Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Knitters Factory Shop Newsletter

Welcome! This is our first newsletter with information about what’s happening at the shop & resources that may help refine your craft.
The KFS has been an institution for years, but it still amazes me the number of “crafty” people that still don’t know about us or where we are, however with the miracle of the internet, we now sell yarn on Trade Me & under the name “yarn4miles” so some of our best customers have never actually graced our doors. This coming year will be our 25th year in business & we thought it has time for a tart up, so make sure you keep in touch to see what we have been up to.
We will be taking a break over Christmas closing from noon Tuesday December 23rd & reopening Monday January 12th, so make sure you stock up the stash to keep your fingers busy over the festive break.
If you have a knitting question or problem, you are more than welcome to pop in see me on a Wednesday morning, I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to resolve it, but I might be able to point you in the right direction. If anything takes your fancy you can contact me directly via email
Finally at the KFS we would like to wish you a very happy & safe festive season & Mary, Suzanne & myself look forward to seeing or emailing you soon.
Cheers Maree

Sea of Colour
One of the hottest trends in the US right now is hand painted yarn, armed with this knowledge, look what happens when you let Peter loose in Essam’s dyehouse with pots of dye & some delicious Merino yarn. There are 4 different colour stories & the samples so far have knitted up beautifully. I have played & knitted it in the round & you get sone lovely striping (great for socks) & on straights is an explosion of random colour. If you are after some totally unique yarn, not available anywhere else, this is perfect – ideal for children’s’ garments

Hand Painted Merino 50gm skeins $7 each

Forever Green Elan - Organic Merino
This new range has been a labour of love over the past 18 months. It uses the very best organic merino yarn, officially Biogro certified, then loving spun by us & hand dyed in small batches using 100% natural dyes. It comes in seven soft ‘gelato’ colours & a small range of patterns designed specifically for infants. However I have seen an adult garment in this & it is stunning. Come in store & have a look for yourself & plan an heirloom project or something special for someone you love. To see the full range, check out our store on Etsy ( use 'elan' in the search) feel free to purchase from here if you are from the northern hemishere, for those downunder, contact me direct at

$12.95 per 50gm ball 167 metres per ball. Can be knitted as either a 4ply or 8ply

Massive Mohair Specials
We are clearing some discontinued colours prior the release of our new range
These shades now $3 per 50gm ball

Chunky Clearance
14ply Varigated 100% Wool 50m per 50gm ball
$2.50 per ball
Four colours available

Happy Knitting Holidays

Friday, December 12, 2008

The art of giving this Christmas

I enjoy Christmas gift giving. I enjoy the process of thinking about what the recipient would really like & take time in gift selection & creation. I know it would be much easier to shop at a 'mega store' but where's the fun in that?? I am not a religious person, I acknowledge the historical significance of Christmas, for me Christmas is the time that family & friends take time out to spend time together. All helped of course by the fact that Christmas falls in the middle of New Zealand Summer holidays, so in these parts it's a barbeque & plenty of bubbles.

If I had my perfect lead time to Christmas I would have plenty of time to make all my gifts, however the reality of two small boy's & working part time has meant I have only managed to make one gift this year. It's for Naomi, the 3 months baby girl of friends of ours. They are recent immigrants to NZ from the UK & they have totally taken to the whole Christmas in Summer thing. This is Naomi's first Christmas & I am a sucker for knitting for little girls. It has been so nice to design something & being able to add delicate feminine touches, I had to brush up on the skill set, I did a pretty fair isle border & scalloped crochet trim, I haven't done fair isle in years, but was please to learn it's a bit like riding a bike, a skill you never forget.

Since I haven't been able to do as much of my own gift creation this year hasn't meant I have avoided hand made treasures. My friend Rebecca is a mad scrap booker & makes the most stunning gift cards & I have bought dozens of hand made chocolate truffles for our local parents centre fundraiser - finished in an organza bag, these make lovely gifts. I think next year I might start knitting early so I have less time pressure.....(wishful thinking?!)

PS Phil's fusty cardy got some good work done on it a few weeks ago whilst we were in Taupo, since then Louis has decided to play 'drums' with the needles of the 'Fusty' project losing one & tearing the project off the other (let's just say it was a bad day ending with me having to phone the insurance company, again, to claim for Louis damage) So I am having some time out from 'Fusty' until the new year.

