Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Plying Update

Here are the three possibilities from spinning this fleece. From left to right: Dark and Light plied together, just the light and just the dark. Could not find any storage bobbins anywhere, mustn't be much demand around here. So, I will have to ply as I go. I think I will work through the dark, as there is more of it, until I have a sweaters worth. Then the light, until I have a sweaters worth. Then with whats left I will combine to make a quantity of the mixed. I just want minimum wastage and maximum product out of this fleece, I really love the colors.

Plying Dilemma

After washing all the fleece and spreading it all out on the table, I split the batch into 2, one half the lighter fleece, the other darker. Here you can see the differences.
Only problem is now I'm not sure what to do with them. I think I want a batch of dark, a batch of light and a mixed batch. But although I think I will have enough fleece, I'm not sure. The goal is to get at least 2, preferably 3 sweaters out of this fleece. With about 3kgs or 6.6 lbs or 105 oz. either way alot of spinning!

I am going to try to locate some storage bobbins today, not sure if I'll have much luck, and try to get some organisation and planning done with all the singles. I like the idea of spinning all your singles before plying, so you can balance out changes in your spinning and get a yarn that is even and the weight you need. I don't have a bobbin winder either, but I'm sure I can figure out a way around that.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Frogging Back

Over the last few days, when I have had the chance to knit, I have picked up my striped, raglan, top-down, V-neck sweater and knit a few rounds. Things were going well, I tried it on regularly to ensure the shaping was working, and it seemed fine. But once I had done the inch or so of straight knitting for the waist, before you begin the hip increases, I realised that the sweater was just not sitting right and I had put the decrease bust shaping in the wrong place. I had also somehow ended up with more stitches on the back of the sweater than the front, and it was bunching up a bit. So later today  plan to rip back to just before the bust shaping began and try again. I don't want to, but I can tell I will not be happy if I leave it as is.

So rather than continue on last night after driving Mum home, I did some spinning and worked a bit on my socks. They have been on the needles forever, so maybe I should try to finish them up by the end of the year. My feet no longer get itchy in my handknit socks, which is great. I now find that if I wear cotton store-bought socks, my feet freeze. I now need the warmth and thickness that the handknit socks provide. Which I love because I do get a kick out of seeing the colours when I see my feet. A lot more interesting than white cotton socks.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Another Christmas Over

And now with all the festivities over, Christmas is finished for another year. Kids are happy, lots of pressies, I am happy, lunch was a success and my knitted gifts were a success too. And now, with all the chaos over, leftovers for dinner for the nxt few days, I am hoping to finally get some knitting and spinning in, because I sure haven't had much opportunity in the last few days, but at least those days flew.

And now, it is time to start contemplating my goals and objectives for the new year in regards to health, wellbeing and work. All three make up a person and I like to look into all three when I reevaluate things at this time of year.  Health generally includes a promise for healthier eating, more exercise and looking after myself. Wellbeing is things that make me happy, knitting, spinning, reading, anything that I do to keep myself feeling sane and well. Work..........in the past this has included focussing on the kids such as when they were babies, studying or looking for work. The part of our lives we are obligated to do to survive.

There is also the aims we have as a family for our household, as a couple and just for the kids. Either way I love the idea of a fresh start even if it is just another day.

Friday, December 24, 2010

My Birthday Present to me......Finished Cleaning Fleece!

Yesterday was my 28th birthday, only 2 years off 30! Although you may think that would scare me, I'm actually excited about getting closer to thirty, I think there will be certain changes in personal growth/perspectives/opinions that can only come with age. After all, I know I am not the person I was in my teens, so how could you expect to be the same in your 30's as in your 20's? Personally, I love change. I embrace it.

My birthday gift to myself was not planned, although certainly hoped for. I had the goal of finishing washing all of Ebony's fleece before Christmas, as I am hosting and I didn't want wet fleece covering surfaces. And to my pleasant surprise, the last few batches (had to do it in batches in a bucket.....no top loader washing machine) finished drying yesterday. In time for me to enjoy looking at all the clean, washed fleece spread out over a table.

I managed to seperate it into 2 pillowcases, one bag lighter fleece, the other darker. I think I will try to spin them seperately and ply them together. I tried weighing it all, and although not overly accurate, I have about 3kgs of grey fleece. That should keep me spinning for a while! I have no idea the breed, only that it belonged to an ewe, the staple is quite long and the color variations in the fleece are gorgeous.

So Happy Birthday me! 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Baking with the Kids!

So today was spent baking Christmas cookies, to enjoy in the lead up and on the day. Although the kids don't really get into the baking side yet, Miss C loves to help decorate them. I keep Mr N away most of the time, he just tends to make a giant mess and the product ends up a disaster, but he is only 3.
So first is the classic shortbread. I made two batches today, one using cornflour and the other using rice flour. I did not like the rice flour shortbread as much. So,  will stick to the cornflour version.

Next came the classic Christmas Trees. We make these every year, just plain vanilla biscuits, cut with christmas tree shapes and then iced with green icing. We then decorated them with colored choc chips and melted chocolate for the trunk. Very yummy and loved by the kids.

These starts were meant to be white, with the metallic cake decorations on them, but we made a decision to make them red, as red is a christmassy color and Mr N's favourite color. And he loves the stars. Although they look more orange in this photo!

And finally, the grown-ups get their own christmas bells, coffee biscuits topped with melted dark chocolate and sprinkled with icing sugar. Absolutely delicious and perfect for the coffee lover, or someone with a more mature palette. Not as sweet as the others, but definately rich!

I think I am done with the baking for now, and the next few days will be about ensuring I have everything I need for christmas lunch, including food and decorations. The turkey is defrosting in the fridge, presents are all wrapped, so there's not too much left to do in the next few days.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Last Minute Christmas Knitting

It came to my realisation that I have knit a cardigan for my mum, a sweater vest for my father-in-law, and a shawl for my mother-in-law. So who's missing? Dad! I felt terrible and since it is now less than a week til Christmas I think I'd better get moving. So I decided upon a cabled beanie and matching fingerless mitts. Although it is the wrong season, I hope he will find them beneficial in winter, especially when he takes the dog for a walk.

On another note I have been looking at knit toy patterns, and I am very fussy about the ones I like. I don't like the ones that look like a 5 minute knit sewn up and called a toy. I like the toys that look like animals, have many design techniques involved and that look really really cute. Although both my kids are past the soft toy stage, I am thinking about making some for the Christmas Tree Donations at the department stores next Christmas. That way I get to experience the fun of making these toys and know that they will be going to less fortunate kids.

Friday, December 17, 2010

First Bobbin of Ebony

Here are a few pictures of my first bobbin of Ebony, the fleece I recently bought off ebay. Although she was named as a black sheep, only the skirted parts of the fleece were actually black. The rest is a combination of grey, brown and sun-bleached tips.
 This photo shows the most accurate color of the fleece, and as you can see it is spinning up nicely and evenly and I haven't even had to prepare it beyond washing the fleece. To wash it I have soaked small portions in a laundry bag, in a tub with Earth Choice dishwashing detergent. It is gentle and safe and has worked really well. I usually do 3 loads with the detergent and a final rinse soak. The fleece has come out clean and in excellent, ready to use condition.
I am very pleased with the results of this spinning as well as the color. I really hope that I will be able to use the finished product for a sweater or cardigan or other big project. I am loving the color!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Quality fibre equals quality spinning

Ok, so I was having a nightmare trying to spin up the white fleece I had washed and flicked for spinning. I am able to spin it, but with the staple length being quite short and there being lots of little lumps/pill type things, I kept having to rejoin the fleece and accidentally overspinning it and ending up with a very multi-textured yarn. So not happy. I was beginning to think that perhaps spinning is not for me, that I can't seem to create a yarn that has any consistancy in thickness or twist.

