Knitting

I’ve been knitting this cardigan, Ravelry tells me, since December 2011. It got swallowed by my knitting slump.

In my mind I had ages to go of knitting the body. I picked it up after craft camp and started knitting, and then tried it on and it was just about perfect. The sleeves went pretty quick and even though it felt like the front band took forever, it was pretty fast too.

It’s 5ply, but on reasonably large needles – 4mm – so it does knit pretty quick. It also only took a ball and a half of Bendigo yarn, so about 1200m. I was going to knit the sleeves longer but they looked good short when I tried it on. Besides, this is intended to be my office jumper, for just chucking on on top of stuff. So shorter sleeves are good. I was worried they were a bit tight – I know the pattern was adjusted to make them smaller, since people had found them too big. I guess they didn’t account for those of us with bingo wings. They did ease out with blocking, but you can still see the lumps in them from my tshirt and all of that. I should have picked up just a few extra stitches under the arm. In fact, I did pick them up, to avoid holes, but then decreased to have the number required by the pattern.

I really like it, and I was thinking about knitting another one in another colour but I don’t think I need more than one open-front cardi. Or if I do I’d like it to come closer to being closed, rather than hanging open. Because I have more… landscape… out the front than many, there’s more left exposed. But I couldn’t make the front much bigger or else the collar at the back would have stuck up too far. It’s totally fine, it doesn’t bother me at all, but I don’t need another like it. It’s perfect for indoors only, or a night time cardi for summer or spring, but I wouldn’t wear it TO work in winter. Only AT work.

All in all, I’m very pleased! Rav link here with all the deets.

I also spent pretty much one whole day of the Easter long weekend sorting through my stash and putting it up on Ravelry. Which was a bit of a shock, to be honest. I mean, obviously I knew how much yarn I had in terms of where it was stored but I didn’t realise, somehow, HOW MUCH YARN I have. And a lot of it is either single skeins of sock or lace weight, which I don’t knit much of, or it’s bendigo yarn which is ok but it’s nothing special. And a lot of it is exactly the same colour that I knit this featherweight in. Due to an ordering mishap (they sent the wrong weight and said just to keep it since it wasn’t worth posting back) I have a jumper’s worth of 8ply and another jumper’s worth of 5ply. Which is fine because it’s obviously My Colour but I don’t need all the jumpers out of it.

So I’m going to try to knit through some of my stash. I did chuck some of the older, crappier stash, and I’m posting some stuff off to a raveller tomorrow, which has freed up a WHOLE DRAWER. I also sorted out my queue so that everything on the first page is something I’m dying to knit and to own. There was a lot of stuff on there that I’d enjoy knitting but is not my style, so I got realistic about it. I need more plain knits with a little bit of interest, since that is what I like wearing. And what I like knitting, thankfully. I like me a good swathe of stocking stitch.

I’ve already cast on and Essential Cardigan with the leftovers from my Emily. I’m not going to have enough, just from the leftovers, so I’ve decided to frog Emily. I feel sad about that but realistically, I’m not going to wear that jumper. I like the neckline a lot, but the sleeves are not really my style, and the fix in the body is too obvious. So, it goes. I have a couple of other knits that I need to either fix (my Rogue, significantly, which has too-short sleeves and body) or just get rid of altogether. There’s no point having them taking up space when I never wear them, and I’m a much better knitter than I was when I made a lot of them, so I feel confident in being able to either fix them or at least evaluate what is wrong about them and chalk them up to learning. So those are my vague knitting goals for this year – knit from stash and fix my knits.

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Ironing

Ironing is not my favourite thing. Of all the household tasks, I would say it’s my least favourite except that I can at least opt out of ironing. Dishes, not so.

However, ironing is less optional when sewing. My ironing board is fine but it just had the dodgy cover it came with, which kept slipping off, and the foam pad was so thin that I would occasionally get a waffle pattern on whatever I was ironing, from the frame.

It was sad.

I also had to replace my old mattress protector because it had shrunk a bit in the wash, and had generally seen better days. I doubled it over, laid the foam on top as a pattern, and cut it out about an inch wider than the foam. Then I overlocked the edges. Just happened to have blue thread in there and couldn’t be bothered changing it.

