Sunday, December 30, 2007

Tomorrow brings love in the shape of things

Remember this? Made with Grandma's handspun and some other bits and pieces.

Here is how it turned out.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Being good isn't always easy

Another iteration of the jewellery (or knitting notions) tray. I was just messing about, really, and the shape of the base was so simple I didn't bother to write down exactly what I did. It was refreshing to just forge ahead without taking notes.

The base is knitted and the sides and inner walls are crocheted. It's made from more gorgeous Happy Spider hand-dyed wool (I don't know the name of the colourway but it is a very bright blue with pinks) combined with a soft green, which I also used by itself for the crochet parts.

Update - that colourway is Sour Raspberry.

After felting I was really happy with the result and immediately cast on another, this time with blue. And it turned out that I didn't remember exactly what I had done - it came out a bit bigger.

Really, I'm going keep to telling myself: Always take notes.

Don't those colours blend nicely?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Build a time machine and go

I suppose there is no reason I should have been surprised. Say you knit most of an item, the kind of item that generally comes in pairs, and then put it aside for a year without noting the specific needles used, trusting to your knowledge of what seemed at the time the only possible correct needle size for the job. Say you then picked it up a year later, finished it off with different sized needles (by design) for the last part. It looked great. You washed it and it looked even better, and it seemed a good size too. So you embark on the second of the pair, reasonably sure of the needle size. Partway through you think it is coming out a bit... looser? Could your tension have changed? Do you need different needles after all? But you knit on through this minor doubt.

So then, do you have any right to be surprised when the second half of the pair, after its bath, is obviously - HUGELY - bigger than the first.

I'm still holding a little hope that it will shrink as it dries. I may even have blasted it with the hairdryer on hot just to help it along.

Also it's possible that the second one will be a better fit for the recipient, so at least I can be pretty sure I will be able to replicate it when I knit it again. Sigh.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Loving you... is it the right thing to do?

I knitted a tree. When I saw the Fun Fur Kitchmas Tree pattern I had a vision inspired by the Queen Victoria Building's enormous tree covered in Swarovski crystal ornaments. I know someone who is very very enamoured of that particular tree.

I sprung for a few Swarovski beads, including the star (actually a starfish) for the top, and the rest are faceted glass beads.

It's stuffed with wadding, and the base is crocheted over a cardboard circle. Looking at that picture makes me think of Press Gang, because that's what I was watching (straight through all five seasons, obsessively) at the time.

How crazily green is Canberra right now? It still feels weird to have rain.

When K saw me making this tree he had a vision too. In a lucrative business deal the shop had aquired a free 'Sea urchin light' - a battery-operated star shaped light on a stand. A bit odd really. But build a fluffy tree around it and suddenly it all comes together.

Yes that is a lot of star relative to tree. The size of the tree was limited by the height of the stand.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

She's so beautiful now, she doesn't wear her shoes

This afternoon I dropped in to visit my sister and to hand over the socks I made for her. She was a bit confused about how to wear them. But she's a clever girl and I'm confident she'll figure it out by the time the weather is next cool enough to wear wool socks.

Fortunately, our other sister did a better job of modelling one of the socks earlier this week.

It's Opal Prisma, from the Bead and Opal Wool Queen. And the circus stripes really suit this girl.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Could make you want to stay awake at night

Donna Lee noted the uncanny resemblance of this blue felted dish to a cat food bowl. Unfortunately I don't have a cat, but my dogs are always very happy to take their food from any receptacle on offer.

Today I got my sister started on some felting. I had to demonstrate how rough you can be - in fact, have to be - with your knitting. She has knit two big rectangle pieces out of Sean Sheep Armytage, her first knitting since we were kids, and plans to cut them up into coasters.

This wool felts pretty quickly, and it was so cool to see her excitement when she could feel and see the change happening. That's why I love felting by hand.

