Monday, March 31, 2008

Vintage Cool

I have wanted to make this bonnet forever. Originally I was going to make it with the US cotton I got last week but once it arrived and I saw how thick it was I knew it wasn't the right yarn. In the weekend the girls and I travelled to the nearby city for a birthday party and I *somehow* found myself popping in to Spotlight on my way through.

I bought a ball of Moda Vera bamboo/cotton in a lovely soft pink/coffee/taupe shade knowing it would be perfect.


The pattern is from Erika Knights Baby Bloom . It's not as difficult as it appears but does require some attention for the beginning rows. It only took me one night to finish off so is nice and quick. The sewing up part did not go so easily though - the back seam is through the bottom petal and it's hard to get it to line up and look invisible.


My only modification is that I have one less petal than the other FOs I have checked out on Ravelry!! I have no idea how that happened. It doesn't look 'wrong' but it has come out quite a bit smaller than the stated pattern size of 6-9mth. It's too small for BabyM 8months. However my little mistake turned out to be a blessing in disguise as I finished this with only a few metres of yarn to spare. If I'd made it bigger I would definitely have run out of yarn. The pattern has satin ribbon tied on the side but I made a simple Icord instead. I wonder if my sewing up would have been easier/neater if it had come out as per the pattern.

The yarn has a lovely drape and is super soft. I used 3.75mm needles which has given the fabric lovely stitch definition. My only gripe with this yarn is that it does split super easily. It is nice to knit with otherwise. Previously I've used it for dishcloths and it's great for that too.

I'm sad M won't get to wear this gorgeous bonnet but I'm sure I will be able to find a home for it. There are lots of new babies on the way this year.

How to Tuesday : Continental Knitting

I've been working on the Ribbed Baby Jacket from Debbie Bliss' Special Knits. It's an easy all in one piece - the only ugh part is picking up 150+ stitches and doing 4inches of double ribbing. I hate ribbing at the best of times, its slow and it always feels like I am spending more time switching the yarn that *actually* knitting.

So I decided I would learn how to continental!

It's really not as hard as I thought. I looked through tons of youtube videos and the one that I found the best was this one from This is the clip for purl stitch (she has another one for knit stitch as well) but in it she also demonstrates knit stitch/ribbing.

I don't think it was quicker since I was learning and I had a lot of trouble finding a way to hold the yarn that I liked. It did get easier and easier though and I think I will do this more often, especially for ribbing. My tension is a bit wacky in places but blocking has helped with that and I guess that is to be expected when one is learning. Overall though, I think I actually like continental knitting!!

Give it a go!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Meme Memoir

I got tagged by Peacefulknitter for a "6 word memoir" meme that is doing the rounds on blogosphere at the moment. You can read her one here, the idea seems to have come from this article and is was great timing as I was hoping to blog a FO but I haven't quite finished. Thanks S!

Here's mine:

Taku manawa, taku tau, taku whanau

whanau acrylic

It translates as "My heart, my love, my family" and is written in Te Reo Maori. My DH and I both have Maori anscestry and my children all have Maori names. My iwi (tribe) is Kai Tahu from the South Island/Te Wai Pounamu (hence my talk of 'going home'). The artwork "whanau" is by Lisa Ormsby

Here are the guidelines, should you choose to participate in this yourself:

  • Write your own six word memoir.
  • Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like.
  • Link to the person that tagged you in your post and to this original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere.
  • Tag five more blogs with links.
I hate choosing! but I would like to tag TwentyCentmixture, Tales of the Redheaded Devil Child, Joli House, Sharonnz and Dollarknits. If this isn't your cup of tea then feel free to ignore :)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Earth Hour

Join me for Earth hour! - 8pm March 29 - support an initiative to raise awareness about climate change

About Earth Hour

On March 31 2007, for one hour, Sydney made a powerful statement about the greatest contributor to global warming – coal-fired electricity – by turning off its lights. Over 2.2 million Sydney residents and over 2,100 businesses switched off, leading to a 10.2% energy reduction across the city. What began as one city taking a stand against global warming caught the attention of the world.

In 2008, 24 global cities will participate in Earth Hour at 8pm on March 29. Earth Hour is the highlight of a major campaign to encourage businesses, communities and individuals to take the simple steps needed to cut their emissions on an ongoing basis. It is about simple changes that will collectively make a difference – from businesses turning off their lights when their offices are empty, to households turning off appliances rather than leaving them on standby.

More information...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Blimmin Cool Bucket Hat

Clearly I am in denial that summer is over. I have left it to the last minute to make myself a sunhat.


Pattern: A Better Bucket by Amy Swenson
From: Make One Yarn Studio
Yarn: Flair Ombre Peaches and Creme 100% Cotton 1.75 skeins
Needles: 4mm 30cm Addi Turbo and DPNs
See it on Ravelry

Love this pattern. Quick and easy and it's a nice shape.


The pattern is for worsted weight yarn and 4.5mm needles. Since I was making this with cotton which has, in my experience, the awful tendency to stretch to high heaven, I used 4mm needles. Initially I was worried it come out too small but actually the FO is not too small at all, even a little big. 4.5mm would have made a huge hat for me.

