Friday, December 26, 2014

Deadline knitting

Like an awful lot of knitters, I spent December in a flurry of knitting gifts and a Christmas outfit for the small human. Now that Christmas deadlines are over, I feel like I have time to relax, and share some of the projects. 

Yarn: Rico Essentials Soft Merino Aran in beige & purple.
I enjoyed knitting these toddler sized slipper socks, but found sewing the outer sole on to the sock a little bit fiddley. I added little dots of Sock Stop to the soles.  It's liquid latex in a bottle, also from Rico. I've heard of people doing little hearts and flowers with sock stop, but I found it a little bit messy to apply. Perhaps I just need to spend more time with it! 
When I first put these on the small human's feet, she ran around exclaiming 'Warm! Warm!'... so I think that means she likes them!

Yarn: Debbie Bliss Rialto 4 ply
This was a very enjoyable knit; I just flew through the lace portions! The fingerless mitts look rather dainty & elegant,  but the lace pattern is very accommodating, easily stretching to fit even my chunky hands. The mitts used less than one ball of 4 ply from deepest stash, so I suspect there may be more in my future. 

Yarn: Milla Mia Naturally Soft Merino
This dotey little cardigan features a simple cable stitch in the yoke and at hems & cuffs. The original pattern calls for a contrast colour, but I decided to stick with just the one colour for this particular project. I found when knitting this that my gauge wasn't its usual just-a-little-loose self, and ended up tinkering with needle sizes, and knitting a the three year old size at a tighter tension for my not-quite two year old, making sure there was a little growing room (I really should double check the gauge & note it too!)
This was for the small human's Christmas Day outfit, only just finished just on time! I am already thinking about colour options for another one - perhaps I might match the contrast colour to the buttons? Or perhaps I might knit Brook, the jumper version? And then I might just have to knit Beck, the adult jumper... I never did quite get around to matching mother & baby knits!

Thursday, December 4, 2014


I've been feeling rather guilty about neglecting the blog lately, so I'm sharing a spinning project from some weeks ago. This was an experiment in blending colours using hand carders.
Originally, I wanted to mix some flashes of bright colours (pinks & reds) in with some greys - something I've admired in mixed fibre batts from LHogan, that grew up to become a hat.
In practise, the grey gotland fibre I selected was far too slippery for my liking. It did not blend at all with the brightly dyed merino.
The resulting yarn was somewhat marled & uneven in thickness & texture.
I came to the realisation that I could introduce the grey as a separate yarn in the finished knit object, whatever that may be, and carded the bright colours together in varying proportions. Some mini batts were dominated by deep purples, some pinks, and some red. I've also come to the conclusion that there is a place in my fibre stash for neon pink - it looks wonderful as a highlight with red fibre. 
The finished yarn is 135 metres, 110 grammes of chain-plied yarn, of about dk - aran weight. The colours are just calling to me in these short dull days... but I must get on with knitting some winter gifts first!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Gratuitous cake photo

I haven't been in much of a sharing mood lately due to a combination of factors. We've just moved house, and most of my knitting has involved swatches, and ongoing projects. December is quickly approaching though, so I really ought to get finishing some gift knits. 

Until then, I leave you with an oreo cupcake. I didn't share this either. I regret nothing. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Sculpture in Context 2014

The Sculpture in Context exhibition is on at the Dublin Botanic Gardens now, until October 17th.
I quite enjoy wandering about the Botanic Gardens any day of the year, but really enjoy keeping an eye out for the sculptures - especially the almost-hidden ones on a stroll through the garden. 

Of course, the textile works have an extra special place in my heart. 
Prophecy by Mette Sofie Roche

 Uproot by Marika Miklosi Manning

I managed to wander through the Palm House when the sprinkler system had just been switched on. The beautiful light  on a sunny day was worth the soaking.

Small Breaths by Margaret Tuffy

I'm hoping to make another leisurely trip around the gardens before the exhibition closes, as I've only seen a fraction of the works on display.

