Sunday, May 31, 2009

Who doesn't love a knitting playdate?

Not me! I LOVE a knitting playdate! Even more, I love having lots of them! I had two this week, in addition to my regular Thursday date with the Morris & Sons SnB group.

First up was brunch with Jen on Monday - of course, I forgot my camera, so no visual record of this one, but the company was grand and the eggs benedict was delicious!!

Then Tuesday with PoppyLee and NannaMarge (otherwise known as Fredastep and 1FunkyKnitWit), and a special guest appearance from KnitNess. Another lovely day with lots of knitting, and a very fancy lunch:
Some knitwear modelling (PoppyLee and his stylist!):
Ishbel had her first day out (competing with Poppy's butterfly):
And mini-cheesecakes and coffee for fancy dessert (look at the crystal serving ware!):
(you can read more about the cheesecakes here).

Have I mentioned how much I LOVE knitting playdates!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Swishy-ishy Ishbel

Rumble rumble rumble...oof!
Yep, that's the sound of me jumping on the latest bandwagon as it passes by - there's so many lovely versions of Ishbel out there that I had to make one for myself. And I figured with all the stocking stitch, it would be a great project to take with me to Tasmania - lovely knitting without needing to refer to a chart (well, for a while anyway).

I was looking through my stash working out what yarn to use, when I found this little lovely:
I bought this gorgeous skein in New York on my epic yarn tour over 2 years ago, because I fell in love with the colours - not to mention the softness of this yarn. I wasn't sure whether the colours might be a bit much in the stocking stitch part of the shawl, but now that it's done, I'm in love!

Pattern: Ishbel by Ysolda Teague - available as an individual pattern or in her lovely collection Whimsical Little Knits. I made the large size, as I like the versatility it offers - can be worn as a light shoulder shawl or as a scarf/neckerchief style. Very well-written pattern, just make sure you read the pattern as well as referring to the charts, as you repeat some of the charts - so don't just knit each chart once, as they appear on the page!

Yarn: Sirino by The Great Adirondack Yarn Company, a lovely fingering weight (4ply for us Aussies) 50/50 blend of silk and merino. The skein was 150g and 675 yards. I used just over 100g (and here I was putting in lifelines while I was knitting as I was paranoid about running out of yarn!! I've got stacks left over!!). It's gorgeous gorgeous yarn - so soft, with the lovely sheen from the silk and a bit of body and lightness from the merino.
Sticks: 4mm KP Harmony options.

Time: 1 May 2009 - 24 May 2009 - I zoomed through this! (well, that's fast for me!). Being away from home on holiday helped of course, and it was so lovely I wanted to finish it as soon as I could.

What I learnt: This is a very straightforward knit, so not a huge challenge in terms of learning, but it was the first time I'd done a wrong side cast off requiring the p2tog, slip stitch back to left needle, p2tog etc. It makes a really nice chain stitch edge on the front of the piece. It also had a very neat method of starting too.

Overall, I couldn't be happier with this shawl! The only issue I have is that it doesn't really go with anything in my wardrobe ... darn, looks like I might have to buy some new clothes to match it!! What a happy predicament!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It's a Treasure all right!

I'm so very happy I decided to dig up this Buried Treasure from my personal sock club!

There was a lot of work in these socks (cables.every.second.row!) but they were worth it!

Pattern: Buried Treasure by Sivia Harding. First published in Yarn magazine, #8, now also available direct from Sivia Harding (via Ravelry). Lovely pattern - I love the large cable which runs down the front of the leg and top of the foot, the intricate little cables around the back of the leg, and in particular, how the cabling from the side continues down the foot and is eventually decreased away - very very clever!

Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock Lightweight, in Beryl - 1 skein plus 10g. I thought I would have enough yarn for this pattern, but since I made the large size, and because of all the cables, when I finished the first sock and weighed it, and then weighed the skein, I realised immediately I'd run short - sigh!

So I turned to Ravelry. Ah, love Ravelry! I found someone in the US with some leftover STR in their stash, and asked her if she would be able to spare it - and to my joy, she could! So a HUGE thanks to Nora7 on Rav, who not only sent me her leftover yarn, but also sent some KoolAid and chocolate! Some big karma points (plus tim tams and various other goodies) for Nora7!

