Category Archives: Knitting

Mollie Makes – free mini knit!

In this chilly UK weather, any mouse will be needing a new cardi to keep warm. This mini knit is a wee bonus to go with my project in the brand new issue of Mollie Makes. It’s ever so easy to make, so please download and enjoy!

Mollie Makes free mini knit

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Wrapping up in stripes

At last some wintry weather! I’m not a great fan of the cold but find myself disorientated by the way our seasons are blurring. Crisp, bright winter days are the very best kind. With chilly days in mind, I’ve knitted this little stripy number for a very young man of my acquaintance (a mere four months old!).

It’s a pattern from Debbie Bliss’s Ecobaby book. As a relatively novice knitter I was pleased to find this quite simple and the teeny size made it wonderfully quick too. I swapped the recommended cotton yarn for Baby Cashmerino to make sure the little chap keeps cosy.

This pattern was a bit of a first for me as I’d never been left in charge of a circular needle before. This was used to create the sailor collar and did mess with my brain a little at first but proved ok. (Still can’t quite imagine knitting fully in the round but it’s on my ambition list.) My personal touch was to reverse the pattern of the collar so that when it’s turned over, it matches the stripes of the body.

Cold days make me dream of new knitting projects. Today I’ve joined Ravelry, which modestly calls itself ‘a community site and organisational tool’. My my, it’s so much more. If you’re even vaguely into knitting or crochet, do join but be prepared to be sucked in and mysteriously loose several hours. If only websites worked like Narnia so that when you return from days of adventure, no real time has passed at all!

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The knitting forecast

They said it would rain in North Wales for my break. Thankfully they were wrong, well almost. On the one day it did pour down, we were rewarded with a glimpse of a rainbow spanning the estuary and seemingly ending at our house.

It was a wonderfully creative five days with woodland walks (so many acorns!), plenty of time to catch up and chat and a goodly amount of knitting. It was even warm enough one afternoon to knit outdoors on the big stone balcony. The stripes on my project progressed slowly and surely as the tide crept its way up the estuary. I could see down the wooded slope to the water, and just make out the tower of the ‘Camera Obscura’ marking the end of Portmeirion Village. I even baked scones in the tiny kitchen. The old oven of a rented holiday house is obviously unused to such activity and rebelled by taking almost half an hour instead of the usual 15 minutes to bake my scones. Eating a warm, if rather hard, scone and jam as the light fades on an autumn afternoon is certainly my idea of heaven

Thank you Sir Clough Williams Ellis for opening up your crazy dream of a place for us all to share. My quest for holiday souvenirs led to the purchase of a tea towel (why is this the object of choice for so many souvenir makers? A flashback to magical moments while tackling the mundane?) and a mouse mat. It makes me smile that this wouldn’t quite have been Sir Clough’s vision for his village when he started to build back in 1925. I chose the mouse mat for the philosophy printed around the edge of the design: “Cherish the past, adorn the present, construct for the future.” I’m quite content with my mission to adorn the present.

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Tiny feet

The pitter patter of tiny feet has never been louder in my small circle of friends. I’m having a job keeping up with the booties production required. Ok, I could make other things for new arrivals but nothing beats a teeny tiny pair of handmade booties for cuteness.

My latest makes are for my friend Stacey, who starts her maternity leave this week to await the arrival of her first baby in December. These woolly wellies seemed just the thing as a little gift to wish her well. Most of my mums-to-be have opted to find out if they’re having a boy or girl but I admire Stacey for taking the old-fashioned approach and keeping it a surprise for everyone including herself. So a neutral colour of wool was required.

Last weekend I settled down with a ball of cream Rowan ‘All seasons cotton’, a pair of  3.25 needles and a copy of Erika Knight’s Natural Nursery Knits. A few hours – and a couple of DVDs – later, I’d created two rather odd-looking flat shapes that thankfully stitched up into something cute. I love the leap of faith of following a pattern, not quite being able to figure out how something will work, and finally the magic moment when those strange shaping rows make perfect sense.

I’ll definitely use this pattern again but not before delving further into a new book, entirely dedicated to bootee patterns. Made in France: Baby Booties by Caroline de Hugo has 18 different styles to choose from. Below you can see my first efforts for my friend Liz who had baby Claudia almost two months ago. You actually do the shaping when you stitch them up rather than while knitting, which made them so speedy I even had I had time to make a little shoe bag to present them in.

I do wonder if French babies have unusually large feet – just look how big the newborn size bootie looks in my hand. I may have gone rather over the top with the size of the pom-poms but I couldn’t help but get carried away with my new pom-pom maker. It’s a revelation to anyone like me who was brought up to wrestle with two circles cut from a cereal box.

