Thursday, November 28, 2013

Making pompoms

I made three pompoms recently for my Bubble & Squeak hat. I originally wanted one, but when I held it against the hat it looked a little small - so I made two more. I think they look really cute in a cluster. :)

Here's what I did:

1. I made a pair of templates by tracing around cylindrical things (a mug and a small perfume bottle) onto some scrap cardboard (a chocolate packet). I cut it out, and repeated for the second one.

2. I wound a little ball of yarn, small enough to fit through the holes in the templates.

3. Holding the two templates sandwiched together, I wound the yarn around them until I decided I'd covered them pretty well. If you run out of yarn, it's easy to add another little ball - just wind the new yarn over the loose ends to keep them under control.

4. Get the point of your scissors down between the two cardboard templates, and carefully snip through the yarn all around the edge. I used fuzzy, woolly yarn which stayed put during the snipping - if your yarn is less 'grabby', I'd suggest plugging the centre of the circle with a folded paper towel or something, to stop the snipped strands of yarn escaping.

5. Wrap a new strand of yarn around the middle of the pompom, between the two templates. Tie it tightly with a secure knot.

6. Slip off the cardboard templates, trim any longer strands that are sticking out, and fluff up your pompom: roll it in your hands, or hold it by the tail and whack against your hand/leg/whatever.

 7 (optional). To make the tail more substantial, take a crochet hook and with both strands, make a slip knot as close to the pompom as possible. Chain 4, and tie off.

8. Make more pompoms as desired, and attach to your hat!

New pattern: Bubble & Squeak

I finished another lovely warm hat - just in time for summer! D'oh! Sometimes knitting inspiration doesn't synch with the seasons at all. :p

My new design is a cabled beanie hat called 'Bubble & Squeak'. The name is a play on a tasty way of using up leftover vegetables - because this hat is a re-do of my Carrot Top hat design. I've made a lot of changes, including to the basic design of the cables. The new version is a bit simpler to knit, but the cables are still moderately complex: I would recommend having some experience knitting cables before trying this pattern.

Before adding the pompoms

With pompoms!

With the brim turned up

  • braided cables in two sizes, meandering out of the ribbing
  • longer ribbing so you can turn up the brim (or not)
  • easily adjustable sizing of length + circumference
  • a nice tidy tubular cast-on (optional)
  • one or more pompoms on top (optional) - see my mini tutorial on making pompoms
  • 'rest' rounds on every second round
  • both charted and written instructions

The yarn I used is my current fave, 8ply Pure Wool Naturals in 'Pumice' from Anna Gratton's Little Wool Company. I'm looking forward to doing more cabled projects in this yarn, it suits them very well!

The pattern download for Bubble & Squeak is available on Ravelry.


Just for fun: this is what happens when a New Zealander goes to the beach on a chilly evening - a woolly hat and jumper, worn with shorts and jandals. ;p

Messing about with a bubble wand is a great way to pass the time before one's fish & chips are ready. :)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


I finally used some special yarn I've been hoarding since last year. I found the perfect pattern for it, and a certain nerd-tastic event this month gave me the final nudge...

The pattern is Rondelay by Jennifer Dassau, and it was surprisingly easy to knit. It's made up of three 'rondels' or semicircles, but they're knit continuously in one piece - it's very clever indeed! The garter-stitch looks great with my variegated yarn, and the colours have 'pooled' slightly differently in each rondel.

The yarn is from Nerd Girl Yarns, in a colour called 'Blue Box Exploding'. It's inspired by this image from an episode of Doctor Who - an exploding TARDIS, as painted by Van Gogh:

From 'The Pandorica Opens', DW series 5

It makes sense in context. Well, TV sci-fi kids-show sense. ;)

This month is the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, and I celebrated by knitting. And watching the special episode of course (we loved it)!
Hi, my name is Amy, and I am a nerd.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ring-a-ring o' roses

Old-fashioned roses are one of my many obsessions. Since I discovered last year that Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens has a 'Species Rose Collection', I've been waiting to visit during its main flowering season. I finally got my chance on Sunday, which was cool and cloudy and suitable for trekking through gardens, smelling all the roses.

The garden included some 'old garden roses' in amongst the wild/species roses. Old garden roses have the best and most intense scent (in my opinion), and they're shaped differently to modern roses. The many-petaled old roses are often quite flat when fully open, with an inner swirl of small petals:

The best-smelling rose in the garden! 'Félicité Parmentier', Alba type, 1834

Félicité is quite small, but very pretty

Because garden roses are propagated by cutting and grafting rather than by seed, all the roses of the same variety are technically part of the same plant. I think it's really cool that the 'Lamarque' rose on my balcony has been around since it was first bred in 1830, in people's gardens around the world.

More interesting, in terms of their variety in size and shape, were the wild or species roses in the collection. In general, they had simpler flowers than the garden roses - most of the wild varieties had 'single' flowers with five petals each. Bees prefer single roses, and one bush in particular was covered in bees! Many had white or very pale pink flowers, but one was bright red (Rosa moyesii), and a couple were yellow (Rosa xanthina and Rosa foetida). Some were downright weird, with giant prickles, or green flowers...

This was a major bee-magnet. I want one! Rosa forrestiana
It's a big bush, taller than Willie even

Rosa moyesii

So tiny! Rosa spinosissima (aka pimpinellifolia, aka Scotch Briar)

Rosa viridiflora (yup, that's a flower)

Serious prickles! Rosa sericea omniensis
Rosa Amyana cardiganensis

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

New pattern: INSULATE! mittens

I designed some Dalek mittens to go with my hat. :)
You can download the pattern for free on Ravelry: INSULATE! mittens

I used the same yarn as for my INSULATE! hat, which is '8ply Pure Wool Naturals' from Little Wool Company, in the shades 'Papa' (a greyish brown) and 'Pumice' (oatmeal). I still have over half of each 200g ball left, even after making a hat and a pair of mittens. This yarn is great for colourwork - it's fuzzy enough that the strands on the wrong side felt down slightly with wear, and its 2ply structure helps with stitch definition.

The thumbs are knit plain, with the Dalek's 'weapons' (the famous egg-beater and plunger) completed afterwards in duplicate stitch. Doing stranded colourwork in such a small circumference would be fiddly, so duplicate stitch to the rescue! For an extra touch of whimsy, I added a little heart above each 'weapon' - they could be omitted or replaced with laser beams if you prefer your Daleks evil.

A few helpful links:

The best thing about my new mittens? Epic Dalek battles... teehee... ;)