Wednesday, November 30, 2011

WIP Wednesday # 41 - Stalling

Happy Wednesday everyone.

I don't have too much progress to show today for a few reasons. This last week was very busy with my mum in town for my birthday, the whole family sick with colds... um... and I'm stalling.

I'm stressing about My Husband's Henley from hell. I realized this week that all of the edging is supposed to be folded over and hemmed. That freaks me out because I know that wonderful knitting can be totally ruined by bad finishing. I have never hemmed a knitted garment before.

My other issue is that while my swatch did not grow when I washed it and the sweater seems fit my husband well now, I have a sneaky suspicion that this sweater is going to grow like a baby's head when I wash it.

So currently, I am imagining that I have spent hours and hours on a poorly hemmed, tent-sized sweater for my husband. As usual, my current solution has been to completely ignore the whole project.

And cast on something new (of course).

So let me introduce you to Clepsydra Mittens. I have a good friend who is a single mom. She had no family in town and I doubt her 3 year old is doing much Christmas shopping so I thought it would be nice to make a little gift for her. I love the look of these mittens. I did my research, read all about everyone's projects on Rav and bought the pattern. I wound up my go-to yarn of Ultra Alpaca (that I happened to have around the house - see stash is a good thing - otherwise I would have had to go out! And it's cold out - And I would have had to make an unnecessary visit to a yarn store... oh wait, that probably wouldn't have been so bad).

Then I sat down and started the provisional cabled i-cord cast on (Wait?? What???) In any case, several hours and many youtube videos later I have this:

At least it's a start (and I read ahead - there is NO hemming).

But wait... Where is the baby blanket you ask?

You will have to come back on Friday to see more : )

I hope you have a lovely Wednesday and are not waiting on a snowstorm like we are (and do not have the Mahna Mahna from the Muppets stuck in your head like I do - even my 1 year old is singing it!). However, if you are stuck inside during a snowstorm, what better way to spend the time than checking out some other WIP's through Tami's blog?
(you are on your own about the annoying song - sorry)

Cheers, Nikki

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Whatever the Mood... Tuesday?

I'm a day late on my effort to post on Mondays but at least I'm still getting one in.

I'm also getting a little late on making cards for Christmas this year.
This is what I have so far... and there are about 40 people on our Christmas cards list
Even my 3 year old is ahead of me.

And I think I like his better
But watch out! Last Friday I got this for my birthday.

Jeez. Now the pressure is really on!

In other news... When did these two get so big?

Now why on earth can't I get a shot like this when they are in their dressy Christmas clothes??
Happy Monday Tuesday!

Cheers, Nikki

Friday, November 25, 2011

FO Friday #29 - Plane Knitting Cowl

Happy Friday everyone!
Happy one month until Christmas. Not to panic you... but perhaps a few of us (myself definitely included) need to start moving those needles a little faster!
When planning my trip a couple months ago, I wanted to take some knitting for the 30 hours of travel to New Zealand and Australia. I picked my project with several specific criteria.
1. lightweight
2. easily pick up and put down (traveling with two children under 4 pretty much guaranteed there would be no long stretches of uninterrupted knitting - in fact I don't think there ever is these days)
3. could be knit on needles that I would not cry at the loss of should security take them away (I knew I could fly with my knitting from Canada to the US but could not get a straight answer on the internet or on Rav about taking knitting on flights to and from New Zealand and Australia.)*
I chose to knit a Striped Infinity Scarf using the recommended Zauberball. It was the perfect choice. It was light and had an easily memorized pattern. I really enjoyed watching the colour changes appear. And, I finally got to try out knitting with a Zauberball - next time I'm going to brave some of the more fun colours ; )

The design is incredibly simple: Cast on stitches. Knit 2 row pattern repeat until desired length. Cast off. Seam edges. The actual pattern calls for knitting a scarf about double the length of mine but as I wanted to be able to wear mine as an indoor accessory, I didn't want it to be too warm or bulky. 
This is my preferred way of wearing it.
It has definitely been my go-to accessory on recent cold days. 
I really like how mine turned out but think it would also have been great at double the length. I think I have enough left in the skein to make another one so then I could wear it both ways. The only change I would make if I was to make it again would be to take the time to do a provisional cast-on to be able to make a seamless join to the cowl loop.

