Thursday, August 28, 2008

Confessions of a knitting lush...

I have many passions, knitting is one of the biggest, but another is cooking & entertaining, especially wine appreciation. I have quite a healthy wine cellar tucked away & I try to keep up to date with new & exciting wines. In a former life BC (before children) I used to run a thriving wine club, write wine reviews for the local radio station & a webzine, I even had an article published in a cutting edge Australian wine magazine. These days I have had to cut back my involvement, now I keep up to date with some of my favourite producers & clear out the cellar every few months of so of bottles that need 'attention'.
One of my great indulgences is to sit down in the evening after the boys' have been put to bed, enjoy a glass or two (or sometimes three...) of a good wine over dinner with Dr. Phil, then pick up the knitting & quietly enjoy two of my favourite things. For those that know me well, they also know I rate projects I have in the queue based on how much I can drink before the knitting starts to suffer, ie a three glass project might be a simple singlet or vest for the boys through to a zero glass project which encompasses most lace work, complex arans or fair aisle, basically anything that would require a chart! Needless to say more aran & lace projects were completed whilst I was pregnant & it has been quick simpler projects since I have been 'back on the wagon' as it were.

To that end I have great respect to those designers that produce such stunning projects using beautiful colour work or cable patterns, things I am more than capable of knitting. I have even more repsect for those knitters who dedicate their time to knitting these zero glass projects. For me however, I find myself steering away from zero glass projects more & more, in favour of those that let me indulge in my other passion, do you think I should set up a group called "knitting lushes anonymous"? Nah, I'll just pour myself another glass of wine!

Pictured is my friend Andy's Gold Medal winning Hihi Malbec with balls of Jo Sharp Kid Lustre Alpaca aptly named 'vintage'

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A Monster in my closet...

As a child I used to have the terrifying fear of a wolverine under the bed & a monster in the closet, stemming I am sure from Maurice Sendaks 'Where the Wild Things Are', all I remember is that I was bloody terrified for years on cold dark windy nights on what was lurking in dark places beneath.
So when we completed recent kitchen & living room alterations the opportunity came to be able to create oodles of open closet space of anything I desired. So Louis got a cupboard completely dedicated to all his toys, all my kitchen gadgets now had a home, a 3 bay 'office garage' was created, baby cupboard to get rid of all those nappies & other baby paraphernalia that can litter a room & finally a closet for my precious yarn.

Up until now all the yarn was squeezed into plastic storage tubs under a table behind the couch & more ominously under the bed. Often the stash would grow & new projects would only be generated by recent purchases, as I was too scared to venture to face the woolly monster morphing under the bed, it had to stop. It was time to face my fears & the time was now. When the kitchen designer inquired at why I needed a bank of such large cupboards I stood steadfast, my yarn must have a home.

So the day fatefully came, closets were installed, I had been to my friends at the yarn mill & got yarn bags, it was time to face my monster. I was 9 months pregnant with Hugo & had been having contractions on & off for days, my Mum was trying to convince me that this job could wait. It could not wait, it was time to face my fear. As the yarn was gathered, balls were sorted into weights & the colour lots, bagged up, labelled. Treasures rediscovered as if it was the very first time.

The result - a stash closet I am proud of. A place I show off to all my friends when they visit to see the completed alterations (all the non knitters think I am bonkers!). I am now able to visit the closet & find exactly what I am looking for. I have completed a number of projects from yarns once thought lost (despite me still buying at the same rate as before!!) & as you can see from the previous post I am even tackling my long term knitting nemesis - Dr. Phil's' UFO.
As the website often asks - are you fearless? YES I AM!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

It's a UFO Dr. Phil but not as we know it!

I pride myself at being a finisher - you know a person who starts a task & takes pride in finishing it. I usually can quite proudly say "I do not have completion issues!". That is until you hit upon that one dirty knitted skeleton in my stash closet. It came out to bite me in the arse today when I proudly dressed baby Hugo in his new knitted singlet & Dr. Phil (husband) says "So whatever happened to that jumper you were knitting for me?"

Arrrgh! I have been exposed, beam me up Scotty. I can't pretend it doesn't exisit, it's sitting all neatly bagged up in the recently refurbished stash cupboard awaiting in great expectation for it's final completion. I just haven't had the desire to finish it. It's not that I don't like knitting things for Dr. Phil, I just haven't liked knitting this. It was started when I was pregnant with Louis (son #1) at the end of 2005, a UFO for over 2 years!! I have have several cracks at trying to shake this nemesis, but each time it just keeps coming back to gnaw away at me.

So there it was this morning, my glory of the newly finished baby project shattered as the shadow of the UFO jumper sat hovering like a dark cloud. There is just one thing for it, I have now removed the project from the safe haven of the stash cupboard, it has now been photographed, entered on as my current 'wip' (work in progress) & now I have aired my dirty laundry here, all in a last ditch attempt to compel myself to dispell this UFO into history & keep my reputation as a finsher intact.

Watch this space.....

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Beanies for Babies

Mel Clark from had a fabulous blog a few weeks about the virtues of dressing our wee babes in natural fibres. As a mother to 2 boys myself, I am a HUGE proponent of natural knits for them. Mel has been asking for donations of beanies for babes & she has a midwife to help distribute them. I have contributed 5 from a pattern I have knitted for my own boys & here it is:

This is the perfect project for using up all those left over odds and ends of colourful DK you have littering the bottom of your knitting bag, it’s an easy colour pattern which give a fair isle effect.

