A Cross- Continental Cowl

This is Katie

I hope she doesn’t mind me using a rav photo!!

She is my knitting bestie and one of the most awesome housemates I’ve ever had. We had a lot of fun together and I know that whenever we are together we will still have a lot of fun together.

So when Ysolda Teague and Stephanie Dosen (of Tiny Owl Knits) released a BFF friendship cowl pattern on Knitty last year Katie immediately nudged me (remotely) and said, hey now that you are oh so far away, we should totally do this!
So we did!
I have access to all the fun English yarns at the moment, and we had a convenient makeshift-postie in the form of the travelling Ursula who was visiting her family, so I sent Katie two skeins of Old Maiden Aunt in Midnight and kept 2 for myself in Dreicht (a horrible sounding but truly BEAUTIFUL colour)
we worked away making the sport/DK weight yarn look good in what is technically a worsted weight pattern and sent photos of our efforts to each other
experimentation with extra stitches and pattern repeats!

experimentation with extra stitches and pattern repeats!

When at last we had completed our ‘seed pod’ links, we posted them to the other side of the world, complete with little goodies and helloes (I send Katie the most horrendously bad postcard of all time and some british noms)

Then came the task of grafting the links

grafting the first...

grafting the first…

grafting the second!

…grafting the second!

Final step? WEAR! though of course it’s too hot now! but it will get cold again soon and for oh so long. meanwhile, Katie’s link is protecting her from the dreary Melbourne winter!

I did use the inconvenient sunshine to take some awesome pics though!

IMG_1833 IMG_1835

How gorgeous is that yarn! such a dream to knit with too. I can’t wait to wear this… well, I can, because i love London in the summer, but it will be a little bit of bliss come the Autumn rains!

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And this is why i knit (for other people)

Since I got to the UK and have been able to show off my skill with needles and hook to a whole new batch of friends, I’ve heard the following comment a lot…

“oooh, you could sell those”

or a variation on the theme…

“Have you ever thought about selling things?”

To which I sometimes smile and just say no, or sometimes explain i tried that and it was hard, or for my closer, more patient, actually want a response friends, I explain that actually, what people would pay versus the time and money I invest would make it a pointless exercise.

But the real reason is this.

I am a selfish knitter. I knit for pleasure, so I can take pride in showing off something I created with my own hands, so I can have something that is exactly how I want it (most of the time) and to pass hours that I would otherwise feel are wasted (or my excuse to watch television).

And because of this, when I do knit for other people, it is for one reason and one reason only. Because I care.

The wonderful Yarn Harlot posted today about the love that goes into a knitted present and how it stays with it. How wrapping oneself up in a handknitted gift really is like a woolly hug. And this is exactly how I think about knitting for other people. For both family and friends, and for new little people who don’t even realise that the thing that is keeping them warm is doing so in more ways than one. Even when I take requests, I accept them because I know that the finished object will not only be valued, but will be a reminder of my love and affection. (seriously, my most recent request I argued against receiving any kind of payment, but the recipient objected!)

I have only been in England a year, but I have made 3 gifts for people here and a few for little people back home. You’ve seen Kylie’s hat and I told you about John’s winter set and now here’s the third…

Fade Fingerless Gloves
or “Proper Thug Mitts” as Sam put it

After knitting Kylie’s hat, I offered to knit something for Sam for his christmas/birthday present (as the two events bookend the coldest part of the year). He asked for some mitts in purple and black and I immediately thought of this pattern* (as I have done it before for another male friend* of mine with great success)

It took me a while to find the right shade of purple in the right kind of yarn, but i finally did just after christmas and in less than a week I whipped up a pair of mitts for my dearest, dearest Sam.

I was worried they might be a bit snug, but he loves them!

And I love him.

See how this works?

 

 

*ravelry link

When you really love someone…

you will part with the perfect hat because it was knitted for them, not you.

this is kylie

She is my best friend here in London. we work together and have lots of fun and totally get each other.

