Friday, June 23, 2017

Sick day

I had a fair idea earlier this week that I was getting sick. I couldn't stop coughing, my throat hurt and my head ached. In spite of this (or rather because of it) I ran ten k's before work, and over the course of the day did 32 thousand steps. Why? Because I'm participating in the Global Challenge and there was a mini challenge to beat your PB. So I did, because I can't resist a challenge. And then today (Friday) I really did get sick. Not because of yesterdays activities, but just because it was always going to happen. 

So I spent today moving between the bed and the couch in our new flat, finally having some knitting and reading time. It was the first day I've spent here, and, despite me feeling like crap, I felt so happy to be here. I didn't do much in the way of unpacking or organising, I just sat, and rested, and admired the view. At some point this won't be our new flat, and I'll probably forget how special the view felt, but the sunshine and the sky will always make my heart sing.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wednesdays are for books (IV)

And here we are again! The move has impacted on my reading time, as well as my knitting time. Last week I was about to start Robert Bennett Jackson’s City of Miracles, the third in the series. I’m really enjoying it, which is not surprising, since I really enjoyed the previous two books.  

It has made me think, in relation to the last few books I've read, that good writing is something I can read without thinking about the actual writing. Also, this book is urban fantasy, and has miracles in it, which seem totally believable, while the last book I read I could barely believe that she forgave her ex-husband. So, good writing is good. Which is not going to stop me reading trashy, poorly written books too, because I enjoy them in their own way.
 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Sunday's post - on Tuesday

I really planned to write this on Sunday – after all, all I was doing this weekend was moving house. Hence the fact that I’ve only just managed to sit down and write it on Tuesday, surrounded by boxes and half built furniture.
On Saturday I set aside the Village Sweater Wrap again,even though it is going quite well:

Elise’s birthday is coming in three weeks, so I thought I had best get on with her birthday present. Last time I knit this cowl it took me three days. This time, not so much.
I’m probably half way through – I’m using 5ply yarn rather than worsted – I think I thought I was ordering ten ply, but didn’t, and 4mm needles. I’m not sorry about the mistake though, it’s a much airier, lither cowl, and I really like how it is coming out. The main reason it is taking longer than last time is I have boxes to unpack, cupboards to put together, cats to calm down and  generally a home to put together. It's bedtime, and I haven't knit a stitch today. Still, once everything is calm and put together, I look forward to sitting and knitting on this fun project.
 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Once in a Blue Moon...

i buy yarn. Ok, that’s a terrible pun. Elise is having a birthday, and mentioned something about bright colours and a cowl. I lent her my Millwater cowl, when she went to New York in winter a couple of years ago, so I thought she might like one of her own. I ordered yarn from Blue Moon Fiber Arts, because they are my go to yarn company when I want pretty colours. I had no idea what colour I was going together when I started looking, but eventually settled on “Leapfrog” in "Could Nine" an utterly delicious merino, cashmere, nylon base. 
They dye to order, so it normally takes about three weeks for a delivery to get here. When this one arrived, I opened it to this squishable yarn:
Winter and a lack of natural light did not help this photo!
After admiring it for a while, I realised it was quite similar to this yarn, that I dyed in 2010 (that’s a bit surprising to me. SEVEN years ago? Really?) I feel like they are quite a good match. So, I’m going to use the Blue Moon yarn to make a Millwater cowl. I should have loads of yarn left over, so I’m going to make matching mitts  and then, if I have time, I might “design” a pair of socks with a cable down the side, so everything can be matchy matchy. I should have time, after all her, birthday is not until the 7th of July, and that’s three weeks away. If only I can find my needles and ball winder in whichever boxes they ended up in.

  

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wednesdays are for books (III)

This week I read and reviewed my second NetGalley advanced reader copy, which was A Year of Second Chances, by Buffy Andrews. When I started it, it reminded me of Claire Cooke’s The Wildwater Walking Club,  another book where insipid characters make unrealistic life transitions, and I really couldn't have cared whether they did or didn't.

