Thursday, 30 April 2009

Poetry Month

Amy at Live, Learn Knit suggested celebrating Poetry Month in the USA by several ways. One was posting a poem on a blog.

I think I first read any of Gerard Manley Hopkins work in my last year at High School. I was taken by his sprung rhythm which works a bit like syncopation in jazz music. His eye for detail and his descriptions took my breath away then and still do.. I find it hard to pick a poem to put here but this one is a fairly easy introduction, more so than many of his other poems. I've had a book of Hopkins on my desk for years and use it as a refreshment of spirit. When I left home, mine was packed away. After a few weeks here, I could not cope not having one around and in the thousands of books DIL has, she did not have a copy. I now have two. I just had to buy another.

Hopkins was a priest in the late nineteenth century but not all his poetry and writings have a religious theme.

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs-
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

bits and pieces

Winter is definitely on its way. it was quite chilly here this morning and still hasn't warmed up much. This hat, done in some leftover Jet will be given to some charity for winter giving. It's another bit towards Lynne's textured knitting winter. The pattern is from a Lyncraft book and I broke one of my own rules when I chose this. It's often a mistake when knitting to choose a pattern where the picture does not show the garment in full, and/or does not show different views of something larger like a cardigan or jacket. I also find it best to avoid "arty" shots as they sometimes hide design faults too. This pattern showed what appeared to be a snug fitting skull cap, pulled down onto the top of the model's forehead. It's confusingly written, there are actually three cables on the hat which is done on straight needles. I did use the straight needles as I couldn't be bothered setting things up on a circular. As you can see, there are some puckers at the top of the hat. I think they are caused by having the decreases in the stocking stitch section of the hat, rather than the cable. What is also not obvious is that there are only a couple of repeats of the cable. It does not go all the way to the top. It could easily have done so. Oh well, live by my own rules. There's a reason for them. The hat flares a bit at the bottom, rather than being a snug fit. It's also shortish. I crocheted several rows onto the bottom to make it longer. Live and learn. One case where a picture did not tell the truth.

I went yesterday to mind the youngest grandchild while his mum had some medical issues to see to. Another abnormal test result from her latest smear. This started several years ago when she was pregnant with him. Please get these checks done regularly , even if they are undignified and unpleasant and embarrassing. She seems to be fine but a close watch will be kept.

Said grandson is three. Broken things bother him and have to be fixed. It was this boy who at two used a set of toy screwdrivers, not soft plastic but wood, to dismantle the hinges of two kitchen cupboard doors and was on the third door when discovered with doors on the floor next to him.

I arrived yesterday to have his socks shown to me with a request to fix them. This was a pair I did 18 months ago for him and he had snagged the underneath of the foot and made a hole. I saw that the heel was now halfway down his foot and really, a new pair would be a better fit. I asked him the colour he wanted. Orange, orange, orange. It's his favourite colour. I have some old Magic Stripes with some orange in it, but there's also a lot of pink. I don't think he'd appreciate that. With some searching last night I found Heirloom Jigsaw has an orange, red and blue stripe, about the closest I could find. I have some cream which could be dyed, but it's handwash only and his socks get dirty quickly and need the machine.

Children learn very quickly. He tells me he's a big boy now and doesn't need help in the bathroom at all. However, when I asked him to pack away the train tracks for his Thomas engine which were spread over the kitchen floor, I was quickly told he was "only little." When I told his father, my son, he informed me that the day before, Finn had also used the excuse to avoid helping pack up , "I got a berry (!!) bad cough," which he proceeded to demonstrate.
Bells was speaking about knitting using beautiful pieces for decoration. Some showed bowls, others platters, all lovely.

This beautiful bowl was a gift to me about fifteen years ago. It's a special alloy, the make-up of which I have now forgotten. It was done by a craftsman in Canberra who has since died. I think his son now carries on his dad's work. I just love it. It's about 10-12 inches in diameter, quite deep. I've used it for decoration, for fruit and also for salad. It came from a very expensive shop in the Queen Victoria Building and was several hundred dollars then. I have another two, with different patterns on the side, deeper and taller as well as narrower.

My room does not lend itself to "decoration." It's a constant struggle to keep it tidy but practical. I've just done a major sort of clothes and brought inside warmer stuff.

However, I use the bowl and it gives me great pleasure. At the moment it has often used double points in it, and some lace wool balls, leftover from summer. I've also used it in the summer out on the balcony to hold the ball of wool I was knitting. It was small enough to keep it contained and big enough to stop it bouncing out and rolling around on the balcony floor.

It is one of my favourite possessions.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

hats, FOs, a vest and a good win

Some finished objects at last, even if only small. The hats are for charity giving. Not a good photo but that's life this morning as far as photos go. They aren't really as wide at the bottom as they seem to be. Just the camera angle. The adult green one is made from Patons Jet and is very soft and cuddly. The child's hat is from Bendigo Classic 8 ply. Both use the same cable headband. However, in the child's hat I did as the pattern suggested and picked up the stitches on the inside of the band which then folds back double for extra warmth.

