Zen Shawl

This very easy pattern is called the Ghost Gardens Shawlette and it’s free if you subscribe to the pattern writer’s email list. Well worth it for this fantastic pattern.

ghost-garden-zen-02

The haunting beauty of the yarn, with its textured lace, garter ridges and gentle picot edge, makes this a memorable eye catching shawlette. A classic heart shaped triangle, that’s knit top down, and it’s easily adjustable.

This shawlette is designed to use one skein of your average sized fingering weight yarn. If you have a larger skein, why not add a few rows before starting the edge!

ghost-garden-zen-05

I’ve been accumulating quite a stash so a quick delve and I found some handspun that I’d spun using this beautiful fibre from Ixchel Bunny Fibres in the colourway Very Zen of You. The blend is Ga Ga Bunny which is a mixture of angora, cashmere, blue face Leicester and glitz.

very-zen-of-you-01

I plied the handspun with some grey polyester thread I picked up at an Opp Shop.

ghost-garden-zen-11ghost-garden-zen-14

To add some interest to the picot edge, I included a bead on each picot. These beads were from a discount store and larger than I’d normally use but are ideal on this shawl.

ghost-garden-zen-03ghost-garden-zen-06ghost-garden-zen-07

I love the subtle colours of grey, cream and tan which give the shawl a real classy and understated look.

ghost-garden-zen-04ghost-garden-zen-09

I think I may enter this shawl in the Redlands Spinners & Weavers Open Day fashion parade in June this year and then offer it up for sale.

As you can see this is more of a shawl than a shawlette. I used 4.5mm needles and knitted until I ran out of the yarn. It sits beautifully and the beads just give it a little bit of weight at the bottom which is perfect.

ghost-garden-zen-01

Now for a glimpse at a few of my latest purchases.

I was wandering in a small gift shop where I live and was looking at a rack of aprons when this one jumped out at me! It’s a full size apron with a nice large pocket in the front. I took this photo in the shop which is why the top of the apron is still folded behind. It’s really large and roomy and gorgeous 🙂

prezzies-sheep-apron

And then I spotted a group of mugs so I bent down and there at the back of the shelf I spotted a matching mug!

prezzies-sheep-mug

They weren’t cheap but considering I have picked up quite a few bargains lately, I didn’t mind paying full price for such unusual goodies.

On my way home from a spin-in yesterday, I called into a couple of Opp Shops and found this gorgeous little book for only 50 cents.

baa-baa-black-sheep-book

Now this is a wonderful investment for me. It’s a 1.3kg cone of very fine undyed merino which I will use for plying. It will no doubt last me a lifetime but it’s going to come in very handy. A friend of mine had one at a recent spinning camp and I loved the way it plied so easily with her handspun. I bought it from Woolerina. If you are interested, you will need to email or ring them as it’s not displayed on their website.  My cone cost $39 plus $12 postage.

cone-for-plying

That’s all my fibre and yarn news for now. I hope you’re knitting, crocheting or spinning up a storm and doing what you love most 🙂

Until next time…

Melanie

Sassenach Socks – Pair # 53

These beautiful socks are the latest pattern test knit I completed for Dana Gervais who is the most prolific sock pattern writer! The detail in these socks amazes me and they were an absolute pleasure to knit.

sassenach-15

I used a solid colour to ensure the pattern was highlighted as much as possible. I bought this yarn from a Facebook destash and it had no tag on it but I believe it could be a merino/alpaca blend. It’s very soft and was a pleasure to knit with.

sassenach-18

Inspired by the book and television series, Outlander, Sassenach socks are designed to be a mix of both masculine and feminine while being modern and distinctly argyle.

Worked cuff down, this fun sock pattern uses cables and lace to create a contemporary argyle pattern down the front of the leg and on the top of the foot. The heel features an eye of partridge heel flap and half handkerchief heel. The sock ends with a wedge toe that is grafted closed with Kitchener stitch.

