Saturday, December 10, 2011

Everyone really is fond of owls...

I've given up on re-knitting my owls jumper for now; I'm just not in the mood for knitting a whole garment at the moment. However, the owls obsession continues, thanks in part to this video. I've also been spotting owls in new & unexpected places... like this strange fluffy creature in a children's clothing shop window...
 ... and this bizarre ornament spotted in my local woodies, with added sparkles.

Most impressive of all, the owls gathered by my Knitmas swap secret elf; Irish knitters on twitter recently took part in a christmas, or knitmas gift swap... (check out the fabulous wrapping paper, covered in owls!)
...and I was the lucky recipient of hand-made stitch markers, sweet treats, spinnable fibre, and a fabulous wee owl who's still waiting for a name.
Thanks so much to L for my lovely gift, and to S for organising the whole gift swap. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Haul (RDS Knitting & Stitching Show)

Last weekend, I suspect that almost every fibre crafter in the country was at the Knitting & Stitching show. I recently realised that I had barely knit any of the yarn I bought at the show last year so was determined to not go too mad. In fact I didn't buy any yarn for myself at all. I was impressed with the new pattern kits on sale at the This Is Knit like the Slushie Cowl but decided against purchasing just for now.  I focussed on picking up fat quarters & half metres of fabric for some simple sewing projects.

I think my favourite buy was this set of 4 owl buttons from Pippa Blue. I have no idea what I will do with them, but they were too cute to pass up.

I also hit the Oliver Twists stand and picked up some brightly coloured wool intended for a needle felting project...
And some silvery threads intended to become festive decorations.
I also picked up some tweed fabric from Magee Clothing - the woollen fabric feels really substantial & weighty to touch. I have no idea what this will become yet, but had to try it out.
Of course, once I got home I had great fun arranging my fabric bundles in complimentary colours... perfectly normal behaviour! I have already started to use some of it -more details later.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Finished Objects - baby stuff.

The last baby stuff for this year!!! I specify this year because there are already two babies due next year in my 'to-knit-for' list. I have been knitting most of these over the last few months but couldn't post until the gifts had been given.

 Pattern; Lil devil baby hat by Kitty Schmidt
Yarn; Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK
This is the second time I have knit this pattern. It seems highly appropriate for baby girls with rocker parents; cute and a little bit mischievous.

Pattern; Tomten by Elizabeth Zimmerman
Yarn; Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK
Needles; 4mm
Buttons from the Trim Wool Shop
I've added an applied icord edging in contrast colour & icord button loops. I really should have measured this before giving it over to the wee child. It's a bit roomy on the wee 15 month old in my life; she is currently wearing 9 − 12 months sized commercial clothes. She's also quite slim for a little toddler. It should keep her snug in the cold winter. Because of the garter stitch it will stretch to fit her as she grows.

 Pattern; Baby sweater on two needles by Elizabeth Zimmerman
Yarn; Cashmerino DK
Needles; 4mm
Buttons from Studio 54 in Blackrock
This will accompany the little pink baby devil hat, even though they are completely mismatched.

 Pattern; Devils Cap (purl free) by Irene Birk
Yarn; Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK in 2 colours
Needles; 3.5 mm
This is more of a formula than an exact pattern; a little bit of sums based on your tension & head size.
I made this in a 1 − 2 years size at a tension of 22 st per 10 cm. I thought this looked very big for my favourite little toddler but it's just a little roomy - perfect for some growing room. She still won't leave it on her head, but at least it can be tied on when the weather turns cold!

Pattern; Offset Wraplan by Sara Morris
Yarn; Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK
Needles; 3.5 mm
Buttons from Studio 54 in Blackrock - I love these buttons; they look like wee smarties
Hat; made-up

This was my second time to knit this wraplan pattern; this time I separated the 2 fronts & back sections to allow for equal numbers of stitches in the front & back of the garment. I still think the garment looks rather short compared to its with so will probably make this again, longer.

That's it; no more newborn baby knits this year. I think I've knit for 9 babies this year. I may have lost track slightly. And I have already decided that there will be no knitted gifts for C******** (I refuse to type that whole word before December 1st). For now, I knit, spin & sew whatever I feel like, with no deadlines!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Fairy Tree...

On a recent gorgeous autumn day we took a walk in Marlay Park & visited the Fairy Tree.

