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corrupting shades of grey

The internet has corrupted me. I would never have paid so much money for yarn until I saw some end results on all those fabulous websites. In the days when my disposable income was more mine and less everyone else’s I did buy good yarn, but it was almost exclusively wool with occasional blends that contained predominantly wool. Now, I’ve been sucked in by some fabulous mixes and, oh rapture (or should that be oh horror?), I’ve succumbed to Noro’s Silk Garden (Ravelry link). Sure, it’s to make a special scarf for a special birthday but nearly $60 for just FOUR skeins of yarn that contain only 10% wool? Wow.

Rich colours and soft fabric, a seductive combination

The Moebius cowl I crocheted for a friend earlier this year cost $20. That used two skeins of what I seem to recall was a wool/alpaca mix (it wasn’t pure wool but I’m afraid the details escape me now). I thought that was expensive, and by my standards it was, though I didn’t for a minute grudge either the cost or the time it took to make, but I did reflect that it was one of the dearer small garments I’d made. (I would naturally expect to pay more than that if I were knitting a jumper.) It was probably also a softer finish than many of the garments I make for us. I use wool for the majority of my knitting with occasional ventures into acrylic/retrieved fibre mixes depending on end-use intention (Boy’s tencel beanie springs to mind). Perhaps being raised on a farm has made me a dedicated wool user but I find it’s usually the best option. The softness of Silk Garden, even in the making, is converting me to the notion that there are other sources of softness.

I’m using it to knit a scarf for Eldest Son. It’s scary to contemplate that he’ll soon be 40. He was complaining recently, as he stood about three inches away from the fire and politely said, “No!” each time Dr B suggested doing PBP on a tandem, that he was cold. Poor old thing. If he’s cold, a scarf is the answer. Right? Well, maybe. In any case, I’ve bought that fabulous yarn and I’m doing a simple 1 x 1 rib in a two-row stripe, letting the colour do all the work for me (not a new idea and one I’ve used previously on a beanie for Dr B). I’m not entirely convinced about the green bits, in the sense that perhaps Eldest Son isn’t as enamoured of green as I am, but in the overall mix it’s probably going to be all right. Boy thinks what I’ve knitted so far looks nice although he can’t be depended upon for good colour recognition when there are stripes.

For that matter, neither can I sometimes! For starters yes, I am mildly acritochromic. Add to that, I often knit at night in soft light. So, not surprisingly, I recently reached a spot where I wasn’t sure what colour I was seeing. I knew it had been a dark olive green and was fairly sure it still was. Everything was looking fairly grey to me, though, so I wouldn’t have put money on the green. I didn’t know whether the problem was my dodgy colour vision or the dodgy light. The following morning, when I was knitting on the bus with strong daylight to aid me, I discovered that what had seemed grey was, in fact, grey. Ah. There’s another of the joys of Silk Garden: some unexpected colours.

So it’s not just that the web has corrupted me, my colour vision has also corrupted my ability to tell what I’m doing! I’m definitely buying more Silk Garden though, corrupt or not, and hang the expense. It’s beautiful to work with and for special birthdays? Yes, definitely an affordable luxury.

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2012 in Crochet, Knitting

 

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winter lavender

Do you regard weekends as rest days or achievement days? Here it’s been a cold day and there was rain overnight. However, the weather fined up and I was able to hang a load of washing on my new clothesline. Of course it didn’t dry so I had to bring it in and hang it again inside BUT it finished drying reasonably quickly. While the sun was shining, I picked some lavender from the bush in my backyard. It has gone nuts just lately and every time I walk over it to drag the clothesline from the wall to the pole, I stir up the perfume. Now there is a very large bunch of it drying in my sewing room. By Christmas, it will doubtless be going into some lavender bags to accompany fabric gifts.

