Wednesday, May 31, 2006

And you feel real guilty about the coat on your back

Hello, and welcome to sacred Wednesday. The hot water is out, so I can't shower or wash my hair. Well, some of us are braver than that with the cold water but not me. What I can do it knit a hat.

Forget baby knitting, this hat for Kam is the quickest and most satisfying knit ever. That's assuming that when he comes home and tries it on, it fits. (But I did some measuring and the maths so I'm optimistic). Isn't it funny how these crafts like sewing and knitting used to be basic essential skills for getting through life. Now machine-made and/or imported hand-made stuff is so cheap that hand-making clothes or household goods is a leisure activity. It's partly because the labour of people in third-world countries is 'worth' so much less than mine, that it is a luxury for me to take the time to knit things. Even this hat which was only a few hours' work, could be bought for a lot less than what I get paid in three hours. Although, it might not be exactly what I wanted, and that's one good reason for making things yourself.

Of course, my knitting labour time probably can't be considered to be worth as much per hour as my real-world work time. Still, I always think of my "day off" - though I don't like to call it that - as a luxury. It is a luxury that I can earn enough in four days to give myself more time to do the things I want to do. Of course plenty of people in my situation wouldn't think that was enough money. But for now, I certainly do.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Write your letters in the sand

Behold, my first knitted garments. It still spins me out that you can do all this with just sticks and string. The pattern for the vest came from one of Little Sister's op shop finds, 'Make your own Handicraft Gifts' by Sheila Richardson and Eve Harlow, published 1975.

I loved the soft orange (Patons Dreamtime 4ply baby wool) but was worried that it might not work with much else in Nephew's wardrobe, so I picked out this stripey shirt to go with it. Turns out it looks fine with many of his baby boy blue clothes and it fits too.

There was no guarantee of that, not like there ever would be, but especially so since the pattern was sized only for a newborn. I threw caution to the winds and threw in some extra width and length to approximate a 6-month size. The cream one doesn't look all that much smaller, though I made it to the original size in the book, for a friend's baby due right about now.

I also wanted to (finally) learn how to knit in the round on double pointed needles, so I cast on some leftover in the cream. The first time it came out about tennis ball sized. I didn't really know what size I was going for, but I suspected that if baby's heads came out tennis-ball-sized, childbirth just wouldn't be such a big deal. So I pulled it out early and cast on again with a few more stitches. It's surprisingly hard to estimate from a straight line of stitches, or even a square once they're on the dpns, what size circle you're going to end up with. This is an example of why knitting almost always ends up involving maths.

Also yet another example of the magic of blocking and finishing techniques. When the hat came off the needles I was not at all sure I had something that could actually be given to someone. My stitches were uneven, especially sloppy at the turning points between the needles, and the decreases made a pointy, puckering effect. I spent a while poking a needle into various spots to redistribute the yarn to hide the loosey goosey stitches, then threw it in a bucket of warm soapy water to soak for a while. It looked a bit better after drying, but it was a heavy dose of steam from the iron that really smoothed it all out.

I have no idea at what age it will fit, and it's still gappy so may be more of an indoor than an outdoor hat, but I sent it off with the cream vest anyway. I can see why people like knitting little, finishable baby clothes so much. Very satisfying.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Sound of their breath fades with the light

This is St Patrick's Basilica in Fremantle. And, the moon.

I was very taken with the gates (click for bigger). We talked about how cool it would be to pose behind those figures for some photos. But the gates were locked and also, we were respectful of authority.

Monday, May 08, 2006

She's actual size but she seems much bigger to me

Tonight my parents dropped in to return my car. I think I had the TV a bit loud and Elvis and Mia didn't hear the car in the driveway, nor the gate opening. Mum's sudden presence in the kitchen was trested as a Serious Threat to the security of their supply of Meaty Bites. It's possible the thinking was that she had a Dangerous Kitten stashed in her handbag. When someone arrives they normally only bark for a short time and usually only until the guest condescends to bend down and say hello.

Dad arrived a short time after Mum, and was teasing them by sitting down on the steps and peering around the door, and then they shifted from terror level orange to full red alert. This involves a lot of barking, some seriously hilarious growling, and some very threatening running around to hide behind me or jump on my lap - while still growling. It didn't help that I couldn't really speak sternly to them or talk much at all, because I was too occupied with shaking with hysterical laughter. (Way to train and control your dogs, I know). When Elvis growls it's like being menaced by a particularly cute and animated teddy bear.

Manic? more like soporific

Last weekend included free comics and a wet game of soccer and a very cold spell on the sideline (when I came back on the rain had stopped but I felt like an icicle trying to run). Speaking of soccer, earlier this evening we caught the end of that SBS show with the song competition for the Socceroos tilt at the World Cup. K concluded that any song, no matter how good, was probably still going to sound a bit silly, just because the name 'Socceroos' is so silly. Which it is.

When you think about it, having 'soccer' as part of the name seems like it has got to cost us some credibility, since it's simply football in most parts of the world where the game is played. Not that I'm the type to ponce around insisting on calling it 'football' - here in Australia it's soccer, no worries. But I think our top representatives could do with a better name.

Did anyone else have Mondayitis today? It was sunny and cold in Canberra today and heading on down to
-2 tonight. Don't know if this will help. It's from my visit to Perth in March, taken on a walk to Trigg beach from my sister's place in Scarborough.

Trigg steps, originally uploaded by Olma.

Monday, May 01, 2006

I found my soldier girl, she's so far away. She makes my head spin around

capelet, originally uploaded by Olma.

You might remember me rabbitting on some time ago about a project I'd been wanting to knit for a long time, and a painful process of knitting and then unknitting to remove mistakes, and wondering if I was really ready for this project. This is what it was, a lacy shawl for my sister. Of course it's not exactly what I had originally envisioned. My envisioning abilities being what they are (kind of fuzzy), it's possible that it's nothing (or then again, everything) like what I had envisioned. I mean, it's the right colour and it's lacy and soft and light. I think it was going to be longer.

I'm not sure if it was supposed to be more complicated. It's quite simple, a big rectangle in star stitch, with smaller blocks of garter stitch to add interest (and make the wool go further). The wool is anny blatt 'fine kid'.

The weather was pretty hot when I gave it to her, and first she displayed it in the living room for a few days.

on boxes
Originally uploaded by Olma.

Finally we had a cooler day and she seemed pretty keen to wear it. I was pleasantly surprised to see how it seemed to fit sort of like a capelet. That's her own lovely brooch. We went out for a while, even had an extensive photo shoot back home, before realising she actually had it on inside out. But really, it looked just fine that way. In the rest of the photos here it's around the 'right' way.

even ok insideout
Originally uploaded by Olma.

close arm, originally uploaded by Olma.

Originally uploaded by Olma.

Knitters seem to be always going on about the magic of blocking. Especially for lace projects. Although this stitch is not quite as open as a typical lace pattern, it still needed to be stretched out into the proper shape, looking pretty scrungy when it came off the needles.
Originally uploaded by Olma.

Originally uploaded by Olma.

I hand washed it gently and then spent ages trying to pin it out evenly, which didn't work too well, because the pins give it a scalloped edge unless you use about, oh, a thousand per side. Then I conceived a plan using tiger tail (jewellery wire) threaded through each edge to keep it straight. By the time I had this system worked out, the shawl had almost dried, so I had to wet it and start again.

Of course, I wouldn't want anyone to mistake this for a machine knit product, but it's okay because I included a 'design irregularity'. It wasn't until the second time blocking session that I noticed a cute (and quite obvious) little region where the star stitch pattern strayed into the garter stitch area. Somehow I decided I could live with it.