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Archive for June, 2008

Reservations

Well, I have hit a knitting lull.  Shock! Horror!

This isn’t because I don’t want to knit.  I just don’t know what I want to do next.  So many things to do, yet I generally have something in the wings just itching to get on my needles.  I have several WIPs, but none of those are inspiring me.

In the end, I decided to cast on the Noni Medallion Travel Bag.

Medallion Bag WIP

I bought this pattern while out with Miss SharonNZ a couple months ago when we were checking out the Knitworld Studio on the Grand opening day.  I bought the wool online from Webs, and went with Cascade 220 Heathers Brown and Cascade 220 in pink.  I got out the swift and wool winder, and Mr. KR1 helped me wind all 1200 grams.  Gulp.  That’s a pile of wool for a single project when you’re used to knitting items that are 150 grams or less!

So, I cast on.  After the fourth row, I was sick to death of untwisting my wool for the fair isle.  So between that, and the large wool commitment, I am having reservations about my choice of project.  I am an instant gratification kind of girl, and this is going to take. a. long. time.  So what to do?  Do something quick of course!  Another pair of gloves in the Evageline pattern, this time in a gorgeous blue/green colour of the Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, for my friend Jo in Hammy.  I hope she likes them!

Evangeline Gloves V2

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A Dabble in Entrelac

I love baskets.  My favourite baskets are Longaberger, but thankfully for both my pocket and my marriage, they aren’t available in New Zealand.  Baskets are the perfect household accessory in my opinion, as they are both beautiful and functional. So when I found Entrelac Knitting, I almost burst with excitement.  Knitting that looks like basketweave!!!  Oh my.

So I did lots of searching, and found an ENTRELAC BAG PATTERN.  Well knock me flat.  That is for ME!

I ran a bag swap on The Nappy Network and decided that this would be one of the bags I would send.  My recipient was Miss Kelly of Incidental Happiness and one of her requests was a project bag.  I found some Noro Kureyon that was grays, greens and blues (a tad of lavendar, sorry Kelly) and knit up the small version of the bag.

Kelly\'s Bag Front

Kelly\'s Bag Back

I love how the colour changes so nicely with the Kureyon. I am a dope though, as I forgot to line to bag!!!  Ugh.

So, I have one in progress for me too.  It’s Kureyon again, only this time I did the bag without the flap and added a few extra rows of the entrelac.  Of course, it was after i had done this, that I couldn’t find the third ball of wool!  So, here it sits, almost done. Just awaiting a handle. Oh, and a lining!

Entrelac bag front

Entrelac Bag Back

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Can Sunshine Come in a Bag?

I would say YES!! AbSOLutely. Especially a bag that warms your heart and makes you smile.

I did a secret swap with some friends, and one of my recipients was Maraea, who is eight years old.  I figured a bag was a perfect gift, as my girls love having something in which  to tote their treasures around. I found the perfect pattern, and then couldn’t decide on the wool.  I wanted something bright and cheerful. I happend to find some gorgeous variegated Mohair, Natually Mohair Plus, at Knitworld in the most gorgeous rainbow colours.  PERFECT!

Maraea\'s Bag

It is Fiber Trends Gelato Bag, pattern number AC-76.  I used Ashford Tekapo in cream with the Mohair, so that the wool didn’t distract from the vibrant colours of the Mohair.  It is knit on 8.0mm needles and then felted.  A very easy knit and less than a day’s knitting. I added a magnetic closure and covered the prongs with a butterfly button.

So, I liked the colours so much, I decided to make me one too.  Kiri and Kiana were both pleased with that decision because it meant they would get to take turns using it too.  So same wool, but I used a floral-like button instead. I used an overcast stitch to close the bottom of this bag, per the pattern, but it didn’t look great, so have felted it with the purl side out.  Not a complete success, but still, a bright addition to my bag obsession.

My rainbow bag

Well, good things come in three right?  I like to think so anyway, so don’t tell me different.  I have a great friend, Michaela, whose hubby is overseas at the moment.  Michaela is home with three boys and is pregnant.  Life can be rough sometimes, especially while you are the one holding it all together.  So, I thought I would send her a bit of sunshine too.

Michaela\'s bag

I found the bead and sequin applique at Spotlight, and it suited the bag perfectly.  And hopefully she knows she is loved and thought about daily.

