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.

 

Because Bow Ties ARE Cool

yet another item in the unending stream of hand crafted baby things

Yes, the hand crafted baby things just keep coming. My dearest E and S finally welcomed their little boy into the world. At the Baby Shower, we were asked to take onesies and return them decorated in some way. Weeeelll, I’ve had a bit on my plate what with moving to the UK, and i knew that A was going to be a massive little bub and I had a 000, so to make up for my slackness, I purchased a 00 to embroider and whipped this up on the last weekend i was in melbourne. I am such a terrible free stitcher, but it’s cute and homey and the Doctor would approve!

(also, what a BRILLIANT colour! Thanks E for the photo)

meanwhile, N + G are expecting a Muffin!girl and in the COLD months too, so i finally got to knit a pink (and green!) cardigan!

I had some lovely colours in a simple 8ply wool that i knew nett would love so i chose the offset wraplan* pattern and striped away.

(apologies in advance for the indoor flash photo!)

The buttons are probably  not the most practical, but they are SUPER CUTE and finish it so nicely!

Meanwhile, I have managed to move out of Melbourne – most of my yarn is in storage *sniff* but a sufficient amount is in adelaide either to be packed with me, or sent at a later date. My spinning wheel, loom and sewing machine are being looked after and loved by the lovely Ursula, though i believe Mel will eventually take over loom mindership. I’m glad  my crafty things are being put to good use!

I have also finished my Sylvi at last and i LOVE HER. I will endevour to get some better photos, but here’s a sneak preview..

 

 

*rav link

Happy New Year!

It’s 2012. but you knew that, because you are on the interwebs, which means you are looking at some kind of electronic equipment that knows the date and time. But i digress

Happy New Year my lovely crafterly friends, from near and far – WordPress tells me that i have readers all over the world, but particularly from the UK (see you there soon!) and US! so Hi! I also had 47 SF cable car’s worth of people traipse across my site. which is lovely! i also just realised that may well be the first time i have ever written or perhaps even read the word traipse. I had absolutely no idea how to spell it, but i guessed and I think i’m right, so yay!

My year of being a Notorious sock knitter with the Rockin’ Sock club has come to a close. My last installment for the year has been my favourite – which is good. It’s a bit of a pity, because i found the experience to be a little underwhelming. I didn’t LOVE any of the colourways this year, though i had a lot of respect for the dyeing, especially with aubergenius and pinky swear (Jan) which were such a perfect match. The patterns were a bit hit and miss for me. The ones i liked i felt I had seen similar things before and the ones i felt were really original didn’t grab me at all. And while the community were lovely and welcoming, i wasn’t as involved as i could have been. But still, I have done it and i can cross it off my knitting bucket list!

Comfort and Joy - the November (and final) instalment of RSC 2011

I finally finished my wallflower socks`, and before the end of the year too! They took up the last 3 months of my ‘sock a month’ year, so i ended up 1 pair behind (i finished an extra pair in january, though i started them in december ’10). I have the remaining two ‘parcels’ of yarn+pattern there, and one i will definitely take with me to the land of the engers when i head to the UK in late Feb.

I should also add that these were only my second stranded sock and my first time using wollmeise!

FINALLY! Wallflower, but Stephanie van der Linden, in Wollmeise (Stella Polaris) and an undyed merino cashmere from Wired for Fibre

Yes, I have my UK Visa and i’m heading off and it is STUPID the amount of time i spend planning what yarn is coming with me, what will go happily to storage and what will go to mum so she can post it to me along with mail, summer clothes and other goodies. With all the other planning i should be doing, this is taking up a disproportionate amount of my brain time^. I am going to be taking a lot/getting a lot sent because with my VAST stash (256 yarns stashed on rav and that’s not all, though take into account there are double ups due to multiple colours being grouped together for the one project) it seems stupid that precious money that will absolutely be needed for expensive London rent and food and WARM CLOTHES should get spend on yarn to replace what i already have. SO! my plan is to arrange for yarn that has maximum time to weight ratio attached to find its way to me in London. this means a lot of my sock yarn and laceweight. I have been using my rav queue to whittle down pattern to  yarn matches and have about 94756924569276924753* shawls and socks ready to be knitted. This is good too because it means some of my handspun and souvenir yarn will finally see the light of day as a FO.

amongst all this crafting and planning christmas and a bunch of birthdays happened. I didn’t really do the crafting presents for everyone that i’ve done the last few years. a couple of reasons for this but the big one was ALL THE BABIES! i spent the time i would normally be making xmas presents doing things for small people instead. (there are more baby knits on the way too!)

