September 30, 2011

Slice of Toast

 Make this adorable toast plushie keychain by following these instructions at Deviant Art.

I didn't have brown felt, so I colored white felt with a Copic marker. The effect came out great, but the only problem was the marker gave the felt a coating that was hard to push the needle through. But I managed. I also decided to give my toast a wee smile.

So cute! I can see doing lots of other shapes this way.

July 17, 2011

Make Your Own Scarf

One thing I find difficult is finding clothing in my colors. I am an autumn, so I don't wear black very well at all. Brown is my black. I also don't wear the colors that I would normally find in every store in Christchurch at the moment: white, purple, red and black (bleck!). My colors are bright greens, rust, oranges and peacock blue among other colors. It's is surprisingly difficult to find clothes in these colors, especially in winter.

One of the things I've been on the lookout for is a scarf with some of those vivid colors in it, that I can use with some of my neutral pieces; to add color and tie everything together. Again, really hard finding anything in my palette. I keep looking and find nothing I like.

I was at the fabric store the other day and found this lovely, silky fabric in orange, dark brown, cream, green and dashes of other colors I love. I bought a 1/2 meter for $20, trimmed it down to a scarf-sized rectangle and spent the evening doing a hand-sewn rolled hem on it.

Today, I have a beautiful scarf that cost me $20 and took one evening to make. It looks incredible against my skin and with most things in my wardrobe.

Tip on getting the scarf perfectly square and on the grain:
Cut a notch in the edge and rip the will rip right on the grain. The raw edges will be sewn under with the rolled hem.

I used this tutorial on YouTube to learn the rolled hem. I didn't have to use starch...I just folded the edge down as I went, no problem.

Hand-sewn rolled hem. Probably needs a quick hit with an iron

July 03, 2011

Knitting for Christchurch Kids

I've recently joined a great group of knitters close to my house who are knitting warm things for kids in Christchurch. Everyone has been traumatized by our recent spat of earthquakes, but none more than the kids. There are many people who have struggled to keep warm during this very chilly wintertime. Many houses have big cracks in the walls or broken windows that let the cold creep in. And there have been power outages from time to time as well.

A woman in nearby New Brighton, Jenny Lineham, started this knitting group and it has grown (see this article). I saw her story featured on the 6 o'clock news, did some Google'ing and was able to contact her. I've been going to the knitting group every week for a month or so now and making some new friends.

We started by knitting warm beanies for the kids. The ladies would collect the beanies, sort them by size, then take them to the schools, where the kids would pick out their very own beanie. The kids love it! There are beanies coming in from all over New Zealand. Donated yarn is also pouring in.

We have completed the beanie project after giving beanies to almost all the kids in Christchurch! Now we are knitting cozy slippers, for kids and some older folks too.

Here's a couple I knit up (they go fast!) and I thought it appropriate to place them by the crack in our driveway that is a result of the quakes.

Cozy Feet for Antz

My husband got this cozy pair of 'dorm socks' for his birthday. I invented these socks when I was in Antarctica and wanted a warm pair of socks to walk around the dorm without having to put shoes on. I used Lion's Brand Chunky yarn, then sewed a piece of fleece on the bottom in the shape of my foot. I loved them and wear them so much, I figured Antz needed a pair too. They are wonderful for wearing over another pair of regular socks...protects the socks and keeps the feet nice and toasty.

More Color Inspiration

A blog dedicated to color, the Color Collective

June 26, 2011

Color Knitting Chart Maker

Hey this is pretty neat... it's a little mini-application from Tricksy Knitter that you can use to create a color knitting chart. You can choose any color. Click here.

I found you can 'paint' more than one square by clicking once on a square and moving your mouse around. Click again to stop.

June 17, 2011

Orchid Baby Set

Just love this cardigan! It's the 'Children's Neckdown Bolero' (pattern #275) from 'Knitting Pure & Simple.' Get the pattern here. I just think it's adorable...just love the curve in the front. There is another button on the inside on the opposite side that secures the other side of the cardigan.

