A Book Is A Thing I Can Give You, Hurray! PRIZE REVEAL!

Gentle reader,

Before we start, I’ma just give the disclaimer that there is lots of caps lock happening all up in here. What can I say? I’m getting more and more excited about the giveaway. Cue: next prize reveal, aaaaaannnnndddd…. GO!

A while back I bought a couple series of Knitting Daily from Interweave (because I’m a total Interweave and Eunny Jang fan-boy. Not mad.) and one of the episodes featured Kristen TenDyke demonstrating some of the techniques she implemented in her book “Finish-Free Knits”. Picture if you will my shrieking “WHAT IS THIS FANCY YARN MAGIC!? I NEEDS IT IN MY LIFE, I DOES! TELL ME FOR HOW, KRISTEN, PLEASE AND THANK YOU KINDLY TO YOU PLEASE!” while pawing frantically at the screen.* I promptly ordered the book from Interweave. And then Kristen began selling signed copies from her Etsy store. So naturally, I bought myself a signed copy too.

*may or may not have been embellished for dramatic effect but preserves the essential essence of the moment as I recall it.

FinishFreeKnitsCover

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The Neverending Sock! Also, Singlehanded Knits, Tiny Circs, and Stickers

Gentle reader,

I have a song for you. Here ‘tis:

“This is the sock that doesn’t end! It just goes on and on, my friend! I started knitting it not know what it was, and I’ll continue knitting it forever just because this is the sock that doesn’t end…”

Neverending Sock 1

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Cameras, Birds (And Their Downstairs Mix-Ups), A Prelude to Intarsia & A Dash of Zombies

Gentle reader,

You may recall that our house was broken into… TWICE, and the second time they took Joel’s camera (which I had somewhat commandeered). While we’ve vowed not to replace any of the game consoles until we move, I was getting very itchy not having a decent camera, though I admit my iPhone does a pretty good job up to a point. So, I did some reading and I decided on the Nikon Coolpix L120 because of the cray-to-the-azy lens, some good reviews and the amazingly good price. You can get them for $198 at Dick Smiths, if you’re in Australia, which was about $60 cheaper than I saw at other places.

Joel and I got some dinner afterward at QV, and I decided to test it out on some birds.

I pointed my camera at these birds and this is what happened.

I love birds! I mean, I really know next to nothing about them like different breeds etc, but gosh I think they’re the cutest things ever. But then I remember they have cloacas which then kinda grosses me out for some reason and it mars my enjoyment of their cuteness for a few seconds, and then I push the idea of a one-stop poopin’, peein’, breedin’ shop from my head and then all is well again.

In fact, let’s do that now and move on from that unsavory thought and just enjoy these mighty adorable little critters. I LOVE that little nugget in the bottom left! Look at his little chest and face! Eeeeeeeeee! I would totally have given him a gentle hug in my hands if he’d let me. HIS. LITTLE. FACE!!!! ^_^     Cloaca. Dammit!  >_<

Meanwhile, I’ve been knitting a bit! I recently discovered the wonders of having a library card after not having one since I left college. I pretty much borrowed every knitting book that wasn’t totally naff from the library on Flinders Lane, and I decided that I’d tackle some intarsia. I’m making a wee bairn’s sweater from Picture Perfect Knits by Laura Birek. The design is called “I ❤ Mom“, and it’s a heart with a banner around it that says “Mom”, but I’m going to switch the chart out for a different design from the appendix at the back. So far, I think the book is awesome and probably worth the purchase. The pattern has been really clear, concise and easy to follow, but, I haven’t gotten to the intarsia yet and there was no shaping on the back piece, so, the wheels may yet fall off (I daresay that would be my own shortcoming and not the books though).

It seems on of my balls of yarn has become irradiated. Whoops.

I started with the back panel to safeguard against my finishing the intarsia and then getting bored with it and never finishing it. Geesh. I pinned it out for the sake of photographing it, I’ve not blocked it yet. I’ll pin the tar outta it when I do, cuz it’s super curly. I haven’t been slipping my first stitch to get a nice edge so it’s mega rough and curly at the edges. I dunno why I didn’t do the slipping thing. I think Marelle told me not to bother, so I’ll see how that goes. I’m using Cleckheaton Basics DK which I got from a sale. It’s a perfectly decent yarn, but I shan’t rave about it. I suppose that’s neither here nor there though, since it’s now discontinued. If you find it cheap though, it’s worth picking up.

