Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A belated weekend post

I had a good weekend. Even though it feels like it was a million days ago, now. I went up to my folk's house and stayed the weekend, since it's my mum's birthday tomorrow. They had to pick my sister up from a music marathon they had at her school on friday night, so they swung by to pick me up on saturday morning. This had two advantages. The first was morning tea. I made yarnstorm's lemon curd cake.

My mum loves lemon curd, and I must say that I agree. There was enough left over for a jar to gift her for her birthday. (I also got her a lamp, so that she can see when she crafts at night) The cake turned out brilliantly, although there was way too much butter in it – I actually blotted the cake! I’m pretty sure I didn’t read the recipe wrong or anything. (I always go to spell recipe as ‘recipie’, which I actually think is quite apt) Next time I would use 100g of almond meal instead of 50g.

The other bonus was my sister’s hilarious behaviour. She had had about a half an hours sleep that night, and about another hour in the car. So she was extremely non compos mentis. When we were leaving my place, she woke up enough to put on her seatbelt. Or so we thought. We look in the back, there she is, still sprawled over the back seat, seatbelt-less. We tell her ‘M, put your seatbelt on’. She grumbles (expected), reaches over, and unzips her schoolbag (unexpected). My mother repeats the instruction to put on her seatbelt. This is met by the grumble that usually means ‘I am!!!!’. We ask why she is looking in her bag. The reply? ‘for something to attach it too!’ said in the best teenager ‘duh’ voice. She then takes out her school jumper, wraps it around her torso as if it were a restraining belt, and goes back to sleep.

Hilarious. We did eventually convince her to buckle up, but it took some extremely specific instructions.

We made it home all in one piece, and then my mother and I set out for the Onkaparinga Quilt Fair. It was quite impressive. This was my favourite quilt.

It’s not the fanciest, or the most technical and impressive, or even the most beautiful. And there were many there that were much, much pinker (Gah! Gives my eyes a rash!). But this was the only one with sheeps. (I showed the photo to my sister, and she said ‘sheeps!’ which made my mother laugh because that was my exact reaction.)

And this was my favourite thing there.

A sampler snake. No name or anything attached.

I had put aside some money in case there were any good fabrics or handmade items to purchase. Which there weren’t. So the next day, we headed out to the Heart of the Hills market, which runs in the old Onkaparinga Woollen Mills every weekend and public holiday.

Most people in Australia know the name ‘Onkaparinga’. Most people my age or older will have slept under a blanket made there. It sits at one end of the town that I grew up in, and provided much of the towns income, back in the day. It was a working mill up until I was in high school, and the sound of the whistle calling people to work, and the smell of wet wool from our school excursions (not to mention the noise!), is an integral part of my childhood. Even more so, it was integral to the town. During the war, when 'Lobethal' sounded too German (It means 'valley of praise, but I'm informed by a German friend that it's terribly grammatically inaccurate) the town's name was changed to 'tweedville'. Anyone else get a kick out of that?

The mill is closed now, and it has served various functions in the past decade or so. It now houses a microbrewery, a gallery, and the Markets. There has recently been another mill, the Creswick mill, which deals in alpaca, set up there. I believe that they are actually working there, and not just using it as an outlet, but I may be mistaken.

Anyway, I bought a few things there. I bought these poppies

Two bunches for two dollars each. And they are gorgeous. (roses in the foreground from the rosebush I planted at my folks' place)

I bought this yarn

From the Gumeracha Spinners and Weavers Guild stall. I’d tell you who spin it, except that the two ladies who served me cut it off. I tell you, they have some lovely lovely handspun, but it was a painful five minutes handing over the monay and waiting until they got organised enough to exchange it for yarn.

And I bought this in the gallery

For seven dollars. You might remember me talking about this picturebefore. I love it. Even though the colours are completely wrong. I need a frame for it.

I alsomade progress on my sock. In fact, I finished it, but I have yet to take a picture. I cast on for the next one right away, and am finished the cuff.

All in all, it was a very happy weekend, and I was sorry for it to end.

Now, I'm off to the Chocolate Bean to eat lots of super-delicious chocolate. Oh, and to knit with my knitting buddies. That too...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Guess what I did last night?

That's right. I taught myself to crochet.

I know it's lumpy, but it's my very first granny square, my very first piece of crochet, ever, and I love it. I knocked out another one this morning before work. I think I might be hooked (bwahahahaha.... I hate myself.)

I've been spending the last week or so eyeing off other people's Babette blankets on Ravelry. It gives a new meaning to the word Lust. I don't just want this blanket, I must have it. I must have several versions. In my mind there's the original-style colourful one. Then there's the all-warm or all-cool colour ones, strong colours and kilmt-like colours (with maybe a little extra yellow-orange through it for some kick. Maybe even chocqua! (links are inside Ravelry, sorry)

Because, you know, I have all that time and money to spare.

Like I said, I think I have a problem.

However, I am determined to have this blanket. It will happen. Problems: Pattern, yarn, learning to crochet.

Well, now I know how to crochet. I sat down with 'crocheting for dummies' which was wonderfully instructive and had very good pictures, with arrows and everything. I did a couple practice squares and then I was ready to go! I'm positive that being a knitter was why I picked it up so quick, since it made sense to me. I could see what I was doing, how the stitches were being made, etc. That's assuming I'm doing it right! I know I chained two when I should have chained one a couple times on my second square.

