Subjectively Necessary Yarn-Accumulation Procedure

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There’s a segment on Andrew Denton’s new show ‘Randling’ called ‘Double Speak’. Contestants have to come up with euphemisms for unfortunate occurrences. For example, a more innocuous term for bombing would be ‘high-altitude aerial persuasion’ or ‘gravity-assisted terrain reshaping device’.

Inspired by this display of witty wordplay, I’ve begun referring to my stash as my subjectively necessary yarn-accumulation procedure. And by those means of justification, here is my haul from my work’s winter sale.

These balls of Country 8ply will probably go towards making a seamless top-down jumper. I’ve been wanting to try that out for a while now. Something like this, but maybe with a bit more shaping.

I also bought some Totem DK to make crochet blankets for 107.

The blankets will just be a single colour. I’ve decided that for the green blanket I will make one square per ball, in total 20 squares to make a 4X5 square blanket. Obviously with all of the projects I already have going, and then the ones in my queue, I won’t get around to making those for a while. I did let myself do some experimenting though.
This is the kind of square I’m thinking of using. Its dimensions are roughly 25X25cm.

I got the pattern for this lovely square from the Japanese crochet book I bought from Kinokuniya a few weeks ago. I absolutely love this pattern.

I decided to work on it while catching the train home from work last week. The train was packed and everyone was off in their own little world. But as soon as I put hook to yarn, the woman next to me started asking me all these great questions about crochet and knitting. Once we started talking, all the other people around us joined in. It really made my day. They were all such nice people. None of them were crafters, but it was really awesome that they were interested in what I was doing.
This sort of thing keeps happening to me actually. For example, a woman on the train yesterday was watching me knit using the magic loop method and wanted to know how it worked. She was sick of not being able to knit socks on public transport for fear of someone bumping her and dislodging a DPN from her work. The conversation was cut short because I was only on for one more stop, but she was a genuinely lovely person and I only wish we could have chatted for longer…

I mentioned last time that I bought some cashmere-merino blend to dye naturally. Here it is in all its undyed, soft and abundant glory! Isn’t it grand?

Oh, the effort exerted by carrying all of these on the peak-hour bus home! Mind you, for every sale pack of wool, I received a free pattern book. Eight free pattern books! I felt like one of those insane Boxing Day Sale shoppers who carries home their own weight in post-Christmas bargains. And in my own very special way, I suppose I was.

In other news, I finished the contrast socks! Woo hoo! They were so much fun to make. I’m decidedly a toe-up convert. I’ll definitely be stocking up on Greystone before the sale is over so I can keep making these little beauties.

Today, I’ll leave you with this: While I was snapping away with my camera, Timmy became entranced by the carry bags I’d used to get the wool home. I managed to quickly catch a couple of blurry, but still adorable, photos of him investigating before he decided they weren’t as entertaining as first anticipated.

Until next time.

There’s a party in my shoe…

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So, I had this genius idea to try and make some toe-up socks. I’ve only ever made cuff-down and I always had this fear that to do it the other way would be confusing, difficult, tedious, messy, you get the picture… And despite my manager at work telling me that she could teach me the cast on, and that it’s not really that hard, I’ve just had it stuck in my head that it was always going to be tricky, and frankly a bit traumatic. And I wasn’t kidding myself. It was hard. But I think if I’d taken her up on her offer for help it would have been a lot smoother sailing.

The advantage of toe up socks is because you’re knitting the foot first you don’t have to worry about running out of yarn because you can adjust the leg length last of all. I always fudge the ribbing and have to pick up and re-knit the leg after finishing the foot. I never learn. For example, the Jigsaw socks I started (and have now finished one) feature the same corner-cutting, awkwardly slightly loose ribbing that seems to plague a lot of my socks.

You can’t tell from the photo, so I guess if I’d just not told you about it you wouldn’t have known or cared. Damn. Oh well, I’ll just pick up and re-knit the cuffs. I’ll have to match the part of the colourway though so both socks match.

