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Some recent making for the school fete.  Pompom garlands inspired by Jorth’s.  I’ve become rather addicted to making pompoms, so great for using up small bits of yarn and op shop buys, and is there anything more cheerful than a woolly pompom?  They found their way on to hair elastics too.

Some more crocheted star garlands.  I have even taken to making the stars while driving to work, that is while I am stuck in traffic.  Makes a tedious commute more satisfying.

And hama bead necklaces.  I’ve been wearing one that my boy made me and got lots of good comments.  I also made a few scarves like the ones here.

I’ve always thought that when selling hand-made goods you never get paid for the time involved, so it’s not something I have dreams of doing full-time, but it was nice to have an excuse to make a few things to sell in this context.  And fetes are the place to pick up bargain hand-made goods.

Blogging has been a bit thin on the ground here, and knitting not much better, but there are a few small projects I haven’t shared here yet.

I couldn’t resist making the Kelp Scarf, designed by the lovely Michelle. (Ravelry link).   An organic, sculptural piece that can be looped around the neck a few or several times to form a longer necklace or snug cowl, this was a great quick and simple project.  The yarn is Lincraft Splendour, and I used the entire 50g ball with just a couple of inches to spare – most satisfying.  Such a soft and squishy yarn.  I’m not normally a fan of variegated yarns for myself, but the long, gradually changing colour sections and rich tones of this yarn, almost Noro-like, are appealing to me.

Quite some time ago I managed to complete two little tops for the twinnies.  The pattern is the Girl’s cap-sleeved spring shirt by Shelly Floyd. (Ravelry Link).  I had downloaded this pattern ages ago, as I loved the idea of this being knit continuously in the round in one piece – no seams!  I was worried I’d get sick of the rounds and rounds of stockingette, but this wasn’t the case, and the pieces grew quickly.

They are knit in Bendigo Woollen Mills Cotton 8plyin Honeydew and New Ochre.  I was worried that I wouldn’t like knitting with this yarn, as it is quite unyielding and string-like at first glance.  Not tactile and bouncy like wool.  However I was won over and understood why so many other knitters rave about this yarn.  It did produce a surprisingly soft fabric and wasn’t hard on the hands at all.  As this yarn isn’t very lofty, I didn’t like to go up a needle size at the body section as the pattern instructs, so increased 12 stitches at this point.

I’m happy that these cool little tops will get wear next summer too, as I was, as always, generous with the sizing.

Then there was a new little baby girl in London who required some handmade knitwear.  I actually started this before I knew it was for a girl, hence the gender-neutral orange.  The pattern is the Easy Baby Cardigan by Diane Soucy (Ravelry link), knit in Bendigo Woollen Mills Classic 8ply in Pumpkin.  Such a great little basic pattern, and again seamless apart from the top of the hood.  The hood seemed to take forever, but once I got to the raglan increases, things seemed to move along quickly.  Easily completed from a lovely BWM 200g ball, with enough left over for an improvised crochet dress for my orange-loving girl’s own baby, who returned sans attire from a visit to creche.

Christmas and new year’s activities seem so for away now.  As I’ve taken a fair chunk of time off work, we’re now in a summer holiday frame of mind.  Some things we’ve been up to:

