Sunday, 12 June 2016

Cabled Fingerless Mittens

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We are 9 months into our move - and the weather has been varied but mostly wonderful.  That is until this week.  The temperature dropped to minus 1 one morning on my way to work .. which I love. I am obsessively watching the temperature drop and getting more excited the lower it gets.  Everyone thinks I'm crazy and probably by the end of the winter the low temperatures will be a cause for dismay, but right now I'm looking forward to them. The changing weather was one of the reasons that we wanted to move to Victoria in the first place.

So, now it's serious knitting time and, as my children are flying over in a month, I thought I would knit them something simple yet practical.
My son has asked for a pair.  A few years ago when I wanted to knit some and asked if he would like a pair, his words were something like .. "No, not ever .. "  My heart sank as all knitting hearts do when the people you want to knit for don't want a bar of it.  However, once he reluctantly modelled a pair for me, he 'quite' liked them and wanted a pair.  So hang in there .. one day the reluctant recipients in your knitting world may change their mind.  .. and now it's only fair that everyone have some.  These mittens are actually for my daughter.

After knitting a pair of socks, there is always quite a bit of wool left over and for years I have been meaning to knit a sock blanket with all the left overs - that hasn't happened yet and I can't see me starting it any time soon, but there is enough wool to make a small pair of mittens.  It's a small project that knits up over the course of a couple of evenings (they are long evenings here as well - it's dark by 5.30pm).


Sock yarn (about 25g or half a ball)
Set of 2.50 DPN's
2 stitch markers
Cable needle  (If you would prefer to cable without using a cable needle, our instructions can be found here  The instructions are for a 6 cable so reduce the number of stitches to 4 and the premise is the same)


COn - Cast on.  Use you favourite method but ensure that it is not too tight.
PM - Place stitch marker
M1 - Knit into the 'bar' between the 2 stitches.  If you are unsure, the instructions can be found here.
K4F - Place 2 stitches on the cable needle and hold at the front of your work.  K2, then knit the stitches on your cable needle.
K4B - Place 2 stitches on the cable needle and hold at the back of your work.  K2, then knit the stitches on your cable needle.
COff - Cast off.  Ensure that the cast off is quite loose or the mittens may be too tight around the fingers.
SLM - Slip marker.  Simply move it from the left needle to the right.


CO 64 stitches and then arrange 16 on each needle.  Join (being careful not to twist your stitches) and establish a K2, P2 rib.
Left Hand Mitten Chart

Continue until the ribbing measures at least 8 cm.

Left Hand Mitten

Row 1: K10 [Knit Row 1 of Left Hand Chart], K to end

Row 2: K10 [Knit Row 2 of Chart]

Row 3: M1, PM, K to pattern row stitches [Knit Row 3 of Chart], K to end

Row 4: K1, SLM, K to pattern row stitches [Knit Row 4 of Chart], K to end

Row 5: M1, K to next marker, M1, SLM, K to pattern stitches [Knit row 6 of chart], K to end.

..There should now be 3 stitches before the stitch marker..

The increasing at the start of the row forms the thumb.

Continue the chart pattern that has been established (increasing for the thumb in every second row), continue until there are 19 stitches before the stitch marker.

Next Row:  Thread 19 stitches onto waste yarn,  [Knit required row of Left Hand Chart], K to end

Once you have 19 stitches, thread a contrasting yarn through the stitches to hold them and remove them from the needle.  Don't pull the thread too tight.  You should now be back to 64 stitches.

Continue knitting the charted pattern until you reach row 44.

At the start of the next row, establish a K2,P2 rib and continue for 5 rows.

Cast off.


Pick up the 19 stitches on 3 needles.  Join the thread and knit to the end of the row.  Once you reach the end, pick up and knit 3 stitches evenly across the gap and continue to knit for 4 rows.

Establish a K1,P1 rib and continue for 4 rows and loosely cast off.

To finish

Weave in all ends and ensure the ends for the thumb are very secure.

Right Hand Mitten

Cast on 64 stitches and establish a K2, P2 ribbing as for the Left Hand Mitten.

Row 1: K10 [Knit Row 1 of Right Hand Chart], K to end

Row 2: K10 [Knit Row 2 of Chart]

Row 3: K10 [Knit Row 3 of Chart], K10, PM, M1, PM, K to end - (65 stitches)

Row 4: K10 [Knit Row 4 of Chart], K10, SLM Knit to next marker, SLM, Knit to end

Row 5: K10 [Knit Row 5 of Chart], K10, SLM, M1, Knit to next marker, M1, SLM, Knit to end

Next Row: K10 [Knit required row of Right Hand Chart],  K10, thread 19 thumb stitches onto waste yarn, K to end

Continue knitting the charted pattern until you reach row 44.

At the start of the next row, establish a K2,P2 rib and continue for 5 rows.

Cast off.