I did however get some gift spinning done and had a few presents already made for people – mum got some of my handdyed yarn and helen got a hat` i made for her back in march.

Here are the spins, in order, for nett, katie and mel:

Super Angorino from Ixchel (50% angora, 50% superfine merino), spun 2 ply, 130m, 50g, around a fingering weight.

Merino and Carbonized bamboo from Ewe Give Me the Knits, n-plied, 135m, 100g, around a DK weight.

Wensleydale from Ixchel, 2ply, 85m and 100g around a DK weight.

The wensleydale i’m particlarly proud of – i think it’s one of my most even and beautiful spins yet!

^TBH I think a lot of my brain power has gone on this plan because in the looming face of moving to a whole new country, this is a manageable problem

*figure may be an exaggeration.

` ravelry link

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

Things I like – babies and yarn!

A few FOs to show off, including some presents, and i want to share my growing wm collection…

I received what will probably be my last wm skein (for the moment) in the post last week. All my yarn has come from destashes and it’s really easy to see what colours i like! I may destash one of these since i’m not in love with is, but all the others are just LOVELY.

L-R: Pinie, Sabrina, Aquarius, Neptun, Stella Polaris, Verzaubert, Der Letzst Versuch, Fleiderbusch, Magnolie (dark) (some of these are WD but not sure which)

I find it really interesting the way WM has taken off. I describe it as being like collector’s cards. You don’t necessarily NEED them for anything, but you kind of want to collect them all, just for the sake of it… For me, there are certain colours I want to see in person and pet and play with and one day knit, but there’s also definitely the desire to COLLECT. however. I’m putting the breaks on – after all – i’m yet to knit with it and i should make sure i like it first!

I went to a Blessingway (as opposed to a baby shower) for a dear friend on saturday afternoon. Her due date is the opening night of our show, so she is the ONLY person I know (in Melbourne) who has a valid excuse for not being there! (remember to let me know when you book!!)

It was lovely to see her and to help her make things for her birthing process, namely prayer flags (very non-traditional) for the room and a contribution to a necklace for her to wear. We also got to do kitchy things, like decorate onesies (BIG PUFF PAINT DUCKIE!) and play games (like baby animal bingo – AWESOME). I’m keeping track of these sorts of things as i’m hoping to be involved in the planning of someone ELSE’s baby shower later in the year.

I got to give S her lovely knitted gifts, which you should know by now is my favourite part of unselfish knitting. she loved everything.

pixie hat, ribbed sideways knit cardi and milo soaker

Two of these patterns came from my vintage knits baby book – the pixie hat and soaker. the other is from a great ACS pattern book, the cocoon baby collection. I’ve talked about the cardi before and the hat and soaker are pretty self explanatory. I was trying to do a slightly upsized version of the hat for baby’s older sister, but am having epic hat knitting fail. She WILL get something, but not just yet!

This is not it on the baby front this year!!! I just found out my second cousin living here in melbourne has had another little boy (only a year after the first who received the blue baby sophisticate coat last year) and two of my bestest friends in the whole world have now officially announced that they are expecting. This is a bit more of an acheivement in their case as a gay couple, but they’ve done it and there will be another tiny person around in January!

So much baby knitting! lucky they’re small!

Almost there…

I am too lazy to take a photo, but Fay* which i have been working on for over a year is sooooo close to completion I can SMELL it! I cast off both sleeves last night and am debating whether to wash block or just steam the pieces before seaming the shoulders. I still need to knit the neck band, which i will start tonight, but it is sewn in, so need to have shoulder seams sewn ready to go. this means i need to block the main body pieces now.

Usually I would just whack it in the sink in lukewarm water, give it a little swish, press the water out, pin and go… BUT! when katie was living with me, she blocked her pear tree Mara in such a fashion and it grew… A Lot. It did shrink back when it dried, but it was significantly larger. Now i know what you sticklers out there are saying “Well well well, serves you right for not washing your swatch!”. At least i DID swatch for this project! And I have just washed and pinned my little swatch to see what it does! This will help decide how to go about things. In the meantime, NECKBAND! 🙂

In the meantime, I finished a pair of socks!

