Not a Happy but a Wonky Hooker

I’ve been suffering from two itches lately. An itch to crochet something – I reckon it has to do with the weather warming up – and an itch to knit more quirky hats. So on the weekend I started a project that ought to satisfy both itches, the Yeehaw Lady hat in The Happy Hooker.

Now, while I learned crochet as a child, and have hooked confidently with wild abandon before now, I’ve only recently attempted to follow patterns. This has led to some interesting discoveries. Like the fact that the first loop to work is apparently different depend on whether you’re doing a sc/dc or a dc/tr. (And the whole Australian/US terminology translation thing doesn’t help, either, but I’m getting used to it.)

I figured if I followed the directions for the hat closely I ought to be fine. And this pattern told me when to follow the sc/dc first loop rule and when to ignore it and skip the first loop. So I was a bit perplexed when the top of my hat looked less like a symmetrical pear and more like a paisley fractal.

The red line indicates where the rounds begin and end, the yellow is the line of increases at the front point of the hat.

I figured this might block out and continued on down the sides. Now, I know I made a mistake with the joining of rounds for the first few rounds, so the bulge on the right side of the hat is entirely my fault.

But the twisting in different directions from one stitch pattern to the next… I have no idea where that came from.

Now, I will admit that I didn’t check for errata before I started. But today, when I went looking for one, via the publisher’s site, crochet forums, shops and blogs, all the links led me to a “This page cannot be found” message. Mind you, the errata for the Ladylike Lace Gloves created more problems than it fixed, so perhaps I’m better off.

Still, the instructions do make sense. I’m more inclined to think that there’s something seriously wrong about the way I do crochet that’s causing all this twisting. I just haven’t a clue what it is.

And since I don’t have any florist wire for the brim I can’t finish it anyway, so I think this might be one of those “put the crochet down. Now back away slowly. Make no sudden moves. Now get back to your wips” moments.

Knitterly Update

Thankyou to everyone who left birthday good wishes. We’re still making our way through the cake, one rich delicious sliver at a time.

Lately I wonder how I ever used to find the time or a good subject to blog nearly every day. None of my three wips are at a point where a photo would be worth taking. Which one I work on depends entirely on what sort of knitting I can manage, and sometimes I’m so zonked I can’t manage any at all. I’ve taken a project on at least three car trips but instead spent the entire trip just gazing at the scenery, simply enjoying having time to think.

Projectwise… the Diagonal Stitch Cardigan body is complete up to the armholes for the back and up to the shoulders for the fronts. The first Hedera sock is still only a few cm long. The first Quick and Dirty sock is a few cm past the heel. I’ve played with the shaping, but I won’t go into the details until I’ve finished and I’m satisfied with the result.

Reading materialwise… I found Interweave Crochet yesterday at, of all places, my tiny local newsagent. They also had the last IK. It’s strange how they’re so low on the newsagent heirachy that they get IK weeks after it’s available elsewhere, but they got IC at the same time. I wonder when the holiday issue will appear – if it does at all. Anyway, this IC is a good ‘un. Some nice garments in there.

Stash enhancementwise… nothing new. Hmm. I really should email the shop that was ordering in the yarn for Tomato for me. They said it would arrive mid-October.

And finally… For cat lovers, go watch this animation. I laughed so hard I cried.

They Say It’s Your…

The ‘bonfire’ cake the beau made for me. (Though the icing was a joint venture for the second attempt due to some unclear recipe instructions, and I had to snap off the top of the ‘logs’ to fit it in the cake tin, it still looks good and tastes great.)

I’ve gone from a four syllable age to a three syllable one for the second time in my life. Which isn’t as intimidating as that two syllable one coming up soon.

Wonderful Wondo

So the final sock challenge socks are going to be…

Hedera from Knitty. I started them a few nights ago and I’m loving the pattern and the yarn. The lace is relatively easy to do – just a four row repeat – so I think I’ll be fine with it. When I tried them on I could tell they were going to be a little loose around the ankle, so I changed to 2mm needles.

