Thursday, 22 November 2007

knit and rip, knit and rip

I have actually been knitting and had one sock of two different pairs done. However, I've put one sock aside so I can consider if I really do like it more than I think I do. If so, then I'll start the second sock.

The second sock I made quickly and was halfway down the foot. Then this morning, I was up early after a fairly sleepless night, took one look at it in the first light of dawn and decided I would never really be happy with it. So tug, tug and a couple of minutes later all that remained of it was a pile of wool on the deck table.

It was some Heirloom Jigsaw in a bright pink set of tones. I'm not a pink person really, despite my little granddaughters' tastes, although I do like purples. This was not baby pink which I find disgusting, nor was it barbie doll pink, also disgusting to me. It really looked like raspberry ripple icecream and I had been disciplining myself not to start anything till other things were done. I decided to do a very simple four row pattern on the leg to pass the time more quickly and give it a bit of interest. I knew the pattern would not show too well in the variegated yarn but I pressed on. As I knitted, I decided I was not as keen on the colours knitted as in the ball, but I insisted to myself I had to finish it.

I turned the heel and stopped the pattern. Halfway down the foot I thought WOW! I really like this now. The difference in the colours and stripes from patterned leg to smooth stocking stitch was amazing. I was still determind to press on and the silly thought even passed through my mind that just perhaps I could do a plain one and call it two socks together. Shows you the state my mind was in...

All that was last night. The morning dawned and I had returned to my senses. I was never going to be happy with it, so out it all came. I'll re-knit it in plain stocking stitch, possibly with a picot edge which would go with the raspberry.

Doing it again will give me the meditative aspect of knitting again. I find there's something very soothing about the repetitive action, something very soothing about the counting of stitches. If I'm knitting for others there will be prayers for that person woven in with the stitches. This week has been very hard with things thrown at me from several directions and knitting has helped me cope. Not only with its soothing action, but also even being in control of something and deciding its fate when life was in turmoil.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

comfort eating - not worth it

I've been thinking about the pattern a day calendar and had decided not to buy it this year. I think it was 2005 that I made quite a few of the patterns . I bought both 2006 and 2007 but the number I knitted has decreased. Many of them are free on the net and even if not quite the same, there is such a huge range that really, why spend the money. Once again they were not available on the calendar stand at my local shops. When I was last in Borders in the city I looked, as that was where I bought the last one. No luck. That sort of cemented my decision.

However, today I had plans to go to the city and do the remainder of my Christmas shopping. I need to buy something for my mum, brother and sister and top up things for the littlies. We all buy for the children and one adult whose name is drawn from a hat, this year done by Miss Seven who's old enough to read exceptionally well and who read out the names for us. On occasions, things have been a bit jigged to suit preferences, but not this year. LOL.

Now in addition to my messy personal life which is an ongoing saga, Mum developed leukemia a few weeks ago. Perhaps developed is the wrong word. She has had it a while and tests for a urinary tract infection revealed it. She's not coping with the chemo very well at all, and is sick a lot. I don't think the actual diagnosis bothers her, but certainly the treatment does. Now my sister lives with her and gets a carer's pension. She needs a break and we had promised her all of December and some of January . However, unilaterally, she has made decisions without involving my brother or me, and this has made things very difficult both practically for us and in the way she has acted. I wasn't feeling wonderful this morning at all.

So what does this have to do with knitting? I went to the city to Kinokuniya. I wanted a small novelty for a friend's birthday, some nice wrapping paper, a good card for him, an American magazine, possibly a book for myself if one jumped off the shelf into my basket, some children's books. I was going to Borders too with some % off coupons but didn't have the time because of another altered arrangement, thanks to my sister again. A trip to the ABC shop was canned because of lack of time. I could spend a long time there.

So what did I buy? Next to nothing at Kinokuniya. Card selection was poor and I didn't bother looking for paper. Didn't like the children's books I saw and lost heart trying to find something. No novelty items I wantd at price I had availabe to use. Only English magazines and I was after an American one.

I did choose a fancy card for a secret Santa swap I'm involved in. My "santee" as they are known, lives in England. Then I saw the calendars while I was looking for an easy to pack calendar for her. Somehow I bought the knitting calendar.

Like most comfort eating, I later wished I hadn't done that. The editor is new this year and is also a newish knitter, In previous editions, some lengthy patterns have spread over a couple of days with a very small number taking three days.

