Another ending, another beginning

It’s the end of the year. How did that happen? Same as every year, in a flurry of frantic activity and good eating, spent with lovely friends (though not family this year!)

A strange thing has occurred. I have found myself at the end of the year with not a thing on the needles. Oh sure i’ve got some hibernating projects back in Aus, and I have a swatch of a cardi I’m about to start soon, but I finished up 3 projects this month and have not yet cast anything on!

Forgive the shocking photos, but I finished the most beautiful jumper that I’ve been wanting to knit for absolutely ages two days ago.

Emily by Kim Hargreaves, knit in the recommended Kid Classic

After this photo was taken I did actually lengthen it by 2 inches. I wore it with the dress and it was fine, but i knew it would feel too short with some skirts and all my trousers (not that I wear jeans very often any more!) so I popped in a knitting needle just above the texturing on the hem, snipped away and added in all the extra yarn i had in the stocking stitch section before reworking the hem. Worked very well thank you very much!

I also finished (having knit almost TWICE) my Stellaria shawl. I had to frog it when I was almost finished the first time as I was going to run out of yarn! I frogged it and reworked it with one less repeat and it is now complete and beautiful! Again forgive the crappy blocking photo, but there’s very little space and even less light here at the moment!

Stellaria in a beautiful hand dyed silk and wool from Edinburgh. The colour is actually pretty accurate, it’s a very very soft green

The other project was my one solitary knitted christmas gift, a pair of mitts for darling Kylie. I don’t have a photo as I finished them christmas eve and they went straight into wrapping paper, but I’ll ask her nicely and maybe she’ll oblige…

I will aim to get nicer photos of everything and do a collage early in the new year of 2013’s knits, but some nice things happened – I did a Mystery KAL, I got asked by Twist Collective if they could use my photo of my Mary Jane in their newsletter and I knit quite a few jumpers that I’ve been meaning to knit for a while. My crafting resolutions back in January were to take better photos (true during summer!) and to knit more around my friends. Well despite not really doing much of the latter, I’ve managed to get some pretty hefty projects done!

2013 Round up:

  • hats and headbands – 3 of each.
  • shawls, scarves and cowls – 6, including a half-swapsies cowl with Katie!
  • jumpers and tops – 5! one crocheted, and two short sleeved, but one lace weight!
  • mitts – 2 pairs, both gifts
  • small people things – just the 2 vests for Mat and Gemma’s daughters
  • socks – NONE! but I did knit a pair of spats – which i LOVE! And I made my first pair of felted slippers

So not my most productive year volume wise, but a lot of big projects in there! I also was pretty light on the yarn buying! excluding yarn for gifts and commissions, I bought 24 skeins of yarn (7 of which are felted tweed which was mostly covered by a gift card for my birthday) and swapped one for a skien of madtosh. I also received a beautiful hand dyed skein from Ursula for my birthday. I knit a hell of a lot more than that! (around 40?). So yay me!

I hope your crafting year was fun and productive, and may your new year be filled with yarn, thread, ribbons, pins, fabric and all other things that make you happy!

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A Cross- Continental Cowl

This is Katie

I hope she doesn’t mind me using a rav photo!!

She is my knitting bestie and one of the most awesome housemates I’ve ever had. We had a lot of fun together and I know that whenever we are together we will still have a lot of fun together.

So when Ysolda Teague and Stephanie Dosen (of Tiny Owl Knits) released a BFF friendship cowl pattern on Knitty last year Katie immediately nudged me (remotely) and said, hey now that you are oh so far away, we should totally do this!
So we did!
I have access to all the fun English yarns at the moment, and we had a convenient makeshift-postie in the form of the travelling Ursula who was visiting her family, so I sent Katie two skeins of Old Maiden Aunt in Midnight and kept 2 for myself in Dreicht (a horrible sounding but truly BEAUTIFUL colour)
we worked away making the sport/DK weight yarn look good in what is technically a worsted weight pattern and sent photos of our efforts to each other
experimentation with extra stitches and pattern repeats!

experimentation with extra stitches and pattern repeats!

