Friday, November 30, 2007

Just in time

Here are the latest pair of socks for my son. He has size 11 feet and yes, that IS a gameboy in the pic for scale.

These are also my socks for the October Sockalong at Sock Knitters Anonymous on Ravelry. I can't get into it right now so this will hopefully be enough evidence to convince them that I have indeed finished in time.

Gingerbread Socks - FINISHED

Trekking XXL, will edit to add the colour tomorrow, 2.5mm needles, pattern pretty much made up as I went along. Stitch is "Gingerbread Rib" from a book I borrowed from Miriam.

I reversed the cables on the second sock. Looks nice, hey?

Socks Close Up

Will post more tomorrow. Now off to watch 4 episodes of "Smallville" with the wearer of the socks.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Is this fair?

I went to the pulmonologist (sp?) today. I have had a bad run of sinus and bronchitus and can now no longer climb two flights of stairs of carry my daughter from her bedroom to the lounge without doing a good impersonation of Darth Vader.

I had a morning full of tests, more results to come, the good news is that I am not allergic to the most common allergens. Bad news is that I have "Late Onset Asthma".

I have probably smoked less than 10 cigarettes in my life (all when quite seriously drunk or feeling self destructive). It bugs the living daylights out of me that people who have spent YEARS voluntarily inhaling toxins have an easier time breathing than I do.

I now have drugs that I need to take morning and night and more drugs to take before exercise and if I feel my chest going all tight. I also have to run to the specialist if I get a chest infection as that could lead to the asthma getting out of control which could lead to my lungs being damaged.

Knitting content will return with the next post.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

What a week

Right – this week has been HECTIC. It is that time of year when everything happens at once (or at least it feels that way). I meant to post something on Monday but what with Michael’s therapy session and the PA meeting I just didn’t get round to it. Tuesday was another thing at the school, Wednesday I just faded, Thursday was something else at the school and Friday I had some deadline sewing to do.

SO – in order :

On Monday I went to the shops during lunch to post something. I didn’t get out as early as I would have liked and when I got there the queue was long, there were only two tellers, after waiting for 5 minutes and getting nowhere I decided to leave. HMM – now I think of it I STILL haven’t posted it, must try to get round to it this week.

As I had driven all the way to the shops I decided to pop into the second hand book shop for a quick browse. It is quite amazing what you can pick up at these places. I live in hope of finding a complete set of Alice Starmore books with the label “R500 for the set”. It’s right up there with the belief that I will find a complete kit for the Kaffe Fassett cardigan with the animal print inspired spots at a jumble sale. Just checked – it is called “Leopard Skin” and is on page 100 of “Kaffe’s Classics”. I have this idea that, once I have knit this cardigan and put it on, I will achieve the waif-like gorgeousness of the model and that my life will magically become perfect.

Yes, I do live in my own world, but it’s fine, everybody knows me here.

I didn’t quite find anything of the above but I found THESE:


Not quite in the league of my wish list, but incredibly special to me nonetheless. My mom had these, in their softcover incarnation, when I was a child. I might actually still have them somewhere, but if I remember correctly they are falling apart due to much loving attention from yours truly. These books were a mine of information when I was growing up. All the questions about knitting and crochet and sewing that my mom couldn’t answer – these books could! I attempted my first sock and my first mitten (neither of them were ever finished – AH – how little I have changed) from patterns in these books. I took my first steps in quilting from their instructions (hexagons in English Paper Piecing – thankfully lost in the mists of time as the fabric I used was HIDEOUS – that much I can remember) and I wrote quite a few Home Economics projects based on their pages. When I was down and lonely and hurting and nobody understood or cared I would open these books, turn the pages, and find comfort there. I started knitting an aran (also never finished) from their instructions, I lusted after the gansey on the next page but could never find the right wool (now, with the internet at my disposal, it will be child’s play). It’s like meeting an old friend. Things have been a bit CRAP of late and, right now, this makes me very very happy.

This is one of the little lights at the end of the tunnel (that isn’t an approaching train) that life sends you every now and again.

In other, also positive news, the new gardening protocol seems to be working well as growing sunflowers have been sighted.