I also really like the heel of a toe-up sock. No nasty heel-flap or holes to darn around the instep – that’s my kind of sock. My genius plan was to make socks of 107 in a medium grey with fluorescent, neon or just brightly coloured contrast toes and heels. Ever since I got this idea in my head I couldn’t get it out. All I could think about was when I would have the time to sit down and just give it a go. I leave home in the mornings only an hour after it becomes light and I don’t leave work until it’s dark again. That’s just the nature of winter I suppose, but I guess it also explains why I post so infrequently. There’s just very little light to take photos. (I apologise for the crummy use of flash in the one of the photos. Grrr, daylight savings, grumble, grrr, whinge, grumble, sob, complain.)

I found time the other night after work. This is roughly what happened…

17:45 – Leaving work. Gonna make some socks. Gonna make some socks. Gonna make some socks. Gonna make some…

17:50 – … socks. Gonna make some socks. Gonna make some socks. Gonna make some socks. Gonna make some socks.

18:00 – Train is slow, train is slow. Oh CityRail have mercy, why is the train so slow?

18:15 – My leg hurts from so much impatient foot tapping.

19:00 – HOME! YEAH! PUMPED! YEAH! GO TEAM GO! Let’s do this! Gonna make some socks, gonna make some socks!

20:00 – So I’ve watched every video I can find on toe-up socks, read, re-read, and re-re-read the section on toe-up socks in my Vogue Ultimate Sock Book, and I have all my necessary bit and bobs. GO TEAM GO! Let’s really do this! Let’s make some socks!

20:15 – I’ve done my provisional cast-on. Now what?

20:45 – There’s an asterix! What the hell does the asterix mean?!

20:46 – It says to ‘WT’! What the hell does ‘WT’ mean?!

20:47 – Oh… okay. ‘WT’ is creating a wrapped stitch. I think I can do that…

20:48 – I wrapped a stitch!

20:49 – I wrapped another stitch! Go me! Yea-ohhhh no! No, no, no! I dropped it.

20:49:30 –  Wrapped it again! Hail me! Queen of the wraps!

20:55 – Now to work my wraps. I think I can do that…

21:05 – This looks wrong. Very, very wrong.

21:05:30 – I don’t think I’m wrapping the wrong side row properly. That must be it. I’ll look online.

21:20 – It’s all the book’s fault. They’ve only shown how to wrap and work on the right side rows. No wonder it looks funky. Hmm.

21:20:03 – Wait… Nooooooooooooo! That means I have to start again!!!!

22:00 – First toe done. Well, that was the most disheartening knitting experience of my life.

And so, I fell asleep marred by the fact it took me so long to ‘get’ working the short row toe. Really I should have just used Judy’s magic cast-on, but I knew that I was going to have to work a short row heel, so I figured I better get some practice in on the toes before I tried that.

The second toe was much easier and faster. I shouldn’t’ve been so hard on myself about it the first time. I know it’s cliched to say that you learn from your mistakes, but I really think that after messing up my toe the first time I understood it a lot better the second time I did it. I’m knitting a little bit of both of the socks so they get finished together. It also means that I’m really consolidating the action of wrapping and working wraps.
Here’s where I’m up to…

I must say, it’s a nice change making socks in 8ply instead of 4ply.

Once I’ve made these, I’m thinking about mixing it up a bit and making some with the heel and toe different colours from one another, or even coloured cuffs. I’m already planning the next few colour combinations using little bits of Estate 8ply from my stash. Here’s what I’ve got to choose from!

The main foot colour will be Greystone…

The premise, I suppose, is that you can wear socks that look plain and normal to others, but you secretly know that inside your shoe is a sensational colour party for your feet.

I’d love to make different contrast coloured ones for each day of the week and instarsia M, T, W, Th, F, Sa, S (or alternatively 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) onto the soles.
Ambitious, I know. We’ll see how this fares for the moment.

Have you ever made, or wanted to make socks? Are you a toe-up or a cuff-down kinda person?