Plane Knitting Cowl

Pattern: Striped Infinity Cowl by Michelle Hunter
(I used about 1/2 a skein of the Schokocreme)
Needle: 5.5mm/US 9
(I knit it flat on crummy 16" circ of mysterious origin)
Hope you have a wonderful last-weekend-in-November. Be sure to check in next Friday for my first giveaway! I hope you also have time to check out some other awesome FO's through Tami's blog.
Cheers, Nikki

*  For the record I never had any trouble with my needles on any of my 7 domestic and international flights during that trip.

action shot of (unblocked) cowl  in Australia

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

WIP Wednesday # 40 - The row that never ends

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Do you know that incredibly annoying children's song "This is the Song that Never Ends"? Well, knitting My Husband's Henley is becoming the row that never ends. I just go round and round and round. And I still have two sleeves to do!

Still, I know I must be making progress. Right?

Last week
This week
I did manage to find some buttons this week that I really like for it.

On the other front, I feel like I am almost getting to the end of this baby blanket. It seems to be a wee bit narrower than the pattern suggests. I'm extra annoyed by this because it means either my maths or my gauge is off... and I swatched! Of course, since I'm a math wizard (ha) it must be my gauge ; ) Other than that, I'm really happy with this project so far. Call me crazy delusional ambitious I'm really hoping wishing on a star planning to have it ready for FO Friday next week.

Last week
This week
In more exciting news, look what arrived in the mail yesterday from Paula @ Knit and Seek!

I was excited to find some seriously lovely fingering weight yarn and some yummy chocolate! (I ate one chocolate right away and am saving the other for when I cast on my first puff )
I think 2012 will be the year of the hexipuff!

What do you plan to knit or crochet in 2012? Be sure to check out the links through Tami's blog for plenty of inspiration.

I'll be back on Friday with the last FO of my Australia knitting. Until then, I'm wishing all my American friends a very happy Thanksgiving.

Cheers, Nikki

For those of you who could use a laugh...

Yesterday's attempt to get a
Christmas photo of the kids...

Monday, November 21, 2011

What the Mood Monday - And the winner is...


A while back I won a giveaway by Laura Nelkin from Nelkin Designs. My prize arrived while I was in Australia and I'm finally getting around to blogging about it.

Just for leaving a wee little comment on Laura's blog, I won a copy of her Clarus pattern. Clarus is a lovely lace top-down shawlette. I also received some lovely yarn to make it with.

The yarn is Shalimar Yarns Breathless. It is a superwash blend of merino, cashmere and silk. The squishiness factor is unreal. Laura has sent me a skein in the Oyster colourway.

I'm not sure when I will get to start my Clarus but in the meantime I will definitely be spending some cuddle time with this yarn!

Speaking of giveaways... I have a couple blogging milestones coming up in the next little while so watch this space for your chance to be a winner!

Cheers, Nikki

Friday, November 18, 2011

FO Friday #28 - A New Use for Yarn

Happy Friday everyone!

We are officially getting into the festive spirit around here. It's really nice to have something to look forward to when it's -15 C and snowing...

I have finished my first craft of the season and my most favourite thing about it is it is made with yarn!

Following these instructions from Better Homes and Gardens, I covered wreath form with worsted weight acrylic (an actual use for Red Heart!). Next, I made the felt flowers and leaves. Then, I added a little green yarn, pearls in the flowers and a spray of fake berries as accents. Finally, I tacked everything into place with my glue gun.
Start to finish the the project took and 2 hours which a thought was pretty good for a first time project!

I love love love wreaths and I'm sure this won't be my last wreath-related-yarny-craft : )

If today you have a hankering for actual knitted and crocheted FO's, look no further than all the linked up projects on Tami's blog!

Cheers, Nikki

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

WIP Wednesday #39 - In for the Long Haul

 Happy Wednesday everyone!

I feel like I have spent the last week knitting like mad... unfortunately I'm not sure I have a lot to show for it.

I am really enjoying the balance of knitting two projects at the same time. Usually, I break up a large project with small projects. Often I find, however, that as soon as I finish a small project, I cast on another one and never really get anywhere on the big project. With two big projects, I can go back and forth without getting too bored and I am making progress on both. In fact, I have turned it into a bit of a geeky knitting mind game where every time I finish a skein, I switch project.

