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Surprise packages are always fun. It’s also fun if you forgot you’ve ordered something and it arrives in the mail. No, I can’t blame Xmas party boozing, then online purchasing (if you drink and click, you’re a bloody idiot!)… I joined the Knitabulous Yarn Club a month or so back when I was in the middle of a studying maelstrom after some enabling through Ravelry. And promptly forgot all about it until I received a pre-warning email from Knitabulous. And promptly forgot that email when a strange package arrived in my letter box.
I have not joined a yarn club before and I have been looking for a local club, because the overseas postage charges can make those clubs far too expensive. I have admired Knitabulous lace patterns from afar, like the Rain pattern from Yarn Magazine and her Red Emperor (search on Ravelry for the free download) pattern for 2008 Olympics.
knitabulous club #1
The package contained a sock yarn pattern ‘Shantaram’ (a book I have yet to finish by a master story teller – or bullshit artist, who can tell?!), an interestingly lacy pattern and sock yarn in a vibrant blue and green shade named ‘Salwaar Kameez’. There were also a couple of little goodies, including a lip balm, some plastic dpns, a piece of dark choc (mmm my fave…scoffed long ago) and the heady scents of a chai tea bag to add to the Indian experience.
The colours are almost too vibrant to hide away in a pair of shoes but the pattern looks right up my alley, I may have to play along properly for this first installment…there are 2 more to come! Yay!

Umm…yeah my blogging every day in November went a bit NQR and now it’s almost mid December. Oh well…

What is the preferred number of WIPs on the go at any given time?

I find some days I want something complex and challenging to occupy my mind and some days something mind numbing to occupy my hands while I talk or watch tv.

I usually have at least 2 WIPs on the go for this purpose. Lace for the ambitious days and at the moment, sock yarn blanket squares for the mellow-out knitting. Hats are good or top down jumpers with acres of knitting in the round. Easy knitting is also good for watching SBS, (subtitles) and probably my most watched tv station.

And then there are projects which start off requiring your full attention and then turn easy, like Liesl. For my first Liesl, I struggled with the first section but once I had moved into the main body, it was plain sailing, easy-peasy knitting, perfect for a subtitled film or knitting at a BBQ while keeping up with the conversation and with a bit of booze in me.

I am currently knitting That Little Scarf as my complex lace (thanks Lynne for letting me know that no rest rows = knitted lace). The ‘no rest rows’ makes it ever more brain straining.
Here is a pic from a week or two ago. I am further advanced now.
that little smokey scarf
The photo is a bit blurry but it shines like silver and looks quite sophisticated. I don’t know when I would wear something so classy! I am sure I will find an occasion.

But of course, I am no saint and there are probably another 3-4 WIPs hiding in my knitting basket, ignored and unappreciated for months now. Sometimes you start knitting and the project does turn out like you expected or you get distracted by something new and shiny. Are neglected WIPs like spurned lovers? The boy who seemed like a good idea at the time but it wasn’t as fun as you imagined, so you’ve stopped returning his calls?

Daily blogging is turning into an interesting exercise. I have to think of something new each day because unfortunately I am not flying through the projects, finishing something new every day!

Knitspot is one of my favourite sites to visit. As you would know, I am a bit of a sucker for lace and Anne Hanson has a lovely variety of lace shawls, scarfs and modestly titled ‘little nothings‘. Her patterns are pretty and nature inspired (Hillflowers, Honey Baby and Poinsettia) with the occasional exotic (Alhambra and Hamsa ) or geometric themes (Hypoteneuse Shawl) thrown in.

Her husband rocks the shawls too, showing that a knitted wrap can be manly. Although he is pretty stylish and I can’t imagine many other men pulling this look off. And Anne is pretty damn styling herself! The colours she chooses for her knits are autumnal and soothing, yet pretty and classic.

Oh and she has socks too. She was only a guest at Sock Summit!

Her blog is delightful to read, as she grow vegies and creates patterns. As someone who pines for a garden of their own, she makes me quite jealous!

The AUD to US$ exchange rate is 93c, so get out there and buy some patterns!

Slackness on the blogging front. I have started a Masters which is eating up much of the knitting time, but I am still finding time for some project finishing.
Mid semester, I made an appearance at the new SnB at Morris&Sons in the CBD on Thursday night. A good chuckle and a takeaway decadent hot choc from the Lindt Cafe across the road (mmm) between stitches.

