Saturday, October 30, 2010

Done, do__ and gone...

Today in the post I've got one thing done, finished and blocked and drying out side in the wonderful sunshine we have lots of right now, one thing do__ (which is almost done - all bar the seaming up), and one thing missing. A knit thing ..... it happens.
During the week I had a day away from work and went out to Mosgiel to the Taieri Creative Fibre open day, which was a nice way to spend a day - more so as I bought a single raffle ticket on the way in and won a lovely skein of yarn - yum. I also had one of the loveliest parcel ever of things I had bought ever arrive, truly it was beautiful - and if ever I am stuck for a gift .. and have the foresight to order in time for delivery - I'll be buying from them.

Done, time two that means both mittens are done, ends woven in, blocked a done - the Cat mittens, by Jorid Linvik, which may or not fit Toby - seems that cub has had a growth spurt since I started them all of a month ago on the 24th of August. Perhaps the blocking will result in a little loosening and they may fit - but its spring here and he probably won't fit them next winter. Oh well, the smaller cub scores .. and he dose not seem to upset. I did make both the thumbs a little longer than the pattern suggest ... guess my cubs are lanky and long.

And here is the very nearly almost done project, all knit up bar the seaming and edging. I did have enough yarn in the end, which is good because it was vintage sale yarn and there is no more in the same colour. I was a little worried, as the last skein was only four strands not the six in the other 10 skeins, but I figured that no one would notice a slightly thinner patch once it was all sewn up and edged. I've told the cubs that once I'm done with blogging this morning and their rooms are tidy - they can help me do the largest jig saw in the house and fit all the pieces together - parents get to do that, trick their cubs into work by making it fun. Besides it will be good for their spatial problem solving thinking skills - a whole body puzzle.

This is the yarn I scored at the Taieri open day, Italian superwash laceweight Merino in a beautiful deep ruby. This was provided by Pollyknits .. who had a stall their. I was the third or fourth prize drawn and it was a case of presenting ones winning raffle ticket and selecting the prize one wanted. I could not believe my luck, the three first prizes to be collected were all plastic buckets of groceries ... so I got to score this yarn!

On Wednesday - the same day as the open day - I arrived home to find a lovely parcel address to the 'wonderful knitknitfrog'. Inside was what would have to be the nicest wrapping I have ever seen from a shop I've ordered from - inside was Violette Ink from J. Herbin and a Seyes ruled notebook. Each was wrapped up separate - just in case the ink misbehaved, but it didn't. When you place an order with Jumping Tangents they have a space on the order form to let them know something about the recipient - and then they go away and customize the parcel - wonderful.

Bear and I have been sharing out latest book, a mammoth volume entitled The Ultimate Book of Pens - which is in three languages, English, German and French. Once I got used to reading every third column I'm loving the history and little stories about the manufacturers and notable inventors, and the images.

And the lost ... was this, at eldest cubs camp. Not sure what happened ... he is quite upset, I guess he knows how much time and effort goes into a hand knit and he wears it all the time. Monday Bear or I will pop into his school and see what can be done about finding it ... the camp was several hours drive south of home ... so we need to at least check school is aware and looking on our behalf. It was all labeled but if he has left it on a tree or fence .. a label won't help it come home until some one finds it.

Ok - I'm not going to get to upset about lost knits after all ... stuff happens, and it means I get to knit more, I'm off to turn over the mittens so the other side drys, and head out with the smallest cub - it is her turn to go to camp this week, and we need a few little things for her.

Take care
This week is a week of student final presentations and marking ... next week there is a masters to mark (oh eeek - that is Monday so I'll have to read it this week). I'll post when I can, and knit when I need to - and suggest you all do the same to keep sane.
na Stella

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


There are ruder words in the English language, but I always think that like the George the Prince in Black Adder - a simple understated utterance of 'bother' is at times far more meaningful than any stronger expletive could be.George also uses the term 'golly' to express surprise - again understated to the point of being a perfect way to express surprise. Today's post - well there is a bit of bother, and a new place with wonderful things to tell you about.

