Saturday, 1 March 2014

Helping Hands

A fundraising event is currently taking place over on facebook to help fellow designer Julia Stanfield during a difficult time. For the next two days ALL of my patterns are reduced by 20% and ALL sales will be donated to the Stanfield family fund. This is a great opportunity to get a pattern you've been eyeing off at a discounted rate and to help a fellow knitter during her time of need. Use the coupon code: JustOneHelpingHand at checkout to get your discount. :-)


Oh, and see those rad legwarmers top right? They are coming to Ravelry very very soon!! But if you're super keen, drop me an email. For the next few days they are available for the discounted price of $3AUD.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Pattern Release::Reversus



Late last year Nan Bray of White Gum Wool very generously sent me a skein each of her buttery soft and velvety sustainable and ethical merino wool in the 4ply and 8ply bases. The samples were intended for test dyeing which of course I did, but almost immediately the seed of an idea began to sprout in my mind.
Reversus began as the simplest of sketches, not even a fully fledged idea, just a lace panel flanked in reverse stocking stitch. The original sketch is dated a year ago. At some point while flicking back through my journal the seed germinated and suddenly this little lace panel was destined to become a hat.
The idea of ALL that purling wasn't really appealing to me so I started to toy with the idea of knitting it inside out. I practically knit a whole other hat as my swatch trying to get the lace stitches to sit right. Once that part was sorted I had to think about the crown of the hat. what would happen to the lace as the hat got smaller?
Some hats have you knit to a certain length and then just decrease like crazy over three or four rounds and the hat is done. That's fine and looks great for slouchy hats but I really wanted something a little more polished so I began playing around with the lace and how to decrease while maintaining the pattern as long as possible. I hope you like the finished result. I do.


As this pattern went live today Alicia Plummer also released a new pattern featuring a very similar lace motif. White Leaf is a beautiful cosy cowl knit in Augustbird rich aran. The two patterns compliment each other so nicely and would make a perfect matching set.
Augustbird is also a retailer of the White Gum wool that I used for Reversus and I have recommended her beautiful hand dyed yarns as the perfect partner for my pattern. Rebecca has kindly offered a 10% discount on her DK weight yarns for anyone wanting to knit their own Reversus. How awesome is that! To take advantage of this generous offer just enter the coupon code reversusDK10 at the checkout.
For the next two days my pattern is available for the special price of $3.50 (applied at checkout, no coupon needed) after which it will revert to the full price of $4.50.
You can find the pattern here: Reversus Don't forget to take a look at the finished projects. My testers did a wonderful job!




Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Twenty-thirteen in review...

It seems that this year has flown by in the blink of an eye. I can't believe that Christmas has been and gone and here we are again on the very cusp of a new year. But when I sit and reflect on all that has taken place in the last twelve months I do begin to realise that I have squeezed a fair bit into my days.
2013 was the year for me to take my design ideas and put them to paper. It has been a long, slow and arduous process. I have spent many many late nights up trying to wrap my brain around the math; making silly little mistakes that seem obvious with the benefit of hindsight. I have, at times, seemed to be glued to my laptop as I work my way through sizing, layout, yardage estimates, math! and finally the publishing process. But it has been rewarding with four patterns fully published and available for download via Ravelry.

I knit 6 hats this year! One made its way to London without a proper photo. Two were test knits for other designers and three were my own pattern Rhiannon.

From left: Twisted Hipster, Rhiannon, Rhiannon, Hundreds of Hats
I test knit two patterns for Tikki:
Beear

Tully
I took my three kids and my mum to Victoria to visit my grandparents. What an amazing memory this is to have! Not to mention my first visit to the Bendigo Woollen Mills!!

squeeeeeee!
I released four patterns!!

From left: Big button cowl, Mud Princess (tunic), Ember, Mud Princess (dress), Rhiannon

And despite my lack of blogging/ showing off, I also managed to knit myself two sweaters. Just in time for our hot Aussie summer!

