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Category Archives: using up stash

vintage fernleaf coat

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In 1985, I also made a little coat in fernleaf stitch

Made (by me when I was living) in Italy involved a considerable amount of rather lovely knitting. I think I knew that. When I dragged out my old photo albums to check, I was surprised by the amount of work I’d put in! I couldn’t manage it now because I would rarely – read, nobody would let me – have that much uninterrupted time.

Back then, several things helped: considerable amounts of youthful enthusiasm, it being winter, having uninterrupted weekends while Dr B was away at masterclasses on the other side of the country, fewer interruptions from him when he was home because he was studying, and generally being so impecunious that staying home was a good option. And if you stay home and there are babies on the way, well, you knit. Right? I did.

I purchased the blue yarn that I used for the angel top locally in the village, and the ribbon, but the white yarn had travelled in a tea-chest from Australia. I’d bought it to knit a hap for a friend’s baby a couple of years earlier. If you’re like me, and it’s the time of your life when many around you are having babies, you stock up. I had done just that. I’d bought the whole pack, not merely what was required for the knitting immediately in question. Buying the white yarn wasn’t something I had to do in Italy.

You might wonder why I chose blue ribbon. I’d looked for white at the local shop. My memory is that they either didn’t have any, or didn’t have enough. In the expectation that any child likely to have red hair would look good with blue ribbons, I’d opted for that as less offensive than pink. I think the fernleaf coat and the christening gown I also knitted – using a different pattern – still have the blue ribbons, but it would be a small matter to change them for white.

Details? Goodness! A good knitter keeps patterns as well as yarn, so I’ve run off to the other end of the house and checked:

  • Pattern: coat of the Outfit in Fernleaf Stitch, Australian Home Journal Baby Knitting Book Number 1 (third printing; no year of publication).
  • Yarn: pattern calls for 3-ply baby yarn, so I expect that’s what I used; but I couldn’t say where I actually bought it or what brand it was.
  • Needles: pattern calls for 3.25mm, so I expect that’s what I used.
  • Sleeve seam of coat: 12cm.

Curiosity details: I’ve used a couple of musician’s tricks, such as writing bits of the next and/or previous page pattern at the bottom/top obviously to give myself a heads-up to help avoid errors and unpicking. Dr B has also scribbled some notation on the blank portion of one page. I have no idea what that was about!

The things you find when the next generation comes along 😀

 

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dowel pins, dowelling or chopsticks

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I made it work when I was able to spread out under the pergola. But it’s too cold for that now.

When I needed to block my granny squares, I went hunting in the shed. I’m a great believer in using what you have and I knew that Dr B had a stash of pegboard. He was happy to give me a sheet, so I cleaned it up then scratched my head in an effort to make it work! I wasn’t able to find any dowelling and ended up buying a pack of small dowel pins, for which we will undoubtedly find other uses.

As you can see, I padded the holes and made the dowel pins fit. Their height, or lack of it, was the truly limiting factor. The rainbow squares were – indeed, still are – puffy rather than flat. At that time of the year, I was able to spread out under the pergola. That I could only fit three squares per set wasn’t too much of a drama. I simply added another square to the board and away we went.

I admit I tried chopsticks, but couldn’t convince myself that they fitted well enough. Also, given that I could spread out, it wasn’t necessary to go higher. Times change, by which I mean that it’s now winter and cold and I’ve decided that I can pad the pegboard even more than I did for the dowels so that chopsticks DO fit!

I have now built myself a single-block tower using the straightest chopsticks from our collection – accumulated over many years – to give me height. They’re not wooden, so there’s no likelihood that the yarn will snag.

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It’s not perfect but it does the job, and I can use it to block all the squares for one blanket 😀

I’d seen someone else doing a neat trick with pegs, in that case providing some tension on the squares. I hunted in my peg bag (joint contributions, don’t you know) and found those pegs. They’re hopeless at the job for which they were intended, but they work well here in providing tension not on the squares, but on keeping the tower square.