As per Left Hand Mitten

To finish

Weave in all ends and ensure the ends for the thumb are very secure.

Once you have the rhythm of the pattern, they knit up very quickly and the end result is a small, warm gift for my children when they arrive next month.

Happy Knitting,

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Sunday, 17 April 2016

The Hat That Sally Made

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A little bit of creative photo editing and Sally
becomes very stylish
I've been having a lot of fun with my alpaca fleece.

I have been washing fleece, drying fleece, picking fleece and carding fleece for what seems likes ages.  I love it.  Fibre is definitely my thing and I can think of no better way to spend any afternoon than pottering about, doing all things fleecy.

Once I had about 30 bags of fleece ready to spin, the time had come to practise my spinning. 
I chose a bag of 'Sally'.  She is one of our delightful alpacas - the first to come to us for hand feeding and so gentle and lovely.

I spent many an afternoon spinning and listening to the audio book series of 'Anne of Green Gables' - it's a delightful way to spend some crafting hours (although, I will admit to finding it hard to see my spinning through my tears during the tragedy of Anne's first born).
'The Hat That Sally Made'

.. and just like that, I had some alpaca wool ready to knit with.  Not much mind you, but I had some none-the-less.

I figured that I had enough for a warm winter hat.  Ever since we have been here the weather has been fabulous - but everyone has said, "just you wait - it will get very cold and it will last for ages".  With a warning like that, I don't think a few more winter hats will go astray.

This hat is very simple.  As the wool is thick (10ply) it knitted up very quickly.
Washing, picking, carding and spinning

A skein of 'Sally'


..Skein of hand washed, hand picked, hand carded & hand spun Sally (or commercial 10ply)
..Set of size 6mm DPN's and a small circular 6mm.  The hat can be knitted entirely on DPN's or you can change to a circular needle once the hat is big enough.
..Stitch markers 


Knit front and back (Kf/b).  Place your working needle into the front of the stitch on your main needle as you normally would and knit, before you slip the stitch off the needle, knit into the back of the same stitch - then slip the stitch off the needle.  This is an 'increase' stitch.
Knit 2 together (K2tog).  Insert your working needle into the front of the second stitch on your main needle and then through the front of the first stitch on your main needle.  Knit them both together.   This is a 'decrease' stitch.  (If you are right handed, the main needle is the left hand and the working needle is the right hand).


Cast on 8 stitches

'The Hat That Sally Made'
Row 1:     Knit the front and back of each stitch - (16 stitches)  Place 4 stitches onto each DPN and get ready to join - being careful not to twist your stitches.
Row 2:    Purl all stitches.  Traditional patterns tell you to place a stitch marker at the beginning of this row to indicate the start of the round, but I find they always fall off when using DPN's - so I always purl 1, then place a stitch marker.  This way it stays in place.
Row 3:     *K1, K1Front and Back* repeat to the end of the round. (24 stitches).
Row 4:     As you purl this row, place a stitch marker every 3 stitches.  It is handy to have the first stitch marker a different colour to ensure you know where the beginning of the round is.

Row 5:     *K1F/B, K to next stitch marker, slip marker* repeat to the end of the round - there should now be 4 stitches between each marker.
Row 6:     Purl 

Repeat rows 5 & 6 until there are 10 stitches between each marker - there should be 80 stitches.

Continue knitting in garter stitch - knit 1 round then purl 1 round for a further 12 rounds.  If you would like a more 'slouchy' hat, then knit for 16 rounds.

Decrease (K2tog) 10 times, evenly across the round.

Most patterns will tell you to change to smaller needles at this point, but because I am using a thick wool, I kept the original sizing for the brim for fear that it would be too tight at the end.

Brim - You can either use a 4 x 2 rib or a 2 x 2 rib.  Repeat for a total of 10 rounds.
Loosely cast off.    Note:  at this point, I originally did a normal cast off but as the homespun had less elasticity than commercial wool, it was too tight, so I undid it, tried a looser cast off and the end result was much better.  Fitted perfectly.  The decision not to change to a smaller needle paid off.

Loose cast off instructions can be found here 

To finish:  thread the tail of the yarn invisibly through the stitches and snip off.

I added a button embellishment - and there you go, a winter hat ready for the cold that is coming - or so I am told.

Happy knitting,
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Sunday, 28 February 2016

Needle Felt Alpaca

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The room I use to store all of my craft goodies is pretty much full at the moment.  It's not a designated craft or sewing room as such, but a multi purpose space that is quickly being overtaking with fabric, yarn and assorted paraphernalia,  This is the reason I try not to purchase too many gadgets or things that take up extra room. Fabric and yarn can be added to existing boxes and shelves, but with gadgets and other crafting tools,  I find I need to work harder to justify the purchase to myself - I see this as a good thing!

