Thursday, 27 December 2012

Nana's Toasty Tootsies

I've had to go under the radar the last few months, since I've been making Christmas gifts.

Now that the gifts are safely in the hands of their intended recipients, I can safely post them here without worrying that someone will accidentally come across them.

This year Nana Munro got some toasty warm stocking stitch socks, since I can't think of a better way to say "I love you Nana" than knitting her a pair of socks.

Nana Munro spent a few weeks in hospital earlier this year, and I used the opportunity to sneakily measure her feet when a Nurse had to check the state of her lower legs and toes.

Diabetes and high blood pressure causing complications of a lung infection is NOT a fun way to get some enforced time in bed!

Armed with her measurements I found some 4ply merino (John Q's Jewel series) in "her" shade of green and worked the toes and heel-flaps in some of the Opal left over from my ankle socks to make sure they were sturdy.

Before washing/blocking:

Since I have a cold and the rest home has a "No Visiting if Sick" policy in force at the moment, we had to do  a long-distance gift handover via a staffmember so I don't know what Nana's reaction to her socks was.

It was great to see her back on her feet and moving around, but terrifying thinking that I could accidentally land her in hospital again if I gave in to her badgering me for a hug.

The staffpeople are angels for helping me get through the situation without upsetting her with my refusal to come closer than the other side of the foyer and hug her.

When I'm better I will have to go give her a hug and find out what she thought of the socks.

Since the Jewel yarn isn't a "proper" sock yarn I'm going to dare her to wear them out so I can make her another pair ^.^

Have a safe and happy New Year!


Friday, 23 November 2012

It's So Fluffy I'm Gonna DIIIIEEEE! (Or: Why I Hate Feather Yarn)

This is the first thing I made from all the lovely yarn sent to me by my amazing mate in South Africa.

It's also the first time I've ever tried to knit using a novelty/fashion yarn.

It may be the LAST time I ever do that! It was an interesting experience, but not one I'd like to repeat any time soon. There is a darn good reason for the unofficial Knitting Squad motto of "Friends don't let friends knit novelty yarns"

But it's soooo fluffy and colourful and warm I may end up using it again a lot sooner than I want to right now.

See? SEE??

If you want to make one of these, grab four 50gram balls of feather yarn (I used the Pixels yarn that was sent to me) and some 6mm needles. (That links to a needle size conversion chart for you UK and USA knitters)

Cast on 15 stitches and knit until you run out of yarn.

Cast off and weave in all your ends.

This comes out very long. If you'd like a shorter scarf, knit until you reach your desired length and then cast off.

Be careful not to drop a stitch. BE VERY CAREFUL. I'm serious. After you get a few inches into your scarf, stop and have a look at the way this particular kind of yarn forms a fabric, and then imagine trying to find a dropped stitch in it.

I don't know about you, but the one I dropped had completely disappeared from the universe. I swear it's in a black hole somewhere hanging out with all my odd socks, missing D20s and a ton of spare change.

So: Cue the Knitting Rage Face and ripping the whole thing back to the start.

At least the scarf wasn't very big at that point. . .

Oh yeah, feather yarn is very slippery and your knots like to come undone as soon as you take your eyes off them. So if you're like me and you tie in your new yarn and leave long ends to weave in (Yeah yeah, I'm still a n00b) I would suggest leaving long tails, tying them in very secure knots and weaving in quite a lot of that tail so it doesn't work it's way out in a hurry.

Because of the way it's made this stuff does NOT like to felt in nicely like your bog-standard yarns do. Once the scarf starts to unravel you may as well rip it up and re-knit it, since it's nearly impossible to fix. SO TIE THOSE KNOTS SECURELY, KNITTERS!

With that said, I'm going to dive back into the box of yarn and see what else is demanding it be turned into something.

Happy crafting!


Tuesday, 13 November 2012

In This Hat I'm Not Afraid of Anything.

I am deeply indebted to the dedicated Browncoat Keiyla for her amazing pattern for a Cunning Hat.

The Message was my favourite episode, and I was very excited to be able to make myself a hat just like the one Jayne's Mum sent him at the start of the episode.

This hat RIGHT HERE:

Of course, mine has significantly less straw stuck to it:

From the thickness of the yarn required and the ratio of colours between the hat and the pompom I suspect Ma Cobb spun the yarn herself or bought it from a neighbour.