My only modification was to avoid the provisional cast on and I cast on normally. Instead of following the pattern suggestion to sew up the brim I picked up the CO stitches and K2tog as I went. Big mistake. Somehow I didn't pick up evenly round and was left with too many CO stitches. So there is a small overlapping bit on the underside of the brim. Which isn't that noticeable I guess but I am disappointed in myself for not following the pattern (when will I learn??!!) and for being in an impatient mood to finish and not frogging that row (when will I learn??!!) and redoing.

My only love love it otherwise. If I was to do over I would do 6 inches (not 6.5) from the brim and either do the PCO or sew up the brim at the end.

The cotton I used is from the US. A friend ran a mini co-op and I couldn't resist getting a few balls. The colour selection is amazing. Despite the claim on the label to be 'the softest 100% cotton' it is NOT easy on the hands and was akin to knitting rope. Its aran weight so quite thick and sturdy. It would make excellent dishcloths which is what I will probably do with the rest of the balls I got, or maybe a string bag. I think in the US it's pretty cheap and available from Wal-Mart and the like. There is nothing like this in NZ and at my local less than adequate yarn store there is only one cotton and it is $7/ball!! I wish I had got some more colours now. Maybe next time .


This colourway is the "Flair" ombre. I am a sucker for purple and green together.

I read somewhere (can't remember if it was on a blog, or Ravelry or somewhere...) that putting stretched out cotton in the clothes dryer can make it shrink back. I tried this yesterday on Baby M's cotton sunhat and Katja which had both stretched horrendously. And....I am pleased to report this works fabulously. They have both just gone back to their original off the needles size, no smaller. Just thought I would share just in case you have a cotton something suffering from stretch-itis too.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

How to Tuesday : Joining in new yarn

It's actually Wednesday here ....blame the long weekend ;) for me forgetting what day of the week it is

When I first learnt to knit I would always just tie a knot between old and new balls of yarn and carry on knitting. Its not elegant but it does the trick and I've never had any unravelling issues and as long as the knot is tight and pulled to the back, usually you can't tell.

Then I learnt it's better to do this at the beginning of a new row so that any knots are hidden in the seams. This is quite a bit tidier but probably isn't going to be the best if you are running out of yarn.

But what happens if you are knitting in the round and there are no end of rows and seams to hide your knot in? Or like my current (worked all in one piece) WIP the ends of rows are the sleeve edges and definitely not the right place for a yarn join? Scarves are the same. Or if you are knitting socks and a knot anywhere is going to be disastrous?


Two great posts explaining better ways to join in new yarn.

The first is from fabulous TechKnitter. This is a post covering yarn of the same colour and explains felted joins, overlapping joins and a neat trick for seaming. Go here.

The second is from Knit Picks and covers joining in different colour yarn by russian joins, felting, duplicate stitch, double knit in and weavers knot. Nice illustrations that make it really clear what to do. Go here.

Happy Knitting! (and joining)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

I hope you had a nice Easter. We had visitors so it has been very busy but nice to have a distraction from sorting and cleaning. Lots of chocolate too.

We took our girls to our beach for one last swim before we move, and before it gets autumn and not late summer in these parts. Unfortunately we had a very close call with our N2 almost drowning. She is fine but DH and I are very shaken. Please, if you have small children near water, be vigilant, never take your eyes off them. We were both standing *right there* and happens so quickly.

I have been madly knitting to distract myself from the 'what might have been' vrittis and have almost finished the ribbed baby jacket for baby M. At the moment it is sans the ribbing which I anticipate will not be very much fun. Once again I think to myself I really should learn how to purl that other way.


I have really no idea how I came to cast on for the jacket considering I have a list of to do knitting a mile long. I really should be doing part 2 of my aunties birthday gift but I seem to have an attack of 2nd sock syndrome on that one and so in a panic of I must knit but just not that , I swatched for the jacket, remembered how nice the Jet is to knit with and viola! Procrastination knitting at its best. I console myself by thinking she will definitely need to wear something like this when we move south.


Moving to colder pastures has also lead me to *finally* deciding what I want to knit for ME! I have been eyeing up some of the shrug patterns on Ravelry but then I think, am I really a shrug person?? Then thought maybe something lacy? But then I decided since I spend most of my time in jeans I would go for...

The Central Park Hoodie

I know. It's almost a cliche. But I figure with so many people having done it before and there being a KAL blog and a Ravelry group if I get stuck there is plenty of help out there. I'm a little bit nervous since I haven't knitted a 'proper' adult size sweater before but to stop myself spending many more countless hours on the internet looking at patterns, FO's and yarns I bought the pattern and ordered some yarn. Decision has been made. I'm going to make it in Bendigo Mills Rustic 12ply Red Tweed.

If knitting big things agrees with me I might do the runner ups.... either Tilted Duster or Coraline next.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Knitting = Sanity

The sweetp family are moving house! From way way up the top of the country in a small tourist town to the south island. This is a going home journey for us. We moved up here in Jan07 on a whim and while it has been a fun adventure the pull to go back to the mainland was too strong. The weather here is lovely and the scenery and coastal lifestyle is to die for but it is a long long way from family and our support. So we are packing up and moving on down.

