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Hot Coffee

July 12, 2012

I love my french press coffee in the morning. I don’t love when it gets too cold to drink though. I finally got around to making a cafetiere cosy recently. I knew exactly which book to turn to. I pulled out Cute and Easy Crochet by Nicki Trench. I love this book. I’d highly recommend it to crochet beginners as the projects are all fairly simple and what’s more they are pretty too. Too many crochet books and patterns are badly photographed and a bit old fashioned. This isn’t that kind of book. There are lovely fun household things like egg cosies and jam covers. Nice scarves, gloves and kids stuff. I made the teddy bear at the end of the book for the shop and is really cool.

This book has a nice coffee cosy so I got out some leftover Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride worsted and set to work. Within an evening or two I had this cheery cosy. I used a wood effect button to close the top part. I sewed on a gold heart button just for decoration. It really does keep my coffee nice and warm.



May 6, 2012

It’s April already and I haven’t done a new post in ages. I’ve been crafting away but not blogging about it. When the choice is between doing some extra crafting or blogging about it I usually knit that extra row. My other problem is technical difficulties. I do most of my Internet stuff on my phone or iPad these days. There is a nice WordPress app so I can type up posts but getting photos into the posts is a hassle and a craft blog with no photos is a bit pointless. I use picasa and getting a link to an image on a mobile device is hard. I have to investigate if there’s an app that will make things easier but even when I had an android phone which is owned by Google who own picasa it wasn’t any easier. Maybe I made a mistake and should have went with Flickr.

Anyway excuses aside I’ve actually got quite a few things done. In my last post before the baby arrived I laid out some plans and surprisingly I knit both hats and made a lot of progress on the shawl. I also crocheted another shawl and knit a dress. I got back into spinning too via the spin 5 project (more about that in another post).

First up I decided that I would finish off my Smile dress before Christmas. I had started this dress last year but abandoned it as the weather was getting better. I had knit half of the front so I took it up again and really surprised myself by doing the rest of the front and the whole back before new years. It’s probably the biggest thing I’ve knit. It was quick enough as its chunky yarn. I really love how it turned out and have worn it too.

I also crocheted a hat and booties set for Hazel for Christmas. The pattern was from The Lovely Crow. She has some lovely patterns and this one was well written and easy to follow. I loved the booties they are so cute. The hat was pretty as well however I didn’t choose a great yarn for it. I used king cole aran which is 30% wool and Hazel’s sensitive skin was not impressed. She looks pretty grumpy in any of the pictures of her with the hat on. I won’t use that yarn for a baby hat again.

Over Christmas I also crocheted a shawl. Looking back I’m impressed with all I got done. The shawl pattern is called Hill Of Tara and it is by Aoibhe Ni and was featured in Inside Crochet magazine. I made this using some warm and stripy Noro silk garden. It’s very warm and I wore it while out walking in the colder weather this winter. I love how the colours turned out in this shawl.

In my last post before the baby arrived I posted about the plans I had for knitting and crochet. Some people told me I wouldn’t have time for it but I managed to sneak a row here and there and made both hats I had planned and I’m making big progress on the Dublin Bay shawl but that will be in another post.

Here’s my weekender beret, the pattern is by Woolly Wormhead. I love her patterns, they are so clever and they are so clearly explained that it is no trouble to knit them. I’m pretty excited as I’m going to be doing a hat design workshop with Woolly Wormhead herself later in the year. This is a great hat, the neutral colour goes with everything and I love the rowan cocoon yarn it’s made from. It feels nice and heavy.

Here’s Hazel modeling her Kilkenny beret, it’s also a Woolly Wormhead design. This hat is so cute, she has worn it so much. I love the little ear flaps, they keep her cosy.

Hazel In Handknits, a big thank you!

January 11, 2012

Hello everyone! As you can imagine I’ve been busy since my last post. Baby Hazel arrived a little earlier and more dramatically than expected at the end of September. We’ve been getting to know each other since then. She is just the most perfect little lady and I genuinely can’t imagine life without her.

I want to do this post to thank everyone for their gifts and support since she arrived. We had a bit of an upset at the start as I had to go back into hospital for a while. The lovely S from L Mulligan Grocer was ever so kind, she saw my tweets complaining about hospital food and a fab parcel arrived containing homemade bread, cheese that I hadn’t been able to eat while pregnant and other treats. Fantastic.

