A long weekend

W has learnt the power of the tantrum this weekend. It’s been a bit rough really. But in between the screaming, body flailing 1 year old, I’ve been working away with my pointy sticks.

I am officially over halfway through Alana Dakos’ Gnarled Oak from Coastal Knits.

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I’m halfway through the second sleeve, in a sublime yarns extra fine merino DK. This is a lovely soft silvery grey, don’t you think? I’m quite taken with it.

Speaking of Coastal Knits, I finally got some reasonable photos of my Rocky Coast, with me in it.

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Despite the pilling of the yarn, it’s a lovely warm cardy for pottering around at home.

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And!

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Look look look! It’s Madeline Tosh! Two delicious skeins of sock yarn. I love this colourway, oxblood. Not sure what I’ll do with it just yet.

Lastly, I’ve been day dreaming about hexipuffs… A plan may be forming.

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Blog love

Time has really gotten away from me in recent months, or rather, I have allowed time to get away from me, and my poor blog has been much neglected.

But, there has been much knitting and much loving of other blogs. Thought I’d share a few with you.

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This is my gorgeous boy, wearing his gorgeous milo knitted by my gorgeous friend and blogger, Bells. You can check out her blog at here. She knitted the milo for W’s 1st birthday. You will find project details at her Ravelry page here.

I knitted a Rocky Coast, Hannah Fettig’s extremely popular pattern from the extremely popular book Coastal Knits

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This is not such a great photo, the light is all wrong. The colour is much more green than grey. Knitted up with Quince & Co, Osprey. You can definitely see the pilling int this photo. I adore Quince & Co usually, but this yarn has performed particularly badly. It took two wears just around the house of an evening for the whole thing to pill up. I’m really disappointed and won’t be using Osprey again.

But I think I will knit another Rocky Coast next winter. I’ll modify the pattern to give a little more coverage at the front though. Suggestions for yarns are welcome!

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This is the cardy I knitted for W’s first birthday. The pattern is Debbie Bliss’ striped cardigan and the yarn is Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino. Beautiful yarn, easy pattern. And W looks so smart in it.

I have been planning to knit an Umaro blanket for about 12 months, but can’t quite work out the right yarn. I’m usually into natural fibres only, but that would entail several hundreds of dollars on yarn not to mention the horror of having to handwash a blanket! So I’m considering an acrylic/wool blend. Don’t know…

But in the meantime I made a blanket for my new iPad!

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Tada!

This was a really great way of trying out the lace pattern, I have to say. And this is one lucky iPad. The case is knitted up in BC Garn that I bought from Suzy Hausfrau You know it’s an organic yarn (because it has a hint of eau d’ shearing shed about it when you block it! Goes away when it’s dry, just to reassure you!)

So, what of the Campbell & 2nd I was constantly banging on about earlier in the year. Still going. I put it down in May & haven’t picked it up again, but it’s about halfway done. Might get a look in later this year.

Finally, along with Bells’ blog, I wanted to share two others I am loving right now. They are Suzy Hausfrau (of the online yarn store) and my new twitter knitter buddy Rose Red. Rose Red is doing a red beekeeper quilt, and I just LOVE the photos of her red hexipuffs, or sexypuffs as she calls them! Gorgeous

All in all, my life over the past three months has been filled with lots of knitting, and lots of love. Just the way I like it.

Process knitting is zen

It being almost a month, I considered it time to post. A dear friend of mine has a nasty habit of starting and restarting blogs that taper off after the first flourish of posts. Hopefully I shan’t channel him!

April has been the month of 4ply. Hurrah! My Campbell & 2nd is coming along quite nicely. I’m really very pleased with it. Here are the reasons why:

1) The pattern calls for all shaping at regular enough intervals to keep things interesting, but is simple enough to knit throughThe King’s Speech (which Ian & I have just finished. (Lovely calm film. Soothing in a funny way. Watch it if you haven’t already)

2) I have learnt many new things knitting this pattern, namely that it really does pay to a) swatch, b) measure honestly and regularly, c) plan ahead and consult schematics and d) last but not least, how to include horizontal bust darts, or short rows.