When at last we had completed our ‘seed pod’ links, we posted them to the other side of the world, complete with little goodies and helloes (I send Katie the most horrendously bad postcard of all time and some british noms)

Then came the task of grafting the links

grafting the first...

grafting the first…

grafting the second!

…grafting the second!

Final step? WEAR! though of course it’s too hot now! but it will get cold again soon and for oh so long. meanwhile, Katie’s link is protecting her from the dreary Melbourne winter!

I did use the inconvenient sunshine to take some awesome pics though!

IMG_1833 IMG_1835

How gorgeous is that yarn! such a dream to knit with too. I can’t wait to wear this… well, I can, because i love London in the summer, but it will be a little bit of bliss come the Autumn rains!

And this is why i knit (for other people)

Since I got to the UK and have been able to show off my skill with needles and hook to a whole new batch of friends, I’ve heard the following comment a lot…

“oooh, you could sell those”

or a variation on the theme…

“Have you ever thought about selling things?”

To which I sometimes smile and just say no, or sometimes explain i tried that and it was hard, or for my closer, more patient, actually want a response friends, I explain that actually, what people would pay versus the time and money I invest would make it a pointless exercise.

But the real reason is this.

I am a selfish knitter. I knit for pleasure, so I can take pride in showing off something I created with my own hands, so I can have something that is exactly how I want it (most of the time) and to pass hours that I would otherwise feel are wasted (or my excuse to watch television).

And because of this, when I do knit for other people, it is for one reason and one reason only. Because I care.

The wonderful Yarn Harlot posted today about the love that goes into a knitted present and how it stays with it. How wrapping oneself up in a handknitted gift really is like a woolly hug. And this is exactly how I think about knitting for other people. For both family and friends, and for new little people who don’t even realise that the thing that is keeping them warm is doing so in more ways than one. Even when I take requests, I accept them because I know that the finished object will not only be valued, but will be a reminder of my love and affection. (seriously, my most recent request I argued against receiving any kind of payment, but the recipient objected!)

I have only been in England a year, but I have made 3 gifts for people here and a few for little people back home. You’ve seen Kylie’s hat and I told you about John’s winter set and now here’s the third…

Fade Fingerless Gloves
or “Proper Thug Mitts” as Sam put it

After knitting Kylie’s hat, I offered to knit something for Sam for his christmas/birthday present (as the two events bookend the coldest part of the year). He asked for some mitts in purple and black and I immediately thought of this pattern* (as I have done it before for another male friend* of mine with great success)

It took me a while to find the right shade of purple in the right kind of yarn, but i finally did just after christmas and in less than a week I whipped up a pair of mitts for my dearest, dearest Sam.

I was worried they might be a bit snug, but he loves them!

And I love him.

See how this works?

 

 

*ravelry link

the best souvenir is yarn!

Growing up, my mum travelled a lot and brought me gifts from all over the world. As i got older and my friends travelled more, they brought me presents too (mostly fridge magnets, because it made my fridge far more interesting and useful). When I first started travelling a lot, I bought myself the usual, magnets, shot glasses (18!), jewellery… but then i got into knitting and souvenir shopping got a lot more fun!

I’ve talked about my various international yarny purchases from my Big Trip 09 and I’ve mentioned the yarny component of other travels as well. Since i’ve been in Europe I’ve had a few opportunities to travel and have continued my souvenir traditions – wanna see?

First off was the lovely Rooster lace weight from Bath mentioned in an earlier post.

Then in July I headed to sunny (sadly not) Copenhagen, Gothenburg and Malmo. You would think that Scandinavia would be the best place to get all sorts of super warm woollen yarns, what with it being the HOME OF WINTER… and you would be right! Not all of my purchases originate from the area…

like this delicious Shibui Knits Sock, destined to become a mini colour affection shawl/scarf

but a lot did…

like this lovely self striping single blended from shetland and merino lambswool… what a great combo! This is from Denmark, purchased in Copenhagen

And this Norwegian (ok so it’s next door) Angora blended with lambswool, beautifully naturally coloured. Picked this one up in Gothenburg! It’s became a pretty little Ishbel hat and i still have half the ball!

