Sunday, 27 December 2009

Bluebell Romance

I love knitting with Patons Bluebell yarn, and I love the fact that it has been around for so long. I picked up this pattern booklet at an Op shop a few months ago and was taken with the vest on the front cover. I have purchased a packet of Bluebell in red and have decided to make this for myself as my next project. Last night I even knitted a tension gauge, so I'm hoping that this one will fit me. I'm looking forward to knitting with lace stitches as a change from the stocking stitch of the past two projects.

Saturday, 26 December 2009


Just as planned I finished Nina's Haltermelon top just in time for a hot and humid Christmas Eve day lunch.

This is such a cute pattern. I made size 2 for my 18 month old daughter. She is petite around the chest so it is a bit big on her at the moment but she will grow into it in no time. In the meantime I have knitted an i-cord to go through the eyelets so that I can gather it with a bow.

I also picked up the stitches along the neckline and knitted a trim to match the one on the bottom edge. I wasn’t happy with the watermelon seeds that I embroidered (I didn’t like that i couldn’t get them to be a uniform size unless they were going in the same direction - though mind you, I am not an accomplished embroiderer), or the ones that I knitted and sewed on, so I found some small matte black buttons instead.

I found this video on YouTube to help me with the cast on:
Purling in a Long-tail Cast-On

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Market Vintage

A couple of weekends ago I ventured out on a 30 degree hot morning to the Glenbrook Growers Market. It wasn't the ideal conditions for organic fruit and veg, but I did manage to pick up a Mon Tricot stitch encyclopedia and a very vintage Patons Fair Isle book. Both for the bargain price of $1.50!

That afternoon at the monthly Guild meeting I also picked up a few more treasures from the Seventies thanks to our convener Merrin, who had cleaned out her Mum's garage.

Friday, 27 November 2009

A Buttercup for Mum

Having finally finished my Buttercup I am filled with both joy and disappointment. Joy at having finally finished this large (by my standards) and monotonous piece of knitting, and disappointment because it doesn't fit me. I made it in the Medium size and think I didn't take into consideration the positive ease. So much for the bad news, it turns out that it fits my Mum perfectly and who better to give it to (finally I get to repay her for all of the knitted garments she has made me over the past 30 years). Both the colour and the style look great on her and it feels amazing on.

Can't wait to cast on my next project which will make use of the 2 additional balls of yarn that I bought for this project unnecessarily. I am going to make Never Not Knitting's Haltermelon for Nina x

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Street craft - Katoomba

We ventured up to Katoomba on a sunny spring day this week to meet our wedding celebrant. After the meeting we had lunch at our favourite upper mountains cafe - Fresh - and I was delighted to discover several instances of street crafting along the main street.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Sock Workshop

At last month's Knitters Guild meeting a couple of the ladies held an all-day sock knitting workshop. We learnt how to knit a pair of socks for 1 year old, and I was one of the lucky few who happened to have one of these creatures at home. We knit one sock in the workshop but I then decided to knit another pair, making the ribbing longer and lengthening it in the foot. I also decided to do some knitting stitch embroidery (yet another first) to tart them up a bit. Using scraps of embroidery yarn, the hearts are different colours but I don't think it matters.
Jamie joked that it was ideal for me to knit a pair of woolen socks for Nina in time for Summer, but luckily we are currently experiencing below than average temps for this time of year.
These are knitted in Patons Merino Deluxe DK which is a delight to knit with.

Monday, 19 October 2009

A Bout of Booties

Blue Booties for Felix
Peach Booties for India

Yellow Booties for Alice

I have been wanting to knit Saartje's Bootees (ravelry link) ever since I started knitting again at the beginning of the year and have finally had an occasion to - 4 friends had babies in the past month - so I knitted 3 pairs in one weekend to have a break from my Buttercup woes.I used whatever yarn I could find in my mum’s stash. The last pair (the blue ones) were the best and were knitted in Patons Bluebell which is a lovely 5ply and what I used for Nina’s beret and mittens.

I couldn’t figure out how to do the long tail cast on using 2 strands of yarn so I turned the work and did a cable cast on. This worked fine and would recommend it to others who are new to LTCO like me, you just need to remember that when you are on the second strap you need to purl all stitches instead of knitting.
I also skipped the button loops and sewed the straps down and the buttons on top. Most newborns hate getting dressed and I think it would be easier for the (sometimes) stressed out mum.

*Just did a search through the comments and forum postings on this pattern and found this youtube link (thanks to Ravelry user Zippy69!) which shows it perfectly. There is something so very Zen about the LTCO!