To Fit: NB - 3 months
Materials: Main colour (MC) = equivalent to 25gm. Contrast A & B = enough to do 6 rows across 75 sts , 4mm needles, 4mm dbl pointed needles, wool needle for sewing up side seams.

Tension: 22 sts & 30 rows to 10cm over stocking st using 4mm needles. Use this as a loose guide only – this is an easy fit garment & all babies sizes vary, so if you find the fit too large, drop down to a 3.25mm needle, if too small add extra length.

Abbreviations: k = knit. p = purl. st/s = stitch/es. RS = right side. WS = wrong side. Stst = Stocking stitch, knit right side rows, purl wrong side rows. sl1 = slip 1. k2tog = knit 2 together. . p2tog = purl 2 together yb = Yarn back, move yarn from the back of the work to the front of the work. yfwd = Yarn forward, move yarn from the front of the work to the back.

In Main Colour
Cast on 75 sts & Knit 4 rows
WS: p1, yb,sl1, yfwd,( p3, yb, sl1,yfwd) repeat sequence in brackets to last st, p1
RS: k1, sl1( k3, sl1) repeat sequence in brackets to last st, k1

Colour Band
Change to contrast colour A
WS: ( p3, yb, sl1,yfwd) repeat sequence in brackets to end
RS: ( k3, sl1) repeat sequence in brackets to end
Change to contrast colour B
WS: p1, yb,sl1, yfwd,( p3, yb, sl1,yfwd) repeat sequence in brackets to last st, p1
RS: k1, sl1 ( k3, sl1) repeat sequence in brackets to last st, k1
Change to main colour
WS: ( p3, yb, sl1,yfwd) repeat sequence in brackets to end
RS: ( k3, sl1) repeat sequence in brackets to end
Repeat previous 6 rows twice more.
Next Row: WS Purl in MC to end (continue in MC for remainder of hat)

Shape Crown
K2, k2tog ( k10, k2tog) repeat sequence in brackets til last 11 sts, k9, k2tog
Next & every WS row: Purl
K2, k2tog ( k9, k2tog) repeat sequence in brackets til last 10 sts, k to end
K2, k2tog ( k8, k2tog) repeat sequence in brackets til last 9 sts, k to end
Keep shaping in the decreasing pattern until 8 sts remain finishing with a k row.
WS: P2tog four times (4sts)
Make I-Cord
Slip remaining 4 sts onto dbl pointed needle
RS knit
Slide sts to opposite end of needle & pull yarn from last st & knit
Repeat to form I-Cord. Knit until cord measures 8cm.
K2tog twice, slide remaining 2 sts to end of needle
K2tog & bind off

Steam press & sew up side seam being careful to match the coloured rows together. Tuck remainder yarn into I-cord & tie in a top knot.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

What do you mean I can't knit for the dog!?!

I went through a phase a while ago where I got seduced by the plethora of patterns that seemed to be everywhere you look for your pet, you know, the cute cabled jacket for a Jack Russell, the Bolero for the Boxer, that sort of thing. 'I'll knit for Max', I regaled to my husband one evening, 'You are always worried about him getting cold at nights, I'll knit him a coat'... Now once my husband picked himself up off the floor & stopped looking at me with bug eyes, he asked as seriously as he could 'Do they make patterns for Mastiffs?'
'Ummmmm, no haven't come across any, but I am sure I can make something up', which then led to my husband having enough at playing along with this 'whimsy' and declaring that there will be NO knitting for Max the Mastiff. Once I recovered from this knock back I had to seriously consider his point, Max was after all 102Kg's of adorable slobbering canine, did I really want to spend weeks fashioning a garment that would slobbered over, rolled about in & possibly destroyed after it's first outing. No I did not. So there it is, I sold my pattern book for dogs on Trade Me, my dreams of making Dr. Phil & Max matching Aran jumpers was dead & buried, I will just have to vent my knitting furies on the infant... I wonder if my brothers Boxer would like a coat for Christmas?

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Price of Passion

There is a commerical on NZ television at the moment that quotes that 1 in 4 New Zealanders spend more on their hobbies that their families - surely not. That's one million kiwis who choose their own interests over those of their children & their loved ones. Initially I was quite shocked, but that was until I completed a survey that arrived in my inbox today. From Interweave Press, they were asking for feedback on their publications & services, now as a marketer myself, I always make time to complete these. One of the questions posed was what you spend each year on yarn, knit books, accessories blah, blah.... hmmmm now theres a question!

It's amazing what happens when you are faced with the realities of an addiction (see previous post), the good news for me was that I am NOT one of those one million kiwis who spends more on their hobby (what proportion of those are men methinks?) than their family, but I think that is largely due to the fact that my passion is one that can be saited relatively inexpensively. A recent purchase of bespoke sock yarn for $22 has been enough to keep me going for weeks (see pic Hugo dressed in his new vest made by the sock yarn), and I have also helped offset my yarn costs with doing work for my main yarn supplier.
It does make you think that in this tight economic climate when our discretionary dollar is under attack from sky rocketing petrol costs, the grocery bill getting bigger each week, (2 litres of milk is now more that $5), that finding extra cash for our hobbies seems virtually impossible, and yet according to this finance company on the tellie we manage to do it.
Well in defence of all knitters out there who maybe under fire, we have a craft that enables us to provide for the family in either monitary terms or in the form of being able to clothe our nearest & dearest. And if we are lucky enough to relatively recesesion proof, we can then knit for those who aren't so fortunate (see Mel Clarks blog at & see how you can contribute to NZ babies).
Right time to get my credit card out & go shopping!