Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Moving on up...

So it's my blogthday!

And to celebrate, I am moving my blog to a new home.

Hope you'll drop by and visit - in addition to moving my blog home, I've been doing some renovations in my actual home.  You can read about it here, with suitable before and after shots!

If you are reading via googlereader or some other blog reader, I don't think the link to my blog will update automatically - sorry about that!
One door (my newly painted front door!) closes and another door opens!

Monday, July 02, 2012

Stash Honesty - June 2012

(or, the BUMPER edition.  For reasons which will become obvious shortly...)

I think I said recently, in relation to my stash, that my motto was "in for a penny, in for a pound" (yes, I did, it was a mere 2 months ago!!!).  I really lived up to it this month.
First, there was the sale at Morris & Sons.  And I had a gift voucher so I had to go...So in addition to buying a bag of Noro Shirakaba, I also bought 8 balls of Morris Empire 4ply, which has formed the basis of my Tour de France project.
And then there was the annual Craft and Quilt Fair at Darling Harbour.  I was reasonably restrained, but did get myself a cone of this amazing shiny Dairing cotton/stainless steel, and 3 cones of linen for a tunic/dress. 
And I had to do an order from Blue Moon Fiber Arts to buy some additional yarn for a project, so if you are going to get yarn all the way from America you may as well get a few extra skeins, right?
So in addition to the 4 skeins of STR Heavyweight (in True Blood Red - what a GREAT colour!) I also got 2 skeins of STR Lightweight - another True Blood Red, which I will use for sexypuffs, and one in Manly but I like it, which I think will be socks for husby.
And finally, a friend who visits New York is too good an opportunity to pass up to try out some Brooklyn Tweed Loft - the exact colours used in the Aranami Shawl ...
So what's the final damage:

In:  32 x 50g balls (lucky that gift voucher yarn doesn't count!! but my, those STR Heavyweight skeins are 200g each!!)
Out:  4 x 50g balls - oof, not much - I did use more yarn, but that was to make the sample for my new crochet class, so doesn't count for stash (only for metres used!).
Metres used:  1,305m (YTD: 5,882m)
Stash neutral:  hahhahahahahahahahaha no.  +48.5 x 50g balls
I am seriously considering a destash.  If only I can make myself let go of some yarn...I so admire people who can do that!

Friday, June 29, 2012

To market, to market!

A few years ago, I bought some hemp yarn - it was on sale, and I was interested to try it. I finally made some time to do this earlier this year! A market bag seemed ideal - but which one!! There are so many patterns out there, and most of them free.

I am glad I settled on this one:
Pattern: Ilene Bag, by Hannah Ingalls. I really like this pattern for a few reasons - it has a solid (stocking stitch) base, it has an easy pattern, and a nice open weave without being too open - even when stretched. It has a ribbed edge on the top, which is stretchy but not too open, and it has a ribbed handle which doesn't stretch too much. Oh, and no seaming! And did I mention it is a free pattern?!

It's a tricky thing, with a market bag, to make it stretch but not too much - you don't want it dragging around your ankles when it is full of goodies. This one is, dare I say it, pretty much perfect - a nice size, but not too huge and cumbersome.
Yarn: Hemp for Knitting Allhemp6, about 1.75 skeins in colour 21, a lovely periwinkle sort of blue. I'll be honest, it is hard on the hands, and I could only knit a few rounds with it at a time when I was doing the mesh part of the bag, but it feels really nice once knit up, and I know it will wash well (I haven't washed it yet, given I haven't actually used it yet!)
Sticks: 3.5 and 4mm KnitPicks Harmony Options. The ribbing and handles is done on the smaller needles, which is a great idea.

Time: 25 January 2012 - 25 April 2012. It had a little rest while it was part of the Easter Show display this year (I tucked the unfinished handle inside, so no-one was any the wiser that it wasn't finished!
Modifications: None at all! I'm really quite pleased with this bag. I think I'm going to use it as my project bag for my TdF project, actually! And I'm very pleased to have used up some yarn from stash!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Forgive me...Stash Honesty May 2012

Forgive me, blog readers, for I have's been a MONTH since my last post!  Oh dear.

