30 August 2009

craft camp: report

craft weekend August 2009

Another craft weekend at Sewjourn has been and gone, the restorative effects fading away already.

This was possibly the most relaxed, low key craft weekend yet. People sat about in the mornings, knitting in their pjs while breakfast cooked, then we wandered into town to admire the blossom, visit the op shop (where I bought a red coat), visit the Beautiful New Shop in Town that sells exquisitries, and buy sensational bread and vegetables from the farmers' market. Then it was back to the cottage for morning tea and finally a stroll over to the studio to actually, um, make something. Back to the cottage for lunch, etc etc and so on.

I still managed to get a couple of things done however. I suppose staying in the studio until 1.00 am both nights facilitated that. Oops.

So, what did I make? I made two jackets using the same pattern, learning some valuable lessons from the first one and ensuring the second one worked perfectly. The first one will be fine once I add some trim to the exposed seams that the pattern didn't warn me about. I'm quite excited about it actually as the jacket is dark brown and the suggestion that I use velvet green ribbon as the contrast trim is just brilliant, thank you Cath. But it was disappointing all the same, not to bring it home as a finished object. (It's not pictured up there in the mosaic as the photos of it were terrible). Also unfinished were my chunky lace shawl, and a brown and white print dress/tunic/top (also not pictured above as I only took one shot and it was blurry - I'm sensing a theme here) but I did manage to almost finish both those items so that nearly counts.

The shawl is now finished and blocked, using my new welding rods as blocking wires. I had been considering purchasing very expensive blocking wires for my ongoing lace knitting obsession, but kept reading on Ravelry forums about using welding rods instead, they being cheaper and more readily available. So off I went to Lancefield Hardware and, following a rather hilarious exchange with the staff there (Steel or brass strength? Um, wool. Que?), managed to buy a set of my very own welding rods. I went with the copper weight in case you're interested. I can report too, that Kool Aid-dyed yarn will stain white welding rods. Consider yourselves warned.

I think I took three times as many photos this time than on previous weekends. It was lovely to have my new camera at Sewjourn and go about taking all the familiar photos that I always take when I'm there, only with a different camera. I had a great time zooming in and out, enjoying the satisfying click of an SLR shutter. Oh, and I found the focus ring, which I believe deserves a post of its own. Can't wait for that one, can you?

What else? I could go on about the wonderful company, the magnificent (as always) food, the relaxing and convivial atmosphere, but I've said it all before. Suffice to say I am reminded afresh of how lucky I am to be part of these weekends and call this group of women my friends. Mostly I'm glad that a place like Sewjourn was dreamt up. Go Jan!

Note: to see the photos individually, along with several not in the mosaic, click here).

16 August 2009

reason #793 why I love the internet

detail, quilt from the peppermint patcher

Photos don't do this justice.

quilt from the peppermint patcher, detail

This quilt, from Tracey is magnificent.

quilt from the peppermint patcher

The colours, the applique, the quilting. Did I mention the quilting!

Son #1 was away on camp (his fifth camp this year, only one left now) all week and on Saturday morning I showed it to him. Now it takes a lot to impress a fifteen year old boy, but he was blown away, particularly by the quilting. He kept exclaiming and marvelling over how.much.stitching there is on this thing. He kept saying It must have taken her months! I can't believe it! I think I went up in his estimation, being the recipient of such a work of art :)

Mind you he did marvel at my shawl too, telling me I should give up work, knit shawls all day and sell them to shops for $500 each. He's good for my ego sometimes.

Thank you again Tracey, for this quilt, and this swap. I feel privileged and honoured, and more than a bit warm and fuzzy inside.

In other news, we met the new neighbours. Remember the Fudge of Doom that I took to the old neighbours, left on their doorstep (they weren't home) and never heard a word from, but the For Sale sign went up shortly after? Well this weekend we took a fresh batch of FoD (milk chocolate and hazelnut, for those of you keeping track at home) to the new occupants, and after a false start yesterday (let's just say it clearly wasn't a good time, so we slunk away, telling the boys we'd try again another time - Fudge of Doom strikes again), we were successful today and can report that they are quite lovely. It will be nice to once again have neighbours with whom we can actually have a friendship. Although the house is very posh and despite only having moved in two minutes ago, everything was pristine, beautiful, and in its place, (gah!), with nary a packing box in sight. As we left an hour later, full of tea, cake and Fudge [of Success], I said to the children I think you'd better tidy your rooms before they come and visit us. To which Son #2 responded I think we'd better renovate the house before they come and visit us. God knows what they're doing in dirt-road, rustic-charm, "character-filled" country like this.

