Friday, 26 June 2009

shawl pin in use

After Bells' enquiry yesterday about the shawl pins, I decided to take photos early this morning. Heavily cropped to prevent cold germs infecting all of you. Actually to spare you seeing my bleary, teary eyes and puffy face. I feel better, but still look pretty blah and cough at night when the temperature drops. It's a chilly morning here but the sun is streaming in the northern window in my bedroom corner window and I'm warmly dressed. I just checked the so-called weather station I gave my son. Outside temperature is at nearly noon is 11° and inside has dropped 3° since the timer on the central heater switched it off earlier this morning. House is now 16 ° inside.

I weighed the pins last night on DIL's new Tupperware digital scales. Her old scales work quite well for dividing skeins of wool, but the digital are great for small amounts. The thistle pin weighs 18 gm and the frog 24 gm. They both feel quite sturdy.
The pins do not feel too heavy on the light, soft shawl. They don't drag it down but they are perhaps just a bit longer than I would really like. I still like them a lot but would take off probably 2 cms if it were possible.

The spiral thread on the shaft of the pin grips the fabric well. While I was attempting to take a photo of the frog pin, I had a coughing fit. I think that while that was unplanned and unwanted, it was a good test of the stability of the pin. It did not move or even attempt to fall out and I ws coughing fairly violently. I'm sure the thistle would have been the same, as the width of the frog would make it more unstable. So thumbs up to both pins.

This post has been brought to you with the kind assistance of Sweetpea the Abysssinian. It's taken me a long time to get it ready. She's missing DIL greatly. She's been on my desk in the sun all morning, but suddenly decided she just had to be close. All over the keyboard and purring against my arm. She's even attempted to get on my lap under the desk. Unfortunately, her typing is even worse than mine and she can't spell. I of course can spell, I just make typos.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

shawl pins

I've just checked my mailbox and my two shawl pins from the USA had arrived. I was beginning to get a bit worried because it was eight days since I thought they had been posted and postmark verified this. Parcels from the UK take four days to reach here. They were very securely packed and I'm pleased with them. I had worried they may not have a strong shaft. However, both are quite sturdy. These were $5 US each and with postage, I have spent $18 AUS. Good value. I'm pleased with them. There are quite a few designs by the seller and it was hard to choose.
I'm going to this year's Greek Drama Day on 3rd July at Macquarie University. I'm planning on wearing my new red Ishbel shown below and I'll wear the frog pin. There's almost always an excerpt performed from Aristophanes' The Frogs. Quite appropriate I think.

I did start the Ishbel beret from the Whimsical Knits collection. I'm almost down to the crown decreases. It's been a fun, easy project. It's been really quite warm for this time of the year but I've been staying inside. On Sunday a very heavy head cold arrived in full force. If I do venture out, I cough. I feel a bit better today, but have a way to go. I'm now alone here as landlord has returned to NZ. I hope son and DIL did not have the seeds of this cold when they left.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

ishbel II

Ishbel the second. Done in Bendigo's luxury merino in a colour called "sunrise." Perhaps "in the face red" or "fire engine red" would have been a better name. It's not a colour I wear very often at all but I love it. What's more, there's enough for the Ishbel beret too, although I have not really decided if I'll make that. This wool is easy to knit and feels beautiful, very soft. The shawl did not take long and I enjoyed it. I really like the particular cast off. Purl 2 together (it was a purl row) and put the resulting stitch back in the left needle. Purl 2 together and put the stitch back on left needle and so on. It is very elastic and helped the points in blocking. It did take a long time with almost 400 stitches.

The edges of the shawl are not as wavy as they may seem. I pulled them around a bit in an effort to give the wire model a bit of dignity! I've never seen real boobs any where remotely like the ones on the model.

I'm looking forward to some time to devote to knitting and to being able to leave it where I want. I usually try to tidy stuff up and not leave it downstairs all over the place. Yesterday, at the unearthly hour of 4:00 am, my son and DIL left for three weeks in Europe. They had to be at the airport at 5:00 am. He's doing some videoing and sound and producing a documentary for a choir while they travel, mostly through Germany, although they have three days in Paris. While they have both travelled fairly extensively, England is the closest they have come to the continent. USA several times, many times to Sri Lanka where they also own land, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and large parts of Africa and more of Asia. But not the continent. She's going as his assistant. All his expenses were paid, meals, travel and accommodation. They'll be away till mid -July and I'll be by myself after the owner here flies back to NZ on Tuesday. They have two days in Seoul to begin, then Paris and then Germany.

So I'll be here by myself with little Sweetpea who is missing DIL quite badly. However, last winter she used to sleep on my bed a lot during the day. She's rediscovered it again today, possibly because I've been in here most of the day.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

cairn hat, knitting history

Some more textured knitting for Lynne's textured winter KAL. This is the Cairn hat from Ysolda Teague'sWhimsical Collection. DIL and I have been through all the cupboards to find a suitable bowl for blocking it. Nothing quite the right shape or size. I think I will have to try her solution of an inflated balloon. First however, I'll have to prise it from DIL's head. It's just past noon here and the temperature has just scraped 6°. Windchill takes it down further. Still it's warmer than Katoomba where the windchill takes the current temperature down to -8 °. DIL loves hats and has an enormous collection, weird and wonderful, race day hats, polar fleece SpongeBob Squarepants, jester hats. You name it, she has it and pretty well all of them suit her. This one was intended for me but it's really a bit sloppy on my head, while it fits her perfectly. Lucky girl. The purple is Bendigo mystique and the black is Bendigo alpaca, both from the stash. There is a pattern for wristwarmers as well in this stitch but I don't think I have enough of the purple/deep mauve to do them. The stitch is easy, just a slip stitch which is carried up several rows. The honeycomb is achieved purely with the pull on the row above and beneath by the slip stitch. Hat in the photo is sitting on a large ball of Bendigo cotton in rose pink with a smaller ball on top. The pink is destined for a ballet cardigan with short sleeves for the next granddaughter down. I also bought some cotton in deep mauve for the smallest granddaughter who loves such colours. Along with those came a ball of 4 ply luxury Bendigo in a beautiful flame colour for a second Ishbel shawl for me.

