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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Home, Sweet Home

Just a quick note to let everyone know I made it to my home-home (in Geelong) safe and sound yesterday.

I have pub-knitting, finished gifts, woollen mills and hand-dye to post about - so stop by in the next couple of days for photos and details.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Rosemary - that's for remembrance

My first ANZAC day out of uniform -I am not going to any services today, but I will not let the day pass unnoticed - and not just because Pierre was barking at 5am because the bugles strains of "the Last Post" were in the air from a dawn service.

Please take a moment and pay your respects to those you have served our country in uniform, and especially those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. The personnel in our defence force serve without questioning - in an environment without democracy, to support and maintain our own democracy. Even if you are opposed to conflicts and hostilities they are fighting in, remember, the personnel deserve your support even if the cause doesn't.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Lest we forget.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

exhaustion

following 12 hours of removalists in the house, having a small dog connected to a belt loop via his lead, lots of "this is going; this is staying", and "loom is spelt L-O-O-M not L-U-M-E" finally all my possessions (bar the knitting projects and yarn I just can't part with, my laptop, camera and effects, ipods, some toiletries and a few clean changes of clothes... oh, and Grey's DVDs for Lucy Loo) are sitting in a shipping container and will be somewhere between Sydney and geelong until next Monday.

I have too much stuff. Way too much. I dread having to unpack the crap. (I am so glad I had professional removalists organised for me - no way would I get everything down to geelong by myself)

And I said good-bye to Tuffers this evening. He is going to an ANZAC day Dawn service tomorrow so is staying at a more convenient friends place in the city and I won't see him again before I leave town. I am looking forward to starting afresh back home, but I will miss this life a little.

The highlight of the day - my second rockin' sock club package showing up this morning. oh so pretty... need another skein so I can make the knee-highs.

Good night all!

Friday, April 20, 2007

I stand corrected!

(If you are new here, please read this post, and then Click on the skullcandy banner at the top of my sidebar so I can get free stuff!)

In my review of Men who knit and dogs who love them, I made the comment that I thought that Eastern knitting was the Same as continental knitting. Ginny pointed this out in the comments, but I also received this email from L, one of my fellow North Sydney Pubknitters which provides a detailed explanation which is so good I had to share:

I was reading your blog today and saw your comment about Continental
(Eastern) knitting in your review of the book "Men who knit and the dogs
who love them". Just thought I should point out that Continental and
Eastern knitting are not the same. Continental knitting is where the
yarn is held in the left hand, but the yarn is wrapped around the needle
in the same direction as when the yarn is held in the right hand.
Eastern knitting the yarn is wrapped around the needle in the opposite
direction to what is done in Western knitting. So in Eastern knitting
the yarn does sit on the needles "back-to-front".




To quote Priscilla A. Gibson-Roberts (what a mouthful), from Knitter's
#40, "When wrapped from front to back for both the knit and purl
stitch, the leading side will be on the front of the needle (Western
knitting). When wrapped from back to front for both the knit and purl
stitch, the leading side will be on the back of the needle (Eastern
knitting)."




Mary Thomas's "Knitting Book" (first published in 1938) also discusses
English knitting (yarn in right hand), Continental knitting (yarn in
left hand) and then Eastern knitting which "is formed by reversing both
the movements of the yarn and the needles as worked by the Western
methods, so that the Plain or Uncrossed Knit Stitches are made through
the back of the loop...".






From what I understand from this, Continental and English knitting create the same fabric, albeit in different ways. Eastern knitting is actually a completely different technique that creates a different fabric - rather like double knitting creates a different fabric from other colourwork techniques. L will be bringing Mary Thomas's Knitting Book along to pub knitting on Monday so I shall be sure to check it out.



And on the topic of pub-knitting, Monday night will be my last public stitch'n'bitch in Sydney. If anyone in the vicinity wants to drop by, please do! We meet from 7pm upstairs at the Station Hotel opposite North Sydney train station (funnily enough!)



I'm preparing for a very busy week - apart from pubknitting on Monday, all my possessions will be packed up and put on the back of a truck on Tuesday, on Wednesday the 'Randall' knitters are throwing me a bit of a party, and thursday I will be starting my Drive down to Canberra(I know it's not an s'n'b night but anyone want to meet for a coffee?) , stopping for the night before hopefully making it all the way back to Geelong on Friday.