Levenwick

Thyone (heavily modified)
So I don't really have any resolutions for the new year. I'm not really big on the whole resolution thing anyway but I guess I will set some goals; especially regarding getting more new designs out there. (If only resolving to go to work LESS was an option!! hehe)
Do you have any resolutions? Feel free to share below.
For now, I'm off to watch a movie with the kiddies and enjoy a cold glass of vino.
Here's wishing you a happy and safe new year to you and your family.
Nichole  xxx

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Mud Princess :: Pattern Release




Remember in Harry Potter when Hermione gets the time turner so she can be in two places at the same time. Well I really need one of those. Time seems to be slipping faster and faster these days; kinda like when the hourglass is almost empty and suddenly every grain of sand is clamouring to get through the darn hole! Somehow it's already been a week, maybe even two since I released my new pattern Mud Princess



This pattern stayed with me for a long time, evolving and changing over the course of many months until finally being realised into the finished pattern it is now. 


 Mud Princess is seamless and knit in one piece from the top down with a circular yoke featuring garter stitch stripes which perfectly show off a slow colour change or gradient yarn. You have the option of knitting tunic length or dress length and three sleeve styles giving you a total of six different styles!


Pop over to Ravelry to check out my awesome testers' projects. As you can see there are many options to customise this little dress to suit your little princess. 
To celebrate its release I will be offering a discount over on my facebook page so be sure to pop over there also so you don't miss out. You don't need to be a ravelry member to purchase any of my patterns although I highly recommend you join because it's free and it's awesome!! You can also purchase Mud Princess by clicking the link below. 

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Pattern release : : Ember

My new pattern Ember is now live over on Ravelry!
Ember is a sweet and simple little tank top with a corrugated rib yoke for a pop of colour. The contrast colour uses less than 10g of yarn (approx) for all sizes so is a great way to use up small amounts of scrap yarn.
For the next 4 days only I am offering Ember at 20% off for my facebook fans. You can find the coupon code over here. This offer expires at midnight (AWST) October 4th so be quick!

    

Not a member of Ravelry? Dont fret, you can buy the pattern here:

Testing, testing...


Pattern: Tully by Georgie Hallam 
Yarn: WOOLganics organic merino knitters yarn (hand dyed by me)
Size: 21" chest with 2" extra length

I'm sure I've mentioned before how much I love to do test knits. I don't do too many though mainly due to time constraints. But every now and then I find myself without too many commitments and the right design comes along and I think YES!
It's no secret that I love, LOVE tikki's designs and when I choose a test knit for myself I am often looking for something that will teach me a technique I haven't used before or is challenging to me.
This gorgeous cardi features top down, seamless set-in-sleeves. I had never done this before and I really enjoyed learning how to do it. I think I will definitely be looking to use this technique more in the future.
This pattern hasn't been officially released as of writing this but I'm sure it isn't too far away.




Sunday, 11 August 2013

Yarn, glorious yarn!

My first stocking of hand dyed yarns is now up for preview over on my facebook page
The sale will go live next Friday night at 7pm AEST. Go check it out!

Also, I have started up my very own fan club, I mean Ravelry group so I have somewhere to hang and chat with awesome peeps, post info about upcoming patterns and advice for current patterns, issue tester calls and just generally chat about, well, knitting! You know you want to join my club, don't you. It's very exclusive you know ;-)
I'd love to have you, drop on by some time.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Dodgy video and a pattern giveaway

I've been meaning, with the very best of intentions you understand, for some time now to do a little tutorial on how to work the decreasing cables in my Rhiannon Hat pattern without using a cable needle (Handy if you tend to misplace those pesky little things!) It occurred to me after much procrastination (aka life in general) that making a video would probably be easier and quicker.
I don't know about you but for me a YouTube video is worth a gazillion tutorial photo's. I filmed this video about 50 times! Well, ok, that is a little bit of an exaggeration, but I did film it a lot! It's a little darker than I would have liked and my silly phone kept shifting focus but overall you can see what's going on and I managed to keep my hands mostly in frame.