So this is where I ended up with the first skein of STR, plus the extra from Nora7 - thank goodness I found a kind soul who could help me with this wonderful yarn!

Sticks: 2.5mm KP Fixed circular - magic loop. This pattern is written for socks on two circs or magic loop - it's much easier to manage all the cabling this way, although you could of course use dpns. I upsized from the recommended 2.25mm sticks, although in hindsight I could have used the smaller needles. I was worried about having enough room in the leg, as the cables pull the pattern in, but as it is they are slightly loose - which is fine, as that's how husby likes his socks!
Time: Not as long as I initially thought - I remember the first few rows after the cuff took me hours! But once I got into the swing of things with the cables, it was much easier and quicker (thank goodness!). And once on the foot, even more so, given the cable was only one side, and the number of stitches on the needles had decreased from 92 down to 72. So 30 March 2009 - 20 May 2009.
Modifications: As noted, I used a size larger needles. I also decided to change the way the pattern is set up on sock two, to avoid having to break the yarn and rejoin when doing the heel. I wish I'd thought that through a bit more before I rushed in and did it, as it meant I had to do an extra row to get the yarn in the right place for the heel, and it really was a bit of a pain (although not as much of a pain as breaking and rejoining yarn...I think!). I also omitted the beads - I just don't like the idea of beaded socks (although never say never!). Lucky though, as after I started this pattern I decided I'd give these socks to husby, and I'm pretty sure he's not a beaded sock man!
What I learnt: To think through modifications to their logical end, BEFORE I rush in and do them! Overall, I love these socks! And finishing these means another brown bag from my personal sock club - woo hoo!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

There was NO extra suitcase!

Contrary to popular belief rumour, I did NOT have to bring an extra suitcase back from Tasmania - either for yarn or for shoes!

I might have had to unzip the expander on my suitcase though. And the expander on my mum's (much smaller) suitcase. Tasmania's got some good yarn stores!! And did I mention some superfabulous bloggy friends? Oh yes, I met the famed Tinkingbell and the gorgeous Ms 2Paw!

I thought I'd give myself some time away from my Mum so she didn't drive me completely nuts Mum some time alone with her friends so I hired a car and did a little road trip for a few days.

First stop was the Tasmanian Wool Centre (no, not Tinkingbell's house - although I think it probably is the REAL wool centre of Tasmania!) - the actual Tasmanian Wool Centre, at Ross.
It had a little wool museum, where you could touch lots of different fleeces, and lots of knitted garments (mostly machine knits, but some baby and toddler handknits), other touristy stuff, and some yarn - real live actual Tasmanian yarn! Mr Rudd would be proud of my purchases - doing my civic duty to spend spend spend and support the local economy!
The fawn and brown yarn is the softest 8ply/DK yarn, from the east coast - big big skeins. The green labelled yarn is natural alpaca from Classic Park Alpaca Stud and the white balls are English Leicester - grown in Tasmania too (Wansted Park)! It's not quite as soft as the other, but I've never knit with it before so thought I'd give it a whirl!

(oh, and Ross is a lovely little town - well worth a stopover and a poke around the shops and the old bakery, which is about 150 years old, as well as the Wool Centre).

Next stop was Tinkingbell's! For some unknown reason, I didn't take any pictures there (sorry voyeurs!). I did have the full tour though, including all (I think...) the stash hidey holes and the view from the turret! Wow! And some of you think I have a lot of yarn. I'm a mere novice compared to superstasher Tink!! I had two nights with Tink and her family (her kids really took to me, which was lovely), including some imbibing of alcohol, some eating, some book reading (to the kids), some knitting, and yes, some yarn shopping - a very nice little yarn store on the main street in Ulverstone yielded this:
And to come entirely clean - I bought a whole bag of the Tango, not just these 3 balls...

Before the kids could tire of me, I headed back to Richmond, via Launceston where I met Ms 2Paw along with DarksideKnitter and her mum. We had a great time knitting (well duh!) and having tea and scones (well, that was me anyway ...). And then Ms 2Paw took me the LYS, Knits Needles and Woo (the "l" came off the sign - heh!). Where I picked up these:
Another ball of the elusive red Patonyle, and 3mm and 3.25mm KnitPicks tips! The ladies in the store were just unpacking them when we arrived!

