Friday, October 31, 2008

My knitting "library"

Each year for the past few years I've posted a picture or two of my knitting "library" - and it's that time of year again! It's all tidy and organised by height (pretty much) now - apparently a neat bookshelf helps sell a house (I wish!).
And I find it's grown a bit over the past 12 months - I've added another half a shelf (give or take a bit). I'm not sure if that's because there are a lot more knitting books (that I want to buy) being released, or if it's because I discovered Kinokuniya has a great crafting books section, or if it's because (as my mum would say) my eyes are bigger than my belly.
I suspect it's a combination of each of those reasons.

Now don't ask me how many of these books I've knitted something from - but I have queued a lot of patterns (and I may have a lot of yarn allocated for these projects too, but shhh don't tell)!!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

On swaps

Thanks everyone for your comments on yesterday's post - the overwhelming favourite was Simurgh, so I've firmed up my commitment to knitting that one - but not until next month! The next favourite was Madli's Shawl - and I will definitely be doing that one sometime soonish - heck, I bought the IK it is in especially for that pattern (although looking back at it yesterday, there are a few more things in there I'm quite partial to...)

One of the things I've really enjoyed about being part of the knitblogging and ravelry community is participating in knitting swaps. It's funny, trying to explain it to non-knitters - they find it quite hard to understand that you might actually knit something for a stranger! And that they (or someone else) might knit something for you in return!

I've done a few swaps, and have been really lucky each time - I've had no swappees flake out on me and have received some lovely goodies and made some great friends through swaps.

My only problem with swaps is that I always (always! I never learn!) leave the knitting to the last minute! Gah! At the moment, I'm madly knitting for two swaps - an international Christmas Stocking swap (via Ravelry) and an Australian rainbow swap (again via Ravelry) - the theme was Red, so how could I not sign up!

For the Christmas Stocking, my pal expressed a desire for a white/cream aran style stocking, with cables and bobbles and the works. I couldn't find a pattern so I figured I could make one up (well, using stitch dictionaries and the like). And this is where I'm asking for your help (again! I know - so demanding this week!!)

So far, I've done the cuff in "holly berries" from the Vogue Cables Stitchionary - I figured that was suitably Christmassy. I did a garter ridge and Vikkel braid at the base of the cuff, and then I've done the leg using the cable pattern from Irene's scarf. My first bobbles!! I've done two repeats and I'm going to do one more (at least) and then do the heel.
My dilemma is what to do once I reach the heel. Short row heel flap or heel flap and gussets? And do I continue the cable pattern on the heel or do it plain or do another pattern on the heel?

I'm planning on doing another pattern on the foot, sort of like the snicket socks (Rav link). But how to transition? I'm considering doing another garter ridge/vikkel braid at the bottom of the leg, but I'm worry that will look a bit chunky. Hmmm. Guess I will just have to give it a whirl and see how it turns out.

But any advice/opinions will be much appreciated!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Too many choices!

Oh woe is me, life is hard - I can't decide which pattern to make using this most divine silk yarn from Blue Moon Fiber Arts! It is black based, with shades of blue, green and purple.
Please can you help me? It has 1125 yards, and I'd really like to use as much of it as possible. I think I'd prefer a rectangular stole and I'd like a pattern that isn't too easy (so not the same short repeat for the whole thing) but also not too hard (eg a purl "rest row" would be great!).

I've come up with these options (some are Rav links, sorry!) - what do you think?

Madli's Shawl (IK Summer 2004) - but probably without the nupps. I particularly like this pattern as it doesn't have a knitted on edge.
The (very similar to Madli's shawl) Large Rectangle in leaf and trellis pattern from Victorian Lace Today (p.54) - the pattern calls for 1200yds but I could do a smaller edging perhaps?

Simurgh by Anne Hanson - I think this is the favourite...It's suitably gothic for this yarn!

The lovely Myrtle Leaf Shawl, also from VLT (p.142) - the downside to this one is that it is patterned on the purl rows too.
Celtic Knot stole - I'm quite taken with this one but wonder if the celtic lace pattern would work with the yarn. Also, I'm not entirely sure I've got enough yarn for this pattern, although I could probably modify it a bit.

