Sunday, 29 March 2015

Finish object file: Moto Vest for Woolful KAL

No shots of me wearing it yet because I'm just no good with selfies.
In my last post I wrote about my progress on Shelli Wescott's Moto Vest and today I'm pleased to say the vest has been finished, blocked and worn. 

I took on this project as a quick knit after I finished all the projects I listed for March on my making list. Ashley Yousling's Woolful blog was hosting a knitalong with this pattern and I wanted to take on the challenge and join in for my first knitalong.

I thoroughly enjoyed knitting this and I also enjoyed looking at the other finished objects as they were posted on the Ravelry discussion thread and instagram (via #woolfulKAL). Each person who has knit this vest has done it with their own flair. Though the pattern was originally designed for bulky yarn Shelli also posted many mods for different yarn weights on her Knitterly blog. Other ways that it could be adapted were the length of the vest, the width of the back and even doing away with the K2, P2 rib and knitting an entirely different stitch pattern.

The length of this vest falls at the hips beautifully.
I knit scarf styled front to about 52" long and went for a thinner back that was about 8" wide. In my last post I mentioned that I wanted to make the bottom of the back wider by doing some increases but with Miss L being very sick this week and needing a lot of attention I went with the mindless knitting option and kept it at the same width. Once I seamed the back together with the front it pulled the ribbing out wider anyway and I found that pleasing enough.

In my humble opinion, the combination of 1 strand Isager Alpaca 2 and 1 strand of Sport weight RRHY worked really well. I like the marled effect that the grey alpaca yarn gives to the handdyed blue yarn.  Gladly, I think the colour is very wearable with jeans and many of the tops in my wardrobe.

This spot of 'me' knitting was very satisfying and I am pleased to be adding this item to my handmade wardrobe. I want to be making more items for my wardrobe in the near future and trying to wear more handmade in the everyday too.

Now, onto my April knitting - read my making list post to see what I've got set out for this year. I've got a few birthday presents to whip up this month for family members and as we approach winter I look forward to knitting some warm woollies for them.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

On my needles now - Moto Vest

Moto Vest on my needles 
Today I've got a little sickie in the house so no 'What to knit Wednesday' post today but I thought I could quickly share my current project.

A couple of weeks ago when I posted about the Dragon Aviatrix that I made for Sir S I briefly mentioned at the end that I was taking some time for a bit of 'me' knitting and had cast on the Knitterly's Moto Vest for the Woolful March KAL. The pattern is for a beautiful trans-seasonal open cardigan styled vest that is knit with bulky yarn. I was hoping that it would be a quick knit since I started mid-March after I had finished the birthday knits for the kids.

It has truly been a nice feeling to be knitting for myself for this project. The last object I finished for myself was months ago; even before I started the gifts for last Christmas. As much as a love knitting for others, and it was the desire to knit for my baby that motivated me to rediscover the craft in the first place, I do recommend a bit of 'me' knitting as necessary in the making schedule. Knitting something for yourself can be a form of therapy. It can bring pleasure and excitement to your day when you work with beautiful materials that you have hand selected for yourself, on a project that you are personally crafting for yourself.

So, for this Moto Vest, I have selected some sport weight/ 5 ply superwash merino that was hand dyed by Red Riding Hood Yarns in the 'Gone Girl' colourway and I paired it with a grey fingering weight/ 4ply alpaca/wool blend from Isager. By holding one strand of each yarn I am creating a thicker yarn that will knit up quicker and the grey paired with the blues of the RRHY gives the piece a marled look. It was a total experiment and I wasn't sure if it would work out but as I kept going I really liked the effect.

'Gone Girl' Sport weight RRHY and Grey Alpaca 2 Isager yarn
When I saw the pattern for this project I noticed that it has a very similar shape to a vest that I bought last winter from Metalicus. It is a beautiful drapey cardigan vest that can be worn right way up and upside down to give two different looks. This is a favourite piece from my wardrobe despite it being store bought and containing only a small percentage of wool. As I knit this vest I am drawing inspiration from that vest. The Moto Vest designer, Shelli Westcott herself has knit this pattern multiple times and made it differently each time. It is such an easy pattern to adapt and change to the knitter's liking.