From a knitting perspective this is good news indeed. Moving south is moving closer to Antarctica! There will be much need for wool gloves, hats and jumpers for little girls. Ok , only a bit closer to Antarctica but there will be frosts and there is usually snow at least once a winter so considerably colder than where we are now. There will also be....LYS!! WOOT!! No more silly sewing centre with less than adequate selection of wool. So not only will I *need* to knit things there will be places to go to get supplies to knit with. It will be cold enough for little girls to wear Mummy made woollies e.g pinwheel sweater. I can also, if I feel so inclined, meet up with other knitters. AND there will be libraries, excellent ones and lots of them, and there will be up to date knitting books available. So very good indeed.

It will be great to be back in the City. I always thought living in the country = eco-living. However living here has not been great in that respect. Things are isolated and there is a lot of car travelling that has to be done for the most basic needs. 20km each way to the supermarket. There is no kerbside recycling so we collect and store and then take it all to the refuse station for recycling, which sounds like we are doing the right thing, but having to drive 15km to the dump probably negates any positives from the effort we go to recycle paper, bottles and cans. I will be looking forward to putting our recycling bin out on the kerb each week (gosh the little things that spin my wheel lol). We are also leasing our new house on a one year lease which offers a little bit of permanency and so I am going to get a compost and worm farm going. Things I have been meaning to do for ages but we were never really sure how long we would stay in this house so I kept putting off. So better from an environmental perspective as well!

Our new house is in walking distance of schools, supermarket, post office, parks and friends. I am going to love being able to walk down to the store to get milk. Something I can't do at the moment. *Everything* involves a car trip here. We are a one car family and this means for the most part I am at home with the kids and unable to walk anywhere with them. Last year it wasn't too much of an issue as I was either heavily pregnant or looking after a brand new baby and not really up to getting out and about heaps anyway. But now babyM is bigger and not sleeping half the day and I have more energy it is beginning to get me down. I do miss not being able to have spontaneous trips to the park or playground or friends house. At the moment we have a weekly outing with everything we need to do while out all crammed in and it all has to be planned to the nth degree beforehand. I am *really* looking forward to just having options to get out of the house from time to time and they will all not need a car.
And...PUBLIC TRANSPORT. Whoa have I missed that!

There are many positives about going back but all the same I will miss the lifestyle here and friends we have made. It's a shame that change has to be tinged with sadness and we have to do the hard "saying goodbye" thing.

It has a been a whirlwind few weeks. DH accepted his new job and in the space of a week we had the moving company in to quote, found a new house to rent and sold our boat. My head is spinning and as DH so eloquently put it I went "straight to panic mode". A fair assessment but to be expected when one has a few short weeks to get your house and worldly possessions cleaned and sorted. We don't have to pack but I still need to sort and tidy and this is still a huge task. Especially as I have one now-crawling baby and one "helpful" toddler . There is a lot to do, as well as cleaning, there are all those extra pre-shift jobs to do like ringing power and phone companies, taking cat to vet for jabs so he can go to cattery while we shift (sounds a simple task but not so, when you have to also manage 2 small children and you don't actually have a proper cat cage), booking travel etc etc. There are half sorted boxes all over the house and everywhere I look there is something else that needs doing. I have lists everywhere and I do panic a little as I think what needs to be done and the time left. Right now I really should be doing X Y and Z.

And then

in the midst of the chaos

there is relief.

At the end of the day I sit, pick up my needles and knit.

There is something soothing about the creative process, taking something from the chaotic to the ordered. Seeing the ideas and plans come to fruition as the needles click together. A sense of accomplishment as my FO emerges.

A time just for me. To sit. Relax. Unwind. To STOP thinking about what needs to be done and just 'do'.

I was reading theknittyvritti and she was explaining that "vrittis" are the contents of consciousness - the ongoing chatter in one's head. "Knitting itself, when it's going well, is an antidote for the vrittis. What a pleasure to be lost in the sensations of the act--the color of the yarn, the texture of the fabric, the sound of the needles softly sliding past each other"

So true. Without my daily dose of quietening the "to do" vrittis, I think I would be halfway insane by now.

Sometimes its not so much what you are making but that you are simply making

There will always be time in my day to knit a little sanity

Cuteness is...

Did you guess I was making bootees??


I am so totally in love with this pattern. Enough to make me think I'll never ever bother with any other bootee pattern.

Saartje's Bootee Pattern - extremely popular and oh so cute

The pattern is for 4ply and 2.5mm but I use 8ply and 3.25mm needles when I make these. My finished size is about 9.5cm and this size fit M from about 3months to about 6months. I love how quick these knit up and it is not a complicated pattern so is good for TV watching. The first time I made this I didn't do the straps as the pattern states and just fudged it (which was fine). This time I re-read it and realised it wasn't as difficult as what I had thought. Long tail cast on as per normal but use a 2nd (short) piece of yarn for the thumb strand.

I used leftover yarn from my pink mouse...


Tonight I wrapped up the mouse and the bootees and they are going to be sent off to a dear friend who is having a baby girl later this year.

I hope she likes them as much as I liked making them

See them on Ravelry

Monday, March 17, 2008

How to Tuesday : Blocking

I believe it was my forum friend Judy who first introduced me to blocking a couple of years ago. I had made a pair of longies and had used an ever so slightly too long a pair of circulars for the legs resulting in a very uneven fabric. Judy suggested I try blocking.


