Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Nina Kina

A couple of weeks ago I finished the Baby Kina cardigan that I supersized for Nina, so I managed to get all 3 knit before the start of summer which is an fantastic achievement. Nina, most importantly, loves the colour and the soft drapiness of the fabric, and wanted to wear it straight away. Here she is in her Kina, self-styled.

There is a girl's version of this cardigan, which looks to be a little tighter around  the neckline and with more pronounced gathers. Since I was using a different weight yarn to that specified I figured I would have to fudge it a bit either way, and this way I didn't need to pay for the pattern again. If you are interested in my mods check out my Ravelry project page. 

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Pimp my Baby Jogger

It is that hot and humid time of year here in Queensland, so I desperately needed cool cotton seat liners for the twins' Baby Jogger City Mini Double, as they were getting so sweaty in it. I found some to buy online here but being the crafty type I decided I should make my own. I didn't really want to wait the 3-4 weeks the website indicates, nor pay almost $100. 

I found this great tutorial on the Floating World blog, took a few measurements and drew up a pattern. The fabrics were purchased from Lindcraft but I couldn't find cotton batting there so I found this great eBay seller and bought it there (also got some toy rattle and squeaker inserts for future knitted toys - I've never seen these anywhere before!). I even pre-washed the fabric. It's not something I normally do (although I know I should) but after a recent shinkage disaster I didn't want to take my chances. Unlike the tutorial, I didn't use binding to finish the edges, but rather sewed it together with right sides facing, turned it in the right way and then top stitched it. 
The tutorial instructs you to make friends with the buttonhole function on your sewing machine. Unfortunately my buttonhole function and I are no longer on speaking terms. After a couple of hours of screaming and swearing I got there in the end, but not before chewing up all of the green cotton I was using, so 12 out of 14 buttonholes are black. 

After the stress of it all, I am very happy with how they turned out. Mind you, next time I might just buy them!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Formula Tin Succulent Pots

We go through a lot of baby formula feeding the twins so I am always trying to think good ways to reuse the mountain of empty cans that accumulate. Then, recently my mum brought up a bunch of succulent cuttings from her garden and so began my first project, formula tin succulent pots.

Quick dry enamel spray paint in pink and "mandarin". 3 coats of the pink and 4 coats of yellow.

Drainage holes punched into the bottom with a carving fork. This was my husband's idea, I was going to use a drill. But I have to admit this was a quick and easy solution.

Add succulent potting mix, succulents and pebbles, and voila! I think they look pretty cute.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Christmas Craft Part 1: Potato Printed Wrapping Paper

Every year at Christmas time I feel the urge to get crafty and I dream up a long and unachievable list of handmade and DIY projects. Having kids makes the urge even greater as I attempt to relive happy kids craft memories with my daughter, who is not always as cooperative as I might like.

Last Christmas was memorable for its handmade failures. There was the gingerbread house that collapsed within 12 hours due to the humidity, the gingerbread men that suffered a similar fate and started shedding limbs, and salt dough decorations that took forever to dry out and then went soggy and fell from the tree (leaving their ribbons behind). The most memorable disaster occurred when we were gathered at the dinner table and started pulling the handmade crackers. We were expecting to find a candy cane and hand written joke in each so it was quite a surprise when a small army of sugar ants came flying out!

This year I had grand delusions of making all gifts handmade, but luckily remembered just in time that a mother of three kids under four might not have a load of time on her hands. So instead I'm going to try and keep it simple, tasteful, and ant-free!

Potato Printed Wrapping Paper
Equipment: potatoes, cookie cutters, sharp knife, roll of craft paper or brown paper (we used a roll of craft paper from Ikea), kid's acrylic paints, plastic lids.

Press potato haves down onto cookie cutter until the cutter is about 1cm deep, or as far as you can go before it cuts through the other side of the potato. With the cookie cutter still in the potato, use a sharp knife to cut away the centimentre outside the cutter.

We chose just two colors, warm yellow and red, and used plastic lids from baby formula tins (of which we have hundreds) as paint dishes.

Red stars. I was happy with how these turned out, and with the streaky effect I got as a result of doing it on the timber outdoor table.

I think the squirrels are my favourite even though it is not very Christmassy, especially here in the southern hemisphere.

