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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.

Fragrant green tea and fruit toast for an unhurried breakfast on the back step.

A thoughtful and generous package from the lovely Bells.  I recently won a contest to celebrate the anniversary of Bells’s wonderful blog, and was lucky enough to receive a perfect little project bag made by her own fair hands (I love the fabric combination), and a skein of the most swoon-worthy yarn from Knitabulous.  It is the 50/50 silk and wool blend 4 ply in Summer pudding, a lovely subtle rhubarby red.  What a glorious shawl this will make – maybe this one …  Thanks so much, Bells!

Shells collected from the seaside on the weekend by my boy.  I love how he marvelled over each one, no matter how imperfect, noticing the colours or sheen.

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.

It’s hard to write something new about a pattern I’ve made and posted about twice before, but making a lace shawl seems like such a notable achievement that I can’t help showing it off.  I am always surprised that such a large piece of knitted fabric (as the finished shawl is) in a fine gauge yarn seems to take less time than expected.  I think that it’s because it starts out small so the early rows fly by, and by the time it is a reasonable width, the lace pattern has been memorised (and has you hooked) and the long rows don’t seem such a chore.  Also, wetting and stretching out a crumpled diamond-shaped thing into a triangle twice it’s size helps too.

As before the pattern is the Shetland Triangle, knit in Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 4 ply in Brick.  I made this one larger than the others at 13 repeats.  I think I enjoyed knitting this version so much as I was so comfortable with the pattern, I loved the colour, and because it was for me!  I am really pleased with it.  Of course it’s too hot at the moment to wear it, but I imagine throwing it on in air-conditioned environs until it becomes indispensable in the far off cooler weather.

On a different but not unrelated note (I love listening to podcasts while knitting as well as while – more frequently – performing tedious repetitive household tasks), I have been really enjoying catching up on my classic literature and listening to Frankenstein!  So good (no, really) and includes a crash course on Romantic poetry!  Looking forward to Dickens next …

… 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).

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. 

A quickly made, soft, lacy triangle made on impulse.  A lovely blogging friend was getting married, and was having a stressful time generally, so I really wanted to send her a small gift in celebration and support.  I’m not the first to remark on how funny, or rather wonderful, it is to feel that you are friends with people you have never met, but who you feel you know as friends through their on-line presence.  I feel that I share so many interests with Josephine, and that I have a sense of her personality through her eloquent writing.  I love than I am often surprised at, always interested in and often have cause to think further on what she writes about on her blog.  She comes across as highly intelligent, imaginative, warm and approachable, with an open inquiring mind and a touch of magic about her.  And charmingly off-beat, which I love and admire.  And she loves handcrafts …

I quickly decided on a shawlette/triangular scarf pattern that I’d been interested in trying, 198 yards of Heaven.  The yarn is Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 10ply in Lake.  This was such a quick and enjoyable knit!  The 10ply yarn and interesting yet intuitive lace pattern meant it grew quickly.  I think I may be addicted to knitting lace shawls …  My only downfall was that I used a version of the pattern that I printed out some time ago, and the pattern has since been updated.  In the older version the border doesn’t match up as well with the body.

I loved the way this looked straight off the needles, with its rumply garter stitch border, but blocking was required to make it large enough to wear.  The pattern instructs to block aggressively …

The result was surprisingly light and lacy despite the heavier weight wool, and a nice size for wrapping around the neck under a coat.  The large-scale of the lace pattern gives it a modern look, but it has a vintage style to it too. 

Modern, yet respecting tradition.  Practical, yet romantic.  A bit like Josephine!

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.

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Grandma Twinkle Garland

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