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.