I like kids, they make me smile. It’s nice to see little babies out with their mums and seeing how happy the babies look and how proud and protective the mums are. Today, I was walking to the library at uni and there was a baby being held in a sling. Awww, a baby!, I thought, followed immediately by Hmmm, that’s an interesting beret that baby is wearing, I wonder if it’s handmade. How was it constructed? I wonder if I could copy it. And then I realised I wasn’t really awwing at the baby that time, I was awwing at the hat.
This further reinforces the idea that I’m a grandma trapped in a young woman’s body. I need to go now and make lavender pouches, then blue rinse my hair.
First of all, I just want to say that I wrote this post three weeks ago but technology is awful and I lost it, so I’m writing it again. Now that that’s out of the way, news!
I haven’t posted in a long time, I know, but since I have posted, lots of exciting knitting-related things have happened!
The first news is a tragedy; the tragedy of the knitting pattern book. I design patterns from time to time, and record all my patterns in a note book which used to belong to my sister and has her name on it. As I mentioned in my last post, I have moved to Tasmania for study. I had the pattern book lying around because I had been measuring a friend for a jumper (more on that later). A few days before I moved, I went to get my notebook to pack it away to come with me. But when I opened the pattern book, I found that it was empty. An unsuspecting family member had seen the notebook, thought it was just an old one of my sister’s and threw away all the pages with writing on them! Almost all of my original designs had been lost. Needless to say, I was devastated, but I guess it shows that knitting is an esoteric kind of language. Notation and glued-in ball bands don’t necessarily scream knitting to the untrained eye. However, I’m a champ, so instead of packing my pattern book, I packed the finished objects which I had designed and took them with me to Tasmania. I’m slowly working through re-writing the patterns based on these FOs.
In other exciting news before I moved to Tasmania, I was commissioned by a couple of friends to make things for them. The first one was a friend from volunteering who had just bought a new keyboard and wanted “her” to have a handmade cover to keep the dust away. He basically gave me absolute creative freedom as to what I would make. This friend has eclectic tastes, from Pokemon to music to chemistry to martial arts movies to curly hair. What would I make? A runner with a Pokemon logo on it? A throw rug with cool geometric pattern on it? Or maybe something elasticised which could slip around the keyboard? “Don’t go to too much trouble” he said, “whatever you make will be fine”. Well, I was happy with that, as I had just finished doing an Intarsia scarf for another friend (pattern to come soon) and as much as I love Intarsia work, it is taxing. So I went for an easy design of a giant keyboard which could be draped over the actual one. The white keys (I actually used cream so the dirt wouldn’t show as much) were in stocking stitch and the black ones were in reverse stocking stitch in an attempt to make it kind of 3D. In the end I was quite pleased with the finished result. The edges are a bit curly though, I forget whether I had time to block it.
My friend looked very pleased when I presented it to him. He sent me a picture of it in situ, and he has chosen to lay it with the WS facing up, which on balance I actually think looks better than the way I had originally planned. WS facing means the black keys have a bit of a white border around them. I had wanted to do a black crochet edging on it, but I had some time constraints what with moving away, and I think it looks fine the way it is. Pattern to follow at some stage (this pattern was lost in the great pattern book tragedy, but as soon as I found out it was lost, I quickly noted down a diagram, so it should be easy enough to rewrite).
The other commission was for a jumper for a high school friend. This jumper is “inspired” (let’s go with inspired) by one she saw online, and has some complicated gradated dropped stitches going on. I had only ever made one adult sized jumper and one adult cardigan before, and had never designed any. I had only ever done one dropped stitch pattern before. But what they hey, I decided to give it a shot. I looked up some existing patterns and tutorials for guidance on shaping, but in the end I more or less designed the pattern from scratch. I finished it before Easter and brought it with me when I went back to Adelaide to visit. I’m not entirely satisfied with the end product in this case, but it is wearable. and I’m counting on the fact that an artist is her own worst critic. My friend was away at the time I was there so I left it with her sister. I haven’t heard yet if she liked it. Pattern probably never to follow. I took notes, but I’m pretty sure they’re indecipherable even to me, so I doubt I will ever properly write out the pattern, and it will forever be a one of a kind piece.
So here I am, sitting in my new bedroom in Tasmania. Here is a picture of The Knitted Kitten being eaten by a Tasmanian tiger. Good graphics, huh? Just kidding, I know Tasmanian tigers aren’t blue. The Kitten lives on a shelf with a teddy bear in my room.