The deadline sewing – a dress for Jackie.

Divali Dress

We were invited to a Divali dinner at her friend’s house. I had to get it done in time. Thankfully all I needed to do was sew down the neck facing, put in the sleeves, hem everything, and sew on a fastener. All was done in time and a good time was had by all. I have now left the sewing machine on the desk in the computer room. If it is accessible I do more on it.

I have actually promised myself that, if I can clear off the “big shelf” in my room and keep it clear, I will get myself a proper sewing cabinet for my birthday in May. I want something with doors that close so I can leave everything out (but safely locked away) to avoid accidents to children and cats. I also want a big table so I can get a cutting mat and use a rotary cutter to cut out patterns rather than having to pin everything down and mess about with scissors.

Next project – bags for Jackie. She wants to learn how to use the sewing machine and as this is mainly straight seams she can help me with this project.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Of Ducks and mysteries and gardening

This has been another busy weekend.

At knitting yesterday I gave Andrea the hat for her littlest. She seemed to really like it, which is always nice. I did have a shawl and a hat for Georgia but, sadly, she wasn’t there. I have her daughter’s details so I’ll leave things there for her to collect when things are a going a bit better.

Today Jackie and I went to Emmarentia to feed ducks. We initially went to the Botanical Gardens side of the lake, but the lack of hungry ducks led us to move to the other side of the lake. There were plenty of ducks here and Jackie soon had a following.

Duck 1


In Knitting I finished the first clue of the November Mystery sock on Ravelry’s Sockknitters Anonymous group. This went pretty quickly, but then it was just two cuffs. Clue 2 is only out next week so I’ll keep myself busy with SOMETHING in the meantime.

November mystery 1

As far as gardening goes – earlier exercises resulted in the ground being kept too wet so pretty much everything went all gloopy and mouldy. I am trying something different this time.

Basic procedure is as follows :

Get your children to eat lots of yoghurt so you have lots of empty tubs. Poke drainage holes in the bottom of the tubs. I used a metal skewer.

Yoghurt Tub

Fill tubs with seedling mix, soak well, put into a suitable container and plant seeds. In the pic below the container is a cat litter box. I do have cats and suggest that you buy this new. Cat pee is toxic to most plants and it smells terrible too.

Litter Box

Then, to ensure that the seedlings stay moist, put them into a clear rubbish bag.

Litter Box 2

I think this is where I went wrong the last time. I put too much water in and closed them too tightly. This way there is a bit of space for water to evaporate. Now to leave them (I do check on them daily) until they start growing. The plastic bags have multiple purposes. They help keep in moisture, they help keep insects and other pests out, and they protect seeds from the most inappropriately named cat in the world.


This is Angel. The kids chose her name. I think she is more like the vampire of the same name in the Buffy spin off. She likes to dig up seedlings and to eat tender young leaves. She has yet to learn how to untie knots in plastic bags.

OK – that’s all for now. I will hopefully have more knitting pics and maybe some plant pics shortly.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Answers to Questions

Just so everybody knows – I am not moonlighting as nrrdgrrl just to put extra comments on my blog. She is a totally different person and has her own blog and there are pictures with both of us in and everything.

In response to her questions, though, and no offence to the lady with the gardening question – this one is just quicker and easier to answer and doesn’t need photos or soil or suchlike – here goes :

Bra balls are pretty much what you thought they were. They are essentially two plastic balls inside one another. The outer one opens up, you insert your bra, put the smaller call inside the cups, shove the straps inside the holes on the inside ball, close it up and there you go. It helps stop the cups getting squished in the washing machine (I have a wool cycle) and helps stop the fabric snagging on anything that might be floating about in the wash. It also, as you have seen, works pretty well for blocking children’s hats. I was going to stuff the thing with plastic bags, but I think this method provides better overall ventilation for quick and even drying.

