Sunday, 24 July 2011

The Beret Project: Chapter 1

The big acessory for Winter 2009 in Australia was the beret. They were traditional french felted with the little apple stem on top, made of soft fluffy mohair and delicately beaded, chunky crochet or knit or delicate lace knits. My girls dragged me to look at lots of them in various shops and I looked at the price tags (up to $50AUD) and thought I can do better (and it will be cheaper!). Thus was born the Beret Project.

This awesome example of Beret as accessory is from K is for Kani
(I only discovered Kani's blog when I was looking for photos for this post but I'll be back. I'd love to have her sense of style.I suggest you check it out).

Forever New

Now I'm an old school knitter; I learnt all those technical skills like knitting in the round on a set of 4 double pointed needles (dpn). So I went hunting for a pattern knitted in the round and raided my stash for some wool / yarn. I searched the vintage knitting books I had here and then the internet for free patterns. The delicate lace patterns in 4 and 5 ply appealed to me the most but I thought I try something a little less intricate as a first attempt.

So here's what The girls and I agreed upon for the first berets. 'Reverie' a pattern by Amy M Swenson from the Spring 2009 Issue of Knitty . I'd recommend this as an ideal pattern for those wanting to try knitting a beret in the round for the first time as the pattern is simple and easy to keep track off.

The eldest daughter is a lover of all things gray / grey (pretty much her entire winter wardrobe is gray / smoke / charcoal / gunmetal or black), a great fan of the hat and dresses with that Melbourne edge I admire but never can quite pull off, so she got to be the proud owner of the first beret. I got the beret to stand still for its beauty shot but don't have a photo of her wearing it as it hard to get someone to pose for a photo when they are overseas at the moment! However, it was a great success and it is still one of those skin graft garments two winters later.

The wool is a fine 8 ply machine wash in a very pale grey marle. It was knitted on a set of US #3/3.25mm double-point needles. After knitting, the beret was thoroughly wet and blocked using a dinner plate to get the shape. (You wet the beret, place it over a dinner plate of the right size and run a scrap piece of wool as a gathering thread through the brim stitches and pull it up tight. Then leave the beret till it is completely dry remove the gathering thread and ease it off the plate. If the beret loses it shape after repeated washing and wearing, you can repeat this process again).

The other daughter, Mel, chose a fine 8 ply black mohair from the stash for her beret. It was also knitted on a set of US #3/3.25mm double-point needles.This was much less pleasant to knit (I'm slightly allergic to mohair  and while I can knit with it in small doses, I can't wear it myself).  The beret had to be pulled out and re-knit a few times as it was impossible to pick up dropped stitches as they were extremely difficult to see. I don't recommend trying to knit a lace pattern in black unless you are a patient knitter! However the result was worth it (though the pattern is not as obvious in the fuzzy wool).

So here's the black beret and Mel wearing it.

Berets are addicitive. Part of the attraction is that they are relatively quick to knit. Each of these took about a week to knit. So this was just the beginning....

To be continued....

Friday, 15 July 2011

Harry Potter: In honour of the last ever Harry Potter Movie

In Australia, the last Harry Potter Movie: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 was released this week. In anticipation of seeing it this weekend, the kids had a movie watching afternoon re-watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. Harry Potter came out of storage to snuggle on the couch amongst all the blankets and food to watch his adventures.

Harry Potter.
I made this for my son when the second Harry Potter Movie came out (he was about 8 at the time) and just slightly Harry Potter obsessed. Harry is knitted from 8 ply (Double Knitting) 100% cotton from Bendigo Woolen Mills. His clothes are mainly of my own design and the yarn is a variety of 8ply wools and acrylic sourced from my stash (which fills a whole cupboard!). These are actually the second pair of glasses Harry has had. The first pair were a better fit to the scale of his face (however, small boys are inherently destructive).

The basic doll was made using a pattern from the November / December 1998 edition of The Australian Women's Weekly Handmade magazine. Harry is basically built up from the pattern for Rueben.

Harry and Hedwig

Here are close ups of Harry without his glasses and his clothing.

Harry's Quidditch Robes
Hedwig is a pattern of my own design.


OK, so I have a Blog, now what?

Hi, I'm Jo-ann.

I love reading other people's blogs so I thought it was about time I returned the favor.

Who am I?
I'm a mother (of three almost grown up children - two are technically adults).
I'm a mathematician (I have the degree to prove it). Actually my day job is teaching statistics to often reluctant first year University students. As some light relief I teach scientific writing and communication. So I apologize in advance it I write like I'm writing scientific papers. This is me with my work hat on.

I'm a martial artist. I have an almost black belt in Tae kwon do (the martial art version - not Olympic style or sport Tae kwon do) and I instruct. All my family are ninjas. See my middle daughter's blog here .

But as you can see from the title, this blog is intended to be knitographical (a knit biography). So obviously, I knit. My mother taught me to knit. I knitted my first bad jumper when I was about 12 (luckily there is no photographic evidence of this - it was the early 80's) , my first sock when I was about 15 (note it was only one sock, that's a post for another day) and then I discovered toys. I have knitted hundreds over the years, not to mention articles of clothing. Sometimes, I work from patterns, sometimes I design my own. So hence the blog, a place to post the photos, give links to the patterns where they are still available and to reminisce on my life in random knitted things.

Here is one random toy to whet your appetite. (It was the only photo I had to hand).

Party Penguin
Pattern by Alan Dart 
Pattern originally published in the English Womens Weekly Magazine
Party Penguin lives to randomly gatecrash cool parties, make a fool of himself and then  pass out in strange places

The knitting behind the title on this blog is also my own work. This is a closeup of the back of a knitted cardigan. The pattern was inspired by the work of Kaffe Fasset more specifically his book Glorious Knitting (I'll expand on the inspiration and construction of this cardigan in a future post). The wool is a mix of various 5 and 8 ply pure cotton yarns.