Moon Dance - I like this one but worry I might get sick of the pattern after a while.

What do you think? While I'm leaning towards Simurgh, I'd really appreciate your views - and I've got more laceweight yarn (heh), so I can definitely make the runners up at another time!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

SHOESday: Beaded beauties

I found these shoes while hunting around the "final reductions" sale rack at Myer about 6 or 7 years ago. They were so pretty (and cheap) that even though I had nothing to wear with them, I had to buy them.
I might have also ignored the fact that they were so scratchy that I could only wear them if I put a huge bandaid type thing on my foot underneath the so, so pretty beaded strap.
(sigh!) I did make sure that I bought some clothes I could wear with them, and a box of sticking plaster stuff that I could cut to size.
They have languished in the bottom of the large shoe box under the bed for a while now. I wonder if I could cut the straps off and use them on something else? Hmm, crafty ideas abound!

Monday, October 27, 2008


Have you ever wondered what a knitter's face looks like when opening a special birthday present? If so, wonder no longer:

Oooooooooooh! KoiguLornasLacesJadeSapphireCashmereRegiaSilkTrekkingBambooMmmmmmmmalabrigo!

Are those tears?

What all good knitters do with smooshy yarn

Happy Birthday DrK!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Enabler alert!

Or my community service announcement - however you choose to see it!

I read on Ravelry about a new Australian online yarn retailer - Thicket - and how great they were. So I signed myself up for the newsletter and wondered why one of the questions was my favourite colour. I found out when I received a few yarn samples (all Jo Sharp yarns, which was Thicket's main line at the time I signed up) in red (which of course was what I'd noted!). Big tick #1 for customer service.

Then I received my first newsletter with a free pattern - big tick #2.

I'd signed up for an international Christmas stocking swap on Ravelry and since my swap pal is based in the US, I thought I'd use an Australian yarn for my stocking - and since the price is so competitive, I ordered from Thicket.

This is how my yarn arrived:

(That's clear cellophane, brown paper and green tissue paper, all tied with some yarn). Big tick #3!
And since I'm sure you'd like to see the yarn:
Thicket has expanded its lines to include Woolganics organic yarn and Debbie Bliss - including the new DB magazine - all announced via email before the website was updated (big tick #4). Since I was on the ball I managed to snaffle the last DB magazine, and it arrived a few days later:

Big tick #5!

So far, I can't recommend Thicket too highly for their customer service. Just fabulous!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Hello possums!

A couple of months ago, a friend, Lady S, went home to New Zealand and when she returned, she bought me a lovely yarny present (she's a good egg, Lady S).
It's possum yarn! Made by Touch, a fab NZ yarn company - 40% possum, 60% wool. And unbelieveably soft!! I was tossing around ideas of what to make with it with Bells and one of us thought of the Forest Canopy shawl, and Bells made me cast on! (she's a bad influence, that one!).

A good choice! While it does look a little stripey in pictures, in real life the colours are more subtle and blend together well, and since the lace is so simple, it just works.

And blocking is magic (except for the sore back)!
Here are my blocking tools:
Foam mats from a $2 shop (discount store) - I bought two packs, I think they were $4/pack, and they are great as you can make all sorts of shapes with them for blocking awkward sized things. And my lovely blocking wires which I bought last year from Yarns Online.

Yarn: Touch possum yarn, 1 x 100g skein. I thought the yarn was a sportweight (the label suggested 3.75mm sticks) but I think it's really a DK/8ply.
Pattern: Forest Canopy Shawl by Susan Pierce Lawrence. An excellent first lace pattern, as so many have said before me. I did about 5 or 6 extra repeats to ensure I used up all the yarn.

