Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Winter Goals

I love the way one can see the sky through the Australian trees.

Life continues to give me lessons aimed at keeping me flexible in my plans and expectations. Even the weather brings surprises. Overcast days alternate with warmer nights. We throw off a layer or two of covers. We leave wool socks in a pile and dig through clothes, looking for something cool. We have no need for a morning fire. Winter isn't really over, it's just taking a break.

My Bendigo Woolen Mills yarn order arrived and I've completed a pair of knitted socks for the other twin who may not really like socks, but sometimes socks are required and perhaps that's when Gran's handknitted socks will find acceptance. (We grans know about patience.)

Second pair of handknitted Toddler Socks:
ChippySocks for Kids - pattern by ColorJoy
Bendigo's Harmony yarn
I began thinking I might want to knit a more colorful pair or two, like the one's illustrated in ColorJoy's Chippy Socks for Kids pattern. Then, reality struck and I faced the fact that I've never done colorwork knitting which requires knitting with two (or more) strands of yarn, held two in one hand or one in each hand. But, how hard can it be? My first go at a sample plainly demonstrated: yes, this is going to require patience....

Lucky for me, ColorJoy posted a series of five videos on YouTube. She made them to accompany a KnitAlong featuring another of her patterns, Crystal Socklet, published in Knitty. One of the ColorJoy videos addresses the how-to of colorwork. I feel encouraged after viewing it. Maybe I'll feel brave enough to start a pair of Crystal socklets for myself!

On the weekend I'll start spinning cotton as a member of the Tour de Fleece group in Ravelry. I joined the Team I Spin Cotton 2012. My goal is to use my Ashford wheel as well as a support spindle to spin cotton daily throughout the Tour de France. (Australia's Cadel Evans won the Tour de France last year.)

I plan to use the resultant handspun cotton yarn in my weaving project. I've finished sleying the reed for that project – though not until after discovering I had miscounted ends and had to wind two more. Next, I thread the heddles. I have plenty of plans. Life gives me opportunities to practice patience... while adapting and pursuing my goals.

Post by M in JaM
Photos by J in JaM

Monday, 18 June 2012


Toddler sock

I finished knitting a pair of toddler socks. They provide “growing room,” sez mum. As soon as my order for more Harmony yarn (30% wool, 69.6% cotton, 0.4% lycra) from Bendigo Woolen Mills arrives, I can begin knitting another pair... that's what you do when it comes to twins... you knit more!

I used a sock pattern called ChippySocks for Kids by ColorJoy. The pattern calls for 2-3 colours (and looks incredibly cheerful), but I had only one colour on hand. I found the pattern easy to follow. I think I'm getting quicker at knitting socks... but that's probably a personal illusion inspired by such small socks.

Have you noticed how many people these days seem to believe whatever suits them, ignoring facts to the contrary?

I cling to my small fantasy of getting faster at knitting socks. It gives me hope that I can produce knitted socks faster than the twins outgrown them. Since we live in the Tropics, socks are winter wear. Kids in Summer favour bare feet. I can take a break then... or get a headstart on the next winter.

Sleying the reed
When it comes to weaving, I've finally come to enjoy the complete process: winding a warp, sleying the reed, threading the heddles, beaming the warp, weaving and finishing. The complete process takes however long it takes. To avoid aggravating shoulder problems, I divide my weaving chores into numerous short sessions. I've reached the halfway mark in sleying the reed. 

Coffee assists with sleying the reed
You can see that a mug of coffee adds to my pleasure. I warp my loom front to back, following excellent instructions found in Warping All By Yourself by Cay Garrett. (No longer in print, but used copies can be found.) 

Post by M in JaM
Pix by J in JaM

Monday, 11 June 2012

Queen's Birthday

We've enjoyed this public holiday at home, sitting in front of the morning fire, walking the dog, visiting via the phone, reading things of interest on the internet and working on creative projects. Well aware of global financial problems, threats of mining expansion nearby, concern over water sources and water quality, climate change... well, to avoid being overwhelmed, we purposely turn our minds regularly to finding contentment near at hand.

Leg warmers, knitted last year (NeedleFood hand-dyed yarn)
Last week I stretched my knitted sock sample (no pics as yet) onto a toddler foot and realised I have to knit to the future, not to the moment. The sock was too small for one twin but fit the other twin's foot perfectly – we all know that perfect fit would last for about five minutes. By the time I got home, knit the sock's mate, mailed it and it arrived... there's no way the socks would fit. The twins are growing and changing so fast. So, my mission remains to knit two pairs of larger toddler socks that can be worn this winter, that is... NOW! I am not a fast knitter. Keep your fingers crossed, would you?

Cottolin warp for new weaving project
In between knitting sessions, I've wound a warp for a new weaving project. Similar to the last project, it will use a crackle weave threading and summer winter treadling. The warp is 22/2 cottolin instead of the 5/2 cotton I used last time. The loom lives upstairs in the guest bedroom (you can see the mossie net over the bed in the background). With the heat of summer past, I can weave upstairs during the day quite comfortably. Instead of being too hot, the room in winter is warm and cosy.

May you and yours find contentment nearby, too.

post by M in JaM
photos by JaM

Monday, 4 June 2012

Lunar eclipse as well as Venus transiting the Sun

Handknit sock
(hand-dyed yarn by NeedleFood, a New Zealand supplier
that closed after the Christ Church earthquakes)

Winter is here. The temperature fell below 10C (below 50F) this morning. We do like sitting in front of the fireplace on these clear, cold mornings. We've unpacked our handknitted socks and fingerless gloves. Grevilleas bloom outside the kitchen window and currawongs claim the nearby birdbath. The currawong tribe has brought young ones and several times a day the air is filled with their melodious songs as they forage in the area.
Grevillea superb
We are spending tomorrow with the twins and their mum. I have finished knitting one sample sock and shall try the sock on each of the two grandsons. Surely, it will fit one of them! Of course, that's just the beginning of this knitting project. I am also ready to wind a warp for my next weaving project.

Is it today's lunar eclipse or the transit of Venus across the Sun that has stimulated this wave of creativity?

Captain Cook sailed to Tahiti to record a transit of Venus across the Sun in 1769. The data collected helped navigators determine longitude more precisely. Cook sailed on and “discovered” Australia in 1770, on the same voyage. The British declaration of this new land as “terra nullius” - or land belonging to no one – continued to characterise Australian law with regards to land and title and was only overturned by the High Court of Australia twenty years ago (3 June 1992) in a case that made the name Mabo familiar to every Australian. Eddie Mabo, a Torres Strait Islander, campaigned for indigenous land rights and played a remarkable role in helping achieve that landmark Mabo decision twenty years ago.

So ends today's lesson....

Post by M in JaM
photos by JaM