Saturday, 29 December 2007
Ah, don't you just love it when you can roll over in the morning, reach for the camera, snap off a shot of dawn like the one above, and then roll back over for another few hours sleep!
I didn't even have to get out of bed for that photo!
After Christmas in Hobart, we took a few days holiday on the East Coast of Tas, and that was the view from our room. Spectacular.
The day before, we had a little snorkel at the beach in the picture below. It's just a tiny cove just south of Spikey Beach, which is, of course, near the Spikey Bridge.
The water was a bit cold, as it usually is in Tas - we would have had hypothermia without our full length wetties.
Oh, you want to know what the Spikey Bridge is? Well, it's a convict built one, from 1830? 1840? I should have paid more attention to the information board. Doh.
And now you can see why it's called Spikey Bridge.
And yes, there has been knitting, even while away, even in the hot weather. No photos yet.
Monday, 24 December 2007
I'm not a Christmassy sort of person. The whole fuss just leaves me disgusted, especially when Christmas stuff appears in stores in September.
A colleague asked, well, what DO you do for Christmas? Do you celebrate it at all?
Given a choice, I would just lie on a beach somewhere and ignore the whole thing.
But, yes, my extended family does have a get-together. My mum lives near Hobart, so every year we have to travel (I hate that). For a couple of years, I rebelled, and we travelled, but in an opposite direction! Once overseas, and the next year interstate.
I don't think we've been forgiven yet.
We have a buffet Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve, my mum being European; it's their tradition. Each family group brings food - my sis makes to-die-for pavlovas, my sis-in-law makes pate and curried eggs and brings fresh raspberries, we bring the ham and chickens, and mum makes a lovely trifle. The ham is served both hot and cold, some of it being baked and some carved off before.
There's also salads, potato salad, pasta salad, lots of gourmet cheeses, several kinds of salami, smoked oysters, strawberries, asparagus, avocado, cherries, and more, much more!
There's wine and beer, and champagne, and Baileys Irish Cream.
It's certainly not the traditional turkey-and-plum-pudding kind of Christmas dinner, but we like it, and it works for us.
There's always heaps of left-overs, and it's become a favourite tradition (vice???) for me to have trifle for breakfast on Christmas morning.
We usually exchange gifts before dessert.
Some time ago I let it be known that I didn't really want any more "stuff". That's been ignored, of course. I must confess to not really minding the gift vouchers.
And for my part, I have instigated something a bit different for the gifts I give. I have set up a book lucky-dip. During the year, I buy up books when I see them, in trade paperback size. My family has similar enough tastes that this usually works quite well. It's a mix of SF/fantasy, detective and crime, thrillers, historical, humerous (eg Jasper fford) and so on. They are all wrapped the same and each person gets to pick one.
The rules are:
if they don't like the book, they can see if someone else wishes to swap. It must be mutual - no coersion! (it's quite amusing to watch how "persuasive" some family members can be!)
if they can't find anyone willing to swap, they can do ONE swap with the spares in the kitty (there's always several spares). They then have to accept the swapped book. No second swaps with the kitty.
The spares have also proved useful for unexpected brought-along guests, who also get a turn.
It's gone down very well each year - everyone seems to really enjoy it!
But surprisingly, the person I thought would be most flexible, my brother-in-law, is the one who has done the most swaps, and the one who I thought would be fussiest, my sis-in-law, has said "It's not what I would ever have picked off a shelf to read, but I'll give it a go." That's the spirit!
After gift-giving, we have dessert and play a game like Scattergories or Pictionary or similar. This is usually a riot! The kids are now all over 21, and we just have a ball.
Christmas Day is usually spent with the other branches of our respective families.
So, not your traditional or conventional Christmas, but it's ours.
I hope yours is everything you hope it will be.
Friday, 21 December 2007
So, I now have the new chest of drawers, flower arrangement, and curtains.
Then the old rug just had to go! It was just a small one, in an aztec-southwest sort of pattern in blue, green and tan - a left-over from another time and place.. It didn't go, so it had to go!
I've replaced it temporarily with a brown and white small rug (more mat size) that almost looks knitted. Admittedly giant stitches on jumbo needles, but feasible. Must take a photo...
