Monthly Archives: March 2012

future frankensweater

In the way that expressions come and go, frankenthings have been popular in these parts of late. We had a frankencrew rowing at one regatta. It did quite well. The expression came from the coach, not me or one of the kids. There’s a frankencrew, a different one, featured in the rowing section of the school’s website. The composition is suitably murky and early-morningish that you can’t pick anyone clearly (unless you know them well). We can tell that it’s not the real crew though Boy is in it. His body shape is easy to identify. But there are others whose body shapes are plain wrong for the usual crew. Ergo, frankencrew. We can cope with that.

Tonight we’ve been shopping for fabric for Boy’s new sweater, the one that will be like the green one I made him but not exactly like. There was a small stain on one bit of the roll, so we were able to get it at reduced price. It wasn’t as cheap as I’d hoped, but Boy just wasn’t all that thrilled by the cheaper, slightly softer, darker grey fabric I’d picked. You couldn’t call it expensive, anyway, because I had a gift voucher that we put to the cause.

When I was little, scrap wool was used to make clever stripey jumpers and I’ve made a couple of those myself. When Boy was very small I knitted him what I thought was just a colourful jumper. It was blue and green and red and yellow in sold chunks, not stripes. I confess that it was acrylic for ease of washing and drying (you have to be kind to yourself when you live where winter temperatures are consistently below zero) but there wasn’t another jumper remotely like it anywhere on the planet, I’d say.

We won’t have enough of the fabric we purchased tonight to make two sweaters. There’ll be enough left over to make some sort of sweater out of all the various bits. There’ll be green and blue and grey. Tonight he described the proposed scrap sweater as a frankensweater. I wouldn’t have thought of calling it that but I understood his intent and agreed that, yes, I’d make a frankensweater for him.

Once the grey sweater is made – it’s on the to do list but not terribly near the top; it will be ready for winter – and I have all the bits assembled, we’ll see what sort of frankensweater we can get out of them for a fun, warm top that will probably not be like anything else on the planet either. But, regardless of colours, I’m sure that people will recognise it as a frankensweater. Frankenthings are popular, don’t you know?


fashion police

Dr B was having a rebellious day yesterday. He drove Boy to rowing training as usual but he didn’t bother to throw on a pair of trackies. Oh, no. He went off in his old, stained dressing gown and PJs. When he returned, I asked him if the fashion police had stopped him? He said no but there’d been plenty of real police out and about on the roads, so he was doubly careful to observe speed limits. Imagine the looks he’d have received had he been pulled over.

In the spirit of self-assessment – or getting someone else to assess self-made, anyway – tonight I thought I’d get the other fashion police to check out my dodgy top. First, I asked Boy what he thought about it. He immediately said he liked it. So I told him about its many faults. His response? “Maybe you should sew a fault into everything.” You see? We’re far too harsh on ourselves sometimes.

The blue beanie progressed by a few rows today and I’d hoped to be able to sit and knit some more tonight. However, by the time I’d done the few evening chores, I wasn’t in a frame of mind to pick up my knitting. I have to be at work early tomorrow because I’m being let loose with the technology again. Perhaps I’ll take my knitting along with me, in case we have some unexpected breaks during which I could knit a few more rows. But maybe not. It’s difficult to justify doing something that isn’t work when you’re actually signed on and at work, even if you’re sitting around twiddling your thumbs. You can be sure it wouldn’t be just the fashion police complaining if I were to pull my knitting out with my recording equipment!


a little bit cross-eyed

That’s how I must have been looking at the beanie pattern. You know, the one for Eldest Nephew, the blue one. Part of the problem I know to be the fact that I’m using two books and the decision as to which book I would follow and which pattern therein I would follow wasn’t made at the outset. Therefore I’ve probably been looking at quite the wrong pattern in every respect. Never mind. The only drama, really, is that I’ve done half the beanie on the wrong sized needles. I think it will still be useful even if a little firmer than originally anticipated.

Eldest Nephew has a big head. No, he’s not a bighead (at least, not more than most blokes!), but he has always had a big head so I had set out to make something big enough to be warm without being tight. I might have failed in that respect. I’ll let you know! In any case, I’m now well over halfway with the beanie and it’s looking suitably dull and understated, just what I’m told Eldest Nephew wanted.

You know, it had to be something unremarkable that would keep his ears warm when the temperatures drop, but that wouldn’t be likely to get hooked up in things (for which reason cables were contraindicated; that was the alternative pattern choice I’d been debating) and wouldn’t be likely to draw any attention to himself or comment regarding his attire. He’s a quiet man, Eldest Nephew.

I don’t mind obliging such requirements but, gosh, it’s hard to see dark blue yarn at night. I’m continuing with the pattern, more or less, just making a couple of modifications on the fly to ensure that the end result looks like a beanie that Eldest Nephew would actually wear and one that will fit.