It's blasted hard to find thick enough yarn for this pattern, so I double-stranded some of Ashford's Tekapo 8ply and the test swatch came out just right. I used shades '052' for the orange, '065' for the yellow and '008' for the red.

Pretty darn cunning, don't you think?

Have a wonderful crafternoon!


Saturday, 3 November 2012

Amazing Shiny Box of Goodies!

I have an AMAZING friend in South Africa who sent me a big box stuffed to the brim with yarn and goodies for both myself AND Dralion!

Ermagherd, I'm feeling so incredibly spoiled right now.

SO MUCH YARN! SO MANY PRETTY COLOURS! *Dies* There are little sample-sized nailpolishes perfect for experimenting with, a book showing how damn pretty South Africa is, some goodies she knitted herself, amazing hand cream to keep my paws from becoming cracked and nasty and a delicious Pashmina in Otago colours. *Squeals and dies again*

See how pretty South Africa is?? SEE?!??

I could stare at those colours for hours, and those cliffs are the perfect inspiration for some scenery in this year's NaNoWriMo effort.

Dralion got a special pressie all wrapped up with a little card and everything! Spoiled kitty is spoiled.

We had lots of fun trying to get it open! Cats don't seem to understand tug-of-war very well. It must be undignified or something. Seriously though, who needs dignity when you have MOUSIES?

Trying to find more mousies.


Much sniffing and investigation of the box was carried out. (Yes that is a basket of cat toys in the background. Yes they're all hers)

Including objects for the purpose of cat-distraction is a genius idea. An idea I'll definitely be stealing. Jeanne is a GENIUS.

I could always shut Dralion out of the lounge when I'm trying to wind yarn, but since when have I ever done things the easy way?


Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The Starshine Cowl

I have a friend in the UK whom I would totally adopt as a sister is I could.

Since I can't, I like to randomly send her things.

Autumn and winter are not her favourite seasons, so I wanted to make something to bring some colour into the greyness and make this year a little brighter for her.

I took the first two skeins I made on a spinning wheel, and came up with a cowl pattern which would hopefully be bright AND warm.

These are the yarns I used. I'm still such a n00b when it comes to spinning so they're not the most even bits of string in the world but they definitely meet the requirements of bright and colourful.

Grabbing a big circular needle, I cast on and began to do a large moss-stitch pattern. This provided a bit of visual interest and shows off the colours in the yarn without driving me insane from boredom the way a plain garter or stocking stitch cowl would have done ^.^;

I did one repeat of the green/yellow yarn on the outside of two repeats of the purple/blue one, and this is what it came out like:

Hopefully it does the trick in staving off the Winter Greys for a wee while.

Keep calm and cast on!


Thursday, 20 September 2012

A Ballsack for my Boyfriend.

Last year I decided to make my Partner a sneaky Christmas gift - He knew I was knitting him something but he had no idea what it was.

I'm horrible at doing the whole "keeping secret gifts secret" thing. I get all excited about the project and want to talk about it all the time >.<

My partner is a qualified Sparky who has a mild obsession with juggling and also works as a clown and juggler/stiltwalker. (Yes, I'm dating a party clown.) I'd already gotten some of Opal's "Electrician" sock yarn for him, planning to somehow measure his feet without him knowing and make him some socks for Christmas.

How on EARTH do you measure someone's feet without them knowing? Ply them with strong drink or chloroform?

. . . Yeah, no. Not going there!

About the middle of last year he was complaining about not having anywhere on his costumes to easily stash his juggling balls, and he also had an accident where his best contact-juggling ball fell out of his pocket and cracked when it hit the ground. About the time he was most vociferous I had this book out of the library:

Inside this book there is a pattern for an item called a "belt purse", a long tube-shaped bag that has a slit opening near the top and also a loop to enable you to conveniently hang it from your belt.

The gauge for this belt purse meant it could be knitted up with the Electrician-coloured yarn, which is a very bright and clown-like colourway. (If you stretched your imagination to a clown who happened to like grey, blue and fluro yellow)

BINGO! Christmas gift idea required.

That pattern as written in the book was a little too small for juggling balls, so I checked the dimensions of the finished bag against the diameter of his favourite set of juggling balls and discovered that all I needed to do was double the pattern in every direction.

