Lace Kelly Gloves

All winter I’ve known I wanted, and actually needed a new pair of fingerless mittens. All previous pairs were either lost or worn through. Each morning at the bus stop as the temperature plummeted, I thought to myself why have I not knit more handwear yet?

The a few weeks ago and friend and I treated ourselves to a little splurge from Tangled Yarns. 

The lovely people who make that great wool wash, Soak, put out gift boxes that included sock yarn, specially dyed, with a bottle of Soak, a hand cream, nail polish and a pattern. It was pricey but too delicious to ignore. Each box was a different colour and I went for the teal box. The yarn was by Lorna’s Laces and when it arrived I was delighted – and also failed to photograph it.

Here, however, are the fingerless mitts which I made in the blink of an eye. The pattern is amusingly called Lace Kelly.

These photos were taken on the same day out as the last post, at the Arboretum Playground with my sisters and their offspring. All a bit of fun.

UntitledIsn’t the colour amazing? I just loved it and as someone else pointed out, the design of them is a little like cathedral windows.

If was more organised I’d have painted my nails in the matching colour but you’ll have to believe me when I tell you my toenails are teal green and the mitts were washed in lovely Soak and my hands are soothed by the cream.

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If you come across the Soak gift boxes, they’re delightful for a friend or as a splurge for yourself. A lovely idea with a nice range of colours and patterns. The kind of marketing I was happy fall victim to. The whole thing just made me happy.

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And in the morning at the bus stop, I’m able to tap away on my phone or rifle through my bag for my bus pass with warm hands. Fingerless mitts obviously don’t work in all climates but on mornings when it’s extra especially cold, I just tucked my fingers inside them – they’re just loose enough.

And I like the name – Lace Kelly. It’s kind of cute.

Bells

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Hats galore!

As the school holidays approached, I set about quickly knitting a couple of hats for Alice and her cousin Willem. Willem was coming to Canberra for the school holidays, an event that’s happened twice now and I’m sure will happen next year. He’s getting older now (nine, for those of you who have been reading since 2006 when he was but a toddler!) and is confident enough to come interstate for the holidays.

The first hat off the needles was a repeat knit for Alice. Queenie by Woolly Wormhead. I’ve made this a few times now. The first I made for her has worn thin; the second was sadly lost the day we chased the Skywhale all over town. This time I made it from some green Zara i had in the stash. Alice, who nearly always sings the praises of anything purple, declared green her new favourite colour. So easily pleased at four, aren’t they?

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I love this hat so much and I’ll happily knit it over and over though Zara does knit up at a slightly finer gauge than DK so it’s turned out a little small.

I handed it to Alice who said ‘It’s quite small.’ Oh. Is it now? Well she is starting to be able to judge these things so why not say so? It fits, but snugly.

Next was a stripey hat for Willem. He had seen the rainbow stripes of Alice’s legwarmers and said he wanted a rainbow hat. I am nothing if not compliant on such matters and so I bought some Noro in a suitably rainbowy colourway and before I knew it, practically overnight, I had finished a Luuk hat for him. What a fun knit!

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It almost didn’t happen though. Right near the end, the Noro Kureyon ran out and I was on the verge of ripping when Sean said ‘no no surely you have something in a similar weight and tone you can finish it off with?’ He was right, you know. I was too impulsive. I quickly found some Canopy by the Fibre Company in a suitably matching grey and the crown was finished.

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I think it works. It’s not perfect but it’s a good enough match for me. Willem and his parents all thought it was very stylish and a good fit for him. A bit 9yo boy does hipster, yes?

We had a wonderful few days together. Alice and Willem are as thick as thieves and they kept our usually quiet house alive with the most insane silly talk I’ve ever heard. Delightful in every possible way.

The highlight of the visit was, for me at least, the ice skating. Set up in the city, the temporary rink was at first scary but by the end of the 90 minute slot, I was the last one on skates (having never skated before, mind you!).

Ice skating in the cityWe had a ball. Happiness is making memories such as these, isn’t it?

Bells

Rainbow Legwarmers

In among the few big projects I’ve got going on, I’m trying to churn out a series of smaller instant-gratification items, which is all very well until your small items start to radically out number the big projects. At that point I ask myself if I’m just procrastinating on the big items. Yeah. Maybe.

