Archive for October, 2009

My favourite thing on a Friday

October 30, 2009

is dressing down. Yay for casual Fridays!

friday clothes

I’m lucky that I work somewhere where I can dress down any day I like. But there’s something about Fridays that just screams ‘casual!’. I guess it’s ’cause we’re thinking of the weekend, and we’re all fed up with playing Professional Workers since Monday. And anyway, what’s more awesome than being able to wear a t-shirt and Converse to work?

You’ll notice I look rather deliriously excited in this photo—this is not just because of casual Friday, but because I’m going away for the weekend. We have four days in the Blue Mountains, so I’ll see you on Wednesday. Till then, have a relaxing weekend, and if you’re having a little flutter on Tuesday, may the best horse win!

Pumpkins

October 29, 2009

How cool are these carved jack-o’-lanterns? I don’t celebrate Halloween, but I’d love to try my hand at pumpkin carving sometime.

pumpkin owls

filigree pumpkin

Head over to MarthaStewart.com to see more.

The unintentional secret project

October 28, 2009

I have a confession to make…there’s something I haven’t been telling you.

I believe in openness and honesty in relationships, so trust me when I say I didn’t mean to keep secrets from you. It’s just that, well…somehow this just slipped my mind. Really. It’s my fault, I promise. Sometimes life just gets busy, and I forget that I haven’t blogged about everything I’m knitting.

I’m sorry, did you think I was talking about something else?

Anyway. So I realised that I hadn’t told you about my Damson shawlette, although it’s something I’ve been working on just about every day. Talk about absent-mindedness. I think I’ve been knitting this thing for a month now. Actually I’m close to binding off. But better late than never, right?

gartersquishygood

Look at that lovely squishy garter stitch! Can you forgive me now? And yes, it really is that oversaturated, brilliant blue. And I mean oversaturated, dye has been coming off on my fingers.

I guess part of the reason for the brainfluff is that this was kind of a last-minute project—at 10pm the night before I flew to Brisbane I was on Ravelry feverishly trying to find a project to take that was small and simple enough to knit while in conversation, for which I already had (a) the yarn and (b) the needles. Shawlettes make pretty portable knitting and the shape of Damson appealed to me. And it calls for 440 yards of yarn, and I had two skeins of Cascade 220 burning a hole in my stash. Match made in heaven, right?

damson

That’s the second ball, and the rows are getting longer. I mean, yarn-gobblingly long. I wish it wasn’t so difficult to knit with all your fingers crossed.

Hoot!

October 27, 2009

And now, at long last, for your entertainment, with an all-singing, all-dancing cast, we present…the owls jumper.

tu-whit tu-whoo

Finished. At long last. Technically it was wearable (knitted and blocked) a few weeks ago, and it did have a couple of outings (impatient? me?) but it wasn’t finished, not really, until the buttons were sewn on. Forty-two damn buttons, the last one attached just in time for me to wear the jumper in the Spinning Camp fashion parade. But now the owls have eyes. They can see, they are proper owls, and it is finished.

dealing midnight death on silent wings

And I am so happy. This jumper is everything I imagined and hoped it would be, and more. It fits like a dream, and for my second sweater ever that’s a dream come true. The yarn, Cascade Eco, is a little itchy but starting to soften. The colour is natural and perfect—the first time I’ve found undyed wool that suits my fair skin. You should knit this pattern. You really should, it’s easy and ingenius and flattering. And it’s free (on Ravelry). Kate Davies, you are amazing.

parliament is sitting

Ravelers can see my project deets here. This could probably be knit in a quarter of the time it took me, but I had other knitting commitments. I’m not usually one to rejoice in the cold of winter encroaching upon spring, but today’s dreary weather meant my finished owls had at least one proper outing. At one point I was worried their wings would stay folded until next year.

hoot!

