10 May 2012

What's on your needles?

I'm sure most knitters would agree, there is a special thrill in starting a new knitting project. I really love making baby clothes - not only to give to my precious grandsons, but baby projects are small, so they're quick and easy. (And then I get to start more projects.) At the moment I'm knitting for two soon-to-be babies in my life. Tricia's son Danny and his partner Laura are expecting their first baby later in the year, and my wonderful Penguin editor and good friend Jo Rosenberg and her husband Eli are awaiting their first baby in August. So along with Jamie and Alexander, I have no shortage of babies to knit for. Luckily I have a huge stash of Ecoyarns too so it's smiles all around.

This is my knitting at the neighbourhood centre during the week. I haul it around in this very handy recycled bread flour bag. It keeps everything together and clean.

One of the benefits of knitting is that you don't need much equipment. Just a pattern, a pair of needles and yarn will get you going. Later on you can add different sized needles, a needle gauge and some patterns, but there are so many excellent free patterns online, you don't really need to buy any. I have a bag to take my knitting with me when I go out, but that's just an old bread flour bag. However, I have just bought a wool winder. I saw it at an antique and collectables shop when I was out with Tricia. I looked at it, thought of all the skeins of wools I had a home but walked out without it. The next day, after realising I had never seen a wool winder in a shop before, I went back to the shop on my way home and asked about it. It had come from a local home when the lady died. I haggled, got a discount and walked out with it under my arm. I've wound two skeins so far and it's wonderful. I'm so pleased to have it.

The old wool winder. It's probably from the 1920 or 30s. I have it loaded with a skein of cotton above.  And below, the ball of cotton wound from the skein and the winder closed up for storage.

Above: A little matching hat and slip scarf combo for one of the babies.

Below: My current project - a newborn cardigan in organic cotton.

I've finished one hat and matching slip scarf in organic cotton and am now working on an apricot organic cotton newborn plain cardigan, the free pattern is from Pickles. I hope to have it finished in the weekend. I want to do up a pair of arm warmers for me for winter and a set of dishcloths for a friend. And for those who have been reading here for a while, I still haven't finished Hanno winter jumper from two year ago, although I've done the front and back and only have the arms to do now. That will be finished off before I do too many other things. Poor Hanno, maybe I should move him up the list.

What do you have on your needles at the moment?



  1. I'm knitting a hat for myself and a sweater for my one-year-old daughter. The weather is getting warm over here, so it's nice to know I have plenty of time to finish these projects before we need them!

  2. Really lovely little hat and scarf...and the yarn looks so soft and natural. I'm sure the lucky little baby they'll go to will be both warm and comfortable in them.

    I'd really like to learn to knit beyond a simple purl one day - it really seems like a creative yet sensible skill to have!

  3. I would love to learn to knit some more (I've made dishcloths) - what are some good beginner projects? I don't have any young children in my life and I have enough scarfs, it's got to be practical too... would appreciate some ideas! :)

  4. I am knitting socks at the moment - lots of plain, easy socks, mostly without any particular feet in mind, but they always seem to have found a home before I've finished knitting them! Mostly knitting in snatched moments at present, so basic socks that need no thought and no pattern just suits me.
    That swift is just beautiful - it looks as though it was very well loved in its previous home.

  5. Morning Rhonda, I'm have only gotten into knitting this year after doing some squares for a family made blanket we made for my grandfathers 90th. Then I read your book and made some wash clothes. Right now I'm onto my second teapot cover. This time a double coloured one which is half done (and looks great if I do say so myself). It's lovely making something yourself from scratch.
    Ps. Your baby knitting knitting looks beautiful. Lovely colours.
    Michelle S

  6. Thankyou for inspiring me to pick up some needles and start knitting. In the last few weeks I have knitted some handwarmers for my children, a top for my little girl, a singlet for my little boy and last night I made my first dishcloth. Its fair to say I'm addicted now, but as you have said this is a great, relaxing and affordable hobby. X

  7. I am loving the look of the organic cottons you are using! I've just picked up knitting again after finding some supplies in an op shop, I find it so relaxing! My first attempt at a (very simple) garment for my littlest person is in progress, on my blog.

