Sunday, January 27, 2013

Unscheduled holiday

Appears that I've had a blogging holiday, completely I scheduled, and lovely. No blog in two weeks, not really sure why - I've been on leave from work with both cubs underfoot. Although the elder cub was officially measured by our family doctor at 179cm tall, and still growing. That's just under six feet for the non-metric amongst you. I'm only 172 on a good day ... So he towers above me and yet oddly can still be under foot. We have had play dates, and school shopping, uniform shopping as elder cub is off to high school this year, official uniform and timetabled days, a variety of subjects and new teachers for us both to get to know. He starts tomorrow, younger cub In a week. Bear decided we needed a proper holiday so this past weekend we headed out for two days in the tourist mecca of Otago, Queenstown. Fantastic sunny days and warm nights, and fabulous meals. Even some knitting and souvenir yarn!
New thing

This is the newest thing on the needles, a purple strip. There is no pattern, just a case of guess, cast on, knit some, rip some, knit some, rip some ...again and again until it I liked it. This is a skein of 200 grams merino, alpaca, angora from the Milton mill factory shop. There is a need for purple, and long ....I decided the edges needed to be moss stitch to boarder a narrow lace,with a matching grand at the end. The lace is direct from Barbara Walker, horseshoe lace, page 209, the treasury of knitting patterns (volume 1).
Here is the first trial, I had gone shopping for purple yarn, in Aran weight, and found nothing I liked in a natural fibre, only acrylic. Buying yarn is not something that should be done in a hurry, as i settled on two balls of this, I tried to convince myself that this was purple, even to the point of asking people to confirm it was purple. Well blue, they would say, but it is a purple kind of blue isn't it i would ask. Ok they would say hesitantly - in that I will agree with the crazy knitter to keep the peace voice my family have.
I only had 100 grams of this, and the replacement yarn comes in 200grams, so my other worry about having enough to do want I plan has faded.
Before we headed away I had made some progress on the first sleeve of my cardigan, i am up to the ribbing at the cuff! I would have loved to knit this while away but travel knitting from a cone of yarn is not as simple as travel knitting from a center pull ball.

The other new project is the frog pond socks, which grow. But as the pattern is totally charted, and I am working the chart on my ipad (using knitcompanion) this was eliminated as travel knitting. I love my ipad, and I love how easy charts Are to follow in knit companion, but knitting in the sun from a reflective screen isn't ideal. There is a lot of squinting to 'see' the frogs in the lace, but the flare of their flipperey feet and the bend of long froggy legs are very clearly hinted at.
I also managed to sign up for another season of vintage purls sock yarn club ... A wee treat to look forward to.
Take care, stella

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

New year - new socks

You will be pleased to know tht Frances has claimed her socks, and for the second post in a row the main subject will again be socks. This year seems to be off to a slow start knit wise, I've been plugging along on some previously abandoned WIPs, a 100th anniversary EX shawl that I started ages ago to fill a gap on the needles, I'm ignoring the sanquhar mitts that I startd in February of 2012, and my latest cardigan has half a sleeve ... and languishes in the knit basket beside my chair. That all changed last night when peeking at my ravelry 'friends' recent activity I came across a pair of socks Ode to frogs and the frog pond by Adrienne Fong. Well the idea of knitting socks within frogs on them was just too tempting. I dug around for greenish frog coloured yarn, found some, bought the pattern, wound the skein into a neat center pull ball on my nostephinne, and cast on. This past week has also had spinning, and drawing distractions ... which I will explain.
Here we are, Top down, not my usual toe up, and I've not even thought about reverse engineering the pattern. The green is more grey blue, but I know intellectually that frogs come in many shades, not just bright frog green so this will do. Knit on some new favorite needles, knit pro/knit picks carbon fiber circulars ... Nice.
This was what I was knitting before I was distracted, I had resumed knitting on my Red Berry Pi, a circular shawl based in the pi principles developed for knitting by Elizabeth Zimmerman. This pattern is by Mwaa Knit, and is free, released to celebrate 100 years of EZ, way back in 2010. I was late to the celebrations as I only cast on in 2012. Maybe this will be my 100 year shawl? When I picked this up after Christmas after a several month break from knitting it I had no idea where in the repeats I was ... So frogged back to the previous increase ring. Turns out I was somewhere in the midst of working the 288 stitch ring. I've now completed that ring and have just startd on the 576 stitch ring. That is slow going instead of one or two four round repeats a night I manage two rounds .... I'm easily distracted but realize that if I abandon this again I will forget just where I am again.
There has been some spinning, I'm now 3/4 of the way through my current sock yarn project. Three bobbins done, one to go , then ply and finish and store away for the next Handspun sock project.

With all that going on my latest cardigan languishes, contiguous tempest, needing only half a sleeve and another full sleeve. The weather has been so warm and summery that knitting a merino possum silk cardigan seems the last thing I should do.

