Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Winter Garden Beanie

A few weeks ago, I showed you a few pictures of colourful beanie that was a test knit for the very talented Allison Britt (from SparrowPlay). As it has just been released, I can now show you some more pictures of this really cute beanie that I am very proud of making. It is the wonderful combination of slipped stitches which really makes this pattern. For all of you who are wary of colourwork and I am one of those, believe me, this is a great painless re-introduction to something which can be quite fun.

Both the pattern for Winter Garden Beanie and the matching Winter Garden Cowl are available now and Allison is having a big discount on all of her patterns during the month of February to celebrate her KAL (knit along) on the Ravelry forum - Budding Designers Down Under. There are some great prizes to be won - free patterns (including by me!), yarn by Candy Apple Lane (whose variegated Sweet as Candy yarn was used for the beanie pictured above) and also a $50 voucher from Crafty Frog. Make sure you check out Allison's patterns and her KAL. It should be very exciting. I'm planning to make her Sideways Dude pattern for a little boy who will be turning one shortly!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Ripple Baby Blanket 2

We're just about to do some last minute preparations for Big B's sixth birthday party with friends - water-themed given a very hot day ahead. All that is left is to do the party bags and a bit of last minute cooking and cleaning. We're in good shape and Big B is very excited!

I've been thoroughly enjoying my ripple blanket (made from Bendigo Woollen Mills Cotton and Heirloom Cotton - pattern made up). It has been very relaxing to see the colours unfold. It is also rather cooler to knit than wool at this time of year - a real blessing when you've got a blanket covering your lap! I've got one set of green to do and I'm finished. I love these colours for boys and just wish I'd been knitting when I was expecting my first!

I've also finally sewn together the Bougainvillea scarf (Skinny Feather and Fan pattern) which has been sitting patiently in the corner of my bedroom blocking. It looks beautiful with all the different colours unfolding. Unfortunately I was running out of time and this is not the best photo of this gorgeous wool!

Anyway, back to the air-conditioning and I should finish that blanket tonight!

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Ripple Baby Blanket 1

It has been action stations here....we had a bushfire come quite close to our home yesterday and that was a scary time. Thankfully there were big firebombers and lots of firetrucks so the blaze was all contained within three hours. Our place was right on the flight path for the water bombers and helicopters and we could see the water being dumped on the flames. This morning the calm has been restored and we're all very grateful of the great work of the firefighters.

Amid all of this chaos, it was lovely to work on this little cotton baby blanket that was inspired by the Attic 24 blog. It isn't crochet but it mimics a bit the lovely ripple blankets she makes. I also wanted something to use up some of my stocks of 8ply cotton in boy colours (All except the aqua colour are Bendigo Woollen Mills Cotton and the aqua is Heirloom Cotton which is also made by Bendigo Woollen Mills). I still have to make room in my cupboards from all my yarn buying last year!
Anyway, it is a gorgeous blanket to knit - I'm sure there are lots of feather and fan blanket patterns out there but I just winged it and it seems to be turning out fine! Looking forward to spending a little time with it again this afternoon.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Feather and Fan: Bougainvillea Scarf 2

Today is Big B's sixth birthday and he is having a ball. My lovely husband took the boys ten pin bowling while I was at work and they were so excited when they came home!

 It is on days like these when I celebrate also those projects that I can pick up at a moment's notice - that fit in with whatever I'm doing and are forgiving as to the amount of attention you give them. This is my latest one - a Skinny Feather and Fan scarf in Poems Silk by Wisdom Yarns (75% wool, 25% silk). The colours are cheerful and they make me feel like I'm knitting with candy floss in a way.

 I have now basically completed the two sides and just have to undo about 5 repeats down on one side as I noticed a teeny, weeny error. Very soon I'm hoping to show you the final result.

Back to the birthday celebrations, we're having homemade hamburgers tonight, yummy!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Cotton Cardigan 2 - Special Occasion

You might have wondered whether I gave in to the lure of other knits while I was down south or whether I actually managed to progress my cotton cardigan (Debbie Bliss A-Line Cardigan).