The last time I tried potato printing was 2 years ago...Nina was 20 months old and more interested in covering her body with paint. I thought she would be better suited for the task this time around, but she preferred mixing all the paints together and using a paint brush to create a giant splodge on the paper. She lost interest in about 5 minutes, and I was left wondering why I bother. She is so creative and loves craft but I just can't get her to follow my instructions on tasks like this. Maybe I am expecting too much from a 3 year old, or maybe the designer in me is containing the artist in her? Anyone have any good tips for engaging toddlers in these kind of activities?

Stay tuned for Christmas Craft Part 2: Cotton Braid for Wrapping Gifts.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Twin Baby Kinas

I finally got a chance to download some photos from the camera so now is my chance to show off my first two Baby Kina cardigans (and my growing bubs). Olive and Eliza are now 7months old and were more interested in putting the cardigans in their mouths than cooperating for a photo shoot. I might try to photograph them again once they can sit up unassisted.

This pattern is a simple knit but my knitting of it was hampered by lack of sleep, teething twins and carpal tunnel (I had carpal tunnel after Nina was born and have it again now). I'm very happy with the outcome and absolutely love the yarn. I'm now a quarter of the way through a third Baby Kina for Nina but only seem to be able to manage 3 or 4 rows a night. Slow and steady...

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Buttons for Baby Kina

As a mother of twins it is now impossible for me to go anywhere without encountering total strangers who feel compelled to offer advice. One thing people often say is "you mustn't dress them the same!". I'm a pretty easy going type of girl and don't really go in for must dos and don'ts. I also know that the twins have very different personalities and get treated as individuals regardless of what they are wearing. I often dress them in matching or coordinating clothes because (a) it requires less thought and makes my life easier, (b) if they are wearing the same I know that one won't be any hotter/cooler than the other, and (c) my mother-in-law always sends 2 of every outfit.

So at the moment I am knitting not one, not two, but three Baby Kina cardigans. I had always planned to knit one each for the twins using the Debbie Bliss Eco Baby cotton, but originally I thought I would knit Georgie Hallam's Acacia for Nina using the Cascade Ultra Pima. Once I started knitting the first Baby Kina Nina saw the pattern and told me that she wanted one too. I decided she would get more wear out of a light cardigan than a knitted singlet, so I am going to fudge the pattern using thicker yarn and bigger needles , and maybe a few extra stitches, and hopefully end up with something that will fit a 3.5 year old.

On Monday we went on a little expedition to the local haberdashery shop to buy buttons for all three. I took a skein of each yarn and came back with two options for each. Now I just need to decide which ones to use.

Here's what I'm thinking...

  • Small shell buttons on the mauve
  • Square peach buttons on the peach
  • Large round pink shell buttons on the pink (these were actually Nina's choice and I think it was a stroke of genius. On it's own I thought the pink was too dark for the yarn, but held against it the sheen of the shell and the cotton complement each other perfectly!)

Or should I use the shell buttons on the peach to match the mauve cardigan?

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Spring Knitting

After finishing my Watershed a couple of weeks back the weather turned from mild winter to hot spring days and a woollen cardi in dark was the last thing I wanted to wear (there is always next winter!). The last thing I wanted to do was finish seeing in the ends of my second stripey baby blanket. For several nights I watched TV without knitting, and as nice as it was to have some snuggle time with my husband I was at serious risk of losing my knitting mojo!

Luckily a few days later a package arrived in the mail from Jimmy Beans Wool with just the soft and pretty cottony goodness I needed to get myself back on track. 2 skeins each of Debbie Bliss Eco Baby in mauve and peach and Cascade Ultra Pima in primrose. These will become little cardigans for my growing girls.

This was my first order from Jimmy Beans and I was very happy with the service and the prices (the Australian dollar was worth more than the US dollar when I placed the order - yippee!). It took about 14 days for the yarn to arrive via standard post. I'll definitely be ordering from them again.

Friday, 30 September 2011

FO: Watershed

I can't quite remember where I first saw Amy Swenson's Watershed, but I liked it the instant I saw it and wanted to knit one for myself. That was back in July 2010. It stayed at the top of my Ravelry queue for over a year until I finally cast on in early August this year.

As much as I love the design I have to admit that I struggled with the pattern. It could have just been my baby brain but I found it hard to follow at first and had to rip it out and start from scratch twice. I also followed the advice of many other revelry users and made several mods to compensate for a few design flaws. I'm the kind of knitter that likes to stick to the pattern so it bugged me that I had to do this. Anyway, for the full rant check out my project page.

