Thursday, December 28, 2006

Thank you Carla G, my Vegan Pal!

Well, I'm back from my trip and felt bad that my poor Vegan Pal must think I was an ungrateful wench for not thanking her for my package! Luckily I was thoughtful enough to post a blog explaining my whereabouts and thankfully, she looked there!

So I got my Vegan Pal package and it was super! Included was a knitting magazine with some very cool stuff inside, a couple of bookmarks (which is great because I've been using a receipt in the current book I'm reading), some incense which made for a delightfully scented package and some chocolate for the vegan food component! Mmmm. I never said, but my favourite chocolates are usually choc mint and choc orange and Carla guessed it because they were included! Here they are in the picture, before the choc mint met it's untimely end (in my belly.)

And then for the handmade piece! Carla made me TIKI knitting needles! I was beside myself! I didn't make a mention of my love of tikis, but she picked up on it from my profile and made me wonderful tiki head knitting needles! I just adore them and even my husband is admiring them. I thought they were a size 6 or 7, and thankfully I bought a needle gauge for myself while I was out getting stuff for my Vegan Pal. I was glad to be able to use it! They are a size 6. :D They came in an adorable pouch with beads and another small tiki hanging from it.

To see what I gave my Vegan Pal, also named Carla, click on Pink Vegan's blog entry about what she got from me.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Message to my Vegan Pal

Hey there Vegan Pal,

Just wanted to let you know that if you don't here anything from me about receiving your package, it's beacause I am on vacation and wont be back until Christmas Day! So, I guess I'll pick it up on the next post office day after that. I'm looking forward to it! Just don't think I am ungrateful! I just wont see it for a while.

Thanks in advance!

I'm in Dublin right now. I went to Newgrange today, a 5200 year old neolithic monument!

Onward to Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham, Brighton, London and Venice!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Seaming? No fear!

Finally, I finished this tank top. I don't know what it is about me, but when I am unable to do something, my guilt over it prevents me from doing something else. It's like to move on would be to officially abandon the last project. So since I was paralysed when it came to finishing the tank top, nothing else got done in the mean time.

But thanks to the support of E and Desiree, and my nearby friend Miho's assurance that she would help me out if I couldn't take it anymore, finally got me in the mode to do it.

It isn't perfect, but it's good enough for a first effort. It definitely got easier on the second go. I didn't expect it would be so hard to keep the pieces matched up! There were the same number of stitches on each piece as I carefully counted as I knitted, so I'm somewhat perplexed as to how this happens. Still, I found a way around it. When you find one side getting longer, since the method I used took two stitches at a time, I would instead take one from the shorter side to gradually help even it up.

Where it seems to be untidy and bunched up along the side, I think was unavoidable as those were at points of decreases, so the row I was seaming would suddenly disappear forcing me to move in and that bunching look.

This tank top has already had some interesting life experiences. The final weaving in the ends was completed in the company of Thora Birch, star of one of very favourite movies, Ghost World, as she was a guest on the Tom Green Live internet talk show where I was hanging out. As I worked away, Thora's mother Carol Conners asked me what I was making and admired it along with her husband Jack Birch. I would later find out they were both former porn stars and Carol a star of the famous porn 'Deep Throat'. I have not seen it, but it's nice to know my tank top has been keeping such interesting company after it's desperate fight for life over the last month.

Today I wore the tank top for the first time, which continued into this evening and another episode of Tom Green Live, soon followed by Poolside Chats With Neil Hamburger. It was during this show that I was asked to join the group the Take Your Hat Off Singers to sing "Take Your Hat Off" with Neil Hamburger, Steve-O and Kyle Gass from Tenacious D which was broadcast live over the internet from Hopefully it will be in the 'On demand' section soon.

The tank top in the Take Your Hat Off Singers, singing 'Take Your Hat Off' with Kyle Gass, Neil Hamburger and Steve-O.

So far, this tank is making up for that time it spent rolled up in a bag being ignored.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Tank top stand still

All I need to do is seam the sides and weave in the ends and I CAN'T DO IT!!!

There was an incident when knitting the edge of the neckline. It said 'knit loosely' which I didn't take too seriously. I realised why they said that when after the first attempt, I could not get the top over my head.

