Friday, December 29, 2006

We interupt this summer for some winter knitting

It's been really cold this week in Melbourne and we are really glad we've procrastinated taking in the winter doona for its summer clean because we have needed it. This time last year we were melting in the heat.

What I should have been doing was sewing together all those Noro blanket squares. What I have been doing is a new hat and scarf project (because I only have about 50 of these already!) But it is not all bad: I found the half-finished 14-ply jumper I started about 8-months ago and abandoned after realising it was too short and too wide for me to wear, ripped out the knitting, salvaged what yarn I could. Then I started on a nice simple piece of therapeutic knitting, a four-stitch four-row wide basket weave scarf. Then I realised I had plenty of yarn left over, so I made a matching hat. It's all very daggy or "cute in a retro way" as my husband puts it. It is also very warm. I'm not sure if I will inflict it on a friend or relative or donate it to charity.

Monday, December 25, 2006

You wouldn't believe this if it was in the movies

Australia is famous for some pretty quirky weather including sudden changes that tend to freak out visitors and newcomers. But a film script based on the events of the past few weeks in Victoria would be dismissed as being too unbelievable (although I can see it being promoted as 'A Christmas Miracle'.)

Due to a lack of rain, the bushfire season started early with the first fires in October. By the start of December there were massive bushfires in the alpine areas of Victoria, destroying hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest, burning down buildings, and injuring a number of firefighters, killing one. In the week before Christmas, the fire was threatening several communities and there was the very real possibility that a major ski resort would go up in flames.

Then the miracle happened. It rained, enough to put out some of the fires. The weather remained cool. And on Christmas day it snowed. In the middle of an Australian summer, snow fell on the Victorian alps.

If you don't believe me, visit the story here. They even have a photo of the fire truck covered with snow and Christmas decorations, surrounded by some very relieved firefighters.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

And now the work begins

I've finally finished knitting all 24 Lizard Ridge squares, all the ends are woven in and I've even steam blocked the squares flat. But how I dread sewing it all up!

Speaking of sewing up, it looks like my square for Grandmother Purl's blanket made it into the main item (3rd row from the top, 3rd square from the right) - not everyone was as conscious as me in ensuring they produced a perfect 8 inch square; hence two more blankets made up of "squares slightly smaller than 8 inches" and "squares slightly larger than 8 inches" will be made up.

I also received a certificate from The Beaconsfield Close-Knit Community Working Group thanking me for my contribution to their 925 metre scarf. Look out for the extra-bright lime green section if it comes to a town near you.

I've (obviously) been a bit "off" blogging the last few weeks; my knitting slowed down but did not stop altogether. I've been reading a bit more; conscientiously slogging my way through "The God of Small Things" - I know it is meant to be great literature but I'm finding it slow going. A faster, and for me more enjoyable, read has been Dodie Smith's "I Capture the Castle" (click on the link for a good plot summary). A $5 bargain from my favourite op shop. Written in 1949 but amazingly fresh and compelling. A film version was made in 2003 but I'm sure it could not capture the nuances and energy of the book.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

An extra inch

You learn something new everyday. One of my hats was returned to me this weekend by the owner who found it just that little bit too short to wear comfortably. Could I possibly add an extra inch?
The main problem was that I had knitted the hat from the rim up, so I couldn't just unravel the last row. I wasn't in the mood to unravel the whole hat so I thought I would try picking up stitches from the cast on row and see how things went. Much to my surprise it worked - possibly because it is a rather silly style to start with and a row of tiny holes where the new yarn was joined in fitted in quite OK.
I was able to use up a small amount of rather gorgeous rich purple Cleckheaton Country I had left over, which fitted in well with the Noro. I wasn't able to resist the green and red yarn combination for the final edging - if she hates it, I can easily undo the final few rows and do something else. But there is something about an elf-style hat that just begs for a little green and red trim.
Maybe it is just the time of year and Holiday decorations everywhere.

Monday, October 30, 2006

No knitting allowed for potential jurors

Well my excitement about spending my day around the courts knitting turned out to be a little premature. Despite the official website of the Courts and Tribunals - Victoria stating:
You can bring things with you, such as books, knitting or paperwork, to
occupy yourself while you wait.
(Scroll down to 'Facilities in the pool room')

my knitting was promptly confiscated as I entered the court building.

While I realise this is consistent with the policy of airlines, I was a bit annoyed as I had specially checked before taking my knitting. And it is not just the website; it's in the official handbook for jurors which they gave me after taking away my knitting. Apparently if you are selected as a juror you can bring in the knitting for when you are not actually in the courtroom but I don't know if I want to test this.

Lucky I had brought a book.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Finally a place to legitimately knit!

Knitting needles may be banned from planes but at least they are not considered a dangerous weapon as far as Melbourne's law courts are concerned. I've been summoned for potential jury duty on Monday and "knitting" is listed as one of the acceptable items to bring to occupy oneself while waiting to be called or otherwise. Everyone I've spoken to who has been summoned for jury service has told me it will be the most boring day of my life and to bring a good book to get through the day.

I bought a good book today (Dymocks was having a 20 percent off sale) but unfortunately I've already finished it before even making it to court! Kazuo Ishiguro is probably most famous for "Remains of the Day" (which was made into an excellent film starring Anthony Hopkins). This book, "Never Let Me Go", is completely different - if I didn't know who the author was, I would have confidently bet that it was written by Margaret Atwood; there is the same sort of "feel" and skewed morality of "The Handmaid's Tale" - and it is equally, scarily, devastatingly believable. Written as a memoir, "Never Let Me Go" traces the life of a group of friends growing up in a seemingly loving boarding school to their inescapable fate in the wider world as part of a subclass born and bred only to provide vital organs for others. It is totally enthralling and devastating and "unputdownable".

So, I will bring "The God of Small Things" (which I still haven't been able to get into) to court on Monday and my knitting (probably a pair of socks).

Lizard-ridge progress - 17 squares complete. I will probably be able to finish 20 before I need to buy more wool.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

More blanket squares

The top picture is Lizard Ridge squares 12, 13 & 13 1/2. I'm now using colourway 126 which I bought off eBay. A bit garish for my taste -- there is a lot of orange and yellow -- but it will work in well with the blanket.

We had a sudden burst of summer this week (two days above 30 degrees Celcius) which slowed down the knitting. Looks like my timing (re: when the blanket will be ready) is as good as ever.

Also pictured is the blanket square for Grandma Purl which I will post off this week. The pattern I used created a little row of holes around the outside, so I threaded through some contrast thread to brighten it up. Hopefully she won't mind the Christmas colouring :)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

And a square for Grandmother Purl

Well I've signed up for the Knit a Square for Grandmother Purl blog. The squares are supposed to be 8 inches square and as they are all going to be sewn together, it's pretty important to get the sizing right. I've always had a problem calculating tension and my first attempt started a square that ended up more like 9 inches in width. So although I would have loved to do a square complete with Australian motif, I decided for the sake of my sanity to knit a square on the bias that at least would come out the right size :) And yes, that is my lurid green stash that is being used up - too bright for an individual garment but fine for a patchwork blanket. And perfectly good quality 8-ply yarn too I might add.

Maybe after this one is finished I will try another style. Or maybe I will return to my own selfish Lizard Ridge personal blanket making (currently halfway through the 12th square in the most lurid Noro colourway I have ever seen).

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

My contribution to the Beaconsfield scarf

Well this very unexciting piece of over-loose knitting is my contribution to the scarf remembering the rescue of the Beaconsfield miners. Look out for the over-bright green patch if the scarf makes it to your town! I'm actually very happy to have finally found a use for this recycled yarn that I could not bare to either throw away or use in a garment that I would actually wear. We've been asked to send some thoughts about the Beaconsfield rescue with our knitting. So I'm contributing the lines: "In memory of the Beaconsfield rescue for showing us that miracles can occur even in this day and age and that light can come out of the most tragic circumstances". Corny, I know, but true and I think they will like it.

Monday, October 02, 2006

I'm knitting as fast as I can (part 2)

Pictured are Lizard Ridge squares 8-11. Mostly knitted out of Noro Kureyon Colourway 169 - sea greens and blues. With a few bits and pieces of other Noro leftovers.