Of course what good is a road trip without a little yarny goodness? I got in touch with ACS, and plan to stop at the Wangaratta Woollen Mills - they don't do tours (doh) but I hear they have a backroom just like Bendy!





As you can tell, I am a rather chatty person, so in my email to ACS I invited them to stop by the blog, and also asked for permission to use content of their websites when I do product reviews. I received the following feedback, that makes me feel warm and fuzzy :)

Hi Meg.

Thank you for your enquiry via our website/s. I have taken a look at your blog site, very nice and comprehensive. Please feel free to mine our websites for info etc. We have just released our 2007 ranges which are making their way into stores all over Australia and New Zealand. We have led the swing back to natural fibres over the last couple of seasons and we are all happy with the results, naturally soft and light yarns.

Kind regards and happy blogging,


PS re Shadow tweed you can look up stockists via the Patons site once you have moved, until then Spotlight should have stock of the yarn and book.

Regards,
Stephen Hooper
Marketing Assistant






How fantastic to get this sort of feedback from a yarn manufacturer!

However, I was actually inquiring about stockist for the new cleckheaton yarn I have my eye on- Vintage Hues. Has anyone seen this yet? It's another bulky weight yarn with long colour repeats, but this on is 100% wool. I'm guessing it would be very similar to Twilleys Of Stamford Freedom Wool. And look at that packaging - they definitely are not being shy about Noro-esque.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

knitpicks review... finally!

(Sorry, but this is a photo heavy post - if your on a slow connection please give it a minute or two to load. Also, the skullcandy banner is still awaiting your click over in the sidebar!)

These needles can almost be summed up completely in the two words my favourite 2yo says everytime he sees me using them:-

  1. shiney
  2. pointy

I'd have to add one other word to that:

  • smooth

But these are so good, that I have to use a few more words....

BKP (Before KnitPicks) my favouritest needles were tulip bamboo (circular and DPNs) - so I am using these for comparison...

The Join...

The most important part of circular needles is how the cable joins the needle.

As you can see on the left - the transition between the cable and needle on the tulip bamboo has a rather sudden bump in it. In this size needle (4.5mm) this was not a problem - however, in the smaller sizes, the bump in the cable made it difficult to get stitches past, and in the larger needles, the transition from cable to needles was sometimes too sudden and you had to work to get the stitches back on the needles.

As you can see, there is no bump in the transition from cable to needle, and out to the needle size, is perfectly smooth. I haven't had any problems with the joins coming undone or snagging stitches, provided I used the small wire key to tighten the screw into the needle.

Due to the screw on the end of the cable, the smallest in the interchangeable set is 3.5mm (the exact same size of the screw housing - it couldn't get any smaller). However, there are smaller circulars available. I have not had the need to use these yet, nor purchased any but I assume that they have similar attributes.

And as far as that smooth transition out to the needle diameter - it is still fantastic for the larger needle sizes. Shown left is an 8mm needle, and you can see that the angle out to the full diameter of the needle is nice and gradual. The needles go up to a chunky 12mm and the taper from cable to needle makes for great knitting.

I have knitted a sleeve and back on the 8mm already, and found the larger needles to be quite comfortable to knit with (and any joins invisible)

The point....

This is where knitpicks holds all the cards - a nice sharp point on the needle which makes it perfect for lace knitting, splitty yarns and cables-san-cable-needle

This is a fairly new bamboo needle, and as you can see it is rather blunt in comparison - fine for most DK yarns, but sometimes it is just a tad bit blunter than I would like. Of course, there are two problems with the points on bamboo needles once the have suffered a bit of use - firstly, the points tend to get blunter with general wear, and secondly, with further use they can begin to split - causing terrible knitting heartache.

But what I did like about the tips of these bamboo needles was the angle from the needle diameter to the tip. This angle is incredibly important when knitting - to sharp and it can be hard to get the needle through a stitch, and two shallow and you may end up knitting with a section of the needle smaller than your desired diameter. Knitpicks has done their research well - take note that the angles of the knitpicks and bamboo are almost identical (there is something magical about this angle, knitpicks uses it as the transition from the cord to needle - if you are thinking of making your own needles you may want to measure this angle!)

The cord...