But before I gave up entirely, I decided to put up a new bobbin and try the grey fleece I have been washing that I bought off ebay for a steal, $20 and it's the whole fleece from a black/grey sheep. A lot got removed with the skirting, but I sill have a massive quantity of a gorgeous colour fleece. It is mostly a steel grey, with darker sections and lighter, where it was sun-bleached. So I pulled some out and realised that it didn't really need to be carded/flicked/combed, that the locks are already very open, and although I haven't measured, the staple seems very long. So I threaded it up and started and it was delightful! It was so smooth, spun up so easily, and the single I was creating looks lovely and uniform in twist and thickness.

As an added bonus, the color changes have all blended together nicely to create a stunning rustic grey combination that I am truly in love with. And my love for spinning has grown. I was truly feeling the satisfaction that I'm sure spinning provides others, and felt very proud of what was lying on the bobbin. Tonight I intend to spin more of this grey so I can ply it up soon and see what the final result looks like.

As for the white fleece, I'm not sure what to do with it. Whether I should continue on spinning as much as I can and use the rest as stuffing for a toy or cushion, or to just throw it away. But I don't like throwing anything away even if it is doing my head in, so I will think about it and decide later. But the idea of cushion filling may be the most logical and least painful option!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

FO - Wave Shawl

A few days ago I completed the Wave Shawl for my mother-in-law. Must say that the edging felt like it took forever, and that I was getting nowhere.......fast. A few times I was developing a strong dislike for this project, it was just taking forever. But eventually I decided to just power through and finish it and not do anything else until it was done.
 Then I blocked it and I have deceided I am really pleased with this shawl, I love the lace design and although the size is too big for me, I'm not really the sort to wrap a shawl around myself quite that much, it is still lovely. My mother-in-law, being larger should hopefully find it a very comfortable size and I really hope she likes it.
 The original shawl pattern included a sleeve, but I didn't like that idea. I wanted a more classic design, but I liked the size of this pattern and the lace edging. I think the rows of eyelets indicating the increases looks nice, it provides a narrowing effect across the shoulders and chest area.
After I memorised the lace pattern, it really flew off the needles. I am very very pleased with the way the edging blocked out and the little points I decided on. I think I may be ready to take on a larger and more complicated lace pattern now, either as a shawl or another cardigan for myself. I am eyeing the Girl Friday pattern from Knitty, an online knitting magazines with many fabulous patterns. And also the Ms Clarke shawl which looks relatively simple.....but so pretty.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Elbow deep in Fleece

When I got the spinning wheel I was also given a white fleece. It is this fleece I have spent all week washing and flicking and preparing for spinning. It has most likely been washed before, it wasn't as dirty, greasy or smelly as I expected, but either way I figured it's a great learning experience. So now all the white fleece is washed, half is flicked, a quarter waiting to be flicked and a quarter still drying.

On ebay earlier this week I was able to buy a full fleece, black/grey for $20. It has been shorn off the sheep, appropriately named Ebony, and then I acquired it. I have skirted it already, but I think I can skirt more. I may also have to remove some of the tips which are sun bleached and take away from the beauty of the natural color. Starting today I will begin washing it in batches, as I did the white fleece as I have a front loader washing machine, and I figure this will give me the opportunity to skirt as I go.

I have finished the brown roving I was given to spin, and I think this second attempt at spinning and plying was a bit more consistant than my first attempt. Although I did notice some big inconsistancies as I was plying. When I had completed the plying I still had some single on a bobbin so I decided to try out navaho plying. I saw a video on youtube and thought I'd give it a go. I think I actually prefer it to 2 ply. I liked the finished product better, it had less thin/thick parts and was fun to do.

So now to go start cleaning Ebony's fleece and flick out the white fleece......I would call her Ivory but we all know I will be dyeing her soon enough!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Frantic Christmas Knitting

I have never had a good relationship with my in-laws, and that is part of the reason why I decided to knit gifts for them this year. Whether they love them or not, they can at least see the time and effort I put in as a kind of let bygones be bygones sentiment. And as December has crept up on me ( last I checked I still had ages til Christmas) I have frantically been trying to finish my mother-in-laws shawl so that I can attempt to make a shawl (small) for the great-grandmother(s).

Crazy isn't it, but I think that there is nothing more difficult than shopping for people over 80. They have everything, they are very specific with gifts, eg. can't bath, so no bath products, food restrictions, immobility etc. But I figure a nice shawl for the women and a lapghan (crochet) for the grandfather, should not only keep them happy but be greatly appreciated. I just hope I don't start a trend for an expectation of knitted gifts. It won't always happen. Plus I have too much I want to make for myself.

So, I will work frantically on the shawl's edging lace and then block it. Hopefully by tomorrow (Hopeful much?) And then I will go through my stash and find yarn and a pattern for a simple, quick knit shawl requiring about 400meters. As for my sock, still travel knitting, and my striped raglan, languishing in the corner.

Friday, December 3, 2010

My First Completed Spinning Project

Here are photos of my first completed skeins of yarn, plied and washed.

 As you can see in this close up, the consstancy leaves a lot to be desired, but I did it! Still pleased, even if I'm not sure if I'll make anything out of it.
I began spinning a new bobbin last night and am very impressed with the consistancy and thinness I have acheived.....maybe there is hope for me yet!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Boiled Needles

When making my tangled yoke cardigan I used 2 circulars for knitting the arms in the round. After a while I realised I thoroughly enjoyed it. So the other day I picked up 2 40cm 2.25mm needles for my socks, and decided to give that a try to see if I could lessen the ladders, It was certainly an odd adjustment and at the moment I am progressing a little slower than on DPN's, but I know I'm just getting my rhythm.

My biggest issue was a few twists in the cables that caused the needles to flick up and twist and generally go the wrong way in get in the way! I knew I could not handle knitting with 2 circs if it was going to be like this. Then I remembered hearing on a podcast, (unfortunately I don't know which one) tha it is possible to straighten out kinks and twists in cables by boiling them.

So I filled a pot with just enough water, and brough it to the boil. Once it was boiling, I brought it down to a simmer and placed my circular needles in the water. You could see the kinks disappear almost immediately. However, I left them to simmer for about 15minutes, just to ensure the best result.

And the result? I am thrilled with them. They sit in the perfect position when I'm not using them, I don't have to twist the needles to straighten up the cables anymore, and they feel a bit more pliable too. Working with 2 40cm needles is still an adjustment, but with the needles behaving, I can feel my hands getting used to the feeling and my rhythm and speed increasing.

And all it took was a pot of boiling water to turn something from inefficient to fabulous!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Book: Ashford Book of Spinning

Considering the wheel I have is an Ashford Traditional, I thought it very lucky for me to find the book The Ashford Book of Spinning at my local library. It's step by step instructions and descriptions of the parts of the wheel have all helped me tremendously.

To start with the book describes the basic information, how to spin, what the parts do, and what fibre to use. It explains how to hold your hands, calculate the twist, prepare the fibre and care for your wheel. It also covers breeds of sheep, information about their fleeces, how to spin different staple lengths and crimps, how to blend fibres and how to ply the fibres.

Reading this book made a lot of what I was doing click.....and I felt a greater understanding of what I was doing and why. I realised I need to add a bit more twist to my singles and that my spinning style is worsted. My tension needed adjusting and that helped things to work better, and my yarn consistancy is improving already. Although I still have a long way to go I'm sure.

I have finished 2 bobbins and have begun plying, so far I think I am happy with the result, but I won't know the full results until after I have taken it off the bobbins and set the twist. I think that's right! Either way I am loving this experience and am enjoying the new challenge. Even though I never thought I'd be interested in spinning!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Building a rhythm

I finished a bobbin last night, still have no idea of the quality that I spun but I guess I'll find out soon enough. I am starting to build up a rhythm and getting longer stretches of consistant yarn, but those little bumps and super skinny bits still appear here and there. I also found myself getting some weird areas of over-twisting, and others that were under-twisted. But once again a learning experience.

After all, I need to just look at my earlier knitting projects to see the development of skill and knowledge as each item is finished. The seaming, cables, picked up stitches, button bands and holes......have all improved, and still have more improvement to go. And I doubt I will ever reach a stage of perfection, but that is the beauty of hand-crafts, the imperfections that make it yours and no body elses.

