Thursday, July 31, 2008

Normal knitting resumes

I do enjoy knitting baby things. I have been blessed to have had four of my own babies to knit for at one time or other and plenty of friends who are happy to receive anything I may choose to knit.
This delightful pattern from Sirdar is just about finished, (photo tomorrow if the weather improves). I love Sirdar yarn, it's so soft, and it goes a very long way, the 4ply covers 226 metres. They also do some very pretty solid colours.
I've made the cardigan for my Friend Celeste whom I first knew in the UK, when we were both in hospital waiting for our babies to arrive, my 4th her 1st. Celeste now lives in Australia and gave birth yesterday to her third child a baby daughter called Xanthe. It's partly due to her I'm in NZ but more on that another time.
I have finished all the knitting but need to sew it up and add buttons, then it will wing its way to Australia

In between baby knitting I have just read the next instalment of The Number 1 Ladies Detective agency book. It is a quick read, as delightful as all the previous ones. Mma Ramaotswe is like an old friend and it is satisfying to follow the further developments in her life. I have also just read Thanks For the memories by Cecelia Ahern author of PS I love YOu. This novel tackles the idea of how maybe memories could be tranferered via a blood tranfusion. An interesting topic that is handled in a senstitive manner with lots of humour thrown in. Maybe not as powerful as PS but ultimately readable.
Hope everyone's having a great week.
Friday tomorrow Yay.
I have a tag to complete and a couple of swaps to show but it's getting late so I'll leave if for another day.

Monday, July 28, 2008

An award and another sewing project

Kathy at Lizziejane gave my this award. I am really pleased that my humble little blog should bring a smile to some one's face.

Now I get to Pay the award forward to another five brilliant bloggers.

These five bloggers also light up my day and I look forward to visiting their blogs. Here are the rules that go with this award:
1. Isobel
2. Michelle
3. Jackie
4. Vicki
5. Queen Frog
So the rules are as follows
1) You have to pick 5 blogs that you consider deserve this award, creativity, design, interesting material, and also contributions to the blogger community, no matter what language.

2) Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.

3) Each award winner has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award itself.

4) Award-winner and the one who has given the prize have to show a link to the “Arte y pico” blog , so everyone will know the origin of this award.

5) To show these rules.

I came home from work early. I just couldn't settle to anything while the bag buzzed around in my head. I wanted to get it stitched up so badly. I was desperate to take it with me for social knitting, as well as the wonderful bag that Josie made me. It's perfect. I won the material in a giveaway and because I am (still) stitching challenged she made it for me. What a star girl she is.
The bag doesn't quite look like the original. I got a bit confused with the lining fabric which was the same as my outside fabric, a mistake for a beginner believe me, so the handles have ended up inside instead of outside and I have some folded over bits inside which are probably not meant to be there, but I am happy with it. I also discovered that it is very easy to sew the wrong bit to something else. I thought a simple rectangle with handles would be tres easy. Hmmm, not quite. Still my first bag and it only took me a couple of hours to put together. I love it.

Peri supervised until the photo shoot he's trying to pretend that he's a bit bored with it all. Yeah right!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Bonding time

Well I must be well and truly hooked. Not one row did I knit to today. Ophelia was left wilting in the basket even though I'd planned to wear her on Monday so need to finish the back. Other projects made pathetic attempts to catch my attention. At one point the whole box of yarn exploded in my face as I scrabbled about for a tape measure. I ignored them all and headed for the machine. Once a feared and revered object over the last week or so there is a slow thawing of tensions between us. I wouldn't say we are friends yet but things are definitely looking up.
Peri was a bit miffed at this interloper for my attentions and decided to be as helpful as he knew how. I think he was probably psyching the machine out, giving the needle a very stern look as it raced in and out of the fabric.

