Sunday, August 31, 2008

Things of blue

On Monday I picked up my quilt from the Caroline Conlan of History in the Making. Unfortunately she doesn't have a website, but if you want her to do any work for you I can give you her number.

The quilt looks beautiful, as you can see. Caroline custom quilted it, and it look spectacular. The actual star part of the quilting was a bit of a challenge, the design we had chosen for the quilt had bits that we thought would work for all parts of the quilt, but the star bits are parallelograms, not the diamonds that were needed for the pattern to work. I think that the design Caroline came up with for this portion worked really well.
Broken Star quilt
Here is a close up of the centre of the quilt. My Mum is in love with feathers, so she kept showing me pictures of similar quilts she found that had feathers on them. Two quilting designs I don't like are feathers and stipples, so I don't think I will ever use them. I am sure feathers would look fine for this quilt, but I reckon this looks better, it is more original.
broken star quilt
Don't you just love the design in the lighter part of the quilt? It helps the fabric to stand out. I knew nothing about luminosity when I chose the fabrics for this quilt, but I managed to create a good effect anyway.

Broken star quilt
It was hard to get a pic showing the quilting on the background fabric, but it is basically three quarters of the section in the light fabric. The border quilting looks a bit like swirls and hearts.
Broken Star quilt

At the moment the quilt is still sitting on my sofa, waiting for me to cut out the binding, as well as remove the excess wadding and backing fabric from the quilt itself. The only problem with having to do that, is that I won't be able to admire it on the sofa while I am working on it.
Thanks again to Mum who offered to pay for a quilt of mine to be quilted when I bought my house, I am pleased I chose this one - if I had to pay for it to be custom quilted it would probably be sitting in a box for another 5 years.

The other scrumptious blue thing that has come into my home in the last couple of weeks is this gorgeous baby alpaca dyed by Donyale. I was inspired by QMs Clapotis that her Mum made for her, and wanted to make a similar but larger version.
gift wrapped Habu Alpaca
The photos don't do justice to the colour, but it is a really nice bluey-grey. I also bought some stitch markers, because they just looked so pretty on the website, but they look even better in real life. The lighting in the bathroom shows off the colour much better than the lounge, but these are the only pics I have.
Habu Stainless Steel Alpaca
Speaking of bathrooms, better go do some cleaning before I go out for coffee.

Busy working in my native garden

The last couple of weeks have been so busy I haven't had a lot of time for crafty stuff. I worked out yesterday that my last proper day off was the 17th of August. Last weekend I went to the Canberra division (Zone 7) of the OTA's AGM/seminar day. There were some interesting topics being discussed, and I won a backpack/trolley bag. I think it was a leftover from the state conference earlier this year, but it is really cool. It has loads of pockets, and has wheels and a handle so you can load heaps of stuff into it and push it around if you need to. I sat there and visualised how many pasties I can fit into it to bring home from Adelaide next year. I will add a photo when I get round to taking one.

I spent time last Friday arvo and Sunday morning working in the garden. I have a little patch out the front of my place that had horrible diosmas in it. They were scraggly looking things, that had been badly pruned at some point. I hated looking at them, so had them removed by one of my neighbours. He certainly earned his money that day, a couple of the plants were so deeply stuck in the ground he had to use his car to pull them out!

The soil that was underneath them was mainly clay, I don't think there was anything good about it at all. I started my work trying to improve the dirt, by adding garden mix, compost, dynamic lifter, and potting mix that I removed from three rotten wine barrel planters that were in the backyard. I planted some natives and put down sugar cane mulch so that when it broke down it could add some nutrition to the soil.

Last week the local garden centre had their spring sale, so I bought more bags of compost and mulch, and some more plants (to replace half the plants that had died in the front garden last year). I spent hours digging the compost into the soil, using the garden fork I was able to get at 25% off. It was still really hard work, but much easier than last year. I think when I started on that garden last year it was 100% clay, this year it was much better. Using the fork was a lot easier too, the spade I used last year just got heavier and heavier with the clay.

Here are some pics of the garden, luckily I finished Sunday morning, because I got called in to work after lunch. I did run out of mulch before I was finished, so still have to top up one end of the garden, and inside the courtyard. I made a quick dash with my sister to The Garden to pick up more mulch at lunch time, it is still sitting in the courtyard waiting for me.

garden August 08

Katie's plant

Here is a photo of the Correa that I planted in Katie's memory after she died in January. I didn't get any photos while it had more flowers, I have had to hold back some leaves so you can see the one flower that is left. Luckily that is one of the plants that survived. This close up was taken before the mulching, but the Little Cate correa is surrounded now by Cutie Cat Pansies. We had a bit of rain last night so everything should now be doing really well. Hopefully it will all survive.
Little Cate Correa


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Gold medal hopes dashed

Just like Susanna Kallur, I can't get past my first hurdle of the Maine Morning Mitts. I am attempting to do them using magic loop with Noro Kureyon yarn, which has great vibrant colours, but is so sticky I am regretting the choice. I have never made mittens before, and made very bad magic loop baby socks for Niece1 3 years ago. I have been putting them off for days, just in case I couldn't get the rhythm of the magic loop and the increases going.

