Tuesday, July 15, 2014

New pattern: Beeswax mitts

The final pattern in my Beeswax set is now available - a pair of fingerless gloves covered in honeycomb, called the Beeswax mitts. :)

 

Features:
  • a double-layered honeycomb texture made up of mini-cables
  • thumb-shaping which blends into the surrounding honeycomb
  • instructions for knitting mini-cables without a cable needle
    (see also: the links in my post on the Beeswax hat)
  • stretchy stitch patterns which help ensure a snug fit
  • knit at a tighter gauge for durability
  • one size, can be re-sized by altering gauge
  • both charted and written instructions 
  • requires less than one 100g skein of DK-weight yarn 

The Beeswax mitts pattern is available as a pdf download from Ravelry.
The set of hat, cowl, and mitts is also available as an ebook: The Beeswax Set.

I had fun drawing some more little bees to include in my photos - these ones are in charcoal and yellow pastel:




The lovely golden yarn is Vintage Purls Max once again - I used some of the second skein of 'Toffee Deluxe' leftover from my cowl.

I was pleased (and relieved) to discover that Max holds up well when subjected to repeated 'frogging'/unravelling. It took a few tries to come up with a really good way of doing the thumb increases! I wanted them to really blend into the pattern seamlessly, and happily, I found a solution after a bit of trial-and-error:

The 'gusset' at the base of the thumb looks like one more honeycomb. :)

Hat, cowl, and mitts!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Mending

One benefit of being a crafter is that when something made of yarn or fabric needs mending, chances are you'll know at least one way to tackle it.
For example, because I have basic hand-sewing skills, I'm able to replace buttons, sew a hem, patch jeans, and fix small holes in knitwear. I do all this by trial-and-error, and not terribly tidily! My hand-sewing skills are still a bit rough. ;)

I would, however, like to learn a proper darning technique for when my precious hand-knitted things need repairs. I've been into knitting socks lately, so holes are only a matter of time...

Last year I repaired a second-hand jersey which had a hole in one sleeve cuff, and a couple of ragged bits at the edge of the other cuff and the bottom of the hem. I used laceweight yarn from my leftovers stash, and a small crochet hook to do the repairs. I crocheted around the hole on the cuff with grey yarn, and then filled in the hole (crochet is great for free-styling). I dealt with the 'bites' on the edges by crocheting over them with a contrasting golden yarn. I went right round the cuffs and hem to make it look more deliberate:

Sleeve 1

Sleeve 2

The hem

This afternoon I decided to finally repair my old pair of possum/merino gloves, which had a couple of tiny holes from wear and tear. They're good basic gloves, and I'd stopped wearing them to prevent the damage getting worse, so I'm glad to have them back. :)

Again, I crocheted around the holes first, and then decreased in a spiral. I managed to do a much tidier job this time, partly because the holes were small. I then decorated the repaired-bits with duplicate stitch.

Glove 1, with repair to palm

(and decorated)

Glove 2, with repair at base of thumb.

The decorations were inspired by the 'visible mending' aesthetic of knitter and darning-teacher Tom of Holland. He uses a multitude of patterns and contrasting colours to repair knitwear, which I think is really neat. You can see some of his work on his blog.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

New pattern: Beeswax cowl

And here it is, as promised! The Beeswax cowl is a slouchy, comfy neckwarmer with the same mini-cabled honeycomb texture as my Beeswax hat.



It requires 280 yards of Vintage Purls Max (a little more than one skein), or another plump, bouncy DK or worsted-weight yarn.

I used a different shade of VP Max for the cowl (this one's called 'Toffee Deluxe'), because I like the way the colours complement each other without matching precisely. If you do fancy a matching set, two skeins of Max will be enough to knit both the hat and cowl.

I love this close-up of the texture!

Features:
  • a double-layered honeycomb texture, which flows into and out of the ribbing
  • instructions for knitting mini-cables without a cable needle 
  • one size, with simple instructions for re-sizing both height and circumference
  • both charted and written instructions 

For tips on knitting mini-cables/twisted stitches without a cable needle, check out the links in my post on the Beeswax hat.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

New pattern: Beeswax hat

I have a new hat design out, and I'm extra-super-proud of this one!
The Beeswax hat is a knitted expression of my honeybee obsession...