Finished an Ishbel. Cute as a button like Ysolda herself. Made from Wired for Fibre – Elizabeth in Royal. Here’s a photo showing the lace detail.
ishbel - showing lace

And another showing the true colours plus a pair of Monkeys for a friend.
recent knitting - 13 Sept

On the needles is another Ysolda pattern, Liesl. I have had to rip back about fifty billion times when starting this but now I am in the swing, it is easy peasy bosum squeezy. About three-quarters of the way through and already planning a second version in black.

New Knitty out. Nothing really tickling my fancy but the Kernel scarf is the cutest.

I have just got back from some time overseas, including 9 nights in New York…which meant YARN STORES!
I visited four shops; Lion Brand Studio, Purl Soho, School Products and Downtown Yarns. Here are my thoughts on each…

Lion Brand Yarn Studio
I get the Lion Brand emails and when I think Lion Brand, I think acrylic. But the Lion Brand Studio (like a concept store) was a nice surprise. Yes, there was acrylic there but the focus ‘yarn of the month’ was recycled cotton. The shop is quite large, with a wall of yarns for you to test, snip off a bit and swatch away. There were also computers to search the Lion Brand pattern range (but also allowed access to Ravelry!) and print out the free patterns. There was a large table for hanging out and knitting and lots of non-acrylic yarns (including the LB range). A nice space but as you would guess, only Lion Brand products on sale. Purchases – a skein of Sock Ease and some of the recycled cotton.

Purl Soho
Purl is a tiny shop packed to the rafters with yarn. There was a large table in the middle of the room for hanging out but the shop packs out with people easily (and I was there on a Monday afternoon!). There is no labelling on the yarns, so you need to pull out each skein to check what it is and the price. Price were a bit high too. There was a lot of lovely stuff in Purl but it was more on the luxury end. Purchases – nothing.

School Products
This shop is on the 3rd floor and you need to buzz to get in. Once getting through the door, I was the only person browsing. School Products had an interesting range of unlabelled yarns from cashmere to yak to cotton, available by the pound or by the skein. There was also the full range of Karabella Yarns but little other products. The space was kind of unfriendly but there was some great yarn on sale. Purchases – skein of hand dyed pale green cashmere/silk/merino (already cast on for Alhambra) and 2 skeins of a honey coloured Koigu

Downtown Yarns
Downtown Yarns is a cute little space on Avenue A. It had a real friendly community feel about it and a great, but smallish, selection of different yarns. There was a table for sittin’ and knittin’. This was my fave yarn shop in New York. Purchases – 3 skeins of Cascade 220 (one grey -already cast on for Zig-Zag Beanie and 2 green heather), a pink skein of Malabrigo Lace and another skein that might be a present for someone who might read this blog.

Purchases…
new york stash enhancement

And since I have been away, I have a new LYS. I popped into the new Morris and Sons Melbourne store yesterday. It is going to be a great addition to my yarn life. I liked the in-house range of yarns, especially excited to see a large variety of 2ply with 700m skeins…perfect for my lace addiction. But I have a bit of yarn to get through first!

After a two-hour train trip from Bendigo to Melbourne, I am now at the decreases for the toe on the RPM sock! I think I am going to finish before New Year.
As New Year’s Eve comes around, it makes me think about 2009 and my knitting resolutions.
Firstly, I will revisit my 2008 resolutions – entrelac (done!), lace (done!), cables (done!), toe-up socks (done!) and dyeing (NO!). Overall 2008 has been a successful year of learning new knitting stuff. Highlights being the big items; Goth Mermaid Shawl and Peter Davison jumper. But sometimes the simple things are favourites, I love my Noro Striped Scarf and slipped whilst at Wool Baa recently and bought the yarn for another.

Ok, in 2009 I want to try;
– colourwork : mittens for the cold walk to work on wintry Melbourne mornings
– hats : not really a hat person (I got lots of hair!) but want to make a slouchy beret
– dyeing
– spinning
The list is shorter this year, but I want to branch out into other fibre arts associated with knitting.
Also
– more swatching
– pay more attention to row and stitch counts when making garments (jumpers and cardigans are not my friends at the moment!)
– knit from the ever increasing stash (lace weight yarn is so easy to buy!)

What are yours?

