Thursday, 28 August 2008

heart socks and hand and toe warmers!

Some finished socks. These are from the wool I received form Georgie for being close to date and time of Grace's birth. The pattern comes from Donna at RandomKnits where she knitted a trial pair of the new Patonyle. I love the colours of this wool. Shades and shades of aqua. It reminds me of the colour of the water under the Swansea bridge near Newcastle. When the old Pacific Highway passed through Swansea, I've been stopped in traffic many times and always loved the aqua swirls of water I could see from the car.

Normally I would reserve a pattern like this for solid colour wool, but the hearts appealed to me. They were an easy knit, although I made a few changes. Actually, I'm hard put to mention someone who doesn't make changes. I'm the same with recipes. I'll read through and use the basic idea but substitute according to store cupboard and individual likes. I used five dpns in total as i did a row of hearts down each side. I cast on 15 stitches (instead of 16) to each of four, used some stitch markers from Georgie to mark off the 11 stitches of the pattern. I also added another row between each pattern repeat. Four hearts down leg and three on the foot. The wool was soft and feels cosy and warm and a bit thicker than many sock yarns like Opal. If you look closely at the foot, you can see the stitchmarkers, also from Georgie.

Perhaps a suggestion? I'd try these again in solid colour sock wool and I think that they would look pretty with a ruffle around the cuff. Another suggestion I like better than the ruffle would be a picot edge to the cuff. I'm thinking of using just Donna's chart and placing some hearts on granddaughter socks. They are all girly little girls.

These grey socks are for my eldest grandchild. He begged me for some bedsocks which he could wear after his shower at night. He's nine and it's been a while since I made socks for him so it was a bit of guesswork. The last pair I made, he wrecked. He ran around the backyard in socks with his dog snapping at his heels in play. Socks did not really like this treatment! He had no colour preferences, just wanted something warm. These are like cast iron. The wool was something called Balmoral Tweed (????) from L*ncraft. I would not buy it again. It's thick and I actually found it hard to knit. It has some nylon in it and is supposedly machine washable. However, I was slack and didn't check the metrage on the ball. From memory, it was about 85 metes. Not much. You can see how little I had left over from socks for a nine year old.

The handwarmers are for his sisters. Again, a bit of guess work involved. Miss Three really does not need such things but I didn't want her feeling left out. Two colours so she has no real excuse to snaffle her big sister's gloves. Miss Six is tall and skinny like her brother and both feel the cold easily. She wants these for morning wear on the way to school. They are from some Caressa I found in my stash. It's so long since I used it, I can't even remember the original use.

I'm beginning to feel a bit better from the pneumonia. It really knocked me around but I had a very bad bout of the flu first which did not help at all. I'm still taking things easy and getting lots and lots of rest. Yoghurt every morning to help me cope with the ongoing antibiotics and lots of fruit and vegetables too. I've even taken to putting honey in a cup of hot black chai tea. I don't put milk in teas and can't quite come at milky chai. I never use sugar in anything, but the honey seems to be helping and I'm used to it now. Over the last three weeks I have been to work just two discrete days, not even consecutive. I decided I just had to get over this properly. Hopefully next week I may be back, but I'm not pushing things. I'll see how I feel Monday morning.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

almost anything but knitting

Hopefully I'll get some photos up soon. Finished objects? Two pairs of wristwarmers for little granddaughters. One totally in some leftover Caressa and the other pair for Miss Three in Caressa and some toning pink scraps I had. I wanted them to be quite different so there could be no quarreling about ownership. I need to darn in ends on these. I'm about to finish some bed socks for the girls' big brother. An entirely unexciting knit in some grey tweedy stuff, pure wool from L*ncraft. I bought the wool for socks, but there wasn't much in each ball. However, Andrew asked for bedsocks, so used it up here.

It was my birthday yesterday and it really was a mixed bag. I accidentally left my phone at home so found sons had all rung through the day but I had missed speaking to them. I went to work but felt quite ill. I've already missed all four days last week when I had the 'flu and I had Tuesday off this week as I felt really ill again. No work means no pay for me as I work for myself. I've been complaining about a mushy brain and poor concentration. I felt bad yesterday so finally went to the doctor. All explained. He diagnosed pneumonia! I apparently still have quite a high temperature and have been trying to live with that for days. I'm now on some powerful tablets which he insisted I had to absolutely take every single tablet. I know people who leave off antibiotics when they begin to feel better. I'm not one of them but he was taking no chances. i hadn't seen this doctor before so he didn't know me. However, I knew I really was sick and just had to see one, any one at all. Pneumonia on my birthday!