Link to my YouTube video because blogger wont let me upload it here. Grrr

I don't have any fancy video editing software at my disposal these days so it's as basic as can be, please don't laugh at me! ;-)
And because I did promise a while ago, I thought I would give away a copy (or maybe even two) of the aforementioned pattern just so you can have a go at cabling without a cable needle for yourself.
To enter to win a copy of my pattern please leave me a comment below telling me what knitting or crafting 'trick' has been the most invaluable to you. Learning to cable without a cable needle is certainly a time saver for me.
Entries will close at midnight Australian Western Standard time on August 15. That gives you 10 days! Please leave your Ravelry name or your email. I will gift the pattern to you via Ravelry or send via email so please make sure I can contact you!

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Forging the road to design

While I'm not new to the whole designing thing (I spent a couple of years studying fashion design in my whimsical youth) the process of designing knitwear is a new and sometimes daunting prospect. I've been altering patterns and knitting on the fly for a few years now, but I made the decision that 2013 was the year I would put these ideas on paper and unleash them on the unsuspecting public.
That said, I sometimes feel like the process of taking a design idea through the stages to complete garment and then written pattern takes forever! I'm going to admit here that I have serious designer envy! So many designers out there seem to churn out pattern faster than I can even knit a sample. How the heck do they do that? (Clearly they are all stay at home mums with no responsibilities to attend to!* ;-) )
I'm sure that with time and practice the whole process becomes much easier and even faster and the math becomes less daunting. This week I have finished the prototype of a girls dress design that has been bouncing around my head since about January of this year. It has changed a bit from my original sketches and after a few false starts I have a finished garment that turned out exactly as I'd planned. The next step for me is to take this one dress and write up the pattern for a variety of sizes including a few different sleeve options and varying lengths. I want to make this pattern as appealing and as saleable as possible to as many people as possible as I feel like having options makes the finished garment far more versatile and fun to knit.


Knitting the sample really is the easy part. Trusting that the math works and that the graded sizes will also look great and fit well, well that is a giant leap of faith for me! Trusting that I can actually do the math is also a giant leap of faith! (Oh, if Mrs Denham could see me now! haha)
Another hurdle is working out how much yardage each size will take. Knitters need this information before they knit a pattern to know how much yarn to buy (or dig out of deep stash) After driving myself almost crazy on this one, I found this link which outlines a really easy way to calculate the yardage. At first glance, all those number made my eyes glaze over, but once I sat down and worked through it I was astounded at how simple it is. I drew a rough schematic with all the sizes and measurements and was able to apply Kristen's formula and it works! Magic!





It will be interesting to see where this road takes me. I'd like to think that in a couple of years I'll be as awesome as the likes of Georgie Hallam (aka tiKKi). All I know for now is that as long as I'm making things up, I might as well write them down and hope that other people like them too.


* disclaimer: Please don't launch an assault at me! While I am envious that you may get to stay at home, I don't think for a second that you actually get to knit all day. If you do, then I hate you and I may kidnap you and force you to be my knitting slave.

Monday, 10 June 2013

It's been a while...

Hello. My name is Nichole and it has been 2 months since my last confession, I mean blog post ;-)
I actually have had quite a bit going on but you know how it is when life gets in the way.
First up, I had the marvellous pleasure of test knitting Beear for the gorgeous Georgie Hallam, aka tiKKi.
Let me just say that being asked to test for my favourite designer pretty much made my life!

Miss Bella models her Beear

 I had this finished just in time as me the three kidlets packed up and headed over to Victoria to visit my Grandparents for 10 days. It was such an amazing trip and I was so excited to take my own kids to meet two of the most important people in my life. Despite our Red-eye flight we took the very long and scenic route out to Avoca via Bendigo specifically so I could stop here:


AGGGHHHH YARN!



