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Category Archives: Crochet

if that was the beanie, that was it

Morning cheer, with snapdragons already adding a splash of colour.

That bit of knitting I showed you last time? That’s all you’re ever going to see of that beanie, because it flew off my needles and onto the recipient’s head fairly urgently around an emergency hospital admission. Dr B wore it for a day to block it! Life gets a bit like that sometimes. The friend – who was certainly in a bad way – has been discharged, I’m relieved to say, and while he’ll never be back to full health, he has improved remarkably.

In gardening news, I’m delighted to report that not only have all the lifted and transplanted rhizomes and bulbs bounced back to a state of flourishing, the geranium is well on its way to thriving. Mission accomplished. The seedlings are settling well and some have already flowered. The mystery bulbs are shooting and close to flowering, but I still have no idea what they are! It’s cheering to step outside and see everything looking so bright.

And in commuting news, I’ve started crocheting a (deliberately) just-off-square granny-square knee rug for use at work, or as a throw rug, or for picnics. It’s mainly something to keep me occupied on the bus or while I half-watch TV, and it’s an effort to use some of my cheap but cheerfully coloruful (or that might be colourfully cheerful) stash. So far doing well on both counts.

I hope your endeavours are all meeting with success 🙂

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the backward glance

Made it to the end, just like the year.

Made it to the end, just like the year.

Here it is, New Year’s Eve again. If you celebrate Christmas, I hope yours was happy. If you go all out for the New Year’s party, may it be wonderful and you not have too sore a head tomorrow.

2015 has been a messy year and not one I’d consider particularly productive. Having said that, my Ravelry page reminds me that I knitted fingerless mitts and crocheted (mostly Moebius) cowls, some begun long ago but all finished this year. There were 13 in total. I also failed to complete mitts that I began around the time we were moving offices, although I might well complete those in 2016, and another pair where I ran out of yarn and couldn’t find anything matching. That will require fancier footwork than I had time for when I was making them, but they have not been frogged.

With regard to sewing, apart from rescuing various bits of this and that – YoungB’s jeans, mostly – I made four cooling neck bandannas for the Bloody Long Walk. I also produced 270 metres of bunting for Eldest Niece’s wedding and some lavender bags for a raffle prize, as well as some pockets for YoungB’s motorcycling armour (additional protection for a couple of long road trips). Perhaps I didn’t need to do a lot else.

My other mighty commitment and achievement for the year was training for and completing the Bloody Long Walk, with splendid support from workmates, everyone in the family and my HiTec boots. Even though I said I wouldn’t do the BLW again, Youngest Aunt and I agreed only the other day that we need to start training soon 🙂

YoungB returned from Italy and has managed to reach the end of his academic year with reasonable results. I think that’s as much as we could have expected from him, considering how much he struggled to regain momentum and motivation.

Also, Eldest Niece is now a married lady and her wedding to Mr Eldest Niece was one of the happiest such occasions I have ever attended. The bunting looked good, too 🙂

Christmas? Yes, it happened. I managed to get our Advent Calendar hanging a few days before it was required and the tree up before Christmas Day. Winner! We spent time with family and friends and if things were more chaotic than usual because of unexpected equipment failures – vacuum cleaner, gearbox in family car – and some equally unexpected medical issues, then it didn’t detract from our enjoyment of the occasion.

I’ve managed to read a few books – too few; but I generally don’t have a lot of opportunity to read except on public transport and, although I’m on that for hours of every working day, I’m sometimes too tired to make the effort – and feel particularly chuffed to have finished the latest title in the Inspector Ricciardi series by Maurizio De Giovanni, one that YoungB brought back from Italy for me.

I’ve successfully reached the halfway point in an online family history unit I’m undertaking through the University of Tasmania. In real terms, my genealogical research is often shelved for months at a stretch because life happens and it’s not the most important thing. In this instance, I’ve renewed subscriptions to this, that and the next genealogical website and/or organisation and started delving into written records because there’s nobody left to ask. Like most of us, I don’t have to look far to find mysteries. I’m toying with which mystery to investigate further for the long, final assignment.

And in something utterly unrelated to anything, we’ve wound up the year splendidly with a trip to the Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens to see a rare event: the flowering of an Amorphophallus Titanum, also known as Titan Arum or corpse flower. The day was stinking, even if the flower wasn’t (at least when we were there). There were koalas watching us from some nearby tall gums. It was a fitting finale for 2015.

 

 

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shall we cross our fingers and hope it’s third time lucky?

Taking it at a run makes it easier but sometimes you have to plod along until you get to the other side

Taking it at a run makes it easier but sometimes you have to plod along until you get to the other side

Two previous posts vanished. One might have been my fault, the other was not 😦 and I’m uncertain if this will make it beyond my desktop. Fnigres corsesd.

