Thursday, May 31, 2007


After such a successful month of big knitting I've gone micro. In contrast to the swift progress to the main body of the Cleckheaton Jacket the lace edging has slowed me down to a crawl. I had an entire skein left over and I was impressed that the garment took only 9 balls to make - not so. The 10th ball was swallowed up by the 5 stitch lace pattern leaving just enough to seam the garment. The edging gives the jacket a delicate look and is well worth the trouble.

Barbara Walker's 4th Treasury has also preoccupied me for at least two whole days. The fiddly knitting of the Turtle and the Peace square and the chapter on twisted stitches has been a useful learning experience.

The next challenge from this book is the Spider square, with its long legs and fat body. It looks a lot like the Huntsman which nest in the high corners of our house. Because they are fairly harmless and keep the flies and other nasties at bay I am kindly disposed to these creatures. Yesterday I rescued a large one from the sink and put it outside where it reluctantly crawled away. I think it felt a bit exposed.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Thank you, Yarn magazine

Thank you Yarn magazine - I did a bit of placement checking for them at Borders recently and as a reward for my efforts I have been sent some lovely bits and pieces.
  • 2 x 50g balls of Dalegarn Heilo in red: 100% DK Norwegian wool. David recently did a review on this yarn in his podcast. I think these will be destined for the Zeebee hat from Schmeebot that brooklyntweed beautifully displayed.
  • 2 x 50g balls of Rooster almerino DK in a lovely Teal colour. This soft baby alpaca/ merino blend is also destined for hatness. I have been looking at this yarn in Rubi & Lana's for a long time and now have the chance to try it out.
  • 2 x 50g balls of Dalegarn Svale cotton/silk blend that has my name on it for something.
  • 1 x set of Britanny Bamboo DPN to make hats and socks with.
I love getting little treats like this in the mail (still have a KTE and a Scarf to come) so this was Much Appreciated. Thank you again, Yarn Mag.

Monday, May 28, 2007

An exception to the memes rule.

I'm normally not a meme doer but because this is a small one and missfee tagged me I'll give it a go.

Rules are:
"Each person tagged gives seven random facts about themselves. Those tagged need to write on their blogs seven facts, as well as the rules of the game. You need to tag seven others and list their names on your blog. You have to leave those you plan on tagging a note in their comments so they know that they have been tagged and need to read your blog".

I don't know if I can fulfil all these rules because it has taken me so long to get these 7 random things together that most of the people I would have tagged have already done this or the Supersize "100 things about me".

1. I was a Scarfie at Uni and I didn't even know it.

2. Hone Tuwhare once wrote me a poem in return for a cigarette. (It must have been circa '74 because he was the Burns Fellow at Otago University at the time)

3. I was a total bookworm and once rode my bike to school while reading a book.

4. Mr Spock was my Pin-up hero.

5. I went to China in 1984 with the Chinese Australian Friendship Society.

6. I collect Chinese stamps.

7. I don't like Beetroot.

Okay - I'm now going to pass this on to Sally and Lara and Meg and Lynn .

Sunday, May 27, 2007

I am being white-anted by technology

In a totally non-knitting realated topic here is a photo of what you can do when you have the money to hire the Concert Hall for a private little party. This is from my work computer because I am being white-anted by technology.
First day back for a week and all the email and attachments I sent myself are blocked. I am either very subversive or pictures of yarn are now considered pornographic by the NSW State Government.
OK, they may be right in the second case but I want to post about my lovely Manos Del Uruguay yarn that was brought back from Purl in New York in a Macy's bag. I want to show the fantastic progress on the Cleckheaton jacket (doing the lacy edge) and how I've picked up the Pullover Flair and started knitting the sleeves. I want to show the beautiful colours of the SeaWool and how I've braved the tangled complexity of 5 bamboo 3mm DPN to start knitting my first sock.

It is obviously not to be, so I must wait until I have finished my 15hr shift of Handel in the Concert Hall and travelled home to my computer which, hopefully, will be more sympathetic to my tales of Yarn.
In the meantime here is a very apt note from our sponsor; the patron saint of knitting, Elizabeth Zimmerman.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The drought is 'cracked'

This may be the yarn I knit my first ever pair of socks with - the Fleece Artist Sea Wool arrived in the Post Box all the way from Little Knits in Seattle on Friday accompanied by 3 skeins of Muench Touch Yarn destined for the Vintage Velvet Scarf from Scarf Style, albeit a short version.

The Sea Wool is a 70% Merino, 30% Seacell blend, machine washable and knitted up on 3mm needle for a tension of 26st/10cm. The 350m/115g skein came with a pattern for Bordello Socks which seem to be fairly basic to my untrained eye. I was fascinated to read of the amazing properties of the Seacell component;

"The seaweed extracts also promote the production of glucosaminoglycans, which not only accelerate the healing process of skin inflammations, but also protect the skin from free radicals (acc. to Alban Muller International). All in all, SeaCell® pure is more than just a fiber – it can promote activity and create a sense of well-being."

