Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What could be more Australian?

What could be more Australian than this:
(hope you can tell what it is...!!)

I had a bunch of the best knitters over this afternoon, and as it also happens to be Australia Day today, I thought a pavlova was in order. And fairy bread. And lamingtons. And tim tams. Iced vo-vos. Passiona (almost everyone had some passiona!). Scones with jam and cream. And because Australia is a multicultural country, portuguese tarts. And PB&J sandwiches. Rice crispy treats. And snickerdoodles! Oh, and chocolate tart, just because we can.
I do often think about how glad I am to be Australian. I'm not going to bang on about it, as I'm not particularly overtly patriotic, but I'm so very glad I am a citizen of a country which has universal health care, generous (albeit unpaid) parental leave, paid parental leave as well (finally!), an actual legally enforced minimum wage which a person can (just) live on, a female Prime Minister and female Premiers in 3 of the 6 states as well as a female Governor-General, not to mention great weather, beautiful beaches and countryside and a general laid back attitude. I'm sure I've missed a lot of other worthy stuff, so feel free to add anything else you love about Australia in the comments, my Australian friends!

We're not perfect, as a people or a country, but I really am so very glad that I was born here. And not just because pavlova is one of our national dishes (never mind it's probably from New Zealand...)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I shall call him Mini-me

I promised to make a mini version of husby's cardi and I always keep my promises (well mostly...). When the opportunity arose to test knit a pattern for Celia which was a pretty close match, I thought well why not! And even better, it is top down and seamless!

Pattern: Alex Jacket by Celia Ng - this is a great kids pattern - not only top down and seamless but has a range of options for you to mix and match - I did the collared version with ribbing at the sides and on the cuffs and bands, but you can do no collar, or a hood, or cables (where the raglan "seams" are), or garter edging or moss stitch edging. And it comes in sizes from 12mo to 8yo. I will be sure to knit this one again, probably every year until it no longer fits Connor!

I really like the raglan increases - the pattern has you do a yo increase and then purl it through the back loop on the way back, to close the hole. I wasn't sure it would work, but it did! I'm really glad I trusted the pattern, because I learnt something! Yay for testing knitting and GAAK!
And, even better, if you buy this pattern before the end of January, Celia is donating half of the price to the Queensland Premier's Flood Appeal - nice! (you can buy the pattern separately or with the companion pattern Lee which is for a jumper with the same sorts of options). A good deal I think!

Yarn: The leftover Cascade220 from husby's cardi - 1.5 skeins of the Olive Heathers (9448) and just under 50g of the Cordovan (brown). I only just scraped it in with the green - I literally ran out of yarn just as I finished the last row of the second sleeve!
Sticks: 4mm KnitPicks Harmony options for the cuffs and bands, 4.5mm KP Harmony options for the body of the cardigan.

Time: 20 December 2010 - 7 January 2011 (my first FO for 2011, weeeeee!). Thanks to a couple of long drives and general sitting around time over Christmas, I managed to finish this quite quickly.
Modifications: I made the collar a bit shorter than the pattern suggests, and I ensured the ribbing down the sides flowed neatly into the ribbing along the bottom edge (which just meant starting my ribbing with a p1 instead of a k1). And I did the buttonbands all the way up along the collar, as I wasn't convinced it would look ok if I stopped at the bottom of the collar - although once I saw the other test knits I realised it would have been fine! But I'm happy with it the way it is (as long as it fits Connor when winter arrives - which I'm sure it will!)

What I learnt: The pattern suggests a stretchy bind off for the bottom band and sleeve cuffs. I decided I'd try Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off. Yes, it is very stretchy! I'm not sure I love how it looks though, it's kind of lumpy-ish. I think it'd be fine on a sock, but if I was doing this again, I'd probably do a tubular bind off on this garment - I'm not sure why it didn't occur to me in the first place, since I used a 1x1 rib! Next time!
I also learnt that when changing colours between a ribbed band and the main part of the body, it's a good idea to do the first plain row after (or before, whichever is the case) of the ribbing in the same colour as the ribbing - I did this on the collar but forgot on the bottom band - and it means that the first row of the bottom band ribbing is actually in the green. It's not hugely noticeable, but I think it's much neater - a nice finishing touch.

Now, the big question is - what buttons?? As you will have noticed, there are none. These are the options:
I like the brown patterned ones, but as they are coconut shell, I think I'll go for the green ones - not a perfect match, but more practical and I think a nice pop on the brown button bands - the green has a yellowish undertone, as does the green C220. What do you think?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Today I read a book!