Just a sporadic mess of everything and anything…

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There are so many things I have to show you! There’s a backlog of photos of new acquisitions, works in progress, finished objects… Should I do this show and tell chronologically? Probably, but I can’t remember the order in which I made them. I’ll just start.

Here’s an earflap hat I concocted for 107, although it’s now been sold.

I knitted the earflaps first, leaving them on stitch holders. Then I cast on the stitches for the front of the brim, knitted the live stitches from one earflap, cast on the stitches for the back, knitted the live stitches from the other earflap and then joined the round.
From there I constructed a basic sort of beanie. A lady at work recommended that when I pull the yarn tail at the top through the last live stitches I should do it twice. I must say it makes the top look a whole lot neater. I can’t believe I’d never considered it before – it seems so obvious now.
I single crocheted around the edge just to even it out a little, hide the holes where I joined in the flaps, and prevent curling. Afterwards I had a look at an earflap hat my grandmother made for me. Turns out she did the same to finish hers off as well. Great minds think alike.

These are some more cotton coasters for 107. The snowflake is loosely based on a motif from a new book I bought called ‘Beyond the Square: Crochet Motifs’ by Edie Eckman. Wisest purchase decision ever.

As a matter of fact, I’ve acquired some really wonderful books lately.

The ‘Simply Crochet’ is incredible. I’ve had problems with Debbie Bliss’s knitting patterns before (right side and wrong side row jumbled, one too many or too few stitches, errata galore…), and I must say that I haven’t actually made anything from this book yet, but I have a feeling that I’m going to have a great time making things from this one. It’s full of really lovely garments, including a stunning white vest, little lacy collars, and a glorious dress (the one on the cover, and the selling point for me because the pattern is called ‘Darcey’ – my name, minus the ‘e’). It’s a shame they are all so summery, but at least I have something to look forward to post-winter.

Then there are these two. Nicky Epstein’s ‘Block by Block’ is just – actually if I try to put this into words I might do it an injustice. It’s one of those books that people tell you is amazing, but you don’t really understand the full wealth of its amazingness until you open it. There’s just so much variety. Every technique you could imagine has been adapted for use in making 6 inch square upon 6 inch square. I can’t wait to make a whole blanket from these blocks. I have made one square square from this book as a present for my godmother. The pattern is called ‘Tree Breeze’ and features cables into the back loop – a tedious but effective process. I used Fibranatura’s sportweight organic cotton.

The book next to ‘Block by Block’ is a gem I found after trawling the shelves of Kinokuniya for hour a few weeks ago. The wonderful thing about Japanese crochet books is if you can read charts you can make anything from them. There are very, very rarely any written pattern instructions, and if there are, fortunately for me, I studied Japanese for a few years and can generally understand them. Anything I don’t understand, I have a mountain of dictionaries to make sense of it. I love the idea of crocheting around the edges of cards and things like that. This book has some really inspiring images of that application of crochet. It’s like an extension of these awesome creations by lutteridyl.

I’m hoping to use the cottons below for this purpose.

Moral: country wool shops are legendary.

Check out my haul! I got these goodies, for ridiculously low prices, from the wool shop in Katoomba. I’ve struggled to find Jigsaw sock yarn for ages. The bonus was finding it so cheap. The Sirdar Escape was an impulse buy. The lovely, vibrant indigo that lurks in the centre of the ball is what caused me to purposefully overlook the high percentage of acrylic. I don’t mean to be a yarn snob, but I know that at heart I am. I’m really sorry. I am however slightly amused by the terminology “Wool Rich”. Is that a subtle way of saying 2% more wool than acrylic? Sorry, sorry, sorry. Yarn snobbery alert. Sorry.

I’ve started a sock with one of the balls of Jigsaw in these rad ’70s colours. I’ll have to take extra precautions against SSS (second sock syndrome). I’ve suffered from SSS and SGS (second glove syndrome) repeatedly in the past. These are working up fairly quickly, so it shouldn’t be too much of problem…

Oh, and I found this little gem lurking in some drawers at work a couple of weeks ago.
A surefire way to use up all those loose scraps of 8ply in our stashes that we all know and love. I now know what I’m making everyone for Christmas this year!