And another rustic wool, dyed in gorgeous selfstriping greys, from a little island in Sweden, also purchased in Gothenburg

What i found most interesting was the penchant for Linen! Despite the freezing cold temperatures of the area, Linen makes an appearance in all the stores, with most producing their own line (fibre pun!)

I couldn’t resist this colour – am thinking of crocheting a lacy thin scarf. pattern suggestions?

(yarns purchased at Sommerfuglen in Copenhagen and Strikk and Broderi & Garn in Gotheburg. I would recommend all 3)

As mentioned on my other blog I headed up to Edinburgh for the festival and thought it only fitting I picked up some Northern yarn. While knitting at the Purple Pig, (where I met Ysolda!) it was suggested to me that I try Rennie’s shetland yarn – apparently the meterage goes forever and it softens up beautifully upon washing (the suggestion was made complete with feelable samples). I was also told it made an appearance at a new store in the New Town, which i’d been planning on heading to, so when i went to Kathy’s Knits, the aim was to suss out the colours and maybe pick something up for some colourwork.

what do we think? I’m pretty happy!

I also knew I had to check out K1 Yarns – apart from it being Ysolda’s local, I also knew they stocked the Orkney angora that My darling Mel (who’s just started an etsy store for hand blended fibre – check it out!) turned into a deliciously soft and fluffy ishbel shawl. I couldn’t resist my own fluffy bundle!

I’m predictable I know…
The blend used to be 100% butI think it’s still pretty lovely!

Last week I went to Amsterdam, but sadly I ended up not visiting the yarn store literally one street away from our hostel because I was sick as a dog on our last day and buying the yarn, whilst definitely on my mind, was just too hard.

So here’s a picture perfect moment from Amsterdam instead…

more photos like this to come on my other blog…

2011 retrospective

I made lots of things some for me, some for other people, some big, some small.

according to rav i completed 11 pairs of socks (2 gifted), 3 adult jumpers/cardigans (all for me), 2 hats (both gifts), 3 scarves/shawls (two for me, one not shown), 13 various things for babies and children (all gifts) and a pair of mitts (not shown and gifted).

It always surprises me at the end of the year when i look at how much i’ve actually knit for other people.

1. wallflower, 2. elijah’s cardi, 3. fruiby’s vest, 4. blanket, 5. IMG_0081, 6. mini cons, 7. synesthesia, 8. thea, 9. fishies, 10. theo’s jumper, 11. stockport, 12. kalajoki, 13. kitty hat, 14. pixie hat, 15. skew, 16. noro scarf, 17. soaker, 18. livia, 19. fay, 20. shur’tugal, 21. baby ribs, 22. DSC_0315, 23. DSC_0326, 24. baby vest, 25. mochi socks, 26. brown bear, 27. swallowtail, 28. moonflower socks, 29. port adelaide socks, 30. jade’s tunic

I currently have 6 wips. (hey, not bad at all for me!) The most exciting of these is Sylvi which i hope to have finished and lined before i go to the UK

I got six lovely insallments of socks that rock

1. comfort and joy, 2. Drop Dead Sexy , 3. schwartzwald, 4. maia, 5. electric kool aid acid test, 6. pinky swear and augerbenius

In the spinning world i only finished 8 yarns, though i have a few on bobbins.

you can't tell what colours i like at all, can you?

1. nett’s bunny hop angorino, 2. katie’s merino/carbonized bamboo, 3. mel’s wensleydale, 4. berry superwash merino 3ply, 5. nett’s camel bunny silk , 6. wensleydale singles, 7. lush bunny, 8. merino rose fibre

my spinning is still not as even as i would like and i’m really really bad at getting my singles the same length for plying, but i still enjoy it and i am improving.

Not a bad effort for a year plagued with illness, restlessness and then extreme busy-ness!

but honestly? I’m glad to be done with it!

A new year, a fresh start

I want to change the name of my blog. I know what i meant by the title, but it never sounds right. It kinda makes me sound like a junkie and i don’t want that.

so…

here are my suggestions, and i’m willing to take suggestions from the crowd.

