Monday, July 30, 2007

Pooling problem

Oh dear.

I cast off the baby jacket, folded the fronts together and noticed a slight problem. The Opal yarn stripes had pooled. As can be seen, the darker colours, the purple and pink pooled on the RHS of the cardigan, while the white and pale blue pooled on the LHS.

It doesn't look like it, but the body is all one piece!

Hmm. Well at least it answered my question about whether I should try and match the stripes on the cardigan sleeves.

Any ideas?

Friday, July 27, 2007

What is the use of a blog without photos or hyperlinks?

No photos today. Sorry. I am well aware that the modern-day equivalent of Alice's "What is the use of a book without pictures or conversations?" (C S Lewis, Alice in Wonderland. The original book. Not the Disney movie. Go visit a library. Look up 'classics'. Hell, it can be downloaded free here) is "What is the use of a blog without photos or hyperlinks?"
However I'm blogging from my gmail account which means it's a case of either no pictures or no entry today. I'll try and include some hyperlinks.
Knitting: I'm about a third of the way through the baby raglan cardigan. I'm using 6-ply self-patterning Opal sock yarn which I'm convinced is the best yarn possible for baby items. Reasons:
  • It's the perfect balance between being hard-wearing (25% nylon) and quality natural yarn (75% wool)
  • It can be thrown in the washing machine and dryer with few ill-effects. After watching one of my friend's babies throw up over a jumper I had lovingly knitted in hand-wash only yarn, I had a greater appreciation of the value of using washing-machine friendly yarn for kiddie clothes - especially as sleep-deprived parents will just chuck everything in the washing machine and dryer, no matter what you or the label says.
  • The self-patterning nature of the yarn means that one can get a very impressive effect on a relatively simple item - in fact it shows up best on plain stockinette stitch.
  • 6-ply knits up relatively fast compared to baby-weight yarns but is not ridiculously bulky.
Best Knitting Exchange Pal ever: Beth. She has put me in touch with some brilliant patterns that one day I will have time to knit, offered to hold my hand through the EZ Baby Surprise jacket pattern, and has provided lots of helpful knitting tips and plenty of inspiration as she knits her way through enough socks to outfit every kid in Hogwarts in their house colours.
Biggest waste of time: YouTube. J & I went to see Phantom of the Opera which is currently playing in Melbourne, starring Anthony Warlow who is arguably the second-best Phantom ever (after Michael Crawford). It was brilliant. But then of course I had to go onto YouTube and download the five million versions of Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman (the original Christina; the part was written for her) singing Phantom and then I got side-tracked into downloading their other music videos and it was after midnight before I got to bed.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Knitting Interruptus

Like most of the other blogs I've been perusing lately, Harry Potter has cast Knitting Interruptus on me while I finish the final seventh book.
No spoilers here for anyone still going through it.
I finished my first ribbed Lollipop sock (which looks seriously Ridiculous when not on my foot - J was making rude remarks about it looking like a condom for a horse - now that is a vision should a Bogart take over any one's cupboard...)
And at the risk of incurring second sock syndrome I have cast on another project.
One of my loveliest colleagues (based in another city) is expecting a baby on 2 September which means I have five weeks to make, block and post an appropriate item of clothing. EZ Baby Surprise jackets are all over the knitting blogosphere at the moment but 1/ I don't have the pattern; 2/ I'm not confident of the instructions for the alternative Baby Surplice jacket that I do have the pattern for; and 3/ I've previously made this top-down raglan baby jacket in self-striping 6-ply Opal sock yarn and I'm confident it will turn out well.
If I have time I will tackle the Baby Surplice jacket.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

How our cats broke a $19 floor lamp and we wasted a whole weekend

On second thoughts, I don't think I can bare to recount everything that happened this weekend. The short story is that J & I:
  • Woke up on Saturday to a 'crash' that turned out to be the cats knocking over a cheap but useful uplight floor lamp. Not only was the shade broken, but the light fitting no longer worked.
  • Went to Bunnings (giant warehouse hardware store) and chose two new lamps that combined an upright and reading lamp on each (1 1/2 hours)
  • Set them up (1/2 hour)
  • Noticed we had bought the wrong light bulbs from Bunnings for the upright part.
  • Decided to use bulbs from the kitchen light fitting (that were the right wattage)
  • Noticed a strange burning smell (five minutes after turning on the lights)
  • Heard a load pop
  • Quickly turned off the lamps. Unscrewed a bulb and discovered it was burnt and melted at the base.
  • Later we discovered that the reading lamp lights on both lamps no longer worked.