Wearing the vest right way up
Now wearing it upside down and open
Upside down buttoned up gives it a snuggly cowl like collar
I have just started on the back section after knitting the scarf to 52" in length which will give me a vest slightly shorter than the Metalicus one. I want a narrower back between the shoulder blades but am toying with the idea of adding some increases as I work further down to widen the bottom. I haven't quite worked out how I will do this but I'll explain all my MODS in a finished object file later on.

Now I'm off to give my little sickie a cuddle. Happy knitting, friends. Tell me, what's on your needles right now?

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

What to knit Wednesday: girl sweaters

It may have been forecast for 28 degrees Celsius today but it was still cool enough for a cardigan in the morning.
As we approach the cooler months of the year in Australia I want to talk girl sweaters in this week's post for 'What to knit Wednesday'. It is with a slight feeling of guilt that I realise I have knitted more for my daughter than for my son but it is because I have knitted more for her that I can compose a list of 5 patterns of girl sweaters (pullovers and cardigans).

1. Livie designed by Carrie Bostick Hoge.
I wrote about this gorgeous cardigan in a 'Finished object file' post a couple of weeks ago and you can read about it there. I love this pattern and I will probably knit it again when Miss L grows out of her current one.

Keeping cosy at the park in Camilla Babe
2. Camilla Babe designed by Carrie Bostick Hoge.
As you can guess I am a bit in love with Carrie's designs which is totally understandable once you have a look at her patterns from her blog. I knit the Camilla Babe as Miss L's winter pullover last year and I made it a generous fit so I am certain to get another year's wear out of it. Knit with a simple fan pattern set within garter stitch this pullover is the perfect balance of an everyday sweater with a little bit of fancy for a special outfit too.

Carrie designed this pullover to be knit seamlessly from the bottom up and it was easily adapted to make the size larger. I added 3 extra sets of the fan pattern before dividing the piece for the armholes to give the jumper a longer body and I knit longer sleeves that I rolled up a little last year. Take a look at my Ravelry project notes for more detailed MODs.

It was such a lovely cosy jumper for Miss L last year and I am glad that we get to keep wearing it this year too.

Technically not a sweater, but when Miss L went through a stage where she hated putting her arm through sleeves, I decided that a poncho would be the solution. I first came across this pattern when I was searching on Etsy for a handmade poncho and I noticed that a few different sellers were making this poncho. Then I had a light bulb moment, "Maybe I can find this pattern and make it myself." and I hit the jackpot. Not only did I find this pattern it was also available as a free download.

As far as designs go it couldn't get easier or quicker than this pattern
This pattern is incredibly easy and a very quick knit. Using super bulky yarn and 8mm needles it only took me a week and a half to finish it. Again, I am getting heaps of wear out of it because it easily drapes over the shoulders and has just gotten shorter and shorter as Miss L has grown. Initially I thought some arm slots would be good on the poncho because the length equaled Miss L's entire body, but now that it is short enough to just sit over the elbows it does perfectly well without arm slots.

Miss L's Everyday top was worn nearly everyday of her first winter
4. Everday top by Anna and Heidi Pickles.
This pullover is exactly what it's name suggests; an every day top. The Pickles girls designed this with simplicity and warmth in mind, much like most of their designs. By choosing some luscious high quality yarn to knit it with, it becomes that special hand knit item that is a joy to wear every day.

Knit seamlessly in the round from the top down the pattern is offered in size 6-12 months for free from the Pickles blog or you can buy the pattern and have all the sizes from 6 month to 8 years. The purchased pattern also has instructions to make a long sleeved boy version of the every day top which I haven't had a go at yet but since the sizes are all the way up to 8 years I can still make it for Sir S next year.

