Sunday, 30 December 2012

Sideways Babe Part 1

My beautiful A-Line cardigan and I have had a small falling out - I'm about to redo for the second time the front of the cardigan, having entirely stuffed up the initial lace edging. I think I would feel ok with this if it were a more challenging piece but as it is really quite easy, I am furious at myself. Also, as this was my "me-time" knit meant to pamper myself and smooth all of those ruffled, tired feathers after Christmas (I always find that no matter where I spend Christmas and how much of a lovely time I have, I get a bit "peopled out" and need a bit of space for a bit), a change was needed. Therefore, I've cast on a new project!

I've been itching to try this very cuddly cardigan from Allison Britt from SparrowPlay - Sideways Babe for a while and as we just found out that there is a new little second cousin called Minnie in the family, this was too good an opportunity to miss! It has some really interesting techniques and construction in it that keep you hooked although it is easy enough to be an anytime knit. These next few pictures show the start of a Sideways Babe cardigan in Bendigo Woollen Mills Spring Cotton (cotton/lycra blend) - since these were taken I've added the back and right front and am starting on the last side. I've also got the most perfect buttons from Jodulbug Creations to match the yarn which should provide a soft cotton, all year cardigan. In case you're wondering, the blue yarn is merely some waste yarn for the provisional cast-on.

I'm not sure I'm going to be able to make this my last finished object for the year but we shall see!

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Christmas Holidays - Cotton Cardigan 1

I'm finally back at my computer after a beautiful five days away with the family in Balingup. It has been a truly magical time to just relax, eat, play, knit and of course, eat some more! I hope you had a wonderful time over Christmas too - sharing some beautiful moments with loved ones, indulging in whatever passions you have and having time to unwind after the pre-Christmas rush. 

Here are a couple of pictures I had to share - one is the little dove that is now sitting on my mum's tree and the other is my eldest, Big B who had never seen a turkey that big! Not pictured is the really wicked game of boules in which both boys managed to beat the adults fair and square -helped by the very bumpy Balingup ground :).

Before I left for Balingup, I was telling you that I was really excited about knitting myself a cardigan over the Christmas holidays. Well, I'm well underway with my Debbie Bliss A-line cardigan (from the Amalfi pattern book) made with Bendigo Woollen Mills 8ply Cotton in Sky Blue. I've completed the back and almost two sleeves. It is a bit different from doing a child's knit as it takes much longer to get the gratification of seeing a finished work but the pattern is quick and interesting.

I've modified the hem from a straight moss stitch to a cute lace edging called falling snow. No doubt you will see a few more of these pictures in the next week.

I'm going back to stand in front of the air-conditioner now - it is 39 degrees Celsius today...the first of a series of over 40 degree days. There is a very good upside to this of course. What can you do when you're stuck inside for a couple of days? Knit of course!

Friday, 21 December 2012

Christmas Decorations 3: Christmas Rose

The count down to Christmas is now deadly serious and I am still making Christmas decorations believe it or not! My mum asked me to bring down a knitted decoration for her tree so I've made her a Christmas rose (design by Lesley Stanfield) and I am now half way through her dove.

So tonight, amid all the other little jobs that need to be done (wrapping gifts, writing cards), I am taking a bit of chilling time to sip a lovely cole ale and enjoy making my little dove all over again! I may also sneak in a test square for the cardigan I will be making myself over Christmas!

As this is my last post until after Christmas, I wish you a very merry Christmas! May the time with your families be really enjoyable and that you get a little bit of "me time" within the celebrations to knit or do whatever you do that makes you happy.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Christmas Knit List 5: More Presents

Every year we get to this week before Christmas and I face the test of whether I was prepared enough to breeze through the last minute preparations. The answer to that challenge really lies in two parts - the first is that the priority projects got done in time - yay!

1) Hooded Vest for MJ - my little nephew. It's a Panda pattern and made in a beautiful Naturally Loyal variegated wool plus some Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury (Aquarium colour) to make up the shortfall. I had earmarked this yarn for him ages ago when he was much smaller!  I thought I could skip testing the gauge as I've worked with this before and got gauge but ahem, instead of being a one year old knit - it will last him well throughout his second year (he is almost 6 months now). I love the little wombat button I picked up in Bendigo.

2) Last teacher appreciation gift - Skinny Feather and Fan Scarf from Bendigo Woollen Mills 80% bamboo, 20% wool. I absolutely love this one but wasn't able to get a full shot (finished in the nick of time last night!).

3) Another little Chloe Cardigan - Size four this time for my niece. I still love making the cardigan! I still have a little bit of the beautiful "Sweet as Candy" colourway so perhaps a matching little dress might be in order?

Now, all I've got to do is a few Christmas decorations and then, I'll be off knitting a blue cotton cardigan for myself- very exciting!!!

Friday, 14 December 2012

Knitting Ideas for Kids

The Christmas holidays are almost upon us and it is always good to get a few crafty ideas to entertain the children when it gets either too hot (as we may be) or too cold! I had the privilege to be on roster in Big B's Pre-Primary/ Year 1 class last Thursday and was asked by the teacher to find a means of making knitting nancys and then teaching the children to do French knitting.