The pattern was pretty straightforward, with the only slightly confusing bit being there was an incredible amount of stitches to be picked up for the ribbed band in front. That is because of the have to start with a lot of stitches on the pick-up in order for the curve to happen without bunching. The pattern author offers a tutorial on her website to handle this part of the pattern and it was very helpful. And I learned something!

I used one of my favorite yarns, Malabrigo Worsted in 'Orchid.' It's super soft and cuddly, with the only drawbacks being that Mom will have to hand wash it and apparently it has a tendency to pill easier than most yarns (read the review here). But I reckon its positives outweigh the negatives. I really should investigate some superwash yarns for projects like these, but it's hard to beat Malabrigo's softness and fun while knitting. And the colors! Don't get me started. Anyway, I had two balls of it and had some left over so I designed a little hat to match. So cute. Can't wait to give it away!

Update: here's a photo of lovely Willa wearing her new set!

June 10, 2011


Recently, I went on a bit of a bender. A yarn bender. A Yender? It happens to knitters occasionally. For me, it started with a sale at Webs on Cascade 220 (for $4.95 a skein). A good price for a yarn that I love and use a lot. Too good to pass up. And I needed more charcoal gray...and white for an upcoming project. Then of course, it's always a good idea to stock up, especially at such a great price and then I will be paying for shipping anyway, so may as well take advantage of that.

But then I noticed that not all the colors I wanted were available from the Webs sale. So then, naturally, I had to pop over to my other favorite yarn store, Angelikas. I know I can count on Angelikas to have all colors in stock. They've never been out of stock on anything I've wanted and the prices are pretty reasonable. And they ship FAST. So I ordered a few from there. A little of this and a little of that, just to round out the stash a little.

So this is the result. This is all the new yarn, to be added to my burgeoning stash of Cascade 220. I had to buy two new bins for the new yarn, plus some that's been collecting over time, and so my stash has grown from two full plastic bins to four full plastic bins. I wonder if I stopped buying any new yarn right now, how long it would take me to knit all of it? Maybe not a lifetime, but it would sure be a while.

It's a nice balanced selection of colors and don't they look pretty on the window sill, bathed in sunlight?

The neighbor's dog thinks so too.

That was a lot of winding. Many hours in front of the TV, patiently winding skeins. Someday I'll have a swift and winder combo.

June 01, 2011

Purple Mama

This is some sign artwork I did for my Mom who is starting a new branch of her jewelery designs called 'Purple Mama.' I love the name -- it's so perfect for her! The name was given to her by my friend's 2-year old son, Dominic, who remembers when my Mom visited New Zealand. She was wearing a purple outfit on that day and ever since, Dominic has called her 'Purple Mama.'

My Mom wanted a creative and playful design that is light-heartedly sophisticated, not serious nor child-like. She wanted a straightforward, puffy font that can be seen from a distance. She wanted 'bubbles' and 'clouds.' I think she'll like this, knowing her. It looks a bit like space too.

I started with just swashing a piece of paper with purple watercolor and threw in some areas of red and blue. Then in Photoshop, I layered in a photo of some bubbles (can you see them in there faintly?). Then I added another layer of some swirly bits -- in the upper left and lower right corners. Then cut out circles from some other watercolor I did (they look like purple 'planets'). Then I put yellow glows behind them and added other small yellow fuzzy dots and some other smaller, sharper white dots. I just love layering in Photoshop. You can really control how much of each image shows through when layered on top of each other. I particularly love the combination of traditional art, like watercolor, combined with Photoshop...most excellent!

I've also been knitting away on this...
A wee cutie of a bolero jacket for a certain lucky little lady who doesn't know she's getting this yet. I used one of my favorite yarns, Malabrigo, in Orchid. It is the softest, most wonderful kettle-dyed yarn and I love the subtle color shifts from pink to lavender. I should have enough left over for a little hat to match. It will be finished soon and I'll post the final photos.