I have a few projects on the go – I’m still working on my own sweater and Marelle’s crochet lace dress (which I’ve been taking to work to do on my lunch break) – but they’ve all gotten too big to to be suitable for public transport projects. Sure, the intarsia sweater is small, but since I’ll be starting the chart soon, it will be a sit-quietly-and-concentrate project. Luckily for me, I recently traded in some games and got Resident Evil: Revelations for my Nintendo 3DS (the only game console that wasn’t stolen) to while away my commute time. I don’t know if I can stress this enough: I love me some zombie-killin’. Yes, I do. The very first Resident Evil was one of the first games I got when we first got a computer. I’m fairly sure it gave me nightmares, but they were AWESOME nightmares (my parents may disagree on that fact).

“Resident… Eeevillll”

I played a couple hours of it over the weekend, and it’s pretty off-the-hook cray-to-the-azy. The graphics are super neat and definitely the best I’ve seen on the DS. It’s also compatible with the extra thumb-stick attachment, which I don’t have, but I really haven’t felt that controls are lacking without it. It’s very intuitive and fun. Are you guys even into games? Zombies? Yes? No? Lemme know. If you likey I’ll talk more about it, if no, I’ll keep it to my own nerdy self.

Have you tackled intarsia knitting yet? Have any tips? Share-zies!  ^_^

Of Veggigurumi And Undead Books

Gentle reader,

I had the lovely opportunity of visiting Stephanie and Megan at Can Do Books in Hawthorn today. If you’re in Melbourne and you’ve not been, you really must go. Their selection of crafty and arty books are totes amazeballs, and the prices are kind of jaw-droppingly reasonable (which is a bit of a rare thing in Australia, actually!). We had a chat about some opportunities to do some really cool stuff together, so I’ll keep y’all posted. In the meantime though, do you mind if I show off the purchase I made while I was there? The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt!

Back from the dead!

The 4-1-1 on this book is that it was well popular and then it went out of print for a number of years (the publication details lists it’s last edition as being printed in 1988!). Demand was so high though that people went properly crazy and apparently second hand copies were selling for the $200 ballpark on eBay! Oy! But, it’s been revised and updated and is back on the shelves. Zombie book! It’s alive! I had a quick flip through and was overcome with the desire to take it home with me, so I did, as a matter of fact. I think these will sell like gangbusters, because it’s the kind of book that if you only ever bought one book about knitting, this would do perfectly. Seriously, this thing is so big you could brain someone with it. I tried flipping through some more on the train and I nearly dislocated my arm! And considering it only cost $49.99, let’s be real, I kind of feel like a stole it, just a lil’ bit. I’ll tell you some more about it when I’ve had more time to pour through it (seated safely at the table, mind. No more dislocations).

Meanwhile, I have some crochet FOs to show you! Back when I was at the Loch Quilt and Craft Festival, I was crocheting while I was sitting at my table, and I don’t know what possessed me, but I started to whip up some vegetables, or ‘veggigurumi’ as I like to call them. I did the aubergine first. Now, I would sooner eat my own sick than eat aubergine, but I think they’re pretty and I love their color. And this yarn colorway was even named “Rustic Aubergine” (Morris Estate 14 ply), so I suppose that might have sown the seed for veggigurumi. And the carrot was next because I happened to have a red-orange yarn and I actually do like carrots. So, there you have it!

Do carrots and aubergine even go together? I haven't a clue.

Anyway, I was really quite happy with how they turned out, actually! I think aubergines are a bit longer, but I wanted it to a be fat little nuggety one. I can’t quite remember what yarn the carrot was made of, but I suspect it was Sean Sheep from Big W (don’t pooh-pooh the Sean Sheep from Big W, it’s actually quite lovely!). The green bits were from some Magnum Soft, which is a pretty decent acrylic yarn if you’re on a budget. It’s quite squishy and not at all scratchy or plastic-y). I feel like I need a few more items for the collection, for a fruit/vegetable bowl or cornucopia if you will. Perhaps an apple or broccoli, I’m not sure.

Also, if you missed it, I’ve opened an Etsy store, which you can visit here! And, if you go to this post and comment, I’ll send you a coupon code for 15% off, just ‘cuz I love you. ^_^ Truth be told, you can comment on any post and say you want a coupon code. Ask and ye shall receive.

Have you bought some awesome books lately? Share, share, share!

