Monthly Archives: June 2016

that rare occasion and some questions

As it turns out, it fits me quite well.

As it turns out, it fits me quite well.

I rarely get smug about my  knitting. I make too many stuff-ups for that! But generally, I reckon that if I follow the designer’s instructions, I’ll end up with what I want. Now and then, I might look at something I haven’t seen for a while and be pleasantly surprised by what a good job I’ve done. Is that being smug? I don’t think so.

Imagine me the other day, sitting on a suburban bus and watching other passengers file on. Several of them were wearing beanies. The day was chilly. I also wore a beanie. And I admit to having a moment of feeling utterly – yes, dreadful but true – smug about mine: it was handmade and unique 🙂 Justified, just a bit? Probably.

The only remaining question is, should I retrofit a pompom?


Posted by on June 28, 2016 in Knitting


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knitted with love

Broken needle mended, ribbing under way

Broken needle mended, ribbing under way

I’m sure you’ve all had the occasional throwaway comment from an ignorant friend. “You should sell these. You’d made a killing.” No. As we well know, you wouldn’t. Most recently, someone suggested I could do that with the three-hour cowl, and suggested a price of $25. Quite apart from any considerations around needing to buy a licence to do so (the pattern is free for personal use, not otherwise), it takes me rather longer than three hours to knit the cowl. But assuming I could manage that, then, what, it would be fine to work for a bit over $8 an hour, less than half the Australian basic hourly rate? I don’t think so. That might cover the cost of the yarn and perhaps allow for some printing and wear-and-tear (needles break; super glue isn’t something I’d normally stock in my sewing kitty). But the time to make it? Pay for that? Not remotely.

All that aside, I don’t knit for money; not only because it doesn’t pay well, but because I’d rather knit for people who will be happy to receive something that I’ve knitted with love.

Over the years I have knitted many things for Youngest Aunt. She is always a happy and grateful recipient, whoever the knitter. She still wears a beautiful beanie that our Mum knitted for her a very long time ago indeed (either just before she left high school or shortly after she started uni); it’s just as warm and cosy and blue as it was then. The blue is important, I think, and probably why it’s still her favourite. It’s like Youngest Aunt, remarkably well travelled. Locally, it has been ballooning in the Barossa, many times up to the summit of Mt Lofty and more than once spotted at various wineries about the place. It has also appeared in even chillier climes during OS sojourns.

Mum knitted socks for Youngest Aunt, too (I made my own). I’ve offered to make others for her, but she confessed that she didn’t find them particularly comfy. I suspect that a large part of that relates to the fact that Mum knitted those socks with a pure wool yarn Nowadays, the availability of yarns that have a small percentage of something non-woollen to help them hold shape better is bound to provide greater comfort. Plus, there are all those fabulous self-patterning yarns to add to the appeal.

But getting back to my output, I’ve knitted and crocheted all sorts of things for family members: jumpers and cardigans; beanies, berets and balaclavas; mittens; fingerless mitts and gloves; scarves, shawls and cowls; a christening gown; angel jackets and baby singlets – I could probably continue, but you’ll see what I’m saying. I make a lot of things for people I love. I’m happy to do that. And for that, I don’t count the cost or the time.

Luckily, however, the beanie I’m knitting now – version three and let’s hope it’s third time lucky! – is coming along nicely as the result of knitting on public transport.

2 x 2 ribbing, working up smoothly and swiftly. YoungB is convinced it won't fit.

2 x 2 ribbing, working up smoothly and swiftly. YoungB is convinced it won’t fit. It will. Ribbing s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s.

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Posted by on June 23, 2016 in Knitting


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sometimes all ya wanna do is knit

But all the fates seem to be conspiring against you :)

But all the fates seem to be conspiring against you 🙂

I don’t knit as much as I would like – with regard to either quantity or frequency – but it’s a good thing I don’t have many urgent requests on my list this year. YoungB seems no closer to getting a beanie, though I have done a tension square for the Fair Isle number he selected. That won’t be good bus knitting, however, so I need another project. I’ve spent hours trying to find a pattern on Ravelry. Of course that’s frustrating because there are so many wonderful patterns to choose from!

