Thursday, 26 May 2011

loch nessie

The Vital Statistics
Pattern: Nessie by Julia Zahle, available free - thank you Julia!
Yarn: Noro Yuzen (56 percent wool, 34 per cent silk, 10 per cent mohair) in shade 3; 3.4 skeins.
Needles: 4.5mm.
Start to finish: 17th to 22nd of May, 2011. Yes, a quick knit. I wanted to know how much yarn I would have left for another project so had to knit this up quick smart.
Stash/recycle content: Sadly, none.
Comments: I knit this exactly as the pattern directed, omitting the bobbles and leaving the yarnovers open on the increase row (instead of knitting into the back loop and closing the eyelets up).

Verdict: I like this, it's a fun knit and I love the Yuzen yarn and watching the colour changes come about and seeing what colour ends up next to another. The shaping is all done with short rows so you get ever changing colour sequences. I Particularly like the centre part of the shawl, where it is widest, and the way that the flat section segues into the ruffle. I wasn't so keen upon finishing it about the way that the tails curled but after a wash and block these have relaxed a bit.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

that one sweet promenade

I want to see the sun go down from St Kilda Esplanade
Where the beach needs reconstruction, where the palm trees have it hard

I'd give you all of Sydney Harbour, all that land and all that water
For that one sweet promenade

We are sufficiently recovered from our trip to Melbourne that I can actually stop and reflect on it a bit. I love Australian singer-songwriter Paul Kelly's work and particularly this song, From St Kilda to King's Cross. Maybe it's that Melbourne-Sydney rivalry thing but ah, that one sweet promenade ...

This is actually a song that Tim plays on his guitar and sings, so this last trip when I caught the tram with miss bear along St Kilda Esplanade, I pointed out the palm trees to her and reminded her of the song. She recently saw a picture of somewhere and said 'look, it's Australia'.

It really is true, my past is a foreign country.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

a question of suitability

I bought this very cute vintage sewing pattern from a friend's garage sale yesterday.

I think the coat particularly is adorable and I'm (almost) always delighted by the copy on vintage patterns but really, "not suitable for chubby girls"? 1966 must have a harsh year to grow up.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

yū|zen knitting

I don't think that I have ever really fallen in love with a yarn before. Sure, I've knit with stuff that I've liked and planned to go back to but never before have I had the desire to stash as much of something as possible, just for the sake of having it there, should I ever have the whim to make something from it.

The fact that the yarn has been discontinued undoubtedly plays a part in this urge. I'm talking about Noro Yuzen by the way, 56 per cent wool, 34 per cent silk and 10 per cent mohair. It's what I knit the Olearia cardigan from and am currently knitting a bias garter stitch stole (I'm calling it Vionnet) and Nessie from.

I love the texture of this yarn - a bit rustic - and the colour saturation is just wonderful. I'm not one particularly for shiny so silk-blend yarns often don't appeal but in the Yuzen I think that it is a raw silk and it takes the colour particularly well. And it looks great in garter stitch. If there is any knitting wisdom that I may ever pass down it is to knit self-striping and variegated yarns in garter stitch.

My only reservation about it is that it seems to be a bit rough on the hands; my fingers are a bit dry and chafed. Hard to tell whether it's the weather or the yarn. Nevertheless, I want to get my hands on as much of this as possible and in as many of the colourways as possible. I see a whole lot of garter stitch in my future (and hand cream).

Monday, 16 May 2011


It's almost half way through the year (yes, really), so a good moment to stop and check up on my new year's resolutions.

Reading - yes, not as much as last year but at least one book each month. I dealt with one of my old projects by frogging it (farewell diamond mittens); the quilt and socks I haven't even thought about yet. Jarrett for Tim is coming along well but I have hit that strange 'almost finished, best stop working on it for a while' hiccough. Stash and recycled crafting are going strong but I have also bought quite a bit of yarn for projects so far this year too.

What's really coming along well is my Faux Russian Stole. This is one of only two projects that I took with me to Australia in order to force myself to work on it, being deprived of any distractions. Last mention of any progress on this was February 2010 and my notes in Ravelry are similarly sparse. So, sometime in April this year I was working on edge repeat number 10; within a month, I have now finished edge repeat 17 which makes me half-way through. Half-way through!! (And a bit further even than in the photo).

What is interesting is how this has become quite easy knitting for me; or rather, it is nowhere near the challenge that it was when I started it. Having to move the stitch markers, pay close attention constantly to the chart, count carefully every other row, alternate between k2tog and ssk decreases all over the place, none of this really bothers me now. I can sit and knit a dozen or so rows of this in one go without too much ill effect. So there we have it, one advantage of leaving a project for so long, ahem, that is, coming back to a long-left project, is that you get to experience your development as a knitter.

Monday, 9 May 2011

la waggá

French friends of ours whom we met in Australia, who also live here in Seattle, recently had their first child. What better opportunity to produce the world's first (I'm guessing) Gallo-Australo-American wagga?

