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totally tinked

Next time it won't look messy like this. Promise :)

Next time it won’t look messy like this. Promise:)

During a trip to the Hills today, because I wasn’t driving I managed to tink the entirety of the tension square. Now it’s a matter of dividing my yarn so I can do both socks at once, then on with the actual knitting. This would be some of the fiddliest prep work I’ve done in a long time, but I’m sure the resulting socks will be worth every bit of effort.

With regard to time, even doing a tidy job of the yarn division, it won’t come in at an hour’s worth. All the same, there’s a good chance I might spend more time on it later in the evening. I think that’s progress, however slow.

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2016 in Knitting

 

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the unexpected, sideways wallop

Looking the goods in a nicely masculine colourway.

Seems as if it’s looking the goods, in a nicely masculine colourway.

Day 3 saw the tension square arrive at the point where I thought I’d done enough to check it. Then Life did one of those, “You’re getting too complacent. I think it’s time I walloped you with a bit of four be six,” numbers in the shape of news of the sudden, unexpected death of a close cousin: not only close by blood and near in age, but one with whom I’d remained in contact as we’d both wandered across the globe and through life. Yeah. Not truly conducive to knitting for a couple of days, that’s for sure. Sorry, Meredithe; I know you’ll understand.

However, given the restorative power of creativity, I’ve checked the tension and it does look the goods, so I’m now tinking that to reuse the yarn and get cracking on the socks. Straight knitting is going to be easier than the tricky stuff involved in doing a circular sample with a straight technique. You get lots of dangles at the back and it’s messy. Goodbye to all that and on with magically looping both socks at once. That will have its own mess, I dare say, but I should at least hit a good rhythm with genuine circular knitting and the wonderful Old Joe pattern.

So it’s on with the knitting and on with life; and may all your news be good.

 
 

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knitting for an hour – days 1 and 2

So the hour on the first day was about this:

Pattern purchased, yarn tracked down, needles ditto, and now? Tension square.

Pattern purchased, yarn tracked down, needles ditto, and now? Tension square.

And the hour on the second day was about this:

Still on the tension square. Gauge swatch, if you prefer.

Still on the tension square. Gauge swatch, if you prefer.

Today I’ve done a few more rows, so it’s slow and not very exciting in spite of how much time it’s taking. I’m not prepared to leap into this without making sure the tension is correct. I’ve had too many nasty surprises this year:)

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2016 in Knitting

 

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there’s the injured nephew

Eldest Nephew recently fell and damaged his elbow. It’s in a backslab plaster now but expected to improve to a hinged brace by the end of the week. I asked Middle Aunt if there was anything I could do for him; like maybe knit him an arm warmer? She laughed. But she did ask if I would make Middle Uncle a pure-wool beanie, please, in a nice, sober shade of blue. I suggested a mix with alpaca to ensure softness on his not-very-hirsute pate. The outcome was that, as long as the fibres were natural, that would be fine. Luckily for me, this limited release yarn is a wool/alpaca mix and has a couple of shades of blue. I can do that. I’ve sent off the order.

And then I’ve decided to join Meredithe in doing an hour of knitting a day – in my case – and I’d already said socks. I’ve bitten the bullet and finally purchased the Yarn Harlot‘s lovely Old Joe pattern (of which Dr B approves, and that’s good because this pair will be for him). I’m now about to fossick around in the sewing room to find the sock yarn. I’m a little late starting the hour-a-day effort, but I’m sure to be able to catch up by dint of putting in some dedicated commuter knitting in the next few days.

The other beanie I’d begun (for Dr B)? It’s been back-burnered but not frogged. You see? Plans are always flexible. Happy knitting!

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2016 in Health, Knitting

 

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never mind the fingers, find the feet

I did it last year, over tougher terrain. I can do it again.

I did it last year, over tougher terrain. I can do it again.

YoungB has appointed himself my personal trainer for this year’s Bloody Long Walk. So far we’re both failing spectacularly. Even more than last year, Life seems to be getting in the way of our best intentions. For example, he’s just returned from a donation at the Blood Bank with orders to sleep. That won’t provide motivation or training tips for his poor old mother, will it?

But the clock is ticking and 21 August is, gulp, entirely too close. I’m planning to do a walk today, while the sun is shining and before I find too much housework whose screams for attention can no longer be ignored. So it will be a matter of not minding my fingers, finding my feet – on longer walks than those I manage daily – and, if I can pull it off, pretending to a fair amount of deafness. My tinnitus is about the same pitch as many of the appliances, so it might just be my ears buzzing. Right?

