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.