Thursday, 30 August 2012

Spring Cotton

Just finished of the Stegosaurus birthday cake for Little B's birthday party tomorrow - phew! I am quite obviously never going to be a cake decorator...there was chocolate icing everywhere, on every surface of the kitchen. This stegosaur is toothless with blue eyes, well manicured white toenails and is well-endowed in all sorts of chocolate spikes and armour. It was quite a battle to get this all to stick together and it still looks a bit like an eight year old's science project but with luck, it will be right up Little B's alley!

In view of the upcoming party and a very busy week all round, very little knitting has occurred. I'm continuing the little scrap of lace but dreaming wildly about the lovely new random-dyed cotton I picked up from Jalbrook Alpaca Knitwear Store in Balingup last weekend. I love these spring colours so different from the colours I've been wearing for the last few months. What I do with it is another story but perhaps it might include butterflies, flowers and other creepy crawlies!

 I also got given a beautiful ball of greyish brown possum/merino wool and am wondering what special little something I could make with exciting!

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Scrap of Lace

After all the testosterone and all boy fun of the mittens, I am finally getting to a little scrap of lace I have had swirling in the back of my mind for ages. This is a very, very belated part of a birthday present for one of my sister-in-laws. It has gone through many evolutions in my mind and I think it has been worth the wait.

This is very loosely based on the Quite Contrary short scarf pattern by Hannah Sukut. It is a very short scarf/neck warmer that is meant to be fastened with a brooch - very Victorian/early 1900s. My sister-in-law takes part in quite a few Steampunk events, where early 1900 wear is encouraged so I think this should fit in with the general theme. A cross between Steampunk/ice queen/gentlewoman perhaps?

I've used the basic shaping in garter stitch and method of increasing the stitches in each row. I've added extra stitches though and used the lace pattern from the Geographe Bay Scarf instead of the Cockleshell pattern. I tried the original pattern but it just didn't look right for the look I had in mind. I've also extended the scarf a little so it fits comfortably around the neck and will use a different ruffle around the edge. I will need to pick up well over 300 stitches around the edge - agghh! The intent is for the ruffle to have a stripe of black at the join and then another at the very edge of the ruffle to create a bit more interest.

The yarn I am using is a French yarn - Caline by Bergere de France in a lovely dove grey (in keeping with the theme of the era) and will use a Sheperd 4 ply Babywool for the black. The Caline is a French baby wool bought on my trip to France last year, which is 60% acrylic, 20% worsted and 20% polyamide. While I would normally use a pure wool/cotton for this type of work, I'm hoping that its soft, wash and wear nature will suit any Steampunk adventure and still give enough stitch definition. Originally I had intended a dark blue merino/cashmere for this project but dark blue really doesn't suit Steampunk fashions and I'm hoping this colour combination will be more appropriate.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Medieval Carnivale

We've just had a really wonderful weekend in Balingup, soaking up all things medieval! The boys were excited to go down and see knights jousting and they took a lot of care with their costumes. The Knightly Mittens were finished in the nick of time and put to good use as were the Poky Hedgehog Mittens. The hedgehogs got thoroughly muddy and wet within 10 minutes of their first outing and I think that is a sign they will be very much loved!

The day at the Medieval Carnivale was filled with lots of ice cream, medieval crafts and lots of jousting. There were spinners and knitters too! To top it off, we saw the burning of the dragon which the boys found absolutely fascinating.

Here are a few pictures from this wonderful day amid the Balingup trees:

We ate our ice creams under the shade of the dragon!

Knights jousting

The dragon before the fire
 It's good bye to Balingup and a return to everyday life but we'll be back there in a few weeks for more adventures! After this testosterone-packed weekend - it is with pleasure I get back into a more gentle era of knitting and a little scrap of lace is unfolding ....
Balingup Medieval Jesters

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Knight in Shining Armour Mittens

Due to a few health hiccups in the family, I am now really racing against time to get Big B's Knightly Mittens completed in time for the Medieval Carnivale down in Balingup this weekend.

This photo has the truest colour of the mitten

I have about 30% of one mitten still to do, fortunately I have almost finished the heraldic emblem on the last mitten and then it is just one colour all the way with some simple shaping and a thumb to go. This is an adaptation of the Poky Hedgehog Mitten by Looking Glass Knits on Ravelry and is made in Panda Magnum Soft 8ply grey and Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury trimmings for the heraldic emplem. This may not be my best effort at intarsia or at mittens but it looks pretty effective for its purpose - a chain-mail gauntlet suitable for a knight.

