Bountiful Bohus Cardigan and an ending

My Bountiful Bohus cardigan is officially finished.

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Sometimes as a knit blogger I have this sense that a project isn’t really done until the wrap up is complete and the final story is told. I’ve been blogging for most of my knitting life in the last decade and the act of writing about my knitting has become something of a habit, and one that for the most part I still enjoy, but I do occasionally wonder what it would be like to, you know, just knit stuff and wear it/give it away without an audience.

Part of what brought me to this experience was the desire to be part of the global sharing that is blogging. I read other blogs, first in Canberra and then more broadly, and felt so inspired, so creatively awakened, that I had to join in. There’s a synchronicity then to the fact that as I move on from knit blogging, I’m doing so by writing about a method that takes me back to the roots of my knitting life/experience. One of the first knitting blogs I ever felt drawn to, SamuraiKnitter, inspired me to try the wonder of steeking and seven years on, we’re still in touch and look at me, I’m steeking again!

I truly loved knitting this cardigan. That it took me four months is not a reflection on the pattern but more a reflection of the fun of winter knitting. There’s always something to be knitting, something to be planning. My head was turned all winter by the lure of quick knits like gloves and hats and other small items. So Bountiful Bohus lingered right up until the moment I joined the sleeves to the body and whipped through that fair isle yoke.

Bountiful bohus cardigan in cascade 220It’s not perfect. What knitted garment ever is? I for one never really strive for perfection in garments (other than lace shawls – you can’t really be half hearted about perfection there) – I strive for wearability, comfort, warmth – all the things that make a cardigan something you’ll wear and love and enjoy for a long time. So the steek inside is a bit wobbly – but it’s holding and that’s great. The waist shaping is a bit odd – the bits just above my hips have this way of sticking out a bit, the band doesn’t sit entirely flat but it’s fine. It’s warm. It’s so warm. Even the slightly longer than I planned sleeves have in the last few days come to be something I enjoyed.

I met some friends for knitting and beer at lunch time and Olivia took a few photos for me. The glass in my hand is empty, but it was just a prop. The Ballyragget Red I’d drunk was long since gone. My cardigan may not be perfect but my lunchtime knitting friends saw none of that. We admired the detail, the fact of the knitting that had been cut, the colours and the warmth.

at the arboretum in new cardigan

The winds in Canberra in recent days have been fierce. They feel like they’re coming off the snow up on the Brindabella Mountains; they cut through you at the bus stop and in the wind tunnels of the city. I walked through those wind tunnels today at lunchtime feeling a lot warmer than I might have. My cardigan was doing its job. Even Olivia said, when I arrived at the Wig & Pen that she thought I must be wearing a warm cardigan since I came without a coat.

I feel so pleased I’ve made a cardigan I’ve admired for several years online. Sometimes, the wait is worth it.

Bountiful bohus cardigan in cascade 220

It’s pretty. I love it.

It feels to me like the right place to end my knit blogging life. At least in this incarnation. I’ve come full circle, enriched by creativity, connections, inspiration and sharing. That won’t stop. It will just be directed elsewhere and I’ll of course still share projects on Ravelry where I am sure I’ll see many of you.

In time there may be another blog, another creative outlet. I’m not sure.

I’m thankful for the experience of my blog. Blogging came to me early in my knitting life and there are rivers of understanding and experience that run beneath the surface of what you see here, things I know as having been real and powerful for me in the last seven years. You can’t fabricate that. It’s very special and the experience will stay with me forever. I crossed the line between creative and personal blogging many times – lines that were self-determined in some ways. When I lost babies, when I experienced joys, when I felt part of a world that was meaningful and inspring, I had creative connections and people who read and cared and that meant a lot.

If you have read, commented, shared, experienced this with me in anyway, big or small, I’m grateful. If there’s a new outlet after this, I’ll come back and say so and if I find you there, then I’m sure it’ll be wonderful.

I’ll leave you with a photo of Alice, the little marvel who has a massive part of my creative and emotional life for the last four and a half years – over half of my blogging life.

I have known for a while that with the advent of her schooling life next year, blogging about her had a limited shelf life. I don’t write about her life, her family, her experiences other than the fun things we do together but I do put her name and her photos up. I think that she deserves privacy and to not be recognised on the streets of Canberra any more – when that’s happened it’s been lovely and respectful but it might not always be the case and so that aspect of my blogging life was always going to have to end. It’s been wonderful sharing her with you. Her place in my life and heart is unspeakably important and cherished. Celebrating the richness she’s brought to my life (with Sean) and to my knitting life has been fantastic. A most unexpected joy.

Alice at the creek

Blogging was the same. An unexpected joy. Thanks for being part of it with me.

