Friday, 29 July 2011


The needles, the yarn, the machine. They fill my mind night and day and pretty much everything else in life feels like a distraction from the main game. I have a jacket that's 60% sewn but I don't fancy it's chances of getting finished in the current environment. Even making chocolate chip cookies was a major intrusion. Not so the eating of course, but still, it's serious.

I've finished my first machine knit garment using the knit radar - a handy little gadget that turns a visual picture into a row by row stitch counter - and I am pretty impressed. $15 worth of discount Bendigo yarn in 5 ply, about 3 hours of knitting and a very useable result thank you very much. There will be more for sure.

I also set to a bit earlier than last year on the annual fathers day sock knitting job. I used patonyle 8 ply - a really lovely thick boot sock results and I am sure the mister will be very pleased. He's an explorer sock wearer as a general rule so these should be a winner. The stripes were to recover from the terminal shortage of yarn - these ones will be taking pretty much 150gm, not the 100gm max I am used to in a 4ply.

The socks are progressing so nicely I started swatching on the side for a new jumper for me - a plan I've been mulling over for weeks now. I want a big warm jumper with long sleeves and a chunky snuggly neck, so I dyed up the last of my 10ply possum merino stash in readiness. I love the black/grey/green/blue but I feel very nervous about the amount of variation between skeins, so I am thinking I will have another patch overdyeing session before I commence in earnest. Sigh.

I'm also fantasising much about knitting up this luscious orange and grey combo. It's mad tosh pashmina, a yarn and quantity suitable for a shawl type arrangement. I'm very drawn to this (have in fact already bought and printed the pattern), but have a growing sideline interest in this, this and this. That's stiff competition, right? I think I can be forgiven for vacillating.

I've got a few baby arriving deadlines too, a blanket here, a cardigan there, and a class next week on learning how to knit tubes on the machine.

I. just. can. not. stop.

Sunday, 24 July 2011


I have been following the genesis of this idea for a while through discussions over on Ravelry and frankly, it's the most exciting thing I've seen in a while.

Not in the pretty sparkles trivial kind of way, but in the long term susatainable everybody wins feel good kind of way.

The force that is Ms Gusset is putting her belief in the quality of Australian wool, the shared interests of the local aussie yarning community and the value of fighting for a rarer breed into action.

Instead of waiting for some commercial operator to wake up to the amazing properties of cormo she's organising a community pledge where you can commit to buying the finished yarn before it's been produced, thereby funding the production run.

Those who don't like to take risks might find this a difficult proposition, but I don't. I've knit with cormo - bought from the US with a shocking postage cost - and can attest it's an amazing wool, soft and rustic all at once, new and exciting and yet the very essence of sheepy delight.

I'm shocked we grow this wool on our doorstep but can't buy finished yarn here. It's so dumb. And I'm really excited by the idea of keeping it local and small and non commercial by getting the yarn users who trust our farmers, our tradespeople and millers, to fund the making of their own yarn.

It is a risk I will happily take - not just for the yarn (although that's motivation enough) but because the whole enterprise is a business model the excites the hell out of me. You can choose the amount you want to pledge - from buying a place on the email list to a single or multiple skeins of finished yarn.

Please go over and be a part of it here. Just click on the story and you can log into pozible - the online fund raising system that's facilitating this venture.

Sunday, 17 July 2011


Bendigo Sheep and Wool Show. Blessed yarnie crack den.

bendigo sheep and wool showJuly is now my favourite month of the year, sub zero temperatures and drizzle not with standing.

Amy and I, along with the wonderful miz p and her Amy aged daughter have just returned from a long weekend at the show of all shows - the place where us knitters and fibre hounds gather to fondle and buy and see and wonder and chat and eat and meet the people behind the Ravetars we have come to consider friends and the sheep folk who supply us our drugs.

I took pretty much no photos at all, being too absorbed in the general frenzy of activity, lanolin high and exhaustion born of the kind of highjinks that come with four girls in a hotel room directly above the pub band room cum wedding function room.

Yarn bought and arm knitted into a super cowl in 45mins - go Maria! #bendigosheepandwoolNot that I cared too much, it just meant more time for knitting, talking, stash cataloging and the encouraging of miz p, a self confessed 'non-knitter' who bought a considerable amount of yarn, arm knitted a scarf before dinner on Friday and stayed up way past the rest of us on Saturday churning through a garter stitch scarf for her man. I feel like a proud mum, she's so got the bug!