It isn't necessarily the final choice, but it's way better than the aztec.
And no, Cindy, my dear, I didn't knit a toilet - it would leak! (hehehe)
Nor a toilet seat cover (shudder)
But (hangs head and blushes) this is almost as bad.
It's a soap dispenser cover.
You see, once I'd changed the colour scheme with those pink floral and feminine curtains, the blue liquid soap and its blue-topped dispenser just looked so wrong.
I guess I could have just replaced it with a more compatible one, but that would be wickedly wasteful. And too easy - where's the challenge in that?
I found a stitch pattern I wanted to try, from my ancient Mon Tricot stitch dictionary. They've called it Fishtail 2, but Barbara Walker calls it Horseshoe.
It's the first lace pattern I've tried. I've knitted plenty of stuff with holes, but they were unintentional, and definitely not decorative.
I had about three of four starts - first to establish gauge, then to work the purls the way ordinary folk do. You see, I have a strange knitting style; it's given a name these days, "combination" but I'm not sure I even do that the way others do.
The wonderful Toni, referred to as The Bionic KnitterWoman by Cindy, helped me identify how and why my knitting isn't standard, and it seems to be the way I wrap the yarn to form a purl stitch. The knit stitch (knit into the back, which is the 'leg' closest to the needle tip) uncrosses the stitch, so I don't have unintentional twisted stitches.
I haven't mended my wicked ways - I like the way I knit.
HOWEVER, there are consequences. One of these is yarn-overs don't work the way they should. My stitch-forming closes up the holes!
SO, I have to try to knit "properly" in order to do lace. I keep forgetting. Old habits...
I'm not convinced I've got it right yet. The first needle size I tried gave a too-loose effect, and it was all holes - the decorative holes got lost. The smaller needles worked better, but the holes still seem to be less 'holey' than the dictionary illustration.
I may have kept notes, somewhere, and there is possibly a ball band to identify the yarn - it may have had cotton in it, but I could be just making that up. It is pink - PINK. Heh. What's next? Twin-set and pearls?
I managed to finish the piece, and here it is cosily covering the dispenser, hiding all the hideous blue soap. I also obliterated the blue colour of the dispenser top with lavish layers of nail polish (it sticks to plastic better than paint does).
What's next? A knitted tissue-box cover?
Sunday, 9 December 2007
It was clearly a case of Dominos. And it started like this.
Mr M and I went on holiday in September; we drove down the East Coast from Brisbane to Sydney (then a quick dash down to Melbourne).
We were looking for an ideal place to retire to - near the beach, views of waves, interesting coastline with snorkelling spots, not too cold in winter.
We found plenty of spots - now all we need to do is find the $5.5 million to buy one!
But that thought of moving led to other thoughts (such as arson as a redecorating technique). The thought of packing all our stuff is a major disincentive. Mr M is a big-time hoarder, and I do my bit too.
But I had a long hard look at some of the things I would NOT take, and this included several chests of drawers. They were cheap thin pine-and-ply, badly painted in not-nice colours, and second-hard when we got them over 25 years ago. Basically I had just put up with them, because, well, I just used them and learned to ignore how they looked.
So, I figured, why wait till I moved to have nice chests of drawers? So I went on a bit of a shopping spree, and bought four new chests of drawers - two tall-boys, one medium for a bedside (but it's much bigger than the usual bedside table) and a step-shape unit. This is the new home for my yarn.
One of the tall-boys went into the en-suite, where a shower should have been installed, but never was - it's a long story.
Yes, I know, m'Lud, this is a long story too, but I am getting to the point, really I am.
The tall-boy looked so nice, I just had to put a large vase of silk flowers on top of it, to stop it being covered with clothing, as would be inevitable otherwise.
Then the flowers looked so nice, I had to change the curtains.
Here is a pic of the old ones- black-and-white checks. They were recycled from elsewhere, about 22 years ago. The photo doesn't show the silverfish holes!
Fine, so far so good.
I then spent one-and-a-half HOURS looking for suitable fabric at my local store.
None of the ready-made or ready-to-hang stuff had the look I wanted, something to match the new look.
What, m'Lud, this all sounds reasonably sane? Well, here's the weird bit - I finally chose a fabric - one with FLOWERS on it.