  8. Hi Rhonda, I have been knitting since I was 5 - my grandmother taught me. I know this because I have a photo of me knitting at that age! I too can't watch TV without some knitting or crochet. I seem to always have several projects on the go, so I can pick something up depending on my mood or how tired I am. So at the moment, I am knitting a jumper for my husband (a bit of a long term work in progress like Hanno's jumper!), a cotton cardigan for me, a scarf for a friend in Melbourne and coathanger covers for when I am too tired for anything complicated. I also need to make more dishcloths as mine are starting to elicit interest from friends, and I have a hankering to make another granny rug. Love Julia in Bowen xx

  9. Dear Rhonda Your knitting looks lovely. But yes I would move Hanno's jumper up the list. He is a good man and works steadily in the background, and winter is coming!

    I am busy knitting squares for the organisation Wrap with love. I then make them up into blankets (28 squares) and they are sent all over the world to where they are needed.Squares are so easy...

    I am looking for a pattern ( easy) for bedsocks for my little 8 year old grandchild Ella. THat will be my next project

    Happy knitting! Evacatherine

  10. Knitting classic ribbed socks at the moment. The goal is 1 sock at day, so that will be 2-3 pairs a week. It has turned cooler here and folk are slipping on their woollies.
    What a beautiful swift Rhonda, if you slip your hank around the very outside, between the forks, you can put a little tension on the hank and it will hold it securely. I'm a little jealous, I bet it has seen many a yarn. Happy Knitting!

  11. FrancesmoniqueMay 10, 2012 7:24 am

    Good morning! I am knitting a patchwork blanket. It is all with the same yarn but the patch work effect is made from different stitches/pattern.

  12. I can knit but mostly crochet. I have my own home business and crochet hats for babies and children and sell them online and also the local baby/kids boutique have my hats in stock. I am really busy over the winter but it does keep me going all year round. Even over the summer i sell lots of hats as a lot of photographers use them in their photo shoots and its always exciting when one of then send me a copy of a photo using one of my designs. I dont use patterns all and my hats are my own designs which makes them unique and popular.

  13. Potty Knitter, thanks I'll try that on my next skein (this afternoon).

    From a plant - join Ravelry and check in there. It's a fabulous online resource with plenty of beginners projects and free patterns.


  14. Hi Rhonda

    I am knitting dishcloths (from the pattern in your book)at the moment to build up a stock of them. I am on to number 6 now. Not overly exciting but practical.

    I agree with knitting being portable. I carry mine in a lovely organic cotton drawstring bag that contained bed sheets I bought from Blessed Earth, here in Maleny.

    I plan to get some organic cotton and make personalised facewashers for my granddaughters for part of their Christmas gifts. I am going to use the dishcloth pattern and include their initials in a contrasting colour. Like many things I enjoy the planning and design as much as the actual task.

  15. I'm currently knitting a sweater for my Ds's 28th birthday at the end of May. He's a big lad so it's a big sweater!! Finished the back last night & started on the front welt. I was actually thinking about Hanno's sweater & wondered if you'd finished it - the weather's getting cold so maybe he should take priority!!!
    Happy knitting

  16. Good morning Rhonda,
    The big fellow is also waiting patiently for me to finish his 12ply vest. I have the front and back finished but always balk on the neck and armhole ribbings. Yes , i must also move this vest to the top of the list as we are heading into winter and he will need it. Interesting how we enjoy the easy things in life but tend to put off the things that are a little more difficult and yet it's the challenges that when mastered bring such satisfaction. I then quite often think "Well that wasn't so hard after all." Wishing you both a lovely day.
    Blessings Gail

  17. Good morning Rhonda,
    I am knitting dolls clothes!
    A few weeks ago you gave a link to a knitted Waldorf doll and I am now knitting clothes for it!
    I am also looking for a bolero pattern for my 6 year old granddaughter.
    Happy knitting everyone!

