The Finished Object Stash

Thankyou to everyone who left compliments about the cashmere gloves in the comments of my last post. I’m pleased to report the gloves behaved themselves during the blocking process, which took the curl out of the cabled cuffs so they lie flat and neat now. (You couldn’t see that in the photos. Which was sneaky of me.)

I’ve been mitre-ing away on the vest, watching it grow square by square. A bit of test felting has happened for a Bag Lady Swap bag. I’m heartened to read that other bag makers are thinking of making more than one bag just in case their first attempt doesn’t work. Though whether I do will depend on how much time the first takes.

Last night I also started a gauge square of the grey Cleckheaton Country Silk I bought at the ACS mill shop. I can’t help thinking the Jo Sharp ‘Ribbed Wrap Jacket’ would look lovely in this, with a black collar. The yarn is an 8ply and the bodice of the jacket is knit in aran weight yarn, so I’ll have to do a bit of recalculation. And possibly dye up some of the country silk for the collar, as it doesn’t come in black.

Today the beau and I tackled the issue of knitwear storage in the wir. This is how I was storing my jumpers, vests and cardigans:

Basically in blanket bags, which protected them from moths, but made it hard to find and get to a garment. Inevitably I was leaving a small number out, exposed to greeblies, and wearing just that small selection because I couldn’t be bothered hunting for anything else. This wasn’t a big problem yet, since I don’t often wear knitwear in summer anyway. But come autumn this arrangement was going to drive me nuts.

This is my new knitwear storage solution:

Open shelving from Bunnings, and cloth storage boxes with ‘windows’ from Howards Storage World. The open shelving and cloth boxes will allow the knitwear to still ‘breathe’, and allow in the smell of the camphor I’ve got hanging under the shelves, but not moths. (Unless, of course, they decide to eat the cloth.) The ‘windows’ allow me to see what’s inside the boxes, and having lots of smaller boxes makes it easier to get to what I want.

I’ve never had an issue with moths, and for years I’ve had my knitwear stacked on shelves in wardrobes, uncovered. I reckon the camphor does deter the moths (real camphor – mothballs give me headaches and nausea) and washing all my knitwear once a year, in early spring, probably helps too.

As the beau pointed out, there’s plenty of space between the shelves. We could get another shelf in there. So there’s lots of room for more FOs. No need to stop knitting any time soon. Not that I would. But it’s nice to know there’s no need to do a cull of knitwear just yet.

Dear Chocolate Cashmere

Our relationship has been a rocky one, and certainly didn’t start well. The first time I tried to knit you, you gave me rsi.

Now I fully acknowledge that this was my fault. I knit you on needles too small in order to make you fit a pattern I’d written for thinner yarn, and I apologise. The single sock I made was as stiff as cardboard and did not show off your cushy cashmerey goodness at all. We both know you were destined for better things, and I did promise to give you another try.

Okay, I should have frogged that single sock and not stuffed you back in the stash so carelessly. I know if I’d been more respectful it would have been a reassuring sign that I still had confidence in you. But after all the work in knitting that sock, I couldn’t bear to undo it. You must acknowledge that when I did eventually frog the sock, I lovingly skeined, washed and weighted the yarn as it dried to ease out the kinks. Perhaps you saw this as some kind of torture or humiliation? Trust me, it was for your own good.

Now, I will admit that I had low expectations when I started knitting you into gloves. That had nothing to do with you, and everything to do with me being too sick to think my way through a cable pattern, and too scared to do anything complicated lest I make something unworthy of you. Yes. Scared. You don’t know how indimidating you are sometimes. We both had high expectations for you.

I have to point out that when I recovered, physically and mentally, I saw the error of my ways and recognised that great acts require a certain fearlessness. I returned to my former glorious plans for you, and for a while we both bathed in the glow of success.

So what’s up with those fingers? Why did you torture me so, making me knit them over and over and over? I spent close to ten hours knitting those ten infuriating digits. Surely it was of no benefit to yourself to confound me so much that when I went to read my notes the next day they contained instructions such as “pu U st’, or to leave out the extra four rows around the palm between knitting the little finger and the next three? You wouldn’t even let me be clever. Unpicking those three fingers and grafting them on didn’t work, because they contained the wrong number of stitches.

