Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Christmas with a baby

Llama is waaaayy to young to have any idea about Christmas. And I'm liking it.

We've decided not to go overboard (and not just because we're down to one income at the moment). This year, he will receive a hardcover book that he can look at later, and read the (yet to be determined) message we have for him.

However, having a child means that Joe & I need to think a bit harder about what we do as a family at Christmas.

I've been doing some thinking about Santa over the last few weeks (check out my SIL's thoughts here). When I had figured out the truth about Santa, and let it slip to my parents (we all lived in denial for a few years), they said that my brother and I could have one lot of presents a year, either presents from them, or presents from Santa. We weren't silly, Santa gave us heaps more presents, so we opted for him as the gift giver.

When I became Christian I was struck by how different Jesus is from Santa.

The premise behind Santa is, if you behave yourself (all year), you will get presents ... a reward for being good. Regardless of how naughty I may have been during the year, I still managed to get presents. Santa was a bit of a soft touch.

The Bible tells us the truth. We aren't 'good' all year. We can't even go a day without indicating to God that we don't need him (either actively or passively). And God is no soft touch. When we reject him, it matters.

But God is so much more merciful than Santa.

Even though we do reject Him, he sent His Son (Jesus), as our extra special Christmas present. Jesus was good ALL YEAR, EVERY YEAR, and if we ask God for forgiveness, we can claim Jesus' goodness as our own.

So Joe and I have decided that for our family, Christmas is going to be about Jesus, not Santa. We celebrate what God has done through Jesus everyday. And once a year we get a holiday to help us stop and think that extra bit more. We pray that you will too.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Kanoko

I have now finished 2 pairs of Kanoko Pants.



Pair number 1 is now 'llama wear'. He received many compliments (from knitters and non-knitters) when he showed them off around town this week.

I will knit him another pair (at some point) in a larger size. Current pair only fit comfortably in disposable nappies (he's often in cloth), and at his current growth rate, won't fit him in the new year.




Specs:

Yarn: Moda Vera Supremo (100% cotton). On special at Spotlight last year for some ridiculously small amount. It's a frustrating yarn to work with. Quite nubbly, and a bit raw, so even moss stitches are not easy.
Needles: 4.0 mm knitpicks options
Pattern: Kanoko Pants
Mods: Shortened the legs.



Pair number 2 is in my 'stash of knitted items for babies due next year'.



For this pair, I removed the things that frustrated me when knitting the first pair.


Specs:
Same pattern & needles.
Yarn: Bendigo 8 ply cotton (much, much nicer to knit with, so smooth and soft)
Mods: Used a provisional cast on, and knitted in the stitches to form the casing at the end of the rib. Joined to work in the round for first 10 rows, so the waistband didn't separate. Chained the drawstring first, then inserted it into the casing as I knitted the casing together. Added two extra stitches to the cast on (so that rib edges would match), then knitted 2 together when I rejoined to work in the round at the end of the rib. Then with an uneven number of stitches the moss stitch would look nicer at the join. Lengthened the rise (waist to crotch) by 2-3 rows, and shortened the legs.


All up, I'm happy with the changes. And will use them when I make Llama's next pair.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Water, wool and wires

Before Christmas, I must block this ...


The aim is to use these...


I picked up on a suggestion made by knitabulous. The guitar strings cost $2.80 a pop. I bought four, and added another pack of flower headed pins to by blocking supplies (less than $15 all up!).

For a test run, I blocked a scarf that had been sitting in the laundry basket since we returned from Japan (in March).


It worked! And would work even better if I was a bit more patient (as I will be when I next have a go).

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Cast-On itis

My fingers are itching.

There are soooo many yummy patterns I want to knit.

But I've already got four projects on the needles (and one waiting to be blocked).
  1. The Man Jumper: Having fixed the shoulder cap, I'm having my third attempt at the sleeve (knitting the pattern as written, just for a change). Maybe the high likelihood of running out of yarn is influencing my reluctance to keep going?
  2. Fairy Floss: My current lace fix. An Estonian lace stole, knitted in wool I picked up in Japan. 13 pattern repeats down, 28 to go.
  3. Kanoko Pants: Stash busting with purpose! With Llama's frequent 'posseting', separates are the way to go at the moment.
  4. Woollen Soaker (pdf link): The plan for llama-wear this summer is singlet tops with funky knitted nappy covers (they look good, and keep the moisture in!)

So what's tempting me at the moment?

