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Name: knitabulous
Location: Mt Keira, New South Wales, Australia

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Knitting Alone
Knitspot Morning Glory Wrap Frost Flowers and Leaves Pomatomus Socks One Day
Sarcelle A different Phildar swing jacket - No 23A Donyale Socks

Better than watching the blocking dry

30 Nov 2007

The peacock has been pinned out to dry on my bed.

Today I'm doing a spring spruce and deep cleanup of my house. I am the opposite of a hoarder, I chuck chuck chuck. I have only lived in this house here three years and I could probably have already filled several skips with unwanted or wornout clothes, electrical goods, toys, kitchenware. If I haven't used it in six months it gets thrown away.

The only things I will keep forever are the good books. The throwaway books go to the annual lifeline book sale - but the books I love will stay forever. I have a problem with the volume of sci-fi books the husband has, but we are able to negotiate that position from time to time.

The clothes go to charity. The rest goes to the tip. The stuff that annoys me the most is the paper - so many bills, notes, cards, scraps of paper, kids artwork. Apart from a file for each child filled with important documents (including the odd memorabilia item - I'm not evil, just not a hoarder), I don't keep anything.

I am forever sending Alan to the tip, it's mans work in our house. Our local tip has a recycling centre at the entrance, we always stop there first and see if they want any of our junk. Sometimes (ok, almost always) we never have to take the car to the tip face.

I'm only halfway through, it feels so cleansing to rid yourself of rubbish.

So, while I do that I'll leave you to flick through the most gorgeous book I received from lovely Nikki for my birthday. It's Tricia Guild's pattern book - with an opulent flocked cover and the most incredible eye candy inside. I used to visit the Designer's Guild shop on the King's Road a lot when I lived in West London - those were the days - wandering up the road at leisure window shopping in Mac makeup and Karen Millen clothes, Office shoes and Designer's Guild bedlinen. Admiring the quirky shopfronts and stopping for a beer in the Man & The Moon pub before catching the bus back to the tube station. Back in the 80's when contract accountants earned a fortune and all income was disposable. I lived in a dive and was perennially drunk, but man did I have nice shoes!

This book makes me want to strip the windows, rip up the carpets and redecorate in a beserk riot of colour and texture. Quite a mental escape from the rainy day toil I'm actually involved in today.

Maybe I'll put the Christmas tree up later this afternoon instead.

Enjoy mes amis.

Savour the moment

29 Nov 2007

In my frenzy to finish the pretty as a peacock shawl I forgot to slow down and smell the flowers. There I was frantically knitting away, counting rows in advance, planning blocks of knitting time ('eight rows a night, four nights to go - if I get two rows ahead each night I can do it in three nights) , desperate to keep the deadline I imposed on myself in the next to last post here. It felt like I was back at university, cramming for exams. It didn't feel good.

On Sunday night my brain flipped a switch. 'Slow down' it said 'Enjoy the last ten rows'.

And so I did. And you know what? I didn't finish on Tuesday as planned. I finished on Wednesday instead. And it felt GOOD.

Here I am knitting the final stitch, savouring the moment.


When I picked it up on Tuesday night at home after knitting it at Tuesday night knitting club, guess what I found in the middle of the shawl? A broken knitpicks tip. Not happy Jan.
I switched to the nearest needle at hand, a knitpicks 3.5mm (slightly bigger). With only four or so rows to go I hoped it wouldn't be an obvious change.

And with the knitpicks options needle, I could take advantage of it's secret feature. The self-inserting lifeline system! I thread crochet cotton through the hole in the tip, and while I do the purl row the lifeline inserts itself.

(see the crochet cotton threaded through the knitpicks options needle?)

Good trick, huh?

"Why did you put a lifeline in the final purl row?" Why, thanks for asking.

I put my shawls on waste yarn if they have a crochet cast-off, that way there's no risk of losing stitches at the end of your shawl by slipping off the needle, and you don't have to flick them off a knitting needle when you pick them up with the crochet hook. It isn't any quicker, nor particularly more effective, but I just prefer it.

