Friday, August 31, 2007


One bolero, finished. Feel the smugness from here.

($3 a ball, Jo Sharp Silkroad Ultra - bargain!)

One heel turned with short row shaping on my grey stocking.

Three rounds done on my Kitri sock yesterday while working at my new job.

"My cat's name is Mittens."

"My cat's breath smells like cat food." Feel the love.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The restoration of normality

To me, normality is a state of stress. I never really relax, I always have "just one more" thing to do, cook, sew and especially knit.

I've finished the Horcrux socks in only two days. Time to kick back? Oh, no.

I have a party to attend this Saturday night. Can't wait. I have a great summery dress to wear but it'll be cold. Plan? Knit a Cloud Bolero by Saturday night (ignore the sample pic; mine will be prettier, I promise).

Not a problem. Oh, and now I have a new job I can knit during my lunch break. Better cast on the Jo Sharp Stockings from Knit issue 3.

Felix really needs some new socks. Better make some more.

Oh no! I almost forgot my Kitri socks! Better keep going on them too.

Know this: if I ever stop knitting in my life, check for a pulse.

Monday, August 27, 2007


It may appear that I've deserted my blog due to my new found addiction to Ravelry. Not so! It was a combination of events:

1. I signed up to Ravelry - under the username "Andrea".
2. I went out to a drunken orgy dinner on Friday.
3. I borrowed a huge stash of dvd's on Saturday.

Ravelry is addictive. I now know I need a better digital camera. But here's what I've managed in the last few days (as viewed through the old digital camera).

It's finished. Da's hot water bottle cover (pattern - Jaeger JB22) is all done and ready to hand over on Father's Day. He will love it or I shall lose my temper rather badly.

This pic is because I know what knitters are like. Behold! The inside of my Fair Isle!

On Saturday afternoon I finished the first of my Kitri socks - well, the sock part at least. I plan to make both of the socks in full before I add the lace cuffs. I fear that if I do otherwise, they'll never be finished. Framed, yes. Finished, no.

The sock fits like a dream. My foot is 9.5" in circumference at the ball of my foot - ergo WIDE LOAD - yet the sock fits perfectly. The part that surprised me the most was that even though I take a size 9.5 I only needed to knit 6 repeats on the foot, not 7.

On Thursday night I managed to burn myself in the oven shelf twice, so I slammed dinner down, wandered to the interweb and printed off this pattern for an oven mitt.

It used up a lot of Jo Sharp DK cotton, but it only took an hour to knit up each one and I adore them. No more burn marks!

(NB: Whenever I burn myself I get a burn mark that heals withing three days. Felix claims I have mutant healing powers. Probably why he likes me... *looks up at Felix's Ultimate X-Men collection*)

My Ravelry addiction did give me some help, however. I planned to make my Horcrux Socks from my all natural alpaca, but it turns out I only have 220 yards, and the pattern requires 250. So I started them on Saturday night while watching all of series 1 "Spaced" on the couch using my Jo Sharp Silkroad DK in "Cocoa", leftover from my brown jumper. They are a really fast knit (sock one finished already) and just a great pattern. I highly recommend this one.

Today's plan is to finish my Horcux Socks so I can start wandering around the house in them (maybe cast on a second pair because I have enough wool), wash all of the handknit socks lying around (too many) and tidy like crazy. You want to know why? I'm employed again! Training starts tomorrow, so my knitting time will be severely cut into (bright side is Felix has to wash the dishes now). Hopefully, I'll end up on nightshift and be able to knit all day. If not, I'll still knit, darnit!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007!!!!!!!

I received my Ravelry invite this morning. I instantly screamed and grabbed the phone to tell Felix. His mobile was playing up and because our last conversation was about my epilepsy, he thought I'd had a seizure and came racing home to check on me. Isn't he sweet? (NB: I haven't had a seizure in over a decade, but he's still sweet)

In the meantime, before I head off to photograph EVERY ball of wool I own, I would like to present to you: Ashlee's cushion.

She has stated her love for it and that's all that matters. Really. I did most of the knitting on a Sunday night during "Midsomer Murders" so it wasn't too painful...

