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Happy New Year!

In between my sore (but getting better) left wrist, and a looming book deadline, I’m not doing much textile work at present, but I am committed to two goals for 2009:

I won’t be able to make any progress on the second one until after this book is finished, but as far as the first is concerned, I’ve walked every day this year 🙂 AND today I’ve set up an Exer-stashers group on Ravelry, to join up with others who have trouble finding motivation to exercise, but have plenty of motivation to buy yarn!

We’ve even got a group badge (feel free to steal it for your blog if you wish):

20080105exerstashbadgewhite

All are welcome to join in!

Now, I must get back to writing… time for knitting, weaving and other yarny/fibery goodness will have to wait until the manuscript is handed in!

Now that my surgery is over (for now), I’m back from travelling, and (mostly) over the post-San Francisco cold/flu bug, I’m restarting my exer-stash commitment.

I’ll earn $1 for yarn/fibre purchases for every kilometre walked (or equivalent exercise). For each kilo I lose, I’ll earn a bonus $5 – and I’ll ‘fine’ myself the same amount if it goes back on! If I walk everyday for seven days straight, averaging at least 1.7 kilometres per day, that will earn a bonus $5.

Since I have to motivate myself to also do some serious writing, I’ll earn a bonus $5 if I write more than 2,000 words in a day.

I started yesterday, with a relatively easy 2.3 kilometres on the treadmill in 31 minutes. I’ll restart the exer-stash progress page so you’ll be able to see my progress – and check any yarn purchases reported against my stash-fund ‘earnings’!

The Exer-stash was working reasonably well, motivating me to exercise more than I would have otherwise – until my medical drama started. For the past month, and for the next month or so until surgery is over, I am not to exert myself. So, the exer-stash has to go into hiatus for a while.

However, since I now have to work solidly on writing book 2, and am having a struggle getting the concentration happening on it, I have decided that to motivate myself to write, I will turn the exer-stash program into the write-a-stash program, at least for the next month or so.

So, given my writing pace and style (I generally edit as I go, rather than write a rough draft quickly) I’m going to earn $5 for every 1000 words.

To encourage myself not to eat too much chocolate while I’m writing (and not treadmilling), I’m going to up my ‘earning’ for each kilo lost to $10. I did lose another kilo recently, but unfortunately it found me again, so I’m not claiming it – yet!

Today, the revised book wip stands at 20,425 words – not counting draft scenes from the previous version which may or may not end up in it. So, I’ve got some serious stash to earn!

And yes, there is a connection between writing and knitting – to keep my fingers from clicking on internet links, and to occupy the part of the brain that wants to be distracted, I often knit plain socks while I write. I’m not a fast writer, and do stare at the words on the screen a great deal, so, strange though it may sound, plain knitting I don’t have to think about can help to keep me focused on the story.

Now, I’m off to cast on with this:
20080527BeroccaSox

and to write at least 1000 words.

How did I go with my April goals??
1. Finish the Jo Sharp Fisherman’s gansey (only a few more inches on the front to go, then knit the collar and sew it all up) (Is there an echo in here?) – Well, almost! I’ve finished knitting the front. I’ve started knitting the collar. I’m a bit stuck on how the heck to increase 2sts at each end of every row, though. Any suggestions??

2. Finish the baby jacket (only have to do the button bands – but I hate picking up button bands, so this project has stalled too long!) – Ahem. Um. Maybe we should just proceed to the next item.

3. Finish Dad’s socks and post them to him. – Yes!!  Done, posted, received, and they fit him and he likes them.

4. Finish Kerry’s fingerless mittens. – Yes!! Done, given to Kerry, they fit her and she likes them and wore them home.

5. Start something new – a new jacket, or a lace shawl… or maybe both. I’ve got a gazillion patterns to choose from in my Ravelry queue. – Kind of. I’ve bought the Jo Sharp yarn. I’ve started a swatch.