I have a few more friends who have asked for this bag, so we might have to call ourselves the Sunshine Gang.

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Cold Hands, Warm Heart

Like my mother, I seem to have very cold hands. I have very vivid memories from my childhood of her getting me dressed in the morning, and the whole time, I would suck in my tummy in a futile attempt to avoid her frigid hands from touching my warm body. I don’t remember having such cold hands until the last few years, and not before I moved to New Zealand. Anyway, I am reminded of it daily, when my children run away from me when it’s time to get dressed, all in fear of the touch of my cold hands.

However, the saying is ‘Cold Hands, Warm Heart.’ Mom definitely had a warm heart. Maybe that is why we both love all things hearts. Silly maybe, but I like to think of it that way.

Cold hands aren’t good for knitting though. It’s hard to knit the night away when you are clumsily throwing wool. So yesterday, while in hospital with KM7, I knit up the left hand of the Evangeline Gloves, which is a free pattern download off of Ravelry. Half way there!

Evangeline Glove Left Hand

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A Wee Baby Gift

I have a dear friend, who I adore for her generosity, kindness and inspiration.  She is such a talented cookie.  She found out a couple weeks ago that the baby in her tummy is a wee girl, and will be blessed with her grandmother’s name.  I wanted to make something special for her, because Neak has been such a rock for me the past year.

I was having a read through one of my favourite blogs, Tiny Happy and found this gorgeous knitted crossover dressed, called Blossom.  So I went on the hunt for some lovely wool, and thanks to the Knitworld Sale, I found some gorgeous Cashmerino.  Unfortunately, it was sold as unlabeled, so I can’t tell you which scrummy brand it is, but it feel exactly like Sublime Cashmere Merino Silk.

Tiny Happy Blossom Dress for Nina

To soften the the colour for a new baby, I crocheted a picot edge in a pale pink Bamboo-cotton blend and added simple embroidered flowers and french knots in perle 5 cotton.   The crossover ties at the back with a satin ribbon, in pale pink again.

Nina\'s Tiny Happy Blossom Dress Back

I have also knitted up Saartje’s Booties in the same yarns.  I LOVE this pattern.  Simple and quick and just the most delicate little booties.

Booties for Nina

The pattern calls for 4ply yarn knit on 2.75mm needles, but since I had 8ply wool, I used 4.5 mm needles and modified the pattern slightly to a 27 stitch cast-on for a newborn size.  I think they will fit a newborn, and not for long, but SO amazing cute.  Since wee Nina will be sharing her grandmother’s name, I dug out my grandmother’s button collection and found the perfect pearl-like buttons.

There may be a hat to come, but still searching for perfect pattern.  Any suggestions are welcome.

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Obsessions

OK. So I have a few obsessions. Everyone has obsessions, right? Some people are neat freaks, others are avid readers, some are amazing gardeners. I however, am pretty lame. Two of my biggest obsessions are chocolate and coffee — I don’t think I would be sane without either. Somehow, I have managed to reduce my intake of both and keep my sanity though I suspect R might beg to differ.

My other obsession is crafting. Currently, due to lack of walkable space in the crap room, er craft room (that’s a post for another day — one where lots of coffee and chocolate are involved), my favourite occupation is knitting. I tend to have nervous hands anyway, and knitting gives my energy a fruitful outlet. I can knit while on the computer, or watching the telly. I can multi task while out having a cuppa with friends or at home chatting on the phone. It’s great for car trips, when I’m not the one driving, or when I am procrastinating putting my children to bed at the end of the day.

The list of knitted items is long, but I have to admit, it’s not very diverse. It’s like when you find the perfect shirt — you want want in every colour, right? Well I have two main knitting obsessions: Longies and Dishcloths.

***Inserts pause for gut wrenching laughter here***

Right, Longies. If you don’t know what longies are, I will assume you don’t have a small child in nappies. Well I’ll say that they are simply knitted wool pants. I was never a lover of wool as a fiber, because, well, being American, I had the mentality that if you can’t chuck it in the washing machine, followed by a tumble in the dryer, then why would you want to use it.

Wrong-o!

What an amazing and beautiful natural fiber! It is absorbent, yet doesn’t feel ‘wet.’ It breathes naturally. It is so amazingly warm. You can dye it yourself with natural dyes or drink mixes. Fab. Fibre. Fullstop.

