Saturday, December 27, 2008

The dutiful daughter-in-law

This is attempt number 2 at a hat for my father-in-law. The first time I mis-guessed how many stitches to cat-on, so I also have a child-sized hat floating around. Lucky it's such a quick knit!

Recipe: Cleckheaton's Merino Supreme wool (discontinued), one 5.0mm circular needle, 5.0mm DPNs (I used 5.5mm DPNs as they were handy). Cast on 84 stitches, join in round. Knit 60 rounds in 2X2 rib before decreasing.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ye Gods! Photos of finished projects

Noro Silk Mountain Scarf

Noro Silk Mountain Scarf

This scarf is for my Mother-In-Law who probably can’t appreciate just how luxurious and expensive this silk/wool/mohair yarn is. So, why am I giving it to her?

1/ It’s a very quick, easy knit. Just 21 stitches, slip the first stitch and knit each row. The yarn does all the work.

2/ I bought this yarn on impulse and while I know it looks great, I just really don’t love it or love knitting with it. I was glad to have an excuse to get it out of my stash.

3/ Even if the MIL doesn’t appreciate how great this yarn is, she will appreciate the thought and the fact it is warm. And it will impress the hell out of people around her who actually get it.

Baby Surprise Jacket

This jacket is for a friend who is pregnant with her second baby boy. I just have to sew on the buttons. It looks so tiny but I guess babies come out this size.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Contentment is being happy with what you have

"What I really want," I told J some months ago, "is security.  I don't have any desire to be wealthy or wear designer clothes but I want to know I have enough money to do what I want when I want.  When I retire I want to own the roof over my head - if we don't have to pay rent or a mortgage we can live pretty cheaply."

"I can understand that," J said.  "But look at yourself now.  You are lying on your couch with your cat and your knitting watching Midsomer Murders having just eaten a wonderful dinner cooked by your husband.  AND we have dark Lindt chocolate for desert. Tell me - is there really anything else you want right now?"

Fast forward four months and the stock market has crashed even more spectacularly - 45% since this time last year.  I'm glad I'm not facing retirement in the next few years.  I can close my eyes when the superannuation statement arrives and tell myself this will all be a blip in 25 years time.

I'm glad my job seems relatively secure; that the new CEO likes me; that all my hard work over the years is paying dividends.  Too many people, often undeservedly, are losing their jobs, not through any fault or greed of their own but because they were in the wrong company or industry at the wrong time.

I think back to my accounting graduation during the recession of 1992.  "Get into insolvency," a young Turk from KPMG told me. "It's a dynamic and growing industry."  I don't think he realised the irony of what he was saying.  But who am I to laugh?  He's probably managing the section now, making more money than I could ever dream of.

Whereas I am in a job I love, where I am respected, with a husband who loves me, a comfortable house, wonderful friends, the two best cats in the world and enough DVDs and books and knitting yarn to get through the recession of 2009 without having to buy a single thing.

Life is good.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Settling in

A picture is worth a thousand words but only if you can find the camera cable and your home computer doesn't spontaneously shut down every few minutes.  As J says, would I rather he spent time fixing the locks or fixing my computer, because he would much rather devote the time to fixing the computer but there is a lot that needs to be done around the home.

So I will have to be descriptive with my language.

Still settling in.  The cats are finally "legal"; the new registration tags having come in the mail.  After a fortnight of whining, they were finally able to go outside, where they gingerly poked around for a few minutes before demanding to come back in. OK...

There are all these expenses when one moves that can add up to a frightfully large amount, a few hundred dollars at a time.  So far they have included carpet cleaning, new locks; new door handles, two ceiling fans, a kitchen hutch/dresser (paid less than half price due to a few scratches and bumps), a new sofa and chair (indulgent, but a worthwhile quality investment that will outlast cheaper models), extra lights and a tv antenna booster so we can consistently access the news.

J's become - much to my pleasant surprise - very house proud.  He's set up the living room beautifully and has even pulled out the vacuum cleaner without me saying anything.  We are eating our meals in a very civilised manner at the new kitchen table, rather than on the couch watching TV (J even seems dubious about the risk of us taking coffee into the living area), and while we have heaps still to unpack and sort out, we seem to be more on top of things in the new place.

I haven't quite worked out the best way of managing all my travel; I have to discipline myself to leave on time from work as an extra 30 minutes of mucking around can mean arriving home up to an hour later than need be.  Sometimes I'm so tired I nap on the train; other times I read or knit.  I think it's just a matter of getting used to my new routine.  I love our new place and the area and don't regret moving for a moment.

And by the way, I wasn't compalining about our new council's green policy - I agree with it entirely - but that doesn't mean that it isn't diffiuclt to change the habbits of a lifetime.  And there is a limit to how much one can reuse all the packaging used in moving.  We will eventually put the cardboard boxes on Freecycle - we'll have to use the general Melbourne site; funnily enough for such a green precinct there is no Freecycle group for our specific region.

In knitting news, I'm getting close to the end of the BSJ.  I hesitate to say this, but I'm finding all the garter stitch a little boring.  But I hate trying to do lace as I have a tendancy to miscount and hate having to either fudge or frog rows of lace.  J is very keen for me to crochet a throw for our couch - I think he has no idea of just how much is involved in this.  He want's it one or two colours but I am seriously tempted by the Babette Blanket - it's one way to burn through some of my stash and will be a lot easier and more entertaining than just doing 100-plus identical granny squares.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Another excuse to baby knit

One of my pregnant friends has discovered that she is having another boy, which provided the perfect excuse to pull out the machine washable baby print Zara that has been hiding in my stash since I bought it on impulse at a sale last year.  Zara is often described as 8-ply but I find it knits up more like a 6-ply; a light sportsweight as the American would say.

So I used my 3.5mm circular Addis (I know everyone is raging about the Knitpick Options but I am very fond of my Addis) and cast-on another Elizabeth Zimmerman Baby Surprise jacket.  I've made it before but in a too-heavy bulky yarn.  I figured that as I still had plenty of time prior to the birth and both parents are fairly small, that I could risk making up a smaller item.  The nightmare for all knitters (at least me) is to devote dozens of hours to a project that is unwearable.

As it is purely in garter stitch, this is the perfect mindless knitting for the long train journeys.  The regular double decreases and shaping provide enough stimulation to keep me awake also.  As with most variegated yarns, it looks far better on the ball than in a garment but the overall effect is not too bad.

Photos will follow, once (if) I find the cable that will allow me to upload from my camera to the computer.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Moving is hell

Moving must be like giving birth.  The pleasure of having one's own place eventually wipes over the memories of how hellish the actual process is of getting there.

J, of course, did all the bullwork, including our library-sized book collection but there has been more than enough to keep me busy, with unpacking, finding important documents in our files (always at the bottom of the box), sorting clothes and discovering that virtually all the space in my "knitting room" has been appropriated for temporary storage "until we sort everything out".  Hmm.  My boxes of yarn are too large to store on any of the shelves in the room, so I will have to think of another solution.

