Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Let's take it from the top

Or, more correctly, let's take it from the toe...check it out - my first toe up sock!!!
Pretty darn chuffed with myself, I am, on this effort! I was thinking about my SSoS sock goals and realised I'd only done one thing on my list. And toe-up was really the big challenge for me, the thing I was perhaps most, well scared is not the right word, reticent perhaps is better, to try - because I do like my top-down socks - they work for me.
But I snapped myself out of my groove and thought while I'm there, I may as well do them on two circs as well (since I'd bought the circs way back before SSoS started with the intention of trying this method out!).And to cap it off, I used the gorgeous Koigu prize yarn from Jody (who has sadly just suffered a lace shawl tragedy). So 3 sock goals down with the one sock - huzzah!I used Judy's Magic Cast On (I cannot recommend this highly enough - it is fantastic!!) and Wendy's Generic Toe Up sock pattern. My short row heels are by no means perfect, I don't think I picked the wraps up properly, and my cast off is too tight (I can only just get them over my foot...) - but each of these things will be rectified with sock #2.Which is half done already...I'm loving these quick to knit stocking stitch socks!!! And my verdict on the toe up? I'd do it again, for sure (I do love to try them on as I'm knitting, which I did with the first sock about 1000 times), but I do still like my top down. Overall, it's good to have options!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

SHOESday: For Australia Day!

What else could I post, in honour of Australia Day, than the best and humblest of Aussie (whether homegrown or adopted) footwear, the thong.

Like any good Australian, I have several pairs. It would, indeed, be unAustralian not to...which leads to wonder whether our most recent former Prime Minister owns any. The thought of it makes me laugh. And cringe, just a little. In fact, I can't even imagine our current PM wearing them either...

It took me a while to get on board when thongs first made their "fashion" renaissance (probably about 8-10 years ago). But then I saw these ones, on sale no less (I think they were $12, back when Sydney still had a Monsoon store...oh Monsoon, how I miss you!)
They were followed by these, which were bought in the UK. We were going to Brighton for the day (I do love to be beside the seaside!). It was really good weather for the time of year, I think it was March, and I'd taken no summer shoes. So thongs it had to be - bright and flashy, perfect for Brighton! I was amazed actually at the huge range of thongs you can buy in the UK. Much larger than you can in Australia.And finally, because really you can't have thongs and not have these, the Havianas. THE thong of choice! And you know, they really are extremely comfortable thongs. Much softer underfoot than my other pairs. Now I must get a pair in brown too...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

So who's a cheeky monkey then?

Me, me! Or at least, Miss J, for whom these were made (Happy Birthday!)

Made the first sock in 5 days! The second took a bit longer, because of course I had plenty of time to finish it...and yet still gave the socks to Miss J in the sock project bag with dpns intact in sock #2. Sigh. I'm bad enough at deadlines as it is, holidays seem to have made it worse!!
But the socks were finished during my stay, so Miss J is now the proud owner of the cheeky monkeys (which we steamed using her amazing new steam iron - it has a huge reservoir of water, and you just steam everything as you iron - omg I so want one! And I don't even iron that much!!).

Pattern: you know it...Cookie A's Monkey, from Knitty. Am I the last person in blogland to make these socks. Actually, I was knitting them at the end of the Tupperware party, and one of the guests recognised the pattern - even though she's not a knitter!!!

Yarn: Merino Cashmere Sock (old) from The Knittery, in Moonlight. I omitted a repeat on the legs because I was worried about yarn...I needn't have worried, I've got at least 25g left! Wasn't sure how I felt about the faux striping effect, I was hoping this yarn would be more subtle, but it works pretty well for this pattern.Sticks: 2.75mm KP Harmony dpns - my first time using these - love them! The colours don't interfere with the knitting at all, and they have a lovely smooth but slightly grippy coating. And they are nice and pointy too.
Time: 1 January 2008 - 19 January 2008 - pretty good for me for a pair of socks!
What I learnt: Trust the yarn more - I'd been working on (roughly) 25g for leg, 25g for foot. You don't need quite as much yarn for foot as for leg (or at least, I don't!). Must remember that for future!
Wish I'd learnt: That you can make Monkeys without purling - ie by knitting the purl stitch. If I make these again, I think that's what I'd do. Purling just doesn't float my boat!
Stashbuster? Yes!! Yay me!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A few of my favourite things

Well, apart from raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, of course.

