Thursday, March 29, 2007

PBCZC is finished, & why we don't eat at burger king

4 year old Poppy skipping into the kitchen "Mum, Mum, we need to go to Burger King"
Mum "Burger King? but we are having a Rissotto for dinner, with grandads carrots"
Poppy "Can we go to Burger King tomorrow?"
Mum "It costs lot of money, sweetie, and you don't really eat the food there"
Poppy " another day ? can we go another day?"
Mum "Why do we need to go to Burger King?"
Poppy "on tv, they have girl toys, and boy toys for Toby, we need to go, I can use my money"
Mum thinking of the busy week ahead " well maybe on friday"

skip to the next week, following a tummy bug and the first tooth falling out, and a really busy monday and there we all are sitting at Burger King.
Mum "no you can't open the toy until you have eaten half the burger"
5 minutes latter Mum again, "not until the burger is half gone"
30 minutes latter, Mum trying not to nag " you can have the toy at home if you eat half the burger in the car"
at home, following tears, "well if you eat this banana, you can have the toy"
30 seconds latter, Poppy " I love burger king, this is the best toy"

Mum, knocking head on wooden table, makes a mental note for the 100th time, Poppy does not eat take aways.... of any kind, except bowls of plain noodles so Why Bother?

OK, so parenting mistakes aside, Powder Blue cabled zippie cardie (PBCZC?) is remade, newer, more flattering and shorter than before. So below are the progress shots. First, the transition between the old original section of the cardigan body knitted bottom up, and the newely knitted on ribbing. Pretty amazing, you cant tell, I wish the stitches had lined up so I could have continued the cables ... but it does look good.

I dithered over what to do on the edge of the ribbing, originally i had used a channel island cast on. this gives a row of twisted double yarn knots at the cast on edge, and is really hard wearing, and quite decorative and 'chunky'. See included image. I have a soft spot for channel island cast on, basically a doubled thumb cast on, with a yarn over between You knit the overs, and purl the stitches.

It is almost the same cast on my mum taught me, and as she died when I was 14, the things she passed on that I use as an adult seem few and are precious. I didn't know it was called channel island, it was just what she used, and only latter I realised it was very different to what my friends did. She wasn't a sophisticated knitter, knitted flat and followed patterns, but when I use this method it connects me to her.

I really didn't want a standard chain cast off, even if I zig-zagged it by k1p1 the cast off row.

So ... I decided to try a tubular cast off, as detailed in the Readers Digest knitting book by montse stanley. As is the Channel island cast on. Tubular cast off inolves the last few rows being double knit, and then the edges kitchenered together thus ...

Worked quite well, took most of the night and I had to put the front and back stitches on separate needles, but a very nice finish. Ms Stanley suggested a clever knitter would soon work out how to do this with all the stitches on one needle - I tried but not me.

Next I had to remake the zip facing, the original had a knitted on zip facing, on both the inside and outside to hide the ugly tape. I modified a technique described in Katharina Buss's Big book of knitting, using a crochet hook I picked up stitches along the front edge, 3 for every 4 rows. The loops formed on both the inside and outside collected on a circular needle, and then I knit the facing in the round. Essentially a short tubular pocket. I knit this long enough to cover the zip tape, and then cast of regular style.

I pinned the zip in to check length, then stitched using a double thread of standard colour matched sewing thread. I would have prefered to use a colour matched zip, but went to 3 shops and this was the best. I plan to order one thru work, and see if commercially I can get a better match. This is a lightweight, open ended invisable zipper, I think some of the buckling last time was due to the weight of a heavier zip.

Over all I am reasonably happy.

And this is what the cardie looks like on a 'fake' person, with photos of me wearing it in comming soon. I think a 100% improvement, and well worth a weeks work. I do wonder why I waited so long, I should have done this last winter.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

sewing up the Fish afghan, ... oh & finished socks

There is a discussion on Knitters Review forum about methods of joining the fish. Most people seem happy to crochet, and while I can crochet I wanted something flatter, something more sublte. Firstly this is my mini school of fish swimming amongst the stones under our washing line. For now they lie flat, although on a table not on rocky ground, I expect they will still be flat after all are joined, and if not a wet block will solve that problem. I do notice many many knitters say the blanket is wavey and they accept that and kind of like that, I guess I will kind of like that to if waves result.

