21 April 2009

Knitalong and woollen mittens

Despite my gentle reminder about slowing down, I've been very busy of late and today will be no exception. I have a few other things I should be doing, but I have made a commitment to you and to this blog, and it's incredibly enriching for me to write for you, so here I am again, albeit with a shorter post.

There are two plants here. The climber is a Richmond green cucumber, which is an old Australian variety that I grew up with; the larger leaves in the foreground belong to an unidentified squash.

I have some good news about our lovely chooks. Lulubelle, who is the barred Plymouth Rock chook on the sidebar has recovered and Margaret Olley, our buff Sussex, is not yet better, but is on the road back to good health. Hanno is doing a really good job looking after them. He lifts Margaret onto the nest to sleep instead of having her on the roost with the others. Margaret has an ear infection which is slowly getting better. BTW, in chook talk, barred is a colour - it's a black and white stripe, and buff is a dark blonde colour.

I have been meaning to write more about knitting and when someone asked about the knitalong rug, I knew I had to make a knitting post. The rug is still going well, in fact, it's a good project to do because the knitting can be done at any time. I'm just doing plain knit now so I can be knitting while I talk to people as I don't have to look at what I'm doing. For those of you who missed the original posts about the knitalong, you can find a link to them in the right sidebar. It's a knitted blanket - Shaker style. The blanket is made up of knitted squares so it's perfect for a beginning knitter and even though the knitalong has been going a few weeks now, I've still only done a small number of squares, so joining in at this point is no problem. I have made a Flickr page for the knitalong photos if you'd like to show what you're doing, you can load some of your own photos. That's also in the right side bar. I have done three more squares since I last posted about my rug and I'll update my photos next week after I do a few more squares.

I haven't put a lot of time into my squares lately because I've been working on a sewing project and then started this pair of mittens for one of my sons. There is something about the coming of the cooler weather that draws me back to winter knitting. It must be something to do with either the mothering instinct or the nesting instinct, both very strong impulses that reside deep within me.

This pattern for fingerless mittens is so easy, even I can do it. I am not a great knitter. I hope to be one day and that is why I keep going with my knitting. All these little projects help build my skills while I become more proficient with the needles.

I have used UK size 8 metal needles - a vintage pair an older lady gave me that I find are really easy to knit with.
3 balls of the yarn pictured above - Panda machine washable 8 ply crepe. Probably about 2½ balls. It's pure Australian wool. I bought this at Spotlight for around $3.50 a ball. Any worsted weight yarn would do but try to use pure wool, or another natural fibre like alpaca or cashmere. Natural fibres are much better at keeping the warmth in than acrylic yarn.

Cast on 52 stitches, leave a tail of yarn a few inches long for sewing up later. This is for a man's hand, you would do 40 or 44 for a woman's.
Make the wrist band by knitting a rib - two plain and two purl for the entire row and continue that until you have the length of wrist band you like. Try to find a spare hand to measure on as you're knitting.
Then knit plain for most of the mitten. Keep building it up until you come to half way between the base of the index finger and the first joint.
Go back to the rib knit to finish off - two plain, two purl, until you knit up to the first joint on the middle finger, then cast off.

Sew the mitten along the side seam with the strands of yarn at both ends of your mitten, leaving a hole for the thumb to poke through.

Depending on how much time you have it will only take a day or two to complete. If you're knitting for a woman, you might like to add some buttons or wool embroidery to the finished mittens.

Are there any men who are knitting at the moment? The last time I wrote about men knitters, two men emailed saying they were keen knitters. I wonder if they're still reading.

So, how are you going with your knitting? Please let me know what you're up to, it inspires me to keep going. Also, if you'd like to join in on the knitalong, do so. The instructions are in the knitting link in the right sidebar. Add your name to the comments so I know who is in the knitalong, I'll make a list of the knitters' names and add it to the sidebar. I'd also love to know if you're knitting other projects. If you have your current project pictured on your blog, please give me the link so we can all have a look.

HA! So much for a shorter post. Happy knitting everyone!


  1. Thanks for this Rhonda! Glad your chickens are feeling better, that must have been rather worrying for you.

    Those mittens look great, and so easy to knit! I was going to say that we're just going into the warmer weather here in the UK, so I don't much feel like knitting or mittens! But then I thought of how long projects often take, and maybe now is about the right time to start for Christmas, lol!