This year, there are some rather pleasant sock designs but nothing out of the ordinary. Some I would never consider knitting, but that's just my opinion.

However, there are nearly ninety days which are taken up as continuing a pattern. Not much under 25% of the whole calendar is like this. It's not as if many of the patterns really need the spread. One hat pattern writes out every row of the decreases in full to make the second page. Anothr hat tells us to draw thread through remaining stitches, pull together and fasten off , then darn in any ends. Others are similar. I felt ripped off and I won't be buying it next year. It comes all sealed, so there is no way of checking. At least if there is just a wall calendar, I can see the pictures on the back. While I don't actually expect a set of 300+ on the packet, I really was unhappy with this.

On a brighter note, I did see a hanging calendar with pictures and patterns for sock monkeys. Twelve patterns. I really don't see the appeal of these, although I know many who love them. So if you are looking for a calendar and like sock monkeys and have some small people in your life who would love them, perhaps this will do you. Don't buy the other one. $25 could get some more sock wool!

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Bendigo sale

Bendigo Mills is having a sale. Free postage in Australia over $30 of wool.

Each of these balls is 200 gm. The three in the front left are part of the Classic range which comes in 5 and 8 ply. This is dark plum, celery and blue in 5 ply. Possibly socks for grandkids, although I like the plum myself and also other goodies. I have some other Classic in my stash and think I will make some 8 ply hats and scarves to be given to a charity which works with those on the streets here. I know someone who works with this group.

The two balls of lilac to the right of them are for a shawl. A mix of merino, bluefaced leicester and some mohair, about 10 %. I haven't used this before.

The 5 balls at the back are all 8 ply alpaca. Black, grey, pistachio and a beautiful soft blue. They are gorgeously soft and squishy and I could sit and pet and squeeze them for a long time. They feel beautiful. i've just made myself an alpaca hat and short scarf and have no real plans yet for this. However, at the price, I could not resist.

All up, about $120. Click on image to enlarge.

men's socks

The birthday socks are finished and blocked a full week before the birthday. I've even put them with the other present I bought some weeks ago which I chose well before I thought of making socks. I have a bad record of putting presents bought early in a safe place which is then promptly forgotten, but I think these will be fine.
Material details: an old Patons pattern with calf shaping. I think a similar pattern is in their Winter Warmers book. Suggested wool was Totem, 8 ply. These are made from Bendigo 8 ply classic which is their machine wash 8 ply. It knits very evenly and is currently on special till sometime in December. I rather like the big 200 gm balls with no joins needed. Needles were to be 3.25 mm but I knit loosely so went down to 3 mm. This has made a good firm fabric, great for socks and my tension was absolutely accurate to that recommended.

They are very long on my leg, coming up onto my kneecap. I made them 2" shorter than pattern suggested. Even so, the leg seemed interminable. It went on forever. The amount leftover from the 200 gm ball can be seen with the yellow needles stuck in the ball. These needles were bought last month from St Vinnies in Burwood. They are superquiet. Bendy whihch tok a bit of gettng used to, but really pleasant to knit with.

I was in Burwood yesterday and went into St Vincent de Paul. Nothing knitting related there. As I was about to come home, I walked past the local Anglicare op shop. I haven't had much success there with knitting things but went in. The picture shows my haul. I wonder if it all came from the same knitter. The tortoiseshell needles are fine and some of the dpns may be 1.5 or 1.75 mm. The gauge I used yesterday did not go down far enough to tell. I'll need to get my bigger gauge out. I'll wash them all. The dpns are quite dirty and four of them, on the far left, very fine, have been held together by an elastic band. Urrk!

All up, just over 40 needles for the utterly exorbitant price of $2!

Sunday, 11 November 2007

voilà! One sock done.

First man's sock done. This is a present for a close friend of mine whose birthday is in a couple of weeks. I bought him a present a few weeks ago and then this week decided to make him some socks. His Mum was a knitter and he appreciates hand crafted things.

I haven't done a man's sock before and am so pleased I chose 8 ply for my first one, not 3 ply. This is 8 ply machine washable wool from Bendigo and it knitted up quite quickly. The pattern is an old Paton's pattern with shaping at the back of the calf. The leg is over 12 inches long, and I shortened it by about 2". I seemed to have been knitting forever.