So it’s oh well, here we are again and, you know, it’s still winter, I’m tired of the cold (how about just tired?), the Bloody Long Walk is frighteningly close and I’m still somewhat under the weather with a tail-end-of-winter bug that has made, and continues to make, training a fairly unappealing if not occasionally impossible task though everyone else is going great guns with their training, work is so busy I don’t know what to tackle next from the pile, I finished Nonna’s cowl (using remnants of the Moda Vera Ambruni), and YoungB is home and it cheers me to see him still wearing the grey sweatshirt I made for him and even – take note! – to see Dr B wearing a balaclava I made for YoungB. It’s so cold we don’t care who wears what, really, it’s whatever it takes to keep the heat in (Dr B is not entirely bald. But there’s not a lot on top).

More worryingly, I haven’t started the bunting for Eldest Niece’s wedding, though she assures me she has all the fabric. The trouble is, the wedding is in October and, you know, I rarely have the luxury of full days available to me for sewing (especially with training to catch up on and maybe one weekend day with shared availability because of domestic interruptions). Never mind, we’ll get there. We will, one foot after the other. It’s really no good stressing about it because nothing I can say or do will change the situation.

I’d like to make all our Bloody Long Walkers a cooling neck collar – there are 11 in one team and six of us loosely associated but not precisely a team – so that’s another sewing task I need to address more urgently than the wedding decorations. If push comes to shove, I’ll do the six for my immediate crew and let the other team manage without but it would be good to have something for everyone. I think it’s unlikely to be hot in September, on present indications, but it’s foolish to be unprepared. Neck coolers are at least simple and, in this case, I think Great Aunt’s nurse’s uniform fabric might be just the shot: quality cotton and plentiful, no matter how many collars I make.

Wherever you are, whatever you’re up to and whatever weather surrounds you, I hope you’re finding a comfy spot to pursue all your favourite activities. I’m off to do some sewing.

 

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you’ll have to believe me on this one

Nonna is frail at the moment and feeling the cold. I’ve put aside my other crafty endeavours to crochet a neck-warmer for her. She already has a hot-pink one that I made her several years ago, but it has seen lots of use and is not as fresh and cosy as it once was. Enter the Moda Vera Ambruni white yarn, leftovers from Youngest Niece’s birthday present, and the demonstration moebius cowl I worked on with Colleague DS the other week. She’s making progress with hers, but has decided that, much as she loves to wear black, it’s too hard to work with. She’s changed to a grey instead. I know that Nonna would prefer something other than white (the hot-pink was a winner), but white is what I have so it will have to do for now. It works up nicely and the end results will be soft and warm.

I took a photo – not exciting, of course, but a photo – only we are having major technical problems (again!) so at this stage, I can’t share it. But, honest, I’ve done about six inches already. And isn’t it keeping my fingers warn on this very chilly day?

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2015 in Crochet

 

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sharing is truly caring

Here's one I prepared earlier: a completed Moebius cowl

Here’s one I prepared earlier: a completed Moebius cowl

I work for an organisation that helps people who look after other people. Some of my fellow workers are themselves carers and, although there have been tough times with YoungB, I know I’ve had it easy. Odd as it might sound, and this is not entirely age related, I’ve found fellow knitters, sewists, crocheters and crafters among my colleagues. Many admit to using such things to counter work-related stress. Colleague DS is about my age with sons around YoungB’s age. We share a star sign and a similarity with a couple of major life events.

Things are in severe upheaval at work, with packing the second part of our office making steady progress while the first half are unpacked and already settled in their new premises. We’re all busy, it’s winter and sometimes just putting one foot in front of the other is almost more effort than we can manage. I was humbled and gobsmacked when CDS presented me with a thoughtful little, handmade-by-herself gift of a necklace and a handbag pack for tissues (always welcome, because I’m so prone to allergic reactions to pretty much everything that I can never have too many tissues).

CDS says that her crafting days are what keep her sane through the struggles of raising her special needs son. I understand that. I used to knit while YoungB had swimming instruction in a pool specially for asthmatics (no entry without medical certificate). Tomorrow I’m taking a crochet hook and some yarn. During our lunch break, I’ll show her how I do the Moebius cowls, and she can then share that with her fellow crafters at the next session. I might now be one of the privileged, whose son is apparently normal and certainly doesn’t qualify as special needs, but I appreciate how easily my situation could be very different and if I can share something to help with the tough moments, then that’s a fine contribution to the caring.

 
 

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getting round to things

Eldest Niece's mitts have finally left my hands and I hope they'll soon be keeping hers warm.

Eldest Niece’s mitts have finally left my hands and I hope they’ll soon be keeping hers warm.

