Friday, February 29, 2008

The knitting will kick your butt

Yes, yes, the knitting will, from time to time, kick your butt and remind you that you are not, in fact, the boss. You might think you are, but you are most emphatically not.

You might try something new (toe up socks, on two circs). And you do Judy's magic cast on and it's all good, la la la all the way up the foot and then you get to the heel and do a short row heel for the first time ever. And you're not sure it's exactly right (having never properly seen one in real life) but it looks close enough and most importantly it fits. And then you zip up the leg, knitting knitting knitting, feeling very smug as you are using up all the lovely Koigu yarn and getting a nice long sock in the process. And you rib rib rib and it seems to go on forever. Then you decide to cast off.

And even though you've read in various places (too many to remember or provide links) that you need to do a reeeeealllly stretchy cast off on toe up socks, you know better, oh yes you do. So you just do your regular cast off, trying to do it as loose as possible but not even bothering to go up a stick size or two, no! For why would you need to do that?

Well duh! So you can actually get the sock on over your heel without much cursing and sweating. Yep, oh confident know all knitter, the knitting kicked your butt.

So early one weekend morning when you can't get back to sleep and your husband is still snoring away, you get up, fortunately find the end which you'd already carefully darned in (because of course the sock will fit you), and unpick the cast off. And then re-do it, by doing the sewn cast off method. And this all takes you an hour and a half. And even though it seems somewhat tight, you continue on, because you know it will be fine, just fine, you are doing it just as the instructions say.

AND IT STILL DOESN'T FIT! IN FACT, IT IS TIGHTER THAN BEFORE! Oh yes, knitting really is kicking your butt and showing you who is boss. You who think you are so clever, you are SO NOT clever.

And even though you assert your authoritai by throwing sock on the naughty spot, you know that the sock is right, and you are not.

And so after a few hours in which to calm down, and fortified by a soothing pot of tea, you painstakingly unpick the cast off row AGAIN, and the last row of knitting just to be safe, and you reknit the last row and re-do the cast off, and after another hour and a half, YOU HAVE VICTORY! The sock fits perfectly.

And even though you have won the final battle, it's a hollow victory really, because you know that sock kicked your know-it-all, she'll be right on the day butt. Big time.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

SHOESday: Pretty

The last installment of brown shoes (well, I've got brown boots, but they'll have to wait for boot month).
I bought these at my LSS (local shoe shop!). It's near work and while most of the range it carries are fairly sensible, practical work shoes, it will usually have one or two pairs which really stand out. And one day when I ducked in at lunch time with a work friend, these were it.

I was standing on front of the mirror admiring them on my feet when I said to my friend "But what would I wear these with?" (see, I am practical to some extent!!).
To which she replied: "the outfit you have on, fool!" (or words to that effect). For I was wearing wide legged brown pants (trousers for you English folk!) and a green top, which picks up the colour in the fabric.
Clearly that sealed the deal. Had to have them.
Love love love the fabric on the wedge and holding on the carved-y thingy on the front, and the narrow heel. And the carved-y thingy (which I'd like to think is wooden but which I think is actually plastic!)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Because it's February

As Amy said, my latest project was made, well, because it's February. And because it's pretty. And because I've seen some pretty ones, both in real life, and in blogland (here, and then here).

So here's mine:
(with stunt buttons so you can see the buttonholes...will probably end up with plain white/cream buttons I think).
Pattern: February Baby Jacket (or "Baby Sweater on Two Needles") from Knitter's Almanac by Elizabeth Zimmerman. She's a sparse old pattern writer is Elizabeth. Thank goodness for pattern advice from others who've gone before me in making this. Even so, I still almost forgot to put buttonholes in!

Yarn: Patons Serenity DK, a new 50/50 bamboo/cotton blend which Donni procured for me from her LYS - so soft, such a pretty sheen. I had to make something with it straight away and so hunted around for a pattern for a while until it occured to me to do this one! I used 2 balls and a smidge of a 3rd ball - for the last 3 rows and cast off - don't you hate that!
Sticks: 4mm KP Harmony Options, plus 4mm bamboo dpns for the sleeves

Modifications: EZ has you do the sleeves flat. On Ms BP's advice, I did them in the round, which meant no purl rows (hurrah!) - well, except for when I got to the garter stitch bit. Not to worry! This method does make the pattern entirely seamless - huzzah! One of my favourite things!
Time: 1 February 2008 - 20 February 2008.What I learnt: It's amazing what a difference colour can make. In this colour, the pattern makes for a very traditional baby knit. In darker colours it looks a lot more modern.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Happy Squishies

First happy squishy:mmmmm lipstick lava...thanks Donna!! Had a coffee with Donna yesterday at the Lindt cafe near my work. I forgot to take my camera so you'll just have to imagine the coffee topped with real lindt chocolate shavings... . But I did have the opportunity to get up close and personal with Donna's amazing shetland shawl - wow! Such amazing lace!

