Virtual Tour Bendigo Woollen Mills

I’ve said it many times but I am a big fan of Bendigo Woollen Mills yarn. I have the company listed on my favourites page. In 2019 on my trip to Victoria I even planned my hotel stay near the railway station in Melbourne that I could do a day trip to Bendigo from. I buy all my cotton yarn from there and if I’m making a wool blanket for a gift it is only Bendigo wool that I use. When recently I saw that there was a special virtual tour of the mills happening I had to jump online and join the tour.

At the time the tour happened NSW was in the biggest Covid lockdowns we’ve had during the pandemic. Dependent on where you lived in NSW some LGA’s (local government areas) even have nighttime curfews, I’m in one of those LGA’s but it isn’t too bad. For something a little different for their members the Knitter’s Guild NSW organised a virtual tour with Bendigo Woollen Mills. On the Mill’s website they have a mini tour of the mills with some photos and explaining the process but our tour was a real behind the scenes tour. An actual tour of the mill is very rare as it is working factory with a lot of people and machinery they can’t walk people through it.

Photo Courtesy of Bendigo Woollen Mills
Photo Courtesy of Bendigo Woollen Mills

Even though at the time regional Victoria where the mills are located were also in lockdown the mill was still able to continue manufacturing yarn and processing online shopping orders, they couldn’t however open the onsite shop. By chance the staff were having a rare Saturday off in the actual factory so the machinery wasn’t working however that meant we got a real up close look at it all with our tour guide explaining the process and answering questions we had. With all the machines running it would be too noisy. Our tour guide took us from the back of the factory and walked through the different stages from when they first have the yarn in bales ready to start the blending process, the different stages of how they yarn is formed into strands, how the strands are plied together into hanks, the dying process of the hanks and finally how the yarn formed into the iconic balls we know and love complete with the information tickets placed in them. It really was fascinating seeing the entire process. I like seeing the process of how things are made.

If you are on the mills mailing list you regularly receive shade cards with a little sample of each yarn and the colours. You can also request a shade card from their website if you don’t get one. Our tour guide showed how the shade cards were put together. Again this was very interesting. To be honest I had never thought about how the cards were put together but it gave you a new perspective on the amount of time that goes into making each one.

After we were shown the process of how the balls of yarn were made we then got a look at the warehouse where all the yarn is kept until it is shipped out to customers or for sale in the onsite shop. The staff packing orders were working that day and we got to see the process of how each order is packaged up. This might not sound interesting but it was as again it is something I had never thought of. I just hit checkout on my online order then stalk the mailbox waiting for my squishy delivery to arrive. Computers do print out mailing labels and invoices but the orders themselves are all hand picked and sealed into the packaging ready to be posted out. Around 600 orders a day are processed! That is a crazy amount of orders and a lot of yarn as face it you never just buy one ball of yarn in your order.

The factory shop has “the bargain room” which is a section at the back on the main shop. Some items are listed on the website but the majority aren’t. It was interesting to get an insight as to what items were sent to the back room. It might be a limited edition yarn they don’t have large quantities of left or perhaps a dye lot that didn’t turn out the correct colour so they create a new shade with it. There isn’t enough to list on the main website, considering how many customers they have who might see it and want some so instead it is sent to the bargain room.

I keep repeating the word interesting but it really was seeing behind the scenes. I think everyone on the tour suddenly had a new appreciation and respect on how much work it look to have the squishy balls of yarn into our hands. I know I certainly did. A big Thank You to the Knitter’s Guide NSW for organising the tour.

Cassiy

Mulberry Virus Shawl

The Virus shawl pattern has been around for many years and isn’t one of those Covid inspired patterns. The pattern was given the name virus as just like a virus it grows and grows. I have made the pattern twice before, once for myself and once for a friend.

For many years in my stash I had a skein of 2ply mulberry silk yarn. I tried knitting with it once before but it was so fine that I struggled with it. It sat in my stash waiting for the perfect project. After starting another project in similar weight yarn I remembered this yarn in my stash and decided a virus shawl was the perfect project for it.

The virus shawl pattern can be a little tricky as there is some counting and you need to get your crochet hook into the right spot in certain rows. Online I have read that a lot of people have struggled with it. It is one of those patterns you either take to easily or you don’t. Bella Coco has a great Youtube tutorial which I re-watched upon starting this and I do recommend the printed chart of the pattern which you can find online. Once I was familiar again with the pattern I didn’t have to refer to the chart. The pattern just repeats over and over so you can make it as large as you want. I have only used the one colour but you could change colours as much as you like. For the edge I just did a single row of trebles with a single crochet (UK terms) between each cluster section.

