Smoke and Mirrors.

Us theatre folk have a lot of tricks up our sleeves.
Forced perspective, dry ice, the 'Kabuki' drop to name a few...
and tea-dipping.

White is often problematic on stage, whether it's theatre, television or film.
Under the lights it can flare, create 'hot-spots' and in a period piece; just look wrong. If you're doing something that has lots of caps, bonnets, cravats and petticoats, bleached whites not only look anachronistically modern, but often draw focus and appear harsh, especially against skin. Even "TV -white" scenic paint is a mid-grey, but looks white on camera.

During technical rehearsals the world over a legion of wardrobe supervisors frantically scribble notes like "Knock back Petruchio's shirt" or some such..& wardrobe departments' laundries get filled with buckets of cold tea with endless whites soaking in them.

And so it is with this ball of ggh Scarlett cotton.

It's a very soft-textured cotton in almost the right weight for the Top Down Bonnet. In fact it was the closest gauge-wise I could get at Champion Textiles. ( I really want to support small business and local business so I resisted going into Tapestry Craft...especially for only 1 ball!).
Except the colour...
Gleaming, flaring, napisan-fresh, ice-ice-baby icy-white.
Time to delve into the old bag o' tricks and tea-dip.
I haven't done this for a longass time. Not since I gave up doing costumes(I decided I needed a psychology degree as well to keep working with actors) and concentrated on sets.

So, the tea-dipping; It's vey straightforward and is, as the name suggests, simply dipping the prepared item in a cold solution of very weak black tea (finely strained of course). I documented so if anyone's remotely interested I'll do a tutorial in upcoming posts.

You end up with a lovely soft 'antique ivory' hue. It's drying as I type,so hopefully post with the finished colour tomorrow. I impatiently tried to hasten the drying process by putting it in the tumble dryer, then thought to look at the label (der!) which yields nothing more than:

Beanstandungen werden nur bearbeitet wenn alle Einstecker vorliegen.

I'm a quarter german myself but I really only know how to say "see you later", "that's a nice pen" and "Fabulous!" in deutsch, so
babelfish translated it for me into:

" objections only worked on if all in plugs to be present".

Right well, I had better work out what my plugs are.

...But maybe the triangle with the cross though it means no tumble drying...(I could never work out those graphic fabric-care symbols).

Sure enough the yarn had just started to unwind itself, nevermind I'm sure I can twist it back while I'm ball-winding (she thought hopefully to herself).


There'll be some changes made

I've been doing some spring cleaning of the blog.
And while thinking of spring, renewal and birth, there's nothing like an impending one to make a person reach instinctively for the needles.

My friend Belinda is having a baby in December and you know what that means!........
Knitting of course.
No..I'm going to make the Top Down Bonnet from Hello Yarn in a gender-neutral colour.
Hurrah, I've finally got a new project to distract me until the Zephyr arrives.

The pattern calls for a sportweight which I'm pretty sure translates into an 8 ply. I happen to have some Naturally merino 8ply in my stash which I could make it in right now..can you tell I'm itching to stitch?
Ay... there's the rub... the itch factor.

The merino is quite soft, but is it soft enough? Should I use something like Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino (which after all is mostly merino, just with some microfibre and cashmere added), or is that whole "Baby" wool thing just marketing?


Shopping Goodness

Just a quick check-in to say if anyone's after some truly fabulous service for internet yarn shopping (and in these days of impersonal transactions, who isn't?) they should email the lovely Jennifer or check out the wool room at nysfarm.com.

I'll leave you with lamby goodness


Show us yer knittin'!!

you may have noticed there's been scant actual knitting going on around Needle's Edge of late.

And there I was thinking that my stalling and stalling and posting random visual distractions was working!

But no...it's true, you've seen right through my ruse.

And how can any self-respecting knitting blog call itself that if there's nuthin on the needles kiddo?

Well..it's just that I'm waiting and waiting "fixin to bust" as they say, for my Jaggerspun Zephyr to arrive (purchased from the lovely and funny Jennifer at vanCalcar Acres Farm - where incidentally you can Rent-a-Sheep!- Love the idea of getting regular updates on one's sponsored sheep, and even a pound o' yarn from them to boot! Very entrepeneurial, and gives city-slickers a way to vicariously experience the joys of rural life without the early rising, the back-breaking labour and the bank overdrafts).