So, longies. It’s all the boy wears. KR1 has worn them since I knit up the first pair when he was 8 months old using the Perfection Pants Pattern from Wooly Wonder, which I have morphed together with Pimp My Longies which is a free pattern, plus a dash of my own modifications in to boot.

I started small. A blue pair. Then a green pair. Then had to try a different wool and knit up a few more. I remember asking in a forum post if you could become obsessed with knitting longies. I can wholeheartedly say, WHY YES YOU CAN!

Pretty much every friend that has a baby these days, gets a pair of wool longies from me. i love trying out different wools, variegated and plain, to see the different patterns and colour blends that happen with each pair. One of my favourite wools for longies is The Wool Company Utiku 8ply/DK 100% wool. It’s available in solids and variegates, and knits up beautifully. I impatiently wait every April now for the release of the new colours.

My first two pairs of longies were in this wool. Blues was the first, followed by Seaweed.

Longies Blues

Longies Seaweed v1

Longies seaweed v1 back

So many of the boy colours last year were brown, oranges, beiges, so I tried out some Ashford Tekapo in the Forest colour. These were a fav for a long time because they went with so many different shirts.

Longies Forest

Then a friend of mine and I had a discussion about what each of us thought ‘pirate pants’ would look like. I thought of the black pirate flab with the skull and cross bones. So this is what I created.

Longies Skully 2

Longies Skully 1

I am not sure I will ever again knit something in black, only to add an image with duplicate stitch. What a mission! The pants are in The Wool Company Utiku Possum Merino 8ply. A soft wool, but lacking in strenth with the short fibres. As for the skull pattern, I did some modications to the chart so that the bones would be behind the skull. These are one of my favourite pairs ever!

Here are a few more knit for friends. The first pair was for a dear friend’s little girl. KR1 and A were the best buddies when we lived in New Plymouth. These were done in Twilley’s Freedom Spirit with Tekapo Berry accents. the cuffs are done in loop stitch and looked quite cute when A wore them.

Longies Allie

Longies Allie back

Here is another pair made from Twilley’s Freedom Spirit. These were for my friend from Ecobubs, for her daughter’s first birthday. Cuffs on these ones are crocheted, to give a nice easy frill.

Longies Poppy

I’ve since done a second pair for Poppy. I love the Charisma Lollipop from The Tin Shed, so did the Longies in that, wih Tekapo Berry for the skirt. The skirt edge and the leg cuffs are crocheted picot edge and finished off the skongies (skirt+longies) with just the right touch.

Longies Rainbow Skongies

I had another go with the Utiku Seaweed. A friend was into Camo prints for her impending arrival. This was the best I could do.

Longies Seaweed v2

For Kellan’s Winter Wardrobe, I had to do a whole new set. Gosh, babies don’t stay little for long do they! Anyway, it gave me a reason to knit MORE pants.

This is a new wool this season, Vintage Twist by Cleckheaton. I LOVE this wool. It’s hard to get the repeat to match up, but I love it so much more than the Tekapo Forest, especially because it comes out stripey. Yummo.

Longies Vintage Twist

Longies Vintage Twist closeup

Another colorway that I have been hoarding for the last year is Ashford Tekapo Summertime. Such bright and beautiful primary colours! I like to call this pair Cinco De Mayo Meets Mardi Gras. The pooling of the colours really didn’t sit well with me, but I am not one to frog my knitting. The best part of these longies is the i-cord.

Longies Summertime original front

Longies Summertime original back

The next ones were my first attempt at stripes. Change scared me. i visited a great blog with a good tutorial about tackling the jogless jog, and voila! STRIPES. Stripes are very me. This pair are done in Utiku 8 ply in Donkey and Aqua colourways. I’ve done a second pair as well as a gift for another friend as well. I just think these two colours together are quite complimentary.

Longies striped doney aqua

The wool for this pair is Touch Wool Merino. Very scrummy.

Longies touch wool

And finally, at least for now, a few more gifts.

Another pair of out The Wool Company Seaweed. The pooling on this pair is pretty cool in my opinion. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but at least they are unique.

Longies Seaweed v3

Noro is an amazing brand of yarns. One creative pallet of colours, hues and fibres. These longies are make from the Silk Garden range, and though the high silk content wouldn’t be good for the waterproofness of the pants, they sure do make a lovely pair of pants. Still some embroidery to do, but am debating what to do.

