Archive for January, 2009

Knitting Lessons

The last week has not been the most productive one for me, knitting wise.  Firstly, we took off for the beach and I took just three projects or potential projects with me. And from these I learnt some lessons I thought I should share with you so you avoid making the same mistakes.

1. Life is too short to knit with bad yarn.

I bought some cute vintage yarn from Savemart when I was with my mum. She pointed it out to me, and it appealed to me – cute wee label, still weighed in ounces, it looked like 4 ply and there was probably enough to make a pair of socks (3x 1oz)… and at $3, it wasn’t much of a risk. 
But I should probably have just left it to languish in my stash. Instead, I cast on for some socks, on 2.5mm needles.  I decided to go toe up since I wasn’t sure how far the yarn would go. And I didn’t swatch, which was probably the biggest mistake I made. Basically, if I were a workman, these socks would be for me… they would wear like iron. The yarn lacks softness and pliability, which is a shame, and while I liked the colouring in the ball, knit up it’s just a bit blah. So, I think these are headed for the frog pond before I waste any more time on them. After all, life is too short to knit with bad yarn.


2. Knitting with black yarn in low lighting makes it really hard to see a pattern well.

Project #2 was a pair of Fargyles in some random black DK I scored from Mum. I actually think it’s left over from a cardigan I had in my teens (so no jokes about vintage yarn here folks!).  I cast of for the first sock not long after we arrived at the bach, and got a bit of time to knit that afternoon – but after dinner and once the kidlets were dispatched to bed, we sat outside talking (and knitting if you were me!)  The next morning I could see some mistakes I hadn’t spotted the night before. They’re not significant, but still a bit disappointing. So sock#1 is completed, sock #2 is started and waiting for me to have good lighting to work on it.

3. Lace knitting isn’t the best choice when you are sleep deprived

The final project I packed was my intended third sweater project for the year.  With a Christmas voucher from MIL I purchased some lovely Patons Serenity in a stunning red colour (was tossing up between a purple and red) and cast for the Lilian tank top which is not hard – the pattern makes perfect sense and I thought I had the lace down pat… but my knitting told a different story.  Darling daughter #2 slept relatively well at the beach, but had been waking at least twice  a night for our entire stay before that. Methinks lace knitting should be left for times when adequate sleep has occured.

So, there you are – some knitting lessons from me.  I’ve tried to learn from them, and I’ve abandoned the idea of Lillian (for this summer at least) and now the yarn is being knit up into a Leaf T-Shirt which seems to suit both the level of light and the amount of sleep I’ve been getting.


Pohutukawa Socks

Finished while we were away from civilisation at the beach, these are my Pohutukawa Socks.




These were knitted from yarn I got from the TNN yarn swap.  It was dyed by the lovely Flea as part of a themed gift.  The theme she chose was a Kiwi Christmas.    Here’s a snap of the whole parcel.

Picture1247.jpg picture by shortly_24

The yarn really celebrates the beauty of summer and the native pohutukawa tree – which we have masses of here. They are right along the beach front, and I’d love to have taken the socks on a photographic outing, but alas life conspires against us  sometimes.

For the pattern – I wrote about this last week – I meant to knit something I had read the pattern once and then didn’t have it with me when I cast on (doh!) and so improvised. I like the end result – it has meant the minimum of pooling and the socks colours look great in this pattern.

Row 1: Knit 1, p1

Row 2 and 4, Knit

Row 3, P1, K1

Simple, eh.  But I think it looks great.

I cast on 66 stitches on 3mm needles and knit 10 rows of k2 p2 rib.  Then I knit another 2 inches before reducing down to 54 stitches.  Legs are 6.5 inches long, then I knit a French Heel, and a Wedge Toe.  They are a lovely light sock, the yarn was Cleckheaton Cocoon, and I am really looking forward to wearing them! 


An UFO no longer

When I packed my projects for our holiday, I rather optimistically included this wee cardigan for DD2.  I had started it some months ago and did all of the body, but struck a problem with the sleeves. I tried magic looping them, and they looked awful. I tried them on flats, intending to seam them. Same result.  Finally I got out my 30cm 4mm Addis and the end result is much more pleasing.  And even better, despite a delay of around two months, it fits!  I have promised the leftover cotton to a friend for a project, so was inspired to finish it before we headed back home. 261208-006


This is an improvised knit, from melding a couple of patterns together – a basic top down raglan, with the lace pattern from Juliet by those lovely folk at Zephyr Style.  I started with one pattern crunched some numbers to get a six month size, and made sure that the lace was even down the front – there are two repeats on each front and four on the back.  When it came time to do the armholes I picked up six stitches for each arm, to avoid any unsightly holes.  I knit this in the soft and lovely Bendigo Cotton (8ply) I bought a couple of years ago – I think this colour may have been deleted now, but it’s delightfully girly. (oh, and I made the dress too – just a simple pinafore in a cute paisley print, but that was done even before DD2 was born)


I finished it off with every baby’s favourite accessory – i-cords! Young DD2 just loves to chew on them. I figured they would withstand a bit of love better than a ribbon 😀

I think she seems pleased. Or maybe it was just chasing Mummy with the camera she liked 🙂

Two Down – Greeny Gables complete!

