Monday, September 18, 2006

The bits that didn't quite fit into the other four entries

Look what Amanda brought us all back from Japan! It's a little plushy Totoro family, and there was one for each of us -- mine is the one on the right, and it came from the actual Studio Ghibli Museum shop too. I can hardly believe how adorable they all are. :)

In spite of the way things are probably looking from all the entries I've written today -- Nothing for over two and a half weeks, and then five entries all at once? Go figure! ;) -- I've actually been making some progress with my knitting, even if it's not quite as much as I would've liked.

My 'Pacific Ocean Stole' has grown quite a lot, and the second skein is disappearing at quite a reasonable rate...

That's more than six pattern repeats finished. We'll just ignore the fact that there are probably another fourteen repeats to go to make it the length I'd like it to be... ;)

A few months back, I posted about the lovely semi-solid dark blue hand-dyed Mollydale Mohair yarn Michael bought me at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. The scarf I've been knitting from it has been in my side bar for quite a while, but I realized the other day that I'd never actually written about it.

Maybe I've been overlooking it due to the problems I had getting it started. ;) For what should have been a simple moss stitch scarf, this project is my current record holder for the most times an individual project has been restarted before the knitted fabric finally looked right. If you didn't know better, you really could be forgiven for thinking I must have only started knitting last week, as only a real novice could have made so many errors of judgement. Maybe I was just having a really off day.

It really shouldn't have been this way, though, as there were similar moss stitch scarves available for sale on the Mollydale stall, and the two lovely ladies there assured me that they had all been knit on 10 mm needles, and that I would be able to reproduce the slightly tighter tension of the scarf I particularly liked (which had been knit by a particularly tight knitter apparently) by knitting mine on 9 mm needles. Well, the needle sizes quoted seemed a bit large to me, but I was prepared to believe that the Mollydale ladies knew their yarn better than I did -- mohair yarns can be quite deceptive, after all. Well, the 9 mm needles produced a fabric which was ludicrously lacy, and going down to 8 mm needles didn't help much either. My initial guess, before the ladies had corrected me, had been that the moss stitch scarves on the Mollydale stall had been knit with 6 mm needles, and the consensus of opinion around me the day I started knitting with the yarn was that the ladies on the Mollydale stall must have been tired by the time I spoke to them (it was very late in the day, and the second last day of the show after all), and they were probably quoting me the needle size for their bulky yarn. So I went with my original gut feeling and cast on using 6 mm needles, which amazingly enough produced a fabric quite similar to the ones I had seen in the scarves on the stall. As I still wanted a scarf more like the one I'd seen which had been knit a bit tighter, I went down to 5.5 mm needles, and finally to the 5.0 mm needles I'm now using. This wasn't the end though, as I still had to tweak the number of stitches to get the width of scarf I wanted, eventually settling on 37 stitches to get a width of 24 cm.

But this wasn't the end either, as when I finally had the tension right and the width right, another problem revealed itself. It soon became apparent that my scarf was going to look like I had taken Tigger...

... and given her an indigo bath. No kidding, it was most strongly resembling an indigo tiger's pelt. Eek!

So it was back to the start once again, this time alternating between the two skeins to break up the colour pools. Success at last, but sadly this is never going to be the take along project I had hoped it would be -- knitting it in public is pretty much out of the question as the yarn stains my fingers too badly for that to be a serious proposition. I'm now filling this gap with my 'Lost In Translation' scarf.

Some new magazines have also found their way to me.

The 'Yarn' magazine is the first issue of my brand new subscription, which arrived on schedule exactly as promised. Well done, once again, Barbara! The magazine is stunning. :) The latest issues of the US 'Creative Knitting' and UK 'Simply Knitting' magazines were an absolute nightmare to find, as none of my local newsagents were deemed worthy enough to carry them by the evil magazine distributors it seems. Even the large newsagents in major shopping centres hadn't received any copies, so I had to travel much further afield to find them. The jury is still out as to whether or not the effort was worth it, but I may be a bit more generously disposed towards them once I get over my annoyance at the trouble I had getting them.