A few days ago I also discovered that a Lindcraft store was opening within an hour’s walk or five minute drive from home! It’s not as wonderful as a great LYS opening around the corner, but it’s still pretty exciting.

Today, after a rather disappointing look around an antiques fair, the beau and I dropped into Wondoflex in Malvern. All I wanted was a price list on table looms, but somehow these leapt off the shelves into my arms:

Since making a Kureopatora’s Snake Scarf earlier this year out of pretty-but-knot-ridden-itchy-mohair-content Noro Silk Garden I’ve wanted to make another I can admire and wear out of Paton’s Shadow Tweed. And maybe a hat to match.

As I carried the big squishy balls, cradled like a cat, up to the counter I could see the sales clerk was trying not to laugh. I told her what I was really there for was a price for 4 shaft table loom, which I was thinking of buying instead of upgrading to a bigger knitters loom. She took me over to the demonstration knitters looms to show me a way of achieving a herringbone effect by slipping the long reed through the back. So I told her about the modifications I’d made to mine, and we had a great little chat.

So now I’m thinking I’ll experiment some more, because if I can use this method with the $275 wider knitters loom it’s a lot cheaper than a $765 table loom.

I have to say, I’ve never had a bad experience in Wondoflex, and today was extra nice.

SC#6 William Street Socks

It’s been all about the house stuff these last few days and I’ve barely turned the computer on as a result. The days are ticking up to the extension being a year overdue and down to us being able to start using all the new rooms. Yesterday the washing machine and dryer were finally moved from on top of the bath to the new laundry, and I was able to treat myself to a bath at home – in the old rusty bath – for the first time in nearly two years.

Of course, I felt terribly guilty about the water use. But then, after having brought all my linen and towels over from my old house, added them to the beau’s and culled them, I’d spent most of the day washing five sheet sets, a load of tea towels and napkins, and a pair of dressing gowns. I have a new respect for parents of large families. And after several years of washing my sheets in cold water to save money, then having packing them away for two years, I had to give them a good long dunking in soaker then a long hot wash to get them back to their original colour. By the end of the day I felt like I must have drained a dam somewhere, and sent all sorts of toxic wastes down the drain. The bath seemed tame in comparison.

But after soaking my aching limbs in some hot water, I was able to persuade my stiff muscles to finally finish these:

Pattern: William Street Socks from Interweave Knits Fall 2007
Yarn: Heirloom 5ply.
Needles: 3 mm bamboo dpns
Comments: Because there are so many stitches to allow for the bulk of the cables, the cuff at the top is a bit loose. There are instructions for a narrower leg, but no measurements provided to help you judge if you need the narrow size. Now that they’re finished they’re not so loose that I’d want to reknit them, though. Otherwise a good pattern.

They’re warm and pretty, so when the temperature dropped last night I put them on. The cabling is bulky so these are best worn without shoes. I would have worn them to bed except I wanted to be sure they looked good for a photo today.

Only one more sock pattern to knit in my Bust Out of the Box Sock Challenge. I have my non-wool yarn and I’ve chosen a pattern from Knitty. But there are power point covers and toilet roll holders to install, so it’ll have to wait until next time I get to the computer.

In Vogue

On Sunday I went to the Camberwell market, and afterwards I popped into a few newsagents to see if I could find the new Interweave Crochet or the Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts. I have to admit, I have no idea when they’re supposed to hit Aussie stores, so I wasn’t overly bothered when I didn’t find either – not even at Borders. But I did find the Vogue Knitting International 25 year anniversary issue.

I’d almost decided not to buy the anniversary Vogue, because I’d read somewhere that there were no patterns in it. But there are patterns. Lots of patterns. Ironically, while I like quite a few, I’m not in a frenzy of must-knit-now over any of them. Instead I’m loving the articles. Oh, the articles. They are good reading.