  • Reading: bedtime stories.  Rex is old enough to enjoy chapter books, and we’ve worked through The Hobbit, Stig of the Dump and Harry Potter.  I’m now addicted to Harry Potter books and trying to track down the rest of the series second-hand.
  • Watching: movies!  I saw Tangled with Rex, and The Tourist with Mr. Foxy.  Enjoyed them both immensely.  I saw the 3D version of the former, and there was a most delightful moment in a scene where there were lots of lanterns floating in the sky.  Rex leapt to his feet and reached out to touch one that seemed to be at arms reach, and I noticed that all the other kids in the audience were doing the same!  Magic indeed!  And I was loving the good old-fashioned escapism of adventures in Paris and Venice with the impossibly elegant Angelina and hapless yet dashing Mr. Depp.
  • Listening: to Dickens, and I always seem to turn to the Amelie soundtrack lately.  Plaintive, wistful, charming and olde-world-French.
  • Eating: too much chocolate.  But at least the latest new family meal idea has proved to be a winner – pesto made with handfuls of parsley, baby spinach and walnuts with a small clove of garlic and a few glugs of olive oil.  So great to see the vegie avoiders getting a burst of leafy green goodness.
  • Sewing:  transforming trousers with torn knees into shorts, for both large and small.
  • Making: Kirsty’s crochet granny shrugs in small girl sizes.  A fun and not too taxing project for the holidays.
  • Despairing: at the cruelty of nature in sending devastating and seemingly worsening floods to our northern neighbours.  Even more bitter following so many years of drought.
  • Anticipating: a road trip to country Vic and urban NSW, our first holiday as a family of five!  We’re leaving tomorrow, and are still madly packing!

Happy new year!

Christmas decorating is quite low-key here this year.  Apart from the tree, a crocheted star garland here … and there.  (Such a fun and addictive pattern!)

And what was that on the mantle?  Well, when I saw these (from here) I couldn’t resist making a few.  Instead of making felt hats, I used egg cosies that I had on hand.  As the elf population increased encouraged by the enthusiasm of my offspring, more hats had to be made …

I first made several sets of these egg cosies as Easter  presents a few years ago after falling in love with some on the cover of a Donna Hay magazine (issue 14).  Here is the pattern I made up, in case you have any eggs, or elves, that need hatting:

Egg Hat Cosies

Materials: Small amounts of 8ply /dk weight yarn (I used Bendigo Woollen Mills Classic 8 ply in Almond for those above and  BWM Alpaca in Havana for the ones below.)

4mm double pointed or circular needles (for magic loop method); darning needle for finishing

gauge: 5 stiches to the inch

  • Cast on 32 stitches. Join taking care not to twist.  Work in stockingette stitch for approx.  2 inches (don’t unroll hem to measure).
  • *knit 6, knit 2tog* repeat to end of round (4 decreases)
  • next round, *k5, k2tog* repeat 3 times
  • next round, *k4, k2tog* repeat 3 times
  • continue in this manner until there are 4 stitches left (ie., previous row was *k 0, k2tog*)
  • work an i-cord for half an inch or so, break off yarn and thread though stitches a couple of times, tighten and darn in ends.

Variations:

  • for a more tapered hat, knit straight for 1 inch before starting decreases, then knit a plain row between decrease rows.  k2tog on last 4 stitches and fasten off without i-cord.
  • or, decrease two times per round instead of four (ie.* k 14, k2tog* repeat once, *k13, k2tog* … etc.)
  • start off with a k2 p2 rib for about half an inch on any variation.

There’s not normally much opportunity for creativity here, but some time off work has initiated renewed opportunity and enthusiam for making things.  Some preparations for Christmas ….

Creative Spaces abound here at Kootoyoo

wrapping collage

There has been an unprecedented frenzy of crafting of late that I can reveal now that my swapee has received her parcel.  As mentioned before, the theme of this most recent Bendigo Woollen Mills User Group swap was Op Shop Karma, everything in the package was to be sourced from an op shop with the exception of 100g of Bendigo yarn.

stormcloud2 collage

For the Bendigo yarn portion, I made the Stormcloud Shawlette in 5ply Classic in Raspberry.  I followed the directions for the larger version with a frilled edge, cast off with the EZ sewn bind-off, and discovered that the whole thing only took 80g of yarn.  Good in terms of yarn economy, but I couldn’t really send my swapee a scanty 20g yarn to make up the 100g …

knit 107a

… so I also made a Flourish bookmark.  What fun making some fine and fairly complex lace on a small scale!  It turned out a little on the large size, but could still be functional with larger hard cover books.