The patchwork woollen blanket was actually sewn up about a year ago from pieces cut from a blazer that I bought at the op shop. As the baby's mother is allergic to wool, and even though I'm not sure whether that is a heritable condition, I wanted to encase the blanket in cotton as much as possible. I acquired a good amount of red cotton jersey courtesy of a Tommy Hilfiger sheet set that I bought at a thrift store here in Seattle and used that to mostly encase the blanket. I also figured that this would be softer against the baby's skin.

One of the things that has struck me living and driving here in Washington state is the wonderful graphic of George Washington's profile that is used on the road signs for the state routes. It reminds me of the Queen's profile on English postage stamps (although as someone here quite annoyedly pointed out to me, Washington was not the king of the United States; ah, yes).

Anyway, as our friends are also from elsewhere, living here, for decoration on the quilt I wanted to combine some cultural graphic icons so I chose Washington's profile and also that of the Marianne, the national emblem of France. The profiles are done in reverse appliqué - I placed the cotton jersey onto the woollen blanket and machine stitched around the image with a ball-point needle and tiny stitches, then carefully cut away the fabric inside.

The rest of the space on the quilt needed something so I transferred the outlines of both France and the United States to the top and used running stitch to further quilt the layers together. I stitched around twice, so there are no gaps between the stitches.

I must admit, I'm really happy with this quilt and also excited by it. Happy because it turned out so well, because I love the old-fashioned feel of the deep red against the cream, with the witty imagery (if I may say so myself).

Excited because finally, after probably about four or five years of thought, I finally realised a modern wagga as I have had in mind all that time. And because it is done completely from recycled materials - even the embroidery thread was from an unravelled cotton sweater. Yes, there is also the one that I started for my own baby boy, who at one and a half is hardly a baby any more. And yes, I'm still working on it, stitch by stitch.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

knitter's prize

Blocking lace truly is the knitter's prize for all of that hard work. I needed a lift today so I did a quick steam and stretch block of the Tibetan Clouds (un)Beaded Stole. Aaaaah.

I also bought myself a book - Loop-d-loop Lace: more than 30 novel lace designs for knitters. More on that next time.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

from here to infinity

One of the pitfalls I find of the knitting life is that sometimes you want to make something just for the experience of making it. The construction fascinates you, the look of something intrigues you, whatever it is - a certain design is something that you want to have made.

Sometimes you go ahead and make it. Sometimes, you don't realise this was why you were making it until you've very almost finished ...

The Vital Statistics
Infinity Wrap by Kristin Omdahl.
Plymouth Yarn Boku in colourway 5; 12.2 skeins.
This wrap is HUGE. Being tall, I thought that I may be able to carry it but at 56 x 224cm (22" x 88") it really is too big.
Stash/recycle content:
Start to Finish: 1 December 2010 to 2 May 2011.

Comments: This is an intriguingly constructed pattern: five separately completed motifs which are then joined together with a border above and below, then an edging all around. I made a few modifications: as described previously I created a more rectilinear wrap by filling some dips with a crochet version of short rows. For the mesh edging I made the spaces only one chain stitch wide instead of two and I left off the bobbles altogether because by this point I had realised that this wrap was not for me and that it was time to just finish it.

: I can't say that I don't like this stole because the shapes in it and the colours still appeal to me but I certainly don't like it for me.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

april reading

I didn't manage to read an entire book in April. I did, however, get through not only the introduction but also the first two chapters of this fascinating book - The Natural History of the Traditional Quilt by John Forrest and Deborah Blincoe.

From the BookDepository site:

"Traditional quilts serve many purposes over the course of a useful life. Beginning as a beautiful bed covering, a quilt may later function as a ground cover at picnics until years of wear relegate it to someone's ragbag for scrap uses.Observing this life cycle led authors John Forrest and Deborah Blincoe to the idea that quilts, like living things, have a natural history that can be studied scientifically. They explore that natural history through an examination of the taxonomy, morphology, behavior, and ecology of quilts in their native environment--the homes of humans who make, use, keep, and bestow them.The taxonomy proposed by Forrest and Blincoe is rooted in the mechanics of replicating quilts so that it can be used to understand evolutionary and genetic relationships between quilt types. The morphology section anatomizes normal and abnormal physical features of quilts, while the section on conception and birth in the life cycle discusses how the underlying processes of replication intersect with environmental factors to produce tangible objects.This methodology is applicable to many kinds of crafts and will be of wide interest to students of folklore, anthropology, and art history. Case studies of traditional quilts and their makers in the Catskills and Appalachia add a warm, human dimension to the book."

The book is fascinating not only because it is about quilts but the application of such a methodology to a needlework/textile product is great. I was particularly struck by an observation at the end of Chapter One: "Seam lines are also junctures at which variation (intentional or unintentional) can occur, and as such are instrumental in the analysis of creativity, reinterpretation, and irregularity in quilt design." (page 48) I really like the idea that it is at the junctures, even the decision-making junctures, that unintentional variation can occur and something new can be created; I love that potential.

I highly recommend this book and hope to report that I have finished it in May's reading report.