Wednesday, October 31, 2007

let's talk about S.E.X

thats right, stash. everyone's talking about it, and it seems particularly pertinent given the day of fibre whoredom that was last saturday.

bells and amy have developed the no-guilt stash manifesto, george has adopted it (and lots more will have by the time you read this) and so am i. i even uploaded the button. (how much do we love buttons?!)

the last month or so i have been on a knitting-related spending embargo, imposed from without, because it was leading up to my birthday and all that. yesterday i was informed the embargo was lifted and i pointed out to my sweetness that i had already assumed as much the minute i opened my present from him and got myself up to waratah fibres. i was quite restrained at helens, i must admit, because i am in the market only for sock yarn at the moment. i brought dudiciously, with specific patterns in mind.

now i have a stash basket with yarn enough for at least 8 pairs of socks, and i have at least 10 patterns i want to try over the summer (yeah wish me luck with that one). but still i lust after the koigu. and the lorna's laces. and i will need some sturdy grey to knit some of the gorgeous man socks in 'vintage knits'. the more there is in the basket, the more i want. the more my fingers itch to start casting on multiple sock patterns at once.

and then there is the fact that in 8 weeks time when The Pensky File is all but finished, i get to lift my own self-imposed embargo on spinning, and then there is all that FIBRE to stash.

thankfully, george informs me that its a much cheaper and more efficient method of stash enhancement.

in the meantime, i will not feel guilty for even thinking about S.E.X.

k xx

Monday, October 29, 2007

birthday loot part two

in which our heroine engages in some serious stash enhancement...

saturday october 27 two thousand and seven dawned warm and sunny. our newly thirty nine year old adventurer (i am hoping if i say it often enough it wont sound so scary) woke to freshly ground and brewed coffee and an inviting looking parcel on the coffee table. inside, she found this:

oh yes, the knit pick fairy strikes again! thank you to my lovely pumpkin who arranged this behind my back, and to the many enablers he had in this enterprise.

i played with them for a while, and then i drove up to helen's waratah fibres at bundanoon where i met with some of my old canberra stitch and bitch buddies (and some new ones!). it was sooo great to see everyone again! you can read all about it at spidey's blog. it was great fun, spindling, dying, eating yummy chocolate cake (thanks george!) and being sung happy birthday to. i think i bought some stuff too. oh wait, lets see if its inside my new knitting bag!

this comes courtesy of jo and dave, who found it at a camping store of all places! because i do a lot of knitting outside and on the road, the solid stand up bottom and sturdy sides of this make it perfect, and there are heaps of little pockets for all the other bits one needs.

it is also quite sizable. all of this fit snugly inside - 150g of waratah polworth silk hand dyed:

100g of waratah 3ply hand dyed:

spider sock yarn in 'sugar melon' made to order thank you very much:

and regia cotton socks and lovely old patons pattern, from the wonderful taph:

leaving the still unfinished thuja's alone at the bottom:

i went back to The Can with george, judes and rachel, and met up with trent and we stayed at george's sat night because we had a dog thing (flyball comp) at the dog club in narrabundah on sunday. (it got rained out but our team did really well, go The Phoenix!). george, B and PJ also gave me half a kilo of my favourite coffee beans, colombian fair trade (dark) from hansel and gretel:

and these lovely stitch markers that george made:

the knitting bag also contained more knit picks:

and some yummy nougat, and a new camp towel from the fabulous jo and dave, and after the flyball the club sang me happy birthday again and we ate treasure cake. yummy.

today i am feeling queasy, dehydrated, and brain dead, but it was great fun. i stayed home from work to play with new toys. oh, and to clean the bathroom. right, yes, the bathroom.

thanks everyone for a great birthday! i am a very lucky girl to be surrounded by such lovely people!


ps, this is what the stash basket looks like now:

not quite a stash tower tho, is it george?!

Friday, October 26, 2007

birthday loot part one

i am in my office on campus finishing off my marking, and this mac is in partial adminstrator-lock-down so i cant seem to resize pics so i am getting blogger to do it. my apologies if they show up weird.

instead of marking essays, i am showing off some early birthday loot (39 on saturday. eeck!). the lovely amanda, my latest sock evangelista, gave me this last night at flyball training:

woohoo! i love it. i love that its all about OLD socks, it makes the patterns feel really precious. knitting them will appeal greatly to the historian in me. i love that it has all the info at the front about sock construction and history. i love the sections on technique. i love all the really great mens socks. for my own purposes, i especially love these three designs - "fancy silk sock for a child, 1900":

"childs sock in miranda pattern, 1904":