3) This Quince and Co wool is just delicious. The stitch definition isĀ  beautiful. It’s springy and squishy, and as I have mentioned previously, it’s lovely and warm to handle which is perfect in Canbrrr at the moment.

I have consciously put other projects and plans to one side while I knit this top. I knew when I started that it would be a big project for me and that I had invested in some truly lovely wool that I’d hate to see go to waste. I’m hoping that through this project I can extend my attention span and find joy in process knitting. I am determined to enjoy forming each and every stitch.

And so far, that concentration has paid off. I have just now slipped the top off my needles to try it on. And, I am absolutely thrilled with it. The fit is perfect (so glad I decided to be brave and try the short rows – it has really paid off). It’s got a teeny tiny little bit less ease than I was aiming for but it works.

I’m halfway through the body. I think there’s another month’s worth of process knitting in it. But I’m finding it quietly calming. Through my bustling busy life, I have found a way to zen. Through knitting.

*NB. Photos to come. Light is terrible just now!

Campbell & 2nd

I am one delighted little knitter this week.

On Tuesday my order from Quince & Co arrived with my yarn for the Campbell & 2nd I’ve been so keen on for so long.

Finch

This is just beautiful wool. I’m totally in love with it. The swatch (yes my friends, I swatched!) washed up so beautifully soft and squishy. It’s warm to knit with, which is nice because Canberra Canbrrr has had such a cold snap recently. My only complaint is that the colourway wasn’t quite what I expected. The perils of ordering online though.

I thought the colourway was a turquoise-y deep sea green. That definitely how it looks in the photo on Quince & Co’s website, and I’ve struggled to get a photo of it right as well. The photo above has NOT captured the true colour. It’s a forest green, not a sea green. I possibly should have expected that given that the name of the colourway is “Cypress” though! I think it’s growing on me though.

I cast on while I was waiting at Sydney airport for my (delayed) flight on Wednesday afternoon and I’ve made a little progess. It’s going to be slow – 4ply. 3.5mm needles and all.

Campbell & 2nd shoulder lace

The lacework on the shoulder is a lovely geometric motif. Been lovely to see it grow underneath my fingers.

Overall, I’m quite pleased with this project. I hope it will help me learn to focus, and to enjoy the project without rushing to get it down. Patience, Alys!

 

Holding patterns

Look look look! It arrived!

Coastal Knits

(Why, oh why, will this not insert the right way up?! Anyway, you get the picture.)

Coastal Knits is here! I am so pleased. This is genuinely one of the most beautiful publications I have ever seen. I feel like I know the coasts of Maine and Southern California better than anyone else in the whole world. AND, the patterns. Oh the patterns!

First cab off the rank will be the Rocky Coast cardy (to which I have previously referred.) I will order the yarn early in the week. My darling husband got me a Quince & Co gift voucher for my birthday, and I think their Osprey will do just the trick. Either Lichen or Dogwood for colourway. That decision will require more cogitation.

I’m still waiting on my yarn for my Campbell & 2nd to arrive from the States. So I’m sort of in a knitting holding pattern right now. I’m not excited by anything on my needles and I’m having trouble restraining myself from casting on ALL THE YARN.

I’ve done a little more work on a cardigan for my W. He’ll look like a Candy Cane in this little thing.

Candy Cane Cardigan

Better get a wriggle on with it though, or winter will have come and gone and he’ll have grown a whole other year and won’t fit into it. A sleeve & a half to go, and then some finishing. I give it a month between other projects.

I’ve picked up two shawls, Saroyan and Maluka.

Saroyan & Maluka

Here is Saroyan in white Sublime Organic Merino. It is intended as a gift for a special girlfriend of mine. Maluka is cast on in (you guessed it) Socks that Rock Thraven Fledge from my favourite Blue Moon Fiber Arts. Maluka is for me.