The lime-green is the beginning of my contribution to the Beaconsfield scarf knit-a-thon. It's just 30 stitches of 8ply on very large 9mm needles, which creates a net-like fabric. The aim is to create a 925 metre scarf for the Beaconsfield Museum to commemorate the miraculous rescue of 2 miners who were trapped 925 metres below ground after the mine they were working in collapsed (a third miner, Larry Knight, died). Not the most challenging project in the world, but for a worthy cause.

I'm also hoping to make a contribution to the Knit a Square for Grandma Purl project as Crazy Aunt Purl is one of my favourite blogs and I'm pretty confident that the square will end up in a blanket for a worthy older person.

Then OzKnitter starts a My First Toe-Up sock knitathon. OK, I've made one pair but I'm keen to make Daimante from Fall Knitty, which are toe-up socks and will be a challenge for me. And my new supply of sock-yarn from the Netherlands arrived today. It is very sad that not only is there a better range of sock yarn available overseas but it is far cheaper, even taking into account postage.

What can I say? I'm knitting as fast as I can!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

I'm knitting as fast as I can

I'm now up to 7 completed Lizard Squares; the one's pictured being knitted out of colourway 148 (with a small amount of the remaining colourway 139). I still have three balls of colourway 148 but am taking a break knitting the sea blue/green colourway 163.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Trekking socks finished with newly discovered cast-off method.

I have been so enamoured with Lizard Ridge, that I haven't even mentioned that I finished the Trekking toe-up socks some time ago.  No picture yet as I have already worn the socks and they are sitting in my laundry basket awaiting washing.
I've decided that I definitely like the toe-up technique as they make a much neater toe, are easier to fit and somehow even the heels work better.  The downside was working out how to cast-off the top part of the sock without ending up with something too tight to even pull over the foot.  Even casting off with a (much) larger needle didn't seem to help.  I found the solution on the Internet (and will add a link if I ever find it again...) So I'm not claiming this as a personal discovery but do want to share it with any other knitters who are having the problem.
Top-of socks stretchy cast-off
Knit 2 stitches together.  Loosen up the resulting stitch (I found I got the right amount by stretching out the ribs).  Slip the loosened stitch back onto the left needle.  Knit it and the next stitch together.  Loosen up the resulting stitch.  Repeat until one stitch is left and slip the yarn through the final loop. 
The trick is to ensure that the loops are loose enough.
Once I finish Lizard Ridge (or run out of Noro yarn - whichever comes first) I shall return to knitting another pair of socks.  The reality is that although I can buy quality socks much more cheaply in the stores, I genuinely do prefer to wear the ones I've knitted myself.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Noro Kureyon: Knitters' Crack

I've read somewhere that Noro yarn is the knitters' equivalent to heroin or cocaine. Extremely expensive and highly addictive. The four completed lizard ridgesquares previously pictured used up nearly 3 balls of yarn and worked out at about AUD$10 each. They would have been even more expensive if I hadn't bought the yarn on sale. And Lizard Ridge is going to require at least 24 squares. I don't want to even think about that...

My Lizard Ridge will not be as bright as the one pictured as I will be using 3-6 balls of several different colourways instead of 24 different colourways. In Australia it is impossible to buy 24 different colourways locally. While I am scarily aware of how I can order every available colour from Canada, I am determined to knit up all the leftover balls in my stash before buying any moreyarn.

I used up the last of colourway 139 and am now moving onto colourway 148. I finished my fifth lizard ridge square today, sitting in the stairwell of the tram coming home (I told you Noro knitting is addictive). I am envisioning this becoming my 'heirloom' rug. I have a crocheted rug made out of brightly coloured verigated yarn that my mum made in the 1970s (I'm sure she was more sensible than me and used a cheaper albeit completely acceptable yarn) which both I and the cats love.

A job to dye for

According to my now favourite documentary series, wool dying was one of the worst jobs in Tudor England. While the dyers managed to perfect a technique of using a common weed, woad, to colour wool fleece a rich royal blue, they were banished to live outside the main towns because of the truly foul stench of the process.

Royalty, it seemed, loved the product and ordered vast amounts but didn't want to know about the pain involved in producing it. It kind of reminds me of people today wanting the benefits of cheap products but turning a blind eye to the conditions they are made under in China and India. Plus ce change...

Personally I would have far preferred to be a wool dyer in Tudor England than the allegedly more prestigious job of wiping the king's bottom.

Although it might have smelt bad, wool-dying provided almost model OH&S working conditions by Tudor standards. Minimal risk of poisoning or being burnt, reasonable pay and working hours (by Tudor standards) and definitely a lot more interesting and rewarding than many of the jobs of the day. And with the foul stench as a barrier, I suspect one would have been left alone to get on with the job instead of being micro-managed with a boss peering over the shoulder every five minutes!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

I see it but I don't believe it

Hard as it might be to believe, all four of these Lizard Ridge squares were knitted out of the same colourway (and in most cases the same balls) of Noro Kureyon 139. It just demonstrates how unusual and unpredictable the yarn is and how difficult it is to plan how a Noro piece will actually look when complete. Only one ball, for instance, how any of the bright grass-green, while another had an almost excessive amount of hot pink. It's just the way it falls.

It's making me feel less stressed about knitting the blanket out of a variety of colourways as it seems pretty clear that each square will be unique.

The most irritating part of the project to date has been sewing in the ends (as I switch balls of yarn every six rows) but I am making myself do this before I start the next square. Sewing together the squares will be bad enough, but dealing with 16 ends of wool to weave in on each square at the end would be unbearable!

Due to the short-row shaping, the squares hardly lie flat so I will have no choice but to block the pieces before sewing up the blanket.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Lizard ridge: One square down, 23 (or more) to go

All these fabulous colours come from just one ball of of Noro Kureyon (colourway 139); how can one not love a yarn that magically (it seems) creates such wonderful patterns?

It's actually much nicer in real life but I gave up trying to adjust the picture - every time I got one shade right, most of the others were a bit off. The green and pink are right in this photo. But the purple is much richer in real life.

I've started the next square from the same ball of yarn and there are even more colours appearing. The short-row pattern is perfect for my level of knitting skill - interesting enough to stop me getting bored but not so difficult that I get frustrated or spend half my time un-knitting.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

How to insult and drive away customers (method 294)

I decided to keep my Trekking sock as a public transport project - I'll probably finish it in the next day or two - and started last night on the Lizard Ridge afghan in the latest Knitty. I'll probably be able to get two squares done a week, so in three months time I should have my afghan. Provided I don't pike as the weather heats up.

In non-knitting news... if you were a shop assistant and a customer came in and said "I'd like to buy this small black leather handbag" would you respond:

a/ Of course, do you want it wrapped? Or
b/ Do you want me to show you some other bags before you make a final decision? Or
c/ That's a real old lady's bag. What about this fashionable beige nylon purse instead?

The oh-so-fashionable middle-aged bleached hair fake-suntanned shop assistant in Camberwell seemed to think 'c' was the way to secure a sale.

I walked out, leaving my jaw on the floor, and eventually made it to a store in a far less fashionable suburb where the shop assistant politely rang up the sale, charging me 20 percent less than I would have had to pay for the identical bag in Camberwell. Maye she also thought the bag was daggy and had discounted it for a quick sale. But unlike her counterpart in the fashionable suburb, she actually made a sale.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Fancy some medievil felting?

I've been entranced in recent weeks by a documentary series The Worst Jobs in History  which paints a less than romantic picture of life in the distant past.  Watching the show you begin to wonder how anyone made it to adulthood and indeed, why they would want to.  Most jobs appear to be a combination of boring, dangerous and physically taxing - as opposed to the mere mental boredom and emotional torment of a job in a modern-day call centre, for example.
Each episode the host, having described some pretty hideous and dangerous jobs, nominates a 'worst' job for a period.  Last night it was being a fuller in medieval Britain; the person who felted woollen cloth by walking up and down on it in a bucket full of stale urine.
While this does sound pretty disgusting, I think it would be a far more pleasant option than collecting leaches or blood-letting or hauling stones or working in a modern-day call centre.  But maybe that is just me.
In knitting news, I am about six inches of ribbing away from finishing my second Trekking sock.  I went to Sunspun on the weekend to take advantage of their 10 percent off sale and buy some more Noro Kureyon to make the Lizard Ridge afghan (yes, I have been sucked in).  I also wanted to buy some more sock yarn but couldn't justify spending the money - nearly AUD$20/ball, even with the discount (I realise this sounds ridiculous from someone who buys Noro Kureyon).  I'm contemplating an overseas order for the sock yarn but will probably wait until I've knitted a bit further into my stash.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

First toe-up sock complete

Honestly and truly my legs are not as skinny as this sock seems to imply. The rib pattern pulls everything in but it expands to about twice the width when worn. I've even started the second sock, as can be seen on the circular needle. It will be a "fraternal" rather than identical twin as this yarn is made from four strands of yarn, each of which is individually dyed, meaning that the colours will never match completely.

