Monday, January 29, 2007

Merino Supremo

I bought this Cleckheaton Merino Supreme yarn on sale at Cleggs last year. Being an end-of-season sale and half price, there wasn't enough of any one colour to make an adult-sized jumper, but the yarn was just so soft and screaming "knit me" and it was an absolute bargain ($3/ball) that I couldn't resist. I figured the grey-blue and soft pale pink went well together.
And for once this is one impulse bargain buy that I don't (yet) regret.
It's been another mild week, so I cast on for a jumper and have been really impressed by just what a joy this yarn is to knit with. You can feel the quality in every stitch. And being 10-ply it knits up very quickly.
Even though I was initially planning on making a jumper, the fabric has more the feel of a lovely cozy cardigan, so I'll probably go this way. It also means I can use the pink yarn for the front bands as well as the ribbed bands and collar and cuffs.
I'm finding knitting the plain stocking stitch rather dull and boring but don't want to add even more bulk with cables. Maybe I'll introduce an eyelet pattern towards the top of the garment.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Two more hats

Ignore the colour of the hat on the left. It is actually the lovely deep rich purple which I used to edge my Lizard Ridge blanket but the camera was being very strange this morning. As part of my stash-reduction plan, I decided to use the last of this yarn to make myself a hat.
I'd pretty much given up on trying to knit hats for my husband - every hat I've made him to date has been too big, too small or somehow not quite right. But Goldilocks decided that my purple hat was just the right size and style for him, so I relented and did a black version.
Here is the really simple pattern for anyone else who has a Goldilocks in their life (and so I don't forget it myself). While all the ribbing is mind-numbingly boring, it solves a lot of sizing issues as it can expand and contract. And it is the sort of knitting you can do to justify watching Babylon 5 or Midsomer Murder episodes on TV or DVD.
2 X 50g balls of 8ply wool (any brand) - you'll only use about half of the second ball
3.75mm 40cm circular needle (optional)
set of 3.75mm DPNs (Double Pointed Needles)
(Tighter knitters may need to use 4mm needles - just use whatever size you normally use for 8ply knitting; the ribbing is very forgiving if your guage is a little out.)
Cast on 120 stitches onto the ciruclar needle (or DPNS, 40 stitches per needle if you have a set of 4; 30 stitches per needle if you have a set of 4). Join ends, being careful not to twist stitches.
(The most difficult part of the hat is now complete).
Put on a dialogue-heavy DVD or BBC radio play (Lord of the Rings or the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy are good)
*k2, p2 (repeat from *) until you have a ribbed tube measuring 25cm in length.
*k2, p2-tog (repeat from *) for one round.
*k2-tog, p1(repeat from *) for one round.
Change to DPNS
Knit one round (placing 20 stitchers on each needle)
*k8, k2-tog (repeat from *) for one round. (54 stitches remaining)
*k7, k2-tog (repeat from *) for one round. (48 stitches remaining)
*k6, k2-tog (repeat from *) for one round. (42 stitches remaining)
*k5, k2-tog (repeat from *) for one round. (36 stitches remaining)
*k4, k2-tog (repeat from *) for one round. (30 stitches remaining)
*k3, k2-tog (repeat from *) for one round. (24 stitches remaining)
*k2, k2-tog (repeat from *) for one round. (18 stitches remaining)
*k1, k2-tog (repeat from *) for one round. (12 stitches remaining)
*k2-tog (repeat from *) for one round. (6 stitches remaining)
Cut yarn, leaving a 15 cm tail. Thread the end onto a wool needle and draw through the remaining 6 stitches. Pull tightly and sew end neatly into the wrong side of the hat. Sew in the starting end. Roll up brim to desired height.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

How to buy size 14 clothes on sale (really)

Once upon a time when I was a size 14 and thought I was the biggest blob on the planet (now of course I wish for those heady skinny days) I used to get really irritated in clothing stores that seemed to sell out of their size 14 or large items within a day and were filled with extra small and small sized clothes (sizes 8-10) that inevitably were heavily discounted at the middle or end of the season. It just wasn't fair!

Now that I am a little larger I buy a lot of my clothes at stores that specialise in sizes 14+. I went to the sales last week and while I did reasonably well (3 skirts and 4 tops from Taking Shape for well under $200 in total), I noticed something else. Like all clothing stores, most of their sale items were in the “extra small” and “small” sizes which in the plus-size world generally translates as sizes 14 and 16. So if you happen to be a size 14 and visit a plus-size store, you can not only pick up a good bargain in clothes that actually fit but you can also have the satisfaction of walking around wearing a genuine “extra small” labelled garment. (Very silly I know, but also satisfying on a superficial level.)

