Monday, August 30, 2010

The Magic Sleeping Jacket

Six years ago, my friend H was pregnant with twins. Husby and I were in the UK for a holiday and we picked up a whole suite of baby clothes for the twins from Baby Gap. (Love Baby Gap, can't wait until we get one here!) All matching fabric but different pieces, because personally I think it's tooo much for twins to wear the exact same clothes, but sweet when they match but not, if that makes sense.

In a most appreciated touch, six years down the track, H presented me with these two jackets (plus a pair of trousers) remaining from the original suite:
The really cool thing about them is that they are reversible, with wild animal fabric on one side and plain contrast fabric on the other side. And like all baby clothes which are worn for such a short period of time, they look as good as new!
About a month or so ago, Connor started sleeping for 5 or 6 hours (one night, it was even 7 hours!) through the night, from his last feed at about 10.30-11pm. Weeeeeeeeeee! That night, in addition to his usual all-in-one jumpsuit, he was wearing one of these jackets. We decided, as you do, that the jacket simply must be responsible for this excellent sleep development, and so he has worn it every night since (thank goodness we've got two of them) ... I don't know what we'll do when he no longer fits into the Magic Sleeping Jackets!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Road Trip

Last weekend, we had to travel to my home town for the funeral of a much loved aunt (my mum's brother's wife) who died suddenly and unexpectedly. She was, as they say, a pillar of the community, in the way you can be in a small country town. We think around 500 people attended her funeral, which is pretty amazing given the population of the town is around 3500-4000 people.

While it was terribly sad, there were some upsides to the trip - we were able to see how Connor would handle a 6 hour drive (very well!), and more importantly, we were able to introduce him to all of his uncles and aunts on my side, as well as many of his great uncles and aunts, some of whom are in their late 80s and early 90s. And of course he charmed them all!

Another thing I always enjoy about travelling "home" (it'll always be "home" to me even though I'll never live there again) is the trip itself, driving the familiar roads, seeing what has changed and what hasn't. For example, the last time I went home, I'm pretty sure these wind turbines weren't a feature of the trip:
And there wasn't nearly this much water alongside the road (my home town is in a very dry area of country NSW):
But the fields of canola:
And the wattle in flower:
And the grain silos alongside the railway line which runs parallel to the road:
are all things I'm very familiar with, and look out for along the way.

And I thought you'd like to see some sheep too, of course! Not sure what type these are, ours is a wheat/sheep district, it's too dry for dairy. It's lambing season already, and I spotted many of the little dudes with their mothers along the way.
The other thing I love about a country town is the way people are supported in times of crisis. My aunt's family had casseroles and cakes and biscuits and slices coming out their ears, and even my mum had friends bringing her food because they knew she'd have all her family at home for the funeral. Have you ever seen a sponge cake this yellow?
That's what you get with fresh eggs straight out of the chooks! Amazing! While I don't think I'd want to live at home again (there are a lot of downsides to the small town), the community aspect is a huge positive they have to offer. Not to mention being able to walk everywhere!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Up here for thinking

On Saturday, I attended a knitting workshop by Liz Gemmell, put on my my branch of the Knitters Guild of NSW. It was, I suppose, an introduction to designing your own knitwear - or adapting existing patterns, either in size or construction method or technique. Liz also told us a bit about her career as a knitwear designer and showed off some of her garments and other designs, including the most amazing knitted floor rug - knit in the round from the centre out, in traditional fair isle, into a square, using 12ply (bulky) wool and 4mm needles. Just amazing!

For homework, we were asked to knit a 25cm swatch - that's a big darn swatch, especially when you don't have as much time to knit as you used to, but it was worth it in this case. I decided to swatch for Olive, because I am so keen to knit and wear this! I used the Isager Strik Alpaca 2 yarn the pattern specifies (thanks Pru for destashing!!), which is a fingering weight 50/50 Alpaca/wool.
The newspaper is the pre-blocked size, the post-blocked swatch is underneath. I was surprised that the swatch didn't grow more in length on blocking, as alpaca usually will do that. I think I will reblock it, and hang it while damp - that will be a better measure of true gauge I think. I will not, however, shake and thwack it while dripping wet, as Liz advised. I just can't!

Liz suggests measuring gauge in 3 different spots on the swatch, and averaging. An interesting exercise, as my gauge did differ a little bit over the swatch (by 1 stitch or 1 row).
I've decided I'm going to alter the pattern a bit - I love the gathered neckline and striped garter edging, but I think the blouson style body will just make me look pregnant. I could just not decrease before the garter edge on the bottom, but as there is no shaping in the body, I think that will also look like a maternity top. So I'm planning on putting in waist shaping. I'm glad the pattern is knit all in one piece from the top down, as that will make it a lot easier for me to try on as I go, but I will also, as Liz taught, draw out the pattern in its entirety before knitting it, and ensure my gauge and measurements will all match up (that's the "up here for thinking" reference).

