Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Getting started with my Enids

I 'discovered' an old Enid Gilchrist book in an Op Shop a couple of years ago (Play Clothes for Children, costing 20c). Since then I've been collecting her books ... some from Ebay, but mostly from op shopping. I've managed to collect quite a few, ranging from baby patterns right through to adults. There seems to be a lot of baby books around, but not so many for women ... I guess that people find it easier to hand-draft the smaller clothes (personally I love the adult ones as the fashions, dating from about the '50s, are awesome :)) I've even managed to double up on a few of her books, but other than sending one to fellow collector Tracy, I thought that I'd hold onto them as spares (most of them are falling to bits anyway ... it's so cool that they've been well used :)
So,after a million attempts to take my measurements and agonise over which size I was, I drafted the basic pattern (I knew that all those excess rolls of christmas wrapping paper would come in handy!). Now either my body measurements were not taken too accurately or there is a lot of ease calculated into the patterns, because I needed to go down a size from what I thought. Just to make sure that I had the size right, I quickly made this
dress in scrap fabric (without facings,
turnings, zips etc), and I'm very pleased to say that the fit is perfect:)
Now to find some cool (matching!) fabric, to make my first Enid for real ... I can't wait :)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The easiest fruitcake recipe ever!

I don't usually make a Christmas Cake ... there's only two of us in the family that eat it, and a whole cake seems like too much hassle (and too much on our waistlines), so I tend to have a tiny shop bought one, albeit usually dry and pale and not very Christmassy ... buuuuut, this year will be different ... I found a recipe for the easiest, richest fruitcake ever :) It was so easy that I'm thinking of making another one to ice and have as a centre piece on the table on Christmas Day. I made this one today, and of course, HAD to cut into it to see how it tasted ;D (Now that it's cut, I might use some of it to make Christmas cake ice cream and maybe some rum balls) ... anyways, here's the recipe, (and don't be put off by the small ingredient list!)

1kg dried fruit
600ml iced coffee or iced chocolate
2 cups self raising flour

Soak the fruit in the iced coffee in the fridge overnight (you'll know when it's been long enough when all the liquid gets absorbed)
Stir in the 2 cups of flour
Place in a large greased and lined cake tin, and bake at 180 degrees for an hour and a half
...that's it!!
I'm thinking that with my next cake, I might swap the iced coffee for Baileys, just to make it a bit more festive, but still less boozy than a traditional cake :)

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Still de-stashing

...yes, the de-stashification process is still going strong :-) It has been hard to stop myself from adding to my supplies (I came very close to caving in at Spotlight this morning!)... buuut... so far, so good :-D
It took me a while to figure out what to make with my two lonely balls of Sean Sheep Armytage. It's too scratchy for baby things, and far too prone to accidentally felting for a teething, drooly bub (although it would have made an awesome looking earflap hat!), so in the end I settled on my old faithful,' go to when in a knitting funk pattern', the One Skein Wonder. I followed the pattern without modification, phew!!, and it pretty much saw all of my two balls :-)

I made a few pairs of toe-up socks. The white pair here were made with some old 'no label' acrylic, and the pink ones were Lincraft Cosy 8 ply wool. They're basically the same sock, 8 ply yarn with 4mm needles. Turkish cast on (12 sts) increasing to about 24 (or whenever the sock fits snuggly over your toes), work straight in any stitch (on my lace pair, I did plain stocking stitch on half the stitches, for the sole). I tried a Short row heel this time, instead of the Afterthought one, and really surprised myself with how easy it was, although I do need to practice it more to eliminate the little holes on either side. After the heel it was just ribbing on all stitches until I was happy with how they felt on :-) I found this elastic bind off, which made a heap of difference to getting the socks on and off!
....and finally, I attacked my fabric stash, and started making random quilt blocks...not sure what I'm making with them yet, but I'm pretty sure that a baby quilt will be following shortly ;-D

Friday, August 21, 2009

Just using what I've got ...

...seriously, I need to stop buying yarn and fabric! I do know that I have tried this before, but this time I'm going to try really, really hard!! I have got so much stuff that it's gonna take me forever to use it! I'm on a definite mission to drastically de-stash - use what I've got as far as possible without going to the shops. I guess the only exception will be to buy buttons and things to finish off items, but I will try my hardest to make do :-) (I'm slightly worried that Big W will do one of their annual yarn sell-offs soon to make room for the summer stock, and if that is the case, I'm not sure that I can resist buying 50c balls of yarn!!!... but, we will see) :-D

...so, to start me off, I made a couple of things from my stash :-) The sweater actually started off as a Bad Penny, but after wearing my other one for a while, realised that I didn't like the wool so close to my neck ... too itchy, so I frogged and used the yarn to make this basic top down, scooped out neck version instead (this time I just made the pattern up as I went along). I still love the Bad Penny pattern, but just not with the Sean Sheep Armytage that I was using. I thought that I only had 5 balls of yarn, so I just knitted down until I ran out (I then found another ball in my stash, after it was finished, but by then, I couldn't be bothered to lengthen it. I just tend to tug at it now if it rides up :-D) The bag was made with some fabric oddments that I got from a local sheeting seconds outlet (Talking Textiles at Christie's Beach) ... at the time, I think I got 10 various sized pieces for $1. Not bad, a bag for $2! The free pattern is here. The only thing I will change on it next time, will be to place the internal pockets nearer to the bottom of the bag. Other than that, it's perfect ... comfy to carry, great size, especially since South Australia banned all plastic check out bags from supermarkets. My everyday bag now has to be big enough to fit in my small shopping bags and my Woolworths roll up ones ... oh, and I quite often have a nappy, bottle and dummy to carry as well :-D

