Archive for June, 2009

Adventures in blocking II

As I suspected, the pair of socks I knit for the winter sock club needed some serious blocking. When I tried them on, this is what they looked like.

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Hmmm, not exactly the most attractive feature at the front of the foot there! We were assured that the unique construction of the socks would come right when blocked.  So, I dutifully soaked (and washed with a bit of Euculan) and popped my socks on the beautiful sock blockers I got in a swap earlier this year.

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Even on the blockers, I had to give the socks a bit of encouragement to lose the bump on the front. I popped them on top of the gas heater and every couple of hours I manipulated the bump until it was virtually invisible. 

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That’s all the hints I’m going to give you on how they look – I’ll do a proper FO post later in the week if and when we see some sunshine for some nice pics.

Now, I am very spoiled with my super sock blockers. My swapper’s father made them out of marine grade ply and varnished them. They are awesome, and socks dry seriously quickly on them. But, if you haven’t any marine grade ply, a jigsaw, sandpaper and varnish hanging around at home (!), and you don’t have the dollars to shell out for a set of blockers (even if they are gorgeous like these new Knitpro ones)… Here’s an idea for making your own out of plastic table mats. I’ve made a couple of sets and they are great. My friend Christine made some awesome ones using scrapbooking paper that she laminated. They apparently work a treat.

So, if you’ve got a stubborn sock in your life, perhaps you can block it into submission with a set of beautiful blockers that you made yourself.


If thinking about it is what counts…

… then I’ve been making this jersey for DH for about three years now.

If buying yarn is what counts, I’ve been making this jersey for DH for a couple of years now.

If pattern surfing is what counts, I’ve been making this jersey for a couple of months now.

But if casting on and actually knitting an item is what counts, then I’ve only been knitting this for a tad over 24 hours.

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And already I am full of complaints.

Well, actually not so much, but my story goes like this. I thought I might knit DH a jersey.  When we were on our annual trek to the Great Aunt’s place, I borrowed a pattern book and on the way home we stopped and bought some yarn for said jersey.  Somewhere along the line I forgot to knit it though. And then the pattern went missing.  Noooothing to do with my messy sewing desk, I am sure. 

So I looked at patterns on Ravelry. If you have ever attempted this for men’s patterns then you might agree with me that there is an abysmal selection. And even worse when you have bought 12 ply yarn. In the end I decided that I quite liked the Woven Bands Pullover from Winter 2008’s Interweave Knits.  Conveniently, I had a copy of said magazine. But when I started looking at the finished projects I saw there was a pattern error or something, and the neckline was problematic. Sigh.

So, back to sitting around thinking about it.

My lovely sister suggested I knit Cobblestone from Interweave Fall ’07 but also available online.  This is a lovely pattern but it is Aran weight, unlike my yarn. And right up until the night before I cast on, I intended to knit this.  Enter another spanner in the works!

You see, the yarn I purchased is a) not listed on Rav b) had no yardage  on the label c) has no suggested needle sizes on the label. Basically, all the clues that I was depending on to help me convert the pattern to a bigger size yarn. Hmph. Still a bit hopeful, I thought I might be able to get hints from Ravelry and found another dead end. Add that to the fact DH would already be in the smallest size and I would have to do all the maths myself (sigh), I decided it would be worth another look at available 12 ply patterns. And found myself back at the Woven Bands Pullover. Thankfully, errata has appeared  – and it’s for the neckline – so I am ever hopeful that this sad story will have a happy ending.

The other part that might add to the happy ending is 12 ply yarn on 6.5mm needles. I’m nearly finished the first sleeve already.

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Yes, you start with the sleeves on this baby! I’m just following the instructions and seeing how it goes – up the sleeve, add stitches on for the front and work across, then onto the back, and finally the last sleeve.  Sounds like an adventure. And, oh the sewing up I will have to do! I’ve been spoiled with my top down knits of late.

Adventures in blocking I

There was a time not all that long ago, that I didn’t block my knitting.  Seems crazy, right?  Well maybe to those of you who are blocking addicts. But I was a knitter right through my teens, and don’t ever recall blocking being part of the garment finishing process. When I was knitting only baby items, again, I didn’t find blocking an important part of the process. However, when I moved into knitting adult garments, I became a wee bit of a blocking fan.

So, what is blocking? This 2002 Knitty article discusses what blocking is and why you use it – a way to shape pieces of knitting, to stretch if stretching is necessary, and to even out stitches for a beautiful finish. 