The whole family is very much looking forward to this yearly event which is tremendous fun for the whole family. Last year the whole family dressed up - even me temporarily overcoming my aversion to dressing up!

We're really looking forward to seeing the medieval crafts, the jousting and also some of the acts. There is a bagpipe player that has fire coming out of his bagpipe! And there is also a grand parade with dragons and giant chickens....And a burning of a big straw dragon in the evening....any little boy and girl's dream day come true :-) !

Here are a couple of photos from last year's Carnivale. I hope to get a lot of pictures to share with you when we get back! After all this medieval fervour, perhaps a more dainty knitting adventure is called for next?

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Plain Vanilla Socks Revisited

Well, perhaps spring is not quite here yet....the skies have opened again and rain has splashed down most of today. The mood inside our house is also a little more subdued after Big B was up several times last night and was finding it hard to keep any fluid in him. It's a return to illness for us again... So it will be an early night tonight for my lovely husband and I, just praying that Big B feels a bit better and Little B doesn't come down with it.

Therefore, very quickly, I thought I'd share with you where I'm at with my forgotten sock project (Plain Vanilla Socks in Wendy Happy Yarn) - the last project to be picked up at any point in time. I have to admit that I'm not totally thrilled by this project although it is so far meeting the very low performance standards I've set for this sock. I mean, it fits a human foot and looks like a sock! I think perhaps part of the issue is that, while the colour is a fairly practical one for me, it just doesn't sing or inspire me at the moment. Despite spending so little time on it, it is advancing slowly but surely and I'm quite happy that I've got this far.

See, it actually fits!
Between you and me, I have the sneaking suspicion that this will be one of the projects coming with me later next month on our travels....let's hope it is slightly more advanced by then!

Don't forget to enter the free beanie competition on our facebook page. The winner will be announced tomorrow Wednesday 22nd August at 8.30pm Western Australian time.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Spring is in the Air

Spring seems to be hitting a little earlier than usual this year in our part of the world. The balmy weather is inspiring all sorts of spring activities in this household - a bit of spring cleaning and the construction of future fun activities.

1) I actually tidied our office nook! My lovely husband was particularly chuffed at this - a very unusual thing to happen. While I am generally tidy around the house, my desk is very much the depository for all things happening at any moment in time and it is a bit of an archeological dig to find anything. I've taken inspiration from Attic24's blog and Pauline's beautiful, colourful house to have a little bit of colourful yarn on my desk - the next few items on the go perhaps? Notice the big white space - wow!

2) A tree house is being built in the backyard by my lovely husband and his best mate. It was a real adventure for my lovely husband, his best mate and the boys. Both Big B and Little B have been coming up with designs to inspire the workers! Still a little bit more to go but mostly there!

3) This one isn't so surprising - we're getting ready for the Balingup Medieval Carnivale held on Saturday 24th August. We still need to sort out the costumes for the boys and as part of it, I'm making these knightly mittens for Big B. They're a modification of the Poky Hedgehog Mittens - upsizing them and putting in an intarsia emblem - to imitate a gauntlet with heraldic emblem. I'm not entirely convinced by them but I think they will do the job.

Don't forget to enter into the Owl Earflap Beanie Giveaway Competition - either through the A Passionate Yarn facebook page or just leave a comment on my previous post, Owl Beanie Giveaway. The competition is open until 8.30pm (Western Australian time) Wednesday 22nd August.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Owl Earflap Competition and Poky Hedgehog Mittens

As already mentioned in the previous post about the Yarn Giveaway competition, August is a very special month for me as it marks both the time when I learned to knit and the birth of little B, my youngest son. He's turning four at the end of this month and with that, it is clear to see that he is growing in independence and has a great thirst for learning. In fact, he is on the way to becoming a little boy at school! In many ways that is also applies to my own knitting journey, with the ability now to tackle projects I wouldn't have dreamed of before and getting a reasonable result on most occasions!

In honour of this special month, I'm giving away one of these really cute Owl Earflap Beanies by Jamie Sinclair from Puretots. 

A Passionate Yarn is very lucky to be the Australian online distributor for these beautiful organic cotton beanies handmade in Western Australia. This is one of the most popular little beanies in our range this winter and I'm so happy to be able to share one with you.
To enter the competition, it's simple - go to the A Passionate Yarn facebook page,  just add a comment to the photo album saying whether you'd like a purple or brown owlflap beanie :-) ! One comment per person please. If you don't use facebook, you're welcome to leave a comment at the bottom of this post to enter.

