Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Knitting, There Has Been Knitting, Part 1

It may not seem that way, with many of my ABC-Along posts not being knitterly-related, but There Has Been Knitting!

For this post, there is a top-down in-the-round raglan jumper for JJ. He's modelling it here. One of the beauties of top-down is that the jumper can be tried on as I knit. So far it's not too bad.
I will need to make sure the arms don't get too wide when I pick them up at the raglan end. JJ has slender arms. I will knit the arms on circular needles too, which will mean no seams.

The yarn is three different colourways of Moda Vera Crave, blue-to-black, grey-to-black and green-to-black. Rather than just joining in a new colour, I've done a transitions stripe of 1-4-2-3-3-2-4-1. Add this to the already colour-changing nature of the yarn, and the striping looks a lot more complicated than it is.
I have superimposed this row pattern on the close-up photo above.
The photo below shows the bottom rib border, which I finished after JJ tried on the jumper
And, bonus, JJ says he likes it! Must finish it while it's still winter.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

J Is For JJ

Here is my beautiful boy, age about two.

He was a delight at every age, although I had to work hard to stay connected during his teenage years. Watching Rage together and playing the same computer games helped.

There's some more about him in the slide-show below. Let me know if it doesn't work properly.

And here he is with his Choc Mudcake birthday cake, with candles, in March this year.
He's just turned 24.
P.S. JJ is not his name, nor his initials. It's the initials of one of his on-line nicknames.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

I Is For Illusions

"It's not an optical illusion
- it just looks like one!"

I have been fascinated by illusions and optical illusions since childhood.
Please excuse the quality of the top photo - it was taken forty years ago! I was mucking about with school-friends, when I spotted the possibility here. So, the snap. I didn't really have a schoolmate small enough to stand on a friend's hand!

Three-and-a-half decades later, I'm still at it, playing with illusions in photo compositions. Here, JJ can hold up our campervan in just one hand! He's strong!

And here, Mr M pats the top of a lighthouse. He's veeeery tall!

Just so you know, this is that lighthouse, shown below. The person at the bottom gives the true scale.

This illusion above is more natural, a rock that looks like an animal. It's the swirl of the water which enhances the illusion, making it look as if the creature is swimming along.

Of course, its the persistence of vision which provides the illusion of continuous motion, the basis of film, movies and animation. Here is a short animation made from still shots of an Escher print. It was an exercise for school; the Photoshop work took all day - the animation compiling took about ten minutes!

There is also illusion knitting, also known as shadow knitting. I've had a try at that, with this top. Directly front-on, there's just horizontal stripes.
At an angle, the vertical stripes magically appear! (must finish it one day ...)

And last but not least, the illusion here - how many rail-tracks are here? The angle of the sun was just right to make this illusion. And I had the camera ready. Oh, the location? Busselton Jetty, in WA. - It's the longest wooden jetty in the Southern Hemisphere - 2 kilometres long.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

H Is For Hat

Of course!
I like making hats.
For a slow knitter like me, they give a quicker reward.
I can also experiment more easily, with less time and materials lost if it doesn't work out.

This hat is the Very Versatile Toque (VVT), made for my Bag Swap swapee.
It's my own design, but really, it's pretty generic for the most part. Knit a flat top, knit the sides, felt like crazy.Here Polly models the unfelted hat. It's way too big! Unfortunately, even after three hot washes and even drying in the tumble-dryer, it was still too big. The yarn was "hand-wash". Felting really is a random event.

The VVT is basic black felted hat that can be adorned to match any outfit -dress it up or dress it down – it will go with anything!

The secret is the in-built tab. This can be used to thread a scarf or ribbon, or attach a brooch, studs, an ornament or fascinator.

The integral tab is shown here.

There is a lined top form included inside the hat. This provides a firmer shape for the top of the hat. The photos were taken with the form in place.

Here the toque is adorned simply with a netting circlet and rosette on a brooch clip.

Here the leopard print scarf is tied through a buckle and added below the netting.

A simple twisted velvet ribbon passes through the loop at the end of the ribbon, and then through the tab and tied off.

