Saturday, 29 December 2007

Christmas-related Stress

Stress seems to make me knit more. Mhm, hm. Yup, that must be it.

I haven't had time to post, because I've been -

Finishing the Moss Stitch Baby Set. I decided I probably had just enough wool left to make a scarf to go with the hat. And I did! I was half-way through it when I decided to rip it. I knew I wouldn't have enough wool to go the distance, so I reduced the width from 11 stitches to 7 and eked a bit more. Was a pain in the arse at first, but then I got into the rythym, and it was done in no a little bit of time. Here they are:

Modelled by Janie

I bought a baby doll and a barbie from the Salvos to model my baby and doll clothes on. I'm sure you'll see Plastic-Panties-Petunia in a future post.

[If you think that's strange, I named my new fridge Matilda :P ]

Starting a Series of Barbie Clothes. I've had the idea in my mind for a while to make some doll's clothes. After some research on Etsy, I've decided to make some Barbie clothes. I'm not cool enough to make Blythe clothes, let alone afford to buy a Blythe doll to model them on. P. P. Petunia, on the other hand, was only a buck-seventy-five.

Barbie is tolerably kitschy, so I thought, who gives a flying fuck what anyone thinks? (So I was a bit drunk at the time, ok?) I had an idea to make a series of Barbie outfits - skirts, pants, party dresses, with accessories of course! And if I could get my hands on some barbie shoes, then I could offer them for free with the outfits. Then they could be complete. And that's essential for a well-dressed fashion icon, oui? (Ok, so I'm a bit drunk now, wanna make something of it?)

I started with a jumper from the book Knitting in the Round that I had borrowed from the library:

Rather clinical in the plastic bag, no?

I couldn't be bothered getting it out of the bag, let alone taking more than one photo, so you get to see the grey Preppy Skirt behind it. It's mostly finished, except for weaving in the ends (to which I'm slowly becoming reconciled). I'd like to decorate it with a white felt and sequinned flower, circa 1954. I'm also making a mohair scarf, which you can see in the foreground of the pic. I'm making it using I-cord, and I'm not 100% happy with the way it's turning out. I'd rather it was more flat and less tube-y, but I can't be bothered ripping it out. Not after the Baby Scarf. What is it with scarf issues at the moment? Perhaps it's the fact that it's thirty-fucking-seven degrees out there. Those of you who know it will excuse the language.

Yet this morning, just when I had decided that yarn-based crafts where done with for the summer (not to mention moving at all), I was inspired by - and I'm pretty embarrassed by this - a Scooby Doo cartoon. The original was purple and taller than a man, but in response I created my own ... Left-Handed Monster:

The Makings of Another Nightmare

And, no, that safety pin on the front is not to mark where his penis goes! :P He had shorts on in the cartoon! The main gist of it is that the monster has both arms on the same side. I'm also using it as a chance to experiment with making the limbs bent (the left leg in the picture has a slight 'knee') and eventually different forms of decoration. I plan to poke it with sharp needles, folks! I ordered a needle-felting kit on Ebay and I'm just itching for it to come (damned public holidays!). Basically, it's a way to felt wool and attach it to things by poking it over and over with a really sharp needle. It's easy to do at home, with no boiling soapy water, no mess and no fuss. Just a slight risk that you might pierce yourself with an extremely sharp, barbed needle. I have not told my boyfriend yet. Wait, he reads this.... D'oh!

Ah well, real blood is more authentic, right?

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Moving right along

In the past few days I finished the Baby Tunic:

I'm quite proud of this one! Because - A) I designed it myself. B) It helped me get over my fear of Moss Stitch (I'm still scared of doing it on impossibly small needles though a la the Bootee nightmare. C) The sleeves are attached so it seemed like less of a massive undertaking to make it (only two pieces instead of four, or even a spine-chilling six!). D) I kind of fuggered-up and made the back longer than the front, but when I sewed it up I managed to do a bit of bunching and stretching and covered it up quite well. E) I just started it one day as if it wasn't a big deal, and then I just finished it in much the same frame of mind. As if it wasn't going to be a huge effort and take 6 months. Bear in mind we're talking about a GARMENT here, people!!

Then today I finished one that'd been hanging around cause I couldn't find the other ball of wool for it - the Skinny Nature Scarf:

It goes (or not) with the hat I made a few weeks ago. Gosh-durnit, I love working with this wool! It's so luffly and eksotic, dahling. I'll be sad when it's all used up. (Just four-fifths of a ball to go, but I'm thinking of another scarf already.)

I found the wool when I was transferring all my wool from the wardrobe (and the shelf and the floor in front of the wardrobe!) to my new cupboards in the hobby room. Well, some of it, anyway. Ahem. (And yes, that was cupboards).

