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scrub-a-dub

So now what? More than one day’s effort, really, but a good little wind-down exercise.

Because I’d had a weekend day in front of the computer doing something far too much like work – not complaining, because I was helping a friend, but admitting that it was a little too much screen time – and because I had the yarn Right There where I was sitting, I made some giant face scrubbies. YoungB thought they were coasters, but they’re not quite large enough (in my opinion). They’re pure cotton, so eco-friendly. Because they’re cotton they’re washable, meaning reusable many times. Eco-friendly again. Could they get any better?!

The question now is, do I make an accompanying laundry bag? Or should I simply enclose them in some heavy paper with the laundering instructions? Given how cold it is in my sewing room – much too cold to work there – the paper sounds like an appealing option. The purists would argue that paper isn’t quite as eco-friendly as a reusable fabric bag, but if I’m providing laundering instructions, they have to be written on something.

Made with 10-ply Bendigo Woollen Mills cotton held with 8-ply Lincraft cotton using a size G / 5.0 mm crochet hook and a mixed and matched pattern from several www sources. They’re nothing very extraordinary, but the crab-stitched final round is nice.

Please forgive the very poor photos and believe me when I say that they’re the pick of the bunch!

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2020 in Crochet

 

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alone and unarmed

What I ended up buying. Whichever way you look at it, it’s not cream. Image from Lincraft’s webpage.

I recently visited our LYS myself, seeking cream-coloured yarn. When I eventually found the store – that part was probably harder for me than it had been for Dr B – I was overcome by remorse: I’d sent Dr B into that store all alone and (relatively) unarmed, and with neither executive power nor sufficient information to make on-the-fly decisions about substituting other yarns should the one I’d asked for be unavailable. Poor man 😀

He said there were no signs, which I’d doubted, and can now confirm is not true. However, I agree that they might not have been meaningful to him. Even I had to think a bit about where the particular yarn I wanted might be lurking, given that that’s not the bricks-and-mortar location I usually frequent. But the yarn stands were right near the door and not easily missed. Finding particular yarns was trickier.

As it turned out that the particular yarn I wanted had all sold, or not been restocked, I then had to decide what I could substitute. But, of course, I had a lot more information at my fingertips to assist with that decision: I could feel the yarn to test thickness. I could look at the colour. I could assess whether coriander – that sort of mustard-yellow in the photo – would work with what I had already done AND what I planned to do. Dr B could have felt and looked at the yarn, but minus the critical info as to my plans – and, you know, plans are plans but if you have to change them, they’re more like “I might do this” ideas – his hands were tied.

That he did come home with the white yarn was miraculous enough, I think!

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2020 in Crochet

 

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colours and corners

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One row to tidy the bumpy bits

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A second row to add a bit of weight

Multiplication is commutative. Therefore, it is a fact that the long side of a row of five, four-inch squares will be 20 inches AND the long side of a row of four, five-inch squares will also be 20 inches. That’s the top of the baby rugs. With me so far?

Now factor in the joining round. Those five, four-inch squares have become five, five-inch squares. The long side of that row is now 25 inches. Let’s say those four, five-inch squares are now six-inch squares. The long side of that row is now – yes. Quite. The answer is NOT 25 inches.

The long side of a row of seven, four-inch squares that make the rainbow blanket is 28 inches; and 35 inches with the joining rounds calculated in. The long side of a row of six, five-inch squares that make the flower blanket is 30 inches; and 36 inches with the joining rounds included in the calculation.

I note that I usually think and work in metric measurements, but my pegboard is old and, understandably, Imperial; hence the sudden return to the old system. Whichever numbers I used, my calculations indicated that the overall area was similar, although one would be longer and thinner than the other.

In practice, the rainbow blanket was worked more loosely to accommodate the puffiness of the pattern, so it has more give and turned out a shade larger than calculated. The African flower pattern is flatter, so the blanket worked to a firmer, denser fabric and was a shade smaller than calculated at completion of joining.

I had planned a three-round, tricoloured border for the rainbow blanket, but as soon as I worked that first round of red (UK) dc, I knew it didn’t need more colour than that. It also didn’t need a wide border, because there’s so much going on in the body of the blanket. I worked a round of red htr and finished off the ends.

With its body being less busy despite containing a greater number of colours, the African flower blanket could carry a wider border, and a mix of colours would not be out of place. I worked the tidying round in parchment dc, and one of olive green dc in the same direction. To help reduce fluttery edges, I then worked a round of olive green htr in the opposite direction. The final round of light-mustard htr clusters worked into alternate stitches in the original direction pulled the edges back nicely and provided a firm finish.

