A winter’s tale

Although you would never believe it, one month of winter is already done and dusted.

Photo shows winter sun in Dubbo
The sun has been shining for weeks and the only hint that winter is around is the long shadows in the late afternoon.

I don’t know what it is like where you live, but here in Dubbo, we are still experiencing quite warm temperatures.

The only hint that winter is about, is that the shadows get very long in the afternoons and it cools down considerably about 3.30pm.

Despite the milder weather, plenty of knitting is getting done at Grammazoo’s. What about at your place? How are your winter projects progressing?


Grammazoo has been very industrious completing several projects during this past month.

The biggest job completed this month was a pram blanket and matching beanie for Arthur’s new cousin.

Photo of pram blanket handknitted by Grammazoo
I changed the design for Elijah from a solid block of garter stitch to a block of garter stitch stripes.

I knitted the blanket to the same pattern I used for Arthur when he was born, but changed it slightly for little Elijah by knitting the garter stitch square as garter stitch stripes.

The beanie is way too big at this stage, but these little boys have rather large heads and I am sure Elijah will grow into it very soon.

If you are interested, the pattern is a free download from Tin Can Knits. For Arthur I used Patons Jet, and for Elijah’s blanket, I used Debbie Bliss Donegal Luxury Tweed, both yarns worked very well.

Photo of blue beanie
The blue beanie was knitted in Debbie Bliss Donegal Luxury Tweed Aran, and the colour was Denim. For the band I used a plain white 8ply.

Arthur of course has been the beneficiary of other projects finished this month.

His beanie wardrobe grew by two, one of them from my learn to crochet classes.

His little blue beanie came from German designer Rita Maassen from Fashionworks.

Once again this is a free pattern and I found it at loveknitting.com.

There was also another little vest to keep his middle warm.

Photo of Arthur wearing his new tank top
Arthur’s little retro tank top was a big hit.

For that I used the same pattern as for his earlier vest, knitting it a bit longer than the pattern says and adjusting the pattern accordingly.

My learn to crochet classes are going well and to date I have mastered six stitches and finished two usable projects.

The first I featured last month (the pixie baby hat) and this month I created a Rabbitohs’ beanie and scarf for my favourite little man.

Photo of Arthur wearing his Rabbitohs' gear.
Our little Rabbit is ready for the footy.

To complete this project I needed to learn how to create and work with a magic circle, double chain stitch, front post double chain and back post double chain stitches.

Suffice to say after this marathon effort, I have thoroughly mastered double chain stitch.

Because I am learning, I used an acrylic yarn, but it worked well enough.

Next season I will knit him a proper Rabbits’ beanie and scarf with proper bunny patches sewn on, Dad (Matthew), that’s a promise!

I still have a few incomplete projects, some I have designated as Christmas presents, others are in the wings, waiting for all the important stuff to get done.

I have a couple of big shawls to work on as well, so the hands are never idle.

Photo of pieces of Grammazoo's next project.
Grammazoo’s next project.

Before I get to all of that though, my latest project has got me really excited, for two reasons.

Firstly, I am actually being paid to do this job, a first for Grammazoo to date and secondly, this is going to be one of the cutest projects I have ever attempted.

At right are the first few pieces of this new project. There are still a couple to go in this section before I can piece it all together. Can you guess what this project is? Let me know what you think in the comments below. I promise I won’t keep you hanging for too long.

Hopefully by next month (or earlier if you check Facebook), the first of this commission will be finished and on display. Full details will be revealed as the project is completed.


Little Luxuries contains 23 designs in 133 pages of stash-busting ideas for under 100grams of yarn.

We all have that precious hank of yarn that’s just waiting for the perfect project to come along.

Little Luxuries is all about stash-busting those treasured skeins with projects that require under 100 grams of yarn.

Filled with accessories with sweet touches and feminine flair, this collection includes gorgeous shawls and shawlettes, warm cowls, cozy mittens, and stylish hats worthy of your most special skeins!


I started this section way back in April highlighting the two different types of Angora and what they were best used for.

Arthur’s alpaca vest.

I thought this month I would speak about alpaca, having recently completed a little vest for Arthur in this fabulous yarn.

Believe it or not, the Alpaca is a member of the camel family.

