Thursday, 31 December 2009

End of year FOs

A few finished pieces of knitting to show.

Turn a Square beanies for baby brother and his gorgeous girlfriend for xmas.
Monkey socks for sister - seen here on the sock blockers, almost ready to send off as a belated xmas present (better late than never). I had to send her a WIP photo for xmas. She laughed.
A xmassy cotton mitred hanging towel for a xmas swap partner.

And these snug purple stripey socks that I finished back in October, just in time for my trip to NYC. The gorgeous Grignasco Strong Print yarn was gifted to me by PomPom in a swap earlier this year.

Summer knitting continues, with a few different things on the needles - some of which, frustratingly, have been frogged or tinked back many times. But more socks will be cast on soon, a shawl will be on the blocking wires very shortly, and a cosy pinwheel blanket is progressing well. Loving catching a few short hours to sit with my knitting, watching Sensitive Skin on DVD and enjoying my all-too-short break.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Xmas traditions

I love xmas. I really do. I love that it's hot, hot, hot. I love that I spend weeks (OK, maybe days) planning the menu. Not just for the day, but for all the other days when visitors want to eat with me. I love that I can switch off from work for a week or so. I especially love that I can spend time with my loved ones.

My girls and I have a couple of xmas traditions. Well, the first one, they probably wouldn't admit to being part of, but they laugh along with me. You see, each year, I buy a xmas CD - some years it will be traditional, some years vintage, but most years it's pretty appalling.
Back in the day, I used to buy records - you know, LPs. But I won't inflict those album covers on my blog readers. Since I've moved into the modern world of CDs, I've bought several of the vintage versions, with the usual suspects: Dean Martin, Doris Day, Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole.
But some years I diversify. It was the Beach Boys that followed me home one year.
Another year, it was The Hoff (very cringeworthy and, yet, my personal favourite).
Even The Seekers have made it into my xmas collection.
This year it was a toss up among Shirley Bassey, Neil Diamond and Elvis.

Elvis won (although I'm pretty sure he never really actually sang O Come All Ye Faithful with Olivia Newton-John or Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane) with Leann Rimes.)
Ahh, I'll bet my xmas visitors are looking forward to hearing this one.

Xmas tradition number two is a bit less scary.

Last year I blogged about my grown-up daughters requesting xmas skirts each year. On our recent trip to LA, Daughter2 selected some Michael Miller Party Girls fabric for this year's xmas skirts.
But did I start them early enough for both girls to wear them on The Day? Of course not. Daughter1 is far away this xmas season, lolling about in the sun and hopefully being spoiled rotten by in-laws, so there is no way I am going to get an as-yet-unmade Party Girls skirt to her now. But Daughter2 is still insistent. It might just get done.

In the meantime, I have resurrected last year's cherry theme for a xmas bib for ma minette.
But just in case she feels like being a Party Girl too, it's reversible!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

The Canberra Crew

Recently, some of the Canberra knitters got together for a swap. It's a bit of a Ravelry thing - swapping. This time the fun (and the pressure) came from actually knowing my swap partner. Alison and I and several other knitters meet up weekly at lunch time to knit and drink coffee, and about once a month or so for an evening session, usually involving a glass of alcohol.
We got together one Friday night for a pot luck dinner and a few drinks to swap our parcels amongst friends. This is what I knitted for Alison in the Canberra Crew swap.
It's the Lace Ribbon Scarf by Veronika Avery, in Colinette Jitterbug purchased at Wild Fiber in Santa Monica last April, and supplemented with another skein (I was slightly stressed that one just wasn't quite enough) by Carrie. It's a lovely simple pattern to knit, and the Jitterbug blocked out beautifully.
(I haven't told Carrie yet, but I found another skein of the same colourway in my stash the other day!)
Pop over to Alison's blog to see the gorgeous scarf she made for me.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Little efforts

I am not really a fan of shopping for clothes. If I have my fashion advisers (Daughter1 and Daughter2) with me, then I feel OK about buying a thing or two – and usually I just find one item I like, then buy it in every colour. Not smart shopping, really. I have a real aversion to buying mass produced articles of clothing. I don’t want to pay many dollars for something that some person was paid a few cents to make. On the other hand, I am more than happy to pay for a locally designed and made item. It’s not about the cost, it’s about where it comes from and how many more of them I’m going to see in the street.