  • 10.30am:Went back to Bunnings and showed a skeptical staff member evidence of why we were returning the lamps.
  • Waited 10 minutes while someone from the electrical department was called to inspect the burnt bulb and fitting.
  • Had our claim approved
  • Waited 20 minutes in a queue to return the lamps
  • By this stage the girl processing the claims had forgotten it was already approved. Waited another 10 minutes while she verified it.
  • Told the girl we also wanted to return the light bulbs. Girl takes three attempts to refund the final $11 onto my credit card.
  • J tells me it is too early to buy a sausage from the scouts who have set up a stand outside the store.
  • 12 noon. Drive to Nunawading. Visit Harvey Norman (department store). Spend half-an-hour wandering around and dragging J out of the computer section.
  • Visit three different lighting stores that want to charge us between $135 and $450 for a floor lamp.
  • Visit Officeworks to use the toilet. Lose J in Officeworks. Find him 20 minutes later buying DVD discs.
  • Decide to visit Bunnings Nunawading. Spend 40 minutes looking at poor quality lights and deciding not to buy anything.
  • J won't let me buy a sausage from the scouts here either.
  • 2.40pm: Home for a quick lunch. I look online and find the perfect lamp combing an upright and reading lamp for only $29 in the Ikea catalogue. The computer claims it is available at Ikea Richmond.
  • 3.30pm: Drive to Richmond. Spend 20 minutes trying to find a park in the worst-ever designed carpark that is in serious need of a traffic engineer or at least some staff directing traffic.
  • Walk around the rat maze that is Ikea trying not to get distracted by the soft toys and kitchenware. Discover our perfect lamp. Also notice that an exact replica of the broken lamp is available for just $19.
  • Decide to buy perfect lamp. Jeff collects matching light bulbs. Suspicious empty pallet next to display lamp suggests that the perfect lamp is sold out.
  • Spend 20 minutes finding and waiting for customer service who confirm perfect lamp is sold out.
  • J & I look at each other and concede defeat. Go back to the $19 lamp that is a replica of the broken lamp. Buy it and spend 15 minutes getting out of the carpark.
  • 5pm. Get home. J sets up new lamp and retreats to his room to play World of Warcraft.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Final words on ISE4

I am no longer putting buttons in my sidebar (except for the knitting ring buttons). I lost all my buttons when I moved to the new Blogger and found that I could cope without them. And I could never decide how long to keep them or if the number was getting ridiculous.

Hence the internal posting for the 'Gold Star ISE4 Pal' button for playing by the rules, making contact with my pals, sending my scarf off on time and posting to the group blog. A kind of high tech version of what the teachers used to put on neatly written work in primary school.

I ended up exchanging a couple of (nice) emails with the organisers expressing my concerns about how some of the exchangees seemed to be pushing up the ante when it came to sending 'extras' with their scarf - which added to postage costs as well as the cost of the extras. (I previously posted about this here.) And I got a very nice receptive response from Sharon who is also in Australia who said she was thinking of organising a lightweight category in the next scarf exchange - which means packages including extras would be limited to a reasonable (but yet to be decided) weight.

I think that's a fabulous idea and am looking forward to a lightweight ISE5.

No I don't have skinny ankles

As Judy aka the Sheep Rustler noted, the self-patterning wool doesn't look quite as good in ribbing as it does in plain stockinette stitch but I decided to go for comfort over pure style. And no, my ankles and calves aren't that skinny; it's just the elasticity of the rib pattern.

I'm very happy with how this sock is coming out - it is the first time I've done a short row heel without having to fudge any of the stitches and there don't seem to be the usual mysterious holes either. Hopefully I haven't jinxed the next sock by writing that!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The global knitting village

I rang up Tapestry Craft in Sydney (on their 1800 number) to order some sock knitting needles today – everywhere in Melbourne seems to be out of the 2mm needles or else they are charging ridiculous prices for fragile wooden toothpicks I know will snap within about 3 seconds of me using them (speaking from experience) – I would have just bought over the net except I couldn’t see any secure encryption on the site (they may have it but I couldn’t see it). How did people survive pre-internet? I am buying yarn from Holland, needles from Sydney and a pattern from the USA with funds and some of the goods being transmitted via services that didn’t even exist 10 years ago! I have this nifty tool on my blog that tells me how many people have visited and from what countries their computer is located in (you can even set it for cities but I find that a little too creepy). And if I wanted to, I could join the “Tour de Fleece” knit-a-thon where thousands of knitters around the globe are knitting and spinning yarn while they watch AND COMMENT ON the bicycle race, the Tour de France. (Drug testing not mandatory for most of the knitters.)