I have noticed time flies when I am spinning, especially when I am in rhythm. I found there were less instances of losing the thread, and equally trying to get it restarted again. I think I managed to spin a lot more in last nights session than in the previous sessions. I also noticed the importance of the tension when spinning, I was getting some very odd, loose yarn threading on the bobbin, not having the tight, efficient look it should. I remedied this by tightening the wheel a bit and going a bit faster. I have found that I work better when I am going a bit faster.

Still so much to learn it boggles the mind! But what a fun journey.

Friday, November 26, 2010

My First Spinning Wheel

On Wednesday I visited a member of my S'n'B group, (that I struggle to attend most of the time due to kids, life etc.) and was introduced to my first spinning wheel. It is an Ashford Traditional and came with 4 bobbins and a Lazy Kate and a bag of unwashed fleece and a bag of prepared fleece which you can see here. An absolutely stunning chocolate brown. I don't know the breed, but I love the color andd the feel of the roving. So, I got a lesson as a bonus and began spinning. I think I got the hang of it pretty quickly, and I have spent at least an hour each night spinning. I'm not sure of the quality I have spun, nor whether it will be usable, but for the most part I think I have maintained an even consistancy. There are certainly thinner and thicker parts, as well as occasional lumps, but over all I'm very pleased with my acheivements, which you can see here.
And finally, here is the wheel. I love it! I think it is gorgeous with the decorative spokes in the wheel, and the staining. The wheel is in excellent condition, works fabulously and all day I just want to spin on it. But I can't during the day because my kids are so fascinated with it that their little hands cannot resist trying to touch it everytime they pass it!
I also got given a bag of raw fleece that needs to be cleaned, carded and (probably) dyed. It is white so it should show colours fabulously. I haven't tried any of the above so I'm sure they will all be an adventure with many stories! A very exciting adventure that I'm loving already. Once I have finished this bobbin I intend to fill another and then ply them together to see if they balance each other out. I hope they do. I am having fun!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

FO - A Tangled Ocean Tweed

On Saturday morning I completed my Tangled Ocean Tweed.......just had to weave in ends and sew on the buttons and I was done. Sooooooo happy with the finished result and the fit is perfect! Hugs my shape in just the right places. Very pleased I chose the 38" size.

As you can see it is longer than the pattern suggested by 5 inches, which was a great idea, I love the length, it hides a multitude of sins! Although the picture below looks wonky, the tangled yoke does measure up evenly with the other side. I was just in a hurry to get some photos as my son was trying to get in the pictures!
I adore the colour, it is a stunning green and I think this colour really suits me. I have realised recently that green is my favourite color.......purple has taken a step back. Although I still love purple, I'm finding myself drawn to all sorts of shades of green.

As you can tell by the above picture, by increasing the length and then following the waist shaping instructions (although switching to stockinette earlier on in the shaping) the cardigan has come out with a gorgeous silhouette, which is perfect for me. I hope to have photos of me wearing it eventually.
On another note, I have started a black and grey striped top-down raglan sweater for myself, all done with my own calculations. A bit of a headache considering I am making it a v-neck as well. Things are going well so far, hopefully some progress shots to come.


Friday, November 19, 2010

End of an Era

Feeling a bit strange tonight, my partner has finished up work at a place he has worked for 7 years. He resigned to take a position which has a better chance of advancement in his career, also, many changes had occured where he was and he was feeling burned out. But now it is over. The company has played a big role in our lives, we have made friends, some that will fade but some that will remain so for years to come I hope. Reminicing of the work functions, Christmas parties, get togethers, all make it a bit sad. Although there are many things I did not like about his job, this is still a major change and will make a big impact on all our lives.

B will begin his new job in a few weeks, so it will be nice to have him home for a bit. Tonight he has gone out for "drinks with the boys from work" which I'm sure is code for "going to the strippers". So not happy about it but what can I do. At least he comes home to me and wants to marry me. Still think it's a bit distasteful, but I'll get over it.

We also have our daughter, C, starting a new school next year. She is quite excited about it, the school has better facilities, more teachers, impressive ground and an excellent reputation. C seems to understand that she will get a better education at this school as they have a much more intense classroom structure. And considering she is a very smart girl and demonstrating Grade 5 skills in Grade 3, she really needs the stimulation. She regularly complains of being bored at her current school.

Then N is starting kinder next year and my baby will truly be a little boy. I'm having trouble toilet training him at the moment, but I'm sure we'll get there by February. His speech is improving dramatically, and he is really into books at the moment. He knows his alphabet, can say it and identify all the letters, even spell his name. He can count to 20+ with a little bit of prompting, and can count backwards from 10. He needs the stimulation pre-school will provide him with.

But all this means that next year is a year for change, a year for learning and the beginning of another phase in all our lives. B has worked there for 7 years, C has attended her school for 4 years, and I've had N home for nearly 4 years. Next year I will have time to myself when I will hopefully study in between planning my wedding. The future looks bright and exciting, but there is a little sadness when an era of your life ends, I guess it's a little bittersweet.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Memorised Kitchener

I think I have finally memorised the Kitchener stitch. On the Tangled Yoke Cardigan, the pattern requires you to graft the underarms together using Kitchener stitch. I decided to see if I could do it from memory, and I did! Including remembering the set-up stitches. So I am very proud of myself at the moment.

Today I worked solely on the Tangled Yoke, and had a nightmare with the collar. The collar requires you to pick up stitches inside the cardigan, to fold the collar over and make a neater finish. And for some reason today, I just had my uncordinated hands on, I think. Not only did I somehow pick up stitches on an angle that ended up higher than it should be, I didn't notice until I had 3 needle bind-off half the stitches. So rip. Got it all back on track and then for some unknown reason I decided to pull out the needle holding the picked up stitches. I had a major WTF moment then.

Finally I got it all back on, finished the bind off, grafted the underarms and tried it on.......PERFECT! I could not be happier. The length is perfect, adding the 5 inches on before the shaping worked perfectly. The shaping matches up with my body and makes a very flattering shape. The arms are the right length, the yoke is the right depth, and even the collar, which I thought may be bound off too tight.....sat just right.

Tonight I hope to start on the button bands and tomorrow venture out on a hunt for buttons. I really hope I can find some that work. I will also have to calculate how many I want considering the extra length I added.

On a personal note, I am thinking about cutting my hair by about 3-4 inches. Bring it up to my shoulders. Not sure it's that or getting foils, or both. I need a change and my hair is so dark, I get sick of it sometimes. I think a lighter shade may soften my face a bit. I am hoping to see a new hairdresser who will actually give advice and recommendations, not just a "whatever you want" attitude. I'm not too good with choosing flattering styles or colours for myself, so sometimes you do need help.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Socks for Cycling

As odd as it sounds, I knit most of my socks on the exercise bike. I have to exercise, for health, to prevent restless legs and insomnia, and to lose weight (although that's not happening). No matter how much I try I never really find exercising fun. Going for a run on the treadmill listening to music can be fun, but I can't do it all the time. I get a sore toe joint which can be very painful. So I alternate with the bike.

But I hate sitting still, and that's what it feels like sometimes. My brain gets bored very easily. Sometimes I read, especially if I'm studying, but lately I have needed socks and they are so small that they don't get awkward when on the bike. Definately multi-tasking! Finishing a round usually means a change in tension of the bike, which is an excellent way to change the intensity throughout the workout. My only problem......using DPN's. I have to get hold of a couple of 2.25mm circulars I think.