Until recently I wouldn’t have said that I have a particular thing for owls. But the owls jumper has been preceded by Oscar the Owl bag, and the vintage Owl jug and tumbler set. And I think I have some owl pyjamas somewhere too. Is it possible to have a favourite motif without realising it?

Spinning Camp!

October 26, 2009

I had a wonderful weekend at Spinning Camp. A weekend in a quiet green valley outside town, with all meals laid on, and nothing to do except spin, knit, chat and relax. The weather even played nice for most of the time too. Here is what I did.

Moved into the (quite large) shared room. I am a pro, this mess only took five minutes to make.

my mess

Enjoyed the views of bush, mountains and sky

view

Spent a lot of time spinning in a light, airy room with many other spinners and knitting in the sun outside

a bobbin of spinners

Spun, and plied, the whole of the red treetops fibre I brought. Isn’t it lovely and chunky? These reds make me think of lipsticks.

red slubby pretty

Stocked up on things to spin at the camp shop (alpaca, polwarth + silk, wool + bamboo, and merino)

brand new fibre stash

Put some things on the show and tell table (and played clotheshorse in the show and tell fashion parade), and marvelled at the skill and ingenuity showed in some of the pieces.

show and tell

Learnt to Navajo-ply, and managed to do a whole bobbin without mistakes (plus some of the red above)

first navajo plying

Wandered off into the bush to enjoy the view

afternoon sun and gumtrees

Spied on the kangaroos

skippies

And swooned over the softness of my semi-solid indigo merino. It was like spinning butter. So lustrous and pretty.

indigo lovely

All up, a very satisfying weekend, and a valuable resource for a novice spinner. I hope I can go back next year, this time with my own wheel.

Hello, cocky

October 23, 2009

cocky

This guy came to visit me today, though I think he had some trouble hanging onto the windows.

My favourite teapot

October 23, 2009

I guess it goes without saying that someone who drinks a lot of tea has a lot of teapots. And therefore qualifies to have a favourite teapot. But somehow it sounds like a rather strange concept, reminiscent of a deathly quiet social life and crippling OCD. Oh well. I’ve bucked plenty of other trends, I guess I can sidestep that stereotype too, right? I’d like you to think of me instead as someone with an enthusiasm for a delicate brew and a passion for fine crockery. And now that we’ve all got our thinking straight, let’s proceed.

My favourite teapot is actually only one of five—despite the aforementioned enthusiasms and passions, my teapot collection has been somewhat limited due to a lack of space. Oh, cruel fate! But all the crowded shelves and reasonable husbands in the world can’t restrain my natural urges for long. One day there will be more teapots. In the meantime, shelf space is given only to the very special. Like the original 1940s pot, brown and humble, mother pouring out cups on Sunday after Church. Or the space-age 70s pot with included cozy, a wool-lined, hard silver sphere that locks in place once the boiling water is added. But my natural sweetness and delicacy (ahem!) means that of course my utmost favourite, my very-smiley-special, is the glass teapot Phil gave me for my birthday a few years ago.

dappled light and glass

I just adore this teapot. It’s quite small and very delicate, the glassware slightly dappled around the main body of the pot. I love the shape of it—the pointed lip at the end of the spout, the squat and rounded body, the glass sphere handle on the lid. It’s one of those things that just makes me smile every time I use it, and I think that makes for a good possession. Why have things you’re lukewarm about, when you could have something that really lights that fire?

In deference to its delicacy I like to use this teapot for the more gentle brews—green tea, white tea, chamomile flowers. The transparency of the glass means teatime becomes a treat for the eyes as well as the nose and the tongue. Tea balls, those bundles of green tea leaves that unfold to present a flower, look amazing in this teapot.

so pretty

The matching glass warming-stand means you can linger over your cup, knowing that when you go back for another it will still be warm. The built-in wire strainer catches all but the tiniest of leaves, meaning an over-the-cup strainer is usually unnecessary. See, functional as well as beautiful.