Campfire Socks

Christmas Tree Ornaments

Beer Cosies

Cabled Baby Vest

Garter stitch Baby Jacket

A crown

Maybe I've been spending too much time online, and not enough time on the lounge (with my knitting).

Monday, 1 December 2008

Little Legs

Since we've brought our little llama back from the hospital the weather has been oh so changeable. I commented as such to my mum, and her (ever practical) reply was ... "Well that's Spring weather isn't it."

Trying to figure out what clothes I will wear for the day is often a challenge. Especially given the likelihood that I will need to change out of clothes that have been contaminated with some form of bodily fluid throughout the day.

Trying the choose clothes for the little one can be even more of a challenge*, and the chance of them becoming quickly soiled is even higher. A lot of his jumpsuits have long sleeves, but no legs. Great for nappy inspections, but that won't stop his legs going purple when the mercury drops.

The solution .... Leg warmers!
Knitted (of course)

And here is the pattern:

Little Legs

Needles: 3.25 mm dpns (or circs if they take your fancy)
Yarn: Shepherd 4 ply
Gauge: 12 sts (of K1tbl, P1 rib) to 1" worked in the round.

To fit legs with below knee circumference of 14 cm (a snug fit). Adjust the number of stitches as necessary for your gauge or required dimensions.

Rib Cast On: Basically cable cast on, but stitches drawn up knitwise then purlwise. Use a slip knot to create first stitch. Insert needle into stitch knitwise, draw through a loop and place on left needle (keeping initial stitch).* Insert needle purlwise (from the back)between the last two stitches, draw through a loop and place on left needle. Insert needle knitwise (from the front) between the last two stitches, draw through a loop and place on left needle. Repeat from * till you have the desired number of stitches.

Cast on 36 sts using rib cast on, and distribute over dpns. Mark beginning of the round.

Round 1: [K1tbl, P1] Repeat for round.

Repeat round one until leg warmers are 9cm long (or desired length).

Heel:
BO 18 sts in rib, [K1tbl, P1] across remaining sts. Turn (you may want to place all the stitches onto one needle).
[K1, P1tbl] repeat to end. Turn.
[K1tbl, P1] repeat to last stitch.
Turn work to cast on 18 sts using rib cast on (starting with a stitch created knitwise), and redistribute stitches over needles to work in the round. Hint: I find having the first two stitches of the round on the last needle makes joining easier.

Stirrup:
Work 3 more rounds of Round 1
BO all stitches in rib.

Weave in ends.

Work second leg warmer to match


*Except when the bulk are in the wash, and the choice is seriously restricted.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Pretty as a Peacock (well nearly)

That is, it's kind of finished. Here is the completed shawl having a bit of a block on the bed.



Only a bit of a block, mind you. I'm considering this a practice block. Not enough pins to sort out the cast-off edge, and scallopy side edges.




Currently my blocking equipment is limited to:
1 pkt flower headed pins
1 pilates mat
1 set of interlocking foam squares (that are getting more use as baby kick mats)
Beach towels
A bucket, and
Our bed (if the project won't take long to dry).


If I drop enough hints, maybe some blocking wires will come my way this Christmas, and I can stop worrying about the scalloped edges.

So until I have figured out how to give the shawl a firmer tug in all the right directions, it will have to stay partly blocked.

Pattern: Pretty as a Peacock

Needles: 3.5mm Knitpicks

Yarn: Not too sure - From Ailsa's stash, held double.

The colour is more accurate in the last two photos.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Steep Learning Curve

Life's been busy with a new baby to care for.* Just when I think I know what to expect, he does something different.

Amidst the never ending loads of washing, nappy changes and time spent watching him sleep (very easy to loose track of time that way), I have been able to carry on with some knitting ... Joe's jumper is progressing. One sleeve is around 2/3 done. I'm worried about the amount of yarn I have, so sleeves are being done before the rest of the body.

It's been ripped out once, to redo the shoulder/sleeve cap. And may need to be ripped again to change the shaping along the under arm. I've decided that this is not a project where I will carry on knitting in denial ... if it looks like it's wrong, or not going to work, then I'm going to fix it instead of carrying on (with my head in the sand), hoping that it will sort itself out.


And now for a photo of the singlet that I knitted. The armholes are way too big. But I reckon he looks pretty retro.




I've also managed to make a pair of Fleeglised Saartje's Booties for my cousin's baby due in early December. How exciting that I now have a model for baby knits.