He then gave me a long hard look as if questioning my very sanity. After all I don't usually sit at the sewing machine on a Saturday morning. He was concerned for his own welfare. How was he suppose to sit on my lap while I played silly games with thread, fabric and a noisy monster? He was quite concerned. I however sewed merrily on until I ran out of thread.
The fruits of my morning's work

A pencil roll for my youngest Daisy. I am pretty pleased with it, but I think it might have needed something to make it a bit firmer, no idea what. I am pleased with the shape and the seams are pretty straight without any puckering this time. I have orders from the two other girls to make them pencil rolls too and I bought fabric when I was out getting more pink thread. However I don't want to make them until I figure out how to give it a bit of stability. Perhaps some sort of padding?

While out getting thread I also found a metre of grey rose fabric that I just saw immediately as a bag. It was on offer at $2.50. I cut the pieces out and ironed them and I'm itching to stitch it together but the light in the study isn't very good so I am making myself wait until after church tomorrow.

My idea for the bag came from celine Dupuy's book simple Sewing with a French twist. It will be a while before I can manage most of the projects in this book, but the bag called to me instantly. I love the cover.

This book tells you how to make Bohemian flip flops, cafe blinds, bistro place mats, a pencil case a la mode ( which I think might be next after the bag) and an artist's organiser.
It's so great to be able to finish a project in a day. Sewing is so quick even with the number of times I have to unpick a seam. I think I may have it bad.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Oh no! Now what have I started

I just knew I should have left well alone. Deep down I knew no good would come of meddling with machinery. Stitchery fun leads to dangerous ground. Please don't protest and claim it's all innocent, that no needles were harmed in the making of this garment, that pins were treated humanely and with respect. I have seen the other side and it's dark over there. I wanted to be kind and fair. I know I should have left them where they were. They were safe and happy, in familiar surroundings, comfortable with matching patterns and all manner of paraphernalia I have no hope of providing. Fabric is for ever not just a project.

But I was weak and I gave in. I bought them and brought them home and now they've been stuffed cruelly into a cupboard, wedged precariously between wool for three future projects, or maybe past projects that have sunk so low down the to-do list they've time warped back to the future. They may be there some time. They say the first step to coming to terms with an addiction is to admit it. Alright then I cannot hide the fact. I am guilty. I now have a fabric stash as well as a huge yarn stash. It's not good for the economy, I didn't need them, but I really couldn't help myself.
They were so pretty and I know what I'm going to do with them, one day.

And I just love the chalk marker that moves on a roller ball, and the felt will make wonderful applique won't it?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Drum roll please

Duddah, or sound effects to that effect. Look what I made.....A Crohcet Hook Roll.

I feel like doing a Dora the Explorer and shouting, "I did it, I did it, I did it yeah"

It was not without a fight, pins do not take kindly to being sewn into a hem but I just couldn't pull them out quickly enough and save my fingers. I survived and my fingers are intact but there are a few bent pins and a broken needle. The thread kept breaking but I am sure that's something to do with my ineptitude and not the machine's evil thoughts. It's not even half perfect, there are a few minor things ( and a few not so minor things) wrong, such as I forgot to allow material to flap over and a few seams are puckered or wonky. I was good though and unpicked anything that was dreadful. Several times. Luckily I had some extra helping hands to get me past the tricky bits.

Also thanks to Angry Chicken's Bend the Rules sewing book I made friends with my iron, another piece of equipment I avoid at all costs. It really helped me get the seams straight(ish).
I think I see now that the problem has lain in me finding a pattern, and going at it full pelt, but not actually doing any research on the mechanics or basic theory
as it were. I also skip ahead because I think I can see how it's suppose to work rather than taking my time and reading each step separately. I'm learning though that sewing is so quick you can afford to slow down a bit. I started this at 4pm, had dinner at 5pm and finished it at 7pm.
Thanks to the wonderful array of craftiness I have discovered in blogland I have been drawn to read and peruse books that hitherto have called to me in vain. Of course I don't think there's any danger of me taking over the sewing scene anytime soon so breathe a sign of relief everyone.
This was my first attempt and I have to say I am pretty darn pleased with how it went.

