Crafting Thursdays: The End to Hats is Nigh (and MKAL progress)

This week I’ve continued with the hats, and have now finished off four adult-sized beanies, all in luxurious Woolganics. They feel super-warm! I repeated the randomly generated stripes in the green-blue-cream hat – it’s really fun seeing what will come next.  I decided I’d have a play with some more simple colourwork designs, but this one didn’t turn out quite as clearly as I hoped. The base number of cast-on stitches for this size (104) is a difficult one to play with – it’s 13 x 8, so to fit the pattern evenly around, repeats either need to be 13 or 8sts wide. This one is an 8st repeat: maybe I should have played with 13sts for my idea. I’ve plenty more yarn for another hat!

Three variously stripy beanies in blue, green, cream, pink, and one blue beanie with simple cream colourwork.
Four more warm beanies

I do plan to keep making more hats – they’re an easy portable project – but I think I'll slow down a little from now on. But I’m thinking of making May a beanie month in future, I might even make plans regarding that at some stage. Lots to think about.


A couple of weeks ago B went to Malaysia for work for a few days: he’s a very good boy and knows that bringing home interesting yarn is a great present! Look what he brought me…

A collection of seven balls of yarn: three green, one blue and one purple all of the same brand, plus a pale blue cotton and a natural brown thin cotton.
My yarn haul from Malaysia

The greens, purple and blue are exceptionally soft – they’re going to make something delicious, I’m just not sure what yet. I’m thinking of perhaps making a big loopy cowl with the green, and maybe using the blue and purple together for gloves/handwarmers. Any suggestions? The cotton will probably become cloths – I think the natural would suit E’s teacher for Christmas this year, so I’ll think about designs soon.


I’m in a Ravelry group (Australian Swappers) who hold 6-weekly parcel swaps. The idea is that there’s a theme and a budget (and a couple of rules), and once people sign up for the swap, they’re allocated a person to create a parcel for. It’s such fun stalking the person you’re given, to work out what you can put together for them – within the budget and rules of course. Currently there’s a series of Rainbow-themed swaps that I’m participating in. We had pink earlier this year and now we’re all receiving our red parcels: mine was (thankfully!) very well received by my swap partner last week, and then on Tuesday mine arrived. I was so spoiled! My partner hand-dyed two hanks of amazingly soft cashmere for me (she did apologise that they came out more orange-y than she intended – I think they’re beautiful!). They look like sunsets to me. Or berries and mangoes. Depends how hungry I’m feeling.


So the rules of these swaps mean you need to include yarn, something hand-made (can be bought from Etsy, etc. if need be), an edible treat, and then making up the rest of the budget with other things your partner would like. So my parcel also included a hand-knitted (lined) pencil case, two reels of red sewing thread and a retractable tape measure.


The edible treat for me was this fascinating bottle of raspberry extract. I’ve never heard of such stuff before, but I assume it’s used just like vanilla essence. I’m thinking I might have to make a batch of raspberry and chocolate brownies, and put this in – what do you think? I suspect the kids won’t complain! Any other ideas for what I can use it in?


And then! As if I hadn’t been thoroughly spoiled enough by this parcel, the lady sent me a pattern through Ravelry for a shawl I’ve been eyeing for a while, that will work perfectly for the yarn she sent. How amazing :)

Left: Two skeins of orange-red hand-dyed cashmere yarn; Centre: A red knitted pencil case, a red retractable tape measure, and two reels of red thread; Right: A bottle of raspberry extract with a pink
Red: L: Hand-dyed cashmere yarn C: Other goodies R: Raspberry Extract

The parcel I sent had three balls of Morris & Sons Estate (a good workhorse yarn that’s a lovely quality – I wanted to give her enough yardage for the sort of project she usually makes), a bag of bullseye boiled lollies from Sassafras, some English Breakfast/Cranberry & Raspberry/Pomegranate teabags, a jar of homemade (and homegrown!) plum jam, a red sparkly pen, and a star-shaped knitted washcloth. This cloth was my prototype for my latest pattern, Stella Cloth – but more on that in a separate post.

A red star-shaped cloth, red pen, plum jam, teabags, boiled lollies and three balls of deep red yarn
My red swap parcel

In another group on Ravelry I’ve been participating in a stash-busting challenge, though it rather seems to have the opposite effect on many of us, and our yarn stashes increase! The last few years my numbers have definitely gone up rather than down. I was doing really well this year and was looking like I might hit positive numbers soon (after the hit from all the yarn I brought back from Dunedin) with all my stashbusting knitting,  but this week’s haul has them going in the other direction again. I’m not at all complaining, though. They’re like soft, well-behaved pets – I can get them out and pat them, and then put them back in their bags and they’re perfectly happy.


Now, if you’re participating in the Kitman Figueroa MKAL (Mystery Knit A-Long) and you don’t want to see how my progress is going: stop reading here. I haven’t actually got very far, so you’re probably ahead of me anyway! I finally got around to winding my yarn and casting on on Wednesday, five days after the first clue was released. There’s no way I’m going to be caught up by Friday when the next one comes out, but that’s OK, I’ll plod along at my own speed.


The yarn is such a lovely colour and it’s of such a nice quality that it’s a real joy to work with. Though fighting my swift yet again was another story entirely. I’d been umming and ahhing about the swift (did I REALLY need a new one?), and this made my mind up: YES! It’s ordered and paid for, and will hopefully arrive sometime in the next week or two. I ordered a niddy noddy at the same time, so I’ll be able to create skeins of set length with it, as the design of these swifts is not a great one for making skeins.

A cake of greeny-bluey yarn, with a few bags of blue-silver beads
The yarn and beads

I’m really happy with how the beads look with the yarn – the beads might look distinctly blue in the bags, but once they’re in the knitting, they look like a silvery sparkle – they really coordinate well. So this is how far along I am:

Six rows of knitted lace with beads.
The very start of the MKAL shawl

This shawl starts from the bottom up, so you start by casting on a very large number of stitches and then gradually decreasing as you progress through the shawl. I cast on and cast on until I’m bored, and then keep casting on some more. And would you believe, I’d cast on exactly the 397 I needed, when I counted - that feels pretty good to have nailed the number! When I’m counting, I use clip-on markers to count lots of fifty (which I double-check) – if I get interrupted while counting, I’m OK with starting from scratch in a lot of 50, but not so much with the full 397sts. I also use a knitted cast-on: the only time I use this cast on. It’s loose, so will stretch with the blocking process, and I don’t have to guess how long a tail I’m going to need, unlike with longtail. It’s quite easy to get into a rhythm with it too, but it’s not a good solid edge for everyday use.


So, it’s been a busy week. Please give me suggestions of what I could bake with the raspberry extract and if the yarns call project ideas out to you – I’m all ears.

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