Projects, stories, memories and myths of knitting and crafts

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Mediterranean Maia

Maia is one of the seven small shawls from Rosemary Hill. The shawl names are derived from the constellation know as the The Seven Sisters or The Pleiades. In mythology they were the virgin daughters of Atlas and Pleione. They were hunted down by Orion and to escape they turned into doves and flew into the heavens where they became stars and Zeus claimed them all. 

Maia means grandmother, mother or nurse. She was seduced by Zeus and gave birth to Hermes, the messenger of the gods.

I really love the texture and the lace together. It works beautifully.

I have called my shawl Mediterranean Maia because the colour way of the yarn reminds me of this sea in all its moods.

This pattern was an absolute joy to knit. For me, it had an intuitive rhythm. I could pick it up and and put it down randomly with great ease. The design elements are interesting and fun to construct.  I will be watching so see how the other shawls in the series develop.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Festive Fingerless Mitterns

Last Thursday at our Knitting Group Christmas Party, we had a lovely yarn swop where I got the perfect yarn for Christmas Mittens. It is called Noro Aurora and has a sparkly tread woven into it.  It is very pretty.

I started looking for a pattern on Ravelry and could not find one I liked so I wrote one myself which I will share at the end of this blog.

I used the double circular needle method which I find makes knitting in the round much simpler but use DPNs if that is what is comfortable.

I knitted the first mitten taking notes, wrote the pattern and then knitted the second from the pattern so it all seems to be in order. Please let me know if it is not. Here you can really see the sparkle in the yarn.

Then there were two, all complete.

The final test is to try them, wear them and enjoy them.

Festive Fingerless Mittens

Any Double knitting yarn: 1 ball, 50 g
Yarn Used: Noro Aurora – wool-mohair blend
Gauge : 15st x 20 rows to 2 inches
Size : I have large hands and wanted snug mittens. Looser fit on medium hands. Stitches can be adjusted for smaller hands.

2 3mm 40cm circular needles / 4 3mm double pointed needles
scrap yarn / stitch holders
stitch makers
yarn needle

k - knit
p - purl
pm - place marker
sm - slip marker
m1 - make 1 by knitting into the back of the loop between the stitches before the next stitch

To knit these I used the double circular needle method. Use DPNs if you prefer this method.

Cast on 42 stitches with long tail cast on method. Divide the stitches equally, 21 stitches to each needle, making sure that they are not twisted and the last cast on stitches are on the back needle. Join the open end by slipping the last stitch from the front needle onto the back needle. Lift the second last stitch from the back needle, over the last stitch and onto the front needle.


Row 1 K2, P1 rib, repeat to end
Row 2-34 Repeat Row 1

Thumb Gusset
Row 35 all odd rows Knit
Row 36 K5, pm, m1, k2, m1 pm, knit to end (44sts)
Row 38 K5, sm, m1, k4, m1 sm, knit to end (46sts)
Row 40 K5, sm, m1, k6, m1 sm, knit to end (48sts)
Row 42 K5, sm, m1, k8, m1 sm, knit to end (50sts)
Row 44 K5, sm, m1, k10, m1 sm, knit to end (52sts)
Row 46 K5, sm, m1, k12, m1 sm, knit to end (54sts)
Row 48 K5, sm, m1, k14, m1 sm, knit to end (56sts)
Row 50 K5, sm, m1, k16, m1 sm, knit to end (58sts)
Row 51-52 Knit

Row 53 K5, place next 18 st on a stitch holder for the tumb. Turn knitting and cast on 2 stitches, turn knitting again and knit row. (42st)
Row 54 Knit
Row 55-67 K2, P1 rib, repeat to end

Cast off loosely using a larger needle.


Place stitches from stitch holder onto 2 needles, nine on each.

Row 1 Knit 18st, pick up 3 from the cast on after thumb gusset, 21sts.
Row 2-12 K2, P1 rib

Cast off loosely using a larger needle.

Weave in the loose ends. Put on and admire!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Borneo's Golden Christmas Crown.

As I mentioned in my last post, a friend knitted her husband a hat that Borneo saw. He proceeded to covet it. So against all my declarations of "no Christmas knitting under pressure" this year, on Friday, I started knitting said Christmas hat.

The friend generously donated the yarn, Elle, Merino Tweed, as it is difficult for me to get out into the shops at the moment. I received it at the Knitting Group Christmas Party on Thursday evening.

I bought the pattern, 'Habitat' from Brooklyn Tweed, online and started it on Friday afternoon. As the weekend intervened and Borneo was working from home on Monday, nothing was accomplished over those days. I finished it this morning. It was a really quick knit. Here it is unblocked.

