Catching up

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Over the last year, as you can imagine, I’ve done a hell of a lot of knitting. And for once, the things I was making felt practical and necessary.
I effectively had three winters in a row, leaving for Europe in November last year. Though it was only for five weeks, I knew the cold would be like nothing I’d ever experienced:

I owned but one (short-sleeved) thermal undershirt.
I hadn’t seen snow.
I’d never felt a winter cooler than 5 degrees Celsius.

So I got knitting.

When I first saw the Dimorphous Mittens pattern, months before we left, I knew that I had to make them. And because the mitten flaps are seperable from the inner gloves, I meant that I could still use them during Sydney’s comparatively mild winters.

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I originally chose little adorable cow buttons, but they were too pointy and tricky to get in and out of the button loops using mitten-clad fingers. You can find the Ravelry page here.

I also made two scarves. The crocheted Noro one I didn’t end up taking. The orange one I made to a different pattern, didn’t finish, took it overseas, hated it, frogged it, came back to Australia, and made the one here instead.

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Obligatory Ravelry page links: here and here!

Here’s an awkward photo of this actually quite lovely beanie I made. It is almost impossible to get a good photo of one’s own hat-adorned head!

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Here’s the Ravelry page for the pattern and my project, sans pom-pom.

While I was in Edinburgh, I knew I wanted to visit as many wool shops as possible and get some Shetland wool while I was at it. By far my favourite one was Kathy’s Knits. Kathy was so lovely and helpful, letting me take my own sweet time browsing through her shelves and helping me with anything I needed. I settled on this book and making this lovely tam.

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Apologies for the shocking photography. As aforementioned, it’s is immensely difficult to take a decent photo of such things.

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Through making this tam I learnt a neat little bind-off that is invisible. The tam is worked top-down (first time experience for me, as the holey centre indicates!) and you cast off at the ribbing invisibly using a strange sort of slip-stitch set up and kitchener stitch finish. Tricky at first, but way cool. Definitely using it for my next pair of toe-up socks. I’ll attempt a tutorial one of these days; it’s just that perfect.

I lucked out with this project. Not that I finished it overseas, but I did manage to get it onto my flight from Edinburgh to Amsterdam and knit quite a few rows. Having started it on 2mm dpns I bought from Kathy, I somehow managed to have the matching circs in my luggage and when it got bigger I was able to magic loop it and then work in a full round. Usually with something this fiddly and fair-isle-y I would suffer endlessly, but this tam was surprisingly easygoing. Obligatory Ravelry page link!

Yadda yadda. I’m sure I’ve inundated and overwhelmed you by now.

Until next time! x

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.

Blogger Awards: Installment #2

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Rainbow Junkie nominated me a little while ago for the Versatile Blogger Award. I’m really grateful. Even though I haven’t been blogging for all that long, it was really lovely to have someone come let me know they like what I’m doing. So thank you! I appreciate it.

People who are nominated are requested to do five things. They must:

  • Thank the person who gave them the award
  • Include a link to their blog – (which I have, here it is again!)
  • Tell seven things about themselves
  • Nominate 15 other blogs for the award (I couldn’t manage fifteen; I hope thirteen is okay.)
  • Tell them that they have been nominated

Now for seven ‘things’ about yours truly:

  1. I’m currently on a gap-year between high-school and university. I’ve taken the time off to work, be crafty, and later in the year, travel. It’s not turning out to be as relaxing as I had hoped, but I’m convinced that it was way better than jumping straight back into studying full-time. I’m enjoying myself.
  2. I know it’s becoming a ‘thing’ to be a tea drinker (and I kinda wanna say something along the lines of ‘I liked it before it was cool’, but I won’t…), but I can safely say that I doubt you know anyone who can pack away as much tea in a day as me. Actually, maybe not. I’ve noticed a lot of craft bloggers and suchlike are massive tea-fiends. Scratch all of that. I’m going to change this ‘thing’ to “I’m a massive tea-fiend” and leave it at that. I don’t want to start any arguments or tea-drinking competitions. Someone might get hurt.
  3. My most favourite part about working at the wool store is when we make little handwritten ‘With Compliments’ slips to send along with orders from our online store.
  4. Before knitting and crochet, for me, there was origami. My Nicky Epstein was Tomoko Fuse. My Elizabeth Zimmerman was Kunihiko Kasahara.
    My obsession started when I was about 9 when my friend Liam was making all these awesome modular shapes out of paper. I was so jealous of the way he could manipulate the 2D paper with his hands to create fantastic and intricate 3D models. That was it, I had to do it too.
    I haven’t made anything in ages, but here are some photos I found of things I made in early high-school.
  5. I have a very keen visual-spatial sense. It probably came about from doing all that origami. I can knit and crochet in my head. It’s kind of like I can create a 3D model that I can rotate in my mind. It’s great for problem solving issues with certain stitches, or for working out how to make stitch patterns or decreases perfectly symmetrical. My ability to problem solve only improves when I have the needles in my hands.
  6. I cry when I hear the theme to the ‘Babar’ TV show.
  7. Most of the time I’m wearing at least two pairs of socks. This is mainly because my feet are so narrow that very few pairs of shoes fit me properly. This has been the bane of my existence ever since I had to buy my very first pair of school shoes. Now, if I find a pair of shoes that fit comfortably, I buy a pair in two different colours because it’s such a rarity.

