Thursday, 31 January 2008

Magazine of the day

I've just picked up the Winter 2007 issue of knit.1, the funky version of Vogue Knitting. There is always something interesting in this and the news, etc. including the horoscopes are always fun. I even liked the small format that they started out with. I know there's a Knit Simple, but I find that trivial without any of the interest that this does.

Don't you love the sheep? (Pattern 33 - Unfortunately, the pattern isn't printed, go to

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Back to school

Today is all about the boys. They both go back to school today. Oldest to start his second last year of high school and youngest starts high school. This is a big step for all of us and I hope he has a good first day.

Oh and I lost a bet....he ate his breakfast!

He looks unhappy, but it's mostly because I HAD to take a photo or two!

Monday, 28 January 2008

Spin-in at Yarra Bend

Yesterday I spent the day spinning in the park at Yarra Bend. This is an annual event of the HWSG of Victoria, started as part of Australia's Bi-centenial celebrations, as I understand it, as a 'last gasp'. This is the first time I've attended and hopefully, it won't be the last. What more do you want......Spinning, fibre, friends and coffee. Not necessarily in that order....

Sat down with my Kimberley knitting, feeling pretty happy to discover that I hadn't counted stitches for awhile and that I had a significant number less. Found the mistake and two hours later was back where I started the evening. It is looking good, but it is an effort.

I'm also teaching 'Beginning Spinning' at the guild, starting Wednesday, so I need to get a little organised for that.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Tubular scarves

I've been continuing work on Knitting the Kimberley, and though it's a slow process, I am extremely happy about the result. I've reached the half way mark, I call it the 'trees', made up of twisted stitches and bobbles and am working on the 'sky', which is varying the shell stitch. All these are from my favourite book: Creative Knitting by Mary Walker Phillips. This will continue to crop up through my knitting as I still haven't quite found anything like it.

Anyway, I thought I'd better do something quick, so I've had a play with my knitting machine, which hasn't really been getting much of a workout lately. I decided on tubular knitting and three varying size tubes, one inside each other. I like the result, though it's perhaps not quite long enough. I might have to do one very very long thin tube to get the length. That's daunting, as the shortest tube is 500 rows.

I have been learning though:

1. ALWAYS read the manual, it tells you all sorts of really interesting and useful things.

2. Be patient when fixing mistakes and refer to No 1.

3. I need to sort out my knitting machine, small equipment and manuals. If I knocked one more thing on the floor, I'd have gone mad!

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Knitting the Kimberley

It took me two and a half hours to knit one row. It's the bobble row and I'm very pleased with it. Each bobble is three stitches, into which I knit three times (9sts) then do six rows, then decrease back to three. There is only one intervening stitch. What an effort.
The only issue I have at the moment is how I'm going to mount it. I keep thinking of a block of timber, not as frame, but as background. (????) I think I might have to make a trip to a second hand timber yard and see what is available.
This week is very much back to school, yesterday was uniforms, today books, tomorrow stationary. At least I get to wander around Officeworks looking at very cheap stationary. It's always good value at back to school time.
PS sorry about the picture, the knitting is cream.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008


Just back from a weekend at the beach. Friends, food, wine, good conversation and a much more active bunch of young people. They all went boogie boarding at the surf beach. It's amazing what friends can get you to do.
Had wondered if my seaweed project would have enough inspiration to be worthwhile, and, if I would find 'new' seaweed to add to the collection.
On the last day, I went for a lovely, lonely walk along the beach and I found this most unusual seaweed. I have never seen anything like it. So it just goes to show.
All my projects are just at that awkward beginning stage. Skinny length of fabric, needs adding to. Kimberley knitting is just up to the first tree tops....but looking great. More spinning and dyeing required for the rest.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Sampling the Kimberley

Knitted my first sample for my knitting project - provisionally titled 'Knitting the Kimberley'. I never said I was good at naming things. It's wonderful how the process of sampling sends you in different directions. I'm quite happy with the sample - and I will probably block it - but there are a couple of things it did tell me!
1. Dyeing before knitting is too haphazard and restrictive. I'm not going to be able to predict what is going to happen if I don't control the pattern. So I'll be knitting first and I'll paint the finished piece with these colours. I do like the colours.

2. This is not a long piece it is a wide piece. Therefore I will be casting on 200 sts and knitting for about 20cm - approximately. The only problem with this is how am I going to mount it? Any ideas?
All fleeces have been washed and are drying. Maybe some more dyeing today.
I'm off today to the 9x5 viewing committee to have a look at some new applicants for the stall. Always interesting to see what others are doing.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Let's start something new

I thought I'd better get started on a whole lot of new projects. This also means finishing off at least some spinning. So I've got some English Leicester and Merino fleeces sitting in cold water to start the washing process. These will be then used to:

1. Dye and spin into yarn for weaving into a wall hanging. A new series combining plastic and yarn.

2. Spinning and knitting into a knot scarf, which will be documented and then hopefully written up as an article for Spin-off. A little daunting, but at least I've made a start!

The next project is to dye some of the linen to knit a sample for my 'Knitting the Kimberley' piece. Dyeing small amounts is fun and to try and minimise the mess......I always get myself in a mess....too impatient......I decided to put small cups in a pot. Worked well. I tied the linen in four continuous skeins and dyed the alternate skeins the same colour. I used a brown and blue which, given I just picked up what Procion dyes I had and mixed the brown with red and black, fairly haphazardly, I am pretty pleased with. I've kept the left over colours for reference. Knitting next.

PS. Just remember, that even though you need to tame the yarn, don't tie it too tight, as you end up with little white dots.

