Friday, February 29, 2008

Purple haze all in my eyes

It happened again. A Friday afternoon haircut at Jamison, a quick trip to Cassidy's next door ... and we have a dilemma.

Twenty-four balls of dilemma. In pale mauve.

Shit. What's happened to me?

But never fear, my dear friends. I have a solution, and we shall forevermore call it "Using the stash - dedicated project #5".

Stash: Patons Jet in pale mauve colour 103.

Patons Jet

Issue: I bought it on 29 February 2008. When I was on a yarn diet. A quick getaway is required.

Solution: I've been longing to make the Fisherman's Sweater from Crochet Today! for the longest time, but I never had enough yarn on the bed o' stash in worsted weight. When I saw this today, I spent about 20 minutes having an argument with myself. Because, you know, it's
PURPLE. And it's pale. And I only usually do dark greens and reds and greys and browns and blacks. And apparently now, purple. I just really, really liked this yarn. Anyway, I bought all 24 balls, got it home and looked a the pattern - and discovered I needed a riduculous 28 balls. Bloody crochet and it's yarn guzzling qualities! I'll be calling Kingston tomorrow morning in a quest to locate another four balls. All I can say is, I'm glad this stuff was only $2 a ball. I could never justify spending $6 a ball at regular price for this project.

Fisherman's jumper

And in Preppy Tank news, she's getting closer to the wet block and a slipstitch seamin'.

Preppy Tank - in progress

And then Dedicated Project #3 will be done, and not a moment too soon. This morning was decidedly nippy - I hope this doesn't mean the end to the warmth though. As much as I love winter, I'm not ready to let go of summer just yet.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

But don’t apologise, just bring your suitcases inside

Bells and George said I should confess my sins to the wider blogging community, so here it is. I have a confession to make.

But first, PIZZA! Yum yum. Homemade using homegrown vegetables and a Lebanese bread base. So delicious and healthy! Lovely. And the ricotta cheese! A taste sensation.

Homemade pizza

Sorry about that. Didn't mean to distract you.

But look! Ooh! Puppies! Not mine unfortunately.


Oops! Was I changing the subject again?



So anyway, I'm on a yarn diet. And I hate purple. So why did I buy 5 balls of Bendi Classic 12 ply in Plum late last night?

There. I've said it. In my defense, I do need another cardigan for work, and I do have a pattern sorted, and I don't have any 12 ply on the bed o' stash.

But purple? George reckons I like eggplants, so liking purple should just come naturally. But I don't know.

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Thanks to all you lovely people for the congratulations in my last post! I couldn't shake the smile off my face!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

When I find myself in times of trouble

Mother Mary comes to me. On a slice of superwhite, no less.


I wasn't sure what to do. Ebay or St Christophers Cathedral?

It tasted nice with lingonberry jam

Problem solved. It was delicious.

By now, my choir have finished the second of their three gigs down at Cobargo. Julie texted me yesterday to tell me that they were having a good time with lots of talk, eating and drinking *sob* but the surf was just OK. Which makes me feel marginally better, ya know?

I'm glad I stayed home though, if not just for the pounding headaches that have greeted me every morning when I've woken up. Yesterday, post-panadol, I went to the Canberra Show and got to meet Kylie. Thanks Kylie for intoducing me to all the doogs and the flyball rules and for just being such a lovely warm person! See? If I'd gone to Cobargo I would never have met Kylie and Possum!

At the show, I also popped in to peek at the craft. And this is where it gets really hard to write without sounding all boastful and proud.

You see, I won some prizes.

Second prize - crochet shawl or stole

Excuse the terrible photos - I think I was shaking at the time. I won second and third prizes in the 'stole and shawl' category.

Third prize - crochet shawl or stole

Second prize - crocheted accessory

And I won second prize in the very broad 'crocheted accessories' category for my socks. Not that you can see that they are socks - they were pretty badly displayed.

I still can't believe that I won anything. The reason I entered the show was to display crochet that could be modern and functional without being a lapghan or granny-square inspired (please note that I don't think there is anything wrong with those things - it's just not all there is to crochet). The irony in all this is that my shawl, crocheted in colours and a style reminiscent of the 70s, won second prize. Oh well.

The other irony is that the judge apparently commented on my good and even tension. I had to laugh, given all the problems I've had with the easy shrug.

I met some lovely people on the crochet table and they were keen to start a Canberra Crochet Club. I was given tips on how to make my stuff better and more "show worthy" but to be honest with you they were things I wasn't comfortable with doing. I make things to wear. It would be completely out of character for me to bead the collar of my capelet when I won't wear thing with beads on them, although I appreciated the comments.

