Sunday, August 30, 2015

just make up your mind already

The Royal Melbourne Show deadline for submissions is looming ever closer, and despite my firm intention of focusing and getting mine complete I seem to have made very little progress.

The fact that I have changed my idea for the socks entry not once but twice since then has most likely not aided this endeavour.

I read two very good blog posts about Show entries and judging criteria over at needle and spindle recently that made me rethink the Torrent socks as candidates for my entry in the sock category.  The openness of the lacework on this pattern is beautiful in my opinion, but I can see how that might be judged lower due to potential suitability for use as intended?  I will finish them for myself and am already so happy with the colour, yarn and pattern combination, but decided to quickly start an alternative for the Show.

Gladys is a free sock pattern that caught my eye and seemed like a good candidate.  The pattern replicates aran ganseys (practical) and looked easy to knit up during the daily commute (convenient!).  So I grabbed some of my stash of Lang Jawoll 75/25, which is a wonderful, sturdy sock yarn (suitable) and cast on.  

It was all going swimmingly - I was liking the gauge of this yarn on 2.25mm needles very much - until I started the gansey pattern.  Whilst I love the marled effect of the yarn and I'm not perturbed by it diffusing the patternwork a little, I started to worry again that it would be judged down for this?  I persevered for a bit longer but finally decided, no; it wasn't the best choice.   

So back I went to my collection of sock patterns, and I have finally settled on Denmark, from Nancy Bush's beautiful book 'Knitting on the Road'.  It's a lovely Viking-esqe cable pattern, with a single round of nupps just after the completion of the ribbing on the cuff.


The pattern calls for sportweight on 3.25mm, but looking at the stitch count I felt confident that I could use fingering weight with 2.5mm and still have them fit my foot well.  I'm using Patonyle, because you can't get more "Australian sock" than Patonyle, and so far I'm very happy.  I think I've finally settled, but now I need to hope I can get them completed by September 9th!

Update on the other items - the shawl edging is nearly at the halfway mark, but the tea cosy remains un-seamed and un-pompom-ed.  I obviously enjoy the stress of last-minute flurries...

Sunday, August 16, 2015

WIP's everywhere

I've got a bevvy of half finished projects surrounding me at the moment, most with deadlines closing in and of course I'm sitting here browsing Ravelry.

Royal Melbourne Show entries are due early September and all three of my proposed entries are all well under way but all at that point of the project where I need to knuckle down if I'm to get them completed in time.

I'm onto the border of the Hansel hap, which should be a good thing but unfortunately it's now of a size that makes it difficult to knit on the train.  The border is knit on sideways which means short rows and lots of turning of the project.  I get myself tangled up on the couch, let alone on a peak hour train.  So it's confined to evening knitting time currently and there hasn't been much time for that sadly. 

The tea cosy just needs to be seamed and have a pompom made and attached.  It's probably the least of my worries but I am concerned about the pompom.  My yarn is limited and I don't have any room for error if it doesn't go right so I think I'm procrastinating.

Finally, the socks have reached the dangerous "second-sock-syndrome" zone.  I finished the first on Thursday but ignored my own cardinal rule about immediately casting on the second and now here it is Sunday and if I don't get my act together they won't be ready for tomorrow's train ride.

I am rather liking the pattern though.  It's Torrent, from Tin Can Knits and anyone who knows me can tell you how much I enjoy their patterns.  The yarn is from Fiberific!; it's the Sunflower base but there wasn't a colourway listed on the ball band.  I picked it up last year at Bendigo Sheep and Wool and it's a very lovely match with the pattern, don't you think?

I also cast on another Woolamai, this one in a chartreuse colourway.  You can read more about that over on the Whisky Bay Woollens journal, if you're interested.

I think I really need to get focused!

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Passion project

I've been working quietly behind the scenes on a bit of a passion project for nearly 2 years,  and I'm now so excited to tell you that my new venture - Whisky Bay Woollens - has gone LIVE today!

I was looking for a new creative outlet and whilst knitting other people's patterns and designs is awesome; I wanted more.  It came at a time when I was really investigating my environment and the organic conclusion was to combine the two elements and turn my hand to knitwear pattern designs.

Over my years of knitting, I have worked with so many different variances of yarn but when it comes down to it, I have realised I love woolly wool.  The rustic, rugged textures combined with it's properties of tactile properties make my heart sing.

