Sunday, 27 February 2011

rinse and repeat

I'm still working away at my Tibetan Clouds (un)Beaded Stole. I just pick it up every now and then when I feel like some lace knitting. As I knit it I find myself scheming and calculating - 'Ok, I'm going to 10 repeats of E on either side of the central panel and I can knit half a repeat quite easily in a day so with fifteen and a half repeats to go, that would be a month's worth of knitting, assuming that I actually did knit half a repeat every day ...' And then I shrug my shoulders and try to just enjoy the knitting, I'll get there when I get there and I don't want to be compelled to knit half a repeat every day.

Now that I have parted way with the diamond mittens, I need to consider the other two projects that I have lingering from 2008 (yes '08 - ouch): the Baudelaire socks and the Faux Prussian Stole. I think that I'll address the socks first (one of them is practically done) and then there will be a serious lace knitting push for that stole.

I think that I've mentioned before that the lace repeat there is 81 stitches wide and 96 rows deep so I certainly won't be getting half a repeat done each day on that one. And again on that I have the dilemma of needing to execute k2tog or ssk over a marker (same issue that I had with the Knitted Veil) and the clumsiness of that is a real mental block for me. Perhaps I'll just use threads instead of stitch markers and then I'll be off and knitting ...

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

broken engagement

Well thank goodness we're actually married because I have admitted defeat and given up on the Second Engagement Diamond Mittens that I was knitting for Tim. The mittens were one of my three projects dating from the year before last and I had chosen them as the first that I would complete. Here it is mid-February and I had knit only a couple of rounds and finally realised that I just did not want to make them anymore.

I have committed instead (and anew) to Tim's Great Garment of 2011 (the one that I was supposed to make last year but just didn't get around to). I'm planning to knit Jarrett by Kim Hargreaves from Rowan's Vintage Knits in Cascade 220, shade Walnut Heather. Lots of soothing stocking stitch, I'm looking forward to the yarn arriving.

Now I just have to work out whether I can face those socks and that stole.

Saturday, 19 February 2011


This sleep suit wasn't very comfortable for baby b because the snaps along the inner leg were spaced too far apart and he always ended up with his foot sticking out about half-way down. So I put in some extra snaps using a gadget and a hammer. And I'm very pleased with myself.


I had wanted to knit this design for a while and then the right opportunity presented itself:

The Vital Statistics
Saroyan by Liz Abinante, available for free.
Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in shade CW365 Peridot. I was initially fascinated by the 80 per cent wool/10 per cent cotton blend of this yarn and bought a skein many moons back just to try it out. It is much easier on the hands to knit with than straight cotton and it would be great if it retained some of the properties of wool - keeping better shape for one. It's worsted weight and they also make it in a fingering-weight version, which if held double could pass for dk, a good alternative perhaps to straight cotton for warmer weather garments.
Needles: I used my 5mm Lantern Moon straights because they are such lovely needles. The fabric could perhaps have benefited from a little more body but then I wouldn't have been able to use the needles.
Start to finish: 8 February to 13 February 2011.
Stash/recycle content:
Yes - the yarn came from the cupboard.
I worked four increase sections, nine straight sections and four decrease sections as my yardage allowed. The instructions for this pattern are great, the lace edging is both written and charted, and there's a diagram to show what percentage of yarn to use for each section. I also put a button on so that it could be done up snugly around the neck.

This is a great pattern, not least because you can tailor it so well to suit whatever you have available to knit with. The leaves on the edging are straightforward enough but the mixture of stocking stitch, reverse stocking stitch and garter stitch surrounding them was hard to keep track of and prevented the edging from becoming intuitive knitting for me. I am very happy with the result though.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

think pink

I received an enquiry from the marvellously named Mazel Tough Cocktail about the knit-along details for In the Pink. Click here!

getting there

It's been a couple of weeks already since my FedEx package made its way through Trout, Oregon and then onto Kent, Washington before arriving here in Seattle. I have taken it out of the box but haven't even plugged it in yet. That's kind of how things have been around here lately.

