Ultra Swatch

Quite a few bloggers of late ** have been blogging about swatching and it's all added up one unignorable mantra in my head "Wash and block your swatches... wash and block your swatches..."

Not only that, but measure them again.
And compare to the original pre-washed.
With Scientific. Rigour.
So much prep! But like with your walls, you know that if you don't do all the careful prep work before you paint them you'll live to regret it.
So..I did it.
Hell with being sick, there's not much else to do.

I washed and and blocked three swatches for the Ultra Raglan.
From top to bottom:
7mm plastic (from the early days..I know, I know, what was I thinking? Don't worry I'm past that now) 6.5 mm bamboo and 6 mm steel ( !!!! like dentist tools...my teeth were practically vibrating as I worked with them..ugh!..but they were all I had in 6mm in the house).

And yes I can confirm there is quite some variation between the pre-washed and post-washed.
Shrinkage even.

But neither pre nor post washing on any needle has rendered correct gauge.
Target gauge is 13.5 st x 18 rows on 7mms, and the closest I can get is 12.5 st x 16.5 rows post-wash on the 6mm.

Now, my brain is still feeling a bit like cotton wool thanks to Mr. Virus so should I swatch again on 5.5s?

This is in addition to heeding wise bloggy advice on Jo Sharp sizing (go down a size), and given that almost everything I've knitted thus far has ended up too big (I'm a loose knitter), I would so like to knit something that I can actually wear that isn't a scarf.

I feel like I should mention the recent unpleasantness because to not do so would be like to not mention the elephant in the room. Suffice to say thanks to everyone for your great comments of support and encouragement, they were all actually really cool. I'm blown away that I have so many intelligent and thoughtful readers. Really. So thank you!

In a further ironic twist, Anonymous alerted me to the fact that I had 40 ( 40!! ) subscribers! Which is approximately 37 more than I assumed I had. So thankyou Anonymous too. And Di, I'm sure they are hanging around like an arsonist invariably returns to the scene of the fire to watch the firefighters putting it out.

** Edited to add: D'oh! I just knew there was someone I missed, Jaqui is the last but no means least ( in fact I think she may have started me off on this swatch-blockin' thang in the first place) blogger.


Good clean anonymous fun.

So here’s the thing...

You’re sitting there around your kitchen table with a little group of friends.

You know, you’ve got the knitting out, you’re shooting the breeze, really just minding your own business and having a nice ol’ time.

Then all of a sudden this person in a Ku Klux Klan cloak and a Gorilla-gram mask crashes into your home, pees in your kitchen sink right in front of you, then runs out again, before you even get a chance to even say “Hey, wait a minute”.

Just like that.

And it’s real weird.

Thing is, you don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out who’s under the mask there coz their DNA is all over the joint.

Unpleasant business all in all though.

By blogging, I feel I’m inviting people into my home in a way, to sit around the virtual kitchen table for a couple of minutes, and a certain unwritten contract of trust is entered into. The last thing I’m really wanting is the Phantom Pee-er violating that trust.

I went to an all girl high school, and in my year there were roughly 2 groups. There were the ‘Cosmo Girls’ (after their choice of recess reading Cosmopolitan – read as Homecoming Queens), and there were the ‘Arty Dags’ (who read NME during recess – read as nerds or Talent-less Trolls).

Needlesss to say, I was in the latter group.*

It’s interesting how some things never change.

So you know where to find me, I’ll be under my bridge. Careful crossing... ‘specially at night.

*I'd like to state for the record I have nothing against Cosmo...I'm merely making an ethnographic point.


Cardboard Box

A vessel wednesday photo narrative.

Because vessels don't have to contain merely liquids.
They can also contain small discombobulated black dogs.


FO: red socks

Finally, an FO!
The first since January. Well I have been somewhat busy.

Lane Cervinia Calzetteria in 132...er...red? A smidge over 2 balls. Verdict: Quite nice. Initially felt a tad scratchy, but that was only in comparison to the recently-handled 50/50 merino/silk..hello! On the feet, very comfy and soft.

Needles: 2.25 bamboo dpns
: Seed Stitch Rib Socks which came free with the yarn. A basic Top-down, 60 stitch, 2X ribbing with seed stitch in the gutters.
Difficulty rating: Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy. They pretty much flew off the needles (with one notable exception) with almost no thinking required.None! Gotta love that. Goat thought I was some kind of knitting genius but all I had to do was what I was told.
Mods: None.
Which...in retrospect, was probably a mistake, because if I did these again, I would either go down a needle size or lose some stitches (which is tricky on a 6 stitch pattern repeat), because these puppies are way too big! Note the saggy bloop above the heel in the photo below.

