Sunday, 29 April 2012

Sneak Peek - Train Driver Vest in Testing

After a tremendous downpour last night, the garden is thriving again and the boys and lovely husband are out digging up the vegetable patch!

With the sun making brief appearances, I've finally got a few action shots of the Train Driver Vest to show you. This pattern is currently being tested and I'm hoping to release it by the end of May. (What you don't see here is that fifteen minutes later.... these nice and clean boys were literally making mud stew, spiced with unripe oranges and there was a very rapid full change of clothes required!).

The Train Driver Vest was inspired by my own little boys who love playing with trains in all shapes and sizes. The pattern is made to resemble train tracks.  The vest is designed to be hard-wearing and practical – test driven by my boys who are used to rough and tumble. Another key design feature is ease of putting on and taking off so little boys can do it themselves. 

There is also a matching beanie I've made to go with the pattern.





It is made with a 10ply yarn (using Patons Jet and similar) but other combinations may be used. It is  very simple and quick, which makes it great for a beginner knitter or a quick knit present.
 
The vest is designed for sizes 1-2, 2-4, 4-6, 6-8. Currently sizes 1-2 and 6-8 are being tested. If you're interested in testing this vest or would like to put your name down for future test knits (adult or children), feel free to drop me a line to find out more details!  

I'm off now to join the boys in the garden - there's a lot of composting to be done!

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Save on A Passionate Yarn Patterns!

The rain is beating down on the roof and the thunder is growling for the first time in a long while....To celebrate the start of getting ready for winter (from a knitter's perspective!), we've put together a special bundle of our three premium patterns for the very low price of $AU10 including GST (or $AU9.09 International Price). That is a saving of over 30%! Check out it out in the Pattern Store.


Autumn-Winter Knitting Plans

It's one of those days today, where planning for the next few months of knitting makes sense (especially when you already have four projects on the needles at the moment). So, I thought I'd share my plans and hopefully you'll see a corresponding set of finished objects in the next few months! I've put four broad buckets of things that I'd like to accomplish and then I'm sure others will creep in!

A) Imminent Baby Arrivals
There's a new little niece or nephew on the way for late June so I'm getting very excited! I'm planning to deck this little baby out in knitterly love and thinking of doing a baby blanket, a little cardigan or vest and a hat along a garden theme. A very rough image of the baby blanket in Bendigo Luxury 4ply (Leaf colour) is shown below.
 Also on my wishlist is a little coat but we'll see how we go.

A colleague of mine is also having a little girl in a couple of weeks so I thought I'd make a little cotton t-shirt tunic for the baby in spring (Sep-Dec). I'm finishing up a couple of balls of Bendigo Cotton 8 ply that I had in my stash (Latte/Wild Lavender). I'm not so keen on the lavender by itself but with the Latte colour it provides a good contrast I think and a nice way of using up what could be left for quite a while in the stash.


B) Boys and Niece Clothes
I'm not doing too badly for the boys  having already made one set of 12 ply vests for them. I'm finishing off my nieces one as well. However, as they wear vests most of our short winter, I'm quite keen on making them another set of vests in 8ply this time. I also need an extra hat to go with the vest for my niece's second birthday.


C) Presents

Well, here is probably where the greatest stretch will be in terms of items creeping in. I've promised one of my sister-in-law's a shawlette which will have to happen in the next few weeks. I was also hoping to make something for mother's day. At this rate, it may be a lace headband for both to do their make up removal!

C) My Winter Wardrobe
For my own wardrobe, I'm harbouring under the great delusion that this will be the year where I make my own cardigans and that I won't be buying any in the shops! I've already got the periwinkle long cardigan and hoping to add another two!

The first is a drops lace cardigan worked sideways (see it here) which I'd like to make with the soon-to-be frogged cotton lace wrap. While I'd love to be a lady of wraps, I think I will need most of all this winter will be some cardigans that can keep up with the boys!

Lastly, (are you getting a sense that there is no way I'm ever going to manage all this list?), I'd also like to make either the razor cardi or the morning echo cardigan in a lovely red.

Ah well, there is nothing quite like setting high aspirations!

So after these Saturday musings, I leave you to make a special dinner for my boys (chocolate mousse is already in the fridge!).


Thursday, 26 April 2012

Distracted...

This morning was chaos again in the house...my eldest son is back at school after the Easter holidays and it was back into the swing of being very organised. Don't get me wrong, I'm normally pretty organised when I go to work but somehow you need a lot more organisational capability to get one little boy to school - lunches, school uniform, getting little brother ready too! All went well and my youngest and I finally got to the rather mundane tasks of bank, food shopping and visiting the post office.

