Monday, January 24, 2011

2011 FO #1: No Blanket For You! Hat

Ta da! The hat for the baby who didn't get a blanket is all done.  It's super cute, and I hope the new parents like it.

A few notes on the pattern.  The pattern I used was Cabled Hat with Earflap from Adorable Knits for Tiny Tots by Zoe Mellor. I have another book of Mellor's, 50 Baby Booties to Knit, and I have the same criticism for both books.  Basically, the pattern are a lot more fiddly than they need to be.  This hat is knitted flat and then seamed up.  Some knitters prefer to knit flat, but it's just another unnecessary step that could have been avoided.  I modified it to knit in the round by casting on one stitch less, but that's my preference because if I had to seam it, there's a good chance it'd sit there until the baby was two years old waiting for me to get around to it!  The earflaps are gorgeous and the ties and pompom in a coordinating yarn are a great touch that I will use again, but there were heaps of ends to weave in, making the finishing a bit annoying.  The instructions on how to make a pompom were incredibly blacking.  The sizes of the hat, rather than being listed in approximate ages as you'd expect from a baby book, were Small Medium Large, meaning that while I was making the hat I had no idea if it was going to be the right size for a newborn or a two-year-old.  I love the finished product, but the whole process was, well fiddly and a bit annoying.

Pattern: Cabled Hat with Earflaps (Rav link)
Yarn: Less than one ball of Sirdar Double Crepe for the body of the hat, scraps of Bendigo Woollen Mills Classic 5ply in Royal Blue for the straps and the pompom.
Notes/Modifications: See above.
And before I go, have you ever seen anything cuter than this?

I thought not.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

No Blanket For You!

About two years ago, I started knitting a Moderne Baby Blanket (rav link), mainly because I had a huge pile of 5-ply crepe that I wanted to use up and I have a bit of a problem with delayed gratification - if I get into my mind that I will do a certain thing, I want to do it now.  After knitting three and a bit stripes, it was put away and forgotten about.

Then, when doing my WIP Round-up last year, I pulled it out of its storage place to take a photo of it.  This is how it looked when I last blogged about it:

Because it was out in the open again, I occasionally picked it up and worked a random row.  There was a baby due in February, and since this is a baby blanket I thought it was a match made in heaven.  Then there were complications with the pregnancy, so the due date was moved to the middle January, and I started working harder on the blanket.  This is what it looks like now.  I love knitting on this blanket!  It's nothing but row after row of mindless knitting.  Every now and then you need to cast off a few stitches and then pick some up, but not very often.  It's a wonderful project for knitting in front of the TV, and as a plus it looks ridiculously stylish and much harder than it actually is.  

The couple I was knitting the blanket for are Sam's second cousins.  They're really nice and we see them about six times a year, but only as a group and at family functions.  We never see them outside the family, and even though I like them immensely, I don't know them very well.  So I started thinking ... I love this blanket - will they?  Will they understand the hours of work that have gone into creating this modular masterpiece?  Will they appreciate the gift of my time and affection that it represents and take care of it accordingly?  In all honestly, these people may be the No.1 ticket holders in the fanclub of Handmade Stuff International.  They may appreciate my work, time and effort.  But I don't know them that well, and I am not prepared to gift 100 hours of my time to someone who may or may not appreciate what they are receiving.  

I really grappled with this decision, and I eventually found a solution.  They're getting a knitted hat instead - it's super cute (it has a pompom!), super quick, made from stash and I am not invested enough in the hat to care if they use and appreciate it or not (of course, I hope they do.  See how cute it is?).  Now, everyone's happy. Me especially.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Another one bites the dust

Last week was my birthday. I know it's a cliche that gets older as each year passes (as do I!) but man, last year just flew by.  As is my wont, I christened the start of a new Belinda-year by gathering my erstwhile companion, heading to Cafe Vue and easing in the transition to the new year with a strong alcoholic beverage (Campari and soda, chilled and delicious).

(On a side note: every time I go to Cafe Vue I love it just a little bit more.  Cafe Vue, I heart you.)

After eating a delicious brunch and getting a nice midmorning buzz on, we headed to one of my favourite Melbourne places: NGV.  I know I've said it a million times, but I think all Melbournians should be proud to live in a city that buys art that is beautiful, remarkable and interesting and then opens the doors to anyone who cares to visit for free, without discrimination.  Yay Melbourne!

