Monday, 31 December 2007
I went to the movies this afternoon and saw Atonement. I wanted to really love this. Period drama and the lure of tragic romance seemed a promising premise. Plus James McAvoy is yummy to watch in just about anything (Shameless, State of Play and Bright Young Things in particular come to mind) and despite her skinnyness, Keira Knightley has this luminescent beauty on screen that makes just looking at her a pleasure.
So why my slightly lukewarmish response? I'm not sure. It's definitely worth seeing. It's beautifully shot and I couldn't fault the performances. The only thing I can put my finger on is that I found the ending a little rushed in comparison to the pace of the rest of the film and since the ending is the last thing you see (apart from the credits), that is often what stays with you.
Happy New Year everyone. Stay safe, don't whinge about tomorrow's hangover and enjoy whatever festivities you've planned. :-) I'm off to C & D's for a quiet BBQ (D's doing a pork roast on the barbie).
Saturday, 29 December 2007
This is one of my earliest pieces of patchwork. I'm guessing that I would have been about 13 or 14 when I pieced this. I was just mastering the art of the sewing machine and I got carried away with piecing square after square from our stash of scraps.
Once it was pieced I think it got tucked away for several years and was never made into a finished item.
Then I remember Mum and I found it one day. I wasn't fussed about it and made a flippant suggestion that I could take it apart and re-use the fabric. Mum would have none of that and said that she could use the whole piece for something. The next time I came home, she had lined it with some netting and made it into a bright curtain for their en suite bathroom. I love the stained glass window effect that it makes.
It's been up there for years now and it's fascinating to see which fabrics have held their colour and which have faded in the sunlight.
Friday, 28 December 2007
I've been home visiting my parents for Christmas and this is the quilt that I've been sleeping under while I'm here. I completed this quilt in 1999 after working on it on and off over several years. The central panel and the first postage stamp border are hand pieced. The rest is machine pieced. Then the whole thing is hand quilted. I gifted it to Mum after she had dropped lots of heavy hints that she would really like a quilt. In particular, she would really like this one.
This is truly a scrap quilt and many of the fabrics hold memories of other projects, bits of clothing and the odd holiday here and there. I love the medallion style of quilt. You can grow a quilt bit by bit, without having to plan it all out beforehand. Although you can see that I was running out of inspiration - or perhaps stamina - when it came to the last border. I kept that very basic with pieced strips and mitred corners.
Wednesday, 26 December 2007
I suppose in the grand scheme of things, this project is not difficult. But I'm finding it fiddly. (Of course, I've made it even more fiddly than the original patterns suggests, by deciding to the knit the sleeves in the round using two circulars instead of flat.)
I like the way the colours are coming out. I was a little worried that it would look too "Aussie" with the yellow and green. But I think the variegation in the yellow saves it and it looks more like the wattle flowers that were the original inspiration for our national colours.
Saturday, 22 December 2007
Today is the Summer Solstice, our longest day of the year. But given one look outside and you would be forgiven for thinking that we were actually in the midst of winter. The last three days have been pretty stormy and we've had some flooding incidents dotted around Melbourne (my front step included - but no harm done).
So today has been the perfect weather to do some baking. I've made 48 mince pies (sorry no photos - this is not a food blog...).
I've also finally got around to taking some nice photos of the Baby A shawl. It's turned out bigger than I had anticipated. I forgot about the stretch factor when you block things.
I shudder to think how filthy this thing will get once it falls into the hands of a small baby. But Mum-to-be-S chose the colour so who am I to argue? At least it is machine washable.
Sunday, 16 December 2007
I managed to take a photo of the back with the camera held over my shoulder. No luck with keeping it in focus though.
This finished project ended up really looking nothing like the original Soy Cardi pattern that it was based on. However I'm really happy with the way it has turned out. The top-down construction really lends itself to trying it on as you go and just winging it.
I guess in the grand scheme of things, this project didn't take that long. But now I want something that's a bit quicker. So I've cast on for a February Baby Jacket.
(Baby A's Stonington Shawl is blocking at the moment. It's grown by about third so now it's a bit bigger than I would have intended. I'll post some photos once it's dry)
Thursday, 13 December 2007
I watched the first instalment of The Vicar of Dibley Christmas special last night. I am now lusting over Richard Armitage in a big way.
