Sunday, 30 September 2012

Bendigo Wool Bounty

I finally made it to Bendigo and it has been a great place to investigate....I stayed at the beautiful Bishop's Court B&B which is amazing - I'd always wanted to sleep in a four poster bed and be in wool country!

The Unleaving scarf got finished in no time and while it took a while to get photographed (It was never showing its most beautiful face) - here it is....(It will look better blocked and in proper lighting). I've decided it will be perfect as a thank you gift for Big B's teacher at the end of the year.



I also finally got to visit the Bendigo Woollen Mills and I wasn't disappointed. It was quite a walk from the B&B but entirely worth it. I have bought loads ....which, ahem, won't fit in my suitcase so will be posted home. Of course, this was all very justified....non of this is available online so it was my only chance (says she pleadingly :-)!). There was a gorgeous bamboo/wool blend in beautiful bright colours and some lovely thicker yarns for the boys. There was also a lovely pink remnant of Bliss.



Thursday, 27 September 2012

Unleaving Scarf

Holidays have officially started for me! I've left Sydney and now am on my way to Bendigo. So excited at the prospect!

My little Unleaving Scarf is taking shape. I'm well on the way now to the decreases and it should go quite quickly from here. I took one of these pictures at peak going to work time in the centre of Sydney and boy, did I get a lot of funny looks! I really hurried to take it so unfortunately it is not the best shot.

I have to share a couple of little vignettes from the plane trips. Obviously knitting on planes is not that common and on my way to Sydney a gentleman in his fifties stopped me as I was getting off to ask where I had learned to knit as "not many people knit these days" and then proceeded to congratulate me for learning to knit and adding "I bet you also know how to cook"?! I'm guessing both these skills equate to "dying feminine arts" in his mind but I thanked him and had great pleasure to tell him that actually knitting was very much a growing craft :-).

I also had an air hostess bend down to examine the pattern on my way to Melbourne. The beautiful Queen of Hearts wool was really eye catching in the semi-darkness with all of the glitter. She wanted to know where I had got the pattern and the yarn from. I was really delighted to be able to promote Candy Apple Lane and Knitty.com. Lovely when you meet a fellow knitter!

So off exploring I go now and I'm sure I'll have lots to tell you shortly!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Hello from Sydney

A very quick hello from Sydney! Yesterday, I touched down in Sydney and had the fortunate pleasure of being able to spend a couple of hours wandering around inner Sydney, going to my old favourites - the Strand Arcade and the Queen Victoria Building and then wandering down to Circular Quay. I had to take the pictures of the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour bridge for the boys! They'll be meeting me in Melbourne in a few days.



Of yarn-related news, I got to visit Morris & Co and I'm so glad that I did! They have absolutely gorgeous yarns and it was so tempting to blow my whole yarn allowance just there. You'll be pleased to know that I did exercise some restraint but got two balls each of a) a beautiful Morris&Co brand of merino/soybean/silk blend - in a gorgeous blue/green and also b) 2 balls of 4ply superwash merino in a beautiful variegated blue.

Next post hopefully I can show you a bit more on my unleaving scarf which is going ahead - not quite in leaps and bounds but slowly but surely evolving.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Holiday Projects - What to Pack

This is my last post before I'm on the move (for both work and holiday) over the next three weeks. So exciting, the family will be meeting up with me in Melbourne at the end of the week and it will be our first holiday interstate since the boys were born.

This is the frantic last day when I'm trying to organise what I need to get packed for going to Sydney, Bendigo and Melbourne. It is turning out a little more complicated than expected with the need to go from the very cold weather clothes to quite warm!

Another source of real panicking was that I hadn't decided yet what knitting to take with me and worst of all, what projects to start. I know this should never be an issue given I have always much more I would like to make than I have time to make it! However, a holiday knit has to meet specific criteria for me:
  1. Has to be really quite easy to knit when tired or distracted (jet lag, late nights, etc)
  2. Has to utilise very appealing yarn to create a special holiday feel.
  3. Has to include some bright colours.
  4. Should include some points of interest (easy lace, a new texture, etc)
  5. Should be a small single skein, transportable project.  
Starting with the skeins, here are the four I'll be taking with me (for three weeks away - that doesn't seem to excessive does it?):

So having looked through many different sources of inspiration for my first project, I have settled on a little scarf called "Unleaving" by Lee Juvan in the First Fall 2012 issue of Knitty using the very special "Queen of Hearts" fingering weight sparkle from Candy Apple Lane (75% Superwash merino, 20% nylon, 5% stelling - gold toned). This scarf is all done in garter stitch with a beautiful lace border - just the right mixture of ease and interest! This photo doesn't quite do it justice - it is photographed on top of the suitcase that needs to be fully packed by tonight! I think I might use this  pattern too for the beautiful pastel random-dyed cotton from Jalbrook Alpaca.


