Friday, October 28, 2005

"Smile" Contest note

thanks for the beautiful images so far, the contest closes Midnight (my time)Saturday November 5.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

What makes you smile?

Sarah Ban Breathnach's gratitude journal came to me at a time in my life when I could have thought I had little to be grateful for...but I didn't, raising my girls on my own, living in a lovely old house in a small town, not much money coming in, but a small mortgage, enough money for the necessities, kitties, I was HAPPY...I got sad sometimes, but I had this inner contentment which kept me going. The gratitude journal focused me, why was I happy ? what was I thankful for? what keeps me going and makes me smile? Every day I wrote 5 things I was grateful for, sometimes it was "breathing" other days the lines overflowed, I knew what made me happy, and if the going was tough I could immerse myself in those things.
Now I am older,this world is full or corruption and greed, angry people hurting others, I need to work harder to find that happy core every day, I need to go back to counting my blessings and discovering what makes me want to sing. The sun helps, family helps...and getting bloggers to join in helps a lot!

So here goes, my first a picture on your blog...of something that makes you so happy inside that you want to do a dance, run up and kiss someone, or hug the cat...something that makes your heart jump and your eyes can be tiny ( plump, shiny vanilla pods can keep me happy for ages, looking, touching and smelling) or huge, you decide.

Post on your blog, link to me in the post, and post a comment here so that I can come look at your images, and yes there is a prize...a bundle of goodies each, never fear, I will make it worth your while! The two winners will be decided on 1. pure unadulterated luck and 2. an image that makes me smile down to my toes.

here is something I am smiling about today...

Naturally "Kid et Soie" 10 ply yarn for wee lounging socks for me! Piccie is for The Skirt...who asked so nicely, and whose post from 20/10 I so heartily agree with.

and this yummy yummy Opal Rainforest Tiger...purrrrrrrrrrr. this pic is for Stripey...pity you didn't get to come play on the weekend.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

the week that was

thursday was great! I put myself under house arrest, only going out to post urgent packages, the rest of the time I locked myself away in the broom cupboard, I made most of a cropped lace cardi, finished Jason's socks (finally)

(Opal elements, in a not so masculine colourway...but everyone around here agrees that he is secure and wearing purple, lilac and pink will not trouble him)

and played around with some secret projects...unfortunately this

(Singer Bulky 8...eight gauge knitting machine) did not arrive until first thing friday morning, I had 5 minutes to gaze upon it before I had to leave for work...and unfortunately, gaze is all I have done since, as too many other projects have been calling out to be completed before I go down this whole new track.

Projects like this:

a mini duffel bag to complement the dpn needle roll, this bag holds a 100g ball of yarn, and the pockets hold the pattern, needles and other sundries, unfortunately the pic is over-exposed due to the ever present sun in our lounge,

but it sure beats old sock project bag!

Yesterday I went to the Tapestry sale, Donni came up from Wollongong, and parked in my carspace, and got to visit the broom closet in person, she also proved to Flash that other seemingly normal looking women are as obsessed with yarn as I am. We met up with Donna in the deserted yarn store, hardly a soul to be livened up a bit, however there was no pushing, shoving or scrapping over yarn, no blood drawn...almost disappointing! I bought 20 balls of a stock standard 50/50 alpaca/wool for something for Flash, a couple of balls of Bambi in black for work socks (for Flash as well) some Heritage 4 ply tweed (80% wool, 20% nylon) perfect sock yarn, and some NZ kidsilk in a sea blue...for lazing around socks for moi. Donna has the pics...I am no longer apologising for the way I look in photos. After a stop in the QVB for re-fuelling, and picking up Lisa G on the way, we wandered to of my favourite places to empty my purse....I bought Alterknits which is interesting, and this cute wee book of felt animals, had to buy it for the lemurs

aren't they cuuuute! Lovely to spend some time with other knitters, the ideas flowed. I didn't see my secret Pal there though...I was looking for her, I thought it would be fun.

