Tuesday, 27 December 2011

How many socks can I knit in a week?

It's a strange week, that week between Christmas and the New Year. Almost like an extra week. You've got over the rush of Christmas, there's not really much to do for the New Year, unless YOUR hosting the party! I'm sure it's just another week, if the weather is cold and wintry, but here we're in the SUMMER holidays.

For my family, we all head off to the cricket. India vs Australia. It starts Boxing Day and takes a meandering 5 days, well, that's what it's looking like. I was keen to go and see Sachin Tendulkar attempt to make his 100th 100, but didn't quite make it today. Great to see a legend though and possibly his last tour here.

Where do the socks come in? Well I don't HAVE to do anything this week, it's not January, December work is over, so I've decided to knit some of this sock yarn sitting there, not quite in my stash, because I'm supposed to knit them.

The first one is the 'mojo sock' by Donyale Grant out of Yarn Magazine, Vol 11, Issue 23. She blogs at and if this design is anything to go by, is a lovely designer. I'll have a look another time.

I've done one and 1/2 socks and should finish this first one tonight or tomorrow morning depending on the cricket....oh and the washing!

I like this design, it's asymmetrical and has endless possibilities, plus it's toe up (never done before) and an afterthought heel (never done before) with a magic cast on (successful attempt this time).

Thursday, 8 December 2011

A finished project

Finally finished the jumper for my oldest son. I'm quite happy with it, though the sleeves are longer than I would like....HE likes them. The colours for the fairisle pattern have worked out really well and he does look very handsome when he's wearing it. Yes, despite the warm weather, he has worn it out at night.

The pattern is from the Yarn Forward (now called Knit, for some strange reason, they renamed the magazine, so I can't pick it out from all the other '...knit....' magazines. An original name would have been nice, I'm sure they used a focus group to decide that!) and I did wait a along time before he decided that he wanted me to knit a jumper for him, but it was worth the wait.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

It's a zauber ball

With the view of spending our winnings, we ventured on a road trip to the delightful Sassafras in the Dandenong Ranges. YES winnings, Jen, Sarah and I won the Sheep to Shawl competition held at the Melbourne Royal Show this year, and as a prize we received a voucher to spend at the wonderful Sassafras Wool Store.

The Sheep to Shawl is organised by the spinning crazy that is Marion Wheatland. She is crazy, the ONLY person I know to take a spinning wheel to Antarctica in the world! We had four teams, though three were beginners, we won, of course, but failed to beat our time of last year. It was a wonderful day talking to each other, and talking to the public. Great fun and we will be there next year!

So, having finally found a mutually suitable time, well almost, I did have to leave after just finishing cake at the delightful cafe right next to the Wool Store. But we were there at the same time, long enough to buy our wool and have lunch and entertain L :) as she scooped yogurt all over her face!

The Sassafras Wool Store is amazing with plenty of incredible yarns and lots of other things to browse, but I had come to buy a zauber ball.
and I couldn't resist the colour and feel of:

These will turn into a pair of socks, of course. However, I still have to decide what to do with the zauber ball.

The Dandenongs were beautiful, the company wonderful and I have some new yarn. What more could you want?

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Sometimes inspiration is simple!

Sometimes the best inspiration is the desire to give something to someone you love.

In the building of our extension, oldest son (Michael) had his room re-arranged and updated. Much nicer with lovely windows over his desk, good blinds (?) and a wardrobe. Unfortunately, he is the only one with:
bare floorboards. Great for the rest of the house. The rest of us have cosy carpet to keep our toes warm on a cold Melbourne morning. So a rug is called for. Colours?
This is the lightshade in his room. If you look behind you can see the tasteful paint colours (my choice) don't necessarily go with the shade (father's choice and M's approval), but when outnumbered go with the flow.