Crocheting with 2ply wasn’t as tricky as I thought. It was actually easier to crochet than knit with it. Initially I started this as a project whilst Mr StitchNSew underwent a procedure in hospital as I wanted an easy project to work on which I could pull back if I made a mistake. Working on this took my mind off watching the clock waiting for the nursing staff to call me when it was over. The downside to my job is that I make a terrible family member when I’m on the opposite side of the operating table as I think of every horror situation, I get nervous waiting even for routine procedures. Not long after the procedure we had a trip to the emergency department resulting in a long day sitting in a waiting room and again this shawl got me through it. Once you understand the pattern you can easily put it down and pick it up again. I was counting the stitches after I finished each cluster and of course the times I didn’t count were the times I missed stitches and only found out a row or 2 later when the stitches didn’t add up to the pattern repeat. Crochet is so simple to frog back (rip back) I just placed a removable stitch marker at the point where I made the error and pulled the yarn back to there.

I’m not going to wear this shawl spread out so I didn’t actually bother blocking this but had I it would have become even larger. I’m going to wear it wrapped around my neck. The reason for using this yarn in this project was so I could wear it close around my neck and it wouldn’t bother me. Sadly the reason I haven’t worn my original virus shawl much is that even though it is soft due to my yarn sensitive it still irritates my skin if I get hot under it. I crocheted this as a replacement for my original one which I will now pass on.

Cassiy

Oui Oui Mon Cheri x 3

Better Homes and Gardens have released the 2021 edition of their annual Knitting & Crochet Collection magazine. Last year I set myself the challenge of making an item out of each years magazine after realising I buy the magazine each year but don’t do anything besides read them. If I didn’t start making items from them then I could no longer buy anymore editions and had to pass on the editions that I had. I have finished my 2nd pattern so can tick 2 editions off my list.

Oui Oui Mon Cheri is from the 2017 edition. The pattern is for a scarf and beanie. I opted only for the scarf. The pattern is a diagonally knit striped scarf using 2 colours 8 ply yarn. The pattern is all in garter stitch (knit stitch every row) so it is very easy to do, a great mindless knitting project. The pattern is created by increasing or decreasing a single stitch at the start of the row and changing colours.

Using various unopened balls of Stylecraft Special DK which is an acrylic yarn from my stash I was able to knit up 3 scarves which I will add into my charity bags this year. I did modify the pattern slightly by changing my colours every 18 rows not 12 rows so I have wider stripes. The pattern has you carry the non working yarn up the side of the scarf between each striped block. I never get a neat finish if I carry my yarn up more than a couple rows so I made the stripes wider and cut the yarn between blocks. The wider blocks meant I had less ends to weave in at the end (I’m a lazy knitter) I knit these one after each other. I won’t lie by the time I finished the last one I was very much over this pattern but it didn’t feel like a chore. I’m sure I will use this pattern again for charity or gifts as it was very easy.

♦ 2014
♦ 2015 – Builder’s Work Wear
♦ 2016
♦ 2017 – Oui Oui Mon Cheri
♦ 2018
♦ 2019
♦ 2020
♦ 2021

I now have 8 editions in my magazine collection with 6 more to make from. I haven’t set myself a deadline to finish the challenge. I have noticed since I started the challenge I am actually using my magazines more. Before I virtually only read them once at the time I got them and would occasionally flick through the odd one if I was tidying up or if I was board. Now they are all stored on my bookshelf together and I am regularly taking them all out and looking through them. I have post it notes on potential patterns. Often I am picking them up before search Ravelry for ideas. I had no hesitation buying this years copy as I know I will use it, in fact one pattern has already caught my eye.

Cassiy

Scrap Busting Apple Core Blanket Begins

I love Stylecraft yarn. It is my favourite acrylic yarn to work with. It is so soft and is easy to work with. After making a few blankets and other projects with it I have a large amount of scraps. I have finally unpacked all my yarn and realised I have 2 bags full of yarn scraps. I had been keeping them aside to make a project but I hadn’t really decided on one.

I searched on Ravelry for ideas. I didn’t really want to do a crochet blanket. I love the look of scrappy crochet blankets but in my mind I wanted a knitted blanket. I came across the apple core blanket. It is a knitted version of the traditional apple core quilt block. You knit individual blocks then join them together. I saved it in my favourites as I was looking for ideas but I kept going back to look at it. When I start doing that it is an indicator that I really like something.

