Rainbow Baby Blanket

Last night I finished the crochet blanket. Here’s the front view:

And here’s the back:

Oh my. Were there a lot of ends to sew in. Actually, I can probably do a pretty good estimate.

36 squares containing 4 colours each = 144
5 connecting seams in 2 directions = 10
6 colours in first border round = 6
1 colour in second border round = 1
subtotal = 161
multiplied by 2 because there are two ends per colour
total = 322 ends to sew in

I did remember how to crochet in the starter ends… by the time I got to the border. That saved me from sewing in about 7 ends. So I really sewed in 315 ends. Little wonder I was a bit over this blanket by the time it was done.

Still, there’s a sense of achievement and I haven’t put myself off crocheting, or even crocheting blankets. I could do more of these (now that I’ve remembered how to crochet in half the ends) and there’s good reason to since, as so often happens, a lot of my friends are cooking up new humans simultaneously and I’m feeling the itch to make gifts. But I think I’d reduce the blanket colours to three or four, and do colour themes like all blues and greens, or reds and purples, or natural, white and brown. (And I’d really love to do a black and white skull blankets for my more gothy friends.)

While I came to love this cotton for it’s squishy vibrancy, despite the 50% acrylic content, I wish the ends would stay sewn in neatly. I know this is a problem with cotton and wonder if I could switch to a wool yarn. Something as soft and non-scratchy as possible, of course. And machine washable. With a good range of colours. I also think the fire-resistant quality of wool is a Good Thing when it comes to new humans.

Any recommendations?

It’s Here! It’s Here!

I walked up to the post office an hour ago to post off my Aussie Bag Lady Swap bag to its recipient, and what was waiting for me? My own swap bag. Or bagS, as it turned out. I have been well and truly spoiled with TWO gorgeous handmade bags!

A cosy grey shoulder bag with a feature border:

And a purple patchwork bag. Look at the colour I happened to be wearing. Purple is a colour I’ve only just recently come to love. So is grey, for that matter. How did she/he know?

Here’s the grey shoulder bag hanging on the balustrade of our balcony.

Here’s a glimpse of the sweet, storybook-like print of the lining. It has a magnetic clasp. I didn’t know you could buy magnetic clasps!

And here’s an arty shot, close up to the feature border which contains a bit of glitter. A tasteful hint of swish in a bag that’s so cushy I want to stroke and cuddle it.


Now for the purple patchwork bag, which puts my sewing skills to shame. My art and design geek side is all a-squee about the secondary triadic colour scheme (purple, green and orange, which link up in a triangle on the colour wheel). I love the big shiny button.

And chuckled at the chocolate block charm.

And so, so pleased at the practical pockets. I’ve always been good at losing things in the bottom of my bag and only find the phone when it has just finished ringing.

If you look deep inside, what do you find?

That’s right. Niiiiicccce choooooccccckyyyyyyyy! Omnomnomnomnom!

Thankyou swap partner, whoever you are. (You wrote L. Lane on the ‘sender’ part of the envelope and I’m off to see if I can track you down in Ravelry. The beau reckons I just got sent a parcel from Lois Lane. But surely, if that were the case, Superman would have delivered it personally?)

Food for Thought

There is an article in the new Yarn magazine called ‘A Yarn Less Travelled’ that I keep finding myself thinking about. It explores the true cost of yarn when carbon emissions are taken into account, comparing the cost of buying direct from a local producer to mail ordering wool that is grown in Australia, processed in Italy, sold in Canada and sent to a customer in Australia.

Obviously the latter example had a pretty high carbon cost. And when you think about all that shipping around it seems a bit silly. But I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve bought yarn which had just as much freight involved in its creation. More than once, too.

Yet I’m relieved to say I do prefer to buy locally, just out of a philosophy of supporting local business. I love Bendy yarn. And Patons and Cleckheaton. I’ve bought the products of small producers like Wendy Dennis and The Knittery. Sometimes the price of locally produced yarns has put me off, but I’m more likely to splash out and buy something expensive and beautiful if the yarn is produed locally.

