Thursday, February 26, 2009

You are 16, going on 17

Ah, if only I was 16, going on 17, wouldn't my life be different...

But since I'm not, who might I be talking about? Why, Liesl of course!
Fastest.cardi.ever! (helped a bit by a few days off work - but still...)

I was so pleased with it I wore it to work today even though I haven't got buttons yet, but a lovely brooch serves a very nice closure purpose!

Pattern: Liesl by Ysolda Teague (Ravlink) (website link). This is a great versatile pattern, large range of sizes and a couple of options for necklines and sleeve lengths. And knit from the top down entirely seamlessly. What's not to love!

Yarn: 2.3 balls of Lion Cotton (each ball is about 140gm) in colour 133, Paprika. I love this colour! I did have some reservations about it in a garment for me, I did think there was a risk I might look like an orange. But I decided I didn't care. And I love it! And even better, I have these great earrings which I hardly ever wear which match perfectly! Squeeee!

Needles: 7mm KnitPicks Harmony Options.

Time: 11-25 February 2009 - see, I said it was a quick knit!

What I learnt: Top down seamless garments are the best!! The yoke part did feel like it took forever, until I put the sleeve stitches on holders. Then it was quicker. And when I finished the first ball of yarn, I did the sleeves in the round before I finished the body.

Modifications: I decided not to do the garter ridges in the feather and fan pattern all the way down the body and sleeves, as the pattern specifies. I decided that for the fuller figure, the extra lumps probably weren't a good idea! So I did 3 repeats with the ridge around the neck, the base of the sleeves and the bottom of the body, and I think it's a really nice feature.

And since I was having fun with the timer on the camera, I thought I'd better do a supermodel hunchy pose - although I'm not sure I quite got the hunch right!! I was trying to remember my neck!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Orange Market Bag

I made this bag for the Ravelry Aussie Knitters Orange swap last month and I was pretty happy with it, I have to say. It's probably way over-engineered for a simple market bag (there are much easier patterns out there) but it's a really nicely constructed bag, and so very pretty, which makes it great for a gift or a more "special" sort of market bag!

Pattern: Strawberry Market Bag by Aryn Morse (Rav Link) (blog link). Really nice details in this bag. It is knitted from the top (picot edge) down, and finished with a circular base.
The handles are knitted separately, with eyelets threaded with ribbon, and sewn on. The pattern has only one longer handle, but I thought two shorter handles would be more practical for my pal.

Yarn: Just over 2 x 50g balls of Moda Vera Soya, colour 04. I saw this yarn in Spotlight, and loved the colour - thought it would be good for the orange swap (and I am on such an orange kick right now!). I've never knit with soya yarn (well, not 100% soya). It's quite similar to bamboo yarns in terms of drape and slipperiness, and can be a bit splitty but I seem to be able to manage that ok. It's got a bit of a halo, and is sort of "sticky" when knitting with it. Hard to explain, but it leaves my hands feeling almost dirty after I knit with it - I know that doesn't make it sound very pleasant, but it's not bad at all!! The knitted fabric feels really nice.

Sticks: A whole range of sizes! Thank goodness for interchangeables! 3mm for the straps, 3.5mm for the base, 4mm for the picot edge and 5mm for the bag body (I think...). The soya is a 4ply/fingering equivalent, and I wasn't sure how stretchy it would be, so knit at a slightly tighter gauge than the pattern suggests.

Time: 12-24 January 2009. As it was for a swap, and I was coming up against the deadline, I mostly knit on this project during this period - so you can see that (a) I'm a slow knitter (!) and (b) it is a bit more time consuming than many other market bag patterns. But so pretty!
What I learnt: A really handy technique for picot edges!! I was so pleased with myself! The pattern has you do a provisional cast on using a spare cable or circular needle, rather than waste yarn. The technique is the same though, and as I'd never done it, I followed the tutorial on and watched the video about 5 times before starting myself!

It was a bit tricky knitting the first row, but I got there, and the more rows you do, the less awkward it becomes having the cable sort of flapping there.

When you are ready to turn the picot edge, you just attach a needle to the cable holding the cast on stitches, and knit the live stitch and the cast on stitch together, thereby making the picot edge!
So clever! I felt like such a knitting genius when I'd knit right around the picot edge and had this!

I will be far less scared of picot edges now, because of this great method!!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

In knitting, is there much better than this?

As a knitter, one of the things I really like to do is to knit something for another knitter. And, I have to say, I don't mind having the favour returned!

Last year, 2 of my knitting buddies and I did a 3 way sock swap - we each provided our own sock yarn, and the other two knit one sock each for the pair. And we got our yarn back, but made into socks!

We decided to do it again, and invited a couple of others along for the fun! So I knit for Donni and Bells (along with Kristie and Nora, respectively), and Donni and Bells knit for me!

Nora chose a fantastic pattern for Bells's socks, which goes so fantastically with the Knittery sock yarn Bells provided - the pattern is Merino Lace Socks (Rav link) by Anne Woodbury from IK's 25 Favourite Socks. I would never have chosen this pattern for this yarn, for a couple of reasons - it's so rare to find a lace pattern which works with variegated yarn, and because the picture of these socks in the book is pretty poor - it really doesn't show off the fantastic pattern at all. So Nora chose exceptionally well, I loved this pattern in this yarn so much, I threatened not to give them back to Bells when I'd knit the second sock!

