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toobs and tubes

YoungB [thought he’d] lost his original toob. I said I’d make him another. He promptly came up with a couple of eminently reasonable suggestions for modifications. For example, he asked, would it be possible to make it so that half was double thickness and half single thickness, meaning he could simply turn it around in the really, really cold weather for extra protection and warmth on his nose? Sure, I said. I even offered to make the second layer in a different colour so it would be immediately obvious to him which bit was the thicker half. The original toob has since turned up, hidden under several others and a jacket or two, on the back of Dr B’s chair. We don’t think it was done maliciously; we know very well that Dr B has a habit of assuming that anything at all likely looking is his! I think I’m probably off the hook for immediate purposes with the toob, though it would be interesting to see if I can come up with something like the one YoungB is after. I’ll update on that if and when it happens.

Tubes? Not good for me if they’re skirts. I never did look terribly good in pencil skirts, which have a tendency to slide around because I have the wrong shape to keep them in place; and I’ve been stung before trying to make a “simple” tube skirt. The differential between my waist and my hip is too great for any of those simple solutions to produce a respectably wearable result. Out comes the old Justknits pattern #96867 and a bit of tinkering takes place. But still, you know, I’ve had a lot of years to accept that a tube skirt is not my best friend. All the same, with winter well and truly knocking on the door – I say that at a time where the week’s outdoor temperatures have been in the mid-20s; most unseasonable indeed for late May – I’m sure I’ll be able to come to terms with any less than happy outcomes of shape if it means having a warm skirt that I can wear at home and/or abroad (in the sense of ‘out of the house’). Then it’s just a matter of finding time and being dedicated and all that. I’ve got as far as cutting out and pinning a new, winter skirt. Getting around to sewing it? Yeah, not so much.

But I did manage to thread my new machine and fill a bobbin. Do you reckon that counts as progress?

 
 

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well, it’s like this

Another of our friends is undergoing chemo at present. This is not her first lot, but she lives interstate and we haven’t seen her for a while. We are hoping to visit her in a few weeks from now, so I thought I’d make something special for her. The only question is, will it be a cowl or a cap? And if a cowl, will it be sewn or knitted? I’m torn for good reason:

Humour me while I talk myself into trying this out for the first time!

I thought that I might sew a cowl. Well, you know – actually, you don’t because I haven’t mentioned it before! – I’ve just taken delivery of a new sewing machine like that one there, and I’m itching to give it a try. It arrived on Tuesday and all I’ve done so far is mostly get it out of the box. I know! But what with driving Dr B about the place after some minor surgery that prevented him from driving himself (recovery is proceeding well, thanks) and having a couple of things to do that didn’t involve being at home for serious chunks of the day, plus there’s this awful piece of work I’m trying to complete, there simply hasn’t been time! How sad is that??

Youngest Aunt gave me some fabric last year. Perhaps it was the year before. But anyway, I have some pieces of rayon (a couple of dresses that are worn in critical spots but too nice to throw out and from which I could easily harvest enough fabric to line a cowl) that I could combine with some fine polar fleece to make a deliciously soft and warm fabric cowl. Also, YoungB seems to have lost his original toob – somewhat to his distress; as I sometimes say, you can see why I keep feeding him! – and would be very happy if I were to make him another, please. The days are cold enough that he needs such a thing when he has an early lecture or is coming home in the dark after a long prac or lab session of some sort. At least he no longer has those ridiculously early starts associated with rowing training, but I’ll happily make him another toob. So, on the whole – and thanks for listening while I mulled that over – I think that this time I’ll sew a cowl.

However, as I bought some silky soft yarn yesterday, I might also knit a cap. Dr D lives in a jolly cold part of the country and her hair is just starting to experience what she wonderfully describes as fallout. Her head will definitely need covering. Therefore, the plan at the moment – I know, I’m not good with plans, but let’s just call this an idea of how I might go about achieving what I need – is to sew a toob for YoungB, a cowl for Dr D and then knit a cap. I’ll make the cap the negotiable factor, I think (life might prove busy with YoungB’s looming international travel to organise; and while I could sew a cowl and a toob quite quickly, it would take me considerably longer to knit a cap unless I went for my Inca beanie, but that would require different yarn that I simply don’t have).

Anyone want to put money on how quickly all of that goes off the rails? 🙂

 

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it might be winter, but snow?

Mt Hotham in the Australian Alps. Image from Wikipedia

We had some today, apparently. I know we had lots of rain and some hail because I happened to be out at the time: driving YoungB to training on the other side of town. Training was cancelled, so the coach messaged when we were only about 10 minutes from home, which meant we could turn around and come home again. We did. The dilemma then is, do I stay up and capitalise on being mostly awake by bowling over a stack of housework? Or do I go back to bed and get some more shuteye? I opted to take my knitting to bed. I know, it was neither one thing nor the other and the best choice would certainly have been more sleep. However, I felt at least a little bit productive. And then it snowed up in the Hills. It was more like sleet, some reports have it; but the photos I’ve seen suggest it really was snow, however light a covering it generated for a little while. It’s a big deal for us to have snow. We get out and build ridiculously small snowmen and have a great time. Whether snow or sleet, it’s certainly been a cold day.

