Tuesday, 15 December 2009

off air for a while

My computer will be shut down sometime today as we prepare to move  Settlement should take place tomorrow and son wants to move all the computers and network tomorrow evening.

Net access is supposedly enabled already at new house, but we'll see...  However, after son's office and  the kitchen are set up, the rest should follow so it should be only a few days before I'm back.  My sock shown below is progressing rather well and I'm pleased with it.

I'll wish all a happy Christmas, just in case there are problems.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

shantaram socks, baby knits

Thank you for your kind and encouraging comments.  It seems as if all will now go ahead, although Thursday and Friday were very tense days.  My son spent most of both those days desperately trying to find an immediate source of a large amount of money.  I mean large.  Not easy at almost the end of a quarter an particularly at Christmas.  Lots of money available, even from the bank in mid-January, but we did not have that time.  He still looks very drained and tired, he has a very high powered job which has been full on for a couple of months now.  He often has 7:00 am meetings and may not be home till well into the evening.  Moving will mean he is much closer to work and he'll be on a direct train line.

Then, late Friday afternoon, offers of help came flooding in from some very unexpected sources indeed and it appears all is now well, although in a month that particular bank will lose his business.  I spoke to friends at the weekend whose daughter runs a conveyancing business.  She said this sort of thing happens frequently.  If we were caught by a month's backlog causing problems, then there must be other people in the same boat as we were in.  Just disgusting.  No communication and a downgrading of the amount both approved and promised.

This is my third order from the Book depository.  The middle book was not knitting related.  It has some lovely old patterns in it, a little pixie hat with ties, some beautiful booties and more.  I thought it might be handy for special little gifts.  I already have Exquisite Knits for Cherished Babies, so should be well  set up now.

I haven't done a  sock for a long while.  I started this because I wanted something small I could easily pack in my bag, something small which I could do a pattern repeat in quickly.  The pattern here is an eight row repeat.

I'd tried a few designs lately but really hadn't been motivated.  However, I'm really enjoying this sock,  from Ailsa's wool to her design.  I've now done four of the eight pattern repeats suggested for the leg.  There's another tiny cable, twist really, to the right of the main pattern which is centred over the instep.  I'm stretching the fabric out a bit over my fingers.  The wool knits up easily and makes a very even fabric.  Both the stocking stitch at the bottom of the photo and the purl inset are very even indeed.  The colours go well together.  I have nothing like this so these socks may well be just for me, although I already have a lot.  I think I counted about forty pairs when I packed them, but as that was a few weeks ago, I've forgotten the exact number.

Finally, just because I can and because there will be only a few days left here for shots like this...  I have a few photos like this, some in almost direct sun and some with the sun shining through the clouds.  The first time I took anything like this, a friend told me that this was called the "fingers of God."  I'd never heard the expression then but have heard it several times since.  I think the sun was coming through clouds about 50 km away.  I've used the zoom here.  The formation was much wider than this, but this was the prominent part.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

lacy kerchief and indian summer

I finally blocked the lacy kerchief scarf.  It's huge, at least three metres long.  I left out at least thirty rows of the pattern in the middle.  Can't really remember just how much I omitted.I had to block it on my blanket as I have packed everything else I could use and DIL has packed linen cupboard contents.  I love the colour of this Bendigo 5 ply,it suits the pattern.

Each of those little points in the lace uses 4 rows.  Lots and lots of points and pins too to block them.  I have had no reply to either of my emails to IK regarding the dreadful layout of this pattern which is being sold at a comparable price to many other well laid out patterns.  They've lost me and I've I've also unsubbed from their daily email and tips.  No more magazines either from me.

Christmas came early for me today. DIL arrived home with two of the three books I'd ordered from the Book Depository at 10% off their already low prices.  This is one of them, the third is a book of vintage baby knits which is still at PO.  I'm looking forward to some sewing once we move, if ever we do move.

Actually, we have to move by next Friday, 17/12 at the latest.  All packing except pantry has been done.  However, the bank has royally messed son and DIL around and moving to where we hope to go may never happen.  Not "which" bank, not the one which sells bananas instead of mortgages, but the proud icon of the old British saint.  They did not let son know they were over a month behind in drawing up papers for mortgages.  Nor did they tell him they were undervaluing all properties, so he would not get the amount both promised and approved but 20% less.  That leaves shortfall available  of a six figure number.  Not a lot as money goes these days, but son has been frantically trying to find someone who could lend him this amount till mid-January.  Many would help but can't access their money till the new year.  Time is running out. Stress  has caused psoriasis to flare on my scalp and my feet have been attacked by arthritis and are badly swollen particularly under instep.  Both are autoimmune disorders and both react badly to stress in me.

I also took photos of the first instalment of the yarn from Ailsa's yarn club.  I find photos, cooking and sewing are related in a strange way.  If I have a headache, am annoyed or generally out of sorts, any one of those things does not go well.  Bells has a great photo of her box.  Lovely yarn, an interesting sock pattern for it, some Ghiradelli chocolate, some tea, a lip balm and a packet of sock needles, just the length I enjoy using, were all beautifully boxed.  I'm looking forward to the next package.

It's been while since I posted.  The black dog has been snapping around my heels.  This financial mess hasn't helped.  I've bought and wrapped all presents but  was remembering the thorough job mum did of buying presents.  She had the knack of finding something unusual.  First Christmas without her. The anniversary of the end of forty years was two days ago and #2 son was given notice last week.  All good cause for black dogs but I'm determined not to give him a home.  A brisk daily walk helps but my feet are too sore to do more than hobble.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

lacy kerchief continued

An early morning picture of the lacy kerchief scarf half done.  The colour is  a bit dark here but everyone who's seen it has admired the colour.

Actually, it's half done according to me, but the pattern suggests it needs another seven repeats to half way.  As can be seen, it's quite long now and will be longer blocked.  The pattern suggests worsted weight done on 4 mm needles.  Now I've seen a variety of weights of wool in USA patterns, all labelled worsted, but everyone of them has been quite a deal heavier than this 5 ply Bendigo wool which was in my stash.  I would not normally use their Classic wool on this sort of pattern preferring something not a crepe construction, but it was there and I wanted to start.  It has some drape to the feel but I think worsted done on 4 mm needles would be very heavy and stiff.  I'd probably use 5 mm for worsted.

I'm quite enjoying the pattern but would make some modifications next time.  As I said, I've already decided this is halfway so I'm on the decrease side of things now.  The increases in the main garter stitch part of the material are done by a yarnover.  To me, this breaks the smooth garter stitch which I love.  Another  scarf will be done with a knit front and back for those increases..  The increases are done every six rows but the pattern repeat is eight rows.  No big problem but inconvenient to remember without making a note each time.

It's a bit hard to see the lacy edge but it's quite attractive and will look even better when blocked.