Came home to find son and daughter were delayed and I had to get dinner. Not impressed. I waited until they returned because I wanted to fit in a second dose.

Then the best part of the day. I pass a well established jeweller's shop on my way to bus in Druitt Street each morning from the train. I've bought a few watches there for people and actually have some jewellery given me years ago. Some months ago, I saw in the window an expensive pendant which I loved. I had the money at the time but being conservative, I finally decided I wouldn't buy it for myself. I had told DIL about it and had put it totally out of my mind. I thought about it just a few days ago and looked in the window. All the other designs were there, but this one was gone. I was disappointed but not upset as I had reconciled myself to not buying it. When DIL and son finally arrived home, she handed me a small packet. Yep, you guessed it. She had gone and bought it months ago. I was really touched. It was quite expensive and she had bought it at a time when they were under quite considerable financial stress because of some bad decisions made by others, not themselves, and because their house was on the market a long time.

So the day ended better than it started.

More update from Friday morning: DIL took me to college because of a delivery which had to be paid for and which I could not cancel. I did no work, just hung around for an hour. However, just as we were getting in the car to go there, her phone rang. #2 son had ridden his bike to work, pushbike that is. He'd been sideswiped by a truck and was in Liverpool Hospital. For those not in the know, Liverpool has a poor reputation in Sydney. Very poor. What's more, not even his wife could find out how he was. Very fortunately, there has been no serious damage done. He has no recollection of what happened but apparently was knocked sideways off the bike. He'll be very bruised, sore and sorry for himself for a while, but is alive and no bones are broken. It never rains but it pours, so it seems.

When we returned home, I felt pretty horrible and I'm sure son's accident gave me quite a scare. I know pneumonia is a nasty illness and realise that I have been much sicker than I imagined for several days. No wonder I felt so bad. I made a hot drink and have had several hours sleep, somewhat more than a nana nap!

I've posted a couple of photos. Miss Six's wristwarmers. I would have liked to knit a thumb, but her thumb is hardly thicker than a pencil. Far too skinny. The locket is gorgeous. It's silver, which DIL and I both prefer, and beautiful. What was even better was that it was such a surprise. When I talked myself out of buying for myself, I really had totally put it out of mind and I had not looked in the shop window at all, so I wouldn't be tempted.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

rangoli hat

The weather has been beautiful lately here. Clear Sydney August skies and sunshine. Here's Sweetpea, the resident Abyssinian who likes to think of herself as having the favoured status which ancient cultures gave to cats. She's stretched on my desk. Her rival, my bear Wesley, is between the windows, stuck in the corner in the dark shadow. Sweetpea loves sunshine and she's almost as good as a clock. She follows the sun around in the house. Late afternoon will find her on my bed. Early afternoon and mid-morning she likes my corner desk with northern sunshine streaming in. Breakfast sees her on a cupboard in the dining room, catching the eastern sun as it rises and shines through the trees bordering the Pacific highway. She made herself comfortable on my desk, pushing papers around so she would not have to lie on the bare wood. Here she is on the paperwork from my lovely new phone, a Nokia 6300, which does all sorts of things, more than I need or understand.

I think it's not too cold outside, but I can see from the movement of the trees that it's quite windy. I haven't poked my nose outside to check. I had the flu all last week and am only just beginning to feel a bit better. I missed a week's work and am not really looking forward to going tomorrow. I still have a really bad cough which reduces me to jelly with tears streaming down my face. My ribs are sore from coughing and I've been forced to take something to subdue it, for perhaps the second time in ten or so years.

The next two pictures are of the rangoli hat which has taken me a week to knit. A rangoli is an Indian design, not necessarily identical to this one, and is often drawn on footpaths outside homes to welcome visitors. It can be coloured in with coloured rice flour or powder. The Wiki link has some more designs and history.

I didn't know all this, in fact had not heard the word before when I found Paisleywombles's hat. From there I went to the PDF pattern.