I've been wearing them around the house all morning and if I gaze down at my foot they now appear to be more like those Olivia Newton-John Xanadu Leg-Scrunchies. All I need is a pair of white roller skates and I'm set.

Ah well, they may not be the most poetic pair of socks ever knitted, nor even the best-fitting, but you know what? They're my first pair, they joined the mile-high-club and I'm keepin' 'em.

The bougainvillea flowers (which of course every horticultural nerd knows aren't really flowers at all, but bracts -coloured leaves- protecting the actual flower) ...they look art-directed but they had in fact just all plopped there on the front verandah after last night's rain. I can assure you, there was no gratuitous styling involved, and I do like the tonal resonance of red and pink.

Flu-wise, this virus is pernicious!! Yesterday I doped myself up on Codral, dragged my death-warmed-up arse in to UTS to teach what I thought was going to be a process tutorial, but in fact was a Studio class in model making! Surprise!! Good thing I can model make with my eyes closed and was a snap to wing it, even though my brain felt like cotton wool, I kept losing my voice and had to teach English to the Japanese student, Scale to the fashion students, and Metric to the American student. Phew.

Today however is a proper "be sick in bed" day..no more trying to fix up the house. Had to take a break from sick-bed literature though as I'm reading Jim Jarmusch interviewing Tom Waits [a somewhat lateral link here]; they're both so dry-ley, wry-ley hilarious that it's bringing on coughing fits!
Looks like it's just gonna have to be knitting. Lost enthusiasm for ol' Princess Morte.
May have to delve into the stash and see what I can come up with.

Thanks everyone for your kind "get well soon"s. They cheered me up no end.


Vanishing Point. Or: Diary of a dare-devil knitter moving about all over the place. Or: If it's Friday, it must be Pago-Pago.

Like Gwen, I had vanished momentarily.

And like Dorothy when she wakes up after the tornado, I'm feeling a tad discombobulated. But I'm still waiting for the reassuring face of Aunty Em to materialise.

We have had Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion through here lately in the form of Pest Exterminator, Removalist and Gas Man however.

Yes, we've moved.

Alas, not to anything we've purchased, but in fact to new rental accomodation while we look to buy at a more prudent pace rather than the insane breakneck one we were forced into a little while ago.

Which does mean we have to go through this craziness again in 6 months.

Where was I before all this craziness began?.....

[ everyone make wibbly wobbly movements with your arms now to denote flashback ]

Oh yeah...

So there I was heading down to Melbourne for the 3rd and final time last Thursday and I thought what the hell, this time I'm going to sneak my knitting into my carry-on luggage.

The bag goes through the xray.

I go through security.

No heavily balaclava-ed and armed task force descends on me demanding immediate handover of 5 suspicious small pointy things.

Looks like I'm in the clear!

Onboard, we take off and I take out my almost finished sock, carefully
arranging the dpns and the yarn in my lap, outwardly acting all laissez faire, like I do this every day doncha know! But inwardly expecting the Virgin staff to dash up the aisle, confiscate my sock and leave me with no backup plan.

Nope, that doesn't happen either.

Rather, the gent seated a couple of seats away from me asks me what I'm knitting, who I'm knitting if for etc.

"Red socks" ?! His eyebrows raise as if the very idea were outrageous.

He then proceeds to tell me an anecdote about when he was working in France and there were advertising billboards
everywhere saying something like " A leur coeur avec tricot". exhorting knitters to win friends and influence people through knitting for them. All in all a pleasant experience.
And I get as far as binding off a few minutes before touch down..hurrah!

Outlook from hotel room? You could say it's less than cheery.

But after a fortifying mozzarella and granita at good ol' Pellegrinis where the guys who've been there since...what..1962? still call everyone bella and bello, I head off to tech. rehearsal.

Cut to 1.30am next morning. The Russian cab driver with a strong line in black humour taking me back to my hotel is listening to Radio National. Instantly I like him. The news of Willie Brigitte comes on. There's a short pause and then the driver observes that if he'd been detained under said conditions he would have confessed to not only "planning terrorism", but also JFK,
Pearl Harbour and Archduke Franz Ferdinand ...you name it. By the end of the trip through the dark and empty city we'd had quite a lengthy philosophic discourse on the nature of modern democracy.

By now it's around 2 am and I really want to unwind with sewing up my sock, coz I am just so rock n roll.
But wait...what is this weirdness just past the heel turn?

What is that? Some weird dropped stitch about 50 rows ago that doesn't join up to the top?

Oh bugger.

So I unwound with winding up my ripping instead.