Perhaps you played up more toward the tend because the closer we came to finishing the sooner we would part, not to be reunited until the cooler months roll around again. Whatever the reason, you took it too far. By the end all I wanted was to sew in your ends, block and get you out of my sight.

That was, until I tried you on. Darn it, I can’t believe after all the woes you put me though, I can still feel the cashmerey love.

You better behave during the blocking, though. No shrinking or turning into fat-fingered gardening gloves. Or dissolving. Or… whatever. I don’t know what tricks you still have up your sleeve (ahem), but just know I’l be watching. And that, despite the cashmerey love, a ritual burning is still not completely out of the question.

(Added later.) Here area close-ups of the cabling:

Sockless Summer WIPs

Yesterday I tackled one of the biggest challenges I faced since returning home: getting all that new yarn to fit in my stash boxes. It took a bit of shuffling and, I confess, a bit of cheating. I had been storing spinning tools and fibre in two of the boxes. Once I found a new home for it, adding the new yarn was easy.

Must do something with the fibre. I’m thinking of selling, gifting, felting and weaving it. But not now, because on top of my wips I have a bag to design and make. I signed up for the Australian Bag Lady Swap on Ravelry’s Aussie Knitters group, you see. (Waves to giftee.)

As for wips, they’re all Sockless Summer projects:

I knit the hand of the second cashmere glove in the car on the way home from the retreat. All that cabling and simultaneous thumb gusset increasing. I thought it too hard when I first arrived at the retreat, but two weeks later I was knitting it with half my attention on the scenery going past.

Last night I sat down and decided to finish them. Surely ten little fingers could be knit in a night. Four and a half hours later I finally finished the first glove. Who’d have thought those little suckers were so time consuming? It didn’t help that I had to adjust to fit along the way, and frogged an entire finger after I realised there weren’t enough stitches left to make anything but straws for my middle and index finger. All I can say is, I have wierd hands. They’re more like table-tennis rackets – skinny at the wrist and wide at the palm. This led to me doing some wierd shaping for the thumb, too.

Thank goodness I took notes for the second glove. There’s no way I’d remember everything I did.

The Sock Yarn Sunhat. I threw this ball of Regia Surf cotton/merino blend sock yarn into my bag because I’d had the idea of crocheting a sunhat from it for a while and it seemed a good travel project. The pattern, “The have-it-your-way crochet hat plan” from Yarn magazine, is a good ‘un. I’ve made it three times now, in 8 and 5ply. 4ply is slow going, but it’ll make the hat light and cool to counter the wool content.

The Mitre Vest. This is as far as I got before leaving for the retreat. I was quite addicted to knitting those little squares before I left and wished I’d brought it with me. I’m itching to resume, but want to finish the gloves before I do. Since I now have plenty of the burgundy Patonyle to knit edgings with, I’m thinking of adding a diamond mitre motif to the back of the vest as well.

But not on the fronts. Positioning is everything, and I don’t wan’t to look like I have diamond shaped front bits, if you know what I mean.

There’s No Place Mess Like…

I’m home. We had an interesting two and a bit weeks. I got lots of work done. But we also did a bit of sight-seeing and yarn shopping. It doesn’t feel 100% like a holiday, but not 100% work either.

Here’s some more stuff I picked up along the way:

A macrame book and two knitting magazines. Except the Filati one is more a book of patterns. There’s one in it that I thought would work for the Shadow Tweed. But the pattern only comes in one size. Yes, that’s right. One size. It’s a wrap jacket so it probably doesn’t have to have precision fitting, but we all know how well ‘one size fits all’ really works. The Knitting magazine was quite good. I’ve not liked the patterns or the look of the mag in the past, but both have improved in this issue.

A skull washcloth. This was a surprise gift from a knitter I don’t know via a friend at the retreat. I love it. Too nice to wash dishes with.

