Tuesday, March 31, 2009


G'day all!

Today was such a nice day until I tried to book us some tickets to the other side of the US. Nathan has a week off at Easter and we hatched a hairbrained scheme to visit half a dozen friends over there.

"Tickets - $218 return!" trumpet the websites.


They say tickets are available but by the time you manage to get all your details in, gosh darnit, no more fares at that price! Nope, how about these more expensive fares?

Where I come from, that is called bait and switch. And it's illegal. Suck them in with cheap prices then make the item unavailable and offer one that is more expensive.

I have spent four hours trying to find cheap tickets. I've used three different "cheap tix" websites, two of which said here are some cheap tickets, oops, they're all sold out! (I'm talking to you, Expedia and Priceline). I've looked at three different airlines.

So I am peeved. I wanted to get a hat done so that I would've made lots of stuff this month but now I am running a bit behind. I could've planted out some new seedlings I bought today. Or the seeds. But instead I've been wrangling stupid websites that do dodgy thing.


Here's a pretty picture instead of grumping, taken on our trip up Mt Hamilton on Sunday. Must get the rest of the pics online.

Lupins, most likely natives.

And if anyone has any idea what this one is, we'd be grateful! I didn't get shots inside the flowers (it was on a bank on the side of the road and was too high) and have no idea what it is.

PS. Finished the hat just before 11pm :-) That makes two tops, a shawlette, a hat and a pair of socks, and about 140g of fluff spun up, all this month. As long as you don't mind me casting on one of the tops on the 27th of Feb that is....

Monday, March 30, 2009

Tactile Trellis Shawl

G'day all!

I think this will be my last hurrah for March.

I bought some merino:bamboo blend from Tactile Fiber Arts at Stitches West. Only two ounces of it. In a spinning frenzy, I spun it up - half on 28th I think and the rest on the 1st of March. Then I worked out a pattern I wanted to knit. A shawlette. I only had roughly 400m of yarn. I used the Rose Trellis pattern from Barbara Walker's first Treasury of Knitting Patterns along with a ladder/faggoting stitch. I even made a chart up! (But I have to finish editing the chart and show what I did with the last few rows). Even more amazement - I crocheted the edge to make something like the side edges and it sorta even worked! (That was the nine hours of edging for 200-something stitches - glad my handspun was up for the workout!.)

The final result?


I am quite pleased with it :-) It could be bigger - it only measures roughly 70cm (28") long by 1.2m (say 48") across. But it was fun to knit with the colour changes. I actually tried to spin it to blend the colours by stripping the top, spinning it up and plying one end against the other end of the top. Ha! It only worked in one spot (you can see the result at the edge). I think I prefer it striping than blended.

The tips really flare out like a swallowtail's wings.

I used a modified flower/rose pattern in the last few rows at the cast off edge. It would've been handy to have another 8m of yarn but life is tough then you die.


Plus I finally finished spinning the 4oz of merino tencel in a rather purple sunsetty cloud colourway. I am very pleased to have finished it. I was very over it and if I had not managed to break a couple of strands in snapping it (I was totally unable to break it when I wanted to - like blasted acrylic! - but when it snagged around my finger? Hardly even noticed it snapping) I would put the stuff on my website to sell. It is not the colour, I just don't think I like stuff with tencel in it, certainly not 50% tencel. I didn't enjoy knitting socks with that much tencel either. But the merino bamboo was very nice!


Saturday, March 28, 2009

9 hours

G'day all!

Today I decided that since I was nearly out of yarn, I should set up the Tactile shawl for its bindoff. I decided that I wanted some sort of crocheted cast off cos I wanted to have little gaps between the stitches like the sides have for the YO increases.

OMG. I thought it might be done by lunchtime at the rate I was going. I was using a 3.25mm hook and doing a single crochet on each stitch with three chains between the stitches. Then I realised I needed another 5m of yarn. Umm, this is handspun and I have no more top to spin.

So I ripped it out and started over, a bit tighter this time.

Then I ripped it out and started the cast off again. This time with two chains only.

Then I ripped again. With one chain.

And again.

Finally I grabbed the 1.5mm hook (!!!!) and tried SC and two chains.

OH GODS! I only had about 40 stitches to cast off but I only had 40cm of yarn. Not enough for the job.

So I put all the stitches back on the needles for the UMPTEENTH time, single crochet into each stitch with only one chain between them.

15cm of yarn left over. And the edge is stretchy enough that it is not limiting the width of the lace. HOO-blasted-RAY!