There are two types of Alpaca: the Huacayo and Suri and the difference between the two is in the fleece.

Huacayo Alpaca
Suri Alpaca

The suri’s fleece is fine and silky and can grow very long.

Long enough in fact to touch the ground if the animal is not sheared.

The Huacayo on the other hand has a shorter and coarser fleece than its long-haired counterpart.

The shaggy coat can vary in colour from black or brown through lighter shades of gray and tan to pale yellow and, sometimes, white.

Overall the fleece is very lightweight, strong, is lustrous, has a high insulation value and is resistant to rain and snow. (from https://www.britannica.com/animal/alpaca#ref17973)

Is there a difference between sheep’s wool and alpaca fleece?

The short answer to this question is generally yes.

I read many articles while researching this question and the general concensus was “Alpaca is as soft as cashmere, warmer than sheep’s wool, hypoallergenic and almost completely waterproof”. (http://alpacasofmontana.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/sheeps-wool-vs-alpaca-fleece.html).

The fibre from the alpaca is hollow giving greater insulation than sheep’s wool which contains pockets of air.

It is naturally hypoallergenic because it contains no lanolin and needs no processing before spinning.

Its luxurious and silky feel means it is not prickly, as wool can be, against the skin. Like wool, it is does not retain water, keeping its insulating properties even when wet.

LoveKnittingThere is always a downside to such luxury – Alpaca takes a bit more care when washing than wool.

With a bit more research, I found plenty of good information for the care and washing of your alpaca garment.

It may seem like a lot of work, but if you are going to the trouble (and cost) of using Alpaca in your project, it is worth caring for it properly.

Check out any one of these sites for more information:

https://choicealpacaproducts.com/blogs/news/67807683-simple-alpaca-products-care-instructions 

https://www.novica.com/blog/how-to-clean-and-care-for-alpaca-products/ 

http://www.australianalpaca.com/page.mibiznez?id=633


There was a happy ending for these battery hens who were saved from being landfill after a lifetime of producing eggs for you and me.

There is certainly something to be said for buying free range eggs when you see the state these poor birds were in.

Click here to read their story from ABC rural reporter Marty McCarthy.


This simple stitch and pattern came to me via email, but it took my fancy and I thought it would be a great pattern if you are just learning to knit.

The stitch is Mistake Rib, a simple K2, P2 rib but because you use an odd number of stitches, the rib is out by one stitch.

It is ideal for a scarf or cowl to keep you warm in the winter.

The following pattern for a simple ‘man’ scarf was attached to the email.

This was 19 stitches in 8ply wool. For a man, I feel I would have to double that number at least.

I am not so sure the width is enough for a man in the Aran weight, bulky may be much better.

If you still don’t think it is wide enough, you can always add more stitches so long as you have an odd number.

Man-Stitch Scarf (Mistake Rib Scarf) Pattern – Liat Gat

Materials:
300 yds worsted (aran, bulky-weight yarn), set of straight knitting needles in the appropriate size for your yarn

Finished Measurements:
5½ inches wide by 5 to 6 feet long, depending on your taste.

Pattern Instructions:
CO 27 (23, 19) sts.
Row 1: (K2, p2) across to last st., end p1.
Repeat Row 1 to desired scarf length.
BO in pattern.

Finishing:
Weave in ends and wear!


An interesting tip I found this month was for increasing the number of stitches in your work.

To be honest, I had no idea there were so many different ways and that some of them were more invisible than others.

For my part, apart from a yarn over, which leaves an obvious hole in your work, and which I would only use when doing lacey work anyway, the only way I knew to increase was to M1 which is knit into the front and back of the same stitch.

This method gives you a little bar in your work which can be handy for counting between rows on sleeves, but if you need to increase for some reason in the middle of your work (as I have had to recently), the little bar is very obvious.

Thanks to Deborah’s Knitting I now have a few more techniques to try, some of which are more invisible than others.

I had to have a go at the varying ways of making an extra stitch and have decided that the most invisible is either one of M1L or M1R.

Or as Deborah comments … “For absolute symmetry when increasing at the beginning and end of a row, for example, use M1L on one side and M1R on the other.”

How do you increase the number of stitches in your work? Do you have a different way again that you can share with the community? Let me know in the comments below.


A bit of fun for the beginning of a new month.