But the washing is on the line (yes, it is finally SUNNY after what seems like a month of rain as well, but is really only maybe a week and a half), the boys are at the park, I have a cup of tea and some milo slice, and I am blogging!
It's been a busy month - we've had our roof replaced, the exterior of the house painted, and a new bathroom installed (more on all of that in another post!). For the two week bathroom installation, we stayed at the MiL's, which was good, but no internet - thank goodness husby has 3G on his iPad, so I wasn't completely marooned!

Sadly, not so busy on the crafting front.  Connor has been sleeping less during the day, and since nap times are my main knitting/crochet time, I have been missing out a bit.  And I've even fallen behind for the first time with my sexypuffs - only 20 done in May! (June is going to be even worse...lucky I'm ahead of schedule a bit).
On the upside, I didn't buy any yarn in May (let's not talk about June just yet...) and even though the Craft Fair was on this week, I was reasonably restrained.
In: zero!  zip zilch nada nothing (I need to get it all out now, it might not happen again this year...)
Out: a measly 3.25 x 50g balls.  Gick!
Metres used:  Only 547m (YTD: 4,577.5m)
Stash neutral?  No...+16.5 x 50g balls

I have also been working on a sample for a new class I am going to be teaching at another yarn store (a sneak peek below) which is soaking as I type, to be blocked while the sun continues to shine (who knows how long it will stay sunny!). 
And I'm excited to be planning my Tour de France KAL project.  I've got two options:

This vest, in Noro Shirakaba - I have even swatched!  And OMG, this feels DIVINE.  It's a cotton/silk/nylon/wool blend and knits up just so nicely. 
The colours are nicer in real life (of course!).  Lovely deep blue and charcoal and silvery grey.  The project is worked in garter stitch and reverse stocking stitch, but I think I like the stocking stitch side better.

The other option is a crochet motif something something in this yarn:
(which is charcoal, silver grey, cream and of course sunshine yellow!)

I'm leaning towards the crochet, mostly because I know I can finish the project during the TdF, whereas I probably won't finish the vest.  Not that I really care about finishing, but it would be nice to actually get something done done DONE in that space of time.  What do you think?  And if you want to sign up for the KAL, it is not too late!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Little heads need little hats

So two of the mums in my mothers group have had new little people recently (and there are three more in progress!!  Yes, it's about that time, the 2 year itch, heh heh).

So I whipped up a little hat for each! All babies deserve a hand knit hat, right?
Patterns: For the pink flavour, I used Easy Peasy Newborn Sock hat, by Keri McKiernan.  I modified it a bit as I used sport weight/5ply yarn rather than fingering/4ply - I just decreased down to 81 stitches after about an inch.

For the blue, I used the Very Basic Baby Beanie by Janet D. Russell.  I also modified this by casting on 80 stitches rather than the pattern's 72 stitches, as I wanted it a little larger. It is a wee bit pointy at the top, I perhaps should have finished a row sooner, but I wanted to keep the stripes even.

Yarn:  I used Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino for both.  It's a nice soft machine washable yarn, perfect for what I wanted!  And since it was in the stash...I used 23g of the fuchsia, and about 30g in total of navy and two pale blues.
Sticks:  3mm KnitPicks Harmony Options for the pink, and the blue ribbing, and 3.5mm for the blue stripes.

Time:  18-20 March for the pink, 18-21 April for the blue.

I'd better get cracking on 3 more! 

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Stash Honesty - April 2012

My motto for this month:  In for a penny, in for a pound.

I suspect that says it all really!  Events and my lack of willpower conspired against me this month!

First off, Stash Swap at Lyn's.  I didn't take any stash but might have left with a few other people's...