If I buy something from overseas, it’s usually something I can’t get here that I’m not confident of finding a good substitute for – like cotton with a unique construction, or a yarn dyed in a special way. I’ll even alter a pattern for a 10ply to use an 8 or 12 if I can’t find a suitable 10ply locally. But most of the time I can find a substitute, and I enjoy dyeing enough to try replicating special dye methods myself. (Though now I’m wondering what the carbon cost of the dyes are.)

The article has a guide to lessoning carbon costs when buying yarn and I’ve been considering whether to take on the suggestions. Things like:

* Knitting from stash – An obvious one which I’m doing more often since KFYS.

* Learn more about local yarn, especially if it’s been processed overseas – I’ll definitely pay more attention, but just how freely available is this information? I’m not going to ring manufacturers to hassle them for info.

* Swap, recycle or purchase secondhand – I do this already a little, but because I still want to support local producers I won’t take it on as a strict rule.

* Buy overseas yarn from the local store rather than mail order, as stores tend to have stock shipped by sea, which has less environmental impact – a good idea except… do they? Again, I’m not going to hassle store owners to tell me if they shipped or air freighted the yarn in.

* When travelling overseas, buy yarn made by local fibre artisans and producers – a great idea. I’ve bought yarn while travelling that’s gone through the crazy freight process before and belatedly wondered why I bothered. Sometimes made of Aussie merino, too! Something made locally to the place I’m travelling in is a much better souvenir than something I could get anywhere. Definitely taking this one on.

The article left me wanting more information, but information on how environmentally friendly (or not) different fibres are in ways other than just carbon emissions. I’d love to see this issue tackled some time. I’ve seen comparisons of fibres based on whether they’re vegan or cruelty free, but not one covering purely the impact of the animal or plant on the land and the processing (scouring? water use? dye toxicity? waste management?). I know cotton, for example, strips the land of nutrients and uses a lot of water – so perhaps it’s better to buy it from overseas where the climate is more suitable than buy it locally to reduce carbon costs.

So. Anyway. Food for thought. And a reinforcement of some ideas I had already. I’m going to:

Stick to buying local
Try out some more local small producers
Note which yarns involve processing overseas
Try to replicate dye effects of os yarns
Bug Damo in Ravelry about ACS producing a good 10ply in great colours
Continue to buy from Aussie yarn stores over os ones
Seek out and buy from small local producers when travelling
Avoid swaps unless they’re local and involve more than just posting yarn to someone

I’m also amused by the way my stash manifesto compliments this. (Bar a few items, like buying specified yarns for fantasy projects). For example: buying enough yarn. Having to mail order one more ball of a yarn because I didn’t buy enough to make anything is definitely not good for carbon emission costs!

Conventional Knitting

I spent the long weekend in Perth at a science fiction convention.

Before leaving, I considered two things very carefully: which wips to take and if I would attempt to visit a yarn store. Eventually I decided against shopping. I didn’t expect to venture far beyond the hotel the con was held in, and I really don’t need more yarn. As for what to take… I’m very good at taking enough knitting and/or crochet to last me for ten weekends away, or projects that require too much concentration. This time I restrained myself. I took the crochet blanket and the collar of the Ribbed Wrap Jacket.

I managed to add a ‘latte’ border to nearly all the granny squares, finishing them yesterday.

Now I’m sewing in ends, as they were going to get in the way when crocheting the squares together. I’m thinking of adding a border around the blanket made up of the six original colours, then a final one in the ‘latte’.

That’ll make it the right size for a baby blanket. And I have at least three pregnant friends. Hmm.

There was a little knitting going on at the con. And something called ‘hardanger’? Listening to panels and guest speeches required an easy knit – definitely a knit rather than crochet as I can knit without looking at what I’m doing – so I worked on the jacket collar.

I got it to halfway along the decreases. Last night I picked it up again and found myself thinking this was only marginally less boring than knitting a plain ribbed scarf. But then I started watching tv and every now and then looked down and found it had grown a few more cm. This wip will definitely stay by the couch.

