Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Project 5: Woodland Shawl

woodland detail
Originally uploaded by wearespiraling
I'm a bit behind, here, so bear with me.

This past was a long weekend, four-dayer for the 55,000 of us at the Sydney BDO on Friday, and yet knitting activity was minimal.

I spent some of the time moving my workshop into the new workshop (the Bunker) that we've leased. It's kind of an underground concrete shelter room, so not great for photos, but it's rad and I'm filling it up with my lovelies and it's got scooter parking. So...

What knitting I have been doing has been plugging away at massive, massive, endless stocking stitch items that will be fulled. I have a hat and some slips, so far, but damn, it's taking it's sweet time.

I actually finished this project a week or two ago and just haven't had time to post it, so here it is.

Let me just preface this by saying that Nikol Lohr warned me, but I went ahead anyway and this made a VERY skimpy shawl.

Noro sock is 420 metres, so I was hopeful, but I have broad shoulders and this little shawl is just long enough to pin at my chest. If I were to do it again (and I'd definitely want to), I'd use two skeins and make it another repeat or two wider.

I made it originally to take on a bunch of flights later this year, I thought it would be nice to just throw over my shoulders, but I think it's a bit small. Not sure how much use I will get out of it, I may just hang it on the wall or something.

It's a great pattern, though. The embossed leaves stitch is one that I used over the break on my Murray River socks (ok, sock. I'll get to the other one), so it was a painless project for my first lace.

The yarn, Noro Kureyon Sock, is MUCH, MUCH nicer than first touch would have you think. Knitting from the inside of the ball, it was super tangly and pretty annoying, but much softer than knitting from the outside, due to the knitting action untwisting the yarn a little.

There were some bits of VM, but not too much and I LOVED the striping. There are colours in there that I'm not overly fond of, but it just WORKS.

I'm a Noro convert, now, says she as she rests her feet on her box of assorted Noro yarns, waiting, waiting.

The thick and thin parts of the yarn were quite dramatic, but it knit up really nicely into this fabric.

I call it a win.

Pattern: Woodland Shawl, by Nikol Lohr

Yarn: Noro Kureyon Sock in 102

Needles: 4.5mm circ

Made for: Me!

Ravelry Link

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Project 4: Maine Morning Mitts

I've a few FOs backed up, so I'm doing them in order.

This is no 4 of the 52 projects I'm attempting to finish this year.

I'm going to start with my issues with this project, because I'm feeling contrary:
1. Noro Kureyon. Love it. LOVE IT. I never understood why everyone raved about Noro, which is a 20$ a ball yarn with twigs in it. Then I made these mitts (my first ever Noro project, it took me almost 7 months of knitting) and I got it. Loves me some Noro now.

However, what I do not like is the non-matchiness of these mitts. I checked out the project page on Ravelry and I knew they would be fraternal and I thought I could handle it, but damn. These are fraternal like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito are fraternal. They don't even look like they're from the same colourway.

So, I've ordered another skein and I will hopefully get two relatively matching pairs out of it.

2. Clara Parkes. Honestly, I kind of love you. I've been reading your IK articles and I've been really impressed, but, seriously, you have Kureyon listed as a singles yarn? Are you insane? Apart from the fact that the ball band has it listed as a 2ply, you can feel it when you're knitting and the plies want to come apart.

Otherwise, it's a great pattern with a great yarn. I don't know that I'll make another pair (after I make the partners for these) but I'm certainly going to experement with gussets in gloves and mitts in the future.

Pattern: Maine Morning Mitts, by Clara Parke

Yarn: Noro Kureyon in 92

Needles: 4.5mm circ

Made for: Me, kind of. I want the green & pink one

Ravelry Link

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Project 3: CBG hat

This is project 3 for the year and I'm ashamed to say that I made it one day two weeks ago and it's taken me this long to post it.

This is a spiraling hat out of my handspun corriedale. See the little yarn tail near my nose? That's exactly how much yarn I had left over.

This is a gift for a friend's Birthday, which will be late by the time it gets overseas. I like it, it has some personal jokes made out of shrinkie dinks spun in, which is fun.

Pattern: Spiraling Hat

Yarn: Spiraling handdyed hanspun, 100% corriedale in cbg

Needles: 10mm dpns, made by pants

Made for: Comic Book Guy

Ravelry Details

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Bainbridge Scarf - late posted Christmas effort.

I made this Bainbridge Scarf for my mums for Christmas, out of a single skein of gorgeous alpaca yarn. She loved it and I'm certain she'll get lots of use out of it, when winter rolls around.

This pattern was the first I found and fell in love with on Ravelry, first in my queue, I was going to use some 8ply hand dyed, but the alpaca is so soft and snuggly and lovely and I know she'll be able to wear the off-white tucked into her khaki work shirts or dressed up with her black wool coat.

Pattern: Bainbridge Scarf, by MintyFresh

I only wanted to use one skein (it's discontinued and I'm hoarding the other five! Five more gift Bainbridges!) so I made it a little less deep and made the ties shorter.

