Category Archives: Craft

FO: Rainbow Baby Tank Top

After finishing Mr Awesome’s Socks a few weeks ago using Regia’s Pairfect yarn, I had written about my intention to use the same line of yarn in a non-sock project. The yarn is specifically designed for use in sock knitting, made to produce two perfectly paired socks, however I hoped to manipulate the single 100g skein to combine lengths of matching colour usually given across two socks to give longer stretches of colour over the larger circumference of (in this case) a tank top for a (very soon) one year old.
I knit this tank top freehand, working to Baby Awesome’s measurements as I went. After almost completing the project I decided that the length I had taken for the knit was perhaps a bit shorter than would have been ideal, so I adapted the bottom-up knit to lengthen the sleeve holes and shoulders, adding the press stud closures in case I needed to add further length to the sleeveless sweater.

As it happens, the length was fine, but the slightly deeper arm holes did drop the neckline to a very nice depth, so it all worked out well in the end.

When knitting the main part of the tank top I had to use two lengths of yarn to create each different coloured stripe, meaning that 18 lengths of yarn were used to knit the tank top before any edges were picked up and the ribbing knit. I decided to cheat a little and use a Russian join so that my evenings were not taken up doing nothing but weaving in ends. I like to do what I call a cheat’s Russian join, which negates the use of a darning needle (use of which is too close to weaving in ends to make much difference to me). As I had been asked about my technique for weaving in ends I posted the following quick explanation on my Instagram and Twitter account, so I have added it here for posterity:

Cheat’s Russian Join:
1:  loop old and new yarns (here two colours) as if they were linking arms. If ending at a particular point work out how much yarn it will take to knit to that point and create link there (I am changing colour at the marker and know roughly how much yarn it will take me to knit the six stitches to that point. It becomes very simple to judge after you’ve done it once or twice).
2:  knit with the doubled length of your current colour, up until the link (which I’ve chosen to be six stitches, ending at the marker).
3:  Slip marker and begin with new colour/yarn, again doubled at the link point.
4:  Knit with doubled yarn for six stitches, then drop short end and continue as normal. Both ends are worked in for six stitches either side of join.

The press stud closures are the standard type found on many baby clothes, but as these can be damaging to yarn the knitting is protected at the back by a very small amount of cotton jersey fabric, trimmed tight to the closure after application.

Though it would be great at this point to share a wonderfully modelled picture of the tank top, Baby Awesome is due to turn one next week, and he is full of fun, opinions, and most importantly baby wiggles. There is no picture where he is not scooting or crawling past the camera at such speed that he is basically a rainbow blur, so the only photo I have managed to catch is by laying him down, and even then he is such a little wriggly thing that the knitting ended up all bunched behind him. You’ll just have to imagine that it is neat and not covered in porridge by this point.

May you find happiness in your yarn. I’m off to try to finish baby Awesome’s next knitted gift, as I’d like to have it ready for his first birthday next week!

FO: Little Man At Work – Tools Of The Trade

Three long months have passed since I last updated this website, but I am sure that readers will forgive me as I have been working hard at the biggest project of my life: the never-ending WIP that is the Eskimini.

In the last three weeks alone, Baby Awesome has sat up from a laying position, then learned to crawl (then learned to crawl really fast) popped up his very first tooth and now he is to be found standing up next to any piece of furniture that he can get his hands on… It’s all very sudden and scary. Oh, and today he ate his first Jaffa Cake, which is obviously the achievement I am most proud of.

But I thought that all of this constant love and attention that Daddy Awesome and I heap upon him can’t just be given away for nothing, and that it is high time that Baby Awesome earned his keep. Therefore I have chosen for him a trade that he can both use to earn a bit of money and step in to do all of those outstanding DIY jobs. To welcome him to the world of work I have furnished him with his very own handmade tool belt.

“Can’t stop, mum, I’ve got a washing machine that needs staring at”.

I found this cute tool set and belt on Spoonflower, as a ready-printed sheet of fabric, but unfortunately the design appears to be no longer available for purchase, such is the length of time that it has taken me to actually make the set.

But now that I have finally dusted the sewing machine off I have another project planned, and if I happen to run into any troubles with the workings of the sewing machine, I know just the little guy to call to help fix it for me.