One day Kylie came with me to Loop (even though she’s not a knitter – see, told you she was a good friend) and showed serious interest in a pair of mitts in my favourite teal.

I offered a pair as a belated birthday present.

finally got my hands on some mad tosh in a colour i thought she’d like… but she saw me wearing this hat and decide she wanted a beret instead.

I offered Kylie some patterns (she chose Meret) and 2 days later i had finished what is possibly my favourite hat i’ve ever knitted. I’m completely in love with it.

But i love Kylie more.

 

Months in the Making

A baby is months in the making (9 months or 40 weeks to be more precise) so it is only fitting that when someone you really care about is making a person, you spend a few months making something too.

When my darling friends E+SJ told me they were expecting (something that took a bit more effort and planning than it does for some couples) E told me a story about a knitted blanket that her brother had had as a child. Sadly this blanket was lost to the family but hearing the memories and longing in E’s voice i knew what i had to do for her and her little foetus. E is an amazing quilter and stitcher and though she has tried the yarny needle arts she doesn’t feel comfortable with knitting needles or a crochet hook. SJ knits beautifully but occupies her time with other activities (including learning to be a teacher – pretty important!) so i knew these were the kind of people who would really appreciate the time, effort, dedication and love that goes into a hand knitted blanket. There was no doubt about what i would do!

I picked out the yarn and pattern pretty much as soon as i knew. I chose a beautiful lace shawl pattern* by debbie bliss from one of her many beautiful baby books, but decided against the baby cashmerino. Firstly I figured if i knit it in a thicker yarn i could cut out a few repeats and it would go a bit faster, secondly, baby cash isn’t cheap (even with a staff discount) and thirdly, while it is beautiful, occasionally i have heard tell of it not standing up to years of use, and this was a project i wanted to be a family heirloom. I chose instead Adorn Cotton Cashmere in a beautiful soft sage green – a colour i know E loves, would complement their home and that i thought would suit either a boy or a girl. I know from experience that the cotton cashmere is both wonderfully soft and EXTREMELY hardy. You can throw that yarn in the dryer NO trouble!

I didn’t cast on until the pregnancy had been officially announced, not wanting to jinx anything and once i had the ‘go ahead’ knitted on it every now and again, here and in adelaide, at mine and at friends’ houses, until i got the date for the baby shower (today) and a deadline for the blanket! And so, on Thursday night I finished sewing on the edge, washed and blocked the present and today gave it to the lovely mums-to-be.

Green on Green on a sunny summer's day

Just for frame of reference for size, here is a photo of it blocking on my double sofa bed

a blanket, a play mat and a shawl in one

For anyone wanting to do this blanket i’ll tell you i cut out 2 repeats (18 stitches per repeat) and worked the 24 row pattern 12 times, with a further 7 rows to create the finer zig zag at each end. It still turned out huge! I’d read on rav that this was really big (which was why i was happy to cut out a few repeats) but i probably could have cut out another one or two repeats and still had a good sized blanket!

This was not the only present for E and SJ – good friends deserve lots of knitted things!

Earlier in the year i presented them with the following items, both knitted once it was known Fruiby (fruit baby – a nickname given because E has been blogging each week comparing in size Fruiby to fruits and vegies) that fruiby would be a child of the boy type. E and SJ are very much against gender specific-ness anyway, and have worked on a wardrobe for Fruiby in gorgeous brights of every colour, so i used the very special leftover yarn from my swedish fish socks to create a colourful little vest for him

A stripy vest!

E and SJ are massive Dr Who fans (as am i) and it occurred to me that rather than knitting traditional booties, i could pay an homage to a wonderful fandom and still create a cute baby present. Now, I’m not the best crocheter in the world, and of course i didn’t use the recommended gauge yarn, but i managed to create these in reference to 10s distinctive footwear…

BABY CONS!

So now I am moving on to me projects. I don’t think i will be knitting presents this christmas, which is a bit sad, but with so many babies it’s like my gift quota is done! There are more babies to knit for yet, so i hope you like adorable cute things! It does feel weird to be finished with a project i’ve had with me for so long though.

