Monday, March 31, 2008

A challenge for Northern Hemisphere Readers

G'day all!

This is something I've been thinking about for a while.

This pic from Crazy Aunt Purl reminded me of it.

I live in a car-centric place. Mebbe only Los Angeles is more car-centric than the San Francisco Bay area. Even with the Caltrain and the BART and the MUNI and all the various systems that run around the place, including the light rail that we catch quite a lot (particularly DH since it is a five minute walk to his work from the station).

We don't have a car. We only hire a car when we want to go travelling to look around this place or when we need to go pick something up that is much too big for the bike (eg when we brought home the six foot tall shelving).

You might be surprised by how much stuff I have brought home on my bike, both with and without the bike trailer.

Recently I brought home the new vacuum cleaner in the bike trailer:

(That is a picture of the Great White Hunter with her prey. The GWH must remember not to stick her chest out so much lest she look like her much better endowed aunt or eldest niece...)

Plus I bring home things from the plant nursery and the local supermarkets and the farmer's market. I do all the shopping with the bike, I ride or walk or take the train to pretty much anything I do unless a kind friend gives me a lift.

Here's my challenge to those of you out in the blogisphere who live in the northern hemisphere.

The 2008 Bike Challenge

Dump your car for summer. A soon as it isn't snowing and icy but is greening up and lush, put your car in the garage and try to walk, ride your bike or take public transport to your destination as often as you can. (It isn't always possible I know. Heck we hire cars on an as needs basis.)

For every mile you walk, ride or take PT, put aside the fuel money. If you want to be really adventurous, put aside the running costs. Gas (better known as petrol to us Aussies cos gas really is gas) costs somewhere around $3.60 a gallon where I live in the Bay area. Back 'ome in Oz, it recently hit $1.50 per litre (that is around $5.50 a gallon!). (I am not game to see what the prices of petrol are in the UK and Europe.)

If you have a pretty fuel efficient car, such as this Clio on a UK website then you will have to walk or ride a lot to get much in your piggy bank. But if your vehicle gets 12mpg, that is not so much walking or riding! Put the cash in a piggy bank or keep a running total.

At the end of each month or at the end of summer, bust open your piggy bank and find out how much money is in there, and treat yourself to something really nice!

(Interestingly, most of the websites with running costs for cars are in Oz and the UK from what I can find. Obviously the US does not call the cost of owning a car the running costs. Nope, it is total cost of ownership in the US. Edmunds has a guide for US folks interested in finding out how much their car costs. This bike-oriented website also has a calculator, and there is some info for Canadians here.)

Why take up the challenge?

It is good for you :-)

It is good for the environment :-)

I know this will not be for everyone but depending on where you live and how many kids you have to tow around to basketball, ballet and ballgames and how far you live from your workplace, etc , you might just find that driving a car everywhere is not the timesaver you thought it was. On the other hand, maybe the bike paths in your area are a little narrow. Maybe there are no bike paths or sidewalks/footpaths or any public transport. But if there are paths and PT, consider taking it. And remember to reward yourself!

If you want some inspiration, here's a few pages.

Copenhagenize - fabulous cycling blog based in Denmark. People in Copenhagen ride their bikes all year round, even though Denmark is subject to ice and snow in winter. 32% of Copenhageners ride their bikes to work.
Carfree links
Walkable cities (two links)
Wikipedia on Bike culture
Maybe your community is part of Active living.

Interested? Reckon you are willing to pick up the challenge? Leave me a comment or email me (contact details at the top right of the blog) and if there is enough interest, I'll create a new blog for all the participants to share their bike/walk.ride challenge thoughts.


We have a winnah!

G'day all!

Thanks for all your entries into my different socks contest! I am working my way around your blogs, if you have one...

So what are the differences between the socks?

Let's start at the toes, since I knitted them toe up.

The tip of one sock is stocking stitch (stockinette) and then becomes garter stitch (someone is lazy! :-D). The other toe is reverse stocking stitch (someone forgot to read the pattern and didn't want to cast on again). Lots of people noticed this one. Because garter stitch pulls in more than stocking stitch, one toe looks shorter than the other. Paper Tiger noted this (no link to a website for Paper Tiger though).

I didn't read the pattern again so one sock has six repeats of the twisted stitch/cable (correct!) and the other has five repeats (wrong!). Some of you with good eyes noticed this!

The little gusset I like to put into all my short row heels has five increase rounds on one sock and only three on the other (oops!).

