Beyond In Threes

Beyond Puerperium by Kelly BrookerThis week I’ve been trying out a new baby pattern, Beyond Puerperium by Kelly Brooker. I’ve knitted several In Threes by Kelly Herdrich for various babies. But I waiting until this baby was born, and being a boy, I decided that In Threes was perhaps too ‘girly’. I hate this concept of ‘boyish’ and ‘girly’, I know that men and women are different, but the differences are not binary, not blue and pink, the differences are on a spectrum.

Knitting 195Anyway, for this little boy I decided on Beyond Puerperium. What I love about this pattern is that instructions are given for a number of yarn weights in a number of sizes. I found some superwash DK in my stash in purple and green. It knit up really quickly and is super cute. I don’t know very much about babies, but I’ve been told that the buttons down the side make it easier to dress the baby, rather than having to pull a jumper down over their heads.

Knitting 211There are a few things I’ll do differently next time (and there will be a next time). The first is the buttons. I don’t know if I placed them too far apart, but the buttons along the yoke are pulling a bit. If anyone has any suggestions on how to fix this I would love to know in the comments. Do I need to place the buttonholes closer together? Or do I need sew the buttons farther from the edge of the fabric?

Knitting 206The second thing that I would do differently is that I would knit the button band in the same colour as the cuffs, rather than having a striped button band. By slipping the stitches you get a really neat edge, but the colours kind of bleed a bit on the stripes. This isn’t a big deal, but I think it would be neater if it was a solid colour.

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Dog jumper No. 2

Dog Jumpers 050As I said in my recent blog post, I finished two dog jumpers* in the last little while. Here Ollie models Biscuits & Bones Dog Coat by Patons knit using Cascade Yarns 220 on 5.5mm needles. It’s knitted from the top down, seamed from the neck to the belly and then the ribbing is added along the bottom edge and at the arm holes. I love the detailing on this jumper; the cables are designed to look like dog bones. However, I didn’t enjoy the double moss stitch (or whatever it’s called) and it was much slower to complete than the first jumper. Again, this jumper was easy to tailor to the size of my dogs and I think the end product is really cute.

Dog Jumpers 053I really wanted to give these jumpers a proper photo shoot. Dogs in jumpers, it kind of demands a bit of sillyness with the camera. So I packed my camera bag with treats and we headed to St. Enda’s Park for a nice walk. Padraig Pearse, one of the leaders of the Easter Rising in 1916, ran a school on these grounds and the building is now a museum. A previous owner, William Hudson, built follies all over the park. I have so many happy memories of playing on these stone structures as a child. The follies are in the process of being restored at the moment and are a really interesting part of the history of the park.

Dog Jumpers 047 squareI can’t find much online about the follies, so maybe I’ll have to go back some day with my camera and a notebook for another post. Anyway, in this case the stones made a great backdrop for my knitted jumpers. See Ollie staring off wistfully into the distance? Yeah, he’s really staring at Rossa who is holding the treats just off camera. The glamorous life of a canine model!

* To any US readers, in Ireland we call sweaters jumpers.

Dog jumper No. 1

Dog Jumpers 041I finished two dog jumpers* in the last few months, but because the weather has been seasonably warm (i.e. hot in Summer, which is surprisingly rare in Ireland) I haven’t had the chance to photograph them yet. It really didn’t seem fair to put the dogs in wool jumpers during a heat wave**. The temperature has dropped in the last week or so which meant that I could finally photograph these two jumpers without feeling guilty.

Dog Jumpers 036Mia models the Dog Sweater by Red Heart Design Team knitted in Cascade Yarns 220 on 5 and 5.5mm needles. I loved this top down pattern. It was a really quick, straightforward knit and a great base for experimentation. You just have to look through the finished projects on Ravelry to see what other have done with this pattern. It’s also very easy to measure and tailor the pattern to your dog as you go along. I would definitely knit this one again.