The end bit with the iron rest doesn’t have anyway to fold it under, so I kept the fabric even with the board there. I read some tutes where people quilted their mattress pad fabric together but I didn’t bother. The back of the mattress protector was a bit sticky and I made sure I pulled it together when I overlocked it, so I don’t think it’ll be a problem.

I considered folding it over and using cord to cinch it in but I didn’t want more bulk. Instead, I just got some knitting cotton and did a big running stitch around it. Then I pulled it tight, did some fiddling to get it to sit evenly, and tied it off.

Couldn’t get a decent close up of the stitching since it’s beige, but it’s not really photo-worthy anyway. Here’s what it looks like with just the pad. I made sure to pull the cotton nice and tight so that the pad doesn’t slip or pull. I am really pleased with how firm it came out.

That’s my drawer of half-finished projects and my toolbox notions storage behind it, plus a washing basket full of fabric that I am determined not to let become stash. I WILL sew with it soon.

Next, I lay the board down on the fabric I wanted to cover it with – I could have used the original pad again but I wanted to be sure it was right, and the foam was actually slightly the wrong shape. I used some drill I had bought from Spotlight because I loved the print and wanted to make a skirt out of it, but I decided it had too much white in it to be safe. I catch the bus to work and I don’t want to spend too much time thinking about my clothes and what I might be sitting on – not to mention the things I smear on myself while eating, etc. I am not to be trusted with white things.

I left a good length away from the board, I think maybe 5″, but I could have done with a little less. 4″ would be about right, I think.

I turned the edge twice – once as a baby hem, and then a a 1″ hem to be the elastic casing. I just turned and stitched the bit at the end with the iron rest.

Then I threaded the elastic.

This is what I mean when I said I probably left too much overhang. I wanted to be sure it covered the pad underneath but because it’s so far away from the edge it doesn’t cinch in as tightly as I’d like. I might take it off later and fold it over again if I can be bothered. It’s a little bit loose but it’s only really annoying when you fold and unfold the board, it’s tight enough not to affect the ironing. I just tied the elastic in a double knot and trimmed the ends a bit shorter.

Tada! New ironing board cover that actually makes me happy to look at, and a use for some would-be stash fabric. It was a nice,  quick project that took me about an hour and a half all up, including thinking about how I was going to do it.

I read a bunch of tutes for this before deciding it was simple enough that I could just wing it – it really is a pretty simple process. But if anyone wants to ask me for clarification on anything I did, just leave a comment and I’m happy to help you out.

Saturday night in the craft room

These princess seams are fighting me, big time.

The weekend before craft camp I decided that I needed to completely rearrange my craft room. I took all the storage out and remixed it, instead of packing. When I got back I started sorting the drawers out. Had a big chuck-out – so many different bits and pieces for so many different crafts. Today I sorted my fabric stash. There wasn’t too much dross in there, actually, which was pleasing. I have a bit more sorting to do but it’s a vast improvement – and much easier to actually sew in! I still have to get some melamine to make benches out of the drawers, get a better thread-storage solution, and sort out the mending/current half-finished projects pile, which you can see teetering in baskets next to the bookshelves, here:

I reckon I might even have room to put them in a drawer. That’ll ensure that I absolutely never get to them, so that’s good.

I know that the new setup makes it easier to sew because I’ve BEEN sewing! Shocking, I know. I finished off the black dress I started at camp, and a pencil skirt of the same material – in fact, it’s just the skirt part of the same dress. I took in the yellow skirt and now I’m plugging away at that polka dot dress. I thought I’d sorted the fit at camp but the neckline was just too gapey, so I’ve had an evening of taking the princess seams in, incrementally, by about 3cm. I’m trying to avoid making it actually tight, because that’s less comfortable and my bust fluctuates a lot. I’m at the lowest ebb at the moment, if that term is allowable, so I don’t want to take it in too much. But I do want it to not be gaping or pulling. I think I’m there but I thought it wisest to take a break before final assessment. I know too well that if I try to push on I’ll end up with something not-quite right. That’s what happened to this dress the first time around. Besides, I really want to nail the fit because there’s lots you can do with a princess seam bodice that fits well.

