Monday, 30 July 2007

Can't stop to talk...

I've got lace to knit. How come no-one mentioned this stuff was so addictive??? How cool is it to just go row after row on the chart and watch all this glorious holey stuff fall out from under your needles?

I just wanted to flash my finished one row scarf, kntted on 6mm needles in Vintage Hues (2 and a half balls):

Right then, I'm off again. Gotta get my fix um, something else done, yeah, thats right, I think I hear Pirate Jim calling.... fingers...twitching...

Friday, 27 July 2007

Friday Miscellany

Fashion Disasters R Us
Thankyou everyone for your supportive and sympathetic comments on my pathetic shopping trip this week, especially in the face of my self-indulgent rant. Ms Spider and Jejune, thankyou for your extraordinarily generous offers. I will be discussing these with you sometime soon! I've gone from down and frumpy to angry - angry that the fashion nazis force us into such crap choices, whilst totally removing any actual choice. Bias cut skirts might be your thing, but if they're not in fashion, too bad. Sadly, I do indeed sew, as Tanya suggested, but very badly with the end result that I have spent squillions on fabric and have a massive Pile of Shame and very few wearable things.

RoseRed is so right on two fronts: 1) I totally ignored the "rules of shopping" by going out with something in mind, ipso facto meaning I would never find it. (see next section for irrefutable proof of this rule). And 2) Trinny and Susannah do indeed know their stuff, and I hereby vow to seek out their literary works.

I think that's what upset me most - is that I can't seem to find my own sense of style. I do have a very nasty streak, however, that makes no hesitation in pointing out how badly other people dress (by that I mean strangers, and certainly not to their face - not that brave or silly!!). Beloved is always rousing on me for being mean. I guess I am a little; but hey, I might be daggy, but at least I wear clothes in the right size for me!

Shopping Goddess Smiles Once More
In complete proof of the rules of shopping, when Pirate Jim and I got out to the shops yesterday (he was an Angel of the highest order, bless him; little did I know he was working up to today, but that's another story!), we were on our way home with a full trolley, and on a whim I took the exit to the carpark that goes through the major department store at our local plaza / mall. I noticed a nice looking cardigan on a sale rack and .....30 minutes later, I tried on half their range and found 2 fabulous (well-fitting!) pairs of casual, not-black pants (dark brown cords and dark blue brushed cotton), the cardi (mid grey, very fine, below hip length with waist tie), a cinnamon brown polo neck pullover in the same fine wool and a beautiful teal-green scoop neck long-sleeve top.

So I have somewhat redeemed myself, although somewhat wounded the credit card in the process. However, all the items were on sale (the cardi was reduced by 40%), and I don't mind paying a bit more for quality stuff that fits properly. I think I've done my dash for winter though!

Namesdays and Fairy Cakes
Wednesday was Pirate Jim's Namesday (namestag). If you don't have a catholic or european background, you might not be familiar with this concept - I wasn't before hooking up with Beloved, but any culture that lets you celebrate and receive gifts twice each year is fine by me!

It goes like this: most names are directly, or can be derived, from a saint. As one who shares that name, you get to celebrate on the day for that saint. Think St George's David's (edited because Im a dunderhead; thanks Tinkingbell!) day in Wales, St Patricks day in get the idea. In Germany (the Catholic part anyway), you usually host an afternoon tea with lots of yummy cakes, everyone brings a small pressie, then after a suitable period of restraint (about the time it takes to clear the coffe pot and cakes plates) you get into the beer and schnapps.

So Wednesday was St Pirate of M'Hearty's Day. We didn't make a big fuss of it for PJ, but we did send him along to childcare with some fairycakes, inspired by the recent post on Mouthfuls of Heaven by RoseRed.

Mine didnt rise quite so well, but there wasnt even a crumb left in the cake box when I picked up PJ on Wednesday arvo.

Yay, some Good Mama points!

Dayflower KAL
As Kuka reported, she, Bells and I are having a little min-KAL for our first lace (or almost first - lace with training wheels perhaps). We have choasen the Dayflower scarf.

I cast on when PJ went to bed, and after one false start and about half an hour, I have a just a tiny something to show.

It's only about half a pattern repeat, but so far so good - once I realised that keep 3 sts at start and finish of every row in garter stitch for the edge meant EVERY row, not just the RS ones. Der. The yarn is a much paler, softer green than in this pic.