Test your knitting knowledge with this little brain teaser. I got 10/10, what will you get?

Click here to start. Don’t forget to leave your results in the comments so we can compare notes.


Joining yarn, aaagh, it is the age-old problem.

When is the best time to do it? Is there a correct way to do it?

I always try to start a new row with the new ball of yarn, but sometimes there seems so much waste. Also it often leads to unevenness along the edge for seaming.

These two little videos provide neat techniques, that while a little fiddly, stop wastage and provide a seamless join for your work.

I really like the Spit Splicing and have yet to try the Russian join. It seems the more complicated of the two. Let me know what you think in the comments below.


Do you knit your own dishcloths?

It is not something I have ever thought to do, but they are a good project for the beginner knitter and a useful one at that.

The Knit Picks website offers a dishcloth for everyday of the year. Pick your favourite from their range of free patterns or try the lot. The choice is yours!

Click on the image below and be amazed.


Words of wisdom from the ‘yarn harlot’, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, in her book Things I learned from knitting.

Knitting is still trying to teach me

“That no matter how well you knit, looking at your work too closely isn’t helpful. It’s like kissing with your eyes open: nobody looks good that close up.”

So true!


Tiger with the cone on his head to keep him from chewing his stitches.
Tiger sits quietly in his cone of silence. I just wonder how long it will be until I have to restrain him – forcibly!

Before I go, a small update on our Tiger Tales!

Our little man is very sad. A trip to the vet’s has put paid to future Tigers and peace of mind for the rest of us.

He will recover and I am sure I am going to have a hard time keeping him quiet for the next 10 days.

Wish me luck!

And on that note, I wish you all a very happy second month of winter.

As I write the last paragraphs of this post, we have had our first rain since I can’t remember when, good rain too. It is also quite cold, so cold in fact, I have had the heating on all day. I think winter has finally hit!

Until next month, keep safe and well,

 

 

Been a while

It has been a while since my last post, Easter no less. I am sorry for that, but sometimes life just gets in the way of all best laid plans.

Needless to say, I have still been busy knitting and with so many projects on the go, I thought projects, (yours and mine), would be as good as any place to start, particularly as I have even managed to finish a few.

A plastic bag full of the hoodie in its many pieces, some still under construction
The hoodie in its many pieces, some still under construction

Not sure if you remember the pile of pieces I had with me while visiting Melbourne during the last school holidays.

They were to be a hoody for my little man (who, by the way, turned one this month).

Finishing off has never been one of my strongest points, and it soon became clear the hoodie wasn’t going to come together by itself.

The hoodie sewn together in its entirety, with matching bootees
I finally got all the pieces sewn together and this was the end result

And no, I don’t have any hints to make it easier. I only wish!

I bit the bullet and set to work on a rainy Saturday afternoon in front of the footy. The result was very pleasing (as was the result of the footy, I think it was the weekend Collingwood did Geelong’s head in, ha ha).

Continue reading “Been a while”

Grand opening

Ta dah!

Finally, the grand opening of ‘grammazooknits’ on etsy.com.au has been achieved. The stock is small, but the ideas are huge with more to be added as the weeks roll by.

These little fellows are just a few of the ideas I have actually worked at this stage. I have ideas for many more and the plan is to eventually write patterns for each and sell the patterns. They are simple to knit, but even I don’t want to spend my whole life knitting.

If you have any other ideas for egg cosies, let me know and I will have a go at making them.

Take a peek at what I have done so far by clicking on the link below: https://www.etsy.com/au/shop/grammazooknits

Thank you all for your support


How very true these few words are.

Actions always say a lot more than mere words which can be rolled off the tip of the tongue without, in some cases, too much thought.

 

 

 


Continue reading “Grand opening”

Big is back

An article crossed my desk last week and at first I dismissed it, but since starting this blog, I have noticed that yarns are getting thicker and patterns similarly, accommodate these thicker yarns.

Personally I have always gone for the finer yarns, in many cases preferring to wear machine knitted garments over the bulkier hand knit.

Being small, I find the thicker yarns make me look bigger than I really want to look.

However, it seems, I have to find a compromise as according to the dictates of fashion, big is back.

Mind you, some of these designs leave a lot to be desired and by the look on the models’ faces, I feel they think the same. However, it is interesting that this could be the way we are headed.

