Monday, March 30, 2009

Personal Sock Club - package #3!

I put in a big effort on the weekend and finished my Hederas (Hederae?) - the thought of a new package from the club really helped motivate me, I have to say. Am so loving my sock club!!
I told husby I'd finished and now it was time for another brown bag and he asked if he could pick it - but of course!
He put a lot of thought into it...
And selected this one, which he also wanted to open - because the yarn means so much to him, heh!
I was really happy - I'd actually forgotten I put this yarn (STR Lightweight in Beryl) in the club (see, perfect, it's working, this sock club thing!). I had a couple of pattern ideas, both cabled socks.
The green one (which is made in this very same yarn) is Tilting Cables by Chrissy Gardiner, published in IK Winter 2007. The blue one is Buried Treasure by Sivia Harding, published in Yarn Issue 8 (and also self-published by the designer). I checked them both out on Rav, and a few of the people who tried Tilting Cables found it too tight and frogged it. Since the Buried Treasure sock comes in two sizes, I thought it might be a better bet (although I'm not using the beads).
Cast on this afternoon (squeeeeeeeee!) - love how it's knitting up so far...but you'll have to wait for pics until another day (sorry!)

Friday, March 27, 2009

The adventures of the lonely sock

Dear Gentle Readers

Today I'd like to share with you the tale of the lonely red sock. 'Tis a tale full of adventure, action sorrow, drama, tragedy, and of course, true love and personal fulfilment.
The sock, it is true, was just as pretty as all its neighbours in the wooded village of Sockdrawr. Sockdrawr was but a small village, both in size and in the closeness of the living quarters. But it was a very exclusive area, as only handknitted socks were permitted to live in Sockdrawr. LonelySock didn't mind this though, as she didn't know any different.
What LonelySock did mind was that all the other socks in Sockdrawr had a mate, a life-partner, someone to keep them warm at night. Sometimes, one of the pairs of socks would leave the confines of Sockdrawr and have an adventure, and when they returned, LonelySock would hear them whispering about it to each other. And sharing experiences with the other pairs of socks. But not with LonelySock.
LonelySock decided to do something about it. She would have an adventure, and hopefully find her other half, a sock with she could live in harmony until the ultimate fate of all socks, only whispered about as "Worn Through". Or sometimes "Felted". LonelySock didn't exactly know what these words meant, just that they were bad. The socks didn't like to speak of them.
One day, while all the other socks were sleeping, she crept out of Sockdrawr. She had wrapped up all her worldly possessions to take with her and she entered out of Sockdrawr, and even out of the district of Howse - she'd never been out of Howse before, except way back when she was a skein, she vaguely remembered being in a different district, AnotherHowse, and a trip in a BigCar, before she arrived at Howse.
LonelySock was a little bit scared when she was outside of the confines of Howse. "It's a big world", she thought to herself. But she whistled a jaunty tune as she jumped down the stairs.
She was lucky to just be out of the way of a lowflying Qantas. It gave her a terrible shock, but at least now she knew what the noise was that she had often heard in a distance when she was back in Sockdrawr.
She was intrigued to come across a miniature grey beast in the wild. She heard others call it an Elefant. And even that Elefants were the biggest animals in the world. She thought that must have been a mistake, as she was bigger than the Elefant.
She went in search of her mate - she knew there had to be a mate out there somewhere for her. But where?
She tried exclusive snooty clubs
She drank tea in little cafes
She went to wine bars. That wasn't such a good idea...
She was started to despair of ever finding the One. Feeling a bit low, and acting on an age-old theory, she went shopping in WoolworthsinDoubleBay. She couldn't believe it. Just as she put the bananas in the top of her shopping cart, her toe locked toes with a sock across the aisle. (cue the rising music)
It was love at first sight! She wasted no time in getting to know the One.
She was so happy she had finally found her sole mate. All that awaited them was the ceremony which would bind them together forever, their ultimate fulfilment in life.
The BeingWorn ceremony. The ultimate sign of their commitment to each other.
And they lived happily ever after.

Roll credits...thanks to Kylie, without whom this story, and the happy ending, would not have been possible.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Did someone say the c word?

No, not that word!

The c word I'm talking about is cashmere. Mmmmm casssshhhhhhhmere.

The reason I mention cashmere is a very exciting one (as if you need a reason). Remember a few weeks ago I mentioned the giveaway organised by Serendipity in support of the Victorian bushfire fundraising? She organise a huge range of prize donations, which resulted in over $20,000 donated to the Red Cross appeal - a fantastic result!

I was most excited when she contacted me after the prize drawings to advise I was one of the lucky prize winners - I won the Colourmart cashmere prize! Woo hoo, I thought, as I headed over to the Colourmart site (go on, you know you want to as well ... just finish reading this first, m'kay!). Then I thought, oh, maybe I'd better see exactly what I've won, as they've got such a huge range. So I checked back on Serendipity and read that it was a kilo of cashmere. Let me just say that again, so you can be sure: A KILO OF CASHMERE. I thought, no, it must be a mistake, it must be just a cone (their cones are 150g - so when I say "just" a cone, I mean, OMG a cone would be so great!).