I haven't run much during this last week as things have been kinda stressful and filled with change. All I have wanted to do is knit. So on the bike I go. But only socks. Too awkward with anything much bigger, or more complicated. But I need socks, and I'm loving how quick they are to knit, the satisfaction of a finished project and all the colors that the varigated socks yarn I own have. Thankfully my feet haven't itched for a while either, maybe they just needed to get used to the wool socks. And now I think they are.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wave Shawl

I realised this morning that as we are only 6 weeks from Christmas, I had better get moving on my Mother-In-Law's Wave Shawl. I haven't made much progress on it lately, I've been too preoccupied with finishing my Tangled Yoke Cardigan and my anklet socks. I have been using the socks as travel knitting in the car when taking my man to work in the mornings and picking him up at night, but I think I need to take the shawl along instead. The pattern is very simple for the body, just knitting in stockinette with yarn overs placed to increase the shawl evenly.
But as you can see, I have made very little progress considering the size of the shawl, it is a big style, pictured to cover most of the upper body. The color is Pale Eucalypt from Bendigo Woollen Mills, and at first I wasn't a big fan of it, but the colour is really growing on me. As you can see I still have a long way to go before I reach the lace edging.
I have chosen not to add the sleeve in the pattern, just didn't really like it. I'm also not sure if I will make it as big as the pattern says. We'll see how it goes. I'm loving the fabric that the needles are creating and I am developing a real love for finer yarns. The delicate nature, and the finer gauges all appeal to me. Although 5ply isn't overly fine, It is much finer than even the 8ply.
It is refreshing (and odd) working with the larger needles too, I think I'm using 5.5mm, and I've been using 3.75mm on the cardigan and 2.25mm for my socks. Definately a lot bigger, but at least it gives the hole in my finger a rest!

Monday, November 15, 2010

FO - Regia Anklets!

I have just finished grafting the toe on the second sock and immediately proceeded to try them on and photograph them. I was able to get a full pair out of a 50g skein of sock yarn, which I am thrilled with.
I don't have much yarn left, but certainly enough that I can lengthen the cuff by a few rows. I only did 10 rows of rib before starting the heel flap, and I think I may prefer it to be just a little itty bit longer.
I still have another skein of this Regia colorway, and figure that one day I will make another pair of anklets with it. After knitting with it, I discovered that I love the blues and greens, but not too keen on the amount of grey and the yucky olive/khaki/ i don't know green that is in there. I don't think I would want to use this colorway for anything other than socks.

I am very pleased with how these socks turned out, and again I used a basic sock pattern that has become not only memorised, but guaranteed for a good fit. You can find the pattern I use here.
Clearly written, easy to follow and an excellent finished product!


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Toxic People

It seems pretty common sense to avoid people in your life who are toxic - who bring out the worst in you, make you feel bad about yourself and treat you like crap. But what the hell do you do when they are your sisters?

Both my sisters are becoming more toxic to me and my life. Every time they contact me all they have to say is crap. Insults, threats, blame - always the same shit, but sadly after 12 years of me moving out of home, I seriously doubt there is any chance of any chance of any relationship developing between us.

It is relatively easy with SG, she is in QLD, so I don't see her. She deleted me off facebook, and we don't really talk. I just get the occasional unexpected nasty sms from her that ruins my whole day. My new approach is to not respond, no matter how much I feel like going off tap at her.

SB is harder, as she is still staying here part time. Every time she is here I feel uncomfortable and want to be elsewhere, which is not how I think I should feel in my own home. Not to mention annoyed at her treating this house like a hotel. Even the dog doesn't like her.

In an ideal world I would be able to distance myself from my sisters so I could deal with my life without the toxicity they bring. I do love them, but as people, not so much.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Rolling Thunder




After a week of very dry, hot lae 20's early 30's weather, the cool change is on it's way, announcing itself with rolling thunder and the darkness that cloud cover brings to a home. That darkness that creeps over when it should still be full daylight, and you know a storm is coming.




Then you look out the window to see the clouds covering the sky in every colour of grey imaginable. I love storms. I love the sound of the thunder and rain, I love the flashes of lightening and the smell the next day. This is a well deserved change from our first heat wave (minor) for the summer period.






A Tangled Disaster!

I had my first real knitting disaster today, and I nearly cried! Last night as I was working on my tangled yoke, the tangled portion, I realised at the end of one row I had one extra stitch. I counted and recounted and searched and could not discover where this stitch had come from. So, as recommended by those who have experienced such strange phenomenon at night, I decided to put it down, go to sleep and look again in the morning.

So this morning I looked again. Still no luck. No idea where this mysterious stitch has come from and why it is here. So, in my wisdom, I decided one extra stitch was no problem, I would just k2tog and continue on with the pattern. But that didn't work. Well it did for the first side of the cardigan, all looked good and I was pleased with my progress. But when I reached the second half, where the pattern is reversed, I saw it - A DISASTER!

I had missed one stitch in the beginning of the previous round which meant that on this half the increases were 1 stitch off and didn't line up with the pattern. And of course, because I didn't realise this until after I had completed the row with the mammoth and multiple cable stitches. And while one side looked perfect, the other side looked odd, there was no cable twist where there was meant to be and instead of crossing, the stitchs sort of looped back so they were next to each other and not across each other. If that makes sense.

I thought "I can fix this" and endeavoured to drop the necessary stitches, retwist the cables and voila! problem solved! But no, this was not meant to be. I couldn't figure out how many stitches should be dropped, how to cable twist them considering each section involved numerous cable twists, and then I saw a few dropped stitches and I couldn't figure out where they belonged.

So I did it. I ripped it back to before I began the tangled yoke pattern. I nearly cried. I felt angry, sad, frustrated and exasperated. My picking up stitches skills lack too, so although I have got all the stitches back on the needle, a few have dropped a row or two, many (or most) will be twisted and I'm sure I have hours of frustration to fix it all and get it back to where I was.

Maybe I will try a lifeline this time. I don't think I could handle this again.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

High Concentration

I have reached the celtic horizontal cables of the tangled toke cardigan, and especially as it is not something I have done before, I'm finding I need to maintain a high level of concentration. Last night when I began on the yoke pattern, I chose to go without tv, podcasts, audiobooks or company. I wanted peace and quiet so I could make sure that I was doing it all right as I do not want to rip back. So far I am pleased with how it is going, although each row is taking me 30minutes, so this yoke will be with me for a few days. I don't know if it is looking how it is meant to look, but I think it does. I have been following the directions carefully.

This is the first pattern I have come across that has so many different features, 2x1 cables, 2x2 cables, 2x3 cables, 5 into 1 increases and decreases. So many twists and turns that I followed the advice of others and colour coded my chart so it was easier to read. Once I have done the repeat a few times, I memorise it, but the need to make sure I do the right amount before I change to the next pattern repeat means I need to focus.

Ordinarily in my house, the ability or opportunity to focus and concentrate is almost impossible to find. Between the kids, my partner, phone calls and general noise, the only time I have to work on my yoke will be after 9.30pm when my 8 year old goes to sleep. Before that there is too many interruptions. As it is, I'm not guaranteed the nights either, lately my 4 year old son has been having bad dreams and waking up crying. By next year I hope to have more time to myself, but then again, that time is supposed to be for studying.

In conclusion I am having s much fun with the yoke, even though I have only done a few rows. I was stunned to find 2 hours had passed since I had sat down. I was totally immersed in the pattern, the yarn and the moment. I intend to do this more often.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Almost Summer

Today is a gorgeous day, 28 degrees, sunny and not a cloud in the sky. It truly feels like summer, and reminds you that we are only 5 weeks away from school holidays, which is 6 weeks without school. A welcome blessing. This year has been long and stressful, and having a respite from it all is welcomed, even if it is just a staycation.

During the holidays I hope to attain a spinning wheel and learn to spin. It would be nice to have a back-up to knitting for the days when it is just too hot. And we get many of those days. Days when it is so hot we hibernate in the house with the air-con on, eagerly awaiting the cool change.

Summer for me meas new beginnings, new resolutions and goals, as well as family time, time to spend together without the pressures of school, homework and strict bedtimes. Things are always so much more relaxed, and I think we all need to relax a bit.

The week is meant to remain hot, and hotter, letting us know summer is definately on it's way. And if this week is anything to go by, it may be a scorcher. At least the drought has broken and our dams are 50% full. You can have an extra shower and not feel too bad!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Joining the Yoke

I finally got around to joing the sleeves to the body of my Tangled Yoke Cardigan. I must admit I hate this process. It is always awkward, at least until you have done quite a few rows, to knit around with there being no movement in the sleeve stitches. But I do love the no seaming effect!