I particularly like how the pattern continues all the way from the cuff down the heel. Really really great pattern!
And for Donni, who provided a squooshy blue yarn from Have You Any Wool, I choose a toe-up pattern called Cut and Paste - lots of lovely travelling cables and a really cool heel construction - I was a bit confused when I read the pattern but I just went ahead and did it, and it worked! Knitting is magic sometimes!
And now, what you've all been waiting for - my socks!! Lovely red Koigu, made into Summer! (Rav link) socks - very cool pattern with cables and lace , and a picot edge (huzzah! I hate doing picot edges, so love love love it when others make them for me!).
Mmmm, so precious, knitting which is mine but which I didn't have to do myself! They fit perfectly - like they were made for me (heh!)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Day in My Life: Saturday 14 February 2009

Or, as it is more commonly known, Valentine's Day!

Awww, sweethearts! (My favourite is "get real" - heh!). Part of a lovely gift from my valentine, MadMad. Only problem is, I think she might be cheating on me...

I didn't really realise how big the Americans are on Valentine's Day, until I read about it on various blogs today. It's nice, but I always think that it's much nicer to be given chocolates or flowers (or whatever) on any day of the year, as a surprise, rather than on one day a year when everyone gets something (or at least everyone in some sort of relationship!). I guess the beauty of the way Americans celebrate Valentine's Day is that you can "love" as many people as you want - which is a lovely generous way of looking at things.

Anyway, back to my day. Started with a lovely sleep in. Husby was going to set the alarm last night and I convinced him to turn it off so we could just wake up whenever. What a luxury to still be in bed at 9am!

Showered, put on the first of 4 loads of washing done today, and made some toast for breakfast - with peach jam, for a change - felt like something sweet today (must have been the candy hearts!). Checked blogs and Ravelry while having breakfast - so pleased to see the donations total on Jacqueline's blog - she is having a fantastic giveaway for bushfire victim donations (via the Red Cross) - for every $10 you get a ticket in her prize draw - fantastic prices like Wollmeise, Sundara, packets of DB Baby Cashmerino, patterns and lots of other great yarny and crafty prizes! So donate, if you haven't already.

Saw the back page of the SMH, with names and photos of bushfire victims. Every time I see coverage on it, I become teary. Partly because of the terrible terrible losses, but also, now, because of a feeling of pride in the way Australia, and the world, has responded.

I wish we could send some of our rain down there - for most of this week, it's been around 20degC, and raining. A nice change from the heat of the previous weeks but weird weather to be having in summer. But it does mean I can wear my handknitted socks - huzzah!

Husby and I went to the shops for lunch and to buy a birthday present. And we did the grocery shopping while we were there. Time for a cup of coffee when got home, and husby decided to hang our clock in the lounge room. So because it's been a while, here's a husby butt shot for you. As you can see, husby didn't mind at all. But sorry ladies, he's all mine!!

We've had some bananas getting riper and riper on the bench for the last few days, so I thought I'd better use them up - time for a new recipe - banana bread, from Nigella's How to be a Domestic Goddess.

While it was in the oven baking, husby made dinner - crumbed chicken, with couscous and vegies. Crumbed chicken is his new specialty, and he does an excellent job at it.

After dinner, time for some knitting while watching Toy Story (husby LOVES his Pixar movies!!). And a lot of the extras too - I love the dvd extras!

Had to try some banana bread with our cup of tea - mmmm, it is good!

And then typing this up, with Nelly asleep on my lap. She makes herself so very comfortable, I hate to disturb her when I have to get up. A good excuse to knit a few more rows!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Was there ever such a perfect match?

Was there ever such a perfect match of yarn and pattern as for these socks?
Well, probably, but to me, these come pretty close - especially for a variegated yarn such as this fabulous Koigu KPPPM which I bought in New York two years ago (I can't believe it was that long ago, to be honest...)(maybe it was three years ago?)

Bartholomew's Tantalising Socks, from New Pathways for Sock Knitters: Book One by Cat Bordhi. Followed the pattern pretty much to a T, except for making the leg a bit shorter to compensate for the relatively short yardage on the Koigu - I didn't want to get to the toe and find I didn't have enough yarn to finish them. I did, however, do the gusset decrease bit on the second sock different (it's the part on the bottom of the foot, after the heel turn) - but that was only because I misread the pattern! So it's plain stocking stitch (on the right below), instead of reinforced (k1, sl1, then purl back) (on the left below). I'm telling myself it's so I can make an informed decision about which I like better!
But it is a pointer to the only real flaw with the book, and which I've seen many others complain about - it constantly has you flipping back and forth between the pages with the actual pattern, and the pages with the "master" instructions. I can see why it is done this way, but it does make it a bit more of a pain to follow the pattern, and particularly to make a working copy to use rather than carrying the whole book - because if you forget to copy the "master" pattern you need, you are stuffed. At least until you get home and can look at the book. But that's a relatively minor quibble with what is otherwise a great book!

