Knitting all the things

Knitting all the things

Since I haven’t felt like blogging much lately but have felt like knitting, I have a lot of things to post about. I feel like blogging is something that I can only do when my energy and enthusiasm is high. Sewing clothes for myself requires a lot of mental and emotional energy too. But knitting, knitting is comforting and easy most of the time, so I do that when my energy is low.

First up, here is a lovely big triangular scarf/shawl. This yarn was a gift from my lovely friend Kate who dyed the yarn herself! I love the subtle color gradations that she achieved. The yarn is 100% Australian merino in a 8ply/dk weight. The pattern is Herald by Janina Kallio. I do love her designs, they are lacy but modern and asymmetric which really appeals to me. This pattern is designed for 4ply/fingering yarn on 4.0mm needles so I upsized to 5.5mm which gave me the right texture and drape with the heavier yarn.

It makes a very snuggly, large scarf and I just love it.

Next up is a scarf that took 5.5 years to finish. I cast this on on Boxing Day 2010 when I was away at the beach with my extended family and I was a beginner knitter looking for a project to learn how to do yarn overs.

The pattern is a free one, Flame Chevron Scarf. It was really much more complicated than I needed at the time but it did the job of giving me good yarn over practice.The yarn is Bella Baby Layette a Spotlight yarn which is 80% bamboo and 20% wool. It’s not anything I’d choose these days much to does have a nice silky feel around my neck that is good for warmer weather.

Here’s a little pattern free hat that I made to knit up the one skein of handspun art yarn that I purchased at KnitFit last year.

I did a rolled brim, stockinette and decreased the crown evenly, nothing fancy. I swatched and then reused the swatch yarn, then basically knit the whole thing twice after my first attempt was wider than it needed to be but not deep enough. Such is life when you make up the pattern on the fly. I had only just enough yarn to get this hat out, with only a few inches left at the end.

I feel that is hat is a bit of a statement. A statement that says ‘I’m a fiber artist, and I don’t give a fig about fashion’. God knows that weird little purple sheep locks sticking out of your hat is not fashionable, but I absolutely adore this hat anyway, and will definitely wear it come winter.

And to finish off, here’s a little dress that I knocked together for Althea. The printed cotton fabric was a gift from my mother in law. Althea was going to a Girl Scout day camp where they have camp names, and she waned to be called Koala. So we made this dress up – a koala dress for Koala.

 

I traced the bodice pattern off a Hanna Andersson dress that she owns and the skirt is simply the whole width of the fabric on the front and back, and cut in half lengthwise. I would have liked to do some straightening and matching of the koala print but I didn’t have the fabric to spare – it is only just long enough using all the fabric. The sewing quality if this is not terrific, but Althea helped and sewed a few of the seams and it was ready in time, which was important to her.

So that’s what I’ve been up to lately!

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Granny’s Favourite cardigan for Tessa

Granny’s Favourite cardigan for Tessa

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We recently returned home to Australia for a month, and while we were there I finished off this little cotton cardigan for Tessa. This was a good thing since summer was definitely not over yet, and there were some rather blistering temperatures, to which, it seems, I am no longer accustomed.

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The pattern is Granny’s Favourite by Georgie Hallam (now Georgie Nicolson) and it is indeed a big favourite, having over 1000 Ravelry projects. In fact I made this for Tessa before:

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Here she is at 7 days old wearing the 15″ chest size, knit in Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 8ply which I hand dyed. The hat was a lovely gift.

This time I made the 21″ chest and the 24 month full length sleeves and body, and the fit is good. This is a well designed pattern and includes nice finishing details, I would definitely recommend it if you like this classic style.

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The buttons are from my Mother-in-law’s button tin and I love them. The yarn is Bendigo Woollen Mills Cotton 8ply in parchment. It’s very smooth and pleasant to knit.

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The neck has stretched out a bit with wearing. Such is the nature of cotton yarn. I was pleased to have finished this so Tessa could wear it in Australia, and I’m sure that it will still fit through the coming US summer as well.

Here is my little girl who has just turned two in the dress that I made for her big sister’s 2nd birthday.

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I’m really happy that it’s getting a second life. Happy birthday Tessa!

 

2016 reflections

2016 reflections

I’m sitting here with coffee and sourdough toast, and it’s 6am on the first of January – I guess it’s time for reflections. After 2014’s year of massive change (having a third baby, moving across the world), I consider 2015 a year of consolidation. In 2015 Althea became much happier at school and has some lovely friends, Julian started at a new, friendly co-op preschool, and Tessa turned into a talking, walking toddler. My Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is finally under control and stable, and I guess I’ve settled into, and accepted, my role as a stay at home parent of three children at this time.

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We managed to get our entire family able to bike ride together – Althea on her own bike with gears and the younger two in a trailer, which is really, really heavy to pull especially since it’s so hilly here, but for someone who used to love her daily cycle commute, being able to take a family Sunday morning bike ride is a big achievement.

