Saturday, 31 January 2015

Yarn splurge

Despite trying to stash less this year I have been a little naughty this past fortnight and splurged on a couple of bundles of yarn.

Firstly, I picked up 4 skeins of Madelinetosh DK Twist for $65 + postage from the FB destash group page, Australian Hand Dyed and Luxury Yarns Buy Sell Swap. This is a bargain for Madelinetosh and with 4 skeins I will have enough for a jumper for Miss L. 

Madelintosh DK Twist in Vermillion
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the world of yarn beyond what is stocked at Spotlight or Lincraft in Australia, Madelinetosh is a luxurious brand of yarn from the US. They hand dye their skeins of yarn into a multitude of delicious colours that are vibrant, unique and totally addictive. 
Madelintosh Tosh DK in Begonia Leaf
I knit with Tosh yarns twice last year and the yarn is so beautifully soft that it is a delight to work with and wear against the skin. My Mara shawl, knit with Tosh DK is the favourite item that I like to wear over my shoulders while I knit into the evening. Unfortunately when binding off I lost out in yardage chicken and had to patch in a different colour to finish the project. Because Madelinetosh hand dye their yarns in small batches each batch could be subtly different to other batches of the same colour. When I lost out in yardage chicken buying another skein wouldn't have been much different to just patching it with another yarn altogether since the colours could potentially be different anyway. Also, I didn't want to fork out another $25 for one skein when I only needed a few meters for the last little section of bind off.

Yardage chicken; sometimes you win and other times you lose and you just have to live with it.
The other yarn that I splurged on was from the Nunnaba Artisan Yarn's birthday suite. Nunnaba is an Australian indie dyer and her birthday suite brought together many of her indie dyer friends offering up yarns specially dyed for this occasion. I snapped up 2 skeins of gorgeous Red Riding Hood Yarns "Bubbles Darling!". Now, this purchase was seriously a splurge because it cost me $84NZD for the two 200g skeins of DK wool. 

I have a soft spot for RRHY because I have been following Hannah's weekly FB stockings for awhile and never been quite quick enough to snag the yarn before other buyers. Back in November I put in a preorder for some of her yarns and I'm still patiently waiting for it to be dyed and shipped. It might sound like a lot of effort just to get some yarn but seriously this stuff is magnificent. The colours are vibrant and unique and Hannah is so creative with the themes she uses and the colours she creates to match the characters from each theme. I'm waiting on some "Princess Leia" and "Gone Girl" skeins from the preorder which should be in my hot little hands by mid February.
Photo from Red Riding Hood Yarns
Ok, I now pledge to not buy any more yarn unless I am making a project from my make list that I cannot pair with anything from my existing stash. 
Photo from Red Riding Hood Yarns
 What tips do you have for not buying too much crafting supplies? or just going on splurges in general? 

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

"Uh oh, now she's sewing too..."

Yep, that's right I've picked up sewing and finished my first project.

While recently researching on The Purl Bee blog for a cute baby knitting pattern I came across this super cute bonnet, but I had one problem, I'm a knitter not a sew-er. However, I just couldn't resist because I just love bonnets - I think it's the Jane Austen-ness about bonnets that draws me to them. 

To solve my problem of being only a novice on the sewing machine I did a call out on FB for some help and very kindly one of my friends stepped up. I would not have succeeded in making this bonnet without her invaluable help. Being part of my church community has blessed me with the opportunity to learn from the many experienced crafters in our midst. I have plans to join the craft group this year with hopes that I can learn more as well as get to know some of the lovely ladies at church better.

I felt so lucky when I found this piece of Liberty of London fabric in the remnants box at Tessuti. I've got enough of the remnant left over for a couple more bonnets, so that's definitely a great score.

This first time project is a little rough around the edges. I struggled to sew the seams straight particularly on the bias strips and the finishing hand sewn seam is very rudimentary but I still love how it has come together. 

When I finally convinced Miss L to put it on for me to take some photos I squealed with delight at the cuteness overload. The bonnet fits perfectly and she looks so cute with it on - though of course I may be biased.

Now that I've conquered my first sewing project I look forward to making more clothing for my kids in the future. Although I think the husband will truly soon be saying, "Uh Oh, now she's sewing too.", as he sees our home slowly being taken over by my crafting.

If you have suggestions for other easy to make sewing projects feel free to link to their patterns in a comment.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Happy with High Water

A perfect fit for Sir S

I finished the High Water pullover for Sir S recently but had to wait for some cooler weather before I could convince him to try it on for some shots. Today's not too hot and I resorted to the ol' bribery, "I'll give you a whole Zooper Dooper if try this on and let Mummy take some photos.".

I always love photographing this little guy's facial expressions
One of the joys of this pattern was that the use of worsted weight yarn plus lots of stockinette stitch made it a very quick knit. The last pullover I knit for S took me about 7 months to complete because it was using fingering weight yarn and Miss L was born in the midst of it.