Oh, and I mustn't forget, Ms 2Paw gave me presents! Fabulous things! A RoseRed sock project bag and a zippy case as well, plus gorgeously soft red yarn, Tasmanian fudge and a little Tassie devil phone charm (see, more Tasmanian wildlife!). Such lovely bags, I've been using the sock bag for my Cauchy socks, and the zippy bag for the small stuff I can never find in my handbag (now I can!!)
Our hosts in Richmond took us to Salamanca markets. While there were a few stalls with knitted hats and scarves, none had yarn, which was disappointing, although not surprising. But fortunately I sniffed out two yarn stores at Salamanca, in the permanent shops there. The Tasmanian Woollen Co sells fantastic garments (both machine and handknitted) and an eclectic range of yarn - it didn't seem to have a large range but had some very nice stuff...including this, which I'd not come across before:
Bamboo sock yarn called Happy! 75/25 bamboo/nylon - I can't wait to knit this up and see how it goes as socks! I was indeed most happy when I saw this!
And right next door is a wee shop called The Spindle Inn, a co-op selling yarn, fibre, handknits and the like. Including handdyed sock yarn! Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! So hard to choose, but this is what I came away with:
All in all, a most successful visit in terms of yarn and in particular, bloggy friend meetups! Making friends (and actually meeting some of them in real life) through this blog has been one of the most unexpected, but wonderful, things that blogging has brought me!
Oh, and for those who asked, the orange shoes are from Nu by Neo, and the style name is "Grab"! An entirely appropriate name, I think!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

SHOESday: Orange you glad I went to Tasmania!

Of course you are! Why?

Because you know how you can buy stuff on holidays because they count as souvenirs? Well, that means more shoes for me!
I found these at a little shop in Ulverstone, which I went into a whim after a succesful yarn store visit (thanks to Tinkingbell - what a surprise!). A little gem of a store, with some great boots, heels and comfy shoes.

Since I'm being practical right now, it's all about the comfy, but I think a bit funky, shoe that I can wear with jeans. And handknitted socks, preferably.
As you know, I'm having a bit of a love affair with orange lately, so when I saw these, I had to try them on. And then they were SO COMFORTABLE that I was sold. Oh, ok, I know, I was sold on a pair of shoes before I even walked in the store!
But you know what? I don't really have any (handknitted) socks that match these shoes! Guess that's just a good excuse to buy more yarn...
But that's a story for another day!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Animals of Tasmania

Tasmania is famed for two native animals in particular - one is the Tasmanian Devil (not at all like the cartoon version, well, except maybe for the teeth!) and the other is the Tasmanian Tiger. Which is thought to be extinct, but as this photo shows, it is clearly not! (look very very closely in the bushes!)
(Well, at least, not in Little Hobart Town in the 1820s/30s anyway...)

But the animals I'm really talking about are these:

Turkeys! (and a chook!)

Poddy calves!
Mumma cows!
And of course, sheep! Lovely suffolk sheep, born entirely black but when matured have white wool.
I was most disappointed to find these sheep are not much for the wool, much more for the eating. In fact, I ate some the last night I was there (not one of these particular ones though!)

That's the way it is on the farms. All of these animals, except the ducks, were from the farm we stayed on. Despite my having grown up in country NSW, I did not grow up on a farm (there were times when I felt I should tattoo that on my forehead - no, not everyone who grew up in the country lived on a farm!) Mum and Dad did farm though, before I was born, and many of my uncles and aunts were farmers, as well as parents of friends. Even though I know where meat comes from, I still don't quite have that ability to deal in such a practical manner with the getting of the meat from the paddock to the table. Milk and eggs are a bit different, aren't they. Thank goodness for farmers who provide the food for us to eat.

Speaking of which, the milk from the cows from the farm where we stayed (it's a bit like that "There was an old lady who swallowed a fly" song isn't it!) is used to make this cheese:
From the Wicked Cheese company. Next time you are in Tasmania (or a really good cheese shop) buy some! It's from happy cows who frolic in Richmond!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

In case you were wondering...

In case you were wondering, I have been away! Hence the lack of posting, which I shall attempt to make up for this week!

For the last 10 days, I've been in Tasmania. Same country, different island, a whole world away (in some respects anyway). My mum has some dear friends down there and I somehow promised I'd take her to visit them this year, for her birthday (since she had a special 'ends in zero' birthday this year).