No pictures for this section - but knitpicks claim that the cord is kinkfree with as little memory as possible... and I fully agree. The only problem I had with the cord is that in the deluxe set I started with I received 60, 80, 120 and 152 cm cords. I would have preferred the 100cm instead of one of the longer cords. However, at less than 5bucks a pop that was a problem quickly rectified.

The DPNs

These come in 15cm lengths for the smaller sizes (2-3.25mm) which I really love. I have stated before, that I am a rather tight knitter - that means that when I have used bamboo and rosewood DPNs previously I could feel a bit of strain in the needle. I haven't had the misfortune of breaking one, but I can understand how it could happen. (however, these don't come without their own hazards - see here and here!)

The also have the same point as the interchangables, so perfect for cables-sans-cable-needle, because, lets face it, you're already juggling 5 needles, why add more into the mix?

These are excellent value, they start at just under $8 for a set of 5 incredibly sturdy needles. (I love that they come in sets of five. I have in the past bought two packets of four DPNs so I could knit with five.)

And slightly off topic - I finally started my phallic sock - I had to buy DPNs in new sizes for the rockin' sock club patterns, and so far am loving the yarn, and this pattern. I will always be smiling when I wear these socks because I will have the thought I am walking over all men!

The feel..

My mum has often had a bit of a laugh at me because I don't like using metal needles on cold days. Indeed, this is one of the reason I preferred bamboo or wooden needles - they are warm to the touch. So was this a problem with the knitpicks???

Surprisingly, no. As the knitpicks needle tips are hollow they are quick to warm up while you knit.

And the other complaint I have heard mention is that the knitpicks maybe too pointy. Did I have this problem... Well, initially yes, but I have developed a useful "knitting callus" on my index finger and thumb. There are a couple of tips I can give you to help while your callus is developing:-

  1. for prevention: handcream, often - when your fingers are dry, it is easier to poke between the ridges on your fingertips.
  2. for first aid: bandaids, when needed - I'd suggest the kiddie-sized waterproof ones... I prefer the sesame street one, but really, each to their own...

The accessories...

Where to begin! I got so many with the set.

I guess, first of all we will have to talk about the handy organisation system. There is a place for everything in the binder I got with the deluxe set - The needle tips fit nicely into the triple pockets, the cords do well in the double pockets, and the DPNs are at home in the single pockets. (BTW - I am using the packaging for the extra needle tips I bought to hold the DPN sets altogether. It seemed easier than having to fish them out of the pocket one by one)

At the back of the folder there is a pen holder, and room for a notebook or pattern photocopy. In the front, there is a zipper pocket (perfect for PTYS stitchmarkers - couldn't resist a plug) and an expanding pocket which holds your needle sizer/ gauge ruler.

All together the folder can be a bit bulky, but I intend to leave this at home and just take the needles in use with my when I go a-travelling with my knitting.

Now, I have to talk about the needle sizer/ gauge ruler.

Knitpicks were incredibly smart when then designed the set - not only did they recognised that the US system of needle sizing wasn't standardised, but they decided they could count to ten, and use the metric system to get exact needle sizes.

This was quite a bold move - and to try and integrate their system into the US market, they made this great needle sizer that has both US and metric needle sizes on it (and also show just how inexact the US system is - just what does a US 1 or 2 convert to?) Okay, so I hear you say 'so what!' - after all, myself, I already had 2 needle sizers with metric, english or US system on them. But what makes this really cool is the magnified gauge ruler incorporated into the same tool.

And this also utilises the metric system - it is a 15cm ruler, label in both cm and inches - and the magnified part has a red line marking out both 10cm and 4". Quite useful to use as gauge is usually referred to in inches, while tension is usually in cm. Yes, I know they are the same thing, but 10cm is not quite 4" - and perhaps that half stitch may make a big difference. (And yes, that is my holey argyle - growing oh so slowly!)

Of course, there is one other reason knitpicks had to make this tool...

Unlike the nifty tulip bamboo needles that have the size printed on them, knitpicks don't. Quite a problem if your DPNs are all floating in the same plastic pocket, or you mix the tips up a bit. Luckily this comes with the set.

Also included with the set are the needle size ID tags and cable end caps. It is understandable that, if you are not a monogamous knitter like me, you may have more than one project on the go at once, and may need the same tips you have on another cord. The idea is that you take off the needle tips, slip an ID tag on the cord (preferably one that correlates to the size needles you were using) and then put the stoppers on. The needle ID tags have the US sizes on one side and the metric on the other, and currently, I use each tag in the pocket with the relevant size needle tip.

