Saturday, December 31, 2005

Holy Friggin Heatwave Batman!

The temperature hit 42 degrees Celsius in the shade yesterday and the same is predicted for today. That translates to 108 degrees Fahrenheit for Americans who have yet to be dragged into the metric age. Or friggin hot in anyone's language.

So I am not expecting to finish the multi-directional scarf this year. I plan to spend the last day of 2005 in front of the fan eating icy poles and sleeping.

The scarf now measures about 185 cm - I'm planning on making it about 240 cm (or 8 feet in Americanese). Life's too short to wear skimpy scarves.

Happy 2006 everyone.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

It's 35 degrees celcius outside

And my husband complains that when I knit in the middle of summer I make him feel hot.

Go figure.

So that's why I have not yet finished the multi-directional scarf.

Of course it has nothing to do with me knitting another section in completely the wrong direction and having to rip it out.

Or going fruit picking determined to eat my money's worth of the $5 entry fee to the cherry orchard and paying the inevitable price.

It's really annoying. Even though I still feel mentally 14, my body keeps on insisting on reminding me that it is over 30 and unable to digest 3 kilograms of cherries eaten over a one hour period, the same way that is could 20 years ago.

And I bought another 1980s Australiana knittern pattern book from Ebay over Christmas. Photos coming soon.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Well that will serve me right for getting smug

Did I actually claim the multi-directional scarf was easy for mindless knitting in front of the TV?

God is obviously out to punish me for such smugness as I have absolutely zilch knitting achievement to report today. It was bad enough dropping a stitch and having to rip back an entire section to pick it up again. But then I managed to re-knit that section in completely the wrong direction, so my scarf had a bend in it. So I've had to rip it back again.

Serves me right for focusing so much on Christopher Reeve while watching Superman on DVD. Now that is a classic film. When men were men, films had plots and actresses looked like real women.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Multi-directional scarf

This is one of those patterns which gives an impressive result with surprisingly little effort. I used to be really intimidated by phrases like "short rows" thinking this was something only advanced knitters did. But at the end of the day this is a pretty simple garter-stitch scarf that one can work on pretty mindlessly while watching TV.

I am knitting it out of the ubiquitous Noro Kureyon colour 134 which is perfect for this pattern - it would be pretty pointless knitting this out of a solid colour.

I think I'm finally getting over my Noro addiction - don't get me wrong, I still love the yarn and think it is perfect for hats and scarves but I found myself thinking I might use a thinner yarn for my next jumper.

For anyone who wants the pattern, click here.

Friday, December 23, 2005

2 more hats

If my new job doesn't work out, maybe I will set up a market stall selling hats. I finished these two over the past couple of days.

The purple hat on the left is made out of an alpaca/wool/acrylic blend and is for my mother-in-law. I haven't decided if I like or loath this yarn. It feels soft and lovely but is a bit too soft to hold a garment's shape. Also, like most alpaca yarn, it sheds. So it looks and feels gorgeous at the moment but I have no faith this hat will still look good in a year's time.

The brown hat on the right is a brimless ribbed beanie made out of the "left-over" handspun possum fur/merino wool yarn that I bought to make a hat for my husband's birthday. So now we can do the boring couple thing of going out in (almost) matching hats. It's making me feel a bit better about the amount of money I spent on this yarn -- I would never have believed I could have got 2 hats out of a 110 gram skein.

Monday, December 19, 2005

It's a strange thing but possums are a protected species in Australia but an environmental threat in New Zealand which has a budding industry in producing soft, lightweight and extra-warm possum fur yarn.

The hat above was made of a handspun 50:50 possum fur/merino wool blend yarn bought from a New Zealand fibre artist on eBay.

I made the above hat as a belated birthday present for my husband, just in time for the Australian summer. The weather is predicted to hit 32 degrees Celsius (about 90 degrees Fahrenheit) tomorrow.

I still have a fair bit of yarn left so I may end up making a matching hat for myself.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Japanese South American Larger Lady Australian vest

OK, they are not the best photos but at least they are evidence that shock horror I have managed to finish something (although it could probably do with a second block on the crochet edging).

My husband is calling this my South American vest although it is made with Japanese Noro Kureyon yarn (colour 134). But it is edged with Peruvian alpaca.

I made so many adaptions to the side-to-side knit pattern (as I decided to knit it in stocking-stitch rather than garter and to adapt it to my rather large frame) that it is a bit pointless to put a link to the original pattern.

But one thing worth noting is that it doesn't take up as much yarn as you may think - I used 4 50 gram skeins of Noro and about 1/2 of a 50 gram ball of alpaca - those who take a small size may only require 3 skeins of Noro. So it may be something to consider as an alternative to the ubiquitous scarf/hat set (not that there is anything wrong with that!)

Friday, December 16, 2005

How did I survive without these?

NeedleLite Lighted Knitting Needles. Proof positive that you can buy anything on Ebay.

Perfect for knitting fun fur (as illustrated).

Only US$39.95 plus postage.

I am sure the supplier won't mind me quoting her advertisement as I have a link to the product should any reader be tempted.

NeedleLite, be the first to enjoy this new innovation in the knitting industry!

These needles are great for knitting in low-light or dark conditions. You'll never drop another stitch because of poor lighting. The gentle glow of the needles illuminates your work without disturbing others. Light-weight and easy to use. Soothing plastic needles are more comfortable than metallic needles.

