A little bit dotty

So I am now a Great Aunt. My niece had her first baby, a girl, this morning. A lovely healthy tall baby with the chubbiest cheeks ever. There’s nothing like being a Great Aunt to make you feel old! Lucky I have my own baby to remind me I’m not that old. Yet. Heh heh.

She didn’t find out the sex of the baby beforehand, which makes the pre-birth crafting slightly more challenging. I had decided on making her a small blanket, crochet for quickness and cotton for ease of use and because it will be a summer baby. But what colours? I pondered this for a while, and then an invitation for her baby shower arrived, using soft grey, yellow and white. Ta dah! Perfect. And even better, I had those colours in stash! So this is what I came up with:

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Details:
Pattern: Dotty Dots afghan by Teresa Chorzepa, from Lion Brand – a nice easy freebie, which lends itself to lots of variety just by changing the colours and/or size (as I did).
Yarn: Bendigo Woollen Mills 8ply/DK cotton, in glacier (grey), daffodil (yelllow) and parchment (cream). I used just over 200g (one ball!) of the grey, and much less of the other two colours – I think about 65g of the yellow and maybe 5g of the cream. It blocked out beautifully. Very light and drapey.

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Hook: 4mm KnitPro wooden hook.
Time: 16 August – 25 September 2014 – finished just in time to block it before the baby shower! A month and a bit – not bad for a small blanket! My crafting time is not what it used to be!

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Modifications: I made my version 5×5 squares – mostly because that’s all I had time to do. I would have liked to add an extra row but time beat me. But it will still be a good size for use in the pram or bassinette, I hope – it ended up being 70cm x 65cm (which made me laugh, as it should be square, but anyway!). I also did the edging slightly differently – a round of treble and then a round of dc, all in grey.

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Here it is with a stunt baby for scale!

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Filed under baby, Crochet, Family, FO2014, stashbuster

Jam jam jam jam, jam jam jam jam

Strawberries are soooo cheap right now. I don’t remember them ever being this cheap (although they must have been). So I decided I would make strawberry jam. I don’t even like strawberries that much (or strawberry jam, for that matter), but there you go.

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So I bought myself a heap of strawberries (2kg – although it ended up being about 1.8 after hulling and taste testing from the helpers) and some jam sugar (not strictly necessary, but I thought why not?!) and found myself a recipe. I looked at others, but this was the only one (that I recall) that didn’t use the same amount of sugar as fruit. Interesting.

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My mum is here so we had a production line – she hulled and I sliced. Slicing not required by the recipe but I’m glad I did, it made the next step a lot easier. And I don’t like really chunky jam anyway.

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My other helper assisted with this step – mashing the strawberries and sugar together to form strawberry mush (or slurry – neither word is particularly appetising, heh!).

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And then it was on to the stove to boil away. I did it for a lot longer than the recipe, at least 20-30 minutes. I tested it on a cold plate – when you put the jam on a cold plate (from the freezer) and then draw your finger through it, it should stay separate. It didn’t quite stay entirely separate the second time I tested, but it was good enough. I didn’t want to burn it!

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I ended up with four jars – I had exactly the right amount for four jars! I think they are 500ml jars, which is not bad – 2l of jam from 2kg of strawbs.

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Nice colour too (brighter red, not as dark as the picture). And the taste was pretty good too. The littlest helper waited (almost) patiently for the jam to cool and was most excited to finally try it.

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And it got the thumbs up all around. A bit runny, although once its refrigerated it might be a bit less so. I would definitely make jam again! Am going to have to make some scones so we can try the jam with cream too. And maybe a Victoria sponge…

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Filed under A Day in My Life, Rose Red: Domestic Goddess

SHOESday: a welcome return!

So few new shoes lately. But when I saw these I could not stop thinking about them. The shoes you get when you are too much of a scaredy cat to get the real thing!

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I really don’t do pain very well, so a real tattoo was never on the cards for me. Plus there’s no way I could make a decision on something to be etched on me permanently. What if I changed my mind?

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The problem with these shoes (a brand called Hot Chocolate) is that there are too too many cute options – all the same basic mary jane shoe shape, but such cute and unique designs. I found it really hard to narrow it down to these. I just may buy one or two (or three) pairs more…

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In the meantime, I’ll make do with these – I’ve worn them twice this week already and I only received them yesterday, heh.

