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I’m talking about gauge. It’s giving me issues, right now.
I finished up S’s cowl and my lingering fingerless mitts on the weekend. They were both good autopilot knitting – not brainless, they both involved complicated stitches. Besides, knitting brainlessly is garter stitch is just asking for trouble. But I didn’t have to make any adjustments or decisions, and I needed something to sit down with in front of the fire in between frantically moving all of my crap from the damp, mouldering lean to into the surprisingly not as damp garage. Along with the accumulated crap of two other people (my sister and a friend, for whom I am storing a car’s space worth of stuff).
This is because the lean to is finally, FINALLY getting torn down and put back up again. Amongst much upping of quotes (it’s asbestos. Seriously, you would think they would WANT me to get rid of toxic materials. Not really incentivising me, here). The electrician is coming tomorrow to cut off the power to the lean to, which means that everything had to be out by tonight because there will be no lights in the backyard by which to haul crap around. And then Thursday the asbestos people are coming (grumble grumble grumble) and Friday the builders are starting. After that it really shouldn’t take too long. Hooray! Finally! A house that does not leak! And which is cold but maybe less chilly and clammy! And which I can vacuum all parts of without them immediately becoming gross again! And which I can put stuff against the walls of without water pooling underneath it!
However. That is not the actual point of this post. The point of this post is that lying liar. I’m talking, as I said, about gauge.
So I finished those two things. The active projects on my needles now are both colourwork. Which is great, I am loving it, but it’s not exactly bus knitting. Also, I think I’m going to rip out the colourwork bit of the blanket and try a different tactic because the floats are showing and it’s messy (f#*&ing crepe plied yarn). I looked at all my hibernating projects – all cotton or boring, hence the hibernating. I thought about casting something new on – I even bought a pattern! Then I realised that I had started Jaali. That I was excited about it. That I had put it down for some inexplicable reason.
That reason was gauge. Not getting gauge. I took that as my bus knitting yesterday and realised what I had realised before – that it seemed tight and awkward to knit on. Sure enough, three stitches extra over 4 inches. That’s quite a lot over a whole jumper. So I ripped it. I’ve cast the yarn back on as something different, which I think might actually be better for the yarn, and I was only a couple of inches (and a complicated cable border, but I enjoyed knitting that so it doesn’t count) in. The thing is, I swatched like the blazes for this one. I know I had gauge.
I got gauge this morning, too. I swatched for another fox, this time for my sister. It’s different yarn, a bit bulkier I think, so I knit up a quick swatch before casting on. Even though it’s a scarf and it doesn’t really matter. I am virtuous. I used the recommended needle, the needle I used with the smaller yarn last time. Too big. Way too big, three stitches off and the fabric was way too loose.
Went down a size. Still a stitch and a half too big.
Went down ANOTHER size. Still a weeny bit big, but the fabric was nice which is really the most important thing for this project. Good enough.
Cast on on the bus, got a couple of inches in… the fabric seems awfully tight. Folks, it’s two stitches over 4 inches short of gauge.
I SWATCHED. Three times. The knitting gods are testing me.
I’m going to keep knitting on the way home, which will give me a few more inches to judge if the fabric is too stiff. Otherwise, good enough. But I am worried about my colourwork projects. If I knit a whole colourwork mitten in sockweight yarn, and then it won’t go over an adult hand…
I wonder if it’s time to learn how to wrap the yarn over my finger. I’m a thrower, and I’ve never relearnt because I am fast and I always get gauge. But I tell you, it’s a pain doing colourwork like that.
Maybe this is an opportunity?
Remember the fox stole that I wore to Sarah’s wedding and gave to her mum? I finally finished his replacement. Well, it’d been done for a while, but I hadn’t sewn the ends in. I finally did so I could wear him on my Melbourne trip. Here is the rav link.
I looooove him. (I suppose it could be a she – are vixens different colours or shapes? But somehow it’s a he). So snuggly and warm. Even if I DO get glares when I wear him in Adelaide. I don’t know, people.
Only received smiles when wearing him in Melbourne, though. Even when having an impromptu photoshoot in a carpark.
Although not from the man reliving himself in the corner of said carpark, which is what I’d just noticed here. Nice.