So, Babette was my long-term impetus to learn (although I've always wanted to, it just never seemed worth all the energy, somehow) but the kicker came on Wednesday. I went over to my grandma's for dinner. Mrs B, my grandma's long-time next door neighbour, crochets. She'd made a teacosy for grandma. It was four granny squares each side, with a knitted lining. The sides are left mostly open for handle and spout, and the top is just cinched in. I couldn't see how the squares and lining were attatched - crochet border or picked up knitting - becuase the yarn was boucle. But ti doesn't matter. I'ma make me a tea cosy. With eight granny squares in blue and green. I can't wait. It will be perfect for my best-ever-pouring but boring-ugly teapot and my slow tea drinking habits.

I also found a link on ravelry through someone's blog to NaKniSweMo - that is, national (!) Knit a Sweater Month. It's supposed to be 50,000 stitches. And I really want to knit the Cinnabar Sweater. So bad. I don't care if the neckline is high and might make me look top-heavy(er). I don't care. And I am so not going to count the stitches, either. I'm just going to assume, and I think that that's a pretty safe assumption. Especially since I will have to be knitting my dad's Cobblestone still, I can use that to account for a low stitch count. I won't be ordering the yarn for Cinnabar until the 1st, since that's pay day. Maybe I'll be almost finished Cobblestone by then? It is to laugh, since I am going to stay with my folks this weekend for my mum's birthday, so I probably shouldn't work on it then... maybe I will, anyway. My dad is so unaware of what's going on around him sometimes, I could probably get away with it, especially if i'm just doing the sleeves, which is what I'm up to.

I'm thinking about trying magic loop, because I'm sick of that stupid little line you get up the soel of your socks with DPNs. I'm almost finished the first hedgerow sock, which feels good, but I probably shouldn't knit the second one magic loop, since I've heard people say that their tension is different between the different techniques.

I still can't wait to get my big projects further along, but I think this granny square thing might be the quick-finishing hit I need. Not that each square is a finished product in itself, but it sure is satisfying.

My fingers are itching...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The magic of the ordinary

I've been mulling over the value of handwork.

I know there's a lot of talk in blogland about the special qualities that handwork bestows. I know I personally get a lot of joy out both the process and the product (usually). But does, say, a handpieced quilt have any more intrinsic value than a store-bought one? What about if it's handpieced, but you bought it? Why is the relationship between crafting and thrifting so strong?

Is there magic in it?

My conclusion is that I think there is. But it's subjective. And it's not a given.

One hand worker can see the magic in another's hand work. It's harder to see and feel the magic if it's a craft that you don't share - I personally find scrapbooking not very thrilling, although I have seen some extremely beautiful and creative examples - I happen to think that that's the nature of the craft, that it's too commercial and often discourages rather then encourages creativity. Not always, but often.

But where does the magic come from? What's its source? Process or product? I know many people talk of the knitting the time into their stitches - of each stitch somehow capturing the spirit and meaning of what's happening at the time. And it is true that some of the things I've made will strongly bring back glimpses of the weather, or what I was listening to or thinking about. But that is in my own head, not in the stitches.

What about the love poured into each carefully crafted stitch? Does that mean that, if a lovingly pieced quilt will keep you warm better, that a persnickity project will leave you shivering? That a thrice-frogged yarn will hold onto its curse and make you miserable? I just don't buy it.

No, I don't think it's the process. Although that carries its own magic, it's a magic that's firmly rooted in the present moment, that has its strength in the now, and so, by definition, can't affect the future.

So, the product. Oftentimes a handstitched item will be 'better' quality to a store bought one. Oftentimes not. The materials used or the skills and care involved vary for both types of items. Nothing much to be gained there for my argument.

It must, then, be some value that we place on the work that went into making the item. Obviously, today, handwork is something of a luxury. You only have to go into any quilt store, and take a look at their prices and, sometimes, their clientele, to realise that. But most of the people who do really truly creative work aren't people who have a lot of extra money or free time. They craft because it's what they do. It's an important part of who they are. It's art.

I can't remember who it is, maybe Amy Carol, but one of the contributors to a Crafter Companion wrote that she realised at some stage that she felt exactly the same doing art as doing 'craft'. I know some people have a problem with the word craft, but I don't really. It's all part of the same process - all art is based on craft, all craft can transcend and become art. It's a fuzzy and complicated process.

After thinking it over, I have come to the conclusion that there is magic in handcrafts. In the end product. But it doesn't shine its strongest in the product itself. It shines most is us. In it's creators and users. Its magic is in how it changes us and the way we see it and other things.

Being a handworker makes you more aware. It makes you think about process and product. It makes you consider source, utility, worth. It gives you a new eye to look at these things with. Whereas before, a blanket is a blanket, a top is a top, those things now become the end of a long line of things.

This top was fabric.

Before that it was thread.

Before that it was cotton.

Before that it was earth and sun and seeds and labour.

And if you have sewn it yourself, you are not just the recipient of all this work. You are a part of it. Even if it is a shirt you bought, you understand a little more.

It was reading this post that helped me think about the way it shapes us. About how understanding your world makes you gentler and a little softer. About how working in a garden or with your hands brings you to an understanding with your world, a world that is made up of ordinary things, of bits and pieces, and helps you to find a place for all of them.

And once you see the magic in ordinary things, you understand the importance of 'small pleasantnesses'. I've long thought that, since I am easily irritated by trivialities, it behoves me to look for the joy that small, everyday things bring. That joy that comes so naturally to children, the wonder that we loose. In rain, in sun, in the way leaves move. In good food and company. In words.

Crafting alone will not bring this for you. Thinking alone won't, either. But when one has the luxury, the leisure, for both... A thinking crafter is a powerful thing.