Second happy squishy:
(well, the main squishy bit on this one was the padded postal envelope, but just go with me will you!). Fab 2 socks on 1 circ pattern book (because knitting two at once makes the yarn go faster, yes!), maple sugar candy (clearly I ate one before I took the picture, and when they say it is pure maple sugar, they mean, it is 100% sugar - omg!!), and mmm yummy soap (I do love a yummy soap!). And of course, lovely ziplock bags, because we all know you can never have too many of those!I think I'll have to make this pattern first. Since it's on topic and all. These lovely gifts were from lovely MadMad, for no particular reason. Ok, well, you got me, it was for Valentine's Day. Ooo-errr, I've got a girlfriend (and also, I'm now magically 12 years old). Oh, and I almost forgot (like I forgot to take a picture), the book is signed by the author, to me! weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

*thanks to Catsmum for the title inspiration!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

SHOESday: golf, anyone?

I know these aren't really golfing shoes, but the little flappy thing at the front, with the tassels, it's just so golfy, you know? (it really annoys me how some of the flappy bits on the right shoe stand up like that. Will not be fixed!!)

Or Scottish highland shoes. Or both. Oh, I know, except for the heels. Not very good on a golf course or for doing a highland fling.I actually would never have thought I'd buy shoes with this kind of detail. All the others I've ever seen have been just too much. Maybe it is the colour - all one colour, rather than, say, red white and blue (I've seen them!!). And a nicely shaped heel, not too high. And the d'orsay style of the shoe (toe and heel cup). I really do like these shoes a lot. Most excellent winter work shoes!

Monday, February 18, 2008

February Goals

So at the start of last month, I resolved to make a list of goals (or even one goal) each month, and just do it. Erm, I didn't quite get there in January, and February is more than half way through...and since I have no valid excuse, I'm just going to turn into my mother and think better late than never (ok, I live my life by this saying...!)

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but does represent things I must do this month:

1. Finish charity knitting (pilchers/soakers for disabled kids) for Terri.
2. Start and finish February Baby Jacket.
3. Start Ravelry Bag Lady Swap knitting.
4. Bake something for Mouthfuls of Heaven.
5. Do my tax (oops...)

All very achievable. I wonder if maybe I should aim a bit higher? Is it more inspiring to aim extermely high and fall short of your goals, or be realistic and achieve them?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Decisions, decisions

A little while ago Meg wrote a great post about how she decides what to knit next (or at least, the factors that influence the decision). I thought it was a great topic and decided I'd think on it a bit and post my own reflections. It ends up being a bit of a list about what I do and what I don't do, and some reasons why I do, or don't do, those things (and keep reading, there are photos eventually...).
1. I don't generally see a pattern and cast on for it straight away - for example, I get the latest edition of IK or Knitty, or even my friend's activity in Ravelry (best invention ever!) and will see something I love and must make. But not straight away. I rarely, if ever, see a new pattern and start it immediately. Mainly because I've already got 5 or 6 things on the sticks already, and I can't justify starting another one.

But I think it's also about being sure that I really want to spend my precious knitting time making that particular item. I hate frogging and I don't want to start someting which I end up not liking. So I'll think on it for some time before I'll actually make it. If I'm still thinking about it a few months later, I might even buy the yarn for it. Which doesn't mean I'll knit it straight away, but at least I'll have the yarn when I'm ready!

2. I don't like to knit to deadlines. So that means I try and get any gift or obligation knits out of the way sooner rather than later. Inevitably, I usually cut it close to the wire anyway, so I'm always reminding myself of the deadline for the gift knit. So even if I'm hankering to start something new, I'll try and hold off in order to finish the gift knit (but see point 6 below!).

3. I like to only have one big garment project on the sticks at any one time. So even though I've got yarn for at least 5 jumpers or cardi's for myself, I'll only have one on the sticks at any time. Although at the moment, I haven't got any (exept the Lace Tee, which doesn't count because it doesn't really have sleeves)...but I'll be rectifying that soon! Which brings to my next factor...