I am especially pleased with the fact I managed to attach the ribbon correctly.

The picture quality isn't great I should have waited until day time but I am on duty tomorrow which means staying overnight on the base and I would have to wait until Tuesday. That wasn't ever going happen.

Any further hints and tips before I tackle another Crochet roll but with my adorable cupcake fabric?
Hope everyone has a relaxing Sunday.
Enjoy next week

Saturday, July 19, 2008

What to do in a power cut?

Knit with these. Let's not allow a little thing like darkness put pay to a bit of creativity. Now when darkness strikes because of a power cut I can carry on with my knitting or my crocheting. These little beauties were some of the other purchases from our trip to Spotlight, I also bought a crochet hook.
I don't do a lot of crocheting but I have started a ripple blanket in Neapolitan Ice cream colours, pink, vanilla and chocolate. I am not doing even rows, just two or three as the mood takes me, and I'm trying to opt for a random sequence of the three colours. I need to do a bit more before I share progress, but I only work on it for about an hour on Sunday evenings so it will be a while before it's finished. Youngest daughter has already claimed it for her bed. She's seven now and I've told her to realistically expect it in time for her tenth birthday. I am being cautious and giving myself a big time frame.
I was reserved and only bought one crochet hook (the pink one which is a G or a 4.5mm) even though I was very tempted by the purple one as well but we'd already blow the budget. I bought a pair of needles as well (again the pink ones) but I am not entirely sure about the barrel on the end. It looks quite awkward adn chunky. My thinking is that in a power cut they would at least allow me to continue with my knitting and here in Auckland they can be quite regular. Has anyone else used these? I haven't seen them before but we usually limit our trips to Spotlight to the holidays so perhaps we just missed them before.

Another FO. I love getting things off the needles so I can hastily cast on for the next project. Even though I queue my projects generally when it's time to cast on something else has grabbed my imagination and off I go with that. I am supposed to start another one of these Tees for the middle daughter but I saw a pattern for a knitted book cover and that's jumped in instead. It should only take an evening or so to do and then I'll knit the other Tee.

I am quite happy with this adn eldest daughter is chuffed, it's a bamboo and cotton blend from Spotlight (their own brand) and it has a lovely silky feel to it. The colour wasn't our first choice but at $2.99 a ball, we were happy enough to compromise. It was a bit of a pain to knit in that it like to split if I sped up and at one point the tension went iffy. I also had to frog the back first time round and knit it half a size bigger as eldest daughter decided to grow. I could ahve waited a month I reckon and knitted a whole size more.

I wonder whether it would be more prudent to knit the next Tee at the larger size, then when Eldest grows again *an absolute cert, she can give hers to middle and have the bigger version. Would that work? Or will it cause more agro than it's worth?

We had a great day, rollerblading in the morning and playing stitch-opoly in the afternoon. It's a great game,exactly like Monoploy but with a bit more interest if you like stitchy things. I am blessed to have three crafty girls who enjoyed every moment.
Have a great weekend, I'm off to lose myself for a few days in Ravelry.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Game anyone?

Am I sucker or what? How could I resist such an offering? Well I couldn't, Stitch-opoly is a board game that will keep you "in stitches". I don't usually succumb to buying things that we don't need just because they look good. It's not that I have superb self control or a well developed sense of ethics. The truth is my purse can rarely afford it, but today when my eldest daughter came running up to me in spotlight brandishing a purple box and saying, actually yelling so that the other customers thought there must be a fire, "mum we have to get this" I was almost sold just because the box was purple.
Half sold already I turned over and read the blurb and then even the $49 price tag didn't cause more than a slight hiccup. Food is so over rated anyway, and it will be good for us to walk until next payday won't it? Just as well it's not that dire but I wouldn't usually be so frivolous.
The blurb says "stitch opoly is a new board game that lets stitchers share their love of needlework with their family and friends and have fun doing so!
You collect needlework techniques and become an expert stitcher by buying and trading different needlework stitches. Then build your own needlework studios and run your own needlework business.
Just make sure you don't pick the 'your stitching is not centered' game card or you'll have to go directly to 'pull out thread' without passing 'start stitching' and becareful not to lose your needle or you'll also lose a turn."
There wasn't time to do more than drool over the contents back home. Tomorrow we are off rollerblading in the morning and then we'll play in the afternoon, all my daughters are pretty excited at the prospect. I love it when pleasures are so simple and I can feel that I might just have a handle on this parenting lark. We did invite the big bad troll to join in but somehow I get the impression that it's not his game.
Anyone else fancy a game?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