Buttercup Progesses Slowly

My hopes of finishing Buttercup before this month's Knitters Guild meeting were sadly not realised. I am in the midst of stocking stitch in the round drudgery! And taking a weekend out to knit 3 pairs of Saartje's Booties did not help matters (but more on that later). I am fairly happy with progress despite this and the fact that my knitting to this point is not flawless. I am a little concerned that Medium size is going to be a bit bigger than I'd hoped, and am also worried that I will be a ball and a half short of the cotton yarn. I enjoyed learning how to do long tail cast on ( I used this tutorial) and think I will use it on a regular basis, as it seems to get around the fact that I normally cast on (with cable cast on) quite tightly and slowly.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Build me up Buttercup!

I wanted to knit myself something for summer, in order to keep the spirit of knitting alive through the warmer months. I've chosen the very popular free Ravelry pattern Buttercup by Heidi Kirrmaier; a top-down raglan tunic with a lace detail across the decolletage. I am knitting it in the lovely Jo Sharp Soho Summer DK Cotton in Blush (which is a bit softer than it appears in the photos below).

I cast on last Friday night in time to take it along with me to the Knitter's Guild meeting on Saturday and have set myself to finish it before next month's Guild meeting. So far I have been doing well and am currently into the lace part, soon to separate the sleeves and continue knitting the body - tedious stocking stitch in the round.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

New and Old Books

My sister Naomi is lucky to live in Brisbane. Not only is the weather warm all year round, but she has access to the amazing yarn and thread store: Threads and More. I am very jealous even though I have never even been there!

Naomi recently gifted
me the very lovely book "Knitalong: Celebrating the Tradition of Knitting Together" by Larissa and Martin John Brown, which she purchased at Threads and More. I was particularly taken with a line in the introduction that reads:
"taking up knitting is some sort of declaration that life should include more quiet hours and friends".
Many of the projects featured in the book can also be found on the Knitalong website.
I am adding two of the projects to my ever expanding queue. The first is the Recycled Sweater Pincushion (left). My partner recently put my favourite Country Road woollen cardigan through the washing machine and felted it. I was too attached to it to throw it away and stashed it in a drawer. Soon it will be reborn as a very useful pincushion, The second project that I would like to undertake is Olive's Afghan; an large multicoloured chevron blanket.

From the new to the old...last weekend I went to a fete at the local retirement village and was delighted to pick up a weighty needlecraft reference book for the bargain price of $2!

"The Complete Book of Knitting, Crochet & Embroidery" published by Rainbow Books in 1972 is in amazing condition and is very informative. It even comes with some very groovy patterns such as a Fair Isle Toddler Dressing Gown.

Moss Stitch Jacket Finished

I finally finished the Moss Stitch Baby Jacket (click here for the Ravelry link) for my nephew Xavier on the 7 September. I thought it looked way too big, but luckily he is putting on the chub and got a chance to wear it last week. He had the sleeves rolled up but other than that the fit was quite good. Thanks to my lovely sister Nicole for the photo below. What a cute little man!

Friday, 4 September 2009

New (Zealand) additions to my stash

On our recent holiday in New Zealand I picked up a few balls of wool to add to my stash. In Palmerston North I picked up a couple of balls of the deliciously soft Sublime Yarns Baby Cashmere Merino Silk DK in beige, which I hope to knit Ysolda Teague's gorgeous bunny "Sophie" with as soon as i have finished my current UFOs. I am obsessed with Ysolda at the moment and just wish I could knit faster.

On one of the final legs of our trip, driving from Palmerston North to Taupo I then stumbled across The Wool Company in Utiku and picked up 2 hanks in colours I liked just for the hell of it. I didn't have a project in mind but couldn't walk away empty handed. Their range of Utiku Perendale 8ply comes in a fantastic range of colours (including the two I bought which are Coral and Periwinkle) and at only $13 NZD for a 200g hank it is cheap as chips! Once I decide on a pattern to make for myself I will order more yarn from their online store. hopefully the shipping will not cost the earth.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Ravelry Saves the Day

One of my latest projects has been a double-breasted hoodie in moss stitch that I was hoping to complete in time for the birth of my new baby nephew Xavier. Not only did I not finish in time to make this a gift at the time of his birth but I also had my own Knitter's Nightmare and ran out of yarn when I was 90% through. When I had purchased the Naturally Merino 10 ply the lady in the shop told me that it was the last 4 balls they had, but I didn't realise that it was a yarn from 2002 that I couldn't find any where.
After searching every online yarn store that I could find without success, I finally searched on Ravelry and found it in someone's stash. It was the same colour but a different dye lot, but it was my only chance. So I emailed the owner and asked if she could spare a ball. My new firend Joyce from Odessa, Missouri sent me 2 balls and saved the day. Today i sent her two skeins of yarn
(below) hand spun by my mum. Now I just need to finish the jacket before it is too hot or Xavier is too bog for it.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Diamond Fern Stich Mittens

After finishing Nina's mittens I decided to make something for myself; a pair of fingerless mittens to keep my hands warm whilst working at Wentworth Falls. It should have been a pretty straight forward project. I found a pattern on Ravelry for fingerless mittens in a feather and fans lace stitch, knitted flat and then stitched up the side leaving a hole for the thumb. Having already knitted the fan stitch sample square back in May I didn't think I would have any problems.