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Retro Baby

After I finished knitting this cream coloured hoodie, there were a few things about it that I thought could be better ... so, not to let it beat me, I did some tweaking to the pattern, and came up with this blue stripey (and much improved) version :-) ... really!, I'll use any excuse to do some more knitting!! The main thing that I wanted to change was the front neckline, as it came way too high, making the top button sit scarily close to mouth level (the top button is undone and flipped back on the modeled photo). I also tapered the sleeves on the first one, but then found it hard to get them on over his other clothes ... sooo, the new and improved hoodie now has, a scooped out neckline, non tapered sleeves, and I also made it a bit bigger to allow for a wriggly baby! :-D

RETRO BABY ... (so named because it made me think of my Mum's patterns from the '60's!)
I made it to fit a 6 month old, which the cream version does ... the blue one knitted up bigger, just by upsizing the needles. Basically, the two patterns are the same (other than the parts mentioned before) The cream one was knitted Top Down seamless, and the blue one was done Bottom Up seamless ... there was no real reason for this, guess I just needed a change! :-) The hood is not seamless, but I'm sure that it would be fairly easy to change ... soooo, here's the improved pattern :-)
The pattern I am writing is for Top Down, but changing it to bottom up is easy ... just start with 80 stitches for the body, and23 for each sleeve.

The size is roughly 6 months
The gauge is 13sts x 24 rows to 4"using 6mm needles with 2 strands of yarn held together (cream), and 12.5sts x 18 rows to 4" using 7mm needles, again using double yarn (blue)
I used 3 100g balls of Carnival 8 ply acrylic (gotta love Big W!)

Using yarn double throughout, cast on 18 stitches.
Knit the first row placing markers after stitch 1,2,16,17
Working in stocking stitch, increase both sides of the markers on every knit row, work 7 rows
On next row, also increase at beginning and end of row
Purl 1 row
Remembering to increase still at the raglan seams, cast on 8 stitches at both ends
Keeping the first and last 4 stitches in garter stitch throughout, work 3 more rows in stocking stitch
Buttonhole row, knit to last 4 stitches, k2tog, yfwd, knit 2
Work 5 more rows stocking stitch
Work stitches to first sleeve, put sleeve stitches on holder, cast on 4 stitches, work to the second sleeve, put sleeve stitches on holder, cast on 4 stitches, work to end
*sorry! there seems to be a mistake here ... it should read 20 rows of stocking stitch and 6 rows of garter stitch before the cast off* Work 13 rows stocking stitch, keeping garter edges, placing buttonholes at rows 25, 35, and 45
Cast off
Return sleeve stitches to needles and cast on 2 stitches at either end
The sleeves can either be knit flat and then seamed, or knit in the round (I did mine in the round using magic loop)
Work 26 rows stocking stitch
Work 4 rows garter stitch
Cast off
For the hood, cast on 63 stitches
Work 4 rows of garter stitch
Work 5 rows stocking stitch
Decrease one stitch each end of next row, then every following 3rd row 5 times
Work 1 row
Cast off
Close up any underarm holes, sew the back hood seam together, sew the hood to the jacket neckline, and finally, sew on the buttons :-)
The hood turns out pretty big, but I like that because his other hats still fit on underneath it, (and I think that most of the time, the hood will just be for show). If you wanted to change the size of it, just cast on a few less stitches, but work the same amount of rows to make sure that the hood and neckline match up.
Don't forget to post any finished piccies on Ravelry! ... would love to see them :-)

Friday, July 03, 2009

Quickie Mini Mitts

I wanted some baby mittens to match the hat that I made a couple of weeks ago ... I tried about 4 or 5 different patterns, but none turned out how I wanted them to look ... so I thought I would try taking the parts of each pattern that I liked, do some knitting pattern fusion, and this is what I came up with :-)

Quickie Mini Mitts

This pattern fits about a six month old, but with it being a top down pattern, it's really easy to adapt to whatever size you want (just continue the increases until it's the right width, and then just keep trying them on until the length is correct).

The yarn and gauge don't really matter either ... I used Moda Vera Harmony with size 5mm needles, which knitted up to 18 stitches and 24 rows.

Using Emily Ocker's cast on, cast on 8 stitches.
Knit 1 round.
Knit front and back into every stitch.
Knit 1 round.
Kfb, k6, kfb, kfb, k6, kfb.

Knit 1 round.

