Friday, February 29, 2008

Casualties of War

*Apparently* my children are at war with my knitting


*Apparently* the small ones are winning


Case in point

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Knitting needle having a holiday in the garden. If you look closely you will also see coasters from the coffee table, a battery and a pen. Looks like the front garden is the place to spend the summer this year!

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Beautiful stitch markers made by the lovely Neak. Used to be a full set, obviously. Assuming small beady objects are currently adorning small girls dolls somewhere. Who knew stitch markers are the perfect size for doll jewellery?


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Mummy's knitting notebook and what used to be pattern notes for current WIP (you would think that since WIP is actually for said DD she could be a little more considerate. hmpf)



Sadness is


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I am particularly bitter about this one because just last week I broke my lovely 3.25mm bamboo needle which was oh so nice to knit with. So since then I have been using horrible blue bendy and short 3.25mm needles (luckily because of my obsession about not knitting with yarn smaller than 8ply I don't use them that often). Now I only have one needle from each set left so my current WIP had to be made with mismatching needles. I used to have this thing when I was a teenager and liked to wear mismatching socks, somehow thinking this was the height of 'cool'. I was young see. For the record I don't think knitting with mismatching needles is fun OR cool. Sigh.

Oh and let's not forget this episode involving yarn, wool winding and daughter.

I admit to having a touch of needle envy when I read post's like this by Doveknits and see all those lovely looking sets. My mismatched cobbled together needle collection has the basics but is none too flash. I secretly dream of having a whole collection of Addis or a Knit Picks set or hang, just a nice set of bamboo needles in every size would do.

However given the current state of play: Small Girls 5 : Knitting 0 I think such acquisitions shall wait.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Children's Earflap Hat Pattern

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This is  free pattern was inspired by my nephews fight with childhood leukaemia. It was published in 2008. My nephew is now a healthy 11 year old.
If you use this pattern please consider giving a donation to children's hospital near you.


This pattern is for personal use only. Swaps, gifts and donations are fine. Do not sell this pattern. Do not sell items made from this pattern. Do not copy and paste this pattern elsewhere, you are welcome to link. If in doubt flick me an email.

CHEMO EARFLAP HAT


Size:
NB - head circumference approx 36cm
Baby 0-6m - head circumference approx 40cm
Toddler 1-2y - head circumference 45-49cm
Child 3-5y - head circumference 48-52cm


You will need:
50g of double knit/8ply wool of your choosing. For the child size hat I used 110m of yarn so for the larger sizes you may need an extra ball depending on yardage. Some of my test knitters found the toddler size hat used 50g and they needed to do the edging and ties in a contrast yarn.

Pictured yarn is Twilleys of Stamford.

Pair of 4mm needles (or size to obtain gauge)
Darning or tapestry needle for sewing up
2 stitch holders

Gauge:
22st/10cm in st st

Directions:

Earflaps (make 2)
CO1
Knit, purl, knit into stitch (=3st)
Purl across
KFB, knit to last stitch, KFB
Purl across
Repeat last 2 rows until 15 (17,21,23)st ending on a purl row. Break yarn. Place stitches on a holder (or spare needle).


Main Hat
CO 9 (10,12,13) knit across 15(17,21,23)stitches from holder, CO 16 (18,22,26) stitches, knit across 15(17,21,23) stitches from 2nd earflap, CO 9 (10,12,13) stitches (=64(72,88,98) stitches)#
Begin with a purl row, stockinette stitch straight for 8 (9.5,10.5,12)cm. End with a purl row. For the toddler size hat you will need to increase 1st at each end of the last row (=90st). For the child size hat you will need to decrease 1st at each end of the last row (=96st)
Decr for crown as follows;
[K6(7,8,10) K2tog] across
Next and alt rows - Purl across
[K5(6,7,9) K2tog] across
Continue in this way until last decrease row (all sizes) is K2tog across.
Cut yarn leaving a 30cm tail, thread through remaining stitches, secure and use tail of yarn to sew up back seam. Sew in all yarn ends.