Now, anyone who knows me knows I am not a flowers-and-lace kind of person. Plain, simple, or maybe bold and dramatic, but frilly girly stuff just isn't me.
It must have been temporary insanity - and it gets worse!
I swagged the curtain, and then put more silk flowers up on the curtain rod!And then, threaded beads onto the tie-backs!
And I like it, I really like it!
What's this all got to do with knitting? Well, that's for the next post...
Wednesday, 21 November 2007
It works well to keep the tea hot, so I thought I would knit a matching cosy for my teacup.
Here is the bare cup.
I measured up, and cast on. Then ripped, and cast on. Then ripped again, and cast on. And again. You see, I had decided to use the stitch pattern from Stacey in her My So Called Scarf. What I didn't realise was that it drew in the gauge a lot. I mean, A LOT!
I got it in the end. It used almost the same number of stitches as the tea-cosy, and the cup was a much smaller diameter.
It's interesting how that same yarn used for the tea-cosy looks quite different in this stitch pattern, which gives a dense, compact texture, just right for insulation.
I did a few rows of rib to start it off. I then thought I would do the same when I got to the other end. That didn't work - it flared out like a little ruffle! I guess that was because of the difference in stitch gauges. I took a photo, as a record, in case I ever want to deliberately recreate that effect. (yeah, right!)
The casting off (bind off) only took two attempts to get it right. I needed the shape to curve a little to fit snugly under the bottom curve of the cup. I got that by modifying the last row and not doing the "make 1 " stitch which is an integral part of the stitch pattern. This halved the number of stitches. I then cast off fairly loosely.The height of the cosy doesn't go all the way to the top of the cup, so that it doesn't get in the way while drinking.
I decided against buttons, as I figured they might get in the way. I've used a bit of hat elastic to hold the cosy closed above and below the handle. The elastic allows the cosy to be easily removed for washing.
And, the cosy works! It definitely keeps my tea warmer than a bare cup.
Friday, 26 October 2007
But this IS a short scarf, held closed with two buttons.
The pattern I used is the one for a Multi-directional Diagonal Scarf, but only a fraction of a usual scarf length.
The pattern I used is the one for a Multi-directional Diagonal Scarf, but only a fraction of a usual scarf length.
The ball band says to use 6.5mm needles, but I used 5.5mm, as I wanted the garter stitch to close up a bit. With the two-colour strands of this yarn seen on the diagonal, it almost looks like linen stitch.
The finished length is 76cm/30 inches; width 11.5cm/4.5 inches.
I like this one.
I modified the cast-off (bind-off) end of the scarf to have a point or triangle end - I thought that looked better than just flat across.
Wednesday, 24 October 2007
Here I am doing real-time full-scale prototype paradigm modelling.
Or, if you’re a knitter, swatching.
The rust coloured wool shows rows of experimentation, trying different ways to get the right stitch pattern for a Pidge. I had come across this through Ravelry, where the home-made version has been nicknamed the Smidge.
They had worked out a stitch pattern that looked right, but it involved double-knitting. I had never done double-knitting, so I was looking for another way.
I didn’t find a satisfactory one.
I then started experimenting with the stitch pattern which did involve double-knitting. I wanted a particular look for the yarn, so I tried a sage-green cotton.
Firstly, the yarn feels quite un-soft and stringy, so it’s not all that nice to knit with. (un-soft is not the same as ‘hard’)
Second, the cotton has no give at all, which makes it hard to knit.
Third, the ply is very pronounced, which makes it too easy to accidentally hook just a part of the yarn.
And lastly, because the ply is so obvious, it did not have the smooth, silky luxury look I wanted. The ply became more obvious knitted up than it looked on the ball.
I made about fifty first starts on this scarf. Well, maybe about eight. I now wish I had taken photos before I ripped back, but I was not in the mood for taking photos, I was more in the mood for chucking the lot on the bin and going out and kicking the cat for a while.*
I knit as far as you see, and then stopped. I haven’t ripped it yet. It’s just sitting there, reminding me how to do those stitches.
* No cats were hurt in the making of this post.
Monday, 22 October 2007
I am now so far behind with blogging, that I don’t think I’ll ever catch up.
If I write posts for August, then I’m not writing posts for October. So I get further and further behind.
