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Dry spell

The whole of June was dry. In terms of rains in Mumbai as well as words from me on this blog. The rains have finally arrived here with a vengeance and I decided to come back and talk.

My stash is in a garage, corrugated cardboard wrapped and clingfilmed. I spent one month working on the little I’d packed for that chimeric granny square bedspread, then I was one month haunting the Weavers’ Centre in Hyderabad and learning about floor looms. After returning to Mumbai and limbo-land, my fingers got itchy. So off I went to the LYS (there is actually one, more a Local Craft Store, and very near by this city’s standards) and picked up some thread to knit a doily. I forgot my half-formed resolution to use thicker fibre for lace, and got the usual #20 equivalent.

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Got a few rounds into it and then decided my daughter and I needed head gear for the sunny walk to and wait at the bus stop. So off I went and got some acrylic yarn and matching thread. That turned into this:

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But I realised my gauge is much looser than the LYS owner thinks, and I ought really to have bought a hook a couple of sizes smaller. So I quickly went off the second hat, but miraculously, perhaps because I was making sun hats, the monsoon settled in. Now I don’t need a hat anyway.

Then I forget how, but I got itchy to crochet a doily. This time I made sure to get a thinner hook, and double the thread. I’m happy now and have got about 33 rounds done of a Japanese pattern, despite having to undo several rounds and redo them. I’m thinking this might turn into another parasol, which would be about as much use as a doily in my house. Not that I have a house at this point.

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Not quite in the ditch

The sewing machine and I aren’t really friends, although we are on speaking terms. I’m happy if I can sew a straight seam most of the time. But I do prefer machine sewing to a needle and thread any day.

I have sewn some things for my daughter, and a few cushion covers etc. but it was a huge leap from those to quilting. The occasion of a friend having twin daughters seemed a good time to start, especially when someone pointed me to a shop in Chennai that sold jelly rolls, which I’ve been drooling over for ages but found too expensive to buy from abroad… In fact, I was so impatient to begin that while waiting for my order to be delivered, I went ahead and chopped up and sewed some fabric I had on hand.

Continue reading Not quite in the ditch

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About slippery slopes…

…and good intentions.

I did intend to be a more frequent blogger, honest. That is, when I was not thinking of shutting down the blog altogether. But well. There’s work (March was hectic), some weaving, lots of reading (Simon Brett, an abortive Cecilia Ahern [I think I’m too old for her, I was quite bored and couldn’t finish the book], Dick Francis [I actually found one that apparently I hadn’t read], lots of comfort reads) and reading always beats most other things. And I think it always will.

So. Only a couple of posts in March.

Among the things I wove in March was this scarf, with some textured yarn I bought from Pony, that I would normally never have bought for crochet or knitting.

Continue reading About slippery slopes…

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Hello there!

Yes, I know. I last posted here on the last day of the last year. And to be perfectly frank, I was considering whether to mark this blog as dead. I have too little to say which I haven’t already said on Ravelry.

However, this is by way of being a test post. A friend was asking why her blog posts aren’t showing up on the South Asian Crafters group page on Ravelry and I had to confess I hadn’t blogged this year at all. As moderator of said group, I thought I would post here and see if my post shows up.

One of the small projects I finished this year was a set for a friend with a new baby. I tested the frock pattern for the designer and then made the booties to match. Wool sock yarn, since the things were for a London baby. And the yarn (squooshy!) was from a sock yarn club I (bought? took? participated in?) as one of those “Try everything once” things.

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The dress happened to be the 300th project I’ve entered into Ravelry. The designer has cute girls of her own, so I get to try out lots of girly stuff when testing for her. They’re usually quick projects, plus she lets me use whatever yarn I have on hand.

The booties were in my queue for a long time. I’m always attracted to things with brioche stitch in them. I entirely forgot to send the leftover yarn to my friend, though. I’m told the baby liked them.

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A toss-up

It was a toss-up whether I should use a lull in my schedule to blog or get back to knitting on the Summer Mystery Shawlette or a project I’m testing for someone on Ravelry. Blogging won narrowly, if only because I can finish and get back to knitting. But once I lose the impetus to blog, it’ll not come back for a while.

I was reassured that I still do have readers (thank you, you know who). I’m not surprised that in general the incentive to blog or read blogs has declined with the rise of Ravelry. One neat project page there gives you absolutely everything you’d want to know about a project. Which means that writing a blog post that is interesting of itself is a great challenge. Some manage to do it with sheer brilliance of writing, some add personal details or philosophy, and some floor you with amazing images. I cannot do any of those; my writing is technically fine but lacking sparkle, I have no philosophy I’d feel comfortable sharing, my personal life is humdrum and my photography barely passes muster. Much of this is due to laziness, of course, and therefore self-perpetuating. I do not, of course, speak of those creative people who actually make up patterns or techniques and therefore have their blogging raw material handy.

