Saturday, November 29, 2008

opps - this might take a while

Usually I blog Wednesdays and Sundays, but today that isn't going to happen. We got a new mac, or rather we got a new iMac, which is great. We had got to the stage where updates and newer versions of software were available but wouldn't run on our old eMac - so it is great. But .... we also got a new thing, Time Capsule, to replace our Airport wireless and provide back ups ... so far so good. But the set up has been time consuming, or first sucessfull back up took 18+ hours, and given the aborted back ups prior to that we were reluctant to disturb it for fear of it all going wrong - again. Then there are the little but important necessities like moving over all the files and the email accounts and messages and software and ... oh it just took ages.

So I knit on my tangled yoke cardigan, without the net to distract me i was able to work to the end of the tangled cables. At which point I found a few small errors...

never mind I thought, I'll just drop down those stitches and knit it up, It will be easy ...

Yes ...
maybe ...
this could take a while ....
I'll let you know when I'm done

Take care
- oh and I got a fiber'n'things swop box from a nz spinner as part of a spinning NZ swop organised on ravelry - which was lovely, but i can't find the photos - the files are not all sorted as I like them. I'll blog that in more detail soon.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tidy up time

Tidy up, thats what we get the students to do right now, that gap between handing in the last project, and producing the show, and getting their marks back. Tidying up is also what all the staff are doing between marking, all those planning meetings about finishing up this years teaching and activity and planning for next year. Gosh I even tidied up my desk at work the other day, both the hard mock-wood one I sit at and the desk-top computer one. Its only been two days since I last blogged so there is not much progress to show, but there are a few things that seem to have escaped a report on the blog - so today I'm tidying up all the little blog reports. There is the latest wash cloth, blue this time, where I'm up to with my Tangled yoke cardigan, the latest spinning (cashmere silk!), and some more fiber .... thanks to a very nice local fiber supplier.

But first washcloths, yes I'm knitting another, this will be number 3, Chinese Waves again, but this time in blue. There are over 500 of these knitted on Ravelry, not counting people like me who post them 2 to an entry because that is how many you get from 50g of cotton. I was fascinated by the photo on Maggies blog, but I loved it even more once I had knit enough of the pattern to see what was going on. Because every 2nd row is alternalte slip and knit stitches, the pattern knits up into a lattice, but one with little openwork holes. Something neat happens as the slipped stitches are pulled up and out by the knit stitches.

The reverse side is a little less charming, a sort of a pebbled garter, but there is a hint of the diagonal lattice pattern happening.

And my Tangled yoke cardigan, well it has languished in the bottom of my knitting basked, I might have several projects on the needles, but secretly I seem to be only able to focus on one at a time, and nope, I've not been knitting more tangles... this is where I'm at, I do intent to be back on this in the next few days - because I need to finish it and I'm being tempted by Owls.

So my spinning, this is the softest yummiest stuff I've spun, ever. Knitting Linguist brought this with her when she visited, and I'm sure I've not done it justice, but spinning it was so nice. Its 56g of Cashmere Silk, which I've spun up to 342m of two ply. All I can think of is a scarf or simillar so that I can experience this close to my face - no idea when, I think I'll just leave this around near my chair at home and fondle it every now and again.

and more gotland, Hamish, the nice guy who has the gotland flock known as Chocolate Wool really is a nice guy. He offered to replace the last batch of gotland that I bought from him, the one which has not survived processing well, and turned into a felted bump. I did have other goltland from him which was very nice, so as well as his offer of a free replacment cloud of dark gotland, I also purchased a ligher grey bump of fiber, also as a cloud.

There are so many different fiber preps out there, batts, carded batts, clouds, rovings, pencil rovings, pin drafted rovings, rolags, combed, carded, flicked, picked ... I'm not to clear on what makes a cloud a cloud, as it seems like a loose roving or sliver - but it is nice to spin from. Photos don't do it justice,, the dark is darker, the light lighter - and this one day is intended to be a shawl or two -- after I finish spinning pink alpaca (200g to go on that).

ok - not everything got tidied up in this post, my Honey socks are still to finish, I've got more yarn than I'd like to admit to enter into my Ravelry stash, I've sent off a Kiwi Spinners swop box, which I will link to when she posts, and one of my Pomatomus has a hole, which I've get to decide if I will mend or abandon. I can darn, I have a collection of darning eggs and mushrooms ... but I never really fell in love with the merino bamboo blend it was knit in. Too loose, too crunchy, too something. Sounds like abandon dosn't it?

take care

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Done, well .... nearly done

The top-down-round-yoke cardigan is done, well ... the knitting is done, and the blocking is done, but I've still to stitch on the clasps. I've been away - summoned to the A&P show in Waimate for the weekend, where I knit some more on my Honey socks (its the middle one). There has not been much computer time, so todays post is short - things to write, things to sort, and I'd better go off and do some real work.

