Tuesday, 31 July 2012

'Sweet as Candy' Chloe

Now that the two Wingspans are under my belt, it is time for a little lighthearted fun with the very cute Chloe Cardigan by Alana Dakos from Never Not Knitting for a friend's little girl who will be turning three very soon. Along with the Yarn Harlot, Never not Knitting was one of the first knitting blogs I followed and her gallery of little girl and women's knits has always inspired me. This is the first time I'm attempting one of her patterns....gulp! It's an ingenious little design for a cardigan with puff sleeves knit in a top-down, seamless fashion. The pattern is clear to understand but given this is a new technique for me, I have to read it a few times before each step.

For this project, I'm also using a truly beautiful, multi-coloured hand-dyed wool by Candy Apple Lane. The base is made from Bendigo Woollen Mills Serenade which is a mixture of bamboo and wool and machine-washable!! The colour way is called 'Sweet as Candy' and is such a gorgeous yarn to work with. I'm addicted to knitting with it - it truly is like knitting with Smarties as I get excited about which colour variation will come next. Very like when you take one Smarty after another out, and try to guess which colour you'll pull out! The little girl whose birthday it is very soon, is gorgeous, chatty and very girly so hopefully the colour scheme will live up to her exacting standards!


I leave you with a couple of pictures taken this weekend during a bush walk in Bold Park. We walked for about 2 hours and 5.5 km - not bad for a three and five year old!

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Wingspan for Jodie Finished!

The Wingspan for Jodie was completed on Thursday night and after a wash and block on Friday, it was ready to be packaged up in its birthday present wrappings. I am really pleased with how it looks. I think the colours are stunning and while it is a little fuzzier than I expected originally, I think that its softness and fuzz just enhance the colourful halo it makes.

I did have a couple of dramas with the shawlette as I was hoping to add another 'wing' - have nine rather than eight. In the end, I ran out of yarn and had to strip back about two hours' work, which was a little irritating. I also had a bit of a scare with the length as it looked way to short but with a wash and blocking, it gained quite a few centimetres...phew!

Hopefully it will bring its recipient as much joy in wearing it as I had in knitting it! I think this will be the end of my addiction with the Wingspan pattern for the time being. It may pop up at some point in the future. Now, I have to prepare for a little girl's third birthday!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Another Take on the Snail Odyssey

This was supposed to be the finished pictures of Wingspan for Jodie - unfortunately this needs about another hour or so to finish it. The Masterchef finale last night was just not quite long enough to complete the whole thing! As it is such an addictive knit, I went to bed much later than desired anyway as I had real problems saying no to my internal knitter who was crying out 'just one more row'!

However, all is not lost, I have also been working on an 8ply version of the Snail Odyssey Baby Blanket. Here are a couple of peaks. I'm doing it in Bendigo Woollen Mills Soft Cotton in Honeydew and Wild Lavender. This has taken a little of back seat to some of the other knits due the colds ravaging the family. I'm hoping to put some hard yards on this over the weekend.

After Wingspan for Jodie, it is time for a couple more children knits with some beautiful hand-dyed wool.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Aran Newsboy and Aran Rose Beret in Store

I'm very excited about the new organic cotton beanies that have arrived in store from Jamie Sinclair from Puretots! They are very cute and practical in the best Jamie tradition with gorgeous deep winter colours. These beanies are made from extra soft, thicker (aran) organic cotton that provide extra warmth for those really cold winter mornings.

I love the Aran Newsboy in chocolate brown which fits snuggly and securely for extra warmth.

I am also very excited about the Aran Rose Beret in both a chocolate brown or white. While I love the opportunity to have pink for little girls (with two boys in the house, pink is in short supply!), I love little girls in chocolate brown!

Both beanies are available in Size 3-5 years and more sizes will be available in the coming weeks. Come and get yours at our knitwear store!

P.S. - I was mistaken as to how much more I have to do on Wingspan for Jodie! After I wrote the blog on Sunday I checked how many little wings I had made and I'm finishing up the eighth now....so very nearly finished! I'm going to add an extra little wing as I've got a bit more of the Katia Darling yarn. Having said that, due to continuing illness, it is taking me slightly longer to get this completed but hopefully by the next post, I'll be able to show you the completed item!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Winter Colours

While not as much knitting has happened this weekend due to this lingering cold, I've advanced slightly on Wingspan for Jodie. I'm probably about 70 percent through the shawl. As I just love the colours of this shawl, I couldn't resist posing it in different parts of the garden.