Admittedly, I’m not terrifically excited by either of these shawls. They’re lovely patterns and they’re knitting up a treat, but I’m not passionate about them. I think I’m knitting them for the sake of knitting. But there’s nothing wrong with that.

I was absolutely delighted to receive a request from my sister to knit some arm warmers for her. She’s sort of found my knitting a bit of an oddity previously, though she has enjoyed some of my earlier amateurish attempts at lacework. So I’m very excited to be making something for her that I know will be well loved and treasured. I’m ordering the yarn for that one next week (from BMFA!) and I’ll post more details once I get started.

So that’s me. A knitting holding pattern. I’m circling a couple of projects I’m super excited about while the attendants serve another round of drinks and some bland peanuts. Where’s the postman?

Knitting crushes and unrequited loves

As promised in my last post, today it’s all about crushes and unrequited loves. I refer of course to knitting. All knitters will understand the rush of a new knitting crush and the frustration of a knit that doesn’t quite work, a knitting unrequited love.

Firstly, here is my latest finished object. One for me. My knitted cuddle.

A knitted cuddle

This has turned out to be a quick and lovely knit. It’s essentially the yoke of a top down seamless cardigan. You knit until you stop the increases, which is usually where you would place the sleeve stitches on hold. You cast off the body and knit the sleeves. The pattern calls for knitting the sleeves flat, but you could absolutely knit them in the round (which upon reflection I should have done – I’m a terrible seamer.) And to finish it all off, you pick up the ribbed band around the whole thing and rib until you don’t feel like ribbing anymore.

The lovely and uber-talented Bellsknits warned me, thankfully, that this yarn, Bendigo Woollen Mills “Luxury” grows a LOT on washing. I was so concerned when I laid this garment out to dry that it had become ridiculously huge. But now that it’s dry, it’s got a lovely feel to the fabric and the only thing that has disappointed me is that the sleeves are not as fitting as they were.

But I’m quite pleased with this in the end. It’s warm and fluffy and squishy and will be perfect for the coming cool crisp autumn days that Canberra does so well.

Now. Erik. Erik was intended to be a birthday gift for my husband, and would have been my first proper full sized adult garment. (A shrug can hardly be referred to as full sized!) You can find Erik’s recipe here. I’m knitting it in Bendigo Woollen Mills (again! So cheap!) “Rustic” 12ply. Here’s a photo of the hood & half the yoke.

Erik

Let me count the ways I have screwed this up:

  1. I didn’t swatch. (Shhhh… I know.)
  2. The result of not swatching is that my gauge is two WHOLE stitches too small over four inches.
  3. Upon re-reading the pattern, it turns out I should be using 10ply.
  4. Even if I go back an do increases on the yoke up to the biggest size in the pattern it will still be too small even though my husband is a slim fit.

I am so upset about this. I ripped back to the yoke with the intention of doing more increases, but see point four. I sat for about an hour with a measuring tape and a calculator trying desperately to figure out what will work, checking the pattern requirements, suggested gauge and ease. Ugh.

The result, Erik is going back into the stash until I’m less cranky with him.

But, there is a cloud to every silver lining. And with Erik heading back to the stash for a turn, there are New Possibilities. The aforementioned Bellsknits & I have both ordered Coastal Knits, because we are both quite taken with Hannah Fettig’s Rocky Coast Cardigan. I wouldn’t want to speak for Bells, but I am obsessed with this pattern. The books arrived late last week and I’m going to visit Bells, Sean and their chooks soon to pick mine up and borrow her swift to wind some yarn. Can’t wait!

It’s my birthday shortly, and I have bought myself some birthday presents. You may remember my fear of 4ply. Well. I have decided to face the fear and do it anyway, or some such other awful self-help cliche. I’ve bought Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark’s beautiful pattern, Campbell & 2nd, and have purchased yarn. In the end, I decided to go with Quince & Co’s Finch. I had a brainwave late last night and remembered that a bunch of people on Rav were in love with this yarn so I though I’d give it a go.