6. Exer-stash fund: earn a bonus $10 for two kilos lost, plus walk at least 60 kilometres. Ahem. <Bron looks embarrassed>. In between gammy leg playing up, and feeling unwell, I’ve only done 17.4 kilometres this month. I haven’t weighed myself this past week, but I’ve possibly gone down another kilo.

May goals:

I’m going to be away travelling for a chunk of May, so setting many goals probably isn’t realistic. But I will set a couple:

1. Relax and enjoy the trip!

2. Select suitable knitting for travelling, and achieve something during the 5,500km we’re driving!

First, a check of how I did against my March goals:

1. Finish the Knittery merino/cashmere jaywalkers – frogged – just couldn’t get the sizing right

2. Finish the Jo Sharp Fisherman’s gansey (only a few more inches on the front to go, then knit the collar and sew it all up) – this is the gansey that never ends. I’ve knitted quite a few inches and am now up to the neckline. Only a few more inches to go. (Haven’t I heard that somewhere before??)

3. Finish the baby jacket (only have to do the button bands – but I hate picking up button bands, so this project has stalled too long!) – Ahem. (Have I mentioned how much I hate picking up stitches for button bands??)

4. Knit at least one sock in a pair for my Dad (both have to be finished in the first week of April, in time to post for his birthday.) – I’ve knitted almost half a sock. Had a bit of a panic about whether it would fit, but I think it will. Now I just have to decide what to do about the shaping.

5. Knit fingerless mittens for my friend Kerry. – I made the cabled mittens, originally for her. Then I discovered the mistake in the cable pattern, so they’re for me. Kerry has tried them on, though, and chosen red for her pair, and I’ve started them.

It wasn’t one of my goals, but I alsomade the lacy mittens for my niece, and I posted them off to her today. I’ll find out on Friday if she likes them!

Despite battling a nasty viral bug, I also walked 32.3 kilometres on the treadmill, earning $32.30 for the exer-stash fund, plus a bonus $5 for losing a kilo.

So, on to my April goals:

1. Finish the Jo Sharp Fisherman’s gansey (only a few more inches on the front to go, then knit the collar and sew it all up) (Is there an echo in here?)

2. Finish the baby jacket (only have to do the button bands – but I hate picking up button bands, so this project has stalled too long!)

3. Finish Dad’s socks and post them to him.

4. Finish Kerry’s fingerless mittens.

5. Start something new – a new jacket, or a lace shawl… or maybe both. I’ve got a gazillion patterns to choose from in my Ravelry queue.

6. Exer-stash fund: earn a bonus $10 for two kilos lost, plus walk at least 60 kilometres.

Yep, that all will keep my busy.

As of this morning, the exer-stash fund stands at $42.00. Taking into account the $23 that I ‘withdrew’ on last week’s Nundle trip, that’s a total of 65 kilometres that I’ve walked on the treadmill since 31st December.

Okay, so 65 kilometres isn’t a whole lot over two and a bit months, but it is probably about 55km better than I would have done without the motivation of my exer-stash pledge. There’s way too many more enjoyable things to do than spending half an hour a day on the dreadmill, and self-discipline in exercise has never been one of my strengths! However, the exer-stash discipline is definitely helping, although I can still find excuses not to exercise, and I’m not doing it every day.

So, to boost my motivation, I decided this morning that if I walk on the treadmill every day for seven days in a row, with an average of at least 2.4 kilometres per day, than I earn a bonus $5.00.

And what am I walking towards? I still have a reasonable stash at the moment, of yarns from The Knittery, and two pullovers worth from Bendigo, so I’m not yarn-starved, but I am planning a couple of projects that will need new yarns – I want to make a loose jacket in something like Jo Sharp’s Silk Tweed (ie, not a cheap project – probably around $140 worth of yarn) and I’ll need some contrasting yarns for two other projects I have in mind. And, of course, there’s more sock yarns from The Knittery and other places that I covet!

A friend and I had a trip on Friday to Tamworth, and Nundle Woollen Mills. We’d been to Nundle a few months ago, with our partners, but the menfolk weren’t interested in spending as much time (or money!) at the Woollen Mill as we were, so it was a bit rushed, and we decided we’d have a Girls’ Day Out. Friday was it!