The heel of one sock is garter, the other is "normal" (but wrong according to the pattern!). Lots of you saw this :-)

The set up for the twists up the leg is different (ie someone didn't read the pattern and setting up only five cables up the foot meant the cables above the heel were inelegant), plus I ribbed a bit longer before starting the twists (more good eyes spotted this!).

The number of cables up the leg is different. Yep, one more. I only realised this when I tried the socks on and one was noticeably harder to get on. LOL

Am I going to rip the socks out and redo them? Do fish ride bicycles? Heck no! They can stay imperfect. I'll keep wearing them quite happily :-) As long as I can get the image of this out of my mind...

So who is the winner?

Kelly of Celtic Cast On! Yes, Kelly like a few of my North American adopted brethren still seems to be caught in snowland, though surely spring can't be far off?

BTW, in reference to the subject line? Aussies do not say the rotic "R" - we do not say summerr, we say summah (long a sound). It is a bit hard to describe without hearing it (and without phonetic type but then again i don't understand phonetic type anyway). As for things like water, well that gets exciting. When I ask for some wardah (no r actually sounded), or if I am being more precise, wartaa, some Americans get confused. I get confused too cos some Americans say water in such a way that it sounds like some weird exotic fruit or something. LOL This website is fabulous and if you like hearing different people say the same stuff in their own accent, you'll spend many happy hours there.

Since it is not raining today and indeed is very sunny and lovely, I can get some pics of some new FOs! Back...


Friday, March 28, 2008


G'day all!

Thanks for the entries so far in my contest. I am seeing certain themes. Remember you can click on the pics for bigger ones!

On and off I've been spinning up a storm. I haven't spun anything this week due to my New Obsession. My bad! Worse, my New Obsession doesn't have pics cos horrors of horrors, it is actually RAINING in San Jose! (That pic is from the Lick Observatory, not quite in SJ but close enough!) But don't I live in California now? It doesn't rain in Ca, or so I am told. People apologise if the day is cloudy. People here are very odd. What are a few clouds between friends? (Apparently it can rain all the way through the year if these records are correct, though the ones for this year are certainly incorrect cos I am sure we had about 3" of rain in both Jan and Feb and a little this month...)

So I've been spinning. I've spun up about 350m of this yummy

CVM fleece to make into a special thing for someone I know. I take locks and flick them out then do a weird cross between long and short draw. I've been spinning it so that the white moves into the silver thence to grey and charcoal then navajo plying it to keep the "colour" runs.

It is knitting up like clouds (I didn't always take the puffs in the order I should've). I think it looks fab. Again, no pics cos it is a secret project.

Plus I grabbed some of the Lisa Souza tops I bought at Stitches West and spun that up.

I call this Sunny Seas because it looks like a very cheerful tropical ocean.

One thing I've noticed with handspun yarn is that it doesn't have to be perfectly consistent - it doesn't have to look like machine spun yarn for it to knit up very acceptably. That is a good thing because I am too lazy to spin up yarn that is perfect. I do try to keep it within a reasonable limit mind you. I tend to spin yarn to a DK weight (in Oz we call it 8 ply) but it varies between sportweight (5 ply) to worsted (almost aran/10ply). It sometimes has little puffs in it from fluffy fleece tips or the odd nep that gets away from me. When I can be bothered, I spin laceweight or sockweight but that requires a little more brain input to ensure I spin the lighter weight.

In other news, did anyone see this post from Sheri at the Loopy Ewe? OMG, the sock yarn stash is gobsmacking! Scary even! Can anyone top that? Tell me how many skeins of sock yarn are in your stash! I shall do an expose of my USA stash soonish (I have even more sock yarn in storage in Oz - there was only so much I could bring with me!).

Plus I love this post from Domesticraft.

I am putting together a bike challenge. Twil be interesting to see if anyone takes up the challenge and what effects it has on them...


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

One year and a contest

G'day all!

One year ago, DH and I flew to the US. We landed in LA before we left home - ah the wonders of the date line (of course on the way back we lose a whole day!). (maybe I should've posted this yesterday to match up with the time we left Melbourne, not the time in the USA.... argh, time travel is such a pita!) We flew across to Denver and were collected by Nathan's possible new boss and driven to Fort Collins. Three days later, utterly charmed (particularly cos it snowed on us - our home doesn't get snow), we flew back home and prepared to move from our home to the USA. It was another three months before we moved but that is another story!

In celebration of the last whacky year, with all the trials and tribulations and kindnesses and sadnesses and above all change, I declare a contest! And some new socks! Some socks that have some differences between them!