This one was fun. For a long time now Alice has obsessed about rainbows. And when we were at the Wool Markets a while back, she was continually drawn to wool that was in ‘lots of colours’. She’s four. She’s allowed to be drawn to loud, clashing colour mixes. I wasn’t sure I wanted to knit an entire rainbow coloured garment so the idea of legwarmers came to me. I finished the second one today  in the car on the way to collect her for an outing.

UntitledAnd yes Amy and Donna Lee I know I haven’t patched her jeans yet! Today was the first time I’ve seen her since the last photo of unpatched jeans and today was only a short outing. Next time.

I think i underestimated just how covered in sand and tan bark they’d get today but never mind. I only used 42g of 100g Zauberball so I reckon I’ll be knitting replacements somewhere down the line.

We took Alice to a special playground opening today. An event that we’d all been anticipating for some time. You may recall last year we took her to an opera in the park event at the still-new National Arboretum. The arboretum (you should hear her say it – it’s so cute) has been built to replace the expanse of forest that was destroyed in the fires that tore through Canberra ten years ago. It’s controversial and beautiful).

When we heard that the wonderful new playground was opening today, we made sure we went along. The below freezing temperatures of the early morning gave way to a glorious blue sky day and allowed for hundreds of children to go wild.

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These giant acorns are just one part of the playground. Climbing up into them was a challenge for many kids – more than a few found it a bit overwhelming and high and had to be rescued but Alice and many others were just the right age for it and more than ready for the challenge.

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Standing below I could hear her saying to herself ‘You can do it, Alice! You can do it!’ And she did do it, with all the ecstatic triumph afterwards of a brave and successful climber.

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You may remember in the last post I said I’d lost one of the legwarmers? I found it that afternoon, hiding under a hat on the bench. They’re so little, so easily lost. All the ribbing pulls in tight and makes them look, unworn, like skinny rainbow snake skins. Today she jumped, and fell, and scraped her legs along the ground and I was reminded how very rough and energetic children can be at play. I really don’t imagine they’ll last long but then her love of bright, gaudy colours (this colourway is aptly called Tropical Fish) won’t last forever either.

I’m quite taken with the Zauberball as something fun to knit with though. It’s soft and lush and the colours are eye poppingly fun to watch as they come off the ball.

I got stuck at Parliament House during Question Time last week and had to kill 90minutes waiting to get a job done and so I sat in the courtyard and worked on the second legwarmer. To be working on such vibrant knitting in the quiet, shady courtyard while our leaders took part in the pre-election circus made me smile.

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The pattern was just a simple rib tube found here. I made them a little shorter than the pattern since I wanted them from knee to ankle, not thigh to ankle as the pattern seemed to suggest.

Alice thinks I need some, too. I think the jury is out on that decision.

Bells

Guest Interview at Suzy Hausfrau

Just a note to let you know that today you can find an interview I did with Suzy Hausfrau on her blog over here.

Suzy Hausfrau is a great local yarn business owner and blogger. She is doing wonderful things for the Canberra knitting scene and beyond.

She’s featuring knitters all week in her series for World Wide Knit in Public Day and I loved having the chance to contemplate questions about my knitting history, my stash and projects that have been meaningful to me.

In it I mention the scarf I made for my dad when I was five. My mum told me this moring that he remembers the scarf and describes it has having been ‘quite a loose weave.’ Mum told him no that wasn’t it. It was full of holes, as most scarves knitted by five year olds probably would be. Still, it was nice that he remembered it!

I’ll leave with a current work in progress – rainbow legwarmers for Alice. At the moment this one, lonesome legwarmer is actually missing. I think I lost it. Stay tuned.

Alice with one leg warmer.

I hope you enjoy the interview.

Bells

The Wool Markets

It was a week ago now, but I very much want to write about a special day last weekend when Alice and I had our second outing to what she has affectionately come to know as “The Wool Markets”.

Once a year the Old Bus Depot Markets in Canberra (a weekly market for gifts, crafts and other treasures) holds a Celebration of Wool Day. Local and not so local yarn fanatics come together to celebrate the wonder of wool and, of course, other natural fibres.

I took Alice last year when she was just three and the way she took to the sensuality of touching wool, of calling everything ‘smooshy’ was so impressive. I realised that day she really seemed to have absorbed something of the love of fibre and knitting from me. Ever since then ‘the wool markets’ has been something we’ve spoken about and revisited, building up to a crescendo of excitement in recent weeks.

