28 April 2007

Mango Moon Madness & Random Treats

Many thanks for all your ideas about my step-mother K's cardigan. We ended up agreeing on the Mango Moon Short Cardigan (thanks Taph!), and a skills swap. K has a law degree, so will help hubby and me write up new wills (long overdue), and is also giving me a ticket to her choir's concert next month (worth $40). It's baroque choral music (Bach, Pergolesi, Haydn) which I will really enjoy.

Here's the back so far. I took it over to K this morning for a 'fitting' - it needs to be a bit longer. She doesn't want a 4" ribbed hem, which the pattern calls for, so I'll only do a 1" or so hem, and just make the body sections longer. I bought 2 balls of Velveteen in a deeper pink for the ribbed edges. The colour is just right, and she paid me back for the yarn. It's very fast knitting - 7.5mm needles, smallest size of the pattern.

K's also given me a cardigan of hers which fits her well, so I have something to measure against, which I thought was a very good idea! And she said that she's going to get it lined - will that create any problems with the pattern? She hadn't told me this before...

Yesterday I got a wonderful surprise in the mail - not only the Knit One, Kill Two novel which I won over at Random Knits, but Donna thought the post bag looked a little empty, so she popped in a ball of Canadian Sugar'n Cream cotton (just in case I want to make a very pretty dishcloth - or something else - love those colours! :) and, as she said, any parcel is better with chocolate - GOOD chocolate at that! Thank you Donna!!

Today I found out about Freedom from Self Improvement Day - what an excellent idea... follow the link to find out more, and then relax and enjoy who you are, and ignore all those shoulds :)

27 April 2007

Waratah & Mariah

At last the Waratah collage is finished! I need to look at it for a few days to see if anything jumps out at me and needs to be changed, but I'm pretty happy with it. It will be packaged up carefully and shipped to my friends in Vienna next week!

Yesterday Dotter and I had a lovely morning tea / lunch at Bells' place! It was so nice to actually visit her home, and enjoy her excellent cooking (Honey Jumbles, and a delightful tomato, basil and fennel soup with pasta, and sour dough bread!).

The three Mariah sleeves got together - we hadn't really twigged that we'd all chosen blues, until we put them all side by side! Sadly, Bells realised that her sleeve was too narrow, so we supported her while she ripped it back to the cuff... the cable work is fun to knit, so hopefully it won't take her long to recoup her losses. My sleeve is the only one of the three which has the original Mariah cable pattern on it - the others are lovely adaptations! Mine is much slower to knit!

Lulu and BB got cosy on a chair - Lulu found the wine (as ever)... they were very quiet while we were chatting away.... hmmm... The lovely blue floaty lace on the side is Dotter's Icarus Shawl (Interweave pattern), with the finest softest lace weight you can imagine. It's her first lace!

Please excuse my non-posting on all your Blogs this week - have been busy / out / working (shock horror!). Will catch up over the weekend!

24 April 2007

Wonderful SnB & MoXWord!

Warning - shameless self-promotion follows :

My business has just launched MoXWord, crosswords for Java-enabled mobile phones. There are only a couple of other similar midlets in the English-speaking world. My husband wrote the midlet (yeah, he's frighteningly smart - this sort of programming is his relaxation - he's a theoretical astrophysicist 0_o) - the development took about 3 months - and I wrote (and will keep writing) the crosswords.

MoXWord isn't available commercially to individual users yet (this will come soon), but it is available to media outlets via my syndicator (information on my web site if you're interested). However there is a free demo available now! If your mobile / cell phone is 2 or 3 years old, and can run Java MIDP 2.0, you should be able to give the demo a try. I'd love to hear what you think!

OK - self-promotion over (it's safe to open your eyes now) ...

And now onto the serious business, KNITTING! We had a brilliant Stitch'n Bitch at Woden tonight - I don't know how many people came, around 15? About 3 times as many as usual! What a great collection of creative, funny, intelligent, lovely women (((hugs)))!

