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

Practically perfect in every way!

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But not really. I did fudge this project a little, but these newly made alpaca gloves are perfect in a practical sense.

I’ve had two balls of Eki Riva Casual alpaca 8ply lurking in my stash for… oh, quite a while now. Let’s make it… five months? Yeah, so I forgot about making myself some gloves. We had an unusually cold summer this year. And by unusually cold summer, I mean it’s just about been autumn since January. At least that’s how it feels to me. I get cold so easily!

Obviously five months ago my need for gloves wasn’t imperative because I put the project off for so long. But now as I can barely feel my fingers as I type, despite having the gas heater on and periodically warming my hands using the steaming mug of tea before me, my need for gloves has become oh-so-great. Which is useful, because I’ve made the gloves now. And I have the option of going to find them and put them on. An option which I wouldn’t’ve had if I hadn’t made them last week. So there you go.

Behold, a glove!

Here’s why they are so practical:
They are ribbed the whole way over the fingers and left open, cast off with Jeny’s suprisingly stretchy bind-off.
Which is rad, because then you can do this:

Hello! I spy me some fingers ready to type, knit, or just generally demonstrate their dexterity! Perfect! Actually, again, not really. In this photo I just did a loose knitted bind off, but I changed it afterwards. And feeling a little defeated, I couldn’t be bothered to take another photo. Sorry for letting you believe until now that I had boundless enthusiasm for my craft!

The reason I say I fudged these is because the thumb gusset on the second glove is a little (read: very) skewy. And it’s my fault entirely.
Settle into your chair, dear reader, for I will tell you why.

I went to see ‘The Woman in Black’, and I, thinking that I’m some kind of knitting deity, decided it would be a good, even great, idea to knit in the darkness of the cinema. Hollllllly moly! Boy, was constructing that thumb gusset hard! Not just hard: stupid. There was one really startling jump (it was a film of the horror/thriller variety) where I dropped a stitch. Not just any stitch, but one that originated from a m1 about five rows earlier. I guess it was a good thing because that meant it didn’t unravel past the point of the stitch’s creation. The infuriating thing about it was that even though I knew exactly how to re-m1 and fix the stitch, I couldn’t. Because it was almost pitch black. Damn.

My main issue with the film was that it was archetypical of the Gothic genre. Not because I dislike the Gothic genre, but because almost every scene was dingy or grey, or raining, or night time, or in a swampy marsh, or anywhere that its inhabitants don’t receive their proper daily dose of Vitamin D. I waited impatiently for scenes where the characters finally ventured into daylight where the brief glow of the cinema screen would aid me in picking up my dropped stitch. But to no avail. And I had to just stop, put the glove down very carefully, and relax.

I managed to fix it on the train on the way home, in proper light, in less than a minute.

Like I said, it was my own silly fault. I’ll probably do it again anyway.

In other news, I started my first square for Emily Wessel’s POP Blanket today. I was off work and sick in bed and wanted something exciting to do. I had heaps of Noro Kureyon left over from the Mothers’ Day tea cosy and wanted to use it up. Unfortunately, just as I got up to making the white border around my circle, I realised that the white Cascade 220 I’d planned to use wasn’t there. I’d moved it to my studio space for storage in anticipation of the fact I wouldn’t start a POP blanket for another few weeks. (I’d been trying to retrain myself from startingyet another blanket.) It did give me time to properly think about the border though, and now I’m considering using Morris Norway 10ply in white instead because it’s super cost effective and works well for homewares. So now all I’ve got is a derpy kind of circle waiting for a border until I’m well enough to go out and buy wool. I didn’t take a photo because it really does look a little bit pathetic on its lonesome.

As soon as I can, I will venture out, buy the wool, finish the border, and show you a photo.

STOLEN

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Yarn fever, wool madness, call it what you will. Whatever you call it, it has struck a large number of the customers at my work as we’ve begun our Winter Sale. Scrambling for sale packs, psyching others out of buying things they want for themselves, reserving whole dyelots, buying out every needle tip in a particular size… This, I don’t really mind. At least they’re going to make something with what they buy. They can call it their and do with it what they like. What I do mind, is people who steal from other crafty people. This I find hugely offensive. It’s happened to friends and people at work, and even some customers tell me horror stories of nasty people who steal or take credit for someone else’s projects. Never before has it happened to me. Until this week.