The ball ring (and for a moment when I read your comment I had to do a double take as I had a senile moment and couldn’t think of ANYTHING that you could be talking about, then I thought that maybe you and Nico were getting bored and looking for something to spice up your “private time”, but then, thankfully, the penny dropped and I realised what you were on about) was also concerning me as far as overall wool weight goes. So – I weighed the ring on my diet scale – just short of 5g. Then I weighed an untouched ball (with ring inside) – ball is labelled as 50g – just over 55g. Not exactly conclusive – I could always take both items to the post office and use their scale but as I normally get there at the busiest times I don’t think it would go down to well.

I did manage to make a complete child’s hat with one full ball – very little left over – actually hardly any as I knit the tail thing until I had just about enough to darn in an end – which isn’t bad, is it? It is still posing on the bra ball but now with a bow not a tail. I think it’s quite cute and not too OVERTLY “baby girl pink””.

Finished Hat

I am knitting an adult size hat with the other two balls, with Jackie hoping that I will use very little of the stuff as she wants something made from the leftovers. If I do run out and she asks nicely maybe I’ll buy another ball just for her.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

What a full, active life I lead.

Following on from my previous post – no, I haven’t done any gardening at all this weekend. Some of my vegetables are sprouting, but the sunflower seeds are ignoring me. This confirms that flowers hate me (I have had terrible sinus so far this season) and vegetables love me (which explains why the strangest man in the room always feels the urge to come and talk to me about cabbages and their plans for world domination).

My life for the last few days has been something like this :

Friday :
I did some more knitting with the new Elle 50% wool 50% cotton DK. All in all not an unpleasant experience.

I liked – the wool was nice and soft and knits up pretty nicely. Even though it isn’t that tightly spun I had no problems with it splitting. The colour was gorgeous, I thought of raspberry sorbet all the time I was knitting, and the wool makes the cotton less obvious and gives it a nice bit of bounce. My stitches weren’t quite as even as I get with wool, but that is something I expect and allow for when using cotton.

I disliked – the colour and dye lot information on the INSIDE of the ball band. This is one of those ball bands that sort of impales the ball so you (OK - me – maybe I’m clumsier than most) pretty much have to dismantle the whole thing to see if you have balls from a matched set.

Ball Band

I seriously disliked – the KNOT! Just far enough into the ball to make you wonder if it is worth ripping but then again just far enough that you know you will make a plan. I have another 2 balls to knit into a chemo cap for Georgia (more on her later) and really hope not to have a repeat of this. It isn’t really the experience you want to have when you are trying something for the first time.

Knot Nice

I was totally puzzled by – this thing

Ring Thing

This would explain why I couldn’t find the inside end of the ball when I fiddled around in its insides. The ball was wound around it. I have obviously lived a sheltered life as I have never seen anything like this before. It seems like cheating to me. Kind of like stuffing tissues in your bra. Does this happen often? Am I the only one to find this vaguely creepy? I discovered this after I’d found the knot and decided to re-wind into the centre pull ball I’d been wanting all along with the added check for any additional knots.

Saturday :
This just got away from me. I did the monthly shop in the morning, took the kids to the library to exchange old books for new ones, did a bit of shopping and took the kids for lunch. Then I took Jackie to visit a friend who has just had a knee replacement. I was supposed to be there at 3. I was convinced that I left home at 2:30. The trip took no longer or shorter than it should have but we got there at 4. Either there is a time warp somewhere between our homes or I managed to lose an hour. Then, when I went to make myself a cup of tea I put salt in instead of sugar. For future reference – tea draws much faster when you ladle in a few spoons of salt rather than sugar. It also tastes AWFUL!

Things got better after that, though. We had a nice visit, she liked the books I got her at the Library’s second hand sale (was it terrible of me to ask her to give them back once she’s read them so I can read them too?), and I didn’t lose any more time that day I did also sit and watch “Haunted Mansion” with the kids and get a kiddy hat finished. More on that later.

Sunday :
I blocked the shawl for Georgia. 2 balls of “Splish Splash” cotton, 5.5mm needles (I think) and what I could remember of the Kiri shawl pattern as I was too lazy to check on it when I started.

Yes, I am blocking on the squishy floor things that you get for the kids. I was thinking of getting wood and nails and making a blocking frame so I stop having to borrow beds but I saw these when I was shopping, realised just how much cheaper and time efficient they were compared to making anything and just bought two sets. I think I might buy myself more.




