RSS

along these lines

Eldest Son might have coped with pink but he'd never have worn green

Eldest Son might have coped with pink but he’d never have worn green

I said I’d share some photos of the Noro Silk Garden scarf. It’s perhaps the most expensive scarf I’ve ever made. It has long been a WISP that, you might recall, started life as a 40th-birthday present for Eldest Son. I was howled down when it came to the colour choice and ended up knitting him something much plainer. It’s true that perhaps the green would have been a turn-off for him. The difficulty, of course, was knowing quite how much green was in the mix, since both were described as predominantly blue. It’s not an exciting knit – it’s a long, straight, striped scarf when all’s said and done! – but the colours play nicely together. I blocked it, so it has softened and bloomed very nicely. The thick/thin nature of the yarn has made for some bumpy bits of edging here and there, but I personally think it adds interest.

I used four balls of yarn, two in one dye lot and the other two in a close but not identical dye lot. I couldn’t tell you the dye lot numbers, I’m sorry (I seem to have lost the ball bands). I can tell you that I cast on 42 stitches and, using size 4mm/UK8 needles, worked a 1X1 rib till I ran out of yarn. I did a crochet-hook cast on so that the ends would match, slipped the first stitch of each row and worked two rows from each ball, carrying the spare yarn tidily behind the slipped stitches, but that’s about it. The most interesting thing about this whole project, apart from the “Who’s going to get it?” saga, is that the needles I used were the first pair of knitting needles I ever owned. They were good then and, 50-or-so years later, they still do a fine job.

I hope you’ve been able to finish some of your WISPs this weekend?

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 21, 2014 in Knitting

 

Tags: , , , , ,

how hard could it be?

Colour-matching stripes as well as aligning them? It's harder than you might think.

Colour-matching stripes as well as aligning them? It’s harder than you might think.

Do you ever find yourself asking that question? How hard could it be for someone else to clean the loo or change the toilet roll or do any of the dozens of domestic chores that evidence suggests can only be done by one person and that would never be either of the males about the house? Yep, me too. All the time!

Sewing can have those sorts of moments as well. By way of background, let me explain that YoungB has a 21st-birthday party to attend shortly (there’ll be a few of them in the next couple of years) and, given that it’s late autumn and the mornings are darn chilly, we reckoned that a long, knitted scarf would be an ideal gift. Remember the Noro Silk Garden scarf? Yep, we decided that that would do the job nicely. When I said recently that I’d finished it, I wasn’t entirely fibbing. The knitting was certainly completed, but there were still the ends to deal with and it hadn’t been blocked. Those details have now been taken care of. The intended recipient is a young woman whose idea of a great birthday present is some homemade muffins or something equally useful and not wasteful. Therefore, we decided that a reusable shopping bag would make ideal gift wrapping.

Really, making a shopping bag should be easy and why not throw in a couple of matching lavender bags?

Really, making a shopping bag should be easy and why not throw in a couple of matching lavender bags?

How hard could it be to make a foldable, reusable shopping bag? It’s not. It’s just kind of fiddly and when you’re attempting it with minimal measuring tools, getting your lines plumb is more of a headache than you might think. And when you’re trying to cut it out late at night – that’s about the only time I ever do things! – sometimes the difficulties associated with making sure your stripes match are insuperable. I lined up the pieces beautifully but not in the correct order, so although the stripes align from front to back, they don’t match. The handles have the same problem (obviously; and there the stripes don’t even align). Never mind, it’s lightweight, made with bright, cheerful fabric (acceptable for the party theme of 80s or lots of colour), suitable for purpose and if I had half a dozen of them on hand to use instead of gift wrap, I’d be extremely pleased with myself. (Yes, you’re right, that’s certainly something to aim for; but let’s not call it a plan. Okay?)

Handmade fibre gifts from our household generally include a lavender bag. In this case, we decided on two because the leftover bits of yarn are part of the gift, just in case there’s ever any mending required, and they’re in a separate little bag of their own (plastic, in that case, for mothproofing purposes) along with an instruction card detailing the yarn’s fibre content and care. The lavender bags are made with the same striped fabric as the shopping bag and I made them without a hanging loop. All YoungB has to do now is get a card and nut out a suitably 80s costume. With Dr B’s wardrobe available for raiding, how hard could that be?