Okay, so those are my things about myself. Now for the less self-indulgent – and more fun – part of things. In no particular order, here are my rad and Versatile peeps!

Coffee and Lilacs

Not Your Average Crochet

SpiderWomanKnits

Obey Crochet

Say Yes to Hoboken

TECHknitting

Crochet made by Kate

knittingformentalhealth

Versatile Blogger Award

caroline d. h.

Knittybutton

Volkstricken Industries

Posie Gets Cozy

I can’t prove that I’ve gone and notified these people, but you can always check up on me to make sure.
But how?
I hear you ask.
By visiting their blog of course! ;)

Installment #1 can be found here.

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.

Blogger Awards: Installment #1

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It occurred to me that I don’t follow nearly enough blogs. I mean, I follow a few. But when I was nominated for the Liebster and the Versatile Blogger Awards recently, I realised that I couldn’t possibly drum up the required list of blogs I wanted to nominate.
So I figured I could take the easy route and nominate the list for both awards at the same time. But the problem arose when I realised that I only follow a handful of blogs that I could nominate that have fewer than 200 followers (a requirement for the Liebster Award).

So began trawling the internet for blogs that caught my eye and went on a following spree. This was great because I’ve been really quite sick for the last week and haven’t been able to do very much at all. I’ve hardly even had the energy to knit or crochet, shock horror! So it was nice to go around and find some new and inspiring crafty people.

I’m going to split this into two posts. The first will be about the Liebster Award. The second one will be about the Versatile Award which will give me a bit more time to find 15 blogs and decide on the seven fun facts I want to disclose which might take me a little while to compose.

Dara from Coffee & Lilacs nominated me for the Liebster Blogger Award.
She’s rad. She’s reconstructed an old, well-loved Babar toy using the miraculous art of crochet. (That’s close to my heart; my eyes still well up with tears whenever I hear the Babar tv show theme.) She’s made the loveliest collection of crafty Easter goodies. And she leaves the nicest comments. Aaaagh! If only I could renominate her, but I suppose this little spiel is as close as I can get to that.

She explained in her post that I needed to post the award badge and some flowers. So, here’s the badge.

Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of flowers that are my own (except for some ridiculous ones of myself in a head-wreath at a Mexican Day of the Dead/Frida Kahlo themed party). Just imagine the flowers. Some really lovely, pretty scented flowers. Your favourite kind. Better than any other bouquet you’ve ever set eyes upon. Yes. That’s it.

My 3 lovely nominees are…

Emma from Gingerknitters! What a beautiful blog, my dear crafty friends. Selected highlights include these knitted mochimochi cascarones for Easter, those knitted herringbone fingerless gloves, and the envy I felt when reading this. Go, go, go! Read this blog.

‘Craftlyn’ from Craftaceous Period! She’s genuinely doing a granny a day. And these are some of the most visually delicious grannys I’ve ever visually feasted upon. Now I want to do a granny a day, but I’m fairly sure I don’t have the patience. Also because I get so easily distracted and have so many projects going on. I really, really admire her focus. Oh, and  her wit. She makes very honest and often very funny comments with each of her granny posts. Excuse me, friends. I’m gushing and I shall move on now.

Crochetlatte! So many gorgeous, delectable free patterns! So many gorgeous, delectable photos! So much gorgeousness and delectability all ’round. The blog’s subtitle states that the patterns are ‘quality’. I can verify this remark. (If you’re interested, Crochetlatte, I don’t mind doing some kind of endorsement.)

