You win some, you lose some

I love entering the knitting exercise formerly known as the Ravelympics (if you somehow missed that brouhaha, here’s a link).  The fact that I have never successfully completed it is neither here nor there.  I set my sights high and completely miss the mark.  This year I was going to complete Chaleur.  Here is my progress to date:

What can I say?  The start took me a while – it took me a long time to learn how to read the herringbone stitch.  It is surprisingly easy to knit, but I was confused about how the knit 2 togethers would line up.  The pattern is a 4 row repeat with action happening on the first and third rows, and I can tell you that the knit 2 togethers do not line up exactly, but shift by half a stitch each time they are knitted.

On the first row of the pattern, the second stitch of the knit 2 together contains the stitch leading from the previous knit 2 together.  On the 3rd row, the first stitch of the knit 2 together contains the stitch leading from the previous knit 2 together.  If my explanation is as clear as mud, you could just try following the pattern (that’s what I had to end up doing).  It is exceptionally well written, and I found that when I just followed it, it worked. I am loving knitting with the Kid Classic – and it feels like it will be great to wear.

I would like to get it finished before Winter ends here – I happened to be browsing the Vince website (for clothes that I can not afford), and came across this number.

Luckily, I have something very similar already underway.

On the win front, I found out last week that I passed the Bar exams.  I sat them in July, and it was an interesting experience returning to high pressure studying with parental responsibilities.  For those of you outside the British Commonwealth – this means that I will become a barrister.  Watch the video below to get some idea of what I will be doing.

Despite being blonde and sometimes prone to wearing red lipstick my career will be very much less glamorous than depicted in the video. I am unlikely to be involved in criminal law, but I will need to wear a wig and gown from time to time (much to the amusement of my daughters). I plan to continue my knitting – the NSW Bar Association has a knitting group, and I fully intend to become a member.

I’m against the Book Parade

I’m not against books, rather very much in favour.  We love libraries in our house, even if we tend to pay a lot in library fines.  Even Book Week doesn’t irk me, but the Book Parade!  Every year I am required to come up with a costume for 2 children from a book that we own, or have access to.  My delightful offspring refuse to wear the same costume every year, and also refuse to go as a character who has no especial identifying marks (for example Judy Moody).

Each year, the school gives us only a week’s notice, and then the inter-parent child wrangling begins.

Child: “I want to go as Tinkerbell”

Mother: “You don’t have a Tinkerbell costume and I am not making or buying one. What about going as a witch – we have a witch’s costume?”

Child: “I went as a witch last year!” (Oh the horror of being seen in the same costume for two years running) “Can I go as a My Little Pony”

Mother:”My Little Pony Books are not real books, and we don’t have a pony costume”

Wash, rinse, repeat.  Anyhow if there are any desperate parents trying to figure out a costume – here’s what I did last year for younger daughter. All you need is a tatty old fairy costume and some 100% synthetic highly flammable green fabric and you have Silky costume – Silky being a fairy in the Magic Faraway Tree.

Cut out cape – no pattern necessary.

I aimed for a length of cape roughly the same length as the neck – wrist measurement of younger daughter.  You are aiming for a roughly semi-circular shape – the one below was cut on the fold.

I then zig-zagged all raw edges, and turned the neck edge over to make a drawstring casing where a green ribbon could go through, and ta-dah!  With some cheap lurid green eyeshadow applied to younger daughter’s face, and we have Silky.

If you want to make a decent costume – follow the directions here.  My daughter was happy enough, if inclined to grizzle about the nasty synthetic fabric scratching at her neck. The costume was not a prize winner.  In contrast, when I was in year 2, my mother sent me to the Book Parade as the saucepan man from the Magic Faraway Tree.

I was horrified, and was in tears for most of the morning.  My sense of outrage and injustice was only increased when I won the prize for the best costume and was called up to the stage where everyone could see my costume.  As an adult, I can see that the true injustice occurred because I received the prize, instead of it being given to my mother.

Letting someone else do the heavy lifting

Yet another pair of plain socks in Kaffe Fassett sock yarn for the Fireman.  When I was studying frantically and pondering my future, I need plain therapeutic knitting, and it doesn’t get much plainer than these.  They have been enthusiastically received, and in fact worn several times before I thought to block and photograph them.

