Friday, December 26, 2008

Running behind on life

I stole the title phrase from a fellow blogger friend of mine. It fits perfectly at the moment.

That massive list of gifts I intended to make.

Yeah, it didn't happen.

The lace scarf for a friend. I've discovered I HATE knitting lace in 2ply. Seriously. It's a simple lace pattern really. Too simple. I started it at LEAST 5 times, probably closer to 10 times if you count the amount of times I cast on with the long-tail method then ran out of tail with 5 or so stitches left. And I managed to knit an inch or two - at the longest, I think, three inches thereabouts - before I royally stuffed up the pattern.

Lifelines are my friend. However this was not a lesson I heeded for this knit. Everytime I thought about putting a lifeline in, I stuffed up the pattern, and had to frog the thing anything. I would still like to finish it... if only to say "so THERE" to the project as a whole.... but right now I'm so hacked off with both it and myself that the yarn is sitting (and probably tangling) on the end table of unfinished projects.

Next item: Katerina's Op Art blankie. Well, it kinda was finished, and kinda not. I ran out of wool two stripes away from the edge. Rats. But hey, it's big enough to at least be a pram / throw blankie for a baby / kid, so I shrugged that off. I finished the knitting of it around 2am on Christmas morning. The blocking, however, not so much. It still needs to be blocked. But before I do that, I must finish weaving in the ends. The hundreds of ends.

Katerina's OpArt

But overall, on the 'right side' it's not too bad. Even without blocking.

Katerina's OpArt

The pattern was nice as well... garter stitch in the round, so a pain in the bum in that regard... but still better than seaming (and thus dealing with MORE ends). Also just when it would tend to get boring, it'd be time to change colour... so that kept it lively, for a garter stitch blanket. I used the WOOLganic wool I bought in a co-op a friend ran, and it is simply devine. The wool is slightly lighter than the one reccommended in the pattern, and thus I used the recommended needle size for the wool rather than the pattern, but I probably could have afforded to go up a needle size. Mind you, the blanket's not too thick - but it would have done fine being slightly looser. And thus would have stretched the wool further and had a bigger blanket to boot. Now, however, I think it will just be winter blanket.... that sucker is WARM.

Other projects:
Socks for hubby. Didn't get done. Didn't get started. Looked longingly at the wool a few times though.

Double-knit scarf for my step-mother. Did get started. Discovered double-knit is a bitch. Got to the colourwork and didn't have a clue what to do. Will have to do some reading somewhere to figure that out, unless anyone has done this technique and can tell me.

Knit toy / bear / doll / bunny / whatever for Zamara - didn't happen. Didn't even buy the wool for this one. Slightly sad at myself for it too, Zamara didn't have anything handknit by me for Christmas. I also had plans to do her a rainbow dress, but that didn't happen either. Road to hell, best intentions, yeah, that's me. To save face (to myself, because seriously she's not even three yet and does NOT know the difference) I sewed her a crayon roll at 4am on Christmas morning.

Crayon roll

The sewing of it is crap, but hey, she's two....

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Accidentally by design

I got this lovely 4ply yarn in the hand-dyed yarn swap on TNN.

Yarn Swap 2

The suggested yarn was for opera gloves, but I wasn't convinced I'd wear them... plus I've recently finished fingerless mitts anyway, so I'm a little over it. But because of the wonderful vibrant colours, and the 4-plyness, I figured it'd make a darling little something for Katerina.

But then I had a devil of a time finding a pattern for a cute dress or frilly top that was written for 4ply yarn, that was a free pattern and that was cute. I found several things for thicker yarn, and several things that were wintery, but I wanted something light and summery.

I did find one pattern, that called for more yarn than I had, that wasn't quite what I wanted, but it was almost the right weight of yarn (5ply instead of 4ply) so I figured I'd fudge it, and knit that since it was the closest thing I could find to what I really wanted.

Except then I altered the pattern so it was done in the round.
And then I figured I'd rather not have it be a cardigan at all, because I rarely put cardigans on babies, and certainly not in the late spring and/or summer.
So then the item 'became' a dress.
And then did away with the sleeves.
And then I did a gauge swatch to determine how many stitches I actually needed to cast on, since it was no longer the same ease (as cardi's are different to dresses in that regard) and since it wasn't the right weight of yarn anyway.
And then I changed a few things about the bodice, too.