I will  make a decision tomorrow night after SnB

 

Crafty like a Fox

Knitickyboo (it’s already the blog address)

binkabooknitty (a play on my extended online alias, binkabookitty)

Knitty Kitty (i do love cats so)

A Yarn or Two

Crafting my life

 

these are all pretty lame, so give me ideas people!

 

 

My Girls

I hate gender stereotyping, but for the sake of brevity, my Richmond girls are my girls.

And I love them.

I have to giggle whenever i tell my cool trendy co-workers (at my cool trendy clothing store workplace) that i’m going to my knit night. They frown and question me with a confused expression. “Your knitting night?” they say as if they might have heard wrong.

I smile, thinking “OH, if only you knew…”

My girls are definitely not what non-knitters would think of when i say knitting group. The richmond knitters are a true SnB, Debbie Stoller style. We range in age from around 25 to 65, with most of us 30 -45. Some of us have children, most of us don’t. Some of us work full time, some casually, some are professionals, some are artists, some are even unemployed (for the moment – career changes ftw!). We are so different, coming from many countries and backgrounds.

What we all are though is passionate, clever and FUCKING HILARIOUS. sorry for the expletives, but i need to express just how awesome my girls are. People who have this nana-ish image of knitters in their head have no idea about the kind of wonderful conversation we have and the trust and friendship we share.

Last night was a little end-of-year get together and there was great food, excellent cocktails and wonderful company to be had. Conversations ranged from family, to work, to things that are best not discussed in print.

And again i had to giggle, thinking, if only those doubters knew how wonderfully wicked and fun my girls are.

sorry if this post is repetitive, but it bears repeating. Also, i may or may not have had most of a bottle of red.

here is an obligatory knitting photo…

that is not of knitting, but of handspun yarn. just keeping it real.

obligatory FO photo

handspun superwash merino – 3 ply, but sadly not enough for socks. *fail*

Months in the Making

A baby is months in the making (9 months or 40 weeks to be more precise) so it is only fitting that when someone you really care about is making a person, you spend a few months making something too.

When my darling friends E+SJ told me they were expecting (something that took a bit more effort and planning than it does for some couples) E told me a story about a knitted blanket that her brother had had as a child. Sadly this blanket was lost to the family but hearing the memories and longing in E’s voice i knew what i had to do for her and her little foetus. E is an amazing quilter and stitcher and though she has tried the yarny needle arts she doesn’t feel comfortable with knitting needles or a crochet hook. SJ knits beautifully but occupies her time with other activities (including learning to be a teacher – pretty important!) so i knew these were the kind of people who would really appreciate the time, effort, dedication and love that goes into a hand knitted blanket. There was no doubt about what i would do!

I picked out the yarn and pattern pretty much as soon as i knew. I chose a beautiful lace shawl pattern* by debbie bliss from one of her many beautiful baby books, but decided against the baby cashmerino. Firstly I figured if i knit it in a thicker yarn i could cut out a few repeats and it would go a bit faster, secondly, baby cash isn’t cheap (even with a staff discount) and thirdly, while it is beautiful, occasionally i have heard tell of it not standing up to years of use, and this was a project i wanted to be a family heirloom. I chose instead Adorn Cotton Cashmere in a beautiful soft sage green – a colour i know E loves, would complement their home and that i thought would suit either a boy or a girl. I know from experience that the cotton cashmere is both wonderfully soft and EXTREMELY hardy. You can throw that yarn in the dryer NO trouble!

I didn’t cast on until the pregnancy had been officially announced, not wanting to jinx anything and once i had the ‘go ahead’ knitted on it every now and again, here and in adelaide, at mine and at friends’ houses, until i got the date for the baby shower (today) and a deadline for the blanket! And so, on Thursday night I finished sewing on the edge, washed and blocked the present and today gave it to the lovely mums-to-be.