In other other news, FIVE SLEEPS until Craft Weekend. Yay! Off to have one of those sleeps right now. Nighty night.

13 August 2009

Ta da!

I think by now you all know that Tracey and I agreed on a swap recently, after a recent throwaway comment of hers that she needed a shawl to warm her poor cold shoulders.

Well, today was Arrival of the Swap Parcels Day. I came home from work to find this quilt waiting for me. I know! How lucky am I? I'll try and photograph it myself over the weekend when I have some daylight hours at home, but in the meantime, I'll show you the finished product of what I sent her.

Shetland Triangle

The pattern is the Shetland Triangle (because 2270 other people can't be wrong), and it's my very first lace shawl. Talk about hooked. I've been queueing lace shawls on Ravelry ever since.

Shetland Triangle

It's a nice sized shawl ... not too big, so it can be worn as a scarf or kerchief if preferred.

Shetland Triangle

It's light and floaty. Perfect for tropical Queensland evenings (I hope).

Shetland Triangle

The yarn is my own hand dyed sock yarn, and I managed to squeeze nine repeats of the body pattern before starting the edging. (Actually I knitted ten repeats, and halfway through the edging realised I was running out of yarn so spent a tedious hour unravelling several hours worth of work).

Shetland Triangle

And for those non-knitterly types of you who asked in the comments what blocking is, and why one does it? Have a look at the two pictures below. When you knit lace, it's all scrunched up and kind of sad looking, so you wet it and manhandle it into position with sharp implements pin it out to open up the exquisite lace pattern. Once dry, the yarn holds the memory of its trauma shaping, and obediently cowers to your will maintains its shape.

shetland triangle shawl, unblockedShetland Triangle Shawl, blocking

See? Obedient.

This was an all round wonderful experience. I thoroughly enjoyed knitting the shawl, although I was nervous about whether someone else would like the finished product as much as I do. I learned to really 'read' my knitting too, relying less on the charts and more on the stitches to know what came next. I was a little scared of doing something as large and challenging, but knowing Tracey lives in the tropics and a heavier shawl would not be appropriate, gave me the impetus to give lace a whirl. I'm so glad I did. It turned out to be interesting to knit, but an easy pattern.

And I love the finished result. It should be in Tracey's hot little hands by now, and I hope she likes it as much as I do. I certainly adore my quilt, and can't wait to show you lot in a day or so.

(Vital statistics of the shawl ravelled.)

8 August 2009

solo

Shetland Triangle Shawl, blocking

Mr Soup is away for the weekend. Why is it that I get so much more done when he's not here? In addition to the usual cooking, laundry and vacuuming that goes on, I've weeded the garden, made fudge (dark chocolate and raspberry, yum), taken children to and from soccer practice, fitted a new spare part to my spinning wheel and spent a happy hour taming the beast spinning with moderate success, listed on freecycle something that's lain around the house unwanted for over 6 months and had it collected thankyouverymuch, and am now about to make the kids some dinner before I abandon them for a girly social night out.

At what age does one leave children at home to look after themselves these days? I can remember being babysat by a local 15 year old girl when I was wee. Son #1 is now 15 but still every time we go out and leave him in charge I feel uneasy. I can't imagine him going out to babysit other children. Sheesh. Does that ever go away, that unease?

Hmmm, I'm asking a lot of questions aren't I? Oops, there's another one.

Snippets from today:

• Putting aside some fudge for the new neighbours who moved in during the week. Last time I took fudge to the people who lived in that house they weren't home so I left them on the doorstep. A week later a For Sale sign went up and within three weeks they'd moved out with nary a word.

• Hope these neighbours are nicer. Actually, I know they are. They came to do the final inspection before moving in and Mr Soup was out the front gathering kindling when they stopped their car and the bloke leaned over and called, Hey, don't I know you? Turns out Mr Soup played soccer with him twenty years ago.