The wheelbarrow above contains the last of our mandarin crop. The tree has been so prolific this year that we have had to found creative ways of using them and giving them away. Mandarin juice is actually a really refreshing drink!

Next week is forecast to be very cold here (for Western Australian standards) and I'm looking forward to putting the full range of my knitted items to good use throughout the family!

Friday, 20 July 2012

Pause for Thought

Due to a monster of a cold, I've had to scale back on my knitting (down to zero last night). However, that little pause did make me think about my own journey in knitting and so I'm sharing with you some of my first projects. Seeing those, I'm proud that they were put to good use and much loved despite the flaws in the knitting

Here is my first project ever a garter stitch scarf in Patons Inca for my husband, along with my third and fourth projects (beanies for my lovely husband and my Big B to match his Dad). I learned to knit with the Patons Inca How to Knit book so many of my first projects were done in Inca! I still have a bit of a soft spot for that yarn. So many hours spent with it between my fingers and when you're a beginner, projects do take a very long time!

Here is my first full on jumper for Little B (a Patons Country jumper with a Patons classic jumpers pattern bought at a swap meet). I was so proud of this but devastated that it had a line of twisted knitting for a short part in the upper front part of the sweater (hence the iron train patch) and also I had nightmares with the shoulder shaping (hence the buttons to hide the bumpy shoulder line). Believe it or not, this little jumper was worn to death.

Lastly, I wanted to share with you my first intarsia project, which was not a winner due to the small v-neck size so while it was made for Big B, little B got to wear it for a bit. It was made out of cotton which was error number 2 as hiding the millions of ends in cotton is very tricky. I was not quite sure about the colours but this was sale yarn and you can't say no to sale yarn.

It's great to have a little reminder that it is not necessarily the technical ability of the knits which are prized but the love behind them.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Wingspan for Jodie

Yesterday was my last day on my own before the arrival of the boys. It was meant to be a day of work and then a relaxing evening knit. Well, this monster of a cold had other ideas so I spend another day on the sofa.....and this is no longer really a treat. Today I am determined to do other things even this means going out and about under par.

Having said that, I got through a fair bit of knitting. I am now almost half way through Jodie's Wingspan and it is looking really good. If you compared the picture below with the Wingspan over Oceans I made for my sister-in-law, you wouldn't really think it is the same pattern. All due to the properties of the different yarns! For this Wingspan, I am using a yarn I am not really familiar with called Katia Darling, which is a sock yarn of mostly superwash merino and a smidge of nylon. It has an amazing colour gradient going from dark grey/blue through to turquoise, white and green. Originally I had intended this to be a rainbow coloured shawl but couldn't quite find the yarn I wanted. This one still looks stunning and will be a bit softer as it has a slight fuzz factor.

It is still a really addictive pattern but I think I have now got it out of my system for the time being. I'm sure I'll come back to it!

The other big thing I did was to launch myself into knitting socks for myself using the magic loop method. I was a little hesitant as there is so much other knitting to do and I wasn't feeling up for learning something new but this was the time to try it with the boys are away and the household duties can be kept to a minimum! I've read so many people sing the praises of sock knitting that I've had to give it a go to see whether it has the same effect on me.

So, I am knitting the Plain Vanilla Socks by Keri McKiernan with the Happy sock yarn by Wendy, which is 75% bamboo and 25% nylon. It is an interesting yarn - the high bamboo content makes it very shiny and soft but a little splitty unlike its wool sock yarn counterparts. This is likely to be a project I have with me for some time as it will be my in-between projects project, a last priority knit. I don't think this will be my finest attempt at socks but hopefully they will fit and I'll have the courage to do two of them!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Lady of Leisure and Wingspan Finished

  My lovely husband and the boys went away this weekend for a break down south with their grandparents. This has been the first weekend on my own since I was in hospital pre-little B's birth and it is a momentous occasion! My lovely husband went on a boys weekend last weekend and felt in had done him a lot of good and suggested I now have my turn. We both work and care for our children in shifts equally and that means that we have very little time to ourselves. Now that they are almost four and five and a half, we are now trying to make a bit of time to pursue our own interests and regain a little energy, balance and zing. So, in summary, that is why I have now been a lady of leisure for 2 days!!