I've also gone ahead and done something potentially reckless. Yes... In a moment of weakness, I signed up for Secret Pal 9. ;) This is the first time I've been brave enough to sign up for one of these, and hopefully I will be up to the challenge of coming up with the perfect gifts to send to my Secret Pal. When there are a few more buttons posted on the Secret Pal 9 blog, I'll add one to my sidebar.

I was also lucky enough to meet Meg at the last get-together at Rubi & Lana. Meg took advantage of the cooler weather that day to wear her green 'Lace Panel Sweater', which I can tell you looks even better in real life than it already does on her blog. :)

Phew! That's going to have to be all for now, and I think I may finally be all caught up on my blog entries. :)

Labels: , , , , ,

Stash enhancement

Look what landed on my doorstep last week...

It's three skeins of 'Trekking XXL' yarn in colourways 66, 76 and 71 -- there are definitely going to be some 'Trekking XXL' socks in my future. :) I originally set out to find some of the 'Trekking XXL' yarn in colourway # 68, but got distracted. ;) The quest for a skein in colourway # 68 will continue though...

The fourth skein (the one on the right in the photo) is an earlier 'Trekking XXL' purchase (colourway # 109), which in real life isn't as washed out looking as it appears in my photograph. At the moment I'm leaning towards turning this one into a pair of these...

... the Fiber Fish Mittens which Laurie designed. Aren't they just amazing? :)

I'm enjoying knitting my 'Pacific Ocean Stole' with the Madil 'Kid Seta' yarn so much, I bought some more of it from Rubi & Lana last time I was there, this time in a fabulous colourway with deep wine reds highlighted with some dark purples...

... which I think will make a stunning version of Nancy Bush's "Madli's Shawl", from the Summer 2004 issue of 'Interweave Knits'...

... which I wrote about wanting to knit in an earlier entry.

Some more ColourMart cashmere also found it's way to me last week...

Two cones of 4 ply cashmere in a couple of fabulous, saturated colours -- the deep blue one is called 'Bay', and the rich burgundy one is 'Victoria'. There's 1,150 yards on each cone so there should be plenty to knit a couple of lovely warm, soft shawls to cuddle up in.

These colours were actually quite a challenge to photograph. I think the photo above is quite close to showing the colours as they appear in real life in sunlight (at least on my computer screen), but the original photographs I took the other day had completely the wrong tone to them -- the 'Victoria' actually came out quite orange in tone for some reason.

I had a bit more luck with flash photography inside...

... but even this wasn't turning out quite right colourwise, and the flash made the yarn look a lot shinier than it really is. Maybe I'll get better at taking accurate photographs over time.

I thought I'd also share with you a photo of the cashmere and silk cobweb weight yarn I bought from ColourMart a while back...

That's 'Grey' on the left and 'Navy' on the right, and there's an incredible 5,000 yards on each cone. I'm sorely tempted to use the 'Grey' to knit a truly ethereal version of Sharon Miller's 'Wedding Ring Shawl', but that is still in the future for me, as I'm going to have to work down to knitting with super fine yarns like this.

Labels: , , ,

Undervaluing your craft

About a year ago, I bought a book on eBay, and when it arrived I found a little surprise waiting for me inside...

A clipping from a what I'm guessing is a Queensland newspaper from around 1985, if the location and date written by the original owner on the inside cover of the book are any guide.

I always knew that the going rates for knitters who were willing to knit for others had been low, but this just blew me away. Just by way of contrast, I'm fairly certain that at around the same time you could have earned around $9 per hour working in a department store as a shop assistant with little or no experience for basic award rates. And these charges aren't even an hourly rate, as I'm sure very few people could knit through a ball of yarn in an hour -- OK, I'll admit that I certainly can't -- let alone the 15 to 20 minutes you'd need to achieve to even start to make a reasonable income. Talk about undervaluing your craft, and the years it took to acquire your skills... :(


Hush, Hush...