I should have had a bit of a warm-up before the girls came over last night so I could consult WithaQ, a legend in the sport of magic looping. I should know by now that if you don't do the training and the warm-ups you can stumble and fall.

I have cast on about 6 times to do these mitts for the ravelympics, and haven't been able to pass the first round. The first time was the most successful, till I looked at it and had a very loose dodgy looking spot in the cast on. I think I stuffed up an increase. I have been lucky enough to avoid knitting too many things with increases, so still don't have that skill mastered, I can do it but it is a struggle.

My other problem with this is that I can't seem to be able to count. I can't seem to remember if I am up to a M1R or a M1L. The last attempt seemed to be going ok, I even managed to get to the end of the first needle! But then my brain kicked in (as it does when knitting and my logic isn't on the same page as the patterns logic) and I started wondering where I could find the final M1L of the needle. In the pattern it is worked on 3 needles to get the patten repeats even, I am putting 2 repeats on needle 1, and the other on repeat on needle 2. Each pattern repeat ends in p1 followed by M1L. I guess I do the M1L between the needles and end up with it sitting on the next needle.

I am sure I have managed to lose you with my description of this, much as I have managed to lose myself. I have thrown the needles down for the night. I suspect these fingerless mitts are going to be mittenless mitts! I will have another go tomorrow when the brain is fresh, otherwise I will have to wait to consult with the experts for a lesson on basic knitting. These mitts are making the hat I made look easy.

The hat was a resounding success. Even though I am not happy with the seamed part of it, people at work were so impressed some of them want me to make them one. I have to experiment with a couple of different patterns, and work out how much to charge. Once I got past the tricky bit of adjusting the pattern, I really loved knitting the hat. I only frogged that half as much as I have these rotten mitts. If I give up on them for the ravelympics, I will have to move onto my jumper that needs seaming, and about 1000 loose ends woven in.

BTW, I tried to find a good link to the start of Susanna Kallur's 100m hurdle race, but had trouble. We watched it last night and it was devastating to watch. I think she was our favourite in that heat because her hair looked so cool. I don't think she had a good start, her foot looked as sticky as my Noro yarn, and she couldn't get enough height to go over the first hurdle. I guess that is what sport is all about - train your heart out and have it all turn to shit on the day.

Better get to bed so I can try again tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I finished my hat last night, I love the yarn and I think I am addicted to knitting hats. I think next time I will make up the pattern for me, instead of adjusting a different pattern. I will be wearing it to work today, pity I can't wear it AT work, have to wear a proper theatre hat. I will show it off to everyone though.

I think I will work on my WIP Wrestling next, then have a go at
my mittens on the weekend. I am going to try and magic loop them, I don't own any DPNs the right size, and wouldn't be able to use them anyway.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I think I have got it

I should have worked it out this way, but was told 12 less stitches was the magical number. All I could see was the number 12 in the pattern, so it looked ok to me when I didn't think it through.

I think this is it
Original size was 97 stitches. Decreases worked like this:
K10, k2tog=
12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 1
End up with 1 less stitch from each 12 stitches
1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

Should have been 8 less stitches:
89 stitches, start decreases with row 3
K9, k2 tog
11 11 11 11 11 11 11 11 1

not this: 85 stitches
k11,11 11 11 11 11 11 8
Does this make sense?
I am going to rip back and cast on again with 89 stitches

That way I can reward myself with wine and chocolate, not have them because of frustration

That Dratted Hat

Ok, I am a bit peeved at the moment. I had consulted with someone about adjusting the pattern for my silk garden beanie. It was knitting up beautifully, even with the pain of the finger that I jammed in the drawer at Mum's (note to self, watch drawer when you close it, not the two little nieces playing nearby). Even the knotted join in the yarn two rows before the decreases was going to stop me. What did bring the knitting to a grinding halt was the fact that when I was doing the first row of decreases, instead of knitting to pattern and ending up with 1 stitch left I had 8. No matter how many times I counted, I couldn't change the 8 to 1.

Now I am no expert at knitting patterns, that is why I got some expert help. What I can't do is make it work. I could keep going with my knitting, but I don't think the decreases will work. I am tempted to rip it right back to the beginning and start again knitting as is, and ending up with a pattern that is too big. Or following the pattern on smaller needles (original plan B) and maybe having the fabric too stiff. What to do?