Think I will watch Sense and Sensibility tonight. I'm so sappy.
The bamboo cardi is nearing completion. Just the cuffs and the bottom band to do now.
I've got my Gryffindor self-striping yarn...
New lace blocking kit from here arrived a couple of days ago. Blocking Baby A's shawl is scheduled for this weekend.
Number of patterns queued on my Ravelry has passed 60... Perhaps I have overdosed?
Sunday, 9 December 2007
One Horcrux* Sock has been completed.
Discontinued sock yarns are being stock-piled.
And in non-photo-documented news: Christmas fruit cakes are in the oven (I know, I know it's a bit late. Bite me.) Weekend washing is on the line. The first tomato has appeared and its companion basil plants are thriving. And I think I can see the beginnings of the first ever lemons on my little lemon tree.
All is calm. All is bright.
*No souls were ripped in the making of this sock.
Friday, 7 December 2007
You know that almost-falling-asleep-and-jolting-half-awake thing that people do on the train sometimes? Well that was this fellow yesterday evening. I'm pretty sure he wasn't drunk, just tired. The only trouble was that the particular seat he was on didn't have a side. I was convinced that he was going to end up on the floor of the carriage, but somehow he managed to stay (almost) upright. The suspense kept me entertained for the duration of the trip. I am easily amused.
Sunday, 2 December 2007
This is fun. Having followed the Soy Cardi instructions thus far, I'm now finding that I'm pretty much making it up as I go along. I love that I can try it on as I go, and I'm pretty much working on the theory of knitting until I almost run out of yarn and we'll see how long it gets. Then I'll finish it off with some garter stitch edging. I'm working the sleeves on magic loop so that I don't have to seam them.
Monday, 26 November 2007
Last week my copy of The Gentle Art of Domesticity arrived and I've been having a lovely time dipping into it. Keen readers of yarnstorm will recognise many of the photos and stories but I've found that there is enough brand new content to make it worth buying in hard copy. And besides, luscious colour photos on glossy white paper outshine a computer screen every time.
Over the past few weeks I've been doing a lot of knitting. But no other craft work has been touched. On Sunday, feeling inspired(partially by Jane's book and perhaps by the new political leaf that has been turned here?), I rummaged around my "studio" and found this long time UFO which hasn't been touched for the best part of four years.
This Emu Ballet School pattern was given to me by Aunty M when she was having one of her periodic clean-outs of her patchwork stash. Ordinarily it's not the kind of project that I would undertake. Most applique patterns I find are really not to my taste, being too twee, or too country, or too naif for my liking. But something in the elegance and shape of these ballet dancing emus appealed to me enough to give them a go. The background was a beautiful piece of linen and the skirts were all scraps from the stash. The pieces were all ironed on with Vliesofix and that was where it stopped. The project got wrapped up with a box of embroidery threads when I moved and then other projects took precedence while I occupied myself, first with a series of 30th birthday quilts, followed closely by the infamous series of wedding quilts.
Now I'm having some fun doing some very simple blanket stitch edging around these outlines. The project bag has a series of scraps which I obviously intended to be used as a pieced border, so there really isn't that much left to do in order to finish this project. It's not very large so perhaps it might be done by the end of the year. I'm not making any Christmas presents this year (well... perhaps one pair of socks for Kris Kringle... but apart from that nothing) so that's not such a big call.
One of my colleagues, who's currently on maternity leave, came in to visit at work this morning bringing her toddler daughter and brand-new one week old baby boy (I got to have a little cuddle - he's beautiful). Her little girl was clutching a big new bag of buttons and M reminded me that Buttonmania in the Nicholas Building is having a sale this week. I've been to this store a few times when I've wanted some special buttons, but I'd never made the effort to go to one of their periodic sales before. What a revelation. Boxes and boxes and more boxes of buttons. Grab a tray, run your fingers through the buttons and pick out whatever you want, then pay by weight - $60 per kilogram which sounds like a lot until you realise that buttons don't really weigh that much. This is 220 grams worth of buttons.
Saturday, 24 November 2007
Knitting this top down means that as you work your way down to the arm-pit, each row gets longer and longer and you're not sure how much more you'll have to do to get it where you want it to be. It felt like another one of the Yarn Harlot's knitting black holes. But finally, the sleeve stitches are sitting on some waste yarn while I've moved on to working the body and the blob is finally recognisable as a cardi.
