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.