4. Stick availability. I'm pretty much a KnitPicks Options convert now. My most used stick size is 4.5mm. I've got 3 sets of 4.5mm tips. All currently in use. I know one of the ideas behind the Options is so you can take the tips off one project leaving it on the cable, and use the tips for another. But I just know that the minute I try that, I'll grab the project without the tips in a rush to leave the house, and then won't be able to knit on it. So I have to finish one of my 4.5mm stick projects before I can start Buck-along.

5. I like to have variety in my projects. Generally speaking, at any one time I've usually got the following on the go:

-adult garment
-baby/child garment
-lace project
I try not to start a new project in any category if I've already got one on the go. Of course, right now, I've got 3 scarves, two pairs of socks and 2 baby garments, plus (small) adult garment and lace project. And two projects in hibernation...but still have the variety! Of course, within those categories there can be easy projects or attention needing projects, and sometimes they cross over (lace scarf, baby socks socks, lace garment etc - although never scarf socks, because that would be weird).

6. If procrastination were an olympic sport, I'd win gold, gold, gold for Australia! Even with things I enjoy, like knitting! So sometimes I start something new in order to put off knitting things I'm close to finishing, or really enjoying, or not enjoying, or need to finish. Usually the new project will be something small, like a dishcloth, but not something I need to knit straight away. But that's how procrastination works, isn't it - you get non-urgent things done and the urgent (or important) things slip.

7. What fits in with life plans (not Life Plans, just day to day stuff!). If friends are coming over I might get some time in to knit while we are sitting around chatting. But, due to the chat factor, I try and knit something really simple, like a plain sock. Now, if I don't have a plain sock on the go, then I'll have to start a new one... . Or if I'm going on a beach holiday and I don't have a cotton project on the go, then I'll have to start a new one...

8. And finally, sometimes it's just serendipity. A flash of inspiration, or a random idea, or the fact that Grey's Anatomy finally started again last Sunday and you happened to have a skein of Yarntini self-striping sock yarn in colour "McDreamy" that you recently got from someone's destash sale...
And you've learnt how to do toe-up socks and so want to keep practising, so you have to start a new sock, which you plan to only knit while watching Grey's Anatomy (and also Brothers and Sisters afterwards, because watching the stripes grow is SO.MUCH.FUN!)This is two hour's worth of tv. With a break for dinner in the middle. I think I'm a slow knitter!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I'm sorry.

I'm most especially sorry that it has taken 11 years since this report was released, and a change of government, for the events of today to take place.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

SHOESday: it's all in the details

Continuing on with the brown theme (I can do a month of brown, which kind of surprises me really, given that up until a year or so ago, I never wore brown, I was always a black based dresser), these are the last of the shoes bought in the great Singapore Shopping Spree of 2005.Love that these sandals have a closed in toe cap and heel. It somehow makes me feel better about wearing them at work - I have this "rule" about sandals at work - either the heel or toe should be enclosed - at least - to make them acceptable. Of course, I do sometimes break my rule (like, with these) but that's pretty much what I stick to.
The details I love about these shoes are the straps and the t-bar strap which pulls down into a "v" shape which is echoed at the top of the strap as well (which, lets face, is more flattering for the leg as well), and that the buckle is in the shape of a bow. Now I'm not really a bows kind of person (mostly...) but the little bow is an unexpected detail, as well as being the designer's logo, which in my view makes it a nice touch.Not a great picture to get the bow detail, but you can (almost) see it there.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Odds and Ends

Thank you so much to everyone who commented on my last post - your comments and thoughts and hugs mean so so much to me.

Thought I'd quickly post these - I got in a bit of a dishcloth mood before Christmas and it continued into January - partly because it was too hot to knit anything with wool in it (or at least, it seemed like it!) and because I felt the need for some instant gratification knits.

So a couple of dishcloths - both using stash (hurrah!) and both new methods or patterns for me.

Feather & fan:
Mitred Square:I even had a rare-for-me frogging experience. I started a ballband dishcloth the variegated yarn (Peaches n Cream in Flair) and the plain purple, and it just looked ugh. The colours didn't work together at all. So I frogged, and did the F&F instead. Don't ask me why I thought the colors would work in the mitred square though. I think I was at the stage where "it's just a dishcloth" so it didn't matter!

More yarn for me! This time, not a purchase (whew!). I was lucky enough to win The Knittery's January giveaway! Hurrah! In case you don't know, lovely Daphne gives a skein of yarn each month, with the recipient chosen randomly those who post Knittery FO's to the flickr or Ravelry Knittery group! I very quickly chose a skein of the Merino Slim sock yarn in Bloody Mary, and Daphne even more quickly posted it out to me.
Divine! With a sheen and drape like silk but all merino (well, some nylon too, as you'd expect with sock yarn!). I'm thinking about making elbow length gloves (possibly fingerless...). Will see!
Do yourself a favour and buy some!