Finishing
Starting at one earflap point pick up and knit 50 (55,65,70) stitches along cast on edge of the hat, ending at other earflap point. Cast off on next row. (It is better to pick up more, rather than less stitches - otherwise the hat will be too tight around the face).
Repeat for other side.
Cut 3 pieces of yarn of 60cm length. Thread these through the bottom most point of the earflap and pull to halfway so that you have six equal lengths of yarn threaded through the point. Plait (each plait strand is made of 2 pieces of yarn) and tie off to the desired length. Trim ends
Sew in any yarn ends. Block or press lightly if desired (check your ball band for instructions).

Notes

KFB= knit forward & back (increase one)
The earflap directions - to make them pointy cast on one stitch then increase into it twice to end up with 3 stitches...or just cast on 3 to begin with...whatever works for you
For the toddler and child size hat the pattern tells you to adjust the final stitch count slightly before shaping the crown so that the decreases at the top of the hat occur evenly and symmetrically.
Babies come in all different sizes so ages are approximate, check measurements if you can.

The baby size hat will fit a small baby up to about 6mth depending on head size.

The toddler size hat fits my 2year old (head 48cm)and my 6month old (45.5cm). If you are making this hat for a 6-9month old then I suggest do 10cm before decreasing (or if you like hats with plenty of coverage do 10.5cm...they will always grow into it and personally I like the fact the hat is long enough to cover some of her neck).

This is a very simple pattern which should be perfect for beginners. I am happy to help if you get stuck , just email me. The thing that tripped up some of my new-to-knitting test knitters was joining on the earflaps. If it is easier to work out what to do try placing your earflaps on spare needles of the same gauge and once you have cast on using your working needle, just knit across the earflap stitches like you normally do. When you are asked to cast on at the end of the row, you can either do it like this or simply turn your work and cast on with a cable cast on (watch the video here). Try and keep your stitches at an even tension on this row but your edging should hide any less than perfect bits. When you sew in your threads at the end you can also use them to hide anything at the joins you are not happy with.

I prefer to sew up using mattress stitch

Make the hat your own! Try a crochet edging, contrast trims, an icord instead of plait...
The straight part of the hat is perfect for trying out new techniques, colourwork, fairaisle.

If you prefer working in the round follow the pattern to # then join in the round and continue on, knitting every round. You will need a set of DPNs to use when you are shaping the crown.

See this pattern on Ravelry: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/chemo-earflap-hat





Lollipop Longies

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I have been wanting some of this yarn for ever. It's called Lollipop from The Tin Shed. So bright and cheery, it's going to be nice to put these on BabyM during gray winter months. I absolutely love how the colours turned out on the legs.

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One of my Ravelry friends had done a project with ruffles like this and was kind enough to share her recipe with me. They took AGES! There is 3 rounds of kfb in them so by the end there was some ridiculously huge number of RSI inducing stitches in them. But I love the final result.

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I used this pattern which I found on Ravelry (of course). (Sorry if you are not a Raveler that link is not going to work, its only available as a PDF download). In the past I've mainly knitted longies on flats either the Tiny Birds pattern or a modified version of the pants in the Cleckheaton 948 book or the Doodlepants pattern if I was brave and using circulars. There are lots of longies patterns popping up on Ravelry now so I am trying some new ones out.

I'm trying to do some different things this year and one of my goals was to stop being scared of patterns written in the round so that was partly why I chose this pattern as it is a circular pattern (with short rows even!).
And lookie...kitchener!!! I use these instructions if I forget what to do

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This is the first time I have used a 'recipe' type pattern where you calculate the sizing, placement of short rows etc based on your yarn and gauge. There was maths even!! My poor post baby brain had a good workout.