So I thought I'd wait until Colourmart got in touch with me before I got carried away with choosing. And when the email came from Richard, confirming it was A KILO and that he'd be happy to send me some samples to help me choose whatever colours and weights of yarn I wanted from their stock, I still could hardly believe it. Thank you SO MUCH Colourmart!

After much reading on their site and on the Ravelry Colourmart group, I received my requested samples last week - enough to knit a small swatch of each. From top to bottom, you can see 2/14 (light fingering or 4ply), 6/28 (fingering or 4ply, but with 6 plies of yarn), heavy laceweight 3/28(3ply), laceweight 2/28 (2ply). I wanted to try the fingering weights as I thought a lightweight cassssshhhhhhhhmere cardigan would be lovely, and the laceweights because, um hello, do I even have to explain why??!

So I set to knitting my swatches - both of the laceweights in the twig pattern from Nancy Bush's Lace Knitting in Estonia, using 3.25mm sticks, and the fingering weights in a basketweavey pattern using 2.75mm sticks (I'll explain why in a minute).

Here's the laceweights, pre-blocking:

And post-blocking:

I found the blue heavy laceweight slightly easier to knit with, but I think the yellow finer laceweight looks better when blocked. But I think the heavy LW could be knit with bigger sticks too. Both are lovely I think! A cone of each, check!

And here's the fingering weights, pre-blocking:

And post-blocking:

The red (which is the 2/14) has a lovely drape, at this gauge I think the brown (6/28) is a bit too stiff. And here's the reason why I knit these swatches using 2.75mm sticks:

I LOVE this cardigan (Fontaine from Rowan 44). And only partly because I would so love to swan around in it with a feathered turban style hat, a tweedy cravat and suede gloves, and of course my flared skirt and voluminous petticoats. But of course, here's the downside - this cardi is knit using 2.75mm sticks at a gauge of 35 st and 44 rows over 10cm (4"). Neither of which I could get with either of the cashmere yarns (red swatch - 32 st x 46 rows, brown 30 st x 44 rows). So my dilemma is whether to get enough of the 2/14 (which had lovely drape) to make this cardigan, and worry about the gauge/maths later, or do I go for something else entirely? Should I get a range of weights and make lovely lacy shawls and scarves and other smaller items? Oh the agony of choice! How lucky am I!

The other relevant factor in all this is that the yarns are primarily designed to be used for machine knit garments - and so in addition to coming on cones with incredible yardage, they are also oiled. It is recommended that if you are knitting a garment or anything where size is important, that you wash the yarn before knitting with it (most people use Dawn detergent - I don't know what the equivalent is to this in Australia - or shampoo). It also means skeining it off the cone in order to wash it as well. For shawls etc, this is not so important, and many people don't do it. I didn't wash my mini-skeins before swatching, and the yarn was fine (it doesn't feel or smell oily) and it bloomed wonderfully on washing. But if I'm going to do a cardigan, that is a bit of extra work - not that I'm complaining - but it's good to know I have to be prepared!!

What do you think? Should I get enough for this (or another) cardi? What would you do? Oh, and don't forget to go and have a look, and maybe buy some of their yarn (they also sell silk, merino, alpaca and blends) if you are so tempted - such a generous prize deserves lots of rewards!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I've been baking...

You can read about it here. Perhaps some of my American friends can tell me if it's "traditional" or not!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Good Day Sunshine!

Today marked the first day of the rest of my life. Or my second life. Not sure, not sure what you call it when your role is made redundant and you leave the organisation you've worked for, in a range of roles, for the last 14 and a half years, or the whole of your adult working life.

But I've been looked after and so I'm lucky to be able to afford to take a few months off to work out what I want to do next - which I'm pretty happy about really. Sad, of course, to be leaving work and most particularly my work buddies, but it's not like I can't see them any more. And now I've got lots of time to work on the house and especially the garden (not to mention my knitting!).

My first day of "freedom" started off like this:
Breakfast and the newspaper on the sunny front verandah. Nelly thought it looked good so she joined me.
I made the first of my daily to-do lists - I think this is important because I know from experience that if I have a day off without any goals, I will achieve nothing (well, excespt a lot of tv watching and knitting!)

Did some important reading (one of my farewell gifts from the lovely Ms S):
(because mabye if I'm the bestest housewife ever, husby won't want me to go back to paid employment!)
And ended the day with a bit more sunshine:
Which I'll tell you more about in my next post - and yes, you can expect some more regular posting from me now!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Day in My Life: Saturday 14 March 2009

Hurray, it's Saturday! Sleep in day! Except I woke up with a runny nose at 2.30am, and then again at 6am. But I'm glad I rolled over and went back to sleep, and finally got up at about 8.45am.