I had grand visions of what this weekend would entail - plenty of catch ups with girlfriends, lots of shopping (particularly for shoes and clothes - it is so hard trying to fit that in the one hour you have to do shopping on your own or even worse with the boys!) and of course, lots of time knitting. Unfortunately, my little boys left me a parting present of a monster of all sinusy colds and so my plans are still great but a little less extravagant. The revised schedule is now a couple of catch ups (have to miss out on seeing little MJ), swapping shopping for watching DVDs and still plenty of knitting and hopefully sleeping. A truly beautiful lazy weekend.

I also had a bit of a knitting plan worked out. I leave you to judge its doability! I've added where I'm up to with each element.
  • Finish the Wingspan over the Oceans for my sister-in-law. This was made with the beautiful Jalbrook Alpaca random-dyed cotton in 4ply (tick)
  • Do some design work to prepare for pattern testing (in progress)
  • Knit up a swatch of Bendigo Woollen Mills Serenade in preparation for making the Chloe cardigan for Amity (she's a gorgeous little chatterbox who will be turning three soon. I bought two skeins of hand-dyed "Sweet as Candy" that is made with a Serenade base from Candy Apple Lane (see below). (Yarn has been prepared but swatch still to be done)

  • Commence a sock with the Happy yarn I bought last week teaching myself the magic loop method (Watched how to do it but haven't commenced yet).
  • Practice a little crochet (I've done a tiny bit - not very successfully).
  • Start a new wingspan for Jodie, an amazing, enthusiastic science teacher. I've found a bright and vibrant Katia Darling yarn in bright blues and green which should work well I think. Yarn has been prepped and I've already cast it on. I can see it is going to be just as addictive as the last one as the colour gradients are just amazing. The terrible indoor picture below doesn't really do justice to the beautiful ocean blues and greens of this yarn. I think you'll be seeing a lot more of it!

  • Make up a little beanie or cardigan for MJ (in my dreams I think :-) ).

Friday, 13 July 2012

Wingspan Continued

A little update to show you that I'm now two thirds through the Wingspan shawlette for my sister-in-law. I'm absolutely loving the pattern and the beautiful Jalbrook Alpaca random-dyed cotton! I think this pattern is going to be addictive. I...uhm... I've already thought of someone else who might like this unusual shawl....and well, uhm (blush), I bought some more yarn today to make it up (a lovely Katia Darling wool).

Anyway, hoping to get this version finished by tomorrow! I'm planning a very crafty weekend indeed - a smidge of crochet, maybe a start on a sock and at least the swatch done for the little cardigan in the beautiful Candy Apple Lane yarn I recently bought (more on that later!).

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Wingspan Ocean-Style

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been struggling a bit with knitterly inspiration. I've been repeatedly diving through my stash trying to find some yarn that "spoke to me" and trawling the Ravelry and knitting pattern books to see if a project lit a lightbulb within me.

On Sunday, I was just thinking that I really wanted to make something for my sister-in-law who has been having a really tough time after the birth of MJ. I wanted to make an easygoing shawlette (something that can have baby vomit all over it) and something with really beautiful colours. Looking through my stash, only one skein stood out for that purpose....the mixed ocean blue of the hand-dyed cotton from Jalbrook Alpaca Knitwear Gallery, which is part of Jalbrook Cottages and Alpacas in Balingup, Western Australia.

I also found in an instant the perfect pattern, Wingspan by maylin Tri'Coterie Designs, which is a beautifully easy garter stitch short-row pattern that I think will work well with this cotton. It is very addictive and just the perfect, very gratifying project to get over my knitting hump. It feels like summer knitting this shawlette - a really inspiring way to get over the rainy, cold weather we are having. I'm hoping it will also provide a bit of sea and sunshine for its recipient!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Beginnings and Endings

Well, today marks the end of my DROPS cardigan project - yes, unbelievably it is off the needles and here are a few rather 'innovative pictures' taken by Little B and Big B (most happened to be of my feet and no, I didn't chop my head off the shots - all pre-done by my darlings!). This was the cardigan made in one piece from the beautiful Linbel by Phildar cotton/linen yarn given to me by my aunt during my trip to France last year. The cardigan has not been washed and blocked yet. Given the length of time it has taken me to make this (about 2 months!) - I couldn't wait to see if it fit! Not quite sure what I will wear it with yet....hmmm, shopping trip required?

I love the shadow of the little photographer poised to take the shot!