I’ve had the argument put to me that if we don’t buy the goods that are made in poorer nations, then those sweatshop girls won’t earn a living. Isn’t it more about making a stand for better conditions for those workers? Hmm, I can see I’m not forming a logical argument here, and I am sure that others can provide a more convincing discussion. I don’t think that my little effort will affect the livelihood of those workers. But it is my little effort, and I feel better for making it.

I read lots of blogs and websites like Consumption Rebellion. I love the Brown Dress project. I chuckle over and admire some of the creations on Wardrobe Refashion.

But how to make a little more effort myself?

I have, in the past, given myself small challenges to desist from buying new clothes, new shoes or new books for six months at a time. Recently, I joined Knitting Sprouts in an effort to reduce consumption. (Mind you, my trip to the States temporarily knocked me off that wagon.)

So my new challenge to myself is to make my own wardrobe – for a year. Too much of a commitment? Well, we’ll see. I know myself that I don’t rise to self-imposed challenges too well (otherwise I would have lost these superfluous kilos long ago, non?). But nothing challenged, nothing gained, I say.

Make my own wardrobe for a year? Everything? I reckon that the only things I won’t make are shoes (a bit tricky), bras (yes, I probably could, but I won’t) and stockings (the ones I could possibly knit would not be very functional, I’m sure). So: make my own wardrobe for a year, everything except shoes, bras and stockings. What do you think? Possible, or no?

After all these words, here’s a couple of photos to indicate that I am on the way. The week before I went on hols, my favourite (and only) pyjama pants fell apart. Yes, I could have run out and bought a nice new pair, but I rose to LilyandJinks’ personal challenge to me one lunch time and whipped up a pair the day before I left for overseas. OK, they’re a bit baggy and clown-like but, my oh my, those soft cotton thrifted sheets make comfy jammies.
On my return, I made the pattern again, this time a size smaller. But the cotton from this sheet was not quite so soft. And Ralph wasn't very impressed either (as we can see by the expression on his little furry face). Lesson learnt: choose your fabric carefully.
So the start of my voyage is represented by a couple of pairs of pyjama pants. I wonder what’s next?

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Not knitting

I'm loving getting to know my sewing machine. I've had it for a year or more, but I've not really devoted the time to it that it deserves. I have a fabric stash that truly rivals my yarn stash, and still I buy more. And just on that point, I have a few lovelies to show you in more detail.

As my favourite sister reminded me, in my last post I didn't show the laminated nut sack fabric that we bought in LA. Both of the following are designs from the Kaffe Fasset Studio, and are very soft and drapey.
This next one with bright red cherries is a bit sturdier.
And, because Michelle asked about it, here is a closeup of the dictionary print fabric that I bought on that same shopping expedition. It has definitions of words like original, real, fresh and simple. I think it will make a good lining for project bags.
Back to the sewing machine. I whipped up some cute little pants for ma minette.
I have been doing a bit more sewing, and also a lot more thinking about sewing. I might even want to share that thinking with blogland, but I need to straighten up my own thoughts first. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Travelling women

Can it really be two months since I last blogged? I guess that when your own daughter sends you an email reminding you that you haven’t posted in a while, then you’d better get a move on.

Things have been happening, including a trip to NYC to act as support crew for Daughter2 (aka Marathon Woman).

Here she is, waiting for the Staten Island ferry to transport her to the start line:
And here she is, 26.2 miles (42.2 kilometres) later in Central Park:
She ran the whole way! It was an amazing experience just being there for the New York City Marathon, even as a spectator. Almost makes me want to run one myself. I said almost.

It was kinda cool to be there at Halloween – there were little (and big) kids dressed up going to parades and parties and there were skeletons and vampires skating at the Rockefeller Center.

Of course, no trip to New York would be complete without a little yarn shopping. Knitty City, Habu and String gave up a few little goodies for me. (And I can’t believe I didn’t photograph my haul before cramming it into my stash cupboard.)