The world in 2007 is a wonderful and very strange place. Yes, there are still so many people dying of starvation and preventable illnesses and in stupid wars and maybe climate change in the not too distant future will destroy us all. And increased material wealth has not solved the problems of sadness and isolation and mental illnesses; although the internet now enables us to know we are not alone, no matter how obscure our personal issue.

What would our ancestors working 18 hours a day to just survive and never travelling more than 20km from home in their lifetime think?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Lollipop sock

My multi-coloured bag is currently felting in the machine (I hope! It's on it's 3rd cycle but some shrinkage is at least evident) and I decided to move onto something completely different. Socks.

It's been a while since I've knitted socks and after the knitting chunky yarn on 9mm needles all week I couldn't face the usual tiny skinny sock needles and yarns. This is Opal Lollipop 6-ply which I knit on 3mm needles. As it is self-patterning yarn, I find a very plain sock pattern works best. In this case it is a toe-up plain foot with short-row heels and a 2X2 rib for the legs. While in many ways much of this knitting could be seen as simply a smaller version of the knitting of my bag (knitting plain garter stitch around and around and around), watching the self-patterning form provides an ample diversion. "I'll just knit to the end of the pink. OK, to the blue. Look this dark blue and white is making an interesting spot pattern."

Yarn bargains
My resolution to refrain from yarn buying took a bit of a hit on Friday. Cleggs was having a sale. I restrained myself to a mere 4 balls of purple Naturally NZ DK yarn and 2 balls of grey/black Patons sock yarn. At $2/ball it was a bargain too good to resist.

I am very proud of myself, however, for resisting the 'bargain' novelty yarn that I would probably never knit or wear.

I was sorely tempted by some of the silk blends and a bamboo yarn but my budget won over my heart.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

No longer a beginner

As I sit in front of the TV mindlessly knitting, knitting, knitting in the round, it strikes me that I am no longer a beginner. I am getting bored out of my mind knitting, knitting, knitting this bucket bag on 9mm circular needles, even while watching TV. The only thing keeping me going is the desire to see whether I can actually felt this into a bag. And I'm chuffed to have finally found a use for those fat circular needles I bought on impulse from eBay a few years ago because it was such a great 'bargain' (I'm much better now at resisting 'bargains' on eBay).

So I predict I'll have this bag finished by the end of the week, providing I can stay awake for that long.


Sunday, July 01, 2007

Ever since I saw a photo of this yarn I have lusted for its beautiful brightness. It just called out to the inner toddler in me who is in love with pinks and purples and all the colours of the rainbow.

But I was good. I was responsible. I resisted. Because at US$5.95/ball plus postage from the Netherlands it was too much a threat to my fragile budget. Then Astrid put her last five balls up for sale at US$5 for the lot and I succumbed. Sooner than you could say PayPal, it was winding its way to Australia along with a skein of full-priced Opal 6-ply sock yarn because, hey, I was paying all that postage anyway and might as well fill up the satchel completely.

Hmm... well it made budgetary sense at the time.

The label says it is Vogue Collection Ligne Noire; 50 metres in a 50 gram ball. And now I had to decide what to do with it.

I have enough scarfs and wanted something more challenging than knitting 2 metres of garter stitch. And the thing about a thick-thin rainbow coloured yarn is that IMHO it looks a lot nicer on the ball than actually knitted up into anything. But I wasn't going to let it just sit in my stash making me feel guilty about all the money I spent on postage and the space unnecessary 'stuff' takes up in the house.

According to Astrid this yarn is 100% wool and great for felting, so I thought I'd have a go at making a felted bag. I haven't had much luck in the past trying to do felting but the 'thick' part of this yarn is barely-spun roving. My friend Google pointed me towards this pattern for a Felted Bucket Bag. I'm hoping I have enough yarn - the pattern calls for four skeins of Noro; I have five skeins of this yarn but there is far less yardage per ball.