 

After printing the pattern I spent a couple of afternoons/evenings working on it. The pattern is really easy to follow. At the most you have 18 stitches on your needle so these knit up pretty fast. If you’re a beginner this project is perfect as you learn how to increase and decrease stitches. With 18 stitches maximum if you make a mistake it is easy to pull it off your needles and restart again. The pattern gives instructions on how to do a sewn bind off, it is like a mini kitchener stitch but you’re only taking stitches off one needle. It is really easy to do and gives the bind off a nice look. To join them I’m doing a simple whip stitch from either the bind off tail or cast on tail. The tails are in the middle of the curve so I am slipping them through the back of the along one side so that I can join from a corner of the block.

You can either make all the blocks and join them at the end or join them after making each one. Just to get a feel of it I joined them after knitting them but from now on I’ll do them in chunks. I’ll knit up heap then spend an afternoon joining them. I’m using 4mm needles which I don’t have many of. I use 4mm needles a lot as most of my yarn is 8ply weight. This is going to be an ongoing project which may take me months or even years. I didn’t really want to have a pair of my 4mm circulars out of action for that long. I tried knitting them on straight needles but because I’m not used to knitting on straights anymore they felt long and awkward. In my needle stash I found a mini 4mm circular. It is perfect for this project as I won’t be using it for anything else. The first couple of blocks I knitted felt a bit strange as the needle tips are really short. I found knitting continental style was more comfortable on the small needles.

Originally I was going to use a mix of DK and Aran scraps as I have both in the Stylecraft brand. Aran is a 10ply and the blocks weren’t the same size when I attempted one. When it came to joining them to the other blocks it would be hard to fit them in. I don’t have a lot of Aran scraps so I will use them in another project at some point. I have no idea what size this blanket will eventually be. At this point I’m kind of starting from the corner out. This is my long term relaxing knit project. I’ll work on it when I want some mindless knitting. I might not pick it up for weeks or months but that’s ok. I don’t know if you would call it funny or how best to explain it but sometimes my yarn or fabric stash stresses me out a bit but once I decide what I am going to do with it I become a bit more relaxed. Crafting is meant to be my relaxing time but I can get overwhelmed by all the tools or stashes that comes along with it. It is fun going to into your stash and finding a project it from it but I also like having a plan a for it too.

Cassiy

Dishcloth Samples

I wasn’t aware that Bendigo Woollen Mills had started to release their patterns as PDF’s. Recently I was looking on their website and noticed the option. You can purchase the patterns from their website or through Ravelry. The cost is the same but if you are only just wanting a pattern and you are not buying yarn then buying the PDF is cheaper and more instant.

I was looking for a pattern for a knitted baby blanket. Previously I’ve crocheted baby blankets but never knitted one. 2 patterns from Bendigo Woollen Mills caught my eye. I decided to do a dishcloth of each one to see if I liked it knitted up. I need new dishcloths anyway so it was a practical way to test the pattern. The patterns tell you the stitch count for a tension square. I looked at the overall stitch count and worked out the stich count needed for a dishcloth the size I wanted so I would get a full mini version of the pattern.

PT 8323

I’m calling this one a basket weave design. I like the design from the picture. This blanket is designed for cotton and only comes in one size. Knitting wise it is a really simple pattern to follow. I was using a row counter as you do need to keep track of the rows to follow the pattern. It is a very mindless knit however I did add stitch markers between the sections that the pattern doesn’t tell you to do.

PT 8517 Slip Stitch Blanket in 5, 8, 12 Ply

Again I liked the design in the picture. As the title mentions you can make multiple sizes of this blanket. You can use any number of the yarns from Bendigo Woollen Mills or one of your own choosing with this pattern. This design looks complicated but it is actually rather easy. You do have to concentrate on your rows more with this one but it isn’t hard with your row counter. Again I added stitch markers between repeats so I could keep track. I’m not used to following repeated stitch patterns and find it hard to keep count. The stitch markers made less room for error as there was only 4 stitches in a section.

To show honesty when I first photographed the PT 8517 dishcloth I actually took photos of the wrong side. It was only when I went to add it into this post that I noticed the error. The reverse side is showing a nice pattern too so really it doesn’t matter which way up you place it.

