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.