Acacia for Alice

I’m on a bit of a cotton jaunt at the moment. What with the weather suddenly becoming steamy and sticky, cotton makes so much sense for knitting.

You might remember a few weeks ago I made a tiny red cotton Acacia top for a baby girl. The pattern also comes in a toddler size (separate patterns) so of course I set about making one right away for Alice. I finished it last night and gave it to her when she came over this morning. It wasn’t quite dry so I ran it through the dryer and it was great. Not long after these photos were taken she got to playing with the hose with Grandad and it was soaked again! I didn’t blame her though – it’s been so hot today.

Alice's Acacia top

Such a lovely top but sadly I made it too big. It hangs off her shoulders and sits far too low on her body. You can see that in this photo.

Alice's Acacia top

My fault really for making the size for a three year old. She’s still a few months off three and is only a tiny thing so at least she can grow into it, or as RoseRed said when I sent her a photo, she can wear it over a t-shirt.

Once again, it’s a George Hallam (or Tikki) pattern and it’s fun and gorgeous. I’ll make it over and over. And the Bendigo Cotton (this is 8ply in light teal) is delightful to work with.

I think I’ll skip the ribbon eyelet holes next time. Alice just fidgets with the ribbon the whole time and it never stays done up. It’s cute but not needed.

acacia back

She’s such a fun model. She’s done this enough now that she knows how to do that whole modelling thing of turning to show different sides, declaring ‘cheese’ each time she strikes a pose. And she had to run around the yard standing in front of objects and trees saying ‘now this one! Now that one!’

And don’ t you just love the plaits in her hair? Too cute.

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Transformation. It never gets old.

I’m pretty sure that I’m not alone in loving the transformation that takes place when a piece of gauzy lace comes off the needles, gets a bath and becomes what it was always meant to be.

After the near calamity of running out of the yarn in the last stages, I managed to finish the Lilac Leaf Shawl shawl with still a week left up my sleeve to do the all important finishing. This morning, the piece which Sean noted was as tall as me (ie 160cm or 5ft 1) got a soak. It looked like this.

Lilac Leaf Shawl - wet

I have to say I think Kid Seta gets a bit matted in the wash. I hope that rights itself in the drying process. The stitch definition on the edges wasn’t what it could have been. I guess wet mohair will do that. Here it is – the full view. I’ve scalloped the long edges because I like it that way, although the pattern has straight edges.

Lilac Leave Shawl - full blocking view

We have a big table on our deck – made for us by Sean’s dad and a relatively new addition to the space – and it’s perfect for blocking knitted items! It’s a clear, sunny Sunday morning so I think it’ll dry in no time.

All pinned out the leaf motif has opened up as beautifully as I hoped. It was a bit of a slog doing so much of that fairly repetitive pattern in the middle section but it was never a difficult knit and it was only really near the end that I started to tire of it. The effect of that pattern is just so pleasing. There’s no going past it.

Lilac Leaf Shawl - leaf detail

On each end is the pattern that makes it particularly Estonian – the nupps – those little bobbles that I’ve grown to love making. I don’t mind them at all, even in fuzzy yarn.

Lilac Leaf Shawl - nupp detail

I just know it’s going to be too warm to get much wear out of this at the wedding next Saturday, even if the wedding is in the evening. I desperately wish I’d done it in a smooth yarn now, something without so much halo, because I think this will be warm, even just draped around my shoulders with a short sleeved dress. Still, even if I wear it for a bit, it’ll be worth it and there’ll be other occasions in the future anyway.

Lilac Leaf Shawl - long view

This isn’t the last time you’ll see it either. I’ll do a proper write up with posed shots in the wedding outfit next week. She’ll need to be shown off properly!

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The Jane Cardigan

As promised, modelled shots of Alice’s new Jane Cardigan, all pristine and new.

jane cardigan3

It’s cleaner and whiter than her face was when we hurriedly grabbed these photos today. She was in such fine, energetic form that keeping her still was really hard. We had to be quick.

jane cardigan 2

It’s a great fit – even though it does slip off the shoulders a lot. Alice herself commented on the lack of buttons and I wondered if maybe I should add something post-completion. The pattern does suggest a ribbon through the eyelets but be buggered if I could work out how to thread it through in a way that didn’t look all twisted and haphazard. Even Sean had a go, to no avail, so we ditched the idea.

It was suggested to me that I could add some crochet loops and buttons. I might do that if it persists in sliding off as she runs around.

jane cardigan

All in all a great, satisfying knit. A hybrid raglan, as the designer says, with fun and interesting design elements and construction. Yet another learning experience, and a welcome one at that.

