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Embroidery Family Finished Handmade Handmade for Elma Handmade for Kitty Knitting

A pair of Urchins {handmade for Kitty and Elma}

20/01/2017

Every now and then I knit something entirely on a whim.

For the most part, my knitting planning runs far far ahead of my fingers’ ability to keep up, as does my sewing and quilting planning for that matter.  Right now I have three projects on the needles, including my big crochet blanket, and the next seven projects lined up ready and waiting.  Even if I haven’t bought all the yarn I need for all of them yet, I know what they’ll be and in what order.  But of course  no one likes being told what to do, even when you’re the one telling yourself, and a little rearranging of the plan is in order.

Space for the Butterflies - Urchin by Ysolda Teague in Rowan Big Wool

So it was with these Urchins.  The initial whim was about wanting to make sure I’d put as much time into Kitty’s handmade Christmas as I had in knitting Elma a cardigan.  When what look to be a relatively simple skort still took me all day to put together, I realised that was silly, and shelved the three rows of hat in favour of getting as much of John’s Christmas socks done before the big day.

But after Christmas, and searching around for a nice portable project to take up to my inlaws as car and chatting knitting, I picked it back up again.  Kitty’s hat whizzed off the needles and was finished while we were there, and while Elma had to wait for me to get home to cast on, smaller hats take less time.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings, a photo project for 2017

Both hats are loved, both hats are worn, and both hats are left at school and so I need to nip back to my Siblings photos for this month for the only evidence of the girls wearing their hats at the same time.

Each hat is knit from one ball of Rowan Big Wool, in I think the colour Champion, at least that looks the nearest on the shade card.  This is moderately deep stash yarn, easily from before the children, saved waiting for a perfect project, and it works brilliantly for Urchin.

Space for the Butterflies - Urchin by Ysolda Teague in Rowan Big Wool

It’s not a hard pattern to knit; you make petal shapes knitting back and forth and graft the ends to make a hat, but like every other Ysolda pattern I’ve made, it’s very clever, and what at the first petal looks incredibly strange, turns into a beautiful beret shaped hat before you know it.

And with that little detour out of the way, I’m back to my plans as before. Well almost.  Because if I’m being honest here, the person who has worn both of these hats the most is a certain tiny wee boy named Pip.  He tried on Kitty’s and it was too big, he tried on Elma’s but it was too beloved by Elma, and then he looked up at me, in firm belief in the power of his Mama’s needles, and said the immortal words: “where mine hat Mama?!”

I’m going to have to do some stash diving for something suitable I suspect – any pattern recommendations?

Also coming under the finish line this week is the first of my Christmas tree decorations for 2017.  Yes really.  Every Christmas I end up collecting a handful of cross stitch and papercraft magazines with gorgeous little cover kits and I swear that I’m going to make them over Christmas and then get far too caught up in the actual getting ready for Christmas and usually some high speed finishing of the Christmas presents to sit down to do a little truly indulgent making.

Space for the Butterflies - Cross Stitcher Cover Kit

Starting in the autumn never works because of a proliferation of birthdays and even Christmas in July passed me by so I’m sewing for Christmas in January.  This is the first that I’ve finished, the cover kit from November’s Cross Stitcher, and even if my sewing up isn’t quite perfect, I love how it turned out.  Now all I have to do is not loose it before next December!

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday and Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On

Handmade Knitting

January Sonne {handmade}

13/01/2017

If you  are feeling in any way headachy or a little bleary eyed, this is not the post for you.

A couple of years ago I made John his brightest yet pair of socks in bright yellow, green and red, and I thought they were so loud that the camera would never cope, and so vibrant that passersby would cast shadows from his feet.  They were, and are, gorgeous socks, and they remain one of the favourites in the drawer.  But I think that perhaps I underestimated my darling husband’s capacity for brightness.  It may be that they’ve faded a little through weekly washing, or it may just be that when you bring out the sun, the stars fade away.