And she gave me this link (which I have bookmarked for ever). Thanks Judy!!

Blocking is basically CAREFULLY wetting or steaming your FO in order to even out the stitches or to shape the piece. Blocking also helps to uncurl stockinette stitch and is therefore a crucial step before seaming if you want to have flat and easy to seam pieces. You can also use it to CAREFULLY stretch your piece to the desired size.

I admit to being the kind of knitter who likes INSTANT results. Hence why I mainly knit very small things. Patience was apparently not something I was blessed with. I also admit to often 'using' or 'wearing' the FO straight off the needles. But the times when I have taken a deep breath and *actually* blocked my FO as my final 'finishing' step, I am always so impressed with the finish and how blocking makes my knitting look neater and more professional.

Mostly I am lazy and don't block stuff I make for me or the kids but I do however *always* block in the following circumstances -

- something is a gift (made the mistake of not prewashing dishcloths I gave to family at Xmas and Mum ended up with bright pink water the first time she used her cloth). Best to check for colour fastness if you're giving it away.

- intarsia and fairisle. The knitting I sell has a lot of intarsia and I always block the soakers I make. This also allows me to lanolise at the same time but mainly I do this to even out the knitting and make the pictures relax. They look much better post blocking.

- lots of seaming. Blocking pieces (I usually do steam blocking with my iron) before seaming makes the chore ten times easier so I do steam block if the FO is something like a cardigan or jumper that has quite a bit of seaming

There are a couple of different ways to block - e.g using your iron to steam the pieces, carefully hand washing/swishing (fully immersing in water) or spraying. A key step is to shape the wet peice either by stretching by hand or by laying out and pinning into shape. The links below describe the different techniques. Which one you should use depends on the weight&thickness of your yarn and and how fragile it is (obviously you would treat lace weight yarn differently than chunky homespun) and what you are wanting to achieve by blocking (making your stitches look even or stretching out a too small item) to block your knitting

Knitty link again

If you haven't already, go add TechKnitter to your RSS reader. SO MUCH wonderful information there. Every single post is something I've always wanted to know how to do. Great information there for every knitter so go add to you reader :)
This post about blocking has information about how to go about it and why you should.

Theres a blocking tutorial at the Purl Bee which explains how to block using a spray bottle or sprizter with your FO pinned into shape. There is also a YouTube clip here showing the spray/pin technique

I also found this page that has a really good illustration of the difference blocking can make

Happy Knitting (and blocking!)

PS. Blogger is being cranky for me today so sorry if you get this as a feed and it's a little wierd today. Think I have fixed now

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Bling bling

I am so lucky.

I have lovely friends who send me wee surprises in the mail.

Last week I got a special swap surprise from a very talented uber-crafty online friend. I made her some dishcloths and she was sending me a surprise in return. And this is what I got....

A set of very funky stitch markers

AND one of her 'signature' necklaces.
This is a really clever design where she knots beads inside funky fabric. I love this and can't wait to wear it 'properly'.

Here is my new WIP using my new gorgeous markers.

Can you guess what I am making?


And then, if I hadn't already had the best surprise mail EVER , ANOTHER package arrives. I am very blessed!

The lovely Neak read my post about my children running away with my bling so she sent me some more. What a sweetie!! She sent me another couple of stitch markers ( I now have tons and they should last me for ages, even once the others recruit babyM for the war against my knitting and it's 3 against 1) AND a gorgeous row counting bracelet. This is one very cool piece of knitting bling/accessory!


It works like an old fashioned abacus and you move the beads along at the end of the row to keep count. I am using it for the WIP I showed you above ...I just have to remember to move the bead lol. It is very cool. Thank you Neak.

Here I am up to row#13...

Friday, March 14, 2008


Hooray. Found my camera. Phew phew phew. Silly Mummy. (and here I was blaming miss 2 ...oops).

So I loaded up pics of the FO for my auntie. So if you are nosey you can check it out here. I will post pics of it on here once she's received it :) I am making part2 of it ATM now.

I feel like I haven't been doing lots of knitting lately. But I have been busy

In the past week I have needed to have a sort out of my stash and there were so many hanks sitting there, taking up lots of room. So I got motivated to wind them all. The Wool Company are changing some of their multi colours soon so I ordered some before they sold out of some colourways and because I am a good DD I ordered some for my Mum at the same time and wound hers too (so not all the wool in the pic is mine!!!! ) . I can't wait to see what new colours they will be releasing this winter.

(Wool in the row L to R..... Wool Company Seaweed , JJ's montage 8ply, WC Flamingo, WC Opal. Bottom row L to R.... WC Orchard, my hand dyed pink/purple, WC Watermelon, WC amber)

Things I learnt

- I don't really enjoy winding wool
- It is best to do this task when all small children are in bed
- Not all hanks are created equal, some wind really easily and others are a PITA and will have you cursing and wanting to throw the whole thing in the bin
-When your wool is wound in skeins it is much more appealing and you will want to plan a WIP or cast on with all of it all at once
-I will never wind 2kg of wool in one go ever again!! (10 x 200g hanks)
- I need a swift

All done now though. My wool box is looking nice and tidy and Mum has woolly mail on the way. Now I can plan some WIPS with the wool I was putting off knitting with because it needed wound.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Who knew...

