Monday, January 21, 2008

Are we sensing a theme here at all?

One of the presents I received for Christmas this year was this...

I don't know how Amanda did it, but she managed to find me a Luke's coffee cup, which would have to be the perfect gift for a 'Gilmore Girls' fan like myself.

It's probably not obvious from the photo, but this cup is huge! It easily holds 500 ml of coffee, and you definitely need to hold it with two hands.

But that wasn't all.

When I opened my brother's Christmas present to me, this is what I found...

Yes, it's an equally large tea cup.

Are we sensing a theme here at all?

I do love these over-sized cups though, as they remind me of my Dad -- when we were little, my Mum got tired of constantly refilling his tea cup after dinner, and solved the problem by finding a huge 'Father' tea cup for him, which was capable of holding a whole pot's worth of tea in one go.

The other Christmas present I just have to share with everyone is this one...

My whole family loves seeing the photos of Twinkie on Donna's blog, and reading about her adventures, so Michael couldn't resist a calendar which promises us a year of her super-cute relatives...

And just in case anyone is wondering what happened with the 'Henry' scarf I was knitting for my brother for Christmas...

Well, life got in the way once again, and I missed the deadline...

As you can see, it's almost done now (Finally!), and fortunately my brother has been very understanding about the delay. I've actually worked a few more rows since I took this photo, so the end truly is in sight at last.

Much as I love the look of this scarf, it's been a really slow project to knit, due to both the fine yarn and the denseness of the woven transverse herringbone stitch pattern. The yarn I'm using also has an annoying tendency to split, which has slowed things down even more. Despite all this, I will knit this pattern again as I really do love the way it looks.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas gift knitting distractions

Apologies for neglecting this blog lately, but I've been kept away by a series of migraines and some mishaps with my Christmas gift knitting that have basically meant I've had to spend just about every spare moment of late working on one special project in particular, which is Henry...

Henry is intended to be a Christmas present for my brother, David. As far as I can recall, I've never knit anything for my brother, but as soon as I saw this scarf pattern I knew I wanted to knit this for him. As I don't think his lifestyle allows a lot of time for handwashing knits, I'm knitting his scarf in Dalegarn 'Baby Ull', as it is a lovely, soft 100% wool yarn which is machine washable. I've chosen colour 0007 for him, which is a heathered grey shade, and, even though it is disturbingly similar to the colour pictured in the pattern, I'm really hoping that the colour will work well with his business attire as his work often takes him overseas to places like New York where the weather can be really cold.

Unfortunately, this is the scarf I've had the big setback with, as I recently had to unknit 19+ rows to correct a mistake I discovered late one night. 19 rows probably doesn't sound like a lot, but Henry is knit with a relatively fine yarn and is knit lengthwise, and as David is 6' 5" tall and 452 stitch rows just weren't long enough for me, I actually lengthened the rows further to 548 stitches, so this really was a major setback -- I'm guessing that some people might have been brave enough to drop the 10 or so stitches involved down the 19 rows to fix the problem, but the density of the 'Woven Transverse Herringbone' stitch pattern completely freaked me out and I just wasn't willing to take the risk that it would unravel all the way back down to the cast on edge in a flash. It took me around a week to fix the problem and get back to the point where I discovered the problem, so I'm guessing David won't be getting his scarf on Christmas Day now, but I've been giving it my best effort to get back on track.

The other project I have in progress which is intended to be a Christmas present is the 'Sideways Lace Scarf' designed by Knitabulous, which I've been knitting for my mother...

I'm using Handmaiden '2 Ply Silk Cashmere' in the 'Rose Garden' colourway, which I know my mother will just love. As the photograph shows, this is another scarf which is knit lengthwise, and I still need to knit the second half of the scarf and graft the two halves together in order to have it finished. Eek!

Anyway... Back to the knitting, and wish me luck with getting these two scarves finished in time as I'm really going to need it.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

At last! A No Guilt Stash!

Recently, Bells and Amy from Rhode Island were discussing the amount of guilt and shame that is commonly associated with yarn stashes, and hit upon the fabulous idea of the 'No Guilt Stash'...

And they've even come up with a cool manifesto to go with Amy's button...

No Guilt Stash Manifesto

I will neither defend nor apologize for my stash. My yarn brings me joy, and therefore brings others in my life joy.

Through my hands I do good in the world. I knit with love for friends, family, and strangers. Yarn is my medium.

I promise not to let my stash acquisition interfere with personal relationships or financial health; yet neither will I give in to pressure from significant others to reduce my stash.

