Monday, December 27, 2010

Couldn't have planned that

Merry Christmas .. or happy holiday, or seasons greetings, travel well, or whatever might be appropriate where you are. Things here are an odd mix of quiet and busy, we had a quiet Christmas day, then the busy started, people to visit, wonderful food to eat, and traveling to do with more people to visit. We have just got back from a whirlwind visit to my Dad, where there was even more wonderful food to eat - Harpuka caught by his friend Bruno, and local strawberries. Oh the joys of a summer Christmas, as usual we spent a day at the Waimate Rodeo, it was warm and overcast and great fun as it always is. I can't decide if my favorite event is the junior calf throwing or the sheep riding (you have to be under 6 years of age to ride a sheep - and those sheep are fast). I love the way the horses in the calf riding know to back up and keep the rope taut while the cowboy/girl binds the calf, impressive teamwork going on there.

With all the 'not working' I have been knitting - a lot. Knitting while visiting, knitting while being visited, knitting while the cubs played with new games and toys, knitting in the car ... in short - knitting. Which means that I have finished one more sock, well finished apart from working the afterthought heel.

And made a significant inroad on its mate. These sock are being knit from Schoppel-Wolle Zauberball and I had expected to knit two fraternal socks, as happens with Noro, but these are coming out as a very well matched identical twins. A quick check on Ravelry shows that this is not uncommon - people who knit socks with this yarn seem to have matching pairs, I guess Schoppel-Wolle are clever enough to put two complete repeats in each ball and if you work it right then you will knit two that match. I'm not usually a fan of afterthought heels, but they are a sensible solution when knitting with yarn that has long colour changes. If I had knit a more conventional heel with a flat then I would have risked an unsightly (to my eyes) colour change across where the foot meets the leg.

Bear was very generous to me this year, I got what is known by pen buffs as a 'grail' pen. That is a pen that one learns about and wants but can't afford or find straight away. Like most hobbies people who are into pens have a wish list, and this kind of pen was on my list. His gift was a Parker 51, Vacumatic from 1946, in Cedar Blue. There is several exciting things about this pen, first it is Vacumatic filling mechanism and it has a 'split arrow clip', with the blue diamond, and the cap has a 'stacked coin band'. For all sorts of reasons this pen was only made in this configuration for a few years, before the filling mechanism and clip style was changed, so this is kind-a-rare and so kind-of-valuable - but not to valuable to use. Having said that around 20 million Parker 51's were made in various forms and sold ... so this is just one of many. I'm a little embarassed as my gifts to him are still in transit, so I wrapped up the reviews and order confirmation and picked him up a copy of Pencils from UBS to tide him over until the post is delivered. It is entirely my fault - I left ordering until it was too late.

So we are home, for now, the warm sunny weather has been replaced by rain, and overcast sky's and more worryingly the weather forcast if for torrential rain and river flooding across much of the country ... so I think we will bunker in and relax with another slice of our home made Christmas cake.

take care
hope there is some relax with fibre time in your week
na Stella

Monday, December 20, 2010

Newest sock

Today's post - the latest sock, after a day or so ploughing thru the stitch dictionary books I have I found one that would work for a sock .. and made a start. So far so good. I've also sent away all of my Christmas stuff ... yesterdays effort was two trips to the post office. The first at 8:30am was quick, the second at 1:30pm involved queues out the door and considerable waiting. Still it is all done, all the new Zealand relies and friends have been shipped to, and two pens have gone away to be restored, one to Greg Minuskin to have the nib worked on, and a second to Gerry Berg to have its internals restored so it will fill and hold ink. Speaking of ink - the inks arrived yesterday .. and both Bear and I enjoyed dipping and swishing the new colours across paper. I think we are both a little overwhelmed by having 7 new inks to select from, on top of the eleven we already had. That stuff is just like yarn stash, addictive in all its colour choice. So today's post is about the new sock, new ink and that is about all.

So after a wee bit of time looking thru all those stitch dictionaries I decided on this pattern. There were several things going for this one, it wasn't lace and as this is for Bears sock that was a consideration. It is regular in that the repeats are easy to map out once you get going, and it looks both interesting and simple. It is Rib and Braid from page 201 of BW Second Treasury.

On the sock I briefly toyed with working the rib over the entire instep, but struggled with how to extend the braid right around the leg after the heel. So ... I split the braid into two columns and have decided to run one panel up each side of the instep, after the heel I can start a second panel next to these ones. It should work, but one thing I have learned about design is what seems good as an idea sometimes isn't quite right in reality .. so I'm prepared to modify the ideas as the sock grows. I realise that once washed and blocked the yarn will fluff and the cable will look fuller .. but perhaps the singles yarn isn't a good cable or twisted stitches yarn?