I'm off to knit more. With wine - not sure how advisable this is when knitting lace, but since today has been One of Those Days, as Tinkingbell so eloquently put it yesterday, wine is definitely the answer!

G x

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Somebody call the Fashion Police

I was really looking forward to today. This afternoon to be precise. The bit directly after midday, when I was planning to walk out of the office and have a lovely afternoon off, cruising the shops, picking up all those odds and ends I keep a list of in my handbag, touching all the pretty stuff, getting started on my xmas shopping (yeah right - but the thought of 4 whole hours to myself is so foreign I actually thought I might have time to do just that!).

I haven't bought any news clothes in over 6 months. Not that Im a fashion plate - anyone who has met me knows Im a denim kind of girl, love my good old standby jeans and blunnies, certainly don't "follow fashion" as it were. But I like to cruise the racks, pick up a few new things each season (of which I consider there are two for clothes - summer and winter), some for work, some for casual, nothing too edgy. But Pirate Jim and change rooms don't go together these days, so it's a rare thing.

So I was pretty excited about getting out there. I had a wish list - a couple of new, fine classic jumpers that I could wear to work (HATE being cold), maybe some stylish casual tops, some new (non-denim) pants for casual wear. Something landed on my desk at 11:45 that had to be dealt with, but I was on my way at 1:30, so all was not lost.

Not lost, that is, until I got to the shops and started cruising. I started at the start, and worked my way through them all, every store, even the "chicky-babe" shops - that cheap imported 5-minute-fashion for those 15 years younger and 15 kilos lighter than me. Nothing. Nada. Nix.

I do not consider myself that old or daggy, but I feel about 65 tonight - podgy, frumpy, uber-daggy. I held up probably hundreds of items in the space of a few hours, and hardly found anything to try on, let alone buy. Tops that look like sacks, skinny-legged pants, horrible garish "retro" prints, huge chunky knits (from crap yarn!), awful dull colours (well, that dont suit me), HORIZONTAL stripes.....everything made me look huge or try-hard.

So I have finally realised that I need help - I have no style! I have no sense of how to wear any of this stuff, how to accessorise, how to suit my body shape. I see people all over wearing it and looking fine, but I can't figure out what my style is....Ive made it through 30-ish years of clothing myself by either ignoring what suits me (and looking like an idiot - think hot pink bubble skirt circa 1987) or lucking out (I think this probably accounts for the last 10 or so years, coinciding with the occurance of actually caring about how I look).

It was quite a demoralising afternoon. I think I need to mull it over for a while, or maybe this is just one of those "truth on a platter" days that The Mad Mad Housewife had recently, when one realises one is ready for plastic rollers and tweezing stray hairs out of one's chin.

I did end up buying something though, so all was not completely lost.

I bought a new pair of jeans. sigh. I guess Im just a denim kind of girl.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Here be Pirates

The weekend was a little up and down at Chez Kitchen Table - Pirate Jim decided that midday sleeps were for wimps, and insisted on staying up all day. After an hour or so of arguing with him (as only an almost-2-year-old can argue), I generally give up. However, this leads to severe "three-thirty-itis" (to borrow from a very annoying ad campaign), which often leads me to become Bad Mother and resort to Wiggle-therapy so we can all chill out a little.

Wiggle-therapy does, however, give me some time to do "stuff", and on Saturday afternoon this included the attempted application of the patented RoseRed Standard of Stash Systemisation (tm) to my Boodle.

It started out OK - snaplock bags lined up, first drawer of the Boodle Corner on the chair in the living room. Then PJ realised Mama was doing "something" and decided to help, as only an almost-2-year-old can: by releasing all those bags from their imprisonment in the box and then liberating some of the yarn.

Nonetheless, some progress towards the RRSSS was achieved. To borrow one of the most insipid election campaign phrases in living memory: there's lots to be done, but we're headed in the right direction. (Note the NSW ALP campaign supremos: election time is not the time to leave the work-experience kid unsupervised).

We have had fun moments with the Pirate recently too, so I thought I'd do the Proud Mama thing now and share some of the schmalz (turn away now if you're not up for cute pics!). And a special apology to Tinkingbell for taking up bandwidth with so many pics!