It rained last night. It was raining on my way home from work. I catch the bus to and from, so that meant walking in the rain and standing in the rain.

I stepped out of the door before I realised it was actually raining - from inside it had looked like it was just drizzling (do people elsewhere say 'spitting'? Now I go to type it, it sounds gross. As is 'Is it raining?' 'No, it's only spitting'.) I stood under the verandah for aminute, debating whether to go back in side and swipe the communal umbrella for the evening.

Then I stepped out into the rain.

It was nice.

By the time I got home I was reasonably wet - not soaking, it stopped by the time I got to the bus stop, so I wasn't standing miserably in the rain - but dripping, nonetheless. Walking to the bus stop, I watched the rain create miniature landscapes in the carpark, I let it run down my face and squeeze from the creases around my eyes like tears, I shook my head and felt the drop splatter from my hair.

Rain is the only thing Imiss in summer.

When i got home it had started again, and I made myself a sandwich and sat on my balcony, watching water cascade from the drainpipe on the top of my building, and the birds play in the wet. Then I went inside and worked on my sock.

You know the sock I mean. This sock.

It now has the rest of its heel flap, a short row heel, and about half a gusset. I did have to rip back part of the gusset because I didn't read the fragging instructions properly (I know, we've talked about this) but it was only a couple rows, and I think the sock forgave me. I watched two episodes of Spicks and Specks on tape (Adam Hills is so attractive) and then I went to bed.

I dreamed about my sock. I dreamed that it was finished. And it didn't fit. The heel and toes were too long, and misshapen, the cuff was floppy. And it was also red, for some reason. I don't think I need to tell you that this was not a fun dream. It's a good thing my dream sock was red, otherwise I might have panicked.

This morning when I got up the first thing I did was go and find my sock. I think my subconscious hates me...

Monday, October 22, 2007


This is what I spent most of my weekend either looking at or doing.

This is my teeny balcony. I'm standing right at one end, where the door is. That green wooden thing is the barrier between the neighbour's balcony and mine. At the start of the weekend, the only things on there were the front table and its contents. Cherry tomatoes and a sad little basil plant, and some Italian parsley (I hate the crinkly kind).

On Saturday, I went with my dad to Bunnings, and we bought two punnets of tomatoes (one Roma, one 99c, I have no idea what it actually is, a dwarf something, I think?) some Basil, a chilli plant, and a tonne of dirt. OK, 50 litres of dirt, but for a country girl, buying dirt just seems unnatural, you know?

Anyway, the plan was to use a couplethree containers that my dad has at home for pots, but after we did all that running around (and it was hot on Saturday) we visited my Grandma, and she showed us a bit out the back where my aunt has stashed a whoooooole bunch of pots, and she said that we could have any of the plastic ones we wanted - I was restrained, but she kept trying to get rid of more, so I have a couple of backups, just in case.
She also bequeathed to me two of those wire chairs you see there, which are in surprisingly good condition for having had three generations of sit upons sit upon them for countless summers. Of course, they used to have that white plastic stuff covering the wire, but that's all been picked off by three generations of fingers...

So I filled the pots, planted the plants, watered them - voila! A garden. (I had to ask three people how to spell Voila. Just so you know the lengths I will go to for the professionalism of this blog - mwahahaahhaha, I crack me up)

Again, being a country girl, this was astoundingly easy. It required no digging, no picking out of rocks, no creating new garden beds out of wood or, as my father was doing last time I visited home, brick.

However, it did require a little good old Australian know how (I always think of Tom Lehrer when someone uses that phrase - 'Good old American know how, as provided by Good Old Americans like Werner Von Braun...') otherwise known as being scabby.

I live in a huge block of apartments, and this week I took, from the hard-rubbish dumping area, a round table that is now my dining table (more later), a small black table that you can see in the top picture, just, and a bed head, which I propped up between said black table and a plastic container. If I leave the pots on the ground, they're too low down to get much sunlight. And also, it's nicer like this. On Sunday, I spent most of the afternoon sitting outside, like this:

Because on a 35 degree, muggy day, what you really want to do is put a whole lot of yarn on your lap. But it cooled down in the afternoon, and even though the dropping pressure gave me a whopping headache, it was quite pleasant. Except for this dude:

Who was quite cross that I was sitting on his balcony, and almost flew into my face a couple times, which was quite alarming.

I was reading this post today, and I was thinking how, even though I love that there was so little work involved in my mini garden, it's almost an anti-climax. Where are the aching muscles and the sense of satisfaction? Apparently you don't get one without the other.

Before that, I did this:

FO! Because, again, on said 35 degree, muggy day, the best thing to do is to get the various pieces of a Worsted weight jacket, put them on you lap, and seam them. But it's good to have it finished! Sorry about the crappy light, but the whole day was weird and overcast and I didn't want to wait for better light, because I wanted to do this:

And then this:

I know you think I'm crazy early, but really. There's only 63 knitting days left until Christmas! And last week, one night when I couldn't sleep, I lay awake plotting to knit socks for way too many people. I think I have a problem. This is the same problem that convinces me that it's a good idea to take on knitting a blanket, rug, or, my latest bright idea, a towel.

A towel. I mean, I ask you.

However, having finished my sister's wrap jacket, and being almost up to the armholes on Cobblestone - this one is going so quick! All that stocking stitch in the round, I get an inch done every time I pick it up, feels like. And the yarn is yummy. Then I think I might have to knit a pair of socks for my dad, and I have a few other crafty presents up my sleeve which don't involve knitting and might not come to fruition. We'll see.

