Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Wheel number 69

Had you, didn't I?
For a minute there you did wonder if i had 69 wheels ... just for a minute, no I don't have 69 wheels, but I do have Wheel 69.

But first, a warning, this post contains explicit consumerism which may offend some people, I suggest if the content of the post upsets you knit or spin something useful and calming - like socks and return next weekend when as usual project process details will be discussed.

This post was to be about me waiting for a large box to be delivered, confirmation came it had been sent on Monday, and came from the other end of the island .. some 650 km away. J had a similar box delivered last year and it took over a week - so I was resigned to waiting, waiting, and I had mentally written a blog post about waiting. Technically I've been waiting (and saving) for a little over 6 months, that is how long the waiting list is, but the last few days is always the hardest.
Tuesday I came home to find a large box at the back door. So much for having to sign for it - if I wasn't so excited to have it I'd raise a fuss that the courier left a package that specifically required signing for on my back door - still it was to big to cart away.

The box had 8 or 9 courier tickets on it, it was a big box. But ... you know, adrenaline kicked in and I was able to move it to the lounge. Honestly - we are talking 5:05pm, and Bear and the cubs were due home after art class finished at 5:30, time was in short supply.

I unpicked the stapled and taped top, and saw .... a booklet and lots of little parcels all wrapped old-school style in newsprint.

I carefully unwrapped each of the newspaper wrapped items and found, bobbins (pre tested), a flier, a lazy kate base, and many various little turned and shaped metal and wooden bits. But what was that underneath?

A top, a rimu top ... exciting. At this stage I realised that I couldn't go on ... I had to at least txt Bear to bring home takeaways ... or sort dinner. Texting to say 'sorry I'm busy with a box' seemed so shallow, and some times shallow feels wrong. I'll admit there are times when shallow feels right - but lets not go there now. A quick rummage in the fridge and pantry, produced what might be the quickest dinner in Dunedin, sliced smoked chicken (a tin of fish for Toby), a large pot of water so I could put pasta on to cook, a tub of stir thru pesto, and a lettuce torn into chunks and flung thru the salad spinner with some chopped things. Oh that bit hurt, spinning lettuce when ....

I could have been spinning on Grace, or more formally The Grace. Beautiful, Poppy came home, and noticed the hearts ... she would. I did to.

And out of the box, this is the public side of the Grace.

The Grace is a big wheel, Mike Keeves (her maker) describes her as a Studio wheel. I like that, the hint that I might have a studio. This is a big wheel, Mike made me promise not to take her out in my car. Don't worry Mike, she wouldn't fit, the wheel is 19.5"/50cm across, and there are 5 ratios, from a slow 5.5 to lacy 25.

The cross arms mounted in font of the wheel are an 'on-board skeiner', an attachment that replaces a ninny noddy and is treadle driven.

Mike has thought of everything, there are 3 various orifice attachments, and a cleaner to clear the bobbins when they gunk up, and the skeiner and a cute little clip to guide the yarn into place .. and a cap to hold the bobbin in place when skeining and you take the flier off ... every thing, even down to little tab of Velcro to secure the yarn end when you skein. I might just add one to my ninny noddy. And all those little tools, all store on a little shelf on the top, just under a neat carry handle.
And it has hearts on it - did I mention that, carved hearts?

and maybe the best bit, its the 69th Grace wheel built, and its mine.

In keeping with the wanton consumer theme of this post, there was other mail this week.
The last installment of the Vintage Purls Summer Sock Club 2009 arrived: Daphne. The prettiest pale grey green soft sock yarn ever ... with another exquisite lace sock pattern - these just seem to get better and better. There may or may not have been edible treats ... and if there were they were long gone by the time the photo was made.

Receiving this sock club kit produced a dilemma ... I now had 3 Vintage Purls sock club kits un-knit. Garnet , the last sock in the Winter Warm up club, Theodora the 2nd sock in the Summer sock club .. and now Daphne. Such choice - what to choose.

Garnet won .. I feel like cables (and spinning).
take care
na stella

Saturday, March 28, 2009


As if this hobby wasn't addictive enough, with all the soft fibers, the pretty colours, the amazing knit stitch dictionaries, the clever designers ... and the beautiful tools. Just when I have it sort of under control, in the loosest sense, a new book on a knitting technique seems custom made for knitting with hand spun yarn ... a combination that really fuels two of my current addictions - there is no hope, and I'd have to admit to not seeking treatment yet. Today ... I'll share my latest connection, a finished hat and another all ready on the way, an update on Signe, and an exhibition that is a must see if you are in Dunedin (or look out for one near you).