Today Flash and I spent a couple of hours lazing in the sun at the botanical gardens, nothing like Sydney in the summer.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


is what makes a man give up his sunday evening, to shop for and assemble a shelving unit (and big pull out drawer for yarn) just to see his wife smile.

And yes, it really is all in the way you hold your tongue!

He has put in an order for more socks though, and I am thinking that this is worth a pair in Opal silk.

I then spent an hour loading the unit down, yay! all of the stuff that was on the floor now has a home, and he has put two rows of coat hooks on one side for hanging skeins. It doesn't look like much, but you should have seen it before. There is a small shelf unit hidden under all of that stuff!

I am so glad to have my life more organised...but I am wondering where I am going to put the new (to me, but re-conditioned) bulky 8 knitter which should be arriving tomorrow, the lounge is huge space...and underused...hmmm.

I especially liked Flash's comment when he came to look at the unit when I had finished loading it,he noticed that the yarn box is full, and said "well you won't need to buy any more yarn for a while" it took me a full five minutes to stop laughing.

I am off to work this morning with a light heart, it is wednesday, which is my new friday (except that I have to go back on friday...but hey, thats FRIDAY!)

Saturday, October 15, 2005


I've been trying to get to the handpaintedyarns laceweight for a while, but couldn't be bothered hanging the skein over the back of the chair and winding it into pull balls, I had a quick word with Donni who hooked me up with a swift in a jiffy, and now we are in business!

This is a shibori sample, I used 1 end of the laceweight at tension 6, 80 sts over 400 rows, the yarn knits beautifully through the machine, I was a bit scared that it would break, but I had no problems at all. I then placed glass pebbles at various intervals and held them in place with rubber bands, tied off the ends with rubber bands, and pleated in places which I held with bulldog clips, then placed it all in a pillowcase and threw it in a hotwash with some soap, and left it for a full wash cycle...
I could have left it for a little less time, it is a bit more felted than I wanted! After washing and felting I placed it in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover, (previously mixed with a sachet of Kool Aid in watermelon/raspberry) brought
to the boil, placed the lid on, removed from the heat and left overnight. This morning all of the colour was gone from the water...perfect! I rinsed and left the scarf to dry, then removed the rubber bands and clips, this is the result, the dye had not entered the areas that were held, and where the glass pebbles and clips had been had not felted, I like the results and have loads of ideas for future neck fascinators.

On an entirely different note, I bit the bullet and requested to work 4 days a week instead of 5, I had asked for fridays, as that works in best with Flash's work/entertaining commitments but I already knew that would be pushing things, so it has been agreed that I will have thursday off...which I will have to manage carefully to avoid going back to a drama every friday, but it is so much better than a poke in the eye! I can't wait, I had yesterday off, but had the car so ran loads of errands, went to Spotlight and Tapestry Craft for more sock dpns, and Dymocks to buy "Loop-de-loop" (couldn't hold out any longer), and scoped the book that I am going back for next thursday (will show-and-tell then) took Maria back to the burns clinic at Concord for a check up, she burnt herself in cooking, splashed hot butter on her neck, in a big sunburst pattern, it took the school and hour to call Flash, who then called me ( I work 5 minutes down the road, and the school are always supposed to call me first) I raced up there, and found her sitting in the sick bay dapping at the burns with a tissue, I soaked a towel and covered her neck and waited for Flash to arrive, by the time we got her to the GP 1 1/2 hrs had elapsed, most of that with no treatment, the GP replaced the towel with some more wet compresses and sent us to the Burns clinic, the long and short of it was that she is fine, she needs too scrub at the burns a couple of times a day to get rid of the damaged skin, and apply emollient cream a number of times a day, not to go to work for 2 weeks, and no sun for 4 months (poor thing, she loves the beach) because of the increased risk of hyper pigmentation and skin cancer, Flash has written a letter to the school board, outlining what happened, as their reaction to her burns was not good enough, they have her GPs details, and she is just down the street from the school, they could have asked us to meet them there.
On the plus side, she will be fine, and doesn't have to go back to the clinic.