5. Wee Melia designed by Ysolda Teague.
This is one of my queued projects and I've even purchase the yarn for it. I love it because every little girl needs a little red hooded outfit. This beautiful jacket has a lovely honeycomb border to give it that special look and the simple single button clasp makes it a easy to put on garment just like the Livie cardigan.

Image source: Ysolda Teague
I have set aside some beautiful Cephalopod Traveller DK yarn in Gallifrey colour way; this yarn is a discontinued range because Cephalopod was an indie dyer who stopped dying due to health reasons. I'm glad I snapped up this yarn and I will enjoy knitting with it for this pattern.

Gallifrey is the perfect colour way for a Doctor Who fan.
Share your favourite girl sweaters. What have you knit and loved?

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Finished object files: Dragon Aviatrix | Cleckheaton Superfine Merino

He's so chuffed with his dragon hat that he's proudly telling people his mum made it for him.
For my big boy's birthday this year I knit him a dragon hat. He is a big fan of the 'How to train your dragon' movie and has been asking me for a 'Toothless' costume and I'm not quite ready to try my hand at sewing a dragon costume yet so I stuck to what I know best, knitting. 

To make this hat I knit a large child sized 'Aviatrix' hat and then knit a set of spikes that I then whip stitched onto the hat. If you read my 'top 5 baby hats' post earlier in the week you will have read my thoughts on the pattern. I chose this over other dinosaur/ dragon hat patterns that are on Ravelry because I love the earflaps and the shaping of this hat. I also thought that the hat's design of stockinette stitch sections bordered by a row of garter would be perfect sections for each of the spikes. To knit the spikes I took the stitch pattern the 'the ninja herself' blog and before I stitched the them onto the hat I stuffed my yarn tails into the triangles to puff them up a bit.

The hat is knit in black because that is the young sir's favourite colour and I suspect he likes it because with his colour blindness, black is the one colour that he feels confident he sees it correctly. But, if I was going to knit something in such a boring colour I decided to choose something nice to knit with, so I picked Cleckheaton's new Australian Superfine Merino. This is a seriously soft and bouncy yarn and it is so good to see Australian farmers producing such a magnificent fiber. I used up 1 whole ball for the hat so I knit the spikes with some black acrylic. The difference between the textures is quite obvious but since the spikes were not going to be worn against the skin anyway I decided to go with it.

Just need to add this mask and the costume will be perfect. Image source: MyBFC
I know that the hat doesn't really look anything like 'Toothless' from the film but I found this really cute mask on Etsy and if Sir S wears the mask with the hat together I think it will give a pretty accurate picture.

With the completion of this project, I have crossed off all the items from my Feb/Mar make list. However, I'm not going to get cracking into my April projects just yet because I want to take some time to work on a 'me' project. I realise that I've been knitting gifts since I started last year's Christmas knitting and that the last thing I knitted for myself was my Mara shawl. So, I've cast on a Moto Vest for the March Woolful KAL (knitalong). I'll write more about this later but suffice to say this little bit of 'me' knitting is quite soothing for the soul.

Do you too find that you knit more gifts than projects for yourself? How do you achieve a balance between gifts and 'me' projects?

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

What to knit Wednesday: Baby Hats

Another Crooked Little Baby Hat
Today's 'What to knit Wednesday' post is about baby hats. In my friendship circle there have been a LOT of babies in the past 4 years and during the past year I have endeavoured to give handmade items to these babies rather than buying stuff. Small items being the quickest projects, I have spent my time busily knitting bonnets and hats for these little humans and here is my list of 5 patterns that are my go to head warmers.

1. The Crooked Little Baby Bonnet designed by Melissa LaBarre.
I have blogged about this pattern before and it is my go to item for little girls. I won't harp on about it again but do read the post on what I love about this pattern here.