I've decided that there are to many Wip's in my life, my knit life, my work life, my home life, my family life. Oh the kids are not finished and every time they lack manners and act as kids do I realize they are most definitely still a work in progress. The family home is a work in progress in almost every room ... and outside, my work like has many unfinished things, at least 2 papers to write and a pile of marking that arrived this past week to replace the pile I returned the week before. Another pile looms at the end of this week ... that is the reality of a teaching career. And in the knitting basket .. well there are the Cat mittens, the large single bed sized blanket, the cashmere shawl I started in late August and worked 3 rows of, and the linen basket liner. And that is just with me thinking and not looking ... there is bound to be at least one project that I've forgotten to add to that list. I decided to work monogamously on one project the Cat mittens and then they would be done. As I worked on them I realized I'd made an error ......this is how one side of the mitten looks. It is a pattern the author calls dancing ants, a line of alternative light and dark stitches bordered by a dark stitch either side.

Some how on the other side I had worked a double row of dancing ants .... look. Not pretty and yes only I would know, but that is the problem I would know that I had noticed it and not fixed it when I could. So I worked another few rounds and then decided I could ignore the mistake no longer. At this point I had nearly completed the cat, oh the cat was missing its tail, but the cat was in essence done ...

Which made this a little harder .. but I knew it was the right thing to do. I slid out the needles .. and frogged back the mitten.Until all I had was the ribbing above the braid and the cat was gone. I've now got the mittens back on the needles .. and I'm back working the beginnings of the cats feet .. and looking forward to the paw print at the top of the mitten. I had plans to work on this and the largest cub could take them to camp. He is off to his first school camp, at age 11, but first I realized I didn't need the stress of a deadline on top of the setback of frogging, and then his teacher rejected the hand knit mittens I had made him for winter and said he needed proper gloves for camp. I knit his last teacher a lovely pair of alpaca mitts as a thank you for being such an inspiration to him . .. I don't thing I will be doing that this time for this teacher.

Then there is the other distraction - I'm still enjoying rediscovering fountain pens and inks, A mid 1970's Lamy 69 arrived from Holland this week (via ebay), and it is lovely - although I've only found one place online that even mentions the Lamy 69 and they say it came with a steel nib whereas mine has an 18kt gold nib. In the photo the Lamy is the all black pen, the silver grid one is one Bear bought me, a Parker 75 to go with a ball point my Dad had kicking around a parts box in his garage(also in the photo). They are both Stirling silver - and I felt I really had to save the ball point from a life in the parts box - getting dented next to spark plugs and a wire brush. Also in this image is an Autopoint pencil that Bear scored on ebay, one of two. Autopoint pencils take 0.9mm leads and are very nicely made, with a solid weight and nice length. This one has a depth indicator for 4 inches on it and the logo for Wilkin Insulation Co - which is kind-a cool although I don't know where I will next need to measure if something is 4" deep. This one has a rather spectacular mechanical pen clip.
Then there is all the looking out for things in the post, I've gone shares with another Dunedinite in a bulk order of Diamine ink in glass bottles and Noodlers. The Noodlers should arrive next month, and the Diamine the month after ... we have ordered thru the New Zealand agent and so the overseas shipping will be very economical - and it made sense to buy in bulk (or at least that is what I told myself). Then I was told by someone about Jumping Tangents .. who are only a few hours away and have an online shop .... so there may or may not be some J. Herbin violette pensee on its way to me - ok there is - I won't deny it - it might make marking more pleasurable if I mark with scented ink? Worth a try at least.

All in all a sort of one step forward one step back .. one forward sort of week. Today the elder cub and I spent the best part of the morning out and about locating all the little bits he needs to take camping, new underpants, a soap box, a toothbrush box. We also spent some time in the garage sorting the best luggage for a school camp (turns out it is the backpack that his dad toured the UK with some 25 years ago. Then we spend the afternoon at the sewing machine stitching name tags into everything of value ... and every thing that could possibly be the same as all the other 30+ 10/11 and 12 year old boys would take to camp. It was good - Toby did most of the sewing, and once he got over his fear of the machine was quite capable of raising and lowering the needle and foot, turning corners, back-tacking, and snipping threads. Wonder if he would like to make a tee shirt or sweat shirt next holidays?