I'm very happy with the sock as it fits very well and was quite easy to knit and there is no messy seam at the toe point.

The new Knitty is up and I am seriously contemplating the Diamante socks as my next sock project. I was quite chuffed to discover that a 'proper' designer had also decided that 12 figure-8 loops was the right number for her toe-up socks.

I also fell in love with Lizard Ridge knitted out of my favourite Noro Kureyon, utilising short-row techniques. But 20+ balls will make it a very expensive project. Maybe I will do version 1, knitting one ball at a time so it won't seem so expensive as I go...

There's also an article on Extreme Knitting - two socks at once, one inside the other. It's a bit too extreme for me at this stage.

One of the girls on the Melbourne SnB list is proposing a new meet for those of us in the eastern suburbs. I hope it comes off as I haven't been able to get to too many of the other meets.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Beginning of toe-up socks

After a few false starts, I've started my first pair of toe-up socks and much to my surprise have ended up making up my own pattern. There are lots of excellent instructions on doing the Figure 8 cast-on on the internet (just google 'figure 8 cast-on' for other websites with instructions) and it creates a beautiful, truly smooth with no seem toe. I didn't find it as difficult as I feared or many people suggested, but one thing didn't make sense. Nearly all the instructions suggested starting with only 6 or 8 stitches on each needle, which made a tiny pointed toe that was completely useless for my Hobbit-wide feet. Or maybe I was using thinner yarn than they were?

Remembering that the sock pattern I had previously knitted and had fitted me had ended with 12 stitches on each needle, I decided to ignore the official patterns, cast caution to the wind and start with 12 stitches. And I was pretty happy with the result.

Once I had increased up to 64 stitches, I thought maybe I should start doing a pattern on the top part of the foot. I decided a simple double-rib that would stretch over the wide top of my foot and could be continued up the calf would be appropriate. I haven't yet got to the heel but one pattern suggests a short-row heel (which I already know how to do) - so I'll do that. So somehow I've ended up with my own pattern for my first pair of toe-up socks. If it works I'll write the pattern up and post it.

De-crapping de-stash

Some time ago I went through my stash of yarn, selling off on eBay all the acrylic and novelty yarn that I didn't enjoy knitting with and would probably never use. This morning I decided I needed to do the same thing with my needles.

I have literally an entire tool case filled with needles, most of which I never use. I have discovered that cheap plastic needles are generally worth less than I paid for them and was distressed to find that in many cases I had multiple pairs of poor-quality needles in the same sizes. I also had lots of odd needles where the pair had been lost months or years ago. It was time to de-crap my needle stash.

Poor quality needles make knitting a chore rather than fun. I have recently bought and been given some good quality needles and they make all the difference.

The needles pictured above represent probably only 10 percent of my collection (I'll probably have to do a few rounds of this). I've decided to give them to my local op shop rather than bother trying to flog them on eBay (which is flooded with cheap needles already). If the op shop can get a few dollars for them from someone who would otherwise spend twice as much for them from a national chain store, I think we have a all round win-win situation.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

How knitting has taught me courage

I'm burning my way through the second Magic Loop Trekking sock and will almost certainly finish it this week. No second sock syndrome for me this time. It's only the fourth pair of socks I've ever completed and the first pair made out of 'proper' 4-ply (fingering-weight) sock yarn (the others have been thicker boot socks made out of 6-ply and 8-ply yarn). And while I'm not yet feeling courageous enough to enter Yarnmonkey's Sock War 2006, I'm contemplating that maybe I should try a different pattern next time, perhaps try and learn a toe-up pattern which seems to be a much more sensible way of ensuring that one knits socks that actually fit (as you can try them on as you go enabling you to make a better judgment call as to whether to add a few extra stitches for width). Then there is the Knitting two socks on one needle technique which I think would be the ultimate way of ensuring one ends up with two equally-sized socks without having a heap of yarn left-over (which I will this time - although it is much better than getting towards the end of the second sock and realising there isn't enough yarn ...) Maybe a few socks into the future I'll contemplate that.

Anyway I know there are other knitters who seem to be able to pick up the teeny tiny thin needles and make a perfect 4-ply sock with no strange holes in the ankle and elaborate patterns and calf-shaping down the leg from the word go but I'm not one of them. My first few attempts with 'proper' sock yarn were failures. So I went a step further back and started my first completed pair of socks with thicker yarn and have worked my way up to a 'real' thin-yarn sock. And now here I am mid-way through my eighth completed sock getting maybe just a little bored and contemplating something new.

It would have been a lot easier to say "it's too hard, I can't do it" and not try again after my first failure but I am really proud of myself for perservering. Because the reality is that a year after my first failed attempts I have definitely succeeded, and if it took me longer than for some other people, so be it. There are more non-knitters than knitters out there and none of the non-knitters are making their own socks (the cynical part of me notes they are saving money by spending less money buying the socks from the store than knitters spend on yarn and needles -- but it's not the same).

I still have 20 balls of Jo Sharp yarn which I will one day turn into a jumper. But I want to do it right. This experience with my socks convinces me that that day may be closer than I think.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Magic Loop convert

I can't believe I spent so many months struggling with DPNs, trying to find the perfect set, comparing brands, importing (and breaking) bamboo needles.

I have discovered Magic Loop and now I am a convert. As fervent and as zealous as only the newly-converted can be.

I cannot believe how fast and simple it is to knit socks with this technique. My fears re: turning the heel turned out to be baseless. If anything, it was easier than on DPNs as all the stitches were on one needle instead of being spread over two. And the stitches didn't slide off the needle as indisciminately as when they were spread over four or five needles. The only vaguely confusing part was when I discovered the sock was, in effect, being knitted inside out. But I managed to turn it the right way around and continued on in my merry way.

Another really good thing about Magic Loop, is that it is really easy to try on the sock as you are knitting, without needling to take the WIP (Work-In-Progress) off the needle, as the stitches can be easily slipped onto the flexible wire.

So I'm a convert and I'm a believer and I even have the second sock already on the needle.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Extreme guilt and a few belated appologies

I just checked my Gmail account for the first time in about 2 months and amongst the 100 or so unread emails discovered a few I really should have replied to quite some time ago.

It may be a bit late, but I've replied to them now.

I'm really sorry about that. I had about 2 months where I wasn't doing much in the way of knitting or blogging but I seem to have got past this bump.

I'm 14cm into the first purple Trekking sock and so far I'm finding the 'Magic Loop' method much faster and more comfortable than the DPNs. And the stitches are not so inclined to slip off the needles.

Friday, August 25, 2006

How high petrol prices are impeding my knitting

Sock in progress: 4ply Trekking yarn, 2.5mm needles

After a couple of months where my knitting mojo had definitely been on the wane (as was probably blatantly obvious to anyone reading this blog), I got the urge to pick up the needles again.

But I soon discovered that knitting is now a one-way sport on work days. While I generally get a seat on the tram and train from home (living right near the start of the tram line and catching a non-express train) and can knit, merely getting onto a tram in evening is now a blood sport. Apparently once petrol price hit over $1.30 a lot of peeople did the maths and decided that public transport was a better option and patronage went up 20 percent. Which would have been a good thing if the number of trams and trains had also gone up 20 percent. But alas, no. In fact I would suggest that every single one of those extra public transport users are trying to get on my tram in the evening.

Have you ever tried to knit standing up on a lurching tram, pressed between a school kid eating chips and a business man making appointments on his mobile? I don't recommend it.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The magic of Magic Loop

'Magic Loop' is one of those knitting techniques I avoided, thinking it was too complex and too hard for me to deal with. Essentially it is a method for knitting a sock on one long circular needle.