LED bulb lasts 50,000 hours. Long-life batteries are installed and ready to use. Typical battery life is 48 hours of continuous use. Easy instructions for battery replacement are included.

This product makes a great gift for any knitting afficionado.

Seller accepts PayPal only.

Buyer pays $5.75 for US Postal Service Priority Mail shipping.

We have a NO RETURN policy.

(Jeez, wonder why?)

Tempting as it sounds, I think I might restrain myself. Although after all the hype, I might consider a set of Addi Turbos.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Blocking the vest

Much to my own surprise I seem to have overcome some of the procrastination that has been weighing me down the past few weeks, and have finished the basic knitting for the vest. Above is a picture of part of the vest being blocked (I couldn't get the right angle to take a photo of it fully stretched out). It only took 4 skeins of Noro Kureyan (colour 134).

The original pattern calls for it to be edged in i-cord and I have some very nice pinky purple yarn that goes well with the Noro. I've started making the i-cord on a kid's French Knitting Bee (like the old Knitting Nancy) but I don't think it will look quite right. I'm now thinking of a simple single-crochet edging instead.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

So that's what a wool-winder is for...

Have you ever looked at those old-fashioned pictures of one person holding a skein of yarn and another winding a ball of wool and wondered "why?"

Or looked at those strange mechanical wool-winding apparatus for sale on EBay and wondered "who would buy this?"

Well I have now discovered the answers to these questions. I purchased the above skein of yarn, a glorious blend of merino wool and New Zealand possum fur (don't scream; in New Zealand possums are pests destroying the native flora and fauna, and have to be culled, so it is good to know their lovely coats are being put to a positive use rather than just rotting in the ground) off eBay. It came in one very long skein that simply had to be wound into a ball so I could use it.

"Shouldn't be too hard," I thought (first mistake) as I slipped the skein around my neck (second mistake) and began to wind a ball.

At first it was easy. Then the yarn began to tangle. I tugged it (third mistake) and nearly strangled myself.

I could just see the news headlines. "Woman strangled to death by own knitting. Trans-Tasman Trade Dispute. Australia blames New Zealand for exporting dangerous goods. New Zealand claims it cannot be responsible for Australian stupidity."

I took the yarn off my neck and tried to work the tangles free. But it was too late. The damage had been done. And a 15 minute job stretched to 3 hours last night as I painstakingly worked the yarn through every twist and tangle, determined not to cut it.

By 10pm I had a beautiful ball of yarn. And was too tired to start knitting.

But tomorrow is a brand new day. The yarn is destined to be a hat for my husband; a belated birthday present (yes, for the middle of Australia's summer).

It's too late to start knitting tonight. I've spent the whole evening looking at wool winders on EBay.

Update 14/12/05

And as can be seen here, I actually started getting some knitting done today. This photo does not do this yarn justice; it's far less 'yellow' in real life.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Why yes, I am still alive

And I even knitted a few more rows on the Noro vest.

Monday, December 05, 2005

When I was 14 I wanted this dress

Now I wish I had the figure to wear it. I'm a patriotic dag!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Back to my own knitting

Yes I am still knitting myself. When I'm not ripping it back out.

I know it looks like a totally warped scarf that is wandering off in all directions but my current project is a side-to-side vest knitted in Noro Yarn. Yes, I too hope it looks a lot better when it is blocked and edged and finished. I'm probably almost half-way through the knitting.

I really don't know how it will all work out in the end as the original pattern was all garter-stitch but I thought that looked a bit home-made and amateur, so I'm adapting the pattern to a stocking stitch. And crossing my fingers and praying. And re-starting the project four times.

But hey, it's Noro wool. It looks and feels great. Whatever the pattern.

Patronisation of a Nation

I am proud to state that I never once considered knitting this monstrosity. Perky animals, birds and flags are one thing but this crosses the boundaries of any semblance of good taste. Whatever decade we are talking about.

The Aborigine is naked but devoid of facial features. I think he is supposed to be holding a spear but it looks like he's trying to roast a marshmallow over the tiniest wimpiest most American-cartoon-style fire imaginable.

And his boomerangs have shrunk into a silly trim on the sleeves and base of the jumper.

And this jumper is being modeled by an over-groomed Caucasian who has spent way too much time under the hair-dryer. WTF???

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Queenslander Fair

Today's picture is another Liz Gemmell original, this time taken from Aussie Fair: Simple Fair Isle Knitting With Australian Motifs.

Liz has designed a garment in honour of each state. This cardigan is for Queensland - hence the pineapple and palm tree motifs.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Aussie Mates Knitting Bag

As you can see from my current knitting bag, I've never really got over from the 1980s. While it may look vintage 1980s kitsch, I actually bought it only a few weeks ago from a souvenir store in Swanston Street, Melbourne. It was supposed to be a present for my American sister-in-law but my husband seemed to think it was too childish for her. So I happily kept it for myself.

The knitting above is my current project - a 1980s-style vest in Noro yarn. It's knitted from side-to-side, so the stripes are vertical rather than horizontal. A lot of my recent knitting and frogging has been due to me trying to alter the pattern from garter-stitch to stocking-stitch. I think I have it right now. (Famous last words.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Remember when Australia won the America's Cup?

And we all stayed up until 4am to watch a bloody yacht race?