    So no knitting here, but planing, growing, cooking, soap making, and sewing. I look forward to your posts as ever, it's always a pleasure to read what you're up to. Hope all your projects (including your 'secret' one) are coming along nicely.

    Best wishes,


  2. Good morning Rhonda,

    I have been a bit slow with my knitting lately. Quite a bit to do and a lot on my plate as I get our apartment ready for sale. I will post my swap parcel over to America today, but will take a couple of pictures and later in the week hope to find out how to get them onto my blog. I think that my busy times help me to really appreciate the quieter moments in my life. I cannot remember a time when I could truely say that I was bored. So many wonderful things to learn in this way of life. No wonder they call it the good life. Hope your day goes well.

    Blessings Gail.

  3. Rhonda,
    I have been reading your blog for about six months now, and I think it is time to tell you the changes I have made in that time as they have been inspired by you! I have dabbled in simplifying things around here for awhile now, but trying to live more simply seemed pretty complicated! When I started reading your words I thought "Oh well, just jump in and do what you can- Rhonda says its OK".

    I have learned to knit. I've made several dishcloths (the first one looked dreadful, but I've gotten better!), A prayer shawl for myself that is almost done, and an adorable scarf for my 3 year old granddaughter.
    I'm cleaning the house with vinegar, baking soda, tea tree oil, etc.
    I've made my own laundry detergent.
    I'm cooking more often.(I hate cooking unless I have time to really think about it)
    I'm trying to talk DH into planting a garden this summer.

    DH and I both work full time and our 15 year old DS is involved in lots of sports. Going to his games is a priority for us, so time is limited. I really thought I'd have to wait until I retired to have a "simple life", but thanks to you it is starting to happen now. You have my thanks.

    Hugs and blessings,
    Lisa Mia

  4. I am pleased to hear that your chickens are getting better.

    Please can you add my name to the knit-along, I have posted on the knit-along thread as well.

    This last week or so, I have been busy knitting, either squares for a winter blanket or a cardigan that is in stocking stitch with a simple pattern just above the ribbing. The last item I knitted was back in 1988 so I am a bit rusty.

    In the photos of your vegetables what are the bright flowers nearby, are they nasturtiums? I am wondering if it's for companion planting?

    It's been lovely warm weather in England the last couple of days so it's been nice to work out in the garden. Today I planted some of my vegetables!

    Kind regards

  5. Good morning Rhonda, glad to hear the chooks are getting better.

    I was progressing steadily on my rug until I got sick last week & had no energy for knitting. I think I have about 40 squares now, still a long way to go.

    I will try to update my blog later & add in the patterns I've been using.


  6. Hi Rhonda,
    I gathered up my knitted squares yesterday and was surprised to find I had completed 18 already. I know it doesn't sound like much but it is for me. I'm a beginner knitter and this is by far the largest project I've knitted. Thanks for the inspiration. I'm looking forward to the excitement of seeing my rug finished.


  7. Hello from Dallas, Texas! I found your blog on a friend's blog and you are a great source of inspiration! What a wonderful site! I love, love, love your archives. I have already learned so much!

  8. I just found your blog yesterday and I'm very excited! My husband and I would like to live more "simplier" and this blog sure is going to help us!
    Happy Knitting!

  9. 'morning Rhonda....love that big box you keep your wool in :)

    A little knitting here, although only one sqaure done, you might remember I mentioned my 'broken wing' a while back, well still a lot of nerve damage in my hand, and while knitting's good therapy, too much is painful, so I do a few rows a day, or when I can mange.

    But I've also been working on a secret project, have just finished "something" to go to my swap partner, can't say what..hi Karyn, no clues, you'll have to wait just a little while longer :)

    It's good to be knitting again, although slowly, and I think I'll give the fingerless mitts a go, my son has a birthday coming up.

    Happy to hear your chooks are ok.


  10. thanks for always taking the time to post! we do so enjoy keeping along with your happenings!

  11. Rhonda can you tell me why you have the flower pots on top of poles in the garden?

    Being an American, it took me a while to figure out your 'rugs' were blankets. Here a rug is something on the floor. LOL

    I wish I had the time for the knitalong but maybe later. Trying to get the garden in shape sight now. So far we have 5 tooato plants, 1 green bell pepper (capiscum), onions, a jalapeno pepper still growing from last year, lots of herbs and a cucumber. I need to get my loofah seeds going per your instructions. Someone gave me a loofah last year so I have tons of seeds.

