Thursday, June 21, 2007

Please to dance round for the one called the greenman


Well. Tonight I cooked a truly dreadful curry. My worst meal in a very long time, maybe ever. I don't know exactly what went wrong, though I think I must have modified a few too many elements from my standard procedure. To add insult to injury, the thing I've been mucking about with the last couple of days does not seem to be working out, unsurprising given that it was an impulsive attempt with pretty inappropriate yarn.

I am/was planning to wear it layered over a long-sleeved top. I'll give it one more chance to work out. Right now it is in time out. If I can make the concept work I might invest in a small amount of something luxurious (a silk blend?) to knit it again.



I do, however, have laurels to rest on. Sherwood (from Knitty) is done, and handed over, and what's more, a very good fit.

I had my sister measure one of his size 2 jumpers - still a little big for him at 18 months - and the dimensions corresponded with size 4 in the Sherwood pattern. I think I got gauge with the new Paton's Merino Totem - I admit I didn't bother with a gauge swatch, but I did take the body off the needles after a decent chunk was done, and gave it a good soaking so I could check gauge. I thought if anything it was going to be a bit too big and therefore good for next winter.


I owe a debt of gratitude to Julie for her perfectly timed post on substituting yarns which lead to the decision to add some length - after discussion with some of my S n B buddies. Sherwood is written for an 80% cotton blend so I figured it would be likely to stretch a bit longer than 100% wool, even if it looked like I was getting the right row gauge. I actually added almost half as much length again as the pattern called for (so I can't have been getting correct row gauge, surely) and it has turned out pretty much perfect for him right now. The sleeves have a bit of growing room but the body just might be too short for next winter. That doesn't worry me, as he really needed it right now - it's getting really cold and he loves to be outside as much as possible.

Anyway it's a lovely pattern and I would do it again. It's all knit in the round so there is minimal finishing and no bulky seams. The charts are quite easy to follow, though everyone who glanced at them casually thought they were very complicated! (They aren't - I have very little chart experience and I was fine) The sleeves are picked up and knit down, making it easy to customise the length. The ribbing in the 8 ply wool I chose might be too warm for indoor wear - remember it was written for 80% cotton 20% wool - but it's a really nice warm jumper for cold climates.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Make a little space, make a better place


Today we have two builders in the kitchen, replacing the entire bench surface in order to fix a small spot of fire damage.

The kitchen was only renovated in late 2004, about two years prior to the stove-top fire incident. It is astounding to discover that the whole bench top has to be chucked. It's almost all in one piece but even the separate piece goes too, as they couldn't match the surface. And apparently there's no acceptable way to repair the damaged spot. What an insane waste of effort and materials. I would have been perfectly happy with a little bit of not-quite matching laminate stuck on the spot. But then I'm a bit of a grot and cheap to boot. And it's not my house.

The good news is the owner's insurance is fully covering the cost and we don't have to pay an excess. They are repainting the kitchen too, as there are smoke marks that don't come off.

Mia had happy fun times when she found some interesting grot back there after the dishwasher was pulled out.

Yes, in that renovation we scored a dishwasher and I love it a little more than is healthy for an inanimate object. Incidentally, there is also a little melted/scorched spot on the top of the dishwasher. It's unfortunate for her, but in a way I'm actually glad that the owner's insurance didn't cover replacement of the dishwasher too - because it is considered to be 'contents', and she only has house insurance. If that happened and the dishwasher was to be disposed of, I probably would have tried to buy it. Not just because of the aforementioned love, but because it's awful to see things disposed of so easily.

We were very lucky that our little stove top fire, while scary, (and wow, so stinky) did not get out of control and did little damage. But can I put a little suggestion out there? If something does catch fire in the kitchen, and you would like to alert any other people in the house, try shouting "Fire!" Yelling out your choice of swear words loudly might lead other people in the house to think that you merely dropped a pan of food on the floor or something like that. And they might stay away to avoid adding fuel to your frustration. Instead of rushing in with fire-fighting assistance.

Monday, June 18, 2007

I'm more laid-back than you... will ever be


Yesterday I got about a third of the way to the bus-stop (the further one) when the possibility that maybe the iron was still turned on entered my brain. I know from experience that I almost never forget to turn it off. And the last time I did forget was a really long time ago.