It is Saturday, Flash made yummy lattes, and I got to read the papers in bed, now I will go and finish the baby cardi, then it is SSK, and Flash is off to the Motor Show, have a great weekend folks.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

not so in a spin

The washing machine was ailing…the spin cycle couldn’t handle “fast” anymore, just “medium” or even “slow”, if I did a warm or hot wash the pump failed to work at all until the machine had cooled down, sometimes this took all night. I had to coax it gently, and carefully arrange the load to avoid inbalance. I hid all of this from Flash, which was easy, it’s not as though he is going to do any washing anytime soon, ( he has been banished from the laundry, after bleaching our new towels, the dark forest green now spotted and blotched with khaki and sick yellow)

I blamed myself, it had to be the felting, something had clogged the pump, and it was all my fault, Flash would find out my secret, we would have to buy a new machine, and I would be given “the look” if I ever took wool within metres of it.

This weekend the situation came to a head, the machine had been beeping for ages, while I was on the patio, Flash came out and said “ the machine won’t empty, there must be something wrong with the pump” oh no! he knows, it’s all over!, so I told him that it hadn’t been working well for a while, and to switch it off, and after a while it would be ok, next morning we switched it on, still wouldn’t work ( no no no!), Flash got his tools…uh oh, I was out of there, nothing worse than listening to a man frustrated and swearing at an inanimate object!

After a while the swearing stopped, Flash walked into the kitchen holding a piece of was the moment of truth, he was going to tell me the pump was clogged with felted wool…I braced myself…”bloody kids” he exclaimed…”what?” I replied
“look at this” and as he bent down and opened his palms to show me the pump, and then I saw it…wrapped around the mechanism, strangling the moving parts… a lime green, child’s hair tie
phew! off the hook...for now, and the spin cycle is working better than ever.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

status - normal

WIPs as follows by order of urgency:

1 pair Opal Elementale socks in a dubious colour choice, for close friend whose birthday was 24/09. 75% of 1 sock finished.

1 wrap-style baby cardi in “no weird colours at all” 50% finished

1 knitted kitty toy to test pattern…finished!

1 jellybean sock for Blaise – can’t even be bothered to frog it, let alone knit it

1 one skein wonder – 75% finished

Over the long weekend Flash realised that he was fighting a losing battle asking me to put my knitting away in the knitting closet each night when I finished, he went and bought me a rattan box/stool which suits the lounge nicely, and hides my knitting…win/win!

One of my current wips is a baby cardi, for a friends new wee girl, it is my own design, knit with 3 colours of soft baby yarn, blossom pink, white with confetti spots and pale blue. The other night I was knitting while watching House, always a mistake as the attention was drawn away from the knitting, and when the pattern changed from K2tog at the front edge on every row, to K 10 rows straight, the rythym didn’t change, and suddenly I realised that I had 10 sts less than I should have had at that point…what to do, usually I would have called this a “design feature” and knit the other side to match, but this time it was different, I was test knitting my own pattern, and really had to wrestle myself into submission, “knit the pattern as it is written” I found a needle, threaded it up with a shiny cotton yarn, and placed an afterthought lifeline, then ripped back 10 rows, and found it very satisfying, that I am finally going to knit a garment exactly as described by the pattern (unless I have made a mistake in the pattern, in which case I will edit it)
Flash had gone to bed and I got to thinking about the number of babies who have been born lately, whenever he sends me the first photos of a friend or colleagues new baby he always writes silly comments like:

John’s raisin
Love Flash

We are a little smug about new babies, new parents are always so precious, so we poke a little fun at them privately, because, I suppose it helps us deal with the (and I don’t know if grief is too strong a word) feeling s we have about the fact that we will never have a child together, we have raised and are raising heaps together, but when you think about the fact that we met later in life, when we had both thought our families complete (and had both had “the snip”) and have at least 3 children to put through tertiary education, having a new baby isn’t an option. So we pretend to each other that babies are noisy, messy, annoying little people with very few redeeming qualities, who should be banned from supermarkets and restaurants, to protect one another from the fact that it would have been very nice to have had one…and of course, she would have been the perfect princess.