I find the end caps very useful to convert the cables into stitchmarkers. In the picture to the left, I am actually trying my hardest to force the stitches off the cable, but the end caps work very well!

The Price...(this is in AUD - please ignore this if you are not purchasing in Australia)

The RRP for the deluxe set is $129, but because I pre-ordered my set through Tapestry Craft I was lucky to get it for $99 (although this is a moot point - someone else paid for the set as a birthday present). If you can't afford to by the big set all at once - don't worry. You are really only saving about 70 cents over buying the pieces separately (YES - I worked it out!)

However - DO NOT bother buying either the Entry or Chunky set. These work out more expensive than buying the pieces separately (by about 10 bucks!) and they vinyl case you get with it is not worth it. I'd suggest using the extra 10 bucks to by a couple of sets of plastic pockets so you can start building up your own 'deluxe set'. I haven't tested this, but I am pretty sure that the pockets will fit into a filofax system, so if you can't afford a knitpicks folder this may be a good storage alternative.

I found it useful to buy the 4 size needle tips I didn't get with the set (3.75, 9, 10 & 12mm) so I would have the full system available, as well as a couple of extra cords in the shorter lengths and extra pockets so I could store it all easily. As mentioned, I also bought the full range of 15cm DPNs (2 - 3.5mm with increments of .25mm) - mainly because I wanted to be ready for whatever the rockin' sock club gave me this year in any gauge. I aim to get the complete set with the classic circulars in smaller diameters, and the 20cm DPNs - but that will be a long time work in progress, as I will only buy those sizes as I require them.

As previously mentioned, I bought mine at Tapestry Craft, but I have also heard that Doni has come through with the goods. Prestige Yarns is the distributor and will have the info if you require a stockist closer to home. There is also a full price list on their site.

And now for something completely different...
This is my secret knitting - I am sharing here because I doubt my Pop (maternal grandpa) will read the blog, and am hoping that Mum won't show him until after I have finished them.

Fingerless mits, in manly olive green and brown - they are massively big for me, so I am hoping they will therefore fit him. These will be for his birthday next weekend - which I will hopefully make it down to Geelong for.


And this is the beginning of a noggin warmer for Dilby... I love the way flash photography makes you want to reach for your sunglasses..





And here is Pierre - wanting to know why I have been blogging for 3 hours and if I am ready to go to bed yet. Didn't realise I would take so long to write this up!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Bendy's website..

(Appears I still haven't gotten 100 clicks on the skullcandy banner on the top of my sidebar - no free headphones yet. If you haven't clicked yet, please do!)

I will plead guilty. I put a link in my last post that I did not check.

Last week I received the new bendy shade card, an on the back there were these details:- Unfortunately, it appears the website isn't live yet. I know the email works - and I can even recall reading on a westcoast USA knit-blog that someone was waxing lyrical on the value of good ol' bendy (For those not in the know, Bendigo Woollen Mills retails for about $10AUD for 200grams of yarn - for more info use the details above)

However, I would like Bendy to have a website with all the shade available because...

...Pierre decide to have a little fun with the shade card while I was at work today (last shift at this store, as has transfer has not yet been confirmed I may well again be unemployed...)

The only shades I can match with their names are 3 colours in the Mystique yarn. You can see those to the right of P's ear below...

Now, one thing I forgot to mention in the Lincraft review yesterday is that they also have a very good range of knitting needles now available. The have a full range of Sullivan's Bamboo straights and circulars, as well as the metal needles they have previously been stocking. I haven't given any of these road-tests, and nor do I plan to - but these do look like they are slightly higher quality than the straight bamboo needles spotlight is stocking at the moment.

I also sent an email off to Lincraft, to invite them to stop by the blog and see what I had written in the review. I got the following reply, that I wanted to share.

Hi Meg

Thanks for the email…we did get your review as we monitor all the blogs. Thank you for your comments.

Our buyer is currently in Japan sourcing some exciting craft fabric but I will pass on your comments.


We have now had the business for two years and slowly but surely things are coming together. I am sure you appreciate what an enormous task it has been to resurrect what was a very sick business.

As for “acrylic mohair” your comments are noted….it is done in the vain of “faux fur”…clearly not fur!!! Possible we should label it “acrylic in mohair style” or the like..I will certainly take that on board. I hope we can continue to improve and appreciate your feedback.

