Friday, 24 August 2007

Getting tense over gauge

Much to my astonishment, when Beloved's younger brother's daughter was born at the end of 2004, I was asked to be her god-mother (oh, stop laughing. It's true!). I take my god-motherly duties very seriously, and part of this is the supply of one jumper, custom-knitted, on the occasion of Little Miss M's birthday at the end of October. Knitting is one thing that my gorgeous, talented and very capable SIL (whom I adore!) can't do, so I like to flaunt my skills, as limited as they are. (Hmmm, I'm not sure that makes me sound like a nice person!)

This year, I've had my heart set on the Coloquinte jacket from Buton D'Or Catalogue #11.

Since I'm such a cable expert these days (ahem) thanks to the excellent teaching skills of Five Ferns, I was dying to give this a go.

The recommended yarn, "Dune" is described on the webpage as "heavy worsted", with a recommended gauge of 15 sts on 5mm needles. I was stoked, because those things suggested "12 ply" to me. And frankly, any pattern that's not "worsted" is a winner in my (Australian) book.

The pattern itself had a gauge of 15 sts on 6mm needles over stocking stitch. I figured that 12ply has a recommended gauge of 16.5 sts on 6mm needles, and since I usually have to go down a size to get the right tension, I should be able to hit the required 15 sts.

Hallelujah, I thought. Order 12ply classic in Tuscan from Bendy I did. Yoda I channelled.

The yarn finally arrived just before PJ's birthday weekend, so I didn't have much chance to start swatching until the start of the week. And here began my troubles.

I started with the recommended sticks, just to see: I got 16.5 sts on 6mms. Great, I thought, I'm right on the suggested gauge for a yarn - for once! Just not the right gauge for this pattern.

Up to 6.5 mm - but sadly, I only got to 16 sts over 10 cm. And the fabric was way too loose and open. Not suitable for a cool weather jacket all. And nowhere near 15 sts.

I was shattered. Clearly to get to 15 sts I was going have to use 7 or even 7.5 mm needles, and it would be more 80's style net top than winter jacket. Crushed. Damn you, foreign weird gauge yarns!! What am I doing wrong?

But that was then, and this is now. I enlisted the help of Bells (one of the Chosen Ones) to trawl Ravelry for me, too no avail. (I'd link to Ravelry, but those who are in, well, you know all about it, and if you're not, too bad. 8580 ahead of me. I wonder if you can queue jump on the basis of need?)

In the meantime, I mooched around my patterns and books, and came across this in Adorable Knits by Zoe Mellor*. I went "meh, why not", swatched, and was SPOT ON.

Maybe one day I'll just have a bash at the Coloquinte with 12 ply, and see what happens. In the meantime, wish me luck. I think the only thing more boring that garter stitch is moss stitch. I'd rather even do 1x1 rib. But I'm not going to argue with the Gauge Godess. And then there's the zip.

To keep it even more interesting I've only got 400g of yarn - more than enough for the Coloquinte, but only just enough for the Moss Stitch Jacket. Hence my swatch isn't cast off - I frogged it and re-knit it.

It needs to be in the post to Germany by mid-October. It's going to be close!

G x

*That's where the star sweater comes from, MadMad. I'm sorely tempted on the pirate jumper, but not sure I can face all that intarsia in more than 2 colours.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Two candles on the cake

We had great fun celebrating Pirate Jim's second birthday on the weekend. Despite my disorganisation and last minute changes to the guest list, it was, in the end all about PJ and making it fun for him. We were joined by Nana and Grandpa, who came from Far Away and stayed all weekend, much to PJ's joy (and ours too, when we could shuttle him downstairs at 630 am and go back to bed for an hours extra sleep!), and Tante Mia, who came from Not Quite So Far Away.

There were lots of gifts, lots of wrapping paper debris, lots of laughs, lots of cuddles and lots of fun.

I know he's got a lot of fans out there, so I thought I'd share some photos from the day.

Grandpa gave PJ a truck. After dinging every piece of furniture in the lounge room and the bin taking a fatal hit, we've taken it downstairs til he gets his full licence.

Nana gave PJ a blackboard. It's dangerous work, being an artist - hardhat is complusory.

We gave him a trainset. Our loungeroom is now known as the Island of Sodor.

Then there was cake. I'm a little bit proud of my efforts this year.

But what made me so proud was that PJ blew out the candles all by himself.

Luckily, I decided to whip up the fairy cakes to take to childcare the following day before we did the cake cutting. Lucky, because the oven blew up, and there wouldn't have been any cake at all if I hadn't distracted PJ with a balloon and snuck this one away before he could do much more than eat a few smarties off the top. Smooth off the icing, replace the smarties, and Bam! Flash cake for childcare! Does that make me a bad mama??