So all in all, I have a lovely dress that was inspired by a different pattern, but the only thing it actually has in common with it is the lace stitch pattern. Which is just any old lace stitch pattern.

I'm still to name this outfit, but I'm thinking either the Butterfly dress or the Zamerina. I want to knit one in a plain colour too, to better show off the design of the actual knitting too.

That's not the best picture, it's not nearly as crooked / lopsided as it looks.

And on my incredibly uncooperative model:

My only slight reserve is that I should do something with the arms, to tidy up the rolled edges a bit. But I haven't bothered, and to be honest, it doesn't worry that me that much.

Friday, November 21, 2008

It's finished...

The Venus top is done.

Venus Envy

I have mixed emotions about it.

a) I'm thrilled to be done with it, I'd originally intended this to be finished a couple weeks ago but what with exams and life it just got put on hold (with all other knitting and sewing projects)

b) I'm really wishing I'd done the Large instead of the 1X size. I think it would look better with more negative ease. I originally planned to make the large, but my gauge swatch came out too small, so I figured I'd size up since using larger needles resulted in too loose a fabric... it would have left nothing to the imagination. Which wasn't quite my intention.

c) I think part of my feelings with this is coloured by the photos of me in it - somehow I hadn't realised I'm that big. But, meh, oh well.

I had a couple minor issues with the pattern.... but they were minor in the run of things... certainly didn't really effect my knitting of it.

Venus Envy

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Blanket overambition

Apologies for the utter silence, my life has been full. I've now officially finished the semester - which might just squeeze me a BA if I end up passing a certain course - and with exams and parties and family hum drum there's been little time for knitting, and even less for blogging.

I'm still trucking away on Venus, but I'm now the the not-quite-finished but incredibly impatient stage. I'm OVER it and just want to WEAR it already. It's no fault of the pattern, it's just me being almost, but not quite, done and impatient with myself.

Meanwhile, I'm planning and plotting - and all my upcoming (but not yet cast on) projects seem to be blankets.

Firstly I'm knitting the OpArt blanket for Katerina for Christmas. Because I still haven't finished her baby blanket, and I'm thinking although I still intend to finish the blanket, I don't intend for it to be her baby blanket as such anymore. Now that she's born, she needs a more girly one.

Secondly I'm doing an Afghan for my husband's sister, who's getting married in March. It's a wedding present. I'm debating between the Tree of Life blanket (Rav link) or just a granny square style blanket with variegated yarn. Still haven't decided. Might not until I cast on.

Thirdly I'm thinking I'll do another baby shawl, for a good friend of mine. She doesn't know it's coming, I'm not sure she reads the blog.... but I'm wondering if that's overcommitting myself at all. Hmmm. I guess really I just want to do another shawl, cause in the end, it was fun ;-) So it's a good excuse!

We'll see what gets done though. So far I've only bought the yarn for the OpArt blanket, though I have some variegated that I'll use if I go that route for the Wedding Afghan... will likely need to buy more of those colours, but I have enough to start.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Because I'm procrastinating

Might as well do the knitting meme I saw on Sassenach's blog - because, well, why not?

The official rules are mark with bold the things you have knit at least once, with italics the ones you plan to do sometime, and leave the rest.