Space for the Butterflies - Handknit socks from Wollmeise "Sonne"

Late in August in south east Germany, as I held Pip up to see all the pretty colours in the wool shop, and tried to persuade the girls that they really didn’t need to eat another packet of sweeties, John went off to explore the yarn paradise that is the Wollmeise shop.  There was already a not insubstantial pile in front of me; rose pink for a cardigan for Kitty, wonderful stripes and swirls of colour for me, and it seemed only fair that John should get to pick his own seeing as he’s as much of a colour maven as his wife.

His picks surprised me; in the land of multicolours and potential stripes, he picked out three that all played with just the one colour group.  They are all absolutely beautiful in a subtle way; well as subtle as you can get with a yarn named after a flaming ball of gas that lights up a galaxy.

Space for the Butterflies - Handknit socks from Wollmeise "Sonne"

Sonne, is deep orange and brilliant yellow and everything in between, and I knew it would be the first thing on the knitting list as soon as I saw his three skeins laid out.  It’s so easy to feel that with a straightforward colour way I ought to be doing complicated socks to make the best use of the yarn, but this colour is just so retina-shattering that you’d never see a pattern against it.  All this yarn ever asks for it to be allowed to shine.

The ball of yarn started living in my handbag at the end of November.  I was so determined that I would make a pair of socks completely without him being aware and John wouldn’t know until they magically appeared on Christmas morning.  They were so perfect for grey winter’s days; brilliant orange on cadbury purple sock needles.  I knit on the train when I wasn’t working, and at home when he was playing hockey and still they refused to grow.  Stitch by stitch in every little sneak of time I could find, I tried to make them longer and more sock like.  But with every passing day it became more apparent that they were going to be most of a first sock and a ball of yarn on the day itself.  I even gave up on the stealth and pulled them out to let my fingers do the work while we watched a film together on Christmas Eve.

Space for the Butterflies - Handknit socks from Wollmeise "Sonne"

But Christmas is not just one day, and in the cheese-eating, craft-project-making, chocolate banquet of the lull between Christmas and New Year, I finished that first sock, and in the New Year celebrations I finished the second.  That it’s taken me this long to get them back together again for a photo, I secretly rather love; and I know he’s not just wearing them because so many of the others in his drawer have holes.

And maybe one day they might fade a little bit and be more sunset than noon, but I think it’s going to be a long long time before I come across anything quite this bright again.  In fact, that’s a challenge – has anyone every come across any sock yarn brighter than this?

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday and Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On

 

Elma Family Handmade Handmade for Elma Knitting

Camilla {handmade for Elma}

29/12/2016

As soon as I finished making the little purple Camilla Bebe for the baby who turned out to be Cora I knew I wanted to make a Camilla Kid for Elma.  My littlest girl hits the 75th centile but next to her brother and sister she has always looked dinky, and I suspect that when they’re all fully grown she will be the only one in the family not topping 6’0″.  She’s the snuggliest of ever moving little girls and I wanted to wrap her up for winter in a nice chunky jumper to keep her warm and cosy and ever so cuddly.  And it had to be sea green.

The joy of making anything yourself is that the possibilities are endless; you should be able to make anything in any colour and any size; the reality is that sometimes you dream something up that just doesn’t quite exist.  With me it’s usually yarn colours; I get a vision in my head of the very perfect colour and then struggle to find a yarn company that actually makes it. But this wasn’t one of those times.  I walked into Lil Weasel at the end of August (on the Parisian stop of the trip home from Germany) certain that I was only going to buy just the one ball of yarn I needed to finish Pip’s birthday jumper, and there, sat right on the shelf at my eye level, was the most perfect sea green yarn in soft merino aran.  It was fate. I bought five balls and pretended that I’d never intended to do anything else.

This most unicorn of yarns is by DMC (who I associate more with embroidery thread than wool), in their Woolly 5 range. It’s pure merino, very soft and incredibly bouncy with a lot of loft and if I could get it any nearer than Paris it would definitely make the repeat list.