Click here to read the article and check out more of the designs. Leave me a message, I would love to know what you think.


Continue reading “Big is back”

Time flies …

Hello again,

I am not sure where my time goes, but go it does and as I find the end of March getter nearer, I really have to get my ‘a into g’.

I have been very busy trying to finish of my many projects, as well as getting ready to open my shop on Etsy.

Peter the Penguin has finally been completed and I am really chuffed with the result.

It is his eyes that make him so distinctive. They are a real feature of all of Amanda Berry’s designs.

Arthur’s tank top is almost there (see Grammazoo’s good advice below).

I have struggled with this project because of the way the Alpaca has knitted up, but after reading an article about Alpacas and their wool, I understand the problem and why.

I still have some of this beautiful wool left for another project and am hoping with my new-found knowledge, I will manage a far better result.

The stock for the Etsy opening has been the main focus of my work this week. While the little items don’t take a lot of time to knit, finishing them off does, particularly when you leave them all to be finished at once …


Continue reading “Time flies …”

The luck of the Irish

Thankyou for stopping by on this great day for the Irish.

Grammazoo has been busy finishing off and prioritising projects this week, as well as preparing for the grand opening of her shop at Etsy.com.au

Preparation for the shop has taken longer than first thought, so I have delayed the opening until the beginning of April. Knitting and finishing of stock is continuing so I can really do this properly.

Lowest prices on the best yarn - guaranteed at knitpicks.com

Continue reading “The luck of the Irish”

3D shoes

Hello and welcome back to another week

Grammazoo’s second email will be delivered to your inbox Wednesday with lots of things not featured on the website or on Facebook.

Featured at the top of the list is the monthly pattern for members only. I can’t wait to show you.

It is something for the young and the young at heart. It is easy to knit, and is something you can dress up or down.

Make sure you don’t miss out, it isn’t too late to subscribe.


Out of the mouths of babes

Lowest prices on the best yarn - guaranteed at knitpicks.comI love my little quote book by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee and this next quote just goes to show how much notice children actually do take of what is going on around them.

I am not sure I would take my knitting while going shopping or to the bank, but this little girl has obviously noticed the therapeutic affect knitting has on her mother, and felt it would certainly help the little boy’s mother.

It is the working man who is the happy man.
It is the idle man who is the miserable man.

Benjamin Franklin

My daughter and I were trapped in a seemingly endless bank line. Now me, I’m an experienced mother. I had a children’s book, a baggie of snacks, and my knitting in my purse. I’ve been in this line before and now I come prepared. The woman in line ahead of us had come with nothing but her son and her wits, and she was showing clear signs of not only losing her temper but also developing a twitch over one eye. My daughter watched the woman become increasingly agitated and finally commented to the woman’s son, “your mum should get some knitting; that’s what my mummy looks like without it”.

I recognise that knitting can improve my mood
in trying circumstances.

Stephanie Pearl – McPhee


3D knitted shoes, what next?

There isn’t much that can’t be printed or in this case, knitted in 3D these days.

These shoes sound incredibly comfortable, particularly as you can buy one for each foot completely separately.

Cutting down on waste, they are certainly eco-friendly, but I wonder about their practicality.

How weatherproof would they be? I know with sneakers that I have had with a knitted component, my feet still get awfully wet in winter and what’s more, I go through the toes in next to no time.

I understand that perhaps I walk a little differently to others, but it is still a problem for me. Wouldn’t it be the same for these shoes?

There is also no mention of cost, only that they are cost-effective to make. Nah, give me leather anytime.

Have a read of the article and let me know what do you think?


Pattern of the week – Child’s cushion by Amanda Berry

These are just some of the lovely cushion designs by Amanda Berry.

This week’s pattern is something different, a cushion or pillow for the children’s room or family room, but definitely for the children.

In my travels on Google, I found a series of cushions by designer Amanda Berry that I thought you would really like.Wool Yarn from Knit Picks

They are perfect on a child’s bed or chair and there are so many to choose from, each child is able to choose their own.

Amanda Berry’s designs all feature the enormous, odd eyes that are immediately irresistible.

For my mind, I fell in love with the penguin. I have already named him Peter and am very happy to share him with you.