Blues

I have a couple of long sleeved jersey shirts from Kmart, one black and one white, and I’ve worn one or the other almost every day this winter. I’m going to try to copy them and make some extras, but in the meantime the white one was looking a bit… dingy. So I soaked it in some sard stain remover stuff. Unfortunately I put it in the same bucket as a teal dress that I’d dropped some lunch on (I’m classy like that) and the teal bled. I’ve never had blue things bleed before! Especially not ones that have been washed multiple times. But there you go, it did, and it left a blue streak on one of the arms.

So I dyed it. I had this other top that I bought ages ago that was a minty green colour, with ivory lace. I loved it but didn’t wear it lots because it was too close to pastel for my tastes, and then the fabric got a bit sun damaged and faded, patchily. I’d bought some blue dye for something else, so I bunged them in together. It was Dylon hand dye, ocean blue. I’ve only dyed stuff in the washing machine before, so I expected this to be tricky for some reason. It totally wasn’t, but I think I’ll stick to the ones you can bung in the machine, in future, if I have a choice – I’m not neat enough, I’d rather have it all contained in a machine. I neglected to get a before, which makes this whole thing less interesting.

Dunno how well it’s showing up but the lace is still quite contrasty – it’s the same colour as the long sleeved shirt but the top is more like a light petrol blue.

Pretty pleased with my adventures. Don’t know how much I’ll wear the lace top, since lace is not really my style these days, but at least it has a chance. And if it doesn’t get worn, I can donate it to the op shop without it becoming rags. And I will get a whole lot more wear out of that long sleeved top.

And here is a photo of my living room, just because it’s neat, and looks like I want it to. This is rare enough that I took a picture. Feeling really pleased at how I completely accidentally lined it up so you can see the babushkas on my mantel, in the mirror.

Colour theme: consistent. Also notable:

  • I won’t be seeing S for a while, which means I can buy flowers. He’s allergic, and considering that he puts up with my cat to which he is also allergic, it seems only fair to forgo them. But I do miss having flowers around.
  • Pile of presents, for S, not only ON TIME but actually well before his birthday. He is so hard to buy for it’s ridiculous. Hopefully they are a sucess.
  • I found Blue (oooh, also consistent with the theme! It’s the book propped in front of the dollhouse), after months of looking. It is excellent and you should read it all online for free here and then buy it (Dymocks has it).
  • That sparkly blue Mary is a money box.
  • The empty cubby hole is for my cat to hide in and ambush me from.
  • I feel like I am having trouble ending these posts. I guess most things don’t have neat, narrative endings. So I guess this post will just finish when it stops.

September garden

Here is what happens when you mulch the garden beds and then don’t go outside in daylight for the next three months.

It goes mental.

Here’s what’s happening in this photo. In the foreground are some brassicas – purple brussel sprouts and sprouting broccoli – that started out in a garden bed to the left. This bed gets pretty much zero direct light, so I don’t know why I bothered planting in it – it’s great for lettuce in the summer but that’s about it. Anyway, because it gets no light the brassicas did nothing for three months, then escaped the beds to find some sun. Now they’re actually sprouting and I haven’t the heart to pull them up because they are finally doing something.

There’s a raised garden bed at the back of this photo. Behind all the seeding rocket. Also, three mostly-clear beds which you can’t see because they’re behind weeds.

(Please excuse the horror in the shed, and the drying washing looking for some sun)

In the ongoing battle with the three cornered jacks, if it’s not a three cornered jack, or in a place where I want to plant something else, it gets to stay.

I was going to just mow the weeds this weekend, but I’ve come down with some horrible disease (feeling very sorry for myself at the moment)  so the most I managed was this:

Hypothetically that’s a herb bed. There’s still some sage, and a parsley bush going mental – those are big stalks of parsley that I hacked off and used as mulch, at the front. There’s also a tonne of self seeded silverbeet, which is excellent. I’m mostly going to plant tomatoes and leafy stuff this year, since that’s mostly what I eat, and it’s also hard to buy good quality greens etc. I will eat pretty much 100% of all tomatoes and leafy greens I grow, so it’s a lot of bang for the gardening buck.

