Tuesday, March 28, 2006

If The Sock Fits...Knit Another One!

I was pretty sure all the way through this sock, that I would be searching for a person with ONE very slim, long foot, to wear it. In the end though, it fits so well that I can't believe it. So I have started on its pair straight away.
I have been so enthralled with it that even though there have been some mini-disasters along the way, I have been searching for sock wool to dye at home so that I can make some unique ones. I shall stick to 4ply. The Patonyle was really good to work with although it has a tendency to split up as you knit it and it's so smooth, dropped stitches ladder right down very easily. The LYS has a few shades to choose from but dyeing will be more fun. I tried Spotlight in Geelong, yesterday, but they don't seem to do sock wool, only baby-wear 4ply. Couldn't ask the assistant. She was busy on her mobile!

Anyway, for any other beginners out there, here's a list of the things I found I should have known before I started

1) Research a few patterns and read a manual or two. eg Creative Knitting (OZ) Issue 4 for 8ply/double knitting and Knitting Pattern for Basic Socks for a 4ply/sockwool thickness. This helps you to get used to the terminology.

2) Don't bother with a fancy cast-on if you've never done one before. I used the cast-on my mother taught me when I was five, but I thought it would be nice to have a tubular cast on like in Montse Stanley's Knitter's Handbook but I wasted a day trying it and some other easier looking ones. Just make sure it's not too tight and will constrict blood flow!

3) Use a straight needle to cast on and then transfer the stitches to the dpns on the first row taking care not to twist them.

4) I followed the diagram in Standfield and Griffiths' Encyclopedia of Knitting, which shows the knitting coming up through the needles like a crown as you knit and each time you put an empty needle on the last needle is above it and the third needle is below it. That really helped because I was all needles and not much knitting for quite a while.

5) Each time you join a new needle, keep the first AND the second stitch tight a la EZ. Take care, when you select a needle from all those clasped in your left hand for the next section of knitting, that it is the one with NO stitches on it!

6) If a stitch drops (never blame yourself, stitches on dpns have a mind of their own) try a fine crochet hook but after a couple of hours, give up and frog below the dropped-stitch-round and try to pick them up again.

The second sock is on the needles now and I suppose the proof of the pudding is in the completion date of the entire PAIR of socks not just a stitch perfect first one.

OK, I'm not perfect so please tell me what I can do to get rid of the gaping holes at each ankle?

Going to make some more efforts on the blog site soon, Thanks to all for great advice, Cheers Gillian Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Links, Help!

redumbrella I thought I had the routine right but the last post does not link for sites I've chosen. Please let me know in simple terms, what I have done wrong and how to link to a name instead of a whole URL, cheers Gillian

Well I Never! Socks!

There is no doubt that SOCKS-R-IT. Everyone else's blog has their socks on it. So here IS mine.
This is my first ever foray into 4dpns and I've had a few reviews and froggings to get to this stage. I'm hoping that I will get more comfortable with the 4dpns and be able to complete a pair. The pattern is from and I am using good old reliable Patonyle in denim blue. As a confident straight knitter, I went for the 2.75 needles rather than the 3.5s which were the only ones available at my LYS. Mind you there are some anodised ones in 4.oos which I love the feel of and if this sock venture is successful, I will invest in them and try them out with some Bluebell or similar. Typical of me...planning ahead when I haven't even achieved today's targets.
The main reason I have slowed right down with the sock and taken to the keyboard, is that they are obviously going to be too small for me with a 56st cast on and the needle size. BUT I need to get through the pattern once to feel that I know what I'm doing and so these will probably be sent to Jenny, one of my English nieces. She has my height but is willowy slim.
I took another photo to show off my lovely kitchen. I have spent the last thirty years making the most of a small place in an inner-urban renovation. This house has a whole room of it's own as a kitchen. I installed a wood-burning oven, as you can see on the left, in the space where the old one had been removed. Out of the window you can see Karen's rusty rainwater tank and the camelia tree. I spend a lot of time sitting at this table and enjoying the whole room. I have a little TV perched on top of the fridge (which I have not shown, like they never show them in magazine articles on kitchen design, cos they look dreadful). The wood oven has two glass doors. One at the top half is the fire and the bottom bit is the cooking oven. It's called a Nectre Bakers Oven and they are made in South Australia.
Last but not least today is my "nearly finished" bag.

It has a knitted coating along the lines of the pattern in the English magazine "Simply Knitting" issue 7. and I made a lining and straps with wonderful advice from Dragonfly Designs at http://thebagladysplace/blogspot/com/ . I got a lot of help from the local fabric shop on this.
I have also got a couple of giant plastic curtain rings on which I plan to create some Dorset Buttons as described by Thanks Beverley!