Instructions are given to knit the socks in narrow, medium, wide and extra wide widths.

sassenach-24It took me a while to get into the pattern rhythm but by the end of the first sock I was well into it.

sassenach-12

I read the pattern once however by the time I reached the toe section in the first sock I just assumed you knitted the pattern until it was time for the toe decreases which resulted in this look.

sassenach-04What it should look like is this.

sassenach-16
Now, I’m a bit torn as I quite like my look!

sassenach-04-horz

Seeing as my socks will be covered by shoes no one will notice the difference anyway! I’d be interested in what finish you prefer. That just goes to show that some mistakes actually look okay!

As I mentioned, there’s lots of lovely detail in the pattern which shows off so well against a solid colour.

sassenach-03

sassenach-20

I’m on a bit of a sock knitting roll at the moment after having purchased this book.

the-sock-draw-by-verity-castledine

The book is beautifully presented with some lovely patterns but be warned, if you are fairly new to sock knitting there are some errors in some patterns so make sure you join the FB page which itemises some of the errors. I’m on my second pair of socks using the yarn I solar dyed not long ago. Will show you them very soon 🙂 And I will also note any errors I found.

I can’t leave before I show you some of my latest Opp shop buys 🙂

What do you think of these cute sheep (or should I say, ram) slippers?

sheep-slippers-91

They were only $3 a pair and they’re both size L which fit perfectly 🙂 As one of my friends said, one pair for upstairs and one pair for downstairs 🙂

sheep-slippers-02

Plus this lovely sheep mug with black and white sheep on it.

sheep-mug-black-and-white

I actually bought this mug at a chemist. Couldn’t leave it behind could I?

sheep-and-collie-dogs-mug

And lastly, one of my friends was cleaning out her jewellery box and found this brooch which she believes is about 30 years old. I was the first person she thought of 🙂 Isn’t it gorgeous? I wore it to Knit and Knatter last Saturday.

knitting-brooch

That’s all my news for the time being. I hope, if you live in Australia, you’ve managed to keep as cool as possible as this awful record-breaking hot weather hits the country.

Until next time…

Melanie

Solar Dyeing with Queen Food Colours

With all the hot weather we’ve had lately in Brisbane, I decided to use some of the sun’s heat by doing some solar dyeing using food colours.

Now let me warn you, I am not an ‘exact measurement’ dyer when it comes to mixing the food colours and water. I found half the fun was actually putting about a cup of water into a jar (I had a nice collection of old jam jars) and then adding a few drops of the dye until I had a colour I liked. When the mixture ran out, I’d just add some more water and dye and made another shade. It’s really fun!

Before I started I soaked my skeins of wool overnight in a 3 parts water / 1 part vinegar solution. The vinegar helps the yarn grab the dye more quickly. Plus, if your yarn is scratchy, it softens it up quite nicely!

There is lots of information on the internet about dyeing and I would suggest you read as much as you can so you understand what you are actually doing!

Chantelle from Fiberific has made a fantastic YouTube video on basic dyeing with food colours although she uses steaming to set her dye. This video is very informative and I’d recommend you watch it if this is your first foray into dyeing. She shows you how to lay out your plastic Glad Wrap and wrap your skeins in the sausage shape.

Here is the result of my dyeing:

This effect was obtained by randomly squirting drops from a pipette all over the skeins. It will be interesting to see how it knits up.

blue-01blue-04

For this effect I simply alternated between an orange dye and a green dye.

orange-green-02

orange-green-03

Once I had ‘painted’ the dye onto the skeins, I just rolled them into a sausage shape in plastic Glad Wrap and placed each sausage into a black garbage bag on the pavers out in the sun. Once the colour has been absorbed and any liquid is relatively clear is when your yarn is ready to rinse and hang out to dry.

This is my favourite colour which is a combination of yellow and yellow/orange.

orange-yellow-01orange-yellow-04

I have used this yarn to make a pair of socks and they are coming along nicely 🙂

suvena-socks

So if you are interested in dyeing some yarn using the sun’s heat I would highly recommend it. All my skeins are OOAKs (one of a kinds) as I didn’t measure the drops of colour I used. I find this is less stressful and it’s always a surprise to get a unique skein.

three-colours-24-1-17

Don’t these skeins look amazing!!