For a quick break in between bigger gift projects, the other night I tried out some of Grandma's handspun for a pod. Grandma's wool is bright green and gold plied together, switching to bright blue and gold. The switch happened right in the middle of the pod, I didn't manipulate that. For a second strand I used a softer green (Panda Carnival) and then a softer blue (Sean Sheep Spirit), hoping it will all blend nicely with felting.

I must be really feeling the green in a big way right now. Aside from the new pod (which is actually greener than it appears in that picture), two of my gift projects are green, and I am swatching some green totem for a 'somewhere down the track' project (dying to start now... but too many things on the boil). And then there are these new aquisitions. NO IDEA what I will do with them, I bought them this week from The Potty Knitter out of curiosity. Above, banana fibre. And below, recycled yarn. A beautiful combination of fine strands of different fibres and colours, though not spun together so I will have to knit carefully on blunt needles, I think.

Monday, December 03, 2007

How do they get the grainy bits SO soft?

(They.... hit 'em with a hammer I expect.)

For some reason it makes me think of an ashtray. I wish I had taken time to make the sides a good bit higher. Cleckheaton Merino Supreme felts beautifully, in spite of its 20% acrylic content.

I was interested to see that the garter stitch ridges stuck it out through the felting, only partially subdued. Not quite the effect I was going for. With other wools I have gotten garter stitch to go flat. Felting is just unpredictable.

(I reckon an elephant sits on 'em)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Kid you not

I have been going to a Pilates class all year. I seriously hated it at first. But I was pretty sure it would be good for me with my poor posture. I think there are some changes but it's pretty slow. The exercises can be subtle and it takes a long time to seem to improve.

But from both Pilates and Posture & Flexibility I have found the child's pose. It's a yoga move, actually, but I've never done yoga. In these classes it's a rest after certain exercises, and a counterpose to anything that bends the spine back the other way.

I heard myself the other day saying to a friend, "I'm pretty laid back, really. Yeah, definitely laid back".

Well..... I am, and I'm not. I try not to let things surprise or phase me too much. The things that people might expect to shock or worry me, don't always.

But. There are times that I swallow a lot to be so 'laid back'. And yes, perhaps the odd time I let it out at home.

It's not a deliberate strategy I've adopted, it just happens - I do the child's pose in my mind. A little comforting image of curling down and hiding out.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

We're living in the future and none of this has happened yet

Here is a little sectioned bowl that came into my head this morning and off the needles this afternoon. (Large gauge = instant gratification). Cleckheaton Merino supreme, garter stitch base and the rest crocheted. To be felted.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I just want to hear some rhythm

In very exciting news, Leah made a pod from my pattern. Has anyone else tried it?

I've only done a little felting recently.

This has been in my head for ages, and to be honest it looked a bit better there than it does in real life.

It's beautiful hand-dyed wool that Happy Spider gave me, ages ago - deemed a bit too scratchy to sell with all the gorgeous stuff on her ebay store.

I started with a rectangle in wide ribbing (6x1? something like that).

Then I swapped needles for hook and crocheted around the perimeter, down the ribbed stripes, and across to make little compartments.

Before I felted it I thought hard about whether it needed another round of crochet (I think I did two) around the outside. I opted for laziness and hoped that felting would pull it all together. I should have known better.

Still, it is functional, and a better option for the jewellery in high rotation than that classy cigar box lined with tissue paper. It's easier and quicker to find what I want - all the plain studs are in one compartment, for example. I do have a jewellery box, but it's not that accessible, and ends up being full of stuff I'm keeping for various reasons but don't wear.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

There is always more to say

Nick Seymour

Neil Finn

There were two support acts for Crowded House, and we arrived to hear only the last couple of songs from The Walls, a band from Dublin. As soon as the house lights came up I pulled out my knitting. I had managed to cast on the toe for a second sock earlier in the evening, at a cafe while waiting for my pizza to arrive. I don't always carry knitting, it depends what I'm working on, plus some social situations suit it better than others. Luckily DJZ is pretty sympathetic. And these socks are going to my sister, who, while we were living it up, was staying at my house to look after the dogs. Dogs who are used to sleeping on the bed and who complain loudly if they are excluded (I know, I know). So I was quite motivated to churn out this sock.