Friday, February 08, 2008

I miss my dad

Funny old week, this week. My wedding anniversary on Tuesday (8 years!) (thanks everyone for your good wishes), my mum and dad's wedding anniversary yesterday (would have been 49 years) and the anniversary of my dad's death today (2 years). Bittersweet.

I love this shot - completely candid (I think they are always the best). I wish I could remember what Dad was saying. I think it was along the lines of "are you ready?" (we were just about to walk inside for the ceremony). He was a man of few words!

I miss my dad.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Summer fruit

So a day of sun and the rain has returned. Maybe some summer fruit will cheer us up!

Details: Pattern: My first toe-up sock! I used Judy's Magic Cast On, Wendy's Generic Toe Up Sock Pattern for the short row heel, with some help from Misocrafty's short row heel tutorial and the sewn bind off from the IK which featured Ann Budd's guide to toe up sock knitting. Basically, I wanted something simple and fool proof so I'd get these right first time!

Yarn: Lovely Koigu KPPPM, colour P803 - lovely summer fruits colours - plum, raspberry, strawberry, papaya, watermelon. Interestingly, the two skeins, although from the same dye lot, are slightly different in tone - one sock is paler (or more pink) than the other. But not hugely and definitely not in a way that bothers me one bit!Sticks: 2.5mm 60cm KP fixed circulars x 2 (bought from Donni!). These were also my first pair of socks knit using 2 circs! I don't mind this method, although I think I like magic loop better. I did find that I have a "crease" up either side of the socks, where the needles joined. I think I was so conscious of avoiding ladders, and so pulled the yarn too tight on the first few stitches. Not sure how to get around that. Practice I guess...does anyone have any tips?

Time: 19 January 2008 - 4 February 2008. Not bad. Well, I guess it was a plain stocking stitch sock...which I very much enjoyed knitting!What I learnt: Well, quite a long list of firsts for these - first toe up, first short row heel, first time using two circs, first time using a different cast off method (well, for the second sock anyway...I learnt that my usual cast off is nowhere near stretchy enough for socks). Now, I just have to work up the courage and energy to find the already darned in end of sock 1, unravel the cast-off and redo it. Urk. But worth it, I know.

Stashbusting? Yes! Hurrah! 2x50g skeins

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Pearl Buck Swing Jacket

I've been dreaming about making this Jacket for quite some time now - ever since I saw it on A Bluestocking Knits. After posting a picture of it last week, I've managed to convince (it was pretty easy really) BrownPants and Bells to join me in knitting it. We've all even got stash yarn to do it with (we rock!).Is anyone else going to join us? The pattern is from IK Winter 2005 or the Best of Interweave Knits book. Go on, you know you want to...we can have a Buck-along. Or a Pearl KAL. Or a Swing Thing. Or a...dare I say it, a Jacket Racket. Ok, ok, I'll stop now.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

SHOESday: pretty ordinary really...

I had planned on continuing the summer/sandals theme...since, you know, it's supposed to be summer still. For quite a while yet. But the rain is pouring down and is supposed to keep coming all week, so it just didn't feel like an open shoe kind of day.

So I thought I should post my wedding shoes. Since it's my wedding anniversary today and all. But due to my poor long term planning, I've done those already.

So you'll just have to make do with these.
Hope you don't mind.To make up for what is undoubtedly your disappointment at the chocolate brown punched leather, the squillions of bronze sequins and the divine little button closure, I've done a little shoe modelling impersonation - can you tell who I am? Answer after the next pic...Why, Scarlet Johansen of course! No idea why she is so pigeon-toed in pictures. Although it does kind of make her look sweet. Sort of.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Tomorrow and Today

Oooh, tomorrow...back to work after 6 weeks off (sob). Best not to think about it - will focus on something better - today, and more specifically, who makes my day!

I've been honoured in the last couple of days by Del, Lilypily,and Rachael with the "You make my Day" award and Rhiannon with the "Spread the Love" award (my, it's a wonder my head still fits through the door!). I love this thing about blogging - these awards (Nice Matters, Rockin' Girl Blogger, You make my Day, Spread the Love and so on) are like random acts of kindness. You start out blogging, maybe you've been reading a bunch of blogs already and feel inspired to start your own. You join some blogrings, you comment on people's blogs, they comment on yours, other people comment on yours, you find new blogs through the blogs you already like and you build up a little community of blog friends, some of whom you are lucky enough to be able to meet in real life as well (it's a story I've told before, I know).