 
I finished it, but I found it really unsatisfying, shallow and frustrating. In my ideal world, instead of things being rated out of five stars or ten or whatever – I would give them a thumbs up, or a thumbs down. Basically, knowing what I know now, would I read this? Would I tell my friends to read this? And for this book, it would be a thumbs down.
 After two books that irritated me, I’ve started Robert Jackson Bennett’s City of Miracles. it’s the third in a trilogy, so I can be reasonably confident that I will enjoy it.
 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Well, that solved nothing

I finished the Mixalot socks yesterday. Despite switching from 2.5mm to 2.25mm needles for the second sock, the second sock is marginally bigger - it's underneath in the photo below, and you can just see it sticking out. Also, the extra length of the Karbonz got in the way.


This is quite frustrating, I used to make socks that fit me on 64 stitches and 2.5 mm needles, and now I can't get them to fit me on 2.25 needles and 60 stitches. I think my best bet is to choose patterns with cables and ribbing, so they pull in more. these wll be wearable, but I like my socks tight, and these are not.

Friday, June 9, 2017

A Village Sweater Wrap Hiatus

I finished the top edging of the Village Sweater Wrap last night. While it feels like this project has taken forever, time is moving very strangely for me right now. The edging alone took three and a half weeks, but I also knit a pair of baffies  and most of a sneaker liner.
 
The good thing is I love it. Unfinished and unblocked, but I think it's going to be amazing.
How much do you think I'm going to miss those patterned floor tiles?

Before I unpick the provisional cast on and start the bottom edging I need to do two things.
Choose which of these three to use for the bottom border:
 
And I’m putting the project into a brief time out to finish my sneaker liners. They have been sitting around for far too long, and the bottom border of the wrap, while on the same number of stitches, is a simpler lace pattern. I’ve pretty much got it memorised, without knitting a single repeat. So I don’t need a backup public knitting pattern, and having these hanging around unfinished is doing my head in a bit.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Wednesdays are for books

Welcome back to Wednesday’s are for books, a weekly post where I talk about what I've been reading this week.
A couple of weeks ago, a blogger I was reading mentioned that the book she was reviewing was an advance reader copy from Netgalley. I’ve heard of Netgalley around the place, so I checked it out and joined up. I figured that, due to regional restrictions and other factors, I would not get approved for many books. So I clicked “request now” on four books. Three of which I was accepted for. Clearly because I am a tastemaker! Now I have to read and review those books. Lesson learned, in future I will request books one at a time. Although who knows, maybe no one will send me books free books, ever again, so I’m definitely going to enjoy these.
 
The first book I read was a romance by Aria Hawthorne Closer
 

And I guess, if I’m going to read ‘Billionaire Romance Novels” I won’t tear apart the entire genre. I really wanted there to be a “four stars if you like this kind of thing and two and a half if you don’t”. Awkward, and another lesson to me to choose carefully in the future.
 
This was my review: 
 
This was a pleasant enough read, and well quite written. The main female character Inez was wonderfully sassy and vibrant. I found Sven, the lead male character, rather one dimensional. I think I’m feeling a little bit cynical today, so their love at first sight felt a little shallow to me.
I think this book would benefit from setting aside cynicism, particularly in relation to the idea of psychologically induced sight impairment.
This is a good, solid romance novel. It has some sexual content, but I wouldn’t say enough to have it in the category of “erotic romance”. Nothing against the book, it just seems slightly miscategorised.

Let me know in the comments if you are reading anything good this week!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

A bit on the side

 I have largely been knitting the endless edging on the Village Sweater wrap, but I did cast on a pair of sneaker liners in Rachel Coopey's Mixalot pattern, because sometimes it's just not appropriate to stare at a chart.


I've been knitting with my beloved Signature 2.5mm sock needles. A couple of Fridays ago I lost one. Or rather dropped it on the floor at my parents, and they didn't find it until they vacuumed. It prompted me to do something I'd been thinking for a while: go down a needle size for socks. Maybe I've become a looser knitter, or maybe I'm choosing to knit with finer yarn, but my last few pairs of socks have been a bit loose on me, and have lacked that nice, tightly knitted feeling. i bought Karbonz in 2.25mm. I like the Karbonz almost as much as the Signatures, and they are a third of the price. The only thing is, the Karbonz only come in a 6inch, and I love the shorter Signatures. We'll see how it goes.