I really loved knitting this, even a second time. This time I made his body a bit longer, I think by about an inch. I also made the tail one increase longer/wider. I’m planning to knit ANOTHER one for my sister’s birthday next month – better get cracking on that, it has to be posted to Ireland. I’ll make it to pattern, because she has less neck for him to snuggle around.
I’d been in a bit of a knitting slump – idly doing a few rows here and there but not very enthused. The wool show kicked me out of that. I’m knitting a cowl for S out of Malabrigo. He wants it to be tall enough that he can pull it over his head, but I stopped knitting it last night because it’s getting a bit ridiculously massive, and I want to have him try it on before I go any further.
Instead I did a (teeny tiny, probably inadequate) swatch for some Mystery and Manners for my sister. They’re colourwork which kind of intimidates me. They’ll definitely be an at-home project because there is a complicated chart. Well, it’s not that complicated, but it is different every row, and definitely needs to be spread out and concentrated on. I’ve got gauge with the suggested needles, but I had to pin it a bit to do so, so I’m not sure about it. But I think probably the size up would be too big. I’m knitting it in Morris Empire, which I bought on the trip. I was going to buy it during their sales – I’ve been plotting these mittens for a while, but waiting to hear if my sister is staying in Ireland to get use out of them. But in the end, it was too hard to pick colours over a screen. Plus I realised I would be going there, and could save myself the postage. I ended up choosing ‘daffodil’ and ‘kingfisher’ which are working really well together.
I also cast on Sunbreak for a baby blanket for a friend. I’m using the Bendigo Classic I bought last week. The yellow is just called ‘yellow’ and it isn’t on their colour card, which is a shame because it’s LOVELY. Not washed out and sad like usual Bendigo colours. I’m doing the sun in the middle in the yellow and the rest of the blanket in Tasman Blue. Hypothetically – we’ll see how I go when I get to the transition. I haven’t really thought it through, to be honest. Someone else on Ravelry has done an intarsia one with the same thing – yellow sun, blue blanket, but they did it in four parts and sewed to together. The pattern gives you options for doing it that way, or in the round, and I chose in the round. I’m a bit worried because the yarn isn’t fuzzy and forgiving and capable of hiding mistakes, but I’m sure it will be Good Enough. And if not, I can reassess. I’m about halfway through the centre of the sun and loving it. I realise this is the fun part, though.
I’ve got one and a half gloves of Genmaicha (rav link) in undyed camel which I really loved when I cast on. Now I’m just not sure. I’m not loving knitting them, and I’ve had some eczema on my hands this winter and I think the fuzzy camel would irritate it. I could really use some fingerless gloves right about now, though. But the contrast of having these new projects that I am in love with, and Genmaicha, which I love the pattern, and I love the yarn, but together… meh. Well, that’s not true. I do love the combination, I’m just not sure it’s for me. I don’t think the yarn would stand up well to ripping, though, so I guess I’ll finish them and maybe they’ll be ok.
But it is such a lovely feeling to be enjoying knitting again, and to be so excited about the projects on my needles.
Back at work today after a long weekend in Melbourne and at the Bendigo Sheep and Wool show with S.
It was so lovely, despite every step of the way involving some sort of delay or drama. We flew in on Thursday morning (after a delay, obviously) and caught up with my cousin and her husband who are living in Melbourne now. They’ve spent 2010 travelling around Asia, so we sort of lost touch with each other for a while. I mean, we knew what was going on with each other, but we’ve always been fairly close and I missed knowing what was going on with her at a deeper level than what country she’s in, or what her job title is. We also talked about some family stuff that we were having issues with, which was so great. I’ve missed out on being invited to a few things, which has obviously been really upsetting. It’s not on purpose (well… I have my doubts about one of my aunts, but I am giving her the benefit of the doubt in order to strive for the moral high ground for once) I think it’s just that the people organising things assume I will find out… somehow. The cousins I am closest with have been out of the country or interstate, and my mother is NOT a reliable source of information, so I’ve been out of the loop. I’ve talked to people and asked them to contact me personally and it seems to be all sorted out, but I have to be careful what I say to my dad’s side of the family. They all love each other and have functional families, and they get upset if I hint that maybe I don’t have the closest relationship with my mother. Anyway, I got to talk about that and not have to pretend – my cousin never really had a relationship with her dad, besides begin pretty unsentimental, so I could say that I wasn’t close with my mother without it making me a bad person. Such a relief!
Anyway. That was Thursday. This is taken from the Vic Markets on Friday, before we travelled down to Bendigo.
