Thursday, 29 November 2012

Christmas Knit List 4 - Salvation Army Cardigan

The working week is slowly coming to an end and I for one am very much looking forward to the weekend! After a bit more work than usual, a virus that has swept through the family and a really windy night last night, we're all battling tiredness and the urge to just spend every waking moment in bed.

Due to these little niggles, the Christmas knitting has not progressed quite as fast as hoped. I haven't got to my last couple of items for the Christmas wreath but have finished the Chloe Cardigan for the Salvation Army Christmas Appeal. I did this one in a dark teal/blossom pink combination (Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 8ply) which looks quite nice - topped off with a floral button from Jodulbug Creations. It's going to be dropped off at work tomorrow!

Then of course, Little B required a blanket for Lola, his soft toy cheetah, as apparently she got cold last night in the stormy weather! He insisted we go through his wool stash...yes, both boys have their wool stash and we found a green yarn that is apparently Lola's favourite colour. This yarn addiction of mine must be rubbing off on the boys! So, at lunch time today, a garter stitch blanket was produced for Lola. She should be nice and snug tonight!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Christmas Knit List 3 - Pink Mulberry Feather and Fan Scarf

Only four more weeks to go until Christmas and I'm starting to feel the knitting pressure. I spend a little time each day mentally reviewing how much time I've got and who perhaps doesn't need a knitted gift after all...the list inexplicably seems to get a bit shorter every few days :)!

However, I have got one gift all blocked and ready to is the beautiful Miss Pink Mulberry Feather and Fan Scarf, which is the merino/silk blend from Candy Apple Lane. While the yarn had its own idiosyncrasies including being fuzzy during knitting and fusing a little, its softness and shine totally outweigh that. I was absolutely stunned by how well it blocked and it has totally transformed the scarf.


I've found this little pattern such a handy standby gift pattern that I'm going to be putting it up shortly as a free pattern on the A Passionate Yarn website (hopefully tonight!).

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Christmas Knit List 2 - A Flurry of Knits

We've just come back from a beautiful trip down to Busselton visiting Grandma and Grandpa. We all had a wonderfully relaxing time on their verandah, ambling about the towncentre (including the Blue Box!) and having an afternoon ale at Stilts Cafe on the beach. The life! One little drawback was the very early morning starts for all....5am, which is a time that makes me a little unfriendly after about 4pm each day. However, the early morning chorus of birds was quite lovely as was the sound of a little boy scootering outside by 5.15am!

I also had a fabulous time knitting. The long drive and back was brilliant for completing some of my Christmas knitting. I finished the yummy silk/merino feather and fan scarf (yarn is from Candy Apple Lane). I've loved the feeling of this yarn and I'm hoping it will look as beautiful as it feels. Silk/merino seems to handle a bit like mohair - there is a little fluff (so don't look for perfect stitch definition) and also it is important not to undo much of your knitting as the yarn fuses together. However, its beauty is perfect for a very cuddly scarf and if you go for an easy design - no risk of battling with fused yarn! Here are a few unblocked pictures but you have my word both halves are finished and are now peacefully drying on the blocking board.

Also, I finished a Chloe Cardigan (by Alana Dakos from Never Not Knitting) for my little 2.5 year old niece in the same Sweet as Candy colourway as before and I've got enough for one more cardigan I think. It is amazing to get 5 cardigans out the 400g of beautiful Sweet as Candy plus trim (from Candy Apple Lane)! Here's a picture of it unblocked without its button.

Lastly, on the drive back, I managed to get about half way through another Chloe Cardigan (Size 2 this time) in Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 8ply - Oceanic (which is a teal colour) and Baby Blossom (light pink). This little cardigan will go to the Salvation Army Christmas Appeal along with a few other little treats. My deadline is Friday for this so must get a wriggle on! The pink did not quite come out on this photo but it is quite a nice colour combination.

So knitting-wise, this week will be about finishing off the little beasties for the Christmas wreath and blocking the above. Looks like I will be pretty busy!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Christmas Decorations 1: Slugs and Other Creations

In one of my recent blog posts, I mentioned that my boys were both excited about the idea of a garden themed Christmas tree. In particular, they've become quite fixated on the idea of having a slug on the Christmas tree and I've been fielding questions about when this slug will be ready. Well, I've caved in and here is Slugsy in all his blue-eyed glory.....

I'm actually quite proud of him and the boys think he is wonderful! A paper cut out rainbow snail has also followed and the boys were enquiring about whether we should also include a fly. My lovely husband put his foot down at this stage of the proceedings...there will be no flies on our Christmas tree! I think perhaps some butterflies, leaves and mushrooms may join him.

Also for the Christmas tree, is this little red pearl-speckled egg much laughter was had this morning describing it as a red, prickly coconut. Don't ask, I have no idea why!

We'll be going down south for the weekend so after tonight I will leave my wreath and Christmas decorations alone and concentrate on the important Christmas knitting to be done during the long car trips. Hopefully I'll have some finished projects to show you.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Odd Ball Project Finished

The knitted mannequin head has been safely delivered to AnnaBirgitte's house. What a great, if slightly odd, challenge to undertake. I'm delighted by the way it looks, despite being made in a few different parts to accommodate the potential discarding of the knitted fabric.