Oddly enough I lost my temper only once, early on, and that is because the yarn and the 3.25 hook were not happy with each other and kept snagging. Shoulda taken that as a hint!

I am much better at crochet and chains now too, as long as I do it left handed. Right handed, not so good, especially since it insists on tensioning the yarn too and trying to knit with the hook.

Pictures? Well tomorrow mebbe, when I have recovered from the trauma. Before and after blocking maybe even!


I wish...

G'day all!

Oh how I wish I was the truly creative sort. I've been crawling the web and the amazing things some ladies are doing.... And yes, each and every one of the crafty type blogs I read is written by a woman. The men write different sorts of blogs. I would link them all but there are sooooo many!

Instead, anonymous ladies of the crafty blogs, take a bow!* You are amazing. Inspiring. Even jealousy inducing. Amazing stuff. I am incoherent with delight and jealousy!

Oh how I wish I could draw *and* paint. I can copy quite well - give me a photo and a pencil/paper and I can make a reasonable, not great, facsimile of the pic but creating something new? DH says I just need to practise but what I need is the eye with which to separate dross from good. And practising would help. I'm just happily buried in knitting and spinning. (And a little bit of sewing.)

I have a rather springy/eastery sock on the needles with another pattern of my design on it. Dunno if it is working or not. Not enough is done to show you how it is looking. Plus I seem to have not followed the pattern at some point cos I have the wrong number of stitches happening. I guess I should frog it back and do the last 16 rows over! At least it is only a sock.

I have two red cashmere laceweight yarns that I am plying against each other, then I cable them and hope the yarn is somewhat thicker than when it began. (I am forever grateful to whoever it was on Ravelry who said use a ballwinder for ripping out sweaters - this will save me millenia on frogging the 15 or so cashmere sweaters I have been collecting for Projects.) Then I will knit my next up sister some fingerless mitts. I was going to have them done in time for the footy season starting. At the time I am blogging this, in the wee hours of Saturday morning (thanks to something I ate keeping me up!) it is 17 hours until our team's first game kicks off. Ooops. I will need to get in my time machine to get these bad boys to their new home in time, especially given they aren't even knitted yet! BTW, my sisters and brother all barrack for our beloved Dees - we were well indoctrinated by our mother, whose fervour was fed by the glory years - she saw more than half the team's premierships. I've seen none but we made the Grand Final once in all my years (and got thumped). I am fairly sure my first words after mum-mummum and dadadad were "Go Dees" if the training we gave my nieces and nephews is anything to go by.BTW, the brainwashinh, oops, training dd work on some of them.

I have some yarn to knit a friend a chemo cap with. I am still arguing with myself over the pattern to knit. I have two patterns in mind and am locked in indecision cos I really want to make this one but the yarn will work better for this type of short row hat (but nicer yarn and a finer gauge). I shall get some more yarn, whether by stash diving or buying it, and make both of them!

I have almost finished the shawl featured a couple of days ago. Details soon, when it is done!

Ah, hooray, soon I can return to bed. Mr Gut is now giving signals that the worst is over - I am now receiving requests for food :-)

*That includes you, gentle reader, even if you are of the male persuasion.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Heidi oh!

G'day all!

I was going to call the post something else but alas ho means something different these days...

(Yarn is almost accurate colour)

Anyway, I think I should share with you my recently completed shop sample,


Heidi by Diane Zangl for SWTC in Terra.


The yarn is a really good yarn. Fairly easy to knit, given its bamboo cotton composition. It is not at all splitty - you have to work really hard to get it to split despite its many small plies. It gets a big thumbs up from me - I'll happily knit with it again.


I don't think I'll knit another one of these though. Not very keen on the design, though it will be great for some people.

Here's an oddity. That's half of the sleeve (the other half is already set in).

And there is many a slip betwixt the cup and the lip. I managed to knit two right shoulders. LOL. Easily fixed but very amusing to see the odd shaping.

It is now two years since we first visited Fort Collins in Colorado for Nathan's interview with HP. So much has happened since then!


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Trellis teaser

G'day all!

Whilst knitting the shop sample and the eyesores, I've been beavering away, in the nicest possible sense!, at the shawl that nearly got eaten by a Canada goose.

Purdy eh? I quickly pinned it out to see how it is going. It is wider than a sweater rack now. I have added another two or three rows to it this evening. I realised that maybe it was time to stop when I yawned massively twice in about 15 seconds and I kept forgetting what row I was on.

