Thursday, 31 May 2012

Long Weekend

The June long weekend is upon us and we are set to go to Balingup! It should be a beautiful time down there with the cold misty mornings and hopefully a bit of sunshine. We stay at my parent's place. It is so much fun just going around their property and doing little visits down to the village. Two of my favourite places are the French bakery run by Roslyn and Jean-Marie and the Village Pedlars, which is a true collective of handmade crafty items made by the locals. I love the aprons, quilts and various knits I find there.

So, we come to the tricky moment. As you may already know, I don't find packing for myself or the boys particularly onerous but the packing of my knitting....well that takes twice as long as my clothes. This time around it should be fairly simple. I'm taking my DROPS cardigan which is now very close to 80cm.....almost to the second armhole! I'm also taking the little cardigan I'm making for my sister-in-law's soon to be born little mystery. I'm itching to start on something else ....another cardigan for a little girl or baby perhaps. I've been dreaming of a little lacy pink baby cardigan....I think this will be the element that will wait until the last minute for the final decision!

My new Serenade wool also arrived yesterday (it's a beautiful 80% merino, 20% bamboo from Bendigo Woollen Mills just released). I've earmarked it for another cardigan for myself - the Moch Cardi by Gudrun Johnston (The Shetland Trader). It incorporates my favourite fishtail lace pattern and is the perfect long sleeve flattering shape. I 've really been looking for a bright, reddish cardigan and the combination of the pattern and the Hibiscus colour should work well.

 The picture below shows the yarns I've been obsessed with lately -  the new Serenade Hibiscus (4 round balls), along with the Frog Tree Pediboo Yarn and the Bilby Yarn 4 ply at the bottom. Notice anything about them?


It only dawned on me today that they're all in really similar shades!! I'll have to get this out of my system soon and a three hour drive may be just the place to work it through.....just kidding, need to get on to those baby clothes!

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Beating the Winter Blues

There are hundreds of reasons why people knit and why the pleasure of this simple craft sustains many throughout their lives. I love knitting for lots of reasons such as its calming influence, the creative aspect and the joy of sharing knitted gifts with loved ones.

I discovered another key reason only the last year -  it really helps keep the winter blues to a minimum. From adolescence I've noticed that my mood was always distinctly darker during the winter months, very much determined by the amount of sunshine around. While in Australia this is slightly less of a problem, I have found difficult at times to motivate myself in winter.

However, since I've been knitting the winter blues have been kept to a minimum.  If they do surface, the knowledge that I have a little knitted something on the go with the promise of many little treats for others and myself is enough to keep me bubbling along. If a little extra oomph is needed, well visiting my local yarn store usually does the trick!

Baby Cardigan Has Been Cast On!


Sunday, 27 May 2012

Half Way...Yippee!

Phew, what a week! Busy with work but plenty of fun times as well. The garden is starting to take shape - we've planted a few more vegetables and are also growing some flowers from seed for the boys' own gardens. We also spent today baking  so apple rhubarb crumble and chocolate banana bread were made with the boys. Time now to pause, take a deep breath and relax with my lovely husband!

In knitting terms, this week had to be kept simple despite the looming deadline for the baby blanket and baby cardigan. Now that I've been telling myself to abandon the DROPS cardigan for a little while to start on the baby things....well, wouldn't you know it, I've become obsessed with the cardigan!

Here it is in its present state - all glorious 72 cm of it! Thirteen more centimetres before the next armhole is shaped and I am now officially half way.



Oh go on, tonight will be another night for the cardigan....Monday I'll take up the baby blanket again...

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Perth Craft and Quilt Fair: Review from Knitter's Perspective

I made it today to the Perth Craft and Quilt Fair and what an adventure it was! Little B, my three year old little boy, and I did the trek to the Perth Convention Centre in the bus - as Little B is very fond of buses. It was a very packed out even even for a Thursday morning and the first impression was of lots of colour, fabric and glitter.

