Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Bah Humbug

Originally uploaded by wearespiraling
Yesterday, my boss cancelled Christmas.

Ok, maybe that's being a little melodramatic, but he did come in four hours before we were to break up for the year and give us another week of work.

Myself, I'm not too concerned, I was realistically going to have to work 2 or 3 days a week over the break anyway, plus I'm having a month off in September to travel the world buying yarn and fabric, so I can't really complain about the additional income.

The Boss did the manly thing and dumped the work on us before making the announcement that he had called our payroll company to authorise our Christmas bonuses.

My instinct is to dump the bonus into my ING account, because we have goals and because this will tip me into another imaginary savings bracket that I didn't expect to reach before the end of the year, but Pants thinks I should buy myself something nice.

I'm super, super into finance, but my real interest lies in small business and personal finances. I'm in love with compound interest and automated savings and other financial fun, but I just don't know in this instance.

I don't have any formal debt, I owe less than the bonus amount on my credit card and it's all current, I'm not paying any interest. I pay off my cc in full every month and this month won't be any exception, so I guess my options are to spend or save.

I could also put this into a separate account where I've been saving for my trip next year.

Hmmm... this is the accountability blog, so I'll give it some thought for a few days and report back.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Soaps in Socks

I love these little soaps, they're made of a 100% wool single that is really drifty and felts really nicely. I used Sean Sheep Armytage for these, but it's very much like Brown Sheep Lambs's Pride Worsted in feeling (not in content, though).

I cranked these out on my little vintage toy knitting machine. Pants say that it's vintage because it's more than 30 years old, it's been banging around for ages, it's lost the tensioner and I'm not sure where the book is (hence, not knowing exactly how old it is).

Anyway, a few years ago, I moved and couldn't find the book and it was IMPOSSIBLE to find directions online, so hopefully this will help anyone googling vintage toy circular knitting machine instructions.

So, what follows is my pattern for soaps in socks. I sell these, so please only use this pattern and tutorial for personal use, charity crafting and gifts. It is not for commercial use.

This is my machine, which I believe is from the early 70s (I need to find that book!). To start a tube, all you do is thread a few inches of yarn through the centre of the machine, then, starting with the coloured needle (which is really kind of a hook, but they're called needles) wrap the yarn under the first needle and behind the second, continuing until you're back before the coloured needle.

It's really important that you do this first step loosely, because otherwise, the machine will get stuck and make a terrible grinding noise.

Now, with the yarn threaded under the hook of each needle, crank 20 rounds of the machine. The handle turns more than once for each revolution of the barrel, so count the number of times the coloured needle passes.

Once you have gone around 20 times, stop and cut the yarn tail to about six inches (more or less, depending on your preference and your adeptness with a darning needle).

Thread your darning needle with the yarn tail and use it to catch each loop as it comes off each needle, as you crank slowly around. Once they are all on the darning needle, slip them onto the yarn tail and tighten the loop as far as you can, then secure it. Because these are being felted and will lose some of the stitch definition, I thread the yarn through the knitting and tie a knot, weave the end for an inch or so and then clip.

Place your soap into the soap sock and tighten the beginning tail of the yarn to snug, and secure as for the other end. Lovely Zephyrama suggested that you crochet the yarn end into a chain to make a handle. Nice!

Your soap is now ready to use. Because you've used a feltable wool, the sock will tighten with use and create a nice, scrubby surface.


It should possibly be noted that there are modern toy knitting machines on the market, I believe there is a Barbie branded one. I haven't used one of these, but my research has indicated that they're pretty crap, the tension is impossible and they break after a few revolutions. I guess they don't make them like they used to.

If you ever see one of these old machines around, pick it up, there are some fun things to be made, from toys to knit suffolk puffs (yoyos) and scarves. I'll try to find the book and scan some photos of the tremendously retro suggestions.