I have always loved reading. And been a voracious reader. It's funny though, I don't remember my parents reading to me, all I can remember is always reading. If I had nothing else, then I'd read the cereal box as I ate breakfast. Backwards (I mean, I'd read the words backwards - either each word or each paragraph - not eat breakfast backwards. Because that would be weird).

As a child, one of my favourite things to do was to go to the local library every other Saturday morning with my dad, where we'd return a stack of books each and then borrow another stack of books. And of course at school English was one of my favourite subjects and I continued the reading through university with a major in English Literature.

And then I started knitting. And since then, I've all but stopped reading (but haven't quite stopped buying books!). I do sometimes listen to audiobooks, and I use But true to myself, I've managed to buy a lot more audiobooks than I've actually listened to. So I've got a lot of unread books on my physical and internetty shelves, just waiting for that "one day". I've decided it's time to make that "one day" be every day, or at least every other day.

One of my new favourite places to read is in the backyard, when the yard is in shade towards the end of the day. I lug out a quilt, a book, the baby, and some baby toys and if I'm really lucky, I get a few pages in while Connor plays and watches the trees and the birds fly overhead (only the birds fly, not the trees, they don't fly. Because that would be weird).

Today I finished reading a book. Not the one in the photo, I'm still going on that. No, today I finished reading a trashy novel - one of my (not so) secret indulgences is the occasional trashy novel. Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris, the 10th book in the Sookie Stackhouse (aka True Blood) series. Easy to read, relatively well-written (for trashy novels) and entertaining! I recommend the series if you like that sort of thing!

I'm going to keep a booklist in the sidebar, just out of interest. I'll be pretty happy if I can get a book, or maybe two, read each month. Not a lot, I know, but it will be more than I read last year!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Happy New Year, and all that

Happy New Year!
(Happy new jar of peanut butter face!)

Let's get the Stash Honesty out of the way first, shall we?

I was a good girl in December and didn't buy any yarn. Sort of. DrK gave me some lovely lovely red Berocco Ultra Alpaca Lite for Christmas (all the way from Americky!) and since she was buying some more of it, I decided I might just buy enough for a garment. It hasn't arrived yet, but I'm counting this as a 2010 purchase, since that's when I paid for it!
And I also received a birthday gift from Ingrid:
Brooklyn Tweed Shelter! Squeeee! Such a light lofty yarn! Am very excited about using this!

In: 6 x 50g (not counting the gift yarns, of course!)
Out: 3 x 50g
YTD - end of year total: +39.5 x 50g balls - or just over 3 balls per month added to the stash. That's not too bad, considering in 2009 I added over 200 balls to the stash. Go me! Heh!

But for 2011, I have decided it's time to make a dent in the stash, rather than add to it. So I've signed up for StashDownUnder on Ravelry, a group of (mostly) Australians dedicated to reducing stash in 2011. Ravelry makes these sorts of endeavours so much easier, when there's a good group support system going on! I've been trying to decide whether to make a list of projects I'd like to make this year from stash, but I think that's too organised (read: restrictive!) but I do plan on doing some more crochet projects - not just because they are quicker, but they also use a bit more yarn!

I've decided I'm going to try to aim to use 5 x 50g balls (or equivalent) each month - one of the participants uses an 8ply (DK) 50g ball as the base unit, and 50g of 4ply (fingering) yarn counts for double (ie 2 balls), 50g of laceweight I guess counts as quadruple (4 balls), while worsted/aran/10ply would count as less - I suppose .075 of a ball. I quite like this method, as it does take longer to knit up finer yarns. And I've also added the KnitMeter to the sidebar to help as well. That will be an interesting experiment!

I've also signed up for Binding Off 2011, an initiative started by blogger Cozy's Place. Because I really need to get my WIPS under control. My WIP-along is making a dent, but an external commitment never hurts! Feel free to join me by signing up! I would like to reduce my WIPS by at least 8-10 projects this year!
(new knitting diary! weeeeeeeeeeeeee! No idea why it's sideways though!)

No other "resolutions" for me. I know some things about myself I'd like to work on over 2011, but growing up is a constant evolutionary process, not confined to a year, so I think resolutions aren't the right way of looking at what I want to achieve in respect of personal growth.
I hope you achieve all you set out to for 2011, and that it is a good, kind year for all!