Samplin’

I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth. It’s just the last week’s been busy and exhausting, and it’ll stay that way for the next few weeks. And please, please, don’t mention the word ‘Christmas’.

I’ve been too tired to knit more than a few rows. Before it got really busy, though, I finished this:

The Sampler Scarf, my first project on the new 4-shaft loom. After trying the twills and basketweave shown in my books, I started experimenting, and somehow kept coming up with new patterns by combining them. Some of them lost their definition after I washed (‘wet-finished’) the scarf, however. But others worked well enough that I want to use them in future projects.

There was also stash enhancement thanks to one of the s’n'b girls, Kelli, having a destash:

I’m thinking green yoke jumper with simple purple fair isle border.

When I sent out invites to the party we hosted on the weekend, I asked if anyone had old jeans to donate for ‘a craft project’. I didn’t expect everyone to get into the spirit quite this much:

But I have no idea how many jeans it will take to make the floor rug I want to make. This might be plenty, it might be too little. I figure if I run out I’ll hop up to the op shop to buy some more.

First I’ll do a sampler – weaving instructors and book authors stress how important this is. As important as a gauge swatch. And the little samplers become ‘mug rugs’ – coasters – a term I’d never heard of until I started getting into weaving.

I suspect a few friends and relations may be getting ‘mug rugs’ for Christmas this year.

(Oops, I used that word!)

Really Red Teapot Cosy


(Boy did I have to tweak this photo a lot to get the colour right!)

Pattern: Aran Teapot Sweater from Yarn #6
Yarn: Woolmart Wools Red Heart 8ply Crepe (bought in New Zealand)
Needes: 3.5 and 3.75 mm circs

My teapot isn’t very attractive, but it doesn’t drip. So a teacosy is the best way to improve the pot. I’ve been using a green one to match my old kitchen, but it doesn’t suit the kitchen in this house. We’ve been buying lots of kitchenware in red and I’ve been meaning to knit up a new tea cosy to match.

The pattern was more complex than I expected – mainly because the cables, while easy on their own, tended to twist on different rows to each other so it took a lot of chart following to keep track of them. I think this is the first time I’ve knit bobbles. They were… bobbly. Nothing to get excited about.

I was also going to knit a matching coffee plunger cosy, but the beau broke it. Still, if he replaces it I do have plenty of this yarn left over.

Where There’s a Twill, There’s a Way

I finally got a chance to warp up the new 4-shaft loom for the first time yesterday. It was both easier and harder than I expected. Easier in that I was expecting it to take hours, wheras I think it took only about one hour. But then, I only warped a section wide enough for a scarf. Warping up the entire width could take a lot longer.

I used the instructions Ashford provided. I’m going to try out two other methods in the books I have and see how I like them. There’s one thing that puzzles me, though. The heddles are supplied joined together, which is obviously how they’re manufactured. The assembly instructions have you slide the heddles onto the shafts, and that’s it. The photo of this loom in the Ashford catalogue shows the loops between each heddle, so they’re still joined.

But the warping instructions show the heddles as separate entities. Am I supposed to cut them apart? I’ve sent a query to Ashford, but if anyone can enlighten me in the meantime I’d be most grateful.

After I finished warping I had to try weaving, of course.

I started with plain weave (tabby) and then tried a few twill patterns supplied in the warping instructions. They didn’t quite look right, but I kept going. Then I realised that if I beat the reed very gently I could see the pattern better. I’d been beating the weft so hard it had bunched up into ridges. By then I’d spent most of the afternoon crouched over the loom and my back was starting to grumble, so I stopped.

In other weaving, the wavy scarf has grown a bit:

When the beau saw me working on this the other day he said something like “Hmm, I can see how that might be fun”. Potential there, perhaps?

And there’s been some knitting. I started this bolero jacket on Friday night. It called for 3.25mm needles. I had 3.5 and 2.75 so I swatched both. Turned out the 2.75 needles were perfect. Me and my loose tension.

But by the end of the night, after I’d knit and frogged several 200 stitch rows, I concluded that I’d been mad taking on a garment in mainly stocking stitch in 4ply, in plain white yarn. Yet the next night I picked it up again, and I did again last night. By then I’d decided it was going to be called Summer Nights. Flicking channels after watching First Australians (which I’m really enjoying) we found ourselves in the middle of the song from Grease. It felt a little like destiny, and a little like I’m doomed to knit this thing.