"evening stockings for a young lady, 1900" (perfect for me, n'est pas?):

of course, making these will require some stash enhancement.

i also got a lovely present on tuesday from my students in nowra:

teaching them was a pleasure enough, this was icing on the cake. the card said some really nice things. as i sit here looking at this pile of politics essays, i have some faith that some dismal first years will become dazzling third years!

cant wait for tomorrow :)

k xx

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

thuja 1 toe ups 0

thuja number one was completed last night while watching supernatural. not quite the x files but just as easy on the eye :)

oh right, the sock....

no, this sock has never been a botched attempt at an ann budd 'on your toes'. what are you talking about?!

it is too small for me, by about an inch around and long, so i am not going to stretch it by putting it on my hoof just to take photos. but finally, i see the need for sock blockers. blocking would flatten this out some and show the cute little bumps in the seed stitch rib. i have not bought any of bell's hubbies yet because i have a handy friend here who can make stuff and he wants to do them, but i need a sock blocker template. anyone know where i can get one of those?!

this is the fastest sock i have ever made (if we dont count the toe up debacle of which we are never speaking again), and, apart from being smaller than what i usually make, i think its because of the rib. having something to do every so often rather than just knit made it interesting and it went a lot quicker.

and again, i am very happy that i didnt need to look up how to do the decreases, although i did consult the yarn harlot for tricks about sizing. i love that book.

off to nowra for my last class there today. they have a quiz and then a teacher evaluation - for the last part i am supplying chocolate. that should help!

k xx

Monday, October 22, 2007

knits with whales

despite advice, i did not take my knitting to the 17 year old's birthday party. i really should have, because i would have gotten a whole sock done. but im also glad i didnt. i already felt old enough. no need to emphasise the point in front of 30 very groovy very gorgeous teenagers. in some ways, these kids are exactly the same as me and my friends at their age, but in other ways they are entirely different. like, from another planet different. as if i need to be made to feel any older, it being my last 30-something birthday this weekend coming. *sigh*

but i did get some knitting done yesterday. we took the dogs for a drive down to minnamurra, here is the thuja sock in the car:

here is the beautiful scenery looking south to kiama and out to sea:

while there we saw whales! there was a big whale and some babies not far off the coast, they looked like humpbacks. the big whale was just hitting the water with a fin, which was as big as the babies that were practising their breaching. it was very cool. i tried to take photos, which was laughable really, but perhaps that little bit of white froth was something?

the thuja sock liked it here anyway:

the thuja sock is looking nearly long enough this morning:

its hard to knit socks for other people - i hope this will be big enough.

its meant to be hot here again today so i am off now to take the dogs for a run up the beach, then to the gym and grocery shopping, then first year politics essays to mark.

happy monday!
k xx

Friday, October 19, 2007


i am on the road to recovery, after my traumatic experience with the ann budd toe-ups. let us never speak of it again.

i rewound the wool and went looking for another pattern. it definitely needs a rib, and something slightly chunkier, so i was happy to find this. progress so far:

the pattern is for men, so i have amended it slightly by going down to 3mm needles, and casting on 48 instead of 44. speaking of which, i know maths is not my strong point, but the pattern says to distribute the stitches evenly on 3 needles, not 4, and that the seed stitch rib is a 4 stitch repeat (k3, p1). i couldnt get that to add up over 44 st on 3 needles! so 48 stitches was easier all round. at first i thought it would be too small so i cast on again a bit looser and now im a ways in i can see the rib has heaps of stretch in it. i really like this as something different to stocking stitch but not so different i have to think about it.

meanwhile i have strung both the berry stripey picot socks with their black velvet. someone called them bordello socks. cant imagine why?!

trent said they looked silly. but he thinks there is such a thing as a feral sock, so, like, whatever!

given he says such horrid things, i dont know why i would ever knit anything for him ever again. but i am thinking about it.

a while ago he saw this jumper in a camping store and i sat there for a while trying to work out how to make a pattern from it while he looked at sleeping bag liners. then i bought a certain knitting magazine a few days ago and found this:

he liked it straight away. now we just have to haggle over the right yarn. im also going to make it a fair bit tighter and maybe in a finer yarn than in the pattern.

i will also need some nice circulars before i even think about it. hint hint. 8 days and counting!!

thanks for your support through the toe up trauma. it meant a lot to know there were others out there who felt my pain!

