Sunday, September 30, 2012

Patched, quilted and finished

 I've been steadily working on by Bad Tie Patchwork cushion. It is undoubtedly, the most fun I have ever had with the sewing machine. I loved the paper template technique, it's really supportive of the fact that I struggle with seam allowances and can't usually cut or sew in a straight line. I have learnt so much doing this project, most of it probably glaringly obvious to everyone else. Learning highlights included: it's better not to hold the fabric in a death grip. That makes the threads in the back go funny. It's not a fault with the machine, but I guess I learnt a whole lot about it while investigating what I thought had to be  an issue with the machine, but turned out to be an issue with me. I also learnt to cut pieces bigger, something that will definitely improve the quality of future patched pillows. And on that note, I'm off to sort through the Bad Ties, I have the next two cushion designs chosen, printed and ready to go.
That's Tarragon sneaking through the shot.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sneaker liner project - pair 5

After I finished Colour Affection I had three leftover, matching colours. I also had a three colour Sneaker Liner in my queue, the Crystal Socklet from Knitty. Although if I had had different amounts I would have changed around which colours were which, I didn't have that option here. I know that because I originally cast on the first toe in purple, but realised I would run out of yarn if I used that. I wasn't sorry to rip it though, I found the Turkish toe prescribed in the pattern clumsy. Or, as Leon put it to poetically "Are you making another pig?" So I ripped it, cast on with a colour I have enough of and knit on up.
I had a bunch of problems with this pattern - or with how I knit it, either way. They came out a little wide, which is odd, since I knit a 60 stitch sock on 2.5mm needles, which is what I always do. I've been wondering for a while if my knitting is actually becoming looser. There are holes where the heels start, I ran out of the contrast colour and had to stripe the heels and most significantly the garter cuffs are quite loose. I know I could reknit them, but I just don't have enough invested in the this project to care. There are wearable. Now onward, to greater things.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Colour affection completed

 

I finished Colour Affection on Saturday and blocked it. It's quite huge and I love it. I have a cough right now and the entire top half of my body is wrapped in comforting, cosy wool, which can only help.
Everything about this project was satisfying. I love my colours. I love that I used stash yarn. The light purple is Socks that Rock KMBFLA, which I bought at the Sock Summit 2009. The light pink is STR Rosebud, which I had delivered in and the blue/grey is Jitterbug I bough at Bendigo 2012.
I made two little changes to the pattern - I used a KFB increase because I couldn’t remember which increases to do when and in the three colour stripe section I knit all three colours at the beginning of every row, to keep the edge neat. I love the way the garter stitch looks, I love the way the stripes come out. I love the way my cast off is both neat, stretchy and pretty.

When I cast this off I was immediately and completely in love with it. I wore it to work over a work dress, and I can equally imagine wearing it wrapped over a sun dress, or like a scarf over anything. 
 Beautiful, a fun knit and stash busting. A winner of a project.

Friday, September 21, 2012

If Stephanie Purl-McPhee and Brenda Dayne...

told you to jump off a bridge, would you? 
Well, I'd have to think about it. If Richmond Knitters Robin and Catherine went first and made it look good, then yes, I probably would.

So I grabbed three balls of sock yarn from stash and got knitting on a Colour Affection Shawl.. It's been smooth sailing, except for the bit where I went to add the third colour, and the general vote from the Richmond Knitters was that the colour I had picked was a smudge too dark. Thanks for the guidance,and also to Jen for going through my entire sock yarn stash to find the perfect, perfect third colour.
 

As an aside, when I was growing teachers and parents would say  "If so-an-so- told you to jump off the Westgate bridge would you?" I'm guessing people don't say that anymore.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Patching

On Sunday I got out the sewing machine to take up a dress that I bought last December. Whole I had the sewing machine out, I thought I would look up some ideas for sewing some of the Bad Ties we have collected over the three years Leon had been doing bad tie Monday's, into cushion covers. We have two huge bags full of ties that range from simply ugly to utterly ridiculous
I found  a tutorial by Martha Stewart on how to use a  paper template to sew log cabin squares - which means, I don't have to be able to cut in a straight line, which is usually my biggest issue with sewing. (as an aside, I didn't realise Martha Stewart was such a tripper. the video is here, if you want to see what I mean.) So I started cutting up the ties. I've only sewn four squares so far, but this is the most fun I have ever had with my sewing machine.

