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left this world – and squares

Unnamed artists’ contributions

We were at a funeral where my voice singing some of Dr B’s work was emanating from the speakers. Only we three would have known that, as there was no mention of performers on the memorial card and, although a home audience, it wasn’t one familiar with my voice or Dr B’s work.

I muttered to the Bs that it’s becoming a habit to hear myself at funerals. Yeah. You might wonder if it’s simply that we’ve arrived at the right demographic. I think it’s more that we’re always willing to contribute in acknowledging other creative people, particularly when they’re long-time friends with whom we share – or have shared – creative histories.

Only we three knew how astonishingly special that recording was: one of Dr B’s more experimental works that exists only in his computer, his phone, and now in this version as part of funeral music for our mate. As well as having composed it, Dr B is singing. YoungB is singing, I’m singing, another well-known friend is singing, and the mate we were celebrating was also singing. His was the voice that everybody knew, and the others were relegated to backing vocals. We thought that was the best send-off we could give him and felt that we’d truly played our part(s).

Then it was time to come home and donate to the charity-blanket collection. YoungB drove me to the drop-off point, and I left my squares at the door, in a box already brimming with enough others for a cheery, sizeable rug. It’s not quite from the sublime to the ridiculous, but it’s certainly a different section of the creative continuum; and all the creatives involved in the blanket will also be forever anonymous while being forever immortalised 🙂

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2022 in Knitting, Singing

 

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leave your squares at the door

I’ll drop them off tomorrow

The call for squares went out via one of my knitting groups. They needed to be as near as possible to 15cm x 15cm, using 8-ply acrylic; and whether they were knitted or crocheted wasn’t important. Someone would then take all those squares and make them into a blanket, which in turn would be presented to a nearby hospital. No colour or pattern specification required, just whatever you had on hand that would cheer someone in need of comfort.

I thought it would be the ideal opportunity to use up some stash yarn that met those descriptions and was never going to be quite right with anything else, so I cast on using 4.00mm needles. That was about when Life in general started to go off the rails, so I simply point out that, even as a child, when I was the most beginner of knitters, I have probably never tinked a garter-stitch item quite so many times! Of course, I had expert assistance to hand in those days, in the shape of my mother and aunts; nowadays, I’m my own expert assistance most of the time, and I obviously have my limits.

I’d also point out that the cheap acrylic yarn – whose ball-bands are long lost to history, so I’m unable to provide details – knitted up well and kept coming up well after the sixth or seventh tink. The stitch definition was still good, and – despite being reknitted and reknitted a bit more and reknitted again because that didn’t work – it didn’t go fluffy. Sturdy stuff, as I think the photo illustrates, and probably ideal for the sort of action it’s likely to see.

My original thought was that I could knit half a dozen such squares and, in normal circumstances, I probably could. Yeah. I’ve finished two. They will have to do. I remind myself that, if everyone visiting the pick-up point donated two squares, there’d be a carton of blankets already. I hope the two I’ve made will fit in with others. They’re simple, but they meet the criteria. And I hope their bright cheeriness will help to lift someone’s spirits at a time of distress.

I hope you have some cheer to wrap around you, too, particularly if you’re somewhere chilly 🙂

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2022 in Health, Knitting

 

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not quite that mistaken

It looked all right on that side 😀

I was carefully working on the baby beanie, counting as carefully as I could. It looked okay until I turned it over. Then I saw that, wouldn’t you know it, the mistake rib had more than its proper quota of mistakes. They were well distributed right across the row. It took me a while to repair and I admit to swearing quite profusely over how sticky some of the stitches were. That’s mostly because I’m using small needles. Otherwise, the BWM 4 ply baby yarn is delightful and a treat to use.

I took it to work today, thinking I might do a row or two at lunchtime, but that didn’t happen. Nor did I do any on the homeward bus trip, which was surprisingly crowded. Perhaps it’s a good thing, because I might have made more unintentional mistakes while trying to dodge elbows.

