Thursday, 28 June 2012

Welcome Little Nephew!

Very exciting news! Our little nephew MJ was born today and both Mum and baby are doing well. There is so much excitement throughout the family for this new little addition. Knitting needles have been flashing, hard at work to get ready for the big event among lady folk amid family and friends. There is one little person who wasn't so excited and that is little B. He mentioned to me that he would be far too busy drawing to meet little MJ - no time Mum! His older brother though was much more excited at the idea.

So that means that I have finished a lot of my major projects on the go...the Snail Cardigan and the Snail Odyssey blanket as well as the test knits so only my DROPS cardigan and sewing up of the Pink Frog Yarn cardigan (although I can take my time with that one now!).  I've got a couple pictures below of the Snail Odyssey Blanket in its natural environment, the veggie patch.

So....the mind starts wandering....what will I do next.....something for a baby, something lacy or perhaps some home decoration project? Who knows!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Snail Odyssey Baby Blanket

A very short post tonight just to say that my Snail Odyssey baby blanket, which I designed for our due-any-day little niece or new, is finished! Yay! I was really nervous blocking it out and keeping my fingers crossed as it is a piece I have dreamed of doing for a long time inspired by out little garden. I'm so delighted it turned out well!!

It is made from Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 4ply in Leaf colour. This blanket was the original inspiration for the Snail Cardigan.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

The Lessons of the Humble Beanie

 I did a test knit this weekend of a beautiful little pattern for another knitter and this teeny weeny beanie and its bigger brother taught me some very humbling lessons. (Pictures and more details will be available when the pattern is released)

First, and I can't stress this the pattern! Sounds simple but you can end up with quite a different look from intended and redoing is just annoying.

Second, recheck the pattern as you start decreasing, make sure you've read it at least a couple of times. I managed to totally misread a section. It is the strength of the design that the finished result still looks good.

Third, remember to adapt your cast-on technique to the piece you are knitting and all the tricks of the trade that go with it. This is particularly galling as I had made the point since the beginning of the year to be conscientious about this.

Four, remember to test the gauge you're working at, even if you've worked this yarn a million times before. It is a funny thing that a knitter can forget to swatch and measure gauge after four years of knitting. This is one of the classic mistakes that you read about and like me, I am sure you have many stories of walking on the wild side without swatching and coming up with a disaster. Normally I am very good at swatching and take the time to block my swatch and check my gauge.

I got the visual proof with these two beanies that my gauge on double pointed needles is different from circular knitting and circular knitting is different from straights. It also changes over time so while I've always been a tighter knitter on double pointed needles - surprise! This is no longer the case - ah the wonders of knitting.

So now I have one teeny weenie beanie that has wrong decreases and a slightly wonky brim but for all intents and purposes should be useable and its big brother got frogged under the fascinated eyes of my Big B. He loved the term "frogging" for unravelling the project in question.

So to sum up, think before casting on and don't just knit away unless you've knit in that pattern and wool many times before (even then it is worth taking a breath and preparing properly). I'm hoping to redo the little beanie for the upcoming new arrival - it is such a great little design.

However, I will leave you with a little photo of the baby blanket which is now 95% done....yippee! I cannot wait to block it and see what it is really like.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Slow is Beautiful

Today was a really relaxing day with my lovely husband at home as well. One of those days where you do not have anything planned, nothing that you must do, no one to see and you are free to do whatever you fancy... This happens so rarely with us that it is like a mini-holiday - a burst of sunshine and lightness! It was cold and rainy but that did not really matter. We kept the heater on and just quietly went about our hobbies. Even Little B was really happy doing his own thing most of the day, once Big B had gone to school - pottering amid the duplo, the finger puppets and the dinosaur books.

For me of course, free time means knitting and I got a few things done so the to-do list no longer looks quite as daunting. I have finished knitting the pink Frog Tree Yarn baby sleeveless cardigan and it is now blocked out to dry. It will still need some embellishments to make the seemingly random array of eyelets make sense! The Frog Tee Yarn was beautiful to work with and looks like it will suit this little cardigan. I took the board outside to take a quick picture in between rainy periods.

Spurred on by finishing the Frog Tree cardigan, I started on the little test knit beanie I'm doing and am about half way - yay! I love beanies and this one is no exception. I'm using up some of my leftover Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 8ply. It is so nice to go back to 8ply after several weeks using smaller needles and yarn. This beanie is knitting up quite quickly!