My problem was that all the patterns are in a really really fine gauge, since the most commonly used knitting needles in the Andes (according to this book) are made from the spokes of bicycle wheels.

That blew my mind.

I'm not a fan of tiny needles and lots of stitches. When I saw the final count of rows I'd need I nearly cried! Thank goodness for Opal's colourways and their shorter sections of colours that stopped me from dying of boredom.

The bag is made in one piece and knit in the round. The only sewing I had to do was to reinforce the edge of the hole and to attach a tassel to the bottom of the bag.

Ta-dah! I gave you the finished Juggling Ball Bag!

Mig's Ballsack, Juggling ball bag for Mig, knitted in Opal's "Electrician" sock yarn. Pattern adapted from the 'Belt Purse' in "Andean Folk Knits"

The loop at the top. You cast on and knit a strip, then pick up along the cast-on edge and begin knitting in the round to create the loop.
Mig's Ballsack: The Loop, Detail of the Juggling Ball Bag, closeup of the top loop and increases

The final decreases and tassel.
Mig's Ballsack: The Tassel, Detail of the juggling ball bag, closeup of final decreases and tassel

My inept reinforcing of the hole. (I'm not a terribly good hand-sewer.)
Mig's Ballsack: The Opening, Detail of the juggling ball bag, closeup of the opening and reinforcing stitching

That's it from me for today. Have a great weekend and happy crafting everyone!


Friday, 7 September 2012

Oooh Baby, Baby!

Right now I am really sick of knitting baby stuff.

Each year my workplace raises money (and knits baby stuff) for the NICU at Dunedin Hospital, so two months or so a year are dedicated to making teeny-tiny preemie-sized hats and booties.

I don't mind doing them. They're adorable and easy and a really fast knit, so you feel like you're achieving a lot in a short space of time. (Even though weaving in all those ends quickly becomes a right pain in the behind!)

However this seems to be the point in life when ALL my friends and family have started having babies.

Cue expectations of gorgeous handknitted baby gear.

Since I'm both practical and lazy, I refuse to make baby gear from yarns that are difficult to wash and care for. Why make a garment that a tired, stressed new Mum can't just biff in the washing machine when it inevitably gets dribbled/puked/spilled on? Fussy high-maintenance premium yarns may seem like a nice idea at first, but very few new Mums -or even experienced Mums- have time to carefully hand-wash selected items of clothing every other day.

My knitting time is also rather limited at present. I don't want to put weeks of my scarce knitting time into a gorgeous little jacket that will be outgrown in a few weeks. (Because tiny humans don't stay tiny for long!) I'd rather put that time into a pretty blanket that they'll be able to use in various ways for at least a year.

Who says a cot blanket can't become a pram blanket, toy blanket, winter-leg-warmer or long-car-trip blanket?

After all that grousing, here is a small selection of the baby gear I've made over the last year. The hats are preemie sized and the booties are a standard newborn-6months size. I've mainly used Magic Garden Classic Prints, because they have a gorgeous line of pure merino in positively edible colourways.

Lots of pinks, because I now have a lot more adorable little nieces.

I hope you have a wonderful crafternoon!


Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Did I Just Break Physics?

Dad is one of those people who are difficult to knit for.

Aren't most guys?

He's fairly easy to buy for, but I honestly haven't had much time to go poke around in the shops thanks to extra shifts at work.

Thankfully Cat Bordhi came to my rescue, with her wonderful Moebius cast-on tutorial:

Dad is obsessed with motorbikes, his beloved Harley Dyna has pride of place in the garage. Colours were most definitely NOT an issue: H-D Brand colours of Black and Orange in Ashford's Tekapo 8ply. Very warm and very thick for maximum wind-breakage if he ever deigns to wear it on the bike.

Oh yes, I punned that!

Due to time constraints the scarf came out a bit on the narrow side, but that's not much of a problem since it's supposed to loop around the neck twice.

What I like about Moebii is that you don't have to worry about them blowing away if an end comes untucked or the problem of doing head-checks with a ton of bulky fabric jammed just inside the neck of your jacket.

I'm quite ridiculously proud of myself, even though knitting it felt like I was somehow breaking physics. It is darn weird to knit an object whose shape you can't hold in your head.

