan Clouds Beaded Stole, albeit that mine is not beaded because I'm just not a shiny girl.

This has been such enjoyable knitting - knitting lace in the round is really soothing and this is a great pattern, just the right balance of rhythm and interest. It the first time that I have knit something lacy that has sections with increases and decreases on both sides and sections with increases and decreases only on every other side; and these sections are interspersed with each other, so a dozen rows of knitted lace (both sides) then a dozen or so of lace knitting (every other row) then more knitted lace.

Also the first time I believe that I have knit with Malabrigo yarn - this is Malabrigo Sock in the colourway Persia. About a third of the way through I was a bit concerned that the variegation would be too much but no, I'm still liking it.

* Patrick White is the only Australian to have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Friday, 17 December 2010

the next step

Well, that didn't take long. After doing some research (on Ravelry naturally) and getting my head around the construction, I was actually really keen to give this a go. What you can see here is the tip of the shawl's left arm (as shown here) where it joins up with the central swirl.

The two join at the point of that conveniently placed bamboo double-pointed needle which is actually disguising the fact that I got carried away and also did the grafting. So yes, at that point you continue to knit those eight stitches and join them every other row to one of the live stitches from the swirl, in the same manner that you would attach a knitted-on edging. Just the same as the knitted-on edging on the knitted veil. Lucky I got all that practice in there.

And lest it seem that all this In the Pink knitting is just a way of avoiding the knitted veil - not so! The knitted veil is done, finished, complete and there has not been the dreaded anti-climax at the end of a major project but rather a feeling of complete and utter triumph. Having said which, I don't feel quite ready to write anything about it so I'm knitting instead.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

one (part two)

Last weekend we celebrated baby b's first birthday.
With a bee. Happy birthday beautiful boy.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

putting it together

Action shot! Shawl construction in progress.

I wet blocked my three pieces of the In the Pink shawl, just by soaking them for a bit, pressing out the moisture and then laying them flat to dry (usually for lace I would do vigorous pinning but this was just to flatten them out a bit and make them easier to work with). What you see above, besides being a photograph taken under the brightest light in the house at four in the afternoon without a flash, is the left arm and central swirl in roughly the position in which they will be joined.

Just to note, the arm is a crescent-shaped piece, knit from the centre of the straight edge. All of the stitches on the curved edge are currently being kept live on a piece of blue waste yarn. Along the right-hand half of the edge is an eight stitch-wide border. All of the stitches around the swirl are also live and on waste yarn.

Now here is how the arm and the swirl are going to be joined - those eight edge stitches will continue to be knit back and forth and will attach (every other row) to the live stitches along one of the swirl segments, in much the same fashion as a knitted-on edging would.

What will this look like? Umm, I'll show you when I've actually done it.

Friday, 10 December 2010

home stretch

I can actually see it, the end is in sight, just around the last corner. I have nine edge repeats to go, nine out of 100. All I have to do is work from that (just visible) end of the circular needle across to that blue thread, which is the provisional cast-on.

You know, I actually feel a little queasy, literally. When I think about it I get butterflies in my stomach - of excitement? of apprehension? I could well have this finished in the next couple of days. Must go work on something else.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

puzzle pieces

That mesmerising central swirl and the unique construction were what particularly grabbed me about In the Pink. Still off on my knitting tangent, I completed the second arm/crescent/wing, whatever you like to call it. I also had a look on Ravelry at a knit-along discussion of the joining process and it appears to be as complicated as I had feared! Very good reason to put this aside again.

Pictured here are the two arms and the central swirl, laid out in the formation in which they will be joined together. The pieces have not yet been blocked so are all a bit rumpled but I think that it is going to be wonderful (one day).

Sunday, 5 December 2010


I am easily distracted. While I can sit and knit on something for literally hours on end, if I am not in the right state of mind then any other possible knitting project will grab me and sweep me away. Preferably a new project.

Ways of working fascinate me, particularly my own (forgive the egocentricity but it is my own that I have to deal with most often and get to observe most closely). I often feel as though I am getting nowhere with my projects because I have so many on the go at once. I do a little here, a little there and make no discernible progress, which is both disappointing and frustrating. These past few months I have made the knitted veil my priority and it is going really well. I have completed 71 of the 100 edge repeats and by my (somewhat arbitrary) calculations, I am about 90 per cent of the way there. This is thrilling and I am so excited that completion is in sight. Perhaps it is success nerves that have made me cast on two other lace projects over the past few days?

