Friday, December 26, 2014

We're going on an adventure!


In a couple of hours we're off to Melbourne for 10 days! 
I'm looking forward to catching up with family and friends, a bit of vintage and yarn shopping and lots of good coffee.
More excitingly though is that this is the first time me and the husband have been overseas together. 
Ever.
I've travelled a lot separately, but we've never been further than the South Island together in our seven years as a couple. Total madness I know! 
I'm all ready to go. Camera batteries are charged, travel journal is ready for filling and I have my favourite travel book for the plane.

It might be a bit quiet around here for a while but there should be lots happening over at Instagram - you can follow my adventure there!

Looking forward to seeing you in the new year - and a big thanks to Stitchbird and Fern for the awesome passport wallet - an impulse purchase the week before Christmas and it was hand made and delivered in two days. Such great service and it will get plenty of use this week!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Wishing you a magical Christmas

The shortbread is baked, the orange and almond cake is in the tin and all ready to go, and now I'm working on the second green sock in anticipation of Christmas Eve carol singing; a long standing tradition with one of my oldest friends.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, thank you so much for your visits, your comments and your kind words. I've got to meet a few more of you in person this year which has been amazing, and I hope to meet even more next year! 

This Christmas is already made - I've had several totally unexpected little gifts which are so thoughtful and given to me by wonderful people!


My lovely dressmaker at Mintage sent me a matching headband for my Lemonade Dress! How lovely is that? 


Then there is the extremely cool craft notebook from a very considerate friend - I have lots of plans to fill this with in the new year! Thank you - you know who you are!


And what I can only describe as the most awesome op-shop find from a sewing pal - a clutch bag made out of the same floral fabric as my Mushama and Me raincoat! I'm using it to store all of my bicycle bits and pieces in my bike basket (the bike is at the bike doctors - she'll be back in action in the new year!).


And a little gift to myself - Riche Worsted yarn in the Science Bitch colourway from Red Riding Hood Yarns! I have great plans for this. That perfect cable sweater I've been going on about for years will be knit in this!

I hope you all get lots of time with loved ones over the holiday, some time to relax, time to have fun, eat  delicious food and be merry. And do a bit of crafting if you feel like it!
Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Need an emergency Christmas knit?


Each year I try my best to make Christmas gifts. Usually I knit a couple of things - last year a few people got hats - and I always bake cookies or chocolate brownies for my friends. We try not to get too consumerist about Christmas, instead focussing on spending time together and eating a giant meal rather than being broke for three weeks to get everyone a stack of gifts. So in the spirit of keeping Christmas a bit low-key and handmade, I've come up with a very quick knitting pattern for mini Christmas Tree ornaments. They can make great gift tags, or hang them on a proper tree! They only take a couple of hours to make, so there is still time to get a few done before Thursday!

Mini Christmas Tree

You need:

DK/8ply yarn in green and a tiny amount of brown
Needles the size that is recommended for your yarn (I used 4mm)
Beads and sewing thread for decoration
Ribbon for a hanging loop

Abbreviations:

CO = cast-on
K = knit
P = Purl
K2tog = knit two together
SSK = slip slip knit

Pattern:

With green yarn yarn CO 20 stitches.

K two rows

Decrease section:

Row 1 = K2, SSK, K to last four sts, K2tog, K2
Row 2 = K2, p to last two sts, K2

Repeat rows 1 and 2 until eight sts remain, ending with a row 2.

Next rows:

K2, SSK, K2tog, K2 (six sts)
K2, SSK, K2 (five sts)
K2, P1, K2 (five sts)
SSK, K1, K2tog (three sts)
K1, P1, K1 (three sts)
SSk, transfer st on right needle back onto left needle, K2tog.

Cut yarn, thread through last st and pull tight.


Tree stump section:

With brown yarn, pick up five sts at the base of the tree, in the middle.
K five rows
Bind off.

Finishing:

Weave in all ends and steam block so the fabric is flat. Sew on beads to decorate and thread a ribbon or string through the top of the tree to hang it up with.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

My Moneta - all finished

 After Gertrude the bike broke on Friday, I was a bit sad. I decided I needed to cheer myself up and finish sewing my Moneta dress in time for Christmas celebrations. There wasn't much left to do - hemming the bottom of the skirt, the neckline and the sleeves - and I got to learn a new skill!


The hems were all finished using a twin needles on the sewing machine. I had to use two top threads and go very slowly because they kept tangling, but in the end I'm very happy with the result.


The fabric was my favourite find at this year's Fabric-a-brac and I love the simple pattern. I'm sure Moneta will become one of my frequently-used patterns.


Big thanks to the lovely Sew Love Tea Do team for teaching me new skills and Dresses and Me for the pattern! I thought sewing knits would be really hard, but I think they are becoming my favourite type of fabric to sew with! 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Bike disaster


Gertrude is a very unhappy bike today. She needs some serious fixing.
Over the last three months, everything was going so well! For someone who had not serious ridden a bike since she was a kid, I totally proved the doubters wrong (mainly my baby brother, who figured I'd have one go, fall off, and give up) and have learnt to ride again. I did some safe cycle courses, practised on the local school courts and have graduated to riding on not-too-busy roads around my neighbourhood. Husband even got a bike, called Roger, for his birthday, so we have a hobby to share!
I love riding my bike. I find as many excuses as possible to ride it. 