Ah, improvisation. Don’t you love it?

 

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it only takes a couple extra efforts

Definitely going to need another ball of yarn. The big one at the back doesn’t match.

Yesterday’s “short, sharp and shiny” meetings – we’re usually very good at ensuring that they are – were long, blunt and quite dull. There was a lot of important information, but because of my not having any workplace equipment at home, I could zone out during that part. I did; to the extent that I managed to finish attaching another row of my blanket.

I did more of it last night, very dedicatedly shutting myself away from the boys and the TV to keep up with the joining.

Today it was computer outages that allowed me a bit of extra hooking time. And, you’re right, if I’d thought about it soon enough, I could have used my slightly-too-thick white yarn to do the lot, and nobody would have noticed. I didn’t think about that as a solution until much, much too late. So, you know, bother, and a trip to the LYS has become a necessity. But I am very pleased with how the blanket is looking and the speed with which it is now progressing.

Details at some later date, but in the meantime… I’m off to be a hooker 🙂

 

 

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stuck here for a bit

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I have completed a bit more since joining my new yarn

As you can see, the blanket-making is showing good progress, but Life pressing in with its usual urgency means I’m now going to struggle to find large chunks of time that aren’t circumscribed by employment necessities.

YoungB will be back at his office from tomorrow, hence today is a little less casual and cosy than it could be as we get the last bits and pieces sorted out. He took his equipment back yesterday and plans to ride his pushbike tomorrow so that he doesn’t lose the benefit of any lockdown fitness gains, or squander money on a bus fare when he could choose a cheaper option. Really, Adelaide’s bus fares are not as exorbitant as he thinks, but they are a consideration when you’re trying to be careful of both your money and the planet. Later on, he’ll do a cook-up.

My office starts a staged return the following Monday, whatever that means in real terms. I have no departmental equipment so I might be one of the first to return because I can simply go to my desk, stoke up and start working. Or, because I don’t have any departmental equipment, I might be one of the last so that I can continue to be productive at home while everyone else gets IT issues sorted out amid considerable noise and disruption. It won’t be seamless, but our local corporate team is excellent, so it will certainly be as smooth as possible. As I’ve said before, I’ll simply do as I’m told.

Given that our “new normal” probably means future WFH is likely to be approved for folk not sick enough to stop working but potentially carrying a contagion – if, for example, you have a cough that is probably harmless but might not be; and nobody would want to risk the latter – I will buy another ergonomic mouse this week, so that I have one at home and one at work. Just in case. Also, flu season is on its way.

I’ve already done a reasonable amount of joining work on the blanket: by now seven squares are fully enclosed. However, there are 35 squares in total. As you can see, some are already partially enclosed but I don’t think I could claim I’m truly at the halfway mark and I’ve had to start my second ball of white cotton yarn. Considering all of that, I might also make a mercy dash to my LYS to purchase another one. I can’t imagine how cranky I’d be if I ran out half a square from the end! As it’s white, it would always be useful for something.

I pause to note that my stash contains a 200g ball of white cotton yarn that would have given me ample wiggle room; but it’s the wrong thickness and noticeably different.

May all your existing yarn be precisely adequate for your needs 😀

 

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mostly not doing it now

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The pleats never seem to work very well, even though I ironed them and used pins before I stitched. That’s the right side.

Wearing masks, that is, although Dr B and I continue to wear ours. Like the idea of actually observing the physical distancing rules, masks just haven’t taken off in our small corner of the world. Dr B is the one out there doing the hunter-gatherer bit, and he laments that everyone else thinks they’re immune. I suppose that must be right.

Eldest Aunt asked if I’d make a mask for her. I’m sure it would have been quicker and easier for her to make her own, but I did; and it’s gone off in a parcel with a couple of other bits and pieces and she should have it in a week or so. Express Post is anything but express nowadays, but we still have a postal service, so we are fortunate indeed.