solar-dyed-skeins

And here are caked skeins

caked-skeins-01caked-skeins-02caked-skeins-03

Have fun solar dyeing with food colours 🙂

Until next time…

Melanie

Close to You Shawl

I’m feeling a bit chuffed as I’ve managed to complete two long-term WIPs! The first one is this lovely Close to You Shawl which I started in July last year. I have no idea why I left it so long to complete as it was a really easy knit. The free pattern can be found on Ravelry. It’s written by Justyna Lorkowska also known as Lete on Ravelry.

close-to-you-03As you can see, most of it is just garter stitch is which too easy!

close-to-you-01I love the edging of the shawl which adds a nice bit of pizzazz and interest!

close-to-you-07I used some super plush yarn from my stash called Gorgons Head Coral. It’s from a Sock Yarn Club I joined a couple of years ago. The yarn is Dyed by Hand Yarns Silk Stocking which is a 50% merino / 50% silk blend and it is incredibly soft and luxurious. A perfect selection for around your neck.

This particular yarn name is based on the Gorgons Head Coral. A four-week expedition to explore the deep ocean south-west of Tasmania in 2008 revealed new species of animals and more evidence of impacts of increasing carbon dioxide on deep-sea corals. A bright red, undescribed species of shell-less coral, called an anthomastid or gorgons-head coral was discovered at 1700 metres deep at the Cascade Plateau, off south-east Tasmania.

DBHY Silk Stocking Gorgons Head Coral 02-tile
It’s always a pleasure to knit a garment using a quality yarn.

The shawl is finished off with a picot bind off. This is how I prefer to finish all my shawls as it’s rather nice and avoids just a straight edge.

close-to-you-06close-to-you-08close-to-you-09If you are a beginner knitter this is a pattern that you could knit. As with most patterns, you need to concentrate at the beginning but once you get into the groove of the pattern, it will quickly become very easy to follow and memorise.

close-to-you-04close-to-you-05I’ll show you the second completed WIP very soon 🙂

Until next time…

Melanie

Away From the Lighthouse Socks – Pair # 52

Another another sock pattern test knit is completed!! This pattern, called Away from the Lighthouse, is by Penny Schumers. This is my second test knit for this designer, the previous was for the Down the Hourglass socks.

Because they are constructed to withstand powerful storms, lighthouses are frequently depicted as symbols of strength, shelter, protection and peace. This stitch pattern reflects a strong pillar accented by two twisting “waves”.

away-from-the-lighthouse-11I love all the details in this pattern, particularly the cables.

away-from-the-lighthouse-10Despite the fact I was using a cable needle and not twisting the stitches as I knitted them, these socks were surprisingly quick to knit.

away-from-the-lighthouse-16I absolutely adore the beautiful and gradual colour changes in this sock yarn but I wasn’t overly impressed with the yarn itself and that’s mainly because it’s a single and tended to split a bit. The yarn is Knit Picks Chroma Fingering which is a 70% wool / 30% nylon yarn.

chroma-fingering

Having said that, I bought two different balls of the Chroma Fingering so I’ll have to be extra careful when using the second ball. Luckily, the colour changes are so lovely, they override the singles aspect of the wool 🙂

away-from-the-lighthouse-15

My favourite part of the of knitting socks is ‘turning the heel’ and making sure there are no little holes when picking up the stitches along the heel flap.

away-from-the-lighthouse-13I would highly recommend this pattern but make sure if you do decide to knit these socks you select a relatively solid colour and not a highly patterned yarn.

away-from-the-lighthouse-05away-from-the-lighthouse-07away-from-the-lighthouse-08away-from-the-lighthouse-14Until next time…

Melanie

Heliotrope Socks – Pair # 51

It’s been a while since I’ve shown you a pair of completed socks but I have still been knitting them! This pair was a test knit and I’m embarrassed to say, I finished the first sock in April and the second sock only recently. I’ve just been so sidetracked over the months either knitting other garments, spinning or weaving. Heliotrope socks were created by a very talented pattern writer: Dana Gervais whose patterns can be found in her Ravelry store.

Dana lives in Canada but no matter when I post a question or comment on the forum, she always responds so quickly! Her attention to detail is amazing and I can highly recommend her patterns. I also follow Dana on Instagram.

