Saturday, February 26, 2011

Just going around and around

I'm still here, and thank you to all who left comments or other messages to ask if every one was OK. As far as we know, our relatives and friends are safe and have all survived ... but that news comes amidst the sad news that many many are hurt and worse. At the supermarket checkout I'm often behind or in front of a trolley filled with water bottles, and crackers, I don't know if people are stocking up or shipping supplies north. The isle that is usually stocked from one end to the other with bread ... is bare. Every bread rack has a printed paper sign ... that the Christchurch quake has interrupted supplies. There are other little reminders, Bread flour is sold out, and almost every point of sale has a sign that you can add to the sale an amount for a donation to the Quake fund. Many many retailers are matching shoppers donations dollar for dollar, and outside every supermarket and bank there are collectors on street corners with red buckets collecting. It all happened so quickly that there are none of the usual fund raising merchandise, badges and stickers proclaiming you support the cause - but this time it isn't about showing off ones generosity, its about just helping. We are fine, we have enough, enough being that we want for nothing, we always kept a fairly well stocked larder, had a garden and have spares of most dry goods, and have fruit, bread, and other produce in the freezer, so I've been glad to give what I can where I can. The newish TV channels are still providing news updates every hour, all the structural engineers from Bears work have been loaned to the Christchurch office to help determine which buildings are safe, and what to do with those that are not. They apparently work in teams of three, a Structural engineer, a Social worker and a Earthquake commission agent. Bear specialty is civil, not structural .. so we get to have him around. The cubs school has openly offered to include any Christchurch 'refugee children' in its classes for however long they need, and my work has made a similar offer to the match for our school in Christchurch. Many parents have arranged for their children to stay with relatives in other centers while they clean up.

In the meanwhile I'm knitting and there is a finished project and progress. The finished project I really can't share, more than this .. its a surprise, and group project and the time is not right yet. Soon all can be revealed but for now all I can say is that the now finished work returned to my house for blocking. It is now blocked, and flat and very very nice, in fact so nice it would be nearly enough to temp me to ..... so I might get given one myself from this group.
The finished item will be off to the last person in the chain Monday .... and then it is just a question of waiting until the right time, before I can reveal more.

The only other project getting needle time right now is the lace band around the Shetland blanket. Because I have already knit (and frogged) this section I feel obliged to work on this until it is up to the point before I frogged, but obligated in a good way. There are several good things that happen when one re-knits a pattern, the little things that occur to include but for which it is often too late ... get to be incorporated the second time around. This time I'm knitting the lace as garter, not stocking stitch, the green rows help remind me to purl. And I took the time to chart out the corner increases. This gave me space to play and add in a few lace repeats. When I knit this the first time the corner ended up very solid .. adding in lace motifs to match that in the band will just lighten it a little.

Row 16 of 26, 10 more rounds to go, and there will be 174 stitches per side when I'm done ........ this may take a while. I suspect the colourwork Tam will call out to me before too much time has passed.

Take care ...
na Stella

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Oh... ... .. .. . .

I don't have the right words, yesterday I was at work, teaching and there was an earthquake. On the fourth floor we felt it, the curtains swayed, computer chairs moved, we waited a while and then when the shaking continued for what seemed like ages, we left the building. We were not alone, the entire building emptied ... and after a while, when it was calm we returned to class. Latter there was a smaller aftershock, we all froze again but this time it was shorter and milder. Class finished and as staff and students mingled and got on with socializing and networking, and checked news .. I learned of the Christchurch quake. I taught the second stream of students that afternoon, some one set up a tv on the second floor and students who wanted to catch the news went and watched. It was all very sobering. Very early on the images and reports showed significant buildings downed, and people hurt. Three of my students, first years, away from home and in their first week of study decided to share a ride 'home' to Christchurch, I didn't want to stop them, how could I?

