Wild Things, I Think I Love You

Finished these on Sunday night:

My own toe-up pattern, around 5cm longer than I usually knit socks, with no embellishment. Who needs embellishment with such pretty yarn?

Blogger wouldn’t let me post all the pics I wanted to for the last post, so I left this one for the next post. These two books were waiting on the doorstep for my return. They’re both full of fab stitch patterns. Lots of inspiration.

I’m having the same experience with crochet as I did early on with knitting. Oh, I knew the basic stitches and principles, but the more I looked into knitting, the more amazing techniques I discovered that I hadn’t heard of before. Mosaic knitting, lace knitting, fair isle, short rows, broomstick and illusion knitting. Now I’m goggling at Tunisian crochet, filet crochet, spikes, relief, crochet cables and solomon’s knot.

I’ve always liked crochet, but I had no idea it was so diverse.

Of course, once I’d finished Wild Things I had to start another pair of socks. I didn’t feel like knitting the St Ives for the beau yet and selected the cushy goodness of Mega Boots Stretch instead. The two plys are a constant olive green and a burgundy/red/orange graduation. I’d knitted half the toe when I realised these were suitably manly colours, so I checked with the beau and he pronounced them acceptable.

This is going to become the Mega Manly Socks.

Just before we headed off camping I had made some progress on the Vero Jumper. Last night I was finally able to get stuck into it again.

I’m really liking how the strips are coming out. It’s like knitting self-patterning socks – watching the colours change is fascinating and keeps me knitting. Its also a bit giddy-scary. I have only limited control of the colour changes. I can only guess and hope that they’ll line up in flattering combinations.

As for the other two projects in my WIP list, I do keep making progress on the Kimino top, but since it involves acres of stocking stitch it’s definitely a long term project that’ll just have to burble along in the background. The Red Blanket… I’m afraid I haven’t touched the loom since before Christmas. But it’s proving to be a bit of a long termer as well, and I’m in no hurry to finish.

Unplanned Holiday

Friday before last the beau and I headed up to a national park on the Murray, just over the South Australian border. His Adelaide friends have been camping there every summer for around 20 years, and aside from last year (bad timing with deadlines) I’ve tagged along for three of them.

We arrived and greeted our friends. I picked a spot where I thought no tree branches were likely to fall (the trees up there have earned the nickname ‘widow-makers’ because of their habit of dropping enormous branches) and we pitched our tent. Some of our friends were already swimming in the creek, and aside from the occasional rain shower all was good.

After we all went to bed it started raining. This didn’t worry me. I was too busy having nightmares about trees falling on our tent, waking up, getting annoyed at myself, and going back to sleep. Rain was good. We needed rain. And I don’t mind it being a little wet we go camping. Better than two years ago, when it was 44 degrees c.

Towards morning, I began to get a strange sensation like I was sleeping on a water bed. Then one of our friends roused everyone. The road in was beginning to look like it might turn into a stream, the rain didn’t look like it was going to stop, and he suggested we get out of there.

That’s when I discovered I’d picked a rather large slight hollow to pitch the tent on which had now become a rather large puddle. And I’d foolishly stored my books, sketchbooks and knitting into the front section of the tent, where the puddle was deepest. Here’s what my Knit Lit book looked like after a week drying on the car dashboard:

Within twenty minutes we’d all packed up our tents and belongings into our cars and were heading off. Except that, when the first car reached the road it immediately slid over the slippery clay surface into a ditch. A ditch full of water, which then began to leak into their car. It took us a couple of tries over the next few hours before we managed to push it out. (If I ever go camping again, I’m taking a rubber door mat with me. The one we had turned out to be better at providing traction for the tyres than all the branches and twigs we gathered.)

Since there were several kilometers of clay road to traverse, it was pretty clear we weren’t going anywhere. Repitching wet tents didn’t appeal. Walking out would have taken most of the day.

Fortunately, we had mobile phones. We got hold of the park ranger, who said it hadn’t rained like this in years and from the forecast he reckoned we were stuck until Tuesday – and offered to ship in supplies for us. While some of us could have stayed, in our wet tents, but others had to be at work on Monday. The ranger tried to drive in to get us in his 4WD, but had the same problem with the clay roads and didn’t get far, so he went back to the office and hitched up a boat.

