SOCK KNITTING Part 1

Happy Mothers Day!

I do hope you enjoyed your Mothers’ Day as much as I did. 

I would like to introduce the Newcastle Farmers’ Market. This fresh food market is fantastic for fresh produce direct from the producers and includes small artisan made items. The Umbrella Artisans carries some of our Ecoyarns, including some of Vivian’s handspun yarns and fibres and batts for spinning or felting.

The Ecoyarns Top Down Sock was previewed several weeks ago, if you missed the instructions, here they are again

For those who are really keen to cast on those Top-down socks, Using 2.25mm needles, cast on 64 stitches and join in the round. K2 p2 for 20 rows.

Use either double pointed needles (dpns) or 2 circular needles

The yarn I am using is ANNA, this yarn knits up at a light fingering to fingering guage for the Americans, or 3-4 ply for us Aussies.

It is perfect for baby items like booties and socks of course.

Materials:
2.25mm needles dpns
Sock yarn 100g for an average sized foot. Larger feet will need more yarn.

Cast on 65 stitches onto one needle, divide the stitches onto 3 needles ( usually 20, 20, 25 stitches). Carefully join into a round. The last stitch is passed over to the first needle and it and the first stitch cast on are then knitted together for a jogless join. See picture.
Mark beginning of round. 
I used the Twisted German Cast On as I find it strong yet stretchy. This LINK takes you to a YouTube Video to show how it is done.

Rounds 1-20 : K2 P2 repeat till end of round.
Option to K2 P2 for 10cm.

Round 21: Knit all stitches.
Round 22: (Knit 3, Purl 1) repeat till end of round.
Rounds 23-24 : Knit al stitches.

Repeat Rounds 21-24 until leg measures 12 cm (or until length preferred).

Sock_1Sock_2Sock_3Sock_4Sock_5
Sock_6_k2tog
Sock_7
Sock_8
Next week we will continue the pattern from the heel of the sock.

Photo competition

Fancy being a winner?
Send in your photos of items made with Ecoyarns or Fabrics, including laces and go in our draw for prizes.
Send photos to ecoyarnstore@ecoyarns.com.au by the 31st of May to enter the draw.
Winners will be drawn on the 3rd of June.

First prize $100 gift voucher
Second prize $50 gift voucher
Third prize $30 gift voucher

Please include your name, email address and postal address.

Legal bits: You own the right to the photograph, we only ask that we have your permission use the photo on the Ecoyarns website, emails or blog for 2012 only.

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Tutorial: Winding a (mini) skein of yarn using basic household items

Hello! How is everyone today? It’s starting to feel like winter is almost upon us here in Sydney. I’ve actually started wearing my handknitted sweaters again. Yay!

Today’s blog post is to complement Vivian’s tutorial a few weeks ago about skeining and balling hand-dyed yarn. I have an alternative method to show you where I use basic household items to wind skeins of yarn into balls. I find this way of winding especially good for winding mini sampler skeins of yarn. My pretty sampler skein is from Kathy’s Fibres and it was part of the Ewe Beaut Fibre Sampler. Pretty, isn’t it?

Did you know that Ecoyarns is a regular contributer to Ewe Beaut and other sampler boxes? Subscribe now to our blog (RSS) and newsletter (email) so you never miss out!

Tools you’ll need:
2 heavy containers – I use a coffee tumbler and coffee jar filled with water
Toilet paper roll 

20120506 Winding tools

1. Unwind your skein and untie the ends. A larger skein of yarn probably has shorter bits of yarn tied around the skein to hold it together. Remove these. 

2. Place the untwisted skein over the containers as shown below. For larger skeins, use the back of two chairs as Vivian explained in her tutorial.

20120506 Wind yarn around jars

3. Cut 2 slits on opposings sides (on one end) of your toilet paper roll. Slip one end of the yarn into the toilet paper roll. See pictures below.