It is with this backdrop in mind that I was pretty keen today to get some action shots taken for my Train Lover's vest pattern which is currently being tested. However, foiled again as it was a glorious 31 degrees celsius outside, much too hot for a 12 ply wool vest! So I thought I'd get a few simple shots of the vest and the matching beanie together (done just after taking the soup off the stove, and just before waking up my youngest to pick up the eldest at school). Well, I noticed this evening that I took a wonderful picture of the back of the beanie and in such a terrible position that you couldn't see anything at all. So it will have to be for another night. I'm also doing up a last little vest for my niece for her second birthday so hopefully that will also all be finished by the next post.

In the meantime, I can tell you a bit about the upcoming Steampunk Journey to the Centre of Perth this Saturday, which my brother-in-law and his wife are helping to organise. It's a steampunk ball being held in Yanchep in the Cabaret Cave, about an hour from Perth and is themed around the Jules Verne adventure. Steampunk is a fashion, music, artistic movement which is inspired by the Victorian and turn of the century era and their views of technology and the future. If you're looking for something a bit different and keen to dress up, it might be worth checking out either this event or the next mid-winter ball.

For knitters, it is worth googling "steampunk knitting patterns" - you get a really interesting array of knitted corsets, lace shawls, fingerless long opera gloves, spats for shoes, etc. It has everything you've secretly ever wanted to wear from those period novels / tv shows - done up with a slightly racier and futuristic flair. It is a fascinating look at some of the wonderful things that can be made within the knitted arts. A number of those patterns are truly eye-candy to the knitter (look up "The Sanguine Gryphon" and the "Industrial Revolution Shawl" on Ravelry and you'll see what I mean)!

Next time, hopefully action shots of the vest and beanie and ideas. Also stay tuned for a special offer on the A Passionate Yarn patterns coming out soon!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Uthando Project - A Playful, Practical Knitting Initiative

This post is a little different today as it is really about Diana, my first and very dedicated test knitter, who I want to thank for all her support. She has been a knitter and overall crafty person from a young age, continuing the traditions of her mother! Diana not only knits but also does woodwork, doll houses, gardening and other crafts besides that.

At the moment, besides looking after her two beautiful grandsons, she also dedicates much of her time to the Uthando Project, which I would like to highlight today. Pictured below are a few of the beautiful dolls she has made for this project:



The Uthando Project makes African dolls for children in Kwazulu-Natal, which home to a quarter of South Africa's population. Two in every three of them live in poverty and 1.5 million are younger than my two children in a country that has been deeply affected by the AIDS and HIV epidemic. Against this backdrop, the Uthando Project focuses on enabling these disadvantaged children to embellish their expressive play - which is an important medium for developing their physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual selves. The African-style dolls are made by volunteers all over the world (knitted or sewn) and then distrbuted throughout Kwazulu-Natal. 

The Uthando Project, which means 'love' in the local language, is looking for more people to make the dolls and also to provide funds for additional psycho-social training in Kwazulu-Natal. For more information on the project, visit their website - http://www.uthandoproject.org/ or buy their beautiful book "100 Dolls Countless Hearts" from the website, which Diana also contributed to.

Next post I'm hoping to show you my finished beanie and perhaps a bit more on the vest I'm making and Diana is testing. If you would also be interested in testing from time to time A Passionate Yarn patterns, contact me here. In the meantime, I hope you have a very pleasant and reflective ANZAC day.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Balingup Adventures

We're just back from Balingup after a really wonderful long weekend down there. The scarecrows of Balingup were out in force! Here are a few of the brilliant ones we saw:













The Small Farm Field Day was a fantastic day out! AnnaBirgitte and I really loved meeting everyone and having a chat. It was a real pleasure to find a few passionate knitters among the crowd too and hear about their favourite wool adventures and sharing our favourite wool hang outs. I also heard some beautiful stories about people's memories of their favourite knitted items from their childhood/teenage years (everything from fine lace scarves, elephant jumpers, beanies). Jamie's beanies and headbands were very popular and Jan's necklaces also had many admirers. Even the patterns found homes so I was very pleased! For the moment, I have only one really grainy picture of the stall but hopefully I will be able to share a few others later.



