Monday, 30 July 2007

In The Green

Here's a little more progress on Crocus.
I've separated the Opal from the purple with a couple of rows of reverse stocking stitch. It gives a nice raised ridge, adding a bit of texture.

I've done the same with the green - I think this will be a repeated design feature - separating each colour change with those ridges.

The Opal has almost made fair-isle patterns - the repeats don't quite line up, but I don't mind. It adds a quirky randomness to it. And as I am working on a less structured approach to my life, so quirky randomness fits right in with my new philosophy of "go with the flow".

Not long ago I would have ripped and redone, ripped and redone, and if it wasn't absolutely perfect, I would have given up.

Now, it is what it is. Accept. Breathe. Be.

Friday, 27 July 2007

Crocus Progress

I did a swatch, I did the maths, and now I've started the Crocus jumper.

I've used several sources as a guide for my pattern - '1000 Sweaters' - which gives a good idea of the structure of a jumper, and ideas for necklines, etc; and a couple of home-made jumpers to use as examples.

The wool knits up nicely, although it feels a little strange using 4mm needles after all those chunky hats.
I switched to circs after doing the ribbing. I also didn't use a smaller size needle for the ribbing - I didn't want the gathering effect that this would give. I'm just about ready to start my first stripe of Opal.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

What Kind of Knitter Are You?

What kind of knitter am I? Is it too early to tell?


What Kind of Knitter Are You?

You appear to be a Knitting Adventurer. You are through those knitting growing pains and feeling more adventurous. You can follow a standard pattern if it's not too complicated and know where to go to get help. Maybe you've started to experiment with different fibers and you might be eyeing a book with a cool technique you've never tried. Perhaps you prefer to stick to other people's patterns but you are trying to challenge yourself more. Regardless of your preference, you are continually trying to grow as a knitter, and as well you should since your non-knitting friends are probably dropping some serious hints, these days.

Take this quiz!


This seems pretty well spot-on.

Yeah, I'm ready for The Big Project, aka Crocus.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

A Basket Case

I got sick of my yarn and works-in-progress lying around in plastic bags, and of having to rummage for the right size needles.

Just at the right moment, a beautiful basket came my way; this one -

I got two large checked tea towels from the discount store.
I lay one on top of the other, at right-angles. The checks are not perfectly square, so the yellow lines don't line up. However, by lining them up anyway and sewing the two towels together along the lines, the top one belled out a bit, making pockets. This is exactly what I wanted.

And because one towel hung over the side by quite a lot, I folded that edge back up on itself, sewed along the yellow lines again, and made little pockets on the outside of the basket. These are perfect for all those small bits and bobs - stitch markers, needle gauge, yarn needles, etc. All ready to hand.

The inside pockets hold my needles sorted according to size. The same size circs go in with the long ones too. So now, when I need to find a needle size, it's really easy - no longer like trying to find needles in a haystack!

I really like my new work basket. (thanks, MIL)

Monday, 23 July 2007

Spring Colours

Well, I was feeling that I may want to try to knit something other than hats.

That's when I found two balls of Opal yarn, shown off with a swatch knitted up in the shop. Oh, I really loved the way it made patterns all by itself!

But I got the impression that the self-patterning only worked on small-scale garments - socks, a kiddie's jumper. 'Why didn't they make a "big" version of it?' I asked myself, followed by 'How could I make use of it anyway?'

So, I thought I could make use of it by incorporating it into a jumper as a feature panel or stripe.

I got some solid colour wool that matched colours that were in the Opal - purple, dark green, light green, and a pale beigey-cream. The purple will be the main ground colour.

The colours remind me of spring or autumn crocuses, so I will call it Crocus.

It may be ready by Spring - the end of Spring, perhaps?

I don't have a pattern, specifically. It's going to be A Big Adventure.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

A Different Kind Of Spiral

Here are some better photos of the cloche hat mentioned here. Polly was out at the time of that post, but I've persuaded her to do a bit more modelling. This shows off the shape of the hat much better.

The photo below shows the spiral pattern made with the M1 technique described for this pattern; you know, the make one which also makes a decorative hole. If I had had a photo like this, I would have known straight away what the pattern was asking me to do.

My strange stitch style (not-quite-continental) coupled with perhaps a needle size a little bit too big, has given this an almost crochet effect. I like it.

Friday, 20 July 2007

The Direction Of A Spiral

The day afer the Mid-Winter festival, I entered the convent.

No, not as a nun! The St Helier's Convent in Collinwood is open to the public. It's no longer an operating convent, but there are two cafes there, and a glass-blowers' studio, choir practice halls, and some wonderful photo subjects.

This is one of my favorites from that day's shoot. It's a rather pagan looking cupola which stands at the entrance of a quadrangle or cloister.

There are other great shots, which I may post later

These are shots of two spiral staircases. Much of the convent site is rusting in peace, as were these. I'm intruigued by the process of decay in the urban environment.

These staircases spiralled in the same direction.

I liked the patterns formed by the uprights crossing over the steps - accidental rectangles.