And no trip to the States would be complete without visiting my favourite sister and my favourite fabric store in LA .

In the few days we were there, we found time for another walk around the lovely parts of Los Angeles, this time to the gorgeous canals behind Venice Beach.
And on the homefront, there has been a little crafting, but I’ll save that for another post. Right now, it’s cup of tea time.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Sisters Day

Yes, in 1968, my sister and I were Irish Dancers. I'm not quite sure why, on the day this photo was taken, she (on the left) is resplendent in Irish Dancing costume and shoes, and I am not. Maybe I was getting a bit too old for it. Or maybe she was just better than I was and went in more competitions. She did win way more medals that I did.

Nowadays, we are no longer competitive. We are closer than we have ever been - even though we live so far apart. And so, a few years ago, we declared our very own Sisters Day. We picked a month that was about half way between our birthday months and xmas, and a date that was half way between our birth dates. We send each other something lovely on Sisters Day.

This year she sent me a delightful mix of the old and the new - knowing how much I would love both. Purple hand-crafted pot holders, wrapped in a vintage scarf, with a vintage card.

Well, not exactly a vintage gift card, but more a vintage card of hooks and eyes that cost 15c for size 1. How cool is that!
Happy Sisters Day to my favourite sister.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Travelling woman

No, not me (well, yes me, but that's another story). Here is my Traveling Woman. (I never quite get the one l vs two l thing.)

It's a lovely easy pattern for a beginner lace knitter like me. I knit it with no mods to the pattern as written, and it makes a lovely wide but shallow shawl that can be wrapped around the neck like a scarf. Knit in Naturally Haven 4ply from NZ - lovely and soft, and very purple!

Saturday, 12 September 2009

The art of giving

I will admit it. I am a Ravelry time waster. I love it, but spend way too much time there. One of the things I love about Rav (and there are many) is the sense of community it creates. It is also a haven for swapping. It's a crazy thing really, people sign up for swaps and make fabulous things for people they have never met. I don't know why we do it. Maybe it's the element of surprise - never really knowing what you will receive in your swap package until you excitedly tear it open. Maybe it's the fact that someone has really thought about the collection of lovelies that goes into a package for a certain stranger. Myself, I love the fact that someone will actually MAKE something for me.
But often I feel a little bit like I'm letting down the team - that the packages I put together and send around the country, or even around the world, are never quite up to scratch.
But, in the name of proving that this is indeed a knitting blog, and that I have in fact been knitting, I offer some of my latest creations, mostly made for other people.
Firstly I went on a bit of cowl thing, making these two for different swap partners.
When the knitting doubts hit me, I do a little sewing instead. This little project bag has knitting instructions on the ribbon around the top (ah, NYC you are a shopper's dream).
Then I ease myself back into gift knitting by knocking up a little wash cloth or two.
And recently, I whipped up some felted clogs for Kelly for her birthday.

I have made these felted clogs for myself as well. Love 'em.

Friday, 11 September 2009

A certain sorrow

Grief is the strangest thing. At the time of loss, grief can overwhelm us like a heavy blanket, falling over our being, suffocating us, creating a barrier from the world around us. Gradually, very gradually, the weight lifts, we can see others around us, others who want to be part of our grieving, who want to comfort or empathise or sympathise. And soon, or maybe not so soon, that feeling is no longer our constant companion.

But the strangest part about grief is that you never know when it is around the corner, waiting to come at you like a train, mowing you down with the devastating sadness that you thought you had left behind. Making you sob. Sob like you may never stop.

My Mum died three years ago yesterday. This year, I was wise enough to take the day off work, just in case that old companion, grief, caught me unawares again. It did.

I wonder about the strength of this emotion, that it can make me weep so.

The funny thing is that my Mum used to drive me crazy, as mum’s often do. But, hell’s bells, I loved her so much.

Yes, I know that Mum was old (well, not that old, in my opinion), and that she wasn’t really well. She wasn’t very mobile and had a lot of chronic pain. But those who once said to me ‘at least she’s not in pain anymore’ just don’t understand. That doesn’t make me miss her any the less. And I do miss her, so very much.