Interweave Knits?  As I explained in the post below, the pattern is appallingly presented, especially when patterns currently available are so attractively laid out for the most part.  Space and clarity play a part in making the pattern look good.

It's now eleven days since I emailed IK about this presentation.  Result?  Zilch.  Silence.  Not a word.  Linda from the USA left a comment about this on the previous post.  Her experience was the same and she tried a second time asking for a response.  Nothing.  No response at all.  I'm fairly certain this will be my experience too.  How incredibly rude to have not even an automated response sent to an enquiry.  There has been some discussion lately on several knitting lists abut magazines and the often poor service given by companies.  I think that with the ease of buying patterns etc from the internet, the one thing that will bring repeat orders is good service.  I've found that when I buy yarn online, the service from every vendor has been very good.  I'm happy to give repeat business to the vendor.

However it appears that many of the magazines think the consumer is there for them.  Now obviously, this is partly true.  However poor service will lead consumers elsewhere.  Some magazines seem to pay lip service to using the net.  Some have quite elaborate sites and facilities.  However, IK has lost me as a customer both of the printed magazine and of anything sold online with their attitude.

Today is the day I pack my knitting stuff aside.  I'll keep out this scarf and another which I have started in laceweight as an experiment.  My own design, it will not be finished quickly.  I have one more lot of wool coming to son's PO box before we move.  It's the first instalment of three lots from Ailsa.  I'll slip that in somewhere.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Llani, lacy foliage scarf

At long last Llani is finished.  I found this to be a frustrating knit, although I like the end result.  I had to buy another ball of yarn and even then I have not put the arrowheads on the sleeve cuffs as I thought I might again run out of yarn.  Actually, it hasn't really taken all that long, it just seems like it.

I found the arrowheads which are what make the garment stand out from many similar patterns,  quite annoying to do.  The first lot were done without any need for a cable needle, but the next reverse section definitely needed one.  Needed the cable needle once in every three stitches so lots of using it.  The cotton pulled and stretched  unless I was very careful in the cabling.

On the other hand, I just love the colour of this yarn.  It will suit youngest granddaughter, now just five, perfectly.  She's  the odd one out in her colouring of all the five cousins.  She's pale and blonde with an often wistful glance.

The second picture is the lacy foliage scarf from Evelyn Clark, done in sock wool.  The colour is called Lava but is an apricot/orange mix.  This does not really show against the blonde brick.  This is for the present basket which is currently well understocked.

I wrote to Interweave Knits about the appalling set out of the Lacy Kerchief scarf which I detailed in the post below.  No reply as yet.  After emailing them,  I sat down with pen and paper and spent over an hour working through the messy pattern.

I put a bracket around the beginning and close of each of the pattern sections, then wrote a prĂ©cis of each of those sections.  I have numbered both the sections as I re-wrote them and in the original printout.  All pages are now stapled together and when I have some time and inclination. I'll type up  the results of my perusal of the pattern.

The scarf itself is coming along nicely now I've sorted the directions.  The inner garter stitch pattern increases by one yarn over every six rows of an eight row pattern.  When I do it again, I'll work out a better ratio of increase.  It's a very gradual  increase in the curve, very, very gradual.  It's awkward to be increasing every sixth row out of eight.  I wrote out the sequence and now mark each time.  When I repeat the pattern, I'll omit the yarn over, two stitches from the end of the section and do a knit front and back.  I would prefer the section to be unbroken by the yarnovers.  Live and learn and test out patterns for modifications.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

FOs and others

It's somewhat hot through  Sydney today, forecast maximum of over 40 deg C.  I have two finished objects so was up early this morning to put them in to soak.  If the weather is reasonable, I'll take photos tomorrow.  I'm sure they are dry already.  It's very hot here and there's a nasty northerly wind and very low humidity.  However, I'll leave them pinned till tomorrow.

The first is the fancy foliage lace scarf, yet another Evelyn Clark design.  I made this from sock wool I bought from Wired for Fibre about eighteen months ago.  The colour is called Lava.  An easy knit, this will go into the present basket.

The second is part of a present for the youngest granddaughter of the three girls.  It's Llani, a top down garment from Katya Frankel at Bingeknitter.

So what now?  I decided on the Lacy Kerchief Scarf, from Interweave knits.  I had the pattern and found some Bendigo fingering in a plummy shade in my stash.  When I see how it goes, I might get something more luxurious, as I like the look of the scarf.

However I have a problem with the pattern.  No, it's not difficult.  It's the whole set up or should I say layout of the pattern which is a downloadable PDF.  When I look at it, I would  think the whole pattern is just taken from whatever file they had set up to print it originally in the 2005 edition of the magazine.  The layout looks remarkably like the patterns in the back of those editions I already have.  This probably means the publishers are making fairly easy money from the sale of the pattern.  It's downloadable once payment is made, a fairly easy thing to  set up.  It's also cheap to manage.

This pattern costs US $5.50.  Not a great deal more at the moment in Aussie dollars as the dollar is currently high.  Now the latest actual magazine I bought was a couple of weeks ago.  It was $13.50AUS.  It has a lot of patterns in it, many more than the 2.5 patterns at $5.50 each.  So selling individual patterns is probably a nice little money spinner.

Now my gripe is this.  There are three pages in the pattern itself.  The first is a good clear picture.  Great.  The third page has a few pages of the pattern written out and the chart.  The chart is reasonably clear, not minute type, but it could be much better according to the standard I've been using.  Evelyn Clark's charts and also those of Gudrun the Shetland Trader are very clear and easy to read.  This one is passable.

The middle page is appalling.  There are two columns on the page, so each is fairly wide.  A smallish picture, different aspect to page 1 takes some of the first column.  The last quarter of that column and ALL of the second is printed instructions.  No, not the pattern rows written out in full.  That starts at the very bottom of the second column and I use the chart anyway.

Some 60 rows form that column and it's one long paragraph.  No space anywhere, just row after  row of typed instructions.  I mean instructions, not pattern.  Things like, "do set up row, then finish pattern repeat.  Do rows 1-8 5(five) times.  By then ..."  "Work in patt., repeat, work rows 2-8 then 1-8."

You get the picture.  It's in small type and everything is crammed up  together.

It's unattractive and confusing.  When I start a new pattern, I take a highlighter and a coloured pen.  I work my way through the pattern before I begin to even cast on.  I highlight important area and things like stitch numbers.  I underline major instructions.  I put asterisks in the margin which to me denote something to be careful of and occasionally I may put a tentative question mark near something which does not seem clear.  I may even annotate the pattern in a different colour ink again.

I find this helps me in my understanding.  Working this way is a hangover from student days, even my recent Honours degree.  It used to help me understand what I was reading in a scholarly journal and also helped in the notes I made.