And so beautiful. My favourite for so many reasons :)

Purrty

October 21, 2009

I’m going to what I like to think of as ‘Spinning Camp’ this weekend. Although I’m a beginner I thought it would be nice to have something pretty to play with, as a change from the white Bond-Corriedale I’ve been using since I learnt to spin. So I ordered some pretties from Treetops in Western Australia, and they arrived today, in plenty of time for the weekend. Thank goodness for Express Post.

I have some Royal Indigo semi-solid (which is darker than this picture suggests)

blue pretties

and some of a hand-dyed mix in Heartache, beautiful variations on a strong red. It isn’t quite as saturated as it looks in this pic, but my camera isn’t so good with strong colours.

red pretties

Aren’t they looovely? They’re both merino, so should be well within my spinning abilities. But it’s nice to play with something a bit more interesting than plain white.

I’m a knitting demon

October 20, 2009

Those purple socks really seem to have gotten me into the habit of doing a lot of knitting. I think I’m enjoying the process a little more these days, instead of thinking only of the day when I’ll be able to wear/use/give away the finished project. Or maybe it’s just that everything I’ve been knitting lately is either small-sized or large-gauge (or both), which means things are finished quickly and I get a lot of healthy variety in my knitting diet. Who cares? Maybe I should buy a bumper sticker that says ‘I’d rather be knitting’ and stop analysing.

Anyway, there are a couple of new things to show you. I made another cute baby hat for Liz, in a style that I like to think of as ‘Wee Willy Winky’.

wee willy winky hat

Isn’t it ADORABLE? I think she really liked it, and the pumpkin hat too. It’s the Candy Cane pattern from ‘Itty Bitty Hats’ by Susan B Anderson, made in Jo Sharp Desert Garden Aran Cotton, which is nice and thick and definitely the softest cotton yarn I’ve ever found. I modified the pattern very slightly by attaching a large bell to the point of the hat instead of a pom pom—I thought a bell would be a bit safer for a baby, and it was much cuter in the end anyway. ‘There’s something about a man who tinkles gently when he moves’ — Terry Pratchett, Lords and Ladies.

The project is Raveled here. There are two important lessons I’ve learnt from making this hat that I’d like to share with you:

1. Cotton dries much slower than wool. Block knitted cotton gifts with plenty of time, and

2. Balls of yarn make great baby-hat-models.

In any case I think this hat definitely gets the tick of approval—almost everyone I showed it to (including me) now wants an adult-sized one.

On Saturday night I finally started my Liesl cardigan! I’m using that gorgeous squishy bulky purple wool I bought with Amanda. It’s so soft and snuggly and beautiful that although I suspect it will probably develop a halo and pill pretty quickly, I don’t care very much. I’m getting a larger gauge than I should but hopefully knitting a size down means the cardigarn will fit me in the end. From the initial try-ons (I love knitting top-down!) it looks like once blocked, all should be good.

Apart from being a dream to knit with, the bulky yarn means Liesl is growing very quickly. Here she is on Saturday, after I’d downed tools for the night:

liesl1

and on Sunday at the same time:

liesl2

so much bigger! Although apparently I’d knitted too much to be able to take non-blurry photos. I’m making the sleeved version, so those cap sleeves are on spare circulars waiting their turn at the moment. I’m going through the wool quicker than I thought, but hopefully there will be enough for decent sleeves.

My owls jumper is just about done too—it’s still missing buttons, but that hasn’t stopped me from giving it two outings already. There will be proud pics as soon as all the owls have their eyes!

I am now officially a published author

October 19, 2009

Look what arrived last week:

conference proceedings

the proceedings for the conference I went to in Santa Fe earlier this year. And on page 122 is my little paper, all professionally printed and bound up with everyone else’s. Squee!

Conference proceedings aren’t the most highly regarded forms of publication in the academic community, but to a newbie like me that hardly matters. And anyway, once Monthly Notices gets their act together, I’ll have a proper publication to crow about!