I can’t count but I love my new lace blocking kit.
I was knitting away merrily on the Hexacomb Cardigan, splitting for the fronts almost to the shoulder when I realised my stitch count was waaay out. Unfixably out. So I ripped it back and started something else. When something annoys you like that, it is better to start something new than try again straight away. I cast on the Acton cardigan in Serenity black…it is knitting up super fast but I am not really liking it. I think my heart is in the lace space now.
I bought a blocking kit from the lovely Daphne at The Knittery (has she had her baby yet? Ooh website says yes! Congrats Daphne!!) and I absolutely love it. The wire and t-pins make such a difference. Here is the Tiger Eyes scarf being blocked.
DSC00163
My next lace project is the Adamas shawl from Mimknits. I am planning to do it in some Bendigo 2 ply Venetian (appears to be a discontinued colour). I have heard that you don’t get the same effect from a machine washable treated yarn but I am willing to risk it. Ooh big risk taker. Wish me luck.

I have been a slack blogger of late. No excuse.

I have finished the shawl! Woo hoo! I blocked it once. But I don’t think I was mean enough, so I blocked it again. I am tickled pink with the results. The first picture is from the first blocking but I think gives the best colour representation. The colours are very hard to photograph! I present to you the Cascading Leaves Shawl in Goth Mermaid (custom dye) Live2Knit 4ply Elizabeth.

After the second blocking, looking forward to giving it to my friend!

I hav just sent off for a lace blocking kit and am totally lace bug bitten. I am finding it very difficult to stop myself from casting on another lace project straight away.

Wot’s on the Needs

  • still plugging away on the Tiger’s Eye Lace Scarf. This is helping to keep the lace bug in check at the moment.
  • Cast on Hexacomb Cardigan in Paton’s Serenity in Pink with Black contrasting colour. I like the bamboo/cotton Serenity but I am not quite sure about the yarn with the pattern. In one moment, I dislike it because I don’t think it shows the hexacomb pattern properly and the material is quite drapey, then I catch sight of my work in progress in another light and I think it looks lovely. Ah well, let’s see how it turns out.

Yarn Purchases
Took a little trip to Wool Baa last week and bought the pink Serenity and;

  • More Serenity in black for Acton
  • Centolavaggi – 1400m of lace weight extra fine merino in black. Mmm, so soft, need to find the right pattern for that one!

Selfishness
I have decided not to knit any Christmas presents this year. Looking back over the year so far, I think I have only knitted myself a jumper, a scarf and one pair of socks in 2008. Compared to the cardigans, socks, jumpers, hats, headband, pair of slippers and a shawl I have knitted for others. Generally I am a pretty self-centred person, I come first but knitting has turned into an altruistic hobby. Perhaps as my knitting skills increase, I want to knit more impressive and complex gifts for friends and family, but I only have the same knitting time. My new ethos will be to knit something big and fancy for each family member’s birthday rather that squeeze in many small gifts at the end of the year.

So I have decided for the next few months, it is all knitting for me (except for the Tigers Eye Scarf – last present for the year). Phew! Feels like a weight of guilt being lifted from me. I DON’T WANT TO KNIT FOR CHRISTMAS!
I am thinking about what I want to knit and wear, the two cardigans and then another shawl for me. But there are some many pretty ones, I don’t know which one to choose. I pour over my knitting books while eating my muesli in the morning, trying to decide what next!

News – Mega SnB Melbourne Meet-up
Raveller Kebeni has organised an event for Melbourne SnBs.

TIME 11am onwards
WHERE Melbourne Botanical Gardens Meeting at entrance opposite the Shrine of Remembrance just past GATE F and the Childrens’ Garden. There is a visitor centre, toilets and cafe there.
WHEN Sunday 16th November
WHAT TO BRING knitting, hat, sunscreen, smile and picnic if required

So, announcing the “We give a KNIT about others!” Please don’t feel you have to do this but there will be a basket/box/bag at the event where those who choose to can deposit a toy they have knitted. These will then be donated to the MELBOURNE TOY RUN to be distributed to disadvantaged children.

This map
also has instructions on how to get there via public transport

It is lovely and sunny outside this morning, spring is in the offing! My mind has turned to spring knitting and tossing aside the jumpers. The two spring/summer cardigans at the top of my queue are;

Both are cropped style, perfect for spring/summer Melbourne weather and covering up against air-con on casual Friday in my office.

I am planning to knit Acton in Serenity – Patons Bamboo/Cotton in black and unsure about what to knit the Hexacomb Cardi in (thinking of a pale pink with a black or chocolate brown trim). But this brings me to the next exciting spring knitting announcements; new colours/yarns by Australian Country Spinners!

Eagle eyes on Ravelry spied some new colours and yarns in their LYS. I have yet to see them in the flesh (popped into Clegs yesterday but yarns have been pushed aside for the hat and fascinator displays for Spring Carnival).