Monday, September 8, 2014

New pattern: Dapple Cowl

A number of weeks ago, I was presented with a skein of Juniper Moon Farm Herriot Heathers, and a challenge to knit something 'cowl like' in less than two weeks. 
The yarn is beautifully cosy, drapes wonderfully, and has the most wonderful subtle heathered appearance - too subtle to capture successfully on camera (unless you actually know what you're doing with a camera!). After some experimentation with this baby alpaca yarn, I realised that a little lace would show it off nicely. Existing patterns on Ravelry were not speaking to me, and so the Dapple Cowl was born! 

The cowl is knit in the round and features a lace panel surrounded by stocking stitch. It uses one skein of the Herriot Heathers and is long enough to wear as a hood over your head too, for particularly chilly days.

The lace panel is inspired by the dappled light through late summer trees - something that I've often stopped to admire on walks through my neighbourhood. Our trees are still full of green leaves, but there is a slight chill in the air in the evenings, and there's a hint of red and gold on some leaves. A reminder that colder weather is on the way (music to a knitter's ears!). The lace motif is borrowed from Barbara Walker's 'A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns', and is easy enough to memorise.

The pattern is available to download now for free.

The yarn should be available in This is Knit in the coming weeks!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sewing - Little Summer Dress

During the recent warm weather I've mostly been dressing the small human in loose light dresses & leggings. I picked up this little frock in H&M recently, and figured the construction was simple enough to imitate; raglan sleeves with an a-line body and a little bit of elastic at the neck & sleeve to gather. No buttons, no zippers.
All of the cottons I had in fabric stash seemed a little too heavy for the humid weather. I used lighter cotton fabric from an old blouse of mine (it had a hole in one sleeve and a wee tea stain in the front that wouldn't wash out) and some cord elastic I had lying about the house. I won't show off the internal seams, as I was up to my usual tricks of just lashing things together haphazardly. Must do better next time. (for the record, the dress is not as wonky as it appears in this photo. Must also play closer attention when taking photos!)

There were pleats & darts on the front of the original blouse that I kept in the fabric; it's extra room for air to circulate on warm days. Though, now that the dress is done the weather has turned cooler! I'm delighted to make something useful out of damaged clothing; I've still got some scraps of the fabric left that may become bunting or patchwork eventually. 

I haven't posted about knitting in a while; I'm working away on quite a few too many things at once, as usual. I've just picked up Rialto 4ply for my next planned project; Hansel by Gudrun Johnston.  I'll be combining existing stash with the new yarn, and joining in with This is Knit's Hap-along... once I get a couple of other ongoing projects out of the way.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Finished project ; Reversible Hooded Play Cape

My niece has just turned four.  Her most favourite thing at the moment is to 'be' Elsa from Frozen. So I thought she might appreciate an Elsa-coloured cape to swirl and flounce in. 
I used the Reversible Hooded Play Cape from Growing up; Sew Liberated by Meg McElwee.

I thought long & hard, & dragged out most of the fabric stash before settling on a red corduroy bought years ago combined with an aqua blue satin-ish fabric from Murphy Sheehy's, convinced that shiny fabric would be more 'princessy' in the mind of a 4 year old. 

I am a very inexperienced sewer; I have never actually used a commercial pattern before, but I found both the pattern and written instructions clear & thorough.

 I did learn a valuable lesson about fabric choices in this project. That shiny blue fabric slipped & moved like crazy during every stage of the project; the red corduroy also slipped in an entirely different direction. I've never been hugely accurate at cutting and sewing fabric, and as a result I ended up trimming off quite a bit of fabric from the edges.
Luckily, the fit of the project is not critical and I ended with a wearable cape. Though the only available model was far from impressed with being asked to sit or stand still....