The answer is yes - the fifth time cast on was the charm...that's devotion for you! I also managed to mess up my decreases and so had to redo about half the left front again. This is of course when you appreciate the journey rather than thinking of the outcome!

Why the snake you might ask? Well, the snake featured in two ways on the weekend. The first is that a large snake (a duggite larger than my husband - venomous!) was spotted outside the front door of my in-laws place, which made us a little twitchy and on snake watch for the remainder of the weekend. That's Australia for you!

Secondly, both of my sons have a fondness for reptiles of all sorts and this plastic rendition is Big B's latest addition to our reptile collection. We held his special sixth birthday party with family this weekend and it was really a little boy's dream. He had all his favourite people, his favourite food and a monster cake! This beautiful cake is care of the wonderful Cherie who is amazing at cakes! Even the eyeballs were made with a different colour of cake mixture and were much prized for the eating.
 And lastly here is a quick picture of the birthday boy at the beach...this week will be all about him!

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Cotton Colour Experiments

After my surprisingly enjoyable experience with the test beanie for Allison Britt from Sparrowplay, I decided that my next experimental project will also be in technicolour....well, colourful for me anyway!

A very dear friend of mine is expecting a little girl in March and given she will be the second little girl of the family, I think it is important she has some special things to mark the occasion. I didn't make any knitted goodies for the first, Natasha, as my skills were not quite up to it at that stage so it is a fantastic opportunity for.....a brand new, super soft, cuddly, colourful baby blanket!
There is a slight technical obstacle of course here - the family live in Singapore and woollies are definitely persona non-grata. Therefore, I've been diving into my yarn stash taking out all of my cottons and I think these are the four most likely Bendigo Woollen Mills Cotton candidates - blush pink (it is darker, less sickly than in the photo), parchment (off-white), latte (beige) and wild lavender (darker purple than the photo).

I've been fiddling around with the combinations of colours, interesting stitches and an idea is forming...I'll keep you posted!

I also need to get back to my own blue cotton cardigan which has been sadly neglected due to a slight disagreement I had with it and a total lack of mental energy required to go back and start the same section again for the third time. However, it must be done - my goal is to be able to wear it to a work do in the second week of February.

Of course there is always that blanket, the bougainvillea scarf, the Sideways Dude I'll be making for Ben and wait, wouldn't a shawl be just great.........

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Adventures in Colour

I've been a bit quiet for a number of days with a great test knit I've been doing for one of my favourite local designers - full name of designer and pattern to be revealed when the pattern goes live!

This one was a bit left field for me as I'm not really into colour work and have had pretty disastrous results in the past. Nevertheless it was an utterly gorgeous beanie and I's only a beanie, how bad can it be? The answer is...not at all. In fact it was a great experience and I'm actually quite proud of the result!

The effects were all done with slip stitches and with the use of variegated yarn (you might recognise the Candy Apple Lane 'Sweet as Candy' here again), it looks like I've used more than just two colours. I also used Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 8ply in Acorn for the contrast colour and Blossom Pink for the highlight at the brim. It did require a bit of concentration so it had to be done when the boys were asleep but it was a really quick knit.

The beanie is currently out in the backyard drying and I'm hoping to get a few modelled shots by the end of the afternoon (this may be somewhat optimistic).

Anyway, I can't wait to unveil it all soon when the pattern goes live.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Feather and Fan Variations

As it has been an incredibly eventful week back at work and we've been also organising a number of things for the family as well, it has been really important to take a minimalist, comfort approach to knitting. That is, draw on the restoring, meditative nature of plain, repetitive knitting to soothe the ruffled feathers and relax in front of something mindless and fun. It also means taking the time to dwell on colour changes and the feel of the yarn.

For this purpose, I've been working on two Skinny Feather and Fan scarves (pattern found here) in Wisdom Yarns Poems Silk (75% wool, 25% silk). One is what I'm calling "Underwater Love" and I've just unpinned the two blocked halves. The colours remind me of light shining through the water where you sometimes get dark patches of seaweed or rock and the light patches are where you see clearly down to the sand..

The second colour theme (still in Poems Silk) is what I am calling Bougainvillea as its beautiful shades really resemble those in our garden.

