Knitting with Cleckheaton’s Australian Superfine Merino

Australian Superfine Merino by Cleckheaton

Last month, the fine folks at Cleckheaton sent over one of their beanie kits for review. After reading their story, I was pretty curious just how soft the yarn would be. It comes from specially selected sheep and is milled right there in Victoria. Australia’s finest is right here in south Texas! I wondered if THIS would finally be the wool my kids would not complain about.

Cleckheaton Superfine Merino Beanie Kit

This photo is straight from my Instagram. I got so excited after it came that I took the photo and cast on immediately, without taking out my camera for a proper photo. The kit has two balls of Australian Superfine Merino and a two-colour beanie pattern, which you can find for free here, along with a good assortment of other patterns. Those baby sweaters are making me swoon! My cousins and sisters are refusing to procreate for me! I just want a baby to knit for, take photos of, cuddle, and send back. Is that too much to ask?*

Anyway…the colors are gorgeous! This gray is called “iceberg” and it is the perfect name. Icy cold with subtle hints of blue when you look at it a certain way. The orange is simply called “burnt orange” and it the warmest compliment to the gray. It’s a deep, rich pumpkin color and makes me miss fall.

Australian Superfine Merino by Cleckheaton pompom!

Australian Superfine Merino by Cleckheaton stst

Australian Superfine Merino by Cleckheaton rib

Two-colour beanie

So, what was the verdict? VERRRRY SOFT! We like. I don’t think he even knows it’s wool. I generally shove beanies on my kids’ heads and if they complain, I tell them to just deal with it until we get inside or get to the car. My youngest is the loudest complainer, but this guy tends to be more prone to allergy-like reactions. He’s mildly allergic to cats (proven with an allergy test), so most animal fibers are just meh to him. He doesn’t break out or have trouble breathing, thank God, but wool sweaters and hats aren’t his favorites. He liked this one, though! It’s got a good slouch and the pom pom is awesome.

The yarn definitely feels more silky smooth than other wools. It hasn’t shed or pilled at all in the past week or so that we’ve had it in rotation. The pattern was great, though I adjusted it to work in the round. I could not see myself working that much stockinette stitch flat! Luckily, it was easy to adapt the crown decreases and whatnot. I had a good time mindless knitting that stockinette in the round. The kit comes in an itty bitty project bag that was great to tote the beanie-in-progress around. I knit in a taqueria!

I can really see myself using this yarn for other projects. There are so many colors to choose from! I want to get my hands on some of that mustard ASAP. Yellow is the color of my Spring and my heart is begging for a yellow lacey cardigan.

Two-colour beanie

Nathan: two colour beanie edition

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*My oldest turns TEN (10!) in exactly 3 months. I think he looks so grown up in that last photo! This has turned on something in my brain that makes me absolutely gooey over babies. Yes, I have the fever. The baby fever! If you have a baby and you see me, just let me carry them, ok? I’ll smooch their wittle face and hand them right back. Or I’ll put them in my knitting bag and take them home. I’m not 100% certain which flavor of baby-crazy I am, this week.

Click here if you want to try one of their Knit-it-Yourself beanie kits!

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Crochet: Christening blanket

Crochet: Christening blanket

I get extremely flattered when someone asks me to make them something specific. My mom’s friend recently commissioned a Christening blanket for her new granddaughter. It’s such an important piece of a family’s history! I felt a little intimidated by the significance this might have, but she calmed me down and set me down a simple path: white and square-ish. That’s IT.

Naturally, I scoured the web for Christening blanket patterns and inspiration, but I ended up just using my favorite stitch pattern. The offset shell stitch has been made into many blankets for babies in my family (check out those posts here), so it felt like a good choice.

