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:




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

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.

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,