When I got home a wonderful present had arrived from Hazel’s knitting aunties. There were many lovely cardigans and a dotey knitted elephant. There were also two fabulous knitted blankets. I got all teary eyed when I saw them. Thanks everyone for thinking of me and making such beautiful blankets. I love them so much. They are made from bamboo cotton (my favourite yarn!) with many coloured panels stitched together. I went to the knitting and stitching show with my Mum and Hazel. I had the blanket on display and I got to see nothing at the show as I spent all my time showing it off to many admirers. So knitters of the blanket, there’s a high compliment for you, other knitters thought your work was amazing.

That wasn’t all though. Many parcels arrived with knits for Hazel from as far off as Spain, London and Belgium. She is the most stylish snug handmade wearing baby. My Mum and my aunt knit for her too. I get such a happy feeling as I dress her knowing that one of you knitters sat down and made her clothes for her. It’s so special and wonderful so thank you all so much.

I’m going to be returning to blogging and in my next post I’ll tell you all about the knitting I’ve done. I surprised myself and got quite a bit done. Here’s a photo, just the one as getting photos into posts on the iPad is hard.

Some Modest Proposals

September 21, 2011

I said I’d post again with some plans for autumn winter knitting and so here they are. I went on a bit of a shopping spree in Winnie’s before I headed off on maternity leave. I have plenty yarn in my stash and lots of projects lined up already but as we all know you never have quite the right yarn for some new project that takes your fancy.

I seem to have become obsessed with baby hats, since my last post I’ve finished yet another baby hat. It’s called Propeller and it’s from Woolly Wormhead‘s excellent e-book Wee Woolly Toppers. It’s a great collection of baby hats mostly in double knitting yarns so it’s easy to knit them from stuff you have in your stash already. The patterns are very clear and very cute. I fell in love with the pattern for Kilkenny as I’m from there and it’s cute so I bought a skein of Sirdar baby crofter to make it with.

I discovered that I have the pattern for Woolly Wormhead’s weekender beret in a magazine so I decided I would make that for myself. It’s done with Rowan Cocoon so I bought a lovely skein of it in a neutral colour so that it will go with a lot of my knitted scarves and shawls. Cocoon is a lovely heavy feeling yarn, I also really like that it comes in 100g balls. I really dislike chunky yarns in 50g balls as you always need more than one of them to make anything and then you have the added hassle of joining them. 100g balls make things much easier as they go further. I can see why companies put yarn in 50g balls as the price for one sounds much more reasonable but it makes for a more annoying knitting experience.

So far my plans are pretty reasonable, two hats isn’t an insane amount of knitting. I know who say that I won’t be able to knit anymore when I have a baby. I’m not entirely sure about that as many of my knitting friends have young children and many of them took up knitting as a hobby when they had a baby. So I think I’ll be able to snatch a few moments here and there to knit. That’s the good thing about knitting and crochet, you can do a row or two and put it down without affecting it. You don’t need to be in a special room and you don’t need much equipment that has to be set up to do it either. If you have to stop in the middle it doesn’t matter. If you try doing that when brewing or some other hobby disaster will ensue. Saying that I’m hoping I’ll get to do a brew at some stage before the winter is out.

As a challenge to myself I have bought the yarn to make one of Aoibhe Ni‘s beautiful crochet shawls. I fell in love with her Dublin bay shawl the first time I saw it. It is gorgeous. I also have no idea how it was done, the stitches and pattern are so very clever. That’s part of what attracts me to lace patterns, some people do jigsaws, play chess or do crosswords, I work out lace patterns. I will probably wait some time until I start this one as baby brain and new baby tiredness would probably mean I end up with a tangled mess. It will be there waiting for me but in the meantime I’ve started crocheting Aoibhe’s winter warmer. It’s a crochet hot water bottle cover done in crochet cables and there is a crochet a long for the pattern over on Aoibhe’s Ravelry group. I love my hot water bottle in the winter but to my shame I don’t have a hand made cover for it. I’m using yellow studio Donegal aran tweed. I hadn’t really done crochet cables before but they are fun to do and I’m finding it easy to remember the repeat.

That’s all for now. New baby is due to arrive very soon so there might not be much blogging for a little while. Happy knitting and crochet!

I’ve started so I’ll finish

September 16, 2011

I’ve been finishing up a few projects recently and I’ve now reached the point where I don’t have much on the needles or hook. I feel like I can plan some lovely autumn and winter knitting and crochet without feeling any guilt for projects that I haven’t quite finished. More of plans for colder days in another post though, in this one I want to show you lots of lovely finished things.

