29 December 2010

Race for Life Chemo Cap + 1 more

Christmas is an occasion for rejoice and celebration, and being so far away from our family and friends we especially looking forward to the Christmas cards coming from different parts of the world. Among the cards however we received some not so happy news, my DH's cousin Bridget was made redundant earlier this year, then to add to the blow she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She said in her letter that she's already been through one lot of chemo and has lost her hair, and she's due to have a second round in February. My heart went out to her and her young family, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that she will pull through this. Being seven thousand miles away from Bridget there is little we could do to help, but I am a knitter/crocheter and I think that's how I could show my support so I made these:

Race for Life Chemo Cap

Crochet Chemo Hat

The top one is knitted in a wool/cashmere blend and the bottom one is crocheted in a merino blend, both are very soft to the touch, I'm very pleased with how they come out (the photos really don't do their justice, but I am terrible at photography). The caps are now being posted to England and I hope they would fit, but most of all, I hope Bridget will win her battle.

16 December 2010

My First Design - Mist Stole

I still can't believe that I am actually writing a pattern. My Mist Stole generated some interests on Ravelry and I have been asked for the pattern. As I have never written a pattern before, this attempt will be rather challenging.

I wanted an airy lacy stole with an easy pattern that’s quick to make, one that would give instant gratification. I have a crochet pattern book that I bought from China some time ago and it has many lovely stitch patterns, and this one always catches my eyes whenever I flip through the book, it has no name, only No.265

The stitch pattern is easier to do than it looks, it has a 15 st x 6 rows repeat, however to get symmetry one row should consist of multiples of 15 + 8 stitches. I added 3 stitches each side to make up the edges. The sample stole has 5 repeats, so 15x5 + 8 sts + 6 edge sts = 89 sts to start off (stitch count varies each row).

Yarn: any fingering weight yarn about 700 meters. (I used Patons Australia’s Mist, hence the name)
Hook: 4.5mm or size to get the fabric you like

Gauge doesn't matter in this project. My finished stole measures 20 x 68 in (51 x 172 cm), but it can easily be altered to suit your personal taste by doing more of less pattern repeats

Instructions  (American crochet terms)
Ch92, dc in 4th chain from hook (2 dc made), dc in each chain across. Total 89 dc.
Set up row: ch3 (= 1dc throughout), dc in next dc, ch1 (these 3 sts form the edge on one side) :: *4dc in next dc, skip next 6 dc, 4dc in next dc, ch4, skip next 3 dc, sc in the next dc, ch4, skip next 3 dc*, repeat  between * * 4 times ::  4dc in next dc, skip next 6 dc, 4dc in the next dc ::  ch1, dc in next dc, dc in top ch. turn.
Row 2: ch3, dc in next dc, ch1 ::  *4dc in next dc, skip next 6dc, 4dc in next dc, ch5, sc in the next sc, ch5, 4dc in next dc, skip next 6dc, 4dc in next dc*, repeat between * * 4 times :: 4dc in next dc, skip next 6 dc, 4dc in the next dc ::  ch1, dc in next dc, dc in top ch. turn.
Row 3:  ch3, dc in next dc, ch1 ::  *4dc in next dc, skip next 6dc, 4dc in next dc, ch6, sc in the next sc, ch6, 4dc in next dc, skip next 6dc, 4dc in next dc*, repeat between * * 4 times :: 4dc in next dc, skip next 6 dc, 4dc in the next dc ::  ch1, dc in next dc, dc in top ch. turn.
Row 4: ch3, dc in next dc, ch1 ::  1dc in next dc, *ch4, sc between the 2 sets of 4dc, ch4, 4dc in next dc, skip all the chains and 4dc in next dc*, repeat between   * * 4 times :: ch4, sc between the 2 sets of 4dc, ch4, 1dc in next dc :: ch1, dc in next dc, dc in top ch. turn.
Row 5: ch3, dc in next dc, ch1 :: 1dc in next dc, *ch5, sc in next sc, ch5, 4dc in next dc, skip next 6 dc, 4dc in next dc*, repeat between * * 4 times :: ch5, sc in next sc, ch5, 1dc in next dc :: ch1, dc in next dc, dc in top ch. turn.
Row 6: ch3, dc in next dc, ch1 :: 1dc in next dc, *ch6, sc in next sc, ch6, 4dc in next dc, skip next 6 dc, 4dc in next dc*, repeat between * * 4 times :: ch6, sc in next sc, ch6, 1dc in next dc :: ch1, dc in next dc, dc in top ch. turn.
These form the 6-row repeat of the pattern, repeat these 6 rows until desired length. Obviously on Row 7 you will not follow the instructions for the set up row, but by now you will have a clear picture of the pattern and your hook will know where to put the stitches. :)   Please refer to the chart if unsure.  
I finished with a Row 3, but you can finish with a Row 6 if you wish. 
End border: ch1, slip stitch in the next 3 stitches, *ch6, slip stitch in the last of 4dc, ch6, slip stitch in the next dc*, repeat between * * until only the 3 edge sts left, slip stitch till end.  turn.  ch3, dc each ch across. fasten off, weave in ends. 
Block and enjoy! :-)

(Hint: work the chains between the groups of 4dc very tightly)
After thoughts: 
The end borders of this stole are really quite unimaginative, just plain old DCs. When I made my stole I was under time pressure and couldn’t think of a border that would compliment the stitch pattern, although I like the way it is I would love to see what other options you could come up with. 
My stole was made in one direction, but I think it would also work from centre out in both directions. I also thought about adding buttons to the sides on each end to make it convertible, the edge stitches should be perfect as button holes. 