A few hours later we abandoned our cars, taking only essentials and valuables with us, and were ferried back to civilisation. The ranger took us to the office, where we could take showers, have a cuppa, and change into dry clothes. All of which we will be eternally grateful for.

The beau and I could have stayed in the local town until the roads dried out, but we didn’t have a vehicle to get us back to the park, so we tagged along with our Adelaide friends, who had rounded up family members to give them a lift home. That meant staying in Adelaide, carless, for a week.

We learned that we had caught the edge of the storm, and in other areas there had been floods. At least, we hoped the park hadn’t flooded after we left…

It turned out to be a pleasant, relaxing stay. Naturally, I had packed my knitting as part of my essentials and valuables. Unfortunately, most of the projects I’d taken were meant to be do-able in the car without giving me motion sickness – which meant lots of boring stocking stitch. I had thrown in my crochet hook and yarn for making headscarves, and some photocopies of stitch patterns I’d thought might be fun, so they kept me busy for a while.

The red headscarf uses the stitch pattern for the sweet pea shawl in The Happy Hooker by Debbie Stoller. The green headscarf uses the same yarn and an elongated version of the stitch pattern I used for the green headscarf I made for Project Spectrum last year. The blue headscarf was a freeform experiment, where I created the triangular outline of the scarf first, then filled it with medallions and then used chain stitch to connect everything together.

After a few days, however, it was clear I wasn’t going to have enough yarn to keep myself entertained. Then our hostess, who has knit from time to time, brought out some leftovers from garments she’s made and generously offered them to me. Truly, we were well looked after this past week…

The yarn she had gave me an idea, but I would need a 4mm crochet hook and some black yarn. She didn’t have either, and we were carless. But on Wednesday we caught a bus into the city to go shopping and see a film.

First we explored an enormous antique shop. There I indulged in some vintage craft book aquisition:

Then we headed for Rundle Mall, where I found Spotlight and a crochet hook, and these:

And the only yarn I bought all week was a ball of black cotton:

So I could make this when I got back:

Our hosts are rather fond of Totoro. I hope they found this addition to their collection zany and cute…

The last night we were there I knit a 12ply beanie, but since I didn’t have any pattern I had to just wing it, and it turned out a touch small. Mainly, I realise now, because I didn’t remember to add more stitches to allow for the cables. Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo.

On Friday – Australia Day – the beau caught a lift with those of our friends heading pack to the park. Several hours later they returned in their respective cars. Thankfully, nobody had broken into them, nor had they been washed into the creek by floodwaters. Ours was a bit musty, but not overly stinky. We dried out our tents, threw out spoiled food and repacked everything.

Then yesterday we headed home. The road between Adelaide and Melbourne was as exciting as it always has been:

And we experienced the familiar feeling of de ja vu as we passed one tiny town with a giant silo, then another, then another, then another.

I got lots of sock knitting done.

Then, at last, we reached home, where we were greeted by an overflowing mailbox and some half dead plants. We won’t quite feel like we’re home until we have Peri Peri following us around, trying to convince us we’ve forgotten to feed him, but we’ll be picking him up later today.

In the meantime, I’m a little worried about the dead moth I found next to the WIP basket.

But we needed the rain…

I may not blog much this week. The reason involves unseasonal rain and the inevitable effect it has on clay roads, a rescue by boat, and an unexpected holiday in Adelaide. Fortunately I have a few knitting and crochet projects with me. If they don’t last… I may have to add a new rule to my Knit From Your Stash rules:

2.g. Yarn bought while stranded in another state due to freak weather conditions doesn’t count.

Book Order Update

Well, seems I get a refund for the book but not for the cost of posting it back to them.

There are five books in my order, and they’ll be coming in three deliveries. Booktopia’s policy is to send books to the customer as soon as they arrive rather than wait until all books in an order are there, at no extra cost. So I suppose that offsets the postage I paid in order to get my refund. But I’m still left with a vague feeling of being cheated, because I was deceived by the publishers repackaging.