We had new people, and lace shawls, and mittens (yay Kuka!), and socks, and amazing felted bowls, and tops, and books, and scarves, and the 3 Mariah cardigans in the same place for the first time! Here's my Mariah sleeve now (and yes, there is supposed to be a break in the cable pattern in the region below the needles - honest!) :

Proto-Skirt : And here's the grey fabric (65% wool 35% viscose), pattern, thread, zip and interfacing for my skirt! I had to go back to the shop today to find out the care instructions for the fabric, as I'd forgotten to ask yesterday... hand wash, which is fine (I was worried it was dry clean only). The woman at the shop kept saying"Make sure you don't rub it, and don't use hot water, and ..." - I don't know, can't she tell I'm a knitter?! LOL ;)

Will pre-wash the fabric tomorrow, and make a start this week! I'm making the long skirt with the pointy hem (but no frayed edges, as the wool won't fray).

23 April 2007

A weekend with Lulu

Last Saturday Dotter and I ventured forth to visit my sister and her family, plus my mum and dad and their partners. I baked diabetic-friendly Honey Jumbles with Purple Icing for afternoon tea. I was going to make regular pink icing, until Dotter said "Why don't you make purple icing?" - I didn't get it for a second - but of course, we have all these strong food dye pastes, which we use for wool. But they can also be used on --- food! They were yummy.

Lulu came along for the tea as well. She was mostly well behaved - she's sitting on my shoulder (and the eagle-eyed amongst you will notice that yes, I'm wearing my Alene Camisole over a black top, in public and everything!).

However, she did hop onto Dotter's lap and started getting tangled in the yarn from her Mariah sleeve - Dotter's retaliation was swift and fierce.... Lulu was forced to back down, with only a few nibbles and a pathetic bleat. Those cable needles are very handy!

And yesterday she gave her hoof of approval to the pink mohair stuff... although she did pull the swatch off its needles! Bad Lulu!

Not much knitting progress from me as my hands have been complaining and requiring rest :/ Bugger it. Hoping I can do some Mariah sleeve tonight.

But I did go to the fabric store today and bought nearly 2 metres of lovely wool blend cloth in a soft grey to make myself a winter skirt! Yummy :) It's Simplicity pattern #4966, if you can be bothered looking for it online. I can't find a way of directly linking to the Simplicity pattern views. Will take my own photo soon...

And last but not least, very proud mother here - Dotter has a pattern on Knitting Pattern Central - hers is the Pencil Case Hat!

21 April 2007

Is this a good idea?

Today I got my first knitting commission! Not sure if this is a Good Thing TM or not... one instinct is to say "Run away!"...

My dad's wife K (she's not been a step-mother to me, as my dad remarried when I was in my 30s) - was given 6 balls of Filatura di Crosa "Ricordo" yarn - it's 58% mohair, 21% Polyamid, 12% Viscose, 9% Acrylic. 50g balls, recommended gauge 16 sts : 4". It's really pink mohair on a black 'core' thread, with patches of coloured stuff through it. It is a tiny bit glittery 0_o.

She was going to cr****t a top for herself, but it's become more of a weight around her neck rather than a project she's looking forward to. So she asked if I'd be interested. She said she'll pay me (any ideas on what to charge? She's not particularly well off - but wants to give me something for my time - suggestions on how to handle this are welcome).

The project? Make a cropped cardigan, with a simple scoop or V neck, straight front and hem, a few buttons, and straight long sleeves. No collar. Able to be worn over a shirt etc at work.

The challenge? She is TINY. I'm talking seriously petite. Miniscule. Barely there. 80 cm chest, under arm to wrist is 46 cm, desired length of cardy 40 cm. She's practically a child's size.

So I've spent hours tonight looking for a cardigan that goes down to an XS / Size 8 (a first for me, I usually have the other trouble ;) ... and could be knit in this weird fluffy stuff, possibly with the addition of a few balls of plain wool for edges / hems.

Current maybes are :
  • Tahoe Cardigan from Knitty - has small sizes, but not sure if would work with a fluffy yarn
  • Cropped Cardigan from Mango Moon - hmmm.
  • Cropped Cardigan from Crystal Palace Yarns - about the right design, would just need to make it smaller, and add more buttons.
  • Raqama Cardigan from Ornaghi Filati - could work, not sure what "S" size means in measurements though.
  • Vienna Sweater from Drops Designs - I quite like this one, as I think the yardage would work, and I can simply knit it as a cardigan instead of a jumper. I'd need to do some maths to adapt it to be 20cm smaller in the chest, though!
I'll need to knit a swatch or two, to gauge what size needles to use, and so on. I've looked through my small collection of Vogue Knitting and Interweave Knits without finding anything appropriate. If it all looks too hard I guess I can say to her that a cardigan isn't going to work, but that a shawl / simple wrap / shrug would be better...