• Turning out of our street onto the main road this morning a bus coming the other way flashed its lights at me. I wondered whether I'd left my handbag on the roof of the car or something, but then realised he was warning me that a young kangaroo was tearing along the edge of the road just ahead of me, desperately trying to find a route back into the trees. I slowed right down and quickly collected a line of traffic behind me who I hope realised what was going on, and I spent the next several hundred metres flashing my lights at every car coming the other way. I stayed at the same speed as the roo for ages (great to see it close up right next to us, despite the unfortunate circumstances) until it suddenly tore across the road in front of me and was narrowly missed by a ute coming the other way. His tyres squealed with a haze of blue smoke and the roo disappeared up someone's driveway. Hope it's back with its peeps, safe and sound.

• All three boys are re-reading the Harry Potter books. There is much angst when one is ready to move onto the next when someone else is still going on it. The conversations flying around the room are dazzling. What spell do you use to scare away the grindalow? (sp?) and What would happen if a muggle held a wand and spoke the killing curse?

And, Son #1: Oh, Mum is so going to cry when Dobby dies, when that movie comes out.

Apologies for the random bitsa posts these days. I have nothing of any great depth for you any more, such is my scattered brainstate.

5 August 2009

sneak peek II

blocking

This is the first time I've blocked lace knitting.
I thought I'd be timid and slightly terrified but the brutality of it kind of ... thrilled me.
Next time, however, I'm investing in a set of blocking wires.

It should be in your hot little hands next week, Tracey.

2 August 2009

in lieu of an actual post

I bring you an unrelated photograph of a knitted (not by me) mouse ...

Rupert

... and a few of my most recent tweets.

Because it's the same old same old and I have no real post. Dinner needs cooking (see first tweet) and the menfolk are due back any minute from seeing Harry Potter. I saw it recently by mine own blissed out self when my car needed to be serviced (for three hours) conveniently a few doors up from a cinema.

For those of you who don't know (if there are any left on the planet apart from my mister), tweets are 140 characters or less and they appear in reverse chronological order, most annoyingly, so you have to read from the bottom of the page up. I also haven't included all the replies because that would be out of control.

Herewith, tweets from the last few days ...

Is it still pumpkin soup if it also contains potato and carrot (for bulking up)?

Bought a new (to me) chair today. Had to rearrange several rooms to accommodate it, but it HAD to come home with me, no question.

Burnt the garlic bread. Smoke permeated the house. The bedroom smoke alarm went off. Realised there is no kitchen smoke alarm. Illegal much?

The youngest child just opened the front door with his chin. Superior genes, that boy.

Went to the Sisters Market today. Took $15, spent $175. My bad.

Just drank a glass of stout. Soooo good on a Friday night. Am already in my pjs at 8.30pm

I'm thinking matchsticks propping up my eyelids will be necessary. (Pink sparkly ones, natch).

Bear in mind that the same day I have a 7.30am Serious Meeting, then a day of work, then the function. All with many of the same people.

So far the best suggestions are sparkly knickers and elasticised waist.

Big do approaching. Sit down dinner, farewell, end of 15-year-era type thing, MC'd by Rachel Berger. 'Dress to celebrate'. WTF does that mean?

Still bored, and cup of tea nearly cold now.

I'm going to get a cup of tea & chat with work colleagues for three & a half minutes zackly. When I return I expect lots of exciting tweets.

Can you tell I'm bored at work?

And so to bed. Fresh sheets tonight so going early to enjoy them all the more. #mylifeissoexciting

T'was tedious but not the nightmare I expected. Now I'll have enough yarn to finish the shawl :)

Just ripped out half of the border & a whole lace repeat of shawl. Successfully retrieved all stitches & starting again with 1 repeat fewer.

Me? Hmmm, I blogged today. And did eleventy loads of washing. Had a 10 minute nap. Baked a cake, made risotto. God I'm boring myself now.

Decided to not talk to the husband but hang out on twitter instead. So, what's been happening chaps?

Nap rudely interrupted by 2 starlings holding down another bird & pecking it. Noise incredible. I banged on window & 3 birds looked at me.

Might sneak in a wee nap before the children come home.

The chocolate pudding (self saucing) with cream was awesome. And we each had a turn with the mr's birthday present.

I hate tuna bake too. But if he offers to cook, I eat it. I would never cook again in my entire life if I could get away with it.

Tonight's plan. Eat, knit, fold washing, knit.

Plus earlier in the day I made a huge spag bol for dinner on work nights in the coming week

Dinner is tuna bake (husband's effort) followed by self saucing choc pudding (my contribution).


Yeah, you're not missing much.

PS. thank you for your lovely responses to my shawl and my hesitant intentions. It is now wrapped and ready to deliver.