Then of course there are all the usual joys of moving house, reconnecting utilities, discovering that the previous owners had loosely glued handles on the cupboards and drawers in the kitchen, buying and changing locks, and putting up with the tantrums of two cats who will not be allowed out of the house until the registration for the new council comes through.

Oh, our new council.  Did I mention that we have moved into possibly the "greenest" local council in Australia?  Which I agree with in theory but takes some getting used to in practice.

To begin with, our local shops are a plastic bag free zone.  We have no choice but to remember the green bags.  Or to buy yet another one every time we buy more items than we can easily carry in our hands.  The positive side of this compulsory re-education is that we now remember the bags, even when we go to the shops in the larger suburbs/towns that don't enforce this policy.

Garbage collection is also a new experience.  Unlike our previous council that frowned on anything messier than garden clippings going into the green bin, we are now encouraged to include all organic waste - including meat scraps - in our gree bin, which is picked up weekly.  We have a very large yellow recylcing bin, with also a far more liberal list of products that can be included in it.  It gets picked up fortnightly.  And we have to use our green and yellow bins to the max because our "other" bin (red lid) is tiny and only picked up on alternate weeks.  Reduce, re-use, recycle is the mantra here.

Technically we are still living in Melbourne (including the all important metropolitan train into the city, just a 15 minute walk or 3 minute drive from our house), but the feel and attitudes are definitely that of a country town.  In many ways I feel like I have stepped back 30 years in time.  Local politics are very big, with handpainted signs supporting one or another - or putting down one or another - of the candidates in the upcoming elections.  Even though we are not yet entitled to vote in this electorate, we have received photocopied leaflets deriding the current members for supporting the building of new municipal offices 15km away.

Our new street is filled with families with young children and we have received an invite to the upcoming annual street Christmas party.  Although we are nervous, J and I are going. 

Travelling to and from work from our new home has not been as dire as some have suggested.  The best trains of the day only take an hour to get into the city, and even is a worst-case "stopping every station and pausing 10 minutes to allow another train to shunt into place" only blew out the journey to 1 hour 20 minutes.  I knit.  I read.  I sleep.  One advantage of getting on at the end of the line is that I can choose the prime seat.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

A miracle has happened

I went to Clegs today during a sale and didn't buy anything.

Then I went into the chemist and found my necessary but usually overpriced vitamins on sale - less than $35 for a six month supply (it's normally $50 for a four month supply).

I couldn't help wondering if God was rewarding me for finally not buying unneccessary yarn.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

For all my good intentions...

So much for all my good intentions of knitting from my stash, not being consumed by materialism, resisting 'sales', etc, etc.  I've been spending a fair bit of money over the past couple of months on unnecessary but lovely stuff, mainly related to my fibre pursuits .  On the plus side I haven't bought any cheap crap - it's all quality stuff.  On the negative side, some of it has been quite expensive and far from necessary or even desirable.

Things I have learnt
  • I like wool.  I like silk.  But for some reason, I don't like yarn which combines the two. 
  • I'm a purist when it comes to Noro.  I love Noro Kureyon, which is the original 100% wool in a 10-ply/worsted weight. I have used various sales to try out some of their other yarns and none of them have quite the same wow factor for me.  These include Cashmere Island (lovely and soft but too fragile and very poor stitch definition); Cash Iro (too stiff and scratchy); Kureyon sock (too harsh and inconsistent for sock yarn.  Besides, I've decided that I hate knitting socks and/or with anything thinner than 6-8-ply); Silk Mountain (I hate boucle yarn); Silk Garden (I've become super sensitive to anything with any mohair in it).  I haven't yet tried knitting with the Silver Thaw. I have hopes as it looks and feels gorgeous.  But I suspect it still won't have the wow factor of Kureyon.
  • Angora may be very soft but it sheds a lot.  Hence I will not knit with it.  Ditto, alpaca.
  • I hate boucle yarn.  It's too close to novelty yarn.  Even if it is Noro Silk Mountain
  • I should always check the exchange rate when buying yarn in American dollars.  Especially when the Aussie dollar is in free-fall.  I spent more than AUD$1/gram on some beaded silk yarn that was on sale.  But it is gorgeous.
  • Buying knitting-themed mugs, cards or books is acceptable.  Buying knitting-themed Christmas ornaments when one doesn't even celebrate Christmas is silly.
  • Always research prices and take into account shipping before making a purchase.  It Itches arrived safely from The Book Depository and is very funny.  And it cost me less than a third the publishers wanted to charge (I'm not letting go of this one for a long time.)
  • A drop in interest rates is not an excuse to go on a yarn buying spree.  Especially when one's about to move onto a larger loan for their new home.
And in swap news
I think I'm going to take a break from doing swaps as I want to knit a little for myself for a bit. 
  • The 100 gram challenge was fine - and my swappee was dutifully grateful for her package.  I included a skein of the Silk Mountain since I wasn't going to use it and it is a lovely gift for the right person. 
  • The organiser of the Stashbuster swap sent me an 'angel' gift of a knitted dishcloth, some chocolate, tea, soap, a key ring and bamboo yarn, which was nice. 
  • But I'm still struggling with the 'No Sheep for You" swap which has to be posted this week.  I made a mistake in the Forest Canopy shawl and have to tink back - and I've really lost enthusiasm for the project.  I whipped up a drop-stitch pure silk scarf out of 70 grams of worsted yarn which would be fine, except for another knitter who knows what a cheat knitting job this is (I only chose the pattern so I could get a scarf out of so little yarn).  I'm currently frantically finishing a market bag out of dishcloth cotton (which was fine except for the super-annoying centre-circle start) and will probably throw in a couple of dishcloths crocheted out of green, yellow and white yarn - I'll put on a note about it being for wiping up spilt beer on Australia day.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Buying It Itches –the options

(or why I love The Book Depository which provides free worldwide shipping)

I wanted to buy Franklin Habit's new book, It Itches which is not yet available in Australian stores

So I considered my options

Price comparison for Australian buyers

Directly from the publisher, Interweave Press
Book US $12.95
Shipping to Australia US $25.35
Total US $38.30 (AUD $57.36)

Book US $10.15
Shipping to Australia US $15.21

Total US $25.36 (AUD $37.98)

From The Book Depository
Book ₤6.41
Shipping to Australia FREE

Total ₤6.41 (AUD $15.64)

* Interestingly, when I contacted
Interweave Press to question their shipping costs, they said that it was correct and that they still LOST money on their overseas sales. Not surprisingly, I decided not to put them through such a sacrifice since I could buy the same book from The Book Depository for almost a quarter of the price Interweave Press were charging.

