Thursday, 5 August 2010

FO: Xavier's Grey Noise Jumper

I decided to call this jumper "Grey Noise". It is quite a nice little jumper and in the Malabrigo worsted it will be very warm. It was very easy to knit and I liked the fact that it was knit in the round so I didn't have to do any seaming - just a little grafting under the arms. It was presented to my adorable nephew at his birthday party on Sunday.

After so much grey I was relieved to be surrounded by so much colour at the party.

Nina had a ball (and ate a little bit too much sugar!).

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Construction Tools and Sydney Design

My lucky friend Anna received a very awesome birthday gift this week, a set of 25mm (massive!) ebony needles and enough yarn to make a super chunky hooded scarf, by Nikki Gabriel. Here are a couple of rather dodgy iphone photos of Anna knitting at work.

Anna let me knit a row and I did find it a bit of a challenge to hold such large and heavy needles, but the bespoke yarn is gorgeous and I love the chunky designs. I especially like the idea of being able to knit up a quick garment like Nikki Gabriel's vest.

When I looked up the website i discovered that Nikki Gabriel is actually giving a workshop at the Powerhouse Museum in a couple of weeks as part of Sydney Design. There will be six workshops over 3 days (Fri 13-Sun 15 August), and for the $80 entry fee you get the workshop, pattern, needles, and 2 balls of yarn. I am definitely thinking of attending and maybe dropping by the Wild for Tea Cosies talk by tea cosy queen Loani Prior while I'm there.

Friday, 23 July 2010

A Grey Area

There is something bewitching about this variegated yarn. I was so drawn to it's mix of greys and charcoals that I bought two skeins intending to knit it into something myself.

At first I thought it would make a great eternity scarf, but after further consideration I realised that I couldn't face knitting a big tube and decided that a triangular shawl might be more my thing.

On Monday night I wound the first skein into a ball. Warning bell 1: when I unlooped the skein I thought "it's very stripey". Undetered, yesterday I eagerly cast on Using Orlane's textured shawl recipe. Warning bell 2: it's hard to see the texture with so much variegation. So after knitting 40 rows I put my knitting away and moped around for an hour or so. I then browsed through every project made in this yarn on ravelry. I didn't like any of them! Finally I came to the realisation: I don't like the look of this yarn, or any variegated yarn, when it is knit up.

Woe is me! What to do now with 2 skeins of this accursed yarn? Bury them in my stash? Do a give-away? No. I have decided that it is still lovely yarn, it is Malabrigo afterall, and it might not look right for me but it would make a pretty cute jumper for a little boy that I know whose birthday is coming up soon. I know his mum will read this so I won't give any more away....

Hmmm, even the photos for this post are grey and dreary ;(

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Blogworthy Blogs - stash, knit, repeat

I can't quite remember how I stumbled across this blog, but I am so glad that I did. stash, knit, repeat is the blog of knitwear designer Amy Herzog, who has a "passion for well-fitting sweaters".

Lately the blog is featuring a series of tutorials called Fit to Flatter where Amy explains how to choose and modify knitting patterns to flatter your shape. I think it is essential reading for all knitters, especially if you are relatively new to knitting like me and have had issues with fit in the past.

I also like the idea of concentrating on your shape rather than size and have found the advice on her blog helpful and relevant to all areas of the wardrobe not just knits. I really love several of Amy's designs, especially Arm Candy and February Fitted Pullover, and will definitely be knitting these in the near future to fit and flatter my classic pear shape.

Monday, 19 July 2010

FO: Ishbel

So I finished my very own Ishbel a couple of weeks ago and here it is:

I will probably be cast out of the knitting community when I admit that I didn't LOVE knitting this pattern. It could have been my needles. I used my Addi interchangable 4mm needles and the whole time I wished they were pointier. I also struggled a bit with the lace pattern, it just didn't "click" with me and I had to follow the chart stitch by stitch without knowing if it would turn out right. Luckily it did, and I am very happy with my knitting, so that's something.

I made the small size which turned out a bit smaller than I had hoped. It only used up 35g of yarn (Lush Yarn merino/silk fingering) so now I have half a skein floating around in my stash which I find a bit annoying. I might just have to knit myself a pair of purple socks or a matching Ishbel Beret. Next time would definitely make it bigger by knitting the stocking stitch section according to the instructions for the large size and the lace section for the small size.