But I do feel the need for something more challenging. I should work on the Tilty Socks (Rainbow Socks pattern from Magknits) but I’m feeling an uncharacteristic disinterest in socks right now. It’s like Sockless Summer broke a sock trance I was in. Or maybe Sockless Summer was the first symptom of growing sock fed-up-ness.

Instead I’m wanting to crochet. I rescued nine balls of the Bluebell from the op shop bag last week (the crinkly Cottontop that was so unfun to knit replaced it) after I realised it was the same colour and gauge as the yarn required for a project in the Cool Crochet book.

Well, I think it’s the same gauge. There’s a chart at the start of the book that tells you which yarn weight crochets up to which gauge. But when I had a look again later, I realised the gauge specified for each project relates to the stitch pattern used. An 8ply/dk, for example, could be crocheted at a range of gauges, depending on the stitch used. This took all the usefulness out of the chart. Fortunately the project I want to use the Bluebell does reveal that the specified yarn is ‘sport weight’, which should be close to 5ply. I’ll have to crochet a swatch.

But then there’s investigating the Shadow Tweed’s Snapping Turtle Skirt possibilities. Definitely got to try out a hexagon for that.

And I want to crochet a big blanket. And try weaving with roving. Darn it! There are just too many projects I want to start at the moment.


It was one of those glorious autumn mornings this morning. The sun was out but there was a cool, refreshing breeze. Between work and niggly little bouts of sickiness, I haven’t exercised for weeks. So I suggested to the beau that we walk to Lincraft and back.

On the way I dropped off a bag of yarn at the op shop, and when I got to Lincraft I stuck to exchanging yarn – not buying more – so I’m feeling rather virtuous. Despite the enthusiasm of commenters, I really couldn’t bring myself to use the shocking pink on the blanket. But I also agreed that the white was too stark. So what did I settle on?


Actually, it’s more like a milky coffee colour. I tried out the colour in Photoshop on my blanket photo and liked it. And the new yarn balls look good among the coloured ones. It’s not a colour I’d think of straight away as a match for those colourful granny squares, but it seems to work. I’ll post pics once I’ve edged and joined a row or two of squares.

Since I’m nearing the end of the Ribbed Wrap Jacket (two sleeves and a huge collar to go is close enough, isn’t it?) I’ve been considering what to knit next. A Knit From Your Books project, or something else? Dragging out Domiknitrix and Knitting Nature, I examined the patterns and realised I have yarn issues with both of my favourites, Sweetheart and the Snapping Turtle Skirt.

With Sweetheart, it’s the same issue I had with Tubey. It has a neckline that would be spoiled by wearing something underneath, but if I make it in wool I have to wear something underneath or I’ll go mad from the itching. Would silk, or alpaca, work as a subsitute? I’m worried they won’t, since it’s a garment that looks like it needs elasticity.

The Turtle Skirt is made of an acrylic yarn not available in Australia. Quite a large quantity, too. And it’s a 10ply, as far as I can make out, which means it’ll be hard to find a substitute. Especially a tweedy one in a nice colour.

Then I had one of those serendipitous moments. Could I use a 12ply instead and knit a smaller size? There are 12plys in garment quantities in my stash. I thought of the blue-pink Shadow Tweed straight away. Graduating colours in hexagons? How would that look? Fantastic? Or like I’m wearing a skirt made of pointy Madonna-bra-like cones?

Clearly I was going to have to test knit a hexagon to find out. Trouble was, you need dpns to knit the hexagons and the gaps in my dpn stash were around the size needles I’d need for playing with Shadow Tweed. I popped into Wondoflex on Monday on the way back from seeing my allergist. I had the beau waiting in the car, on a 40 degree day, so I quickly grabbed two out of the three dpn sizes I needed and headed for the counter. When I got there, guess what was on the counter?

Yarn magazine had just arrived. And it’s full of reviews of silk yarns. How did they know?

