Friday, July 24, 2009


Well, as previously mentioned, last weekend was the Bendigo Sheep Show. Hurrah!

I got up ridiculously early on Saturday morning in order to make my train. Okay, perhaps 5:30am is not ridiculously early, but it was definitely earlier than I would have liked. Getting to the train station was a bit of debacle, because I got to the path I usually take, and subsequently found that there was no more path - only a construction site where the path had previously been. Whoops. There was a lot of blundering around in the dark and a little bit of fence hopping, but I got there eventually, and with my biscuits still intact, no less. That, my friends, is what we call hardcore!

Thankfully, once we (we being myself and Rowena, the day's partner in knitting crime) got on the train, everything ran smoothly. The trip up was uneventful - there was a lot of fog, so the view from the train was pretty uninteresting, although I did see kangaroos at one stage (which might have been interesting if I hadn't grown up in this country and spent enough time outside the city that a kangaroo has long since ceased being novel, but I'll stop being snarky now, shall I?). Knitting was done, and biscuits were ingested!

The actual show was good fun. There was lots to see and touch, and lots of shiny nice yarny things to buy. We got to see a lot of Ravelry people, which was awesome, if a little surreal at times (it's a little unnerving when a random stranger identifies the pattern you used to make your cardigan when there is a grand total of three square inches of said cardigan peeking out from under your coat). I, for what it's worth, got to see a couple of completed Sylvi coats!

Now, for your viewing pleasure, and proof that it all happened, here is me being an idiot with a cardboard alpaca cutout. Because, let's face it, I am an idiot some of the time.

And look! It hardly rained at all!

Anyway, an awesome time was had. I got to play with sheep and alpaca, find out more about natural dyeing (which ties in nicely with a lot of my recent and upcoming experiments), chat with a bunch of lovely people about handspinning and dyeing, and lots of other stuff. Oh, and we also watched the wool fashion parade, which was very amusing, though more for the pained expressions on the male models' faces than anything else (roped in, anyone?).

And then we got on the bus and made our way back to the station. Good day was had!
Look - bus cam! Two degenerate fibre fixated young ladies, full of biscuits, and quite thoroughly worn out!

And of course, I bought stuff. Because it was shiny and nice and that's one of the reasons that you go! I acquired both roving and yarn, which has come back to bite me because my spindle has magically disappeared, and I Can't Find It Anywhere. Seriously, I have spent hours looking for it. Meh. I'm sure it will appear the very moment I purchase a new one. At any rate, here is the haul from the show, frustrated, spindle-lacking fibre and all the rest:

On the left, there's some beautiful spinnables from Stranded in Oz and Ms Gusset (yay Kylie!). I also got bitten by the hand-dyed yarn bug again (sigh, I can't resist it, even though I never know quite what to do with it either), as you can see in the centre - some merino 2ply, also from Stranded in Oz. The purple and brown skeins on the top right are a wool/alpaca blend from one of the stallholders whose name I didn't catch. It's lovely yarn, and looks much nicer in the sun when the subtleties in the colour really come out. And the tiny wee packet on the end (which refused to photograph) is 10g of dyed silk from the Handweavers & Spinners Guild (for me to get my filthy mitts on once I find that bloody spindle...). Definitely enough to keep me busy for a while!

I've been up other things on the crafty front since I got back, but this is such a long post already that I think it might have to wait for another time. Or not at all perhaps - there is another dyeing experiment in the works and I am unsure about how well it will turn out, so if you don't hear about it again, it means that the exercise was a dismal failure and I am trying to block it from my mind! And on that glorious note, I'm off to go for my run.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Busy, busy, busy...

Well, things have been weird around here - a strange blend of busy, yet not busy. More specifically, there has been lots of me making valiant attempts to be constructive, but getting thwarted at every turn. Curse you, foolish reality! Why won't you work the way I want you to?

Anyway, one thing that I have found time to do in between running-around-like-a-crazy-person-to-no-avail is work on my Sylvi. I will make this coat if it kills me. Which it probably will, for the record, provided it is indeed possible to die of convoluted chart poisoning. Anyway, I realised that it was about time to get my arse into gear if I actually wanted to have a chance to wear it this year. I know that it's only mid July, which gives me a good month and a half of winter left, but it takes time to knit a full length coat, you know? And the fickle Melbourne weather does love to thwart me... So I started last weekend and went about it rather vigourously all week. As a result, I am now in possession of two sleeves, and the start of the back:

Doesn't look like much now, but hopefully it will be cool. Or rather, the pattern is definitely rather awesome - I just need to deploy higher/equal levels of awesomeness in order to live up to it. Hopefully this shall occur!

And this is all that has really taken place on the knitting front. There has also been a lot of reading, and a lot of baking - more birthdays and other cake-requiring-occasions than I've been able to shake the proverbial stick at. There was also lemon meringue pie, because I was having a sorry-for-myself day. And whenever I'm down and really don't know what to do with myself, I make lemon meringue pie. You can generally tell how good a year has been by the number of pies I make. For the record, it's now mid July and I've only clocked in at two - this is good!

Mmmm... medicinal pie. I cheated and used a bought base, which is normally the very antithesis of how I go about these things, but on Monday I needed to busy myself with therapy pie more than I needed to buggerise around making pastry. So there. Surely my otherwise exemplary levels of baked-goods production compensate for this little hiccup, yes?