I didn't make things any easier for myself by substituting the recommended worsted weight yarn with DK weight Bendigo Woollen Mills Classic 8ply. To compensate for this I knit the size 42 which is two sizes up from what I normally would wear. I could be because of this that it sits a little funny in front of the arm holes, like the raglan shaping starts too high. Or maybe its the design. I will have to knit it again one day and let you know.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Saturday Morning

With the twins a little under the weather and the weather a little windy, we decided it might be best to spend the day at home. Junior Chef and I whipped up a batch of raspberry muffins for morning tea and I got a chance to play around with my new camera.

We used this basic recipe, replacing the blueberries for frozen raspberries and adding some lemon zest. It's a good recipe to make with a toddler as it gets you to rub the butter and flour together, and what 3 yr old doesn't love getting their hands in the bowl. They might not have been the moistest of muffins but they were quite tasty and went down well with a coffee.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Stripey Baby Blanket #1

I was planning on waiting until both baby blankets had been completed before posting about this but, seeing as the second blanket is languishing in the ends-need-to-sewn-in phase, I don't think I can wait that long. And hopefully showing #1 off will help inspire me to finish #2.

So here it is....Stripey Mitred Baby Blanket

I used this pattern and included the picot hem. I'm a sucker for a picot hem and I think it really makes the blanket. It's knit in the round, which means nice short rounds to begin with and long, slow rounds as you get to the outside. After a good strong blocking it turned into the lovely square it was supposed to and the yarn relaxed nicely. The result is a lovely floppy baby blanket that is the perfect size for the cot or the pram. For more details, see my ravelry project page.

The yarn is Bendigo Woollen Mills Classic 8ply, an affordable and reliable choice for a blanket like this. It is warm, wears well and is machine washable.

Without sounding too proud, I have to say that this has to be one of the projects that I am most happy with. Usually I pick fault with everything I make but every time I see or touch this simple blanket it makes me happy. Maybe it's because it was made with love? Who knows.

The twins love it but will have to share it for the time being.

Friday, 26 August 2011

The end of romance

Remember this project I started back in December 2009? Well after many, many uninspiring hours of knitting and one long hiatus just before the finish line, I finally finished it.

Do I love it? Unfortunately not. You could say the romance ran out of this marriage long ago. I'm happy with the knitting (apart from one blaring mistake where I forgot to knit the lace pattern and just knit rib right in the middle just below the neckline!!) but it is a little too red, a little too big, and a little too long for my body shape.

I have learnt a few things along the way though. Like how vintage pattern might look cute but aren't as well written or constructed as modern ones. This should so have been knit in the round, and I'm sure a more experienced knitter would have made the mods themselves.

Also, a little while after I started this project I came across the knitwear designer Amy Herzog and started ready her fit to flatter series, and through her I also got into Trinny and Susannah (as much they often annoy me) and learnt a few essential tips for knitting and dressing for my pear shape. If I were to knit this pattern again I would knit a tighter cropped version, with the bottom edge finishing at my waist, to accentuate my smaller bust and waist and draw attention away from my bigger hips (and now post-twins tummy!).

Thursday, 25 August 2011

You know you have a problem when...

...you wake up in the middle of the night, turn on the bedside lamp and demand that your husband pass you your knitting needles so that you can "pick up stitches".

I'm starting to think that sleep deprivation and knitting are not the greatest combination!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

How do they make green wool?

The other day my three year old daughter asked me how they make green wool. I tried to explain that they dye it - "you know, like when we dyed the eggs at Easter time". As often is the case, she wasn't 100% satisfied with my brief explanation. So I was thrilled when I discovered this picture book at the library a few days later.

Woolly Jumper: The Story of Wool by Meredith Hooper is a great book that describes the process of how wool is made, starting with the sheep in the field and finishing with the knitted jumper.

The main part of the book illustrates each step of the process and gives a simple description, but there is a more detailed explanation of certain areas and terms - like how the wool is "scoured" and "carded" on the inside back cover. This is written in very clear, kid-friendly language and answered most of the questions my daughter had asked me whilst I was attempting to read her the book for the first time.

I think it's a great book for both children and their parents. I learnt a few things myself and Nina is now keen to visit a sheep farm.

Rebel Knitter

I should be finishing this...

...but instead I cast on this!