But first, Poppy's new cardigan, blocking, and waiting to dry. I was in a hurry to dry this, blocking it at 8pm on the friday night, when we were due to leave at 8am on the Saturday morning. You know how it is with newly finished knits, you want to wear them, or in this case see them worn. And spring in Dunedin can be cool enough for a winter weight cardigan - if you are going to be outside at the A&P show. Or at least thats what I told myself, so I soaked, I wrapped it in a towel, We stomped on it, Bear and I. Then as it dried on the drying frame, i realised it was warm, I was wearing a tee shirt and skirt, the weather forcast was for warm, if not warmer ... so I abandoned the frantic rush to have it ready to wear. And that was the right thing to do, we spent the whole weekend in shirtsleeves ...

The other things that happens with each knit, is I usually try something new, this time there was the whole staged cast on top down round yoke thing, but also I tried that advice given for changing yarn colours when working ribbing. I knit a row in the new colour, then resumed the ribbing pattern. Its ok, I'm not completely converted or convinced. In real life there is what I see as a very odd dip or line across the ribbing where I worked the knit row in white, and I'm waiting to see if it flips up along that line in a cardigan. To be honest the little purl blips in the two colours never really bothered me, even after I read that to avoid them it was best to knit the first row of the new colour in knit. I guess I really should work a striped rib swatch with this method of changing colours and just ribbing the new colour in, and compare the two.

While at the show, I checked out the knitting, where KathyR had great sucess with her spinning and knitting, well done - please blog ribbons with knitting soon. I was thrilled to see some contemporary knitting entered, my memories of the previous show are of quite traditional babies layettes. Bear made a bee line for his favorite section, the kids carved vegetables ... now that is something you dont' see every day - next year I'm taking my camera.

off to do some other work, duty calls

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

No home to go to .....

Things have been soooo hectic that I have missed knit night 3 weeks in a row - I was wondering if there was a knitting deity that I should ask forgiveness from, any one know? Something along the lines of - forgive me for I have not knit with my knit-sibs for over three weeks now. Even if I did make it to knitting, it appears our knitting group has no home right now, the University Link being closed in sympathy with the main university library closing at 6pm. Exams are over, students have gone, so they figure no one wants to be there at night, right? Wrong! We are temporarily decamping to various living rooms around town while we sort a larger and light venue to use. There are upwards of 20 of us on a good night, so we really need a suitable space. In the past we have tried pubs and cafes but those about town have small tables, and expect us to buy food and drink - not sit and talk and knit, and they usually have dim lighting. Thats ok when you are eating but when you try to knit ... dim is not good.

Today, things return to near normal, the end of year student show is over. My students are the Y3, and they had two sections in the show, photos are here, and here. See if you can spot the inflatible one, she is a Y3, that was amazing, pretty much most of it was amazing - but I'm biased. And before you ask, the student who had inflatible garments is already working in film and theater costumes and she wanted to showcase her inventiveness, any one need a clever costumer, I highly recommend Fi? But you visit me here for the knitting so in this post I've got a new project, you-know because when things get hectic I start new stuff (don't you?), and some progress on the top down steeked raglan.

I'm knitting wash cloths, two, cotton 4 ply, sportweight to those in the US, on 3mm needles. Using a stitch pattern I discovered on Ravelry, chinese waves, it really does look like the background stitch of a chinese embroidery, it also looks like a lattice pattern. Its nice, extra thick and squooooshy. I tried to make it reversible - but just ended up with reverse double fabric....purled on the outside. Maybe one clever than I can work out how to get reversible fabric with this stitch pattern on both sides. One of the reasons I liked it was it looks a little like the crook stitches in twined knitting, but uses only one thread.

I can live with this on one side and garter on the other, as it is soooo pretty. I think in bulky yarn on big needles this would make a pretty good thick light baby blanket. The yarn is Panda Regal 4 ply cotton - I've got another ball in pale blue and thinking it might be good just to knit two more and use it up.