I'm all for the promotion of activity, especially in socks.

Along with all the welcome drought-breaking rain we had on Friday it seems as if the postal drought has cracked also. My International Scarf Exchange partner received her scarves and then gave a lovely write up on her blog. The High Anxiety I was feeling about that has subsided to be replaced by moderately high anticipation. There is still my scarf and a Knitter's Treat to come.

Knitting of the second Cleckheaton Jacket is continuing at a speedy pace mainly because I have the armless body of the Interweave Knits Pullover Flair sitting in a prominent spot reminding me not to get too far ahead of my UFO's.

I was very disciplined at the Guild meeting this afternoon and resisted the extensive display of our retail guests Rex & Evelyn Reynolds. They had a lot of Filatura Di Crosa and some beautiful Mohair. This is Evelyn showing off one of the many items that could be knitted with their yarn with two tables packed with fibre goodies in the background.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Not Wool

A parcel arrived in the mail finally - to dispel any notion I may have had that my empty space of a Post Box was on strike. Along with Lace Style (which is destined for the Guild Library) Amazon had a very good deal on Amy Singers new book "No Sheep for You". I bought it after reading some very good reviews and I must concur with them.

This book is an enjoyable and informative read. I normally skip straight to the patterns when I get knitting book but not in this case. The first three chapters on all the different types of non-wool yarn, their history and properties kept me engrossed for a full train commute and the information continued in other little essays like 'How to Wind Slippery Yarn', 'Needle Fuss Factor' and 'Are you really allergic to wool?".

The 20 patterns that are included were so much icing to the cake. I can't say much about them that hasn't been said by others but they're in a great range of sizes and have clear instructions and diagrams in the Interweave Press style (of course). There is a good variety of garments for women and men, including aran jumpers, ganseys, sweaters, cable cardigans, jackets and accessories.

The yarns vary from cotton, cotton blends, silk, linen and hemp. There is not one pattern that is a waste of paper and the book is not aimed at the beginner or the hip knitter ( a welcome relief), in fact it has several top-down patterns, a steeked Cardigan and an amazingly complex but beautiful aran. The pattern is called Morrigan, after the celtic goddess of sex, strife and war and by the look at the 4 pages of detailed charts it is aptly named.

My favourites are the Hemp 'Manly Maze' sweater (as modelled by Franklin), the Classic Elite 'Sweet Indugence' silk robe and the deceptively simple 'Tuscany' Shawl. It is definitely on my 'todo' list

Update on Other Knitting Progress

Before I digress into knitting distractions there is progress being made on other projects. The intoxicating speed of the Mega Stoppino jacket inspired me to keep up the pace with the Cleckheaton Cardigan. Because the striping properties of the Vero yarn ended up looking like a football jumper I used three balls at once to give a much smoother colour transition. It was interesting to see Meg's progress on the same pattern with the Vintage Hues yarn. It seems to have a nicer variegation and so tempts me to try it. This does not bode well with my commitment to the Stash-Along Wool/Silk jumper which still waits, armless and so near completion.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A Mother's Day

Normally I'm not big observer of the 'commercial' celebrations like Mother's Day and Valentine's Day but today I was happy to make an exception. The Young Dragon and I just arrived back from a few days in the City and there, sitting on the kitchen table, was this lovely group of gifts. It was made all the more touching by the fact that the envelope holds a voucher for a session of aromatherapy indulgence, something I've been yearning after for a few months. So, thank you, to two very important males in my life.

The show I've been working on recently caused me to consider the concept motherhood and how my attitudes have changed. It's a powerful play. A fairly 'in-your-face' factual portrayal of a gay relationship set mostly in Melbourne in the 80's. There's nothing gratuitous about it, although the antics of 16 yr old schoolboys on a sleep-over are a bit 'too much information' at times.

The music and scenarios are very familiar to me and evoke a time when I was single and partied to the sound of Supertramp and The Violent Femmes. Several of my friends and acquaintances died of AIDS at that time, as do both the main characters. It was so much a part of the industry we worked in that it wasn't shocking, just tragically sad.

Stephen Dunne's review puts it well;
"Australia's experience of HIV/AIDS in the 1980s and '90s is thus ancient history, and so much of that time is gone: a time of the dead and the dying; vigil shifts at ward 17; watching brilliant and beautiful men sliding into garbled dementia; ... anger and love and screaming horror at the waste of so many lives. Surprisingly easy to let all that go."

The final scenes of this play not only brought back memories of watching friends slowly waste away but also evoked in me a new emotion; the fear of being in the same position as the parents sitting beside the hospital bed and the tragedy of watching a child die. I only operated the show with the sound up once.

It's a long show but it has the audience laughing and crying throughout - I recommend it to all whatever your inclination or situation.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Post Box Stalker

I've been stalking my Post Box because I'm expecting a lot of goodies from overseas and they seem to be taking an excruciating time to turn up - Ah, the tyranny of distance.