For a copy of Amanda Berry’s Penguin Cushion pattern go to grammazoo.com.au/patterns/

Please be aware that this pattern is copyrighted and cannot be sold on. I have paid for the privilege of its use and am sharing with you for your use only.


Did you know – there is a giant, pink rabbit in the Alps?

The pink rabbit. If you Google pink rabbit, Gelatin, you will be able to read lots more.

And no, I have not been drinking, yet!

There is a giant, hand-knitted pink rabbit clinging to the side of the Alps near Piedmont in Italy.

This giant pink ‘Bugs’ was created by the Gelatin Collective, a group of four artists from Vienna in Austria.

These guys are known for their very large and often strange works, and this piece is meant to make people feel small, in the vein of Gulliver.

The 61 metre (200 foot), long, pink knitted rabbit – ‘Hase’ – was created using 1000 kg of pink wool, and took dozens of ‘grannies’ more than a year to knit the basic shape. It took a further seven weeks to stuff and put it in place. It makes the pink pussy hats look very small to be sure.

A big tourist attraction in the Alps, it is not just for looking at or walking around. You are actually encouraged to explore and climb it, even take a picnic on its belly.

The collective hopes that the sculpture will exist for 20 years. I will be interested to see how the fabric stands up to the elements. It is free for the public to explore.


T-shirt yarn project

Please remember I adapted this pattern from a crochet pattern. To see the crochet pattern go to http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/hug-me-or-else-t-shirt-yarn-monster

 

You will be pleased to know my T-shirt yarn project is finally finished and I have a scary monster for my new puppies to play with.

They love it and have already taken the button-eyes off and chewed them to pieces. As I write the monster is taking a breather in the back yard. Both dogs are out of the heat and under the airconditioning, waiting for dinner.

I think when you see the end result, you will appreciate why the little hand bag wouldn’t have worked.

The monster has lumps and bumps where there shouldn’t be, compliments of the seams in the T-shirts I used.

This is the original crochet monster by Recoverista on Ravelry.

It works well for a scary monster, but the clutch is far too elegant and as I have mentioned in an earlier post, either seamless T-shirts or commercially-produced T-shirt yarn would be best for that particular project.

A knitting pattern for the monster will be available for download on the pattern page by the end of the week if you are interested in having a go. It is not perfect, and if you have any suggestions to modify it, please let me know.

 


Weekend project update

Aagh the never-ending weekend project. How you must dread it.

I must admit this one intrigued me, no needle sizes, no ply suggested, it was anyone’s guess. The fact it came from two centuries ago, was enough for me to try it.

I used a 4ply Alpaca blend with 4mm straight needles and knitted my little piece of 19th Century pattern with the following result.

It was very pretty to be sure, and with enough length would make a very beautiful, false collar with its little picket edge for a jumper, or really any other round necked garment. What do you envisage for this little piece of history?

I would love to know and I am sure there are a lot of others in the same boat out there. Thank you for having a go.

 

 

Welcome Tiger

Standoff at the OK corral.

It was dogs at 10 paces at Grammazoo’s yesterday.

We have acquired a new member to the family and the fabulous Pi is none to impressed. But Tiger is here to stay, so she will just have to get used to the idea.

Tiger is a kelpie x coolie, just seven weeks old and for all the world looks just like a hyena.

Like all babies, Tiger still spends a lot of time asleep.

I did think of calling him Hy, but I thought Pi and Hy was a bit much.

We now have two sheep dogs in the family and no sheep for them to round up which can be a problem, but lots of walks and hopefully, when Pi comes around, lots of chasing around in the back yard will wear them both out.

Continue reading “Welcome Tiger”

Nuturing knitting

In these days of instant gratification, using a loom may just be enough to inspire a child to start knitting.

This heart-warming story melted my heart and reminded me of the many times I have tried to teach my granddaughter to knit, without much success I might say.

Keira was about eight when she noticed me knitting (one of the famous Grammazoo shawls) for the very first time. She was fascinated and by hook or by crook, decided this was what she wanted to do.

She pestered me for wool and needles, and after the promised trip to the shops the next day, we arrived home with some lovely purple wool – her favourite colour – and a set of appropriately-sized knitting needles.

Continue reading “Nuturing knitting”