And Ink, as part of our treat order, Bear and I ordered two of our favorite inks in glass bottles (Diamine Pumpkin and Saddle Brown). These are dearer and larger than the plastic that is usually available, but some how glass seems more luxurious and traditional than plastic. Neither of us had had a good look at the glass bottles before for Diamine inks, but loved the old fashioned details of the bottles when we saw them. I just adore the mock bakerlite plastic cap - all mottled green, with the sunray glass bottle.

I also added a Waterman Encre Rouge Red to our collection, and while the bottle is glass not plastic it seems more modern that the glass one used for Diamine ink.

Bear pointed out something he has learned along the way. These faceted bottles are traditional for inks so one can tip them over and make filling pens easier once the ink level drops.... how cool is that?

.... take care
hope the weather where you are is as you want it, that being snowing where and when it should for Christmas effect and picnic weather where it should be (here)
na Stella

Thursday, December 16, 2010

When hobbies collide.

So I've been away from work for nearly a week, and have not much to show for it. Monday I went into work to help pack up the knitting machines. Work has many knitting machines, and most of staff have loaned one or more, I have loaned 3. We have limited space and more machines that we ever need so the idea was to tidy up, sort and prepare some for sale/donation. I thought I wanted at least one of mine back .. but after a day of matching beds to bits and checking all the bits were there, I realized I don't really like machine knitting. I like hand knitting .. so I was brave and helped and decided I wouldn't take one home. Tuesday was the 'end-of-school' picnic, and as I was on leave I went along and provided a picnic blanket and a swing tennis set and a large happy face ball. I knit on a sock, and some one asked what it was, Toby's teacher explained I knit socks, that he often wore 'home-made socks' and then said puzzled 'but home made socks doesn't sound right, those are two words that don't go together'. I didn't say anything but in my world those two words do go together. She also admired the other finished sock and expressed surprise that I had put in 'a heel and everything', mentioning that she thought they would be 'more tube-like'. A humble sock can inspire and surprise!

Wednesday I caught up on stuff around the house, hung out, folded washing, and ironed and then it was Thursday .... which went the same way with a bit of grocery shopping and today we woke to a dribbling cat, leaky tap kind of dribbling . .. so today has gone in a whirl of cat catching, cat boxing, and taking said cat to the vet. Turns out she is not well, but nothing specific yet, so she has been dosed with Antibiotics, Steroids, and Anti-nausea and is to return tomorrow to see if anything specific has manifested. That was the low point of the week, Yoyo really hates beign transported and fails to see it is for her own good. I dislike upsetting any person or animal, and the sound of her plaintive crying from inside the cat-box wasn't something I can easily ignore.

The highlight of my week was a book arriving and some fountain pen maintenance materials arriving with knitting toys to play with tucked inside, and even more exciting finding out that the six inks I had ordered were in the country and on their way (Noodlers Lexington Grey, Walnut, Air Corp Blue Black, Polar Blue, and replacements of Diamine Saddle Brown and Pumpkin). Some how there has been next to not much of my own knitting this week, I've finally finished yet again the spiral bound socks, and started new ones - and that is about it.

So arrivals, I've spent the week hovering over the postbox and back door hoping Bears Christmas present will arrive. It hasn't yet, it was a special request so I hope it does, but there was other mail. I had ordered a little packet of fine brass shim from a FPN member, David at Restorersart, and noticed on his profile he spun. As he put it Spinning (as in wool). I mentioned that I also spun and when he sent my brass shims he included a little packet of his stitch markers to try. These are really really cute ...and explains the blog post title, when hobbies collide, fountain pens and fibre stuff. And brass shim, you use it to floss between the tines of a fountain pen to clean it if the ink flow is a bit patchy or dry. Brass is apparently soft enough to remove crud but not damage the tines.
The other thing that arrived this week was Indie craft by Jo Waterhouse. I first saw this at knit night a few weeks ago and decided I needed my own copy - the cubs think its too bizarre, and won't look at it - but I like the yarn beards.

And the small amount of knitting this week? Well I finally cast off the second sock for the second time, that is three cast offs in total on two socks. I suspect they still don't match in length .. something odd going on with my estimation of lengths that I can't explain. I'm at the point I'm ignoring it, it might be so slight as to be imaginary - in which case nothing I do will fix it. I just have to weave the ends in .. and they are done.