Longies Noro Silk Garden

These have to be one of the top three pairs I’ve made. They are a premmie size, made in Cascade 220 Quattro with Utiku Donkey embroidery. Quattro is one fine wool. Will get purchasing more of it for sure!

longies Premmie

I mentioned earlier that The Wool Company comes out with new colours every year. This year, one of the colours is Blueberry. It’s a variegated wool of denim, burgundy and reds. I’ve done two pairs in this wool. The first pair has short rows and the second does not. I usually do short rows in my longies as it gives a better fit, but with variegated wools, sometimes it nice just to see what the pooling will do.

Longies Blueberry v1

Longies Blueberry v2

Another new Utiku wool this season is the Russet. it’s very similar to the Ambers colourway from last season, but more muted. I was worried that the colours were too muddied. But that just goes to show that things often knit up quite differently than how they look in the hank or the ball.

Longies Russet

This pair is knitted in Treliske Bio-Natur. I love the natural tone of this wool. I did my first ever funky cuff by just winging what I was doing. These are for a little boy named James and guess who he likes! Not a great pic, but oh heavens, a photographer I am NOT.

Longies Bob

Here is another pair knit in the Cascade 220 Quattro. The brown is, oh no, I can’t remember. Anyway, I love this pair. If I were insane keen, I would make a pair for me.

Longies Fade to brown

This pair is more Utiku in one of the Natural Colours. The cow is from The Best of Debbie Bliss Children’s Knits and was just the perfect size for these pants.

Longies Moo

I’m missing pictures of a few more pairs I’ve knit, but I saved this pair for last. It has such pretty girly colours, with lots of pink and jade tones. Just so so pretty that I couldn’t help but buy it. I should mention that it’s also Ashford Tekapo. I should also mention that it is this winter’s version of the Summertime colourway. I have to say I have my knickers in a wad over it, but I will save that for another post. In the mean time, here they are, for wee miss R.

Longies Summertime 2008

Phew. Finally done! You still awake?

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FINALLY!!!

I have quite a few friends who are amazing knitters. I love being inspired by others’ creativity, and even more so, when I know them personally. One of these friends is Gabes. In addition to being a fabulous WAHM, she knits like the wind. So many beautiful creations fly off her needles.

Recently, Gabes’ nephew was diagnosed with Leukemia, so she decided to knit him a hat to keep him warm during his chemo. It was while she was knitting the hat, that she had a brainwave. She worked up her pattern for the hat and now has it as a free pattern on her blog, with the request of making a donation to the Child Cancer Foundation (NZ)

Gabes asked for pattern testers, so I put up my hand. Waved impatiently while jumping up and down until she noticed me and sent me the pattern. I quickly got out my needles and cast on. I finished the knitting part of the hat that evening. The next part of the pattern had to do with pure needle hell picking up stitches.

Why I have a phobia of picking up stitches, I DON’T KNOW. Something about trying to do what I consider more of a crochet stitch, all while using a hook-less needle. Then I had a brainwave of my own. Are you sitting down? Drumroll………………………………………. CROCHET THE EDGING YOU IDIOT!!!!

So, 15 minutes, and about 3 months later, I have finally finished. What a great pattern tester I was. Not.

Anyway, here is the finished hat, Finally! It’s knit in Twilley’s Freedom Spirit, with Cleckheaton Color 4 me on the edging.

The finished Ear Flap Hat

This is what it would look like on a newborn babe, except the babe wouldn’t be sitting on the table, of course!!

The Ear Flap Hat Being Modeled

I made a few alterations from Gabes’ pattern, the first of which was to crochet the edge. Instead of starting at the earflap points, I started at the back seam, and crocheted 92 single stitches, ending with a slip stitch into the first single stitch. Easy peasy!

Second alteration was how I attached the tassels. I cut the three pieces of yarn as per the pattern, but looped it instead of threading it through the Ear Flap Points. I used a 4mm crochet hook, inserted it from wrong side to right side, hooked my three pieces of yarn and pulled the loop through to the back of the flap.

Attaching the Tassle

Then i looped the loose strands onto the hook and pulled them through the loop at the back side. This gives a nice finish to the tip of the ear flap.

Tassel

I plaited (braided) and voila!

One Ear Flap Hat!!

The finished hat!

Gabes, if you’ve gotten this far, I sure do hope you’ll still let me test for you next time.  Doh!

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