Saturday, 27 February 2010

saturday camera show and tell

There's not much point in showing pictures of more of the same.  I've now finished 4/15 of the repeats of Chart B in the Brandywine shawl.  I'm happy with it.  It's not difficult as the centre triangle increases every two rows and the outer border of lace remains the same.  It really just requires some concentration and counting.  I've also started some grapevine socks from More Sensational Knitted Socks.  I'm using some sock wool from Needlefood in New Zealand.  I'd forgotten how pleasant it is to use.

So I'm out and about this Saturday morning.  It's so far very pleasant, neither too hot nor too humid yet.  I took some photos of DIL's warrior in the backyard, made from discarded tractor parts.  However the light was so intense that not much detail could be seen.  I'll try for more this afternoon.

So I live in a small country town?  No, I'm in the inner west of Sydney.  This shady path is on our side of the road and leads like this to within approximately 100 metres of Stanmore Station which is 7-8 minutes away in a comfortable stroll.  It's lovely to stroll along and imagine myself elsewhere, although I'm very happy to be back in this area.  I've lived in the innerwest for many years now, except the last couple, although I've never lived as close to the city as this is.

The path is pleasant, the other side of the road is paved.  I do need to watch one section where there seems to be a broken drain from the trainline.  With the rain we've had, there's one section which can be quite boggy.

This is taken by turning around and taking the view behind me.

Our place is not far down the path, just past where the fence starts.  There are lots of trees around here and many shrubs.  When I lived  at Killara, there were trees everywhere, one of the more pleasing aspects of the area.  Before that my former home had a leafy outlook.  I was concerned about lack of greenery here but I need not have worried.  There are bushes just outside my room and while there is also the trainline, much of that is camouflaged  with greenery.  Our street has trees on both sides and fortunately they have not needed butchering to accommodate the electricity lines.

From the third floor balcony, I have a good view, up the north shore to Chatswood and can see lots of greenery dotted here and there and many old warehouses.  I can also see much of the city and its skyline.

This tree is in our front yard, but not for much longer.  The yard is very small and has a large drain running through it down the hill.  Each house in the terrace has an inspection grate to the drain. The tree is far too big to let it remain near the drain.

We are not sure what this tree is but suspect it's related to the camphor laurel family, a nasty tree in a suburban block, quite unsuitable for living here.  It has grown about 1.5 metres in the rain in the few weeks we have been here.  A horticulturist could not rapidly identify it but suggested taking it out as unsuitable for the setting. Front screen door and small sunroom area can be seen.  It's still full of book boxes as we haven't decided on sites for all teh shelving yet.

Not even the birds eat the mustard yellow berries on it.  I think that's a bad sign too, as they scrounge everything they can possibly find around here.  The berries are totally untouched.

The windows behind the top of the tree are the middle floor of the three storeys we have above ground here.  For a newish building, about ten years old, we have quite high ceilings and are not cramped at all.  That's important when I mention DIL is 6' tall and son is 6'5".    They don't like feeling as if the sky is falling down!

Last photo for now.  More of this tree.  Almost all of the top growth standing out above the rest of the tree has happened in the last six weeks.

Second floor windows can be seen and above them is the front wall of the quite large  private terrace opening from the third floor.  We often eat up there at night.  The end house in the row has replaced this wall with heavy glass and that's an option which DIL is considering favourably.  As it is, we can see an expansive view, but only if we are standing at the wall.  New Year's Eve fireworks are quite good from here.

There are nine houses in the row.  Ours was marketed as a town house, but really the row is a modern take on the nineteenth century terrace row, and fits in well with the old terraces around.  Town house in Sydney usually means strata title and strata levies, committees and all that entails.  These places are Torrens Tittle which means each owner has full title to the land and building.  We could paint the place something quite different to current colours, although we probably wouldn't.  The row is very well built and solid.  We hear absolutely no noise or music from any neighbours unless they are talking in the backyard. Fittings are good and taps etc were expensive, not the rubbish often seen in such developments.

This area was first gazetted in the 1890s and was called the Kingston Estate after one of the roads here.  Blocks were 4 metres wide and the end in a section was 4.5 metres and was usually a corner shop.  On my walks around, I can see how many of these shops, opening to the footpath have been renovated and turned into comfortable houses.

Just have  a look at the colour of the sky!  Very blue indeed and typical Sydney summer sky.

There are units at the end of this block which face to the street down the road.  We share the gated underground car park with them, although each place in our row has an individual, walled double garage with security door.  It's the fourth floor of the house, or the first from the bottom up!