In the meantime I'm finishing the first sock on the 2.5mm needles, and I'll do the second on the 2.25s, and then we can compare and contrast. 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Everything must be teal

I got up on Sunday after Good Beer week to find one of the cats has thrown up, quite enthusiastically, on my printed pattern for the Village Sweater Wrap. While I have expressed before how I prefer to use paper, this was one situation where electronic would have been so much better. So I threw out the revolto paper pattern, and worked from my tablet. It wasn't too bad, although I still find paper simpler. But I want to keep the option of taking my tablet out of my house. I took it to Thailand, without any sort of case on it, and really felt like some protection was in order. So, I bought a teal case.

I want everything to be teal, or mint as it is sometimes called. In fact, this blog might turn into an endless list of teal purchases!


Friday, June 2, 2017

Slowly slowly

I haven’t posted about my actual knitting for a while. This might be because not much has changed since the last time I talked about my knitting.
This is the edging of my Village Sweater Wrap: 



The picture fails to capture how much further there is to go. I'm just past the first arm hole, so just over a third of the way through. It’s 47 stitches of relatively simple lace. I’ve been knitting it since Monday two weeks ago. It’s quite pleasant, and slowly growing but I can’t quite work out why it’s growing so slowly.
One reason I know is that the first week I was knitting it during Good Beer Week, so I didn’t take it out and about with me. I knit other things, and when I’m knitting two things it makes everything feel like it takes forever.
But the main reason, I think, is that this is just a slow knit for me. I love the needles I’m knitting on (Karbonz of course) I love the yarn, I love the way the lace looks.

So really, what’s the rush? I’m not going to be cold without it, I’m enjoying the process, so I’m going to keep knitting and loving this for as long as it takes.  

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Wednesdays are for books

I miss the yarnalong, and talking about books on my blog, so I’ve decided to talk about what I’ve been reading on Wednesdays. I’ve even changed the tagline of the blog!
This week, I’ve been reading Girl 99 by Andy Jones. Here's a picture of the cover:
I’m really enjoying it, perhaps a little to my surprise. It was one of those books that Amazon offers for $2 and they can be a bit hit and miss, but this is charming. It’s a lightish, pleasant read, but, particularly for a romcom  all the characters have a bit of depth. It’s refreshing to read a book like this told from the guys point of view.
If you want to connect with me about books, I’m Sharonblk on Goodreads, or leave a comment below about what books you’ve been enjoying lately.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Stuff in, stuff out

I’ve been thinking about stuff (and stash) for quite some time. What’s enough, what’s too much, what do I need, what do I want? This house move has encouraged me to come down on the side of LESS. I love our new flat – the windows, the airy space, the lack of clutter. Oh, I have to make the lack of clutter happen myself!
 
So, I spent most of April getting rid of stuff. And this time, it felt easy. I don’t need paper books, I love my kindle Voyage. I don’t seed 8 sets of bed linen, two perfect ones are perfect. I don’t need my two childhood dolls, my niece can have them. I don’t need four sets of interchangeable needles. Right? And bizarrely, that became the hardest part of the project. I had the old Addi Clicks, a set of lace Clicks, a set of wooden knitpros, with common sizes in metal and a set of small sized Karbonz. Which I love best. So, I decided I had to choose, and I set the Addis free.
 
Or rather I gave them to Chris and Alice. I’m not selling any of the things I get rid of, but Chris asked if she could give me something, and I thought – Hmm, Rachey has asked me for Endless Rainbow – a Martina Behm shawl which needs a lovely contrast colour. Chris found this is her stash:
 


Which is both perfect for the project, and my definition of perfection.
 
And then she made me a project bag that is large enough for a small jumper – a size I was sorely lacking. And it’s perfection. Not just pretty on the outside, although it is very pretty on the outside,
 But look: it's lined with elephant fabric!
 
And it’s monogrammed.
 
Utter perfection. And now I’ve let go of things that were not serving me and have things that I will use. This is the life I am trying to craft. Clutter free and full of things I not only like, but use.
 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

New flat!