Not a wonderful colour here. Late afternoon light. It's really a café au lait colour, like the crema on a good coffee. The needles are some of the vintage sets I bought at St Vinnies a while back. $2 a set. The pattern said to use 3.25 but I knit loosely, so went down to 3 mm. It's certainly a firm fabric. He wears Holeproof Explorer socks often, so I figured these would still fit his shoes as the Explorers are quite thick.

I'll do the second sock next, so they are done in time for his birthday. It will feel srange going back to toddler socks in 3 ply after doing these.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

lovely new yarn

I ordered a book from Pierre the Yarn Snob and received not only the book but a lovely surprise as shown in the picture. Its colours are so lovely and fresh and springlike. I've wound it and weighed it and re-wound half into a second ball. I'm thinking simple toe-up to see how far I can get. I do have some patonyle in white which I could use for heels and toes.

The colour is not quite right in the photo. There is more of an aqua tone to the wool, a bit like the photos one sees in touristy magazines of people snorkelling on some island at an expensive resort. I've tried fiddling with the photos and can't get it right so have given up on it. We need the rain, so I won't complain. The weather is funny today. There are very heavy dark clouds, sudden showers, brilliant sun, sun showers. The photos were taken in that fresh greeny yellowy sunshine which sometimes comes immediately after some rain. In another minute it was pouring again.

second sock of many colours

I had loads of time waiting yesterday for my hearing aid to be fixed, so managed this second sock. It has only 42 stitches and it's perfectly plain knitting so it went quickly. At least I can now hear again as I have a loan hearing aid while mine is fixed. This is the first problem in over five years, so I've been lucky with these. Mum often has problems with hers.

I'm a bit bored with toddler socks and these were an unintended knit after fiasco with 8 ply and needles mentioned a couple of posts below. I may do another pretty pair now.

Monday, 5 November 2007

stashbuster socks

Here's the little sock made after much exasperation as detailed in the post below. The tiny blue stripe and the green foot are Wildfoote which I won't buy again, and the others are from Elann. I like the knitted fabric from the Wildfoote but find it very splitty. It felt good using up odds and ends which were hanging around.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

a ripping good time was had

My little Brittany birch dpns have been running hot the last couple of weeks, so I thought I would give them and my hands a break and knit something thicker. I looked around and found some machine wash 8 ply Cleckheaton. Decided to use the vintage plastic(?) needles I found at St Vinnies.

I cast on 48 stitches, thinking that the thick wool and big needles would make for a quick knit. However, the needles kept splitting the wool and driving me crazy. I persevered and got past the ribbing. I worked three repeats of a small chevron pattern and had a good look. The wool is fairly loosely spun and plied and the pattern didn't stand out.

So I ripped it back to the ribbing.

Gave up on the plastic dpns. Not only were they splitting the wool, but they need to be cut down and re-sharpened. the points were catching in my sleeves after using the tiny birch needles.

So I ripped it back to the ribbing again, not as far back as the first time.

Looked for some metal needles but could not find a full set in either 3.0 mm or 3.25 mm in my accumulation on the coffee table. I suppose I might have had more upstairs but I was lazy.

Got out the Knitpicks options and set up for magic loop which I often use on hats. Found I did not like the length of the cable I had chosen so swapped the cable over and set off again. Still did not like socks and magic loop.

So I ripped it completely out, right back to the very beginning.

Now I've just finished another sock for youngest grandchild in an attempt to use up a lot of bits and pieces. It looks good but it was a real pain to finish off all the ends from the stripes. It's dark now, so a photo tomorrow.

Rain, rain and thunderstorms. That was what was behind this Saturday sky. It was lovely to hear and more rain is forecast for all the week. I hope the forecasters are more accurate than they have been lately.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Ashes socks done

This is the second of the Ashes socks. I did take a photo of them both on my feet. It was very blurry, I thought I must have moved my camera. However, the battery completely died minutes later, so perhaps that was what was wrong. The leg is longer than it appears here. It has been foreshortened by the camera angle.

The socks are very stretchy and feel comfortable on my feet. There is a small amount of wool left from this ball. I had already done another sock in this wool a couple of years ago, a free on web vintage pattern by Nancy Bush. it looked good but I succumbed to Second Sock Syndrome with it, a disease I don't often catch. I'll frog that sock, basically 50 gm worth of wool and do something small or striped with it.