We covered ourselves in handknits on a cold Sunday morning last week in readiness for our outing. A hat each and a scarf or shawl, we admired ourselves and felt we looked the part. Sean snapped us outside the markets entrance before we met Olivia and her niece.

Old Bus Depot Celebration of Wool DayAmusingly, once inside Alice declared ‘but not everything is made of wool!’ Their funny little brains are so intriguing. I realised in her imagination was a room full of entirely wool-made things. Possibly even the walls and floors. How good would that have been?

Alice and I in knitwear, heading to the Celebration of Wool day.

We were so happy. There was so much to look forward to. Alice has been really expressing more and more interest in all things knitting related lately (and if anyone has tips on teaching under 5s to knit, crochet or do any other related crafts like sewing, finger knitting etc, I’d love to hear from you!) so this really felt like an opportunity to dive into a world we could share together for a few hours.

We spent a vast amount of time at the beginning at the Suzy Hausfrau stall. If you don’t know Suzy (not her real name), you ought to. Local former pharmacist turned yarn providore, she’s doing a great trade in imported yarns, whipping up a frenzy of enthusiasm for a new kind of local yarn store. She’s Canberra’s breath of fresh air and while loitering, I turned to find the next generation of enthusiast, in the form of Alice, talking yarn with a woman i didn’t know.

Old Bus Depot Celebration of Wool Day
Imagine my pride and heart swelling joy when I saw Alice stroke a skein of yarn and tell a stranger ‘some wool is scratchy and some is very soft,’ with all the earnest sincerity of a seasoned yarn lover.

That’s my girl, I beamed inwardly. She spoke the truth and I think I have never been prouder. That’s a story to file away for future years, for sure.

Old Bus Depot Celebration of Wool Day

In the end it all became a bit much though and Sean was on standby to come and grab her so that I could finish a spot of shopping. I do love remembering how an online friend I’d never met in real life spotted me because she heard me calling out to Alice and thought ‘that has to be Bells and Alice.’ It was us and we loved spending the morning with friends and fibre lovers.

Old Bus Depot Celebration of Wool Day

We had a wonderful morning and I must say that having her there meant good things for my budget. Spending the morning with her meant I spent less than I might have otherwise – but I did spend and I did come home with smooshy goodness and that’s no bad thing.

Can’t wait til next year when maybe, by then, Alice will have the patience to be a knitter herself.

Bells

Skywhale

Do you know what a Skywhale is?  No? Until a few a days go I didn’t know either and it’s fair to say, neither did most of Canberra.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, 2013 is the centenary of our lovely city, Canberra. Throughout the year there are many ways to celebrate. I don’t think I’m alone in saying that no one knew that a giant Skywhale was on the cards – not among the classical concerts and the light shows. The organisers kept that very close to their chests. It’s fair to say that the glorious creature has been divisive nationally, but most especially in Canberra itself. Here is the Skywhale (photo by Sean).

SkywhaleShe appeared with her enormous, beguiling breasts over our city and I don’t think any of us knew at first what to make of her. What had she to do with our centenary? What did she say about Canberra? What was the point?

I’ve said a few times to people, if a balloon had been designed for us that in some way actually symbolised our city, it probably would have been safe, potentially boring and we’d have all said ‘gee that’s nice’ and moved on.

The skywhale has divided the city. The skywhale has been the water cooler talking point that divides the crowd because of her cost and because anything that is called art always will. Somehow I think if no one attached the word art to the skywhale, people might not feel there was such a need to have an opinion. We might just have accepted her as a novelty.

But yesterday, on her second flight, we had Alice with us and in the morning we became whale hunters. We followed along on twitter for reports of where she was and how she was travelling. It became one of the most exciting adventures we’ve ever had with Alice. Sean became our navigator. Alice cheered from the back seat and when we first spotted her, high in the clear blue sky, it was a moment we’ll long remember as the moment we first saw the skywhale, a moment we shared completely.

All across the city, we passed cars parked in opportune places trying to catch a glimpse of this most odd looking creature. We found her eventually, parked in Manuka in a locked field. She was there. She was huge. She was incredible. As Alice’s mum later said ‘our new overlord looked hungry.’ I think she looked hungry for acceptance and understanding. The people who gathered beneath her got her. You can’t look into that face and not feel something. Anything. I don’t think revulsion is what happened. Not for those who bothered to find her.