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I managed to get into a great lap swimming routine, two evening a week, then it fell apart. I joined a great choir, then it fell apart. That’s ok. I’m starting with a new choir next week, and I’m going to try to set up a home yoga routine, starting with a 30 day yoga camp.

My sewing mojo just disappeared this year, but my knitting mojo fired, probably partly because of my awesome Sunday knitting group. Such an interesting group of women – I’m so lucky to have found them. I did manage to sew a few things including a pieced duvet cover for Althea’s birthday in September. Since Santa brought me an automatic buttonhole foot for Christmas it might actually get it’s button closures some time soon.

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This dress/skirt for Althea is my favorite piece of sewn clothing for the year.

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This skirt is one of the few useful bits of clothing I made for myself this year. I made a lot of duds.

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I made my first Customfit sweater this year which I am very, very happy with. It’s a bit short but is still a great fit improvement on every other sweater I’ve ever knit. I have almost finished my second Customfit, it’s an alpaca Foyle’s cardigan. I am so determined to have it finished while winter is still in full swing – it’s going to be warm.

A wearable sweater – huzzah!

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I’m pretty proud of this Welcome to the Flock set I made for Tessa.

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Baa-able hat for Julian

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The lace required a lot of concentration but I’m so proud of this alpaca Rosewater hat.

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We had three lots of Australian visitors in 2015, my mother-in-law in March, my dear friend in August and my sisters in December. This was just so wonderful and I’m so grateful that they all gave up so my of their time and money to cross the vast Pacific Ocean to see us.

The beautiful rose garden in Portland, Oregon, that I visited with my friend Kate.

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I also survived the three month summer school vacation which was, well, pretty challenging. Our house was very hot, with no cooling and we had quite a few nights when it was too hot to sleep. Three months of being the sole source of entertainment for three children was tough, even with a few activities (holiday programs/day camps) thrown in. I also eventually calmed down when taking taking my three little drowning hazards swimming in the lake. We only took a two day/one night weekend away to Mt Rainier. Next summer we’ll definitely try for more.

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I’m looking forward to 2016. We are taking out first trip back to Australia since we moved here, and it’s going to be timed for sunshine and Womadelaide! It’s going to be bittersweet seeing all our dear friends again and then leaving though. Hopefully summer will be less exhausting.  Julian is starting school in September and Althea is changing schools. I’m going to try Tessa out with a few hours of preschool. Hopefully full nights of sleep will materialize. I’m not going to make crafting goals, as that is too much pressure for me. Crafting fits around the other non-negoitatable things in my life. I make things as the mood takes me, catching the sparks of joy.

A baby in January, a toddler in December 2015.

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Wishing you all the very best in 2016. Another year, another adventure.

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Nighties for Althea – fairy and granny

I would be perfectly happy for my daughter to wear pyjamas as nightwear but unfortunately she was gifted a totally hideous 100% polyester Barbie (shudder) nightie. This became her favourite thing ever and had to actively confiscated to get it washed. So when it became too small I hid it (mean Mummy that I am) and the requests for more nighties started. Crazily enough I discovered that they are not easily available – I mean Target don’t sell any in her size! It’s onesies, pyjamas or nothing.

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I had been gifted this fairy printed interlock and matching ribbing by my aunt, who had intended it for a nightie for Althea but had never got around to making it. While heavily pregnant I thought this this might be a quick and easy project, scoured my Ottobre magazines for a suitable pattern and ta da! fairy nightie (much preferable to Barbie, and the fabric feels like it has at some cotton content).

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The pattern is Ottobre 3/2012 – 34 Jungle Stripes, a knit dress for older girls. I made the size 134 and added 3cm to the length. It is still very short, mid thigh, the photos don’t really show the true length. It’s also quite a snug fit through the shoulders, so although it fits she’s not going to get very much wear out of it, especially as the weather has cooled down so much now.

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I got Althea to help me trace and cut the pattern, after which she lost interest in this being a mummy-daughter project. The pattern has raglan sleeves, cute pleats at the front and back neck and elastic casings around the neckline and sleeves. I hemmed it with a multistep zigzag.

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Unfortunately my Ottobre collection did not contain a suitable winter nightie pattern, I was unable to find a downloadable pattern larger than a girls size 8, and so I had to purchase a big 4 pattern from Spotlight. Enter Simplicity 1569. Even though daggy granny nightwear is a Big 4 speciality there is not a lot of choice past a size 8 there either. The fabric was also from Spotlight and is of an abysmal quality. I felt terribly annoyed sewing with it knowing that it is not going to last long, but sadly Spotlight and Lincraft are the ONLY purveyors of printed flannelette in Australia. The smaller , better quality online and bricks and mortar stores don’t stock such a pedestrian stuff.  I felt sick when I discovered 1499 items listed for cotton flannel fabric at fabric.com. But I’m not paying for transPacific postage for printed flannelette!

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You can see the loose weave.