Yesterday was going to be a big day. While we've ridden a lot locally, we've never ventured a couple of suburbs over to the city. From our place to the waterfront in town, it's practically all cycleways, so nice and easy. The plan was to cycle to Silo Park and watch Home Alone 2 at the outdoor cinema - so festive! We were almost half way when it happened. I was changing down a gear to go up a hill and all I heard was the crunch of metal. The little cog and arm (I have no idea what these are actually called) that sit under the set of gears somehow twisted behind and up into the gears, between the spokes.  
The metal is bent out of shape and the teeth on the gears are chipped. There are some cracks in the 
Luckily I was going up-hill rather than down-hill, that might have been messy. The wheel is completely jammed up. We couldn't even walk it home. We carried her about 2kms. And she is heavy. 

I am seriously hoping this will all be covered under a warranty. I doubt there's any hope she will be fixed before Christmas, and then we go to Melbourne for 10 days, so it looks like any repairs will have to wait until the new year. 

I was pretty gutted that this happened on our first ride to the city. It's something we'd been building up to and I was really looking forward to it. But hopefully the damage can be fixed and we can try again soon.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

How I survive the Christmas rush


It's a week and a half before Christmas. The holidays are in sight but it's going to be a mad rush before 24 December. There's work celebrations, friends' dinners, a giant amount of Christmas baking to       co-ordinate, and I kind of just want to nap. 

It's the busy times like these that I seem to do two things. 
1 - instead of going out on a Saturday night (it's pouring with rain, who can blame me?) I stay inside and watch movies. Currently we're on a festive rotation of Christmas themed ones and so far all of them star Alan Rickman. I'm good with it. Yes, Die Hard is a Christmas movie! It's a good time to get a bit of couch knitting done.

2 - I get lost in books or magazines. The latest copy of Extra Curricular arrived a couple of weekends ago and I've been trying my best to savour it slowly, because it's always such a treat. For this issue I got to write about something very close to my heart - how knitting equals calm. The mindful properties of stitch repetition are well-documented. A sock project is like a mini yoga lesson in my handbag. Instead of forever rushing and thinking about what to do next, it makes me present, sit still and focus on the moment.

I make the most of it during these busy times of the year, when people are rushing around in shops trying to get prepared for the holiday. Sometimes you just need a couple of minutes' break, and for me, that comes in the form of sticks and string.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Making a start on Moneta + new yarn



As you know, I am a tad terrified of overlockers. I mean, why wouldn't I be? I almost lost the sleeve on my Laurel dress due to less-than-required diligence when finishing the underarm sleeves. So when I was told the best way to sew knit fabrics was with an overlocker, I freaked out a bit. 

I figured that I had two choices. To never give it a go, and leave my amazing $1 Fabric-a-brac find as one big piece of fabric, or try and make it into a Moneta. The risk was pretty high, given I only had 1.96m of fabric - just enough for the pattern, but definitely not enough to make any mistakes.

I've started on the bodice, and so far, so good! Fitting sleeve caps is so much easier on stretchy fabric - just like knitting, so it's becoming quite a quick project. I hope to have a few hours on the weekend to get it all done - I'd love to wear it for Christmas.


Speaking of Christmas, how festive is this Happy Go Knitty yarn? The colourway is Merry Christmas, in her amazing BFL sock. This colour is too good for socks, so I'm thinking of knitting it up into a Mountain Moss shawl by Beth Kling from Pom Pom Quarterly's Summer 2013 issue.
This was happily purchased (and my only purchase, I might add) at yesterday's Auckland Fair. Now I just have to finish my socks, dress and lace jumper - I cannot have four projects on the go at once!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Mini Santa hats - free pattern!


Christmas with my family and friends isn't really about spending a stack of money on a heap of presents we don't really need. Usually gifts come in the way of Christmas-themed baking and a giant meal, and maybe a Secret Santa. At my knitting class we've been making these mini Santa hats to give as Christmas decorations - you can thread them onto string for a garland, pop them on the tree or give your action figures a Christmas makeover! These don't take long to make at all - if you have an hour or so in front of the TV, you will be well on your way to making a stack of these!


You need:

DK/8ply yarn in red and white
4mm needles
A little craft pompom - available at most dollar stores or craft shops
Sewing thread

Abbreviations:

CO = cast-on
K = knit
P = Purl
K2tog = knit two together

Pattern:

Note - gauge doesn't really matter with this pattern - I used the needle size recommended on the yarn band of my DK yarn.

Hat brim:

With white yarn CO 32 stitches.

K six rows


Body:

Row 1 = K all sts
Row 2 = P all sts

Repeat rows 1 and 2 for 8 rows.

Crown shaping:

Row 1 = (K2tog, K6) repeat to end
Row 2 = Purl all sts
Row 3 = (K2tog, K5) repeat to end
Row 4 = P
Row 5 = (K2tog, K4) repeat to end
Row 6 = P
Row 7 = (K2tog, K3) repeat to end
Row 8 = P
Row 9 =K2tog, repeat to end
Row 10 = P – eight stitches left on the needle

Finishing:

Break yarn leaving a long tail – you will use this to sew the seam.

Thread the yarn through the eight stitches on the needle and pull tight.

Seam the hat using mattress stitch.

Sew a pompom on top and thread onto a ribbon or string to hang on the tree.