They are Shur’tugal (Dragon Rider) socks in Waikiwi Prints that i picked up in NZ. It’s a really yummy alpaca, possum and merino blend and while it felt a little thin/ropey during the knitting process it softened up beautifully when i washed them. My mum eyed them off while i was knitting them so she scored them for mother’s day 🙂

Speaking of presents, this ADORABLE little jacket (that I knit over easter – super quick!!) is destined for a soon-to-be person! There are a few mothers-to-be reading this so i’ll let you all guess which of the baby knits you’re getting!

Speaking of Babies… The recipient of the little cabled vest* that i blogged about in March has arrived safe and sound. Mum and bub are both doing well, Dad’s proud as punch and the dog is a little put out!

Meet my cousin-once-removed (hey, I don’t get neices and nephews, ok? it’s not my fault it’s a really clumsy name for the relationship), Henry John Thorn. He’s the first boy in the family (Dad’s side) in 41 years! I think this is the only photo i’ve seen with his eyes open. mostly he just frowns, but i’m sure he’ll grow out of it!

* ravelry link

Babies Galore!

So the thing about being 30 is that most of the people i know are either getting married, having babies or planning ways of moving closer to doing one of the above.

This year (so far) has seen three babies on the horizon. My cousin, for whom i knitted the little cabled slip over is due ANY MINUTE NOW! I am planning on making debbie bliss’s bunny to go with the slipover, but will maybe give it to them in person in September since the US apparently don’t want anyone to send them mail ever now.

The other two babies have both had gender determined (though i won’t specifically say what just in case… though you can probably work it out)

I started this little project with one recipient in mind, but changed my mind halfway through. I am now working on matching items.

Sideways ribbed baby jacket in Adorn Silky Cashmerino 4ply

(thanks nett for the awesome photo)

Baby clothes are so much fun to knit – they are super fast and are totally worth luxurious (machine washable) yarns. This was under 2 balls!

I’m working on a DK weight jacket now for the other baby. I started Friday and have already finished the back and fronts. One and a half sleeves to go, then seaming and then bands. I would finish this weekend except that i can’t find a decent sewing up needle here (at my parents) so might have to wait til i get back to Melbourne.

I do have another project with me of course, something for me in ARAN weight because i am totally SICK of 4 ply. between baby clothes, socks and my Fay (in Pear Tree 4 ply) I needed something a bit quicker to work on, so I am doing Emily from Kim Hargreaves in Rowan Alpaca Cotton. Not the combination i originally intended (though I contemplated it) but i just wanted to knit something-not-4ply. I have also bought the Rowan Cocoon to do Stockport from Rowan 46. Yay for a bulky knit !

Still here…

Hi!

I apologise for the month long silence, but things haven’t been great chez Jen. I won’t go into it here, because a) I don’t want this to be a whingy blog b)It’s a bit TMI for some and c)it’s long and complicated, but the short version is I have been having issues with my mental and physical health. I am on a new medication which has made me feel better, but not good, but will stick with it for a few more weeks before trying something new. But the result of this is that sometimes the things i know usually are relaxing and fun haven’t necessarily been. So for example I’ve had the odd panic attack whilst knitting, or have had the wrong energy for sitting down to crafting.

BUT! I have persevered and have a few finished objects to show you!

Firstly My February Socks

Dragonfly socks in Mini Mochi

I really enjoyed this knit. The yarn is a little splitty (not great for dropping down and picking up stitches) but otherwise lovely – so smooooooshy and the pattern is super easy. I worked an eye of patridge heel, because i like them. This yarn is apparently known for not ‘matching up’ but i’m pretty happy with how these turned out. Very similar!

I have also finished March’s socks, though sadly 2 days into April, so too late to enter into the  Sock Knitters Anonymous  competition under the Janneke Maat design category. Pity – first time my random selection and their competition categories had matched up!

Here is a (terrible) photo of the first finished sock as I haven’t taken FO pics yet

Maeve in Ixchel’s BFL bunny sock

I really didn’t enjoy these as much as i thought i would. I don’t know why – maybe the colours were actually too muted for the mood i was in, or perhaps it had nothing to do with the socks, just the mood/energy i was feeling, but they’ve also ended up a smidgeon small, so will probably get gifted. I don’t usually like gifting things that haven’t been specifically knitted for the recipient, but my cousins have small feet, so one of them may like them… I don’t know.

