Saturday, 29 March 2014

Ravellenics - semi competetive knitting

This year the Winter Olympic Games were on in Sochi in Russia from the 7th to the 23rd of February. In Australia, most people would acknowledge that both the summer and winter Olympic games are prime couch potato time. If there's one thing Australians excel at, it is watching other people do sport, crowding into massive sporting stadiums to watch the AFL, spending our weekends at suburban sporting grounds watching our kids play cricket, soccer, rugby or football or watching professionals battle it out on TV from the comfort of our couch in our own lounge rooms.

Knitters the world over look at it a little differently though. All this sport on TV is a good excuse to settle in for some quality sport watching and knitting time. You get the pleasure of watching elite athletes perform at their very best as well of lots of hours to create your next knitted masterpiece.

The Olympics is the pinnacle of this intersection of awesome sport on TV and an excuse to sit in front of a TV for hours at end, knitting needles in hand. Knitters the world over cast on in solidarity at the start of the opening ceremonies of an Olympic games, challenging themselves to complete awesome feats of knitting brilliance and endurance whilst the games run. It's called the Ravellenic Games. I find the Winter Olympics particularly inspiring. It's all that snow and ice and spectators swathed in scarfs and awesome knitted beanies. Knitted garments in a deep snowy winter aren't just fashion accessories; they are essential to human survival. So I can't watch the winter Olympics and not knit (even if it is the tail end of summer in Australia).
So I joined in with my fellow knitters (and crocheters) around the world, signed up for a team and plotted and planned for my medal aspirations.  I trained hard, knitting and crocheting consistently through the heat of an Australian summer. I designed a new Ravatar. I found team TARDIS and climbed in with all the other Who fanatics and the fun began.
And I won three medals. To win a medal you need to complete a nominated project within the time frame of the Olympics and tick off a whole heap of checklists on Ravelry including posting photos of the finished item and tagging your project pages appropriately.

The first was for frogging a project, Arundel. This was a project for future Doctor daughter. I loved it, still love it in fact (and I hate it at the same time). I love the pattern. I love the colour combination. I love the construction (bottom up semi seamless). I love the lace pattern.

I think this is an example of the unseen perils of using stash wool. I used some Paton’s Katie wool which has to be from the late 70s, early 80s. I thought I had enough. I had enough balls (but because they are so old they had no yardage listed). I knitted the body up to the armholes (twice). The first time I had the gauge off just enough that the length of the armholes would have been too short. So I went up to a 4.5 mm needle. I divided for the armholes and knitted to the shoulders and joined them up. I started the sleeves. (The pattern has short sleeves). AND I DIDN’T HAVE ENOUGH YARN. (I swear evil yarn fairies made off with the extra ball I thought I had).

I threw it in the naughty corner and stomped off in disgust for a few months. Then I came up with three plans. Knit the sleeves in a different colour. (The doctor daughter vetoed this one). Frog it (I couldn’t bear to do this). Or three - turn it into a vest. I did eventually do this but was never really happy with it. Now the future Doctor daughter is seriously training for Dance worlds 2015, she is a lean mean fighting machine and this no longer fits. It came home for Christmas and heartbreaking decision was made to frog it.
However, I needed the impetus of the Ravellenics to force me to do this. This is what it ended up as. (At least I have photos of the beauty of the original).
And my project Steampunk on Toast successfully competed in both Mitten Moguls and Lace Luge.
“Steampunk is what happens when goths discover brown”.
One of the things I love doing is naming projects. When I first saw these fingerless mitts in Issue 64 of The Knitter they reminded me of that curious blend of industrial and Victorian sensibilities that is steampunk. I knew I wanted to knit them in a glittery yarn. I’d seen, fondled and ultimately passed up on buying the perfect yarn at the end of last winter on clearance - a wool acrylic blend by Moda Vera called ‘Taylor’. I saw it initially in a beautiful silvery black but after a road trip to a couple of Spotlight stores, I finally found some in brown for a ridiculously cheap price. So warm and toasty lacey wristwarmers and hence Steampunk on Toast
These are my first ever Ravellenics project for Team Tardis. I can see Victorian Clara wearing these.