The usual colourwork problem of having to designate a "Right side" and "Wrong side" for your work was completely eliminated by this type of object only having ONE side. Trying to work out how you would go about giving it a right side ad a wrong side to look all neat and pretty nearly made my head explode.

My brain is obviously made for strictly Euclidean physics -.-;

Happy knitting!


Saturday, 25 August 2012

Colossal Sook

Yeah, I know we've just had a really mild winter and Spring officially starts in less than a week, but. . .


So I made a cover for my hot water bottle.

If I can't grasp it directly in my icy cold hands then I'll be able to resist the temptation to warm the hands too quickly and risk a late-season crop of chilblains.

(I hope!)

Here it is, just finished and sitting on my messy couch waiting for the jug to boil. Dralion was trying to steal the camera. Little brat!

Simple garter stitch in an unidentified 8ply acrylic from the NEV Knitting Squad Yarn Bank (I deposited bright 8ply for people to make Christmas Angels out of so I felt less guilty at appropriating this yarn when I really need to stashbust). It's a little big, which is all to the good because it's very snuggly and if I accidentally shrink it somehow then it'll be a perfect fit!

Happy crafting!


Friday, 10 August 2012

Adventure in Bad Planning

This week I have been attempting to make birthday gifts.

Key word: Attempting.

So far they've all been an utter bust.

The first failed gift was a hot water bottle cover for a nephew who has recently moved back to a Dunedin winter after a year in the sunny North Island. I've never really bothered with gauge swatches before, but since I was working with an unfamiliar pattern and some unidentifiable acrylic from my stash. I figured that I had better try swatching it up to make sure I had the right gauge.

Five changes in needle size later and it's still too big! Laurie got a bag of shiny new colouring gear and assorted  stationary for his first week at school, while the hot water bottle cover remains unfinished and in dire need of girth reduction.


Gift two is intended for Dad's birthday next Wednesday. I figured a nice, quick garter-stitch Möbius/Moebius scarf would appeal to a fifty-something sometimes-nerd.

What nerd WOULDN'T want a monosurface knitted object for their birthday??

But. . .  I screwed up again.

I didn't check the length of circular needle required to knit a Moebius before going to get the yarn.


I already have a circular needle of the appropriate diameter for the yarn, but it's less than half the length required to properly knit a Moebius. I could probably use it if I could break the laws of physics, but alas I'm not that awesome.

As I work weekends, I'm going to be unable to get into Knitworld to purchase a long enough needle before Monday, which would give me about a day total of knitting time to it finished around work.

A Klein Bottle hat would also be awesome, but I'd prefer to make something that there is a chance of him actually wearing.

Time to prepare for a marathon knit of non-Euclidean garter-stitch madness.

Good luck for all your gift-intended projects!


Monday, 6 August 2012

Where Did The Time Go?

Wow, it's August already?

And I've been neglecting this blog since WHEN?

Oh my.

Time to make a 2/3rds Year Resolution (New Year's Resolutions are so 1999) to breathe some life back into this poor blog.

Be warned, it'll probably only start staggering around and groaning "Braaaaainsss", but it's better than nothing, right?

I wasn't wasting the time spent absent by not crafting. As soon as the winter's crop of chilblains cleared up enough I finished Mum's Birthday Socks.

Opal's "Fisherman" colourway and the Sunday Swing pattern from Knitty. Have a horrible inside-light photo:

No I didn't block them. I don't know how!

I adore Opal's sock yarns and this colourway is absolutely delightful. It reminds me of a fishing trip out to the Mackenzie Country with Grandpa where we caught ONE salmon in the entire week of sitting beside lakes and canals. Oi!

I'm still a very slow sock knitter, so these were about 1.5 months late ^.^;

All the best gifts are a little late, right?


Friday, 22 June 2012

Oh Bother

Due to my Landlord not maintaining the property terribly well water got into my ADSL line and I lost Internet connection for a week or so.

This gave me plenty of time to get acquainted with the spinning wheel I borrowed from Vivian.

I discovered that while the bobbins for my wheel (Which needs a part made for it so it will work!) fit on Vivian's, they're a shade too small and make an absolutely appalling noise that drive the cat from the house and darn near drove me up the wall!

 It takes a surprisingly short time to fill a bobbin when you're watching Pirate movies! A good swordfight always gets the blood - and your foot - pumping.