A newborn size Aviatrix
2. Aviatrix designed by Justine Turner.
This is my go to bonnet for little boys. Justine offers this pattern on Ravelry for free and she has designed it for multiple sizes and multiple yarn weights. Knit flat but using short rows to shape the crown of the hat, this pattern is enjoyable for it's clever design as well as it's cute aviator style. Though I generally do love this pattern, I do modify it by knitting a pair of i-cord straps rather than following the designed chin strap.

Recently I have knit a big child size aviatrix for my boy as a 5th birthday present. He is a bit dragon mad so I knit some spikes to sew onto the hat. The stocking stitch sections lend itself perfectly to having spikes sewn on and instantly it becomes a dragon hat. It is worth mentioning that I found the pattern for the spikes from 'The Ninja Herself' blog.

Baby Bear Hat knit with Malabrigo Worsted
3. Baby Bear Hat designed by Jennifer Dickerson.
For those Winter born bubs I like to gift them this little Baby Bear Hat to make them look even cuter than their natural babyness. Jennifer generously offer this pattern for free on her blog, Fiber Flux and has multiple sizes available. Nobody can resist a baby in a bear hat.

This Garter Ear Flap Hat is just too cute with it's little tassel on top.
I recently knit this for a friend's little girl to wear this coming winter. Garter stitch is so commonly used for baby items because it is a classic look but it will also be a cosier garment because of the denser fabric that the stitch creates. 

This Purl Soho pattern is also free on their Purl Bee blog and it too comes in multiple sizes. The hat is knit in the round and short rows are used to create the ear flaps; no seaming is required at all. The addition of the little tassel on top is just a sweet little touch that makes this pattern all the more appealing.

Image source: Pickles blog
5. Cool Kid Hooded Hat from the Pickles blog.
Yet another free pattern, the smallest size that this comes in is 6-12 months, so not exactly newborn gifting but it is such a cute knit that I felt it worth mentioning in this post. Knit with DK/ 8ply weight yarn held double it is a super warm hat that is designed to not be easily pulled off. When the fit is right the hood will wrap snuggly around the child's face and the extra section that comes down the neck to cover the shoulders will challenge the most Houdini like child. The Pickles blog is written by Norwegian designers Anna and Heidi Pickles and you can probably guess why they have designed such a cosy baby knit - if it's not obvious, think about how low the temperatures will get during a Norwegian Winter.

The classic garter stitch paired with contrasting stripes and hood edge is a winning combination in my humble opinion. The one I knit for Miss L in 1-2 year old size was still a bit big last year and looked more like a mini poncho but it was such an easy thing to throw on her when we headed out the door during those cold months.

So here we are 5 super cute bonnets or hats to keep tiny heads warm. Please share your favourite baby hat patterns. Or tell me what features do you look for in hats for kids? Ear flaps? Chin ties or straps? Pom poms on top?

It is worth mentioning, that since multiple sizes are offered for these patterns (other than The Crooked Little Baby Bonnet and the Cool Kid Hooded Hat is only up to size 6) you can knit a family set of these hats if it so takes your fancy. I'd love to see a family of Garter Ear Flap hats one day so get knitting friends.

-- On a side note: The Purl Bee blog and the Pickles blog are both worth a look at if you are looking for some well designed patterns. Both blogs offer a number of their designs for free; the Pickles girls will generally offer one size for free and have purchase details for other sizes. Patterns are of varying skill levels but all are very well explained and often provide links to tutorials for their more complicated steps. Patterns are of all categories from garments for babies to homewares. Check them out if you haven't already come across them.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Finished object files: Livie cardigan | SofTrope Worsted

Finished this Livie just in time for Miss L's birthday on Monday
For this whole week I've been walking around with my completed Livie cardigan taking every opportunity I get to show it off. I proudly pulled it out for others to admire at playgroup, at my ministry wives group, over a cuppa before Miss L's Leaping Lizard's class, at my mum's place and at Buttonmania while I was shopping for the perfect button to pair it with. Suffice to say I love it and I want everyone else to love it too.