My second NaKniSweMoDo project is complete. This is the Green Gables, completed in Woolganics yarn from a co-op at the end of last year. This is the Blossom colourway. Defintely more of a terracotta tone, but lovely and people who have seen me knitting with it have admired the colour.  I cannot recommend it highly enough as a knitting experience – soft and buttery yarn that did not split at all. Not even once in the whole garment! I knit it on 4mm Knitpicks Nickel tips, and the arms were done on 40cm Addis – the pattern recommends DPNs but the 40cm was fine for my size. This was another easy knit, but I don’t see the point in knitting complicated stuff if it’s not easy to wear. At the end of the day, I am still a SAHM who needs things to be practical. That said, I am thinking about a lighter knit for my next project. I thought the Paton’s Serenity I saw my friend knitting with the other day was divinely light. It should suit the humid months we have ahead of us in my home town.

I have to confess that it seemed like not a lot went right today – kids not napping at the same time, DH’s car fixing project making things worse instead of better, a trip into the shops that was about 3 hours past the optimum time for the kids.  Hmph. Anyway, it was nice to end the day with a completed project, to block it and to have it look good. I think that the blocking of this sweater is essential to make the lace pop.  The neckline was rolling over when I tried in on during knitting but blocking made it come right.


I got DH to take the project pics in front of the beautiful new mural my PIL had painted since our last visit.  A homage to Magritte I believe.  Annnyway, here goes




I would love to show you more pics, but alas, I’m holidaying in the land of dial-up… and I might be here all night if I did 🙂

Road Trip

We hit the road on Sunday morning to head further south for an overnight trip.  Certain members of the family were looking forward to going on the steam train at Pleasant Point .  Miss A had a nap in the car and opened her eyes to see a steam train puffing away, imagine her excitement!  She is totally obessed with Thomas the Tank Engine and all things train related, so she was stoked to ride the train, meet the driver and fireman, to check out real guard’s vans and ‘naughty trucks’.  While that was the highlight for her (and DH too!), I was rather pleased to find that The Tin Shed was right on our way.

It had to be a quick visit, but I was able to quickly decide on these two skeins of 4 ply Touch Yarn.  Such gorgeous colours, and just screaming out to be knit into socks – sooo soft! At 100% wool it’s not totally ideal, but I plan to knit some wooly nylon in to the heels and toes to make them last longer.


And while we were traveling, DH did all the driving, which meant I had (mostly) uninterrupted knitting time. So, my second sweater (Green Gable)  is progressing at a great rate. I also cast on for another pair of socks, with my Yarn Swap wool.  I didn’t have a pattern with me, and had read one I liked and tried to do this simple stitch pattern from memory. I like how they are turning out, but now that I read the pattern I see the difference. The only part I got right was the fact it was a 4 row pattern with two rows plain alternating with rows with some knits and some purls. But I got the sequence and pattern totally incorrect, so it looks as if this is another new pattern… totally unintentional this time. I guess I should see if anyone else has written this down before me though!  I think they are cute, and I will get knit the intended pattern another time!   This is what they look like so far.


We had the pleasure of staying with friends on Sunday night, and an awesome time was had by all.  Before we hit the road again, the kids indulged in a bit of water play, which was refreshing and wore them out – DD1 and DD2 both slept the whole way home.  And I knitted.  Ahh, bliss.

Last minute-itis

I have to admit that all too often, I leave things to the last minute.  Not stuff like Christmas shopping.  No, the insanity of Christmas Eve shopping doesn’t appeal to me.  The simple things, however, sometimes seem to wait until the last minute.  So, last Friday I not only packed up all the kids suitcases and my own, but I indulged in some last minute craftiness that really could have been done sooner.

For any TNNers reading, one of my two yarn swaps got dyed. Yep, early, but procrastination.

I finished off sewing three nappies for my youngest.  I had started them before Christmas, but needed to put on the snaps and sew up the tummy.  They are gorgeous poly print PUL which I had bought before she was born. In fact,  well before that, and at the time I didn’t know if she was a she or a he!  I used the medium Button Boo pattern which is a great fit on her now.


Then, since I’d been so good in finishing these, I made a wee needle book to go with my Tiny Happy Bag.  It was a simple matter of making some binding, and sewing in some felt ‘pages’.  This has been so handy to have with me while away – I have to admit my needles are usually on the arm of the sofa – certainly not somewhere I could carry them on holiday!  I finished it off with a wee applique heart.



It was nice to get both wee jobs done, and to have a few less things on the to-do pile.  Why is it that the mending pile is still there though?  And DS’s school uniform needs labelling – but I’m sure I can do that on Feb 6th.

Papillion – my sock pattern


I cannot think of more inappropriate weather for hand knit woollen socks.  It has reached sweltering temperatures today, topping 36 degrees according to the evening news, and some suburbs were hotter than that.  But despite this, I continued to knit the pair of socks I have been designing, even while driving our non-airconditoned car (strangely, 1954 Morrises were not equipped with air-con). 