I first came unstuck with the pattern when it called for me m1 (make one). I am by no means an expert but as far as I can gather there are many different ways to m1. My bible on these matters, the 'Readers Digest Complete Guide to Needlecraft', describes 8 ways to increase by changing yarn position. The pattern also asks me to do yo
(yarn over) increase, after a knit stitch and before a knit stitch, which again is omitted from the Guide.

In a fit of frustration I decided to scrap the project. I was not that passionate about the pattern and thought that I could improvise a similar pattern with a stitch I hadn't tried before; the Diamond Fern Stitch. Referring once again to my trusty Needlecraft book, I cast on for the third time (there was also a case of rib gone wrong) and knit the 8 rows of 1:1 rib and the first 20 rows of the lace stitch pattern. It was at this point that Jamie said to me "but the diamonds aren't going to match up!". And he was right. The stitch pattern in my trusty book started with the solid part of the pattern and finished with the open lace part.

CO #4 - I try to wing it, adding an extra 6 stitches to the CO and hoping this will complete the half diamond at the end. Something goes very wrong (I actually think I dropped a stitch to tell you the truth) and my lace starts going haywire.

Finally, I decide to get myself a pad of graph paper and draw up a stitch chart (below). And what a revelation! I am a very visual person and with the help of the stitch chart I could finally make sense of the relationship between the stitches and the pattern, and was able to complete the missing half diamond correctly.

Unfortunately the first prototype turned out too big, even for my wrists. They even fit on Jamie's calves. I didn't even bother sewing up the second one or photographing the finished one. But I am determined not to get despondent, and will revisit the project soon (after a few baby presents are knitted). Not too bad for my first attempt at an improvised pattern.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Recent FOs

I have finally finished my 1-month stint of working full time and can now dedicate some more time to my knitting projects and blog posting.

I recently subjected Nina to a photo shoot to show off her new beret and mittens ensemble. Unfortunately I couldn't catch her with both on at the same time, and she's not very keen on wearing the mittens.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Milo Armadillo

Nina and I recently joined the library and today I came across this lovely picture book, 'Milo Armadillo' by Jan Fearnley. I was drawn to it by the gorgeous illustrations, which combine drawings with a collage of textures, scanned fabrics and knitted panels. Particularly one where Gran is pictured in an armchair knitting furiously with her needles going "clickety-click" (very much like Nina's own Granny).

It wasn't until after we got home and I put a tired and grizzly girl to bed that I was able to read the story, which is that of a little girl named Tallulah, who wishes for a pink fluffy bunny but her Gran knits her something very different.

I was even more delighted to discover that you can download a free pattern for Milo Armadillo.

I'll have to put this one on the queue. Meanwhile, I have had a week of disappointment with my attempts to knit a pair of fingerless mittens (it really shouldn't be this hard!). Tonight I cast on for the 5th time! A tale for another time...

Sunday, 21 June 2009

A Tale of Two Pom Poms

...or Thin and Sad Vs Fat and Happy. It had been some time since I had made a pom pom, very possibly decades. I remember making them in primary school, so approached my first pom pom making project this century with a high level of confidence. how hard could it be? On top of the years of life experience I had gained since primary school, I had also purchased myself a dedicated "Pom Pom Maker" - so self explanatory is the task that the packaging does not bother to include instructions!
My first attempt took at least a couple of hours. I used my pom pom maker (below) and thinking I wanted quite a large pom I left the 3 coloured rings joined together and proceeded to wind my yarn in a radial fashion using a tapestry needle. I wanted to use a solid pink yarn to compliment the flecked hot pink yarn, so I painstakingly alternated the colours, winding only a single thread at a time. Increasingly I found it harder and harder to fit the needle through the centre of the pom pom maker. I had a bad feeling about this pom...

...The result is the emaciated, scruffy-dog excuse for a pom pom you see on the left of the top picture. What a blow! But I was not to be defeated, failure is after all the best way to learn. On attempt #2 i really smartened up my game. Using only the yellow rings of the pom pom maker, I thread both colour yarns through the needle at once and used them doubled over. What a brain wave! I'd quadrupled my productivity before I even started!!
The result is a fat and bouncy, heavy-weight pom. Almost a little too heavy to be attached to the beret, but it will go there anyway. He could still do with a hair cut, but I'm afraid that I will get carried away, so I have put the scissors away.