And the top down raglan, well its all steeked and the edges finished. I used my favorite bound edging, from the Big Book of Knitting, and my favorite I-cord bind off. I like new stuff, but I also like my favorite techniques, I trust them but I do have a new trick for the i-cord. Finding in the past that I had to add an extra row every 4 or 5 rows to prevent it pulling in. Now I go up 2 needle sizes to knit the i-cord bind off. I work 4 extra rows at the corners - just to make them square.

And on the inside - look - nice and neat with all the cut edges finished. In the book this edging is used to hide a zip tape on the inside and to make a neat edge to the inside of a neckline - but I think it works just as well on a steek. I was a little worried about how thick it would end up, with 2 layers of knitting plus the steek ... but its fine. I did work the inside in stocking stitch, just to cut down on the bulk.

....which means I'm now knitting the sleeves, the first sleeve, then the next sleeve and it will be done. Thats a retro fake seam running down the side, I do like all those little finishing touches.

take care, knit some, rest some
na Stella

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Yes today I steek, life seems pretty full at present, it is that time of year for us academics in New Zealand, marking, getting results all in so students can graduate, and for us in the applied area - the student show looms. Then there are the frantic round of end of year AGM's and committee meetings that get scheduled for November - because - well you know December has a whole 'nother round of social events. I feel tired, not jaded, just tired, which I know will pass, I'm on leave from the 15th of December for 5 weeks, but even today some one was trying to schedule meetings for the 18th .. which I am resisting heartily. So in the midst of the turmoil at work, where a phone call with news of a sponsor pulling out or a missing peice of work can create panic - I calmy took scissors to my knitting. I think its a controlled reaction to the chaos around me, see me take charge of my knitting, feel the power of knowing that I am in charge of at least one thing.

But this is about the knitting, so about the knitting I will write. Right now it feels right to focus on one project, that being Poppy's top down raglan. Last night it seemed long enough so this morning before work I hauled out the sewing machine and stitched the steek. I had marked the steek edges with a garter stitch border, which looked pretty from the back.

Then I cut the steek

I am a bear of little brain, in that simple things can amaze me, such as the fact that a few rows of machine stitching can quite securely hold a cut edge in knitted fabric.

At that stage I tried it on Poppy who wanted to know if it was going to be a sleeveless vest .... mmm I wonder. Little cap sleeves, or just a rib around the arm holes .... or the sleeves I had planned.

So now I am picking up the stitches, the first round is in pink, subsequent rounds are in the white ... I am still making it up as I go. I did have a few white stripes at the lower end of the rib before I steeked, but frogged them. Plainer is better I think with the ziggy zaggy yoke colour work. I'm also not sure if I will enclose the steek with a double layer facing as I have done in the past, or leave it exposed - which feels brave. If I do that I will catch stitch the facing down to hold it flat.

Thats all for today, and I'm not sure if there will be a post in the weekend, the show is Saturday night, and, well I'm out thursday night twice (double booked), friday night, and then the saturday ... Sunday might be a lazy day ... before the week starts again.
Hope your week is calmer tham mine feels

Saturday, November 08, 2008


Thanks for all the supportive comments about my Nana. I really appreciated it, it seems like a rough year - with Odette only a few months ago and now Nana, so the comments were much appreciated.

I'm back, and the knitting goes on, in fact there was mention of knitting at the funeral by two different relatives in their memory-speeches. First my uncle mentioned how she was always knitting, and always had a bag of lap blankets or knitted bedsocks on hand, and insisted visitors select something to ward of the cold. My cousin, Donna who had the luxury of living close to Nana in Auckland recalled the huge bag of dolls clothes and knitted toys she still had, and would keep for her children. Both mentioned that while my Nana was prolific and generous in her knitting - she had abysmal colour sense, a shocking colour sense - something she may have passed on*. Funerals are never easy, it was a quiet funeral - calm, she was 96, and I got to say goodbye to my great aunt Mary and my Grandad - as their ashes were in the same coffin as Nana.