If ever you decide to do the same - here's how it was made. The foam mannequin head was bought from Riot Arts and Craft Centre but there are lots of similar ones online. I made a simple child-sized extra, extra long beanie using the classic Patons beanie pattern for Totem DK (I just decreased the ladies' size by six stitches). The yarn used here is a combination of Patons Dreamtime 4ply in beige and Patons Big Baby 4ply in white. The neck and shoulders are actually two parts. I cast on 28 stitches and just increased by one on both ends of each right sided row until I was about 2cm from the bottom and then switched to 6 rows of 1K,1P ribbing to match the beanie (without further shaping). I made this twice and sewed the edges up three quarters of the way, leaving a space to put over the head of the mannequin. You can then sew it up completely. Pin the beanie into place to shape for the neck and adjust so that the ribbed brim of the beanie is over the start of the neck and shoulders section.

Of course, this can be done in a much more sophisticated manner by knitting top-down and shaping to the actual head.

After so much beige and white, I'm ready for a bit of colour and fortunately, the postman obliged....look at all the beautiful woolly mail from Bendigo Woollen Mills! An amazing 3.2 kilos of wool and cotton. Of course, now I am facing severe yarn storage issues but hey, isn't that just another excuse to knit more and give some of this lovely stuff away?! I've got some great plans to make a Sideways Dude and a Sideways Babe (both by the very talented Alison Britt) out of some of this...

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Odd Ball Project Weekend

Just when you think you've got all your knitting projects mapped out, an oddball project pops up and takes over your weekend...just to keep you on your toes! For me, the oddball project is a knitted mannequin head. Why would I do that? Well, AnnaBirgitte and I are working on a summery photoshoot for the website and she suggested the idea of covering a styrofoam mannequin head with yarn. Great idea! So, not quite knowing how to tackle the issue, I decided to do it in two parts (since we have to have something we can take off and discard if we don't like it). The first is the beanie then the neck/shoulders

This is the work in progresss - an extra, extra long child-sized beanie in white and beige (using leftover Patons Dreamtime in beige (4ply) and Patons Big Baby in white (4ply). I used the two different colours to add a more subtle texture than just a plain white. I've started the neck part with the view that all of it will be pinned into shape for the photos.

I'm not sure if it will end up in the photos but it is certainly a very interesting experience! I've got to get cracking as it must be finished by the end of tonight to be delivered to AnnaBirgitte (from Photography by AnnaBirgitte) early next week.

I did sneak in a tiny bit of Christmas knitting when the white and beige got the better of me - a bit more on the beautiful Candy Apple Lane ultrafine merino/silk feather and fan scarf.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Christmas Wreath Part 2

The Christmas wreath project is now well on its way. Despite being under the weather this week, I've managed to make three bits of mistletoe and a teeny butterfly....hurray! I'm hoping they will be followed shortly by another similar butterfly and if I manage it, an extraordinary looking butterfly called the Fritillary (sounds more like a culinary dish doesn't it?) and maybe some ladybirds.  All of the designs for the wreath are by Lesley Stanfield.

The boys have become very excited by the idea of knitted bugs for the Christmas tree and everyday they ask if I've made their slug yet. This started as a bit of a joke...but it ended up with a full blown discussion about the merits of having a slug at the top of the tree! I did veto that idea but a slug will have to join the crew at some point.

Christmas knitting is slowly progressing and as mentioned in the last post, I've started another feather and fan scarf with a gorgeous ultrafine merino/mulberry silk mix (48% silk!) dyed by Candy Apple Lane, my favourite dyer. In case, like me you weren't quite sure what this is, mulberry silk is the true old-fashioned silk made from silk worm cocoons. This beautiful material is literally like working with silk and is lovely to handle. The colourway, called "Miss Pink Mulberry", always makes me think of those beautiful pastel boiled sweets! I will only be showing bits and pieces of this scarf as its recipient very occasionally looks at this want to keep it a bit of a surprise. Just wishing I had more of this beautiful yarn!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Christmas Knit List - Feather and Fan Scarf

On the weekend I finished the second of the teacher appreciation gifts for Big B to take to school at the end of term. It has been patiently sat in our bedroom, drying away in its blocked shape and today I finished it off by sewing it together. I love how this scarf turned out - its beautiful orange sheen is unusual and the linen in it (Rowan Lenpur Linen) gives it an amazing drape and texture.

The simple feather and fan pattern suits the yarn well and I'm a little bit jealous of the education assistant who will be getting this. I went a little photo crazy here - bear with me, I had no one else in the house for a quarter of an hour so took good advantage of it!

A new Christmas present is well underway on the needles, but as they say, that's a story for another time.......