And then these awards (you like me, you really like me!) (I know, you probably need to be "of a certain age" to get that reference! And I even misquoted it!) come along and it's like the icing on the cake (and don't even get me started on the generosity of bloggers in relation to giveaways and charitable works). Completely unexpected and so lovely to be thought of in this context.

Thank you so much for these awards - it really made my day (or more correctly, my week!). Now I'm supposed to nominate 10 bloggers in return. And it's hard, almost too hard. Firstly, right back at each of you for thinking of me. And then to everyone else whose blog I read (and most particularly the ones I comment on) and to everyone who comments here - each comment makes my day, and each time your blog is highlighted in Bloglines makes my day - and believe me, I check both my blog and Bloglines a lot because I so love reading your posts and comments!

Finally, I wanted to give a shout out to some blogs which I am relatively new to reading. I've only picked up a small number of blogs in the last couple of months - I already had over 130 in my Bloglines as it was! But looking at these awards and clicking through the links to new blogs reminds me it is worth checking out new ones more often, because it really is a great world out there full of great people.

So in no particular order, some of my more recent additions include:

All Fingers and Thumbs
1 More Row
We are all Mad Here (love this blog title!!)
The Joy of Sox (ditto!)
A Room of My Own
Lily Potter Knits
Wouldn't Shoe (because really, why wouldn't shoe!)

So spread the love, tell those around you (in blogworld or in real life) that they make your day. It's worth it.

Friday, February 01, 2008

The question of Stash?

I've been pondering the question of what actually is stash*, because of my stashbusting drive this year. And I mean this in a serious "I'm only cheating myself if I fib" way, not in a "what can I get away with without having to tell my husband" way. But not in a guilty way, because I am so on board with the no-guilt stash manifesto!

I think we can all agree that yarn bought without a specific project in mind is definitely stash.

Like this yarn - I went to the Cassidy's sale! Both stores! (I think I'm now an honourary Canberran). How could I not buy this lovely Zara at $2/ball - that's $100 worth of yarn for only $20 (and that's for reals, not crazy talk!). So it's stash, even though it was bought on sale.

What about yarn bought for a specific project. I think if you start straight away, the yarn is not stash. But if you leave it to marinate in the ziplock for a while, does it eventually become stash? Does it only become stash if you decide you don't want to make that pattern and use it for something else? Will think on this as we continue...

(By the way, that is not going to happen with this pattern - I adore this pattern!) (also, I have at least another 3 cardigan patterns and the actual yarn each pattern calls for...)

And sock yarn? Sock yarn is bought obviously for a specific purpose, that of making socks (although we know it can be used for other stuff of course). Even though I signed up for Knit from your Stash 2007, and I was all "oh yeah, sock yarn is so not stash" exception, I think that was actually my downfall last year, because my sock yarn stash grew exponentially. So sock yarn is definitely stash.

What about gorgeous yarn that has been discontinued...
Ok, I guess it's still stash. But gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous stash.

Sale yarn is stash, unless it meets one of the not stash rules. (See, I am being harsh here. And honest...)

Finally, yarn purchased to make gifts for others is not stash -unless you have bought it and then not used it for said gifts. Anything leftover definitely is stash. And yarn gifted to me is stash. But stash of the best kind!

I'm sure there are other complications, but these are the main ones for me. The real issue for me, in working out whether I'm in fact stashbusting this year, is the yarn bought for a specific project issue. I think I'm going to say that if I bought it more than 6 months ago (as far as I can remember, in an honest remembering way, not in a vague "oh this, I've had this for ages way", which I may have done previously for shoes...) then it has become stash.

And I'm going to keep myself honest by noting at the end of each month how much yarn I've knit in the previous month (both stash and new) and how much I've bought. I'm just going to do it by number of 50g (2oz) balls. I could do yardage etc but that's too much maths for me. By recording this, I'll have a simple way of measuring my success - if I'm in the negative, I know I'm ahead in terms of stashbusting...

So here's my January 2008:

Yarn purchased = stash: 30 balls (mostly from Cassidy's...)
Yarn purchased to make gifts: 7 balls (for Ravelry Bag Swap)

Yarn used this month from stash: Approx 10 balls - all stash

Stashbusting: +20 (sigh...) (and I go back to work next week, so that'll mean less knitting time...I can't believe I only got 10 balls worth done this month! I think I should have an internet diet!)

*Feel free to read "george" for stash throughout this post. I just didn't want to completely rub it in due to the copious mentions of stash/george throughout this post...