Here in New Zealand is a long weekend, Labor weekend - celebrating the 40 hour work week, and the start of warmer reliable weather ... I am looking forward to the extra day off tomorrow and the short week that follows. So far we have spent much of the time outside, gardening. mostly weeding but a little fence maintenance and planting of the first round of veggies.

take care - I'm off to check the food in the oven, see if it needs basting or turning ... and perhaps settle in to knit some.
na stella

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

There is a hole in a sock in my house!

Yes a hole. Yesterday my youngest cub announced that there was a hole in her favorite pink socks so she solved the problem by putting a pair of commercial socks underneath. Clearly while she knits she is not yet a knitter who recognizes that holes are bad things and must be fixed. Darning that sock has now been added to my to-do list, along with knitting the grey band around the sheltand yarn blanket, finishing the cat mittens for elder cub. There are new toys in my house .... some fibre from a scrappy swap which I totally forgot to photograph, and a new vintage mechanical pencil that is so pretty I want to write every thing in pencil, and a neat magnifying glass.

Socks with holes are not allowed. This is a fear of mine, that if I use yarn with no reinforcement there will be holes, so I tend towards yarn with nylon in it to avoid this very thing - and so far my strategy has worked. Oh there have been holes, perhaps 2 others to date, one in a bamboo-wool blend sock, and the other in the first pair of socks I ever knitted. These socks date from January 2009 - so I guess I should be happy they have lasted so long on a growing 8 year old. The problem may just be long nails - trimming those with this cub is always a battle involving cajoling and bribery. I can't blame the yarn totally, and they are as she said her 'favorite socks', so have been worn often.

In those times when I need to knit and not really focus on my knitting - and there are more of those than I'd care to admit, I have been knitting on the blanket shawl in shetland yarn. The grey garter border grows - slowely, but this is a nice peaceful mindless knit.

Last night I finally returned to my other wip's, or at least one of them, the Cat Mittens by Jorid Linvik. At the end of last night there was most of the third cat, sans tail. Some how charts such as this with different patterning every round seem too difficult for busy times - but then as I knit I realize that charts are not as demanding as i think they will be. Now I have reminded myself of that I should continue to work on these and have them done soon - except we have a weekend away. We are to visit my brother in Christchurch and as we are driving up and back I will need car knitting, portable knitting, and this is not that project.

Monday when I arrived home I found a lovely surprise, well three surprises on the doorstep. A vintage pencil to match my Burnham fountain pen, it isn't a perfect match - but close enough for me. These vintage pencils have 1.1mm lead which is stronger and seems smoother than the modern 0.5mm pencils, and the vintage one has a nice heft and smoothness which feels nice to use.

The second parcel was 140g of spinning fibre, an amazing mix of colours, as the result of a scrap swap I signed up for. I totally forgot to photograph the fibre - but I will next time. I'm curious to see what the others in the swap do with their mixes, singles, two ply, or Navajo ply. The third parcel was a little back ordered item from the Auckland Map Centre. Some time back I found a Lumagraphy magnifying glass in a second hand shop, and it was fantastic but the light was a little unreliable. I googled and found modern versions and ordered one, this is a 6x magnifying glass with a powered light which just makes things easier to see. The light also functions as a torch. I bought 3 of these, they were so cheap, that I figured they would be in use and claimed - and I was right. Bear has already taken one to work and asked for one to give his brother as a gift. This one is mine - I'm not letting it stray far from my work basket.

so ... no post this weekend,
enjoy the sun - or what ever your climate brings.
knit some ... rest some ... laugh some
na Stella

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Getting things done,

There is a particularly nice feeling that comes when something one has promised to do, or something one is obligated to do is finally done. Those obligation-tasks never seem as exciting, never as inspiring as other self selected projects. This week I finished two of the tasks that hung over my head, with deadlines, the first was the Wall hanging gift/charity project which needed to be away by the 12th of October, and the second was a seemingly never ending pile of essays by first year students.