There's no way I can easily do this here.  I did try .  The pattern is a PDF  (fair enough), so I can't put returns etc in myself.  I can do some highlighting online when I open the PDF but it's not enough for me.   I could do some cutting and pasting in Word, but that would be very laborious and time consuming.  I may as well go through it with a fine tooth comb on my printout.  The point it that this should not be necessary.

I really think IK need  to address this sort of thing.  It makes the pattern totally unattractive to use and it makes me very wary of buying another from them in case  it is the same.  I really guess it would be, as it's come from their files.

Many patterns now are easy to read, clearly and attractively set out.  Space and clarity have been considered.  Why not this?  After all, the publishers depend on purchasers to keep them going.

Friday, 20 November 2009

more prizes

I have had a windfall of prizes over the last few weeks, unexpected but very welcome. I've never been what
some would call a lucky person and rarely win raffles and such 

things. These prizes, three of which came from giveaways on blogs have been very welcome indeed.

This year has been very hard with many unbloggable things. An 
unscheduled move and purchase of a house was a shock to all of 
us. Son owns a couple of houses and several units, all rented, but 
the purchase of a home at this time was not planned. Moving 
house with fewer than ten days to Christmas was definitely not on 
the cards. However, life throws these things sometimes and the 
three of us here have been affected by the stress and rush.  

Mum's death a few months ago was hard and although we all knew 
last Christmas that we would not have her for this Christmas, the 
reality of her absence has hit me strongly lately. Again I would say 
thank you to these generous bloggers.

Cashmere! Two balls of the softest pale aqua. Luxury on the skin, 
indeed. Thank you, Jen, from A Little Bit Crafty. When DIL brought this home from the post office yesterday, we both oohed and aahed over its softness. I'm envisaging myself, all unpacked, sitting 
relaxing and enjoying knitting this as a featherweight shawl, soft as gossamer. It was wrapped in the material you can see in the photo and the flowers on the material match the cashmere. Another 
 nudge towards more sewing, I feel.

This was not from a giveaway, but was one of the 
many generous prizes donated to knitters who took 
part in the Cancer Council's Relay for Life in West Australia. There were some very generous donors indeed and tickets were allocated to those who made a 
donation through the knitting group. They had 
anticipated raising $1000. Instead, a total of over 
$4000 was raised. Well done! Those participating 
knitted as they did the relay and gave the results of 
this knitting to charity too.

This beautiful yarn is 50% cashmere and 50% silk. It's a very vibrant aqua, more so than shows here. DIL's 
comment was that I needed to keep a close watch on this, as it just might disappear. I taught her to knit a couple of years ago and she's done a beautiful 
handspun scarf for herself. She's really too busy to 
absorb herself in knitting, but that didn't stop her 
eyeing off this yarn.

I donate to this charity every year and hadn't done so this year yet when I heard about those knitters. I was very happy to make a donation and would have done so without any incentive of prizes. The yarn is from Posh Yarn, dyed in Wales. There are 1300 yards here and 
I'm going to let this sit in the back of my mind while I work out what I want to do with it. Thank you again.

On a different note - I've had a great deal of trouble formatting this entry today. Any one else having trouble with blogger? It seems to be related to the breakjump function now introduced. That's the last icon on the 
line in the compose page. It should give a small amount of writing and then a jump to the rest of the entry 
which is concealed. What I'm getting is words split over two lines which require an actual return to write the
word as a whole. There seem to be many forum entries about this facility and its ability to mess posts 
around. Refomatting and changing the justification hasn't helped so I've fixed things manually. (hopefully)

Monday, 16 November 2009

slackford sock yarn

I've been enjoying knitting blogs for many years now, since I came back to knitting.  The forerunner of this blog was started in 2004 on the old Blogger platform.  One of the first I started to read was Stitches of Violet by Marguerite in Michigan, USA.  While I used to read a great many  USA blogs, I have cut down and now concentrate on Aussie bloggers.  However, I have continued to read Marguerite's blog all along.  She has lovely socks, great jumpers, pictures of the birds nesting on her property, chitchat about her dogs.  Her blog started around the same time as my first use of Blogger.

Here's a picture of one of the first pairs of socks I made.  They are called Old Shale socks, made from one of her original patterns, still in her sidebar.  I think I changed the heel to a square, possibly Dutch heel.  Under the turnback cuff is ribbing, giving the sock a comfortable fit.  These were a well received gift.

I first started charity knitting at a suggestion in her blog.  She makes many items for Children in Common which takes them to orphanages in Russia where it is bitterly cold in winter, even inside with little or no heating.  I did send socks but now support Aussie charities.  It was very expensive to send even small items to the USA, money which I could spend on more yarn for homegrown charities.

All this leads to my latest acquisition, Slackford Studio sock yarn.  Marguerite had three skeins of this lovely wool to give away.  We were asked to say how long we had been reading her blog.  As she had a date on her Old Shale pattern, I knew it was before that time.  I won this lovely yarn which arrived in the PO box a few days ago.

The photo was taken at 5:30 am this morning and the yarn is slightly lighter in colour than shows here.  Colour is aptly named "Meadow."  I think it's crying out for a leafy, lacy pattern.  I have several which could suit and I know there are plenty of others around.  I'm putting the yarn to the back of my mind because I can't start them right now.  Usually when I do this, the ideas roll around in my subconscious and finally just the right pattern emerges.

It's wonderfully soft to the touch and feels great.  With it came the pretty envelope which has a business card inside and two stitch markers  in green, matching the yarn.  I've lost a couple of stitch markers recently, so these replacements are very welcome.  Thank you, Marguerite for this.

Friday, 13 November 2009

please miss, the dog ate my homework

When I was teaching , this was one excuse that I wasn't given, although there were others somewhat like it.  Just about as credible.

What I'm about to relate is probably just as credible as the dog story, but, let me assure you, it's quite true!

Yesterday I wrote about the fourteen rows I had done in laceweight wool on a shawl.  No problems at all. My  mind  and fingers worked well together and I thought I was over  the problems of a few weeks ago.

I did that knitting on the balcony in the good light from the afternoon sun.  The yarn is deep green and stitches weren't easy to see when I was inside, particularly when doing nupps even over a small number of stitches.  I'd been shopping earlier and bought a small easy carve leg of lamb which I marinaded and we cooked on our snazzy new little BBQ.  When I did this, I put the knitting and the stapled pages of instructions on a chair outside, away from the food.  This chair had its back to the way the wind comes.  We ate dinner to a marvellous light show of spectacular lightning from a thunderstorm.  The temperature dropped and later on in the evening a southerly change came through with some wind.

This morning I went out on to the balcony to get my knitting.  It wasn't on the chair.  Now I know laceweight is light, but it was attached to quite a large ball of wool.  I eventually found it.  It had been blown off the chair and was caught up in some candlesticks and other odd shaped bits and pieces which had been put there to be all packed together.  It was a tangled mess!  The dog had really eaten it.  It was definitely in no shape to be continued.  I tried to sort it, but ended up discarding what I had done.