I had to raid my piggy bank before we left because I knew I wouldn't be able to resist the temptation of the infamous "Back Room". ;-)

   

Look at ALL that YARN! 
During a trip to Daylesford I picked up some Noro Silk Garden and knit a Turn a Square beanie for my Pop. It came out a little bigger than it should have, despite my ripping back and changing needles! He decided it should be worn like a Newsboy cap! haha silly old Pop. <3
My Gorgeous, Silly, Amazing Pop <3

So far this past month I've finally made some actual progress on my Levenwick. I am determined to have it finished for this winter! I've had to put it down again to finish a commissioned knit for my sister in law. I'm knitting her Cherie Amour in gorgeous Malabrigo Rios. I'm starting to fret that I'm knitting the wrong size despite the hours I've spent poring over the schematic. I'm hoping that a good hard blocking will work it's magic, otherwise I'm preparing myself to cut the darned thing in half and reknit the lower section again. (Yes, I will actually cut my knitting in half!)
In my spare time (ha!) I'm also participating in this year's Mystery Knit along hosted by Kristen Kapur. I loved last year's shawl so much and this year it's a three colour shawl! Stripes!!
AND. Finally... I am making some progress on my latest design. After knitting the initial sample I spent  some time thinking over the construction. It had to be knit from the bottom up but I found the finishing to be really fiddly and wondered if that would translate well into a written pattern. I've finally come up with a viable solution and after knitting a test swatch I'm ready to knit my second sample. Here's a little sneaky peek for you ;-)

Ohhh ruffles!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Up on top

Just when you thought there could be no more hats...along comes another one!


and another one (well, sortof)


And another one. Technically speaking this is a crown, not a hat. But still. :-P


I'm fairly certain there will be more hats to come. And headbands. And tiara's. And crowns...

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Homemade Coconut Butter

I've always been a big believer in eating food that is healthy for you rather than to lose weight or for convenience. When the whole 'clean eating'  and 'whole foods' notion came about I thought to myself I already eat like that. That's not to say I don't indulge in some junk now and again but I'm working pretty hard at making those occasions fewer and farther between.
I used to believe that eating sugar was ok because you could burn it off and eating fat was bad because it was, well, fat!
How things have changed. And as I'm educating myself on some of the newer theories about healthy eating I am finding a sense of renewed inspiration in the kitchen. My kitchen muse vanished years ago so it is so nice to see her again :-)
I wanted to try making my own coconut butter after reading some amazing food blogs. (Oh my god! The time I could waste reading those!) So I bought a packet of organic dessicated coconut and decided to give it a whirl (boom boom).
I was a little worried that my faithful old food processor might not be up to the challenge seeing as you need to process for at least 10 minutes. I took it easy on her and stopped every 2 minutes or so to let the motor cool a little. The process ended up taking about 20 minutes  with a set-back midway. Once my coconut had turned to a lusciously viscose creamy liquid, I decided to spike it with a tablespoon of rice malt syrup and vanilla bean paste. Errrr wrong! It was like when you add cold liquid to melted chocolate and it seized into a thick hard paste :-( At this point I went to google for suggestions but nothing much came up so on blind faith I tossed in a spoonful of melted coconut oil and continued blending. The good news is that it worked! I ended up with a creamy liquidy paste once again, ready to be dolloped on all manner of yummy treats.
I didn't take step by step pics; there are so many others who have done that which you can search for by typing 'homemade coconut butter' into google. But I will leave you with some pics of my finished butter and my recipe. Nom.


Coconut Butter
1 200g packet of organic, unsweetened, preservative free dessicated coconut. (this is important as any additives can alter the process and ultimately it just wont work)
1 Tbsp melted organic coconut oil (optional)

Dump the whole bag of coconut in your food processor and blend on high speed. This will take at least 10 minutes and the mix will first turn clumpy, then pastey and finally liquidy. Scrape the sides occasionally and keep and eye on your food processors temperature. If it gets too hot, give it a break.
I would suggest that if you want to add other flavourings or sweeteners then maybe try warming them (ie maple syrup) and stirring it in by hand. I haven't tried this however and can't attest to whether it will work or if your mix will seize like mine did.
Apparently it will set at room temperature and keep for many months. Enjoy :-)


Saturday, 9 March 2013

Elizabeth

A cardi fit for a princess
Yep, it's yet another tikki pattern under my belt. I first planned to knit this waaaaaay back in January 2012. I didn't actually cast on until September with the intention of finishing it for Summer. Well, you know how things get around Christmas time. This ended up being stashed away in my basket and neglected until very recently when I found myself obligation free (no tests or commissioned knits in the works). I decided I'd better finish it before my munchkin outgrew it! She will be 4 this year and I only cast on for the 2yo size :-/
Luckily she's a bit of a midget and after coercing her into trying it on several times a day I was confident it would actually fit her just fine. And it does!