Crochet: Christening blanket offset shell

I used Bernat’s Softee Baby and a 5mm (US 8/H) hook. My beginning chain was 148 and I worked until it was just about a square. I’m not sure how many rows exactly. I made a single crochet border around the whole thing, then searched for a lacy border to add. I found about a bajillion charts of lace edges on Pinterest and ended up here where I found the lovely border I ended up choosing.

Christening blanket lace corner

After figuring out the number of stitches in the pattern, I made another round of single crochet to adjust my stitch count. Luckily I wasn’t off by too much!

Crochet: Christening blanket

I think it came out lovely. It’s big and squishy and machine washable. It should last a really long time. Who knows, maybe this grandbaby will still have the blanket when she has grandbabies of her own.

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Knitting for my love with Wool and the Gang

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Happy Saturday, folks! For the first time in several weeks–probably since before Christmas–I have NO commitments, today. It’s so exciting to be doing nothing, so I’m here blogging. I really wanted to tell you guys about this sweet sweet kit Wool and the Gang sent me to review.

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They contacted me to knit something for my Valentine. I checked out their selection of Men’s Accessories and chose the Mr. Tosh beanie and the “Shacklewell Grey” colorway. I knew the gray would be what my husband preferred. Tip: know your love’s accessory preference!

The kit came with all the amazing things you see above: yarn, pattern booklet (it contains tips for things like casting on and seaming!), knitting AND finishing needles, and a nice #shareyourknits sticker.

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The Sheepaca yarn is 50% alpaca and 50% merino wool, so it is crazy soft! I kind of wished I were knitting a cowl, but my husband doesn’t wear cowls. I’ll probably offer to cuddle carry his hat when we go out. You can snag some Sheepaca alone, too. Check out the colors available here.

The pattern calls for straight knitting. I was a little hesitant to cast on the straight needles, but I really wanted to try out the rosewood needles. I am SO glad I did! These are so unlike the aluminum or bamboo needles I learned to knit on (and had such a hard time with!). They’re hefty, but not too heavy. The wood is smooth and my stitches glided effortlessly. It was a treat to knit with them. I didn’t once wish I had cast on a circular needle. Seaming at the end wasn’t bad, either! It’s always nice to freshen up a skill you hardly use and I was actually quite proud of my seam (see below)!

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The pattern itself was very easy to follow. The booklet was helpful and I think new knitters would really like it. There are instructions for casting on (they suggest longtail, my favorite!), beginning, the stitch pattern, finishing, seaming, etc. It’s detailed, but not overwhelming.

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My seam is directly to the right of the heart in the last photo. You can hardly see it! I was so proud. Tip: try out your old skills on something new, every once in a while!

The hat fit great. It matches my husband’s black jacket well and he got to wear it when the temps dropped (again), last week. Yes, I gave it to him early for the sake of the blog. Plus, he’s leaving to Vegas on the 15th, so I wanted to SEE him wear it a bit.

I’m pretty much in love with Wool and the Gang, now. The sweaters, the cowl, the purses…ah! Why don’t you knit something for your sweetie, this Valentine’s Day?

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Disclaimer: Wool and the Gang sent me the knitting kit to review. No other compensation was provided. All opinions are my own.

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Knitting: Downtown Cowl with A Good Yarn Sarasota

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A Good Yarn is a sweet fiber arts store in Sarasota, Florida. Last year, they launched an easy-to-use online shop, where you can browse all of their products, from yarns to notions, kits, and my favorite…exclusive colorways!

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When I was contacted to review one of the exclusive colorways, I was pretty thrilled. I chose the “Butterfly” colorway, which is one from their Purl Diver Collection. It is inspired by a beautiful photo of a Pyramid Butterfly Fish that was taken in the Soloman Islands. The gold, grays, and black were striking and caught my eye immediately.

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The base yarn is Lorna’s Laces Sportmate. A very squishy sport-weight yarn made of 70% merino and 30% viscose.

Unfortunately, I received this right before that extremely busy time of year that holds holidays, sickness, and more holidays, so it stayed untouched for a while. After most of that excitement of November and December died down, I wound the skein into a ball and went on a Ravelry hunt for the perfect pattern.