If you’ve done your bit for personal fitness today, then happy knitting, crochet, sewing, tatting or whatever your activity of choice might be, everyone. If you could manage a row or two for me while I’m out acquiring some blisters (I hope not; but best to be prepared, don’t you think?), that would be heaps good:)

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2016 in Health, Knitting

 

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let it snow

Had there been snow, this would have dealt with it :)

Had there been snow, this would have dealt with it:)

YoungB and I had a few days away on the New England (Australia) Tablelands. It was meant to be colder there than here, but we struck it lucky: fabulous, crisp, typical New England winter gorgeousness while we were there, and uncharacteristically Antarctic conditions here on our return.

That’s YoungB’s beanie. I was knitting till the last minute – not entirely my fault, though I accept responsibility for my choices – but finish it I did, altering the top a smidge to give him the slightly flatter look that he favours; and he wore it all weekend. It looks warm and he says it is. The threatened sleet and snow didn’t eventuate, but he was well prepared.

So now I’m exhausted from late-night knitting, travel, holidaying and having a good time; and an appalling week at work! Should I knit to wind down??

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2016 in Knitting

 

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a big, post-election grumble about a lot of what I see

No grumbles with this pattern, which is progressing nicely

No grumbles with this pattern, which is progressing nicely

I sat down to write one post and seem to have written two! Please ignore whichever half bores you😉

The thing about trawling the web and looking at lots of posts on sewing is that so much of what I see strikes me a bit like Arthur Dent‘s house: it precisely fails to please the eye. I can see that the cut is lovely, or the colour is, or that it’s beautifully made but sometimes? Sometimes the proportion is all wrong or the colour doesn’t suit the person wearing it and the cut isn’t flattering on the figure of the wearer. The bodice of a drop-waisted skirt is too long or perhaps it’s the skirt that’s too short (or possibly long), though the overall length is fine, but together? It just doesn’t work. That is to say, even allowing for the fact that IRL when it’s moving rather than static it might look better, it just doesn’t work to my eye.

There are patterns about which the online sewing community seems to go into raptures and, although I can find individual things to like about each of the iterations I come across, it leaves me cold. Most of the Colette patterns are in that category – and because plainly designed for a body shape that mine has never been and is now unlikely to achieve, I don’t buy Colette patterns – which is a bit sad because I like the idea of supporting Indie designers rather than the Big Companies. The passion for Tilly‘s Coco was a bit similar; it didn’t ring my bells. And that’s OK. We’re not all the same.

With regard to the clothing, I accept that I’m in no position to criticise, because I myself don’t really make much; some might say I don’t make anything at all and that’s perhaps near enough to the truth. But it’s like singing: just as I can still hear whether that’s good or bad and give you very concise and informed reasons why it’s one or the other, though I do so little of it myself nowadays, I can tell you why those patterns don’t work. That doesn’t mean other people will have the same opinion.

Overall, however, it serves to reinforce the notion that anyone who wants to make their own clothing really needs to be able to draft a pattern and/or be able to make drastic alterations to a pre-existing one. That’s quite an ask in an age where these things are not taught at school. I was fortunate enough to learn pattern-drafting at primary school. My suspicion is that the more any person who sews uses a prefabricated pattern from anywhere – Big Company or Indie designer – the more the realisation grows that, no, it’s not going to cut it to keep doing this. You have to draft your own.

While I’m on a roll, something else that gets up my nose big time is the modern penchant for squashing breasts to flatness. I genuinely appreciate the need for comfort and support, I get the bit about not wanting to bounce around too much and I certainly understand the value of a minimising bra; but one that leaves you looking like some weird sort of chook gone wrong? Uuh, yeah, maybe not. It’s not flattering, it makes the clothes hang badly and, in some cases, is decidedly part of why the clothes don’t look particularly flattering. They’re being beaten at their own game by over-eager corsetry. I don’t have a problem with what’s occasionally described as industrial-strength undergarments so long as they don’t make the body shape they’re assisting into something that no longer resembles a normal, female body. (For tonight’s homework, define normal.) Yeah. I’m feeling cranky.

I admit it: that crankiness has been exacerbated by post-election ennui and the still-in-doubt election result.