I hope your yarny mistakes are retrievable mishaps and not irretrievable disasters 🙂

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2022 in Knitting

 

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not enough fingers

Beautiful colour: BWM Baby Meadow in colour Golden Sands

Dear Mum, here we are again, around the time of what would have been your birthday; and it’s one that uses significantly more fingers than I have. Being June and officially winter, you won’t be surprised to hear that we’re enduring appropriately wintry weather. Yesterday, I dragged out my beanie, my fingerless mitts, and my rowing scarf – of sleeted upon at Ballarat fame – and I was still cold.

YoungB was wearing the grey beanie I made him, and a pair of gloves that I gave him; although I didn’t make them. He still uses his badly repaired (but functional) fingerless mitts for computer work. He said he’d raided his little box of “things to keep you warm”, and a surprising number of them were from me. He doesn’t do quite so many early mornings nowadays, but it’s still a good idea to have a beanie you can grab whenever you need it. It cheers me to see that “no questions asked, this is the best choice on a cold day” attitude. I’m sure you’d understand.

When I was working on the border of the temperature blanket, he said how much he liked the purple colour. I would happily make something for him using that yarn, but there are quite a few other things on my present list, and only so many hours in the day. A purple object might have to wait.

I’ve started knitting a beanie for the latest baby in the family, your first great grandson. He’s a big little boy, and YoungB reminded me to be sure I’m making a bigger size than I think I should be. I am. I’m using Bendigo Woollen Mills Baby Meadow, a 4 ply 100% Australian fine merino wool, and it is beautifully soft. The pattern is a 1×1 rib for the first part, then 2×2 in what I learnt as broken rib, but modern stitch dictionaries tell me is mistake rib. Broken rib is different. Well, there you go. Neither is difficult, although you’d undoubtedly agree that both require attention to establish. It’s easy to get it wrong, and then a nightmare to retrieve.

I’m trying to avoid obvious “special design features”, meaning that I’ve already had to do a bit of tinking. Perhaps it’s that usual old complaint: I rarely get a chance to simply sit and knit, my eyes are getting older and my visual acuity lessening, and I will insist on knitting late at night. This colour is at least easy to see.

On the subject of getting old, and things not working as well as they once did, I’m distressed to find that knitting makes my fingers quite sore. A few years ago, I changed to soft-handled crochet hooks. Mine aren’t the really expensive brand, but they are kind to my fingers. Knitting needles by their nature are less “soft-touch” although it may be worth my while to have another try with bamboo needles. I didn’t like them the last time I tried; but if they help, then I’m prepared to learn to like them 😉

I’m presently using Aero metal knitting needles that I’ve had for adunnamany years. They do the job and, because I’ve looked after them, they’re (mostly) still straight and don’t have any rough sections to snag the stitches; all definite pluses. However, they sometimes make my index fingers stiff and sore, particularly needles at the tinier end of sizing. When I’m ribbing with UK size 12 / 2.75mm needles, I often find myself stretching and flexing my fingers, the way you used to. Perhaps it’s a good thing that I can’t sit and knit for hours. You see? There’s an upside to everything.

As the cold, wet weather is continuing with some dedication, tonight will be a good one to stoke up the fire and keep knitting, however many fingers it takes, and however many times I need to stretch them. There’s a baby who needs a beanie so that he’s warm, too; and I don’t need any fingers to calculate his age 🙂

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2022 in Knitting

 

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just like that

Four tidy corners and nothing more to do 😀

I’d almost decided to call it a night, then I shook out my work and had a good look at it. There were perhaps 20 centimetres remaining on the last side of the last round of the border. Yeah, that didn’t equal calling it quits and going to bed! So I sat up for as long as it took to work those remaining (UK) htr’s, snipped my yarn, wove in the last end and, just like that, it was all over. What an anticlimax.