Can't believe the song doesn't mention an apron made of red apron-printed fabric and a shrine of yarn. Because those are two of my favourite things, and honestly, what's not to love?
As you know, Miss J had a 50s/retro themed Tupperware party last week. So she had to have a frilly apron (yes, Amy, she did, didn't she!). But you know the aprons you can buy these days are somewhat lacking in the frilly department (no idea why!) and since I have a sewing machine, I figured I'd make her one. It's just a strip of gathered fabric with a waistband, right?
Well, yeah, it is, but I didn't realise how much pinning would be involved. And a bit of thread ripping as I ran out of bobbin thread halfway through the basting stitches for the gathering (that always happens to me - grrrr). But the pinning was worth it, it made the sewing so much easier! It's not perfect, not by any length, but for a first attempt with no pattern, I'm pretty darn pleased with it!
Sorry the chair has no waist - it looks better on a person with a waist, as it flares out so nicely (see modelled pic at end of post!).And check out the pocket. Can't have an apron without a pocket! Although, apart from your hand, I'm not sure what you put in the pocket of an apron?

And yes, for the attentive among you, I did mention a shrine of yarn. Here 'tis, in all it's Rowany glory:
Miss J went to visit her family in the UK for Christmas. And she bought me back all of this (thanks SO much Miss J, you are too too good and kind). Lovely Rowan Calmer in Cocoa Bean, Kidsilk Haze in (I think) midnight (gosh this is a fabulous fabulous colour) and 4ply soft in a green which looks better in real life! Now to decide what to make with it all...
Perhaps I'd better have a cocktail...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

SHOESday: Special Guest Appearance

As it is her birthday this week, and she has some great shoes, today's SHOESday features a special guest appearance from my friend Miss J - or perhaps more correctly, the shoes of my friend Miss J.Are these superfabulous or what!! Purchased in Singapore during our trip in July 2005 and still looking just as good. Love love love the deep red, the almost fabric like appearance of the upper and the gold flash on the inside of the heel.Divine darling, divine. Miss J is just lucky that she has small feet - or these would be mine, all MINE, mwah ha ha haaaaaaaaaa...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Fifties Flashback

I visited my friend Miss J in Melbourne over the weekend. While I was there, Miss J had a tupperware party (we LOVE tupperware!) and had the inspired idea to theme the party as a 50s night.

We had the most fun planning and executing the food items.

Devilled eggs:
Tuna and corn vol-au-vents:
Little boys:
Jatz and dip (note the inspired use of the Tupperware!) and prawn cocktail, party style:
I hope you've all noticed the dalek like grapefruits with cocktail bits (pineapple and cheese, gherkins and cocktail onions) as well as the spam topped with a maraschino cherry (is there nothing that cannot be improved by the addition of the maraschino cherry??!!)

And for dessert - individual trifles (see, what did I tell you, vastly improved by the addition of the maraschino cherry):

And of course there were cocktails - strawberry dacquiri and the pina colada (mmmm, umbrella drinks!):And the piece de resistance:The hand carved cucumber flower basket, which was our table centrepiece! What fun!! And I may have (ahem) bought just a wee bit of tupperware...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Socks socks and more socks

Again with the socks!
I saved up posting on these because I had to wait until they were received - these travelled all the way to chilly Canada, to warm the tootsies of the lovely Michele (click on the linky for some tootsie warming action and imagine a bit "phew they fit" from me!).
Pattern: Log Cabin Socks by Anne Woodbury, from Handknit Holidays. This is the second time I've made these socks - love the pattern, so warm and cosy and quick to knit in aran or even chunkier weight yarn. I made the women's size for Michele's socks as she seemed to have slim legs and ankles and small feet (can I tell you just how hard it is to guestimate size when you only know someone over the internet! How lucky was I that one day Michele decided to post a picture of her shoes, at about the time I was making these socks!!)I love how the cable pattern continues down the heel.
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, 2.5 x 50g balls, in colour 200305, a lovely stormy blue. Love knitting with this yarn - so soft and squooshy.
Sticks: I forgot! These were my first magic looped socks!! I started out on dpns and then thought that I'd try magic loop - and I love it!! I still use dpns too, but magic loop, mmm, it's good!