Yarn: Plymouth Indiecita Alpaca 4-ply Worsted in Off-White

Needles: 3.75mm (US 5) circ

Made for: mumsie

Ravelry Link

Monday, January 7, 2008

Project 2 - Handspun Mitts

The thing with knitting with handspun, for me at least, is that you never know if you're going to have enough to finish your project.

I was convinced, making the mind's eye hat, that I would run out and have to use something else for the very top, but miraculously, I managed to eke a pair of fingerless mitts out of the yardage.

Very basic, made-up pattern, 7 rows of ribbing, stockinette to the thumb hole, which is bound off, then re-cast on the next row, then stockinette for a bit, then seven rows of 2x2 ribbing and a sewn cast off. Voila!

I knit these on the 4th, during a road trip to Camden for the opshops, down and out to a place I can't spell near Woollongong to buy a couple of surfboards (more projects - one has a giant crack and one is missing a fin, but I have plans for the missing fin board).

Again, any project I can finish in a day is a winner, as far as I'm concerned.

Here's a closeup of the fabric. This is a very thick and thin singles yarn that I spun very early in my spinning career. It's been sitting in my spinning closet for years and in that time, it's managed to lose it's singles bias. Interesting.

Pattern: Improvised

Yarn: Spiraling handdyed hanspun, 100% merino in Smoothie

Needles: 5mm circ

Made for: The present box

Ravelry Link

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Project 1, Book 1 - Mind's Eye Hat

As part of my resolution to make one project from each of my knitting books, I cast on this simple handspun hat from Spin to Knit by Shannon Okey.

This is the Mind's Eye Hat, with a few minor modifications. I added an inch or so of 2x2 ribbing and continued to decrease into a point rather than drawing the yarn through the stitches at the crown and cinching.

It's a good pattern, I finished it in an afternoon and an evening, which is a requirement in a hat, for me, but I think in the future I'll just stick to my spiraling hat.

Spin to Knit is an interesting book, written by Knitgrrl Shannon Okey. I picked it up in the US early last year and it's taken me until now to read it. It's quite a good resource for utilising handspun, but I'd probably only recommend it to new spinners. It's interesting, but there's nothing new in there.

There aren't many projects from it that I would make, but one day I'll tackle the faux fair isle raglan pullover (ravelry link).

Pattern: Mind's Eye Hat from Spin to Knit

Yarn: Spiraling handdyed hanspun, 100% merino in Smoothie

Needles: 5mm circ

Made for: The present box

Ravelry Link

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Singerama - Another Spiraling project

I just found out that it was made on June 28, 1941!! That makes it 66 years old and I'd call it's condition immaculate. Interestingly, this was during the war, so I guess that means that they were still producing them on a small scale while they were making munitions for the war effort, presumably to either keep money coming in or to provide people with the means to create uniforms and things for soldiers, perhaps both.

The best thing is that Pants' grandmother was definitely working there then. I like to think that she was a part of the creation of this beautiful machine that's made it's way half way across the world to be owned by her only grandson, living in the dining room of her son. It's serendipitous.

The (admitedly rather boring looking) antique cabinet in my earlier post is actually more exciting than you would think, because this is what's hiding in it's guts.

It's a poor photo, taken in the crowded garage (excuse the XR and the MGB) in fading light, but it's a Singer 201k, thought by many to be the greatest sewing machine made by the Singer corp.

We bought this on our road trip, from the same place as the Bandit (what can I say? We got a good deal). A few days earlier, we saw one at a market in Canberra that was four times the price and the veneer on the top was a mess and it had some serious UV fading.

I wanted it, though. We agreed that we would do some research and have a look at some others before we bought one. We saw a few more (even more expensive ones) in Braidwood on our way to the coast, then found this one on our last day, when I jokingly said to Pants, 'if we buy the pokie machine, we need a treddle sewing machine, too' and the antique store owner unearthed it from the back of the shop.

So, we strapped them both in the back of the land rover and brought them back to Sydney.

We showed Pants' da, because we wanted some advice on how to clean it, and he got really excited and pointed out the Manufactured in GB decal, telling me that that meant it was made in Scotland (because if it was made en Angleterre, it would say so specifically), then went on to tell me that they were made in Glasgow (well, he said 'glasgeh', but I'm pretty sure that's what he meant!) and that his mother used to work in the Singer factory in Clydebank.

She was a supervisor there during the war when they were making ammunition and Pants' da says that she has heaps of rad (ok, he didn't say rad, he probably said something unintelligibly Glaswegian) photos from the time, including one of the ladies on a break, wearing their dungarees and head scarves. I can't wait to check them out when I visit in September (YAY!) for a family wedding, I'll try to scan some, because it sounds totally Rosie the Riveter to me.

Anywho, it's a 201k, originally a treddle machine that's had the treddie disconnected and upgraded (though it still works and we're probably going to disconnect it and use it as a treddlie) with an aftermarket bakelite Singer motor and light, which you can kind of see in the photo below.

It has the paperclips design and I *think* it may be a centenial version from 1950, but I'm awaiting confirmation. It would tickle me if it was made when Pants' grandmother was working there, that would be fantastic.