 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Beer Boy


 I finished Leon's StraBoy. It was one of the most enjoyable things I have knit in a long time. The pattern was complex enough to hold my interest, but simple enough that I only had to glance at the chart. The yarn was a British Blue Faced Leicester, and is soft and wonderful, I love the definition on the cables. I do think it ended up a smidge too long, but so many of the jumpers I have made for Leon are a smidge too short, so that's just one of those things.
Leon was saying "wait, I need a beer in my hand"
Leon says he loves it and that "it's like being hugged by a muppet". When I pointed out that muppets are probably acrylic he amended it to "a sheepy muppet".  


The pictures were taken at True South brewery. I ran down there on Saturday and met Leon and some other friends. They went off to take photos by the brewing equipment and when they came back, they were very excited because the brewers where there and had taken them around and shown them stuff. 
 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Jabba the Hatt

I loved the yarn I made Straboy out of so much that, when I finished the jumper with two and a half balls left over I decided to make a hat for myself immediately. I have only made one hat this year and it was for Leon and I really feel like I don't have the perfect hat just yet. I cast on this hat with 5mm needles, because I wanted this SLOUCHY. To increase the slouch factor I added an extra repeat. I finished it on Wednesday, put it on and it was ridiculous. And not in a good way. Huge, floppy and unwearable.
So I decided to rip back the crown and the extra repeat. When I was ripping I realised I had somehow added two extra repeats, so I took out one of them and started doing the decreases again.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Thursday was cold, and I was not wearing warm enough clothes, because I ran to work, so I had taken my clothes in earlier in the week.  I really wanted to get this hat finished, so I could wear it. I was knitting in a restaurant and the waiter, making small talk, asked me if knitting  is relaxing. As, right at that moment I was knitting the top of this hat for the second time, and my stitch count had just gone off, the only reply I could give to that was "sometimes". We finished our meal, I finished the hat, and put it on my head to leave. The waiter looked amazed and asked me if I had just made that. Yes, yes I had. I walked out of the restaurant with the pride of making and a warm head.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
And this hat really did keep my head warm. And my neck. At one point I thought about wrapping my hands in it as well. Despite my ripping back, this hat is enormous. Leon insisted on calling it Jabba the Hatt, which is kind of funny but not kind. I knew that to make a really wearable hat I should rip and reknit again, but I wasn't sure I had the will. I rolled up the brim to see how it would look shorter, and discovered that with the brim rolled, it looks amazing, and keeps my ears incredibly warm. So that's how I'm going to wear it. Warm and squishy and comfortable and just the right size.

 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Inspiring fluff


I haven't been spinning. Not I haven't been spinning much. I haven't been spinning at all. I haven't had anything on my wheel since I got back from overseas. I'm not quite sure why. It might be a combination of a number of things, including the sheer amount of yarn I have, the fact that spinning and running take the same leg muscles, and the amount of arm and shoulder pain spinning was contributing to. Also I've had some well documented experiences with things not coming out quite as I hoped. Still one of my favourite things to do is to take the wheel onto the balcony and sit and listen to a book and spin in the sun. Spring is getting here and I was toying desultorily with the idea of getting something on the wheel.
The colour is richer and greener and prettier than in looks here.
 
 And then Melanie  presented me with some fibre she had blended just for me. It's Southdown and Merino, it's beautifully blended, fluffy and soft and Melanie made it in a colour that goes beyond what I would call my favourite, I'm basically obsessed with this colour. So tomorrow I'm going to pull the wheel away from the wall, sit down and start spinning this up. I'm looking for a heavy laceweight, but more I'm looking for the joy in the process, rather than being overly focussed on what my yardage will be, or what I'm going to make from it when I'm done. I'm so excited and so lucky to have a friend as skilled and generous as Mel is.
 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Some things I bought

I finished Leon's jumper yesterday. He tried it on prior to blocking and I'm very happy with it, although I'm hoping it blocks out a tiny bit wider and a tiny bit shorter. I'm really, really hoping it doesn't grow. While I wait for it to dry I'll tell you about a couple of things I bought recently which I love, love love.
 