I seem to be cursed when it comes to mail order. About a third of the orders I’ve placed in the last year or so, whether yarn or books, have had problems. Maybe it’s related to the subscriber curse. (Magazines start putting out cr*ppy issues the moment I subscribe.) Or maybe the subscriber curse is just a part of a greater Mail Order Curse. Subscribing is a form of mail order, after all.

I think I will order all books through bookshops from now on. Pity you can’t do that with yarn.

What the…?

Yesterday, when I got home from having lots of hair cut off, there were several parcels waiting at the front door. There was my Interweave Knits and Interweave Crochet magazines I ordered from The Wool Shack. (I’ve been through quite an ordeal trying to get a copy of IK winter.)

There was also part of an order from Booktopia. You may remember me blogging about finding a fab book of knitting stitches at an op shop. I was so impressed that I decided to buy more books in the same vein from this publisher. The book from the op shop is called “The Harmony Guide to Knitting Stitches”. I ordered a book called “450 Knitting Stitches, Vol. 2” along with two other volumes containing more knitting stitches, and one of crochet stitches.

This is a pic of the two covers:

This is a pic of the inside of both books:

They are EXACTLY the same inside. Well, except for the font, and the font is not what knitters buy knitting stitch books for, is it?

Not only do they have different covers and different titles, but they have different ISBNs. How the heck is a customer supposed to know one book is a reprint of the other?

(The wierd thing is, the book was listed as being Vol 1 on the Booktopia page and on my order, but it turns out to be Vol 2. You can’t see the ‘2’ on the image as it is too small. You’d think if the book was a reprint of the original, which isn’t a Vol anything, then the new one would be a Vol 1, not 2.)

I’ve emailed Booktopia about this and asked if I can get a refund or exchange. Haven’t heard back yet. I feel sorry for them, since this is the publisher’s fault, not theirs. But on the other hand, I started using Booktopia because I was not happy with Amazon’s handing (or non-handling) of problems, so I’ll be interested to see if Booktopia’s service is any better. It’s not until something goes wrong that you learn whether a shop is worth buying from.

Project Spectrum 2.0!

I just signed up for Project Spectrum 2.0. The specs are different, but more flexible. You have two months for each project, and three colours to choose from.

February / March: Blue, White, Gray
April / May: Green, Yellow, Pink
June / July: Red, Black, Metallics
August / September: Brown, Orange, Purple

Last year I challenged myself to do a different craft for each colour. I’m not sure what I’ll do this time. Maybe I could challenge myself to do crafts I haven’t touched in years – like calligraphy, silk painting, pottery, paper craft, macrame, wood carving, embroidery…

Actually, that’s not a bad idea. The list of crafts I’ve tried is very long, and gives me heaps of choices. If I find there’s a good reason I gave one up, I can just put it aside and revive a different one.

This is going to be fun!

Just Felt Like Making It (har har)

Yesterday I stuffed the basket with plastic bags, tied it closed, popped it in a lingerie bag and threw it in the front loader with the towels. Ten minutes later I went back and pressed ‘stop’ on the machine.

That’s when I remembered that, while I can stop the machine mid-cycle, I can’t open it. So I set it going again and left the basket to the mercy of the felting gods.

And the felting gods decreed it a good yarn/shape/wash duration/planetary alignment/day to felt:

After searching the house for something suitably ball shaped and sized to put inside while it dried, the obvious answer hit me like a territorial magpie: a ball of wool, wrapped in plastic. It worked perfectly.

As the beau said, now that I have a cute little felted basket… what the heck do I do with it?

My Wild Things socks weren’t being anywhere near as co-operative yesterday. When Wendy of Wendy Knits knit up a pair in this yarn she had no flashing or striping problems. As you can see, I did. But then, I have stupidly narrow feet which must match up amazingly well with Lisa Souza’s dyeing pattern. I’d heard of a method to prevent this so I frogged and started again:

Divide the yarn into two balls, one ball wound in reverse to the other. Knit alternate rows from each ball.

Problem solved!

Don’t Sweat It Socks

Last night we joined a big family dinner at the home of a friend’s mother. On the way there I worked on the cuff of the second Don’t Sweat It sock. Then, on the way home, our car broke down, so I knit under the light of the Shark Fin restaurant sign for an hour or so while we waited, first for roadside service then for a tow truck.