My husband's henley is going well. It is definitely the more boring of the two projects. I have knit about 6 inches since I divided the arm holes... only 11 more inches to go!
Sweater this time last week
Sweater this week - it's a lot bigger I swear
 I love the pattern for the blanket. I am anxious about picking up the stitches for the trim but otherwise I really like the way it looks. I figure I'm about 2/3's done now (and I'm going to have a significant amount of yarn left over - doh!)
Blanket last week
Blanket this week
All this knitting and I've had time for a bit of a Christmassy yarny craft. Check back on Friday for that. And, don't forget to check Tami's blog for lots more WIP's. It looks like holiday knitting is in full swing!

Cheers, Nikki

Monday, November 14, 2011

Whatever the Mood Monday: Dessert Post #1

Happy Monday everyone!

I'm really enjoying everone's posts for NaBloPoMo. I forgot all about it. Although, starting a month of daily blog posting the day after I got back from overseas would perhaps have been a bit... ambitious (or more like crazy!).

I've been wanting to right a post about a great (non-knitting related) course I got to take in Melbourne. Two friends and I took a day long desserts course at Savour Chocolate and Patisserie School. It was sooo much fun and so yummy!

We made 3 amazing desserts (and them ate them!).

The first dessert was:
 Beetroot sponge with Orange marmalade ice cream, 
Chocolate mousse and Beetroot butterscotch sauce.

Now, I know Beetroot sound like a strange ingredient for a dessert but we used beetroot powder and it was very subtle, although it definitely added some colour!

First, we made the orange marmalade - it took a long time to reduce and set up but it smelled heavenly!

Next up, was the chocolate mousse. I was the one who had to make it!

I was so scared of cooking it too long and curdling the eggs
and ruining it for the whole class!
We put the mousse in moulds to set in the fridge. At the same time, we made the ice cream and put it in the freezer.

After the butterscotch sauce was done, we baked the sponge... in the microwave!

Beetroot Sponge microwaved in disposable cups
This it what it looked like all together.

Of course, this is what it looked like when I got through with it ; )

Next time, I'll show you the dessert we made that I want to try to duplicate for Christmas... Chocolate Lava Cake anyone?

Cheers, Nikki

Thursday, November 10, 2011

FO Friday #27 - Twisted Teal

FO Friday Link
Happy Friday everyone!

It is Remembrance Day in Canada today. It is a day when we honor the memories and the lives of those who have served our country to protect its people. I am looking forward to taking my kids to one of the Remembrance Day ceremonies in town today. It is a day that holds a lot of meaning for me personally and as a Canadian. I feel very lucky to be able to raise my kids to appreciate the importance of it.

For me, this is also the last day before I hit total gong-show Christmas mode. Because our Thanksgiving is in October, the retail marketing folk here try very hard to start the Christmas season the day after Hallowe'en. My friends and family agree that it really should be after Remembrance Day. I will be celebrating the start to the season on Saturday by going to my favourite Christmas Market. I am very excited... despite the snow in the forecast that is supposed to start tonight - bleh.

I have another Christmas present to share today. I have knit my husband's cousin a pair of lovely fingerless mittens. I love them soooo much that it will be tough to part with them. Fortunately, the intended recipient is one of my favourite people who proved her worth as a hand knit recipient when I gave her my Honey Cowl earlier this year. She even texted me this week to say she was happy for a cold day because she got to start wearing it again. Now that's a quality person to devote some knitting time to.

Twisted Teal

Pattern : Sweet Fern Mitts by Clara Parkes
Yarn: Madelinetosh Vintage  in Baltic
Needles: US 5/ 3.75mm bamboo DPN's

I really enjoyed this pattern and it's a good thing because I ended up knitting three mittens. When I pulled this project together at the last minute before I left for my trip, I quickly glanced at other projects on Rav. So, I knew there was an errata for the cable chart because it is backwards in the pattern book. I printed of the new chart and off I went. Unfortunately, I didn't discover that there was an error in the placement of the thumb on the right mitten until I had finished the first mitten and discovered that the cable was wayyy off center. I was surprised that a pattern in such a well known book as The Knitter's Book of Wool would have so many errors... and a little annoyed. That being said, I know I will knit these again.

My stitch gauge was pretty much right on but my row gauge was off so I added an extra cable repeat before the thumb and another before I cast off.

