Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Its that time of the year again ... 45 days to go

World Wide Knit in Public Day
June 13, 2009

Dunedin, New Zealand

Hosted by: Take Back the Knit & Dunedin Creative Fibre

Where: Wall Street Mall, George Street
When: 2:00pm

I'd love to see you there, with or without your knitting, its a friendly bunch ... a little obsessed about fiber things - but hey, what normal person isn't?
We'll congregate in the ground floor seating area of the mall, this is easy to find if you come in the main entrance off George Street.
We have permission, the nearby cafe will be open, and we plan to post posters and some advts as reminders.

Please bring:
Pointy sticks and yarn like stuff
(or crochet or other fibre arts, as long as you are safe in public).

The backup plan is:
There is no backup plan, the location is indoors, warm and well serviced.

Note : This KIP is not knitting exclusive
Ok - so its still a while away, 45 days, but put it in your diary, out of towners --- plan your driving time, we would love to catch up, or set to and host your very own local WWKIP near you.
The World Wide Knit in Public site has a list (growing daily) of WWKIP's all over the world, all the info you need to organise and host a KIP, and posters.

And the more astute of you will notice that with KIP'ing* as the main topic of this post ... I have neatly avoided posting any of my own knitting progress. Its dark by 5pm now, my bus gets in at 5:30pm, winter looms, dusk comes early and fast, and I plumb forgot to photograph my knitting in daylight. I'll have more knitting next time.

na Stella

* Knitting in Public or Knit in Public

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Phew ... back, and its all over ... finally,

Really, I do feel like that, tired and exhausted and weary ... all three at once, but also happy and pleased with the way things have gone. You will have to excuse me for being absent from blog-land for nearly 2 weeks ... there just wasn't time. Now I'm home, the Margaret Stove Lace workshop has been attended, the festival festivities are done, and the conference has opened, run and closed ... all done and over.

During all that I did knit, so there are finished projects, and I spun a little, and I meet Ravelry knitters ... look. This was a mere 14 of what must have been far more at the festival, I can not even begin to remember all their onscreen names as well as their 'real names' ..., and I won't embarrass myself by naming some and not others, and I'm know some were not able to be there because they were manning their stalls ... at least another 10 or 20 were working or lurking at the festival.

I've never been to one of the Creative Fiber festivals before .. and I enjoyed it, the mornings were filled with talks and various educational demonstrations, while the afternoons were for visiting the numerous displays of fiber art and craft ... and shopping. The trade hall was impressive, to walk in and be greeted with a view like this ... and to know this was but one of 4 isles of stalls. Wow! Fiber, more fiber, yarn, tools...

Morag (Vintage Purls) and her team of expert knitters and crafters seemed to score a prime location mid-center of the end of the hall. She had C and K on deck showing, telling, selling and modeling the varied uses of KnitP needles. Luckily there was seating right opposite .. which seemed to be a resting space for many knitters and crafters. Her stall was much less full at the end of the show. The down side was none of them seemed to get much beyond the hall and to see the other activities .. but I can let on at least 2 brand new baby Majacraft Gems went home (Morags stall was right opposite Majacrafts stall). I'm told A cradled her new wheel in its bag all the way home.

Yes there was some stash additions, modest ones, here, this all started before the festival at Margaret Stoves workshop in Timaru. I fell in love with her Artisan Yarn so managed a small skein (20g 300m), and was introduced to Italian Centolavaggi, a merino superwash laceweight yarn. With some of my fiber money spent before I hit the festival I was careful ... but still managed to find some economical treats. The Scottish Donaval Silk (top left) was not at the festival - it a prize shared by S, yarn she won for her owls and waiting for me once I was home. Clock wise from the top left, there is 200g of Suri Alpaca, 200g of Rosebank double gilled naturally coloured merino. The middle row has 2 skeins of Vintage Purl Sock yarn (Pink and navy semi solid), a skein of Centolavaggi (100g 1400m), and a plaited 100g cake of VP's combed perindale. Last line has the Artisan Merino Laceweight, a Majacraft turkish spindle and 20g of 50:50 silk and superfine merino from Inspire Fibers.