Which meant a new sock, for Bear. This time in Zauberball, Ombre. So far I've knit a toe, quite blunt to fit bears paws .. and have some vague idea about a cable or similar pattern in twisted stitches running up each side ... I see a few nights with stitch dictionaries in my near future. That is always the fun part - planning.

Even though I've not been knitting much at all this week, smallest cub has. Not only has she been knitting she has been purling! All on her own! I'm trying not to scare her off with my excitement .. but I'm really pleased at what she has done. When I stitched up the blanket last weekend I played EZ workshop DVD in the background .. and after it small cub wanted to knit a hat just like on the DVD. We cast on together, after sorting yarn from the kids stash, and needles from her set ... and I showed her how to 2x2 rib. This is all her own work! Several rounds and the ribs all line up!

So .. I'll keep you all posted on Yo-yo, they didn't think it was dangerous but a leaky cat isn't something I'm keen to share my house with, small cubs are messy enough without the cat leaking.

take care - don't let the silly season get to you.
na Stella

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Premature casting off

is what I did this week, cast off before I should, and only because I didn't think things thru, I've also dug out an unfinished project and made progress. Friday was my last day at work until the 3rd of February - yes 6 weeks off, one week more than the cubs. Of course being work, and as we are moving into a new office in an existing building that is about to be renovated ... I will be back in Monday to help pack up some of the equipment. I will be using most of my leave this summer because I've moved offices 5 times in 10 years, and every time it has been into a space that was renovated for us. I've learned that its best to stay away until the builders and co have stopped making loud noises and the power is on and the IT people have every thing connected. I think that knowing I was about to walk away from work for 6 weeks made me relaxed about my knitting .... which is good until mistakes happen. My good news is that Toby's latest 'lost' sweater came home, finally from camp - and it still fits! That is always a danger with cubs, it seems to only take them a matter of weeks to outgrow some things.

Thursday I knit Spiral Bound sock number two until the leg was as long as the leg on number one, then I worked the few extra rounds where the stitch count is adjusted to fit a 2x2 rib .... and worked the rib and cast off, and woven in all the ends. Only thing is that second sock ended up being a full 1 cm or more longer than the first sock. Turns out that I should have worked the leg of the second sock until it was 5 rounds shorter than the leg of the first sock ... as there are 5 more rounds before the rib starts. Doh! So I've frogged the top of the first sock, seems to make more sense to lengthen the short one than shorten the longer one.

And as it is summer I realize that is the best time to block large blankets. Last time I blocked it outside with tent pegs, and it worked well. To do that again I need to take advantage of the warm sunny weather .. which is now or in the next month or so. To do that I need to finish the blanket. First stage is to piece it together and stitch it together.

I used a more firmly twisted darker grey yarn to stitch it up.The stitch I used to join it is simple whip stitch, just over and over and over, thru both loops of the chain edges.

One done, the blanket sections just ease and fit into each other.Once the seams were done, I wove in all the ends. This yarn is a 6 ply thick yarn, and it made sense to weave them in after the seams were sewn. I split the 6 plies into 2's and sneaked the yarn tails into the garter bumps as neatly as I could.

The next stage is to pick up the loops of the slipped stitches around the edge and work an I-cord edge. I've got matching yarn in natural white to work the edge on this blanket. Last time I did that after it was blocked .... I'm not sure what I'll do this time, depends on the weather really.

And despite the fact that it is 20+ degrees, warm and sunny and we have all the windows open .. I notice the blanket has already been snaffled from the sofa I parked it on to await the edging. Its nice when the stuff I make is liked, really nice.

take care
make sure you have some yarn time, and I highly recommend finished long abandoned WIP's, its like an instant project, a few hours work and then its all done :D
na Stella

Saturday, December 04, 2010

December ?

Its December .. the local shops are full of Christmas cheer, like most of the western world that means fake fir trees, fairy lights, and sparkly things that catch the light in the night time, which is seasonal for those with winter christmas's.E xcept in the shoppers that mill around are wearing sandels and have bare legs and short sleeves, and the sun sets latter and later - for it is summer here. I have one more week at work before my summer vacation begins, five days in which to pack up my desk and book case ready for the move to a new building 5km away, attend an all day professional development seminar, and attend our students graduation ceremony. Five days! I also have to get as much of the preparation ready for next years teaching as I can, I will be off work until 2 weeks before the students arrive so I know I will be flat tack once I start back. In that new office ... oh my - it dosn't bear thinking about does it. So I knit, and walk, I'm back on my feet, the swelling has gone, crutches parked by the door ready to return, and I'm mobile again.