Project Details:

Koigu "Charlotte's Web Shawl"
Koigu Painter's Palette Premium Merino in P426, P417, P428, P405 and P217
Addi 5.0mm circular needle
Tulip 3.5mm bamboo crochet hook

This isn't a recent project, and is probably due for a re-blocking, but I thought I'd write about it here now as I've always been quite pleased with the way it turned out.

"Charlotte's Web" was quite a leap of faith for me, as Koigu PPPM isn't available here in Australia. I chose not to order one of the kits that were commonly available at the time, but instead ordered a selection of Koigu PPPM colourways from the Needles & Pins website in Canada, and crossed my fingers that I'd be able to put together the look I wanted from them when they finally arrived here, all the while contemplating the insanity of thinking I could choose colourways of a handpainted yarn this way and expect them to work together at all. Happily, the gamble paid off, as amongst my small selection were five which co-ordinated well. :)

I actually knit this shawl three times before I was finally happy with the ordering of the five colourways -- one of the lessons I learnt from knitting this project was that the ordering which looks best when the hanks of yarn are laid out on the table may not be the one which will look best in the finished shawl. I also graded the colourways through the fringe around the edge of the shawl in a similar order to the one used to knit the shawl itself.

For some reason, Amanda refers to this shawl as my 'hippy shawl'. ;)

And here is a close-up photo of the corner of my shawl...

... which I've included here as it really annoyed me that none of the multitude of photographs of "Charlotte's Web Shawls" I came across on the internet when I was trying to finish mine showed what people had done with the crochet edging at the corners of their shawls. The pattern was also somewhat vague on this point.

On mine, I played around with the chain length on the beginning and ending corners of the final edging row, and finally settled on 11 chain stitches as the length which gave me the best result. I also bypassed the problem a lot of people had with the cast off by omitting that step altogether and instead working the first row of the crochet edging directly into the live stitches of the final row of the shawl, which resulted in a neat edge which was relatively easy to stretch to size when the shawl was being blocked.


More Sea Silk-y Goodness?

At least I'm hoping there will be some more in my future if I can find out the name of this 'Sea Silk' colourway...

I found the photo here on Hired Hands, but unfortunately Paula wasn't able to tell me the name of the colourway as it wasn't printed on the label. Anyway, I have my fingers crossed that I'll be able to find out what colourway this stunning combination of greens and purples is, and that Purl Yarns will be able to order some in for me. In the meantime, if anyone knows the name of this 'Sea Silk' colourway, please let me know.

Oh, and apologies to Donni for running off with all the Hand Maiden 'Sea Silk' in 'Ocean'. ;)

It's entirely possible that I may have a bit of a thing for purple and green combinations like this. I already have several skeins of this...

... sitting in my stash, dreaming of one day soon becoming a long garter stitch scarf similar to one 'Joan' wore in one of the episodes of 'Joan of Arcadia'. Of course, Joan's scarf was a completely different colour -- from memory, I think it was rosy shades of pink.


Friday, September 01, 2006

Oceans and Seas

Last Saturday's get-together at Rubi & Lana was one of the largest yet -- with Sally, Celia, Simone, Taryn, Kate, Lara and myself. It was a lot of fun catching up with all the projects everyone is working on, and I even proved to myself that I can work on a lace pattern in public without having to rip it all back afterwards.

After finally seeing a sample of the Hand Maiden 'Sea Silk' yarn in the 'Ocean' colourway in person, resistance was futile and Purl Yarns had my order not long afterwards. A day or so later, some stunning yarn arrived on my doorstep...

... beautifully presented with a green ribbon tied around it. Words cannot express how soft this yarn is to the touch, and how much I love this colourway. I have a feeling that it won't be too long before the 'Sea Silk' finds its way on to my needles... ;)

A few years ago, I bought the Fibertrends Baltic Sea Stole pattern...

... and was subsequently inspired by the version of this stole Kate Gilbert knit for her wedding using Rowan 'Kidsilk Haze' to put aside several skeins of 'Kidsilk Haze' in the 'Lord' shade, which is a deep, vibrant shade of blue.