For the record, I did try it on, and I am tempted to sew an adult sized version. I look forward to making dressing up clothes for my own little one when she is a little older. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Finished knit - Pippi Longstocking

''She was the strangest girl that Tommy and Annika had ever seen. It was Pippi Longstocking, going out for her morning walk. 
This is what she looked like: 
Her hair was the colour of a carrot and it was plaited in two tight plaits that stuck straight out. Her nose was the shape of a very small potato, and it was completely covered with freckles...
Her dress was quite odd. Pippi had made it herself. It was supposed to have been blue, but there hadn't been enough blue material, so Pippi had decided to sew on little red patches here and there. ''

The Adventures of Pippi Longstocking, by Astrid Lindgrin.

My lovely little niece has has just turned one. To celebrate the occasion, I wanted to give her a classic book with appropriate toy*.  In spite of never actually reading the book, I have always had a soft spot for Pippi Longstocking. She's independent, generous, and the strongest girl in the world - what's not to love?! Plus the red hair is just a bonus.
Pattern; Poppy by Ysolda TeagueYarn; Patons UK fab DK for the body; Sirdar Snuggly DK for the hair & dress; DK weight scraps for patches on dress, and sock leftovers for stockings & boots.

Unlike many toy patterns, this doll is knitted in the round, in one piece, with stitches for arms held on spare yarn, much like say a top down raglan jumper. Brilliant for someone who doesn't enjoy seaming about a million little pieces of knitting!

My only deviations from the pattern were for the surface details;
I stitched & knotted individual strands for the hair **to allow plaiting, and added a few freckles across the face. I also added a couple of duplicate stitch patches, and knit separate long stockings with boots (I had knit stockings as part of the legs but they were much too short).

As often happens after I finish a toy, I want to make another; with added clothes, and accessories like Mr Nilsson. And I really want to get another copy of the book just so I can read it myself to my own Small Human.

*My Small Human received two knitted bunny toys and The Velveteen Rabbit for her first birthday from her auntie; I admit to stealing the book + matching toy idea. 

**Massive thanks to Sue for providing the perfect orange yarn from stash for that!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Not knitting

 I've been working away on a couple of projects over the last month or so with specific deadlines, and the last week or so has been spent sewing, grafting, weaving in ends. All the fiddly little things that are necessary to finish a knit properly. 

The final project looks much neater thanks to a photo tutorial recently posted on Ysolda's blog; Technique Thursday -weaving in ends.  It's one of those simple-but-brilliant tips that I didn't realise I needed to know, but has improved the look of my finished items since. I do love learning!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Cherry Blossom Bonnet - new pattern

Just a few short weeks ago, the trees were full of spring blossoms. 

To my mind, the appearance of cherry blossoms, and the pink petals raining down in a gust of wind is confirmation of spring; of warmer weather; of birthday parties (I was an April baby) and Easter egg indulgence; of wandering in the long grass and building dens in the nearby fields; of freckles on your nose & forehead; of climbing trees and peering out from the leafy canopies.

Inspired by these pink masses of petals, I have released the Cherry Blossom Bonnet pattern.  This bonnet is intended to keep your little one warm during the winter months, while reminding you that spring will come!
The bonnet uses two skeins of Jamieson & Smith 2 ply jumper weight, one each in shades FC50 and 43. It is knit in the round, with a steek; the top is grafted together; the steek is cut and then the bonnet is finished with an edging of garter stitch and i-cord. It is available in two sizes (up to 12 months and up to 24 months). However, its shape will fit a range of head sizes as the little one grows.
The pattern is available on Ravelry, or as a download.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Finished Knit; Owlet jumper

This was the only knit project I cast on and completed during the entire month of April. It's the lovely Owlet by Kate Davies.  It's become a bit of a tradition that the babies of my family receive their own Owlet for their first birthday, so my own Small Human *needed* one too. I knit the largest baby size, and it should be perfect for next winter, with an extra bit of growing room. She's wearing it here over another knitted garment.