The yarn I bought at The Ardent Alpaca, which I forgot to take a pic of. It’s so lushy and soft and yummy. I’m planning to make a drapey sideways vest out of it. Well, at least that’s what I used as justification for buying it when I was in the shop.

From an antiques store in Yarra Glen, a head and a hand. The head is for modelling hats so I don’t have to struggle with taking pics of my own head. The hand… well, I couldn’t not buy it could I? It will probably become a prop in a still life painting or a drawer/door handle, or something.

Now that I’m home… gosh this house is a mess! It’s not just a hangover from the holiday season – creating mess and making you too busy to clean – but all the temporary, necessary stuff piled up or positioned in strange places while the extension/reno/landscaping was happening these last two years, compounded by the fact we were already slowly combining two households into one before we started.

We have soooo much to do. It makes me want to write a big long list, prioritise everything, then ignore it all and knit.

The Haul

Patons Shadow Tweed in a blue to pinky purple colourway:

Some two-toned cream/white 8ply. Maybe Cleckheaton Country Naturals:

Cleckheaton Country Silk in a charcoal with white flecks:

Some Patonyle. Six in white and four in the burgundy I need to edge the Mitre Vest:

And a big cone of green 8py for felting:

There were some bags of a lovely green-burgundy colourway of Jet that I put back because my friend had some and I didn’t want to buy the same thing. Turns out she put it back too, so I’ve been kicking myself since.

We could go home via the mills. But I don’t think I could persuade the beau to take me there a third time. Sigh.

Indecisive

After deciding the main knitting project I took away with me was too challenging, then simplifying the gloves, I realised that I was all foggy headed because I’d picked up a bit of virus. After a few days I was better, my head cleared, and I’d added a twisted stitch weave pattern to the back of the gloves that similar to what I wanted around the wrist. It was easy. So then, of course, I started thinking about frogging the gloves and starting again because, while they were coming out okay, they didn’t look the way I had originally intended.

I decided to sleep on it, then the next day I wasn’t sure either way, so I figured I better give it more thought. The only other project I’d brought was some cotton blend sock yarn for a crochet hat, so I started on that. Being sock yarn, it’s slow going. Round and around and around…

Thanks to Ravelry, and a phone call to double check, I knew that the ACS wool mill was now open today so I dragged my friend back there for some serious stash enhancement. Once again I forgot to take a photo of the shop. Actually, I did remember at one point, but then something distracted me. Probably yarn. So I got the beau to take one of us when we got home.

That’s me on the right. My friend has more yarn. Honest.

More on what I bought later.

Being Adaptable

There has been knitting in snatches here at knitting and chocolate. I worked on the beau’s socks in the car on the way to the retreat, much to the amusement of our passenger. I was going to finish them on the trip home, but once I got here I found I was suddenly incapable of more than the most basic knitting and all the projects I’d brought were much too complicated.

So I finished the socks and started on a much simplified pattern for the cashmere gloves. Just a picot edge and slightly flared sleeve (because they were a little loose and I couldn’t be bothered starting again. I might put some sort of design on the back of the hand. But then, I might not. The Knittery yarn I’m using is so nice the gloves would still be special without any decoration.

On Friday I got the beau to take myself and a Canberran friend off to the Australian Country Spinners mill shop. We went via the Ardent Alpaca in Beechworth, where we both were careful not to overspend so we had money left for the mill. But when we got to Wangaratta and found the mill shop it was closed. That’s one very disappointing way to slow down the stash growth.

Still, I do have some lovely alpaca silk, and I have a heap of yarn from my last visit to the mill. The main reason we went was to show my friend where it was so she can stock up next time she takes a trip to Melbourne. We’ve both got plenty of projects to keep us happy after a hard day’s writing.

Internet connection here is intermittent at best, so I won’t post often, but I am able to keep visiting blogs and Ravelry. I have already been stalking my Bag Lady Swap recipient and considering bag ideas. If anything, I have too many ideas. But I’m sure I’ll have settled on something by the time I get home.