Who knew bees would be so popular.

I winged it, made it up as I went and wasn't really planning on blogging it. But I was asked for the 'pattern' so I did. And then because I already had a designers page (for the hat pattern) I put the bees on Ravelry.

And now, 2 weeks later...

They are my most favourited project (is favourited a word???)
The pattern itself has been favourited more than 40! times
Its my most viewed blog entry
And every day someone googles 'knit a toy bee' and gets the page


I guess it's not just me that's a sucker for small and cute.

Ps . still no camera. i have checked laptop bag :) and no piles of washing in laundry (but I did check dryer and its not in there)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I'm feeling a little stressed. I can't find my camera. Anywhere. And I have looked. Everywhere.

The camera is not hiding;
under the beds,under the couch cushions, in my handbag knitting bag or nappy bag, behind the couch, out the window, in the toy boxes, in the nappy basket, outside, in the cupboard, drawers, dishwasher or oven (yes I was getting desperate). There must be somewhere obvious I have missed .....any suggestions?

I fear the worst as I havent seen it since Monday and yesterday was rubbish day. I have visions of N2 "putting it away" in the bin.

Luckily I downloaded the full memory card at the beginning of Feb so its only 5 weeks worth of photos, and all the good kids ones I've already put on my laptop and online. Ditto with all my knitting ones. However I still feel sick to my stomach thinking it might have been trashed. Photos are all you have when the moment is gone. Instant memories. I am very precious about photos and the loss of my camera is not something I want to contemplate.

So no photos from me today.

I finished my auntie's present today. It has come up very nice and it fits me nicely so hopefully the size is OK. The wool I chose is Cleckheaton Country Silk so it has a little bit of heathering in it. I really wanted to do something cabled so I purposefully chose something with bigger cables that wouldn't disappear with the flecked wool. I think I chose a good pattern although it seemed to take FOREVER to finish it. Less than 100g of wool but it was slow going. I think it was the ribbing pattern, and because I am an english style knitter this takes longer. I really should learn how to purl continental or norwegian style then I wouldn't have to throw the yarn before every stitch. I am really happy with that FO , just a pity I can't put a pic on Ravelry to show you :(

Anyway this would be boring without at least one pic so here is a photo my Mum took

Clearly the cat wanted some of the camera action too. Isn't she gorgeous? Mum swears she just lay down there herself and it wasn't staged. Mum's knitting that top for my 12yo sister and that's her WIP photo for Ravelry.

Mum joined Ravelry after hearing me extolling its many wonderful virtues. She taught me how to knit when I was young and then, a few years ago, very kindly let me raid her yarn and pattern stash which got me well and truly addicted . For my birthday this year Mum got me a subscription to a knitting magazine but only her and I appreciate what a neat gift that was. We now chat on the phone about WIPS and yarns and Ravelry. She also sends me gifts of yarn since I am so LYS deprived.

Its nice to share your hobby with someone who 'gets' it. Sadly DH doesn't.

My Nana was also a knitter so the craft is something that has been passed down the generations. I hope one day to pass the skill on to one, if not all, of my daughters too. I read this story on the YarnHarlots blog and I had a flash forward moment of me having 3 teenage girls and packing their bags in the same way.

Hope so anyway :)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

How to Tuesday : Stranded Knitting/Fair Isle

Tuesday again :) (yes really it is Tuesday here already)

Michaela asked about stranded knitting/floating colours behind your work so that's what this post is about.

Stranded knitting allows you to change colours on the same row (ie changing colours each stitch rather than each row). Probably the best known style of stranded knitting is Fair Isle which describes a style of patterned knitting that originated in Fair Isle near Scotland but people also use the term Fair Isle to indicate any type of stranded knitting. There is a wikipedia page about Fair Isle knitting here.

I use stranded knitting for the hats I make

The red/pink row I swap colours either every stitch or every 2 stitches (e.g 2 row red, row of pink/red alternating then 2 row of red). Sometimes I do the row 1 stitch of each colour and sometimes 2 stitches of each colour. When the hearts are only 2 stitches apart then the floats are not too long and I don't bother catching them. I simply just "float" them behind and pick them up again when I need them. I have read up to 7 stitches is Ok and I would only catch the stitches if the item was for a small child and I was worried about fingers or toes catching on the loose threads. You end up with a reverse image on the wrong side (if I can find my camera...grumble grumble....2 years old....grumble... I will take a pic of the inside of the hat)
I think the biggest thing is tension and that gets easier the more you practice. Read this page about floats and what they are and how to do them!

So..... how to do stranded knitting:

There is a video on knitting help (scroll down) here

There is also instructions here

Both of these sites give instructions on how to hold yarn for both continental and english style knitting.

I subscribe to the knitting in colour blog which is a wonderful resource for anything to do with stranded knitting. There is an excellent list of technique posts on the sidebar and some free patterns. She also has a list of other web based resources.

I also found this blog when link hunting which also looks great. I've bookmarked this one for future reference :) There are some great resources linked in her sidebar.

