Friday, 23 July 2010


A dreamy week in photographs...

Wild, windswept white sands edge the entire west coast of Harris.

See, the sun did come out.

Would you look at those grey rain clouds!

The colours were beautiful.

Fishing boat at Rodel, the most Southernly point of the island, where we were staying.

The pier at Rodel.

St Clement's Church, a 16th Century little gem.

Summery meadow at Huishnish, on our favourite day.

Cotton flowers abounded...

... as did irises...

... and waterlillies, in every pond, puddle and lochan.

Holiday Part II

Summer cherries. Brought home on Monday night by DH. Lovely.
The second week in Scotland was spent with my family in Speyside. Much knitting was done, amongst lots of other wonderful activities.

Our friend Sheena gave me her 1950's editions of Vogue and others that she had been given by her friend Jessie. They're so interesting and fun to browse through. Bed-jacket with sleeves that extend into gloves, anyone? Mohair "thorn" crown?

My Mum sent me home with the most beautiful Araucania skein hidden in my luggae. What a treat! I've never bought this before, but have always wanted to try it, and these colours are so tantilising. I feel a pair of miniature socks coming on...

I had already bought in Three Bags Wool (the best ever shop, and now in a larger, better shop space in Craigellachie). This is destined for a sweet little cardie from an edition of The Knitter.

I also bought some pure white merino for a cabled blanket from Simply Baby.

My Mum is making the most adorable sleepy suit in aqua and off-white alpaca - the softest ever!

We cooked a lot together while I was there, which I always love so much. This is a poached salmon for friends who came over, garnished with nasturtiums.

Followed by a strawberry and lemon tart, which looked like Strawberry Shortcake, and was deeelicious.

I didn't want to leave!
So what's OTN? This is a clue...

... I'll leave you to guess, but it's Artesano Alpaca in Aran, a lovely powder blue. Progress is going well, but not as quickly as I would have hoped, given the weight of the yarn.
Back soon with more knitting updates, I'm sure.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Provence Cardigan

This is the Provence Cardigan by Cecily Glowik MacDonald for Classic Elite Yarns.
Though I loved the teal version in the original pattern, I happened to have this fuschia in my stash (are we all proud of my stash-busting?!).
I'm really pleased with this. I made the 6-9 months size (I'm covering all ranges of sizing at the moment).

It's a fast, easy, delightful knit, with just a little lace to make it interesting. Notice the leaves at the bottom of the two fronts? I'm not mad about lace, but this little detail is subtle and really finishes the piece off perfectly. The leaves are so sweet and pretty.
It's edged in moss stitch at the ends of the sleeves and bottom of the cardigan. You'll notice the neck edge has a garter edging instead. I had originally immediately decided to convert the neck edge to moss stitch to mirror the rest of the garment, but in reality this would lead to all sorts of messy stitches and fudging around the corners. The garter that the designer used works so much better and she was right to do it.

As you may already have guessed, I converted this pattern to knit it in one piece, merely picking up stitches around the arm-holes to create the sleeves. As usual, I'm pleased I did that, as it makes everything go so much quicker, results in no seaming and I think little bodies would appreciate not having abrasive edges inside the cardigan rubbing against their skin.

There was a minor issue with the sleeves as I of course had to reverse the shaping as I knit them first of all top down, and second of all in the round. They worked out perfectly though.

I seamed the tops using Mattress Stitch, but could have easily done a 3-Needle Bind-Off, and that may have been even neater; I do love a good 3-needle bind-off. Oh well, next time.

I will almost definitely make another one, probably in a larger size and perhaps in lavender, teal or powder blue. This pattern seems to look good in every colour.

Lastly, before I sew them on, can I ask you for your advice: the buttons. All through knitting this cardigan, which only took about a week (and remember I only have evenings free to knit), I had imagined it with mother-of-pearl buttons. I had imagined little heart ones. Can you believe that in the huge button stash I didn't have anything suitable, (only little flower-shaped mother-of-pearl ones that were too small)? What a shame, I had to go and source some new ones! Of course, I knew exactly where to go and as soon as I got back from my holiday, snatched them up on Monday at lunchtime.
I'd be grateful if you would take a look at the following options, and let me know your feelings. I am now leaning strongly towards the round ones, as I feel the hearts could distract from the leaves in the cardigan, which should really be the only decorative feature. Anyway, I'd appreciate your opinions:

Option One, Mother-of-Pearl Hearts:

Option Two, Mother-of-Pearl Rounds:

Or something else altogether?