Yeah, maths. Not my favourite way to spend an afternoon, but it will be worth it I hope, to ensure the fit of this garment is what I want it to be. Because really, my hatred of frogging is far greater than my dislike of a few sums!

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Journey's end

Over the last couple of months, I've been experiencing something a bit foreign to me. A few things, actually. Firstly, I've been off journeying in the otherworld of cardigan. I've shared with you my time in Sleeveland, Backville and East and West Frontdales. Since my last report, I've been to Seaming Heights and Collar Ridge too (can you believe it?!).

The other thing foreign to me is that I've been experiencing (relative) project monogamy. I have never, by any means, been a monogamous knitter. You just need to look at my WIP list in the sidebar to see that I can't resist having a bunch of projects on the sticks. And having so many WIPS is no barrier to starting something else new. But I've discovered that, with a baby in the house, if I'm going to get any projects finished, I pretty much just need to work on that one thing until it's done. And then start on the next one ... (although I do still have a couple of other projects at hand in case I need a portable project or, you know, I get bored, or whatever).

And guess what happens when you practice project monogamy? You get an FO! Who'da thunk it!!
Pattern: Retrofit by Jesse Loesberg, from Knitty Fall 2008. A simple raglan cardigan, knit in pieces, with a zipper up the front. I know I could have avoided seaming by knitting this all in one piece, but when I started it a week before Connor arrived, I really wasn't up to converting the pattern, especially as I've never converted a pattern in this way before (although I reckon I could do it now if I was to knit another raglan cardigan!). I also don't mind knitting a garment in pieces, because even though in the end it's the same amount of knitting, it somehow seems to be quicker when you just work on a piece at a time - shorter rows and faster growth - not to mention more portable.
Yarn: Good old Cascade 220 - just under 6 x 100g skeins in Olive Heathers (9448), and about 50g in 9408 Cordovan (brown). Love lovely Cascade. Knits up quickly, wears well, looks great. And is very economical! I've said it before, but if I had to, I think I'd be quite happy to only knit with c220 forever!

Sticks: I used 4.5mm KnitPicks Harmony Options for the main parts, and 4mm for the cuffs, collar and turned hem on the body.
Time: 1 May 2010 - 6 August 2010 (well, I have to confess...I haven't sewn in the zipper yet...but I'm still counting this as an FO!!)

Modifications: The original pattern uses the contrast yarn for the sleeves and collar, and the turned hem. Husby wasn't so keen on this look, so I just used the contrast yarn on the sleeve cuff edges, the turned hem, and the edges of the collar - I like the original but I'm also very happy with the way this has turned out too. I also did a provisional cast on for the body pieces, so I could turn the hem as I knit, rather than seaming it at the end, as specified by the pattern.
If I was to make it again, I would probably convert it to be seamless and knit from the top down, but you know, I am pretty proud of my seaming!!
Since it was a lovely sunny winter's day today, we walked up to the park today for the photo shoot - here's an action shot on the way home (you'll have to believe me about the sun, it was getting a bit later in the day by the time I took this photo).
And here's my boys in their knitwear:
(I have enough of the c220 leftover to make a matching version for the little guy, which I'll do for next year I think, much to husby's horror, heh heh!)

Monday, August 02, 2010

Keeping Track - July 2010

And so another month rolls around. It doesn't seem that long ago that I did the last Keeping Track post. I suppose that's what happens when you only do a few posts each month, rather than a post or two each week like I used to do!
It's been a big month for the stash ins and outs - but fortunately, despite bringing this:
and this:
and this:
in to the stash, I managed to actually come out ahead (or behind, depending on your perspective) this month, through gifting some yarn to others more deserving! And a bit of knitting on my own part too!
I couldn't resist the Isager when it came up for destash (thanks Pru!) - the right amount for me to make Olive, a pattern I've long loved and wanted to make (it will be next on the sticks after I've done with Retrofit and something else which I'll reveal later this month!). And when Ailsa did a red in her fiftyfifty, well, I couldn't resist. And the Yarntini is more of the self-striping club yarn, which really shouldn't count, should it! But it does, yes it does.
In: 12 x 50g balls
Out: 13.5 x 50g balls (woo-hoo!)
YTD: +25 x 50g balls - or an average of just over 4 balls per month! My average/month is getting better and better as the year goes on!