YoungB is on his way to what might well be some serious snow (heavier falls are forecast in the very near future, I gather; something like 60 cm in the next couple of days) for a week of fun. It wouldn’t be fun to me – I hate the cold; snow is lovely on postcards and Christmas cards but not in real life, thank you – but he’s young and doesn’t mind the cold TOO much, so I think he’ll have a good time. He elected not to go with the pillowcase option for one of his dress-up costumes, which saved me from a fair amount of head-scratching. We settled on a large garbage bag which would provide protection of all sorts, we reckoned! For the Cops and Robbers night, he’s taken his black balaclava. Like I said, they’re popular items, those black balaclavas. He’s taken his red beanie and his black toob, too. Oh, and the grey sweatshirt I made was on his back. So even if I didn’t refashion a pillowcase, my handiwork has gone with him.

Whatever your weather is doing, I hope you’re having a productive weekend. I think I’ll go and stand in front of the fire for a bit and then? Then it’s back to the knitting.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2013 in Knitting, Sewing

 

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this whole creative thing

It’s possibly weird, and probably because the things others regard as creative I regard as just part of everyday life, but when I think about my own creativity, it extends to what I do musically and not at all to the sewing, knitting, crochet and the like.

The music? I take a song and make it my own. The words and the notes provide direction but the interpretation is mine. I think about it even when I’m not actively singing. I plan how I should best approach certain technical aspects and ponder what story the words are telling and, therefore, how they should be delivered to impart maximum impact.

The knitting? I’m just following a pattern to make something that looks like what the picture says it should. I don’t necessarily consider that clever. Maybe if I were a more adventurous knitter, I’d have a different view of things but, you know, what I knit is easy stuff and pretty yarn does a lot of the work. Mostly, there’s a need for something and I have the skills to make the something to meet that need. It’s usually the case that someone else has already done the hard work of nutting out the pattern. And that some other knitter could follow that pattern and come up with a very similar result.

The sewing, specifically making clothes? I arrive at having something functional and necessary that possibly – even probably – fits better than RTW and is better made (I don’t, however, make many clothes because, frankly, I don’t see the need for a new dress each day of the week; and I wear my clothes for a long, long time). I understand about the cleverness some people bring to their sewing, cleverness that is decidedly creative, but I simply don’t sew enough and certainly not enough clothes.

A very old, very well cared for and much worn guernsey that's almost as good as new. You don't need a new jumper every day!

A very old, very well cared for and much worn guernsey that’s almost as good as new. You don’t need a new jumper every day!

I make lots of lavender bags and simple things like shopping totes and bandannas and toobs for cyclists but they’re neither terribly clever nor at all spectacular and, in many cases, not truly my invention. Someone else came up with the idea for a toob, for example. I merely re-created something similar when necessity dictated because YoungB was fed up with having a cold face and something that got dragged down his face each time he put his helmet on. You might call that an improvement, I suppose, but the basic idea wasn’t mine.

I have a book that describes making pyramid-shaped juggling balls for kids (to stave off boredom during holidays) and I saw some dashing pyramid-shaped paperweights (filled with rice, I think the seller told me). I’d spent a lot of years making little, ravioli-shaped lavender bags, completely handsewn and extraordinarily time consuming, so I was looking for something simpler and faster. I merely adapted those two similar ideas to come up with my pyramid lavender bags (look on Etsy and you’ll see that plenty of folk make pyramid lavender bags). Original? Hardly; though perhaps the mix in mine is one nobody else uses. Creative? Not to my mind.

Is it all about the mystique that nowadays attaches to these once mundane tasks? Time was, and it really wasn’t that long ago, when every woman and quite a few men did these sorts of things as a matter of course and necessity. It is probably true that there have always been some who took it to better levels – tidier stitch definition, neater seams, precision finishing – but it wasn’t anything exceptional and/or special. My Dad used mattress stitch to mend everything; not always neat but always effective! My Mum, who’d been taught by her own mother who was a tailoress, had the right stitch for each mending job: always tidy, even when she apostrophised it as “cobbled together”. She would often add in such cases that, “A blind man would be glad to see it.” Quite so.

Time was, we were a more musically literate society, too. I grew up in a family where everyone sang, everyone had piano lessons and it wasn’t at all weird to gather for a sing-song. I’m of an age and system where the recorder was standard issue at school (or fife if you went public system, like Youngest Aunt; a much trickier instrument altogether) or perhaps there was even a school band where you could have a good time blowing your own trumpet (or possibly trombone, if your arms were long enough). I’m not necessarily suggesting we have to bring back that era or those values or that older system. But when I grew up and everyone knitted and sewed and a lot of people played piano and sang, to bring excellence to the music was special. You had to have something extra to do that.

Maybe that’s what I mean when I say music is where the creativity is, because there were many fine, skilled pianists and singers, too; but only some of them made you sit up and listen and really pay attention to their performance. By and large, the other things – the sewing, knitting and crochet – don’t grab your attention as anything out of the ordinary. They’re part of life and that’s about it. And if they do, then perhaps they’ve gone past that utilitarian stage to being something beyond. Perhaps then they truly are creations.