The pattern was a joy to work with and it progressed with relative ease, except for the fact that a cold came to visit on Monday evening and made my body its home in the ensuing days . Fuzzy headed yesterday, I had to rip back 2 rows as I had turned a couple of cables the wrong way. I loved the size of the chart. It really makes it easy to read and work from them. Here is a better picture of what the pattern actually looks like. I love it!

Last night, on his return from work, Borneo almost caught me out and walked in on me knitting it, but the Universe stopped him at the corner shop, where he called me to ask if we needed milk. I abandoned it mid row knowing he was steps away. There were only 4 more rows to knit!

It is wrapped in a pretty Christmas bag with a blue ribbon, awaiting revelation on Saturday, ready to crown his head in warmth and love. Let's hope that he does not decide to randomly read this blog before then and spoil the surprise. 

Friday, 17 December 2010

Hats. Hats. Hats.

I have been taking a break from both Eala Bhan, who has gown a few inches and Maia, where I have reached the final 2 charts.

On Thursday night at the knitting group Jane arrived with a hat that I have fallen in love with. It is Brambles by Amanda Muscha from the Knitty magazine. Within 4 days, I had whipped up 2 of them, enjoying every minute of a well written pattern and a gorgeous design. It all falls into place beautifully and is such a joy to knit.

I have not posted them on Ravelry until know as one of them is my secret Santa gift at the Knitting Group's Chirstmas party tonight. This one is knitted in Manos Silk Blend and shows the pattern definition beautifully.

The second is knitted in Mirasol Hacho which I bought by accident, thinking it was a sock yarn when it is actually a DK weight. It knitted beautifully and although it does not show the design as well, I really like it too. It will be the first blue hat I own which is very strange as many of my clothes are blue. With snow forecast for the next few days it looks like I will have be wearing it soon.

To continue the hat saga, Borneo saw the Koolhaas by Jared Flood that a friend had knitted for her husband for their 13th anniversary and was quiet jealous. It seems that all the sweaters that I have knitted are not enough and I have neglected my wifely duties by not providing himself with a wooly hat.

To rectify this omission, I have bought Habitat by Jared Flood and plan to surprise him with said knitted pacifier for Christmas, if he does not read this blog before then! He will have to make do with his feece beanies until then.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The Delights of Choice.

For a most of my life I have been a monogamous knitter. I made beautiful garments, one at a time, to clothe my family, to order by design. There was always pressure to complete them.

These are some of the earliest garments I knitted for the Lindele Studio the second studio that I worked for.

Early Kaffe Fasset -  hand-dyed and spun angora rabbit

This is the easiest jersey I designed. It was for a magician who wanted to have less formal wear. He loved it. The stars are gold and the red is glittery too. The photos are old. This was made before the ones above, in the late eighties.

After 20 years of knitting like this I stopped completely. There was no longer pleasure when knitting and no yarn passed over my fingers for 5 years.

When we moved to the UK ten years ago, I tentatively began to knit again. I wanted patterns and yarn that were perfect, that required no tweaking, to have a peaceful, meditative knitting experience with the least fuss.

Initially, I knitted mostly for myself or made secret projects for my family hiding them until they were completed. I could take time and complete them with no pressure. I was still a monogamous knitter.

Slowly, I was seduced as the enjoyment returned and I have become a scarlet knitting woman. I have been lured away from my monogamous ways by hoards of beautiful patterns and gorgeous yarn. I am learning to spin too!

Every day is an adventure in fibre.  My monogamous ways have flown out the window, as each day offers me the delight of a myriad of choices; a sock, lace shawl, cabled cardigan, textured cardigan. I can pick up and knit what I fancy and I am quite unattached to any of them. If I change my mind I can frog them and start again. This is a wonderful benefit for having knitted for others for many years.

Some of the projects on my needles currently are:

Eala Bahn has been progressing very slowly since I had to rip back 16 rows. I have knitted about four since then. Notice the cable on the left had a will of its own and refused to fall into line with the rest, making its own wayward way up through the centre of the design. It does not exist any more!

As the Cookie A Cubist socks are complete,

a new sock project is in the making out of Skeinqueen's Blush - Helter Skelter 80% merino 20%cashmere and it is beautifully soft. The pattern will be of my own making, probably with some cables or a celtic twist on the top. I am still loving the 2 circular needles.

I have been led astray by a lace and texture shawl called Maia by Rosemary Hill, knitted in Jilly Bean's delightful sock, 70% baby alpaca, 20% silk and 10% cashmere. What a fabulous pattern and such a great design.  She is beautiful and so soft and she just wants to be held all the time. It has been such fun to knit and is luring me to be monogynous for a while ....... but I am fighting the urge.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Tribute to Ravelry

One of the blessings of being unable to move a great deal presently is that I have had the time to be still and update my Ravelry pages. It took two days as I have not posted any projects or progress for more than a year.