I still have quite a long way to go until I reach the Celtic Horizontal Cables that comprise the tangled yoke design. Reading through the chart there are a few stitches that I need to review, for example creating multiple stitches out of one in the middle of the row. I need to check and see what is the recommended method of doing this. I'm sure this will be a challenge, but I'm still looking forward to it.

I'm loving the yarn more and more as I go on this project. The color is so deep and gorgeous, the little flecks of royal blue and jade green really give it life. I have always liked the color green, but now that I am using greens I wouldn't normally reach for, I'm realising my love runs deep. It is also a credit to the Bendigo Woollen Mills who make such gorgous wools. Their rustic range is my favourite, and this yarn being Colonial, I adore too.

I have also discovered that I like the fabric that is created using a 5ply on 3.75mm needles. At first I thought it would be too loose see-through, but now that I have so much of the cardigan knit, I can see that this is not the case. The fabric is light, but dense enough to be substantial. I'm sure I will knit many more garments in 5ply, I don't like the garments that are 10ply and heavy. I also think in our weather environment, there isn't much need for heavy woollen clothing anyway.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Family Dramas

I feel jealous of those people who have a close knit relationship with their siblings, I certainly don't. Both have deleted me off Facebook (the ultimate insult!) because we just don't get along. Most of the time I think they are crazy and very immature, notto mention whiny and negative people. Sad.

But then they think I'm just a bitch. And that is mostly because I say it how it is and not sugar coat everything for them. And because I won't take their attitude that because we are family we are endlessly in debt to each other. I have worked hard in my life and don't expect hand-outs from anyone, nor do I think that you should receive respect just because we have the same blood. Unfortunately, if it wasn't for the fact that we are blood, i would not have them in my life. This is not how I want it to be, it's just how it is and has always been, since we were all in Primary school. I was always the odd one out, and never got along with them.

But last night I went to an extended family dinner for my Nana's birthday, which neither of my sister's attended, SG because she is in QLD, and SB because she hates family gatherings. I'm not really a fan, but I wanted to catch up with my cousin, T. It was great seeing her again, we used to get along as kids, and are only 19 days apart. Our lives are very different, she is a Myotherapist and has opened her own clinic, she has no kids, just a partner of 5 years, and has a very active social life. Whereas I, have 2 kids, spend most of my time at home and am trying to get studying done now. I suppose in 20 years our lives won't be that different, just lived in a different order. Me: Kids then career T: Career then kids.

I'm hoping to catch up with her more and hopefully have a closer relationship with someone in my family! She lives and works close by so anything is possible. Although I have noticed that I do lack some social skills, which I understand to be because during my 20's, instead of meeting people and socializing, I was being a mum. Although that's not much of an excuse, you combine it with no money, no transport and low self-esteem, and you have the perfect recipe for a recluse. Now I find it hard getting to know people, but I'm trying. Had a lot of bad experiences with friends that have turned out to be less than friendly. Kinda causes you to put up a protective wall.

I really hope that one day things settle down and as a family we can all be in the one room together and not want to kill each other. But I won't hold my breath. After all, it's been over 20 years and things seem to be getting worse.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Angry with the School!

My daughter is in grade 3 and has a really poor year (or two) of education. I blame this on various things:
  1. Her teacher is lazy and inept, gets spelling words wrong and has to check the dictionary, believes homework doesn't need to be graded, that they complete the work is all that matters, and gives no feedback on assignments, then blames the children for not giving us the information.
  2. Added to number 1, many topics have not been addressed that should be known by the end of grade 3, such as basic timestables, maths beyond addition, and various other grading markers which say my child is well below average, yet all reports leading up to these last 2 years indicate she is above average.
  3. There is no interaction between teacher and students or teacher and parents. Whenever we approach with issues to discuss we are brushed off, assured everything is fine, that the recommended course structure is being followed and the child's reports at the end of the year will indicate such. As involved parents we are made to feel like a nuisance.
  4. Her class has been combined with another class, so you have 50 students and 2 teachers in the one classroom, which has severly impacted on her enjoyment of school and her ability to learn. The level of noise and distraction has caused her to have headaches and to have trouble completing her work or reading. When this topic was discussed, we were informed that this is a better learning environment for children as the 2 teachers provide more structure and learning assistance. RUBBISH! I have looked in on the class in action and many times you see the teachers sitting together on their laptops while kids are running around the class and the noise level can be heard outside!
  5. Since the arrival of the new principal, the newsletter has reduced from 4 pages, to 1 double sided page. The school play has been cancelled. The mini assemblies that each section of the school (lower, middle, and upper) would have each week have been cancelled. The whole school assemblies which used to be every Friday, are now once a month. The school spirit has dissolved and morale is low. Also the school sports day got washed out, ands rather than rebook it, it was just cancelled. Very disappointing. To make things worse the principal does not see parents. Apparantly that is not her role, her role is to administrate the school. BULLSHIT!
  6. And finally, when my daughter completed the NAPLAN testing (a general aptitude test given to children in grades 3, 5, 7 & 9 to determine average levels of english comprehension, spelling and maths) the results came back that she is in the top 10 percentile for the state and the top 2% in her school, and yet her report said she wasn't up to the accepted standard???? WTF????
So in conclusion we are considering moving her to a school where the principal is active, school morale is high, children are encouraged to learn, and parents are given feedback on their child's progress and participation. A school where activites are held and children are awarded for good behaviour and hard work, where children are happy to attend.
It is so disappointing, I always swore I wouldn't movemy child from their school as I was moved as a child. But I didn't expect such a large deterioration of the school. Back when she started it was a popular school, highly regarded and talked of fondly. Now, kids are leaving on a regular basis. I know of a few that have left already, including my daughters best friend, and many enrolled in other schools for next year.
So we have looked into another school, with a fabulous reputation, a friendly principal and an above average academic standing in our state. We have an appointment next week and if all goes well, she may be moving next year. Scary and exciting and hopefully the right move on our part. It's hard being a parent, you hold their lives in your hands.

Friday, November 5, 2010

My Regia Anklet!

Well, I have been working on my regia anklet, just a little bit. Haven't had much time to knit between trying to toilet train Nathan and looking into a new school for Chloe. But so far I'm loving it, the colors are gorgeous, the yarn is soft and using the Knitmore Girls Vanilla Sock Pattern, I know what I'm doing. But it's still second to my tangled yoke which I'm hoping to have all joined up by tomorrow. Hopefully.

The only amendment to the pattern I have made is to rib for only 10 rows before starting the heel flap, thereby omitting the leg of the sock and making it an anklet. Otherwise all other aspects of the pattern will stay the same as this sock pattern fits my foot perfectly!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Cast on for Regia!

Well I couldn't take it anymore, I had to cast on for a sock, and I chose some Regia I already had. It has blue, green, browns and is gorgeous. It is a self-striping yarn too. So I wore a pair of hand-knit socks since last night, and I have been fine. No itchies. No idea why. But that was all I needed to cast-on. I have decided on some anklet socks, because I figure I mostly wear anklets, and I can probably get two pairs of socks for every 100g ball of sock yarn. That's the plan anyway.

I want to save the long socks for the textured, lace and cabled sock patterns. There are so many gorgeous patterns out there and I love most of the complex patterned socks when they are in a solid colour. So I will use just a fingering weight solid wool for those socks. Most of the time I would probably only wear the decorative socks at home, certainly not for going for a walk.

So it felt fabulous casting on for my sock, and I'm excited about it, hoping especially that the Regia won't itch my feet. Although I'm wearing Moda Vera socks now and they are ok. It was great seeing the different colours and knitting something different, I think I was getting a bit burned out on my cardigan, since I have been pretty much been monogamous. As I was with the sweater vest too. But I find that when I want something knit, I am better off going all in, otherwise I get worried it won't get finished.