Now, before I share the pattern, credit where credit is due: I based this pattern on a standard sock size for Sport weight/5 ply yarn.  I adapted a stitch pattern I saw on the pattern Flutterby, which I thought was gorgeous but a tad too ambitious for me right now.  The heel and toe instructions I adapted from Nancy Bush’s book Knitting Vintage Socks

The pattern is a Sport weight because I wanted something that knit up fast.  I want to enjoy my knitting, and these are basically no count socks once you get going – you won’t need to be poised over the pattern all the time, you can do them watching TV or while the kids are around.  But they aren’t totally plain, and they are patterned enough to be special.  I think that they are ideal for semi-solid colours, or a light to medium solid colour yarn.

The yarn that I used was Paton’s Bluebell which is not as soft as I would like, so not my ideal choice.  I dyed it myself using acid dyes, the other day (yep, that yarn 🙂 ) The colours are Cranberry, Raspberry and Boysenberry, made fairly concentrated.  I knit them using magic loop, and the instructions are for magic loop.  They are worked with a French Heel and a Flat Toe.

Errata added in bold 25th March ’09 in heel flap reorganisation round.

And here are the socks, and the pattern so that you can knit yourself a pair!



Cast on 48 stitches onto a 3.25 mm needle – I used my new Knitpicks tips on an 80cm length to magic loop.

Divide stitches so that needle 1 has 22 stitches, and needle 2 has 26.   Join for working in the round, being careful not to twist the stitches. 

Cuff: Work k2, p2 ribbing for 12 rounds, which should be approx. 1.5 inches from the beginning.

Leg: Set up round: Needle 1: Knit 20, purl 2 Needle 2: Knit 5, purl 2, Knit to last stitch, M1 (total 49 stitches)

Row 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 Needle 1: Knit 20, P2.  Leave the yarn forward. Needle 2 slip the next 5 stitches, leave yarn forward, p2, knit to end of round.

Row 2, 4, 6, 8:  Needle 1: Knit 20, P2 Needle 5: Knit 5, P2, Knit to end of round.

Row 10: Needle 1: Knit 20, p2. Needle 2: Knit 2, pick up the five slipped stitches with your left needle.  Knit the next stitch through the back loop – knitting the 5 slipped stitches with the live stitch. P2, knit to end of round.

Knit 5 rounds then repeat rows 1-10

Knit until leg measures 6.5 inches from cast on. (This was 4 repeats of the pattern for me)

Next round: Reorganise the stitches for the heel.  Keeping the established pattern, knit the stitches of needle 1 plus 14 stitches off needle 2.  Slip them across together.  Knit the remaining stitches of needle 2 (13 stitches ) plus the first 12 stitches from needle 1.  Group together these 25 stitches.  These will be worked for the heel flap.  Leave the other 24 stitches on the needle for the front of the foot. 


Heel Flap: Slip the first stitch of every row.

Begin with a purl row: purl across all stitches

Knit row: k 12, p1, k 12. 

Purl row: p 12, k1, p11.

Repeat the knit and purl rows 12 times (24 rows in total).

Turn heel:

 Row 1: K 14, ssk, k1, turn.

Row 2: Sl 1, p4, p2tog, p1, turn.

Row 3: Sl 1, k5, ssk,  k1, turn.

Row 4: Sl 1, p6, p2tog, p1, turn.

Row 5: Sl 1, k7, ssk, k1, turn.

Row 6: Sl 1, p8, p2tog, p1, turn.

Continue working in this pattern until all heel stitches are worked.


Knit across the heel stitches, then with the same needle (needle 1), pick up and knit 13 stitches along the  right side of the flap. Use Needle 2to work across the instep stitches (keeping the established pattern in place), place a stitch marker then pick up and knit 13 stitches along the left side of the flap.


Round 1:

On needle 1, knit to the last 3 stitches, k2tog, k1.  On needle 2, work across instep stitches to the stitch marker then  k1, ssk, knit to

end of round—2 stitches decreased.

Rounds 2 and 3:

Knit all stitches in established pattern

Repeat Rounds 1–3 until 49 stitches remain.

Continue to knit keeping the pattern correct until your sock measures 1.5 inches less than your desired length.  Then work the toe decreases. 

Toe decreases: First row, rearrange stitches so that needle 2 has 24 stitches (this is the back of the foot) and needle 1 has 25 stitches.  This should be the butterfly panel and 7 stitches either side.  (you might have to rename your needles at this point!)
Decrease round:

Needle 1: k 1, ssk, knit across to centre of butterfly panel, k2 together, knit to 3 stitches before the end of the needle, k2 tog, k1

Needle 2: k1, ssk, knit to 3 stitches before the end of the needle, k2 tog, k1

Round 2 and following even rounds: Knit all stitches

Round 3 and following decrease rounds:

Needle 1: k 1, ssk, knit to 3 stitches before the end of the needle, k2 tog, k1

Needle 2: k1, ssk, knit to 3 stitches before the end of the needle, k2 tog, k1

Repeat decrease and alternate rounds until 12 stitches remain on each needle.

Graft the remaining stitches together using Kitchener stitch.

And enjoy!




January 2009
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