Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A day in the life...

Here are 4 balls of yarn waiting patiently to be swatched and being rewarded for their patience by a rendition of Beatles' cover music in "Let it Be".

A full house of aging baby boomers was entertained by Leo Sayer, Christine Anu, Rick Price and John Waters. It was not a busy show for me (House Light control - whoopee) so I had plenty of time to plan and sort and empty out my knitting bag from whence these various balls of yarns were retrieved.
Their time will come as I am very near completition of the top-down raglan - the last sleeve seems to have taken as long as the entire garment.

John Waters' performance in this show was a pleasant surprise for me - I still remember him as the spunky Sgt McKellar in "Rush" but of course he has had a long and extensive career since then - including touring the Lennon tribute "Looking Through a Glass Onion" which he co-wrote. And he was on Playschool where all great Aussie actors feature at least once in their career!

Next day was a show at the other end of the cultural spectrum, Alain de Botton giving a "beguiling, jargon-free tour through the philosophy and psychology of architecture" for the Sydney Writers' Festival.

The most intriguing thing I discovered from this talk was the fact that Le Corbusier's stylish house "Villa Savoye" leaked like a sieve and its functional design, "created so that it could be mass produced," took a long time and a very expensive team of artisans to construct.

Sounds like most of my knitting projects.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Of Sheep and Porridge

While the knitting gets back on track we'll have a short word from our sponsors;

This is the prosperous little farming town of Gore, Southland, NZ. A Country Music Festival host, sister city to Tamworth, Australia and my birthplace.

In this photo we have a summary of what were the main industries of the town when I lived there. The railway, where my Dad worked as a Signal Man and Goods Yard Manager, the Creamoata Porridge factory and intensive sheep farming.

The Sheep is a Romney and the rolling green fields of the surrounding Southland countryside are full of them; in the fields, mobbed along the roads and being transported in the big red sheep trucks to the Mataura Freezing works. I'm not sure what their fleece would knit like but as their primary function was food it wasn't a big consideration.

A recent addition to this industrial and Agricultural mix is the sport of Trout Fishing. So as well as the Big Sheep, and the Big Sergeant Dan, the Creamoata man, we have The Big Fish. This has replaced the fountain that greeted the south-bound traveler just after they crossed the Bridge across the Mataura River .

I recall this site being the location of an old piece of WW1 Artillery and a fountain which sometimes froze mid flow, because of the wickedly cold frosts.

Unfortunately the Railway Station and the Signal box have well and truly been decimated - obliterated even. Instead of this quaint wooden building so typical of the small town stations of the Main South Line there is this:

an expanse of ashphalt and concrete relieved only by a tin shed no bigger than a bus stop.
I don't know when this bit of historical vandalism took place but I know my father would have been spinning in his grave. The big vacant stretch of ground to the right of the single remaining track was once filled with a shunting yard and a Goods Shed that was busy and noisy and full of railway trucks and workers.

It was a real shock to see how the site had been denuded of everything - leaving no reference of the major part it played in the the industrial and social history of the town; and it was a shock to me because it was an important part of my family's history.

Plus ça change...

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Anteknitter

I've decided I'll take on the official title of the anteknitter. This doesn't mean I'm against knitting, - far from it. I mean ante as in;

Prior to; earlier: antenatal.
In front of; before: anteroom.
[Latin, from ante, before.]

In other words my knitting is like the entree before the main meal - not the full course. This revelation comes after my Show and Tell experience at yesterday's Guild Meeting. While everyone showed their progress with their garments and projects I talked about the frogging I had done and showed the Lace Mitten I was about to pull apart. I have at least 5 or 6 projects on the go and I just purchased some beautiful Filatura Multicolor for another one! I think I have knitting ADD. Symptoms include "inattention, hyperactivity and impulsive behaviour".

I will now undertake to focus on finishing the last sleeve of the Raglan top-down jumper to the exclusion of all others. So it is written.