Here are my Solstice Slip socks in Firebird from last year's STR club. They are an unpair. I finished them just in time for equinox. Hmm. Timing!

There are a number of differences between them.

I admit that three differences were unintended and due to me not reading the pattern correctly and instead doing my own thang. The other differences are just me being me.

(Can you believe I just spent half an hour cussing at the computer trying to get the pics online and had to get Nathan to help me, only to find that I had put a zero rather than an o in the fo of finished object? And then when I thought it was all sorted, I had another 15 minutes of cussing cos two of the small pics looked the same even though they have different names and are different pics on the server. I am a doofus!)

Post three differences in the comments and you will go into the draw to win

(that is some Piece of Vermont colonial wool blend sock yarn in Jam, a colourway that is much more subtle than my camera can show but is deep blues and purples and plums,

and some limited edition Rockin Sock Club STR 100% merino superwash in flower power,

plus a set of stitchmarkers)


Here's some hints - the toes, the heels, the pattern... but you have to say what is different, not just the toes, the heels and the pattern.

Competition closes 6pm PDT Sunday March 30 (or about midday on the 31st for Aussies). Oh and if you are a spinner let me know cos I'll throw a little extra in.

PS. The winner of my last contest never got announced due to stupidity on my part and a whole lotta travel and the yarn in question being packed up for moving. The winner of the handspun skein of Shetland wool is:

CraftyScience! Yes, Darrow come on down!


Monday, March 24, 2008

I have a confession

G'day all!

My confession is I have a new obsession!

It is EVIL! It ATE my whole day!

You will see pictures soon - I want it to be finished enough that it is recognisably something.

In other news, I finished a sock. A pretty sock. A sock that I don't have pics of. I am going to write up the pattern and see if I can knit the second sock to the same pattern! Me! A sock that is the same? If it works out, I'll post it and people can beta-test it as they choose. Only problem is that you will have to buy Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters cos I am not going to reproduce all details of the gusset increases and heel. Or you can use your favourite heel (including a short row heel - mebbe I'll put a short row version into the pattern).

Here's some socks I finished ages ago. Last time we saw these socks they looked like this. I even wove in the ends before taking photos.

Not that you can tell. (Another confession - I have a number of socks that have trailing ends. My bad!)

I call them my Lion's Mane socks. They are knitted in a Fleece Artist sock yarn (Sonoma? Something that has a little mohair in it anyway). I don't know what the colourway was but it had Too Much Yellow in it, so I cut most of it out and spliced the yarn together, yes indeed you better believe it! I ended up having a saucer with some water in it so I didn't have to spit on the yarn any longer. And my hands hurt from all the rubbing! Then I got bored with splicing the yarn every metre or three - hence the cuffs!

They are actually surprisingly comfortable to wear. The base pattern is another Cat Bordhi new pathways - the Coriolis sock. Yep, the stripe goes all the way through the cuff! Yes, I am mad. I've made a number of these and I have to say that if you have at all high arches or fat feet, you will struggle to get the socks over your heels. Even I have to tug a bit and I have the world's flattest feet.

They have the World's Cutest Cast-off too. I think I may be using this cast off a little too often but I like it and why not? It is not harming anyone.

I am going to have a contest shortly. You will have to do something after looking at a couple of pictures. It is time for a contest cos it is almost a year since we flew to Fort Collins the first time, almost a year since DH accepted the job with HP. Indeed the corresponding Monday last year we were in Fort Collins and gasping our way around. Gosh what a ride it has been!


Friday, March 21, 2008

Another FO!

G'day all!

In my last FO post, the keen-eyed amongst you may have noticed a purple top underneath the asymmetric jacket.

Ta-dum! (Doncha love the glow in the sun skin?)

Yarn: Noro Cash Iroha, colourway ?13?. It is very purple. It also lived up to the Noro standards, with bits of random plastic, straw and unidentifiable spiky things in it.
Pattern: Waist-cincher top from "Knitting Lingerie Style" by Joan McGowan-Michael.
Mods: I made the front a LOT higher and it is still a little low for my comfort. If I had left the front shaping as it was in the pattern, it would've been scraping my nipples (even if I wasn't wearing a bra!).

More pics. The back is scrunched up cos I didn't realise I hadn't pulled it down and my, ahem, "stylist" didn't know that tops should be neat and pulled down to the right place. Hmm, and that bra looks pretty icko too.