Knit one below by Elise Duvekot arrived last Tuesday, its now Sunday. I've fallen, one and a half hats latter I'm a convert, there will be more, much more of this knitting for me. I do have to thank Suzanne (aka Magpie) for alerting me to the blog and Ravelry buzz around this book. Elise Duvekot has a simple technique for using variegated (or not) yarns to create vertical stripes in knitted work. And it need not be vertical stripes, it can be squares, or a mosaic of colour, or some other pattern, graphic or subtle. The fabric created by her knitting technique is amazing, flat, flexible and with a soft floppy drape. I thought this might be worth a try for my Dad's birthday hat. One of the patterns had a similar gauge to the hand-spun I had swatched .... well it was knit on the nearly same size needles (3.5mm vs 3.75mm) ... so I took a chance, cast on 72 stitches and knit away. What fun, absolute fun, watching the hand-spun colours work up into vertical stripes. What more fun to realize this knits into a fabric where the edge has no curl ... yes, this fabric is flat and does not curl. Knit in a solid colour yarn, you would get a rib effect stocking stich with no curl.

I'll admit to breaking and joining the odd section of yarn, just so as I would be working with yarns of two different colours. I used a hand-spun, navaho plied from a hand dyed roving. Hand-spun yarns made from roving like that tend to have long colour changes and if spun a certain way, have graduated sections between the pure colour sections. I see a very very nice use for many of those hand dyed rovings that have called to me from various sales tables .... now I see more than pretty fiber, I see hats, mittens, blankets, scarves, shawls, socks ... and even whole garments. this link here has the projects from Knit One Below shown, and if you scroll down ... the socks, well those socks. I almost texted my yarn supplier at 10pm on the evening the book arrived ' black and white please... or pale grey to work with my Bears Bunker Please'. My addiction is a polite one at least. I never did text her ... but the intention is there.

The back of the knitting has a pretty cool appearance as well, Elise describes it as little swallows, and its pretty. Long story short .. you might have noticed the hat was modeled by Toby, who fits this hat well, and it is clear that hat will be a trifle small for my Dad. His birthday is on the 25th of April, so I have time. After all, this one took only a few days.

So I've cast on another, and renamed the first Not-Grandad's Hat. My dad has become Grandad, as adults of his generation do, its just clearer when my Dad is known as Grandad, and this families Dad is Bear ... otherwise it gets fairly confusing, when I talk of 'Dad' my kids were never sure if I meant my dad or theirs. Not-Grandad's Hat weighs 34g, and I have 55g of yarn left so I think I have enough to knit a turned back cuff on the Real-Grandad's Hat. I've added 4 more stitches ... which should be enough to make it fit a little more easily.

Much of the reason I have knitted on the two Grandad Hats, is that I became confused by Singe. I've been in touch with the Designer, , and she has clarified my confusion and posted a really informative update on her blog, showing clearly her clever thumb gusset construction. I do have to say ... it differs a little from that in the pattern instructions (e.g. waste yarn vs cast on and latter pick up), and now I'm clear about how to work the gusset increases and decreases. Yes Johanne Landin, not only works a gusset , but then reverses that shaping, and she decorates the gusset as it decreases. Very very clever, I'm looking forward to working that.

Now I don't spend all my time knitting, Today we headed off to the opening of a Fringe Festival Exhibition at the Art Gallery (DPAG), on Chindogu, which was brilliant. (Note the link is to an explanatory site on Chindogu -not the exhibition I was at). Simply brilliant, there was no knitting there (why) or Tatting (Suzanne, surely tatting is Chindogu?), but my all time favorite was either the public bathroom tap that squirted soapy water when used. The inventor had concerns about washing their hands only to have to open a public door perhaps used by many others, some of whom perhaps were not so careful to wash their hands. The other was by a child, a mere boy of 10, who simply strapped a shrub in a bucket onto roof-rack, as a low carbon-neutralizing attachment for a car. Fabulous - rib crackingly fantastic, I'm still giggling

na Stella

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Quick post ...