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 19, 2014 in Knitting, Sewing

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

break out the recipe books

Easter, as I’ve often said, is a secular occasion for us: a time for special food and getting together with family. In a good year, I might sing with Middle Aunt at some of the services. Mostly, the food is what it’s all about. YoungB is reading aloud from La Cucina Triestina as I write (we’re trying some slightly different recipes this year). Tomorrow he and Dr B will make struccolo (the recipe here is nothing like the real thing but looks quick and easy and is probably very tasty if you want to get an idea of what I’m on about) and perhaps crostoli (try this for size). However you spend your long weekend, may it be a safe and enjoyable one.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 17, 2014 in Musing

 

Tags: , , , ,

nah, I can’t knit in the dark

Colour at the regatta course even when the days were grey (and they frequently were)

Colour at the regatta course even when the days were grey (and they frequently were)

You know how I had knitting lined up for two days of travel? Great plan! Dr B decided we’d drive all night to meet a timetable deadline. Turned out he’d got it wrong but that didn’t matter. We’d driven all night and I can’t knit in the dark. Plan scuppered.

You know how I was going to deliver the beanie (produced during the two days of travel) directly to its recipient? Great plan! Sydney’s a big place and getting from one end of it to the other requires more than a little persistence. Turned out that even with the best will in the world, we couldn’t work out a suitable time and place to meet. And there was a singer with a sore throat in the mix. Plan scuppered.

Rowing? Yeah, that was great. We spent a lot of time travelling but we spent a lot of time watching some really exciting competition. To our considerable distress, there were no concession prices for parking or entry. No matter what time of day you turned up, you paid full price (which seemed to vary from day to day, depending on the nature of competition on offer; that is, you paid an arm and a leg on ordinary days but they threw in a couple of bits of your torso on the day of the Interstate Regatta and I dread to imagine what the World Cup finals would have required. We didn’t hang around to find out). That was a nasty surprise and, had we not travelled halfway across the country simply for the purpose of being there, would have been a considerable disincentive. We’d originally thought we’d park somewhere relatively nearby and walk, thus managing a good bit of daily exercise. Another great plan, don’t you think? I don’t want to sound like a wimp, but there was a lot of heavy rain. And sometimes YoungB needed a lift to and from his accommodation when there was nobody else around to provide it. We shut up and paid up, but that was another plan scuppered.

And did we win? No. South Australian rowers had some wins and YoungB’s club won a few medals during the National Championships. South Australia rowed to silver for both the King’s and Queen’s Cup competitions (the men’s and women’s eights) during the Interstate Regatta, much to the delight of the crews and their vociferous, if not numerous, supporters. Realistically, in YoungB’s case, his crew was up against it: considerably the youngest, certainly the least experienced and with not one national rep, former or present, in its ranks. The other crews, without exception, had at least one – if not two or three – rowers of that calibre in their boats. Our crew was outmatched. Nonetheless, they started well and held third for a little while but couldn’t maintain that rate. They picked up their pace toward the finish line and rowed the final 500 metres faster than they’d done the previous 500 metres. They weren’t so far behind as to be completely out of the race. We thought that was a commendable effort. YoungB reflected, quite rightly, that there’s no shame in coming last at that level of competition, though it’s a painful experience for all that. More plans scuppered? In that case, no.

And photos? Yeah, there were lots of those taken. And none of them yet edited.

I came home with two-thirds of a beanie – oh, yes, there were hours of daily travel during which I did knit! – and a completed Noro Silk Garden scarf and there’ll be photos of those when I get around to it. In the meantime, there are mitts to be completed and we’ve had funeral of an elderly family member and Nonna’s health is failing noticeably faster and YoungB is rushing towards the end of his first term and we have all sorts of things to sort out for his year in Italy. And, you know what? Plans for dealing with any of those are still haphazard. But we’ll get there, no matter which bits are scuppered along the way. Though it’s definitely a pity that I can’t knit in the dark because I could maybe bowl over a couple of birthday presents while everyone else is sleeping, instead of lying awake tossing and turning and worrying. Knitting would be much more productive.

Whatever your plans, I hope you manage to realise a few. I’m counting the scarf as a success, even if it wasn’t truly my intention to make it my travel knitting. As a very wise fellow rowing parent once remarked to me, you take your wins where you find them. Therefore, I’m calling that a win, whether or not it was my plan.

 

Tags: , , , , ,

oooooh

YoungB came home with his state team polo top and hoodie today. Ooh, lovely. They do suit him.

I walked up a very steep hill yesterday, the sort where going down has to be taken very slowly for fear of falling. Oooh, my glutes are letting me know about it today!

And, ooooh, tomorrow YoungB turns 19 – I don’t believe it, but apparently it’s so – and on Friday he flies out to compete at Rowing National Championships, representing South Oz at the Interstate Regatta. Are we ready for this? Not really; but we’ll manage.