It should really be a very big ta-dah moment: I have finished the 2021 temperature blanket and presented it to YoungB as a special delivery from the laundry fairy!! He pretended to stagger under its weight. In case I never see it again in daylight, I took a few photos. They’re not brilliant, but they will do to accompany a detailed post; which I am still drafting.

So what am I going to do now??? Well, apart from some of the by now fairly pressing household chores (consider above non-coincidental reference to laundry fairy), I have a baby beanie and some toddler beanies to knit or crochet. I have a couple of pram rugs to knit or crochet. There are a couple of adult beanies on the list, and those I will probably knit. There are new-to-me crochet techniques and patterns I’m itching to try for some knitworthy (or crochetworthy) recipient.

That should keep me busy till this time next year, don’t you reckon?

 
 

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that “snap!” moment

Frequently keeping someone else’s head warm

It’s winter. Of course it’s cold. Of course it’s beanie weather. Of course I’ve been wearing a beanie. Of course it’s a made-by-me beanie, although not always the same one. Imagine my amusement recently when a friend sent the above image as a message. I immediately pulled out the beanie I happened to wearing that day, took a snap and sent it via return message.

Coincidentally, keeping my head warm that day

I made both of them. Yes, they look different because they are different. The yarn in the top beanie is a pure wool and alpaca blend, so it’s naturally a little fuzzier than the machine-washable pure wool in the bottom photo. It’s also a darker grey. Additionally, I don’t wear my beanie to bed. I’m told that that often happens to the top beanie.

Details, if anyone is interested: Pattern 18, Lady/Man Knitted Aran Cap from Patons Winter Warmers Book 483. Top beanie was knitted as per instructions but using Moda Vera Tolve, a 12 ply, 70% wool, 30% alpaca yarn. The bottom beanie was knitted with Bendigo Woollen Mlls 8 ply Classic yarn, to make a smaller beanie. It fits me nicely and I do wear it often.

Doesn’t it warm the cockles of your heart when the love just keeps going round?

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2021 in Knitting

 

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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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that was the CAL cowl

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Fit for purpose and very warm

Tracy was running a series of KAL/CAL events, with a range of themes. For the March event, I knitted the Bloom-ing beanie for Nic, and delivered it for her 50th birthday, as planned. I’m sure it’s been getting a great workout since then as she dashes about suburbia on her morning walks. We are past midwinter and the daylight hours are noticeably longer, but early-morning temperatures remain appallingly unfriendly.

I managed to crochet a cowl for the April event, with the intention of wearing it under my new, maroon jacket. That’s it in the photo. I used Moda Vera Malibu, a pure wool 8-ply yarn, with inbuilt colour changes and slightly irregular thickness. The colourway is 86718, which is mostly shades of blue and grey. I used a 5.75mm hook, and worked half-trebles (UK terminology) into the back loop only. The side outermost in the photo looks knitted and is delightfully smooth. The other side is also attractive enough to wear facing out. It is bumpier in appearance and rougher in texture, but not harsh against the skin.

For August, the theme is to finish a WIP. I have so many that you’d think I could gallop to the finish line. You’d be wrong. I find myself well occupied with other sorts of creative work: reinventing oneself requires new ways of looking at everything. Repackaging and presenting to best advantage is surely creativity at its finest.

I am also rewarding myself by catching up with a few old friends during the interlavorum. This is a new word I coined in the style of interregnum, to mean “the time between jobs”. Purists – that is, people who are Latin scholars – might argue that it ought to be interopum, but that doesn’t roll off the tongue nearly as easily and, you know, it’s my word. I can do what I like with it.