All afternoon the updates came, via emails, and links to news sites, and conversations with people who had news. My class finished at 5:30 and I went home, where we had a message from relatives that my brother and his wife were ok, latter I had a text from them - they were safe, had no power and water but were home, and together. Bear has relatives in Christchurch, we have not heard about them, a half sister and an aunt. Both have kin closer than us, family nearer .. we we are waiting and trusting ... it is all we can do. Today I was to have lunch with a friend from primary school, she was visiting from Christchurch with her two girls. Yesterday afternoon she cut short her trip and headed home, unable to make contact with her husband - I've not heard from her, she will be busy, this is their third big quake in six month, and I know she is tired and jumpy about quakes.

Today things were quiet, the news is at once both sad and filled with hope, there are hundreds of skilled people helping, the volunteers and offers of assistance are incredible. Governments from neighboring and more distant countries have sent and are sending planes and people, their help will be invaluable.

Last night I sat I sat, and knit, not a lot, I really didn't have the mind for it, just a little, and I thought that it was just as well the stitch repeat is only 12 stitches. I was distracted enough that remembering 12 stitches at a time was about all I was up for.

take care ... there are lots of sites with more information, and places where one can offer help, I won't link, you can all google.

na Stella

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Two Hundred and Fifty Six stitches on each of four sides

results in a mighty long round of lace. I have avoided calculating exactly how many stitches a round has, a sort of knitterly avoidance, but I do realise that is why on an average nights knitting I will only 'work-around' the blanket four or five times. So today, there is more of the blankets slow progress, a simple low tech solution to a mistake that I just kept making, a finished project(yay!), and even more pens. Those things are absolutely as addictive as stashing fibre and yarn and patterns and books.

There are some projects that are easy and difficult at the same time, for different reasons. This blanket should be fairly easy, and straightforward, the center is garter, the next band is garter, and this band is in a simple 12 stitch lace repeat. All of that is perfectly reasonable to expect to be able to knit without to much in the way of stress or problems. So far I have reknit several sections of this blanket, in the past few days I have reknit the first few rounds of the darker grey band, again and again. For some reason I could not work 12 repeats of the 12 stitch lace repeat into 148 stitches. Simply I would get distracted and put the yarn over in the wrong place, or the decreases in the wrong place ... and I never found out until I was a stitch or seven out at the end. I tried stitch markers, but to place them on meant I had to work a round and slip each into place (I didn't have 48 stitch markers handy that could be clipped on). Eventually I sat and thought, there had to be a quicker and more adjustable way to mark the 12 stitch repeats without having to work a round. I threaded up a needle with a few meters of white yarn, and passed the needle back and forwards between every 12th stitch - it worked. I could easily pull out the yarn if I got to the end and was out by a stitch or two ... and work out which stitches on the previous round were sticking together, and looking like a single stitch.

That little 12 stitch guide was enough to get me started, I was away. Last time I knit this lace band it was in dark blue, and I am liking the more subtle transition from the mid grey to the dark grey. This time I am also remembering to knit the lace as garter stitch - last time I knit every round knit .. and the lace looked good, but different to what was intended. Things are looking good so far ..... fingers (and needles crossed).

The finished project was a wee doily, a lace linen doily that I turned into a ballet bun cover. I try to be a conscientious ballet mum, and send smallest cub along with her hair up ballet style. But those shear hair nets sold to keep buns tidy are frail, and easily torn and never to be found when one needs one. Her hair is so wispy it needs something to contain it. I wanted to make a Lacey bun-cover, and a doily seemed a good pattern. This tuned out larger than I intended, but I was able to thread elastic around one of the middle rounds of eyelet holes, and so create a ruffle (or fluffle as smallest bear calls it) beyond the bun cover.

And a photo being worn, pretty, she describes it as a little hat .. and I'd have to say her teddy bear has been spotted wearing it. An odd look really, a sort of Victorian maids lace cap in pink on a worn much loved teddy bear. I've been having thoughts about it as well. I might have to make one as a rosette to wear, what about double layered in several shades of yarn?