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Filed under SHOESday

Happy half-birthday

Would you believe this little moppet was six months old yesterday?!

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And almost grown out of his third set of clothes! I had to get out the next size up yesterday, and buy a few more things (the downsides of having opposite season babies, although the growth should slow down within the next six months, so I’ll have correct season clothes and won’t have to buy hardly anything!)
He is now rolling, eating, sleeping through the night (LEGEND!) and (I think) cutting his first tooth – not sure, as I keep thinking I see flashes of white in the gum, and he is chewing on everything but nothing has quite appeared yet!
Fortunately, I managed to finish his latest knitwear while it is still cold enough for him to wear it – even if it means wearing it almost every day until summer hits!
Details
Pattern: Kurt, by Sarah Hatton from Rowan Studio 30, a lovely pattern book for kids. Nice range of sizes, this goes up to size 5, so I could have made it for Connor, but I thought a nice little 9mo size would be so much quicker to knit. And the recipient can’t tell me he’ll wear it “another day”, like his big brother does when I suggest he wear a handknit (sigh).

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Yarn: Filatura di Crosa Zara in shade 1912 (red – duh!), just under 4 x 50g balls. I do so love Zara. So soft, so nice to knit with, shows up a textured pattern like this one so well. One of my favourite yarns.

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Sticks: 3.25mm and 4mm KnitPro Karbonz interchangeables, from Suzy Hausfrau. Love these needles! I know a lot of people have problems with KnitPro/KnitPicks cables breaking, but in my (I think) 8 years of using them, I’ve never had an issue. I love the Karbonz, feel really nice in my ands and the metal tips give a satisfying click clack when using them.

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Time: 1 April 2014 – 9 August 2014. I had a big gap where I put this aside to finish other things, so it was maybe a months worth of knitting – during the Tour de France in particular, when I did much of this knitting. And (as usual) it took a week before I sewed the buttons on.
Modifications: I made the body a little longer (as I always do with baby garments) and I changed te ribbing so that the pattern flows nicely out of the ribbing – it was a bit of a hassle – I think I started both front pieces at least two or three times each before I got it right – ugh! But definitely worth it.

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(This is pre-blocking so harder to see, you’ll have to trust me on this one!)
I also learned that when a pattern has a shawl collar, made with short rows, then you really do need to pick up the numbers of stitches specified for the buttonband/collar. Usually I’m a bit fast and loose with the numbers, as it doesn’t matter for a standard buttonband. But in this case, it really does matter. Fortunately, I had tried to stick to the numbers, and was only two off at the end, which is not noticeable. I didn’t block it again after knitting the collar, so it doesn’t roll over like a shawl collar should, but that’s ok – a stand up collar helps keep the back of the neck warm, right?

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Harry seems to approve! Happy half-birthday my little legend!

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Filed under baby, Family, FO2014, red, stashbuster

Three year plan

When I started this project three years ago today, I thought I’d make enough for a queen sized quilt. I knew it was a lot of puffs, and thought it would take me at least three years…well, I got one thing right. It is a LOT of puffs. But now I need to re-estimate – it will take at least five years! And maybe another year to join them all together, heh!

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I got them all out yesterday, just for fun:

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I considered jumping on top of that pile, but didn’t fancy having to pick them all up off the floor, and maybe loose some in the process! Instead, I laid them all out to see how big my quilt in progress is.

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Not bad! 123cm/48″ wide and 130cm/51″ long. And 643 puffs. I thought about doing the maths to work out exactly how many I would need for 150cm x 200cm but then my brain broke. So I will just keep puffing along for another few years…

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Filed under Beekeeper, red

Baby surprise jacket (#2) for my surprise baby (#2)

Longtime readers might recall I made the famous Baby Surprise Jacket for my first surprise baby. And I loved making it. Garter stitch, cool construction, magic putting it together. I was so pleased to have a second surprise baby who could wear it, and I thought he deserved his own Baby Surprise Jacket too.

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(Sorry the photo is a bit washed out, the colours – and the baby – are more vibrant in real life!)
Details:
Pattern: Elizabeth Zimmerman’s famous Baby Surprise Jacket, with thanks also to the great wiki on Ravelry. Such a good resource.
Yarn: I happened to be in a yarn store not too far from here (that I don’t get to very often) and I fell in love with this yarn – I thought it would be perfect for a BSJ. Sadly it doesn’t photograph as well as it looks in real life (probably because I used the iPad for the photos!). Anyway, it is sadly discontinued, as it is a lovely yarn to knit with. Touch Yarns Merino 8ply. I used about 120g, I think.