Tomatoes are stupidly expensive at the moment because of the Queensland shenanigans – I went to a farmer’s market on the weekend where there was a single stall with non-blemished tomatoes. They were $8 a kilo which is actually pretty good (it’s up the $12 in the supermarket near me) and there was an absolute scrum to get to them. I just bought blemished ones at $4 a kilo and they’re very nice, thank you. But not the same as home grown ones.

I’ve given up on curcurbits, even though I’ll eat all the zucchini I can get, because something nearby has powdery mildew – I blame my own and the neighbour’s frangipanis – and I just can’t fight it. Besides, they’re cheap in season and pretty easy to buy good ones. So I’ll concentrate on silverbeet, lettuce and rocket, all of which I’ve grown with great success. See: massive rocket weeds above. The flowers are very pretty, I think. They WERE moderate, bushy plants before I just went inside for winter, so these ones’ll come up but the next lot which are springing up now can stay, and I’ll see how they taste. And I’ll plant more from seed. My problem last year was that I got excited about all the different things I could grow and over committed. If I have leafy greens, a decent herb garden, tomatoes and maybe an eggplant and capsicum bush, I’ve always got dinner. That’s enough commitment while I’m working full time. If I’m sensible about it I might be able to plan it well enough not to need to bed it all down over winter.

I made it slightly further down the bed. Jeez, look at those weeds. Just ridiculous. I wasn’t kidding about not having been outside in daylight for the last three months, you know. In weeding this bed I found THREE secret chicken nests. Sneaky buggers. Who knows where they’re laying now. They’re so small they just look like shadows, and I just can’t see them when they’re hiding. They love the weeds, but were equally pleased with the grubs uncovered and the straw to muck about it.

Stuff and things

I’m pretty sure I’ve used that title at least five times. Oh, well.

Feeling really brain dead today. Been a week of early mornings, and I’m fighting off a cold. Nothing dramatic, just… the theme of this month seems to be me whinging about being tired. I’m not even THAT tired, I’ve certainly been tireder. But everything seems to take just a bit more energy than I have. It’s probably fine, actually. I’m probably just projecting my Friday Tired onto my last month. PLus, you know, it’s not been a good news week. All the bad news is exhausting. Not to make it all about me! But the continual pounding of bad events does wear one down.

I’ve been a big lurker again lately. My home computer died – AGAIN. I think I know what the problem is, now. Which means more money to fix it. Not too much, thankfully, but it’s been on hold for a while. And I must say, I’ve kind of enjoyed not having a computer. I can do most of my internetting at work in my lunch break, or when I get in early. And my evenings are plenty full with knitting and gardening and house work and the occasional social event – although I’m still being a hermit most of the time. The only thing I miss is podcasts. I only have about 30 left on my iPod. Which is ok, I’m working my way through a reading of Northanger Abbey at the moment. I’ve read it before, but can’t remember how it ends. It’s making me snort quite a lot. I’ve had too many friends like Isabella, let me tell you.

Here are some things that I wanted to tell you about. Here is a photo of my spinning wheel that I took to show Suse and then couldn’t find my fecking camera cable.

I have yet to actually use it. I was waiting to get some large house jobs done, and then my computer died. I’m going to need Youtube to help me learn, so that’s on hold, too.

I’ve been doing some garden stuff. Like mulching the front yard. A friend found a bunch of carpet by the side of the road and nabbed it for me. As of last weekend my front lawn is carpeted – and I haven’t had time to put on the mulch. Looks quite strange.

Carpeted front yard

I also accidentally neglected the tomatoes a bit in one of the heatwaves. It was just too hot to go out and tend them. Turns out, rain and then hot days are just what tomatoes like.

Overflowing tomatoes

Oh, well. At least there are lots and lots of these.

Have to be a bit careful actually because they are SO TOMATOEY. I made a tart tatin, and it was just so acidic and zesty. Deliciously so, but one slice was enough.

tomatoes are pretty much where it’s at at the moment. I bought a bunch of struggling $1 punnets at bunnings a while ago, and they’ve just started to get going. I was sort of hoping that everything wouldn’t make it, because I sort of had too many plants for the space. It seems like the only things that died were the cucumbers. Boo, I was looking forward to cucumbers. I’ve got some zucchinis that are going to get picked this weekend, and some silverbeet starting to hit its stride. Some flowers on some eggplants (eggplant plants?).