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So the nightie was pretty quick and easy to sew (good as I have a newborn) and Althea is super pleased with it. However….this pattern is everything I hate about big 4 patterns:

* the stupid fragile tissue paper. So annoying. Requires ironing flat. So hard to trace. I ended up cutting out her size because I really couldn’t be bothered which is such a waste of a multisize pattern that I will probably want to use again.

*Crazy amounts of wearing ease, and too much ease in the sleeve cap.

* Stupidly bad fit. I made the size 8 which is for a child 132cm tall, Althea is 135cm tall and it is FLOOR LENGTH. (The pattern envelope illustration is also misleading as the view C nightie is shown as mid calf length -it’s not).  The sleeves and yoke seem to be right for her size though. I was planning to make the 10 but once I saw the pattern pieces I sized down.

*Terrible instructions – I mean who would pin, baste and then sew, and then NOT finish the seam.  Needless to say I sewed the sleeves in flat, not in the round as instructed, I used 12mm bias binding to finish the neckline not 25mm, and closed the neckline with a press stud not a button and loop.

Anyway Althea’s very happy and I might even sew her another winter nightie soon. And I feel better having ranted at the interwebs!

Owl dress for Althea

I’m so happy to have snatched the time to post this – Tessa is actually asleep in the bassinet!!! not on me!! Actually this dress for Althea was sewed entirely in Tessa’s second week of life. Then on day 12 she woke up and, well, I’ve had almost no time to sew since then.

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The pattern is Farbemix Muriel in size 134/140. It is a smidge big as Althea is about 134cm, but I am happy with that as it should last her a while.

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I have made this dress for her many times before, it is one of my favourite patterns, and seems to work well from toddlers to older girls. I used bias tape to finish the neckline and arm holes, and did a centred back zip. The fabric was denim from the stash, left over from a skirt I made myself I think. Althea’s getting so tall that it’s hard to get dresses out of remnants for her any more.

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The owl appliqué is an iron-on transfer from Spotlight, and we chose coordinating ricrac and ribbon. I am quite pleased with the effect, and am super glad that my big six year old is not past such decorative styles yet!

 

Rainbow hats!

Well I’ve finally succumbed to the matching thing and have made my children coordinating rainbow hats!

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The pattern is Luuk by Annis Jones the Woolen Horse, and the yarn is Knit Picks Chroma Worsted in the colourway Prism. I was basically inspired by a Ravelry project I found (here) and copied gluecksfisch’s pattern and yarn combination.

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The smallest hat is the 0-3 month size with the smaller bobble- it looks absolutely tiny! I made Julian (2.5 years, 51cm head) the Child 20″ size and it’s a very snug fit.

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(Two year olds – not the keenest photo models).

For Althea (6.5 years, 54.5cm head) I made the Adult 22″ size and the fit is pretty good. I did the big bobbles on both of the larger hats. Bobbles seem little crazy but I think they really make this style!

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(She would only model the hat if she got to show off her sticker art – cooperative kiddies aren’t they?)

The pattern was great – the alternating ridges really show off the gradient rainbow colours and it’s a bit more interesting than just a plain hat. This pattern has ‘purl front and back’ which was a new stitch for me and is darn fiddly.

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I’m really pleased with these hats and am planning to make one more in the 6-12 month size as I expect that the tiny hat will fit for about two weeks and may not even get worn as, well, a worsted weight woollen hat is not really what a March/April baby in a temperate climate is really going to need. I wasn’t quite able to cast on four practically identical hats in a row though – I’m attempting to cast on (third attempt now) a hat for me, and after that I’ll be back to fuzzy rainbow goodness!

A cardigan for the upcoming baby

So finally at 37 weeks I have finished a knitted garment for the upcoming bub.

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The pattern is Granny’s favourite by Georgie Hallam. I knit the 16″ chest or 3 month size, with middie length sleeves and approximately dress length body, though in actual fact I just knit until I ran out of yarn. We will see how it fits in due course but it does seem quite short and wide. My gauge after blocking was slightly too loose 22.5 or 23 stitches per 10cm, not the 22 stitches stated so that might be part of the problem.

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I enjoyed knitting this pattern, and it introduced me to a new technique – make one, using a simple backwards loop. I just googled for a youtube video as per usual.

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The yarn is Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 8ply that I dyed myself. This skein was originally intended to be a hat for Althea but I was just never really inspired to knit that. The yarn was dyed twice, once as a multicolour which was awful, then overdyed as a solid (the post about that is here). The result is a semi-solid, and I am quite pleased about how it looks knitted up. I don’t think that the colour changes detract from the lace pattern.

The buttons are plastic ones from Spotlight, I had to use reasonably large ones to keep the cardigan securely closed even though they are only yarn over buttonholes.

I have been gifted several other gorgeous hand kits for this baby – I are so lucky and my knitting friends have been very generous. But I am also pleased to have been able to make something myself. It gives me that good mama feeling, which can be a bit precious and fleeting amid the crazy chaos of family life!