They live on a small dairy farm just outside Richmond, which is in the south of Tasmania, about half an hour from the capital, Hobart. Richmond is famous for its Georgian buildings:
(this was originally the Post Office, I believe. Now it is an upmarket furniture and homewares store).

Secondly, the model of Hobart from about the 1820s or '30s. Quite expensive to get into, but pretty neat to visit. Slightly crafty in nature now (it is showing its age a bit) but shows a nice sense of humour and/or realism in what some of the characters who people Little Hobart Town are doing (normal sized people in the background for scale!).
On the right you can see some convicts escaping over the wall of the Gaol. What you can't see, until you round the corner, is the soldier waiting in the trees over to the side to capture them! Also in the scene on the left above is a convict being lashed and one on the gallows. Pretty grim is some of our history.
And finally, Richmond Bridge. Built 1823 by convict labour, the oldest bridge in Australia still in use. I know 1823 isn't old compared to European, South American or Asian, recorded history in particular, but for a young (in Whitefella terms) country, it's almost as old as you can get.
Looking at these sandstone stairs at the side of the bridge, you can see the wear on them from thousands of feet over the past almost 200 years and I always wonder at the thoughts of the owners of the feet as they climbed them.
Tasmania really turned on the crisp autumn weather for us. More during this week about my adventures! Including cute animals! And yarn! And bloggers!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

My precious Pearl

At last, at last, my precious Pearl is done. I could hardly believe it when I finished the last 2 pieces (I knit both the sleeves at the same time, racing against my fear that I wouldn't have enough yarn).

I am pretty much in love. Love! There are some minor things I'd probably change, but overall, LOVE! So you'll have to bear with me, there are quite a few photos...sorry about that!

Pattern: Pearl Buck Swing Jacket, by Kate Gilbert. First published in IK Winter 2005, then in IK's The Best of Interweave Knits: Favourite Designs from the First Ten Years. It's a favourite for good reason - classic elegant design with fabulous features and the cleverest pleat construction (which I've blogged about here). I think if I were to make it again, I'd probably make the body slightly longer (particularly as the back, with the pleat, is a bit heavier and pulls the fronts up a bit during wear), and I'd think about making the sleeves longer.

I do love a 3/4 or bracelet length sleeve though, and I think the overall look is better with the sleeves shorter than the body. I also love the horizontal ribbed edging - very easy and effective - 2 rows purl, 2 rows knit, ending on 2 rows purl, before starting into the stocking stitch sections.
Yarn: Jaeger Extrafine Merino DK in 994 Peacock. I think I used 12 balls, although I bought 13 (or maybe 14). In any event, when I had only the sleeves to go, I had 4 balls of yarn left. As the sleeves are quite bell-shaped, I was worried I wouldn't have enough to finish them, but I made it with a ball to spare - phew. This is gorgeous yarn, sadly discontinued. Very similar to Filatura di Crosa Zara, another favourite of mine. Soft and with a lovely twist, it makes plain old stocking stitch look something special.
Sticks: 4mm KP Harmony Options. Loved knitting this yarn with these sticks!

Time: Well, if you include dreaming time, this project has been on the go for some time. It is one of the first things I decided I wanted to make when the world of knitting blogs opened up to me, and I trawled eBay and destash listings (this was before the wonderful world of Ravelry) until I got a second hand copy of the IK in which it was printed. (Not sure why I didn't just buy it new, direct from IK...). I actually started knitting it on 24 May 2008, and finished it on 29 April 2009 - just under a year!

What I learnt: I spent a long time blocking the pieces - I wanted to make sure that, as far as I could, I pinned them to the schematic measurements, and more importantly, that each piece was the same size as its equivalent (both sleeves, both front pieces), and that the size of each matched each other - ie that the back and fronts were the same length, that the yoke was the same distance across as the pleated piece etc. It was really worth it. I also pinned the pleat into place, which of course meant it took an age to dry - but again, worth it.
I also took extra special care with the seaming. Even got out my little Vogue quick reference book to refer to. And I think it shows!

I'm pretty darn happy with the seams, if I do say so myself! All that lovely knitting and gorgeous yarn deserved some good seams!

Mattress stitch, how I love thee!

The fronts, of course, curl. But I'm ok with that, as the real action is in the back.

And because it is a swing thing, I had to swing for you:

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee ...

eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee ...

eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee ...


Hmmm, giddy now...