I also finished the fibre sandwich skeins, we created at Experimental Spinning in December. The first I did by wrapping around a white core and binding with the same white cotton. The second I spun a fine black single and plyed trying for a knot yarn. It turned out more of a squiggle than a knot but I still like the effect.
You do get so much done when all the boys are out all day at the Australian Open Tennis!

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

A lovely day for a playdate

Yesterday, with friends, food, books and textiles we spent yesterday lunch and afternoon, talking, laughing, eating, thinking and of course, there were plenty of textiles. What a great way to spend the day. Thanks Tammie, especially for the sheep!

Unfortunately, Sunday wasn't so successful. Again, I didn't sell anything. From an overall point of view, whilst not alot of people came to the market, it was enough to think that you could build on it. I tried my new line of 'wrist warmers'. I do need to find a more interesting way of displaying them, maybe another tube or two?

Having abandoned my double knitting scarf, I've started a black and grey scarf, inspired by 'Knitting New Scarves'. Using the idea of picking up stitches down the centre of garter stitch rectangles/squares as a starting point, I decided I didn't want to make different sizes and then link them together, and sewing in ends(!), so instead of casting off for each square, I left the last stitch, picked up the stitches from that rectangle and cast of extra stitches, knit that as before, then using the last stitch of the previous colour, used that as the first stitch in the pickup. I quite like the effect and there are many more possibilities in this technique.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

The Abandoned Scarf

Remember the scarf that was the one! Well it isn't! It took me FIVE hours to knit about 5 inches. I abandoned it in favour of making something a little simpler. It did get me thinking though, about all those beautiful things people knit for themselves or loved ones. The lace shawls, cable jumpers, fairisle anything... Are the only people who have access to these beautiful things, people who make, or people who are loved by someone who makes?

What does this mean for those of us who wish to sell what we make? Are we always meant to find the easy/quick/cost effective way of making something? If not, how are we to find the people who understand about the quality and price of the handmade? How, are we to create those people?

If you have the answer, let me know.......

On a lighter note, whilst at the beach, I went to the Warley Home annual book sale. It's big and full of second hand books at ridiculous prices. One year I want to get there the first day rather than the third or last day. I did manage to find this book for $2. 'Stylish knitting: from handspun or commercial yarns' printed in 1988. It's not really interesting for its 'stylish' designs, but that it uses handspun, but not your average 2ply things like: knickerbocker yarn, slub, knop, boucle and curled loupe yarns and puts them in far more 'fashionable' articles than the usual handspun. And there are instructions courtesy of Mabel Ross.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Book bargains and seaweed

I've arrived back from Phillip Island, having escaped the worst of Melbourne's heat. I thought I'd share some of the things that inspire me, or, really just amaze me with the beauty and diversity of the world.

The first is 'the seaweed series'. Walking along the beach, which does get quite a bit of seaweed washed up on the shore, I suddenly noticed the amazing diversity and it struck me that I should do a photographic series, maybe even use it for the 10x10 challenge in February. Having forgotton to take my camera on this trip, I diligently photographed for the rest of the week. I did however, feel a bit odd at times standing and to all intents and purposes photographing sand and not the view!

It is amazing the changes each day and I think I'll keep this up.

The other is yet another bargain book: 'Rainforest: a photographic journey'. It was $80 before Christmas and just $15 after. I snapped it up. It is full of the most beautiful photography: plant, animal and insects. Poor hubby, he was the one who was supposed to be spending his Christmas gift voucher at Angus & Robertson, and he couldn't find anything!

Thursday, 3 January 2008

This could be the one!

I've been wanting to knit a scarf that turn out to be very expensive. I think this is the one. Fine rayon and wool yarns knitted on No14 needles. It took me ages last night to knit this much. Though I must admit I could have been distracted by 'Black Books' on the TV. They're the first of the series and I don't remember watching them. Who can resist: alcohol, craziness and books!
Anyway, this is going to the beach for finishing.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

You can never have enough books!

It's arrived! all the way from England, courtesy of the Book Depository website. A good friend showed me her copy and I couldn't stop looking through it, much to her delight. The book is 'Knitting New Scarves', and I don't usually buy another pattern book. This is an amazing exception and lives up to expectations as you keep looking through.

There are so many ideas in this book that it was hard picking only a couple of pictures to show you. I like this grey, as it's just slits and she's added the embelishment later. That could be anything. Long icords, flowers are just my immediate reaction.

Creating waves like this is just having a fabric which is either shorter or in this case, different sized stitches on the front and back.

What is also really interesting is the way some of the challenges of making commercial scarves and still make them interesting enough have played out for her. Using garter stitch, knitting scarves in the round. These are the basic ideas I've been playing with. It's really good to know that it's a reasonable way to go.

This book is going to take quite a while to digest. There are even a couple of scarves I'm going to have to knit from the pattern to see how she does it.

If you want to make scarves, make a space in your library for this. Thanks Catherine.

Note: 'Knitting New Scarves' by Lynne Barr. Published by Harry N. Abrams, Inc. New York, 2007

Note: The Book Depository.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Back to the Spinning wheel

Spent a couple of days relaxing at the beach before celebrating New Years in Melbourne in the sweltering heat. I know that doesn't quite make sense, but that's what friendship is! I did manage to finish a scarf and finish this multi-coloured spinning.
As you know I started the large skein and created the different colours by painstakingly pulling it apart and then wrapping around a core. However, I thought I might try spinning differently with the last little bit I had left over. I decided to spin it using the fold over finger method of spinning. This was very effective and much quicker.
I'm going to set the two skeins, mostly to make them easier to handle and I think I'll incorporate them in some weaving. It's given me an idea to create another lot of hangings and I think I'll dye some English Leicester in different colours, mix them up using a picker then spin it up and weave it with plastic as I don't think any colour is going to work. Should be fun.