I am having so much fun on Ravelry, I don’t have time to blog.
There, I found Charisa’s gorgeous Wedge Hat and just had to try it. I started knitting it straight away!
I'm sure I didn't get it quite right. For example, I didn't know what size circumference I was aiming for at the welt. "plate" sizes vary so much! I think I may have been a bit timid on that.
I liked the way the colours knit up in this yarn - Cleckheaton Vintage Hues . It didn't seem to knit up as bulky as the one Charisa used. (Wouldn’t have any idea where to get Zitron Turmaline in
The welt doesn't seem to have the same "presence" of Charisa’s welt; I wasn't sure if that was due to the difference in yarn thickness, or if it should have been more than just one row of purl. Or if I didn't go back far enough with the stitch pick-up.
I've blocked the top of the hat by putting a plastic picnic plate up in there, given it a light misting of spray water, and just left the brim unblocked. I rested it upside down on a towel for a while - now it's sitting on edge in front of the woodfire. The photos were taken before I blocked it. It should look more wedgey once the blocking is done.
I made the band longer so I could fold it over to give a chunkier brim.
The circumference of the welt at rest (unplated!) is 73cm (29 inches); and my head circumference (where I place hat-brims) is 56.5 cm (22 inches). I wonder if there's a magic ratio of welt:head which will make this work the best?
I learnt a lot doing this project.
I love the hat; but sad to say, I don't think it suits my head shape.
Update: I popped a bigger plate up into the hat last night, spritzed a bit more, left it to dry.
The photos are now the post-blocking ones. The top sits a little flatter with the stitches distributed better.
Then today I wore the hat out into town, and got two complimentary comments/questions about it!
I may well change my mind about this hat not suiting me!
PS: If you're an Aussie, you may get the pun in the message title ;-}
Tuesday, 16 October 2007
It's a bit of a scarf-fest; all you experienced knitters can look away now.
A Moebius neck warmer scarf, started and completed 16 Aug
An attempt at a Two Stripe Scarf 19/8
And another start on a different Two Stripe Scarf 11 21/8
And the "time-sponge"? I received my invite to Ravelry!
And the "time-sponge"? I received my invite to Ravelry!
I've already been having trouble finding time to knit and blog - how on earth am I going to find time to do that and Ravelry as well? I've already given up sleeping - what's next? Give up eating? (set up an intravenous drip???) . Give up work? (then I can't afford yarn - that would never do!)
I WILL get round to catching up. Eventually.
PS: You can find me on Ravelry as SusieM.
Monday, 1 October 2007
I've put links here as well, because clicking on "August" doesn't give post titles.
Swatching For Seashore
Footnote To Beanie Bonanza
It's An Ill Wind ...
The Naked Teapot
more to follow as soon as I can ...
Wednesday, 12 September 2007
I'm having a whale of a time!
Yes, that grey blob WAS a whale, so very close to shore - maybe no more than 200 metres. But the weather was so awful, as it has been every day, that photos just don't come out well in the grey light, in the rain and wind.
We waited to see the whale breach, but it didn't. So I consoled myself by taking lots of pictures of waves. What a surprise!
And in the cool evenings, I do get a bit of knitting done. In fact, I think I'll have to knit like crazy to make myself a jumper really quickly, it's been so cold. Global warming? Bring it on!
Sunday, 9 September 2007
Tuesday, 21 August 2007
I was enjoying the interplay of the stripey colours with the first one, so I was itching to start another. With this one, I wanted to play with peacock colours or ocean colours. I used a blue-to-black shade and a green-to-black. Moda Vera Crave is the yarn.
The green knitted up differently that what I expected. In the transitional areas from black to green, it looks almost yellow, which isn’t the effect I was after.
Sunday, 19 August 2007
I got all inspired by this beautiful, no, magnificent, two-stripe scarf by Jared.But I didn’t have Noro, nor does the budget extend to getting some.
I wanted a nice blokey look, maybe a little less colourful than the Noro. So I tried it with a couple of balls of yarn that shade light to dark; one shades from tawny brown to black, (it’s Moda Vera Crave) the other shades from light grey to dark grey (must track down the ball-band for this one). I would have preferred a black-to-grey shade, but I didn’t find one.