There were all kinds of crafts represented with the main focus being on needle/stitch-based crafts such as quilting, sewing and embroidery with a good smattering of beads. If you are a multi-faceted crafter this is the place for you - lots of different crafts to try and buy. If you are purely into knitting or crochet, the pickings are quite slim. Of the five yarn stores, there were four yarn stores of interest:

a) Woolly Lattes - Always one of my favourites! They had a selection of interesting yarns on sale (like Vienna by Naturally Yarns) and their staff were really friendly and happy to chat despite being very busy.
Naturally Vienna Yarn in Purple from Woolly Latte

b) Dairing - One of two really interesting yarn places. It had a selection of very different yarns including a stainless steel based one (I'd only read about it in the Yarn Harlot). They also have a range of ultra-modern, deconstructed-type designs that are also interesting. Very daring!

c) Prudence Mapstone - This was my favourite yarn store of the day. Prudence had a great range of yarn (not your usual varieties) at very reasonable prices. She also has a very interesting freeform-based knitting and does knitting workshops! Unfortunately given Little B's attention span was waning, I didn't get to explore much of it but will be looking up her website. This is the lovely rasberry coloured Frog Tree Pediboo Sock Yarn I bought from her.

Frog Tree Pediboo Sock Yarn from Prudence Mapstone

d) Jenny King Design - Jenny King was running crochet workshops and had also an interesting range of yarns including recycled sari silk and the Lotus Yarn range, which is a new yarn from China. This yarn has some beautiful colours and a soft texture, although a little more expensive . So if you're interested in crochet, this is the place to go to.

What else did we do apart from shopping and morning tea? Well Little B and I made some cards/tags with Sonia Thompson. I don't think this was meant as an activity for little kids but to Sonia's credit - she didn't bat an eyelid and she taught us both. I think the end result didn't turn out too badly! (I'm still not really sure what you're meant to do with them but they are very decorative).


There were workshops you could attend but none that really suited me or my little boy. No knitting workshops but I think there was one crochet workshop.

Would I go again? Well, if I went with other crafty girlfriends then probably yes as you would get enthused about heaps of things outside your own particular area of interest. Probably not for the yarn/knitting unless there is more next year.  Not sure if next year Little B will be as patient!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Time to Get Cracking!

So I've been patiently plugging away at my DROPS cardigan and have now completed a total of 50cm with another 75cm to go, despite my mind being filled with a variety of other exciting projects.

However, my one track-minded attention to the cardigan will need to give way to the needs of another. We're about a month away from having a new little niece or nephew and I seriously need to get cracking on the presents I would like to give to this little baby. The snail baby blanket is underway (about a third of the way) but needs some serious quality time devoted to it. I've only added two lines since I last showed it to you.




 In addition I'd like to make a little jacket and hat in a similar snail theme. However, I am still deciding what the colour might be.  I was originally thinking of having leaf green with perhaps a brown edge but I'm thinking of perhaps varying the colour to a crimson.

In case you're wondering the crimson 4ply is from Bilby Yarns and the brown alternative is a Bendigo Luxury 4ply (in Koala brown). The colour of the Koala Brown is a little darker than shown in this picture - more of a mid-brown colour.

The question to ask is whether the crimson would also suit a boy? Hmmmm....the jury is still out on which way to lean. Please feel free to leave a comment if you have a suggestion...


Sunday, 20 May 2012

Persistence

We've just come back from the Defence Airshow at Pearse Air Base. It was a great day - over 25 degrees, beautiful sunshine and lots of planes to see. The boys were very impressed by the Super Hornets.Now everyone is very tired. It was a very long day and a lot of walking for little legs, which needed to be sustained by an amazing array of food!



On the way to the air base I was doing my first armhole for the DROPS lace cardigan I'm making with the Linbel wool (now discontinued) from my French aunt's stash. It is a real test of persistence, hence the name of today's blog. I think I discovered the black hole of knitting that Stephanie Pearl-McPhee talks about....you knit and knit and knit and yet the piece doesn't seem to grow any longer - even when you've spent hours on it and therefore should logically have grown. It has taken me absolutely ages to get to the 37cm required to start the first armhole construction.





This is an interesting construction as it is essentially a rectangle with two holes in it for the arms and is worked as one large piece. Therefore, while this is a wonderfully easy knit, it requires real patience to endure the rows required.

I have also been battling my yarn a little - Linbel by Phildar (a cotton/linen/acrylic blend) which has a beautiful four tone natural shade. After having problems of entanglement and huge messy knots in my second and third balls, I've now decided to unwind and remake all the balls into tighter, tangle free balls. Hopefully this should speed up the process and also reduce the Grrrrr....factor. Onwards and upwards I say! Even if nothing else comes of it, I'm doing my bit to show my eldest boy persistence in action (the life skill he is learning about at school at the moment)!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

My version of Keira's Cardi

As promised last night, here's my little finished cardigan based on the Keira's Cardi pattern from the Blue Box in Busselton. It's made in Bendigo Woollen Mills Spring Cotton 8ply in the Spring Rose colour. A really enjoyable, fast knit!