Monday, May 15, 2006

When an eel bites your heel

"When an eel bites your heel and it takes half your leg it's a Moray"

Okay those aren't exactly the words Patrizio Buanne was singing last night in the Concert Hall but he could have been - and the 2000 plus Leichhardt mums out on their Mother's Day treat would have loved it. This guy is a bit of an Italian Hunk. Again I had no idea who he was but his fans certainly did. They loved his crooning, and his swooning, they loved it when he came down into the front row and kissed the ladies' hands and danced with the lucky woman in the centre seat. (though he did have a bit of trouble extracting himself from her enthusiastic embrace)

I, in the meantime was able to continue on with my knitting as well as being entertained by it all.

I progressed on the Lace Mittens, having a few issues with the thumb increase but as this is a prototype, mistakes will be tolerated the first time (and the second, and the third).

I'm trying the "Ivy" Lace pattern from Barbara Walker's "Charted Knitting Designs" (aka The Third Treasury of Knitted Patterns). This is a very simple 9 row, 7 stitch repeat with a bit of a jog on the second group. The trouble I am having in remembering this pattern does not bode well for any complicated Lace pattern I may have plans for. I put it down to my wandering attention span rather than any memory deficiency.

Speaking of Mistakes - here we have before and here we have after.

Problems? Armholes too small, sleeves too tight, neck too sloppy, waist too short - need I go on? Into the frog pond but not all the way - there is a bit that can be salvaged - we will survive!

Friday, May 12, 2006

A Tale of Old Gold Kid Silk

Here is a Kim Hargreaves design; "Cropped Cardigan with Mock Pockets"in Rowan Kid Silk . Per ball the yarn is 25g , 64 metres with a gauge of 20st and 26 rows to 10cm on 4.5mm (US 7) needles.

Also known as Kaffe Fasset Kidsilk yarn it should not be confused with the more contemporary Kid Silk Haze which is
210m to the 25g ball with a Gauge of varying sizes depending on where you're looking.

This pattern is part of a 4 page pamphlet that I have often seen split for individual sale on eBay, either that or Rowan also published the designs separately.

Here is my faithful dummy wearing my version of the completed Cardigan (minus Mock Pockets) in shade 989, "Old Gold" .

There does seem to be a pattern in my knitting here - blocky design, no protection to the lower back from nasty draughts. Because this is such lovely and such rare yarn I do plan to 'reconstruct' this garment one day.

If I had another four balls perhaps I could make this; but my chances of finding one, let alone four balls of this are rarer than hen's teeth. It may not look it but there are 14 balls in the Cardi, so, before I subject it to a frog attack I shall try and create a basic boat neck, 3/4 sleeve pattern that will let the yarn speak for itself and reach past my waist line.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Guide to the Galaxy

This is a Strand Galaxy computerised Lighting control board and this is me operating it waaaay back in the 1980's. You can tell by the hairdo. This was when I was in the midst of knitting my BIG jumpers. I no longer have the Batwing blue Mohair sweater that was really, really, itchy, or the Black and Pink Mohair Intarsia jumper that was too tight, too hot and too itchy. It's no wonder that the consoles used to be covered with black fluff!

The control board was revolutionary for its time - it had its own operating protocol so it was not compatible with any other computerised Lighting board (not that there were many around back in those days.) but it had lots of colour coded buttons and a nice clear layout. I knew that board like the back of my hand and we did some great things together. But, alas, it was not to last.

The Galaxy went the way of all obsolete equipment and it was replaced by the Strand 500 Series PC based Lighting Consoles. I arranged a wake for it and we gave this hard working board a good send off.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Sock Knitter: Grace Cossington Smith

I would like to introduce you to Charlotte "Diddy" Cossington, knitting socks for “our boys in the trenches” during the Great War. She is the sister of that wonderful Australian Artist, Grace Cossington Smith (1892-1984) and the subject of her wonderful painting “The Sock Knitter”.

I first saw this painting at the Art Gallery Of New South Wales in 1978 and I was captivated by it. I didn’t knit then so it wasn’t the subject that so entranced me – it was the form and the colour. The image does not do the painting justice – the purple sweater she is wearing is a rich layering of blue, brown and purple brush strokes with a touch of green that is matched by the bag that hangs beside her.