Aussie knitters, you'll be pleased to know that I am here to officially report that Qantas, like Virgin, also didn't bat an eye when I took out my knitting on the return trip..perhaps things have sufficiently relaxed to the point where airlines no longer believe they are in mortal peril from a woman weilding a bamboo dpn.

Flash forward [more wibbly wobblies here] to Sydney a week later and we're in our funny cramped new house. The flu virus that was hanging around in the background ever since my second trip to Melbourne but I told myself I wasn't going to get? Finally succumbed. Blergh. But at least as of today I've managed to reconnect the washing machine, the gas and the broadband...yes we have re-joined the developed world at last!

The second sock?
Yes it's finished and still waiting to have its toe grafted up...now if only I knew where I packed it....


Diary of a would-be knitter

baby penguins wait patiently for their turn.

Wake at 4.30am.
Wait at airport gate with colleague at time normally alloted to sleeping.
Arrive Melbourne venue already exhausted.
Realise resignedly have only just begun 10 hour day.
Get informed that meeting we have flown down at crack of dawn for is already over.
Try not to laugh, groan or swear.
Meet strangely ebullient and charming canadian operations manager who explains the meaning of SNAFU - a term I will be using a lot in the next 12 hours.
Repeatedly navigate various security 'procedures', the absurdity of which reaches Pythonesque proportions.
Amass fine collection of various colour-coded wristbands.
Allow myself to be talked into a coffee which whiles away 20 minutes of the 3.5 hours we now have to fill before anything happens.
Hope caffeine poisoning doesn't set in.
Suggest to colleague that I might jump in taxi and go shopping, that he can message me when anything indeed starts happening. (I'm thinking Marta's Yarns ..but I don't tell him that).
Strangely, he doesn't go for that suggestion.
Sink into mild resigned funk.
Finally endure 5.5 hours of the teeth-pulling agony of dress rehearsal which feels more like 11.
Wish I had knitting with me.
Silently curse ridiculous airline security banning knitting needles.
Announce at 15 minute intervals to equally hysterical colleague amount of time left before we can go home.
Experiment with photographing lights on pool water without camera's sharpening function; try to capture particularly 'out-of-focus-dazzle' quality my eyes are experiencing. (very tired by this stage)
Give up that particular avenue of diversion.
Really really wish I had knitting with me; would have finished pair of socks by now.
Experiment with telephoto function photographing kids costumed as baby penguins instead.
Confess out loud to colleague that I wish I had my knitting with me.
No discernible reaction.
Much much later drink dodgy chardonnay with said colleague at airport gate.
Surrender to reassurance of old school trolley dolly style flight crew of Qantas.
Brace against hysterical unfettered joy of Scout upon return.
Collapse into coma.


new (?) stuff

The new Jo Sharp Knit Issue 3 is out.

At first there was the initial frisson of excitement.
Then vague resentment set in..."All I need right now is more temptation, thanks!"
But I needn't have worried.
A quick survey of the thumbnails reveals that, well it's not exactly bouncing my trampoline.
I quite like the one on the cover

But even that bears a strong similarity to a Kid Mohair vest in Issue 2 I've already staked out.
I'm all for recycling but that's a bit cheeky.

Not as cheeky however as raising the prices of ones yarn range, then putting a little spin on it: "Jo Sharp knows your knitting time is precious, and she challenges you ... to match that preciousness with the yarn you use".


Guess it's a cyncial ol Thursday.


perfectly balanced form

in today's episode of vessel wednesday we are once again using the services of a stunt double.

today, a beautiful white ceramic bowl by the late
restaurateur turned ceramicist Anders Ousback.

image from rex irwin gallery.


baby's first sock

Thanks everyone for your encouraging words on the sock...in much the same vein as I would encourage the first successful "glueing together of two pieces of cardboard" from one of my students.
Eh well, we all have to start somewhere don't we?
The first sock is done! Ends are woven in!
I've even cast on and done a good solid inch of the second one.
Yay Team Sock.

Oh...and by the way...
the whole sock thing?
Now I get it.
I think I could get addicted to socks.


Turned a corner

& turned a heel
And it's surpisingly easy.
Maybe because I cut my short row teeth on the clogs/ slippers

3 layers: paint swatches, shadows, and Scout.
Who finds colour selection completely enervating



I was driving home late this afternoon with Scout in the back seat, where she'd been patiently sitting panting away from the unbearable heat & humidity all afternoon.
Above the traffic, the sky was amazingly pregnant with atmospheric clouds.
Seeing as it was already 4.30 I decided to blow off the rest of day and head towards the clouds.
And into the park,
where there's a little lake with rushes and ducks
so Scout could have a swim and cool off.

Much better thankyou.