'cause you know, work got in the way this week, as it often does. There is a conference to prepare for, so if any of you have a hankering to attend an Art and Design Educators conference next month ... please do. I'm part of the team and we have been working our little bits off to get ready and organized ... and the list to do seems endless, but I'm sure it will end, just not yet. Today as a result it is a very quick post, there is a paper or two to prepare for the conference, and one that needs be away by end of the month (this month, thats less than a week --- eeeeeekkkk), and so not much knitting has been going on.
Toby has socks ... finished, done, cast-off woven in, I've been distracted but little things semi knitting related, and I've got a new book to distract me even further. Yikes ... this month I need no distractions.

Onward, Toby's socks, done, dusted, ends dealt with and off the needles. For a sock that took so long to take form, for yarn that I openly admitted to not liking very much ...I now have a sock that I love the effect of so much - that I want to knit more that use slip stitches. I've named these socks Disrupting Regia, as a connection to disruptive patterning, the formal name for camo fabric. this book is one I've bought for the library at work, and this is a more economical option that I just might buy for myself some time, and the suggestion of using patterning to disguise or modify the true appearance of something -- well it appeals, maybe deep down I'm subversive at heart? I'm not going to rush into more socks like this though ... my dads birthday looms and that hat has not progressed any further.

My latest development on the bag front is little cards, bag-tags. I'm hoping that these will be on sale at a fiber festival near me soon. Yes next month, just before the conference. I've been learning lots about putting heavy card in my photo inject printer, and about trim marks and how settings in the print control dialog boxes are mere suggestions to the printer -- not hard and fast rules that must be obeyed. Many many black and white test prints and minute adjustments latter - I have two files that print 15 two sided tags on one sheet of card. Such a little simple thing, so long to adjust it 'just so'.

Right now -- I'm off to polish one of those articles that I mentioned, the one with the nearest deadline. My time management is simple, if I have time to do what I really want to do I will, otherwise I do what I need to get done first. It works for the housework, for writing papers and for knitting. After I've put in an obligatory half an hour on the paper, I plan to settle in with my new book, Knit one below by Elise Duvekot. Elise creates beautiful effects with variegated yarn in this book, making thick squooshy looking vertically stripped fabric. The book arrived 15 minutes before we sat down for family dinner tonight, so I've not read enough to the book or swatched - but it looks amazing, and unlike any other technique I've read or seen so far. This might be the right thing to work dads birthday hat in. The link is to a UK bookseller - Book Depository, if you life outside of the US - check them out. The prices include shipping, and with the exchange rate they seem to be working out the cheapest for getting books to New Zealand right now.

ok - off to fuddle with a paper, and then that book ...and Signe grows - but I forgot to photograph it while there was natural light. Maybe next time?

Na Stella

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Call me the Bag Lady ..

Yes, a Bag Lady, I spent yesterday making project bags, little cute project bags, lots of bags .... 15 bags. So today I feel a little like a bag lady, but in a good way, and I'm happier about version II of the Regia sock for Toby, I've started a swatch for a hat for my Dad, and of course the bags. lots-a-bags to show.

For the past month or so, I've been attempting to knit a sock for Toby. Poor soul, he has no hand knit socks that fit, not one and winter looms here in the south. Pops (younger sister) has inherited his outgrown socks, and has new ones of her own, Bear (his dad) has 3 or 4 pairs, and his mum ... well shameless selfish me, I have many hand knit socks - so many I'm not telling how many. Winter approaches, the sock yarn drawer is full ... and I wanted to knit my Toby cub a pair of socks, but the mojo seemed gone. Ok I'll admit I don't really like this yarn anymore, I can't remember why I bought it, and it seemed a good idea to use it up. This colour-way of Regia is a very suitable match for a small male bear cub ... but it just didn't work the first time around. Well that was last month, this last week, it all came together into a sock that works, a sock I like, a sock that ... well a sock that is flying off the needles. I found a pattern that looked promising, Slip Stitch Striped Socks, by Melissa Friedlund, and started again. I didn't follow Melissa's pattern, my yarn is not quite the same ... and I like a toe up gusset sock, but I based this sock on her idea of slipped stitches. Right now, I've done one sock and am nearly at the gusset increases of the second - and best of all, they fit!

There is one 'error' in my work, an escaped stitch. I noticed this on the sole of the toe as I finished the gusset increases, which are a long way and many many rounds from the toe. Never mind its all gone now, all woven in now, no tell tale sign remains. I'm very good at hiding little mistakes like that, any one would think I had had practice with things like that.