Sewing? None. Knitting? I’m getting my travelling projects lined up to take with me so that I can occupy myself usefully when I’m not driving during the two-day trip to Sydney. A beanie for a friend’s husband looks like being the ideal project: not complex but using a self-striping yarn that will keep things a bit interesting (and which I can deliver in person on arrival). Mitts also feature. But the Noro Silk Garden scarf that I still haven’t finished? No. I’m sure I’d finish it on the way, but that’s one I’ve discovered is better worked on when I can pay careful attention to it. Otherwise, I have a habit of losing slipped stitches and the edges are suddenly uneven. Knitting while travelling needs to be relatively simple. I’m sure there are plenty of knitters who work on immensely complex patterns while they’re travelling, but I personally find cables about as much complexity as I can deal with in a car. And I’ll be expected to converse.

Anything else? Organising photos I’d promised for an imminently forthcoming presentation night. The technology misbehaving didn’t help that, but at about 2 o’clock this morning, I called it quits and went to bed. As far as I can tell, the systems churned all night and delivered on the promise by this morning. Nothing I could include in the blog, of course!

So am I tired? Oooooh, don’t ask! But, ooooooh, it’s really all a bit exciting and we are buzzed. Hope you’re finding lots of ooooohsome things in your life, too!

PS: too tired to chase up links. Soz.

 
 

Tags: , ,

do cups runneth over?

At the interstate regatta, at least as far as YoungB was concerned, the singles competition was important – he didn’t progress to finals but was pleased to have improved his time by about 30 seconds since our state championships – but the main game was the lightweight men’s IV, in preparation for the Penrith Cup competition that will take place during National Championships later this month. How did they fare? They missed out on a podium finish but, all in all, their coach was very pleased. They didn’t – and, indeed, don’t – have the same amount of race experience, and certainly none against that level of competition, as the other crews on the course, most of which contained national-level athletes. Even so, they were in third place right up to the 1500 metre mark (I was following it in real time on the computer and cheering loudly all the while). They placed fifth by about half a canvas. You can imagine that they were a little crushed after having started so well, but they’ve had that experience now and know what to expect for Nationals and the Cup in March. They’ll be out for blood, I expect; and the reputation of the state will be at stake.

As to jungle parties? I don’t know why I do it to myself, really, but I stayed up most of the Friday night sewing! Having the house to myself meant that I could but it hadn’t been my intention to do so. I went to bed a few times, but my mind was racing along at light speed, trying to solve problems. And when I found a solution, I had to implement it at once. My mantra, however, irrespective of problem or solution nutted out, was, “This is a $6 fancy dress costume, not couture sewing,” that being the fabric cost, not the value of time invested.

Of course I had equipment problems. My overlocker decided to throw in the towel. I must have lost nearly an hour doing a complete re-thread or three, but in the end I decided that more time spent there would be truly wasted and did most of the work on my sewing machine. It doesn’t take much longer to do that, I suppose, but the seams aren’t finished neatly (I could have taken extra time to do tidy seam finishes but that didn’t feature in my plan; that would rank as couture), and because of overlocking problems the side seams pull slightly. Neither is a major concern for a wear-once garment, I assure you; although it’s sufficiently well hemmed and put together that I could drag it out for a family dinner if I so chose. Or possibly a rowing presentation night.

Because I was travelling to the party with Youngest Aunt and Uncle, I had to meet their departure timetable (my own would have allowed me a bit more sleep, I think). Youngest Aunt had said they planned to go as Tarzan and Jane – at which, Dr B had suggested that I should, therefore, go as the monkey; he lives, though I don’t know why! – but in the end Youngest Aunt wore a leopard-print dress she’d had in her wardrobe from years ago and Youngest Uncle added a jungle-themed T-shirt – genuinely from Botswana – to his shorts and they were suitably attired. Youngest Aunt and I reckoned we almost matched, except that I’d spent some considerable time getting my hair to a state where lavish application of product would ensure that I could rightly consider myself the Wild Woman from Borneo. (It was what we were told when we were kids and we hadn’t brushed our hair, so I thought it would be both sufficiently jungly and reasonably achievable.)

Sorry to say, there are no photos of me and my outfit. I’ve sent out an SOS to other family photographers and while I’m hopeful of getting something at some point, I haven’t so far had any donations to the case. It’s true that the dress on its own is not terribly exciting or appealing, although the funnel neckline is rather fetching. I like that little piece of silliness. And I confess to having gone back and sewn the side seams so that they don’t pull quite so much. I mean, I know myself well enough to know that I’ll wear it again, no matter that it started life as a fancy dress outfit.