And finally if you are a Raveler then there is a Stranded group here. TONS of links and information there and would be a great place to ask for help if you need it. Check out the 17 group pages for oodles of links and resources for knitting in colour :)

Happy Knitting!

What shall we do next week?

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Some finished things

I couldn't help myself and CO with the Aspire almost immediately. Its lovely and soft, nice to knit with and I'm really pleased with these small longies I made for a friend expecting later this year.
They are the matching pants pattern from the Cleckheaton 948 book. I lengthened the rise and added some short rows so hopefully they will make nice little longies for her. I was hoping I would have enough for a matching hat or bootees but I don't have much left out of 100g.

It's very difficult to get a good picture of the colour but this is close. Its a little brighter and more purple in real life. Very nice and I think I will buy again. There is a chunky version coming out soon too which I was thinking might be good for a "me" project

I also have finished the knitting part of my fish mobile.

I just need to string them together and find some suitable beads for the inbetween just imagine them lined up like so and hanging up

This is a pattern from Zoe Mellors Knitted Toys book. I altered the tails so that I could knit them all in one piece (and save me a little bit of seaming). I also put a bell in one :) Louise at TwentyCentMixture made one of these here. Unfortunately I didnt remember what she said about embroidering on the eyes so mine will be eyeless too lol. The fish don't take long to do but are a bit fiddly to finish. The pattern is actually a chart which I didnt find too bad as I am used to knitting off intarsia charts. Very cute. And fabulous for little leftovers (wish I had some yellow or orange leftovers, I don't love the white one)

As for my WIPs I'm working on something for my auntie (and I'm not sure if she pops in here or not but just in case I wont go into details. If you are nosey you can see what I'm doing on my Ravelry page). Also decided to do something else for M7mth in the Jet since the shrug ended up in the frogpond. I got some 4.5mm and some 5.5mm needles last week at the Op shop so now I have every conceivable needle size to get the right gauge this time!! At the moment it is the Ribbed Jacket from Special Knits but if I can't get the tension right I will look for something else (sigh). So that is still in the swatching stage of things (the oh so fun part...not).

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Good Knitting Day Today

Today I had to do some errands in the next town over.

I'll just add a note here that we currently live in the middle of nowhere. In the north of the north island of New Zealand (4hrs north of Akld for all you kiwis playing at home). Before this year I've always lived in the South Island - where its colder. I lived in the city where there was a big LYS within walking distance of home and every other shop selling wool was only a big red bus trip away. Hats , gloves and woollies were a must for winter. Now we live where it is considerably warmer all year round but particularly in winter. Its hot and humid and sticky and very wet. So while you might need a really good rain jacket for winter during our first winter here last year none of us really wore hats or scarves that often. Funnily enough there really arent any LYS around here. Our tiny town has no LYS or anything related. There's not even an opportunity/charity shop to buy recycled yarn etc. The only place you can buy buttons is the local laundrette where they have a collection of old (but sometimes good) recycled buttons they've removed from unclaimed? clothes. In the next town over there is a small sewing centre which has 2 whole shelves of wool, much of it is cheap and nasty acrylic stuff and a really small selection of needles and buttons (behind the counter so you can't even get to them yourself). The place drives me nuts. The wool selection is basic and usually they do not have the colour/yarn combo I want. They are slow at ordering so the shelves are never fully stocked and invariably when I *need* a pair of needles they don't have that size. They also don't know anything about knitting. Sigh. Anyway just thought I would explain how LYS deprived I am.

Back to today's story. I was in the next town over and popped in (as you do) to the sewing centre. Much to my surprise the place must have got a big wool order in as the shelves were all full and there was even some NEW yarns. Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

They now stock this new yarn from Naturally

So scrummy!! Its pure NZ wool with 30% alpaca so I bet its going to be super soft. Nice colourways too...... but bestest of all???!!!!!! They donate 5c for every ball to child cancer organizations in NZ and Australia. The NZ organisation is the Child Cancer Foundation, the same place I blogged about here. Now, if that is not yarn you just have to buy I don't know what is! So I got a ball.

Then me and the little DDs headed over to the library. And I got out every knitting book they had. (Not that many funnily enough but all the ones they had, I got!)


Hmmmm knitting books.

Some of them I don't really want to knit anything out of them but I'm looking forward to just using them for inspiration/techniques etc. Sometimes I feel I'm always knitting the same things so I am hoping this will spark a bit motivation to try some new things. One of the books is about knitting socks. Something I thought I would NEVER knit but I keep seeing some pretty darn gorgeous socks on Ravelry and other knitting blogs so I am almost tempted to give it a go.

And Lace Style by Allen&Budd. I was pretty stoked to see that as I have been eyeing up the Retro Redux Shrug on Ravelry (sorry Rav link) and have been feeling more and more lately that I want to knit something for me, something like the grownup knitters make, something not small and not pink.So maybe something lacey????

I'm also hoping this influx of knitting books and gorgeous patterns will help me find some direction with my huge-probablynevercompleteinalifetime list of things I want to make. It feels like I have *alot* of things I want to do, many with yarn already purchased, and I can't seem to see the WIPS for the yarn. I have tons of friends having babies this year so I need to sort out what to do for whom, I need to do some hat samples, I need to do some more longies for princess fatty bum, M5 wants a mini calorimetry, a perdita cuff and a fairy doll, my sister wants some gloves, not to mention I add to my Ravelry queue every day (sigh). Nicky has scared me into being a bit more organised with presents this year so I've cast on for my auntie's present whose birthday is next month as well.

