Friday, January 18, 2008


Oh, ravelry. How I love you. I might not be able to get away with actually knitting at work, but a few quick peeks at ravelry, and I might as well be.

Looking on ravelry and listening to Stash and Burn has been fuelling my knitting fantasies. My queue on Ravelry is nothing. nothing! This week I have regularly worked myself up into a frenzy, in which it seems not only desirable, but also sensible and necessary, to knit an aran weight tshirt. For an Australian climate.

But some things have stuck. Like Tempest. Do you think that would look ridiculous? I almost don't care. I want it. And Milicent, I want badly. Badly. Except sans sparkles.

I also want to knit baby things for my friend who is pregnant, but not in baby colours. They're all so blah. I am going to get some white baby wool and attempt to dye it using Jelly crystals. If it works, I might try other yarns. If you look on my ravelry page, you'll notice that most of my knits are in Bendigo Mills yarn. This is because it is good, and it is cheap. It enables me to knit the things I want without breaking the bank. Yes, luxury yarn is wonderful, and there are some things in my knitting queue (in my head, not in Ravelry) that will requre spun silk and kid mohair. But for your everyday jumper or jacket, I am not willing to spend $200. And then knit it. And then, it's not quite right. The only bad thing is that their colours are limited, and sometimes a little boring. And acid dyes are scary and complicated.

Speaking of luxury yarns, I am thinking of knitting a wrap/stole/shawl thing for my cousin, who is getting married at the end of 2009. She's pretty sensitive, so I'm thinking pure silk. I don't know what colours though. Or what pattern. Conundrum. Perhaps I will have to buy 'victorian lace today' or something.

Anyway, that was all extraneous. What I was really blogging for was to tell you this story.

Wednesday night was knitting group night. I left reasonably early - I was tired. While I was waiting for the bus, I was knitting on the-sock-that-would-not-die, aka the hedgerow sock. (It's a quick knit - it just kind of got pushed to the backburner during the christmas knitting madness, and hasn't recovered since. I am sooooooo close, though, so it's become my bus knitting). A young guy walked past with his very trendy-looking, pink haired girlfriend. I could see out of the corner of my eye that he was watching me, and he turned and slowed. Eventually, he was standing stock still. He stood there so long that I had to look up - he was watching my hands.

'What are you making?' he asked. American accent. He mimed knitting as he asked - maybe he thought I couldn't hear over my iPod. I was only listening to Cast On, Brenda's voice is nice and quiet.

'A sock.'

'A sock! Awesome!' He seemed genuinely pumped. He shot me a double handed thumbs up, and kept walking. The woman on the next bench and I shared a grin.

I do not generally enjoy encounters over my knitting, unless you are a knitter or crafter yourself, so we cna engage in an actual conversation. I don't really care that your granmda used to knit. Or even, really, that you've tried to knit and it just didn't take, or that you wish you had the time. I don't like talking to strangers - I don't know how to react, and my privacy always feels invaded. I always feel like they mean that I am old fashioned, or that obviously I am not as busy and important as themselves, or that they are waiting for me to offer to teach them (SO not interested. Sorry)

But this one has made me grin every time I think about it.

A sock. Awesome.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Lessons for a new year

On the last post, Jessica suggested that it was time for some maths. She was right.

The 2+2 type maths is not the problem. The problem is, that I never get to that stage. I look at the yarn, I look at the pattern, and somehow my brain thinks 'it will be alright on the night'. That somehow the Gods of knitting will magic away any imperfections or problems, and everything will be coming up roses. When you start with the wrong yarn on the wrong needles, well... you do the maths.

After writing the last post (and, dudes, I think Norah Gaughan commented on my blog. Dooooooooods. I haven't been that excited since Franklin Habit replied to a message I sent him on Ravelry. I think I might be pathetic) I thought about it. I realised I sounded whiny in my head. I didn't mean to. I meant to share my frustration at things not working out, but since the reason they didn't work out was my own carelessness, I guess it came out more petulant than I liked.

I went home. I looked at my projects. At the projects I had knit on so much that I had actually worn down the fingerprint on my left index finger (fingers are hard to photograph, fyi) and given myself a blister where the needle rests on my right hand. I took a deep breath. I frogged them. Both of them.

Goodbye, beautiful slip stitch

I fully intend to go back. I will order 5 ply yarn from good old Bendigo for the slipover, which does give me more colour choices. It won't be alpaca, but in case I hadn't noticed, I live in Australia. Cold is not that big an issue. I looked up the prices of Rowan Calmer and, I'm sorry. I am not paying $20 a ball for a 10 ball jumper. It's not happening. But Jo Sharp does a part microfibre cotton that is about $7 a ball. That's do-able. I have a leftover half ball from a previous project, and I did a nice fat swatch in it. Gauge I have got.

Then, as the yarn sat, malignantly, in its rewound balls, I got out all of my books and magazines, and looked for something else to make out of them.

This part was fun.

The cotton was a no-brainer. I had been tossing up doing one of the boleros from Jo Sharp's book - I think it's number 2? The summery one, anyways. So I cast on for that. the cotton is still a bit gapey - I really think it's not quite DK weight - but it won't matter for this.