For the blanket I’m using 8 ply classic yarn but for the dishcloths I used 8 ply cotton. I knew the cotton would stretch more than the classic so I took that into consideration when deciding on which one I liked better. The basket weave one is nice but it looked a little uneven. My OCD means if I see a pattern it needs to line up and be even. I like repeats of a pattern but only if the repeat looks the same. Also I wasn’t happy with the edges, they didn’t look neat. The slip stitch one to me looked better. The pattern was more even. The pattern does switch every so many rows but as you look at the overall piece those repeats are the same. I found it easier on the eye.

I have started the baby blanket and it is looking good. Instead of putting markers every 4 stitches I have spread it out to 8. It is still very easy to follow and I am not losing track of the pattern. I’m finding it a relaxing knit.

Cassiy

 

B’s 2020 Birthday Socks

These socks in this form weren’t on my original gift list for this year. I was planning on making B socks or something for her birthday but with different yarn. Unfortunately that yarn is packed away so when I saw some yarn at Lincraft I went and purchased a ball.

I didn’t actually know Lincraft sold a sock yarn until I saw it advertised. It is 75/25 wool/nylon mix. It isn’t as soft as some sock yarns. To me it feels very similar to Regia sock yarn. It is a sock yarn that I would only use for socks and not hats. If you were a bit yarn sensitive I wouldn’t suggest this yarn. If you don’t have any issues with yarn I think it is a good little yarn.

These socks have a story behind them in the making. When I first started these socks I forgot the cuff was 1×1 rib and I did 2×2 rib. I magic loop my socks, if you are not familiar with the term it where you use one circular needle instead of using double pointed needles. I use 60 stitches for these and I couldn’t work out why my 2×2 rib wasn’t working out even when I finished my first needle. I cast these on twice after my 1st attempt was wrong with my stitch count so I thought. On my 2nd attempt I was still off so I just adjusted one needle with the extra 2 stitches so it worked out even in the end. It was only once I finished the cuff I discovered the pattern is 1×1 rib. No drama I just put it in my notes in Ravelry so I would make the 2nd sock the same. My next debacle was the heal flap. On the purl side I did the wrong pattern so I was slipping every 2nd stitch and wasn’t meant to, once again I put it in my notes to do the same 2nd sock. It was interesting to do that error as I discovered it meant the flap was very tight when I slipped every 2nd stitch. After I started the gusset I discovered I dropped a stitch. I pulled the sock off my needles and started again.

On my 2nd attempt at these socks I did go up a needle size to 2.75mm. I am a tight knitter and they just felt too tight using 2.5mm needles. I followed the 1×1 rib pattern on the cuff and had no issues with these. These flew off my needles once I got going. The pattern I use is a very basic sock pattern. It is easy to follow and I just noticed on the Ravelry notes it gives stitch counts for different sizes so you can adapt it to anyone really.

Between socks I forget how addictive sock knitting is, after I finish a pair of socks I start to get withdrawals. Sock knitting isn’t hard to do. Using a really mindless pattern means you can just knit away and relax. You do have to remember a few techniques but once you learn them and refer to your pattern to ensure you are doing the correct one it is simple.

Cassiy

 

Painted Yarn Blanks

I brought 3 blank skeins of sock yarn from Bendigo Woollen Mills years ago with the aim to paint them. Late last year I finally got around to make the yarn up into basic shapes so I could paint them with liquid radiance.

I just did basic crochet shapes to make an easier surface to paint. Crochet is really easy to unravel and is super quick to do. I wasn’t really counting stitches I was just doing mindless crochet to make flat pieces.

I had no real plan with my colours when I painted these. I didn’t want anything too messy as I wasn’t sure how the paint would bleed on the yarn and on the chance it did I didn’t want just a big mess of colour resembling pea soup (or grey sewer water) Luckily the colours didn’t bleed too much but did give the yarn enough coverage (I hope) I left these in the sun to dry all day. I haven’t heat set the colour yet as I packed away all my liquid radiance instruction books before I did these and I can’t remember if you need to add steam when you heat set these or not. When I do heat set these I will use a pressing cloth and the Teflon cover to protect my iron so the yarn doesn’t melt.

I can’t wait to heat set these and then ball them up to see what the colours are like. I do have plans for these but they will have to wait.

Cassiy

Yarn Hits And Misses 2019

So I have done a recap of my sewing year for 2019 so here is my knitting year. I think I spent more time knitting and crocheting this year than I did sewing. Knitting and crocheting is something I can just pick up and do when I have a minute here or there.

My favourite item for the year was Daybreak. It was the first West Knits pattern I’ve ever done and I loved it. I wore it most of winter. The yarn feels so delicious and the colours went well together.