I knit with wool most the time, and for my large garments I favour wet blocking.  From the Knitty article… “Wet-blocking. Wet the pieces of the garment. If you have heavy cabling, you may want to press out the excess water using towels [NEVER WRING — wool is fragile when wet and you can damage the fabric this way!] Pin them out to the desired dimensions and let them dry, usually over several days.”

When it comes to pinning garments out, I have a small issue – I use a foam playmat. Which, yes, I have to admit does belong to DD1. And she usually decides she *needs* to play with it right after it has a jersey pinned carefully to it. Sigh.

But I digress, what I really wanted to show you was my lovely beret…

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Not cutey cutey, is it? The cables and lace really fails to pop, and the shaping – well, no photos to show you that!

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So, the pattern recommended that you wet block on a dinner plate or – shock – a record. Now, I’m not into super slouchy, so no records for me. Plus, I think DH would be horrified at the thought of his precious vinyl being put to use for knitting. In fact, I think that would be crossing a line he may never forgive me for. So, dinner plate it was. 

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You can see that this really opens out the petals, and the purl sections appear between them for the first time. Ahhh. 

Now, with the simple addition of time to dry- in my case about 36 hours – you will have a wearable beret.

Although, I’ve a confession to make here. I took it off the plate a couple of times to check the fit. The second time it was not quite dry, but clearly too large. So the rest of the drying took place in my dryer to effect some shrinkage.  Not exactly in the manual, but it seemed to work 🙂

On the needles at the moment is the second of my winter sock club socks.  Once it’s off the needles there will be a second lesson in blocking – the unique design feature of the increases at the centre front of the foot has created some interesting shapes that need to be blocked into submission!

Oh, and I also cast on for my next big knit today – a jersey for DH. More on that next time though!

A Rose by any other name

Sorry, couldn’t miss my chance for a Shakespearean reference there, could I? Anyone other than me know which play (and character!) these lines are from without cheating? Yes, Google is cheating people!


In this case, I’d be refering to my new beret, knit to Rose Red by Ysolda Teague. And, the pun comes to life for me a bit because the yarn I used is another rose – Damask Rose Malabrigo Worsted.  My last yarn purchase before my self imposed ban was an order of Malabrigo, and I was gutted to recieve an email from the retailer saying that between me ordering and her packing the order, the last skein of damask rose had been sold. However,  I scored just over a skein (prewound into balls even!) from someone destashing on Ravelry, so that eased the pain. Even if the arrival of the parcel did evoke a “Not more yarn” from my husband when it arrived. 

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I knew that I wanted to knit myself a hat with this gorgeous yarn. I wasn’t sure which hat though. See, the thing is, I’m not much of a hat person. I’m not sure if it comes from having to wear a hideous woolly school hat complete with pompom in my childhood, from having to wear hats to church in childhood, or the fact that a girl with straight hair and a fringe struggles to look good in a hat, however attractive. I’m just not sure. But I am all grown up, fringe grown out, and in need of something to ease the cold at a Saturday morning soccer match. And this isn’t unflattering, it’s just my hat complex that stops me from gushing.

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So, my inital plan was to use something from my stash to knit up a plain beret to see if it suited, but my lovely yarn was calling to me. After some time browsing patterns on Ravelry, I decided upon Rose Red. I enjoyed my last Ysolda knit, and she has some seriously cute beret patterns. I love being able to look up other people’s projects on Rav and see how yarns look knit up in them, and so I decided that even though the pattern called for 8ply, I would likely get away with the worsted weight.

And I did! I love this beret, not sure how much I love hats, but OMG, if you want a stunning pattern, this has got to go on your list. The detail on the pattern is incredible – each row is written out as well as charted, so even though it is a challenging knit, you’d have to be even more of a moron with lace than I am to stuff this up.

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Knit in the round from the centre outwards, you start with a stunning petal pattern, working your way outward to cables. Ysolda is one seriously talented designer – all the increases are incorporated into the petal pattern, and it just flows so easily. If having to watch your pattern constantly is easy anyway!

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I actually think this is my first lace knit that I know is 100% correct -that’s right, I’m not aware of a single error or anything I ‘fudged’ to make my stitch count right – it really was intuitive, on the couple of occasions I had made an error, I was able to quickly see where it was an fix it. Yay me!