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Sticks: 4.5 mm KnitPro Karbonz – first time using these needles – I really like them. Lucky, since I bought a set. Normally I would use 4mm for this yarn, but I wanted the BSJ to be a bit bigger than newborn size, since Harry would be wearing it between the ages of about 4-7 months.

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(Even the close up doesn’t show the colours very well! Much richer in real life)
Time: 3 April – 28 June 2014. I think I actually finished the knitting at the end of May, but (as usual) it takes me a while to get the buttons sewn on. Lucky we had a fairly mild winter until this month!

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I sort of wish the sleeves were a little longer – I could add length, I know, but equally I don’t mind them a little shorter, as he is at the stage where he sucks on his hands and fingers a lot, so the shorter sleeve length means he doesn’t also suck on his cardigan. Not a bad thing, really.

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Another very satisfying knit for my lovely lovely surprise baby.

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Filed under baby, FO2014

With a little help from my friends

Two loads of washing on the line on this lovely sunny breezy winter’s day, a sleeping baby and a slew of FOs. Must be about time for a blog post!

Let’s start with this one – a lovely crochet scarf that I started and finished with the help of some friends.

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Details
Pattern: Elise by Evan Plevinski. A lovely easy free pattern. I was inspired to make this by my blog friend Meredith, who made four, or possibly five or six of these in quick succession last year. I think I’d had the pattern in my queue, but it was Meredith’s lovely versions that made me actually start it – which I did at the Knitters Guild knit camp last year.

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Yarn: Sundara petite sock yarn in (what else) “Red Roses”. When this colour was released, I clearly had to have it – as did a couple of my friends – we ordered enough to qualify for free shipping, which is a big plus given Sundara’s ridiculously overpriced shipping charges. (I might have ordered enough in sport weight for a cardigan too…). It was a bit of a pain to wind, until I got it going, then it was ok. Great colour though.

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Hook: 5.5mm – such a big hook for a fingering/4ply yarn! But worth it – look at the difference blocking makes:

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Time: 22 September 2013 – 18 May 2014. I would have finished much earlier, but I ran out of yarn, and I didn’t want to undo a few rows to start the edging early, as it is a fairly small shawl. Fortunately, the group order meant that the lovely DrK had some of the same yarn and was wailing to let me have enough to finish off the edging – which I did one Sunday when I visited her for lunch before she jetted off to the US.

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A lovely easy pattern, I would definitely recommend it.

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Filed under Crochet, FO2014, red

Seeing stars

I had been waiting until I actually block this FO before posting about it, but as it’s been two months since I finished it, and I still haven’t blocked it, despite the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having, I thought I might as well show it off. Especially since it was a long time coming, or at least, it seemed that way!

TA-Dah! It’s my Starburst Afghan! Or, should I say, it’s Harry’s Starburst Afghan!

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(Connor just had to be in the shot too!). I took these photos at the start of this month – it’s amazing how much he’s grown since then, in such a (relatively) short period of time.

Details:
Pattern: Starburst Entrelac Afghan by Magan Granholm, from the book Unexpected Afghans by Robyn Chacula. A deceptively tricky looking pattern, it’s actually quite easy, although the joining instructions for some of the diamonds could perhaps be a little clearer. It is made in the round, one colour at a time, and each diamond builds on the previous. No need to cut the yarn until you finish the round.

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Yarn: I was originally planning on doing it in the same colours as the original, which I really liked, using Wollmeise DK. Which I would have had to buy. So then I came to my senses and decided to use stash yarn, Bendigo Woollen Mills Cotton, instead. Much better idea! Yay me for stash busting, heh! So I used under 2 balls (they are big balls, 200g each!) of each colour, pomegranate, French navy, sky, glacier and parchment.