I’m extremely busy with study, so am rarely knitting, but in the moments when I can knit, I’m working on a nativity scene by Jean Greenhowe! Yay! I had bought the pattern book a year or two ago but hadn’t got around to knitting it until now. I’ve made Mary, Jesus, the manger and two sheep, but the photos I have right now aren’t any good, so…no photo for you. I also noticed that in a previous post I had promised a crochet pattern. That’ll probably happen at some stage. Yep.
The Knitted Kitten.
(Scene: January 1st, 2013. Me, laying on the couch knitting. Mum walks in and starts sweeping)
Mum: What are you doing?
Me: Making a sheep.
Mum: Mmm. * nods, continues sweeping*
Yep, it’s now a normal thing for me to be doing something that doesn’t make sense. I was knitting this sheep, actually, as a present for all the future little children who will go to my current church. More on that later.
First things first: Happy New Year! I rang in the New Year with friends, lighting sparkler bombs, playing ginger beer pong and knitting the straps for a baby dress. And this year has already been an eventful one for me; I got a haircut for the first time in two years. Just a trim, mind you, but I do miss those straggly couple of inches off the bottom of my mop. I hope everyone reading this had a great time last night. And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught, for auld lang syne.
Secondly, I have neglected my blog since my post about Sweden. Since that post, a lot has happened.
My sister and I finished our matching bags. Ta-da!
So then, Happy New Year 2013, let’s hope there are many more yarn adventures in your year and mine!
The Knitted Kitten
So I have been in Sweden for nearly a week now. I am reeally appreciating all the warm woolly clothes people are wearing. Because they have to. Because it is cold. They apparently have several words for scarf. And I have plenty of knitting stuff to talk about with you.
Firstly, and very excitingly, my sister and I are working on a collaborative fibre art project. You see, my sister is a crocheter. While I think crochet produces lovely objects and is a great pastime for other people, I think that if I were to crochet for an extended period, I might need to conjure up the dark arts and cast a spell of patience, so I very much respect people who crochet. To be fair, I have crocheted a hat and a number of other smaller items, but still, I’m no crocheter. My sister is, though, and I blame myself.
When my sister and I took ballet lessons, she used to crochet bun nets for herself, which were really nice, but she stopped doing that after a while. But, two years ago was when I became obsessed with knitting, and through the magic of Internet, I was able to inadvertently inspire my sister to take up a crochet hook again. So I take credit for my sister being a crocheter.
Just before I came to Sweden, I asked my sister if she would like to do a combined knitting/crochet project with me, her doing the crochet and me doing the knitting. She thought this was a nice idea, so when I finally arrived in Sweden, we sat down and decided on making this bag together. We’re making two, one for each of us. Her favourite colour is red and my favourite colour is purple, so hers is going to be mostly red with purple accents and mine is going to be the inverse. We are using cotton yarn, and I’ve decided to go with smaller needles because the stitch pattern and the object lend
themselves to a rigid fabric. Also, the needles I have here which are the recommended size are dpns,
and they wouldn’t acommodate the large stitch count. I haven’t done a tension swatch, and my sister hasn’t either, so I’m just adjusting the length of the pieces as I see fit.
What I am really interested by with this pattern is the stitch pattern used, which until now I have never come across. Take a look:
My sister and I wandered around the top of the mountain for a while and happened to see a few ladies carding fibre and spinning it on a drop spindle! I do believe it is the first time I’ve seen a drop spindle being used in person, and it makes me want to try it. My clever sister, who can speak Swedish, informed me that the following sign says that the ladies were in a class for fibre preparation.
And here is the knitted Kitten enjoying the view from the top of the mountain:
So that is my time in Sweden so far. I’ve also been hanging out at my sister’s work and learning Swedish words and ruining the Swedish experience by being a vegetarian.
The Knitted Kitten
I’m sitting here at the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, waiting for my flight to Sweden! I won’t be able to post this until I get there, though, because I can’t figure out how to set up the Wifi they appear to be offering here.
I just wanted to fill you in on my adventures over the past few days while I wait for my plane.
On Monday I went to the heureuxest place on earth, Disneyland Paris. I immediate and ahhed a bit about spending all that money and being there by myself (knitted feline company excluded), but in the end I decided to go, and it was worth it.
I’ve been to Disneyland USA before as a teenager and I loved that. My favorite ride was Space Mountain, but I had heard that to Space Mountain in Paris was even better, so I went on it. It’s an indoor roller coaster which is in darkness except for swirling and flashing lights. The way I remember the one in LA, it was basically completely dark and the lights you saw were little dots like stars. In Paris, Space Mountain had vortexes of swirling red lines and I’m sure lots of other stuff different to its LA counterpart, but I had my eyes closed for a decent part of it. The one on Paris was more for thrill seekers, I’d say, as it went upside down and there were more high- speed downhill bits. I’m not a big thrill seeker but both Space Mountains I’ve been on we’re definitely within my comfort zone for roller coasters. My biggest brother took great delight in my facial expression on a photo of us on a roller coaster in Sydney. I hope he appreciates the photo of me screaming my head off on Space Mountain.