On another note, the back of my Paton’s Classics vest is almost complete. I have a few rows before I start the short row shaping of the neck. I was pretty pleased with how I joined in the second ball. The join is about halfway down the back. It was tricky getting the variegation to match up. Instead of joining at the edges and burying my ends I tried a new method of braiding the end of the old ball around the end of the new one. Sneaky, sneaky. I’ll definitely be using that one again.

Lastly, this is a teacosy I made for Mothers’ Day. I used Noro Kureyon that I got off eBay a year ago before I was seriously into this whole knitting thing and probably before I even understood the awesome power of Noro. I started in the round, divided for the spout and handle, and joined again. I went through four balls to try and find the same part of the colourway to make both sides match. And to no avail. It’s not perfect, but I think it’s charming.

Teacosies are going in the 107 memory bank. Yesiree.

Thanks for looking at all my projects and whatnot. Have a wonderful day friends.

Completed cardigan and incomplete everything else…

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I finished the chevron cardigan! It’s taken me a while to actually upload the photos, but here it is in all its glory paired up with the dress it’s going to de-funeralise. It’s virtually unblocked here, as I have to take it on a long car journey before I have to wear it so I figure I’ll iron out all the wrinkles and uneveness when I get there.

After finishing it I had a little ‘well, what next?’ moment, which was totally uncalled for considering what I found in my project bag…

This is the basque, or beginnings of a basque, to a vest from the new Patons Classics book. There are so many great designs in the book, particularly a cabled aran-style cardigan that has a lovely silhouette… No! I mustn’t tempt myself!!

My grandmother has been teaching me how to dye yarns and this was my first effort. It was a bit of a crazy experiment but I’m really happy with the results. We used white Bluebell 5ply crepe and powder dyes. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of how it looks in the skein, but here is what it looks like in the ball…

With all that to do I surely don’t need another project, but that’s not the haphazard, prolific way I go about things!

So here’s a cabled scarf I’m making using Schoppel Wolle’s Cashmere Queen. It’s a cashmere, silk and merino blend. When I first felt it in the ball I thought it was nothing special, and certainly not worth the price, but when I felt a knitted sample I just knew I had to make something with it! The friction of knitting it causes it to fluff up and become incredibly downy and soft. This will probably be the most expensive scarf I’ll ever make, but it’s so worth it.

I have an 8 hour car journey tomorrow so I’m planning to finish it on the way as my destination it’s going to be brutally cold and windy! During the 8 hour return journey I’m hoping to finish the border of the ’70s hexagon blanket. I’m sure it’ll have the bonus of keeping me cosy on the way.

I’ve also started working on the Woodley-inspired granny square jumper, but I can’t for the life of me decide how I should join them. Here is an experiment where I’ve joined them as I’ve gone. It leaves a bit of a ridge which could be a design feature, but I’m afraid it’s just a tad too ridge-y for that. I may just whip stitch the whole thing together if I come to a conclusion that it is too ridge-y, although that will use up a lot more wool (and time!) I think some more experimenting; I need to find a way that joins as you go, lies flatter and uses up less yarn than whip stitching.

And that’s all not to mention the still in-progress blankets and a newly begun Kaffe Fassett-inspired fair-isle scarf for 107. Phew! I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me. Lucky I have this car journey tomorrow to get some done…

I wish I could resolve to not start anything new until I finish all of these projects, but I know I’ll just break the promise to myself and feel bad, and so I’ll buy wool to make me feel better and that will cause me to start a new project only fulfilling the cycle. So yeah, we’ll see how the car journey goes…

Crocheted Collar-related experimentation

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I hope you all had/are having (depending on where you are in the world!) a lovely Good Friday. I spent mine experimenting with crocheted detachable collars…

The first one I made using a pattern from Mel P Designs. I used Morris’ Empire 4ply superwash merino (the same as what my Plumage gloves are made from). It’s so very soft and shouldn’t irritate the skin as it has almost no halo to it. It almost looks cottony.