Love you too, Ashlee.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Anniversary Overdose

Today is the one year anniversary of my first post, hence cake. (I love cake, but only sometimes. Depends on my mood.) My life has gone through some major changes in the year, but I am happy to notice that no matter what I kept knitting. I've made 32 items since I started - more than one a fortnight. I'm actually quite surprised!

Does it make up for my current mental fogginess? Nope. Just look at these pearls of stupidity:

My attempt at a Fair Isle Christmas Ball. It needs to be wrapped around a polystyrene ball. I bought the size my knitting should fit. Does that look right to anyone? Even were I to stretch it, I'll still be out by an inch.

Plan is to make the deer pattern piece at 77 stitches instead of this pattern's 66 stitches. That'll fit this ball, and I'll buy another ball, but smaller (waste not, want not). I started this ball on Sunday and finished it last night, due to a yarn scramble: "I must have some more somewhere!". In actual fact, the knitting took about three hours. A fast cheap Christmas present. I like starting early.

Then there were the socks. I use the Interweave toe up pattern, and usually, they work. I add an afterthought heel, Felix wears them. All is well. They're huge. I need to knit it at the 5 stitch to the inch tension, not the 6. On the other hand, knitting with two balls of self striping Patonyle at once is really fun.

I'm finishing my surprise project today, because it needs severe blocking, and as I've never done that before, I may be some time...

Monday, August 20, 2007

Flotsam, jetsam and yarn

Chantal and I took over a table at Blue Train yesterday in order to assuage the damage following a pattern can take. This pattern - the Designer is Blameless - had some wonderful mistakes features.

Such as the ability to add four stitches in a mere three paragraphs - "Pick up 22 stitches from holder" when the previous instruction left you with 18. Oh, and someone knitting a cardigan for the first time does get nervous when they finish the sleeve and the pattern neglects the brilliant hint "Cast off". Seriously.

There had been some wild panicking, but a plate of dips, jaffa cake and two and a half hours of giggling later and all is well.

As for my knitting, I have been flat out working on something I can't show yet - it's a surprise. I've been hard at it since Friday, even though I spent a lot of Saturday night watching Felix kill, maim and destroy various things in "Zelda - Twighlight Princess" (He has his fun, I have mine). He was wearing his brand new black socks I finally finished, and trés spiffy they looked too. Plain toe up, with a twisted rib at the top.

I came across an old favourite quote of mine on the weekend, so I though I'd share it. Virginia Woolf - "Knitting is the saving of life." VW was a prolific knitter, and I love this painting by her sister, Vanessa. When I told Chantal the quote, pointing out that the knitting only worked until VW filled her coat with stones and went walking into a river, Chantal's comment was "Well, she'd probably run out of stash..."

Sage words, all. Stock up now.

Friday, August 17, 2007

A tale of a cat

July 2001: I have a mouse loose in the house (Please say this in a Scottish accent. It's funnier). I decided to head off to the Peninsula Animal Shelter and find me a nice fat tabby I could name Agatha (Aggie for short). They had kittens, toms (useless at mousing) and more besides. Then saw her. A sleek, petite black cat. "Stick your hand in there and she'll bite it off" was my ex's sage advice. I stuck my hand in the cage, she came forward, leaned in...and started rubbing against me. Love at first sight. Pagan was mine. My dad called her "Satan" for the first month. A perfect match.

Over the next year at my first place she settled in, sucked up to the neighbours, the usual stuff. Then one day, some sadist on a motorbike decided to kick her as he rode by. I came home from work to find a note from a neighbour telling me what had happened: the lady across the road had seen it, but she didn't have a car, so she went to my next door neighbours and got them to drive Pagan to the vet. That was how I found out how my cat spent her day - mornings, she wondered into my next door neighbour's sunroom and basked there, til in the afternoons she wondered across the road to lie on their back verandah for the afternoon sun. After dinner she headed off to the next door neighbour's garage to sit on her son's computer monitor while he worked. A hussy.

After a burglary we left that suburb and moved away. After we had been at the new place for a few weeks I took Pagan to the vet because she was suddenly getting quite fat. The vet's advice? "Go ask your neighbours to stop feeding her." So I walked up and down my new street pointing out the black cat didn't need feeding. Luckily I only needed to tell twenty-five houses. A con artist.