On Saturday, I spent hours standing out in the cold, handing out how-to-vote cards. Talk about wondering about a lot of what you see! There were people who turned up beautifully dressed and brightened the day, others who’d obviously come straight from work or sporting events, youngsters being shepherded along by anxious parents afraid of looking right or left lest thoughts be contaminated by a leaflet not to their liking, many grumpy people whose expressions said louder than words that they didn’t appreciate having to vote or what a privilege it is to have that right, those who complained about how far they were forced to travel as if that were something we poor volunteers could magically mend, and many who laughed along with the silly jokes we were making as we handed out leaflets for the umpteenth time.

I occasionally regretted that there is no Socialist Alliance in my electorate, I say with tongue in cheek, because reactions would have been hilarious had I been handing out something with that logo. I certainly don’t look the type to be a rabid Left-winger:) You’re fair game, whatever you’re doing, so you need to be thick-skinned. Luckily, I am. I was reprimanded for my not-at-all-radical views by one older man, who told me I should be ashamed of myself because I was old enough to know what I was doing. It’s not part of the patter, but the queue had stalled at that stage. I drew myself up to my full height – which is not great, but greater than his – and shot back that I certainly am old enough to know what I’m doing, and that’s why I do it. I had a little discussion with another, younger, bloke in the queue about hung parliaments and his view that voting for anything but a major party would result in chaos, despite the fact that many such governments exist worldwide and function well. One chap walked past all the leaflets, muttering as he did so that they’re all bloody criminals (he may have a point; it made me laugh). Another wanted to vote for Pauline Hanson. I reassured him that this isn’t her electorate, nor was there a One Nation candidate. I didn’t suggest he ought to move to Queensland, because I thought it was likely he wouldn’t know where that is.

Silliness aside, I was truly astounded – and not in a good way – by the number of people who seemed to have been caught unawares by the election. We’d just come to the end of one of the longest campaigns in many a year and still they seemed startled by it all. Entirely too many plainly hadn’t given any thought to how they would vote. I don’t expect everyone to do what we do – spreadsheets; I’ve said before that’s how we roll – but I wasn’t surprised that several of my colleagues had worked it all out before election day and taken their print-outs with them. A vote is too valuable to waste.

YoungB was doing his bit at a different polling booth – one with a sausage sizzle, I add with some resignation and a great deal of jealousy; there wasn’t one at mine – and he had some entertaining tales, too. He is a very charming young man and learnt early that if you’re polite to people, generally they will respond in like manner. He reported that he had made eye contact and cheerfully, but very politely, handed out his how-to-vote card. The old trick worked, even though some of them, he thought, would rather have responded with a mouthful of vitriol. Dr B was at a different booth – also sans sausage sizzle – and had a good time, doing two two-hour stints so that he could duck up to see Nonna and give her lunch in the interim. I closed my booth, and YoungB came to help me take down the last of the posters that I simply couldn’t reach. We swapped tales of our day when we arrived home, then he and Dr B went off to the party to watch the tally. I was too tired, too cold and too far behind with domestic chores, so I watched at home while I attended to laundry and the like.

Yesterday the boys went for a motorbike ride, to blow away the cobwebs and reconnect with something other than endless spreadsheets comparing political parties and their policies. We’ve voted, made our choice known, and done it unmolested in a democracy where we can be reasonably assured that our votes weren’t tampered with or ignored. We are in a dreadful, and dreadfully ugly, mess, but we remain extremely fortunate. And the queues about which I heard endless complaints on Saturday? At my booth, they extended to the gate and meant the wait was half an hour to perhaps 40 minutes (at most). It wasn’t days. We were out in the open, but we weren’t there for long.

My personal fitness guru, as YoungB has appointed himself, thought that, while they were out motorcycling, I should do a 10 Km training walk in order to be ready for the Bloody Long Walk at the end of next month. That would take me two hours. But I thought that if I didn’t bring in the laundry, we’d have no clothes for the rest of the week. More pressingly, I was convinced that if I didn’t knit some more of his beanie he wouldn’t have it for next weekend. He’ll certainly need it, because he and I will be visiting friends in a cold part of the world. There, I’ll have good reason to be grumpy; except that the warmth of the friendships will ward off the worst of the chills.

So, yeah. I’ve said my piece about practically everything, I think! Back to the knitting now. I’m pleased to report that it is going well, and I’ve taken the plunge and done some of these cables without using a cable needle. The reason why is probably another grumble, but I think I’ve been cranky enough. Pax:)

 
 

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