The warp has actually been on my big loom for awhile, but I've finally got around to the weaving. Having worked out that I do have enough yarn to make the size we want (more luck than good management), I've been steadily working on:
It's a Krokbragd pattern which is a very simple 3 shaft technique, the main aim is to play with the colour patterns. I started with plain black and now have incorporated all three colours and will continue the current striping till the black runs out, then add extra cream till the orange runs out and then the middle will have the remaining cream and then reverse the lot!

I love weaving at the big loom, it's such a physical process. It's wide enough that you have to move from side to side as you throw the, quite heavy, shuttles. It is a rug, so they are quite heavy with thick yarn. Your feet are moving as you change pedals to change the shafts that are required. I love it!

The only downside to Krokbragd is that it is quite slow as you need three passes for one 'row'. I have extra warp on and hope to weave a couple small rugs. I'll probably do at least one more in Krokbragd, but in a thicker yarn and then see how long it takes.

Right now I'm just enjoying weaving for Michael!

Saturday, 24 September 2011

It's what inspires you that counts!

Inspiration can come from all sorts of sources, yet for many of us it is 'the yarn'. The 'must have' that gorgeous texture, feel, colour or just it's plain craziness!

I am having that reaction with the wonderful silk and stainless steel yarn from Dairing. I managed to get to their Richmond shop in Lennox St. to find a beautiful store. Yarns and more colours and their wonderful designs. I was there to buy yarns, which I did....
but I also checked out an amazing range of yarns, from the stainless steel to linen to linen paper. So now I have something to play with...
Linen paper! I saw a jacket knitted with this and, I think, it was the silk and stainless steel and it was gorgeous. It keeps suggesting to me, for some unknown reason, crochet, so I might team it with some mercerised cotton and a crochet hook and see what I come up with.

What I'd like to have a look at is their amazing designs, clothing and jewellery. Again, beautiful design and maybe a gorgeous something to wear for Christmas!

I was so excited by my purchases, that I've done three scarves for the market. They're done on the knitting machine and I manipulate the fabric to try and create folds that force the fabric to behave interestingly. I think it works!

I do feel a bit of a fraud when I say that ALL the previous scarves have sold.....I bought the first cone at the Handknitters guild and despite it being the only one it went, so next, at the Sheep and Wool show I bought two and a play cone. The play cone is still being played with but the TWO have gone. I did make a mistake and only bought four, when I'd written in my diary, buy time. It is surprising, as usually people need a choice of colour, but there seems to always be someone who just loves them.

So here are the next three:

Now I have to go and put tags on all  the finished pieces, in time for Rose St. Market tomorrow.

Monday, 22 August 2011

UFO's the journey continues...

Remember my post about my personal unfinished objects? Well the first one is finally finished! Here are my lovely pair of socks.
I think, now, that I've done enough socks to know what I like! So the next pair will incorporate all those elements that I would like in a plain pair of socks. A k2p2 rib at the top, slip st heels AND toes, and, of course, the right length for each foot.
Of course they're already started with some yarn that was a gift from a good friend. And then there's...
the yarn I picked up at Bendigo!

See what happens when you finish a UFO, you get two more!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Bendigo in a day

The Australian Sheep and Wool show in Bendigo (or Bendigo, Bendi, or other terms of endearment) is an annual pilgrimage for those of us that appreciate wool in all its forms. This year, with the train being replaced with a bus service due to works on the line, we decided to take a car and travel together. This enabled the usual chatter, plus the bonus of a side trip to the Bendigo Woollen Mills.

I managed to spend all my money (?) on beautiful yarns, wonderful tops and NO fleeces (I have TOO many unspun fleeces.) I've even managed to pack them away....sorry....before taking pictures!

I did manage to see sheep! There's always a wide variety of breeds and the judging of the fleeces can be viewed and increases your knowledge of breeds and quality. I did manage to have a quick look at the Cashmere and Mohair goats. Next year, I'll make it to the alpacas!

A trip through the various woolcraft sheds is never complete without a visit to Lewis Harper, the wonderful wood turner.