Then I looked for the five stapled pattern pages.  They were nowhere to be found.  They had been blown over balcony rail and they apparently sailed through the air.  I found them about ten metres away in a pile of leaves under a tree.

So next time you hear that excuse about the homework and the dog, spare a thought for the one presenting such a sorry tale.  It or its equivalent might just be true!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

shetland lace triangle

This is the second Shetland lace triangle shawl I've done from Evelyn Clark.  This is done on 5 mm KP needles with Naturally Harmony 8 ply from New Zealand. It took just under 600 metres of wool.  It's a silvery grey and since blocking, it feels very soft.  I have no intended recipient for this yet, but it will be packed away and I'm sure the right person will turn up in due time. I'm counting this as part of my Summer of Lace knitting.

Packed away is the right word.  In a fit of efficiency and zeal a few days ago, I packed all my bits and pieces from sewing like buttons, thread, elastic etc.  I know sewing makes a mess but I don't enjoy sewing in a mess and probably will wait till I've unpacked before I do more.  However I was just too efficient for my own good.

After the shawl dried from blocking I went to get my wool needles to darn in the ends from new skeins.  Rats!  I had packed them too.  I was out shopping today and went into the wool shop at Hornsby to ask about something.  I totally forgot to buy some more needles.  Sewing in those ends is something which will have to wait till I'm unpacked or till I remember to buy some more needles.

Now listen carefully, I will say this only once and very, very quietly, as the old comedy Allo, 'allo  would say.

I tried several times to do some laceweight knitting a couple of weeks ago.  I got myself in a terrible mess although last year I was quite capable of using this weight.  Last night I gave myself a stern talking to and declared that yes, I could and would do this.  Now I have known several people who have messed themselves up a lot by using such tactics, even if it was not for knitting.  They have gone quite over the top in their declarations and fallen apart when they could not fulfil them or they didn't magically eventuate.  I use the word "magically" deliberately because that is basically what they were doing.  However, I have no intention of being like that at all.  I am just reminding myself that this is not beyond me.

I have started some more lace weight knitting for the Summer of Lace.  So far I have done the set-up fourteen rows and all has gone well.  A few weeks ago I ripped back several attempts well before fourteen rows were done.  Hopefully progress reports will follow.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

ticked off mightily

I am somewhat cranky.  I'm going to have to make an unscheduled trip to Morris and Sons to buy some more Jaipur cotton to finish the Llani top for granddaughter as part of her Christmas presents.  I thought  it would be close but this is ridiculous.  I still have another 4 centimetres to knit stocking stitch on the body and then ribbing after that.  Sleeve stitches have to be taken off holder, eight rows knitted, some sharp decreases to pull them in and then the edging.  I have enough yarn left for perhaps ten stitches.  My stitch tension is spot on and length is given in inches and centimetres, not rows.

In fact, what I need to do is turn it inside out and see just how far a ball does go by counting rows.  Then I can calculate number of rows left still to do and see if I might actually need two balls.  Must be disciplined in the shop, must be disciplined in the shop, must be...

I think these arrow heads are pretty but they were a pain to do in this cotton.  It's really a crossover of two stitches  and the cotton stretched out  and went sloppy no matter how careful I was in doing the crossover.  The outer twist four rows  could be done without the cable needle but the lower twist needed the cable needle.  With or without made no difference to the stretch and I was worried it might continue stretching as I knit the stocking stitch.  It's fine however.

I'm pretty well packed.  Yarn is in plastic tote boxes and clothes on hangers will be transported like that and re-hung.  I have a few books to pack and my emergency knitting projects are in a bag to pick up and go.  DIL is still packing away and refusing help.  She's right, she's probably quicker by herself but I feel bad about not helping.  So today I've done more cleaning of fiddly bits which won't really need re-doing.  I've been through the place with the very long Turk's head broom and got rid of a lot of spider webs.  I've also rubbed the broom over any of the outside windows which can be reached.  Balcony ceilings have been done.  I've dusted up high where we often pass over those areas and washed window sills and the little niches dotted through this place.  The large curved inside staircase has a beautiful polished wood banister rail, neatly turned to fit the shape of the hand.  It gets too much use to get dusty, but the heavy metal brackets which connect it to the plaster side of the stairs were quite grubby.  I think we probably inherited them like that, but they are now quite white as I washed them with some warm water and bleach.  I've cleaned out those drawers which have been emptied.  Hopefully there won't be too much cleaning at the very end which is heavy/messy and we will have the carpets steam cleaned.

DIL is having a day off and I think she needs it.  A friend's sister lives at Mittagong and they have gone down to the Bong Bong Picnic Races.  It's a beautiful day to be out down there.

Monday, 9 November 2009

heart to heart scarf and a break-in

Second last present needing my creative attention.  This is Evelyn Clark's Heart to Heart Scarf, take 2. It's for one DIL and is made from the lovely Grignasco Bambi again in the same dark green as the second Aestlight that I made.  Very deep green a lovely, restful colour.  Green, I tell you, not deep charcoal.

My model has claimed all the attention for herself and taken the colour from the scarf.  Actually, she's one of the many naked ladies around here.  Neither DIL nor I are in that category!  This one has a light inside her and she glows softly.  I chose her to model the scarf so the lace edge could be easily seen.

There are several shop dummies around too.  A dressmaker's model is in one of the bedrooms, there's a black wire display model outside my room, and probably another three shop ladies around the place.

Add to those, the busts of naked ladies which are grouped on the sideboard and the rather beautiful painting of a nude in the main bedroom.  None of my grandchildren likes any of them.  They don't giggle and are not shy about them, but they don't like them.  Each of them has expressed a dislike for the naked ladies who live here.

I've been packing, sorting and throwing out  today.  I feel guilty about watching DIL pack, because after all I live here and enjoy the benefits.  I should share the less pleasant bits too.  However, she has so far refused all offers of help and is well on the way to having most of the easy bits done, like books in the thousands and a lot of crockery.  There's the pantry to go, personal stuff, clothes.  We have had date confirmed as 16/12 to move.

Last night I saw son photographing the door.  He pointed out where the lock had been forced with a screwdriver and bits gouged out of the door frame.  There are two locks on the door and I think this would be about 80 years old.  It seems that when this one did not give, the would-be burglar ran off.  We're not quite sure just when this happened, but think probably Friday.

Actually, I think I may have scared the thief off.  I was home alone on Friday, all weekend actually.  DIL was out in the morning and early afternoon.  I was upstairs and heard a noise as of lock being opened.  I called out to what I thought was her, as I went downstairs because I knew she would have parcels to get inside.  There was no one there, although there had most definitely been a noise.  The lock itself has had a screwdriver forced inside it and the back handle is floppy although the key still works.

