Friday, July 22, 2011

Note to self: Things do get made

I live with a constant list of sewing projects and plans in my head and I have long since become resigned to the reality that the list will always grow faster than I can produce things. I try to embrace the ever changing cornucopia of making images in my head; knitted animals, dancing with pants for boys, a red beanie for me, a blue vest for a pickle, a quilt for the beach, Liberty lined linen baskets for some sisters. In and out the images float, sometimes staying for a bit while I nut out a construction detail or a fabric combination or ponder using stocking stitch instead of garter for a knitted pig.

 With all that activity going on in my head, its nice to take a moment to think of the things that have been made.

The most treasured projects over the past 12 months for me have been the knitted ones. After long admiring the skill in others, I decided to take up knitting about 18 mths ago. First I started with knitted animals which I'm now addicted to making and then I progressed to hats for the Pickles and a couple of vests. There is something very warming to a mothers heart to know your littles are being warmed by woollens from your own hand, or someone elses. I've also become totally swept up in a love of the fibre, of hand dyed versus commercial, hand spun, different plys, how lovely bamboo needles look standing in a jar or poking out of a basket bursting with at least four on-the-go projects. I told a knitting friend that I was concerned about my constant desire to start new knitting projects before finishing old ones but she tells me this makes me a 'real knitter'

Little Pickle calls these his 'Cool Pants' - my first and second wool soakers both knitted with beautiful hand-dyed 8ply wools from Tarndwarncoort Polwarth Wools. Lucky for me this property is right near my parents house so now that I've discovered it, I will be visiting this enchanting little wool room often in the months between September and May when its open Friday - Sunday.

This rainbow hat is one of my more recent projects and was hoping to be like the fabulous pixie hat on the front of this book
My still developing understanding of wools, plys and substituting one for the other meant it just wasn't working in that pattern so I reverted to my mums trusty, two needle, seam up the back hat pattern. When I finished and sewed it up it was too short, only coming to the top of his ears so I then went through a series of alterations - knitting with four needles of various sizes until I finally managed to add a section that wasn't too tight. Thankfully after all the time and agony applied he loves the hat and it is almost constantly on his head.
The wool was found at a wool market during an open day at Tarndwarncoort and was hand-dyed and spun by a crafter from nearby Birregurra.

There have been lots of hats. This red helmet was started last winter when my skill level was really not up to ear flaps, cables and multiple stitch patterns. I struggled away desperately hoping to not get interrupted in the middle of any of the very long rows because at that point I had no idea what a plain or purl stitch looked like. Winter ended and I put the hat aside in my cupboard. Late in Autumn this year we went away for a weekend and I took the hat with me. What a joy to discover I actually understood the stitches now and suddenly the pattern made complete sense and the hat was quickly finished. It's quite roomy despite its comically streamlined style so it should last another winter too.
The wool was purchased at Wool Baa and I think was this.
Then there were the pebble vests. The first one in an absolutely beautiful yarn from Debbie Bliss and sticking to the original pattern. Seen here looking a tad small with the red hat and a pair of reversible Quick Change trousers from this book.

Then one in the same wool as the red hat. My mother, like most mothers of her era, knitted constantly for us as children and has taken it up again as I have learnt and become enthusiastic about all things knitted. The boys are blessed with a couple of jumpers, a vest and some hats from her hand already and she has more on the needles for them right now.
So, when I started knitting she was very helpful in teaching me to read patterns and also spurring me on to find the creative side of knitting. When I said I was taking on a second pebble vest she said 'Why don't you change it a bit to give yourself a challenge?' 
Hence the second vest has the yoke and bottom band done in moss stitch. Thankfully, this photo isn't clear enough for you to see that the moss stitch section at the bottom is very higgledy-piggledy. Despite its flaws I love this vest and he has enjoyed two winters in it so far.

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