The weather held out for us, even though it was quite windy with the occasional sprinkle of rain. As you can imagine with a stall full of cotton and wool knitwear plus AnnaBirgitte's cards, these weather related events were a bit of a challenge! But, we became very resourceful and adept at springing to the defense of cards, photo displays, etc. It did make AnnaBirgitte's job as photographer of the Field Day a little bit more tricky but she did a magnificent job!

However, you are probably asking yourselves, what happened to the boys while their mum was manning the stall (and my lovely husband stepped in for a bit as well!). Well, they had the time of their lives with Grandpa and Dad, spending time in a massive sandpit, doing circus tricks, seeing all the animals (particularly the chickens) and eating all the things they are not normally allowed - ice cream, doughnuts, fairy floss, more doughnuts and soft drink! However, Grandpa got to listen to a twenty minute talk about gardening, which is a tremendous feat considering the attention span of two very tired three and five year old boys!

It is with regret that we left Balingup after a beautiful few days there. It is always so peaceful and tranquil there and we always have such a great time with the wonderful people who live in this picturesque place. We'll be back soon!

 P.S.  For those of you wondering, I did redo the seams for my long periwinkle cardigan and am actually wearing it now! It took 3 hours of dedication to unstitch and redo but it was worth it! Little other knitting got done, too busy but I have started another beanie - more on that next week.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Cardigan For Winter Warmth

We're in the midst of much excitment here. All of the beautiful beanies, necklaces, headbands and wraps from Jamie and Jan are gently nestled in their boxes and ready to go. We're just waiting for a couple of very important arrivals before we make the trek down to Balingup.

For the other packing, well....I'm not very far advanced. Most important of all is the knitting packing as you well already know if you've read parts of this blog before. I'm a bit stuck there as I suspect that I won't get much quality knitting time so it will just have to be quite easy projects that I can just leave at any time. I'm toying between a little vest for my niece (similar to the one I made for Ben but in a cotton I think) and/or a junior version of the Nightcap Beanie. I'm also still working on my baby blanket but given it requires a bit of counting...this may be more than I will get the chance to do.

The other thing I'd really like to do is redo the seams on a periwinkle blue long cardigan (DROPS cardigan design (Top in Bomullin-Lin) I made back in September last year. I made it while I was in France - severely jetlagged and generally just very tired. It's a very simple design, well written - just what I needed. The yarn is Stitch Nation's Bamboo Ewe (bamboo/wool) in Periwinkle. This yarn does stretch a fair bit after washing but as I was looking for a very long cardigan, it wasn't an issue here. The seaming wasn't quite up to what I'd like it to be and I think it detracts from what will be a very useful cardigan. In case you're wondering, the button has been attached since this picture was taken - although it did take me two months after completion! Given autumn has finally arrived and the rain and lower temperatures are becoming more common place, I'm very motivated to add a warm element to my wardrobe!



Hope to see you at the Balingup Small Farm Field Day on Saturday!

Monday, 16 April 2012

Countdown to the Market Has Started!

The countdown to the Balingup Small Farm Field Day has started in earnest. Given this is my first stall ever, there is loads to do!

Signs of preparation within the house:
  • Boxes have started appearing in odd parts of the bedroom.
  • Beanies, headbands and necklaces have all been lovingly tagged!
  • My checklist has stretched to fill an entire page and is overflowing on odd assortments of paper around the place.
  • Little white price stickers are appearing everywhere.
  • The measuring tape is in red hot demand - never enough to go around!
  • Balls of yarn are invading my desk.
  • The swift has come out of hiding.
AnnaBirgitte, whose stall I'm sharing, has also been very busy - she's building her new website and the pictures look amazing! I saw a couple photos last night of a scene at the Cottesloe Sculptures by the Sea in March and a field of wildflowers which were brilliant. I'm looking forward to seeing the finished product!

In a few days, these signs of preparation may become a little more chaotic but at the moment, there is still a very excited and happy smile on my face!

 

By the way, if you would like to keep up with  the latest information about A Passionate Yarn, follow us on Facebook.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Birthdays and Guilty Pleasures

After a whirlwind of a wonderful social weekend, I'm sitting at my computer at the end of Sunday night feeling shattered! We've had two birthdays - a one and a thirty year old's party. Quite different but similar in terms of quantities of cake, running around of little people and of course, hot dogs. Great fun had by all.