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Christmas Wreath Part 1

Every year I always think that it would be a lovely idea to create a Christmas wreath and then I never quite get around to it. However, this is the year that I actually get this idea to work. Instead of the usual Christmas wreaths, I've decided to take my favourite theme of the garden into a Christmas red and white hue. So expect to see butterflies, ladybirds and other beauties...

Last night I tackled the biggest element, which was the peaceful dove. This was the make or break piece of my idea - if I didn't manage this, I think I would have shelved the idea of the wreath. I've never knitted something like this before and got entirely hooked on to it once I put in the wadding. I stayed up way past my bedtime just to see it come to fruition and finished off the wings this morning. I know this is a bit daggy but I'm so thrilled with the result! The pattern is by Lesley Stanfield in her beautiful book "75 Birds, Butterflies and Beautiful Beasties to Knit & Crochet". The yarn is a bit of left over 4 ply white wool/acrylic.

I'll be putting this little dove in the centre of my wicker wreath (see previous post) along with other little beasties, leaves, ribbon and Christmas decorations. Can't wait to see how this little bit of fun comes along!

In the meantime, the other Christmas knitting is also coming along well. My orange feather and fan scarf is about 5 cm away from being finished and will then just need to be washed, blocked and the two halves woven together. I'm just itching to get started on the next one!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

The Start of Christmas Knitting

There are two significant events that bring out all the knitterly passion in me - the first is one that happens every year and the other pops up every so often after many months of gestation. You've probably guessed the latter is the birth of a baby and the former is Christmas. Both of these occasions are really represent the reason why I started knitting in the first place - it is all about celebrating life and being able to be generous of your time in thinking of and being with people.

So, Christmas time is incredibly special to me and I spend a lot of time and energy usually from late October planning little knitting related presents for those I hold dear. I love making little cardigans for those children who don't fully appreciate toys yet, or sturdy vests for active adventurers, lacy scarves or other unusual treat for adults who probably would not make it for themselves. Beanies are off the list unless particularly requested (they come out at Easter time!).

So this year, I am starting a little later than usual but am now officially in full swing. This orange feather and fan narrow scarf is for one of Big B's education assistants. It is made from an absolutely fascinating yarn called Rowan Lenpur Linen (75% Lenpur Viscose and 25% Linen). It has a beautiful draping silky appearance and is made in Italy no less! I bought this sadly discontinued yarn in Melbourne at Sunspun, which was filled to the brim with other wonders. I think the whole atmosphere of the shop is reflected in this yarn and I'm so pleased to be able to put it to good use.

My list of Christmas knitting is starting to form and while my tub of yarns earmarked for Christmas presents is spilling out all over my desk, there is one thing left to do today..... indulge in one of my favourite pre-Christmas rituals - perusing the Bendigo Woollen Mills end of year sale! I've just finished my wish list and  am about to post my order for their cotton special on their new range of colours as well as the special on the Serenade wool/bamboo mix. If it doesn't take too long, I can see a lot of cardigans, tunics and wraps being made from it!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Flowers for Melbourne Cup Day

Made it in the nick of time - four beautiful flowers for four beautiful ladies to wear today as part of Melbourne Cup festivities at work. These flowers are mostly made from bamboo or cotton with a slight dash of silk and linen added in for extra pizzazz. We wore them in our hair, teamed up with floral dresses and quite outrageous heels. It was great fun and we even managed to win $12 in the office sweep stake! The talk has already started as to what we might do next year....apparently, it may have something to do with knitted bugs as hair pieces (and it wasn't me who brought it up either!).

I hope you all had a great time too at your Melbourne Cup celebrations!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Do Over Week

Okay, sometimes you get to a week, where with all the best of intentions, you find that in a number of areas of your life, you have projects on the go, which if you'd looked at them with all honesty, you knew you would have to start all over again.

So this week, after the wonderful blue bamboo wrap was taking shape with the right drape and the right lace pattern, a glaring issue became increasingly obvious....I had almost finished my first ball (having only four balls to do the project) and well, how to put it....the amount of wrap undertaken was probably about 20cm being very generous. Now it doesn't take a genius to figure out that I will never have enough to finish the project. I toyed for a little while with the idea of a table runner but as I don't really use table runners and no one in the family would need a dark blue one, there was only one thing to do. A small ball of tightly packed bamboo/wool yarn is all that is left of the beautiful wrap.

If that was not enough, to cheer myself up I started an orange scarf in the same feather and fan lace pattern and after an evening of work, realised it too was fatally flawed. The drape was all wrong and I really needed to go up a couple of sizes in my needles.

So now before starting again, I am taking a detour on the frivolous side of life....some knitted flowers for Melbourne Cup Day. For the non-Australians, it is next Tuesday and it is called "the race that stops the nation". All work places stop work and have a lunch of chicken, salad, rolls and when lucky, sparkling wine too! People dress up in nice summery dresses (even if it pours with rain), heels and wear hats or fascinators of some sort. So, I thought I'd investigate making a few head pieces if I can for the girls on the team.

Here's my dress with a couple of options in terms of yarn.....

Plus my first attempt at a flower...need to redo the centre of it but you get the general idea.