I don't think it is a mere coincidence that my passion for blogging has waned at the same time as I stopped knitting for others and concentrated on knitting for myself. I am way too critical of the things I make for myself and am afraid that the blog will turn into a whine-fest if I continue to pick at all the flaws of each FO. I can reassure you with news that I have cast on a new project as a gift for someone else and I feel my inspiration returning already (what a relief!).

Saturday, 10 July 2010

A Winter Wedding

Things have been a bit quiet on the blog front lately. This is partly because I have been busy very busy at work and also because there was another wedding in the family. My beautiful sister Naomi married her lovely fiance Dan on Sunday 4th July (they like to refer to it as "Dependance Day" now) at Bellachara in Gerringong, about 2 hours south of Sydney.

Bridesmaids: That's me on the left and my sister Nicole on the right. The Bride: looking gorgeous in her 50's style dress.

My fears of freezing on the cliff tops during the photos were unfounded as it turned out to be the most perfect mild and sunny Winters day you could imagine. It was a beautiful wedding and a lovely long weekend away with the family.

My very talented mum was responsible for the knitted shrugs you can see in the photo above, and for all the dresses including the flower girls and the bride! She also knitted two other cardigans for the flower girls, and all this in the space of a couple of months. She makes it look so easy!

I have also been quite busy knitting something old (my not-so-romantic vest is almost done!) and something new (more on that later) and will soon be knitting something blue!

Sunday, 27 June 2010

My Frosty Mitts

For a while now I have been grumbling about how I haven't knit myself anything since I've been knitting this past year. Let me present my first FO, just for me....My Frosty Mitts!

This is the second time I have knitted this pattern (Susie's Reading Mitts). The first pair went to one of the winners of my knitted gift giveaway and I loved them so much that I wanted to make a pair for myself. I get very cold hands you see, especially when I am working at the computer so I needed them!

I took this project with me to Brisbane last week for a baby free weekend of knitting and catching up with my sisters. I am so glad you can knit on domestic flights now! It is the perfect travel project and I happily sat around knitting and chatting to my sisters on Sunday. It is such a rare and special occasion for the three of us to get together without partners and children.

I finished the mitts on Friday evening and am a bit annoyed at myself for not loving them as much as I should now that they are finished and all mine. They fit perfectly around the hand but I can't help wishing they were a little snugger around the wrists. Do all knitters suffer from this? Perhaps I have been subconsciously avoiding knitting for myself because deep down I know that I am an ungrateful perfectionist who will just pick at the flaws.

Rather than dwelling on this situation I have pushed on an cast on yet another project. A Ravelry standard. Can you guess what it is?

I am also very close to finishing my Romantic vest, which has been on the needles since December. Hopefully I will be happier with the outcome of these.

Monday, 14 June 2010

A Bundle of Joy

Can you relate to that really satisfying feeling you get when you pick up a lovely set of needles, a gorgeous yarn and a well written pattern? I had one of those moments last week when I started knitting a gift for a good friend of mine who is expecting her first baby. In this case the needles were Knitpro Symphonie 3mm wooden DPNs (a must for toy knitting in my humble opinion), the yarn was Sublime Yarn's Baby Cashmere Merino Silk DK and the pattern was Ysolda's elephant Elijah.

After knitting Ysolda's Sophie bunny earlier this year - and loving it! - Elijah was sitting on my queue just waiting for an occassion to be knitted. The disappearing loop cast-on is still tryingly tricky, but once that is under your belt it really is quite an easy knit. Like Sophie, Elijah is knitted completely in the round and stuffed as you go. After knitting the head, you pick up stitches and start knitting the body, and so on and so on. This time I took Ysolda's advice and used a crochet hook to pick up the stitches, which was much easier.

To make things a little trickier for myself I decided to give Elijah a striped jumper (the arms were the worst - 5 needles, 2 strands of yarn and a knitted head to deal with!). After inspecting the other FO's on Ravelry I decided that it was essential, otherwise the trunk can look a bit odd.