I think I'm also suffering a bit of cabin fever. I haven't gone anywhere or done anything for a few weeks now, and I think I seriously need a few hours outside the house and away from the kids. Some adult time. Which is almost impossible. Last week I wanted to get out, but Brian was in a bad mood and I didn't think I could get away with leaving him with Nathan for a few hours. Then on the weekend I had to running around and cooking for my brother-in-laws 40th birthday last Saturday. So now I'm feeling a bit frustrated, a bit closed in and a bit bored.

I would love nothing more to buy some new wool since I can't seem to escape....but since having to fix the car and Brian using $100 to gamble on the Melbourne Cup.....there is no money left. Have to wait a few weeks. I'm sure the weather has a bit to do with feeling a bit down, we have had more rain in this last week than we usually see in a month. Not to mention it is cold and overcast too. Not feeling much like Spring. But, knowing Melbourne........it will be the opposite this time next week!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Wandering Aimlessly

I am having one of those days when you are bored, and don't feel like doing anything. I have found myself wandering aimlessly around the house, room to room, just feeling bored. I want to knit, but frankly, I'm bored with it. Both my ongoing projects are green, solid colours. Both are in a stockinette portion of the pattern, and I really want something a bit more exciting. I feel the need to knit a sock, but I want to knit something with a really interesting pattern. Because the sock yarns I have all itch my feet, I want to try the Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 4ply wool. That stuff is so soft it really shouldn't itch me. But I don't have any.

I have thought about casting on for a sock in one of the multi-colored sock yarns I have stashed, but I don't want to waste them if I can't wear them. Thinking they may be better suited to a shawlette.

I know that soon enough I will have challenging knitting, when I get to the yoke of my cardigan or the lace edging on the shawl, but for now I don't know what to do, I need colour and texture and a complicated pattern to challenge me. I get bored easy. I will most likely power through the second sleeve of the cardigan so I can get to the horizontal cables of the tangled yoke.....pretty sure that will keep me entertained!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Itchy Socks :(

It's so not fair! So many gorgeous sock yarns, so many gorgeous sock patterns and yet so far knitted socks just make me itch like crazy! Ok, so I have only tried Moda Vera Noir and Patonyle, but with the amount of effort put into a pair of socks, I'm reluctant to make more in case all that effort goes to waste. I have been thinking of trying a pure wool yarn, that is very very soft, like BWM Luxury. But I'm not sure. I know I definately need more socks though, and my feet are warmest in wool..........it just itches!!!!! Maybe I have extra sensitive feet. Who knows. I also have some Reggia and some ZigZag, but I think I like the colors too much to risk them being unworn socks. Thinking about turning them into shawls or shawlettes.

Unfortunately I have tried various washing methods, drying methods, even washing products.....no luck I still itch! Will have to try to find a cure for this because I love wearing hand knit socks, I love the patterns of some of them, and I honestly don't want to miss out!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

New Fitness Goals

Now that I have definately booked my wedding, for real this time, and with summer around the corner, I feel a strong desire to get in shape......again. To be back where I was happiest I need to lose 15-20kgs, which is a big undertaking. But I will get there. Last time I lost 15kgs I did it using the exercise bike, but that has done nothing for me for the last couple of years. I have always exercised pretty much every day. So my new goal includes running.

As I have a treadmill, I have started jogging, tried running but not fit enough yet. Today was a breakthrough point, I actually enjoyed it and the time flew! Shocking! But I managed to do 7.63kms in 60mins. Very proud of myself. I do hope to one day be able to do 10kms in one go. At least that's my short term goal. So to hold myself accountable I plan to note down any kms I do and a total tally as well.

But other than running my ass off, I have finished the first sleeve for my tangled yoke and have cast on for the second sleeve. I have had no desire to work on the Wave Shawl, all I can think about is how I need another light-weight cardigan that can be worn with skirts. All my knitwear is more designed for jeans and cold weather, which is fine for today (cold and wet-record rainfalls over the last 2 days in glorious Melbourne but at least it looks like our drought has ended) but we have also had some lovely days with the sun shining, but the breeze requires light coverage.

Planning on making the Cece I think as my summer lace cardigan. I was going to make myself a Que Sera, (I loved that pattern) but I decided that there are so many patterns out there, I should try to do as many as I can! And I can always do the Que Sera whenever I want.

So now off to work on my second sleeve....can't wait to get to the tangled yoke, looks like fun!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Wedding Dramas

We have been trying to get married for over a year now. Twice we have had to postpone the wedding due to money issues, and today I had to change the date again.......all because the AFL Grand Final date has officially been changed from the last Saturday in September, to the first Saturday in October......which is of course the date we had set! And boys being boys have different priorities to us girls, so while I don't care about the Grand Final, he does. So frustrating.

So the date has been rebooked and I hope it all goes through now....hassle free. It certainly feels like we are not meant to have a wedding with the dramas we have had. Between the venue and the photographer, we have had a few headaches just in this last week. Now my priorities are:

1. Lose weight. A lot of weight. And get in shape so I look fabulous on my wedding day. If I'm doing this I might as well do it properly.

2. Knit a heirloom wedding shawl. I have a few patterns in mind, the Aeolian Shawl being at the top of the list at the moment. Need to decide what yarn to use though. Want something extravagant I think.

3. Figure out what else needs to be organised, make a budget and start stressing!!!!

Beyond that I have no idea, I think that is all I can handle at the moment. Especially considering I was planning on resuming my course next year, Nathan starting Kindergarten, Brian thinking about changing jobs, and whatever else life wants to throw at us!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Sweater Vest Finished


I finished the sweater vest almost a week ago, last Sunday to be exact. But it has taken me this long to take photos. I am extremely pleased with how it has turned out, not only the correct size, but lovely and thick and soft too. The cabling has made the fabric very stretchy with is another bonus. The ribbing at the neck and arm holes also turned out better than I expected. I chose not to count the stitches around the arm and decided to just pick up as many stitches as would look best, and I was all prepared to rip out if they looked too different. But they look fine. I can't wait til Christmas when my father-in-law gets to see it! I really hope it is what he wanted.
So now that the sweater vest is completed, I have cast on for my mother-in-law's wave shawl. The colour is pale eucalypt and it turns out I really like the colour, it is not as yellow based as I thought. I think I will have plenty of this yarn left over, I tend to overbuy ALL the time. But I think it may go well with the Oceania, (which is a dark green and the yarn I'm using for my tangled yoke) and I may make a Tempest cardigan. Although the wools are both 5ply (sport) I think they'll go with the pattern well. And it will mean I have enough yarn for another project without having to shop!
I hope to buy a second hand pot soon specifically for dying. Then I can get started on dying the cotton I have into colours I would like more. So this week has the tangled yoke flying along, I have finished the body to the arms and almost completed one arm, and have begun the wave shawl. Not much progress there because I really want a light weight cardigan now that the weather is heating up a bit. I should have no problem finishing the shawl for Christmas as we still have a couple of months to go. Thankfully!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

No Wool......But Dye

Well I am currently in Bendigo visiting my Mum, (and the Bendigo Woollen Mills!) except life stepped in and no new wool acquisitions. When I arrived here I was informed by another driver I had no brake lights working. After calling out roadside assistance it was determined that the globes and fuses are fine, it is the brake pedal switch that isn't working. Now this isn't too big a deal, the switch is reasonably inexpensive and the job takes less than 30 minutes. But being a Saturday do you think there are any mechanics? NO!!!! So I made the decision to not do any unnecessary driving to avoid accidents. Luckily the drive home is freeway all the way, so I should be ok. Then we have our mechanic ready to go first thing Monday morning.

But this meant that I couldn't really afford to buy the wool I was planning on, and it would have been a hassle getting to the mills in Mum's car, considering I don't know how to drive a manual. So I thought I musn't be meant to buy wool this week and increase my stash. So disappointing. So instead I went for a walk to the local shops and not only was the walk lovely (I love Bendigo) but I also had a nice time browsing in the shops.