And the well-inebriated prime minister, Bob Hawke, appeared on TV and uttered the immortal line: "I tell you what, any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum."

(No, I can't imagine Howard saying that today either.)

It was 1983 and the queen of 1980's Australian knitwear design, Liz Gemmell, had to mark the occasion in her own way. In her own words:

"Knitted in Australia's colours of green and gold, this jumper brings to mind the unforgettable victory of Australia II in the America's Cup. The yoke takes its inspiration from the spinnaker of the famous yacht and is worked in picture knitting. AUSTRALIA is worked in Fair Isle method."

It's times like this that I am just so proud to be an Australian!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Little Aussie

This gem comes from The Australian Knitting Collection which is described as "an exclusive designer collection of 'Austrliana' knitting patterns. Specially produced by Softly" (a brand of wool washing detergent).

Just in case you couldn't tell by the hair, the book was published in 1984. I'm not sure if it was ever sold or if it was a freebie in return for buying x bottles of Softly. It's certainly quite a substantial booklet and features works by Australian designers of the day -- Jenny Kee, Lucia Russon and Lynette Murphy. I picked it up for $2.25 plus postage on eBay and consider it one of my best value purchases.

While there are far more kitsch patterns in the book, I love to imagine what the model - who is probably now about 30 - thinks when he looks back at this blow-dried hair photo of himself.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Proud Aussie Knitter

I haven't got much knitting news to report today (I think I'm frogging faster than I'm knitting lately), so I've decided to start a new series to showcase my collection of Australiana knitting patterns that I've gradually built up through purchases on Ebay.

One has to love the combination of 1980s style and patriotism.

Today I am featuring the cover photo from Paton's 'Proudly Australian'. I bought this pattern with the intention of one day knitting this jumper for my American inlaws.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Back to the old Husky

In many ways it was good I had the distraction of the Noro yarn and feather and fan scarf. Because Husky reached a disaster point and I needed a break.

After 3 attempts, I finally got one of the sleaves the right shape and length. I then slipped one the jumper to try it on, only to find that it was way too tight under the arm. Arghh!!!

I knew what I had to do, but I could barely manage it. I had to frog my perfect sleave, unpick the perfectly sewn shoulders and unravell a few rows of both the front and back. I then had to reknit the front and back so each was about four rows longer than previously, thus increasing the length of the armhole.

I finally faced the task last night. I am now almost back to where I was a month ago. Two steps forward, one step back; treading water in the knitting world.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Disclaimer - stolen button

See that new "Fun Fur is Muppet Murder" button? I saw it on another knitting blog, almost wet myself laughing, and downloaded it to my PC. My aim was to write to the blog-owner and ask if I could also use it as it was so funny.

Well for some reason I had to leave my computer immediately after I downloaded it and I forgot whose blog I stole it from. It wasn't one of the blogs I regularly read and I can't seem to stumble into it again.

So 1/ I am not claiming responsibility for the sheer brilliance of that button; and
2/ If you are the creator, please let me know. I hope you let me continue to use your artwork and I will give you full credit.

I decided to put the button on my site despite not being able to confirm permission from the copyright owner as I believe anyone with that sentiment would want it shared.

If you are the original creator and I am wrong, please let me know.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Feather and Fan Scarf Complete!

The film on Thursday night, a Japanese anime called Vampire Hunter D Bloodlust, required far too much watching to allow much knitting. Normally I don't like these amimes - the Japanese tend to channel all their repressed emotions into the most disgustingly violent and sexually perverse cartoons. But this one, although it had a bit of violence and sexual undertones, was actually quite good.

I was able to get a little knitting done in the Friday meeting; in between working the Power Point presentation and an answering a few questions about the implications of new tax legislation.
But in the end, most of the knitting was done while watching - or listening to - a DVD of the third Harry Potter film.

The scarf's final length is 94 inches (235 cm). I don't know how most people block scarves (I never have in the past) but I spread out a heap of towels on the floor of the living room and pinned it in place. It seemed to work.

I'm modeling the scarf with a ribbed hat made out of the same yarn (Noro colour 153). I'm quite pleased with how it turned out in the end. Just in time for the Australian summer!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

At least something constructive was achieved in the meeting

Feather and Fan: currently 65 inches (162cm) in length; about 1/2 ball of Noro to go.

One thing I've always liked about telephone conference meetings is that I can sit and knit and know that something constructive is being achieved, no matter what crud is coming down the line.

I think some of my colleagues doubted my ability to knit and talk at the same time. Until I demonstrated this recently during a two-day face-to-face meeting.

The added bonus is that I got a lot of my scarf done in the process. If there is a decent show on TV, I might even finish it tonight. But then the question is what I will do in tomorrow afternoon's meeting.

Maybe start on another hat?

I think I have to attend way too many meetings.

Other people doodle or send text messages or sleep with their eyes open. I knit. But somehow this is regarded as less professional. At least by people who don't know you very well. Fortunately I now mainly hang around people who know me well and are willing to put up with my idiosyncrasies.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Half-way there: Feather and Fan

As of tonight, the Feather and Fan scarf is 92cm or 36 inches in length. So I'm about half-way done. I hate short scarfs; they always seem too cheap and wimpy unless I can wrap them around my neck with a decent length hanging down.

The other good thing about Feather and Fan is that it is fulfilling my desire to make a chunky 1970s-style crochet scarf. Because while this may be knitting, the lacework on a 10-ply yarn is extremely chunky. And the Noro yarn has such groovy psychadelic colours.

