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Isn’t this yarn beautiful! It’s from Lilou yarns, an Indie dyer based in Spain, I feel a new addiction starting. This is 100% merino fingering in colours dove grey, J’en Veux and Oyster. The yarn is so soft I can’t wait to start knitting with it.

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Last week we said goodbye to friends as they head back to Australia after living here in Maastricht for 4 years.  While happy for them as they start a new adventure in Sydney it’s never fun saying goodbye, I think it is one of the down-sides of living abroad. Often the first people you meet are other internationals and after a few years, the job that brought them to a place then takes them away to a new city or country. I think some people are in your life for a certain time and place and help make the experience wonderful, others you know you will always stay in touch with and fortunately the Aussie is the later.

For my birthday last year Faye gave me a beautiful book called My Heart Wanders by Pia Jane Bijkerk about following your dreams. The book is full of beautiful photographs and every time I look at it, it inspires me to pick up my camera or do something creative. One day I hope to make Seasonal Fibres into more than just a blog and in the mean time Faye and Jess have inspired a new pattern that is nearly ready. Bon voyage Faye, see you on Skype soon.

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Pattern: Baby Birthday Socks from Seasonal Fibres
Yarn: Primo Sport by The Plucky Knitter in Oatmeal
Ravelry LinkBaby Birthday Socks
Notes: Needle 2.5mm

It’s finally out there for all the (knitting) world to see – my first pattern.  A pair of socks that would be ideal as a birthday present for a baby turning 1 or 2 years old.  I know nothing new or original in that, but a few months ago friends had requested socks for their baby and I couldn’t find anything that suited my needs completely, and I found the sizing difficult to judge as I don’t have children myself, so I’ve tried to create a pattern that would help others.

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The sizing was by far the trickiest part and in the end the pattern is written with two sizes (1 and 2 year old), with about ¼ to ½ an inch of extra room for the baby’s foot to grow. There is a bit of flexibility in the pattern, the socks shown in the picture below are planned for 6 month old babies so I changed the yarn from 6ply to 4ply, the needle from 2.5 to 2.25mm and knitted the foot length half an inch shorter to accommodate smaller feet.

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Now that the pattern is finished and for sale on Raverly, I seem to find patterns for babies socks everywhere, just as good and completely free!  I am hoping the little things like the template for a cardboard sock blocker and the pictures to help with the tubular cast on make the pattern a little more special and worth buying.

Writing a pattern was not the ‘walk in a park’ I was expecting it to be, the idea was relatively quick but the writing, test knitting, fine tuning, text editing, and photographing took time. There is also a lot of emotion tied into creating a pattern – something I was not expecting at all – a lot of self-doubt wondering if the idea is good enough, anxiousness waiting for the test knitters, frustration not being able to get the photos exactly as you would like them, excitement seeing the pattern pages come together, and now nervousness hoping that people who have bought the pattern like it.

With with the pattern selling for US$1.99 it’s unlikely I can give up my day job any time soon, but the sense of achievement is nice.   I do hope others enjoy knitting the socks, and that they have the same sense of pleasure I get from seeing them finished and ready to gift.

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Overlooking the Adriatic sea in Otranto, Italy

It’s funny how we started off planning an adventurous honeymoon to Peru, which then changed into a trip back to New Zealand but which actually ended up being 10 days in the South of Italy! But after such a long winter and a busy spring Puglia was the perfect location for a honeymoon. There were so many beautiful things to see and the weather perfect, all the blue sky a girl could want.

We flew into Bari, hired a car and explored the “heel” of Italy. We spent two nights near Martin Franca and visited Alberobello, famous for the funny looking trulli houses and Locorotondo a small town situated on a hill with beautiful views.

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Old and new Trulli houses in Alberobello

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Street in the centre of Locorotondo

From Locorotondo we drove down to Lecce, and stopped in Matera on the way, one of the most memorable cities I have ever visited. The city was founded by the Romans in the 3rd century BC, but the ancient part of the town originates from a prehistoric settlement thought to be one of the first human settlements in Italy. There is two valleys with narrow streets and old stone houses built into the hills and a small river separates this area from the old prehistoric caves.

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Matera, Italy

Another highlight was Otranto, a cute little town which sits on the east coast of the peninsula. But after fresh fish for lunch, a bit of shopping, and with such beautiful blue sky I was ready for the beach.

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Otranto, Italy

On we drove, over to the west coast of the peninsula to Gallipoli, where we spent the last few days of our holiday. We stayed in a bed and breakfast for 5 nights and ate like kings. With June being just before the peak tourist season we had an amazing deal, the 100 euros a night included breakfast and dinner for Pietro and I – and the food was so good, in fact by the time I came back to Maastricht I was 5kgs heavier! The food, wine (and grappa) were all made by the hosts using local produce where possible – and while I ate as much as I could, I could never make it to the third course.

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Pietro and I with our hosts 

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The end of the “heel” of Italy, Leuca

But technically, the trip to Puglia was our second honeymoon. Last October we went on a honeymoon “weekend” in Bruges. While the weather and scenery was a little different it was still lots of fun.

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Beer – one of the great things about Bruges, Brussels

As cliché as it sounds, for me it doesn’t matter the weather or location I just enjoy spending time with Pietro and everyday is like a honeymoon with him. A big thank you to everyone that helped contribute to our honeymoon, beautiful memories for years to come.