The winner will be drawn by random number generator on Wednesday 22nd August at 8.30pm. Feel free to invite friends to participate! Good luck everyone!

Also, I just finished the Poky Hedgehog Mittens by Looking Glass Knits and I'm so delighted with the result. Little B loves them and took some persuading to take them off for breakfast. He was getting them to talk to each other!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

First Poky Hedgehog Mitten

After a few little tribulations in making this mitten (entirely due to this knitter's instruction reading skills), I've got one little mitten to show you and I'm so pleased with the result. It fits Little B perfectly and it is so adorable! It is also a very easy mitten pattern (Poky Hedgehog Mitten by Jennifer Little from Looking Glass Knits) to follow, notwithstanding my earlier lack of reading!

I should finish the second one hopefully by Friday and then start on the next set for Big B. He's hesitating between dinosaur, knightly or yellow mittens....personally, I'm hoping the yellow ones win the battle ;-)!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Poky Hedgehog Mittens

I was waiting until this morning to write my post since, going to plan, I would have had a beautiful little hedghog mitten to show you. Little B has set his heart on the Poky Hedgehog Mittens by Jennifer Little.They are really beautiful and should not be too difficult to do. By the way, check out also the little spotted toadstool beret in the same range - it is really very cute!

I'm doing the hedehog in black and grey Panda Magnum Soft yarns. Yes, I know acrylic is unlike me but I've got a serious shortage of 8ply yarn at the moment and a huge stash of black and grey Panda Magnum Soft which was originally meant for a jumper for my lovely husband (his request for the yarn). The black and grey should work well for these little mittens.

It rained a lot of the day yesterday and was a perfect day for knitting. Unfortunately, while I made great progress on the mitten (more than 3/4 of the way through one mitten), I realised firstly that a) it was way to big (it fit me perfectly!) so tinked it back to a reasonable size and b) somehow had way too many stitches (I somehow misunderstood how the increases were worked even though the pattern is quite clear). End result, I had to undo the entire mitten last night, which was heart-breaking.

So no pictures today of the mitten, better luck during the week hopefully!

Thursday, 9 August 2012

A Quiet Day at Home

There are days when you just have to stay around the house and time seems to pass in an entirely different way. As Big B has not been feeling well, we've been restricted to not venturing away from the house and the garden has become the main focus for play. With the boys focused on making 'garden stew', I had time to finish off the little baby cardigans (made with the yarn from Candy Apple Lane) and take a couple of pictures.

In spending time around the garden, the boys and I got to discover a few little beauties that were worth capturing.

We spotted some gorgeous blossoms on the broad beans (I'd never seen them before) and increased our haul of fresh purple turnips!

Overcoming My Fear of Socks

The little baby Chloe cardigans are in the backyard drying and it is time to turn my attention once again to my other projects before starting on the mittens for Little B. I thought I'd show you were I am at with my neglected sock project, which is my project for in-between projects and perhaps my  next on-the-plane project.

I am knitting a pair of Plain Vanilla Socks which is a great free beginner sock pattern by Keri McKiernan. I'm learning the magic loop method as I go and trying to conquer my fear of sock knitting. I'm using Wendy Happy Sock wool to also inspire me to continue!

Why such a fear of socks? Well, my first pair of socks was an absolute disaster and in fact, I never got to start the second sock (evidence below). It was a pattern from a magazine using chunky wool and it looked just perfect for my lovely husband. However, a combination of my own inexperience and errors in the pattern ensured I had this single sock experience three times (as I undid and redid the whole sock a number of times). Even after completing all of these changes, as you can see, this sock was pretty much useless to my husband and the project got pushed to the bottom of my stash box. It is still lagging there awaiting to be either thrown out or frogged - not sure which it will be at this stage.
This time, the aim is not to have a perfect sock but just to finish two socks that at least vaguely look like socks and would fit a human being! I'm intending to knit a few more rows tonight and tackle the heel flap part!

The wool for Little B's mittens has been chosen - a beautiful blue, green Naturally Loyal. Just awaiting pattern inspiration!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Baby 'Sweet as Candy' Chloe Cardigans

There are at least two babies due soon among the mummies in Big B's year at school and I am determined to welcome into the world with a little beautiful woolly surprise. As I know that both these little babies will be girls and that they only have brothers, it is a chance to give them something really girly as their mums can't wait to fill their wardrobes!