I used a little over 3 balls of Rico Essential Soft Merino Aran, in an almost-oatmeal colour.
The yarn is lovely to knit with, is machine washable, and I am assured it wears very well.
I omitted the buttons-as-owl-eyes as I suspect the baby would chew them off the jumper. Perhaps the next one shall have buttons, or embroidered knots instead?

Monday, May 5, 2014

Woolapalooza Sheep Festival at Airfield

I wanted to try make the most of the long weekend, so yesterday our little family packed up the car & headed over to Airfield in Dundrum.  We haven't been there since major refurbishments have taken place. The entrance is now much larger & within easy walking distance of the Balally Luas stop, and the new buildings are beautiful, using impressively large wooden beams for support. Of course, I forgot to get photos of all of that, but you really just want to see the sheep. 

Woolapalooza Sheep Festival offered us the chance to see sheep shearing... (spot the impressive handspun jumper that I suspect was made from Jacob based on the colours).

 And sheep dog trials. 
We had a good wander around the grounds & spotted these 2 day old piglets curled up with their mamma - they look so cosy!
We also got to see some lambs frolicking in the fields while we wandered along the woodland paths.  

There were also knitting, felting, spinning and weaving displays, but the small human's need for a nap was of more importance than this mammy's want to see craft displays. We also missed the speed knitting competition, and I really want to know who won & how fast they knit!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Sewing FO - sun hat

I present to you a 'vintage' baby sun-bonnet. It was mine as a baby, and I'm reasonably sure that my dolls wore it too. It's now coming in useful for my own Small Human in the glorious sunny weather we have had recently. 
But it's always useful to have more than one. I used the original bonnet as a template, & whipped up a second one in some leftover camouflage fabric. It just took an hour or two. Of course, I had to add just a little hint of girlie, with some pink gingham ribbon around the outside...
and some pink gingham lining on the inside. 
She even keeps it on sometimes, as she seems to realise the wide brim keeps the sun out of her eyes. 
The other half has been referring to this hat as 'Little Soldier on the Prairie' - seems accurate!
I intend to make another one or two in plainer fabrics, so that they will go with any outfit we might have on her. I've recently been watching 'The Great British Sewing Bee' so have found it strangely exciting and satisfying to whip up something useful & wearable in one evening.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Baby garments (or Lessons in Swatching part 2)

I spent most of the month of March knitting two cardigans for the small human. Being rather small, these garments should not have taken so long to knit, only I chose to ignore the swatching process. 

It seems that my tension, and therefore my stitch gauge has somehow changed all of a sudden. I was a slightly loose knitter & almost always got gauge using a needle one size smaller than recommend in the pattern.

Yarn: Rico Essentials Soft Merino Aran
Button: From my mother's button jar. 

This cardigan had about 3 false starts. 
It began as a more complicated pattern, but I was in the mood for a simpler piece of knitting. 
I first started to knit the pattern as written; then chose to re-knit several times to avoid staggered stitches at the neckline, and when I realised the garment would be too small. 
I checked my gauge somewhere along the knit & realised it was tighter than required by the pattern. I did like the resulting fabric though, and knit the 2-4 years size in that tighter gauge to suit my 12 month old. I'm happy with the resulting garment, and it's written up in adult sizes too! 

Pattern; Mini Manu from Kate Davies
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino.
Buttons: from Hickey's 

It appears that I am a slow learner. 
After finishing the Harvest cardigan, I cast on for a Mini-Manu. I knit the body up to the underarms. I knit the sleeves. I joined the sleeves to the body & knit a few more rows. All this time I was ignoring the niggling voice in my head, saying that the cardigan looked a little small. After about a week or so of churning out the knitting, I finally took out a tape measure. I measured the small human's chest & told myself that once the i-cord edging was added that the cardigan should fit her. And I continued to knit. 

I then measured a dress I would like this cardigan to fit over, and finally, I measured out ten centimetres of knitting & checked my stitch gauge. Whoops! Too small.