I even managed to spin while away, this is some of the twice gilled merino, spun fine. I've never knitted any of my spindle spinning, never spun enough to knit up - so that is a current goal. I also mastered the turkish spindle, or at least am at the beginnings of mastering the turkish spindle .. for I did have return to the shop for more lessons on how to create the center pull ball (there is no instruction leaflet in the bag).

I struggled with the selection of my travel knitting, but settled on finishing socks, new socks, and mittens. I did finish Garnet, a lovely deep red cabled sock ... far easier to knit than expected. One of those clever patterns which once set up has an order to it that makes the knitting straightforward. Bear admired these .. so they are his, Morag's Mr K also admired hers as she knit them, so they seem to be masculine socks - at least in this colourway.

I also managed to finish First Cubs Mitts,

and work a second pair for Second Cub. These are Striped Maine Mitts from Robin Hansen's Favorite Mittens and I like them. The pattern has the feeling of being polished over time, the thumb gusset grows 5 stitches from 2, to keep the stripes in line, and similar tight design work follows to keep the other increases and then the decreases working neatly with the stripes. I can pretty much knit a mitt sans thumbs in one night - making these a 3 night project. I used the same blue in both cubs mitts, and love the way this shade works with both black and white.

There was much less joy with Bears Mitts, this is iteration number 3 or 4 (I forget how many frogs visited on my trip). Now the pattern calls for 3.5 mm needles, and DK weight, with a gauge of 7sts. I'm using the yarn I make Owls in and have dyed the last two skeins pale and dark blue. I can't get gauge .. or knit easily on those needles, so I switched to larger ones and knit a smaller size ... but its huge. Now Bears have sizable paws ... but this is more like an oven mitt. Question is do I frog .. or knit a single oven mitt? They are thick enough. Come to think of it, Bear admired the mitts in the book ... but he has mitts recently knitted that he has not even worn yet, we are not into full winter yet, only mid autumn so its still tame weather. Perhaps I'm not meant to knit these.

With my Garnet socks (well Bears) done, I started a new sock, Estonian socks from Nancy Bush's Folk Socks. This sock has adorable colourwork at the cuff ... but I knew I couldn't manage a chart like that while travelling so have knit them toe up. I copied out the chart ... but forgot the key for the chart, so my socks are 'inspired by' the NB pattern. You see .. without the key I had to make up what happened at the chain twisted cable ... and returning home I find what I've knit is not what was in the pattern ... still it works for me. I've knit sock one up to where the colour work cuff begins, and am increasing for the gusset of sock two ... My plan is to work the colour work cuffs one after the other on slighlty larger needles. I also worked a fake-toe seam, shamelessly incorporating the horizontal braid we practiced at Margaret Stoves workshop, its very much like the Vikkel braid I used on Bears last mittens. I liked the way the horizontal stitch gives a base to the knit'n'purl panels, otherwise they would grow out of plain stocking stitch and that always feels like a non-design decision, opting out for lack of a better idea or solution.

Lastely there was mail when I returned home, Cookie A'Sock Innovation arrived which was nice. A lot of very pretty socks and I'm curious to see which be the most popular most quickly ( Rick or Bex?). Am I alone in feeling a little disappointed in it? The socks are lovely and her explanation of how to fit lace to a sock clear ... but I'm not sure its well named. Perhaps I'm tired and jaded after the MS Lace workshop - where we practiced intricacies of shaping lace .. and modifying lace work to fit corners and panels. Perhaps I'm a fan of Toe Up (TU) - and she dismisses socks by saying Cuff Down (CD) makes it easy to divide the pattern into the instep and heel/foot. If you plan a sock ... surely its just as easy both ways? Maybe I'm just jadded and can't see its glory?
I also had waiting a second hand copy of Designing Knitwear by Deborah Newton - Wow, if you can see past the clear 80's styling this is a great book. I love her methodology, little swatches are knit that sample garment construction elements ... and look really really good. The design work is of the 'colouring in' or 'texturing' standard shapes, and working with stitch and colour and proportion, rather than innovative shaping, but it has much value. I highly recommend this one, which was recommended to me by Susanne. Lastly I got a little box of goodies from Suzanne .. a Namaste Buddy Case (wow!), and generously shared her Owls loot with me from having a winning entry in Kates Owls competition, and so the yarn as photographed above, with Owl stickers, and some of the nicest markers I've seen. There may have been one or two other little goodies I'm one spoilt knitter this month. I sent her one of the Little Radiator Tees ... (I think Little Radiator is building her website right now as the full range isn't loaded - but you can download the pdf here).