4. Start winding the yarn around the toilet paper roll. Do this for a few rounds. Keep a loose, even tension.

20120506 Wind yarn around toilet paper roll

5. Wind the yarn at an angle and slowly move the toilet paper roll around. It should start looking like this. 

20120506 Keep winding around toilet paper roll

6. Ta-da! You have now wound a skein into a ball. I find that knitting directly from this toilet paper roll is easier when you don’t have much yarn. But if you started with a full size skein, then you can just squeeze the toilet paper roll and slide it out. It then becomes a neat centre-pull ball.

20120506 Wound mini skein

I’ve shown you a sneek peak of my current project. I used this pretty handpainted yarn to finish the baby kimono I knitted for my girl. But that’s for another week. I can’t wait to show you the finished product. To quote the hubby, “That’s the cutest thing you’ve made so far!” :))

Happy knitting!

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Cotton Jersey + Muslin Baby Set

It’s funny where we get inspiration. I was at Spotlight looking for fabric to sew a teddy bear and came across the cutest printed muslin fabric. Even my hubby got excited over it and actually told me to buy it. HE told ME to buy MORE fabric. Strange but true! 

I wasn’t actually sure what to make with the muslin. I didn’t even know how much I needed. I just bought a metre and thought I’ll make some washcloths or a small wrap for my baby. I’m 25 weeks pregnant now. How time flies! She’ll be here in no time. Yikes! So many things to do still.

Anyway, I digress. I was inspired by this blanket and this baby wrap tutorials. I thought I could combine them and make my own baby blanket out of the muslin fabric and the organic cotton jersey fabric from Ecoyarns, which has been in my fabric stash for yonks. The final result is beauuuttifulll and better than expected. I’m so proud to show you my first ever baby blanket.

Muslin blanket on crib rail

Yep. That’s the name we’ve picked for our baby girl. Baby Yasmin. Do you like it?

Muslin blanket folded

Muslin blanket both sides

I used the organic cotton jersey fabric for the back and the quirky printed muslin for the front. The jersey fabric gives a good weight and warmth to the blanket. I think it’ll be a great year round blanket for Sydney’s weather.

Muslin blanket pile

To be honest, I want one for myself! It’s just so soft and squishy. Hubby and I were fighting over it on the sofa. Hahaha…

Muslin blanket in cot

If you’re thinking that I was so clever to combine the red and brown for the binding, think again. It was a big fluke! I didn’t know how much bias tape I needed and I could not decide on the colour at Spotlight. So I bought one pack each (5 metres per pack) and it was a good thing I did! When I was doing the binding, I realised I needed both packs so that’s why it’s half brown and half red. A wonderful accident!

Here’s another excellent tutorial I would like to share. As this was my first time sewing on bias tape, I was rather clueless. YouTube video tutorial from Amy Karol to the rescue! It is truly a no-swear method.

Well, it won’t be a baby set if it was just a blanket, right? Of course not. I sewed matching hats too. Ta-da…

Cotton baby hats

Aren’t they just so sweet? The organic cotton jersey fabric was the star of the show this time. You can find the clear photo tutorial and template here to sew your own baby hats.

I’m as proud of these baby hats as I am with the blanket. I overcame my fear of sewing with jersey knit fabric and even learned to use the elastic overlock stitch on my sewing machine. Yay me!

Cotton blanket and hat set

Well I hope I’ve inspired you to get sewing. Something. Anything. Instant gratification is such a good therapy for busy people like you and me. To enable you even more, I would like to remind you that Ecoyarns FINAL FABRIC CLEARANCE is still on. All fabrics are 50% off! Yessereee. A big fat 5-0. I cannot emphasize to you more how cool an opporutunity this is to stock up on organic cotton fabric. And ladies, it’s a clearance. Once they’re gone, they’re gone forever.

Go on then. Go crazy. It’s your last chance! 

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Skeining and balling a hand-dyed yarn

Alright. So now you have a skein of yarn, dried on the line after getting really bright with jelly colours. What are you going to do with this? 

Option 1: Skein/Hank it up and store it because you already have several other projects on the needles so this has to wait. This form reduces stress on the yarn, so this is the preferred option for longer term storage. The yarn will not be overstretched when you knit your garment.

OR

Option 2: Wind it into a ball now and cast on immediately. There are many sock and shawl patterns that would work with this amount of yarn.