Sticks: KnitPicks Harmony options, 4.5mm. I really should have used 5mm sticks, I think, but as I thought it was sportweight, and as I was already using the 5mm sticks on another project (which project, to be honest, I'm not exactly sure!), I decided on 4.5mm.
Time: 9 September 2008 - 22 October 2008. I could have finished it earlier than that, but I had a break to work on some other deadline type projects. I picked it up on a whim this week and thought heck, that's not long to the finish line, so I went for it!

What I learnt: I should have listened to my instincts about stick size - even though I made the shawl bigger than the pattern, it's still quite small (about 120cm/47" wingspan). And that weighing the ball after each repeat is a great way to ensure maximum skein usage.

This is all I was left with when I cast off (and I wasn't sure I was going to make a big sigh of relief when I did!).

Also I learnt that taking pictures of yourself in the mirror is very difficult!!

Now though, I'm really hankering for some fine lace knitting...but that's another post!

Friday, October 24, 2008

My favourite knitted thing

Since I signed up for participation in this Blogtoberfest thingy, I may as well play along by posting my favourite thing I've knitted. It's really hard actually, I have a lot of personal favourites for a range of reasons.

There's Lady E, which I love because of the yarn, the colour and because I feel so darn stylish every time I wear it.
There's husby's Interlocking Balloons scarf, which I love as it was my introduction to cables. And I just think it is a very clever pattern. And is knitted using Zara, which I've decided is my favourite 8ply/DK weight yarn - great range of colours, easy to get, reasonably priced, machine washable and knits up fabulously.
And on the husby theme, there's his Beau - such a manly jumper and looks so good on him.

And if you believe my projects page on Ravelry, every else's favourite knitted thing is (of all things) my iSock! As of the time of this post, 110 people have marked it as a favourite!! That still amazes me, for something so simple!
Bells has been trying to guess - she thought it might be Wednesday Adams. And while I do love Wednesday, it's not her either.

No, this is my favourite knitted thing:
Embossed leaves socks! My first Koigu. My first lace. My first lace socks! A fabulous fabulous pattern. And a gift for a dear friend. All the best things in one project.

What is your favourite knitted thing?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Perfect match

I'm in love. Totally and utterly. This yarn in this pattern. Words are truly not enough.

Even though I have plenty of deadline knitting on the sticks, I couldn't seem to put this sock down until it was done.

And boy, was it close - less than 2m of yarn left after closing the toe!
I love the colours - I'm on such an orange kick lately - and the linen stitch and the oh-so-clever Cat Bordhi pattern - look how the linen stitch tapers down the foot. Just divine!

But I'm not going to start sock #2 until I've finished a few of the things on my list!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Blogtoberfest: Bells made me

(and yes, Mum, I probably would put my head in an oven if Bells told me, because she wouldn't lead me astray!)

So I've got a bit of spare time on my hands over the next couple of weeks, and as Kylie has a bit less free time, Bells suggested we should tag-team on the blogtoberfest thing, and it didn't take much to convince me. Yesterday was day 1 for me, and I sat down tonight and made a list of blog ideas for the rest of the month - and surprisingly, it was quite easy!! Let's see how the actual writing of the posts goes!

I almost thought I wasn't going to make it today, husby has been monopolising the internets - but here I am, just in time! And because a post is much better with a photo or two, here's my first instalment for Bells' Long Lacy Summer completely casual KAL:
Doesn't look very lacy but I'm hoping blocking will open it out nicely.

And here are some sweeties I couldn't resist buying today on our way home from the city - Babycakes! Jaffa chocolate, banana, caramel, white chocolate, mint chocolate and peanut chocolate slide (or something...)
Perfect for today - eaten whilst thinking of Amy and lovely Grace!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

SHOESday: ahh romance isn't dead...

I have this pair of shoes - husby bought them for me for valentine's day in 1997. They have given me over 10 years of faithful service and they are still going strong. And I'm pretty pleased to say that they hardly look a day older than (say) 2 years old.

I still remember wearing them around the office at work, bouncing around in glee. I even remember what I was wearing, as the shoes went with it perfectly - a black straight skirt, a white top and a fantastic red linen blazer which I bought on huge reduction from Saba (for those o/s, Saba is a fairly upmarket Australian designer store, not haute couture or anything though!). I was pretty darn happy with that jacket. In fact, I've still got it as well, although I'm sure it doesn't fit me any more.