There has not been a lot of knitting on any of my projects, the secret one grew by a repeat or two .... and the Spiral Bound sock is now part way thru the heel, I've worked the gusset increases and now I'm mid heel extension. The gold safety pin indicates progress since last I blogged. Once the heel flap is done ... it is only the leg to go and that is quick.

I added a book to my knit library during the week, Sweaters that talk back by Lisa Anne Auerbach (2008). I stumbled across a reference to this book on Ravelry, and between wanting to support some one working with knitting in a political way and liking her approach ... subversive knitting, I had to buy it. I'm not sure I'll ever knit something from the book exactly as charted .. and here in New Zealand the protest messages in her work are not so applicable, but I will be inspired, and I want to inspire my students.

With the last week at work in our current building looming I have been lugging home my library of books from the shelves behind my desk. As the architects planned the new spaces I measured my shelving, I have 4.7 m of fashion theory, design theory and pattern making books, including some of my knitting ones. There is probably double or triple that number at home. Work wants us to box up our office and label it and will move things for us, but I have moved 7 times in 11 years and each time something has been lost. This time I'm taking all my important stuff home. I warned Bear that for the next 2-3 months there will be a working library under the bed, its the only place I could think of to put them that was out of the way of foot traffic. These are mostly pattern making books, the construction and knitting ones are in a wheeled shopping trundler waiting for their turn to be brought home. The theory ones will come home last as I need those to plan lectures right up to the last days, so they need to be on the top of the pile. While I'm looking forward to the holiday's I can't help thinking the weeks just before and just after might drain me more than the holidays refresh me.

Oh well, such is life, the garden grows, I think I am pulling out more weeds than are growing, spinning is at my house this week, the sun shines the days are warm and life is good. I know life is good because while I was at home last week with my ankle up I took the time to enter in all the yarns that I had acquired that had not made it into my Ravelry stash list - that included my recent spinning. I added 21 new yarns and fibers to spin to my stash list .... slightly embarrassing really, to have so much, but better to have it listed where I can see it and be reminded of what I bought it all for.
Take care :D
na Stella

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

That wasn't in the plan for this week...

No, crutches were not in this weeks plan, but there they are. In all their ugliness (I think I might have to give them back with a some knitted sort of knitted graffiti cosy). I'm ok, not broken, just bruised, to recap, Friday I had a day off work because one my delightful cubs had brought home a combined tummy bug and head cold, Monday the tummy continued and Tuesday I stumbled and sprained my ankle. Of course I didn't notice immediately, I went to work, and after a walk for coffee and some lunchtime errand running around my ankle began to swell and hurt. By going home time I was sore, and so detoured via the Urgent Doctors to see if they could help. On a scale of 1-3 I apparently have a number 2 sprain, for which the current advised treatment is a ice 20 minutes on, 2 hours off, elevation, rest, firm compression bandage by day, none by night, 3 days with the foot elevated, then resume usual activity as able, massage after 72 hours. So far so good, but much less knitting than I would have expected .. when things hurt, well some how it distracts from the knitting. Oh and painkillers play havoc with my tummy .....which is an excellent reason not to become addicted to them.
but you are here for the knitting, and there is news .... good news, I am teaching at Handmade 2011, and registrations are open. I've had 3 proposals accepted, one as a workshop .. and we are in discussion over the others, one should be more of a lecture.

Last night I did work a little more on the second Spiral Bound sock. I'm mid way into the gusset, and so soon the magic of the heel will happen. I always like those little moments when a garment matures to a shape that looks like a garment.

Before I disabled myself I finished up plying what I had been spinning, now there is nothing on any of my wheels. Here I have the multi coloured yarn from the Scrappy swap, in all its glory. I Chain plied it to retain the colour shifts and whilst it is not a yarn I would have picked to buy .. it may have potential. There is 130g total, with a length of 198m, so DK-Aran weight? And I have no idea of the fibre content, I know I supplied a merino silk blend .. and some of the fibre was considerably coarser - but overall the yarn is light and softish. Next to it is a much nicer pink, Insilk Fingerwolle from Shoppel, sold by here by Vintage Purls. This is 70%Merino, 30% Silk blend sold as pencil roving to either knit as is on jumbo needles or spin. I spun 2 50g packets into 344m. I feel another small shawl/scarf might be the right use of this, it has that soft I want to snuggle my face into it feeling.

So I'm mending (my ankle not more knitted things), and no longer need the crutches, this weekend we have the smallest cubs ballet concert, all three shows so the weekend will be full.

take care,