I also went on the Small World ride, Alice’s labyrinth and Sleeping Beauty’s castle. I did enjoy the spinning wheel with the dangerously sharp spindle. If blood pisoning was do rampant in the middle ages, maybe don’t make so many spiky things. Seeing Sleeping Beauty’s wheel reminded me both of my own spinning wheel and my love of fairytales. I wasn’t an extremely girly little girl, but I loved me some fairytales about princesses, and I do enjoy re- enacting fairytales with my babysitting charges, especially when I don’t have to play a yucky boy character. Maybe reading about old
fashioned clothes and tools shaped my love of creating things, or maybe my love of fairytales reflects a love of tradition and not forgetting where we came from. You can buy a knit at Kmart, but so few people have any idea how it was made.
So that was Disneyland Paris. It was fun.
The next day I had planned to visit the Louvre and the Pompidou centre, but was disappointed when I looked at the opening times the night before, only to find that they were both closed on Tuesdays! Boo! But it’s ok. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it, but I’ve actually been to Paris before, and visited
these two places. So instead, I went somewhere I’ve never been, the Musee du Carnavalet (free entry, peeps). It was a lovely little gallery with a beautiful garden and friendly staff. I then went on back to he Arc de Triomphe. This time I actually climbed the arc, something I’ve never done before. It was really cool.
After that I went home and got chips for lunch from a kebab shop (where the guy used the same tongs for my chips as he did for the meat. Can’t he tell by my hippie hair that I’m a vegetarian?). Then in he evening I went up the Eiffel Tower! Yay! I wanted to be up there at sunset, and I was, which was
awesome! Yay for France! I have been up the Eiffel Tower before, but not at night.
So now I’m here, waiting for my plane. I’m very happy with my trip to Paris, especially because I got to have some great new experiences. Disneyland, getting a very inaccurate portrait done, Carnavalet, climbing the Arc de Triomphe, attending Mass in a non- touristy Parisian church, Pere Lachaise cemetery seeing Paris at nightfall from the top of the Eiffel Tower, being in Paris when I can actually speak French, eating French cuppa soup.
I better pick up where I left off yesterday. Yesterday’s post was written while I took a break between Montmartre and shopping. For shopping, I decided to check out a yarn shop in Paris, not far from Chatelet-Les-Halles, called La Droguerie (French for “hardware store”. Nice).
I think the place was beautiful. As you walk in, both walls are covered in yarn for several metres. This is quality stuff, and the prices reflect that. I was quite fond of the kid mohair they had for sale. It was so fine, with such a big halo of fluff around it. They had a simple pullover made of it on display. It was knit very loosely, but when you held it in your fingers, you can tell how insulating and warm, yet light, it is. It would make a great Spring or Autumn outer layer. Note to self: get a goat. Also near the entrance to the shop was a table of knitting patterns for sale. They were in display books, like how linen shops often display sewing patterns. There were some finished garments on display nearby, and I was quite taken with a child’s pullover with a picture-knit horse and rider on the front. It reminded me of the beautiful intarsia ones I saw at the craft market in England last week.
Further down the room at La Droguerie, there was a lady demonstrating one of those spinny hank/skein winders, and also a ball winder. I lusted after these, all the while reminding myself that I am living out of a suitcase right now and therefore should steer away from things that take up lots of space. Not to mention Australian Customs wants you to declare any wood you’re taking into the country. La Droguerie also sold things for other crafts like beading and sewing. I really liked the shop. However, I didn’t buy anything. You see, lots of other people liked it too, and there was a massive queue for the counter and SO many people. I even went back an hour or so later to see if the crowd had died down, but it hadn’t. I’m not too fond of crowds. The shop was open odd hours, but this isn’t a bad thing, in fact it was good for me that day because I went there later in the day.
Yesterday evening, I also finished the beanie I was working on. Ta da!
I’m pretty happy with it. As well as adapting the pattern to be knitted flat instead of in the round because of the needles I have with me, I also increased the number of stitches and reduced the needle size for the same reason. I think it should fit a newborn up to maybe 3-4 months. For the ribbing, as I do for most ribbing I knit, I twisted every stitch by wrapping the yarn the opposite way around the needle than usual. This makes it super stretchy and in my opinion, just more effective for its purpose.