Zucchinis

And the herb garden is just taking off, which I think I am the most excited about. Basil! I have never been able to grow basil properly. It’s either just died, or straggled on so I don’t have the heart to pick it. But the basil in my garden is aggressively healthy. I picked some for my tart tatin, and left the leftovers in the fridge for a week. I found them this morning and they looked like I’d just picked them. It’s amazing.

There’s been lots of knitting. I keep knitting something, thinking ‘oh my GOOOOD that took me FOREVER’. Then I go into ravelry and it turns out it took me about a week.  Oops. I’m up to the last sleeve on Avalon, but I’m taking a break for baby knitting.  I’ll show you that when it gets to the reciever, but here is the February Baby Sweater (rav link) that I made for the general baby stash.

Seems like a lot of people I know well enough to knit for, but not well enough to deadline knit for, are about to procreate. So I might have to make sure I always have a baby garment on the go. If I am doing the 12 jumpers in a year, which I still like the idea of, this could work well. The official group does not include baby jumpers. But I consider that a me-sized garment + a baby sized garment = 2 small-adult sized garments. Especially since many of the things I want to knit are 5ply. Anyway, I am quite pleased with this top, even though the last bit seemed like it would never end. I think I need to keep a realistic eye on how long I actually have been knitting it. This took me just under two weeks. Hardly eternal torment.

(Although it did take me almost three weeks after that to sew up the underarm sleeves and sew the buttons on.)

I went up to Strath (where S lived) the other weekend and hit the op shops. The ones in town are getting expensive and picked over. The ones in Strath? BRILLIANT. There are a bunch of antique stores, which are pretty much like museums. This time we just went to the little pokey church op shops, though. I got some good loot.

Op shop loot

Here are some of the highlights. Original Harmony Stitch guide for $2.  ‘Growing Fruit in Australia’ which I bought for the section on Espaliering, but am reading cover to cover – I expected it to be all ‘you must plant your trees at least 5 metres apart’ but actually it’s all about ‘cram as many in as you can! She’ll be right!’ I know some of you have referenced a fruit growing book – is this the one?  Paper Bag Princess was 20c and I couldn’t resist. Pot is perfect size for two people’s worth of pasta and also unbearably cute.  Suitcase was $4, and is currently storing linens under my bed. The brand is ‘Long March’ which I find quite inappropriate.

I also bought this blue vest which I apparently cannot take a proper photo of, but am extremely pleased by. It says ‘Italian Merino’ on the tag (and also ‘dry clean only’, which is DAFT) and it is soft as kittens. Softer, even, because it doesn’t have pointy bits on its ends, and it isn’t nibbly. It is also the perfect me colour, as you can see.

Blue vest

There was some other stuff which I didn’t photograph and can’t remember off the top of my head. Some fabric bits and pieces, a scarf, that kind of thing. The price quoting isn’t quite right because it’s one of those places where they look at what you have and go ‘oooh… $10 will do’. I am quite pleased with my loot, and I’ll have to make a point of going back there.

Weekend achievements

It was wet and blustery here in Adelaide over the weekend.  Trees were down, power was out (not at my place, thankfully!) and my backyard is squelchy and slippery.  I have been trying to remember summer and how hot and dry it was, to make myself thankful for the water.  I’d feel better about it if my garden beds were all mulched and the water tank was functional.  I think the tank really needs to be emptied, because I suspect that the bottom half is full of gunk, and I can’t even turn the tap on.  But it’s a fair way down the to do list, I’ll be honest with you.

Last week was pretty wet and wild, too.  And every time it rained and my lean to leaked, I thought about the packed spare room, and how my sister had just chucked boxes in there, right up against the leaking wall.  Like I’d specifically asked her not to.  And there was s sucpicious smell.  But the thought of rearranging the crap in the shed so I could rearrange the crap in the spare room was just a bit overwhelming.