The following is a photo-essay of how I joined my fish, progress images of the 'side' seam and tail seams. I have included images of the weaving in, and the final one of a close up of the seams from the right side. I stitched my fish 'wrong' sides up, flat on the table or over my fingers. the sharp eyed of you will not I seamed an orange tail to a white one, to show the stitch clarity, then undid this to stitch the white tail to a varigated tail as they will be in the final blanket. No really I made a mistake and and had to undo it. When seaming - I tried to stitch through the upper most edge loop, on the wrong side, leaving the other side of the loop to show on the right side. I did stitch from left to right and then for the next stitch from right to left and so forth, note I have not included the whole serries of photos as some were fuzzy and not focussed.

....and the modified Widdershins heel Regia stripe socks are finished, and they apparently fit perfectly, and no he does not read my blog (as far as I know), but he knows I blog 'things knitting'. The sizing system worked, knitting from the toe and increasing every 2nd row until the sock width is the same as a tracing of the sole. Next time I might allow another set of gusset increases, just for ease over the ankle.

First image is the socks of a mans feet at leisure, and the second my very cheesy take on the current mode of photographing socks on feet from behind when posed ballet style. Both images show the heel nicely. Note the carefully selected background of vintage sewng books.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


I got 'knitting buddies'!, I meet a fellow knit blogger, Tanya, her friend Kelly and one other last wednesday. And we knit and caught up on life - it was great. Tanya posted a querry about dunedin, nz knitters on KR forums, and it all just followed.

I realised that i suffer from procrasti-knit-ion, when its all to much, when there is a problem or a deadline i just want to slink away and knit. Yet when it is the knitting that is the problem, i dont want to work with it, I just ignore it.

Tuesday I stopped procrastin-knitting and knit, or rather I frogged, big time. The least flattering powder blue cabled cardigan in the world became shorter and neater. I snipped a yarn just at the waist, then tinked back one stitch at a time. Blue cable had been washed so the yarn loops were stable, some I picked up with a fine needle before I unlaced the yarn, some I picked up after they were free of yarn - both worked equally well. Then I had this, a surreal image of a cardie divided, split into two. I must admit to being very calm about this, I guess the sweater is so un-flattering I have little invested in its sucess so its destruction does not bother me.

The yarn, a pure wool, has set into tight crinkles, so once I frogged the lower section I tied it into a hank and soaked it over night in warm water, then rinsed and have blotted dry and hung up to dry in a sunny warm room.

So what does cable cardie look like waist length, - well like this on a dress form and further down like this on me.I tried to do the image of me with a head and in the mirror, but .... I didn't like any of them. This shows the cardie in its true colour, pale powder blue, and I admit to liking this waist proportion - a little like a vintage leather jacket. This one was knit to an EZ formulae, for saddle soulders, the sleeve cable runs right up these, and worked great.

First the mirror I used was in 4 year old Poppys room and covered in finger marks. Its an oval mirror set into the door of a 1900's oak wardrobe. We have the joy of living in a house with no built in wardrobes, but lots of hall closets. I do clean house, I do sweep, vacume, dust and polish - but I obviously have not done her mirror in a long long long time. So I cleaned the mirror, and from photo shoot number 2 these two are the 'best', a great one of the cardi, and one of the few where my face was not behind the camera, I actually had my eyes open :-). Sorry about the darkness.

...and today, Michael from work, the man who understands computer networks, came and visited me at home, on Saturday, and a long weekend, but he took time to make my work windows laptop speak to my home mac wireless network. This was great, Michael is not a mac man. So what you ask, now I can knit, surf, drink g&t, and watch ER, all from or on the couch at the same time, and then I can send what i find to print with no cables. How cool is that? It might even make blogging more frequent, as I won't have to share the mac with the man who now has longer finished socks (sock pictures soon). I do wish work used macs, but if that is my only moan then life is sweet.