It is also a rare occasion where I have nothing left on my needles and have to start some new projects! I'm a little at a loss at the moment as to what to choose- I'm feeling a little exhausted so it might take me a few days to decide. This takes the mid-year tally to about 20 items - great time to pause! See below a picture of the finished Tiger Lily Tunic complete with buttons - apparently it fit the little recipient - hurray!

In terms of new beginnings, I learned to crochet this weekend! Well, when I say learn to crochet - it was making a chain, double crochet and treble with a friend teaching me with her beautiful yarn and lending me a great book and dvd. I ended up doing a bit of practice last night doing a little crochet flower and just a bit of double crochet. Not very impressive first attempts but I was thrilled to bits to actually be able to do it. Despite my knitting, I don't generally consider myself a crafty person and it is always a bit of a surprise if I get the handle on something! I don't think I'll become a regular at crochet but I'll be keen to try a few embellishments and nifty granny squares!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Farm Beanie - A Really Great Free Pattern

Over the last couple of weeks I have participated in the test knitting of a great little all purpose beanie by Allison Britt from Sparrow Play. As you know, this humble little beanie managed to teach me a whole lot of things!

The Farm Beanie is a free 8ply beanie pattern done in the round with a combination of easy ribbing and stitches that is interesting but not too taxing for the knitter. It makes a great easy, quick present knit and comes in sizes baby to large adult. I really enjoyed knitting this beanie, especially the crown part with its interesting stitching.

One of the things I love about this beanie is that while it is totally unisex, it is really perfect for those more men's men that we knit for! In fact, this beanie was originally designed for a farming man!

 I've made the little baby size twice and have earmarked it for two friends' boys as well as a couple of grown men friends! I think it it will be a wonderful way of using up a lot of different colours of 8ply!! I highly recommend you try it and also have a look at the other great designs by Allison Britt (all available on Ravelry).

Here is the little Farm Beanie that was my test knit offering (second version) in Oceanic and Baby Blue Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 8ply.

P.S. The Tigerlily Tunic is still drying outside - fingers crossed that it will be ready in time. So glad that I believed my swatch - the tunic looks about the right size now!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Button Decisions

The little Tiger Lily tunic (named after the Rondo yarn colour) has been steadily growing over the last few days and has been the perfect knitting project to match my levels of energy (yes, another cold sweeping through the family). The deadline for it to be finished, blocked and sewn up is Thursday evening...gulp!

So besides finishing another 15cm, I also still have to pick the buttons. The options are as follows:

1) Little flower buttons in wood - classic and would work well but perhaps a little unadventurous?

2) Big yellow and blue buttons - a bit of a modern twist - like the idea but not sure about the buttons. Maybe it is all too much?

3) Big and small lime green buttons - something colourful with a little twist. Will the lime be a bit insipid against the stronger orange?

I'm leaning towards option 1 or 3 I think. I'm hoping to show you the finished tunic in my next post!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Seeking Knitting Mojo

These last few days have been a little odd for me....I've felt a bit lost knitting-wise without the Snail Odyssey baby blanket or the Snail cardigan on my mind. It's that drive that you feel from thinking through major projects and suddenly you are all out to sea because you don't have the next leap of inspiration, the next big project to follow. You're also a bit shy of knitting commitment having had such a long relationship with a project. However, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee has written eloquently about this case and I'm taking her advice....going easy until the desire for knitting and some sort of project reemerges.

So, to fast track this process, I took a whole stack of knitting books and magazines to my hairdresser's appointment with me (to the bewildered amusement of the lady cutting my hair - obviously not a knitter!)...nothing there. Next up, combing the Ravelry patterns....no not there either. Oh well, I'm sure it will come - there are many beautiful balls of wool requiring attention in my stash and sooner or later one will start to come to the forefront of my consciousness.

In the meantime, I'm pottering around doing a small gift project, a little T-shirt tunic for my lovely husband to take down south with him as a present for the friends he is staying with (I've already got the smaller cardigan for the youngest daughter). This little knit is a pleasant, relaxing mixture of stocking stitch and garter in a beautiful vibrant apricot orange Bendigo Woollen Mills Rondo...nothing complex or taxing and should hopefully be finished soon. I've had a few gauge issues with this wool but this pattern treats it as a 10ply and it seems to be working out fine.

So, in the meantime, a little bit of knitting and a little bit of gardening and hopefully the knitting will fall back into place in the next week!