I should probably add, if you don't have a machine, or couldn't be bothered making your own, I'm selling these in various colours for $5 US plus postage ($7AU, inc postage within Aus).

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Originally uploaded by wearespiraling
I was breathalised last night.

I'm never pulled over, although I've always wanted to be, because girls on Vespas don't cause much suspicion.

Hairy men in Land Rovers, which is to say, blokes in work trucks, are very frequently targetted and I was riding behind my hairy man in his Land Rover and was pulled in after him.

Long story short, I was too excited about being breathalised and was taken for a drug test, Pants thought I had been waved through and was on my way to his parents house without him and when he got there and I was missing, paniced and went looking for me.

In the meantime, I arrived at his parents slightly concerned that his car wasn't out the front.

The good news is, we found each other in the end and I had no drugs and only a teeny bit of alcohol in my system.

Cops are tops.

Friday, December 14, 2007

popcorn washer pattern

popcorn washer
Originally uploaded by wearespiraling
This is the easiest thing ever to make, and I think it's really effective.

Yarn: Sullivans Cotone or another sport weight cotton or cotton blend, less than 50g.

Needles: 2.5mm

Method: CO 44

Row 1: (WS) *K1, P1, repeat from *
Row 2: *P1, K1, repeat from *
Row 3: repeat row 1
Row 4: repeat row 2

Row 5: K1, P1, K1, P1 *(K1, P1, K1)in next st, P3tog, repeat from* to last 4 st, K1, P1, K1, P1
Row 6: P1, K1, P1, K1, Purl to last 4 st, P1, K1, P1, K1
Row 7: K1, P1, K1, P1, *P3tog, (K1, P1, K1) in next st, repeat from * to last 4 st, K1, P1, K1, P1
Row 8: P1, K1, P1, K1, Purl to last 4 st, P1, K1, P1, K1

Repeat Rows 5 - 8 until piece is almost square, then repeat Rows 1-4.

bind off, enjoy.

There's a great video of popcorn stitch here.

This one is for my grandmother for christmas.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Originally uploaded by wearespiraling
Did I tell you I started Thermal?

I'm using a 3-ply I hand-dyed in two shades and a few different values of hot pink.

This is my land rover project that I work on between my Christmas knits (which are sort of coming along nicely), so I expect that this project will be finished around Christmas of 2009.

Oh, well, I'm enjoying it, anyway.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


Originally uploaded by wearespiraling
Things have been busy, hectic even, here at Chez Spiral.

I took a promotion earlier in the year and while I love my job and I know I'm working towards a goal and that it really makes me happy and fulfilled, I'm also working around 50 hours a week.

I love my job, I have a lot of responsibility but also a lot of freedom and I can work from home up to four days a week, it's just that I'm feeling the lack of time to work on my own business.

It's really hard to balance the knowledge that we're saving and every extra hour of work gets us closer to where we want to be and the knowledge that I'm letting opportunities to expand our own little crafty empire slip.

We haven't done a market in months, our website is still an dream and we've not dyed anything for sale in weeks, all of which is concerning.

We have always planned that I would stay in my current company for another four years and that Pants would be the one to pick up the extra hours in Spiraling, but his situation isn't too far off mine. Lots of hours, more work than he can handle and a fair amount of guilt for not taking any oportunity we receive.

So on Monday, I took the day off and just pottered around. I got cranking (quite literally) on my Christmas knitting and filled some orders.

Now I'm just trying to figure out how to achieve that balance.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Christmas: 9, Spiraing: 3

Hatie for netty
Originally uploaded by wearespiraling
Another Chiristmas knit completed, a super easy, finished in an evening spiraling hat for a friend in Canada who will be in Whistler over Christmas.

This is the friend who introduced Pants and I (after knowing us individually for 10 or more years, but still...) and we love her to bits.

I've been seeing heaps of similar hats on ravelry with killer embellishments, so I might add something to this one.