But I have to sit up because Nathan is working on thesis corrections! YAY! It passed but he has roughly 8 problem things to fix and some typo stuff or incorrect use of grammar - one of the examiners turned out to be a grammar and spelling pedant (or pedanticist as we like to tell our pedant friends, the ones who are even more pedantic than we are, or should that be pedanticistic?).

I think I should pull out the sock I am working on. No counting on it! Knit, purl or *k2tog, yo* for whole rows. I hope I don't stuff that up!


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

FO - eyesores

G'day all!

I have an FO! And I finished another item today. I am calling this the month of knitting - so far a Hey Mooch, now these


Next the shop sample and hopefully a shawl of my own design by the end of the month (plus maybe a chemo cap for a friend, don't hold your breath though!).

So the Eyesores are an adaptation of Shimmer Socks by Meg Croft. I did mine toe up and also adapted the pattern so the yarn loop thingie goes in the other direction.


If you look closely at the right sock, you will see that the loop yarn varies from background colour to background colour - the loop is pink on the blue yarn and vice versa. You can see the changeover point. But only on the right sock. I started the left sock in a different spot on the yarn and also the pattern is different and it seems to have affected that bloopy (lucky) weirdness.

Details on my Rav page. Since it is waaaay late and I have to go to bed, I shall leave you with pics of my Eyesores.






Friday, March 20, 2009

Bunny fluff

G'day all!

So a while ago, during the bushfire crisis back 'ome (six weeks ago now!) I discovered that one of my favourite fibre producers was still in business, though fighting off embers! Anyway, I had to buy some of Charly's stuff. (Go and have a look at what she has at present - she tends to update on Fridays in Oz. This blog should still be here when you get back :-)

I had to buy a couple of braids of merino/angora. Not just because Charly is a great person, not just because it was a little bit extra for the bushfire cause, no, mainly cos I thought it would be lovely stuff to spin up and it would be from Home. LOL

Man, I was frantic back then. I had the worst case of homesickness I've had in ages. I was so far away and there was nothing I could do bar send a donation and buy a little stuff from a friend. Places that I knew had been destroyed (I still sniffle at the picture of the fence and gate of the lolly shop at Marysville - they remain, along with the sign but the building is razed - bizarre. Where will I get my toilet duck flavoured sour drops now?) and there was not one thing I could do about it. I would've volunteered if I had been home (not fighting fires - I get asthma from smoke - but there's plenty of other stuff that needed to be done). But instead I read all the newspapers and abc.net.au and watched and hoped.

A couple of weeks later, the postman hand delivered a little parcel to me.


Our postie (mail carrier) sometimes hand delivers stuff and sometimes I have to go to the office. Haven't worked that out yet.

See how small the parcel is?


It reminded me of the fleeces and yarn I sent myself from Oz - I stuffed it into black garbage bags and sat on them and taped them ferociously until they were a third their original size. That is the great thing about wool - it bounces back. You can squash it down and with either no or very little encouragement it fluffs back out again.


Mother Holle (Goodness, I hope I am not the lazy daughter who gets covered with pitch but I fear I may be!) and

Rumplestiltskin (no I can't spin straw into gold but I can spin fleece into pretty nice yarn if I do say so myself!)

If you saw how these braids have fluffed out, you would hardly believe that they fitted into the baggie they arrived in. There's 150g or so in each - enough to make something a reasonable size out of, not the usual 50g which makes a hat if I am lucky. No I have not started spinning them yet - they are next on the list after the merino tencel I am spinning (remind me that I do not enjoy tencel in my spinning stuff and am not so sure about knitting it either. Bamboo is fine though. I have a post or three coming on about the new "environmentally friendly" rayons too).

Soon, soon my pretties, I shall spin you! But first I must finish the tencel blend.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Birds, revisited

G'day all!

Thanks to all those who commented on my Hey Mooch! :-)

Last week, as I've mentioned before, I went for a ride up the Los Gatos Creek trail (I've blogged a whole heap of pics at my other blog). I thought it would be very pleasant to do a little knitting whilst sitting by the lakeside.

Little did I know of the horror approaching me!

It seemed friendly enough:

Pretty curious even.

It brought a friend. The friend was pretty bored - it seemed to be saying "Let's go, love, this is dull! You brought along a snack but I didn't!"

Then another friend showed up

And some more
(Don't you love the feet on these coots? Blue and black stripes)

and another

and a few more came to join the party.*

Let me tell you that I was really glad that not all of these ones saw me sitting on that park bench, swinging my legs (bit of an erosion problem on their part, not mine!). There is nothing quite like having several hundred hungry birds all running at you at the one time. Heck, 10 geese are plenty!