Green on Green on a sunny summer's day

Just for frame of reference for size, here is a photo of it blocking on my double sofa bed

a blanket, a play mat and a shawl in one

For anyone wanting to do this blanket i’ll tell you i cut out 2 repeats (18 stitches per repeat) and worked the 24 row pattern 12 times, with a further 7 rows to create the finer zig zag at each end. It still turned out huge! I’d read on rav that this was really big (which was why i was happy to cut out a few repeats) but i probably could have cut out another one or two repeats and still had a good sized blanket!

This was not the only present for E and SJ – good friends deserve lots of knitted things!

Earlier in the year i presented them with the following items, both knitted once it was known Fruiby (fruit baby – a nickname given because E has been blogging each week comparing in size Fruiby to fruits and vegies) that fruiby would be a child of the boy type. E and SJ are very much against gender specific-ness anyway, and have worked on a wardrobe for Fruiby in gorgeous brights of every colour, so i used the very special leftover yarn from my swedish fish socks to create a colourful little vest for him

A stripy vest!

E and SJ are massive Dr Who fans (as am i) and it occurred to me that rather than knitting traditional booties, i could pay an homage to a wonderful fandom and still create a cute baby present. Now, I’m not the best crocheter in the world, and of course i didn’t use the recommended gauge yarn, but i managed to create these in reference to 10s distinctive footwear…

BABY CONS!

So now I am moving on to me projects. I don’t think i will be knitting presents this christmas, which is a bit sad, but with so many babies it’s like my gift quota is done! There are more babies to knit for yet, so i hope you like adorable cute things! It does feel weird to be finished with a project i’ve had with me for so long though.

*ravelry link

sOctober Disaster!!

So, I cheated a little on my pre-packaged self-imposed Sock a month thinger that i’ve been doing this year and swapped out a random pre-matched pattern and yarn (only 3 left) for my first wollmeise socks, beautiful colourwork Wallflowers (rav link here) in Stella Polaris and an undyed cashmere blend from Wired 4 Fibre.

My Hubris has been my downfall.

I never do tension for socks. I pretty much look at the needle in the pattern, the needle on the sock band and decide between (usually) a 2.25 or a 2.5. I’ve never had a problem (ok, my skews could probably afford to be on a 2.5, but honestly they’re never going to be easy for me to put on just because of my heel/bridge shape)

Until now.

So, i started, enjoying the complexity of the pattern, the softness of the cashmere, the colour of the wm and  my new way of tensioning. i’ve abandonned 2 handed – it looks cool but doesn’t really make me happy. I’m holding both yarns in my right hand as i normally do and using my forefingers to switch between the two. It’s a little bit quicker for me too and my floats are tight, but not too tight and very even.

I happily knit away on the recommended 2mms, working the heel – my first point of concern – the point at which i should have maybe at least tried the sock ON, especially given i’m looking at that heel and looking at my pointy heeled, high arched foot and thinking, hmmm – doing short rows (MAGIC!) and getting a whole nother repeat of the pattern done.

I am 1/2 an inch from starting the toe. so like maybe 6 more rounds… and i finally try it on.

and i CAN NOT GET IT OVER MY HEEL.

at all.

on either foot.

*facepalm*

I thought i would cry, but interestingly enough i didn’t I think shock set in instead. I calmly decided that yes i would frog and reknit, since the people i love enough in this world to give a colourwork sock to do not have tiny skinny feet, or low insteps. and also, I totally want to wear these in the UK next year what with their double layer warmth, cashmere and general prettiness

So I took the needles out and prepared to frog. Before i completely frogged i did a little tension measure, just to see.

Well, blow me down if i wasn’t getting 40 stitches (and this is after i’ve stretched the sock significantly trying to get it over my heel) instead of the 36 i’m meant to be getting.

WHOOOOOOPS!

So I ummed and ahhed about whether to try 2.25s or 2.5s, but the answer was given me by a weird spillage of needles in another room which meant when i went to grab my 2.25s there were only 2.5s to be had. I saw it as a sign and started knitting.

An episode of Law and Order UK and one of QI Uncut later and i have

And it fits 🙂 i’m getting the tension given when i smooth out the slight colourwork puckering (it’s the sort that will block out no trouble at all but just makes the unblocked thing look a bit bumpy) and while it is still a bit of a squish over the heel i did get it on.