And yes, yes it’s becoming repetitious around here but it’s a Georgie Hallam/Tikki pattern and I love it and all her work. Expect me to say that again, and again.

The Bendigo 8ply cotton I used for this (a smidge over half a 200g ball) washed up so soft and lovely. I’m itching to start something new in it! Love the stuff!

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Yes, she’s wearing a crown in that photo. We took her to a roller derby disco (with a great play area for the little ones) and she went as Queen Alice. As you do.

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Red Acacia

Sometimes I set myself a goal and prove to myself I can do it. It might come at a cost but I get there and it’s worth it. The cost for this one was that my hands were really sore after about five hours straight last night of fast knitting on 2.5mm needles. Ouch!

I made this little singlet in less than 48 hours, leaving just enough time to get it dry on the deck this morning in the sun that I was so thankful to see! I cast on Sunday morning, finished at 11:30pm Monday night. I’d been prepared to pull an all nighter if I had to. Turns out I didn’t need to. I can be fast when I want to and let’s face it, 3month old babies just aren’t very big.

acacia2

Ok so I could have started to knit for my hairdresser’s baby when she was born three months ago. I didn’t. I meant to but she’s funny about wool (she claims she’s allergic but then I show her the nice wool I knit with and she wonders if maybe she’s not allergic. If all you’ve known is scratchy stuff, then of course you’re going to think you can’t wear it!)

But with a knitting grandmother, she knows all about Bendigo Woollen Mills cotton and has often waxed lyrical about how lovely and soft it is so I suppose it was meant to be that I would choose Bendigo cotton for little Juliette, who I am yet to meet.

acacia3

And the colour! Why oh why did Bendigo discontinue the only decent red cotton they’ve ever done? Thank goodness I stocked up when I was there last year. This took one tiny little ball of 4ply cotton and I’ve got several more.

This pattern had some new (to me) techniques in the design that I just loved – the clever way you start at the neck and with a few twists and turns, all of a sudden you have the bodice of a singlet.

A bodice with ruffles. And a bow. And openings for sweet little arms. Unbeatable.

acacia

The pattern is Baby Acacia by Georgie Hallam, aka Tikki, from her Spring Wildflowers collection. If you have little girls in your life to knit for, you would do well to go and buy her patterns. I can’t praise her work enough. I got a huge order from Bendigo Woollen Mills yesterday (massive bag on the doorstep when I got home – joy!) and there will be an Acacia for summer in Alice’s life very, very soon.

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ps I’m thinking of signing up for a month of daily blogging with NaBloPoMo. It’s been a while since I embarked on the crazy, frenzied push for daily output but I think it might be good for me. Check back tomorrow to see if I really did sign up.

RoseRed Embossed Leaves Socks

Several years ago two knitters met in cyberspace. Those two knitters were me and RoseRed. For my birthday, the year we met, she sent me some beautiful red Koigu sock yarn and from it I made a pair of red Embossed Leaves socks, from the great Interweave Knits book ‘Favourite Socks‘.

In those days I had a beginner’s stash. There wasn’t much in it and none of it was particularly special or fancy. There was a whole world as yet unknown to me. From the vantage point of four years later, as I groan under the weight of a sizeable yarn stash, I smile at the memory of the first time I showed her my stash – a small collection in a single box – and how she confessed hers was ‘a little bigger’ than that. (Her stash is legendary, in case you didn’t know).

RoseRed gave me more of the beautiful red Koigu yarn a while ago and I think I always knew what I’d do with it, especially once that original pair of socks gave up the ghost.

This weekend, when I was visiting my parents I finished my second pair of Red (or RoseRed, as I came to call them) Embossed Leaves Socks. My sister Fee posed in them for me. She did threaten to keep them.

Embossed Leaves Socks

In case you can’t tell, I’m a bit sentimental about these socks. It was my first lace pattern, back in 2007, and such a learning curve. This time I memorised the pattern entirely. I’ve come a long way! It was easy and fun and I knew the results would be great. Koigu is a great, great sock yarn. It can’t and doesn’t disappoint. It’s smooshy, attractive and lush. A real winner. And who doesn’t love a leaf motif? You can’t go wrong.

My parents’ dog Coco (also dubbed: the Needy Pooch, because she’s SOOO whiny) got in on the act.

Coco and Red Socks

Then Alice decided the socks made great puppets. Apparently they were dinosaurs. Go figure.

Alice and Red Sock

Either way, they are lovely socks and I’m really, really happy to have myself another pair of red embossed leaves. A truly wonderful sock pattern and, for me, a symbol of what’s been so important to me as a developing knitter. Thanks RoseRed for the red sock love!

