Saturday, 30 April 2011

What day is it? (And a lesson learned)

With almost every day a Bank Holiday at the moment, I don't quite know where I am this week. It's completely confusing!!! Whatever the day, yesterday was wonderful! I really enjoyed the Royal Wedding (Woyal Redding as My Boy called it) from the comfort of the sofa with only a few annoying interruptions from the little ones - typically just as the couple were saying their vows. 

Wonderful music, trees INSIDE Westminster Abbey, beautiful dresses, a very happy looking couple (I loved the way William was looking at Kate - like the cat who got the cream) and the pomp and ceremony befitting the wedding of our future King. I know it may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I LOVED it. 

Afterwards we headed outside to join our fabulous neighbours in a Street Party. Well more of a Cul-de-sac Party really, but it was perfect. We are one of five families in our little nook and it worked brilliantly - the entrance was closed so the children could play freely and we all enjoyed a proper "tea", complete with sandwiches, Pimm's, Champagne, jam & cream scones, music (mostly good, although Kylie & Jason somehow managed to SNEAK in!) and lots of flags and bunting. 

We haven't been here long and don't know the other families very well, so this was also a perfect opportunity to chat and for the children to all play together. Wonderful. 

This morning I got an unexpected and unwelcome lesson in wool felting when I came home from Body Balance to realise that the Mini-Me Rainbow Cardi I made for Little Miss had been in the regular machine wash. Too much laundry and too little attention  *sob* 

It's now a tiny felted short-sleeved jacket, perhaps another gift for my friend's newborn...?

I am so gutted to have done this *shakes head* - she wore this a lot and it looked lovely on her. The yarn (Lion Brand Amazing Aurora) isn't available in the UK and I'd paid to have it shipped from Malta, so I  will have to wait until I need to get something else that will justify the shipping costs - hardly worth it for one ball. 

In the meantime she will now need an alternative "wear with anything" cardigan so I'd best get onto it! 

Hope you have a lovely weekend, whatever you are doing.
Friday, 29 April 2011

FO Friday: Ta-dah! I snuck in another one!!!

Yet again, I finished the Rainbow Sorbet Cardi-shrug with not many minutes of Friday left! And again an awful dark picture - better pics and also some from our lovely Royal Wedding day Street Party to follow tomorrow. 
Night night! 

Edited to add: I have now updated my Ravelry project notes with some daylight photos and details of the modifications I made to the pattern this time around. 

Ta-dah! Fluted cardigan for MamAmor doll - with knitting instructions

After the simple scrap yarn waistcoat I posted a  few days ago, I decided to design a figure-flattering cardigan for our MamAmor doll. Something that would look equally good when she's 'pregnant' as when she's nursing her baby. So today's "Finished Object" is the latest in our mama's (growing) collection. I can't tell you how delighted I am with this cardigan. It's one of the most satisfying things I have made to date, because I made the pattern up myself and it turned out exactly as I had intended it should.

Materials used
  • Approx 75g yarn for long sleeved version ( I used a100g ball of Wendy Supreme Luxury Cotton DK - gauge 5 sts per inch)
  • 3.50 mm circular needles or appropriate needles for yarn. The body is made flat, but I made the sleeves using the magic loop method, or you could knit them flat and sew them up if you prefer
  • 4 stitch markers
  • 1 small button

Cast on 36 stitches

Rows 1, 2 & 3 (collar):  knit
Row 4: K6, PM, K7, PM, K10, PM, K7, PM, K6
Row 5K2, purl to last 2 stitches, K2

Row 6: *knit to 1 stitch before marker, M1, K1, SM, K1, M1, repeat from *
Repeat rows 5 & 6 x 7 - until there are 26 stitches on the back section 

sleeve sts on spare cables
Row 21 (RS): (Remove stitch markers on this row) K2, P to 1st marker, put sleeve stitches on a spare cable or scrap yarn, purl to 3rd marker, put sleeve stitches on a spare cable or scrap yarn, purl to last 2 sts, K2
Row 22: knit
Row 23: K2, purl to last 2 stitches, K2
Rows 24 - 27: knit all stitches

Row 28: K2, YO, [K1, KFB] until last 3 stitches, K3
Row 29: K2, purl to last 2 stitches, K2
Row 30: Knit
Repeat rows 29 & 30 until approximately 1" before desired length
shaped to flatter mama curves
Next row (RS): K3, [YO, K1] to last 3 stitches, K3
Repeat rows 29 & 30 twice more
Then: knit the last four rows and bind off loosely.