However! As a tribute to my readers that are, here are a couple more things I made a while ago and never blogged about. They were commissioned by a friend for her toddler son but arrived too late to catch the fag end of last winter. Both were made with acrylic available locally, as being easiest to find and care for.

The first was the popular Baby Sophisticate pattern, which I adapted slightly to suit my yarn (a heavy worsted weight) and the finished size I was aiming for (Ravelled here). The second was Ola’s Vest (project page here) which caught my eye because of the stitch pattern. The mostly stockinette patterns suited me, since the yarn was thick anyway. I didn’t want to end up with body armour.

I only used my brain in working out how many stitches to cast on for the Sophisticate (which seemed to have worked and anyway I had a lot of help from the projects of other Ravellers), and in trying a different decrease for the v-shaping of the neck ribbing on Ola’s. The latter wasn’t very successful, since I was aiming for a sort of “merging into one another” sort of look and ended up with, “oh dear, that looks a mess, so glad it’s a small bit”. Ah well.

Both went to their owner, but I suppose I’ll have to wait until winter for posed pictures. The ones I took were poor, since I wanted to get them mailed off quickly (I’d delayed the finishing of them quite a bit so my conscience was troubling me already), so you’ll pardon me if I show dark indoors photographs. They are as yet my only mementos. The second one first.

Ola's vest

I must add, though, that I was fairly happy with how the ribbing ended up on the sleeves and neck. It looks as it ought to. I’m never comfortable with picking up stitches “evenly”. The thing grew, though, in the wash and now I wonder if I will have to wait until not this winter but the next to see it worn! That’s if the world hasn’t ended from a variety of causes in the meantime. The other thing to note is that my new (then) bamboo circular needle did not give me much pleasure. It was far too grippy for the acrylic (as I found on another more recent project) and I had to change to Denise plastic, which then worked swimmingly. Except that due to my hate of cutting yarn, I left ends dangling and purled instead of knitting, which made picking up the long slipped stitches a bit of a challenge. You want to solve one problem so you cut corners and create another!

And here’s the first sweater.

Trying for an artsy shot but failing

The blue-grey of this one means you get no idea of the actual colour from my photograph. Tough.

I didn’t weigh the sweaters, so I don’t know how much yarn they used. Yarn here is sold by weight and not length, which usually isn’t a problem if you are the creative sort of knitter and make up your own patterns or can just look at a finished piece and guess how to make it. You then generally have the knowledge to ask the guy in the shop for exact amounts of yarn. If you aren’t on the other hand that sort of knitter but rely heavily on being spoonfed by someone else’s hand, then you just walk into the shop and tell him the size of person the sweater is for and they can generally tell you how many grammes of the yarn you’ve chosen you will need to a nice degree of accuracy. Your problem then comes if you are using several different colours for a specific pattern and have to estimate how much of each you might need. Then you just buy and hope for the best. It’s a toss-up.

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It was not to be.

I fell in love with this pattern when it first appeared on Ravelry, so you can imagine my joy when it came up for testing. No matter that I’d never done stranded colour work before or duplicate stitching, I jumped to volunteer for testing. I sent up a desperate appeal for India’s only cotton yarn (we’ve never heard of any other than threads) and a friend kindly volunteered to send me some. Which she duly did to me in Hyderabad and I set out to make the dress.

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As you can see, the idea was a good one. Only, in the execution, user error crept in and the project was a fail. For several reasons, including: my first colour work, and it shows; it ended up too small even though I made it 6-months and Chandra was around 5 months old then and she is a small baby; I’m mortal afraid the red/maroon will run, so I’ve not even washed it; I don’t like the long floats from the duplicate stitch.

Pattern: Paisley Baby Dress by Mimi Kezer of Pastiche Knitwear (a Ravelry shop). There’s a matching hat. In addition to colour work and stranding and duplicate stitching, I also did my first picot edge hem.

Needles: 3.5mm

Yarn: Laura (the only cotton yarn sold in India for handknitting, as opposed to thread). It’s DK-ish. It’s fine, but not a luxury cotton, while not quite a dishcloth one either.

Time: About eight days, so it’s fairly easy, considering I’d never done a colourwork pattern before.

Size: Too small for Chandra

I have this now and don’t quite know what to do with it. For one, it’s small, for two, the colour might run (I know I should have tested for fastness before I used it, but I needed it in a hurry and was getting it from another city sight unseen, plus I needed it in a hurry!), for three I don’t like the long floats and finish of my duplicate stitching on the bodice and for four the stranding and the cotton make it a dense thing. I’m half tempted to sew up the bottom and turn it into a bag. Or maybe when my doll has a doll of her own she will use it for her wardrobe.