Monday, March 19, 2007

fish stock take, socks unravelled ....

Quick post, to make up for missing post last week ....
the fish stock take has been done, I have 36 plain fish, and 41 multi-coloured fish, so 77 fish in total.

Regia socks, with modified widdershins heel, confession time. When Chris tried on these socks, he miffed me --- big time. This is Mr polite, holds open doors, and all that. Not a 'well done', 'wonderful', or a 'great lovely colour', or a 'you shouldn't have' but a 'they are a bit short'. Well I decided that people who were not enthusiastic about the socks I made them deserved short socks. I am now over that momentary lack of compassion - so last night I frogged the top 1.5 inches of k1p1 rib, on sock one, right back back to the top of the k2p2 rib. I now have 2 uncomplete socks, a new hobby, and fish to knit, not to mention a cabled zippie cardie to fix.

I have not picked up the live stitches, as you can see in photo, but shoved the sock in a ziploc bag for safekeeping. I will pick up stitches some time soon. I guess these were never Karma'd to match exactly, as there will be a jog in the yarn as I splice it together.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Dangerous new hobby ....

Apologies for the delay in the post, Wednesday is my blog night, because of tv, home work, study, and other stuff - but last week I took Toby to a classsical guitar concert on wednesday. Music from South america, at the local art gallery. The audience numbered a whole 3.5 people, and 96 empty chairs, Toby being only 7 was the half person. Toby has signed himself up for guitar lessons, rented the guitar and been practicing, so i thought it important to encourage in some way. It was good, but a tad 'focussed' being one of 3 adults in the audience, Toby clapped with wild abandon after every set, which I was a little suspicious was hammed up and in part pleasure that the artist had stopped playing. He also kept annoucing that he also played guitar but mum wouldnt let him bring it, He knows 2 notes E and A - I didn't think he was ready for play in public.

Thursday evening went on my parent of a school child obligations to be part of the school fair committee, and friday we had drinks after work to kind of open the new building, and saturday my dad was here for the weekend, which was a surprise and nixed the activity of knitting and ignoring the world for the night.

Chris's regia socks are progressing, onto the final leg section of the 2nd sock. I stuffed up the stripe matching, being a grey stripe ahead of where i should have been so they dont match exactly - but who looks at 50 years olds feet in hand knit socks and mentions the mismatch pattern of stripes by 0.5 cm?

Fish - count is now a school of 73 I think, but I do need to reconcile my calculated count with formal stock take of actual fish in the drawer. I am nearly out of left over sock yarn, but I realise I need many many more in goldfish orange and white to balance the whole thing if i do in fact plan a chequer board effect. Some how I have a number of 100 in my head, a blanket of 10 x 10 - so will see how that works out size wise in the next few weeks.

I dragged the sewing machine out this morning and worked on two projects. Dragged as it lives on the lowest level of a hall closet and needs to be set up on the dining room table. How I wish I had a sewing room, where things were always set up. I could go to work to use the equipment in the production rooms, but that just invites students to ask questions, and when I work/play there in the weekends I spend more time as teacher than working on my own projects. I love my job, but 7 days a week, no way.

First project was modifications to an Indian Lengha outfit. My 4 and half year old daughter, Poppy, attended Indian dance lessons last term through her Montessori school. She is blond and blue eyed, and loved it - Bollywood here we come. A workmate returned to India over the Chrismas new year break and I asked if she spotted a cheap Indian costume if she could buy one. She did, white and gold, a bodice, a lace up vest, and the skirt and pants (joined into a single waistband) - all heavily embroidered on the front in gold and pearls. The length was perfect, but the waist was tiny, about 4 inches to small - and my girl is tall and thin in comparison to some of her classmates, those indian genetics must make for super thin childen. Luckily the skirt/pants were constructed with two huge 2 inch pleats in the front, which just needed releasing. I was able to purchase exactly the right colour matching georgette polyester (eeegh shudder shudder - my fibre snobbery raises its ugly head) in the local budget craft fabric shop (- Spotlight) to cut a new waistband. I love the theatical ness of the outfit, all the embroidery is on the front, none at all on the back - you know - because - well its only the front that people see ?