I did expect a little growth on blocking since the yarn is a bamboo/ wool blend. Actually it didn't grow as much as I had anticipated based on other ravellers comments. But instead it has turned out perfectly. I am more than a little chuffed at my own awesomeness really ;-)
This will be the perfect autumn cardi, and spring, and summer too. Can't ask for more than that.
You can purchase this pattern here.




Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Twisted Hipster Test

So far 2013 seems to be the year for knitting hats. With 4 already under my belt, another on the needles and two more on the horizon I can assure you I will have a VERY warm head this winter ;-)




This is Twisted Hipster, a pattern by Nicole Montgomery. Let me just say that this hat involves a LOT of purling. But the final result is a gorgeously slouchy hat with a curving trellis of slipped stitches.
The pattern calls for fingering weight yarn (4 ply) held double but I really dislike holding yarn double unless absolutely necessary. I went with a DK weight (8 ply) and achieved gauge pretty closely. I do wish however that I had used a sport weight (5 ply) in the same gauge for a little more drape. My yarn is a little stiff.
The yarn is Yarnundyed Merino which I dyed myself in a variegated purple.
I knit the 20" size (and my head measures 22") and the dimensions came out exact but to me it does seem a little big. On the flip side, it will easily cover my ears on those bitterly cold days that are headed my way.



Sunday, 3 March 2013

Not-really-Rum-Balls...

In the interests of full disclosure I should probably preface by saying that not only do I love to knit, but I also love to cook. For many years I worked professionally as a chef and although it has been some time now since I worked in a commercial kitchen, lately I have rekindled my romance with food.

I think it is really easy for cooking to become a chore, especially when you have a day job, a household to manage and a demanding family; at the end of the day all you really want is to get something that resembles a healthy meal on the table and for everyone to actually eat it.

Without going into too much detail about my diet and my crazy hippy ideas about food, let's just say that my aim of late is to make healthy, nutritious snacks that I can eat instead of the omnipresent processed crap. If my kids will eat it too then I know I'm onto a winner!

One such winner, which also has the husbeasts seal of approval, are these little chocolately nuggets of deliciousness:


Chocolate, coconut and peanut butter balls!

I guess I keep teasing people with awesome photo's of my scrummy food because I get a lot of recipe requests which I always mean to honour and usually fail to do so.
So, in the interest of keeping  you people happy I thought I'd better do the right thing ;-)

Raw cacao, peanut butter and coconut balls
1 cup organic coconut shreds or chunks
1/2 cup organic sugar-free peanut butter
1/4 cup organic rolled oats
1/2 cup cashews or other nuts of choice
2 Tbsp rice bran syrup (you could use maple, honey or agave)
1 Tbsp raw cacao
1 Tbsp coconut oil
5 or 6 fresh dates, chopped
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup desiccated coconut, to roll balls in


Combine the coconut shreds, nuts and oats in a food processor and process to fine crumbs. Add all other ingredients and process until it starts to clump together. 
A tip is to start with less dates and add more if you need them. Maybe even try 4 to start with. I used 5 in this batch.
Roll tablespoonfuls into balls and roll the balls in desiccated coconut. Refrigerate until firm (about 2 hours)
These little gems will last a couple of weeks in the fridge, that is, if you don't demolish them all first ;-)

Can I finish by saying that my super fussy 8yo son will actually eat these and thinks they are just regular old biscuit-and-condensed-milk rumballs. Total win!

Guess what else I made today :-)