Bells

A Return to Steeking

A long time ago, in 2007 to be precise, when I was young in my knitting, I undertook a project which (very) longtime readers will remember consumed nearly a year and a half of my life. It was The Steeked Jacket and I made it under the helpful tutelage of American knitter, Julie, aka SamuraiKnitter.

Steeking, in case you don’t know, is the art of knitting garments in the round and then cutting them to create openings. I have always said it was a Norwegian technique but i just read it was developed by Shetland knitters. I’m not sure. Either way, done properly it’s a great technique and the cutting should not be hard.

Here’s my long ago made Steeked Jacket. I hardly wear it these days because I don’t really like the length and the band is kind of lumpy, but I will always keep it as a reminder of a time when I was new in knitting and bravely tried something advanced and challenging. I finished it in early 2008 and it feels so long ago.

The Steeked JacketI can be forgiven for avioding large scale fair isle projects since then but always in the back of my mind, I knew I wanted to steek again and so after looking for a while at cardigans with fair isle yokes (I wasn’t going near a full fair isle pattern again any time soon!) I finally settled on the Bountiful Bohus cardigan. I was drawn to it only having a small amount of fair isle and that it was made from worsted weight wool. It would be fast.

It was fast, really. At least the bottom up body and arms were but when it came time to join them for the yoke, I put it down for the second half of winter, effectively robbing myself of a reasonable amount of time to wear it while the weather was still cold. No matter – it’ll be just the thing next winter.
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I cut it on Sunday morning, sitting on the couch watching the West Wing (we are so late to that particular party!). I cut it without ceremony, without the support of a fortifying glass of anything – 9am Sunday morning isn’t a good time for wine anyway – Sean looked up and suddenly my knit in the round garment had become a cardigan, as the photos above attest.

The photos make it look so neat and so successful and for the most part it is, but a few strands in the yoke popped out of the crocheted steek before I began the button band. I had to do some surgical work on it which is not pretty and has made me wonder how a few rows of fair isle were unstable and yet back when I did a whole fair isle garment, not a single strand popped out. I’m not bothered. The ugly surgery is on the inside of the band and I will sew it down as part of the finishing.

In a few days my second steeked item will be finished and I know already I’m not done with this technique yet. I certainly don’t imagine I’ll wait another five years before cutting my knitting again because it’s fun and exciting and the possibilities are many.

I’ll be back in a few days with a finished cardigan and maybe even a few really cold days left to wear it.

Helen

Tappan Zee Cardigan

All good things have their day, don’t they? Several years ago now I decided I wanted to make a Tappan Zee cardigan, a pattern from Knitty in 2010. Eventually, I did, just this month. My sister told me recently she would love a new cardigan and on a weekend we were together in early July, we trawled through Ravelry and found the lightweght, short sleeve, pretty cardigan she had in mind. That same afternoon we found some pink Cascade Ultra Pima at Tangled Yarns – she went home and a week later I began knitting.

I set myself the task of getting it done in two and a half weeks because that was the date of her next visit. Crazy? I don’t think so. I knew a sleeveless, top down piece with only one section requiring concentration would be just fine. I thought it would be close. I had visions of myself pulling an all nighter close to her visit, but in the end it wasn’t necessary. I finished it with two days to spare. And here she is modelling it.

These photos were taken by Adele’s husband, early one Monday morning when we were all freezing and they were getting ready to drive back to Sydney.

Tappan Zee Cardigan

After some initial misgivings about the needle size – I had gone down a needle size because others had said theirs had turned out a bit loose, a little wide around the neck – I think the fit turned out just perfect for her.

Tappan Zee cardigan - backI added some waist shaping to the sides – about five decreases and then five increases and I left off the repeat of the diamond pattern that’s supposed to be around the bottom. I added a row of eyelets instead. We both felt that additional diamonds at the bottom was overkill and the eyelets were just enough.

Tappan Zee was such a fun knit. The top section really only took about four days – two of those were a freezing cold weekend when we didn’t leave the house much. The body itself took a bit over a week. Just bus knitting, a few lunch times, most evenings. Project monogamy does work!

UntitledIt was so worth focusing on it and getting it done for her return to Canberra. I loved knitting something she had chosen herself, in beautiful soft cotton that will work in the Sydney climate as a nice layering piece. It’s pretty and pink, just the way she likes things. I know she’ll wear it and love it.

Next, I make one for myself. I can’t let her have all the fun!

Bells

The Beach in Winter

I like having a winter birthday. I like it because Canberra does winter well. We have clear blue skies, bright light, chilly air and in July, the daffodils are starting to open their yellow heads.

