Monday, 29 December 2014

And so it begins

Tomorrow the homeward journey commences, possibly amidst snow. I must say I'm not really looking forward to it. (The snow is fine, but would be much better if we could just sit and enjoy it instead of driving).

Nearly everything is packed now, which was not as painful as I thought it could have been. I think we will be pretty close to our weight limit on luggage though, so there may be a few books being replaced later...

We will be on the other side of the world in less than a week now!

Monday, 15 December 2014

A knitting design interview - with Jennifer Dassau

For the past month I have been involved with the I Design Gift-a-Long over on Ravelry, which is basically a huge bunch of independent knit and crochet pattern designers working together to run a huge knit-and-crochet along. There is lots of chat, games and fun, along with plenty of prizes for all sorts of things. A fun part of the Gift-a-Long (for me, at least) is getting to know some of the other designers a little better. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Dassau, of The Knitting Vortex.

Jennifer currently has 99 patterns listed on ravelry, and there is a good mix of garments and accessories. I am always a sucker for great shawls, and I love the colours and shaping in Swirligig:

The interview follows - my questions are in bold, and I have added personal notes in italics.
1. Do you have a favourite amongst your designs? Any that you personally love that just aren't as popular as you think they deserve to be?
My latest design is always my favorite! At the moment, it's my two-color asymmetric shawl Vary, which is a riff on my popular Sundry shawl, with expanded slipstitch patterning.

2. Do you have any particular source of design inspiration, or do your ideas come from anywhere and everywhere?
Inspiration can come from anything; I live in a beautiful place where there are always color and shapes in nature to draw from. I like to make things that I want in my own wardrobe, or items that explore different techniques - I'm always looking for unusual constructions.
I think the edging on Venomous Tentacula is fun and creative. It looks not too complicated to knit, but incredibly effective.

3. What are your favourite yarns to work with (or just fondle) - either content, weight, or brand (or all of the above)?
I like worsted weight wools for garments, and soft wool blend fingering weight for shawls. Malabrigo Yarn Merino Worsted was my first "nice" yarn, and is still one of my favorites for all sorts of items, especially accessories. I love String Theory Caper Sock, which is a hand-dyed mcn; I also really like the drape and hand of fingering weight singles like madelinetosh tml.

4. What sort of thing do you most like knitting/creating?
That depends, too. My standbys are sweaters and modern shawls, but with winter coming soon, I'm feeling the love for warm accessories. I have a hat and long cowl in development now, and they'll be released soon.
For some reason sweaters always feel like a lot of knitting to me, even after I worked out that I'll quite happily knit more stitches in a shawl, but I am trying to push myself to make a few! I like the sleeves on Shadow Dial, and have added to my list of possible patterns to make when I feel up to braving another garment - bonus is that it's lace weight, so maybe it won't feel so heavy to me as I'm knitting.

5. I am currently facing the prospect of my first ever winter Christmas, do you have any favourite winter Christmas traditions?
On Black Friday, the day after the US celebrates Thanksgiving, we go to the tree farm to get our christmas tree. There have been years when it's been a balmy tee-shirt weather day, or a snowstorm, but we always go. Then we decorate for the holiday (and maybe do a bit of cyber shopping).

Thank you for answering my questions, Jennifer!
All photos are copyrighted by Jennifer Dassau

Thursday, 4 December 2014


On Monday afternoon/evening we had freezing rain, which I've heard of, but never actually seen before. There is something deeply weird about rain falling and forming icicles. Overnight on Monday we had a bit of snow, which continued intermittently throughout the day on Tuesday, while we were exploring Christmas markets. Getting into town was a bit of an adventure, apparently this was the first time ever that all of the trams have been shut down - apparently having the wires coated in ice causes a few problems...

There is something incredibly beautiful about vegetation glazed in ice.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

December is here

It is Monday, it is December, and it feels like things are starting to fall into place (somewhat).

The Christmas stocking has about half the backstitching done now, and I am hoping to finish by the end of the week. It won't be made up for this christmas though, I'm planning to just pin it to a pillowcase. I have started knitting myself a new hat, which I would like to finish before it is suddenly summer again.

We have a stack of Christmas cards to write in and post, with any luck we haven't missed the Christmas mailing dates already. Had a bit of a glitch in failing to find somewhere to print some photos I was aiming to send - apparently people don't print photos here or something? Yesterday I hunted for the right spices for the Christmas baking, and ended up with 'gingerbread spice', so it will be interesting to see how that turns out. Next step will be finding time to actually do the baking...

I think we're doing pretty well on the gift shopping front too - the boys are mostly sorted, just need to order a drink bottle for the changeling (Life Factory glass bottle, he loves his brother's one, and it will be better for long plane trips than his tiny sippy cup). We haven't got everything we'd like to find for people back home, but we either know what we're looking for and where to get it, or have no idea. There will be Christmas markets to explore throughout the month anyway. I would also like to buy some tree ornaments to bring back - until now we've had a chipmunk on top of the tree (I don't want a star or angel), but here the thing to have is apparently a spike. (What else could it be, in this city of spiky spikiness?)

The weather forecast keeps threatening snow in a week, which never quite happens. I hope we'll see some at some point during the month.