What to knit when emigrating to Australia?

20 January 2014

Australia, ho!
So tomorrow (Tuesday, January 21st 2014) I am emigrating to Australia. Hence symbolic stuffed kangaroo with joey in pouch plus 8mm knitting needle.

But back to the point; I'm emigrating. Sounds terribly 19th-century, like I'm packing up the Highland croft, bundling together my worldly possessions in a woolen blanket before getting on a boat for four months and landing on the other side of the planet.

Change "Highland croft" to "flat in Hackney that housed an embarrassment of stuff" and "four months on a boat" to "three seven-hour flights" and it's pretty much an identical experience. Really.

This is happening for all the usual and rational reasons that seem to gain currency once one has progeny. More space, more sunshine, good education, better lifestyle choices (what on earth is a "lifestyle choice"?!) and the chance that said progeny will do exceptionally well in any sport other than darts.

The brain is totally on board with all of this. Of course. Which brain wouldn't be? Shame the heart hasn't got the memo yet.

But enough of the self-indulgent doubt. Let's focus on the important stuff... what will I be making enroute and when we first arrive amidst the chaos of finding a house, a job, a car and a new life?

I am prepared with bamboo hooks and needles. Less chance of getting stopped by security as a potential garroter of pilots with metal circular needles. But what of the yarn?

As we're leaving a Northern Hemisphere winter (albeit a soggy and mild one) to a Southern Hemisphere summer (did you see the frighteningly hot 40+ degree in Melbourne last week?) methinks the 16 balls of Rowan Cocoon - a lovely merino and mohair mix in a chunky yarn -  intended for a crocheted blanket by Erika Knight, might be a bit much.

Actually, I feel a bit hot and bothered just thinking about it. Good thing I've got some Noro Aya, a combo of cotton, silk and a touch of wool with which I'll make a cardigan for the cherub. Those air conditioned rooms can get a bit chilly.

Scruffy looking balls of Noro Aya.
I've already launched with that one, using a pattern called Tiny Tea Leaves Cardi. The difficulty is the silk and cotton in the Aya means there's very little give with this yarn so it can be a bit of a wrestle at times. It also has an odd tendency to go all twisty (see picture).

Twisty wierdness with the Noro Aya. Any thoughts on why?
The colours are stunning though and I do like the slightly rough texture it produces when knitted up. I'll report back once it's complete. So far the cherub is yet to give her blessing but hopefully I'll win her over when it's finished.

We have lift off with the Tiny Tea Leaves Cardi.
 Should the touch of wool in the Aya prove too sticky and bleh on the hottest and most humid of days - stopover in Singapore, I'm looking at you - I've got some balls of Rowan Handknit cotton.

Squishy, squashy balls of Rowan Handknit.

Because I need more bunting in my life. And I don't want your bog standard triangular variety, oh no. I want curious crocheted floral astral bunting like wot I saw in Simply Crochet Issue 13.

Curious thingamymawatnot style bunting in Simply Crochet last month.

Only once hung decorously over furniture wot we do not own yet, will the new Antipodean gaff - once we've found a gaff - start becoming home. Hopefully.

(Images: Zoë F. Willis)

The Curse of the Bandana Cowl

12 January 2014

The Purl Bee's Bandana Cowl in a Malabrigo Worsted. Oooh. Pretty Colours.

I'd been admiring Purl Bee's Bandana Cowl for a good long while.

I thought this would be a decent project to try my yarn acquisitions from the Knitting and Stitching Show; the Malabrigo Worsted and the Garnstudio DROPS Big Delight

Garnstudio's DROPS Big Delight sitting and minding its own business before undergoing some traumatic knitting attempts.

The Bandana Cowl is one of those patterns that's the basis of 5,600 projects on Ravelry and is sitting, waiting to be made flesh in 7,500 queues. Comments abound that suggest this is a pretty whizzy project, a decent one for a middle-ranking knitter. Stuff like "I whipped this up in an evening whilst also cooking a 10-course meal that included an assortment of amuse-bouches". Thus a mere mortal such as my goodself should probably manage the cowl within a week. Surely?

Malabrigo Worsted. So bouncy and a delight to work with.

I had plans to give a varigated lilac number as birthday present for the end of October. Thus I launched in mid October. Ballsed it up. Launched again a week later. Crashed and Burned. Frogged. Launched again. Argh! 

Ta daaaa! Lilacky, DROPS cowl. Looking pretty good considering the 10 attempts.

10 times, people. 10 TIMES before I got this right. DPNs, magic loop, circular needles then I cast on correctly before was thwarted, thwarted by the short rows. There may have been dark utterances of an earthy vernacular that turned the air blue. This was supposed to be a simple thing, which I was not managing, but by golly, I would not be beaten.

If there is one thing that knitting is teaching me it's patience and a need for precision. If it's not right, pull it apart and start again. Don't try and wing it. This isn't a PhD thesis for crying out loud. Someone will immediately notice the mistake in a knitted project. They'll probably miss the incorrect footnote in Medieval Croatian.

See? It's even a lovely bit of knittery from behind. Ooooh.
And so I tried again. The 10th time proved the charm and I finished off the cowl in 4 nights. So the birthday gift became a Christmas present instead. Since December 23rd I've finished another 3, two more in the DROPS Big Delight and one in the Malabrigo. I've half a ball left of the Big Delight so might make a spare one for future gifting purposes... and may even attempt to cook a 10-course meal with amuse-bouches at the same time.


(Images: Zoë F. Willis)