Our house settled! This is very exciting. We got the keys on Tuesday night, and went over to check the place out. The view is exactly what I remember, and one of the main reasons why I want to live here:
That view. That sky. That wrap around balcony. It faces north, and I’m going to put a comfy chair out and sit and knit all summer.
I’ve always wanted an open plan kitchen and now I’ve got one.
Here’s a picture of the bathroom as it was on Tuesday night.
On Wednesday morning I gave the keys to the builder, and he has ripped everything out of the bathroom. We’re getting a brand new bathroom! I’ve never had a bathroom (or kitchen) that is younger than me, and I’m beyond excited.
I’ll be back with an update with what I’m knitting in a couple of days, but right now I’m going to look at my view and dream a little.




Monday, May 22, 2017

Good beer week wrap up

This years Good Beer Week was a bit hectic for me, coming back almost half way through it. We always like to do at least one beer / food matched dinner, this year we drank beer from Oregon, matched with yummy American food on Monday, and then various pubs and various beers for the rest of the week. 


Leon, Bee, Cazza and Amy
On Saturday afternoon we went to GABS, which is always a good time, but this year was even more fun than usual. 


Sheep logo!
As I finished by Baffies on Friday, I cast on for a pair of sneaker liners. I'm not really sure how they went, and I'm a little afraid to look now!

Yep, those are knitted sausages
I was going to go to the Annual Handknitters Guild market in Coburg on Sunday, but after the busy, busy week, and the beery, beery Saturday I didn't have it in me to trek across town. It would have been about two hours round trip, and then only thing I want to buy is some yarn for a cowl for Elise. Instead I sat on my couch and finally had some much needed home time, which of course, included knitting on the border of my Village Sweater wrap.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Good beer week baffies

While we were away Anna mentioned she would like some house socks. I made her some twinkletoes years ago, and she is definitely knitworthy.
I came back on the Monday of Good Beer Week. I decided that the lace edging of my Village Sweater Wrap  really would not be suitable for a week of drinking, beer and dubious lighting, so this was the perfect time to knit something simple:
 
I made Anna a pair of Kate Davies’ Baffies, from last year’s Seven Skeins Club. That club really is the gift that keeps on giving.
 
These were quick and simple, but not without drama. The first problem is they were coming out too large. A normal knitter would have gone down a needle size, but I’m drinking knitter, and I only had 3.5mm needles with me, so I ripped the foot and increased by 4 less stitches. Then, after I finished the first one, the iCord was way too tight. I couldn’t get it over my heel at all. So I ripped it, and re-iCorded, picking up more stitches.
And here they are:
 
Took a day longer than I expected, due to the drama, but still a quick, effective and easy gift. And such a dream to knit in all circumstances.
  You'll have to excuse the photos, we took them at the pub after I finished these, as the end of the night, if you you what I mean.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Thailand wrap up post

So our trip to Thailand was fun. I've never had a resort holiday before, but we left the resort every day to do something. We did the normal kind of touristy things one does on Phuket. A boat trip to the islands;

sitting by the pool;

hanging out on the beach;

Babysitting my friend's 4 month old while she did a cooking class;

And all the while knitting, knitting, knitting.

The Village Sweater wrap was perfect knitting - light enough to work on even in the beautiful humid heat, and I got the entire garter stitch section finished, which was good, because that could have become boring in other circumstances.

Thailand doesn't have a knitting tradition, and, although I did see some crocheted toys at the market, there was no yarn shops, so I managed not to increase the stash on this holiday There was a sheep themed hotel, but it was called "Sleep with me" so who knows what's going on there.









My other main observation is that most of the cats had weird stumpy tails:

Basically I had fun, and it was great to hang out with my girlfriends, get warm and relax before I become a home-owner next week. 






Sunday, May 14, 2017

Finished while in Thailand

(I wrote this post while I was in Thailand, but I couldn't get the photos to upload. I'm back home now, I'll post a full wrap up of my holiday in the next day or so)

I brought the socks I was knitting for Elise with me to Thailand. Cookie A's Vilai socks are by far the most complex socks I've knit for a while, and I didn't want to loose momentum on them. Despite how much I bitched and moaned while knitting them, in the end they are worth it:

Jayne who is on holidays with me has the same shoe size as Elise. She was kind enough to model these for me. Then she asked me for a pair of her own,and how could I say no, really. 