Of the other two skeins, the brown and white is a Drifter 10ply by Naturally and that is destined to be a slightly modified Nightcap Beanie for a friend. The last is a remaining half ball of Honeydew colour 8ply Bendigo Woollen Mills cotton for another little Keira's cardigan.

I hope I will still get to post while I'm away - it may be a little more random in terms of timing! Just letting you know - from the 24 September to 12 October 2012, you will still be able to put in your orders in the knitwear store as per usual and they will be posted to you as soon as I get back. No delivery of orders from the knitwear store will be made while I'm away.


Sales from the knitting pattern store will continue as normal as the patterns are automatically downloadable upon purchase.

I look forward to sharing all sorts of exciting new products, stories and competitions when I get back in mid-October. I'll be loaded up with new yarn, new knits and new ideas!

In the meantime, I leave you with a few more spring blooms from our garden.









Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Voila...Hedgehog!

Ok, this was too much cuteness to not share with you straight away. My friend was absolutely delighted with them and she was giggling and scrunching them, which was exactly my reaction after the first pair I finished. She couldn't wait to take them home and try them on her little boy! She even showed them around the office.....what more could I want? Love it when someone really appreciates something you've made.


Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Speedy Post

A very speedy post tonight as I've got to get those cute little Poky Hedgehog Mittens by Looking Glass Knits finished for my friend's little boy tonight. It's been fun knitting them for a second time - so much faster now that my brain has worked through the pattern! The picture below doesn't do them justice as it was taken in a hurry before leaving for work but I think you get the idea.

I'm also working this week on finishing a couple of cardigans and am about to put the finishing touches on the yellow cardigan.
After that, it will be time to start thinking about what I will be taking with me as knitting projects on holidays!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Balingup in Spring

Just back from a weekend away in beautiful Balingup celebrating both my parents' birthdays. We all had a brilliant time and both the boys wore themselves out so much that they were fast asleep in the car within the first ten minutes of our drive home! We ate lots of wonderful French food, had a few good glasses of wine and soaked in the lovely spring weather. Incidentally, Little B has started equating French food to tasty food and had as all laughing when he commented on his own combination of whipped cream and Mum's orange cream as "tasting just like French food...it's delicious".

We climbed up the hills soaking up the lovely peach and plum blossoms around us.



We also encountered a lonesome but very impressive 'mountain sheep'!
I even found time to finish my little blue Spring Cotton cardigan - a take on the Keira Cardigan with a little ruffle and different stitches. I've just got to block it, weave in the ends, put on a button and add a little butterfly to make a really cute but practical summer cardigan. The Bendigo Woollen Mills Spring Cotton is about as hardy as they get and as it has a little lycra in it, it springs back better into shape.
Now, I'm running against the clock to finish off another pair of hedgehog mittens before I leave for Sydney for a friend's little boy....I'll let you know if I make the deadline!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Beautiful Yarn

On a Friday, it is a wonder to be able to start the day looking at beautiful yarn. The postman delivered the following parcel this morning from Candy Apple Lane and I'm so excited about the colours! The colour way is called 'Forest in Spring' made in the Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 10ply. I'm not quite sure what it will be yet but I see something perhaps with a hoodie for Big B or maybe Little B.

The other was part of sale at Spotlight (and for once it was on some really beautiful yarn!). It is a wool/silk 8ply blend - Poems Silk from Wisdom Yarns. I think both sets of colours would make beautiful lace scarves....perhaps an end of summer project, a great thing to look forward to.


So it is with these inspiring colours that I wish you a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Patience Required

For the last week and a half I have been working an extra day a week to cover my boss' leave and while that doesn't sound like much, it is affecting the amount of time spent knitting and working on A Passionate Yarn. Of course, being the organised person that I am, I had factored that in, put up a couple of plans and told myself that I was setting myself a manageable list of tasks. I told myself that I wouldn't stress about it and just do what I could - thinking I would still be able to get some things done.

And I have done a few things including the yellow cardigan and now starting on this blue cotton cardigan in a size four (Bendigo Woollen Mills Spring Cotton in Spring Lily). I've also experimented with butterflies and leaves and looked up how to make flowers, etc.

 
However, my list was slightly longer....... I think I failed to factor in a couple of things. the amount you achieve is proportionate to the amount of  a)sleep occurring in the household (5am wake ups are not helpful), b) amount of extracurricular activities undertaken by the kids, c) how much time my lovely husband is around (he was away for a boys weekend) and d) how much destressing is required at the end of each day. You would think I would know this by now having done this numerous times before but it never ceases to surprise me :-). Having said this, I haven't been as bad as previous times - my list was not wildly off the mark - it just needed to be taken down by half again! Next time perhaps I'll only have to take my list down by a third!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Flowers Everywhere

Lots of wonderful things happening this weekend - Big B's school sports day and the boy's first trip to the circus! It was action-packed to say the least and with this beautiful spring weather, it was a joy to be out and about. Tonight, I'm absolutely dead tired so just a short one from me.