So now we block.

And, ironically, I have a night ALONE tonight (kids at sister's for a sleepover, Alan on a conference) - and I'm in that awful between projects stage where you don't know whether to pick up a UFO, or start something new. I always end up faffing around the house, flicking through IK's and vogues and books, trawling the net, surveying the stash and feeling like every second is a second of good knitting time wasted. Normal people would find this carry on basically insane and OCD kind of behaviour, but well, it's the nature of the beast I'm afraid.

I can hear something, can you hear it? It's a kind of soft melodic chanting, hauntingly elusive, coming from somewhere in my yarn wardrobe. I can just make out what she's singing - it's so captivating - why resist? - 'Ariann ...... Ariann.... Ariann....'

A lacey story

23 Nov 2007

In spite of the mantra that Lara intoned to me when I visited her house a few weeks ago for a delicious tea party (go the posh petit four!) 'don't fuck it up. don't fuck it up' I went right ahead and fucked it up.

Try as I might, I often find that to unravel five stitches or so down three or four rows of lace knitting in order to knit back up correctly can be problematic, particularly if there are yarnovers on either side. I can see that it has to do with the twist the yarnovers put in the strands, a yarnover twists two threads - if you're not super careful you end up with yarnovers with several twists all on one side. The knitting can be sort of technically correct but looks awful at one yarnover line. If I've lost you there don't worry, I haven't explained it very well.

Anyhow, I find it takes longer than it would just to rip the thing back the four rows and redo it.

And that's the situation I found myself in with the peacock on Wednesday. I jinxed myself by posting about how I was going to finish it and ended up stuffing it up instead. Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory once again.

Pictorially here's what I did.

Soaked it. (See knitpicks stainless steel is impervious to water. Good.)

Pinned it.

Identified the problem.

Realised that this problem was the least of the problems in the rows. Ripped back four rows, picked them up again and got back in the saddle.

Still on track to finish one day next week, but I won't be making any more rash predictions.

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21 Nov 2007

A few weeks ago we had a bit of a cold snap, which gave me the perfect opportunity to wear my favourite indigo blue velvet jacket, the beads my friend made me, and this ....

It feels exactly how I envisaged it to, could be a tad longer, but it's nice and wide and soft as chamois.

Hey guess what? I've nearly finished the fuschia peacock! Estimated time of arrival is around Tuesday next week.

40 is the new 30

18 Nov 2007

On the day of my party I was relaxing in the basin of the hair salon when I felt the fingers of the shampoo girl freeze. 'Adam', she says, 'come here, I want to talk to you'. Adam (the hairdresser) comes over to the basin. I sensed something was wrong - their voices were controlled, their conversation was about nothing - but it was clear by the amount of squirting noises I could hear from various bottles and the kind of frenzied activity that appeared to be going on around my head that I was the victim of a BLEACHED HAIR AT THE BASIN DISASTER.

Of course I didn't realise the enormity of the disaster until I got home - it's amazing how a salon blow dry and a bit of bluff can fool the customer.

And so it came to pass that I had to attend my own birthday party with the ugliest haircut and worst hair colour in recent memory. Luckily, as my hairdresser said to me 'don't worry, you are still a human being' - which kind of put it all into perspective.

So, with cocktail frock on, champagne in hand and a dodgy mane, I threw a little bash in the backyard.

Steve with the heiress and her husband.

I also must thank Donna for organising the most wonderful group of women to chip in and buy me the bestest of presents - a Jordana Paige Bella bag in white and a voucher from a lingerie shop (funny, I seemed to get a few of those - wonder why?).

I love the bag so much it's going to have it's own post. Thank you Donni, Jussi, Jae, Sharon, Rox and Donna - it's a great present. I love you guys.

Donni, Donna and me. Don't look at the hair!

Flat out like a lizard drinking

14 Nov 2007

That's me.

Flat out like a lizard drinking.

I turned 40 on Monday - a bit of an anticlimax but I'm having an Arabian Nights party on Saturday night, complete with marquee, lanterns, tribal council torches and lebanese food. I wish I had a belly dancer.