Remember those gloves I made for our smaller store? When I caught the bus to work a few days ago I went past the smaller store and saw that they were no longer in the window display. I figured they might have been moved somewhere else in the store. The odd thing was that the mannequin hands were still in the window, completely bare. When I got to work, a colleague told me that they’d been stolen. She gushed about how it was so unfortunate, and how people can be really horrible sometimes. At first I couldn’t believe what she was saying. I was too busy thinking about how nice it was that someone really liked my gloves.

Then it dawned on me that they mustn’t’ve liked them enough to buy them. And that kind of hurt. Don’t they realise how long it takes to make a pair of gloves like that? Or maybe they did, and couldn’t afford them. And that made me feel a bit guilty that I was angry. Whatever the case, it left me with a strange feeling – a mix of anger and flattery.

The angry part of me made this:

But the flattered part of me only thought about how this was only supporting evidence that gloves would probably sell really well at 107.
So, gloves ahoy; let’s make another pair. I guess that’s all I can do, right? (The angry part of me wants you to read that last sentence as being laden with resentment. You can choose to ignore it if you want to.)

On a happier note, I can’t wait to show you my sale haul! I got some great sale bags wool to make blankets, and some more sale bags of white cashmere-merino blend to dye. I’m thinking about trying out some natural dyeing with a friend from work.

Has anyone ever tried natural dyeing? Any tips anyone?

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.

Plumage, blankets and cats

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I work for a wool company. I flit between two stores; one large city store, and a small boutique-y store in the suburbs. This may seem an ideal situation, but honestly, I think I spend more there than I earn. The temptation is far too great when you’re faced with this sort of thing at every turn…

So, yesterday at the smaller store I was tasked with making a pair of finger-tipless gloves for display in our store. Hooray! Gloves! I do gloves. No problem. So I went over to the 8ply merino to pick out a colour but the owner already had a wool in mind. I was a little disappointed that she’d picked out a 4ply, because I knew for certain that I wouldn’t finish the gloves, let alone the first one, during my shift. But what disappointed me more was the colour she’d chosen.

This colour is known fondly as Plumage (or as Plum-AHHge, when you awkwardly think that the name is some French derivative and embarrass yourself in front of the owner’s daughter.) To be brutally and unnecessarily honest, I found this colour to be repulsive. Whenever customers have bought it and extolled the virtues of its transcendent beauty I’ve just politely nodded or replied with something probably quite unconvincing like ‘oh, rather!’ or ‘indeed, it is gorgeous!’

But no longer! For after a few false starts, gauge issues, needle tip changes etc. etc. I began knitting. And with every row and every new bit of variegated patterning, Plumage began to grow on me. Now, I’m not sure if it’s because I’m unbearably attached to any sample I make. This is often the case when I have to knit a one ball sample of any new yarns for the store as I become obsessed with that particular yarn and making sure the sample is always neatly visible on the shelf. But somehow, by some kind of bonding ritual, I realised I’m no longer repulsed by Plumage. Hooray!

This is my little work station behind the counter. I don’t think one could ask for a better view, particularly not at work. I don’t have this kind of luxury so much at the city store which is just as busy and bustling with people as the world outside it. We don’t have time to knit or even sit down there, so yesterday was a kind of lovely respite. Don’t get me wrong, I love the dynamic of the city store. It’s just that this is a nice way to cap off the working week. It was unusually busy at the smaller store yesterday though, so I didn’t get a huge amount of the glove done. However, I did take a few happy snaps of the glove in progress to show you.

For some reason, even looking back at these photos the Plumage doesn’t look nearly as gaudy to me as it did yesterday. I’d always found it a little too variegated. A little too overwhelming. Maybe it’s just that I’m making a smaller garment so it’s less of a sea of splotches.
Anyway, the whole exercise has got me thinking about making some supersoft merino gloves for 107. I made the pattern up as I went so I have yet to see if the gloves are well-designed enough to sell. But yesterday was useful as it means that I don’t have to go and do all the research again to make a glove pattern for 107. There are plenty of colours to choose from in that particular 4ply, and I believe we’re getting some new greens in that range very soon as well. I’ll put this on the to do list.