I haven't knitted as much as I would have liked because of the humid weather. Even if I can cope with knitting wool, my husband or work colleagues yell at me for making them hot by knitting in front of them. What the ???? So it becomes a secret hidden pastime, much like reading a really good novel in the bathroom.

Speaking of which, I'm reading Ursula le Guin's Changing Planes. She clearly came up with the concept while waiting at the airport for a delayed flight, wishing she could just close her eyes and visit another world. So that's what she does in this book. Well actually she visits lots of different worlds or planes of existance. It doesn't have the depth of many of her other novels and short stories but she demonstrates her incredible imagination in conjuring up new worlds. One gets the impression that she is "trying out" various new worlds that may or may not be expanded on in a later book.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Feather and Fan

I haven't blogged for the last couple of days because I haven't been knitting much the last couple of days. In a typical Melbourne way the weather jumped from a cool just getting over winter temperature to a full burst of summer, totally bypassing spring in the process.

But we've had a cool change and I can get back to knitting without my husband complaining about the sight of me knitting making him hot.

(Melbourne jokes: If you don't like the weather, wait an hour. It will change. Suitable clothing for a typical Melbourne day: shorts, t-shirt, thick jumper, raincoat, gum boots.)

I had this urge to try out the feather and fan scarf pattern using my Noro yarn. I thought 58 stitches would produce a way too wide scarf (it was designed for a much thinner yarn), so I am doing it over 38 stiches - ie: 2 pattern repeats with an extra knit stitch at each end.

I really liked the psychadelic 1960s effect of the pattern and Noro colours.

And I am relieved that the girls over at You Knit What deem that Feather and Fan is acceptable for accessories. The worrying thing is I am contemplating a jumper in this pattern.

Monday, October 31, 2005

And just in time for the Australian summer...

Yes, another woollen hat. Like I really one.

It's not the best photo; it doesn't show just how rich the green and dark purples are. But it is really cosy and warm which is just perfect (not) for our current weather (they are predicting 32 degrees celcius in Melbourne on Wednesday which is about 90 in American measurements).

I wonder if there is a Noro Anonymous group with a 12-step plan.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Yarn sale on Ebay

For acrylic yarn this is actually very nice and soft which is probably the reason I was tempted to buy it in the first place. But like all acrylic yarn I buy on impulse on sale at Spotlight, it was a mistake and it has been taking up valuable stash room ever since. So when Ebay offered free gallery listing this weekend, I figured I'd bite the bullet and list it for sale at half the price I paid for it. Given that the postage alone is going to cost $8.50 I don't know if anyone will buy it. But if they don't I'll really bite the bullet and donate it to my local op shop.

I knitted a toddler jumper out of it and it came up well except I somehow stuffed-up sewing the sleaves (I was so busy trying to match stripes, I somehow missed the fact I had completely misaligned the sleaves.) So I had to undo the sewing and acrylic, even quality acrylic like this, is not as forgiving of mistakes as wool.

I am such a yarn snob. If it isn't 100 percent natural (or pretty close to it) I find I just can't get into knitting it.

And now a pic!

Now that I've got the camera back...

While it looks like a rectangular bag, it is actually the Noro rib hat, probably about 2/3's complete. Most of the knitting has been done during Superman 1 & 2 (my husband bought the box set this week) so hopefully I will finish it tonight during Superman 3.

I'd forgotten what good films they were. Not only do they have dialogue and plot but they have actors that look like real people.

Another WIP

So have I finished off Husky yet? Have I blocked and finally finished off the lace cardigan? How about the Mohair wrap?

Of course not. I've been busy playing with my new Noro wool.

I thought I'd be adventurous and do a slightly more complicated lace scarf. But about 10 rows in it struck me that thick Noro yarn hardly showed off the lace pattern to its best effect and the lace design didn't show off the beauty of the Noro wool to its best either.

So I frogged the start of the scarf and started knitting up a ribbed hat. I'm about halfway done. No photos yet because the digital camera batteries finally died and my husband had a conniption when I went to change them. You see I might break the camera doing such technical things...

Mind you I am the one who has worked out how to use the internet to set up a blog for free while he is still building a server. Which I am sure will eventually be used for a far more technically superior website at some future time. Being an impatient woman I just wanted to get going with something that was "good enough" for the intervening period. I'll let you know when he finally gets his site up. And we can see how far back my archives go...


Have you noticed how men and women use technology so differently? There is this whole blog world out there of women who have worked out how to set up a basic blog, and then they form communities with other women bloggers and support each other when they have problems (technical and personal) and before you know it there is an international knit-along to help someone through their divorce/miscarriage/whatever.

Men meanwhile use their blogs to show off their technical prowess or to link to porn sites or discuss female anatomy in minute detail (I stumbled onto a whole blog devoted to the 'camel toe' - where women wear way too tight pants that shows the outline of their genitals - I'm not making this up!)

Anyway, back to knitting. I've decided I'm going to do a matching ribbed scarf. Easy and it will look good. I'll probably go for a thicker rib; maybe 3 or 4 stitches.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Blogaholic

My name is Maggie B and I've become a Blogahaloic.

I used to come home from work, download my emails, glance at the news and then settle down with my knitting in front of TV.