On the second attempt, I knitted very loosely and it goes over my head just fine. I just think the issue now is that it's all messy from being pulled the first time and it's just so damn hard to pick up stitches along that neckline with stitches bound off in both directions! So the neckline is kinda depressing me, but I think I can tidy it up a bit.

But that SEAM! Ugh. It just curls up and I can't see very well what it is I'm supposed to do and I can just see myself missing stitches and making a malung out of it. A malung (pronounced mal-loong) is a Sri Lankan dish, supposedly cabbage based, but it's a bunch of things messily tossed together. So if something is a mess, you can call it a malung. I think my seam is going to be a malung.

So I kinda can't cope right now. Any advice? Breathe?

The pattern says to use the invisible seam stitch. I found this example online (the one at the bottom of the page) but I am still freaking out about it. Partly because I can't lay my work out nicely to line it up. And the edge throws me off. I think I'll pass the needle through different rows each time. I was thinking of running a small piece of different coloured yarn along with it to help me see what I am doing better. Maybe next weekend...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Vegan Pal Questionnaire

So, I guess I'm going to participate in one of these "secret pal" things that E is always raving about where you have to send a secret package to someone and you get one from someone else. Sounds like fun! This one is vegan, which I am not, but I love vegans and their chocolate.

Vegan Pal

1.) What is your craft, & how long have you been doing it?

Knitting. I've known how for about 20 years, but have only become more serious about it since earlier this year. I've recently started sewing purses but I'm still getting the hang of that.

2.) Are you a vegan, vegetarian, veg-curious, veg-friendly or other?

Vegetarian. Married to a vegan. Love vegans. Also love cheese. Sorry.

3.) What is your favorite color(s)? Do you particularly dislike a color(s)?

Dark purple and red. Earthy and fall colours are good too. I really don't like any pastels. In fact, I hate them.

4.) Do you have any allergies (such as pets, foods or cigarette smoke)?

I'm not allergic to cigarette smoke, but I don't like it. Supposedly, I am allergic to the medicine Bactrim, which hasn't been tested since I was 1 year old, but just to be safe, please don't grind it up and then roll the yarn in it. Thanks.

5.) Do you have any companion animals? If so, names and types?

I have a future beagle named Ralph, but he hasn't been born yet. I don't think his parents have either.

6.) Do you collect anything?

I collect cans of fake Dr Pepper. Like Dr. Perky, Dr. Skipper, Dr. Starr and so on. I have about 50 knock offs!

7.) Do you have a favorite vegan food, snack or dish? If no fav that's vegan (for those who aren't vegan), what's your favorite food? (Hopefully your pal can find a vegan version!)

I love dark chocolate. Not the super bitter ones, but maybe the next level up. My favourite dish in the whole world is a vegan yellow tofu and spinach curry but it is only found in Melbourne, Australia. I like sweets. Not fruity sweets so much, but sugary sweets. I don't licorice or anything anise tasting.

8.) What tools/supplies/accessories for your craft(s) are you wishing you had but don't? Also, what do you have TOO many of? (basically a wish and anti-wish list)

I don't have too much stuff, so I'll tell you what I DO have. Size 9 29" circs, size 9 DPNs, size 8 16" circs, size 8 long flexible needles, size 8 DPN, size 7 16" circs, size 7 DPNs, size 6 16" circs, size 6 DPNs, Chibi needles, row counter, tape measure, crochet hook, stitch markers, stitch holders and those things you stick on the end to stop the knitting from falling off. Again that's stuff I DO have.

9.) What type of handmade item would tickle your fancy? What don't you like? (Keep in mind this swap is open to all types of crafters.)

Um, I can't think of anything in particular! I'm sure I'll like anything as long as it's not in pastels. Oh! And I hate teddy bears. Not the actual bears as much as things with pictures of bears.

10.) Is there anything else you would like your pal to know about you?

Not really!