I’m not sure how many followers each of these blogs has and whether that makes them ineligible, but who cares! They all deserve a heap of praise and I hope you’ll take the time to check them out.

Three excuses

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So, I’ve been absent for a bit, but ne’er fear, because today is a Public Holiday so I’m obliged not to do anything related to work, or outside the house in general.

Here are my reasons for being absent, accompanied by some pictures for added interest.

The first is, as I mentioned previously, I went on a road trip to the city of Armidale. It was my cousin’s wedding, which was glorious. It was outside, underneath an enormous old tree, and the autumn leaves were falling during the ceremony. The chevron cardigan was a great success; the orange and pink matched the colour scheme of the flowers, bridesmaids’ dresses, macaroons at the afternoon tea, the strawberry punch, and the sunset that evening too. And I had no idea that that was going to happen when I chose the colour. It was like the universe was saying, ‘Yeah! Go cardigan, go! Excellent choice of Noro. I approve entirely.’ Or maybe not.

The second is that when we got back I isolated myself from the world to do a three day stash tidy.
The bulk of it is in this large wooden chest that my father restored many, many years ago. It houses all my 8 ply, separated into bags of same type, or similar texture/purpose/project usability.

Oh wow! I only just realised that the cat I painted onto my window actually looks as if it is sitting on top of my sewing box!

Anyway, the suitcases hold my other yarns, organised by ply. The big grey-blue one on the left is just sock yarn. Looking at it now, it’s not as bad as I thought, although maybe that’s just me trying to justify buying more… Mind you, I did return some wool to work after I went through all of it, as I couldn’t fit all the 8ply into the chest. Is it bad that I’m hoping that says less about me and more about the size of the chest?

The two sewing boxes house my accessories. There’s a whole story behind the smaller one…

I saw it at work and told my boss that I would love to have it, but he told me that it was on hold for another lady. Apparently we didn’t know that we even had one to sell – we haven’t stocked them for ages – but when he visited our store in Melbourne it was just sitting there. So he brought it back and this customer snapped it right up. Well, almost. She never actually came to collect it, and so because I had dibs on it I assumed it was going to be mine.
One day I came into work and it wasn’t in the hold area. One of the other ladies at work had moved it aside and laid claim to it after seeing that it had been on hold for longer than it should have. We were working on the same floor for most of the day, and spent a bit of time trying to, albeit affectionately, psych each other out of buying it.

I don’t remember how or why, but I got to buy it. I do remember jumping up and down and making vaguely animalistic noises when I put my credit card PIN in the machine.

The larger sewing box was, and still technically is my mother’s. But she never uses it. It’s home to all my knitting needles and crochet hooks.

Here are most of my crochet hooks; the inactive ones not working on projects. Most of these belonged to my father’s mother and her mother. I’ll never really need most of these, but it’s good having them all organised in one place so I can see what I do have and will use.

One of my favourite hooks is this Tunisian crochet hook my mother’s mother made for me last Christmas. I love the gumnut stopper at the end.

That’s not all of the organisation. I found that I needed some extra shelf space to house the last few little bits of yarn, my brooch-making things, and my knitting and crochet books and magazines.

In the blue set of drawers are all my smallest scraps of yarn and crochet cotton organised by colour. My favourite is the blue/green drawer. I’m considering making a mix-and-match sort of lacy shawl for 107 with its contents.

Please note that in none of the other pictures have I shown you any of my actual stash. Why? Because I have appallingly too much yarn. Three days, folks. It took three whole days of my life. And nor have I shown, nor ever will I show you a before picture.

The third excuse is not all that exciting. Actually, it is. It really is. It’s the greatest ever.

This is Timshel. He turned up at the my work’s smaller store. He wasn’t microchipped and even after much searching we couldn’t find his owner.  So, I took him in. He likes windowsills, woollen jumpers and standing in the way. He still treats me a bit as if I’m out to steal his food or attack him, kind of like one of those distrusting, angsty street kids that gets adopted in feel-good Hollywood movies. But he’s relaxed a lot, as this photo kind of indicates…

So that’s where I’ve been.

Just before I finish up, I wanted to mention that Dara of Coffee and Lilacs nominated me for the Liebster Blog award and I can’t thank her enough. I was going to do my post and nominations today, but I wanted to think about who I was going to nominate a little more thoroughly than I have already. In the meantime, thank you Dara. I really appreciate your lovely comments.

Over and out.

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…