I love stitch markers. I've got loads of pretty ones with things dangling from them. Unfortunately when I'm actually knitting plain ones are easier to use. http://www.etsy.com/shop/KnitsByJo makes markers that don't dangle, don't have gaps for the yarn to get caught in and are still very pretty. As a bonus she's in Australia, so they came very quickly, and they look kind of like captured ring body jewellery.
 
When I saw these bags from http://www.etsy.com/shop/RadioactiveRabbit?ref=pr_shop_more  I had to buy one. I've got a bit of an obsession with things with sheep on them, and with project bags, so a project bags with sheep on it? I couldn't go past it. Using the Tom Binh stuff sacks has shown me that I really like drawstring bags, so I can leave my working yarn in the bag, but I wanted something pretty and this really fits the bill. And its so well sewn, just really nice quality.
 
 
 It has pockets, and it is reversible, and there are sheep and one little sheep dog. I'm also excited to be knitting a project that is small enough to fit in here, after the rather larger things I have been spending my time on of late.
 
And I've bought no yarn, even though Radioactive Rabbit was offering free shipping if I bought a skein of yarn as well. I must say, that was quite hard to say no to, but the other day I got a jumper's worth that I mailed when I was in the UK, and I've just managed to force that into the almost overflowing stash box. I'm hoping that by Bendigo next year I will have a three quarters empty box and I can buy all the yarn. Until there is breathing room in the box, I'm going to keep the self control up.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Kitten Knitting


 

On Wednesday I wasn't very well, so I spent the day on the couch. During the day all the cats visited me, Princess Daisy sat on my lap for hours as I knitted and watched TV, Tarragon wandered across and stood there, looking put out because my hands were bust doing something other than holding him. 
At one point Juniper jumped onto my lap. I discovered that she's a little bit fascinated by the knitting. Mostly she sat there, looking cute and staring at my hands as they moved. For me the cutest moment of the day was when I put my knitting down, and left the room. When I got back, there she was sitting on it as if to say , "well, I'm royalty. Why wouldn't I sit on the softest, cosiest thing in the room?".

 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Commercial socks

About four years ago I bought a dozen sneaker liners from an online retailer - you know the type - cheap, comfortable enough with a short row toes and a seam across the top of the foot.. 
 Shortly after that I started knitting my own socks, and for the last three years have worn handknit socks except when I'm riding or running and then I've been wearing these sneaker liners, which did the job. 

They are starting to wear out, which is why I started the sneaker liner project, the aim of which was to replace my commercial sneaker liners with handknit ones, as they wore out. In January this year I started running. As the year has progressed I've started increasing my distances and handknit socks are not ideal to run in - or, to be accurate, handknit socks in 4ply are not ideal for long distance running. I think if I knit them in laceweight or cobweb, on appropriate sized needles, that would do the job nicely. But I thought I would be like other people, and buy my running shocks from a shop. I started with some Nike Dry Fit Socks (3 for $25) .
 
They were fine, but I discovered that they were too low cut for my latest sneakers. Unfortunately I found this out at kilometre ten of a 19 km training run. I didn't get a blister, but I did bleed on my brand new shoes. Then I bough some 2XU socks - again from the factory outlet, They seemed fine in training. But look at the shape of the toe.

 Even in the picture from their website you can see there is extra fabric at the toe . Will it surprise you when I tell you that at kilometre 19 of a half marathon that excess fabric started to rub? I got a blood blister. I won't share photos because my feet are gross and some of you have delicate stomachs. 

Finally I bought a pair of Nike ankle high dry fit socks (1 for $25)  They are somewhat better, but if you look at the picture you can see they still have seams across the toe and a whole lot of -in my opinion- unnecessary texture. 
 
All three of these socks have seams and ill fitting short row heels.  I'm a handknitter and I know there is a better way. Has the idea of seamless socks never occurred to the designers of these commercially produced socks? Maybe a different style of heel? I understand that it might cost more to do it right, but I'm paying a premium for what I originally presumed to be a premium product. 
So, back to the plan of knitting these out of cobwed yarn. All I have to do now is source some 0.25 mm double pointed needles.