So once that is here, I can finally get started on the Vintage V-neck. At least I've got as far as transposing the pattern from Kitchener Bitch's site into a usable document... working out my size versus the vintage sizing is the next task... it's amazing just how tiny women (and men for that matter) were even then..a relatively short time ago.

She also needs a name. "V-neck blouse" is so uninspiringly prosaic, "Miss 1946" makes me think of Victory Sashes (and Victory Rolls). Then I thought of calling her "Maria" after the actor it reminds me of but not only am I not Catholic, I'm atheist, and somehow that doesn't seem right.

And Sydney's climate is quite similar to Los Angeles, and I have to agree with Wendy on the questionable sanity of knitting even a short-sleeve sweater for our increasingly hot days. Hope springs eternal though...


How high is a dove?

Is a question that I can imagine the great Ella Fitzgerald improvising to the Hamilton & Lewis' tune How High The Moon.

And it's also a question to which the answer eludes me. I often have to ask myself these sorts of questions.

Like how big is a guinea pig?

I'm designing a barred window that a dove flies through ( oh yes, we love a visual metaphor around here..yes we do!) and so I really needed to know how much aperture overall to allow, and the spacing of the bars.

In the end I just made it up.

And so what does all this have to do with knitting you might ask?

Absolutely nothing!


Paws to reflect

Scout takes a quiet moment of reflection before composing her next paragraph.

What Scout more than makes up for in enthusiam she lacks in spelling...hence most of her entries rely heavily on the Alt, Ctrl and Spacebar keys.

However she does enjoy keeping tabs on what Bailey's up to over at doggedknits.

And while I'm on about Scouts, how 'bout of the human kind? ... I have lots of them out there with their fingers on the pulse, constantly feeding me information. One of them (thanks Imogen!) alerted me to Octobers Harper's Bazaar which features a mad Dolce Gabbana outfit from their Spring Collection. Entirely knitted..everything!
All in white. Lots of mad knitted frouffy layers topped off with (from memory) knitted undies superhero style.

Being too much of a tightwad to waste the price of a skein of Lamb's Pride on a glossy mag with Lindsay Lohan(!) on the cover I, naturally, looked it up online so I could share it with the blogosphere. Sadly the actual magazine image is unavailable, but I do have a backup:

Just the thing for the dog park! Or the beach...that is a knitted cossie under there.
and are they scrunchy socks with birkenstocks?


Knitted Homewares

Why stop at a cushion cover when you can knit your own architecture?

- Toshiko Horiuchi Macadam's Fibre Columns/ Romanesque Church


Of Jester and Jam Jars

Last night saw the first modelling of Jester on 14 month old Curtis.

He looks very cute in it..a tad large but will fit him quite well next winter.
But.... turns out that next time I knit something for the little chappie it will have earflaps. That secure together. Or button. Or maybe something else entirely..like a wee sweater.

Because turns out that little Curtis doesn't really like hats and his little hand reached up to the ball at the top and pulled it off quicker than you can say "Mum! get it off me"!
He's quite right of course, who wants to hide those cherubic curls anyway?

So it was modelled for all of about..oh... 3 1/2 seconds, not even long to turn the camera on.

I also handed over my "rag n bone man" (which is what I felt like clunky-clinking along from the car to Immi's front door) stash of hexagonal shaped jam jars I've been squirreling away for Im's jam & preserve making sideline enterprise.

Stay tuned for jam documentation!

Finally, this is Fred modelling some of his couture..it's quite a good likeness.

illustration: Claude Scott-Mitchell


I like to (S)watch

No really, I do.

Swatching seems to drive other knitting bloggers round the proverbial, even so far as t
o referring to it as "the misery of swatching".

But I could swatch til the cows come home, or the sheep even.

There's something about the simple act of perfecting a stitch, or a colour with nothing else to distract you ..like shape.

It is an end in itself.

So I've been swatching a lot lately.

Swatching endless shades of grey (all Gen Xers will surely remember
Steve Strange's
Fade to Grey...whatever happened to him?)

to get the exact, perfect shade of what I call "An exciting new fashion shade of mildew putty".

Perfecting The Bumblebee.

It's true I've been somewhat obsessed with this one for a while.

But now I've got the hang of it, it's actually quite easy despite the confusing non-instructions.