We went to Tamworth first, to Spotlight, where Kerry bought some backing fabrics for her quilting. I didn’t see much to tempt me in the fabric area – I was looking for linen/cotton blends in browns, but there was nothing. In the yarn section, I was quite restrained. Firstly, because I’ve got enough for quite a few projects in the stash, but mostly because my exer-stash fund was only at $57.50, so that was my limit for yarn and fibre spending for the day! However, I did buy a ball of Moda Vera sock yarn, in varying shades of brown, for another pair of socks for my Dad for his birthday in April.

Moda Vera sock yarn

After browsing in Spotlight, we then got back in the car and headed for Nundle, which is about 54km from Tamworth, along some lovely back roads. First stop in Nundle was a coffee shop for morning tea! Then to a small pottery shop and an antique shop across the road. At the antique shop, I bought a couple of old pattern books – more on those in the next post! Then to the Woollen Mill, which was just behind the antique shop.

For those who haven’t been to Nundle, the Mill is a working woollen mill, with a gallery where you can look down on the machinery. It wasn’t operating when we were there, which I’m kinda glad of because it can be noisy and hot when it’s all going!  There’s also two large shop rooms, with plenty of yarn, including seconds and specials as well as the standard ranges, and a large selection of beautiful clothes, made of high-quality wool. I resisted the clothes on this trip, because I still haven’t lost much weight, so it’s no sense buying form-fitting clothes just as the moment. But it was a lot of fun to encourage Kerry’s wardrobe enhancement!

Yarn-wise, I bought four balls of Retro 4ply yarn, for socks.

Nundle Retro 4ply yarn

Nundle Retro 4ply yarn

After the Mill, we had lunch in the pub in the centre of town – very pleasant sitting out on the veranda watching the town go quietly by.  Then to the antique store near the pub – where I bought some more old pattern books!

All in all, it was a very pleasant day. I spent a total of $23 on yarn, so that leaves $34.50 in the exer-stash fund. I’d better get back to that dreadmill a bit more often!

Hand knitted socks. Pattern: Socks for Veronik; Yarn: Nundle 4ply Retro

I have to wear ‘sensible’ shoes most of the time, and I bought these the other day on special – thinking as I did that they’d go well with handknit socks. And they do. (I think this is the middle-aged equivalent of a little girl wearing pink frilly party socks – although I’ll be wearing mine with trousers, not a dress. So it will mostly be only me who sees them.)

Hand knitted socks. Pattern: Socks for Veronik; Yarn: Nundle 4ply Retro

I ordered sock blockers yesterday from The Knittery. I’m hoping they’ll arrive tomorrow, but it may not be until Friday.

And yes, I put in an order at The Knittery but didn’t order any more yarn. How virtuous is that? However, I’ve only earned $47.60 in my exer-stash program, and I have to earn the $70 for the gift voucher from Wool on Wheels before I can spend it, so that’s my first target. Plus, there’s the little incidental fact that I have three skeins of sock yarn from The Knittery already that I haven’t started knitting yet. (Although I’ll probably start one of them this afternoon 🙂 ) So, sock-blockers and several sets of dpns were all I ordered yesterday. It’s only fibre and yarn that I have to walk to ‘earn’, so tools are exempt. And books. Which I don’t buy very often, but there’s a shipment on its way from amazon.com at this moment. They’ll probably be at least another week away.

Project details:

Pattern: Socks for Veronik, Interweave Knits. Holiday 2007

Yarn: Nundle Woollen Mills’ Retro 4ply, shade 147, 100% pure wool

Needles: 2.75mm

Modifications: I didn’t like the toe decrease as per the pattern, so I worked side decreases every second row until 30 sts remained, then every row until 14 sts remained, then grafted.

After weeks of being buried under revisions for my book, and an unexpected trip to Canberra for the funeral of a friend, I’m finally posting pictures of the luscious yarns that I received from The Knittery at the beginning of the month.

The Knittery merino silk lace yarn

Merino silk lace yarn – this will be a shawl.