Lastly, I have one and a half snails to go to finish the baby blanket for our new little niece/nephew. Apparently, there have been no twinges yet so fingers crossed, I should make it on time!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Baby Project Update - Deadline is Looming

A very quick update today on my various projects on the go...a busy week ahead :-).There are a couple of new ones which have snuck in!

A) Snail Odyssey Baby Blanket - Well, I made excellent progress on the weekend once I got the courage to drop a stitch down 21 rows and do them back up in garter stitch. It worked fine despite the yarn sticking a bit in places. So excellent progress was made until I hit the tiredness of Sunday and yesterday and realised I'd made some quite fundamental mistakes over 4 rows which need to be taken back tonight and redone. I'll get there.. Very bad flash picture here:

B) Pink Frog Tree Yarn Baby Sleeveless Cardigan - Ahem, yes that sneaked under the radar and I hadn't told you about this one yet. This is in case the new little baby of the family turns out to be a girl. It's a very quick piece that was done while too tired to do the baby blanket. I've almost finished the second front part so just a tiny bit of knitting, then blocking, seaming up and a little embellishment.

C) Test Knit - Oh yes, just in case I didn't have enough on, there was this cute little baby beanie that needed to be tested. More on this later. At the moment, I've only just cast on and it is due at the end of the month. I'm doing it in the left over 8ply Bendigo wool from Little B's Slouch Beanie (Oceanic and Baby Blue).

D) My Sleeveless DROPS Cardigan - Just about 10% of the knit remaining - very little in fact and I'm dying to finish it off soon. It will have to wait for the baby knits to be finished. I think it will look good after a little washing and blocking!

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Train Driver Vest and Beanie Released

It's been a little while in coming but the Train Driver Vest and Beanie are now available on Ravelry and on my website. This little unisex vest is a favourite of mine as it knits up quickly (being 10 ply wool), is hard-wearing and little children can put it on and take it off themselves.

I've made this pattern a number of times now and it looks good both in variegated or plain styles.

Many thanks to Diana and Susannah for the patient test-knitting and wonderful suggestions!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Snail Cardigan Finished!

Ok, so it is less than two weeks to the deadline for my sister-in-law's baby and I've just finished the little cardigan. Phew! On the whole I am happy with it...aside from the sleeves which were a bit of an afterthought. As you will know already, I'm absolutely fascinated by our little veggie patch and snails are such a common part of it that I had to capture it in some way. Although the yarn snails are so much cuter than the reality!

Next phase will be the snail baby blanket. I've also just cast on a beautiful little pink baby vest with the beautiful Frog Tree Yarn I bought a little while ago....just in case it is a little girl!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Raining - A Brilliant Time for Colour

The thunderstorms have gathered over the sky over the last few days. Gusty winds have assaulted the house and garden and the rain has been pelting down. However, inside we're still snug and we've had a crafty few days (given the need to stay indoors). It has been a wonderful time to think about colour and the next few projects (after the baby knits). Here's my little bit of colour in the garden - hopefully it will survive the winds!

Speaking of baby knits, the baby blanket is back in prime knitting position and I was flying through it over the last two nights. I discovered a bit of a snag late last night - I'd accidentally shortened the garter border on one side by one stitch and so I will have drop over 30 rows to fix it. It is a bit daunting but I can't really afford the time to redo those thirty rows! Patience.....big breath and let's begin.... Otherwise, I'm almost half way with the blanket.

On a different note, if you're having a bit of a break between difficult knits or needing a pick me up for any other reason - it is worth a look through Dottie Angel - the peachy crafty world of tif fussell. It is a beautiful book, full of colour and quirky project ideas. It has a bit of everything in it and the photos are really inspirational. It has made me rethink my home decorations - a thought which had not seriously crossed my mind since I have had children (or only in a really fleeting way). This book was a perfect antidote last week to the misery of the weather.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Snail Cardigan Under Construction

A very quick post before my boys start demanding breakfast. Here are the raw pieces of my snail cardigan for my sister-in-law's soon-to-be-born little one. I haven't had much time this week so have just blocked everything ready for assembling.

Now just need the courage to start the stitching together! I actually quite like the process of making garments up at this stage. However with very fine materials like this where I'm not sure all the pieces will fit, there is a certain amount of trepidation and I usually need a certain motivation called last minute panic to launch myself into it. Since the baby is due in two weeks and I still have to finish the blanket....I think we can safely say this will hit really soon!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Balingup Long Weekend Part 3 (end) - Golden Sunshine and Treasures

An amazing place to see at this time of year is the Golden Valley Tree Park. The boys were fascinated by the autumn colours of the leaves around Bridgetown and Balingup and were picking them up in the street (We don't get as many deciduous trees in Perth and the colours are not quite as intense due to the lack of cold weather). Both boys wanted to make a leaf picture so my mum and I took them to the Golden Valley Tree Park, particularly the international tree collection.