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I wanted a pattern that would showcase color above all else. I loved the way all the colors looked together! I found the Downtown Cowl and cast on December 30. [US 6 29″ circular needle]

I needed a project for to knit while I sat in a waiting room at the hospital. December 31, my mom had to have a stent placed in her carotid artery, so I anxiously knit the time away. I needed something to keep my mind off what was going on behind closed doors; something to control when I felt so out of control. This was perfect.

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Obviously, it knit up beautifully! The colors all mixed into each other in the best possible ways. The length is perfect for wrapping twice around my neck, or three times if it’s a particularly chilly day. The yarn was dyed spectacularly, too. There was hardly any runoff when I rinsed it before blocking. By the way, how in the world do YOU block circle scarves? This one was hard! Thank goodness lace is so forgiving.

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The color perfectly coordinates with my gray coat. The golds and white really pop against the black/gray. Check out A Good Yarn and give these beautiful colorways a try!

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Crochet: Las Olas Wave Border

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I mentioned on Instagram, a few weeks ago, that my uncle passed away. I made this blanket for my aunt. My uncle’s sister, who made the long road trip in from Mexico, started the border for me when I told her I didn’t know what to do. The blanket is a 40-round granny square, so I made a simple single crochet border that she worked over. Essentially, she crocheted into my last granny square round.

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What resulted were these beautiful olas, or waves. I loved it and my aunt thought it was pretty, so when we ran out of yarn, I promised to finish it. I thought I would share the instructions, since I had never seen a border like this. It resembles a scallop, but they lean to the side, so it’s more wavy.

I made a video, which I’ve embedded below, but I want to put out the written instructions first.
US terminology is used throughout.
You should know: chain (CH), single crochet (SC), and treble/triple crochet (TR). This is the pattern for working around a granny square. You should have an uneven number of rounds, so there is an even number of chain spaces (ch-sp) between the corner spaces.

Attach your yarn in a corner and chain 1.
[SC in same space, Ch 2, 5 TR in same space. *Skip next cluster of stitches and space, SC in center of next cluster, SC in next stitch, SC in next space, 5 TR in same space; Repeat from * to last ch-space of this side of the square, skip last cluster of stitches and SC in corner space, Ch 2] Repeat between [ ] for 4 sides, slst into first SC. Fasten off and weave in ends.

To work this as an edge for other blanket patterns, start with a round of single crochet. There should be a multiple of 8 plus 3 between each corner space (I suggest working a [sc, ch 2, sc] into each corner).

Attach the yarn in the corner space (the chain 2), then work the first wave: ch 1, SC in same space, Ch 2, 5 TR in same space. [Skip 5 stitches, SC in each of next two stitches, work a wave in the next stitch: SC, Ch 2, 5 TR in same space.] Repeat between [ ] to the corner. Skip last 3 stitches and SC into corner, ch 3, SC in same space. Work the next edge the same way. Start with a wave in the corner, then skip 5 stitches, work 2 SC, and a wave…continue until you have worked all the way around the blanket. Slip stitch into the first SC.

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Affiliate links help keep my blog running. If you are interested in any of the supplies used in this video, follow the links below:

Lion Brand Heartland yarn in “Glacier Blue”- http://amzn.to/1EpcgQc (You would need 6 skeins for a 40 round blanket and border)
Lion Brand Heartland yarn in “Redwood”- http://amzn.to/18r3iF2
Knitter’s Pride crochet hooks- http://amzn.to/1yLQi6I

There ya go. What do you think of videos? I get requests for videos, especially for the Mary Jane slipper tutorial, but they are tough to make! At least for me. I suppose it’s a learning curve and if I made more, things would feel more natural. I’m also getting over a cold, so I feel like I sound…weird. Anyway. Do they help? How’s the quality?

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