There were three more copies there, if anyone’s interested. It’s the newsagent opposite and a little uphill of Borders.

In the meantime, still working away on the Diagonal Stitch Cardigan, William Street and Quick & Dirty socks, and trying to ignore the call of quirky hats, crochet, and the new wider version of the Ashford Knitters Loom. It’s already too warm for hats, crochet can wait until I have a few less wips, and if I buy another loom, I’d like to have lessons, and perhaps buy a table loom instead.

Stash In, Stash Out

Despite telling myself that entering my stash contents into Ravelry was low on the priority list, I spent several hours two nights ago updating my stash spreadsheet. Maybe my real motivation was procrastination. Maybe I wanted to get a handle on all the yarn I’ve bought recently. Maybe I felt the need to cut out some ‘dead wood’. Maybe I wanted to check for moths (there have been quite a few fluttering about here lately). Maybe the whole Ravelry thing is making me want to list and record things.

Or maybe I wanted an excuse to fondle all my yarn and get high on yarn fumes.

The result was the discovery that I had over 20kg of yarn, 5kg of it purchased in the last month or two. The other result was that I had some honest discussions with myself, which led to culling over 1 kg. Here’s the resulting bag of yarn heading for the op shop:

I have to make a small confession. Part of the contents are made up of some yarn I culled previously, but which never quite made it out of the house due to the possiblity of a friend’s mum wanting it, and a few balls came from the box of acrylic, which is for ‘emergencies’ and ‘crafts’ so I don’t consider it stash.

Most is yarn I picked up for free or very cheaply, so I’m not tempted to sell it. I don’t have the time or energy right now. It’ll end up in an op shop around Mitcham somewhere, most likely. Which is fine with me. Op shops kept me in yarn when I was broke, so it’s always nice to contribute to them in return.

Afterwards I opened the yarn section of Ravelry, looked at all the fields I’d have to fill in and inwardly groaned. It’s taking 9 seconds for most pages to open right now (yes, I do have broadband). I decided I was right at the start: entering my stash is low on the priority list.

But having an updated spreadsheet is sure to be useful. And I got to fondle all my yarn.

Zig Zagging Along

I swapped over from socks to knitting the Diagonal Stitch Cardigan for the last few nights. I’m knitting the body as one piece, in the smallest size. Unfortunately, this meant the diagonal stripes didn’t match up under the arms. But with a bit of tweaking and a lot of tinking I had them lining up, and then I was able to add some waist shaping.

An amusing omission from the pattern is any indication of how long the body should be from hem to underarm. Considering it does specify a particular length zip for the front, you’d think there’d be a measurement for the body.

Otherwise the pattern is simple and clear. The yarn is nice to work with and the stitch pattern very intuitive. I’m not looking forward to sewing the front bands on, though I can see why they’re done that way. But I am looking forward to wearing this when it’s done.

Streetwise Baglady

I’ve been looking for the ideal sock knitting bag for a while now. I had a vague list of requirements in the back of my head. The bag needed to be just the right size, attractive enough to carry around no matter where I went, rigid enough to not fall over when set down, I should be able to carry it ‘hands free’ if needed without it spinning around (as a drawstring bag does), and it should be a reasonable price.

While I was in Canberra I spotted a bag in the window of a shop called Inspirations. Unfortunately the shop was closed at the time. I went back the next day, but it was a Saturday and it had closed a mere half and hour before. But I noted the opening hours and finally on the Sunday I got there when the shop was open and examined it closely.

I liked it so much, I bought my hostess one as well.

It’s not quite perfect. My sock needles don’t fit but I’m satisfied that, in their plastic protector, they’ll be fine poking out the top. I had to unpick the velcro fastening because it was tearing at the silk lining and replace it with a press stud. But otherwise the bag works very well. I can hook the loop over my wrist and both hands are free to open doors, dig something out of my handbag, or knit.