kms xxx

ps in other news, pensky file is enjoying its new abode, and im off to a bday party for a 17 year old boy this weekend (t's half brother). bells, can i take my knitting to that?!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

tragic update

less than half an hour later and this is all that remains of my first and last toe up sock attempt:

i tried frogging back to where i needed to start the gusset-in-reverse and stitches dropped off everywhere and it was all going pear shaped so i just frogged the whole thing.

i cant believe i just frogged a sock i have spent over a week on.

is this the first SSS disaster?

excuse me while i put my head on my desk here and weep quietly.


toe up tragedy

not happy jan. this toe up short row heel thing and me are just not working out.

what is this, i ask you?

thats right, i dont know.

im sorry georgina m if you are reading but i can not endure the agony of anymore purl or knit three together on such small needles, and than have it all fall off the needle and pick it up all wrong and get all ugly holes. i saw judes' lovely short row heel on her monkey and it looked NOTHING like mine was turning out.

i am many things but a masochist is not one of them.

so im going to frog it again and try this way instead, as many of you so wisely suggested.

this is putting my SSS target back somewhat.

no indeedy, not happy. not happy at all!


ps thanks for all your votes, looks like the black velvet is a winner. i might try and get some that is slightly thinner, it may drape a bit better. i love the idea of them being 'bordello socks', by the way :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

zen socks

arrrgh enough ranting and raving. people are stupid. get used to it kylie.

today i have been practising zen by thinking about socks and socks alone. i went down to nowra to teach my second last class with these guys for this session and i am sad because they are a great class and i will miss them. on the way i stopped in berry and popped into a little yarn store there. debbie bliss, sublime, noro, mission falls. i bought none of it. thats right, if its not sock wool, im not buying. applaud my fortitude please!

i went there with one purpose in mind and that was to acquire trimmings for the finishing of the berry stripey picot socks. i did, and now i cant decide.

pure silk ribbon in 'pansy':

or black velvet?:

i like the effect of the silk but fear it is too little and gets lost among the sock. the black stands out and is striking but my ribbon threading/tying leaves something to be desired and looks a little clunky. i have them here side by side, if you can tell me what you think honestly i would be most grateful:

while looking at (and now wearing) these gorgeous socks, i am reminded of why toe up socks are NOT zen. i frogged the stupid short row heel this morning. it was disgusting:

i like the challenge of this, and i like the 2x2 rib oddly enough, but i just dont think that this way of knitting socks is going to give the proper construction that one gets from the top down. and the whole yarn over thing and p3tog tbl, good god. on 2.25mm dpns? please!! over it.

but, being zen, i will finish them, as they are a gift, and i will finish them with love, and give them in the same vein (she says through gritted teeth).

k xx

Monday, October 15, 2007

ribbing and a rant

my second post in one day. somethings afoot. so to speak.

bad things first.

i am a scorpio. the relevance of this is that i am slow to trust but when i do i do it completely. if however, you piss me off, or 'betray' that trust, then you are off my christmas card list. just like that. its very hard for me to forgive and forget. i am a vengeful creature and tend to hold onto things. there are people in the world at the moment (outside of every politician, war lord or religious zealot) with very negative energies having a direct impact on my peace of mind and i am feeling very CRANKY with the world. a lot of this angst is from long running issues, some of which are beyond my control to sort out. i hate that. some of the sorting out i would like to do involves taking someone behind the wool shed and dealing with things in a less than civilised manner. apparently, however, this is not kocher, and i must suck it up, and 'hand it over'. i'll frigging hand it over alright if a certain red headed so-and-so comes near me!!

this is not helped by the fact that i am stressed to the max re the pensky file. one of my supervisors has decided to take 3 months leave without notice. the other one doesnt answer my emails. i am hoping to submit before christmas. personally, i dont care, i am past the point of needing them and dont want to talk to them anyway. but if i get one hold up on my submission process because someone doesnt read a chapter in time, the proverbial will hit the fan.

on a lighter note on that front, i have packed up the pensky file ready to take it back to the office where it belongs. i feel lighter already, although a little anxious at the thought of being around people every day.

now the good stuff.

today i have been unashamedly playing with my dogs, taking them to the park, doing some washing and ironing, and ribbing my way up the foot of a certain sock. its a present, but i dont know if shes going to be feeling the love - my first attempt at a short row heel is giving me RSI.

the pattern is for 64 stitches but it seems very small, i am hoping the rib has a looooot of stretch in it.

jem thought the ball of wool was something for him to play with and made a grab for it.

saved, just in time.

one other good thing, anger is a very useful way of keeping the black dog at bay.

anger and yarn shopping. someone had better let me near a credit card soon!

k xx

thank god

i am doing my monday morning read of everyone elses blog and i came across the link to the nerd test, so i took it. thank god i am not as big a nerd as i thought i was.