PPS Louis Hemp pants washed up beautifully & look great, if I can keep them on him long enough. His highness has decided he doesn't like them so refuses to wear them, thank goodness I have 2 sons!
Last but on least: Currently on the 'sticks' is a jumper for Hugo for this coming winter. I am knitting up some Koigu KPPPM hand painted sock yarn. I have learned my lesson & know know why they suggest knitting off 2 balls at a time, it does make for better patterning. It's great to knit other garments with, it produces a warn lighter weight fabric that's incredibly hard wearing, I'll blog it when it's done.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Letting Boys' be Boys'

Our eldest son Louis is just about to turn two and a half. This is a kid who is constantly on the move. He was a 'busy' baby in-vitro, he arrived in just 4 hours from first contraction to delivery & basically hasn't stopped moving since. This boy is a force of nature & I love him dearly. He's now on the way out of the terrible two's (which for us started at 18 months) now that his language is starting to mature, but what I love most, is his cheeky love of life. Louis is a boy who could have inspired the phrase "slugs, snails & puppy dogs tails". Mess is good. Chaos, good. Mud, good. Battles, good. Food, as long as it's 'Choc-lit', 'bikkie', or 'juss', good. Life for Louis is pretty straight forward or.... good.

One of my pet peeves about being the mother of 2 little boys' is what my friend calls "the over feminisation of our boys'". She is the solo mother of 2 boy's herself & a primary (elementary) school teacher. Both her boy's are what I like to call 'busy'. She has been an invaluable resource for me as Louis has gotten older as she has been able to reassure me that my dear boy is in fact perfectly normal. In these increasingly more politically correct times I have seen the phenomenon of PC clap trap making it's way into our playgrounds & nursery schools. Now I am all for trying to teach naturally rambunctious boys' the importance of being 'gentle' & the boundaries of sensible social behaviour, but one fact remains the same, they're boys!

They have a 'Y' chromosome that just makes them act, behave & think differently. If there is something that moves, they'll move it, if it wet, they'll splash it, if it dangles, they'll pull it, if it's quiet, they'll make noise, if the doors shut, they'll open it, if a box is full, they'll empty it - this is what boys do. They also shoot you with a machine gun (in our case any pen or clothes peg will do) or cut you down with a light saber (chopstick or his real favourite, one of my knitting needles) he fights battles with his real & imaginary friends - all perfectly normal.
If you have been like me & have suffered 'those' glances, you know the one's, or have had over protective mothers at the playground glaring as your child in full flight comes within six feet of another child, be reassured, you're not alone & you can walk tall in the fact that studies have shown that busy, free thinking, highly imaginative boys', like our sons, are the men of the future who grow up to become world leaders, captains of industry, men who make change. As my grandmother always said, "It's the quiet ones you have to watch out for"

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Renaissance of Craft

I have been knitting since I was a kid. I started like most children in rural New Zealand with a wooden cotton reel with 4 nails tapped in the top & hours & hours, yards & yards of french knitting. My Daisy dolls has small garter stitch blankets & by my teens I had graduated to long 'homespun' look scarves & my first jumper, a purple, white & black geometric intarsia number (give me a break, it was the 80's!) done in a soft mohair blend - quite adventurous for a first jumper project. The 80's was the last time I really remember the craft, & especially a knitting, Renaissance like what we have now. Who can forget all those brightly coloured intarsia bat winged jumpers with big shoulders & miles & miles of brushed mohair. Parents were also kept busy moving from the 70's poncho to the 80's leg warmers & it was OK, even cool to knit - so like many of my peers, I did.

Then came the stock markets crash, the 80's made way to the 90's & the plethora of mass market knitwear that was so cheaply priced - why would you spend hours toiling away over the needles to produce your own garment. Knitting, for me at least, found it's way into the back of the wardrobe, or was done behind closed doors. And this is a beautiful thing I think about the resurgence knitting has had over the past 5 years - it's the transition of 'knitting for necessity' to 'knitting for pleasure' (or addiction).

