Busyness!

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This year has already been so busy, so apologies for the hiatus in posting…

I went fishing with friends and caught 3 baby bream. None were of legal size, so much to everyone’s disgust I kissed them, and tossed them back.

I got a part time nannying gig for toddler twins. Their naps have been prime opportunities for some lovely, restful puff-knitting. All I’ve been making is hexipuff after hexipuff, finally breaking the 1/4-way mark. Woohoo!

I celebrated 18 months with my man-half and ate until we wanted to die. And then had dessert.

The last 12 days have been tremendously full.

Regarding developments in my knitting: I decided that I no longer like the way I was laying out my quilt, so I undid everything I’d joined (sigh). I think I want all the puffs to face the same direction now, but I have zero clue as to how I want to place the colours. If you’ve any ideas, please let me know! You can see the palette so far over here.

Also, I’ll be away for the next while, out in open waters and then in the mountains. I’ll inundate you with posts after that, no doubt. But expect more silence on my end until February begins.

Sorry this post is a bit crap and a bit ‘I, I, I, me, me, me!’; I just felt I hadn’t posted in a while and should offer something up to the blog-gods.

Here’s some photos of my dog frolicking at the beach to make up for it.

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Cheerio for now, friend. x

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Fractious Fair Isle Friday #1

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In the hope of getting some more regularity and structure into my posting, I’ve had the genius idea of coining this Friday, and every subsequent Friday until I goshdarn finish this goshdarn sweater, as ‘Fractious Fair Isle Friday’.

‘What sweater?’ you might ask.

‘This sweater!’ I will respond.

‘But why would you even subject yourself to making that?’ you might ask.

‘I don’t even know.’ I will respond.

Actually, it’s ’cause a friend at work and I are making “matching twinsy sweaters” using this pattern from the Debbie Bliss F/W 2011 magazine. There were many weeks of very important deliberation before I could begin; 4 ply or 8 ply? And which colours? And I can’t get any Rialto! Will I use Empire instead? Oh, the life-changing decisions! What ever will I do?! (You know, solving problems like that.) I finally decided on dark green in Empire 4ply for the body, defying DB’s whole theme of “ebony, ivory, and all notes in between”. Rebellious, I know.
Also, I mixed it up a little for the contrast colour. I’m using two colours instead of just white. The bulk of the contrast will be in “seascape twist”, which is a kind of soft grey with a single strand of baby blue spun in. The snowflakes across the bust will be in off-white, just to break up the really dense band of hearts above it.
I’m not sure if my colleague’s decided on her colours yet. It is a hard decision.

I completed my gauge swatch three days ago, with much difficulty. The first two balls of dark green I started to use were overspun and too thin. Fortunately I’d bought all the wool beforehand and the third ball I unraveled was the charm. So I did get the swatch done. My tension was spot on too, so things were looking up.

The next day I was hoping to exchange the faulty wool after work, but the first customer of the day bought every last ball. I nearly cried.
Fortunately she came back later in the day and returned it as she decided she’d prefer something else. I nearly cried again, only this time it was from sheer jubilation.

Here’s the progress I’ve made over the last two days.

I swear that DB has some weird sizing Juju going on. I’m making the smallest size, but the ribbing is about an inch and a half bigger than what I would expect for a small hip size. My tension is right, so I suppose it’s just how it’s meant to be. I can’t find a Ravelry page for it to double check so I’m hoping at all works out. I don’t really mind it being a little loose.

I won’t go into how many times I’ve had to rip back and fix mistakes. I keep reading the chart in the wrong direction. It’s so difficult to refrain from ragequitting.

Aside from that, isn’t this suitcase perfect for holding this project?! A little sleeve for my pattern, a perfect size for all the wool. It’s really light too, which means I can carry it around with me. I bought it today from a super nice couple I met through eBay. I bought two luggage trunks from them yesterday. I walked to their place to collect them, and not only did they drop both me and the trunks home, but they offered to come around to my place today and let me have first pick of all the new suitcases they’d acquired before they photographed and listed them. Result!

We laid them all out on the kerb, with the husband remarking how much it must’ve looked like we were doing some kind of dodgy deal, and I went through all of them. I ended up with 8 suitcases of various sizes. Some were old Globite school cases – exactly what I need for transporting and storing all my projects on the go. The others were more trunk-sized – perfect for storing my ever-expanding stash.

I’m really curious as to how other people store their stash. How do you go about it? If you’ve any photos, I’d love to see them.

Here’s the lining in my favourite case. It’s a big ol’ blue trunk with gorgeous plaid linen on the inside. Ahh, it makes my insides sing with happiness. It seems a shame to keep it closed!

Most of the others have the original name tags, novelty stickers and wrapping paper lining just as they had been when they were probably used as school cases decades ago. The light faded too soon afterwards for me to get any decent pictures of those. I’ll try and take a couple of photos in the coming weeks. There’s so much history in those little suitcases and I’d love to share it with you.

Until next time!

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.

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?

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.

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?