I thought that this type of pattern would be a good choice since BabyM is only 6m but very big (over 10kg) and is wearing clothes her sister wore at 12m. The problem is, is that while she is big most of the toddler clothing is a tad long, even though we need the extra room for her cloth nappies (hello!!...... clothing manufacturers...not everyone uses plastic nappies for pete's sake. How about some baby clothing with a decent rise and a bit of stretch!)

I thought using a pattern like this I could get a perfect fit. I'm aiming to knit a few more pairs of pants for M for winter because I am so sick of squishing her into pants or getting the not very elegant builders crack thing happening because the clothes can't accommodate her cloth nappy.

I used about 2m short of 200g for these so they really are a size large and they fit N2 as well so a probably toddler size rather than big baby size. I did a K2P2 waistband with the intention of doing an Icord tie waist. But when it came to trying them on the rise was huge so I sewed the waistband over and put some elastic in it. (I don't know what happened there, I double checked all the measurements and the worksheet). I think it was a good work around but its not as tidy as I would like.


They are big but I am happy with that because they should last her until she is TT. Yes I am all about quick results and less work. "Make them big and they will grown into them" seems to be the theme with me. Or like the pinwheel, make 1 thing they both fit instead of 2. Let's not call that laziness rather kiwi ingenuity heh.

Longies now, shorties next summer!! How versatile :)

Here they are on M6mth
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And N2
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If anyone has some great tricks for making toddler co-operate with photo shoots please feel free to leave your suggestions here!
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I"ll use these longies for outer wear and also as a cover over night nappies. At night M wears either an Ecobubs wool pocket or a Designerbums fitted pocket. Both of these nappies are NZ Made. The Designerbums one is probably my favourite at the moment for nights, its super absorbent and works so well. It is also a special nappy because the nappy was designed and sold as fundraiser for Aria MacDonald. Aria needs to have life saving surgery in the US as she has a condition that means she cannot digest food. She is a gorgeous wee girl whose story has touched many people's hearts and so it is nice to know our purchase has helped Aria's cause. Aria has a website here if you would like to read more about this special girl and her condition.

While I was getting the link to the longies pattern I came across this link. It has a page of well written information about wool and all it's wonderful properties. I particularly like this sentence "The threefold combination of water-repellence, breathability and moisture absorbency make wool the unparalled choice when it comes to diaper covers". The article explains how wool can absorb and transmit moisture at the same time which is something I've never really been able to articulate very well, especially to DH who wonders why I keep putting the baby in wool even in summer.


Ahhh wool. How I love thee.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Finished Brick Walls

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In an attempt to use up some more of the ugly stuff I made another ballband dishcloth...another brickwall. I started this when we went away for the weekend (of course, had to take some knitting with me!!). I had memorized the pattern but it turns out I didnt remember the spacing of the slip stitches so the pink one is a little bit different wrong, but I am sure my dirty dishes won't mind.

I was thinking maybe I would use the rest of it in a bathmat? What do you think? Good idea? I was thinking I would do it 2 or 3 stranded in garter st, the bobbly texture should get it some patterning without me having to do any stitch patterning.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Wild and Wet Weekend Weather

It's the middle of summer here. We live near the top of NZ where the climate is sub tropical - very muggy and warm all year round. No frosts, no snow but OMG it is SO wet. I swear it rained pretty much every day during winter. It's also very flood prone (joy) and I know I am not the only person up here who gets a bit nervous every time there is a downpour. Mostly it is too hot for woollies at the moment, apart from soakers and shorties that we also use as nappy covers, so when we had a cold snap during the weekend I just had to put M6mth in something wool!
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(Mum look!!.....Long sleeves even!!)