I now come home from work, download my emails and start reading my favourite blogs. Often the blogs contain links to other blogs. Some of these other blogs are added to my favourites. Four hours later my husband asks me if I'm coming to bed or staying on the computer all night.

At least it keeps me away from the expense of browsing Ebay.


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

So much for my good intentions of finishing off some of my Works in Progress. Look what arrived in the post today.

There is soemthing seriously wrong when it is cheaper to buy yarn made in Japan from Scotland, even taking into account postage costs. This would have cost AUD$72-$75 in Australia but I paid well under $50 including postage when I bought it from EBay. OK that was a particularly good price even for EBay, but even so, it is generally cheaper and there is a far better colour range on the EBay site than anything we can get here. Of course you have to beware of scammers but it's quite safe to get something via the big sellers.

This specific bag of yarn travelled from Japan (Asia), all the way to Scotland (Northern Europe) before flying to Australia, possibly flying over Japan again in the process. Fortunately it does not look at all travelworn.

For people who are into the details, this is Noro Kureyon colour 153. And I think a hat and scarf are definitely in order.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Husky update

As you can see the body is fully finished and I'm working on my first sleave. It's actually my second go at the sleave - the first attempt produced a far too tight sleave for an oversized comfy jumper.

Being a total knitaholic and blogaholic I have joined the Dusting Off Those Works In Progress blog where we own up to all our half-started projects and yarn stashes and try and work our way through the pieces.

Many of the other members are working on far more advanced projects but I'm trying not to be intimidated.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Knitters for Workers' Rights

Unfortunately I can't report too much more progress on the Husky jumper. I picked up the stitches on one armhole and am about six inches down the sleave. I found it worked best if I used double-pointed needles to pick up the stiches and knit the first few rounds, then I changed to a small (40cm) circular needle. The knitting is much faster on the cicular needle than the dpns but I find I have to literally pick up the body of the jumper and rotate it each round, so it's a little awkward. Still I'm getting there.

I also lashed out and bought five skeins of Noro Kureyon (colour 153) on Ebay from England. So much for burning through my stash! But the Husky jumper is well underway and I had also sold the Cleckheaton Belle that had been staring reproachfully at me in my stash. Besides even with postage the yarn was at least 33 percent cheaper than buying it locally in Australia. Look at all the money I saved!

Fortunately this was also the week my husband decided to buy a new laptop (which admittedly was a great bargain for him), so he wasn't in a position to criticise my yarn purchasing. Maybe I should take advantage of this and purchase some more - or maybe I should watch my spending so we can afford to pay the mortgage and council rates!

I'm not sure whether I'll attempt to incorporate the Noro yarn into a jumper/cardigan (I have 20 skeins of Jo Sharp yarn also in my stash) or go for the ever reliable hat and scarf combo

Knitting for me is a real escape from the reality of the world which can be quite nasty and depressing at times. In Australia our government is proposing quite draconian counter-terror legislation and Industrial Relations reforms, so I've spent a fair bit of time dealing with union stuff at work and writing on my other blog Inside The Asylum. But I really need a break so my plans for tomorrow include going to the gym (to get my fitness back up) and a good stretch of knitting, listening to the BBC version of Lord of the Rings. I shall escape into Middle Earth with my thick Husky jumper and hopefully emerge warm and relaxed on the other side.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Knitting at the speed of light

The Husky jumper is my TV jumper, the one I mindlessly knit while watching Dancing with the Stars and All Saints. Which may explain why I absent-mindedly sewed an armhole seam to the neckline today. It's hard to concentrate on two things at once.

Once I unpicked that disaster and actually managed to sew the shoulder seams together and slipped it on, I was pleasantly surprised to find the shell of this jumper was not quite as hideous as I feared it may be. In fact I think it may turn out OK, especially once I steam block the front. If that fails, I will fall back on my idea of covering up the dodgey parts with motifs.

Any true knitter will despise the simplicity of the design, the lack of shaping and the fact it is done in nearly all stocking stitch (excluding ribs at the hips, cuffs and neck). And much of the knitting is done in the round which minimises the need to purl. Or sew the wrong seams to each other. Not to mention the lack of planning. But I am reasonably confident that I will not run out of wool and it id deliciously satisfying to work on a garment which knits up so quickly.

I'm an ADD knitter. Deal with it.

Knitty 'surprise'

OK, I really am going to post a picture of Husky soon. I've nearly finished the front. But I got distracted by an email advising me that Knitty had put its "Fall surprises" up on its website.

Surprise is definitely the right word. The felted pumpkins I suppose are suitable given the upcoming Halloween celebrations, although they certainly left it late for anyone who wants to whip one up.

And one can only feel sorry for the poor lady who is knitting herself breast implants following her mastectomy (no I am not lying; check-out the site yourself).

But Yorick, a white felted scarf that looks like a 3-year-old's drawing of a two headed snake? What the ???

I've already sent the link to You Knit What???

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Retro knitting

I just had to frog half the front of my Husky jumper due to a slight mislcalculation as I tried to do the neckline (do'h).

So to distract myself from the disaster I found the following patterns, all available for sale on EBay Australia. At the risk of showing my true daggy nature, I will admit to quite liking the stripes and heart jumpers shown in the first catalogue. I'll pass on the aviator caps and hot pants though.

I feel compelled to point out that all these patterns were put out by Patons.