Baby Shrug

This is the Baby Shrug by Debbie Bliss from Simply Baby.

This is the most wonderful book. I want to make almost everything in it, which is a miracle considering I bought it without having seen it beforehand. I already have the yarn (yes of course, new purchases - yarn ban, what yarn ban?) for a couple of other projects, including a striped jumper. I have also got this yarn, Cashmerino Aran in dusty pink to make a larger version of the same bolero. I had never bought a Debbie Bliss book before, never mind a baby one, as I'd been saving this as a treat over the years. Now I'm so glad I've finally succumbed.
The Cashmerino Aran is the softest, most beautiful yarn and knits up so well (and quickly - bonus); I can't believe I haven't knitted with it before. This little shrug, size 3-6 months took two evenings when DH and I were on holiday.
Don't you love the lavendar colour? I wasn't sure when I picked it out as I don't normally go for this colour, but I'm so in love with it now!
When I was making it I couldn’t see how the sleeves were going to be long enough for arms, but they worked out fine. You knit the entire garment in one piece (can you see why I chose this pattern?!). Actually I chose it before I read through the pattern, and the one-piece-factor was a pleasant bonus. Then you just pick up stitches almost all around to create the ribbed edging. Sounds complicated, but wasn't in the slightest.
Sewing up the sides under the arms was a bit tricky. They aren’t the same length, so they’re gathered a bit at the back under the arm, but I think it’ll be fine when it’s on.

My only criticism of my version is that the front of mine looks curvier than the rounded curve of that in the book, but I didn't go wrong anywhere according to the pattern, and followed it faithfully. I'm sure it will straighten itself out once it's on a little body.

Friendship Booties

Friendship Booties by Lorna Miser (yes, she of Lorna's Laces fame) from Faith, Hope, Love, Knitting.
How sweet are these? My friend Jayne says I made her cry when she saw the photos! They're so tiny, and will encompass a newborn foot so well. All you need to do is tie the ribbon snuggly.

Now, I know they're not a complex pattern and won't fit for very long; they're just a bit of fun but I enjoyed making them and am really pleased with the result.
Each booty is basically a square of knitted fabric, with eyelets along two opposite sides, through which you thread your choice of ribbon. I chose a rainbow stripe that I happened to have in my ribbon stash. Yes, you've guessed it, for as long as I've had the button problem, I've had a ribbon stash, though I wouldn't say it's quite as serious... yet. (You need only search the blog for the word button to find the myriad posts dedicated to the wondrous things!).
The ribbon is very girly, though it could have been worse (I have metres of pink gingham, grosgrain pink edged in dashed white lines, even birds and hearts). For a boy I would change the ribbon (fear not, boys are also catered for in the ribbon section).
Although I'm not religious in any way (the book is quite spiritual), I really fell in love with the ethos behind this book , when I found it when on holiday in the States last year: as Lorna says, "Each story has a knitting project that relates to that friendship". Though there are a few projects in the book which don't appeal to my personal taste, the story behind these miniature booties really touched me.
Though I can't put it as well as her, when Lorna designed these booties she had recently started looking after bunnies with a friend, with the aim of using their fur to spin and knit with. Thus the angora became these little booties for three new Mums when Lorna had her first daughter, along with two others who became friends. One of the other Mums took to the spinning and dyeing of Lorna's angora so much that she eventually set up a knitting and spinning business with Lorna. Apparently their daughters are still friends today, ever since they met in their little angora booties as newborns.
I didn't use pure angora, but Sirdar Snuggly instead as I was struggling to find bulky weight angora. However, they're still extremely soft, snuggly and sufficiently fuzzy to have that "aaww" factor!


This is Elfin by Woolly Wormhead from her inspirational Wee Woolly Toppers book.
I made the biggest size, 6-12 months, thinking it would be fun for a little boy when he grows a bit.
I love the way the colours merge into each other (ah, the magic of Noro), although again there was some minor colour selection from me.

It's a great shape, and should keep a little head warm.

I'd recommend this pattern. It's a quick and easy knit in a 1x1 rib, with some clever decreasing (to account for the rib) at the crown. I really love Woolly Wormhead's hats. She a genius in headgear! I've also made Buzzbee from the same book before, and have my eye on some more, Tubey and Doodie amongst others.
I'm sure it will look much better when it's on a head, I'm afraid the grapefruit I tried to photograph it on just wasn't cutting it!