Finished object 6 – the specialest of shawls

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I was gifted the most special of yarns. 

Keri (of whendidibecomeaknitter) sent me a skein of her hand spun. 

It was sent with a knitted dalek and a Canada Mug (which I use most mornings and I now know most of the words to Oh Canada) and a very precious skein of her own hand spun yarn! From the date on the original photo it has been in my stash since 2013 just waiting for the right pattern to come along.

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Well in the end I devised the right pattern. 

After casting on 5 stitches I repeated the following two rows. 

Row 1: Knit 1, Knit front & back, knit til last 3, knit 2 together, knit 1

Row 2: Knit til last 2 stitches. Knit front & back, knit 1. 

Then every now and again I would do a row of yarn over knit 2 together (while following the increase at one end, decrease at the other pattern). 

   

It still needs blocking to even out the 4 rows of yarn over-knit 2 together to end the shawl. But the kittens have stolen my craft room and so now I don’t know where to block anything. 

It’s also awkward given my blocking matts have become their scratching pads.  

 I really don’t want to put such a pretty shawl onto a cat scratching pad!!!

Firstly it was awesome to be gifted some hand spun yarn! It must have taken so long to spin and ply and wind. Seriously just the effort alone is awesome and a wonderful gift. 

Secondly as a novice spinner it was really interesting to see the imperfections, the quirks, and idiosyncrasies of yarn that has been hand spun. This isn’t to say that it wasn’t fantastic quality, because it was and is! But seeing hand spun up close is going to help my own spinning (once  a part is fixed on my wheel).    

 

So not only did I get a lovely gift which resulted in a fantastic finished object, but I got a lesson in working with hand spun yarn. 

Reason #7482929 knitters are brilliant people. 

THANK YOU KERI!!! You’re the best!!!! 

Led down a rabbithole

So I was listening to one of my favourite podcasts Talk the Talk and they mentioned Google Ngram which searches an incredibly large selection of books and then graphs how many times they were used over time.
Inevitably, given how many things are on my to-do list at the moment, I spent way too much time typing in random words from Harry Potter, Doctor Who, and other fandoms to see what came up. Muggle was used as early as the 1800s and TARDIS spiked in the 1820s.

Naturally this piqued my interest and I had to test out some knitting words.

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Knitting and embroidery are significantly more widely used than crochet.
Tunisian crochet and loom knitting turned up no results.
Finger knitting started to turn up in 1960 and machine knitting started in 1880 with a huge spike in usage around 1940.

Then I fell down the rabbit hole and started comparing needle types, sock construction, colour work, basically all the knitting specific words I could think of.

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At first glance it looks like toe up is more well used than cuff down. Then I dug a little deeper and looked at the books with references to Toe Up. I went through 3 pages and not one reference to knitting.
I don’t think this graph will be able to settle the toe up vs cuff down debate!

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That really sharp spike of DPN in 1960? “Diphosphopyridine nucleotide (DPN) : DPN, formerly known as coenzyme I,* contains one residue each of adenine and nicotinic acid amide, and two each of ribose and phosphoric acid.”
So again, nothing to do with knitting just pure coincidence. Maybe don’t talk about lending your DPNs to a scientist. They might just get very confused.

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Without DPN to skew the graph axis, it becomes clearer that circular needles entered the scene around 1860 and double pointed needles around 1940. I tried guessing what correlations there could be with words like circular knitting, knitting in the round, world war, and measles but none of them had a similar spike. I had a vague idea that I could just stumble on a spurious correlation but it wasn’t to be.

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Fair Isle has been around since the 1800s, but Intarsia appeared in 1850 and Entrelac slightly later in 1905. Or at least the word has been in usage since those times.

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And then just for fun I typed in three different spellings of polka-dots just to see which usage is most popular.

Turns out polkadots it is.
There you go! I still like polka-dots. It appeals to me aesthetically.

Graphs are fun!

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Media spotting!

I’ve been excited about this for some time and somehow managed to keep it a secret until it was released.
I’m featured on the latest episode of Hollis Jay’s podcast ‘Myriads of Thought‘!

Hollis is a supercool lady who talks about her life, geekery, and things that are generally interesting and awesome.

She also finds cool people who make cool things and interviews them (thats where I come in).

I must admit that I hadn’t listened to an episode before she contacted me, but I’ve listened to every episode since and quite a bit of the back catalogue.