Have you ever followed the wrong instructions for your knitting and kept knitting anyway? Am I terminally lazy or remarkably flexible?

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Posted by on March 27, 2012 in Knitting


of dodgy tops and polka dots

You might recall my saying I’d be happy to wear the dodgy top out shopping and around the home? It turns out I have no shame. I’ve worn it to a family dinner and I find myself wearing it to work quite often. It’s comfy, it’s tidy, it’s a good weight for the sort of weather we’ve been having and nobody – nobody! – is going to be examining it so closely that they notice how poorly made it is. I can tell you that it’s in no danger of coming adrift at the seams after half a dozen washes, so it must be well enough made for that. I’ve owned RTW clothes for which I couldn’t have made such a claim. The polka dot top is doing good service for work as well. I’m very happy with them both.

I have not, however, made the next top I’d planned (also using a dotty fabric though one on a more generous scale) but I’ll try to get it started tonight. I have been making streamers – some people call them pompoms, though that mystifies me utterly; when I think of pompom I think of something on top of a cap – and my sewing table is still inches deep under crepe paper. I’ve almost finished the ribbing on Eldest Nephew’s beanie, though, so I’ve been quietly making progress on several different WIPs.

A day at home and away from the madhouse that’s work would help my sanity but that’s not an option. In the meanwhile, I’ve a few household chores to attend to. Dang. No justice in life, is there?

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Posted by on March 27, 2012 in Knitting, Sewing



and of course I can make three tablecloths tonight

That is to say, I can at least hem them, which is about all that making a tablecloth amounts to these days. I made three on Friday night. One was black, one was white and one was grey. They’re our school’s colours. I could not, no matter how I tried, find the sort of fabric I wanted in grey. Black and white are not difficult to get in most widths and weights but grey is obviously less popular. I ended up with narrow little tablecloths that covered the trestles and didn’t flap about too much in the breeze, which is a major consideration for outdoor use; but then there’s the problem of how little they actually cover and how much people think they’re simply sheets seconded to the cause (and what’s wrong with that, I ask; though I feel obliged to point out that they’re nowhere near as big as sheets).

The difficulty with late-night efforts on behalf of good causes is that they’re rarely as elegant in terms of solutions as they might be were they done to less stringent timetables. I had off-white thread in the machine, so I used that on the white tablecloth. Otherwise, how would I have managed to get a bobbin with the right colour thread in it? I didn’t have a spare bobbin. Of course I didn’t. That would have meant lots of prior organisational thought regarding what I might be doing at midnight on Friday. My bobbins were loaded with colours I’d been using: off-white for whites and lights, navy for the dark blue things I’d been sewing and a dark brown that could be used for some of the other things.

I whizzed along the white cloth with off-white thread. It looked okay. It’s neat, there are no threads dangling or anything and it serves its purpose. By the time I’d finished that and cut and pinned a black mate and a grey one, the hour was late. Too tired to think if I had anything suitable, and knowing at some instinctive level that if I did I wouldn’t be able to use it because it would mean putting it onto a bobbin I didn’t have, I whizzed along the grey with a darker brown thread than I might ordinarily have used. I do have a lighter brown that probably would have been reasonable, perhaps even all right; but not wound onto a bobbin. The result is perfectly usable; not haute couture – remember, we are talking about a tablecloth that’s going to be used at BBQs and sausage sizzles in outdoor settings – but usable.

The black? Ah, yes, by that time – early morning by now and me fading fast knowing I had to be up again at about 4.30 – I was in no frame of mind, nor did I have the level of coodination required, to change to black thread in spool and bobbin. Off I whizzed with the dark brown thread. Again, it’s not couture but it’s a perfectly acceptable tablecloth for outdoor events, as are they all. I mean, they’re hemmed, for heaven’s sake, and they cover the trestles. What more do you want?

And, yes, of course I could – here we go with more conditionals – make three more of them tonight. We will need them next Saturday. However, tomorrow is a working day and I need to do other things tonight in order to be reasonably compos mentis come morning. Tomorrow they’re sending me to do a job that I have to set up all by myself. Technology!! AAAAGH! Mercifully, another female colleague has colour-coded all the connections. Otherwise, I’d be having a hissy fit and major hysterics and threatening to leave.

“You expect me to know which cord and plug goes where when there are all these other cords and plugs about the place that might or might not go there?” No. That’s why we have IT blokes. In their absence – and they frequently are absent – colour-coding saves the day. That’s one place where using whatever colour was available might have been the wrong choice, no matter how neat the finished product.


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Posted by on March 25, 2012 in Rowing, Sewing


ah and ooh

That’s ah, thank goodness the camera was not lost at my house. It was lost at the head coach’s house.

