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FO: Peggy Sue slouch beanie

11 Jun

So, an awesome combination of things happened Sunday before last.

  • It was insanely sunny and warm, especially given it was the first day of Winter as we do our seasonal reckoning
  • My talented photographer friend Sarah visited me
  • She brought her camera
  • She agreed to take lots of photos.

And lots of photos were taken of lots of things! So I can finally catch up on masses of unblogged creations!

I’m going to start you off with something simple. Some awesome knitting.

It was really really REALLY bright. I'm avoiding looking at the sun at all costs.

It was really really REALLY bright. I’m avoiding looking at the sun at all costs.

Well, mostly awesome knitting.

After finishing my Peggy Sue cardigan, I had some yarn leftover and wanted to do something simple while I mentally laboured over the planning for my next cardigan (which I’ve now just finished too!) So I grabbed a simple knitted-flat-and-seamed beanie pattern and cast on. I didn’t bother swatching, just sized up the same way I had for Peggy Sue, and got into it.

Arrrgh I need to trim my fringe!

Arrrgh I need to trim my fringe!

I did have to frog quite a bit on my first attempt as I missed the itty-bitty-but-really-important piece of text that said “knit in stocking until it measures 16cm” and so I started my shaping immediately after the rib band, resulting in something a little like a yarmulke, whoops! But after ripping back the shaping and checking the pattern, I was away.

I’m not sure I was very good at measuring the 16cm though, because this has happened.

Do I have short head? Can I not measure? Is it a typo? Regardless, this is not what I was expecting!

Do I have short head? Can I not measure? Is it a typo? Regardless, this is not what I was expecting!

I wasn’t frogging it a second time though, so I’ve decided that it’s not a beanie, it’s a slouch hat, and the extra height is perfect for going over my pony tail. Sometimes in the wind it slides down into my eyes, so I’m just going to have to wear it with a bobby pin or two to secure it at a jaunty angle.

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I could fix it by wearing it with the brim turned up

Normally my blog posts have lots and lots of words (so much so that the next post I’m drafting I’ve had to split into two) but somehow this one doesn’t warrant it. Consider it a reprieve until my next overly wordy post appears!

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Or maybe I'll just wear it like this!

FO and MOS 10/52: Peggy Sue cardigan

13 Oct

I can’t hear the words Peggy Sue without hearing this song in my head. But this isn’t a story about a song. It’s a story about this cardigan. A looong overdue story about a cardigan I knitted all by myself.

So proud of myself for knitting a whole cardigan!

So proud of myself for knitting a whole cardigan!

This was my summer 2012 knitting project. After learning to knit Christmas 2011 and spending 2012 knitting baby clothes and slippers, I wanted to graduate to making grown-up garments. But I knew I’d want Mum around to help so waited until my Christmas 2012 holiday at Mum’s to crack into it.

I started looking at patterns and yarn months earlier, emailing links and scanned patterns to Mum for her perusal. Eventually we settled on Peggy Sue – the pattern was free (here from Ravelry) and Mum decided it was a suitable balance of easy but not boring with a couple of new skills.

I cast on on Christmas day 2012 with my new Knitpro needles (having swatched earlier and Mum giving me the right sized needles that day as a Christmas present!) The pattern was easy to follow and flew off the needles. I cast off on January 6 and sewed on my buttons and wove in the ends the day after, making this my first make of 2013. I was DELIGHTED.

My first day's effort. I knitted for about 8 hours straight after casting on at lunchtime.

My first day’s effort. I knitted for about 8 hours straight, after casting on at lunchtime.

I made some alterations to the pattern, all in the length. I shortened the stocking stitch portion so it finished just under my boobs, and did one or two sets less of cable ribbing so that the finished length sits on my true waist (which is naturally high). And I lengthened the sleeves so they finished just above the elbow as the yarn was so super smoodgy that I was worried it would be too warm for super short sleeves. Otherwise I knit it as written. I was exactly in between sizes so went for the smaller of the two to ensure a close fit.

I was determined to finish the cardi so knitted everywhere, including in the car on the way to Russel

I was determined to finish the cardi so knitted everywhere, including in the car on the way to Russell!

Although the vast majority of this is stocking stitch, it does have a cable rib section. This was my first time doing cable and I really enjoyed it, so I’m looking forward to working more of this in the future.