Pattern: made up, see this post

Yarn: Lamb's Pride Bulky in RPM Pink

Needles: 10mm DPNs

Made for: Netty!

Ravelry Details

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


I recently discovered Biome, the website of a fantastic eco friendly store in Brisbane, and managed to drop quite a bit of money there today.

I bought a bunch of these ceramic decorations, made by a Brisbane designer, Kylie Johnson of Paper Boat Press.

I bought these gorgeous stars for our mothers, which I think will look fantastic on their gifts:

I bought this Peace on Earth bird (dove?) to tie onto my best friend's present:

And a few of the spotty stars for myself:

While I was there, and to take advantage of their free shipping, I also bought my dad some eco friendly golf tees, derived from biodegradable corn-based polymers, some beautiful looking soaps to give with the knit washers I'm planning on making as spare gifts and some baby things for the nephling.

I'm also planning on buying eco friendly hampers from there as corporate gifts from my day job this year, they have some fantastic options that I'm sure anyone would love to receive. I know I'd be stoked with any one of them, but especially this one.

All photos taken from and property of the Biome website.

Monday, November 26, 2007

think pink

think pink
Originally uploaded by wearespiraling
I managed to do a little spinning last week, after my card-a-palooza.

This one is hand dyed merino, spun on the Roberta and navajo plied.

It's for my partner in the Think Pink swap (ravelry link), and will be sent along with some hand dyed Spiraling Sock, a strawberry freddo, strawberry timtams and whatever else pink I can find.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Christmas: 10, Spiraling: 2

Originally uploaded by wearespiraling
The Christmas knitting is coming along, with the addition of this little dino (Chloesaurus) for my baby cousin, who happens to be a bit of a dinosaur nut.

Super easy, like all Greenhowe patterns, I made this while watching 3rd Rock from the Sun DVDs. Man, I love that show. Top 10.

I really suck at embroidering faces, so I'm calling this my version of a Steiner toy. Stuffed with wool roving.

Pattern: Little Men and Monsters, from Jean Greenhowe's Toy Collection

Yarn: Villawool Speediknit

Needles: 3.25mm

Made For: Chloe

Ravelry Link

Friday, November 23, 2007

Card-a-palooza 07

Pants and I have some fairly inflexible financial goals at the moment, which have resulted in our jumping at any overtime or extra work we can get.

A consequence of this is that I've been travelling quite a bit and working most weekends and that Pants has also been doing the occasional weekend and a couple week nights a week.

He worked one evening earlier this week, which I designated CARD-A-PALOOOOOZAAAA!!!!, wherein I take a giant basket of fibre, generally consisting of bits I couldn't fit on a bobbin, dye trials, bits I use to exhaust dye pots, samples of fibres and generally anything interesting I find in my studio.

Then, I throw handfuls into my drum carder, roughly card them and see what happens.

I made 19 batts in this bunch, 3 for me, 15 for the store and 1 for my new friend Miss Vicki.

They're so much fun to spin, because you never know how it's going to turn out. No two are the same, but each of the 15 for sale all have at least 10 fibres in common, so they would make a giant, coheisive yarn, if all spun together. This lot all have silk, mohair, merino, angelina, corriedale and a bunch of other things.

I really love making these, it's always a surprise to see how they will come out and I'm really happy with this batch.

Now, to find enough time to list them on etsy and eBay.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Spiraling Hat

spiraling hat
Originally uploaded by wearespiraling
This pattern is an old favourite of mine and this hat is the only one I've kept. These make really great, easy to knit gifts. Seriously, they only take an hour or so to make, no seaming, fantastic.

It's such a basic, easy thing to make. Doubled lamb's pride bulky, knit in the round on 10mm dpns (made by Pants out of dowel), an inch and a half of 2x2 ribbing, two and a half inches of kniting, then even decreases to a point.

Too easy.