I have also always loved texture in knitting, and have often spent days just playing with different stitch pattern combinations just to see what they look like.

'Oceanside' is the first of what I hope will be quarterly releases of collections of knitting patterns.  It's the summation of how I have been influenced by the environment I have submersed myself in for the last decade and a half, and my growth as a knitter over that same time.  It's wild and woolly and beautiful, and i think it has a colour palette that is an expression of natural harmony.

Squeaky Beach fingerless mitts
The first collection includes three accessory patterns - a cowl, a pair of fingerless mitts, and a close-fitting beanie.  All three are named after beaches that have influenced me in one way or another, and are close to my heart.

Balnarring textured cowl
I've aimed to use a variety of yarns that create a tactile response from the knitter, an awareness of how the combination of yarn and textural stitches plays a big part in the pleasure of knitting handmade items..

Woolamai chevron beanie

All three patterns are now available for sale via Ravelry, and full details can be found both there and on the website.

I'm so thrilled to share them with you, and hope you enjoy them as much as I have enjoyed their creation.

Friday, July 24, 2015

It fits!

Daelyn is finally dry after nearly a week on the racks.  

I haven’t been home much this week so the heater hasn’t been on a lot, and this combined with the cold front Melbourne has been experiencing meant it was a slower blocking process than normal but worth it.

The alpaca/wool blend has behaved itself beautifully, and I’m pleased to report my calculations and mods have worked just as anticipated.   The sleeves are possibly still a little short, but I want to wear it for a day to see if they grow with wear (thanks to Casual Corporate Friday, I was able to wear it to work today so this will be a good test!).  It’s an easy fix if they do need a little extra length, as they are knit top-down and I have about a ¼ of a skein left over.  Actually, I have 1 and ¼ skeins left over.  I can’t believe I managed to get this whole jumper out of less than 4 skeins of the Berroco Ultra Alpaca worsted? 

As a design, this jumper is a bit over-sized for a lovely slouchy fit and carries a little longer length than I normally choose.  I knit the M2 size, which has a finished bust measurement of 41” and gives me 3” of positive ease. Although there’s ease in the chest, there is some very clever use of short rows shaping on the neckline and raglan shaping that ensure the shoulders fit beautifully.  Short rows are also used again at the hem to accommodate the different row gauge of the garter stitch detail on the back which is a clever touch.

Isabell Kraemer is a favourite designer of mine.  She has a simple aesthetic but often adds subtle textural details or clever construction elements that really make her patterns very wearable and stylish. 

The yarn is lovely and soft against the skin and I’m still in love with the colour and texture of it.  I’m wearing it with just a singlet underneath today and not only am I toasty warm, there’s no prickly or irritation.  I love woolly wool, but I am prone to eczema and often find straight wool too prickly to wear next to skin.  I wear it, but I have to make sure there’s cotton layer in-between me and it and sometimes in a worsted weight jumper that’s a bit too warm so this was a welcome discovery this morning as I dressed for work.

This is just a quick lot of photos from my lunch break today, but I'll try to do a proper photoshoot on the weekend so I can show you some of the lovely details of this pattern.  I'm still trying to capture the colour, as you can see.  I will get there, I swear. 

So overall, I’m calling this project a totally success.  Now to plan my next sweater…

Monday, July 20, 2015

with bated breath..

I'm always nervous about the first blocking of a garment, but never more so that when there is alpaca involved.

Alpaca fleece makes a beautiful, luscious yarn with lovely drape and a buttery handle.  It also lacks the "memory" of wool, and is well-known for it's tendency to stretch and sag...not ideal when knitting a garment and unless you're aware and make allowances, you're more likely to end up with a knitted dress than a jumper.

My Daelyn came off the needles this afternoon and has just come out of it's first bath.  I used Berocco Ultra Alpaca worsted for this project which is a 50/50 wool-alpaca blend, hence my nerves. I was as careful as I could be during the whole process and it now is carefully laid flat to dry. 

It fit beautifully across the shoulders and chest when I tried it on before dunking it.  The sleeves and body were a little on the short side, which was deliberate on my behalf to accommodate for the drop of the alpaca.  I'm remaining ever hopeful that the combination of shortening the length and the inclusion of 50% wool in the yarn will be enough to balance the finished proportions.

Until it dries though, I will just have to hold my breath and hope. 