Couldn't pass up the red Baby Cashmerino
Or the blue Superior at a ridiculously low price
And this grey/blue Fearless Fibres called to me (I think it is a Siren in yarny disguise).
And I also collected a bunch of leftovers for more sexypuffs!  Including a huge ball of possum yarn!  Thanks to Jody, Lyn and MissFee for these lovelies!
And then a long weekend away, involving a trip to the lovely Sew and Tell in Berry, and then for the day to KnitCamp in Wollongong. I was a good girl at Berry, a bit less so at KnitCamp...
Ugh, lets just get to the totals, shall we?

In:  35 x 50g (see, I said In for a penny, in for a pound, didn't I?!)
Out:  6 x 50g knitted and 4 x 50g destashed (thank goodness for that!)
Metres used: 961m (YTD: 4,030.5)
Stash neutral: Hell no!  Not any more...+19.75 x 50g balls

Oh, and did I mention the Sundara?
How could I not - the colour is Red Roses (and is SO MUCH NICER than this picture - deeper, darker and about 1000 times more beautiful than this shot!). 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Going around in circles

Remember a while ago I showed you this picture?
Well now is the time for the "big" reveal (it's probably not that exciting, heh!).

As you know, I have been teaching crochet.  I thought it only appropriate that I should wear something I made to each of the classes (there are 3 separate sessions).  I was good for the first and second sessions (boteh scarf to the first, and my super special birthday skirt to the second). But I needed a third, and I remembered this fabulous Japanese book I bought ages ago with thread crochet accessories. 
And so for lesson three, this was my crochet piece:
And the students loved it!  I showed a couple of them how to make it, and got all inspired by the shop's stock of Perle 8 cotton and picked out my new jewels!

So these three were born:
If you look closely, you'll see they are each slightly different.  The silver grey is the same as the red - so in accordance with the pattern.
The pewter grey alternates small and large circles:
While the sunshine yellow has a longer chain between the circles:
Details (just quickly!)
Pattern:  "p.86 Necklace" (no idea what the Japanese is, this is what it is called in Rav!), from the book which Rav tells me is called Thread Crochet Plants, by knot.  (ISBN978-4-07-257058-6) Modifications to some as noted above.
Yarn:  Red used size 20 crochet thread, the rest use Perle 8 mercerized cotton - about 3-4g of each colour. The pattern in the book I think uses size 60 thread (so much finer) but I think it works nicely in a slightly thicker cotton as well.
Hook: For the red, I used 1.25mm, for the rest I used a 1.5mm hook.
Time: A few hours for each.
This is a great demonstration of the versatility of crochet, I think. I love being able to take a pattern like this and give it a few tweaks.  And this book is so full of inspiration, there are a few more pieces I wanted to try out as well.  I still have the blue and orange/red "jewels" to play with, so expect to see more!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Crochet rocks!

Every so often in the knitting world, I come across a bit of crochet hate. Hate might be too strong, perhaps distaste might be more appropriate.  It's a bit of a shame, really, because crochet is not evil.  It has suffered due to grievous misuse in the late 60s and 70s (but then, so did knitting in the 80s, I think!). I totally accept that some knitters are not interested in crochet (and vice versa) but I've always thought they are complementary skills. And there are certainly a lot more lovely crochet patterns (eg garments that are not stiff and bulky!) around now.

In the interests of spreading the crochet love (and because I was asked!), I have started teaching crochet for beginners at one of Sydney's lovely yarn (and fabric) stores, Calico & Ivy, in Balmain.  I did my first series in February/March, and I am teaching again in May/June, as well as doing a crochet clinic for specific issues.

I worked up some samples for the shop, which I also use as the basis for the classes too, all in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, which of course the shop stocks, in a really nice range of colours.