Okay enough dwelling on what will never be ( unless we inherit a lot of money and have a baby created by micro surgical techniques, and hire a night time baby nurse...)

what I did last night...I have been working on some gifts for some people who can't be names, and was playing around on the sock theme, I always keep the item I make all of the mistakes on for here it is, a dpn holder, the 2 pockets towards the centre do have dpns in them, but they are shorties! There is also room for a needle sizer, I love this, it is so much smaller than my normal needle roll so I can just throw it in my bag with yarn, and know that I can knit any sock I like! The picture on the front was printed onto transfer paper and ironed on, a wee baby trying to put her own socks on, from this site - called "baby w/socks" (personal use) and the quotation is from Mother Teresa, and says "You can do no great things, only small things with great love" which I think is a particularly apt quote for sock knitters, you have to love someone to handknit socks for them.
The quote was ironed onto a seperate peice of fabric, which was then sewn to the main peice, leaving one end unsewn, lightly filled with dried lavender, and sewed shut, when the case is rolled up you get a lovely hit of lavender, the edges were then frayed. Pink ribbon sewn to the outside to hold it together, very pleasing!

(fabric Kaffe Fassett "Roman mosaic" in pink colourway, less than 1/2 a fat quarter, how's that for value! plain pink cotton for front pocket, and pocket lined with paisley flannel in pastel colours...yes I am still convinced that my needles need flannel to keep them cosy!)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

shops too much...

remember that old Monty Python skit with the man called Smokestoomuch...

The building super thought it was my birthday...

here we have
2 balls Opal Rainforest Tiger (socks for Holly born in the year of the tiger)
1 ball Opal Rainforest Flamingo (no kids born in the year of the flamingo...but it is pretty)
2 balls Patons Kroy just because (all from the Naked sheep, who are wonderful speedy people)
odds and ends
the Yarn Harlot's "Yarn harlot - secret life of a knitter" addi dpns with gummi bear stoppers, and the heart stopper...Nancie M Wiseman's book of finishing techniques...I have no more excuses, and I don't care.

Fortune Cat Pattern

Fortune Cat “Pattern”

Here are my guys,
as before, don't flame me if there is a problem, just tell me what you think needs fixing,trust your instincts. Stuff his head and part of his body he can be a glove puppet, make his legs longer, make his ears longer he can be a bunny...experiment!

I ran out of yarn half way through making the bigger kitty, and his face is crooked, in too much of a hurry to get this pattern posted!
Get some DK ( if you want a smaller kitty use thinner yarn and needles, for a bigger kitty, thicker yarn and needles, my little guy is 4ply alpaca/cashmere, the big one is handpainted yarns bulky) thickness wool ( something which will felt)
We are basically going to make a little sock with no heel
With size 3mm – 4.5 mm dpns cast on 36 sts (use a provisional cast on if you are clever)
Work in rounds for about 2 cm, place marker at last st (or note last stitch)
Arms: we are going to put little armhole markers in, just like a thumb marker for mittens.
The last stitch is the middle back stitch.
Knit 10 sts, using waste yarn (smooth strong yarn), knit 5 stitches, knit 6 sts with main yarn, knit 5 sts waste yarn, knit to end with main yarn.
Continue to work rounds for 3 cm (total length 5 cm)
Legs: work as for arms.
Base: dec as follows:k 1 row
k4 k2tog 6 x
K3 k2tog 6 x
K2 k2tog 6 x
K1 k2tog 6 x
K2tog 6 x
if you are using fine yarn you might want to add a row of plain between each decrease row.
Cut thread and pull through remaining stitches, pull tight and secure, leave a length of yarn about 15 cm long.

