Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Getting into the Groove

Over the last couple of days, I had time to evaluate a few of my unfinished projects. I find that most projects have a bit of life cycle in terms of their development. There is the great excitement phase of planning, finding the right design and casting on. Sometimes a few projects get stuck there when it becomes very obvious a) either I've changed my mind entirely or b) there is some major technical hurdle (wrong wool, wrong colour, etc). This is a fairly easy "kill" stage of projects as there is not much emotional or time investment as yet.

The second stage is much harder - you have gone a little way into the project and you are in the middle of the "storming" phase of the knit. By that I mean, you're becoming more familiar with the instructions after a number of errors or restarts and this is the turning point of the project either getting into the groove or being abandoned.

Yesterday I had a lace project  at this turning point. It is a glorious dark blue bamboo wrap in 8ply (from the Bendigo Woollen Mills backroom). I intended to use a beautiful allover lace snow flurry pattern. I started it and made a number of errors (as always happens with lace for me) but the mojo just wasn't flowing even after several repeats of the pattern. I kept neglecting the project, feeling guilty about it and then I realised what the issue was. While the lace pattern was beautiful, it just did not fit in with the type of lace I needed right now - unfussy, uncomplicated, able to be picked up at a drop of hat. So all the work got pulled back and I cast on again with a feather and fan pattern - easy but with enough interest to keep me going. I've never tried a feather and fan style so I'm really interested to see how it turns out. It seems to fit the circumstances, suits the yarn and looks pretty good - and I think the groove is back on!

Of course, there are other times when abandoning a project is called for and yet it is so much harder to make the call....here is a case in point, my lonely sock.

But that is a story for another day....

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Mini Store Stocking

This weekend has been a little hectic gearing up for A Passionate Yarn's first mini store stocking on our facebook page (A Passionate Yarn). It is a bit daunting but exciting at the same time! All of this, of course, is part of my need to get through the mountains of lovely yarn I have accumulated! I've had such fun creating these pieces and I hope they bring much joy.

All of the pieces (they include some from Jan and Jamie) are inspired either by butterflies or the garden. They are made mainly from cotton or bamboo - all fabrics suitable for in-between and summer weather. The items will stay on the facebook site for a week and then any items left will be migrated to the knitwear store.
Camille Cardigan - 6-9 months

Alice Cardigan - 2-3 years

Camille Cardigan - 2-3 years
The store stocking starts from 5pm WST/8pm EST Sunday 28th October. Pop in and have a look!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Woolly Mail!

It has truly been one of those weeks where the days are so full that time is a blur and bedtime and wake up time seem to roll around much faster than usual! Amid all this hectic time, I had an absolutely beautiful surprise today - a parcel for a lovely friend who is in London filled with goodies for the whole family, including woolly mail! She found some truly amazing buttons at the V&A that I am just itching to use as well as a gorgeous little orange Italian yarn. It is a beautiful random act of sunshine!

 I also add the final little touches to another little cardigan last night made from Bendigo Woollen Mills Spring Cotton - this will be up either Sunday or Monday as part of a mini store stocking online at the A Passionate Yarn facebook page. I'm really pleased with the end result - even if the butterfly's antennae didn't want to comply for the photo!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Relaxation Knits

Given this is total and utter crunch time week for work and extra commitments, I've come back to my very important principle of having one piece of easy knitting on the go at all times. This piece of knitting is specifically designed for those times when frankly, anything more than plain stocking stitch is beyond me. Such a project is very useful for times of when you're tired, stressed or you have very limited, small opportunities to knit (public transport, looking after kids) or even when you just want to chat at a craft group. I had let this principle slip for a while in favour of concentrating on finishing specific projects. However, having an easy project on the go  means more knitting gets done and less unravelling!

My current "relaxation project" is a sleeveless vest in my favourite Panda pattern size 2. This pattern I've used for my boys and I know it looks good and will have the staying power required to withstand any little boy. I'm making this 8 ply vest in a combination of 4ply BWM Latte cotton and 4ply BWM Inferno (cotton/wool from the BWM back room). It is likely to end up as a Christmas present but I haven't fully decided yet who the recipient will be. The picture below was taken a few days ago so now I have finished most of the back and am just shaping the shoulders.