A multi-coloured silk scarf is wrapped twice and knotted around the tab.

An extra-long scarf is passed through the tab once, then twisted on itself and wrapped around the hat again. The ends are tucked in.

I don't know if my swapee liked the hat: she didn't say. I don't even know if it fitted, or if she even tried it on. Oh well. Now I know why many people only knit for themselves.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

G Is For Glass

I like glass. Sparkly, shiny, transparent, translucent, sometimes almost invisible.

The glass sweeties were a present from my mum, who guaranteed they were zero calories. Bit crunchy, though.

While I haven't set out to collect glass, sometimes it just comes my way; a bit like the dragons. I especially like the blue cobalt glass, the real stuff, but other colours (or clear) can be chosen - it's just what appeals at the time.My kitchen window gets the sun all day, and is the perfect spot to put the pieces.
They look lovely backlit.

The glass candlestick is Mexican. I like its quirky imperfections, its lopsidedness, the trapped air-bubble, and the way the top blue bit seems to float in the air because of the transparent support stem.
The very round piece was a birthday present from Mr M last year. He got it "signed" (engraved) by the glass artist who made it. That wonderful curved shape is just begging to be held and petted. Not the same way as alpaca yarn, of course, but it's still a very tactile piece.

I also have some prisms and faceted crystals hanging in the window. Not in a hippy way - more in a scientific way - the refraction of a light source, the scattering of rainbows all through the kitchen. Yeah, really. The house was designed on passive solar principles, so the angle of the roof blocks the sun in summer. As the year progresses, the angle of the sun gets lower, and the crystals light up again. My rainbows return round about Valentine's Day. They make up for the days getting shorter.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

F Is For Finished

I was taking part in the Australian Bag Lady Bag Swap on Ravelry, and now that my swapee has received her bag, I solemnly delclare, "It's Finished!" Phew.
Here is the Cheery Cherries Bag

Fellow Ravellers will find the details there. But there's some here too.

The pattern started out as an idea that came to me in the middle of the night. Luckily I keep pen and paper by the bed, so I jotted down a sketch with some notes.

Then I cut a piece of card to the size I wanted the finished bag to be.

I did heaps of calculations to get stitches per 10 cm, how to do the shaping, etc .

I spent a couple of days making charts in Excel and Photoshop.

This bag features

  • a linen stitch background for the cables - I wanted a firmer stitch than reverse stocking stitch
  • two "fronts", one white, one black, to suit the mood
  • intarsia cherry pattern from my own charts
  • three dimensional cherry-and-leaf zip pull
  • a two colour cable done as intarsia rather than carrying colours across the back. I have no idea if that’s the ‘right’ way to do it.
  • themed lining
  • braid stitch edges on the outside pockets
  • an adjustable and removable shoulder strap (in linen stitch) which can be threaded through to make short handles

I don't think I will do another swap.

I was very happy with what I received, and thought Laura did a really great job.

I did feel disappointed with how the other side of it went.
While the swapee sort of made the right noises when she received it, (more fuss over the cost of postage!), the first thing she knit afterwards was a bag, stating it was because she didn't get what she wanted in the swap. This is despite her saying "surprise me" in the swap criteria.

Now, of course, she can knit anything she wants, at any time, for any reason.
But the timing of this one, and that pointed comment, was mean, hurtful and torpedoed all my efforts. There are many, many ways that bag could have been introduced - eg, "I got all enthusiastic about all the wonderful bags that have been knitted" or "I just had to add to my bag collection" or "I really need a market bag", or, well, almost anything, really, but what was written.

I've read many forum posts about disappointing reactions to things knitted for others. I now know exactly what they mean.

Friday, 7 March 2008

E Is For Experiments

I do a lot of experimenting with my knitting. I'm probably reinventing the wheel a bit. Never mind. It's my way of hands-on learning.

I'm also experimenting with this blog post. The images are in a slide show format inserted below. Will it work?

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

D Is For Dragon

I have posted this picture before in the quest for dragons, but this photo gets a second airing, as it is one of my all time favourites.