Other than the concerns that I have with the choice of green stripes because of S's colour blindness I did blunder up the right sleeve. When I got down to the rib cuff I realised that I was one stitch short and I have no idea how that happened; the most likely possibility is that I picked up one less stitch under the arm when I was starting the sleeve. Hence why I subtitled this blog, "the (mis)adventures of...", I always manage to make some little mistake in all my knits.

Of course he chose black buttons because it's a colour he is definitely able to see

Regardless of the missing stitch the jumper fits very well on my skinny mini and I am certain that it will last him this coming winter season.

This was the first time working with the Cascade 220 worsted yarn for me. It has really great stitch definition and a lovely springiness that holds the structure of the garment well. But, I was a little disappointed that it was not as soft to touch as I had hoped it would be. However, I read the comments on Ravelry and there are claims for other users that it softens with washing. Sir S has commented that it feels scratchy against his skin but I'm hoping that he will be able to wear a long sleeve baselayer in the winter with it to buffer his skin from the wool.

I made a MOD with the sleeve cuff because Sir S requested "sleeves like mittens". I knit in some thumb holes and made the whole cuff 10cm long (2cm more than the pattern suggestion). If I make thumb holes again I will try a different technique because I think my bind off, knit two rows and then cast back on method is a bit sloppy. Next time I will do it like a buttonhole with a K2tog then a yarn over in the next row.

roaring fun thumb holes

Overall, I love the stripes and the boat neck collar. I used exactly 2 skeins of the Cascade and just under 10g - approx. 14m according to Ravelry calculations - of the Spud & Chloe for the stripes. It felt good to stash bust some of this yarn that I had purchased so long ago.

I love the classic and simple stripes design

I look forward to the winter and taking some more photos of Sir S wearing this jumper while in action.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Babies need bonnets

My favourite thing to knit for new babies is a bonnet. I just finished one for our friends in Sydney who are expecting their first. 

For little girls my go to pattern is Melissa LaBarre's Crooked Little Baby Bonnet. The pattern is designed for worsted weight yarn to fit at 6-18 month but it also gives a suggested conversion for newborn babies. Melissa suggests by using sport weight yarn and using 3.75mm needles a bonnet sized 0-4 months can be achieved.

The first time I knit this I used some left over Quince & Co. Chickadee in Frost that I bought from my favourite online yarn store, yarn haus. Knit on the suggested 3.75mm needles the bonnet knit up into a tiny little slip of a thing. Though very cute I thought it would really only fit a small baby for a very short amount of time - because we all know how quickly those little bubs grow.

A tiny little bonnet knit in a 100% wool Quince & Co. yarn knit on 3.75mm needles

Since that first knit up I have made it twice and have upped the needles to 4mm for the bonnet and 3.25mm for the i-cord straps. I personally like the slightly larger fit that results from the larger needles.

Side by side the size difference is more discernible

I have also tried it with different yarns because now that we have moved into the Australia summer gifting a woolen bonnet is a little silly in my honest opinion. So, I've tried this pattern in two beautiful yarns that I purchased from my LYS, Sunspun in Canterbury. Debbie Bliss ecobaby cotton as well as some left over Skein Merino Silk Sport (a 50/50 merino silk composition that is just so luscious to touch).

Beautiful colourways and soft squishy yarn make Skein one of my favourite yarns to knit with

The cotton is ideal for the warmer temperatures but I didn't like the lack of springiness that cotton yarn is subject to. The bonnet is soft to touch and drapes nicely but I'd prefer it to hold shape a bit better since it is a hat after all.

This little cotton bonnet was ideal for a little December bub

The third time I knit it with the Skein Merino Silk Sport hoping that the springiness of the merino would help the hat hold it's shape. Now, after I have blocked it, my conclusion is that it worked really well in this yarn. There is a delicious softness that will make it lovely to wear against the skin and just enough spring to keep the shape of a hat. 

bonnet love

Just by knitting this pattern multiple times I have played around with sizing and yarn composition. This has given me the opportunity to learn more about matching the right yarn to my projects and how to make things bigger or smaller.

This pattern has really proven to be "third time the charm" and I have really enjoyed the experimenting and learning process that I have undergone each time I knit it.

The perfect little knit for a precious little baby girl

And the next time there is a boy baby to knit for I'll showcase my go to baby boy beanie pattern.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

"I like what I made, but do you?"

I've been pondering this last couple of days about my choices when making for others. I wonder if the things that I have gifted have actually been to the taste of the recipient or other factors such as is it suitable for the climate that my friend lives in. I am asking myself have I made a good colour choice? Do they even wear cowls? Isn't Texas too warm for a woolly beanie?

A lot of this questioning has arisen as I near the end of finishing the High water jumper for Sir S. I knit the stripes on this jumper with a beautiful grass green yarn but I am doubting my colour choice a bit now because we have suspicions that the dear boy is actually colour blind - particularly a reduced sensitivity to green.