And yet, (ugh) I still have to go through the painful process, whether it's on the way to the bus stop with no time to spare going back, or once I'm actually on the bus, of trying to specifically remember turning it off that morning.

I seem to be getting worse as I get older. I notice it most times I leave the house, when I drive away too, a brief flare of anxiety that has to be consciously calmed. "What have I forgotten? OK, I shut and barred the gate so the dogs are safe, I didn't even use the iron this morning, nor the stove, so everything's off that should be off. Fine, proceed."

I've been trying for a while, with some sucess, to take a deliberate mental snapshot when I unplug the iron after using it. I say to myself, "Ï'm turning the iron off now" and actually look at the empty socket, in the hope that I will confidently remember later instead going through the painful wondering.

Ah well. It's not obsessive-compulsive behaviour until I actually have to go back to check. Several times. But I can see where the slippery slope might begin.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Don't want to pay for it

Sad news. The red lace scarf that I made for my sister has gone walkabout.

She was at a party. Left it in the same place as her bag and coat. And only the scarf was taken. I'm taking that as a compliment!

So, Canberra people, keep your eyes peeled for someone furtively wearing the thing.

My sis is asking around and even putting up a poster at the party house. I hope it all turns out to be some kind of crazy mistake. Though I don't know how you take someone's hand-made scarf by mistake - a prank maybe? I've said if it doesn't turn up I'll make it again, or maybe a slightly different version. It wouldn't take that long, but then I always think that... and there are (as always) a few projects in the queue.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Pod pattern



I've had one or two requests, so here it is, how to knit your very own 'pod'. Oh, I really hope you do. This is the first time I've written a pattern, simple as it is. Please let me know if you find mistakes.

Concept: Knit top-down in the round, starting with a smallish opening, and increasing regularly at four points, with plain rounds in between the increase rounds.

The number of increases per round, combined with the number of plain rounds in between increase rounds, determines the angle at which the pot slopes. Keep in mind also that stocking stitch will shrink more lengthwise than widthwise - so the shape you see before felting is quite different, more elongated, than what you'll see afterwards.

After a section of plain rounds in the middle, you reverse the process and start decreasing at the same rate as you increased. Once you reach the circumference you started with, you decrease every round to make a more-or-less flat bottom for the pot.

Materials:

I often use two strands held together for felting projects, to get a nice dense felted fabric. If in doubt about the needle size, it's generally better to go for a looser gauge than you would normally want, this seems to make the fabric felt more willingly. This means that your pre-felted pod really won't look much at all like the finished object. That's one of the things I love about felting.

One strand of Sean sheep 'Armytage', held with one of Lincraft 'Cosy wool'.
Needles: set of five 8mm dpns. No you don't have to use five, it's just neat that way as there are four sets of increases/decreases.

Note: use whatever increase suits you for the M1: I lift the bar just to the left of the next stitch and KTBL. It won't show after felting anyway.

Cast on 24 stitches and put 6 on each needle. Join to work in the round. Place a marker if you like.

Round 1. Knit
2. * K1, M1, K4, M1, K1 * repeat from * to * (32 sts)
3. K
4. K
5. * K1, M1, K6, M1, K1 * repeat from * to * (40 sts)
6. K
7. K
8. * K1, M1, K8, M1, K1 * repeat from * to * (48 sts)
9. K
10. K
11. * K1, M1, K10, M1, K1 * repeat from * to * (56 sts)
12. K
13. K
14. * K1, M1, K12, M1, K1 * repeat from * to * (64 sts, 16 on each needle)
15. K
(the red/orange pod has a few more rounds in this section)
16. K
17. K
18. * K1, K2tog, K10, K2tog, K1 * repeat from * to * (56 sts)
19. K
20. K
21. * K1, K2tog, K8, K2tog, K1 * repeat from * to * (48 sts)
22. K
23. K
24. * K1, K2tog, K6, K2tog, K1 * repeat from * to * (40 sts)
25. K
26. K
27. * K1, K2tog, K4, K2tog, K1 * repeat from * to * (32 sts)
28. * K1, K2tog, K2, K2tog, K1 * repeat from * to * (24 sts)
29. * K1, K2tog, K2tog, K1 * repeat from * to * (16 sts)
30. * K2tog, K2tog * repeat from * to * (8 sts)

Cut off yarn, run both strands through all remaining stitches, draw tight and weave in on the wrong side.