After scouring the internet, I came across a great website, My Material Life which had a great section on the making knitting nancys from empty toilet rolls or half size kitchen rolls and popsticks. She also talks through what the end result can make - brilliant! So I tried it and it works a treat. You don't have to use hooks or picks and that is so much easier for 4-7 year olds. Your best bet is to you use 8ply/DK wool or at a maximum 10ply/worsted. For 4-7 year olds it is best to start them off and they will fly with it once it is going.

 Both in class and at home, it kept them entertained over an hour and my boys come back to it every now and then. Big B has been quite sick this week with a virus and he still really enjoyed doing it so it might be a good activity for sick kids too!

It was great fun getting back to doing something this simple and yet so satisfying. I don't think I've done this activity since I was about nine but it all comes back to you pretty quickly!

Have a great weekend! I'm desperately finishing off a vest for my nephew and just realised I calculated the armbands all wrong....eek!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

New Pattern Release: Snail Odyssey Baby Blanket

What an incredibly busy week! I'm very proud to be able to release this pattern which has been a while in the making. It is now available on Ravelry.

The Snail Odyssey Baby Blanket was designed for my little new-born nephew as a fun, practical pram blanket that can go anywhere, anytime. It was inspired by our little vegetable garden and its very cute predators, those pesky snails. I always think they are so beautiful in their own way despite the holes they leave in the broccoli and other green leafy vegetables!

The baby blanket is made using a small number of stitches and is an easy lace pattern to follow, using a combination of yarn overs and both knit and purl decreases. The raised effect is made by purling on the right side and using purl decreases. While not complicated, the pattern does demand a little bit of attention as you do the snails but the rest of the time, it is a perfect knit to do while watching television! It is knit in one piece using 4ply wool or cotton. 

This knit is suitable for an intermediate lace knitter.  

The finished blocked pram blanket measures 51x74cm (20 x29 inches).

Many thanks to Knittynana for her patience and skill in testing the Snail Odyssey blanket!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Rebellious Thoughts

There is a time, usually about half way through the Christmas knitting process, when I start rebelling againt my Christmas knit list and dream of pastures new. Usually the dreams focus on the Christmas/New Year Break projects which have traditionally been knits either for myself or the boys - pleasure knits if you like. This year, I am looking at making a couple of knits for myself. One would be a cotton cardigan (I only own one, not handmade by me and about 10 years old) and the other a lace-weight wrap. The cardigan is the first order of priority as there is more of a call for it. The other is merely a frontier I would like to explore.

The other day I went to one of my favourite places for inspiration, Calico & Ivy in Mosman Park and found the perfect pattern book, Debbie Bliss' Amalfi. It has a great range of easy, gorgeous cardigans and I'm tossing up either the pink long sleeve on the front or a short sleeve a-line cardigan. I think the a-line might win as first knit, perhaps I can sneak the long sleeve in soon too!

I think I've also found the colour I want to make it in. It is either of these Bendigo Woollen Mills Cotton - French Navy or Sky Blue.

Can't wait to start the cardigan! Just got to get through the next two weeks of knitting!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Store Stocking - Last for 2012

I'm having the last store stocking of 2012 at the moment on the A Passionate Yarn facebook page. There are some great specials - perfect for stocking fillers and also some nice items for yourself while you're at it! I'm offering all sorts of knitted/crocheted items at special prices - headbands, necklaces, beanies and wraps. Hope you enjoy them!

In the meantime, you'll be finding me busily knitting away, with the realisation that there aren't that many days before Christmas!! I'm two thirds of the way through my nephew MJ's vest for next winter so hopefully I'll be able to show it to you before long.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Christmas Decorations 2: Christmas Wreath Finished

What a great start to advent (and of course the start of summer in Australia too)! After a rather half-hearted attempt to finish the Christmas wreath at craft night on Friday night, I powered through early on Saturday morning and decided to just get it up. I had unfortunately lost the little butterfly that I had made (later turned up in the car) so this wreath is slightly different from its original design but I'm still really happy to have finished it. I know this is going to sound very funny but for anything other than knitting, I'm really all fingers and thumbs so this was a bit of a feat!

In between the hectic social agenda involved with kids in December, this weekend has been unashamedly about getting ready for Christmas and it was a delight to have the boys so keen to participate. We decorated the house on Saturday - two Christmas trees - because one is never enough!
 If you look closely above, you may be able to make out the knitted slug and egg as well as the flower decoration drawn by Little B. I'm hoping to perhaps add a few more knitted decorations by the end of advent depending on the other Christmas knitting. Second Christmas tree (well, Christmas branches) below has some baubles on it that haven't seen the light since 2006, before Big B was born.

The boys also decided our reindeer needed to pull a sleigh, which they drew and placed strategically between the reindeer.

Now all that's left to do is the Christmas knitting....GULP.