The bamboo is lovely to work with. It's pretty slippy, but even on addi's I'm not having too much trouble with keeping the stitches safe. It doesn't split and it feels beautifully soft and slinky.
Most Saturdays I struggle to get going in the morning. Mum usually rings and we spend half an hour or so trying to finish the Friday cryptic crossword (DA on Fridays in The Age is our nemesis!). Then I puddle around at home in my pyjamas and often don't get around to having a shower until way past midday.
But this morning I was organised. I went and got my hair cut and then I ducked round to the local primary school and cast my vote. (I even made the effort to vote below the line for the Senate. Filling in all 68 boxes on the Senate ballot gave me a perverse satisfaction. I don't envy those doing the counting.)
Voting is compulsory here so the chances are that there are scenes like this one all over the country at this very moment. I didn't time how long I was queued up, but in the grand scheme of things, it really wasn't an arduous wait, although I should have worn a hat.
Now all we can do is cross our fingers, fire up the barbie and wait for the count this evening.
Sunday, 18 November 2007
Sunshine Yarns has been running a Harry Potter Sock Club. My last installment which will be self-striping Gryffindor yarn should arrive sometime this month I think. The two previous colours have been sock club exclusives (for the moment). The first was "Just another Weasley" - lots of browns and reddish straw colours. Then a few weeks ago, "The colorway that must not be named" turned up on my doorstep.
So it seemed appropriate that this yarn should make its way into a pair of Horcrux Socks. I love the zig-zag shape that goes down this sock which seems so reminiscent of Harry's scar. Given that these socks were designed before the release of Deathly Hallows, this design reflects a pretty accurate understanding or prediction of where JK Rowling was going with her plotline.
In other knitting news: I've finished all the knitting and sewn in the ends on the shawl for Baby A. It needs blocking now before I try and work out how to best photograph the sucker.
In news from the links:
We played 9 holes of golf this morning. It was raining pretty steadily when we first got there so we sat and had a coffee until it eased off. By the time we'd played 4 holes, the sun was out, the temperature was going right up and things were getting pretty steamy. November just seems too early to be getting too many 30+ days. I scored 50 for my nine holes (par was 29) which is my best score so far. My next goal is to make par on at least one hole. I came close today, but my putt did the swing around the edge of the hole instead of going in.
Sunday, 11 November 2007
Sunday, 4 November 2007
I like the idea of knitting a cardigan from the top-down. The flexibility that it offers in terms of getting things to fit appeals. The intention is for this to be a light summer-weight cardi.
The yarn is Cleckheaton Bamboo, a yarn so new that it was in the stores well before Cleckheaton got around to putting it on their website.
The pattern is starting off with the Soy Cardi by Irene McKisson. Mine, of course, will be a Bamboo Cardi. I also plan to make my sleeves a bit looser and longer.
I haven't blogged much about this project. Mostly, I think, because the progress is difficult to document with the camera, and not that interesting to write about - lots of garter stitch, followed by lots of very basic lacy edging.
So I'm onto the final mitred segment - not quite halfway through that one. Then comes the fun part of knitting on the final edging all the way around which will be slow, but the progress is easy to measure by that stage.
The baby this is for isn't due until April, so I'll have it done in plenty of time, but the threat of sitting under a great woollen blankie through summer gave me the incentive to get it done now.
Monday, 29 October 2007
The jitterbug yarn is knitting up beautifully. The colour distribution is nicely spread out and the feel of the knitted fabric is much softer than I expected (I had originally thought that it was a tiny bit scratchy when it was in the skein).
The next question? How far up the legs will the single skein stretch? Stay tuned.
Tuesday, 23 October 2007
I don't suppose that anyone really paid that much attention to my shoes (remember that remark in The Shawshank Redemption? - I always thought that a bit strange, because I do notice people's shoes. Perhaps men don't...), but throughout that first year of secondary school I felt painfully aware that even my shoes didn't fit in with everyone else's. In later years I went through a couple of pairs of t-bars in an attempt to feel like more of the crowd. But by year 12, I celebrated being different by wearing these funky black canvas shoes that I'd got in France in preceding summer holidays. Vive la difference....