Today, the Aunts, two of the Nieces and I joined a fundraising walk, a gentle 4 Km circuit beginning and ending at a beachside venue familiar to me from the occasional Audax Christmas dinner. I don’t think any of us came remotely close to working up a sweat. No matter. We did it and enjoyed ourselves. Also, it provided an opportunity for me to hand over Youngest Niece’s birthday cowl (crocheted using Moda Vera Ambruni yarn) as well as the fingerless mitts for Eldest Nephew (knitted using Country Tartan 8 ply yarn) and Eldest Niece (photographed above and knitted using Bendigo’s Murano yarn, nominally an 8 ply). Middle Niece is pondering her options and will probably put in an order for one or the other article for her birthday in June 🙂

Meanwhile, I’m about four stitches away from completion of unpicking the sticky beanie (knitted using Moda Vera Bouvardia yarn) and hope to be back on the knitting of it by tonight (the four stitches are where I’ve woven in the ends, so I’m finding them particularly tricky). I won’t complete it tonight but it will only take a couple of evenings of work (it’s knitted in the round so there’s no seaming to contend with) to have it where it needs to be: ready for popping in the post to the friend whose head it’s intended to cover. Then, and I’ve promised myself it will be only then, I can make a start on some socks for Dr B.

And that’s as much of a plan as I can wrap my head around at the moment. Work is manically busy and we continue to have computer problems on the home front. I hope you’re faring better, whatever your weather and whatever you’re getting round to 🙂

 

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musings on mail and vexing calculations

Definitely white; this was a practice effort that has found a home with a colleague

Definitely white; this was a practice effort that has found a home with a colleague

Online ordering is quick and the results are occasionally fantastic. I was delighted that YoungB’s combined Christmas and birthday present, a pair of mid-length Ugg boots, arrived safely in a remarkably short time frame (particularly given that he’s in Italy; and, yes, I did send him some fingerless mitts for his actual birthday). The colour of the boots is brighter than I’d thought it might be but he loves them. Excellent.

I remain similarly impressed by the rapidity with which I take delivery of yarn orders from Bendigo. The contents of one recent packet were earmarked for a couple of cowls and a hat or maybe a couple of hats and a cowl but the idea was that one lot was for immediate use crocheting Youngest Niece’s requested cowl. My heart sank, however, when I pulled out what I’d seen as a white only to discover it wasn’t white at all. No matter. It won’t go to waste. That did, however, leave me with a shrinking time frame that I thought would be best addressed by the purchase of different yarn that I could actually check for myself as to colour.

Friday nights in the city can be quite a lot of fun. I walked into town after work, then I tucked into a bowl of laksa noodle soup with dumplings and a big pot of jasmine tea at one of my favourite eateries (Dumplings R Us, but it has no website). After that, I set out to buy yarn. I went from Lincraft to Spotlight, looking for a thick, white, woollen yarn. What I eventually found wasn’t what I’d had in mind but it was soft and, although there’s an acrylic component, it’s not so high that the resulting yarn feels plastic (unlike one that I used to work out a pattern; that was so plastic it actually squeaked). Luckily or unluckily, having been unwell with a cold, I was able to sit about and do not much but crochet the cowl, so I finished it well in time for Youngest Niece’s birthday.

What would it cost if I were to charge for it? Of course I take no account of the practice cowls or any of the work I did on the not-white one – I’ve now finished that and put it in my “this will come in useful for someone” box – but it took me easily 10 hours of work. You couldn’t possibly expect anyone to pay what that would mean in terms of cost, even if I worked it out at the Australian minimum wage (which is around $16.88 per hour). The yarn was $8 per 100-gram ball and I made a sizeable dent on the third ball. Let’s call that was $20. The work? Even at $10 per hour – such a low figure would raise the ire of people who do this sort of thing for a living; and rightly so – let’s say we’re looking at 10 hours or $100? No, you couldn’t anticipate that anyone would actually pay that amount for a very plain, hand-crocheted cowl. Yes, in real terms, it would be worth at least that much. I personally would be astonished if anyone were prepared to pay $50 for such a thing. So there’s the old discussion: handcrafting doesn’t pay.

As I say, for me this is just a hobby so I crochet in this case, or knit more usually, during my long commutes and maybe while I’m sitting around after tea discussing the day’s news or the next day’s schedule. It gives me something to do and makes me a nicer person. That shouldn’t devalue what I do but I understand that some might make an argument that I ought not to charge a high hourly rate. Some might even suggest that I shouldn’t charge at all for my time in those circumstances. I’m happy to make things for family members who appreciate them – and that Youngest Niece actually asked for this because she loves the original so much means she certainly is one such person – and I would never expect to factor in cost. All the same, if I wanted to be paid for my time, how would I ever calculate its worth?

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2015 in Crochet, Knitting, Musing, Travel

 

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