2015, Baby, cable projects, Cables, Cardigan, Flat knitting, Gifts, Knitting for Boys, seamless, Sweaters

New Beginnings

Change is the only constant thing, said a wise man once. Some are welcome changes, some not so much. One change which always is welcome is the addition to a family, i.e. arrival of a baby. Don’t try to read something between the lines which doesn’t exist because I am talking about a friend. I have known him for over a decade now. I met him at my very first job, as part of a cultural event. We both are book lovers, so we naturally went onto become friends. Long after I quit that job and hopped onto a few more, we kept in touch, even if it is just for talking about books. He would buy gifts and books for my son, which was very heartwarming. Our friendship strengthened when he went on to marry a friend of mine. Two strong, independent persons coming together to start a new relationship, of which I was somehow part of. My joy knew no bounds. And when the couple called to tell me they are expecting, the first thing that came to my mind (even before I yelled Congratulations!) was what am I going to knit for the baby. I wanted to translate the warm relationship I share with the couple to the knitted items. I didn’t know how, but the knitted items needed to represent the relationships.

A quick dive through my stash turned up this yarn. The softest yarn in the most pleasant colors. I had picked this up on my visit to Singapore and was saving it for a baby to come by and claim it. I wanted this to be a relaxed knit, so my own design was out of the question. Sunnyside pattern seemed like a good choice. I see the twisting cables as the way our lives are twisted together, not in a messy, knotty kind of way, but in a way that looks beautiful and feels warm.

The stockinette part of Sunnyside is easy, and the cables keep it from becoming boring. Top-down, raglan construction with cozy, garter bands on the neckline, sleeve cuffs and the buttonbands.

As much as I love this yarn and can’t get enough of its softness, I did not like it for this pattern. The yarn is loosely plied, to an extent that it is splitty and the cables don’t stand out enough. I still like the end result. It may not be dense and sharp as I like my sweaters to be, but it is soft and warm, which I think babies will prefer.

I still have about half the ball of yarn left, so there will be a hat and may be booties in the near future.

Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: Sunnyside
Yarn: Patons Australia Big Baby 4 Ply

 

 

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2014, Gifts, giveaway

Interview and Giveaway!

Update: This giveaway is now closed. “resident robin” is our winner. Congratulations! Barbara will be contacting the winner soon.

As part of Gift-Along 2014, I am very excited to interview my first featured designer Barbara aka browneyedbabs on Ravelry.

  • What inspired you to become a designer?
    I had learned to knit as a child but didn’t start knitting properly till I was in my mid twenties and people I loved started having babies. I had hardly any spare money so I would make up my own patterns for things to try and recreate products I loved but couldn’t afford – not always successfully! Eventually, I got good enough that I decided to start writing down my patterns and it all went from there.
Jamie the Shetland Puffin

 

  • What aspect/phase of knit design do you enjoy the most? And which one do you enjoy the least?
    My favourite thing is seeing other people enjoying my patterns, I still get a little thrill when I see someone add photos of their finished toys to Ravelry. The worst bit for me is laying out the pattern and taking the photos. It takes a surprisingly long time to make a pattern fit neatly onto the pages and look pretty.

 

  • Do you find time to knit from other designers’ patterns? Who are your favorite designers?
    I don’t get a lot of time to knit other people’s patterns, that’s one of the best things about the giftalong. Like last year, I’m taking a couple of months off from designing to enjoy knitting without having to think. I’ve just cast on the Keikomi cowl with some special yarn and I’m really enjoying it. I also really love patterns by Hilary Smith Callis I made myself one of her Starshower cowls recently as a reward for getting some patterns designed by the magazine deadlines.

 

  • Which patterns in your store can be made as quick holiday gifts?
    My quickest toy is Katie Kitty Puppet, it’s a simple knit and if you’re really in a hurry you can skip the finishing and gift it with glue on googly eyes and felt shapes for a child to decorate it with. Dreamy Owl is another quick pattern and is great for babies.
Dreamy Owl
  • What gifts are you making/knitting for this holiday season?
    This year I’m making cowls, slippers and hats. Some for me and some for friends and family. I’ve got to keep them secret though so that there is a surprise on Christmas morning!

Thank you so much Barbara for taking time to answer these questions. I hope you had as much fun with this interview as I did.