On the Op Shop front I had so many ideas that I may have gone a little overboard, but restrained myself to the following crafty diversions …

op shop collage

The top item on the left was a strange multi-stranded not-quite-scarf / not-quite-lap rug that I unravelled into a satisfyingly large ball.  As the yarn was a bit irregular and not soft, I figured a bag was the best option.  I improvised a rectangular base in double crochet, then did rows of filet crochet round and round until it was basket-sized.  I’m pretty happy with the size and (unplanned) placement of the colour change.

bag collage

The pile of wool jumpers were gleefully thrown into the washing machine and subjected to heavy duty hot washes, then tossed in the also hot tumble dryer!  (I don’t know why I enjoyed maltreating wool so much – I also loved viciously steam-pressing the bookmark too).  The angora blend jumpers felted a treat, but the pale grey lambswool and ice blue wool and cashmere hardly changed at all despite this treatment!!  They just looked slightly pilled!  (Perhaps this is what the cockroaches will be wearing when every other species on earth dies out.)  Disappointing, as I was rather keen on these colours, but proceeded with what I had to make …

scarf collage

Now this long scarf is not at all original.  I was inspired by one a friend had bought (possibly by this maker) and noted later that Kirsty makes similar (and better-crafted than mine) ones.  I was relieved that this worked out and was quick and easy to make, as I loved the idea if it.

The reluctant sewing machine got more of a workout.  Something I have been wanting to make for ages …

bunting collage

Some remnants, cut-up clothing and a Ken Done doona cover became two sets of cheerful bunting for the room of two little girls.  And there’s enough fabric left over for more for another two little girls!

knit 116a

I loved that this swap gave me the excuse to make some different kinds of things that I’ve been wanting to try out, and probably wouldn’t have made the time for otherwise.  And the fact that the materials were recycled makes it even more satisfying.

rain 001a

So much glorious rain over the last few days.  Spring rain has brought wintery chilliness, but there is so much new growth in the garden, including the sunflowers and tomatoes hopefully planted a couple of weeks ago. 

There’s only one thing for rainy weather – baking, and lots of it.

baking collage

Pizza dough and bread from The River Cottage Family Cookbook, and raspberry Store Cupboard Chocolate Cake from How to be a Domestic Goddess.  And there may have been some chocolate chip bikkies too…

And great weather for knitting, with a start made on Colonnade too.  And if you still don’t understand the appeal of shawls, look at this.  (Isn’t that second one just divine!)  Oh, I really want to try to make a light and lacy shawl!  This one isn’t light in weight, but was too good to leave in the op shop…

P1100326

And some more of those diamonds of rain drops … (not actually on roses, we think this may be some kind of poppy, but are waiting for the flowers to be sure).

rain 001b

spring 028a

Loobylu had the great idea of reviving the In/Out list in her post yesterday, and although I certainly don’t claim to be an arbiter of taste, here’s what’s hot and what’s not chez nous:

Hot Not
*Mango milk (with yoghurt) *Milo
*My new Olfa Rotary Cutter (whee!) *Patterns and pins and scissors and slipping and sliding
*Lightning McQueen (still) *Bob the Builder (poor Bob)
*Crunchy salads with red (purple!) cabbage and grated carrot *Not bothering to make a vegie meal component
*Planting sunflower seeds *Realising that maybe they should have  been planted in a different area
*Gorgeous new Francophile fabric from Retro Mummy that I couldn’t resist (and Corrie’s having a giveaway at the moment) *Indestructible pure lambs wool op shop jumpers that wont felt, despite hot heavy duty wash and hot tumble dry
*Standing up with the aid of furniture (if you are 10 months old, that is) *Jamming tiny fingers in drawers
*Wanting to knit the Colonnade scarf/shawl from the new Knitty *Being the last knitter on earth to catch on to shawl making
*Finding a cute crocheted shawl in the op shop *Not finding enough op shop things in natural fibres for a planned project
*Bendigo Woollen Mills Harmony (cotton/wool/lycra blend) is back!!!! *It’s a limited run, and my stash is too embarrassingly large to consider stocking up