Owner is very annoyed about the damage. He just about worships the place here.   It's not as if we did it ourselves!  We spoke to police this morning and were given an incident number.  Surprisingly only 45 minutes later we had a very jovial Senior Constable and his sidekick at the door.  Their comment was that the only way to secure the house was to have bars and security doors.  There are nine doors to the outside.  He said he'd put in a report but not to expect results although he would send finger print people around.  We report it only to be able to tell owner we had done so.  We're well aware nothing will come of it.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

heart to heart and yet more jacaranda

I've been working sporadically on the Heart to Heart scarf.  It suits my mind at the moment as there are just a few stitches of lace on one edge of the scarf.  I know the pattern and do a twelve row repeat at the one time, so  it's progressing nicely with a three stitch increase/decrease over those twelve rows.

I'm now past the halfway mark and am coming back down the stitch count. As with the Aestlight shawl I made and gave away, I'm really liking the Grignasco Bambi to use in scarves.  It's easy to knit, the garter stitch part is very even, the lace will be fine when blocked and the drape of the scarf material, done on 4 mm KP Harmony  needles is lovely.  It's soft to the touch and will be lovely around the neck.

Another couple of photos of the biggest jacaranda here.  There are others but  this is enormous.  It's probably 12-14 metres wide and a good deal higher than that. At dusk and just before sunrise the flowers almost glow with a deep  luminous brilliance. I tried to capture the width of the tree in this photo, but there is more on both sides of the picture I took.

I watch very little TV, none of us watches much at all.  However, I'm alone here this weekend and turned it on last night.  Better Homes and Gardens was on.  I haven't seen that for at least 15 months and tuned in to hear Graham Ross the gardener saying that if you wanted just one tree, then a jacaranda would be it.    I doubt it.  These trees can become huge. They can completely dominate a small backyard.  The shade is good and the flowers are truly beautiful.

There are big drawbacks.  This purple carpet looks lovely.  That is, until the rain falls on it when they become very slushy.  The bees love the flowers even when they are on the ground.  One of my sons has two beautiful jacarandas in his yard.  Every year there are several bee stings because at least one of his children goes outside in bare feet and treads on a bee.  They do learn but it's an easy thing to happen.  Painful too.

This is the start of the carpeting, taken from two storeys up and it will  go on for several weeks unless a gale blows off all the flowers.

After the flowers come the leaves, delicate little fern like fronds, arranged in larger leaves of the same.  There is the same problem with the leaves as with the flowers.  The tree is deciduous and in autumn, they too fall to the ground.  Not in the larger gatherings of fronds but in thousands and thousands of little pieces not much bigger than a thumbnail.  They get every where and particularly over any washing hung to dry on the line.

In the right spot, they are gorgeous trees with great summer shade.  Being deciduous, they allow sun through in the winter.  But the tree to choose if you want only one?  I doubt it in a suburban garden.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

winnings and purchases

Here is my lovely prize from Selina's blog giveaway.  It arrived very quickly in the post office box and DIL brought it home this afternoon.

All wrapped up in some pattern paper were lots of goodies.  I remember that paper.  Sometimes it seemed as if it took as long to cut out all the pieces of pattern as it did to make a simple dress. You can see a lovely needlecase which I definitely needed and had planned on making.  The button on the case shows an old wooden cotton reel.

There was a cute card printed with her name and blog address.  Almost hidden is a piece of lovely chenille.  I'll have to think carefully about that but it just may become a cushion in my new room when I move.  The room is big enough to have a small lounge in it.  DIL has a small old Parker lounge which I'll probably use at first till I work out what I really want.  It needs cushions.

The fat quarters are great and I'm thinking at least some could be in a skirt  for a granddaughter.  Will thinks some more about that.  Old buttons fascinate me.  They remind me of my grandma's button jar.  I have some old ones myself and will add these to my stock.  When I look at them, I can envisage the sort of clothing they would have been on.

So, on to the purchase which also came from the post office box.  A couple of weeks ago I bought the cerise bag at far right of the photo.  It's an Ecosilk bag made from parachute nylon and totally recyclable.  It makes a great holder for  my knitting and I can pick it up and go, knowing everything is there.  I've been on the lookout for these for a while.  They are a good size and can hold 13 kg in weight.  I wouldn't be carrying them with that weight in them!

I looked on their website and found I could order them in packs of six.  With postage  this was about the same as buying the same number in a shop, although the pack discounted the price of the bags.  These colours represent Spring. The tiny yellow bag is a drawstring freebie.  I'm thinking lipgloss or similar.  They were all packed in the larger blue bag, also a drawstring bag, on the left.

Packing is proceeding here.  Moving date seems to be settled on December 16th but there's lots to pack.  I'm not looking forward to it.  I know some people move regularly but I've not been one of them before and I find it hard to handle.  The collected family Christmas gathering is on the 19th December.  We were tired of traffic etc on Boxing Day so made it early this year.  No idea of upheaval beforehand, unfortunately.  We can't easily change it.  We've booked months ago a large shelter in Fagins Park at Galston and it's going to be brunch.  I have quite a lot of presents bought already.  When I was packing today, I put them in a very recognisable container so at least I'll be able to find them.  Not much more to get now.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

lacy summer not so lacy

Goodness me, Blogtoberfest is over but I'm still posting daily.

I think my brain is working overtime on moving house.  Without being  conscious of dwelling on the topic, I find little bits and pieces keep cropping up.  Suggestions, queries, size of areas etc, thoughts I've had.

As a result, my brain is not coping well with lace yet.  I have cast on several times for two patterns from Victorian Lace Today.  I've gone varying distances before fouling things up and ripping it out.  Last night I tried a simple pattern to  make a scarf.  Still  a mess.

Today I walked down to Greta's at Lindfield and bought some more Grignasco Bambi in the dark green I used on one of my Aestlight shawls.  I've cast on and done about thirty rows of Evelyn Clark's  Heart to Heart Lace Scarf.  I've done this in black before for me, and the green should work well and be easier to see.  So far, so good.

Perhaps I'll ease into this summer and I think it might not be till the Christmas break that I get stuck into something more involved.  Then we'll have moved.  Moving date has been fixed at 16/12.  BY Christmas I'll be looking for some respite from unpacking,  I think.

I need to block the Shetland Triangle I did in the 8 ply.  That too may wait till things are more ettled.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009


UFO alert!  Not the little flying saucers and I haven't been abducted by green aliens or beamed up, Scotty at all.

I've started packing and sorting my stuff prior to move.  It's a good few weeks off yet but time goes quickly.  After all, it should still be February and here it is November.  It's certainly hot enough for February today, the Bureau of Meteorology has Sydney's temperature at 2:00 at 36.3°.

I decided there must be stuff I don't want to move a second time and that I would sort things.  Now most of my kitchen stuff etc. and books are boxed in the garage.  All I have up here is some bedding, clothes for all seasons and of course my wool.