The Lure of the Granny Square

A few nights back I decided to update my stash spreadsheet. I’d been to the Australian Country Spinners mill shop since I last updated it, so there was definitely more yarn to add. It was also a good excuse to admire the yarn, remember what I had planned for it and consider what to make next.

Though I haven’t always stuck to my stash manifesto, one change I noticed was that I don’t have a gadzillion small batches of yarn that I can only make yet more scarves and hats out of. Instead I have more large batches of yarn for jumpers, cardys and jackets. And maybe even blankets.

I managed to cull over a kilogram of yarn (reducing the stash to 23.5 kilos). Most of it Patons Bluebell. I was using it for headscarves. Now that I’ve hit on the idea of making headbands out of leftover sock yarn, Bluebell seems harsh and boring. Out it goes.

Looking at the cotton stash, I decided it was time I stopped thinking about using up project leftovers by making facecloths and actually made them. They went into a bag that’ll sit next to the couch so I can whip one up when I want a break from a wip, or something to throw in my handbag. So far I’ve knit two:

The crinkly Cottontop wasn’t much fun to knit with, to tell the truth, and impossible to crochet with as the crinkles don’t like slipping through loops. I wonder how I managed to knit an entire top out of it without going mad. I guess back then I didn’t know that knitting with cotton didn’t have to be unpleasant.

So I turned to the leftovers from my 70s Costume. That’s when the trouble started. It must be something about this yarn. It puts whacky ideas in my head.

A thought popped into my head, you see, that I could make cute little granny squares out of it. Before I knew it, there they were:

I had a row of eight before I managed to stop myself. The were so fast to make. So bright and colourful.

That night I wanted to start the arms of the Ribbed Wrap Jacket. I’d finished the body, joined the shoulders and picked up stitches the night before, but realised knitting the arms would be much easier with dpns. But none of the dpns I had were the right size. What’s spooky is that, the next day, I had another look and found some. It’s as thought I blanked them from my sight just so I could continue making granny squares. By the end of the evening I had 24 squares. My hands hurt. I told myself I’d spread the rest out over a few weeks.

By the end of the next night I had this:

36 granny squares. I couldn’t make any more because I’d run out of yellow. They looked fetching all in a row:

And in the zip-lock bag I stowed them into:

The next question was what to do with them? Clearly I need to join them all together. They looked rather good against the purple patch of the old crochet blanket I’d laid them out onto, so today I popped into Lindcraft to get some purple in the same yarn.

Of course, they don’t make purple. And there were no other 8ply cottons let lone one in purple. So in desperation I bought the ‘plum’, which is a deep shade of pink. With ever square bordered and joined in this, it would be one very luridly coloured blanket. So I’m also considering white, as I have some white Bendy cotton.

What do you think?

Chocolate Cherry Mitre Vest

I tried to photograph this yesterday, but had problems getting a shot that wasn’t half washed out. It was 40 degrees yesterday (‘that’s 105 in the old language’, as my mum says) and I had the blinds down to keep out the heat. But when I opened them the light was too bright for photos.

As you can imagine, there was no way I was putting it on in that heat, even with the aircon on. So I’m making do with shot of it on my foam blocking square:

And here’s the back:

And a close-up of the diamond:

Yarn: The Knittery 4ply merino in ‘chocolate cherry’ – 2 skeins
Needles: 2.75 straights, circ and dpns
Inspired by: Miter Sweater by Wendy of Wendy Knits
Comments: I learned that mitres are fun! Despite this using thinner yarn and needles than I usually prefer, and taking a lot longer than most projects this size would, I never got sick of the mitre squares. I even considered knitting a fold-down collar out of them, so I could do some more.

There are a couple of mitres on the back that turned out darker than the rest, and I’m tempted to duplicate stitch over parts of them to make them match better. But for now I’ll leave them as they are, and see if it still bothers me when the weather has cooled down enough for wearing vests.