The Knittery merino cashmere sock yarn - Water Lilies

Merino cashmere sock yarn – Water Lilies shade

The Knittery merino cashmere sock yarn - Midnight

Merino cashmere sock yarn – Midnight shade

The Knittery merino cashmere sock yarn - Dark Reds

Merino cashmere sock yarn – Dark reds

The Knittery posmerino yarn - natural

Posmerino yarn – natural shade. This will be a jacket or jumper.

All  I’ve done so far with these yarns (other than some serious drooling and fondling!) is wind the red sock yarn from a skein into balls.

I’ve not done heaps of knitting lately, due to other priorities absorbing my time. I really wish one could still knit on planes, as I had a fair few hours in airports that I could have gainfully used that way, but alas, the needles had to go in the suitcase, and I didn’t get much chance to pull them out in Canberra.

The colourful jaywalker socks are half-way done in the first foot, now. The lacy Veronik socks are still only at the heel of the first sock, but now knitted for the third time – I’ve decided that 2.75mm needles are right for this, having tried both 2.5 and 3mm. However,  both the jaywalker and Veronik socks take a little too much concentration to knit while I’m writing, and since that’s about all I’ve been doing for the past couple of weeks, I haven’t made much progress.

Today I did start another, plain pair of socks, which I can knit while writing. I’m using a Patonyle ‘fairisle’ yarn that I’ve used before and love;Jade/blue/purple socks  Last time, I knitted heels and toes in a jade green, but this time I’ll do them in purple. I like these colours, and they are pleasant to knit with!

On other matters, the exer-stash fund is slowly growing – I haven’t been as good at exercising as I should have been, but I’m over $40 now.

My weaving, however, is still stalled as it has been for months. Maybe once this book is revised and in, I’ll give myself a few hours to play on the looms, and finally get them threaded so I can start to weave.

  • I now have $8 in the exer-stash fund. That’s 8km since yesterday morning (5 miles in US-speak).
  • There are now only 2769 people ahead of me in the Ravelry queue. I guess my invite will arrive sometime while I’m in Sydney
  • I threaded 56 ends through the heddles today on the plain weave warp on my baby loom that I’ve not worked on for a while (another 5 x 28 ends to go). When it’s warped, I can move the lease sticks over to the other warp draped and waiting on my small floor loom, which will be a) easier to thread, since I can do it sitting down, and b) potentially a more interesting weave (fine black wool warp, twill pattern in various coloured wefts).
  • I’ve knitted the heel flap on the lairy-coloured jaywalker sock, but I think I want to do the heel in a plain colour – I’ll just have to search my stash to find one that works.
  • Last night, I finished the sleeves for the Fisherman’s Gansey. There’s now just the front to knit.

I didn’t get a heap achieved, textile-wise, in 2007, but I’m happy with what I did in a busy year. In 2008 I’ll be giving my writing and PhD a priority, but since I won’t be working a full-time job other than those, I expect to squeeze in some relaxation time for textiles, in between editing a book, finishing another book, starting the third book, and launching and promoting the first book in September!

Some of the things I’m hoping to make in 2008 include:

  • sewing two jackets from the 2 lots of yardage I wove a few years ago – the current two warps include plain-weave sections for contrast fabrics for collars etc
  • Bianca’s jacket from the Fall 2006 IK. There’s photos here of another Bron’s completed version of this jacket. Because of my shape, I plan to make it longer, and a little fuller in the body over the hips. (Of course, if I ‘earn’ enough funds in the exer-stash to make this in silk mix rather than wool, I’ll probably have walked a fair amount off my hips 🙂 )
  • more socks – I’d like to do some different patterns, try out some different techniques. Plus my Dad likes his handknitted socks, and my sister who can only wear natural fibres probably needs some more
  • a couple more jackets/pullovers, as my existing hand-knitted ones are getting old and good only for around-the-house wear.
  • silk – weaving it, spinning it, knitting it. I think I’m suffering from silk deprivation!

That all should keep my busy and out of mischief!

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