The yarn is the ever amazing Madelinetosh. This time it's Vintage. The saturation of the baltic colourway is amazing. I didn't block these so I don't know how colourfast it is. All I can say is my love affair with the Tosh continues and I see no end in sight.

My husband had the ring on my right hand made for me while we were
in Australia for our 5 year anniversary. It was a total surprise.
And yes, he is all that and a bag of chips ; ) 

I absolutely love these mitts (I also bought matching teal socks in New Zealand to go with them) but I think next time I'm going to try a more rustic wool as the designer suggests. It will be interesting to compare and contrast the two projects.

Whether or it is Remembrance Day in your neck of the woods, I hope you get a moment today to enjoy the love of those who are important to you

Cheers, Nikki

They shall not grow old, as we grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them
                                -Laurence Binyon

Lest we forget

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

WIP Wednesday #38 - Without Witty Words

Happy Wednesday Everyone!

I'm annoyed that I couldn't think of a decent title for this post. I'm excited to post this Wednesday because I have made quite a lot of progress on a couple projects of my bigger projects that I had to leave at home while I was away. It has really been great to get back to them.

First up is the final sweater in my self imposed New Year's resolution to knit a sweater for each member of my family. My husband's henley is knit top down and I have finally gotten to the point where you divide the body and join in the round. It is actually starting to look like a sweater and not some crazy crooked blanket.

I am enjoying this pattern but it seems to have a lot of " knit this, while doing this, and this... and don't forget to keep doing this!" It was such a relief to finally get past all the various raglan increases. After finishing the button holes and joining the round the next instruction is to "continue to knit in the round for 17 inches... or until you fall into a boredom induced coma." Ok, I might be paraphrasing. It's incredible how quickly I have gone from doing so many things at once that it was all I could do to keep my head from exploding to just trying to stay awake.

By my calculation I need to knit 24,000 stitches just to finish the body. Then I get to start the sleeves! I really hope I will actually get this project done in 2011. I feel so close and strangely yet so far from reaching my goal.

Actual sweater shape appearing!

close up of the placket
Finally, a quick peak at my progress on my vintage baby blanket. It pretty much looks the same as before but it is much bigger. I figure I am some where between 1/3 and 1/2 finished. I am loving knitting this. It is simple enough for TV knitting but interesting enough that I'm not bored yet.

I'm not sure which will be finished first, the baby (due December 1st) or the blanket.

Geesh, I think it may finally be time to figure out how to make a light box. I can't handle the idea of these crummy indoor photos all winter!

Don't forget to come along with me to check out other WIP's through Tami's blog. I'm sure there will be plenty of project and photography inspiration there.

Cheers, Nikki

Token shot from my Aussie adventure.
Just cause : )

Friday, November 4, 2011

FO Friday #26 - Toddler Topper

Happy Friday everyone!

On Monday, it was sunny and about 23 degrees. Today, it is snowing. Of course, on Monday I was about half a world away... still, it all feels a bit surreal.

Fortunately, one of the projects I completed on my trip away was to make Doodlebug another winter hat to replace the too small 1st attempt.

I have again used Tami's lovely Candy Skein Yummy Sport superwash. Even after 2 toddler hats, I still have some left! May be even enough for baby booties? or mittens? The yarn continued to live up to my previous praise. It feels wonderful and the colourway is divine.

I loosely based the hat on a free basic hat pattern. I knit the child size because I was using sport weight on smaller needles than the pattern calls for. I was going to knit a basic folded brim hat but after I finished the ribbing I decided to so a three-needle-join and make the brim into one piece.

I'm really happy with the result. It fits now and is stretchy and long enough to last the season. It feels very warm and cuddly and best of all it's ready just in time!

Toddler Topper

Pattern: Adapted from Basic Winter Hat - Back to Basics
By Brandy Fortune
Yarn: Candy Skein Yummy sport superwash
Needles: 3.75mm/US 5 16" circular & dpns

Ok, I know the hat isn't quite finished in the above pic but it is my favourite one I have. I'll show you a couple more but then you have to promise to go to Tami's blog and check out some more FO Friday blogs with better photography than mine!

Hope you have a great (snow free) weekend.

Cheers, Nikki

 PS: Here's a few bonus shots of the views I had while knitting this hat : )
Sulphur Crested Cockatoo

King Parrots


Ocean view from Lorne on the Great Ocean Road