I am nerdier than 44% of all people. Are you a nerd? Click here to find out!

i know someone, however, whos going to score through the roof on this one!

there are different types of nerds however, dont you think? im very nerdy in other ways, that make people look at me strange. just not about computers. or star trek.

happpy monday
k xx

Sunday, October 14, 2007

sock evangelism

for once i am home on the weekend, that is, we have no organised running-around-after-our-dogs-like-soccer-parent type events. we did do some training yesterday, and it was quite amusing because in between runs amanda, jo and i sat under a tree pouring over 25 favourite socks. after our adventures at herding last weekend where we talked sock blocking templates and oohed and aahhed over georginas koigu, amanda has been inspired to take up sock knitting and has already turned the heel on her first patonyle womens sock. with no assistance mind you. hhhmph. i needed someone literally to take my hands and show me what to do!

and now jo, who used to knit very complicated intarsia jumpers in the round, is thinking she could do socks too. of course, shes thinking the latvian ones look like a nice challenge!

so the sock-evangelism is going well in this part of the world.

however, the point of the story is that it is a perfect day for the southern summer of socks, and i have been able to make some progress on the toe ups:

this is a nice pattern with the rib front and plain sole, and because of the ribbing i am not getting bad ladders on the joins. the first stitch on the rib is a purl, and sometimes this leaves a bit of a gap between needles so every so often i just pick up the gap and purl it together with the first stitch and this is tightening it up.

this weekend at home also means we have an extremely clean house and now i have to go outside and help do something to the car.

also, i have made a decision in relation to the pensky file. i have been working from home because its easy and comfortable but i am getting too distracted and running out of time. i have an office on campus and i am going to pack it all up and take it in there where this is no crap day time tv, no dogs to play with, no washing to do and no other reason to procrastinate.

i am not yet sure if this is a good or bad idea!

have a good rest of weekend.

k xx

ps jo bought down some heuheutenango coffee from guatemala, check out the coffee blog for a 'review' of this amazing coffee!!

Friday, October 12, 2007

rising to the challenge

i need to go into town to craplight to get some ribbon for the stripey eyelet socks but am teaching today, so instead i started my new, not-listed, SSS challenge, which was the challenge from george to try toe-up socks. last night i gathered my materials, after an hour spent hand winding that skein into a ball:

and tried the eastern cast on as demonstrated in interweave knits mag, but could not, for the life of me, figure it out. loops just kept sliding off everywhere refusing to become stitches. i scoured the internet-thingy for help and found some good stuff, if you also wanted to do toe ups on two circs or using magic loop at the same time, or even 4 DPNs but this was all too hard, i just wanted a cast on that would get me three DPNs with stitches like in the ann budd pattern.

eventually i found this, and away i went - a few trial and errors but then something started to happen:

at one point i managed to go backwards in the round, so there is a line of purl stitches at one spot in the sole, but there is no freaking way i am frogging these, so i carried on, and lo and behold, it looks like a toe....

it is a toe! this is very cool. it is very fiddly to work on dpns with only 4 stitches and i thought i might lose another knitpick there for a minute, but now its moving along nicely. there is a little bump there on one side of the toe, but i can sew that in, and at first my increases were making holes but then i remembered to knit through the back of the lifted loop and they're gone. i can see why you would make socks like this, it involves a bit of improvising i am usually not comfortable with but im trying to be more zen about my sock making and letting it take me somewhere new.

now i just have the whole short row heel thing to work out. and how great is this colourway knitting up!

a happily sock-challenged
k xx

Thursday, October 11, 2007

sneak peek

yes the berry stripey spider socks are finished but i cant show you more till i get the ribbon (black velvet?) to thread through the picot eyelet edge.

is there anything nicer than the feel of fresh knitted socks? beautiful yarn spidey, thanks!

k xx

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

pigs ears, colour coding and sock patterns

it is early morning on the east coast of australia and i just tried to take the dogs for a run on the beach only to find it is covered with bluebottles. i dont mean a few, i mean a carpet. as we came round the point i thought oh, lots of shells on the beach this morning. only to discover they were little blue jelly nasties. jem has a habit of rolling in things so i took them straight home again. unpleasant. i assume this is because of the nor-easters from the storms they are having up north.

so, i will have to take them to the park instead this arvo, and here they are at home with their compensatory dried pigs ears.

they are not happy because i am making them wait. good puppies.