But enough about that. I'm sure you are dying to see these superfantastic shoes.

I'll keep you in suspense no more - here they are:

Yep, like I said, romance isn't dead.
But it sure is supercomfortable!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Cleck cotton - what's it like?

A couple of weeks ago I promised a little review of the new Cleckheaton Naturals Cotton (8ply/DK). I bought a couple of balls at Sp*tlight after seeing it for the first time - it felt so lovely and soft, for a cotton, and the natural colours really appealed to me (beige and pale green, with beige heather and pale green heather). I bought the pale green (col 004) and the green heather (008).
I couldn't wait to try it out, and so I made a ballband dishcloth - I think because the colours matched my kitchen perfectly and because I really should have been knitting something else so only wanted a small project! I also used, for the first time, some rosewood straights which I bought when Tapestry Craft had a huge reduction on them. OMG I love rosewood needles!!

This cotton is really lovely to knit with. It is relatively loosely spun from a bunch of very thin strands (forgive me if I haven't quite got all the technical terms right!!) so can be a little splitty, but with the lovely rosewoods, I didn't have any problems at all. And it didn't strain my hands and wrists like some cottons do when you knit with them for a while (dishcloth cotton and Rowan Denim, anyone?!).
The only problem I did have was that one of the balls (the green heather) had TWO knots in it - both right near the start of the ball. Gah! Fortunately, I found them both when I was at the end of a row, but this did annoy me a bit. It might be a one-off with this yarn, as the other ball has been fine so far.
Overall, a really lovely soft cotton, which also comes in 4ply (fingering weight). Probably way too nice for a dishcloth, but would be very nice in a garment, particularly for those with very senstive skin, as the colours are natural, not dyed. Don't ask me how they do that though! Oh, and nicely priced (for Australia at least) at around $4 per 50g ball.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Day in My Life: 14 October

A bit late posting - I'm trying to cut down, just a fraction, on my internet time - it's not easy though!! I miss catching up on everyone's posts and ravelry and so on!

So, here's my day, yesterday, Tuesday 14 October 2008 - a work day, so no pics (sorry about that!):

Too early - woken by Nelly meowling. Fortunately am able to go back to sleep.

6am - alarm! A bit earlier than usual. Husby up first and into the shower, as is our usual habit. I stagger in to the shower a bit later.

6.45am - Quickly tidy the house and make the bed - we're selling our house and you never know when a prospective buyer might want to inspect - so the house is neat all the time (that takes quite a bit of work!)

7.05am - we're catching the bus to work today, we haven't done that together for a long time - it was quite nice to walk to the bus stop and catch the bus like we used to. We even get a seat together and after I've done the daily sudoku I catch up on the news (well, the gossipy stuff anyway, I really don't want to read about the economy).

8am - At my desk, log on to my computer and read some blogs while having breakfast. Also do a quick SHOESday post.

9am - Catch up with my workmates and then sit down and plan my day, then start the day's work - I have to prepare a presentation for my team, line up a couple of workshops I'm presenting, including arranging some people to come along and speak at it.

11.30am - Stomach rumbling! I go downstairs for a coffee (something I don't usually do mid-morning) and a yummy orange cake from the coffee stall. They do the best orange cakes! I have my coffee while reviewing and marking up a draft handbook for junior staff.

1pm - it's miserable rainy weather so I pfaff around for a while hoping it will clear up a bit before I go out to get my lunch. But it's not clearing, so I head out anyway and pick up a very nice pad thai from the foodcourt next door.

More work and then it's coffee time! (always said to the tune of "Hammer Time"). Head out with a workmate, grab coffee and back to my desk.

3.50pm - remember I need to make a very large yarn order (a bit for me, a lot for others) - do so online and am amazed at the final total!! eep!

5.50pm - head out to the bus stop, on the bus and home. Knit on the bus and listen to a podcast (Stash and Burn - I'm almost caught up to the current episode!).

