Friday, 29 January 2010

FO: Slimy Sea slug

I finished this a while back but never got round to taking pictures of it. I have this little rule you see: my 6 year old isn't allowed the toy until his mum has taken pictures of it. And today, finally, I remember to take it to the beach and I even remembered to take the camera along (last time I left my camera at home and only had my crappy iPhone camera with me).

So without further ado, here's the Slimy Sea Slug:

There's a little story behind it. Last year we had toxic sea slugs on our beaches and needless to say our curious little boy was fascinated by them. Every time we were at the beach he spent ages looking, in the hope of spotting one. And unfortunately for him, lucky for me and for all the other beach goers, he never found one. So when I came across this gorgeous Garden Slug pattern, I just had to knit it.

I also had the perfect yarn for it, dkKnits in Times Square. This is probably my favourite yarn colour ever, it is the right mix of different colours without it getting too colourful. Here are my socks I knit with it. The pattern is called Maeby by Feministy, an amazing designer.

Unfortunately Becky from dkKnits had some serious health issues last year and can't stir her dye pot anymore due to the vinegar fumes. It's a real shame because not only did she love dyeing and even had an cool customized hand-dyed yarn club, but I thought she was extremely talented at it too. She had a such a creative vibe. And on top of all that, she's always been so friendly. I never suspected what she was going through until she told me. And she's sending me a big box of yarn that she custom-dyed for me last year. Can't wait to get it!

Anyway back to the slug. The pattern is fiddly and easy. And yes, you can use fiddly and easy in the same sentence. You see, although knitting tiny things are always fiddly, if you have a pattern that explains it so well and has pictures in it, so you can't mess it up, you end up being very surprised at how easy it all was. The whole slug only takes a couple of hours to knit and that includes the fiddly little bits.

The body is all knitted in one piece. And the only thing that needs to be sewn on are the lips. So really it's a very easy pattern and I'm definitely making more of these.

Perfect yarn + perfect pattern = perfect slug.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Sari silk yarn? Yeah, right!

In this hot and muggy weather, knitting is a sticky business. Nevertheless, I did manage to play around with my recycled sari silk yarn on Sunday. Remember I got this little skein in my NZ Yarn Sampler box? Coincidently, I also got a huge skein from a very generous person who unstashed her yarn stash and left me this huge bag full of gorgeous and interesting balls of yarn. And as soon as the school holidays are over I'm going to call all the knitting homeschoolers in my area and have a wonderful and exciting yarny afternoon! There are some real treasures in there: merino wool, alpaca, hand-dyed yarn and of course this huge skein of recycled sari silk yarn.

The photo doesn't do it justice and it doesn't show how bright and vibrant the colours truly are. But that unfortunately, is about how far the good things of sari silk go. It's near impossible to knit. The yarn is stiff, don't even think of doing k2tog, and if you pull too hard, like when you're ripping back, it doesn't break, it just comes apart. Literally. Into little threads.

Still, I persevered and wanted to try and knit something with it. I thought a little heart would be cute. And for some reason knitting a swatch didn't cross my mind.

Anyway I thought I could knit a Love Heart which I designed for worsted wool. And that's where the problems started. I casted on and then kfb. Yeah, right! Ok, let's try something else. I ripped it out (and ripped the yarn), casted on again and did yo's instead of kfb. And everything seemed well until I got to the decreases. There is no way you can knit two stitches at once with sari silk. It's just isn't flexible enough. So I improvised and slipped a stitch over the one I knitted, either before or after, depending on how I wanted the stitch to lean. All good and well and then the last but oh-so-crucial bit of knitting: binding off. How on earth was I going to bind off? Normally I'd be doing a kitchener stitch to make the seam invisible. But I knew I didn't have a needle with a hole large enough to pull the yarn through. So I just used the standard bind off and as I feared it didn't look very good. It looks rather bumpy at the top.

But at least it does look like a heart.

So now I decided to have a look on Ravelry to see what others have knitted with sari silk. Don't ask me why I didn't do that before I started experimenting. It would have been the sensible thing to do. But I set my mind on something, sensible does not come into it. LOL

But you know what I found on Ravelry? There aren't many patterns or ideas out there for recycled sari silk. Mainly bags, scarves and shawls and more bags and more scarves and lots and lots of frogged projects. I'm not a huge fan of the shawls in sari silk. And bags? Well, it seems when you run out of ideas, you knit a bag. At least the bags looked ok. But hey, there must be more you can do with recycled sari silk than just a bag?

If anyone comes up with a good idea what I can do with my sari silk, I'd love to hear it! Seriously!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

NZ Yarn Sampler

Look what was waiting for me when we got back from the beach today:

The long awaited New Zealand Yarn Sampler Box from Blendy. I felt like a kid in a candy store. All these gorgeous, colourful goodies!

I was really happy to see some gorgeous yarns in there. The one I was especially happy about was the Southern Alpacas yarn sample.

I've never knitted with Alpaca before even though you see these animals all over New Zealand now. The yarn is very soft and beautiful, a bit similar to a soft merino wool. I love the bright sunny colours!

Another sample I was very happy to see in the box was a Bamboo Merino Sock blend from Grrrl Shaped Yarns.

This beautiful sea-blue colourway is called Marina and is exclusive for this Sampler Box.

Something I've never seen before is this yarn sample from Yarn Traders:

It's recycled sari silk made in India. The vibrant colours are gorgeous, but I'm not sure what you can knit from it. It seems a bit stiff and unflexible to knit. Maybe an ornament or something?

And then I got this wool sample from Touch Yarns, a blend of kid mohair and merino. Very soft and very loopy!

What I really like about this sampler box is that it's full of beautiful goodies from New Zealand businesses. Most of my hand dyed yarns I get from the States or the UK. Which seems paradox really, knowing that New Zealand is THE land of sheep and wool. But it's not that easy finding our own kiwi dyers. And that's why I really love this sampler box. Now I've got new places to check out and yarns to try out. And I also have samples I never had before, like the Alpaca or the Sari Silk. And then there are a range of other cool goodies that I haven't even mentioned yet.

From Marshmallow Magic Designs I received a pattern and leather soles for baby booties. And two very handy crochet stitch markers (I really needed those!). Talking about stitch markers, did you notice you can never have enough of them? I've just casted on a new shawl which has used up all of my stitch markers. I had to go looking in all my stash for some lost stitch markers so that I had enough for my shawl. So I'm really happy to see two stitch markers in the sampler box from Deena Kirk. And the nice thing about these ones is that they're big enough to use on large needles too. Thank you, Deena!!!

And last but definitely not least, one I really want to mention and show is a tussah silk fibre sample from Tracy White. I love these bright, vibrant colours. And tussah silk has this beautiful sheen to it. Unfortunately I don't spin, but my mum does, so she's going to have to do this one for me.

There are lots more nice goodies and samples in the box. There are so many, I can't describe them all. And they're all gorgeous! Thanks Blendy for organising this sample box!

Monday, 11 January 2010

Love Hearts

The past week I've been knitting lots and lots of hearts! These are just the ones from the last Wednesday.

I wanted to design a heart pattern that didn't need any sewing up and you could knit in one go. I also wanted it to look good both felted and unfelted.

It took me a while to tweak the corners and get the heart all nicely rounded and tidy.

As you can see the hot pink heart behind the light pink heart is one of my earlier prototypes. It still looks a bit bumpy. But the light pink heart is how it should be: all nice and round.

I'm going to felt the rest of them and sell them at Craftworld (Westgate, Auckland).

The pattern (free) is now up at Ravelry: Love Hearts