Now though, I’m wondering what to do about this heel. I feel I should start it earlier and make it deeper? ie spread out the increases over more rows? thoughts? has anyone done this pattern?

So. my socks are back on track, but for anyone good at maths they will see that a sock i cast on on the 1st of october had not yet been finished and is now being reknitted and socks, in general, do like to come in pairs. This means that unless i completely abandon ALL other projects i’m working on at the moment (ha, like that’s going to happen, especially when one of them is Sylvi which is like, whe-hey instant results!) these will not be finished in time for november

The lovely K at Knitting Pretty suggested I make a pair of socks for lilah (which i amended to a pair of baby socks, since lilah does not like to wear socks and also has 4 feet) before oct is over to stay with my ‘socks each month’ challenge. I had been thinking of using some of my NEVER ENDING BALL Of Wanda (sknitches cinema sock club yarn used in the fish socks) to make some baby socks for ALL THE BABIES i know. So, my dear knitters? tell me, does this preserve my sock – a- month (and i have indeed completed a pair of socks every month this year – one was 4 days late, but otherwise on time) or is it just a token effort?

I also have to bear in mind that during November i will have to get cracking on a super special secret project for some very special people as i now have a date i intend to present them with this… well, present!

Please contribute your 2 cents (or dollars?) worth. would love advice and also, comments are nice!

Next post will have LOTS more pictures, of yarn and FOs, i promise!

 

ETA: I have been SO SO SO busy in recent weeks between travelling, getting new jobs, working old jobs and directing for the first time ever in a short play festival i’m also performing in. If you’re in melbourne come along to the Short and Sweet festival on Sat 5th Nov to see my directorial debut!

Things I like – babies and yarn!

A few FOs to show off, including some presents, and i want to share my growing wm collection…

I received what will probably be my last wm skein (for the moment) in the post last week. All my yarn has come from destashes and it’s really easy to see what colours i like! I may destash one of these since i’m not in love with is, but all the others are just LOVELY.

L-R: Pinie, Sabrina, Aquarius, Neptun, Stella Polaris, Verzaubert, Der Letzst Versuch, Fleiderbusch, Magnolie (dark) (some of these are WD but not sure which)

I find it really interesting the way WM has taken off. I describe it as being like collector’s cards. You don’t necessarily NEED them for anything, but you kind of want to collect them all, just for the sake of it… For me, there are certain colours I want to see in person and pet and play with and one day knit, but there’s also definitely the desire to COLLECT. however. I’m putting the breaks on – after all – i’m yet to knit with it and i should make sure i like it first!

I went to a Blessingway (as opposed to a baby shower) for a dear friend on saturday afternoon. Her due date is the opening night of our show, so she is the ONLY person I know (in Melbourne) who has a valid excuse for not being there! (remember to let me know when you book!!)

It was lovely to see her and to help her make things for her birthing process, namely prayer flags (very non-traditional) for the room and a contribution to a necklace for her to wear. We also got to do kitchy things, like decorate onesies (BIG PUFF PAINT DUCKIE!) and play games (like baby animal bingo – AWESOME). I’m keeping track of these sorts of things as i’m hoping to be involved in the planning of someone ELSE’s baby shower later in the year.

I got to give S her lovely knitted gifts, which you should know by now is my favourite part of unselfish knitting. she loved everything.

pixie hat, ribbed sideways knit cardi and milo soaker

Two of these patterns came from my vintage knits baby book – the pixie hat and soaker. the other is from a great ACS pattern book, the cocoon baby collection. I’ve talked about the cardi before and the hat and soaker are pretty self explanatory. I was trying to do a slightly upsized version of the hat for baby’s older sister, but am having epic hat knitting fail. She WILL get something, but not just yet!

This is not it on the baby front this year!!! I just found out my second cousin living here in melbourne has had another little boy (only a year after the first who received the blue baby sophisticate coat last year) and two of my bestest friends in the whole world have now officially announced that they are expecting. This is a bit more of an acheivement in their case as a gay couple, but they’ve done it and there will be another tiny person around in January!

So much baby knitting! lucky they’re small!