Pagan knew when I was upset. It was a gift. A few days after my fiance left me, I was sitting in the lounge, crying once again. She wandered into the room, jumped into my lap and purred for the first time. The first time in the three years I had owned her. I was so surprised I stopped crying. A friend.

She didn't mind me knitting. She used to sit on my lap and watch, waiting for her chance to attack. Not the yarn, never the yarn. But the ends of the needles fascinated her, and she'd gnaw on them any chance she could get. I spent a day watching "Pride and Prejudice" knitting the sleeves to my "Grecian Plait" jumper with her on my lap. When I finished I stood up Pagan jumped off my lap and wandered away, a fluffy cream cat shedding mohair strands as she walked. A comedian.

I went overseas for the first time over the Christmas of 2003. The person I missed most was Pagan. I ached to have her curled up next to me. When I arrived home (a week early) I sat and talked to my mum for a while then she had to answer the phone. I walked out, sat on the back doorstep, happy to be back. A small shadow on the back verandah stretched and yawned, then looked up at me. "Hey baby" was all I could say as she came languidly over and jumped in my lap. A lodestone.

Yesterday (16/08/07) was the third anniversary of her death. She was attacked by two dogs on Friday the 13th (oh, the irony for a black cat) and hospitalised with over 200 stitches. The first night, she was stoned out of her brain when I saw her. The second night she was sore, and angry and didn't want a bar of me. I started crying, leaning me head next to her, so upset that my precious baby was in so much pain. I felt her nose touching mine just as she started purring. She always knew when I was upset, and just how to fix it. My cat.

I miss her every day.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Dear Felix...

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways:

1. I'll make you a trifle. I don't like trifle. I'll eat a small amount to be polite, but I don't really like it.

2. I'll forgo "Homeless and Gay" to watch your family on "Temptation". Well, okay I actually wanted to do that, but still...

3. I'll selflessly go and hide myself away so you can read "Penny Arcade" archives on the computer. Of course, so I won't be too lonely without you I may need to take some knitting with me.

(One heel completed - doesn't it look like a toe? Day 10 - starting foot now.)

4. I'll finish knitting you some more socks today.

But only because I love you.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


For anyone here in Australia, might I recommend watching "Temptation" (The new "Sale of the Century") this evening? It's on Channel 9 here in Melbourne at 7:00pm.

Why the spruiking? The really nice contestant called Jason - my brother-in-law! *puffs up with unimaginable levels of pride*

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

In a galaxy far far away...

...lives my family. I live in the suburb of Melbourne, 3004. They live in various areas in and around Boronia: Croydon, Mooroolbark and Wonga Park. When it's time to visit for birthdays, I have a long way to go.

This is what you get when you catch public transport to Croydon - two rows knitted of the lace pattern on your socks (Day 8's efforts). I would have been happier had a few stitches not fallen off the end of a double point as I ran for the bus. Luckily I arrived at lunch shortly afterwards - early - so a glass of cab merlot and I felt brave enough to fix it all up.

Today I plan to finish the last round needed and then tomorrow I can start on the heel.

Last night I was rumaging around in the MagKnits archive when I came across a name I thought sounded familiar: Stefanie Japel. Once I looked at the pattern I realised I was a moron (who swears off cheap cab merlot forever) - if you don't know who Stefanie is head on over to Glampyre Knits. I warn, you won't come out in a hurry.

The pattern I liked was "Ubernatural", a short but easy cardigan I could knit up quickly in my stash of Jo Sharp Silkroad Ultra, so I started that last night.

I'm ripping it out and reknitting it on my 15mm needles (it's currently on 10mm) for two simple reasons:

1. It'll grow faster.
2. I own a 15mm circular which will help when the sleeves are separated. I'll be making it in stripes of the colours shown. I like strips, even though horizontal ones make me look huge.

I care not.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Knitting afternoon

Why on earth would anyone want to come to a knitting afternoon at my place?

'nuff said.