One shop in particular had a large range of knitting tools and accessories, as well as wools. But none of it appealed to me. And then I saw it....Dye! The dye I bought is Rit brand and each packet is for about 1lb of fabric. Especially cotton. I remembered that I had a fair bit of cotton at home that I bought on sale at Spotlight, and I don't really like the colors. But if I overdye them I think they could be really pretty. So I bought Wine-a deep burgundy maroon colour, teal-self explanatry, and purple. I am definately looking forward to my first exploration into the world of dyeing and am very excited to see the results.

I believe everything happens for a reason, and I learned a bit about cars today, but I was also given the opportunity to do something new, dyeing, instead of just buying wool. The wool will be there next time :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Not Much Knitting

Over the last few days there has not been much knitting, housework, kids, visiting old friends, etc all seem to get in the way. Not that that is always a bad thing. Sometimes putting the projects down for a few days can reignite the passion felt before! The monotony of housework and the satisfaction of a job well done (especially if the house is neat and tidy) can be very rewarding. And catching up with friends is always great, especially when 5 hours fly by, absolutely fabulous!

I have almost finished the sweater vest, which is great because I am eager to start my Wave Shawl for my mother-in-law. I prefer to have minimal projects on the go, or I find I forget about them, lose my place or my momentum. I have almost finished the second side of the front, and once that is done, I will just need to sew the shoulder seams, then pick up stitches around each armhole and the neck, do some ribbing and Voila! Finito! 2 Chrissy presents down, more to go!

I am so anxious to finish my tangled yoke cardigan, as it is a lightweight cardigan, I have wished it was already done as the weather has been glorious lately, especially today with a forecast of 29C. In the sun it is hot and lovely, but I always get a bit too cool in the shade. Hopefully it will be completed in the next few weeks as I have only 23 or so rows until I have completed the body and need to start on the sleeves. Cannot wait until I reach the "tangled yoke" pattern itself, looks like so much fun! Last night I managed to get a fair few rows done at the drive-in when Brian and I went to see The Town. Excellent movie. Not something I woud normally see, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. We did go to see a double feature, the Expendables being the second film, but had to leave early as my sister was in a car accident and my dad, who was babysitting the kids, had to go get her. She is fine, car is dented, but nothing serious.

Today is set to be a quiet day at home, hopefully knitting and listening to podcasts. Although there are some serious dramas going on in my household (to do entirely with my sister who is living with us) I hope to tune them out and enjoy what should be a beautiful day.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Shawls

I have spent hours looking at all the gorgeous shawl patterns available, everything from a simple shawlette to large wraparound shawls. I think, for me, the appeal lies in the shawlette. Adding that splash of colour and lace to a simple outfit, without the length of a scarf that can sometimes be annoying.

The large shawls, although beautiful, I don't think are for me at the moment, although I plan to make a large one for my wedding. Love to have the heirloom item! The shawl I have planned for my mother-in-law is very large, but mostly stockinette with a lace edging. A good start I think into the shawl world.

I know there is a difference between lace knitting and knitting lace, but I can never remember which is which. I know that I do not think I am ready for a pattern that needs lace knitted every row, I think I need the purl row for now, at least til I feel more confident with knitting lace. Likewise, I doubt I am ready to attempt a superfine laceweight project either, the thinnest I think I'll go for now is 4ply (fingering) weight yarn. I have lots of sock yarn and I think i'll mostly use that. I have decided I think most sock yarns are too pretty to be hidden on the feet, plus no matter what I do, knitted socks itch me. Too much knitting for something I won't use.

With summer around the corner I predict many shawls and shawlettes being knitted as I'm sure I won't want anything like a carigan or jumper sitting on my lap!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Learning top down construction


Firstly I have been powering through my tangled yoke as I am in the stockinette portion and I felt like some simple knitting. As I said before, I actually knitted the garter rib for 5 1/4 inches then began the pattern in stockinette according to the rows of the pattern. This will make the cardigan nice and long which I will love. I also adore the drape and feel of the fabric, it is light and will definately be a warmer weather cardi, which was my goal. I think I prefer the slightly looser knit fabric as opposed to the tightly knit, but we'll see how well it sits when finished. Isn't the color gorgeous!
I spent last night reading the book "Knitting from the top down" by Cathy Carron. Not a fan of any of the projects, they are definately outdated, but I found that the information in the book on how top-down construction works, how to add shaping (which I already kinda knew), how to calculate sleeves and how to do various collars was fabulous. I had that 'light bulb' moment when all of a sudden the top-down method made perfect sense and seems quite simple.
I have knit top down before, but I could never figure out how the calculations worked, how to calculate the beginning stitches, how to seperate them for front, back and sleeves, or how to figure out the increases for the yoke. But now I get it! I'm hoping to use this method and calculations to amend patterns so that I can make the sweaters/ cardigans more simply, but also out of the yarn I want and the needles I want. Being in Australia (as opposed to USA where most patterns originate from) we mostly use 8ply (dk) yarn as opposed to 10ply (worsted). This means that many patterns I want to make need many alterations as not only do I not prefer thicker yarn, but it is harder to find, whereas 8ply is everywhere!
My first aim is to make myself a top-down jumper, long and fitted, with 8ply smoky gray and black stripes. I want it to be a perfect fit. Unfortunately the book didn't cover v-neck design, but I have located a few other sources which should help. Although, now that I understand the construction, I think I can figure it out on my own. I am going to have a think about how to do the increases for my bust though, I want it to fit well without the loose fabric under the bust, but I'm not sure I want to do short rows in the stripes. Thinking about just adding the increases on the front, so the back doesn't get baggy either, that happened last time. Too much fabric on the back so it didn't quite sit right. Maybe darts are the way to go. Oh well, more research!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sweater Vest Progress

This is the progress so far on my father-in-law's sweater vest - as requested! I have finished the main body and have seperated for the front and back. On the back I am about halfway finished, still have 5" or so to go, but it's going fairly quickly now. I have already used over 500g 10ply (worsted) superwash wool, so it is getting kinda heavy!
I am making this sweater vest according to my own pattern, as I couldn't find a pre-designed pattern that I really liked. So far it is going well, and I have used a few calculations for the armholes and the v-neck that will be on the front. Still hoping to get it finished by Christmas, which shouldn't really be a problem, I have plenty of time.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Spring Clean the Queue

Today I realised that my Ravelry queue had gotten a little out of hand, over 25 pages and I couldn't remember most of the things I had queued! So I went through the queue and deleted many things I had queued just bcause I liked them. Things that no one I know would wear, like little girl dresses and baby clothes. Although they are cute, I don't need the patterns saved. I can re-search for them again when I need them.

I also deleted many toys I had saved that I intended to make for my son, but realistically, he doesn't play with soft toys, and I just donated a few garbage bags full of stuffed toys as they were just collecting dust.

There were many items I had queued for my daughter, and many of them weren't sized for her anymore. Rather than rewrite patterns, I realised that making the smallest size of some women's garments would be her size. So no more little girl patterns.

As for garments for me, I removed many that I realised I had queued just because I liked them not because they would be wearable for me. As I went through these I considered whether they would be suitable for anyone else.....mainly mum, and those I kept. The rest.....gone. Anything that was in a thick yarn that I didn't absolutely adore went too, I much prefer to knit from 8ply and 5ply yarns (dk and sport) I don't mind 10ply (worsted) but I prefer the finer gauge. More yardage for your money and I think that garments in a finer gauge look better too.

So now I feel lighter, and my queue less cluttered. I'm sure that by this time next year I will have to spring clean my queue again, and some things saved now will be deleted and new beauties will be kept. With 17 pages left, I stil have plenty to inspire me and keep me busy!

Til next time..........Danielle xoxox

Monday, October 11, 2010

Knitting to Audio Books

Ok, so I rarely get to watch tv. Between the necessary censorship of having a 3yo and an 8yo, the days are pretty much impossible. Nights aren't much better. I usually have no chance of winning against Brian and either his tv shows or a night playing his PS3. Sometimes they are tv shows I want to watch too, Law and Order SVU, Bones, Criminal Minds......etc, but some nights he does marathon Two and a Half Men, and although an episode here and there is entertaining, two and a half HOURS + is not really my cuppa tea.

