Archive for March, 2011

Little Butterflies

The teaser photo I posted last week of a gorgeous Little Butterflies cardigan can now be enlarged on… Although for some reason my girl was less than enthusiastic about photos this evening. I think she was just tired – she does adore this cardigan.

This lovely pattern is in testing at the moment and slated for release in Mid-April. It is designed by the lovely Tikki, and as is the case with her other patterns, this is a joy to knit.  Knit in one piece from the top down, it is constructed well and the size is adaptable to add extra length if and when needed.  I knit mine exactly to the pattern, but knit the size 5 for Miss 4.5, because this matched her chest size.  It is long-ish on her (not as long as it looks as that’s a very short dress!)  and should last really well. 

The materials I used are: Yarn from Madelinetosh, it is the DK weight yarn, in the Wood Violet colourway. I used two full skeins, and the tiniest smidge of a third, which I used just to knit the pocket linings. (Did I mention the clever pocket contruction used in the pattern? Very neat!)  You might recall this post from last year when I recieved my order.  I ended up holding on to it (and my crown as Queen of Procrastination). I used the three skeins on the left – the lightest one at the top, including the sleeves, and then I striped it in two row blocks with the next lightest yarn until I ran out of the original colour.  The middle skein (and very noticeably the darkest one) was the one used for the pocket linings.  The end result is very acceptable. And oh so soft and snuggly.

The buttons are from the lovely Nicci at Buttons by Benji.  She’s recently reopened her website for orders following a break after the Christchurch earthquakes.  These are the ‘Fabulous Flowers’.  And Miss 4 really does love them. I tried to steer her towards some purple buttons but there was no changing her mind!

And of course when you have one small girl with a new cardigan, it makes the *other* small girl want a new cardigan. I love the ignorance that comes from being Two.  Asking “where’s mine” is a simple question, but it comes with the expectation of having a cardigan instantly appear.  It took a little longer than an instant (maybe 5 days in fact). But now she has her own new Madelinetosh cardigan too.

This is the Madelinetosh Vintage, a worsted weight yarn.  And, one of the coolest things about the Little Butterflies pattern is that everything is provided for you to work out how to knit it in any weight yarn.  I was able to use the chart provided, and based on my gauge swatch, knit this perfectly fitting version for Miss 2.  I, again, based it on her chest, which is 18 months size, and I knit it a little longer – the 2 year size, since she is older.   I used 170g all up for this size. 

The colour I used is Dahlia.  I gave Miss 2 the choice of colours, and she chose this. It is a rather dark colourway – not typically ‘kiddy’.  The gorgeous buttons, again from Buttons by Benji, lighten it up and make it really fun. 

I’m really excited about this pattern – I’ll update you when it’s released 🙂

Hot off the needles

A test knit for the wonderful Tikki

Oh it feels good to be test knitting again!  More pictures to come!!

Things I’m Loving

Oneof the blogs that I’ve been reading for ages now has started a new blog-along ‘Things I’m Loving’ which is started each Friday through Sunday.  I’ve been reading it for weeks now and intending to post… and not quite getting there in time. So, today’s my first…

I wholeheartedly believe that no matter what is happening in your life, there is always something that you can be thankful for… no matter how simple it is.  

So, here goes…

I’m loving the awesome generosity of some of my friends who are donating the funds from sales of their knitting patterns to the Christchurch Earthquake Relief Fund.

This is the gorgeous Teacher’s Pet pattern which is available from Ravelry or via this blog… all proceeds going to the Red Cross Earthquake Relief fund until the end of April.  It is seamless, top down dress pattern which has lots of different options for the skirt and also has an optional hood. Gorgeous!

Also donating 100% of the sales price of patterns is the designer Rachel Evans. You can find her Ravelry page here.  She has five lovely patterns, including the gorgeous Paige Babydoll which I test knit last year (this is Rachel’s version not mine, just in case you think my girls are changing strangely fast).

And the ever popular Spring Butterfly pattern too.

I promise next week to have some photos of me and my clan and our awesome Friday Pizza nights, which I’m always loving.

If you want to join in, or to check out the other blogs, go here!

Gaptastic Cowl

Somehow I just couldn’t stop myself from casting on another one of the insanely popular patterns on Ravelry. Seriously, 1218 projects since December last year?  Mad!  But the GAP-tastic Cowl is a lovely pattern. Free. Easy. Cute. What’s not to like!

Well, aside from the fact it’s 12ply and I knit it in January at the height of summer perhaps?  It took me until the other day to even want to try it on in the heat. But it’s nice to know I have something to wear when the weather cools down.  Our wee Autumnal spurt of weather receeded and we are enjoying lovely days once again.  Too warm for a cowl!