An Australian yarn company has a wonderful poster that circulated a few years ago the had a beautiful young woman in the lotus position with the by line "knitting is the new yoga", many of the women I have have taught to knit or helped refresh & coach have all said the focus required in the craft has helped them relax & unwind after the rigours of a hard day, a feeling I'm sure you wouldn't get by ripping out the plastic & buying a vastly inferior mass produced product.

I now do some work for a local spinning mill, my professional background (whilst colourful & varied) in recent times has been in the areas of marketing & new product development. I have been helping them with some new yarns they have been developing. The beauty of the Internet is that the world is now a truly global marketplace, you can buy yarn from anywhere. In the course of my research I found yarn offered up for sale on EBay from Inner Mongolia! So getting our yarns from New Zealand out to the global marketplace should be very do-able. The other aspect of the Internet is it's place in the reignition of craft, because 'crafty' people by their very nature love nothing better than to be able to share their craft with others. There are now communities & social networking sites for people of every interest & ilk to be able to share their work & passion & now even marketplaces for them to sell their work without the barrier of borders.

I am very interested to see what lies ahead in these hardened economic times for craft & it's suppliers, traditionally in times of crisis disciplines like knitting have soared in popularity, so if you haven't done so already now might be the perfect time for you to dust off those needles & join the craft renaissance.
If you would like to see the yarns available from the New Zealand Yarn Company, visit our new store on we are called yarn4miles and put "Forever Green Elan" in the search

Friday, October 31, 2008

I guess if I don't like it I could smoke it?

When it comes to selecting a yarn for purchase or a given project I have to admit I am quite, well, sometimes downright unadventurous. I love natural fibres, more specifically those that come from animals with hooves, paws & sometimes claws. Wool, primarily (lets face it, that's what's in my blood, I grew up on a five and a half thousand acre sheep & cattle station), but I also love Alpaca, mohair, cashmere, angora & silk & blends of all of the aforementioned. I have even spun my British Shorthair pussy cat's fur with wool in an ill fated attempted at making yarn, so when it comes to other sources of yarn I am a little dubious.

Whilst I have to admit the plethora of 'feathers' type synthetic yarns that swept the nations about 5 years ago can certainly be credited with getting people to start knitting or reacquaint themselves with their needles, the only yarn of this ilk I purchased frustrated me so much I ended up flogging it off on Trade Me (New Zealand's version of EBay) & you could say I have been wary ever since. However in recent times I have been breaking out a little & have been experimenting with other fibres.

It started with silk, look I know it's still from an animal, but it's an insect, it doesn't bleat. I bought a merino/silk blend & was bewitched with it's lustrous sheen, lovely stitch definition & it's ultra hard wearing ability to stand up to the rigours of been made into a busy toddlers jumper & with stand masses of play, food & washing. I then tried socks for Dr Phil, the first pair I made 3 winters ago & he's still wearing them, hmmmm, maybe there's something to this?

Next came cotton, I know, I know, that's hardly a new fibre, but I had only every used cotton to make dishcloths, not garments, so when my local yarn store had some cotton crepe for just $1 a ball I succumbed, 5 balls later I had made some funky wide legged pants for Hugo, which washed, and wore, washed and wore...

I have since dallied in Bamboo (nice to knit with, but hasn't lit my fire) and now I am onto Hemp. The 'great green', something that gets people very excited in my old neck of the woods, but this isn't the potent kind, it's the textile kind. Dyed in a wonderfully rich colours, it's quite coarse to the touch, but I am told after it's first wash it softens up considerably & creates a very durable fabric that has a look similar to linen. So as usual I fell for a fetching lime green & a rich blue & have started a wide leg pant for Louis to wear this Summer. So far progress is good, albeit the fact that knitting for long stretches the hemp is a little rough on the hands, I am keen to get it finished & give it a wash to see the final effect. I was a little rash & bought four 100gm skeins of each colour, so I will have plenty for Louis pants, a pair for Hugo & probably even a top if all goes well - maybe this hemp is as intoxicating as it's narcotic cousin?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Something old, something new...