It's a beautiful morning here, very much an autumn morning. However it's windy and forecast to be stronger later. Looking from the upstairs balcony, I can see the Blue Mountains very clearly. Sometimes it's hazy and on occasions even smoggy in that area near the trainline between Penrith and Parramatta. However, everything is crystal clear today and from the other side of the balcony I can see sandstone cliffs which I think is possibly Wattamolla Beach in the Royal National Park south of Sydney. These hats are part of Lynne's winter textured knitting, after the long lacy summer.
Another poor photo due to wind. I had everything sitting nicely and as I pressed the camera button a gust of wind moved the vest so the photo is blurry. This is for little Finn, my youngest grandchild who is three. He does not like sleeves very much and even when at the ZigZag Railway in the mountains last week, we could not get him to put something warmer on top of his Tshirt. I was surprised to feel his warm arms as it really was quite cold there. He goes to pre-school two days a week and has a wonderful time. This involves getting quite dirty. I thought perhaps he would wear a vest which would be some extra warmth. This is Patons Smoothie, a 100% acrylic. To knit such yarn is very unusual for me. I normally knit pure wool or a blend which is mostly wool. Now his mum is pretty good about washing handknits, but I thought this could just go in the machine regularly. I'm going there on Tuesday so will try to remember the camera to get a better shot.

I found it hard to find a vest pattern on the net for a little boy so made this one up. Using a size chart from here and my own gauge, I worked out sizes. This pattern could well be knit in the round and split for neck and shoulders. However, I started at lower back edge and knit up and over the shoulders, then down the front. That did mean side seams were needed but they were just short, straight seams. No armhole shaping at all. I wasn't particularly happy with the yarn which I found splitty. Occasionally it also came untwisted too. However, I persevered. It was certainly cheap. This used about 1 1/2 balls, in other words perhaps 300 metres.
When I reached the lower edge on the front, I decided that size chart or not, it really wasn't long enough for Finn who takes after his dad in height. His father is 6'5" and I think Finn will be much the same. So I decreased a few stitches and did the rib for extra length. Then I had to pick up stitches on the back for the same.

The pocket was done by picking up some more stitches and joining to vest by knitting two together on the straight edges. A bit of sock wool blanket stitch and voilà - a vest. If it does not fit well I'll make note of adjustments and do another. If he doesn't like it, then I can always give it away.

I have little spare money so don't look at eBay often. Saves temptation. However, I really wanted some Cleckheaton 12 ply in a discontinued colour so had a look last week. I found some and made a bid. Also found some more Patonyle sock wool, a discontinued line in the 50 gm balls. I bid on that too.

On Friday I had won both. I was strict with myself and had set a limit beyond which I would not go. Not the top as far as I could afford, but the limit I allowed myself. Both came in well under my limit. Seven balls of Patonyle for under $20 and the Cleckheaton was well under $30 for an unopened pack of ten 50 gm balls. I paid on the spot, so they should be here tomorrow or Tuesday.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

busy, busy

It's been busy here and there has been some knitting, but nothing worth photographing. A trip to the frogpond for a warm shawl I was knitting but didn't like the look of. Another hat with cable band is almost finished for Lynne's textured knits. I'm part way up the second of the Rose's wristwarmers, another textured knit, and also part way up a vest for youngest grandchild, who's three. That's somewhat experimental. I'm sort of winging it with the pattern although I did sit down and work out some maths with the tension and a size chart. It's knitted from the bottom of the back up and over the head and down the other side. I'll report progress if there is any.

That sounds like a lot and I often limit myself to three projects with differing wool weights and needle sizes. It keeps me from getting bored. I frogged the start of a pair of socks in Patonyle when I realised that they aren't needed till August as a present and not last Saturday as I thought. Just as well too. I'd have been sleep knitting to get a pair finished particularly as the recipient has very thick ankles and I would have needed a lot more stitches than I normally use.

I spent three days last week babysitting various grandchildren and was away from home two nights in different locations. I imagine I would work a system if the young ones were mine. However, they don't see me very often and my knitting was constantly interrupted with cries of, "Watch me, Grandma." What else could I do? Or. "listen to me read, Grandma." As a reader that was one I could not resist.

Sunday was the memorial picnic for Mum. At almost the last minute, we switched the venue from Pearl Beach to Fagans PArk at Galston. we hired a large covered area and just as well to. Sunday had quite a few very heavy squalls of rain and it was standing room only under the shelter. Mum's site was there, the last of teh three. She really did not seem to know what was happening. A lot of family friends came and cousins I haven't seen in thirty years. Thier children are contemporaries of mine but I had never met them, although Mum kept in touch and used to see them at their beach huse right on teh beach at Bluey's Beach south of Forster.