All in all I am feeling very crafty. The more so because, on Thursday, there was a very nice round dining table in said hard rubbish spot. So I rolled it to my flat. Am I a scab? Maybe. But after years of using op shop furniture, I am pretty picky. If it's not decent, it doesn't matter how cheap (or free) it is, I don't want it in my house. But there is a definite pleasure in making do, and saving things from being thrown away when they are perfectly good.

The point is that I moved the rectangular table that had been my dining table into my room, and now my sewing machine is sitting on it, easily accessible, along with tins of notions, etc. Then the drawers that were in my room had their contents emptied into the extremely spacious wardrobe (which also got a good reorganising - yes, I am the type of person who can spend a half an hour thinking about which shelf her shirts belong on. I also enjoy defragmenting my computer) and the drawers are in the living room, full of craft stuff. A drawer for embroidery, a drawer for paper and related craftiness, a drawer for my yarn stash (it doesn't count if it all fits in one receptacle, right? Except I just got more in the mail today and now it's not all going to fit) and the top drawer for whatever's on the go atm.

This meant I went through all my stuff, categorised it, judged how likely I was to finish and/or use it, and had a mini-purge. I've been pretty good since I moved at not accumulating too much crap, but my craft supplies are definitely my weak point. And some of the stuff I’ve had sitting around for yonks went, which was fantastic.

It just feels so good, not only to be organised, but to have everything available and accessible.
And to add to my nestiness, we also took a trip to IKEA, where I got a lamp for $7 for my sewing set up, and a couple of picture frames. I've got these two maps of Europe that I've wanted to hang up for ages. I love maps. I have this

(I know, dreadful picture, I'm sorry)
Up on my wall, and there's an area-correct map up above my bed. But I had nowhere to hang these two. They're from the period of the Enlightenment and the period just before the French Revolution, respectively, and they're pretty and interesting. So I framed the, but they're a little too small for the frames, so I cut some wrapping paper to size and put it behind them.
Then I pintacked them to a piece of ribbon, sewed another, smaller ribbon to the first ribbon, tied the smaller ribbon in a double-knotted bow, and hung it on the wall.

I think it looks fabu.

I'm just so crafty.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

An Ode to Buttons

Eye candy here.

Bringing back memories,
Crisp as if they were separated from now
Only by glass
Not time.

My mother's button tin
Bottom draw of the white chest of drawers
In the laundry-cum-sewing room.

Snuggled among

The other tins

Quality Street for lace trims

Danish biscutis for ribbons

Slippy satin and rough grosgrain.

The shiny white laminate drawers
The soft, icy blue tiles.

The tin.
A coffee can.
White muslin glued over.

The texture.
Smooth and cold, lightly covered
By soft and warm.
Good to slide your had over.

A tiny blue ribbon.
Matched the ice-blue tiles
It's tiny dots
Matched the shiny white drawer
Circling the top of the tin.

The blue plastic top
Easy to pop off
Even for little fingers

Fingers which loved to run
Through buttons
Feel them
Slipping through fingers
Watch them
Gliding over one another

That one from that top
This from another
Small red flowers
White enamel with pictures
Fabric covered.

A tin full of colourful

I keel you...

Two things. One is Blogger, which insists on adding extra spaces between everything when you add a photo - and then will refuse to add spaces at all for some random reason. See: last post, which is airy and spacious up the top, and crazy bunched down the bottom. Nothing I can do will fix it. I keel you...

I'm thinking about getting a Typepad account for my bloggoversary, which is nowish.

The other is... dum dum dum! That freaking sock.


Let me start from the weekend. When last we left it, said sock was a beautiful 3 inches of perfect hedgerow stitch pattern. Sans cuff. On Friday night, I frogged it, and rolled itback into its familiar call. It seemed content enough.

Saturday I had another frenzy of starting fever. I didn't actually start anything, though. Why? Because every time I tried, the needles were wrong, the yarn was wrong, the pattern was wrong. The knitting gods had abandoned me. Halfway through Saturday, sitting in a pile of unravelled yarn, shouting 'why?!' to the sky (well, the ceiling) I got an answer. (NB: This never happened with any of the other gods I have tried. Only the amorphous knitting gods have seen fit to actually return their emails) The answer was this: finish something already.

It occured to me that, of the various projects I had tried that day, the only one which had gone without a hitch was the least likely: Branching Out. This had never been an enjoyable project for me previously, simply because I coudn't read my knitting and see what I had done, and everytime I made a mistake I was incapable of fixing it, and had to rip back several rows. And I made a lot of mistakes.

But not lately. Of course, some might say that this is simply because I had grown accustomed to knitting lace, that the pattern, while I didn't memorise it until the final repeat (just when you need that knowledge) had at least become familiar. I suppose that is true, too. But I have faith, and I know that the gods of knitting were also guiding my hands - them and Craftlit, which was my constant companion as I finished off the scarf.

And finish it I did. I cast of on Saturday night, and now I have a lovely, lovely...

Pile of blue string.

So, even though I've cast off, I don't reallt feel like I've finished it. It needs blocking. I went out on Sunday and bought one of those sets of soft, rubbery whatever. you know, those kids matts things. But I don't have enough pins. I'm going to have to venture into the Cave of Temptation, aka Spotlight.

Still, when you've recieved a message from a deity, no matter how niche, you probably should get on it. I cast on the last sleeve for my sister's jacket on Sunday morning, took it to knitting group, and cast off on Monday morning. Then I immediately cast on the collar. I teckon that'll take me most of the week to get done. I'm thinking I might go purchase wrappings for it, to incentivise the seaming process.