Dog Jumpers 005Now, I know what you’re going to say. She has finally lost her mind knitting jumpers for her dogs. And you may well be right. But I have my reasons.  Both dogs are long haired dogs and as such need to be groomed every 3 months or so. When we get their hair cut they tend to feel the cold and need a bit more warmth for about a week until they aclimatise to their new haircut. Image getting your hair cut very short, you might find that you need a hat. Well, that’s my excuse anyway and I’m sticking to it!

And, here is Ollie modelling his jumper.

* To any US readers, in Ireland we call sweaters jumpers.

** To any non-Irish readers, the temperature reached the mid to late-20s (celsius), which to us is pretty hot.

Return to me

Ashby 061In September I went back to college. I had spotted this Ashby pattern ages ago and just couldn’t get it out of my head. I had romantic visions of studying, surrounded by books, with this draped around my shoulders for extra warmth. I am so delighted with the results, I think it’s one of the most beautiful things I have ever knit. Thanks so much to my hubby for taking the photos of me with the shawl and for being so patient while I took more photos in the cold on the beach this afternoon.

Ashby 004It took some time to choose the yarn as I’m all about the smooshy, cosy, soft yarns. But when you need 677m of aran weight yarn the cost of smooshy can quickly add up. I also wanted a solid colour, something neutral, as I’m not a big fan of variegated yarns. I eventually decided on Mirasol Miski (thanks Nadia for helping me choose) and ignoring the price headed home from This Is Knit with 9 skeins (675m) of the softest Llama yarn.

DSC_0482I loved working with this yarn, the colour is so warm and it really is soooooo soft. Stitch definition isn’t great with it though, and I was worried that the manic cabelling on the border section would be lost. (There are 7 different types of cables in this shawl. Bet you didn’t know that!)

Ashby 024The shawl has an unusual construction. You knit the cabled border first, using short rows to turn the 90 degree corner. You then pick up a gazillion stitches along the edges and knit the body of the shawl decreasing four stitches on every right side row. Pretty quickly I felt the shawl was eating into the 9 skeins of yarn I had bought. Ignoring my instinct I kept going but about two thirds of the way through the body I ran out of yarn. I ordered two more skeins of yarn, hoping I wouldn’t need both, but in the end I did need some (but not nearly all) of the 11th skein. Still not thinking about the cost, no sir-ee.

Ashby 062When it was finally finished I soaked the shawl and laid it out to dry but didn’t pin it as I didn’t want the stitches stretched as you might with lace. The final measurement is 34 inches high at the spine with a wingspan of 73 inches, so slightly larger than the pattern suggested. And I love it. I’ll snuggle up to this shawl for many winters to come I hope.

Lil Alvin

Alvin came to the DSPCA as a cruelty case when he was just a tiny puppy. When the inspectors picked him up he has a fractured skull and was immediately treated by the vets at the shelter.

One of his front paws was also deformed because of an old break that didn’t heal properly and it needed to be amputated, although they needed to wait until Alvin was strong enough for the operation. Alvin has been in foster care with one of the members of staff from the shelter. You can see more photos of Alvin on the DSPCA Facebook page.

Alvin had surgery a few weeks ago and is now doing great running around on three legs. However even at seven months he’s only a teeny tot and had been really feeling the cold since his operation. His foster mom couldn’t find a dog coat small enough so I knit him a special little jumper with leftovers from my hot water bottle cover as part of the Pawsitive Knits project. Despite everything Alvin has been through he’s a happy little puppy and a total cutie and is rocking his new jumper.

