Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Admitting a problem is the first step towards a cure

Last night I began the slow process of starting to catalogue my yarn stash on Ravelry. By this I mean I opened the door of the spare bedroom, pulled the nearest half-dozen representatives of my yarn stash out and realised that this barely touched the surface of my collection.

BUT I figure that even if I only photograph one yarn a night and list it on Ravelry, I will eventually come closer to my goal of acknowledging what I have and working out what I want to do with it all. Knitting from the stash instead of buying more yarn, is probably a good first step!

While photographing the yarn, I made another discovery. Our clunky digital camera which was state-of-the-art five years ago, has less resolution than the average pre-paid phone camera today. Now I know a poor workman blames his tools and I don't think anything will make me a great photographer but I've resolved to put aside the money I would otherwise spend on yarn towards a new, slimline and more powerful digital camera. Standards keep rising and new technology comes out every day, but I think it is time to update.

Catalogued to date:
  • 1 skein/50 grams purple Bamboozle (bamboo/cotton yarn) received in tea cosy swap
  • 1 skein/100 grams purple/green Noro sock yarn bought via the Australian Knitters' Board bulk order
  • 1 skein/200 grams Russet (reddy brown) 12-ply Bendigo Rustic wool received in exchange for a ridiculously long Addi needle that I never used
  • 11 skeins/1100 grams Petrol-coloured (greeny blue) Cleckheaton Merino Spun yarn bought at Cleggs sale last week ($3.95/ball - down from RRP $7.95)
  • 6 skeins/300 grams purple/pink Mondial Bizarre yarn bought from Tapestry Craft clearance sale ($5/ball - down from RRP $13.85)
  • 15 skeins/750 grams dark green and white fleck Cleackheaton Snowlflake - gift from non-knitting friend
  • 2 partial balls (maybe 80 grams) blue and white fleck Cleackheaton Snowlflake - gift from non-knitting friend

  • Melbourne goth/emo scarf using 200 gram hank of JJ's Montage wool in Blackberry. 31 stitches in mistake rib (Every row *k2, p2* repeat to final 3 stitches, k3) on 5.5 mm needles. Unfortunately the colour ran a bit so my bamboo needles have a dirty grey tinge to their tips. Great colours, though!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Deafness is no impediment to knitting

I really haven't had a good last couple of months.  I've just spent most of the Australia Day weekend dealing with a major ear infection.  J took some really gross photos of the yellow stuff coming out but I won't inflict them upon any readers who stumble upon this blog.  The good news is that the antibiotics seems to be finally winning.  The pain subsided in time for me to enjoy a traditional Australia Day BBQ - complete with gourmet lamb and rosemary sausages - with our friends.  The bad news is that I am still completely deaf in my right ear. I'm assuming this will be only a temporary inconvenience.

In knitting news, I did a test knit and felt with the New Zealand mohair yarn.  I was a bit worried as it was only about 80% animal product but it seems to have worked.  My test swatch (knitted on 7.5mm needles) shrunk about 18% (after about 3 cycles in the washing machine), which was less than I expected, but at least I have a fair idea of what to expect.  Now to decide upon a pattern.

I've knitted just over a metre of the Melbourne goth scarf; it's been a very easy knit and if anything the yarn has softened with use.  It's not merino-soft but it's certainly fine for a scarf.  I've been advised that true Melbourne goth colours would be blood-red and black, but last time I looked there were plenty of black and purple-clad white-faced black-haired youngsters hanging around Flinders Street Station.  Maybe I should rename it the Melbourne 'emo' scarf. Whatever*

Speaking of merino, somehow 11 balls of 'petrol' (dark greeny blue) coloured Cleckheaton Merino Spun jumped into my backpack at the recent Cleggs (no website) sale.  It was a great bargain ($3.95/100 gram ball, marked down from $7.95) and I love the colour but I'm already wondering about the wisdom of the purchase.  It's a very bulky wool (recommended needles are 6mm), so while it will be a quick knit, I don't think it will make a very flattering jumper for someone of my size. Also, while it is 80% Merino wool, I'm not so sure about the 20% acrylic.  I guess I'll knit a sample swatch and try out a few stitches before deciding what to do with it next.