As a result, this morning all I had to do was the sewn cast off and my first pair of cotton blend socks were done:

Yarn: Regia Cotton Surf; 41% wool 34%, cotton 25%, polyamide; 100g

The yarn was a bit stringy and ‘hard’ in texture and doesn’t have much elasticity. Even with all the ribbing they’re a bit loose around the ankles. I’m hoping a bit of washing and wearing will soften them up a bit.

There is one advantage in having narrow feet:

39 grams of leftovers. I could make a pair of anklets. Or mix it with leftovers from the other three balls of this yarn for some extra stripey socks.

Be Daring!

If you haven’t yet heard today’s incredible story about Blue Moon Fibre Arts Sock Club, head on over to Yarn Harlot’s blog. Muggles, indeed!

In retrospect, yesterdays post was a bit strange and that was probably because I wasn’t feeling too great. After roaming around adding interesting looking blogs to my list of favourites (with the plan to have more than two seconds of blog reading to entertain me in the mornings) I went back to bed and slept until lunchtime. After that I felt a lot better.

The cotton socks are past the heel and the weather is back to a pleasant 25 degrees today. I could start on Vero…

I have to confess, the Vero yarn isn’t one I would normally plan to buy. I’m not a big fan of varigated yarns. Yet its greeny bluey blacky enchantment overrode all normal brain activity and I had to have it. Maybe this was because I was on holidays and high on good quality chocolate and great company.

My plan, after I got home and back on planet earth, was to knit something modular, in strips. That way the stripes on the body would be around the same depth as they were on the arms, and it would be more interesting than a plain stripey jumper or cardigan.

I put that idea aside when I decided following a pattern would be faster and less taxing than designing. Besides, I hate sewing, and knitting something out of strips means a lot of sewing. But a few days ago it suddenly occurred to me that I could still do the strips, using the existing pattern, and cut out most of the sewing.

I would knit it as if it were intarsia.

I’d divide the front and back each into four sections, each knit with a different ball, twisting the yarn with the next ball as you do with intarsia. However, I wouldn’t knit it in the round as I usually do. I’d knit the front and back separately. Juggling four balls I can manage, eight will drive me crazy. And since my original plan involved a gadzillion seams, I reckon can cope with two.

Having done plenty of sock knitting during the day (while researching – I so love being able to read and knit at the same time!) last night I tried something different:

A crochet basket, ready for felting. I haven’t tried felting crochet before. I haven’t tried felting in a front loader. This should be interesting.

Works in Progress

I see Blogger is behaving again today. And I don’t have to sign into Google. No sign of Google. Now I’m beginning to worry that this whole sign up with Google thing was a fake and some spammer now has my email address… except that I’m not getting any spam. Maybe it was an antispam spammer.

Here’s my handspun:

I’ve upset the cat today. I got up an hour early because I was just lying there, not sleeping. He’s used to me feeding him first thing so now he’s convinced I’m neglecting my duties.

The beau was going to work from home but changed his mind because at work they have more gutsy aircon. Hmph!

The Grey Kimono Top:

It’s too early to be working, and it took me all of about two minutes to check all my favourite blogs for new entries. I’m bored. I want more bloggy goodness. You should all get up and write fascinating long posts to keep me entertained. Now.

The Don’t Sweat It socks (the idea was to make simple, easy-breezy socks, but when I realised the yarn doesn’t have much sproing I added ribbing… lots of ribbing):

It seems one of the down sides of getting all enthused about knitting from my stash is a bad case of cast-onitis. I want to knit everything now. When my gauge swatch for the Vero jumper revealed I’m knitting a touch tight for the pattern, I decided to knit the size larger rather than go up a needle size, because I’m using the next size up needle for the Kimono Top. I cast on a pair of fingerless mitts, but frogged when I decided that yarn was also too scratchy. (I’m afraid the Naturally merino silk blend I made Fetching out of has set a high standard.)

And I started another pair of socks, in Liza Souza’s ‘wild things’ colourway. It is soooo purty:

As soon as the weather cools down from freakin’ hot to bearable I’ll probably cast on the Vero jumper as well. By then the cotton socks ought to be finished, so it’s not like I’m adding more to my wip list… right?