Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Socks! Yarn! & a Question about Darning

After much ado (including running out of yarn & having to order a second skein from the States), Lovely Husband's socks are finished:

Yarn: Zitron Trekking XXL color #182 (approx. 500 yds)
Needles: 2.5 mm
Pattern: Oxo Ripple Cable pattern (19 st. repeat, 76 sts.)

He is thrilled with them, and so am I.

And, of course, when I had to purchase a second skein, I figured I might as well order some yarn for myself, so I got this Berocco Ultra Alpaca in pea-soup mix for Norah Gaughan's Brea Bag. I just adore her patterns, and this will be the first one I make.

& this Ultra Alpaca Light in peat mix for this Sofia Shrug.

Now that I am knitting socks, I want to know how to darn socks. Can anyone recommend a good source for teaching this? I love the idea of darning socks, of having a sock that lasts and lasts and lasts.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Postcard from Tasmania #3

Hobart, from the wharf

Hobart at night, near Arthur Circus

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Postcard from Tasmania #2

The Isle of the Dead at Port Arthur, the nineteenth-century penal colony. Imagine being buried there, at the end of the world, cloud-cloaked & forgotten.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Postcard from Tasmania #1

This is a pademelon (say PADdymelon). It's like a cat-sized wallaby, and the place is lousy with them. Instead of squirrels, pademelons bounce around the yard at dusk. Darling!

Monday, June 25, 2007


Okay, it might seem like I've been idle, as it has been forever since my last posting, but it's only because I've been knitting gifts galore and can't post the images online. But here is a photo of my first, self-designed project: a sock for my husband--

Actually, the cable pattern is taken from Maria Parry-Jones' Knitting Stitch Bible--the Oxo Ripple Cable. Here's a close-up:

--but I designed the sock myself. The yarn is Zitron's Trekking XXL color #182, which I love. It changes color as the day does, and is a very soft yarn.

I love knitting socks, making a three-dimensional object out of a string. But I wish it would go faster! Lovely Husband has a cold, and outside is all bluster and winter show. He needs those socks now!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

sewing 101

My first sewing project on the new machine! I love it! The pattern is from The Crafter's Companion, and it was an excellent first project, as I didn't need to worry so much about straight lines and could instead get the feel of the machine. I love the sound it makes, especially the whir before the sewing begins, like the spinning legs of Road Runner as he gets ready to run in those old cartoons. It's such a cheery purse, so springlike, and here it's late fall!

It's 4:30, and the sun is behind the hill already. But I bought these lovely chrysanthemums from the florist on Saturday, and just look how sunny they seem. I love giving the heads a little squeeze. When I finally have a garden of my own, I shall plant only the puffiest flowers--mums, hydrangeas, peonies--so that the garden is always plump and soft and reminescent of clouds of moths (that's what hydrangeas seem to me: clouds of moths).

Have a lovely day!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

my friend pfaff

Introducing my new obsession: Pfaff 213. I purchased it recently on Trade Me and yesterday got it set up in my office. I haven't really used a sewing machine since high school home ec class. Mainly I've sewn by hand, which I do enjoy. I even handsewed a quilt once, but it took me years, literally. But now I have Pfaff, and oh, the places we'll go!

On the needles I'm working on my first sock--the cabled sock from Handknit Holidays--but it's a gift, and I can't risk posting a picture and ruining the surprise. Let me just say that I am addicted to socks! I love it. At first, not having a person to turn to who could explain turning heels, &c., I was a bit intimidated, but the internet is so useful (especially this link ) so now I've decided to knit socks for everyone I know.

Finally, this week I met my secret skein pals for the No Sheep Skein Swap. They're both so lovely! It's a thrill to hear from other knitters, and I can't wait to exchange skeins.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

the adventures of fibermongrel

After naming this blog "fibermongrel" I began to wonder what a fibermongrel was. Who are her parents? Where does she live? And then shibori felting showed me the way. Thus was Fibermongrel born, and now she frolics in the forest around me.

Today, Fibermongrel came across these eggs in the forest. What will spring from these shells?

Monday, April 30, 2007

project withdrawal

Do you hate it when you finish a big project? I do. Whether it is finishing a long novel or binding off a sweater or coming to the end of a semester, I feel restless until I manage to find a new project that can occupy my mind and/or my hands. At present I only have one project on the needles - this lacy scarf for my mother-in-law. I like how it's turning out, but I find it exhausting. Every other row of lace is a little different, and I have to concentrate to prevent mistakes. It's not the kind of project I can relax with.