Thursday, 25 February 2010

brandywine begun

Well, any of you who thought I could not resist the thought of another shawl for my next project were right.  I've been sitting knitting Chart A of Brandywine, details in post below.

I mean,  I do have a very boring 8 ply scarf to finish which I drag out as a last resort and I have about half a lacy scarf with bottom border from Victorian Lace Today and the body of a stitch dictionary stitch.  They'll keep, both of them.

As I was knitting I was remembering the Brandywine River  and more from  Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.  It's been a pleasant time thinking over the books which I have enjoyed for very many years.

This is the first 56 rows, Chart A.  I don't quite know what happened to the colour here.  The centre stitch markers are definitely blue Clover markers.  But the whole thing is resting on my very white sheet.  Not that you'd know from the photo.  I'm putting it down to a lot of late afternoon sun in my room and a fairly strong grass green yarn.  This yarn was won in a blog comment contest late last year and came from Marguerite at Stitches of Violet.  She lives in Michigan along with metres of snow this winter.  The yarn is sock wool from Slackford Studio LLC, Stalwart Sock Meadow.  It's 75% wool and 25% nylon, 423 metres.

Just realised I hadn't put in some detail of the pattern.  It's patterned on both right and wrong sides.  I hadn't noticed and was sailing blissfully along the back row when something caught my eye.  Yarnovers?  Knit 2 together?  Definitely.  Nothing difficult but I have to watch I do these.

I'm excited.  My computer, an eMac is quite old.  It wasn't new when I was given it and I've had it 5 years.  Son thinks it's 9 years old.  Quite geriatric for a computer!  It's never given a moment's trouble but is beginning to show its age and  the hard drive makes weird noises of protest sometimes.  I'd never go back to a PC despite having used PCs of various makes for 30 years.  I just missed out yesterday on a Mac mini set up as a server.  Top of the range, very powerful and loads of legal software.  Still it was more than I really need.  Son emailed me with a super special from the Apple online store so I hurried over and bought one.  Free delivery in the next few days.  Son is arranging for a screen for it.  Next month when the bank balance recovers somewhat, I'll buy a new keyboard.  This one is sticky and is the old white Mac one, well known for getting very grubby very quickly.  The mini is mini indeed - 6"square by 2" deep.  So with the shawl, I'll have something to do while waiting.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

brandywine shawl

I was looking through the latest patterns on Ravelry, partly because I could not face trawling through almost  a hundred free shawl patterns, let alone almost 400 pages of shawl patterns and partly because I was killing a few minutes before dinner.

I found the Brandywine Shawl by Rosemary Hill.  It's very pretty, although I'm not sure whether I want to start at the pointy end and work up.

What swung me to buy it was the promise to donate $5 of the proceeds of every purchase of $6.50 to médecins sans frontières or Doctors without Borders for their work in Haiti.  As of 19/2, she details sending $3500.  All US dollars quoted here.  How tremendous.  So I bought an instant download.  I may or may not make it, but I have the choice and my small donation through the designer will add to what she has already sent.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

ivy vines cowl finished

One cowl finished and wet.  Because it's still quite wet, it shows darker than it really is.  It's Bendigo Luxury 4 ply, called 'bracken" and more olive green than shows here.

It's a present for DIL, along with some earrings bought at the National Library shop in Canberra.  Her birthday is not till March 7, so it's plenty of time  in advance.  I need to remember to buy paper for this.  I used to have a stock but it's sadly depleted.  And I need to remember the paper in good time too, not be running around on the day of giving her the gift, still looking for paper.

I quite like this, but if I did another, I think I'd make it all in the lower pattern which I prefer to to the top lace.  I had several goes getting this right.  I started in a different colour, then remembered I have given her something in that colour.  Made a mistake on another attempt a few rows in and ripped it out.  Decided it would fit around the neck of Elijah the elephant on 4 mm needles so ripped that out too.  Finally settled on the green and used 3.5 mm needles.

So I had a few gripes.  The pattern is very pretty but if I had not seen it in a light blue gray on another blog, I would not have been attracted by the main photo on the pattern as detail could not be seen.  the pattern cost US$6 and I would prefer to pay that for pretty well any of Evelyn Clark's pretty designs, with well written patterns.

To begin with, no fewer than twelve yarns are mentioned on the pattern.  I could have looked them up on something like Yarndex but the variety threw me off.  Some were called DK, some called sport, some called 4 ply.  To me those names show a significant difference in weight.  In the end, I took a punt and decided on the 4 ply Bendigo Luxury which I had.

I always read through a pattern before I start.  I've had a few nasty surprises by not doing this.  I found several references to a "hem."  Eventually I decided to do what I first did when knitting socks and that was to follow regardless.  Surprisingly "hem" refers to the lower pattern.  I've never seen that use before and I've done a lot of both sewing and knitting.  Even in knitting it refers to a folded edge, caught down one way or another.  So this entire lower lace is a hem.  Why not call it something like "lower edge pattern"?

The chart for this first pattern is on last page of four pages.  Looking at the layout, it seems it would fit on same page as the written instructions.  The instructions are not the same.  Chart instruction  for Row 10  where marker has to be moved says, "slip one stitch left without unknitting."  Legend for chart says for same row, "remove marker, unknit last stitch and move."  ???

So, it's pretty and another piece of lacy summer knitting.  It's a gift I think she'll like and will wear, certainly her colour.  I've had much better value with patterns from at least three other designers recently.  However I wasn't really happy with paying US$6 for a fairly sloppy pattern write up.  If you really want the link, it's in the post below this.

Monday, 22 February 2010

blackberries and ivy vines

The heat has brought out more blackberries growing on the wall at the end of our yard.  Well, red blackberries, possibly also described as green.   Certainly unripe as yet and green just as raw prawns are called green.

However, in the heat we have today, mid-30° before mid-morning and hotter this afternoon, it won't be long till they are ripe and black.  They won't last long with birds around.  The rain Sydney has had over the last few weeks has triggered a major spurt in growth of the blackberry canes.  There wasn't any fruit before, green, red or black, LOL, but we are now seeing  some appear.

To me it's late for blackberries to be starting.  We used to go blackberrying on land at Wollombi, setting aside the last weekend in January to do this.  Then again, Wollombi in the Hunter valley is generally hotter than Sydney, not that I'd want it hotter than we've had.

I'd cook bucketloads into homemade jam on the fuel stove we used there.  Just delicious.  Homemade jam of any flavour tastes just so much better than commercial stuff, often oversweetened.  The aroma through the house is wonderful too.

Along the theme of vines.  No photos yet as it isn't finished and will need blocking to open the lace, but I'm working on an Ivy Vines cowl as a present for the birthday of one DIL in early March.  It's a bit hard to see the main photo in that link, a pet peeve of mine, but scroll down past the writing and others are clearer.  I saw one someone else had made.  The photo on this site would not have caught my eye.  Easy pattern but I have some gripes with the pattern.  More later when I have done another two repeats of the second pattern and blocked it.

Update:  I just checked Ailsa's blog and her second yarn club is now open.  I've already joined for this one too.

Friday, 19 February 2010

bollywood blocked

This is a close up of the detail of the lace.  It's very pretty and the crochet edging is delicate in the fine yarn.  The capelet was done on 3.5 mm KP  needles which were bought when they were originally sold as KnitPicks.

I think I would have liked the capelet slightly bigger and I had planned on an extra pattern repeat.  When the time came, I chickened out.  I just wasn't sure about doing the extra repeat and casting off 264 stitches with the amount I had left.  I think I would have managed, but didn't want to have to frog back and pick up lots of stitches again.  I'd already done that once when I made mistakes when I was sick.
The colour here is fairly accurate although it's hard to see the subtle variation Ailsa has achieved in the shades when she dyed the yarn.  I'm very happy with these colours and think they are great.

Every time I pressed the button on the camera, a puff of sea breeze swung the hanger around.  I discarded about six shots, totally out of focus as they moved so much.  At least I tucked in the beginning and tail threads which still need to be woven in.

This is light and comfortable.  I'm looking forward to wearing it.  Mumbai premieres of Bollywood films perhaps??  LOL.

The bricks at the back are part of the brickwork of the railway line.  The wall is close to vertical and made of very old bricks.  It's about 10 metres high and there are blackberry fronds hanging down from the top.  Yesterday I could see a few bunches of blackberries.  Today they have gone, snaffled probably by a bird.  The railways have sprayed the blackberries but blackberries need several sprays and then a burn to have any chance of eradicating them.  There are lots of dead fronds and we have some green fronds shooting from the ground at the base of the wall.

Last one, this time with the sun behind me.  I'll do the ends tonight.  I haven't yet decided what to do with the lovely Mumbai Skies colour laceweight which was the last instalment of the Indian Summer Yarn club.  I think I'll let this one stay tucked away in my mind till the right project and recipient is obvious.  I've enjoyed the three quite different yarns and colours of this club and would happily do it all again.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

thursday medley

I finished the Bollywood capelet a couple of nights ago but haven't photographed it till this morning.  As can be seen, it's still in dire need of being blocked.  I've been at another son's so may do the blocking tomorrow if the weather holds fine.  I really don't want damp stuff hanging around in my room although I get good ventilation.

This and the other pictures in this post are not as clear as I would like.  I hope my camera is OK as I can't really afford to do much about it.  I've had it quite a while now.

It's a bit difficult to see with the cape unblocked but I cast off by putting a lacy edging around the bottom.  Crochet 3 and slip stitch the next two stitches from needle.  I can crochet and I like the result which will look much better blocked, but I don't crochet much and found this awkward.  I think because the circular with 264 stitches was held on same side as I needed the yarn to crochet.  A bit clumsy on my part. In fact, three times I moved the knitting needle suddenly and found I'd pulled it out of about a dozen stitches.

The colour is beautiful, shades of deep purple, just my colours. Ailsa has done a wonderful job on this beautiful yarn.  It's a delight to work with, 50/50 merino and silk. It knits up very evenly and flows gently through the fingers.

As I said, I'm disappointeed with photos today.  Nothing shows really well here.  This is the laceweight from Ailsa, over 900 metres.  It's the last instalment of the Indian summer Yarn Club, a venture I've been very happy with. I'm not entirely sure about what this will be but I'm thinking a soft lacy cowl for one of my DILs.  Ailsa had a great one printed in Yarn magazine.  The shaping is achieved with a change in needle size so the lacy pattern is not affected. This colour is called Mumbai Summer and the yarn came in the calico drawstring bag with imprint of Ailsa's store and some knitabulous post-it notes.  Great ideas both of them.  I'll find them useful and what good advertising too.

Kate, the Knightly Knitter made a beautiful Andean bag for Ms Cindy2paw.  I asked about the book and went searching.  The Book Depository had this for about $15, free postage.  I'm about to make myself a sandwich for lunch and will sit and enjoy this.  History, geography, lovely patterns, all in beautiful Andean colours.  A treat.  I've not done much colour work, so may start with something easy and use up some scraps while I practise.

Here's a typical page from the book.  There are lots of wonderful bag patterns in the book and this is just one of them.  Hints on making authentic looking tassels, charts for llama, guard dogs, tree and the like.  Big bags, small change purses, chullo hats in beautiful colours.

Lots of treats brought home from the post office box for me today.  Yarn and carry bag, books, next edition of  Delicious, the ABC's lovely monthly food magazine, great pictures.  Also a letter from Centrelink which turned out to be just a statement of the pitiful amount the government allows me.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

shantaram socks

Voilà!  Shantaram finally finished.  It's been two months since this yarn was taken from the PO box, but there's been a lot happening in that time.  Moving, unpacking, settling in, heat, Christmas, grandkids staying over, disgusting colds.  Actual knitting time has not been very long really, but they are now finished.

I like the pattern and they feel good on.  Made with the first instalment of the Indian Summer Yarn Club yarn from Ailsa at Knitabulous.

I was concerned at first with the number of stitches but Ailsa assured me she thought things would be fine.  These use seventy-two stitches and I normally cast on sixty, sixty-four at the most for me.  The pattern is on the front only.  The back is ribbed in 2x2 rib basically.  This pulls them in somewhat.  They still feel loose to me, but I'm sure they'll be fine on.

The pattern is quick and easy to remember.  Eight rows only and every second row is basically plain.

This is a picture of one of the twists which run down each side of the centre pattern  It is a bit dark here.  I've been home by myself all day and it's been a perfect day for knitting.  Lovely rain, much needed.  It was heavy here last night and it has pretty well rained all day today.  There have been a few times when it wasn't even spitting, but not many, and there have been a few downpours.  It's now early evening and the light is not fantastic for taking photos.

I decided when I joined the yarn club that i would knit the patterns supplied, as they were written.  I modify many patterns just as we modify most recipes around here.

However, these were knit as the pattern said, apart from the time when somehow I managed to swallow the two purl stitches on one side before the centre pattern!  That was somewhat costly in time to fix. I needed to go back three repeats, twenty-four rows.  Ouch! I have no idea how I managed to do that, except to say I was knitting about 3:00 am one morning when I could not sleep.

Doing things like this and making a heel flap reassured me why I do short row heels.  The fit is somewhat loose over my instep.  I like doing heel flaps and love the neat pickup I can now do along the flap.  I love making the line of decreases down the gusset.  All good, except they do not suit my feet.  One of the sock knitting big lists often has people complaining about difficulty getting a sock over a high instep.

