Monday, October 28, 2013

Three vintage hats

Labour Weekend has been a mix of high tea, Armageddon Expo, husband's birthday, Wicked the Musical, flat hunting and a bit of knitting. 

I've finished the three hats for my work pals! I'm really happy with how they came out and I'm struggling to pick a favourite. I think I'll be struggling to give them to my colleagues too!

The Vintage DK yarn worked perfectly and I really hope they like them.
Now it's back to my Hitchhiker shawl - a nice bit of no-thinking knitting!

Monday, October 21, 2013

*Beyond excitement* Craftilicious ebook by *bespoke*

I was extremely excited to discover today that Bespoke Zine is publishing an ebook of all its crafty and baking goodness. It's a special ebook, marking the mag's 10th issue and featuring some amazing projects. You can imagine my excitement then, when I saw my name listed next to my Nautical Rope Bracelet tutorial. Best surprise ever! I'm extremely grateful to be included - make sure you go download a copy, there's some seriously awesome stuff to make and do in there!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

On knitting for others

It's only been over the past year or so that I've thought my knitting was getting good enough to be able to make things for others. 
I gave the first scarf I ever made to my husband - I discovered it recently, five years later, under the bed when we moved house. I did knit a few scarves for colleagues at the newspaper I used to work at but they were very plain, stocking stitch made with cheap yarns. 

For a couple of years after that I stuck to making things for myself. I figured I needed more practice and I didn't want to give people things that I wasn't entirely happy with. I started learning new knitting skills, making a pattern and if it was successful I'd make it again with a friend in mind. 
My first big endeavour to knit for others was knitting gifts for my bridesmaids last year. I finally felt comfortable enough in my abilities to turn a sock heel to be able to give a pair to someone else. 

2013 has been a year with a lot more knitting for other people.
It's also been the year of the hat, and to date four hats have been gifted.
I'm also half-way through my three-vintage-hats challenge. These will be given to three colleagues on the condition that they all get worn at the same time.

I like knitting for others. I think people do appreciate the time and effort that goes in, as well as having a  hat or pair of socks that no one else would have. I like that I've given a gift that makes a bit of a statement about me - how I prefer handmade over mass consumerism, more individual than mass produced. The effort I put in to knitting a gift is a pretty good gauge of how much I value someone's friendship. 

So what am I supposed to feel when said knitted gift gets lost at the office or left on a train on the other side of the world? Obviously, the two missing hats in question were very much loved by their owners and they were devastated when the loss was discovered but there is a bit of me that is a tad annoyed about it. I'm generally not a person who holds grudges. It takes up way too much time and I like to be positive rather than negative, but still. HOURS of time goes into knitting a beanie. Love too. I guess I thought the same amount of care would go into looking after the gift as what went in to making it. 

This shouldn't really be a big deal. I should move on. It's a nice gesture to knit and it's good karma to give and all that - it's not about what happens to the gift afterwards, right? 

But now they're asking me for new hats. In an I-just-got-a-bad-haircut-and-need-a-cover-up-now kind of way. Like knitting is instant. What if they lose it again? Is it wrong of me to hesitate a little before casting on another? Or should I just be the bigger person and get to it?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Knitographer interviews... Sezza Knits

I got to meet some amazing people at KAN including the lovely Sarah Ronchetti (coolest last name ever) aka Sezza Knits. She designs lots of kiddies' and sock patterns and she took some time to chat with me about her work.

How did you become a knitwear designer and what do you primarily design?
I sort of fell into it really, I had been test knitting for other designers for a while and had started to think that I could possibly give it a go. When I couldn't find a pattern for a zipped vest for my son, I decided to write one, and now I can't stop.
I have mostly designed children's garments, although socks are catching up!

What do you think makes a good pattern design?
My favourite patterns are things that can be worn everyday. While they can be knit in special yarn, they can be worn for any ocassion, and so they are actually worn, not stored in a drawer or cupboard, waiting for a good time to wear them. And I like to design things that are fun to knit - for me that means not totally boring, but not so tricky you can only knit them when there is silence.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Everywhere! Some of my designs have been particular requests from my children, others were inspired by places, yarn, people.... 

How long does it take you to go from a pattern concept to finished design?
Usually 2-3 months if I'm not overly distracted by other things. There is quite a process, so I am often working on a new design while the previous one is being tested and edited. 

What are your favourite tools of the trade?
I love my Chiaogoo needles. I use fixed ones for sock knitting, and interchangeables for nearly everything else.

What's the one thing you always have in your knitting bag?
Stitch markers. I have gathered quite a collection. And I love having a selection of pretty project bags too!