But having broken a couple of my DPN bamboo needles trying to knit socks, and with the opportunity to purchase some Addi circulars (the Rolls Royce of knitting needles) at a significant discount, I decided to buy the 2mm and 2.5mm 100cm circulars and try and learn the technique.

I love the internet. With the help of Google, I found the perfect explanation site here. It made no sense until I picked up the needles, cast on a few stitches and followed the instructions deliberately ignoring the fact that I couldn't picture what was supposed to happen in my head.

And it worked. And it was so simple. And I am finding that it is even easier to knit socks than on the DPNs.

I'm just not thinking about what I will need to do when it is time to divide off stitches for the heel.

But I will have confidence. And help with my friend the internet. And one day I may even be ready for knitting two socks at once on one long circular needle.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Beanieaholic

Base: 3/4 ball Jo Sharp Silkrooad Aron
Crown: 1 ball Noro colourway 126
Needles: 5mm circular/DPNs
Knitted: Sunday 20 August
Comments: This falls into the category of knitting as justification for spending the day watching a Star Trek DVDs. And it is quite nice and warm to wear!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Stash yarn hat

This hat was made out of some ends of Noro yarn (mmm!), a small 25 gram warm red 8-ply yarn (the ribbhed brim) and some other odd brown yarn (top of the crown). I'm quite pleased with how it turned out but it is a little too small for me. I think it will make a good non-embarassing donation.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Just read: We need to talk about Kevin

I've discovered a dangerously good op shop within walking distance of work, with a book collection that would rival many mainstream bookstores. Clearly they have one or more regular donors who buys the latest releases from Dymocks or Angus & Robertson, reads the books and instead of stockpiling them (as I do), donates them to charity a year or so down the track.

For a readaholic like me, it is heaven. A lot of the books I have noticed but was either too cheap to buy or couldn't afford to buy a year ago eventually turn up in this store, for less than a quarter of the original price. I don't care if the book is a little dog-eared; the words and story and meaning aren't lost just because someone has cast their eye over them before.

One such book was We need to talk about Kevin. The novel deals with the unthinkable: A mother who takes a more or less instant dislike to her child from the moment he is born, and the child grows up to become a mass murderer, killing seven students and a teacher at his school 3 days before his 16th birthday. The whole way through there is this underlying question of whether Kevin was born evil and his mother instinctively recognised this or if he turned out the way he did, because his mother hated him. The mother in her own words is not a very attractive character but the novel, written in the form of letters to her former husband and Kevin's father, is utterly compelling.

I finished the book in less than 2 days.

The other book I bought was Purple America which I suspect I am going to end up donating back unread. The first chapter is one sentence. A long one, going over several pages. Not quite my thing.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

When in doubt, knit a hat

Well here is something new (not) - I'm knitting a hat out of scrap yarn. I think it might be just daggy enough for a trendy relative's birthday.

Doing lots of reading. Just finished The Time Traveler's Wife which was one of those utterly compelling, can't put down novels. Somehow manages to blend heart-wrenching love story with the best quality science fiction (the sort that is really bizarre when you think about it but when you read it, it is totally believable). Totally recommend.

I bought Anne Tyler's Digging to America as a present for my cousin's birthday and then read it myself (so I bought my cousin another book as a present but also lent her Digging to America as I thought she and my aunt would enjoy reading it). Probably Anne Tyler's best book to date; certainly her funniest. Two families, one hippy American, the other 2nd generation Iranian American, meet at the airport when they pick up their adopted daughters from Korea. Despite their differences, they develop a lifelong friendship. But like all of Anne Tyler's books it's the subtleties which make the book. I also finally got around to reading Tyler's The Amateur Marriage which was compelling but ultimately quite sad.

In the knitting world my favourite site You Knit What has shut up shop (sniffle). In the end it was just too much work and not enough fun for the site owners. They will be sadly missed.

The Melbourne Stitch'n' Bitch group has been discussing ways of sneaking knitting needles onto aeroplanes. Bamboo DPNs disguised as hair ornaments was my favourite suggestion! Unfortunately while both the US and UK have relented on the knitting needle ban, it is still in place for Australian planes. Chopsticks are still OK, so I'll just knit with them next flight.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Spot the dog finished

Despite my enuui I was finally able to finish Michael's Spot the Dog jumper and I am pleased with how it turned out. The orange highlights actually look like a planned design feature, rather than a case of running out of wool.

I'm trying to decide what to do next. I really want to do a decent jumper for myself and am considering this top-down pattern (as a jumper, not a cardigan) as I think it gives me the best chance of making something that fits.

While I haven't been knitting (or blogging) very much, I've been catching up on my reading on the tram and doing Sudoku puzzles to try and keep my mind active.

I've also been talking with my dad and learning a bit about my family history. His parents died before I was born and were always just names to me, but now they are shaping themselves as real people in my mind.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Michael's jumper - all knitting done!

Well all the knitting for Michael's jumper is over and I am now up to my least favourite part - sewing together the parts. I've finally finished all the embroidery of Spot the Dog for the back and now get to do the same for the front. It's amzing what the difference a few rows of black stitching can make.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Back on the blog...

Yeah, I've been away from the blog for a bit. Not a good time to go into blogging meltdown, but it happens.

So what's new? My Your Rights @ Work hat made the front page of Workers Online the week before the rally which was quite amusing. I didn't see any others at the Melbourne rally although there was one woman with what appeared to be a black beanie with multiple bright orange garter ridges.

The Rainbow Connection hat and scarf set sold at the APHEDA dinner for $85, apparently to the secretary of the AEU (teacher's union).

I finally finished the sleeves on Michael's jumper. It turns out that knitting both sleeves at the time was a good idea as I ran out of blue wool. So each sleeve now has an orange stripe which I can pretend was all part of the orginal pattern as they match up. Now I just have to get the embroidery right and sew it all together.

I've been fighting a bit of ennui as is probably quite obvious. I lost my knitting mojo for a bit so I've been reading on the tram instead. Which isn't a completely bad thing. But hopefully I can kickstart myself again. Life is meant to be for living after all.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Two sleaves in progress

Currently knitting: 2 sleaves. At the same time, on the same needles, but using two balls of wool. For baby Michael's dog jumper.

The theory is that at least this way the sleaves will definitely turn out the same length with the same shaping. Because I am not always careful enough using row counters. It requires a level of concentration that I can't always manage when multi-tasking. Which is otherwise known as knitting while watching TV.

I seem to have lost my knitting and blogging mojo over the past couple of weeks. It just seem to takes so long to achieve anything. But I am determined to push over this hurdle. I'm hoping by the time I finish the sleaves, I'll be capable of finishing the embroidery on the front and back of the jumper.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Websites with free knitting patterns

How long is a piece of string? One of my colleagues at work wanted a list of 'all' the websites with free knitting patterns for her mum. As most knitters know, there are literally thousands of such sites; so many that it is amazing that we still manage to go out and purchase patterns. But a computer print-out will never replace the feel of a 'proper' book. So I quickly sent her links to some of my favourites.

MagKnits - quarterly British site which has included my favourite diagonal scarf pattern and a good short-row top for big busted women.

Mostly Knitting - site by Australian knitter Sarah Bradberry. Lots of charts, re-written old patterns, great roll-brim hat and fingerless gloves.

Knitting Pattern Central - as the name suggests, a connection to lots of free patterns (including mine!)

Knitting About - I sometimes find myself going in circles here, but there are some good gems buried amongst the ads.

KnittingHelp - a recent discovery; includes some good basics.

Knitty - it would be sacrilege to leave Knitty out although it is very American-centric. Worth a look just for the obligatory weirdo pattern of the issue.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Your Rights @ Work beanie + free pattern

This beanie is for one of my friends to wear at the upcoming Your Rights @ Work rally. I wanted it to be quite wearable out in public after the rally, hence I decided to just go for a subtle stripe on a basic black beanie.

