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Tag Archives: handknitting

multiskilled just isn’t the right description

YoungB signed our work, because all of us had more than a hand in it 🙂

Once upon a time, Dr B and I built our own house (and yes, I do mean with our own hands). Back in those days, he and I poured a concrete tank-stand and some paths. Recently we’ve concreted more paths, one of which now boasts a tank on a stand without necessarily being the tank-stand.

The path behind YoungB’s cabin, seconded to use supporting a tank-stand.

We’ve also ventured into laying pavers, greatly assisted by a variety of online resources. My personal observation is that, when your little fingertips are very sore from laying down little brickies, you do NOT want to pick up any sewing. This is, however, gratifying in a different way.

They wanted to finish the cabin’s courtyard before we went out for my birthday 🙂

And when I say I did some paving, it’s quite true. My input was to the path connecting that cabin courtyard to the garden shed.

Going with the flow around the curve and lots of fussy cutting (Dr B did that part).

Back to getting on with something else now. Winter is here, and I’m craving the feeling of working on a beanie. Plenty of those in my UFO pile 🙂

Whatever you’ve been up to, I hope it’s been as gratifying – if, perhaps, less labour-intensive – than my recent efforts.

 
 

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another big one

I was musing the other day that this is 2017. It’s 100 years since my mother was born. In my family, we like to celebrate these big occasions. Dr B and I are often the ones who prepare the presentations.

That means I have to get busy with scanning photos, calling for scans and/or copies of photos from cousins and other family members – I can’t think of any friends who are still alive – and getting down and dirty with some sort of large format word processing and/or database to produce a timeline for display. See, that’s a couple of knitting projects worth of time already lost to a better cause, although any genuine coverage of my Mum’s life will include many handknitted articles so there’s still that connecting thread.

Still can’t get photos to work properly, so will wish you all the best with your big occasions, too 🙂

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2017 in Family history

 

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heads need hats

This year we don't have to contend with these. (Photo courtesy of Frank Gervasi)

This year we don’t have to contend with these. (Photo courtesy of Frank Gervasi)

Training for the walk should be occupying more of my time than it is. I feel a bit older and creakier this year and the fact that Youngest Aunt won’t be walking – and, therefore, we haven’t been training together – means that there’s less incentive to make the effort to walk long distances. Plus it’s been cold and wet and miserable in a way it wasn’t last year. I’m not inventing that to garner sympathy. We’ve had the wettest winter on record in a goodly number of years; and, being winter, it has indeed been bitterly cold. Therefore, I’ve been choosing the easiest, warmest, driest options for public transport connections, meaning that the incidental walking I might ordinarily get has been ultra minimal. The lunchtime walks help but I’m not dedicated enough about them when I’m tired and/or I want to eat at the lunch table like a civilised human being. Again. One good thing is that the gradient for this year’s walk is mostly downward. There’s about 29 metres of climbing across the whole 35 kilometres. Last year there was a total climb of 756 metres (mostly the steps in what one of my old schoolmates described as the Stair Chamber or Death Valley – see photo above).

But no matter the state of play for the walk, the knitting is also stumbling along. The instructions for the beanie pattern I’d chosen instructed me to use a tubular long tail cast-on. I had three or four attempts at that and can only say that, yeah, there’s a reason I don’t usually use a long tail cast-on. I know it’s often the cast-on of choice and I have used it in the past. However, this time it just wasn’t coming together. I ended up achieving a similar end via a method you could describe as half cable cast-on, half TLT cast-on. I did the cast on as if it were 1×1 rib – cast on knitwise, cast on purlwise, rather than all stitches knitwise; a variation I’ve often used in the past – then worked the two set-up rows to get that tubular look by slipping purls as instructed. The result was perfectly acceptable and a bit less stressful. No, not significantly less stressful because I kept being interrupted. Every. Other. Damn. Five. Minutes. By Dr B, wanting to ask questions about things totally unrelated to what I was doing. Hair-tearing ensued.

It took a while, but I managed it. However, a closer examination of my yarn choice showed that I’d goofed. I’d thought I’d ordered three balls of Bendigo’s Savanna, which is a 70% wool, 30% alpaca mix. Turns out I was wrong about that. One of them was Classic, which is a 100% wool yarn. Uuh, yeah, even though they’re both 8-ply (equivalent to DK), I though it might be wiser not to mix them. So I have a beautifully started beanie that’s eventually going to end up striped with other remnants of Classic that I have about the place – plenty 🙂 – and I’m trying again with the Savanna.

At least, I will be trying with the Savanna when I track down another circular needle in the right size but grateful that I can skimp on the stair-training this year 🙂

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2016 in Health, Knitting

 

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knitting for an hour – days 1 and 2

So the hour on the first day was about this:

Pattern purchased, yarn tracked down, needles ditto, and now? Tension square.