I worked the slip stitched patterning on the instep and then right around the leg. These are slipped every 4th stitch, and every 2nd round. That works work nicely into the slip stitch heel and the 1x1 rib at the top. I like the effect achieved by using slip stitches and am already tumbling around ideas for other socks using this kind of pattern.

Next month my dad turns 70-something, we debate over 75 or 76 - he insists it the younger of the two and that we can not count. I insist he is listed as being born in 1933 on my birth certificate, he says nonsense 1934. Either way it is an age worth celebrating. I'm making him a hat. Oh I know he will toss in on the floor of the old truck, and the 1971 'crusier, I know it will get sat on, and dropped on the oily work bench and floor of the workshop, I know he will loose it or machine wash it, or use it to as a heat pad as he fusses with a hot radiator, but he is my dad and I want to knit him a hat. I hand spun this yarn, from a fiber bought at knit-night. Another knitters stash-busting sale before moving away. 17.6 micron merino, so soft, and hand dyed from grey green to orange. The swatch is 40 stitches in the round, so might turn into a mitt for Toby ... and I might manage to get a hat and a pair of mitts from the 258m I've spun. I'll find a vintage truck or tractor book to go with the hat as well, he won't abuse that quite the same. And yes it might be considered knit abuse - but its also knit wear ... designed to be used, and I'm happy with that.

And here is my bag tree, 15 assorted bags hung up for want of a better place to put them. 15 bags take up a wee bit of room about the house, and they are so pretty I wanted to look at them, so my skein rack is now a bag tree.

I made six black and white bags.

Two different cat fabric bags and a pebble bag ..

and six little piglet fabric bags.
There are as many bags still to make, another 10 or so cut out ready to sew, and at least another 20 or more to cut.

Which might be what I do tomorrow, as its is Otago Anniversary Day, so a public holiday .. no work. There probably is spinning. Note to self, find out where spinning is and if its here tidy up.

take care,
na Stella

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sneaky FO!

You didn't know I was knitting this, I didn't know until Monday night I was knitting this, and C defiantly didn't know I was knitting these let alone I was knitting these for her.
Today - one more swatch mitt makes a pair of Owlet Mitts, and a distraction.
Way back in the middle of January I swatched for my Owl mitt, and swatching in the round 'as-you-do'. I tried the mitt on my arm 'as-you-do', to see if the 40 or so stitches were the right number for a sleeve and discovered the Owl swatch made a pretty good mitt, or wristlet. I blogged it, it was cute, and Ravelry'd it, got a request from C for the 'pattern', responded and went on to knit my Owl cardigan. Tidying up I found my swatch and the pattern I had written out for C ... and thought of how she only ever seemed to have one mitt on. C joked she couldn't knit the second mitt - ever - I don't remember if it was sms (second mitt syndrome) or some other reason, probably in truth C is easily distracted just like me.

... so I hatched a plan, Monday I knit the second swatch mitt, and tested my pattern. Tuesday morning I washed and blocked them .. Tuesday night I gifted them on the condition photos were sent to me for blog and ravelry reasons. Look at this, such beautiful images and even the Owl and the Pussy cat! Harley is his name .. I've never meet Harley and some how I imagined more whiskers ( a sort of a rough biker cat) but no, he is sleek and elegant - I'm sorry Harls.

And as I said I've been distracted, by making labels, for bags, I've been collecting fun fabric for more project bags, and over the weekend relaxed on Sunday by cutting out and fusing pieces for 22 more bags and making these ... Knitknitfrog labels and fabric & manufacture labels. Not made in NZ (the fabric has to be imported) but sewn in New Zealand, Such fun - you know - picking the font and the colours, small things - small minds

Ok - I'll admit it, not much happened knitwise since the last post
so I'm going to go off and knit some
na Stella

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The first one was too big, the 2nd one was too small, and the third one ..

well it should be just right. That is right, I had a Goldilocks experience yesterday.
Mittens, I'm talking about mittens, I over thought my new project, and after a wee re-think now ... I'm back on the right track. Today - there is the new project which is now going just right, Bears Vikkel mittens make their finished debut, we are off to the cubs school fair - so I'm showing off Bears baking, and I've found a link to some of the designs at Fridays show, and ... well that is probably all that happened knit-wise since Wednesday.