It's hard to say why, exactly. Possibly because it was literally a "parting shot". I had taken several photos of this dragon and was heading home, when I looked back and saw the sky had changed. I just had to take one more photo!

And possibly because it reminds me of a Terry Pratchett novel. 'Guards, Guards', I think it is. Where the dragon lurked on towers and wasn't noticed unless you looked up or until it moved.

Although I cannot say I am an avid collector of dragons, a few have crept into my life anyway.

This crazy little creature came into my life more than three decades ago. I was in a gift store and a chappie came in, trying to get the store owner interested in selling the clay animals he had made. The shop owner didn't seem interested, but I asked to see them as the chappie was walking out. I couldn't resist this little one, sooo cute, licking his toe. The store owner was wrong to pass them up!

The dragonlet doesn't have a name. He was just clay colour when I got him. He's had various coats of paint since, as the mood takes me. The current metallics suit him. But I swear it wasn't me who painted his feet green and his tongue purple! JJ? COME HERE!

Most of the dragons that have come my way since have been oriental style.This one is a plate my sister made and decorated for me. She has been a very talented potter, making whole dinner sets, but she hasn't done any for a while.

And this one from Hong Kong definitely looks as if he's laughing at us all. When you're a dragon, anything you deem to be funny IS funny.

Another oriental. I don't seek out books about dragons (eg, Anne McCaffrey), but I'm quite happy if they show up in the stories. I wrote a story about a dragon as a bedtime story for JJ when he was young.

And yes, I must confess to being a bit "dragonish" myself at times, although not so much these days - mellowing with age, maybe. Just let sleeping dragons lie ...

Friday, 15 February 2008

C Is For Cutie-Pie Cynthia Cloche, Part 2

The next challenge was the welts.

I couldn't get a colour I wanted in the Cashmino, so rather than wait for a special order to come in (what, me, impatient? Never!), I used a 4-ply held doubled. I purled a few rows and then knit-joined them, just like the hem. Well, actually, I didn't really purl those rows. I did a wrap-and-turn and knitted those rows, with the inside facing the outside, so the purls would later be on the public side. Then another wrap-and-turn to go back the original way for the knit rows in between the welts, and after them as well.The welts didn't shape themselves quite how I wanted - they droop down a bit. Maybe I should have used fewer rows, or put a bit of foam stuffing in them. Oh well, they are what they are.

I started doing a spiral pattern decrease for the crown, but ripped that out as being too busy and fussy, and settled for a six-pointed star. I did this by doing a double decrease at the same spot every second row.I then knitted a rosette from the cream yarn, and stitched it on a brooch pin. It can be positioned anywhere, to hold a turned-up brim, or popped on the welt bands.

I needed to block the hat to make those double decreases lie a bit flatter. This was A Really Bad Mistake. The part of the hat that I wetted went as limp as a soggy noodle!
It also grew a bit. Very disappointing. The brim is still okay - possibly because I didn't wet it, and possibly because it is double-thickness.

I've since read on Ravelry that other people have not been happy with this yarn's performance. It would be great if you wanted something soft and drapey. Not so good for a "tailored hat". Sigh. It's still okay to wear.

C Is For Cutie-Pie Cynthia Cloche, Part 1

Here is a hat I designed last year. I started it late July and finished it late August.

I had been knitting for about two months, when I went looking for a cloche-style hat to knit. I couldn't find one I liked.

Most of the ones I came across on the 'Net were felted, and that wasn't the look I wanted. This was way before I joined Ravelry.

I wanted a very tailored look for this hat, with no colour variegation or fluffines. So, for the yarn, I chose Heirloom 8 ply cashmino in a lovely rusty colour, with a contrast band in a beigey-cream.As usual, I started by knitting a swatch for gauge. This hat was knit from the bottom up in the round. Once I had my gauge, I knew how many stitches to cast on. It was a number divisible by six - 120, 132 - can't remember.

It has a hem. Now, I've found out since then that the turned-behind part of a hem is usually knit with smaller needles or something to make it less bulky. But I wanted the bulk to help make the brim a bit firmer and stand away from the head a bit more.