Have I gushed enough? I did some serious knitting on this puppy, and am so pleased that I did.  I’ll tell you more about my blocking adventures on this tomorrow, but suffice to say, I am rather pleased with this knit all in all! Even if the self-portrait hat photos are a little serious 🙂

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FO: Miss Milo

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As I was thinking about what to cast on for next, I realised Miss 2.9 hadn’t had anything knit for her in a while. I asked her if she would like a vest like “Bubby’ub’s” and she said yes. We had a look through my stash together, and she chose some raspberry 4 ply. No!  Thank goodness it’s an 8ply knit. Her second choice was some coral/pink Wool Company 8ply, and there was plenty there, so I cast on for her. She asked me how her ‘teddy’ was coming along. Teddy? I said vest!

It was quite fun to get her to look at the pattern and choose which cable pattern she wanted (there is a choice of five). And, thanks to her cheerleading, it was finished last night. I forgot to block it (read – good telly last night, so I sat on my arse and knitted instead… always fun to cast on something new the instant you cast off something old!) and she found it this morning. So the vest has had its first wearing unblocked today.

It met with her approval, and she has enjoyed being able to take it on and off herself. She even took it for a spin on her wheels this morning 🙂

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The cable of choice was the horseshoe cable, which is a simple 6 row repeat.

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Even though this is a size 3, I was still able to knit it in just a couple of days – I am falling more and more in love with this pattern. The perfect gift knit 🙂

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Big sister insisted little sister wear her vest (again) today too.  I’m not one for matchy-matchy children (although they do own some clothes the same), but, hey, why not 🙂  DH thinks Miss 1 looks decidedly corporate in her vest.  Maybe so, but I don’t know any execs with cute love-heart tights and fat cloth bottoms!

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It has been a spectacular day here today, the third day of sunshine after a week of rain, and the girls have been playing so well together. We were meant to go to playgroup this morning, but instead stayed home for Miss 1 to have a morning nap while Miss 2.9 did playdough and dancing. Idyllic.

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And I got some time to knit a few rounds on a beret for me, and made (and unmade) some progress on my first sock club sock.  I’m up to the final few rows of the final chart, and then I just have to knit to my desired length.  I must remember, when there is a chart – follow it!


It seems that there is a Meme doing the rounds of Kiwi bloggers at the moment, and I’ve been tagged by Gabes at SweetPKnits. So, a bit about me… Hey! Don’t get so comfy, readers, I’ve got to tag 8 of you when I’m done 🙂



What is your current obsession?
Me? Obsessed? Oh, okay – it would have to be knitting, obviously, and doing a bit of a stash-down so that once my sock clubs are over, I can see a bit of room in my stash for gorgeous additions.

What is your weirdest obsession?
If you asked my husband, it would be a tie between belonging to forums, and knitting. Of course, the best bit is that you can do both at once – surf and knit!  Silly man just doesn’t understand. That said, he’s been pretty good at letting me go off an meet friends that I’ve met online when we are off around the country 🙂 Even if he does think I’m strange!

What are you wearing today?
My uniform: jeans, long sleeved black merino top, handknit socks (Primaveras). On top today is my organic cotton grey t-shirt with a fern print. Usually it’s a handknit, and I might add one when I go out. Oh, and don’t forget a HotMilk maternity bra!

What’s for dinner?
Hmmm, that’s the question – I’ve got a fortnightly meal-plan thing happening here at the moment, so I’ve got a choice of about 10 things. I think it will be spinach (homegrown) and ricotta canneloni though.

What would you eat for your last meal?
DH is a vegetarian, so mine would have meat… We don’t eat it much at home. Or smoked salmon. Mmmm.

What’s the last thing you bought?
I bought a fancy needle thing for needle felting and the darn thing broke first time out – so I have to go back to the store and return it 😦 Not a satisfying purchase!

What are you listening to right now?
“Upsy Daisy and Iggle Piggle are best friends”…. plus two wee girls, one of whom doesn’t like the choice of TV viewing.

If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go?
Somewhere warm – probably to my sister’s in America 🙂 Would love to catch up and knit with her!

Which language do you want to learn?
Probably French, my DH has rusty schoolboy French, so it’d be nice to practise together.

What do you love most about where you currently live?

 There’s lots to love about my wee city – beautiful parks, a stunning mountain and the sea right on our doorstep, lush west coast bush, heaps to see and do when the mood takes you. Great friends here too – when it all comes down to it, we have no family here, and I suspect friends might be what keeps us here long-term.