I couldn't resist buying this beautifully soft yarn in a lovely vibrant green

We have suspected that Sir S is colour blind for about a year but I had bought this delicious green yarn long before this realisation and I had always intended the yarn for the stripes on this jumper. Now that I have finally started knitting it I wanted to avoid buying more yarn but unfortunately I don't have any thing else that is suitable for this pattern. 

 The stripes are so simple but such a classic touch 

I like the green stripes and I know that S will still wear the jumper regardless because he is excited that I made him something.  
Did a fit test today and the sizing is looking perfect

But, is it okay to just make what I like when I'm making for someone else? I'd like to hear some thoughts on this, so please comment.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Missy Minzy Cards

I love homemade goodies and I love them even more when they are produced by WAHM (work at home mums). I know the challenges of juggling a busy home life with little kids and I really admire those mums who are brave enough to add work into that. And for those mums who create and sell their own products I am at awe at their creativity, dedication and organisation.

Today I got some cards from a good friend of mine,Irene aka Missy Minzy. We caught up for a play at Bounce Inc. (which by the way is a fantastic way for little ones to burn off some energy) and she gave me these beautiful cards.

I only asked her yesterday if I could buy a set of cards off her since I needed a card for a birthday party we are attending this weekend. My lovely friend not only provided me with a set of cards she also made two fresh designs just for me. I am blown away by her creativity and touched that she worked hard overnight to make a new design for me.

Thanks Irene for the gorgeous cards. I can hardly bear to gift them to their recipients.

Missy Minzy products can be purchased from her Etsy store or at Down That Little Lane. Follow her on facebook and instagram too.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Making 2015

I recently read The Craft Sessions' post about her making list for 2015 and this inspired me to get organised with my own making/ knitting list for this year. Building on the fab year of knitting that 2014 was for me I hope that this year will be just as productive.

2015 Making List

Some general aims I have for this year are:
1) To stash less* and knit from my existing stash as much as possible.
2) To knit up those patterns that I have queued.
3) To finish those few projects that I hibernated a long time ago.
4) To give handmade = knitted gifts.
5) To keep trying new things and learning new skills.
6) and under the influence of ex-physio husband; to take care of myself physically as a knitter - stretching and resting the hands, shoulders and neck muscles regularly etc.

Finish Rye socks for Ba
High water for Sir S
Bonnet for Baby Cheng

Baby cardigan for A’s baby no.2
Livie for Miss L (birthday present)
beanie for Sir S (birthday present)

Mitini mitts for SIL** (birthday present)
Windschief for Bro  (birthday present)
Softie for Niece L (birthday present); needs to be sent to USA so I've got to work on it early.

Neon ski bonnet for me; in preparation for our snow trip.
Hat for hubby (anniversary present)
Neon ski bonnet for Miss L; because I want to make a matching hat for my little girl.

Finish Salander leggies for M; which is an overdue present from last year's birthday.
Bella Shawl or Span for me; I think either of these might be a good knit to travel with, but might turn out to be too ambitious.

Start Christmas projects; I know it sounds crazy but some of these presents need to be sent overseas so I better get onto them early.

Socks for BIL
Hat for SIL
Quaintly for Niece L

Scarf for SIL
Socks for Bro
Socks for Ba

Kinder teachers’ presents
cowl for Ma

Christmas stockings for the family

Phew, deep breath in and slowly out. That list looks pretty epic but I'm praying that I will achieve at least this much plus the extra birthday presents and baby presents that will pop up during the year.

Let the adventure begin, or more accurately continue because really there isn't a day where I don't knit.***

*The series of posts from The Craft Sessions about stashing less have been very inspiring and motivating me to exercise some restraint when it comes to yarn buying.

** Abbreviation for Sister-in-Law etc.

*** Except today because the humidity in Sydney is getting to me and I dislike working with yarn when my hands are clammy.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

High Water for Sir S

Today I'm just quickly sharing my current WIP (work in progress). Just before the end of 2014 I cast on a jumper for my boy who asked for one while he was watching me frantically try to complete all my Christmas knitting. I haven't knit much for him due to the fact that he is a typically grubby little boy and I don't want my precious woollies being covered in dirt and sand. But my heart melted when has asked me to knit him something.

The pattern is High Water designed by Veera Valimaki and I'm knitting with Silver Grey Cascade 220 worsted for main colour and some green Spud & Chloe Sweater for the stripes. I queued this pattern at least a year and a half ago and I'm excited to be finally taking it on. I also stashed this yarn a long time ago as well and I'm pleased to be doing some stash busting by finally using it for a project.

swatch and initial cast on

It's been a pleasure to knit so far. The joining of the front and back collar stumped me a little initially but if you knit it exactly as instructed it turns out perfectly. I've just separated the sleeves and the body and I'm happy to be taking this project with me as my travel knit while we spend a family holiday in Sydney this week. Since the body is just stockinette I hope it'll be fast knit. At the moment it's looking pretty plain in just the grey. I can't wait to add in the scrumptious Spud & Chloe.

If you want, you can check out my Ravelry notes here.