Now I'm curious - do the spiral staircases in the northern hemisphere turn in the same direction as the ones in the southern hemisphere, or, like water going down a plughole, do they go in the opposite direction?

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Persistence of Nature

It never ceases to amaze me how Nature persists in the face of adversity, in the most unusual ways.

This red-hot-poker is not only growing in the wrong season, it's growing in the gutter of the garage!

Do you think it might be time to clean out the gutters???

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Exterminate! Exterminate!

No, this is not an anorexic Dalek, it's a tassel-maker!

I had already made the tassels for the Byzantium hat.
I then came across a piece of turned wood. It was the remnants of a director's chair, broken up for disposal once it was too broken to repair. (believe me, it has to be very broken round here to not be useable!). We are heavily into recycling.

I thought of a way to use it. I described my idea to Mr M, my DH, who was totally bewildered, tassels-making never being one of his life-skills.

A few diagrams later, and some mysterious time in the garage (aka, bloke's shed - it's never had a car in it!) we had my tassel-maker. It has several holes down the length, so different size tassels can be made. The "arms" are bamboo chopsticks cut down. They are tapered, which means they can be set firmly into the holes, but later pulled out for a different size.

The base is version #2 - the first version was too small, and I didn't want the tassel-maker tipping over when I used it. It stands 27cm (11 inches) from tip to bottom of the base.

I guess it could also be used to make pom-poms. My first effort at one of those was a pretty weird oval shape. I figure I must have put the centre draw-string in the wrong spot. I'll have another go at it some other day.

Monday, 16 July 2007

Going To Byzantium

It's another hat!

I called it Byzantium because that's the name that came to mind when it was finished, partly because of the colour - like the light through stained glass, and partly because of the quirky shape.

It's another Katia wool - Sherpa, I think.

I wanted to experiment with making a hat out of a tube knitted on circular needles. I'm sure it's nothing new; I'm sure there are hundreds of patterns out there for such hats.
But I made up this one myself.

I swatched to get my gauge. Then worked out the circumference I wanted, and the height. My poor old calculator is getting a thorough workout from all this knitting. Who would have thought it? Maybe there's a nifty little computer program out there that does the same thing, but I haven't found it yet.

The reverse stocking stitch idea came from my 30 year old Mon Tricot 1300 Stitch Dictionary. I like the way it gives stretch in the vertical direction.

And of course, you experienced knitters out there already knew that a hat knitted as a tube will give "ears" on each side. I know it now!

They were so cute, I just had to add tassels to them. Wrappimg wool round a credit card to make a tassel worked just fine! (Probably the most benign use of a credit card ever known!)
I used a store-bought covered bead for the top of each tassel. I was really pleased to find just the right colour - it blends perfectly.

I closed the top seam using a three-needle bind-off. It's the first time I'd ever done one of those - I was pleased with how well it worked, especially given how chunky this wool is.

This is a fun hat - I have resolved to grow old disgracefully, and become truly eccentric. I will wear this one out to fun events, like the Mid-Winter Festival as per this mention, and barbeques, and anywhere I please!

Saturday, 14 July 2007

A Hat-Trick

And this makes three!

Three hats finished. This beanie is for (son) JJ. It's elegantly modelled by Polly, or, as this is for a boy, should that be 'Paulie'?

It's in Katia wool, Nepal I think. The colours came out a bit of a surprise - the outside of the ball looked like it was all blue, but it shaded through to grey, white then yellow. If it had been a bigger (longer) hat, it would have shaded back to blue again.

I blocked it gently - Polly helped with that. Blocking did make a difference to how well the stitches lay, especially on the crown where the increases are.

There was no specific pattern - I just kind of made it up as I went along. I knew what my gauge with that yarn is, (oh, yeah, I DID swatch!), and I knew what length from the crown, and what circumference I needed to have at the brim. It was just maths, after that. Whoever thought maths would be important!

Anyway, now JJ has a warm noggin.

PS. In case you're wondering what happened to Polly's 'skin'; no it's not acne scars, it's the unfortunate result of an attempt to spray-paint her gold to match another hat she was modelling. The paint dissolved the polystyrene!

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Herye Bee Dragynes

A short break from knitting …

JJ and I took an evening walk yesterday to look for dragons.

You can find dragons just about everywhere, even, if truth be told, inside yourself.

We found this one close by. It’s not very dragonish; more like a grinning foolish puppy.

A couple of blocks away was this slightly more convincing beastie.

Just around the corner from home, this one lurks on the roof ridge. Its tail has a rather frivolous curl. The house resident came out as we were admiring the dragon. She said it was okay to take the photo, and told us of other dragons nearby.

And so we found one - a magnificent example; truly dragonish.

It’s amazing what you can see if you look up.

Monday, 9 July 2007

Cloche Encounters

I finished another hat!

I used the same pattern as the last one, but I actually followed it a lot more closely.

I also used a different yarn. This was left-overs from last time I had been knitting – over twenty years ago. I suspect it’s acrylic 8 ply, but there were no ball-bands so I’m just guessing. It went really quickly this time.

