Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Finished object file: MAE doll

All ready to go to be cuddled by my niece.
Recently I wrote about making this little doll to send to my niece in America for her 2nd birthday. It took me longer to finish it than I anticipated but I got there in the end and she's ready to be sent off tomorrow.

In my earlier post I explained that a MAE doll is a 'make and embellish' doll. The pattern of the doll is printed onto cotton and all that needs to be done is cut it out, sew it together and stuff it. This cute doll is designed by Jhoanna Aranez and she made it so easy with super clear sewing instructions and even an awesome YouTube video tutorial.

Sir S as my little helper.
After I cut and stitched the doll, Sir S helped with the stuffing and I only took over when he found the legs and arms too tricky. I finished the stitching by hand and though it is a bit rough around the edges I am pretty chuffed with the result.

I hope my little niece is going to enjoy this gift. If she really cherishes this doll I can accessorise her in the years to come. I can imagine a little knitted shawl or scarf to start with and who knows what else.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

What to knit Wednesday: Essential Winter Accessories

I'm keeping rugged up to keep out the winter chill.
When I look at the forecast for next week and seeing a series of 13 degree Celsius days for Melbourne my mind is instantly starting to work out how I am going to wool up to stay warm. My key woollen accessories are cowls, mitts, beanies and shawls and this year I am desperately wanting some handknit socks to keep my tootsies warm. My top 5 today are patterns that I have in my wardrobe or I want to add in the near future.

Image source: Purl Soho
1. Big Herringbone Cowl by Purl Soho.
For me a cowl is essential and this cowl has been on my wishlist for ages. I can see that it is designed by Purl Soho with the New York winters in mind because it is a grand long loop that can be wrapped multiple times around the neck. There is no way that the chill can get through this cowl. I also love the classic style of the herringbone stitch.

As a free pattern on their blog it is easily adapted for different yarn weights and yardages. I will probably not make it as big as the designed size but one large enough to wrap around my neck twice would be a perfect cosy accessory for me.

Can never have too many of these angora/lambswool gloves.
2. Fingerless gloves by Penelope Durston.
Not exactly a handknit but these gloves are the bomb. Penelope Durston is a Melbourne maker and designer who hand dyes these beautiful angora and lambswool blend gloves herself and sells them in her Fitzroy shop, Cottage Industry. I came across these gloves many years ago, probably after reading a Frankie Magazine and I instantly loved the vibrant colours and the delicious softness. 

I must confess that I own too many pairs of these and at least one of each of the lengths (hand, wrist and elbow length). Sadly I have lost a couple of pairs over time and I can't stop myself from buying replacements. They range from $45-$60 and are so worth it.

I love the cable panel on this hat.

3. Rosebud Hat by Jared Flood.
I wrote about this hat recently in a finished object post. It turned out much bigger than the designed sized because I did not follow gauge, but it is so cosy. The Road to China Worsted yarn from The Fiber Company is so soft and undoubtedly the cashmere, camel, alpaca and silk blend is the reason behind this. On those bitingly cold mornings this has been my go to hat this winter.

4. Pure by cabinfour.
When I purchased 300g of Ton of Wool Cormo I decided to turned this beautiful wool into this shawl. Pure is a subtly textured triangular shawl that will look perfect with the undyed cream cormo wool. The shawl is designed to represent it's name; pure, clean, unmixed and plain. The aran weight cormo is super squishy and is so cosy to touch. I just know it will turn into a wonderfully warm shawl.

5. Elementary Watson Socks by Sherry Menton.
I chose these socks because I am a fan of the BBC 'Sherlock' series. The cable pattern was inspired by the cabled jumper that Martin Freeman's Doctor Watson character wore in the first season. The nerdy part of me will take pleasure in making and wearing these cute socks and I'll also appreciate being able to keep my cold feet warm too.

Stay warm this winter if you're in the southern hemisphere like I am. 

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

What to make Wednesday: Softies

Basil the Brontosaurus was the first softie I ever made.
I have a little niece who is about to turn 2 and I love making her things as much as I love making things for my own kids. However, she lives in Texas and it's summer over there so I won't be making any worsted weight sweaters for her, ever because even the winter doesn't get cold enough for those kind of garments.

I know that she is really keen on soft toys so I thought this year I would send her a softie for her birthday. A few weeks ago I have a look around Ravelry for some softie patterns and here are a few of my favourites.

1. Totoro designed by Mimouna Anderson.
I know that since my little niece has a part Japanese heritage, Totoro will be a hit. For those who don't know, Totoro is an iconic character from Studio Ghibli's animated film, 'My Neighbour Totoro'. The first time I saw this film I was just a little girl and I was watching a Cantonese dub of it so I didn't understand much but this character stuck in my memory. It was not until my teen years that I discovered the original Japanese film and worked out that the character that I was fixated with was Totoro.

This little softie pattern is offered for free on the designer's blog but it is in Norwegian. However, a kind Ravelry user has translated the pattern and if you send her a pm via Ravelry she will email you a copy of the pattern. Another great thing about this pattern is that it uses very little amounts of yarn so I have already stash dived and found some remnants that could be enough to knit it up.