I knit this from my leftover Cleckheaton Country 12 ply yarn. It’s not the softest yarn in the world – I can imagine this cowl in a big fat single would be amazing! Or in Malabrigo or 100PureWool. Oh man, it’s almost enough to wish for winter! 

The knitting is super simple. Big yarn, big needles, simple repeat.  Can’t beat it. And, if you can’t beat ’em, you might as well join ’em!

After the Rain Scarf Tutorial

I’ve had a few questions lately about my After The Rain Scarf, especially about the first few rows. I had a look back at the pattern and knit up a sample to check over the pattern. I found a couple of errata which I have put into the pattern, and I thought I’d address the questions here.

Cast on 35 stitches and knit three rows even. – this is self explanatory…

Row 4 and 6 (RS): (p2, k1, p2) repeat to end … I think this is where some people start to have problems.  This could also be written as p2 (k1, p4) to last 3 stitches, k1, p2. I wrote it as I did because we preserve the p2 pattern throughout the pattern/instructions. I suspect some people are mis-reading this. But you can clearly see there are four purl stitches between each knit column in this sample.

Row 5 and 7(WS): (k2, p1, k2) – this the reverse of the previous row. It could also be written as k2 (p1, k4) to last three stitches,p1, k2.

Row 8: (p2, k1, p2, m1) p2, k1, p2 (41 stitches) This seems to be where people are striking problems.  It could also be written as p2 (k1, p2, m1, p2) to last 3 stitches, k1, p2.  In this row you are beginning the bottom of the bud pattern. 

Row 9: (k2, p1) k2

Row 10: (p2, k1) p2

Row 11: as for Row 9

Row 12: (p2, k1, p2, inc4)  to last 5 stitches, p2, k1, p2 (65 stitches) This is where the big increase for the bud takes place.  This is the row where the second error was. 

I’ve not had any queries the relate to any further into the pattern – it’s straightforward decreases from this point to the top of the bud.

I hope these instructions make sense.

Happy knitting!

March Update

I’m not exactly sure how, but March appears to have arrived.  And with March, Autumn has also arrived.  Just 7 days in and already mornings are darker, and colder. The weather is much more changeable, with rainy days alternating with fine days.  This morning we woke to the mountain dusted with its first sprinking of snow.  The girls had gone to bed in their summer jammies the night before… maybe for the last time this season, unless we have an unseasonably warm spell I guess! 

Of course autumn and winter are lovely times for year for knitters. Already I seem to have more ideas on what to knit, and am starting to put together a ‘knit list’ for the girls and I.  I do have a few finished items to photograph, so I’ll rope in DS tomorrow to get some pictures to share.

In the meantime I’ll show you my latest toy…

Yep ( my sister will likely be laughing now as she showed off her Nook to me at Christmas time…) I decided it was time I got with the information age and bought a Kindle.  It’s been a lot of fun getting used to it, and it has been fabulous so far.  I have read a number of books on it already, including some bought for very little.  Notably I bought, for the grand sum of 99c US a copy of The Works of L.M. Montgomery and have spent some weeks reading through old favourites: Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, Anne’s House of Dreams, Rainbow Valley, and Rilla of Ingleside.  In fact I don’t know if I ever read the last of these novels, I didn’t recall at all the final book which is set during the first World War.  There are four more books in the collection to read, but I’ve put these aside for now. 

I’ve also read a few of the free books, most of them are short and easily read… After the Leaves Fall, Homespun Bride, Goodness Gracious Green, Just as I am, and Stuck in the Middle.  None of them are hugely recommended but neither are any of them awful.  Very light reading!

One book that came highly recommended to me was Room by Emma Donoghue.  A stunningly written book, I loved the language and viewpoint: it’s narrated by a five year old who has never been outside the room that he shares with his mother: never been outside, or seen the world outside his room. The characterisation of Jack is great – his development throughout the novel and looking back at how he became to be the unique character he is, is very insightful.  His Ma is also really well written, she and her actions really resonate.  It’s not a cheerful story, but it is well worth reading.  I can’t recommend this highly enough for both the quality of the writing, and the story. I’m delighted to hear that it has been shortlisted for the Man Booker prize – it’s certainly a quality piece of writing that deserves recognition.

Or if you want some light reading, I can recommend the Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke. It’s the first in a series that are available either on Kindle or the old fashioned paper copies.  The heroine, Hannah Swensen mixes cookie dough and runs of cookie/coffee shop as a job and dabbles in solving murders in her spare time. Filled with delectable sounding recipes, this is probably not recommended for people on diets… But for the interests of reporting in here, I felt it important to bake at least one of the recipes and report back!  I chose the Chocolate Chip Crunch Cookies, and they were a huge success.

I wasn’t sure about putting the recipe here, but a quick online search showed me it’s already published online, so here goes (with thanks to About.com.

