Friday, June 29, 2007

Speaking Out

One of the advantages of long commuting hours (besides knitting in the train) is listening to ABC radio. Programmes like Radio Eye, The Night Air and The Nightly Planet make the trip bearable and keep me awake.

Sometimes I hear interviews that make me stay in the car to catch the last details. John Brogdens open and frank discussion with Tony Delroy about his private and public struggle with depression was one of them:

"Often the most outgoing of people are those who in their quiet times when they’re alone the depression will take control. The public face is often the most misleading. It was a long and difficult process for me to come to terms with the fact I was suffering depression."

The former NSW Opposition leader was one of the three million Australians who experienced a major depressive illness during their lifetime - he happened to be in the public spotlight as was Winston Churchill, Les Murray, artist Margaret Olley, Blue Wiggle Anthony Field, Garry McDonald and tragically Paul Hester from Crowded House.

Meg has posted a forthright and revealing story about her own history of Depression and there is much there that I can relate to. I think her Internet campaign to raise awareness for mental health is a worthy cause. As the new patron of Lifeline says;

"the most critical thing that has to be achieved with depression and with other forms of mental illness is that people will talk openly about depression the way they talk about cancer, the way they talk about diabetes, the way they talk about an injury they had in a physical sense.”

Berkshire Pullover

There have been wins.

This is the Berkshire Pullover from Weekend Knitting by Melanie Falick.

It is knitted in Cleckheaton Tempo; a 14 ply wool acrylic blend now discontinued, with a bit of Green Sirdar Nova in the stripes.

It's nice to do a speedy knit now and then and except for a bit of fiddling with the collar this just flew off the 10mm needles. Minimal sewing of seams and plenty of opportunities to try on and adapt to individual preferences.

I think he was happy with the final garment

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Craft Show

Pamela (r) and an owner of Black Alpacas visiting the stall (photo by JenWren)

Up at 5:45am to drive to the city for the Darling Harbour Craft Show. It was a cold windy morning but the rich red sunrise as I traveled along the M4 made up for it. Peak hour made the journey a lot longer than usual and I finally pulled into the parking station 3 hours later. I had volunteered to spend the morning on the NSW Knitter's Guild Stall talking to prospective members (as well as chatting to existing ones). As I was finishing work at 11pm that night I opted to take the car.

My fellow Guild member David traveled down by train so he had a much more relaxing journey knitting. On the stall he attracted a lot of attention with the Filatura de Crosa jumper he was knitting in the round on his Knit Picks needles. Circular needles seemed to be a novelty to a lot of people so he dutifully explained their advantages. The kit was being sold at the Prestige yarn stall so their sales may have increased because of this. Prestige were also selling the latest Debbie Bliss and Louise Harding yarns and pattern books.

My Knitters Choice award for Best Stall of the exhibition goes hands down to Touch Yarns from Alexandra, New Zealand. And that's not just because of the cute nuzelund accent of the guy who sold me a skein of Handpainted Angora/merino blend. The Touch website does not do justice to their extensive range of fibre - it's only when you see several walls of rich colour and texture that this brand comes into its own. They also have some very nice patterns like this little jacket in possum yarn.

Most of the visitors that dropped by the guild stall that morning had a Touch bag full of goodies in their hands - including Kerry from SSK. He had good words to say about a recent Stash Enhancement from Handpainted Yarns and kindly sent me the link.

Out of the 13 or so knitting stalls (from 100 overall) there was the usual knitting stalwarts like Bendigo, Belisa Cashmere and Yarns Galore. I also noticed an increase in Designer stalls selling their own yarn brands and kits; Prudence Mapstone, Jane Slicer-Smith from Signatur Knits, and Claire Paterson (love her garments, no website unfortunately) .

High marks go to the Hand Weavers and Spinners Guild - their 60th Anniversary Exhibition displayed an impressive range of finely crafted items that were also on sale. A rich purple, woven Chenille wrap was very tempting. Lucille Ryan, the H&S Exhibition Co-ordinator, did a fantastic job. The Guild is having an Open Day at Burwood on October 13. I went a few years ago and really enjoyed the displays, the spinning demonstrations and yarn market.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Lessons learnt from zeebee

Garter stitch is not as easy as it looks.

Garter stitch gauge is deceptive and sneaky.

Short rows are harder to read in garter stitch

It's harder to read your knitting in garter stitch.

Grafting is not fun in garter stitch.

Dropping down several rows to fix problems is a hassle in
garter stitch.

Remembering short rows in garter stitch is hard when the knitter has the attention span of a gnat.