I suppose that's where I am different to some other show entrants. I don't make things to show - I make them to wear. The crochet section is set up for the "show stuff" not "I wear this stuff" though - the rules state that items must not have been washed. Ever. I suspect this harks back to the days of doilies and christening gowns, not to the modern day crochet of jumpers and cardigans and lace scarves and handbags that get used.

So it was fun, and very satisfying to have won prizes. Would I enter again? Absolutely, and so should all of you. Put a kick up the arses of the old school of handcraft, I say, with your funky sweaters and your amigurumi. Show that what crochet and knitting today really is.

Friday, February 22, 2008

I guess I was wondering what you were doing on the weekend

I've got tickets to this show
It's free you know. *

My much anticipated long weekend of bliss, girly talk, good food and fine music at Cobargo is no longer. Being ill usually puts paid to plans like these.

I'm bummed, but I've been consoling myself with cups of tea and
online purchases all morning. They'll go perfectly with all the crazy crochet stuff I have half made or planned.

And speaking of crochet, it's been a sorry week on the couch -just me, Dr Phil and Oprah - but I've made progress on the
Preppy Tank.

Preppy Tank - progress

I'm really happy with how this is turning out. I've still livid over the
whole Zhivago debacle (Ravelry link) but thank heavens a fellow Raveller helped me out. I would have been up the proverbial creek otherwise. Anyway, if all the planets align and I don't suddenly get better this may well be done by early March. Mind you, I'd rather feel better.

Easy Shrug is, well ... shortly it will be just nine balls of wool again. I think my issues with gauge and hook size collaborated to give me a very un-luscious thing. It's not the pattern's fault - it's me. I know it is. See how crooked and untidy it looks? I wasn't even trying to get that effect!


So now I'm on a search for another project which will use only nine balls of Zara. I'm desperate to get the new issue of
Crochet Today so I contemplate making this with it. I think it's purdy.

While I'm on a show 'n' tell roll, I want to tell you about an absolutely beautiful book I borrowed from the library the other day. It's called "Crochet Inspirations" by Sasha Kagan, and it goes way beyond being just a stitch dictionary. I need this book. Look at what Sasha shows you how to make!

PICT9659 PICT9660 PICT9661

I need my birthday to NOT be in September. However my wedding anniversary is in only a few weeks ...

I'm hoping to get to the show very early tomorrow morning. I want to see
kms and her doogs. And the craft section and the canary yellow acrylic poncho. And maybe I'll treat myself to a show bag. Or two.

* Clare Bowditch

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Now the drugs don't work

Loopy neckwarmer

Loopy neck warmer by Lisa Gentry, using Lincraft Prism.

Too sick to post more. Later.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Shut de door, keep out de devil

Last night I went to the Crusty Demons with my three boyfriends and every bogan who lives in the Canberra Region. Please note my three boyfriends are not bogans.

My three boyfriends

There was a little Extreme Crocheting done while waiting for the show to start. I think we all appreciated the gentle irony of crocheting at a misogynistic, drunken, loutish event.

Extreme Crochet - Crusty Demons show

I personally struggled with the idea of being at such an event given my hatred of Summernats. However I gave it some thought (while the Crusty Babes were gyrating their hips in front of me) and I think it has something to do with the artistry of making a motorbike do flips and the rider not landing on their head. They are clever boys, those Crusty Demons, and seriously beautiful to watch. I've always been a big fan, so seeing them fly through the air and not kill themselves was a special thing indeed.

Did see one poor fella land on his head not once, but twice. But I think it just wasn't his night.

Today was a lovely slow day. We finally got to Revolve's Better Bits at Piallago and it was just fantastic. So much Pyrex to be had, although I decided to be fussy. I probably shouldn't have bothered with the Snowflake casserole, but I was taken with the handle shape. The pie plate I just had to have - because four pie plates were never going to be enough. And the June Rose platter was my dream. I've always wanted a bigger Pyrex platter for taking cucumber sandwiches to parties but I figured only JAJ Pyrex (British) would provide it and I was right in this case.

Snowflake  casserole Pie plate JAJ June Rose platter

And I dropped my entries off for the show. I'm not too sure how they will do as some of the entries I saw looked to be from the 70s era. Canary yellow poncho in acrylic, anyone? It'll probably win best of show.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Using the stash - dedicated project #4

Earlier this week I bought a simple black cardigan on sale. It has sleeves to the elbow and is short - barely to the waist. I've been wearing it to work most days over long waisted tops and I really love it - and I'm surprised, because who would have thought a chubby ball of fun such as myself would enjoy layering her clothes? I mean, puh-lease!

