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Tag Archives: crochet

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 ūüė¶ 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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if not winning, then certainly grinning

You’ve probably noticed how erratically I’ve been blogging. That’s been largely because I’ve had no desktop computer for the best part of a year. Tonight I’m back on a desktop computer; my own, what’s more. This is a reality too wonderful to contemplate so it’s a good thing that there are downsides such as a very sticky keyboard – that’s been swapped already – and quite the wrong workstation to accommodate the new machine.

The experience¬†of being without a computer for such a long time¬†leads me to observe that, when you can’t use your computer, you end up not doing a lot of work that you should be doing, which is occasionally close to disastrous. On the other hand, if you knit and crochet, you end up doing a lot of crocheting and knitting and I have been: several crocheted cowls and six pairs of knitted, fingerless mitts (at last count). The mitts – using a variety of yarns but predominantly Bendigo’s Murano – have¬†garnered particular admiration and a rash of requests for made-to-order birthday presents. “Please?” Eldest Niece asked in a very winning way. I like it when people ask for something I can manage that I know they’ll use and enjoy. Not having a computer for so long wasn’t a win in most respects but I am at least grinning because I can truthfully say that I’m doing quite well with my not-a-New-Year’s-resolution to spend more time being creative.

Next step, sorting out photos! Wish me luck.Or do you think I should step away from that for another year?

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2015 in Crochet, Knitting

 

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not a good start but a better second plan

You know how I mentioned that I was considering remaking an existing garment so I’d have a newer one to wear to a party? Yeah, well, I didn’t do it. There was no time. Too many of life’s little interruptions are already interrupting the smooth run of the year. No big deal. The intention was a good one but sometimes other priorities override the best of intentions. That’s why I have a couple of respectable dresses in my wardrobe. They’re old – we are talking considerably older than YoungB – but they were good quality when new and I wear them so seldom that people think they’re new. ūüôā Even Dr B has made that assumption about one of them!

That was the outcome of my first half-maybe-a-sort-of-plan project for the year. Moving right along, Youngest Niece has asked me if I would make her another cowl for winter. She offered to buy the yarn and pay me for my labours, which I greatly appreciated. Her birthday is coming up, so I think I can use that as a very good excuse for getting busy with my crochet hook and not worrying about payment; though, as I say, I truly appreciate her offer because it’s a recognition that there’s time and effort involved as well as yarn. The caveat might be that if, for instance, any of her friends would like such a cowl because they admire hers so much, I would expect them to pay. With that in mind, I intend to keep a rough tally of how many hours it takes. It will be several bus trips, I promise you.

Yes, it’s a crocheted cowl. I made her a green one some years ago and she loves it but finds that it’s not a colour she wears with much but black. However, she would wear a white cowl with most other garments in her wardrobe. That’s me sorted for commute crafting for the next couple of weeks, I think, if I can remember quite which of the many designs I used for her original cowl. The beauty of crochet, of course, is that it doesn’t require quite so much arm space on a crowded bus. I have ordered some yarn from¬†my favourite supplier and it’s on its way; but that will mean I don’t make an immediate start. Her birthday isn’t for another three or four weeks. That’s bags of time, I tell you, absolutely bags; probably enough time for me to knit her an accompanying beanie, so long as I stick to a plainish design (not TOO many cables and stuff).

Anyone wanna bet how quickly that plan also gets derailed?

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2015 in Crochet, Knitting, Sewing

 

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more rovescio than diritto

To put that into context for you, they’re Italian knitting terms: diritto means knit, rovescio means purl (and knitting is lavorare a maglia as opposed to crochet, which is done with an uncinetto and is also called uncinetto). Rovescio also has that other connotation or overtone of “reverse”. Although I’ve been knitting my most recent beanie in the round and therefore there’s only been a bit of rovescio at the start to do the ribbing, I’ve certainly been reversing a fair amount of it while helping out with the Italian emails. My pile of kinked yarn is growing as I steadily tink back to the point where I goofed with the shaping. You wouldn’t think it would take so long – and if I’d simply yanked the needles out and pulled, it probably wouldn’t – but this yarn (I’m once again using Moda Vera Bouvardia, which has some unexpected but attractive colourways and always knits up to a soft, warm finish) is slightly sticky and I’ve found in the past that it’s better served by being taken apart stitch by stitch, however painful. That’s what I’ve been doing, round by careful round and doing my best not to poke anyone in the eye as I wave my spare set member about (that would be a DPN, by the way, for anyone who prefers that terminology).