Just out of curiosity, I also compared the prices for those living in America

Directly from the publisher, Interweave Press
Book US $12.95
Shipping US $4.95

Total US $17.90


Book US $10.15
Shipping US $3.99

Total US $14.14

(note – shipping within the US is free if It Itches is included with other eligible items from Amazon creating an order total of $25 or more, so the total cost for Americans buying from Amazon could be as little as US $10.15)

From The Book Depository

Book ₤6.41
Shipping to the US

Total ₤6.41 (US $10.47)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Panopticon loot

I am a HUGE fan of Franklin Habit and his knitting-related cartoons. When the Australian dollar was at its record high, I finally caved in and picked up some of his work, including:

Marge mug - front

Marge mug - back

A scarily appropriate mug that seemed to have been designed just for me

Franklin Bag

A highly appropriate knitting bag

Franklin Bag close-up

Here is a close up

It itches card

And some gift cards that every knitter who has poured her heart and soul into creating a garment for someone else will appreciate.

How I got hooked on crocheting dishcloths


I've recently been doing two things that I never thought I would: Crocheting dishcloths.

I've never had the patience to work in fine yarns and I associate crocheting in thicker yarns as ugly and old-fashioned. Very 70s. In a non-cool way. As for dishcloths - why would anyone want to put their time and effort into creating a rag to wipe up dirt?

Then someone sent me a knitted dishcloth in a swap. It was made out of the most butt-ugly white, orange and brown variegated yarn I had ever seen. I tossed it to one side on the kitchen bench and forgot about it.

Several weeks later I spilt coffee on the bench and was casting wildly around for something to wipe the mess up with. I grabbed the dishcloth and used it to absorb the excess coffee. It was really effective. It was soft and useful and absorbent. And it rinsed out easily in the sink. I tossed it in the washing machine with the towels and it came up good as new.

A light-bulb went off in my head.

I grabbed an odd ball of ugly cotton yarn from my stash and knitted up a square in moss stitch. The knitting was fine but the colours looked terrible. As a lovely absorbent dishcloth it worked perfectly. Unfortunately, however, I hated the knitting; it was boring and took forever and the cotton yarn was stiff on my fingers.

For some reason a few weeks later I was playing about with some of that yarn and a crochet hook. I've never really learnt how to crochet but I can do a basic chain and sc stitch. I looked down at my handwork and discovered that the ugly yarn actually looked a hell of a lot better crocheted up than knitted. And crocheting was certainly faster than knitting. I wasn't very good doing the turning chains at the end of each row but who cared if the edge of my dishcloth was a bit wonky? It was just going to hide in a draw and come out to wipe up coffee stains. As I finished my square, I had a brainwave. What if I did a final sc row around the entire perimeter of the square? That would neaten things up.

Two dishcloths later I had the idea of finishing my final sc circuit with a chain of about 10 stitches that could be formed into a simple ring tag, making it easy to hang my dishcloth on a hook in the kitchen.

And that was it. I had designed the perfect dishcloth for me. One that was easy and fast and fun and could be done while concentrating on an enthrawling movie or tv show.

I bought a few bags of cheap cotton yarn "odds and ends" on sale. I adjust my dishcloth size to suit the yarn available. Sometimes I do the final circuit in a different yarn. Sometimes I do several circuits. Whatever I feel like.

I still haven't perfected doing a neat turning chain, despite hours pouring over diagrams and instructions in "Crocheting for Dummies". But I am getting better and better at fudging and covering my mistakes. And I relax knowing the in the worst case scenario, it will still be fine for wiping up the kitchen floor.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

We interrupt this knitting blog for some sporting news

Australians love their sporting heroes.  And they love stories of Aussie battlers who overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to come out on top.  So what to make of their reaction to the following story?

Queensland teenager Samantha-Jane Stacey, 14, battled through five matches with a sprained ankle to win a silver medal in an elite international competition – the youngest Australian ever and first Australian in 16 years to win a medal at the event.  Japanese representatives, whose athletes traditionally dominate this sport, invite her to train with them in their country before returning to Australia.

Meanwhile back in Australia, is Samantha-Jane celebrated as a hero?  Offered lucrative sponsorship deals? Held up as a role model to other young Australians?


In fact, in response to a straightforward news report of her achievements, some online readers responding to the story mock her and claim she is a disgusting embarrassment and can't possibly be regarded as a healthy role model for children.

The reason is that Samantha-Jane won her silver medal at the World Sumo Championships in Estonia.  And like most sumo wrestlers she is big – 127kg (280 pounds).

Not that this worries Australian Sumo Federation president Katrina Watts who told The Courier Mail: "She has been wrestling since she was a kid and she is very fit and healthy. Her whole family is big so it's not an issue. Some of the female sumo wrestlers are over 160kg."

Samantha-Jane's mum Sue is extremely proud of her daughter, telling the The Courier Mail: "She's a gift from God and I love her so much… She's very confident in who she is and I'm just so happy she's found something that she's good at in sumo wrestling."

Sue reckons her daughter's critics should "get a life".

"Some of the comments were the most disgusting, un-Australian things I've ever read…The things people say don't worry Sam because she's happy in her own skin. To me, she's beautiful inside and out and I'm so proud of her."

Full credit to Samantha-Jane for her incredible athletic achievements - and to her fantastic mother who obviously provides her with the unconditional love, support and positive reinforcement she will need to live in a society full of nasty judgemental idiots.

Monday, October 13, 2008



100 gram challenge swap

I am so proud. Our of 100 grams (2 balls) of Noro Kureyon, I made a hat, a Calorimetry and three little crochet flower broaches. It's hard to believe all these items came out of one colourway of yarn.

No sheep for you swap
I have to get off my duff on this one. I've kind of gone off doing the forest canopy shawl and am thinking of doing a wide lace cotton scarf wrap. Currently contemplating different stitches; trying to find a balance between a simple lace I can memorise and the desire to do a leaf pattern. Maybe travelling vines?


I was fidgeting with some revolting variegated cotton yarn and a crochet hoot and found it looked a lot better crocheted rather than knitted. And crocheting, even single crochet, is much faster. So far I've hooked 2 1/2 dishcloths in sc. I realise this is the crochet equivalent of knitting garter squares but it is quick, easy, productive and I'm not bored yet. I've never crocheted anything more complex than a simple border on my knitting and am 95% self-taught. Dishcloths are the perfect thing to practice on as it doesn't matter if anything is wonky. And they do work well.

Still waiting for...
My international stashbuster swap package. Hopefully it arrives before I move house (mid November) which leads us to...

Other news
J & I have bought a house on the outskirts of north-east Melbourne. It's a beautiful area, a fantastic house and only a short walk to a train to the city. I envisage even more knitting and reading en route. Funnily enough, despite being three times the distance from the city as our current home, it will only add about 15 minutes to the journey to work - trains being so much faster than trams.