I wanted to create a knitted honeycomb texture that showed the back-to-back double layer of natural honeycomb, and I made a few sketches to help me understand its structure. I found inspiration in photos taken by beekeepers, including this gallery by an Australian couple. I also sketched some simple bees, based on my own bee photos (you can find a few on my blog here).



The yarn I chose is from Vintage Purls, one of my very favourite indie yarn-dyers. Vintage Purls 'Max' is a DK-weight merino/nylon sock yarn - it's very soft and bouncy, and comes in wonderful rich colours. I used two-thirds of a skein for this hat, in the colourway 'Easy Rider'.


The Beeswax hat features:
  • a double-layered honeycomb texture, which emerges naturally from the ribbing
  • instructions for knitting mini-cables without a cable needle 
  • crown decreases integrated into the honeycomb pattern
  • one (very stretchy) size, with tips for re-sizing
  • both charted and written instructions 
  • requires less than one skein of smooshy DK-weight yarn

While swatching and test-knitting this hat, I learned a new method for doing cables without a cable needle. I greatly prefer it to my old method of holding onto the stitch with my thumb and forefinger, which was pretty awkward with my yarn-in-right hand knitting style.

My new favourite method is called the 'slip and switch' method in the Knitty.com article, 4 ways to mini-cable. I found Lee Meredith's twisted stitches tutorial really helpful too (it has step-by-step photos and a video).
It's a great method because if you've memorised which way the basic k2tog and ssk decreases lean, it's easy to know which cable-twist moves to do.
I found I didn't even need to follow the chart after a while. :)

The pattern download for the Beeswax hat is available on Ravelry.

I have a matching cowl pattern in the works too! Here it is peeking out from under the hat... ;)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A cosy brown jersey

I finished another jersey about a month ago, and I have photos at last! It's a Stasis Pullover, designed by Leila Raabe. My Ravelry project page is here, if anyone wants to see the nitty-gritty details.



I used yarn from Anna Gratton's Little Wool Co. once again, this time the machine-washable 4ply wool. The main colour is 'Walnut', and the contrast colour is 'Terracotta'. They're both lovely rich, heathered colours:


The only issue is that the sleeves are a bit long (oops), but I don't mind - it means I can pull the cuffs over my hands when it's cold. And I can always do a bit of sleeve-surgery later if I want to shorten them!



And do you know what? It's actually cold enough to wear a jersey at last!
June is the best. <3

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

One decade in

Happy anniversary, Willie! As the cliché goes, we've been through lots of ups and lots of downs together. Here's to the decades to come, and may they be filled with many more ups than downs! <3

A few of my favourite photos of us...

Oriental Bay, 2011

Melbourne, 2011

Melbourne, 2011

The Feast of Fools, 2009

Ohope beach, 2008/9

And something knitty... ;)

Heart, 2009

Love you lots, best friend! XX

Sunday, May 18, 2014

New pattern: Seaswell

I've had this shawl finished for a wee while, but was waiting to get the pattern just right before showing it off!

My newest design, Seaswell, is a triangular shawl with textured stripes.
The rippling edge is inspired by the sea, with rows of waves unfolding...


The wave-patterned border is an adaptation of a nineteenth-century stitch pattern. In Cornelia Mee's Exercises in Knitting (1846), it appears as 'Fan Pattern', and in Jane Gaugain's Lady's Assistant (1840), it's called 'Shell Pattern'. I replaced the yarn-overs in the original with simple kfb increases to make it a textured rather than lacy pattern, and I sharpened the crests of the waves with double-decreases. I also reduced the number of rows per pattern repeat, to suit narrow stripes.

I tried a new kind of yarn with this shawl - a sport-weight cotton yarn called 'Riveting Sport' from Kollage Yarns. It's made from recycled jeans, and comes in lovely subtle colours with a tweedy appearance. I used 'Pebble Denim' and 'Night Denim', very beachy colours!



Features:
  • textured 'garter ridge' centre, flowing into a wave-patterned edge
  • reversible stripes that look great on both sides 
  • top-down construction with a simple cast-on
  • easy to re-size by knitting more/fewer pattern repeats 
  • both charted and written instructions
  • requires only two skeins of recycled, eco-friendly yarn

The pattern download for Seaswell is available on Ravelry.

The photos below were taken in the Taranaki countryside, on my most recent trip to New Zealand (my posts 'Country matters' and 'Apples and hazelnuts' have lots more photos of the scenery).



I love the 'wrong' side too :)