the other day i mentioned colour coding the pensky file. here it is:

i am working on a chapter that is purely primary source driven, that is, a collation of all the material i could find in the archives etc about the group of people im writing about. i did this part of my research more than three years ago and because i did not have my theory worked out then, i was not sure what parts of it would be relevant. so when i sat down to write i realised i had no idea what i had to write about. so, now that i have my 'categories of analysis' sorted out, i have to go back and re-read it and tag everything with a colour post-it note depending on which category it refers to. this is time consuming and labourious but at least it is re-familiarising myself with my sources. the writing should be relatively simple now.

and who said i wasnt pensky material?!

meanwhile, i have made some decisions about what wool for what sock pattern. i am going to heed everyones advice about using solid yarns with lace, and have talked to the german fibre whore about supplying some, and i am waiting to see what the birthday (note: 27th) throws up before ordering any koigu/lornas laces for the waving lace and embossed leaves patterns. in the meantime i am going to go ahead with the anne budd toe ups in the desert 5 ply, and also make jaywalkers out of this opal (a possible gift if i get them done in time) and this bamboo. this cotton remains temporarily pattern-less, although i am thinking it could cope with the pattern it is sitting on top of in that picture.

and, just because i was skiting the other day about how easy stocking stitch socks are now, and how ive figured out how to do it without a pattern, the knitting fairy decided that i would not be able to correctly measure 16 cms. can you see what im talking about:


they are going to be inside boots or under pants so it doesnt really matter but i do wonder where my head's at some days.

oh thats right, in the pensky file!

k xx

Monday, October 08, 2007

a very socky weekend

the weekend just gone was spent hanging out in camp chairs and trying to not chase sheep around a paddock at michelago. possum and i followed up on some things i learnt from the trial last weekend, including me learning how to draft sheep that didnt involve chopping their heads off. some more practice still required! but we worked very nicely out in the open paddock, no running around like mad things anymore, fine tuning, moving by inches. starting to feel very nice! and it was great to see some friends go round in great style as well - especially fun was watching scott get bitten by the herding bug, and jo finally working kobe 'so well it was boring' (quote, robert cox).

but dont let this preamble fool you. there was so much socky goodness you'd be forgiven for thinking we were there for no other reason.

firstly, some significant progress was made on berry stripey number two and we are now finishing off gusset decreases and heading down the foot:

you know how i have been whinging about being bored with stocking stitch socks, well i take this back a little. firstly, stripey socks are my favourite. there is something soooo magic about self-striping wool. fellow herders had their minds blown when i explained to them how the self-striping works. (you will be pleased to note spidey that people think that hand died self striping sock wool is nothing short of miraculous). secondly, this is the first sock where the aspects of sock construction finally clicked with me. because i always up the stitch count a little for my wide foot, i sometimes struggle with the heel turning, but this time, with some mathematical help, i figured out where i needed to turn for my particular heel. then i did the decreases without having to write down each row, each needle. i know now where a K2TOG is required, and where a SKPO. this felt good.

i am thinking that striped picot edge socks with a ribbon may become my signature item.

anyway, thats not all. scott is a bit of a dab hand at making things, so george (not the george you all know from the blogosphere but another georgina who we herd with, who lives in canberra, and is a spinner/knitter, now a maker of socks extraordinaire) and i talked to scott about sock blockers, what sort of material one might use, different sizing etc. he says if we get him a template he will make them for us. george already has a template, so i may yet become a blocker of socks.

then, something truly amazing happened. george lent me this!:

yes people, the number one sock book on my wish list. obviously, its for loan only. obviously, it needs to be studied much more closely, but these are the patterns that most grab me so far (pictured here with stash wool that could be used for each pattern, although i am not sure about stripey wool with lace, in which case, i am going to need to do some stash enhancement):

anyone got any ideas/advice about lace and solid vs variegated/stripey wool?

george showed me some of her impressive collection of socks, including some awesome jaywalkers (i am going to go ahead and make those with that opal) and her socks in progress which are in koigu. i held koigu in my hand. what an amazing yarn it is. i must have some.

george also set me another challenge. she is trying to figure out how to do toe-up socks. the more i think about it, the more useful a technique this would be. it isnt in my list of SSS personal challenges, but it is now, because george said i have to try them and then help her. interestingly, the pattern she wants to use actually looks like the perfect pattern for the desert variegated that i need to make into a present very quickly:

so several birds will get killed with this stone, despite my near pathological hatred of rib (thank you, amy swenson, and your gorgeous lift and separate wrap with the endless single rib ties and edging). i will suck it up for the cause.

well, i have a lot to be getting on with today, shopping, washing, colour-coding for the pensky file (dont ask).

till next time,

k xx