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Four rounds using three colours from the main palette

So that’s what I’ve been up to, giving myself headaches and having a good time.

How about you? 😀

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2020 in Crochet

 

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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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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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bewilderingly different

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How amazing! It looks just like the picture. Oh, wait. It should. Right? I’ve now finished that dangling row and the fourth is almost at that stage.

Via one of those circuitous routes for which www is (in)famous, I’ve spent a few hours listening to some wondrous renditions of folk music. It wasn’t traditional in the sense of being hundreds of years old with more versions than you’ve had hot dinners, but it dated from the 1970s, so that’s probably traditional enough for most of us, and with enough versions to invite good comparative analysis (which, you’ll be relieved to hear, I won’t be entering into).

I started out with the latest post from one of my favourite knitting blogs, among whose comments was a mention of some lyrics from When Yellow’s on the Broom. That caught my attention because it wasn’t a song I knew. Off I scurried to look it up on YouTube. As you do. Right? I clicked the first I found, and I was hooked. It intrigued me enough that I chose to listen to several other versions and seek the lyrics (which you can find here or here – that one is an odd location but has chords if you’re at all tempted – or in a slightly more readable and informative version here).

Because I was otherwise occupied, I let autoplay take over. Via the Fields of Athenry – again, there are many recorded versions – and a few other unexpected delights, I ended up listening to a version of Eric Bogle‘s And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda. There are many recordings of Eric singing it, too, but I like this one where Eric is older and has unapologetically changed – without oversimplifying – the melodic line to accommodate his older voice.

The version that autoplay happened upon was totally bewildering. I think it’s fair to say we’d all have our own favourite singers and styles. Many would argue that anyone can sing, and anyone can sing anything they want to, if they can. Yeah, I know. I spent many years as a community musician, so I genuinely appreciate the value of encouraging everyone to join in.

To hear what is essentially a folksong sung by an operatic baritone was… unsettling. It wasn’t bad or unintelligent, and he does have a lovely, smooth voice. He has a couple of lazy habits that made me want to smack him – oh, all right, maybe just pull him up sharply in rehearsals and tell him to be more careful. I discussed it with Dr B, because I was struggling with the level of my own discomfiture. The singer’s mix of operatic technique and careful pronunciation with occasional deliberately careless pronunciation or mispronunciation and a few spots where he couldn’t quite make up his mind how many syllables he was going to use (but wasn’t consistent about that), plus the oversimplification of the melodic line (which might have been the arranger’s doing; I’m not necessarily blaming him for that)… the doc and I agreed it didn’t work. Sorry, Nathan. I think it would be a treat to listen to your operatic offerings but, yeah, nah. Leave the folksongs alone, mate.

Someone is going to point out, I dare say, that he’s probably ahead of his time: the day will come when that folksong is only ever heard in quasi-sacred settings in concert halls, and accompanied by an orchestra. After all, someone will say, Gaudeamus igitur began life as a student drinking song. It’s now a fairly serious anthem that gets dragged out for graduations and demands respect. Uuh, yeah. Yeah, I know. I do. I know.

Although I didn’t intend my comment about being hooked as a pun, it’s appropriate because I was, in fact, hooking all the while. I’m now almost halfway through joining the rainbow squares, after weeks of being unable to do much at all (for various reasons, not all Covid-related). I found a method of JAYG that I liked better than the one I originally looked at, which would be quick but leave gaps I’d prefer to avoid. It took me a while to find something else that I thought I would be able to do. I looked at this one, and liked it but decided that I would struggle to make it work with my squares. Someone more experienced could doubtless work it out; but there are days I sadly remind myself I’m first and foremost a knitter!

I dismissed this for similar reasons, and because I didn’t like the end result quite as much. I finally decided that I could make this method work, despite it being also intended for solid squares. Coming from underneath was the trick that sold me on it: you get a nice finish on both top and bottom. Oh, yes, you’re quite right, I could have simply used a (UK) double crochet seam, but that would have given me a ridge. I’m not in the camp that likes ridges. I prefer the join to be a smooth as possible.