I do want to stabilise the button band with ribbon to stop the ripply edge that the cardigan gets – this is in the pattern photo too so it seems to be the thing, but I don’t like it! So it’s been sitting in my mending pile all winter – better get on to that soon!

I love the cropped length and slightly longer sleeves

I love the cropped length and slightly longer sleeves

The yarn is Urban 8 ply machine washable wool from Skeinz, and it’s lovely. Unfortunately I haven’t worn it much. This year we had the most amazing summer in Wellington ever, stretching well out into what should have been autumn – then turning into winter almost overnight. I went from singlet tees to merino thermals without much lingering in the middle. However, as we head into spring now hopefully it’ll get a lot more use. I do still worry that the sleeves should be full length, in case as the finished garment is too warm for the sleeve length I’ve got, but I think it’ll be a great season transition piece – if we ever have seasonal transitions.

No bagginess at the back, yay!

No bagginess at the back, yay!

Although I’ve never knitted a traditional make and sew knitted top, so proper scientific comparison is impossible, I’m already enamoured of the top down all-in-one method as it’s great for fitting and it’s so exciting to cast off and tadah! Have a finished object sitting in your lap.

I have since cast on another cardigan for myself but progress this year has been SLOW. I’ve taken a leaf from Lladybird and started knitting in my lunchbreaks, although have inadvertently ended up agreeing to teach a colleague to knit as a result. Whoops! However, in the last couple of weeks since knitting at lunch it’s really started moving along so fingers crossed it’s finished soon!

A close up to shot the neat cable rib band at the neck and the moss stitch band

A close up to show the neat cable rib band at the neck and the moss stitch button band

The final set of photos were taken the same time as the photos from my skirt remakes, so once again heaps of thanks to Jo from Making it Well for wielding the fancy camera and Grace from Miss la Belle for the posing tips. It was so much fun hanging out with these guys!

And because of Grace's and Jo's influence, here is my knitting-does-pinup pose.

And because of Grace’s and Jo’s influence, here is my knitting-does-pinup pose.

FO: Eve slippers

9 May

Having learned to knit in December 2011, I’d been looking for simple, quick projects to practice on. When I was at Rocking in the Hutt in February 2012 with D, a camping enthusiast, he mentioned he was looking for thick socks to wear in his tent at night. My craft-gift-opportunity alarm went off and I knew instantly that this was a prime knitting opportunity! Slippers!

I spent a lot of time on Ravelry searching for the perfect pattern. The slippers had to come up to the ankle (so many slipper patterns leave the top of the foot bare, why???), but it had to be free, had to be knitted in the flat, and had to be simple. This was my first make after my doll after all!

I searched, favourited, emailed to Mum for review and approval, settled on a pattern, and bought the yarn.

As it was my first solo knit project, mum said she’d knit the pattern through first so that she could give me advice over the phone. So when I bought my yarn (Naturally Naturelle, 100% wool 14 ply and super thick and bouncy) I bought enough for her as well and posted it up. Mum knocked out the first slipper in about 2 hours, rang me up, told me about the typo and told me to go for it.

Knitting solo was tricky. Mum attempted to teach me over the phone how to make one by picking up the bar below, but I got it wrong. Luckily Google came to my rescue.

I also decided to make the slippers bigger, as D has good sized feet and the pattern was for medium. So I guesstimated how much extra to cast on, tried it out, decided it was wrong, frogged it, re-guesstimated, cast on, decided it was good, made up one slipper (yes, just one), was disappointed that none of my other male friends I could easily access had the right size feet to test it out, and posted that lonely slipper  up to Mum too. Her partner, SB, had the right sized feet and success! The slipper fitted!

I quickly knitted up the slippers proper and really loved this pattern. The short row shaping creates really cool ridges and makes a fantastic shape, and it is fast and easy to knit. I did make one change – the pattern calls for a garter band at the ankle, but when SB tested it he said it made it tricky to get on an off, so I replaced it with a band of rib.

I took this before I added the tape but it's the only front view I have. You can see the clever ridges up each side of the foot from the short rows

I took this before I added the tape but it’s the only front view I have. You can see the clever ridges up each side of the foot from the short rows. I stuffed these with tissue for this photo.