I haven't said thanks to Lori for showing me the routine on how to get more than one picture on one post. I eventually did it and soon I hope to follow Beverley's guide to a clock and a counter. As you can all tell I'm still having trouble with the fine tuning.

Dyeing very soon!

cheers to all, Gillian

Monday, March 20, 2006

Fat Kittykate is normally "black and WHITE" but when the sun shines on a patch of dark, brown, dusty earth, she can't resist rolling in it! Robert has brushed her but she is still very dusty and is complaining with loud squeals, at her treatment.

She is fat, but of course, it is not her fault. She can't open the fridge or a tin of gourmet cat food. We can and I also purchase trays of steak specials and then cut them up and freeze them for titbits. She expects these titbits every day.

She is very well behaved regarding my knitting but she hasn't been able to keep herself off some alpaca I got at Bendigo Knitting Mill Shop (backroom), so I have knitted her a small comfort blanket with the remains. We spend a lot of time watching out for BOB from next door. He knows she is on to a good thing and regularly enters any open door and heads to our kitchen for a taste of what she is having. He's a lovely looking cat and I hate to chase him away but we can't have a yowling competition every time he comes in.

The grass/turf is looking lovely. Kevin laid it today and Robert put the left overs round near the yet to be completed chook run. Wow, we have the makings of a garden at last.

I shall go and knit a bit more and see if Craig Mottram lives up to the hype. I'm dying to start some socks. I know, I know I'm also dying to do some dyeing. Today I made my hookie rug sample into a padded cushion for the chair I painted and I made a plain white blind for the space under the sink, so I have made some progress on my list, love for now Gillian

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Cockatoos and Collard Greens Recipes

If you look very carefully, you can see a "Sulphur Crested Cockatoo" sitting in the upper branches of the Gum tree(Eucalypt) next door at Karen's.
We have had quite a few through this last year or two because the drought has brought them in from the bush.
They are very noisy and splendidly showy. Late last year quite a flock descended on the Hill's Hoist which is the magic, wind-drying contraption that many Australians have in their back yard/garden.
But even more magic are the Jerusalem Artichokes which have grown under the "tin" fence from Karen's. Apparently, like potatoes, once the flowers have died down the roots/tubers can be dug up and used. They have a reputation for producing flatulence and although they are really tasty as a soup constituent, they could be as bad as "pease pudding" in the windy-garden-product list. We grow some greens called silver beet also known as swiss chard. We also ate something called spring greens in England when we were young but none of them are spinach and I think collard greens as described by comes close to silver beet. It all depends how you cook them and what else you put in them.

I zap a dozen , small to medium, silver beet leaves in the microwave for a few minutes.

Then I "dress" them (in other words, slosh them around with) a sprinkle of salt and pepper a la Kylie Kwong, and add some fresh lemon juice and some butter.

I cried today when the Aussie woman won the Marathon. Such wonderful dedication. I cried as well for the Kenyan woman who had kept up with her all the way but was not competing in front of her home crowd, and didn't win. After watching such an effort it is clear that "Silver" can sometimes be so sad.

Friday, March 17, 2006

A Very un-Victorian Display of Legs

Well, I did a bit of task 2). Here's the painted chair and very ungainly! table legs. They've been given a coat of mat white. Gloss only really works if you use oil-based paints and the sort of semi gloss you get with acrylic isn't much shinier than the plain all-over-useful stuff.

The table has a wonderful old baltic pine top but it has been badly stained. Robert sanded it with the lovely, little, cordless Bosch sander and then with the big belt sander. He was getting rid of the stains but he was also getting rid of the table!!!

I shall paint the top in the slatey blue to match the floor. The left over stains would only niggle at me and staining and varnishing will only make the stains darker.

The "Laundry" part of the new shed is shown here and it is this that I will have to make curtains for soon. On the left is a combination washer/drier and on the right is a small extra fridge. In the facing corners are an upright freezer, a storage chest of drawers for jam jars and a storage shelf for jam and chutney stock. In between will be the table and chair as a work space and around two sides are foot wide shelves (I have discovered, at head-hitting height) which hold tubs of gear and on the leftwall from this picture is one of those drying hoists that goes up to the ceiling.

I shall put a coat of paint on the top of the table tomorrow and think about the curtains.

Right now, I shall go and cut up some beef and broccoli stir fry and marinate the beef a bit.

Last thing is, I've worked out that BTW is by the way but what is LOL? And are there any more that I should know? Can I make some up? How about WIN, my mothers favourite exclamation. Small, thoughtful response to the first to work it out.

Dying to start Dyeing

I'm a fickle female. Always wanting to start something new before the other things are done. But you all know what a new book does. I did some dyeing many years ago with onion skins, gum leaves and other bits of flora but this all looks so exciting I can't wait to start. Before I do, however, I must...
1) make curtains for the new studio/laundry
2) paint the old table and chair I bought from ebay
3) finish the knitted bag with lining, handles and stiffening with the help of the instructions from Jade
4) make more tomato ketchup, chutney and raspberry jam
5) get the ironing done.