And pens, because a blog post without pens would be really odd now, somehwere along the line I acquired the orange one to the right in this image. I loved the orange one, and remembered Andy's Pens, where he sold me the (in order from right to left), Bright Yellow, Lime Green, Tweed, and Marshmallow versions. These arrived yesterday, and I'm kicking myself for not ordering the Jelly Pink, its all about the name really isn't it? And yes you are right, I don't need so many pens at once, but I think do I need to see them in a display on my desk, in a clear glass vase, to cheer me up. There really is something nice about using nice tools and equipment, and when the nice tools are simple inexpensive pens like this - I feel like I can indulge. I even ordered a turquoise refill from the same place (you didn't need to know that some refills come in Magenta, Turquoise and Purple, as well as boring old blue, blue-black and black did you?).

so I'm off to work my way around several hundred stitches, and stir the celery-bacon & barley soup, and generally settle down for a quiet Sunday evening.

take care

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Not much to show ...

I've been knitting round and round in grey, and working on a chart for my colour-work tam. I did finish spinning 100g of dyed Perendale. Our students arrived back this week, and today all the staff teaching in Fashion gave a mini Pecha Kucha, 10 slides each lecturer and 20 seconds to talk each about each slide. I made sure most of mine were about knitting. Then all our fashion students from all years of the programs are given a three day Project runway style team project. Three times I was asked if I 'happen to have any knitting needles' ? Score!

When I knit things using other peoples patterns - the process is straightforward. I select a pattern, and some yarn, think about colours and go for it. Oh - with me there are usually little changes where I make it differently, or big changes ... but the process is quick. When I knit things that I 'design' - the process is a whole lot different. First there is the research, the stage where I seem to spend a lot of time looking and recording ideas and options and possible directions, and think about all that I find. Then the process transitions to one of planning, and experimentation, and testing, and deciding .. and all that takes time. Since my last post I have been looking at motifs that could be used in my Tam, I've been looking at Tams, and hats and colour work, I've been looking at all sorts of colour combinations and what sorts of arrangements of colours look best to me - and I've been thinking about why they look best. The Lecturer in me asks the question : "What makes it work?". So there has been a lot of dealing with knitting, but really only a few rounds knit. But I'm ready to start, I think I have a design that will work with the colours I have and look good ... only time and knitting will tell. I felt like a student this time, as the knitters study group meets on Saturday ... for the second workshop on knitting a Tam, and I had only completed my ribbing.

Which leaves only the spinning, this once was a hand dyed roving of perindale ... now it is a 100g of singles ready to ply. The next stage is to wind this into a center pull ball, after it has sat for a few days to relax. My plan is to ply from both ends of the centre pull ball so I get a 2ply yarn, and after that I'm not so sure .....I really should be knitting what I spin, as I do enjoy knitting with handspun.

Oh and if you are looking for a good read, check out Vanda Symons latest book, Bound, it has only been out just over a week and is already at the top of the New Zealand Adult Fiction bestseller list! I can't tell you how it ends .. 'cause I've not finished it yet.

so .. perhaps I will have more to report next post?
Until then, happy knitting
na Stella

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Knit, frog, knit, tink, knit, frog, knit, frog some more ...

That, my online friends is an accurate report of the weeks knitting. True to the blogs name there has indeed been far more frogging than knitting this week, and yet oddly I felt confident to start a new lace project ... and there was a new Vintage Purls Sock yarn club kit. The important part of that sentence is yarn, as in the club kits are no longer all about sock patterns but have extended excitingly into patterns that can be knit with sock yarn but are not socks. I understand there will be at least one sock pattern .. for the die hard sock knitters in her fan base.

So, today, the frog report, remember when a frog report was a fairly frequent part of every post, and the knit report, the new project introduction, and the planning of the Fair Isle Tam.

Frogging, and sometimes Tinking, was the major knit activity this week. Following last weeks post I did completely frog the blue lace band of the Sheltland yarn blanket, that was the easy task. I frogged straight onto a nostepinne, seemed a sensible move as I planned to knit it straight back up again.