25 years of Vogue

I found this in the library and have spent many hours happily dipping in and out of its pages. I was disappointed at first that there weren't any patterns in it, but then the articles were so interesting and I learnt a few things. I should have read the article on gauge before I made Ophelia, hehehe. I really enjoyed the articles on The History of Knitting and Nasty Knitters, A literary mix of knitting and mayhem. by Margaret Bruzelius. Well worth a browse if you come across it.

I wanted to read this a while ago but it was never in the library and then other books jumped in the queue. I was quite shocked to read that the author had died aged only 34 shortly before it was published. She died from complications following surgery. From what I've read she was a very unique person.

Knitting update for those who might think this is a knitting and reading blog. I have enjoyed being at home for some of the school holidays but I don't really get much knitting done.
I have just the hood and borders to finish on the baby sleeping bag and the capped sleeves on Eldest daughter's T-shirt from the Knit1 magazine eco edition. She's loving how it looks, but I can only see the imperfections that are caused by using bamboo and cotton. The yarn feels soft and yet is very keen to split and tension is a pain. I have to knit continental or it looks twisted, and then in places it is very loose. Hopefully once it's washed and blocked it will look better and as I'm more of a process knitter I don't really mind if the final piece isn't worn all that often.I am almost up to the armholes on Ophelia. It was very quick to knit a second time and I enjoyed it just as much as the first time round.
Thanks for all the suggestions for my fabric. I am going to attempt the crochet roll but need a day when the youngest is out so I can focus. If I try while she's home no doubt it will end up as a session for her and I will end up with an item that more closely resembles a dog's dinner. I also plan to have a dummy run with some fabric that is only headed for the bin anyway. That way if I muck it up I will learn from my mistakes but I won't have wasted my material.
I also plan to have a go at a book cover, but slowly does it.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A request and a first

Sewing and I do not go together, we are not like peaches and cream or love and marriage, we are most definitely not a match made in heaven. Every time I approach the sewing machine it is more like trouble and strife in big bold flashing letters, sirens blaring and everyone running for cover.
That said I continue to dream of being in harmony with my machine and of unleashing undreamt of creativity in the production of as yet unknown thingies.
So despite my untoward relationship with the sewing machine I am drawn to fabric like Pooh Bear to honey, and I have found the most utterly delightful fabrics.

Only one problem. What the heck am I going to do with them? This is the request part. I thought I could spend the next few million hours trawling the WWW which I believe is at least three time bigger that the real world, or I could ask the wealth of experience that I already know exists because I have seen your blogs and evidence of your own brilliant talents. What could I do with this fabric? What would you do with it?
Bear in mind a couple of points, sewing vocabulary is a new language to me, I know my ssk and Sk2tog but bias binding and mitre corners, they still need to be carefully explained.

It needs to be simple and I mean simple, almost foolproof, no, make that completely fool proof shall we say, easy to follow and quick. So ideas welcome. Thanks very much to Lisa for the crochet hook roll project. Hers is fabulous. I really like it and am keen to have a go at that when I can sew in a straight line.

Now for the first. I got my first award from
Sal. I am so excited and pleased. I started a blog as part of my role in the navy but then realised that I really enjoyed the online community and so began Born to read. I have always kept a journal but this is slightly different as there has always been the possibility of an audience. I still blog for me but it's a good feeling to know that others are getting something out of it too. An added bonus. So thank you.