The yarn is a core of wool covered in a silvery acrylic mesh. Despite the glitter, it is smooth and not scratchy. It also knits up incredibly smooth and doesn’t catch or pull.
I swatched and made gauge and then cast on on the 8th February knitting the first garter stitch tube which forms the glove base the same day. I made a modification to the pattern when it came to joining up the tube. The pattern suggested leaving the stitches live and joining to the other side of the tube by sewing. I left the stitches live, turned to work to the inside and picking up loops from the cast on edge, knitted them together one at a time with the live stitches and cast off. I joined 30 stitches, cast off 10 stitches on the live edge only for the thumb opening and joined up the remaining ten stitches.
On the 9th of February, I made the first lace frill, stitched the seam closed and stitched this onto the glove at the bottom of the thumbline whilst wearing the glove on my left hand. I did eight repeats of the lace rather than the seven suggested in the pattern just to give a little more length to reach comfortable around the glove. I also attached the frill wrong side out as I think the lace pattern is more defined this way. Cast on one or two new pieces each day and seamed as I went. I finished these on the 12th February 2014 about 10 pm whilst watching Olympics and the photo shoot took place on Saturday 15th February 2014. Thanks to Mel the hand model.
And a I won a prize for playing along with Team TARDIS - beautiful shawl pattern called Bequin. This is my planned April project.

Knitting is clearly an integral part of the Winter Olympics. Even the Finnish Snowboard coach was caught on camera knitting at the top of the slope.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Curating Ravelry: Tribute to the Doctor

You know how special it is to find a TV show that you can sit down and watch with the whole family and all thoroughly enjoy it? Well for our family that has been Doctor Who. The Head of The Household and I are old doctor fans from way back. He grew up with Scarf Doctor and Peter Davison (or Celery Doctor as my kids affectionately refer to him) is the Doctor of my childhood memories. We started watching Dr Who as a family at the beginning of the new reboot with the 9th doctor and it's a must watch family TV date whenever it's on. (Lazy Sundays on the couch in our PJs watching Doctor Who and eating brunch).

Doctor Who has so many iconic images and knitters and crocheters the world over have turned their needles to some amazing tributes. My criteria for this collection were that they had the be free patterns and things I'd love to make. (I think this is just the first of a series of posts on this topic as I found sooo many cool things).

Want a Tardis with that?

Tardis ipad Cover by Ashley Ford
© Ashley Ford
The Dr Who Tardis Afghan by Carrie Fritsche.
by hedoknitstic Flickr
TARDIS Tara's TARDIS Socks by Tara Wheeler
© Tara Wheeler
Tardis hat by Randi Sanders
© Randi Sanders
Bigger on the inside shawl by Kate Atherley
spacer model: Kate Atherley
spacer photos: Amy Singer
Bigger on the inside mittens by Ampersand Designs
© ampersand designs
TARDIS stuffed plush by Penwiper
© pixelbrid

Daleks are really cute misunderstood creatures

INSULATE! hat by Amy van de Laar
© Amy van de Laar

 Extermiknit! by Penwiper
© Penwiper 2007
Dalek Amigurumi by Lucy Ravenscar
© Lucy Collin
Mummy's Little Dalek Jumper by Allison Bitter
© Allison Bitter, 2012

And what's a Doctor without a scarf?

The iconic Doctor Who scarf has so many variations over six seasons. I've just picked one of the most popular here (and in a yarn that is easily acessible in lots of places).

See Tara Wheeler's Site dedicated to knitting the authentic scarf in all its forms; The Witty Little Knitter. Here are patterns in number of different suggested yarns for all the variations.

Doctor Who Scarf - Season Thirteen in Cascade 220 by Tara Wheeler
Tardis Logo Scarf by Kristen Danley
© Kristen Danley 2012
Police Box Scarf by Penwiper
© Penwiper

And of course a sonic screwdriver?

Knitted Sonic Screwdriver V.2 by R J Daae
by RJDaae
Eleven's Sonic screwdriver by Kristen Danley
© Kristen Danley 2011

Saturday, 15 March 2014

I Love Knitty!

It has been long suspected that the internet was invented and is maintained by cats. There is more cat related content on the internet than the sum of all the world's accumulated knowledge (though that is there too!)

But us knitters, crocheters and fiber artists know the true origin of the internet. It was created by knitters.The cats are just protective camouflage. Cats love knitting. When I first discovered the secret underweb that is populated by knitters, two sites stood heads and shoulders above the rest: The Yarn Harlot's blog and the online knitting magazine Knitty.

In 2012 Knitty turned 10. (It was established in 2002). I just want to say thank you for everything you've given this knitter down under on the other side of the world.