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Stacked Coins Table Runner

Inspiration for some pieces comes from the strangest places. I love the surprising way an idea is born out of something as simple as a late night conversation before sleeping.

This is a table runner I’ve been working on for a couple of weeks and the way it came about is something I really love.

runner

I’d had the idea that I wanted to make a small quilt for Alice for Christmas, just something she can carry around and snuggle underneath and I knew I’d want to make it in a style called Stacked Coins – long strips of rectangular shapes I’d seen around the place and admired.

It made sense to learn about the design before launching into a proper quilt, so late one night I said to Sean that I thought I’d have a go at maybe a cushion cover, to see how it would look. Sleepily he said ‘why don’t you try a table runner instead? Nice long rows would suit that.’

It struck me as the most obvious idea and not for the first time, I was delighted that he is the kind of person who shares ideas and inspiration with me, despite having no particular interest, skill or inclination in sewing. When I was making my black and white quilt, he spent a Sunday morning with me moving squares around until we got their placement right. He’s got a good eye.

runner2

The top came together very quickly. One day’s work. The quilting and hand sewing of the binding took longer and now that I’ve done it, there are things I’ll do differently when the time comes for Alice’s quilt. I got away with some stuff on this piece that I wouldn’t do for a quilt that’ll be dragged around the house, washed repeatedly and generally well loved. I’ll make sure with Alice’s quilt that I do all the quilting stitches in one colour, to avoid the stopping and starting at the tops and bottoms of the panels. I’m not thrilled with how messy that is (up close – you can’t see it in the photos well. It’s not the look of it that concerns me so much as the security of the stitching).

But that’s why I gave this a go in something that won’t be so tossed around. I feel ready for the challenge of the bigger piece for Alice now and I’ve got some beautiful Moda Charm Squares to make it. Incidentally, these strips are also Moda charm squares from the Luna Notte collection.

runner1

If it looks a little wobbly it’s because I haven’t ironed it yet. It’s just come off the clothes horse from drying and I kinda like the crinkly look. I’m thinking if I press it too much it’ll flatten out in a way that won’t look as interesting.

I love how it looks on my table which, miraculously, is tidy today. I wanted a nice stage for the photos and, more importantly, somewhere for my parents to sit when they visit this weekend, arriving in time for dinner tonight. Sometimes, the sewing and papers just have to be put away.

Perhaps having such a lovely runner will mean I’ll try harder to keep the table clear. Maybe. I can try.

Finally, the original design I used as inspiration, but which looks very little like what I came up with, is the Stacked Coins Baby Quilt on the Moda Bake Shop.  I’m loving the way I’m learning to see an idea and then make it my own. It’s something I don’t quite manage in knitting, but in sewing it seems somehow a little easier.

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Early Mornings Beret

Winter seems to have returned just as the days were warming up, so my fears that the weather for knitwear was coming to a close seem unfounded.

To that end, I felt no shame in whipping up a beret over the weekend.

I’ve never made one before, with good reason. I’m scarred by a photo that exists of me from about 1983, marching on ANZAC Day with the Brownies. I’m wearing a brown beret and I’ve got it pulled down like it’s a beanie. Not a great look and the image I’ve called to mind for a couple of decades when contemplating headwear.

Why I chose to make a beret at last is a bit of a mystery. I even started it at an odd time of day. Very late last Friday night, several glasses of wine in me and suddenly I was rummaging in the stash for two balls of Rowan Kid Classic that I knew were perfect for a rich, purple beret.

I blinked and it was done.

Early Morning Beret

I then proceeded to take about 300 photos to try and get one that worked. Self portraiture is tricky! This was the best I could do. I think maybe the 11 year old me is still present. I think I still don’t quite know how to wear a beret. But I’m sufficiently taken with the idea to keep trying.

This one is a Knitbot design – her Early Mornings Beret. It was blindingly simple. I started with a plain pattern because, as smitten as I am with fancier ones (like Ysolda’s RoseRed which I am so making next) I wanted to make a plain one first to see if I would like wearing this style of  hat.

I think it works. I think I’ll have another go. This one took just shy of a single ball of Rowan Kid Classic. The second ball will be another beret, just like the first, for a friend who tells me she longs for a purple beret. Her wish is my command.

I’ll leave you with a picture from my day’s work. I’m creating a table runner, experimenting with a classic patchwork design which is called Stacked Coins. It was Sean’s idea to try it this way (I know! He’s good!) and I’m really pleased with the results so far. I took these Moda squares and cut them in half.

Moda charm squares - luna notte

A few hours later I had the first stages of the table runner done. This is just the top – before I’ve backed it or quilted it.

table runner - in progress

The black really works to emphasise the bright strips doesn’t it?

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