The knitters study group meet on Saturday, and we knew it was to be traditional mittens. Not to be outdone by the super organized M who was spinning until midnight for natural colour work mittens and had made her own charted design (very very pretty), I had already sourced a great colour work design to use,
Signe by Johanne Landin from Borntoknit. I also found Edith by the same designer, and bought both - I couldn't decide. Still can't. But ... I wanted to try the banded start at the mitten tip construction in Anna Zilboorgs Magnificent Mittens so I swatched a mitten tip on 2mm needles with increases every other round. Too small, but very pretty. At this stage I wasn't working from the chart ... just playing with which colour to carry ahead and which to use as the background.

It soon became obvious that increasing every second round would give me a very pointy mitten .. imagine how pointy when I finally increased enough for the width of my hand?

so I looked at Borntoknits pattern where the increases are every round ... and I tried that.
mmm ... not quite right, this time the swatch was worked to the pattern but with the Magnificent Mittens band ... which gave a nice shallow angle to the mitten tip, but when I increase a few more to fit the chart on, well ... this time .. well its too big.

Yes, really too big, there are several more increases to add.

So I sat and thought, I bought Signe because I loved the pattern so I asked myself what was I doing mucking it up with all this weird swatching and adding extra side bands? Signe works, and there is proof, people have knit signe before me, Johanne Landin has done the math and made the charts. I didn't have to knit in the magnificent mitten shapping in this mitten, there were going to be many more mittens to knit in my life, and one of them could be made that way, but it need not be Signe, and need not be right now. Clearer I started according to the pattern, and its going well. I also switched up up to 2.25mm needles. After blocking my swatch-tips I found the gauge on 2mm needles was 12 spi, and I need 9.

The reason I had begun with 2mm is this yarn is so fine. I am using yarn from Bendigo, the Classic Cone range in 2 ply, Aztec and Almond. They supply yarn in lots of different weights, from 2 ply to very bulky. Because it is straight from the mill and on a cone this yarn is quite 'flat', with no bounce. After blocking it almost doubles in girth. You can see how thin the unblocked yarn is here, its the lower pair of yarns, the fluffier top pair is an example of the same yarn after wet-blocking and drying.

Bears Mitts are now done, and blocked and ready to wear. In keeping here the weather has turned from its southern blast of ice and chill right off the polar cap to a balmy 19ºC (66ºF) good for the school fair, but not mitten weather. Still Bear is happy.

And I'm happy, hand spun, Wenslydale x Cotsworld in a beautiful silky fuzzy pale warm grey ... with that soft black lining. The Vikkel braid is subtle, and a nice touch. I'm going to remember that one and use it again. Click on the top Bear paw/mitten image to see a clearer view of the Vikkel braid, its very cool and looks like a knitted band around the wrist - but it is not, it is knit from cuff to tip in one go.

Two years ago I was a helper selling cakes on the cake stall at the cub's school fair (they hold the fair bi-annually). This year the fair clashed with the ID Design events - so I volun-told Bear to replace me. Truth is, Bear likes to eat, likes to eat sweet things and the idea of manning (bearing?) a cake stand wasn't a hard sell. Long story short, Bear felt that to truly man the stall required him to provide at least some of the baking for the stall. Now Bear is a cook - not a baker, but he took his cake-stall responsibility very seriously and made fudgey chocolate slice, and muesli slice. We ate a few crumbs as he packaged it up for sale - very very nice.

Not to be outdone, Poppy and I selected ten of her handmade Olive and Rice Bran Oil strawberry soaps. These were the ones with strawberry essence and a packet of strawberry jelly crystals stirred thru to give spots of deeper pink.

And the shows, well they were good, lots of graduate students in both, and on Saturday fellow lecturers as well. The 'official' sites are not showing any images yet, but highlights of the Friday show are, here. Let me know what you think?

so take care,
knit something you want to knit and its ok to follow the pattern (that is what they are for)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

One project goes fast

when you just knit the one thing instead of jumping from project to project. I'm trying to sort the WIP basket, get some order into what I'm knitting, and limit what I'm starting. That means today there is just the one project I've been working on, Bears Vikkel braid mitten. At times this mitten has been for me, and at times it has been for Bear. Now it is near completion, it is for Bear, and since I've told him it is his - well I guess these will stay his. I've frogged the sock that was too big, and all the yarn is now tidy in a little center pull ball again, books arrived, and a second installment of Vintage Purls sock club is testing my resolve to knit Toby the next sock.