Pick up 36 sts at cast on edge of body – except for 5 sts either side of centre back st, cast these on normally – to leave a gap in the back for stuffing.(See photo)
Knit in rounds for 2 cm.
Counting from centre back, knit sts 27 and 28 together. (nose) finish round,
Knit one round.
then decrease by knitting together 2 sts each side of that centre front stitch.
Knit 1 round
Next round decrease again, knit together 2 sts on the outside of the previous decreased sts ( you are making a “V” shape)
K 2 rows.
Knit in rounds until head measures 5 cm.
Dec for head: 18 sts back of head
13 sts front of head
Next round:from centre back, knit 8 sts, k2tog, k to last 10sts, k2tog, k to end
continue until 4 sts between decs.
graft to sts rem at front, or turn inside out.
Pick up 5 sts along sloping cast off, knit 2 rows garter st, dec 1 st beginning next and each row until 1 st rem, pull thread through.
Embroider face be careful not to carry the black yarn across back of work, as will show through.

Arms and legs: pull waste yarn out carefully, pick up sts and pick up 2 sts each side (or as many as necessary to avoid holes)and work rounds for (2 cm legs) (3 cm arms), dec by k2tog all sts, k 1 row pull yarn through stitches, secure.

Embroider the insides of the ears, and the foot paws with brightly coloured yarn.
Decorate with embroidered or chrocheted flowers, or anything else that takes your fancy.

Cut out a disc of plastic (e.g. ice cream container) about 6cm in diameter, make a little hole in the centre ( thick enough for a yarn needle), thread a yarn needle with the yarn from the bottom of the body, place the disc inside the body, pull the yarn through the centre, and secure by threading through a button a few time, and tying off, make sure the disc is centre, and provides a flat base for the body.

Stuff the arms and legs first, make sure they are well stuffed before stuffing the body, and finally the head. Make sure that the fortune cat is firm and well stuffed.
Sew up the back opening. Tie a piece of yarn around the neck, pulling it until the head is the desired shape, tie off.

Embroider the arm paws with 3 lines to delineate the fingers ( toes?)

Make a little fish by knitting a tube, then knitting little fins on it (like the ears) stuff well and sew to a paw.
Raise the right hand paw, and secure with a few sts to the side of the head.

Place in a lingerie bag or pillowcase with a towel ( to weigh it down as kitty will float in washing machine)

Place in hot wash with soap, check after a few minutes, then check every few minutes until felted to your liking, put through the rest of the rinse cycle ( in cold water) to spin the water out. Squish into shape, leave to dry.

When dry hang a bell or some chinese or Japanese coins around his neck with a ribbon.

Would look great in brightly coloured hand dyed yarn, or maybe white with embroidered cherry blossoms, make bigger or smaller now that you have the idea.

Monday, October 03, 2005


Caution - this post contains references to the Hunter Valley, Donni stop reading now!

The dilemma is wether or not I should post this, after the 2 warnings Donni has already given me...but what the heck, I like to live dangerously...and what is she going to do? ( apart from bury me under her enormous stash, death by wool, what a way to go!)

Yesterday Flash and I, and no children...for all of you out there, living with littlies, enjoy it while you can, one day they will turn 14, get a part time job, and ditch you, family outings will be a thing of the past (unless you regard a trip to the fashion outlet store as an outing) anyway, Flash and I drove up to the Hunter Valley the drive up took about 2 hours due to traffic, we left at 10 am, so were happy about the leisurely drive, once there we decided to just drive around ( no plan as always) and stopped at 3 wineries before lunch, I was the official taster as Flash was driving, and had to put up with some nasty choices that he made "honey I would prefer not to try any Verdelho on this trip" "sparkling shiraz is sparkling shiraz" and "pleeeease pass the water" he does these things on purpose to embarrass me in public...he can't help himself, the boyish glee on his face when he makes me taste a wine he knows I won't like...but I got him back by having the yummiest grilled sardines for lunch, and breathing.