Check my interview out from the 1:22 mark, or just listen to the whole thing. I am among some awesome company this week.

Seriously I am still chuffed that people like what I make enough to buy it let alone interview me about it! Thanks Hollis for having my words on your show. Its strange to hear something I wrote not in my voice and Australian accent.

Listen to it here or I’ve put a transcript below.

1. Introduce yourself.
Hi! I’m Bek. I live in Perth Australia in a 100 year old cottage where I’m lucky enough to have a crafty room all to myself where I can make as much mess as I want. I taught myself how to knit 3 years ago and that opened my eyes to the crafty underbelly of the internet. I met a whole heap of awesome knitters and multi-crafters and realised that making something I could touch and see is a really great feeling, particularly as my day job involves sitting at a computer.

2. Tell us about your shop.
I sell metal stamped cuffs and rings as well as hand made earrings and stitch markers. I have some pre-made cuffs but mostly people like to personalise and send me a phrase which means something to them. I also have a custom order option so if you like something that you’ve seen on my blog like embroidered cushions or a pair of earrings that I don’t have in my etsy shop, you can request them and we can work something out.

3. Can you go in the making of one of your pieces from beginning to end?
For a custom cuff the first thing I need is what’s going on it. I take that and write it on a piece of paper to get a feeling for the length and also as a reference for spelling. I’ll also google it, if it’s not a reference I’m familiar with because I’m curious like that.
From there I visualise how it will look, particularly if it’s over two lines or is front and back.
Depending on the size of the cuff requested, and the length of the phrase I pick out the right size stamp set. Then I tape the cuff to my anvil and figure out where to start. Then I hit each letter with a hammer. It’s quite noisy and deliciously satisfying. Once I’ve finished the stamping I use a sharpie to colour in the letters. I let that dry and then wipe off the excess with rubbing alcohol and give it a bit of a shine.
I then bend it using a bracelet bender which creates a nice shape. Then I resist the urge to keep it for myself!

4. Do you have a favorite piece in your shop? What is it, and why?
I have a soft spot for the cat earrings as they were my first ever sale.
I really love a ring that I made for myself that has mine and my partners anniversary date on the inside and a heart on the outside. That’s really special and even more so because I made it. I think that’s the wonderful thing about custom pieces. The personal touch makes them unique and meaningful. I’m also currently working on an embroidery with the firefly theme song. It’s going to be epicly awesome.

5. Is there a particular genre that inspires your pieces, and if so what is it and why?
Definitely pop-culture references! I keep a notebook with me at all times and anything that makes me cackle or think hmm this would be good on a bracelet goes straight into the notebook. This happens a lot whilst watching television or listening to music.
I also have a tumblr, thingstoembroideroncushions.tumblr.com which collects all sorts of random quotes and phrases from around the internet.

6. What scares you?
Birds. I am one of those people who ducks down in their car if a bird flies at them. Don’t ask me for custom bird earrings please!!

7. Who or what motivates you and/or inspires you to create?
Words are still a major part of how we communicate. There are so many writers out there who can say things much better than I ever could. I take the bits that mean something to me and transplant them into a different context such as a cushion, bracelet or a ring.
Once they’re out of context they can take on a new meaning and a new significance. Some of my favourite nights are me and my best friend getting home from a night out, watching Black Books and quoting it back and forth. Now that she lives further away, we do the same thing over twitter! I have forged friendships through a shared love of the same tv show. I know I’m not alone in this. I’m taking something that people already love and connect over and making it visible and wearable.

8. Are you more spontaneous within your work or more precise?
I should be more precise because as soon as I make a spelling mistake or mix up the direction of a stamp I have to start all over again. But I’m pretty disorganised and spend half the time picking up letters and trying to figure out what they are. I’m definitely spontaneous with earring making and stitch markers. I put everything out in front of me and just experiment.

9. Who are your favorite artists, writers, and musicians? What are your favorite books, films, television shows, etc?

There’s a website where you put in tv shows, how many seasons you watch and it calculates how long it would take to watch every episode. I got to 100+ days before I stopped and backed away slowly. Needless to say I love the medium of television and it’s detailed storytelling capability. I tend to reference Black Books, Coupling, 30 Rock, Doctor Who, Buffy, Angel, Community, Parks and Rec, Bobs Burgers, Firefly, and Arrested Development the most. I recently marathoned Leverage on Netflix which had so many ‘blink and you’ll miss them’ pop culture references. I like that in a television show.

