Sunday, December 30, 2012


I've been distracted away from blogging of late, the garden grows green and at a time when we are here to do things in it, deadhead roses, raise seeds, tidy away last years dry growth. There has also been all sorts of end of year holiday things to do, visit my dad, deposit the elder cub with one of his best friends for a camping holiday (without us), bake Christmas treats (fruit mince tarts, fruit cake) ... and all sorts of salads, which are meant to be easy but often involve lots of prep and at times precooking and cooling. Then being away which involves lots of packing and unpacking.

Still there has been knitting, and some spinning, we headed out to Waimate Boxing Day, and did our annual rodeo attendance the day after. Lots of fun. My away-knitting was the Handspun sock. I decided to undo what I had knit, the gauge wasn't right for a redux of bubbles so I did a quick cruise online and founds simple eyelet pattern that looked easy and that would suit the Handspun. I'm knitting these on 2.75mm needles, not my usual sock needle of 2.25mm, and in this yarn I like the result. I also like the speed at which these are knitting up. I started on the 26th December, and mid way through the 27th I was already knitting the heel. Because I was working without a pattern I worked the heel from memory, turns out my memory isn't so good at things like toe up gusset and flap heels, so I frogged and reworked the heel. The second time wasn't a success either but in working it I did resolve the issues ... And the third heel worked out just dandy. That was the surprise, that I knew enough that i could work a heel without blindly following instructions!

By the time I reworked the heel the third time I had a really clear understanding of the structure and relationship between the sections, the heel cup, the gusset, the heel flap, and the sock circumference. That meant I felt confident to add in a slipped stitched heel cup. You might just be able to see it in the close up photo. It's not long, but just wraps the slip stitch around the turn of the heel by a centimeter or so. I made good but cryptic notes and now I'm well past the heel of sock number two. These are slightly smaller than my usual sock, littlest cub is my fit model, she has the 'right sized feet' to match the person these are for.

Because I have been finding progress so fast one these socks, and that in turn drives me to knit them even more the contiguous tempest inspired cardigan seems to be in a lull. I'm around the elbow of sleeve number one. This also was frogged. When the sleeve was about the length it is now I tried it on and discovered the sleeve was firm. After a wee time spent pouting I frogged back to where the deceases started and worked the sleeve again. This time I am decreasing every seventh round, not every forth. Small change but enough to produce a looser fit.

And lastly I've been a investing in even more colored pencils, this was a set I discovered at CultPens, and had to investigate hands on. The Kooh-I-Nor polycolor art set, 24 leads, the inner bit of a pencil, together with three Kooh-I-Nor lead holders, and assorted other bits. Lead holders are sort of like a jumbo mechanical pencil, except instead of the pencil lead being 0.5mm in a lead holder the pencil lead is 2mm, 3.8mm, or even 5.6mm. Instead of sharpening the pencil and so loosing pencil length, the lead itself is sharpened and the leadholder stays a constant length. Some of us like the way a leadholder is weighty compared to a wood-cased pencil, and how it stays a constant weight and length right down to the last centimeter of lead. I've read reviews that some people find switching out the leads 'tiresome', but since my current aim is to master blending within a tonal range of three to five shades, I expect that even if I have to invest in two more 3.8mm lead holders ( my current collection are all 2mm lead holders), I won't find switching too troublesome. There are only 24 colors available in the 3.8mm leads, although the wood cased range from Kooh-I-nor has 72 colors, but as these are super blendable on good art paper - I shouldn't feel to limited, and in theory I should become expert at colour blending. If not lots of people mix and match between leadholder and woodcased, even between brands and types. Best news is refills are really affordable when compared to artist-grade-blending pencils, and come in packs of six, so I can top up the set as I need to. I like these a lot, so much so I plan to invest in a simillar set for each cub, the Kooh-I-Nor woodless color pencil set in 24, cult pens don't stock these, but DickBlick does, for a super reasonable $13 or so. Woodless means the pencils are solid lead, but in the thickness of a wood cased pencil, and the reviews both at DickBlick and elsewhere online are that the 24 set is fantastic quality, and a brilliant price, and because they are solid usable lead not wood, each pencil lasts for yonks even with heavy use.

When I was in high school, back in the 1980's, we had school certificate (SC) and universally entrance (UE) exams, now replaced in New zealand by NCEA achievement records. Anyway, back when I was preparing my art portfolio I remember one of the panels was a serries in study of hands knitting, just the fingers, and clearly defined stitches with twists plied yarn making up the loops, drawings, acrylics and maybe a print or two. I do recall that my proportion was all wrong, but that I loved the detail of drawing the knitted structure, I have no idea what happened to my portfolio, and little memory of what else was on it, funny what one remembers, and how little things connect, from then to now.

I don't 'do' New Years resolutions, but I do sort out things I'd like to see happen, next year I want to knit, of course, and spin, but also draw more and improve at drawing, and I have a plan to work towards that should help. We both want the garden to start looking like something people actually care a out and take care of in a timely and knowing manner. But my most exciting plan for 2013 is that it be the year of brown ink. Bear gifted me three more brown inks, Pilot Tsukushi (horsetail brown), J Herbin Café des îles (coffee), and J Herbin Lie de Thé (tea). These join my existing collection of brown inks, two Diamine (saddle brown &chocolate brown), and two Noodlers (Walnut, and Galileo manuscript brown). Together with orange for annotations I plan to run the year on brown inks as much as possible. With maybe excursions into plum, and deep violet on occasion. There are of course many more colours than just brown inks in the house ...but I will try and be strong, after all if Gertrude Jekyll decided as an experiment to try an 'all white flower' garden, which then inspired gardeners all over the world for near on a hundred years, why can't I do brown ink?

So, tomorrow is 2013, do you have something lined up for next year or will it be more of the same? Take care, all the best,

na Stella


Knitting Linguist said...

Brown ink is my favorite, no doubt - I love the idea of a year in brown! I am also looking forward to seeing your experiments with color shading as they progress; your new pencil set is just lovely. I don't know that I have set too many goals for this upcoming year, although I do know that I want to spin more than I have been, and to knit my way through more of my stash. We shall see. Happy new year!

Vanda Symon said...

I have the Herbin Lie de The, and love it. You'll have to show me the new pencil set!

Thanks for the yummy hand made book.