The things I love about it is firstly the design. It's simplicity is appealing to me because it gives it a classic and timeless look. I have a vague hope in my heart that these pieces will be worn by my future generations and still look as stylish as it does today. However, though simple I find the asymmetry of the front a bit funky and lovely to look at.

I also love how it's just one button. I find sewing buttons a fiddly job and trying to button up clothing on a wriggly toddler even more fiddly. So, one beautiful button is perfect for this piece and for every day wear. I even went to the effort of shopping at Buttonmania rather then just settling for a Lincraft/ Spotlight button.

To finish my love of this piece I also loved knitting it. I am such a fan of Carrie Bostick Hoge's Madder designs and this is the fourth pattern of hers that I have knit. Carrie's pattern's are so well explained and the designs have been different each time. She doesn't use the same seamless raglan construction every pattern and she incorporates many different techniques which I have enjoyed learning as I knit her work up.

Other than loving the pattern I love the yarn too. Originally I had intended to use the suggested yarn, The Fiber Company's Canopy Worsted in Quetzal but when I pulled it out to cast on I decided that the colour looked too masculine for a little girl's cardigan. I um-ed and ah-ed about it for a day or two but I decided that I wanted to knit this cardigan for Miss L in a yarn that I loved without any doubt. Therefore, I pulled out these two skeins of SofTrope worsted that I had been keeping for a rainy day. Actually I had always intended to knit this yarn up into something for Miss L so this cardigan became the perfect opportunity.

Forgive the photo with the borek, sometimes you just can't get kids to sit still without given them food.
The colourway is 'Luminal' and I don't even know if that is a real word. The yarn has beautiful soft variegated pinks and though I normally avoid pink clothing for my girl I love how this yarn has been dyed. The other thing I love about it is that it is a superwash merino. I have decided to try to use superwash yarns when knitting for the kids. I think the processing of the fibre to make it 'superwash' hardens it up a bit and makes it less easy to pill. When I knit the Camilla Babe for Miss L last winter I used the buttery soft Swan Islands Organic Merino Worsted yarn and though it is the most lovely thing to wear against the skin I find that it has pilled a lot because of the constant abrasion it experiences when I carry Miss L. Maybe when she is a little older and asks for fewer 'Up please's I can forgo the superwash again.

In my enthusiasm to finish this and get it on my daughter I neglected to block it. Now looking at it I think it could do with a block just to give it a little more ease in the fit. It fits perfectly right now and I know that we'll get this winter out of it but I wonder if we'll get to see it again next year. Oh well, it's not really a problem because I will knit something for the kids to wear each season so it's not like she'll be needing it next year anyway.

What is your opinion when it comes to blocking? Is it a cardinal sin to not block finished knitting?

Alrighty now, Miss L's birthday knitting is done and now to finish off the piece for Sir S and then I might give myself a bit of a knitting Sabbath, just for a day. 

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

What to knit Wednesday: Shawls

The 'Mara' shawl is a great staple wardrobe item
It's time for another 'What to knit Wednesday' post and today I thought I would talk shawls because I was recently asked by a church friend to knit a shawl for her - a commissioned project. To be honest I have only ever completed 2 shawls and I currently have one in the works but here are some patterns that I love.

1. You can't go past the classic style of the Mara shawl. This is a free Madelinetosh pattern that is designed for DK weight yarn but gauge is not as important with shawls so you can easily adapt it for another yarn weight without needing to swatch.

I knit it with the suggested yarn and followed the guide, buying 3 skeins of Madelinetosh Tosh DK. I must have misread my measurements because I ran out of yarn to bind off and had to patch it with some scrap yarn of a similar colour but the same weight.

Regardless, I love this shawl and I love this yarn. It's simple garter stitch pattern makes it a perfect everyday item and a staple of my wardrobe.