Financial news
The crashing Australian dollar has finally put a curtail on all my overseas online shopping. Just one more bag of yarn and a few knitting items left to arrive.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


I'm sure that as usual us plebs are going to end up paying the highest price for the meltdown on Wall Street, but for a few brief moments today we experienced a bit of schadenfreude when the greedy traders all of a sudden realised that the US taxpayer wasn't going to bail them out after all. It was a close call and possibly by the time this post appears on my blog the Republican Party machine will have arm-twisted a dozen of their members into voting for the bailout. Will the world really end tomorrow if this doesn't happen? Will we experience the horrors of the Great Depression as some fear? Will unemployment rise to 60%, will people be dying of starvation in the streets? Or will we regroup and go on, poorer but a bit wiser and not quite so confident that our superannuation will carry us in our retirement years.

Will Monday 29 September 2008 (US time) go down as the day capitalism collapsed? I seriously doubt it. Anyone who thinks that capitalism is dead should go along to any left-wing gathering and observe the all-pervasive low-level capitalism in action as aging hippies try and flog badges and bumper stickers and newspapers to all and sundry.

And it is too much to hope that the seriously immoral will pay for their crimes. At the age of 37 I have a strange sense of deja vue; in the 1980s we had Michael Milken and co. with their junk bonds; today it's subprime lending. Gordon Gecko and the Greed is Good mantra and the immorality and lack of social responsibility have always been around in the past and will still exist tomorrow. And the world somehow survives to the next day.

It's days like today where it is good to be a non-materialist.

So can someone please explain why I felt compelled to spend money I didn't have on a fresh collection of knitting paraphanalia?

Photos to follow.

On the needles:
At work - Baby blanket in Peaches 'n' Cream double-worsted cotton (Springtime colourway)
At home - Veronik Avery's Short-Row Hat (in Noro) for 100g swap
At Home - Forest Canopy Shoulders Shawl

(The last two are from patterns I actually bought as PDFs off the net. So far, they have been worthwhile.)

Lost in the wild
A Magic Yarn Ball I made up for a fellow Aussie Raveller using two skeins of Nor Kureyon (argh!), buttons, a bar of soap, lollies and a crochet needle.

I stupidly neither took a photo of it nor sent it registered post, so I have already made up another (with a different pure wool 12-ply yarn which is nice but no Noro), expecting to have to send it (probably by registered post this time). I've already taken a photo.

swap 004

I also haven't yet received my stashbuster swap parcel :(

Recently received
At least I have already received my own Aussie Magic Yarn Ball, made out of the softest wine-coloured merino yarn, containing lindt chocolates, tea, candies, embellishments and a giant 12 mm crochet hook.

swap 003

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pictures of finished objects

I finally finished Jackie's scarf in Vintage Twist (just in time for the warmer weather)

wavy scarf 001

I finally made some mitts for myself (also in Vintage Twist, the pink colourway). This was from yarn rescued from my frogged Flat-Top Hat by Iris Schreier.

mitts - Vintage Hues

My stashbusting swap pal Noeller67's daughter seemed pretty happy with my gift.

Stash buster swap

And I finally started the Forrest Canopy shawl for the No Sheep for You swap (made out of Bendigo cotton in the colour teal). It doesn't look very impressive yet.

Forrest Canopy

Books I may or may not have acquired in recent weeks (from swaps and direct purchases) include: all four Barbara Walker Treasuries (apparently even if you knit one sample a day, it will take 2 years just to get through the first book) and a book about knitting 2 socks at a time on circular needles (I can dream). Plus a few back copies of Yarn magazine.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I know I am getting old...

  • When I look at the school kids sprawling over the train seats and catch myself thinking: "In my day, we had to give up our seats to full fare paying travellers." (I was quite put out when I discovered that it is no longer a condition of a student transport pass that they give up their seats to full-fare paying travellers).
  • When men in their 30s and 40s offer their seat to me.  This never used to happen to me.  I'd like to think this is because they are chivalrous men enamoured by my beauty but I fear the reason is that they think I am pregnant or ill and likely to pass out or puke if forced to stand for long distances.
I am not sure which of the two scenarios is disconcerting me more...

Sunday, September 07, 2008


The modular hat was nothing but frustration - I couldn't get the triangles to match up on the top and I hated the look anyway. Urgh! So it is sitting in the frog pond waiting to be ripped. I fell back on an old stalwart, whipping up a pair of Seed-Stitch Mitts using some Cleckheaton Merino Silk Spun yarn in my stash. I think I'll have enough yarn left over to make a matching Calorimetry. So that's my international stash buster swap out of the way.

I've also joined up for 3 Australian swaps - a 100 gram challenge, a "no sheep for you" and a "magic wool ball" swap. My intention is to completely fulfill these using only yarn from my stash. Apart from the obligatory chocolate "extras" and postage.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Elvish Leaves Dishcloth

Elvish leaves 2

Now this is a dishcloth I don't want to use. I made it with some lovely soft 8-ply cotton I had in my stash and I think it is just a little too fragile and nice to scrub the floor with. I was seriously tempted to continue the lace pattern and turn it into a scarf but I didn't have enough yarn. I think this will become a doily.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ravelry mischief making

I have marked my tea towel (see post below) as an 'ugh' on Ravelry and added my less-than-flatterig description of my opinion of the colour combination. I then linked it to both the Hall of Shame and Peaches & Cream groups. I'm sure it will be appreciated for what it is by the Hall of Shame members. The Peaches & Cream group, however, is run by the manufacturers of this yarn and they take it all just a little too seriously, basically using the group as a way to advertise their wares without charge. The moderators say they will delete any projects not made using the official trademarked Peaches and Cream yarn. Will they allow my less than positive project made out of their yarn to remain? Time will tell.

Friday, August 29, 2008


Peaches & Cream - pink lemonade

It looked so lovely on the ball
But knitted up, not at all
The yellow, green and pink hue
Combined to look like dog spew

tea towel 1

I have to admit, I never 'got' the point of dishcloths. What was the point of spending all the time and money to knit what effectively was a rag to wipe up muck?

Then we needed some new tea towels and I discovered the near-impossibility of find decent quality, thick absorbent 100% cotton tea towels. Even the expensive ones seemed to have some sort of water-repelling coating and most were ridiculously thin.

One of the Australian girls on Ravelry was putting in a bulk order for Peaches & Cream cotton yarn, so I decided to get some and try to make my own. This thought hadn't come out of nowhere - in a swap I had received a small dishcloth and while I found the mixed colours rather revolting, I had to admit that it was lovely and soft and absorbent.

I bought some 'bargain' grab-bags of yarn ends which, in retrospect, was probably false economy. Postage from the US far outweighs the cost of the yarn and I would have been better off selecting a few full-priced cones in colours I liked. But even if I had have done that I may have been tempted by the 'ombres' which is Peaches & Cream speak for variegated colour yarn. Which, in my experience, rarely knits up as nicely as it looks on the ball.

But anyway, now I do 'get' the point of dishcloths. In this age of "cheaper is better", making one's own is a way of at least getting a quality product. And when the resulting colour combination looks like dog up-chuck, one has few compunctions about wiping one's handiwork on the floor!

tea towel 2

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Projects on the go

Ravelry has got a lot to answer for. I spend so much time on it, that my blog has become neglected. I have finally got around to editing this post and uploading photos.