Any advice for knitters who might want to design their own patterns?
Give it a go! Start off designing something you would like to knit or wear and see how you go - you never know when you might create a winner!

Do you have a special space / studio you like to work in?
I work in a corner of my lounge. I have a lazy boy chair and a shelf with everything I need right beside me. With young kids, it means I'm always right where they need me. I do take my laptop into the dining room for peace and quiet and pattern grading/editing though.

What are your plans for the next year or so?
To design more patterns! I have a few things coming out in early 2014 that are a collaboration with other people, and I have notebooks full of sketches, so there will be more.

Find out more about Sarah's designs over on her blog!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Beach + crafts = good weekend

We were lucky to get a great break in the stormy weather this weekend and take our first venture out to our local beach, Te Henga.

I love coming out here. It's not far from where we live, maybe 20 minutes or so, but it feels like a completely different world. The sand is black and the surf is rough. The landscape is raw out here.
Dunes mingle with tussock grass and the wind whips around the rocks.

The locals all hang out at the Bethells Store cafe by the beach - for me a much cooler option than some of the other busier west coast beaches. Much more laid back out here, and the milkshakes are excellent.

To the crafting - Vintage Honey Hat number one is complete - only three days of knitting!
I did drop a bunch of stitches earlier today, and after a bit of swearing at myself for being very clumsy, I managed to save it. I wouldn't have been happy if I'd had to frog the whole thing.
At this rate I should have the next two finished over next weekend, and then I can plan Matching-Hats-At-Work Day!

And no weekend is complete without a bit of reading. Best book discovery ever!
Craftydermy, edited by Tracey Benton, is the crafters' answer to the current trend for taxidermy.

It's an aesthetic I love but something I've got some issues with, so finding instructions on how to sew a cruelty-free tiger skin rug really appeals.
I'm quite a fan of the knitted fox fur by Knit and Destroy's Kandy Diamond
I think I'll be adding it to my Ravelry queue very soon.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Honey hats with a Vintage feel

Skeinz Vintage DK
L-R Port Wine, Charcoal and Carmine

The Honey hat has turned into such a success that three of my lovely workmates have asked if I can knit them one each. 
I know these gals won't lose them and will really appreciate the time that goes into them. One of them is even learning to knit, so she totally gets it. 

I gave them some guidance on what yarn I thought would be best. 
After doing some recent knitting with Skeinz Vintage DK, I figured the important thing was good stitch definition and this yarn definitely delivers. 

I've decided that these hats will all be gifted at the same time - my biggest dilemma now is whose to cast on first? 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Procrastination - in the form of knitting, obviously

I've been pretty much inseparable from my craft table this week. There's been a lot of freelancing happening around the busiest week of the year at day job and I only just realised I haven't blogged for a week. So here's a very quick update! 

While I've supposed to be writing articles, I've been processing thoughts by mainly knitting. 
Productive for my Hitchhiker - maybe not so much for the task at hand.

Love the way the colours are pooling together though - it's been such a good knit to do when I've been so busy. Not much concentration required, and sometimes that's a good thing.

Also, I've decided I needed one of my favourite knitting quotes to feature on the craft table. 
Firstly, I figured I needed it for inspiration.
But really I just wanted to procrastinate some more from my writing and play with a chalk board. Makes total sense. 
Thanks Elizabeth Zimmerman, I'll knit on indeed.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


If there's one shawl pattern that pretty much every knitter has heard of, it's the Hitchhiker.
Designed by Martina Behm and currently sitting at 11556 projects on Ravelry, it is the most popular shawl pattern on the entire pattern database an reinterpreted countless times in a range of colourful yarns and sizes. 

Even with all the popularity and suggestions from other knitters to make one, I was never sure that hitchhiker was for me. I'm not really a shawl person. I've knitted a few Simple Things shawls to learn about yarn-overs and bust some stash, but really I'm more into my chunky scarfs and cowls. 

Then I went to KAN and got some yummy Kingfisher sock yarn from Lyn at Fibre2Go. Yes, it's true that I can't get enough of socks, but I love the colours so much in this yarn that I felt it was destined for something more than being hidden in my shoes. I've decided to put my hesitance of shawls aside for now and cast-on a Hitchhiker. 

So far I'm loving the pattern. It's pretty much just eight rows repeated, with some increases and bind-offs every so often for good measure. My only downfall so far has been one of my KnitPro interchangeable tips. The wooden tip has come out of the metal join and while it hasn't quite broken off yet, the live stitches keep getting caught in it. I've ordered some nickel plated ones to try and fix this problem asap - hopefully they will be here tomorrow so I can continue hitching.