Advice, suggestions gratefully received.

Sunday update : Many thanks for all your ideas! Very helpful - I was blown away at how many replies I got immediately - you guys are the best! I will definitely look at the links and books you've suggested to me. I think I will go with the 'skills swap' - she's got a law degree, and I could ask her to help us draft new wills (something long overdue)...

Hmm, yes Taph, this one is quite good, if I go up to 6 or 6.5 mm needles, I think I'd get gauge, and then if I just make it a bit shorter, the smallest size could work. Kate, I like those designs in IK as well - I don't have those issues though, I'd need to ask around.

Here's a swatch that I knitted this morning. It's not too bad to knit with, actually. I prefer the look of the stocking stitch - the 'fluff' seems to sit at the back of the fabric, and you can see some stitch definition. This is 15 stitches to 4" on 5 mm needles.

PS My e-mail is down, something has gone awry at my ISP's end of things...

20 April 2007

Totally uncalled for cuteness

My puppy Lily is a purebred short-haired chihuahua. She's my baby - well, an 11 year old baby ;)

This was the remains of our small Easter lamb roast - but big for Lil.

Wouldn't it be cute if Pierre and Lily got to meet? Hmmm, no, actually, it wouldn't cos Lily is very territorial and would just yap for an hour. This incessant barking when people or dogs come near or, heaven forbid, inside the house is my main problem with her. Still, she's an effective guard dog!

Can you tell my brain is mush? I should be working, but can't think clearly at all (this virus keeps coming and going).... blurgh.

19 April 2007

Skullcandy Filing

Here are my new Skullcandy Smokin' Buds! They are wonderful! I have very small ears, and these are the first earphones that don't hurt my ears right away ... my ears were sore after about 4 hours of wear (I pushed the limits yesterday, after I bought them), but that's nearly 10 times better than I've managed with any others. So I'm happy! Thanks to Ginger Nut for pointing the way...

And here are a few cute things ... cosy lap rug in progress, favourite puppy on my knitting chair, and my new storage for circular needles! I got this idea from Smariek Knits - her storage case is way cooler than mine, though.

See, write your needle sizes onto the tabs...

And then just slot your needles - either in original packaging or not - in front of the marked section. It's been working really well so far. Much easier than the previous shove-them-all-in-a-box method ;)

And finally, James Randi (one of my heroes) has put his Encyclopedia of of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural online. Wonderful stuff!

17 April 2007

Alene Camisole

I got a bit of a fright when I realised that I had 8 projects on the go, so on Sunday night, instead of forging ahead with my Mariah sleeve, I pulled out the Alene Camisole, and finished it. There was no knitting to be done, just sewing up the straps, making a casing for the elastic (under the bust), putting in the elastic, making a cord, and then darning in the endless ends. Fiddly stuff. But I did it, and it's finished, and it's even nice to wear!

Dotter is modelling this for me - her bust is much smaller than mine, so it's a little big on her, but there are limits to what I'll put online ;)

Things I learnt from this project? I can unravel and dye cotton (this used to be a Land's End little girl's bright pink top), and it looks cool. I don't much like knitting with cotton to make lace, it splits all the time and is annoying. And I can delay finishing a project with the best of them - knitting was basically finished in October last year!

So now I have 7 things on the go - the Peppercorn Shawl has to be done soon though, as it's for an early May birthday. In terms of ancient projects that need a hit on the head, I'll try to finish off the Short Circuit Scarf next.

And thanks everyone for your encouraging comments on my last post - I'm glad it struck a chord for so many of you!

16 April 2007

Unravelling Unrelenting Standards

I've read a couple of Blog posts recently, in different places, about struggles with procrastination and perfectionism. I keep writing long replies, and then thought maybe I should just put something about it here on my Blog... so here goes.

In 2005 I was seeing a counsellor, for various reasons tied up with my daughter having been the victim of horrific bullying. As part of this she gave me a 'Lifetraps' test - you know, a million questions which you rank, and are then scored. A Lifetrap or Schema is defined as a negative life pattern that begins when we're young, is comfortable and familiar, and repeats itself throughout our lives. You'll notice them if you're stuck in some area of your life but can't change it, or overreact to the same kind of situation constantly.