About a month ago, a close friend gave me a big bag of oldish circular needles which had belonged to his mum who died about eight years ago. I've only just looked at them. He told me to be fussy about them and some will will be tossed. I really love my Knitpicks options and many of these older needles have cables much stiffer than I'm used to. I'll go through them carefully but think a lot will go. I was about to throw the bag when I saw something in the bottom of it.

At first I thought it was just a piece of scrap but pulled it out and looked. It was this cardboard "knitting register" as it is announced on it. It has come from an English magazine, so perhaps there were giveaways even thirty or forty years or more ago.

The first two columns are for counting rows and the count goes to fifty. At the bottom of each column the silver piece slides up and down and the instructions suggest placing it just beneath the row it is counting. The third column is for counting increases or decreases, while the fourth column is to keep track of the number of times a row or pattern repeat is done. Over on the back are instructions and the names of several English magazines. Down the side, the holes are a needle gauge complete with the illogical old numbering system where the larger the needle was, the lower the number it was given. I wonder just how accurate the cardboard was as a size gauge? I can see that one hole has been ripped to the edge of the cardboard. Perhaps that was a popular size used by this knitter.

I've already been given some wool from her collection and have used some of it. There was some very old Patons mohair from the 60s and lots of the early 12 ply, the forerunner of Jet. I emailed Patons re info on these wools a couple of years ago, as I could not find anything anywhere.

I enjoy reading history and I love the sense of being connected with people from the past. I was thrilled to get this old gauge and to see how well used it was. I also have another old needle gauge in metal, in the shape of a bell. I think it was made by Anchor, but don't have it handy to check. It was another serendipitous find at the bottom of a bag of knitting stuff from a large Salvation Army op shop. I like to think of using these old objects and wonder at their story. Knitters today are part of a long tradition. While knitted clothes and other warm goods are much more readily available than they would have been years ago and we perhaps are not forced to knit to be warmly dressed, there is still a tradition that we are part of. The gauge and the bell are just part of this .

Monday, 8 June 2009

exterminate! exterminate! or, do penguins climb trees?

Finished these just in time for DIL's birthday tomorrow. I started them some time ago, but had put them aside for other things and suddenly, her birthday was upon me. I was out alone at # 2 son's place for most of this long weekend. Not babysitting this time, but animal minding. Four fish, two birds, one cat and one dog. He and his family were away all weekend, as were neighbours and close friends. Could I please mind the place and feed the menagerie? I lit the fire there and knitted as I wanted, so was able to catch up and finish these wristwarmers. As far as I know, the pattern can be found only on Ravelry. They are called Rose's wristwarmers from Dr Who. Hence, "Exterminate!" They weren't difficult, just time consuming. There were two cables in every row and the side cables, like barber poles, were done every third row.

I've had trouble in the past getting this colour right, no matter what I used as a backdrop. It usually comes out very washed out, even a dingy grey. It's really a pale mauve, but certainly has enough colour in it to see that it is mauve. I think the mauve shows reasonably well against the green background of the tree. The other picture is taken in our deciduous and now bare crepe myrtle which has beautiful bark. As can be seen, they should be warm. They come well up my arms, and the gusset for the thumbs makes the thumb opening quite comfortable. She and my son are going to Europe in a couple of weeks. It's warm there, so she will probably appreciate them on her return. They'll be away a few weeks and I'll be left holding the fort here. It will be quiet, although I am sure the cat will let me know she misses DIL.

A few posts down, I showed quite a lot of Burundi bears knitted for charity. I've done a few more since that post. I discovered that St John would rather have black and white penguins as their comfort for small children. These three are the strat of the penguin rookery from here. My friend will pass the bears on and I'll do some more of these.. I did email Cleckheaton about an out of print book with a penguin pattern and they have promised to post me a photocopy of just the penguin pattern. I'm grateful for that and will make some from that. These are all about 5-6" in height, which was what was requested. It's strange just how much they vary when the same yarn and pattern is used. I think how I feel and what I am watching or listening to affects my tension and therefore the finished size. The actual knitting is very quick. Sewing together and stuffing takes longer.

I've done these in that dreadful yarn which many of us shudder at if mentioned. It's not what I would ever willingly use, but it works well for these. Hwever the artificial feel of it hurts my skin and the actual yarn makes my fingers ache so I don't do too much at a time.

I'm not sure if penguins climb trees, but these three seem quite at home in the crepe myrtle, enjoying the rather chilly wind outside.

So wristwarmers and penguins give me a good start for this month of June on the Textured Knitting KAL at Lynne's blog. The penguins are all garter stitch and the wristwarmers have cables, purl knitting, diamonds and moss stitch. Lots there.