PJ loves jam on toast for breakfast....or lunch...or dinner. You wouldn't think it to look at him, would you?

He obviously read Bells recent post on housekeeping (or lack thereof) and decided firm action needed to be taken on the home front:

After which it was time for a nice cuppa and a good sit down. He loves drinking "cafe" from one of our espresso cups (just chocolate milk people, no caffeine here - not that insane!!).
And he loves helping me to cook. He gets a saucepan with water and a wooden spoon and helps out stirring and tasting it on the end of the stove. This is what happened when I asked him to "smile"!!

That doesn't come from my side of the family!

Next time: more knitting content. I think I may be almost ready to start thinking about working up to the preparation for casting on a Sock. gulp. Shame you can't make a sock out of heels. And did I mention I've started dreaming about lace???

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Turning a corner

I have wanted to knit socks for ages, but have had not enough time a thing a mental block OK a gut-wrenching terror about the whole process. Its a combination of kntting in the round on tiny needles with fine yarn in lots of rib, and then theres the heel and the toe. In case youve not looked closely lately, the heel requires knitting around a corner. Georgie runs screaming into the night.

I am in awe of those who knock them out like garter stitch scarves (like my MIL, for one - there's always a pair in my xmas parcel, bless her) and think of heels and toes like a Saturday night bushdancer. Yeehah! You will note I've had a progress bar measuring the work on "My first Spider sock" since this blog's inception, and that it reads exactly ZERO.

So today I bit the bullet, and in the guise of supporting and SnB friend, slunk along to Happy Spider's sock workshop at Craft ACT as part of the Knit1Blog1 exhibition.

Spidey is now officially a legend, cos she taught me to do this:

Behold, a turned heel! Minus the sock part, but we can work on that. In Spidey's gorgeous hand dyed yarn (I hang my head in shame cos I can't find the tag to tell you the colourway! ). I may be almost ready to cast on my first sock. Do you think I can do it in 12-ply?? Just kidding Spidey! If the Knitting Barrister can do it after knitting for exactly 25 seconds, then I can suck it up and give it a go. Watch this space.

In other knitting news, the Vintage Hues ONe-Row Scarf is two balls long, but I think it will need another ball. Its such a fraught decision - too short and I cant loop it, too long and Ive got all this scarf hanging out the bottom of my jacket. What to do?

Looks like another ball. I'm off to get onto that - still a bit feverish with startitis, so this is at least some progress.

G x

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Pay it forward

I haven't had much enthusiasm for blogging this week, I'm afraid. Working 5 days takes it out of you - who on earth ever thought that was a good idea? That, and my startitis is getting worse. I think it might be viral, unfortunately, with symptoms including compulsive surfing of yarn and pattern sites, and making lists of possible yarn substitutes. So I've just been keeping up with what everyone else is up to.

And that includes the Pay it Forward exchange that the Caffeine Faerie has signed up to, and I thought I'd join in. It goes thus:

I will send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this Pay It Forward exchange.

I don’t know what that gift will be yet and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week, but you will receive it within 365 days, that is my promise!

The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog.

I decided I had to join in after dreaming about possible gifts last night! And it's my first exchange. Better go - Iron Chef is about to start.

G x

Monday, 16 July 2007

Vested interest

Now that Geoff's vest has been delivered, and I have confirmed his satidifaction with said item, I can comfortably blog it. Heaven knows I sweat over it, so I need some FO-satisfaction!

Geoff's vest was knit from Bendy Rustic 12ply in Graphite, from the Panda Magnum Book 201 Classic Knits for Adults on 5mm needles. This yarn is fabulous to knit (no news flash there of course). Lessons: don't forget to keep a stitch in the midle of the V-neck shaping!!

Geoff caught me in a weak moment when I agreed to this commission ("Wow, you knit! How cool is that! You're so you do commissions??") but he humoured me by getting right into the whole yarn and pattern selection thing, bless him.

Geoff and his lovely partner R have a little boy a couple of months older than Pirate Jim. It was O's second birthday while we were in Germany, so although it was a little late, I tucked a little gift into the vest for O:

Modelled by Pirate Jim. This is a standard roll-edged beanie knit in Naturally Colourworks handpainted yarn (shade 988) on 5.5 mm dpns. It always attracted comment if I knit it in public and I'm really happy with how the colours pooled and blended. Apparently Mr O likes it too!