so that is me .. up to date and back on track. Writing this has been good - I'm going to abandon and frog the oven mitt sized paws for Bear (he needs them not this winter), and relax back into home and routine, and think of all the friends I meet while away.
na Stella

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Faster than I thought,

very much faster, but good, in a fast way. Today there are three projects on the go .. so three reports. And I'm packing and planning for a week of fiber fun ... well, 6 days. I leave Monday with 3 other knitters for a road trip swinging past a fiber shop, to Christchurch and a lace knitting workshop with Margaret Stove. The workshop is on Tuesday and Wednesday, so Thursday we drive to Timaru, swing past a fiber farm to the Creative Fiber Festival. Bear is planning to park the cubs with Grandad, and meet me there .. for you see Timaru has a camera repair guy, who specialised in vintage gear. Monday thru Sunday, knitting and fiber ... does all this sound like geek knitter heaven? It must be close.

Except, there is the perennial knitters dilemma.... which projects to pack, what to take, do I start something new, or do I take things with charts? I've anguished, I've sorted, I've selected and returned and selected and returned ... and thrust it all back in the work basket, and I've been doing that for a few weeks now without much progress. First I thought socks, I'll finish my Garnet socks and take another pair ... but which pair? I wondered if Signe was to tiny to work in a car, in a hotel, in a lunch break, in a bar .... and realized Signe needs to stay here, Signe has a detailed chart with a small grid. So not Signe ... but if not Signe, then what. I've been pulling random books from my knitting library and scanning - and knowing that I didn't want to buy more yarn just to start a project ... so anything new had to use yarn from stash.

Bingo! Main Mittens, for Toby, And I had a few odd balls of DK weight yarn in stash just waiting ... So I cast on, this morning. Here it is Easter Friday, so not a work day ... yet I woke at a 'going' to work hour. So I luxuriated in spending my early morning winding a center pull ball of yarn on the nostepinne and knitting.

As you can see these mittens are quick, very quick. I like knitting these, they have an order, a sense of planning to them. Once set up the knitting and the shaping falls into place. I suspect several generations of knitting a pattern as a family tradition will do that, polish the pattern shaping until it is 'just right'. Maine Mittens can be found in Favorite Mittens, by Robin Hansen, a reworking of her earlier mitten books. I love just about every mitten in this book, and I love her suggestion to try a few, pick a favorite and make many, for family and friends, teach people how to make your favorite and create a family mitten tradition. become known for a special mitten you make your own.

When I wrote about a pattern being 'polished' I was meaning little details like this, where the gusset grows out of a 2x2 colour work rib - but the it is done so cleverly growing 5 stitches out of the two and using decreases to keep the colour work true. As you can see I spent the day knitting, I knit while the hot cross buns rose, I knit while the cubs played at the park and I chatted to other parents ... I knit ... much of the day away. Which is a problem ... because this was to be my take-on-the-read-not-a-sock project. Oh well ... I have some more of the blue, and white ... and the pattern includes a poppy size, and these are an easy on-the-road project.

But I promised 3 projects, my socks grow, I've done one, and am now knitting the second Garnet. Like any sock its easier the second time thru ... the numbers are crunched, and the sizes checked .. so its just knitting, and cabling, and again its a pattern that looks complex but once set up, its pretty easy to read what to do on each round.

And the last project? Signe Mitten, although she is not coming with me on this trip, I am making progress. I've worked the gusset increases and am working the decreases, complete with the colour work pattern. I like the way the swirls on the back of the hand are growing ... really is a case of just one more row to see how it changes/grows.