Beautiful Things

Having been cheated of my day off on Monday, I spent yesterday catching up on lots of little tasks, chores and such. I finished my Aussie Bag Lady Swap bag, but in order to do so I had to drop into Lindcraft for a bit of cotton tape. While I was there I bought a few packs of beads for the Droplet Scarf:

Clear ones and green ones, with faceting so they’ll add a hint of glitter. Preeeetty. I managed to match the green from memory, surprisingly well.

Then, in the afternoon, a parcel arrived for me containing these:

KA Japanese bamboo circs, from The Wool Baa. There were also dpns, but they were put to use last night knitting up the armhole bands of the Mitre Vest and couldn’t make it to the photo shoot.

These circs are fabulous! The join is smooth and doesn’t catch the yarn. The bamboo is smooth and the whole thing has a feeling of quality manufacture. But the really cool thing is that the wire rotates within the join. Any twist you might unconsciously put in as you’re knitting is eliminated straight away. All they need is a wire with no spring or memory (a gripe of mine with circs) and I’d be looking to buy a range of them in small sizes.

I bought a 2.75mm one for the Mitre Vest. (Though I did manage to finish the hem band on the straights by only knitting two rows at a time, I was on the neck band when the circs arrived and once I’d changed needles it was so much less painful to knit.) I also bought a 2.25mm 80cm one to try out knitting socks with the magic loop method. I’ll let you know how that goes.

The Mitre Vest is a few rows and some buttons short of being finished, so I will soon have a FO to post about. So, er, stay posted.

Rib it. Rip it. Rib it.

I reached a milestone in my work on Sunday and decided to take a few days off. I even wrote a wishlist of things I wanted to do, like drive down to the Mornington Peninsula and roam around antique shops.

So, of course, I woke up in the early hours of Monday morning with vertigo and gastro.

No knitting got done over the next day, but I listened to a lot of podcasts. Hooray for podcasts!

Last night I finally managed to pick up the Ribbed Wrap Jacket again. I’m beginning to think I might rename this the WTF? Jacket. First there was the dropped stitch I found in the armhole. Then there was the issue of the armhole being twice as large as it needed to be.

It’s all my fault, though, because I’m altering the way the jacket is knit out of a mad aversion for seaming. The pattern specifies to start at the back, knit up to the shoulders, then continue on down both sides of the front. That eliminates shoulder seams but leaves you with side seams. I’ve knit the fronts and backs in one piece. This means stopping at the armholes and knitting the back and fronts separately. To calculate where to start the separation, I subtracted the width of the arms from the length of the body from hem to shoulders.

Which was wrong. I should have subtracted half of the width of the arms from the length of the body, because the arms are a tube, not some flappy flag things.

When I realised what I’d done, I’d already finished the back and fronts and joined them with a three-needle bind-off. (After reading the notes of other knitters in Ravelry who’ve made this jacket, I decided to do a bind-off rather than grafting to give the shoulder a bit of support.) I didn’t really want to frog back to the armholes, so I sullenly got out a needle and sewed up the seam on the left side. (You can see this in the pic above. I’ve even picked up stitches for the left arm.)

But no matter what approach I took, I couldn’t get it to look right. Without that extra stitch on either side to assist in seaming, the join became one thick rib among regular two-stitch ones. And when I tried it on… when the ribbing was stretched around the body the difference was really obvious.

You know what this means:

Yep. Frogged back to the armholes. Last night I reached the correct place to separate for the fronts and back. At least, this time around, there’ll be only half the amount of knitting on them there was last time.

And to tell the truth, I’m really not up to much more than soothing ribbing at the moment.

Knitting and Chocolate Turns Two!

Oops! I’ve been working so hard today that I nearly forgot to post that it’s my 2nd Blogaversary today!


Thankyou to everyone who has visited my knitting (crochet, weaving, etc.) blog, whether as a lurker, or a commenter. Thanks to those who have left advice or suggestions, who have made me laugh, commiserated on setbacks or complimented me on my creations.

I’m off to eat some chocolate and knit in celebration. Feel free to join me.