So, my knitting plans for the next little while are to spend some time with my current knitting crushes. I’ll cast on the Campbell & 2nd, buy yarn (so glad my husband doesn’t read my blog!) for the Rocky Coast cardigan and have that ready to go for the Tour de France KAL.

I might swatch too…

One just about the love

We find love in the most unexpected of places sometimes. Earlier this morning I went to church for the first time since a little before Christmas. It’s not that I have intentionally not gone, it’s just 10am is smack-bang in the middle of W’s nap and we’ve been so busy and tired. It’s been all a bit too much. But this morning I felt the need to find a quiet reflective space. And, as it happens, my staid, terribly proper, high church parish is exactly the space I need at times like this.

St Paul's Manuka

Picture an old (for Australia) brick building with beautiful stained glass. An exceptional organ pumping out “Good Anglican Hymns” (which are usually good Welsh tunes!) The priests and deacons are all dressed up in beautiful robes and their voices intone the words of prayers drafted 500 odd years ago.

This parish attracts exactly the sort of people you would expect. Older, slightly conservative (though oddly progressive at the same time) and reasonably wealthy couples. Impeccably dressed ladies with strings of pearls and gentleman in tweed jackets and old school ties. I possibly could not be more out of place, and yet I could not feel more at home.

And, out of this proper older crowd of people has come the best parenting advice I could have asked for. Mrs Deane (who, even though she insists I call her by her firstname, I can only think of as Mrs Deane!) said to me, “dear, W won’t remember if his pyjamas were ironed, but he will remember when you play with him”.

My mind boggled. Firstly, you’re supposed to iron pyjamas?! But more importantly, this woman who would have come from a generation of women who prided their homes in a way I don’t think we working mothers may be able to understand is saying to me, bugger the housework. Needless to say, everytime I look at my disgusting floors I think very very fondly of Mrs Deane.

And, out of this proper crowd of people has come some of the kindest & most thoughtful expression of love I’ve come across too. Mrs Snedden is probably my grandmother’s age. She is beautiful, quite genuinely beautiful at her age and would have been extraordinarly beautiful at my age. She’s impeccably dressed, not a thread out of place. She just adores W and always makes a point of saying hello to us. But, whenever I go to Church without W, she also makes a point of reminding me to take sometime for myself. Again, I am just gobsmacked that a woman who may have perhaps struggled to find an identity outside the paradigm of 1940’s & 1950’s motherhood is telling me to remember that I am a person too. It’s okay for me to need time away from my child and that helps make me a better mother, rather than meaning I’m a terrible mother.

I am truly blessed to belong to this community. I am loved and accepted without judgement. They are an example for me and I hope I can live up to their kindness.

Tomorrow the blog will return to regular programming: an FO, ripping into a bloke named Erik and picking between two knitting crushes.

Do I love enough for 4ply?

About a month ago I stumbled across Campbell & 2nd. Find the pattern here. You can also check out the designer, Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark’s blog here. She has some cute socks blogged at the moment.

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[Photo courtesy: Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark]

Isn’t this a thing of beauty? It was love at first site. This is adorable. It features a) an amazing colourway, b) a totally cute & flattering “cut” as it were, and c) quirky but elegant lace work on one shoulder and repeated on the opposite hip. Love love love it. I am desperate to knit this.

The pattern recommends Lorna’s Laces. I’ve had a quick go at finding a good stockist for this yarn here in Oz, but it’s proving difficult. So, I’ve considered other options. The lovely lady at Woolshed in Manuka (Canberra’s IRL yarn store gift to knitters*) suggested Ella Rae Lace as an alternative. There is, of course, my current long term yarn crush, Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock in lightweight which could also suit (thinking Vancouver Violet or Rosebud. I know that I am talking ridiculously expensive yarn, but I really feel a pattern like this deserves a yarn that would do it justice.

So, Alys, what are you waiting for?