Anyway, knitting like mad on the peacock, coming along nicely. The knitalong's a nice slow burner, there has been a good response and some people are even knitting it!

Speaking of top birds, here's two new bloggers out there that I knit with in real life. Go and visit them and say g'day.

Charmaine - moved to the United Arab Emirates with her husband to build something earlier this year (I was paying attention Char, honestly) I think it is a factory of some sort. I think they're working as Engineers. We miss Charmaine at every second Tuesday. Check out her AMAZING orange Josephine top and other knitterly things HERE. Love the blog title Charmaine and come back soon.

The other one is Kate. The thing about Kate is that she is always wearing a hand-knitted item. And she's tiny. She can make a cardigan with 4 balls of yarn! Kate once made her husband knitted fruit for their anniversary. I imagine he was THRILLED. Check Kate out at 'needles to say' here.

And that is about all I've got today.

When you do what you love

7 Nov 2007

You love what you do.

I love knitting lace. When I knit lace, I kind of go into the 'zone' - I often say it knits itself - and to an extent that's true for me. I don't feel as though I'm making any effort at all when I knit it - the only tedious thing is that it takes so much time - but I absolutely love every stitch. Can't put it down in fact.

Compare this with what happens when I knit a sock. Useless at it. Hate it. Can't bring myself to finish one let alone two - the thought of doing ten 72 stitch rounds is too much for me to bear. I'm such a wannabe sock maker, I love having handknitted socks but I just do not enjoy making them.

When I knit a row of lace, particularly a long row, a 'voice' in my head repeats a sing-song like code to help me along and this, coupled with looking at the row below as I go, makes the repeats easy to remember and easy to duplicate. It's difficult to explain, and if I tried saying my little mantra out loud when I was knitting I'm sure it wouldn't make any sense at all. But still, it helps me ...

Do you have an inner knitting voice that sings to you when you knit?

Here's the progress of the peacock shawl on Sunday - just as I was about to enter the second chart.

Here it is today, ready for the fourth chart (not so pretty - but you can see it properly).

I don't have to work for the rest of the week so I'm hoping to get a lot done in the next few days. It's going to get very difficult to photograph from now on, so you might have to put up with just a bright pink blob.

My 2008 knitting resolution is to challenge myself and knit more socks and garments. And I will too, just after I finish the peacock and the frost flowers and leaves and the morning glory wrap and the hidcote garden and the sarcelle and the mediterranean lace.

Pretty as a Peacock Knitalong

4 Nov 2007


Some Knitting Required (Jae) has released her glory onto the world, in the form of the Pretty as A Peacock shawl.

It's hotter than sex on ravelry.

It's got the knitter's review a twitter.

Even Lime and Violet are talking about it.

You can get it locally from Donni (soon).

I've begun a second one in fuschia zephyr (I heard someone pronounce this colour fucksia once - now I say it every time), and after some discussion with the designer, I've started a knitalong for it. The aim is to provide help and support for the knitters of the PAAAP shawl - I'm remembering my tricks from the test-knit and writing them down as I go through the knit.

So if you're interested, head on over here or send me an email at knitabulousatgmaildotcom and I'll invite you.

And here's my progress just before you get to the first 'eye' of feathers.

A threw fer the carsh

On Friday I was wandering in Wollongong doing some errands (medicare claims - yay cash! - optus world - yay new mobile phone!) and I happened to wander through the Farmer's Market they have down the mall.

There's organic food, iridology, ethnic food stalls, lots of handmade clothing, goji juice, bees and honey - you know the type. Anyhow there's this woman selling handmade children's clothes. Some hand-crocheted kiddy cardigans caught my eye.

Woman : "twenty dollars for thewse dahhling wee kiddy cahdigahns"
Me: "Is that all? They're hand crocheted."
Her: "Yairse I knew. I design them and have them hand made in China. The yarn is all hand dyed"
Me: "I'm going to buy one because I feel sorry for the poor chinese woman who makes them"
Her: "but what you need to understand is, you knew, the exchange rate to China .." (trails off - because she has no idea what she's talking about)

Twenty bucks. Some lucky Chinese family is raking it in with the favourable exchange rate you know. As if.