An Almost Finished Cardi

Well, here we are Wednesday night and I had thought I would have my new little Kiera's cardi to show you. Unfortunately, I wasn't organised enough the last two days to take a picture of the piece, which is complete apart from the double crochet finishing around the armholes and the all important button! I'm experiencing real indecision with this button - it will either be a little wooden flower button (but it has a slight orange case which is not so great with the scarlet of the cardigan) or a slightly contrasting plastic button.

 I hope to give you a quick update perhaps tomorrow with the finished product (even if it is in its unblocked state). I'm really quite happy with how it turned out and am planning to have a number of different types of cardigans and vests rolling off the production line over the next two months. The idea is to develop my skills by experiencing many different types of design - great fun!

What I can show you now is how our little veggie patch is growing - we planted it a few weeks ago and there are definite signs that beetroots, turnips, chard, broccoli and peas are growing. Very exciting!!

Rainbow Chard Seedlings Settling In

Beetroot and Turnips Springing Up

We're already harvesting our oranges!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Mother's Day

This morning I woke up with a cry for help at 5.15am from my youngest and after soothing him and climbing into his bed to help him get back to sleep, I was reflecting that it was a very appropriate start to Mother's Day! Having a little boy who was delighted to snuggle up to his mum to get back to sleep is a wonderful way to express the love that is between children and their mum (and vice versa).

I was also very privileged to receive a beautiful tealight holder made by my eldest, who had manfully kept his secret for an entire week and was just dying to give me his gift. He was so proud and it looks very sparkly. My lovely husband also made a wonderful two course breakfast which the boys highly approved of! The rest of the morning was spent in great company with another amazing mum and her little boy, playing pirates, climbing into treehouses and even making a small bonfire in the garden - a real adventure!

As for the knitting, well, after a week of not being able to do much at all, I've done a little bit more on my own DROPS cardigan and also started a little girl's cardigan called "Keira's Cardi", a pattern from The Blue Box in Busselton. It's a simple sleeveless cardigan with an interesting twist to the collar and shoulders  It's made with the hardy Bendigo Woollen Mills Spring Cotton in 8ply - the colour is Spring Rose.


I'm making it in a size 12-18 months but I'm not quite sure who it is going to yet. I've realised there will be a call for a lot more gifts in the very near future so have to get cracking on my collection!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Baby Girl Tunic

Just a very quick post today to show you the finished little cotton t-shirt tunic for my work colleague's soon-to-be-born baby daughter. It's made out of Bendigo Woollen Mills Cotton in 8ply (Wild Lavender and Latte colours). The aim was to get me to use the Wild Lavender colour as I'm not that keen on the colour on its own. I think the Latte goes quite well with it! The tunic design is based on elements of three different patterns..really easy and a great small project. It was knit as a 9-12 month tunic.




Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Questions Knitters Ask Each Other

As so often happens, you strike up a conversation with someone and after a bit of talking, you realise that you are both knitters - wonderful! After you've established how many years you've been practising this craft, what's the next thing knitters ask each other? Well of course, it is - where do you buy your yarn? This simple question is cause for much passionate and fun discussion as you compare haunts and discover, usually that you have many places in common!

Each time I get asked the question, I find that well, I actually go to all the local yarn stores in Perth for very different reasons and in their own way, I enjoy all of them! Here's my run down in no particular order:

  1. Woolly Latte - The name says it all really. It has a wonderful friendly atmosphere where you can knit and have a coffee plus look at knitting books! Its yarn selection is more limited than the other yarn stores but you can find some beautiful English yarn and also on occasion some beautiful lace yarn.
  2. Crossways Wool and Fabric and its sister store, Yarns on Collie - Both of these stores stock a really wide range of yarn from an extensive range of Australian /New Zealand to beautiful imported yarns. They're both great places for a browse to get inspiration and find that special yarn.
  3. Calico and Ivy - Well, they're the ultimate in inspirational yarn. Stunning luxury yarn, displayed beautifully, complemented by motivational, awe-inspiring finished objects made from the stocked yarns. Not the place to go when you're on a knitting budget but I always walk out of there with amazing yarn and enthusiasm for knitting.
  4. Bilby Yarns - This is a real knitter's paradise with lovely handspun, hand-dyed yarns as well as fleece and naturally coloured yarns. Friendly atmosphere too!  It is a bit off the beaten track but I always end up with some wonderful yarn.
  5. Spotlight - Yes well....no one is immune to a bargain. I have to admit that I mainly go there if I know a sale is on or if I've run out of a run of the mill brand and need a quick replacement. It's not the place for inspiration but it's handy anyway and who doesn't love yarn on sale!