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Knitting something just for me

My knitting skills are pretty basic but sufficient to make some reasonably presentable treats for new arrivals. While I was contemplating yet another pair of bootees for a pregnant friend, I suddenly thought that I’d never actually knitted anything for me. The closest I’ve ever come was a jumper for my Sindy doll. As I recall, it was a little pale blue, long-sleeved number, which took me most of a school Christmas holiday and a lot of interventions from my ever-patient mum. As it turned out Sindy didn’t even have the grace to look good in the finished article, so the poor jumper languished unloved in the bottom of her bright pink carry case/wardrobe. Perhaps this early trauma has made me avoid creating garments for myself.

I’m now attempting to put this to rights by knitting something just for me. It’s an apron. If the thought of a knitted apron freaks you out, I must confess it did the same to me at first. I’ve developed a bit of a thing for aprons. I think they’re the closest you can get to an acceptable adult security blanket. It’s a really pleasing feeling to come home, change out of my work clothes and head to the kitchen to pop on a pinny. I have three favourites that hang on a wooden peg in the kitchen. There’s something very comforting about the ritual of putting the band over my head, taking a pleat in the fabric around my waist and wrapping the ties to the back and bringing them around to the front to tie a bow. (I have to be held back if I visit Anthropologie; they boast the most delicious selection of aprons ever. I could very easily swell my collection to the point where it requires its own wardrobe!)

When I come out of the kitchen, the apron stays on and makes me feel cosy for the whole evening. Come the winter, what could be better than turning up the cosy dial with a knitted apron? I think I will need to adopt the 1950s housewife idea of an apron for different occasions – something practical and washable for the kitchen, then the pristine flouncy number for playing the perfect hostess. (I’m sure I glimpsed Mad Men’s Betty Draper in a chiffon apron.) Don’t worry, I don’t intend to play hostess in a knitted apron, just to keep it out of the kitchen, as spilled food and wool are just not a dream combination.

The whole idea of a knitted apron came with the purchase of Jane Brocket’s The Gentle Art of Knitting"". Her view on what she calls ‘gentle knitting’ really appeals to me as I’m content with a bit of stocking stitch and comfortable with the fact I will never reach the giddy heights of lace or cables. There it was 0n page 52, a linen-knit apron with a choice of two simple patterns. The book lay open at that page on the sofa for a couple of days, then I could resist no longer and I headed off to buy supplies from Wool. I stuck with Jane’s suggestion of an oyster-coloured background but swapped her red stripe for a duck-egg blue. I cast on the necessary 143 stitches with the thought that I could be wearing my new security blanket by autumn but here we are, almost November, and I have only enough of an apron to cover my knees. A single row takes over five minutes, so I may be some while yet. Maybe that’s another reason why I’ve never knitted anything for myself before. I promise to persevere.

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B is for Ben

Becoming an auntie was a defining crafting moment for me. When beautiful Ben arrived just over two years ago, I went into a making frenzy. By the time he was born his tiny nursery was adorned with knitted teddies (Simple Knits for Cherished Babies, Erika Knight), bunting spelling out his name and a monkey laundry bag (wonderful design from Amy Butler’s Little Stitches for Little Ones""). He even had a knitted rabbit rattle (Natural Nursery Knits, Erika Knight.) By the way, please say if you know how to get a little bell to still sound like a bell once it’s buried deep in toy stuffing!

One thing I’ve learned; I seem to be far better at creating frivolous items than anything practical. I first met Ben when he was 20 hours old and I took along a simple white cardigan to welcome him into the world on a chilly but sunny April day. I’d opted to knit in cotton but the effect was quite stiff and the poor little chap was held in a kind of scarecrow position, arms outstretched, when he wore it. (You’ll notice I’m not sharing a photo of this.) My frivolous finishing touch of rabbit-shaped buttons was by far the best bit and turned out to be far more fitting than the cardigan itself as Ben was born over an Easter weekend. To me he’ll always be Benjamin Bunny. I’m not sure he’ll thank me when he’s older.

As Ben grows, it’s been a challenge to find things to make for him. My latest creation was inspired by a house move. He’s now installed in his first ‘big boy’ room with a real bed and even more space for toys. He adores cars, trucks and his Big City Garage. I thought he’d rather grown out of the pastel blues of his name bunting, so I came up with this letter B framed as a road for Dinky cars. As yet Ben is a chap of few words but the deep ‘oooh’ noise he made when he saw it was all the appreciation I needed. And yes, he didn’t understand why he couldn’t play with the cars behind the glass. Did I mention I don’t specialise in practical makes?

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