Space for the Butterflies - Camilla Kid in DMC Woolly 5

And so through the last days of November it became Elma’s birthday jumper.  Knit on 6mm needles (a size down from the pattern) and in an age 6 to compensate for the slightly smaller needles it was a speedy little knit.  Carrie Bostik Hoge writes some properly gorgeous patterns (including the Immie Tee which was Kitty’s Christmas jumper two years ago but is still in use with the little two), and it’s an easy pattern despite looking impressively complicated when finished.  I’ve knit it long; an extra repeat in the body and enough length on the sleeves to make them full length not only on her birthday but two weeks later post celebratory growth spurt.  She’s actually having to turn them up at the moment (which is why her hands appear to have vanished) as they grew a little with the blocking, but in a small child with a propensity to grow whenever you’re not looking that’s never going to be a disadvantage.

Ends tucked in, washed, blocked and wrapped, it sat on the birthday table waiting for her and almost as soon as she could shake it free of the paper she had it all lined up to wear to nursery that day. Praise indeed.

Space for the Butterflies - Camilla Kid in DMC Woolly 5

It’s taken me until now to get some photos of her wearing it, usually because it’s in the car, or tucked down the side of her bed, or on her, and she is posed very carefully so that you can’t see that she got a bit of supper on one of the sleeves, not that I think she’d let me wash it even if I wanted to.

I loved making it, and I’m not sure even now that I’ve got the pattern completely out of my system so I may have to see if I can find any more tiny new arrivals to the world who need a sweet little jumper.

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday, Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On and Make Do and Push for Funky Kid Friday

Finished Handmade Handmade for Baby Knitting

The sky at the end of the sunset {handmade for a baby cousin}

02/12/2016

Not only has Kitty grown out of the size range of most of my favourite children’s clothes shops, only squeezing into Frugi by the skin of her teeth, but Pip, my tiny little giant two year old, is now out of the baby ranges too.  He’s wearing an aged 4, and we’re most definitely and sturdily into the big boy clothes.  We shall allow a moments pause to think of all the cute and tiny baby clothes that must be ignored by my radar, and then brighten up to the thought that at least he likes mama-made shorts, roll on the summer.

With their sizes going up in leaps and bounds so has the length of time it takes me to knit them a jumper.  My, as always, overly ambitious plans for Christmas will almost certainly end up with my presenting Kitty with three skeins of yarn and a promise; I’ve finished Elma’s birthday jumper, am still on the yoke for her Christmas cardie and then I’ve just got to knit up Pip’s an we’re all done. In 23 days.  Totally doable, yes?

Space for the Butterflies - Olinda baby cardigan in Fyberspates Vivacious DK, Peacock

In the meantime, and I’m sure with no intention but to supply me with tiny adorable people to knit for, my friends and family have continued the tiny baby boom.

The latest addition to the family, utterly adorable in every single way, arrived at the beginning of November, after much patience was exercised by her mama and much facebook stalking by the rest of us.

Space for the Butterflies - Olinda baby cardigan in Fyberspates Vivacious DK, Peacock

And of course she needed a knitted hug just as her big brother did before her, and I got to spend a happy hour rifleing through the stash looking for the perfect yarn, and then finding a pattern to match.

The yarn is a smooshy plump Fyperspates Vivacious DK in Peacock, a very feminine blue with hints of purple; the sky at the very end of the sunset. The pattern is Olinda, a little swing  cardigan with a nice soft garter stitch yoke near the face to rest your cheeks on and then cables running away down the cardigan.

Space for the Butterflies - Olinda baby cardigan in Fyberspates Vivacious DK, Peacock

Well sort of cables.  They give the impression of cables, but there’s nothing more twisty in any of them than a k2tog so there are no lumpy crossed stitches to play princess and the pea if its tiny wearer wanted to have a little lie down.  The cables also conceal the increases in the gaps between them that lend it the swingy shape; they just expand gently down the cardigan in a way that as a knitter makes you feel very clever.