(no bigger pic to click on)

I now have to wash it a couple of times to see if the yarn softens more or see if I can find any more extraneous bits in the yarn - there's a couple of spots that irritate my stupidly irritable skin.

Hmm, I have the impression that I have at least two or three more pairs of socks (two knitted during January's sock fest) to show off. Admittedly one pair only got finished last week when I tied the ends in... and there are the Solstice Slip (phallic) socks that I finished last week. I do seem to be getting a bit of knitting done, more than I did in Fort Collins but it was so nice being out and about in FC and it is less nice here - I guess that is what cars do for a neighbourhood.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A tute! Turkish cast on

G'day all!

Updated 22 March 2013.

Last year I was asked to show my LYS in Fort Collins how I cast on socks. They thought it was fab. Heh. Made me feel good!

So I wrote up a tute on how to do it and showed some folks. I thought it would be good to share with you too!

Let me know if there are any probs with it. Scuse the odd fuzzy photo!

Toe up socks - the cast on

This cast on is great for anything knitted from the toe up, top of head down or fingertip down. You just vary the number of stitches you start off with. You won't have twisted stitches (if you are a western knitter - continental and combined types might have to play around a little! And lefties, ah lefties - I am a lefty but I knit right handed - see if the mirror image works for you!).

You will need loooong circular needles - at least 47"/120cm. Metre long circs are a little harder to wrangle especially if you end up with two socks on them and 1.5m circs can be very loopy indeed. I knit socks using the magic loop method. If you feel safer on two circs or on DPNs, start off with circs for the first two or three rounds then transfer to your favourite method. You need circs to start off with cos the cables give you a little extra room as they have a smaller diameter than the needles.

1. We start off with a slip knot

2. Put the slip knot onto one of the tips of the circular needles:

3. Put the needles side by side and wrap the working yarn around the needles anti-clockwise (if you look at the needles from the pointy end, the yarn is wrapped counter-clockwise or widdershins). Note - this instruction only works for western/English throwers, not pickers.

4. Wind on as many stitches as you need divided by two. I tend to use between 8-10 windings, which gives 16-20 stitches all up. The tip of the toe tends to be around 2-3cm (about an inch) wide. If you want a wider toe tip, wind on more stitches.

5. Pull the bottom needle through the wound on stitches. Pinching the stitches to stop them falling off is very helpful!

6. Bring the bottom needle around in a loop so that you can start to knit.

7. Bring the yarn around the needles and start to knit the loops/stitches as you usually would.

As you knit it might look messy but never fear, it usually looks quite tidy once you have knitted all the first round. If necessary you can pull the stitches tighter after you have cast on the toe and knitted a few rounds.

8. The first row is done.

Now you need to knit the second row to complete the round.

9. Pull the needle through that you just finished knitting onto so that the new stitches sit on the cable.

10. Turn the work over so the bottom needle is now the top needle.

11. Pull the new top needle back so that the stitch loops are ready to knit. The slip knot is the first stitch on the needle. Pull the bottom needle through so that you can loop it around ready to knit.

(Sorry, blurry!)

12. Drop the slip knot off and put it behind the working yarn so that it is caught.

13. Bring the second needle around and up to start knitting the loops. Knit away!

Hooray! You have finished the first round! Plus you've just knitted using Magic Loop!

14. Use your favourite increase to start making the toe of the sock. At the start of the round, knit one, increase one, knit to the second last stitch, increase between it and the last stitch, knit one on the new needle, increase one, knit to the second last stitch and increase between it and the last stitch.

I tend to use kf&b - knit front and back for my socks. It leaves a little bar for the increased stitch but it is easier to do if you want to increase on every row for a very broad toe. Lifted increases, make ones, etc are hard to do for every row, and can be tricky on the first couple of rounds of sock toe.

Edited to add (March 2013) I now usually use a lifted increase after doing 1.5 rounds, when there are three "rows" of knitting on the needles.

At this point if you feel more comfortable, you can use DPNs, or two circs or continue using Magic Loop. Increase every second round until you have the number of stitches you require (which is the same as for a top down sock). I usually use 64 stitches for a woman's foot, 72 for a man's.

Notes on toe increases:

If you wish to have a broad, flat toe on the sock, either use more windings at the start or increase in every row for the first six or so rounds. If you increase in every row, I recommend the yarn over, knit into the back loop type increase as the others get very tight and confusing to knit.