I think this shirt is about being against 'anti this' and 'anti that', but whatever. There's a universal "no" symbol on a bear. I think my point is clear.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I have sensitive ears

Most of that tank top was done in Australia and across the Pacific Ocean. I brought paperwork with me from the airport security website to say that my knitting needles were allowed, but I didn't even need it! I was actually a bit annoyed, I mean, with the x-ray, they should see some sharp looking pointed things in my bag. Since they were circulars, they don't even look like ordinary knitting needles, so they should have searched my bag! But no, they just sent me on my way.

Anyway, tank top aside, when I got to Melbourne I realised I had forgotten to pack a scarf, hat and ear muffs! I was SCREWED! It was so cold they day I arrived that I feared for my ears. They ache terribly with the slightest gust. Even in the summer time, if my ears are wet from a pool or something, a breeze will make them ache. So with this fear in mind, I found the nearest yarn store to my parents house and set out to make the hat I was already planning to make, just not so soon! It was a bit hard because the needle sizes are different and yarn weight is also different, but I showed the woman in the store the pattern and she helped me out.

It's supposed to be the Kitty Hat from Stitch N' Bitch, but since I did it in red, it looks more like a devil hat which is just fine with me. I had my first taste of seed stitch which I was skeptical about, but actually quite liked. It was a bit of an effort to find the correct placement for the ears/horns, but I think I did okay with it. I bought size 7 DPNs for this, but I was thinking about the size 9s I was using for the tank and thought I was going down to size 8s, when in fact I was using a bigger needle. Duh! Oh well, it looks fine. In fact, it looks great! I do have a small problem with weaving in the ends because I can see on the outside where the yarn has been pulled from the weaving! Whoops!

I was seriously tanking on this project

Turns out I didn't mess up the tank top after all, at least not like I thought I had. I just misread the directions, but it turned out the finishing is more work than I thought. I was eager to do the three-needle bind off because I knew it was simple, yet so effective. I love learning a new little trick! But I was so excited to do the three-needle bind off that I had one piece facing the wrong way! I completely attached the left shoulder when I went to admire my work and saw what I had done. After an initial panic, yelp, and wondering how I was going to un-knit a three-needle bind off, I boldly unraveled the row, slipped the needles back on and then exhaled. I did it again properly and it's all going well from here on.

I bought size 9 double pointeds, but I can't find them anywhere, so I finishing this off with size 8s. I've heard tell that this can be good to prevent holes and stuff, so I'm sure it's not a problem.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


For several weeks I've been working on this Blue Sky pattern for a fitted tank top. I sure do love that soft cotton! I almost went for a different colour, but in the end, I was taken with the 'Poppy' as seen in the pattern.

Well, I started it a few times because my gauge made me think I was knitting it too loose with size 9 needles. So I switched to 8s and then I thought it was too small, so I started it again (third time's a charm, right?) and it's been smooth sailing ever since. The thing with ribbing is that it doesn't look like much when you start, but you just have to give it a red hot go and plug away and then it starts to look GREAT. After I'd past the mid section on the front piece, I got a bit worried thinking the completed piece wouldn't get around my belly loosely, since the front piece just made it half way, but then I remembered that I don't have a little pouch of fat protruding from my lower back, so it should even out just fine.

I'm probably just a couple of hours away, but the fear of seaming the two pieces together which I haven't done before, coupled with my annoyance that I knitted too many rows on the back have me putting writing about it instead of knitting it! Looking at the picture, I presumed the back neckline (which you can't see in the picture) would be higher up than the front. So I knitted away only to find I went two inches too far. So now the back is the same height as the front. Frankly, I don't think I like the lower neckline in the back, so I'm glad, but I feel a bit defeated for not referring to the directions sooner. I could have saved myself about 8 rows too!

So, I shall get back to it now. Hopefully, I will have it completed by the end of the night. Ooooh, now that I've said it, I'm motivated. To the needles!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Pumpkin patch

Back in July, my friend was due to give birth, so I was eager to whip something up for the baby. I found a pattern online which I used for this adorable pumpkin hat. I'm so proud of myself! I used Blue Sky Cotton yarn in what other colour, but pumpkin, of course! The stem was made with a three stitch I-cord with some green acrylic that I swiped off E. Well, she knew I was taking it, so it wasn't exactly swiping. I reduced it to two stitches and then one right at the end to get it to a nice little point.

