2015-05-01: Helloooooo, Internet

Here is me, rebooting my blog after a long absence for about the umpty-billionth time.

Getting my knitting mojo back!

Well, let's see what's been happening here.

  • January 2013 I found out I was pregnant with twins.
  • They arrived almost 2 months early in July 2013 so I completely missed out on my planned pre-baby maternity leave.
  • They spent just over a month in the NICU/Special Care nursery in the hospital while I recovered from a C-Section and walked to the hospital 1-2 times daily to visit them.
  • Then Year One with Twins happened, which is mostly a massive, traumatised, sleep-deprived memory hole.
  • Meanwhile, our house was being renovated so we could actually have things like a modern kitchen and more than one bedroom for 4 people.
  • So we moved 3 times in one year to 2 temporary homes while our house was a total construction zone.
  • Meanwhile meanwhile, I was also made redundant from my job and then started a new job last August.
  • Oh, and Adam was also made redundant and started a new job.

So I've been a tad preoccupied, we could say.

Fortunately, there is day care. My 18-month-old twins go to day care for three days a week, now, and I have Fridays "off." No work. No parenting (from 8:30 to 5:30 anyway). Just solo time.

Since my solo Fridays have started, though, I have spent a lot of them just getting really urgent essential grown-up stuff done, like packing up our house and moving, or unpacking, or doing massive amounts of cleaning and cooking food for the week. So I haven't really had much "me" time during these Fridays off.

Today, however, I decided I have been doing enough of a hard slog. I turned up the street, strolled to The Granny Square and purchased Louisa Harding's The Magical World According to Miss Millie. They start with sizes for age three, and my twins don't turn 2 until July, but I figure that I can either try scaling some of them down, or I might not finish anything from the book for a whole year anyway. But it was a bit of retail therapy. For just me.

Gauge swatch with beautiful hand dyed gradient yarn.

And, there has been a little bit of crafting along the way. Not lots. But, look: here's a gauge swatch. Today, I'm actually going to wash it and let it dry & hopefully get my gauge for a new project.

Aviatrix hat, work in progress.

There's Aviatrix, which should actually fit small heads now, but I want to finish it with some type of cute little buckle. Buckle has yet to be found.

One Year Old

I fashioned this little waistcoat for my little man to wear to his first birthday party. I was pretty pleased with that one, I based the stitch pattern on a traditional fisherman's sweater stitch.

And following on my ancient previous post, I did actually manage to make 2 Cubbas eventually, and they were only a tiny bit too small when tried on and worn ONCE for the commemorative photo. Fortunately, the original one got a bit more wear.

Cubba Baby Hat

There may have been 1 or 2 other things along the way. But I now feel like things are finally settling down enough that I can even begin to contemplate some time for myself, some knitting, some making, some Zen.

2013-06-01: A Cubba for a Bubba

First attempt at parental crafting.

So big life changes have come about this year, and I haven't been spending as much time on crafts as I'd have liked. But unlike previous times where I've just been busy with work or ordinary responsibilities, this time I have both an exciting and excellent excuse.

Baby Hat #1

Have a look at my latest project, yep, it's a baby hat (Cubba, by Woolly Wormhead). But the giant round thing it's sitting on is another project: my enormous abdomen, currently occupied by two new inhabitants. If all goes to plan, sometime around the end of August to the middle of September, two new future geeky crafty little people will have been introduced into the world.

It seems to be that time of life for most of my friends, too. In early April, one of my oldest friends had a daughter, so I made her a little care package.

Baby Care Package

The blanky is based loosely on this tutorial posted on the Purl Bee and has to be one of the easiest things I've ever made, despite the sewing. Given another friend just delivered her daughter last weekend and I know a few other people besides myself expecting new babies, I can see myself making more. Instead of merino, I used EcoOrganic cotton from Ecoyarns. The Cubba hat is also in the same yarn, and I've been enjoying the soft squishyness of it.

One other project I hope to post about soon over on the house blog is about the exciting next phase of our house renovation! Now that we are expecting 2 new family members all of a sudden, we are going to need way more room in our tiny Newtown semi, so we are working hard to plan out all the remaining changes to the house that we've been wanting to do since we bought it. But since we need some significant structural changes, we're now waiting on approval of our development application by the council. Fingers crossed it all goes smoothly (and quickly).

In the meantime, I have more knitting to do.

2013-01-08: A Taste of Weaving

Trying out yet another new craft.

Lawland lassie, wilt thou go
Whar the hills are clad wi' snow;
Whar, beneath the icy steep,
The hardy shepherd tends his sheep?
Ill nor wae shall thee betide.
When rowed within my Highland plaid.

- Robert Tannahill, aka "The Weaver Poet"
Hand woven scarf - start

So it's not exactly plaid or tartan that I've woven, but it is a simple twill check pattern which is similar to how one would produce plaid. The thing that I'm referring to is my first handwoven garment, a wool scarf.