Raspberry Beret

For my second project I wanted to tackle knitting something on four needles (having tried and failed in the past) and decided to knit a baby beret. I used a pattern that Mum had used to knit a couple of berets for Nina last winter, although Mum knitted hers in stockinette rather than garter stitch.
I definitely got the hang of the four needles by the end, and am happy enough with the result even though I had a few issues with the increasing and it looks a bit dodgy if you look close enough. It also sits a bit differently to the ones Mum made, in that it is quite wavy, but this is how it looks in the picture on the pattern so i assume it is right. Perphaps it doesn't have the same stiffness when knitted in stockinette?
Originally I planed to make it for my niece Charlotte's 2nd birthday. Nina's berets are quite big so I thought I could get away with using the 6-12 month sizing. I didn't finish in time for Charlotte's birthday and it is too small, so it will go to my muse Nina (though it won't fit her for long either).

Thursday, 11 June 2009

The Doodle Pants Done

I am very proud to have finished my first project within a week. I actually finished knitting them last Thursday but only finished sewing in the threads yesterday. Being the novice that I am I wasn't sure how to actually do this and was waiting for mum to get back from a road trip to Brisbane. Yesterday was so cold that I couldn't wait any longer and so with the help of a video tutorial on expert village I finished it off.

When I put them on Nina this morning I discovered that they are more "doodle tights" than "pants". Not the most flattering but comfy and warm none the less.

I definitely made some errors along the way (namely the ribbed waistband knitted with the wrong gauge needles!) but I have already learnt many new things: Kitchener stitch, how to knit and I-cord, how to knit a short row and how to weave in loose threads. I think the best way to get over the disappointment of one project is to move quickly on to the next, so I have started project two, a baby beret knitted on four needles

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Doodle Pants on Friday I bravely started my first project, Aubrey Doodle Pants for my muse Nina. I found the pattern through the Ravelry website, which ROCKS! I've had a few issues to tackle. Firstly, failing to get my head around the difference between metric, imperial, and US needle sizes resulted in my ribbed waist band being knitted with larger rather than smaller needles. I had to learn how to knit a short row and do kitchener stitch with the help of videos on youtube. Now that I am almost finished the first leg, I can't wait to start another project.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Stitches of Inspiration

Nina's Rock Your Baby Pixie hat is knitted in moss stitch. Now that I know how easy it is to knit moss stitch I can see that this hat would be easy to make. The construction is very simple too.

This is a baby blanket that Mum knitted for Nina before she was born. It was only after I had knitted my sample squares that I realised it was in snowball sticth and moss stitch.

Friday, 29 May 2009

A Pretty New Needle Roll

I decided it was time to do away with the dodgy old knitting needle bag with the broken zipper and jumble of miss-matched hand-me-down needles. Surely a serious knitter needs a pretty needle roll!

I found the pattern for this one on the lupinbunny blog and used an off cut of the Missoni Home fabric Haiti that I got during my Spence & Lyda days.

It looks pretty and is much more functional than my old bag, but I did have a few issues sewing the heavy linen fabric. If I were to make it again I would only use the linen fabric on the outside of roll, I'd sew the ribbon into the seam and I would make it wider to fit more needles.

Knitting 101 - Week 1

Firstly let me clarify; I know how to knit, I know how to purl, I've knitted lots of scarfs and two jumpers in my time. But now I want to learn the tricky stuff and I want to knit beautiful things that I treasure rather than hide in a drawer. I want to get as good as my mum and to be able to pass on the knowledge to my daughter and even my sisters, should they ever want to learn.

This week we covered the basic equipment needed and Mum set me some homework; to knit sample squares of the following: fan stitch, snowball, stitch, moss stitch, garter stitch, stocking stitc
h, single and double rib.

Having never tried my hand at lace stitches before I ambitiously started out with Snowball stitch. After three failed attempts however I moved on to Fan Stitch. After dropping a stitch a few rows in this was the result of attempt two.

I've always loved the dense texture of Moss Stitch and was surprised to find out that it was just alternating rows of knit 1, purl 1. I think I need to work on my tension but this should correct itself with a bit more practice. The abominable Snowball Stitch took me a while to get my head around, but I got there in the end and was very happy with the result. Unfortunately my ball of wool ran out with just 3 cast off stitches to go, and since it was an odd ball from mum's stash I had to splice in a different yarn to finish it off.

After knitting these 3 sample swatches I am feeling restless and need to start a project I can sink my teeth into. Mum is away at the moment so i am boldly going to attempt to start something without her...
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