Delicious jumper colours … http://ow.l

Delicious jumper colours … http://ow.ly/i/1FWR8

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Creative Cures

So it’s 2013 now, lovely BD people, and it’s time for a new blog post for the new year. It’s taken me a while to get going for a few reasons, mostly holidays and jetlag but also toothache and a complete lack of ideas on what to write about. Fortunately I have found the cure. Whether you are blocked by its-only-Wednesday-itis, flood drama or, in my case, a troublesome wisdom tooth there is only one way forward; colour work. Seriously, just ask the January winner over at the Biggan Design Ravelry page who took out the competition with a scrumptious colour work beanie: http://www.ravelry.com/projects/IngridMO/norwegian-fairisle-snowflake-hat.

Now my talents run nowhere near that level but I did decide that the only way to jump back on the blog horse and get my Biggan Design hat on (figuratively) was to make a BD hat (literally) to wear for blogging. Somewhere along the way that idea turned into a Biggan Design headband. So here I am, with all the required extra energy and athleticism (blogging is seriously hard work you guys!) and raring to go.

Primed for blog action

Primed for blog action

SO …

How were your holidays? I hope a very merry Christmas and suitably raucous New Year was had by all. As for myself, I indulged in my favourite past time of all on a family skiing holiday. Those who know me and my lack of both coordination and sporting ability are usually shocked at my love of skiing, having made the foolish mistake of assuming skiing holidays are all about exercise. It is, of course, mostly about sliding between meals. Between gloriously cheesy, rich and frequent meals. With wine. Delightful. I understand if this is making you jealous, it should be. To be honest I’m a little jealous of my past self.

*sigh*

*sigh*

The point of this rambling is that while on this food extravaganza trip we were snowed in for a whole day. I exaggerate a little, it was possible but extremely unpleasant to go outside without almost zero visibility, nevertheless I was faced with a day in a rustic chalet around a warm fire. I know, because you are all appreciators of BD yarn and therefore people of impeccable taste, what you are thinking; that sounds like perfect knitting conditions. You are, of course, right. I had forgotten to bring any of my own though, having stuffed the suitcase full of knitted presents and last minute present knitting supplies only. Fortunately my fellow holidaymaker had brought yarn and a pattern for some ADORABLE baby booties (finished product below).

CUTE!

CUTE!

Meanwhile this same stylish lady had been the lucky recipient of BD hot water bottle kit for Christmas so joined me in a knit-stravaganza. Behold the results.

In Progress

In Progress

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After my return to these alternately sunburnt and drenched shores I received an email with a pic of the finished project. Much needed it was too since London started snowy it’s icy heart out as soon as I left 😦

Hottie hanging out by the fire.

Hottie hanging out by the fire.

So much brightness

So much brightness

I shall leave you today with a couple of links to fire the imagination and provide your yarn-spiration for the upcoming week.

Some clever use of knitting by a commercial photography student/knitter in the UK – knitted hair! http://pinterest.com/source/louisewalkerphotography.com/

Plus some seriously old school knitting from the Met’s Costume Institute http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/80093646?rpp=20&pg=1&ft=2009.300.1111&pos=1

‘Tis the Season to Swelter

So this weeks offering will have very similar themes to my last post; heat and Christmas. It is still ridiculously hot and this hasn’t made the stress of my first Christmas knitting presents for people any easier.  Naturally to the horror of Queensland summer temperatures I have added the inevitable wrist/shoulder strain of the last minute knitter. Tragedy. When you factor in that it’s too hot for coffee some days it’s a miracle I manage to function at all.

I have rallied the remnants of my festive spirit however, and will not let this minor set back upset my plans for an awesome Christmas. Mostly I am excited about going to England and seeing dear old friends in good ol’ London town. Some of the rest of my excitement comes from really getting to grips with some Biggan Design yarn for the first time while making those presents.

Using some of the myriad little patterns and gems of ideas on the Internet I used some of my favourite, best and brightest Biggan colours for presents. Other than the pure joy of seeing a bag of BD yarns finally in my knitting cupboard (Bright Jade, Deep Turquoise, Yellow, Cerise and Coral Red for those who are curious) the best thing about using them was how good even the simplest stitches looked. Even in the brightest of sunshine and the intense summer palette around me, the little woolen trinkets came out looking like little bursts of colour joy. Win.

So while I run around like a headless chicken trying to successfully pack winter clothes without touching them, I thought I’d share some pictures of those little bursts of colour with you all. I particularly enjoy the his’n’hers mug warmers.

Photo on 19-12-12 at 4.22 PMPhoto on 19-12-12 at 4.25 PM

 

I’m off to the other hemisphere for a while but will try to send some quick updates from the fireplaces/ski slopes I find myself on. Happy holidays to all you Bigganites, especially those of you kind enough to read the blog posts!