Post frogging, the stitches sat waiting for me to slide them back onto the needle. I do like this shetland yarn, slightly sticky so it behaves it self, no stitches disappearing into themselves and running away.

But it was not so simple, I some how snagged one of the corners and could not drop down a few stitches and repair the damage. This was the garter stitch section where I had knit with two yarns to avoid purling, and the corner was where the two yarns were twisted together. Dropping down and picking up and understanding how the yarns worked up the corner, interlaced with each other and then worked away from the corner, well, that was apparently beyond me.

The ten or twelve rows I tried to drop stitches down and knit back up got increasingly more muddily and less like the other corners, the more times I tried, the more of a mess I made, so I frogged back a few more rows, until the corner was neat and started to finish the grey section again. Some times there is nothing else that will work but work it properly.

All that happened before Thursday, so when Thursday night came around, knit night I was at a loss about what to take to knit. I had no made much progress on a chart for my Fair Isle Tam, and I didn't want to risk mucking up the blanket any more. So I did what any sane knitter would do, 15 minutes before being due at knit night ... I opened Ravelry and hunted down a pattern. I wanted to knit a quick lace cover that smallest bear could use to tidy up her ballet bun. I found a Lace Luncheon Mat and printed it and grabbed pink linen and needles as I ran out the door. Appart from the fact it is going to be twice the size I need ... it is a good choice. Now I just need to frog it and knit it on much smaller needles ......

The tam is a knitters study project, and the second and last class is next weekend. That sort of put a little bit of urgency into sorting a chart. Inspired by Kate Davies and Spilly Jane, I am working towards a cute tam, not really fair isle but pretty and pictorial. I've assembled an assortment of knitting motifs from my knit books, and made a start. For now all I'm sure of is that there will be a couple holding hands .. and possibly a cat, or dog, or fox, or hearts .. or something equally twee. And no, they won't be knit in golden yellow, that is just the colour pencil that came to hand. Once I've planned to layout I will play with colours.

And the recent highlight of the stash was the addition of the first of 3 sock yarn kits from Vintage Purls. As usual a lovely colour and an amazing pattern, I might just use that lace to edge the Shetland yarn shawl. And of course there was chocolate, two kinds, dark my favorite and milk which is a favorite for sharing. Yarn, new pattern and lace, it really doesn't take much to brighten my week.

so .. I hope your week past and ahead has significantly less frogging and tinking than mine, and that some one does something nice for you on Valentines ..... there is already a nice pen here for me (more about that next post), and I've been making heart shaped pita breads for the cubs lunch boxes.

na Stella

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Mmmmm sometimes the plan works and sometimes the plan needs changing ...

But it isn't always clear at the beginning that the plan isn't going to work, otherwise there would be no need to frog. Today I have something that is now finished and went to plan, albeit at times a very slow movement towards the end, but finished all the same, and something that was planned but perhaps could be better. Then there is the pen update, because pen and ink is almost as good at fibre and stash.

Way back in June I started to knit another large garter stitch blanket, a pattern I had knit before (2008/9). The impetus for this blanket was the yarn, a factory shop sale of very thick almost unspun 6 strands of pencil roving yarn, at a price I could not resisit. Well I did resist .. but a fellow knit nighter splurged and then offloaded when she had second thoughts about adding too much to her own stash. That was way back in September 2009, by June 2010 I was ready to take on another garter stitch project of this scale. Technically the blanket was complete in December of 2010 ... but I had a 'wheel' of white yarn to add an i-cord boarder to it. This past week I did just that, and like most projects, once I sat down to knit it ... well it was only 3 nights knitting! By the third night I had only a little to do.

For the this blanket I picked up to attach the i-cord binding thru both loops of the slipped stitchs that edge the blanket, and that has made the edge more reversible than the previous blankets edge. Like the previous blanket this one is huge, and warm and thick, perhaps thicker as it has not been stretched and blocked, and was immediately claimed by one of the cubs, even though we are in summer. While I don't enjoy knitting these (quite frankly it is boring), I love the result and the scale ....