Time: 1 October 2007 (right on time for Southern Summer of Socks!) - 18 October 2007 - see, I told you they were quick! It's just that I took so long to post them off...

What I learnt: Magic loop!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

SHOESday: sandals for summer #2

If I were only allowed to take one pair of shoes to a beach holiday (I know, I know, it's simply not possible for me to take one pair of shoes on any holiday, even an overnight trip, but let's just pretend for the sake of this post, ok!) these are the ones I would take:Simple, cool, comfortable, go with everything, can be worn to the beach with a t-shirt and sarong and then out to dinner with cool floaty dress.I wasn't a fan of sandals like this when they first (re)appeared a few years ago, but they quickly grew on me. I think they are a more stylish option than regular thongs (oh, ok, flip flops to non-Aussies!), but equally as cool to wear.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Back, I'm back!

Funny how something you never used to have can become so much a part of your daily life that you miss its absence. It's like that with the internet, and more specifically, blogging. I go away for 4 days, and one of the first things I do when I get home is log on. Kinda sad in a way - but really, it's not the internet, it's the friends!

So, I'm back. Had 3 lovely days at Terrigal, which is about 75km north of Sydney for those not familiar with it. Stayed at large overpriced badly in need of refurbishment hotel because it is easy, across the road from the beach and 2 seconds from everything else, and did I mention, easy?
Sat by the pool. Sat on the beach. Did a bit of knitting, a bit less swimming, ate a bit, read a bit, drank a bit (a bit too much on Saturday night - oof), did not buy any shoes, or other items. Ooh, had a massage - mmm bliss.

As it often seems to do, the weather turned on our last night there and so this was what we left behind today. Made leaving just that little bit easier.
Not much but.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

First FO of 2008

I know, two posts in one day! I'm going away for a long weekend, and I've got lots to post, so feel free to "save" this one until tomorrow!!

On day 1 of Southern Summer of Socks (1 October, in case you don't remember that far back!), I cast on for the first of these socks - the Pomatomus. Following on from Donni's lead, I decided to embrace the second sock syndrome liberation movement, and make a matching but not matching second sock - same yarn and different, but I think complementary, pattern.

Et voila! Child's first sock in shell pattern!
I do love these together. I think of the Pom as the grown up version of the shell sock.Details:
Patterns: Cookie A's Pomatomus, from Knitty, and Nancy Bush's Child's First Sock in Shell Pattern, from Knitting Vintage Socks. No modifications to either except I omitted one repeat on the leg of the Poms (scared of running short of yarn) and so made the Shell sock the same length as the Pom, which meant omitting 2 or 3 repeats on the leg (can't remember now!). I also charted the Shell pattern, as the book only provided it written out. A chart is so much easier to work from, in my opinion!
Yarn: Merino Cashmere sock yarn (old version) from The Knittery, in Cherries. I cannot tell you just how much much I love this yarn, in particular this colour. Watching the colour change made knitting these patterns an absolute dream. And it knits up so fabulously, no really obvious pooling (well, a slight striping effect on the shell sock), and gorgeous gorgeous colour. Yum.This is the leftovers - as you can see, I needn't have worried about having enough yarn!!

Sticks: 2.75mm KP dpns

Time: 1 October 2007 - 3 November 2007 for the Pomatomus, 4 November 2007 - 6 January 2008 for the Shell sock. Ok, so most of the knitting was done in 2007. But they were finished in 2008, so for mine they count as the first FO of 08!
What I learnt: If you are making the Poms, you need really pointy sticks. I started out with bamboo needles and they were too flexible and not pointy enough. And the Poms are really worth making. It is a lovely lovely sock. I may make them again, next time using the pattern reversed for the second sock (someone has written it up, called Sumotamop - ie Pom etc backwards! Clever! And thanks to Kate for the heads up on the backwards pattern!) And I really like the mismatchyness of this pair. Such a cool idea to avoid SSS!