I think I will have a glass of red and open the block of chocolate and get stuck into that while I think about it. One good thing, I love the yarn and the colours in it. I am wishing that I had bought more so I could do matching mittens.

I need to go have a second bowl of Cauliflower and Parmesan Soup. Yes it does deserve the capitals. I don't know what magazine it was in, but one of the Anaesthetists at work was telling us about what she was cooking for dinner a week or so ago, and it sounded so good that we had to copy the recipes. This soup had fennel in it, which I have never used. It makes it such a great soup that it beats the Stephanie Alexander cauli and vegemite soup - and I really loved that one.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

All pressed up and somewhere to go

I am supposed to be knitting, but have managed to achieve something that I feel I can brag about....I am up to date with reading my blogs!!!! Thanks to QM I keep up with everybody's blogs using google reader. Love that little reader, except when it tells me that there are 200 or so posts to read. The technique I used was to see which blog had the most posts, and read them all in one hit - even if there were 56 of them. There are some blogs that I read as soon as I see a new post, but lots that I read later. Thanks to reading the one with the most for the last couple of weeks, I am up to date - no new posts to read. Woohoo.

You are probably wondering what the title has to do with this post. On Wednesday I took a quilt to be quilted. Mum had said when I bought my townhouse that she would pay for one of my quilts to be quilted. I instantly thought of this quilt:
broken star quilt
It was made at a workshop with Jenny Bowker, I think it wa 2002? It is a Broken Star quilt, made using Jenny's Pieces of Eight technique. I fell in love with the paisley fabric, and just love the quilt to bits. I think it will go on a wall, but to start with it can hang out on the couch with me. We took it to Caroline Conlan to quilt, it is being custom quilted. I am sure that it would look ok with edge to edge quilting, but I don't want it to look ok, I want it to look stunning. I will post a pic when I get it back, I hope I get it back soon. I have to measure the left over outer border fabric, I had hoped to use it for the binding, but think it might not be enough.

BTW, congrats to Jenny for winning Best of Show at the Canberra Quilters exhibition.

Fun and games at the craft show

On Thursday I went with my Mum to the Canberra Craft and Quilt Fair. Thursday used to be the quietest day, but I think it was busier than usual. My sister decided that she wanted to go, so we met her and her 2 girls inside. She had the 2 kid pram with her, so the children were nicely contained. Cathy commented on the many filthy looks she was receiving from mostly older ladies. It is amazing how poorly some people tolerate prams, but for Mum's like my sister taking the children in the pram is the only way they can get to things like the craft show. I told her not to worry about it, she had paid for her ticket (well Mum did, thanks again Mum) so she had every right to be there. The kids loved looking at everything, there were so many things to see.

When I converted my handbag to the backpack style I commented to my sister that I would get filthy looks too, but my back and shoulder don't tolerate wearing my bag on the shoulder for long. I didn't notice any evil looks, but I guess they were all behind me. I figure if people can lug trolley bags around, then others have the right to prams and bags on their backs.

I managed not to spend too much at the show I bought some Lang yarn for mittens and a hat at Yarns Galore. lang yarn
They are the same dye lot, but look different. Two years ago I bought some different Lang Yarn wool from that stand, they were the same dyelot but looked like they were not. I made them into a scarf earlier this year and wore it to the show.

At Threads and More I fell in love with the colours of their Noro. I bought some Kureyon and some Silk Garden to make a hat and mittens for the ravelympics.
noro purchase I have knitted tension swatches with each, the Silk Garden is much nicer to knit with.

Other purchases included a hat pattern and a Beadie for holding knitted tops together.
beanie pattern beadie from Threads and More I figure the Beadie is sort of neutral so will work with whatever colour I wear.

I tried on the beanie at the stand, cos I have had trouble finding hats that don't look dicky on me. I thought the hat looked pretty good, much better than the hat I wear every day at work. My sister wants to learn how to make a hat, so I thought this pattern would work since it is knitted on straight needles. I only use circulars these days cos I find them more comfortable. I think I have worked out the needle size I will use. I needed a smaller size to get tension, so will use 4mm instead of the 5mm for the stocking stitch section. I am adjusting the pattern to make it a bit smaller so will keep my fingers crossed. To enable the repeats to work I will try taking off 12 stitches.

I bought the One Skein Wonders book from Can Do Books and have enjoyed flicking through that. There are some felted things I would like to try. I also bought a Curvemaster foot from Punch with Judy, she has so many things on her stand, if you want some sort of gadget for patchwork or other machine sewing, then she will usually have it. If not, she can try to get it. I also bought another purple thang, I have two of them but have no idea where they are.