No more wool-buying for me. Really. Seriously, now. I don't care how cheap it is. You've gotta draw the line somewhere. I haven't even started pulling my fabric out of the wardrobe yet. Now there's another kettle of fish entirely....

What else? My copy of Drunk, Divorced and Covered in Cat Hair arrived the other day. Yessss!!!! I just finished it earlier this afternoon. (Hence no posts in the last few days ;) ) It's the story of Crazy Aunt Purl, who's had a knitting (and everything else!) blog for a few years now, which I've enjoyed reading immensely. The book isn't as spontaneous as the blog, but why would you expect it to be? It still made me laugh out loud many a time, causing my boyfriend to give me paranoid looks every five minutes. Basically, the subtitle of the book sums it all up: "the True Misadventures of a 30-Something who learned to Knit after he Split". It's not all about knitting, though. It's also about moping, eating, dating, having lots of cats, drinking copious amounts of wine and how fantastic friends are. I loved it!
There are also some knitting patterns at the back, some designed by Crazy Aunt Purl, and some by her friends (most of whom are famous in the knitting world). They're more of an additional bonus to the story, not the focus of the book. Most of them are accompanied by a suggested drink. I like her style! This is one book I'll definitely pick up again in a year or two.

[Impromptu book review over]

I added the Skinny Nature Scarf to my shop today. Since the first heady rash of selling fever, I've been checking my email every half an hour (literally, actually) to see if I've sold anything else. Not to be. (Yet??)
However, today I was listed in a Treasury! The Treasury is a slightly strange concept where users of Etsy make up lists of items that they like on themes (or completely randomly if they wish). The catch is that there can be only 222 lists at a time, and they last on the site for a random amount of time between 1 and 3 days. Then they expire to make way for more lists. The only way to make a list is to wait patiently until the number of lists drops below 222 and the "make a list" button appears, and then click on it as fast as your hot little fingers possibly can! So not only is it a hard-worked-for privilege to make a list, but just as much to have one of your items listed on one! And one of mine was!! Eeeeeeeeeeee!

Here is the link, even though it'll only last until sometime on Tuesday 11th December.

I'm sure I've done other stuff, but I can't remember right now. Oh well, I'm sure it'll come back to me while I'm knitting away compulsively....

*wanders off*

Monday, 3 December 2007

What a big week!

Just a quick update - of the things I vowed to finish in my last post, I did manage to finish the Bootees and Mittens:


the Firey Scarf:

Nicely trimmed

and the Deformedest Little Monster:


But just in case I didn't have enough to work on, I started two other projects! A baby tunic:

I made it up myself

and another toy, Frankenstein's Toyster:

He'll be even uglier when I'm done!

I'm planning to sew the pieces together with really red, chunky, gory wool, with large stitches, and make his arms and legs from different yarns, and make him look as cobbled together as possible. In a really cool and artistically valid way, of course!

I haven't done much knitting because it's been too hot, and my hands get all sweaty and I feel like drawing instead. Here's an example of the type of theme I seem to return to a lot, a kind of half-abstract swirling design:

I bought a really cool book online called Altered Books Workshop. Basically, you take an old book, and you rip out half the pages, and paint all over the rest and stick shit all over it and basically bugger it up completely. I was horrified yet fascinated at the same time. Even if the book is about parliamentary process in 19th century Albania, surely some one, somewhere might want to read it?
I managed to find a children's board book with such ugly pictures and useless text that I could bear to ruin it. (It's called Colours and the complete text is: "pink orange green red purple". I think I could cope.) Anyway.


My online shop is finally open, as of 28th November!!! Wooohooooo!! I'm really excited, and really scared at the same time. The capitalist money-grubbing side of me wants to sell lots of things and make lots of money, and surprisingly I'm having no pangs at the thought of letting the things I've made go. On the other hand, for every photo that I posted, a voice in my head went, "gee, that's shit. Everything else on this website is beautiful art, and that's a pile of amateur crap."

Damned voice!

But then somebody bought something!! And it wasn't even what I considered to be one of my best things, I have to admit. I really hope she likes it and isn't disappointed when she opens the package. I sent her a free bookmark that I painted. What I considered to be my best bookmark of the batch I made. Shoulda scanned it first. Durnit. I guess it's even more of a gift if it can't be reproduced and sold to someone else. ;)

It's funny, making stuff for myself has become completely boring and useless all of a sudden. I keep having ideas, but not for myself. I had an idea for a crocheted scarf today. I want to try them out, and then do something useful with them instead of having them languish in my bedroom. This really is a good thing for me. It's not really about making money. I've spent a lot more than I've made so far, and I probably will for some time to come! But knowing that what I make is (hopefully) going to be transferred to someone else and will be of some use to them is inspiring my urge to create.