Completed projects
Junior size SES beanie for Phill's son. I have also written up the pattern for the SES beanies, which I found much harder than just knitting the damn things. I am donating it to SES Victoria and will only post it publicly with their permission (they might have problems due to trademarks or security).


Vintage Twist (Cleckheaton)
I bought a lot of this in various colours on sale; it's a self-striping single ply yarn that I suspect will felt beautifully. It's one of those few yarns that looks a lot better knitted up than on the ball. Vintage Twist supposedly knits to its own 'unique' gauge, something between a DK and worsted yarn, which means it isn't great for subbing but 1/ I have the official pattern book and 2/ I have never paid enough attention to gauge to start caring now.

Vintage Twist

I am knitting a twisting curving short-row scarf in the brown colourway for my friend Jackie - the pattern came out of the Cleckheaton book and is probably the first time I've used the recommended yarn for a project. It's a very easy but effective pattern - I love short rows. It kept me sane while attending a conference in Melbourne last week. While I loved knitting the patchwork scarf, I never felt it was truly Jackie's style, whereas this yarn seems to be much more her.

vintage twist Jackie scarf

I am making Iris Schreiber's Flat-Top Modular hat out of the pink colourway for the international stash-buster swap. It's a pattern I've always wanted to try and it uses just 50 grams of yarn. I've tinked the pattern to knit with 90 instead of 84 stitches - if it seems to large I will try and semi-felt it when I've completed it.

vintage twist flat-top hat

Other projects
My flat sold on the weekend for a price I was happy with. Now comes the fun part of buying a new home. We are looking at various options. As long as we are on the train line, I will be happy. Tram travel is unbelievably slow and tedious - it seems amazing that one can travel twice as far by train in less than the time it takes the tram to lumber along.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Stash acknowledged

Obviously I am avoiding doing something very important as today I completed a project I thought could never be completed. I have catalogued and photographed every bit of yarn in my stash. Every lot is in its own clean clear plastic bag. Yes, even those pesky partial skeins of unknown vintage. The messy ones have been rewound into neat little wool cakes on my new whiz-bang yarn winder.

Unknown DK - purple scraps

I'm exhausted. And ashamed at the sheer amount. I had to purchase a Flickr Pro account to handle it all. But still feeling a faint sense of achievement.

Next trick: To knit from the stash before buying any more yarn.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

It's the little things that weigh me down

I'm getting down to the business end of trying to list my stash on Ravelry. Recording the garment-sized lots of yarn might have been confronting but it was relatively easy. 30 balls of black Merino spun, 20 balls of Jo Sharp Viola DK. Ditto for my 'luxury' items - a single skein of Black Bunny Fibre; five balls of Noro Cash Iroha. It was the two tubs full of partial skeins and odds and ends that was too overwhelming to contemplate.

Until I was procrastinating from doing something that was probably more urgent and important. I decided to rewind some of the partial skeins using my lovely new toy, photographed a few of them, and slowly, slowly am working my way through the process of actually listing ALL my yarn in one place and acknowledging just how much I have.

I've signed up for three more knitting swaps - the highly appropriate international stash buster swap and two Australian swaps: 'No Sheep for You' (where you can knit with anything but wool) and the 100 gram challenge.

We're supposed to be blog-stalking each other for these swaps... I've decided whether or not I receive any of the following in the swaps, I will be making myself these items sometime in the future: a cotton tea towel (dishcloths are all rage and I received a useful one last swap but I want something large enough to dry dishes with), some more headbands, another pair of fingerless mitts. As you can see, the focus is on the pragmatic. I've got more than enough hats and scarfs but will undoubtedly continue to make more for myself.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Heading down the slippery slope towards the spinning wheel...

wool winder

A few months ago during one of my buying sprees, I purchased a yarn-winder. Royal pretty much has a monopoly on the market, at least here in Australia. They have a great reputation but it's a lot of money for what is essentially just a few bits of plastic and metal. I couldn't bring myself to spend even more money on a matching swift.

Other more mechanically minded crafters have made their own swifts with bits of wood and/or child's toys. I've settled for the moment for jamming skeins of yarn around my knees or across my chest as I wind.

I was a bit worried that I had essentially p*ssed away $70 on a useless gadget but I've been using it the last few nights to rewind balls of frogged yarn and it is really, really good. Not only does the yarn winder make up nice neat little cakes of yarn that stack nicely, are easy to use and are no longer being pulled out of shape due to over-tight winding, but I find the whole process of turning the handle and feeding the yarn through my fingers very, very soothing.

No wonder people get into spinning. I want to learn to spin now.

Maybe after I move to the new place.

It's not a hat, it' s not a headband, it's a Calorimetry


It's not a hat, it' s not a headband, it's a Calorimetry.

I'm wearing my Calorimetry as I type. It is so comfortable and warm and practical and I know I will be making more of them.

Finally I know what to do with less than a skein of lovely expensive Noro that I don't want waste.

I ended up knitting this in one evening while watching TV. I'm glad I read everyone else's comments about sizing on Ravelry as I ended up casting on just 100 stitches and using 4mm needles and it fits perfectly.

And I think I have enough Cashmere Island left to make up a matching pair of mitts.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Cashmere Island ZigZag scarf finished

cash island 003

It's so soft and squishy! I'm contemplating making a matching Calormetry.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Stashaholic

In preparation for an upcoming move, I have finally put (most of) my stash into storage crates. I have 5, 16-litre plastic boxes literally full of yarn. And this doesn't include my secret stash at work. Or any orders that may or may not still be coming my way.

Ad it's all (well mostly all) good stuff. I discarded the novelty and acrylic crap a long time ago.

Be afraid. Very afraid. I know I am.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Finished object!

ses 002

ses 001

I'm really chuffed how this turned out. But Phill's not getting matching mitts anymore. I have a much better idea for the remaining orange yarn...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

More stash acquisitions - 4-ply yarn

I don't even like sock/fingeringweight/4-ply yarn but I couldn't resist any of the following for a variety of reasons.

Koigu Premium Merino
I had heard so much about this yarn on the knitting blogosphere that when some came up for sale on the Australian Knitters Board, I couldn't resist. It certainly looks and feel gorgeous.

Kauni EQ
Kauni EQ
Shot to fame when the Yarn Harlot knitted a sweater out of this; bought during a 15% off sale at Astrid's Dutch Obsessions. Beautiful rainbow colours tucked inside. The yarn is quite rough to touch but I've read it softens up with washing.

Kauni ET
Kauni ET
The purple, black and grey version. I love the colours, and if I'm paying shipping all the way from Holland for the rainbow Kauni EQ, I might as well get it...

Trekking Hand Art
Trekking Hand Art
Again, I loved the colours, it was 15% off and I had already paid the shipping from Holland.

Grignasco Bambi
This one really wasn't my fault - it was a gift from my last Australian Knitters' Swap partner. But isn't the colour fantastic?

