Tuesday, May 31, 2011

12 in 11: May

Well. My prediction that I would not survive May without some clothes buying was accurate. I just wasn't able to resist. I am so tired of my winter clothes that it was inevitable. I've bought a sleeveless black just below the knee length dress that I can wear over long-sleeved t-shirts or warmer jumpers as the weather dictates, and over straight-legged pants or even tights if I'm feeling very brave. It's from some schmick modern fabric that holds its shape and doesn't crumple and has a rather dramatic collar. I was initially a bit put off by the collar but have decided I like it more as time goes by. I seem to be wearing it every second day or so. I also bought two long-sleeved t-shirts to wear under the dress. I feel rather embarrassed to admit that last winter I was wearing t-shirts that were so old and worn that their cuffs were frayed.

And I also bought some earrings at the Old Bus Depot Markets in Canberra. They're like tiny round silver showcases with a textured paper design inside. Quite Japanese in their design.

So, that's four items for May - a total of 6 clothing items purchased in 2011 with 6 more to go. I'm more than half-way through my quota but not half-way through the year. After such a good start this is a bit worrying.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Another weekend away

Lennox sky

I've been away from Sydney again this past weekend. I flew about 800km north to Lennox Head for a special birthday of a very good friend of very long standing. It was a wonderful party - open house for the afternoon with lots of good food and many friends, neighbours and family. Not everything about getting older is wonderful, but such birthday celebrations are. This one reflected the richness of many of the experiences and contacts and interests and passions of my friend's past and present life. A life she's living well.

My daughter and grand-daughter came from Brisbane for the party so I had the added pleasure of catching up with them.

The Christmas before last I made a blanket for my grand-daughter using Frankie's ten stitch pattern. But she's grown since then and I thought I should enlarge the blanket to match her growth. I found an extra two skeins of the Noro Taiyo yarn, unpicked the 10 cast off stitches and started knitting around and around again.

Ten stitch shawl

This is such a fun blanket, but I don't think I'll enlarge it again. It's already at a stage where two skeins of yarn added only a round of knitting and a bit. Even I tire of garter stitch eventually.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Time away

I think we all now realise that there were problems with 'Blogger' last week. Fortunately, I didn't lose any posts as some people did, but I did lose several comments on the previous post. Apologies to all those commenters whose words have become lost in the mists of the cloud.

Last weekend I spent a very, very enjoyable extended weekend in Canberra with a good friend, (who's already blogged, with great photos, about our excursion). Both of us live in apartments near the city centre - just around the corner from each other, though on opposite sides of a major railway line. We're both very much inner-city dwellers, but despite (or maybe because of) that, the conversation on our drive to and from Canberra was mostly of the 'look at the patterns the trees are making!', 'isn't the grass a wonderful silvery-yellow colour?' and 'the contrasts of the autumn leaves are so rich' variety. In other words, we enjoyed escaping the city.

Normally it takes somewhere between three and four hours to drive from Sydney to Canberra but we stopped about halfway at 'historic' Berrima (est 1831) for coffee with a fellow knitter and a browse in Berrima's interesting shops. Berrima's shops cater mainly to the whims and desires, rather than needs, of city people visiting at the weekends. I don't know where in Berrima you could buy your daily groceries, but I do know that you could buy a painting, or hand-bound books, or fine pottery, or country-style antiques very easily. Even though I've been to Berrima many times, I'd never visited Peppergreen Antiques - what a loss! You could spend a whole day in this rambling storehouse of wonders, stacked floor to ceiling with beautiful or charming or just interesting things.

There are old kitchen and cooking utensils, china and cutlery, patchwork quilts, damask tablecloths, linen sheets, embroidered teatray covers and pillowcases, and shelf upon shelf of the old-fashioned eiderdowns of my childhood. The shop not only has wonderful objects, but it seems to have accumulated every interesting shop fitting that became available as other stores closed, and so everything is beautifully and enticingly displayed.

ribbonspatchworkbuttons and handthreadsquiltsbuttons

I was most engaged by the buttons and ribbons and textiles and what used to be called sewing 'notions'. I rummaged through the many button collections and found my great prize - some slightly mismatched glass buttons that I will use for the 'Audrey' cardigan I'm knitting from madelinetosh yarn in a colour called 'silver fox'.

glass buttons

We did eventually tear ourselves away from all these wonders to finish the trip to Canberra for the main purpose of our trip - the Celebration of Wool at the Old Bus Depot Markets. But as always happened with such trips, the things that happened alongside the main purpose of the visit gave even more pleasure than the main objective of the trip. We met up with other knitting friends, met people who I hope will become new knitting friends, drank coffee and had interesting and good communal meals. And, of course, just admired the Canberra gardens and street plantings which, even towards the end of Autumn, are so variously colourful.