Pattern requirements:
80 grams black 8-ply wool
small amount of orange 8-ply wool
40cm circular needle - 4mm (or 3.75mm if you are a loose knitter linke me)
set of 4mm (3.75mm) DPNs
Wool needle

(Try not to buy any of the above from Spotlight until they stop offering staff AWAs that leave them worse off than if they were being paid the Award rate. Search your stash and/or support your local wool shop. The orange should be 'safety orange' and can be a bit tricky to find in pure wool - I found the colour in the Naturally New Zealand brand. I thoroughly recommend pure wool over acrylic - much nicer to knit with, warmer to wear and longer lasting. There are machine washable wool yarns available.)

Using black yarn, cast on 120 stitches onto the circular needle. Join, being careful not to twist, and place marker(a scrap of yarn works as well, if not better, than the fancy stitch markers).
K2, P2 rib for four rounds. Break off black yarn.
Using orange yarn, K2, P2 rib for four rounds. Break off orange yarn.
Using black yearn, K2, P2 rib for a further 28 rounds.
Rounds 37-50: Knit.
Round 51: *Knit 2-tog, K13 ** Repeat from * to ** until the end of the round
Round 52 (and all even rounds from this point on): Knit
Round 53: *Knit 2-tog, K12 ** Repeat from * to ** until the end of the round
Round 55: *Knit 2-tog, K11 ** Repeat from * to ** until the end of the round
At this point you'll need to change to the DPNs.
Continue in this fashion until only 8 stitches remain. Cut a tail of about 15 cm, and use the yarn needle to thread the tail through the final 8 stitches. Neatly darn in this and all other ends, remembering that the brim will be turned up when the beanie is worn.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Canberra survival kit

Yes, yes, I know. Nothing posted for ages and then all I do is stick up another photo of yet another Noro hat and scarf set.

And it is not even a diagonal/lace/weird design, but a plain rib. Actually a Prime Rib, but a fairly straightforward scarf by my standards. It's been my 'knitting as therapy' project. I've just been having a fairly 'blah' week and needed something soothing to do.

The yarn is colourway 126, now out of production, purchased off eBay. A bit too orange and green for my taste. But perfect for someone with a different skin-tone. Like one of my colleagues at work who was born in India and is transfering to the Canberra office next month. As any Australian knows, Canberra in winter is hell, with temperatures regularly dropping bellow zero overnight (OK, this may not compete with Michigan or Canada but in Australia we don't have the same set-up for sub-zero climates). We have all been teasing poor Shefali merciously about her future trips to work. So I figured a nice thick woollen hat and scarf set might be an appropriate farewell present.

The hat I did on the tram, a ball of yarn and my needles stuffed in a coat pocket, which turned out to be rather convenient. So I am now starting my 'Your Rights at Work' beanie (black with orange stripe) as a tram project. Once I'm sure I have the pattern right I'll post it here and possibly on the ACTU site if they want it.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

By popular demand...

This is the multi-direction scarf (and hat) that has saved me from Melbourne's cold snap this past two weeks and got all the attention. The scarf pattern is from Magknits (click here for a direct link) and is much easier to knit than it looks. The ribbed hat pattern is my own (click here for the pattern - but I now only cast on 92 stitches and use the 6mm circular needle).

I can't upload any pics of my current knitting as my computer guru (aka my husband) is busy upgrading the system which always seems to entail him taking off programs I use and assuring me that they'll be put back on really, really soon but never soon enough for someone as impatient as me!

I'm now doing the front of the Spot the dog jumper for baby Michael. My knitting as therapy is a very simple prime-rib scarf (in Noro, casting on 24 stitches on 6mm needles) to match another Noro rib hat I finished on the tram last week. This latest set will probably end up being for a friend's birthday. It's crazy; I wouldn't normally spend $50 on a regular birthday present but I don't seem to have a problem giving her a present involving more than $50 worth of wool. Such is the mentality of a true knitaholic!

And in blast from the past news, a YEAR after I designed the CPSU beanie (click here fore a photo), the union decided to run an article about it in their national magazine. Which would have been fine except they wrote the article as though I was still in my old position and workplace - I hope no-one is currently frustrated, trying to track me down!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Back online

One has to love computer hiccups. Without going into long and boring details, I have recovered my email address book but lost all my emails in the process. This has happened a few times which is why I now also use a gmail and yahoo email account to store a lot of my mail in, whatever Outlook, Microsoft, my computer and my computer technician conspire to do.

In knitting news, I finished another Noro hat on my tram journeys too and from work. I found my knitting in public attracted a lot more attention than it usually does. Probably because I was also wearing my diagonal short-rows scarf (it's been very cold here) and beanie. Two knitters I have never met before over the past week have asked me for that scarf pattern. And I got a lot of comments over my knitting. I feel a strange mixture of pride and self-consciousness when people do that.

Today I went to a yarn expo at Coburg Town Hall and managed to leave without buying anything. There was some gorgeous hand-dyed merino wool and mohair, some lovely local handspun and also some good deals on Heirloom and Naturally wool but my stash is approaching scary levels. The only thing I bought was a Nostepinde hand wool-winder (actually the ti tree one in the picture) to make centre-pull balls. I'm sorry to say that my first attempt was not as good as that portrayed by the purported first-timer in the picture.

Anyway, I'll try and post again tomorrow. Good night to all.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

My 2 cents worth in reply to Spotlight's 2 cents offer to staff

I try and keep my knitting and union passions separate as I don't want to put off people who are not into both things. But sometimes there is a cross-over that simply can't be ignored - like Spotlight's decision to employ new staff on AWA's that up the hourly rate by 2 cents an hour (from AU$14.28 to AU$14.30) but remove all shift and overtime penalties for staff working nights and weekends. The relevant union involved , The Shop, Distributive & Allied Employee's Association, estimates that this means that new employees will earn $90 less a week than the current employees able to remain on the award. Read more here.

Call me a cynic but I don't think that $90 per week taken from some of the lowest paid people in Australia is going to translate into cheaper yarn for us knitting addicts. Spotlight has already reduced the amount of quality Australian natural yarn on the shelves and replaced it with pricier and poorer-quality imports (to any American readers, yes we in Australia now finally understand what you were all going on about re: Redheart yarn and totally agree). I suspect that $90 will be going straight into the bottom line of the people who own the store.

And who are Spotlight's staff anyhow? Well, according to their own website, people like you and me:

Are you interested in a job with Spotlight Stores?

Spotlight is constantly in need of new staff. Each Store is responsible for their own recruitment and will employ on an as needs basis. Exisiting customers are some of our best new employees!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Knitters for unions

I am always rather touched when non-knitting friends acknowledge my hobby and give me knitting related presents. The above book is a 'Christmas' present from Tash, my old union organiser. We are still friends even though we are continually trying to entice staff from each other's organisation to change sides. Neither of us has succeeded yet.

Tash may have a tiny little ulterior motive in giving me this book. She is on the board for Apheda and reckons a nice hat, glove and scarf set in Your Rights At Work colours would be perfect for the upcoming fundraising dinner. I'll let you into a secret - I'd make them up for her even without the book.

In other knitting news, one of the Melbourne SnB girls has accused me of being an enabler for letting everyone on the list know Clegg's in Melbourne is flogging off its Patons Lush Mohair for $3.95/ball. Now I am letting everyone on the internet know. This is the same yarn that used to sell for around $12/ball (and even more if you were foolish enough to purchase it from certain over-rated boutique yarn stores). I wasn't deliberately trying to enable. Just encourage everyone else to buy up the excess stock before my stash grew any bigger and my bank account even smaller. As of Tuesday 23 May they still had silver/grey, lilac-purple, autumn tones, lolly pink and pale green left.

I have finished the back of the Spot the dog jumper and am about to move onto the front. I forgot how much fun simple intarsia knitting can be and how quickly baby jumpers knitted up. My current tram project is yet another Noro yarn ribbed hat. I promise I will give this one away as a present. I didn't intend to knit another hat but I chucked a ball of yarn and the 6mm circulars in my coat pocket and it sort of happened.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Back to kiddie knitting

I received a phone call from my friend, Rachel, last week. Apparently Miss Gabi has discovered the Miffy jumper I knitted for her a year ago (bottom pic). It is still two sizes too big but this has not dissuaded Miss Gabi from deciding it's her favourite jumper for the moment. Miffy is being worn with sleeves rolled-up and being dragged all over the place. I am thrilled.