Anyway books = motivation eh? Well let's hope so

On with the day's happenings..... We also went to the local op shop and I scored some needles. I am apparently not a needle snob! I got a MATCHING pair of 3.25mm to tide me over until sewing centre orders me in another set of bamboo ones, plus another couple of sizes that I don't have (and haven't needed yet but you never know). I also got a set of sock sized DPN's , just in case ;)

So all in all a good knitting day considering I haven't actually knitted anything yet.

Later when the kids in bed and I'm having my weekly date with Gordon Ramsay (that's just for you kb) I might just cast on with that Aspire. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

How to knit a toy bee


Now I know you have *always* wanted to knit a small stripey bee. So here's how you do it (I wasn't going to post instructions but I've put these on Ravelry (here) and someone asked me here they are)

Firstly you go and buy some yellow and black yarn. Or you dig around in your stash for some little bits of leftovers. I splashed out on some Panda Disco which retails here for the outrageous price of $1 a ball. It's acrylic, it's cheap and it's perfect for a little project like this. Don't get me wrong, I have a love affair with wool and all its wonderful properties but sometimes acrylic is the way to go. And this is one of them. Bright , machine washable, doesn't pill and its no biggie if it ends up in the sandpit, out in the garden or being slobbered on. If you get the Disco it comes as 20g balls. I think you might get about half a dozen bees from the 2 balls.

I used 3.25mm needles as the yarn I used is 8ply/dk. You can use whatever yarn you want , just choose needles a few sizes smaller than usual so that your knitting will be dense so that the stuffing won't show through

Begin at the nose, CO5 in yellow
(K1M1) 3 times, K2 =8st
Change to black and do a 2 row st st stripe
Change to yellow and do a 2 row st st stripe
Continue this stripe pattern until you have 4 black stripes (3 yellow stripes+nose).
Change to yellow and knit one row
(P2 P2tog) to end =21st
(K1K2tog)*K3 =15st
(P1P2tog)* =10st
(K2tog)* =5st
P2tog,P1,P2tog = 3st

On these 3 stitches either do 3 or 4 rows of st st or slip them onto a DPN and do 4rows of Icord.
K3tog and BO, leave a long tail
Thread tail down through stinger (ifyou did the st st option you will need to seam the stinger too)and use tail of thread to seam your bee. I used back stitch because the bees were so small and I find it easier to match up stripes. Leave a small opening. Turn right sides out. Stuff with filler then sew up remaining part of seam.
Embroider on some eyes

Wings (make 2)
In black CO5. Work one row seed/moss stitch.
CO1 at the beginning of next row, patt to end.
Rep this row until you have 15st (or until you decide its the right size)
One row patt with no increasing

Sew onto to your bee (I put mine on the 2nd black stripe) and you are all done :)

CO3 in yellow
(K1M1)*K1 =5st
(K1M1)*K1 =9st
Change to black and do a 2 row st st stripe
Change to yellow and do a 2 row st st stripe
Continue this stripe pattern until you have 4 black stripes (3 yellow stripes+nose).
Change to yellow and knit one row
P2togP1P2tog =3st

Make your stinger as for Mama Bee and follow instructions above for sewing up and stuffing. Embroider on eyes.

Wings (make2)
CO 3 in black. Work one row in moss/seed stitch
CO1 at the beginning of next row, patt to end
Repeat this row until 9st (or until you decide its the right size)
Work one row in patt with no increase
BO and sew on.

The Mama Bee is approx 10cm long and about 5cm high&wide. Baby bee is about 8cmx3cmx3cm. They are a nice size for small hands and would make a great mobile or rattle (just buy a small bell/rattle from your haberdashery shop and pop in with your stuffing). You can easily make more bees slightly bigger and smaller by fudging the increases at the nose to get a different number of stitches for the body.


I did double check the numbers but a typo or 2 may have slipped in. Feel free to email me if you find an error.

Would love to see your bee creations so send me a link , or a pic I can post here :)

This pattern is for personal use only. Swaps, gifts and charitable 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.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Buzzy Bees

The mice were a big hit with the DDs.

N2 is what you would probably call a 'late talker' and she doesn't have the hugest vocabulary yet. One of the words she does have is 'bee'. Now, I don't know if she insists on calling the mice 'a bee' because she can say it , or if the stripeyness reminds her of bees or if its the big ears like wings maybe? Anyway, she calls them bees. All the time.

How could I to deny her?


I just had to...


Another weekend spent knitting small stripey objects. By now it will be obvious I have no social life.


She loves them. Awwwww

How to Tuesday : Mattress Stitch

The logical part of my brain is telling me I should probably be starting with casting on since this is a beginning of sorts.

Actually just to be contrary, I decided to start with part of the finishing process....seaming with mattress stitch.