I'm still on leave, another week or so to go, and while I 'should' be doing lots of chores around the house I have spent a lot of time relaxing and doing creative things like Bookbinding. I tell myself that lots of bookbinding practice is required to prepare to teach at Unwind, and drawing. That I tell myself is because I am booked into a three day workshop on printmaking at the art school next month. I'd love to feel more confident in visually communicating my thoughts and ideas without words, heck - I'd love to be more confident with words. I've also put my hand up to up-skill on visual note taking, as part of a my 'professional development' for 2013. Doing that means spending a lot more time recording the world and ideas visually rather than verbally ... A scary thought as I usually reassure my students that if I can work in design with drawings that look like maimed stick figures they don't have to be scared of showing me their drawings.
To psych myself up for printmaking and for undertaking a drawing course I went hunting for easy ways to Improve my drawing and my drawing confidence. I hunted out library books and looked at loads of how to draw videos online. Then I came across WetCanvas, a forum not unlike ravelry but for artists, where there is a virtual classroom. I've lurked, and read and read and signed up to work my way through drawing 101, a serries of 30+ online self paces classes that aim to improve drawing from real life. I'm learning new terms like RL, short for real life, and I'm having fun.
I'm up to class five, drawing spheres, and I'm spending a huge amount of time lost in sketching and drawing instead of gardening or knitting. This is fun, I'm not perfect, and luckily I can see most of the mistakes I've made once I've finished and walked away. I hope to develope the skill of seeing mistakes and errors whilst I'm working ... That would be nice. I've set up a slopped drawing board, and gathered together a range of pencils, erasers, blue tack, and I'm drawing. Not sketching but really drawing, taking time to polish, refine and render the things I'm drawing. Here are things I've found around my house. None of these are perfect but they are improving, and i am drawing freehand. I'm aware that I find simple shapes less of a challenge, people, faces, hands and complex things like that scare me silly, probably always will but who knows perhaps this course will combat my fear of drawing complex things like people?
Each of the classes covers a principle, skill, or technique used in drawing, and asks the student to draw things from their environment to develop proficiency with that skill or technique or principle. Then several images are supplied, as either photos or drawings and the student is asked to draw them for themselves. Many many students have gone before me, each posting work for critique by rather considerate and encouraging, insightful volunteer tutors. After looking at the work of those who have gone before, reading comments and observing I am able to take my time and prepare my own interpretation of the excercise photos. For this class on spheres, one of the examples is a solitary eye 'borrowed' from a photo by Man Ray titled 'tears'. The process isn't quick, a drawing takes hours (as does knitting), and for me involves multiple sketches to develope the proportions before transferring my best lines to a new sheet of paper and working on a final drawing. And the critiques are honest, so if the proportions are odd, or the lines confused - the comments will say that. And it's very much hand held, someone guides you through seeing what needs to be drawn and how to do that. The course is a great confidence builder .... Knowing that if I slowdown and take my time I can achieve something like this is an amazing feeling of achievement. If you a keen, there is a process to follow, after joining wetcanvas you introduce yourself and post an image of a recent drawing you have done of something challenging, until you have done this the classes are closed to you. That is scary, posting a 'before' photo, before doing any classes to improve ... But so worthwhile.
So take care, please excuse the drawing content on my knit blog, and forgive me for being distracted, I'm sure it will pass and knitting will be back in pole position very soon.
Na stella

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Would the new owner of these socks please

let me know where to send them. Frances I'm looking directly at you, and the rest of this post is an open letter to you. I know they are not bubble socks, I really really wanted to supply you with a pair of your very own effervescent bubble filled socks, but this yarn just didn't want to be bubbles, it wanted to be something else and the yarn fought me all the way up half a foot. For a while there you fewer going to get boulder socks, not bubble socks, Eventually I gave in, and let the yarn speak have its way.
Of course I blame the yarn, it's handspun, so has a mind of its own. I know that clever spinners like you are totally the boss of the yarn you make, but I'm not quite there yet. As you will note, the socks are fraternal twins, and I simply can't keep them. Put bluntly they don't fit me, and require someone with delicate small and sensible feet like you. The fiber was a beatiful hand dyed 100grams of sock pencil roving, in grey green, grey, and a touch of mauve. I spun it fine, not as fine as you would have I'm sure but i'm me not you, then I plied and plied again to produce a four ply cabled yarn. I am rather pleased with how the colours sometimes lined up given the spin, ply and re-ply nature of making this sort of yarn.
The fibre was of course supplied by Morag of Vintage Purls, and should you fail to arrange shipment of your new socks ... I will have no recourse but to speak to Morag and see if I can have these secreted into the next shipment of contraband supplies that heads your way from casa Vintage Purl.
These socks are part of a larger master plan hatched by local Dunedin knitters to give you no reason or excuse to not move to Dunedin, with these you can't possibly get cold feet. I've even reinforced not only the heel flap but the heel cup with slipped stitches, all the better to cushion your feet and withstand wear and tear while you work at the lathe and bench.
I've left Yoyo guarding the socks, so they are safe, for now. Please bear in mind that Yoyo is old, elderly almost for a cat, she has been around for over over 15 years, and it would be mean to leave her on guard for too much longer wouldn't it? Spinning is at my house on Monday, and I'm not sure Yoyo is up to defending these socks from local spinners, some of whom have small, perfectly formed and functional feet like yours. However if you supply your postal address, I'm sure I can bag these up and have them sent away before the spinners arrive, thus saving wee Yoyo the duty of care Monday night.
And no, I'm not passive aggressive, why do you ask?
Na Stella