In order to get more than a total of one single made, I was forced to stop every time the bobbin was full and wind the single off into a centre-pull ball before I could continue. Centre-pull balls are a great way to store your singles if you intent to ply them at a later date. Just make sure you keep tabs on where the end in the middle went, I didn't and made a right mess of it before giving up and using the one from the outside.

Yay, knots.


Note that it is probably wise to shut the cat out of the room where you're spinning if you think there is even the slightest chance you'll be chasing balls of yarn across the floor.

Cats+Yarn=Tangles. Lots and lots of tangles.

Happy spinning!


Thursday, 7 June 2012

Such a Winter's Day!

Brrr, the cold has set in with a vengeance!

I'm freezing my fingers and toes off, and recent snow falls actually settled on the Peninsula.

Sounds like the perfect time to learn lacework, right?

(Hey, I never claimed to be logical!)

The wonderful Vivian at Knitting Squad taught a mini-workshop on Wednesday where we made little lacy Christmas angels, to teach the basics of knitted lacework to those who wanted to learn.


Recognise the yarn? XD I'm so ridiculously proud of this little pink-punk angel, Dralion loves her too. Or maybe it's the bell she's holding? With cats it's anybody's guess!

Next week we will be doing the bigger pattern, and I can't wait. I want to be able to follow a lace chart on my own so I can turn this wonderful yarn I found in Oamaru into a lovely lacy wrap for going to my partner's formal-type functions. (He seems to have a lot of things like that)

This is the yarn, a laceweight Kid Mohair&Merino made by Touch Yarns:

It looks and feels AMAZING! I'm so incredibly excited about this project that the provisional cast-on it requires (a technique which intimidates the stuffing out of me) seems like nothing more than a speed-bump.

Also: The skein was approximately 900m and I wound it by hand instead of resorting to my ball-winder. I definitely appreciate those time-saving gizmos a lot more now!

Happy crafting!


Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Punk Camo?

It seems that earflap hats -complete with pompom- are the accessory du jour for completing your Birthday BBQ look in chilly Dunedin flats.

At least, that's what Bean implied when I asked her what gift she wanted to celebrate her natal day.

My photo-taking wasn't up to much by that point, so I humbly apologise to Bean for not capturing her properly in all her moustachioed glory ^.^;

The yarn is a nice, bright acrylic DK yarn I acquired somewhere that will dry very quickly in our short, frigid winter days while still keeping her head warm. (It also happened to contain most of her favourite colours at the time)

The earflaps were knit first and held on spare needles before constructing the main body of the hat to avoid fiddly sewing-up and big seam marks along the top of the earflaps. While this does mean a lot more ends to weave in, I do like the seamless bucket-look of the finished hat.

I added a crocheted an edging around the hat before adding on the earflap ties. The first attempt was done in the same yarn as the rest of the hat, but I didn't like it so RRRRRIP! out it went. What you see in the photo is a lighter pink 4ply that almost matched the lighter parts of the colourway of the acrylic.

Many students at Otago University joke about opening the fridge door during winter and using it to heat the room. Hopefully this birthday gift should keep her a little warmer than her flatmates ;)

We certainly won't be losing her in a crowd any time soon!

Happy crafting!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Socked Out

Let me show you what I've managed to achieve over the last few weeks.

I MADE SOCKS! (Well, one-and-a-half socks ^.^;)


Aren't they pretty? I'm positively exploding with glee over these stripes. That's how Opal's "Florist" yarn, knits up for me. I'm already slobbering over their new Graffiti-inspired line of colourways. 

I'm controlling myself, barely.

Speaking of self-control, I cast on the second one as soon as I finished bashing at the Kitchener Stitch on the first! I feel like such a good girl for doing so, but we all know that it's only a matter of time before Second Sock Syndrome strikes me down. Not this pair, maybe not the next, but one day it will. Self control acts like a finite resource, after all.

Since they're my very first ever pair of socks, I'm feeling extremely proud of myself even though they're not exactly the fanciest footwarming devices on earth. They are destined to be gym socks, so I hope Opal lives up to it's reputation at the NEV Knitting Squad for "wearing like iron"

Time will tell, right? Right now it's time for me to have at that second heel!

Happy crafting!

~Topaz, tangled in sock yarn.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Me Brudder!

