Saturday, October 31, 2009

I’m going on a treasure hunt!

When I left Canberra for Perth in June, I had to put  most of my belongings in storage until I knew where I would be living.  Now that I have decided to stay in Perth and am about to move into a rental property, it’s time to gather all of my stuff and have it shipped over. 

I wasn’t able to store anything big, like furniture, so have “lent” my kids things like my bed, fridge, washing machine etc.  I don’t expect to ever get them back but at least I’ve been able to help them out a little.

As I remember, the boxes contain the things that I can’t get rid of.  There are albums of family photos dating back to the early 1900s, linen, books, jewellery making books and supplies and……my big box of knitting stuff!

I think I’m more excited about getting the knitting stuff back than almost anything else!  I bought quite a few Creative Knitting Australia magazines (I wonder what’s happened to that one?  I haven’t seen any new issues for ages), along with some overseas issues.  My main collection is old pattern books that I have found on eBay, Oztion and op-shops in Canberra.  I’ve found that Perth op-shops just don’t have the same range of old patterns as Canberra, which surprised me, seeing as Perth has 3 times as many people living there. 

So, being able to immerse myself in my stash of books and possibly some wool that I couldn’t fit in my suitcase is going to be great fun!  I’m a bit nervous about how much it is going to cost to get the boxes freighted over.  I might have to be ruthless with some things and get rid of some of the crafts that I haven’t touched for years, like my collection of cross stitch mags and a huge box of jewellery mags and supplies.  I loved making jewellery but just don’t think I’ll be getting deeply involved again.  I know that knitting and crochet is my main passion and will continue to be until my hands and eyes give up on me, which hopefully won’t be for a very long time.

I won’t be posting any new pics until I get back to Perth….USB cord is still there!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I’ve been busy!

I've had a bit of a rush of blood to the head in the last few days. In between trying to teach a 17yo boy how to apply for jobs – I’m doing this via msn and hotmail, and trying to sort out something for me job/house wise, I’ve been madly crocheting, partly to build up items for possible sale but also to keep improving my techniques and learning to adapt existing patterns to suit my needs.

I’ve found this to be a great way to start designing, because I have a solid base to work on and make enough changes along the way that there is nothing much left of the original pattern. There are so many generous people on the net who have posted patterns for anyone to use however they like. I’m becoming more aware that, if you look carefully, most “original” designs are based on a standard pattern type. As long as you don’t copy and market a design stitch for stitch, you can make changes to the basic shape etc. For instance, you can make a freeform bag that is based on a bag of similar measurements but by the time you have put your own touches to it, it is your design.
Anyway, while I’ve been waiting to hear if I am the successful applicant to rent a house for 3 months which will get me back into the rental system, I’ve been making some bags, slippers and the odd washcloth.
I have added a couple of these to my Ravelry account.
Market Bags
This is the first one based on a free design that I found on Ravelry. The original pattern is by Jill Chatelain, who’s blog is here Jillsknit....the pattern is here Rust Goes Green Market Bag . I found that, when joining rows as stated in the pattern, a diagonal line developed up the bag – pictured. I made a second one and worked in the round, which made the stitches look much neater. When I changed the stitch pattern for a panel or 2 (my variation) I worked a couple of half trebles (hdc) to make for a smoother gradient....I was happy with the result. I changed the handle on one of the bags as well. I used some of my extensive stash of Anchor Magicline, purchased at various Perth Spotlight branches. They are currently selling bags of 10 balls and a free pattern for $10...bargain!
You can see the diagonal line running across the design. It is only on one side but I wasn’t keen on the look.

This is the version I made in the round. You can’t quite see the adjustments that I made but it is far more subtle than the first.

Daggy Slippers
Check these out! I found the pattern somewhere (will post a link as soon as I find it!). They are officially daggy, but as they only take one 100g ball of acrylic doubled, they are super easy and quick to make. They can be a bit slippy on wood/tiled floors but as long as you are careful you shouldn't break a hip! So far I've made about 6 pairs and have given them to family and friends who happily scoot about the house in them.  I found the link!  Crochet slippers

My "Inga"Bag

This is my current favourite! It is from this pattern Inga's Crochet Bag. I made this one using Magicline and I think I made the squares 1 round bigger than in the pattern, which may be why I used 6 balls instead of 5. I lined the bag with calico. Sewing up is a bit weird, it is a bit of a puzzle but once you get the hang of what is happening it's like magic! I'm now working on a slightly smaller version (4 rounds instead of 5) in the variegated blue.

Well, this is lovely diversion from job-hunting...not! I'd better get back to it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

How to open your own wool shop when you don't have a clue!

As the title suggests, I would love to run my very own wool shop. Not just to satisfy my obsession with the stuff, but to provide a funky, welcoming environment to all knitters and crocheters, both experienced and newbies. I have a vision of a light, bright area where the walls are taken up by rows of colour and texture, with a central work/relaxation area. I would love to offer coffee and snacks as well. I'd offer lessons, knit group venue, charity knitting, guest speakers etc etc.

This is all very nice, but I've never come close to running a business in my life, unless you count some eBay selling off and on over the years. I am doing a small business course to build some skills in that area and am waiting to get accepted on a Government funded program so I can take advantage of the mentoring and support that they offer. Whilst I'd love to spend all my time for the next 12 months getting this dream into reality, there are a couple of life issues to be dealt with first.

Firstly, I'm boarding with my daughter, her fiance and their 3 month old baby. This is fine at the moment but it can't last forever. I left my job in the Public Service earlier this year due to extreme stress and finally accepted a redundancy. This, combined with selling my house in Canberra at a really good price (for the buyer!) means that I have a little cash to play with...or do I?

I've been living off this money since June this year, and I am fast approaching my bottom line. I can't get Centrelink until I've served the waiting period imposed after a redundancy. Combine this with the problem of my 17yo son, who I left back in Canberra to finish Year 12 and is taking up valuable real estate at my eldest daughter's house and I have a dilemma!

I've looked into buying a house here in Perth and even if I was working as a full time wage slave I would only be able to manage a very small mortgage, say, under 200k. I would be looking at a purchase price of no more than 250k which is almost impossible to achieve. If I was to rent I would still be paying around the same as a mortgage payment, so buying would be a better economic well as not having to endure 3 monthly rental inspections!

I've been studying various online real estate sites and found that I could pretty much afford a 3 bedroom house a *little* way out of Perth....4 - 5 hours drive! Err, no thanks. I'm a city girl, or at least a coastal town girl. Living in the middle of nowhere on my own (or with a 17yo metalhead son who needs a job) isn't my idea of a good solution.

The other option I've looked at is park home living. I've seen a few places for sale on the net and am taking a drive to Rockingham/Mandurah later in the week after the dreaded inspection, to check out some parks and see if this is a lifestyle that I could handle. I've heard good and bad about living in van parks and am a bit nervous about the whole prospect. Economically, it would allow me to live cheaply once I've bought a place and work part time while I build up my business. I think that part of Perth could sustain a wool shop too.

What if I can't go down the van park route? I have no idea! I really don't want to put aside my dream. I've spent many years as a single parent working my arse off to try and get ahead but I feel like I haven't made a dent. Sure, I have a smallish lump of cash to call my own, but that won't go far and I can't stay with my daughter forever. I'm not old enough to retire but I'm pretty nervous about going back to being an employee....the stress I was under and some of the things that happened at work are still weighing on my a nutshell, I'm not sure I'm ready to put up with bullying behaviour again, or ever for that matter.

So, I did say earlier that I'd post some pics and patterns here to get myself started in business mode. As you can see it's all words and no piccies just yet! If you are really desperate to see some of the stuff I've been doing, here I am on Ravelry.

Back to the scrubbing!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Designing is HARD!

I've been having a go at making up my own patterns with a view to offering them for sale/free on my blog and eventually in my shop, if I ever get to the point of opening it! I started with some crocheted hats, a knitted scarf, headband and washcloth.

The scarf is one that I have made up myself and is based on alternating panels of stocking stitch and a simple 4 stitch lace panel. So far it's knitting up OK. This and the other patterns that I'm working on are designed for beginners, so they can practice their basic stitches and learn new ones easily. No point trying to learn lacework by starting on a wedding ring shawl! For those who aren't familiar with this type of shawl, here is a link to Lacefreak's blog...this should say it all!

Now, I've never been one of the people who can have a flash of inspiration and create it. I love watching Project Runway and am always amazed at how the designers formulate an idea while they are still being told the challenge, then produce an amazing drawing of the finished design, which they then create from scratch. I've always been more confident letting the "experts" design and I just follow their pattern.

As I get older and maybe more patient, I'm now seeing design ideas for myself. I look at patterns and find ways I can modify it or use the basic shape and fill in the design myself. Of course, I need to respect the original designer's work and not just rip off their pattern. A lot of inspiration comes from just observing people on the street or what people are wearing on television.

The mechanics of designing aren't easy! I'm glad I've started on small items like headbands and washcloths, as they are pretty forgiving and easy to pull out and start again. I started writing out the pattern for my headband, which is loosely based on a basic rib band that increases in width as you knit. My idea is for a standard rib version with options for a cable or lace variation, which both use the same 4 stitch panel as the basic. After knitting one to fit my head, I started writing out the pattern. Once this was done and checked I began to knit from the pattern. I made sure I followed my instructions to the letter and found mistake after mistake...bear in mind this pattern should be able to be finished by beginning knitter in a couple of hours. I'm still working on the instructions after a week of typing and knitting! It's certainly taught me a lesson...just because I've come from a background of writing processes and test scripts doesn't mean I can write a knitting pattern with my eyes closed.

I'm also working on a washcloth with the word "baby" across it. I did my design using a spreadsheet and it looked pretty good. I made sure I changed the cell dimensions to represent a knit stitch and got to knitting. I used Anchor Magicline which is on special at Spotlight at the moment. $10 for a pack of 10 balls and a pattern sheet...awesome value! I'm off to check Joondalup today to see if they have any left. I raided the Innaloo store last week and bought 5 packs, but I've read on the Western Australian Ravelry group that most stores are pretty much sold out.

Anyway, by the time I'd finished the lettering I had a small square shape with an odd assortment of knit and purl stitches....didn't resemble any word I've ever seen, let alone "baby"! So, it's back to the drawing board for me. I've re-drawn it making the letters chunkier and will have another go at a test knit today.

I guess this keeps me off the streets but I'm going to have to get my butt into gear and progress my wool shop project soon....or I'll be forced to swallow my pride and go back to the ranks of wage slave.....NEVER SURRENDER!! hehehe....I love dreams...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Well what can I say? It's been a veryyyy long time between posts! My fault entirely, due to a myriad of reasons, probably the most significant one being a move from Canberra to Perth with 2 boxes and a suitcase...I've gone from being an APS6 in the public service and paying a mortgage on a 3 bedroom house in the suburbs to being unemployed and living in my daughter's 3rd bedroom! I think I may have hinted at the reasons for this earlier and I will expand in a future post (not too distant future, promise!) but for now let's just say that in many ways I have never been happier :)

Since I've been in Perth I've had time to rebuild some of my emotional energy, after a hugely stressful first 6 months of this year. I've discovered things about myself that I like, some things that I don't like, but all in all I've come to see that I am who I am, and although I am capable and willing to make adjustments to fit in socially, no-one is ever going to make me be anyone else than who I am....end of rant!

OK, next post I'll show you some of the stuff I've made since I've been here and let you in on my plans for the coming year.....which includes me opening my very own wool shop!!

Thanks for waiting :-)