And I'm not sure if I posted this hat. I made it a while ago and the photo looks like it's in black and white, but it's not, it's just the color of the yarn I used; very neutral earth tones. All done in Cascade 220. My own design.
 And these two I whipped out recently. The floral pattern is not my own, but I love it. Next time I think more contrast in the yarns would be better, but this is subtle and pretty. And then I did a stripey hat just using up all the bits of Noro I had laying around. I just hate having extra bits of yarn not being used. So that was a very satisfying hat to make.

So yeah, been a busy little knitter...

May 23, 2011

It's a Sign

I've just returned from a family trip from the North Island of New Zealand for my husband's father's 90th birthday and his sister's 50th (it's a BIG family!). When this family decides to have a get-together, there are usually no less than 50 people in attendance! Coming from a small family, this is great fun for me.

On our way to Claire's 50th, we passed this sign located in a small town called Eltham. Just HAD to stop and snap a photo!

I completed two hats during the trip (photos coming soon!) and started a gift for a friends baby (also coming soon).

Flying back to Christchurch, here is a view of the Southern Alps of New Zealand, with a fresh dusting of snow. Winter is coming! I would swear this photo could pass for Antarctica.


Flying over the Nelson Lakes area of New Zealand, I looked down and spotted this lake, which looks disarmingly like the continent of Antarctica. I took this image from Google Earth.

I guess I'm thinking about Antarctica. Which is perfectly normal for someone who has spent most of the last 14 years there.

May 10, 2011

Knot my usual thing

I usually knit, but for this project, I used knots. The yarn I showed you from a couple of days ago seemed to lose its beauty when knitted as all the gorgeous stranded colors got jumbled up in the knitted stitches.

So I came up with this idea (well I'm sure I'm not the first person think this up) to create a knotted scarf which allows the yarn to be displayed in it's best light.

I cut 24 lengths of the yarn that were twice as long as I wanted the scarf to be. I divided the yarn into eight 3-strand sections. Then I rigged up something on the wall to make it easy to work on and it took me a couple of days to finish.

Here's a video that describes my process.

I'm thinking of a hat to match this scarf. Knit the main body of the hat in a neutral color and use this yarn as an accent around the brim and perhaps a tassle on the top. Would look amazing I think.

May 08, 2011

Bye-Bye Baba Black Sheep Yarns

Update: I just went to the Baba Black Sheep Yarns page on Etsy and there's a note saying they have closed indefinitely. I'm kind of sad about that, but sure glad I got some of their yarn!

Birthday Blog

It's my birthday and I plan on working with yarn today. Not necessarily knitting per se, since I am working on a new project that answers the intriguing question of 'what do I do with this yarn?'

It's a GORGEOUS 2-ply, handmade, hand-dyed yarn from 'Baba Black Sheep Yarns'  made from 75% Blue Faced Leicester Wool and 25% silk. I bought it online from Etsy (I think). It's so soft has a wonderful sheen thanks to the silk.

Oh it looks so gorgeous sitting there in a festive little ball don't you think? But I guess the problem is, it's not much use to anyone in it's current form. I tried knitting it with large needles and I thought it just lost so much of it's personality when it was knitted! I mean all the colors were there but it just didn't look as pretty to me. So I started thinking of a way to use this yarn that would preserve it's rich, stranded beauty. I think I finally came up with something, but will wait to reveal in another post (but you won't have to wait too long, promise).

The sun is out and my husband is scuttling about the kitchen making my birthday cake...a lemon and pistachio crunch 3-layer cake. I love watching this cooking drama unfold. Our own little version of Master Chef.

In other news, I finally finished the Ariosa Wrap Cardi from ages ago...last July. I was so happy to discover that before I had shelved the project, I had actually completed the second sleeve. Whew! I had to go 'offroad' on the pattern for the sleeves as they were too small when I followed the pattern exactly.

Here it is, happily blocking in the sunlight...