And my point is? T-bars might have been the height of fashion for school-wear, but you don't see many grown-ups wearing them. They are, however, a damn fine shoe for showing off hand-knitted socks. So here are my new Footprints T-bar shoes teamed with a newly finished pair of socks.
Pattern - Elongated Corded Rib from Sensational Knitted Socks.
Yarn - SWTC TOFUtsies
Needles - 2mm addi circs - magic looped (one sock at a time)
Started - Sep 2007
Finished - Oct 2007
Sunday, 21 October 2007
For a few years now, my girlfriends and I have been saying that we'd like to learn to play golf. But we never did anything about it. This year, C and I have pulled our fingers out and we've just completed a beginner clinic series.
This morning we had a hit out over 9 holes and I got to christen my new set of clubs. We're a bit slow at the moment. It took us the best part of 2.5 hours to finish just 9 holes. I think it will take us a while to build up to a full 18 - especially as the weather gets warmer. It's about 30 deg out there today and playing in anything much warmer than that could be quite distressing. Still, with a good hat and plenty of water, it's a lovely way to spend a Sunday morning.
Sunday, 14 October 2007
To break up the monotony of the cream baby shawl, I decided that I needed a bit of colour. I think these will fit the bill.
(Colinette Jitterbug, Jay colourway, Two at once, magic loop (2.5mm addis), Wendy Knits basic toe-up sock recipe, no frills)
Friday, 12 October 2007
Three things today - they are related.
1. Until recently I'd never really given any thought to the political correctness or incorrectness of the new vogue of "pr0ns" such as Gastro-pr0n and, in the crafting world, "yarn-pr0n" and the newly-coined(?) "pinnie-pr0n". I thought that they seemed to be neat terms for what is perhaps a relatively new phenomena, or at least a relatively recently observed phenomena, of people gaining pleasure and enjoyment just from viewing beautiful pictures of food or yarn.
I'm not that fussed by pr0n - or so I thought. [I realise that some people view it as an exploitative industry, but I guess I make a distinction between the concept (whatever floats your boat) and the practitioners (consenting adults versus legal or illegal exploitation).] But a week or so ago, a Flickr member added me as a contact. When I looked at her profile (as you do when contacts are made) I discovered that she was a sock fetishist (in a sexual way) and was a member of various "adult only" sounding groups. Flickr warned me that her photos were beyond my comfort zone and so I didn't go any further. I toyed with the idea of blocking her so that she couldn't make any comments on my photos, but didn't. I can't stop her looking unless I make my photos private and I deliberately keep my photos relatively anonymous so that I'm happy for them to be out for all to see. I guess I just couldn't work out whether to be grossed out or just perplexed that anyone would be turned on by my pictures of hand-knitted socks. In the end I guess that it's not doing me any harm. If she starts leaving comments that I don't like then I will reconsider.
2. Jane from Yarnstorm is on the publicity trail for her book The Gentle Art of Domesticity. Pop over to her blog to catch up on the goss. She has received some negative reactions from women in the "mainstream" press.
"Women are back in the kitchen doing "women's stuff". How dare they put that pressure on the rest of us? How dare they create illusions of unattainable ideals? Oh the irony of the post-feminist generation taking up all these things that their mothers fought to be free of! "
Women judging women. Women criticizing women. Is this another feminist backlash? I don't think the men give a shit if we're icing cupcakes and knitting dishcloths or not. They'd enjoy the fruits of this craft when it is there, but they are highly unlikely to criticize their partner for not crocheting enough doilies for the house. So women are either doing this because they want to, or because they feel obligated by some "imposed ideal" or expectation put on them by other women. I'd like to think that we are liberated enough that it is the former, but perhaps the critics of Jane's book argue that nobody could possibly want to do these things unless it was under some "misguided" obligation. I guess they're just not interested in baking and knitting and it makes better radio or press-copy to play devil's advocate. The storm in a teacup of controversy will do no harm to Jane's sales as people who are not interested in the "gentle arts" were never going to buy the book in the first instance. I plan to buy a copy.
3. Jane is not the only blogger with a book deal that has arisen out of her online presence. I've noticed the odd instance of comments on other blogs such as "oh... not another blogger publishing a book". I say "good on them". They wouldn't get the deal if the publisher didn't think it was a financially worthwhile exercise. And I have a great of admiration for those with the application and the skill with words to write a whole book. I don't think it is an easy thing to do well.