Brian Swersky

Joint Managing Director
Lincraft Australia Pty Ltd

I like it when companies are responsive to feedback.

I will certainly share the details of how the 8ply socks go. The intended recipient is my brother (who thinks it is cool that I can make socks!) so he will be the guinea pig. He has ridiculously large feet (size 14 or there abouts) so making socks out of thinner yarn would be a never-ending project.

And as for my knitting - I have a bit of a secret project on the go at the moment that I want finished before I get to homehome aka Geelong. I have also started my monsoon socks, and a gorgeous hat for a terrific-two-year-old. I will post pictures tomorrow, hopefully with my...wait for it... knitpicks review!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Yarn review - Lincraft's new range..

(Thanks to everyone who has clicked the skullcandy banner - if you haven't yet please do. The banner is at the top of the sidebar.)





When Lincraft when into receivership in quickly turned into linCRAPT for knitters - the only yarns they were stocking were their own line of no-longer-novel novelty yarns. I found this rather sad, as when I started knitting (several years ago) the only place I knew to yet yarn from was Departmental Craft Stores. Last week I did a bit of running around Lincraft with my camera to bring you this review. (Was a rather amusing day, I was wearing a peaked cap and sunglasses due to the tail end of a migraine - I'm sure the staff there thought I was a ring-in from spotlight comparing prices!)



However, on we shall go - walk into any Lincraft these days, and you see that they are once again taking knitting as a serious craft. When you see this in the window...


...you know that they have come home to knitters. I have been to four different Lincraft stores in the past two weeks (I don't actively hunt them out, but I am always keen to check them out when I go by) and am incredibly happy that they are once again stocking the full range of Australian Country Spinners (cleckheaton, patons, panda, etc) yarns. And once again, they have knitted samples in store......which I previously found encouraging (the funnelneck feathers sweater was the first "big" project I attempted, and is still my oldest UFO. The yarn is still around here somewhere - in my defence, I was 19 at the time and feathers was the COOLEST yarn!)

However - what I really want to talk about are the new Lincraft branded yarns available. On the weekend, someone mentioned that the reason the novelty yarns were all that were available at Lincraft for so long was because when they went into receivership they were probably committed to the orders with their brand on the label, but were able to back out with other suppliers. Now that things have settle down, and they are back into the swing of things they have brought out their own line of yarns with .... NATURAL FIBRE content!



They have also released their first knitting magazine with patterns to support this line of yarns (as well as some of the novelty yarns). This magazine retails for $4.99, or $3.99 for LincraftClub members (you may have to remind the sales assistant of this - it was only when I pulled the laminated sign saying this off the shelf and showed it to the assistant at the till that I got my discount)I would consider this magazine as a good starting point for beginners. There are knitting and crochet lessons inside, and the patterns go up to amateur level - but nothing involved nor advanced techniques. The patterns are equivalent to free ones available on the internet, but if you aren't ready for yarn substitution or there is a pattern you really like in there, for 4 bucks you can't go wrong. It is more involved than the knitting magazine Spotlight had out last year, but lacks the discount voucher the Spotlight mag had. (The spotlight mag was $2.50 and had a 20% off yarn voucher - meaning if you were buying enough yarn for a project it was cheaper to buy the magazine to use the discount than not)



The editorial mentions the magazine is in response to customers asking for patterns to use with the Lincraft range of yarns - it is also a way to showcase their new yarns with natural fibres.



There are several new yarns, as well as the Cosy Wool which as been relaunched as a completely feltable wool (if you buy the new purple labeled ones). Apart from the cosy wool, the rest of the natural fibre yarns are blends, containing acrylic, nylon or polyamide. So far I have bought some of the wool/nylon and wool/acrylic blends to try.



Shown above, I have purchased the Balmoral Tweed (75/25 wool/nylon) and Glen-eagles Tweed (50/50 wool/acrylic) that I want to try using for some super-thick socks. I am hoping that the man-made content will help to prevent felting whilst inside a sweaty work boot. If this idea works I think I will have found the cheapest DK weight sock yarn on the market!





The great thing I have discovered are the knitted swatches instore. There is one of these for each yarn in the Lincraft range which helps to visualise how a garment might look in a certain yarn. I have found that the alpaca blend yarn (called Lima) is incredibly soft! If I could think of a project for it I would snap some up.