The guy sitting next to me was puzzled at all the sticks and asked "is that knitting?" I usually hate small talk but somehow continuing to knit made it easier to do the right thing and chat a bit - have you seen Crowded House before, that kind of thing. It seems strange, maybe even sad, when you think about it, to be in a big room elbow-by-elbow with all these people who know and love the same music, and yet not connect with any of them. I don't tend to chat with or seek to meet new people much, but sometimes I do feel bad about it and I often ponder these sorts of things. I really value my privacy and my own headspace. When you're in a confined space for an extended time it can be a big risk to make contact - what if it turns out to be annoying? Dangerous? Just tiring? Or even, what if you really like them, and then at the end of the event you just leave, like you never met?

(I'm really risk averse, can you tell?)

This conversation was benign enough. Except for when the lights went out for the main event and he said in an obnoxious sing-songy voice: "You'll have to stop knitting now!" Really? Sheesh.

The second support was Augie March. Earlier this year I saw them at Womadelaide (twice, actually - sis is a bit of a fan) and I noted a little sneery rock star attitude which put me offside a bit. It was something about playing their huge hit "One crowded hour". This time it couldn't have been more different. They were clearly nervous, and hugely honoured to be supporting Crowded House on a big stadium tour. This was a little surprising from a band that has been around so long, but perhaps that's why they're so keen for bigger/more mainstream exposure. Unless it was very successful sarcasm and I missed it. Don't think so. Anyway I still think they're pretty interesting and really should borrow a CD or two from sis.

Finally, here's the set list grabbed from this thread

Private universe
World where you live
Dont stop now
Fall at your feet
Whispers & moans
English trees
Heaven that I'm making
Love you till the day I die
Silent house
Dont dream it's over
Pour le monde
Walked her way down
When you come
Distant sun

Locked out
Something so strong
Weather with you

Four Seasons in one day
Italian plastic
Better be home soon

Blurry Arty Neil Finn

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

And somebody beside you slipped your head inside the crown

Ooh, I saw Crowded House at the Sydney Entertainment Centre on Monday night; the first Australian show of their reunion tour. And I feel like I almost owe an apology to all the people I talked to beforehand when I was playing it cool. I thought I was happy enough to go but not really that fussed. I was wrong. Damn they were awesome and I love those guys.

I couldn't really understand why they had reformed after so much time, and after Paul's death two years ago. The new album was underwhelming at first, but had grown on me. I was also maybe a little bit too familiar with the album versions of all their old hits. I hadn't listened to the live album in ages, and forgot how great they are live (still; again). Of course Paul leaves big goofy shoes to fill, but having seen the show, I can't begrudge the guys another go as a band.

Our seats were right around the side of the stage. It was a much better view than being way up high; the only disadvantage was that one ear/side of the head gets noise-blasted disproportionately. Of course there were big crowd sing-alongs for 'Don't dream it's over' and 'Better be home soon'. I think my faves were 'Whispers and Moans' and 'Italian Plastic'.... oh and lots of others. Sadly no 'Sister Madly' though. After about the second song I leaned over to DJZ sitting next to me and predicted there would be two encores. I was right. (not that hard).

Downloads from US leg of the tour are available here. I hope they'll do the same for the Australian tour as well.

Monday, October 29, 2007

My expectations may be high, I blame them on my youth

I want to show you two things my sister has made for me. The bag was a gift last year, and more recently she presented me with this gorgous fabric-covered notebook. The cover is removable so that when the notebook is full I can replace it.

These were totally separate gifts but I had to photograph them together as they turned out to be quite complementary. The notebook cover combines embroidery, applique and fabric pen drawings.

I always loved the bag but recently started using it a lot more because it has a long strap and is a good shape to wear across my body. I am avoiding shoulder bags these days to try to relieve some pesky neck pain. This also fits in with my broader quest to improve my posture.