Afghan - I'm actually planning to make one this coming year..... best laid plans and all. ;-)
Garter stitch
Knitting with metal wire
Shawl - several, now
Stockinette stitch
Socks: top-down - done heaps!
Socks: toe-up - tons of socks, and yet, haven't done these yet.
Knitting with camel yarn
Mittens: Cuff-up
Mittens: Tip-down
Hat - lots. Adult hats, baby hats. I quite enjoy making hats.
Knitting with silk - I've knitted with blends of it, but never anywhere near pure. Would like to - would love to be able to *afford* it!
Moebius band knitting
Participating in a KAL
Sweater - two 'vests' / sleeveless sweaters for me, one sweater for the toddler, which I figure counts :P
Drop stitch patterns - I have one in my queue....
Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn - had some plans to do this not too long ago, but it hasn't eventuated...
Slip stitch patterns - did a dress with a bodice that utilised a slip-stitch pattern.
Knitting with banana fiber yarn - originally I wanted to do some of this, but I've since heard that the yarn is scratchy and horrible.... so I may just forego it.
Domino knitting (modular knitting)
Twisted stitch patterns
Knitting with bamboo yarn - I've done pure bamboo yarn and blended with cotton. Blended was by far my preference.
Two end knitting - huh??? I'm not even familiar with this!
Charity knitting
Knitting with soy yarn
Cardigan - well, a baby sized cardigan. But obviously I counted it. Started planning one for me though, so that must make up for the other half ;-)
Toy/doll clothing - would like to do some for Christmas
Knitting with circular needles - all. the. time.
Knitting with your own handspun yarn
Graffiti knitting (knitting items on, or to be left on the street)
Continental knitting - my main mode of knitting
Designing knitted garments
Cable stitch patterns - enough to know that although I often like the look of cables, I don't love the actual knitting.
Lace patterns - hated them at first but it's really growing on me. And love the finished look of it.
Publishing a knitting book - ohhhhhh but it'd be nice!
Teaching a child to knit - I have no doubt I'll be making
American/English knitting (as opposed to continental) - enough that I can fumble my way through it, but that's about it.
Knitting to make money - well, a little bit. Would love to do more.
Button holes
Knitting with alpaca - can't say I love alpaca that much. It's very soft.... but it sheds like mad.
Fair Isle knitting
Norwegian knitting
Dyeing with plant colors
Knitting items for a wedding
Household items - do dishcloths count?
Knitting socks (or other small tubular items) on two circulars
Olympic knitting
Knitting with someone else’s handspun yarn - kinda. I've used Manos de Uruguay - so it's handspun, but not like by someone I know. I've also knitted with yarn my friend Lou spun... but the item it was in ended up getting frogged, so I'm not really sure if that counts. Thus I have the experience, but not the proof.
Knitting with DPNs
Holiday related knitting - not counting Christmas gifts I take it, as that's another item.
Knitting for a living
Knitting with cotton
Knitting smocking - something about this scares me. Which is probably all the more reason to do it.
Dyeing yarn
Knitting art
Knitting with wool
Textured knitting
Kitchener BO
Knitting with beads
Long Tail CO
Knitting and purling backwards
Machine knitting
Knitting with self-patterning/self-striping/variegating yarn
Stuffed toys
Baby items
Knitting with cashmere - I've done a blend, but not pure. Oh, if only for the budget for it!
Knitting with synthetic yarn
Writing a pattern - I didn't design it, but I wrote it in "pattern speak" for a friend.
Knitting with linen
Knitting for preemies
Tubular CO
Freeform knitting - a couple items worked brilliantly. One item in particular was an epic fail.
Short rows
Cuffs/fingerless mitts/arm warmers
Knitting a pattern from an online knitting magazine - funny, I've knit a pattern from an online magazine but not from a printed one. Despite having bought several, with full intentions of knitting patterns from them. Some day. Eventually.
Knitting on a loom
Thrummed knitting - say what?
Knitting a gift
Knitting for pets
Knitting with dog/cat hair
Hair accessories
Knitting in public

Venus Emerges

Only a small post from me today - I'm supposed to be studying. I have three exams in the space of a week next week (Wed, Fri, and Sat) and I am extremely underprepared.

But of course I'm still knitting.... it's much easier to knit while watching an active, mischevious toddler, than to try to concentrate on reading 18th century texts.

The only progress has been made on Venus though. I am a woman obsessed.

Unfortunately the photography sucks on this, so apologies. The shell pattern looks far cooler in person.

Venus WIP

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Something so perfect

It's rare that I see a pattern, think, "right, I'll knit that!", and have the yarn, and then go, and cast on.

By rare, I mean it's never happened before.


Until this weekend, when I saw Knitty's Surprise - Venus. I love it. Love it. LOVE it.