To celebrate the Gift-A-Long, Barbara would like to offer you the opportunity to win one of her patterns. To enter, have a look through Barbara’s patterns and leave a comment about your favorite design of hers. Giveaway ends midnight IST Saturday, November 22. A random winner will be chosen from the comments.

It is so hard to choose one from her lovely collection. Look how cute Duncan the Donkey is.

Duncan the Donkey

Photo credit: All photos are copyright brownyeyedbabs and used with permission.

2013, Cardigan, Child, Colorwork, Flat knitting, Gifts, Knitting for Boys, seamless

Just Chill

I have been a lurker on the Contiguous Sleeves group on Ravelry since a long time. I was introduced to this technique by Elena Nodel when I test knitted her Tomboy Vest. Since then, I wanted to knit more sweaters made with this technique, but as it always happens, never had the time. When Just Chill was put out for testing, which uses a combo of saddle shoulders with contiguous sleeves, I utilized this great opportunity to learn this technique better. Of course the handsome sweater was a factor too.

Just Chill is seamless and knit top down. The two toned look, combined with the saddle shoulders make this sweater very handsome and masculine. The pattern is beginner friendly, with clear instructions. The only tricky part for a beginner could be the attached I-cord for the buttonbands. Well, what is the fun in knitting a sweater which doesn’t offer any challenge.

I chose Knit Picks Shine Worsted in Platinum and Willow. I even had perfect buttons to go with it. Love the wooden look of the buttons. I am racking my brain to recall where I bought this, but it is drawing a blank.

This sweater is headed to Ahmedabad to meet its recipient, Vihaan, a handsome little nephew of mine. He is the latest addition to my huge, extended family and this is my welcome gift to him. My cousin lost her first baby just before she was due for delivery, so this baby is so much more special for her and for us all. Here is wishing Vihaan a long and fruitful life in this world.

2012, Flat knitting, Gifts

Double Espresso

Double knitting has been on my to-do list since ages. The fact that it produces reversible fabric with reversed colors on either side intrigued me. I knew how it works theoretically, but wanted to try my hands at it. I finished working on Annis and wanted something quick and easy as a filler, so I decided to knit this pretty hotpad.

I had some NaturallyCaron’s Country yarn in two shades of brown, which was perfect for this coffee hotpad.  I looked at videos explaining how to cast on with two colors alternately. After going cross-eyed watching those videos, I decided to cast on with two strands held together. Clever, eh? On the next row, I treated each strand as a separate stitch, so I had the required stitch count for both colors.

It took me some time to get used to holding a strand in both the hands, but once I got the hang of it, it was a smooth sail. Working the chart was very addictive. After completing one row, I would be so eager to work on the next row and the just-one-more-row syndrome made this hotpad a very quick knit. Before I knew it, I was casting it off. To match the cast on edge, I cast off treating two strands as one stitch and knitting with both strands together. The small loop is an i-cord knit using two strands held together and attached to the hotpad later on.

The yarn is splitty and was a pain to work with. It was a wrong choice for the hotpad, I wish I had used some sturdy cotton instead. Well, lesson learnt.

My Ravelry Project Page
Pattern:  Coffee and TeaPot Holders
Yarn: NaturallyCaron.com Country
Needle: US 7 4.5mm

2012, Baby, Baby Blanket, Finished Object, Flat knitting, Gifts

A prayer for a baby

The last couple of weeks have been crazy, to say the least. A dear one is fighting a medical problem and there is nothing the rest of us can do, but stand and watch. It sucks to be helpless, right? While this loved one is fighting for life, a cousin of mine is due to give birth to a whole new life. It is great news that she is still carrying the baby inside her at 38 weeks, considering she had a premature birth scare two months back. She has been going through a lot of bad times on the personal front and it was saddening to see her face yet another emotional issue. Thank the almighty, it turned out to be just a scare and things are fine now, but when I heard the news, my decision on the spur was to cast on for a baby blanket with a prayer weaved in every stitch for the baby.

I wanted something mindless, so the focus is on the prayer rather than to keep track of what row I am on. Garter Rib Baby Blanket fit the bill perfectly. I wanted a bigger blanket than I usually make (so the baby can use it in its toddler years too) and hence cast on a larger number. A larger garter border was added to go with the larger blanket. Once the first few rows are done, then it is just one long, mindless knitting. The K3P3 ribbing could have gone faster if I knit continental style, but I was happy with the progress.