One of my brothers got jealous of Mum's hat, and asked for one for Christmas.

After seeing the second and thrid incarnations of her hat, he asked for the typical Kiwi Conservative Black Beanie.

The things we do for our family ;)

A black beanie. Are you kidding me? Talk about a snoozefest! Where is the colourway, the earflaps, the pompoms and tassels, the interest to keep me going after the initial excitement of starting a project wears off and I'm tempted by the siren song of something new and exciting?

It was probably the thought of him growing his dreadlocks back to keep his head warm!

I got my hands on some lovely black Possum/Merino from the Milton Wool Mill Factory Shop, found a "Manly" ribbed beanie pattern on Ravelry and cast on. Unfortunately I didn't bookmark the pattern, so I can't link you to it D:

Anyway, when I finished his hat looked like this:

Conner's Hat, Black possum-merino in a slightly munted rib

There are one or two "design elements" or "special features" due to being distracted while making it. But my brother is awesome and didn't mind, since it came out pretty much how he wanted.

Read: A black, warm and manly hat for a young bloke who paves the roads.

When embarking on this project I wasn't prepared for just how soft possum/merino blends can be. On reflection this probably wasn't a terribly good yarn choice for this brother of mine. Like me, he tends to thoroughly abuse his clothing. If it isn't made to last it will disintegrate pretty quickly. The had was made in time for New Years and had holes by the end of January.

So, about a month of hat-life? Yikes!

Next time I'll have to use a sturdier yarn for the hat body and line with with the good stuff, or find someone willing to make a yarn reinforced with titanium.

A quest for a brother-proof hat?


Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty.

Winter is fast approaching down here, and like a good girl I've started this winter's hat and scarf projects already.

Well, not precisely "good", I'm ignoring my tottering pile of Works In Progress/Unfinished Objects to cast on yet MORE projects ^.^;

Moving right along!

As anyone with a cat knows, knitting when the cat is around can be somewhat perilous to both you and your ball of yarn. There are several ingenious inventions and little tricks that can help you keep your furbaby from wrecking your yarn, but frankly I'm too lazy/poor for most of them.

These include, but are not limited to:
1) Pulling the working end of your yarn from the centre of the ball. (Too lazy!)
2) Using a Yarn Bowl. (Too poor!)
3) Using a knitting bag. (Too lazy!)
4) Shutting the cat out of the room where you're knitting. (Too lazy!)

What I decided to do was make Dralion (My Beloved Feline Overlord) her VERY OWN woolly toy. That way she can play with hers and leave mine alone! A few meters of DK acrylic and one tennis ball later, her SHINY NEW TOY! was ready to go.

I think it worked, after a few weeks of non-stop yarn-ball-rumpus she suddenly got sick of it and went back to stealing any and all bits of paper she finds lying around.

At least my yarn is safe!



Happy crafting!


Wednesday, 21 March 2012

You Spin Me Right Round

Every year in the month of December, the local Wood Turning Guild takes over the Community Gallery with a massive Expo and Sale on behalf of it's members.

I absolutely love going there to see all the wonderful things, smell the woods they used and very occasionally, if I'm feeling rich, pick up a pretty for myself.

Last year I went in with a mission: Upgrade from a Spud Stick to an actual, honest-to-goodness spindle.

What can I say? I'm a sucker for a pretty piece of wood!

I wasn't terribly hopeful to begin with, and my fears were confirmed after my initial browse. Lots of lovely bowls and candlesticks, the inevitable salad spoons, chopping boards and children's toys, but no spindles.

As a child I was painfully shy. I have attempted to grow out of it, but initiating social contact is still more than a little difficult for me. Screwing up my courage, taking my metaphorical balls in both hands so to speak, I approached the people chatting behind the register and asked if they might know someone who would possibly be interested in making a drop-spindle for me.

Blank looks.

Nobody knew what I was talking about.

However one old bloke was nice enough to give me a pen and a piece of paper. I drew a vague picture of what I wanted, affixed ma name and cellphone number and wandered off to work.

Two weeks later, on New Year's Eve, I got the best voicemail EVER!

A wonderful man had made me my spindle, and wanted to know if I could please come and collect it?