6.45pm - home. Put on a load of washing (since I was a bit naughty and didn't do any on the weekend!). I'm home alone as husby is interstate for work, so I sit down and knit.

11.30pm - I'm still knitting! I very lazily had spaghetti for dinner, and banana with custard for dessert, at around 8.30pm, but the rest of the night was all knitting and watching trashy tv. My idea of heaven!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

SHOESday: Wicked!

I have always felt a little bit wicked witch of the west when I wear these shoes.
I'm not sure why ... heh!

But I haven't worn them for a while and to be honest I'm not entirely sure whether I want to keep them or not.

I think I know which way I'm leaning, but what do you think? Keep or Not?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Happy Birthday Husby!

Thought I'd better publicly wish Husby a happy birthday, since this year is a big one - he turned 40 last Monday. Wow! Forty always seemed so old - except when you turn it yourself!! We had a relaxing weekend away and last night had lovely dinner with old friends, and today is the family celebration.

Husby had been (not so) surreptitiously dropping hints that he'd really like a pair of handknit socks for his birthday. Which of course I was already making for him, but in secret. Except the whole "in secret" business means that I didn't actually have that much time to knit on them.

Which in turn meant husby only actually got one sock for his birthday - and so I present you with:
one Mullet Sock!

So-called after the Mullet hairstyle (think Billy Ray Cyrus back in Achy Breaky Heart days). Which is not to say husby is anything like BRC (far from it!), but more a reflection of the sock itself - all business (plain stocking stitch) at the front, and party (ribbing) at the back! And of course husby's signature red toe!
At least now I can knit the second sock in front of him - he might even get a pair before the end of October!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

SHOESday: more from the back of the wardrobe

I think these shoes were the ones which really established my love for shoes (and clearly my love for the criss-crossing straps!). I bought them at least 10 years ago, quite possibly 12 years. I remember they were on sale, and I went back to the shop at least twice before I bought them.
And I wore them to absolute death. You can't see it from the top of the shoe, but the inner of the shoe is just worn away, and the elastic behind the buckle has lost its elasticity almost entirely. I was embarrassed when I put them on for the photo!
It's time for these to go - I'll be very sad to put them in the bin (which is why I've still got them even though I will never wear them again). Actually, I think the real reason I've kept them is that I plan to find a shoemaker who will replicate them for me, but with a different heel. That is how much I love these shoes.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Getting in some practice

So the weekend before last I found myself with a whole day (Sunday) which, for the first time in a month, did not involve cleaning, tidying, packing or gardening. What looxury! I got up early and did some knitting and then I thought to myself "I really should do something with the rest of the day". Clearly, something = knitting, but what?

And then I remembered that I had this book and had been waiting for a nice stretch of uninterrupted time to read it and make one of the practice socks. I dug out some leftover sock yarn (Knittery Cashmere Merino in Midnight) and my dpns, and away I went.

I did the first sock (Little Sky Sock) on Sunday, and then the second one (Little Coriolis) during the week. (As an aside, on Sunday afternoon my husband came in to the loungeroom and we had this conversation:

Husby: why don't we want one of those Jane Austen shows?
Me: ok, but we've only got one, Pride & Prejudice
Husby: no, I was thinking of that other one.
Me: you mean Jane Eyre?
Husby: yeah, that one.

Heh! Husby loves Jane Eyre (the fabulous BBC version with lovely Toby Stephens as Mr Rochester.) (I love it too, clearly!)

I also love these Cat Bordhi techniques!! Little Sky (on the right) is top down with the "gusset" over the instep of the foot, and the heel flap on the bottom of the foot. Very clever! Little Coriolis (on the left - duh!) is knit toe-up (using figure 8 cast on, which I HATED) and the increases are done as you spiral up over the instep. They are just both so clever!

And such perfect practice for Southern Summer of Socks! If you want to rejoin or sign up, head on over! It has started already (1 October) but this year we are going to be very casual, and for me, at least, the focus will be on new techniques (hello, Cat Bordhi!)