But it got me thinking that I really should get off my butt re: kid no. 2. Poor Michael doesn't even have a hat after Miss Gabi discovered the one I knitted for him, naturally too large, and decided that after a bit of stretching that it is perfect for her's truly. So I unearthed my favourite ABC For Kids Book of Knitted Jumpers and examined the stash and decided to knit up Spot.

The top picture is my work in progress whereas the second pic is from the knitting book. You may notice that I am knitting a black and white Spot, instead of yellow and brown. Michael is too young to notice and Rachel too sleep-deprived to care. Miss Gabi almost certainly will notice and care but hopefully she'll let Michael get on and wear the jumper. Maybe she will think it is Harry who I recall as being a black and white dog. At least the jumper will definitely be too small for her to steal. It will have Spot on both the front and the back as I don't have quite enough blue wool to do a solid back. I thought about doing a completely different picture on the back but decided against it. For the moment. I might change my mind tomorrow.

Jellybean socks finished

Note how different the toes look to the rest of the socks, thanks to the lack of pooling.

I resisted the urge to wear the socks bushwalking today - I want them to last more than one week.

I still have 1 1/2 balls of yarn left over and am thinking of making fingerless gloves - this time alternating the two balls to reduce the pooling.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Instant gratification for the ADD Knitter

The Christmas Morning Massacre socks should be finished by the end of this week - they are my current tram project.  I still haven't perfected the hole-avoidance technique but they will be quite wearable.  I should probably try some other style of sock-making but at least this pattern seems to produce socks that fit comfortably.
Over the last few days I made another hat for my husband -- but might steal it back for my own wear.  It's made of Jo Sharp Ultra - 85 percent wool, 10 percent silk and 5 percent cashmere - the most gloriously thick and luxurious yarn.  Colour 'clinker' which translates to dark navy blue with maybe a faint touch of green in it.  The label recommended 7mm needles, but I always go down a size or two; on my 6mm hat-making circular it was a bit of a firm knit but not ridiculously so.  I bought the yarn when I went to check out the famous Wool Baa which is a dangerous short tram ride from my work.  It's very similar to Sunspun in terms of types and quality of yarns and accessories.
I dream of making a jumper out of Jo Sharp Ultra Clinker but estimate it would be require about 25 balls (I'm a big girl and I like long jumpers) at $7.60 each...
Summer Interweave Knits arrives
After all the shenanigans of trying to get my Spring IK mag, the summer one came without any dramas quite unexpectedly last night.  There is a ribbed maternity jumper which has inspired me as to what I want to do with the as-yet untouched 20 balls of Jo Sharp DK yarn I have sitting at home.  I'll have to check my gauge and adjust for a non-baby belly (of course the pattern calls for a different yarn) but I think this could work.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Super-fast scarf

I made another Prime Rib scarf on 9mm needles; this time using lopi yarn I bought off eBay last year (pure wool, one single thick strand lightly spun; about 12-14-ply). It was a super-fast knit; just two nights in front of the TV. I'm quite pleased with the result - it's nice soft wool and I think a mistake-free item.

It's a gift for my cousin who has just come out of hospital - I wanted to make something nice but not spend a heap of time or money on it. The yarn wasn't overly expensive when I bought it and it's been sitting in my stash for so long that I regard this as a cost-free project. The scarf came out at 8 inches in width and 82 inches in length.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Jelly Bean Socks

As promised, a picture.

I've already nicknamed these, 'The Jelly Bean Socks' for obvious reasons. Although looking at them now, I'm wondering whether 'The Christmas Morning Massacre' may be more accurate.

These socks are a wonderful example of why one should alternate two balls when knitting with variegated yarn. You wouldn't believe that the heels and toes were knitted with the same yarn - as the rows were shorter at these points, the colour was distributed in a completely different manner. The technical term for what happened on the rest of the sock is apparently 'pooling'.

Current Interweave Knits for sale
The Spring 2006 Interweave Knits finally arrived. It has some great patterns but as I flicked through the magazine I knew I was not going to be getting around to actually making up any of the garments. There are 21 patterns including Drop-Stitch Hoodie, Oversized Cable Jacket (by Kathy Zimmerman), One Piece Lace Pullover, Lovely Lace Socks, Trellis Scarf, Mandarin Blouse, Streakers Shrug, Fingerless Mitts and more. So I put it up for sale on e-Bay with a starting price of $8.00 which is less than half what the magazine is going for at Borders. Hopefully it will find a good home with a keen knitter who might actually use it.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Still alive...

And still knitting. Just haven't been posting.

The picture is of a tea cosy, made as a gift for my boss in return for him hunting out some knitting books for me. We don't have a teapot at home, so it is being modeled by the coffee canister. Use your imagination...

After all the effort of trying to learning Prime Rib in the round and having to rip and re-start and rip and re-start, I ended up doing it in a plain 2X2 rib.

The Trekking socks are on hold. I managed to break one of the fine bamboo needles at home (do'h!) I can keep going on four but it is all rather disheartening. I don't think I'm really cut out for this fine work.

Luckily I was able to get distracted by some other rainbow-coloured yarn which I bought from Lynne at Yarnivorous - it's the same yarn that she is making the baby hat out of - and I'm starting a pair of quick-knit socks out of it (the yarn is about six-ply and I'm knitting on 3.25mm and 3mm needles, 52 stitches). Of course I didn't learn from her experience and knit with two balls at once to reduce the pooling. I've finished one sock and it looks quite Christmassy, with a red spiral snaking its way around a green background. I've started the second sock and it is pooling quite differently - I'm getting vertical blogs of colour that have begun to swirl now I've switched to smaller needles (the camera batteries are currently being recharged - photos will be uploaded when camera is operative again). At this stage I don't care. It's freezing in Melbourne and I just want another pair of hand-knit warm woolly socks for myself!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Well the ironing isn't done...

But I have finally finished Gabi's cardigan!!!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Gabi's cardigan bands done!!!

I am very very very excited.  Maybe excessively so.  My longest work on needles project is ALMOST completed and I know I will get it finished this week because I have finally overcome THE hurdle - sewing on those friggin bands on the front of the cardigan.  Now that I knew that they were meant to be so short and I did need to s-t-r-e-t-c-h them as I sewed, it was all so easy.  Thanks Karen! (from SnB Melbourne).
And somehow I managed to pick up the right number of stitches around the neck first time, so the neckband is done as well.  Last night I finished sewing in all the stray ends, and all I need to do now is sew in the sleaves and sew up the sides.  I can't guarantee that will be done tonight due to an ironing marathon being required :(  But it will be done this week.
Gabi's birthday was on Sunday but she is two years old and completely oblivious to the timing of that sort of thing and it's only clothes and I send presents randomly through the year.  I called up on the day, and with everyone being willing to blame Australia Post, I think all will be forgiven when the package turns up a couple of weeks late.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

New look Knitaholic

Fingers crossed that this 'new look' is more readable than the old version. Firstly, thanks to Ozknitter who tried to help me by sending me instructions on how to change my old template's background to white. Unfortunately as Blogger is a very fickle beast (we are talking about a system that capriciously decides to not upload photos for days on end, or not upload new posts on the blog for a few days, even when it tells the author "blog successfully republished"), it decided to interpret a few simple changes to the code as "let's turn half the blog white and half the blog pink and put strange pink and white blotches all over the place" (which I gather is how the blog had been appearing to some people before I started tweaking). I'm not going to slag off Blogger as it is a free system and I've seen almost as bad stuff come off expensive commercial programs, but I was VERY frustrated.

Anyway, I managed to finally upload a brand new white-background-based template which would accept most of my personalised links. I decided to simplify things by taking off most of the fancy buttons which used to be in my side-bar as they took up way too much space. So this is a very minimalist look blog for the moment. I'm not used to it myself yet but I would prefer it first and foremost to be a readable blog. If it's as fickle as the pink one, let me know and I'll reinstate the old template.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Multiple projects on the needles

Firstly, apologies to Karen and anyone else who is having trouble reading this blog. I know nothing about html and am one of these people who is blogging on the fly with pre-defined templates and cutting and pasting and bandaids and prayers and swear words holding it all together. Barely and badly. I gather this template isn't very readable on some systems. I tried today to select a more simple white-background template. But for some reason every time I tried to make the simplest change (such as replacing the 'edit me' link with a real link) the font changed size and the sidebar ended up on the bottom of my blog. And I started growling and pulling my hair in frustration. Which is not very good for me or my hair. So template editing is on hold, at least until the weekend.

