Thursday, January 31, 2008

My First Felting Project (Part I)

While roaming around on Ravelry a few days ago (most favourite passtime of all), I came across this great pattern for a felted laptop computer case. I've never felted a knitted project before, but have wanted to for ages.

So, like a good girl, I did lots of reading about knitting items for felting.

I had five balls of Plymouth Boku that I bought on sale last year, and knew that it would be perfect for this project. The Boku is 95% wool and 5% silk. Under normal knitting circumstances, I would use a 4.5mm circ needle for this yarn, but when felting, you have to allow for shrinkage. So, a 6.5mm circ it is!
This morning I knitted my swatch ... very important to swatch when felting! Then I put the swatch into a lingerie bag and into the washing machine it went (together with some laundry I had to do).

I checked the swatch every five minutes to see how the felting process was going. After 20mins on a hot wash cycle, my swatch was beautifully felted with just a tiny bit of stitch definition.

The swatch was 20 stitches x 30 rows. The felted swatch was 5.5ins across x 4.1ins top to bottom.

My laptop is 30ins x 22ins (circumferences). Therefore, I will be casting on 110 stitches this evening!

This should be a fairly quick knit because I'll be knitting it in the round (knit one row, purl the next) for 82 rows, then casting off half the stitches and doing some decreasing for 32 rows for the flap.

Then I sew the bottom, felt the cover and VOILA! One drop dead gorgeous laptop cover! My laptop will be the envy of the neighbourhood HEHEHEH!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

My African Violet Addiction

I have grown and been in love with African Violets for about 14 years. My addiction (yes, I admit it!) began innocently enough with just one lovely little blue and white thumb-print violet.

Over the years, my hobby has grown into a wonderful collection of plants that bring me much joy.

I grow my many violets on a large three-tiered plant stand in my office. There are six 4ft fluro lights; three grow lights and three cool whites. The plant stand is not only a wondrous display of colour, but it generates lots of fabulous heat and light in my otherwise cool little office. The lights are on a timer that is set to come on at 9:30am and go off at 7:30pm.

My favourite violets of all are "chimeras". Chimeras are distinctly different to standard African Violets because they cannot be propogated via a leaf cutting! They will only bloom true via crown or sucker propogration. Although their foliage appears like that of traditional violets, their blooms are characterised by beautiful pinwheel patterns in two colours.

My favourite violet foliage type is "variegated" (which usually means multi-coloured). There are many kinds of variegation, patterns and colours. At the top of my pick list is pink, white and green variegation; especially when the violet blooms are dark blue.

My favourite violet bloom colour is red, with double and frilly petals. And my favourite kind of bloom type is "fantasy". Fantasy blooms are typically blooms that have dots, splashes or streaks of another colour in them.

These blooms are very unstable, and often when you propograte a leaf cutting from a fantasy violet, you will get far less (if any!) fantasy markings on the blooms. Again, the best propogation method is from a sucker or crown cutting.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Home Down Under

I had the great fortune to visit my family for almost four weeks over Christmas/New Year. My family is made up of my Mum and Dad (they live in Grafton, NSW), my brother and his family (they live in Brisbane, QLD) and my sister and her family (they live is Lismore, NSW).

During my flights (Toronto to Sydney) I was allowed to knit to my heart's content. Once I got to Australia though I had to check my knitting needles through with my big luggage.

I began my visit in sunny Queensland – and where was the sun??? Serves myself right for boasting abut 30°C days to my friends in Ontario (where I reside). My brother, his wife, his two girls (Jaycee 2½ and Karlia 4½ yrs old) and I stayed at Kirra Beach. Despite the weather, we still had an awesome time at Seaworld, Dreamworld and White Water World. Gotta love those themeparks – cost a fortune to go to though. The weather wasn’t great, but at least it didn’t rain – just kept looking as though it would.

I got my fill of all the great eats – vegemite, mangos, hot cinnamon donuts, creaming soda, macadamia nut ice-cream, Cadburys chocolate (is there any other kind!!), meat pie, bee sting pie, avocado, prawns, fresh fish, tropical fruits and fresh salads.

The next leg of my journey was to Grafton, NSW where my Mum and Dad live. Lots of R&R there and catching up on much needed sleep. Two little girls who get up at the crack of dawn can really take it out of you! I can still hear “Aunty Isa” ringing in my ears (laughing).

Two highlights from my visit to Grafton were firstly a visit from my dearest school friend, and secondly a trip to Coffs Harbour – home of the big banana and some of the best beaches. I had morning tea with my Mum at Kookaburra Kafe – this lovely cafĂ© was made popular when Russell Crowe (yum, yum hunk) visited it after he got married nearby!). The weather wasn’t great – on and off showers with some sunshine and days around 25°C.

My third week was spent with my sister, her partner and their 3½ yr old, Emily. Oh but was the weather miserable. It rained and rained and then it flooded! The flood water went as high as 8.5m (that’s 25.5ft for you imperialists). So we all spent lots of time colouring, painting, cutting, pasting, finger painting and drawing. I of course got lots of knitting done!

We still had lots of fun together and managed a trip to Pacific Fair (huge shopping Mall at the Gold Coast), Ballina by the beach, and Evans Head Beach.

The last part of my visit was Brisbane. While I was there I naturally shopped for loads of chocolate to take back to Canada. And of course, there was the obligatory ugg boot shopping! I tracked down one good yarn store in Brisbane – Threads and More. I got some neat Aussie yarn from them.

Then came the umpty-gazillion flights from hell. I wasn't allowed to pack my knitting needles in my hand luggage in Australia, so no knitting until I board my San Francisco flight for Toronto. So I read a book instead "My Steve" by Terri Irwin. It's the story of the Crocodile Hunter. I haven't finished the book yet; but I know how it ends and am dreading the massive tears!

32 hours and 9 time zones later I was back London Ontario. And lucky me – I got a bonus souvenir – a rotten cold (ugh!).