  12. Good morning Rhonda. I have three items on the needles -- two cardigans for me for the winter (it's my turn this year!) and a soft doll for the Handmade Helps Bushfire Appeal. I juggle my knitting doing what suits me best...one cardigan is heathery cream and bone tweed so that's my talking/nighttime knitting. The other is black -- foolish I know but works for the shop -- so must be knitted in daylight with a half-complex pattern.A non-talking cardigan. :) Dolly fits in between.

    I have finished my swap items -- thanks again for your inspiration. There are some wonky corners and seams but I've done it! I am wondering what to try next. Cheers, Rose

  13. I'm really pleased there are many of you who are knitting and crocheting.

    Lisa Mia, you're doing really well, love, keep going.

    Elizabeth, the flowers are african marigolds and they're a companion plant. I always have flowers in the vegetable garden.

    You're a tease, Nanette. I hope your projects go well.

    ladyhawthorne, we call floor rugs, rugs here too, but we also call a small blanket a rug. the flower pots are top stop us poking our eyes out on the sharp spikes. And I like the look of them. :- )

  14. I just cast on for a new camisole (Razor Cami from my to-do list on Ravelry) using an ivory colored silk bamboo yarn by Patons for a pretty sheen.

  15. Dear Rhonda,
    Happy to hear the chooks are feeling a little better!
    I'm knitting slowly the squares with you, but have only 8 made, trying to finish a scalf too that was from last year! But if my rug only ends up as a knee rug I will be very happy. I'm using left over wool in light purple and rust, look good. I'm trying to take it easy and as you would say 'Slow down, enjoy the process'.
    Happy Knitting

  16. Thank you Rhonda for taking the time to post today even though you were busy..I always look forward to your posts.
    I have finished 12 squares for the blanket. I have no idea what size I want but once you want us to show our finished projects I will have what I have...grin.
    I am also crocheting an afghan..so far I haven't needed to purchase any wool and am using up what I have. Spring is here so I am spending more time outdoors and my knitting is taking a back seat..I do have it handy though so when I sit down it is easy to pick up.

  17. hi all! saw the knitting post today and had to comment! speaking of men who knit, my dad learned to knit about a year ago. he learned the same way i did, from books and the internet, about a year and a half after i first took up the needles. funny thing is, he's now surpassed me in skills! (i think he has a bit more free time than i do, with an infant to care for) imagine the laugh we had when we discovered that my grandmother, his mom, knew how to knit the whole time and just never said anything! if we had known, it probably would have been a little easier to learn, i always learn a bit better when someone can actually show me how to do something. since reading your blog, i've made several dishcloths for the home, one in knit and the rest in crochet. i like the look of knit better, but i can crochet faster than i can knit. we'll be moving into my grandmother's home soon, and i'm hoping once my family is there i will be able to tend a garden and generally lead a more simple life there. (due to water mains cutting across our current back yard, i've never been able to have a garden here like i wanted when we moved in, the landlord didn't want the trouble should the lines need to be repaired.) thanks for all the great info about simple living on your blog, it's been most helpful in planning how to run the household once we move. i subscribed to your blog after reading just a few posts, odd for me as i'm not much into blogs, but yours is so much different from most that i've seen. keep up the great work!!

  18. no knitting here, its's planting season and i'm bussy before work to keep of the clothes from the vegetables and afther work to put the small plants into bigger pots etc etc. and also imortant to get the snails in the morning we have so much snails .
    but i have got some old sweaters from cotton and in the summer i will make some dishclotes from them.
    greetings jenny

  19. Hi Rhonda
    Not much knitting here as I have been busy sorting the house after my travels and getting the allotment ready for planting. Everything is now looking good and I will be back to the knitting shortly.
    Glad the chooks are doing better. Oh for the space for some 'girls'.

    Pippa x

  20. Hi Rhonda,

    I'm joining in the knitalong with you. At the last count I'd knitted about sixteen squares. However, I strayed a little last week to knit my younger daughter a hat and a tank top. I like a little variety!