If I had to pick a least favourite which is bad to say but it would be my Groovy shawl. There is nothing wrong with this pattern I just got bored knitting it. It is really easy and mindless knitting but there was just something about it that lost me. It seem to feel very slow knitting it and maybe that is why it lost my attention.

My favourite pattern for the year was Knitted Bangles. Super easy and quick to do. You can make them with any yarn that you have. They make a perfect gift or can be made to go with different outfits. I am doing more of those next year.

I have enjoyed knitting and crocheting for others this year. The beanies that I made for B were relaxing knits. I am really proud of the virus shawl I made as a gift. I have also done a lot of knitting and crocheting for charity this year which is something I enjoy doing.

 

This year seems have been a year of knitting failures which I did blog about.  Some patterns were a little complicated some I don’t know what happened they just weren’t working for me. I’m hoping to restart them next year.

My day trip to Bendigo is my yarn highlight for the year. It was so much fun that day. After using their yarn for so many years it was fun to go and visit the actual shop. I haven’t made anything yet from the yarn I purchased but I will.

My yarn plans for 2020 really are just to start using the yarn I have in my stash which is a lot. I have decluttered some yarn I’m not going to use but I still have heaps. At this point I have one project that I know which is crocheted poncho. As mentioned I want to attempt a couple of the patterns I failed this year but I don’t really have a list or deadline for yarn projects. I will just go with what I feel like.

Cassiy

Off My Needles – More Knitting No More

Whilst 2019 has been a year where I have knitted some lovely items it has also been a year where I have had a lot of knitting fails. I’m not sure why but I have lost my knitting mojo this year at times. Do you call it knitjo? Needlejo? Yarnjo? Whatever it is called it seems to be lacking a bit this year.

I started my Correa Wrap which I just couldn’t get the pattern right after trying it several times without success the yarn is off my needles sitting in a cupboard waiting to be started again at some point. I really do want to knit this after buying the kit.

My next fail was a cowl I started using my most expensive yarn. It was a simple linen stitch pattern but when I dropped a couple of stitches by accident my project fell to pieces. I didn’t have the knitting experience to rescue the stitches and besides I wasn’t too happy with the size needles I had been using so it was another project that was taken from my needles to be started again in the future. This time I need to make sure that between knitting time on it I push my stitches down my needles so they don’t slip off. I’ll also try larger needles.

The latest projects to come off my needles are 2 sets of socks. I attempted to knit another pair of Rye socks. Rye socks were the first socks I ever made finishing an entire pair in 2 weeks. This time I just wasn’t happy with them. I used a different size needle on my cuff and left a longer tails yarn which left me panicking that I wasn’t going to have another yarn to finish the sock. Even though I was ¾ through finishing sock 1 I’ve decided to take them off my needles. My tension didn’t feel right overall. I split my front panel on my magic loop when I was doing the gusset and I know it isn’t terribly noticeable I can see the pattern looks slightly off and it is right in the centre of the foot. I will make them again but just not now. Earlier this year I started a pair of pink calf length socks for myself. These aren’t really a knitting fail but more a knitting not going to wear. Knowing my sock wearing style I don’t wear calf length socks anymore. I have taken them off my needles and will instead do ankle length socks which I know I will wear and I need to start replacing my store brought socks.

Yes it has been disappointing that I have had a few knitting fails this year but I’m not going to let that get me down. I know I can knit and when it feels right I will get all the above projects made.

Cassiy

Sockhead Hat V2

My friend is wearing the beanie I made her so much she hinted she could really use another one 🙂 No problems I can do that.

Picking the yarn was a little more simple this time. I sent my friend screen shots of Malabrigo sock yarn from the The Wool Inn and said pick a colour. Her first choice wasn’t in stock when I got to the store but 2nd choice was Zarzamora. This is the same type of yarn I used for her birthday socks so I have worked with this yarn before and it is lovely to knit with.

This beanie is a little bigger than the last one. Feedback was maybe a little more slouchy next time. I used 2.5mm needles for the brim and made it 4″ again. For the body of the hat I switched to 3.0mm needles and knitted to 9″ before starting the decreases. It has more slouch to the last one and I don’t think it is too big. For blocking I just laid it flat on my blocking mat to dry. To be honest it probably didn’t need blocking but I wanted to wash it just on the chance I had coughed on it.

I’m posting this beanie up north this week so it shouldn’t be too much longer before my friend gets it. She’ll still get plenty of wear out of this winter. This was an easy knit to do and I did have knitting withdrawals as soon as it was off my needles which happens after I finish a project.

Cassiy