Passing it on is tricky. I mean every blog I visit deserves one, but I do have to live a real life as well as the virtual one, so I will limit it to a few who never fail to delight, entertain and uplift.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Ophelia frogged.

Ophelia, a tragic woman who falls victim to men because of her own beauty and ends up dead. Perhaps there was a clue in the name given to this piece.

There was nothing for it. It wasn't a decision made lightly or easily, actually it was downright torturous but there's only so much stretching and pulling that yarn can endure before it has to be admitted. Only so many contortions of the torso and warping of bodily parts, can be physically endured, twisting this way and that all in vain. Ophelia didn't fit me. No matter which way I tugged or turned. It didn't even fit my 16 year old. Unbelievably, inconceivably, heartbreakingly the darn thing was too small. How could it be possible!! I was convinced aliens had been at mischief here. Or the knitting gremlins. It couldn't be my fault, no way.
However there was little evidence of kniting gremlins, nothing green and slimey in the vicinity. Even less evidence of aliens. The bright lights in the garden turned out to be the solar lamps. Perhaps my evil twin had done a swap, but then if she was my twin she'd be the same size. I was running out of options. There was nothing left but to admit I'd done something somewhere, and it was wrong.

I didn't want to admit that I have either put on a heap of weight since I started knitting it, and as I can't see behind me, there is the possibility that I am dragging around several more kilos than the front would suggest. It had to be tension. But I always do a tension square. Honest I do! Sometimes. If I can be bothered.
Ok I admit,I didn't check my tension. Why would I waste valuable knitting time making up a piece of knitting that I'm just going to measure. Why indeed!! Well I know now that had I spent half an hour with that swatch I wouldn't have spent several hours frogging my beautiful Ophelia, nor would I be about to spend several weeks re knitting it on larger needles. I could have cried. Really I could. It was so beautiful adn I was so looking forward to wearing it everywhere. The disappointment was only mildly offset by Galaxy chocolate which costs a bomb as it has to be imported and is only sold in specialist shops.
But this is not a blog to dwell on misfortune. I am all for positive thinking. I am positive it upset me, but equally positive that it will look lovely when I finish it for the second time.
Elsewhere in my universe we had a movie day at home yesterday. The kids all made tickets and boxes for the popcorn, while my drama queen prepared and performed the opening adverts and trailers for upcoming films. We then watched The Water Horse in as close to darkness as we could manage while the sun streaming in through the closed windows. I wasn't allowed to knit as the girls said I wouldn't be able to knit in the cinema. They relented about halfway through and then I could enjoy the film. It was a sweet little film. Not a powerful enough ending for me. I wanted more of a ahh moment. Still the kids all enjoyed it and that's the main thing.
Also finished the white baby blanket, Peri thinks it's his and was quite willing to be tester of comfort and softness.

He was most reluctant to give it back to me so I could wash and block it. I am very lucky to have such a helpful cat. Nothing it seems is too much trouble for him.
I did manage to distract him with an offer of food long enough to photgraph it and then wash it. Sitting on top are the wound up balls from Ophelia.

Finished reading Wit's end, but have to admit I didn't really understand the plot. There was some mystery surrounding the main character's father and the fictional character that was named after him, but I couldn't tell you what it was. I enjoyed reading the book, drawn in by the writing style and the hope that it would all make sense to me at some point. Perhaps I should have stuck to my chick lit.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Who will help me choose?

As mentioned in my previous post several projects are nearing completion, which means a lot of sewing up (yuk) and a lot of casting on (Yippee).
Ophelia was cast off last night and I am very pleased with it. It was a lovely pattern to knit, the lacy rib was so simple and yet looks beautiful. I used Serenity from Patons, which is a cotton and bamboo mix. It is so much nicer to use than straight bamboo but has a certain amount of drape and movement to it. Plus it feels so smooth and silky. It needs to be treated a little gently though, no rushing the stitches or it can split the yarn. Overall I am pleased with it, but wish I'd carried on a bit longer, I have a feeling that it is going to be quite short and I had visions of it falling gently and flatteringly over my hips. My 16 year old daughter has her beady eye on it, but I am not feeling generous. Ophelia still needs to be blocked lightly, the shoulder seams sewn up and then ribbon threaded through the holes, but which ribbon to choose.