The first bag I picked up had a variety of things in it.  Now I could have sworn I knew my UFOs and they were few.  There was stuff there I had totally forgotten.  A cabled white men's jumper.  The front was nearly finished.  It was moth eaten and a good deal of the wool had already been pitched because it was mothy.  I think this dates  from an "earth mother" stage probably over thirty years ago.  The pattern was no longer attractive and I doubt it would now fit its intended recipient.  Not that I'm considering making anything at all for him. I threw it out and with it went some revived memories.

Then there was the apricot cardigan for some little girl.  That was acrylic and can't have been too old as I took the pattern from a freebie site on the net.  It was made in one of the better acrylics.  I'm not sure who the little girl was and I remember abandoning it because the pattern shaping went very strange and I found it difficult to work out where it should be going.

There were a couple of scarves, made to use up some remnants.  Again, no recollection of these, but they had obviously been abandoned through sheer boredom. They went too.

I found the large, plain triangular shawl I had started and left.  Don't remember why.  It had been better stored and was salvageable. It was made from Optim  and I will finish that although I may frog it and use the wool again in another design.

Now I do remember that shawl and had been wondering where it was.    However, the others were mysteries.  Now gone and I can forget about them again.

I have put aside some winter tops and will give them to charity.  Most of my clothes remain reasonably well sorted.  The needed to be because of lack of space. At the change of seasons I would go through them as I brought some inside and repacked others.

I've been working in the heat most of the day apart from a brief lunch break and was filthy.  I've now had a shower and washed away the heat, grime and dust and put on some comfy pants made  from an old sheet to an Amy Butler design from >In Stitches.  A much better feeling and I'm going to knit.

I've been perusing the floor plan of the new house and looking more closely at the photos.  My son is desperate to change the oyster style light fittings but there's not much else to do.  I asked DIL about the built-in wardrobes and were there linen presses.  Wardrobe in my room is more than twice as long as  the one I have now.  I'm sure this one was made for men's shirts and jackets or perhaps children's clothing.  Even my skirts can't hang straight because it's not very tall and everything is squashed.  More space will be a luxury.  The wardrobe goes to the ceiling as  well.  I'll have to be careful to work out what goes there.  I'm not tall like son and DIL.  He's 6'5" and she's 6' tall.  They wave their hands around and can put stuff really high.  However, kitchen steps may be my friend.  I'm 5'3".  When I asked about a linen press, not for me in particular but just as a general enquiry, I was told there were two and I was welcome to the one just outside my room for  my own use.

Talk about luxury, my stash may well get another good sort over the Christmas period.  It's a pity about the large mirror doors on the wardrobe.  Certainly I would not choose them, but I'm more interested in the actual space available than the fact that the doors are mirrored..

Monday, 2 November 2009

my weekend

I was minding my small grandson and his older sister at their place on the Central Coast for most of Saturday and the night while their parents attended a wedding in Sydney.  Big wedding with over 300 guests.  DIL left very early on Saturday morning as she was doing the hair for large wedding party and assorted others.

All went well, although I've forgotten just how messy a four year old boy can be.  I should have remembered - after all I had three myself!  Weather was beautiful, mild, sunny with a light breeze.  Older sister was picked up for a sleepover and we settled down singing, painting, climbing.  Well, he climbed, I watched.  He ate an enormous dinner, had a bath and went quite happily to bed.

I'd been asked to take him to the bathroom before I went to bed.  At 11:00 I went to do this.  Heard a noise from his room and thought perhaps he'd got up by himself.  Unfortunately, he must have caught the gastric bug  going around pre-school.  It was everywhere, all dinner and goodness knows what.  That was something else I'd forgotten from my son' childhood and it was a memory I would rather have left undisturbed.

Cleaned him up, changed bed, wiped down, found new pillow,  put washing machine on, washed soft toys by hand.  Rang his parents who said they would return from reception then.  They were extremely apologetic, but hey, something like that is part of life with children.  Reception was beginning to wind down.  Problem was that they had a 90 minute drive  to return as they'd been the far side of Sydney.

Just settled down to await their return and it happened all again and again.

Fortunately, by the time we all got to bed about 2:00 am, things seemed better and we got some sleep till he woke up at 6:00 am and came into my room.  Reluctantly I got up, made breakfast, giving him only a little bit and we went outside.  I thought that since his mother had been so busy the day before, I'd let her sleep.  She surfaced sometime after 9:00 and my son some time later.

Grandson seemed to be over the worst, although he was pale and tired.  We went to the waterfront for lunch, buying fish and chips  which was a treat I don't have here.  Haven't had well cooked, battered fish for a very long time.  Crispy batter, very well drained.  Then I caught the train back down here.  I was delayed by a faulty signal which stopped the train for 30 minutes.  Just as we approached Hornsby where I had to change, it was all I could do to keep my eyes open.

So a good weekend at either end with an unpleasant disturbance in the middle. Early night last night and packing and sorting stuff today.  Settlement date on new house is December 10th, although moving date is still somewhat fluid.  I don't want to leave it all till the end.  This is a big house, so I'm helping start on cleaning now.  Windows etc won't bet too dirty again if they are done now.  After all, spiders here can cobweb a window in hours of cleaning off old webs.

His photo is old, pre-school from 2008 and not taken by me. Must update my library.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

bloggy prizes

I've seen several blogs commenting on the community raised by bloggers.  I've found this among knitting blogs and also in other areas.  I regularly meet cyber friends from a large international forum where I participate.

Both these areas represent a caring community.  Knitters and other creative folk are generous.and kindhearted.

I've enjoyed Blogtoberfest and enjoyed finding so many interesting new blogs..  Some of these show creativity in ways I would not normally attempt.  All have beautiful work to display, yummy recipes to try, words of encouragement and sympathy when down.

I've entered a few giveaways and refrained from others.  When I returned from my weekend babysitting (and more of that later when I've had a sleep) I found two delightful emails in my inbox.
At Selina's Vintage I entered a giveaway which I won.  Some vintage fat quarters, some vintage buttons, a needlecase.  Photos to follow when the parcel arrives and is collected from son's PO box.  I have been debating making myself a needlecase for a couple of weeks now.  A serendipitous prize indeed.  I used to have a lovely, very vintage needlecase given me by a great aunt many years ago.  It was a red felt Red Riding Hood.  I used it for years, but somewhere it disappeared and I don't know if I still have it.

Not only that but the knitting powers have confirmed that I do indeed take part in a Long Lacy Summer. I made a donation to Knitters for a Cure who were doing relay for Life in Perth.  I have won some lovely lace yarn with 50% silk and 50% cashmere, 1300 yards.  Absolutely gorgeous.

Now I made a donation here and was entered.  However, I donate to this cause every year  and hadn't done so yet.  It supports breast cancer research and my sister is a 12 year survivor although she's had problems at times.  I have also supported Movember where one son grew the most amazing moustache.  Another cancer cause. Yet another son has  several times shaved his head for Canteen and I've supported him there too.  So the prize was not the main attraction.  These knitters knit during the relay.  They have raised over $4000, a fantastic effort.  Congratulations.