Reversing a reverse

Reversing a reverse

Also, we’ve been doing a lot of Italian here lately (spot the Italian dictionary in the photo). All three of us spent a whole day curled up in bed – because Dr B had bunged up his knee and couldn’t walk; but there was work to be done! – writing a fairly simple email to the Italian academic liaison officer who’s YoungB’s contact person at Bologna. There is nothing simple about an email that needs to clarify many of the subtle points arising from the very different academic systems. However, with all of us on the job, me on coffee brigade, YoungB occasionally calling it quits to go stretch his legs and Dr B keeping us focused on the job and acting as our (Italian) thesaurus, we did it. Trouble is, as YoungB says, we’ve set the bar too high. His [written in the email] Italian sounds so good that they probably think he’s practically dreaming in it. Uuh, not quite. However, by the end of the day – you might call it a crash course in bureaucratese immersion – he was certainly much better able to come up with his own alternative modes of expression.

After a few heart-stopping moments early in the day, when it seemed as if nothing we’d said previously was going to carry any weight short of taking our case to a Very Big Wig (and that’s something you want to avoid at all costs, Italian bureaucracy being what it is), we managed to convince the folk in Italy that, well, all things considered, this kid is practically a genius! No, he’s not. He’s bright enough but intellectually lazy – one of his Year 12 teachers advised him that he wouldn’t be able to get by on good looks and charm for much longer, at which we laughed uproariously (hardly the ideal parental response) – but even so, the biggest hurdle wasn’t whether or not he was up to the subject choices, disparate though they appeared at first glance, more that the Italian system doesn’t seem to have much space for combined degree patterns though there’s enormous flexibility within degrees. In the end that might amount to the same thing.

Be that as it may, YoungB is enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science combined degree. It’s not that uncommon here though there are other degree programs with higher enrolment numbers (anything with Law and Economics, for example, and the Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Music is likewise popular; in that case largely, I suspect, because it allows music students to have better employment options at the end of it all). Because YoungB likes humanities subjects and science subjects and he had – indeed, still has – no idea of what he wants to do when he finishes his undergraduate studies, the double degree sounded like the best of both worlds and a good basis for whatever he might decide to take to higher study. Nobody said it was going to be easy, and it hasn’t been, but he’s passing his exams¬†and enjoying himself. That’s reward enough for his efforts, we think.

While it might be the case that there are Italian universities where such weirdness exists happily, Bologna doesn’t seem to have that crossover readily available, hence the root cause of much of our recent anxiety. Once we’d curled up and nutted out a detailed but not overdone explanation of what YoungB’s subjects hitherto had involved and further explained why he’d chosen first-year subjects at 75% load – his poor Italian skills being a big part of all that, as he pointed out at different parts of the email – the very prompt response was, “OK, you’re good to go with what you’ve chosen,” or words to that effect. There was a further comment in the email that it’s unusual to be doing such unrelated areas of study concurrently, hence our feeling that combined degrees in such diverse disciplines are either rare or non-existent in the Italian tertiary sector. Never mind. We got the green light so whichever way you look at it, that was a very good use of our day.

I’m not quite back to going forward with my knitting, but there’s probably only another round to tink before I’ll once again be roaring full steam ahead with diminishing the number of stitches. My friend whose head this beanie is intended to cover is already in dire need of it – he lives in Tasmania, where the mornings are cold – so, along with the urgency of needing to explain newfangled Aussie degrees and degree patterns to an Italian at Europe’s oldest university, there’s the urgency of a bald head that needs a warm hat. It’s now going to be diritto all the way and no rovescio at all if I can help it. Would you reckon that’s going to work or will there be another slew of unpredictable reverses to push it all onto the back burner? Only time will tell.

 
 

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FO and a sort of plan for next year

I hope you’ve all enjoyed your Christmas celebrations, whatever form they took.

An FO? Yes, just one: the White Caps Cowl, which I was knitting till almost 9 o’clock on Boxing Day morning (luckily for me, it wasn’t needed until lunchtime; but, yes, it was somewhat necessarily, therefore, gifted unblocked). Sewing? A few lavender bags. Other knitting? None. Surviving the end-of-year busy-ness was sufficient achievement. And, as I’ve yet to send cards, I’m not too sure if we have survived. I’m going to call them New Year cards, though. But, you know, we made it through a festival of feasts and visits by friends and family, a birthday, a wedding anniversary, exam results, exploding champagne, a concert or two and lots of everyday stuff that included inordinate amounts of time dedicated to fitness pursuits (no, not me; that was everyone else while I was playing laundry lady).