It’s been carrying the William Street socks about since I bought it. Last night I finished the first one:

Halfway through the foot I had my doubts about this pattern. The cables are very bulky and require a bit of wrestling to complete. But once I’d finished a heel and tried it on I felt the sock love, and that propelled me on to finish it and cast on the second.

I’ve learned some unexpected things with this pattern. It uses a cast on technique for the toe-up toe that I’ve never encountered, but which omits the need to knit into the back of stitches. The way the short rows of the heel are done is nothing like the wrapping technique I first learned, or even the reverse wrapping used on the Cat Bhordi socks I frogged. I like the former but I’m not sure about the latter.

My second ball of Crystal Palace Panda Cotton arrived yesterday, so my next destination this morning is Knitty, to decide on a sock pattern.

New Shiny Toy

So. Ravelry.

I must admit, I had my doubts. Why go to all the trouble of recording your stash, fos, books and needles online, especially if you’re not inclined to do so privately? Would anybody else be interested in the stuff you have? If they’re interested in the stuff you’re making, why not just go to your blog and get a more detailed description? Do we need yet another forum?

Well, the only way to get answers to these questions was to put my name on the list. After all, if I didn’t like it, I could unsubscribe/cancel my account/whatever. (Assuming, of course, that they don’t work like Bravenet where once you sign up, you can’t un-sign up and you’re stuck with their spam forever.)

My Ravelry invite came a few weeks back so I headed over to check things out. At once I could see a huge advantage in all this recording of knitterly stuff. You can investigate a pattern you’re thinking of knitting so much faster google allows, finding out about errors, adjustments to the pattern and successful yarn substitutions. You can also investigate a yarn, and see what others have made from it.

This is very, very useful. It motivated me to put some of my own fos in, thinking that the info might be useful to anyone doing a search on the pattern or yarn used. However, I began to see straight away that entering projects that didn’t use a pattern or yarn in the Ravelry database might not be worth the effort. It’s not going to help anyone and since I’ve already recorded it in my blog why bother putting it in Ravelry as well? Especially when uploading pics into Flickr and setting up the project in Ravelry isn’t exactly fast. This might be worth noting if you just don’t have the time to enter all your fos. Stick to the ones that use patterns or yarns in the database if you’re low on time.

On to other features. I friended a bunch of people with blogs I read. I’m not yet sure what the benefit of this is yet – why not just visit their blogs? – but I’m keeping an open mind. There may be features I haven’t encountered yet. If you know of any, let me know.

Then there’s the groups. Oh my. Much hilarity. There are groups based on knitterly things like shops, podcasts, designers, favourite fibre, needles, knitting groups, etc. Then personal things like location (I joined the Australian Knitters group straight away), name (there’s a group for Abbeys, for example), university, job, car, star sign, hobbies (other than knitting) and more. Oh, and your illness. Think of a condition or disease and you’ll find a “Knitters with …” group for it. Then there’s the fan groups, with groups for everything from books to tv shows to film to radio shows. There’s even a group for knitters who haven’t read Harry Potter books. Just browsing the list of groups gave me many gigglesnorts.

The advantage of so many goups is they’re smaller and more easily navigated than a single forum with all Ravelry’s members. They’re also a lot of fun. I just had to join Knitters with Minis. So far there are two threads discussing which mini we have and it’s nickname, and if we’ve knit anything for our mini yet. (The answer to the latter was ‘no’, which got me thinking about what I could make, and putting the pattern online for my fellow Knitters with Minis.)

But the group title that got the biggest gigglesnort from me was this one:

Knitting Military Spouses*

Wow. It must take an awful long time. Of course, you could just go out and buy yourself a blow up doll, but I guess this one’s for those who like a bit of anticipation in their relationship.

Grammar does matter. It really does.

(*Of course, I have nothing against anything military. This title would have been just as hilarious if it had been “Knitting Martian Spouses” and even more so if it had related to my own line of work: “Knitting Fantasy Writer Spouses”.)