I seized the opportunity during my break to take some photos of a crochet ripple blanket I started for 107 a few days ago.

I found the last three balls of a discontinued Noro Taiyo yarn at the city store and had to snap them up. Despite the balls being 100g, there was still not quite enough for the blanket I has in mind, so I supplemented it with some grey and black wool. I wanted to let the Taiyo’s unusual combination of salmony pinks, lime greens and a kind of kelly green colour stand out so I decided not to introduce any other colours.

I estimate that I have enough to make it fairly blanket-y. The width is about 1m and I’m hoping I have enough for a length of 2m. If all else fails, I can go around the edge in black a few times. Or just call it a rug rather than a blanket.

I know that Noro isn’t the most economical yarn to work with, but the results are always gorgeous. And how is one supposed to resist displays like this?

I have a couple of balls of Noro Kureyon I bought online last year somewhere, so maybe I should use that up before I buy any more. I’m not sure I have enough for a blanket though, so I’ll have to find a particularly special and worthy pattern to make with it. I love how the ripple stitch shows off the Noro, so perhaps a scarf is in order…?

Speaking of indecision, I’m also trying to decide what to do with this…

It’s a really awkward ply to work with. It’s marketed as an 8ply at work but it’s really a 6, or rather, marketed as a DK but more like a sport weight. Awkward. But in all honesty, I can’t decide for the life of me what to make with it! I was thinking of a scarf because there’s enough for it in a single ball, but then actually knitting it would be very time consuming. So crochet would be another option (ripple stitch anyone?), but that eats up so much more yarn than knitting. The current plan is to knit a man’s tie with it, but I’ll have to come up with a pattern first. I really want to do this wool justice because it is just so wonderful. Ideas, anyone?

Now, I would be correctly making my debut into craft blogging unless I posted a picture of a cat or dog and told you a pointless yet adorable anecdote about it. So, meet Puska, the wool store’s resident cat. As you can probably tell by the photo, Puska likes grazing her head against things. I was told it’s because she has a toothache and it relieves the pain.

So anyway, I’d assembled the two pairs of circular needles I thought I’d need for the gloves I was making. I placed the the ones for later underneath the ripple blanket so they wouldn’t go missing. I knitted the ribbing and went on to change needles for the hand but couldn’t find the other pair. I searched high and low all around the desk, in the blanket, on the floor. Several customers had come and gone in that time, but one stuck in my mind as being a bit, well, dodgy. She’d rifled through the things on the desk inspecting them all, and there was one point where I’d bent down to get a bag in which time she’d probably had the chance to nick the needles.

Great. I felt violated and a little defeated. I’d been so nice and helpful to her and she stolen my knitting needles! I desperately didn’t want to believe a customer was capable of doing something like that. I mean, I’ve always been told by the other people at work that shrinkage is a part of the business and that things get taken all the time. But I never thought that it could happen almost right in front of my eyes.

So I decided to assemble a new pair, the last pair, of 3mm needle tips onto a new cable. As soon as I was ready to transfer the ribbing onto them Puska came up to me, meowing for attention. She proceeded to do her usual thing of grazing her head against everything in sight. She moved from slightly pointy object to slightly pointy object until she found the holy grail of face massagers. When the dodgy customer was rifling through the stuff on the counter she must have knocked the needles off, because here was Puska rubbing her head against them as they were tangled in the computer cords near my feet.

Thanks Puska, my helpful feline friend. You go girl.

Last of all, I just wanted to share with you a photo of the splendid old bench we have in the store. It must be from an old cinema as the row number is marked on the wooden base and the chairs flip upwards if not weighted down. Many a disgruntled boyfriend/husband has sat on it waiting for is girlfriend/wife to finish choosing her wool.

Don’t you just think the smiling dolphin cushion is the greatest cushion in existence?