Hours of pleasure reading the knitty blog. I particularly love the WWW(What's What Wednesday) posts; a weekly news round of up of the hip, happening and just plain weird news from around the knit-o-sphere. Occasionally I can even claim that it is work related. For example, the American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of America featured a full day session on Mathematics and Mathematics education in Fiber Arts. Plus where else will you find out that there are more knitted penguin sweaters in the world than penguins who need to wear them or the latest amazing yarn bombing?

Knitty has provided the platform for number of knitting firsts for me.

Knitty provided the pattern for the first chapter of the Beret Project. and kick started a new found confidence in my ability to make knitwear that was fashion worthy for my teenage daughters. I was looking for a beret to make for my eldest daughter to replicate the look of the day with a unique edge at at a price to not break the budget, and found Reverie by Amy Swenson. And so, not one, but two new berets were born and the start of a knitted head wear obsession that still has me in its grips more than 20 hats and berets later. (I also credit this project as the point where I knew I needed to improve my photography skills).
spacer model + photos: Amy M. Swenson

I knitted my first fancy lace socks from a Knitty pattern: Tribute by Brenda Patipa. It was also the pattern that I used playing along with my first Ravelympics / Ravellenic Games from the sidelines not being brave enough to jump in feet first with the big kids. I completed my self imposed knitting gymnastics challenge, working a complicated lace sock on dpns and finishing whilst watching Olympic rhythmic gymnasts performing their ribbon routines. But no medals this time. I jumped the gun on the start and so didn't strictly meet the rules. But I made an amazing pair of socks that I love. (And Knitty has sooooo many cool free sock patterns. There are currently three in the queue and one on the needles).
Knitty provided the pattern for my first Ravelry KAL - a cowl knit along: The BFF Cowl by Ysolda Teague and tinyowlknits from Knitty Deep Fall Edition 2012. I loved this one when I first saw it when it went live in Knitty. I love the colours and the sentiment behind the design. But the pattern didn't love me - or at least the yarn didn't. From gauge issues through trying to use a DK weight yarn for a worsted weight pattern and being too lazy to swatch to running out of yarn due to using seconds yarn from the stash. I ended up starting the cocoon stitch loop of this cowl four times with three different yarns. But the finished object (whilst being nothing like I envisaged at the beginning) is beautifully snugly and a tribute to the sheer bloody mindedness your knitting sometimes requires you to demonstrate.
spacer models: Stephanie Dosen, Ysolda Teague
spacer photos: Mark Smollin
Cast on 1 (and 2): Wrong size needles and not enough yarn
Cast on 3: Gauge fine - pity I hate the yarn!
Cast on 3: All OK this time (but I had to buy yarn)
I knitted my first jumper for my mother using Twist and Shout from Fall 2008. This was one of those bizarre rights of passage, "Don't Mums make you knitted garments?" It sorted of offended my view of what's right in the world to be the one knitting for my mum, until I realized it was a tangible way of repaying her years of handmade love for me. And while she loves the finished garment, I've yet to persuade her to pose for a fashion shoot for the blog. (And its definitely the wrong season to ask her to do it now).
spacer models: Robynn Weldon, Susan Brand, Mel Howes spacer photos: Armin RĂ¼ede
I won my first knitting prize from Knitty! One of the last two limited special edition Tom Bihn Knitty 10th anniversary Swift bags in the world. I don't think that anyone except a fellow Knitty fan will understand the extreme depth of my joy when this arrived in the mail all the way from the other side of the world. I take this with me to craft shows proudly displaying my membership in the secret Knitty Fan Club. It's become my defacto handbag for train journeys, fits both the laptop and the knitting.
Thank you Knitty. I love you! (And I just wanted to let the world know!) Keep on doing the awesome thing you do.

of these last-in-the-world 10th Anniversary Knitty Swifts to give away. They were made as a limited edition last fall, and sold out by December. But we saved two for you! Each has a retail value of $100usd - See more at:
American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of America last week featured a full day special session on Mathematics and Mathematics Education in Fiber Arts - See more at:
American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of America last week featured a full day special session on Mathematics and Mathematics Education in Fiber Arts. - See more at:
American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of America last week featured a full day special session on Mathematics and Mathematics Education in Fiber Arts. - See more at:
American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of America last week featured a full day special session on Mathematics and Mathematics Education in Fiber Arts. - See more at: