Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A cure for cold feet


Pattern from Ysolda (its only free for the next few days so go download a copy from Ravelry now :D )

Yarn from my yarn swap fairy
"Mavis". Hand dyed felted merino which was lovely to knit with, the colours are so deep and just gorgeous. Thanks so much!!!

The knitted fabric isn't particularly robust so I wouldn't call these slippers - I just wanted some little slip ons for my cold feet while I sit on the couch in the evenings to knit. These fit the bill nicely.


Three little girls watching the foot photography also wanted a turn. So some more "footraits"


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

FO: Stacked Eyelet Cowl

I have a dear friend living in London, who is a sweetie and always sending my girls "London" gifts. Her birthday is Christmas Eve (poor thing) and since they are heading into Winter over there I thought I would make her a woolly neck warmer for her birthday this year.

I had *one* ball of Twilley's of Stamford Freedom Spirit in my stash with nothing particular in mind .....

Stacke Eyelet CowlStacked Eyelet Cowl

It began as a plain stocking stitch cowl with a moss stitch border until I saw Carol's stacked eyelet cowl. The eyelets are so simple but give such a nice effect - and a bit of structure I think this soft and delicate yarn probably needed. Great pattern - nice and easy (my knitting in the dark project) and a good choice for yarn like this that does all the patterning work for you. I used a little over one ball.....

There is a pic of the cowl laid flat here.

I am so blessed to have lovely friends on the other side of the world who keep in touch over the years despite the miles between us.

I am also blessed to have crafty friends who answer your call (by courier even!) for more yarn when you run out and no LYS in town stocks the wool you need. Thank you Jen!!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Long weekend

We've just had a long weekend here (Labour Day - which is like a 'workers' holiday - of course in my profession there is no such thing as a day off - but nice to have DH home for an extra day and have some family time).

I got lots of knitting done - finished off some projects, made 3 (!) squares for M's blanket and even got some swatching done. The sun was out yesterday and I managed to get my vegetable seedlings in - let's hope there are no late frosts now!!

My Mum was also up visiting. This means only one thing...a trip to the yarn store!

Mum bought some wool to make this adorable sweater for M1 (Rav link) - from Zoe Mellor's Adorable Knits for Tots. I've loved this for ages so luckily I was able to talk her into doing the pattern I liked - thanks Mum!!

I was wanting to sort my wool for Cherry but they didn't have the colour I wanted. Luckily a quick trip to Spotlight on the way home resulted in a cardigan's worth of Serenity finding its way home with me. I flagged the 'buy myself a knitting book for Christmas' idea and got yarn instead hehe. (I've even swatched it about keen!). The only sad bit is realising I'm not going to be able to make a start till I get through the very long list of Xmas knitting

Serenity by Patons

I also bought a ball of Soy/Cotton - its by Yarn Bee called "Down to Earth "- just wanted to try it out. There are also a couple of other interesting blends in the range including a bamboo/cotton (much cheaper than Serenity but they didn't have a red sadly) and an acrylic/cotton. I'm a sucker for trying out a new yarn. I've knitted with bamboo and corn fibre, now soy...wonder what they'll be making yarn out of next!!!

Down to Earth

Was it a holiday for you too? How did you spend your long weekend?

My favourite(s)

The lovely Aussie girls have been posting their favourite knits so I thought I would join in.

My most favourite knit? Easily easily easily my Central Park Hoodie


This was my first proper for me more than a skein knit. I loved the pattern, the cable pattern and that there was just enough going on to keep me interested but the cables weren't that difficult. The Bendigo Rustic 12ply was a dream to knit, dense and warm and just a gorgeously smooth yarn with no dodgy bits in it anywhere. (also very quick to arrive over here and a nice price). I have worn this so many many times - a completely wearable and very comfortable knit. It really was a great yarn/pattern choice for my first ever 'for me' knit. Totally LOVE it.

Runner up place goes to these little cuties

We kept the blue one and the other two went off to new homes. These were such a fun knit -I couldn't stop after just one. A great way to use up little bits of leftovers. So cute.

And because I couldn't stop at just two favourites, number three is the little overalls I made for M when I was pregnant. These were made before the blog and are from the Cleckheaton 10 Simple Baby Knits in 8 ply book ( a wonderful inexpensive pattern book for simple but sweet baby knits). I made the 3mth size but my not so little 9lb9oz bubba fitted them from a couple of weeks.

Purple and green may be an unconventional choice for a new baby but its one of my favourite colour combos, and was a suitably bright unisex choice for 'we don't know what we're having'. I also made her a matching side opening cardigan from the same book in green with purple.


I loved these so much I put them away in her memory box.

What's your most favourite knit? Leave me a comment so I can visit and admire!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Faltering at the Finish Line FLS is finished. And yet, unfinished.


I used every single inch of my 10balls and instead of being able to finish the sleeves with an inch of garter ala the pattern , I only managed a couple of rows. And I have nothing left to even sew the buttons on. I bought this wool off Trademe and the person didn't have anymore.

Luckily I found a NZ stockist who is sending me an extra ball tomorrow. Fabulous service and they are only charging me actual postage. Yay! I am impressed and relieved. It won't be the same dye lot but at this point I really don't care.

This sweater has been plagued with 'issues'. I am beginning to think it is jinxed.

I had such high expectations, buoyed on the recent successes that were my CPH and Wicked. My first forays into knitting for myself had gone so well but third time has proved to be anything but lucky.

I only hope that once its done and dusted I'll be able to forgive and forget.

Damn it better look good.

In the meantime I've already moved on to planning my next knit.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fun for free

Making huts with blankets - "hiding from a bear" - and enjoying an afternoon snack

FO: Argyle Vest

Argyle FO

Argyle Pullover from Special Knits by Debbie Bliss.
This is the third pattern I've made from this book - I love the little accents and embellishments that make the knits in the book just a little special and generally I've found the sizing to be a little more realistic that some other Debbie Bliss patterns I've tried (ie they actually fit the size given and don't have 2 inches of postive ease).

Spotlight's Merino 8ply - 1.2 balls of main colour and a tiny bit of 2 contrast colours (pattern size is 3-6mth). This yarn is labelled as an 8ply however it is very fine and to me feels more like 5ply. I bought this with the intention of using it as a (much less expensive!) sub for Baby Cashmerino - I got pattern gauge with the recommended needles so I think my yarn fondling skills are not so shabby after all.

The fiddly bit
I love how this turned out, very cute indeed. The argyle is fiddly but not terribly difficult - I think it makes it look quite smart . My first completed Christmas present - for new nephew K. I'm feeling very organised right now!
Rib bands

This vest has made me realise that perhaps I'm maturing as a knitter - the pattern just says "decrease at each end..." or " decrease at neck edge for..." and yet I knew that if I did fully fashioned decreasing (ie one stitch in from the edge) it would look neater and would be easier to pick up stitches for neck and arm bands later. And that I could make the decreases slope the right way by doing ssk on one side and K2tog on the other. I took "sew up side seams" to mean do this in mattress stitch for an invisible seam. I also chose to reverse the colours of the argyle on the front so that the colours would alternate properly all the way round the vest. I also added 2 extra stitches to either side of the front because my colour work was just one stitch from the edge- I knew once I seamed I'd get a messy bit where the colour blocks would be too close to each other so added in a little allowance for the seam.

I know none of this is exactly rocket science but I'm pretty pleased I could execute some little techniques to make this FO "hand made" rather than "home made" without having to have it all spelled out.

Argyle Vest FO

Argyle is...

Very fiddly indeed (although nothing compared to knittyvritti's masterful effort)


I had hoped by now to have finished my FLS but I havent been well and definitely not up to dreaded gull lace.... just one sleeve to go!

I started the Argyle Vest from Special Knits which will become a Christmas present for my new nephew who was born this month. Once you get past the fiddly bits it was plain sailing and perfect for recuperation knitting on the couch. Its blocking as I type so there'll be a FO post tomorrow!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Books and books and books

A little unscheduled blogging break there but I'm back now and flu free (well, on the mend at least)

My mother was a librarian so I guess growing up with a love for books was inevitable. Sadly since having kids 2 and 3 my appetite for books has dwindled from several a week to several a year. One thing I definitely miss from my Before The Kids days... but I know in a few years I'll be able to get back to it. For now, I indulge in reading knitting books instead of novels.

My latest library haul
Library Haul
Some absolute gems there. Not at all helping my already out of control Ravelry queue! Also nabbed a copy of Handknit Holidays which a couple of people recommended when I was asking about a knitting book to treat myself to so will be great to have a look through.

My very impressive stack of books from the school fundraising garage sale this weekend. Not sure when these will get read but some nice additions to my book collection. Three (!) Barbara Erskine books (my favourite author) plus a brand new looking copy of Gordon Ramsay's Playing with Fire (I have a little crush)
Books for me

Ones for the kids too! Some great finds including A Dark Dark Tale by Ruth Brown which the kids love to read at Nans, very cool to have our own copy now.

Kids books 1

And another haul, this time from our playcentre garage sale (yes it's been a book thrifting weekend bonanza)
Kids books 2

And finally, the one I will cherish the most. Darling M6 spent her own money to buy me this one she spotted and thought I would like. What a sweet girl (she also bought a little toy each for N3 and M1).
Designer Knits

You can never have enough books :D

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Lady and I

The Lady and I have not really 'hit it off' and although much progress has been made it has been a bit of a slog. Currently I am at the 'not really happy with it but hoping as an FO it will grow on me' stage. Knitting this has definitely had its moments.

There's the bit where my buttonholes look like a dogs breakfast even though I followed the instructions AND put them evenly spaced, they still look a bit dodgy. When its buttoned up it won't be obvious (or so I keep telling myself).

There was also the part where I had to frog it back and redo a few rows - including the part where you separate the sleeves - let me tell you that was NOT fun!

And there is the bit (I've only just noticed) where my lace goes a bit wonky for a repeat (or two?). Its at the top of the lace section (of course). Ripping it back is not an option because if I did that there would be no way I would ever cast on for this again. The only thing that is keeping me at it, is that I've managed to get more than halfway through after a week, and so although a bit tedious, it is coming along quite quick. I checked my (obvious to me) mistake out with my non knitting DH and he laughed and assured me it really isn't obvious. So I'll leave it I think and just never wear this in front of my knitting friends who might want to check it out up close!

Sometimes I must remind myself that most people do not knit and are not going to realise your gull lace is wrong for a repeat.
And me, well you should know by now, I can live with a little mistake or 2.

The Gull Lace pattern is hideous in the extreme. When I read this I knew things were not looking good. I don't find the pattern intuitive and every few lacey rows I have to tink back to a mistake. It just doesnt seem to gel with me for some reason. I'm hoping the sleeves (in the round so no purling) might go a bit faster

Anyway heres the progress shot. Few more good slogs at this and I'll be done I think. I'll reserve my final judgement till then

February Lady Sweater

Here's a pic of the garter stitch bodice. This one's a good one of the colour.
Bodice, garter stitch

And one of the dreaded gull lace. Outside I couldn't get the camera to show the lace very well so although this one is quite dark and dull the lacey pattern shows up a bit better I think
Gull lace

I've been looking at other February Lady Sweaters on Ravelry and I'm also thinking that perhaps I haven't been purling my YOs correctly as my lace 'holes' don't seem to be as obvious. Either that or I am just looking too hard for something else wrong with this cursed sweater

Works in Progress

At the moment I think I'm being very restrained. I'm only working on two projects at the moment.

Usually my knitting WiPs fall into categories - I like to have a couple of things on the go at all times so there is always something to work on that suits my knitting mood (yes I have knitting moods!) and knitting situation (kids asleep or kids annoying me every few rows).

At the risk of sounding incredibly geeky, on the go I usually like to have at least one of each of the following:

- A BIG project - something with a pattern, requires some concentration, the stakes are higher as are expectations (and usually cost of course)

- A Knitting in the Dark project - I dont usually knit in the dark but I have seen people refer to their WiPs in this way. They are the easy ones where you might not need a pattern, something that you can pull out anytime and work a few rows. Mine are usually on small circulars so they transport easily and I can pull out if I am stuck waiting somewhere. Perfect for TV watching or for taking to knitting nights where there is a lot of chatting while knitting.

- Swaps and Gifts - I usually always have one of these on the go too. They are usually not really difficult but because they are for others there is a certain level of responsibility and care required. I also usually stress myself out with these ones angsting about whether said gift is liked/fits/useful/appreciated.

Other "categories" include:

- Instant Gratification- usually straight after finishing a BIG thing I like to do something that is done and dusted in just one night. Baby knits, dishcloths that sort of thing. Quick and painless where the most important thing is an FO right NOW

- Long term - not really my thing but you know sometimes you have a BIG thing that is also going to take a LONG time. Baby blankets or a shawl or something like that. Do a bit here and there but its going to be a long term investment

- What was a I thinking? - I think we all have one of those from time to time

-Just had to. Not planned but one that jumps the queue because you just couldn't resist the CO call

Have I missed a category?

So, at the moment I am knitting:

Knitting in the Dark
A cowl for my friend in London who is heading into Winter. Its just plain stocking stitch in the round. Easy, a bit boring but perfect for taking to my knitting nights where there is a lot of chatting. Her birthday is December so there is also no pressure with this one, just a few rows here and there when I need some mindless knitting.

BIG project.
My FLS. Its coming along. I will take some WiP pics today and show you tomorrow.

I've also "un-hibernated" M's baby blanket with the intention of giving it to her for Christmas. I have 10 plain black (ugh) squares to knit over the next 2 months. I won't call it a WiP just yet because so far all I've done is pull it out and revise my plans to a smaller sizes blanket in the hopes I might actually finish it before she turns 21. So, a long term to be finished over the short term (I hope).

Are you a one project knitter? Or like me knit-monogamy is not your thing? Care to fess up how many you have on the go?

One Skein

Every trip to the library for kids books results in me bringing home yet another big pile of knitting books. Last lot included Leigh Radford's One Skein. Usually I get a big pile of books out but never actually knit anything out of them. Nice for a browse and some inspiration but that's about it usually.

One Skein was great though, my kind of knits...lots of little things!!

I'd seen Julie's cool Petal Bib a few weeks ago and thought I would give it a try...


Very cute and actually I think it would even be functional too! It's a nice big size and made from cotton for maximum dribble absorbency. I used about half a ball of Peaches and Creme cotton that I got via Leah from the US earlier this year. This one went off to Beck as well (she's got her package now so I'm all Ok for showing the things I made for her).


It's a pity M1 is really past the dribble/smear food everywhere/need a bib for every meal stage otherwise I'd be very tempted to make her one too!

The other pattern from One Skein I'd love to try is the felted bowls (rav link). DH thought they looked a bit silly but I love little boxes and containers, I thought they were so cute. A little bit of leftover Bendigo Rustic 12ply should felt up nicely and make a lovely little home for bits and pieces on my dresser...

Time now for a cup of coffee and a peruse of this week's knitting book haul!

I'm thinking of treating myself to a new knitting book for Christmas and would love to hear your recommendations. What's the best knitting book you own?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Lacy Bonnet take 2

So I promised lots of knitting content this's the next one...

Back in March I made a lacy bonnet from Erika Knight's Baby Bloom
- it was adorable , a little small for M but probably the cutest thing I think I've ever made.

I've kept it , just to admire, in case you were wondering what happened to it.

My lovely friend Beck is expecting a little girl who is due to arrive very soon and I knew she just needed to have a lacy bonnet

Bella Bamboo

Once again I didn't go for the oversized ribbon bow on the sides but a more simple I-cord

Bella Bamboo

The star shaped flower on the back is so cute! It looks really difficult but isn't that hard at all. A pattern where you have to concentrate but nothing really tricky in terms of stitches or techniques. The seaming is a bit of a pain but this time around I had the right number of petals and it was much easier

Bella Bamboo

I used Bella Baby Layette which is a bamboo/wool mix which is lovely and soft, so nice for little baby things. This used a little under 50g

I don't often knit from the same pattern multiple times but I think this just might become my 'turn to' new baby girl gift. So sweet.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Turn a Square (Badly)

I am still on my "making home made pressies" crusade. Step Dads birthday is next month so I thought I would make him a beanie hat, instead of sending, for yet another year , boring socks and undies!! (Why are male relatives so hard to buy for?)

I am a big fan of Brooklyn Tweed (who isn't??!!) so decided to try one of his patterns - Turn a Square. I have some Noro Kureyon that I thought would work well for the contrast colour that changes hue as you go up the hat. The black is something nameless in my stash.

Turn a square

It's bright isn't it? Not sure if it is really Step Dad's style but I figure his wardrobe could do with some brightening up hehe. I just love the raglan decreases and the "square" that develops
Turn a square

The pattern is a great one for practicing jogless stripes in the round, something I've tried once before and failed at miserably. However this time I did a lot better....not perfect but I think I've got it sussed now. You can see where they are if you look hard but I think once blocked they'd be much less obvious
Jogless stripes

So at this point you would think I would be pretty stoked that I have finished the present a whole month EARLY!! and crossed another home made pressie off the list.

Hmmmm well no, not really. Unfortunately I won't be sending the beanie off any time soon, the only place it will be going is the frog pond.