There’s been a lot more rowing. The state squad for Nationals has been announced, and YoungB has held his seat for the Lightweight Men’s IV. It’s the first time in seven years that our state has sent a crew for Penrith Cup comps, we’re told, so that’s exciting in itself (if they weren’t up to scratch, they wouldn’t have been given the nod). There was a presentation evening with wine and cheese sort of stuff (hence my suggestion that the leopard-skin dress might be all right; but Dr B insisted that wouldn’t be necessary because they’re rowers not ponces). What was nominally the last of the Schools regattas before Head of the River was lengthened by inclusion of competition for the remaining state championship races, those held over from the extremely hot second day of state champs (you know, when it was generally reckoned rowers were wimps, however sensible). We had a country regatta in the meantime there, and YoungB always enjoys those (we do, too) because they have a completely different atmosphere. He raced hard and was exhausted by the end of the day.

We had an OS friend staying with us – herself a former rower, so she’s always good value for YoungB because they can talk tech and be on precisely the same page; I understand a bit more than Dr B because I’ve done some rowing, but I can’t give advice from a position of expertise – and that’s been a lot of fun in all sorts of ways (including some long lunches at local eateries). We’ve all exercised together and learnt a few new tricks to keep the weight loss going. There have also been employment-related interviews of various sorts. In a word, we seem to have been doing a fair bit of rushing about and it’s sobering to realise that autumn is officially here and uni term has already begun. (YoungB probably feels as if he hasn’t had quite the break many of his mates have enjoyed because of the intense chemistry summer school he was obliged to complete and the amount of rowing training he’s been doing.)

More rowing and more jobs to apply for and more rushing about all over the place have all taken their toll on our patience and energy. YoungB was the other night ready for bed when he came home at about 7 o’clock (that was quietly reminiscent of a time when he was small and did actually fall asleep at the table).  Dr B and I are barely managing to put our feet one after the other. Oh, yeah, I think our cups runneth over all right, but with exhaustion rather than elation. Having said that, it was very heartening to see the state crews announced and officially presented to their adoring fans (parents, for the most part!) and not a little exciting to realise that YoungB can now claim to have been a team-mate with some of our local Olympians, who are also getting a (or in their case, another) state zootie.

On a positive and non-rowing-related note, the Maine Morning Mitts finally reached their intended recipient – ahead of her needing them, she assures me; I’ve needed some plenty of times already but it is probably the case that we keep much earlier hours – and she loves them and seems to think they were a lot of hard work. I have no intention of disillusioning her on that score. ;-)

I’ve also sewn up half a dozen or so lavender bags for Nonna. I don’t know where hers disappear to, but no matter how many I send, she never seems to have any, whether I make them with loops to hang in the wardrobe or simply ones that she can throw into the drawers where she stores her undies. Still, that’s little enough effort and I try to make a couple extra – I did – so that I replenish our own stocks, which tend to dwindle because I have a terrible habit of taking them to give to other people.

If this has been a little more all over the place than usual, it’s a fair reflection of the way things are. Messy but busy. Whatever your place looks like, I hope you’ve been able to get lots of knitting and sewing done and that, if you, too, are involved with sporting folk, you’ve thoroughly enjoyed cheering their participation and saluting their achievements. Now I’d better get back to work or the house will probably fall apart around us!

PS: I’m not at my usual computer and I haven’t been able to scavenge any appropriate photos. :(

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

physically here but mentally elsewhere

We waved YoungB off this morning, en route to state championship competition. It’s a big regatta and the line-up of competitors contains some Olympic luminaries. This will be competition at a level YoungB hasn’t hitherto encountered on quite this scale and at a fantastic venue. Of course he competed at national championships when they were held here a few years ago and you might expect that he’ll be up against some of the same competitors again this time (because they’ll still be in the same age category as he is). Of course he rowed at Uni Games last year, and the competition there was one of those unpredictable and exciting things that comes from knowing that, in any of your races, you could be up against an Olympian. Gulp.

He’s a touch tense, he admitted, but like all the athletes who get to this level, he’s put in a lot of hours of hard work to win his seat in the boat. He’s fit and his technique is good, thanks to the combination of dedication and excellent coaching. We’re keeping our fnigres corsesd for him so if I don’t get back to posting for a day or so, well, you won’t be surprised – in the sense that I know I’m erratic at the best of times! – but for once you might reckon that I have other, perhaps more important things, on my mind.

As to jungles and big cats? Yeah, I haven’t given up on that but time is ticking away. I’ll have some uninterrupted time tomorrow and that’s when I plan to put my head down and whip up something for the party. I’ll let you know about that in due course.

In the meantime, if you’re anywhere near any of the flooding and extreme weather anywhere in the world, do take care, won’t you? I could keep my fnigres corsesd for you on that account, but I doubt if would be any more effective than it’s likely to be on YoungB’s behalf.

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 13, 2014 in Rowing, Sewing

 

Tags: , , , , ,

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 83 other followers