Birthday weekend at the coastBut this year I headed to the beach for my birthday, specifically the beach where my parents live on the coast of New South Wales. I love a bleak wintry beach, partly because I love the grey skies over foamy waves but mostly because there are almost no people on the beach in winter.

We took Alice and her mum with us. Originally the plan had been to go fishing on my dad’s boat on my birthday. I wanted to catch a snapper. I don’t ask for much. I just wanted to catch my own dinner. Two weeks before my birthday my dad selfishly sold his boat. Alice bugged him all weekend about it. ‘Grandad why did you sell your boat?’ I think he regretted that decision. Four year olds are brutal. Don’t let those cherubic faces fool you. They know how to dig the knife in!

Birthday weekend at the coastNonetheless, it was awfully nice to be out of town, to feel the salty wind on our faces and to share my birthday cake with a four year old who was determined not to miss out on the candles, the cake and the after dinner sparklers.

Birthday weekend at the coast

I loved knitting on Mollymook Beach while Sean and Alice admired the waves. That was a definite high point. A belly full of fish and chips, a bit of sunshine, someone else doing the active stuff. It was nice. That’s Alice and Sean you can see there in the distance.

Birthday weekend at the coastAfter much begging on Saturday, when we saw two little girls swimming with their mother like it was the height of summer, we made a deal with Alice. On Sunday we could swim. By ‘swim’ we meant ‘roll up our jeans and paddle’. She was over the moon.

Happy Alice at the beach.One day when she’s older I’ll tell her that her ploy to get us to paddle turned out to be the greatest moment of the weekend. The three of us held hands on Hyam’s Beach, where the rip was strong. We held hands and got way more than our ankles wet. We watched a pod of dolphins pass by and laughed and cheered as the waves licked our jeans.

Birthday weekend at the coastIn Alice’s language, it was ‘super special’. We were ‘super happy’ and not at all cold.

And in knitting news, I gave both Alice and her mum new hats over the weekend. A Meret for Fee, and a Lavender for Alice. They posed for a photo together.

Birthday weekend at the coastThey both look lovely and I realised as I took this that it was the first time I’d done knits for both of them at the same time. I was pleased with the result.

I consider this the happiest of birthdays. It pays to get out of town some times and do something different.

Bells

Lace Kelly Gloves

All winter I’ve known I wanted, and actually needed a new pair of fingerless mittens. All previous pairs were either lost or worn through. Each morning at the bus stop as the temperature plummeted, I thought to myself why have I not knit more handwear yet?

The a few weeks ago and friend and I treated ourselves to a little splurge from Tangled Yarns. 

The lovely people who make that great wool wash, Soak, put out gift boxes that included sock yarn, specially dyed, with a bottle of Soak, a hand cream, nail polish and a pattern. It was pricey but too delicious to ignore. Each box was a different colour and I went for the teal box. The yarn was by Lorna’s Laces and when it arrived I was delighted – and also failed to photograph it.

Here, however, are the fingerless mitts which I made in the blink of an eye. The pattern is amusingly called Lace Kelly.

These photos were taken on the same day out as the last post, at the Arboretum Playground with my sisters and their offspring. All a bit of fun.

UntitledIsn’t the colour amazing? I just loved it and as someone else pointed out, the design of them is a little like cathedral windows.

If was more organised I’d have painted my nails in the matching colour but you’ll have to believe me when I tell you my toenails are teal green and the mitts were washed in lovely Soak and my hands are soothed by the cream.

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If you come across the Soak gift boxes, they’re delightful for a friend or as a splurge for yourself. A lovely idea with a nice range of colours and patterns. The kind of marketing I was happy fall victim to. The whole thing just made me happy.

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And in the morning at the bus stop, I’m able to tap away on my phone or rifle through my bag for my bus pass with warm hands. Fingerless mitts obviously don’t work in all climates but on mornings when it’s extra especially cold, I just tucked my fingers inside them – they’re just loose enough.

And I like the name – Lace Kelly. It’s kind of cute.

Bells

Hats galore!

As the school holidays approached, I set about quickly knitting a couple of hats for Alice and her cousin Willem. Willem was coming to Canberra for the school holidays, an event that’s happened twice now and I’m sure will happen next year. He’s getting older now (nine, for those of you who have been reading since 2006 when he was but a toddler!) and is confident enough to come interstate for the holidays.

The first hat off the needles was a repeat knit for Alice. Queenie by Woolly Wormhead. I’ve made this a few times now. The first I made for her has worn thin; the second was sadly lost the day we chased the Skywhale all over town. This time I made it from some green Zara i had in the stash. Alice, who nearly always sings the praises of anything purple, declared green her new favourite colour. So easily pleased at four, aren’t they?