The designer is right. It's not a complicated pattern at all. It just involves carefully counting the 8-repeat pattern, until the flow of the pattern is established. when one's head is full of mush and throbs with a headache and aches even more at every cough, then it becomes more complicated and I ripped out several centimetres twice. Even now, I know I have made some mistakes. I have more wool which would have been better suited to the design, but I was too sick to go through boxes to find it. This is 8 ply pure alpaca from Bendigo Mills, knitted on 4 mm Knitpicks options needles. A more tightly twisted and spun wool would have made the pattern stand out more disinctively. It's really a bit blurred and that's not just the photograph. Colour is called something like "dusty rose." The colour is definitely deeper than the second photo shows, and also a bit more intense than the first, although nowhere near the colour of the one Paisleywomble did. With a mushy head, the counting was quite meditative and I marked off each row as I did it, although the pattern progresses in a logical way. I followed the written pattern, I'm more verbal than visual, although I have trained myself to read and use charts.

I love the alpaca from Bendigo. The hat is so soft and light that I would hardly know it's on my head except for the warmth it brings. I'm having a weekend on the Southern Highlands in a couple of weeks. Last year at the same time, it was very cold when we played at being tourists on the Sunday. I'll be taking this hat then.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

learning from history? NOT!

Someone once noted that the one thing we learn from history is that we don't learn from history!

How true, unfortunately. DIL had the flu last week and now I'm sick. It started to come on last Saturday and I had yesterday and today off work and may very well take the next two days as well. That wraps up this week for me. Shivers, aches, headaches, sneezes, high temperature - the lot. We've both had it and I still have all the above symptoms, despite bedrest, staying warm, drinking lots etc.

Yesterday I decided to carry on with a hat I had started last week. That was a bad mistake. It wasn't a hard thing to do. it just needed attention to detail and some counting stitch repeats. I should have known that a head full of cottonwool does not count well. I had done about eight cm when I had a good look at my work. Now I tell people to check every couple of rows so mistakes are easily caught and corrected. Did I do that? No.

I discovered I had gone blithely on and had moved the pattern repeat over by one stitch, not just once, but twice. AAARGH! Nothing for it but to rip it all out. Two morals to this little tale. Check work often. Don't do things which need concentration when one's head is full of junk.

On a brighter note- I made up a pattern for a wristwarmer for Miss now-Six. She has a scarf made by her mum in crochet, but DIL could not get a wristwarmer to fit. Part of her problem was that she was using an el-cheapy chenille yarn with absolutely no give in it at all. Her other problem was that it was far too short. It's cold in the mornings where they live. Miss Six is very slight, not an ounce of fat on her and her hands were freezing. Like her brother, she is tall but skinny. I used some leftover dark pinky/red Caressa. it looks fine. Now for the second one.

However, a snooze calls me loudly.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

all wrapped up in sheepy paper

I arrived home this afternoon to find that my daughter-in-law had finally been able to get to their Post office box. They've both had the flu. Sitting on the stairs waas a parcel for me.

It was from Georgie and Grace as a prize for being the closest guess of the time Grace would be born.. It was all wrapped in some grassy green paper with lambs on it. Beautiful roses on a card announced it was from Georgie and Grace.

Georgie certainly picked as if she had known me for years. The lovely sock yarn from the Happy spider is in one of my favourite colours. It feels beautiful. I have a couple of patterns in mind for socks, but think I'll let it sit on my desk where I can stroke it for a few days and see what it may tell me.

Not shown is a small organza bag of lovely little stitch markers in blue and pink. As I've broken and misplaced a few lately, these are most welcome. I think I accidentally pushed the bag out of the picture when I leant over my desk to take a picture. Do you see the cute felt needle case? Wool needles inside. The booklet has knitter's graph paper pages. I printed out some a few years ago, but here's my own supply. And the pen? It has a sheep on the clip and another on the pen. Nici at the Jolly Mäh, (site is mostly in German). This morning I discovered the pen I have been using at my desk for many months now is almost finished. Just in time arrives another. This is doubly welcome. I have arthritis in my fingers as well as many other joints. Fingers have been sore and swollen for several days, so they will apppreciate the comfortable soft grip on the pen.

Thanks again Georgie. Best wishes to you and yours and blessings on little Grace.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

fishbone socks finished

A present finished early! Five weeks early, in fact. Now I just need to block them and put them somewhere safe for five weeks. Not too safe, or else I might lose them. LOL.