I'd really like a large project right now, especially as it is autumn here, and the leaves are falling, and it will soon be winter and time for hibernating, but I'm having trouble deciding. My main problem is my local yarn store. Now, living in New Zealand, home of the sheep, one would think lovely yarns would not be hard to find. But that's not so. My LYS carries Rowan (horrendously overpriced here, but at least one can find yarns that have disappeared from the shelves elsewhere, like Cork) and Jo Sharp and Paton's, but that's basically it. Otherwise it is bin after bin of squeaky acrylic or, if I'm feeling "funky", feather yarn. No handpainted sock yarns, no bins of linen or bamboo or even silk. And while the rest of the world is going through a knitting revival, here I always seem to be the youngest person in the store by decades and the only one not wearing an intarsiaed poodle. Sigh. I drool over yarns on the internet--Koigu, Artyarn, Handmaiden silk--and sometimes I indulge myself and buy the yarn for a project, like the Kollage Cornucopia, but the shipping is outrageous. Still, Ashford, home of the spinning wheel and an hour away, makes a lovely wool, so that's a small comfort.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Finally: The Lorelei!

After much ado, my Lorelei is now complete, and I'm pretty happy with it. This is my second "sweater", or at least full article of clothing, to knit, and while I had a little trouble with it (see previous post), the directions were remarkably clear. Thanks, Shobhana!

I substituted yarn for this project. At Christmas my mother gave me a ball of Feza Alp, color #019, and I wanted to find a project in which to use it, so I chose Lorelei. And then, because the Alp is a "novelty yarn", I wanted to pair it with another novelty, so I chose Kollage's Cornucopia in wine (5 skeins). Cornucopia is a funny yarn to knit with. When I washed it, the colors didn't run, and there was no fading, but when I was knitting, the yarn turned my needle tips and stitch counter pink, and when I was crocheting with it, my fingernail turned pink. Weird. But I do like the yarn. It's stretchy, but not too stretchy, and quite light and airy to wear, perfect for hot weather. Also, I like the stitch definition. I don't think the Cornucopia looks quite as elegant as the silk, of course, but I think a tank top is a good project for such a yarn.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Some thoughts on the dreaded dropped stitch

Last night, I was in the process of finishing my Lorelei tank from Lisa Shobhana Mason’s Yarnplay, had only the front to finish, when what should happen but I should notice a bit in the armpit has unravelled. Stitches I had thought were bound off had suddenly come undone, and all those loops were now open and loose, gaping like the mouth in Munch’s Scream. Every attempt I made to finish it simply unravelled it more, until I realised (gulp!) that the only solution was to unravel it all back to a point where I could regather the stitches and begin again.

You can imagine the carnage: yards of kinked yarn all over the living room floor, the cats eyeing it with interest, my husband eyeing me to see when I’m going to explode, and all I’m thinking is: look at all those hours gone to waste. Every kink in that yarn is a breath, a gesture of my hands working in unison, the kinks formed in part by the oil passing from my hands into the fibers so that they will hold the shape I give them.

I just finished my first sweater in March of this year, and I can hardly stop wearing it. Not only did I make that sweater, but it is me: it is a record not just of my existence, of something I made, but of every breath I took during its construction. And that amazes me.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Beginning of the Skein

Hello! This is my first post, and my first blog, a place to share my encounters with yarn, and any other beautiful thing I come across. I started knitting almost a year ago, when I returned from a trip to Melbourne, Australia. Melbourne was beautiful! There were so many shops full of beautiful handmade things, so many lovely outfits and shop windows. Even a local green grocer made a new vegetable sculpture each day in the front window! Walking through the streets of Melbourne was a reminder of how beautiful each day can be if we take the time to pay attention. When I returned to Christchurch, I decided I needed to start creating beautiful things myself. I had learned to knit many years before, but it was a disaster. My first hat on circular needles turned into a mobius strip! But upon returning from Melbourne, I purchased a copy of Debbie Stoller's Stitch 'n Bitch, and some knitting needles and yarn from Goodwill, and away I went! The only other knitter I know is my sister (I taught her at Christmas), but she's on the other side of the globe. So, this is my public entry into the world of knitting, and a way of getting in touch with other knitters. Happy knitting!