These scarves will most likely become part of a store stocking down the track but at the moment, I'm just enjoying the journey!

Monday, 7 January 2013

A Year in Review

Before I start this post....drum roll please...the winner of the Website Refresh Competition was Comment number 1 - Mikhaila, who will shortly be receiving the very cute Owl Earflap Hat.

It is the time of year when it is worth taking a look back at the year that was before you decide where to go from here. One on the main reasons I like to do this is because I often get pleasantly surprised at what I managed to accomplish even though periods seem rather hectic and chaotic.

This is marks the first year of A Passionate Yarn (it officially started trading on 2nd January) and that in itself was a huge milestone for me. Over the past year, I have  had the privilege of meeting many wonderful knitty people through various workshops, chance encounters and of course Ravelry. It has been a journey of discovery for myself, my husband and his website building skills and my knitting experiences.

Over the year:
  • My lovely husband and I designed and put together our website with the help of AnnaBirgitte and her camera(Photography by AnnaBirgitte). We also refreshed it over December.
  • In scrolling back over the finished objects for the year, I was so surprised to see that it came to about 54. That's more than one a week - I'm pretty gobsmacked by that! There were a few Christmas decorations in there so take away four and that is still a substantial amount of knitting...and there was I thinking I had no time for knitting! 
  • I published eight patterns.
  • AnnaBirgitte and I attended the Balingup Small Farm Field Day together and had a wonderful time.
On top of that, I started a new part-time job and we weathered the worst year of small child-related illnesses yet which seemed to go through the whole family.

There were also plenty of wonderful times with my eldest going to Pre-Primary and my youngest really coming out of his shell and showing himself as a very funny, outgoing little boy who is quite ready to take on Kindy this year.

As for resolutions for this year, well I won't put targets for either designs or finished objects but I would definitely like to learn to do cables and secondly, I would like to do a few home improvement projects.

Speaking of projects, here are a few shots of a Skinny Feather and Fan Scarf (pattern available for free here) done in Wisdom Yarns Poems Silk (a 10ply 75% wool, 25% silk mix). This colour has grown on me and now I am absolutely mesmerised by it. I'm calling it "Underwater Love".

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Website Competition

To celebrate the refresh of my website, I am giving away to one lucky winner, one children's product of their choice.

To enter, it is very easy:

a) Go to the A Passionate Yarn website.

b) Click on the Knitwear Store (either to the right of the slideshow or on the top toolbar).

c) Click through either the products in the sidebar or on the main page (Children's clothes, Children's hats, Children's headbands, Booties). Choose the size you're interested and you'll see the range available. 

d) Here comes the fun bit - choose one of the products and leave a comment on this blog post to say which product (colour and size too please). For example, Newsboy Cap pink 1-2 years.

The winner will be chosen via random number generator on Monday night 7 January at 7.30pm WST!

Good luck everyone!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Sideways Babe Finished

 Well, it is almost very nearly finished...literally just a couple of ends to weave in and the buttons to sew on. However, as I've been so busy with the boys I just wanted to get a quick shot!

I absolutely loved knitting this cardigan (Sideways Baby by Allison Britt from SparrowPlay) and will likely knit it again in the future - probably in wool this time. It is an easygoing knit with interesting techniques and features that keep you interested - not to say addicted!

There is one note of caution and that is not the fault of the pattern but lies entirely with the knitter - when you know that you are seriously lacking in sleep, not quite had a coffee yet and you know your children will be in any moment clamouring for your attention - read the instructions very carefully and don't attempt any tricky manoeuvres. At 6.30am on New Year's Day, I ended up accidentally undoing the lovely three needle bind on the side and losing my stitches all over the place as my youngest wanted me to make him toast and wanted to strike up a conversation. It looks a little less neat to one side now but no great harm done thankfully.

The Bendigo Woollen Mills Spring Cotton has worked well and that is wonderful as I'm having a hard time finishing my last ball of it. It is extremely elastic and therefore it doesn't suit all projects.

Lastly, here are a couple of shots of how the boys and I spent our day at the Caversham Wildlife Park.