This time I used a flannelette lining, to provide some extra protection. It didn’t add greatly to the bulk. Once again, I used pipe-cleaner to make the nose grip, but I was happier with how it turned out.

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That’s the back of the mask, so that it’s easy to tell which side you’ve worn to your face. You could wear either side as the front.

I hope your sewing has also been quick and effective.

 

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essentially serving in viral times

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Easily laundered and adequate for providing some protection when out shopping

In the strangely altered world that Covid-19 sees descending upon us – perhaps too slowly here in Australia, in the sense that federal messages lack clarity with regard to what is and is not allowable – stress is plainly taking its toll. Many of my fellow workers are finding it difficult to focus. The differing loyalties of private citizen and public servant are tested on a daily basis. We watch the numbers unfold and we keep working.

I can report that, from my perspective, the world is much quieter without planes overhead and with a reduction in the number of the vehicles passing our front door. As public service is essential service, I am still commuting daily by public transport. There are fewer fellow commuters. We are probably not the regulation 1.5 metres apart, but at about one person per double seat, that might be the best we can do for now. Nobody coughs. Nobody sneezes. I’m sure nobody would dare!

YoungB is now established in his home office set-up and officially working from home (or WFH, as the current jargon has it). My office has trialled it for a small team. There’s an overall business contingency plan (BPC) that is encouraging us to set up now, so that we’re all ready to jump should the word come from on high. Which “on high” that is may come down to being a decision as to whether we eventually heed state or federal edicts. Whichever it is, it won’t be up to me. I’ll just do as I’m told.

I have made a couple of masks that are definitely not hospital grade, nor intended to be. It is true that, in earlier days, hospital masks were made of gauze fabric, and sufficiently effective to have been around for many years. Times change, and newer production technologies mean that more effective materials are now available for those running the highest risks.

However, like those earlier hospital masks, what ours do is provide some protection against droplets: protecting us from the droplets of others, and others from our droplets. For the small amount of time Dr B is out and about doing essentials, it’s enough for him. He meets criteria for two of the high-risk categories and is increasingly anxious about the casualness with which fellow citizens are behaving in our neighbourhood. He can’t do anything about their behaviour, only his own. This mask helps to give him some degree of comfort.

The fabric is a very old cotton from my inherited stash, lined with a softer cotton that’s a plain, dark colour. The pattern is something of a hack from many of the excellent tutorials out there in www land, particularly YouTube. Dr B has a large frame, which meant that I needed to get the size right. I’m not convinced I got the pleats right – perhaps I should have used the iron more judiciously – but the resulting mask is a comfortable fit. I needed to tweak the length of the elastic to ensure a close fit around his face, but that was all. Most tutorials recommend bag ties for the nose-grip, but I used pipe cleaner because that’s what I had. It works.

To our immense relief, all our Italian family members are safe at this time.

Wherever you are, I hope all your family members are safe, too.

Stay home. Wash your hands. And take care. 🙂

 

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yeah, orright

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Just about time to crank out the handknitted headgear, too 🙂

All things considered, it’s looking like time to reinstate the winter sheets. You what?! I  know. Sunday was warm to the point of being what some might consider hot – we reached the forecast maximum of 31 degrees – but the nights are cool enough, and YoungB’s cabin doesn’t retain heat as well as the house. He asked for warmer sheets. I’m on his side. The only delay might arise from the need to purchase new bedlinen for his new mattress (a larger, thicker one than its predecessor).

On the weekend, I was looking at wool over at my LYS. Only looking, honest (as well as checking their bedlinen; nothing suitable for YoungB’s bed, alas). Wool is something of which I need no more for years, but I like to check out what’s in vogue this season, even if I don’t purchase anything. I have a large enough stash to keep me going for a while and for the sorts of things I make, stash yarns are usually  more than adequate; unless someone requests something specific that requires yarn that either I don’t have or couldn’t substitute.