I bought the pattern book, but I noticed in the last Lindcraft catalogue that it’s available on their site for free.

And this has been travelling about with me:

The Rainforest Sock (in The Knittery chubby sock), called that because the colourway is ‘rainforest’ and I hadn’t the energy to come up with something original. But then, these sock are all about taking it easy.

In fact, I seem to have gone off socks a bit. I still want to knit them, but I’m no longer inspired by fancy patterns. Even a simple stitch pattern doesn’t excite me. I just want a comfortable knit and a comfortable fit, in colours that go with my (admittedly varied) wardrobe.

Firestarters? What Firestarters?

Dye Another Day

Yesterday the Eastern Suburbs s’n'b girls had a dyeing day, and I was feeling well enough by the afternoon to get myself there.

Remember this:

Well, I’d had no luck finding a big bodied busty woman with skinny arms to give it to, so I frogged it and threw the yarn into a dye pot. I now have lots of skeins that look like this:

It didn’t take the dye as well as I’d hoped. I have a few theories why: not enough dyebath for the yarn to move around in (I used my biggest pot, but it was pretty full), some sort of additive left in the yarn that resisted dyeing, or maybe angora just doesn’t take up dye as well as wool. But I like the result and I’m thinking of weaving it up into a couch blanket.

Then there was more dyeing of sock yarn leftovers:


The skeins are the dyed yarn. I now have plenty of yarn to make pairs of brown and blue scrappy socks. I also used my space dyeing doovy thingo to make a big loop out of the leftover Froot Loop socks yarn, then dyed half in the leftover blue dye:

Which got me lime and dark green stripes. Not enough here for more than anklets, I think. I’d also thrown in two skeins of Cleckheaton Country 8ply in my supplies as ‘sop-up’ yarn to throw into any leftover dyebaths.

No plans for this yarn so far, but since I like better how varigated yarn weaves up than knits up, it’s probably destined for the loom.

We all worked away, painting, dipping, steaming, microwaving and simmering yarn and bedecking the Hill’s hoist with bright loops of yarn, for hours. Then we nattered and ate chocolate cake while admiring our efforts. All in all a fun, creative day.

Swap Temptation

Things being so hectic lately, what with a convention in Canberra, lots of moving of belongings from one house to another, and trying to get some work done between it all, I’m a little behind in blogging. One of the good things about being sick, but not so bad you can’t slouch in front of the computer now and then, is that you can catch up on a few things.

I had a niggling feeling today that I should check my directory full of knitting blog photos and see if there was anything that hadn’t made it onto the blog. Sure enough, there was:

The lovely Cloth and Soap swap gift I received from ozknitter. A lovely soft cloth and yummy soap that won’t give me a rash.

And then this:

The pirate skull and crossbones cloth I knit for my recipient. (But not the yummy lemon-myrtle soap I gave her, as I got around the allergy thing by buying it at the chemist next to the post office so I could sent it off straight away and not risk reacting to the perfume if I brought it home.)

I’d sworn off swaps before signing up to this one because I knew I’d be too busy in the latter half of this year, but allowed myself to get sucked into this one because I figured a cloth wouldn’t take much time. While I did get it made and sent on time, I found that being too busy and harrassed meant it I didn’t enjoy the process as much as other swaps. Love what I received, and had fun designing mine, but it was like the deadline and anticipation became just another stress to add to everything else going on in my life.

No more swaps until my house is sold, at the very least!

A Big Honking Button Hat

I went to Camberwell Market on Sunday just to buy a button for this:

It’s the Duck Egg Blue Hat or something. I’m feeling too crap right now to look it up.

After spending half an hour or so this morning taking photos of myself by holding the camera out beside me while leaning on a wall, or lying on the floor (and getting terrible pics) I remembered The Head. I bought The Head to avoid having to do contortions like that. But I have a cold, and my brain isn’t working too well right now.

I’m certainly not up to working on the tea cosy at the moment:

And the Firestarter pattern just makes my head hurt. So I started another sock. One with a plain, simple cable down the side. Plain and simple is all I want right now.

I managed to break my knitting basket while moving furniture recently. These plastic rolling baskety shelves were lolling about, being a waste of space, so I claimed them as a temporary replacement.