Admittedly, working on the veil edging is demanding. It's fine gauge, follow the chart, concentrated effort. I do need something else to knit in my down time and besides it's getting cold here and people need hats (more on that next time). But sometimes I just need to knit something different and sometimes there is a project that has grabbed my attention and I have chosen or even bought yarn* for it and really, I just can't wait. That's what this is - the Tibetan Clouds Beaded Stole by Sivia Harding, available for free (but I'm not going to use beads on mine). I have knit the first 17 rounds, you know, just to see what the yarn looks like knitted up, just to get a feel for it. And I think that I'm satisfied for now. It's back to the veil for 29 more repeats.

* Malabrigo Sock in colourway Persia - my first time using Malabrigo and it is lovely.

(The second project is the other arm of the In the Pink Stole.)

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

infinity (ltd)

Ah, they were the days of ABC children's television. Infinity Limited where mysteries and dilemmas all had a scientific solution. We used to watch it at primary school. I particularly remember the episodes about the time difference between Adelaide and Melbourne and the case of the missing petrol (wind resistance was the culprit).

Anyway, I'm considering making the Infinity Wrap by Kristin Omdahl from Interweave Crochet (currently number 16 on my incredible list of almost everything). I originally bought a heap of heavily discounted Noro Kureyon to use but was assailed by a pale minty green streak that just did not work for me. So I'm now considering using the recommended yarn - Plymouth Boku - and have swatched in two different colourways, #5 plum Forest on the left (as used in the magazine) and #11 Rose Between the Thorns. I'm leaning towards the left - any opinions?

november reading

Earlier this month I wasn't sure whether I would make it. I started on The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt, author of one of my favourite books, Possession. Alas, quickly realised that literature is a bit beyond me at the moment. So instead I read another Sookie bookie.

Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris - Sex with vampires. And a rather darker turn with at the end. These books are great - indeed kooky but the characters and the world(s) they inhabit keep developing.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson - I picked this up at a thrift store a while back and was prompted to actually read it by an upcoming book group meeting. Phew - 640 pages in 48 hours. Gripping, thrilling, etc, etc.


Life as a balancing act is probably my preferred metaphor but juggling also works well. So many balls in the air, so many projects going on at once. I finally compiled the great over-arching list of everything that I have on my plate (craft wise) - projects that are on the way, those that are half started, those for which I have bought the materials and have assigned a little bag and fully intend to do one day sometime soon. I've come up with 37. That's not so bad, is it?

And it amuses me to think of what a visualisation of my juggling would look like, what trajectories all of those projects would take. Some just hang in the air for days, weeks, months. Others come and go in a flash. I rarely drop one - yes, I'm stubborn; I would sooner have something hibernate for years than admit that I'm not going to complete it.

In the meantime, I have completed some juggling balls. The first was a birthday present for a lovely summer birthday that we celebrated in the park on a Friday evening. It has taken me this long to complete all three. They're all different but a close variation on the one above.

The Vital Statistics
Pattern: Simple Footbag by Amber Lin, kindly available for free via Ravelry.
Yarn: Tahki Yarns Cotton Classic (100 per cent cotton) in Deep Hot Pink, Bubblegum Pink, Bright Lime Green, Deep Red and Cotton Candy.
Hook: 2.75mm
Size: one size
Stash/recycle content: All from stash - I did purchase this yarn some time ago with a project in mind. I wanted to do some tapestry crochet and the Cotton Classic has such a great range of colours but I realised later that they were too vibrant for that purpose. Great for making these juggling balls though.
Start to finish: one - all done on 16 July 2010; two - some time in August 2010 and completed on 15 November; three - 16 to 20 November 2010.

Comments: I filled the balls with barley so that they weighed 85 grams.
Verdict: This is a great free pattern but oh making these was really on the hands, mostly due to my yarn choice. A 2.75mm crochet hook is a very small size for this weight of yarn and cotton has no give but I wanted to create a really firm fabric so that the barley would not leak out. If I were to make them again I would consider using wool and then fulling them slightly.

These are a good illustration of how things go around here - I made the first one in a day, the next took four months to complete, the third took four days.