Over the next few weeks we will bring you a simple sock pattern step by step.

1) Skeining/Hanking

I stretch the yarn between my two hands with my finger through the loop at both ends, then rotate one hand to start twisting. At one point the yarn will start to twist on itself, at this point, hold your hands firmly at the same distance from each other and add another 2 twists to the yarn, then rapidly bring your hands together allowing the extra twist to move into the skein. Tuck one end into the loop at the other end and TA-DA! there is a skein/hank.

There should be a nice fluffy twist to the yarn. 

When I first tried this, it took me about 10 tries to get it right.

_skeining_1
Skeining_2Skeining_3Skeining_4Skeining_5

2) Winding into a Ball by hand

I asked my kids to demonstrate this. First one person holds the yarn taut with their hands/forearms.The other person gently finds the ties that hold the yarn together and very carefully unties the knots. Usually two ends are tied together for security, pick either one, but if one end clearly lies on the outside of the skein, then start winding with this. Sometimes there are 2 ends tied onto different parts of the skein, pick one that looks the least tangled.

Winding
Winding_2_butterflyWinding_6Winding_3Winding_9Winding_7

Start winding the yarn onto your hands, forming a figure 8 between your thumb and pinkie. When this little bundle gets slightly puffy, release your fingers, fold it in half and start winding the yarn around across the strands.

Continue winding this way until there is a sizable ball in your hands, rotating the growing ball of yarn every few times as yarn is wound onto the ball.

I know some very clever people that can make perfect spheres, egg shapes and can even leave the inside yarn tail in the middle as a center pull ball.

As you are winding, try not to pull the yarn too taut, because if the yarn is stored that way, it can lose some elasticity and give an incorrect gauge when knitting with overstretched yarn. The correct tension for your ball should feel like it gives a little when squeezed, like a juggling ball, not hard like a cricket ball.

Well, frankly handwinding is pretty tedious and boring, and there might not be a willing volunteer to hold the yarn for you. Thats ok, try the back of a chair, or flip the chair over and drape the yarn over the legs. Or invest in a swift and ball winder.

PREVIEW:

For those who are really keen to cast on those Top-down socks, Using 2.25mm needles, cast on 64 stitches and join in the round. K2 p2 for 20 rows.

Use either double pointed needles (dpns) or 2 circular needles

more pictures and instructions coming in 2 weeks as Salihan is our blogger next week!

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Jelly Dyeing Just for Fun

Salihan asked for some pretty green, pink and purple yarn to use for her expected baby and I thought: “Ah Ha!” perfect excuse to do some Jelly Dyeing.

So, I pulled out some simple kitchen items and found some jelly packets. Rummaged in the shop and pulled out the Undyed Sock yarns. This became a morning of fun for me and my kids in this Easter school holidays. Whilst the materials are safe and kids usually have lots of fun putting colours onto yarn, an adult supervisor is always recommended. 

Materials:

  • Yarn undyed 100% wool we used Tamara 100% Wool Tweed yarn 100g and Anna 100% Falkland Wool 100g
  • Bowls or dishes
  • Jars for mixing the jelly
  • Packets of Jelly: Purple (Port Wine) Pink (Bubblegum) Green (Lime) Blue (Berry Blue)
  • We used Aeroplane Jelly, any coloured jelly will work (Jelly made with natural colours will give colours that are muted)
  • Stirrer, tongs as required
  • Protective items: aprons, gloves
  • Kettle for boiling water
  • Microwave

Jelly_dye_1

Firstly, I tied the Tamara yarn in 3 places. Not too tight, or the colour will not penetrate the yarn.

I soaked the yarns in warm tap water so they are thoroughly wet. Anyone fancy a bit of yarn spaghetti? or “Pisghetti” as my 4 yo says it.

Jelly_dye_spaghetti

Empty the jelly packets into the jars and add about 100-200ml of boiling water, stir well. I tend not to be exact with water quantity as it does not affect the final result. The way you apply the colour will change the final result. More on this in a future post.