My spinning stuff is all up in the loft so I shall test out the dyeing on some Australian Country Spinners undyed 8ply which I bought cheaply in a large hank and when I'm happy with it I'll treat myself to some merino/silk which Cheryle told me she had spun. It sounds lovely and she described it as having a lustre from the silk. I would expect the dye to take with varying intensity because of the blend of fibres. She dyes her stuff using "landscape" dyes and the effects are wonderful so I shall forego the flora for some ready made dyes if I can find them.

Planning is often the most pleasure. Everything falls into place in daydreams and projects seem to finish themselves effortlessly. I must wake up now and make an effort. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

No Pictures With This News!

We took off to Ballarat on the train today. It was a lovely ride of about 40 minutes and then we walked a couple of blocks to the shopping mall where I had a particular errand. "The Lingerie Shop". A simple name for a wonderful shop with such friendly and helpful people. It was such a luxury to be fitted with a bra that is so comfortable, I dont know I'm wearing it. I was also shown how to use a small prosthesis (boobie) which makes it look like I have two matching boobs, which I didn't even have before a couple of lumpectomies. I can throw away the rolls of tissues I have been using to stop the bra cup crumpling up. I've ordered two more bras and treated myself to lots of "sloggi" undies.
The strange thing is, delighted as I am, I put it all away carefully in a drawer when I got home.
I wonder if I will wear it tomorrow?
News Flash
I have just had to interrupt my tale of the day to chase a chook out of the kitchen, where it was eating the cat's dinner. It's the third one in today, from nextdoor. Damon came round and crawled around under the house waving silverbeet leaves at it. I caught it as it did a runner to the hole in the fence where it came in and Robert nailed up the paling.
After the successful shopping we wandered through to the Art Gallery area and Federation Plaza, where the big open air party is on tonight to celebrate the Opening of the Commonwealth Games. Lots of characters in weird costumes wandered around keeping us amused as we ate a delicious lunch at the Art Gallery Cafe.
My "studio" is nearly ready and tomorrow I shall start moving in my stores and boxes. I have bought an old table and chair on ebay and shall go and collect them in the next few days. I have some lovely toile de Jouy in the traditional blue and white which will make up into attractive curtains. Joe, the builder has put up shelves for me, while we were out today, but they slope down to the front and this will have to be rectified as soon as!
Tomorrow, we will be awake early to welcome the man with the excavator who is going to dig up and remove the horrible grass and weeds beyond the verandah. This area will then be levelled and covered with "roll-on turf" from a turf farm down the road. I presume this means I will be able to walk bare-foot over springy lawn in a few days!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Labour Day Holiday Market at St Anne's Winery

I just took the jams and chutneys with me today. I will take the knitting next time, though. I sold 65 jars which is a record for a day out. In fact Robert went home to get some more supplies. Fortunately we are only a few minutes away.
We have never seen the weekend traffic on the highway, so busy. It's partly the school holidays and also the escape from the Commonwealth Games.
Hopefully tomorrow will be a bit more relaxed. Then a trip to Ballarat by train on Wednesday and then a trip to Werribee to pick up a table I bought on ebay, to go in the new "studio".
Off to a well needed sleep,
Cheers Gillian Posted by Picasa

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Time For A Cuppa!

I've just finished this little tea cosy for a friend-of-a-friend of the vicar! I think it will suit nicely and is sooo easy to knit, and quick, even on 3 mm needles and using 4 pl. It took three days (with everything else going on). The previous link but one goes to it.
I was asked to make it in purple and green stripes. I did. The purple looks blue and the greenstripes have got lost under the daffodil petals.
The mug is a Maebata porcelain from Japan and originally I had six. Nearly twenty years later, I only have two perfect ones left but the rest are in a box waiting for the day when I have a go at MOSAIC! As yet an unattempted craft.
Should I add some pompoms/pompons to this tea cosy?
Looking forward to having some advice, even criticism, as long as it is well intentioned and helpful. Cheers Gillian Posted by Picasa

Friday, March 10, 2006

Market day was on Thursday and I'm still recovering. We pack the day before. Two long tables, two chairs, a clothes rack and a stretchy piece of trellis for the scarves and a trolley to shift it all. It takes a good hour to set it all up because I have three tubs of knitting and four tubs of jams and chutneys and this month I decided to show off the "Berry" jams on a lovely wrought wire stand. It's always a bit quicker packing up and going home because I've sold a bit and there are a couple of empty tubs. There's another market on Monday at St Annes Winery a few km west but we had to unpack it all because today we are off to the coast to get some more old bricks from my sister-in-law, in order to finish the brick path outside the new laundry/studio. Unveilling soon!
Thursday's market coincided with the Queen's baton relay through town. This baton is on it's way to the opening ceremony at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne this weekend, where it will be handed back to the Queen! I'ts been all round the Commonwealth on it's way here, being carried by local people and accompanied by a motorcade of buses and police vehicles.
I'd love to post more pics but I'm still struggling with the methods of getting more than one per post. A good weekend to all Cheers Gillian Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Tea Cosy Correction