In January of 2012 I took a class through the Hand Weavers and Spinners Guild of NSW's summer school program called "A Taste of Weaving for Beginners." I spent five days learning how to weave with a four shaft table loom.

When I was very young, I remember my mom had a loom, even when we lived on a sailboat. It was a small one that folded away and I don't recall much else about it other than watching with fascination as she made a belt for me and begging to learn how.

As an adult, I can kind of understand why she never showed me, I think a 5 or 6 year old is going to struggle a fair bit with a loom, but I remember asking, and asking, and probably driving my mother insane. So finally being able to make my own fabric with a loom was pretty exciting.

Hand woven scarf - finished

I didn't make much time for weaving in 2012, so the scarf lay largely dormant until I finally managed to get myself in gear and finish it off over the Christmas/New Year break. It's not perfect, but I am pretty happy with how it turned out! And it's long! It took me a year to complete, but the actual time I spent working on it was less than if I had knitted a scarf that was half the length.

Alas, I was only renting the loom (my packed to the rafters tiny house does not yet have an appropriate space for my very own loom), hence my hurry to wrap up the project and stop costing myself $20 a month. However, tomorrow I will finally dip my toes into card/tablet weaving which will not require a loom and looks to be potentially as gratifying. And when my house is finally fixed up & there is extra room, I think I'll blow a ton of money on one of these, oooooh…

2012-08-18: And Now For Something Slightly Different

Complimentary handcrafts

So June marked 6 years with my current employer and they wanted to mark the milestone by giving me something significant & special. I was given a budget which I applied toward the Woodwork for Beginners course through Sydney Community College.

I spent four Saturdays from 9 am to 1:30 pm learning to cut shapes with a coping saw and chisel out lap joints, enjoying every second of it.

Our first project was to build a simple bird feeder with pine. The techniques we practiced were:

Bird Feeder
  • Cutting a circle out of the centre of a board with a coping saw
  • Creating a mitred joint
  • Creating a biscuit joint
  • Counter-sinking screws
  • Finishing with putty, sanding, and oiling

I still need to give it another coat of oil before I hang it up out in the back yard and put some seed in the bowl to see if I can attract some birds in the neighbourhood.

Project number two was a small box made with Tasmanian Oak. Everyone got their choice of style for the box, I decided to make this one with a little handle & lift-off lid. We practiced:

Handmade box
  • Cutting the sides of the box to the correct measurements
  • Creating a lap joint
  • Finishing with putty & sanding

The box needs another round of sanding and then to be oiled or varnished (I'll probably just oil it.

I had lots of fun & gained some new skills and a lot more confidence about working with wood. I hope to do more in the future!

Our instructor Phil was really friendly and helpful. After the last class I showed him my turkish spindle & he gave me some pointers for trying to make my own. Another project idea is to make a little card weaving loom. I can't wait!

2012-07-22: Tour de Fleece

Racing along with my spinning. Sort of. Relativistically.

Yay, me. I participated in the Tour de Fleece for the very first time, and I achieved my goals. Now I'm tired, so I'm going to be lazy and just paste in my TDF updates from Ravelry so you too can experience the blow-by-blow spinning action.

I may regret this, but I'm joining in. I have too much stash & haven't been spinning much lately. Here goes nothing.

My overall goal for Tour de Fleece:

I have lots of stuff sitting around my house needing to be spun. For my main project, I plan on spinning up a Blue Moon Fiber Arts Sheep 2 Shoe sock kit. My only goal is to just spin every day, but if I manage to complete my sock yarn, then my secondary goal is to spin up anything else in my stash.

I will measure my progress by a) time spent and b) weight of fibre spun.

My Tour de Fleece Goal/Progress

Sat 30 June Prologue

OK, nearly there with fibre prep. I have separated out the main colours in the roving & blended in my drum carder to get more even colour effects. I'm 90% done with that & need to finish a little of the lime green. I then need to figure out what order/combinations I'm going to spin in & divide everything up for 2 sets of 3 ply yarns, one for each sock. There will be scales, head scratching, and calculators... Oh yeah, and I need to weigh my empty bobbins so I know how much I've spun each day!

Tour de Fleece 2012 - Fibre

Sun 1 July Plain

Due to a series of boring and tedious circumstances, I got almost completely diddly squat done. Little drop spindle project with silk & cashmere to the rescue!

Time spent on spinning: 10 min right before bedtime

Weight of fibre: < 1 g

Not quite a fail but pretty close!

Mon 2 July Plain

I knew today was going to be tricky due to the fact that it's my weekly games night & we host 6 friends for snacks & games. I managed to sneak in a tiny bit of spinning on the train home.