Hilarious. I wonder if there are ninja fairies;

The gifts & notes pinned to the tree are constantly changing; I really think it's time I added my own.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Special delivery...

The results of an excited auntie-to-be clicking away on the knitting needles;

Yarn; 8 balls of Debbie Bliss Rialto DK
Modifications; because I was using DK weight yarn instead of the recommended aran weight, I added in an extra 20 stitches when casting on to allow for one extra lace repeat. I continued to knit until I was almost out of yarn.
Finished measurements after a good blocking; 80 cm wide x 101 cm long.

Cardigan Pattern; Offset Wraplan by Sara Morris in 3-6 months size.
Yarn; Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK.
Buttons are from Studio 54 in Blackrock.
The flame hat is an ode to my brother (the daddy)'s past like of flame shirts & boots, and of course, a cardigan to match. The cardigan numbers baffled me a bit; the back of the cardigan was much wider than the two fronts combined. The shape of the finished garment seems proportionately very wide, compared to its length. I do like it though, and will knit again with some modifications.
Pattern; Classic Cardigan by Debbie Bliss in 3-6 month size
Yarn; Baby Cashmerino; I used just under one ball of the contrast colour, and about 1 1/2 balls of the main colour.
Buttons; from Studio 54 in Blackrock.
I found the construction of this cardigan ridiculous; you are advised to knit the back & 2 fronts separately before seaming together and joining with the sleeves for the raglan decreases. I have since started to knit another one, and have cast on the back & 2 fronts in one go, allowing for seaming stitches.

Pattern; Duffel Coat by Debbie Bliss, in 3-6 months size
Yarn; Debbie Bliss Rialto DK
Buttons; from Studio 54 in Blackrock.
Modifications; I did not add pockets (seriously, what infant needs a pocket?) and used a 3 needle bind off to join the hood instead of casting off & sewing up later.

Pattern; Beyond Puerperium by Kelly Brooker in 6 − 12 month size
Yarn; Rialto DK
Buttons from Studio 54
Modifications; I wanted a contrast colour button band & edging; when knitting the body I omitted the button band stitches, & then picked up & knit the button band in contrast colour later. The similarity to Australia's sports colours is simply coincidence!

Pattern; made up, inspired by Wurm by katushika
Yarn; leftovers of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK
I cast on 68 stitches in the round; knit 2 x 2 ribbing for 3 cm, & then alternated between purl & knit bands, changing colour as I changed the stitches. Decreases were terribly fudged. I will probably make more of these, but suspect I would sit down & do some proper sums first!

Pattern; made up
Yarn; Debbie Bliss Rialto DK
I seem to have a thing for horizontal stripes on babies. I suppose, they don't worry about whether or not their bums look big in stripes. 
After all of this, I has the baby knits fatigue. Just another hat to make & I'm done though. And then I can move on to some adult-sized things in hand-wash only yarns, huzzah!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

You must be mistaken - Cowl pattern

After all the recent baby knits I have been itching to knit something for an adult, in chunky weight yarn & with next to no sewing up. It's a chunky textured cowl knit in mistake ribbing, & is ever so cosy. It's simple enough for even conservative wearers, though you could liven it up for more daring types with a contrasting colour in the i-cord bind off & with decorative buttons

The cowl is first knit in the round, & then knit back & forth to make a slit to one side. It's intended to be worn folded down at the top, but of course, you can wear it without the fold & tucked into more layers on cold days. The finished cowl is approx. 23.5 cm high & 23 cm across.

Yarn; 108 g / 130 metres of chunky weight yarn 
I used Debbie Bliss Rialto Chunky (50 g / 60 m per ball, recommended tension of 15 st/ 10 cm)
The body of the cowl used 2 balls; the partial 3rd ball was for the optional i-cord edging.

Recommended Tension; 14 st/10 cm in stocking stitch.

Needles; 5.5 mm circular for the body, 5 mm circular for the i-cord edging. 
Spare DPN for picking up stitches.
(I'm a slightly loose knitter; you may need to use larger needles)

Cast on 74 stitches & join for knitting in the round, being careful not to twist. 
Mark the beginning of the round with a stitch marker.