Then I can use the needle that that's on to finish the mittens that I'm making for my bff in China - I need to do a two circs job on the thumb, it's just too bulky seamed.

Speaking of needles, I've invested in a starter pack and extra tips of Knitpicks Options. Love! I've been a fan of their DPNS for a while, since I prefer metal, and they are the cheapest metal option for 5 in a set (4 is standard here in Oz), and also are pretty, light and functional. I hadn't been working on Cobblestone (did I mention that I was knitting Cobblestone for my dad for christmas? No? I am) and the crappy Spotlight needles had the most gawdawful jump. Not so the knitpicks - they're like buttah. Buttah, I tells ya.

So Cobblestone got some work done on it last night, at the informal Cousin's knitting night. This was not the plan. The plan was to advance the Hedgerow socks. And I did. I got about an inch into the pattern.

Then I frogged it.

I guess I just wasn't paying enough attention to what I was doing. See, the trouble with half memorising something, is that your subconscious can't decide which repeat it wants to be knitting - the first repeat on one needle, the second on the next.

Despite the distinct lack of knitting progress, it was an excellent night. I love hanging out with my cousins, especially when it's us girls. I brought up the subject of the Gentle Arts of Domesticity and we all had a nice agreeable rant about people who call themselves Feminists, pretend to represent us as a gender, and then proceed to tell us what to do, because free will is obviously a Bad Thing. We talked about Marriage and Children (none of us is hugely keen, but I suppose ask us in 5 years) and Relationships and Family and Each Other.

I love my family. They rock.

Unlike this sock. I will defeat it. I will....

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


It seems like this is all blogland can talk about (although I've read numerous blogs today which have nothing to say on the matter.) I was reading Domesticali, and she mentioned it, in conjunction with her husband telling her that knitting was 'not sexy'.
Leaving aside the fact that not everything needs to be, or should be, 'sexy', and that I object to the word as used to mean 'a good thing'. (Maybe I am a Good Feminist after all)

I was thinking about and - I'm tired. I mean, I would still like to engage with the people within the discussion - both the women who craft and the women who don't. But it's starting a little bit to feel like that thing where every winter the Media discovers knitting again, and decides that it is - wince - 'sexy'. And then they get a photo of some skinny, glamourous woman knitting a garter stitch scarf in chunky wool and looking ecstatic in her body-hugging clothes and stilettos.

And part of me wants to say: Leave us alone.

One of the things I love about the internet is, if you don't like something, you can just go away. And I think that if these people don't like watching us craft, then... they should just go away.

But I suppose that if we are damaging the fabric of feminism, then thye can't, in all good conscience, do so. Can they?

Maybe it's just because it's the end of the day. However, in the spirit of letting them watch me craft if that is what they feel like doing, here is what I did on the weekend.

'Nautie' from

Knitted for a friend (at her request). I finished the shell ages ago, and then broke one of the (plastic op shop) needles. So I didn't have the right size DPNs. I finally just used 3.25s. I thought that his head might be too little for his body, so I cast on an extra amount of stiches, but I shouldn't have - it made it a bit too large, and it puckers a little. I thought it was going to look pretty bad, but with the i-cord tentacles (I hate i-cord) and eyes, he actually looks pretty cute, I think.

You can't really see in this pic, but because the yarn is dark and the stuffing is light, it shows through a little. I was already making plans to knit it again - with aran wool and instead of increasing every regular amount of rows, I would do it properly, like in nature - exponentially or however it really is done (research needed) since it's a bit of an awkward increase, anyway.

Then I realised that I didn't really enjoy knitting this anyway, the second time, and what would I do with it? Maybe I'll do it someday, but not anytime soon.

Box bag from the tutorial from dragoknitfly.

Yes, I have been sewing. I have in fact sewn a bed warmer a la dogged knits, but since I'ts warm, I have not used it (plus, it's a little dodgy. Pictures later. Maybe) I have been bonding with my sewing machine.
What I learnt from this experience: even though these two projects were essentially two large squares, I have absolutely no capacity for spacial visualisation. I called my mum twice while sewing this bag to get her to help me figure out how to, eg, fit the thing through the machine, or place the fabric so it looks right when turned right side out.
Also, I should have used heavy-weight interfacing. Medium-heavy just doesn't cut it.
Even with this meager sucess, I am having daydreams of a string of these and the zaka-style pouches from the crafter's companion to house all my various WIPs and FOs. Wouldn't that be fantastic!
And it will totally happen, too. Totally...

Can't we all just get along?

So, last night I listened to the interview by Jane Brocket (aka Yarnstorm), which I downloaded from here. (I'ts still available, until the next episode of Women's Hour pushes it off. It's only and 8 minutes piece, but it's interesting)

The thing that stuck with me was when Whoever the antagonist was (I think her name was Kate something?) started attacking the book as being full of things that need 'leisure and money'. Which is true. But then Jane compared it to going to the gym.

I just kept thinking about this all night. I think she was spot on. The gym-goer and I both spend q decent amount of time and money each month doing our respective activities. We both get something out of it. Knitting etc won't make me fit or more comfortable in my body, and running on a treadmill won't satisfy her creatively, or produce something beautiful at the end (unless it's her). We both probably think that each other would benefit from sharing in our particular activity. We both might be right. Or maybe not.

Almost everything we do requires leisure or money. I take Kate's (?) point that, for some women, this book and others like it will seem like it's accusing them of not being a Good Woman. But surely we are past that now? If I choose to spend my free time watching Australian Idol instead of knitting, will I be a Better Feminist? If I spend my money on comsetics instead of yarn? If I choose to go to the gym, not because I want to feel healthy, but because I want to be sexually attractive to men?