This discovery that layering is actually OK has inspired me, and taught me not to dismiss patterns because they seem to short or too ridiculous. Dedicated project #4 is a case in point.

Stash: Cleckheaton Country 8 ply in charcoal - 14 balls


Issue: If I had more balls I would be making a cabled jumper. But I don't so I'm gonna have to do the cabled jumper after June 30 when I can buy the yarn.

Solution: Mei-Mei Bolero from
"Everyday Crochet" by Doris Chan. This is one of those books where the patterns are similarly constructed. So there is a lot of flicking between patterns trying to find rows 8-18 of pattern x and sleeve of pattern y to ultimately get a result of pattern z. It may well do my head in.


Lately I've been feeling the need to head to Melbourne for a few days of art and culture and friends. I may have almost convinced Mr QM to come with me in April and take the train up to Bendigo by himself to spend time with his folks, while I spend 4 days in Melbourne by myself. I'll know more next week when I ask for leave ... but I need this. Just a break for the mind and soul.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Using the stash - dedicated project #3

More time has been spent this last week sorting out the spare bed o' yarn than should actually be healthy. But I'm almost there!

Stash: Patons Zhivago in Rhubarb Red - 5 balls


Issue: Really, 5 balls doesn't take up much room. And Zhivago is pretty collapsible stuff. But this yarn (and the Sean Sheep equivalent Flinders) have been floating around the sewing room for the past few months and I have had all sorts of projects lined up for it. In my Ravelry queue, I think I have allocated this yarn about 5 times for different patterns.

Solution: Preppy Tank from "Crochet Today" Sept/Oct 07 magazine


Subsequent issue: I only have 5 balls. The project requires 8. I'm on a stash diet. I realised I hadn't thought through all the rules so bought a few more balls from Big W (this project is getting rid of 5 balls - having to get more yarn shouldn't be seen to be a Bad Thing). However it seems there is a problem with the latest Zhivago on the shelves in that it feels completely different from the old Zhivago. Courser, thicker, not as lush and drapey. Quite revolting, really. Shit. Fortunately a lovely woman on Ravelry has come to my rescue and we are doing a yarn swap. Three balls of old Zhivago for something lovely out of my stash. The Big W stuff will go back to the store and I'm down a ball of sock yarn (which, as I stated earlier, is in fact stash). Win-win situation in my book.

Preppy Tank - progress

For my crocheting readers, this pattern uses hdc2tog as the main stitch, which is like the roller coaster of all crochet stitches. Yo, hook through, yo, pull through, yo, hook through next stitch, yo, pull through all five loops. It's thrilling, I tell ya.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Then raise the scarlet standard high

It's been an odd weekend. It felt like autumn was coming - the cooler breezes, the dappled sunlight coming through my bedroom window. I barely made it outside, yet outside would have been ideal for someone in the strange mood I've been in lately.

My pantry however, is clean. And the Red Crocus Scarf has been blocked.

Red Crocus Scarf - finished
Pattern: Crocus scarf from
Knitting Daily/Interweave
Yarn: Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Merino in cherry colourway

Red Crocus Scarf - detail

Hook: 4.00m bamboo
Notes: I made an extra pattern repeat again, as per last time. I also increased the hook size from 3.25 mm to 4.00 mm and I think it was esaier to work. This scarf is mine, all mine!!

I've started, then frogged, then recalculated, then restarted the easy shrug in red Zara. Something is going screwy with my crocheting technique, I think. I've always been a tight hooker, so tend to go up 0.5 mm in hook size for most patterns. This pattern called for a 6.5 mm hook, yet to get gauge (and gauge was very important) I had to go up to 8.0 mm. Ridiculous! I soldiered on with the bigger hook, but when I measured after 6 rows I was getting 16 inches, not 18 inches. Wha'?

I suspected a few things. One is that Zara is very stretchy. Another is that my foundation chain may have been a little anxious (i.e. tight). So I ripped it, added 6 more chains to the foundation to come up to 61 chains, and started again with a 7.5 mm (come on, 8.00 with 8 ply was just ridiculous!)

I measured again after a few rows, and guess what the length was?

22 inches.

How on earth does adding 6 chains and going down 0.5 mm in hook add 6 inches to the length? Is it that the ripped yarn has lost some stretch? Whatever, I'm taking it. I'll probably need the extra for the ample boobage.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Something crazy has been happening in Civic. I think it's turning into a "big city" with lousy "big city attitudes'.

