Thursday, October 05, 2006

Secret Pal 9 questionnaire

1. What is/are your favourite yarn/s to knit with? What fibres do you absolutely *not* like?

I like natural fibres -- wool, silk, cashmere, alpaca, mohair, angora, cotton, linen, soy and bamboo, for example -- yarns which are soft and not scratchy, and preferably ones which don't shed too much as I often wear black, and my favourite place to knit is a velvet covered sofa. I knit with good quality (not necessarily expensive) yarns, as if I'm going to take the time to knit something I want it to look and feel its best. I avoid acrylics and other synthetics as much as possible as for the most part they don't breathe and make me overheat. I don't like boucle yarns, and I'm totally over the whole furry and feathery novelty yarn thing.

By way of explanation -- I chose this 'Secret Pal 9' button...

Secret Pal 9
... for my sidebar because I think it's adorably cute and love the 'Family Guy' series, and not because I have Stewie with his ray gun and an anti-acrylic hit squad lurking in the wings. I'm going to assume that my Secret Pal will have a good sense of humour. :)

I haven't mentioned any specific brand names here as I really don't want to limit the choices of my pal, or rule out any fabulous, local yarns that might be available.


2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?

My knitting needles, along with the few crochet hooks I have, are stored in cardboard PostPak tubes or boxes (depending on length), sorted by type, length and size and still in their original packaging where possible so it's easy to find matching needles in the correct size for a project. Sets that came in cases are carefully stored in those cases when not in use. Accessories like stitch markers and row counters are stored in small plastic containers. It may not be as pretty as the fabric rolls, cases and pouches a lot of knitters have, or as attractive as a jar or vase of knitting needles on my desk, but it works for me and I wouldn't have it any other way. :)


3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?

I first learnt to knit when I was 9 years old, so I've been knitting off and on for around 37 years now. There have been substantial periods of time when I haven't knit at all, but I've been knitting fairly consistently since May 2003 this time, and have learnt a lot over the past three and a half years.

My Nana originally tried to teach me to knit, but knitting right-handed just didn't work for me. Of course I didn't know that was what the problem was at the time, but fortunately one of my left-handed aunties showed me how she knit and things got a whole lot better after that. As far as I can recall, my auntie only ever showed me how to do the knit stitch, so I've had to teach myself how to do pretty much everything else, mostly by mentally flipping the instructions in books written for right-handers as there's very little out there beyond the absolute basics for us left-handers.

I'm quite a slow knitter (which I'm mostly resigned to now), but I would consider myself to have intermediate skills for the most part.


4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

I have an Amazon wish list here.


5. What's your favourite scent? (for candles, bath products, etc.)

As I'm allergic to pretty much all synthetic fragrances, this is probably an area best avoided. Tobacco smoke smells also make me feel ill.


6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favourite candy?

My weakness is dark chocolate, the darker the better. If it should happen to have chilli, spices, peppercorns, or espresso coffee blended with it too, all the better. :) I detest anything with mint though, in all of its various forms and guises.


7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?

I don't spin, and I don't crochet as I don't like the look, feel or drape of the fabric it produces. I have tried a lot of different crafts over the years, but knitting is the one that I keep coming back to.


8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)

I like late 60s / early 70s music, especially from the UK as that's where I spent a lot of my school years. Just as a guide, the CDs currently sitting out on my desk are albums recorded by Slade, Sarah McLachlan, Kate Bush, Jane Olivor, Wendy Matthews, Kate Ceberano, and Dar Williams, plus 'The Queen Symphony' CDs. I really can't stand rap, country, or religious music.

I can play MP3s on my PC.


9. What's your favourite colour(s)? Any colours you just can't stand?

I like rich, dark, saturated tones of blues, indigo, purples and greens, true reds without any trace of orange, ink navy, black, charcoal, silver, and pure white. I don't like yellow, orange, olive, brown, cream or beige -- anything which could be described as an autumnal or earth tone tends to make me look sallow. The only browns I like are dark, truffle browns -- the kind that could be worn with black accessories. I dislike neon and fluoro colours, and pastel shades of colours, but love icy tones. And I'm definitely not a pink girl.


10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

I've been married to Michael for over 21 years now, and we have two daughters -- Amanda (20) and Katherine (18). Michael and Katherine are allergic to most furry pets, so our choice of pets is a little limited. At the moment, we have a rainbow lorikeet, and Katherine has a budgie.

Due to Michael's and Katherine's allergies, anything exposed to pet hair would be a problem.


11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?