I have had a great week this week. For starters its a 4 day weekend here in Hawkes Bay, (our anniversary day Friday with Labour Day Monday) & my cousin Michael is coming to stay from Wellington to see Hugo for the first time. I can't wait, we haven't seen each other for about a year & we are very close, I lived with him & his mother from the time I was 10 & we both cared for her when she fell ill with cancer & passed 4 years ago. He's a couple of years younger than me, single, drop dead gorgeous & frantically busy finishing off his electricians training (he discovered that his 2 degree's were not really helping his future career prospects & at 30 decided to retrain to something more hands on) so in need of a much deserved break.

Because of the busy weekend pending I have been frantic getting all my 'WIP' finished. Naomi's pants came up a treat & the vest I was designing & mucking around with has been finished & looks great on Hugo & last night I finished Nina's jacket, just in time for her birthday on Saturday.

It's the first time I have knitted for Nina, as at 3 I am very nervous to whether she will like it or not, like most 3 year old little girls, she has very clear ideas about what she likes & dislikes. I think I have been safe, it's pink (her favourite colour), has a lace trim (so suitably girly) & has been finished off with a large matching pink broach.

I am especially thrilled about the broach. It was my grandmothers. Myrtle was a force of nature, a feisty woman from strong Irish ancestry who was a publican until she separated from my grandfather on the day I was born. So my entire life I knew her as a strong hardworking woman who was fiercely independent & in latter years cantankerous to boot! She died when I was 18 at just 68, but left me a large collection of jewellery, some more valuable than others. Each piece had a story, like the diamond ring she bought with the pub cheque book the day I was born, after she found my grandfather in bed with another woman, to the pink broach purchased in the States when she went to visit her sisters (both war brides who met their American servicemen husbands when stationed in NZ during WWII) in the 1950's. Every piece had meaning to her.

So when I was looking for something to finish Nina's jacket I thought I would look through all of Myrtles bit's & there it was, the opalescent pink broach, just the right shade with a story & a twinkle in the eye of the great grandmother that Nina never got to meet.

PS I have been given a reprieve on the fusty cardy, Dr Phil reckons he won't need it over the upcoming Summer months - Phew, that give me at least another 6 months to get it finished!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Elections & Roses

For the first time ever in my voting life I am an 'undecided voter'. I watched the first of the head to head debates last night (honestly, actually only the last half hour, but that was enough) & I have to say I am still undecided. I am a person who isn't adverse to change, but not for change sake, but right now I am not overly thrilled with either of the offerings available, so it means I will actually have to do some serious policy digging on the issues that concern me & will probably make a decision based on a single platform - ouch, too much serious thinking!

I have to admit, I have actually found the US presidential race far more interesting than our own. I lived there as a student almost 20 years ago & studied politics for a year & have been hooked ever since. Now if I were voting there - no problem, I know who I like & what he stands for, especially from an international stand point. The interesting thing about the American system, unlike the NZ one, is its depth of democracy & the diversity of all it's constituents. Let's face it, the US is made up of 50 'countries' more so than States, each one as individual as the next, so imagine the complexities of getting them united on anything - I am stunned they managed to get the 'bailout' bill passed so quick - that would have to be some sort of record to fast track that through both houses & the exec so fast - with all of that I am actually thankful that our system is relatively straight forward. Does this help me make a decision, no it does not!

Oh well, back to something I'm not undecided about, knitting. Something I have been doing a lot of during these debates, news & election rah, rah, rah. I am please to say I finished Naomi's baby bootlegs made in the Koigu KPPPM. I have learned the lesson why all proponents of hand painted yarns recommend to knit off 2 balls for better colour distribution, it is surprising how the colours can differ within the same batch - but the still look great. I am now finishing the lace trim on Nina's jacket for her birthday next week & I have another vest for Hugo to finish the edgings off & then I can think about another project.

How is Dr. Phils Fusty cardy coming? Don't ask!! Time for me to chill out & take time to smell the roses!!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Paradise lost or is it gone....

Boy does time fly! I honestly don't know where our holiday time went. I hadn't been to Rarotonga for 7 years & was thrilled to see that the local economy was thriving & the locals were telling me that what was holding them back was finding enough people to fill all the jobs required to keep the throngs of tourists like me happy.

I want to say a BIG thank you to the staff at The Pacific Resort Muri Beach, who were wonderful & the cabin crew on the two Air New Zealand flights that we flew with 'terror toddler' who were very patient & didn't make be feel like I was the worst mother in the world!!