2nd project was a gathered skirt in teal blue crinkle cotton with a silver stripe for Poppy - construction time was less than an hour, more like 30 mins. Cost was $2 NZ, the fabric was on the $2pm table at spotlight, and I used thread and elastic I already had - No pattern, two side seams using the selvedge, narrow hem, and elastic casing at the waist. Poppy calls it her 'swooshy' skirt, made for dancing.

and the new hobby i am trying out - weaving. I have been noticing the adverts and podcast reviews of the ashford knitters loom, and I remembered there were several table looms at work just abandoned. We don't teach that any more - a tad crafty and not very current fashion. Although a student wove tarten wool fabric strips into a new tarten fabric a few years ago and made kilts which were so punk and frayed and just plain amazing, she teamed them with leather jackets she also made and long, black and laddered textured knitted garments (on a domestic knit machine - but I still swooned).

So I borrowed a loom, a fixed heddle ashford table loom that must be over 15 years old. I contacted Ashford - who are based near my Dads house, and they sent me an old how to instruction book in full colour photos. I warped it up last weekend and wove. At first I was tastefull and used pale grey, white and beige yarn, then after a while those images of knitters weaving with 'fancy' yarns got to me and I introduced a forgotten feathers yarn from the depths of my small stash. I convinced myself that no one expects a knitters first project to be really beautiful and useful, so why should my weaving be? Do I like weaving, yes, do I want to weave, Yes, can it replace knitting No. Did i like weaving with feathers yarn - no no no no no, nore did I like knitting with it which is the reason it is in my stash.

Why weaving is fun but is not yet going to replace knitting in my life,
  1. I can't do it on the couch while watching tv
  2. I have to sit upright at the table and cant curl up (simillar to 1. but slightly different)
  3. takes more set up time, and so planning, no cast on and go aspect
  4. not sure i like the result, what do I do with meters of hand woven fabric without looking like an alternaltive hand woven, hand spun, hippie?
I also discovered that cotton yarn is as fiddly to weave with as it is to knit with, slippery, and with no stretch or memory. Still I think i will buy the loom from work, they don't use them, and I would like to have this as an option in my 'craft arsonal'.

Monday, March 05, 2007

sewing together the fish, and book club

So quick post today, book club tomorrow night which is blog night, and lots of nights out this week. More on that latter. Book club, I have been a member for over 2 years now, but never record the books i have read, this months was harrowing. Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse, a tale of the health aftermath of hiroshima experienced by one man and his neice. Interesting, and very sobering, and worthwile but not a fun read. It is a book club where we buy into a larger organisation the WEA (workers education association started way back in the wee small years of the 1900's), they select for us, and we have a history of getting really sobering books, and some that were just horrific "the corrections" springs to mind. Still we eat nibbles, we compare childrens progress, most are ex nurses, while I am not, so I have learned lots, most are mums, but some are not, and we admire food, houses, haircuts and clothes, and cheer up those who loose boyfriends, jobs, and miss out on things they wanted.

I have not made any moves on unpicking powder blue and most unflattering cabled zippie long line cardie in the world, but I will after this week and weekends round of work events, including a preview and opening of our new building. but I did take a few moments last weekend to stitch together two fish, before frogging the stitching and washing them/blocking them. I scanned these, the camera still being in the wrong location.

Right side shows the fish right side up, left side shows the 'underside' or belly of the fish. the top pair are stitched from the underside, picking up the lower loop of the chain edge, the bottom pair stitched from the right side, picking up the top loop of the chain edge. Easy, and so neat. I just need to decide if i like the rustic stitches showing look, or the stitches on the underside. I was very very happy with how neat it all turned out. Works for me. Will try and post step by step instructions of how I did that after next weekend.

Oh, and the fish count is still 66