You will get an after picture once I hand it over, hopefully on Saturday at knitting.

Then I delivered some HONEY stuff to Maureen, bought milk for the week, dropped the boy child off at the shops so he could browse the bookshops and took Jackie to a birthday party. After the initial upset when she hurt her ankle on the trampoline it seems that a good time was had by all as she didn’t want to leave.

She was obviously a little tired, though, as this happened within moments of us getting home. You will see from the picture that yes, indeed, cats are the MOST opportunistic animals in the world.

Opportunity Purrs

While she was asleep I washed some underwear and the hat I’d finished on Saturday night. There is a great big i-cord on the top that will get tied into a bow. As I’d chucked everything into the washing machine at once I had bra-balls handy as I was deciding what to stuff the hat with while it dried. How’s this for inventive?


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Does it count?????

If you have decided that you are not going to buy anything to knit as you have TONS of stuff in your stash and really should be using it, and that you really need to stop buying sock needles as you have tons of them started but not many finished, does it count as breaking this “promise” when:

1. You were going to be good and use leftover sock yarn to knit a hat for a friend’s daughter but your own daughter saw it and LOVED it and it fit her and she looks SO CUTE in it (scroll down to earlier post to see happy Jackie in pink hat) and now you need to make something else before you see her again in November.
2. You need to use it to make a chemo cap for a different friend as you were going to make her one but used the cotton to make her a shawl instead and she is worried about losing her hair and you’d like to have this done by November too.
3. Buying the wool is REALLY a favour to yet another friend who was wondering how it would knit up but has no real project planned for it and can’t justify getting any just to “test”.
4. All your sock needles (well, at least the 2.5mm DPNs whose location you can think of right now) are full and you want to do the mystery sock on Sock Knitters Anonymous on Ravelry next month and you need to make your daughter “long socks” because she asked so nicely and the are cheap and bamboo and you’ve never used bamboo DPNs before (bamboo circulars yes, by the same maker, and they are NICE) so really this is just an experiment not an actual purchase.

Because – if all these mitigating circumstances don’t count then I have been a BAD GIRL!

Wool is 3 balls of “Elle Elite DK” 50% cotton, 50% wool, colour 034, feels lovely in the ball, will hopefully be just as lovely knit up. Jackie, who grabbed it and yelled “Thank you Mommy” the moment it came out of the bag has been told that it is not for her but that I will make her something with any leftovers.

Just so you know – I do get some knitting done every now and again – see Michael’s next sock below. Trekking (XXL), colour 23, pattern made up as I go along (and, if I’m being a GOOD GIRL – see above – noted on an index card so I can recreate the second sock to match it), stitch pattern called “Gingerbread Rib” from a book I borrowed from Miriam – “Vogue Knitting – The Ultimate Sock Book”.

Gingerbread Sock
Originally uploaded by jaynewagner

Commenter who asked about gardening with yoghurt tubs – that post will come over the weekend if I have a moment to plant another one.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

No Blocking, Please – there’s RUGBY

Well, blocking has been delayed until next weekend as Jill’s house was taken over by her son’s friends who arrived to watch the World Cup Final. All her beds are occupied and hence unavailable as blocking surfaces. We WON so I am willing to postpone shawl blocking (and darning in of ends) until the next available opportunity.

By the way – isn’t it AMAZING how wonderful and understanding knitters can be? Most people, when asked if they have a double bed with clean sheets in a lockable room and if you can borrow it for the day, and if they mind if you get it wet and stick pins and suchlike into it, start giving you funny looks and ask why you can’t just go to a hotel.

In the meantime I have occupied my copious leisure hours with planting seeds in the hope of growing a few of my own vegetables this year. In the spirit of recycling they are all in empty yoghurt containers, sitting in (new) cat litter boxes and covered with cling film (I am thinking of getting some sheets of perspex instead) so they have their own little greenhouse type things to grow in. I planted some sunflower seeds last week which are supposed to take 7 to 14 days to germinate and I can see NO LEAVES yet. I hope they arrive soon as I’m not really into delayed gratification AT ALL.