Recently though it's become obvious that a new craft has been calling to us and I'm afraid it meant a trip back to our craft store to purchase everything we needed to start needle felting.  Andie and I have walked passed the kits and needles many times before when we were shopping, but it wasn't until Louise's alpacas were shorn that we realised that all of those little bits of fleece could be put to good use with felting and what better project to start with than a needle felted alpaca.

There's some really informative and easy to follow youtube tutorials for making needle felt alpacas, some require a specific kit, but making a basic alpaca shape using wool or polyester fill tied with twine and then needle felting straight onto that seemed like a great alternative.

The process of needle felting simply involves using the tool and pressing it into the fleece over and over again until it holds together like fabric.

After a morning of making the initial alpaca shape and then felting the fleece, the fun began when it was time to add the details, A face, ears and a tail quickly transformed the felt into something a little more lifelike.

Happy needle felting

Deb and Andie


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Sunday, 31 January 2016

Shearing time at Winter Creek

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It seems like an age since I have made any projects.  Moving interstate, starting a new job and setting up our small holding 'Winter Creek' has taken up every ounce of my spare time. 

My craft room is set up and ready to go but each time I go in, I can't seem to string enough hours together to make starting a project worthwhile.

However, all that changed on Friday with the arrival of our shearer.  That's right .. I finally have access to a supply of wool and what's more, the wool is from our very own alpacas - Martha, Sally, Jefferson and Little Bear.

Grazing happily before the big shear.
Being newbie alpaca owners, we were a bit concerned when the shearer said that we needed to round them up in a pen because, firstly, we didn't have a pen and secondly, how do you 'round' them up?

We improvised by enclosing our chicken coop with some pickets and wire which took about an hour and when we turned around, our girls (and Jefferson) were lining up at the entrance - couldn't have been easier.  Just called them in and shut the gate.  They are easier to handle than our dog.

I was really looking forward to seeing how it is all done.  Growing up in Australia, everyone knows about sheep shearing.  We learn all about the importance of wool in establishing the colony that went on to become our nation - but very little is known about alpaca shearing.

Happy smiles - before the wrangling started

I invited Deb and Andie along to have a look as it's always nice to have a day out in the country and it was lucky they were there when Sally made a bolt for it after shearing and we needed all hands on deck to gently coax her back to the chicken/alpaca holding pen.

Genuine wrangling in action

Sally is in there somewhere

She doesn't look all that impressed with her new clip

Glorious alpaca fleece
I must admit I was a bit shocked when they were completely trussed, feet tied like a pig on a spit.  Surely they must find that distressing, but to their credit, they were really good.  I think they handled it better than I did.  The end result though was a large number of bags filled to the brim with what seems like acres of
Cleaned fleece - fluffy like a cloud

Then the fun started.  I picked the fleece to get out the debris (or VM as it is called), washed and soaked it in hot water, picked it again to get the clean fluffiness I was after and carded the fleece using my hand carders.  

1st rolag - decided to get a drum carder
after about 100 of these.

It didn't take too many hours to realise that hand carding just wasn't going to cut it, so, as I type, I am eagerly awaiting the delivery of my new drum carder.  Let the games begin.

A gorgeous basket of lovliness

Time for some serious carding action

Finally, some spinning action
In the meantime, I was thrilled to be able to get 'Evie' out and begin to spin our hand fed wool.  I can't begin to tell you how wonderful that felt.

The end result - I hope Sally is proud.

 .. and here is the end result.  My first skein of 'Sally'.

Sally says 'Hello'

Thanks so much for visiting.
Louise, Deb & Andie

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Sunday, 24 January 2016

Sari Silk Crochet Cowl

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I've been a bit obsessed with recycled sari yarn lately.  Not long ago I made some crochet placemats out of sari ribbon and while I was purchasing the yarn for that, I became intrigued by the silk yarn and one thing lead to another (as they do) and I ended up placing an order for the silk yarn as well.

The yarn itself is as soft and silky as the name suggests and while mostly uniform, there still is a little texture to add interest along with the muted colour palette.  My original plan was to use it for weaving, but sadly this time of year there simply isn't time to get the loom out and so with my trusty crochet hook in hand a cowl was soon under way.

You will need:

1 skein Machine Spun Sari Silk Yarn
Size 5mm crochet hook


Chain 70 and slip stitch into first chain to form loop, being careful not to twist the chain when joining

*Row 1:   Chain 2 (forms first double crochet) Double crochet (DC) into front of each chain in the loop. Complete entire loop and slip stitch to join.

Row 2:  Chain 1 (forms first single crochet) Single crochet (SC) into front of each chain in the loop.  Complete entire loop and slip stitch to join.*

* to * forms pattern. Continue to crochet until cowl is desired width (our cowl repeats the pattern 8 times)

Weave in ends

I really enjoyed working with the sari yarn, this is a one skein project and lucky for me I purchased a few skeins when I placed my order, so I might just get to weave with it after all.

Happy crocheting


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