Belated resolution for 2008. Catalogue my stash on Ravelry.  Hopefully this will help reign in my yarn-buying tendencies.  And I might even be able to flog off some of the unwanted stuff to other knitters.

*Gen-Y speak for 'Bite Me'

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Melbourne goth scarf

I was never a goth (too blonde hair and too fond of daylight hours, although I do have the white skin even without make-up) but I've always secretly loved goth fashion. It's timeless. The goths in Melbourne today dress exactly like the goths I knew back in the 1980s who apparently dressed exactly like their 1970s counterparts.

Earlier this year I purchased some Blackberry JJ's Montage Wool at Tapestry Craft's 20% off everything sale. The colour is very goth and very Melbourne - rich dark purples and blacks and greys. The wool itself is a little tough and scratchy but I decided it would be fine for a scarf.

From experience I know there is little point doing cables on dark variegated yarn - all the detail is lost. So it's just a very simple, 'mistake rib' pattern, perfect knitting for my travels to and from work. (31 stitches on 5.5mm bamboo needles; Every row: *k2 p2* repeat - k final stitch).

Tempted as I am to keep the scarf for myself, I will probably pass it onto a friend who even though she is in her 30s and a mum still clings to her black and purple clothes and make-up. It would be cruel to deprive her. And I wouldn't want to wear the scarf myself if it was covered in her drool.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Lollipop socks finished

Yarn: Opal 6-ply
Needles: 3.0mm Addi DPNs
Own pattern: Toe-up; 56 stitches, plain foot, 2X2 ribbed calf.

In retrospect, I made these too large for my feet - but they are warm!

Giving in to temptation

I am going to have to ban myself from the knitting social network site Ravelry; it is seriously detrimental to my financial health and is sabotaging all my attempts to declutter and resist materialism.  There is too much temptation as every single yarn sale in Australia (and beyond) ends up being posted there.  I can't knit as fast as I acquire yarn. I bought another six balls of Mondial Bizarre (regularly $13.85, on sale for $5 at Tapestry Craft) yesterday – with the encouragement of J.  The most mind-blowing thing was when I googled for images of the yarn (because I wanted to see larger pics of the colourways) the very first image that came up was a scarf I had knitted up last year out of the yarn.  I couldn't believe the picture on my little blog was ranked ahead of the company's own website or the many stores that carry the yarn.  It kind of freaked me out.

So anyway, I bought 6 balls of the purple/pink colourway which undoubtedly will become a hat/scarf set for me.  If I ever get to it.  Firstly I have to start (and finish) the Bag Lady swap bag (and no I haven't yet done a test knit/felt...) and then I have a couple more started UFOs to consider. The good news is that I am one cast-off row from finishing the Lollipop socks, thanks to some determined focussed knitting in front of the TV/DVD player and at lunchtime at work.  Pics to follow shortly...

Friday, January 18, 2008

Back to normality...

The temperature has dropped below 35 degrees, I've returned to work and the gym this week and re-discovered how to turn a sock heel.  Life is back to normal.  I like it this way.

I would like to say that my blogging slackness has been due to an excess of knitting or even vast amounts of time spent of Ravelry.  The latter is a little true, but the biggest time waster has been a deceptively simple "match-three" computer game bought over summer.  (Google 'Big Fish Games' if you are interested in cheap, addictive computer puzzle games; you can try virtually all of them for an hour for free before deciding if you want to buy; I spent more than six months just playing free trials before deciding to part with some cash).  I reached level 99 last night - I'm hoping once I crack the final level, I will no longer feel so compelled to sit at the computer clicking away.

I am now over half-way through my second Lollipop sock - the heel is properly turned with no holes - in fact I think it is the best short-row heel I've knitted to date.  I now have the tediousness of ribbing K2P2 the entire leg.  I hate ribbing but for me at least it provides the best and most comfortable fitting sock and the pattern is so simple that I can't stuff it up; I know I will love wearing these socks once I've finished and I know have less than one half a sock to go and because I'm knitting in one of the self-striping yarns it is fun to play the game of knitting "just up to the end of this patch of colour... well maybe to the end of the blue section, etc".