But before anyone, especially any knitters, start laughing too loudly, I suspect, shrugs, ponchos and capelets from the 2000s (and have I seen some AWFUL examples on other knitting blogs) will be mocked by the next generation.

On the felting disaster news, I put my petals in for another cycle with my gym gear that needed a wash. They are beginning to look a bit more like proper felt but I suspect another cycle is still required.

A felting failure

As any craftsperson with access to either magazines or the internet knows, felting is THE thing to be doing right now. And the ultimate most desirable wool for felting with is the extremely expensive but gorgeous Noro Kureyon.

Now there is no way I would have been brave or foolhardy enough to use Noro Kureyon for my first attempt at felting EXCEPT for the fact that I had a mere half a ball left which couldn't be used for anything except possibly some trim on a beanie. So when I stumbled upon this pattern for making felt poppies, I figured it was worth giving it a go.

I thought I couldn't fail. I was using THE wool; I had chosen a small simple project; I had a lingerie bag and a washing machine full of old towels ready to be blasted with hot and cold water on the fastest cycle.

THREE cycles later, having thoroughly soaked the pieces and vigorously agitated them with alternately hot and cold water, using detergent, the best that can be said is that the pieces are barely semi-felted. They are extremely clean though. Maybe I really was born to clean?? (See two posts back).

I couldn't believe this. I am the person who managed to semi-felt a jumper on its first wash - I had used cold water but obviously put it a little too close to the gas heater to dry. Yet when I tried to felt the proper wool - nothing doing!

The petals are beautifully coloured and an interesting shape so I may incorporate them into the Husky jumper.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Poodle problem

Personally I'm still recovering from the suggestion that I was born to clean (see previous post). I don't think anyone who knows me would agree with this statement.
But I cannot be as traumatised as the poor kid forced to model these garments. Not only are they hideous, she has probably snapped a couple of fingers putting the garment on and off. An obvious contender for You Knit What.
Meanwhile in my own knitting, I have finished the front of the Husky jumper and am now on the back. I think it is going to be pretty shapeless and hideous in its own way - but at least quite warm.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Born to clean???

You are dishcloth cotton.
You are Dishcloth Cotton.You are a very hard worker, most at home when
you're at home. You are thrifty and seemingly
born to clean. You are considered to be a Plain
Jane, but you are too practical to notice.

What kind of yarn are you?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Balancing Work, Family & Knitting Life

Well I'm back at work and trying to walk 10,000 steps a day, so my knitting time has been severely curtailed. But I've done about 40 cm on my Husky pullover which is pretty good. Unfortunately all the joins from the spoilt ball are showing through - I'm contemplating how to cover this. My current plan is to sew on a range of patches/motifs. I'm not really into knitting embroidery but I'm thinking a border of Australiana patches might look quite cool in a totally daggy way (in keeping with the oversized rugged sweater look). We'll see what I feel like in a week's time.

As this is a pretty bulky project, I'm just doing it on the couch in front of the TV and have started a baby cardigan to drag around to work, etc. This is one of my favourite patterns - I've already made 3 of them in various yarns. It's very easy but gives a professional look result and I'm itching to see how it works with the self-patterning sock yarn. Two of my friends are currently pregnant, so I'm sure I will have someone to give it to.

But in my usual ADD manner I may be putting this pattern aside to knit a couple more CPSU beanies. One of my comrades is currently in hospital having brain surgery. She's bought a heap of proper chemo caps but I like the idea of making her a union beanie - particularly as she has left me on the union exec filling in for her while she selfishly has a range of treatments for her brain tumour. Another comrade couple has just given birth to a new sprog (an extremely cute looking boy). Of course I could just hurry up with the baby cardigan for him but I think a CPSU Beanie may be more appropriate given the nature of my relationship with his parents.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Don't you hate it when...

I am so unimpressed with the current ball of Husky I am knitting with. I am only half-way through and there have been at least 8 breaks.

Did I mention that Husky is a Patons yarn?

One they no longer make.

Start of my Husky jumper

Just realised that I hadn't posted a photo of my latest project. It'svery thick, warm wool - 14 ply - which I'm knitting on 6mm needles.

Let's fly away...

Not that I would ever try to compete with that fabulous website "You Knit What???" but the truth is that there are simply too many hideous knitting patterns in the world for one site to cope with. Besides, I've emailed them this pic already.

I'm trying to decide what is more offensive -- the fury wings or the bow.

I picked up the pattern for free at my local Spotlight - obviously no-one would pay for such a hideous pattern - or would they? I saw an extremely elderly woman clutching a copy of this pattern and selecting a blue and green yarn combination.

It's terrible what dementia can do to a person.

Manywhile in my non-hideous knitting world, I've got about 17cm of my 14-ply Husky yarn sweater done. Got to love those fast-knitting yarns. And it is 100 percent wool in a light-grey and definitely not hideous.

In my opinion.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Every cloud has a silver lining

I told you I was crap at working out knitting gauge. I started the Maggie B sized Gabi jumper and fortunately twisted the stitches when I joined them together.

This is normally a very unfortunate thing to do as it means you have to rip out everything and start again from scratch. But I thought it was looking a bit big even for a Maggie B sized jumper, so I slipped the first few twisted rows over my head and discovered that it was literally 50 stitches too big for my hips.

