Friday, December 14, 2007

Merry Christmas... Fo Fo Fo...

First (and noting: 'firstly' is not a word. It just isn't, OK? It's 'first' or it's nothing.) Branching out


And being modelled by yet another lovely cousin:

Yarn: Bendigo Woollen Mills 3 ply in Indigo. I still have almost a whole cone left. How was it? It's wool. It's nice enough. It's nothing fancy, but it's light and airy in the 3 ply (that'd be what - fingering weight? - for you yankees). I love the colour, and it was hardly splitty at all.

Pattern: Branching Out

Difficulty: I was a lace novice. At the start, I would knit one repeat at a time. Any time I did more, I would have to rip back, cursing. But the pattern is simple enough that I could start to see what was happening fairly quickly - I memorised the pattern... on the last repeat. Definately a good lace beginner's pattern.

That makes me think. I feel like I am so in control and in charge of my knitting. I've done lace, I'm doing cables, I know my way around the knit and purl stitch, I know several cast ons and offs, I can fix almost every mistake I make without ripping back. I can turn the heel of a sock with relatively little thought. Short rows? In my sleep.

And yet... this time last year, I was sitting in my room, knitting this jumper. I didn't know how to m1 without making holes. Is that nuts? I think it's nuts. It makes me feel good about how far I've come - and humble about how far there is to go.

There's always something new to learn, in knitting.

FO number two: Christmas ornaments by three. One for my mama, one for my sister, and one for my bff in China. I cross stiched christmas motifs on tea dyed aida cotton. The two for my mum and sister I actually stitched last year, with the thought of doing this, but never got any further. For Meg, though, I started from scratch:

I think this looks like it should be some sort of weird alien writing. But no. It is, in fact, un tannenbaum (I have no idea if that if the German word for 'one'. I'm pulling that from a special place.)

Like so. I had grand plans of doing a log cabin like square, with the stitchery in the place of a fussy cut piece of material. But I was putting it off, and putting it off, and then I got a delivery of lovely lovely felt from winterwood. Their customer service? Excellent. They bend over backwards for me and my demanding ways. And the felt? Like butter. Lush and soft and I could just roll around in it all day. Yum. My fibre love is renewed yet again.

So, anyway, I decided to just whizz it through the sewing machine (with green thread, which happened to be in there already. None of the ornaments are green. Nope. I'm so professional.) and stuff them.

I think it looks lovely, if I do say so myself. Then I ruined the polished look by letting some two year old scrawl on the back:

I don't care that it looks dodgy. I love them. I hope their new owners do, too. Here is a very dodgy photo of the other two. Santa on the left for sister, santa on the right for mother.

Then I hung them on FO numero three:

Yes, in fact, I AM claiming my christmas tree/branch as an FO. So what about it? It might look like it's only one step up from a Charlie Brown christmas tree, it might be in a vase filled with rocks, it might look like it's about to topple. But those rocks are in fact brick chips, from the property I grew up on - they say 'home' to me. The two branches (one pine, to give that authentic smell, one she-oak, or native pine, to look pretty and be true blue) were grown on said property, and chosen by my dad especially for me. And do you see that bright yellow runner it's sitting on?

My mummy made it for me that dismal christmas I spent in China. It's bee-yu-ti-ful.

This christmas - this whole year - has been a search for meaning. My gifts are almost all handmade. The ornaments on my tree each have a story. The things that have warmed my heart have been the little things, the things that make Christmas a specail time for me, even though I am no longer a practising Catholic, even though I usually hate everything Christmas seems to stand for these days - shopping, commercialism, buying empty, plastic presents, sitting with people you don't really like pretending to be jolly.

And, because I grew up in Lobethal (before it was commercial and toursity and the locals got fed up with it)

It's not Christmas without lights

They make me happy, from the inside out. They are warm and soft and I actually like them more than my regular overhead lights. A note to any aspiring renovators: IKEA is great. Just not for lights. Or curtains. Somet things shouldn't be scrimped on.

To add to the parade of christmassy items, I started an advent calendar, a la this one. Yes, I know it's halfway through December, but I thought I would give it to my little sister for Christmas, with a promise to restock it every year with goodies. The background is a $5 blanket from the Salvos. It's just acrylic, but whatever. The rest of the materials I had (Maybe I'll use some of my felt. Maybe not).