*ravelry link

All my friends are having babies!

Well, only two of them this time, but it’s the third baby in 2 years from my group of friends – and this particular couple’s second!

I love hearing that friends are expecting because it’s means i get to knit cute, tiny, adorable things for them (and they’re quick too!).

 

baby presents!

 

M + G had a little girl almost 2 years ago, but didn’t know or announce the gender, so i got to pick my very first baby outfit from the ‘gender neutral’ range. Luckily i had had my eye on a gorgeous rowan pattern, which was available free on their site for a while – Zoo*. BabyOne was due in January – mid summer here – so I worked it in Naturally Stella, a fingering weight bamboo, in cream and chocolate with a purple elephant.

 

(apologies for WIP photo but it is all i have!)

 

I have it on good authority that it was well loved and worn until it simply would not fit anymore and has been passed on to very good family friends… and so the love continues to go around! BabyOne also received my very first pair of booties – the ever popular Saartje’s Booties* – and the look on her dad’s face when i presented them to him was priceless. As he now knows – yes babies really are THAT tiny!!

M+ G announced the imminent arrival of BabyTwo earlier this year and have stayed constant in not knowing/announcing the gender of their baby. Again the little one is due in summer, so another vest seemed the best option since it was so popular last time round. I wanted to do something with the same kind of whimsy as Zoo and so when i came across the Owl Baby Vest*, it seemed like a great choice – except that it was knitted for a size 9 – 12 month… hmm… solution? knit it in a beautifully soft 4 ply cotton and wool blend of course!

I also made the vest longer than recommended to extend the life expectancy a little bit – after all, babies GROW! The yarn is Heirloom Capri 4ply and it was absolutely delightful! This took me just a sssssmmmmidgeon more than a ball for anyone wanting to make similar mods.

This little BabyTwo is getting a real treat though… remember i mentioned the baby cube at the stitchery weekend? Well, I finished it! I’ve worked it all in bold colours, and sewed and stuffed it today – my first sewing of summer, and indeed in the new apartment!

I kind of love it a lot! The hardest part was actually making sure every face has all 4 coloured tabs on it (which they do). That was some spacial awareness thinking right there! I also HATE blind stitching, but managed to close the turning and stuffing gap without it looking too bad! And it actually rattles! Melly (of melly and me) provided us with a quality jingly bell as part of our kit and so it makes a soft little tinkle – hopefully not enough to annoy mum and dad too much! I’m really pleased with this as a gift, since BabyOne can use it to show of her word and number skills, while BabyTwo can jingle it and nom it like a wild thing.

The other baby i’ve had the pleasure of knitting for is another little girl, who has just celebrated her 1st birthday! yay! Whilst i was unable to attend the celebrations, I did knit an impromptu pair of socks for her when her parents brought her to visit melbourne earlier this year, and of course she received a welcome to the world gift too! There was absolutely no doubt to the gender (there’s an embarrassing ultrasound picture going up on her 21st birthday party photo board!) so i got to think pink and knitted the sweetest little blossom dress* in bamboo and cotton (seriously, someone have sex in spring would ya? I want a winter baby to knit for!).

I embroidered it with dmc floss – some lazy daisies! – and used a plain old ribbon for the ties. Unfortunately it was waaaay too big for her, despite my knitting the smallest size and she only got around to wearing it this winter – over undershirt and leggings, stylin’ little thing that she is!)

SO that’s the babies under control for the moment. I wonder who will be next?

 

*ravelry links.

Stitching the Day Away

Last weekend i went to a stitching retreat with the lovely Es of Penelope Waits. Stitching (a more free-form type of embroidery) is not usually my thing, but it sounded like such a lovely day and it was such a personal and lovely invitation to do something with my darling friend that away we went!

Well it was an absolutely lovely day.

It was held at the Immerse winery near Yarra Glen, hosted by Leanne Beasley of Leanne’s House, and Rosalie Quinlan and Melanie Hurlston of Melly and Me. Included in the day’s price was delicious food, a glass of wine or bubbly and materials and patterns for three adorable projects.