Hopefully I've got it right now as I don't think the Husky will stand up well to another unravel.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Cleckheaton Belle yarn for sale on EBay

I'm listing some of the yarn that I should never have bought and will never use on EBay, hoping to recover some of the cost - or at least reduce my stash.

Baby scrapyarn hat

I couldn't cope with the tiny amount of sockyarn left over but didn't know what I could do with it - 6-ply is not a common ply yarn. There was't even enough yarn to make a baby beanie. But I found a tiny ball of grey yarn that looked like it was thinner than 8-ply and thicker than 4-ply. Hmm. That yarn turned out to be just enough for a baby beanie brim. I then knitted up the sockyarn. There wasn't quite enough to finish the hat so the last couple of rounds are with some scrap 8-ply yarn. It seems to work :)

But for the last couple of days I've been itching to start another (shock-horror) ADULT-sized jumper with some 14-ply Patons Husky I picked up on EBay a few months ago. While I proudly also found a pattern for Husky wool at the local Op Shop, I've actually decided to just knit to my own pattern. I'm bigger than the biggest size listed in the pattern book and I've become quite fond of knitting in the round and avoiding seam sewing. So I'm going to do a Maggie B sized version of my Gabi jumper. This meant (shock-horror) knitting a tension patch (a tension square would have been a bit too much for me). I found I got 16 stiches per 10 cm on 6 mm needles and was able to calculate the number of stitches to cast on to fit around my hips (and NO, I'm not going to admit how many that is). Hopefully I'll have enough yarn to knit a whole jumper - otherwise I'll have to find another yarn for the sleeves or chest.

Another reason why I hate Patons Patterns

I have submitted these photos to You Knit What??? What is really sad is that they all come out of current Pastons knitting books and are not meant to be an ironic joke.

I can't seem to upload a decent picture but this is a link to the ugliest knitting book for 2005 - Metro. Sewing together knitted squares and rectangles is not hip. It's just lazy.

Monday, October 03, 2005

You Knit What???

Just found the funniest knitting site to link to.

Just when you thought you'd found the most hideous pattern on the planet...

Noro Hat Complete :)

Ooh! I am so pleased with how this turned out. Noro yarn is SO yummy. I ended up using about 1 1/2 balls of Kureyon, colour 134. Click here for the pattern (as usual I took someone else's idea and changed it completely to make it my own).

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Mmm... Noro Kureyon

I feel like Homer saying "Mmm... donuts".

No wonder Noro Kureyon is so well-loved. I was afraid it was going to be one of those over-rated experiences but the yarn is simply gorgeous. Quite apart from those RICH colours and the self-striping nature of the yarn, it's really interesting to knit with.

It's certainly no beginner yarn. It is 100 percent wool spun in a way where the yarn goes from tight to loose, which I thought I would hate but actually works quite well. I can see why it would felt beautifully although I'm not planning to do this myself this time.

And did I mention the beautiful rich colours?

That one ball you see cost almost as much as all the yarn for the Gabi jumper. And I'll be using two for this hat. This is truly decadant knitting. I would have trouble justifying buying enough yarn for an adult-sized jumper but there are people who knit cat beds out of this stuff! Click here for proof. Talk about spoilt pussies.

I'm doing a ribbed beanie using 4.5mm needles. I have already altered the pattern as I cannot understand why you would start k4, p2, k2, etc as you would then end up with a really thick ridge of six knit stitches in a row. I've cast on 100 stitches and am simply k2, p2, k2, etc all the way around. And obviously I'm doing the whole lot in Noro.

If it turns out to be a bit big I will semi-felt the hat.

Even when I try and knit a tension square I never seem to get the calculations right, so I'm just following my instincts.

Bite me.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Gabi Jumper Complete

This still needs to be blocked but overall I am quite happy how it turned out - especially since I was not following any pattern! In the end I only have about 1/3 ball of purple and 1/4 ball of the multi-coloured yarn left over which is not enough for a hat for a toddler - although I am sure I will work these remnants into another scrap-yarn project. I'm thinking of using them to decorate the ends of a scarf.

I have the horrible feeling that with the novelty yarn and large stitches this jumper represents the ideal Spotlight project and will be looked down upon by the knitting purists. It certainly no heirloom item to be handed down the generations.

But given the rate kids grow it hopefully will serve its purpose for a season.

Do you like this jumper? A free pattern (for non-commercial use) is available here.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Two stitches forward, one rip back

It took 3 attempts to get the neckband right. But I have suceeded in my aim of knitting the sleave in the round from the armhole down. One more sleave to go.

I think I will have enough purple and multi-coloured yarn to knit a matching hat. The entire project will end up having cost me less than$15 and a few days knitting. While buying an outfit at Target may cost about the same amount, at least I can be sure Gabi will not meet anyone else in the same clothes.

I'm also itching to start on another hat project. Like most knitters I've been drooling over the Japanese Noro yarns but balking at the price. I was able to pick up a couple of balls during the post-winter sales (yay Sunspun) and am contemplating a ribbed hat.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

OK, maybe there is a use for novelty yarns

I'm not a fan of wool blends but I couldn't resist this high quality super-chunky 50:50 lavender yarn that I got on sale at Cleggs. Regularly $4.95, now $1.95/ball. It's been in my stash for quite a few months looking at me reproachfully. Unfortunately there were only 5 balls available which meant only enough for a toddler jumper. And because I think longer jumpers with decent-sized sleaves are the way to go, I really needed to stretch the wool. I went diving through my stash and found a multi-coloured novelty yarn that also called for 6mm needles. Obviously a match made in stashland.