After lunch ( he had a chicken salad, and I embarrassed him back by calling the little lizards who were running around on the restaurant deck "darling") we stopped in at couple of our old standby wineries De Bortolli for some stickies (Late Harvest Semillon only from the cellar door, and Noble One which is available everywhere) and some Shiraz - a big gutsy red that is very Aussie, it doesn't bother knocking, just throws the front door open and yells "I'm here! let's party" it has taken this merlot girl a while to get used to, but Flash was in like the proverbial robber's dog, he calls it "Shazza".
Then to McGuigans for the stock standard mixed dozen for Christmas, a couple of bottles of their yummy Rose, and some black label Merlot and Chardonnay which are great quaffing wines, when you just want to spend a lazy sunday in the sun with friends.
I hunted high and low for Pinot Gris, but the climate must not be right for it here, Chard farm Pinot Gris is probably my favourite summer tipple but impossible to get in Oz, apparently they grow Pinot Gris in South Aus and Victoria, so I will have a look when I go in December, until then I have some Pinot Grigio to get me through.

Despite Flash and his boyish malevolence we had a thoroughly enjoyable day, some good laughs,great wine and food, the weather was idyllic, warm, sunny with just a hint of a breeze. We drove back the loooong way...

okay, okay, so we didn't go via Canada!

Donni, if you are still reading this, I promise I am not even leaving the house today, it is too bloody hot, the only place I will be going out to is the pool.

Knitting content; I tried to find yarn, there was none. I took the sock, and managed to turn the heel and work to half way down the foot, so good progress there.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

News of the day

You may now knit on flights in NZ...go on, do it for me.

I have committed a spot of light housekeeping on the blog, although I have a gift for confusion, I decided not to maintain it here, so have sorted the free patterns into “hand” and “machine” knit.
(by the kids once had a PC game, sort of like Pokemon, some of the animals had the power of "confusion" so what I had thought was an annoying personality trait is actually a superpower! I'm going to waylay you with my power of confusion, bewilder you into submission...ok shut up now Justine)

Although I have been machine knitting for about 12 years now ( I started when I was a mere child…cough cough) and have managed to make a living out of it on occasion, I do not consider myself an expert, I know how to do what I know how to do, luckily for those interested in finding out more about machines (Donni…Ailsa…) there are some good resources online ( and offline – Machine knitting clubs abound.) my friends Sonia and Lucia have excellent info and tutorials on their sites, they are very patient and explain concepts and techniques thoroughly (unlike me) this article this week from Knitter’s review has good points for those considering buying a machine, and has confirmed my decision to by a mid-gauge machine…I have always used a standard gauge, and have been hankering after a chunky…but having knitted on a chunky at tech…realise that it really isn’t what I want, because I want to knit double knitting /worsted weight, and this doesn’t work well on a chunky as there aren’t enough needles.

I am going to look around a bit more, get some information from the local machine suppliers (e.g. prices) and try to make my mind up, I have an old electronic which uses Mylar sheets, which I find annoying, I would prefer to use Designaknit, but am not sure wether to get a new standard gauge, or a midgauge electronic…because I want to knit thicker yarns…but I am worried that when I have the Designaknit system I will actually want to knit more in the thinner yarns…dilemmas…but I have heard that the Singer system is modular, so you can start out with the basic machine and add the electronics etc to it…so many choices…I wish I could just roll up to the shop and go “I’ll have one of those, and one of these…and that over there” ahhh, one day.

It is Labour Weekend here in Sydney, the weather is beyond glorious, I had to wear a sunhat while walking to work yesterday! Today is SSK hope someone turns up! we seem to be the only family I know, not going away this weekend, although Flash has another day trip to the Hunter Valley planned ( shakes her head) his Dad is coming over soon, followed a week later by my parents, Flash thinks that if the wine rack is full then they will know that he is "looking after me" what a full wine rack has to do with love and commitment I don't know...but he does, and thats enough for me.