Harvested from my garden

In between those sorts of capers, I have knitted some more of a scarf, decided I was too tired to tackle the beanie and tinkered a bit with those fingerless gloves. Unpicking seems like the best solution to that problem and then just knitting a flat pattern, except that lately my sewing up hasn’t been very good. At least the scarf I’m halfway through won’t take much extra work; there’s no sewing up and only a few ends. So it’s been a day where I feel as if I’ve achieved very little, but sometimes you need days like that, especially on the weekend. Me? Sometimes, and today has been one of those times, I regard weekends as rest days.

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2012 in Knitting

 

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keeping the mystery

Today I complimented a woman on the pretty scarf she was wearing and asked if she’d made it. She responded that she wasn’t clever enough for that and that it had been a lovely gift. I’d agree about the lovely gift. But the scarf was made from one of those feathery, silly yarns that do all the work in terms of looking fabulous and require only garter stitch. In other words, not difficult knitting. But I didnt say any such thing!

Why not let her think someone laboured over it for long hours – and for all I know to the contrary, perhaps someone did if it was that knitter’s first project or one undertaken by a knitter with a disability of some sort; I don’t mean to be dismissive – and that she, nicely dressed in a smart suit with coordinating accessories and subtle, tasteful make-up that she’d applied in the short time that I was otherwise occupied, was certainly not smart enough to do anything of the sort?

We need to maintain the mystique. If people want to think what we do is really hard work, we should let them believe so, because it’s often the case that things that really are hard don’t seem to be. Cables look very impressive and very difficult and complex designs certainly can be. Simple cables, however, are not. They are, as one of my aunts used to say, a quick and easy way of fancying up a plain jumper; dead easy or she wouldn’t have incorporated so many into her knitting.

To a non-knitter, circular knitting can seem wildly skilled and difficult. It’s not using a circular needle or set of needles that creates any difficulty, but the design being undertaken. I have also had comments about how difficult knitting is when it’s being done on long, straight needles. It was a very simple stocking stitch (stockinette) fabric and not at all difficult. It’s just that there were a lot of stitches. Perceptions are strange things.

Nowadays when such remarks come my way, I just keep knitting and being mysterious about it all. If people want to think I’m clever, then that’s all right with me. Or do you think we should give away all our secrets?

They’re really very simple but don’t they look difficult?

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2012 in Knitting, Musing

 

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clothing diary

I’ve already outlined the first few days of wearing scarves/cowls. Here’s the rest of how I managed to wear me-made during May, although not to any great extent, certainly rarely with anything approaching styling and equally certainly with much repetition; to the point of boredom, really!

Saturday, 5/5: Triangular neck warmer with weekend clothes.

Sunday, 6/5: Green and blue scarf, with blue jumper over white T-shirt, blue trousers and green jacket. You’d think I must have been going somewhere to get that dressed up, and so I was. Youngest Aunt and I attended a matinee performance of The Merry Widow, which we thoroughly enjoyed. And on the subject of me-made, Youngest Aunt was wearing a little knitted scarf that I made for her birthday the year before last.

Monday, 7/5:The same green and blue scarf with black jacket and trousers (for work)

Tuesday, 8/5: A by-design casual day at home/out and about, which was unexpectedly warm; so the dodgy Portia top with blue trousers and cardigan fitted the bill no probs.

Wednesday, 9/5: Once again, the blue/green scarf with grey trousers and houndstooth/grey jacket. OK for court; and sorry about the poor photography, but you can see the scarf. I should add that I have a shorter scarf I made from the same fabric about four years ago and I wear that quite often during summer, as it’s short and more decorative than truly functional.

Blue-and-green scarf, a long version

Thursday,10/5: black and white scarf with black trousers, jacket and shoes, and white stretchy top. OK for court, though the matter didn’t proceed. Photographed on phone. Crappy pic, to be sure; I must have been feeling extraordinarily browned off when I took it! Changed to colourful scrappy crocheted Moebius when I came home (because I needed extra warmth).

OK, I match the decor. Can I go home now?

Friday, 11/5: I knew I’d be in court again and that the weather was meant to be slightly warm. I couldn’t decide what to wear but knew the choice would be between blue or blue of some shade with, well, I wasn’t quite sure what! It was blue trousers, once again with the blue/green scarf and the grey sports jacket.