Time spent spinning: 5 stolen minutes on the platform at Central Station

Weight of fibre: < 1 g

Tuesday night - no excuses! I will get some sampling done for my sock yarn.

Tues 3 July Med mountains

OK, tonight finally got into gear & set aside 9 grams of the green colour (since that's what I have the most of) to spin a small sample length of yarn so I can keep everything consistent as I go along. I took it pretty slow because a) I am trying to be careful and consistent, and b) I'm spinning really finely to make a 3 ply sock yarn.

Time spent spinning: 32 min

Weight of fibre: 3g

Tour de Fleece - Sampling

Wed 4 July Plain

Ply #2 of sample yarn done.

Time spent spinning: round about a half an hour again, I didn't keep track because I paused in the middle so we could read excitedly about the Higgs Boson.

Weight of fibre: 3g

Thurs 5 July Plain

Guh. Miserable weather killed my willpower and I had to fall back on the drop spindle so I could huddle under a blanket on the couch. I didn't dare poke my toes out to treadle.

Time spent spinning: 45 min on drop spindle

Weight of fibre: ~ 1g

Fri 6 July Plain

Got a flat tire, aka winter did me in & I spent the whole evening snuggled under the doona on the sofa watching TV. Couldn't even spindle.

Time: 0

Weight: 0

Perhaps I will try & make up the difference on a rest day.

Sat 7 July Med mountains

Ply #3 of 3 finished! But before I can actually ply them together I need to finish winding off leftovers from last spinning projects, so that will be Sunday's goal.

Time: ~30 min

Weight: 3g

Sun 8 July Med mountains

Sample yarn finished. It was a little fiddly at first remembering how to do a 3-ply yarn, but over all I'm pretty happy with the result.

Time: ~20 min

Weight: 9g plied

Tour de Fleece - Sampling

Mon 9 July Individual time-trial

Games night with friends over, so I just went back to drop spindling. Even did a little during the game!

Time: ~30 min

Weight: no idea, forgot to check. Oops! Probably around 1 g at the most.

Tues 10 July Rest

Made up for my "flat tire" on Friday. I feel like I'm really in the swing of it now!

Today I started on my "real" yarn; I am going to do a 3 ply of the green & gold colours first, so a fair chunk of my time tonight was spent on:

  • Winding off my sample yarn
  • Dividing up colours & weighing things
  • Then trying to spin whilst watching Hugo (it's set in France, close enough to the Tour de France?)

Time spent: ~1 hour

Weight: ~7g

Wed 11 July High Mountains

More green & gold on the Mach III.

Time spent: ~ 1 hour

Weight: ~7g

Thurs 12 July High Mountains

A bit of drop spindly plying.

Time spent: ~20 min

Weight: ~2g plied

Fri 13 July Med mountains

Had to work late, yuck :-p

Did a bit more drop spindle plying.

Time spent: 30 min

Weight: ~2g

Sat 14 July Plain

Open Day was fun, but I chickened out on joining the last spinning race. Why? I don't know. The tribulations of being an introvert. Then it was on the train to go up to a friend's place, so I had a lot of time out & about & not at the wheel. Instead I finished plying what was on my drop spindle.

Time spent spinning: Not really sure, at least 20 min or so here & there on the train


All up I have a new little skein of silk & cashmere weighing around 6g, it's slightly over plied but very pretty.

Tour de Fleece 2012 - Spindle spun yarn

Sun 15 July High Mountains

A bunch more on my first green/gold bobbin.

Time spent: ~1hr


Mon 16 July Plain

Games night moved to Tuesday this week. Finished first green & gold bobbin, prep done for bobbin 2 of 6.

Time spent: 45 min

Weight: 4g

Tour de Fleece 2012

Tues 17 July Rest

I had forgotten this was a rest day. I ended up without any time to spin & the next day realised with a start of guilt — until I checked the calendar & realised I was off the hook!

Wed 18 July High Mountains

Started bobbin #2 of green/gold singles.

Time spent: 40 min

Weight: 3g

Thurs 19 July High Mountains

I was really going gangbusters on Thursday.

Time spent: ~1 hour

Weight: 7g

Fri 20 July Plain

I can't believe I've nearly made it! Closing in on finishing green/gold bobbin #2 of 6.

Time spent: ~1 hour

Weight: 7g

Sat 21 July Individual time-trial

My first woodworking class from 9:00 AM to 1:30 PM. Walked from home to Leichhardt, 6 km round trip! Phew! To rest up I only did enough to finish bobbin #2.

Time spent: ~20 min

Weight: 4g

Sun 22 July Finish

Basking! Glory! I am so pleased that I stuck with it and that I have an in-progress spinning project. I will try and use this excitement and momentum to finish the whole thing.

Also, thanks to everyone on the team for providing inspiration, kind comments, and amusement along the way. Well done all of you!