The set of Lifetraps includes things like Abandonment, Failure, Subjugation, Unrelenting Standards, Dependence, Approval-Seeking, and so on. No surprises if I tell you that Unrelenting Standards was an almost 'perfect score' (ie maximum score) for me. So I set about trying to make a dent in this one, as it was having a huge negative effect on my life. Here is what Dr Young (who wrote 'the book' on this all, see below) says about Unrelenting Standards (I'm paraphrasing as I go) :

"The primary feeling is pressure. You can never relax and enjoy life. You are always pushing, pushing, pushing, to get ahead. You fight to be the best at whatever you do, whether it is school, work, sports, hobbies etc. You have to have the best house, car, job... You have to be perfectly creative and perfectly organised.

"The name of the lifetrap is from the point of view of the outside observer. It is the observer, not you, who feels your standards are unrelenting. To you, it is just a normal level of trying to achieve. People with the Unrelenting Standards lifetrap are usually successful at whatever they do, but this success is from the point of view of other people. Other people think that you have achieved a lot, but you take your achievements for granted. They are only what you have expected of yourself.

"Physical stress symptoms, such as irritable bowel and headaches are common.... For you, life is only doing. Life is having to work and achieve all the time. Things that could be enjoyable become an ordeal. You are always aware of time and feel a constant sense of time pressure."

There's plenty more about this lifetrap, but I don't want to overstep the bounds of copyright here. You get the idea.

So I did the hard work, with the help of my counsellor, thought and wrote about what I did, watched myself... there were a couple of common 'features' of the Unrelenting Standards lifetrap I wanted to work on :

• You rarely stop and enjoy successes. You rarely savour a sense of accomplishment. Rather, you simply go on to the next task waiting for you.

• Your standards are so high that you view many activities as obligations or ordeals to get through, instead of enjoying the process itself.


• You procrastinate a lot. Because your standards make many tasks feel overwhelming, you avoid them.

I won't go into the whole process here, as it's explained in better depth in the Lifetrap book and web site. But I needed to imagine what the effects would be if I lowered my standards about 25%. Argh! Impossible! This was a complete disaster - it was either 100% success or 0% failure! But gradually I learnt to take on board that maybe I could do something 80% and it would still be a good job. I went through the other steps in the process, and started to make small changes.

Around the time I was doing all this (mid 2005), my dear friend Taph was encouraging me to come along to the Canberra Stitch'n Bitch group (which only had about 3 or 4 regular bods). I wasn't sure. I'd stopped knitting in 1985 when both my hands were immobilised with RSI - I was forced to stop playing the violin and drop my Science degree because of this too - it was all rather awful. I had knit on occasion in the intervening years, but not much (photo is me around 1991, just after Dotter's birth, not sure what I'm making - what was I thinking, red and pale blue?!).

I was anxious that my hands would get bad again, and didn't think I could afford a new hobby in any case. But Taph was not to be dissuaded! She sent me the link to Knitty (Ooooooooh). She showed me how you could unravel cheap op shop jumpers, wash and skein the wool, and reknit. She took me to lunch in Mawson - with a quick drop in at the yarn shop - for my birthday. She wouldn't take no for an answer was persistent (thank you, Taph!).

I spent many hours browsing through Knitty, reading articles, looking at patterns. I started to knit the French Market Bag ... I went along to Stitch'n Bitch... my hands were OK, as long as I used circular needles or flexible casein needles. I grew cautiously optimistic...

Apart from this all being great fun, I started to realise that this could be part of my escape from the Unrelenting Standards lifetrap. After all, knitting was :

• relaxing (well, mostly).

• not an essential thing I had to do for my business, family, career, or anyone else.

• a place where I could make mistakes, unravel them, reknit, or hell, just leave the mistake in there and keep going.

• a slow process - a project could take me months, but that didn't matter.

• a creative process, where I could just let go and not feel I had to control everything.

• a craft where I was creating things that people had been making throughout history, everyday objects to wear or use - there was no pressure to show off how clever I was as an artist, create things to go in a gallery, or progress my business plan.

