Monday, March 31, 2008

Happy Birthday Little Mouse

Happy Birthday my sweet little one.

2 years old already, eh? How did that happen?

Thanks for all the daily joy and sweetness you bring us and for saying 'Bye bye' to your toes when they go into your socks. That wipes me out every time.

Lucky me.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Manos & Little Mouse

A friend took this pic of Little Mouse and my Manos Beret at her house recently and sent it to me yesterday.

The Manos looks lovely, but Little Mouse takes the cake!

What cuteness.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Knitting Bag Five

And last in the Knitting Bag Parade for the moment.

(Not the last Knitting Bag. Oh no, by no means. Just the last one that's been documented.)

Strictly speaking, you'll have noticed that this is a pencil case.

I was carrying some dpns, some Manos del Uruguay and a 1/2 finished beret around in my handbag for ages, where they kept getting caught on my pens, key, and other paraphenalia. Wouldn't it be great to have a kind of mini-bag for my knitting that I could carry in my handbag? (I thought.) Like a makeup bag, only....for....knitting.

Bingo, a pencil case of course.

I started to scout around for one, thinking that it would be a simple matter of picking one that I liked.

Not so. It took some time to weed out the furry, hairy, novelty, Barbie, Spiderman, pretend-coke-can, too-flat, too-narrow, too-short and just plain hideous ones. I finally settled for this one, having fallen for the little beast on the side. The opening is a little bit narrow but it's roomy inside, and can carry any number of dpns, knitting notions and your current project - providing that's no bigger than a hat or a pair of socks/gloves/mittens.

Oh and your yarn too. Not bad for 5 euro. Plus there's another little puppy on the zip pull. Cute.

Unbelievably, knitting has resumed on this ghost of a project.

News and pics soon.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Knitting Bag Four

And more from the knitting bag collection.

(Hmmm. I'm starting to think my DH might be right not be entirely mistaken when he says that there are a lot of knitting bags around the house!)

I really love this one. It's a smallish tote that I got in Penny's for oh, I dunno, 3 euro or something like that. I got several others as gifts for some young ladies that I know. The fabrics are great, and fully lined etc. Of course I got several more for myself as future gifts to others.

On the windowsill here are 2 balls of Sublime Mohair in pale green and duck egg blue for some elbow-length Ms Potters. Also, front of pic, is a ball of Rowan Calmer which I'm carrying around for inspiration.

And looksee! It was only afterwards that I realised that these yarns are almost exactly the same colour as the flower motifs on the bag!

(Sorry about all the exclamation marks*, but I got unreasonably excited about this.)

Yay, dontcha love it?

There's only 1 problem with this bag.

See this?

Oh horrors! The knitters enemy.


So now I keep the stuff inside this knitting bag inside other bags, inside.

Well, it's not like I can have too many.

* or as Little Monkey calls 'em, 'explanation marks'.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Spring Beauty

We interrupt the parade of Knitting Bags to bring you this beauty from my kitchen windowsill on Sunday morning last.

Despite the bizarre weather we've been having around here, frost, sleet, storms etc, we've also had the occasional morning of brilliant spring sunshine.

And the daffodils have been glorious!

These are courtesy of my beloved sister in Portarlington. Thanks H!


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Knitting Bag Three

Here's another from my collection of knitting bags.

It's a heavy-ish cardboard suitase that I got in Avoca Handweavers last December. It's about a foot wide. (Sorry, none left, they sold out very quickly.!)

I didn't exactly NEED it, but could I resist that printed stocking stitches in those Andy Warhol-y colours? You bet I couldn't.

And it holds quite a lot too.

Here's the Louisa Harding Grace & Wool scarf swatch which I mentioned in January. (BTW, this picture is a far truer representation of the colour than the bluey image in the earlier post.)

It's great for holding sharp pointy things (like dpns) that otherwise might poke through a fabric bag and stab you in the leg when you're trying to feed children and knit at the same time. It happens.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Glorious Manos

Ah the glory that is Manos!

The beret in Manos del Uruguay, she is finished....and isn't she just beootiful?!?! I've never had so many compliments over a knit project before....even for Ms Potters. Mind you, I've never worn a knit project so much either, so there's probably a connection.