Thank you to Selina and to those who donated prizes for the cancer relay and to those who participated in the relay.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

in and out and stash it all about

I'm writing this early as I'll be up the coast babysitting all weekend. I hope it's fairly accurate and I'll try to edit it before I leave.

October details:

In:  I really wanted to knit from stash only all Blogtoberfest.  No real reason to do with the blogging, just a thought I had.  All was going well till I visited the op shop in Hornsby to look at sheets etc for bags, linings, whatever.  I saw some knitting related stuff and had a poke through  Urrk! Lots of feathers and bobbles all twisted and knotted together.   Hang on!  What's this?  A ball of Cleackheaton 8 ply in a lovely soft grey.  Ballband still on and it was  obviously untouched.  Now my guess is that few knitters would have left it there, despite ideas os stash reduction.  I took it to the counter.  It was hugely expensive.  Not.  The attendant said, "50 cents please."  Deal done.  A hat for a child's chilly head for 0.50cents?  How could I leave it there?


  • 1000 gm  (1 kilo!!!) Cleckheaton Country      Pi shawl, more like rug, huge.     FO
  • 200 gm Wendy DK Supreme Cotton.  T-shirt for granddaughter present.  FO
  • 150 gm Jaipur cotton.  Top for another granddaughter.  WIP
  • 100 gm Heirloom Merino scarf for present box.   FO
  • 100 gm Colinette mohair.  Very long scarf for friend moving to cold part of Victoria.  FO
  • 120 gm Bendigo Luxury 4 ply.  Travelling Woman shawl.   FO
  • 108 gm Bendigo Luxury 4 ply. Shetland Lace Triangle.  Gift.  FO
  • 200 gm Naturally Harmony 8 ply.  Shetland Lace Triangle.  WIP now but probably FO by weekend.
That's just on 2 kg knitted up.  Busy fingers indeed.

Friday, 30 October 2009

long lacy summer

I've been poking around in my patterns and books and on the net for a start to my long lacy summer  hosted by Bells.  As I said in yesterday's entry, I had a bad case of the blahs then.  It's amazing what some good news re house purchase and a decent sleep can do.  Today I opened up my Victorian Lace Today* and was overwhelmed by options there.

I've chosen this one which, for those of you with the book, is on page 104.  It has some detail to keep my interest  as I watch the outside border of diamonds taking shape.  The inner part is really only eight stitches wide, although there is a caution to be careful in the two row repeat so the insertion alternates properly.  The pattern is marked for experienced lace knitters while others are for intermediate and seem more complicated.  The picture is a bit blurry from teh extremely glossy page it's printed on and I was also trying to avoid showing pattern notes.  My background makes me wary of violating copyright!

I find an easy way to mark the right side and therefore row 1 of that inner pattern, is to use a different stitch marker at the beginning of that row.  Either a different colour or even a totally different marker to the others used.

I love this book.  When I get my own place, it's likely to end up as a coffee table book to sigh and drool over the beautiful photography.  Bells' photos of her Myrtle shawl are a take off or spoof of the  photos in the book.  Actually, I'll say her photos are modelled on the book's.  Her Myrtle shawl is absolutely beautiful, nothing like  a spoof.

That was close.  I opened the book to get publication details and out fell my copy of the errata for the book.  That design is mentioned, so I'll amend my photocopy of the pattern.  I hadn't thought to check.

*Victorian Lace Today, Sowerby J., XRX Inc., South Dakota, 2006, 2009

Thursday, 29 October 2009


This entry is little more than a placeholder.  There are three days left till the end of the month.  As I'll be away at the weekend, I've already scheduled a post to appear, like magic, on Saturday, October 31st.  So that just leaves today and tomorrow.

However, today I have woken with a case of the blahs.  I think a large part of this is due to the lack of sleep last night.  I woke up just forty minutes after I'd gone to bed and was wide awake.  Got myself some warm milk and honey, first time in years for that, and went back to bed.  I spent the next few hours alternating 30 minute naps and 30 minutes being awake.  Then, when I normally fall soundly asleep if something like that happens, I woke right up.  I acknowledged defeat and had a shower at 6:00.

Unfortunately I don't think my second Shetland Lace Triangle will be finished for the weekend.  There are just  a few rows to go on the last pattern repeat and then sixteen rows of border knitting.  I've been picking it up and knitting in a desultory manner all morning.  It was when I saw I'd done almost a complete row, over 200 stitches, and had done original increases but no pattern all across the row that I thought I should put it down.  I did tink back that row.

I've been looking at my lace books to see what appeals for another Lacy Summer.  However,  the blahs have spread there too.  An early night is in order.

We've been busy here packing and sorting.  Son and DIL want to buy.  Their own home is rented on a long lease and they are happy with that, but they don't want to rent.  Ideally they want a large converted warehouse or else something which would be good for a couple of years and then used to add to their investment properties they already have.  DIL has been looking for ages.  Some places are almost beyond belief.  Extremely expensive, absolutely appallingly presented or both together.  In several places she looked at last weekend, she had to pick her way over dirty underwear on the floor!  YUK.

Then we found one, well designed, good use of space, very good condition, nothing needed to be done to it.  Underpriced for a quick sale. Thanks to some bungling by an unethical agent walking a hair's breadth on the right side of the law, they may have lost it.  We'll probably know late this afternoon.  She has turned up  two others, but neither is as good as this one.  While it appears to be a townhouse, it is Torrens title, not strata.  It's over 4 levels which sort of interleave over each other.  Bottom layer is a very big garage which would mean she could have a studio down there and still have parking. Separate toilet there.

 Next level opens to outside front and back and has biggish dining and living areas and a very good kitchen. All double glazed.  Up a level to two big bedrooms with a small sunroom off one of them.  An ensuite to that bedroom, a separate laundry and another full bathroom.  Top level is master suite with an ensuite and a dressing room as big as one of the bedrooms below it.  That opens onto a large terrace with privacy screens.  Again, all double glazed for quiet and all bedrooms also have built in wardrobes.

Area fills all their conditions and is close to all they want.  So here's hoping we still get it.  I think stress over this is probably behind the poor sleep and the blahs.  So I've actually put the knitting aside today.

Later:They got the house they wanted.  Here are some pictures.  As it's now been marked sold, i don't know how long link will be active.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

sale purchases


Morris and Sons (Tapestry Craft) has their sale on again.  I wasn't going to indulge but surely I needed more Harmony needles?  Why yes, I really did.  Really, really did.  I left home just before 9:00 today and was in the city at 9:30, thanks to a train which skipped some stations. Home again by 11:30 and that included a cup of coffee.  I didn't look around much in the shop as I didn't want to be tempted too far.