Monday, May 8, 2017

Thailand holiday post 1

I'm not sure that i am actually going to blog much, i forgot how much i hate typing on a tablet, but i am sitting on my balcony, knitting on Elise's sock, and soaking in the sun and this view
And appreaciating the good things in life.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

All my bags are packed, my knitting's cast on

And now I'm in that bit where I hang about, waiting to leave and worrying. In this case about packing. I piled up everything I wanted to take with me, and discovered that it all fit in my old Country Road kit bag. Which is funny, because I didn't pack light. As well as enough clothes for nine days, and two pairs of bathers, I have a set of power rings, a skipping rope, 200 grams of laceweight yarn and the three quarter finished socks for Elise.

I've had this bag since I was 19, and it's been on countless road trips with the girls (women now, I guess) that I am going to Thailand with.

The Village Sweater wrap starts with a 299 stitch provisional cast on, so I've done that, and I'll start the actual knitting in the taxi to the airport. For my friends, carrying suitcases is t heir sign they are grown ups. For me, it's saying "stuff this bus timetable, I'm catching a cab"!

I'll try to do some blogging while I'm away, even if it's mainly photos of swimming pools and cocktails. Or an update on what I could have packed, but didn't. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Preparing to holiday

I’m going to Thailand on Friday with my old school friends. A couple of years ago we started talking about what we were going to do for our 40ths, and decided that, instead of a bunch of parties and presents and all that, we’d go on holidays together. I didn’t think it would actually happen, but happening it is. Five of us are going to stay in a resort in Phuket, leaving this Friday.
 
Now, one of the most important questions I have to ask before any holiday is: what should I knit? I’ve decided on Romi Hill’s Village Sweater Wrap. It’s an odd garment – part giant shawl, part cardigan, but I’ve noticed that my taste is moving towards longer, looser, less structured garments. This should be great holiday knitting – the middle is just endless garter stitch, and there is no possibility that over ten days I will finish it. This also has the bonus that I have somewhat suitable yarn in stash:
 
I swatched this weekend. Sometimes I can be cavalier about swatching, casting on a sleeve or just making an educated guess, but I want to make sure this fabric is nice, and with over 300 stitches, this was not a good time to just cast on and hope it looks good:
 
The main drama with the swatching was my stitch gauge was too big, so I went down a needle size. Then I counted my row gauge, and it was really, really too big. So I went down another needle size. My stitch gauge was close, but even with blocking it small, instead of stretched, my row gauge was coming in at 24 rows for 10 cm, not the 40 called for. Then I went to bed, stressing about what I was going to knit on this trip. When I got up this morning, I went to see if the row gauge had magically changed overnight. And I looked at it and realised I wasn’t counting rows, I was counting ridges. Now I’m going to reblock it for length, and it should be good to go!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Socks for Elise

Elise asked me for a pair of socks. I've only made her one pair, and that was a really long time ago, so i decided to make her some nice, complicated socks. I'm using my last skein of Little Dipper yarns, and chose Cookie A's Vilai pattern.

I love the way it looks, but I am questioning whether knitting such complicated socks makes any sense. It's so slow, and there are so many lovely socks out there with an easy to remember repeat.

And yet these really are special, and I think I'll give them to Elise for her 40th birthday, so I guess I'm leaning gently towards the concept that they are worth the effort.

I also have it in my head that I would really like to knit all the patterns from Sock Innovation. Cookie A has disappeared, so there won't be any new patterns from her, and it seems fitting to knit all her back catalogue, before I get sad about there being no new patterns.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Leon's winter set 2017 - finished just in time

I finished Leon’s winter set and Skip took photos on Saturday, in a brewery, because that’s the way we roll. The set was started a little late, because I wanted to wait until the end of the Inspired by Islay club, and I was quite concerned that winter would come before Leon had a winter set for 2017. 

But the weather held through April, unseasonably warm and pleasant. It was so lovely having the Melbourne comedy festival with nice weather – like normally happens in Adelaide. The comedy festival finished last weekend, and  until this morning it was still warm. And then today winter came! I’m not the biggest fan of winter, but at least I know Leon will be wrapped up in an enormous amount of yarn, warm and cosy and so pretty.
 
The details of the hat: I took the chart from Singing Sands scarf, and put it into the pattern for Shore Street hat. I had to adjust the numbers by two for the increases, but after that it worked like a charm. It’s important to me that a set is matchy, matchy, matchy.