A Sock, A Beret, And A Tune

Gentle reader,

After the Loch festival, I’ve been laying low – also because of some dental work, oy! – but I’ve been pottering away at some thing here and there, and I also had my phone upgraded to an iPhone 4S, so I figured I’d test out the camera and show you some stuff!
First up, while I was visiting my folks over Christmas, I’d decided that I was going to knit my Ma some socks. She’d bought me the book “Closely Knit” by Hannah Fettig for a Christmas gift, and then I asked her to pick out some sock yarn. Now, Spotlight in a smallish-biggish town doesn’t have the greatest selection, and the yarn my Ma chose didn’t even have a ball band, so I’ve got no idea what it is. It’s not what I’d have chosen for myself, but it’s not for myself, now, is it?

I like to call him "Halfie".

At any rate, I’ve knit the first sock which I’ll send to Ma for a fit before I do the other. I feel like it’s a little big (considering it fit me comfortably), but I knit it by the pattern according to shoe size and my Ma’s foot length, and my tension was slightly tighter – maybe two or three stitches less over four inches – so, I dunno, I’ll see what she thinks when she tries it.

The pattern in the book was really easy to follow, and explained the stuff I hadn’t done before really clearly. I’d never done the folded picot edge before, and I probably squealed myself silly when I’d done it and declared “I’M GOING TO KNIT ALL OF THE THINGS WITH A PICOT EDGE!!!“. Also, I’d never done a top-down sock or used Kitchener stitch to cast off before, so they were good times had.

It wasn’t all fun and games, obviously. It never occurred to Little Stupid here that knitting a heel flap with self-striping yarn looks pretty naff and I ought to have used a plain yarn or an afterthought heel. Which I already knew, but my mind left me for the duration of this sock. I particularly hate the single-row stripe on the top of the foot. Oy. Well, next time I shan’t be so daft, promise. Another weird thing: my stitches are usually quite even and neat, but they’re a little bit cray-to-the-azy here… I did notice that the yarn was particularly twisty and I had to de-twist a LOT more than usual, so I’m going to put it down to that.

Anyway, the book is super nice, and I’d definitely recommend it. For the Australian peeps, Ma and I found it at Lincraft for $7, which is a serious find considering how neat this book is. I almost felt like we were stealing it, y’all! Anyhoo, I’m planning to knit up a few of the projects and reviewing it. Hands up if you’re interested. There’s also a really nice plain sweater for gentlemen in here that I’m pondering.

Meanwhile, all summer my receding hairline and I have been bemoaning my lack of summer hats to hide my hair trauma and prevent scalp sunburn, but other things took precedent and I neither bought nor made any. And then, after Loch, I figured I’d put my new-found crafting freedom towards more hats, but really, summer’s nearly over, so I thought to heck with that idea, I’ma make me a new beret! I do love a good beret. So, I pulled out this Cleckheaton book, “She Knits” and, FYI Cleckheaton, He Knits too.

Gettin' my beret on. Well, not for a while yet.

Now, I love the Cleckheaton Country yarns, but I love Morris Estate better, so I bought myself some balls of Estate 8 ply in a lovely dusty, tweedy green (Sage 8046) and got started. It was really hard to make the color to come through accurately on my iPhone, so you’ll just have to trust me on this one. It’s green and yummy; truth. I know, green is so unusual for me, right? The pattern is not the most exciting thing as far as knitting it goes, but it’ll be a nice pick-up-put-down project while I do other things. I’ll keep you posted!

To finish off, I wanted leave y’all with a song! It’s been a while since I’ve shared some tunes, and this album is making me fall in love with it all crazy-like, so here ’tis. I love me some shimmery, shiny, melancholy, synthy deliciousness.

Do like knitting socks? How do you deal with Second Sock Syndrome? Also, feel free to share your fave tune of the moment! Commentses? I heart them!

– R

December Travels – Chapter Three – Thrifting!

Gentle reader,

This will probably be the last of my December Travels posts before I get back down to business. But, it’s also probably the post I’m most excited to share with you!

I don’t know about you, but I love, love, LOVE a good poke about a thrift store. Back when I used to do costume design, I would hit the thrift stores hard – I once costumed a cast of 30+ on $200 with change to spare – but I didn’t come to love it until I quit theater and started thrifting for myself. Some things just aren’t fun when it’s work!