    Tania @ Larger Family Life

  21. Hi Rhonda;
    I wanted to ask you - how do you NOT want to rush the house jobs to then get to what you enjoy - knitting, sewing, baking etc? Do you think it has to do with having time in your day to space things out? Is it about being able to stay home and then have the time to fit it all in? I am asking because I am lucky enough to be a stay-at-home-mum with 2 small children and I find myself having to rush housemaking to get to other things - kids need to be taken out for playtime, food needs to be cooked again and again, more cleaning needs to be done etc. SO there seems to be limited time to spend on craft and homemaking - being creative? How do you fit it all in? Is it a mindset thing?
    Thank you for a great blog. I am really looking forward to reading your book!

  22. Just wanted to say thanks for your blog. I consistently come back to it present and past for inspiration on my trip. I take comfort in help to return to and to be content with a simpler way of life. With your inspriation, I have returned to knitting. Not that I was that good to begin with - but you provide doable projects from which I get satisfaction. Thanks for your blog.

  23. Rhonda,
    Thank you so much for another knitting post. I knit and crochet and didn't join the kal because I had a self-imposed deadline to get some wash/dish clothes made and up in my etsy shop and a few other projects to do (still have about 4 to finish). One day when I get a little extra money I am going to get myself some Aussie wool. My friend from Austrailia raves about the wonderful wool from her homeland(she is living here in the US).
    Funny, we are going into spring and we have done our little bit of planting, but I'm enjoying my needles and hooks more now that I can sit outside and watch my girls as I work.
    Thanks again for all the inspiration and encouragement.
    And a link to a simple wash cloth in the round for those interested :)(I stopped counting how many I have made and given away after I did some modifications)


  24. Hi Rhonda Jean, glad to hear your chickens are on the mend. Knitting - well I "sort of" knit a wash rag. it is definitely interesting. and trying to remember knitting and purling along the way. I used one of the links you posted that had a you tube video and that helped remind me. I can knit a few rows a day and then the hands and wrists need a rest. It is too painful, but fun to do and rewarding to finish the odd looking dishrag. I will start another one and it will be very pretty in comparison. I wasn't using a cotton yarn, for this next one I will and a yarn that is a bit lighter too so it will dry quicker too. Thank you for all the information you share. Emily

  25. I'm knitting occasionally on a pair of socks from a vintage pattern on size 1 needles but haven't written a post about it yet. I keep putting it down to rest the eyes and crochet some granny square flowers for a blanket. I was going to join your knitalong but as I have so many projects going on at once, I decided I had better not take on one more.

  26. Let me preface my question with a statement :) i love your blog! you really inspire me....with my very small beginning garden, i want to "get it all done and done now!!!" but i realize that i need to a little each day :)

    My question is: Why do you have the terra cotta pots hanging on the corners of your trellis'?

  27. Hello Rhonda,
    I just found your blog a few weeks ago and am SO enjoying reading all about you and your wonderful life in Australia. I would LOVE to visit there one day!!
    I had been thinking about learning how to knit. I want my daughters (3 & 5) to learn to do handwork, but since I never did I wondered how they would ever learn. Well, I decided to teach myself. We started with a set of knitting looms and made some hats and from there I began to teach myself to knit using needles. A few days ago I decided to go for it and knit a dish cloth. I finished it last night and...well...it was interesting to say the least!! Bottom line is that it will definately wash a dish, but it is rather frightening to look at!!:-)
    I'm not giving up...I started another one tonight!! My husband just laughed and smiled at me.
    I will keep going until I knit one right!!
    Thanks for the inspiration!! I'm going to make homemade laundry detergent next!! WHOO HOOO

  28. I'm not doing the knitalong, but I am knitting along on my own projects. It's great to think of us all working away alone/together.

  29. Are you a mind reader, Rhonda?

    Why is it that whenever I think of something I need you write a blog on it?

    I've been knitting socks lately and tried the half knitted sock on my hand to check progress. That's when I thought I need to find a simple fingerless mitten pattern and now I find you've posted just that. Thank you.


  30. Hi! I have been reading your blog for a short while and find it very inspiring. I've been seeking out ways to simplify my life. Your examples are a great help. Thanks for keeping perspective in this crazy world of ours!
    In part due to your example, I have begun a garden. Here in my very northern corner, we are just beginning the season. Every day I feel a spark of joy watching my seedlings progress into plants.
    Even if you don't hear from all of us who read on a regular basis, I am sure that there are many like me who would like to offer you thanks.


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