Did I manage to knit? Yes I did. Did I finish anything? No I did not!

I am 80% finished on Nina's jacket - just the lace trim & sewing to finish (the progress was photographed in the last blog) & wee Naomi's baby bootlegs are 50% finished - I need to get my A into G & ball up the last skein (a job I just hate) to finish them off. Add that to Dr Phil's Fusty Cardy & a vest experiment I started prior to departure - that leaves 4 projects in progress - my most ever, and you know what it's like after a holiday, motivation is at an all time low. I look at the housework jobs I left, I haven't yet unpacked the boys' bag, Louis is being weened off his dummy (it's been left with a boy in Rarotonga, that our story & we're sticking with it!!) which has been relatively ok, it's day 4 & he's only asked for it once, make that twice (he's upstairs refusing to go down for his midday nap), so even finding a quiet 5 minutes to complete these projects is a real mission.

Oh well, my photo's are due back today, I guess I will just have to look at the azure blue oceans & escape in my mind & hope like mad I'm not too tired to get some knitting done once the boys' have gone to bed...

Aitutaki - the most beautiful lagoon on earth.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Knitting in Paradise

Kia Orana! It's now day 4 in sunny Rarotonga & I think I am managing to get into the swing of Island time. Louis (aka Turbo Toddler) is having a great time, just very excited with all the new surroundings, Hugo, the most laid back infant in the world, is sleeping incredibly well, & just loving having both parents around & everyone making a fuss. As for Dr Phil, he's one book down, half way through his second, with plenty to eat & drink - so life is A-OK as far as he's concerned... & what about the knitting I hear you ask?

I started with the project for my niece who is turning 3 on October, a gorgeous little bolero cardi with quite a frilly edging in a dusty pink (she's a girly girl) & so far, back & 1 and a half sleeves knocked off - excellent! I am also thinking of getting my project for my friends babe started. Baby Naomi arrived 10 days late (she was making an grand entrance) & I packed the most stunning Koigu handpainted sock wool which will make the most beautiful drapy pants, a design I have perfected over the years that is practical & the yarn is 100% merino & machine washable, perfect for a first time mum.

I am also please to report not too many sideways glances at me knitting on holiday - I spent an hour at a local cafe in Avarua yesterday whilst Dr Phil was at the gym (aptly named 'The Cafe' - very good coffee & food) & no one batted an eye - so knitters tell any doubting partners out there that you can take your yarn away on holiday with you!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Knitting on Tropical Islands

We only have 2 more sleeps to go until we head off as a family to sunny Rarotonga for two delicious weeks. I am ashamed to admit that the boys' bags have been packed for a week & I did my bag a couple of days ago, anal retentive? No, I just like to be prepared, especially when travelling with children. You see, it's not just a matter of throwing a few sarongs & a swimsuit into a bag & jetting away (I wish, I remember those days so well....) both boys are in nappies, Hugo (5 months) is just starting solids, Louis would start world war three if he doesn't have 'glee glee' (his cuddly blanket), so the logistics in making sure I have all the supplies in correct quantities & everything washed & dried, ready to go is a HUGE job & that doesn't even include what Dr. Phil needs! I make him pack his own bag, but being the protective Doctor that he is, I have one entire bag dedicated to medical supplies - I'm not joking - we could run a small hospital out of our resort bungalow with what I've got packed, it's like I almost need a holiday, preparing for the holiday.
I am a compulsive list maker; accounts paid for the household & business - check; Children's food & toys - check; Medicines packed - check; Knitting projects packed - CHECK!
Fortunately for me Dr Phil is used to me packing my knitting for holidays, he was mortified the first time I packed a small project for a trip to Samoa one year, but there is only so much book reading, swimming & lazying about one girl can do. Because this trip is much longer that the usual 5-7 days it meant a new set of considerations for what to pack. I have a friend who as we speak is one week overdue for her first child & she doesn't know what she's having, my niece turns three on October & I want to whip something up for her with this gorgeous dusky pink yarn that came through the factory a few weeks ago & I know she'll love & then there is something for me. I hate picking projects for myself (trust me this topic is a whole blog on it's own) for some reason I find it tricky translating what I think will look good on the pattern photo to my tall cuddly shape. This time I think I have nailed it, with a few alterations, so the red yarn I have been saving for months has now been packed.... along with the pink yarn & a selection of yarns for either a boy or girl babe!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Confessions of a knitting lush...