The increase pattern which had that ‘make one’, which also made a decorative hole, worked much better in the thinner yarn. It also showed the spiral pattern of those increases much better too. I will take a better photo when I can persuade Polly to co-operate.

I used these colours to match a jumper I had. I wore them both to a wine-tasting afternoon, followed by lunch at the Fairfield Boathouse. Both events were very nice; lunch was yummy.

In between rain-showers (it was Melbourne, after all!), the sun did shine, and I liked the effect of the backlight on the lavender bushes near where we dined. Of course I had my camera with me!

And of course, it wouldn’t be a Boat house without boats …

Saturday, 7 July 2007

Firsty Work

I've actually finished something!

In my retail therapy shopping spree, I bought some chenille-style yarn, because I couldn't resist the soft feel of it.

I found a pattern I really liked, over here: a free cloche-style hat , and set to work.

Here is my finished hat, as modelled by the ever-patient Polly.

Now don't laugh - I know it's incredibly wonky and odd.

- it is the first hat I've ever knitted
- it is the first time I've ever knitted with a chenille-type yarn (and it too, needed 'wrangling' onto the needles)
- it's the first time I've ever used circular needles, or dpns

Here's a close up of the slightly odd texture, made that way because I knit funny - sort of a continental twist to each stitch; but I like it that way.

I really do wish patterns explained things a bit better. The pattern says to make one: m = make one, by knitting in the back of the next stitch and then knitting the st itself
but what it doen't say is that this will make a decorative hole as well as a new stitch.
I'm supposed to somehow just know that???

I frantically ripped back time after time to get rid of the holes which mysteriously appeared in my knitting. The photos on the pattern page do not show the tops of the hats, otherwise I would have twigged earlier what it was supposed to look like.

So, wonky and odd, it's done. It's a bit too big, and looks much too big on Polly's petite head. But I wear it, and it's very comfortable and warm.

When I have nothing else to do, (hah!) I will re-do it a little smaller.

Abandoned Blackberry

This is the progress I had made with the Blackberry wool.

I was going to make a hat, but now I'm not sure I have enough wool left to do that.
I've thought of just using what I've done as a band, and using something else for the top, in a cossack or pill-box kind of style. I don't know if that will work.

What I don't know would fill volumes! I'm on a steep learning curve here...

Thursday, 5 July 2007

The Psychic Cat

I am certain that my cat, J, is psychic.

She loves playing with string. No shoelace is safe. The other day I left a pair of my lace-up boots in the kitchen. An hour later, one boot was two rooms away, virtually disembowelled, the lace just about completely separated from the boot.

For years (J’s nearly 11 years old) I have loosely tied a long shoelace to the back of a kitchen chair.

This is a cat toy. She deftly unravels it. I tie it on again in a different configuration, and a few days later, she’s worked it out, and teased it off.

Best game out it the sun is to wriggle a piece of rope along the grass. She chases it, pounces on it, and savagely “kills” it.

Whenever we return from a few days away, I have to have a Stern Talk with J to tell her not to scratch at the bedroom door at some unholy hour of the morning. This is a bad habit which surfaces after we’ve been away. She usually complies. It must be the Tone Of Voice that goes with the Stern Talk that does the trick.

I thought I would have to have a Stern Talk with J about yarn and knitting. All that lovely string …

Strangely enough, she has completely ignored my knitting. No chasing of balls of wool, no snatching at the working yarn, no sitting on work-in-progress, nothing. Apart from nibbling on my elbow as I knit, she disregards the whole thing as only a cat can do. It doesn’t exist, as far as she’s concerned.

This is a relief.

It doesn’t stop cat-hair getting into everything. It is inevitable that cat-hair is going to be an integral part of everything I knit. I’m sure there’s a word for fibre made from cat-hair, like angora is for rabbit, but I don’t know what that word is.

As I say, J must be psychic – if she had misbehaved with the wool, not only would she get the Stern Talk, if necessary I would have shut her out of the house while I knit!

Monday, 2 July 2007

Retail Therapy

We shopped.

My younger son (JJ, age 23 – not to be confused with J, the cat) came with me, as I had offered to knit him a beanie, and he was to choose the wool. We got a skein of Katia Nepal in blue/mustard/cream shades, and then I couldn’t resist some Katia Sherpa in cranberry with flecks for a hat for myself. Katia is a Spanish product; those are pure wool.

The Sherpa is still not a suitable yarn for the Bakers Boy hat – remember, the one that started this all off?

JJ was amazed at the range of wool available. He got all inspired by the colours, the textures, the possibilities, so we invested in some learn-to-knit kits and books for him, and another skein of
Nepal, this time in reds/oranges/browns.

That was not the end of the treasures snaffled. There was some chenille-type yarn which I couldn’t resist. Did I mention I’m a sucker for texture? Soft, so soft …

I’ve started JJ off on some spare yarn, one with a more conventional texture. I’m not a suitable teacher – I knit funny. More on that later …