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Went to places full of history and folklore

stayed in the city and by the sea

found cushions to match our outfits

and travelled home through places of nostalgia and remembrance.

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My little ones are two today.

Their second year has seen faltering first steps lead to running, stamping, dancing legs

downy heads become mussy golden halos

and garbles and giggles become words.

How wonderful to have someone to travel through life with

and how lucky am I to come along too.

Happy birthday, my beauties.

… and glorious today too, but I’m afraid there is some wintry knitting to catch up on.  Completed for the last wintry days (and I’m not convinced that we wont have a few more chilly ones yet) was quick-toddler-woollie number two.  Again my plan was to use some 12 ply wool from stash, so I did a Ravelry search for something that fitted the bill.  I came up with Waffles for Brunch, a handsome little pattern with lots of nice details and little finishing.

I again used Bendigo Woollen Mills Classic 12 ply, this time in Tuscan.  This isn’t a difficult pattern, but that didn’t stop me from failing to correctly follow the pattern. I forgot to continue the garter stripes in the upper fronts, but left it like that as I figured that a plain yoke balancing the garter placket worked ok design-wise. 

(Accessories model’s own)  I’m really pleased with how it turned out.  It has enough room to grow to do for next winter, and the ribbed pattern makes a very stretchy fabric that fits quite well now.  And the girls actually like wearing their new handknits!

And to finish up with the update of unseasonal knits, I also made myself a quick cowl in some lovely dark greyish handspun from The Handweavers and Spinners Guild of Victoria.  Pattern is Destroyed Cowl, an easy expanse of mindless stockingette stitch, with dropped stitches in the final row and kitchener stitch to make it into a seamless loop.  I have been finding this a useful piece, but tend to think that the pattern would be better with a thicker and loftier yarn (as intended).

None of us are much for smiling in photos, but at least we now have a recent group photo in which all children look reasonably cute and not too scruffy.  (Thanks to professional photos by Vision Portraits, organised as a fundraiser by our kindergarten).

(Thanks for the kind wishes for Camille –  after a follow-up trip to the hospital, the dressing is off, and her finger is healing nicely.)

It’s now spring of course, but still chilly here, so this recently completed knit is getting lots of use – in fact more than I bargained on, but more of that later…

Last month when winter seemed unrelenting, the girls decided to grow out of all their winter knits.  I tried to knock out a couple of quick woollies that would warm them for the rest of this winter, yet still hopefully fit next year.  For the first of these knits, quick meant 12 ply wool and an easy nearly-seamless pattern that I was familiar with.  So I turned to my well-thumbed copy of The Knitter’s Almanac for the “baby sweater on two needles” (more popularly known as the February Baby Sweater).  Knit in trusty 12 ply Bendigo Woollen Mills Classic in Cherry from the stash, the baby garment was successfully up-sized to toddler size.  The lace pattern is quite open, but the weight of the wool still provides warmth.  I made no modifications, though I did consider tapering the sleeves, but decided that bell sleeves would be pretty.

As mentioned in the last post, I was finding it difficult to get out to purchase matching buttons, so raided the sewing box and found a vintage covered buttons kit.  I also remembered a cute fat quarter that I had received as a gift from Retro Mummy, and the print was the perfect size to create little critter buttons.  Once complete, the cardigan was quickly claimed by Mlle. C.

… Just a week ago we had an unfortunate incident involving a slamming door, little fingers and more hours than I’d care to remember at the Royal Childrens’ Hospital.  And my darling, brave Camille at least has a warm cardigan that fits over her cast.

  • frolicking in the winter sunshine after a long drive.  (Large fallen citrus fruits double as balls)
  • making flourless orange cake from home-grown oranges (I used Jill Dupleix’s version of Claudia Roden’s recipe from New Food)
  • slow cooked dinners (Tessa Kiros’s beef and carrot stew and bolognaise-esque ragu) and hot puddings (apple crumble and lemon delicious)
  • a boy who wants to help with baking (or does he just want to lick out the bowl?)
  • knitting in red and red and grey.  The aim was to make a quick woollie for growing girls, but I ran out of wool.  While waiting for more, I accidentally cast on another Shetland triangle shawl … and a cowl
  • finally finishing the cardigan, a supersized version of Elizabeth Zimmerman’s February Baby Jacket.  Not finding it easy to go out and buy buttons so considering covering some that I found in the sewing box.  Hedgehog-printed cotton on red wool – what do you think..?