It’s now 29 stitches wide over 13 cm (5 inches). Don’t quite know why there’s an odd number of stitches, but it doesn’t bother me.
Except, I’m really not all that happy with the light-grey to dark-grey. It doesn't have enough contrast between the light at its lightest point and the dark at its darkest point. Do I try to find a substitute? If I find a substitute, do I rip back what I’ve done, or just work the new colour in?
Thursday, 16 August 2007
I had some Katia wool (Nordic Print) left over from the “
It’s one needle in the right hand, and a loop of yarn across thumb and index finger on the left.
It’s very quick, no fuss. As the stitches aren’t really formed until the next row is knitted, it is also neither too tight nor too loose.
Its major disadvantage is with working the first row. The yarn between the made stitch on the right and the waiting loops on left needle grows and grows. I get round this a couple of ways – use that extra yarn to make extra loops on the left and drop the same number of loops at the end, or simply work with it until the end, where it just becomes a tail, long enough for sewing up. I always cast on with an extra loop at the end anyway, and that gets dropped off too. This can be a problem with knitting in the round, as there is no “end” from which to drop off those extras.
I didn’t use any specific pattern for the Möbius – just the instructions from here
I also didn’t want a shoulder-width shawl kind of scarf. I wanted a neck-hugger. I knew how many stitches I had cast on for
The stitch pattern I used was the “One Row Scarf” from the Yarn Harlot . I didn’t quite get the first couple of rows right – it was quite hard work getting those at all! I knew the pattern wouldn’t quite line up because of the off-set from knitting into the bottom loops of the cast-on.
Oh well. It is what it is, and I still quite like it. I can get my head through it, and it fits snugly. What more could I want?
Tuesday, 14 August 2007
I think it's Moda Vera Spell, but as I tend to forget to put a sample of yarn around the ball-band, and I have a lot of orphan ball-bands, I could be wrong.
Now, when I buy yarn, I usually have a project in mind, even if I don't have a specific pattern. I didn't have anything specific in mind for this.
I was just intrigued by the discussion with two fellow shoppers, Cindy and Toni, who said the pooling of the colours makes it look a little like embroidered flowers.
Some time later, I was making myself a cuppa, when the lightbulb went on! Aha! My naked teapot could use a teacosy, and maybe I'd get my second cuppa without having to microwave it hot (doesn't taste quite the same).
So I measured the circumference around the top and the bottom, measured everything else that needed measuring, did a quick swatch, did the maths, especially how many stitches to decrease, and then did the knitting!
The colour pooling does look a little like flowers, or perhaps a flock of butterflies in a meadow.
Finding the right coloured buttons is what took the longest. Of course, I didn't have two that matched. I don't mind - I quite like the quirkyness of mismatched buttons.
And now my teapot is roasty-toasty cosy, and my tea is hot!
(wanders off to have another cuppa ...)
Monday, 13 August 2007
Here's a perfect example.
Mr M was travelling home on the tram, when he looked across and saw JJ in another tram, heading into town.
How was he able to spot JJ in a tram full of people? JJ was wearing his new beanie, of course!
Sunday, 12 August 2007
But it's an ill wind that doesn't bring any good, and the little bit of good that came my way was literally a wind-fall.
We were at a family function at Mr M's niece's place about an hour drive away last night, mmmm, home-made pizza, when one of the neighbours came in bearing armloads of Leucadendron flowers/branches. A nearby tree had blown down, and we got to share the bounty from the clean-up.
I had enough to fill three vases. Luckily I still had some large vases left over from my days doing Floral Art. You wouldn't think I'd ever done that, given these rather primitive "arrangements" (just stick 'em in the vase, these days).
Oh well, they should last a couple of weeks at least, at a time when the garden isn't doing much yet. Just a few daffs - I think I recorded the first Narcissus out in June. They really should be called Winter Bulbs rather than Spring Bulbs - or is that an effect of global warming?
Friday, 10 August 2007
In the meantime, I've knitted a scarf.
It's the first scarf I have knitted in over 25 years. I used a simple reversible pattern of k2, k1b, P1, as espoused by the Yarn Harlot for her "One Row Scarf".
