Thursday, September 25, 2008

More soup!

I nestled myself on the sofa with a nice cup of green tea and the most decadent and buttery yarn I've ever felt last weekend to cast on for another Duck Soup, this one in the largest size for my {not so little anymore} Jubilee Bubilee.

The yarn is Frog Tree 100% merino wool and even though it is technically worsted weight, I got the required gauge of 4 sts per inch with it on US 9s. It's nice and drapey, but not holey. This stuff is surely the closest thing to butta I've ever knit with and I can't tell you how many times I had to put down the knitting to check the label because I was in total disbelief that 100% wool could feel this soft and cooshy. And it has great yardage too boot - I used just over 6 balls to knit the 4/5 year size (that's how much Classic Elite Countess I used for Lolo's 18 month size)!

I really like the sagey gray-green too, but couldn't think of any colours that would work well for the frog closures. I didn't want it to be too babyish but didn't want it to be too grown up or serious either. It suddenly came to me just as I was finishing the sleeves: Behr's Color Smart tool!  

It's this really nifty tool that generates colour ideas. I started by searching for a colour that most closely matched the yarn ('celery ice') and then asked the tool to find coordinating colours and it generated 8 different palettes. I ended up going for the 'cool details 1' combo (the last one in the screen shot above) because it happened to be most compatible with my stash and ended up with this...

Not bad, eh? I think I'm going to use that tool a lot more from now on. It completely took the guesswork out of the equation and gave me ideas I wouldn't have even thought of on my own. This one's definitely going into my knitting bookmark folder ;0) 

I ended up knitting the frog closures from stash worsted weight yarns and it worked out really well though I did have to knit the i-cords for the buttons a little longer to be able to knot and fold them with the thicker yarn and still end up with a 2-inch button frog. I ended up knitting 4 inch i-cords for the loops and 7.5 inch i-cord for the buttons.  

I'm thrilled with how it turned out in the end and would love to wrap myself up in it myself. Julian wouldn't have a problem with that, because even though he looks perfectly happy with it on in the photos (he was bribed with a chocolate race car ;0), he decided he can't wear it because it's "not his favourite colour"! Well thats a new one. Hopefully he'll change his mind again soon and make green his favourite colour just in time for cooler weather.  

Fingers crossed...

ps - I ended up making a few edits to the pattern after knitting this one to give the sleeves a bit more ease in the larger sizes (the baby sizes are not affected). I issued revised pattern to all buyers on September 22nd (it says 'v.3' on the cover). If you didn't get it or if you suspect it might have been deleted by your spam filter, send me a note at annypurls{at}hotmail{dot}com and I'll send it along.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Eighteen months...

...of Lolo cuddles and giggles,  warm milky cheeks and smelly feets.  That's a year and a half of being an excellent young apprentice for our resident big brother.  Five hundred and forty seven mornings of pure sunshine and as many evenings of loving bliss.   It was 18 months ago that our Lolobean graced us with his enchanting cuteness for the very first time on that peaceful spring morn.

So naturally, because we love ourselves a little party, we celebrated the occasion! Julian and dada baked our traditional half birthday half birthday cake, this time we tried the most simple and delicious Boston Cream Pie recipe ever - you can get it from Kraft Canada's website here. And we had ourselves a lovely lunch with grandma and grandpa and autie Libby and uncle Gary and even cousin Neil who was visiting all the way from Vancouver.  It was great ;0)

I also wanted to mark the occasion with a little bit of knitterly goodness but since it took me so long to pick just the right project and to find just the right yarn from the stash, I didn't get started on the actual knitting until the night before.  

I tried really hard to pull it off though, knitting into the wee hours of the morning but despite my best efforts to keep my eyes open, I fell asleep on the couch and didn't get it done to gift to him on his actual half birthday.  So he had to wait a few more days for his present, but he didn't seem to mind at all.  He's great that way! 

The pattern is Mochi Mochi's Sleepy Snake and Mischevious Mouse and I knit it using a full ball each of green and blue Karabella Aurora 8 (oh, how I heart that yarn) and less than a third of grey for the mouse.  