• easy to pick up and drop when the need arose, it wasn't a big deal that kicked me into procrastination mode.

• all about process, the making of each stitch, each row, the movement of yarn over needles.

I unravelled a beautiful fair isle jumper I'd made 20 years ago, and hadn't worn in ages, and was suddenly TOTALLY HOOKED... I washed, skeined, browsed patterns until I found my favourite one, and settled down to knit, and relax...

The whole knitting Blog world came to my attention, I met Happy Spider in person and online - Taph started hers in mid-November, and I started mine about 10 days later to keep her company... and look where we are now!

I wasn't sure what I'd have to say on this Blog, but figured that it fit in well to my lifetrap work - I needed to 'stop and enjoy my successes'. It is a place for me to say "Look, I made this - cool!".

I work so hard at everything in my life, my business, my writing, art, family, and so on - but once I'd finished or succeeded at anything, it was like I forgot about it, and moved directly onto the next job on the never-ending list. So my Blog was - and still is - a place where I can remind myself of my achievements. That's why I leave my 'Off the Kneedles' list there, slowly growing.

I wasn't aware of how much I'd improved until I re-did the 'Life Traps' assessment this weekend. While I'm not 'cured of perfectionism', and need to revisit some areas, Unrelenting Standards now ranks as "Fairly Low - this lifetrap may only apply occasionally" instead of "Very High - this lifetrap is one of your core lifetraps". A major improvement, which has taken nearly 2 years, and has been helped largely through knitting. W00t!

Now I just need to figure out what to do about this obsession I have ... LOL! More wool, anyone?

(If you want to find out more, the main book about Lifetraps is Reinventing Your Life by Dr Jeffrey Young and Dr Janet Klosko. There's more information, including score sheets, at this web site too.)

15 April 2007

Mariah - the first sleeve!

Finally - a start to actual knitting on Mariah! I've finally cast on this afternoon. I had to knit 2 gauge swatches, on 4.5 mm and 4.0 mm needles, getting gauge (20 sts to 4") with the smaller needles, and a washed / blocked swatch.

Mariah starts with the sleeves, and they're knit flat. Here's the first row :

The cuff finished. K2 P1 rib with small cables :

And where things are up to now - I'm about to start the side increases. Note the coloured-in cable chart to help me read the pattern ... it's quite a complicated cable pattern, and I'm needing to use a Post-It note to keep track of my rows. It's so soft - very happy with the alpaca!

Dotter is probably going to continue the ribbed cable pattern (Chart A) for the entire sleeve - she is worried about managing the middle cable pattern. I think that will look really lovely too :)

Good grief - I have 8 projects on the needles! How did that happen?!

14 April 2007

Proto Projects

Drum roll please - here it is... I got the Tosca! It's a warm blue with grey. Very nice. And wonderfully soft! Although I am a little peeved that yesterday I received the 2007-2008 Bendigo Shade Card in the mail, and they now have a dark olive green (called Sphere) in the Alpaca, which I would have chosen. Timing :/

In my Bendigo order I also got Rustic Midnight Tweed for Dotter to knit her Mariah in, and one ball of Rustic 8ply in Peppercorn- a soft olive green with light brown - to make a quick lace shawl for a family member who's having a birthday soon. I'm using the Forest Canopy shawl pattern again (same one I'm knitting in pink, so I know it off by heart), on 5mm needles, so it should be fast. The Rustic is very nice to knit with. I started the shawl at 9am this morning, and got to here in less than 2 hours.

Here's the Misty Raspberry alpaca mohair merino blend that I got in Braidwood. (The Rare Yarns web site is http://www.rareyarns.com.au if you want to visit.) The yarn is just gorgeous. Hopefully this will become a lace shawl or scarf that I can actually wear (my previous attempts with mohair have been too itchy for me).

And last of all - while I was in Batehaven I got the latest issue of Yarn, and in Braidwood there's a lamp / glass shop (a few doors up from the Alpaca Centre) which used to house a craft shop - the crafty stock is slowly being sold off (yarn, needles, patterns, embriodery supplies, lace, ribbons etc). I found one 2.25 mm circular needle, for only $3.50. I want to try the magic loop method for socks, so needed a circ in this gauge. Brain is too foggy to attempt this now, though.