The Woolcraft competition is wonderful, with a shed full of spinning, weaving, felting, crochet. Young and Novices and the more experienced testing their skills and displaying their craft...and...

the Experimental Spinning group won first prize in the group entry class!

So, a brilliant day, with good company, laughs, treasures, finds and plenty to keep me occupied for awhile, at least till next year!

See you there, sometime.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Just cleaning and steel!

I thought I'd better see what was remaining on the little camera. Silk and steel! A lovely yarn picked up at the Handknitters Guild fair from Dairing a new crowd in Richmond with some wonderful yarns.

Because of the silk and steel mix this yarn has a memory. If you squash it, it stays somewhat squashed. I had to try it. However, it is expensive, so I ran it through my knitting machine. They recommended a tension of 8 which is quite loose, however, the added stiffness was probably the reason. I did it on 7 and tried to create folds to try for more 3-d effects.

I was reasonably happy with how quick and how interesting it was. It displayed nicely on my little neck stand and was sold at Rose St. Artists' Market last Sunday.

So it was a success and I will be definitely be making a trip to Dairing to see what goodies I can play with.

A new toy!

It's been awhile since I had a new camera. I've been using my husband's very lovely little Nikon coolpix. It's packs quite a punch for a little compact. But I had to move on.....

It's a lovely Canon from Ted's Camera store, they had an end of financial year sale and I think I did very well. Unusual for me, especially when all I wanted when I went in the store was a battery for the Nikon and a quick look at what they had. Haven't always been happy with the service at Ted's but the lovely lady at Northland was very helpful and I couldn't resist.

Suffice to say I'm happy and now I'll have to take more pictures!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

UFO's and other excuses.....

Ok, so I haven't blogged for awhile. I'm busy. It shows....

Usually, I don't have many personal works on the go, but they've escalated. (Almost out of control!)

First, there's the lovely deep green short sleeved cardigan that I've been working on for awhile. I'm up to the sleeves with only the last ball left, so I have to do them in tandem from the top down till I run out of yarn. It's messy, so not so good at Snb or on the train.

Then there's a pair of socks I started at SnB one day when I'd forgotton some needles, or something and 'had' to do something, and 'nearly' finished at a slow day at Rose St. I do so want more socks.

Then, there's my niece, who's just turned 21, the first of the next generation. As well as a beautiful hand-made box from Ivanhoe Makers Market and the talented Smiljan, I wanted to knit her a blanket, just for her. After finding the pattern, and the yarn, I managed to get it almost half-way by her birthday, I am going slowly along, and the deadline I set myself is likely to pass by. Sorry Hayley, but it will get there.

Then, my gorgeous son, Michael, has asked for a handknit jumper.....hooray! I had just the pattern. He liked it. We decided on the colours. I've ordered the yarn from Bendigo Woollen Mills, it's arrived. I've started....

And finally, I've ordered the yarn to go with the Twist Collective pattern I bought and am really looking forward to knitting.

Oh, and that doesn't take into account the unfinished Yarn Forward knitalong blanket and the black cardigan I want to design and knit. I haven't designed for awhile and I know just exactly what I want to do!

Then add on to this all the fingerless mittens, shawls, scarves and assorted goods that I need to stock my market stall. All the drawing, painting and printmaking that is proceeding slowly as I work on my minor, works on paper, second year project. Various other assorted projects, it's a busy year. I'd like to say that I'm going to regularly get back to blogging, but who knows.

I have worked out a setting on my camera which has given me some lighting freedom, (thanks Leanne - photographer extraordinaire!) so here's hoping.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Experimental Spinning

I continued spinning my 'water' yarn and finished it in time for the 10x10 challenge at Experimental Spinning.

I filled a bobbin with 'water' and on another I finished off the top spinning finely, which I plied with the thick, then Navaho plied the remaining fine.

After all that I had these two skeins:

I am very pleased with the contrast between the two yarns and feel that I've managed to capture some of my original thoughts about the nature of water.