Sometimes the art is creepy and strange! What is this thing, and what does it mean? Why is the plastic rabbit so giant?

The gift shop had the CUTEST moulds for cupcakes.  These were out of my budget ($24.95 for two and four respectively), but I will find them somewhere cheaper and they will be mine!  I must serve cupcakes in a cup and in a robot or else my life will not be complete.

It's a really good thing that coolness and style are not prerequisites for entry, because as I left the building I realised that I had been walking around all day wearing both sunglasses and reading glasses at the same time.  Sometimes I am so darn trendy I amaze myself...

To cap off a lovely day*, I arrived home to a surprise package.  Well, half of it wasn't a surprise - the pink yarn is Jitterbug that I bought in a destash before Christmas as a present for myself.  However, the purple yarn was a surprise that Yarnivorous included, and it made my day.  I don't  know what type of wool it is or how many metres there is in the ball, but I know it is very pretty and it will become a scarf for me.

I'm not sure I'm ready to be another year older, but since I don't actually have much of a choice, I hope this year is full of fun, laughter, fulfilling and interesting conversation and lots of yummy wine.

* Honestly, the day was topped of with many hours of eating Malaysian food and drinking much wine and cocktails in a manner suited to people much younger than I am, but in the interest of attempting to appear halfway mature and appropriate for my ever-increasing age, I am going to pretend that particular birthday ritual didn't happen this year.  Although it was very fun, and as always a great way to celebrate my special day.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

2011 WIP Down

As I mentioned in my last post, at the stroke of midnight New Years Even 2010 I had 11 projects on the go (works-in-progress).  In the last seven days, I have started another two projects.  It's like I have OCS - obsessive compulsive startitus!

Here is my current list of WIPs:

I think we can all agree that this is insane, and out of control.  So, this year I am going to get down to five projects on the go at one time.  To keep me accountable, I have listed my WIPs on the homepage of this blog, and I commit to not starting another project until I have finished at least two of those listed above.  This, I pledge.

Wish me luck!

Goodbye 2010, Hello 2011!

1. Camouflage socks, 2. Sam's Christmas Socks, 3. Frozen Widdershins, 4. Graduating Green Socks, 5. Baktus Kerchief, 6. Selbu Modern, 7. Alpaca Endpaper Mitts, 8. Grainy Gray Scarf, 9. Stripy Baby Socks, 10. Booties, 11. Baby Mitts, 12. Baby Chalice Blanket, 13. Ishbel the Second, 14. Railroad Socks, 15. Saintly Semptember Socks, 16. Mum's Christmas Socks, 17. Baby Booties, 18. Tiger Paws19. Not available20. Not available

I know it's traditional to reflect on the year that has past, you know, when the year actually ends, but today is the first day I have had Internet access at home (not counting the iPhone) for almost four weeks, and I am giddy with excitement.  Hello Internet!  Welcome back!  Never leave again!

So, reflections on 2010.  I was a year of great change for me.  I changed jobs from a relatively well-paying but stressful position with long hours to work for myself from home.  I have less money and (unfortunately)  a less secure income, but I am so much happier and more rested.  I have lost weight and regained the energy to actually do stuff like socialise, clean and cook, not just collapse on the couch as soon as I get home.  It was a hard decision but I am certain that I made the right one.

I also had some knitterly goals.

In 2010 I will:
1. Finish at least 20 knitted objects, and blog about every single one!
2. Knit six pairs of socks.
3. Knit 100 balls of wool.
4. Finish at least one of my blankets currently on the go.
5. Finish at least one of my jumpers currently on the go.
6. Knit at least three things for me, and only me.
7. Lose 8.5kg.

I finished 18 knitted objects, which is not bad.  I did blog about them all. I did knit six pairs of socks, but I only knit 20-ish balls of wool.  It doesn't seem much, but it amounted to 2kg worth of wool - I consider that a lot!  I didn't finish any existing blankets, but I did start and finish a ginormous baby blanket. I knitted many things for me, all of which I wore heaps and improved my quality of life by keeping me warm.  I didn't lose 8.5kg, but I lost 1.7kg, which is not great but better than nothing. Those were the good things.  For the bad things - ,\ I bought 2.65kg of yarn, increasing my total stash size by 650g! And, at the moment the new year flicked over I had 11 projects on the go.  I have since cast on for two more.  So, my resolutions for the follow year are as below.