The pattern said to purl every 8th stitch for the rib effect, but instead, I purled every 1st stitch so that when it came time to decrease, I'd just be working with the knit stitches and the purls could sit tight until the end. I think it worked out rather well!

I mailed off the hat which Marianne loved and proceeded to refer to her unborn baby as a pumpkin from then on. Soon after Tristan was born, matching booties were on the way! I learned another lesson here. As this was the first time I made a pair of anything, I hadn't thought that I needed to keep count of how many stitches I did on the first bootie! I'm kinda bad at counting on knitted rows, so one bootie is a little bigger than the other, but it's probably only a row or two different. Wont happen again!

And here's Tristan decked out in his pumpkin gear! He doesn't seem as amused as his mum and I are.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The ill fated cabled hat

After making the cabled scarf for my mum, I was determined to make her the matching hat before winter really got going in Melbourne.

Just before making the basket weave hats, I embarked on this little number. E claimed to have the pattern for Irish Hiking Hat to match the scarf, but because I was a dope a used the wrong yarn and the wrong needles, alterations had to be made which saw to this project taking a while to get off the ground.

Finally, E found an alternative. Make a cable band to go around the head, then just stockinette to the top. Sweet!

And I didn't have to restart this one because by making the band first, we could tell when it was long enough to go around the head. E came up with this idea from Coronet to deal with my bulky yarn problem. Ack! It would have looked so much nicer with the smaller yarn! I guess when I first got back into knitting, I was of the mind set of using thick yarn to get the job done faster! Now that I'm a knitter, and not just someone who knitted a scarf, I don't mind small needles and light yarn!

But alas, E, who oversaw this project and Edan's hat as we went on our road trip to Arizona in what I dubbed 'The Knitmobile', may be losing her much loved role as my "knitting mentor". One would think that as they knitted away with their knitting mentor by their side for eight hours, they could relax. The mentor would catch them if they fell. As I knitted in stockinette and wanted to keep going, E said "Five and a half inches? That's long enough! Start decreasing!" Yes, mentor. Whatever you say mentor. Who am I to argue with your expertise?

So I finished it and it looked very nice. But look how small it is on my mum's head!

So, when I was back in Australia, I took it back from her and now I am going to do it again. I'd rather do that than have her not wear it at all because it's too small! I have a while though. It's spring there, so I have until next June to get it done! Woo-hoo!

Thanks a lot E! Some mentor your cracked up to be! You just wanted to humiliate me so you could make the perfect Irish hiking hat and flaunt it all over your blog while I look like a FOOL! Well, it's not going to work! I've got some plans for the new hat and it'll be great because it wont involve YOU!

So er...I'll be calling you soon with some other questions soon...

If you don't know me, you might think I'm an ungrateful and crazy bitch. E knows I'm kidding and not at all ungrateful, but possibly still a crazy bitch.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Blast from the past

Since I spent most of my spare time in Melbourne knitting, my dad told me there were a bunch of my mum's old knitting needles around. For all the crap my family hordes, my dad is definitely the best at making excuses for it and then turning around and producing the crap on demand.

Within 5 minutes he was back upstairs with a plastic bag containing three single needles of different sizes, (5, 7 and 8, I think) and some fuzzy acrylic yarn with unfinished knitting on one needle. It was mine!

When I first learned to knit there was a lot of starting things and just knitting for the fun of it. I never really thought about making anything because the idea of making whole thing seemed impossible! I'd always get frustrated with it after a while, hence the random knitting of nothing. I think my dad found my mum's needles and that yarn and I just started knitting it. So funny that he should give it to me again.

Here are one of those "projects" knitted on a size 7 and a size 8. I especially like this piece because I can see where I tried to do purl stitch. I seem to have alternated between purl and garter for a few rows to create stockinette, but I didn't really figure out what I was doing because I went back to just garter. When you are a knitter, the difference is as clear as night and day, but when you aren't you just can't see things like that. At least it shows my early learning stage which I love.

Simone's "Third time's a charm" hat (patent pending)

I thought about my blog so often but have been so short on time! Okay, one more purse was made for my friend Kristen for her birthday. The thing I like about bag making is that you can design it yourself easily enough and then if it starts shrinking, it's not a huge problem because it doesn't have to fit a person. It's awesome!