First up, I made some granny square blocks - all with the same basic granny pattern but showing different uses of colours (shame about the terrible photo! sorry).
Then I made a cushion in the popular African Flower hexagon pattern.  This is a really versatile hex - the way I've done it shows the flowers clearly against the green (grass!) background, while if you change colours for each row it can give a different look.  There is a great flickr group dedicated to the African Flower, it is full of inspiration.
One of the loveliest things after my first series of classes finished was getting an email from one of the attendees saying she was so inspired she spent the rest of the weekend crocheting!  The best feedback you can get!

If you are in the area and looking to learn to crochet (or you can crochet and have a specific issue you need help with), give the shop a call! I am doing a weekday and weekend series of classes, both starting in mid-May.

And don't forget, Crochet Rocks!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

It's show time!

Every year around Easter, knitters in Sydney (and elsewhere) tend to be a-twitter about the knitting competition at the Royal Easter Show.  What has been entered, what are the classes, what has changed since last year, who are the judges, what are the judging criteria, how are the entries displayed, and of course, who has won!  Every year, for the last few years at least, I have thought about entering, but haven't, for various reasons.  But I really must!  I think I will double dog dare myself to do so next year.  Not that I think I will win, but because I think it is a good way to show people the beauty of a handknit garment, that handknit garments can be modern (and even *gasp* fashionable!) and with any luck, help to encourage others to either take up knitting or enter as well, just as some of the wonderful knitting this year has encouraged me to actually enter!
But putting all that aside, some of us have had another reason to be excited.  This year, the RAS (organisers of the show) asked the Knitters Guild of NSW to be a part of the "Feature Display", along with the Handspinners and Weavers, Machine Knitters and Felters.  And my lovely friend DrK took on the task of co-ordinating the display, assisted mainly by MissFee, as well as a few others from our Inner City guild group (ok, including me!). 
I volunteered to (wo)man the stand on Sunday, and as one of the main perks of volunteering was free entry to the show (for me), husby and Connor came too, just for the morning.  We had an early start, and headed straight for the baby animals - a massive shed with baby farm animals, many roaming free for maximum patting opportunities by the visiting children (not to mention adults!).  Mostly lambs and kids, and a few calves and chickens.  The shed also has piglets, deer, puppies, chicks (including some hatching) and ducklings, amongst others.  Lots of fun for Connor, who persisted in standing behind the lambs and kids and patting them (gently, thank goodness) on the butt.  Even when I moved him to stand beside them!  Oh well, there were no kicks, thankfully!
The rest of the day was spent at the Guild stand, knitting, chatting to passers-by, chatting to my knitter buddies on the stand and escaping away every so often to check out other bits of the Show.  Not to mention eating various "foods" on sticks - cheese on a stick, hotdog on a stick, and banana dipped in chocolate on a stick!  Lucky the Show is only once a year!!
mmmm dagwood dog and plenty of sauce!
I didn't take many pictures of the knitting competition (others have done so already) but I will say that the items were displayed beautifully this year - nothing hooked up on fishing line this year, hurrah.  And there was a lot of beautiful knitting.  Some not to my taste, but you can't deny the quality of the entries.
amazing irish crochet lace coat (not on guild stall!)
I have liberally added photos of the Guild stand however!  Not least because it might happen to feature quite a few of my own knitting and crochet items, heh!  But I think it is a good demonstration of the skills of our members and of the versatility of knitting and crochet - we all know this already, but we also know that knitting tends to suffer from the perceptions of non-knitters.  It wast most gratifying as a knitter and guild member to hear people express an interest in joining the guild or learning to knit, or to take up the sticks again.
Al's brush turkey!  And a cauliflower!
Many many thanks to DrK for taking on the job of organising everything (I know just how much work that is) and to MissFee for all the design work that went into the stand and the associated paraphernalia.  I am really proud of the way the stand represents knitting, both historically and now, and how it represents the Guild.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Red stripes go faster!

Ever since I saw this MillaMia pattern I've wanted to make it for Connor.  So I was most pleased to get it as a freebie in a magazine at last year's craft fair (not that I'd mind buying the book, they are lovely patterns!)
I've been working on it trying to get it done in time so it could go in the Knitters' Guild display at the Royal Easter Show this year.  Success!  I got it done in plenty of time!