Editors and Blood Red Shoes both released albums this year which I cannot stop listening to (or scribbling down lyrics in my notebook). I also love Cold War Kids, Silversun Pickups, Haim, Bombay Bicycle Club, Sugar Army, The Shins, Wolf & Cub, Phantogram and The Decemberists.
I once started to write the lyrics to Neutral Milk Hotels – In The Aeroplane Over The Sea on my bathroom wall, but only got about half way through.
Total Eclipse of the Heart is me and my best friend’s karaoke song (and so I made her a cushion with the lyrics on it).
If I’m having a bad day then the Once More With Feeling soundtrack never fails to brighten my day.

Growing up my parents could never get my nose out of a book. My current house has an epic, all the way to the ceiling, bookshelf which I will eventually fill!
I have a whole section of bookcase dedicated to Jane Austen and associated books (Jane Austen Book Club is one). When I moved out of home I took the whole Anne of Green Gables series with me which I still regularly re-read. I like Sophie Kinsella, Maggie Alderson, and Lauren Weisberger for instant girly gratification. I enjoy Philippa Gregory and in particular The Cousins War series. I’m a sucker for a narrative style where the same story is told from different perspectives.
I just finished the Duncan Lay series Empire of Bones which I really enjoyed. And I’m anxiously awaiting the third novel in the Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothsfuss.

I think Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are two of the funniest and awesomest people around. They’re the type of people that inspire me, as well as the everyday people that I’ve met through the internet that are doing all kinds of cool stuff.

10. Promote yourself. Shamelessly. :)…:)
You should visit my shop because I guarantee you’ll find something you like. Or if you don’t I’ll try and make it anyway. Who doesn’t like one of a kind-custom stuff!

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I am also still updating my song of the week playlist so check that out in you’re in need of some new tunes!

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a question for all my knitting followers

This popped up on my twitter timeline this morning, and I just had to share it.

The Craft Of Living – Third Wave Feminism before and after Elizabeth Zimmerman

It doesn’t take long as a knitting blogger before you hear the name Elizabeth Zimmerman.
But until this article I’d never been compelled to buy one of her books or seek out more information about her.

So my question is this.

Who else should I research? Who do you list as your knitting influences?
Who are your favourite knitters/designers/spinners/fibre artists?

FOLLOWTWEETRAV

Adventures in dyeing

I am counting the weekends down to when we move, but I am not putting my life on hold.
It is so frustrating to make things in a small space when you know there’s a craft room bigger than your lounge room just around the corner. But I can’t not make things.

So, inspired by Jesse, (aka oocha and wee pleasures) I dyed some yarn.

And it was so much fun.

I have researched dyeing methods before and wrote it off as something to do once I had more space and equipment. But the chalk legs tutorial that Jesse pointed to is by far the easiest. As I had purchased some Moda Vera Pure Wool in anticipation of dyeing at some point I was able to do everything with materials I already had.

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I didn’t follow the instructions very well the first time, and added ALL THE COLOUR at once. Which once I figured out my mistake I immediately took it out and then plunged the wool into cold water. And then I realised my second mistake, pure wool doesn’t appreciate sudden changes in temperature. Fortunately not too much damage was done. It felted slightly but it still ran through my ball winder ok.

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All of the dying was done using McCormick food colouring. It comes with a handy colour mixing chart on the back and so I mixed the right amount of drops together in a spoon and then plunged the spoon into the water (or dye bath as it is known!)

It’s all really basic and really a lot of fun. And if the colours all look really hideous together please don’t tell me. They all look rather fetching to my slightly colour-blind eyes.

I did try to be inspired by something, but I don’t think food colouring dye charts are sophisticated enough to capture the Adelaide Crows complex palette.

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And of course once it was dry I had to wind it straight away and start using it. Even if I have a billion things still on my needles.

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And yes I’m totally counting this as a new craft! That takes the total for this year up to 4!