I finished my present for Ben in the nick of time. His vest got sewn up on Friday night and the beanie was still being knit on Friday afternoon! However, it should fit him well and hopefully the beanie will stay on - he's a puller-off of beanies. I'm not entirely pleased with the beanie - never good to go with an entirely new beanie when you're up against the clock. It doesn't give you quite enough time to tinker with things and get them just right. Apologies for the very uninspiring photo, it was taken very quickly on Saturday morning before I wrapped up the gift on the way to the party and the hat, well....the camera didn't take a liking to it!


 I also snuck in a guilty knitter's pleasure in this weekend. At a quarter to five on Friday, I made it to Bilby Yarns. I love the shop with its fleece, spinning wheels, natural coloured yarns and handspun - a knitter's treasure trove in a more natural way than the usual yarn shop. Unfortunately I don't get down there as often as I'd like as it is a fair distance from me but each time I do, I end up with some beautiful skein or two or three. Friday was no exception with some gorgeous blue,black and purple handspun skeins. They'll also be down at the Balingup Small Farm Field Day so make sure you look them up!

This week will be very busy and exciting getting ready for the Balingup Small Farm Field Day. I've got still a million things to do and the list keeps growing longer. Looking forward to it!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Join A Passionate Yarn at the Markets!

Very exciting news! I'll be joining AnnaBirgitte from Photography by AnnaBirgitte at her stall at the Balingup Small Farm Field Day on Saturday 21st April. Balingup is a very picturesque and crafty village about 245 km south of Perth, Western Australia - one of my favourite places!


The Small Farm Field Day is a wonderful day that is all about promoting the hobby farm and all the arts surrounding it, including spinning, knitting and other handicraft. As a family we've been going for about 7-8 years now and it is always great fun with lots of things for the boys to see and do - farm animals, demonstrations, eating, pony rides. Find out more about it here. I'm looking forward to have a bit of a peek at all the yarn!

This is a really terrible picture of the boys, me and their mamie (grandma) at the Field Day last year but it give you a bit of an indication of the fun to be had!



I'll be bringing a selection of Jamie's and Jan's lovely handmade accessories for babies, children and women as well as a small selection of printed knitting patterns for sale. Come for a look at the beautiful knitwear, AnnaBirgitte's amazing French and Western Australian cards and of course, a yarn!

I'll also be displaying Jamie's newly-arrived stunning and oh so cute Owl Earflap Hats for boys and girls! These will be up on our website on Monday.







Wednesday, 11 April 2012

NIghtcap Beanie is Now Free Pattern!

The A Passionate Yarn Easter Bunny has left behind a little present! Based on popular demand, I've written up the instructions for the slightly unorthodox Nightcap Beanie I made for my husband as part of my personal Great Easter Beanie Challenge. It is written as it was made and freely available at the A Passionate Yarn pattern store. Hope you enjoy making it and that the recipient loves it as much as my husband.



Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Getting Back to Business

After a beautiful break down south, we're back home and all is as it should be. The washing machine is whirring away, getting through those piles of laundry from our voyages! The bags are mostly unpacked and a little knit is soaking away before being blocked (more on this later).

As expected, the Easter Bunny visited us on Sunday and very helpfully (?!) left footprints to tell us where he went, which aided our two intrepid Easter Egg Hunters no end.



We relaxed after all this Easter egg hunting with a long and joyful family lunch out on the deck soaking in the wonderful company and beautiful surroundings. Wouldn't you relax too looking at this?


The only slight downside to the whole getaway was.....well, do you remember me talking about contingencies and easy knitting alternatives a couple of posts back? Yes, as anticipated, illness did strike but not our boys thankfully! My poor husband got a gastro bug and I got the ear infection. So we did end up visiting the trusted after hours GP, only the patient was slightly bigger this time :-). However, it wasn't a big dampener on our long weekend and as we had many willing hands about, both the boys got looked after and we were able to recover well.

The easy knitting alternative was the one that got finished and is soaking presently in a lovely bath. It's a little vest for Ben's first birthday in 12ply (Patons Jet) - shown here in a non-blocked, non-sewn up state. I'm hoping to put this pattern to testing very soon as it is really quick and fits our little boys well.


The wild flower meadow wrap, shown in the previous post,had a little accident...but that is a story for another day.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Easter Holidays

How wonderful to be down in the South West again in Busselton for Easter! We've had a fabulous morning of looking at vintage Citroens, the community fair, beach and ice creams. That's what holidays are all about!

 On the knitting front, I've started a wrap for myself in a simple wild flower lace pattern for autumn and spring. The yarn is special to me as it comes from my aunty's decades-old stash and was brought back from France. My lovely aunt gave me permission to raid her stash for anything that I might like and as any knitter knows, it is a real privilege to be able to look through and take your pick of someone's lovingly tended stash.