Saturday, 12/5: At home, keeping warm while working in the sewing room for much of the day. Blue bootleg stretch trousers, blue polo-style top and cardigan with the scrappy, crocheted Moebius cowl.

Sunday, 13/5: As it was Mother’s Day and we were having cake and coffee with the nonni, I wore the triangular neckwarmer with yesterday’s trousers and the grey sports jacket. Yeah, I think I need some new clothes! I ended up putting on my old teal lattice jumper (very old; I knitted it in 1984) because I was simply cold and the made-for-me-by-my-Mum shawl, while lovely and warm, was too awkward for work.

Monday, 14/5: The eight-foot-long, knitted side-to-side, three-coloured, linen-stitch scarf, complete with tassels, made its first outing today. I rationalised that I couldn’t really give away something with mistakes in it but I’m sure I could have! Heck, I know the mistakes are there and I can’t see them (not without searching, anyway). I had several comments on how nice the scarf is and how thick and warm it looks. It’s certainly thick and it’s certainly warm, which was a great thing when I was walking home from the bus tonight. The colours are pretty and I took a photo on my phone to prove that I actually wore it. Not that I know how to get photos off the phone and onto my computer, but we’ll deal with that another day.

It really is a lovely thick and warm scarf, and my colleague loves it!

Tuesday, 15/5: So I gave away that scarf, although I wore it to work and out at lunchtime and had put it on to come home again when one of my colleagues, whose elderly mother is presently quite poorly, mentioned how nice it was and I thought, “Well, she’ll probably love it and the colours would suit her,” so I whipped it off and presented it to her, all 75 feet of it including mistakes, as I pointed out! That is, I pointed out that there were mistakes. I didn’t actually point out the mistakes, as I’d have had to have searched to find them. I can knit another such scarf and perhaps make it shorter and wider. Just not tonight, that’s all.

Tomorrow, then, I reckoned I’d be back to my old green scarf or the scrappy, crocheted Moebius cowl, as the weather was decidedly too cold for chiffon fabric scarves. Either that, or I’d have to knit all night and finish off my Stephanie shawlette, which is made with a lovely soft acrylic in a very pretty blue. I pulled it out of the knitting box to check its progress. No, it’s too short and I have to unpick some of what is there because of a very obvious mistake (if not two of them). The trouble is that, being of my own reckoning as it is, I haven’t written down what I was doing, so it might take me a little while to work out the pattern in any case. I keep miscounting the yarnovers, that’s the main problem. In any case, it was clearly not an option for work.

Wednesday, 16/5: It was the Moebius cowl to the fore today. The morning was unfriendly. Boy wore his blazer to school because he was so cold!

Not taken during Me-Made-May, but this is the original long Moebius cowl

Thursday, 17/5: Moebius cowl again (excuse my messy background in the above pic, but it’s better of the cowl than the one I took at work).

Friday, 18/5: A new crocheted Moebius cowl. Yeah, yeah, I know – but it took me only a couple of hours to make and it uses up scraps of yarn that aren’t enough to do anything serious with when looked at individually. Put together? Ah, that’s what scraps are for. Besides, the one I’d worn on Thursday had a pleasant enough aroma of massage oil (post physio appointment) but I didn’t want to be carrying that around with me. Plus, I needed something a bit fancier for an evening outing.

Mixing all sorts of bits of yarn into something warm

Saturday, 19/5: the new Moebius cowl. I was cold!

Sunday, 20/5: the new Moebius cowl again because I couldn’t be bothered looking for anything else. I washed the original.

Monday, 21/5: With the descent to winter weather, it’s hard to get enthused about anything other than woolly scarves or neck warmers. I wore the older Moebius cowl, which garnered compliments for its lovely colours.