Pattern purchased, yarn tracked down, needles ditto, and now? Tension square.

And the hour on the second day was about this:

Still on the tension square. Gauge swatch, if you prefer.

Still on the tension square. Gauge swatch, if you prefer.

Today I’ve done a few more rows, so it’s slow and not very exciting in spite of how much time it’s taking. I’m not prepared to leap into this without making sure the tension is correct. I’ve had too many nasty surprises this year 🙂

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2016 in Knitting

 

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let it snow

Had there been snow, this would have dealt with it :)

Had there been snow, this would have dealt with it 🙂

YoungB and I had a few days away on the New England (Australia) Tablelands. It was meant to be colder there than here, but we struck it lucky: fabulous, crisp, typical New England winter gorgeousness while we were there, and uncharacteristically Antarctic conditions here on our return.

That’s YoungB’s beanie. I was knitting till the last minute – not entirely my fault, though I accept responsibility for my choices – but finish it I did, altering the top a smidge to give him the slightly flatter look that he favours; and he wore it all weekend. It looks warm and he says it is. The threatened sleet and snow didn’t eventuate, but he was well prepared.

So now I’m exhausted from late-night knitting, travel, holidaying and having a good time; and an appalling week at work! Should I knit to wind down??

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2016 in Knitting

 

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a big, post-election grumble about a lot of what I see

No grumbles with this pattern, which is progressing nicely

No grumbles with this pattern, which is progressing nicely

I sat down to write one post and seem to have written two! Please ignore whichever half bores you 😉

The thing about trawling the web and looking at lots of posts on sewing is that so much of what I see strikes me a bit like Arthur Dent‘s house: it precisely fails to please the eye. I can see that the cut is lovely, or the colour is, or that it’s beautifully made but sometimes? Sometimes the proportion is all wrong or the colour doesn’t suit the person wearing it and the cut isn’t flattering on the figure of the wearer. The bodice of a drop-waisted skirt is too long or perhaps it’s the skirt that’s too short (or possibly long), though the overall length is fine, but together? It just doesn’t work. That is to say, even allowing for the fact that IRL when it’s moving rather than static it might look better, it just doesn’t work to my eye.

There are patterns about which the online sewing community seems to go into raptures and, although I can find individual things to like about each of the iterations I come across, it leaves me cold. Most of the Colette patterns are in that category – and because plainly designed for a body shape that mine has never been and is now unlikely to achieve, I don’t buy Colette patterns – which is a bit sad because I like the idea of supporting Indie designers rather than the Big Companies. The passion for Tilly‘s Coco was a bit similar; it didn’t ring my bells. And that’s OK. We’re not all the same.

With regard to the clothing, I accept that I’m in no position to criticise, because I myself don’t really make much; some might say I don’t make anything at all and that’s perhaps near enough to the truth. But it’s like singing: just as I can still hear whether that’s good or bad and give you very concise and informed reasons why it’s one or the other, though I do so little of it myself nowadays, I can tell you why those patterns don’t work. That doesn’t mean other people will have the same opinion.

Overall, however, it serves to reinforce the notion that anyone who wants to make their own clothing really needs to be able to draft a pattern and/or be able to make drastic alterations to a pre-existing one. That’s quite an ask in an age where these things are not taught at school. I was fortunate enough to learn pattern-drafting at primary school. My suspicion is that the more any person who sews uses a prefabricated pattern from anywhere – Big Company or Indie designer – the more the realisation grows that, no, it’s not going to cut it to keep doing this. You have to draft your own.

While I’m on a roll, something else that gets up my nose big time is the modern penchant for squashing breasts to flatness. I genuinely appreciate the need for comfort and support, I get the bit about not wanting to bounce around too much and I certainly understand the value of a minimising bra; but one that leaves you looking like some weird sort of chook gone wrong? Uuh, yeah, maybe not. It’s not flattering, it makes the clothes hang badly and, in some cases, is decidedly part of why the clothes don’t look particularly flattering. They’re being beaten at their own game by over-eager corsetry. I don’t have a problem with what’s occasionally described as industrial-strength undergarments so long as they don’t make the body shape they’re assisting into something that no longer resembles a normal, female body. (For tonight’s homework, define normal.) Yeah. I’m feeling cranky.

I admit it: that crankiness has been exacerbated by post-election ennui and the still-in-doubt election result.

On Saturday, I spent hours standing out in the cold, handing out how-to-vote cards. Talk about wondering about a lot of what you see! There were people who turned up beautifully dressed and brightened the day, others who’d obviously come straight from work or sporting events, youngsters being shepherded along by anxious parents afraid of looking right or left lest thoughts be contaminated by a leaflet not to their liking, many grumpy people whose expressions said louder than words that they didn’t appreciate having to vote or what a privilege it is to have that right, those who complained about how far they were forced to travel as if that were something we poor volunteers could magically mend, and many who laughed along with the silly jokes we were making as we handed out leaflets for the umpteenth time.