And these little blighters are biscuits for Bendigo (oooh, what delightful aliteration!). Tomorrow, complete with Ravelry buddy and train munchies, I am heading off to the Bendigo Sheep Show like the fibre nerd that I am. It sounds like it's going to be far, far too much fun. I am embarrassingly excited... Full report and hopefully some photos next time.

(disclaimer: photos may or may not contain graphic footage of my biscuit riddled corpse, depending on how hungry I get on the train on the way up there...)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Natural dyeing, and more restlessness

Okay, so as previously mentioned, I did some dyeing with eucalyptus. I rashly promised to document the exercise, so here we go.

I'd read a little bit in books and on Ravelry about the uses of eucalyptus, and had been itching to get into some more dyeing, as previous experiments had been good fun. Also, I just generally wanted to try a few new things while I had the time, so I figured I'd take a bash at it.

I used dried leaves, for the very scientific reason of: that was what I could acquire. Then I simmered the leaves for a while (and for the record, they made my kitchen smell delightfully of rainy forest), then removed them, cooled the mixture slightly, and then added the yarn - probably "cooked" it for about 40 minutes all up:

I also did some dyeing with turmeric while I was at it, and man is that stuff vivid! I've heard that the light-fastness is not great, and I had to rinse it for ages before it stopped bleeding, but at the moment the colour is still very intense. The eucalyptus is much paler than I expected (I'd seen some people get some very vibrant colours), but the result was still very intriguing - a pale grey-brown with faint purplish streaks in parts (which of course fail to show up in the photo).

Not bad for a first attempt, all in all - especially considering I didn't bother checking the exact variety of tree involved. I'm thinking I'm going to use the yarn to make some lavender bags or something, as neither are really my colour. Still, it was definitely a fun experiment, and I definitely plan to play more with natural dyes in future.

In knitting news, I started yet another project. Bad Anna. I'm very good at starting and not finishing at the moment, but such is the ebb and flow of creativity I suppose. At any rate, my younger brother is heading off to Canada on exchange come August, and he's going to freeze his arse off if I don't furnish him with an appropriate level of woollens. So, a scarf:

Admittedly, it's not a very interesting scarf, but my priorities with this one are to make something that he'll actually wear, rather than something with gorgeous yarn or an elaborate stitch pattern. Last thing I checked, twenty-one year old guys weren't renowned for their love of lacework. So yes, at the moment there is a lot of scarf. Perhaps given time and enough cups of tea, I might actually get around to finishing one of the other projects I've been putting off. Perhaps.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

That familiar odd freedom

Well, as previously mentioned (to a tedious extent really), I have now finished exams for the semester, leaving much of my free time blissfully unencumbered by the demands of the law degree (needy little bastard that it is). So it really does make perfect sense that I'm now suffering from the same problem that always afflicts me when I make my biannual descent into the void between semesters. It's not boredom. One thing that I've always liked about myself is that I do not get bored, or at least not when I'm left to my own devices. I don't understand how anyone can ever be bored - there is a lot of stuff out there to do! Not boredom, no, but rather a kind of restlessness. There is so much I want to do that I subsequently find myself unable to focus on anything for long.

As usual, I've attempted to remedy this with endless 'to-do' lists (oh, how I love writing those things). But still, despite having more knitting time now, I have actually done very little by way of knitting. I got some work done on my pullover at pub night on Monday (beer and knitting actually mix rather nicely when it's just round after round of stocking stitch and nothing I actually have to devote conscious thought to), but other than that, it's been a whole lot of bugger all really.

I haven't been idle. I've been tending to my poor languishing social life. I made truly delicious lemon and almond cake. I tried my hand at natural dyeing with some eucalyptus and turmeric (pictures to follow). I made valiant, moderately successful attempts to get back into some of my current writing projects. But not much, yet, by way of knitting. With one exception:

I made this hat for the Bendigo Woollen Mills Ravelry Group 100g swap - it's the Sunflower Tam from Norah Gaughan's Knitting Nature (one of my favourites), made from Rustic 12ply in the "Green Tweed" colourway. I'd be wanting to make this pattern for ages, because it's pretty cute and construction is ingenious, but I can't really pull off tams or berets. But thankfully my recipient could, so away we went. Hope she liked it! This one was really fun to knit, and I may have to make another one, said inability to wear it be damned!

And this was what I received for the swap:

Look it! Look it! Tasty fudge, tasty soap, cute notebook and some awesome knitted stuff! All the way from Tassie (okay, it's not actually that far, but that's not the point). I'm totally spoiled rotten. The knits are from the Cairn pattern by Ysolda Teague, made from Bendigo Woollen Mills (of course) Luxury 8ply. I like them very, very much, and they fit perfectly. Here is proof (not to mention Anna doing that weird invisible-beard stroking thing that she always does when she's trying to model gloves)!

Other than this swap though, not much has been going on on the knitting front. Oh, except for me pretending that I'm famous on Ravelry, through the lovely article that the lovely Rebecca wrote, detailing our evil plot to take Tasmania by storm come August. We are concocting wicked plans, yes we are!

And that's all I've got! More posts soon, I swear. If you're lucky, I'll tell the tale of my eucalyptus dyeing exploits...