Chocolate Chip Crunch Cookies
1 cup butter (2 sticks melted)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 beaten eggs (beat with fork)
2 1/2 cups flour (not sifted)
2 cups crushed corn flakes
(crush them with your hands)
1 – 2 cups chocolate chips
Melt butter, add the sugars and stir. Add soda, salt, vanilla and beaten eggs. Mix well. Then add flour and stir it in. Add crushed corn flakes and chocolate chips and mix it all thoroughly.Form dough into walnut-sized balls with your fingers and place on a greased cookie sheet, 12 to a standard sheet. Press them down with a floured or greased fork in a crisscross pattern (the same method as peanut butter cookies).

Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes and then remove to a wire rack until they’re completely cool. (The rack is important — it makes them crisp).  I made around 60 cookies from this size mix.  They didn’t last the week out. All gone.

I also tested the Pecan Chews recipe – and since I found that on Wikipedia, I’ll pop it on here too… But with a warning. Miss 4 told me that they were ‘bland’. It’s her new favorite word. I didn’t think they were bland. But I did need to add another half cup of flour to the recipe so it wasn’t so sticky.

Pecan Chews Hannah Swensen Cookie Recipe from Joanne Fluke’s book, “The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder”

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, rack in middle of oven.

1 Cup butter 3 Cups brown sugar 4 eggs, beaten with a fork 1 tsp salt 1 tsp baking soda 3 tsp vanilla 2 Cups finely chopped pecans 4 Cups flour, unsifted

Melt butter. Add sugar and mix. Add eggs and mix. Add salt, soda and vanilla and mix. Add pecans and flour and mix thoroughly.

Roll into walnut-sized balls. If dough is too sticky, chill for an hour or so and try again. 12 cookies per sheet. Flatten balls with spatula. Bake at 350 for 10–12 minutes.

Cool for a minute or so on cookie sheet, then move to cooling racks. Don’t leave too long on cookie sheets after baking because these cookies will stick.

I halved this recipe, so got around 40 cookies. They also disappeared quick smart (I made the batches a week of so apart…) and I think everyone liked them. Or maybe they were just pleased to get a break from food with zuchinni and/or lemons in them. 

I do have a couple more books I’ve read since I last posted about reading here, but I can’t think what they were right now – so I’ll check my bookshelf and fill you in more later.

Life Will Never Be The Same Again

7 days ago a devastating earthquake struck Christchurch, New Zealand. Christchurch is my home town, where I was raised, educated, had my first child, and the city I returned to for my marriage. I moved from Christchurch in 2001, but it is still my home, a place that we had hoped to return to live one day.  The 7.1 earthquake of September 4th, 2010 left the city shaken.  People were able to tell tales of terrible rumblings, enormous fright, and close escapes. Homes were left shaken, battered, some unliveable.  Piles of liquefaction lined streets and gardens.  Communities pulled together and helped those in need. An army of students helped to right the city.  And life went on. 

However after the 6.3 earthquake on February 22nd, life will never be the same again. How can a city move on when so very many lives have been lost? The innocent celebrations of September’s close escape have changed to an awful awareness that more than 200 lives have been lost.  Babies. The elderly.  Students. Middle aged people. Residents and tourists.  Doctors and Nurses.  A bus driver.  A fish shop owner.  Every day people doing every day things have witnessed the utter destruction of their city.  Over 500 buildings on the CBD have been either destroyed, or will need to be destroyed.  The Christchurch Cathedral lost its spire, its bells.  And many of the tourists inside it still remain, entombed for now in the stones that once were its walls.  It’s more than the loss of the city’s architectural heritage that has been destroyed. It’s the innocence of Cantabrians.  And while there is much to celebrate about the manner in which locals are helping once again – with so many stories of people cooking for others, the pooling of resources, offers of accommodation, and even the many, many extra flights put on my the national airline for a minimal cost – still there is an enormous sense of loss of innocence.

People are leaving the city. Not just those who are seeking a respite in a place without aftershocks.  Many are leaving, for a life elsewhere.  They are leaving quake ravaged homes, in search of a new life.  Their optimism, their sense that life can be rebuilt, and is worth rebuilding, seems to have fled.  While there are many who will stay, so many people find they are no longer able to do this. For their own sakes, they need to move on and find a future elsewhere. 

So, while Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker intends to rebuild the Cathedral, and while there will be plans for a new city centre emerge from the rubble, from the rumblings, from the mire than has risen, life will never be the same again.  Many home-sick souls who long for the old city, their former innocence, will be starting anew elsewhere.  For my family, who all came out of the quakes unharmed, for my friends – some of whom have lost their homes, and some of whom have miraculous tales of survivals and escapes, most are intending to stay.  However our wee family can no longer plan to rejoin them.  The broken city of Christchurch is still my hometown, still closest to my heart.  But, life there will never be the same.


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