I had more trouble deciding for the alpaca. Everything that was alpaca was either a thicker yarn, or a silk blend. Plus, I only have two balls of each colour. I was/am prepared to buy more, but preferably not more of both. I was looking for something small, or dual coloured. I was thinking of the Henley perfected from the Winter IK. Like, maybe I could do the body one colour and the lace another colour? But, I had another yarn in mind for that. And also, it looks like 5 ply to me, even though... well, in a minute.

I finally found two things I wanted to knit. One is the Lift and Separate from Big Girl Knits. I found someone on ravelry (oh, ravelry. How I love you. You are the best tool a girl could wish for, in Getting Things Right Before You Start) who has knit it in the Bendigo Alpaca. I sent her a message. She said she loves it, although it is extremely warm! So I thought I would do that with the fawn colour. If it turns out too blah, maybe I'll embroider it with something.

For the green, I settled on the Fairy Net Blouse from Summer 2006 IK. It's alpaca silk blend, and I've only got alpaca, so it won't look the same. And I'm not doing the netty thing over the top. So basically, it's an entirely new top. But I think it'll look good. I'm halfway through the armhole shaping of the back, and I've already done the calculations to do short rows for the front, so it doesn't pull upwards. But I'm a bit worried I'll run out of yarn.

See, it's knit in Blue Sky Alpaca Alpaca Silk. On the pattern in ravelry, for the FNB, it says that it's DK/Sport weight, and the gauge is pretty much DK weight. Which is fantastic, because that's what I've got. And yes, I've swatched. Although I'm half a stitch per inch more. And even though my row gauge is bang on, when I got to the end of the shaping, where it's supposed to be 12", it was only just over 11. Yarn substitution. I guess I'll just have to live with a little variance.

But the source of my confusion is the pattern profile on ravelry for the Henley Perfected says unequivacally that it's sport weight. Which makes more sense to me, because the lace looks way too fine to be DK. I guess the yarn is right in between, or it depends on the needle size, or whatever.

Anyway, now I'm a bit worried about yarn, as in, will I have enough? I'm almost done the back, and almost done the first ball, too. I'm not doing the net, so I should have enough, but... still worried. Which is kind of good, since I always knit faster if I'm just not sure. I hate suspense. Still, it looks good, and the yarn is soft soft soft. I guess I could see my way clear to ordering another ball. It's just the principle of the thing, you know?

In other new, today's xkcd comic cracked me up. I, of course, googled it. Here are the results. Padded, of course, by all the knit bloggers who loved it, too. I wonder if there are any knit blogging accidents? There will be now, I suppose.

Friday, January 04, 2008

On Gauge

By which I mean 'on' as in, 'regarding'. Like, 'On the Rights of Man' or 'The Wealth of Nations'. Because 'on' as in, 'correctly using', I am not.

So, I had yarn ordered for after christmas, so I could start on me-stuff, after the christmas rush. If you're ravelried, you can see my profile here, although it's still pictureless because the photos? On my camera.

I started the Phyllo Yoked thingy from knitting Nature, which is Love love love. It is done in Rowan Clamer, which is a 'DK to light worsted' weight yarn. The gauge is pretty much Dk wieght. The thing is. Either the cotton I'm using is really thin, or my gauge hates cotton. My gauge is massive. I went down a needle size, and it's still a bit loose. Only, I didn't have any smaller needles with me, so I plunged in. Now, second thoughts are bubbling to the surface. It's cotton. It'll stretch. It's a bit big, anyway. You'll never wear it. Aaaargh! I'll need to go home, reassess the gauge/size issues, and think about what I need to do. If I end up ripping, I'm gogint o start it again in the round. Maybe I could knit the next size up, but, like, three needle sizes down? I hate gauge issues.

The other one is this. I started Bryant's Slipover, which I have been eying off for months. (It's not actually fair isle, it's a slip stitch pattern. It's sooooo easy) It's done in Alpaca, and dammit, I wanted alpaca. So I ordered four balls of Bendigo Woolen Mills Alpaca, since that was in my price range. Except it's DK weight - 8 ply. Not 5 ply, or whatever the hell that is in American. So I've gone down a needle size, and probably should have gone down two, except the only needles I had that were that small were DPNs. For socks. So, the needles are small. The gauge is tight. It's alpaca. That thing is going to be WARM. It's going to be so warm, I don't know if it will be wearable. I also need to reasses the size issue on that, because the gauge is still a little off. Although given how compact the fabric is going to be, a little extra room might eb a good thing.

So my choices with this one is this: keep going. Or, rip it, put the alpaca in the stash and do god knows what with it, and buy new yarn (in 5 ply) for the project. It won't be as nice, though. The only 5 ply yarn in my budget is bendigo, and all their 5 ply yarns are... not as nice. Not as pretty. Certainly not as... alpaca. Well, maybe I could try Elann, but then the postage will be extreme.

Cross. That's what I am.

Anyway, in conclusion, I hope you all had a good break (if you had one) and a fantastic whichever-celebration-you-celebrate. Mine didn't suck, and I'm happy with that. I will get my act together and resume proper blogging, with photos and everything... shortly.