And the DNA scarf I am knitting for my dad.

I am furtherer than this now - I'm knitting the second repeat of five on the other end. It looks great, although I think it'll need some firm blocking. I love the colour - it's hard to see, but it's sort of shimmery blue. It's called 'midnight tweed'. I'm thinking of using it to make a hemlock blanket. Or make to make myself one of these:

D00ds. Tkaing photos of yourself is hard. That one above was the best I could do, pitiful attempt as it is. Also: I feel stupid doing it. Well, welcome to life, I suppose. The one below is an unfortunate shot, but I need to use it to get your advice:

Is that garter stitch line placed alright, in relation to the boobular area? Or is it weird? I definitely want to knit one for myself. I'm enamoured.

And finally, Jen is not feeling the love. You should go read her blog. She is funny and she knits and she has two j'adorable cats, and she takes photos of them and then tells you stuff about how she manipulated them (the photos, not that cats) which is useful and interesting. And sometimes she talks about how to choose colours that make you look good, in a really scientific way, which I respond well to (none of this 'you're an autumn' shite) and she says 'y'all', cos she's from the south. And she likes things fried. And she knits.

So go read her blog.

Friday, December 07, 2007


The last few weeks have not been great. Not, you know, tragically bad or anything, just a low level of not-great-ness. We had a big thing at work on the 30th, and the two weeks leading up to it were packed. Since I'm admin, that means everything that anyone is stressed about in the whole building, ends up with us. I managed to upset a couple of people by not filtering my comments as well as I usually do. It's a bit of a running joke that I'm the bitter one around here. Most people don't realise that I hold back. A lot. And sometimes, it's just too hard, especially when people insist on making stupid comments and then looking at you, waiting for your reaction. Or come to me with the smallest thing, like I was their mum - or their brain. 'Thinking is hard. I know! Kate will think for me!'

It's hard to hold back. But it needs to be done. Working on that.

It doesn't help that all the straight men in my workplace (all, like, three of them) are soooooo sensitive. I suppose this is usually a good thing. Attitude adjustment: commencing.

The roses. They has a smell...

I had yesterday off, as a sick day. It was fantastic. I didn't do anything the whole day. And I feel so much better. Every phone call is more pleasant, every interaction is no longer a trial, talking to people doesn't involve holding my breath and counting to ten.

I've been feeling crowded, harried, rushed. It's not like I have a family to organise and run after, or even another person to fit myself around. Why should I be feeling so short of time, when if fact time is one of the luxuries of my life? I hate it. I hate feeling like I'm always running and never getting anywhere, never getting anything done, at work or at home. I need to look for a new job, because it's a huge part of the problem. That's scary. I hate jobsearching, and I love where I am and don't want to leave. It's also sometimes hard to see what I am good at, and where that could take me.

I was talking about this with one of my friends and she said 'I remember you being down around this time last year, too'. This gave me pause for thought. I love the holiday season, and I never for a minute thought that I could be one of those people who gets down around christmas. I realise that the general rush and panic of the season doesn't help with the harried feeling, but holiday blues? That's just not me. Only, maybe it is.

I think it comes down to this. The year is drawing to a close. New Years doesn't really mean anything to me, but chirstmas, my birthday 4 days before, the whole season and the month of December, is a marker. Every year, I know what I was doing then. I know how I was feeling. Last year, for instance, I felt crap. I was living at home, I'd finished my honours degree, and I didn't know what the new year would hold. Turns out it was pretty good. Maybe the next one will be, too.

It also gives me perspective on the year behind me. What have I done? Not much. What would I like to have done? Where did all this time fall through the cracks?

I think working 9-5, 5 days a week, is always going to leave me a bit harried. There'll always be bad weeks. But being conscious of how I use my time, even if that is to purposefully waste it if that is what I want to do, means that at the start of another week, I don't wonder where the weekend went. At the start, or end, of a year, I don't wonder how on earth I managed to spend that much money and waste that much time.