That I have not kept my pages updated has made me feel quite ashamed as this is one of the most valuable resources that Ravelry offers. One is able to look at the same project seen through the eyes of many different crafters and marvel at the ingenious ways that these amazing people show their individually and skill. It is awesome.

I use Ravelry a great deal. It is wonderful to find out more about a pattern or a yarn that I want to use or buy. The catalogue of free patterns available is amazing. I check out new patterns and and often download purchases into my library. I visit friend's pages to see what they are making. I follow discussion groups of podcasters. There are, I am sure, at least a dozen other ways to benefit from this wonderful site, as I am still learning all the time.

I find a kaleidoscope of inspiration, sometimes overwhelmed by all that is on offer.Ravelry is a fabulous site and a great community of sharing. My life would be all the poorer if it did not exist.

I feel that I have been a poor community member as I have already received so much for the little that I have given. I will endeavour to be a community member so that the richness of sharing what is created can be sustained, continued and enjoyed by all who use this site.

Thank you to all at Ravelry for the amazing work and development that you have done.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Those darn socks.

Modelled by Himself

The Knitmore Girl's Podcast about socks got me enthusiastic about knitting socks again. The socks are knit with two circular needles and Gigi is forever extolling the afterthought heel so I felt that as an avid knitter I would be failing in my duty if I did not give it all a serious try.

I did reseach. Jasmine tweeted and also posted a blog on the afterthought heel as she knitted it. I read this. I found a youtube video that showed the circular needle technique. I was almost ready.

I ordered the needles online from Get Knitted and then looked for the appropriate yarn while I waited for them to arrive. Within 48 hours they popped through the letterbox and on the same day that I visited Sandcastles in Lee-on-Solent and found beautiful Regia Silk Color yarn.

The socks are done. They have been my challenge as Borneo has never ending feet. They were not without other mishaps too.

The anaesthetic from last week addled my brain and I cannot count. I had to knitting the toe decreases several times as my counting was not correct. They are now beautiful. See for yourself and the yarn is soft and silky. I really like it even if the colours are not my choice.

This is what they looked like before.  The blue silk line is the marker for the afterthought heel.

This is where I picked up the stitches when I had completed the tube to knit in the heel.

I really enjoyed this method and have picked up the Cookie A 'Cubist Socks' that I started earlier in the year for myself. They are going to get the same treatment and I shall enjoy the pattern too.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Hello (after a long unintentional sabbatical)

Along with moving house and settling in, the last months have been divided between knitting, sewing and now weaving and spinning too.

I attended several wearing school classes where I learned to weave on a four shaft loom. In my first class I made a piece which was sample pattern squares.

I made this bag with the sample squares. I am very pleased with it and carry my weaving paraphernalia in it.

I have sold the rigid heddle to an excellent home where it is very loved and moved on to a beautiful old four shaft Harris loom at home.

Here it is with the first project that I made on it. It was a surprise so that was another reason that I did not post it. This is a close up of the pattern. It is wool and baby wool so is lovely, soft and thick. Very warm too!

Here we are wearing it together.

The next project on the loom was a birthday scarf for another friend. It is made of wool, cashmere and silk. It is fine and soft and was a dream to work with. This project was the most fun.

In between this I started and frogged so may knitting projects. I can't seem to find anything that I enjoy. When we went to France I started the Featherweight cardigan. It seems to have met all the criteria of enjoyment. I have completed most of it.

I am attempting to weave the front band currently but the warp threads have been a real challenge. First the weaving did not hold and grinned all over the place. That means that they slid close to each other  making holes that look like big gaping grins in the fabric. It is not as pretty as it sounds.

Finally I have settled on this warp which is also proving to be a challenge but is at least holding. I have yet to see if it will be a success. I would really like to combine knitting and weaving for this project.

I am also knitting some fingerless gloves as the weather dictates I will need them if I continue to weave at the studio during the winter. I am not very enthusiastic about them yet but I am sure that as the temperature drops, this enthusiasm will change. They are knitted in Patons Fairytale 4ply.

On a different note,  I have Meghan from the 'Stitch it' podcast and Cecile at the knitting group, to thank for enabling me in other fybery pursuits. As the 'Tour de Fleece' started and I could not find anything that I want to knit along with the hand cyclists so I decided to try spinning and bought my first spindle and natural brown BFL fleece. 

The spinning was perfect to play with in-between unpacking boxes and great fun too.

This has led to the purchase of several more spindles and I now own five, three of which are just beautifully balanced. I have not used my little turkish spindle yet. 

This is the leaf that Borneo carved for me and it has become the spinning bowl. 