We had to go on the bus, because they were repairing or upgrading the line, or some such rubbish. It was NO FUN. On the way there the bus smelled of cabbage farts, and on the way back we had some awful man sitting behind us droning on with inane comments about the things we passed and racist comments. Luckily I slept through most of that.
We went down to Bendigo on the Friday night and stayed in a B&B called Jubilee House, which was LOVELY, and the people who run it were just fantastic. It also happened to be near the Bendigo Woollen Mills, so I went there on Friday. Bought a few balls of yellow and green for my crochet blanket, because nice yellows and greens are hard to find, and don’t show up well on screens for internet buying. I picked out some colour combinations for things I want to knit later, that it’s hard to do on the colour card. And I bought some balls of classic. I don’t like Classic at all, really – I don’t find it to be very warm, and I don’t like crepe plies in general, and I find it splitty when knitting. But I want to make a baby blanket, and it’s superwash, and it had the colours I liked. I loooooove luxury, but the colours aren’t very bright – at least not the cool colours. Frustrated, as usual, by the washed out colour palette of Bendigo.
Anyway, we went to the show early on Saturday, and had a quick look at things, and S and I patted goats. Then I left him in the lunch hall contentedly reading while I caught up with people, and then it was basically time to go, if we wanted to be back in Melbourne at a decent time. Which we did. I would have liked a bit more time – I didn’t make it to the alpacas or the craft hall or the bunny lady – but I did everything I wanted to. And it was much more fun catching up with people.
I seem to have only taken photos of goats. Here is a baby cashmere goat. It was a week old and is trying to eat my camera.
And here is a grown up mohair goat, trying to do the same thing.
And here is a two for one, a baby mohair goat AND a grown up one.
But I don’t think I git enough cute into that photo, so:
This is me being very pleased about patting a goat
The goat was also very pleased
Goats are the greatest. Especially because up close, they look like this
However, I did not buy any cashmere or any mohair. I didn’t buy much at all – I got a jumper’s worth of shiloh yarn and a pack of pear tree yarn that they were selling off by the kilo – my score was 100% merino 4 ply in dark blue. And I got a shawl pin and some buttons and a few other trinkety things. I carefully handled all of my lovely single skeins before I went, so I wouldn’t feel compelled to own any more, and it seems to have worked.
Saturday night we went to see Bridesmaids. It was hilarious, and also I started crying about a half an hour in and didn’t stop until after it was finished. In a good way. Sat next to a girl who reacted out loud the way I do – it was that kind of movie, anyway, but it was good not to feel bad about muttering ‘oh NO!’ any time something awful was about to happen. It was fairly slapsticky, mostly in a good way, but I am a chicken about that kind of comedy. Luckily I bought a GIANT tub of popcorn (it was dinner) so at the start I slid way down in the seat and balanced the popcorn in front of my face, so I could hide. And I watched most of the movie through my fingers. But now that I know where the cringes are, I would definitely watch it again – especially if I could fast forward one or two bits.
Sunday I caught up with Bek and had brunch with her, and then S and I did some wandering and some shopping. I found a lovely duffle coat in Retro Star Vintage, which was excellent as all my winter coats are either too small, too daggy, or are a massive heavy military greatcoat. And then monday we went out for breakfast and then decided that, really, we were done. So we went to the airport early and sort of stared at the wall for a while. Well, I listened to podcasts and knit and S read his book, but we were very much in need of down time. And then I got home and slept in my own bed and it was SO GOOD.
I was sort of hoping that the holiday would be able to kick me out of the cold, dark rut I’ve been in – nothing major, just that everything seems to take more energy than I have. It sort of did that – I feel clearer and less under a weight. But it is still dark when I leave for work and when I get home, and it is still freezing in my house. I want to do things, but I want to be warm more, so I guess not much is getting done until either it warms up or my lean to gets fixed – which will not make my house warm, but it will make it less damp and chilly. And you know, it’s hard to keep your garden going when you can only garden in the dark, when it’s under 10 degrees. Not very encouraging.
Anyway, that final whinge is sort of to say, that’s why I haven’t been around much. Because I haven’t been doing anything to talk about. The holiday did make me realise that yes, when I have free time in the relative warmth, and when the sun is in the sky, I can achieve things. So I guess I’ll just wait it out. C’mon spring!