I can foresee myself knitting up a little family of Totoros for my kids too especially since Miss L has a bit of a Totoro theme in her bedroom already.

2. Basil the Boogie-Woogie Brontosaurus designed by Rebecca Danger.
I made this super cute little dinosaur for a friend's baby last year and it was the first softie I ever made. The process was made super easy by the designer Rebecca Danger's extremely clear pattern instructions and the series of tutorials on her blog.

Basil can be made with any weight yarn and as for needle size, Rebecca recommends just going two sizes down from the needle size that is recommended on the yarn label. The reason for going down needle sizes is so that a very tight weave fabric w ill be made when you knit and that will prevent any bits of stuffing poking through.

3. Melvin the Musical Monster designed by Rebecca Danger.
Actually, I find all of Rebecca Danger's softie patterns very appealing and I would make any of them. Her series of knitted monsters are just so cute and this one particularly appeals because it share a name with my BIL.

Rebecca keeps the shaping simple so that there aren't many extremely fiddly bits with decreasing and increasing for necks and heads and other bits like that. She essentially designs the main body as a large ball with either a striping design or colour block patches for the belly making it a very easy knit that looks very huggable.

The one difficulty with this pattern is that it is featured in a print book and not available for purchase as a digital download through Ravelry or Rebecca's Etsy store. It's not a terrible difficulty since there are a number of adorable patterns to choose from that are similarly shaped.

Image source: © Lebenslustiger
This is one of the simplest softies I have seen. It is essentially a small garter stitch square sewn in a particular manner to create bunny ears and a body. There a few of these bunny patterns around but I like this little one because there is a very good tutorial on the blog where it is posted.

It's not really a significant enough project to make for a birthday present but I think it would be a perfect little beginner project to make with the kids when they are learning to knit. Once they have mastered garter stitch making this little bunny will be a quick project to whip up and the young crafter will be able to enjoy their handiwork fairly quickly.

Can't wait to turn this gorgeous pattern into a doll for my niece.
5. MAE doll designed by Jhoanna Aranez.
After looking at all these knitted softie patterns I had every intention of making the Totoro for my niece but I'm a bit swamped with WIPs at the moment; through no fault by my own because I keep starting new things. So, I decided to order this MAE doll kit from Jhoanna's Etsy store because I remember my friend making one recently and recommending Jhoanna's dolls.

A MAE doll is a 'make and embellish' kit where the doll pattern has been printed on a piece of cotton poplin fabric and all I need to do is cut it out, sew it together and stuff it. Then I can make my own little embellishments to personalise the doll.

I think Jhoanna's doll designs are so cute. They have a very retro mod style to them and I think the doll can be enjoyed by girls across a broad age range. They aren't babyish in design nor are they all sexualised like many of the commercial doll ranges that are available these days. And, what I love most is that it's still handmade with love.

I'm going to make up this little doll in the next day or two and then I'm thinking of making a little matchbox suitcase for her because she is going on a journey all the way to Texas. I'll post my finished handiwork when I'm done.

Off to get making now.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

What to knit Wednesday: Help me decide.

I'm going to try to stash bust the left overs of this Debbie Bliss Cashmerino for this project.

Today I am literally asking 'What to knit?' as I need help deciding what I should knit for M. At the end of the month we are celebrating our 8 year wedding anniversary and I want to make him something.

I did a bit of stash diving and found about 140 metres of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in Charcoal which I could turn into a hat. I've done some Ravelry trawling and I have two patterns in mind. 

Image source: Brooklyn Tweed/ Jared Flood
1. Crag by Jared Flood.
This lovely hat was part of the latest BT Men Volume 2 release and I was immediately drawn to it. I am wanting to do some more cable knitting and the all over cable pattern on this hat looks striking yet easy enough to memorise and repeat all through the hat. I also like the name Crag because it connects to our love of rock climbing.

I would absolutely love to try making this in the Brooklyn Tweed Shelter yarn that is suggested but to my knowledge this yarn is not available through any Australian stockist yet. As much as I love trying new yarns I still prefer to buy from Aussie stockists and support their venture.

I think the Cashmerino Aran would be ok with this pattern. I will have to swatch it properly and make sure I get gauge before I go ahead with the project.

Image source: Woolibear/ Jesska Hoff
2. Bartek by Jesska Hoff.
The second pattern I think could go well with the yarn is this Bartek hat. I like the main large cable twist surrounded by a set of smaller cable bands. I also like how it has a bit of a slouch to the hat and if I do make this it will be different to the hats M already has.

The suggested yarn is an Aran weight so I think substituting with the Cashmerino will be ideal. However, the designer, Jesska has noted in the pattern that she is a tight knitter so I will need to carefully gauge swatch this to double check which needles I will need to use to match gauge with her.

Take a look at both patterns and help me decide which one I should attempt. Or I'm welcome to other suggestions. If you've made a fabulous hat for the man in your life that was a winner share your project.