All the best to you with enjoying your interlavorum if you happen to be at such a stage 😀

 

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2019 in Crochet, Knitting

 

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the shades of remembrance are blue

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The shades of blue in my stripy wrap are more homogeneous than those in Youngest Aunt’s beanie

I recently spent a couple of days with Youngest Aunt, and one of them happened to coincide with the anniversary of our Mum’s death. We reminisced about what a wonderful cook she’d been, but agreed that there was no particular main meal we recalled with such a pang that we had any particular desire for it. Having said that, I think I’ve mentioned before that I would sometimes like to sink my teeth into one of Mum’s delicious egg-and-bacon pies; but, as Youngest Aunt doesn’t now eat meat, I can see why that wouldn’t be something she would hanker for.

Scones, biscuits, cakes and desserts, however? We were in mad agreement there about how delicious and toothsome many of them were; most of them, actually, particularly  the desserts. That’s probably why, to this day, we still make and enjoy them. My menfolk have sometimes expressed the view that, if I would make a couple of them more often, they’d be very happy; diet be damned 😀

We also talked about the knitted articles we still use, particularly at this chilly time of year. Mine is a dark-blue wrap, and it’s on the armrest at my end of the sofa, getting a good workout most nights as we watch TV/snore in front of TV (the detail varies from person to person and night to night; I wouldn’t want you to think we’re set in our ways). Youngest Aunt’s is a beanie, in shades of blue from light to dark and it is working similarly hard when she goes out for daily walks. Both are made from yarns long since discontinued and both continue to be wonderful reminders of our Mum.

May your memories keep you as warm as my knitted hugs 🙂

 

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…little bit…

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New yarn and old needles for a new project

I have to admit, when I knitted along that first row of my tension square last Wednesday evening, I just couldn’t help myself. “Oh, I love knitting,” I exclaimed to anyone who might be listening (mostly dust and spiders, to be fair, because there was nobody else around at the time). And I have been happily knitting ever since.

I did a little bit on the bus, a little bit while watching TV, a little bit at lunchtime, a little bit after dinner, a little bit on the suburban train, a little bit in the car on the way to our Thursday dumplings and coffee date (and during that, of course; the Bs barely notice nowadays), and a little bit at the bus interchange as I sat and waited for a connecting bus and chatted with an elderly Italian woman who prefers crochet but complimented me for my dedication to the cause: “It’s good to see.”

I did a little bit in the car while Dr B drove us to an early-morning appointment and a little bit more while we waited there. I did a little bit at the coffee shop, a little bit while Dr B bought motorbike things from the local dealership where he and YoungB are habitues, and then I had to have a little bit of a pause because I didn’t have the pattern with me and I needed to check it.

At this time of year, the mornings are cool and dewy and the evenings chilly enough for a shawl. I’m sorry to see the end of summer, but at least when the weather is like this, nobody looks at you strangely when you whip out the needles and knit for the 10 minutes it takes your homeward train to reach the city, or if you do it while you reminisce over coffee and cake before heading back to the busyness of the day.

I haven’t suddenly stopped crocheting. In fact, I have a plain crochet project at which I intend to keep plugging away while watching TV. It uses a thick, light-coloured yarn and a large hook, so is easier on my eyes. However, there’s that series of KALs/CALs I mentioned and this month it’s beanies and, well, there’s a workmate who’s about to turn 50 and who likes to walk in the mornings – those increasingly chilly mornings – so I thought a handmade beanie would be just the shot. And there’s nothing like a deadline to maintain the momentum with ticking off rows, as it were.

Anyone who knows me would agree that my doing a tension square is a little unusual. It’s true that, if I am knitting a familiar pattern using yarn I know well, then I might give it a miss. In this instance, although I am using a familiar pattern, I’m working with a new-to-me yarn; hence the tension square. Also, I was interested to see how the colours looked once knitted.

Satisfied on both counts, I unpicked the tension square and cast on the first row of the  lady’s size for Pattern 23 – Knitted Family Cap – from my old Patons Winter Warmers, Book 483. And I am more than a little bit pleased to have now reached the body of the beanie.

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Very pleased indeed with this progress 😀

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2019 in Crochet, Knitting

 

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