And it just so happened that I have the perfect yarn for this in stash. Not only do I own it, I own enough for the whole project. Which is even rarer for me, because buying in adult-size quantities is a very new thing on the whole for me.

Like, I still don't really do it.

But this was a special case.

The yarn, that is, was on special.

It was outside the door (y'know, in the "look at meeeee... fall in love with meeeeee" place right before you enter the shop) of Wild and Woolly yarns. It's the Naturally Merino et Soie, which I worked with before for Zamara's baby blanket, and I love it.

It was a pack of 10. On special for $65 for the pack - not selling individually.

I'd gone there for one set of double-pointed needles. Which they didn't have, but nevermind. I walked out with a 10-pack of yarn.

But in my defense, you don't get deals like that everyday. Not for a yarn as wonderful and soft and silky and pretty as this.

The yarn was a gorgeous blue, similar to that not-stonewashed, fresh crisp denim you can get. A slight hint of femininity without being a "girly" colour. It was just, so me.

So far I've knit an Odessa hat out of it. Which I like quite a bit.

Odessa Top

As does Zamara.


But since then the yarn has been sitting, still in it's plastic bag, all 8-and-a-half balls of it. In fact I walked past it the other day as it's one of the yarns that hasn't quite made it to a permanent place in the stash yet and thought "I really need to figure out what to make from that".

And only a day later saw the Venus pattern.

It was, if you will, sent from the gods.

So I've cast on, and that's my current project of preference.

Venus Envy

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I can't help it

But it's getting to be that time of year.

And I really like the theory about not partaking of Christmas stuff until Christmas. Or at the very least after Thanksgiving.

Except that it makes life as a knitter - particularly a knitting-as-gifts knitter - very hard.

So despite the fact there's still two months til Christmas, I've definitely started my planning.

Thus, here is the list that I'm currently planning as gifts...

For my youngest daughter
, who will be 9ish months - Radiating Star Blanket (Ravelry link). I haven't bought the wool for this.... heck I haven't PLANNED the wool for this.... or really done anything except decided that it'd be quite nice to knit one, thankyou.
Miss Dashwood Might have yarn. Might not. Need to go stash diving.

For my two year old:

Sheldon Except, erm, yeah, no yarn for this yet....
Miss Dashwood Might have yarn. Might not. Need to go stash diving.
Possibly another little knit doll too (pattern's in a book I have but I haven't gone searching for a linky) depending on time and chaos levels.
Plus a couple dresses - at least one sewn, and possibly one knitted. Would like to make both girls a matching Rainbow Dress, but that may be constrained by time.

For my mother-in-law:
A series of dishcloths. I have plenty of yarn for these already, thankfully. Have toyed with the idea of something else as well, but can't think of anything 'just right' that she'd both like and use, so dishcloths it might have to be.

For my sister-in-law:
Socks. She's already requested them, I'm just behind. May see if I can snag some more Patonyle while it's on special, and dye it up special.

a very special scarf for someone who 'might' just happen to read this.
A couple other things for people who are highly likely to read this.

And, ohmygosh. It may not be Halloween yet, but it's less than two months til Christmas, and I have major knitting to do!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Projects Update Post

So I'm almost at project saturation point again.... almost. Almost.

Currently on the needles I have the kimono for Kate. Which is coming along nicely if I do say so.... but each time I work on it I grow more and more convinced that I will NOT have enough yarn. Rats. Have to place another order with the Wool Company.... what. a. shame.... don't know how I'll manage that! ;-)

Buglet's Kimono

Still on the needles as well are Kate's longies. Which I haven't made much progress on. So no photo because there's not a lot to show....

I did have a sock on the needles as well, since I always have a sock going. But the more I sat knitting it, the more I thought it was a smidgen too big. But like any dedicated knitter, I kept knitting it, blindly hoping things would work themselves out.

Until karma stepped in when I went to photograph said sock.

Leg of KnitPicks Essential socks

Now look closer.

Peacock Essential Socks

Yup. Took it out to photo it and the needle came out. Guess it's a sign. So, sock is now frogged and I'll restart it sometime soon... with a couple stitches less cast on this time.