You say ‘miter’, I say ‘mitre’

There’s been a lot of consideration going into what project – or projects – to start next, here at knitting and chocolate. You see, I’ll be heading off to a writing retreat soon, and choosing what knitting and crochet to pack is always a Serious Business.

I’ve chosen one cardigan pattern to start, which will provide lots of stocking stitch as well as fun cables. Then there’s the cashmere gloves from my Sockless Summer list, as something small and transportable yet requiring some attention. For easy knitting in the car I have the beau’s socks to finish. And if it gets too hot to knit wool and cashmere, I’ve thrown in some cotton to crochet sunhats out of.

Finishing the Glamour Vest left me with nothing to knit before the retreat, however. I don’t want to start any of the projects yet and I’m saving the socks for car knitting. So last night I started something else…

My first foray into mitre squares, based on the Miter Sweater wendy of wendyknits knit April last year. I’ve had a vest in mind since then, that uses the same colourway rather than different ones – and I’ve had the yarn put aside for a while too.

After doing a few experimental squares I settled on a 24 stitch mitres on 2.5 mm needles, with no stitches between the decreases. I measured up an existing vest that fits well and sketched out a shape made up of squares (and triangles for shaping) of roughly the same size.

The yarn is The Knittery 4ply merino in ‘choc cherry’ colourway. I have two cakes of it. Here’s the thing. They weigh just over 200 grams together. I’ve worked out that each square weighs about a gram. How many mitres in the vest? 206.

Even if it lasts to the 206th mitre, I’ll have no yarn to knit edges with. But it just happens that there’s a burgundy shade of Patonyle that matches very well… if I can find a ball. It’s been discontinued, but people have reported on Ravelry that there are still stocks here and there.

Don’t you love how knitting stash leads to buying more yarn?

Adding a Little Glamour


I’ve finished my first project of the year! And my first non-sock use of sock yarn.

Yonks ago, for Knit From Your Stash, I knitted up a vest out of leftover black Bendy Colonial with the intention of adding a wide front band/collar of pretty green, black and gold handspun. I grossly underestimated the amount of handspun I had, barely managing to knit one row of knitting around all the edges, so I put the vest aside to finish when I had a more suitable yarn.

I was going to spin the yarn, using one ply of black, another of a subtle multicoloured roving and the added glamour of a thread of silver. But it was while dying of boredom spinning for this project that I realised that spinning wasn’t for me.

Then when I was examining the sock yarn stash thinking about what I could make other than socks it suddenly occurred to me that I had some sock yarn rather like the multicoloured roving – The Knittery ‘passionfruit’ colourway. And Patonyle black. So why not knit the two together – with the silver thread?

And why not crochet instead? After finishing the bottom edge with a single row of trebles (double crochet to US folks), I continued up around the front band/collar. Then turned and crochet back, hooking twice into the back loops to make a ruffle. Then I turned again and crocheted in what was now the back loops, one treble per loop. Then repeated the ruffle and plain rows twice more. Finally, I finished the armholes with a single row of trebles. The mix of colours works beautifully, and the little ruffles make me want to do a little girly ‘squee!’ every time I see them. And I so love a little bit of sparkle.

Knitting Adventures of 2007

Happy New Year! Just before I left for Adelaide and the New Year’s Eve party I made the 70s costume for, I got all retrospective and put this post together:

January
At the beginning of the year I ‘signed up’ for Knit From Your Stash, an idea that Wendy of wendyknits came up with.

It’s silly, but seeing the sidebar pic I made on Wendy’s site was such a treat!

My aim was to clear out some old yarn ready to bring in new, better yarns. I used 40% of my stash used over 6 months. It led to me looking at my stash and buying habits in new ways, which sparked the creation of my Stash Manifesto.

Later in the month a weekend camping trip turned into a boat rescue by a park ranger, after unseasonal rains made the roads undrivable. During a week in Adelaide while we waited for the roads to dry out enough that we could retrieve our cars, my hosts gave me an armload of yarn to knit and crochet with. I think it kept them as entertained watching me turn it into stuff as it kept me occupied.

February
The very colourful Marta of Marta’s yarns passed away and local knitters mourned the loss of a very talented lady.