The Tosca gauge swatch has been washed and blocked... I'm going to measure it soon to see if I've 'got gauge' for Mariah. I'm in that weird doped-to-the-eyeballs state from having taken a lot of Panadeine for a very bad headache... vision is blurred, stomach is ill, generally feeling pretty sick. I'd go back to bed only hubby is there snoring loudly (I had to get up at 5am to find my ear plugs, and even then they weren't enough!). I think even Lulu has picked up something, as she's sneezing now and then...

Knitting easy stuff is all I'm up to, really. Time for a quiet weekend!

13 April 2007

Lulu by the Seaside

We're back! See, Lulu is fine. She and I went to the beach for 2 nights... along with friend J, of course ;)

This is Batehaven (not Maula Bay as I reported before, which is a little bit further down the coast)... the weather was lovely, warm, with cool nights. Gave J a sock tutorial this morning - her first time using DPNs and she even finished a whole mini sock! I got some work done on the Lap Rug and Spring Shawl too. Was good to get away... felt a bit torn, though, as Dotter has been dreadfully ill with raging flu this week, and has been bedridden for the whole time I was away.

On our way down on Wednesday we discovered The Braidwood Alpaca Centre - I took mere minutes to decide upon 2 balls of Rare Essentials alpaca, mohair and superfine merino, in Misty Raspberry (pic soon once I have daylight for photography). The shop mainly stocks things made from alpaca, from handknit baby socks to jumpers and hats- even the carpet is alpaca! But there is also a small section of Australian made alpaca yarns, in a variety of weights and fibre mixes. I told the owner about Knitty.com ;)
Anyway, it's worth a visit!

And while I was away, my Bendigo order arrived! Two days from ordering to delivery, bloody good. I just love the huge balls, they just look so plentiful! I'll keep you in suspense about which colour I chose in the end... photos tomorrow :D

10 April 2007

Cosy Lap Rug, and Marshmallow Abominations with Beach

Here is the mitred square Cosy Lap Rug I started on the weekend - Dotter was clearing out her stash, and there is a pile of this pink boulcé... it's 46% merino, so not *entirely* artificial. I'm casting on 81 stitches, and then doing the middle decrease thing every second row, and adding stripes of other 'need to use up' stash stuff when the mood takes me. Colours are pretty saturated here, even after some Photoshop work... It's bright! I don't really enjoy knitting bouclé, as I've mentioned before. Still, it's mostly easy knitting.

A mini Easter tale for you - my FIL is 84, has severe Asperger's, dementia, diabetes, and chronic infuriating hubris. A difficult man. He still lives alone (but with support such as Meals on Wheels) as he refuses to even discuss alternative living arrangements. We're his only family in town. Don't get me started.

Anyway, we brought him over to our place for Easter dinner. I cooked a roast leg of lamb, roast veg, and a special Plum & Hazelnut Flan, which was gluten-free and low-GI for the diabetics (FIL and Dotter). We also gave him a sugar-free chocolate bunny. He brought chocolate for us all - a big Ernest Hillier bunny for both the teens, a big bag of Cadbury's small filled eggs for hubby, and this for me :

He thought they were hot cross buns, as in bread. He can't see well or read with any real level of comprehension any more, so I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised. I don't really care - I wasn't expecting anything, and don't want too many tempting choccies anyway. But still. He doesn't understand money any more either, so the fact that he spent 10x more on the kids and hubby neither registers with him nor surprises me.

This is what they looked like. If you're not a marshmallow aficionado (I'm not, unless they're on a stick at a BBQ), these are pretty awful. I got through one, and then threw them out, as the kids and hubby didn't want them either.

And this is where I'm headed tomorrow morning, with girlfriend J, on another of our not-regular-enough Thelma & Louise escapes (with less crime ;). She (and her hubby and 2 kids) have a small cabin at Malua Bay (just south of Bateman's Bay - it's about a 2.5 hour drive from Canberra). I took this photo in March 2005. It's been that long since I got away from the family for a holiday. A whole 3 days & 2 nights without family responsibilities - wish it could be a bit longer!

I'll be teaching J how to knit socks (using the mini sock pattern by Kate Atherley, on Knitty), and then J's hopefully going to embark on her first ever socks for herself, using the Patonyle she won at the Harlot Happening. Watercolour painting, drinking rosé, walking on beaches, knitting, reading, cups of tea, and sleeping in are likely to happen! So I bid you adieu - catch you on the weekend!