It’s 4ply.

An adult garment in 4ply. FOUR PLY.

This has a number of potential pitfalls for me. a) I would possibly never finish it. b) I can be a fickle knitter. I can fall in and out of love with projects surprisingly quickly. c) I have lately read about knitting a properly fitted garment for the larger and more well endowed ladies & using short rows under the bust to address potential fit issues and now I’m feeling a little intimidated.

It’s really only been since May ’11 that I started knitting things that weren’t in straight lines. (I have accumulated a lot of terrible scarves that I’ve knitted over the past decade. One day I’ll show you.) I fell pregnant, attempted a teeny tiny newborn jumper, worked out how to read a pattern and discovered that people post how-to-knit videos on youtube (something which I’m simultaneously quite mystified by and utterly grateful for. Cat Bodhi. Thanks!) Since then I have dived headlong into this yarn filled universe of mine with glee and a thirst to learn. I really want to knit this shirt, but I’m also terrified of it.

Four ply. *shakes head*

To knit or not to knit.

But look. It’s so beautiful. I think I have to do it.

EDIT: Another pretty thing in 4ply I just “discovered” here. This one has sleeves though, so for me it’s just for admiring from a far right now!

*Note: Canberra’s other yarn store gift to knitters is one Suzy Hausfrau – online only. You can find Suzy here. She sends her bundles out as brown paper packages all tied up with string. You can’t make this shit up!

A pie for love and knitted cuddles

Last Saturday I married Mr Alys, my one true love. It was a lovely day, though I feel looking back on it that the ceremony absolutely whooshed right by me. After the hysterical laughing & crying during the rehearsal, I wish there had been a longer moment during our exchange of vows so I could hold that in my mind a little clearer.

And so, after a week away on the north coast of NSW, I have returned to Canberra Canbrrr. And with this weather I have decided to bring the appropriate foods, roast pork and apple pie. Truth be told, I’ve just finished reading the first book of the Ice & Fire Chronicles (which the HBO series Game of Thrones is based upon) and I can’t help but feel that everytime Tyrion says something he’s eating suckling pig or a roasted apple. So perhaps I’m channelling the Lannister Imp.

Mr Alys’ mother is an acknowledge Apple Pie Champion, complete with capital letters. Amongst the family, her pies are renowned and even my father looked like he’d like to swap over to my in-laws for Christmas if it meant he could eat that pie. So, for me to attempt an apple pie is a brave thing. I’m fairly certain that I will never quite reach my mother-in-law’s lofty pie heights, so I’ve decided to make a more typical Australia pie, than the kind my Northern American in laws are used to. This will be with shortcrust pastry rather than the flaky pastry they prefer (add Chrisco, no butter. I know. Odd.) I will over cinnamonise the pie because Mr Alys is unlikely to eat it if it is not, but I will use brown sugar for the caramel effect, rather than straight up castor sugar. We’ll see how I do.

The things I do for love.

On the needles today is an aptly named shoulder warmer. Find the pattern on ravelry here.

I wanted to try out the Bendigo Woollen Mills yarn “Luxury”. You can find it here. (I am NEVER going to get over how cheap Bendy yarns are. And still quite good quality.) I’ve got a pattern on the go with Bendy “Classic” and I found that a little harsher on my hands when I picked it up initially. Prior to that I’d been working a lot with Sublime Yarns, which is very soft. Luxury is definitely softer than Classic but still not a shade to baby yarn. I’m using the colourway “Koala”. I’m not normally one for shades, taupes and camels etc. I’m usually picking out bright greens and reds. But I couldn’t quite resist the name of the colour, as well as thinking lately that as I grow *cough* older, more subdued tones may suit me.

This one is for me. As much as I love knitting gifts for others and passing on a certain love through that gift, I find every now and then I have a hankering to knit something for me. As if I wanted to offer myself a warm hug on a crisp cool day. And what better way to do that than with a shrug the colour of a warm fluffy koala.