I do have three finished knitting projects to show and one finished sewing project as well as some ongoing yarn dilemmas. I finally got a bee in my bonnet about the amount of stuff that was sitting in my yarn stash and did a tidy out - everything that wasn't destined for a particular project, everything about which I kept thinking 'oh yes, but it might be useful one day', all those half-balls, all of it got the boot. Ahhh, feels so much better! I'm still unsure about that Anny Blatt Fine Kid - I've decided against a garment and I think it may work better for a stole or wrap of some kind.

And the finished projects - yeah, yeah, I'll get to them.


Little miss bear made this Valentine's Day card recently. It was inspired, apparently, by Dorothy's ruby slippers from the film version of the Wizard of Oz. She loved it so much that she decided to keep it for herself.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

eight lives to go

Alas, this shawl is no more. Once I got to this point, I realised that I did not like the colour scheme at all. In fact, pink and purple together is easily one of my least favourite combinations. Then a friend said that it reminded her of an Easter basket and well, that was it. Frogging the beading (there's another row that is not quite visible here) was a sad process. This is the second shawl that I have frogged recently. Better, however, to frog it than to put all of that effort into something that I would not want to wear.

I love this design but the colour scheme has been an absolute challenge for me from the start. I love it presented on the knit/lab site; however, I don't want a bright red shawl and remain at a loss as to how to make it right for me. The inspiration for it was the cover of a book about India and I think that this is evident not only in the colourway but also in the design. And that is a look that completely does not suit me.

So, what could I do? I really love the shape and the mix of details - there is the beading, the lace, the stranded colourwork and also some garter stitch ridges further along. Perhaps I could just let them speak for themselves and do something tonal .... ok, on the back burner for now.

ps. I have bought the yarn to make Fleece - two different balls of Noro Kureyon Sock. I'm excited!

the iggy poppins carpet bag

The Vital Statistics
Pattern: Counterpane Carpet Bag by Carrie Brenner from Handknit Holidays: knitting year-round for Christmas, Hanukkah, and Winter Solstice by Melanie Falick.
Yarn: Noro Kureyon (100 per cent wool) in colourway 219; almost four balls.
Needles: 5mm.
Start to finish: Knitting time - 17 November 2010 to 4 January 2011. But I actually finished it today, just now, this evening when I finally sewed in the lining.
Stash/recycle content: This was yarn that came out of the cupboard, but I had bought it only several weeks previously in order to make something else (which didn't work out). Oh well, at least I didn't buy yarn to make this. I can't remember where I got the handles from, I have had them for a long time so probably from an op shop in Australia. the black velvet that I used to make the lining is re-purposed from a skirt that I definitely bought at Josies op shop.

Comments: I loved knitting this bag, seeing the Noro create its various coloured stripes. And I particularly love how stitch pattern creates stripes that are almost zig zags. I think that projects like this make the best use of this sort of yarn (and so do many others - many of the counterpane carpet bag projects on Ravelry are done with Noro or an equivalent). Someone asked me how I had managed to get the colours to change at exactly the right spot and that is the beauty of this - wherever they change just magically looks like the right spot.

I did make some changes: specifically I changed the handle flap to fit the handles that I had picked out as well as shaping it with paired decreases and increases. I also felted the fabric by hand slightly (in hot water with some soap and rubbing) before sewing it up, just to give it a little more body. Inside the handle flap I inserted some stiff fabric, almost a heavy paper-like stuff that you can use as backing for embroidery, to give the flap some rigidity and support the bag.

Verdict: Wonderful bag! I love knitted counterpanes so was delighted to knit something using a traditional stitch pattern, and in a completely non-traditional yarn. This one is large enough to hold a good-sized knitting project, including straight needles. And a quick note about the book - it has lots of other great patterns in it.

* Credit to Ravelry user lilyofforce for the great project name.


Karl Blossfeldt was a German photographer, sculptor, teacher and artist who lived from 1865 to 1932. I have always loved his close-ups of plants and foliage and when I happened across this design, that is just what I thought of.