And I see now that I will have to get another photo of the bag, because you can't really see the embroidered caravan on it (the button is its wheel). The lining is silk - I think it might have been a scarf.

It's got my name on it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

the days are long where I come from

My old dino mate at the Queensland Museum.

This morning I had one of those close-to-waking dreams which can feel like you're really just thinking about something, rather than actually dreaming. I was preparing to take a trip to Brisbane for a few days and then on to a couple of different overseas destinations. There were difficulties with what to pack, where to stay, and then how to find the right departure gate in a large unfamiliar airport. Worst of all, I couldn't work out why I was taking this trip, but it was all arranged, an unstoppable force that I had to go along with.

Once I woke properly, it was such a relief to realise that trip wasn't real. Obviously it's a good thing I haven't got any more travel planned this year.

There's a new Flickr set for my not-so-recent Brisbane trip (end of Sept). I didn't manage to get any worthwhile shots in Melbourne last week.

Honestly, I am such a homebody. It hasn't been that much by many people's standards: a long weekend in Brisbane in July; a ski trip a week or so after that; another Brisbane long weekend in September, and four days in Melbourne last week. Amongst that, a busy time here in Canberra too, with some lovely things like weddings and visits from family and friends. Oh yeah and a bit of extra stuff at work. It's ninety per cent good; just, enough.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I went to a flower festival and saw some beanies

Last Sunday I went to Floriade to look at the flowers.

Then I went again on Wednesday to get a look at those beanies. A touring exhibition from the Alice Springs Beanie Festival was one of the attractions at Floriade. I read about the festival in an earlier issue of Yarn magazine and thought it sounded fantastic.

I really loved this exhibition. I knew I wanted to see it, but I didn't necessarily expect to find it so inspiring. The beanies were made by indigenous women and whitefellas from many parts of Australia, and a few from overseas too (Japan). The majority were crocheted, often with 3 or 4 strands of something like 8ply held together - obviously a useful technique in the speed beanie contests that are part of the festival. There were many felted and mixed media beanies, and a few knitted ones too. I loved the range of techniques and subjects, from simple, symbolic, figurative, whimsical, and comical. It was obvious that the beanie festival doesn't take itself too seriously, though the organisers are certainly proud of the way it brings people together, and highlights and promotes (mostly women's) textile work.

This beaded beanie was made by nuns - the Little Sisters of Jesus in Yuendumu, in the Northern Territory.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Take hold of the wheels and turn them around

In years gone by, Grandma used to do a lot of spinning. But not in the past few years, as she doesn't knit much any more, especially since she moved from Tasmania to Queensland with its much more tropical climate.

Recently my uncle requested a vest from handspun and grandma got out the electric spinning wheel once again. She quickly reported that when she did a little spinning at night, she could do without the usual sleeping tablet. This was great news, and I rapidly recognised a win-win situation. I sent some Ewe Give Me The Knits Moroccan nights merino fibre her way, asap.

I'm not sure this photo really does it justice. The colours are amazing and it is so light and soft. I don't know yet what I will make with it, but for now I am enjoying it sitting in a bowl on top of the heater.

But do you think grandma stopped there? No, she did not. She aquired a bunch of wild colours and really went to town. The peach colour she even dyed herself. I think some of this might be destined for felting projects.

All of this came home from Brisbane with me on Monday. It's lucky I had some space left in my suitcase. Oh, and I've already had a message asking what colour I would like next!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

or whatever will bewilder me

This is the little bowl for Aunty M to go with the earlier bigger one. A good place to throw jewellery when you take it off at night - must make one for me, actually.

Avant feutring, avec chien.

Recently I discovered that these bowls take a different shape when turned inside out after felting. In this case I wasn't sure which way was better, and left it to my aunt to decide if she wants a shallower or deeper bowl.

In these weird closeup photos you can see the difference in the height each way.