What is your favorite colour?
Purple always has been. I’m feeling the green love right now too.

What is your favorite piece of clothing in your own wardrobe?
I don’t think I’ve got a fave right now. I don’t tend to think much about clothes beyond adding knitwear to what I already have. Shameful, eh!

What were you doing ten years ago?
Final year of BA in English and Art History at Canterbury.  Thinking about teacher’s college, and being a single parent to a nearly-two-year-old boy.

Describe your personal style?

If you had $300 now, what would you spend it on?
I can’t answer yarn now, can I? Probably a date night with Dh. Dinner out, maybe a new top to wear on said date.

 What are you going to do after this?
Find and put on my shoes, capture child wearing only top and undies and put her jeans, shoes and socks on, and go out to Mainly Music. Dh wants me to run some jobs too, sigh!

What are your favourite films?
I’ve got a definite soft spot for Nora Ephron’s movies, esp Sleepless in Seattle. Notting Hill – every time it’s on TV I find myself watching it again!
What inspires you?
My beautiful, clever children, sunshine, nature. Seeing other people’s creativity and creations, a good night’s sleep that lets me dream and be creative.

Your favourite books?
I am a huuuuuuge  reader – at least two books a week. I read from modern literature, chick lit and detective ficition. And teen fiction too for work. Each genre has its own faves – Jasper Fforde, Janet Evanovich, Alexander McCallSmith, Amy Tan, the list goes on and on and on. For which I am grateful.

Do you collect anything?
Books 😉 Too much yarn.

What makes you follow a blog?

I enjoy getting to know and see the people behind the blogs, but I also love great pictures, creative FOs, and regular updates.

What was the most enjoyable thing you did today?
Today is only just beginning – although Dh’s father rang at 5.30 (he’s in England and got the time confused a little!) so that was an early start! A snuggly feed in bed with DD2 has to be right up there with making French Toast for breakfast just because I felt like it.

What is your favourite FO and why?

Sorry, the rules said I had to think of one question to add… so thought I

My current fave is my Pioneer, pecause it was the last one finished. I tend to wear and wear a new FO, before it joins in the regular wear cycle. I’m pretty pleased with the way the colours knitted up too 🙂

The rules:1. Respond and rework; answer the questions on your blog, replace one question that you dislike with a question of your invention, add one more question of your own.2. Tag eight other people.

Okay – tagees, Amybel, Tink n’Frog, Neak, Jo, LuntheMum, Casper 


Argh, out of time and only tagged six people… Must go to music now, but if you’d like to be one of my last two tagees, feel free! 

Beautiful, beautiful yarn

A few friends on a forum I belong to have ‘fessed up recently about being addicted to shopping.  Now, I am not guilty of any such thing – I only spend money that I have. But I am guilty of buying yarn that I don’t need right now, and thus my stash is suffering from, erm, slightly overstuffed syndrome.  Much as I try, I can no longer fit it into the allotted two 45 litre bins (and one pretty cane basket in my room to ogle).  Part of the problem is that I stashed up large in January after I signed up for NaKniSweMoDo. Sales we on, I knew what lay ahead, and I took advantage of that. I have at least 6 more sweater sized lots waiting for me to knit up, and this all takes up space. So, I hereby swear not to buy any more yarn until I have finished knitting up my Winter Sock Club yarns.

You see, despite the aforementioned yarn issues, I went ahead and signed up for Vintage Purls Winter Sock Club. Yes, I *know* I haven’t even knit up the last of the summer ones yet. Yes, I *know* I’ve got a number of beautiful skeins of yarn and three books of patterns. But, well, I had the money set aside, and I’m not so good with temptation. 

My first installment arrived late last week…

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I can see now that the placement of the yarn makes the sock pattern hard to see – it’s an interesting ribbed sock with the gusset at the front of the sock (!). I have cast on the first of these and am almost ready to begin gusset increases. But I’m alternating this with another Milo vest, this time for Miss 2.9.

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The colours are an interesting combo of purples, from violet to lavender, and some rusty coloured browns. 

And we got cute goodies too. Love the fabric badges.



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Cute eh!

So, I *will* knit up these, and each of the following two installments before I buy any more yarn. I promise. In fact, I will even do the last of the summer ones before I buy more yarn.

Did I mention that my sister is in America right now with a big bag of yarn to bring home to me? Actually I’ve only bought six skeins, but when I get them it will be like buying yarn all over again, without breaking my buying ban. Clever, eh!

June 2009
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