I knit this Hyla Brook for my mum last Christmas
2. The second shawl that I knit was for my mum last Christmas. I knit her a 'Hyla Brook' designed by Paula Emons-Fuessle using some Quince & Co. Tern. However, I was short of 2 skeins so the shawl turned out more like a shawlette. I love this pattern because even though it is a fingering weight knit it worked up pretty quickly with an easily memorised pattern. Another great thing about this pattern is that Paula has also created a checklist to help keep track of row counts and the percentage completed. So, because I didn't have a full 2 skeins I could use the checklist to track how far from the end I was and judge whether I needed to cast off early since I was running out of yarn.

3. On my needles right now is a 'The Age of Brass and Steam' shawl by Orange Flower Yarn. I'm pairing this with 1 skein of Australian independent dyer, Augustbird's gradient 8ply. This is my third attempt to use this yarn because it is not easy to find a pattern that will showcase a gradient yarn best. I'm hoping that this shawl will be a good pattern because according to Ravelry it only needs up to 240 yards/ 219 metres of DK weight yarn. 1 skein of the Augustbird 8ply has 258 yards/ 236 metres so theoretically when I knit up this shawl I will be able to go through each of the gradient colour transitions.

Augustbird White Gum Wool 8ply in 'Allegro' colourway and the pattern for the 'Bella' shawl in the background
4. I initially hoped to use the gradient yarn to knit a 'Bella' shawl. I even got so far as casting on and knitting the first 20 rows or so before I realised that this pattern was not knitting this shawl top down but actually starting at the bottom left hand corner and knitting across. I decided to frog it because I didn't want my gradient going diagonally up from the left hand corner. What I needed was a top down pattern for a triangle shawl if I wanted to maximise the visual effect of the gradient.

However, all is not wasted with this pattern. When I gave my friend some shawl patterns to choose from she has chosen this 'Bella' pattern. So, I'm quite excited that I will still be able to knit this and learn some new techniques while I'm being commissioned to make it.

5. My fifth shawl pattern is Alicia Plummer's 'Campside' pattern. She designed this as a free pattern for Pompom magazine's blog last year and it is a generous sized triangle shawl that incorporates 3 different lace eyelet designs. I wanted to knit this with the gradient yarn but it needs a whopping 780 yards/ 713 metres of DK weight yarn and that meant I would need 3 skeins of the Augustbird gradient. I wanted the gradient to transition once through each colour so that meant that I would have to keep alternating the three skeins every couple of rows and I in the end I was turned off by how cumbersome that was going to be.

Some 'Bubbles Darling'
For now I have queued this project and I think I might knit it up with the 2 skeins of 'Bubbles Darling' Red Riding Hood Yarns that I picked up at the Nunnaba birthday sale.

As you can see I've got some shawl knitting ahead of me. You may think when am I going to wear all these shawls but I'm starting to see a correlation between being a yarn addict and a shawl addict - it's a bit of a reoccurring trend in many of the other crafty/ knitterly bloggers that I follow.

What are your favourite shawl patterns?

I also have 2 skeins of the Augustbird gradient left after I knit the 'Brass and Steam' shawl, so, please share your pattern suggestions for gradients too.

Sunday, 1 March 2015


My little basket of goodies for craftworks today
This afternoon I had the privilege to craft with some very talented and lovely ladies from church. Though our family has been at St Mark's Camberwell for a year now this was the first time that I made it along to the craft group that is quaintly named 'Craftworks'.

Not only was it my first time at the group but it was also my first time crafting in a social group. I mostly do my knitting at home on my own after the kids are asleep and I often find this quite lonely. Not many of my close friends knit or sew and those who do aren't obsessive about it like I am. Hence, it was so refreshing to be at a craft group today.

I also found it such a pleasure to be able to spend some time with this group of ladies who I don't normally get the chance to interact with at church. Being a young mum I generally spend time speaking to the other parents but today was such a blessing. I am excited to get to know these ladies more and to learn not only more about crafting from them but also gaining life wisdom too. These ladies are mothers and grandmothers and they have all had an interesting life and faith journey and I truly believe it is a privilege to journey alongside them while we craft.

Do you attend a craft group? How did you discover it? What do you enjoy most about your group?