The palm is working up pretty as well,the gusset decreases are half gone. I have to think more when knitting this one ... but its fun.

So all three projects are currently stored neatly in little project bags ... which is nice. I like scooping my hand over the edge of the sofa and picking up the bag with the project I want in it. I like being able to grab a bag on the way out the door to the park, and know its all there neat and tidy ready to go(knit).

and I guess I have to say it out loud, blogging will be intermittent at best and more likely non existent for a week or so ... maybe two weeks. I have no computer access while away, and wne I return to my role on the organizing committee of a conference. I suspect I won't have time, for much knitting let alone blogging till the conference is over. So I won't make any promises about blogging ... but I will report once I have time to myself.

take care, enjoy the festival and say hello if you are there, I'll be hanging with the gals at the Vintage Purls table .. when I'm not enjoying festival wares.
na Stella

Saturday, April 04, 2009

A few small repairs

Today there is eating, knitting and wheel repairs. Our garden is producing the last autumn flush, Easter is around the corner, I've been having fun knitting sock and mitts, and my Wing wheel got a wobble so underwent a minor repair. We had another fantastic 'late summer weekend, warm, calm, and sunny', odd really cause we are southern and coastal and cool breezes are more common than any other sort, besides its Autumn not summer. The garden is looking scrappy, but there are still treasures to be had. The late summer strawberry's seem to have more flavor than the earlier fruits, I guess they grow slower and develop better. Treats like this disappear outside, never making it inside.

And the first of the Easter baking, sans crosses. Some years I make crosses, sometimes I cut them, some times I don't bother. This time no crosses, and they tasted just fine. A batch of 48 buns (from 4 cups of flour) made yesterday, today there about a dozen left. Yum, this years recipe courtesy of M ... thanks.

And yes there was knitting, this is Signe, which is growing. I'm a little bit further than this shows ... and now have put in waste yarn for the thumb gusset.

I like the gusset on this mitten, now I understand how it is knit. For some reason I had a mind-block, and was reading and interpreting the instructions totally wrong .. I could not reconcile the written instructions with the chart, after a quick email chat with the designer ... I now understand. I've marked on the chart the vertical line the gusset increases are worked on and now its all making sense.

Garnet grows as well, as it should. I admit to having knit 1.5 socks, but there is only one nearly complete sock to show for it. The heel has been completely reknit .. slimmer - and fitting my heel better.

I retained the original heel shaping, a cute little arrowhead of decreases, part of me wanted to run a line of 2 slipped stitches up the back - just to be able to make these turn into the back leg decoration .. but I restrained myself.

And wheel troubles, after spinning last Monday, Bear meet me outside, to help heft my Wing wheel inside (he is sweet like that - opens car doors as well). Well Bear noticed the back upright was wobbly, a result of being 30+ years old and the glue giving way. Given the wing is my out-and-about wheel, and needs to handle being transported to and from and in the car .. well running repairs were required. So I disassembled her ... took off all the loose bits.

Then we unscrewed the fixed bits, and knocked the wobbly bit out, Bear scrapped and cleaned and sanded, before we glued the rear upright back in place and left it overnight to set.

like so ...

And a mere 24 hours latter, or less, the Wing is back in the family room, ready to spin on. I know that inanimate objects don't feel emotion -- but do you think it was out of sorts with the new wheel arriving - ?

...and lastly, Bear is turning 5? this Wednesday ... and we gave him his birthday gift early. W knew he needed off-work time to play with it and giving it wednesay, a work day, would be mean. So what was it, a second hand OM4 camera and assorted lenses, sourced from a friend via 3 places ... we think we did well. Way back when Bear and I first meet, he lusted after one of these ... but we just couldn't afford one, now with digital ruling, and the price of film cameras rocketing downwards .. his dream can come true. Bear spend most of Saturday evening, and a lot of Sunday fondling the bits ... I guess it is his version of yarn. We think the original owner was a scientist, there are 3 macro lenses, including a 50mm macro, a bellows extension kit, a macro ring flash ... and lots more. The cubs loved looking and asking questions, Bear just loved playing.

take care
na stella