I added a squeaker in the mouse and a jingle bell in the snake's tail to up the play value.  Turns out a big empty tube for chubby little hands to stuff with cheerios, hotwheels and magnetic alphabet letters is all the entertainment this little guy needs though!

Happy half birthday lolobear, we love you ;0)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Cooler weather and six balls of Katia Venus

The temperatures are beginning to drop around these parts and I am giddy with all of the woolen possibilities that fall is sure to bring along: apple-picking with the boys, hats and scarves and mittens {oh how I do love them mittens}, comfy cozy little sweaters, and lots of cuddling with my family.  You know, for warmth!  

So I was thrilled to see the mailman walk up the driveway with 6 balls of Katia Venus in a red and orange colourway and 3 balls of Elann Sierra Aran in a dark brown last week and cast on immediately for this slithering snake scarf for my Jujube (get Sarah Bradberry's free pattern here).

I only ended up using 2 and a half balls of the Venus and just over 1 ball of Sierra Aran to make it so I put all the leftovers to good use by rounding out the set with a matching hat.  Of course ;0)

I used this free pattern  from yarnsticks' blog, working the brim and earflaps in the Sierra Aran held double to get gauge and then alternating with the Katia Venus also held double for 2 row stripes all the way to the top where I finished it off with a little I-cord loop. 

And then, since there was still leftover yarn, I knit some target wave mittens from Norah Gaughan's Knitting Nature.  I knit the smallest size which is slightly big for my Julian, but he doesn't seem to mind at all.  Turns out he looooves the woolens!  

He's been wearing them lots and lots around the house with his big chunky firey orange winter boots that the mailman also happened to bring us this week.  Never mind fall, this kid just can't wait for snow!

And then it was Lolo's turn!  Would you believe that after all that, there was still enough leftover Venus to make Yarn Harlot's unoriginal hat for Lolo!  It was meant to be a hat for me, but it was not so flattering (it's not the's me!) so I tried it on Lolo just for kicks and it was the cutest thing ever!!!  

I made a few mods to toddlerify the pattern.  I unravelled the top down to the 2nd row 16, knit 2 together all the way around and then pulled the yarn through all the stitches to finish the top.  I then picked up stitches around the bottom edge and worked a garter stitch brim and earflaps just like Julian's hat making the earflaps slightly smaller by working them over 12 stitches instead of 14.  And to top it all off, I taught Julian how to make a pom pom to adorn the top.  He did the winding and I did the tying. 

When I finally ran out of the Venus, I pulled out the leftover Filatura Di Crosa Andina I had languishing in the stash and knit a simple garter scarf to match Lolo's new hat.  I held two strands of the Andina together to get a gauge of 3 sts per inch, cast on 125 stitchs, worked in garter stitch for 4 inches and cast off.  Voila, a sideways garter scarf sized just right for a baby or toddler ;0)

And then when it was all done and I was finally done with the photos, we took off our woolens and set up our picnic under the biggest tree we could find because it turns out there is still a little bit of summer left ;0)

Happy fall-is-coming to everyone!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A little postscript...

How lucky am I?  No really?  Many people pour their heart and soul into their passion and have no one to share it with, no one to shower them with ooh's and ahh's, and no one to do a happy dance with when it's all done.  

And here I am with a great supportive and helpful husband who doesn't mind that I spend his hard-earned money on yarn, who doesn't mind helping me solve tech issues when he comes home after a long day at the office, who can always be counted on to help me figure out knitting math, and who will stay up until 3 in the morning with me many nights in a row because it's the only time the house is still enough to get our website organised for the launch of a new pattern.

And then, as if that weren't enough love and support and kindness, when it's all done, when all the photos have been taken, when the pattern has been written and proofed a million times (or so it seems), when the website is done and the e-mail updates have been sent out, when it's all done, done...I have you ;0)

I really am one truly lucky knitter!  Thank you all for your kind words, your encouragement and your support.  You are making a dream come true for this knitter and for the two sweet-as-pie little guys who's education funds grow with every pattern sold {because that's where all the money goes...the best way I could think of to contribute to the family while I'm at home with the boys}.