Knit in mistake ribbing in the round
 Round 1; knit all stitches
Round 2; *K1 P1* repeat for the round.
Continue knitting these 2 rounds until the piece measures about 15 cm, ending with a knit round. Increase one stitch at the end of this round.

Change to knitting flat
WS; * P1, K1* repeat until last stitch P1
RS knit all stitches
Continue knitting these two rows until you're almost out of yarn - approximately 8 cm (or until the desired length).
If you do not want to add i-cord edging bind off now.

i-cord edging
WS facing, and using the smaller needle; (knit, YO knit) into the first stitch. Slip these 3 stitches back to the left needle tip without twisting.
*K2, K2tog, slip stitches from right needle to left needle tip* along the remaining live stitches.
Pick up 16 stitches along the first edge of the side slit; continue knitting the applied i-cord onto these stitches. Pick up another 16 stitches on the second slit edge, & continue with the applied i-cord until just 3 stitches remain. K2tog, k1; slip last 2 stitches onto left needle tip; K2tog.

Weave in ends, & add decorative buttons, if desired.

I may have spoiled myself by knitting this; the yarn is ever so squooshey & cosy & lovely to handle. Watch this space for more cowls....

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Baby Boom continues...

I've been churning out the baby knits. 
First, a hat & cardigan set for a little boy due in November;

Cardigan Pattern; Sweet Bunting by Laura Chau
Yarn; Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK
Hat Pattern; made-up.
Buttons; from Studio 54 in Blackrock
For the cardigan I (obviously) ignored the wee colour pattern. I just wanted a relatively seamless cardigan for an infant. 

I knit a wee hat to match with some of the leftover yarn. It's made from a mixture of previous patterns. I'm usually one for knitting in the round where possible, & avoiding seams. However, I don't like the appearance of coloured stripes when knit in the round.

Yarn; DK weight
needles 4 mm ( I used 3.5 mm for my loose tension)
Tension; 22 st / 10cm
Cast on 74 stitches (2 stitches for seaming); knit flat; knit 2 x 2 rib for 2 - 3 centimetres.
Then knit in striping stocking stitch for 10 centimetres.
Decreases; Row 1 (RS)Knit 1 *knit 7, k2tog* (across row) knit 1
Row 2 and all WS rows; purl
Row 3 Knit 1 *knit 6, k2tog* across row, knit 1
Continue in this way, keeping first and last stitches as seam stitches, until you decrease to 6 stitches. 
Bind off first & last stitches over the next round; knit last 4 stitches in icord until long enough to tie a wee knot.
Sew seam using mattress / ladder stitch.
I may or may not have had to fudge those last couple of decrease rounds. I intend to knit a few more of these, to use up partial balls of DK weight yarn.

This baby boy already has a 3 year old sister who loves hats & the colour purple, so I decided she deserved a gift too.
Pattern; Capucine by Adela Illichmanova (Ravelry Link)
Yarn; Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran
Needle; 4.5 mm circulars.
Buttons; from stash. Heart buttons from A Rubanesque, Crayola button from a previous Knitting & Stitching show

Some of the pattern directions were a little.. vague. Tension, for example. Anyway, this makes a very cute wee hat. I'm a slightly loose knitter, so most others may need to knit using 5 mm needles to get a similar size. I only moved on to the second ball of yarn for the last couple of decrease rows & the tassles. I used sewing thread for the buttons to ensure they were secure. 

Then I decided the other half's niece (now 15 months old) deserved a knit too; using aran-weight leftovers. 
PatternScrap-Happy Celebration Hat by Cosette Cornelius-Bates

 Yarn; leftovers of Debbie Bliss Aran weight yarns
Needles; 4mm

When knit according to the pattern (CO 96 stitches) this was big enough to fit over my abnormally large head; I started with 80 stitches, changed colour when the colour ran out & then fudged the decreases. I also should have added under-the chin ties because 15 month olds are not known for leaving hats on their heads. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Baby Boom; finished knits

I've recently finished & given some knitted gifts for the bumps-in-progress, so I can now show freely show off my knitting without spoiling surprises!