While my day yesterday was saturated with tears, I knew that calmness would eventually return. I made myself go out on a pre-arranged date with wonderful girlfriends who didn’t know Mum, who didn’t know it was any sort of anniversary, and who make me laugh and laugh. What good medicine that was.

And next year? It will probably be the same. And the year after that. Grief keeps waiting just around the corner, ready to bowl us over.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Cupcake day

It doesn't get much better than this.
A sunny winter's day.
Early birthday brunch with ma minette, which included a baby cupcake - every birthday deserves cake. I can barely believe that we have had her in our lives for two years now. She makes my heart sing.
Then off to the Craft and Quilt Fair with Carrie and Kelly. No photographic evidence, but some stash enhancement did take place - mostly fabric (I think Bendigo spoiled us for yarn choice a few weeks ago). We took our weary selves off to lunch, followed by a trip to Cherry Seed for yummy treats to be enjoyed at Kelly's for afternoon tea. Take my word for it, these once were cupcakes.

And while I should really be painting my laundry this evening, I am not. I am reflecting on the nice life that I have. And cupcakes.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Sister's socks

My favourite sister is an extraordinarily talented and creative artiste. She paints and draws and sews and photographs and does fabulous things with paper. She knits a little and can crochet better than I can.

When I visited her in April, she asked me to show her how to make socks.

I thought about it.

And then I said NO.

This is the last remaining creative pursuit on earth at which I have more skill. No, I was not going to teach her to knit socks. I would knit socks for her.

We chose some beautiful soft and squishy hand-dyed sock yarn at Wildfiber in Santa Monica. And I knitted her these socks. (The red bit is not some nasty frill at the cuff. It is the top of the sock blocker.) Waving Lace Socks from Interweave's Favourite Socks, in Pagewood Farm Glacier Bay Hand Dyed Sock Yarn, harvest colourway, on 2.5mm Knitpicks.

I think she likes them.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

I've been knitting, too.

Thank you so much to my friends and family who commented on my attempts to produce a serviceable needle case. My concerns about Fancy-Schmancy have been assuaged. I realise now that of course we can have gorgeous things around us to do ordinary jobs. Every comment is very much appreciated. Merci beaucoup, mes amies. Someone will find a little surprise in their letter box soon.

There's been knitting too. I knitted up some floppy socksy things. And felted them into clogs! Voila!
Fibertrends felted clogs knitted in Filatura Di Crosa 127 Print bought at the Great Cassidy's $2 sale yonks ago on 8mm Knitpicks. Mmmmm. Cosy.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Opinions, please.

I've being doing a bit of sewing lately.

I set my mind to trying to sew a practical yet pretty needlecase - to hold sewing needles, not knitting needles. I have sewn a few versions, some fancy-schmancy, and some a bit plainer but just as practical.

I would really appreciate the views of a reader or two to let me know if I'm on the right track.

Oh, and a point of clarification: I am in no way competing with the fabulously talented etsy craftsters who sell their creations online. I am merely looking for gift ideas.

Let me present my first attempt: The Fancy-Schmancy Needlecase. This has a cover in genuine vintage Hong Kong satin from my mother's stash, with handmade felt on the inside, and a 1950s West German vintage button closure. My own reaction was along the lines of ... holey dooley that's a bit over the top for a needlecase! What do you think?
My second attempt was almost at the other end of the spectrum. The Plain Old Needlecase is still made using handmade felt inside, but with lovely fabric from a thrifted sheet for the cover. No closures on this one. I kinda like it.
Next came the Butterfly Needlecase. a little fancier with a ribbon to close.
And finally, because a good needlecase probably needs leaves inside, I present the much bulkier, but possibly more practical Butterfly Needlecase Number Two. (You can see why I'm not a seller - my marketing skills are up the creek.)
Well? What do you think? Is Fancy-Schmancy too much so? Will Plain Old do the trick? Or do we really need extra leaves inside to make a needlecase truly functional?
Care to comment? There might be a needlecase in it for you if you do.