I'm thinking it would be quite good for a baby thi
or something with an antique tone lik
e a pattern from the 1920s, or Victorian,
or even ...

(yes, I was watching Helen Mirren on telly last night too..fab)

Last but not least, Rowan Big Wool in moss stitch

At least I can post photos again..that malfunction was in keeping with the spirit of the weekend. I exacerbated an old injury, the pipe under the kitchen sink exploded and flooded the kitchen (thank god we have a lovely plumber neighbour!) and I managed to lose all my keys.
Ah yes, just one of those weekends.

But there is always knitting.


Sow's Ear

6 hour reccie meeting.
The producer says

"That's why we like you theatre people,
you're used to doing something on nothing".

So right there.

but after...
About 13 years of sow's ear into silk purse.

All I can think is ...
Oh god I'd rather be knitting.

Maybe even knitting a silk purse.

Rather than more of how the hell are we going to do this champagne concept on beer budget yet again?

So right now
Like Greta Garbo...(or at least Peter Cook's Garbo anyway)

"Vy don't you leave me alon... I vant to be left alon....vis my knittink"


Lost in Translation.

Not the Sofia Coppola film and not even the cultish Edith Eig creation for Scarlett Johansson in said film.

No this is the general frustrating weirdness caused by the instructions (and I use the term loosely) in Big Book of Knitting Stitch Patterns.
A book which ,sadly for the publishers, I cannot recommend.

I've swatched lace stitches from about.com and I even managed to swatch several pattern repeats of Jo Sharp's Thandie mohair lace scarf, no problemo, with no frogging!
So, it can't be me, right?

And yet I've spent countless ( I would hate to tally) hours trying to crack this sucker:

Fans of Rimsky-Korsakoff, this... is Flight of the Bumblebee!

Or in my case, Lurch of the Manually-Challenged.

So, long stitch, long stitch, long stitch...hmmmm...the instructions for this stitch are cursory, ambiguous and...frankly... open to interpretation. Which I have been doing a lot of lately... interpreting that is.
Row upon row and repeat upon repeat of interpretation in fact.

Flicking back to the 1/2 page of glossary at the front of the book, (no explanation of longstitch there) I noticed that this entire book is, in fact, translated.
But from what? And more importantly... into what?

Even a quick google of "long stitch" yields scant joy.
Except for one A Strikke's blog, whose "Notes on Russian Knitting Patterns" looked promising but sadly following those instructions still looked nothing like the sample.
Gee Whiz.
And so this is where, dear readers, a certain obsessive obduracy comes into play as I've kept at it (and at it) and I think finally it's looking kinda close.
It's actually more of a k2tog, psso affair but with the k2togs being above and below rather than side by side.
Which bears little resemblance to the printed instructions. Looking at the chart and then improvising seems to work better.

So 2 lessons learned.
1. If written instructions don't actually make sense and hence all your attempts at lace stitches look like disordered/blind person's knitting, then maybe it's not you after all.
2. If you're like me and the neurons in the problem-solving part of your brain fire up in a more meaningful, useful way when looking visuals rather than words...then chart, chart, chart!


Lie down on the couch

You see Doctor, it's like this...

I have not one but two projects; actual paid work, one with a pressing deadline.

But can I concentrate on either for more

than 45 minutes?


My mind keeps wandering off and onto doodling designs

for knitted hot water bottle cozies instead.

The thing is...I'm just not sure if this is normal.


Dog Park(a)

Everyone who has a dog knows that those winter evenings in the dog park are truly goolie-freezing and so a nice warm cardi is in order. A gay (in the old fashioned sense) colour wouldn’t go astray in the miserable dark cold either.

Enter Rowan Big Wool.

Pattern-wise I could go (from left to right) Berry, Suzy, Gwen, Chrissy, Tate, Trench or Tucker. (I’m Libran, I need lots of options to make the decision making just that little bit harder).

Berry’s cute but hard to tell whether it has a hood or not. Suzy appears clinically depressed, and perhaps I ought to heed that bad omen.

Note Gwen is sitting down, actually she’s slumped down which suggests to me that they didn’t use the standing up shot for this one because the cardi is in fact a shapeless lump and hence best avoided.

Chrissie looks like a world of reverse stockinette.

Tate looks whacked out on scary drugs…maybe not go there.