Kfb, k8, kfb, kfb, k8, kfb (24 sts)
Continue knitting around on these stitches for about another 13 rows (I used the magic loop method).
K1, yarn forward, k2tog across the next row (eyelet row).
Knit 4 rounds.
Purl 1 round.
Knit 1 round.
Purl 1 round.
Knit 1 round.
Cast off.
Make two wrist ties to thread through the eyelets, and one long connecting cord to attach both mitts. I found that the easiest and neatest way, was to do a simple crochet chain, but an i-cord or ribbon would do the same :-)
(Emily Ocker's cast on is awesome ... I've been trying to get my head around it for ages, ever since I read about it from Elizabeth Zimmermann ... I just couldn't figure it out from Elizabeth's instructions, so googled it, and came up with the above link ... really it's heaps easy and really effective ... I also found a version used for starting crochet circles, which is pretty much the same thing ... it's called the
Magic Adjustable Ring)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Warm ears and cosy sleeps ...

Finding a hat pattern to perfectly fit a baby's head is not that easy ... finding an online hat generator however, to design a hat in your own yarn, and to your own measurements, is as easy as clicking here :-D ... how cool are those ear flaps?! I thought that I'd made some sort of mistake whilst I was knitting it... having never made (or worn) ear flaps before, I imagined the flaps to be exactly opposite each other, but (very cleverly) they're not, they are positioned a lot nearer to the back than the front. The result is a hat that fits so well, that it doesn't move about, or need adjusting every few minutes ... love it! ... my only change to the pattern was to do a few less rounds in the main body of the hat ... other than that, I followed the pattern (surprised eh?! ... yep, me too!)
I finally finished a baby quilt that seems to have been waiting around forever. The top is all machine pieced, so that really didn't take too long ... the waiting was just for the quilting to get started (but as soon as it was, it only took a few days to complete). I placed the quilt top directly onto the backing, and hand quilted it, using 3 strands of embroidery thread. I'm not sure what the backing fabric is called ... it's got a really soft fleecy/furry kind of feel (it's the same fabric that heaps of this seasons dressing gowns are made out of) ... I'm sure it's got a name, but I just didn't think to look when I bought it from Spotlight ... maybe I'll remember to check next time I'm there :-D (but, whatever it's called, it's soft, warm, and very snuggly ... and perfect for this Adelaide winter)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Mattress Stitch....who knew?...

I've never been a big fan of sewing my knitting together...I know, I'm not alone ;-D
My mum taught me when I made my first sweater in primary school...but I don't think that I ever really got it right. She lays out the knitting with wrong side facing up, and carefully catches just the edge stitches together, resulting in a perfectly flat seam ... when I do the same, yep, I get the flat seam on the inside, but a sometimes ugly seam on the outside ... unlike Mum's, which look perfect front and back...!?
So I figured that it was time to try a different approach ... and OMG, I am so in love with Mattress Stitch right now ... admittedly, the inside seams are a bit on the chunky side, but the look on the outside is worth the sacrifice ... and, and, and! not only do they look great, but I'm actually really enjoying doing them :-) I made this sweater for our new grandbaby, to practice the seams on something small, and I love the way it turned out :-)

The specs ...... I used
just the basic baby, drop sleeved pattern from my Knitware program, with some Shepherd 'Colour For Me' 8 ply yarn (bought cheap, as usual from Big W's yarn stock clearance last year (woo!)).
The awesome tutorial for Mattress Stitch can be found here.

Monday, February 09, 2009

A Quilting Ravelry....

...how good is that?! Anybody that has ever used Ravelry for their knitting addiction, will know just how awesome that site is. I've been reading on people's blogs for ages, how everyone wants a quilting equivalent, and yippee!!!...it looks like there may be one forming :-) Quiltgroup is now in the process of sending out invitations. Mine came within a week, and so far, it looks like the site will be a good one! My username over there is Linda

It's still been too hot to knit here in Adelaide, so I got to work on a new quilt instead....I've got no real plan in mind for it, other than I want it to be 'liberated' and busy!
The quilt so far...

Monday, February 02, 2009

Oh baby, it's hot!

It's been a while since I blogged, but really..... I do have some good excuses :-D
One has been the weather here in Adelaide...OMG!, we're having an incredible summer heatwave, with temperatures over 40 for the past week, and 38+ to come, with no end in sight (even our overnight lows have been in the 30s!)...so, needless to say, it hasn't been the best time to knit :-D
My other excuse, which I've gotta say, is a whole lot more exciting, is that I became a Grandma!...and yep, he was born in the heatwave (45.5 degrees for his first day!!) ... so forget all the clothes and blankies we made him!....he's been very happy in his nappy and Bonds chesty!!!!
I did knit him a toy a few weeks back that I didn't get around to blogging about, so in the words of Blue Peter, 'here's one I made earlier!'

The pattern is Little Blossom by Alan Dart...it was really cute to knit, but pretty fiddly to sew up (I really need to brush up on my finishing skills!)....maybe next time, I'll try converting the pattern to seamless. I found the pattern in a Simply Knitting mag from my local library (Simply Knitting 29). The only mod that I made was to use a pre-made lace daisy chain for the headband...I had heaps of trys with the knitted one, but they all reminded me more of fried eggs than daisies!!...not the best look for around the head of a cute pink elephant :-D