I went into a haberdashery with my knitting to be greeted by a most unhelpful and downright rude shop assistant who snapped at me with a very terse " you'll never match that colour. I suggest you try silver or black" Hmmm. I didn't stay long. Just as well or my normally good manners might have deserted me and that would never do. Clearly the saleswoman hadn't received customer service training or perhaps she doesn't like selling the things in her shop. I went next door to Wild and woolly where Fran has about 10 ribbons to choose from but she had the greeny grey ribbon which is a pretty close match I think. I was tempted to nip back to the first shop, blow a bit fat raspberry and wave the ribbon under her nose, but everyone knows I'm in the navy so she might have complained.
The third shop yielded the brown and cream ribbon so now the dilemma is which is best.
Peri made a concerted effort to help me choose after studiously pretending he wasn't interested.

But I know my cat and caught him in the act.

Have a stack of books I want to get through, but it is the school holidays for the next two weeks and I only have 6 days official leave (the rest will be half days and working from home) so I might be doing a bit of wishful thinking here.

Wit's end has actually just come out here as The Case Of the Imaginary Detective. Wonder why the different title?

PS.The rat (Previous post) was pretty tame and apart from making the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and making my tummy feel decidedly fluttery whenever he moved it wasn't too bad. No way could I have coped it he'd been black or brown. But as far as my kids are concerned I was way cool for posing with him. look closely and you'll notice it's not so much a smile more like a frozen grimace.
I much prefer being pink cool.

Friday, July 4, 2008

What's in a name

What Alison Means

A is for Amazing

L is for Liberal

I is for Irresistible

S is for Sporty

O is for Outrageous

N is for Naughty

As you can see, I am pretty cool. I didn't even mind this rat on my shoulder. The ultimate fashion accessory for next season perhaps. So close to finishing several knitting projects that there isn't time for a proper post. Thanks to everyone for their comments and emails. I love visiting your blogs

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Positive attitude and pink scooters

I am naturally optimistic. I can't help it. For me the glass is always half full and I will try to see the bright side of things. I guess it gets a bit much when I do my Julie Andrews during a thunderstorm impression but until they invent a cure I am stuck with being upbeat. I have had a roller coaster life but somehow even as I was clinging on for dear life, the chasm beneath me and dragons breathing fire on all sides, I always knew it would be alright. Not perfect, often not what I thought I wanted (or knew I wanted, I could be happy in a mansion with a pool, I know I could)but alright. Looking back on some of the major events of my life I wonder how many happened because of my attitude and how many would have happened anyway. Are we just subject to random acts of luck, are some people just in the right place at the right time, or do we somehow attract things to us. I think attitude has to count for something right. I mean if you sit at home hiding your head under the pillow, mostly no-one comes looking for you. Mr opportunity never does. He heads off in the opposite direction. What do you think?
Had half a day off work yesterday after a trip to have my coil removed and DH treated me to this cute key chain.

I was drooling over the wellies,

but I guess the key chain is more appropriate. It is the exact shade and shape of my first scooter. My new one is a bigger badder version. More power and while it's still pink the guys who spray painted her headed towards the purple. I still love her though.
Also thought this was pretty sweet.

As requested the photos of my pink scooters. This was my first a sweet little V moto Milan. Really loved this but it wasn't fast enough to go over the Harbour Bridge and so limited my travelling options.

I then saw this Honda Forza but it was white. I jokingly said I would buy it if it were pink and the garage offered to Spray it for me. It's not quite the pink I wanted even though I gave them the old one to match it to, but still it's pink enough.