Pattern: made up, as above

Yarn: Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky in Lipstick Red (LOVE this yarn, adore this colour)

Needles: 10mm dpns

Made For: ME!!

Ravelry Details

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Jelly Baby for Mirabel

jelly baby
Originally uploaded by wearespiraling
This is my fourth softie for Mirabel, I'm express posting the lot to Mikes today.

I had grand plans of buying some real jelly babies for a photo shoot, so you could see how little this is, but when I got to the store, I remembered that I hate jelly babies and bought boost bars (I like to take them when I fly anywhere, I think it's a Danish thing [also, I pretty much blame everything unexplainable on my heritage]).

When I got home, I felt a bit silly about the boost bars and had to use them in the photo anyway.

I've been stuffing my softies with wool roving and, I have to say, it kicks polyfill.

Pattern: Jelly Baby from Jean Greenhowe's Little Gift Dolls

Yarn: Paton's 5Ply Treasure

Neddles: 2.5mm addi turbo lace circ

Made For: Softies for Mirabel

Amendments: I knit it in the round on a circ, using magic loop and Judy's magic toe cast on, instead of knitting it flat and seaming it. The yarn I used was actually 3 ply (fingering) instead of 8 ply (worsted), so it's pretty teeny.

Ravelry Details

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bunny for Mirabel

Bunny for Mirabel
Originally uploaded by wearespiraling
Pattern: Bunny from Jean Greenhowe's Knitted Animals

Yarn: Villawool Speediknit

Neddles: 3mm aluminium

Made For: Softies for Mirabel

Ravelry Details

Monday, November 19, 2007


Autumnal Detail
Originally uploaded by wearespiraling
Autumnal is finished, bringing my Christmas gift knitting total to... one.


Pattern: Autumnal, designed by me

Yarn: Tactile Fibre Arts sport

Needles: 2.5mm Addi Lace

Made for: Mumsie

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Scraping the bottom of the barrel...

Originally uploaded by wearespiraling
William is missing middle finger.


Saturday, November 17, 2007


Originally uploaded by wearespiraling
This little fattie is William, my mate's blue tongue lizard. There's another blue tongue in his menagerie, Tuppance, who Pants saved from a dog this week. He's just there to recouperate, though.

William is awesome. He has no toes on his back foot there, but my photo is pretty crap.

Yeah, I'm scratching for crafty content, I just need a chance to take some photos of projects.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Levi warms up

Originally uploaded by wearespiraling
1.What were you doing at 0800?
I'd been at work for an hour, but was sneakily reading blogs for a break before anyone else came in.

2. What were you doing 30 minutes ago?
Working, I'll head home soon. Busy day, 12 hours so far.

3. What was the last thing you said out loud?
I love you, to Pants, who is also working, far away

4. How many beverages did you have today?
1 cup of coffee, 1 1/2 beroccas and a few litres of water

5. What was the last thing you paid for?
A train ticket - Summer Hill to Bondi Junction - $3.40

6. Where were you last night?
Terminal 2 of Mascot Domestic Airport

7. Where do you keep your change?
In a St George's cross coin purse

8.What’s the weather like today?
I'm actually not sure, I've been at work for the past 12 and a bit hours. All of my meetings came to me today

9. What’s the best ice-cream flavor?
Choc mint, or possibly cherry

10. Do you want to cut your hair?
I haven't had a professional hair cut in years and I can't say I'll be bothering to any time soon

11. Do you talk a lot?
Yes, it took me to 23 to become comfortable with silence, but I can say a lot of words quite quickly without stopping for breath

12. Do you know anyone named Steven?
I promoted a delightful boy by the name of Steven, a few weeks ago, and he hasn't let me down

13. Do you chew on your straw?
Yes, Pants always knows which drink is mine

14. Where’s the next place you’re going to?
The train station, to go home and work from there for the weekend

15. What are your plans for this weekend?
Working, then playing on the new motorcycle that was delivered this afternoon, then some more working

Thursday, November 15, 2007

levi hiding

levi hiding
Originally uploaded by wearespiraling
This is Levi, my mate's long neck turtle.