And so to the markets:

OBD Market

Just in case this photo should lead you think the markets were absolutely deserted, we did arrive extremely early, while stalls were still being set up and before most of the shoppers gathered. This also meant we had first choice at some of the yarn stalls, which was a particular advantage at Wooldancer's stall where she had a small but beautifully dyed selection of yarns. I bought the richly old rose coloured fingering weight yarn in the pic below:

yarn purchase

My purchasing was very restrained (well, at least in the yarn department - I did buy some lovely silver earrings). Apart from the old rose sock wool, my only other yarn purchase was the skein of deep brown sock yarn pictured above that I bought from Fibrewebs. I never find myself attracted to brown yarns, but I often wish I had some handknitted brown socks, so I was finally able to be rational and buy some brown yarn to achieve the brown socks.

But I think the most wonderful yarn acquisition of the weekend was not purchased - it was a gift from 1funkyknitwit of a skein of her superb corespun yarn. I can't stop thinking about how to knit it up and how wonderful it will be to wear.


We pottered back to Sydney with a detour via the southern highlands town of Bowral with yet another wonderful lunch and a rummage through the town's shops where, among other pleasures, I spent significant time marvelling at some Sophie Digard crochet and textile creations that were for sale, but beyond my means to purchase.

The trip was time out from the everyday. Lots of wonderful images, textures, and companionable friendship.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


I imagine that when non-knitters think about knitting they see it as a solitary occupation. And to some extent, they're right: one of the advantages of knitting is that it can be used to occupy oneself when alone. But one of the unexpected pleasures of knitting is that it's also very companionable, as many women's crafts have been across time.

The knitting group I think of as my local group meets on Thursday evenings at the Morris and Sons yarn store in the city. It's convenient for people to straggle to as they finish work and easy to reach by public transport. When the shop closes around 7.00pm we adjourn to a nearby hotel for drinks and sometimes meals. There's a core of people who usually or frequently attend, but others who come and go. We often have visitors from overseas or other Australian towns and cities attending, and we have people who crochet or embroider as well as knitters. There's a range of skill and experience levels, preferences and interests, and the main delight is its easiness; its companionability.

Recently, one of our members became pregnant and then, unsurprisingly, told us she was returning to the USA for work and to be with her family. So the knitting group decided to make a blanket for her baby. We bought Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino in watery shades of blue and green as the mother and father to be are both marine biologists, and shared the yarn among us. We were really pushed for time and so some of us gathered very companionably at A Coffee and a Yarn over the Easter holidays to sew up the patches.

Rachel's blanket 2
Rachel's blanket 3
Rachel's blanket 4

There were plain patches, those with repetitive patterns, some stripey patches to use up ends of the yarn, and some wonderful patches with watery motifs - an octopus, sea horses, starfish, and even the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. We were so pleased with the finished blanket...

and so was Rachel when we gave it to her.

Thanks to MissFee for this final photo

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


* Since posting several weeks ago about my ambitions for travel I've been to Orange, to Mount Keira and then, this last weekend, to Brisbane. Next weekend I'm off to Canberra for, among other diversions, the Celebration of Wool at the Old Bus Depot Markets, and then a couple of weeks later I'll be visiting Lennox Head for a good friend's significant zero birthday celebrations. You'd think that would be enough travelling to satisfy even me, but my travelling friend Jan and I are also plotting a more serious bout of travel - ie outside Australia - in mid-June. More of that nearer the departure date

* I've been to Brisbane to celebrate my grand-daughter's fourth birthday. I think four must be the perfect age for a birthday party. The guests were Ana Maria's classmates from kindie (and assorted accompanying parents) and they were both old enough and young enough to find it fun to play happily on the playground equipment of the excellent park in which the party was held. They all came proudly in their dress-up clothes - Snow White, Cinderella(s), Batman, variations on fairies, cloaks, tutus.

party dress

They're not yet old enough to be competitive and critical and sufficiently old enough to enjoy, unselfconsciously, masks and spangles and tiaras. My daughter had done just enough organisation - choosing a great location, food in individual party boxes for the children, cheese and fruit for the grown-ups - and we had perfect weather and absolutely no accidents, mishaps, arguments or tears. A great success.

And I've decided to include a completely gratuitous picture of Ana Maria in her Playful Stripes cardigan, finished earlier this year.