And perhaps you should now go and read Karen’s post!

 

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FO: Elicia scarf

That lattice yarn? Yeah, sure does knit up quickly! A six-foot scarf in a few days? I’m impressed! IRL it’s slightly darker but the colour contrast within the skein is nowhere near as stark as what’s depicted on the ball band and I like the more subtle result.

What a lot of pink gorgeousness

What a lot of pink gorgeousness

The yarn is Lincraft’s Elicia Ruffle Yarn, a lovely bit of 100% acrylic that was out for half price recently. Well, I’d been itching to attempt using it and what better reason could there be than a colleague’s birthday AND a reduction in price?

I used size 9/3.75 mm needles, because they were handy and I like using them. The ball band instructions recommend 5.5 mm needles but add that needle size does not affect end result. To state the obvious here, the finished size will depend on how many stitches you cast on and how much of the yarn you use. If you follow the instructions on the inside of the ball band and cast on five stitches then knit to nearly the end of the skein, you’ll end up with a scarf that’s about 8 cm wide and 230 cm long. That’s what I did.

Dr B and YoungB think it’s a bit weird and I know they’re both hoping that, having got that out of my system, I’ll now get back to the serious business of making some more polar fleece toobs for them to use while motorcycling. The sewing table being somewhat clearer because that large piece of knitting is no longer there, I’m probably going to find that a much easier undertaking.

 

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still knitting

My workplace is presently a bit strange because everyone is restless (not only those who are going but also those who are staying). So I try not to focus too much on what’s happening there, despite knowing that I have a lot of work coming my way as a result of that situation.

As ever, in order to retain my sanity, I’m still knitting. Honest, I am. I’m still knitting the Easy Lace Cowl because I decided to make it deeper (yes, I made progress on that during the week while commuting). I’m still knitting Eldest Niece’s mittens (yes, I have done a couple more rows of that second one but haven’t yet picked up for the thumb). I’m still knitting the latest hat (halfway through a shaping row and wondering if the cables are going to be lost in the colours). And I’m still knitting the lattice scarf (wow, that’s an amazingly quick knit but best not attempted when so tired you can’t keep your eyes open and definitely something where you do not want to drop a stitch).

I’m also still knitting that Noro Silk Garden scarf that I started for Eldest Son’s 40th-birthday present. You might recall it morphed into something more sober and serious that my menfolk assured me he might actually wear (I don’t know if he does) but I didn’t unpick what I’d already done. I rolled it up and put it away in one of my many calico shopping bags. I picked it up for my travel knitting on Sunday, wanting something gratifying but not requiring huge amounts of concentration – I needed to be able to identify sheep and crops and participate in conversation, you know – and being a straightforward 1×1 rib, it was ideal for the purpose.

So I’m still knitting quite a lot. I’m just not finishing anything.

And now I have an emergency sewing project: some more toobs, please, because one is lost and the weather is getting too chilly to be without such a thing. OK, I’ve tracked down the black polar fleece, must be close to locating the white and am clearing the sewing table. Back soon!

 

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effective even if inelegant

Today Dr B has gone out motorcycling with an old schoolmate. He’s wearing his RST jeans with their armour inserts. The replacement pocket I made works beautifully, he said. Great. And because he couldn’t find his own toob and YoungB isn’t using his, he’s also wearing that black toob I made for YoungB. Warms the cockles of your heart. They take it very much for granted that I can and/or will do these things for them but I don’t mind being an everyday, functional part of their lives. Yesterday, I did a spot of handsewing for Dr B, repairing a couple of splits on his motorcycling inner gloves. It’s not classy stuff and perhaps the sewing could have been neater – I mean, black thread on black fabric and small seams with a tricky curve combined with ageing fingers! –  but it does the job.

By way of a little footnote to yesterday’s post, that fabric I used for the replacement pocket is some of the leftovers from two of Dr B’s cycling bandannas and there have been several lavender bags made from it as well. Not a lot goes to waste in our house, unless it’s so old and worn it’s not worth recycling (even then, I’ve been known to chop it up to use as stuffing for door stoppers and cushions). Ideally, you would hope I might have made that pocket out of an old, white, cotton sheet. Any of those that we have are very old indeed (we’re talking in excess of 50 years).

I thought that, as long as it was sturdy cotton, then what it looked like when it was inside the jeans mattered not. Who was going to see it to comment? Dr B is delighted. He asked, in fact, if I could make some pockets for YoungB to attach to his Draggins, which don’t come so equipped. That means I’d have to put velcro on the jeans as well as the pockets. That would mean sewing four lots of velcro! I’ve passed on that for now; but if I find a good way of sewing velcro, I’ll bump it up the priority list. There’s no harm at all in providing motorcyclists with as much protection as possible.

Meanwhile, it’s Australia Day and I have the house to myself for a few hours. Aha! This might be just the opportunity for a spot of sewing for me! How do you plan to spend the day?

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2013 in Cycling, Motorcycling, Sewing

 

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