A project designed by each of the hosts

Es and I both started on the stitchery pouch, although in hindsight i should have started on the baby toy cube (which i have now done) as it’s going to be a PERFECT present for some friends who are expecting! We both purchases some extra colours, since the rainbow supplied was a bit, well, bright. Es went for her usual muted english garden colours while i went for a different kind of bright – rich jewel tones.

I learnt how to do 2 new stitches, which was very exciting. Chain stitch and satin stitch. They’re not very neat yet!

There were a whole lot of show and tell moments and a few give aways – one of which i won! very exciting! It was a selection of fat quarters from Rosalie’s new fabric range, which i promptly gave to Es since she will get much more use out of them. I think she was pretty happy about this!

Some of the show and tells were just amazing! most were quilts, but some were handbags and runners and pillows and of course, Es showed off her fabulous cross stitch designs!

We stitched and ate and walked and chatted to the lovely people around us –  a little like knitters, but a little more old school crafty 🙂 All in all a lovely day!

I came to realise though, that i don’t stitch so much because i need to look at it – i find it a little more solitary than knitting, where i can look around and make eye contact. I do enjoy it though and i’ve been keeping on with both projects i’ve started and am even thinking of stitching a little something for someone for christmas!

a VERY belated Bendi post

Today Mel, the lovely Yorkshirepud, came to visit me and we had an absolutely lovely crafty afternoon! First we stopped in at Onabee, the new craft store nearby (where i bought pear tree yarn, yum) and looked in at a fabulous little gift shop, then we headed back to mine for tea and teaching.

Mel has borrowed an Ashford Knitter’s Loom and i promised to teach her the basics! so with a cup of english breakfast to steel ourselves, i showed her how to warp up the loom and got her weaving! In return, she has donated some gorgeous Malabrigo to my stash… i have a feeling it might end up being a present for my cousin since it is the most wonderful green and i ❤ redheads in green! I also demonstrated some spinning… which lead to a broad investigation of the stash…

I showed Mel all my souvenir sock and lace yarn (i love a captive audience) and then i got onto the handspun, which of course led this very new spinner into the world of fibre stash. I pulled out all 5 large plastic pillow/quilt bags from under the bed and proceeded to pull out handdyed top after handdyed batt to show her. She patted and oohed and ahhed and coveted appropriately and even tried to tell me i don’t have one SERIOUS problem. She helped with my problem a little bit by taking away some silk/merino that i will never spin but will suit her wonderfully!

This, in turn led to a discussion on ‘what i bought at bendi’ which made me realise i had neglected you all for an ENTIRE month! i even have photos of my bendi purchases ready to go! *facepalm* I apologise dear readers and hope that my belated gushings will go some way to tiding things over…

This was my first  year at bendi and, to be honest, i didn’t buy as much as i thought i would. i don’t know why – maybe i found it all a little overwhelming, and certainly, since i have, as mentioned, an extensive stash, i was very much looking for things that really spoke to me, rather than just buying everything. That being said, i did spend well over $200 so i can’t have done too badly!

First the standard favourites – Mandie and Charly. I bought stuff from Mandie first – a whole lotta stuff. It was my first time meeting Mandie in the flesh, which was great, and it had been a while since i had purchased from her. She had some delicious handdyed sock yarn with one in just the MOST perfect colours for me…

I don’t think it was mandie’s intention to create a Port Adelaide sock yarn, but this WILL become a pair of football match day socks for me!

I also fell in love with this sock yarn with its rose petally goodness

Fibre-wise there was one blend that i just had to get – a polworth/silk. i’ve only spun polworth once, but i really really loved it – like BUTTER – so i had to snatch up some more (hard to find!). only one colour sang out to me, so i bought 2!

I also picked up some great pink sock blockers and some little charms – not sure what to do with them, but i love them!