I used Morris Empire 8ply for the jumper and scarf and think that it matches the Sumblime yarn quite well. In fact I think it actually out-performs it, as there was a bit of pilling on the head by the time I had finished. I will definitely use Empire for knitting toys in the future (although I might go down a needle size to tighten up the fabric a bit more).

After a week of knitting my heart out and a very late night on Saturday (note to self: I need more than 7 days to knit a toy!), my little bundle of joy made his way to his new owner as we celebrated the imminent arrival with a delicious high tea at Sydney's Observatory Hotel.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Cedar Leaf Shawlette


The Cedar Leaf Shawlette I have been knitting for my mother in law's birthday (which was on the 5th of May!) is finally finished and on it's way to the land of the long white cloud (New Zealand). I am really happy with how it turned out. I love the design, the colour and of course, the yarn.

This Never Not Knitting pattern is fantastic, it is clearly written and laid out. It was quite a straight forward knit, even though it was my first real experience of short row shaping, using the "wrap and turn" method. I loved knitting the body of the shawlette. I think the fact that you never reach the end of the row makes it quite addictive. Also I like that you knit fewer stitches as you go as opposed to more like some shawls.

I did have a bit of a mishap on the last row of the main crescent part, where you are supposed to pick up the wraps as you knit right across. I don't quite know what I did wrong but I think in some cases I was actually picking up a stitch before the stitch to be wrapped!! I was also a bit put off by the little loops left by the wraps on the wrong side (is that normal?) Anyway, I couldn't figure out how to fix my mess and ended up ripping back to the garter stitch trim (so almost the entire thing). Knitting it the second time in one week wasn't quite so fun but knitting the leaves was enjoyable even if they seemed to go on forever.

If I was keeping it for myself (alas I am not) I would definitely wear it as a scarf as opposed to a shawl but it looks great either way.


Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Happy Blogiversary to me!

malabrigo grey

Firstly, a big THANK YOU to everyone who has been reading my blog over the past year. My Blogiversary was actually on Saturday (29th May) but yesterday a parcel arrived in the mail that gave me a real cause to celebrate. My Malabrigo order arrived from Eat.Sleep.Knit in the US after just 8 days! Talk about speedy service - just the way I like it. I am so happy with my choice of colours in the Worsted Merino: I went with Frost Grey (at the front of the box in the picture above) and SFO Sky (the variegated grey at the back is so much better than I had expected!).

The box also included the urgently required skein of Silky Merino in Lettuce needed to finish my Cedar Leaf Shawlette, which I'm happy to say is finished and currently blocking on my yoga mat in the middle of the living room. I'll fill you in on all the details after I take some FO photos.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Favourites: Necklaces

Favourites is a new regular section of my blog where I will share a selection of patterns for a particular type of project, recently added to my favourites in Ravelry.

This week is all about Necklaces.

A friend of mine recently saw a cool knitted chain necklace being worn by a lady at a Sydney Writers Festival event. She asked the lady where it was from and was told that it was an Etsy purchase from Poland. After a quick scour for the "knitted chain necklace" on Etsy, I'm pretty sure that this is the one in question: Golden Chain by Celapiu

It is very cool! I like it but I would never wear something like this. It's possibly a little too big (and too cool) for me to wear at this stage of my life (maybe back in my twenties!).

So I took my search to Ravelry and found the following patterns for necklaces that I would wear...

#1 - sev[en] circle by Kirsten Johnstone. Free pattern available to download from Ravelry

sev[en] cirlcle. Image from Ravelry

#2 - Ruffled Crochet Bib Necklace by Stefanie Fail. Free pattern published on the A Common Thread blog

Ruffled Crochet Bib Necklace. Image from Ravelry

#3 - Indian Gold by Alyssa Kabel. Free pattern available on the concrete is made of glass blog

Indian Gold. Image from Ravelry

I love all three of these patterns and hope to have one on the needles in the near future.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Oops I did it again!

Cedar Leaf Shawlette

Once again I have run out of yarn in the final stages of a project. You may recall that this happened to me last year when I was knitting the Moss Stitch Hoodie for my nephew. In that instance Ravelry saved the day and a very lovely lady from Missouri, all the way on the other side of the world, was kind enough to send me a couple of balls of Naturally Merino 10ply (we still keep in touch on Ravelry which is nice).