Not that you'd know it to look at this photo.

He's a bit of a scaredy-cat and takes a while to warm up when you play with him.

I'm travelling again, so there's no actual real content to be had.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Originally uploaded by wearespiraling
One of the good things about the rediculously well-stocked garage Pants maintains is that you can pretty much always dodgy yourself up a darning needle out of a coil of wire shoved on a shelf out the very back.

It's not ideal, I went and bought six real ones today, but it does in a pinch.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Dead Spinning Wheel

Dead Spinning Wheel
Originally uploaded by wearespiraling
For the record, I hate the Ashford Traditional. In fact, I hate everything Ashford makes, I hated the Ashford 'villiage' in Ashburton, NZ, and I hated that all of their salespeople knew nothing about fibre or spinning.

I look at the ashford wheels and wonder why they decided to forget aesthetics and produce wheels with function and no form, especially when their function isn't so hot and their prices don't reflect their ugly.

That said, I've managed to pick up a cheap Traditional somewhere along the way (in Canberra, actually, it came home in the backseat of the land rover) that I pretty much hate.

MItzy is pants' wheel (though I use it overwhelmingly more), the Peggy is mine, but lives in my mother's living room and the Roberta is my workhorse, production wheel.

That said, I'm excited now, because we're modding (or as Pants says, Rodding) the crapford into a super spinner. It involves welding, checkerplate and detatchable parts, which is kind of exciting.

I hope pants finishes up today, or at least next week while I'm in Qld again for three days.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Gorgeous yarn

Originally uploaded by wearespiraling
This is the yarn I'm using for my autumnal sock and it's GORGEOUS.

Hand dyed using natural dyes (leaves and insects, which is awesome) but the very talented Maia, I won this skein in a competition on her blog.

This is seriously amazing wool, 100% superwash and the colours! My goodness. Plus, you know, I've unravelled the heel three times and it's still in perfect condition.

Maia doen't have anything up on her website, Tactile Fibre Arts, at the moment, but I'm watching like a hawk, because I must have more.

My mum is going to love these socks, she caught a glimpse yesterday afternoon. I hid them quickly, but she looked rather smug.

tactile closeup

Friday, November 9, 2007


Originally uploaded by wearespiraling
This weekend, Pants and I are modding our crappy Ashford Traveller into a superspinner.

We pulled it apart last weekend and now he just wants to bash on the keyboard while I type, somewhat like a monkey.

So I'll write more later, when my love has gone away.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Where is my mind?

Autumnal progress
Originally uploaded by wearespiraling
This is the second sock of Autumnal, the first time I attempted the heel.

Yeah, first time, I've just started on the leg after my fourth attempt was finally successful.

I don't know what my problem is. The first attempt ended up really narrow after I somehow managed to get my stitches divided unevenly somewhere in the foot. The second attempt I just wasn't paying attention and I botched it.

The third attempt was at the Tapestry Craft S&B tonight, where I was talking too much and not watching enough and missed a decrease. Moron.

Now, however, it's done, as is one of the 11 pattern repeats, which makes me a very happy girl.

I'm secretly hoping to finish and cast on Pants' mum's socks tomorrow. This time I'm doing both at the same time, which will hopefully be less confusing.

Monkey for Mirabel

Monkey for Mirabel
Originally uploaded by wearespiraling
I'm secretly attempting to finish five softies for mirabel, which is kind of a lofty goal, considering how busy I am and the fact that I'll be travelling for business next week.

Here's softie #1, made from a Sewing Stars pattern book. He's made of cuddly fleece and his arms can tie in the front to hold onto things.