I spent a good part of Saturday helping out on the machine knitters stand, demonstrating the machine's uses by pumping out a pair of socks and helping Amy make miles of rolled up stocking stitch for an endless loop scarf. So great to get a few more inspired by the wonders of the machine.

Though it has to be said, the weather as we set on Friday was nothing short of stupendous, with glorious warming sun having us feel a little concerned about not packing T shirts. But it true Victorian style, the temperatures on Saturday fully justified substantial investment in wool and warming fibres and by today we were sheltering from the rain and turning on the car headlights at noon.
This year I prepared well, destashing quite a bit of yarn in the months leading up to the show to save my money and to make space for the the kinds of yarns I have become increasingly curious about. I also set myself some very specific project material requirement goals and some general parameters.

My main aim was to buy from small Australian companies, family farms, growers, those doing their best to keep a diversity of sheep breeds going, and those using less dye and harsh chemicals. I wanted a couple of jumper size lots, some machineable 4 plys for jumpers and blankets, some single skeins to try out, some hand spun and some bargains from the Bendigo Woollen Mills for machine sampling. I also wanted a few gifts and a jumbo pill shaver that doesn't run on batteries.

You may realise this amounts to quite a lot of purchasing, and that's true enough, but aside from a pair of wool denim jeans (didn't see that coming? yeah, me neither), I didn't stray outside my brief at all, and after taking account of the recent destashes in both monetary and weight values, I didn't actually add a whole lot to my stash. Especially if you stand quite a long way away and squint a bit.

And I am very happy indeed. There will be photos and descriptions loading up to my stash page in the next week or so for those interested, and of course you will see all that yarn getting knit up quick smart, right?

herringbone up topIn fact I cast off my last knit project the minute we got home and they are soaking as I write - the big herringbone cowl from the Purl Soho site, and a matching beanie I improvised based on the same stitch and yarn combo I used for the cowl. Best fabric ever, I may have to knit quite a few more of these.

All of which leaves me with the job of fantasising about what to cast on next. Too exciting by halves.

Saturday, 2 July 2011


Gear change.

I spent yesterday moving all my gear out of the living room and back to the workroom - the knitting machines, the cones of yarn, the pattern books, the rolls of crochet hooks and knitting needles, random sample swatches, cast on combs, swift, ball and cone winders. I took the blocking wires out of knitted pieces and put away the many things I hadn't bothered with while I was lord of the manor.

I cleaned out the fridge and folded the washing, I cleaned up in the kitchen, changed the bedsheets and brought the bins in. I emptied the compost, swept the deck and rented a couple of new DVDs for a movie night last night so the kids wouldn't sit forlornly at the front window waiting for a plane delayed late arriving exhausted dad to come home.

I visited the chiro in the morning too, who is getting as good as me at recognizing the cycle of long haul solo parenting. The lack of sleep making me dependent on adrenaline, the adrenaline tightening my muscles and irritating my digestion, prompting headaches and migraines and neck and shoulder pain as well as teeth grinding and jaw pain. He realigns my ribs and temporarily relieves the chest pains and brings a flood of energy and a break in the dark clouds amassing, my growing exhaustion and frustration and sadness about the way my body and life bear the costs of D's relentless travel.

Wil crosses the last day off his chart of sleeps till daddy comes home but his night waking and nightmares has taken a toll on him too and he's flushed with exhaustion, cranky and disobedient. He still suspects that daddy might never come despite my assurances. I'm snippy with the girl child too and she's teary and full of a sense of injustice and I feel bad that I need her to pull her weight even if it's a reasonable expectation.

I know this part of the cycle. We're all exhausted and I am doing my best not to expect that the homecoming will bring with it the instant and total relief I crave.

Knowing in fact that the homecoming is often the site where lots of negative emotions to get played out. Resentment that I don't get a commensurate 'time off' after the efforts of holding the fort, my sense of loss over having my own (craft filled and friend filled) dominion. D clucking his tongue at how standards have slipped and the kids have gotten away with murder while he's been gone. Each of us feeling in our own ways ripped off and a certain awkwardness over where to from here.

I'm used to it by now, it's part and parcel of The Way Things Are. But like most inevitabilities, knowing it, recognising it, seeing it coming is no protection from it. I fancy I feel a little less resentful than I used, but maybe it's only because the exhaustion seems all the greater. I accept more as my sense of possibility to change thing diminishes. I'm guessing that's not a good thing. Or maybe it is, in some kooky Buddhist sense. After all the great lessons of life revolve around just this requirement to submit beyond the level that you comfortably can. Only time will tell I guess.