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I love this hat so much and I’ll happily knit it over and over though Zara does knit up at a slightly finer gauge than DK so it’s turned out a little small.

I handed it to Alice who said ‘It’s quite small.’ Oh. Is it now? Well she is starting to be able to judge these things so why not say so? It fits, but snugly.

Next was a stripey hat for Willem. He had seen the rainbow stripes of Alice’s legwarmers and said he wanted a rainbow hat. I am nothing if not compliant on such matters and so I bought some Noro in a suitably rainbowy colourway and before I knew it, practically overnight, I had finished a Luuk hat for him. What a fun knit!

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It almost didn’t happen though. Right near the end, the Noro Kureyon ran out and I was on the verge of ripping when Sean said ‘no no surely you have something in a similar weight and tone you can finish it off with?’ He was right, you know. I was too impulsive. I quickly found some Canopy by the Fibre Company in a suitably matching grey and the crown was finished.

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I think it works. It’s not perfect but it’s a good enough match for me. Willem and his parents all thought it was very stylish and a good fit for him. A bit 9yo boy does hipster, yes?

We had a wonderful few days together. Alice and Willem are as thick as thieves and they kept our usually quiet house alive with the most insane silly talk I’ve ever heard. Delightful in every possible way.

The highlight of the visit was, for me at least, the ice skating. Set up in the city, the temporary rink was at first scary but by the end of the 90 minute slot, I was the last one on skates (having never skated before, mind you!).

Ice skating in the cityWe had a ball. Happiness is making memories such as these, isn’t it?

Bells

Rainbow Legwarmers

In among the few big projects I’ve got going on, I’m trying to churn out a series of smaller instant-gratification items, which is all very well until your small items start to radically out number the big projects. At that point I ask myself if I’m just procrastinating on the big items. Yeah. Maybe.

This one was fun. For a long time now Alice has obsessed about rainbows. And when we were at the Wool Markets a while back, she was continually drawn to wool that was in ‘lots of colours’. She’s four. She’s allowed to be drawn to loud, clashing colour mixes. I wasn’t sure I wanted to knit an entire rainbow coloured garment so the idea of legwarmers came to me. I finished the second one today  in the car on the way to collect her for an outing.

UntitledAnd yes Amy and Donna Lee I know I haven’t patched her jeans yet! Today was the first time I’ve seen her since the last photo of unpatched jeans and today was only a short outing. Next time.

I think i underestimated just how covered in sand and tan bark they’d get today but never mind. I only used 42g of 100g Zauberball so I reckon I’ll be knitting replacements somewhere down the line.

We took Alice to a special playground opening today. An event that we’d all been anticipating for some time. You may recall last year we took her to an opera in the park event at the still-new National Arboretum. The arboretum (you should hear her say it – it’s so cute) has been built to replace the expanse of forest that was destroyed in the fires that tore through Canberra ten years ago. It’s controversial and beautiful).

When we heard that the wonderful new playground was opening today, we made sure we went along. The below freezing temperatures of the early morning gave way to a glorious blue sky day and allowed for hundreds of children to go wild.

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These giant acorns are just one part of the playground. Climbing up into them was a challenge for many kids – more than a few found it a bit overwhelming and high and had to be rescued but Alice and many others were just the right age for it and more than ready for the challenge.

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Standing below I could hear her saying to herself ‘You can do it, Alice! You can do it!’ And she did do it, with all the ecstatic triumph afterwards of a brave and successful climber.

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You may remember in the last post I said I’d lost one of the legwarmers? I found it that afternoon, hiding under a hat on the bench. They’re so little, so easily lost. All the ribbing pulls in tight and makes them look, unworn, like skinny rainbow snake skins. Today she jumped, and fell, and scraped her legs along the ground and I was reminded how very rough and energetic children can be at play. I really don’t imagine they’ll last long but then her love of bright, gaudy colours (this colourway is aptly called Tropical Fish) won’t last forever either.

I’m quite taken with the Zauberball as something fun to knit with though. It’s soft and lush and the colours are eye poppingly fun to watch as they come off the ball.

I got stuck at Parliament House during Question Time last week and had to kill 90minutes waiting to get a job done and so I sat in the courtyard and worked on the second legwarmer. To be working on such vibrant knitting in the quiet, shady courtyard while our leaders took part in the pre-election circus made me smile.

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The pattern was just a simple rib tube found here. I made them a little shorter than the pattern since I wanted them from knee to ankle, not thigh to ankle as the pattern seemed to suggest.

Alice thinks I need some, too. I think the jury is out on that decision.

Bells