The blended yarns retail from about $4-5 - not incredibly cheaper than Patons or Cleckheaton, but if you are on a budget it will save you a few bucks in the long run, especially on a large garment or blanket/afghan. (However, your best bet is Bendigo Woollen Mills if you are after natural fibre)

So there is one new Lincraft yarn that I missed - the 100% silk, which looks a lot like recycled sari silk. This one isn't available in all stores (yet?) - I have seen it in the city and at CastleTowers, but not at Roselands or Belconnen.

It retails for $12.99 a skein (yes, skeins - a sure sign of a 'luxury' yarn!) and feels rather nice in the skein. There are not any swatches up for this yarn (possibly because it's too hard to knit directly from the skein and Lincraft don't stock swifts... or ballwinders...) but I believe it is an excellent price for a silk yarn, and compared with prices on ebay, a fairly inexpensive option for recycled sari silk.
One of the great things about the Lincraft 100% silk is that rather than just being all the same colourway (that mainly red with some blue and random other colours that my end up looking like catsick when all knit up) comes in a range of hues.If you have been tempted by the idea of recycled sari silk before, but turned off by the colours available (like I have) this may be your answer. It is spun rather tightly, so I'd suggest going with a needle size up from what you would usually use.

There is no mention of this in the Lincraft knitting magazine, hence no pattern support - but there is a great pattern for a bag on knitty.com. I have also seen some great hats at a market, so I have nabbed a skein in the aqua blue colourway to play around with.

My guess is that this yarn is too 'new' for the publication - the other yarns featured were in store a good month or two before the magazine came out. It appears that there will be future issues of the Lincraft Yarn magazine, so perhaps there will be some patterns with silk then.

And the final item in the Lincraft Knitting Magazine isn't a yarn - it's Sullivan's wool roving, which is featured for a couple of needle felting projects. As far as roving goes, it's expensive for spinning, but if you only want a small amount in a couple of different colours, it will probably suit your needs.

Now, because I am on a natural fibres wave, I just want to point something out:- I can understand how people can mix up cashmere, mohair and angora when they talk about fibre. Cashmere comes from cashmere goats, but mohair comes from angora goats, and angora comes from bunny rabbits (usually referred to with the tautology 'rabbit angora' to help prevent confusion)

Acrylic, as far as I know, is man-made...

So my question is... How did Lincraft get it to grow on the goats????

And back to the bunnies - this is a cropped cardigan in Ralph Lauren. Completely handknit in a angora/merino blend and just shy of $400 (really not a bad price when you consider how much time can be put into a handknit, however, from memory, anything done on an analog knitting machine can be labeled 'handknit')

Now, this is completely soft to touch, and amazing to look at, but I really want to draw your attention to the cables. Specifically - the cables within cables. What amazing detail!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Kniterature - Men who knit and the dogs who love them

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Title: Men who knit and the dogs who love them
Author: Annie Modesitt,Drew Emborsky
ISBN-10: 1579908748
ISBN-13: 9781579908744
Format: Hardcover
# of Pages: 144
Publisher: Lark Books (NC)
Published: 2007
Book Source: Dymocks
Price: $39.95
Skill level/Audience: Beginners to Intermediate

I wanted to like this book. I REALLY REALLY wanted to like this book. But expectations set by the title were not met.

When I nabbed it in Dymocks, I thought - what's cuter than a man that knits? How bout a man that knits and has a dog?? I was looking forward to anecdotes a la Franklin, Brooklyn Tweed and Guido Two-skeins (oh - and of course, David)




In the bookshop, I saw these one sentence blurbs, and thought they were highlights from a larger interview or article which would tell you more about the "Men who knit". Sadly, when I got home I found these "purls" were the only wisdom from the Men who shared their knitting experience with the author, and they are sporadically and infrequently scattered throughout the book. And as for the "dogs who love them" - not one of the male knitters so much as mentions a Fido.

So then my next thought was that patterns were knitted by men, or that male knitters had a big input into the finished objects shown in the book - but a quick look at the list of test knitters shows that there were a surprisingly large amount of female names listed...