I was really happy with the way it turned out, although I did do some tweaking. The original doesn’t have the scalloped edge. I got the idea for that particular edging from this crochet collar pattern by iro iro. I thought it was an adorable addition and that it was a bit more my cousin’s style as this collar is for her.

I also made one of iro iro’s crochet collars in some Morris’ Estate 8ply. It’s a little scratchier than the merino, but this collar sits lower and so will make less contact with one’s neck. I decided to use a hook and eye closure at the back instead of a snap closure. I’m much more a fan of peter pan collars, but I still love this round collar to bits.

Here’s a close-up of the edging. It’s very sweet and I’m certain I’ll use it on many projects to come.

This collar is to be gifted to a friend first thing tomorrow.

Because neither of these collars are my own design, they’re not something I could sell at 107. However, I was thinking that the chevron cardigan that inspired this whole crocheted collar idea could be augmented and downsized and crocheted in white to make a kind of yoke/collar too. I love the peter pan collar too much to do away with the idea of making them for 107, so I’ll probably do some more fiddling around until I come up with my own pattern.

So with a bit more experimenting, I’m sure I’ll have a few different collars that I can sell. Maybe I could make a few basic collars, similar to Mel P Designs’, and use different edgings on each…? Scallops? Picots? Miniature flowers? Beading? I’ll get back to you on that one.

But for now, I just wanted to leave you with some photos I quickly took of a granny square blanket I recently inherited.

It was made either by my grandmother, or my great-grandmother (we’re not entirely sure) and it’s quite incredible. It’s 16 by 21 squares, plus each square is bordered by two rows of single crochet. I’m guessing it’s done in 4 ply with a 3.5mm hook though the squares on the edge are all done with a smaller hook and have an extra row. Imagine all that work! Imagine weaving in all those ends! No, I can’t imagine it either; it’s just too incredible.

Unfortunately the blanket needs a little repair. Some of the holes are quite superficial – for example, where the slip stitch join at the end of a round has come undone and needs rejoining.

But some of the holes are quite big.

I’m hoping I’ll find the time to give it a once over and fix up any holes. The really big ones will need a bit of planning before I attempt any drastic surgery.

In the next few days I’ll take some photos to show you how immense and glorious the blanket really is. Oh, and I just have the front bands left to do of the chevron cardigan. So excited to finish!

Some stuff and some things

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Today I finished the first of the gloves I was making for work! Hurrah! I’m so happy with it. It is so warm and toasty – such a shame about the non-glove-friendly, hot and humid weather we’re having at the moment.

(Please excuse the awkward angle; it’s very difficult to take a photo of your own hand.)

Tomorrow I’ll definitely scrounge around for some 4ply in my stash that I can use to make a pair for 107 (and possibly a pair for myself…) Perhaps some Crazy Zauberball, or some other sock yarn. I’m sure I have some lying around waiting to be put to good use.

In other news, the Noro ripple stitch blanket is growing steadily.

It’s rather thick and getting to the stage where it’s a bit too unmanageable to crochet during the bus ride to work each morning. It’s a good night time project because it’s quite an easy, mindless pattern. In the photo you can see the last little mangled bit of the first ball of Taiyo. The Taiyo is like the limiting reagent (ugh, Chemistry analogy). The size of the blanket only really depends on how much Taiyo I have left because it’s discontinued, where as I have abundant access to the gray and black. Yadda, yadda, yadda, therefore as I have three balls, the blanket will come out about three times the size of what you see here.

Noro-wise, I’ve decided to make a crochet chevron lace cardigan. My cousin’s wedding is coming up and the dress I want to wear is too… how should I put it…? Funeral-ly. So I spent (a bit less than) the money I would have spent on a new dress on some Noro Silk Garden to make a colourful, autumnal cardigan to brighten it up. The wedding is also somewhere quite cold so it will be good to have an extra layer, though I’ll probably only make the cardigan cap-sleeved.