Also, the two socks are slightly different colours.

Now for a very deliberate gift…

Cabled Slipover from Debbie Bliss in Adorn Silky Cashmerino 4ply

This is for the soon-to-be first boy in my family for 31 years (41 on that particular side of my family). My cousins are having a little boy due this month and I couldn’t resist  knitting this (in gorgeous cashmere silk merino). I think it’s super cute that i’m sending my aussie cousin, married to a german, living in the states a cricket vest, but they’ll all think it’s a tennis vest, so it’s not as amusing as i think it is. But it is ADORABLE! (and the neck does stretch out a lot and it’s designed for the newborn)

I also finished spinning a yarn (hee) once i was feeling a bit better last month. It’s wensleydale from Charly in the colourway Sleepy Hollow

(c) Ixchelbunny from flickr

I separated out all the colours into the full colours and the mixes where they blend and then spun in a slow colour gradient. It’s a laceweight or light fingering at most and i’ve got 360m to play with – I’m looking for a nice lace shawl pattern, but might end up designing one!

I love the halo on it! wensleydale has a nice long staple so it’s good for a low twist single. As i was spinning it i thought it wasn’t ‘low’ twist enough, but had a few breaks when winding it onto a niddy noddy, so it obviously IS low twist afterall!

I’m now working on my April socks (and they’re going quite quickly!!) and have been working on my Fay again – a year on! I really love it and want to wear it!! I also have a few more baby knits to work on (so many babies due) but needed to work on some adult things for a while. I’ve also cast on Emily by Kim Hargreaves in Alpaca Cotton, an Aran weight yarn, because i needed to knit something NOT with 4ply!

Birthdays!

Birthdays! I had one! I am now 30. I’m quite looking forward to my thirties to be honest. I’m hoping for at least a little improvement on my late twenties.

Some of my friends really caught on to just how much i like yarn this year. I’m very impressed, pleased and excited by a few of my presents!

my darling nett and greg got me Ixchel’s sock club. And Charly, as always, has been a star, sending the first shipment to them so they could give it to me in person and the rest here to me, all with a happy birthday message! Not to mention that I’m pretty sure charly had me in mind when dyeing the first installment. TOTALLY my colours! Also, zen seaweed bunny! fun times!

And then, a whole group of my adelaide besties got together to get me a totally awesome gift voucher to the totally awesome Eat Sleep Knit, a store i have always admired and spent hours in (virtually) but never bought from, for the totally awesome sum of $100!!! The only problem now is deciding what to get!

I also finally spent (most of) my Twist Collective voucher that was part of my REALLY REALLY awesome christmas present from nett and greg

The SQUEAK has a number on the back of it that correlated to my Twist Collective voucher for a cool $40! So I got Farinelli, Sylvi, Dulce de Leche, Sottopassagio and Kiloran. I couldn’t decide on what i wanted to spend the last $7, so i’ll mull it over for a bit. I thought i might use my ESK voucher to grab a garment’s worth, maybe one of my newly acquired patterns but i JUST DON’T KNOW! Spent all last night looking through the pages and pages of pretties and need a little break! When I decide, I’ll let you know!

(TBH, that is one of the problems of having an impulse purchases stash which included sweater quantities of yarn… It’s hard to pick a project on the spot, because there’s already  409867024672 others in my house waiting to be made!)

It was also the birthday of my darling cousin Jade, 4 days before mine. She is the most understanding 10 year old in the world and was completely fine when i told her that her present would be a little late because i was still making it. You may remember her sister got a hand-knitted cardi for HER birthday, so she was expecting something awesome.

Well, this crocheted tunic is from the same book – the rowan story book of knits (except this isn’t knitted!). I ended up doing the 7/8 size with the 9/10 length, since a) Jade is very slim and b) despite getting gauge this is very wide. I took the armholes in a LOT more than they suggested (about 5 stitches either side) and it’s still a bit wide for her around her chest, but at least that means she’ll get years of wear out of it!

The colour is a little duskier than this, and please forgive the ends, but needed to grab a photo before i went to see her! I really like the shape and look of this pattern, but i think it’s flawed. next time i would definitely shape the armholes even more and make them not as deep.  (well, for jade anyway! she’s tiny!). Actually I’d quite like this as an adult pattern and i loved the lace