The 'Kidsilk Haze' may still be maturing in my stash, but its close relative Madil 'Kid Seta', in a variegated colourway of rich watery blues and golds, called out loudly to me recently.

So loudly, that it has beaten the 'Kidsilk Haze' on to the needles...

And is growing at quite a fast rate...

It's actually grown a little more since I took the second photograph, as I've knit another 16 rows (half of a pattern repeat), and have now reached the end of the first skein. I just love the colours in this yarn, which are much more Pacific Ocean with the sun reflecting off the water than Baltic Sea to my mind -- appropriately enough, as I live in Sydney after all :) -- so I'm thinking of this stole as my 'Pacific Ocean Stole'. For those of you playing at home, this pattern is a more subtle demonstration of my mirror image knitting -- if you're interested, you'll need to look closely at the photo of the original stole and those of my works in progress.

I've been having some fun with selecting the best needles to use for this project too. I started knitting the stole on these...

... as I didn't own any 3.5mm straight needles, and the Tulip brand needles have sharper points and a cord which straightens out much better for me than the Clover circular needles I also have. Unfortunately though, sliding all the yarn overs from the cord to the needle was a slow process, and keeping all the stitches on the bamboo part of the needle, while possible, meant that I couldn't see how the pattern was developing or spot potential errors easily.

One of the lovely ladies at Rubi & Lana generously let me have a couple of 30cm long Japanese 3.6mm bamboo double pointed needles to trial when I was there on Saturday, but as I'd already knit half of the first pattern repeat by then I didn't want to risk a noticeable change in tension by switching over to them at that point, so testing out these needles will have to wait until I start my 'Kidsilk Haze' version of the stole after I finish this one.

So I bit the bullet and hopped on a bus into the city on Sunday afternoon, as I knew Tapestry Craft had the needles I wanted in stock...

... which I bought along with a few other non-standard sized straight needles in an attempt to avert similar problems in the future.

A couple of hanks of JJ's Montage Collection 10 ply yarn, hand painted by Jan Gilray in the (now discontinued?) 'Forest' colourway...

... may also have hitched a ride with me on the bus back home. I'm thinking this yarn has possibilities for making an interesting version of the 'Starburst Shawl' from Iris Schreier's 'Modular Knits' book.

My version of the 'Lost in Translation' scarf has also progressed...

... and I'm now almost finished the second skein, and have reached the halfway point, I think.

I had one of those small world moments this week, when I received a comment on my last posting from someone who actually saw Edith Eig knitting the 'Lost in Translation' scarf, and assures me that the pattern in the book is indeed correct as written. I'm still not entirely convinced that the scarf which appears in the film is the same as the one pictured in the book, but I'm really impressed that someone on the other side of the Pacific Ocean took the time to write to me about this. Thank you! :)

As for my scarf... I played around with the pattern a fair bit (Remember the 'I frog' button in my sidebar? ;) ) before I decided to go with a version with the pattern from the book plus the extra two rows at the end of the repeat I mentioned in my last posting as the variation which appears to work best with the much finer yarn I chose. While it may not be identical to the scarf in the book or in the film, I'm liking the way it's turning out, and the way it evokes the look of the scarf in the film to me -- which is why, I guess, I still think of it as my 'Lost in Translation' scarf. :)

I've also finished knitting my 'Celtic Waves Scarf' since my last posting, but it will need to be blocked before I take a photo of it in its finished state.

I've been intending to subscribe to...

... for quite a while, and I finally got around to actually taking out a subscription last week. And the really good news is that, despite my initial fears that I may have left it too late, it looks like my subscription was taken out just in time to receive Issue #4 as my first issue. Woohoo! :)

In a somewhat reckless move, I've also subscribed, sight unseen, to Yarn Forward, the upcoming quarterly intermediate to advanced level knitting magazine from the UK. What can I say, except that the advance subscription rate was too good to resist.

Labels: , , , ,