Now, I had to be at Circular Quay at 11am, so I thought I'd better check the train timetable - ack, train at 10.23, so had a shower, ate some breakfast and spent about 20 minutes trying to decide what knitting I was taking with me - because my 11am meeting was my first Inner City Branch meeting of the NSW Knitting Guild, which I joined for the first time this year!

Since we needed milk, Husby kindly agreed to drop me off at the train station, so he could pick up the milk as well. Something we always notice about the area in which we live is how green it always is - lots of trees and plants and well-tended gardens. Even at the train station.

Got to the Quay at just the right time, met my work buddy Al who was coming along to Guild as a guest (and who joined there - yay!). The meeting was great - there were about 30 people and the thing I really enjoyed was the show and tell bit (yep, like school - stand up, introduce self and show off a piece of your knitting) - it was really cool to see what people were knitting - some from the latest IK, others from web freebies and others from pages torn out of old magazines. And then it was time for tea or coffee and cakes and chat! And suddenly it was 2pm!

The meetings are held in the library at Customs House (I did not even know there was a library here) - in this pic, the room on the left, on the third floor, above the arched window, where the window is slightly up, is our meeting room - a lovely light big space - it was great.

Train home, and no lift from the station so had to walk. Here's the hill of doom - although it doesn't look so bad in the picture - but trust me, it's a tough one. And it never gets any easier (sigh!)

Had some fish in the fridge which really needed to be used, so cooked it up and had the healthiest lunch ever! Look, everyone, salad! Green stuff - lots of it!

And I ate it all too.

Spent some time catching up on blogs, and then worked on Mum's Alpine Lace Shawl, which has been in hibernation for some time. I realised a little while ago that mum is turning 70 next month, so thought maybe I should get this finished for that...the main problem is I'm only a third of the way through and it's challenging to work on while also watching tv. Although I did manage it today while watching the news.

Husby came home from visiting his family, and does what he mostly always does - turns on the computer...heh, it's not that bad, really!!

Nelly came in to say hello and please give me a drink. Then she went back outside to sit in the weeds. (Geez, I really must weed that garden soon!)

Spent the evening knitting on Pearl Buck (finished one of the front pieces - yay!) and watching the Sound Relief concert on the foxtel. Nice. It's getting really late now (it's nearly tomorrow!) so am off to bed.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Half done Hedera

I was pretty happy when I pulled this brown bag out of the personal sock club drawer a few weeks ago.
I'd just joined a new Ravelry group for lovers of Cookie.a sock patterns and I've seen some great Hederas around - I thought this yarn would work really well for the lace pattern - variegated but very subtly, so as not to compete with the lace.
And yay, I was right! (well, at least, I think so!!). Interesting how photos show up things more prominantly (like the purple stripe around the leg) that are not nearly as obvious in real life!
I'm really pleased with the way this sock has knitted up. I wasn't that keen on the pattern at first - for some reason I couldn't remember the stitches and it just wasn't flowing. But I kept at it and it didn't take long to come together in my head, and onto the needles.

Now I just have to cast on - and finish - the second sock...

And speaking of sock yarn, looky what arrived for me in the mail yesterday:
Lovely lovely Cascade Heritage sock yarn from Geek Knitter! I was lucky enough to be a winner in her blog giveaway and she assures me the random number generator picked this yarn for me - it was clearly meant to be! I love it and am really excited to be trying this yarn!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Was it a long lacy summer?

Lucky I've got this blog, or else I'd have thought I did next to no lace knitting this summer, in Bells' unofficial long lacy summer KAL. But looking back the other day, I realised that even though I made absolutely no start on this grand plan, I did actually knit (or crochet) a lot of lace. Just not with laceweight yarn!

It started with this:

Then there was this:

And this:
And this:

AND this:
(see, I told you I was on an orange kick!

The thing that strikes me as I look back on these projects (most of which I have to admit were not chosen with the Long Lacy Summer in mind) is that how versatile lace knitting really is. It's not just gorgeous airy shawls in fine yarns, but is very adaptable to different weights of yarns and different items, like socks, bags and garments. Without even really meaning to, what a lovely lacy time I had!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Keeping Track - February 2009

Oh dear, is it March already? That means it's time to come clean on the stash. Again. And thanks to various sales, it's been a good? bad? month for the stash enhancement.

Grignasco Tango in a lovely charcoal, bought on sale from Clegs in Melbourne.

Rowan Kid Classic in Smoke (black), bought on sale from Cassidy's in Canberra (thanks Bells!). Should have taken it out of the bag, but didn't want to break the seal!

And Rowan True 4ply Botany, lovely shade of red, from eBay.

So, to it:

In: 26 x 50g balls of yarn
Out: 10 x 50g balls of yarn

YTD: 25.5 x 50g balls (and, sigh, I can already tell you March is not going to be any better!).