*yawns* all this philosophical rambling is making me sleepy

Monday, 19 November 2007

Gett Off aka I >>HEART<< MY Ipod

1. Put your iTunes, Windows Media Player, etc. on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.

1 Are you a male or female?

Safety Dance - Men Without Hats

2 Describe yourself?

Smoke It - The Dandy Warhols

3 How do you feel about yourself?

Mothership Reconnected (Daft Punk Remix) - Scott Grooves

4 Describe your ex boyfriend/girlfriend:

My Hump - Black Eyed Peas

5 Describe your current partner.

Ringo - Custard

6 Describe your current location

Tainted Love (Extended Mix) - Soft Cell

7 Describe what you want to be:

Flawless - The Ones

8 Describe your best friend:

Song Formerly Known As - Regurgitator

9 Your favorite color is:

Love Comes Quickly - Pet Shop Boys

10 You know that:

Shining Star - Earth, Wind & Fire

11 What is the weather like?

Come On Eileen - Dexy's Midnight Runners

12 If your life was a television show, what would it be called?

Crash - Gwen Stefani

13 What is life to you?

Barbie Girl - Aqua

14 What is the best advice you have to give?

Fucken Awesome - Spiderbait

15 Describe your love life:

Song 2 - Blur

16 How are you going to die?

Do What You Wanna (Verve Remix) - Ramsay Lewis

17 If you could change your name, what would you change it to?

Crystal - New Order

18 What do your friends think of you?

When I Come Around - Green Day

19 What is your funeral song going to be?

Mary - Supergrass

20 What are you going to repost this as?

Gett Off - Prince

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Back to work for you!

Play time is over, kiddies! It's back to work for me. After a couple of days of nail-biting after signing up for a temp agency, the lovely lady called me - about once every five minutes! (Not complaining, though!) Apparently I'm hot stuff, and I have a pretty good-sounding gig to keep me going full-time for at least the next month.

I wasn't sitting around twiddling my thumbs on my time off though, oh no! I was furiously knitting and crocheting and sewing and drawing away. I made this on Cup Day:

Don't worry, I stopped to watch the race!

I also finished the Creamy Scarf on the same day:

So fluffy!

Then I felt like more of a challenge, so I worked for a while on the Heirloom Baby Blanket:

Bad, bad, evil picture!

I know it's hard to make out, but I think it'll be wonderful in the end. I'm making it for Sarah and Adrian. I decided that I wanted to make something a bit more special, well, heirloom, basically, instead of churning out acrylic gew-gaws all the time. I started it a while ago, but it was in the back of the cupboard for a while. I get it out when I feel like something a little more brain-worthy.
The stitch markers on it are from an amazing Etsy shop called Hide and Sheep. It has beautiful accessories for knitting; I wanted to use something special instead of just bits of wool like I normally do.

Then, I got out my sewing machine and whipped up some pouch-type things to keep my knitting in:

So much nicer than a plastic bag, no?

I also started a couple that are more like handbags, with handles at the top, in blue corduroy. Then the light bulb on the sewing machine conked out, and it started chewing up the fabric, which I took as a sign to do some crocheting instead.

I got inspired by the sequins that I'd crocheted onto the pouch, and I decided I wanted to do a wool embroidery. I'm not showing it here because I can't decide if it's naive and quirky, or just plain hideous. It does have a crocheted 'frame' which is actually quite good though. Maybe next post.

Then, I felt like amigurumi-ing it up, so I started a creature. I wanted to make it as unsymmetrical and strange as possible, and I may have just succeeded. I call him The Deformedest Little Monster. He's almost finished, so I think I might wait until I've gone all the way (ahem) before I take a photo.

Speaking of finishing stuff, I have a real problem. I always told myself that I'd have no more than 12 projects on the go at any one time. I currently have 17. And that doesn't include the AIDS Baby Vest which I decided not to count as it's a charity project. (Sneaky, huh?) So I had a look at my projects, and I vow to finish the following projects within the next week:

- iPod Cozy
- Skinny Nature Scarf
- The Deformedest Little Monster
- Boo-tay & Mi-Uh
- Firey Scarf (It just needs the fringe trimmed, for fuck's sake!!)
- Flower Facewashers (This one might kill me - all the weaving in.... nooooo!)

- Not to mention the two bags that I'm half-way through sewing
- and the embroidery which I still have to neaten up


Wednesday, 7 November 2007

SHOP STUFF - Knitting Machine


All right! Yesterday I churned out not one, but two items!
Here they are in progress (finished pics later):

Hat made with Katrine pure wool.

I made this because I wanted to work with a wool that's interesting, and I think this fits the bill!

Creamy, sparkly scarf.

I had been planning to make a neutral-coloured version of the firey scarf for a while, and I thought, what the heck! It's narrower than Firey, but I didn't have as many matching colours to work with. I think that's fine, though.

I'm, like, a knitting machine! No, hang on, somebody already thought of that.