Lace Pattern Questionnaire: Charts & Instructions

Charts-and-instructions

Whilst working on a new pattern that is soon to be released, I thought a temperature check of knitters’ and readers’ pattern preferences might be useful, to make sure that future pattern releases are as relevant to the needs of those who might knit them as possible. As I am currently working on a new shawl release as well as a new scarf pattern, today I am focussing on lace patterns and specifically whether charted lace motifs and written instructions are required side by side, or if one type of instruction is preferred above the other. If you have a moment to spare, please could you help by filling out the questionnaire below? Comments/observations can be added to the questionnaire (may be published anonymously) or added to the post comments. Many thanks for your help!

The survey is now closed – I will bring news of the results in the next few days. Thank you to everyone who responded – I have a good amount of data to sort now!

Two New Patterns, One New Yarn And One Fantastic Cause

Today I have two new hat patterns ready for the world. On the left is Bloomin Marvellous, and on the right is Little Bud: a duo of hats that have been designed to celebrate and support women in children in need. The proceeds of this eBook, which compromises two hats (Bloomin’ Marvellous and Little Bud) will be donated to the women’s shelter charity Refuge.

The price for an eBook containing both patterns is set at a modest £3.50, however, if you would like to pay what you can, please visit This Page to make a donation (anything from £1, $1, €1, etc, up to whatever you can afford, more or less than the pattern (added to which benefit, no Paypal or Ravelry fees will be deducted, and no VAT if you are a UK taxpayer… Just pop your Ravelry name, email address or some other way to contact you in the comments section there, or drop me a line here or on Ravelry, and I will send your pattern (there may be a slight delay as I will not be at my computer all the time).

Both hats are designed to have a gathered crown which provides soft yarns with a lesser amount of structure the support to make a pompom look it’s best. Instructions for making a pompom and templates to do so are included in both patterns.

The embellishments on each hat are what set each apart, symbolising the growth and new beginning of those in need who receive help and support, whether it be from loved ones and friends, or organisations and charities such as Refuge that go towards helping women and children grow and bloom, and one day hopefully to help people become Bloomin Marvellous. Little Bud is also a poignant name, as the photos are of me and my own little one, who though still just a bud, will bloom himself. He is also my little buddy, and another form of support alongside my husband, my friends, and in the past Refuge, the charity for which any proceeds are directed.

The colours for each hat are reversed from its partner, and you can make both hats (one Adult, one baby from just the two skeins of yarn. You could make two adult hats from two skeins, but the pompoms would not be as big and full, should you choose to top them with the cheery balls of fluff.

These hats knit up very quickly as they are made from a bulky but ever-so-buttery-soft yarn: It’s A Stitch Up’s Marshmallow Cloud. One skein of each of two shades (Night Moves and Rebel Rebel) was plenty to provide enough yarn for not only both hats but the two fine pompoms and then quite some left over. There would be enough yarn in two skeins to make two adult hats, with perhaps smaller pompoms.

It’s A Stitch Up have very generously put together a Bloomin Marvellous/Little Bud Kit to support Refuge. The kit contains both skeins of yarn used in these designs (Marshmallow Cloud in Rebel Rebel and Night Moves) and copies of both hat patterns, which will be emailed to you when your yarn is dispatched. £5 of the sale of each yarn kit will go towards Refuge.

I was going to put a review of this gorgeous yarn into this post, but in all honesty I think it is deserving of a post all of its own, so I shall write a dedicated post for the yarn in the coming day, but in short it is one of the most beautiful yarns I have used. I would love to see versions of this hat in the un-dyed shade teamed with either the soft pink of the ‘Baby Cakes’ shade, or with the vibrant pop of colour from ‘Hot Thing’.

A wide range of sizes are given for both hat designs, as below…

Small Baby: 37cm (14.5”)
Newborn – 3 months: 38cm (15”)
4 – 6 months: 39.5cm (15.5”)
7 – 11 months: 40.5cm (16”)
1 – 2 years: 43cm (17”)
2 – 3 years: 46cm (18”)
Child (3-12 years): 49.5cm (19.5”)
Teen: 53cm (21”)
Adult Small: 56cm (22”)
Adult Large: 59.5cm (23.5”)

Anyway, stop reading this: please just chuck a small donation this way by purchasing a pattern, or kit from It’s A Stitch Up, or via The Charity Donation Page and feel good to have made a difference today!

Yarn weight: Bulky / 12 ply (7 wpi)
Gauge: 16 stitches and 21 rows stitches = 4 inches/10cm in Stockinette stitch
Needle size: US 8 & 9 – 5 & 5.5 mm
Yardage: 75 – 150 yards (70 – 140 m) used for sample size
Sizes available: 10 sizes, from small baby to large adult
Price: £3.50 add to cart or buy it now

Speckle Dyeing With It’s A Stitch Up Dye Kit

This weekend brought the most exciting post I have had in a long while, and for a change it was something destined for me rather than the Eskimini.