I tried to take her photo next to the window to show the torrential rain outside but my camera's an el-budget one and it just doesnt really show up. Instead I got a cool reflection thing going on instead

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I was commenting on Rachel's blog that the vest is probably one of my all time favourite FO's. I love the colour (goes with everything) -brown&pink is one of my favourite combos (and very fashionable this winter apparently), the wool is merino so nice and soft and the finishing on this is just lovely . Its the perfect thing for our weather - a bit of extra warmth but not too over the top woolly that it won't get worn. I am really looking forward to autumn when it cools a bit so she can wear it more often. It is the Eyelet Vest from Debbie Bliss' Special Knits and I blogged about it here

It was perfect wear for her this weekend as M5 and I went away for the weekend on a Pippins camp (like Girl Scouts for little girls) and we spent a bit of time outside . I was naughty and took this picture while driving over a local bridge - The bridge has become the local 'flood indicator' as it is usually one of the first spots to go under water if we get some serious rain. That's some nasty looking water huh! Luckily the rain stopped the next day and like some kind of miracle by lunchtime the next day the water was back to normal level. Phew

oct 07 019

A joint effort

The DDs have a princess fairy party to go to in a couple of months. The birthday girls Mum is very crafty and is making dress up costumes for her 3 girls. We have a ready made Snow White dress which M5 wears all the time and some ready made fairy wings for N2 to wear. I was feeling the pressure! and thought we had better make something. One of my Ravelry friends had made a crown using this pattern so I thought that was something we could make together that would fit the theme nicely, and expand our collection of pink and girlie dressups at the same time.

The crown is an easy pattern in garter stitch that grew very quickly. I used some of the Jet I had in my stash.I felted in the washing machine on hot cycle with baking soda and a load of towels.
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In the weekend we finally had a chance to go and get some pretty things to decorate it, and M5 had a blast glueing on beads and wotnots. We used PVA which dries clear and put it in the hot water cupboard overnight. (All you crafty peeps are probably gasping with horror here....I so do not have the patience for handsewing so there is NO way I was going to sew on fiftymillion small bits and bobs...yes they will probably fall off over time....yes it will probably drive me nuts especially as M6mths is on the verge of crawling....yes I am a bit lazy....oh well....)

oct 07 029

I did slightly less repeats than the pattern called for because I can't count I wanted it for all 3 girls so instead of sewing the back seam we tied on some ribbon so it could be adjustable

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And here it is....one finished pink princess crown

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She did well!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Buyer beware

Maybe you will remember my post about my mailbox overflowing with woolly goodness. Well, some of it, it now seems, was not so good after all.

I got some cotton from Trademe (which is like a NZ equivalent of Ebay...an online auction site) and I was pretty pleased with myself for nabbing a fab bargain. Less than $1 a ball! W00T!

I'm not sure exactly why I *just had to have* 6 balls of red cotton. I guess in a moment of living so far away from anything resembling a LYS desperation I just got caught up in the thrill of the bargain hunt. I'm not even sure what the hang I thought I would make with red cotton. Perhaps I thought it would be a nice wearable red and I could make some more summery somethings for the DDs.I don't know what....

Well unfortunately it's not a nice wearable red. It's not nice. At all!! It's doesn't even look like normal cotton!!! ICkkkkkk!
It's sort of lumpy and boucle looking,there is probably a proper knitting term for it but I don't know what it is ,

Here it is. The world's most ugliest cotton
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This is not the 1st time I have had wool related disasters on TM. Sigh. Obviously I have not learnt my lesson about asking lots of Q and making sure it is what I think it is. Never mind..not an expensive disaster - I will just have to find a use for it.


So I figure if its no good for knitting anything wearable I will make some dishcloths with it. Perfect!

I made this cloth

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It's the ballband dishcloth pattern. For some reason it's one of the most popular dishcloth patterns on Ravelry. I have no idea why this is. If someone knows please do share with me! Maybe it's because it was a free pattern that used to be printed on the back of cotton ballbands (hence the name) and so everyone who bought that cotton made them? Anyway, I thought I would give it a go.

It's come out pretty interesting, sort of a Strawberry Shortcake thing going on with the pink and red. M5 says I knitted a very nice brick wall :) It's also quite big, I think 9inches square so should be good for mopping up N2 related messes.