I'm going to sell both of these in my shop. When it opens. Don't ask.
Boy downloaded a pirated copy of MYOB for me, so I can just generally teach myself how to use it (for my own betterment and stuff), as well as seeing if it'll be good to use for the shop. I think it's too complicated. Why do I need a payroll?? I'm not gonna have staff! Actually, a masseur might be good.....

Monday, 5 November 2007

A whole lotta thinking

- my nephew
- my job

- freedom
- determination
- about 15kgs*

Still trying to figure out if it balances...

Everything got put on hold for a while - a few things happened that needed all my attention, and I had to make a few decisions. Even knitting just didn't seem the right thing to do to calm me down and help me think. Some things were way more important - like comforting my family after the premature birth of our AJ. Other things seemed an unimportant 'no-brainer' decision - like weighing up whether to keep putting up with the stresses of my job, or quit and face uncertainty, but also freedom to follow my goals.

I knew this was the right decision the day after I handed in my resignation letter, when I realised that I'd spent the whole evening drawing and painting, and I'd slept better than I have in about 6 months. My boyfriend had to wake me up! Whereas normally I would wake up at about 5.30am and just lie there with my eyes shut for a couple of hours, trying not to think about work.

Yeah, I know, I used the 'G' word up there - scary huh? Just a few years ago, "goals" was a dirty word to me. Who had time to think about the future? I spent all my time doing as little work as possible and trying to be content with having as little money as possible. :)
I always had goals, really, I just told myself they were 'things I wanted to do one day'. Over time, as I got more confidence, they slowly started turning into, 'things I'm going to do one day', and then 'things I'm going to do soon'.

Anyhoo, the upshot of all this is that I'm going to open an online shop on Etsy. Now, I know that when I read a blog, and they wang on all the time about their online shop and try and get you to buy stuff from it, it's unbelievably boring and just makes you want to never read it again. So I'm going to try and keep that to a minimum. Perhaps I'll put it in a separate section at the bottom of my posts so you can just click off it if your eyes start to glaze over.

I did start making a little thing last night however:

It's an iPod cozy! I just got some cotton out and started working away with not much plan. I'm thinking I might embroider it with some yellow flowers or something once it's done. Only one snag however - before I got a chance to finish it, I broke my crochet hook!!
Guess I don't know my own strength! Before you start thinking I have superpowers all of a sudden, it was actually a bamboo one, not metal. I now have a new rule for the purchase of crafting tools though -

Don't buy any bamboo tools unless they are thicker than your little finger.
Otherwise - SNAP!

* that's 15kgs I've gained since the start of the year, not since my last post!!

Monday, 22 October 2007

"A" Bear

I'm making 'A' Bear for my nephew:

Adrian Joseph George

He was born 5 months too soon, and left us the same day.

His mother Sarah and father Adrian wanted to give him a teddy bear to keep him company where he's going. So I'm making one for him.
I wish I could do more.


Monday, 15 October 2007

I'm finally back!

That's how long it took me to get my internet back. On supposedly one of the better telcos in Australia. *suppresses rage*

I haven't been knitting or crafting much anyway, so you haven't missed much. I've only been working on what I've decided to call Ocean Girl, because of its colour:

This is the dress before I ripped it completely back to the beginning because I realised I wouldn't have enough wool. My calculations are in the background. Thankfully that was a couple of weeks ago - I'm over the pain now. This is what the original looks like:

I figure the frill is entirely optional!

So the dress has been shortened to a tunic. I had to rip it back entirely, because it was designed to flare at the bottom and it was knitted from the bottom up. I've finished the front now, and almost finished one sleeve. I have until October 30th. I may be screwed. We'll see.

More in a few days maybe, I'm very tired now. Good night!

Monday, 10 September 2007

Craft Progress ... Or Lack Of?

I was going to wait until I had finished more stuff before I posted again (procrastination being the better part of my weekend), but I'm having ex-flatmate server problems at the moment, and it seems I'll be losing internet access in a few days, and might not have it back again for up to a week. It's fairly usual for me to not post for a week anyway, but you never know. Someone out there might think I've died or something...


I have a confession to make. In my last post, I said that I had finished the Berry Bonce hat. It wasn't true. I still had the ends to weave in. I'm actually not really ashamed. I don't care one little bit. You see, I've lost my motivation for making things for other people. I just can't get up the motivation to keep on plowing away if it's not me that gets to wear it or use it afterwards! Sure, I have these high-handed notions of making excruciatingly fine and details baby shawls and bootees and jackets, but am I really going to finish them?
I sometimes wonder if the things I make for other people actually get used. Do they think they're too precious to use and they don't want to ruin them? Do they not wear them because they're fugly? Do they (e.g. Boy) wear them out of a sense of loyalty and not wanting to hurt my feelings? I'm just paranoiding again. Sorry. I really have to snap out of that if I want to start selling my works! Here's the Berry Bonce:

Mmm, yummy!