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make your own report card

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Watching Television – A+
Falling asleep watching television and not knowing where I got up to the next day – A
Getting my Bloglovin unread items to zero every day – C
Dyeing my regrowth in a timely manner – D
Brushing my teeth every day – C
Taking my contacts out at night (when I wear them) – F
Thinking before I speak – C+
Being able to find a pen when I need one – F
Being able to find scissors when I need them – C
Checking my phone the second it does something – A
Unsubscribing from email lists I don’t care about – C-
Waking up on time on a work day – C
Waking up ridiculously early on the weekend – B+
Leaving half drunk cups of tea all over the house – A++
Complaining about half drunk cups of tea all over the house – A
Counting to 5 – A
Counting 5 repeats of a pattern – C
Counting in 5s when casting on 100 stitched – C-
Counting to 5 laps of a swimming pool – D-
Painting my nails and not touching them til they’re dry – B-
Complaining my feet are cold – A
Putting socks on to walk around on tiles – D
Snuggling up in a blanket – A++

FOLLOWTWEETRAV

If any one needed more proof that knitters are the most awesome people

I present exhibit A

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I received this little guy in the mail this week from the oh-so-wonderful Keri (who writes whendidibecomeaknitter)

As well as sending her something I was the third to comment on her post.

So I am now the proud owner of a knitted dalek, some Keri handspun!!!!, a Canada mug and Canada coin purse.

I have been dreaming about what to make from the handspun (which I confess I have fondled inappropriately).
Or I could just leave it on display to be fondled and admired.

Thank you Keri!!!!
xx

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Whatever Wednesday – write your own obituary

Every Wednesday/Thursday I’ll be blogging about the topic that comes through my email courtesy of Shay & Alissa. If you want to join in the fun, email Whateverwednesdays@yahoo.com to get a heads up on the topic for the week.

write your own obituary

This very nearly read “incarcerated at 28 after her upstairs neighbours woke her up at 4:30 and she violently intervened”.

But instead –

She passed away in her sleep at 86. She was well loved and was a regular at the local bowls club where she was known for being crap at bowls, but made damn good sausage rolls.
Her favourite place in the world, was the front porch where all the people most important to her would gather, giggle at knitted penises, drink too much gin, and play card games each with their own rules that the others didn’t know.

A crazy cat lady who knitted cats, but is most quoted as saying “get off my lawn!”

She is survived by a crochety old man who is going a bit deaf, is actually good at bowls but will soon die of a broken heart (too harsh?), and her best friend who has the biggest collection of knitted mustaches known to man. And they’re still cool.

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WW

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Whatever Wednesday – TV!

Every Wednesday/Thursday I’ll be blogging about the topic that comes through my email courtesy of Shay & Alissa. If you want to join in the fun, email Whateverwednesdays@yahoo.com to get a heads up on the topic for the week.

top 5 favourite tv shows

There were strict instructions for this one. Which sucks because usually I take a left turn when approaching these topics. Specifically we were told “… that doesn’t mean your top 3, or your top 7, or I don’t watch TV because I’m too cool and do things like art projects, I MEAN YOUR TOP 5 FAVOURITE SHOWS”

Yup message received agonisingly loud and clear.

1) Doctor Who
Surprise surprise.
I first started watching the 4th Doctor and Romana II. And then came the reboot and Eccleston and fantastic. And then David Tennant (swoon) and then tumblr and fangirling and squeeeee!!!!
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2) Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Considering I had never watched this until 2 years ago, I am completely hooked and could probably get more of the lyrics from Once More With Feeling correct if I was forced to sing for my supper.
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3) Black Books
I will get messages from my brother at 2 am quoting black books.
I have also spent a night, with my bestfriend on the recliner, me and my boyfriend on the couch and him getting black books quotes not just from the tv, but from both of us, with bonus cackling.
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4) Parks and Recreation
I have a bracelet which says awesomesauce, so that probably qualifies Parks and Rec to be on this list.
Both April & Andy, and Ben & Leslie tie for cutest couple on television.
Actually this show is just bad ass. All the relationships in the show have
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5) Pride & Prejudice the 1994 tv series
This was the first tv show that I ever fangirled over. Wet white shirt Colin Firth.
Mum & I would stock pile the ironing to watch this together. Oddly enough Dad and my two brothers would find something else to do.
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And unfortunately this was the biggest gif of wet shirt darcy I could find.
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Honourable mentions:
Firefly, Coupling, Downton Abbey, How I Met Your Mother (although just finish already!), Fawlty Towers, Black Adder, Mad Men, 30 Rock…. and i’m going to stop now before I agonise over this post any more.

Here have a video of the doctor who credits in the style of the Buffy credits.

WW

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