After I finish the sock, I have to start on the bag I am committed to making for the Ravelry Australian Knitters Bag Lady swap.  The organisers have kindly matched me up with someone else who also likes purple and I STILL have a heap of purple/pink mohair in my stash.  So providing the eczema stays away, I'm thinking of  doing a test knit/felt swatch with this (hey, there is a first time for everything). 

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I don't get it...

Imagine you were in charge of an island that was home to a world-famous little penguin colony, the largest seal population in the Southern hemisphere (that has been rescued from the brink of extinction) and an important koala conservation centre. Hundreds of thousands of people visit each year to enjoy these features plus pristine beaches catering to both families and surfers. What do you think would be a good attraction to augment these features?

Some idiot decided that this would be the perfect location for a motor racing circuit...

Fortunately there were no races on when J and I visited; however the tacky discount souvenir shops and Grand Prix merchandising stores have moved into the main township of Cowes.

J & I were staying at the opposite end of the island at a gorgeous B&B. Smiths Beach was mere seconds from our back door, a short walk down the dunes. It was a bargain 'last minute' accomodation deal from; 5-star views and location for a 3-star price. We had a great time doing all the usual touristy things (penguins, seals, koalas, walking on the beach, eating...); the perfect end to my 5-week break from work.

Monday, January 07, 2008

ADHD Knitter

I've been a bit all over the place in terms of my knitting the past few weeks and slack with my blogging. Nothing particularly wrong; just the holidays and the lack of structure that comes with them as well as Melbourne's foray into the very hot summer climate territory (we hit 40+ on a few days). I can't seem to concentrate on anything.

The above is a partial demonstration of what I've achieved.
1/ Cast-on and managed 1 1/2 pattern repeats of the Swallowtail Shawl (the hot pink yarn). Have ripped back the next row at least 3 times. Will try again when I have enough sleep and it isn't so hot.

2/ Cast-on and began second lollipop sock. All went well until the the heel-shaping where I seem to have forgotten how to pick up the short-row stitches without creating holes. Need to re look-up technique but can't get up enthusiasm for this at the moment.

3/ Purchased a "Frilled Lizard" sock kit at the Sunday craft market at the Arts Centre. Wool is unbelievably soft, very lightly spun, 95% merino/5% angora and totally unsuitable for socks. Spend half-an-hour on the internet working out how to convert grams to ounces and discover that yes, I have enough yarn to make the February Baby's jacket in Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitters Almanac. (The fact that none of my friends are pregnant at the moment is irrelevant; the jacket will eventually be put to good use). Cast on but lose enthusiasm once I reach the pattern section. I can't seem to focus on even the simplest pattern without mucking up at the moment.

4/ Reading. Yes, I can still do this. Receive and read my copy of Crazy Aunt Purl's Drunk Divorced and Covered in Cat Hair in one sitting. It is easy reading, it is well-written; it is compulsively page-turning; it is a combination of funny and gut-wrenching sad (but ultimately triumphant). It has also been edited to within an inch of its life which means (on the plus side) it tells a coherent story following a normal time line but it loses some of the spontaneity of the blog.

I also read It's My Party and I'll Knit if I Want To which J picked up on the $5 discount table at Angus and Robertson. Again it's easy reading, a light-hearted, well-written personal but also well-researched look at the re-emergence of the knitting craze in Australia in the early 2000s. I enjoy it as I recognised many of the shops, groups and even individuals mentioned, but it is already slightly dated and probably of limited interest to anyone living outside the Melbourne-Sydney-Canberra triangle.

I've been doing a reasonable amount of non-knitting reading including Sophie's World, which is basically an accessible guide and summary of the history of philosophy. I wasn't expecting to find the book as compelling as it has been. But it is a slow read.

5/ Spending way too much time on the internet, particularly Ravelry. At the last minute I decided to join the Australian Bag Lady swap, which means I will have to finish at least one project this year. I also put up some unwanted acrylic yarn and two very long (150cm) Addi needles that I never use on the swap page and was surprised to find them snapped up in exchange for Bendigo rustic yearn, Opal sock yarn and some bamboo yarn.

J and I are off to Phillip Island tomorrow, so it'll probably be another week before I post again.