So great, I have found a use for ugly cotton

Problem is, the cloth only used about 25g!! So I have 275g of the awful stuff still. There is only so many red dishcloths one's kitchen can handle.

So if anyone has a brilliant idea for using it up LMK! I was thinking I might make lots of dishcloths and give them away but now I've blogged about how awful it is I am guessing friends and family aren't going to be that impressed with gifts made from cotton I've named U.G.L.Y , lol.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Three Blind Mice

Well not really blind mice because they do have eyes, I just couldnt think of anything else to call them :)

I have Zoe Mellor's book Knitted Toys from my local library and its due back soon. I am making a mobile from it and have had the colourful mouse pattern queued on Ravelry since I joined up. So sweet. I have an amazing assortment of half balls that really are not alot of use , except for stripey projects which I don't tend to do a lot of so this was going to be a perfect way to use up some odds and ends. So I made a mouse....

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OMGosh. So cute.

And I don't know what came over me but I couldn't just stop at one....

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So to sum up...... I spent my weekend knitting small stripey mice and then placed them strategically to photograph them. Clearly I have issues


The pattern is easy peasy. It takes one game of Super14 rugby to knit one and another half an hour or so to finish. I found the finishing a bit of a drag because I really hate fiddly stuff like making noses and whiskers and I probably take a lot longer at that sort of thing than most. The pattern calls for matching felt to make ears but I didn't have any so knitted some instead. (CO14, 9row Stst, decr each end next 4 row, next row k2tog across then BO). Worked out great for mice size ears :)

Right on with some 'real' projects now....

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

What was I thinking?!

I hate frogging. Truly hate it.
Hours of work. Gone. Just like that. Seems just a tad unfair that one can erase something so quickly.

So what have I frogged?


The baby shrug.


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Gaaah! I am so mad at myself.

So I didn't use the recommended yarn. I *did* check my gauge. It was off. Just a little bit. Did I go back and change needles? Noooooooooooooooooooo. I looked at the FO's in Ravelry and there was some 'too big' comments. Did I think Hmmmm maybe I should get the right tension. Nooooooooooooooooo. I read about the shrug on other blogs and how it is soooo big. Did I go back and fix my tension? Noooooooooo. I finish the back and measure it on BabyM and its looking a bit big. Did I frog at that point? Noooooooooooooooo

Silly me.

It was heading to be THE biggest baby shrug. Ever. Probably wouldve fit M5 not M6months.

Note to self. Tension IS important. If its not right then fix it.

Sigh.

Anyway I decide perhaps shrug would be a bit warm and I attempt to make up my own 'something else' instead.

I make up this swatch

oct 07 005

I decide its pretty funky and I spend the night knitting a cardigan for M6months. I make it up as I go along and decide I'm doing a pretty good job. Sweeeeet! I entertain ideas of posting said pattern and imagine all the adoring looks little Miss will get when wearing masterpiece her Mother made.

This morning I have a look at said masterpiece. What WAS I thinking?! There is nothing nice about it really.

At this point I'm going to add that I am not feeling well. Some sort of tummy bug and I have been spending the past couple of days feeling dodgy. I now attribute all blame for obvious lack in taste to nasty bugs.


So I frogged it


I hate frogging. Truly hate it.
Hours of work. Gone. Just like that. Seems just a tad unfair that one can erase something so quickly.

Maybe in this case it's better frogged.

Monday, February 11, 2008

M's Millipede

A group of my knitting friends have just finished a one-skein knitting fairy swap. The aim was to make something out of one skein for your secret recipient. This is what we got....

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Its M the Millipede, made for my baby M who is 6m. OMG she is so cute. She's got these darling little shoes on , complete with bows which must have been very fiddly and time consuming!

BabyM just loves her and so does big sister who keeps running off with her.