What can I say about the White Caps Cowl? I adapted it slightly in terms of number of repeats. I think it’s probably a make that would knit to a nicer finish in its recommended yarn but I’m quite taken by the weight of the Patons Sorrento, the hint of glamour it provides with the slightly shimmering aspect of its mixed fibre and the smooth contrast of the Cleckheaton Bamboo. As far as knitting went, the bamboo was much easier on the hands and I was able to make reasonable progress. The variable thickness of the Sorrento slowed me down quite a lot. It hasn’t put me off by any means, as I’ve stocked up my cupboard with enough yarn to make a couple more of the White Caps Cowls throughout the year (it really is good on-the-bus knitting and I love the look of it). I might not use a faux seam with another make; it doesn’t really ring my bells. The photo was taken hurriedly with my phone, prior to wrapping; excuse background (bedcover) and less than ideal lighting.

Flat cowl

Not exciting but looks better in action

One of our visiting friends has put in a couple of knitting requests and I’ll be happy to oblige her with a Villawool Inca L574 hat in a colour scheme to her liking (that will be a reasonably fast knit, even at my pace). I’ve yet to decide on the yarn for that (the Villawool Inca being no longer available) but am fairly sure I could manage it from stash, which you’d have to consider a win. Hardly surprisingly, the really thick winter yarns are somewhat thin on the shelves at this time of year. There will also be a three-colour linen stitch scarf though I have absolutely no intention of making it as long as its predecessor. I understand about long scarves and cold climes, truly I do; but there is a point beyond which the extra length simply gets in the way. I bought yarn¬†for that yesterday at Spotlight. I would like to make one for myself but will wait and see how other things pan out before I make that a firm promise/plan.

I started something akin to a prayer shawl – perhaps a care shawl – for a colleague who has had a rotten year by anyone’s standards. I won’t finish it quickly (the needle size is just on the edge of my comfort zone and I struggle to find a rhythm even with the very easy pattern) but it might be ready for her April birthday. In any case, she’s not expecting it so in some respects I have as much leeway as I need on that one.

The yarn bombing coordinator rang the other day to ask for more contributions: red hearts and lots of roses, not necessarily red, for another yarn bombing project, the previous one in Victoria Square having been hailed as such a success. I’ve already crocheted up a few test roses which will be perfectly acceptable contributions and am looking around for a heart pattern that looks sufficiently heart-like and sufficiently large. I think this one¬†fits the bill. I know where the drop-off point is and I have my dark glasses at the ready so I can ensure my hearts and flowers are there before the due date. You might not be surprised to hear that Dr B and YoungB have somewhat taken this yarn bombing idea and run with it, referring to secret language, pack leaders and cell members as if it were an underground movement. I humour them. At least they’re not objecting!

In sewing news, I’ve repaired YoungB’s Draggins¬†(kevlar-reinforced motorcycling jeans) again, having previously taken up the hem by the amount he requested. Anyone who knows about jeans will understand that much use had seen them sag to a point where the hems were in shreds. This time I cut off the original and new hems and turned them up twice. They might look a shade short were he to wear them with loafers but as that’s unlikely – his motorcycling gear has been carefully chosen to enable him to wear it all day, boots included (though I’d accept that leathers in winter are for on the bike and not much else) – then we reckon that this time they won’t catch on his boots nor drag on the ground. That’s not the sort of drag the brand intends although I’ll be very happy if it’s the only sort this pair of jeans ever encounters.

I still haven’t managed to make a new top for myself or tinkered with my rescued skirt and stripey trousers to create the jacket I’d half-imagined could be made from them, using Portia’s kimono-tee pattern as inspiration (it’s a winner; I’ve already used it to make five tops of varying degrees of respectability). They will happen at some point, I suppose. However, I have received my Pattern Pyramid winnings from Meg¬†and will undoubtedly have something to show you from that; but not just yet. So if you’ve been eagerly awaiting the announcement, take this as advance warning. I’m still rather run off my feet and although – o frabjous day! – I have managed to clear the sewing table (nearly, anyway), I have a couple of other urgent tasks that simply have to be done before I can allow myself to be frivolous.

All in all, I think 2013 is going to be just like 2012: full of good intentions, lots of things made that I didn’t really intend to make, other people’s things coming ahead of mine on a regular basis and anything made for myself done terribly last-minute and not terribly well! I do hope that you have a better year in terms of your crafty endeavours, whatever form they take. Cheers, everyone, and happy new year.

 
 

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