Learning how to mattress stitch was probably the biggest defining moment in my knitting journey (thanks Mum!). Prior to learning how to seam this way I really didn't know what I was doing, I think I just attacked my knitting with a darning needle and hoped to high heaven it was going to stay sewn together. I haven't yet met a knitter who actually likes seaming. For me getting all the knitting done fills me with a sense of pride and achievement and then simultaneously with dread, as I know it's not *actually* finished yet. I know a lot of knitters who try to do nearly everything in the round to avoid seaming.

Seaming is a pain in the behind but if you can achieve a tidy seam it really can make the difference between something looking homemade as opposed to handmade.

So mattress stitch.

This type of seaming starts by placing your two pieces of work lying side by side , right sides up. I know, sounds wierd. You catch the stitches on alternate sides and pull tightly to create an invisible seam. It gives a really tidy finish and because you are working with the right sides facing you , it is easy to see where you are at and how the finished result will look.

I use mattress stitch almost exclusively if I is a pair of shorties I've made and a photo showing the side seam

Tidy huh?

How to Mattress Stitch

There is a 2min video here at (scroll down to the finishing section).

If you are on dialup have a look at this Knitty article that has pictures. I also found this article
from a UK learn to knit site which has some excellent close up pictures (scroll down the page to find the mattress stitch instructions)

Anna from Mochimochi Land wrote a fabulous fabulous post this week about using mattress stitch . She covers vertical, horizontal and horizontal-to-vertical seaming (lots of clear pictures) plus some great instructions for using mattress stitch in toy making (e.g attaching arms). This is a really great article that you can apply to all types of FO's.

The Knitty article covers mattress stitching when your garment is made in garter stitch

Happy Seaming!

Would love some feedback, is this helpful? Or a dumb idea? What shall we do next Tues?
Back to regular FO stuff tomorrow ;)

Sunday, March 2, 2008

"How to" Tuesday

I've decided I'm going to pretend I am a real knitting blog and do a regular 'thing' - indulge me if you will. First it was going to be WIP Wednesday but then I decided that might get a bit tiresome seeing half finished projects every single week, so I settled upon "How to" Tuesday.

Basically it means every Tues (or thereabouts) I'm going to post a 'how to'.

Now....don't worry I will not be inflicting you with my own explanations or my own photo tutorials of how to do things.
For several reasons including
a. I don't always explain things very well, just ask my Mum about the 45min conversation we had during the weekend where I 'helped' her get her flickr account working and her photos up on Ravelry
b. If you haven't already noticed my camera doesn't always take the greatest photos and when I use the macro function it usually ends up looking like I took the photo at midnight in a dark room
c. I am no expert. I am always expanding my knitting skills repertoire and while I know some stuff well there is still a lot for me to learn
d. Everything I do know how to do, I learnt either from someone else or by looking up on the internet - therefore if I know someone has already written a perfect explanation of something why reinvent the wheel! Plus if I give you the link they get the credit and the site traffic :)

So the 'how to' will consist of a bit of an intro from me and then some great links you can go to if you want to find out more.

If you are an 'advanced' knitter there is probably not going to be anything new for you so feel free to write this off as a waste of time. I do know some of my forum friends who are new to knitting might check in here occasionally and I hope they find some of the information helpful. I also realise if you have a computer and can google, you are more than capable of finding good links yourself (go for it!!) but sometimes you simply "don't know what you don't know". If you don't know what something is called or know the terms to look for or simply don't know there are alternatives then that's not going to help you much.

One of the great things about subscribing to *ahem* alot of knitting and crafting blogs is that every now and then amongst all the FO and WIP posts someone takes the time to explain how they do something and you think OMG HOW did I not know how to do that???!!! Don't worry, I will be sharing those kind of posts.

So hopefully 'how to ' tuesday will spread the knitting love, help some new knitters and maybe you will find some great new blogs and knitting sites to add to your reader in the process :)


According to Wikipedia....

Calorimetry -the science of measuring the heat of chemical reactions or physical changes. The word calorimetry is derived from the Latin word calor, meaning heat. Scottish physician and scientist Joseph Black, who was the first to recognize the distinction between heat and temperature, is said to be the founder of calorimetry.

There was more to the article, but I am pretty sure you don't want to read about enthalpy, heat capacity and Hess's Law. (I used to know what these terms meant by the way. 4 years of a Chemistry Honours degree will teach you all about such engrossing subjects.)

Anyway what's interesting about calorimetry (aside from the fact that you can measure the heat of chemical reactions of course), is if you go to google and type in calorimetry, you don't get the scientific stuff as the number one entry....nope..... you get this

Thats' a knitting pattern!!

For this

Possibly the world's most popular head scarf thingy. 3529 projects on Ravelry!! This is one heck of a popular pattern. So just to see what the fuss is all about I made one.

The yarn is something I was given in a secret santa type swap and I'm not sure what it is, although I have since seen pictures of Kairanga and I think it's probably that. A very quick knit, only took a couple of hours and there is no pesky seaming or anything like that. A friend gave me the heads up that the pattern version is quite large so I modified it and only cast on 88 and did 10 repeats in each section. It is a great fit and is long enough to cover ears without being too wide.

I think it will be good for autumn mornings when its chilly but not really cold enough for a hat. I'm thinking I might make M5 a mini one. She asked for a pink one funnily enough.

See it on Ravelry