The yarn is Katia Venus, 50% wool, 50% acrylic. It's lovely and soft. Did I mention I'm a sucker for soft?
I call it the Salsa scarf because that's what the colour reminds me of.
Having finished it, I don't like it. The shading is supposed to give it interest, I suppose, but it just doesn't work for me. To me, it just looks like sections of the scarf have gotten dirty. Maybe the transisitons are not marked enough, or maybe the colour combinations don't quite work.
Maybe those gradations were supposed to work better in a wider garment, such as a jumper - the colour pooling might have made the relationship between the colours work better. Or maybe not ...
Wednesday, 8 August 2007
Here's how this happened:
Me to JJ:"Why aren't you wearing your new beanie?" (this one)
JJ:"It's a bit too tight."
Me:"Why didn't you tell me!"
JJ:"I didn't want to hurt your feelings."
later, JJ:"Oh, and if you're going to pull it apart, can you make it a bit longer too?"
That beanie did fit me, and Polly, without feeling tight. JJ must have a much bigger head than me!
So, I quickly knit up this one, as I didn't know how long it would take me to pull apart the other one, or how far back I would have to rip it back.
This yarn, a Katia one called Katrine, has an unusual texture - thick and chunky sections interspresed with thin sections not much thicker than thread. I figured it would have a fair bit of "give".
I bought two balls, and a ball of a contrasting colour, as I had no idea how much yarn I'd need with a texture like this. As it was, I had enough without having to use the contrasting colour.
I knit this top down and made the rise part extra long, and then kept knitting, and then a bit more. JJ said he likes to have it sit right down to the nape of his neck. That's what he got.I did block it, Polly helping out as usual. It would have been very lumpy and puckered otherwise. JJ immediately put it on once it had dried completely, and gave it the thumbs-up. Then he handed over the other one for modifications.
The frogpond is noisy today ...
Monday, 6 August 2007
I can’t resist a bargain, so when I found this cotton blend at only $2.00 a ball, I succumbed to temptation rather quickly.
I had in mind a jumper I had seen in my vintage pattern book. When I say vintage, I mean from the mid-1980s, which is the last time I had done knitting.
I have to finish Crocus first, but I just had to try a swatch, firstly to see how it feels to knit this yarn, and secondly to see how the stitch pattern comes together.
The colour is impossible to photograph accurately. It’s called Oxford, and it’s a bluey-greeny-grey. My photos don’t show it right, and I’ve no idea what colour it will show up on other people’s monitors.
The yarn felt nice to knit up. The pattern was fairly easy once I got the hang of it. It seems to be a row of moss stitch in between rows of knit, with rows of purl as ridge rows.I have to decide whether I want to follow the pattern as it is, or do these pattern rows spaced further apart. Decisions, decisions!
Sunday, 5 August 2007
I then had to decide whether to rip all the way down to the light green, or do something else. I had vowed to rip without hesitation if the situation demanded it, but when it came to the crunch, I couldn't face reknitting the bits that were okay.
I also knew I wanted to break up the solid brightness of the light-green.
So I threaded in a safety line top and bottom, and snipped the yarn. I then had live stitches which were the top of the bottom piece and another lot of live stitches which were the bottom of the top piece. Confused? Not as confused as I was, when it came time to rejoining the two pieces.
I thought of doing a three-needle bind-off, but I thought it would make the area of the join too bulky.
Just messing around, I threaded a long strand of the purple yarn through the upward pointing loops and the downward pointing loops, alternating them one on one. I liked the effect. I was careful to make the thread loose enough to match the tension of the knitted stitches.
Still just messing around, I then threaded the purple yarn back the other way, this time weaving it through every second loop. It gives a really interesting effect, and the tension is good. I hope you can see in the close-up photo how it worked.
Now the question remains: do I do the same thing at the top of the light-green stripe? My pattern doesn't have to be symmetrical.
Oh yes, I break all the rules, and join colours in on purl rows too. I really like the nubs showing. It almost looks like top-stitching in sewing techniques.
I can see the yarn play -
purple:"It's my turn now"
green:"No, I'm not ready to go!"
purple:"Okay, just a little bit more then."
I've been doing that purl row colour joining quite a bit throughout. I don't know why all the advice books say don't do it. I like the effect.