I have many passions, knitting is one of the biggest, but another is cooking & entertaining, especially wine appreciation. I have quite a healthy wine cellar tucked away & I try to keep up to date with new & exciting wines. In a former life BC (before children) I used to run a thriving wine club, write wine reviews for the local radio station & a webzine, I even had an article published in a cutting edge Australian wine magazine. These days I have had to cut back my involvement, now I keep up to date with some of my favourite producers & clear out the cellar every few months of so of bottles that need 'attention'.
One of my great indulgences is to sit down in the evening after the boys' have been put to bed, enjoy a glass or two (or sometimes three...) of a good wine over dinner with Dr. Phil, then pick up the knitting & quietly enjoy two of my favourite things. For those that know me well, they also know I rate projects I have in the queue based on how much I can drink before the knitting starts to suffer, ie a three glass project might be a simple singlet or vest for the boys through to a zero glass project which encompasses most lace work, complex arans or fair aisle, basically anything that would require a chart! Needless to say more aran & lace projects were completed whilst I was pregnant & it has been quick simpler projects since I have been 'back on the wagon' as it were.

To that end I have great respect to those designers that produce such stunning projects using beautiful colour work or cable patterns, things I am more than capable of knitting. I have even more repsect for those knitters who dedicate their time to knitting these zero glass projects. For me however, I find myself steering away from zero glass projects more & more, in favour of those that let me indulge in my other passion, do you think I should set up a group called "knitting lushes anonymous"? Nah, I'll just pour myself another glass of wine!

Pictured is my friend Andy's Gold Medal winning Hihi Malbec with balls of Jo Sharp Kid Lustre Alpaca aptly named 'vintage'

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A Monster in my closet...

As a child I used to have the terrifying fear of a wolverine under the bed & a monster in the closet, stemming I am sure from Maurice Sendaks 'Where the Wild Things Are', all I remember is that I was bloody terrified for years on cold dark windy nights on what was lurking in dark places beneath.
So when we completed recent kitchen & living room alterations the opportunity came to be able to create oodles of open closet space of anything I desired. So Louis got a cupboard completely dedicated to all his toys, all my kitchen gadgets now had a home, a 3 bay 'office garage' was created, baby cupboard to get rid of all those nappies & other baby paraphernalia that can litter a room & finally a closet for my precious yarn.

Up until now all the yarn was squeezed into plastic storage tubs under a table behind the couch & more ominously under the bed. Often the stash would grow & new projects would only be generated by recent purchases, as I was too scared to venture to face the woolly monster morphing under the bed, it had to stop. It was time to face my fears & the time was now. When the kitchen designer inquired at why I needed a bank of such large cupboards I stood steadfast, my yarn must have a home.

So the day fatefully came, closets were installed, I had been to my friends at the yarn mill & got yarn bags, it was time to face my monster. I was 9 months pregnant with Hugo & had been having contractions on & off for days, my Mum was trying to convince me that this job could wait. It could not wait, it was time to face my fear. As the yarn was gathered, balls were sorted into weights & the colour lots, bagged up, labelled. Treasures rediscovered as if it was the very first time.

The result - a stash closet I am proud of. A place I show off to all my friends when they visit to see the completed alterations (all the non knitters think I am bonkers!). I am now able to visit the closet & find exactly what I am looking for. I have completed a number of projects from yarns once thought lost (despite me still buying at the same rate as before!!) & as you can see from the previous post I am even tackling my long term knitting nemesis - Dr. Phil's' UFO.
As the website often asks - are you fearless? YES I AM!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

It's a UFO Dr. Phil but not as we know it!

I pride myself at being a finisher - you know a person who starts a task & takes pride in finishing it. I usually can quite proudly say "I do not have completion issues!". That is until you hit upon that one dirty knitted skeleton in my stash closet. It came out to bite me in the arse today when I proudly dressed baby Hugo in his new knitted singlet & Dr. Phil (husband) says "So whatever happened to that jumper you were knitting for me?"