I have also made a double batch of Low GI cheese muffins so I have a good grab and go breakfast in the freezer, and currently have Low GI banana bread baking. As far as the muffins go, it is a GOOD THING that I made a double batch as the family laid in to them and only half of them are left. They are a fairly quick and easy mix to make, though, so if they remain popular I’ll show the brother and son how to make them and they can keep everybody supplied. The daughter, who declared that she wouldn’t like them, allowed herself to be persuaded to try them and now won’t stop eating them.

In knitting news I’m trying to get all the bits of the knitted bear (present for daughter’s teacher) done and reading through the knitting books I borrowed from Miriam. So many patterns – so little time.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

I have Photos!

I have clever children – they both got Bronze medals for their Kumon – Michael for Maths, Jackie for English.

I have finished things:
Pink hat for Jackie – my standard patternless hat using the wool left over from her pink frilly socks.

Horcrux socks (from Six Sox Knitalong) for Michael – wool is one of the Opal hand dyes. It looked like the inside of a nappy on the skein but I think it knit up quite nicely. Michael has been told that, the next time he thinks I love his sister more than him, he must remember that I cast on 80 stitches for these socks. There are 40 rows in the heel flap, 98 rows in the foot, and 22 rows in the toe.

I started something – Margaret Tudor from Tudor Roses. This is the centre front panel.

I’m off to borrow a bed for blocking on Sunday (weather permitting) so there may be more pics then.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I have been BUSY

I got my Ravelry invite (I’m on there as MsTarzan if anybody is interested), I made a shawl for a friend whose cancer has decided to come back to visit, I have finished a pair of socks for the 17YO (Horcrux socks from Six Sox knitalong), I have cast on for Margaret Tudor from Tudor Roses.

Now I just need to find the time to add all the new buttons to my blog, tidy the place up a bit, and see about POSTING more often.
It would also help if my PC decided that it didn't actually HATE blogger with a passion and would speed up transactions as opposed to taking as long as possible to do ANYTHING.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

A funny sort of post

Just a quick post before I get so far behind with stuff that I fall over

It has been a funny few weeks.

Friday Jackie had a “Spring day” thing at school so I made her a hat with an old sunhat, some flowers, some ivy, and a hot glue gun. She looks a bit demented in this picture but I think that’s just the angle I took it at.

I also finished a pair of socks for her on Friday night. They are shown here with her feet in “playful” mode. I’ve put the egg-flips in for scale again so you can see just how small her feet are compared to her brothers.

She likes them a lot, but wants “long socks” – all the way up to her knees for the next pair. I can’t really complain as this is the same child who has told her friend’s mothers that they are stupid because they can’t knit. She also told me the other day that she knows that I love her much more than her friend’s mothers love them as their mothers just buy them clothes while I knit them things.

In other news – I resurrected my membership of the Six-Sox knitalong and am well into the latest pattern. I’m doing the little cables in a twisted stitch as I didn’t like the way it looked before. It seems much nicer now.

This is what it looked like earlier:

OK – that’s all for now. I need to finish my project proposal for my MSc this week and my task for the weekend, well, Sunday, as that is pretty much all that is left of the weekend now, is to get most of that done.

This is going to be complicated by the fact that I dug out some cross stitch projects while looking for a thin needle to do a Russian join with. I am torn. I think I will have to bribe myself – 15 minutes of cross stitch for every 30 minutes of REAL work on the project proposal – sitting and staring at the screen doesn’t count.

Friday, August 17, 2007

We apologise for the delay in blogging

Yesterday’s scheduled blogging was delayed due to the screening of the first episode of “Survivor – Cook Islands”. I know it isn’t marvellous TV but I like it. Jackie and I sit around and watch it together and it is cute to see her pick a favourite team based on their colours. She gets so excited when “her” team wins.

Then it was delayed again as a friend was visiting from the UK and we went out for dinner.

Now, as promised, a summary of what I have been doing with myself all year. Honestly, I would have had so much more time for blogging and knitting for me and all that sort of thing if people around me would just stop getting pregnant and having babies. Strangely enough – all little girl babies – I wonder if the thought of having something handknit is attracting them.

