Wednesday, 27 October 2010

mixed dozen

  1. Finished and photographed the very late fathers day socks. They fit, they are lovely and loved. They only have two mistakes and I'm pretty sure no one else will ever notice they are there.samurai socks
  2. Lost my knitting tool box. The very cute little Japanese box with the giraffe on the front. The one containing my favourite yarn sewing needles (the sweet bamboo one and the totally most used aluminium one T sent me in a swap), my best and most compact needle gauge, my new sweet stitch saver, the very tiny and very sharp purple handled scissors my sister out law gave me, my favourite stitch markers, my smallest tape measure, one of a set of short harmony wood DPNS I use for socks and cables (and keeping my kimono cardi closed). It's only stuff, but every single thing in the box (and the box itself) was treasured for it's perfection to the task of mobile knitting and it's loss is keenly felt.
  3. Spent a lovely lunchtime with a birthday girl. A talented and inspiring friend, and a wonderful companion to have on the road of discovery when yarn meets machine. Welcome aboard lady!
  4. Have decided I simply MUST have a new handbag before I go to Canberra on Wednesday. With a four day weekend of solo parenting between now and then it can't possibly happen unless I don't sleep.
  5. Cast off another long standing knit project. From the moment I laid eyes on the one this very talented lady had made I absolutely had to have one too. I had the perfect thick yarn in the stash (Tahki Rio, an alpaca, merino, silk thick thin single) and miraculously managed to pick up the perfectly matched lace weight in a destash for song. And the finished cowl is exactly the right length to be worn either double or triple, the texture is interesting and soft and I think the colour will go with anything. But I really didn't enjoy knitting this. The Tahki sheds like your worst nightmare and every time I knit with it I got an itchy throat like I was breathing in hair. alexandria cowl
  6. The lad seems to be unable to get on quite the right side of proper wellness. Last Thursday he had a cough that had me thinking whooping cough epidemic but after a day at home on quiet mode he picked up and I thought the worst was behind us. This morning he declared himself too sick for dancing (unheard of) and that he wanted to see Frank (our chiro) RIGHT NOW to have his ears not hurting any more. Frank did his magic, Wil slept for 2 hours and now seems much better. But is he really?
  7. Last week I lost the pendant I have worn pretty much every day since I got it nearly three years ago. I keep thinking it is going to turn up, but it doesn't. I can't quite face that it might be gone. From the moment I found it, I was unable to let it go. Now it appears it may have let me go.
  8. I have taken to wearing some red beads because my neck feels unnaturally bare. This morning Wil broke the beads and spread them thinly throughout the house.
  9. Tonight I made spaghetti and meatballs using leftover gyoza filling and Lebanaese toum (garlic sauce) for the meatballs and it totally could have gone either way but it was delicious.
  10. The recently transplanted espaliered apple trees have flowered thereby signalling their intent to live. I am very very pleased about this.
  11. We have neighbours and they are pretty uniformly fantastic. A few days ago Bob saw D struggling to install a ridiculously large and awkward steel beam on his own and popped over unasked to lend a hand. Today he came back and welded the joins for extra stability. Just, you know, because he could.
  12. There's left over birthday tarts in the fridge and as the only adult in the house, they are all mine.

Friday, 22 October 2010

it's the cleaning thing

machine knitting
Like clockwork - D goes away for work and I set to trying to get life organised. Today it was getting the workroom into shape. In truth I'm only functioning at about 70% and trying to get a bit more streamlined was all I could muster the energy for. Of course I didn't get to finish and things look much worse now than they did this morning, but I feel they may at least be on the way to getting better.
machine knitting
For now I am defining as better anything that allows me to fit more stuff on the big storage shelves and thereby have freedom of movement across the floor, to actually use the cutting out table for something other than coned yarn storage and to be able to find the things I need without wasting a lot of time looking for them.