Earliest arrival was - unsurprisingly - my mum, who produced a pattern from the depth of the 80's and proclaimed that once she wore it it would cease to be hideous. I doubt it - the blouson sleeves say otherwise - but she can dream.

Sam arrived but declined to knit. He drank tea, ate scones, conversed wittily and vamoosed, but luckily by then Chantal had arrived.

She's currently knitting a cute little cardi for her equally cute nephew Connor and just zoomed through the darn thing. I was mightily jealous for my knitting skills weren't really utilised to there best advantage (There were scones, people! You can't knit and eat scones!).

Also, yes, that is my bed behind her. In the lounge room. I turned the bedroom into a workroom. My flat is big enough for me to do this. And I'm on St Kilda Rd. This is what you get if you sacrifice enough goats.

Chantal is also on my "favouritest person ever" list leader for this present: 986g of 4ply undyed alpaca. From Peru. She backpacked with this. The girl is a god. This is why she gets the knitting chocolate:

Current plan is to make this jumper, unless I can be talked out of it.

Kitri sock results from Day 7: 4 lace repeats done. I'm heading off to my sister's birthday lunch, so hopefully 2 hours of travelling will equal another two rounds.

I really love this sock.

Best news of all: welcome to the world little teeny perfect Alicia Aleisha Alisha Alesha. As some point you'll get a middle name and the rest of your knitted presents, I swear.

Friday, August 10, 2007

A brief stop

Just a brief note so that you know the results of Day 4 of my Kitri sock knitting:

One round of the lace pattern knitted. It took just over an hour and broke my brain at the same time.

This people, is true love.

Also, a very Happy 35th Birthday to my sister Fiona. (She's not really 35, but that means I'll turn 24 this year, and I liked 24...)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

This, that and more

Today I'm starting the cushions for the kidlets Christmas presents, with Mr J's being the first off the production line. This is the visual for it:

Let's hope it works...

What's that? A chorus of naysayers? What do you mean, "What about all the other stuff?!?" You mean these things?

One perfectly finished cabled handbag. It took a month. A month!!! I'd say never again, but I suspect one of the sisters will request one at some point. The pattern is from Patons using two strands of Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran - "Cornsilk" and "Batik". The latter is no longer available, which is a shame as is was part of the perfect colourway for a Dr Who scarf. Yes, I did actually hand knit a 14 foot long Dr who scarf in yarn that costs $7.00 a ball, and what happened? He lost it on the first day. Never again.

This is a close-up because I love cables. A lot. Almost too much. I just find them so much fun to knit, and the more complex, the better. I love a good challenge, and this was pretty good with three different cables - an 8 row repeat (plaits), a 16 row repeat (x and o) and a 32 row repeat (doubled wave lines). I like multi cabling.

Here is the world's cutest baby bonnet. The pattern is the "Lacy Bonnet" from "Baby Bloom" by Erika Knight, and it was knitted in Rowan Wool Cotton (how good does it feel when you're knitting it?!). I adore this pattern. I look forward to making it for every one of my friends when they have a baby, because - let's be honest here - you're going to need something to dress them up in for that photo you'll have enlarged for the 21st birthday party to humiliate them with.

This one will be going out to my darling Michelle who will hopefully be having her baby girl (90% positive) asap, so I will actually be allowed to visit. (See explanation at the end)

Believe it or not, I took 6 different shots of these booties and they glowed like a halo in each of them. These are the "Baby Angora Booties" from "Last Minute Knitted Gifts" and I've taken so long to make them (not very last minute). I made one, put them away and completely forgot about them until I suddenly remember them last week. They're for Stacey as a "Yay! You're pregnant!" present, and I have enough fluffy goodness left over to make a pair for Michelle too.

(Yes, that is my hot water bottle cover in the background. I'm about a third of the way through sewing it up. Patience!)

Ta da! I finally fixed the neckline for my red cabled jumper so it will stay on me. I feel warmer just looking at it. It's so squishy and yummy. If you want to knit a hot water bottle cunningly disguised as a jumper, use Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran Tweed. I once wore my green jumper in 6°C weather with no t-shirt or shirt underneath. Phenomenal stuff. My da swears by his fingerless gloves in it. I really can't recommend it enough.