March
I had my first Blogiversary and prize draw.

I’d also ‘signed up’ for Project Spectrum at the beginning of the year and in March I had a crafty weekend of papermaking and book binding.

I’d set myself the challenge of reviving crafts I enjoyed in the past, including calligraphy, pottery, linocut printing, macrame, papermaking, string art and bookbinding.

The Projects:

February/March: Blue, White, Gray

April/May: Green, Yellow, Pink

June/July: Red, Black, Metallics

August/September: Brown, Orange, Purple

April
Just when things were going well with Knit From Your Stash, I was gifted with the stash of a deceased knitter. A knitter with very good taste in yarn. There was cashmere. There was camel. I put it aside to wait until KFYS was over. It took considerable willpower.

May
Bendigo Woollen Mills finally launched their website.

I snuck a small skein of hand-dyed yarn from Tarcutta’s Farmhouse Industries Handcraft Shop into the stash during a trip to Canberra. Then came the Cleckheaton Cocoon. I suspected my willpower was weakening.

June
Finally I moved into my new workroom and the stash was sorted into new tubs in a shelving unit of its own.

I stayed to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains in order to work distraction-free for two weeks (only to get the flu). Travelling via Sydney, I visit Tapestry Craft for the first time. In Katoomba I hung out and knit with Mark, Lara, Kate and David of Sticks & String poscast at a delectable chocolate shop, then later accompanied David and Lara to a Knitters Guild meeting. This was definitely one of the highlights of the year.

July
I decided that six months of knitting from my stash was enough and immediately ordered the yarn I’d been drooling over at the store in Katoomba.

I also came up with the Bust Out of the Box Sock Challenge

The idea was to knit seven types of sock (sideways, colourwork, lace, cables, textured stitch pattern, toe and heel not tried before, and non-wool yarn) from seven sources of knitting patterns, both online and print. The aim was to try new techniques rather than the same old toe-up method I’d settled on. I learned a heap of new sock construction methods and reduced my sock yarn stash… a little.

The Socks:

SC#1 Simple Ribbed Socks

SC#2 Mosaic Socks

SC#3 Sideways Socks

SC#4 Flow Motion Socks

SC#5 Butterfly Socks

SC#6 William Street Socks

SC#7 Non-wool Socks

And I joined the Box Hill Hand Spinners and Weavers on a trip to the Bendigo Sheep and Wool Show. More stash enhancement. Nice group, too.

August
I decided to dig up some UFOs and finish them, sewing up a woven blanket and knitted pillows, refooting socks, and turning socks into wristwarmers and fingerless mitts.

September
With the Sock Challenge coming to an end, I came up with Knit From Your Books.

Inspired by having learned so much while making myself try new sock patterns, and motivated by guilt over having a lot of books that I’ve never knit anything from. So far I’ve knit three of the six garments. Still deliberating on the yarn to use for the Jo Sharp cardy, and I might knit a different garment from Knitting Nature.

I also decided that I don’t really like spinning that much, but I do like weaving a lot.

At the end of the month I drop by the Australian Country Spinners mill shop on the way to Canberra, then Stitch’n'time in Canberra and then the Tarcutta shop on the way home, and the stash gets a serious boost.

October
Though my Ravelry invite arrived in September, I didn’t have a chance to explore until October. I started uploading projects and reading groups. I found it is an excellent way to check out patterns before knitting them, and the groups are fun, but I baulked at entering all my stash.

November
With the house stuff coming to a head, I didn’t post as much. But I did come up with:

The down side to all that sock knitting was that, once we are able to move into our new rooms and start filling the wardrobe up, it becomes clear I have a LOT of socks. I decided to explore other uses of sock yarn than socks for myself. Socks for others is fine. But I can also make gloves, a scarf, a vest, some crochet trim and use sock yarn as weaving warp.

December
It was the time of year for flashing stash and counting FOs, looking back on the knitting (and crocheting and weaving) year and making plans for the next. I realise I’ve knit, crochet and woven a LOT of fos and, though the challenges, learned a great deal, too.