New on the needles, I have a lace project! This is groundbreaking for me. It's actually a friend's wool, she bought it with good intentions of making a lacy scarf (it's 2-ply wool!) but didn't get to it. So I offered to do it. Hopefully it'll be a nice change from other stuff I'm knitting, plus if it works out I know what I'll be doing with some 2-ply wool of my own. It's Touch NZ wool, which is divine to work with, in a lovely earthy colourway.

Honeycomb scarf

And lastly, I'm about to cast on for a top. For ME! Just saw it today and I'm in lovvvve.... AND miraculously enough have the perfect yarn already in stash. SCORE! More details to come, seems a bit of a fraud to say I'm working on it before I've actually cast on.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A wee lesson on dyeing

Last time I dyed I had multiple people express disappointment that I hadn't photographed and blogged the process.

Thankfully I learn from my mistakes!

Thus, my most recent batch of dyeing.... revealed!

Now, I can't take credit for the process at all. My favorite method of dyeing (and the one I use here) is the low-water immersion dyeing, as seen on Paula Birch's Dyeing Website. I don't deviate much from it... although she talks about dyeing fabric, I've expanded it to include dyeing fabric OR yarn.... with pretty impressive results.

So, starting out. Both the batches of yarn I was preparing to dye were purchased in ball form, so I had to skein them (i.e., pull them out from ball form). Thankfully I have a swift and didn't need an especially long hank, so it was an easy process. And boring process. (Read: I forgot to take photos). Once I have my skein, I'm pedantic enough that I try to tie it with alternate yarn (any waste yarn will do really) in at least four places - any less than this and I usually wind up with lots of tangles when I try to get them back into ball form.

But, once hanked, this is what they looked like.
Ready to dye

The one on the left is my swap yarn, 100g of Patonyle. The two on the right are Sean Sheep yarn, labelled "100% Australian wool", bought at the Warehouse for $1.99. And I'd understand if you're thinking about things that are too good to be true...

Next - the yarn needs a bath. This important with any yarn / fabric before dyeing but especially so with wool, as lanolin (naturally occurring in wool) and dye (of any sort) aren't the best of friends. Plus it gets any other chemicals, or random spots of dust / dirt, out as well. I bathe mine in dishsoap as it's particularly good at removing lanolin.
Wool having a bath

While the yarn is soaking (I try to leave it for 15+ minutes) I assemble all my tools that I'll need. I've discovered after some trial-and-error that doing it this way is preferrable to tearing around the house with dye all over hands (and sometimes body) trying to find that last, essential, item. Y'know, like gloves...
Tools for dyeing

Next I scrunch it up into as small containers I have that still fit the fabric. In this batch, I threw in a plain flat cloth nappy just for kicks and giggles as well.
Ready to Dye

Then I mix the dye (a couple teaspoons of dye powder, more or less depending on shade required, with a cup of water) and pour over the fabric. For this lot, I did the on the left (with the cloth nappy in it) solid purple, and the batch on the right in orange (made with guesswork of mixing a lot of yellow with a very little red) and black. Aim was to get something vaguely tiger-like, but to be honest I haven't used multiple colours dyeing yarn this way before so it was a bit of guesswork as well too. (I have, however, dyed fabric this way before and it works a treat.)
Dyeing in progress

Then I add water until it 'mostly' covers the fabric / yarn. In a few cases I have to weight down the yarn so it doesn't just float on top - this is what I did on the right.
Dyeing in progress

The fact that most of the dye on the tub in the right rinsed out when I added the extra water was my first and most telling sign that I would not get the tiger-ish colouring I was hoping for. It's normal for the dye to lighten a touch (as it did on the left) but not to rinse nearly completely out.

Then it sits.

Then I add some dissolved soda ash to it, and let it sit some more.

Then I rinse it out - and it's in this stage one should start seeing close to the final product of the dyeing.
Yarn Swap yarn

And after that, it just needs to dry. How aggressive I am at squeezing the water out depends on the yarn.... pure wool I'm pretty careful with, the Patonyle I knew I could be a bit rougher with. Then it just hangs, to dry.