Further progress on squares for baby blankets? Yeah, no, not so much. YoungB and I had a night-time outing on Saturday, after what had been a busy working week for both of us. We caught up with Youngest Aunt and Uncle for a meal together at a nearby pub before heading off for what was actually the second part of Youngest Aunt’s birthday present:  a night-time walking tour of West Terrace Cemetery, with theatrical re-tellings of some of the more hair-raising tales. Adelaide is renowned for bizarre murders, so the selected stories didn’t disappoint..

The tours do run outside of Fringe and Festival times, but for us it was a Fringe gig. It was also a cemetery none of us had ever before visited, as we have no forbears buried there and YoungB – who did his high-schooling practically next door – didn’t visit it as part of any cultural excursion. It’s large, and would repay a visit during daylight hours, one of these days. My godfather is buried there with his family, so I could take a bunch of flowers for him to make it worthwhile.

I hope your weekend was more productive than mine, but I’m claiming cultural education as my reason. Could you really disagree with that? 🙂

 

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enabling or providential

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Sing me a rainbow! I hope you can read the colours, in case you want to order some, too 🙂

My mother was a great enabler. I well recall the day she came to me and mentioned, oh so casually, something along the lines of, “I’ve just been to the local second-hand shop and there’s a set of hardback Dickens novels there for $10.” She didn’t suggest I should buy them. But, as a uni literature student, it was pretty much a given that I would do so. And I did! I have them still, and they don’t look at all out of place with the variety of other books in my library shelves including a good selection of other Dickens titles.

How could I forget the time she encouraged me to buy a piano, accompanying duet stool and assorted sheet music, at auction? We had a piano at home, but I was about to head out into the world on a permanent basis and would need my own so, you know, it was not a silly suggestion and the instrument was in fair condition. We decided on my upper bidding limit, which was obviously dictated by my then financial resources. My limit turned out to be higher than that of my chief rival bidder, because the piano came home with me. Once tuned, it moved with me to various suburban locales and enabled me to put in a lot of hard work over many years before I sold it to a fellow student and bought a more serious instrument. Every now and then, I dust off some of the sheet music that formed part of that original auction item.

When it comes to yarn, however, I must say that Bendigo Woollen Mills (BWM) do it every time! I receive one of their new shade cards and oh, the colours! Or, oh, the softness. Often, it’s oh, the colour and the softness. I’ve been looking around for cotton to crochet little blankets for a couple of new cousins. I generally trawl my LYS in the hope of finding something appropriate because I like to shop locally. The dilemma then is that, if I do find anything, although I’m keeping my spending local and can start straightaway, I’m generally buying overseas product. BWM takes a little more time, but it’s local enough to be a better environmental option at least with regard to its travel-related carbon footprint.

Luckily, time is on my side for these blankets, as they’re not required until next year. I will use up some stash yarn, but wanted a splash of brightness and my stash is largely on the sombre side. I haven’t seen anything in the LYS that could hope to rival the colours in the latest shade card from BWM. The two new colours are particularly appealing. So, you know, I might have to bend the plastic and crochet a few extra blankets while I’m at it, just in case there are to be any other new cousins.

May all your enablers have such providentially helpful timing 😀

 

 

 

 

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obviously random

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Not exciting. But a little rug to keep my knees warm at work. And for that, exciting indeed 🙂

If I’d put any thought into this, the variegated yarns would be distributed more evenly against the solids. As it is, and as you can see quite plainly, they’re not mixed at all. I had the variegated yarns on top of my scrap bag, ready for another project. The solids were below that. I simply started at the top and kept going.