That's a reasonable ask surely? Once I'm on top of it, me and the machine have a date!
machine knitting

And I have to say a very big thank you to Lyn, the previous owner of the glorious, purrs like a kitten machine. The wonder of the internet that one can post one's most obscure object of affection only to have it offered up mere moments later. But mostly to get a machine not in the lottery that is ebay, the op shop or random bequest, but from someone who has cared for and used a tool and (with at least some connection outside of the money exchange) is happy for me to have it, who I hope feels good to know it will be, it is loved. And oh how I do. Thank you again.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

but wait, there's more

Sick boy at home today. I'll spare the complaining on the eve of our longest stretch of back to back single parenting stints/travel/work commitments and all round demanding times. I'm sure there is plenty of complaining ahead.

Instead pics of last weekend's protoype design. Scrap wool left over from other projects, half hour slots snatched over the course of the weekend. I'm planning and adult version for myself as soon as I can!

I could write a lot about the machine knitting, if I didn't have a very demanding boy at my elbow. I am in the midst of a very inspiring and inspired head space with it all and have a big stack of ideas I can't wait to try out.

Friday, 15 October 2010

ta da

So we have garment.
While there is much to learn from and criticise, as a first garment off the machine with my own devised pattern, I am very happy indeed. (And I blocked it again after these photos and it looks even better!) I think it will get used, which is what it is all about. And it only used about $20 of pure wool yarn!
kimono cardi

The design is based on a lovely hand knit pattern by my even lovelier friend Di that's been on my to do list for a long time. Mainly I didn't knit it because there was just too much endless stockinette and 1x1 rib to do, which is just perfect for the machine. I did modify the design from her original in a few ways too so it didn't end up looking so much like a copy. I love the striped effect I got combining yarns, that was a tip from my friend Amanda, I tell you these machine knitters have been so generous in teaching me!
kimono cardi
With Di's permission I have published the pattern, or rather the schematic and method, for free over on Ravelry (if you want it and aren't a rav user, just email me). It's just in my size (about an aussie 18,  with a lot of positive ease) but the method would be so so easy to apply to any measurements.

My head is now exploding with ideas for other things to knit - oh my wordy yes. Lucky I bought up all that garage sale yarn to experiment with :-) I keep thinking up questions about how to do certain things with the machine - can I do this, why do I need to do that, how could I make this is thrilling and fun and very loud in my head right now.

And in other news, I am praising the internets most highly and rejoicing most mightily because after my last post I received an email from a reader who was looking to part with a much loved Singer 200D. Oh dream machine! Can you believe it? And as a consequence I was able to make someone else happy by passing on the machine I bought at the garage sale, so really it's just like the perfect dance.

Sigh. I just love a happy ending.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

ticking over

The wonderful visitors are gone, after a fabulous dinner out and much rejoicing - choke dee ka!

It was very sad to say goodbye and think it will be years before we see them again. Sniff.

Their departure also started a round of room reorganising, returning things to their former (dis)order, with a few changes thrown in to keep things lively. There was also a catastrophic collapse of a very big and tall storage unit - cue a cascade of shelves and children's toys, puzzles, summer clothes, art work, lego and every other imaginable thing sufficient to cover a football field. I would have taken a photo but they don't make wide angle lenses wide enough.

There were a few dark days there.

On the very much brighter side my work room now has no spare bed and is already on its way to becoming the haven of my dreams.

I accidentally bought another knitting machine and several kilos of machine yarn. It was a garage sale for the Machine knitters Association, I had very limited time and suffered from heart palpitations sorting through the colour sorted 10 tea chests worth of yarn someone had donated. A kilo of red pure wool for $5? Oh my wordy yes. I am now a gold class member of the Uber Dag Association Inc and couldn't be happier, though more storage is most definitely required.

malabrigo lace shawl

In my defence I will just say I spent a good part of Friday machine knitting with Malabrigo lace on the coolest, simplest vintage machine from the 50s (the Singer D200) and several new cogs clicked into place about the differences between machines and a general appreciation for the whole machine thing (as opposed to simply what the machine can do - kind of like understanding the difference between an HR holden and 80's commadore). I now very much want one. Very. Much.* The Empisal I bought on Saturday was really just a substitute and once I have had a play with it I may well pass it on since I know a few people who would be happy to have a fully serviced great nik machine in their hands.