Yarn: Koigu KPPPM, colour P108. I loved the orange and blue shades in this yarn and I'd always thought I'd do plain stocking stitch, until I found this pattern! The linen stitch is a perfect way to show off the colours.

Sticks: KP Harmony 2.75 mm fixed circ for the cuff part (which is knit flat for about 5cm before being joined to knit in the round, which gives the great "v" at the back of the socks), and then 2.5mm rosewood dpns (the gift in the first Wollmeise sock club package - love these rosewood sticks!)
Time: Sock 1 - 4-19 October 2008 - I remember knitting this one so quickly because I was so in love with it! I put off knitting the second sock because I had a heap of gift and swap knitting in the lead up to Christmas. So I sort of cheated, and made the second sock my first Personal Sock Club project - sock 2 was completed between 21 January 2009 (while watching the inauguration of President Obama) and 12 February 2009. As Bells has already noted, having the incentive of a new brown bag from the Personal Sock Club is great for getting socks finished! I haven't picked my new brown bag yet but will be doing so later today! I'm so excited!

What I learnt: Well, where do I start? Various Cat Bordhi techniques, but in particular her method of lifted increases, and her technique of hiding wraps - both very clever and which I've already used in other projects. I think she has videos of these on her website or youtube - check them out! And also, that there does exist great patterns for variegated yarns - you just have to choose carefully!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

I miss my Dad

Today is the 3rd anniversary of my Dad's death. I always regret not having started to knit socks before Dad died, I would have loved to make socks for him. Although he probably would have found them too hot! He always used to tease mum about being cold-blooded.

But I did finish a big project for him before he died, so I thought I'd share it with you. It's not exactly to my taste, but it is the sort of thing often made for parents (or for the local show by the stereotypical crochet nannas!).
Yep, a crochet tartan blanket! Actually, you know, I tell a lie about it not being my taste. I've often thought about making one of these for myself, but using just two colours, more like gingham. One day, maybe.
Fortunately I noted in the pattern book when I started it - 8 June 2002. I know I gave the unfinished blanket to Dad for Christmas one year, before he had his stroke. And I know I finished it in the weeks after his stroke, I wanted to make sure he had it before the inevitable.
I worked on it at night after we left the hospital, and I had it done in time to give to him while he was in rehab, I think sometime in November 2004. Even though it must have been hot he had it on his bed in the rehab unit, and he even convinced one (obviously gullible!) nurse that he'd made it!
I'm not sure he ever used it as a knee rug (it's pretty warm - it's basically a woven 8ply/DK rug, so in effect two layers) - not to mention heavy - but I know he loved it and I'm glad I was able to finish it for him to enjoy for a few more years (details on Ravelry).

I miss my Dad.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

SHOESday: Did you miss me?

You know, I thought I'd run out of shoes to post. I tossed up about coming clean on the blog or just to stop posting and see if anyone noticed ... but not one single comment (well, except from Bells, my twin!).

And then I realised I did have a pair to flash - and no, they aren't new!! I bought them nearly 4 years ago in Singapore - I had the choice of a handbag (which was fabulous, although somewhat impractical, I have to admit) or these shoes.

I think I made the right choice!

I love the detail on the heel - really most excellent shoes!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Keeping Track - January 2009

As promised, I'm keeping up the stash honesty this year, with some minor changes. I'm not going to count gift yarn or yarn received in swaps - because these things I am not responsible for choosing! (well, I sort of am in swaps, but you know what I mean!). I will still note them, but separate to the stuff I actually make a conscious decision to buy. I was going to count yardage as well as 50g balls (or equivalent) but it's too much work (especially trying to work out yardage used)!! So I'll stick with the basic method!

The biggest acquisition this month was a bag of Grignasco Tango - I blame Donna and her gorgeous Tangled Yoke cardigan!! Another cardigan for my queue...the sideways cable is just amazing!
And I had to liberate two large balls of Lion Cotton from the remnants bin at Spotlight - they were naked, unloved, and half price, but I knew I could give them a good home.

And of course there was a bit of gift/swap yarn, some of which I've flashed already, but here's some more:
Lovely purple (not blue!) Rowanspun 4ply from Ramblybear (Ravelry). I've never knit with this before so am looking forward to using it!
Orange Tweedly sock yarn handdyed and surprise gifted to me by Sproutknits - LOVE!!
And more orange goodness from Madaco (Ravelry) via the Ravelry Australian Swappers Orange Swap - a whole bunch of fab orange things, plus orange and purple sock yarn and more Lion Cotton - I think I'm going to make a short sleeved summery Liesl from it. Love that shade of orange!
So what's the score?

In: 16 x 50g balls (plus 13.5 x 50g as gifts or swaps)

Out: 6.5 x 50g balls - not sure why it was such a slow month - I think because I was knitting mainly with 4ply/fingering yarn - which takes longer than the thicker yarns.

YTD: +9.5 x 50g balls (hee hee, I assure you, it could have been worse!!)