These are done in Opal, two different lots, bought back in 2003 0r 2004. My pattern, done using five needle so each pattern repeaat fitted neatly on its own needle. The fishbone pattern comes from Erica Knight's, Lace and Eyelet Stitches. I would much rather use a total of four dpns, but five suited this pattern and helped my head to keep the pattern sorted.

I've put my hand inside the needle and stretched it out a bit so the detail of the fishbone can be seen. Unfortunately, fingers have given it a decidedly peculiar shape. I need to block these, but fancy, five weeks early for a present.

Friday, 1 August 2008

so where do I live?

I doubt if there will be anything knitting related in this post, but it's here in response to Tinking Bell's meme on homes. I live with my eldest son and his wife on Sydney's green and leafy upper North Shore. We're right on the Pacific Highway on one side, with a major side street down another side. The block is already large and takes hours to mow, but used to be bigger. One side of it was subdivided some years ago and a house built there. The very bottom corner and the bottom side was already split off. the house was built in the late 1920s and is in the Art Deco style with lots of curves, glass bricks, balconies etc. It's heritage listed by the government. There are eight balconies in various places around the house, some of them covered.

These two pictures show the balconies on the western side of the house. The bottom on has sandstone columns, the other two have brick walls. We eat on the middle balcony all summer and I have a little section on the top balcony with a couple of old, disreputable lounge chairs and a small table where I knit when the weather is mild. The rain hardly comes in at all, so it's a refuge. Main bedroom and mine both open onto the top balcony, and since we put back the original wooden screen doors, I leave my door wide open on summer nights.

Late on summer afternoons, it's too hot out there as the sun shines in from the west. The view is amazing, particularly from the top floor where we can see probably eighty kilometres (fifty miles). We can see down the coast past Bundeena and Cronulla, west past Mulgoa and well into the mountains. Unfortunately, the New Years fireworks on the harbour are not visible because of the angle of the harbour to here. As you can see the place is high. Daughter-in-law and I childishly enjoy pitching dirty washing down the chute from top and middle floors. It makes a satisfying thud as it lands in the laundry behind the balcony with stone columns. Behind that laundry is a very large cellar, and a garage right at the front.

The house was built in a time of servants. There's a small bedroom upstairs which was the maid's. Between the kitchen and dining rooms are the pantry with a butler's pantry next to it. This has cupboards for glasses and a a large inbuilt dresser with cutlery drawers and shelving for linen like tablecloths.

Not only were there servants then, but deliveries by tradespeople. These back steps show the hatch right at left top of stairs where bread and milk in a pail would have been delivered. The hatch has been preserved for history's sake, but has been walled up from the kitchen side. Groceries, meat and green groceries would all have been carted up these stairs. The steps are a good fifty metres from the side street and drive. I picture the horse and cart with the horse waiting, hopefully, for the tradesperson to return.

Living here keeps me fit, LOL. You can see how far up we carry laundry or how far down we go to put stuff in the garbage. There are just as many steps onside to get to top floor. The steps at the front of the house have been split. There are six up to the front porch and door, and another dozen around the corner. The removalists just loved this place. Not.

I mentioned balconies. There are eight in total. the big back balconies are very large. Most of these others are very small. There are a couple of juliet style balconies from lounge room and two of the top floor bedrooms. These are uncovered. Shutters shield the rooms behind these. Downstairs, a partially covered one opens from dining room, although it's basically hidden behind greenery here. You can see the elaborate front porch, again very Art Deco in style. I sit out here on the steps and knit on hot summer afternoons as there is almost always a breeze and it's in the shade. Inside, the lounge dining and office rooms, have fireplaces with elaborate designs, mostly curved and arched niches in the walls for ornaments or vases. There's another niche on the curved landing of the stairs to top floor. Upstairs, above its roof is yet another balcony, this time opening from main bedroom again. It looks out onto highway.

I think that the original builders would be amazed by the traffic on the highway now. It never stops and many large trucks and buses use it constantly. Traffic goes down side street as it leads to a back way around Lane Cove Park to an industrial area on one side and Macquarie shops and Uni on the other. When outside, it's quite noisy. However, the house inside is very quiet. I think the walls must be quite thick.

It's a comfortable house and suits our style. there is plenty of space for me to give my son and his wife their space. A dozen people could sit around the garden and still not see any of the others there. At night, after dinner, I uually spend time in my room, although when there is daylight saving, we sit outside and talk until the mosquitoes arrive to devour son's wife.

The whole house is very comfortable and I'm glad to have this refuge.