  18. I'm finishing off the second of a pair of socks for Tony. Socks are a great small project too Rhonda and hand knitted ones are wonderfully warm. I make them in 4ply which is also called sock yarn. For a pair of stocking stitch socks there is a bit of shaping in the heel and then on the toe area, it's lovely mindless meditative work.

  19. Your knitting looks beautiful. Baby knits are quick and satisfying indeed and as they use smaller amounts of yarn, you can afford nicer yarn too. Poor Hanno, my husband is the same. I made my little boy a vest and my husband has decided he wants one too, but he is at the bottom of the list at the moment! I love your ball winder. I have been keeping my eye out for one too. Such a lucky find.

    I'll have a second kerchief finished by today, The Age of Steam and Brass kerchief from Ravelry. Simple and pretty. Last night I cast on the 235 stitches for my first adult cardigan once everyone had gone to bed. Much easier to cast on large numbers with no interruptions! :)

  20. Melinda from Brisbane says
    I am knitting while I read your blog and do so most days. I too have several projects on the go. I have a jumper nearly completed for one of my new grandsons (I found another newborn cardigan almost completed just the front bands and neck made for another grandson who is now two and half years old so finished that and am making the other for his brother (twin boys). I also have several blankets for the homeless on the go as I acquire my stocks of wool to continue. Am always on the look out for wool either people, garage sales and op shop, so you never know what you will get and that is half of my fun when I find my supply of wool what next to start not necessary complete straight away. I also like to mix wool and acrylic when I make my blankets as the warmth of the wool and hopefully the care is easier with the synthetic in it. Wool can also be very heavy in a blanket and acrylic lightens it up. I have been knitting since I was a young girl and knit all year around.

  21. Last year I started a fisherman's rib cardigan for myself but I found it a nightmare to keep track of it when I made a mistake and had to unpick (which was all too frequently) so that's taken a back seat and I'm doing an easy rib jumper - again for myself :-)
    Rhonda, your knitting bag in the first photo caught my eye. I have the same bag but it stores the potatoes in the pantry!
    Hooliganhound in Sydney

  22. I have just finished a pair of socks for hubby, and now knitting up a 12 ply short-sleeved 'jumper' for me. It's a well needed change going from 2.25mm dpns to 6.5mm circular needles.

  23. What a beautiful old object, just look at that sturdy old wood, things like this winder just oooze history.
    If you need a 5th DPN and you only have a set of 4 try the local Op shops, they usually have a good range of needles.

    If you don't have a winder you can loosen the screw part on a lampshade, drop the skien over the shade and start winding....with the lamp OFF, multipurpose who would have thought ?

  24. I am not a knitter. I do sew but not knit. It is so hot here and we have no need for anything other the a sweater 97% of the year. How many sweaters can I use? No mittens, scarfs or wool soxs etc needed either. I could knit the dish cloths though and should be doing so. I have made srubbies from nylon net or the onion bags. T towels of course too. I would love to learn to do edgings in crochet thread. The knitted projects though look so beautiful!! I will use the bunny to embroider on things and the little flower on the slippers were sooo pretty!!! I can therefore use many of the ideas and enjoy seeing the beautiful projects!! :) I a looking forward to seeing these projects on your two handsome grandsons!! Sarah

  25. Hi Rhonda
    This isn't a comment on your post but a request for help. I have just started a blog and am having trouble loading photos! Are you able to give me some tips on this as it takes me hours to do one post. Not a very productive way of spending my time. You can contact me on randasaunders(at)internode(dot)on(dot)net
    I would really appreciate any help you could give. My blog is www.dandilioncottage68.blogspot.com
    You have a mention in it a couple of times now! I think you're terrific.