That's my ramble done for now.
Monday, 8 October 2007
What's at the top of the queue right now? A plain vanilla pair of toe-up socks using Colinette Jitterbug. I have two skeins of this stuff, but I've read quite a few posts from people who've found the yardage a bit on the scant side. So I'm going to try out a two-at-once toe-up pair to see how far the yarn will go on my feet before I make a cuff-down pair from the second skein.
Sunday, 7 October 2007
I've successfully knit one sock using magic loop for the first time.
Once its mate is completed then the next challenge will be two at once on magic loop. Baby steps. Baby steps.
I signed up for a pro Flickr account a few weeks ago and they are currently including a sample pack of 10 Moo cards with membership. I got mine in the mail on Friday.
I like them, but I'm not sure that I really have a use for them. They're beautifully presented and they have a certain appeal for those stationery fetishists amongst us. I guess I can take them out from time to time and admire them.
Monday, 1 October 2007
I finally finished the Drunken Bees. I had an unexpected invitation to a 21st party over the weekend, so these ended up being a gift. I think they will fit... (I hope).
The second sock seemed to go quicker than the first. Perhaps this was because I knew exactly how many rows were left at any one point on the second one.
Saturday, 22 September 2007
Machine pieced patchwork - tick
Machine pieced backing - tick
Quilt sandwiched - tick
Hand quilting with stranded embroidery thread - tick
Make bias binding - tick
Bind quilt - tick
Photograph quilt - tick.
aaahhhh...... that's better.
Monday, 17 September 2007
Last Christmas, Mum gave me a little Bonsai starter kit - pot, potting mix, fertilizer, training wire, and a couple of seedlings - along with some books on the art and how-to's of Bonsai. Quickly devouring through the books, it became clear that this was hobby that you commit to for years to get results. It also became clear that design and balance and technique were paramount.
I got a little spooked. I plonked the seedlings in regular little pots "to grow for a while" and worried about getting it right. There seemed to be so many things to take into account. One of the seedlings didn't make it through the summer, but the peppermint gum (eucalyptus nicholii) seemed to do ok.
Finally, this weekend just gone, I realised that I was over-intellectualising the whole process and that I didn't need to get it perfect first time. So I pulled up the gum tree seedling, trimmed its very vigourous roots and little branches and plonked it in the pot. It ended up off-centre because of the shape and angle of the roots. I wired the trunk and two of the branches so that it wasn't too lop-sided.
Now I guess we'll just have to see what happens.
Thursday, 13 September 2007
Every now and then, I notice little things about knitting that give me great satisfaction in little ways. Some people get it from blocking a piece of lace. I haven't done much of that yet (despite it having been my intention to do more lace this year - somehow it didn't really pan out... but no matter).
But what I have found, is that when knitting a top-down sock (which is how I knit socks most of the time - except when I'm terrified of running out of yarn), I love the corrugations that form from knitting a simple 2x2 ribbed cuff. I'm not sure what it is about this that pleases me so much. Perhaps it's the neatness (I like it best with smooth yarns) and the regularity.
Wednesday, 12 September 2007
She also points out that Knit Picks have just brought out a new range of wooden needles. And these aren't just plain wooden needles. No sirree. These are psychedelic multi-coloured wooden needles. These will definitely be going on my wishlist when they become available here. Knit Picks also claim that their wooden needles are stronger than other wooden needles (especially in the smaller sizes) because of the way that they are made. I would be very interested in testing this. I've used Brittany Birch 2mm sock (US size 0) needles and whilst I've managed not to break them so far, they warp a bit and I knit with them in constant fear as I feel them flex in my hands.
Photo-less Sock Knitting Update:
I'm working on the second Drunken Bee sock. I'm back to working it the same as the first. So much for my intentions of "going fraternal". Perhaps another time.
I've also begun work on a new Summer-weight sock from TOFUtsies and I'm trying out, for the first time, the magic loop technique. All is well so far although the big loops are freaking me out a little bit. If I were knitting two-at-a-time, there would be less loopage (new word?) so perhaps that will be the next challenge.
Monday, 10 September 2007
On reflection, I really like this pattern. The socks fit beautifully and truly feel like they were actually made for my feet (which they were - duh!)