I love this pattern! The sock is worked from the cuff down, features a delicate cable pattern, heel flap and gusset and a toe that is grafted with Kitchener stitch.

heliotrope-socks-01The pattern really pops against the purple sock yarn don’t you think?

heliotrope-socks-02heliotrope-socks-03heliotrope-socks-04The yarn I used is Waikiwi by Naturally.

naturally-waikiki-purpleLove this yarn as it’s easy to knit with and doesn’t split. I’m not usually a purple fan but I rather love the richness of this royal purple.

I’m really quite pleased with how my sock knitting has progressed. I no longer get that little hole which sock knitters will know about 🙂

heliotrope-socks-05This heel is called the half handkerchief (v-shaped heel).

heliotrope-socks-06The pattern is created by these two stitch cables. I used another needle which was fiddly to start with but I soon became adept at it!

heliotrope-socks-07I have just finished another pair of Dana’s socks for another test knit. This time I made sure I finished the second sock straight away. I’ll show you them very soon.

I wish you all a wonderful, happy, healthy and prosperous 2017 that is filled with lots of yarn and fibre 🙂

Even though it is quite hot in Brisbane today, I will be sitting down to finish off another pair of socks! What do you have on your needles?

Until next time…

Melanie

Knitting and Spinning

I can’t believe it’s over three weeks since my last post. Time has just slipped away so quickly. Lots has been happening in my life: my son is in the process of buying his first home (he’s still awaiting finance approval) and sadly my family has had to place my 92 year old Dad into a nursing home as my 89 year old Mum was struggling to care for him. So, after more than 60 years of marriage, they are now living apart which is so sad but necessary to ensure the well-being of both of them.

On the crafting front, I’ve been knitting and spinning and I’ve also been destashing some of my spinning wheels and yarn to help my son pay for some of those new house costs that you tend to forget about like house insurance, solicitors, pest and building inspection and so on.

Having said that, I had been thinking of selling some of my wheels as my collection was steadily growing so I’ve sold my Ettrick Standard double drive, an Ashford Traditional, a Wee Peggy, an Ashford Scholar and I also have my Fomotor Peacock and Ashford Traditional double drive on the market. I’ve also sold off quite a bit of my yarn, in particular the Zen Yarn Garden ART WALK series skeins. It had got to the point where I realised I couldn’t possibly use it all so I bit the bullet and advertised a lot of it for sale and most of that has been snapped up quite quickly. I have kept the colours I really like.

Now to some knitting. I finished this In Threes baby cardigan while I was on my recent cruise to New Zealand. I love this pattern and so do many other knitters as over 6,700 of these cardis have been made!

in-threes-multi-large-01The wool I used is Shepherd Colour 4 Me Prints which is an 8ply 100% plied wool. I made the 3T size which I am assuming is for a three year old toddler.

in-threes-multi-large-05I bought the buttons in New Zealand. It’s just by chance they match the colours in the cardi 🙂

in-threes-multi-large-04If you love knitting in the round without seams, I can highly recommend this pattern. It’s so quick and easy. In fact, I knit it when I feel like a quick satisfying knit. I have a few of these cardis stashed away.

in-threes-multi-large-06I’ve been trying to slow down my yarn and fibre purchases and start using my stash and I’ve been quite successful but when I saw this Optim fibre on sale on FB I knew I had to have it. I’ve heard a lot about spinning Optim but have never tried it so this was my chance. It was a potluck 5 x 100g balls.Optim is a treatment which stretches the wool fibres to make the product longer and a lot finer in the range of 12-14 Microns.

optim-5-x-100g_resizeThese were some of the examples of colours that were available. I must say I’m quite enjoying spinning Optim; it’s rather like spinning silk and it has a lovely sheen to it.

optim-03_resizeI picked up this metallic thread for $10 and $5 respectively. This will be invaluable for plying and maybe even weaving.

weaving-or-plying-threadI’m spending this Wednesday and Thursday crafting with good friends which I am really looking forward to. I always find these gatherings to be so therapeutic as it’s where we all share our love for our common crafts, solve all (or most) of our problems and generally de-stress. I’d be lost without these friends 🙂

As 2016 rolls to a close, I hope you all have a wonderful 2017 filled with health, happiness, prosperity and of course lots of yarn and fibre!

funny-sheep-with-happy-new-year-free-picture-download

Until 2017…

Melanie