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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 

Finished Handmade Knitting

Handmade for me

14/10/2016

Back in the summer a lovely friend asked me if I ever actually made anything for myself.  As it turned out the last time that I did made anything specifically for me, if you don’t count quilts because they get scooped up by everyone, was when I was expecting Elma and I made myself a maternity jumper. It was, well still is, gorgeous and one of my favourite knits, and one of these days I might just have to reknit the front and turn it back into an ordinary jumper for me; but not just yet.  Perhaps because it was such a success I haven’t felt the need to make anything more for my collection of hand knits, or perhaps I’ve just been busy.  With three ever growing little ones and a husband who likes hand knit socks, to say nothing of friends and family, my needles have been anything but empty.

It’s true too that I’m not lacking any woolies; I have a vast collection of socks, from the pre-children era when I could turn out a pair in a week with a bit of effort, cardigans that I love, and enough hats and scarves and mittens to keep a snowman warm if only I could find them all. 20161014-dsc_0233

But a surfeit of socks is no reason not to add to the collection, and when I was routing out some yarn to make John’s final pair of Christmas socks (last Christmas, finished this June), I found a very special skein of yarn, and set it aside for me.  All socks finished and all babies clothed, at least for now, and with a hankering to knit something soft and soothing, I went back for that sock yarn.

The yarn is Socks that Rock Mediumweight, which is enough to make it special by itself, but this skein was a present from the lovely Marisol that she brought home from the very first Sock Summit.  And yes that does mean that this yarn has been in my stash since before Kitty was born.   20161014-dsc_0248

The colourway is Seal Rock, long since discontinued, but a beautiful mix of water, seaweed and rock and just a touch of sunlight.

For my first attempt I started with 48 stitches on 3mm needles but if you saw the soon-to-be-frogged sock on Instagram you’ll know why it had to go; the colours were swirling very very slowly, clumping all the purple together to make it look like I had a massive bruise down the front of my leg.  As at the time I started them I did actually have a massive bruise down the front of my leg (thank you car crash), it had to go.  I started again on 52 sts which makes beautiful thin stripes and big fluffy socks.

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They’re not the socks you’d wear for everyday under shoes; these are the socks you cosy up in of an evening or potter round the house in on a Saturday morning when the kitchen tiles feel icy to just got out of bed toes.  In short, they are exactly the socks you need for October.

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

Finished Handmade Handmade for Baby Knitting

Horsey, horsey {handmade for the baby girls}

23/09/2016

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Once upon a time, there were two little girls.  Two brand new ever so little little girls in fact.  And as we all know, new little people need knitwear, even if they do happen to be born right in the middle of the summer.

There was only ever going to be one theme for these knits. The girls’ mummy is completely head over heels in love with horses, to the point of choosing exactly which Shetland pony she’d have in the garden for her children if only they could get it to London – and have enough garden.  So I looked and looked and looked around Ravelry for every sort of baby jumper or cardigan ever thought up that was horsey themed until I found Roo Designs Pony Pullover and knew it was the one.

Or rather, the two.

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The pattern is written as for aran weight yarn with Takhi Cotton Classic as suggested yarn, but knit on 4mm needles.  I think it’s one of those occasions where only the specified yarn will actually give you the right tension, it falls right between anything I can usually manage for either DK or Aran, but as the smallest size was an age one, and I really wanted a six month sort of size, I went for DK and 4mm needles, knowing that it would turn out smaller than expected.  I knit the back and front and sleeves an inch shorter than the pattern and it all looks perfectly proportionate.

The yarn is Rico Classic Merino, chosen mostly for the gorgeous deep green. Kitty came with me on a wool shopping expedition and she and I went back and forth picking out the colours for the stripes.  I wanted matching but not matching, something that says “little girl”, without saying “never in the world have you seen as much pink as I am wearing right this moment!”, something that could hold its own against the green, and not overwhelm the blue for the horse.

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The first combination is strawberries and the yellow of the top of proper clotted cream, pure summer in knitwear, and the second is moving into autumn, blackberries and elderberries, and for some reason it reminds me of Black Forest Gateau, but that may just be association with the place where much of it was knitted.

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The front and back are knit flat and then seamed, and in the original pattern the sleeves and neckband are too but I like baby knits to be as seam free as possible so I sewed up the shoulders and side seams first and knit the rest in the round.  It’s a little bit fiddly managing jogless stripes with the first few sets of decreases but after that it’s easy.

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I am really pleased with the way they turned out, pleased and not a little relieved because it’s been a while since I did any intarsia, and when I was half way up a horse, with an entire flock of mini balls of yarn tumbling and tangling with every stitch, I began to have serious doubts about whether this had been a good idea.  It’s amazing what a difference it makes to weave in the ends and block it; suddenly what was looking a bit lumpy and bumpy and very much not my best work, becomes smooth and even. Even then, I cheated on the eye, and put it in with duplicate stitch later!

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I finished the first in July but the second got pushed back and so it wasn’t until September that I could finally put them in the post and send them off.  It doesn’t matter in terms of their small owners being too big for them, there’s more than enough to grow, but the thing is, there’s an old wives’ tale that babies wait for their knitwear, that the baby will come when the knitting is ready; and certainly my nephew was born only hours after I finished his cardigan.  I’ve always made huge efforts to make sure the knitting for my babies will be ready for them and I try to do my best to be ready for the other babies I knit for.

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That the twins arrived before I was finished was no surprise, especially after I had to down needles for so long in July and August.  But I do wonder whether I ought to be extending an apology to their poor mother after the girls hung on for a really, really, really long time, eventually arriving well past 40 weeks.  If it was the knitting that did it, I’m really sorry – hopefully the jumpers make up for it.

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