I don’t think I changed anything in the pattern, or if I did it wasn’t so big as to merit my actually making a note of it so we’ll go with no changes. The pattern comments on Ravelry give the impression that it’s a fiendishly difficult pattern but while I wouldn’t recommend it as the first thing you try to knit ever, if you can read your knitting you’ll have no problems and this little cardie whizzed off the needles.

Space for the Butterflies - Olinda baby cardigan in Fyberspates Vivacious DK, Peacock

For the finishing touchI went diving into my button jar to see what would work best.  It turned out to be just nice simple little magenta buttons that hold their own but let the cables and the colour shine out.

And once it had had a nice little wash and block to ease those cables out to their prettiest arrangement, off it went in the post to give the new little lady a giant welcome to the family and a warm and wooly hug by proxy.

Space for the Butterflies - Olinda baby cardigan in Fyberspates Vivacious DK, Peacock

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday, Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On and Make Do and Push for Funky Kid Friday

 

Family Finished Handmade Knitting

Mediterranean a la Regia {handmade}

04/11/2016

It wasn’t until after we got back home that I noticed the name on the ball band.  John’s Innsbruck treat came in the form of a new ball of sock yarn, he not being the worlds biggest wearer of brightly pattern leggings, and as I worked my way down my leggings construction line over the last few weeks it seemed in the interests of family fairness to cast on for his socks too.

An it’s then that we noticed the name of the colourway; Mediterran.  I’d picked the ball up in the shop simply on the colour and as a good number of sock yarns just have numbers, I never thought to look for a name.  But Mediterran? Could it mean something other than Mediterranean? No, Google translate assures me that my first guess was accurate; this is a colourway named after the sea.

Space for the Butterflies - hand knit socks, Regia Mediterranean

Which leads me to wonder whether the dyer at Regia had ever actually seen the Med.  I mean I know it’s two countries away from Germany and it would involve a bit of effort to get there, but pictures do exist, and from what I can recall of trips to Venice, Greece and Southern Spain, on no occasion was highlighter green the predominant colour.

As a sock it is a fabulous colour; John goes for handknit socks in the brightest shades possible, and these match his neon orange and yellow trainers a treat.

Space for the Butterflies - hand knit socks, Regia Mediterranean

Perhaps this is the Med suffering from a bloom of blue green algae, like the sort they had to clear out of the harbours in Qingdao for the Olympic saiing in 2008, or Med-a-la-Rio-diving-pool. What would you call it?

Space for the Butterflies - hand knit socks, Regia Mediterranean

In terms of the socks themselves, a lovely Regia self striping means 72 stitches over 2.5mm needles for a standard John sized sock, and my inner perfectionist had a wonderful time getting the self striping to line up exactly.  It’s a long repeat, and as is always the way, I finished the first sock about 12 inches past the ideal point to start the second sock and had to wind on a big chunk before I could get to the start again.  It meant that there wasn’t enough left on the ball to finish the second sock so I had to dip back into the middle to find the colours I needed.  There may be three separate sections to that second foot but you’d never know if you weren’t looking for it.

Regia can feel a bit of a coarser yarn to work with when you’re knitting, certainly compared to the smooth plumptious yarns like Socks that Rock or Wollmeisse but it wears like iron.  I’ve lost a few socks over the years but the very first pair I knit from a Regia yarn are still going strong, and the yarn softens up enormously on washing.

Space for the Butterflies - hand knit socks, Regia Mediterranean

These pictures were taken first thing in the morning before I left for work; we’re into that stage of the winter where it’s dark when I leave in the morning and dark long before I get home, and I’d had all these wonderful plans to take pictures on Wednesday lunchtime when I work from home.  I grabbed my camera, decided where in the garden had the right light, and went looking for the socks.  No joy. they weren’t where I’d left them, they hadn’t fallen off the back of the dressing table, and the children denied all knowledge of having run off with them to dress a teddy bear.  Only when I happened to mention to John that I was looking for them did I find out why, when I pulled up one trouser leg to reveal neon coloured toes.

Well, you can’t complain about that!

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday and Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On