The bag for Kristen came out pretty well, though it's possible the strap is a bit too broad. I used buckrum for the base and sides which was a bit tricky to work with, but I managed! It makes for a good sturdy bag. I am having trouble with pockets though. I need to learn more about those.

As for the blog title, I say that because just about each hat I try to make takes a few attempts. Lots of frustration and tears. Well, not really tears, but I am pretty pissed off.

The biggest rule I think I have learned is not to start anything that requires alternating stitches unless it has your undivided attention! This has been my folly more times than I care to repeat, but when I first start something, it's hard to see the pattern, so there is more remembering and looking hard at the stitches to know which stitch to do! Thus, the screw ups. My first attempt at ribbing was a disaster. Not because it's hard, but if I'm not paying attention, I screw it up. Then once I got a good go of it, and into the basket weave, turns out it's way too big for even me, let alone the four year old it was intended for. So there are the first two starts. There were actually a few more, but I didn't get too far to count them. I was drunk one of the times, so we really wont count that one. Edan's hat was made with Blue Sky cotton in thistle colour.

Onto brother Kyle's hat. He likes green. Why can't Blue Sky just have a simple green that a little boy would like. Little boys aren't into 'Lemongrass'. Ugh. It would have made my life so much easier if they were. I got some of the Manos del Uruguay yarn. Very scary! It's of a lesser weight and needs size 4-6 needles, so it's time to panic since I'm all about the 8s up to this point. I started it anyway with size 8s but it was too holey, so I bit the bullet and went out for 6s. First attempt: failed. I did my gauge like a good little girl, and did the math. I'm bad at math, but I'm quite fine with the basics and a calculator. I thought I had it all worked out and made a good start. Then after about 4 inches, it was quite clear that once again, the hat was too big. Second attempt: failed. E even had a look and did the same math and came up with the same answer, so we still can't figure out how it got so big. I'm not THAT loose of a knitter! Why do patterns tell you do a gauge in stockinette when you are doing ribbing? In any case, I did this gauge in basket weave because I'm a fucking genius. Too bad it didn't work out. I took off about 20 stitches and started again and this time, we had a hat! Third attempt: A charm.

E finally showed me how to follow the stitches properly before I did Edan's hat, so the letters on these look much better. Still, doing a 'K' is a bitch. I certainly wont be making one for me!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Bag hag

So finally, after some inspiration from my co-worker I decided to something with that sewing machine I got for Christmas. I made a skirt already, but I really wanted to make a purse!

I didn't go to a lot of trouble to include pockets and stuff because I expected it to be lousy, but I think it turned out pretty damned great! I used a pattern from the book Bag Boutique by Amy Barickman, but the general bag making instructions were better in Designer Style Handbags by Sherri Haab. It has step by step pictures which are very useful, though the part about attaching a lining makes no sense after 50 reads. It's not the writing, it's just a hard concept to grasp. I kept thinking about it in my spare time (I do that a lot, huh?) and finally figured it out.

When attaching the lining, it says to do all this turning inside out business from a hole in the bottom of the lining, but then you have an ugly area where you hand stitched the hole together. I thought of doing it by leaving the hole at the top of the bag and sealing it with top stitch. I practiced it with a pair of socks and it worked! It looks so much better! That probably makes no sense unless you are familiar with the horror of attaching a lining.

I added the button and the piece to button the bag closed as it wasn't in the pattern. I amazed myself at the liberties I took while not knowing what I was doing!

I wanted to make a bag for my friend as a belated birthday present, but I thought bag number one would be too lousy. Turns out it wasn't, so now I have a bag for myself. Yay!

This bag was made with a fabric pattern called 'Shopping Spree' by Alexander Henry Fabrics.

"I see," said the I-cord, "I see."

Once the cabled scarf was done, I wanted to make a hat. A proper hat, not a rectangle sewn together. I wanted to make a hat to match the cabled scarf, but since I hadn't made a hat properly before, it seemed crazy to start something that had cables to deal with, so I took it easy. I hadn't reduced before, so imagine trying reduce with vertical cables! No thanks.