I'm awaiting knitting books from Amazon, an order of Muench from Little Knits, (did I ever tell them I don't live in Canada I wonder?) a Scarf from ISE4, and a box of goodies from Knitter's Treat (that's on a boat somewhere - fair wind and calm seas to it).

At least the new copy of Interweave Knits manged to overcome this hurdle. Faster than the speed of light, no sooner than the email announced its publication than the hard copy turned up. Oh, that all overseas parcels could be that speedy.

The patterns in the magazine are a little Parson's egg - some them even bordering on a little rotten maybe.
I love the Cable Yoke cover sweater by Pam Allen, and the delicate Oriel Lace Blouse by Shirley Paden. The free pattern for Norah Gaughan's cotton Pomegranate Blouse is already in my ToDo folder.

The other end of the spectrum is mostly in the finishing details of patterns like Kate Gilbert's Wing Top. The front neckline looks patchy and the garter stitch hem clumsy. It doesn't do the drape of the "ethereal pink...slippery silk yarn" justice.

The pattern that stood out in this category though is the "rustic, handmade, unblocked feel" of the 1824 Blouse. It's only my humble, untrained opinion but the reverse stocking stitch and the nubbly cotton yarn make this sweater look as thought the model is wearing it inside out. It won't be making it to my ToDo folder.

This edition does not have Eunny Jang as editor so it will be interesting to see what she brings in the Autumn issue.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


I'm a proud member of the Montse Stanley Appreciation Society. Her Knitter's Handbook has come to my aid many, many times and it has pride of place in the bookshelf beside my knitting spot. Here it's shown in its current position beside the work in progress.

The speedy construction of the Cleckheaton Jacket faltered at the finishing stage because of shoulder seams. Mattress stitch was fine for all the other joins but it created a bulky ditch on the shoulders and even though I had finished sewing the collar and sleeves into the shoulders I wasn't happy.

Three needle bind-off was considered but that would have required the front and back to be frogged at least 4 rows and I didn't want to go down that path. Montse's solution was a nice neat 'fake graft' that smoothed out all the offending bumps and furrows and I didn't have to unpick any of the bound off stitches.

This is the jacket pre-grafting and only requiring a few loose ends to be tidied. The grafting solution meant minimum disruption to the seams and no re-knitting of rows. All that is now required is a bit of hem and collar blocking and a nice fastener for the front.

A few Montse facts - she came to England in 1974 from Barcelona and founded the Early Knitting History Group. There is a Montse Stanley Knitting Collection at Winchester School of Art "consisting of a wide range of over 800 knitted objects, 5000 magazines, 1500 knitting patterns, photographs, postcards and books, as well as small tools and sample yarns".
The Knitter's Handbook is one of the knitting canons, a must-have for any serious knitting reference library. As Ellen explains in this wonderful post Montse has an uncompromising attitude to standards that at times can be off-putting - especially to a beginner. The overwhelming number of techniques she illustrates can also be a bit daunting at first but they have proven their worth to me numerous times including today.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Only a week

It's only been a week since I was here last but it seems a lot longer. Some things that were planned didn't happen but some things that weren't planned did.
Our annual visit to Lithgow for Ironfest was cancelled because of the three days of much needed rain that would have made it a Mudfest. It was a shame to miss the Jousting, the Peasant flogging and the Battle of Lithgow between the French and English armies but it will be on again next year.

The weekend was productively spent in Sydney starting with a visit to SSK and a diverse lot of knitters. I haven't been to this Newtown knitting group for ages so it was good to see all the familiar faces and a few new ones. I was very impressed with Sandra's Sunrise Circle Jacket with the lovely drape. She used Filatura da crosa Zara which was much softer than the original yarn and made for a very flattering line.

As we did this time last year we had an early birthday celebration for the young dragon at Daikoku Teppanyaki in Double Bay. The birthday boy revelled in the theatrical performance of the chef, culminating in a shower of egg, many of which he caught, trained seal style. He's a talented lad.

It's also a bit embarassing to note that this time last year I was patting myself on the back for finishing the back of the Cleckheaton Studio Mohair Cardi and only had the sleeves to go. One Year Later it is still waiting! Considering I have just knitted the Mega Stoppino Jacket in a fortnight (more on that later) something needs to be done. OK - a few differences, the jacket is 10ply yarn on 6mm needles and is a very, very simple pattern, but that is no excuse. Along with the Stash Along (which is proceeding fairly well) I feel the need to do a UFO purge. Therefore any Bendigo yarn splurges I may have been planning are postponed.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Wicked Bendigo

I've just been told that Bendigo, one of the few remaining Australian Woollen Mills and a stalwart of mail-order knitting for so long, has finally got a website. It is simple, easy to navigate and on my favourites already. It's come just at the right time because their Wool, Mohair and Alpaca blend, aka Mystique, looks perfect for Wicked from Zephyr.

Thank you to Pamela for the heads-up.

The Lana Grossa, Mega Stoppino (just rolls off the tongue doesn't it?) is powering along. It's nice to knit on big needles with a big yarn sometimes. Only a right front to finish then all that lovely seaming to do. This is why I normally knit in the round.