Jelly_dyeing_2

With my gloved hands, I separated the Tamara yarn into 3 bowls, then poured the 3 different colours (pink, purple and green) into the bowls and pushed the yarn into the colour mixture gently with a stirrer. Making sure the white parts of the yarn also receive some colour. 

Jelly_dye_x3

Place this 3 bowl extravaganza into the microwave. Turn microwave on High for 3 minutes.

Jelly_dye_microwave

If there are some white spots that you want coloured, used gloved hands or tongs to squeeze the white yarn through the colour solutions gently and repeat the 3 minutes the in the microwave. Remove yarn and bowls from microwave carefully. (Don’t scald yourself) Let them cool, then gently pick the yarn up without tangling, very gently squeeze out the excess jelly liquid then place it in plenty of warm water. The water should be bath water temperature.

Soak for 5 min or so. Gently remove, very gently wring dry (or roll in a towel) and hang to dry. Repeat the rinse process if there is remaining jelly smells or any stickiness.

Jelly_dye_tweed

See how the Tamara yarn creates a tweedy effect. This is one strand of superwash wool which take dye up faster and has a stronger intensity, and 2 strands of non superwash wool, which absorbs slightly less colour.

I then prepared the Anna yarn the same way then placed it in a bowl with some warm water. I wanted to achieve a slightly variegated effect, so I poured the colour solution into the middle of the yarn in the bowl, and did not mix it. Then placed in Microwave for 3 min. Allow to cool and rinse as for the other yarn. 

Jelly_dye_blue
Jelly_dye_blue1

Once the yarn is dry, wind into a ball and use for your favourite project. Happy Jelly Dyeing!

I will ask Salihan which yarn she prefers for her baby, and the other yarn is destined to be a new pair of socks. Stay in touch for step by step sock knitting instructions using the yarns you have dyed!

Jelly_dye_on_rack

General Notes:

Be careful not to scald yourself

Wear gloves for protection

Handle the yarn gently as agitation or rapid temperature changes can cause the yarn to felt.

The colour effects are dependent on amount of colour to amount of yarn and the method of application of the colour. Saturated colours require more colouring agent. More on this in a future post.

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Easter is just a hop away!

Crochet Easter Bunny

Look who’s popped over to say hello today. It’s Miss Bunny. *waves* She’s very excited because Easter is just a hop and a skip away. She was looking for chocolate Easter eggs and got stuck in the fruit bowl. Silly girl. I helped her out of course.

Crocher bunny and bear (sides)

She was looking high and low for the chocolate eggs when she felt someone following her. Who is behind you, Miss Bunny?

Crochet bear

Oh! It’s your beary good friend, Little Sleepy Bear. Hello cutie pie! Are you looking for chocolate Easter eggs too? *nods*

Crochet Bunny and bear

I hope both of you find those chocolate eggs. I’m sure there’s some around somewhere. 🙂

Crochet pattern: Crochet Spring Bunnies (It’s free!)
Yarn: EcoOrganic Cotton from Ecoyarns
Hook: 3.5mm (E)

 

Pssst…

I have pinned other great Easter craft ideas on my Easter Fun board.

Pinterest Easter Screen Shot

Don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest while you’re there! Have a good long weekend! 

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Lazy Weekend + Crocheting

Hi everyone! How was your weekend? It was a little cold and overcast around here. But I’m thankful for every drop of sunshine I can get on the weekends. I’m definitely not missing the rain.

Mt Ettalong

We had a quiet one and spent a little bit of time outdoors, just the hubby and I. We went bushwalking and strolled along the beach. The cool weather kept most families away but the die hard swimmers were not put off by the cold water and there were weekend fishermen along the rocks trying their luck. The café near the beach was, however, bustling with families having brunches and boy, the coffee aroma was so terribly tantalising! Although I do miss having a proper cup of coffee every weekend, I was good and stayed away. I already had my daily dose of caffeine that morning. 

Pearl Beach

Anyway, I had grand plans of showing you the Milo vest (pattern in Ravelry) I’ve been knitting on and off. I thought I would have it finished by now but I had a little problem with it and have lost interest in it. You see, I didn’t check my gauge. I intended the vest to be worn from newborn to 3 months but because of my lazines, the vest is too big! The chest size will suit a 6 month old and older. Argh!