Until 2013 … assuming the Mayans weren’t right.

A Colourful Christmas Crafternoon

It was a 30 something degree summer day in Newstead but the inside of Biggan Design HQ had been transformed into a Sweedish Christmas wonderland. Candles a-burning, tea a-brewing , mouths a-chewing gingerbread cookies and all around being watched over by a friendly Christmas wreath. If it weren’t for the sun streaming in the windows you wouldn’t recognize this as a Queensland scene.

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This is phase one of Biggan Designs Christmas Blitz and we are powering up for a Crafternoon of making lovely bits and bobs for you lovely BD fans to purchase and spread the love this festive season regardless of which hemisphere you reside in. Tea cosy kits, 64 colour kits, hot water bottle packs and all the festive colour joy you could wish for.

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Since this is my first Christmas season working with the lovely Biggan Design ladies I didn’t quite know what to expect form the Christmas Crafternoon. Unsurprisingly it was, like everything else Biggan, more colourful, more fun and just a bit crazier than you first expect.

Never let it be said that we didn’t get into the spirit of the occasion, bravely ignoring the thermostat the Santa hats came out to make sure that the goodies were being made with the right festive spirit.

Followed of course by a lunch of Ikea’s finest produce. I’ll admit to being a little skeptical about sardines and the Dryck Julmust in particular. I’m also a big enough person to admit how wrong I was. De-freaking-licous, the lot of it.

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So if anyone is stuck for ideas for this festive season BD has plenty of options for you, from stash bags and special Hot Water Bottle kits (even some Christmas coloured ones) to our gorgeous gift cards. The gift cards are a great idea if you find yourself lacking the inspiration of the time to come up with something for you knitting mad friends a family, plus they are made with a pretty picture of our yarn on them!

As always check the website http://www.biggandesign.com/ to view or purchase any of the crafty magic we made for you and we hope you are all enjoying the warm up to this Christmas, be it swelteringly hot or bitterly cold.

Happy Christmas Knitters

Continentally Confused Part 2: The Revenge

Trying my hand at continental knitting for the first time turned out to be a surprising success. Trying to purl Continental style however, was not. Unsurprisingly it is a slightly more complicated movement than the knit stitch, just as in the English style. I needed a significantly longer practice session before the purl stitches started to take the right shape.

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ImageAs you can probably tell from my super tense hands in the above photos I did, to some not insignificant degree, struggle to ‘pick up’ and make the stitch this way. Things started looking desperate and I was one or two dropped stitches away from yelling at magic knitting creatures that had clearly cursed me forever.  Then, however, expert intervention arrived in the form of the one and only Biggan. The knitting goddess herself sat down to give me some pointers from her sought after continental knitting classes.  I had thought that watching her crazy fast skills would be more depressing than helpful but it turned out to be quite inspiration and more than a little useful. Unsurprisingly her number one tip is PRACTICE and MORE PRACTICE. Even when the tutoring was done and dusted the most useful part of her instruction was just sitting on the BD couch knitting away, albeit a good deal slower and more clumsily, while she worked her magic on her needles next to me.  As per her instructions I abandoned all other projects for a week or two and just worked on continental method until it started to come together. Eventually I even switched over the jumper-knitting project I’ve been working on to continental method and you can barely see the difference where I changed. That, I think, is a pretty good indicator of success!

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So if you ever feel the desire to learn Continental stirring in your knitters heart then I cannot recommend giving it a go highly enough. Especially if you are lucky enough to take one of Biggan’s classes! Keep an eye on out the blog and/or FB for notification of any upcoming classes.

Coming Up Next: Festive Feasting and Christmas Crafting.

 

 

Continentally Confused Part 1

Last week I turned up at Biggan Design HQ for my first ever continental knitting lesson.  Despite assurances that it would be easier, quicker and most importantly easier on the wrists (because no one likes explaining to your physician that you’ve managed to give yourself a knitted-related stress injury) I was a little skeptical. This skepticism fell into three broad categories; first the belief that my limbs are inherently incapable of any movements that could be described as ‘smooth’ or ‘rhythmic’, second that I was already an embarrassingly slow knitter and learning a new method was not going to help things and finally that I really don’t like change. You may laugh but completely changing the way I knit felt like it might be the kind of seismic shift in my life that could forever undermine my fragile sense of self. Needles go in my hands, yarn goes on the right, music comes out of the speakers and the piping hot coffee goes in my mug. That is just how things are and how they should remain.

Taking all this on board you can understand why I was a little hesitant when I began learning.  It sounded very confusing. This was my my face at the start and for most of the next hour.