The little Chloe cardigan I made last week was so easy I've decided to make two more newborn sizes in Candy Apple Lane's 'Sweet as Candy' yarn with different trims for variety. One will have a light pink trim and the other a light blue trim. To cater for the limited time these mums will have to look after their clothes, I have modified the ruffle (based on other knitters' experiences with this cardigan shared on Ravelry) substituting two rows of garter stitch before casting off. This is to ensure the ruffle stays down a bit more without blocking it. It has really surprised me how little time they take to knit! I've finished one (just needs to be blocked and the button added) and the other, I should finish tonight.


After these little beauties, it is probably time to knit the mittens Little B has been dreaming of. He's mentioned several times that he would like mittens for his birthday and so it is important that a pair materialise before the end of the month!

If you haven't done so already, check out the yarn giveaway competition on the A Passionate Yarn facebook page, the competition closes tomorrow at 7.30pm Perth time! Both yarns are beautiful and will be an asset to your stash.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Yarn Giveaway Competition

My journey with knitting is inextricably linked with the journey of my youngest little boy who will turn four at the end of the month. Due to some complications with the pregnancy, I found myself on bed rest for and taught myself how to knit with the Inca Patons 'How to Knit' book and a running start from my mum in doing a knitted-on cast on. That was literally about four years ago now! Like my little boy who is growing into an independent, smart, chatty and funny little person, my knitting has grown from a little hobby to pass the time to a passion that has brought a more creative, relaxed and connected dimension to my life.

To celebrate this milestone, I am giving away two beautiful skeins of special yarn as part of a little competition on my facebook page. The first skein (120 grams) is a beautiful part merino, part silk handspun, hand-dyed dark blue and black 12 ply yarn from Bilby Yarns. This is a pure luxury yarn and is ultra soft. I have been a big fan of this handspun. It is quite similar (in a different colour) to the one I used for my husband's Nightcap Beanie.

The second skein I am giving away is also from Bilby Yarns. It is a beautiful chocolate brown 8 ply wool (250g), which is not dyed but is the naturally occurring colour from the Melanian sheep it comes from. This is a very natural wool and is soft for a 100% hand-washable pure wool. This yarn was the first non-commercial yarn I lusted after and finally succumbed to a number of skeins!

It is with this type of yarn that I also tried to make my first ball from a skein. It was a very funny experience for my husband and kids - not so much for me! You see, I didn't think the mechanics of ball-winding through and just laid the skein out on my bed and attempted to then wind the wool on my hand. Needless to say, it turned into the most colossal bundle of knots, which took me about 5 hours to detangle! Sufficient to say that I loved the yarn so much that even after this monster struggle,  I still went on to make a beautiful vest for my youngest, which he very happily wore. (For the winner of this yarn - I'm very happy to wind it for you before sending it on!)


The competition is very simple - go to the A Passionate Yarn facebook page, click 'like' on the photo album and leave a comment detailing what motivated you to start knitting/crocheting. If you are a non-knitter/non-crocheter but would still like to enter, please comment on what your motivation is for wanting to learn to knit or crochet. I will choose two winners from the comments based on a random number generator - one will receive the blue handspun skein and the other the chocolate brown melanian wool.. The competition starts from today Sunday 5 August 2012 and will run until 7.30pm Perth time on Wednesday 8th August 2012. The winners will be announced on Facebook and will be contacted for more details.

Good luck to you all!

Friday, 3 August 2012

'Sweet as Candy' Chloe Finished!

Just finished blocking and putting the final touches on the little Chloe cardigan with the beautiful, bright Sweet as Candy wool from Candy Apple Lane. It's just in time as the little recipient's birthday is tomorrow...hope she likes it!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Rainbow over Rainy Skies

The heavens have opened and over the last two days, the rain has been pelting down over Perth. After quite a long dry and cold spell, we're all relishing the sound of rain in the morning and the garden is perking up a bit. Below is the boys' wheelbarrow with last night's rain collection in it (ignore the weeds....that's this weekend's job!)

Fortunately, all of this rain means good knitting weather and a time when the boys are happy to play inside. It means Mum knitting while reading books about prehistoric predators... so the little 'Sweet as Candy' Chloe Cardigan is almost finished! It's just waiting to be blocked and have buttons and button fasteners put on. Very exciting!

The 'Sweet as Candy' hand-dyed yarn by Candy Apple Lane has been a delight to knit up. I think you'll agree the Smarties or Crayola crayons  effect would suit a little three year old girl very well. This little bolero cardigan should look stunning once blocked (the ruffle will look a little more like one then - in the photos I keep on thinking it looks like yellow octopus tentacles at the moment!).