Shaelyn Shawl

This shawl was knit with 4.5mm needles (well one 4.5mm needle, see below) and Blue Sky Alpacas Alpaca Silk yarn. The pattern is Shaelyn by Leila Raabe.
Shaelyn shawl knitting laceI had several false starts knitting this shawl, but I learned a lot and the finished shawl is stunning. This is thanks to the delicious yarn. Alpaca silk is absolutely yummy, I loves it. I mean, it’s alpaca blended with silk, what’s not to like. I’ve become a bit obsessed with navy recently (finally over wearing a navy uniform in primary school) and the finished shawl has the most beautiful sheen and is so silky soft. I’ll wear this as a scarf with the point to the front. Must try and get a photo of that. I was very put off by the idea of shawls until I realised I didn’t have to wear them over my shoulders, but instead more like a scarf.

Shaelyn shawl knitting laceHowever, it was not without it’s problems. I started with 5.5mm needles, then switched to 5mm after the beginning chart as I wasn’t happy with the tension. Then switched again to 4.5mm as I still wasn’t happy. This was my first fudge, because I just switched needle size without starting again.

My second fudge was slipping the first stitch knitwise, until I realised this wasn’t giving the smooth edge that I was looking for. The first two stitches are knit on both the wrong and the right side. For some reason that I cannot figure out in my brain, I need to be slipping purlwise to get the smooth edge. Again I didn’t rip, just kept going, now slipping purlwise.

Then as I approached the second lace repeat I miscalculated how many stitches I needed on my needles and knit two rows too many (there are 4 increases on each right side row). I could fudge this too, but then one of my stockinette stripes would be longer than the rest.

Individually I could live with these fudges, but all together they were getting to me and I decided to rip back and start again. Even though I hate ripping back and avoid it at all cost.

Oh and then, just as I was about to do the final lace chart I realised I was using one 5mm needle and one 4.5mm needle. D’oh.

Heffalump

Knit for a friend’s daughter’s first birthday, this elephant was an absolute joy to knit. The pattern is Elijah and I used Sublime Yarns Baby Cashmere Merino Silk DK and 3mm double pointed needles.

Knitting elephantThe bits I liked:

  • No seaming = major bonus. This toy is knit in the round from the head down, picking up stitches to add the body, legs, arms and ears. Genius.
  • The result is just so freaking cute.
  • The pattern is so well written, with really clear instructions as to where to pick up the stitches. If you look through the finished projects on Ravelry, you’ll see that they’re all pretty damn cute, I think this is down to such a well written pattern.
  • I love the details at the back of the head and the ends of the feet and arms.
  • This was a really quick knit.

The bits I didn’t like:

  • Picking up some of the stitches nearly drove me batty. For the arms you pick up 16 stitches across 4 needles. Jeepers. But it gets worse. For the ears you pick up 20 stitches across 3 needles in two rows of 10 each. Ouch.

New outside studio

I’ve always loved brickwork. I know, what an odd thing to say. But the texture and the colour variation in exposed brickwork have always appealed to me. When I was doing the Project Photography workshop I started to think about our back wall. When we moved into our house it was pink. Yes, our back wall was pink and I swore it would be the first thing we changed. Well you can guess what happened – nothing, we never got around to painting it.

Outdoor studioSo when I suggested painting it white a few weeks ago R gladly obliged. And now I have a fabulous outdoor studio for photographing my knitting. It provides a clean, white background while still retaining some texture and interest. Whoop. So of course I got straight to work photographing my two latest project, a cowl for me and a cowl for R. We’re all set for winter in this house.

The first is my Seagreen cowl, the pattern is the Slushie Cowl from This Is Knit. I used two balls of Debbie Bliss Rialto in Aqua and about half a ball of Debbie Bliss Angel in Jade. I love the mixture of textures and colours in this cowl, I can’t wait to wear it. The texture is created with a simple but effective mixture of knit and purl rows and the contrasting texture of the two yarns. LOVE. IT. I blocked it when finished, but this flattened the texture a bit too much for my liking, so I’ve unblocked it, so to speak, since taking the photo above.