MIL's Christmas Socks

Time for a bit of catchup! Here are the MIL's socks, finished in plenty of time for Christmas (well, the day before, but I also had time to wash and block and wrap them, all on Christmas Eve day).
Lacy Mock Cable Socks

Pattern: Lacy Mock Cable socks - a fab (and free!) easy pattern that knits up in a flash. The only modifications was to the heel and gusset shaping - I didn't quite do it as the pattern suggested, but close enough.

Yarn: Colinette Jitterbug in Velvet Olive, a lovely semi solid deep green, chosen by husby out of a variety of my sock yarn - and excellent choice, as the MIL loved the colour (first "phew" moment on Christmas day!). I've read criticisms of the Jitterbug on Ravelry - short yardage (267m) and knots in the skeins. I found no knots and the yardage was just enough for these socks - I was rather obsessive about weighing the ball as I was knitting, just to be sure. I thought that I might not have enough for both socks, but as I found when I'd finished one sock, I should have a little to spare - which, as it turns out, I did. Darning yarn!

Sticks: 3mm KP options dpns - which partly explains why this pattern is so quick to knit!!

Time: 19 November 2007 - 24 December 2007 - the first sock was mostly knit on the bus to and from work. I ramped it up a bit on the second one, to make sure it was done in time!
Lacy Mock Cable Socks
In case you think I have an oddly shaped foot, the sock is on my hand - I didn't want to stretch them over my foot or my sock blockers (my MIL has very slim legs and feet!)
Phew moments: First one was when I finished both socks with a little bit of yarn leftover. Second one was on the colour choice, as noted above, and the third one was when she tried them on and they fit! I was working blind on the foot size, so estimated pretty well.

Although apparently the socks are "too nice to wear"!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Ugh, numbers

I'd planned to post about the maths needed to make the Shaped Lace Tee from Knitting Lingerie Style. This morning, I made a mistake on the "gentle" (ie easy) sudoku pattern from today's newspaper and on my second attempt, I still can't do it. Not a good start to the day when it's all about the numbers (in my defence, I haven't had my morning coffee yet...)

So I'm using Rowan Calmer (yay, stash yarn!!) rather than the Cascade Sierra the pattern calls for. Yay me for realising I could use stash yarn rather than buying a bamboo/cotton blend I was thinking about when I saw it in Spotlight (also yay Spotlight for not having enough of the yarn in any colour thus preventing me from buying it, and yay Ravelry pattern search so I could see what others used!)

I even swatched. Twice. Using 4.5 mm and then 5mm sticks (new Knitpicks Harmony options, for those interested! Love them!).
The 4.5mm is on the bottom, 5mm on top (I know, they look the same size, they aren't!). So , over 10cm/4" with the 4.5mm sticks, I get 18 stitches and 28/30 rows (stretched) and with the 5mm sticks I get 18 stitches and 24 rows (weird hey - same stitch gauge). The pattern gauge is 16 stitches and 24 rows. I don't really want to go up another stick size so I think I'll use 5mm sticks. But that means upsizing in the pattern, which is fine as the pattern goes up to a 56" chest (which is, yay, bigger than I need, for a change!). This brings me to the second difficulty.

Ease. It's meant to be a relatively snug garment. But I don't want it too snug, nor too loose, which on my limited understanding of ease means I need to use a little bit of negative ease. So doing the maths on my gauge of 18 st/4" and the schematics, if I do one size up I get 0.5" smaller than the correct size for me, and if I do two sizes up I get 1.5" larger. Now I stretched out the swatches, and they could stretch a teeny bit more, so I think I'm probably best to go with the next size up - otherwise, I'm going to end up with an extra 3" around and I think that will be bad, right? If only the pattern indicated whether the gauge was achieved by stretching out the garment or by it just sitting flat. Sigh.