I’m thinking I might make it in acrylic, which would make it lighter and the elasticity of the yarn would make better looking stranding.

I knit both colours with my right hand for this project, but have since started using the left for one strand and knitting it continental, scooping the yarn with the RH needle in a motion which is very similar to crochet and therefore quite quick. I haven’t purled with it yet, so I cannot say how fast I’d be that way. I do not appear to have tension issues either. Much happier with the two strands kept apart than forever having to detangle (disentangle?) them.

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A false Fall

Orange covers

I’ve never seen Fall (Autumn) myself, though we are supposed to have, in Indian tradition, 6 seasons (Vasant, Grishm, Varsha, Sharad, Hemant and Sisir), it’s usually only, mild, hot and hotter. Or damp, damper and dampest if you live in Kerala.

However, I do believe the colours I just chose for two projects are Fall colours, the colours of the foliage as it prepares to drop. I’ve wanted to break out of my comfort zone of inoffensive pastels and typical choices, so when I decided to make a couple of covers for the new TV at my parents’ home and the DVD player, I took my courage in my hands and chose these. I wasn’t sure how they’d work, but I think they do fine. (My mother did tease me though, “Would you wear a saree in these colours?” The answer to that I think would still be NO.)

I also took the opportunity to try two patterns I’ve had my eyes on for a while. The first of those was the diagonal box stitch (also called crazy stitch, I think). I found a good tutorial at Crochet Cabana here. Then there was the popular Wooleater blanket from Sarah London (who always has such gorgeous colours on her blog).

Orange covers

Yarn: Unnamed acrylic in sport weight, 5 different colours, about a hank each. The whole batch cost me Rs 88/-. Cheap!

Patterns: The Diagonal Box Stitch for the TV cover (above) and the Wooleater pattern for the smaller DVD player cover. I can now tick both of them off my list of crochet-to-do. Both are easier than they look and once you ‘get’ them, you don’t have to look at the instructions again.

Hook: 4.00mm

Time: The pieces themselves were quick, but the ends, oh my. There were around a 100 ends on the TV cover which I finally wove in while watching the Winter Olympic coverage. The DVD player cover had a few less, mainly because I used less yarn (the leftovers from the TV cover). The DVD cover ended up scrappy since I focused on using up the yarn rather than making sure the rows had only one colour. No problem, I wanted to use up all the yarn anyway. Great value for money.

Size: Didn’t really measure, but they are good for the purposes they were meant to serve.

Extra: Had teeny amounts of yarn left, some of which ended up in this:

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It’s a hairband I made up in an hour, and it is adjustable. And yes, the baby is wearing a handknit, more of which later. Let me leave you with a link to Rima’s blog. Her use of colour inspires and amazes me.

Orange covers

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We haz a model!

I’ve been making baby stuff for years now, as you will know if you’ve been reading my blog for a while. Rarely do I get to see the things I make on the intended recipient. Indeed, I have no way of knowing if they fit or are useful, even. But now I have a model for any knit/crochet objects I make in the future.

Wearing Pebble

She’s called Chandra and was born on November 10th, as most of my Internet friends know by now, via Facebook or Ravelry. She’s wearing Pebble, which I made a couple of months ago.

Pattern: Pebble (and on Ravelry). Easy, quick and satisfying. I used some of the Russian cotton I still have and ended up with this size, which I could call newborn, I suppose.  (My project page here.)

Yarn: Kamtex Khlopok (khlopok meaning cotton) from St. Petersburg. I got 6 balls of it with a lot of yardage and still have odd amounts left. Other projects from it include my Chakra purse, a Fat Bottom Bag, a cabled baby bib, another bib I find I didn’t blog about that I used the crochet trinity stitch for and improvised, and yet another baby bib that I made up from a pattern I saw somewhere (again unblogged). This yarn is a bit splitty, but looks fine when worked up and the yardage is enormous. Pebble’s been washed a couple of times and has worn well in the handwash-with-hot-water-and-Dettol plus dryer cycle.

Needles: 3.5mm (I use circulars whenever possible, my straights are mostly decorative now, I’m afraid.)

Time: Overnight.

Size: My newborn (who is on the petite side).

Extra: I learnt garter Kitchener to graft the one shoulder seam and was quite happy with the outcome. Not that I remember how to do it now, but it’s not scary any more.

I made it in blue, because well, the cotton yarn I had was blue, also, a teeny weeny bit of superstition in me, I suppose, that if I made it in the western boy tradition, I’d not jinx my chances of having a girl! It seems to have worked anyway.

I leave you with a picture of the unmodelled Pebble so you know how it looks. There’s another photo of Chandra in it on my Ravelry page or my Flickr stream.