This particular yarn is called Linbel from Phildar, now sadly discontinued so even more precious! It is an unusual mixture of cotton, linen with small amounts of acrylic and polyester (for the very thin shiny filaments). The yarn is a beautiful multi-textured white/beige with little discreet filaments of silver and black.

I was originally going to make this into a cardigan but didn't find the right pattern in time to take down South with me. As I mentioned in my last post, this is why it always takes me about an hour and a half to think through the knitting I take down south. There are some beautiful patterns that I would like to make with a wool base rather than cotton/linen.


I've also brought along a couple of other projects too in case this simple lace pattern is too much too handle! I've got a little 12ply vest and beanie to make and also working on my next baby blanket.








So it is with this highly delusional wishlist of knitting projects that I leave you for now. Have a wonderful Easter!



Thursday, 5 April 2012

Great Easter Beanie Challenge at End!

Given I'll be off on Easter adventures for the next few days, I'm taking the opportunity to provide a little update on the final status of my personal Great Easter Beanie Challenge and share a few pictures. Five beanies made in four weeks.

It has been great fun to have an excuse to have multiple small projects finished with all different kinds of yarn and patterns. Here's a little summary of what I've made over these last four weeks.  I've enjoyed every moment of it!




Still haven't quite managed to make one for myself....so perhaps I'll be revisiting another beanie for myself a little later....maybe a slouchy beret?!

I've got to do a little packing now and the hardest thing of all is to decide what knitting I will be taking. It always takes me twice as long as my clothes packing! This time I'm going to be sensible and anticipate sleep deprivation...i.e. knitting has to include some project that is so simple to knit even when you're operating on four hours of sleep. I always forget this and always have grand ambitions of lovely lace knits when the reality of travelling with two little boys is very different. So while I flirted with taking the beautiful 4ply cashmere merino for a lace shawlette for my sister-in-law, I've put that back in the stash and am now toying between starting the epic sweater for my husband, an easy shawl or cardigan for me. I'm also bringing along a baby blanket I'm designing at the moment.

Hope you have an excellent Easter Break - all the very best wishes for a happy, relaxing time with friends and family !


Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Nightcap Beanie

After a bit of a mammoth knit (for a beanie), the Nightcap Beanie was finished early today. Remember I said that my brief for this hat was that it had to be long, pointy at the end, verging on the ridiculous and I had thought of making something Star Wars inspired. It seems to be ticking my husband's boxes anyway and was happy to model it as a nightcap A Passionate Yarn style. This beanie was loosely inspired by the Wurm Beanie and adapted to my own formula.


 I had slight  moments of doubt before I put it on my husband's head as it was a very different shape from what I usually make but I'm a convert now.



So this means that Easter Beanie Number Five is finished and I'm having a bit of a struggle with myself as to whether I have another beanie in me before the Great Easter Beanie Challenge deadline of Easter Sunday. We shall see....The pile of other knitting is looking very tempting though :-) ! Stay posted!





 

By the way, here's my husband's idea of a good joke - Fish Beanie!


Sunday, 1 April 2012

Clone Wars Beanie

Easter Beanie Number Five is well on the way (about 60% there now). I'm making it for my lovely husband, who by the way, just finished setting up the A Passionate Yarn Pattern Store. The pattern store includes for sale and free patterns ranging from beanies, baby blankets, scarves to coasters. I'm still selling them on Ravelry but now they are also available from www.apassionateyarn.com. Check it out! More exciting patterns will be coming over the next few months! My creative thoughts have started flowing again and I'm knitting up a couple of ideas at the moment.




So back to Easter Beanie Number Five after this bit of self-promotion! I've chosen a lovely variegated red handspun which I had bought a while back from Bilby Yarns and was longingly touching ever so often, thinking that I had to put it to good use. After swatching, it turns out that it is actually a 12ply so I've adapted my usual beanie formula to take this into account. I'm working from my usual fall back basic pattern and adding to it elements of the Wurm Beanie by Katherine Nopp. I'm extending the beanie (as far as my ball of yarn allows) to make it a long, ribbed pointy beanie, much like one of the female Jedi's in the Starwars' Clone Wars (don't ask why I've been watching this lately). I know it is hard to tell with this picture but I think it should be right up my husband's alley. Beanies are a very important part of his winter wardrobe!