I used a new yarn this time. I was told by the Our Own Store guy it is Vardhaman, but our well trusted Rav knitters choose to differ. It is is acrylic, fingering weight for sure, so let’s live with that. I used this yarn held double and with 4.5mm needles, it gives a nice, airy, drapey blanket which is light enough to wrap swathe the baby, but thick enough to keep it warm.

I tried steam blocking acrylic for the first time and I am amazed by the result. I used my Philips Steam Iron which has the ability to give out constant steam. Though it was a slow and tedious process to steam block a big, bad blanket with a measly steam iron, it was all worth it. The uneven stitches evened out, the blanket became drapier and softer. I am wondering why I never treated my previous FOs with a dose of steam.


Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: Garter Rib Baby Blanket
Yarn: Acrylic, fingering weight, held double
Needles: US 7 4.5 mm

 

2011, Gifts

Secret Santa

We had a Secret Santa gift exchange in our Ravelry group. This was my first crafty Secret Santa, so I was nervous how I would do. I wanted to make sure I pick things that my giftee would like and appreciate. I did a lot of post-stalking and went over her questionnaire with a fine tooth comb and made a list of things she likes and does not like. Armed with this list, I headed over to Staples which has become my favorite destination for crafty and stationery shopping. I spent a good one hour in shopping and sorting and I finally had my gift package ready.

 

Blocking pins, a notepad, some paper clips and pins in a magnetic box, post its and a crayon pen, stamping block and glitter for my swap partner’s daughter. I also packed some chocolates for the little girl. And since no gift package for a knitter is complete without yarn, I included a skein of luscious, duke silk yarn.

I am really happy my partner appreciated the things I picked for her.

And for my gift! This is what I received from Vinita. She put so much thought into this gift that she has sent me everything I needed. She must have done some serious post-stalking and research on me.

She sent yummy Knit Picks yarn in a lovely shade of green, a DIY photo frame calendar, lots of cute buttons, a box to hold my button stash (seriously, how thoughtful can someone be!) , a notepad, a handmade card and toys for my three year old. I opened the box and took out one thing after the other and exclaiming every time ‘oh wow, oh wow’. I was breathless by the end of it and if Vinita was around, I would given her one bear hug.

My first crafty Secret Santa was a huge success. I played Santa to someone and made her happy and was blown away with the thoughtful gifts from my Santa. Cannot wait for the next Christmas. Too bad the wait is too long!

2011, Baby, Finished Object, Flat knitting, Gifts, Girls, Lace, Sweaters, Test Knitting

Yellow, yellow…

Looks like test knitting is the only kind of knitting I am involved in. I recently finished test knitting the Wheatspikes Vest for Sole and before I knew it, I had signed up for another test knit. I am expecting a few additions in my cousins’ families, so want to knit something warm for the expected babies. I love knitting things for infants because they knit up so fast that they are done before you realize it and kid knits are so cute, aren’t they?

Inge Sandholt’s cardigan is a cute, little cardigan, knit flat, bottom-up using sock weight yarn. I had bought some 2-ply acrylic yarn from Surya Emporium intending to use it for an intarsia-cum-fair isle pullover for my husband, but that never worked out. I started off with the main color but had a fear that I might run out of  yarn, so added a few stripes of a contrast color. It turned out to be a wise decision because I did run out of yarn and I had to knit the sleeves in contrast color.

The pattern is well written and is sized from 0-3 to 24 months. It is ideal for someone who is a newbie knitter and wants to try simple lace which involves slipped stitches and yarn overs. The back was the most boring part to knit. The front parts keep you engaged with the 4-row mock cable pattern. Sleeves, of course, get done in a jiffy. It helped that I made them in stripes so I looked forward to the next color change.

The cardigan is generously sized – even though I knit this one in 0-3 months size, it should easily fit a 6 months old baby. I think it will look great on a baby girl. It does have a feminine look to it.

Pattern: Frank & Mathilda by Inge Sandholt
Yarn: 100 gms. of main color and ~50 gms of contrast color
Needles: US 2 2.75mm straights
Ravelry Project Page