  26. The winder is just beautiful, well done for listening to your inner voice.
    I love Ravelry too and am knitting Frankie Brown's Ten Stitch blanket which is based on an Eliz Zimmerman technique to make corners, it's really addictive and I am using up sock yarn oddments to make it. There's a link and pics at the forum for any-one interested
    Happy Knitting
    Love from coffeee Sue

  27. Your knitting is lovely as always and that cotton looks amazing. I have a wool winder too and there is no way I would part with it. It's also good if you are pulling a jumper apart and want to wind the wool into skeins to be washed or over dyed.

    On my needles is a lacy scarf that I'm knitting with my own homespun yarn. It's about sock weight and so far so good - if you don't count the five times I restarted the scarf because I couldn't work out the pattern...vbg. Never mind it's working now and I'm slowly learning the pattern - all sixteen rows of it...lol.

  28. I am just learning so am starting on dish cloths. So far i have knitted one very open weave one out of crochet cotton and am now onto my second with a cotton yarn. I have learnt how to cast on and off and am still on stocking stitch but the next one I make will be a differednt stitch.

  29. I love your wool winder! I have to admit that since I learned to crochet last winter, I can't seem to get back into knitting. I'm loving crochet too much. I'm making a granny square blanket at present.

    Enjoy the rest of your week!

  30. On my needles at the moment are a small multi coloured childrens jersey. Place I am trying my hand at knitting a hand towel and facecloth set in cotton.
    I have a wool winder exactly the same as yours. My mother gave it to me sometime ago and I use it a lot. Very handy piece of equipment.

  31. Hi Rhonda
    I love reading your blog it's the first on my favourites bar every morning.
    I always find inspiration for my day and a compass for my thoughts and activities.
    So much of what you write about I've sort of known in my head for some time but you have a way of putting those thoughts into the written word so beautifully.
    I love the gems I sometimes find in the extra boxes at the bottom of each day.
    Yesterday I read A Queens Ransom from a couple of years ago and it summed up how I feel about my day at home so perfectly.
    Thankyou for sharing your thoughts and writing with such passion for the simpler life =o)
    I've recently knitted up five dishcloths using the pattern in your book and they are so lovely to use as long as the family keep them away from sharp knives and cheese graters!
    My thing this autumn has been knitted socks from an easy pattern found on Christine's slowlivingessentials blog.
    I've been using a yarn that knits up in a Fair Isle pattern so they look quite unique and have been given as gifts =o)
    Sorry if this is too long but it's my first time leaving a comment here...just hope I get through the next tricky bit since my tech support is at school =o/
    thanks again Rhonda
    best wishes from Kathy

  32. I'm making a child's hat for the Kids Can charity here. And there are two shawls underway too.

    What a beautiful yarn swift. I have one of similar vintage that my mother found in a craft shop. Mum isn't a knitter - she bought for the happy memories but then discovered I'd use it (as I was every time I visited) so passed it on to me.

    Happy knitting everyone!

  33. Nothing on my needles at the moment Rhonda, but plenty of ideas on my to do list! I've just pulled out a heap of wool and placed in a basket near where I sit to unwind of an evening (next to hubby in front of the t.v).
    The cooler weather approaching just makes you want to get into it doesn't it. I'm not a knitter but my crochet hook is hoping to get a good work out in the next couple of weeks, I'm still trying to finish off last years blanket and the other Booti for Laura, I also plan on making a few more tissue box covers for the childrens rooms, I'm guessing we'll have a few sniffles on top of us again soon. I'm a bit of a Multi Tasker and so was hoping to try and master the art of crochet whilst sitting and Breast Feeding...don't think it's going to work though! :) Happy knitting, I love your old WooL Winder!
    Also sending a Happy Mothers day to you, I'm heading up to that Sunny Coast of yours to meet with my Family in the park, If the weather is anything like it is today then it should be a beautiful weekend!

  34. I am am knitting a summer scarf for my dear friend´s birthday, in a lovely orange-colored cotton.
    What I am always astonished to see is yarn sold in skeins! Until the 1960s, yarn came in skeins in Germany, too, and I always had to hold it on my outstretched arms for my mother to wind it in a ball. But since then all yarns here come already wound in balls. I didn´t even know that such a thing as a ballwinder for household use existed.
    Could you please give us a better picture of the white/orange tablecloth? It looks very interesting!

