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.