Zeebee - a garter stitch hat that in brooklyntweed's hands looks exquisite and simple.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Like Knitting for Chocolate

I missed the excitement of the Winter Magic Festival in Katoomba because I was working but as I am not great in crowds it was no great loss. Instead, on Sunday I travelled up the highway with the young lad in tow for the Magic Festival at the Carrington Hotel. My ulterior motive, of course, was knitting and I used the School for Wizards as an excuse to get him out of the cosy warmth of the house to meet up with a small, intercity and interstate group at the Blue Mountains Chocolate Cafe. I was only able to stay for an hour or so because of the limited entertainment that the cafe had for a 9yr old boy (other than the destructive possibilities of the wax candles used to heat the chocolate) but it I still had a lovely time.

There was talk of blogs, podcasts, science fiction and fantasy and of course, knitting.
David is working on his 127 Filatura Di Crosa Jumper in a rich chocolate shade(very apt) with purple and blue highlights ; Trudi is holding her Aqua Green handspun scarf in mistake rib and wearing a beautiful sweater she knitted in Naturally Vero; Mark is making good progress in Noro Blossom (not Bottom as I misheard) on the same Berkshire Jumper from Weekend Knitting that I have just completed and I think Lara has a hat in stripey sock yarn.

As for me - I was adding several inches to the sleeves of my Berkshire Jumper that was a really quick knit in the 14ply Cleckheaton Tempo (unfortunately discontinued). I love this yarn - it knits fast and goes for miles. Even after finishing the large pullover for the dad I still have enough balls left over to make a junior version of this pattern for the son.

I was sorry to leave so early but the mist was starting to draw in and a Diorama of Mars had to be completed for School so I stocked up on Chocolate rats and Chilli Bombs and we headed home. Thank you to David for coordinating the get-together.

Friday, June 22, 2007

WInter is really here

Penny has sent me these images of snow in Katoomba. This is Katoomba Railway station covered with a few inches that was probably gone by the next day. We haven't had decent snow or rain for so long that is a real novelty.

The Winter Magic Festival is on this weekend so if the snow continues it will be a perfect setting for this solstice event. The forecast is for a fine sunny, frosty day - just like today. Brilliant blue sky and ice on the bird bath.

We didn't see any snow in our backyard because we are four hundred metres below Katoomba and that makes all the diffence. The divider for me is the Boddington Hill at Wentwoth Falls. It's a physical benchmark between the really cold weather and our fairly temperate clime.

I received a parcel in the mail today from Beth in Ohio and it contained my beautiful ISE4 scarf. I picked it up on the way to work so I've just done a photo shoot for it outside (usual odd looks at strange woman holding scarf in the air with one hand while trying to take a photos with the other). As well as the soft and silky Haiku yarn scarf she included sweet treats, soap and a great "Ohio Cookbook". I'm going to try the Buckeyes and the Snickerdoodles. More photos will be forthcoming.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I wish I could frog my computer

We have three of them in the house at the moment (I won't include the many carcasses that are stored under the house awaiting a cheap recycling option) and the only one working at present is the little Apple ibook.
In a predictable sequence of events as soon as I was able to purchase a wireless card for the ibook the power supply of the Dell Desktop died. Not in any spectacular fashion - it just faded away.
Its partner, the generic 'Games' Desktop, had never recovered from one of the lightning bolts that had struck our house several months ago. It seemed to have suffered brain damage and barely knew it was a computer. No Network, no Video Card and definitely no Internet. It was usable if you wanted to work with DOS games - that kept some people happy but I wasn't one of them.

The ibook has been my cyber life saver - I have been able to keep up with all my blogs and email with the added bonus of being able to wander from kitchen to lounge, unhindered by cables or peripheries. I'm amazed at why I didn't do this sooner.

There has to be a down side of course - Printers.

I'm trying to beat the cold weather and knit a scarf from some very soft Eki Riva babycashmere. (Oh No! they're having a sale. I mustn't look!)
This was promised last winter so I'm only a little bit late. The pattern I want to use is the Irish Hiking Scarf - so loved by many ISE4 participants. I have it on the screen in front of me and when I went to print it out I found out that my new, state-of-the-art Lexmark all-in-one printer, that beats as it sweeps as it prints, is NOT compatible with the ibook or any other Mac device. This is despite reviews and other promo material all saying it is. I am not impressed and am only beginning to get an inkling of the discrimination dyehard mac users have to put up with every day.

It won't stop me knitting the scarf of course - it just makes it a bit harder to put the pattern in the knitting bag, and it's not as though I haven't got a couple, several, lots of other things to be getting on with.

Both the PC's are at the vet at the moment and I'm hoping I'll see them back tonight all fixed and ready to go. Despite this the trust has gone , the switch has been made. The computer of choice is this little white one in front of me that has patiently served it's time as DVD player, chess game and juke box. I think I'll call it Cinderella.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Wild Wet Knits in Public

It was a wild and wet knit in public day for Sydney. As many other blogs have already reported ( here, here and here) it was a very good turn out considering the bad weather.