Preaching to the converted

2 Nov 2007

There are 333 knitters in the Australian knitter's group on ravelry. Assuming most of them are in Australia, I'd say that is a fairly big group of knitters.

There are over 120 blogs in the ANZ blogring.

Some of the most beautiful and most respected craft blogs belong to Australians.

Apparently, knitting is undergoing a resurgence, allegedly it's popularity has been increasing steadily for the past five to ten years. (I have no idea where the data comes from for these claims, who really knows if it's true or not? All evidence appears to be anecdotal or based on the popularity of internet based knitting groups, which isn't evidence of a greater knitting population, merely of a greater online knitting population.) Do I sound like an accountant yet?

Knitting in public is certainly more popular. Knitting groups are certainly on the rise.

A google search of 'knitting blogs' gleans more than 1,720,000 results.

But what are all these knitters knitting with?

Without question, the most popular yarn at my local yarn store is panda magnum - the shitty acrylic. And most customers baulk at the price of that. It's rare for someone to come in and really appreciate the higher end yarns, and even rarer for them to appreciate these yarns AND buy some.

Why are so many Australian knitters happy to knit with stuff they got for 50c a ball in GO-LO or the Reject Shop?

The reason I ask this is because for a long long time I've been thinking about importing the gorgeous Louet Gems Merino wholesale, and setting up a small online retail operation. It's all in the twist - there is no local alternative as good - this yarn is as good as merino gets. Believe me, I've looked and looked. So has she - and she's practically got the earth's entire yarn database in her head. Go on, send her an email with a question - I bet she's got the answer. Make it a hard question.

It would be a cottage-business, not big volumes, and certainly not have an expectation to make a killing (oh perish the thought of a vulgar profit being enjoyed - that wouldn't do at all!). But, you know, there is a wide range of outcomes between being not viable and making a killing.

I'd like it to fall somewhere in between those two extremes. Otherwise it'll be a mighty expensive way of getting the yarn to make the interweave mirepoix bodice won't it?


1 Nov 2007

When I was at university I did a riveting subject on inventory management for manufacturing companies. In it I learned that there are two of the many methods of managing your inventory are the following:

LIFO - Last In First Out
FIFO - First in First Out

If you utilised the LIFO principal in a manufacturing environment and your stock didn't move very fast and/or was perishable, you'd end up with old stock that you couldn't use and you'd have to throw away.

That's why supermarkets use a FIFO methodology where they pull the old stock to the front and pack the new stock in the back on the shelves.

Very busy supermarkets don't have to worry about this too much because the whole shelf empties frequently, but in quieter shops or for items which don't move very fast you'd have to pull the old stuff forward or else it wouldn't get sold.

Anyhow, sometimes I think about my yarn stash (which isn't really that big) like that. I still have the first yarns I bought when I started knitting. I am more likely to use the yarn I most recently bought first than go back and get rid of the old stuff. So, I'd say I utilise the FIFO inventory system when managing my yarn stash. And that isn't good inventory management, because my yarn stash isn't a fast moving inventory.

This bothers me a lot.

I feel similarly about my WIP's. I am more likely to finish the most recently snoozed projects than the older ones. This too is bad inventory management.

And this bothers me a lot too.

Sometimes, when the guilt of being a bad inventory manager engulfs me, I feel quite overwhelmed and guilty.

And sometimes, this guilty feeling leads me to pull an item out of the closet - FIFO style (GOOD inventory management) and GET IT OFF MY CONSCIENCE!!!

Viola - the Debbie Bliss Pure Silk in Fuschia candle flame wrap a-la-knitabulous.
Five skeins. Nice and wide, blocking to follow.

(Notice the signature unwoven end.)

I feel better now. And you may now sit an exam in Management Accounting II at University if you like.

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