Skywhale

You know what I think is the real triumph of the skywhale? It’s this. For a city such as Canberra, a city perceived nationally as so very dull, we have risen to prominence for something other than politics, something more than taxes and safe predicatability. We have risen, thanks to the Skywhale, to show ourselves as being symbolised by something entirely unsafe, unpredictable and amazing. An ordinary, predictable balloon would have made the audience clap and move on to the next big thing.

The skywhale, with her mammaries which claim to be a comment on nature and genetic modification, floats magnificently above our autumnal city and brings us all together. Whether you love her or not, when you look and talk about the Skywhale, you are joined in a communal conversation and for a city so defined by divisive politics, that is no small achievement.

SkywhaleAfter the skywhale landed yesterday, and after the crowds had admired and cheered, we saw her come down. Because she’s so big, because she has so many chambers, bringing her down is no simple matter. Children were encouraged join in.

She touched down, breasts first, most amusingly.

Skywhale

And then the real fun began. I fear regular jumping castles will pale into insignificance after a morning spent jumping on a slowly deflating skywhale.

Deflating the skywhale

It seemed to take hours. We all took off our shoes and got in on the act. Alice, like the other children gathered, lived and breathed the magic of the moment. Rolling, jumping, flinging herself onto any bubbles that appeared in the fabric and then, suddenly, the skywhale was no more. She was a long, sausage shape on the ground, being carefully rolled into her protective casing.

But the magic lived on. In the afternoon we were tired. Alice made a collage of a girl looking at the skywhale. We rang her grandparents and described how she flew and what the chase was like. She could hardly get the words out, such was her excitement and wonder.

This morning she repeated the stories and relived the experience. Somehow, I think in years to come Canberra’s centenary will become defined by a giant whale with ten enormous breasts.

Who could have predicted it.

SkywhalePersonally, I love our skywhale (Alice actually christened her Ashleigh, but I don’t think it’s going to catch on) and I was not sure at first. I’m a convert.

Bells

Canberra 100: A Very Big Day

2013 is a special year for Canberra. It’s the centenary of the decision to name Canberra the Australian Capital and a year’s worth of celebrations are planned.

The centrepiece of the centenary happened last week on the Canberra Day long weekend and it was one of those beautiful autumnal Canberra days where the sun shone, people gathered on Lake Burley-Griffin and we celebrated our beautiful city.

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Sean and I took advantage of the special free bus services set up for the day and headed down to Regatta Point where these enormous white balloons hovered in the bluest of skies – they spelled out WELCOME and were effective in helping create a vibe of expectation and arrival.

From there we walked, with thousands of other people, around the lake, taking in the stunning views, enjoying the feeling of movement and life. To see so many people gathered in the open like that was pretty spectacular.

In the afternoon we had tickets to one of the key events of the day. The World’s Longest Bubbly Bar. All along the shoreline in front of the High Court and the National Library and Questacon, a fenced off area held an 800m long table at which those who had managed to get tickets (we bought early!) were treated to a glass or two of a special Centenary Sparkling wine and a tapas platter featuring local and very delicious produce.

bubbly bar

I took this as we first arrived, before the long tables had all been filled.

For over an hour we sat in the sun, a light breeze blowing in off the lake and took in the view. If there’s one thing I can say about the day it’s that this space on the lake is not used enough. What a treat it was to sit and eat and drink in the sun, with boats sailing past on which musicians played and celebrated! Why we don’t do more with this space is a mystery and I hope our centenary has shown us what more we can do with our city.

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I of course had to knit.

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Much has been written about the varying success of the day. It was never going to be everybody’s cup of tea. It was always going to be a bit unsure about meeting everyone’s vision. Tara of In the Taratory has written a good review of the day which captures some of what worked and what didn’t.

All in all I think the day worked really well – we certainly had a lovely time, though we were a bit sad we didn’t have Alice with us. We had decided already not to take her because of our tickets to the bubbly bar in the afternoon. But the rest of the day, with fun activities for children, lots of sunshine and blue sky and walking would have been great, though I understand some people felt that children were not well catered for. Some felt there were not enough structured activities but honestly, seeing thousands of people walk around the lake in bright sunshine was a memory I’ll keep with me for a long time. There should be more of it.

So happy birthday to my home, Canberra. Given we’re only 100 years old, I think we have a lot of scope to figure out more of what we want to be and how to do it.

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Bells