But returning to talk about my mittens, the two outer mittens are done, cuff to finger tip, grafted together, with the thumb all knit and finished. I've got one more lining to knit, and then I'm all done, ready to block. Right now one is thicker, looks bigger and a slightly darker look than the other. There is a reason for that

I've lined one of the pair with a soft black yarn, something unnamed from my stash. It is a yarn I dyed using food dye last year, for use in my twinned mittens. I think the yarn originated from a mystery cone at the Milton Mill, but I'm not sure.I don't remember - I'm sure you all have yarn like that in your stashes don't you? The yarn is now dense black, and is about fingering weight. Adding the lining has added a bit of body and thickness to the mittens, and padded it out, the one here on the right is lined, the thinner looking one on left is about to be lined.

I simply picked up the same number of stitches inside the mitten using the same sized needles, with the mitten inside out, and knit a second mitten. I did add a few more stitches to the gusset increases, and worked a few more rounds - as the lining gauge worked up finer than the mitten gauge.

In the past I've knit lined mittens for Toby, and have secured the mitten lining into the tips of the finer and thumb sections. This time I've left the lining loose so the mitten lining can be pulled out to speed up drying time. I think Bear is old enough to poke the lining back into the mitten without twisting it don't you?

I've also got some new and some old books to distract me, Favorite Mittens by Robin Hansen arrived, it is a compilation of the best from Fox & Geese & Fences, and Flying Geese and Partridge Feet. Now I have my own I don't need to covert or steal Kelly's. And I've been swoping for knitting books. Swoping is a no cash variation on shopping, where you swop not shop. I've swopped two skeins of Vintage Purls sock yarn for two books I wanted using the Book destash and ISO library forum on Ravelry. One was a skein that had not yet made it into my stash drawer or Rav list, the other was one I bought just to send on her request. The books I swopped for are two Cat Bordhi ones, I think of them as the Mobius books, but they are more rightly known as A Treasury of Magical Knitting, and a Second Treasury of Magical Knitting. Both are in lovely condition. One more book arrived in my mail box since the last post - Quilting: The Fabric of Every Day Life, by Marybeth C Stalp. Ok its not a knitting book, but it is a stashing book, for it examines the traditions and customs of quilters and their stashing habits. I thought it would be an interesting read.

Unfortunately I'm still waiting for 4 books that were sent from England, vintage books also organized as a swop on Ravelry, that were sent surface mail on the 1st of December and are still not here. I feel helpless and most days come home hoping that today they will be here. The sender has initiated the lost process, and as the recipient I have nothing to do, nothing. Those were books I was hoping to use in the knitting paper I've had accepted ... so I might have to beg, borrow or otherwise obtain access to local copies ...

and yes, Vintage Purls second sock club installment arrived, nearly a week ago, or longer, - Yum. This is the yarn, I've not really done it justice in this photo. The sock is a deep rich purple - but as with all of M's yarns - there are many other colours and shades hiding in there as well. The sock is Theodora, and it has been described as 'sexy' by at least one sock club recipient. I should knit Toby the next socks, he has none that fit, no wool socks and no hand knit socks, and winter looms .... but this yarn is yummy, and the sock is clever and pretty and yes ... sexy. And no - I'm not knitting it for Toby, he is far to young to make such a sexy sock for. And did you notice the teeny tiny little sock kit next to the skein? A mini key ring sock, toe up of course.

so .. of to pack up the second shipment of swop yarn and a little something extra ...

Saturday, March 07, 2009


Today, the wash cloth is finished, and well - wash cloth, what can one say, except the Signature needles were beautiful to use, the cotton was soft and silky* and the pattern** good (read - will knit again I'd give it 5 stars/needles?). As well as the finished wash cloth, I've made a start on a 2nd mitten to make up the pair of the Vikkel braid mitten(no photo today sorry), my dad visited with kilos of plums so we made plum sauce, I tried this 'carding sideways' thing, and oh, I made a Me-shirt.
A Me-shirt you ask, what is a Me-shirt?
Yes a Me-shirt, an item made from a new or old, bought or reclaimed/recycled tee shirt that captures and communicates something about oneself. Our first year students, well their first project this year is a Me-shirt, we team teach across 110 students, so there are 5 of us lecturers involved with that class. The students 'present' their Me-shirts next Tuesday, and we thought we would join in .. you know, that would mean we would make our own Me-Shirt. Opps, next Tuesday looms, so I made me a Me-shirt, it took a day, used the body of 4 opp shop (charity shop) tees, and is knitted.