Now that these guys are off my list, I've got a touch of the startitis that's been going around. So many many bloggers have inspired me.....and I obviously don't have the right yarn to start any of them so will just have to buy more....

Sigh. Its a tough life....

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Get ready to Wiggle

We had only just moved to Springwood in the Blue Mountains near Sydney when Pirate Jim was born (and by just I mean 3 days before, after spending 4 weeks rennovating the entire house!). I didnt know anyone locally, and was really happy to be asked by the Community Health Nurse to join a New Parents Group of parents (all first-time Mums, as it turned out) with babies the same age. I thought there might be a couple amongst them who could perhaps become friends.

As it turned out, they were all, without exception, great women, of about my age, from a range of professions, and the whole group clicked. I adore these women, and I miss them more than anything else since leaving Springwood in February. They are so friendly, supportive, happy, encouraging and open-minded, and have helped me enormously on our journey on the rocky road we call parenthood. I have learnt from all of them. Love you, girls!! Mwah!

On Thursday and Friday Pirate Jim and I got the chance for a catch up with my Mother's Group when we trekked up to Springwood to see the Wiggles. PJ is a mad keen Wiggles fan (in fact we've had to have an intervention and start a detox program!) and when Bec discovered they were coming to Penrith Leagues Club and suggested we get tickets and go along, I was in for any money.

So we stayed the night with Bec and her family (Audrey is the same age as PJ, Baxter is just 10 weeks old) and had afternoon tea with the girls, then hit the venue with about 500 other families for the show.

Here they are, the Real Live Wiggles! Between you and me, I was just a leetle excited - after all, these guys are on my telly at least 30 minutes a day (more if it's a Bad Day tm) and there's something very compelling about it all. And yes, the more astute amongst you may have noticed I may just have a teeny tiny crush on Murray (although would readily turn my affections to Sam! No loyalty to Greg here, I'm afraid, we are a post-Greg family)

PJ was a little, shall we say, overwhelmed by it all.

He didnt move through the entire performance, until the very end when I got him to wave. However, when we got home, he was very excited about telling Papa what we saw. So I think he liked it. Maybe he was dancing on the inside!

In other news.....

It was SnB this afternoon, so I took along the german sock yarn stash to deliver to those who asked special like, and those who might just fancy some.

After the fibre whores SnB'ers finished, this is what remains of my stash:

and some of that will go to kms (K: let me know what your heart desires, hmm?). Good thing I don't know how to knit socks yet!

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Finally, an FO!

Yesterday I succumbed to the lurgy that's doing the rounds and spent the day on the couch watching West Wing (series 2) on dvd. And knitting. Clearly, since I was desperately ill enough to stay home from work, I wasn't up for anything too challenging. I was inspired by both Bell's and Jejune's recent works, and by Pirate Jim's desire to follow the leader, which includes putting on a scarf when we go outside, just like Mama.

Pirate Jim's scarf in the same yarn - Naturelle Aran 10 ply (100% wool) - as the cable baby beanie I knit him a few months back, with Yarn Harlot's one row scarf pattern on 5.5 mm needles. I love this pattern - perfect sick bed and tv watching knitting.

I love it so much I'm jumping on the vintage hues bandwagon and have cast on a scarf for myself.

This just happened to jump into my basket at the LYS the other day....I keep wanting to smell it because I'm so sure it will smell like after dinner mints!

In other FO news, I respectfully ask you to cast your eyes to the left, where you will see my progress bars show Geoff's Vest as 100%! Wahoo! It arrived back from The Finishers this evening. I won't post any photos until it's delivered, so will add details then.

I will have more news on the weekend - tomorrow PJ and I are off to Sydney to visit the girls from my Mother's Group and go with them to see The Band That Shall Not Be Named on Friday morning. Don't tell anyone, but I'm a little bit excited myself....

G x

Friday, 6 July 2007

Hey Mr Postman.....

Just as I was serving up dinner tonight, the doorbell rang. As I muttered under my breath about bad timing, soggy wantons and mushy noodles, Beloved and Pirate Jim went downstairs to answer it.

Dinner, however, was quite quickly forgotten.