  • new Natural Cotton 100% undyed cotton in 8ply and 4ply in a range of subtle earthy colours (of course!) I quite like the pale green.
  • new colours in 100% Bamboo, including some bright blue, orange & green and a black

I can’t wait to see them in my hand. I might pop down to Wool Baa next weekend and have a looksie. There are also some great new supporting pattern books (although has anyone ever actually knitted a bikini?).

Wot’s on the Needs

  • Tiger’s Eye Scarf – had a disaster with the Blue Bayou Mitred Stole, the yarn I chose (Live2Knit Elizabeth in Smoke) just did not work with the pattern. I spoke to the gift recipient, we logged onto Ravelry and I showed her some options. Yay a chance to do more lace. I have completed a couple of repeats and it is looking lovely
  • Socks – almost finished Uneven Ribbing sock in Jigsaw Heirloom, which is looking great too.
  • The Goth Mermaid Shawl is still on the needles, I just to bind off. Maybe tonight during dvd time.

Other Cool Stuff

The new issue of Yarn magazine appeared in my letter box last week. Whilst it is the best Australian knitting mag by far, the new editors have not quite got the stylish look and layout of the Barbara Coddington issues. They still look a bit amateurish. But aside from that criticism, the content is pretty good with a combination of reviews, patterns, interviews and instructional articles. Especially in love with the Rain Stole by Ailsa Daly. The article deconstructing the argyle was very informative. And the ads are always good (I never usually say that about ads. I watch mainly SBS and ABC and listen to RRR to avoid most ads) I can find out about new, small local yarn producers who I would prefer to support.

Another new pattern that jumped straight onto my queue comes from another new online knitting magazines. We knitters are totally spoilt by the generous of spirit (and time) of people who produce these magazines (Yarn included!). Anyway…the pattern which fell into my queue is Gossamer Garden Stole (in the lace vein again!) by Lia Liang. Not a fan of the purple it is knitted in but I can see the beauty of the pattern. Also cool is Buttercup by Melissa Wehrle. Excellent stuff.


Goth Mermaid Shawl in progress

Originally uploaded by knotmad

Melbourne has been putting on some perfect knitting weather for the past week or so. Intermittent rain, cold and a great excuse for not leaving the house.

Wot’s On My Needs?

  • Well I have been very monogamous, trying to finish off the Goth Mermaid Shawl (Cascading Leaves Shawl with Live2Knit Elizabeth in Goth Mermaid colourway). Partly monogamous because I want to get this finished soon, partly because I am thoroughly enjoying knitting it! I have been bitten by the lace bug and I have even blocked yet. This picture is from last week and it does not accurately show the black and green handpaint from Live2Knit. I am close to the end, I have done an extra repeat and I am about 6 rows away from casting off. At 300 odd stitches, each row is taking me 20 minutes!

I am almost sad to cast off. But I have rediscovered some lace weight in my stash, been reading Victorian Lace Today while eating my muesli before work and dreaming about my next lace project. It’s funny how some things in your life need to come along at the right time to click. I have tried lace a few other times and it was a big old mess. This time, it has stuck. I have had a similar experience with yoga, I tried a few classes but nothing spoke to me until I found the right teacher and the right school. Now it is a part of my daily life, like knitting. Maybe it’s the pattern (easy and fun), maybe it’s the occasion (a shawl for my one of my best friends’ wedding), but it has been great.

  • there are some other socks on my needles but little progress there.

Other stuff

  • IK Fall 2008

Got my first subscription copy of Interweave Knits in the post. Being the massive stickybeak that I am, I had already checked out the preview patterns online. Maybe I should avoid doing that next time, leave a little surprise. Hmm…but can I control myself? The standout pattern for me is the Little Blue Sweater. This is just the type of jumper I like to wear. I have a small waist and the longer jumpers make me look hippy. Although I would extend the sleeves to full length. I hate this short sleeved (or even 3/4 sleeved) jumper trend, especially for winter. It is totally impractical. But I digress…Whisper Stripe Pullover is stunning (too hard basket though), AfterThought Dart Cardigan (pretty but I would shorten the length which might wreck the line of the design) and the Knotty or Knice socks are going straight in the Ravelry queue. I don’t get into the brown chunky knits (I have a thing against brown) or fingerless gloves.

There is a great educational article on different types of wool and how the ply construction affects the stitch definition. I have heard more experienced knitters talking about this type of thing but now seeing swatch examples, I understand. A great review of knitting cottage industry books. I am quite interesting in the regional knitting styles.

Perhaps because I had seen the patterns before, the magazine did feel quite short. Have the page numbers decreased?