Tuesday, 22/5: Variety – not! – with the newer Moebius cowl, which won accolades from a serious sewist colleague. She recently purchased a dress form to replace one that a so-called friend had broken, and remembers getting her new sewing machine back in the 1970s and feeling as excited about it as if she’d got a new motor car. I recognise that feeling. I shared it when my Mum’s new sewing machine arrived (and it promptly fell to Middle Aunt and me to start sewing on it). It’s the one I’m still using. Middle Aunt now has a newer one which she has used, in combination with her overlocker (purchased for her by Grandpa) to create clothes for all her children and herself quite a lot over the years. She does less sewing these days, being much too busy working and helping run the family business. We exchange notes occasionally, though.

Wednesday, 23/5: What possessed me I can’t say but I wore my little green/blue silky scarf with my grey sports jacket, blue trousers and long-sleeved T. Did I freeze? Only not quite but darn, it was close. Mind you, I had my older Moebius cowl with me as well as a balaclava! When Dr B and I ducked into the shops on our way home, I popped the cowl round my neck. The balaclava, however, I left in the bag. Its time will come. What’s really coming, I have to admit, is overcoat weather.

Thursday, 24/5: The black-and-white scarf garnered praise from my serious-sewist colleague today. But I had my Moebius cowl with me, the older, longer one. I needed it. Apparently today was our coldest May day in 25 years. It was darn chilly, I can’t argue with that. And work being particularly horrid, as it was, I appreciated the hot pack that the physio placed on my neck to help with all the stiffness and pain. It helped combat the cold too.

Friday, 25/5: Today I dragged out my big square of heavy crepe. It’s not really square and I’m not sure if it’s crepe but it’s a crepey style of fabric, to my eye. I’ve had it for a very long time. I bought the remnant well before Boy was thought of, and I would suppose I had something in mind for it at the time. History does not record what that might have been! I decided a few years ago to rescue it from obscurity by overlocking a rolled hem and calling it a big scarf. It’s good because it’s big and a reasonable weight, so I can almost make it double as a lightweight shawl. I like its autumn tonings.

Just what I needed in terms of weight

Saturday, 26/5: I wore the same scarf/shawl as yesterday, tucked into my old orange cardigan; not exactly a culture clash but not quite the same shades. It looked all right on a Skype call, anyway, so no complaints.

Sunday, 27/5: I just couldn’t be bothered today though I ended up with one of the cowls for a while late in the day when I suddenly became rather cold.

Monday, 28/5: Out came the shorter crocheted Moebius cowl again, though not all day.

Tuesday, 29/5: My old green garter-stitch scarf came out to play today. It’s something I knitted to occupy me while Boy was having swimming lessons when he was quite young. It’s functional and I like the colour though it really doesn’t look quite right with the duffel coat, which is a different sort of green! I didn’t take a photo and could only find one old photo where it sneaked into the shot but not in any meaningful way. So, you know, it’s just green and plain and long enough without being too long.

Wednesday, 30/5: Once again I wore the shorter crocheted Moebius cowl for most of the day

Thursday, 31/5: I was at home with a respiratory unwellness (I had to get out of bed and dress because I was coughing too much lying down, there is no justice in life I tell ya) and simply could not be bothered trying to find a me-made anything to wear. I washed two me-made beanies (they’re Dr B’s, though I’m thinking I might appropriate one now that mine has gone to Nonno and, really, Dr B doesn’t need two practically identical beanies – both dark red, knitted to the same broken-rib pattern – does he?), the triangular neck cosy and the shorter Moebius cowl, since I was at home and they needed a wash and the weather was almost cooperative, so maybe that counts?

I wasn’t an official participant, I know, and it’s probably true that dragging out some bit of me-made neckwear is not really a challenge, but I almost managed Me-Made-May. Were it a summer event, I could probably do it with tops (two Portia tops at least plus one or two others that are lurking about the place). I might have to make a more concerted effort in December, say, when I’d be in a with a chance of achieving more meaningful sewing and wearing things I already have in my wardrobe. Sure, I would once have breezed through May in handknits. But not any more. If you participated, how did you go?

 
 

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who needs hair dye?

Apparently I don’t, because my hair exactly matches my scarf. Or is it that my scarf exactly matches my hair? (You know the one I mean, the one I describe as black-and-white but isn’t quite.) The colleague who made that comment also commented, quite unasked for, that it’s a lovely scarf. Accolades on such an awful day as we were having today? Yes, they’re worthwhile.