A little while back I started the Elise shawl and I finished it recently. I really enjoyed making it and it seemed to take me no time at all, I don’t even remember working particularly hard on it. I just looked at it one day and realized I had used almost all the yarn and so I added on the border. It’s a very pink affair and while it looked good but I thought it might be a little small. This all changed after I blocked it. I use a yoga mat to block and when I pinned out the shawl it was huge and the edge went over the mat. I’m delighted with it, it is gorgeous. I will definitely be crocheting more shawls in the future and I will be wearing this one with pride.

Next up is a project that had been hanging around for ages and ages. I found my scroll lace scarf by Ysolda in the back of the wardrobe where it had languished for some time. I had the exact yarn for this in my stash, it’s Old Maiden Aunt alpaca silk sport weight in the colour way bracken, a lovely soft green with some brown in it. I started the scarf just as the winter came to an end and then got fed up with it, during the summer I found it when tidying up. I picked it up again and did the scroll lace repeats. After the lace edge was done it was a matter of picking up the stitches along the edge and then working in short rows to create the rest of the scarf. It’s worked at a very loose gauge which seems to suit it. I’m not massively keen on garter stitch lace but I do think it looks much better as a finished scarf than it did when it was just the lace edge on it’s own. I tend to wear a lot of green and brown so I think this will definitely be worn a lot this winter.

In between finishing up those projects I did some quick and easy baby knitting. I knit a baby hat in sublime baby cashmere merino silk DK. It’s such a lovely soft warm yarn and it knits so nicely, love it. I cast on about 64 stitches in the round with some 2×2 ribbing and then decreased at the top to make this hat. I was using metal double pointed needles and I think they were the reason I got some laddering between the needles which sort of bothered me but not enough to rip back the hat. After that I made some baby mittens in the same yarn from the book Irresistible gifts to knit volume 2. There are a lot of nice baby and toy patterns in this book. There are some particularly jaunty looking chickens in there and I’m hoping to get around to making them sometime.

Lastly I have yet another baby hat to show you. This one was made to go with the purple baby dress. The pattern is called sea star and not only is it cute but it’s very cleverly constructed too. You cast on and make a scalloped edge and then the edge continues up the side of the hat. It’s very sweet. The photo isn’t the best but as the baby arrival date gets closer I think I won’t have time to be posting as much. I will get a photo of herself wearing the whole outfit and post it at some stage.

One last thing to show you. This is another hand made finished project but it wasn’t made by me. I’ve mentioned a few times that my Mum is an excellent knitter but she is even better at sewing. A friend of ours very kindly gave us a moses basket for the baby. I looked for a nice cover in the shops but none of them were great. My Mum decided that this just wouldn’t do so she set about sewing a cover. So here’s what she came up with. Isn’t it just adorable? Much nicer than the shop ones and it’s so nice to have a place for the baby to sleep that has been handmade. Lots of finished stuff in this post. The baby will be arriving very very soon so I may not be able to post here for a while. I’m hoping I’ll still be able to snatch some knitting time though!

Baby Dress and Bonnet

August 27, 2011

In my last post I mentioned I’d started some baby knitting. Some women are seized by a great urge to knit a load of cute baby things and they churn out all manner of cute outfits. Some even learn how to knit when they find out that they are pregnant. I wasn’t consumed by an urge to knit, for the first three months I didn’t want to knit at all, not for me and not for the baby. Luckily babies are small and it’s quick to knit things for them. In the past two weeks I’ve started baby knitting as it just wouldn’t be right if the baby didn’t have some stuff to wear that was knitted by me. Also I was in danger of being shown up by my Mum as she is knitting two baby cardigans. I’ve knit a dress, a bonnet and a pair of booties. I’m currently powering my way through another hat.

The dress was knitted using this really simple pattern by Rebecca Gunn. It’s very simple and effective. The yarn is King Cole’s Bamboo Cotton which I got in Winnie’s Craft Cafe. I work there but don’t say much about it on the blog, it’s a great place to work and of course I think it’s well worth a visit to buy some yarn and have some coffee and cake in the cafe. Say hello to me if you do call in! Bamboo cotton is one of my favourite yarns, it’s a blend of 50% bamboo and 50% cotton, the cotton gives it some body and structure and the bamboo gives it softness, a bit of shine and good drape. It also comes in great strong colours and the balls are good value 100g ones. I love purple so decided to make the dress purple with lime green stripes. I’m not a huge fan of pastels and the pastel pinks you see for baby girls are very wishy washy so my baby is going to have cool strong coloured clothes. There were quite a few ends to sew in on the dress but I don’t mind as I’m one of these odd knitters who likes the finishing up process. I did a mattress stitch seam up the sides. There’s a nice article explaining different types of seams and when they are appropriate in the new Twist Collective here. While you’re on the website you might as well also read Carol Feller’s excellent article about the last remaining Irish woollen mills too. The dress is very cute and I got to use some of my button collection as I had some lime green buttons that matched perfectly.