The Vital Statistics
Koru by Justine Turner of Just Jussi - available free.
The pattern is written for a newborn size but as I used a heavier yarn and did more rows, this would fit a two- or three-year old.
Louisa Harding Kashmir DK in colourway 23, 'slate', 1.4 skeins. I held the yarn double.
4.5mm for the ribbing, 5mm for the hat and 4mm for the fronds.
Start to finish:
1 February to 2 February 2011 - quick knit!
Stash/recycle content: Hmm, semi-stash. Yes, the yarn came from the cupboard but only because it has been sitting there untouched since I bought it many months ago, waiting for a project to come along and employ it.

I love this design. I did lose track of the stitch count somewhere along the way but figure that a stitch here or there just adds to the organic qualities of the hat, yes? Not a mistake, just a design feature. I also knit 14 rows straight after the ribbing instead of 8 to make the hat deeper.
I'm very happy with this hat. I'd like to make it again and pay a bit more attention to the stitch counts (just for my own satisfaction), maybe in an even heavier yarn and with longer fronds perhaps.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

ours polaire

Ahh, speaking of deliveries, a very special little girl has arrived over at Clementine's Shoes. And something that I have been secretly crafting has finally arrived for her (only because I finally sent it, not due to any postal mishaps).

It is with great delight that I present Ours polaire en Liberty et cashmire (Polar bear in Liberty and cashmere); so named in French because the pattern came from a lovely sewing book that I bought in Paris when we were there in 2008.

Having seen so many Japanese craft books, I was curious as to whether there would be anything special on the shelves at a French bookstore. And voila! Astrid le Provost's Intemporels pour bebes: modeles et patrons de 0 a 3 ans (which translates approximately as Classics for Babies: designs and patterns for 0 to 3 years). Beautiful things to sew for babies and children, with the actual multi-sized patterns included (just like the Japanese pattern books). In fact, the patterns and styling in this book remind me very much of the Japanese books, although if these are the French classics then I imagine that the influence is actually the other way around.

The body of the bear is made from an upcycled Ann Taylor cashmere sleeveless sweater, purchased at a thrift store here in Seattle. The Liberty Tana Lawn was a gift from my dear friend Renee which she gave me as a souvenir from a trip to London. I was careful to place a red flower in one ear and a blue flower in the other - so cute!

The eyes and nose are embroidered with floss that I bought at a thrift store (one bag with dozens of colours, such a find). I wanted to try and match the tones in the fabric for the blue of the eyes and pink/brown of the nose so ended up blending colours by using a couple of different threads held together. Not sure that it was quite successful colourwise but I do like the effect.

The filling is recycled from the contents of a cushion that didn't survive the wash. And all of it is lovingly hand stitched by me.

As I hope the photos here attest to, this is a gorgeous pattern. I used to have a picture of a polar bear, taken from behind, pinned up on my cubicle at work (a tasteful picture, fear not) and there was something about that bear's bottom that made me laugh every time I looked at it. This bear is also very cute from behind.

I have two more secret baby craft projects finished - one given away but I didn't manage to take any photos of it, the other yet to be gifted. As if new babies weren't exciting enough, I love making things for them.

january reading

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: a memoir of going home by Rhoda Janzen - I had issues with this book. At first I found the writing and scenarios hilarious but that didn't last long. The refrain of "my husband left me for a man named Bob whom he met on" became irritating, especially when my response to this was "well, lucky you" considering the descriptions that she gives of her husband, their relationship and his behaviour. Was the relationship breakdown and her subsequent retreat to her Mennonite family an opportunity to write about its idiosyncrasies, or was writing about her trip home an excuse to go on about her failed marriage? I'm not sure. I don't think that the book is sure. Overall I found the narrative incoherent and it was strange that no context or explanation of the Mennonite movement was given until some random notes in an appendix.

The Scarpetta Factor by Patricia Cornwell - Brand loyalty, I have read every one of the Scarpetta books since I first picked one up from a second-hand bookseller when I was at university. I wish that she would stop writing them - this one was pretty stupid, ludicrous characters, unlikely scenarios. I've already started the next one, Port Mortuary.