And yes, the yarn is mauve. Almost peach. Nothing like tigers. Bah. I'm blaming it on the yarn. It did cross my mind that perhaps I should have stripped it more (there are several other methods of doing this) but quite frankly I've never had to do more than a dishsoap soak with any yarn I've ever dyed, be it with Procion dyes or food colouring. Ever. So I'm actually starting to be a bit suss that the label is correct when it calls the yarn "100% wool". That or it's been treated with something very funny indeed. Then again, maybe they just have really weird sheep in Australia.

Finally, once it's dry... I twist it up nicely, or wind it. And marvel at the wonder I have created.
Lilac Wood Yarn

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Knitting in Catergories

This is as much an answer to SweetP's Works in Progress post as anything else. Plus it's time to update my current works-in-progress anyway.... so it's a perfect opportunity!

I don't have much currently on the needles actually. Mainly as I've just finished off a bunch of things - so I'm feeling just a touch bereft at the moment. But, I do have some things I'm working on, regardless.

First and foremost there's the Kimono Top that I'm knitting for Katerina. I'm sweating through this knitting really as I'm not convinced that I have enough of the white for the whole project. I could, of course, order more - it's freshly received 4ply merino Baby Wool from The Wool Company - but I'd really rather not. So instead I'm knitting with white knuckles and attempting not to waste wool. It's a Debbie Bliss pattern from her Baby Knits Book. I've not knitted it before, but I've made other Debbie Bliss patterns and found that it didn't use as much wool as it said it would.... so.... here's hoping.

Katerina's Kimono Top

This is a relatively simply knit, but it is in 4ply, so thus going slower. I'm starting to have a love of 4ply however... it does take longer, but it is so scrummy, soft, and almost delicate. I chose this pattern because Katerina needs a woolen top for wear as pajamas at night as she typically wears woolen pants, and needs a top that's not one that snaps at the bottom.

It's in purple and white.... because that's what I had on hand. I wouldn't have necessarily done white as a main colour, but I'm liking the way it's coming out.

Katerina's Kimono Top

And in the same vein, the other thing on the needles at the moment is pants for nights for Katerina. I'm running short on wool with these as well - so I'm not sure at the moment if they'll be bloomers, or shorts, or longs. I don't rightly have enough for longies I think, so if I go that route I'll have to do two different wools for the main part of the longies, to stretch it out. But so far I'm just playing it by ear.

Katerina's Soaker / Pants

As to "catergory" of knitting, these are a Knitting in the Dark item for me. I nearly always have a pair of longies / shorties etc on the go and these are my project of the moment for that. Also in the Knitting in the Dark catergory, I usually have a pair of socks on the go as well. Currently, however, I don't.... though now that I mention that, I'm itching to cast on a pair! The main reason I don't is because I finished these only last week:

Rotating Rib patonyle socks

They're the Rotating Rib socks as originally seen on The Yarn Harlot's blog in conjunction with her Basic Sock Recipe. They're the first pair of socks I've made for myself in quite awhile now, and they've been on my feet ever since I finished aside from when they were in the wash!

Also just finished was a quick knit - Instant Gratification - which I cast on shortly after sending the shawl to it's new home. Thus, the Double Moss Dishcloth:

Double Moss Dishcloth

Currently I don't have a BIG project on the go - but am about to start Wicked, just as soon as all my assignments for Uni are done!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The story of a shawl

I have very little currently on the needles.

I've also had very little knitting time lately.

My biggest project of late has been working on an heirloom shawl for the second baby of one of my dearest friends.... to be born any minute now. Technically she commissioned me to do it, but it was very much a work of love nonetheless. I used a vintage pattern from a Patons book that my Mother in Law has, and used Naturally Haven 4ply in cream. The pattern called for 8 balls - although it called for a 3ply wool instead of 4ply. I bought two balls originally, to do swatches and test knits - then bought a pack of 10 balls. I figured that should be plenty.

I did swatches - two, actually, because my first one didn't work out to gauge. And as I knew I'd have plenty of wool, I recrafted my first swatch into something else - a little clutch bag as a present for a 5 year old daughter of a friend of mine. For that, I did a trim with some Peter Pan 4ply acrylic that I've had sitting in the stash for nearly as long as I've been knitting, and embellished it with little girly things that I could find. It was also my first time lining a bag... and while it's not a brilliant job, it did the trick.