(and I think this is the closest to accurate colour as I'm ever going to get with this jumper!)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

so close redux

So, you may have been expecting some sunny, picturesque holiday shots, hey?  

I was *this close* to making it to Bali, but unfortunately Mt Ruang had other ideas.  The volcanic ash cloud that had grounded flights the week before shifted closer to Denpasar airport and on Thursday, it shut down the airport altogether.

You may have seen on the news stories of all the stranded people who's holidays have extended not in the best way; sleeping at the airport, running out of money, medication, annual leave...

As I was packing on Friday (for a 9am Saturday flight) and trying to remain optimistic, the email I'd been dreading came through.  The organisers of the yoga retreat I was going to were stuck in Melbourne after their flights were cancelled and with no way of getting on another flight.  They advised they had made the tough decision to cancel the retreat.

I just closed my suitcase and stared at it, numb.  This trip was the first one I'd ever made solo and it was my "take-a-risk" trip, planned with the intent of trying to shake me out of my comfort zone and reclaim my independence, self-confidence and positivity after what has been a tough 9 months.

Once the initial shock passed I actually surprised myself with how well I took it.  Yes, there was disappointment - of course.  Who wouldn't be disappointed when at the eleventh hour a trip you've planned for, saved for, and finally got excited for, is cancelled?  I had already begun to feel the warm tropical air on my skin and was looking forward to meeting new people and being immersed for a short time in another world.

The thought did pass through my mind "Why me?  Why can't I get something good for once, for something to just go right?"

But I had an epiphany that came through so strong and clear, it actually floored me.

This didn't happen to me, it happened,  There's a difference.  This wasn't the Universe trying to punish me, it was just an incident of nature and in that instant; I was at peace with it.  I immediately began to see all the other things that could open up for me by not going to Bali.

Thankfully, I have good insurance and it does cover natural disasters.  I've been in touch with them and apart from a $250 excess, I think I'm covered.  The retreat organiser have been amazing and helpful too.  They immediately let us know they'd be refunding the workshop costs, but initially they didn't think they were going to be able to get the accommodation costs refunded and were advising us to add it to our insurance claim, however later in the day they sent another email advising they had been able to negotiate a nearly-full refund from the resort. Legends!

Garuda are giving full refunds on flights cancelled due to the ash cloud, so that's covered, and my return flight with Jetstar will be covered by insurance.   So all in all, I really won't be out of pocket significantly, and the way I look at it I now have a healthy looking holiday fund, ready for the next trip.

Which I've decided will be Byron Bay in October, to help a dear friend celebrate her 40th.  A week of hanging with a few women I simply adore, surfing, eating, drinking and relaxing.  I might even squeeze in a bit of yoga.

Life.  It ain't all bad.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

so close

Just dropping in here for a quick post today, before I head overseas.  I'm off to Bali this week for a yoga retreat, and a bit of much needed R&R.  It's going to be so lovely to warm up the bones.  

Since my last post, I have been taking my Daelyn jumper as my train knitting each day.  It's not really all that portable anymore, but It is so close to being finished and I can't wait to get it off the needles and be able to wear it, especially with the weather we've been having in Melbourne - brr!   5 degrees Celsius this morning as I walked from the train station to work.  
I've been reading accounts from Northern Hemisphere bloggers about the current heatwave they are experiencing, as I wrap another blanket around me and tuck my toes in to stay warm and count down the sleeps to my holiday.

But before I go, I would love to have this jumper finished.  Half a sleeve and the neckband to go, then I can block it and leave it to dry while I'm away.  It's totally a plan.

I'm still loving this colour, even if it is a right PITA to photograph accurately.  Not even natural light and a mid-grey background helped today.  My foot was there to try and get a different light-meter reading, to see if that would help but no such luck.

Here's hoping I can get a better shot of the finished piece.  I may have to employ a professional, I think...

Aside from Daelyn, I've not got much else in the way of knitting that I can share at the moment. If you follow me on Instagram (@kgirlknits) you may have seen a recent sneak peak of a project I've been working on though.  I'm hoping that shortly after I get back from Bali I will be able to reveal a little more of this goodness.   It's all so very exciting and I can't wait to share!

So, until then -  hope you all stay warm in the Southern Hemisphere and for those in the North - I hope the heat breaks soon.

(I'll try not to flood Instagram with sunny Bali photos but I make no real promises)