So, yeah. Totally unplanned and uninteresting but finished and fit for purpose, namely keeping my knees warm at the office during freezing summer aircon temps. And potentially useful in winter, but probably not at the office where even I have been known – very occasionally – to remove a jacket because the aircon is too hot :/

Details of this project:

Pattern (something like this):

  • Chain 60 (or any even number of your choice; this is what I used for this small rug).
  • Commence first row in second chain from hook, working all UK half-treble (US half-double) crochet; so that you end up with an odd number of stitches to work the mesh pattern.
  • Work 3 chain at end of each row then turn.
  • All other rows 1 UK treble (US double), 1 chain, miss a stitch, repeat to end.
  • Work into the top of the treble/double in the row below (so that you end up with a mesh).
  • Repeat until desired length.
  • Last row, all UK half-treble (US half-double) crochet.
  • Tidy up your ends, thrown it in for a quick wash, hang it out in the sun to dry, and that’s it.

Yarn: a variety of synthetic 8-ply/UK-DK yarns from my scrap bag. All yarns held double. How much I used is tricky to calculate, but probably 200g of one colour and whatever I had of the others to a matching overall amount. I joined using a knot. Quite a bit of the yarn already had knots in it, so I decided to go with the flow. As far as possible, I crocheted ends in as I went.

Hook: Milford plastic 9mm/US13 hook (according to the information on it).

Time from start to finish: a couple of weeks.

Did it dent the stash? It must have, and I think I have now actually run out of 8-ply variegated yarn. There are still four-and-a-bit balls of the green yarn and there is a reasonable amount of the grey-blue.

Make it again? Yes, but perhaps a little larger. This suits me, but everyone else in the family is taller, so would need more coverage. It was a good TV-watching project because of the simple, repetitive pattern.

So, yeah. Back to the housework now. Dr B is out on a motorbike ride and YoungB has been away at the coast with friends. It’s a lovely laundry day!

No matter what you’re up to, I hope you’re enjoying sunshine and down time with your favourite craft 😉

 
 

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and is it really nearly midwinter already?

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Recent flurry of floral activity in the garden

I think we all know the answer to that.

Knitting progress? Not quit nil, but very slow. Crochet progress? Minus – that is to say, I’ve had to unpick the little I’ve managed. Sewing? Nil. Surviving? Yep, we’re managing that in the face of some serious setbacks. We might not be the creators we once were – I couldn’t tell you how long it is since any of us was involved in a live performance – but I think we could safely claim that we are survivors.

It hasn’t all been horrible. YoungB graduated. Yeah!! That’s not his afternoon ceremony, but one from the following morning. I thought you might like a glimpse of the lovely (nowhere near as old as you might think) hall in which Adelaide University graduations take place (as did Youngest Aunt’s in the late 1970s and Dr B’s in the early 1980s). Eldest Aunt (who graduated interstate) and Youngest Aunt attended the ceremony too, so we made plenty of noise when YoungB’s name was only slightly mispronounced – the small matter of a gender change with his middle name! – and he was presented with his two testamurs.

We had some time to kill between the end of the ceremony and our dinner booking. So we dodged downpours to consume coffee at the nearby Art Gallery cafe, then tramped up side streets to a trendy, inner-city bar with wondrous heating, for more refreshments. Youngest Uncle joined us at the celebratory dinner here, where our attentive waiter plied us with some spectacular wines. It was a long and tiring day, but a most worthwhile celebration. Well done, YoungB. That was a long half-decade, but you did it.

But it is true that matters medical, matters of family history, matters of world uproar and domestic repercussions, matters of friends and some of their woes have all tried to tip us off the planet this year. All the same, here we are. And in a delightful twist, a visiting cousin’s recent – joking – insistence on needing a splayd to eat his slice of orange-and-almond cake was met with provision of the requisite implement; a set of which had been a wedding gift from his parents. Impressive stuff. Right? Dr B was actually more impressed by the fact that I knew precisely where to go to locate the splayds. Plainly, there’s a great deal of chaos but it hasn’t yet overwhelmed us.

May your world still be wobbling on the usual orbit, and remember that fingernails don’t have to be talons to enable you to hang on. 😉

 

 

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