Bag for Florence

Bag for Florence02

Then I started knitting the shawl. The body of it is garter stitch, which works for me as I try to always have at least one 'mindless' project on the go, so that I can multitask. The shawl worked well for this, although not as portable as other projects due to it's expanding size and it's colour.


And slowly, the shawl grew.


Until finally the garter stitch part was finished - all 29 inches long of it.


Then came the lace part. I'd been secretly quite wary of it - I'm not an expert lace knitter, and my brief forays into lace previously had taught me that I don't often have the patience for it. I like projects that move quickly and show lots of progress - lace does neither. Plus it's much harder to 'fudge' any mistakes in lace. But lace is what makes an heirloom shawl, so it had to be done.

Once I started knitting it, however, I realised it wasn't nearly as bad as I'd worried about. Sure, every side when I picked up the stitches I had to do it two or three times before getting it 'right', but that's mostly because it's hard to get 108 stiches evenly distributed among 160 stitches. And I certainly had my moments of 'tink'ing (backwards knitting) where my count / pattern had gotten off as well.

Once I started the last side, I was about to start my last ball of wool, and realised that there was no way I could do the lace edging AND the border on top of that as well. I tried three different yarn shops and all told me that Haven 4ply in cream was sold out - let alone the specific batch number I needed. Finally it was decided that the border would be left off entirely - I thought the shawl looked good as is, and wasn't worried about it being too small.

I needn't have worried. When I went to bathe / block the shawl, once it was wet, I stretched it out on our bed to dry. On our queen size bed. And was amazed at the sheer size of it.


Finally - with my recipient now 38 weeks pregnant - I couried it off to it's new home. Apparently she's quite pleased with it - she sent this picture of it awaiting the new arrival:

Shawl at it's home

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Bag That Never Ends

I've been working on this bag for about a month now. It was inspired from this bag which I have been coveting since I first saw it. I'm doing it for a swap, and I'm fairly sure that it will suit my intended recipient to a T. This bag was one of the many projects that was supposed to be finished before I gave birth - in reality, it wasn't started until after I gave birth. I feel rather sorry for it, as a project, as I just haven't given it the time it deserves. I'd knit a bit on it, but then be needed by the baby. Or the husband. Or the toddler. Or I'd start knitting on it after everyone was in bed, but then I'd grow bored of the constant knit stitch. And being that I did the bottom bit in garter stitch, and the body in the round.... it was ALL knit stitch. Plus it's neither my favorite yarn or my favorite colourway - which is okay, as it's being made for a friend - but that didn't help the motivation any. And the fact that it was just SO LARGE - which was necessary, as I was going to felt it - also didn't help, as I'd knit several rounds and still feel like I wasn't making any progress.

But anyway. The knitting part of this is done. Finally.

And I was so eager to be 'finished' with it that I tossed it in the machine with relatively little thought about things, and felted it. In truth I quite like the way it felted up, and felting definitely suits the yarn I used (from The Tin Shed). But only after the fact did I realise that I'm not sure where to go from here.


I don't know how to block a felted project. But I have a sneaking suspicion that it should have been done before I let it dry.

I also meant to add embroidery to it. Which I also, in hindsight, think should probably have been done before I felted it.

I need to line it as well - thankfully it's not too late for that. However, I have no idea what I'm going to line it with. Very few of the fabrics I currently have match. One which does match, I'm not sure I have enough of. The only other one that matches is earmarked for something else, but alas I haven't started that project yet, so maybe it's "a sign". And I have no idea if the intended recipient will like any of the fabrics in question.

I do like the bag. It's the first felted bag I've done, and I'm rather pleased with how it's come out, so far. But I really don't know where to go from here!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Knitting, The Bitching

This post has two parts. I'm summarising now so that those only interested in skimming can skip whatever part you prefer. There's the knitting - which is, well, knitting. And there's the bitching. Consider it like a one-sided stitch-n-bitch.