I do have a problem finishing things and in the case of baby blanket #2 I have hours worth of ends to weave in before blocking and then knitting on a border. But I just haven't been able to get this project out of my head and knew the only way to do it would be to get it on the needles. Now I just need to put them down again! In my defense, this project has been on my queue for a year and I've only got a few months left before it gets too humid and hot in this part of the world to wear wool.

I had grand plans of going paperless on this one and using my iPad to view the pattern but I just found it easier following the chart using a good old fashioned magnetic board and a pen (love my new pen which I recently purchased at one of my favourite shops.) More about the iPad and knitting apps later.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Where did the year go?

I am very excited to be the proud new owner of an iPad and think it could breath new life into this old blog. So to kick things off I thought I might fill you in on one of few things that I did finish knitting in the past year.

The last thing I knit before I gave up the needles due to morning sickness was this Aestlight Shawl by Gudrun Johnston.

I made it for my dear friend Rebecca and now wish I had one for myself. I didn't love knitting it - after getting off to a raging start it felt like the edging took forever! - but I love how it turned out and love the colour (Malabrigo's Impressionist Sky).

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

New Beginnings

Our gorgeous twin girls, Olive and Eliza, were born on April 5th. They are lovely, healthy little girls with very different features and temperaments.

A few days before I went into hospital I optimistically (or perhaps foolishly) decided to cast on these socks...

A nice and easy pattern that kept me company through the 6-odd hours of the classic BBC version of Pride and Prejudice watched marathon style whilst my daughter was in daycare and I had some precious time alone (alas, those days are now gone). This is as far as I got. It was hard to get overly inspired to knit these when the weather was still so hot and my feet and ankles were swollen beyond belief. The weather has finally cooled down now and my ankles are once again thinner than my calves so I will have to get knitting these again soon.

In the meantime I have started a more pressing project...pram blankets for the twins. After much consideration I decided to go with a colourful stripey mitred square knit in the round.

The yarn is Bendigo Woollen Mills Classic 8ply and the green colourway ties in with the green of our Baby Jogger City Mini Double stroller (love it!) nicely. Now I just have to finish two of these before Winter arrives.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Knit-not Nat

For anyone out there who is still following my blog I thought it was about time I fill you on on where I went and what I've been up to - and as you may have guessed from the post title, there hasn't been much knitting lately.

So the last you heard from me was back at the beginning of August. It was at that time that I fell pregnant again and soon after I started suffering the most horrible morning sickness. I thought I had it fairly bad with my first pregnancy but this time around it was so much worse. I felt too sick and too exhausted to travel to work or leave the house and the thought of knitting made me feel nauseous - so much so that although I had finished knitting the Aeslight shawl for my best friend it wasn't until 6 weeks later that I could bring myself to weave in the ends and block it.

My plan was to wait until the morning sickness had passed and I had a cute little scan to show you at 12 weeks before posting again. Well here's what the scan showed...

...that's right - twins! Needless to say the news came as a bit of a shock. And we found this out the day after my husband had finished up work and we were getting set to move 1000km north, away from family and friends, for a sea change in Noosa Heads on Queensland's Sunshine Coast. After a day or two where we considered putting off the move, we decided to stick to our guns and we made the move in early October. (The morning sickness, by the way, didn't pass until I was about 19 weeks).

Since then we have settled in fairly well to our new life. Jamie has a great job at Ricky's, one of Noosa's top restaurants, and the hours are very family friendly. Nina loves the beaches and the parks and enjoys going to daycare a couple of days a week. I continued working from home for Polli until a few weeks ago, and have found a fantastic midwife to support me through my pregnancy, birth and beyond. We haven't had the best luck with the weather - Queensland has had one of the wettest Decembers on record, major flooding and 3 tropical cyclones - but the lifestyle is great and the people are very friendly. I've struggled with the humidity up here (definitely not conducive to knitting!) but am looking forward to a mild and hopefully dry autumn and winter.

I have started to miss my knitting lately and would love to knit something again before the twins are born. Although I might have left my run a bit late now that they are due in 5 weeks and expected any time soon. A friend gave me Vintage Knits for Modern Babies for my birthday and I would like to make a couple of the Heirloom Baby Blankets from the book, although I struggle to imagine a time when it will be cool enough to need blankets. Instead I might try to knit myself a pair of comfy socks to wear in hospital....
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