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Oh my, I am super nervous. I have written a pattern to make baby and toddler socks in sport and fingering weight and just posted it on the “free pattern testers” page in Raverly. Super excited that a few people have offered to test the pattern, but now the nerve racking part what if the pattern is really bad? Or the sizing is not quite right? Just to triple check, I am sending off a few samples to friends with children to check the sizing.

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Pattern: Baby Sweet-Pea Booties from Bekah Knits
Yarn: Primo Sport by The Plucky Knitter in Sammy Sammerson and Primo Fingering in Bashful
Ravelry LinkBaby Moc-a-Sock
Notes: Needle 2.75mm

These are the girl version of the Baby Moc-a-sock that I knitted up last week and are just as cute and fast to knit, but I did find them a little more challenging than the boy version. After you have knitted the grey bottom you need to pick up stitches to knit the pink sock part. It is the first time I have tried to pick up stiches from the “purl” side of the knitting and I was surprised how much harder it was than picking up stiches from the “knit” side, I just couldn’t seem to follow a straight line or pick up the stiches evenly. I probably made it worse by trying to finish one boot late at night and the other on an airplane from Düsseldorf to Minneapolis.

Let’s hope it is just a case of “first-time-itis” and the next pair will be easier (and better looking), but to be sure, next time I will knit in some scrap yarn on the pick up row to be able to make it easier to see the stiches I need to pick up.

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I vaguely remeber saying a few months ago that I would try and not buy so much yarn or patterns. Of course that did not happen and I think I have bought more yarn in the past three months then I did in all of 2012.

But in amongst the buying frenzy look what I bought, two beautiful hardcover books about knitting. The first one is called The Principles of Knitting by June Hiatt and it is fantastic, I think June is an academic and seems to have taken a very scientific approach – testing all the techniques and patterns, I love it! My only problem is that it is too heavy for me to read in bed.

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled across a knitting group on Raverly called “Knit like a Latvian” and was completely amazed at the talent of these knitters, the detail and colours in the gloves are beautiful. One of the posts in the forums was about a book called Latviesa Cimdi by Maruta Grasmane, Latviesa Cimdi means Lativan Mittens and after seeing a few of the pictures I was obsessed with getting a copy of this book.

Unfortunately they only printed 3,000 copies and the publisher has sold out (but they are going to publish the book again in 2014). I googled like crazy to try and find a copy and was even contemplating a trip to Riga to search local bookstores. Fortunately a very nice person sent me a message to say there was a copy of the book in a shop in Amsterdam and two days later I had a copy of the book, it is absolutely beautiful.

The book is in Latvian, but has a small english chapter at the back that explains the importance of the gloves in Lativian culture, and the patterns for the gloves are charted and easy enough to follow. With over 150 different gloves it is difficult to decide which one to start with, but I think the one below from the region of Vidzeme is certainly in the top three.

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Pattern: Baby Moc-a-Sock from Bekah Knits
Yarn: Primo Sport by The Plucky Knitter in Chocolate Crinkle and Primo Fingering in Milk Maid
Ravelry Link: Baby Moc-a-Sock
Notes: Needle 2.75mm

I love this pattern, it’s quick to knit, comes with simple instructions and uses up left over yarn from bigger projects. Actually what does quick to knit mean? For me quick to knit means I can finish the project in a week. But even that doesn’t really mean anything because some weeks I only have a couple of hours free for knitting while other weeks I can find 20 hours for knitting. At a guess I think it has taken me about 8 hours to make these boots, that includes sewing up time. Which for me is quick knit, unlike Raewyn’s gloves which are taking about 40 hours per glove!

Time is important at the moment because these boots are for Mika who turns 1 today, but I have a back log of baby knitting to catch up on. Felicity was born last December – but hers are nearly ready, then there is Karen who has just had twin boys, then there is Faye, Elena, Jenny, Christy and Elin all due in the summer, and a good friend told me last night that she is pregnant and due in November, so lots of baby knitting on the way.

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Pattern: Ribbed Watch Cap & Beanie from Churchmouse Yarns and Teas
Yarn: Malabrigo Sock yarn in Black
Ravelry LinkRibbed Watch Cap
Notes: Needle 2.25 and 2.5mm

Whew that was close, I finished knitting Pietro’s birthday hat the morning of his birthday. This is the first time I have knitted with the Malabrigo sock yarn and it was not quite what I was expecting. It is 100% merino and being 3ply it is a little thinner than other sock yarns I have used. It is not soft to knit with and the hat is a little “average” looking, it looks like something you could buy from a local department store rather than a luxurious hand knit. It also seems to attract a lot of lint. On the plus side Malabrigo has a great colour selection, is machine washable and fairly well priced at 19 euros for a skein of 440 yards. Happy birthday Pietro, I know you don’t like wearing hats but I hope you like wearing this one.

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Double the fun but double the time to knit something! Double knitting creates two layers of knitting which you knit at the same time. In the picture above I am knitting red with grey stripes on one side and grey with red strips on the inside. Double knitting is super fun and when I am finished these gloves will be reversible and extra warm.

Sorry Rang that I have not finished your birthday present in time, but don’t worry I will get them to you before the end of winter .

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