This time around I should have known better. I am knitting the Never Not Knitting's Cedar Leaf Shawlette in Malabrigo Silky Merino. Having consulted other Raverly users' project notes I knew that it would be tight, if not impossible, to knit this out of just 2 skeins. So on Sunday night the inevitable happened and I ran out of yarn with just two and a half leaves left to go.

I had even asked the store where I bought the yarn to hold an additional skein for me, but that was weeks ago and I never got back to them, and of course now they and the only other Malabrigo stockists in Australia are out of stock!

The upshot of this disaster is that I placed my first order with US online store Eat.Sleep.Knit yesterday and my order has already been shipped. To make it worth my while in terms of shipping, in addition to the skein of silky merino that I need to finish the shawlette, I added 2 skeins of Malabrigo Worsted Merino in Frost Gray and 2 skeins in SFO Sky (I love grey!). Now I just have to wait 10-21 days (fingers crossed that it's 10!) for it to arrive.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

One skein of Malabrigo Scarf

My sister Nicole entered my knitted gift giveaway back in March hoping to win a red scarf. Even though she wasn't an official winner I wanted to make her something. She is a regular follower of my blog and one of the few who leaves comments (which is always nice!). She has also just returned to work after her second child so I decided to whip her up a one skein wonder as a mothers day gift.

Having the self imposed restriction of using only one skein made the pattern choice a little tricky but I ended up choosing to knit the Drop Stitch Scarf (ravelry link) by Christine Vogel.

It was a nice brainless knit and only took me a few days to finish. I followed the lead of other Ravelry users and wet blocked this, increasing the size from 115cm x 15cm (knitted size) to 165cm x 17cm (after blocking). The result is a good sized scarf and the stitch and slight variegation of the yarn show up beautifully.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Koolhaas Complete

It feels like an eternity since I started knitting Jared Flood's Koolhaas hat for my husband but I am happy to report that it's finished.

One thing that slowed progress considerably was losing my cable needle down the side of a seat whilst knitting on the train. It was so frustrating and it was my only cable needle so the hat had a hiatus until I got around to buying a new one.

The other thing that slowed me down was all the cable crosses. This being only my second attempt at cables I was painfully slow. If I were to knit it again I would definitely take the time to learn how to cable without a cable needle.

Apart from the above I was very happy with the pattern and my knitting but am very cranky at myself for losing count of the cable repeats and knitting 7 instead of 6 (which was the number recommended for large) so it really is a bit big. It will keep Jamie's ears warm though.

I'm a bit disappointed with the amount of piling the yarn has done in the short time since I finished. J does rub his head a lot which doesn't help. I still love this yarn and love this colourway: Azulprofundo.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Phat Knits

Image from Bauke Knotterus website

Jamie stumbled across this on the web the other day and new that it would tickle my fancy. Dutch design studio Bauke Knottnerus create crazy cool interior products made from giant threads. I love the concept and this knitted hangout mat in particular. I wish I knew how they actually made it...giant needles??

Monday, 17 May 2010

A Big Day Out

I am pleased to report that our day out in the city on Saturday was an all around success. The Beginners Crochet workshop was a good introduction into crochet. Over the space of four hours we learned the 4 main stitches and finished with a granny square.

I have to admit that I was surprised that I got the hang of it at all. I tried to get my mum to teach me late last year and it was a disaster. I think the problem was that I went to her with a pattern in mind and tried to launch straight into it before even learning the foundation stitches. At the time I also struggled with holding the yarn in my left hand and keeping my tension.

This time around I didn't even think about it and it wasn't an issue. I liked the fact that workshop teacher, Jeanette, didn't care how you held your hook or yarn as long as you got the end result.

Stitch sampler - chain stitch, double crochet, treble and half treble. I lost a few stitches along the way but I was getting the hang of it.

My first ever Granny Square - my precious!

Morris & Sons were kind enough to give class participants a student discount of 10% off all purchases after the workshop. Maja and I didn't take much convincing to take up the offer, but I did have trouble deciding on colours for my granny square. I couldn't resist buying some of Morris & Sons' own Empire yarn. It looks so delicious and comes in a beautiful range of colours. Pity in is made in China (from 100% Australian merino at least) and so pricey ($10.90/50g). I have Maja to thank for helping me select these beautiful, grown-up colours.