For instance, the MySize clearance store in Richmond had good work shirts that I paid $60-$70 for a few months ago for only $9.95 – if you happened to be a size 14-16.

I can't wait until I am a tiny size 14-16 again and can take advantage of such bargains.

Lessons from the summer of 2006/07

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of drought and flooding rains,
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel sea,
Her beauty and her terror -
The wide brown land for me.
Dorothea MacKellar
That just about sums up this year's summer - and we're only just over halfway there.
What with the 40+ degree temperatures, power outages, 50 days of continuous bushfires and now flash floods (the international tennis players at the Australian Open must wonder what surreal hell they have fallen into given that the weather has been extreme by even Melbourne standards), the climate over the past week hasn't exactly been conducive to knitting. I think I might have done a couple of rounds of a ribbed beanie in front of the fan before my husband screamed that I was making him feel hot. I might get a bit more knitting done next week given the weather bureau is predicting cooler temperatures - providing of course we don't get rain leaking through the cracks that have appeared in the house from 3 years of extreme drought.
Welcome to Australia.
But I am not going to whinge about the rain or the monsoonal steam that is creeping in everywhere, no matter how irritating or how much mould it is forming. "We need the rain"; this is the Australian mantra. I just hope some of it is putting out the bushfires and/or falling into the dams. Too often we are mocked with just enough rain to be irritating but too little to do much good. We need good heavy rain in the right areas right now.
A lot of people say this is all part of the climate change from global warming; others claim it is just an extreme blip on our always erratic weather patterns. Australia has always been notorious for extreme weather; the above poem was written in 1906. But this year has definitely been a wake-up call to remind us that even if this is not the result of climate change we, as Australians, simply have to be wiser and more sensible about our use of water.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

My first cable hat

Made out of scrap 14-ply wool. The 3:3 cables came out rather tight.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Lizard Ridge complete!

Hard as it may be to believe, this blanket only incorporates four different Noro Kureyon colourways (126,139, 148 & 163), so it really showcases the variety of the yarns. I edged it in a rich purple 8-ply which I'm fairly sure was Naturally New Zealand. It took about 4 months of off-again on-again knitting, sewing and crocheting to complete (with a few scarfs and hats knitted in between). All-in-all I'm pretty happy with the result but I don't want to think about the amount of money I spent on the yarn (even though about half was already in my stash). My husband claims just looking at it is making him feel hot (it's the heart of summer in Australia), so I've rolled it up and put it away for winter.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

There is light at the end of my blanket

I would normally feel guilty for watching 3 entire series (that is years) of a show over a period of less than a month, but I have spent most of this time also sewing together my Lizard Ridge blanket and it is tantalisingly close to finished.  24 beautiful squares stitched together, using the invisible mattress stitch.  The first row of single crochet around the edge.  More than half of the second row almost finished.
Of course the temperature is now going through a post-30 degree Celsius spurt (summer has returned) and I have returned to work from my holidays but I can see a light at the end of my blanket. 
I will post a picture as soon as I can
We watched the first Babylon 5 movie last night which was not nearly as good as the series that followed.  I believe that many, even better, shows have also taken months, if not years to warm up.  It makes one wonder what potential gems are never forming with new shows being yanked from the screens if they don't rate within a week or two.

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year, new resolutions

New Year's resolutions are generally both worthy and worthless. We resolve to do worthy things - eat better, exercise more, be nicer to people, etc. And they are worthless because after a few hours, days or weeks, we revert to the usual habits.

I didn't bother waiting for the new year for the usual resolutions. And I am keeping them better than I have in the past. But this year I decided on a special knitter's resolution. As I currently have enough wool in my stash for at least a dozen jumpers and pairs of socks, I will attempt to knit up at least one garment in between purchasing more wool. Scarfs and hats don't count, although I suspect they will be a major part of the destashing process.

I had enough of the 14-ply recycled jumper wool left over to make up another hat - this time with tight twisted cables, a first for me. Picture to follow, when I can be organised. I started knitting up a pair of socks but unravelled them when I started making mistakes (a lot of my knitting is being done while watching Babylon 5 and series 3 is proving to be very enthralling). Instead I am sewing up my Noro blanket while watching TV, which is a worthy job. With any luck it will be finished by winter. Memo to self: No more blanket squares, even if they are Noro. I hate sewing.