They had a ball running around in the leaves and collecting all kinds of different shapes. I felt like a little girl again in Switzerland!

Lastly but not least, I always visit The Village Pedlars for local handmade knitwear, quilts, craft and preserves. This time I was particularly looking for something for my niece and they had just the thing - some very cute dolls clothes at very reasonable prices. It is open seven days and they're on the main street of Balingup.

So it is goodbye to Balingup for a little while but we'll be there soon again! I'm off to prepare for my lovely husband's birthday dinner!

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Balingup Long Weekend Part 2 - Alpacas and More

Another opportunity to show you some of the fabulous places around Balingup. I'm biaised I know but I love the village, the countryside and the great people who live there and give so much to make it a memorable place. Each time I come down, there is always something new and happening in the village - exhibitions, events, etc.

Golden Valley Duck Pond

Today, I really want to show you a place that I rediscovered....Jalbrook Alpaca, both the knitwear boutique and the chalets. I'd been many times before to the shopfront on the main street and had previously bought some of their lovely hand-dyed cotton as well as admired their range of South American knitwear. However, this was the first time that I'd visited the chalets and the new shop which has relocated to this idyllic setting, not far from the town centre. It is a real gardener's delight, a place of relaxation and beauty.

Jan showed us around the property and the boys got to feed the alpacas, Big B (my five year old boy) got spat at by an alpaca (a memorable if not terribly pleasant experience) but he was still really excited about having fed the alpacas and played with the little finger puppets she had. He is even going to do his news at school tomorrow on alpacas.

For knitters out there, there is some gorgeous handspun, hand-dyed yarn made on the property and also a range of Australian cotton that is also random-dyed at Jalbrook. The knitwear is really interesting on a design/texture level and is made by a community of women in South America who have been working with Jan for over 15 years.

As you can guess, I did not leave empty-handed. I bought a beautiful bright blue random-dyed skein of cotton and also a pair of little alpaca booties. I don't really enjoy making booties so this is one garment I am always keen to buy from other knitters. This is a must-see, both for the beautiful setting and the alpaca products!

Next post will be a look at The Village Pedlars and the beautiful Golden Valley Tree Park. Hopefully I'll have finished my baby cardigan then too! I'm up to the second sleeve and found my buttons - some pretty funky, slightly iridiscent green beauties.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Balingup Long Weekend Part 1 - Bridgetown for Knitters

A slight delay with this post due to some computer glitches down south but what a beautiful winter long weekend! The sun shone, the leaves were all golden and the cold thankfully stayed away each day, which allowed us to do a lot of exploring! We've found a few new places to try, lots of lovely food to eat and some excellent time tucked cosily away knitting!

On Saturday we visited Bridgetown which is about 20 minutes south of Balingup and is quite seriously the coldest place in Western Australia. It is a beautiful old town and we really haven't spent enough time there. This time we got to check out a couple of stores which fellow crafters should not miss in the area:

A) WAG Walters Emporium - This place is a real treasure trove of gift items ranging from garden ornaments to quilts, crafty books to amazing jewellery. It's a riot of colour with new and interesting combinations everywhere. They even had a little toy tractor which entertained the boys while I got to have a little look around! A quirky find with lots of interesting items suitable for a range of gifts. I dare you to leave the store without a little something for yourself as well!

B) Gentle Era - A little oasis of yarn, fabric and general haberdashery in the main street of Bridgetown. Of particular interest is the range of Naturally yarns - in particular the Loyal range, some great little buttons for kid's clothes and also a surprising range of patches. So pop in and I think you'll find a number of friendly knitting enthusiasts. I know I said that I would be looking for little girl colours but I ended up buying two balls of a gorgeous blue,green, pale grey and white to make an 8 ply baby cardigan - at least that is my current thinking!

I leave you today with another scene from Bridgetown. Tomorrow, I'll show you some unmissable places in Balingup for the knitter and/or craft lover - Jalbrook Alpaca and The Village Pedlars!

The knitting is progressing really well so I should be able to show you in a few days some interesting little items! I've finished the main body of the baby cardigan (hoping to block it tonight) and I'm just finishing off the border around the second armhole for the DROPS cardigan. Isn't wonderful when you can have a great time with family, see lots of new things and knit!!