Morris Empire superwash merino 8ply in Bluestone, Smoke and Pumpkin

After the workshop we reunited with our husbands and my little angel and enjoyed the world's best dumplings at Din Tai Fung at World Square, before catching a bus to Newtown to check out a designer kidswear sale. We must have got there a little late in the day for the clothes but I did snap up these 3 gorgeous Lark knitted cupcakes for just $5 each.

Lark Cupcakes - cute enough to eat!

It was a great day out and now I am itching to start a big granny square cushion for my sofa but I am banned from picking up the hook until I at least finish the now very belated birthday shawl for my mother in law.

Friday, 14 May 2010

If I could crochet...

Tomorrow I am doing a Beginners Crochet workshop at Morris & Sons in Sydney with my good friend Maja. This is my belated Mother's Day present and to add to the excitement of the day my husband has the day off (a very rare occurrence for my chef) and will be looking after my daughter with Maja's husband and then joining us for lunch. So in anticipation of acquiring my new skill I have decided to compile a list of crochet projects that I would like to undertake...

1. A big granny square cushion cover

Images from Ravelry. Copyright Nikki and thornberry

Left: Swanky Granny Cushion byNikki from Mama Blue Knitting Goods based on Craochet Cabana's Basic Granny Square
Right: Circle in a Square Cushion Front by Thornberry based on a motif from the quarter of an inch blog

2. Potholders

Images from Ravelry. Copyright Illanna and throughtheloops

Left: Illanna's Floral Pot Holders.
Right: throughtheloops' Potholders. Pattern by Bea Aarebrot

3. Pincushions

Images from Ravelry. Copyright Olesdatter and Leanda Xavian

Left: Naalepuder by Liselotte Weller. English version of the pattern available free here
Right: Hexagon Pincushion by Leanda Xavian. Pattern available to purchase on the very pretty One Loop Short blog

4. Baby Booties

Images from Ravelry. Copyright Sylvia Schuchardt

Left: Little Button Loafers (baby booties) by Sylvia Schuchardt
Right: Baby Mary Jane "Skimmers" by Sylvia Schuchardt
Both patterns available from Hook Candy

5. An Afghan

Images from Ravelry. Copyright Alicia Paulson and Nova Seals

Left: Sunshine Day Baby Afghan by Alicia Paulson
Right: Ruby Hexagon Blanket by Nova Seals. Pattern available for free on Ravelry or the Novamade blog.

Wish me luck!

Monday, 10 May 2010

Knitted Gifts for Friends Old and New

So some of you might remember that back in March I ran a giveaway on my blog, the prize being that I would knit the winner something. It was a blatant attempt to draw in a few extra comments on my blog. Desperate? Maybe, but it worked; although most of the comments were from people who are friends or relatives. To keep things fair I decided to have two drawings, one from the friends/family category and one from my unknown blog followers. Nina literally drew the names out of a hat (ok, it was a bowl) and the winners were my good friend and former work colleague Kate, and Ravelry knitter and blogger Sarah from North Carolina.

Now that both winners have received their prizes I can finally post pictures of what I made for them.

Kate had requested something for her head in the colour of the ocean, so I knit her the Slouched Tuva Hat by Turvid in Malabrigo Silky Merino Yarn in Teal Feather. I didn't love the pattern and it's not as slouchy as I would have liked but I did love knitting with this yarn and think that it looks great on Kate.


This is a little gift tag I whipped up to go with these gifts

Sarah requested something for her hands in the sunburst orange so for her I knitted Susie's Reading Mitts in Malabrigo Worsted in the Rhodesian colourway. I was so happy with how there turned out, even after the small hitch of making the first mitten a size too big and having to knit it a second time.

A big thank you to Sarah for sending me the picture below. I'm so glad you like them.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Finders Keepers

The Finders Keepers is a design and craft market held in Sydney and Melbourne biannually. I decided to take a drive with Nina yesterday to visit my good friend, and Finders Keepers exhibitor, Nicky of The Near Future and to pick up a Mothers Day gift for myself.