This is a super pattern book and I've made a few of these monkeys before. I really must make some of the other patterns.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Autumnal foot

Autumnal foot
Originally uploaded by wearespiraling
I started designing this sock on October 31.
I call it autumnal, in honour of the gorgeous Tactile Fibre Arts yarn. It's for my mother for Christmas and as soon as I've made it and another pair for Pants' mama for Chirstmas, I'll be publishing the pattern.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Poor old Mitzy

Mitzi spokes
Originally uploaded by wearespiraling
I've been neglecting my beautiful Mitzy terribly.

I'm all about the sock knitting these days, to the detriment of my other crafty persuits.

Tonight, though, I have to get cracking on soft toy Christmas presents and my contribution to Softies for Mirabel.

I'm thinking monkeys.

Friday, October 26, 2007


multi blue louet
Originally uploaded by wearespiraling
On my flight to Brisbane yesterday (yes, traveling for business again) I cast on a firestarters.

Well, I cast on a toe using Judy's magic toe and then stalled until I could get to my hotel room and find an appropriate toe-up patten.

I'm only on my second repeat (busy up here, too busy) but I messed up the first one.

Oh well, turns out I'm the kind of knitter who lives with her mistakes.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Originally uploaded by wearespiraling
This grasshopper rode the train to work on my foot on Monday morning.

He crawled around on there for 30 minutes or so before I moved him onto my book and then onto the floor.

A few years ago, I was riding my motorcycle when a grasshopper crawled up my trouser leg and bit me.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Blog Action Day

Crimson Rosella
Originally uploaded by wearespiraling
I believe that we here at Spiraling are pretty environmentally responsible. Our niddy noddies are made from recycled hardwoods, our sock blockers from reclaimed boards and our fibres sourced locally and often processed from fleece.

I ride a vespa and Pants drives a diesel Land Rover which are both consumption responsible vehicles, although we do have a couple of motorcycles that aren't as friendly as the vespa, but are certainly more friendly than most cars.

We recycle, reduce water usage, avoid fast food and imported goods.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with our collective footprint.

However, I'm about to catch my fifteenth flight for the year.

Fifteen. Four of which have been international.

Outrageous. I travel for business, I'm currently in a motel in Nth Qld, but I also travel a lot for pleasure. Pants and I went to Radelaide to see Hilltop Hoods perform with the ASO earlier this year and to Melbourne for his Birthday.

There are plenty of carbon offset programs, it's easy enough to click that button when you book a flight, but something makes me hesitate.

I want to do something a bit more personal, so Pants and I are going to go to a friend's farm and plant trees. Then I'm going to chase the pregnant alpacas around a field.

This little guy is a crimson rosella I met on a recent weekend at Bendalong. See? Mother Nature doesn't hate me for all the air travel.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sumo Sock

Hand-dyed Sumo Sock in Peach Schnapps & Cranberry, my drink of choice. Sometimes.

This stuff knits up into socks in no time, but I think I'm going to cast on a bainbridge scarf.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Pants Sock

Pants Sock
Originally uploaded by wearespiraling
Aparently, no one has ever knit anything for Pants, which makes me (and his mum, frankly) terribly remiss.

To whit, I've started a pair of socks. I cast on last weekend around the campfire at Bendalong.

Since this photo was taken yesterday, I've caught two flights, so the heel is done and about an inch of foot.

I'm away on business for four days, so I'll have to stop before I get to the toe so he can try it on.

I'm really happy with the yarn, though, it's Opal Prisma.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Nephling Sock

nephling sock
Originally uploaded by wearespiraling
Teeny, tiny sock, just perfect for my teeny, tiny soon-to-be-nephew.

Now I just have to make the other one...

Monday, October 8, 2007

simple sock

simple sock
Originally uploaded by wearespiraling
Socks! Oh, how I love socks. They're so quick and mindless, especially a simple cuff-down stocking stitch number like this, with a basic hourglass heel.

This badboy is all mine, made from Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Solids in Hot Pink and Turquoise.

Perfect road trip knitting.