I think, again, it comes down to choices. I think many women who don't craft feel guilty when presented with the things that some of us make. Partly this is a result of the traditional nature of the things we do, and this should be worked against as much as possible until we overcome it. Partly it's because woman are, by nature, competitive.

I was looking at my bookshelf this morning as I got dressed. You'd probably think I was an excellent Feminist from it. Backlash, Sperm Wars, Sexing the Millennium, The Feminist Mystique, Everything She Can Do, I Can Do Better. Truth to tell, I've read almost none of them. I borrowed the Cinderella Complex, made it through three chapters, couldn't identify with it, and returned it. I'm currently trying to read Female Chauvinist Pigs, and it's too relevant - it made me so angry and sick that I had to put it down.

The things I have read, seem to come down to this: 'you are Free to do What You Like, and what Empowers You.'

Well, I like knitting. I like sewing. I like living in a nice place, that is clean and tidy, I find it helps me be better - at whatever I might be doing. If you don't, if you like other things, if you choose to spend your free time doing alternate activities - what effect does that have on me? Only that there's more yarn in the stores.

One woman's choice seems to be another's moral judgement.

Again, this makes me sad. Both for them, tying themselves in knots about my choice, and for me - that I should be pressured not to do the things I have talents in and that I enjoy, just to fit someone elses picture of what I should be. Isn't that a backwards step?

It comes to mind that this is supposed to be a craft blog. And it just so happens that I have a fantastic segway. I got my grubby hands on a copy of this last week.

I think it definitely qualifies as 'pinny porn' (I'm starting to hate that word. Good discussion here)* It's gorgeous. Better, it's inspiring. There are several things in it that I want to make, and since the instructions are vague - in a good way - I've already come up with tons of ideas about what I want to do It motivated me to do this.

OK, so it was completely pointless, but I enjoyed doing it, and it's pretty. See?

There's just something about buttons.

*I found it interesting that there's a thread on the ravelry forums about 'creepy' foot fetishists adding photos of people's feet in handknitted socks to their favourites in flickr. One of the participants in this discussion on ravelry had the moniker of 'sock pr0n'. I'm not sure what conclusion to draw from that.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Feminism is a Four Letter Word

I think about feminism a lot. Not in an abstract, high-brow way, although I suppose I could. I spent four years at University learning to speak in terms of liberal values and what is universally moral, and why you should believe what I'm saying because, clearly, I have the weight of the Western World and all it's thinkers behind me. But I never did Women's Studies, never even got close. The closest I got was admitting, in a third year tutorial, that I considered myself to be a 'feminist'. And I was shocked by people's reaction. They looked at me like I was crazy, took in my short hair and comfortable shoes and, I'm sure, decided that I was a lesbian, a man-hater, or both.

I am neither.

But I am vexed by a world in which it is hard to say that you are a feminist. This means that only the extremists, who want the Men to die, will claim the title. I grew up assuming that everyone was a feminist, in the same way that everyone is Human. At least that all women would be feminists, because, surely, it's ridiculous to suppose that anyone would want to have no choice. Because isn't that what it's about? Choice? You can be free, but if you can't choose what to do with your freedom, it's a false freedom. In name only.

I remember the furor our Women's Officer at uni created. The Women's space was being moved, since the buildings were being renovated, and some planner decided that all the offices together was a better idea. The alternate space was not inferior. But she decided that it was a conspiracy by the patriarchy to oust the Women's Room. I am generally quite suspicious of conspiracy theories in general, since they take much more effort for the conspirators than is usually feasible. But I do believe in the patriarchy. Because I'm a part of it, I know it is there, I see it all the time. But sometimes it is just. Not. About. That.

So, the Women's Room was being moved, and our Women's Officer at the time went on a huge rant against, you guessed it, men. She started out sounding sane with why we need a Women's Room and not, for example, a Men's Room. (Although, if the men felt that they needed one, they could go ahead and make one for themselves) Then it started down the slope of why we needed the women's room, really. IE, because all men are pigs and should have their testicles torn off with rusty pliers.

This is where I jump of the bandwagon. I'm sorry? you are saying that in order for me to be empowered, I need to dis-empower others? You're saying that equality isn't what we're after? That equal and just treatment is, in fact, the enemy? No thanks. Truly, I think I would rather be oppressed than the oppressor. At least there's moral superiority in that.

As I've said before, I truly believe that men and women are, essentially, different beings. I like being a woman, and not a man. I don't want to change the things about me that make me different. Partly this is because, why should 'being equal' mean 'being like men'? I'm happy with 'different but equal', despite the historical instances of that phrase actually meaning 'different, and inferior'. I think we are closer now than we ever have been. I think that's wonderful. but we're not there yet. Not by a long shot. And partly, the problem is ourselves.

Each other.

I feel a deep gratitude to the women who pushed the envelope before I was born, and while I was young, so that I could grow up taking for granted that I was as human as anyone else, and my right to an opinion was as strong.

But they missed something. Most of them. That was: We want to choose. We want to choose to work. We want to choose to raise children. We want to choose whatever gives us satisfaction, be that handstitching a quilt or writing legislation. We want to choose variations and combinations of these, and other things, and while not every choice will be the ones we wish we could make, and every choice will involve sacrifice, and unpleasantness, we want this to be only a function of living in the real world with it's real hardships and facts. Most of those feminists never had children (as I found out in this excellent book, which is gentle and thoughtful and, I've just found out by googling, extremely controversial). That's not a problem. It's just a fact. Choosing one thing rules out another choice.
That's life.