So I have learned to love the Podcast. I have a huge list of Podcasts I listen to, Knitmore Girls, Sticks and String, KIPing it Real, Stitch It, It's A Purl Man, and many more. Obviously knitting is not always enough, I need to hear about it from others too! But there are days (or nights) when I want something a bit different, and so I have discovered audio books. I have mostly gotten hold of many of my favourite books from my fave authors and have spent my time reliving the stories I enjoyed. I will admit, I have a weakness for crime, mystery, psychological thriller novels that don't take much brain power but are thoroughly entertaining. Kathy Reichs, Jonathan Kellerman, James Patterson, Lisa Gardner, Linda Fairstein, Iris Johansen, Val McDermid, Michael Connelly, Tami Hoag and Patricia Cornwell. I also love Stephen King and Dean Koontz, when I'm after something a little bizarre.

But what I love the most is the way that I can enjoy books as audio books, and not go insane from children's programming or video games. I can still knit, exercise, cook and clean and be nicely entertained. I love you dear iPod......how did I ever live without you?

Til next time........Danielle xoxox

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Wish I had a spinning wheel

Today my thumb is sore, it really only hurts when I purl, but it's enough to really annoy me. It is times like these that I wish I had a spinning wheel so I could still play with wool, even if it is in a different form. I have watched a few spinners and I love it! It looks like so much fun and so satisfying.....I would absolutely love to wear a jumper or a cardigan made from wool I had spun myself. So divine!

Occasionally, and I can't believe I'm admitting this, I feel I need a break from knitting, so I tried crochet, and it just wasn't for me. But since seeing the spinning I really feel a draw to it. Being able to take the craft to another level is very enticing, and some of those natural fleece colors are beautiful.

So now, instead of buying more wool, I think I will save for a spinning wheel and some fibre. With Christmas around the corner I hope to be learning to spin next year! At least that will be my goal..........

Til next time.........Love Danielle xoxox

Friday, October 8, 2010

Que Sera is Finished!!! And I improved my Seaming!

I did it! I finished my Que Sera and it took less than a month. The cardigan flew off the needles once I had memorised the pattern, and I loved every minute of it.......including the blocking! What a difference! I tried it on and it fits me just how I like my clothes to fit.....fitted. Unfortunately the buttons do that gaping thing they do when they are pulled to tight, but it really suited me as an open cardigan, more than a button up one. After all in summer, I probably will want the cardigan open and drapey. I doubt I would make it bigger for myself, as I really don't feel comfortable in baggy, loose clothing. Makes me feel slobby and bigger than I am.

I did discover however, that my method of seaming my knitted garments was not the best it could be. I thought I was doing it right, but it looked terrible on Que Sera so I did a search for seaming tutorials. After watching one, it clicked and I understood how it all worked, and how much better it can look. There are still some areas of the cardigan where the sewing was less than perfect, but still looks pretty good. I don't mind that little hint of evidence that something is handmade.......actually I think i like it.

So now, I can devote my time to my Tangled Yoke and the Sweater Vest. I may even cast on the Wave Shawl too. Yesterday my day was filled with a major spring cleaning of the house. Well overdue. Endless garbage bags for a tip run and many more for the Op Shop. Just got to get there now. It honestly amazes me how much stuff we have hoarded in the past few years, and how much was really just garbage. But I feel a lot clearer now that my house is less cluttered. Hopefully I never let it get that way again. I also had to drive to Tullamarine (Melbourne) Airport to pick up my dad from his visit to my sister in Queensland, so very little knitting happened yesterday. The collar of Que Sera and that was it.

Today, I spent the morning sewing up the cardigan and have not yet knitted a single stitch. I have cooked Pumpkin soup though, which smells great. So tonight I hope to have a very long knitting session, probably with my iPod as I barely get access to the tv. But lately I haven't minded. I enjoy being in a quiet room without the artificial glow of the tv. It's definately more relaxing.

Til next time..........Danielle xoxox

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Tangled Yoke

Today, as i was waiting for the Que Sera to block and dry, I turned to my father-in-laws sweater vest. Basically a 2x4 rib, with the 4stitch panel doing a cable every 8 rows alternating so they are uneven. Although knit with a thick wool and on 4.5mm needles and knit in the round, it is kinda boring, working up the body. I'm in a place where I either want interesting wool, interesting pattern or a plain knit stitch I can completely zone out with. So I figured it was time to cast on a new project.

So now the Tangled Yoke Cardigan by Eunny Jang is officially on the needles, and I'm excited about it. It's going to be knit in a 5ply/sport weight so it should be a lighter cardigan for the warmer months. The yarn is 100% handwash wool, in Colonial Ocean Tweed. It is a gorgeous deep green with slight flecks of lighter and darker shades speckled through. I love it!

I'm not happy about the length of the cardigan though, definately too short for my liking. So I think i will knit the 5inches of garter rib, then 8 rows of stocking stitch before I begin the shaping. Hopefully this will keep the shaping in the right place, but add on the extra 5 inches in length I want. I love my long cardigans......obviously!

Tonight I am hoping to take Que Sera off the blocking boards, sew the shoulders together and pick up and knit the neck stitches. There aren't many rows so it shouldn't take too long. Then I'll sew in the sleeves, try it on (we are pretty much the same size) and then put it away in it's box, awaiting Christmas. After taking photos of course!

Love Danielle

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Almost a Year Later

So, it's been almost a year since I last wrote anything, and much has changed, including my skills and knowledge of all things knitting related. I have made a Central Park Hoodie, Cable and Rib Jacket by Debbie Bliss (with a zipper), a smocked turtleneck and the gathered pullover, which I added waist shaping to.

I have discovered a true passion for cables and am planning on making the tangled yoke cardigan as my next project for me. I have also discovered lace, and although I haven't approached anything very difficult, I still love the process and of course, the blocked result.

I have gotten many compliments on my knitting from family, friends and fellow knitters. This has led to many requests, that I am happy to fill out for this Christmas. I see this as an opportunity to make projects and use colours I wouldn't necessarily use for myself, but also to see who would seriously appreciate and care for a hand knitted garment. Those people will receive more, and the others, obviously not.

So the list is as follows, my Mum is getting the Que Sera from Knitty in a gorgeous pale purple called Anemone in Mystique by Bendigo Woollen Mills. It is a wool, alpaca and mohair blend and is looking stunning if i do say so myself! My father-in-law is getting a thick cabled vest in the color denim blue in Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 10ply. Kinda boring to knit, but at least it's simple. And requested. Apparantly he can't find sweater vests that are a thickness he wants, they are all too thin and not warm enough. I decided to make the wave shawl for my mother-in-law, not requested, but you can't give one a hand-knit and not the other......right? This is a large shawl and will be knit in BWM pale eucalypt too.

That's all for now........little boy is awake :)

Love Danielle

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Years - Casting on and weaving ends




Well, I finally finished Chloe's cardigan and she loves it. She hasn't taken it off since i gave it to her, and it doesn't even have buttons yet!!! So happy and proud of myself. I promised myself I would finish by new years, and I did with an hour and a half left! A very close call. :) I did the finishing and weaving ends yesterday, but that didn't count. I had finished knitting!


Isn't it gorgeous! The photos aren't the best, but oh well. This is my first

cabled project and it was a lot easier to cabled than I had imagined. I think I now have a cabling bug :)
I recently ordered some beautiful new handwash wool in a red tweed to make my mum a long cardigan/ jacket for mother's day. This gives me five months, so I should be done by then. I can't wait to get the wool, but I expect it to be a few days away still. I bought it from Bendigo Woolen Mills and their prices are fantastic! I bought 800 grams for $44. Couldn't get close to that at my local Spotlight.
I'm going to visit a few LYS's this week, to explore, but also to hunt down some new needles. The ones i'm using are ok, but i'm sure that there are nicer ones out there. Should be fun.
For now however, I'm going to work on a simple afghan square for some mindless knitting. I then have Nathan's jumper with a couple of stripes to finish up. Even though It's summer, it makes sense to me to make these cold weather garments now, before it's too late!
Til Next time, Danielle