Which left me with the idea that, perhaps, rather than models - real knitters were used for the pictures... but I'm not sure. First of all, the author thanks all the models (male and canine) for their assistance. And look at how this guy is holding his yarn... You be the judge.. So I get my major gripe with this book is the title is very misleading. Perhaps "Sweaters for Men and Dogs designed by a Woman and a Man-who-c******ts-but-doesn't-knit" wouldn't have sold many books but it would have been a helluva lot more accurate.



So - lets re-assess our expectations and consider this as just a pattern book.



First of all - it contains the "learn to knit" section. Most of what I have learnt is from books and illustrations - and I have no idea what is going on in these diagrams





I can knit both English (western in this book) and Continental (Eastern) and I have never had my stitches sit on the needles back to front. I understand that Annie Modesit has a rather quirky way of knitting, and says that there is no right or wrong way of knitting - but it feels here that she is trying to justify her special brand of knitting as a traditional style. I wouldn't recommend the lesson in this text to anyone wanting to learn how to knit.



However, what this text does do well is explain how to size both people and dogs. It has clear diagrams and tables that allow the knitter to ensure that they can knit a garment that fits.





Which really only leaves us with the patterns. From my extremely scientific survey of approximately 5 men, the best quote I got about these garments is that "only a man incredibly comfortable with his sexuality would wear these". This is mainly a comment on the colours used - for example, this item wouldn't be worn by any man I know. Or even any woman I know...



However, even if you could get past the gaudy colours (that would still look out of place at a psychedelic 60s drug party) - the construction still a very simple drop shouldered sweater. (although the model in this picture does have yarn woven through his fingers - is this one of the fabled "men who knit"?)



This colour combination of this sweater made a hungover Lara reach for painkillers - however, I would quite like this knitted in subtler colours.



This sweater was the all-round favourite. Again, the colours are a bit bright for most men I know, but they aren't completely out-there. Yes - there are a lot of matching Man & Dog sweaters - needless to say, the sweaters look a hellava lot cuter in the dog version. However, I think the men's toe-up socks are great, but didn't need the matching paw-covers for the dog.



If you are keen for some great knits for your pet fido, this is a great book. This dog bed was one of the winners-



- and quite possibly would make a nice interesting throw cushion for a couch as well. There is also a great pattern for dog toys, and several of the doggy sweaters are quite dignified (however, the doggie "saddle-bags" were a bit crazy)

Grab "men who knit and the dogs who love them" if you are keen for some cute patterns for your pup, otherwise I'd suggest you give it a miss.

If you are looking for some great men's knits, I would suggest you hunt down a copy of Patons new Jet book - in fact, if you're female (or a gay man) I'd suggest you grab just for the eye-candy of the models. I haven't seen it in store yet, but the preview on the Paton's site will have me keeping an eye out! (although I am not entirely sure chunky cardigans for men are ready for a comeback) Below is the news from Patons - notice not one mention of the sweater-curse...

Book 1266– Jet Mens
There is nothing more special than hand knitting a sweater for the man in your life! Patons Australia has received many requests for contemporary mens hand knits. In response, our design team has produced the Jet Mens Book 1266 containing 20 hand knitting styles – to suit all hand knitting skill levels from easy through to advanced knits. You’ll find sweaters, cardigans, vests and jackets – from the ever-popular classics through to styles reflecting the latest fashion trends. Sizes range from XS to XXL.
Patons Jet knitting yarn is a relatively quick to knit 12ply blend of 70% Wool and 30% Alpaca – for luxury and softness. Patons recommends Jet is knitted on 5.50mm knitting needles.
To add to your confidence with the Patons Brand, we offer a free help assistance telephone service – from 9am to 3.30pm Monday to Friday EST Australia. Our toll free number is – 1800 333 642. Any query can be answered by our professional design and knitting team. The Patons quality is assured – trust Patons – to help you knit for the man in you life.

And a photo from a lazy weekend

we invaded Fink Chocolate Cafe in Lane Cove with our needles and yarn. As we come into colder weather I'd suggest you stop by for the bestest hot chocolate north of the harbour.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Just to clear it up...

I was asked to do a recruiting photo shoot way back when Defence sponsored me to finish my Arts degree. However, I didn't realise that they ads would be all over public transport, all over the country, and that they would be using my real name (and for some time my real date of birth bar the year...) and it would still be following me around 3 years later.

I was told that the pictures (and an interview) would be used on a promotional CD sent out to prospective undergraduate sponsees... So a bit shocked when I got on the bus, but not completed unexpected as a couple of years ago a friend told me I rode on the tram to work with him every morning...