I was relly sad to hear that the yarn I used for my Duck Soup was discontinued and have spent a lot of time this week trying to find a good sub and haven't found anything just so.  But here are some suggestions for you anyway.  If anyone has any other suggestions, please do share in the comments ;0)  
  • Valley Yarns Berkshire (cooshy and lofty wool/alpaca blend, inexpensive and lots of colours including great baby pastels...I've actually used this one for this pattern and like it a lot but it does pill so you'll need to 'comb' your sweater every once in a while to keep it looking like new)
  • The new Swish Bulky from KnitPicks (it is washable and comes in lots of colours)
  • Cascade Greenland (machine wash and dry, soft merino, great cheery shades for babies and tots)
  • Cascade Bollicine Baby Night (shrink resistant merino, classic baby pastels)
  • Karabella Merino Superwash (super soft and washable and lots of great gender-neutral shades)
  • Berrocco Peruvia (great heathered shades to mimic the look of the Countess but not many 'baby' colours)
  • Karabella Aurora Bulky Melange (has the same multi construction as the Countess but the colour range is very limited)
Note that I haven't tried most of these and suggest them simply because they should give you the correct gauge of 16 sts to 4 inches, are suitable for a baby or child (not too scratchy), and come in colours I might use for a baby or tot myself.  All have also received at least 4 out of 5 stars from Ravelers.  A note on yardage, the Countess offered 100 yards per 50g and was used to determine the estimates for yarn requirements so keep this in mind when shopping for a substitute yarn.

Before I go, I should mention that I updated the Duck Soup pattern on September 8th and sent this revision to all those who had already purchased the pattern, either from my site or from Ravelry.  If you didn't get it or if it was caught by your spam filter, just send me an email at anny{at}jujubeandlolo{dot}com and I'll set you up.

Happy knitting!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Duck Soup!

There's a new pattern for wee ones hanging around my shop today, meet Duck Soup!

He came about one winter night as I tried to imagine the simplest, sweetest, freshest, and most practical baby garment ever. It would have to be really simple. That means no fancy stitches (just stockinette and garter), not too much shaping, as little counting as possible (aka, can be worked without looking at the pattern too too much), no buttonholes, no frilly bits, minimal seaming, supercute, current, warm, sized to grow with those kidlets who never seem to pause for the knitting, and fun to make. It took about 8 or 9 months of tinkering and tweaking until it was just right, but it's finally here!

It's is a fun to knit and wear (nearly) seamless jacket featuring a knotted hood (too cute), knotted i-cord buttons and loops (fancy lookin' but easy peasy, you'll see) and grow-with-me sensibilities.

Frustrated with sweaters that seem to only fit my tots for a few weeks, I designed this one with multi-season wear in mind.

This jacket will fit as a roomy overcoat with a folded brim and cuffed sleeves this fall and as a more tailored-fitting sweater perfect over a light layer come spring. I've also worked out sizing to fit wee ones from 3 months to 5 years so there really is something for everyone ;0)

The frog closures are such a fun (and deceptively simple) detail and I've included a thorough photo tutorial for making them in the pattern. Mine were knit from Knit Picks Palette (fingering weight) yarn I had lying around in the stash, but they would make perfect use of sock yarn oddments you might have lying around. You can make coordinating multi-coloured ones using the different colours in self-striping sock yarn since each only uses but a few yards of yarn.

As for the main yarn, I used Classic Elite Countess which I purchased from Webs during boxing week last year (told you I've been thinking about this one for a while!) The yarn is a beautiful multi and is made up of lots of strands of different coloured yarns which I picked up on when choosing colours for the closures. It is also so soft and cooshy and a pure pleasure to knit with it.

This is my favourite pattern so far and I hope you'll enjoy it too. You can it here or as a Ravelry download for $6.50.

Happy knitting!