Once I’d made the slippers, I knew I wanted to make them just a little bit special, as D was about to go overseas to go tramping through Europe. He’s a big fan of the MMORPG Eve so I decided to give them “Eve cred”. I know all RPGs have equipment or apparel you can acquire in the game which gives you more points on a particular attribute, so I contacted my great friend Ares, an Eve addict, and got him to help me out. We settled on Rogue CY-2.5. This piece of equipment, in the game, increases navigation skill, which I thought was appropriate for someone travelling alone with little more than a tent, a laptop, and his wits. Another friend, The Sewhpist, used her fancy sewing machine to machine stitch the letters onto cotton twill tape, and I sewed it onto the heels of the slippers, where they double as little loops to help get the slippers on.

The tape after my friend finished machine embroidering it. It took a lot of attempts to get it to work

The tape after my friend finished machine embroidering it. It took a lot of attempts to get it to work

I hand stitched the cotton tape on with silk thread.

I hand stitched the cotton tape on with silk thread.

After the tape but without stuffing to hold them in place. This slipper tends to collapse inwards in an ungainly fashion if there isn't a foot to provide shape

After the tape but without stuffing to hold them in place. This slipper tends to collapse inwards in an ungainly fashion if there isn’t a foot to provide shape

Ares also looked up D’s character and got his character’s address in the Eve world, and provided me with a logo of one of the shops in the game you can buy the equipment from, which I used to make the presentation perfect. I designed a “product insert brochure”  which went with the slippers, wrapped in tissue, into a box. I added an address label, a logo, and a seal to the box and it was done! Gamer geek cred slippers!

The "product insert brochure" I designed, typed up, and glued onto  card

The “product insert brochure” I designed, typed up, and glued onto card

The slippers in tissue...

The slippers in tissue…

...then I folded down the tissue and added the insert...

…then I folded down the tissue and added the insert…

...then I sealed the box by cluing the supplier logo over the opening, and added another supplier logo and his character's address

…then I sealed the box by cluing the supplier logo over the opening, and added another supplier logo and his character’s address. The rubber bands were only on while the glue dried on the seal.

I gave them to the recipient in May 2012 and they were very well received.  I’d call that a win for a knitting project!

Oh and don’t worry – I eventually got around to knitting one more slipper to go up to SB to go with his test slipper. Can’t have the man having one slippered foot!

Ravelry notes here.

And then there was knitting…

22 Apr

I’ve been surrounded by knitting my whole life. My Nana is a particularly prolific knitter. She was actually a professional knitter when my mum was a kid, doing piece work at home, and knitted garments that ended up photographed for the front of Sirdar’s patterns! As a youngster I remember that if Nana was sitting, she was knitting. There was a phase during her 60s when she cut back on the amount of knitting because she got really busy hiking, kayaking, abseiling, and tramping in the Himalayas, but then the youngest of my cousins was born (the first girl since me, 20-something years earlier) and the needles came out again, and I don’t think she’s stopped since. Don’t worry; she hasn’t given up on adventure and still walks at least an hour a day (I’m not entirely sure we’re related).

Mum has also always been a knitter, then a few years ago started getting into it with gusto and since then her stash and her output have both increased exponentially, although I’m not even sure of the physics of that. Seriously, her stash is AMAZING.

But despite being surrounded by knitting my whole life, I did not have any desire to knit. I picked up all of my other crafty instincts from Mum, but not that one. Mum tried to teach me when I was young, but I didn’t enjoy it as a process. I thought a lot of knitted stuff was ugly. It seemed like a slow and tedious process to produce something. And really, as someone who sews, makes jewellery, does cross stitch, does silk ribbon embroidery, and potters around with craft in general, and has a stash for each, I needed another hobby like I needed a house to fall on me. Mum was disappointed as she really wanted to teach me to knit, but I was determined. I Would Not Knit.

Then three things happened.

First, I had a few occasions to wish I had a nice, portable craft that didn’t require complicated machinery, specialist tools, or careful focus.

Second, my interest in vintage inspired looks and the vintage blogs I follow often showed lots of lovely pieces of knitwear that I would actually be seen in.

And third, seemingly en masse, the sewing blogs I follow all started sprouting knitting projects. Beautiful, not ugly, knitting projects.

So December 2011, three days before Christmas, on holiday at Mum’s, I announced “Mum, I have terrible news. I want to learn to knit.” Mum squealed, she hollered, she did cartwheels, she booked a skywriter and fireworks. Gloat much Mum?

Between my announcement and Christmas Day, Mum procured a learn-to-knit kit that made it under the tree with my name on it. And then on Christmas afternoon, we sat there and Mum taught me to knit. I banged a bunch of different stitches together as she taught me different techniques and I ended up with an odd “sampler” of my learning.