I now feel like I can start on something else. Will it be the heirloom baby blanket? Or the Elizabeth Zimmermann Baby Surprise Jacket? Or something totally mean and selfish?

I'm well along on the Baby Bum pants:

I'm really quite happy with the fair aisle bit just after the ribbing, and the colours. too. I actually managed to find some pure wool in my stash in gorgeous colours that co-ordinate well. I couldn't have asked for more! I don't want to give the darn thing away! I'll probably ruin the end part with the leg-holes though, and then I'll be quite content to give them away. Hmmm, is this why I'm such a bad knitter???

Last but not least, the piece de resistance - I finished the Happy Baby Grassy Feet!

Groovin' in the grass

They turned out much better than I had hoped for. I was really worried about the sewing up, but I just followed the instructions in Elizabeth Zimmermann's book, and they look almost perfect! The cords were a bit of a pain to make. Boy helped me with them - he's a gem! I was hoping to have the rest of the bootees and mittens made by now, but I've found that, not havin much spare time, I'd rather just do whatever I feel like than forcing myself to do something I don't want to do at the time. Ravelry has helped immensely with that actually. Instead of a situation where I'm moaning about the thought of trawling through all my stash for a ball of wool that I thought I remembered I had, I can just look it up online, even from work, note down the location and go straight to it! My motivation to knit and start new projects has been so much higher since I joined. Or got in, I should say. As it's still in beta testing, there are only a limited number of users (first in, first served.) There are over 19,000 people on the waiting list, apparently. I hope they won't have to wait too long.

Enough of wool. Spring is in the air and I'm branching out to new things. On the weekend I went to Polyester and bought some zines:

It's pretty much a random selection of stuff that looked appealing. I'm really liking reading them, and learning a lot. I think it's great that people are sharing their personal stories, their writing and art. Speaking of art *sniggers*, here's my second LOLcat:

The knack seems to be not in thinking of a funny caption, but actually getting a decent picture of the damned cat!!

Friday, 31 August 2007

Life Whirlwind

My life has been like a whirlwind lately. A willy-willy of change, if you will.

Right after I last posted, I finished the Jaynes. I was extremely excited to be able to hand them over to E and T, who squealed and jammed them on their heads immediately.

We don't get out of bed for less than 10,000/day, dahhhhhling.....
Thank you to Boy, who helped me weave in the ends (the bit I hate the most, see all the 90% finished projects in the sidebar ------->) and made the pompoms for me.

Then I got swept up in the whirlwind of baby knitting. All of a sudden, my pregnant work colleague started ballooning out to alarming proportions, which had me all in a tizzy - I have to make lots and lots of baby clothes, NOW!. As if she was gonna blow at any minute, like a large Moby-Dickian sea creature. Images of myself on a soaking wet rolling deck, wearing fisherman's gear and frantically waving little bootees and bonnets around swept into my head. So I have a vivid imagination, ok?

So as not to leave out my brother's baby, even though it's not due til January, I started a more intricate, long-term, guilt-assuaging project - a pair of bootees made on 3mm needles, mostly in moss stitch:

I call them "Thrilled". The pattern comes from an old booklet (c. 1950s?) of bootees and mittens that I bought from Ebay about a month ago. The pattern is called 'Happy'. I don't know why, because it's gonna take me for-bloody-ever to knit them! For a start, you begin with 49 stitches, increase 15, and you're supposed to end up with 69! Why, why, why? It's a one-row-at-a-time kind of project. My mantra for this one is: 'I have til January, I have til January...'

Then I was too tired to knit for about 4 days. Work was so draining, I didn't even have the energy to hold up a pair of needles. Just when I needed to do something to de-stress. I didn't even have TV reception, dammit! But then finally things calmed down a bit, and I continued the Berry Bonce, which was a breeze compared to Thrilled, and as of yesterday, it's finished!

"Finished" here means only have 2 ends to weave in,
which are easily tucked to the back. Ahem.
It's lucky I finished "finished" that, because I started a new baby project yesterday as well - I'm calling it the Baby Bum. It's one of those underpant thingies the baby wears over its nappy. In the US they call them Soakers; I don't know what they're called here.

At least the waist band is finished!
Yes, I'm using the dreaded double-pointeds again. It's a bit more difficult to hold the needles the new way with this project, because it's larger than the Berry Bonce, but I'm getting there. I also hate doing ribbing with DPNs, but it's only for the first 5cm, and there's some interesting fair aisle work straight afterwards, so I can cope. *grinds teeth*

I'm going to break away from knitting for a little while, and talk about art. I bought 2 prints from Etsy* the other week, and I just adore them!

Trying not to breach copyright too much. See the shop.
I got them framed, and it cost 4 times as much as the prints themselves did, but it was sooooo worth it! My bare loungeroom looks positively spiffy now!