There were lots of Internet acquaintances finally able to meet in person. I loved the synchronicity when I recognised the Central Park Hoodie of Michelle who was then able to meet David, the recipient of her recording of his podcast's theme music. (See here for the actual moment captured on film courtesy of the quick shutter finger of M-H.)

I've finally got back home to the warmth of the mountain cottage today after spending the long weekend in Sydney. The slightly chaotic K.I.P of Saturday was followed by a day of Haircare Product launch in the Studio. I'm glad I get paid to do this because there is no way I would have voluntarily stayed in the same room as all those sulky, skinny, models. We were wondering if their bad attitude is due to lack of a decent meal?

The day wasn't wasted because I did get to take home a show bag with some product in it. Why can't there be more Knitcare product launches with show bags full of goodies?
I can't complain about winning goodies though - especially after I scored another prize (some DPN's and Rare Fire Jewel yarn) from Yarn magazine for answering this anniversary questionaire. Thank you again, Yarn Mag. That's the most I've won for the past 20 years, despite being a regular $2.00 Jackpot lottery buyer. I hope I haven't used up all my luck!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Speedy Yarn

Berroco, 7 balls of Cotton Twist and 5 balls of Touche. Ordered from Yarnmarket mid-May, posted on the 30th of that month and received at the door on the 1st of June.
Slightly gobsmacked to say the least.
What was Knitpicks excuse for not delivering to Australia - something about postage?

In the background is the pattern that inspired this purchase. the Bella blouse from interweave Knits online. I love the lace edging and hope to be able to do it justice.

I'm fairly confident I will be able to start it in a month or two as I have finished the Cleckheaton jacket and have mostly hats and socks in the queue. Here is the finished item pre-blocking;

  • Pattern: Cleckheaton book 952 - design 9a
  • Yarn: 10 x Balls Naturally Yarns Vero Tweed. Body knitted from three strands to reduce 'football jumper stripes' effect. Sleeves completed with one strand.
  • Supplier: Wool Inn
  • Hair by: Just got Out of The Shower

Time for a little pause and an audit on WIP's and Stash Busts.

1 x Berkshire Pullover from Weekend Knitting in Cleckheaton Tempo (Stash)
1 x pair of socks in Sea Wool in the Knitty toe-up pattern
2 x Zeebee hats
1 x Interweave Knits Pullover Flair jumper (stash)
1 x Shepherd Aran 12ply Kepler Sweater (stash)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Kris has posted this courtesy of her co-worker, Devvy Leys who did the artwork. I think it's very clever and fairly self explanatory. To those of you who may have been unaware of the subtext remember this?
I was walking to work when I saw the guys busily painting this and I thought "that's a bold political statement for the Opera House to be making." I was also there when they were brought down to the Paddy Wagon waiting in Central Passage and was one of the few in that crowd that applauded their peaceful, but effective, protest.
So I think this WWKIP day has a message beside crafty pursuits;
"Make Knit not War". Thanks to Kris and Devvy for the poster.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Back to Back Challenge

A beautiful Mountains weekend, the sun is shining, and there's a slight crisp edge to the air. The Young Dragon and I journeyed across the mountains to Kurrajong for the 2007 Back to Back Challenge.

We patted the Corriedale cross sheep that provided the wool that the two teams were spinning and knitting into the jumper; ate cinnamon rolls from the Cake stall, Bacon and Egg rolls from the Rural Fire Brigade Sausage Sizzle, and coffee and hot chocolate from the little stall run by The Turpentine Tree host. On the way out we picked up a little box of locally grown Persimmons from a roadside market.

It was a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Seeing all the beautiful knitted and dyed products on the market stalls inspired me to try my hand at using the Landscape dyes from Virginia Farm Woolworks to microwave dye a skein of yarn myself. I think it has worked and may be destined for bulky socks.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Chatswood goodies

It was a very productive Saturday for me as a consequence of going to Rubi & Lana's knitting group today;
Thanks, David, for telling me about Phantom Zone - it is in Chatswood next to the Magic Shop and I've ordered a Neil Gaiman Graphic Novel from them so I have an excuse to go back soon;" Thanks to Lien for telling me about that great Ten Ren Cha for Tea place with those fantastic green tea rice dishes;

Thanks (lots) to Candy for telling me about the top-down jumper pattern in Yarn magazine, it was exactly what I wanted for my impulse buy of 10 balls of Shepherd DK wool at the Tapestry Craft Sale yesterday. I only popped up there in my lunch break to buy
one Knit Picks cable and walked out with 10 balls of Shepherd Colour 4 me 8ply. I suppose I should be glad I kept it to a minimum.

All in all a fun time. I have also finished the main body of the Cleckheaton top and have only to sew on the lace edging. Unlike Meg's one, mine is going to be a bit more snug.