Both are done, done, done, done, and ready to go, leaving me with more interesting things to work on.

The wall hanging is now done, all I need to do is hand it over. This was finished on Friday night, and blocked on Saturday, in the small portion of the day where we had sun and warmth. Like all colour work it wasn't completely flat when it was first off the needles .. but unlike most of my colour work this did pull in a bit in the middle. As I knit this using a different manner of knitting (Andrea Wongs two colour method) I really didn't mind the pucker, in fact I was surprised at how little there was.

Most of the distortion was at the edges, giving my wall hanging a waist, not ideal. I also noticed that I might have to practice how to twist in a colour at the edge of a colour work section - my intarsia skills do seem to need polishing to get the tension and lay of the yarn just right.

But any lace knitter and colour work knitter will tell you that blocking is a wonderous transformative method for improving knits. So I blocked, I ran blocking wires along the loops on each edge and pinned the knitting out square. I noticed that the inner band of the garter stitch boarder needed a little help to stay straight so I ran blocking wires up those stitches as well.

Now it is dry and flat and neat and tidy. I think this is the way up it should go, with bubbles drifting up - but there has been discussion here and it looks equally nice the other way up - with bubbles floating down ... or even sideways, with bubbles floating off to the side. I will leave the final decision up to those that hang them.

The other finished obligation is the pile of essays - all marked with a page of comments to go with each. I decided this time to mark using a fountain pen, and to select a nice ink, this time saddle brown by Diamine, but I have my eye on new inks. I've recently become aware of Lexington Gray by Noodlers, which is a close approximation of graphite, yes that is right, it is a fountain pen ink that looks like it was written with pencil ! That is seriously cool for a geeky knitter like me. I've also fallen in love with Diamine Pumpkin ....... which I am going to have to order(scroll down here to find it, but there is a much better image here of it in use and being tested, but I'm not sure if non-fpn members can view it). There are I'm afraid at the present time one mechanical pencil and two fountain pens on their way to me somewhere in the global mail system, and while I wait for them to arrive here in my far flung corner of the globe ... I find my time looking for inks that will suit those pens, and there so much choice, 80 colours of Diamine and the stories behind the Noodles are enough to make me want most of them. I wonder if they can be used to dye yarn?

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Despite my best intentions

to clear my needles of existing projects before starting anything new I still managed to come away from Saturday with a new project on my needles. Saturday was KSG - Knitters Study Group, and the topic was shapes. I took with me a selection of yarns and needles and tossed in a spool of linen just because it caught my eye. The shapes were squares, triangles, circles, hexegons and octagons. One suggestion was made, that it would be a good idea to swatch in cotton and then the swatch could be used as a wash cloth .... I started thinking that swatching in the linen would give me a basket liner for bread or muffins. Do you see what happened? There I was having decided not to start any thing new until at least some of my WIP's were off the needles and I just 'had' to cast on a new project. So today I introduce my new project, and showoff progress on my current main project. Today there are no new pens, or inks .. but I may have ordered a 1950's perfectly matching pencil for my Burnham fountain pen ... just may have.

The wall hanging has a 'required by' date of October the 12th, that is the date by which the one transporting them to Wellington is leaving town, so that is the date by which the work must be done. I am well on the way to finishing it. There was however a little boredom kicking in, knitting the same few rows of offset dots over and over - even using a new method of handling the yarn was tedious .. so I've started to bubble-out the dots a little, with fewer per line and more space between them as if they were floating away. I saw some of the other projects finished on Saturday and many included the name of the person they were for ... a fairly easy way to customise the project and something I may yet add.

And the new project? Here, not much to show yet, the first section of lace is done and I'm about to work the section where the star points are created. I'd love to fill the space between the points with eyelet lace or some other lace pattern .. but for now it is on hold as I finish the wall hanging in time to make the deadline.

Tomorrow I'm back to work, marking my share of those essays, but tomorrow night is spinning night and there is knitting to distract me .. so I'll cope. Essay marking is always a swinging emotional field, tiring, and at times inspiring when they get it, and then brutally demoralizing when they don't.

take care
na Stella