And I’m finding the arrangement suits me very well. I can keep a different project on each shelf/basket and my tools and pattern instructions on the top. Balls of wool I’m working with can sit and unravel in the lowest basket without tangling with anything or upsetting the cat.

Pity it’s so ugly. And not very portable. But it’s got me thinking…

Lullaby

The Musical Baby Blanket is done! Which is music to my ears and a balm to my poor stiff hands and sore back.

The music is from Brahms ‘Wiegenlied’ otherwise known as ‘Lullaby’.

While I’m pleased that it came out much as I intended and I’m rather proud of myself for finishing it, I swear it’s the last crochet baby blanket I’m going to make. From now on, I’m going to weave them, which will be faster and involve minimal sewing.

Because after three days of sewing on those musical notes, I can hardly bend forward at all and typing hurts.

Convention Knitting

It didn’t seem like I got a lot of knitting done over the weekend, but maybe that’s only because I made four small items rather than one big one. The socks and tea cosy I’d been working on were too complicated for travel knitting – when checking charts constantly is inconvenient. I needed something simple and easily memorised, so I took a new project: the Modern Cabled Baby Bib:

The first was easy and fun, but I could tell I was going to get tired of the pattern if I was going to churn out lots of bibs. So I tried a plaited cable:

Then I switched the side the cable was on and tried both a different cable and stitch pattern:

And finally, an oxo cable on the left with a checkerboard stitch pattern.

The Patons Aran Washed Haze is nice to work with but, like a lot of cottons, a little splitty. I love the blue:

After the fourth bib I’d had enough of bibs and started a neck warmer. While cowls don’t appeal to me (I think they’d be drafty) sometimes – like when you’re gardening – you want something that’ll stay put around your neck, with no dangley bits getting in your way. Something so firmly in contact with my skin would have to be made from a non-allergy-sparking yarn, and Washed Haze seemed ideal:

I used a simple mistake rib on 21 stitches. Not sure which buttons to use, though. The blue ones are exactly the colour of the yarn, but I do like the idea of the mis-matched white ones.

What do you think?

Tony and Liz Had Been Close as Children.

He loved his sister and did his best to protect her. Rich orphans raised by a series of nannies – none who stayed long – other children often took a dislike to them, Lucy in particular. Recently Lucy had been feeling a bit down, since her last boyfriend disappeared one night, after he left the country estate in a huff, riding too fast on that motorcyle of his. Even the perfume he’d given her, ‘Scotch Mist’, did nothing to cheer her.

So he had invited his new girlfriend to stay at the house, hoping that Lucy and Liz would hit it off. Lucy was such fun. She always cheered him up. Surely Liz would brighten up when she learned they were to be married.

Sure enough, the pair went out walking together the next morning. He hoped they were getting along well…

Lucy reached the summer house and collapsed against the door frame, panting. Tony had seemed such a good catch. Rich. Good looking. So sweetly caring of his sister. But now Lucy knew she had made a mistake. She could still feel the tingle of the bullet as it had all but grazed her cheek…

And she would never forget the sight of the motorbike, crumpled, scorched and riddled with holes, and the charred thing that lay beside it.

Oh yes, she had made a terrible mistake coming here. And Liz was still out there, still chanting “You won’t take him away from me. You won’t take him away from me.”

If she could get to the house – or just to the car – she would be safe…

Jenny Swore She’d Never Let Roger Fix Her Car Again

You’ve gotta love old patterns. They always give me ideas for really cheesy soap or horror story plots. For your entertainment, I bring you some of my favourites:

Roger was a sweet guy. So confident that he could fix Jenny’s car in time for the girl’s road trip. But before they’d made it out of town, nasty-smelling smoke began to fill the cabin and Jenny had to pull over.

Fresh air cleared her head, but left her with a terrible headache. But the girls… oh, the girls…

Poor Suzie, barely able to support her own weight, insisted on staying near the car, breathing the fumes and crooning about how the clouds and the trees were now all such wonderful colours…

And Heather, normally so refined, wore her handbag on her head and excitedly told us she was receiving communications from little blue men beyond the solar system, who were waaay coool and knew the secrets to peace, happiness and warm leggings.

Fortunately – or unfortunately – Silvia remained her normal self, though she kept insisting that there was room for the poodle in the back and we should go back and get her Snookypoo.

All Jenny was sure of, was that Roger had a lot of explaining to go.