Since I'm a knitter,I thought my Me-shirt should reflect that, well I'm also a mum, and a wife and friend, silly, not so good at grammar and spelling, and lots of other things - but Knitter, well that is easier to capture than some of those other things. I shopped Friday for used tee shirts, and got 7 for $8, not bad. At home Toby made off with a deep purple near new Cadbury Chocolate World one, and the Tintin one, Poppy with a little pink one with cartoon dolphins swimming across the chest - leaving me with 4 white and one pink tee. I cut the body's of the tees into strips about 6-8mm wide, as a spiral, so with as few joins as possible. One tee was knit 'in the round' and that cut the easiest, as it had no side seams. If you try this for a project - well look for tees knit in the round.

Then I knit a shrug, based heavily on the GFS by Wendy Bernard, except I added raglan shaping as I did to the last one I knit for Poppy, oh and its short sleeved. I knit this from 4 medium/small tees, on 12mm needles. I would have liked to use larger needles, but I didn't have any that size I could knit the sleeves and band in the round. Now despite the fact I'd usually not knit with yarn this size, on needles this size, my knitting is captured in this, I've ribbed the sleeve cuffs, and added a ribbing band to hem the body/neck opening. I cast off in ribbing, what I didn't do was weave in ends ... finding that a good old reef knot was more secure. The ends kept slipping out. I started cutting the tee's after breakfast, and by 3pm was done, all finished and wearing the Me-shirt.

Bread, nearly two weeks ago Neurula sent around a recipe for no-knead bread recipe based on a famous Cooks Illustrated one. The dough was easy to make, quick to clean up after, tasted fantastic, and had a wonderful thick flaky crust, thanks in part to the long (12 hour +) rising time, and a small amount of beer. We are talking small amount - 1/4 cup or so, which meant that there was pretty much a whole opened bottle of beer to deal with whenever I made it. Being not one to down beer for breakfast (Bubbles on special occasions yes, beer not so much), I went looking for a no-beer version and found this. No knead bread, so easy a four year old can make it, and no beer. Today was the first loaf by the new found recipe. Now I'll admit its less of a ciabatta than the beer version, both are super crusty - but this is more of a cottage rustic loaf. Yum! Both are yum, but now I don't have to be in the mood for beer to bake this sort of bread. I'm only going to change one thing - I'm not using a tea towel, no matter how well floured, 'cause I floured mine well, and still I had sticky dough to clean off it. Next time I'm just oiling the bowl, like I do when I make other breads.

And Plum sauce, yes when I woke up today I didn't know I was going to make plum sauce .. but then I was nearly tripping over the kilos of plums in the laundry left by my Dad, and in today's newspaper a recipe for Plum sauce. We put two and two together, and there were Toby and I making a shopping list (cayenne pepper and malt vinegar were all we were missing), and making plum sauce. The house smells spicy and vinegar sweet, and warm, and just like I imagine harvest time the world over.

After a day of knitting something I'd usually not knit, well ... I seemed to be a little 'off knitting today', so I weighed out some more Perendale, Alpaca Cria, and Angora, and tried sideways carding. Last month the Yarn Harlot caused much debate and exploration in the spinning world by reporting how she saw Judith MacKenzie McCuin carding fiber sideways into the carder. Today nearly one month latter, I tried it, I think it blends better, I imagine it would card washed fleece better, much better. After two passes thru the carder my batt carded sideways might have been a little better blended than the batts I have sent twice thru the carder with the ends straight on. It did seem to pull the fiber in better and transfer it to the large drum better - but when you can only card one batt at a time, well, it all becomes subjective.

so that is pretty much me, I'm off to have a nice cup of coffee, and perhaps fold some washing, and put away the plum sauce, and then ... well I might even knit ... something on 3.25mm needles (not 12mm). Something more me.

One last thing, a new video showing how I knit a two stitch I-cord bind off. I-cord bind off is a neat, flexible and fairly painless way to finish an edge, I like it on moss or 2.2 rib, but it tends to roll on plain stocking stitch.

na Stella

* Cleckheaton natural cotton 4 ply, 50g 145m
** Eloomanator's Diagonal Dish Cloth, sorry its still a Rav link 'cause I still can't find it on her site.