In search of further inspiration I went in search, through the magazine stash, of pictures of water and discovered, not surprisingly, that water displays itself in many forms. Here is some of my selection for your inspiration.

Isn't it amazing! The colours, the texture and the possibilities that might be revealed with further exploration. Hopefully, I'll manage to use these well in the creations for this year.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

One HOT Sunday

Last Sunday was the Handweavers' and Spinners' Guild Yarra Bend Spin-In, which is held every year on the last Sunday in January. Not a great time to spin, it is Summer, but was inaugurated in the Bicentenial Year and as Australia Day is January 26th.....Anyway it has become an annual event, I've only been attending on and off for the last few years.

It is lovely to sit next the the river, the Yarra, under a large shady tree with friends, old and new, and spin. This year is was predicted to be HOT. I did go, as did a number of stalwarts and it was lovely. I did leave at lunchtime, so beat the worst of the day. I had lunch and a movie with hubby; highly recommend 'The Kings Speech'!

I was working on my 10x10 challenge for Experimental Spinning which consisted of some Ixchel Angora/Merino blue top which I had purchased TWO years ago at Bendigo during the Australian Sheep and wool show and which I really needed to use as I still have this years purchase.

Water, was my theme, it seems to preoccupy all of us at the moment, though today has been replaced with thoughts of wind and those that have to face it.......

I decided to wrap the top around a cotton core thinking about water, it's smoothness, roughness, waves and calm. I like it so far.

I do have to finish it and ply it (with what?....don't I always have this problem?) by Saturday.

Oh well,

Saturday, 29 January 2011

I keep starting new stuff!

What I should be working on is my weaving, so I'm blogging about that!

For some new scarves I decided to wind a beautiful cream linen warp. I have enough for three scarves, which is what I have been doing since restarting my weaving. This is about as imaginative as I get, three different variations. Hopefully, as I explore different weaves I'll become more experimental and imaginative!

The pattern I've chosen is a shaded twill. The weaving is easy as it is a straight twill treadling in the first variation, which is what caught my eye. The variation is just another twill treadling. The 'trick' is in the warping. This is in the variety of 'grouped' thread twills. In this particular twill, threads are grouped together on the same shaft, and also, other parts limited to only two shafts.

I've just started the first scarf using a linen/cotton yarn in a light brown or dark cream...whatever! So the difference is quite subtle. So subtle that I almost abandoned it in the first inch. I did manage to talk myself out of that and now I'm quite pleased. (Sorry, photo will follow soon!)

I will do the second variation in a slightly thicker and brighter yarn, maybe yellow. The third variation is as yet unknown, but will consist of a colour?

The book that I'm using is an oldie but a goodie...'A Handweavers Pattern Book' by Marguerite P. Davison. It's all four shaft patterns, they're very well explained. So much to look at, it's really hard to choose which one to try.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Isn't January a funny time?

You think you have all this time to catch up with projects, jobs, friends, exhibitions and find things half done. So, I've started quite a few things, but haven't really finished much.

I did finish this though:

I know, it's another shawl, but if you look closely, it's a new pattern and one I'm really happy with. It consists of actually picking up fabric and hooking it onto the knitting machine and continuing knitting, creating a fabric that moves and is more three dimensional. There is a first one, but it disappeared at Rose St. very quickly. It was beautiful in a really gorgeous cream cotton that I only had enough for one.

The other reason that I like it, is that this one seems to represent another step. I've been doing alot of machine knitting, but it's not something that I have ever done alot of, except, of course, when I had to learn how to use the machine, an intense 6 months. The shawl represents, for the first time a style that I feel reflects my aesthetic and a more professional approach to mistakes, and a more capable ability for fix mistakes.

It's as I've often said, the test of a skilled and professional person is not how well they do the work, but how well they deal with the mistakes.

I feel happy to have reached this milestone.