Pebble

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Orange, not gold

Why are they called goldfish? I’d call them orangefish myself, but then I’m too literal and prosaic. Not that they aren’t charming, as “What’s in a name” and all that. Yes, I’m now the owner of a small aquarium, with a pair of fantailed  (or is it veiltailed) goldfish. I’d also got a pair of cute tiger barbs and (I think) platies, but they were hassling the goldfish, so I’ve changed them over for a pair each of balloon mollies and sharkfish. (Don’t mind me if I’m calling all the fish by the wrong names, I’m a fishkeeping novice). And then on Sunday we went to an aquarium expo and I picked up two pearlscaled goldfish.

Actually, I’ve been wanting a change in the colour spectrum, but I ended up coming home with those gold (orange) creatures once again. Ah well. Maybe one day I shall get my wish and end up with some nice blue and green ones. Or purple. And I definitely fell in love with those platies or whatever, bright orange with black tails and fins. Perhaps I should just have taken the smaller fish and not the large goldfish, because these are heavy eaters, and just as heavy in their, er…you know.

I haven’t got any good pictures of the fish. I have enough difficulty managing passable pictures of stationary objects in sunlight so you can imagine how troublesome it is to get any of flashing, flashy live creatures in a moving medium. I might one day. So until then I’ve decided to divert your attention with some other orange stuff. I’m quite kicked about this. Find my Rav page here.

Turiya's dress

This was a birthday present for the daughter of a friend back in December. And since I like to be pedantic, here are the details in my usual format.

Yarn: Some yarn that I think Heide sent me. I suppose it is some kind of acrylic, because there was no label, and a burn test made it melt. It’s about fingering weight and I have oodles left over.

Hook: 4.00mm

Pattern: I grafted the yoke from the Sweet Pea Dress (Rav link) by Sue Childress (from Crochet World Magazine, April 2008, available here from e-patternscentral.com as a PDF) on to a skirt that I sewed myself. I was very happy with the skirt bit, because for once I sewed reasonably straight lines on the sewing machine. But of course I couldn’t quite trust myself to sew the yoke to the skirt using the machine, what with it being a mix of media, yarn and cloth, so that bit I did by hand. The gathers came out fine, too. I actually tried to find a ready pattern in knit or crochet which would have all the instructions, but I didn’t find one I liked enough or was simple enough.

I didn’t want to make a full acrylic dress either, and anyway I’d had problems with the pattern when I tried making it. So this incarnation is much better.

Size: It fit a new three-year-old quite nicely, and I hope it will fit her for some time.

Time: About 4 days, and I did the sewing in one day.

Extra: It’s orange! Should have been pink, perhaps, since the recipient loves that colour, but I thought this was bright enough, wouldn’t you say? Initially my friend said she found it too hot, but apparently later went through a phase, as children do, of refusing to wear anything else to the park every evening. Made me happy. I hope that was true.

I know I’m not blogging frequently enough, but I find that all the bits and pieces of information I find it necessary to note down I do on Rav, leaving me with little to add elsewhere. Somehow I’m not confortable any longer blogging without a knit or crochet project to write about. The rest of my day is too dull to blog. It does make the blog monotonous, and intermittent, so I’m really grateful to you, my readers for sticking with me.

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A bounty of blue – 3

I promise my next blog post will be different! It’s just that once I actually finished making something with the Russian cotton, it was like I found it eminently suitable to lots of things. Actually, having spent a small fortune on having it imported, I thought I had to make a wearable out of it and was not willing to admit that I didn’t like the non-glazed, non-mercerised look of it when worked up. Now I’ve decided that since the ice is broken, I can use the yarn for whatever I want, just so my stash is reduced. So here’s another thing I made out of it.

Modern cable baby bib

Yarn: Kamteks Khlopok from Russia (Khlopok = cotton), just over half a skein. (Each skein had 250m yarn). Held two strands together.

Needles: Size 3.50mm (US 4)

Pattern: Modern Cabled Baby Bib (it’s a free Ravelry download) by Andrea Pomerantz (gibsongirl on Ravelry). I can’t see if it is available outside of Ravelry, though. Here’s my Ravelry project page.

Time: Overnight. I had to make a gift in a hurry for a colleague/neighbour’s baby (I thought the mom had left with the baby for a vacation, then discovered she hadn’t just two days before I left for Bangalore, so I needed to whip this up in a hurry. I had been considering a bib anyway and found this on Ravelry.)

Size: 7″ x 7″ not including the strap, of course.

Extra #1 Nothing much to say. Nice easy and elegant pattern. Suitable for either gender, perhaps slightly masculine. That’s good, though, because so many patterns tend to be suited for girls.

#2 I wanted to put a much larger wooden button, and even sewed it in, but then I found it was too large for the buttonhole. Duh. So I unsewed it and sewed on a slightly smaller one. (I’m calling the buttons wooden, but I think they might be coconut shell.)

I must warn you that I have (had) a total of 1500m of this yarn in my stash.