The novelty yarn is obviously for the front of the chest - I haven't yet decided if I will thread it through the eyelet holes as well. I'm contemplating a few bows. Or maybe not.

This has been one super-quick knit - thoroughly recommended for impatient people like moi. In less than two days I have done the back and 3/4 of the front. I did the bottom part "in the round" on 40cm 6mm circular needles. Since learning how to knit in the round I have become a fan of avoiding needless seam-sewing. The real trick will be if I manage to pick up the armhole stitches and knit the sleaves down in the round.

I have never done this before and am not following any pattern. Nothing like knitting on the fly!!!

Aren't I lucky to have a surrogant niece to practice my knitting on! According to Rachel, Gabi has already reached the age where she knows what she likes so I hope this jumper will come up to her standards. It certainly feels very soft and comfy.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Make your own fury bird wings (top right hand photo). Free pattern at your local Spotlight store.

Call me a snob but I think it would be hard to find anything more hidious than the novelty yarns and patterns being promoted by Spotlight this week. What is that woman in the bottom left-hand corner wearing?

I have learnt the hard way that no matter how tempting they look, novelty yarns are a BIG mistake. Pure wool, cotton and mohair are often no more expensive and produce a far nicer and longer-lasting garment. Anything I've made with a novelty yarn inevitably looks tacky and mis-shapen.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Wow! Photos!!!

Firstly, thanks to Sharon and the nice people at the Blogger helpdesk who let me know that some of the Blogger servers have a fault on them. I cleared my cache and cookies and history and got onto a server which is allowing me to upload photos.

The top photo is my second scrapyarn hat, an adult-sized beanie made with a small amount of teal, about 40 grams of Cleckheaton tapestry yarn, about 15 grams of the cream tweed, 20 grams of pale grey, a tiny amount of dark grey and pale blue yarn.

The bottom photo is my "not-so-horrible" roll-brim baby hat. You can't get away from the fact that it has orange and brown in it, but otherwise it is surprisingly non-pukey.

Monday, September 26, 2005

2nd scrap-yarn hat begun

I'm getting very annoyed by my inability to upload phots. I've checked all the help pages and sent an email to the support staff to no-avail. But what can one expect from a free service?

So let's see if I can give you a visual impression using words and possibly colour-coded font.

As the title suggests, I've started a second scrap-yarn hat. the first few rows of the brim are a beautiful rich teal (a bit bluer than this). But not quite as purple as this. Imagine a colour in between.

I'm now using a yarn called Cleckheaton Tapestry which is sort of those variegated colours.

I can't wait until I can upload photos again!!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Hideous Hat project complete!

Still can't upload photos. But the baby hat is complete and not quite so hideous as the ball of wool indicated. However, my husband offered to burn it on the basis that it would make us look bad if I gave it to anyone. Even the most irritating smug-faced parent.

Time to start another project. I really need to catalogue my yan (that will be a very LONG post here). But I'm contemplating another scrap-yarn hat. One feels very virtuos producing something out of nothing. I may enter this hat in Southern Cross Knitting's variegated yarn competition. There has to be a prize for the most creative use of less than one ball of 1970s yarn!

The Horrible Hat

"Oh my God, you are actually making something with that?!?"

Nothing like support from one's husband.

Unfortunately you'll have to take my word that the baby hat is half done as I get an "error on page" message everytime I try to upload a photo of it. Grrr!

My friend Tash reckons I should sew a designer label into it when I've finished and pretend it's some retro-chic item from Carlisle or Brunswick Street. Double-passive-aggress a trendy parent who then feels compelled to make their kid wear the putrid hat because it's "designer".


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Truly Hideous

I cannot bare the truly hideous orange vergiated yarn to remain in my stash. But what can be done with 40 grams of 1970s yarn?

I've started a roll-brim hat for a six-month old baby - I'll probably have to use some more of the salvaged cream-tweed to finish it. But then what can I do with it?

A passive-aggressive gift for a particularly annoying parent? You know one of the really smug ones who think the greatest honour is to offer you the privledge of changing their kid's dirty nappy? Why shouldn't they have a hat to match their backside?

My husband is offering to throw the yarn away for me. He thinks I'm just a mean old woman. I reckon all my kid-free friends know exactly where I am coming from.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Curly soloution

OK, I'm a complete chicken. I couldn't face the verigated orange wool. But what to do with a half-knitted cream tweed beanie still on the needles?

A vague memory stirred inside me and I dived to the very bottom of the "my mum's old wool" pile. There was the back of a child's jumper knitted in the cream-tweed wool, more than 30 years old. I teased open the knot holding the knitting together and started the glorious unravell. I was actually quite surprised at how easily the yarn unwound.

After more than 30 years the unravelled yarm resembled cooked 2-minute noodles but I was able to role up a few small balls. I've started knitting with one of the used balls and although the yarn is very curly, the re-knitted stitches are indistinguishable from those made with the unknitted wool. I may even have enough yarn for a second matching beanie!

Of course I had to get all gung-ho and unravelled a pale blue piece of knitting that looked like it may have been part of a toddler's overalls, and then a bright green pair of baby-pants.

Yay, more yarn! I'm contemplating what to do with it next.