One of the things I had planned to do with my week off was organise my spare room and my study/sewing room. Nup, didn't happen. I did find buttons on Monday that were for two knitted tops I was doing for DN1. The newest one would fit DN2. Of course, when I was looking on Wednesday for the safe place I had put them, I couldn't find them. I thought I had put them on a shelf, I know they are in a little white paper bag somewhere.

I have managed to catalogue a lot of my stash on ravelry, but have not yet opened the 40L plastic container in the cupboard. I know I have some zhivago, tapestry and some other yarns in there. And then there is the baskets of sock and baby wool. I desperately need some proper shelves in my cupboards to organise my stash properly.

Well, I am off to knit my hat. We have a Scquilters dinner tonight, so I plan to knit when I am not eating. I hope to finish the hat tomorrow or Monday arvo so I can show it off at SnB.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Happy Anniversary to me!

I just looked at the date at the bottom of the computer screen. Today is the 6th of August, which means that I have worked as a Registered Nurse for 7 years. I graduated in June or July (can't remember which) 2001, and had several weeks off before starting the New Graduate Program. During that break I did my beginners patchwork class at Calico Patch.

I have been at my current job for five and a half years and love it most of the time. What other job lets you go to work in a tracky pants in winter, and shorts in summer (when they fit)? No thoughts to what you wear to work, you can throw your clothes in your locker and wear PJs (scrubs). Doesn't matter if you are having a bad hair day - after 10 hours of wearing a hat you won't really care about your hair cos it will look much worse at the end of your shift. Every so often at work we talk about the possibility of finding another job that pays more money, but we always decide that we are in the best job. Don't have to have an up to date wardrobe, the hair and makeup done etc. Wearing PJs is easy cos you don't have to do any ironing.

I work in theatres as an Anaesthetic and Recovery Nurse. I have the chance to meet new people every day, and have variety in my job. Essentially it is the same sort of thing, but doing different types of surgery and the different doctors you work with gives the variety. If anyone is looking for a career change and wants something that allows you to travel around the world and work, nursing is a good job. There are so many areas to work in, that you can find your niche. I enjoy working in theatres, but didn't really enjoy the wards - most theatre nurses would tell you the same thing.

At the moment there is a huge shortage of nurses. I read somewhere recently that the World Health Organisation estimated that in either 2010 or 2015 there would be a shortage of 1 MILLION nurses in the world. Very scary, you wouldn't want to get sick. Hospitals around the country are starting to offer incentives to entice people to work there. They might pay moving costs if you move interstate (I have heard of up to $3000), or a sign on bonus. My work is offering $2500 for nurses or CSSD staff, all you have to do is work 3 days a week and pass your 3 month probation period. Like every other hospital we are a bit short staffed, but we work with a really good crew. Whenever there have been staff satisfaction type surveys, working with a good bunch of people has been right up there for reasons to stay at our hospital. If anyone knows of anyone interested in a change, send me a message and I will help you to get the bonus. If you put my name in the introductory letter to the hospital, I would also get $2500. Then once you are permanent you can recruit people and get more money for yourself.

On a crafty note, I have been busy doing all sorts of things. I was supposed to be going to Katherine this week, but decided that I would rather go on an adult list rather than paediatrics - I don't do a huge amount of Paeds at work. This meant that I get to go to the craft show tomorrow - Woohoo!!! I haven't missed one for 10 years. I will be going with my Mum and sister and her two littlies. My oldest niece is a fan of quilts, she has been brainwashed from a very early age. If there is a quilt on the floor, or even a big bit of fabric she will lay down on it and say "pretty quilt Auntie Trudi". She has good taste. It will be fun going through the quilt exhibition with her. Last week DN1 found Mum's box of scraps and was arranging them on the design wall. Talk about cute!

I will be keeping an eye out at the craft show for all the pretty yarns. My latest thing that I am obsessed with is hats and fingerless mittens. I am going to have a go at some for the ravelympics. The mittens will be handy when I sit at the computer, my right hand always ends up a lot colder than the left.

Today I am going with Mum to the quilter. I have to trim the threads and press the front and the back. I will be taking my pieces of eight quilt that I did in a class with Jenny Bowker. It is the sort of quilt that needs custom quilting rather than an all-over pattern. My fantasticly wonderful Mum said when I bought my home that she would pay for one of my quilts to be quilted. Love you Mum.

Here is a pic of my Sunshine quilt in progress. I think I will call it Little Ray of Sunshine. I love the song, and I love the Sunshine fabrics so I think it suits.
As you can see, it is not finished. I need to put it on the design wall to play with it properly. It is too hard to do it on the floor. The only problem with that is that the design wall is in use. It still has my quilt as you go on it. I really need to sew the rows together, maybe this arvo or on the weekend.

Better go deal with the quilt top and back, Mum will be ringing any minute to see what time I am ready to go.