Pattern: Niklas cardigan by MillaMia, from the book Bright Young Things. Nice pattern, easy to follow, all made in pieces - which I didn't mind - smaller pieces seem to go faster!  (just like red stripes!).  I made the 2-3 yo size.
Yarn:  Even though the MillaMia yarn is lovely, I substituted Morris Paddington, an 80/20 bamboo/merino blend.  Mostly because I had a voucher for Morris & Sons and these colours were perfect!  I used about 1.5 skeins of each of the 3 colours - 634 Lipstick (red), 625 Pearl (silver grey) and 636 Magnetic Grey (charcoal).  I did think about converting the pattern to do seamlessly, but I thought the seams might provide some extra infrastructure to combat bamboo's tendency to sag.  Fingers crossed!
Sticks:  3mm and 3.25mm KnitPicks Options.

Time:  6 February 2012 - 29 March 2012

Modifications:  I made the body of the cardigan longer - everyone always says you need extra length in knits for babies and toddlers.  And I'm hoping it will fit him for longer than one season.  The extra length (about 5cm/2") meant I had to add an extra buttonhole, which fortunately worked out to be just at the point where the decreases start for the v-neck of the cardigan.  Nice one!
Of course, as soon as I finished the cardi, we got a wave of warm weather (summer is finally here!  in autumn!), so I don't have any modelled shots, but I will post some eventually!  I was going to show you a photo of my excellent seaming (it really is so much easier when you can match the stripes!) but the photo I took does not show said excellent, the seaming is not quite as even as I thought it was, heh!
And so this year Connor has one new cardi and I have none.  Even though I planned on making myself at least 4 cardis this year!  Heh!  I'd better get a move on, since I haven't even started the first cardi for myself and it's already 1/4 of the way through the year!

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Stash Honesty - March 2012

Woopsie...has it really been almost a month since I posted?  And my last post was my stash honesty for last month...oh dear!  I promise I will be a better blogger this month! 

But I do have good news - I have been a very good girl this month (sort overseas order hasn't arrived yet, heh heh!).  I only bought 1 skein of yarn - which I needed for a project and so have used half of it (that's all I needed for the project!) plus these little jewels:
I have something in mind for these - I will show you when they are done!

And I gave 6 balls of yarn to my mum, and destashed some laceweight - just by accident - someone contacted me on Rav and asked if she could buy it and I said sure!  Since I'm not going to be knitting much lace in my immediate future...

In:  2 x 50g balls
Out:  6.75 x 50g balls used plus 8 x 50g balls destashed.
Metres used: 897.5m (a short month!) (YTD: 3069.5m)
Stash neutral: OH YES I AM - STASH NEGATIVE!  -5.25 x 50g balls!

(um...I suspect it won't last for long!)
I will post again soon, I promise!  In the meantime, someone has been having fun playing with my knitting! (Yes, those are my Fox Faces socks he is wearing!)

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Stash Honesty - February 2012

Can't let myself get out of the habit of posting every month about my ins and outs!  But just a quickie, I really should be knitting, heh!

I had a bit of a Wollmeise splurge this month - no surprise there, really!  2 grey (maus jung), one black (schwartz) and one lovely purple (madame souris).  Yum yummy yum yum.  Am thinking of some sort of stripey garment for myself...will see!
Apparently there is a terrible epidemic of Bunterism going around my knitting guild group - which of course I also caught after the last meeting. We are making a huge string of bunting for the guild's display at the Sydney Royal Easter Show this year.
Hopefully getting these four red Bunts out of my system will appease the Bunting Overlords!

In:  12 x 50g balls (d*mn you huge wollmeise skeins!!)
Out: 8 x 50g balls
Metres used: 1058m (YTD: 2172m)
Stash neutral? No! +9.5 x 50g balls.  Oh well, maybe March will be my month!