This hat was made in stockinette using E's size 8, 16" circulars and pink Blue Sky cotton yarn. I wanted to give up as it is SO HARD to make that first row off the tight cast on, but after that first row, it was fine. I told E I wanted to add the letter "I" for my friend's baby Isabella, and she told me to follow the stitch with the other colour. Since we live in different cities, I had no example and made it up and did it wrong. It looks okay. Not great, but okay.

I didn't know how to finish, so E told me how to make an I-cord and it was at this time I realised the more I knit, the more her over-the-phone explanations were starting to make sense. It becomes easier to visualise what someone is talking about the more familiar you are with how things are supposed to look and various techniques.

So I made the I-cord and added a pom pom which I had remembered how to do from grade 2 (second grade, 7 years old). This hat was also great as I did my first ever stitch reductions! It was also the beginning of buying more and more tools as I had to go out and buy double pointed needles to finish.

Baby hat made with Blue Sky cotton yarn.

Makin' cables!

After doing about seven bands of stockinette on circular needles on the other Gryffindor scarf, I was back in the knitting rhythm and ready to try something new. E was working on the Irish Hiking Scarf at the time and tried to explain cables to me when we were at dinner or something. I couldn't make head or tail of what she was saying, but I thought about it in my private moments and I figured it out!

Since this was my first venture back into knitting and all previous ones had been done with whatever needles and yarn appealed to me at the store, grabbing bulky Wool-ease and size 8 needles (I had bought size 6, but E told me to at LEAST get 8s!) was not working for this pattern as the scarf was 9 inches wide! This was my first foray into the importance of needle size and yarn weight. So after, 12 rows, I started over, altering the pattern, getting rid of one cable so that the scarf was not too wide. I took off about 12 stitches total. This was also my first time switching between knit and purl in a row, so E so kindly explained about moving my working yarn depending on the stitch. Once that was sorted out, I made only a few correctable mistakes and I think I did the cable too early on one row, but I can't even find it.

I shipped it off to my mum and it made it in time for her birthday. She didn't mean to be rude but she couldn't believe I made it! I wasn't offended because neither could I. I'm kind of a bum, so it's always impressive to anyone who knows me when I get busy like this.

I wouldn't use the bulky Wool-ease yarn if I made this again, but I made it work and it looks pretty nice. The colour is wonderful! It's called 'Spice'. I still don't know how to stop the ends from fanning out like that. Any tips?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

My history with needles

I've knitted a bunch over the years. I first learned when I was about nine. My mum cast on and taught me how to do knit stitch so I just knitted a bunch and didn't know what I was making. I sent away for Larry's Learn To Knit book, which was more of a 10 page pamphlet than a book, but it taught me how to cast on, purl and bind off, which was good value since the "book" was free. I made my sister a glasses case and a scarf for the cat, but that's about it. I didn't really understand what purling was for so I didn't use it for years.

About 12 years went by and I got a bug to knit my dad a scarf. It started off messy with some added stitches, but I eventually got the hang of it and had my first decent complete piece! My husband got a scarf soon after with a few little mistakes which I concealed, and all in garter stitch.

A couple of years after that, I decided to knit my sister a scarf. No-one told me, but I thought I'd see what happened if I knitted a row and purled a row, and low and behold: I had discovered stockinette! I didn't make a single mistake and it was a perfect scarf (though it curled into a tube as stockinette does.) I made a matching hat by knitting a rectangle and sewing it together. Not ideal, but I didn't know what else to do!

That was about four years ago and I hadn't knitted anything since. Then few months ago, my friend E suddenly got into knitting and took to it very quickly which inspired me to take it up again. She knitted me a Harry Potter Gryffindor scarf for my birthday which I loved! I thought those kind of scarves were made by machines! She was making another one for someone else and I eagerly offered to help with it. Once I was done knitting part of the scarf, I quickly bought myself some new needles and have found myself busy with some knitting almost always since March!

I also work for a fabric designer and manufacturer which has inspired me to learn to sew. I got a machine for Christmas and have since made two skirts and three purses. I will also feature my sewing efforts here!

Here I am in the Gryffindor scarf made for me by E which re-sparked my interest in knitting!