I was surprised.  I was the only customer in the shop when I arrived.  When I left a few minutes later, one other had walked in.  I had planned to go on Monday, but it was very wet, blowing a gale and  quite cold here so I stayed inside.  We even turned the heater on that night we were so chilly.

As can be seen from the photo I bought three sets of needles, 3.75 mm, 4.5 mm and 5.0 mm.  I have a set of 4.5 mm already but seem to use them quite a bit so bought another lot.  These cost $7.63 each,  down from $10.90.

I've been making a little top for youngest granddaughter and using some Bendigo cotton which I already had.  My plans were to knit entirely from stash during Blogtoberfest.  However the  top I'm making was just not working in what I had.  So does it count if I buy more to replace something I had??  It will be put to use very shortly.  It never even made it to the stash and the Bendigo cotton will be returned to stash.  This particular lot seems ill-fated.  I was making each of the girls little ballet cardigans.  Two have been given and were liked.  The third was to be made of this cotton.  I've done one front.  However, I made another cotton top for that little girl so started  something for a Christmas present.  My brain was totally fried with stress and a headache that day and I ripped it three times because I could not concentrate on the arrowhead yoke pattern.  Since then I've struggled with it and it just wasn't working in my mind.   I was tired of the pink, somewhat insipid.

This Jaipur cotton seems crisper and I think it will work better.  It's certainly not insipid.  It's shown here on my pink Moleskine knitting notebook.  It has some zing and zest to it, and is a pinky, cerise colour. It will suit little Miss Blonde well.  I might even get the yoke pattern right first time around, it's not difficult, just requires some concentration.  The pattern is LLani by Katya Frankel  here. The pattern covers sizes 2-12. This cotton was also $7.63/ball.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

not much longer to go

Today is the 27th October, almost the  end of the month and of Blogtoberfest.  It's not been always easy to post every day, but the end is in sight.

I'm working on a second Shetland Triangle Shawl, this time in 8 ply in Naturally Harmony from NZ.  The thicker wool totally changes the character of the shawl.  This will be very warm and snug and may well go to the DIL whose birthday is in June.  It's a lovely silvery grey.  I like the wool, pure merino and it's easy to knit.

Yesterday was the wettest Sydney day for ages and the wettest October in years in Sydney.  It's been freezing up here with the wind quite strong and very heavy rain.  I turned the heater on again late yesterday afternoon as the house was very cold.

No pictures as yet because there's not much done but I started another pair of socks in some old black/grey Patonyle.  I thought we'd just about reached the end of sock weather here but obviously was mistaken.  Now these won't be ready for some time but at least I made a start.  It's certainly sock wearing weather at the moment.  Yesterday I had to dig around in the drawer to find some to put on.  Not only had I done the seasonal swap-around of clothes here, but since we're moving in a few weeks, I'd packed quite a lot of things away.  Fortunately I've kept out some warm tops or I would have been a frozen lump of ice.

Monday, 26 October 2009

long lacy summer

In the two years I've been here, I haven't seen this bush orchid flower before.  It sits beside the second half of the steps to the front door and quite possibly doesn't get quite enough  sun.  It's not ours, it belongs to the house owner.  I was going to repot it, it's sadly overdue for fresh soil, but as we are leaving here soon I won't risk it.  It grows in a cheap plastic pot which is perishing and breaking away.

There are loads of similar flowers here and a few weeks ago the orchids in pots on the balcony off the dining room were superb.  Huge sprays of beautiful flowers in an array of colours.

I'm seeing this as a prelude to summer.  I hope this summer does not have as many excessively hot days as last year.  Where son and DIL are looking to buy is back down on the Sydney plain.  It's much warmer down there than up here and they remark on the difference anytime they return after being in the inner west of Sydney.  Still, that area is very much more convenient for their lives than up here and it's really none of my business.

So all this is a lead-up to what I'm planning on knitting for summer.  Last year I joined a group knitting lace for the summer.  I'd done a few lacy scarves before but was by no means an experienced lace knitter.  I enjoyed the time and encouragement and learnt a lot.

I'd always approached lace knitting with some trepidation.  It was out of my comfort zone and I had vague feelings of disquiet about knitting lace.  Still, I grabbed the opportunity to be part of a community all knitting lace for summer.  Comments gave encouragement and suggestions.  While I left one work and actually cast  off because that particular  lace weight yarn was making my fingers ache, I did produce some pretty lacy socks and several scarves which I used as gifts  which were well received.

Perhaps the best thing about last year's Lacy Summer was that I finally came to terms with charts.  Now I had done most of a mystery shawl KAL some years ago, but I struggled with the charts.  Charts gave me more problems then than the knitted instructions which were  in my inexperience a frustration at getting pattern repeats right.  Mind you, I did not then realise the helpfulness of stitch markers!

I'm a verbal person.  I've done and done well teaching.  I've lectured, spoken at conferences, preached, as well as  the original teaching.  I've written study notes, short essays, articles and more.  Words are my stock in trade.  Unlike others in my family, my ability to draw to my satisfaction is low.  I was told that lessons would help but I really am not interested in that sort of thing.  My creativity manifests itself in other ways.

Charts frightened me.  I  would take one look and part of my brain would instantly turn itself off.  Symbols  flashed meaninglessly before my eyes and I'd look back to the written instructions with their abbreviations and asterisks for repeats and often their cramped layout in printing and work from there.

I decided I had to confront this somewhat irrational feeling, so I took myself in hand.  I found some simple charts of patterns which I already knew and practised  doing these from just the chart.  I worked my way around difficulties and became more accepting of charts.  By the end of the summer I felt much more comfortable in dealing with them.

Over autumn and winter I have done seven triangular shawls and used the charts only for all of them.  I'm now on the eighth.  Ishbels and Ishbel beret, Aestlights, Travelling Woman,Milkweed,  Springtime Bandit and Shetland Lace Triangles.  There have been some lacy scarves, cowls and neckwarmers too and some lacy socks as well.  I find that now when I am considering a pattern to do, I automatically look to see the chart.  My brain has gradually been re-trained so that what was once beyond considering is now well and truly accepted.  I'm still not what I would call a visually based person, but I can now do charts.

All this is really a lead-up to Bells' announcement that there will be another Long Lacy Summer this year.  If you are at all interested in lace, why not give it a try?  There's no compulsion and we knit what we choose.  I haven't quite made up my mind what I will concentrate on this summer.  I do know I now enjoy lace knitting and find it a great way of switching off my mind from some matters so I can concentrate on the lace.  I'll definitely be using charts again too.

The same post has a link in it to the Southern Summer of Socks which is running again this summer.  Bells and Rosered have decided to continue this summer.  Those from the northern hemisphere are welcome to join, it's not restricted  to us from down here.  Again there's no set formulae to follow.  Proceed at your own pace and comfort.  Perhaps you could do as I am and combine lace and socks.