This is what the wonderful guy made. He has been turning wood since the 1940s, well longer than I have been alive and kicking, but had never made a spindle before! The Internet had not turned up any helpful references for him, so to the trusty local library he went for reference material to create this wonderful top-whorl drop spindle for me:


He made it from beautiful native Kauri wood and it smells AH-MAY-ZING! I can't wait to see how the colour changes when the wood absorbs lanolin from the wool fibers.

Happy crafting!


Sunday, 26 February 2012

The "Long Thing"

I have a ongoing project that was inspired by a friend of mine.

She is taking all the random bits and bobs of yarn from her stash and knitting them into a "Big Thing".

And when she says "Big" she means it!

Her tag-end-eating monstrosity was well over 200 stitches per row the last time she was brave enough to attempt a count. Each row is so long that it takes multiple sittings to complete, and sometimes the old yarn runs out and new has to be brought in at least twice midway.

I wasn't quite brave enough to attempt something of that magnitude, but I did need something to up all my tag-ends of yarn on since I'm too lazy to turn them all into Magic Balls. The situation in my stash was getting a little desperate, with an entire shoebox full of bits and pieces far too short for a project of their own, but too long to be shredded for stuffing.

From this crisis, the Long Thing was born.

I took a pair of knitting needles that I inherited from my Grandpa, some shorter bits left from one of his post-clip-dog-vest projects, and cast on.

The Long Thing has accidentally become a kind of history of projects and people. A few sections come from donations from people in the Knitting Squad, many stripes are left-overs of my own. A precious few come from my Grandfather's stash and quite a few sections were purchased at Op-Shops specifically for inclusion in the Long Thing.

Hmmm, I guess it kinda defeats the original purpose of the Long Thing if I go and get yarn specifically for it ^.^;


Monday, 20 February 2012

My Very Own Beanie

I liked the hat I made for Mum so much I decided to make myself one!

Using the same pattern, which has become known in the NEV Knitting Squad as the "Boyfriend Hat" (Aren't those decreases absolutely divine?) and some utterly adorable Magic Garden Classic Prints baby yarn that essentially started dancing a little cabaret on the shelf singing "You want me, you know you want me!" when I saw it. (You know that feeling, when you see a really pretty ball or skein and you ABSOLUTELY MUST HAVE IT, right?)

It is warm and bright and cheerful, the perfect pick-me-up hat for a walk to work on a cold winter's morning.

Yes, that's me at 6:30am on a chilly Saturday morning. There is a good reason why I dislike having my photo taken!


Wednesday, 15 February 2012

The Many Stages Of My Mother's Hat

So, for Mother's Day last year I decided to be nice and make my Mum a hat. I figured that winter was just around the corner, and she'd probably need something to keep hear head warm whilst walking the animate mop she calls a dog.

(Mono is a wee white West Highland Terrier. Cute, but a little on the short side for full 'Dog' status in my books)

Mother's Day happens to fall near my paternal Grandmother's birthday, and we were planning on driving up to Christchurch to celebrate with her. My partner was driving, so this guaranteed me five or so hours of uninterrupted knitting time in which to make Mum's hat.

I wasn't entirely sure what colour to make Mum's hat. Naturally all her clothes are different colours, and I didn't want to get something that clashed horribly with 90% of her wardrobe. I found a nice shade of grey to execute the project in, and then I consulted Ravelry for a pretty beanie pattern I could pull off in the car. Something that looked nice, but wasn't too complicated in execution.

I fell in love with this pattern. The decreases are wonderful and make a monotone hat into something a little special.

After disturbing some poor hitchikers with the sight of a young female happily knitting and talking away a long car trip, I presented Mum with her hat.

She liked it! *Smug face*

(That's her 'I like my new hat, but why do you need a photo?' face)

At Nana's party we caught up with one of my many Uncles, who had come over from Australia for the Birthday Festivities. Canterbury is a darn sight cooler in climate than Queensland and my uncle was as bundled up as he could be without getting hassled by his brothers and he STILL looked cold. Mum very kindly leant him her brand new hat for the night, since a grey beanie is a "manly" way of staying warm.

The hat is now in Australia, probably stuffed in the glove box of his massive B-Triple truck.

Mum was a little bit pissed off by this hat-theft, so I offered to make her a replacement hat. Mum agreed, on the condition that SHE got to pick the yarn.