From Etsy I also bought my first zines! Mama would be proud! I bought Stolen Sharpie Revolution, which is a zine all about making zines. According to Craftypod, it's The resource for making your own zine. I also bought another one by the same author Practical Body Modification, which is all about her experience with getting an IUD. They're both great examples of interesting, informative zines. I want my own zine, Mommy!

These experiences have inspired me to get out the paints and continue to create my own works, so the other night I made some ACEOs:

Far left and far right: finished. Rest: who knows?
It left me feeling creative, peaceful, calm and slightly embarrassed. I'll probably always have that voice inside me saying, 'whatever you do is crap. It's just not good enough'. Shut up, damned voice!

* I'm thinking about buying the keyring someone has made that says 'Etsy is my crack'. That's how much I love this website!

Katie's first lolcat!

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. My first LOLcat!

It's hard to take a good photo of that kitty-cat!

The battery in my camera conked out before I could take a close up.

Saturday, 18 August 2007

a new way of doing things

I taught myself something new the other day, and it's something pretty major. And I'm quite proud of myself, but also a little ashamed. It all goes back to the beginning. My roots. What my Oma taught me as a child, and what her working-class Oma taught her.

Basically, there are two ways of holding the needles: the industrial or "Cottage" way, and the "Drawing Room" way (these are not official terms). Up until the mid-nineteenth century, no-one knitted for fun. Rural, working-class women knitted stockings in their spare time to make a little extra money - 'little' being the operative word. With the industrial age came machines that churned out stockings faster and more cheaply, and hand-knitting was in decline. In the 1840s, suddenly knitting was turned into a middle-class diversion. Ladies knitted as a way to show off their skill and industriousness in an inoffensive way, as reading was seen as too intellectual and anti-social. The advocates of this "Drawing Room" knitting insisted on a new way of holding the needles however, as if they were pencils. This served the two-fold purpose of showing off their delicate hands to potential male suitors, and disassociating their activity from the lower-class, commercially motivated activity of stocking-knitting.

Cottage Knitting style

Drawing Room style

My Oma taught me how to knit holding the needles in the good old, working class, left-wing, anti-establishment, pinko, commo "Cottage" style. And when I found out more about what it was all about, I was proud. Knitting in this style is faster. You can easily knit even the bulkiest sweater, as you are holding onto the needle from the top, not from underneath. The only disadvantage is that you have to loosen your grip on the needle a little as you loop the yarn around it every time. But that's easily solved. In Europe, as well as here in Australia, long needles are easy to obtain. All you have to do is tuck the right-hand needle under your arm and it's securely held in place. That's fine, and I find it the most comfortable, easiest and quickest way of working.


Whenever I'm working with double-pointed needles, this just doesn't work. By necessity, DPNs are short. Otherwise it would just get crazy. Here's a picture to illustrate:

Having DPNs long enough to tuck under your arm would just be ridiculous. [Although I've read that they're obtainable in Holland. Hmmm!] I had two choices whenever I worked with them:

1) put the knitting down every time I wrapped the yarn around the needle to make a stitch, and then pick it up again. Every knitter I'm sure, can remember doing this in the beginning, and how frustratingly slow it was!
2). Poke the needle into my stomach to anchor it. When I remember to shield myself with a towel, etc. it only hurts slightly. When I forget, I tend to ruin my clothes by putting little holes in them on the front right-hand side. Oops.

I wanted to make a baby hat (the Berry Bonce, pictured above) using a particular pattern in the round. But it required using DPNs. I groaned and tutted. The situation was just not tenable. Why do I seem to be the only person in the blogosphere who hates working with DPNs with a passion? I had a think about it. I seem to be the only person I know who knits in the Cottage way. Everyone I've seen holds their needles in the Drawing Room way. There must be some advantage to it. Then it dawned on me! If you're holding the needle from underneath, it's supported the whole time by your hand! Genius! So I gave up my pride and gave it a go.

It only took about 5 rows before I was starting to get the hang of it. Then I was doing it. Betraying my heritage, maybe, but I tried to put that aside and just mentally tick off a new technique that makes my skills more rounded and my understanding more complete.

Now I'm just whipping through the Berry Bonce:

I can't decide if I'm happy with the way the striping is turning out or not. Time will tell.

P.S. To find out more, read the summary of A History of Hand-Knitting that I posted here. Or better still, read the book itself!

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Baby (Not mine!!! :P )

I seem to knit more when I'm stressed. This week, I finished both the Boo-tay and the Mi-uh up to sewing up stage:

Need a needle taken to 'em.

Before I even finished knitting the Boo-tay, I started Happy Baby Grassy Feet:


I was thinking of naming them something that referred to marijuana, but then I took a step back (mentally, of course) and thought, 'hang on a minute, it is going to be a baby wearing these!' So cuteness prevailed over edginess. Happy Baby Grassy Hands will follow, of course.