If you want to have a star type toe, wind on about three or four loops and then after the first round start increasing increase into every second stitch, then every third stitch, fourth stitch, etc every two-three rounds until you reach the number of stitches you want. This also works for fingertips and tops of hats.

You can increase at any place along the stitches - two stitches in, four stitches in, your choice! Turkish socks (traditionally knitted toe up) have a central band of stitches with increases moving away from them.

Play around with the increases. Maybe you want a very long toe - increase every third or fourth round instead after the initial six or so increases.


A Finished Object!

G'day all!

Hooray for me! I have made Stuff! I have used Stash!

First up, let's show off the Blanket, aka the Jedi Jacket.

This was a very simple knit - all garter stitch with increases or decreases done at one or two edges. It is asymmetric. I used a pattern from Patons Oz - details somewhere down the page, feeling lazy no link. The book is discontinued.

(*puts on cowboy boots, a western drawl and swagger*) This blanket ain't big enough fer the two erv us!

The yarn is a recycled wool/cashmere jumper bought at a thrift shop in Fort Collins. The jumper was a *very* odd shape - the arms were longer than mine and the body narrower, like it was made for someone who had been on the rack. All the ribbed bits were darker wool - now they are stripes.

So you get some random views:

It even acts as a head shawl:

I have plans to overdye the jacket eventually. If it works, it will be Very Cool Indeed.

It is a very versatile piece - I can wear it upside down!

And if it is cold and I am wearing it upside down, it wraps right around my face! Pity about my belly though...

Alas, the op shops around here are pretty average so my sweater recycling program may not be so good any longer. The thrift places here tend to have LOTS of ACK-rylic jumpers and not much in the way of wool, let alone cashmere. Fort Collins must be an upmarket place...

In other news, it seems Arthur C Clarke has died, aged 90. What an innings! Wikipedia reports his death date as 19 March 2008. We are so far behind the times here that it is still 18 March - he always was in the future and even managed to die then!

Want to save a shrunken jumper? I don't have any that I want to sacrifice to test this apparent fix. Heh. Wikihow has some weird stuff on it, like making a simple hot water heater under the sustainable living category. I like the first instruction - buy a bottle of lemonade and empty it. I hope one empties it by drinking it first... otherwise it is less sustainable!

Anyone watch stuff on

A book on knitting techniques on google. I had it open at a decrease page but lord knows what you will find.

I reckon that is enough for one post. Back soon with another FO and something I didn't blog back in January. My bad!


Monday, March 17, 2008

Am I the only one...

G'day all!

Am I the only one who is knits along a lace pattern that you know off by heart cos you've done it enough to remember it, and then you look and realise that suddenly you decided to make up a new pattern?

Here's an example. The pattern says k2, sl1-k2tog-psso, k2, yo, ssk, yo, k1, yo, k2tog.

So why do I find myself doing this: k2, sl1, k2tog, yo, k2, yo....

It does rather ruin the pattern, and it is not as if I've done it once. Nope, about every three or four rows I find I am putting in a rogue yo and not doing a double decrease. Then on the next row I just look at it and wonder why oh why am I being a doofus?

When it works out, it looks pretty good:

Plus I've been holding out on you! Not only have I been rather busy trying to catch up on blogs and doing stuff at home and trying to keep DH going, but I've finished two largeish items in the last two weeks and I have not shared them! Then there's the one that I won't share until I've done the second one and the recipients have received them.

Worse, I have to do blog posts for each of them yet but I haven't fixed up the photos. DH did a photoshoot with me yesterday and I look rather radiant. Very radiant. I'm fair-skinned and in the sun I GLOW. LOL Most unCalifornian!

Here's a blogthing for you. I think I've done this one before but eh it is so long ago that I'll share with any new readers. I got it from Knitting Natty.

You Are An INFP

The Idealist

You are creative with a great imagination, living in your own inner world.

Open minded and accepting, you strive for harmony in your important relationships.

It takes a long time for people to get to know you. You are hesitant to let people get close.

But once you care for someone, you do everything you can to help them grow and develop.

In love, you tend to have high (and often unrealistic) standards.

You are very sensitive. You tend to have intense feelings.

At work, you need to do something that expresses your personal values.

You would make an excellent writer, psychologist, or artist.

How you see yourself: Unselfish, empathetic, and spiritual

When other people don't get you, they see you as: Unrealistic, naive, and weak

Gosh, don't I sound like a total tosser? I am not sure that I see myself as unselfish, empathetic and spiritual. Get me looking at etsy and suddenly I am greedy and want it all for myself!