You’re possibly wondering why I’m not busily knitting Youngest Uncle’s fingerless gloves? I’ve struck a problem with the pattern, which says one thing in one breath and directs you to do something else in the next. I’ll have a closer look at the Ravelry page to see if there are any corrections posted. Meanwhile, our weather has descended to wintry temperatures and I’m feeling a distinct need for my own fingerless mitts at work. Right. Better get off the computer and back to the knitting then!

 
 

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planning another outing

Providing just a touch of tissying-up

We’ve a cocktail party coming up that’s a rowing club fundraiser. We were at the first one and it has become an annual event, one that I usually attend even if Dr B does not. Last year it clashed with too many other school events for it to be viable that even I would be able to do the right thing. This year? I plan to go. I go to help in the kitchen, I should point out, but if somebody offers me a sip of their cocktail all I can say is that it would be rude to refuse.

So, what to wear? It’s the usual colour theme: black, white and grey/silver. I think I can manage that, even while washing dishes. It will be the usual black trousers and white top perhaps with the usual jacket, perhaps with a jersey cardigan. Time will tell. And of course I shall wear the black-and-white scarf I made to wear to the presentation dinner. It’s something that adds effortless flair to any outfit (I say, tongue firmly in cheek).

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2012 in Rowing, Sewing

 

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still sobbing into my pillow

Between laundering and other usual household tasks, I’ve been reading Pyjama Party blogs. And oh, boo hoo. Our camera woes continue. Even Dr B isn’t immune from problems today. He’s having to use the little Sony digital, the one that’s been dropped too many times and no longer has a flash. You can imagine it’s not ideal for photography in the late evening, even with strong lighting. Therefore, I think I’d better just take a deep breath and admit that, unfortunately, I’ll have to keep sobbing. You have no idea how damp my pillow is already!

Boy has been delighted by his PJ trousers, though, which is nice. I think he’d forgotten what great things they are. I used to make them when he was little – I’ve already discussed the various wonderful fabrics from which I had made him PJ bottoms – and he loved them. Then he went through a phase of not wanting them because they tangle up. Yes, I understand that. But last night he was cold, so despite the tangle factor he actually wore the new PJ bottoms to bed. Yeah: flannelette PJ bottoms with fluffy Explorer socks, the epitome of elegance.

Dr B and Boy have been doing eco weekend stuff today, cleaning up the last of the willow tree (small bits this time, not logs). This time it was actually eco weekend. Last time? No. Dr B had mixed up the dates. Plus, as he discovered when they arrived at the closed dump, his logs were too big. He and Boy brought them home again and unloaded them onto a spot beside the footpath. I knocked up a sign that said “Free” and stuck it atop the lot. They went, quite rapidly. That was a good way of doing things: people looking for firewood were able to get some without paying the seven arms and forty-three legs that seem to be required these days, and we got rid of the sawn wood. Today, two trailer loads of twigs went off to the mulcher.

This afternoon I met Middle Aunt at a cafe about half an hour from here though it’s a little further from her place. It was nice, though, a cafe in a garden centre. We discussed the itinerary for her family’s forthcoming trip to Continental Europe and Ireland while we drank coffee and ate cake, then I handed over the curtains, the two knitted beanies and the crocheted Moebius cowl. By happy coincidence, the beanie I’d made for Middle Aunt matched her lovely quilted gilet almost perfectly. How good was that?

Middle Aunt liked my scarf, which I decided needed another outing (and because I wanted something to smarten up my clobber). I intend to experiment with some other fabric that I bought specifically to make scarves, to see if I can make a long scarf without being quite so extravagant with the fabric. I’ll let you know how I get on with that. I wear scarves a lot, always have, and even light fabric provides a little extra warmth when needed. I hang them on a piece of string on the back of my wardrobe door. No, that’s not true; it’s actually a piece of ribbon.

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2012 in Crochet, Sewing

 

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