Bitty Cabled Cardigan by Heather Cabanas 
Yarn; Louisa Harding Kashmir DK

This is a dotey wee cardigan & it knit up in a flash. I knit the largest size (intended for a newborn) & it seems tiny. I would normally knit at least 3 − 6 months for babies, but the mother-to-be really liked this one.
It'll hopefully fit the child long enough for a photo!
Rib-Knit baby hat by Jennifer Sauselein 
Yarn; Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran

A very simple pattern; knit a tube of ribbing & then bind it closed at the top & adorn with button/toggle/beads of your choice. It's very stretchy so I think it will last the wee ones for a while as they grow. I used just under a ball for each hat so it's be a great way of using up those odd balls of aran weight yarn.

 Daisy by Stephanie Pearl McPhee
Yarn; (grey cardigan on left) Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran
(blue cardigan below) Debbie Bliss Rialto DK

I've now knit this pattern 4 times; enough!! For these two cardigans, I sewed the sleeves & body together before knitting on the collar. My recently learned mattress stitch skills meant the original knit-on collar would not sit right. 

The baby knitting continues, & the bumps continue to grow.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Frankenshawl

For the last number of weeks I have been struggling with The Frankenshawl. My mother celebrates a big round birthday this coming Sunday & I wanted to knit something special for the occasion. But no one pattern seemed to suit. So I decided to mix & match charts from a view different patterns.

Yarn; The Natural Dye Studio Dazzling Sock in Bluebell
Needles; 3.5 mm circular

  • I began with the set-up instructions from Laminaria, & then knit the Star chart from the same pattern, until I had increased to 196 stitches.
  • After much sketching & doodling & charting, I realised that the 3-into-3 stitch in the Laminaria shawl is the same stitch called a gathered stitch in the Miralda Shawl lower border. Starting with a WS row, I knit a modified version of the Miralda lower border chart.
  • Next I knit the Laminaria star chart again, increasing until I had 365 stitches, & then repeated the Miralda border, but with fewer garter ridges.
  • At this point I knit the Blueberry chart from Fylleryd, & then finished with the edge chart. 

I'm quite happy with the results, in spite of the troubles with excess dye in the yarn.
I adore the curves created by the nupps & yarn-overs in the Fylleryd charts & am determined to use these stitch patterns again.

I just hope The Mammy likes it!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Indigo woes

One of my most involved recent projects has been a gift knit with 2 skeins of Dazzling 4 ply yarn from The Natural Dye Studio.

Throughout the whole knit I have been frustrated by excess dye rubbing off onto my fingers; I don't mind getting covered in dye but was concerned with the prospect of giving a flawed gift.

 I tried a few experiments with sample sized pieces of the yarn, based on my previous dye-speriments, & on advise from the Natural Dye Studio.

1 Simmering in vinegar solution for 40 minutes; blue yarn was turned grey, & excess dye still marking hands
2 Soaking overnight in vinegar solution (a glug of vinegar in small basin of water); yarn was slightly faded & still marking hands
3 Washing with dish-washing liquid; in this case Ecover; yarn was very faded but did not mark hands anymore
4 Untreated, for control purposes.

After trying these experiments I was livid; with only a week before the gift-giving occasion I had to make this work. I was gutted that the only method of stopping the yarn from marking the wearer would significantly effect the colour. I was not going to end up with the same colour yarn I had purchased. But I had to give a wearable knitted item, so I washed the finished object as directed;
Soak in hand-hot water (if you cannot keep your hand in the water, it's too hot)
Remove & liberally apply detergent (ecover in this case)
Rinse until water runs clear. 

I ended up rinsing out the suds in the bottom of our shower tray - I may have applied the detergent a little too liberally. I was frankly shocked by just how much dye came off in the initial wash - the water was dark navy blue.

 Thankfully the finished knit did not fade quite as much as the first test. I think I managed to rinse out all the excess dye, but will give a disclaimer tag with this gift; give it back to me to fix if it runs more!
Based on discussions on Ravelry, it seems that this is a common problem with natural dye substances, 
in particular the indigo used for blues (and in greens & purples too). The explanation given for this is;
Indigo coats the outside of the fibres rather than soaks in. We double wash all our yarns, however as they are dyed in big hanks sometimes the yarn in the middle of the hank doesn’t get as much washing as the outside.

I am disappointed that the yarn is not the same colour as when purchased, but am relieved that I have a gift-able finished object to show for it all! I will certainly be cautious in future before buying any naturally dyed fibres or yarns, but I suppose now that I know what to expect I won't find it so stressful.