I've also got a number of little butterflies that I'm knitting up to finish a couple of cardigans. This is a selection of lower wings at the stand by. Tonight I'll be adding the upper wings...if the eyelids hold up :-). I'm looking so forward to the end of the week!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Sneak Peek - Snail Cardigan & Bamboo Wrap

Today was a great day...the boys and I had the day to ourselves and we made full use of it including gardening (the boys tended their pet snails), going on a picnic and baking banana bread. Amid all of this rush of activity, there was a pure bliss moment of 20 minutes of peaceful knitting! I literally put up my feet and did row after row of stocking stitch....a truly wonderful way to unwind! For those who were still stuck at the pet snails...the boys were a little disappointed that they hadn't stuck around and had escaped by the end of the day rather than partake of their beautiful rose petal and rainbow chard salad!

On other snail related news, I finished a little 6-9 month cotton snail cardigan which will be part of the store stocking in the coming weeks on the A Passionate Yarn facebook page (i.e. it will be for sale..very exciting). It is a little design I'm experimenting around with, made in the very soft Bendigo Woollen Mills cotton - honeydew colour. This is a slightly plainer hardier version to suit a cotton 8ply (intarsia in cotton is not the most pleasant experience I find). The very cute mushroom button is from Jodulbug, New Zealand.

I also finally got to take a few pictures of the finished Bamboo Chinese Garden Wrap (I renamed it - had to get the bamboo in there!), which is made of the beautiful 80% bamboo, 20% wool I found in the Bendigo Woollen Mills back room. It is another version of the Unleaving scarf by Lee Juvan, made to be deeper and larger. I love the bright colours and it has a really beautiful flowing feel. It will also be part of the store stocking in the coming weeks!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Bendigo Chinese Garden Wrap 2

What a hectic few days it has been! Getting back into work and also gearing up with my knitting...well, it is time to take a tiny but well-deserved break tonight :-).  Here are a few knitty things that happened:
  • The Wildflower Unleaving Scarf finished and I was delighted to see Lisa won the Wildflower Unleaving scar. I hope it brings her lots of joy!
  • I've almost finished a little Snail Cardigan for an upcoming store stocking, and
  • I've finally got one of my patterns ready for testing again.
Most important of all, the Bendigo Chinese Water Garden Wrap is finished apart from weaving in some of the ends and blocking it out. It was made with an 8ply Bamboo/Wool mix from Bendigo Woollen Mills  in both lovely lime green and turquoise. I've used the Unleaving Scarf design by Lee Juvan but increased the depth and size of the scarf to make it more of a wrap.

So now I leave you for a glass of something chilled and perhaps a little more knitting ! This weekend will be busy too but hopefully will incorporate some yarny pleasures too.....

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Drifter Nightcap Beanie

I mentioned in one of my last posts that I was saving the end of my latest Drifters Nightcap beanie for the plane trip. The aim was that I should be just about able to do the last few rows on the plane while still looking after the boys. It was a very modest aim (quite unlike me) and it payed off. It was just the right amount of knitting and easy enough to enable me to answer queries, read books and help Big B with his games throughout the trip.

I'm quite pleased with the end result. It is more subtle than the original and due to the smoother nature of the Drifters yarn, it has an entirely different look and feel. It was also a 10ply rather than the original 12ply but a slight increase in the number of stitches cast on was all that was really required (98 stitches in all).

The beanie was promptly dispatched to its new owner, my lovely husband's best mate on Sunday and hopefully, it will be much loved.

Also, I promised a shot of the blocked 'Queen of Hearts' Unleaving Scarf which is a little teacher appreciation gift (a rare moment of advance planning!). Doesn't look too bad, does it?

I'm currently furiously knitting away to do a mini-store stocking hopefully sometime next week so keep posted. Having a lot of fun choosing a few projects to do to clear out my yarn cupboards!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Wildflower Unleaving Scarf Giveaway

We've come back from Melbourne reinvigorated and full of beans! We all has such great experiences and yours truly was able to indulge her yarn passions. I loved the Bendigo, Sydney and Melbourne yarn shops including Morris and Sons, Sunspun, Bendigo Woollen Mills and a very cute quilting store called Little Blokes. Even got to meet a fellow knitter!

A little time had to be spent rearranging to make way for all the new yarn! It even entered into Little B's games - his marine iguana is apparently a knitter who needs to have special massive air-borne deliveries of wool and knitting needles!

I also had the luxury of knitting time and so I have a giveaway competition running at the moment on my facebook page. Win this beautiful Unleaving Scarf made from Jalbrook Alpaca hand-dyed cotton by just leaving a comment describing your ideal summer wrap!