One particular goose was bolder than all the other birds

She came closer

and closer

and closer yet.

Who knows what horrors were being contemplated by this birdy brain and reflected in those beady eyes.

What emotions churned in that birdy breast....

Or where those sturdy legs and feet were taking their owner next.

But she didn't get my shawl!

(*No I did not feed the birds but I was silly enough to feed me 8-)


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

FO - Hey mooch

G'day all!

As you might remember, I bought a bit of yarn at Stitches West. *blush*

Well I've already completed one item from that yarn, yay me! I give you

Hey, mooch! (usually known as Hey Teach)(actually I am keeping the top for myself and not giving it to anyone at all.)(excuse the tshirt, I was too lazy to change)

The buttons have holographic glitter in their centres, not that you can tell in this pic. It turns out that I am not the only person to think that holographic sparkle glitter is the bees knees and very worthy of being in a button. (I got them from Jo-ann's and they didn't cost very much.)

And here is a close up shot of the lace pattern, nicely modelled on one of my more shapely parts but looking oddly flat.

Yarn: Debbie Bliss Stella, silk blend, 7.5 balls or so
Needle: 5mm (US 8)
Details on Ravelry.

This was a pretty quick knit and easy, given that I am working actively on three other projects. Just as well I am a, umm, what is the polite phrase for stay at home bludger these days? I am sure you can come up with a few! And I really like the yarn - it is tougher than it looks though I ended up busting some of it whilst seaming and arguing with a knot. I'll be able to wear this against my skin and that is something I really like :-)


Monday, March 16, 2009

Up the creek

G'day all!

The other day, after I got bike's first ever flat tyre fixed*, we went for a ride up the Los Gatos Creek. We've done that before. But this was an adventure!

You'll just have to wait for more pictures....

And I have a new FO! But I only just finished it and the sun's almost set so pics will have to wait. And I am half an hour behind on getting tea cooked so I am going to be late for the knitting guild meeting

*what, fix it myself when with a bit of a pump up I can ride to the bike shop where they will fix it for less than $20 in 20 minutes and I can go do a little shopping with no cussing or grimy hands or unladylike behaviour, apart from mounting the bike of course....

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Captn she cannae tae nae more!

G'day all!

So here's me with my new handspun shawl on the needles (likely a shawlette cos I only have 400m)

Isn't it purdy? It's Tactile's Dogwood in merino/bamboo. (PS remind me that I don't enjoy spinning stuff with tencel but with bamboo - lovely!)

And the Eyesore sock progresseth - I only have another 2cm of pattern and then some ribbing before I can cast it off and start the next one. You can see the yellow flash that occurred with the gusset shaping.

Look at the way the lifted increase created a pink bar on a lot of the gusset (am I the only person who types guesset a lot?) stitches on the riverbed architecture. Nifty eh? And there is much more nifty than that but I am going to see if I can video it just to show I am not playing tricks.

And then there is the shop sample. It is in SWTC Terra, which I am rather enjoying knitting though it seems to be drying my fingies out. More than half of the 13" of stocking stitch is now conquered! Why? Cos I spent three hours watching "Creating Machine Embroidery with Alison Holt: Flowers and Landscapes." Completely rivetting, believe it or not and perfect for entertaining me as I knitted vast swathes of stockinette.

And now I am all enthused about getting an embroidery hoop and trying out some machine embroidery (and so is Nathan!!!). I really don't need another hobby.

But I have to get the Eyesore socks finished by the end of the month along with the shop sample and the shawl - the socks for the sock a monthalong, the shawl for Tactile's birthday comp and the shop sample because my work permit expires at the start of April.

So my work permit is about to run out. I chased up what was happening with it.

Nothing. They had not done anything about it after enquiring about my work status in late January. I didn't realise nothing was happening until I looked at the date and thought "nothing has happened!" So I won't be able to work after the 4th of April until it is approved again (paperwork is in progress) and then my visa expires in December or something so it will only run for a few months. Ah well. By then we might be totally jack of this place (rather than mostly jack) and it won't matter. But it will create some problems for my Etsy shop.