I will not judge others' stash. I can admire it, be inspired by it, even covet certain skeins, but it is not my place to pass judgment on quantity or quality.

I recognize that stash management is personal. I fully intend to knit my beautiful yarns, but I refuse to be guilted into doing so on anyone's schedule other than my own.

I understand that it may take many years for a yarn to reveal its destiny, and that yarns that have been in my stash for a seemingly long time just haven't met their correct pattern. I won't feel guilty about this.

I also recognize that yarn can have many destinies. It can be a reminder of a special trip, a friend, a time in one's life. It can be comfort or inspiration. It doesn't always need to be knitted to fulfill its destiny. I accept that some yarns in my possession may never be knit by me.

I believe in the karmic properties of stash. I willingly share with other knitters, and I realize the stash, like love, will grow when it is shared.

So... If you're tired of being made to feel like you should be apologizing for your stash instead of just revelling in its possibilities, don't subscribe to the ubiquitous theme that your only goal should be to knit down your stash in the shortest time possible, and you like the concept of a 'No Guilt Stash', check out Bells' and Amy's entries here and here for details on how you too can become a party to the 'No Stash Guilt Manifesto'.


Sunday, October 07, 2007

FWIW... says I'm an Uber Cool Nerd God.  What are you?  Click here!

At least I'm apparently way less dorky and awkward than I thought I was... ;)

Thursday, October 04, 2007


After Michael sent me all of those photos, I sent him a wish list in reply. And a day or so later, I received another e-mail with a zipped file attached, which the text of the e-mail assured me contained a photo of everything he had bought for me.

When I unzipped the file, this is what I found...

Michael is adamant that everything is indeed there in the photo, including a lovely brown paper bag which I can use to store my knitting.

As apparently my original wish list wasn't quite long enough (I had no idea what the prices might be like there, so I kept my original list quite short), Michael asked if there was anything else I might like that I'd perhaps left off that first list.

So I sent him a message suggesting that I might like some of the silk yarn I'd spotted in one of the photos.

And the next day I received another e-mail with another zipped file attached, which turned out to contain this photo...

That's right... All of the additional purchases are shown in this photo, along with a lovely white plastic bag which can be used to store some more of my knitting.

I'm sure I've been terribly spoilt, but I'll have to wait until the morning -- Michael should be in the air right now -- to know exactly what is hiding inside those bags. The wish lists I sent him were total guess work of course, as it was difficult to know what any of the yarns might be like in real life, or even how accurate the colours might be. And for anyone who is interested, I've uploaded a few more photos that Michael took before he was shooed out of the yarn store -- they can be found on the end of the 'Tokyo yarn store' set. I'm just amazed that Michael was brave enough to venture into the foreign territory that is The Yarn Store, and incredibly grateful that he did it for me. :)


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tokyo yarn p*rn

Michael is overseas in Tokyo at the moment, and today I received a series of ten e-mails from him which were just jam packed with photos of yarn and knitting needles which were taken at a store near where he is staying. It took over an hour and a half for the e-mails to download over my poor, overworked dial-up connection, but it was so worth it! :)

For the most part, I have absolutely no idea what I'm looking at, but everything is just so stunning and gorgeous, and in so many beautiful colours! Even though Michael only took photos of things he thought were likely to be Japanese, and not obviously European or Australian imports, there's 50+ photos all up and it really is total visual overload. :) I was about to upload the photos here to share, when, fortunately for everyone, I realized the complete and utter insanity doing that would be. So as a more practical alternative I've uploaded them to Flickr!, collected together as 'Tokyo yarn store' to make them a bit easier to find. I'd really love to have seen Michael taking all these photos though, as he says he took them 'ninja style'.

Now I just need to choose a favourite out of all of that yarn -- Can you feel my pain? ;) If anyone should happen to recognize something in the photos that they can recommend, do please let me know as I'm going to need all the help I can get to make this decision.

In the meantime, does anyone know anything about Japanese knitting needles? For instance, are the Japanese sizes of the Clover bamboo needles the store had available in abundance likely to be sized differently to the metric sized ones available here? Has anyone tried any of the other brands they have on their racks, as obviously I can't tell from the photos how smooth the needles or the joins of the circular needles might be. Even though I have no idea how practical they'd be, I'm definitely tempted to ask Michael to get me one of the 'KA' 22cm circular needles to have a play with as I've never even heard of circular needles that short before. :)

Just by the way... Is anyone else amused that my husband sent me yarn p*rn from Tokyo? ;)

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Mystery Stole 3

Although I haven't had a whole lot of success with the 'Mystery' knit alongs I've signed up for in the past -- the yarn I ordered for 'Mystery Stole 2' didn't even arrive until 3 months after the knit along ended -- when I received an e-mail letting me know that Mystery Stole 3 would be starting soon, I just had to sign up. This year's Mystery Stole has proved extremely popular. I signed up within two and a half hours of the notification going out, and even then I was the 180th person to join the Yahoo group. And by the time the group was closed to new members, there were over 6,700 people!