Crafting is part of that. It is still, and hopefully always will be, a leisure activity for me. But it's one that not only allows me time to think and reflect while I do it, it also gives me a marker of my time at the end of it. I guess I never feel like knitting half a jumper and then frogging it is a waste of time, because I still feel like I have made progress on the project. That mistake, or one like it, was going to happen. To have made and corrected it is a step in the right direction.

Not only that, but crafting hleps me measure my pace. I can only knit so fast. There are only so many stitches I can make in a given minute. Each second can only fit so much movement. When everything is going too fast, when I feel like I can't grab a hold of everything, like it's just too hard to plant my feet and hang on, running yarn through my fingers and watching the stitches form brings my internal clock back to where it needs to be. And at the end - a thing! That can be worn! And bragged about!

Speaking of. Here is the requested modelled shot of my sister's wrap cardi, thanks to Claire, my cousin:
It was very bright.

And the back. Do you like my use of props?
I find a mop in the background livens up any picture.
I've also finished Cobblestone. Here is a shot of it when it was almost finished. The light was too low and everything was blurry - this is the best photo I could get! (Check out my little crafting nook in the background. I was subletting that room, but my friend doesn't need it anymore. The little extra money will be missed, but the minute I found out I moved my sewing machine in there. I think it's a fair trade...)
Also, my sister doesn't know how to pose for a photo without wiggling around. You'll have to wait for after christmas for a modelled shot of the finished project, I think. Proper FO report then, too.

I'm going to take it over to my Gma's, since she expressed an interest in making one for herself. I tried it on me, and I actually thought it looked pretty good, although the garter stitch starts strategically just above my nipple level. Lovely. I'm seriously considering making one for myself, though. It was a very pleasant knit, even though I grafted one of the sleeves wrong, so it's two stitches off centre. Shhh, they'll never notice if we don't tell them.

Just a gratuitous shot of my sister, being insufferably cool after her audition for the Adelaide Youth orchestra. She wishes she was John Lennon.

The other FO is my mittens for my bff in China, from a free pattern by Debbie Bliss on Knitting Daily. This is what happens when you knit the flappy bit according to the pattern:

I frogged it... actually, my mum frogged it, I was too frustrated with all the unpicking of the seams this would require, and it is actually very little yarn in there. Then I knit another one. Like this:

And with the duplicate stitch on the top (It's less lumpy since I blocked them):

Schnazzy, no? I didn't have any worsted weight white yarn, so I doubled up some DK yarn, and it worked OK.


  • I knit the thumb in the round using magic loop until the decreases, then did the decreases flat and sewed up the tip. A little clumsy, but better than the lumpy seam I got before.
  • For the opening flap, I knit until 4 rows before you are supposed to BO for the flap. The I did 1 x 1 ribbingto replicate the cuff, for four rows. Then I bound off. For the top part of the flap I knit two extra rows, so that it would overlap and not leave a huge gaping hole, this negating the purpose of mittens as they flap in the breeze.

Obviously, the left and right ones are a bit different in row count, etc. I can't tell you exactly what I did - basically, I fudged it. I think it was a success. The top is a bit lumpier than perfect, but I think it's a reasonable trade off for functional mittens. If she likes them, I might make some more. Sinc she's the only person I know currently residing in a cold climate, and I have a hankering to make these. And these. And maybe even these, although as we all know, pirates are a long-dead meme. The internet is brutal.

And I also blocked my Branching Out scarf, but the photos of that (modelled by another cousin - they come in handy) are still on my camera.

AND, I've cast on for the DNA scarf, which I saw on Ravelry and immediately pegged as perfect for my Dad. I cast Cobblestone off (three times. I cast off tight. Eventually I went with a ribbed cast off, which makes it a bit less neat, but since it was the only way anyone's head will ever fit through that, I'm happy with it) and had a bit of a panic, since it meant that not only did I not have a jumper on the needles, I ONLY HAD ONE PROJECT, and that was only a SOCK (hedgerows are halfway down the last foot. Slowly, slowly). So I picked up some Bendigo yarn, ordered for the purpose, and I cast on for a cabled scarf. I'm almost up to the end of the first cabled part, and I'm really enjoying it, although it wont be coming on the bus with me any time soon.

I should blog more often. I feel much more productive, now!

Also: Dear Blogger, I hate you.