I was ever so domesticated yesterday. I roasted a chook and made four little jars of cumquat marmalade. I think it will be rather tart. The chook was funny - I put it in an oven bag, an oven bag brought from Oz cos the ones here are rubbish - they melt! Anyway, there were a couple of pops and splutters from the oven which I ignored. The chook was heating up and starting to cook and I guess it didn't have much in the way of holes (apart from the obvious orifices) unlike the oven bag which I had very carefully cut in three places with the kitchen snips.


Holy cow! (or chook in this case!) The chicken just exploded!

It sounded a bit worrisome so I went to check it. The bag had burst at the neck end of the chook. It was split right across. It looked like the chook had fired a grenade out of its neck hole or something and there was a splatter on the hot oven wall....

And another thing? I'm trying "low 'poo." No, I'm not on a liquid diet, I am using castille soap as shampoo and rinsing with apple cider vinegar. So far so good - this is the third week I think. My head is nowhere near as itchy and the oils are not building up as much and certainly not as quickly. (Now I will have to itch my head cos I said it was not itchy.) I am not having to wash my hair every day - after three days it is getting pretty skanky but certainly not on the second.

I reckon that is your bloomin' lot!


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

My needles are on fire!

G'day all!

Help! My needles are on fire! I am not going to show you all the things I am working on at the moment - some are so embryonic that there is no point (eg how exciting is stocking stitch?). You'll have to trust me that I am enamoured particularly of one but the others are pretty darned fantastic too :-)

I've finished most of the knitting for the Mystery Item in purple/blue. I now have to find suitable buttons for it - I think I need ones that match it precisely or are clear. I don't want buttons that stand out on it cos I think the item should be the star of the show not the buttons.

Doesn't the (back of the) blocked lace look pretty held up against the light?

So after I get buttons and seam the shoulders, I can knit the button bands, put the arms on and voila! A new spring cardi! (Does that tell anyone what it is yet?)

This scrumptious little ball of handspun merino bamboo yarn is on its way to becoming something absolutely fantastic. Or at least I hope so. So far it is knitting up amazingly. Pics when I have more to show.

Then there is the eyesore sock.

I love the heel. Eye of Partridge does it again! Big hearts all round!

But the pattern I wanted to try? Well it looks a bit more like some sort of cthulhoid creature is attacking the yarn. I need to make the loops tighter. I might try it with some different yarn. The loops felt very heavy even with this light sportweight yarn.

Then there is the new top I am knitting for my LYS. So far it is only three rows of garter and about 3cm of stocking stitch. Only 11.5 inches of stocking stitch to go before I get to the pattern! Oh and it is on 4mm needles and has 216 stitches per row. Ai!

In other news, one of my decisions for this year was to learn some Latin American Spanish. So far so bad. I've been borrowing stuff from the library. The first DVD would not play under Linux. The CDs turned out to only be slang words, not how to speak Spanish per se. It is nice that I now know *the* baddest word in Mexico but I'd prefer to know some others as well. The second DVD is aimed at kids under 10. Hmmm....

And now it is time for


Yay! Kermit-style waving of hands!

Things must be bad when the LA Times is a source of science news, but here we go. Potassium:sodium ratios in your food might help determine your likelihood of heart disease.

This dinosaur had sideways "hands."

How do we tell them time? How do we estimate the time? Something we take for granted may not always work so well. More info here.

This postcard paints a bleak picture in California's Inland Empire.

And elsewhere:

Here's something I need on cooler days - earmuffs for my bike helmet! But I would have to make them out of silk or something cos my ears would itch like billy-o if I used wool, even the softest silkiest butteriest wool.

This little guy (or gal) is a fantastic new species of fish. You must watch the videos! Most bizarre.

Do you know Craig?

Is cooking something that makes us human?

Men and housework and women and s e x.

(rav link)A fantastic crocheted outfit. Can anyone tell what train he is on? I thought it was a bit NYC-ish. I've not been on the BART yet. (Thanks to Anita B for the link)

Totally bizarre - an early so-called vampire.

My home city is supposedly going to have a desalination plant in ?three? years? We don't want it. We should be recycling our water and using our stormwater much more wisely. Here's an article about things we could be doing instead of putting in a massive plant that will require massive amounts of energy. Even it doesn't list things like local plants cleaning up stormwater or rain water tanks, etc.

Apparently climate deniers believe that climate change is a big hoax designed by environmentalists to destroy the free market. Who knew? I would've thought that using resources wisely and looking after the planet was in our own best interests. Mebbe not!

Avoidance may not be the best thing to reduce the increasing incidence of peanut allergies in small children.

That's great! I've gotten rid of a whole heap of tabs - only about 30 left now ;-)