The competition runs until Tuesday 16th October 2012 at 7pm. Winner will be chosen by random number generator. Good luck!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Last Day in Melbourne

Sadly this is our last day in Melbourne but we finished it in style! After a morning spent at NGV Kids Corner with Little B, I spent the afternoon with Big B, visiting a very special place. Big B was so excited...I think you'll see why! He had a beautiful Chocolate Lover's Tart and I had a Caramel Banana Swiss Roll. He said he knew this was a very special place because they added lemon and ice to his lemon-lime bitter! The waitress also asked him for his name so he thought that was pretty good too - he thought this meant that they don't usually have little boys in the tea rooms!

The Bendigo Chinese Garden Unleaving Wrap is at the half way point and looking fabulous. However, she and I are parting ways momentarily as she requires a perfectionist attitude that is not appropriate for waiting in airports and assisting little boys in planes. Therefore, she has been packed away and I've cast on a Nightcap Beanie for my lovely husband's best mate (It's his birthday next week). It is a beautiful Naturally Drifters 10ply with enough colour gradient to be interesting. I've adapted slightly the pattern to fit the 10ply and the needles I have with me so fingers crossed it works! It is really nice for a change to have a very forgiving yarn with great elasticity and a simple mindless pattern to follow. I'm hoping to have it all finished - minus the making up and tassel by the time we touch down in Perth.

We've absolutely loved Melbourne and I can't wait to come back to Victoria. I'll need to do a lot of knitting first to make a dent in the yarn acquired during this visit!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Bendigo Chinese Garden Wrap

Inspired by my recent trip to Bendigo and in honour of the beautiful bamboo/wool yarn I found in the backroom of the Bendigo Woollen Mills Factory Shop, I am doing another version of the beautiful Unleaving Scarf. This is styled as a wrap in 8ply. The colour combination is drawn from the beautiful Chinese Garden in Bendigo next to the Golden Dragon Museum.
The bamboo/wool combination is just slipping through my fingers and it is a really lovely experience. I can't wait to see how the finished product comes out. I was knitting it yesterday coffee on the side amid the pouring rain and cold watched on curiously by a little sparrow. Still an amazing Melbourne day!

Friday, 5 October 2012


Yesterday I had the afternoon to my self to wander around Melbourne. The idea was to find some new clothes for summer as I have the unfortunate tendency of wearing my clothes to death and only going shopping when I really need to. I think this may be a by-product of being a knitter, particularly with cardigans as I keep looking at them and thinking "Well, I'll just cast another cardigan" (which doesn't happen in the queue of waiting projects.

Of course, when shopping you have to make sure you have appropriate breaks to refresh the tired shopper. Therefore, I had a delicious time knitting in the Royal Arcade with a coffee and later in the Block Arcade with a beer! I managed to finish the Jalbrook Alpaca random-dyed cotton Unleaving Scarf. Very happy with the result! You'll have to imagine the finished result until I block it upon our return home.

Anyway, I had the best of intentions and was NOT looking for yarn, when I walked out of a shop and almost bumped into a glass case containing yarn. I did a bit of a double take as I wasn't expecting it and followed the signs to the Melbourne Morris and Sons - would you know it, it is about a minute and a half from our apartment! Of course, once there, it was mesmerising to browse and while I resisted manfully, I just had to walk out of the store with a lace weight ball of Schopper wool in gradients of autumn colours! I think perhaps a little lace scarf or wrap?
Another beautiful day in Melbourne ahead of us and another Unleaving scarf on my needles (turquoise and lime green)! I leave you with this gorgeous elephant at the Melbourne Zoo.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Spring Unleaving Scarf

Well, we're starting our fourth day in Melbourne as a family and we're loving every moment. It is so wonderful to be able to do sightseeing with the boys who have been amazing in their patience, interest and walking legs! We've been to the Melbourne Museum, spent half a day in the Royal Botanical Gardens, gone up the Eureka tower and wandered through Chinatown. The boys have been discovering different foods - their big favourite was seaweed salad!

I'm getting a little less knitting done but I try to knit a little when everyone is relaxing back at the apartment in the middle of the day. I'm doing a cotton version of the Unleaving Scarf with the gorgeous Jalbrook Alpaca Knitwear Store random-dyed cotton. These pictures are a couple of days old - I've started the decreases now so am a little over half way through. I haven't quite captured the colours of the cotton below (they're deeper than pictured) which make me think of meadows of spring flowers when they're scattered with the little yellow and pink flowers. I'm really enjoying this knit as the stitch definition is beautiful and it will be a lovely spring/summer accessory. This little scarf will be featuring in a store stocking coming up!