All in all, it's a gorgeous machine and we're really happy with it. It was a bit less of a project than we thought it would be, considering it was all working (including the lightbulb!) and the cabinet was in great condition. It even has the key to the drawer, the manuals, an advertisment for the motor add-on and a bunch of feet, including a ruffler, a quilting foot, pintuck foot, bias binding foot, rolled hem foot and more.

We couldn't find much information on restoring antique Singer sewing machines, so this is what we did.

First of all, it's important (to us, certainly, and to collectors) that we didn't change anything on the machine, it was really all about cleaning for us.

We used a car wash, duluted in water to clean the actual machine. It's painted metal with gold decals, so take care and make sure to wring out the cloth you're using. We gave it a pretty good scrub, actually, because it had quite a bit of hardened machine oil all over the place.

Ours looked like there had been a protective film or lacquer on the machine that was coming off, but it turns out that it was old oil, so we cleaned and buffed it off.

Once we (and by we, I kind of mostly mean Pants' da) had removed all of the oil, we used a car polish to give the machine an once-over and buffed it up to a high shine. All of the chrome parts were cleaned with a car chrome polish, to remove any rough bits and surface rust.

Do not use car cleaner or polish on any bakelite parts, 60 y/o bakelite is really brittle and should only be dusted with a soft cloth. In this instance, it's also where all of the electrical bits of the motor live and you should certainly take care with a 60 y/o motor and it's wiring.

Then, we moved onto the cabinet. All of the hinges are in great condition and the spring-loaded arm that holds the top open works, too, so we just used a bit of teak oil on the wood, rubbing it in along the grain, leaving it for ten minutes and buffing it off, paying particular attention to the bit on top where the two leaves join.

Hope this helps someone get the most out of their anitque Singer.

Ours looks fantastic and is now (temporarily) residing in Pants' mother's dining room, until we move and steal it back from her.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

We call it the bandit (a Spiraling project)

Jay guessed it, it's a slot machine, or as we call them here, a poker machine (pokie!), but Pants and I call it the Bandit.

It's an Aristocrat machine, we believe from the 60s or 70s (the bottom screen is from the 70s, certainly, but it doesn't match the top screen, which is probably a bit older).

We bought it in a fairly sub-par condition. The lights worked, but that's about it. The arm would pull down a little, but not completely, the coinslot rejected and it's a big huge mass of cogs and whirring things in there.

The good thing is that this is a eary machine, before they were electronic, which means that anything wrong with it is purely mechanical, and purely mechanical is what my baby is good at (he is a real mechanical thinker, I'm really numerically-minded with a high logical problem solving ability, we make a fantastic team).

See the circle hole in the pic above? That's part of the coin mechanism. There are two tubes, one that goes straight to that hole and one that goes off to the side and drops coins into the bank underneath. We've taken off the first tube for this photo, the second is missing, so we'll construct another out of a peice of rectangular aluminium tubing or conduit.

The stickers are lifting, but in decent condition, the coin slot appears to be bent and won't allow coins into it. The keys are lost (thankfully, it's all open), all of the chrome is a mess and all of the grease in the mechanisms is hard and slowing the workings down. It has bits of fluff and coins strewn through it and it needs a good cleaning.

We think it wants to work, though. It just needs some love and encouragement. Pants' da is pretty excited about it, as a project, as are we, and he's already started polishing the chrome, just to see how it will clean up.

Blogger is making my photos look a bit crap. grrr.

New Year Projects

On new year's eve, Pants and I swung through a little antiques place down the coast and bought our first projects for the year.

First up is the delightful antique cabinet above, which we've actually already finished, and we've just gotten started on the mystery peice below.

It's a massive mess and has the potential to be an enormous headache, but we'll see.

I really enjoy working on projects with Pants.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


I'm interrupting scheduled blogging to squee about the HUGE order of Noro Kureyon Sock yarn that was *just* delivered to my house. This is a group order for Aussie Knitters on Rav, but a few of these are for me.

The colour variation in a skein is stunning, here are two balls of colour 95, it's amazing how different it looks from different parts of the skein.

Reports of it's scratchiness are NOT exagerated, it's pretty rough and it has a lot of energy, I really think it will double on itself mercilessly. Oh, well, let the great experement begin!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

big truck little tent

big truck little tent
Originally uploaded by wearespiraling
Pants and I returned last night (just in time to unpack and be in bed by 10, then awoken by the fireworks at midnight) from six days and five nights driving around NSW.

We had an absolutely fantastic trip, three nights in the diminutive tent seen above (probably should have slept in the big truck, but whatever) and two nights staying with my godbaby's family. Bliss.

We were going to stay longer but some purchases necessitated an early return and project work. More on that later.

I'm not really one for making resolutions, but if I were to make any this year, I would make these:

  • spend more time camping with Pants, off road, with dirtbikes whenever possible
  • drive more, even though that means less knitting time and relinquishing control of the ipod
  • visit my far away goddaughter and her as yet unborn sibling (the godfetus) at least twice
  • knit one project from each of my knitting books
  • make something every week, 52 projects for the year