  • enjoying listening to podcasts while rinsing dishes and stacking the dishwasher, and – if I’m lucky – while knitting.  Currently engaging are classic novels and chat via CraftLit, Cast On back catalogue and Fibre Beat.
  • for the under-two’s, talking is the new walking.  Long time favorites are “bird”, “shoes” and “(ba)nana”, but vocabularies are quickly expanding.
  • seeing Toy Story 3 at the cinema.  I probably don’t get out enough, but this was the best film I’ve seen in ages!  Funny and heartbreaking.  (Anyone else in tears at the end?)
  • noticing that spring is in the air, the wattle is in flower and blossom is starting to appear in the neighbourhood.

I first discovered the knitting patterns and philosophies of Elizabeth Zimmerman when I was pregnant with my first child.  I had purchased The Knitter’s Almanac and was won over by her entertaining writing style and the cosy world of knitting in an old schoolhouse in the woods, as well as a demystifying approach to the knitting process.  The baby sweater on two needles, or February Baby Sweater, became my standard baby knit.  I later discovered the Baby Surprise Jacket, but by this time Rex was too old for one.  When I was expecting the twins, one of my first thoughts was that now I could knit the BSJ!  Two of them …

This pattern is such an iconic one amongst knitters, and it is universally marvelled at how EZ came up with it.  Kind of like knitting origami, a single piece folds into a sweet little cardigan.  Due to the changing direction of the knitting due to the placement of decreases and increases, this pattern works particularly well with stripes, or irregularly dyed or variegated yarns.

I liked the idea of knitting a special garment for the girls, I had made a special soft hooded jacket for Rex of the softest angora/wool blend that I purchased in New Zealand when I was pregnant.  Similarly I bought four skeins of hand-spun, hand-dyed wool from the local Handweavers and Spinners Guild with BSJs in mind.

Despite pregnancy-induced reduced brain capacity, and with the aid of row by row notes on a scrappy piece of paper, I fairly easily achieved the desired piece of fabric.  I enjoyed the adventure of following directions and trusting in EZ, as I had no idea what I was doing, so untraditional was the construction of this garment.  If I had known better (or done my homework) I wouldn’t have used my most variegated skein first, as this part of the knitting turned out to be the back, and the stripes would have looked particularly effective on the mitred fronts.

The above unfinished piece sat around for over a year, amusing me it its cleverness, as I knew it would not fit the girls during their first winter.  More recent cold spells provided the impetus to sew those two seams and get it finished.  My only modification was to pick up and knit 1 1/2 inch garter stitch cuffs to lengthen the sleeves.

The finished garment is so sweet and cosy.  Next time I’ll be sure to cast off much more loosely, but I think it will do the job of warming one of my little ones this winter. 

I made another one, just like the other one (and like Sue’s!)

Again, the pattern is the Whirligig Shrug by Stefanie Japel, knit in Bendigo Woollen Mills Harmony in Mimosa.  This time I knit the one year old size, and due to my generous gauge it fits Mlle. Camille with room to grow.  The designer comments that this type of garment is difficult for a toddler to take off by themselves, which is a plus I think!  Such an economic knit, as it takes only about 100g of yarn, yet looks a bit special.  Another must be made for her sister, of course.

Most of my Easter list was checked off (though I didn’t have time to look for Easter daisies  in my last-minute dash to the supermarket on Good Friday, but I did find fruitless hot cross buns of dubious quality).  I was pleasantly surprised how enthusiastic Rex was about embracing all things easter-y.  He loved participating in decorating the table with flowers from the garden and arranging and re-arranging the family of bunnies.  He loved the idea of decorating the eggs, but wasn’t too keen on getting his hands messy with the paper mache paste.  He even showed interest in and slight comprehension of the Easter story.  And he was of course so excited to take part in an easter egg hunt on Sunday morning, and generous in sharing the experience with his sisters.  (I did find snap-shut plastic egg-shaped containers at the supermarket that did allow me to do the nocturnal egg hiding after all.  Sleep is a luxury around here at the best of times.)

All preceded by wholesome frolicking in grandpa’s garden, where it was nice to see that lemon-picking was almost as exciting as chocolate.

A quick catch-up post incorporating baby photos and knitting …  Before the move, in the last days of summer, we went to a lovely third birthday party in the park for Miss Tessa.  Despite also having a new, just weeks old baby, Tessa’s mother had prepared a gorgeous array of bunny-themed cakes and decor.  It was a perfect sunny day for cup-cake eating, pinata scrambling and playground exploring. 

For baby Emma I had made a Whirligig Shrug, forgoing my usual standard gift of a February Baby Sweater for a quicker project.  Such a cute little shrug with lovely details, I cast on another, larger one for one of my girls immediately on finishing this one.  The yarn is Bendigo Woollen Mills Harmony in Mimosa.  This will be a great little coverup now the weather is getting a bit colder.

I’m really looking forward to Autumn.

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