To keep me sane I took my knitting, but decided against any of the projects already on the needles, instead taking something new. I took Honey, from Vintage Purls 2nd sock-club kit, and made good progress. When I returned on friday - I picked up my Poppy's top down raglan as the 2nd top-down-class was to be on the Saturday, and ripped it back to the middle of the yoke so I could make the yoke more generous. Ripped seems the wrong word - snipped and pulled maybe a better definition. Bear - bless him - txted me thursday to announce Amazon had come a calling, and I also found some knitting magazines to distract me in Auckland, so that was my week of knitting.

So the sock - this is how far you can knit, while away from home and without much to do ... toe to well past the heel in 1.5 days. I only changed one thing - using Emily Ockers center out shawl cast on rather than the specified cast on 6 stitches cast on. I've used EO's cast on before on center out baby blankets, and it pulls up to a nice tight circle.
Here my Honey-sock rests in a little patch of sunlight, 36 floors up above the Auckland harbour .... yes thats 36 floors up. And yes, I'm terrified of heights and yes the cubs wanted to frolick on the balcony, and no I didn't let them. And yes, it rained, off and on the whole trip, which is pretty much my experience of Auckland - with its sub tropical climate - lots of rain, but that suited my mood this trip.

And the raglan that was ripped? Ripping isn't quite the term, I had tried this on Poppy and the shoulders were tight, so I knew I needed more stitches, but I had also completed the yoke and one sleeve. I'd cast off the sleeve with a sewn tubular bind off, and I'd grafted the underarm closed, so ripping that wasn't going to be easy. The yarn was inexpensive so I just picked a row mid way thru the colour work and threaded a 2.5mm needle along that row picking up one side of each stitch, I'm amazed I managed to stick to one row and not wander up and down. Then I snipped a thread of pink and one of white the row below, and pulled out each loop - stitch by stitch. Surprisingly easy.

Then I started knitting, but this time I increased 2 stitches near the point of each zig by knitting with both pink and white into the next two stitches. On the next round I was able to knit up the pink and white in the checkerboard pattern making for 26 almost invisable increases. Clever no?

We had 2 full days in Auckland, arriving at our appartment at 11:30pm. I'm am a naive Dunedin girl, I know this because as we got out of the taxi, I wondered why 3 girls in bikinis were having a smoke outside wide doorway at that time of night, in town, the kind of doorway topped by a metal garage roller door. It took me a good half minute to realise they were in their work clothes, and the roller door was a club entrance ... Still we were collected by my Uncle Neil Wednesday morning, and taken care of for the duration of our stay - transport, meals, company, introductions to realtives I had not meet. I've lived in the south since the early 1970's and while I was close to Nana and she and I wrote, and phoned and visited - that didn't always extend to the wider circle of relatives, especially her in-laws, who all turned up and are at odds with any in-law myths. On the Thursday, Neil, and Ian, my late mothers brothers, my uncles, Toby and Poppy's great uncles decided quite openly to distract them selves with taking us to the Zoo. The rain held off mostly and we spent a good 3 hours there spotting various animals. If you ever get to watch seals from the under water viewing window do it. Those huge animals are just magically powerfully graceful under water, they had us adults mesmerised with their power and elegance.

Life goes on, and nowhere more clearly that in the animal world, I was quite taken by a family of Pukeko making a home in small lake at the Zoo, I didn't know the chicks were black, odd really given how ducklings and chickens are pale not dark.

Then we went for lunch - here is Neil to the left, Poppy and Toby in the middle, and Ian on the right. It was good to spend time together.

Lastly - books, I took the latest Piecework with me, and found copies of the latest Vogue Knitting and previous Knitters while I was away (at Mag Nation). Knitter's Summer 2008 K91 has the Spring thaw sock that tempts me by Cat Bordhi, and then I came home to 3 new books. Well some new like Knitted Lace of Estonia by Nancy Bush, and Knitting America by Susan M Stawn, and one old - Creative Knitting a new art form by Mary Walker Phillips. All in all I have enough to distract me for a while ...

thats pretty much it so I'm off to knit some, take care - may your week run smooth
na Stella
* as a bribe to make travelling with two kids easier on myself, I bought Poppy an i-pod shuffle, Toby already has one. I chose a Pink one, but turns out Poppy liked her Green i-pod, she is colour blind. Oh yes, pink and green are the same thing, and there seems to be a thing about orange and red - she won't commit to those shades at all. This explains a lot of her dress sense, and she clearly has some strategies developed to avoid naming colours at all. We now notice her clothes are described by Poppy as 'the light one' or 'the dark one', or the one with flowers, not by colour at all.