Next up is R’s April in Paris cowl. This was knit with yarn bought on our honeymoon in Paris, La Droguerie Baby Douceur. This is 100% baby alpaca and is DIVINE. Using the magic that is Ravelry Pattern Browser I searched for suitable cowl patterns based on yarn weight and yardage and R chose his favourite. This was knit with 10mm needles and knit up in about 3 days, the fastest I’ve ever finished a single project. Seriously, why don’t I always knit with 10mm needles? If you click through to the Ravelry project page above you can see a photo of R trying his hand at modelling.

What do you think of my new outdoor studio??

FO: A Tale of Two Cardies

Two of cousins had babies in May of this year, a boy and a girl. Cue much baby knitting. I had some lovely cotton that I bought at HandmAid last year, three balls of Rowan Handknit Cotton in a lovely soft green and three balls of Debbie Bliss Cotton DK in a gorgeous rich stone colour. I prefer to not to use pink for girls and blue for boys so these colours were perfect. I didn’t quite have enough of both colours so I decided to use Debbie Bliss Cotton DK in Navy as an accent colour.

These are my Hannah and Tiernan cardigans. The pattern is the Garter Yoke Baby Cardie by Jennifer Hoel. I adore this cardie because it’s quick and easy. It’s a top down seamless pattern so no sewing up. I used DK weight yarn and 4.5mm needles to give a bigger cardigan, and I’m delighted with the results.

I’m really confused though because I needed an extra ball of navy yarn with the stone cardie. I used about 4.5 balls in total for the stone cardigan and 3.5 for the green one. I know they’re two different yarns but wasn’t expecting such a difference as they turned out about the same size. I continue to learn something new with each project.

Ok, one last photo, I just HAVE to show you these gorgeous red car buttons that I bought in La Droguerie in Paris. I think they’re just about the dotiest thing I have ever seen. I’m almost sorry to give them away but they are going to a very special cousin, who I know will love them as much as I do.

A Knitted Wedding

I don’t really know where to start. I married my best friend and the love of my life in April and we had a magical day. It was everything we could have asked for and more. We got married in Ballybeg House in Wicklow, which is a private venue with a beautifully decorated house and a permanent marquee.

Bride in tea length Justin Alexander dress with knitted shawl.There were several factors that informed our choice of venue. (1) We didn’t want a hotel. There is nothing wrong with hotels but we wanted to do something a bit more unique with more flexibility. (2) We wanted fantastic food. We are huge foodies and this was so important. We used Molly’s Larder, as recommended by the venue and every single guest complimented the food which made my day. (3) Rossa wanted to include homebrew or craft beer in some shape or form. Ballybeg allowed us to serve his homebrew during our drinks reception and the publican who ran the bar agreed to get a keg of Metalman Pale Ale.

Knitted shawl for wedding

(c) Halfadreamaway.com

I’ve written about my knitted shawl already and shared some photos of the finished product. I was surprised that it acted like a security blanket on the day, something familiar and comforting. I was very calm throughout the whole process and very relaxed on the morning. However, once I got in the car with my dad and brother it all began to feel like a bit of a dream. The shawl was something to wrap around me and made me feel secure.

Knitted lavender boutonnière buttonhole

(c) Halfadreamaway.com

You may also have seen the Lavender that I knitted for the guys buttonholes (boutonnière). These were also a big hit with our guests and the guys themselves. Plus they don’t wilt and die so we’ll always have them as a momento.

knitted cake topper for wedding cake

(c) Halfadreamaway.com

The final piece of knitting for the wedding was the cake topper. I knitted a bride and groom from Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi and fudged two dogs from the lion pattern from the same book. I added some extra details to the bride and groom such as glasses for Rossa and a fascinator for me. I couldn’t have Ollie and Mia there on the day so we had to have them on the cake. I think they look pretty cute.

For other brides and grooms considering including DIY in their weddings my advice would be: Be realistic about your skills and more importantly be realistic about your time frame. And ask for help, your friends and family are probably dying to get involved in your big day so let them. Take the pressure off. And finally if whatever you are creating isn’t perfect you are the only person who is likely to notice so don’t worry about it.