Category Archives: sometimes I knit

Introducing Elfbaby… the hat!

Five years ago I conceived a hat for my beloved Elfbaby. It would – of course – be a pixie-style hat, with a long point. It would have a garter stitch chevron border, to show off handpainted yarn and to allow plenty of stretch for growing heads. I planned to publish a pattern.

Elfbaby the first

Claudia modelling the Pumuckl border, in Cariad Newgale

I failed to do this.

I don’t really remember why. Normally it’s the photos that hold me back (I do have something of a track record with failing to publish patterns) but evidently, we had pics. All I can say is… baby. And business. I wasn’t at my most productive.

Since then, I’ve had another baby, had another go at the pattern (adding two different border options, because pretty!), and churned out a whole stinking heap of these hats – for samples, for gifts, for my kids, who love them but keep on losing them! Sometimes, tragically, before I manage to take a photo. As was the case with Max’s first Elfhat, which – in light denim-coloured Clan – was such a fine hat, a stranger stopped me  in the centre of Zurich to gush that it was a “Kunstwerk”. Oh well. I just made more; it was a great chance to test the different sizes.

Elf the second
Max modelling the Pixi border, in Lang Jawoll Magic

At this point pictures definitely were holding me up. I had a lovely sample of the Pippi border, worked in an intense purple yarn that Claudia loved, but it was impossible to photograph. And finding a chance to get my photographer and child models and myself together and in a suitable mood for a productive shoot was not so easy either. (Given that this whole group could also be described simply as “my family”, you wouldn’t think it would be so hard, but it was.)

Elf the Elder
Claudia modelling the Pippi border, in Claudia Handpainted Fingering

Enter lovely Lorna, a Twitter friend whose photos I’d particularly admired for ages. When she volunteered to test knit the pattern, I begged her to also contribute some pictures, which she generously did.

Elf the newest
Ronan modelling the Pixi border, in Regia My First Regia

Thank goodness for Lorna. With the help of her and her adorable baby – plus a few extra months in which I knit another passel of hats and had to keep giving them away, but finally managed to achieve a photographable Pippi sample – I finally have a pattern. It’s the first I’m offering for sale. It’s only five years late. I hope you like it.

PS. Enter the code ONLY5YEARS at Ravelry checkout to enjoy 50% off the price until the end of August!
ETA: Patricia pointed out in the comments that this code doesn’t work using the “buy now” button above – I’m sorry. However, if you want to buy and don’t have a Ravelry account, please email me; I’ll be happy to refund €2 on any full-price purchases while the promotion lasts.

Creative endeavours

It’s been a big week for me. Two projects have come to fruition… one, a small but I think rather lovely pattern has finally been published. So I finally get to show off the fabulous photos of my fabulous daughter.

IMG_5089 IMG_5039 IMG_5187


No false modesty here. Come on, she’s clearly awesome.

Also awesome: project number 2.

Introducing Maximilian Luc, born late on 11 January in a great rush, and taking it easy ever since.

I’d love to write much, much more, but this project is more of an ongoing thing and (funnily enough) taking up even more of my time since launch, so… later?

Hm… what is a very small messenger?

A pigeon, of course. (You were expecting a joke? Sorry.)

This is my latest self-published design (it’s a very short list!) – a simple mini messenger bag in two sizes, suitable for kids or adults who want to carry just a few things with the minimum of bulk. Linen stitch is pretty stable, so you won’t have to line it – and I’d highly recommend trying this with a variegated yarn, or striping to use up scraps, as this stitch also plays beautifully with colour changes!

Consider this as a quick Christmas gift, or a handy accessory for yourself. It’s free from Ravelry.

Squirrelly goodness (in sock form)

Some time ago I bought two skeins of extremely wonderful handspun yarn from the talented Azzy. The first skein became deliciously cozy handwarmers for myself and Elfling; the second has just now achieved its destiny as finer, but equally cozy, socks for my very dear friend Cara.

The yarn was called Red Squirrel, and you can see why. I knew immediately it would be perfect for Cara. And with her, plus squirrels, in mind, I started thinking about a particular corner of Cape Town… the bit around the university’s arts and drama campus at the top of Government Avenue, nestled among old oak trees and full of character. (And squirrels!) Cara and I spent a lot of time there over the years, even before she herself joined the arts school. I wanted to capture the feel of that place, and futzed around a fair bit with stitch patterns – originally the design involved architectural “pillars” and “twining ivy”! All of which was fun, but the yarn really just wanted to relax a bit in the brick stitch I had in between pillars… so I let it.

Brick stitch, featuring lots of slipped stitches as it does (great for showing off variegated yarns), is very compressed vertically. This allowed me to use eye of partridge for the entire sole, which is perfect because it will be durable as well as warm. In a thicker yarn, that might make for chunky socks, but this is very fine (about a 3ply weight) and should still sit comfortably in shoes.

It’s now available as a free download from my Ravelry store.

Those twisted Germans

Twisted German cast-on. Very twisted. Very stretchy. Did you all know about this? It never ceases to amaze me that you can be constantly finding, or inventing (or unventing) new ways to achieve every possible element of knitting… it’s never entirely under your belt.

As much as we all enjoy mindless knitting from time to time, the projects that are most satisfying are the ones that teach you something. I usually don’t know what that will be until it’s done, though; I tend to discover things along the way. My favourite new trick learned last year is the chain-free foundation in crochet; way more fun, and useful, than making a loooooong (and in my case, inevitably wonky) chain. A double-crochet row made this way is beautiful, elastic and I think an excellent alternative to I-cord. Unless you really love knitting I-cord. Apparently some people do. Freaks.

Ribbit, rippit, RIP

Alas, poor Vivian. I knew her briefly.

So stylish. So shapely. So desirable.

So wrong for me.

she suits me not

The photos (poor as they are, but let’s be frank, I wasn’t out to get the clearest possible representation of how UNflattering this is on me) don’t really capture just how bad it is.

not at all, alas

I really had thought that gorgeous back shaping was going to miraculously counteract the en-chunkening properties of chunky yarn, at least somewhat. And maybe it did. Probably it could have been even worse. But chunky cables are still chunky cables, and chunky cables that huddle up especially close around the bust and shoulder area? Are not a great idea on someone on the top-heavy side.

And then of course there’s the sleeve issue. I actually did take steps to shorten them, since they were clearly ridiculously long as written (and plus I had row gauge issues)… but evidently, not enough.

positively seussian

“It’s like something Dr Seuss might have knitted,” commented my friendly household photographer.

He’s also the one who pointed out that – though lucky camera angles have spared you the sight – it made my head look theeees small and the rest of me THEEES BEEEEG.

So Vivian has gone to a better place. Rest in peace, Vivian. Or, you know, in pieces.