I increased by 6 stitches every three or four rows. I think I did about 12 rows - my notes are sketchy at best.

Then the turn. I knew about doing a row of purl in stocking stitch to form a turn. I looked at picot turns but they were a bit fussy. Then I experimented with a stitch pattern which was the right side row of the famous "My So Called Scarf" by Stacey. I knitted an ordinary purl row, then the scarf row, then an ordinary knit row after that.
back hem unturned and first few rows of pie-crust edge

At first, I thought it wasn't going to work. That row and the next couple seemed very loose and open.
hem turned back and first few rows of pie-crust edge

Then suddenly it seemed to pull itself together, and formed this delightful edge, which reminds me of a pie crust. Hence the "Cutie-Pie" part of the design name.I knit some more rows till the length and number of decreases matched the first part of the hem, then knit-joined the two. (like a three-needle bind-off without actually binding off.)

More in Part 2

Thursday, 14 February 2008

C Is For Cameras

Yes, that's plural!

Cameras are important to me. I have been taking photos since I was a kid, and that’s too many years ago!

My dad always had good cameras: I remember a Rolleiflex; but we didn’t, and we weren’t allowed to touch his. I started off with a Brownie. It wasn’t mine, it was a family camera.

The first camera which I bought for myself in 1974 was a 35mm SLR Soligor. Soligor is better known as a lens maker, but they had a brief foray into making cameras. I still have that camera. It works without batteries – can you imagine that!
It actually does have a battery-powered exposure meter, but that battery went flat decades ago and I didn’t replace it. By then, I pretty well knew what settings to use under what conditions. And I usually got it right – no checking the image on the back of the camera in those days.

Here is a rogues’ gallery of cameras lurking around my place. The old ones were picked up in a job lot at auction, when no-one was bidding on them. They just had to go to a good home – mine! Besides which, I had in mind to use them as part of a shop window display at work. I never did.

The big old wooden one at the top is a Thornton Pickard, English, circa 1905. It comes with a couple of extra lenses. I don’t know how to use it.

The bellows camera above is an Eastman-Kodak, circa 1917-23. I closed it up after taking this photo and now I can’t get it open again. Sigh.

From left to right in the photo above:

The one on the left is another English camera, a pop-top Ensign. The best dating I can find for it is circa WW2.

Next is a baby Brownie, age unknown.

Then the Soligor, mentioned above. On the right is an Olympus 35mm zoom camera.
I got this about 2001-2002, but I'm not sure how old it was before I got it. it was my first "automatic" camera. Motorised film winding - sheer luxury!

In this photo, from left to right, a disposable underwater camera, film half used - there's probably dolphins and stingrays cavorting unseen on there. One day I'll finish off that roll of film.

Next is my Nikon F55, a 35mm SLR. I got this some time after the Olympus film camera. This one came with a couple of lenses, and I just love the 300mm zoom!
Those lenses were the main reason I went for the Nikon D70 digital SLR, which I bought in 2004. I was a late starter in the digital camera game. It's the D70 which took these photos, so it doesn't appear.

Then there's the JVC video camera. Although it's quite compact, it's definitely "old school" with a tape inside, not a hard drive. I haven't done much with it, as some parts of it don't seem to work well. Or it could be the operator, getting too old to learn all this new-fangled technology.

Last but not least, my baby digital Olympus with 10x optical zoom (love that zoom!).
This was a necessity when it became obvious that lugging around the big SLR digital was not always easy, or possible.

I use the D70 and the Olympus mostly, but I have been known to grab whichever camera is closest, including Mr M's Canon (formerly a Sony, till it got dropped once too often) and JJ's Canon. They use my cameras too, if it suits them. Especially with the big lens on, for getting up close and personal.

I've never been too techie about cameras and settings, all that f-stop stuff. I'm more about getting the look I want. I do remember enough to know what 'depth-of-field' is, and I like to play with that.

If I didn't already have a suite of lenses for the Nikon, and was buying a digital SLR from scratch, I'd probably get a Canon.

The urge to take photos comes and goes - it got a huge boost when I bought my digital SLR. I love photographing waves at the beach.