First there were these mannequins outside Sussan in the Canberra Centre. Flawed body image, much? Realistic? Attractive? Seeing these mannequins with their ill fitting clothes and their holocaust-like flat stomachs made me feel ill and sorry for the younger kids and their struggle with the 'body ideal'. And doesn't anyone believe in good posture these days?

Bad body image much?

On Thursday my team went to lunch at the new Babar's in North Quarter. We had been regulars at the Babar's at the Boulevard, so thought we knew what the portion sizes were. At the old Babar's, 'small serve' meant you were fed enough not to want to eat until at least dinner time.

Not at North Quarter. Oh no. Here, 'small serve' means having to go past Macca's for a Big Mac and a sundae on the way back to the office because you are still so hungry.

Smallest bowl of risotto. Ever.
Look at this poor excuse for a risotto. The serve is so small it makes the fork look large. $17.90 thank you very much. Plus it was oversalted and had way too much butter. Plus I want to stab in the eye any chef who puts bloody snow pea shoots as a garnish. It's not 1998 anymore people.

I won't be going back.

But yeah, getting back to the scarf and the whole issue of show projects. I'll be putting them up in one post after the show, even though a number of you have asked to see them in one post. Hope you don't mind.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Play the blues in that blues town

The Waifs, Enmore Theatre

On Thursday afternoon we headed up to Sydney to see
The Waifs in concert. It was a fantastic show and they entertained us so beautifully and played old and new songs. Wicked. They were also playing with Clare Bowditch and John Butler, and while we adore both of those artists as well, we were really there to see The Waifs. Big fans, we are.

Extreme Crocheting

I'm amazed I got out of bed at all on Friday morning. I was physically and emotionally wrecked from two nights of nearly no sleep and walking for miles around Newtown on Thursday night, and then walking back to the hotel through Kings Cross (Jesus, give me strength) after midnight ...well, I was a tad frazzled. So we had an easy morning. It was easy until I attempted to start a toe-up sock. Bloody hell. So we went to breakfast. Eggs Benedict always seems to lift the tired soul. Ultra strong espresso does as well.

It felt strange being in Sydney on a work day. More relaxing, or something. We went into town and had coffee with Patricia in Martin Place, and then walked to Mecca AKA Kinokuniya, the greatest bookstore in the World. And they were having a 20% off sale for members! Bonus!


Vintage Crochet by Susan Cropper is a book I have wanted to look at for ages, but I couldn't find a copy here in Canberra. Yes, I could buy online, but until you can see what's in the book, often it's not worth it. This book is lovely. There are the usual variety of scary crochet patterns which I just can't seem to get away from - like a netting canopy made from 30 balls of Rowan Bamboo Tape (why??) and a lampshade with crocheted flowers stitched on it. But the book is overall a Lovely Book To Have with beautiful photos and mostly fantastic projects with poetic descriptions.


Crochet Me is another book I have been wanting to buy. When I couldn't find it anywhere but online, I asked some other crocheters who had it about the sizing in the book. Only skinny girl sizes here, they said. But on seeing the book at Konokuniya and looking inside, I could see there was more to this book than just the clothing patterns. Crochet Revolution, indeed. Plus Kim Werker is a top sheila in my book. And there is a pattern for this lovely messenger bag. How could I resist?


We got back late last night and this morning I was still feeling fragile so I put this together and hung it in the dining room.

Knappa light

It's our new IKEA Knappa light. If you look at it sideways, it looks like the Opera House. We have yet to renovate any part of our house apart from the roof, but first on the list is the kitchen and dining room. No $20,000 kitchen renovation for us though. How much is a 4 litre tin of high gloss red paint? That's what we're spending. Plus this light. It's just luscious.

Breakfasts for the next few weeks will be like this. Cloudberry jam on bread, and strong coffee. It was a clever Creator who gave us cloudberries, to be sure. Such pretty fruit and perfect in jam.

The morning after an afternoon spent at IKEA

Today is almost like an autumn day. Surely not yet? I'm going to enjoy some crochet under a tree. I'll be seeing you all later. Much later.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Using the stash - dedicated project #2

Thanks to all for your encouragement and support on my first dedicated project! Of course, I realise most of you were probably refugees on my blog after the stress of following the cutting of the steek, but still, it was nice to get the support.

Myself? I'm still getting over the big cut, and I wasn't even there.

I'm poring over books and magazines, coming up with genius ways of using the collection. I'm dreaming of crochet, dreaming of yarn, of flying hooks and cable stitches. Sure beats having nightmares, let me tell you!

Stash: Filatura blah blah Zara in a divine mashed cherry red colour.


Issue: None. It doesn't take up much room and I would love to keep it in it's current state and pet it, but it is so lovely it really deserves to be worn. Plus it's RED.

