Thursday, June 28, 2007

Pirate illusion scarf complete

This is seriously the coolest thing that I have ever knitted.

Not the most complex or challenging or useful or best looking thing I have ever knitted, but definitely the coolest. Which just shows you how big my inner geek is.

As you can see from the bottom right-hand corner of this photo, when you look at this scarf from one angle, it looks like an ordinary striped scarf. Ho-hum.

But as you can see from the top left-hand corner of this photo, when you look at this scarf from another angle, a white skull and cross-bones appears on a black background.

It looks even better in real life when you are not dealing with my dodgy camera work taken in less than ideal conditions under yellow lights of a scarf being wet-blocked on old towels strewn under other drying washing.

But I was too excited to wait to take a photo under ideal circumstances.

I'm planning to give this scarf to my brother for his birthday. If he doesn't appreciate it, I will take it back and give it to someone who does. Like myself.

Things I have learnt: Don't bother trying to add extra knit stitches at the start and end of each row. It doesn't stop the curling and it means that a striped border also appears when viewing it from the picture angle. Not that I overly mind in this case.

The actual knitting was actually quite easy. All the talent belongs to Ysolda who created the original pattern (link to pattern here). I just knitted and purled where she instructed.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Thank you Juli

Juli sent me this lovely soft neck-warmer from North Carolina. It is a gorgeous rich deep purple plum that defies photography - if you are a purple fan, you will know exactly what colour it is. The yarn is a soft silk/angora blend and the pattern is Cinnabar from Magknits. It came out at about 130cm so I don't have to worry about tripping over long ends. She also managed to fit a Vogue Knitting magazine into the Priority Paid envelope. The magazine has lots of patterns including a gorgeous EZ Baby jacket I'm itching to try (no, I don't have any news).

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Progress on the Pirate Scarf and thoughts on knitting exchanges

I'm getting quite blown away by the effects of this illusion knitting - my photography really doesn't do it justice. From one angle it looks like a regular striped scarf and from another, all theses skulls and crossbones just appear. I'm about 40% of the way through this scarf - gaining speed as I gain confidence that it is going to work as long as I follow the pattern, and as I internalise the logic of illusion knitting (ie: understand in my head why it works).

It'll probably be a birthday present for my brother.

My ISE4 scarf partner has emailed me to let me know my scarf is in the mail. I'm really looking forward to this. We maintained anonymity for all of about 3 seconds after she accidentally sent her first email with links to her blogs on it (oops - LOL!) but that was fine. In many ways it was good because I felt confident that I was dealing with a real person and I could see her regularly posting on her blog. I didn't go into a meltdown worrying I was one of those people whose partners had disappeared off the face of the earth.

This has been my first such exchange; I'm not sure whether I'll do another one. The plus side was meeting new knitters and new knitting blogs and being part of a group project and extending myself and having a good excuse to purchase and knit with some yummy yarn. That's a LOT of plus side.

The not-so-much minus but less-plus side of the exchange was watching the level of "keeping up with/outdoing the Jones" that seemed to be happening. I tried not to be intimidated by the more complex lace patterned scarfs and shawls that other knitters were making. They were more experienced, I was doing something nice that was challenging for me (breathe Marg... remember to breathe).

Then the photos of packages sent and received started appearing.

I signed up knowing that I would have to spend about $25-$30 on yarn and probably $15-$20 on international postage. It soon became clear that a lot more than just scarfs were being sent. Stitch markers, needles, knitting magazines, skeins of expensive yarn, coffee, chocolate, scented soaps and sometimes a extra knitted items were being included. What the...? Would I be seen as cheap if I ONLY sent a scarf made out of nice yarn?

It wasn't only the cost of purchasing the additional items, but the impact the weight of each item has on the price of posting overseas. Books and magazines are a real killer but I ended up picking up a lightweight soft toy koala, some stickers and a few chocolates to chuck in with my scarf. I wasn't going to get into the one-upmanship competition but I didn't want my pal to feel completely short-changed. (For the record, I'm fairly certain she was quite happy with her extra warm scarf and goodies.)

I don't want any of this to be seen as a criticism of the wonderful people who voluntarily organise such exchanges. The ISE4 organisers have tried to address this issue in their rules:

Many exchangers add fun goodies, local treats and other tidbits to their parcel. Please remember that this is not a requirement. It is lovely of course and very generous but it is above and beyond the requirements. Please do not feel obliged to do this and conversely please do not be disappointed if your pal sends only the scarf she has carefully made.

But human nature being what it is, there is always a tendency for some people to go completely over-the-top, which leaves some other people feeling inadequate. And of course there is the converse problem; those people who try to get away with as little as possible; who never send a scarf despite receiving one themselves or who use cheap and shoddy materials and don't bother to correct their knitting mistakes.

I'm not sure what the answer is. There is no doubt that the knitting exchanges are a great way to make contact with other knitters and the ISE 4 seems to be particularly well organised. Maybe I should just refrain from worrying about the Jones on the website if I join again next year.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Beginning of the illusion of a pirate scarf

Although I am not in the same league as Beth who has created the most amazing Dark Mark Illusion in just a few days.

I've also been busy updating my new blog, The Readaholic.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Secret project revealed - and a new reading blog

The secret project was a version of the Irish Hiking Scarf (two cables instead of three made in super bulky Patons Husky wool from my stash). It was a birthday present for my friend Phill. His birthday isn't until next week but it has been a very cold (by Melbourne standards) and sudden introduction to winter and it seemed cruel and unnecessary to hold it off.

I presented Danica to Jess, Phill's wife and also a good friend, whose birthday is also next week - last year I gave her a hat made out of the same yarn, so it worked out well. I'm very happy to say that like most knitting, Danica improved markedly with blocking but I think I forgot to take a post-blocked photo of it (Do'h!).

Introducing The Readaholic
I have decided to start a new blog for writing about the books I'm reading. This should keep things a bit more organised and allow this blog to focus mainly on the knitting. I was inspired to start The Readaholic by Juli who is knitting a scarf for me as part of ISE4. Juli's set herself a reading challenge; I'm already doing a lot of reading because I spend 2 1/2 hours a day on public transport and it is getting too crowded to knit en route - I can read standing up with one hand holding onto a seat back using the book as a barrier between me and my fellow commuter's armpit. Plus I love reading anyway. So check it out if you are interested.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The illusion of knitting something new

The secret project is now finished; I'll post a photo later this month once the recipient has received it.

I have finally started to dip my toe into illusion knitting. After a couple of false starts I decided on Ysolda's skull illusion scarf. I've slightly altered the pattern - added two extra garter stitch rows at the start and an extra three garter stitches at the start and end of each row; this stops the scarf curling at the sides and ends; it also makes it a bit wider which I prefer. Assuming it turns out as planned and I can finish it within a month, it will be another birthday present.