I said a quick hello to Charly and had a look around, but knew i’d end up back in the woolcraft shed before heading home, so postponed purchasing from her to the end of the day (can’t NOT buy Ixchel stuff!)

I had a wander around – said hello to Ms Gusset and fondled her wares, met SeeAPenny at Try Dyeing where i bought 2 dyeing kits – one for me and one for Katie – Met Jane from Moseley Park and fondled HER wares (there was lots of fondling going on), bought some delicious carded alpaca (i have a thing for it, clearly -and sorry no photo), picked up some natural coloured brown wool for Katie, said hello to the lovely pear tree ladies, met Jo of the bird and the fish, Tara of Mayhem and Chaos and other ravelers, bought ENORMOUS alpaca socks for Papa, got a fantastic sheep incognito calendar, discovered fibre red where i ordered the most wonderful teal skirt, ate potato spiral chips on a stick, ate doughnuts and then headed back to Charly where i caved and bought some cashmerino bunny and some bfl-bunny *passout*

There is just the subtlest hint of pink in this and LOVE it – have some pure BFL in very similar colours i might ply it with

i have some angorino from charly in a very similar colourway that i thought i might ply this with for extra nomability.

Then i managed to gather my wits about me, purchase a cup of tea and start the long drive home (which seemed so much longer than the drive there!)

all in all it was an AMAZING day and i have to say, Bendigo is PRETTY. I was quite awestruck by the catherdral and the fountain/roundabout in the middle of town. next year i will pull over and take many more pictures, but this year it was ALL about the fibre and yarn!

So not a massive haul, but pretty respectable and it was absolutely wonderful to meet so many people i knew only via rav. Now to get on with the spinning, knitting, dyeing and weaving!

Keep your eyes peeled for a multiple FO post here later this week!!! *excited*

A Dilemma

On Wednesday I had tea and cake with penelope_waits at Hausfrau (<3) and i delivered to her the two Colette patterns i had ordered for her. Eager to undertake this clothes sewing business (Es is an amazing quilter, but hasn’t made clothes from patterns before), we headed to one of her favourite fabric enablers (Patchwork in Malvern) and I was somehow talked into making my own Beignet (in the most adorable fabric ever). In retrospect this was probably not the best idea. Despite the allure of Es and I both sewing our skirts, learning and chatting and drinking tea, we overlooked the problems of sharing a sewing machine, space and a pair of scissors. Basically it meant everything took twice as long and also the sewing machine decided to act up for poor Es everytime she re-threaded her green thread! (it was fine for me, which made me feel terribly guilty!)

Aaaanyway, I managed to get all the machine sewing done on my skirt and am left with a few handsewn things to do (belt loops, belt and buttons) but have a little bit of an issue. As you can see in the link above, this skirt is designed to be a high waisted skirt with the hem above or on the knee.

As usual, despite measuring myself, choosing the appropriate size and pinning and trying on at every turn, this skirt, like SO MANY OF MY HOME SEWN THINGS!, is TOO BIG! *sigh* seriously, this always happens with my sewn things. Often I can just nip a few seams in, but that’s a bit hard when the thing is lined and faced and all those things. (at least there’s no zip!)

There are two ways i can proceed from here.

option a) I can sew the buttons on as directed which would result in a skirt that sits on the top of my hips, with the waist at my belly button like so:

option b) I can cheat the buttons across to the front side seam to create an asymmetrical fastening (probably using press studs on the other side of the front panel to keep everything flat and smooth) which means the skirt sits on my waist, with the top of the waist hitting my bottom ribs like so:

There is a possibility the fabric may say NO (as you can see it’s puckering a bit, but not sure how much of this is because of the pins) and i should/may be able to iron it into submission. I removed the ‘darts’ in the front seam cos i hate them anyway and sewed those seams flat instead, so that shouldn’t really be a problem.

thoughts? opinions? the good news is they’re buttons. If i do it one way and hate it i can try the other way. of course i don’t really want to unpick and resew 12 buttons!

apologies for crappy mirror pics… and yes this room is green. very green.