Here is what I’ve done of the yoke so far:

I like that it’s asymmetrical. It’s just that bit more interesting. And practical. You’ve got to love a project with no seams!

It’s a different cousin’s birthday coming up and I was having trouble thinking of a gift to make her. Trying the yoke on for size, I had a sudden burst of brainspiration; crochet collars! I’ve been doing a little research into some patterns and found heaps of ideas. Ideally, I’d want it to be a peter-pan collar, but although many patterns I’ve seen are completely gorgeous, none are quite right for her. My favourite so far is by Mel P Designs. I’ll do some experimenting tomorrow. And who knows? If I come up with a pattern myself it could be yet another item for 107.

Guh, so many ideas, so little time.

Surprise delivery!

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This morning I was hoping for a decent sleep in, but to no avail. I was raised from my slumber by an irritatingly loud knock at my front door, and the subsequent over-enthusiastic barking of my dog. I prepared myself to unleash my wrath upon the perpetrator, but there was no one there. Then I looked at the front step. Yes, friends. I couldn’t believe it, but there lay the most beautiful cardboard box I’ve ever had the privilege to lay eyes upon.

I couldn’t believe it had arrived so quickly, but there it was; my order from Abundant Yarn. Dare I open it? Today was my last full day to finish off my little bits and bobs for the 107 opening and I knew that if I did open it I would succumb to the temptation of starting a new project and thus forget about what I was supposed to be doing.

So I opened it.

And there lay a handwritten note and the sweetest little stitch markers I ever did saw! Oh gosh! How my heart sang. That was just to kind of the nice people at Abundant Yarn. And how did they know that I was running low on stitch markers, hmm? It must be some kind of crafty telepathy…

Underneath that lovely surprise was this:

Noro Retro. I must admit, this was an impulse buy. I was going through their stash sale yarn and I couldn’t resist. It’s an angora, wool and silk blend, and the colours were just so dazzling! I’m not sure what I’ll make with it, but I just knew that I had to have it.

Then, underneath that was this:

Another two balls of Noro Retro, and a couple of balls of Cascade 220. Less visually exciting, I know, but that was just preparing me for what I knew was coming…

Because underneath that was this:

Ahhhhhhh!! So much colour! Oh, Cascade 220, you do not disappoint! I was unsure as I’ve heard mixed reviews about you, but I don’t care anymore! Why? Because you’re mine!

I’d planning to make a granny square jumper not dissimilar to Olivia’s from the ABC1 TV show ‘Woodley’. The only thing stopping me was not having the wool for it.

(The gorgeous images above belong to the ABC, and no harm is meant by my using them here. If anything, I’m just singing the praises of the costume department!)

I was taken by this jumper a few weeks ago when I first saw the episode. Promptly afterward, a number of people asked me if I’d a. seen the episode, and b. was planning on making something similar. As you can guess, my answers were both resounding yeses.

Determined not to be swept away with the joyful prospect of making a jumper like dear little Olivia’s, I forced myself to finish the granny handbag I’ve mentioned before. It was a struggle to stay focused (granny square jumper, ahhh!!!), but I somehow managed it.

And the reverse side…

I’ve also finished the crocheted scarf. It’s not the 16 squares I had planned, but after blocking it at 12 squares long it gained a fair bit of length so I decided to stop. It’s long enough to wrap around twice with plenty of scarf left, which is probably the most you’d need from a scarf. I couldn’t find anywhere appropriate to drape it, so I artfully shaped it into an ‘m’ to photograph it. (Subtle, shameless self-promotion.) I’ll have to find someone to model it for me because it looks ten-fold better when it’s on.

And that’s about all I have to show for today’s efforts. I’ll admit, I did procrastinate finishing the bag and scarf. I wouldn’t be a true crazy yarn-lady if I didn’t as least frolick a little with my new additions to my stash…