The whole exercise of studying as a parent required lots of adjustments – I am a crammer, and I had a lot to learn in a very short period of time.  The Fireman was kept very busy doing a lot of child maintenance activities, and my parents and parents in law helped out enormously. I have new-found respect for anyone who has undertaken secondary or tertiary study while parenting.

If you feel compelled to know the details – they are ravelled here.  Now that my exams are over, and I anxiously await my results, I’m undertaking some more complicated projects – a Chaleur for the Ravellenic Games, and some Virve’s Stockings (because I can).

Crafternoon in Melbourne

I’ve been thinking a bit about what makes travel successful for me.  I haven’t written a blog post dissing the company that took us to Vietnam (but have come close) because I think that the problem with the trip might be with me.  For the most part, I don’t enjoy sight-seeing.  In fact, hanging out with a lot of other tourists, eating tourist food, and being hustled about in a manner more akin to a feedlot gives me the heeby-jeebies. So what does work for me?  The day I had in Melbourne this week…We were in Melbourne for the week, and Soozs suggested that we get together at Crafternoon.

For the uninitiated, Crafternoon is an amazing little cafe where you and your children are encouraged to draw, cut up books, and create.  My daughters were with me, and had a fabulous time with Suzie’s kids.  I drank excellent coffee, knitted, chatted, and ate a tasty, satisfying lunch.

The kids made badges, and insisted on them being photographed for the blog.

There were no other tourists to be seen.  I think that a local can give you an insight into a city that most tourist guides are never going to reach. When you have a local who shares your interests – you have the makings for a very fine day. Suzie knew that the two locations were within a quick walk, gave me tips on the tram to take, and the itinerary met my interests…She even brought along some lovely baklava from A1 Bakery to satisfy our turkish sweets needs.

Suzie had suggested a further stop, a trip to the Handweavers & Spinners Guild of Victoria.  I would have taken many, many photos of this place, but there was a sign on the wall expressly forbidding it.  If you have ever desired some hand-spun yarn, this is the destination.  They have a huge variety of handspun for sale, as well as spinning supplies, and some amazing finished garments (a beautiful handspun and woven scarf really did nearly make it home with me).  The prices are exceedingly low – I bought all this (for $72).

That’s a 100 gram skein of wool/silk, a 200 gram skein of wool, and a handspun and hand-knitted pair of booties for our neighbours’ baby.

I can tell that the larger skein wants to be a scarf:

Any ideas on what to knit?  I want to show off the yarn, but am not that interested in measuring it. It looks like a worsted/aran weight – I have 200 grams, so let’s say 440 yards?


Crafternoon: 531 Nicholson St, Carlton North, VIC 3054

Handweavers & Spinners Guild of Victoria: 655 Nicholson St, Carlton North, VIC 3054

It’s starting to feel like Christmas

1. This week I got my first gift – a copy of ChaleurJulie Hoover’s wonderful new pattern (picture ganked from her site). I won it as a prize from her site – thanks Julie!

I am planning to knit it in Colourmart cashmere in a dark grey (yes it is a colour I wear a lot).

2. When I check my stash of the yarn above I realised that I did not have enough – only 3 cones, and the pattern requires 5! I’ve been encountering this problem a bit recently, and think that the trend of increasing ease is going to result in it occurring again.  Oversized garments require more yarn… Luckily, within 24 hours the internets have supplied me with 2 more cones of yarn.  Perhaps not a Christmas miracle, but it makes me very happy all the same.

3. It is finally starting to warm up in Sydney, and no cardigans have been required this morning.  We have had an astonishingly cool December (more like an early spring) with heaps of rain.  The sun is shining right now, and I have already been to buy the seafood, fruit and vegetables for tomorrow. The forecast for tomorrow looks good for swimming (which is a key part of the Australian Christmas experience).  I’m off to make béarnaise to go with tomorrow’s roast beef,  some last minute Santa sacks, and a cherry cake for breakfast tomorrow.

Happy holidays to everyone!

I thought that it only happened to people on the internet…

I’ve read a lot about a yarn store rudeness but I never thought that it would happen to me….