The Knitting
I frogged what I had of Justify today. Originally I didn't know if I liked it, so I put it aside completely and totally for a few days to let it sit. And the more I thought about it the less I liked it. It might have been okay for me, in the end, and even then it might not have been. But it certainly wouldn't have been good enough to gift away, which is what I had originally hoped to do with it. So I ripped it, ripped it good.

And I decided on a new technique - same idea, different application - for Justify, and I started again. I like the look of the new technique better. Basically it uses the same colours and even in similar combinations but in much, much smaller doses per time. Leading to either a million and one ends to weave or a helluva lot of Russian joins. So far I've done both. I'm hoping that if I deal with the ends in fits and spurts, it won't be quite so tedius. And I'll avoid the massive yarn-hairball that may otherwise result.

The bad news is that I only have about six inches done.
The old:

The new:
New Justify

The Bitching:
I've been thinking a lot lately about value, women's work, knitting, and making a living. Or hell, at least surviving. This probably isn't terribly surprising considering the fact that I like to think that I run a business. It started from a very interesting discussion on the Knittyboard, which I didn't participate in but just read. Most experienced knitters have heard it before - you can't make money out of knitting. Not the act itself, at the very least.

It was pointed out in the discussion that you can, you just need a market that appreciates quality materials and hand made products for you to get anywhere close to a realistic wage for knitting. And I'm well aware there are people out there. However, I'm convinced that they're not Kiwis.

At the same time as I read and reflected on this discussion, in my main forum The Nappy Network there's a bit of a price war going on. One person has her mother knit soakers in Australia, ships them over here, and retails them for $15 a pop. Another knits like crazy (I'm assuming, based on output) and puts soakers up on TradeMe for $17 - $20 a pop. And still another sells here and there and mostly through word of mouth for around $17 a pop, including for larges.

Now, I'm a yarn buyer as much as I'm a knitter. (My husband would argue that I buy more than I knit, but I'm working on that.) And all of these items are pure wool. Most are NZ or Australian wool. This stuff ain't cheap. The cost of materials alone is likely somewhere between $8 and $10. Here I consider myself a reasonably quick knitter, but it takes me around 6 - 8 hours to churn out a soaker, longer for a huge one or one with colourwork. So these people are working, in many cases, for less than $1 per hour. And frankly it pisses me off. Not just from a competitors standpoint, that refuses to sell myself so cheaply. But also from a women's standpoint, which seems to me the bigger issue. Women devalue their own work, and similarly the work of other women, so much, that this is what is has come down to. After all, it's "only knitting". It's "nothing". It's "a hobby". It's "spare time". Who are we kidding? All of us put vast amounts of ourselves into our knitting. To have it sold to the lowest bidder, and thank-you-ever-so-kindly for "helping me out."

I guess it's no wonder that there's still a pay gap between genders. It's what we ask for.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Stash Diving

Stash diving is great fun. As is pulling out loads of scrap wool and partial balls.

I started knitting Justify partially for just that reason. I have a bunch of partial balls I don't know what the heck to do with. Some of them are large enough to make tiny hats.... and some aren't. I figured I probably have enough now that the colours are at least partially complimentary.

I'm starting to question the wisdom in that, though. As I've been knitting, my opinion keeps changing on the item. One minute it's cool, eclectic, hippy even. Patchwork-esque. The next minute it's a horrible blob that matches nothing and any sane person wouldn't wear in public.

I originally started knitting it for a one-skein-item swap. Granted, it's more than one skein's worth of wool, but we have free reign to use scraps. I figured this way would ensure that I gave above-and-beyond in the swap without technically breaking the rules or the spirit of the swap. Now I'm thinking that it's just as likely the receipient will be repulsed by the item - so if I do keep it, in a knitted-up, non-frogged state.... it'll likely be for me.

Great, I know my own tastes.

But I still don't know if I would wear the thing.

I'm hoping that using entirely one colourway for the edging will help it out - give it a cohesiveness that it's currently lacking. Because right now it's looking rather hobo-chic, and I'm not sure that's in fashion at the moment.

So, without further disclaimers, I present the work-in-progress that is Justify


It didn't occur to me before now... but perhaps the name of the pattern comes from trying to Justify why anyone would actually knit such a thing!