The remedy suggested?  Lengthen the heel flap.  Now I have very flat feet. If my foot is wet, it will make an imprint of the whole foot on the bathroom floor.  Left foot that is.  The right is almost as bad.  They've been like that all my life. Short row heels are much shallower than the  other method.  I find them quicker to do than a flap and gusset and the fit is much better for me.  However, as I said, I had decided to follow the pattern exactly.  Next time I'll check the pattern and how to make any issues like the side twists fit properly and will do a short row heel.  This goes for any sock pattern.

This small, loosely wound ball is all that is left from the 100 gram ball I started with.  It's just under 2 centimetres in diameter and is quite loosely woven.  Just squeaked in!

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

getting going again

Thanks for the encouragement.  My head is clearing, although my nose is still like a tap needing a new washer.  Summer colds are the pits and this one hit suddenly and hard.

This little pair of socks is for a little girl in Canberra.  I'll post them tomorrow, long with something for her mum and possibly some chocolate too if I can find any good stuff near the post office.

This sock wool goes on and on and on.  It's Heirloom Jigsaw and this pair was made with the leftovers after making a pair two years ago for one of my granddaughters.  It's pink, in your face pink, raspberry icecream pink.  It's not a colour I'd willingly choose again, but there is still enough left for a pair of baby socks or perhaps bootees.  I remembered from granddaughter's socks that the wool does not look good with a lacy pattern.  I undid my first attempt for her.  So these are plain except for the scalloped top edge.  It was fairly easy to match the stripes.  Actually, I really don't care for myself whether the socks match or not, but the stripe is so definite that this pair needed to match. These stripes do match.

Finally some proof, although the photo is dark of that Shantaram socks really do exist.  This is from Ailsa's first delivery of yarn in her Indian Summer yarn club.  I've been very happy with this, even though the colour is not something I'd normally consider.  I'm even happier with the lovely 50/50 merino/silk mix.  The second sock here is part way through the heelflap.  I did eight repeats of the pattern down the leg but only seven on the foot, so there's not too much further to go.  My head is now clear enough, I hope, to return to the Bollywood capelet in the 50/50.  I've seen a couple finished and am looking forward to finishing mine.

A friend is busy clearing out a lot of stuff from his house in preparation for painting and new carpet.  He called unexpectedly today with some stuff that had been his mother's.  She died about twelve years ago!  I did not know but she'd been a dressmaker, working from home.  There was a big bag of vintage buttons.  This picture shows just some of them.  The buttons in the top right of the picture were in an envelope marked "very small buttons."  Indeed they are.  Some of them are about a third of a centimetre in diameter, perhaps smaller.  They are tiny like tiny periwinkle shells on the beach.

It's a bit hard to see but there are some lovely pearly buttons in the centre of the plate.  Some of the buttons are strung on sewing cotton and I remembered  that when I was small, neither my mother nor my grandmother ever threw out clothing for rags unless the buttons had been cut off and threaded on sewing cotton.

Some more of the buttons.  the small container in the middle has some lovely glass buttons, although details are hard to see here.  To the left of them are some metal buttons and there are two largish bags.  One has dozens of small shirt buttons in it and the other has old fashioned trouser buttons, again dozens.

I certainly travelled back in time when I saw these. Some of them I can picture on my mother's dresses when I was small.  I also remembered how much I enjoyed going through grandma's button jar on a rainy day.  She could tell me where nearly every button had come from.  Then I remembered another rainy day pastime, often in the school holidays.  Mum would allow me (!!) to get out the Silvo and I would shine all the cutlery, the sandwich trays, fruit bowls, cake stands  and whatever else I could find to polish.  Then all would be washed in hot soapy water and dried.  I don't think I ever realised that my enjoyable task was one my mother hated doing herself.

Finally, a picture of the plate the buttons were on.  I don't know how old it is, but it's much older than the buttons.  I'd say possibly late 19th century, perhaps 1880s.  It was always on grandma's dressing table, holding bobby pins etc. and was old then.  It's not any great quality, has no brand on the back and is fairly rough on the reverse with some unglazed areas.  However, I like the lily of the valley design.  Since we moved, I've unpacked most of my own linen and some keepsakes like this.  They make the place comfortable and more familiar.  We're all happy here, enjoying the area and its closeness to attractions, shops and transport.  We also very much enjoy the open plan ground floor with lounge, kitchen and dining all opening together.