In 2011, I will:
1. Finish at least 20 knitted objects, and blog about every single one.
2. Decrease stash from 62 (eek!) to 40, by either using the yarn or destashing it.
3. Finish at least two of my blankets on the go.
4. Finish at least one of my jumbers on the go.
5. Knit at least four things for me and only me.
6. Lose 7kg.
7. Decrease total WIPs to no more than five in total.

I'm feeling very positive about the year ahead, and I just can't wait to sink my teeth into it :)

Stockinette Sock Four-Ways (2010 FOs #15-18)

It's very common now to find a 'three-way' dish on a menu at a nice restaurant.  No, it's not some dirty act performed by the ingredient du jour; rather it's three ways of cooking the same ingredient presented on the same plate.  So last year I had salmon three ways - poached, smoked and as a carpaccio.  In the second half of last year, I could not stop knitting simple stockinette socks.  But to keep it interesting, I constructed them all in different ways.

Firstly, Sam's Christmas sock.  It's his standard 72-stitch top-down flap-and-gusset sock,  knitted in Wendy Happy - a bamboo nylon yarn.

I hated every single minute of knitting these socks.  The yarn was slippery and splitty, and I think I spent more time untangling the ball of yarn than I did knitting on the sock.  It also kept tangling and I had to break the yarn many times to fix an intractable knot, meaning I had to weave in a bazillion slippery end.

To add insult to injury, as soon as Sam started wearing them they stretched out of shape - now they're too loose and his heel slips.  Worst sock yarn and pair of socks ever.  This sock was an epic fail!

Second, socks for Sister #1.  64-stitch top-down flap-and-gusset heel socks knit in Zauberball.  I called them the Graduating Green Socks because of how the long colour repeats of the Zauberball work to create a graduated green effect.

t was a pleasure to knit this sock.  I divided the Zauberball into two equal halves using my digital scale, and then just started knitting a two-row repeat, letting the changing colours of the yarn do all the work.  I continued the striping down the heel flap, and I am super proud of how well it the stripes worked out.

When finished, the socks were beautiful and soft - like the perfect woollen cover for your tooties.  However, the happiness only lasted for a short while.  I soaked the socks in a tub of water that contained a little bit of wool wash, and disaster struck.  I have never seen so much bleeding in my life!  I soaked the socks for eight days, changing the water 4-8 times a day, and the dye is still leaching out.  The colour faded and the sock shrunk, like the soaking felted the sock slightly even though it was not agitated at all.  I suspect I may have got a faulty ball of wool - it was like the dye hadn't been set properly.  I may email the company that made the wool just to let them know.  I'm still undecided whether or not to gift the socks.  They're still functional, just not as pretty and a little bit small.

The third sock was made using Needle Food Merino Blend.  As always, it was wonderful.  It was wonderful to knit with, it washed and blocked like a dream and the finished sock is soft yet still feels sturdy enough to last as a sock.

This sock was knitted toe-up with a gusset-and-short-row heel and using Jenny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-off.  I tried to use the Widdershins pattern but I couldn't figure out how to convert the stitch count to 64 stitches, so I instead used the heel from my Firestarters.  Of course, the Firestarters have cables which are built into the heel turn which I didn't have on these socks, so I ended up with a funny little pointy heel:

It still fits wells and looks lovely, so this project is an epic success.  Thank God!

Sock #4 was a 64-stitch toe up sock with a short-row heel in the ever reliable Filatura di Crosa Maxime Print, and was incredibly crappily photographed 15 minutes before being gifted to the happy recipient.

It just wouldn't feel like a FO post without a picture of Lucy, who has not been coping with the heat well.  Poor little thing!

Hello Blogger

For the last four years I have blogged at  I am attached to my blog - it contains my memories, stories and photos of people, places, moments and knitting projects that are near and dear to my heart.  Imagine my horror when, updating my blog yesterday, I was told that my blog was full, and the only way I could keep using it was to upgrade to a paid account!  The paid account wasn't much (US$19.95 per year), but I've never really liked Livejournal and I find it quite hard to use, so I'm taking this opportunity to try something new.  Bear with me while I discover how to use Blogspot, and I hope you'll join me here:

 All About My Cat @ Here, I Knit