Any recommendations for yarn shops on the way through Braidwood - Bateman's Bay etc?

09 April 2007

The Red Mug

Here's my painting from today... there's hot coffee in the mug, and the project on the needles is a mitred square for a stash-busting lap rug. Watercolour on Canson Montval Cold Pressed 300 gsm paper. The preliminary drawing took about 1.5 hours. The painting took about 4 hours, including drying time between sections. I'm quite happy with it, although I think the mug needs to be glossier and darker. Tricky to get just right.

The main yarn here is Lang 'Arte' (46% merino, 44% acrylic, 10% nylon) bouclé. One thing I've discovered with this project is I don't much care for knitting with bouclé! Too many thready bits 0_o
Still, I have finished one square, and it does look nice.

This design will be on my Knitting Art shop within the next 24 hours.

08 April 2007

Easter Lamb

Do you like my rosemary and mint crown? Mummy promised it to me if I helped out with dinner...
Why is the oven on, Mummy?

Waratah and Baggy Progress

This week I've finally got back to Penny-in-Vienna's Waratah collage - sorry it's taken this long! Anyway, here is where I got to by last night. Hope to make more progress today. (The last pic of the collage is here if you want to do a comparison.)

Now, some of you may remember my huge floppy flop from November 2005, the French Market Bag from Knitty that felted unevenly, and left me with an expensive and mostly useless bag. I added a big button and loop to the top of the handles, but it didn't make much difference.

Well. I brought it along to Stitch'n Bitch last Thursday night, mainly so I could show Bells how bad it was. However, my rescue was at hand, as the fair Olivia came up with a brilliant idea - sew seams up the corners, to give it more structure, using pretty embroidery thread. Which in fact took only about half an hour, and has certainly been effective. I used lovely orange floss, and the sides no longer flop!

Thank you Olivia !!

The sides still bow out a bit, but I'm thinking of what I could do with more structural seams, or maybe even some boning. Actually, I think if the handles didn't flop, it would be more useful... hmmmm....

06 April 2007

Closing in

Thank you Bells for bringing in swatches and balls of Bendigo wool for me to check out last night. I've now decided that I really prefer Bendigo's Alpaca over Rustic. Unfortunately the colour choice in Alpaca is quite limited. I think Pistachio (pale olive green) is really too pale. Maybe. I think. I'm not sure! Aaargh...

Anyway, these are three other colours which could work. Tosca, then Briar Rose, and last of all Grey.

I've got to get a wriggle on, as to get my 10% discount (on my first ever Bendigo order), I need to place my order on Tuesday! Dear Dotter has decided she wants to make this too, so looks like there's going to be a mini Knit Along with Dotter, me, and Bells :)

05 April 2007

What's missing?

I've been browsing through the Phildar web site (does anyone know how to find free patterns? I've joined up and everything, but can't find nuffin - maybe there aren't any?). Anyway. This photo just jumped out at me.

The bolero is nice, the girl is pretty - no problems there. But damn it - she has NO ARMS! Well, she does, only she's starved herself so she now belongs to the Phasmatodea family and eats insects a bit skinny. The combination of normal-person-sized bolero, gauzy shirt, and thin arms is just - well - either perfect, or scary, or perfectly scary!

Just keep knitting, just keep knitting...

This is my Spring Shawl - see the safety line, see, see?

So - everything is going along very nicely, but I thought I'd better have a peek at the pattern, seeing as we'd grown apart over the past few months. And I read this little line :

Repeat Rows 1-8 [ie the diamond pattern] until there are 195 sts on the needle.

Bottom Edge : etc

Um. I have 307 stitches on the needle.

Currently the (unblocked) shawl is 44 cm down the centre back (~17"). The pattern says that after adding the edge and blocking the shawl is 58 cm (23") down the centre back.

So - here are my options:

1) I just keep knitting the pink bit until the cone is empty. I can't get it off the cone to weigh it, but there's only 1 cm 'depth' of wool left before I hit cardboard. My main concern here is that I'm using the Caterpillar Yarn to do the edge (it's light greens and pinks and greys), and have 49g of it - I want to make sure the 'Caterpillar' Edge is reasonably wide.