Ana Maria and bubbles 2

* It's a long time since I've enjoyed a knitting project as much as my current Different Lines shawl. Everything about it is perfect. Yet another garter stitch project, but with interest added through the short-row shaping to produce stripes of graded width. The yarn is particularly luxurious - an alpaca / silk blend from Old Maiden Aunt Yarns that I bought from Loop in London on my visit early last year. The yardage on each skein of yarn is less than ideal for this project but, with stern blocking, I think the finished size will be adequate.

striped shawl 2

* One of the benefits (sometimes disadvantages) of my blog is that it enables me to keep track of my reading. I'm somewhat ashamed of my recent reading. Of the last ten books I've noted, nine are crime fiction. Good crime fiction but, nevertheless, definitely escapist reading. I'm a seasoned practitioner of escapist reading so I can't imagine I will ever really change this reading pattern, but I am going to make a serious attempt to broaden my reading. So I'm making a public resolution - no more crime fiction till I've read at least ten books of other genres.

* I've done a bit of clothes-buying - but more about that on my next 12 in 11 update.

Friday, May 6, 2011

A rosy (knitting) future

This is a quick post just to satisfy RoseRed's curiousity about the yarn I bought at Knit Camp last weekend.

Red yarn

As I was photographing it, I was surprised to see just how rosy it looks, all together. Some beautiful Rowan Summer Tweed in a squashed raspberry colour (Rowan has named it 'smoulder', but I prefer 'squashed raspberry), 2 balls of the now discontinued Regia sock yarn in one of the Kaffe Fassett colour-ways (as if I didn't have enough sock yarn) and two skeins of Lang Jawoll Magic in a mixture of pink and burgundy and brown and black and yellow and... I used the Lang Jawoll in a scarf I finished recently but haven't yet blogged about - it's waiting to be blocked - and loved its softness and long colour runs.

I'm a relatively slow if constant knitter and probably have enough yarn for at least a significant part of the rest of my knitting life. But there's always something that's new or beautiful or a good buy or about to be discontinued. There's always an excuse for yarn buying.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Grace and hilarity

Sometimes events go well because they've been planned and executed meticulously. And sometimes events go well because even though they've been planned and executed very well, circumstances beyond anyone's control intervene and everybody responds spontaneously and with good grace. Knitting Camp last weekend at Mt Keira definitely fell into the second category.

Over the last few months we've had lots and lots of rain. Last weekend was no exception. On Friday, a number of us drove to Wollongong and Mt Keira through constant gusts of rain - with the excitement along the way of needing to squeeze by a large tree that had fallen across the road in the National Park we passed through. One of the usual highlights of knitting camp is sitting outside in the autumn sunshine, knitting while surrounded by the amazing, densely green vegetation of the camp. On Friday and Saturday we resigned ourselves to knitting inside, just glimpsing the surrounds as we dashed with umbrellas between meals and knitting and bed.

Mt Keira 1

On Saturday afternoon - crisis! The camp lost its electricity and because of some rather eccentric arrangements for the supply, it was unable to be restored. But knitters are resourceful people. While the camp organisers scrambled to acquire a portable generator, and gas cylinders for cooking our meals, the knit campers knitted - moving to the verandah to chase the fading daylight and eventually knitting by torchlight and headlamps and camping lamps supplied by nearby friends and family. Webgoddess had brought her ukelele and we even had knitting singalong. Some great moments.

There was a best ever knitting trivia quiz. I never think of myself as competitive until I become involved in such activities and realise that I want to win. My group didn't win - even though we cheated we were overtaken at the last minute by a group who were unfairly advantaged by having two knitting store workers as members.

Sunday, finally, was sunny, with the view from the mountain revealed.

Mt Keira 2

But knit camp is ultimately about knitting and the companionship of knitters who, on this occasion, dealt with the less than perfect circumstances with a combination of grace and hilarity. I suspect there was much unravelling of knitting when the results of knitting in the dark were revealed.

Hands 11Hands 4Hands 3Hands 8Hands 7Hands 9Hands 1Hands 6

Huge thanks to Christine, Kerry and Rae from CR&K Daisy Designs who organised the camp and remained calm and cheerful under the most trying circumstances - and put together a great trivia quiz.

Visit here for another account of camp.

Acknowledgment to Probably Jane whose idea I stole for the pictures of the hands.

And yes, I did buy yarn.

Monday, May 2, 2011

12 in 11: April

I've bought no items of clothing in April. The only addition to my wardrobe was the pair of socks in my previous post. But this month it wasn't virtue and restraint that limited my purchasing, it's just that I couldn't find anything to buy that seemed worth using up one of my precious clothing items for the year. I guess this is a victory of a kind.

I must confess I would like to have some new clothes. With cooler weather I've been revisiting my cooler weather clothes and realising just how old and worn some of them are. I have a couple of much loved jumpers that I need to re-darn - that is, repair previous repairs. Yesterday I was wearing a top that I must have bought around 1996. If ever anyone comments on my clothing I seem to respond - 'it's so old...I've had it for ages.' Even though this is true, I must stop saying this as it's rather dismissive of the comment or compliment. But I do think I'd like to have something new.

So, still 10 items of clothing for 2011. I doubt I'll get to the end of May without some purchases.