It's really up to you which length sleeve you prefer and if you'd like them plain or more detailed, or maybe you don't want any at all. You can simply adjust the following instructions to achieve the look you want. The beauty of knitting in one piece is that you can try it on the doll as often as you like during the process and make any changes or adjustments as you go. The following instructions will give you the cardigan pictured in the photos at the top of this post. 
magic loop: sts can look a bit messy until washed
  • Pick up the stitches for the first sleeve, and knit all stitches. 
  • Join in the round using a marker to note the start of the round.  (If you prefer not to use magic loop knitting, you can knit the sleeve stitches straight and then join using mattress stitch for an almost invisible join.)
  • After 17 rounds or when you are ready for the sleeve to increase: [K1, KFB] repeat to end of the round
  • Knit all stitches until you the sleeve is approximately 2" shorter than the desired length (for the cardigan pictured, I made 7 rounds after the increase)
  • [YO, K2tog] to end of the round
  • Knit the next 3 rounds
  • Purl one round
  • Knit one round
  • Purl one round
  • Bind off loosely
Repeat as above for the second sleeve. 

To finish: 
  • Sew in loose ends and close the gaps underneath the arms
  • Sew button opposite the yarn over hole in row 28
  • Wash before use - this will also tighten up any loose stitches on the sleeves from the magic loop (maybe it's my novice technique, but with tiny items like the top of these sleeves, some stitches can appear a little stretched and messy prior to washing, as in the picture above) 
Please note: I have written these instructions whilst knitting up the cardigan from an idea I had. I hope they are clear enough to follow. If you follow the pattern and something doesn't make sense or you notice errors, please do let me know. I'd love to see any items you make from these notes, please feel free to link to them or to email a picture :) 
EDITED: There is now a Ravelry project page for this pattern. 

For instructions on how to make the more basic waistcoat using a small amount of left over yarn, click here

You can see other FOs by clicking the links at Tami's Amis blog.
Thursday, 28 April 2011

A lunchtime meditation

Spotted on the school run today

"Earth, 114 million years ago, one morning just after sunrise: The first flower ever to appear on the planet opens up to receive the rays of the sun. Prior to this momentous event that heralds an evolutionary transformation in the life of plants, the planet had already been covered in vegetation for millions of years. The first flower probably did not survive for long, and flowers must have remained rare and isolated phenomena, since conditions were most likely not yet favorable for a widespread flowering to occur. One day, however, a critical threshold was reached, and suddenly there would have been an explosion of color and scent all over the planet - if a perceiving consciousness had been there to witness it.

Much later, those delicate and fragrant beings we call flowers would come to play an essential part in the evolution of consciousness of another species. Humans would increasingly be drawn to and fascinated by them. As the consciousness of human beings developed, flowers were most likely the first thing they came to value that had no utilitarian purpose for them, that is to say, was not linked in some way to survival. They provided inspiration to countless artists, poets and mystics. Jesus tells us to contemplate the flowers and learn from them how to live. The Buddha is said to have given a "silent sermon" once during which he held up a flower and gazed at it. After a while, one of those present, a monk called Mahakasyapa, began to smile. He is said to have been the only one who had understood the sermon. According to legend, that smile (that is to say, realisation) was handed down by twenty-eight successive masters and much later became the origin of Zen."

Chapter 1, The Flowering of Human Consciousness.
Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Catch up: Hunting, glamping & two candles!

Since the weekend, life has been a whirlwind! I don't know what happened, maybe time slowed down or something, but we seem to have done quite a lot over the long Bank Holiday weekend - even longer for us, we had an extra day as yesterday was an Inset Day at the school.

I think I mentioned we were going on an egg hunt - the children LOVED it - they had a wonderful time. Thankfully My Boy isn't really into chocolate and he found most of them, so D was delighted when enough chocolate was collected to last about a year.

After that, Nanna (my Mum) and I headed across Sussex with the children for some "glamping" in a Mongolian yurt at Wowo Campsite.  I haven't been camping for a loooooong time, and wasn't sure what to expect with two small people in tow but was very pleasantly surprised. 

The yurt was fantastic (exactly as it looked on the website!), large and included a gas stove, futons and a woodburner. 

Outside was a great campfire spot and picnic area all backing onto a brook and surrounded by wildflowers including bluebells and wild garlic.

The main thing missing, and the ONLY thing I didn't like about our tinier-than-mini mini-break was the toileting. We were very close to an eco toilet *deep breath, hold nose* ...

...but I really couldn't bring myself to use it and instead had to walk 10 minutes to the "proper" flushing toilet. The children were both (thank goodness!!) happy to use a potty when we were back at the yurt, which could be emptied in the eco-loo so they were not traumatised by the gaping hole with its deeply unpleasant view. Not ideal, but certainly not enough to spoil it, and it's fair to say the little ones had a TREMENDOUS time. It's reassuring to see how little 'stuff' they actually need to stay entertained and happy when they have the time and freedom to play and explore.

Highlights for the kids were Nanna's cooking on the campfire, the rope swings, and getting really really DIRTY! 

And for me, it was just so good to see them enjoying fun time with my mum. 