It was a box from Germany.

A very exciting box.

With lots of yummy yarn inside. Lots of sock yarn. Opal, Regia, Tekking XXL, Twister. (sorry, awful photo. I was excited.)

Some of this is special order, the rest is just because I can. For Canberra SnBers, I'm willing to part with it (maybe!), and will bring it along to the next SnB.

And a little something for me - Drops Alpaca. (If you havent dropped (haha, geddit?) by this site before, it is loaded with free patterns. Go there.)

And a kit for a Karen Noe anenome shawl, destined for a gift. Sorry, colours are a bit crappy.

I didnt even notice the wantons were soggy. I'm off to reorganise my international boodle and play diplomat.

G x

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Look at moi!

As you know, I havent had much time with the sticks lately. My Mum, however, has been knitting like a demon (although not quite as demonically as Taph's mum!), now that she has a grateful recipient in Pirate Jim.

So, in the absence of any FOs of my own to blog, I give you the latest work of Nanna, as modelled by PJ:

Work it, baby, camera luvs ya.

Vest from Panda 8 ply Book 204 "11 Handknits for Kids" knitted in Totem. Its the same as the brown one she did for him a couple of moths ago.

"Look Mama, pockets!"

"How should I stand Mama?"

"Like this?"

I would post the pattern source, but Mum still has it. The yarn, though, is Bendy Colonial 8ply in Cocoa and Indigo.

There's more to come (needing buttons, I believe). And yes, she's figured out I have a's somewhat diminished now after her visit last week! What is it with mothers and boodle??

G x

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Fancy a yarn?

I think I may have recovered enough from completing my study to finally sit in front of the pc for fun again. I hope I'm not putting the moz on by saying "finished", since I havent got my marks yet so don't know if Ive actually passed.....but I'll cross that bridge if I happen to come to it.

Since both my life and blog have been low on knitting until last weekend, I thought an update on all things yarny was well overdue. So here is some yarn porn and a bit of an update.

1. Geoff's Vest. A commission for a mate - the largest thing I've knitted in ages (not being renowned for the length of my attention span). It is also well-travelled, having been to Germany and back, but I didnt get much stick-time there, so it came home still unfinished. I put in a big effort early last week, as Mum and Dad were visiting, and I planned to get Mum to finish it for me. Until I got to the shoulder decreases of the second side of the front neck and found I had one stitch too many.

The evil pattern-corrupting fairy that normally hangs out with kms was on holidays at my place, because I missed that one line that tells me to put a single stitch on a pin. Next morning front right side was frogged, and I put it in the naughty corner for a bit of time-out.

Now, however, the front is done, and its on its way to Super-Mum for finishing (a commission is not the time to teach myself to knit up stitches for a neckband!). Sadly, though, no photos of the WIP.

2. S. E. X. in Germany. It was good, don't get me wrong - not really enough for me, but as in many partnerships, Beloved doesnt have the same drive as me, so I'm happy with what I got. Lots of lovely sock yarn and a few other nice bits and bobs. Oooohhh, baby.

This haul came from Wollkorb in Luebeck (please tell me if youre ever in that neck of the woods, the store and its owner are sensational):

It includes the only handspun I saw in Germany - sadly there is very little in the way of a "cottage industry" for fibre. The top 6 balls are Jawoll and the other 2 are Lana Grossa MegaBoots. They were on sale at E5 each - should have bought a dozen.

These four came from the Willich Wollstuebchen - my first yarn shop so I was restrained. 2 balls of Lana Grossa Meilenweit cotton (on the right) and 2 of OnLine bambus.

I also grabbed this GGH 100% wool for E2 (about $3.50) per ball:

This is from a combined craft / kids clothes store only 2 villages from home, and our last stop 2 days before we left (it will certainly be first stop next visit). Some more Jawoll, some assorted Regia, another Lana Grossa cotton and some Regia silk.:

So that is the lot that came home in my suitcase like this:

But the main haul is on its way home in a nice cosy box. I'll flash that when it arrives.

3. International stash relations. I think it might be time to have a bit of a stash clean-up so the german yarn doesnt get the wrong impression about Australia:

Now I've just got to deal with the Knitting Corner and all those lurking WIPs that havent seen the light of day for months. Then I might finally have some finished things to blog about.
G xx