After that I was on a roll so decided to start a baby hat. I was reading Knit Inc’s blog and loved the gorgeous baby bonnet she had made and so I decided I had to knit one too. I decided to try out a new yarn, Adriafil’s Sierra Andina, it is as soft as a cloud. The pattern is from Drops and has the imaginative title of bonnet in wavy pattern. I enjoyed knitting this as there is a bit of a pattern and some interesting details what with the sewing up and the picking up stitches for the bottom part. I used to hate picking up stitches but recently I think I’m getting the hang of it. I especially liked the eyelet row and turn back that creates the nice edging on the bottom.

I had a bit of the yarn left over so decided I’d knit some baby booties to match the hat. I got a loan of Knit One, Knit All by Elizabeth Zimmerman from a lovely knitter at knit night and decided to try out the tie baby booties. I’ll direct you to Knit Inc’s blog where she has a great review of the book including pictures. I think it’s a great book and I have to get a copy for myself. The things EZ does with garter stitch and shaping, it’s such inspirational knitting even if you never made anything from the book. I don’t think that would happen though as many of the patterns are so clever you feel like you just have to try them out, she also designs using a classic style that never goes out of fashion. The baby booties were a lot of fun to make and are very cute. I ran out of yarn so had to cast off the second one one row from the end. Luckily I had some similar white Drops alpaca in my stash so I used that to sew them up. I may add some ribbon to up the cute factor even more.

Toucans, hooks and shawls

August 2, 2011

While on holidays I started my first crochet shawl. I’ve knit many shawls but had never crocheted one for some unknown reason. The pattern I chose was the Elise shawl (Ravelry link) and it has been plain sailing and very enjoyable to crochet. There are only two rows to remember which makes it very easy to do. The yarn I’m using is Malabrigo sock and it’s gorgeous to work with and I just love the bright pink. In fact I was loving everything about this project until the crochet hook I was using started to really annoy me. I use a few different kinds of hooks. My favourite ones are the Clover hooks as they have a big comfy handle and the metal is smooth so the yarn slides easily on them. I have them in the sizes I use most, they are more expensive than other hooks though. For the other sizes I use Pony hooks as they are easy to get and fairly inexpensive. From 4.5mm down the Pony hooks are made of metal and are fine apart from the fact they don’t have a comfy grip. I usually prefer metal hooks as I find the yarn slides over them more easily. The larger Pony hooks are plastic and I was using a 5.5mm one.

The problem is with the little groove where the size of the hook is printed. You can see it clearly in the picture here. Every time I made a stitch the loop would slide up and get stuck in the groove. Maybe it’s the way I crochet and it wouldn’t bother some people but it started to really irritate me. I’ve checked my other Pony hooks and my 6mm hook doesn’t have this annoying groove and 6mm is embossed on it higher up than on the 5.5mm. I got a Clover 5.5mm hook which solved the problem and I started flying along happily on the shawl again.

I’m still working away on the shawl, I seem to be working on loads of things all at once these days. I’m hoping to get the numbers of projects down to a manageable level soon though. I did manage to get one thing finished recently. A friend asked me ages ago to crochet him a toucan and well who am I to argue with a request like that? It just so happened that I had just the pattern. I found a toucan in Brigette Read’s Super super cute crochet and promised to make him. Reading the reviews just now it seems like many people had problems with the patterns in this book. I have to say I didn’t find anything wrong with the pattern for the toucan at all. Now saying that I’ve made quite a few crochet toys at this stage and am used to the usual construction and increasing and decreasing methods. To me most crochet toys are made in a similar way so perhaps I just didn’t notice any mistakes. Perhaps a beginner might find it more difficult. I was very pleased with how the toucan turned out especially his fabulous beak. I made sure the beak would have the proper curve by stuffing a pipe cleaner into it and using that to give the right shape. However the real test was whether my friend would like him. Thankfully he was very pleased with him.

I’ve finally started some baby knitting and am making quick progress so I should be back here soon with some cute finished stuff to show you.

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