Milo WIP

It isn’t the end of the world of course. It just means my baby girl will only get to wear it late Summer or Autumn next year. So as you can imagine, I’ve lost motivation to finish the vest right now. Instead I’ve been pottering around with other things. Pretty sweet things to be exact. 

What do you think? Are you in love with this granny bunting as much as I am? I’ve got a toothache just looking at it! It was so quick to crochet and I added the little flowers to make it even sweeter.

Granny Bunting with flowers

I have it hung over my TV in the living room at the moment. The colours really stand out against the dark blue wall. I think I’ll have to crochet another one to hang over the crib in the nursery. Yes, I think I might have to do just that.

Notice that I’ve got Letters and Numbers on the telly. I love that show! Do you? I am truly amazed by the skills displayed on the show. How do they work out the letters and numbers so fast? I hope watching it will let rub some of that cleverness onto me. 

Bunting banner

Can you work out what I’m trying to say here:

I <3 EcoOrganic Cotton

That’s right! I LOVE EcoOrganic Cotton yarn! 🙂

Crochet patterns used:

Happy crocheting!

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P.S. Ecoyarns have pledged to support Tree Henge with a percentage of its profits. All money raised from Tree Henge is put back to restore life to Australia’s natural environment. Thank you for helping Ecoyarns support this worthy cause!

Happy Hats

I have to be honest. I don’t know much about keeping babies warm in winter. I grew up in Singapore and all we had to deal with are heat and humidity all year around. With my little girl being born in August, I do feel a bit daunted about keeping her comfortable in the cooler months. Even though winter around Sydney is mild relatively to other parts of the world, I personally struggle with it at times. So naturally it does my head in trying to figure out the most suitable knitting and crochet clothes to make for my girl.

I blogged last week about the rather warm jacket I made for my baby girl. I thought it would be suitable to rug her up in it if we go for an evening stroll by the water. Doesn’t the orange and blue colours of the jacket remind you of sunsets over a river? I can just imagine us walking along together and watching the birds head home.

Fisherman's wharf at Woy Woy

So what if the evening was extra brisk and the wind was picking up? I didn’t want my girl to have a cold head! I searched through Ravelry for baby hats and boy, there are a LOT to choose from. I was certainly spoilt for choice. I did pick two hats to knit. They’re different from each other but both knit with EcoOrganic Cotton. I simply cannot ignore how comfortable this cotton is for the mild winter around here and the colours… Oh, let’s not get started on the beauuttiffuuulll colours!

Again I was fortunate enough to have my friend’s baby daughter to model one of the hats for me. She’s such a trooper. Look at her modelling my Aviatrix hat (pattern on Ravelry). Her eyes will melt your heart…

Newborn Aviatrix hat

The camera clicks away and she patiently waits for me to show off the pretty hat. She does not mind one bit that she had the hat on her head. That’s a good sign!

Newborn Aviatrix Hat

But she did finally show signs of boredom. The camera just isn’t fun anymore. Haha…

Newborn Aviatrix hat

The next hat I knit is a bit unconventational for a baby girl because I knitted it in a dark blue colour. But I did make it girly with a crocheted flower embellishment. It’s a Simple Baby Hat (free pattern) and I tweaked it a tiny bit by knitting an i-cord before casting off. I think it looks cute with the little tail on the top. No pretty model to show off this hat for me unfortunately.

Simple baby hat with flower

I think it still works for a girl. I’ve been doing quite a bit of window shopping for baby clothes and I’m often attracted to the clothes that are multi-coloured. The plain pinky ones are nice too but I think mixing that up with lots of colours make the outfit much more fun, don’t you think?

Frothy flower

I love this crocheted flower. There are many crocheted flower patterns around but I think this one was super cute and the size just right to dress up a boring hat. The flower pattern is available for free too! Got to appreciate those generous, creative people out there.

Well I got to run. I’m studying part-time and I have an assignment due in a couple of days. Eeek! Have yourself a fabulous week and catch up with you soon!