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Hook: 5.5mm KnitPro interchangeable hook – these are regular crochet hooks with a screw on the end enabling a cable to be added for wide Tunisian projects – as the diamonds use a maximum of 12-13 stitches at any one time, a regular straight hook is enough. These are really nice hooks, very smooth and easy to use.
Time: 20 August 2013 – 1 April 2014. I had a bit of a break in the latter part of last year, but from late December I pretty much just worked on this project, in an attempt to finish it before Harry arrived. Which of course, didn’t happen! But it’s been too warm to need it anyway, and I finished it in plenty of time for the cooler weather. Whereupon we immediately had a late autumn record-breaking heat wave! As soon as I finished this, I went on a new project starting spree! More about those projects another time!

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Modifications: I didn’t modify the pattern at all, but I did have a bit of a messy centre – I’m pretty sure it was not meant to have a huge hole in the centre, and my joining method at the end of this round was a bit messy, but once I got the hang f the pattern and the joins in particular, it was much neater! And that hole at the centre was easily fixed once the blanket was finished.

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I have to admit that towards the end of this project I was a bit over it, it was taking forever. But I remember when I started it how much I loved it, and once it was done the love returned.

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It is pretty nice, if I do say so myself!

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Filed under baby, Crochet, FO2014, stashbuster

Happy Mother’s Day

On Sunday, which was Mother’s Day here, husby and Connor went off to the shops in the morning, to buy “flowers for his mum”. Of course it was an excuse (although he did, in fact, buy flowers for his mum), and they came home with a lovely package for me, which Connor excitedly told me, in that way that 4yos do, that “it is a necklace!”, before I’d even opened it.

It was a lovely necklace, but not very practical for wearing with a small person with grabby hands. So with husby’s permission, I went back to the shop today and exchanged it for more practical bangles – these ones:

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Which I can wear together or separately, and which I plan to wear all the time. Maybe he might buy me the necklace again in a few years, when the little people will be a bit bigger and a bit less grabby handed!

I also decided to start a new project on Sunday. Something for meeeeee! With lush yarn, Debbie Bliss Andes:

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It is, of course, a honey cowl. I bought the yarn, four colours of the Andes, with this pattern in mind. I’m not entirely sure it is working out quite as I had pictured it in my mind, but I think I’m liking it. And I can’t seem to stop knitting it, so hopefully it will be finished soon. Since I really should be working on C’s stripey cardigan, which I started last year, and which only has half a sleeve plus buttons bands and bottom band to go:

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I know at least one of you will ask, so here he is, in all his glory, The Legend, as we have taken to calling him – sleeping through the night already!

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H is for Handsome, as the shop assistant in the jewellery store said today. Heh heh.

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Filed under Family, GoodGoodies

Happy Easter

I’m a bit late with this Easter post as we went away to my mum’s for the Easter long weekend – no Internet access but lots of sunshine and knitting time. It was a really lovely weekend away. My first time home since mum sold the family home and moved into a lovely new flat. I thought it might be a bit weird staying somewhere else, but mum has been able to take much of her furniture with her, and so it felt immediately like home. And she is so happy and proud of her fantastic new place, it is wonderful to see.

But the real purpose of this post is to show off the bunnies I made for the boys for Easter!

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Details
Pattern: Easy Easter Bunny by Janette Williams – the pattern is hosted on her blog, and has a really detailed step by step picture tutorial, so is perfect for even a beginner crocheter. And even better, is free.

Yarn: Bendigo Woollen Mills 8ply cotton, in a range of colours – the red and blues one was for Harry, and the red, purple and blue one for Connor. Although when Connor woke up on Easter Sunday and found his bunny, he decided it was for Harry, even though Harry had his own. Crafting Fail!

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(One of these things is not like the other ones!)

Hook: 3.5 mm hook – the Bendi cotton is quite thin for an 8ply/DK weight yarn, so I wanted to use a small hook to keep it nice and firm, and I think it worked well.

Time: 11 – 19 April 2014. They are really quick to make but I had to restrict myself to night times and other times when Connor was out of the house, so as not to spoil the surprise. I finished the second one on the drive to mum’s, while Connor was asleep in the back seat!

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What I learnt: Don’t make pompoms with cotton yarn! They just fall apart! I think I knew that in the back of my mind before I tried it, but it was quickly confirmed! So I pulled out some nice wool to make the floofy pompom tails! Also, those safety eyes are REALLY hard to attach. I’m almost ashamed to admit I had to ask my husband to attach them.

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I’m very happy with these, even if their recipient looks a little less than impressed!

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Filed under Crochet, FO2014