This was for a colleague at work – kind of a rush job – I was darning in the ends on the morning of the baby shower.

This was for my next door neighbour. I don’t always knit for neighbours but Jackie heard that they were having a little girl (she is big on little girls – insists that the world needs more of them and keeps asking when her baby sister is going to arrive) and asked me to make them something.

This was for somebody who just lucked out. The mom is the daughter of the lady who owns / runs the shop where we have our S’nB meetings. I had been really wanting to knit this shawl and her being pregnant was all the excuse I needed. It’s the Rosebud Shawl from the Heirloom Knitting site – done in the KnitPicks dye your own laceweight. I found the pattern incredibly well written and easy to follow, and other than losing a bit of steam once I hit the border (144 repeats of the same pattern – excluding the times when I zoned out, messed up, and had to rip back the best part of one side – TWICE) it was a fairly easy knit. Mother was instructed to USE it and baby has already been spotted in public wrapped up in said shawl so I am a happy knitter.
Shawl is too big to put in one pic and the only ones I have are of it blocking. Here are photos of the centre :

The border:

The edging:

There is also a hat I don’t have a picture of. Maybe Miriam would be kind enough to let me have a pic of it when she has the chance as it was a present for her new arrival. It was another rush job. I finished the knitting in the car on the way to the baby shower. It was well received, though, so worth the effort.

Finally – here is an exception to my normal baby knitting rule. On the whole I knit only for the women that I know and work with. In the whole pregnancy phase I think of the bacon and eggs analogy. With bacon and eggs the chicken is involved, the pig is committed. With pregnancy the father is involved, the mother is committed. Well, this blanket (crochet not knitting) was made for one of the men I work with. The little girl that this was made for is especially special to her parents. They have been trying to have a baby for 10 years. About a year ago they lost a child at 8.5 months. I think the exception to the rule was warranted. The best part is – when I handed it over I got the BEST response I have EVER received for a baby gift. He was absolutely delighted – almost glowing with appreciation. It’s apparently the first hand made gift she has received and, as his wife wishes she knew how to knit and crochet but doesn’t, they really appreciate just how special it is.

In non-knitting news I graduated with distinction. My first ever post-graduate qualification is now under my belt and I can start working on my MSc. I got my Graduate Diploma in Engineering – Mineral Resource Evaluation.

I was planning on inserting a picture here but I have just had a look at the pictures off the camera and I look insane in them so you can all just imagine how I looked.

I have also been making socks for the kiddies. I have finished this pair for Michael. You will see Jackie’s “egg flips” have been inserted for scale. I had to chop out the top of the socks as otherwise you would have had a close up of Michael’s groin. I am not that cruel a mother.

OK – off to rest after all this blogging. Will try to post more regularly in future. You know – if you lot posted more comments I might be more inspired to blog. As it is I don’t know if anybody other than me ever reads this stuff.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


OK - I have been trying to post since the 4th of August when I met a charming lady at the knitting group (I've gone totally blank on her name, I'm afraid) who recognised me from my blog.

I was fired up with enthusiasm and all ready to post some scintillating comments on my life but then my pc refused to speak to blogger so I was stuck. Now I can finally get in but I have no pics to show anybody. This sucks.

I will get organised and should have something for you soon, technological co-operation permitting.

Friday, June 29, 2007

It has been quite a week

It snowed in Johannesburg, I graduated with distinction, and both Jackie and I got our hair cut.
That's pretty much all I have time for now, photos are still on the camera, but I'll see about uploading some tomorrow.

Monday, March 19, 2007

I'm not dead

But you could be forgiven for thinking that.

Life has been nuts, far too many people have been having babies, and this new blogger thing seems to take FOREVER to load on my machine.

I have photos. I have made 1 baby blanket, almost 1 baby shawl, almost finished a baby set (hat, socks and mittens) while continuing with my normal life, dressing up like an elf at Hobby-X, and tried not to be driven insane by the pc with a fan that keeps conking in.

Will try to have pc fixed this week and then maybe I can post pics.