Hope that helps to clear a bit up!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Hoo-ray for Albert!

(quick note - thanks to anyone who has clicked on the skull-candy banner. If you haven't yet, it's over on the top of my sidebar! I've answered Q's about my headphones at the bottom of the post.

Also - thanks for the links to Vic knitting groups. I will check them out after I finish this post)

Eager to extend my knit-picks-bits, and use my $50 tapestry craft voucher, I have been calling Tapestry Craft regularly to find out if they had gotten in their extra shipment of knit-picks-bits.

Yesterday I called at about 4pm, spoke to the owner, Albert, and he told me that he was just opening the box with all the extra bits in it as he was talking to him, and if I went in-store today, I would be able to pick-up the bits I wanted.

Tapestry craft today was a bit hectic. There was a beginners crochet tutorial happening, and 3 sales attendants on the floor inundated with customers all asking difficult questions, looking for certain patterns and dye-lots.

To begin with I was a bit concerned as I didn't see any knit-picks paraphernalia anywhere - however, once I asked Albert rushed downstairs and ushered me into the back room where he then started to pull stock out of a cardboard box...

due to the busy morning the knit-picks stock hadn't yet been checked off against the invoice or put into their sales system....

but - SQUEE! - Albert let me pick what I wanted to take, and then found his price list and calculated whether it would be worth buying separate tips and cords, or the "chunky" set with some items I already had (and didn't need more of). Of course, this took some time - and was very nice of him to do it, as I was only going to buy the option that was cheaper for me.

I also grabbed the 15cm DPNs as well as some extra pockets. I came home with the following loot...
Of course, Albert was fantastic. He had to work out the retail price for each item (not in the system yet!) And then he had to figure out how to put the purchase through the til (again, not in the system) - and while this was going on he managed to answer the phone to get details of a dyelot someone was trying to match, and get the ball rolling on a special order for another instore customer without neglecting me.

Of course, what I was really happy with is that the prices for the knit-picks-bits were exactly the same as I have seen elsewhere - and I now have all of the interchangeable tip sizes, extra cords in the two smaller sizes, and DPNs in 2.0 - 3.25mm - and they all fit in the folder with the extra pockets I bought today. Nice and neat - I need all the help I can get to be tidy, so hopefully this system works!

I bought all the DPNs as I have a feeling I may be needing them to make my rockin' sock club socks. Now that I have the right sizes I will be starting on the Monsoon sock - and once I have used the DPNs I will be sharing my long-awaited review of the knit-picks.

The smaller circulars (that aren't available as interchangeable) and larger DPNs (in the 20cm size) I will probably purchase as I require them.

Oh - and because the knit-picks-bits aren't in the system yet, they won't show up on the website. If you're keen and unable to get to the store, I'd suggest giving them a call - I'm sure they would be keen to help you out, just as I was today.

A very weird moment...

I caught the bus home today and got quite a shock... this add was up in the bus 4 times...


What's so shocking about this add? well, see that tall figure on the right? She has my head...

And my name... She used to have my date of birth (but different year) but they seemed to have changed that a bit - they tend to keep me about 21! I'm not sure I really needed a body double though, I am rather proud of my figure...

So there was really 5 of me (or my head, really) catching the same bus home...

And what really cracked me up is this bit....

Have you got what it takes???? Well, I was medically discharged from the Navy, so I guess I didn't really have what it takes after all. Oh well... at least I can say I'm a model for a national advertising campaign....

And more free advertising for skullcandy

To answer Jejune's question's about how comfortable teh skull-candy earbuds are - I hate laying awake at night when I can't sleep, and Tuffer's hated it when I put the light on to read. I found these earbuds so comfortable that I could listen to audiobooks, lie on my side, and even fall asleep and when I woke up I didn't have any discomfort (except I missed quite a few chapters of my book) - I could never do that with my other ipod headphones.

Also to cater to different sized ears -


The include different sized rubber comfort plugs to go over the tip of buds. Like goldilocks, I find the small ones too small, the large ones too large, but the mediums ones just right. They stay in my ears while I'm running to catch a bus, but remain very comfy.

A couple of other features I like - you get a cute travel case for the earbuds, and there is a volume control on the cord, so you don't have to go fumbling in your bag for your ipod if you want to adjust the volume.