I wear scarves, and the occasional simple hat. I don't wear mittens, but I do wear fingerless gloves from time to time as they keep my hands warm without restricting the use of my fingers. I will never understand the supposed popularity of ponchos -- I strongly suspect they are a joke inflicted upon us by fashion designers.


12. What is/are your favourite item/s to knit?

I prefer knitting things with texture (cables, lace, etc.) to colour work (fairisle, jacquard, intarsia), and like my projects to have clean, simple lines, without fussy details like frills or lots of buttons. Silly as it probably sounds, I also like for the yarn and design to feel like they were always meant to be together, and not that one was imposed on the other.


13. What are you knitting right now?

I have quite a few things on the needles at the moment, which are listed under 'Currrently in progress' in my sidebar.


14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

Yes -- but nothing frilly or fragranced obviously. :)


15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminium, plastic?

I have a bias towards circular needles as the items I knit tend to be large and/or heavy, but if an individual project will work better on straight needles I use them instead. I have straight needles made from casein, bamboo, birch and faux tortoise shell. I have circular needles made from bamboo, and quite a few Addi Turbo circulars. I'd love to try ebony and rosewood needles, but they're a bit too expensive and hard to come by around here. I don't like knitting with plastic needles (except for the 15 cm metal-reinforced Pony Pearl double pointed needles I often use for socks) or the old style grey metal needles which were popular when I first started knitting -- my Nana always said these were bad for your hands, and that the tortoise shell ones were the best ones to use. I prefer double pointed needles over 'Magic Loop' or two circular needles for knitting socks. I do have a set of 'Denise' interchangeable needles, but I still haven't found the right project for them.


16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?

I own two yarn winders (a small one and a large one), and an umbrella swift.


17. How old is your oldest UFO?

Hmm...I'm guessing it's about 25 years old now. It's a jumper which would be way too small for me now, but ripping it out and starting something else with the yarn after all this time would be just too painful. I actually remember the trouble I had finding the yarn for that jumper, the number of buses and trains I had to ride to get to the drapery shop that had some in stock, and rummaging around with the shop assistant in the upstairs loft area of the shop to find the actual yarn when I got there. I actually bought the same yarn in a different colour (a dark, denimy blue colour which I really would have preferred for myself over the paler blue one I ended up with) for my sister at the same time, as she wanted to knit the same jumper. I wonder if she ever finished hers...


18. What is your favourite holiday?

One that doesn't involve heat, humidity, sand, or bushfires. I guess that's Christmas out... ;)


19. Is there anything that you collect?

Yarn, knitting books, DVDs, CDs, Japanese anime plushies -- I'm a bit of a hoarder, which is quite a challenge in a house as small as this one. ;)


20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?

I currently have subscriptions to 'Yarn', 'Rowan International', 'Interweave Knits', and 'Yarn Forward' -- I've got my fingers crossed that this last one will be as good as the hype as I've somewhat recklessly taken out a subscription prior to the arrival of the first issue. I also generally read 'Creative Knitting', 'Simply Knitting', 'Knitters', 'Vogue Knitting', 'Knit Simple', 'InKnitters', 'Knitscene', 'Knit 1', 'Rebecca' (for ideas for my daughters), and the US 'Creative Knitting' (which is ridiculously difficult to obtain here *sigh*). Maybe I should have listed knitting magazines under things I collect... ;)

If my Secret Pal turns out to be from a country KnitPicks will ship to, I'd love to get my hands on some KnitPicks 'Options' interchangeable circular needles, which I can't order for myself as unfortunately they refuse to ship to Australia. The other thing on my wish list from their website is Miriam Felton's 'Adamas Shawl' pattern, and the KnitPicks 'Shadow' yarn to make it (in either 'Vineyard' or 'Jewels' perhaps?). Thanks, Julie! :) And apologies to my Secret Pal for this last minute change to my response to this question. Eek!


21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?

Not really. I used to think I'd like to learn fairisle, but Katherine's 'Skull Vest' (which I haven't enjoyed knitting so far), plus a realization that, despite my admiration for the skill involved, I can't really see myself wearing most of the end results, have cured me of that. ;)


22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?

Yes, I do knit socks.

My foot measurements are:

Foot length - 25 cm
Ankle - 24 cm
Measurement around foot after instep and before toes - 22 cm


23. When is your birthday? (mm/dd)

June 27th


This is the first 'Secret Pal' swap I've taken part in, so I hope my answers to this questionnaire are OK. I've tried to make my answers reasonably detailed as I only started my knitting blog back in February this year, but I've also tried not to cross the line and look too picky. If I've failed in this, please let me know and I'll have another go at it.

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