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Here she is getting the all important taste test

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The lovely Leah made this for us. Check out her blog here for more of her cool creations. Thank you!! She is gorgeous, just perfect. Aren't we lucky!!

Booga Bag

One finished felted Booga Bag:

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This used exactly 3 balls of Vintage Hues (total 250m)

100st in the round. 65 rows. 5 stitch Icord handle measured 2m before felting. Before felting bag measured 45cm x 38cm.

I used a hot wash cycle. The bag was in a zippered mesh bag and in the machine I also put in 4 pairs of jeans and 1/2C baking soda. I put it through twice. I think it's mediumly felted, still reasonably soft in places but felted enough you can't see the stitches anymore. I think it could have possibly done with another go through. The cord is a bit short so next time I will do 4m before felting.

The colours are lovely.

Finished size after felting 33cm x 33cm approx

Before and After
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I loved this pattern and the final result and will definitely make another of these. I have decided I am probably going to give this to a friend who is super clever and crafty and always sending me lovely parcels :D

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Now as for the little felted heart. I stuffed it with dacron and sewed it up last night. In the end I decided I didnt really like it tied to the handle of the bag. The handles are a bit short and the colour of the heart didnt really sit right. So I made a tie for it and I'll either add it to our box of Xmas decorations or use it as a pin cushion, in my knitting bag. DH doesnt really appreciate me sticking my darning needle in the couch hehe

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P.S. The ducky was found....... In the bath tub.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Felting Fun

I'm finished my Booga Bag -the knitting part of it. All I need to do now is felt it. Which involves (deep breath) throwing beautiful knitting in the machine in hot water. (gulp)
The Vintage Hues has knit up beautifully. It's gorgeously soft. I love the colourway, the purple is devine. Its a 12ply and I am already thinking perhaps I should plan a chunky knit project just so I can use this yarn again.

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So this is the first time I have ever (intentionally) felted something. It seems a shame to treat something so lovely like that! Being a little bit nervous I thought I would try and felt a smaller piece of the wool to see how it went first. The Booga Bag pattern recommends Noro and says it may have to go through the wash a couple of times and since I was using a different yarn I thought it best to test it first.

So I made a little felted heart to hang off the bag. I have been reading the MochimochiLand Blog and have been wanting to do one of her patterns for ages. So felted heart seemed the perfect choice, especially with Valentines Day just around the corner.

Here it is before going in the machine
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Cute. Took all of 5min. (You make 2, then felt , then stuff&sew.)

And here it is after felting 2x
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Now at this point I feel compelled to explain the little yellow ducky in the 1st picture. Well you see it was for context. So I could show how the wool had shrunk after felting. So you could get a sense of size before and after and all that. Little ducky was on the bench when I took pic1 and was a great little size...perfect.
Of course I didnt put him in a 'safe place' and now hes disappeared. Of course. Likely culprit is M5. AKA Little Miss BlackHole. Who is quite adept at removing objects never to be seen again. Usually one shoe or the hairbrush or her school bag or her drink bottle. Usually when we are running late and just about to miss the school bus. Unfortunately her room looks like this

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So there was no chance of finding little small ducky the size of my finger in there. Sigh.

N2 may have nabbed small ducky off the bench at some stage as well. She is at the 'disturbing silence' stage where no noise is usually not a good sign. She's suddenly discovered she can pull dining room chairs to bench, fridge, Mum's dressser , glass fronted cabinet etc etc and get whatever she fancies. She may have put it back in the toy basket. Unfortunately it currently looks like this
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Can you tell it was a wet weekend and the kids were inside most of the time causing a mess?

Anyway no ducky in there either. Sigh.

But I digress....back to the subject at hand. The wool felted nicely. The bag will probably need to go in a couple of times but I don't think it will felt too fast and I should just be able to turn the machine on and leave it.

As I type its on cycle one.

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And yes the lion rattle is put away up high away from little hands ;)