My learn-to-knit sampler, a hodge podge of stitches and techniques

My learn-to-knit sampler, a hodge podge of stitches and techniques

Surprisingly to both of us, I picked it up really quickly. My tension was tight, but even. I would make mistakes and ask Mum to fix them and she’d laugh and say “well, yes, that is a mistake for what you’re trying to do – but it’s actually an advanced technique you’ll get to later”. We covered knit, purl, and a variety of standard combinations, cast on and cast off, increases, decreases, and some lace techniques.

The kit included yarn and instructions to make a stocking stitch scarf with a garter border. But after knitting my sampler, Mum decided the scarf was too easy and would bore me, so she dug around in her stash and produced the pattern and yarn for a doll. Mum figured a doll was a chance to practice the basic stitch combos, increases and decreases, casting on and casting off, and seaming, but it didn’t need to fit anyone at the end so tension was less important, and any mistakes I made would be tolerable. And it was something she could produce the materials for from stash that very minute, so I could start straight away!

So here is my Cinderella topsy turvy doll. I don’t have any progress photos as I started her before  my decision to document my work, but I’m really pleased with her.

Cinderella in her rags, complete with apron and little patches, all knitted separately

Cinderella in her rags, complete with apron and little patches, all knitted separately

The bag of Cinderella in her rags. Mum crocheted the apron straps for me.

The back of Cinderella in her rags. Mum crocheted the apron straps for me.

Cinderella in her princess get up. I spent almost as much time embroidering those blasted flowers as I spent knitting the whole thing. But Mum crocheted the tiara for me.

Cinderella in her princess get-up. I spent almost as much time embroidering those blasted flowers as I spent knitting the whole thing. But Mum crocheted the tiara for me.

Cinderella in her princess get up, showing the little pseudo bow from cross the belt at the back.

Cinderella in her princess get up, showing the little pseudo bow from crossing the belt at the back.

If you’re asking why there are two dolls when I said I made only one, this is a topsy turvy doll, two dolls in one! You just have to pull her skirt up to reveal the other end, and the other doll.

See! Under her skirt is the other end of the doll

See! Under her skirt is the other end of the doll

So you don't have to try and rotate your head...

So you don’t have to try and rotate your head…

After I finished my doll, over the course of 2012 I knitted a pair of slippers for a friend, of which I am so proud they’ll get their own post, three pairs of booties (of which I only got photos of two) and a baby hat.

Learning blackberry stitch on booties. I gave these to a very dear friend for her firstborn.

Learning blackberry stitch on booties. I gave these to a very dear friend for her firstborn.

The blackberry booties from the side

The blackberry booties from the side. These were knitted traditional bootie style, top down and then picking up stitches to join the sides

The third pair of booties I knitted and gave away. These are knitted flat, using short rows for the shaping on the bridge of the foot. This was actually an adult pattern  for 12ply yarn, but I used 4ply and little needles and ta-da! Booties!

The third pair of booties I knitted and gave away. These are knitted flat, using short rows for the shaping on the bridge of the foot. This was actually an adult pattern for 12ply yarn, but I used 4ply and little needles and ta-da! Booties!

The pixie hat I knitted for a colleague. Want to know what it is modelled on?

The pixie hat I knitted for a colleague. Want to know what it is modelled on?

Me of course!

Me of course! It’s not meant to roll like that on the edges, my ladder effect lace inset was too tight for the rest of the hat, but I’m sure it looks fine on the bub.

The pixie hat came from this 1966 Woman's Weekly

The pixie hat came from this 1966 Woman’s Weekly. What the hell is that cover model wearing on her head! Best part – the article describes it as “alluring.” If you want the pattern, just let me know…

The layette the pixie hat was part of.

The layette the pixie hat was part of. You’ll note the ladder effect lace inset doesn’t pull in the way it does on mine. This section is much tighter than the rest and there is a huge increase and decrease on either side of this section, but it obviously wasn’t enough to cope with me!

Yep, I’ve well and truly got the knitting bug now. At least I don’t have any other new hobbies!

Although, after Mum taught me knit, she looked at me and said “next is crochet.” At this point I am still resisting, because crochet is often ugly (in my opinion) and I definitely don’t need yet another hobby! But there are some nice things cropping up… and I loooove amigurumi… ARGH!