 

spring 040a

Photos from a lovely jaunt to Prahran Market – ah! fresh produce (and sorry if this column thing is hard to read – I’m still struggling with formatting text here).

knit 072a

This is a scarf I made for the most recent Bendigo Woollen Mills Users Group swap, in lovely Bendigo Luxury in Ruby.  The pattern is Blowsey Ruffles, and it is freely available here.  Thanks Janine and The Inside Loop!  Although it looks a little complex, this was a really fun knit, the stitch pattern being logical and easy to follow.  It was fun to see the textures evolving with those wavy ridges and accompanying lacy holes.  And it was relatively quick in 10ply.  I think I will make it again.

And because my swappee had three little girls, I included some crochet hair clips I had made.  (Speaking of hair clips, have you seen Ysolda‘s owl?  Such a cute idea.)  I really enjoy putting together these swap packages, choosing the little extras and wrapping it all up in tissue and ribbon.  And yes, she liked it!

knit 073a

Now to get another couple of projects in before the next swap …

LouiseBrooks1[Louise Brooks in Pandora’s Box, 1929*]

I know it’s a cliche to say so, but the internet is such a wonderful opportunity to feel part of things, catching up with he makings and doings of like-minded souls via blogs, forums or networking sites.  I always used to think that it was sad that people had to turn to the virtual to communicate with other people, but I’ve now come to value what it can offer.  I still love to see and socialise with real people of course, but in times when everyone is so busy, working or looking after their families, it is a boon to be able to connect in convenient moments offered by the always available internet.  And also, only a couple of my friends are actually interested in knitting and craftiness, so there is the bonus of access to unlimited inspiration and stories about my particular obsessions interests.  So it’s really an adjunct to, rather than replacement of, your usual social life. 

Although I’ve been looking at a small number of favorite blogs for years, and have even joined a networking site (well it is all about knitting), I’ve never really participated in the dialogue.  Just quietly lurking, looking, absorbing, getting enthusiastic and inspired, then going off to my own life. 

I guess that started to change a bit when I started this blog.  I started to look forward to comments, which made me more likely to leave comments on others’ blogs.  I joined some groups on Ravelry and even submitted the odd post in forums. 

knit 065a

Then I got involved in swaps!  Suddenly I was participating and eagerly checking for new posts on the forum.  Hearing about other’s progress and looking forward to seeing what everyone made.  Of course the major thing about swaps is trying to work out what another person would like, then making them something as a surprise.  Knitting (or crocheting) a present for someone who actually appreciates the work going in to it.  This alone may be something not experienced in normal life.  Oh, and someone else makes something just for you, too!

I just completed my second swap with the Bendigo Woollen Mills users group, and was the lucky recipient of a very generous package from Jaffa7.  Part of the art of the swap is ‘stalking’ your swappee to discover their interests and preferences.  Kelly was astute enough to guess at my love of 1920’s styles to make me this cute cloche and scarf, and also included some balls of my favorite alpaca yarn and the very shampoo soap I’d linked to a reference to in a previous blog post.  It feels very special to have someone you don’t know go to the trouble of thinking about and researching what you might like.  Thanks so much for your thoughtfulness, Kelly, I love it all!

swap2 collage

And there is to be another swap to be signed up for by the end of the week.  I haven’t yet, but think I might have to…   The theme is Op-Shop Karma– apart from something made with 100g of Bendi yarn, all items must be sought from op-shops, with the idea being that you use the materials to make new things a la Betz White or Amanda Blake Soule.  Could be fun, or nerve-wracking …

[*any resemblance between Ms Brooks and the matronly figure pictured below is entirely wishful thinking on the part of the blogger.]

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Grandma Twinkle Garland

Grandma Bunting

standing ovation



pears green

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