DH wouldn't oblige me with some hat modelling but he did take the pics, and you can see that on me the hat is a little big. Sadly its also too big on DH's big man head too! Way too big.

Did I check tension? No. Was I totally stupid to decide that nameless black yarn was DK and my needles were 4mm (not 4.5mm called for in pattern) and therefore I should cast on more stitches? Totally stupid. And *even worse* when the pattern says knit for 5 inches, I decide that looks too short and I should add AN INCH!! before decreasing? Yup that dumb. It baffles me now that I thought I would know better than *Jared Flood*. End result? Big huge hat that's way too wide and too long. My gauge was spot on so perhaps if I had checked that and actually followed the perfect pattern I would have a gift worthy hat right now! I'd like to say I've learnt my lesson but you know....

Truth be told I'm feeling a bit sorry for the Noro right now. You might remember big huge glove (notice a theme?) that I knit in Noro awhile back - I frogged it to reclaim the yarn for this hat, which is about to be frogged. I seem to be having a bad run with it. Let's hope 3rd time lucky!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Spring time fun and spring cleaning

School Holidays here at the moment. An extra one at home so things are busy and noisy but at the same time nice and relaxed without us having to rush in the mornings. So far the holidays have involved...

Exploring the garden - M6 has a fascination with snails at the moment and this morning she found this snail family (safely back in their bush now)
Snail Family

Also this week....
A trip to the beach
Sleep ins
Building cubby houses with the dining room chairs and big sheets
Trips to the library - currently reading aloud Pippi Longstocking - (more knitting books for me of course)
Baking for a cake stall
Morning tea picnics outside in the sun
Catching up with friends
Picking flowers
Rearranging bedroom furniture
Toybox tidying and finding all those 'new' toys
Not as much knitting as I had hoped!

I'm making progress on my rather long spring cleaning list though. A bit of warm weather and some sunshine does wonders in the motivation department. Today I had a sort out of my yarn stash. I frogged a pair of slippers I started for M1 that I'd run out of yarn for and I found an old "beginning" project and frogged it back too - it had been languishing so long in the bottom of the knitting box I'd completely forgotten about it. 150g of grape coloured Merino Fine 10ply (Naturally Yarns) now in my yarn box awaiting inspiration.
10ply Merino Fines

It feels great to have had a little sort out

I also spent some time looking through my pattern books and magazines lining up my next 2 projects...Christmas presents for two new babies who joined our family this year. Both from Debbie Bliss's Special Knits - a cardigan for niece S. I bought quite a bit of Merino 8ply from Spotlight that I think should knit up like sport weight so I've chosen patterns that use baby cashmerino.

Fairaisle top for S

an argyle vest for new nephew K...

argyle vest for K

I love the look of the argyle and have never tried it before - I love projects where I learn something new.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Yarn Swap Time Again

The last one was so fun! Luckily for us Kelly was kind enough to organise another themed yarn swap.

My person
was left waiting on the previous swap so I sent my package off early so she was first to receive this time around. She spent some of her childhood in Zaire and Zambia so the theme I did for her was "I dreamed of Africa"

This swap had us send - hand dyed yarn, a pattern, a little gift of about $10 and a piece of 'paperwork' (e.g a recipe, a hand made card, a poem or verse etc) - with everything fitting under a 'theme' of our choosing.

So this is what I sent....


* 200g of hand dyed yarn. Colourway African Sunset. I dyed this skein yellow with Wilton's cake gel using the microwave method. Then used the 'chuck it all in a bit pot' method with red food colouring to get subtle orange and red variegations.

* "I dreamed of Africa" sock pattern. Perfect for the theme but not for the yarn, so I also sent the Elefante pattern (since there are elephants in Africa you know) which she's already started with this yarn and I can't wait to see!

* My little gifts were some little things I found at our local Trade Aid shop - a little finger piano made in Tanzania, some Rooibus tea from South Africa, some fair trade chocolate.

* I also got some fair trade beads while I was there and made some stitch markers for her that suit the colour of the yarn

And finally my 'paperwork' was a poem I wrote and a recipe for Congo Chicken soup (which sounds yum and might try myself some time)

I really enjoyed this swap, last time I found it harder to figure out what to do but this theme came immediately and all the pieces just fell into place. She seemed to like it too and that's the bit that makes it most enjoyable. You can read her blog post here. I think her photo of the yarn is better than mine

Can't wait for mine now!