P.S. Have you subscribed to our blog? No? Then what are you waiting for. Don’t miss another blog post. Add Ecoyarns blog to your RSS right now

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Friends & Babies

A couple of my friends, who I met through Ravelry (Yay Ravelry!), have had babies just weeks from each other. I had them over the other day for morning tea and it was such an experience to have the babies meet one another for the first time. There was a bit of fussing and unsureness, and at times, their crying would set the other one off! Fascinating to watch. But I think it was just good to enjoy banana bread and tea and catch up again after so long. Everyone’s been a bit busy with being pregnant and having babies. You know what it’s like.

Friends and Bubs

Now what’s that got to do with knitting I hear you ask. Well, for starters, I’m pregnant too! Isn’t it weird how a friend’s or colleague’s pregnancy could increase your own fertiliy? We’re over the moon as it is our first and we just found out yesterday we’re having a girl! 🙂 Yay! So… over the last few weeks I’ve been knitting for my own little budle of joy who is due in August. 

I love the Baby Sophisticate pattern and had it stored away in my Ravelry favourites for awhile now. I didn’t know that it was going to be a girl when I knitted this so I kept it as gender neutral as possible. What do you think of the jacket I made?

Baby Sophisticate Jacket

I love the colours on it. It’s so unlike anything you’ll find at the shops. I used a Moda Vera yarn I bought at a Spotlight sale last year for the main part of the jacket and the lovely bright blue collar and edge trims are none other than EcoOrganic Cotton. The colour is aptly named Peace. I wanted a soft and gentle yarn against my baby’s sensitive neck and you can’t go wrong with EcoOrganic Cotton. For the life of me I cannot remember which Etsy store I bought those cute buttons from but they’re just perfect for the jacket I think.

My friend, Vanessa, was kind enough to loan me her beautiful 8 week old daughter the morning she was here to model my baby jacket just for YOU. Her first modelling job and I think she did a spectacular job!

Baby Sophisticate

Baby Sophisticate

All together now… Awwww…. Isn’t she just precious!

I also made an equally colourful baby hat to match this jacket but you’ll have to wait until next week for that one. 😉  Enjoy the rest of your week!

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Summer Crafting Part 2

Summer is officially gone and autumn has greeted us with devastating floods throughout many parts of New South Wales and Victoria. We are safe here where we are but nonetheless we are touched by what we see on the news everyday. Our thoughts are certainly with those badly affected by nature this last week.

I feel even more blessed to be able to continue my life quite untouched by the heavy rain elsewhere. I am knitting regularly now and I’m in a happier place than I was in the miserable cold summer. Reality and my expectations of what autumn should be is matching up. My brain is at ease with that. 

Woy Woy again

So let’s continue where we left off last week. I showed you the pretty potholders I crocheted while trying to get my crafting mojo back. It still brightens up my day whenever I lay eyes on them. Such simple pleasures when you create something yourself.

I also wanted to make something to show off the softness of the EcoOrganic Cotton. They are just so lovely against the skin. Well, it’s a no brainer really. I made facecloths! I so, so wish you can touch these!

Spa Facecloths
Free pattern (Ravelry)

The facecloths are just pure luxury against the skin, especially when you’re having a spa moment in the bath. Simply light some candles, pour your favourite aromatic oil into the bubbly bath and soak up the warmth. Stay in that moment and enjoy the softness of the washcloth against your skin as you lather your weary body with gentle soap bubbles. Feel your sanity returning to you…

Spa Facecloths

Oh EcoOrganic Cotton, how I love thee! 

My love affair with this yarn continues over the next few weeks. I’ll be using EcoOrganic Cotton in such happy ways that I really, really can’t wait to show them to you. It feels super good to be working through my stash too. It’s ironic how being frugal actually makes me feel proud of myself. *Pats myself on the back* So until we meet again, take care and happy knitting! ^__^

ETA: I almost forgot to tell you that Ecoyarns actually has 10 different types of cotton yarn to pick from. Ten! I have also tried Pakucho organic cotton but not the rest. Interested to see how each one knits up. So many choices, so little time!

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