The gallery description speaks of her modernist influence, her groundbreaking style and how she was acclaimed as the first post-impressionist painting to be exhibited in Australia, but was she ever feted for this talent? No, she was a woman, and to make it worse an unmarried woman living a spinster lifestyle with her parents in the northern suburbs of Sydney. It is only now, I hope, that she is receiving the recognition she so richly deserves. I salute you, Grace Cossington Smith.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Louise Harding Cable Sweater

Back in the 80’s I had a friend who shared my passion for knitting and who was also fortunate enough to be able to travel regularly to England, that Mecca of all things Rowan.

Bridget was generous of her time and energy and would bring me back yarns and pattern in abundance. Almost 20yrs later I take stock of the many Rowan books I possess and the items I have knitted and I realise in hindsight, what a gift she gave.
I have lost contact with her over the years so I can only belatedly say, with all my heart, “Thank You, Bridget”.

The trouble with knitting in Australia is that there are not that many months in the year that such lovely chunky knits, such as this one, can be worn.

It comes from Rowan book #16 and is another boxy knit that, for some unfathomable reason, I made in the short version – ending at hip height. As well as being very unflattering to my 5ft 3in stature this length also leaves my nether regions exposed to cold draughts. So it is too hot for temperate days and not suitable for the rare cold snap we may get, here in the Mountains. Am I ever going to do something about it? Noo.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Maestro Lalo Schifrin

I am stunned - I'm sitting here at the Lighting Desk, knitting away and listening to Lalo Schifrin, that great composer, conductor and pianist playing Jazz with James Morrison and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

I have done a lot of shows with all sorts of talented people but this man is amazing. He is over 70 and obviously not so sprightly as he carefully walks across the stage to the podium; but once he is playing the piano - sheer genius.

I was blissfully ignorant of this until I took a closer look at the show requirements today - I thought it was just another Symphony Concert - maybe a nice bit of Mozart like last week or perhaps a bit of Dvořák.

Don't I pay attention to all the publicity that's spread across the outside of the theatre as I come and go to work? I'm glad I've been kicked out of my complacency. He is Awesome, Awesome, Awesome. And I get to hear it all over again tomorrow!!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


A busy, busy, weekend.
What with various Guild meetings and a quick SSK, plus Work and birthdays I am glad to get back to the relative peace and quiet of the Mountains.

First off I have progressed on Item 1 - the green mossy cardi - it is now in possession of two sleeves and has only to be "collared".
(apologies for the abuse of grammar - making verbs from nouns is one of my great hates and I vow never to "gift" anything to anyone or "text" any one. As this recent article shows I may be fighting a losing battle though. SMH May2)

Item 4; Studio Mohair Cardi has a finished back and the front is coming along nicely.

I have overcome my fear of K1P1 rib to the extent of planning this ribbed wrap jacket by Jo Sharp - but only when a space becomes available in the queue.

The young Dragon's birthday was a small celebration at a Teppan Yaki restaurant in Double Bay.

He didn't believe me when I said we were going to a restaurant where they throw food at you!

The Guild meeting at Epping had a trial of the 20th birthday celebrations display to be shown at the Quilt and Craft Fair at Darling Harbour in June.

The Blue Mountains Group theme was Spring so there were many, many sheep produced and a lovely floral backdrop.

Because of space limitations and the volume and high standard of work produced by all the Branches none of my entries made it - Damn shame. After seeing the quality of the successful entries I am going back to the basics and practice, practice, practice.

And speaking of High Quality, after I left Epping I zipped over to Newtown to catch a SSK.

It was great to have a relaxed knit and natter after such a long absence. I may be able to catch up with a few more as the Saturday now no longer coincides with the Blue Mountains Meeting.

And if that's not enough there's always Rubi and Lana's and Tapestry Craft Stitch and Bitch!

The life and times of a Knitaholic.