And, ooh, my feet hurt from a lot of standing. However, we ran a regatta and it went well. I saw a little bit of rowing and was glad to be able to help with the volunteer roles I filled. Boy’s Eight had a breakage in the first race but a replacement was found and they rowed in the final. They came last. Oh, well, these things happen. Everyone had a good day.

Dr B has been out cycling. He’s home and we’ve had tea and we’re planning an early night because we have another early morning. Both Dr B and Boy are cycling tomorrow. I’m not. I shall probably be doing a bit more sewing, a lot more laundry and perhaps some knitting. What about you?


village people

Um, well, it’s like this. I grew up in a small, country town. Like most small, country towns, its younger population had little choice but to go elsewhere in order to survive. I was one such. Throughout my life I’ve bumped into other folk with similar tales of dislocation from small, country towns. Occasionally they’re people from the same small, country town.

It’s quite startling when you discover that a name you’ve been reading in a rowing program really is the person of that name with whom you played hockey many, many years ago in that small, country town. (Much laughter ensued over that one.) It’s more startling still when you discover that one of Boy’s rowing friends, who’s in the same crew and who has been a guest in our home, is the son of another. Perhaps not another hockey player, but a schoolfellow from that small, country town. (Disbelieving laughter ensued over that one.)

Small, country town, did I say? I think I mean village, don’t I?

On matters woolly, the dark-blue beanie that I’m making for Eldest Nephew is coming along nicely, thanks to a lunch break spent sitting in a quietish corner of the city, lapping up sunshine and dodging breezes while casting on and knitting the first row in order to get it on its way. I knitted on the way home, too, and disposed of a few more rows while Middle Son was here awaiting Dr B’s return from doing taxi service for Boy and prior to their heading out to see Nonno. Yeah, our life is often like that. It’s just crazier than usual right now.

As far as I know, there’s nobody at the hospital from my small, country hometown but nothing would surprise me.


beanie, blue beanie

In the hope of capitalising on my bus trip this morning, I tried to gather up the necessities required for making the blue beanie (yes, it’s going to be blue, dark blue). I had the yarn (it is actually wool). I had the pattern (thanks, Yarn Harlot). But could I find appropriate needles? What that means is that they’re in use on mittens or something. Gosh, I need to finish a few things before starting any more.

And fingerless mitts for Nonno? Dr B had no idea where his were (as I’d suspected would be the case). I donated mine. Mine are pretty and purple, not at all tough and manly. Did Nonno care? Not a whit. I’m told he loved them (my guess is that he loved the warmth, if we’re being picky about this). So now I need to make some more for myself before winter strikes, because I will certainly need them.

To do list? Fingerless mitts for colleague, fingerless mitts for Youngest Uncle, beanie for Eldest Nephew, fingerless mitts for me and, oh yes, a bit of sewing too: sweater for Boy, top and skirt for me, a pile more lavender bags for Nonna and some to top up our dwindling supply.

Dr B. delivered the shawl to Nonna today for her birthday, with a couple of lavender bags. I haven’t yet heard how well it was received but it’s such a pretty colour that I hope she didn’t think we were wishing her dead and buried, which is how she treated the last shawl we gave her. If for some reason it raised her ire, I’ll use it myself and perhaps a beanie would be good for her too, do you think? But perhaps not a blue one because it seems her point of view is that dark blue is for old people. She likes bright colours, whether or not they suit her.

I’d hoped to post a photo of the purple fingerless mitts. Sorry, can’t be done. While some of my iPhoto library is in working order, most of the craft photos are in the bits that aren’t.

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Posted by on March 20, 2012 in Knitting, Sewing


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men are strange creatures

I offered knitted scarves to two of the males in the family for recent birthdays. No, thanks, they said. One would prefer a beanie, the other some fingerless mitts. It’s not that I’m not happy to make something else, I’m merely surprised that a warm scarf wouldn’t be deemed a great gift for someone who’s off to trek the Himalaya later in the year!

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Posted by on March 19, 2012 in Knitting


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artfully dodging

Today we had a family luncheon to celebrate Nonna’s birthday (she’s 86) and Boy’s (he’s 17). Their birthday is actually on Tuesday, but we can’t do long family lunches on a weekday. Can we?

So it was your typical family get-together: everybody cranky and the kids behaving badly and the siblings who don’t have a good word to say to each other at the best of times being practically murderous and then the mobile phone that was lost practically causing a divorce and Nonno smiling grimly from his hospital bed because he thought Nonna’s birthday flowers were for him and funereal – yeah, one of those. The pizza, however, was delicious.

And I wore my dodgy top. You know, the one with all the problems. Nobody commented, nobody noticed. I think we were all too busy dodging the missiles and ducking for cover!

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Posted by on March 18, 2012 in Musing, Sewing