I occasionally regretted that there is no Socialist Alliance in my electorate, I say with tongue in cheek, because reactions would have been hilarious had I been handing out something with that logo. I certainly don’t look the type to be a rabid Left-winger 🙂 You’re fair game, whatever you’re doing, so you need to be thick-skinned. Luckily, I am. I was reprimanded for my not-at-all-radical views by one older man, who told me I should be ashamed of myself because I was old enough to know what I was doing. It’s not part of the patter, but the queue had stalled at that stage. I drew myself up to my full height – which is not great, but greater than his – and shot back that I certainly am old enough to know what I’m doing, and that’s why I do it. I had a little discussion with another, younger, bloke in the queue about hung parliaments and his view that voting for anything but a major party would result in chaos, despite the fact that many such governments exist worldwide and function well. One chap walked past all the leaflets, muttering as he did so that they’re all bloody criminals (he may have a point; it made me laugh). Another wanted to vote for Pauline Hanson. I reassured him that this isn’t her electorate, nor was there a One Nation candidate. I didn’t suggest he ought to move to Queensland, because I thought it was likely he wouldn’t know where that is.

Silliness aside, I was truly astounded – and not in a good way – by the number of people who seemed to have been caught unawares by the election. We’d just come to the end of one of the longest campaigns in many a year and still they seemed startled by it all. Entirely too many plainly hadn’t given any thought to how they would vote. I don’t expect everyone to do what we do – spreadsheets; I’ve said before that’s how we roll – but I wasn’t surprised that several of my colleagues had worked it all out before election day and taken their print-outs with them. A vote is too valuable to waste.

YoungB was doing his bit at a different polling booth – one with a sausage sizzle, I add with some resignation and a great deal of jealousy; there wasn’t one at mine – and he had some entertaining tales, too. He is a very charming young man and learnt early that if you’re polite to people, generally they will respond in like manner. He reported that he had made eye contact and cheerfully, but very politely, handed out his how-to-vote card. The old trick worked, even though some of them, he thought, would rather have responded with a mouthful of vitriol. Dr B was at a different booth – also sans sausage sizzle – and had a good time, doing two two-hour stints so that he could duck up to see Nonna and give her lunch in the interim. I closed my booth, and YoungB came to help me take down the last of the posters that I simply couldn’t reach. We swapped tales of our day when we arrived home, then he and Dr B went off to the party to watch the tally. I was too tired, too cold and too far behind with domestic chores, so I watched at home while I attended to laundry and the like.

Yesterday the boys went for a motorbike ride, to blow away the cobwebs and reconnect with something other than endless spreadsheets comparing political parties and their policies. We’ve voted, made our choice known, and done it unmolested in a democracy where we can be reasonably assured that our votes weren’t tampered with or ignored. We are in a dreadful, and dreadfully ugly, mess, but we remain extremely fortunate. And the queues about which I heard endless complaints on Saturday? At my booth, they extended to the gate and meant the wait was half an hour to perhaps 40 minutes (at most). It wasn’t days. We were out in the open, but we weren’t there for long.

My personal fitness guru, as YoungB has appointed himself, thought that, while they were out motorcycling, I should do a 10 Km training walk in order to be ready for the Bloody Long Walk at the end of next month. That would take me two hours. But I thought that if I didn’t bring in the laundry, we’d have no clothes for the rest of the week. More pressingly, I was convinced that if I didn’t knit some more of his beanie he wouldn’t have it for next weekend. He’ll certainly need it, because he and I will be visiting friends in a cold part of the world. There, I’ll have good reason to be grumpy; except that the warmth of the friendships will ward off the worst of the chills.

So, yeah. I’ve said my piece about practically everything, I think! Back to the knitting now. I’m pleased to report that it is going well, and I’ve taken the plunge and done some of these cables without using a cable needle. The reason why is probably another grumble, but I think I’ve been cranky enough. Pax 🙂

 
 

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that rare occasion and some questions

As it turns out, it fits me quite well.

As it turns out, it fits me quite well.

I rarely get smug about my  knitting. I make too many stuff-ups for that! But generally, I reckon that if I follow the designer’s instructions, I’ll end up with what I want. Now and then, I might look at something I haven’t seen for a while and be pleasantly surprised by what a good job I’ve done. Is that being smug? I don’t think so.

Imagine me the other day, sitting on a suburban bus and watching other passengers file on. Several of them were wearing beanies. The day was chilly. I also wore a beanie. And I admit to having a moment of feeling utterly – yes, dreadful but true – smug about mine: it was handmade and unique 🙂 Justified, just a bit? Probably.

The only remaining question is, should I retrofit a pompom?

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2016 in Knitting

 

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