If anyone has followed any of this and has any advice or opinions, feel free to advise!!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

SHOESday: Summer sandals #1

Since I'm on holidays, there'll be no high heeled shoes being worn for a good 4 weeks, except for maybe if we go out for a special dinner, so it is the time for sandals and flats.

To kick off the month of sandals, here are one of my favourite pairs.
A chocolate brown strappy sandal. Small heel so they are a little dressy if you need them to be, but flat enough to be comfortable enough to wear all day (and they are very comfortable - more so than dead flat sandals in my opinion - but that also may be because I have flat feet).I was going to say I bought these 2 or 3 years ago, but when I put them back in the box, I discovered I'd kept the sales receipt (not sure why). And now I remember, I bought them for myself for my birthday in November 2005 - so I was pretty close on that guess! Anyway, it was when I started wearing more brown clothes. I used to wear all black (and things that went with black) but branched out, which I'm glad about - there are so many nice greens that look great with brown, and, you know, it meant I had to buy more shoes, so how can that be a bad thing!!I even re-did my nail polish (and it needed it too!)

Monday, January 07, 2008

Looking forward

So, I've had a bit of time to think about it, and I've read a bunch of resolutions/ aims/ hopes/ dreams from others. Now's my turn. And it's hard. But I've procrastinated over this post enough. While I'm tempted just to link to George's list of aims, and say "me too" (ok, so I just did that anyway, and it's true!), I'd better do the right thing and do it myself.

Something I was looking forward to in 2008 was opening my new knitting diary. Out with the old 2007 blue one, stuffed with bits of paper, addresses, yarn labels, postcards and so on, and in with the shiny new red moleskine, perfectly formed and with an in-built ruler (see, designed for knitters!!). Mmm, new knitting diary, lots of possibilities...

(see what I did there - more procrastination!!)

Alrighty, down to it.

Looking back to last year's resolutions, how could I have guessed that #1 would take off in the way it did - not only did I do this one, but it lead to a whole new blog and a fabulous fabulous friendship (Bells has written up our recent visit already! So efficient!)

#2, knit from your stash - not so good. Sigh. Am having another go at this. Bellsknows how much stash I've got! Am totally stealing Del's idea to note which projects I knit in 2008 using stash yarn.

#3, knit for charity. 2007 - good intentions, poor execution. Will do better for 2008.

#4. The less said the better, really.

So, for 2008, the year about which I have an insanely good feeling - I've no idea why, this rarely happens to me, but I do have a good feeling about 2008. I believe good things are headed our way this year (and when I say "our", I mean not only me and husby, but you as well, dear reader!). This is the plan:

1. Stashbusting and knitting for charity. Simple aim means achieving is easy. I've already knit one sock from stash yarn:
And I've joined a Ravelry group which aims to knit a pair of socks a month from stash. I could do that for a good 5 years I reckon...

2. Transfer my blog persona to real life. I've said it before, blogging means I can be the good person I want to be. I want to be that person more in real life. More kind, less snark. Remember to think before speaking. Self-edit.

3. Set some goals each month, even if it is only 1 thing, and do it. Report back to the blog. The blog must keep me honest!

That's it, really. Pretty simple huh.

And don't forget: Good things for all in 2008!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Good things

I've got a good feeling about 2008. I don't know why, but I think it is going to be a good year.

Perhaps it is because this is how husby and I started the new year (or saw the old one out):
And then the next day, husby did this for me:(in case of doubt, he put up the clothesline for me. He's only been promising to do this for oh, at least the last 6 months!) Of course, now it means I have no excuse not to do loads and loads of washing. But at least I don't have to use the dryer all the time now. Mmmm, line-dried sheets! Yum!
(gratuitous butt shot, because I know how you all love them!! Heh!) (funnier still, husby deliberately posed for this. He's the one that really loves the adulation!!)

And, because good things come in 3s, yesterday I cast on a new pair of socks, using this:
More on the socks later! 2008 - will be great! Yeah!

(excuse the cheerleaderishness. Must be because I'm on holidays!!)