  35. I remeber being the yarn winder for my gran when I was a kid, standing there with my forearms just so and the wool being wound into a ball! I am knitting waffle weave dishcloths. When they are done I have socks to knit and then will try my first adult cardigan! Very ambitious for this new knitter!

  36. Rhonda, I'm so sorry to ask a totally unrelated question to this blog, but I've been trying to access your Simple Living Forum as I'd love to join up but it keeps going to the Cashed Version (well, my son tells me that's what it is!)which means I can't see it properly. Just wondering if I'm doing something wrong or if your site is not working for some reason?

  37. Your posts about knitting prompted me to unearth a tapestry I started years ago. In fact I bought it in 2000! It's three-quarters done so now I plan to finish it instead of leaving to languish in the cupboard!

  38. Go Carol!

    Gaye, there was some maintenance and an upgrade due on the forum server today. I'd say that is the problem. Try again later. They told me that if it was down, it would be about two hours. Sorry for the inconvenience.

  39. I have a beautiful very difficult pattern of a scarf from a danisch designer on my needles, and a finished one .... you can look on my blog if you want to see it. I love you're blog and book, greeting from Irene from Handmadepast from the netherlands

  40. I'm knitting myself a sleeveless shalom jacket. I have been learning how to read patterns by you tubing the stitches. It's amazing how many videos there are. I'm the sort of person that learns by seeing. It's a very cheap and easy way to learn. Using this method I have knitted baby jackets and booties that have gone to others as gifts and a couple under the Kmart chrissy tree last year!

  41. There's a pair of socks just started and a cardi almost finished. The socks are scrap double knit any old colour for a middle sized child and the cardi is for me this winter (hopefully). After that I have some homespun for a jumper for my hubby. I got the wool spun and now it needs to be knitted but I daren't start as that would mean yet another ufo.

    viv in nz

  42. The warm fireplaceMay 10, 2012 7:50 pm

    I have a short sleeved chunky weight cardigan for myself, plus a cardigan in double knit for my daughter on the go at the moment.

  43. Your current projects are lovely Rhonda.Your swift (wool winder) looks a lot more sturdy than the 'modern one' I bought from Gaby at Yarn Over. It's actually quite flimsy and made in China.

  44. Your wool winder is amazing! I have never seen one before and its beautiful to look at and functional!! I am not knitting but rather finishing off a granny square crocheted blanket from wool that was given to me. I didn't have quite enough black so went to my local Sallies opshop and got another 2 balls and now have plenty to make it a nice blanket to keep warm under and it only cost me $2!! Once I have finished then I might pick up the knitting needles again. I find it good and interesting to go from one craft to another!

  45. Beautiful work Ronda, and the swift looks lovely. I love shops like that, where all sorts of things can be found. That lovely gingham tablecloth caught my eye and I was curious about the pattern on it. It looks like it isn't embroidered on?

  46. Right now I have a few things on the go. Tonight I'm finishing off a couple of facecloths for Mothers Day presents on the weekend. I have another facewasher on the go to add to my market stash. Plus a Van Dyke baby blanket on the go.
    I'll have my What's in my basket? (hooky basket) post up tomorrow.

  47. Good morning Rhonda,
    First off, your knitting looks so pretty and the ball winder is awesome!
    On my needles right now is a lacy sweater that I started out of "leftover" yarn. During a recent visit to Germany I purchased baby alpaca yarn for a cardigan and since I was worried about running out, I bought (way) to much. Now there is still enough left to knit a light sweater. ;-)

  48. I finished crocheting a shawl,and right now I am crocheting an afghan.

  49. So sad: I've been knitting all my life since I was little but now with carpal tunnel my hands go numb after a few rows. I have some beautiful yarns tempting me too! I miss it.