Anna at the Near Future stand at the Finders Keeps market

Traffic and finding a park proved to be a bit of a nightmare, as did navigating the crowds with a stroller. Luckily Nicky and Anna offered to look after my pram and my daughter whilst I had a look around (big thank you girls!!).

A mountain of pompoms on the Dreamers & Believers stand

The absolute highlight for me was discovering Dreamers & Believers and purchasing myself one of their gorgeous Dreamcatcher necklaces. I rarely fall in love with accessories but this is just my cup of tea and affordable too. The pendant features a pompom trapped in a wooden ring, below which are three pretty beads. And you get a second pompom of your choice so that you can mix things up depending on your outfit. I wore mine today and just love it!

My lovely Dreamcatcher necklace

I also purchased one of Nicky's fabulous over sized tote bags. I got the mosaic, I love the colour and the yellow contrast lining. I think that it will make an ideal knitting bag, and is ideal storage for at least 3 or so WIPs.

Friday, 7 May 2010

A Mitten Reincarnated

Here's another craft project from last week.


When I started knitting last year it was the middle of winter and I was working in a freezing cold office here in the mountains. I decided that I needed a pair of fingerless mitts for working at the computer. Instead of using a pattern I decided to improvise with a lace stitch square that would be sewn up the side leaving a hole for my thumb. As you can probably predict, this project went wrong in so many ways. For a start I was using a wool/soy blend yarn which was quite horrible to knit with, especially in lace. As it was my first attempt at lace knitting I had to cast on and knit the ribbing 3 times before I got the pattern right, I kept mysteriously losing and gaining stitches in all the wrong places (later I found out about threading a piece of yarn through the stitches at the end of the ribbed section - if only I'd known then!). And to top it all off they looked terrible when I finally finished them. I didn't even bother to sew up the second one.

One of the "mittens" before reincarnation

On the positive side, what I did learn was how to draw up a lace pattern on a graph chart and how to read and knit from a chart, which I find much easier than reading the pattern.

So after being stashed away in a drawer for almost a year, I came across these again in last week's tidy up. I also came across 2 empty tea tins that I had stashed away at Christmas time. I try not to collect junk as we don't have the room for it in our little cottage, but I thought these tins could be useful for something. And so, two lost souls have come together in a new form. I painted the tins black and stitched up the misused mitts to form a pretty little tin cozy. One of which is now an ideal container for storing my collection of old straight needles and the other will be a gift for someone in my family.

T2 tea tins getting overhauled: Monk Pear and Girlie Grey (my favourite)

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Mrs Sniffles - Knitted Tissue Box Cover

Last week when it came time to take photos of my little knitting nook at home, I had to do some serious rearranging, tidying and styling. One of the items that stuck out like a sore thumb was the ugly tissue box sitting by the lounge. Solution: I decided to knit a stylish tissue box cover.

I jumped on Ravelry to search for a pattern, but there was nothing suitable. I did a google image search for inspiration and all it came up with was the frilly numbers you see at a country craft fair or school fete. Then I went back to Ravelry and searched for box, thinking I would find something with the basic structure I was after. What I found was Erica Knight's Knitted Baskets (Rav link) made from heavy string. I loved the concept and decided to give something similar a go. I purchased a ball of 3mm string from the local discount store and cast on....

Here's my pattern, designed to fit a tissue box sized 22.5w x 10.5h x 11.5d (cm).
Yarn: 1 ball (80m) of 3mm household string
Needles: 6.5 mm (US 10.5)

Main Panel
CO 22 stitches
Knit in moss stitch alternating K1,P1 rows.
Knit 22 rows or until it measures 14.5 cm from cast on edge.
Knit 4 stitches in moss stitch then cast off 16 stitches, knit final 4 stitches in pattern.
Knit 4 stitches, turn work and cast on 16 stitches using cable cast on. Turn work and knit last 4 stitches.
Continue in moss stitch for 22 rows or until work measures 30cm. Cast off.

Side panels x 2
CO 8 stiches and work 14 rows in moss stitch
Cast off
Sew side panels to main panel.

And there you have quite a funky tissue box cover. Feel free to use this pattern as a guide but you will need to experiment a little to get the right size for your materials. Warning: String is definitely not a great joy to knit! I'm thinking of making another one soon in leather thonging.

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