*It hit home in the early hours of one morning, that we can't give him back or hand him over when we get sick of being parents ... we're the ones responsible! Not rocket science, but it took a while to totally sink in (quite scary).

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Lesson Learnt

About a year ago, I finished knitting my husband a jumper (see here). It started as a labour of love, and finished with me swearing off Zhivago forever, and vowing never EVER to knit a men's jumper on 3.5mm needles.


As the memories of knitting that jumper are pushed quietly into the dim and dusty corners of my mind, I decided it was time to have another go at declaring my love ... in the sweaterly form.


The Big Thaw Pullover (Rav Link) is promising to be the antidote to Leo.


I'm knitting it in Cleckheaton Country 12 ply (on special at Tapestry Craft/Morris & Sons), on 6mm needles. It's progressing at speed. And because of the construction, I can try it on the recipient as it grows, to make sure that this time, the jumper fits! (I took a photo to demonstrate this, but the model indicated that the jumper looked funny, and insisted that it never be shown publicly).
So here's a photo of it all scrunched up, on our (very dirty) outside table.

Don't let the photo deceive you ... it's really a very black, black.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Llama Knitting

While working on the Pretty as a Peacock Shawl, I've been nutting out a few items ready for Llama's arrival (theoretically 'mindless knitting').


First, a prototype for a baby jacket.



I couldn't find a free pattern for a top down, raglan, bolero-style baby jacket. So I made up my own. I like the I-cord edging - nice finish without sacrificing the stretch.

Yarn: Patons Serenity (bamboo)

Needles: 4mm

Size: Based on the size of a 00 wondersuit. Fits my friend's 5 month old son.

Next version has been started on 3.5 needles for a firmer fabric, will have a slightly modified neckline & trim, and will be a little smaller.


Also, a bib.


Nothing too special ... nice and big (to cover clothes). Floppy fabric, so it can be used easily to wipe. The strap is too long, but I'll unpick and shorten it when I have a baby to measure it on.

Yarn: Adriafil Floris (sportweight cotton)

Needle: 4mm

Patterns for both of these will be coming as soon as I sort out the kinks (and decipher what I've written).

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Oooops!

Thursday night I was congratulating myself on saving around 7 hours of tinking and reknitting.
Here's the mistake I found (luckily in only 2 repeats of the pattern).




See how the 'v' of the feathers is skewed to the left. This is what happens when you think you know the pattern, and don't bother counting.

With no lifelines, and the knowledge that each row takes around 1/2 an hour to knit. I decided to be brave. Armed with a couple of dpns and a crochet hook, I slipped the offending section of stitches off each needle, and unravelled them down to where I'd gone wrong (being careful to keep each row's strip of yarn carefully organised).

Then using the dpns and the crochet hook, I reknitted the stitches, one row at a time. It wasn't too bad, and I think it turned out ok. There is one lot of YOs that are a bit looser than the others, but a good block should sort that out.

I felt soooooo clever. I was ready to shout my cleverness from the rooftops.

But then, last night, I was looking at the key for the pattern again, and realised I'd made an even bigger mistake ...


Can you see?


The double decreases change partway through the project. Uh oh. When I picked the project up after months of neglect, guess who didn't double check the symbols on the chart. The change happens around the beginning of the second lot of 'eyes' (that's a lot of knitting ago).

I'm not unpicking it!

The thought of unpicking all that knitting - and even worse, rewinding the yarn onto the cone and ball (I'm using two strands held together) - is just too horrible to contemplate. This mistake has now tranformed into a 'design feature' (even though I like it better as written).


To finish off, here is a photo of a 'perfect' avocado that formed part of my delicious lunch on Thursday. Yum.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Domesticity

As I said to my husband as he left for work yesterday ....

I am now a housewife.

So how was my first day as a lady of leisure???

I folded the washing & ironed work shirts (not mine ... they're sitting in a bag in the garage for the next 12 months).

I watched CSI from Sunday night & did some more work on the Pretty as a Peacock shawl (nearly finished chart G!)

I made curtains!


Here's the first one up. The second was heaps quicker ... until I realised that curtain tape has a right & a wrong side. Unpicking 6 metres of stitching (and collecting the bits of cotton as I went so there wasn't green thread all over the lounge) added an extra hour or so to the process.


I photographed the llama's pram blanket.


The grafting got better as the project progressed.