Ok, so there are some things that bug me about it, but hopefully after blocking, and maybe a couple of strategically placed buttons, it may be something I want to wear. One of the issues is the 4x4 ribbed band going all the way around. It pulls up on the bottom edge and so I've pinned it to try and block it into submission. Also the increases around the collar create a line that is quite visible to me, but hopefully the blocking has worked a little of that out. But yikes, I can still see it in the I guess it's something I'll have to live with.

It may need a belt too...I'll have to see about that. Something in a dense stitch, like linen stitch maybe.

I LOVE the color though...and the idea of a short-sleeved cardi. I'll work with it some more and see what I can do.

March 04, 2011

Praise for the Granny Square Hat

I received this note regarding the granny square hat I sent out last week:

"It arrived before we left, and it was PERFECT!  She loved the fit, the colors and especially the tassel, so I'm glad you went ahead with that.  Your detail and expert craftsmanship showed in every stitch, and we were all totally impressed."

I'm glowing.

March 03, 2011

Voted Best Hat!

 I just found out that the penguin hat I made months ago for my mother's friend was voted 'Best Hat' by everyone on the vessel National Geographic Explorer! How exciting!

 Here she is off the coast of the Antarctic peninsula.

Commission Completed and Sent, Whew!

I finished this commissioned hat last week while we were visiting family on the north island of New Zealand. It is one of my original grannie square hats, with a knitted top and sassy tassle. A friend of mine ordered it for her mother's birthday.

I put in a lining of some stretchy polyester that looks a little like crushed velvet.  Very cozy without too much bulk.

I was almost walking out the door to run into town to send it to the recipient, when news came that the Christchurch earthquake had just struck. From that moment on, everyone in the room was glued to the TV, watching live footage from the devastation in the city. We were especially worried, because so many of our friends were in Christchurch at the time *and* we have a house there.

So, that hat got mailed a few days later, as we made our way south back to our disaster-stricken town.

I am happy to report that no one we know was hurt or killed, but are plenty of people that lost loved ones. My heart cries for them.

February 14, 2011

Sheri's Hat

This was the last hat I completed before I left McMurdo. Sheri is a good friend of mine and one day about a month ago, she said she really wanted me to make her a hat. One of my favorite things is to design FOR people. So she picked out the colors of yarn (Cascade 220) and even the pattern and design. It wasn't normally colors I would have picked for myself, but as you can see, this hat came out beautifully, and is absolutely PERFECT for her and looks stunning.

The little 'beaded' band just above the rolled brim is actually something I just made up, but it looks great. It gives the feeling of a braid without being too bulky.

It's super simple. Knit a set up row in stockinette alternating two colors. Then on the next row, purl all stitches, alternating the same colors as the set up row. The third row is exactly the same, alternate purl stitches following the colors of the previous row. That's all there is to it.

February 01, 2011

Seriously Sidetracked

I am still in Antarctica, but not for long. My contract ends in less than a week and soon I'll be on a plane, sailing through the clouds towards New Zealand. My anticipation grows. The first day back is always blissful...rain, grass, flowers, warm air, the beach, good fresh food.

This season on the Ice has seriously sidetracked my blogging, but I should be back on track soon. I have knitted a lot of stuff this summer despite being extremely busy in my job. I pretty much knit during most of my spare time, sometimes thinking that maybe, just maybe I'm an addict. I don't think they have a group for knitaholics.

My job this summer in case you were curious, was supporting a remote field camp on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet called Byrd Surface Camp. I was responsible for making sure all the necessary cargo and supplies were loaded on a plane and sent to the camp. It was stressful at times. But the camp staff were so appreciative of my efforts, it was all worth it. Additionally, I supported two traverses from Byrd Camp to Pine Island Glacier on the coast over on that side of Antartica. This project has the worst acronym ever....PIG. The PIG Traverses carried fuel and supplies to set up a camp next summer so that glaciologists can study that glacier, which is showing signs of rapid change. It is a difficult area to access, with weather that is unpredictable a lot of the time.

Now my time is drawing to a close and my thoughts wander to New Zealand and beyond.