Well, while I was up in Queensland, I managed to do a bit of crafty thrifting and I think I did pretty well! First up, while I was in Brisbane, Panda and I dropped into this crazy antique store that we happened upon. It was quite big, and was more of a serious antique/collectors store, and some of the treasures in there were mind-blowing (with prices to match, in a good way!), but they also had some small little lovelies with more thrifty prices. Naturally, I managed to sniff out the craft accoutrements and patterns in no time, and I picked up these babies with change out of a tenner.

Lower left! Totes adorbz, yes?

After my few days in Brisbane, I caught the bus to my home town. After Christmas, my fantastic friends, Alf and Robert, drove up from Brisbane to visit me and we went thrifting! Now, my home town has some amazing thrifting. Because it’s a smaller town, and perhaps a little bit conservative, it’s not yet caught on that thrift stores are a bit “cool” these days. Or at least, that’s what it was like last time I shopped there…

But now, they’d finally caught on! And prices reflected that. Which isn’t a bad thing, mind. Most of them are charity stores, remember! So more money in their pockets are a good thing. But, I still felt a small niggle of nostalgia for the days of filling a bag for two dollars. Ahhh!

We popped into a few stores (in spite of my nearly getting us horribly lost a few times – it’s been a long time since I’ve had to get around town, everything had changed!), but nothing struck my fancy. Until we got to the big Lifeline store, and I managed to find a taste of the old days with some ridiculously cheap gems!

It seems that while it’s caught on that thrifting is “cool”, it’s yet to catch on that knitting and crochet is now a bit “cool” too! I found two pattern books and… A DROP SPINDLE!

I love the aran sweater on the front, but there are some tragic beauties inside!
"Raynie! Take me home! I've been waiting for you!"

Now, none of their patterns were priced, and I don’t think anyone knew what the spindle was. I took them to the counter, and I was served by the most gorgeous elderly lady named Vera. She looked them over, and not seeing any prices, she ummed to herself for a bit.

“How does fifty cents sound?” she asked with a lovely big smile.

I was floored! “Really!?” I exclaimed. I rummaged in my wallet and found a two dollar coin. “Let’s make it two dollars, shall we?”

“One dollar!” countered Vera, bless her!

“Vera! Why are you trying to talk me down? Take the two dollars!” I said with a laugh. She looked at me for a second and then giggled as she took the coin and bagged up my purchases. Too adorable!

I think vintage patterns are becoming a compulsion for me. I don’t even really intend to make most of them. Definitely some of the mens patterns. But, even if I don’t plan on using them, I just adore them! And I feel like, what will happen to them if sympathetic crafters don’t take them home? I can see this becoming a hoarders-like situation. Oy.

Things will be back to normal after this one, I think! Be prepared, I have a finished object parade busting to be blogged, and I have lots of exciting news (classes, anyone?). So, stay tuned!

What are your favorite thrift store purchases? Share, share, share!

– R

Of Birthdays And Nests

Gentle reader,

It was my birthday on Wednesday, and I really wasn’t going to make a thing of it, but I got so much unexpected love and such thoughtful and sweet gifts that I wanted to show ’em off a bit.

Birthday Swag From Some Awesome Peeps! ❤
  • Judith got me a whole bunch of Japanese books she happened across at a thrift store. Some of them are children’s books which are great for reading practice when your kanji comprehension is atrocious (yes, that would be me), and the rest seem like text books for lower grades in Japan rather than actual “Hey foreigner! Learn some Japanese!” books (well, except for one).
  • Marelle and Kendyl got me some funny stickers and a gift voucher for Minotaur (for non-Melburnians, Minotaur is a shop that is more or less the geek mother ship).
  • And Jules (of Woollenflower fame) got me two amazing old crochet books, which I’m sure you’ll see more of. “Crochet Sweaters” is a priceless mix of really tasteful and timeless gems (including a couple for gentlemen!) and utterly tragic disasters that makes me laugh so hard that I’m in danger of peeing myself. Not kidding.
"How do you do, Raynor? I'm your new home. Step inside, won't you?"

Meanwhile, my house is slowly, slowly getting sorted out, but I’ve been procrastinating yet again. At any rate, the more time I spend in the house, the more I love it. It has quite a bit of character and I really hope I can channel my interior designer and really make it the cozy home it deserves to be. (Let’s be real though, I kind of just want it to be the same as Katie and Reuben’s place, ala House of Humble. I can’t lie.)

Finally… tomorrow (Friday) is the last day to comment on my other post here to win yourself a squishable, scrummy ball of yarn. So, go do that! I want to share the love.

What’s been the best birthday gift you’ve ever gotten? (Or the most disastrous…?)

– R