My weekend started off slowly.  On Friday  S came and picked me up from work because we were going to the Adelaide Show on Saturday, and he was getting over a migraine, so we just sat around watching QIand chatting.  Lovely.  On Saturday, S obliged me by helping me re-ye my hair blue over the bits I’d missed, and then I got a bee in my bonnet and tidied up my bedroom and the loungeroom.  Not that that took long, but it felt SO much better.  All the ‘too hard’ piles were dealt with and sorted, and even though it’s still about the same state of neatness now, after being used all weekend, it still feels cleaner and more organised.  Nicer to be in.  I sorted out my WIP system, although it still needs some attention due to all the random almost-finished things I have lying around in baskets. Emma and Osk and Sally came around and Emma pruned my poor neglected rose bushes for me, since she has the know how.  And we had a cuppa and a chat, and laughed at the baby for pulling faces.  And then we got sorted and went to the show.

It was WET.  And it was WINDY.  And I had just a lovely time.  We looked at none of the sideshows and didn’t even consider the rides.  We looked at pigs and cows and sheep and alpacas and goats.  And I bought some local natives from Trees for Life which were actually just what I wanted, and they were only 2 for $5.  A hardenbergia to grow along the front fence, and a hakea although I’m not sure where that’s going.  And we looked at the craft and the flowers and did the Yellow Brick Road.  And then it got dark and we thought about the fireworks and went home to sit on the couch instead.  Lovely.

Sunday S tootled off and I bummed around for a bit, picking things up and putting them back down again.  Then I plugged in my iPod and got stuck into the spare room.  It took me about 4 or 5 hours all up, but it’s now clean and clear and lovely.  I moved the crap in the garage around enough that my stuff is accessible and my sister’s stuff is at the back.  I got all of her stuff out of the spare room (minus the clothes I had to throw out from the boxes against the wall because they had gone mouldy.  I TOLD HER SO.) so now my house is SISTER FREE.  Then I organised and sorted and threw.  My bins are full and so is the op shop box, and I keep thinking of more things that I don’t really need.  The spare room now houses the cat litter and some galvanised shelves with the inside-tools on them, like my drill and the screwdrivers, so that if I decide at 10pm that I need to put in a hook, I don’t have to go outside.  Everything else got sorted and is in the shed or the pinboards in the garage which I can now GET to.  Then I tackled the junk that was accumulating in the laundry.  The garden stuff is all still in a pile for sorting, but everything else got sorted and stored, chucked or placed.  Then I swapped the desk that was in there for a table.  A friend is storing stuff in my shed while he’s interstate, and he said I could use anything I like, and his table is just the right size.  So now I have a place to eat!  So thrilling.  Shoosh, it is thrilling.

Actually, the most thrilling bit was when my laundry was completely empty.  I swept it twice. The cat likes to wipe his feet on the edge of his litter tray when he’s done, so there were bits of litter everywhere.  And then I mopped it.  Twice.  It was GROSS.  The wall in there isn’t completely weatherproof either.  It’s not as bad as the spare room, but if anything touches it, it will leak.  And there was crap everywhere, so it was leaking.  Then I sorted the shelves and the cupboard under the sink, so that all the buckets and random pieces of cleaning equipment that seem to live on the washing machine now have designated homes.  And then I scrubbed the laundry sink, which was covered in paint. 

The craft room is a bit of a dumping ground, and I still have too much stuff for my house.  But I can get ot it all.  I cannot begin to tell you how exciting that is.  I can get to it to deal with it.  I think I might go through my bookshelf tonight and be ruthless.  There are some things there that I am tempted to keep but, lets be honest, I’m never going to read.  I bought a bunch of second hand books the other day that I will read, over and over, and I would like to have room for them.  I expect I’ll need another op shop box.

Do you think the op shop will take my cat, too?

After all that cleaning and tidying and sorting, I sat down on the couch and I cast off the blanket that I have been knitting for Sally.  I was knitting it at her birth 6 months ago, and I wanted it DONE, but at 500+ stitches a round it was taking me a while.  It’s off the needles now, and all I need to do is find the floorspace to block it.  Then I think I might go through my WIP baskets and have a bit of a finishing party.  I know there are hats with two round left to go, and things that only need the ends woven in.  And THEN, I think I might cast on for Get Off My Cloud, without the cloud pocket, I think, like the Storm Cloud version.

This morning as I was getting ready I picked a bunch of tulips and filled up vases.  Crisp, dew covered tulips.  Lovely!  I feel much much better about my house and its contents.  Things are moving.