Inside the perfectly presented package were two skeins of Marshmallow Cloud yarn (a chunky weight baby alpaca yarn), soft and buttery to handle, and a Dye Kit. I’d been looking forward to this parcel from It’s A Stitch Up for only a couple of days, and I hadn’t even yet started to dream up what was in store for the yarn, so I decided to start the creative ball rolling by playing with the Dye Kit.

Sold alongside It’s A Stitch Up’s beautiful hand-dyed offerings, the recent expansion of this UK-based venture sees these dye kits which allow even a first-time dyer to create their very own unique yarn in a number of colour ways in their own kitchen, and using the same ethically-sourced yarn milled in the UK as is available beautifully dyed and ready to knit in the store. The dye kits are available in a couple of different bases, and as I unpacked the little box of goodies I found inside a lovely high-twist superwash merino.
Also included in the box were all of the bits and pieces needed to give speckle-dyeing a first go. Everything is thought of, from a miniature sieve (which immediately bought back pre-teabag era memories of my grandparents’ teapot and strainer) to high-quality protective gloves, plus all the materials needed to both create your own masterpiece of yarn dyeing and fix it firmly in place.


A close-up picture of the soaking yarn pre-dye shows the lovely smooth and high-twist texture which gives the yarn it’s bounce and strength.

Following the included instructions to prep the yarn for dyeing was really simple; however, deciding on how to dye the skein was most definitely not! The kit contains two shades of dye, and there are many possibilities on how to use these to create something truly unique. As well as the option to use one or both of the dyes, the dyer can decide on whether to combine the colours or to keep them separate, and whether to go for a dense cover of dye or a more sparsely speckled effect. Enough dye is included to give a good full coverage, but I decided to try to maintain some white areas in my skein.

In the end I decided to twist my yarn into a loose helix, spreading out the strands, and then to dye each side one of the two shades, keeping the two colours separate. I didn’t get a good picture of this step, but it looked something like the sketch below:
Once the dye had been applied this gave three areas of green speckled yarn, three blue, and with a couple of areas with little or no dye. Following the provided instructions I then set the dye using the microwave method, and then waited for the yarn to cool. Eventually the yarn was cool to handle and I had chance to wash and inspect my creation.

Bundled up like this it looks just like a mass of random colour, and to a certain extent that is exactly what it is. Professional indie dyers spend many hundreds and thousands of hours perfecting their craft to provide their customers with fine artisan products, and this was a speckle-dyeing first attempt, but  when I rinsed and hung the skein up to dry I was very excited with the results, and once the skein was fully dry, the re-skeining brought out something I think is really quite lovely.
The areas of colour are not too overwhelming, yet there is still a good balance and coverage of pigment.
Once re-skeined, the colours reminded me of distant photos of the earth, the greens of the land, blues of the oceans and white of the clouds. The speckle dyeing technique allows the dye pigments to spread as you agitate the yarn slightly, leading to variations in the saturation of the dye and strength of colour, and this added further to the depth and variety of the finished skein.
yarny speckled excellenceI am extremely pleased with this skein of yarn, and I am very much looking forward to seeing how it might knit up: I think I shall have to do some experimental swatching before settling on what it shall become.
However, plans for my own hand-dyed skein shall have to wait a while, as before then I have two beautiful skeins of the Marshmallow Cloud yarn to fondle, enjoy and dream up a project or two for; and that is most definitely what I shall enjoy my next few days doing.

Speckle Dyeing kits and It’s A Stitch Up’s ethically sourced and beautiful dyed yarns are available to buy from the online store, and are shipped worldwide for a low flat rate. Whilst visiting the store, do take a moment to read the ethos and philosophy of this wonderful venture for an insight into why ethically sourced yarn and the craftsmanship of our indie dyers should be of utmost important to us as knitters and craftspersons so that we can all better enjoy the things that we create.

I will be back soon with tales of what the two soft bundles of yarn at the top of the post might become, as long as I can tear myself away from enjoying my own speckly creation.


Disclaimer:
I received the above dye kit and yarn free with no obligation to review and I would not endorse a product that I did not think was of excellent quality and value. The above views are entirely my own and have not been suggested or prompted by the vendor. Baby is blogger’s own.