The West Wing shawl

drapedI loved the pattern on the Oslo shawl and the challenge that the colourwork seemed to pose. Only when I started did I realise that that beautiful patterned colours are exceedingly easy to create. All the better, to be honest, as I only learned the easy way to carry colours towards the end of the project – mostly I was dropping one colour and picking up another every few stitches when required, which was time consuming. I was also wrapping strands, to avoid gaps, without realising that it was unnecessary if I was carrying the colours across the back of the work (stranding) instead of using discrete bobbins of colour (intarsia). Just goes to show there is still room to learn, even if you’ve been knitting for over a decade.

foldedThe wool is from Red Heart, a brand I hadn’t heard of until the last Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace. LoveKnitting.com had a big display and a special deal on Red Heart wool, so I stocked up for several projects. It’s lovely, easy stuff. Not the luxe and difficult to care for kind of lovely. Just the workhorse, sturdy but soft, affordable everyday kind of lovely – which I actually prefer in most cases.

I decided I wanted a bigger shawl, something that would properly cover my shoulders and upper back. So after consulting with the designer (who was lovely and helpful in her responses), I added 2 additional repeats of the main pattern. I calculated that this wouldn’t cause major problems for the border pattern and it didn’t. But I neglected to review and revise one section, meaning one part of the end pattern isn’t quite right on the increases around the point. It’s certainly something I could have fixed. But it’s also something I can live with.

laidOutSo why the West Wing shawl? This project was started when I went on maternity leave and finished in the weeks just following the birth of my second daughter. I had several weeks of maternity leave prior to her birth, which I used wisely by knitting and binge watching The West Wing. I miss that program – but at least I have a nice shawl to keep me warm.

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Lonely possum cardigan

possumCardiKids1This is the second children’s cardigan I’ve made from the lovely possum wool I got in New Zealand. The first, when my daughter was about 18 months old, was worn often. Perhaps because she wasn’t yet choosing her own clothes.

But now that she gets quite a bit of say in what she wears, she regularly eschews the knitted cardigans in favour of fleeces. So this cardigan, finished about 7 or 8 months ago, has never been worn.

possumCardiKids2The pattern is from a Sirdar booklet (the same one containing the train vest) and it hasn’t been blocked properly, so the button band is a bit wonky and the hem a bit uneven. Could this be why she won’t wear it? Having seen some of the outfits she chooses for herself, I doubt she’s rejecting it on aesthetic grounds.

Never mind – maybe her younger sister will appreciate the vintage buttons and the smocking effect?

(Apologies for the atrocious colour in the photos – I really struggled to get the detail of the cardigan to show up)

Baby Earhart?


redAviatorHat

Behold the Aviatrix hat, knit for my newborn daughter. This was made with the same wool used to recreate the Hat that will last many years  – that didn’t last so long after all. Lesson learned, and it was recreated in a machine washable wool, and this companion hat created from what was left over.

The new baby hasn’t worn it yet as, although I made the newborn size, it was far too big for her head. Not to worry, as it’s a stretchy pattern and should still fit in 4 or 5 months when the weather turns cold again.

This is a beautiful hat, easy to knit and a good introduction to the power of short rows for shaping. Highly recommended!

Toddler T’s

I have never sewn myself a t-shirt. What’s the point when you can get them for so cheap in most stores?

tshirts1I have, however, now dabbled in sewing toddler t-shirts. I don’t know why this is different, exactly. It’s not like my toddler needs more t-shirts or that they are expensive. Perhaps it’s just a challenge worth taking on a small scale.

The fabric is from the Knitting and Stitching Show and depicts 2 things almost every toddler loves – cats and dinosaurs. I did a 3rd test version that was way too big and stretched out and is relegated to the bottom of her ‘spare clothes’ drawer at nursery. These 2, however, get sufficient wear and were each whipped up in about 2 hours.

Will I make more? Perhaps if I run across more cute fabric like this, but to be honest, she has so many t-shirts as it is, there isn’t much point.

Quick cinnamon rolls

cinnamonRollsDue to Christmas and an early start to my maternity leave, I had a good 6 weeks of free time before my second child arrived in February. I used this time wisely – I baked, I knitted, and I binged on The West Wing.

These cinnamon rolls were super tasty and not too difficult to make, especially if you follow the recipe. I, however, forgot to buy buttermilk, so did the whole milk and lemon juice substitution recommended. Except I forgot that I made more than needed, so added too much of the mixture to the flour. Then I had to try and recalculate amounts to make it the right texture. Despite all that, they turned out quite tasty. And if I ever find myself with that much free time again, I might just make them again.

cinnamonRolls2The recipe can be found on the America’s Test Kitchen website – which you’ll need to register/join to see.

The little knitted vest that could…

TrainVestFrontMy daughter, like most toddlers I expect, loves trains. We’re lucky enough to live near a local commuter train line, so if we’re ever bored on the weekend, we can just take her to watch the trains come and go.

TrainVestBackSo this pattern was a must. It’s from Sirdar’s Snuggly Little Kinfolk booklet, although I used a Debbie Bliss Cashmerino (previously used on the Wurm hat) instead of Sirdar’s suggested yarn. I also had to edit the pattern, as it simply repeated the same pattern on front and back (with a lead car on both sides). I preferred to have a train of 6 cars total, running round one side of the vest (rather than two disjointed trains) – so I moved the pattern to the other side of the back piece, repeated the pattern for the standard car, and knit the connector and track so it would join to the front.

It’s still (just) summer at the time of completion (August), so it hasn’t been worn yet. I’m just hoping she’s still into trains when the weather gets cold enough to warrant the first outing.

Something like a Sencha

fullSenchaI finally got round to trying Colette Patterns and made myself a Sencha blouse. Verdict? I can see why the patterns are popular – nicely presented, well written, interesting designs. The only bit I struggled with was the placement of the buttonholes and buttons. I wasn’t paying attention and they ended up too close to the edge. Not sure if that’s just my problem or if newbies might struggle with that as well.

backSenchaThis shirt was made out of some leftover blouse material, purchased many years ago in Malaysia. It was previously used on a 1940’s dress, which was a huge mistake – it didn’t have the necessary weight to pull off the design and the dress was rarely worn. It went to the charity shop in the last clear out. This blouse is more successful though – comfy and cool – I just wish I’d paid more attention to the length as it’s almost too short. I modified it by taking out the bottom darts. When they were in, the middle ballooned out in a very unattractive way (not necessarily a fault of the pattern – more of the type of fabric I chose).

So, overall, happy to finally have made something wearable out of this bit of fabric that came halfway around the world.

dartsSencha

Neckline dart details – my favourite feature