Progress on SES hat

ses hat

My friend Phill is a volunteer with Victoria’s State Emergency Service. Amongst other things, he goes out on the coldest, windiest, wettest nights of the year to help clear trees which are blocking the road or have fallen onto people’s homes. And he doesn’t earn a cent for this community work. So when he asked for a beanie in SES colours, of course I was happy to contribute what I could. The hat is about 80% done. I should have enough orange left over to make a matching pair of mitts.

Too much of a good thing: All the books I ever wanted to read

Last Saturday night I discovered I could reserve books online at my local library. And that they were no longer charging any fees to do so. So I decided to take the opportunity to reserve all the books I could never find at the library because they were always out (like anything by Jodi Picoult) or were located at another branch. I may have gone a little overboard.

By Sunday morning I had an email telling me that 2 of the books were available for collection. I went in and picked them up - a Jodi Picoutl (Vanishing Acts) and 'Pretties' by Scott Westerfeld, the second book in a fantastic trilogy about a futuristic society recovering after the Rusties (that's us) have destroyed the world with a man-made oil bacteria and beautiful white orchid that has become a weed, preventing the growth of other plants. It's kind of an updated Brave New World written for teenagers and it is fantastic.

I finished 'Pretties' on Sunday.

By Sunday evening I had another email from the library. A further 14(!) of my reservations were available for collection, including the 3rd book in the Scott Westerfeld series. Monday morning I had an email, advising me that 2 more books were available for collection.

I finished a mystery-thriller by Jonathan Kellerman (Devils Waltz) that I had borrowed from the library before these reservations, and began 'Vanishing Acts'. I was too late to collect any books from the library (which closes at 6pm on Mondays) but was able to return my 2 completed books.

Today I logged into my email to discover there are now another 2 books waiting for me! I can go to the library tonight (as it is open until 9pm) but how am I going to face the librarian picking up 18 books? Even worse, how am I going to carry them all home on the tram? And read them by all by the due date? I can only keep the books that someone else has reserved for 3 weeks.

And there are still another 12 books on my reservation list that haven't even come in!

I feel a little like I do when I have over-indulged buying excessive amounts of yarn and am facing the credit card, or have eaten an entire block of dark Lindt chocolate on my own. A little sick.

There can be too much of a good thing.

Edited to add:
I went to the library tonight and nearly died of embarrassment. I sorted through all the books that arrived and divided them into two piles. I took out 9 of them and then asked the librarian to return the other 9 to the stacks. I also cancelled all my other reserves in the queue. A total of 12 books over the next 3 weeks may be almost manageable.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Cashmere Island ZigZag modular scarf

Cashmere Island 001

Isn't this blog so much better with pretty pictures! I've finally worked out how to use the new camera and have got myself organised enought to blog from home where I can upload photos (I can only send words and a few hyperlinks when I blog remotely).

Above is the ZigZag modular scarf I am making out of the Noro Cashmere Island yarn I acquired in May. It's the project I drag around in my work bag and occasionally knit a few rows on. I love the pattern and yarn but it has been a very slow knit, always being put aside for another more pressing project or book to read on the crowded tram.

Stash acquisitions and even some knitting

I've been doing a bit too much comfort shopping, acquiring new stash. Highlights include:

Black Bunny
Black Bunny Fibers DK 'Pop Rocks'

Zara Baby Print
Zara Baby Print

Naturally Merino Cashmere
Naturally Merino Cashmere

Loyal - orange
Lots of 8ply/DK wool in a variety of colours bought at the Clegs sale.

This bright orange is for a beanie for my friend Phill. Phill is a volunteer with Victoria’s State Emergency Service. Amongst other things, he goes out on the coldest, windiest, wettest nights of the year to help clear trees which are blocking the road or have fallen onto people’s homes. And he doesn’t earn a cent for this community work. So when he asked for a beanie in SES colours, of course I was happy to contribute what I could.

ses hat
A half-knitted SES hat
(note I am using the new stitch markers I received from knitingjo in the Australian Ravelry swap)

Swap stash

Thank-you to knittingjo for this lovely package I came home to as part of the Ravelry Australian Knitters' 'We've got you covered swap). The most gorgeous fingerless mitts in my favourite colours (purple and pink), some really cute handmade stitch markets in a handy little tin, Grignasco Bambi Merino 4ply yarn, and a new sci-fi book to dive into (great for all my public transport travel).

Funnily enough, I ended up having knitingjo as my downstream partner also. My attempts to replicate some Star Fleet issue mitts turned out a bit wonky - must have been a problem with the power couplings. Still, a fun knit. I'm a bit nervous as she hasn't yet posted that she has received her package yet - hopefully it made it safely to her.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

OMG - Photos!

Fingerless mitts and hot water bottle cover knitted for the Aussie "We've got you covered" Ravelry swap. I still intend to try and incorporate a Star Trek theme somewhere - I've charted the Starfleet logo.

The mitts were a really easy and fun quick knit, very cosy and a great stash-busting project - I will definitely make a pair for myself. As for all the colours - my partner said she liked lots of bright colours all mixed together and I've tried to oblige.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

ANZ rewards for stupidity

I'm very conscientious about paying off my credit card on time, mainly because interest rates on the card are now over 20% - more than twice that of home loan rates and nearly 3 times what the banks will pay depositors parking their money in a term deposit.

I keep on thinking I should change, especially as ANZ Rewards just aren't what they used to be.  We now have to spend $1.50 to get one point (it used to be 1:1).  And one has to wonder about a bank that can't event do basic mathematics.

For 2,660 points, you can get a $20 Myer or David Jones gift card.
For 13,320 points, you can get a $100 Myer or David Jones gift card.
For 13,300 points you can get 5 X $20 Myer or David Jones gift cards

OK, it's only 20 points but that's an extra $30 on the charge.

Do they think their customers are as dumb as they would like them to be?

Believe it or not, this is a massive improvement on their previous "offer" where one could save over 100 points by cashing in for two $50 gift cards instead of one $100 one.

It's also a bit of a scam given that you have to charge close to $20,000 on your card to earn a $100 gift card.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

20-year school reunion

A few weeks ago I went to my 20 year school reunion. Aside from the girls I came with and who I have met up with regularly a couple of times a year, I only recognised a handful of people.  I didn't even recognise many of their names.  Yet there they were in the Year 12 photos, so I know I must have worked and studied alongside them for four years.

Then there were the stuck-up bitches that I did remember - and can report that they still are.

As one friend said, the reunion proved that we had kept up with whom we wanted to keep up with and once every 20 years was more than enough time in regards to the others.

Yet that wasn't quite true either.

I've lost touch with some lovely people who didn't attend the reunion, and there were others I would have been fascinated to see where they have got to.  The internet tells me that Catherine got her well deserved doctorate and has worked in several major universities but now she seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth.  My friend Preethi has also vanished after moving to LA with her husband and doing a fellowship at UCLA.  And what of those girls who would never rock the earth but are the sort of people who ensure it keeps on turning.  What are they doing now?  Where are Michelle and Sarah now?