Another part of the frustration arises from trying to match Australian wool thicknesses with patterns designed for something else. I found one that seemed to offer a similar needle size to the one suggested on the ball band – that’s at least a good indication that you’re on the right track – but getting the PDF to download? No. It didn’t matter which browser I tried or which “Download here” button I clicked, the pattern resolutely didn’t download. Sometimes technology and I are like that: we exist in a state of mutually armed neutrality.

Searching among my existing hard-copy patterns netted one that would probably work. The circular needle required was a size I didn’t already have and a length that seems uncommon. On my way home from work on Friday, when the city stores are open late, I managed to find what I was after. By the time I got home, I was ready to go. I pulled out the yarn and pattern. Then I tried to get the new circular out of its packet. And, well, that’s what happened.

Returning it? Certainly an option, but not the best one. The local branch doesn’t have this size – I’ve checked many times, and quite recently – so the best I could hope for there would be my money back and still no needle. Enter super glue. I’m now just about to start the first round of grey beanie number 3. Wish me luck!

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Posted by on June 19, 2016 in Knitting


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1, 2, skip a few, 99

Dan's 65th birthday

This is probably the last family photo I have. It’s nice to see all of us being silly 🙂

Dear Mum, Youngest Aunt and I arrived at the answer by different methods – neither straightforward; you know we’re like that with arithmetic – but we agreed that, had you been still alive, this June we would have celebrated your 99th birthday.

You died well short of reaching that, and more than half our lives have been lived without you: without your smile and your wonderful baking (I occasionally get a real craving for one of those tasty, hearty egg-and-bacon pies with the light-as-air pastry, or the fabulous melt-in-your-mouth shortbread), your razor-sharp memory for sometimes obscure poetry, the weekly chinwag as to tricky questions in the Crossquiz (as it was then) and whether we’d reached excellence with the Target word, and the high-scoring Scrabble games, not to mention the occasional hand of whisky poker played for the killingly extravagant stakes of one- and two-cent pieces (legal tender in those days).

Yes, we’ve missed you, but you’ve missed so much, too: the family’s travels, the weddings, the grandchildren you’d been hoping for, all the accolades and awards across the years, and let’s not forget the music. You’ve missed a lot of singing and music-making at family get-togethers and Christmases. Middle Aunt and I still dust off our piano duets at Christmas, in what has become something of a ritual.

But you’re never truly far from any of us. For me, I see you in YoungB’s smile that’s so much like yours. I thought of you often when he was a rower, because the high school you once attended has a rowing program nowadays and our marquees were frequently alongside each other. You’re probably raising your eyebrows, wondering why I don’t mention that I see you when I look in the mirror, or every time Middle Aunt and I sit together at parties and confuse people who don’t know us well. Yes that’s true, and we laugh about it.

I see your work and evidence of your organisational abilities in the Lunchbox recipe book I use all the time. And I wish I could ask you about the everyday recipes you whipped up that I cannot remember (and that aren’t in the Lunchbox). I’m sure you knew how much I hated raisin biscuits. They were marginally nicer than the spice biscuits, both of which you baked far too frequently, as far as I was concerned; but you wouldn’t believe how often I’ve tried to find a recipe for raisin biscuits. I’ve proved they’re not fruit jumbles. That’s all I’ll say.

As well as that, I have your sewing machine (I think I can truly claim it as mine by now, but it was yours before it was mine). I have many of your knitting needles and and patterns. And I can knit, thanks to your teaching me (although I acknowledge that the Great Aunts helped). I still use my first-ever knitting needles. Although I can’t knit as quickly as you, nor do I have the same easy rhythm – and ditto those comments with regard to the Great Aunts, too – it’s true that most of the time I get there.

I’ve learnt that there’s much truth in your wisdoms that a blind man would be pleased to see it, that any small improvement renders the situation better than it was, and that if you’re out there doing it then you’re streets ahead of someone sitting at home. I often remind myself about the Devil and the tailor, shorten my thread accordingly and then squint at the needle just the way you did. I chastise myself for using sewing needles that would double as crowbars (your term again). But, heck, how are you meant to thread anything with a smaller eye?

We do these things. Life goes on. I repeat your words, which were probably those of your own mother, and so it continues down the generations. Every now and again, we add up the numbers. And this year we reached 99.


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