The other project that I was looking to finish soon is the 'replacement' blanket, the one I started in Shetland to replace the one I mislaid on the plane. The original plan was to knit the centre in white, a band in mid grey, a band in blue with lace, and then cast off with a lace boarder in dark grey. In theory it sounded good, in practice even Yo-yo the house cat has reservations about the results, as do I.

I like the two laces I have chosen, but not the order of the colours .. so after this post I'm going to frog the darker grey and blue sections .... and knit them again. That will also give me a chance to change slightly how I knit the lace in the first lace band. I will reknit it with mid grey, dark grey, and then the blue as an edge .. .which I hope will look like a smoother and more planned transition of colours.

And on the pen front, the pen trays I was waiting on from GoPens arrived yesterday. I had a lot of fun planning how to cut these into exactly the right sizes and shapes to fit into the Bento box. This is where my not-currently-inked pens are stored, the inked ones live in a vintage vase or a pen case in my bag. I think I may need another one of these staking bento boxes for my mechanical pencil collection, have I mentioned I like vintage mechanical pencils as well?, but there is no hurry.

So excuse me while I go and puddle in the frog pond ....
hope your weekend ends smoothly, ready for the week ahead,

na Stella

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Balletomane !

There were so many suggestions for names for the ballet wrap design, I was completely in awe of the intelligent and clever suggestions.
Thank you ---every one who left a comment.
In the end ... Balletomane was the suggestion that I kept coming back to. It is the Italian word used to describe a fan of Ballet, which is perfect for every little dancer.
A huge thanks to l i n g g a n (no spaces) who suggested the name. I've been in touch and let her know (but I forgot to ask what her favorite colour was for the yarn).
I've finished the pattern, and uploaded it to Ravelry, for sale, you can follow the Ravelry link to look at the pattern details. I really tried to make the pattern as good as it could be, and I've loaded in lots of images of the process, for knitters to use as reference points, and lots of little instructions for the things that knitters might not have done before. This is an example of the kinds of photos I've included, this is one of three that show how to bead using a crochet hook. I was so impressed with Bears skills in documenting my knitting in action - he did really well.

I'm back at work, today was the first day, my 'desk' arrives next Monday, if you remember we are moving to a new building and were to be homeless for a month or so while they readied the place for us. First day back and I have had I had two meetings already, have an all day 'training and professional development' day tomorrow, and a Department meeting Friday afternoon ....followed by another follow up meeting Monday morning. And that is not counting the meetings I have to organize with the people teaching on things I coordinate. There is some odd sort of balance in having so many meetings just when I don't have a desk to return to. Students arrive in less than two weeks .. and just on the edge of things there is a hint of rising panic about things being ready. They will be ready .. we have moved something like 5 times in 8 years ... we are 'good' and practiced at this, all will be fine (or so I keep whispering to myself in quiet moments)
I'm not entirely sure about this 'back to work' caper ... it does get in the way of my knitting, I am sure that tonight after reading over info for tomorrow I will be sitting down to knit.

My last day of 'not-being-at-work' was lovely, it included a frilly tea party. I baked and used the linen basket liner to hold shortbread. Yes it was a frilly party daisy shortbread with blue sugar seemed in order.

I also frogged the two projects that were languishing in the work basket. I had long ago stopped fooling myself that I wanted to knit them ... but it took until yesterday to frog them. I sat on the front stoop and frogged, I offered Yo-yo the remnants, but she is a lady and far to civilised to frollic with my left over yarns. Both yarns were fuzzy .. and no matter how carefully I tried I could not undo the cast on.

And I am still in the thows of finishing up, so dug out the huge garter blanket and started edging it with i-cord. So far so good, I worked around about one quarter of it, which made me feel warm and good. At the Monday spinners catchup, there were deliveries of the latest Vintage Purls sock yarn kit .. and it is lovely, more about that in the next post ... so that might just dictate what is next on the needles.

take care .. I'm off to plough thru those readings for tomorrow ... and then knit some just to relax.