I am now totally down with the whole grafting/kitchener process (thanks EZ). The blanket is a pattern from the Knitters Almanac. Made from 24 squares, grafted together, with centre sts picked up and knitted up, and then the edge stitches picked up and worked in garter stitch, with a sewn bind-off (so sloooooow). One of the things I like about the pattern is that it's tricky to tell where it starts - which is what intrigued me initially. Except I just gave away all the secrets - so now you know.


Knitted in Panda Pure Wool (~4 ply) - a little scratchy and stiff, but softer after a wash (and was lurking in my stash), on 3.25 mm needles.


You may notice that there are no sheets on the cot. I decided to make my own. So far I've made one. It's ended up a little trickier than I thought. In a Spotlight induced moment of insanity, I bought fabric that wasn't quite wide enough to tuck around the mattress - I did get enough length, though, to add strips to either side. All was going well, till I realised that I'd managed to have the edges of the seams facing a different way on each side.

I managed to fix it up a bit, but I'm not too concerned - it's only sheets! But I think it was a good reminder of why I don't sew that much .... I loose concentration and stuff it up (like the time I made shorts and sewed straight down the side seams, blocking any access to the pockets I had so carefully pinned in place).

So what's planned for the rest of the week????

Today was spent with a friend and her adorable little boy (5 mths old). Thursday I'll reorganise the yarn cupboard while the aircon guy does his stuff (how exciting). And Friday I'm planning a mini-road trip with my SIL.

How did I ever find time to work?

Sunday, 21 September 2008

The Show

Not the Easter Show, but Bulli Show. An institution in the northern suburbs of Wollongong.
I remember my mum telling me as a young girl that it always rains on the show weekend. Well not this weekend. Two warm sunny days in a row! Lucky I'd made a dash to Kmart on Friday afternoon to stock up on summery clothes that would fit my ever-expanding belly.
But back to the show. I entered three items. Pomotamus socks in 'Any other knitted work', Dashing Root in 'any knitted garment made from thick wool' and the Icarus shawl in 'Hand knitted shawl'.



End result, first place for the socks, second for DR, and HC for the shawl.

Did you notice anything strange with the shawl???

That's right the certificate is pinned on the wrong side. It was hung back to front! I wonder if it was judged on the basis of its wrong side?

And in non-show related news. Here's a peek at the llama cardigan (ie for the baby)



Yarn: Shepherd Colour 4 Me
Needles: 4mm
Pattern: from an old Patons book
Mods: Didn't feel like sewing on a button band, so picked up stitches along the edges and neckline, and worked increases at the corners. (Pretty pleased with myself for thinking of that!)

And the Kimono Socks

Yarn: Colinette Jitterbug (Monet colourway)
Needles: 2.5mm (2 circulars)
Pattern: Kimono Socks from Knitscene Magazine.
Mods: Haven't actually checked gauge, but think it was smaller than specified, so added extra rows to the heel flap (and hence sts to the gusset), and a bit more length to the foot.



They're not blocked yet, so the ties are a little twisty still. This yarn was sooooo yummy to knit with. Lucky I've got another skein in the cupboard, waiting for the perfect pattern.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Knitting for Others

A good proportion of what I knit ends up living somewhere else (I think Joe's pleased about this ... or the cupboards would be filled with FOs as well as stash).


This crocheted bag was a birthday present for a good friend.


Can you see the cables?? That's right, crocheted cables - amazing!


I had so much fun making it. The pattern is from a Japanese book of crochet patterns. I really love the way they work. Just thinking about how the pattern would look if written out long hand makes my head spin.


These hats were a request. The project brief was a hat that isn't too tight fitting, to avoid hat hair. The pattern is by Kim Hamlin, from the book, "Last-Minute Knitted Gifts". It's a great pattern that's really versatile. Just cast on the stitches, figure out what kind of brim you want, and stripe the yarn however you like until it's time to decrease. Brilliant.


After making one, I still had some yarn loitering, so I cast on for the baby size. How cute.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Finish Line

Nearly a week late in posting, but I truly did finish my two Ravelympic projects on time!


Project #1: Glacier Ribbon Scarf
Lots of pictures thanks to Joe's good work with the camera!





Yarn: FlameTree Yarns silk single (Cystal Pool colourway) courtesy of Knitabulous
Pattern: Lace Ribbon Scarf
Needles: 4mm knitpicks options
Mods: A bit shorter than the pattern stipulates. Using a slightly heavier yarn means it's a little wider too.