I was still feeling a bit stressed on Sunday, so I decided to start something bigger. I had been thinking about Elizabeth Zimmermann's Tomten Jacket (named after a mythical Swedish elf-like creature) since I finished reading Knitting Without Tears earlier in the week. It's basically a jacket knitted all in garter stitch, with the back and front in one, and the sleeves knitted up from the armholes. The only section that needs to be sewn is the underarm. The back and front join together into a hood at the shoulders. It's an intriguing design. I'm a bit daunted by the grinding, hair-pulling, cask-drinking 80 rows of plain garter stitch over 112 stitches in the beginning, but hopefully the pull of the interesting stuff at the end will keep me going. On 4mm needles, it should make a good 3-6 month old baby jacket. I decided to make it in primary colours, as I'm still 7 months away from knowing whether it's a boy or a girl. I'm thinking I might knit up a white border all around to unify and and add a button closure. I've already knitted 16 rows - 2 stripes worth! And that was just on the way to Car City to visit my new car! Woohoo! Seven months seems like nothing to worry about at the moment.

active knitting meditation - can you do that with this shade of red??

Oh yeah, remember that Yarn Diet I went on a few months ago? Completely busted! As is the real diet "healthy lifestyle changes" that I've been on for the last couple of years. At least you can't really eat while you're knitting. Wine is a completely different matter, of course....

Stashy goodness

Most of this stuff is for baby clothes and for stuff to sell (eventually, admittedly), so I feel fine about it. I don't feel quite so good about finishing entering my stash into the Ravelry Stash Database. I have 194 balls of wool. That's not a typo. One-hundred and ninety-four. My boyfriend says that when he moves in, I could keep the stash in the foyer cupboard instead of the wardrobe so that there'll be room for his clothes in the wardrobe. I don't mind. The cupboard is bigger. That's just fine with me.

Friday, 10 August 2007

I love my boyfriend's parents!

I know you don't hear that very often, but I really do! Boy's Mum gave me this fabric she won in a raffle last weekend:

Isn't it cute?

It's enough to make a top and a skirt!

Roll on sewing weather!

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Things happening

I know I haven't posted in over a week, sorry about that, but there have been quite a few developments. Where to begin?

First - I did a little work on Ami Chihuaua, and he now has 2 back legs as well as a tail. I now have several puncture wounds in my fingers - and one in my lip, don't ask - so Ami has been shoved into the back of the cupboard to think about his behaviour for a while. No pictures because I was too disgusted.

Second - I accidentally bought some more vintage knitting patterns on Ebay last week:

Aren't they amazingly retro? I just had to, because, you see that one titled Afghans in the centre? I'm actually making the one on the front cover! I found that very booklet in a pile of magazines at my Oma's house when I was about 14 years old, and spent a few minutes copying out the instructions. I've been working away on it in fits and spurts ever since, never quite knowing if I copied it out correctly. I hadn't even looked at it for about a year, but seeing and buying this booklet has spurred me on to do at least 3 rows on it!:

Wedge no. 8. 6 to go!

And I bought the other booklets cause it would be a waste of postage money just to order one item. Plus they have the most amazing pictures in them. They are giving me ideas for making zines with the pictures and adding captions and copying the text and using it as a background. I even thought about making one with some of the knitting patterns I have made up and binding it nicely and adding some drawings and making maybe 10 copies and selling them. Being on Ravelry and seeing "Designed by ApartmentCat" from "The Barely Competent Knitter" has gone to my head, obviously! I'm taking those podcasts and websites that say anyone can make zines way too seriously! I keep getting all excited about things, but I don't have the time to follow through anymore. I need to structure my time better.

On the aquiring things front - I also received my first issue of KnitSimple magazine last week. I had forgotten that I'd subcribed to it, when a mysterious envelope arrived from Sweden (?!). (Perhaps that's the 'rest of the world' distrubution cetnre?) It's put out by the same people who make Vogue Knitting, but unlike that magazine, it has projects for people who DON'T have the technical skill of Meg Swanson, the patience of Richard Rutt, the imagination of Barbara Walker and the chutzpah of Elizabeth Zimmermann. People like me, for example. Unfortunately, it's prone to the same utterly lame and annoying puns of its more sophisticated parent. For example, a pattern for legwarmers is called Fiddle-Dee-Knee. A blurb about decorated bowls is titled Bowl Me Over. A pattern for a cowl-neck jumper is called Cowl Play. I started reading them out to my flatmate, and she begged me to stop. I had to put it down and take a breather when I got to page 10. However, when I got to the actual patterns, there were some really nice ones. There's a 3-colour vest I'm coveting quite badly. Some of the baby things are very nice too (more on that later!!)