Awaiting knitting inspiration for this beautiful handspun wool!
I also shop online for wool.....but that's a different story!

Sunday, 6 May 2012

A Relaxing Weekend...

It is lovely at times to stop a bit from all the bustle and activity and take the time to enjoy the little things as a family. This weekend was exactly that for us. Nothing hugely exciting but a series of little adventures and moments with friends and as a family. We even managed to spend time beautifying the garden and baking!

One of our little adventures was to Kings Park, where we went to the walkway, which is a beautiful treetop walk with a fairly spectacular bridge across the tall trees. We hadn't been for at least six months or more and it was beautiful to do it when all the surrounding park is green. The boys were fascinated by the water jets and my eldest was pretending to magic the jets to go up and down!



As part of the relaxing weekend, I had promised myself a bit of time working on a project for me....my DROPS cardigan. Here is a picture of it in the making (it made with Phildar LinBel - the yarn that I rescued from the frogged wrap from Easter). It's an easy lace pattern which is basically worked as a rectangle with holes for the arms so perfect for TV and general relaxation!


Saturday, 5 May 2012

Finger Knitting Fun

On Friday I learned to finger knit at the Dianella Library's Stitch and Chat. It was a wonderful experience to do something entirely different which is as playful as finger painting! Our teacher, the very patient and gentle Captain Plaknit with a passion for yarn bombing, (her blog is here) was great at getting such a diverse age group to work together (from about 8 to in the late 70s - early 80s). There was even a whole family of three different generations of women! In less than an hour, this is what I made (picture is courtesy of my big 5 year old!):

 This is how it starts out!

Fired up by this new skill, I taught my lovely husband that evening - both boys being too cactus to even really catch on. However, they were pretty keen to try it out this morning and, with a bit of combined effort, all the favourite teddies will now be warm this winter!


I might be inspired to try something different with this new skill...got to get the thinking cap on!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Two Year Old Girl Needs New Vest

It's been a recent tradition for me to knit a vest or tunic for my little niece towards the start of winter. This year she turns two!!! Very exciting! After a million plans made about what to do, I've made her a girl's version of my Train Driver Vest (which is still in testing). It's made in Patons Jet in Cream and Bilby Yarns - their naturally coloured chocolate brown 8ply yarn. This should stand up to any garden digging she feels like doing! I've added a couple of little flowers as embellishment using a great little pattern - Spring Stash Buster Knit - Flowers in Bloom by Alison Reilly.




We'll see if I get to sneak anything else in before her birthday.....

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Baby Projects Update

I'm so excited. We've got our vegetable patch all ready for winter. My youngest and I put in some seedlings for broccoli, chard, beans and leeks, which was great fun! So was the emergency dash to the shops to get some snail pellets to protect our little seedlings!

So on this beautiful autumn day, where we actually were cold in the morning (yay!), I'm making the resolution to start updating you on a regular basis on my autumn knitting list from the last post. This should motivate me to get through my list and perhaps stick to my knitting!

So here is an update on the little baby's T-shirt tunic (9-12 months) for my colleague's soon-to-be-born daughter in Bendigo Woollen Mills Cotton. It's going quite well and I'm down to the last bit to the base of the tunic and need to the edge around the sleeves. I will add a little motif on it - would really like to make a snail but it might also be nice to have a flower or a butterfly on it.



This is one of the projects I've been doing as a quick win - you always need those to balance the other projects! I should explain that I usually have a number of projects on the go with differing degrees of difficulty and different sizes. I always need at least one challenging/new project, a small project for quick wins and a brain-dead knitting project. This last one is a very necessary one as the clock edges past 8-8.30pm!

Next post, I'll be able to show you the little cream Train Driver Vest for my niece (I might also manage a little hat for her...).