My first Trekking sock is going well - 17 cm down the leg - I'll knit to about 20 or 21cm before starting the heels. Due to the delicate nature of the needles, the over-crowding of Melbourne's public transport, my general klutziness and the thugs in private school uniforms (isn't it nice that some of these schools are now accepting thugs from all ethnic backgrounds, not just WASPs, as long as they have the money and a bad attitude? - but I digress), I am leaving this project at home.

I'm a little bit freaked-out because a few days ago I posted a question about avoiding little holes when making short-row heels on the Wiseneedle website and the owner of that site decided to answer the question, complete with pictures, on her own blog, String-or-nothing. OK, I'm sure I'm not the only person in the world with this question but it's scary the impact one can have. Even the formidable Carol of Go Knit in Your Hat has started adding in metric disclaimers in her posts after a few of us Australians made comments about American cultural imperialism in the knitting world.

The girls at Stitch 'n' Bitch last night saw me struggling with about four attempts of starting a Prime Rib Tea cozy - I am pleased to announce that I have finally got it going. I ended up only casting on 50 stitches as it is for a small teapot. It is being made for my boss who in a previous life owned a second-hand bookstore. He's going to locate the old knitting books from the store in return for a tea cosy. If I'm lucky the books will include one of the rare collectables famed in the knitting world. More likely it will be a collection of Patons patterns from the 1980s.

I'm actually very impressed with this pattern. This girl (woman?), Megan Mills, from New Zealand worked out a way of doing Prime Rib in the round. The great EZ would have hated it (as it involves lots of purl stitches) but my dislike of sewing up far exceeds my dislike of doing purl. And it is quite easy once you get going. Hint to anyone else making the tea cosy - it is much easier if you cast the stitches onto a very fat needle (I used a 9mm) and then slip them onto the 4mm needles. No need to learn a fancy Old Norwegian cast-on or other such nonsense.

I also talked to the girls at Stitch 'n' Bitch re: the bands on Gabi's cardigan and learnt they are meant to be as short as they are - I need to s-t-r-e-t-c-h them massively as I sew them on as otherwise they will droop and get baggy. So I will definitely get off my backside and do that this weekend as Miss Gabi is nearly 2, winter has set in and that cardigan needs to be finished.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Living dangerously

I bought myself some bamboo DPNs the other day and they are just heaven to use. The texture is perfect - neither so slippery that the yarn slides off at any opportunity, nor so sticky that knitting is painful.

The only problem is that I live in terror of accidentally snapping and breaking the delicate needles. Especially the 2mm ones which are almost as fine as toothpicks - albeit very long toothpicks.

I'm using the needles to knit up my first pair of 4-ply socks using the gorgeous Trekking yarn. This yarn has to be seen to be believed. It is actually four strands of finely twisted yarn and each strand gradually changes colour, creating an amazing kaleidoscope effect.

I used 3.75mm needles to cast on 64 stitches (as I have failed to learn any of the fancy techniques for doing a loose cast-on), slipped them onto 2.5mm DPNs, knitted 3cm of k2p2 rib, changed to plain stocking stitch and after the sock was 9cm in length changed to the 2mm DPNs. I was quite surprised by the difference 1/2 millimetre makes.

After my abject failure to calculate gauge last socks I decided to live dangerously and just follow the pattern, only substituting needles one size smaller at each point as I seem to be a slightly loose knitter - especially when the needles are so delicate. The ribbing was driving me nuts so I decided to make these a plainer pair of socks - hopefully this will not prove to be a mistake.

This is definitely a home project - there were a few near misses when I was merely a passenger in the car yesterday. I shudder to think what the private school thugs on the train could do to my needles with one careless shove. I'm not comfortable living that dangerously.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Sharing the warmth of wool

It was so cold yesterday that I wore one of my hats all day, even inside the house. It got me thinking about people who aren't as lucky as me and don't have a hat. Or even, in some cases, a house.

A quick whip around the house found no less than 8 hats which were not being used by either my husband or myself, nor had they been listed in my Etsy store. There are at least two worthy projects in Melbourne dedicated to collecting handknitted items for people in need - Knitters for Melbourne's Needy and the KOGO (Knit One Give One) project. Interestingly they were both started by Jewish women who I have me - pensioner Rifka Knox founded Knitters for Melbourne's Needy, while the KOGO project is an offshoot of the Ardoch Youth Foundation which was started by teacher Kathy Hilton when she discovered that one of her students was living in a Brotherhood Bin but still trying to come to school and get an education.

According to the website, Knitters for Melbourne's Needy is not currently accepting any more knitters (I suspect the project has grown beyond the capacity of being able to coordinate so many knitters) but is always in need of more wool. KOGO, however, is only in its second year and as such is keen to get more knitters involved.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Opal socks finished!

Things I am happy with: I finished these relatively quickly (2 weeks); I got the needle size right (3mm), the stripes pretty much match up.

Things that need improvement: I made them too large - 64 stitches is definitely at least 4 too many, I still somehow get a row of holes where the short rows are matched up with the rest of the sock, the three needle bind-off on top of the sock is quite bulky.

The socks are quite warm so I will save them for wearing around the house.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Supplies from the Nethelands

Like I really need any more yarn...

It's called Trekking XXL and is even nicer in real life. I haven't started knitting yet but it feels better-made than the Opal. It's a German brand.

I'm finishing a matching sock to my oversized Opal sock.

Random non-knitting thoughts now on another blog

I'm trying to keep this blog knitting-focussed.  For my ramblings about fashion, plastic people and whatever else pops into my head, go to:

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Mr Happy jumper

I made Mr Happy for my friend's child probably about a year ago and he has just now grown into it, in time for the cold spell. He is such a happy smiling child that I put his name on the front and Mr Happy on the back. He proved to be a rather wriggly model, though...

I really have problems with gauge

I really have problems with gauge and sizing. This sock is a bit big and loose. But at least it is still warm.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Are you a Knitting Geek? (Version 1.1)

Well that didn’t take long. I knew I’d left out some items. To make it easier for those who did the beta version (1.0), all the new sub-categories are at the top so you can stop when it all seems a little too familiar.

This is an unofficial expansion pack of the original
Geek Test, inspired by the final question “I can think of other things that should get me points on this test”.

Simply select the most relevant answer from each sub-heading – if none apply, you score 0 for that section. I haven’t adjusted the numbers required to reach Certified Geek Knitter status as it looks like I may have set the bar a bit high the first time around; you now have an extra 6 categories to score points on.

I hope to continue to build upon this quiz – constructive comments and suggestions welcome.


Knitting for charity
I’ve donated hand-knitted items that didn’t quite work out exactly as I intended to charity (1pt)
I’ve donated one or more quality knitted items to charity (2pt)
I am a regular knitter for charity (3pts)

Sock knitting
I enjoy knitting socks (1pt)
I make at least one pair every two months (2 pts)
I now only wear hand-knitted socks (3pts)

Gift giving (part 1)
I’ve given hand-knitted items as gifts (1pt)
And they aren’t always scarfs (2pts)
I spend more on yarn to knit a gift than I would otherwise spend on the gift (3pts)

Gift giving (part 2)
I enjoy making knitted items as gifts (1pt)
My friends and family know to expect a hand-knitted item as a gift (2pts)
I start planning for Christmas in June (3pts)

Cat companionship
I live with one or more cats (1pt)
I no longer live with a cat due to the unfortunate incident in the yarn stash (2pts)
I have made a kitty pi bed for my cat (3pts)

I’ve participated in a knit-a-long (1pt)
And finished the item (2pts)
I’ve hosted a knit-a-long (3pts)

I blog regularly about my knitting (1pt)
On more than one site (2pts)
I have established and administered a specialised knitting blog site with multiple members (3pts)

I know what at least 3 of the following terms mean in relation to knitting or blogging about knitting: frogging, KAL, LYS, WIP, SP, DH, KIP, SABLE (1pt)
I know what all those terms mean (2pts)
I regularly use those terms in conversation – and haven’t you left out a few? (3pts)