You know what happens when a non-knitter is allowed an unsupervised yarn-buying trip? You get a ball of overpriced, inferior quality wool yarn that has KNOTS halfway through which COMPLETELY CHANGE the colourway and provide a point of potential unravelment during hard wearing.

Oh well, it was a very pretty colourway. I would have been all over it if it was on sale too ^.^;

The placement of the knots in the ball of yarn Mum chose for her hat meant that it was about 5cm too short for Comfortable Ear Coverage, so I picked up around the bottom seam and added on a few extra rows of ribbing with some Barbie-Pink yarn to give it a bit of a boost.

There, now she can walk Mono in stylish comfort. You'll definitely see her coming at the dog park!


Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Told To Go Get Twisted

Yes, another knitter has been learning how to spin!

The lovely Vivian of the NEV Knitting Squad, a lady who is multi-talented when it comes to handcrafts (She even stocks a Craft Store on Baldiwn Street!) has been endeavouring to teach me how to take the various fibers I have somehow acquired over the last few months and transform them into a knittable state.

We have begun with the basics: Making singles on a drop spindle.

This is my very first drop spindle:

Yes, you are looking at a potato impaled upon a stick.

Yes, it is THAT easy to make a drop spindle!

THIS is my Very First Ever yarn.

I span it at Vivian's house under her watchful eye, and she plied it on her spinning wheel and showed me how to set the twist before turning me loose to get the basic hand motions so ingrained that I don't have to think about it any more.

She sat me at her (Yarn-less) spinning wheel while we were waiting for my first efforts to dry with the deceptively simple order to "Keep it going in the same direction" for a few minutes while she went to boil the jug.

I'll tell you this now: It's blasted difficult!

My record was about 15 seconds before I lost the knack and it started reversing itself. I think I'll stick with my nice, safe spud-stick for a while. At least it's easy to fix if I accidentally break it!


Monday, 9 January 2012

Stash Bash: Round One!

Hello, Blogosphere!

Long time, no see.


I could sit here and make all these excuses about it being first NaNoWriMo, then Christmas, then New Years, and then having people at my workplace quit or go back to their home towns leaving lots of lovely extra shifts for me to work and eating all my blogging and crafting time; or I could just leap back into things and pretend that those horrible long months of silence and non-activity never happened.

Yeah, leaping into things is definitely a lot more fun than making excuses. Especially if you're leaping into a bouncy castle! But I digress.

Like many knitters, I am an inveterate collector of yarns of all colours and descriptions. There are currently a suitcase, stilt box and several 'Eco Bags' full of yarn scattered around my flat. It is probably a very good thing that I live alone and am not irking my partner or any flatmates with the continued expansion of my collection!

Another thing is that I am in no way at all a yarn snob! I am just as likely to go for some glorious Merino or Alpaca blends as I am to grab some deliciously coloured acrylic. Ah, gotta love all those 'crylics who selflessly give their lives to make those wonderfully bright and affordable yarns! ;)

As well as collecting yarn myself, I also love having a perv at other people's stashes. Logic leads me to assume that since I'm not the only person who drives my non-knitter associates slightly mad with my compulsive yarn buying, then I'm not alone in loving to have a peek at other people's collections.

So: Here are a few things I picked up over the course of 2011. Inevitably most of my acquisitions are sitting in my stash waiting for that 'Aha!' moment of inspiration to hit before they are turned into something truly magical, so I shall show you some of the few lucky items that have definite futures awaiting them :)

This is a hand dyed Cotton-Rayon blend I picked up at a Craft Open Day in Milton. I think it will become a nice, absorbent cowl for summer rides on my motorbike:

From the same Open Day, a wee bag of Merino/Gotland cross lamb fleece to force me to learn how to spin:

These I picked of for specific Christmas presents. Sadly none of the planned presents were actually finished in time, due to extra shifts popping up like rabbits out Central. This year I fully intend to gain some time management skills in order to avoid making a habit of gifting "IOU Hat/Scarf/Socks/Mittens" notes!

(Lol, we'll see how well I go with THAT!)

I also stuffed a fill-your-own bag of random wool laps at the Milton Wool Mill Factory Shop, so I don't ruin my really nice fleece while I learn!

There we go: First Post of 2012 done, dusted and out of the way.

Onwards and upwards to greater things!