And when I got home from work on Saturday there was a spinning wheel for me too, a cast off sent my way by my mother in law for the next textile adventure, though I am putting it straight into storage because woaw I have way plenty to be going on with right now.

Speaking of which today there is much to be done - some Large Scale cleaning up and hopefully the knitting of the last piece of my kimono cardi and shortly thereafter the publishing of my first machine knit pattern! So you know, happy Sunday to you all.

* There will be much rejoicing and rewarding for anyone who manages to locate one for me.

Friday, 1 October 2010

the nature of things

D asked me last night if I was still blogging- ouch! But when I read this great post over on Kate's blog (gosh that girl gives great blog), it started me thinking yet again about the irony of the often inverse relationship between having things to say and having the time to say it, the filters and distillation. I recall the same thing about journal writing in the olden days before blogging.
swan hill

If you have been hanging out here for a while you could be forgiven for thinking I sit and machine knit all day and buy yarn, when of course much more happens. More happens and much more is contemplated and thought about and formulated in the mind.

swan hill
Right now we are smack bang in the middle of a two week stint of hosting visitors and entertaining children on school holidays. This means we are doing much - trips away and visits to museums and zoos and parks. It also means a perpetual round of meals for 7, twice as much washing, an extra child to pick up after and at least twice as many disputes to resolve. There are transportation and logistics issues, communications challenges, planning tasks and a certain amount of overcrowding. And all this has to be managed with limited shared language and cultural norms (oh the things we take for granted!).

swan hill
But if that all sounds like hard work, that is absolutely only a fraction of the picture. The challenges are not only immensely entertaining and rewarding they are accompanied by much learning, laughter and shared understanding. And in between there is a connection between us that is so much deeper and richer than could possibly be expected. 5 years ago we were living in their house in Thailand, sharing a daily interaction over the most mundane of matters. The next year they visited us and I think we were all surprised to find the bond between us not only survive the trip from their land to ours but seemed even stronger. I call them our adopted family because really it feels that forever.

swan hill
When we first met them they were a young professional couple, grappling with newish coupledom, life with the extended family and the tension between their traditional culture and the growing influence of western culture, with all its attractions and dangers. When we met them next establishing their own family was the biggest issue on their plates. Now they have a small child and the complexities of parenting, redefining their working lives and places in the extended family are paramount.

swan hill

There is much in their situation that is different from mine, both because of our cultural difference and just simply different lives, but there is so so much more that is the same. And it shouldn't surprise me, it doesn't surprise me really, but wow, it hits me daily how amazing, how wonderful it is that despite the many surface differences we are able to jump right in to that pool of the human condition and laugh and commiserate and celebrate together.

swan hill
Do I sound like a total sap? Like a gushy Asia hand? Is it really so remarkable to find this kind of friendship? It seems to me that it shouldn't be, that this happens all the time. And yet it feels, in a deeply emotional and instinctive way, like the most significant of things. In all the people in all the world, to find friends who seem as open and willing, as interested and excited, as familiar and yet different as we are seems like nothing short of a miracle.

swan hill
And while they are here with us it seems like every day I think this anew. Whether it is about the food we cook for each other and our mutual admiration for it all, about the challenges of disciplining our children, about the evolution of our extended families, about our work and careers, about our habits on Facebook and our love of the iPad, these small daily rituals run deeper the tracks.
swan hill

So I don't care how trite it seems to say it, I feel incredibly lucky and privileged and humbled, and all the more so because it is in such an ordinary, real life kind of way.