Finishing this pattern means I don’t have a project on the go at the moment. This is rare. I suppose I still have projects to steam or block. And I have some handspun socks on indefinite hiatus because I ran out of yarn, but that project isn’t in this hemisphere. I think I’ll work on my cross stitch until I get to my next destination, where I’ll probably raid my sister’s stash (she’s a crocheter), or get her to take me to her yarn pusher, and make some more stuff.
So, that was yesterday.
The Knitted Kitten and I had a very busy day today, but since I do want to keep this blog about knitting, I won’t go on and on about it, but I will share some pictures of our adventure. I also went to Pere Lachaise cemetery and tried to go to the Catacombs but it’s closed at the moment.
I’ve jumped the pond, as it were, and I am now in gay Paris, taking a few days to look around. I arrived yesterday evening, so today was my first chance to spend any meaningful time enjoying the city. I went to Montmartre today. There were three things on my list for Montmartre: the Sacre-coeur Basilica, to see the outside of the Moulin Rouge, and to get my portrait drawn by a street artist. In actuality, I’ve stayed in Paris before, so I’ve seen the Basilica and the Moulin Rouge, but it was nice to see them again. The Knitted Kitten enjoyed Sacre-coeur, by the looks of her face.
I also got my portrait done by a street artist. Last time I went to Paris, some other people I was with got their portraits done. They looked really good, but nothing like the people they were meant to represent. It seemed like a really nice idea though, so I decided to do that this time around. I’ve made a point never to put my face on this blog. As much as I am great, this blog is (usually) dedicated to knitting, not how great I am. But this portrait looks sufficiently absolutely nothing like me in any way whatsoever, so here, take a look at my portrait!
My planned outing today only took up half the day. I might go shopping this afternoon, but for now, I think I’ll kick back and get to knitting the baby beanie I started at my auntie’s place the day before I left. It will be a cupcake hat, but for now, it looks like this:
I adapted the pattern to be knitted flat, because I lost a dpn and the circular needle I have is too short for magic loop.
I’ve been knitting so much slower while on this trip compared to everyday life. Partly because I’m doing other things, partly because knitting is what I do to disengage from work, which I’m doing anyway by being on this trip, and partly because I’ve developed a worrying addiction to Plants vs. Zombies. But, I have managed to finish two projects while being away. One I won’t tell you about yet (soon, my pretties). The other is a scarf, made in bright green cotton/acrylic yarn, with a fringe at the request of the recipient. My iPad’s camera doesn’t do it justice, it is much brighter green than it looks.
I’m actually very close to finishing a third project, started today, sans written pattern, and that’s a ball for my canine cousins, who I will be leaving shortly.
The Knitted Kitten
Paris was just a transit, I was actually headed to an organic farm in the south of France where I was to WWOOF, which is where I worked on the farm in exchange for food and lodging (look it up). I had a nice time improving my French and gardening, my other obsession apart from knitting. The Knitted Kitten enjoyed it too. Here is The Knitted Kitten with The Real Kitten that lived at the farm (or as they say in France, The Real Kitten that lived at the farm. Sketch Show? Anyone? No?).
And with a view of the farm:
Now, I won’t bore all you non-gardeners with my experience as a French farmer, so here is one bit of knitting news. In preparation for my stay at the farm, I hand-spun some white alpaca yarn and dyed some with calendula, some with onion skins and some with eucalyptus, and kept some white. I knitted it into two beanies, one for each of my hosts. They appeared to be really impressed with them, and I felt quite encouraged that my art, while I do it because I love it, is also considered good by other people’s standards.
I stayed at the farm for over two weeks, but there was still more in England that I wanted to do, so I changed my travel plans like a pro and went back to the Uk, which is where I am now. I took the Knitted Kitten to see the changing of the guard yesterday at Buckingham Palace. The Kitten didn’t see much from inside my satchel, though.
So today I was in Suffolk. My aunt and I went to a nice craft fair in Needham. It was lovely. There were heaps of handmade things, like the hand-turned and painted wooden earrings I’m wearing as we speak. What impressed me the most though was a couple of ladies selling beautiful hand-knitted baby clothes. You could tell that hey loved their work for the sake of the work, because they were asking ridiculously low prices for them. There were traditional lace cardigans and these incredible intarsia jumpers that I could hardly believe they were willing to part with for such a small price. These ladies are inspiring for their love of knitting as an art form and just something that you do because you enjoy it.
Right now I’m working on a bright green lace scarf for a special little girl back home, and once it’s finished, remind me to show you a picture of it.
That’s all for now. A bientot and Cheerio,
The Knitted Kitten