 

The first thing that started to change my mind was the new casting on method they taught me. It changed everything, it is just so easy. It looks a little bit like the kind of knitting Spiderman might do at first, yarn strung everywhere and an uncertain new power in the palm of your hand. Get the hang of it however and it makes casting on the easiest thing in the world. Seriously I even went home and cast on about a hundred stitches for no reason. Pulled them right apart once I was done and started again. It was awesome.

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The actual knitting part of it was not so straightforward. Even though I’m still a bit of a beginner in knitting terms doing that cardigan did take the best part of a year and during that time I got pretty used to the old yarn-in-the-right-hand-flick-it-around method of knitting. I know it’s nothing compared to you hardened knitters who might have been doing it English style for years but it still took a lot of thinking to undo all those hard-wired hand movements.

Putting the yarn in your left hand then using the needle to pick up the yarn, make a knit stitch and pull it through and off feels really weird the first couple of times.  I persevered and started to get into a surprisingly convincing rhythm.  After about an hour I’d managed this:

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Not bad when you consider a – that I’m naturally slow and b- that I spent at least half the time pulling comical faces to illustrate my distress. See below.

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I still have a bit of work to do before I can match up to even the relatively low standard of my old style of knitting. The most important thing, other than listening intently to instructions especially when given by teachers as good as the Biggan Design team, is to keep practicing. It’s the same as the first lesson we all learned as knitting virgins trying to decipher how a ball of softness gets turned into a scarf – JUST KEEP STITCHING!

Coming Up in Part 2: The dreaded purl and some expert intervention.

In Praise of Jade

When you jump on the Biggan Design train one of the first questions you are forced to ask yourself is which colour is your favourite? Now personally I could see myself happily trying out all the shades over many years worth of projects before I figure out that answer. However when I became official Blog mistress the powers that be at BD insisted I pick just one colour to start with, I’d only been looking at the enticing colour card for about a minute so I panicked. I didn’t give it any thought really and just chose on the spur of the moment.  However as time has passed I’ve become more and more convinced I made the right choice. Bright Jade, and its slightly haughty sibling Imperial Jade (Nos 650 and 630 respectively), are really great colours.

Not only does it look sumptuous on the shelf (see above) but there are persistent rumblings around this time of year, with Northern Hemisphere winter starting to threaten, that this rich jewel tone is going to make a big fashion splash. Regardless of where you live the bright but intense quality of Bright Jade in particular can work for you in a variety of garments. A stunning, warm, Jade blanket would keep anyone snugly in the winter months and those of us facing Southern Hemisphere summer can rest assured that the bright, happy colour won’t seem out of place even if we can’t wear it for a few months yet!

In one of the older blog posts Biggan talked about how her greens were inspired by Bush walks and the stunning variety of colours that surround us Down Under. The other thing that strikes me about these jades is how much they remind me of pics my Dad takes when he goes Scuba Diving – check out this fishy/wreck image from the somewhere off the Sunshine Coast and how it echoes some Biggan colours.

 

When I take the plunge next week and start knitting the ‘Continental’ way I’ll be starting off with Bright Jade and no doubt enjoying the final product all the more because of the colour and the method! I’m also excited because I’m pretty sure the turquoise-y tone of Bright Jade is going to go well with my freakishly pale skin. I think I’ll even save up these earrings I picked up at a vintage fair to go with the finished project.

 

Here’s the thing. I was going to tell you all about how this particular shade fits in with my ‘colours’ because I’m a Spring in those seasonal colour palette things you can get done. I WAS going to show you my special flip-out pouch of colour swatches and get really excited about greens. Unfortunately the spiteful fairies that inhabit my desk and hide vital items from me at useful times have done away with it.

You see I know where this pouch is, I know where it lives and it SHOULD be there gosh darn it. So being the sensible, rational creature I am I refused to accept the evidence of my eyes and instead decided to repeatedly open and move around the contents of my desk drawer until the item in question deigned to reappear. A flawless plan. The complication arose because of the very sophisticated nature of my filing system (the open-the-drawer-and-stuff method) and resulting overcrowding of my desk. Somehow the desk and all its contents conspired against me to jam folders in such a fashion that I could not open the drawers. That, dear reader, is when I decided the laws of physics need not apply to me and that the solid folder vs. solid drawer problem could be fixed by squeezing my child-size wrists into the gaps. This somehow resulted in me getting stuck for a distressing amount of time with my arm inside my desk drawers, on the verge of hysterics, cursing at the world.

To summarise my wildly unsuccessful day I have failed to find the pouch or anything else to say about colour and am now experiencing mild post-traumatic-drawer stress. There is nothing for it but to lock myself away with my existing unfinished project and try and knit the pain away! There’s just something so soothing about straight lines of stitches … *sigh*

This is what I’ll be recovering with – what I’ve got so far of a jumper in super pale pink (note the cleverly placed white objects on my desk to show up the pink-ness).

 

 Coming Up Next Week: Adventures in Continental Method.