Sorry, but I left out a vital hyphen in the tea cosy pattern link. Here it is again

Monday, March 06, 2006

Tea Cosies Galore

A few years ago, when I started knitting again after a long break due to a damaged right hand, I "discovered" vintage knitting patterns on the internet. That and the joy of knitting with 4-ply (fingering) on 3mm needles after years of knitting with bulky on big needles in order for it to grow faster, was a maturing phase in my craft. I got pleasure out of detail instead of size.
My favourite pattern is this daffodil stitch pattern. It looks hard but is easy to do and so on a trip to visit my family in England, I left one in every home I visited. I knitted on trains, buses, and sofas and in doctor's waiting rooms, bus depots and even at table. Everyone chose a different colour combination and as I was able to finish one in a few days I was able to leave one at each sister's, brother's and Mum's. Of course I was not able to knit on the plane! The pattern is designed for a humungous family tea-pot and so I have reduced the number of daffodils and the number of layers to suit each recipient's tea-pot.
Flying to England every year to visit and NOT to be able to knit for all those hours is one of my biggest regrets. I hate to waste time and so I now get through the flight by reading knitting and other magazines from cover to cover. I used to be able to knit the back of a jumper.
I started this post to get the spider off the top of the page and I have drifted onto other things. I was just realising how lucky I am to be retired, not poor, and living in a house which I love more every day. I spent quite a bit of today painting the new shed/studio but Robert has done ten times what I have, he has more stamina.
Tomorrow I must prepare for my market stall. The first for this year. I don't think it's the right season for knitting but I have dozens of jars of jam and chutney to sell and ketchup and cordial. Then there is another stall on Monday/LaborDay Holiday, at a winery a few kilometers up the road. What with that and painting the studio,we will be busy for a while.
We have no plans to go into Melbourne for a couple of weeks because the Commonwealth Games will be on, but soon after we shall have the floorboards re-polished so an away-stay is on the cards. Kittykate will go and stay with "Auntie Sylvia" in the Cattery in the nearby hills and we shall go and waste money playing poker machines and eating out at Echuca on the Murray River... the Las Vegas of Victoria, Australia.
Next post I'm going to have another go at positioning the pics like Lori taught me and getting the links right.
Good luck and cheers to all who read this Gillian Posted by Picasa

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Giant Things

This is apparently a "Wolf Spider". It was quite a few cm across and had webby-hairy bits trailing from its legs. I have seen bigger in Australia and in Africa but this one was very unnerving because I wasn't wearing things. Every part of my body from feet to shoulders was available to spider attack. I yelled effectively and got DH out of bed. Robert sprayed it with nasty stuff and then it did an ab-seil off the wall onto the floor and ran towards my bare feet. I scooped it up in a dustpan and brush and ran down to the end of the garden and cast it into the overgrowth. It ran back towards me and then changed its mind and headed under the fence.
This is apparently one of the problems of living in a timber house. Spiders live between the outside weather boards and the inside plaster board and come out in disgust at any changes to their conditions. We have had the outside painted and were warned by the painter that we would have a greater spider visitation. He actually killed a "redback" which crawled out from under the front doorstep while he was working.
Anyway, cheers to all out there and if you are near Bacchus Marsh let me know, cos apart from spiders I'd love to hear from you and see you if you are passing. Posted by Picasa

Friday, March 03, 2006

Trompe L'oeil or Trick the Eye

I did a day-course at the local Adult Education Centre and learned how to do this! For someone who hasn't painted a picture since school I was thrilled with the result. It's designated hanging spot is behind the new dunny door so that while you sit you can contemplate what might be beyond. While I was doing the painting and using up rolls of masking tape, the pumber was actually connecting up the new toilet and the trough in the new laundry so I was able to give my palettes and brushes a good soak when I got home.
I also had a go at illusion or shadow knitting tonight with the "Illusion Kitty" kitty face from I doubled up a couple of rows, accidently, so mine looks like "Illusion Puppy" and you have to hold it at just the right angle to get the effect. I just hoped it would be a bit more stunning. The instructions were really easy to follow, though, because I find charts quite daunting and prefer the old k1,p1 style of pattern.
It's a warm night and I can hear a party, booming bass, not far away, but sleep beckons and my body will be glad to lie down. I will need to get into the painting of the new "Shed" tomorrow so that I can move in soon. Posted by Picasa