Many of the girls had their babies in tow or pictures of young kids on hand.  For the most part , girls in our year partnered later in life and had children in their late 20s and 30s.

I was very disappointed to learn that the school brain - we were all smart but she was on another planet compared to the rest of us and was the person we all thought would win a Nobel Prize and change the world - who did attend the reunion, was now working in HR.  What a waste of her talents.  Yet another girl who I had always dismissed as being very silly had clearly found her feet and was in a job managing a department of 70 people!

The most tragic stories belong to a former classmate who committed suicide a couple of years after graduation, and one who had ad either a stroke or some kind of acquired brain injury and was now confined to a wheelchair.

Most of us, however, had muddled through life with some degree of success in academia, careers and/or family.  We didn't all achieve what we had set out to do - but most of us have had a pretty interesting journey along the way.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Good health, so-so knitting, bad blogging

My insulin levels have dropped from 40+ (very very bad) to 6 (very very good) over the past 4 months.  I guess there is something in that resistance training. 

My favourite four-year old rejected the Cash Island hat on the basis that he has plenty of hats, much to his parents' horror.  Got to love the honesty of kids!  I'm trying to work out if it is worth unravelling.  The ZigZag scarf in the same yarn is progressing nicely.  I alternate between knitting it and reading on the trams.  So far, reading is winning.

The official recipient of the pink merino supreme wool hat didn't turn up to the final sessions of our group.  I ended up donating it to another girl whose sister is going through chemotherapy.  I then felt obliged to knit another hat for the girl who missed out on her kris kingal gift - she is a red head, so pink wasn't suitable.  I have made a nice browny tweed beanie out of Cleckheaton Country Silk.  Both J and another male friend are eyeing it and she didn't sound too thrilled about brown, so the question is, can I be bothered knitting a third hat in green.

I've started a nice brightly striped hot water bottle cosy for my Aussie Knitters' swap pal using 8-ply yearn from my stash!  Yay.  I still want to do something Star-Trekkie but am not sure what exactly.

I have been admirably restrained during the Clegs 10% off all yarn sale.  I bought an extra ball of the brown Cleckheaton Country Silk (to make a second beanie) and two balls of Naturally ME merino/cashmere in green.  I won't mention any purchases that may or may not have been made at the Tapestry Craft sale that may or may not have involved 30 balls of discontinued black merino supreme wool...

I haven't been doing too much of this.  Still having trouble uploading photos.  But that's no excuse for not writing.

Now that the Big Girls' Group is over, I need to ensure I keep effective exercise up.  I'm walking with the girls once a week and trying to get to the gym 2-3 times.  I did a BodyStep class last week which was pretty full on; I did half of it off the step but at least I kept moving.  I've bought a fit ball and pumped it up; now to exercise properly on that!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Some completed projects (knitting and otherwise...)

Well all my resolutions to sit down at home and upload photos onto my blog were thwarted by Blogger last night , which steadfastly refused to accept any pictures.  So until I can get myself organised and Blogger in a cooperative mood, myself, the bots and anyone who stumbles onto this site is stuck with mere words.

Projects completed:

The Patchwork Scarf - which has also been given to its new owner, only six weeks after her birthday.  I have photos of both the scarf and the approximately 5 million yarn ends that had to be sewn in - fortunately this could be done while watching several episodes of Star Trek Voyager.

A 2X2 ribbed hat in pale pink Merino Supremo (80 stitches, 5mm needles).  This is a gift for one of the other girls in the program at Royal Women's Hospital.  It's all drawing to a close this week and we are doing a "Kris Kringle" style gift giving ceremony tonight.  We had to choose a gift costing $10 and explain why we chose it for that person.  I was lucky; my nominee sometimes wears a pale pink top and the very first time I saw it, I thought "I have some yarn exactly that colour in my stash".  The Merino Supremo usually retails for $7.95/ball but I obtained mine for half-price as the yarn is being discontinued (I don't know why; it is so soft and luscious to knit with).  Anyway, I had exactly two balls plus a few scraps of pink Merino Supremo and I've noticed that nearly everyone has a use for a woolly beanie at some stage.  My nominee also catches a lot of public transport and we are heading into winter now.

We had an "unofficial" gift-exchange on the weekend.  One of the girls organised an Intimo lingerie party on the weekend with a consultant who specifically caters for larger sizes.  I ended up buying a matching pewter-coloured bra and undies set.  Plus received a free pair of beige - or honey as they call it - knickers.  I was really sceptical as to whether there would be anything in my size but they seem to go in for vanity sizing  - everything is cut at least one size bigger than is usual - I wasn't even the largest size.

A few of us had also cleared out our wardrobes of anything that was either too big or too small or that we just didn't wear but was still in good condition.  One girl had a huge suitcase full of clothes in sizes 14-26 due to a hormonal condition that led her on a roller-coaster experience of body sizes.  I brought a regular shopping bag full of mostly unworn clothes, all too big, and some still with tags.  I wasn't expecting to bring anything home but ended up with a jacket, 2 jumpers, a cardigan, a couple of tops, 2 skirts and some pants.  Many were in styles I would never have considered buying for myself but were quite flattering.  It wasn't until I was trying on item after item of clothes in sizes 16-20 which fit me - and had to discard several lovely tops that were just way too big for me now, that it finally dawned on me that I must have lost some fat (I won't say weight as there has not been much movement there).  I had already noticed that more than half the clothes I had bought recently at the MySize sale were a little on the large side but it wasn't until this weekend that I appreciated that I really and truly was a "new" size (albeit one that would be considered way too large for comfort by most but who cares).

I had my "end of program" blood tests also this weekend and am really curious to know whether they will show any improvements.  I've decided I won't be too fazed whatever the numbers are because, after all, they are just numbers, and I feel so much fitter and healthier anyway.  I was just very relieved I didn't have to do a glucose tolerance test for diabetes (where you drink a huge revolting sugar drink and have blood taken over a three hour period to see how your body responds to it).

I wrote some feedback on the program but am not sure whether I will post it on this blog.  Overall it's been great but I could see a couple of places for improvement; while most of the staff were fantastic and focussed on empowering us so we could take responsibility for our own health and work towards being as happy and healthy and active as we can, a session with one of the doctors who focussed only the negativities of being overweight without any of the information that I know is out there about the benefits of making small incremental changes was very depressing and negative.  Rather than inspiring us to make positive changes, we then had to (again) fight against the "there's no point even trying; I can't loose 40kg" feelings that exacerbated many of our weight issues in the first place.  I still haven't lost that 40kg but I know I am much healthier and more active now than at the start of the program.  Which was actually the point.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Trekkie knitting

I am so excited.  My partner for the 3rd Australian knitters swap is a genuine Trekkie.  In her "information about myself blurb" she talks about knitting her way through 5 years worth of Farscape over an eight week period (while waiting for her son to be born).  And that she thinks Captain James T Kirk is a hot spunk.