I am spinning cashmere - the white, falkland tops- blue and green and BFl with silk -  pinks and oranges. Of all the crafts that I am practicing at the moment, this is the one that has stolen my heart.

Here is my first ever ball of 'spun and navaho plied at the same time' on the spindle. I love youtube. There is a fabulous video of this technique. I have now spun 300 yards of this and am on the final bits.

I am knitting a small shawl with it, making it up as I go along. I want the pattern to show off the yarn which I feel this does quite nicely. It will look great when it has been blocked. I am still deciding if I want to make a lacy edge.

I have been looking at spinning wheels...

I also finished my Abigail Bury tapestry too. It is now framed had has pride of place on the wall in the sitting room. I loved every minute of the hours that were put into this piece. 

I have spent a considerable time searching the web for another that I like and have failed to find anything. It appears that I am very difficult to please at the moment and I really want to love what I am doing. 

I have been feeling a little homesick lately so decided I would design my own tapestry with a South African flavour related to the Xhosa people which is the area that I grew up in, the Eastern Cape. 

This is the draft.

It is not very big but feels the right size for a first design attempt. I started this and am having great fun. We will have to wait to see how it turns out.

I have been busy over the last couple of months and have had a great deal of fun in between some very difficult times. It is what makes life manageable and I am very grateful that I am blessed with the gifts that offer me this joy. 

Love what you do.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Quick update.

A very quick update. I have started several new projects to knit in between packing boxes of which about 15 have been packed now.

The first project is Travelling Woman's shawl which I forgot to photograph so will show that next time Both the patten and the yarn are lovely. The pattern is easy enough not to addle my brain and still enjoy knitting the lace even with everything else that is going on.

I have also started the new Cookie A sock pattern - Cubist Socks which is available as a free download on Knitting Daily. I am making them in Regia Hand-dyed Effect. It is great fun to knit and also and easy pattern to remember. I was told of the pattern at a store in London, "All The Fun at the Fair" which is in Kingly Court behind Liberty's. It is worth a visit if you are in the area.

I have not knitted socks for a while so am really enjoying these. I have knitted the first pattern have nearly completed the second. I have not got to the heel here. It is just stretched over my foot as a fitting.

Lastly, I fell in love with Louisa Harding yarn, Willow Tweed, which found its way home with me from London. I am knitting my own version of the "Smithy" cardi in her pattern book. It will have to be adjusted for my body shape as the patterns fall in unfortunate places. I did not like the eyelets at the bottom of the piece so have replaced them with the heart pattern which would have been straight across the middle of my breasts if I knitted the pattern to instruction.

I am on the stretch of stocking stitch at the moment which is also perfect for now. The colours will add interest later.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

A week of completion.

This week had been a week of completion. All projects are now waiting to be gifted to the various people they were intended for and I am thinking about what I would like to do next and don't have any idea!

The baby jacket is very sweet with the teddy button but I am very pleased that it is finished. I will not be knitting this pattern again.

Ishbel is blocked and beautiful. The yarn bloomed beautifully soft when it dried. I am extremely pleased with it.

Lala's simple shawl will be perfect for Nana and I will post it later today. She will love it. It will give her great warmth over her shoulders in the colder weather.

I am pondering my next project. I want something simple that I can pick up and leave easily as I will be busy with the move over the next couple of weeks. There may be another shawl in my future or perhaps a cowl. I was given beautiful yarn for each and I have been itching to use it.

Monday, 17 May 2010


I have not been able to post lately as life has got busy. We are moving house in six weeks. I am putting squares together that our knitting group made. I have been ill for over a week now.

Amongst all this, there are some bits being created and or finished.

Ishbel is beautiful and I enjoyed knitting every bit of her.

She is blocking and then will be wrapped up for the special one that she was made for.

I do love the pattern and the stitch detail.

The baby jacket is still to be finished and I will try to complete it before the end of the week.

On my needles at the moment is Lala's Simple Shawl which is a free download on Ravelry. I am making it for my mother-in-law as it is her birthday next month. As it is winter in South Africa, it will arrive at the perfect time.

It is knitted in Sidar Escape and she will love the different colours. It will also be easy for her to wash which is important when I make things for her.

Here is the stitch detail. It really is very simple, with rows of garter stitch then stocking stitch with a row of eyelets in the middle. It is all my brain can cope with with at the moment with so many other things going on.

I hope to finish it by Sunday so that it can be mailed off to her in plenty of time.

I am now off to complete the last rows of crochet on the squares blanket and watch Lewis.  My chest still hurts and I will need to be quiet for a little while yet as I do not want to miss my weaving class over the weekend.

The blessing is that I am able to compete some of 'the unfinished' that lurks in my basket when my brain co-operates.