  50. I'm knitting a Milo vest for my son with owl motif and a shawl for me, and looking for a pattern for a black and red stripe raglan sleeve roll neck sweater with a white scull and cross bones on the front for my older son, not having much luck finding one so I may have to improvise a little! Best wishes from the alps!

  51. The tablecloth is a very old one I found at an op shop. It's not embroidered. I'll take a photo of it and put it up next week.

  52. What a beautiful swift - and a lucky find! You may find it easier to put your skein right around the edge - it will be held in place under tension, and should make the winding easier!

    Lovely knitting, lucky little ones!

  53. Thanks pebbledash, I have to make a couple of adjustments before I can do that.

  54. Hi Rhonda
    Just a quick question...how does your yarn winder work? From the photos I can see how beautiful it is but I can't for the life of me see how it works!
    Maybe I'm missing the obvious =o/
    Have a lovely weekend and happy knitting and crotcheting everyone.
    from Kathy

  55. I just found a Wonderful book called "Simple Knitting" by Erica Knight, it was published with 2 different covers and can be found on Amazon, Fishpond, etc. It has fantastic basic knits and very good how to instructions, workshop in a book....BUT the patterns are so beautiful it is worth a look for everyone.

  56. g'day!
    have not been here for more than two weeks, have enjoyed a stay over with my eldest daughter who I introduced your dish cloths to, too.
    we have been knitting dishcloths & topless mitts for the past two weeks here & i also started a lacy knit jumper for her, am about half way up the back so far, complicated lace pattern needs lots of patience :)
    been wonderfully inspiring to read so many projects on the go too.
    ohh we have also started ourselves an apron each, in patchwork too! i am taking mine back home with me to finish off, my lovely daughter machined sowed most of the edges for me & all i need to do is hand sow the rest & line it.
    have a wonderful weekend everyone & happy knitting!
    selina from kilkivan qld

  57. I stumbled across the Purlbee website while on holidays and it's what inspired me to take up knitting again after a break of about thirty years - much to my Mum's delight, as it was she who first taught me. It's quickly become quite an obsession and I get itchy fingers as soon as I walk in the door from work and seek out the needles for a bit of instant relaxation. I'm not a big TV watcher at the best of times, I would rather read a book, but now I stay up into the wee hours knitting and keeping my husband company as he watches TV... "one more row, just one more row" ... Both the books and a good night's sleep have gone by the wayside!

    In the past four months I went from a scarf to a single blanket then, never having even knitted a purl stitch, threw myself into a kids jumper from the Purlbee website. I had planned to make it for my 2yo boy but figured I better make it larger in case I didn't finish it this winter - LOL - so now my 4yo daughter will get to wear it for a year first. For this reason, I chose a beautiful purple Koigu hand-painted merino yarn. I love it, only about 2 inches to go, then I'm onto some dishcloths for Mothers Day - bet she thought she'd never see the day!

    LOVE that winder, didn't know there was such a thing. I've been using my hubby's arms which he thinks is a hysterical recreation of 1950s domestic bliss.


  58. I so badly want that wool winder! On my needles at the moment is a block for my sampler blanket for my 4 year old daughter.

  59. Haha! I'm só up to Deb's waffle knitted dishcloths! Made just four of them, but new (all kinds of colored) skeins are waiting! ;o)

    Have a great week!

    Love from Holland

  60. Have just completed the waffle weave dishcloth in your book. In my book it said to knit rows 61-75. I was knitting away and realised something was wrong. Double checked the original pattern and it should read rows 61-65. Just thought I would let you know. Still looks good though. Will put to use tomorrow. Regards Anne.

  61. Hello Anne, you're right, I just checked it. I'll let Penguin know for the re-print. Thanks for telling me.

  62. Hello, Rhonda! I enjoy having knitting to do in odd moments, too. Thought I'd suggest a website for you, www.knitty.com. If you don't know about it already, it's an online knitting magazine (free). I've gotten many useful and attractive patterns from it.
    Thanks for all your good ideas!

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