2) I stop the pink bit now (I'm at the end of a pattern repeat as luck would have it) and get started on the Edge Pattern (8 rows of it). The shawl is going to get a fair bit bigger once I block it, isn't it?

Whaddayareckin?! I mean, a shawl can never be too big, can it?

04 April 2007

Dictionary Madness

For the past months I've been working on my Master Word List, something every professional crossword writer needs.

Crossword words are an unusual subset - plurals, superlative forms (-ier -est ) and verb & adverb forms (-ing -ly etc) are best avoided, there should no offensive or swear words, no gory, medical or highly technical terms, no sexual terms, no really depressing words (coffin, cadaver, suicide etc), no American spellings, etc. So I'm removing as many words as I'm putting in. I'm adding things like well-known Australian slang, place names from around the world, foody terms, very short phrases, and names of well known people. My word list helps give the crosswords I write "my style", so it's a vital part of my professional 'tool kit'.

I have a basic word list (of ~ 58,000 words) which is from an American university - but it's not a really good list as it contains many American spellings, mixed with UK spellings, lots of technical scientific terms, names of chemical compounds, disease names, etc, and lots of variant forms of words, some of which have been automatically generated and aren't real words. For example, coming up soon is :
  • coincide
  • coincided
  • coincidence
  • coincidences
  • coincident
  • coincidental
  • coincidentally
  • coincidents
  • coincides
  • coinciding
Out of these, I'll probably only leave coincide, coincidence, coincides, and maybe coincided.

So I'm going through the list word-by-word, checking it against the Australian Oxford Dictionary (AOD). Yeah, I'm reading the whole dictionary. Pity my memory isn't good enough to remember every word!

In the side bar you'll see a new item, which is which word I'm up to, what number it is in the Master List, and which page I'm up to in my Australian Oxford Dictionary. Just to help me keep track of this huge job, and get some sense of progress. It's taking quite some time. I don't work on it every day, but really should do at least 10 pages of the AOD every weekday if I want to finish by the end of the year!

And now, just cos Julie did it, here's which die I am :

I am a d12

Take the quiz at dicepool.com

"You are the rare, the overlooked, yet incredibly useful dodecahedron: the d12. You are a creative, romantic soul. You often act without thinking, but make up for your lack of plans with plenty of heart. You easily solve problems that stump others, but your answers tend to put you into even deeper trouble. You write long, detailed backgrounds for all your characters, and are most likely to dress up as one or get involved in cos-play. You can be silly at times and are easily distracted by your own day dreams, but are at the end of the day you're someone who can be depended on."

Yup. Sounds about right (especially during my old AD&D playing days... quiet you - it was a long time ago!) LOL!

03 April 2007

Colour tricks

As I think I've mentioned before, I'm keen to make the Mariah cardigan, but I'm having trouble deciding on which colour and yarn to use. I had a bit of a brainwave just now, and thought I could do some of my graphic designery tricks on the Mariah photo from Knitty (hope this isn't a problem - the original photo is by Peter Zimmerman, and Jodi Green is the model and designer. I can remove this post if there are objections to my using this photo here).

So here is the design in different colours (my approximations according to my Bendigo shade card). I was tending towards the light olive green, but am surprisingly attracted to the Red Tweed, now, actually!

Blue Mix (Bendigo Alpaca)

Elm (Bendigo Rustic) or Pistachio (if a bit lighter) (Bendigo Alpaca)

Red Tweed (Bendigo Rustic)

If anyone wants to know the Photoshop tricks to do this, here's what to do :

Open the image in Photoshop. Select the area to change colour - use the Lasso Tool. This can be a bit fiddly. If you want to try lots of changes, it can be worth putting this selection into a new layer. Go to the Layer Menu > New > New Layer via Cut (Shift Command J) or via Copy (Command J).

Go to the Image Menu > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation (Command U)

Make sure that Colorize and Preview are ticked. Then use the Hue, Saturation, and Lightness sliders to adjust the colours to your heart's content! Other colour adjustment options are useful too, such as Selective Colour, Colour Balance, and so on. Levels is also useful (Command L).

I'm using Adobe Photoshop CS2, professional version - not sure if lighter-weight versions of Photoshop can do all of these options, but it ought to be able to!