Thursday, October 31, 2013

Christmas knitting time!

It's the November 1 (already?), which means that it's the time of year to ... *dramatic pause* ... talk about Christmas knitting again! This year I am taking a zero-stress approach and only knitting three things. No additional Christmas knitting stress this year - I'm using knitting to reduce my stress instead!

The first is the Serenity blanket, which is technically not a Christmas gift but a blanket for a baby that's due on the 20th of December. You can't see it very clearly in this picture from the project's pattern page but the original pattern stopped the inner lace section by cutting though the leaves (Source of the photo).

I didn't like that so I continued the pattern so the leaves 'closed'. I really like how it looks now.

I just have to figure out what border I'm going to use now. Any suggestions?

The second gift is a pair of Rainy Day Socks for my stepmother, just like the ones I gave to Sam's grandma last year. I loved knitting them so much and they were so very quick and easy that this choice was a no-brainer.

Finally, and this should come as no surprise, a pair of plain boring huge stockinette socks for Sam. The colour is not quite as garish as it looks here - it's more of a dark burgundy that matches perfectly his old school colours. I know the school colours of his private boys school because still has a pair of boxer shorts that he got while attending there 10+ years ago. It seems strange to me that a) his high school gave out underwear and b) he still owns it, but apparently it's something boys schools do. Boys will be boys, I guess.

Of course while I was deciding what to make this year,
 Lucy was right there offering all the assistance she could.

Thanks Lucy. You're the best.

Here come's the sun (do-do-do-do!)

After what has felt like month and months of greyness (but in actuality was only about 10 days), today the sun burst out from behind the clouds, bathing my bleak winteresque suburb with springtime glory. After taking a few minutes to identify what had actually happened ("What is this beam falling on my arm that both glows and makes me warm? It seems familiar somehow...") Lucy and I dashed outside as fast as our little legs would take us (I'm only five foot tall. My legs aren't as small as hers but not that much bigger!)

At first Lucy was hesitant to lie in the sun...

..then she just couldn't get enough of it! She lay in the courtyard rotating like a rotisserie chicken for about 45 minutes, ensuring that every part of her fur got an equal amount of sun.

You can see my annual spring plantings in the background. From left to right I have basil, seeds of zucchini, seeds of spring onion, a pot filled with all of the seeds I could find, chilli seedlings and coriander seedlings.

In the very unattractive bit of dirt beneath my washing line I planted basil, an old rosemary bush that is on its last legs and may not make it through the weekend and some more coriander. I don't know where the parsley comes from but it pops up every year in that exact spot, verdant and delicious. Parsley fairy, keep up the good work please (any chance of letting the coriander fairy know where I live? It does not flourish in this space.)

Finally I pruned and fertilised a sad-looking chilli from last year and planted some more basil to keep it company.

Last year was okay in terms of return-for-gardening-effort (I still have a few chillies left! They loved the heat) but I have high hopes for this year. Everyone tells me zucchini's a breeze to grow and, if it does thrive, I will be super chuffed.

Is there anything cuter than a kitty who is so exhausted from lying in the sun that she needs to go and lie in a box in the sun to recover? I don't think so!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

It always comes in threes

I have been a bit quiet on this old blog lately. In part it's because the two posts that have been dominating my traffic lately have absolutely nothing to do with knitting, which is a little bit disheartening when one writes a knitting blog, and also because, as the Yarn Harlot says, knitting blankets is pretty darn boring to write about (and read about, I imagine!)

But I did have an eventful weekend. Coming home at 2am on Saturday night, the key snapped off in the lock!  (By the way, that time is much too late for an old person like me to get home! I fell asleep the following night with my glasses and every light in the house on sitting up while holding a book. Sam thought I'd had a heart attack or something because it looked so bizarre)

How does that even happen? Red wine-induced super strength? 

In an attempt to get in through a secondary door a window pane got broken (goddam super strength! Note to self: stop drinking red wine) so for the last three days in what is possibly one of the most bogan actions I have ever taken I have personally brought down the value of the properties in my street by covering a window with a towel.

Sorry, neighbours! It was the red wine's fault. 
(Also, note to self - must clean window sills this weekend. Sorry about that too, neighbours.)

Anyway, after paying too many dollars to various tradies to fix these things, I got into my car to go to the library to pick up the latest Sue Grafton which was on the reserve shelf waiting for me (so excited to read it! Dreading the moment she gets to the letter Z)...and my car was dead! A fuse had blown and broken the immobiliser and so it had to get towed to the local Ford dealer and reset and whatever other magic they need to do to get it started again. I nearly cried when I realised that I was going to have to pay for that also (my iPad fund is now woefully depleted. I was getting so close to having a new beautiful toy :( ) so I did what had to be done to make me feel better...

..made from scratch and then ate a stack of pancakes served with natural yoghurt (for the calcium) and blueberry maple syrup (for the sugar and the antioxidents that conveniently cancel out the harmful effects of the sugar). They were fluffy, delicious and put everything back in context again. Things are just things! Money and iPads are nice but not having it/one is not the end of the world. As long as there are pancakes and pussycats in the world, everything will be okay.

In knitting news: this is what the blanket looks like now.

I have abandoned the written pattern and gone rogue with my own continuation of the centre design. I'm about to attach the second ball and I have my fingers and toes crossed I calculated all of my decreases and increases correctly. If this comes off, it will look fabulous. If it doesn't, there's always more pancakes...

Friday, October 4, 2013

Lace carnage: no Serenity here.

The weather in Melbourne has been cold, grey and windy. I have just spent four days at a wonderful conference that featured women who can actually write 'feminist scholar' or their resume. I would love to be able to do that! I admit I was a little bit starstruck and, in a conversation where a bunch of academics were talking intelligently about their research, my sole contribution was to compliment one of the leading scholars in my field on her earrings...urgh! But other than that it was great and I feel inspired and part of a community that is working to do good within the academy.
However, conferences are hard work and involve long days and lots and lots of thinking. I should have switched to something in stockinette but babies don't wait until their blanket is done so I kept plugging away at it every night after I got home...

..and of course I made a mistake! I missed a whole bunch of increases and dropped a stitch, so I ended up with a patch of plain knitting where there should be lace. I decided to drop the stitches...

.and knit them back up again with the appropriate holes. Unfortunately, the strands of yarn available were too short to add the two extra stitches per row. 

I reasoned that if I dropped down one whole leaf, that might provide the requisite length.

At first it seemed to be working fine.

But it looked so tight in comparison to the surrounding stitches that I knew I couldn't live with it in the finished blanket.

So I ended up with a pile of lace carnage.
While I knew that friends don't let friends knit lace when drink, I extend that to say that friends don't let friends knit lace before, during or after conferences.
This @*^%$ blanket !!!