03 September 2010

Garter Stripes Bag on the move

We're going on holiday tomorrow and I've been looking for a project to bring with me, it hasn't been easy as it turned out. First of all, I'm not sure about the airline's regulations for having knitting needles on the flight, so I thought about crochet. Then I was worried about metal hooks, and I only have bamboo hooks in larger sizes. I thought about making the Flying Diamonds Shawl, but when I did the swatch I didn't quite like it. Well, when I say I did a swatch, I just started making it and after the first pattern repeat I didn't like the way it turned out, the yarn/pattern combination was not quite right. So I ripped that out.

After much debate and going through my queues and pattern library, I finally decided to make the Garter Stripes Bag. But, as I cannot bring a pair of scissors on the flight, I plan to knit this in one piece (well, as much as I can) by picking up stitches along the sides.
the front
the back

I'm on the third square here and I've been successful so far, although after picking up the stitches for the second square I realised that I was facing the wrong side. So instead of knit every row I purled every row, and it worked!

This is the back of the piece, the edging is quite neat, and no sewing up so far :)

Oh, I'm using bamboo needles, so fingers crossed that the airport security won't confiscate them!

20 July 2010

Bendigo Sheep & Wool Show

We missed the Sheep & Wool Show last year, so for this year I marked the dates on the calendar so that not to miss it again this year. Unfortunately we could only make it on the last day which was last Sunday, the day started off sunny when my younger son played his usual Sunday football match, but by the time we arrived in Bendigo it turned overcast, but there was so much going on we hardly took any notice of the weather.

My little boy had a lovely time in the little patting zoo with baby lamb, alpacas, chickens, ducks, turkeys and a calf. He loved feeding the animals, one of the alpacas even had it's nose in the feed bag he was holding; but he didn't like being trod on by the little (but certainly not light) calf.

<- one of the three alpaca in the patting zoo, isn't she beautiful! 

I, on the other hand, wanted to see alpacas. I've often admired how lofty the alpaca wool felt, and I have heard how they were such gentle animals; but I have never seen one up close. There were three alpacas in the patting zoo and they were very patient with all the children fussing about them. As soon as I put my hand in their fleece I was in love, their fleece was sooo soft and fuzzy and warm, I wanted to caress them all day!

And we found a lot more alpacas in several other tents.

Suri alpacas (they have long hair) ->

<- The colour of this baby reminded me of rich dark chocolate.

The colour of this one is actually of golden honey, but I couldn't get it to show on camera.  ->

Ok, I was bit over-enthusiastic about alpacas, but they are just too cute! We got to chat with one of the breeders and he told us that alpacas are hardy animals and are very easy to look after. They like being in a herd and they seldom get diseases. Oh, and they are head-shy, which means if you want to pat them you shouldn't raise your hand in front of their eyes or you will startle them.

I wondered if I could keep a pair of alpacas for pets ... 

Of course, no self respecting knitter would ever go to a wool show without acquiring some new stash, it would have been a waste of opportunities! But there were so much to choose from, I wondered from booth to booth, sinking my hands in wonderful skeins of silk and wool and taking mental notes of all the possibilities, but temptations were everywhere and I couldn't make up my mind. Then one particular booth caught my breath and stopped me in my breath, bundles of hand dyed skeins piled on the tables, each of unique colours, I picked up a skein to savour it's delicious colours, only to be drawn to another, and another... I battled with myself, we were suppose to be saving money right now because we were going on holiday in September, but I couldn't move! 

After much deliberation I decided to be good and not to go too mad, and settled on these ...  they are hand dyed 4ply from Waratah Fibres, I was lucky that there were 2 skeins of the same lot, and the lady even gave me a free scarf/shawl pattern :)

Before we left, we visited the Kids Korner and my son saw a lady and had his personalised spider made for him. While waiting I was drawn to a booth by Try Dyeing - I've always wanted to try dyeing my own wool and this booth had read my mind! I bought a skein of 50% silk/50% wool fingering yarn and a two colour kit complete with spoon and gloves, and of course instructions on how to proceed. But I was also pleased to find that they had blocking wires for sale and at only $20/set. So I had to have them and a little tub of blocking T-pins.

It was a exhausting day but I was happy as Punch!!

11 June 2010

Knitting for England

World Cup 2010 starts today, woohoo!! I've always watched World Cup games, well, whenever I could. I'm not football mad as my husband is but I'm not a football widow either. But knitting and watching football at the same time? well, I haven't try that before but I'm going to start now, all thanks to the World Cup 2010 group on Ravelry. The idea is to support your favourite team and knitting to earn points, 2 points for each projects started and 3 points for each projects finished.

I have four pages of To-Dos in my queue on Ravelry and at least one is earmarked for the World Cup. I don't know if I'll get to start all these projects as I already have a sizeable WIPs, but I can always be tempted especially it's for a good cause - well, sort of.

England has been frustrating to watch in the last, well, several decades really, don't suppose much will change this time around. However, one must have faith, especially when one has knitting for support. Unfortunate for us this time though, we are in the wrong time zone again. All the games will be played during the wee hours, and they have all been dually marked in the diary; exactly how many game we will actually watch it's anyone's guess. But I shall certainly be watching their first game against USA, it could be a make or break game. So GO ENGLAND!!!

Oh yes, I am supporting the Socceroos too... until they meet England that is :)