Solution: Easy Shrug "Positively Crochet" by Mary Jane Hall, using the sizing variation.

Easy shrug

I'm not a big fan of shrugs normally, especially ones that barely cover your arm pits and make the big-boobed amongst us look even boobier. But this one looks nice. Flattering even. We will see.

Easy shrug

I'm going to start this on the weekend. Because you know what? I've finished all five show projects.

And I think I'll just leave it there.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Using the stash - dedicated project #1

I've just been reading of Bells' adventures in cutting the steek, and I'll be the first to admit that my post will be completely unexciting in comparison!

A couple of days ago I made a terrible and confronting
admission - I had more yarn than I could cope with. See? Here's what is inhabiting the spare bed at the moment. And there's much more.

The stash what's inhabiting the spare bed

As part of the diet rules, I was to document the stash and dedicate a project to a yarn. Huzzah!

Stash: Lincraft Bamboozle - approximately 17 balls

Bamboozle stash

Issue: About 6 of the balls are currently in a Short and Sweet bolero. A few months ago I made a HUGE booboo and I was going to have to rip out half the bolero. I was falling out of love with the bolero anyway so I just went "whatever" and left it to fester in the basket. No great loss, but i sure hope it frogs OK. Splitty, splitty.

Solution: Bamboo Cardigan from "
Plus Size Crochet" by Margaret Hubert


Which is, I think, kinda cute and I really love black cardigans. So there.

If you want to join me in my mission, not for the yarn diet necessarily, but to dedicate a project to the unused yarn in your *ahem* collection, please do so! It was a lot of fun sorting through the bed o' yarn last night and flicking through the projects on my wannado list.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

From little things big things grow

Last night I was adding yarn to my Ravelry stash and I came to a heart-palpitating, jaw-numbing, brain-exploding realisation.

I have too much yarn.

Now before you all curse me, I should state that I think I'm pretty lucky I have my own space in the form of a sewing room. A sewing room for sewing and quilting and all the things I used to do before I was a serious crocheter. A place where I could store my fabric stash and my batting stash and my thread stash and my collection of sewing machines.

The thing is that there ain't much room for yarn stash in my sewing room. It has taken over any spare space in the sewing room, as well as the floor, and both the spare bed and the closet in the room next door. I honestly don't have much stash - probably not as much as some. But I've only been stash building since April 2007 and I couldn't see any end to the buying in sight.

So as of today, I have put myself on a yarn diet. A strict yarn diet. With rules.

1. I will not buy any more yarn until June 30, 2008. This includes layby.
2. I will crochet only from the stash until June 30, 2008.
3. I will take Ravelry a bit more seriously and start queuing projects with that stash in mind.
4. I will sort out what and where my stash is and label the bags with the project I'm planning.
5. I will document all the stash on my blog and on Ravelry .
6. I will not reward a reduction in stash with a "special purchase" of yarn.
7. Any $2 sale at Cassidy's, or indeed any sale anywhere, is off limits.
8. Sock yarn is stash.
9. I will crochet more charity hats from the stash. I won't be buying pretty wool and saying "oh, this will be a nice charity hat". I've already said that before and I've only made 2 hats so far.

And because I haven't included a photo of anything stash or crochet related in this post, and because it's almost dinner time, here's a photo of patate al pomodoro, otherwise known as potatoes cooked with tomato. It was dead easy to make, very tasty, and kept the two of us in side dishes and lunches for about 3 days.

Patate al pomodoro

(George, it's on page 207 of "Twelve", in case you want to cook this for the Germans.)

I'll be back with more progress on the crocus scarf and some results of getting into the stash sometime soon.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Slowly but shawly I'm gonna wear you down

Although I finished the Radiant Shawl a week ago, it was too hot to block it until last night.

Ta da!!

Back to the 70s shawl

Ta da!!

Back to the 70s shawl

Ta da!! (sick of it yet? I'm not. Just look at those crazy stripes!)

Back to the 70s shawl

Only one more project to finish before the show deadline and then I can get stuck into something which isn't compulsory. Like socks in orlow shades, and scarflettes in that new yummy Lincraft Prism stuff, and a Stone Path Hat in the most stunning shade of Cherry Tree Hill Slate I've ever seen.

Here's the progress on the last show project - another Crocus Scarf but this time in Cherry Tree Hill Cherry. Crocheting the scarf hasn't been as mind numbing as I thought it would be - I'm really enjoying it, especially while watching episodes of Cheese Slices on DVD. (mmmmm ... cheese!)

Crocus scarf WIP