At the moment I’m leaning towards Tucker, which has a hood and it seems to have more structure by virtue of the heavily textured stitch, (that could take me a longass time judging by my progress with the Big Book of Knitting Stitches) but as this is intended to be my Winter of 2007 DogParkCoat it might just be finished by then.

Suggestions anyone?


of The Alpaca Kind

Remember Close Encounters of The Third Kind?

Where Richard Dreyfuss maniacally sculpts his mashed potato

Into Devil’s Mountain?

Well I’ve knitted it


Big Blue

There's nothing like coming home from a marathon meeting, brain fried, wondering if it's too early for a glass of wine and discovering the pragmatic postie has thoughtfully saved you a trip to the post office by hurling your package onto the 1st storey balcony.
In this case containing one kilo of Rowan Big Wool.
Which was my ebay bargain of the week...no, the month!
Love it.

Oh, and look what else came in the post
Gilda on DVD
I know what I'm doing tonight. New yarn and a DVD of colour and movement..don't tell me I don't know how to party!
Hmm..there seems to be a 1940s femme fatale sub-theme emerging...


Vintage: The Next Challenge

Let’s re-cap on work to date:

Several wonky rectangles. Check.
One and a half hats. Check.
Sundry funny sweaters for hotwater bottles and rodents. Check.

So now I think I 'm ready for this?


It's all about the neckline y'see.

I'm so keen on doing something for Vintage Knitalong, even more keen not to knit another hat for a while, and so intrigued by the (rather uninspiringly titled) v-neck blouse that I’m thinking why the hell not?

I’m also thinking that (after a glass of wine) I could easily convince myself that this makes me look just like noir actor Maria Casares as La Morte in Jean Cocteau’s Orphee.

But I fear that the reality would be something more like Auntie Bertha at the tuckshop*

Not to mention the crochet finishing: 1 s c in first st, ch 3, work 1 sl st in last s c made, 1 s c...
Exsqueeze me? Is that martian?

I know all you crocheters out there know what that means

Speaking of which, has anyone else successfully converted a crochet pattern to a knitting pattern? I've found this guide but if anyone knows of a better way let me know. There's another contender for the vintage kal, but a second check on it this morning revealed..yes you guessed it...it's in crochet!


*school canteen


The view from where I knit

Last night's dogwalk through the innerwest took us past a store which intrigued me from the outside.
(Checking out their website reveals it's not to my aesthetic, I'm more of a post-1960s gal, but some readers might like. Although if I ever have to design a depression era feed-sack quilt for a show, I'll know where to get the materials).
The point being that the very fact that I was intrigued got me thinking.
Thinking that it wasn't so long ago that you'd find me at a nightclub at 4am.
Then seemingly the next thing that happened was I woke up and thought.."hmm...quilting".
Or in my case..."hmm...knitting".
And I wondered what happened in the intervening time between those two moments.
Turning 40 I think.


Thou shalt not covet thy website’s bamboo

This yarn porn thing is really dangerous business.

I mean, just how much of a case does a person have to be to seriously consider buying skeins of pure knits’ bamboo lace - with the exchange rate and international shipping- because if you don’t ..oh I don’t know…the world will stop turning or some such.


Perversity in Sydney

Well Summer hit all of a sudden today...no spring..no buildup... just very warm.
And it makes it seem
almost perverse
to be knitting large warm lumps of alpaca on such an evening.
Kinda like "It's a hunnerd fokkin degreez up here on stage unner zee lights...

...zo let's put on zum fur"
- Hedwig and the Angry Inch

I've been wondering how my knitting obsession will survive a Sydney summer.
Guess it'll just have to be cotton...or bamboo... or soysilk?


The Accidental Life of a Constructivist

I love it when this happens, you’re model making away and all of a sudden you get these incidental shapes forming.

Very Tatlin.

Shame I have to hack it off.

Meanwhile on the desk:

Work And Play: Locked together in the eternal tension of opposites.

materials: plan, plastic circle template, bamboo dpn

Some people would (and do - with great regularity) say that what I do for a living is play, but I can

assure you it’s not. Like any job it has its days of brain-numbing tedium, when you’d really rather be…well... knitting for instance.

Knitting and eating hob nobs (or herb nerbs in Swedish*)

*homage to french&saunders