Project Details:

Pattern: BOHO Beret from Artesano
Yarn: haven't you been paying attention?
OK, so it's Manos del Uruguay, Silk Blend

More Yarn details: 100g hank is 270m long. (Beret used just a shade over 1/2 the skein)
Needles: Recommended size for the yarn is 3.5mm - 4.25mm.
The pattern called for size 3mm dnps for the brim and 3.75m dpns for the hat. I used Brittany Birch needles from here. Lovely and smooth, much nicer than bamboo.
Colourway: Red

This was a reasonably quick and easy knit. The yarn is fabulous, and it was great to see all the colour variations appearing. Lovely.

See the purl rounds? This is where most of the increase and decrease rounds are placed in the pattern. I didn't like the slight jog this made in the round of purl bumps so I moved the increased/decreases to the following round. You can still see the increases/decreases, but at least the pearly purls are preserved.

The brim turned out slightly too loose. Who knew my head wasn't so big? I used some black elastic thread to give it more grip. (Thanks Mum.)

I only had one problem. You sharper knitters may not have fallen into this trap, but I did. Headfirst. (Headfirst...ha ha!)

The pattern called for the brim to be knit with 2 strands of the yarn in garter stitch. Now, I'm no ordinary eedjit, I know that garter stitch means that you knit all rows. So I did.

Ah hah! Spot the rookie mistake? Since the hat is knit in the round, knitting all rows, (i.e. rounds) gives you reverse stocking stitch. Given that I'm on 3mm dpns and knitting with 2 strands this resulted in an unpleasant stiff and unyielding band of fabric.

I lived with it for a while and knitted on despite my you do. About 3 inches into knitting the hat I bit the bullet and frogged the whole thing. It would have been about as comfortable as wearing a luggage strap around your head. My thanks to Jellyknits for the moral support while this painful decision was made.

Anyway, it had to be done. And as it so often happens, frogging it and starting again gave me the beautiful outcome I had dreamed of. I love it.

And look see.

It goes so nicely with my scarf.

Matchy matchy.


Saturday, March 1, 2008

16 five year olds could power a small town with kid energy


On top of my normal job as a working/knitting mother and the craziness that involves, I recently became involved in organising a Craft Club at Little Monkey's school. Naturally I offered to teach knitting to whatever group of kids were interested. I won't bore you with details of the process, but it led me last week to a room full of noisy and enthusiastic 5 year olds and a sack of spare yarn.

Sixteen of them to be exact. (Some of them were 4 and a 1/2 and some were 5 and a 1/2. Not to be pedantic, but it matters to the kids, believe me.)

Anyhow, since I only had 2 classes of an hour each, it became obvious that I would not be able to teach the kids to knit in the time available, so I decided to stick with finger knitting and making pompoms. (I'm so glad this occurred to me before I had armed 16 children with 32 sharp pointy sticks.)

The finger knitting I was happy enough with, but I was kinda hoping that making pompoms would come back to me easily after a hiatus of oh....I dunno...30 years or so? Not so. I spent several frustrating hours making pathetic lumps of short yarn pieces which fell apart instantly. I had the 2 circles of cardboard alright, I had remembered that much. So I turned to the trusty Internet for salvation and I found some great instructions which cleared up the issue. (Can't find the link now, sorry.)

Basically I hadn't been winding on nearly enough yarn to make a pompom ball - what I was getting was more like a yarn bagel. Added to that another tip, which was to use double or triple lengths of yarn for a speedy result, and bingo, problem solved. This method has the added advantage of allowing you to use more than one colour or type of yarn, which gave pretty good results.

So...we got through the finger knitting unscathed and 1/2 way through the pompoms in teh 1st class. Next week we'll finish up the pompoms and string them together. I've enjoyed the classes so far and I think there will be more in the future.

Not that I'll be making something like this anytime soon, tho' I'll admit it's kinda cute.

For anyone interested, the Club also provided a Card Making/Scrapbooking course to the kids aged 7-9 or so and a basic Mosaic course to the older kids, 10-12 year olds. These are being taught by 2 wonderful craft teachers and happily the kids are having a ball. Anyone interested in sourcing these teachers for similar courses, just give me a shout in the comments or by email at nicknits AT gmail DOT com.