My concern now, however, is whether I actually have enough white yarn to finish the job! Bewilderingly, I appear to be running out 😀

 

 

 
 

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virtually

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YoungB’s toes were once irresistibly tiny, too. Hard to believe how many years ago that was 🙂

About to celebrate YoungB’s birthday, and arranging to have an on-screen call with the rest of the family… these are trying times worldwide. Both YoungB and I are still at work, but unsure as to how much longer that will be the case. Other businesses and government departments have already implemented shutdown and work from home, where feasible. Retailers are reducing their trading hours and shopping centres are no longer crowded and bustling. But we are still out and about, whether or not we should be, and public transport is still being used by too many people.

To brighten the world, there’s another new baby cousin in the family. We’re not going to be able to visit to check out her toes, although I’m sure they’re every bit as tiny and irresistible as her cousin’s. In fact, as irresistible as any baby’s tiny toes, as the above photo illustrates. Yes, it’s blurry. The focal point was not on the toes; they’re a happy inclusion. If you could see those feet now!

I’m still working on the crocheted blankets. As I’ve said, they’re extras – likely to be christening gifts – but I am continuing to work on them. If we do go into shutdown, I might have more time to dedicate to the final rounds of both.

Wherever you are, I hope all is well with you and yours.

 
 

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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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impediments all round

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Even without green thumbs, I seem to have done quite well with this plant. It’s flourishing in a way my crocheted blankets certainly aren’t 😀

I acknowledge that many of my impediments to productivity are mental. I truly despair at the bureaucratic cynicism that permeates my workplace. It taints my thinking and I can’t drag myself to higher levels of recognition that, cynicism notwithstanding, our sector does a lot of good for a lot of people.

Real impediments also include a recent finger injury that’s painful and inconvenient, and makes sewing tricky no matter how dedicated I am with wound dressings. I think we’re just about out the other side with that one, so perhaps the sewing will ramp up again.

Let’s hope so. There’s only a couple more weeks before B-day, so I must get those rainbow squares joined asap, so that I can start on the next little blanket. Neither baby will be getting the blanket immediately, but lest you think I’m a terrible person, I mention only that these are extras, and I have already gifted more immediately useful items to both young women.

May your impediments be few, no matter what you’re up to 🙂

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

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the considerate, self-sufficient milennial

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All the squares are done now, but for the final joining round. This was the state of play when I took myself out to the pergola yesterday for a crochet session 😀

Recently, I watched YoungB cook himself brunch: scrambled eggs and ham, accompanied by fresh coffee (I was responsible for that bit). He is somewhat a natural foodie, as you might expect when food is such an important part of Italian culture and family life. He is also pragmatic enough that he could make a meal out of whatever is in the fridge and have you complimenting him when he presented the finished product. Dr B and I have both had a hand in teaching him that sort of versatility, though we approach the task in very different ways. It is certainly true that we could all “cook from the cupboard” in extremis, without missing a beat.

These are good skills for YoungB to have acquired over the years, and likely to stand him in good stead for the rest of his life. Knowing how to cook – his high-school cooking teacher nicknamed him Master Chef because she was so impressed by his pastry skills – and having spent those years working in hospitality have combined to give him a better appreciation of our quality local eateries, at one of which he and I recently enjoyed a hearty brunch.

When he returned from his year in Italy, he scoffed at our pasta machine because – he said; and rightly – it’s not a lot more effort to make pasta by hand, and there’s no doubt that the end product is superior. Quite. Not long ago, when I reminded him that he hasn’t made pasta for us in a long while, he agreed that life is often too busy to allocate the necessary amount of extra time, however small, and that – luckily for us – there are places nearby where we can buy good, fresh pasta. We often do. If you don’t support your local suppliers, you lose them and their contribution to your community.

Today, however, he has been cooking up a storm so that he has something to take for lunch most days this coming week. The gang from his workplace tends to eat out on Fridays, in part to support their local small eateries. There’s a good variety at that end of the CBD, to some extent dictated by proximity to university campuses and a major hospital. But today, YoungB cooked himself some burrito mix, prepped and rolled a couple and put them in his lunchbox ready for tomorrow’s dash out the door.

He wrapped a couple for me, too, so that neither Dr B nor I need worry about lunch tomorrow or the next day. Not only that, he helped me with a couple of domestic chores that have proved beyond Dr B – some at-height cleaning that requires ladders, steady hands and good eyesight, and defies all but the most dedicated efforts – and then let me sit and work at the baby blanket uninterrupted while he cooked.

What a thoughtful young man. He’s definitely worth the food 🙂

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2020 in Crochet, Food

 

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