And, I did manage to go and see an exhibition: West Africa: Rhythm and Spirit at the Immigration Museum. Well worth seeing, as are most of the exhibitions at this lovely Museum. This particular exhibition is worthwhile just to see the two minute film showing a group of men and boys weaving. Breathtaking!

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Cricket in Sydney

Yep, hubby, youngest son and I drove up to Sydney for the last test match of the current Ashes cricket tour. After a disappointing Melbourne test we hoped for, at least, a high spirited effort by the Australian team. We saw lots of runs made (by the Brits), lots of good bowling (by the Brits), an incredibly vocal Barmy army (supporting the Brits) and a win (by the Brits)!

The Barmy Army was amazing, not only confirming that we should be a republic by their very pointed rendition of God Save the Queen. (It can't come fast enough.) Not only this but they managed to steal Waltzing Matilda; though I couldn't make out the words, which was just as well as their Mitchell Johnson chant was very pointed!

Anyway, it was lovely to see the Sydey Cricket ground, with it's heritage Members stands and being a smaller ground, how close you felt to the play.

Of course, if you go to the cricket you have to take some knitting. Sitting in the sun on a couple of hot days did slow me down but I did get some done.

I chose to take this pattern from Vogue Knitting Holiday 2008 edition. It's working up beautifully with the yarn I purchased with my Sheep to Shawl win prize of Zara by Filatura di Crosa. It's a beautiful yarn, very soft but with good definition so you can see all the work in the pattern. I'm not sure I have enough, but if it becomes a sleeveless vest that's OK with me. That's what I'm likely not to be able to do.

For the spinners, this yarn is very interesting. It is a very high twist yarn with a beautiful softness. This has alot to do with the Italian extrafine Merino, but also that the twist is achieved by combining SIX two ply yarns together. Whilst there is alot of twist overall, each component is softly spun. This is much easier to achieve with machines as there's alot of spinning. I'm very happy with my choice!

Sunday, 2 January 2011

This is not what I'm working on?

You know how it is in's a break, a chance to try new things and experiment and do all those things you've been dreaming of, over the year. Now's the chance. I really wanted to do lots of weaving: rugs, scarves and really play with my new loom. I really wanted to do some experimenting with the knitting machine.

This would all be possible, as the new extension has enabled us to set up a big workbench with all the tools in the new garage and my workshop is now dedicated to just my stuff. Wooppeeee!....well after we move everything, (finally done) and I rearrange and store and sort out all the mess, (in progress). All good....

Except this is what I have been working on:

Yes, it's French knitting. Please don't ask me why I'm not knitting an icord instead. For some reason, knitting icords is sort of annoying and this is sort of nice. I'm just using up scraps from my stash. I really can't throw out any fibre, even the browns! and I'm making a rug. I think in the end I will sell it. I'll probably only charge for sewing up time, as that's the only bit I don't enjoy about this project, and it takes along time. I've already spent FIVE hours sewing up.

The next one will be for us. I'll know how long it will take, how much yarn I'll need and I'll be able to plan it a bit more than this one. I look forward to that.

For now, it's just fun!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

A New Years Resolution

As another blogger bemoaned her lack of blogging and the wish to regain her momentum, said "Isn't that what new years resolutions are for?". All I can say is 'Yep'! So here is my first blog for 2011.

I have been a bit thin on magazine reviews, for no other reason that my head has been IN the magazine and not here. A little bit of luck on New Years Eve provided me with the latest edition of Vogue Knitting (or Designer Knitting after it has been sent to England, repackaged and sent here! Hasn't anyone told them that England is the WRONG direction!) I didn't expect anything but there it was.....

I love this:

and this:

and would love to modify this dress to something else!

Oh, and here is our lovely extension. It is finished (basically) and we've furniture and TV and it's the lightest and biggest room in the house. We love the terrace and the view!

Unfortunately, the landscaping is still to come. 2011 project....I thought it would all be over.

Anyway, I hope your New Year celebrations were filled with friendship and fun and achievable resolutions. See you somewhere, sometime, I'll be the one with the busy hands!