So I'm afraid I can't report on the best wine match for green-iced dinosaur cake - but bubbly went very well with the pistachio biscuits, apricot slice and cheese platter. It also went quite well with the little frankfurts!

Thanks everyone for you birthday wishes for PJ - he sends big kisses.

G x

Rock on!

Look what I got! The lovely Bells tagged me:

I feel very special, my first award! So now I have tag five others, whose blogs I love going back to, who I adore as friends of the local or cyber variety and who make this bloggin' world go round.

Lots of gals I know have already been tagged, so hopefully I'm not doubling up. In no particular order:

kms, in a room of her own, who introduced me to bothe blogging and SnB

Tanya, the Knitting Barrister, whose take-up of knitting leaves me agog

Kuka, of the Krafty variety

Five Ferns Fibreholic, who taught me how to cable

and finally the lovely Twitchy Fingers

Keep up the great work!

G x

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Happy Birthday Pirate Jim

To my beautiful boy: Many Happy Returns of the Day. You have filled the lives of your Papa and I with more joy and wonder than we ever anticpated and made our hearts more full than we thought possible.

Pirate Jim 19 August 2005:

19th August 2006:

19th August 2007:

On this day and every other I wish you everything that is good on the world.

All my love, Mama xxx

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Downs and Ups

I've been struck down by a mid-winter bout of ennui and cant-be-botheredness. Hence the complete lack of blogging this last week. I can't even claim to be so busy that I haven't had time - its just that nothing interesting has happened.

I think my immune system was weakened by the startitis I contracted a few weeks ago, which the Dayflower failed to cure, and has been compounded by the failure of Bendy to deliver the order I put in at the start of last week. I tried treating it with a course of the Spotlight yarn sale - Jet and Inca at $3 a ball, Caressa at $2 a ball, Cleckheaton Country at $2 a ball - but since I was there for another yarn that had a high specificity for startitis, which was unexpectedly on sale but was (naturally) sold out - the general nature of the treatment barely made a dint in my condition. I did file it all using the RRSSS, but none of it inspired me. Not even for a swatch. I've been wallowing.

I suspect the good folk at Bendgio Woollen Mills have underestimated the power of the web - the order I placed (online) last Tuesday finally arrived today. My impatience got the better of me this morning and I called to check - only to be told by a very hassled-sounding woman that they are quoting a 10-day turn around at the moment!

However, my order, now that its here, is as good as ever, and I can finally feel enthusiasm for a new project or few returning.

So far, the list is short:
  • Colquinette jacket from Buton D'Or for my god-daughter's third birthday in October
  • Spring Fling in Harmony

There were plans afoot for Isabella for me in 4 ply cotton, but since I received 8ply, Ive got to get that sorted. And then there's the 4 and 8ply that is destined for Ms Spider's magic dye pot - can't wait!

The astute amongst will note that I bought 4ply - I can feel socks getting closer. Still not quite there, but I'm making good progress on Dashing, so my confidence is building. I have to kind of sneak up on my brain, distract it with bright shiny things over here, while I edge in closer and kind of slip socks on in there without it really seeming like its socks that I'm knitting. If I can trick it with It Just Looks Like Socks, then I might shake the sock-monkey on my back.

I know, I'm tragic. Socks, scmocks, get on with it already!

Yes, the startitis is on the wane, and the ennui is lifting. Pirate Jim turns two on Sunday, and finally after much procrastination, I've got myself sorted for the influx of guests - all four of them! PJ's Nanna and Grandpa arrive tomorrow (I'm not sure who is more excited - PJ or them!) and then Ms D and her mum V will join us on Saturday. There's shopping and cooking and cleaning and cake-making and gift-wrapping to be done.

And then, next week will be the start of the Brain Spring Clean of 2007. There will be lists made, there will commitments made, there will be sucking up of...whatever it actually is that you suck up when you get on with it, and there with lots of Getting On With It. I thrive on routine and organisation, and so there will more of that. More details as they come to hand.

In the meantime, I plan to flush out the cobwebs with a glass or few of wine and enjoy celebrating PJ's birthday. Can anyone recommend a good wine match for green dinosaur cake??

**Yes, part of this post is recycled from the deleted one last night. Thankyou everyone for the supportive and concerned comments, I really appreciate them!

An apology... anyone who read last night's ill-conceived and self-indulgent post before I removed it. Especially to Bells and Polly who took the time to comment (very usefully, I might add - thank you).

I decided it wasn't particularly appropriate for a public blog, and although I'm not certain about my feelings on posting then deleting, I felt it was better to err on the side of prudence.


Normal services will resume shortly.