The fact that this is seen as a betrayal of feminism seems cruel to me. It means that those who choose to work feel guilt that they are not at home, on top of all the hardships that being a working mother entails. And those who choose to stay at home feel guilt that they are not working, along with all the hardships that staying at home entails.

And it means that we feel the need to paint each other's choices as 'wrong', in order to make ours 'right'. This frustrates me, badly.

I've been reading Yarnstorm, which I've had in my blogroll for about a year, but, since it starts with a 'y', haven't read in almost as long. But Jen was talking about it, and I took another look. Apparently there's been some controversy about whether the kind of life that I see us all trying for in blogland, that beautiful life full of creativity and peace and the joy of small things, is 'valid'. I don't even know how to respond to that.

Because I want that life. This morning, I cooked, I cleaned, I knit, before I went in to work. And I thought to myself that if I could do that all day, I would be happy. Not all day, every day. That's not a full, well lived life, for me. But just showing up at the office doesn't guarantee you that, either. And these days, when most people don't have 'careers', they just have life-long jobs... which will better give you satisfaction? I don't know that either is guaranteed to do so. It's about who you are, and what you can make of it.

My little nest

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy working, interacting with people, etc. but I also know that it gets in the way of the life I would like to have. Not a Martha Stewart life, but the type of life I see on blogland. Not that that is really real, any of it. But bits and pieces are. A careful, intimately beautiful life, filled with light and love and handmade things.

And I know that that is not what life is. I love the different aspects of life, and I love thinking about the way my life changes, and looking forward to all the changes to come. But whatever those changes are, if they involve a career, or a husband, or children, or a life of solitude, or any combination, I want to be free to make the choices that it presents to me without fear of being ridiculed by people who, quite frankly, should know better.

Otherwise, what is freedom for?

Dame Roma Mitchell
First woman in Australia to be Queen's Counsel
Twice Dux of my high school
Advocate of equal pay for equal work
Fighter for Social Justice
First female Commonwealth supreme Court Judge (retired from the bench the year I was born)
Senior Deputy Chancellor and Chancellor of Adelaide University (first woman in Australia)
(First woman) Governor of South Australia
Founding Chairperson of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
Conservative Feminist
General Hogger of 'Firsts'

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Take a Deep Breath

Or, the continuing saga of the cursed sock.

So, I'm 3 inches in. It's looking great. Then, last night, I'm looking at it. I have 10 minutes before I have to leave to go to my grandma's for tea. And I'm thinking 'will this fit over my foot?'

The pattern says that it fits a 8-8 1/2" round foot. Mines about 9", but I like my socks real snug, so I was kind of hoping I could wing it. I pulled it over my foot - perfect. Then I'm thinking 'will this fit over my heel?'

I string the stitches onto some waste yarn. I pull it over my foot - still perfect. I pull it over my heel - well. I try to pull it over my heel. It won't go. It's will almost, nearly go. But it won't. No, sir. That yarn is stretched as far as it will stretch, and it wont fit over my heel.

I pull it off of my foot and throw it onto the table in disgust. The yarn and I glare at each other.

I cast on again, with another of the little balls of the yarn that I got when I frogged the pair it was before. The 3 inches of beautiful stitch pattern is still sitting on my table, with the waste yarn, shouting yarn swear words at me.

I'm choosing to think of it as a gauge swatch. A real cranky gauge swatch.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


So, I ended up working on my sock after all, last night. I think I've got the pattern down. It only took me three hours. It's only a 6-st repeat, made up of purls and knits, but knitting has a way of reminding me of my cognitive failings. Think you'll remember where you left off? I don't think so! Think you'll remember what changes you made on the first sock? Dream on.

Think you'll apply the lessons learnt this week and READ THE INSTRUCTIONS?

Not a chance.

I am 2 inches into the hedgerow sock.

It does not have a cuff.

Why is there always that moment the next morning where you look at it and think... hang on?

I was checking the pattern to see how long it suggests you make the leg, when I realised that the pattern included a cuff section. I mean, you know. Because it's a sock. I wish I could go back in time so that I could wait until now, and then I could slap myself on the back of my head.

Actually, it's not too big a disaster, I don't think. It's basically a rib pattern anyway. It won't look the same, but I kind of like how it's looking. And I refuse to unwind it again because 1)enough already! and 2) I don't think the yarn could take it. It's holding up well for how often it's been knit, but there are limits, you know.

I think the yarn is cursed. That's it. It must be the yarn.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The moral of the story is: Read the instructions

And read them all the way through.

I made a rabbit on the weekend. See?

She's from Debbie Bliss's Special Knits, and I fell in love with the bunny's 'tude in the picture. I mean, she's a happy bunny, but at the same time she's all like 'what? i'm prosh, I'm bootiliscious,

and y'all can bite me.'

I don't know why my rabbit is Southern, but apparently it is so. She's also sleepy.

Her face actually stands out better than this. I was going to make her winking, but I thought that that might be a bit much.

I don't really know why I made her, apart from that I liked her. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with her now. This pattern was lovely, very elegant with the shaping. The only thing I didn't like about it was that it called for aran yarn, and 3.25 needles. Which gave a very tight fabric, and since it was on such small needles, I gripped it very tight and I had to put it down every now and then to give my hands a rest so that they didn't get sore.