Finally, here are the result at the end of Day 3 of my Kitri sock kit: ribbing done and I'm ready to start the lace pattern.

Explanation: Most of these shots were taken from the viewpoint of someone in bed, and that's because I am. I've been sick with various colds and such since late June, and I haven't been getting better. I've currently got a pretty icky throat infection and I'm now on my third course of antibiotics in two months. I don't like antibiotics - I'm pretty sure they weaken my immune system, and my doctor agreed, but it's the only thing that's going to kill this infection. In a fortnight I'm off for blood tests for practically everything because I'm so run down I can barely move - hence the bed shots. I need to wait until I finish the antibiotics, and the main thing they're testing for is glandular fever. So if you're wondering why I can't come out and play, this is why.

And no, I'm not pregnant. (A special addendum for my sisters)

NOTE: I am not contagious. My knitting afternoon on Saturday is going ahead. I just won't be as hyper as usual is all.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Some madness averted, some sanity restored

My family will very happily tell you about how crazy our mum goes at Christmas time. She has to have everything just perfect, and the presents are no exception. I can recall at least two decades of sewing, crafting, wrapping, crying, stressing and occasionally yelling. It all came together on the day though, and then there was five months of rest before she started all over again.

Over the past few years I too have been guilty of this stress. I worry that only a hand made gift will suffice, that everything must be red or gold or a mix of both with a sprig of holly added (quite stupidly as there are no berries in 40°C weather). The one Christmas I relaxed was because I was in London, far far away, and even then I had a crisis rundown phone call two days later. Last year, I gave up. Entirely. Here's a thought: buy presents. No need to stress, worry or panic. Hand over cash, wrap things up a week early, crisis averted.

This year, I've decided to start early, because I want to make things again, if only to clear out my stash for the Cleggs stocktake sale on Boxing Day (you know you want new yarn too!) Yesterday I made my tension swatch so I can start designing (*bwahahahaaaa!) the cushions for my younger nieces and nephews (8), rummaged until I found suitable yarn to make a set of fluffy dice for the nephew turning 18 and gave up on a project altogether.

This is "Luvtröja Måns" from Interweave Knits Summer 2007 issue. I spotted it and instantly wanted to knit it for Felix, in charcoal gray, yes - but orange and green for the rest. I have the yarn, I have the pattern, I have read the instructions and I'm fine. I spent 30 minutes this morning knitting up the tension swatch. But I'm not knitting it for Christmas. Maybe his birthday on the Ides of March, but not Christmas.

Because I promised to knit this for my da:

"Drunken Argyle" from Knitty. He saw it, loves it, has told everyone he knows about it, and - here's the kicker - is paying for the wool. How can I say no? I was planning to make it for him one day. Well, the day is coming and it's December 25th *sigh*. I must love him. The pattern (in his size) starts "CO 175st on smaller needles (2.5mm)..."

I'm now going off to re-read the Yarn Harlot's essay on "IT". I find it can help, but not always, because human nature is just too predictable.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Born from an egg on a mountaintop!

I finished them. I have my very first pair of hand knitted socks.

Felix said this is just a phase. He'll learn. Especially when I don't take them off for a month.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

I must be ill

I'm finishing projects. Properly. It's obviously a fever of some kind. A madness, an insanity of sorts. For example:

My pears. The first four anyway. This is the before shot - knitted up, sewn up, ready to felt.

Here's the after shot. They need a lot more felting, and I don't know if I can do that many loads of washing in a week. I wonder if I can do them by hand? (Yes, my carpet is actually that shade of blue.)

A knitted lace bauble in the making - here you see how the shape is given, with a balloon in the centre.

After the balloon has popped, you have this. I'm still not sure if I like it, but it may yet grow on me. I love the idea...

I made the Lacy Bonnet from Erika Knight's "Baby Bloom" which states that you'll need 2 x 50g balls of Rowan Wool Cotton. It took 30g. Go figure. I'll be buying the ribbon for the bows tomorrow, so more pics to follow.

And Fiona's bookmark, being shipped out today. I don't know if it will make her feel any better, but she does read a lot.

I love finishing things. I feel so competent.