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.