G x

Monday, 6 August 2007

Go ahead, make my Dayflower

You might have gathered, the lace lust is strong in me right now. I cast off the Dayflower on Friday evening, shortly before reading Kuka's post containing concerns about blocking a machine -washable wool yarn! Yikes! However, after blocking on Saturday, I can report that machine washable yarn blocks just fine. See for yourself - since this is my first time blocking anything, I documented the process. KnittingDaily also very fortuitously published a Basics of Blocking article last week, so I followed that too.

Here it is unblocked, looking a little like a caterpillar. Gosh, but I was hoping blocking worked!

Then soaking in the sink. I didnt realise I had to soak for some time, and was amazed to come back after a few minutes and hear the air fizzing out of the yarn. So I left it about half an hour in the hand-warm water.

Then I laid out some towels and pinned it all out. It was a bit tricky to find the waves in the edges at first, then I got it sussed (apologies for our lurid beach towels!). Left it overnight to dry.

I am now sold on blocking. That curled up little caterpillar came out such a lovely butterfly! I can't decide which photo - from the front or back - is less flattering (winter and Germany were very unkind to me! That, and I'm a lazy git), so you get both.

And then, to ease the shock of those, here it is posed on the table in the afternoon sun (but the first image, above, is much truer to the colour).

Because I am making an effort to be more professional and organised about knitting, I've recorded all the pertinent information.

The details: Dayflower lace scarf, knitted in Cleckheaton Country 8ply, 100% wool, shade 2194. I used about 10g short of 2 balls, and did the suggested 20 reps of the pattern. Knitted on a 5 mm circ. No modifications.

Time taken: cast on July 27, cast off August 3. Very speedy given this was my first lace, first chart.

What I learnt: how to read a chart!! And that they arent scary at all. How to P2 tog tbl. That lace is very very addictive. Hurry up Kuka, Bells and Twitchy Fingers, I'm up for the Kiri!

The verdict: I really like the easy repeats of this pattern, and how quickly it knits up. I wore it at work today and got compliments all over the place (might just send in the scarf tomorrow. Dont think they'd notice I wasn't underneath it). A definite keeper.

Lace - got it sorted. Bring it on!

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Dayflower progress and WIPs inventory

This week has been remarkable only for its unremarkableness. Get up, go to work, come home, play with Pirate Jim, make dinner, eat dinner, put Pirate Jim to bed, knit lace.

I'm a little over halfway through my Dayflower that Bells, Kuka and I are KAL-ing.

I've just pinned it out a little on the dining room floor for the photo. It's such a lovely pattern, and it just flies off the needles. I think this one will stay in my pattern folder as a great quick-knit gift. I'm just using Cleckheaton Country 8ply, but in a lush luxury yarn it will be extra-special.

Bell's post yesterday on WIPs has prompted me to do a little inventory of my own - despite having the progress bars on the go, I tend to just ignore the ones I've put on the back burner and not update as often as I should.

So I've got:

Sirdar baby wrap: I went through a faze of searching out every possible pattern for a kimono-style wrap while I was waiting for my copy of Mason-Dixon Knitting to arrive in the post. I have to admit being a little disappointed that the MDK wrap was written in only one size, and for worsted weight yarn what's more (what IS it with American's and worsted weight yarn and why the HECK can't we get more of it here? Yarn suppliers TAKE NOTE!!!). So now I have about a dozen variations on this style. I started this Sirdar pattern in Sirdar Tiny Tots but was very unimpressed with how it was knitting up. Back burner.

Dayflower Scarf: Powering along. Loving it. Say no more. Cooking with gas.

Spider sock: This would be called wishful thinking. Ms Spider helped me cast on at the Harlot Happening months ago - I fluffed the rib after about 6 rows and frogged it. Haven't been brave enought to cast on another yet - but you all know that. Let's move on. On ice.

Adult cable beanie: I love SweaterBabe's cable baby beanie, and am having a go at making it adult-sized (can I do that?). I've worked it out on paper and am about halfway through. But I lost interest when several commissions came up and I was seduced by one row scarves. Back burner.

Dashing: Like Ravelry, socks, lace and just about every other cool thing going, I'm about the last one on the planet to get going on these. They're for Beloved, with yarn bought in Germany, as a reward for putting up with my constant yarn hunting. Unfortunately, I got bored and they're stalled. Shame on me. Back burner.

So now I've done the walk of shame, although this is fairly typical. I'm a fair-weather friend and notoriously fickle. I get enthusiastically started, then bored and find myself batting my eyelids at the first ball of novelty yarn or the next cute pattern that wanders past. What is unusual is that there's no "bus knitting" type of project, which I almost always have on the go.

Lets not even go near the sewing basket please. I can't think about sewing when there's lace to be knit.

G x