Arrrgh! I have been exposed, beam me up Scotty. I can't pretend it doesn't exisit, it's sitting all neatly bagged up in the recently refurbished stash cupboard awaiting in great expectation for it's final completion. I just haven't had the desire to finish it. It's not that I don't like knitting things for Dr. Phil, I just haven't liked knitting this. It was started when I was pregnant with Louis (son #1) at the end of 2005, a UFO for over 2 years!! I have have several cracks at trying to shake this nemesis, but each time it just keeps coming back to gnaw away at me.

So there it was this morning, my glory of the newly finished baby project shattered as the shadow of the UFO jumper sat hovering like a dark cloud. There is just one thing for it, I have now removed the project from the safe haven of the stash cupboard, it has now been photographed, entered on as my current 'wip' (work in progress) & now I have aired my dirty laundry here, all in a last ditch attempt to compel myself to dispell this UFO into history & keep my reputation as a finsher intact.

Watch this space.....

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Beanies for Babies

Mel Clark from had a fabulous blog a few weeks about the virtues of dressing our wee babes in natural fibres. As a mother to 2 boys myself, I am a HUGE proponent of natural knits for them. Mel has been asking for donations of beanies for babes & she has a midwife to help distribute them. I have contributed 5 from a pattern I have knitted for my own boys & here it is:

This is the perfect project for using up all those left over odds and ends of colourful DK you have littering the bottom of your knitting bag, it’s an easy colour pattern which give a fair isle effect.

To Fit: NB - 3 months
Materials: Main colour (MC) = equivalent to 25gm. Contrast A & B = enough to do 6 rows across 75 sts , 4mm needles, 4mm dbl pointed needles, wool needle for sewing up side seams.

Tension: 22 sts & 30 rows to 10cm over stocking st using 4mm needles. Use this as a loose guide only – this is an easy fit garment & all babies sizes vary, so if you find the fit too large, drop down to a 3.25mm needle, if too small add extra length.

Abbreviations: k = knit. p = purl. st/s = stitch/es. RS = right side. WS = wrong side. Stst = Stocking stitch, knit right side rows, purl wrong side rows. sl1 = slip 1. k2tog = knit 2 together. . p2tog = purl 2 together yb = Yarn back, move yarn from the back of the work to the front of the work. yfwd = Yarn forward, move yarn from the front of the work to the back.

In Main Colour
Cast on 75 sts & Knit 4 rows
WS: p1, yb,sl1, yfwd,( p3, yb, sl1,yfwd) repeat sequence in brackets to last st, p1
RS: k1, sl1( k3, sl1) repeat sequence in brackets to last st, k1

Colour Band
Change to contrast colour A
WS: ( p3, yb, sl1,yfwd) repeat sequence in brackets to end
RS: ( k3, sl1) repeat sequence in brackets to end
Change to contrast colour B
WS: p1, yb,sl1, yfwd,( p3, yb, sl1,yfwd) repeat sequence in brackets to last st, p1
RS: k1, sl1 ( k3, sl1) repeat sequence in brackets to last st, k1
Change to main colour
WS: ( p3, yb, sl1,yfwd) repeat sequence in brackets to end
RS: ( k3, sl1) repeat sequence in brackets to end
Repeat previous 6 rows twice more.
Next Row: WS Purl in MC to end (continue in MC for remainder of hat)

Shape Crown
K2, k2tog ( k10, k2tog) repeat sequence in brackets til last 11 sts, k9, k2tog
Next & every WS row: Purl
K2, k2tog ( k9, k2tog) repeat sequence in brackets til last 10 sts, k to end
K2, k2tog ( k8, k2tog) repeat sequence in brackets til last 9 sts, k to end
Keep shaping in the decreasing pattern until 8 sts remain finishing with a k row.
WS: P2tog four times (4sts)
Make I-Cord
Slip remaining 4 sts onto dbl pointed needle
RS knit
Slide sts to opposite end of needle & pull yarn from last st & knit
Repeat to form I-Cord. Knit until cord measures 8cm.
K2tog twice, slide remaining 2 sts to end of needle
K2tog & bind off

Steam press & sew up side seam being careful to match the coloured rows together. Tuck remainder yarn into I-cord & tie in a top knot.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

What do you mean I can't knit for the dog!?!