I've been as always inspired by our garden to try my hand at butterflies and leaves for my little yellow cardigan. It has been great fun - not as tricky as it seems. I'm very much looking forward to putting everything together for the cardigan. The photo below is a little washed out here but the colour looks a lot better in person and should show up well on the yellow of the cardigan.

It can't compete however with the beauty of the flowers out at the moment in the garden (purely mother nature - no interference from us!). Here are a few I captured, including our poor bougainvillea that suffered with the storm a couple of months ago. The orange blossons are out and they smell divine!





The boys and I also played a bit of a treasure hunt in the garden (which allowed me also to have a little knitting time in the sun - most enjoyable) and this was their haul. It was so picturesque that I had to capture it on camera.

I have started another little cotton cardigan also as part of my stash reduction aim - a little blue spring cotton cardigan....very early stages but am quite excited about it.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Different Lace for Different Times

I was in the garden this afternoon thinking about doing another lace item and was thinking about the different approach you take with different types of lace knitting.
Fishbone lace - A reoccurring pattern
There is the lace knitting that is part of a reoccurring pattern. This is always a bit of a challenge to start with as each new pattern takes some getting used to. It can cause quite a bit of frustration at the beginning as the first 10-20 rows are often redone a number of times. It takes time to get the feel for the lace and how it behaves and how to know instinctively what is right or wrong in a new pattern. However, once you've got over that hurdle, the going gets a lot smoother and if it is not too difficult a pattern, you can end up doing it from memory. Often you get quite addicted to it and can stay knitting that pattern for quite a while. I find it is very much like starting a new job. You take a while to learn about everyone and how they react and the tasks and then you settle into a groove.
Pictorial lace - Snail Odyssey Baby Blanket
Pictorial knitting is often seen as more daunting because it is a bit like a one off event you take part in. In a one-off event, you have lots of people helping who you don't know and tasks aren't familiar. It is a crazy jumble of activities, which you don't often have to redo. At the end of the day, you can look back at the event in its entirety and be very proud. Pictorial knitting is very much like that as there isn't a rythmn you get into, almost every line is new and you have to concentrate to get it done. Personally I find while there is a little less pleasure in the making, it is made up for in seeing the finished product. I get such a buzz from seeing it all done!

Because of the different ways in which those types of lace need to be handled, I find they are both suited for different times. A reoccurring lace pattern is a great source of relaxation once the hurdle of starting is over and can be done even when very tired or on route to somewhere. Pictorial knitting is great to knit when you are determined to make something wonderful and have a bit of quiet time to dedicate to it. Definitely not to be done with small children around!

For both types of lace knitting, but specifically for pictorial knitting - I always use a ruler to mark the row I am at and always have a pencil handy to mark off on the chart or on the written instruction which rows I have done. Other tips to try include threading a bit of scrap yarn through your stitches every so often to act as a life line for when you make a mistake and need to rip back. Some people also find stitch markers useful to show pattern repeats - I tend to find that if I use those I don't get into the rythmn of the lace and it takes me longer to master but each to their own. Whatever makes you more comfortable to try out lace knitting is the most important thing!

Lace knitting does take a bit of courage and perseverence but after all, it's just yarn...what's the worst it can do to you ?

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

A Splash of Yellow

To reduce my stocks of yarn and let my imagination run riot, I'll be working on a series of cardigans and beanies over the coming weeks. These will be offered up for sale on the A Passionate Yarn website and may even feature in a giveaway!

The first in the series will be in a lovely yellow cotton (Bendigo Woollen Mills Soft Cotton in Daffodil), which is such a perfect reminder of what spring should really look like. As I am writing this, wind and rain are battering the house and it is distinctly chilly. Both heaters in the house are working overtime!

This cardigan is meant for a little girl and is inspired by my garden. One of its features will be a tiny, little butterfly made in the beautiful Jalbrook Alpaca random-dyed cotton. I'm going to include a few other little features too. More clues next time!


Don't forget to check out my Spring 20% off sale on the very cute Monkey Hats and Rose Beanies in the knitwear store! There is a link in the upper right hand corner of the blog - look under Children's Hats and then select the size you would like to see.



Sunday, 2 September 2012

Mistress Contrary Lace Collar

I've been sitting in the sun this afternoon in heaven - soaking up the spring sunshine, having the boys play around me and knitting a little yellow cotton cardigan. Pure bliss! It has been a great Father's Day which started with a very colourful banner for my lovely husband and chocolate pikelets topped with maple syrup and banana slices. These were then followed by a beautiful brunch in Fremantle with a view of the Port - what could be better!


I also finished my Mistress Contrary collar for my sister-in-law in time to give it to her today. It is my take on the 'Quite Contrary' pattern by Hannah Sukut. with the lace pattern from the Geographe Bay Scarf and my version of the ruffle. I'm really happy with the result after doubting a bit whether it would turn out the way I intended it to. It should look great with a black vintage style frock (unfortunately I didn't have anything suitable in my wardrobe to model it with!). It was great fun to make and would do it again in a heart beat.