As a family gathering, it was good. As the alternative to a funeral I thought it missed out. I wouldn't have minded it if there had even been a brief ceremony closer to Mums death and then the picnic. However, my brother and sister were satisfied and happy with it. I didn't take any knitting. I took a camera and forgot to take any photos. Knitting would have been awkward with so many people and their food and belongings.

For any Sydneysiders with children, the park is good value. It's on Arcadia Road at Galston, entrance is $4. It's well cared for, large with good facilities. Lots of innovative play equipment, tables, open space and clean BBQs. If the weather had been better, I would have walked around a bit. The Council website shows several areas of interest there.

Monday, 6 April 2009

a rose by any other name...

... would smell as sweet. In other words, Liesl Take 2, with two very bad photos to show for it. Taken in one of the upstairs bathrooms because of the mirror there. Big and just cleaned by me. However, there's a strong light through shower recess open window at one end and a dark door and shadows to part of the upstairs hall at the other. Not a good combination for photos and I am not good at getting photos using the mirror.. However, son and DIL were out till this evening.

I don't normally wear this or related colours myself although I like them. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I didn't quite look like death warmed up wearing this colour.

It's made from Jet which I like using and the buttons are flowers with yellowy-green centres which go well with the colour of the Jet. I bought them at Greta's at Lindfield. I used just under nine 50 gm balls. I'd bought a pack of ten balls from a Morris and Sons sale and picked up another couple of balls elsewhere, thinking I might need them. I think I'll make some beanies for Victorian fire victims with the leftovers.
Despite what photos seem to show, the cardigan does fit me and do up and hang well. I usually have no problems with wool or alpaca at all on my skin and frequently wear woollen jumpers with no shirt underneath. However yesterday I spent quite a few hours in the garden. I clipped the overhanging plants along the highway and down the side street footpath. I attacked the cotoneaster which overhung a large part of the driveway. I ripped out a lot of fishbone fern which was growing in the cracks in one of the sandstone retaining walls and also up beside steps from drive to front yard. That gave me lots of scratches and bruised my fingers. I trimmed all the scorched bits out of several shrubs which had almost died in those heatwave days when the Victorian fires were bad. Then I cut all that up into the green waste bin as much of it was not suitable for compost. Son and I cut down a couple of large branches which had sagged badly in the rain and were causing problems for people walking on the footpath. Some bits were actually rubbing on cars on inside lane of the highway. Then he mowed all the lawn which took him over two hours, this is a large uneven block.

Now I also have psoriasis which is not usually bad and I can usually control it However, in autumn and spring and at times of stress it flares. Put all of this together and I itched and scratched all night. I should have got up and found some anti-histamine tablet but it's been so long since things were this bad that I didn'teven think about it. So when I put on the cardigan there was instant irritation and I pulled it back as much as possible from my skin.

I could not face more feather and fan stitch at the moment. I worked out the increases and did a stocking stitch yolk, then found a four row stitch pattern which fitted into the stitch count. It's called peacock tails or fans or plumes. Can't remember the details.

This cardigan is a quick knit and no seaming at the end is wonderful. This time I remembered to do the sleeves first, so I did not have a great lump of knitting to manoeuvre as with the pink model I did earlier. Another adaptation to the original pattern was a couple of rows of garter stitch around the bottom and I cast off on a wrongside row so it does not show.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

rose's wristwarmers

Lynne decided it might be good to experiment with texture this winter. After all, many of us seriously increased our knowledge of lace after a long lacy summer so another challenge is good.

I'd been wondering for a while what to do and was idly spending time on Ravelry the other day, (as you do) when I found this pattern for wristwarmers. They are called Rose's wristwarmers from Rose in the Dr Who series. Just perfect. Ribbing, cables, moss stitch, cross over diamonds - what more could I need. Certainly not much more would fit in a wristwarmer pattern. I'd give a link but the pattern is available only on Ravelry and is easy to find if you are a member there.

The wool is Boutique from Bendigo. Colour lilac. The link gives a small colour picture which you can enlarge. It's much more accurate there than here. It really is lilac. I made wristwarmers last year from this and had trouble with the colour then too. Obviously, my camera does not work well with lilac. The wool is mixture of merino, Bluefaced Leicester and some mohair and is an 8 ply. DK to those outside Australia.

Now I'd normally knit 8 ply on 4 mm needles. The pattern wanted a really stiff material so 3.5 mm were used. I found it hard going at times, it really was very stiff. The two columns of cables, one each side, were crossed every third row, so that was tight because of the actual cable too. However, I do like the barber pole effect of the cable. I was trying to show both cables and the diamond and moss stitch in them so it's not really flat on my desk.

The thumb is made from a neat little gusset which leaves stitches on spare wool and these are then used and just a few more to make the thumb as long as needed. I did the thumb here for six rounds and then cast off. It's a neat job.

I have other knitting going, as usual, so will do the second one next week.