One really good thing about 'Mystery Stole 3' was that for once I already had at least three potentially suitable yarns in one of the colours Melanie (the designer of the Mystery Stoles) had recommended as matching the mystery theme just sitting there waiting in my yarn stash...

From left to right... two cones of ColourMart 2/36nm 55% cashmere/45% silk yarn in 'Black', an 8 oz hank of JaggerSpun 'Zephyr 2/18' in 'Ebony', and two cones of ColourMart 2/28nm 100% silk yarn in 'Black'.

And I found some Gutermann 9/0 beads at Rubi + Lana, which looked like they might work well on the black yarn...

From left to right... col. 9625 (a silvery coloured bead), col. 6785 (a darker coloured bead with an oil slick like appearance), and col. 9365 (a hematite-like bead).

As the silk yarn is the same one I've been using to knit my Candle Flame Shawl, I decided it might be nice to use one of the other two for this project.

My first test swatch was knit with two strands of the ColourMart cashmere and silk yarn held together...

I wasn't sure what size needle to use, so I tested out three different ones on this swatch, knitting one repeat of the test swatch lace pattern followed by some extra rows of stocking stitch, which I separated from each with some garter stitch rows -- from bottom to top... KnitPicks Classic 3.25mm circular needles, KnitPicks Interchangeable 3.5mm needles, and KnitPicks Interchangeable 3.75mm circular needles.

To help me make a final selection, I also trialled the beads. The beads on the left of the swatch are the silvery looking ones, which, while they looked quite solid on their own in the tube, surprised me by resembling teardrops against the strands of yarn. The beads in the centre are the 'oil slick' beads, and the ones on the right of the swatch are the hematite-like beads. The holes in the Gutermann 9/0 beads are quite small, so the only crochet hook I could find which would go through the centre of (most of) the beads was a Pony 0.60mm steel crochet hook

After I had washed and blocked the swatch, I decided that the finished fabric was going to be a bit too light weight and open for this project. While an option might have been to try knitting another swatch with three or even four strands of this yarn held together, I decided against doing this as I actually like the airy look of the fabric and would like to keep the yarn in reserve for a project where I can use it exactly like this.

So I knit a second test swatch with the JaggerSpun 'Zephyr 2/18' yarn...

As this is the exact same yarn that Melanie used for her sample stole, I just knit this swatch using KnitPicks Interchangeable 3.5mm circular needles, which was the size Melanie used for her sample. After washing and blocking, I decided I was happy with the knitted fabric of this swatch, and that I would go ahead and use this yarn and needle combination for my stole.

Which just left the decision as to what beads to use. I trialled the beads on the second swatch too. The silvery looking beads (the ones that actually look more like teardrops against the yarn) were worked at the side edges, the hematite-like beads are left of centre, and the 'oil slick' beads are right of centre. I definitely preferred the look of the hematite-like beads, which gave a sparkle to the fabric without a too blatantly beaded look, so col. 9365 it was.

And here is my progress on 'Mystery Stole 3' to date.

After finishing Clue 1...

After finishing Clue 2...

After finishing Clue 3...

And after finishing Clue 4...

(As the stole is quite long now, I've only photographed the Clue 4 section here.)

The beads I'm using are smaller than the ones originally specified in the pattern and therefore less likely to cause discomfort when the stole is worn, so, as I really like the subtle sparkle they've been adding to my stole, I decided to include beads in the centres of all of the cat's paw motifs...

(For anyone who is knitting 'Mystery Stole 3'... To centre the beads, I knit them in during the wrong side (purl) row following the middle pattern row of the motifs.)

I'm now starting Clue 5, which I will be modifying so that the 'wing' of the finished stole will go over my left shoulder -- as I'm a left-handed knitter, if I knit Clues 5 to 7 exactly as written the 'wing' of my stole will go over my right shoulder. Wish me luck! :)


Life with Lat

What happens when you leave Katherine to her own devices, and she has a can of spray paint in her possession?

Well, this of course...

Now, doesn't everyone want a large spray painted outline of a keyblade on their front lawn?

And the best part of it? While I was taking the photograph, it suddenly occurred to me that she hasn't painted the other side of her keyblade yet...