I'd probably do the legs shorter next time. These fit just fine, but I'm pretty lazy and shorter rows sound quite attractive from a knitting perspective.
It's really hard to hold your hand steady when trying to take a photo from this angle.
And the grafting? It's actually a lot of fun when the graft is long enough that you can get a rhythm going.
Saturday, 8 September 2007
Very few people seem to show photographs of the back view of the BSJ. I think this almost has a kimono-esque feel to it.
I'm hazarding a very rough guess that this would probably fit a six month old. It definitely looks too big for a newborn, but apart from that, I'm really bad at guestimating baby sizes.
Lots of lovely garter stitch is very good for mindless TV knitting.
I've just got the little bit of seaming and finding the right buttons left to go.
(A propos buttons: EZ says to put the buttons on the "appropriate" side once the baby's gender is known. What is "appropriate" for each gender? This little piece of etiquette or convention escapes me. I seem to remember that it got a mention once in an Encyclopedia Brown book. I only remember that because it was news to me that buttons were on different sides for men and women - why?? - Too bad I didn't pay quite enough attention to remember which was which.)
I'm not sure..... maybe I'll rip back and do the drunken zig zag for the second sock after all. I've had a little break so the thought of doing the same sock again isn't filling me with so much dread.
The waterfall pattern just doesn't seem to have enough definition.
Monday, 3 September 2007
I have yet to cast on for the second sock, but I've done myself a little chart which combines the Honeycomb element from the Drunken Bees pattern, with a slightly-amended-to-fit-the-stitch-count Waterfall Rib (from Sensational Knitted Socks).
My theory is that this way, the socks will retain the same feel whilst being different enough that I won't go completely doo-lally knitting the same thing over again. (I've completed an identical pair of Bayerische socks. I don't have to prove my stamina to anyone!) If I knitted a completely different sock, the fit would be different and that would drive me a just a little bit more nuts.
Sunday, 2 September 2007
I pull this out whenever I feel like doing something really mindless and work another stripe. It started with a 200 chain width, so it's going to be huge. But it's now getting long enough that it's nice to have on my lap when there's a little bit of chill in the evening, but it's not cold enough to put the heater on.
It's inspired, of course, by the ripple blanket craze that was instigated by Yarnstorm, which subsequently spread throughout the blogosphere. I'm joining the party somewhat belatedly, but I'm having a lovely time with it.
I've chosen the Holiday Waves pattern from Jan Eaton's 200 Ripple Stitch Patterns. It's worked with trebles (I think American crochet terminology would call these doubles) so it's growing at a reasonable pace, although it gobbles up yarn like nobody's business. I have no plan, or a complete stash of yarn for it. I pick up the odd ball or yarn whenever I spot some that takes my fancy, or is on special. My only criteria is that they are 8ply weight, plain colours (mostly jewel-like tones) and wool based.
Friday, 31 August 2007
I'm tempted to mix things up a little for the second sock. I've gotten used to the swing of this pattern now. But if I'm honest, although I like the way it looks, and although I'm sure it will be lovely to wear, I don't think I can face knitting this same sock all over again to make the pair.
Nor, on the other hand, can I countenance the idea of succumbing totally to the dreaded Second Sock Syndrome. I like to think that I'm made of sterner stuff than that.
So, to that end, I plan to take inspiration from Guru Donni, who recently launched the SSSLG. [* Paisley waits patiently while readers go and check out what that acronym stands for. You're back? Ok.]
How revolutionary is that?! Knock over 2 patterns from the sock queue for the time investment of 1 pair of socks.
Sunday, 26 August 2007
I seem to be accumulating a pile of patchwork tops, sandwiched and basted, but I'm not doing a hell of a lot about getting them quilted. This one will hopefully be an exception as it has a deadline, of sorts.
I pieced this top last Sunday using a disappearing 9 patch technique that I had spotted in a few spots on the web recently. It's a very simple technique and it comes together very quickly. This was but the work of an afternoon. My colour choices were inspired by Jane's Tate Postcard quilt that she made a few months ago.
I'm planning on quilting this with stranded embroidery thread - similar to the quilting I did on my Plain Spoken (which recently got a compliment from Bill Kerr - co-designer of the original pattern - I was quite chuffed at this).