More acquiring things - I was at Borders lst Thursday, I had a 30% off voucher, what was a girl meant to do? I bought this:

Yes, I finally have the seminal work by the knitting goddess herself! *bows down and worships* Though it's a new edition, it's a photostatt of the original. So it seems more authentic. I'm reading it right through, even the technique instructions, and savouring it.

I'm starting to realise that this post is quite long, so I'm going to cut it short.

Mindless knitting:

Firey Sideways Scarf - crocheting, technically

New Project:


Why baby gear, I might hear you ask? Cause I'M GONNA BE AN AUNTIE!!! First I was flabbergasted. Then I was scared. Then I was excited. Then I thought, 'what do I knit first??' I could go on, but I've already said I won't. How can I top that? I'll just finish there.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Delays and confumbuments

The knitting has slowed down a little, cos I had to read the Harry Potter book. But thankfully that only took me until about 3pm on Sunday, so I have my normal life back again! Whether or not that's a good thing remains to be seen...

I worked on the Jaynes quite a bit last night. Both the hats themselves are finished, and the first one has 1 1/2 earflaps at the moment. The excitement is building! I think I'll be almost as excited to give them to their recipients as they will be to receive them!

Next, I want to work on finishing Ami Chihuahua and the Sachets (both Fruit and Square). I figure if I get all the nasty stuffing and such out of the way in one hit, I'll feel better about it. Plus, there'll be the pleasure of working with my essential oils to scent them. I haven't done anything with them for so long. I'm eyeing off a bath bomb making kit on Ebay as we speak!

I bought some wool to make an Amigurumi Cat when I was at Lincraft the other week, but now I'm thinking of making an owl instead. Cause I bought my Harry Potter at Borders, and you are supposed to get a free stuffed owl, but the lady wrote "no owl" on my collection slip, and the handwriting was so bad and I was so bored, that I didn't realise til I was paying for the book. So I didn't query it, because I was just happy to have the book, AND to get the adult version and not the fugly, Pratchett-style kids version. But I'm not sure if my personal Potter-mania will last long enough to carry me through a whole project.

No pictures today as I'm at work, but here's something:

Your Score: Sad Cookie Cat

60% Affectionate, 45% Excitable, 73% Hungry

You are the classic Shakespearian tragedy of the lolcat universe. The sad story of a baking a cookie, succumbing to gluttony, and in turn consuming the very cookie that was to be offered. Bad grammar ensues.

P.S. I've decided to call acrylic Muggle Wool from now on.

Monday, 16 July 2007

Knittin' Time

Things are coming along nicely. Which is quite surprising considering how much full-time work cuts into your crafting time. *sighs*

I finished the main part of the first Jayne on the weekend, so I started the second one. I always do it when I have to make two of something. It cuts down on the Second Sock Syndrome. The hats are coming along so quickly though! I'm really happy with them so far:

Jayne 1

Jayne 2

Sorry, I just couldn't resist trying them on!
I'd say if all goes to plan, they'll be finished by the end of this week! Yay!

I also started my amigurumi journey last week. I decided to start with the Ami Chihuahua that I found on Ravelry:

Puppy Guts

As of tonight, I've finished the head, body ears and legs. I still have the tail and muzzle applique to go. And the optional bandanna around the neck. To be honest, I wish I'd chosen something a bit simpler for my first one. All the little legs etc are a bit fiddly to make, and the head is a different shape to the picture. But as Boy says, it'll probably take more of a proper shape when it's stuffed (I hope!). Or else it'll just be stuffed! E-heh-heh Bad pun, excuse me! I don't know what came over me.

The Ami Snake pattern is looking really good to me right about now though...

Last but not least ... I finished the Boy scarf tonight!!!:

What a handsome neck!

Yes, that's right, poor Boy no longer has to go around with a freezing cold neck, in the coldest winter since it was last really cold. He seems to like it, and I really like it too. The only disappointment is that I used a wavy cable pattern that I made up. But it's difficult to make out the pattern with the yarn I used, but it's so lovely and squooshy and warm that it makes up for that.

I am freaking out a bit, cause when I put things on Ravelry, people seem to see them. I know it's supposed to be a knitting "community", but I'm the original Knitting Hermit, and I'm not used to other people taking an interest in or even noticing what I do craft-wise. I mention this because I entered the wavy cable pattern for the Boy Scarf in as an original pattern made up by me. A few days later, one of the administrators of the site sent me a message asking if they could use my photo of the Boy Scarf to illustrate it! As if it was actually good or something! I was very flattered, but I was also a bit freaked out. I never thought of myself as a designer, I just make things up as I go along because it's easier and quicker for me than trying to figure out a pattern most of the time. *shrugs* That's just how I work. To me it doesn't deserve to be singled out on a website. I'm just lil ole me! Barely Competent, like it says!

*tries to hide behind a bush*