I went through a phase a while ago where I got seduced by the plethora of patterns that seemed to be everywhere you look for your pet, you know, the cute cabled jacket for a Jack Russell, the Bolero for the Boxer, that sort of thing. 'I'll knit for Max', I regaled to my husband one evening, 'You are always worried about him getting cold at nights, I'll knit him a coat'... Now once my husband picked himself up off the floor & stopped looking at me with bug eyes, he asked as seriously as he could 'Do they make patterns for Mastiffs?'
'Ummmmm, no haven't come across any, but I am sure I can make something up', which then led to my husband having enough at playing along with this 'whimsy' and declaring that there will be NO knitting for Max the Mastiff. Once I recovered from this knock back I had to seriously consider his point, Max was after all 102Kg's of adorable slobbering canine, did I really want to spend weeks fashioning a garment that would slobbered over, rolled about in & possibly destroyed after it's first outing. No I did not. So there it is, I sold my pattern book for dogs on Trade Me, my dreams of making Dr. Phil & Max matching Aran jumpers was dead & buried, I will just have to vent my knitting furies on the infant... I wonder if my brothers Boxer would like a coat for Christmas?

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Price of Passion

There is a commerical on NZ television at the moment that quotes that 1 in 4 New Zealanders spend more on their hobbies that their families - surely not. That's one million kiwis who choose their own interests over those of their children & their loved ones. Initially I was quite shocked, but that was until I completed a survey that arrived in my inbox today. From Interweave Press, they were asking for feedback on their publications & services, now as a marketer myself, I always make time to complete these. One of the questions posed was what you spend each year on yarn, knit books, accessories blah, blah.... hmmmm now theres a question!

It's amazing what happens when you are faced with the realities of an addiction (see previous post), the good news for me was that I am NOT one of those one million kiwis who spends more on their hobby (what proportion of those are men methinks?) than their family, but I think that is largely due to the fact that my passion is one that can be saited relatively inexpensively. A recent purchase of bespoke sock yarn for $22 has been enough to keep me going for weeks (see pic Hugo dressed in his new vest made by the sock yarn), and I have also helped offset my yarn costs with doing work for my main yarn supplier.
It does make you think that in this tight economic climate when our discretionary dollar is under attack from sky rocketing petrol costs, the grocery bill getting bigger each week, (2 litres of milk is now more that $5), that finding extra cash for our hobbies seems virtually impossible, and yet according to this finance company on the tellie we manage to do it.
Well in defence of all knitters out there who maybe under fire, we have a craft that enables us to provide for the family in either monitary terms or in the form of being able to clothe our nearest & dearest. And if we are lucky enough to relatively recesesion proof, we can then knit for those who aren't so fortunate (see Mel Clarks blog at & see how you can contribute to NZ babies).
Right time to get my credit card out & go shopping!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Brave New World

There is a the well documented phenomenom of the "addiction" gene. The one that can make you more predisposed to smoking, gambling, alcoholism or drugs. I am afraid that this gene is very strong through the maternal side of my family & I have often wondered 'do I have the addict gene?'
I think the answer to this could be 'yes', if an addiction to a hobby & craft qualify. I have been knitting for 25 odd years, give or take, consistantly without a break for the last 5 & I am hoplessly hooked. For years I resisted the lure of stashing yarn, starting multipe projects only go unfinished & literature that would make a librarian swoon, but I have now succumbed (with only 2 UFO's at this stage) now being in possesion of a very large stash of yarn & a pattern library which truely has made the credit card groan.
The good news with all of this is, as addictions go, knitting isn't too bad. If disciplined you can regularly produce well loved items of clothing & soft furnishing for family & friends, even envied. It's an activity which is becoming ever increasingly popular & socially acceptable, & it has even replaced other addictions - I have taught many a friend & rellie to knit who have used this vice to help curb or give up completely other vices (especially smoking).
So if you, like me, have the addiction gene & can thoroughly recommend getting hooked on knitting, clean, safe (except when knitting needles fall into the hands of toddlers - another blog for another time) & for me, my obsession of choice.