We went on a family holiday to a small country town in NSW.  Those of you who read the last post,  will be delighted to know that global community of knitters came through for me, and I secured enough yarn to finish my Nesselrode, all in the same dyelot.  During the holiday I manged to finish the front and the back,  and was champing at the bit to get going on the neck.  To my mind, the generous neck is an important feature of the pattern, and I was happy to compromise on sleeve length to get the neck right.   Despite owning plenty of pairs of  3.75 mm needles (one of the perks of being a former yarn shop owner), I did not bring them with me.

Anyhow,  I noticed that there was a haberdashery shop¹ in this small town and I decided to go an buy the 3.75mm needle from it.  When I ran into the store, desperately trying to avoid getting wet in the sudden downpour that had just started, I was ignored.  There was one woman working in the store who was busy chatting to her only other customer about recent social events.

I perused the yarn (small, very dated selection) and even smaller collection of patterns, most of which dated back to the 1980’s.  I eventually found the knitting needles, and could not locate a 3.75mm needle, or even a 3.50mm needle that I liked, so I went up to the counter with a 4.00 mm needle and a 3.00 mm needle and waited to be served.  The ladies chatted, and I learnt more about the recent bowling club dinner.  I waited.  I wondered if there had been some improbable cosmic intervention, perhaps due to the storm, that had rendered me both invisible and soundless.  The ladies chatted.  I cleared my throat after another 5 minutes, and the customer collected her change and finally left.

The (presumed) owner of the shop finally greeted with a curt “hello”.  I asked politely if they had a 3.75 mm circular needle or double pointed needles. The owner said “they don’t make that size”.  I was surprised by that statement (especially since I had many pairs of the non-existent needles at home in Sydney), but chose not to directly contradict her.  I instead said “I’ll just check the pattern, I did think that they specified 3.75mm needles”.  When I opened the pattern, the owner sneered “Oh, its an American pattern”, in a tone of voice which suggested that Australia was at war with the US, and I was an enemy collaborator.

Despite being quite affronted, I knew that I wanted to get moving on the neck, so I purchased the 3.00 mm needle for $4.95 (figuring that I could knit looser, and that having the inside of the neck a bit smaller would be OK), and left and stewed a bit.   I have had pretty uniformly positive experiences yarn shopping around the world, but if I were a beginner, the owner’s rudeness would have been truly off-putting.   My lack of forward planning is especially annoying when you can purchase 15  sets (US sizes 0-15) of DPN’s here for $9.84.  Get together with your mates to meet the order minimum, or purchase some buttons, and needle rolls.

Of course I got back to the holiday house, and looked at the pattern again, and realised that while I had been seeking the 3.75mm needle for the neck, that I had, in fact, knitted the body of the sweater on completely the wrong sized needle.  Apparently, when I decided to knit to the underarms in the round, I decided to use the sizes recommended for circular needles (4.00mm – intended to be used on the outside of the turtleneck) instead of 4.50mm needles indicated in the pattern for the body.  Luckily, Nesselrode is a pattern that has a lot of ease, and the error is not fatal, even despite the slightly firm nature of the knitted fabric.  It has been a lot of knitting so far, and there wasn’t much chance of me unpicking it.

The last question is – do I knit the sleeves on the recommended size needles, or do I continue on with the mistake?

1.  I’ve decided not to name the shop because they have no other internet presence, and I don’t want their only mention to be about rudeness.


When we were on the train to San Francisco airport in April, the Fireman turned to me, and said “is that boy wearing a Noro Hat”?  Now my husband is not a knitter, and I didn’t think that he was paying any attention while I have dragged him through yarn shops around the globe, but apparently some of it has sunk in.

It might help that his favorite casual scarf seems to contain the same colourway (which I’ll wager is Noro Cashmere Island in 8).  I had to kinnear a photo to record the moment.  I’ll apologise for the quality, but I was trying to avoid looking like a weirdo public transit knit-wear stalker, despite acting like weirdo public transit knit-wear stalker.  Here’s the photo in its original context.

What inspired me to recall this photo?  Our family has been struck by a Norovirus, first afflicting older daughter, and then younger daughter and me simultaneously (all I can say is, thank goodness for a house with two bathrooms).  We are all better now, but when I was trying to figure out how many of our friends and family we had possibly exposed to our vomiting bug, I came across the name of the culprit, and it made me think of the hat on the train.