I like that I can wear it scrunched up around my neck


Or opened out over my shoulders
This yarn has to be cuddled to be believed ... sooooo soft and (would you believe) silky!



Project #2 Pomotamus
These will be going to a good home.



Pattern: Pomotamus
Yarn: Patonyle (old style) in cream
Needles: 2.75 mm dpns ( a mix of grey and anodized green that I picked up from an op shop - sweet!)
Mods: Took inspiration from Princess Pea and used a rib cast on. The toes are totally different. With 48 sts remaining shifted to a decrease every row. Then grafted when there were 20 sts remaining (or something like that). I'm not a fan of pointy toed socks.



I love the stitch pattern. It's like there are 2 or three layers of knitting lurking in there.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

In Training and the Real Event

Last week was training week for the Ravelympics.
I have two projects tagged for the Ravelympics, Pomatomus, and a scarf/stole (just in case I could be super efficient and finish two off).
I wanted to knit a scarf/stole in some dk silk I had purchased from Knitabulous. I totally fell in love with it as soon as I saw it. I figured it would make a lovely accessory to wear to my cousin's wedding, and help me feel a little less like a beached whale (I'll be around 35 weeks pregnant).
Initially I thought I might pick out a stitch pattern from my new book of knitting stitches (a yummy birthday pressie!), and tried one out on some left over cotton (figuring it wouldn't have much stretch in it, like the silk). It looked pretty good.


But the twist in the silk was not as tight, and I think a lot of the pattern was lost.



So that idea was scrapped (although I've kept going with the red swatch, I think it will end up as a face washer).

This week, I've been under house arrest. The cold I caught at the beginning of July is creeping up out of my chest, and is making friends with the brand new cold I caught at the end of last week. So I decided to listen to the doctors and accept the week off work.

This has meant that there's been quite a bit of time available for knitting. Here are pics of my two Ravelympics projects:

Pomatomus knitted in standard patonyle

The stitch definition is wonderful. And I used a k1 p1 rib cast on (found in a random book of Patons patterns) for a stretchy cuff.





and Veronik Avery's Lace Ribbon Scarf knitted in Knitabulous' hand dyed silk.


I think the colour is more like the blue in this second photo.
I keep switching between the two projects cause frankly, both patterns get a little repetitive after a while.

Problem Solved

I have been complaining much this winter that the tops for sale have stupid sleeve lengths. They stop just above the elbow, just below the elbow, just above the wrist, and anywhere in between. Finding long-sleeved tops to wear this winter was quite an exercise (luckily I did find some that I've been rotating through).


I decided that I'd had enough with all the complaining. And set out to do something about it. The answer was (of course) long fingerless mits. I settled on a pattern from one of the books I bought in Japan. After contemplating the pattern and figuring out what most of those Japanese symbols meant, swatching (that's right, I swatched!), switching hooks, getting halfway through the first one, before pulling it out (I don't have Japanese skinny arms and hands) they were finished!





I LOVE them! I think they're just a little more elegant than Fetching (I like to practise a royal wave when wearing them). The colour changes from grey to purple to brown depending on the light.


And so for specs:

Pattern: no idea what it's called, it's in Japanese
Yarn: Patonyle (a bit more than one ball)
Hook: 3.25 mm
Modifications: in the original pattern the elbow ends are more flared, as I've only decreased once (instead of four times). I've also added a pattern repeat (2 rows) between the thumb and the knuckle.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Ta Dah!



The Aran Sampler Scarf revealed! *




I REALLY love this scarf. It's knitted up in handspun courtesy of my uncle (what a lucky neice I am!), it's nicely rustic, and smells all woollen and eucalyptusy (mmm).

I also really love it, cause I designed it myself!



I charted the cables, and figured out how to move them around the fabric as I went. Hooray for lead pencils and graph paper. I even unpicked some bits to improve the flow of the cables from one section to another.




The photo below shows the grafted section of the scarf. If you pick it up and feel it, you can find it, cause I wasn't as careful with the tension as I could have been. But the variable texture of the yarn hides it pretty well.



At some point in the future (hopefully not too far away), I will sit down with the charts and write up the pattern.


And in aesthetic opposition to this lovely scarf is the most ugly sock I have ever knitted. But, twas for a good cause. My brother broke his foot, and ripped some tendons from the bone, so no normal socks for him this winter! I made this pattern up too ... just a basic ribbed toe-up sock, worked in worsted weight yarn to speed up the process.




* Sorry Mike, no jumper for you :)