As for the title - well, I made all her pieces, and started putting her together. I seamed up her legs. I seamed up her body. I attatched the legs to the body. I went to attatch the arms to the body - and then I realised that I'd seamed up too much of the body, and there was nowhere to put the arms, which are supposed to be inserted into the body seam, as the ears are inserted into the head seam. I fudged it, but it took a couple of goes, and I was cross with myself for having not paid attention.

I also started on the hedgerow socks last night. I was whizzing along, about a half an inch deep, when I put it down to go to bed. This mornign I thought I would manage a row or two before I had to leave in the morning. That's when I realised. It's a 2 row repeat, not an every-second row repeat.

Yeah, my eyes are getting a good workout, what with all that attention I've been paying.

So, I frogged it (again!) This yarn is getting a good work out. Here's what it looks like now.

That's not quite true, I did cast on again while I was waiting for the bus this morning, and I have the regular Tuesday knitting date with my cousins tonight, although that might be too thinking a knitting project, since I'm not quite used to the stitch pattern yet (clearly).

It's really the only one I have that I can do, though. I've got my sister's jacket, but the circular needle for that is being used as one of two circular needles to do the thumb of a mitten, but since I don't have the other circular, I can't do that. Branching out is too thinky, too. I'm working on Cobblestone for my dad, but that is on hiatus. The circ I have for it has too defined a join, making it frustrating to work on. I went to order an addi for it, and... I ordered the wrong length. It's not the end of the world - it is a length that I need, but it's not the one I need now.

Doing. So. Well.

Maybe I'll make another bunny.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Dear Ravelry

I heart you. I heart you so hard. I want to have your virtual children.
Anyway. So, I have spent most of last week on Ravelry. My username is Kaviare, if'n you are on there and you want to join me.

I have also spent some time trying to wade through the backlog in my bloglines. I was reading sooz's blog, and I was like 'wait, I don't remember this Wil kid. What the?' Turns out? Last time I read was before he was born. This makes me sad. Sooz was one of the original blogs I read, and I love reading it. If someone's blog starts later in the alphabet than, say, 'd', I probably haven't read it in about that long. This is not only a source of guilt, it is a source of sadness. These are not just blogs I read to see what people made or whatever. These are people that I feel like I have an actual connection with. People who share parts of my life in ways that other people can't.

Since I still have no internet at home there is not much I can do about this. Except work harder to get internet at home. Which is waiting on getting a computer that is worth using on the internet. Which is up to someone else who is helping me get that. Gah.

Anyway, Ravelry = awesome. If you don't know what it is, then let me explain. It's like myspace or facebook for yarn. Except, instead of people you never want to talk to in real life, let alone online, there are fibre celebs like Franklin Habit, Brenda Dayne, The Girl From Auntie, Wendy from Knit and Tonic, The Yarn Harlot.... I've run out of breath.

And instead of looking at pictures of said people staring pensively off into the distance, or hanging drunkenly off of each other's shoulders, you get to look at other people's knitted and croched items. You get to see who has knitted the same things as you, or the things you want to knit, what they said, what yarn they used, who used the same yarn as you, what they said, what they knit with it....

And, instead of spamming your email every time you get a message, they send you kittens.

OK, so I made that last one up a little.

Anyway, if you haven't joined, you should. They've currently got over 15,600 users, and there are only 17,797 people on the waiting list... Seriously, there were about as many ahead of me when i joined, and I got in real quick. They are doing an amazing job and I love them.

Also, because the only way to put your photos up there is to use your flickr account, I've been getting a lot more use out of mine.

I had something to say, but I forget. So instead, I'll give you an FO report.

1950's Jumper

I wanted to knit myself a jumper. I really liked the look of the 1950's jumper in the Jo Sharp Knit 1. Elegant. Simple. Elegant. Except I wanted to knit it in Boutique, the new wool from Bendigo Woolen Mills. Boutique is 8 ply, while the pattern called for Alpace Silk Georgette, which is not only pricey, but also 5 ply. So I swatched. I got together with my mum, who teaches maths, and did my sums.

I decided that because I go out a ways, and then in a ways, I needed more shaping than Jo had factored in. So I calculated the stitches I would need for the waist, decreased dramatically, and then just increased the amount set in the pattern. There was a week or so when the extreme decreasing edge was freaking me out, btu my fath in Mathematics, and the soothing presense of more experienced knitters in my knitting group, who had seen such things before, kept me from going over the edge.

I won't go into the gorey details, but it all turned out in the end. I am actually a bit disattisfied with the shaping. not because it goe sin to far, but because it startes too far out. I think, if I did it over, I would pick about the middle sized pattern, and just knit it as the pattern saysx, or maybe with a few extra decreases.

I always forget the negative ease. I'm sorry, negative ease. I am learning to love you.

I actually wore it to work a couple of times as a vest. It worked quite well. I'm thinking of making one apurpose to be a vest. If only it weren't so dorky!

My sister is the worst picture taker ever.

She's all like 'pull a face, laugh, pretend like you're a rock star.'

And I'm all like 'Take. A. Photo. Of. The. Jumper.'

And she's like 'pretend like you're flying!'

But here it is, finished. You can see the bottom, on the left of the photo, where it's a bit lumpy from the wierd shaping.

I love the yarn. It's 65% Wool, 25% Bluefaced Leicester Wool, 10% Mohair. It's soft and warm and fuzzy and awesome. I'm actually thinking about making another one in the scarlet colour of the same yarn. Except, of course, that that's a littel adventurous for me. Colour, you know. It has been drawn to my attention that I prefer jewel tones or desaturated colours.

Anyway, Love. I'm wearing it now. Success tastes sweet.