Fun fur
I know fun fur is Muppet murder (1pt)
I deliberately forget that I may have used it is the past (2pts)
I correct people when they describe eyelash or other novelty yarn as fun fur – correct terminology is important (3pts)

International Linguistics
I recognise that yarns and needle sizes are called by different names in different countries (1pt)
I have a conversion chart to guide my way in the knitting world (2pts)
I am an American who understands the metric system (3pts)

Stash building (part 1)
I have yarn for more than one future project in storage (1pt)
I have a dedicated bookcase/cupboard/room for my yarn (2pts)
I have reached SABLE (Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy) point (3pts)

Stash building (part 2)
I recognise that non-knitters may consider I have an excessive amount of yarn (1pt)
I have tried to go on a yarn diet (2pts)
I fell off the wagon (3pts)

Local Yarn Store
I have a favourite local yarn store (1pt)
Where I am signed up to the loyalty program (2pts)
Several different local yarn stores regard me as their best customer (3pts)

Buying online
I have bought yarn online (includes eBay) (1pt)
From another country (2pts)
I have a list of favourite suppliers of yarn located around the globe (3pts)

The Knitting Olympics (part 1)

I took part in the inaugural Knitting Olympics (1pt)
And joined a team (2pts)
And made a specialised button for the team (3pts)

The Knitting Olympics (part 2)
I put a Knitting Olympics medal on my blog site (1pt)
On the permanent sidebar (2 pts)
Even though it is not gold (3pts)

Stitch ‘n’ Bitch (part 1)
I am a member of the local Stitch ‘n’ Bitch (1pt)
I am a member of more than one Stich ‘n’ Bitch group (2pts)
I organise/administer a Stich ‘n’ Bitch group (3 pts)

Stitch ‘n’ Bitch (part 2)
I understand the significance of ‘Free to Stich, Free to Bitch’ (1pt)
I have put a ‘Free to Stich, Free to Bitch’ button on my blog AND/OR purchased ‘Free to Stich, Free to Bitch’ paraphernalia (2pts)
Even though I am not in the United States (3pts)

Knitting in public
I knit in public (1pt)
I knit on public transport (2pts)
Even if I don’t have a seat (3pts)

Yarn snobbery (part 1)
I prefer to knit with natural fibre yarn (1pt)
I prefer to knit with Jo Sharp/Debbie Bliss/Noro/Rowan brand yarn (2pts)
I prefer to knit with my own handspun yarn (3pts)

Yarn snobbery (part 2)
I can’t believe I ever knitted with acrylic/craft yarn (1pt)
I feel sorry for or despise people who knit with acrylic/craft yarn (2pts)
I think acrylic/craft yarn should be banned (3pts)

Needle snobbery
My favourite needles are made out of bamboo (1pt)
I have disposed of the cheap plastic needles that may have once been in my collection (2pts)
I only knit with Addi needles (3pts)

Gender (Bonus section)

(Don’t whinge; the girls get bonus points in the original Geek quiz)
I am male (1 pts)
And heterosexual (2pts)
And my male friends know I knit (3pts)

40+ Certified Knitting Geek. I’m sure you have lots of ideas for additional questions for this quiz. Please leave them in the comments section.
30-39 Aspiring Knitting Geek. You’ll get there soon.
20-29 Knitting Geek in training. Keep reading the knitting blogs.
19 or less Are you actually a knitter?

All content is copyright Margaret Bozik 2006 and may not be reproduced without permission.

We have heel turn

It took me only two goes this time around to do the heel turn properly. I think I'm going to enjoy wearing these socks but I'm not enjoying knitting with this yarn as much as the 100 percent wool. The Opal yarn splits a little when unknitted and re-knitted. It is 75 percent wool and 25 percent nylon which is meant to be more durable than pure wool but we'll see.

My attitude to yarn is very 'grandma'-ish. The more I knit, the more I like pure wool.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Are you a Knitting Geek? (Version 1.0)

The unofficial expansion pack of the original Geek Test, inspired by the final question “I can think of other things that should get me points on this test”.

The world of knitting and blogging about knitting is a wondrous experience for those involved but barely comprehensible to those outside the fold.

Unfortunately as I am a geek with no programming ability, you’ll have to add-up your own points as you go. Simply select the most relevant answer from each sub-heading – if none apply, you score 0 for that section.

I hope to build upon this quiz in the future – constructive comments and suggestions welcome.

If you enjoy this quiz, please refer others to it via an email link.

I like to see the numbers go up on the site-visit counter.

I blog regularly about my knitting (1pt)
On more than one site (2pts)
I have established and administered a specialised knitting blog site with multiple members (3pts)

I know what at least 3 of the following terms mean in relation to knitting or blogging about knitting: frogging, KAL, LYS, WIP, SP, DH, KIP, SABLE (1pt)
I know what all those terms mean (2pts)
I regularly use those terms in conversation – and haven’t you left out a few? (3pts)

Fun fur
I know fun fur is Muppet murder (1pt)
I deliberately forget that I may have used it is the past (2pts)
I correct people when they describe eyelash or other novelty yarn as fun fur – accurate terminology is important (3pts)

International Linguistics
I recognise that yarns and needle sizes are called by different names in different countries (1pt)
I have a conversion chart to guide my way in the knitting world (2pts)
I am an American who understands the metric system (3pts)

Stash building (part 1)
I have yarn for more than one future project in storage (1pt)
I have a dedicated bookcase/cupboard/room for my yarn (2pts)
I have reached SABLE (Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy) point (3pts)

Stash building (part 2)
I recognise that non-knitters may consider I have an excessive amount of yarn (1pt)
I have tried to go on a yarn diet (2pt)
I fell off the wagon (3pts)

Local Yarn Store
I have a favourite local yarn store (1pt)
Where I am signed up to the loyalty program (2pts)
Several different local yarn stores regard me as their best customer (3pts)

Buying online
I have bought yarn online (includes eBay) (1pt)
From another country (2pts)
I have a list of favourite suppliers of yarn located around the globe (3pts)

The Knitting Olympics (part 1)
I took part in the inaugural Knitting Olympics (1pt)
And joined a team (2pts)
And made a specialised button for the team (3pts)

The Knitting Olympics (part 2)
I put a Knitting Olympics medal on my blog site (1pt)
On the permanent sidebar (2 pts)
Even though it is not gold (3pts)

Stitch ‘n’ Bitch (part 1)

I am a member of the local Stitch ‘n’ Bitch (1pt)
I am a member of more than one Stich ‘n’ Bitch group (2pts)
I organise/administer a Stich ‘n’ Bitch group (3 pts)

Stitch ‘n’ Bitch (part 2)
I understand the significance of ‘Free to Stich, Free to Bitch’ (1pt)
I have put a ‘Free to Stich, Free to Bitch’ button on my blog AND/OR purchased ‘Free to Stich, Free to Bitch’ paraphernalia (2pts)
Even though I am not in the United States (3pts)

Knitting in public
I knit in public (1pt)
I knit on public transport (2pts)
Even if I don’t have a seat (3pts)

Yarn snobbery (part 1)
I prefer to knit with natural fibre yarn (1pt)
I prefer to knit with Jo Sharp/Debbie Bliss/Noro/Rowan brand yarn (2pts)
I prefer to knit with my own handspun yarn (3pts)

Yarn snobbery (part 2)
I can’t believe I ever knitted with acrylic/craft yarn (1pt)
I feel sorry for or despise people who knit with acrylic/craft yarn (2pts)
I think acrylic/craft yarn should be banned (3pts)

Needle snobbery
My favourite needles are made out of bamboo (1pt)
I have disposed of the cheap plastic needles that may have once been in my collection (2pts)
I only knit with Addi needles (3pts)

Gender (Bonus section)
(Don’t whinge; the girls get bonus points in the original Geek quiz)
I am male (1 pts)
And heterosexual (2pts)
And my male friends know I knit (3pts)

Now tally up your score...

40+ Certified Knitting Geek. I’m sure you have lots of ideas for additional questions for this quiz. Please leave them in the comments section.
30-39 Aspiring Knitting Geek. You’ll get there soon.
20-29 Knitting Geek in training. Keep reading the knitting blogs.
19 or less Are you actually a knitter?

All content is copyright Margaret Bozik 2006 and may not be reproduced without permission.