We took numerous crafting supplies but the fine weather kept us mostly out-doors and the closest I got to making something was a couple of improvised egg cups. 

As I have discovered any time I've been away from home with a toddler and young child, it was hard work for the adults,  but it was a real adventure for them and I hope they will remember it fondly. We all arrived back home stinking of campfire smoke, and completely exhausted with a mountain of laundry and a very full photo album :) 

If all that wasn't enough.... after such a very busy extended weekend, Little Miss turned two today! 


WIP Wednesday (27/4/11)

Back from our trip (more on that later) and after trying NOT to knit this before going away so I'd have something to do, I managed a grand total of FOUR rows while we were 'glamping'!!!!! 

So still in progress a whole week after starting it (eek), my Rainbow Sorbet Shrug

I'm also about to cast on a cardigan for our Mamamor doll, as part two of the instructions I posted a few days ago. 

I have so much to catch up and am looking forward to seeing how everyone else is getting on with their WIPs by following this link to Tami's Amis. 
Monday, 25 April 2011

Ta-dah! Raglan Doll/Teddy Waistcoat Pattern

Materials used
- scrap yarn ( I used Lang Yarns Mille Colori scraps - gauge 4 sts per inch)
- 4mm circular needles or appropriate needles for yarn
- 4 stitch markers

I made this to fit our MamAmor pregnant, birthing & breastfeeding doll but the pattern can be adjusted to fit other sizes of doll or teddy bear. 

Cast on 26 stitches
Rows 1 & 2: knit
Row 3: K4, PM, K5, PM, K8, PM, K5, PM, K4
Row 4: K2, purl to last 2 stitches, K2
Row 5: *knit to 1 stitch before marker, M1, K1, SM, K1, M1, repeat from *
Repeat rows 4 & 5 until there are 22 stitches on the back section
Next row (WS): K2, P to 1st marker, remove marker, bind off sleeve sts, purl to next marker, remove marker, bind off sleeve sts, purl to last 2 sts, K2
Even rows: knit all stitches
Odd rows: K2, purl to last 2 sts, K2

Knit until desired length and knit the last 3 rows before binding off. Sew in ends.

A long sleeved cardigan version with additional shaping can be found here.
Sunday, 24 April 2011

Sunny Days & lessons in life (and death)

Our 'Spring Shelf'
What a beautiful weekend it is here... and still plenty of it left to enjoy yet.  We are heading to D's sister's this morning for an Egg Hunt and a roast as the pre-cursor to a couple of days glamping.  

I had snuck off to the Cwtch with my cuppa and BBC Breakfast streaming on my iPad to write my post while the others were all playing upstairs, but have been located after only one paragraph! And I have so much to share with you that will now have to wait. Nevermind, it will keep.

To all who celebrate it - Happy Easter! I suppose I could best be described as a Naturalistic Pantheist so Easter doesn't have any religious significance for me, but I have really enjoyed having My Boy home for a couple of weeks and this lovely long family weekend that is a result of the various bank holidays.

'Good Friday' was indeed pretty good. We all marked it with another trip to  Winkworth Arboretum. The ten days since our last visit have seen the ground turn into a carpet of bluebells. The trees are now fully 'leafed-up' and ready to take in the warm sun. I won't try to describe it, you can see for yourself.

My Boy with his favourite tree - can you see him?
Just after this photo was taken a load of other children started clambering over "his" tree and he got ridiculously upset about it. There are lots of lessons that can be learned from nature, and quite unexpectedly there was an especially tough one for him in this. 

One of the reasons that Winkworth has become really important to me is that I've used it to teach My Boy about the cycles of life as much as the changing seasons in nature. When I was pregnant we marked the passing months there in anticipation and awaited the blossom that would come just before our April baby. And while we were waiting, when the dead leaves were already turning into skeletons on the ground, his Grandpa died. (After the recent "Easter" assemblies at school I've also had to explain that dead people don't actually come back to life. Another hard lesson.)  We returned to Winkworth to talk about those leaves then, and how they would go back into the earth and feed the new growth.  

And you know the truly wonderful thing about seeing the natural cycles in that one place?  In the same spot we saw those skeleton leaves there ARE now pretty flowers and new little tree shoots.... and so it goes on... 

My children may not understand all the words but they can see and feel it. For me, this is a deeply instinctive, satisfying and coherent way of explaining life (and death). No beliefs required, it just IS. Whatever your personal beliefs, and whatever you are doing today, I hope you all have a very lovely Sunday xxx

FO Friday: Ta-dah - the pinboard is done!!

Well I *think* I have finished making flowers for the pinboard. I am finding these little yo yo flowers to be a bit addictive so I would not totally rule out any later additions, but for now it's ready to go on the wall.

Maybe I'll just a FEW more flowers now for brooches :)

As this is not knitted or crocheted,  I won't be linking to this post from Tami's Amis but you may like to head over there and see what other people have been finishing. 

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