I started again, using a larger needle, & treating one sleeve as a swatch. This time I got gauge. I also chose to knit a bigger size, as these small humans have a habit of growing.
The cardigan fits, with a little room for growing. 
I omitted the crumbcatchers pockets, and omitted the gathered effect of the sleeves by casting on the number of stitches required after increases listed in the pattern. I've been turning up the sleeves of most of her cardigans until she grows into them, particularly at mealtimes.

I haven't since checked my gauge against my previous standard. Most knitting these moments happens when I am on standby, waiting for the small human to wake from her naps, so perhaps I'm not quite as relaxed about it. 

I also wonder if we'll be sending her to gymnastics when she's a little older, as she seems to have perfected the splits. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Lessons in Swatching

I realise that I have written very little about knitting lately. This is largely due to the fact that most of my knitting time has been spent working up swatches, experimenting with colour & pattern.

Now that I've settled on colour it's time to do some calculations, only I forgot to write down which sized needle I used.... Oops.

The lesson here is to always write things down because;
1. I will not remember the needle size and
2. I will probably put the needle back in the needle case before I get around to measuring it.

Friday, March 28, 2014


Today I visited Newbridge Farm. It's Spring (of course), so there were prancing kid goats, suckling calves and curled up lambs to see. 
While walking around the grounds that surround the farm I spotted something....

Wool. I was tempted to gather it up for spinning, but considering the bulk of my fibre stash...
Perhaps some birds will have a lovely snug nest this year?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Very Simple Baby Mitts

The small human has been growing quite a bit (as they do), and my usual trick of pulling cardigan or jacket sleeves down over her hands when out & about isn't quite keeping her hands warm anymore. 
I decided to whip up a pair of mittens for her. These took 2 (short) evenings to make. 

Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran - about 58 metres
Size: These mittens fit my 11 month old, with a little room for growing. Her wrist measures 11 cm. 
Needles: 4mm circular needle long enough for magic loop  (or DPNs if you prefer)
Gauge: 20 st per 10 cm in stocking stitch
Other bits: crochet hook, for the string; darning needle for grafting & weaving in the ends

CO 28 stitches fairly loosely.
Join for working in the round taking care not to twist the stitches.
Work in K2, P2 ribbing for 8 cm.
Work in stocking stitch for 8 cm.

Ensure stitches are distributed evenly between two halves of your 'magic loop'; they should be split into 2 groups of 14 stitches.
Decrease round: *K1, SSK, K to 3 st before end of needle, K2tog, K1* repeat.
Continue this decrease round until there are 12 stitches remaining.
Using the darning needle, graft together the live stitches at the top of the mitten.
Weave in ends.
Knit second mitten in same manner.

Crochet a chain of about 55 cm. The chain should be long enough to stretch from mitten cuff to mitten cuff, across the child's back. It's best to check the child or their clothes where possible; if in doubt, make it longer than necessary, as excess can always be knotted out of the way until they grow into it.
Join chain to the cuff of each mitten either with crochet hook or darning needle.

I had thought she would complain about having her hands covered when out & about (she loves to poke at anything within reach), but she seems happy enough to chew on the mitts.
I intend to make another pair, as all the chewing tends to make them soggy*

*I know, wool stays warm when wet, but putting wet mittens back on to her hands is a line I'm not going to cross ... for now. 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Handspun cowl

Over the past month I have turned some lovely fluff into yarn...
and that yarn into a cowl.
The fibre was hand dyed organic merino tops, from LHogan. To try get a lovely soft & fluffy yarn, I hand-carded dyed tops into small batts; the resulting yarn is 2-ply and knits up as a DK weight. I cast on 110 stitches, and knit in the round until I had what seemed like a useful length for keeping necks warm. 
This cowl will be in the post to its new owner in the coming days. I'm sure she won't feel the need to take daft photos while modelling it.