I have twice now knitted my way through 5 years worth of Babylon Five watched over a very short period.  I think I've been granted a kindred spirit.

So I've been downloading Star Trek graphics and am considering how to turn them into knitting charts.  I know this is one partner I can make the perfect knitted gift for without spending a lot of dosh.

I really enjoyed the first Aussie Knit swap; with the second I think neither myself not my recipient was overly-enthused with what we received (I still have to rid my house of the novelty yarn sent with the crocheted bag) and I was umm-ing and ah-ing about whether to join swap number three.

I'm glad I did.  If I can work out a decent pattern of a communicator or the Star Fleet insignia, I will put it up for other fans to play with.

And we will all be very very happy.

In the beginning... there was an original and thought-provoking novel

I heard New Zealand author Bernard Beckett being interviewed on ABC National radio about his novel, Genesis, and knew I had to read it.  I have always loved good, speculative "what if" science fiction that forces us to explore who we are in a universal sense of the word.  And this sounded like an excellent example.

I was not disappointed.  The nearest comparison I can make is John Wyndham or Ursula le Guin.  I don't want to write what it is about because I could not do justice to the story, nor do I wish to give away any of the twists and turns.  This blurb is as good an introduction as any.

Genesis is a thriller that asks the big questions: What is it to be human? What makes a soul?

I am not surprised that the novel won the Young Adult Category in the 2007 NZ Post Book Awards for Children & Young Adults. In 2008 it deservedly made publishing history when the UK publisher Quercus Books offered the largest advance ever put forward for a young adult novel in New Zealand. I am delighted that the novel, also published in Australia, is to be released in the UK as two separate editions: adult and young adult, and is also to be published in the US, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Canada, and Finland. 

It deserves a wide audience.

Monday, May 19, 2008


Aussie dollar hits 24-year high
The rising Aussie has doubled in value against the US dollar in seven years, consistently defying expectations of a levelling off....
The Age, 19 May 2008, 12.02pm


Knitting New Scarves: 27 Distinctly Modern Designs
Including FREE international shipping
The Book Depository, UK

I hate eczema

I don't know whether it is the chemicals on the machine washable wool, a slight cold or the change in the weather but my eczema has broken out again.  This time only on my right hand, on the thumb and three middle fingers.

I have lost so much skin that my thumb surface is cracked and bleeding.

After trying a range of expensive over-the-counter and prescription creams I have discovered that the best treatment is the relatively cheap (less than $10 for a 375ml pump bottle) Vaseline Intensive Care aloe vera replenishing moisturiser.  It has so few active ingredients that even the supermarkets can sell it.

J is insisting that I put aside my knitting until my hands heal, which is a sensible suggestion.  However I am a knitter and not always sensible.  I have put on bandaids and discovered that knitting with the expensive cashmere blend yarn is not aggravating my hands.

I knew there was a good reason I should buy it.

Knitting butter

Now I know what other knitters mean when they say cashmere is like butter.  Noro Cash Island is 30% cashmere and it is the softest yarn I have ever encountered.  Knitting it is like sinking your fingers into rich, high quality butter.  Minus the greasy oily feel.

There is very little stitch definition - I suspect cable and lace stitches would be lost in this yarn.  I'm also interested to see how hard wearing - or not - the fabric turns out to be.

I tried knitting the Head Huggers Spiral Knit Cap as I thought it would showcase the colour changes of this yarn.  I should have followed my instincts that said that casting on 30 stitches was simply too few to make an adult-sized hat.  I can just squeeze the hat over my head, but it is really child sized.  I am also far from impressed by the look of the asymmetrical join.  I will be passing this hat onto my favourite four-year-old who will not appreciate the yummy expensive goodness of this yarn but will hopefully enjoying wearing it in all its soft glory.  At least I only used up one ball of yarn!  (Pictures to be added later)

If I knit this style again, I will probably cast on about 45-50 stitches and knit about 100 rows.  I'll use a provisional cast-on and join using the Kitchener stitch.

My next use of this yarn will be for the ZigZag modular scarf.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Materialism gone mad

No pretty pictures today but lots of links (I'm blogging remotely).

I'm still working my way through the patchwork scarf.  It looks great but I'm dreading weaving all the ends in.

As usual, I am acquiring yarn faster than I can knit it.  I obtained 5 lovely skeins of Noro Cashmere Island in the purples/greens/greys/black colourway from  A strong Australian dollar combined with free international shipping made this one bargain I couldn't resist.  And then I couldn't resist buying 5 skeins of a royal blue/purple Noro Cash Iroha that were on sale on eBay.  Damn Ravelry and all the users who point out all the yarn bargains.

Last week I went to Sydney for work, so of course I had to visit Tapestry Craft and see it in its yummy tempting best.  I managed to keep my purchases to a mere 2 balls of purple Zara (are we seeing a colour theme here?)  It turned out that I could buy the same yarn, even in the same colour, for $2 less a ball in Melbourne (at Clegs) but I met the lovely beckar who's on Ravelry.  One must be polite - and at least this is one souvenir I am confident of using.  Or at least petting and looking at  with pleasure.

Speaking of Clegs, I went in to buy some 4.5mm circulars (40cm and 80cm) for the Noro yarns and somehow a few balls of Cleckheaton Machine Wash in discontinued colours (pinks, blues, greens and brown) fell into my shopping basket.  They were only $2.50/ball.  And I really have to knit another jumper for my favourite four-year-old boy.

I had just resolved to STOP SHOPPING when news broke of a 30%-off clearance sale at MySize.  I forwarded the news to all my size 14-26 friends but unfortunately they hadn't cleared out the store by the time I arrived.  I found my favourite hot pink tops reduced to $15.95 each (from $50) - so I bought all 4 in my size); 2 black dresses that were 80% off and actually fitted me, and an assortment of other pink, black and purple tops.  In the end I spent $221 and bought 11 items.  They were genuine bargains and clothes which I would actually wear (in fact I'm wearing one of the new pink tops today) and I did resist buying some other items that I wanted but didn't need.

At home I decided it was time to toss out all my old clothes that were so scungy that I didn't even wear them as 'slobbing around the house clothes'.  It felt so good to bundle them up in bags and replace them with lovely comfy new clothes.

On Ravelry I received a message from another knitter who wanted to trade for the 11 balls of Merino Spun that I bought earlier this year and then regretted, because although it was a great bargain, it was far too bulky for a jumper for me.  I'm getting 4 100-gram skeins and hand-dyed DK yarn in return.  At the very least it will take up less space.  And I am more likely to actually use the yarn.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

I'm dreaming of a white May...

Believe it or not, this photo was taken at noon in suburban Melbourne, Australia on Friday 2 May 2008. It's hailstones, not snow, from a fairly severe thunderstorm. Being Melbourne, within an hour the sun was shining brightly and the hail had mostly melted away.