Baskets and containers…

Our recent move to New Zealand not only came with a change of scenery when it comes to landscapes, but also regarding our home. While I’ve lived in smallish apartments near the city centre my whole life, now I find myself in a house in the suburbs. It will definitely take some time to get used to the new lifestyle of having to drive everywhere, but, on the positive side, now there is plenty of space for knitting and yarns. Also, a lot of things are needed to make the place cosy.

Now, I’m not rejoicing excessively in the prospect of having to decorate our new home from almost scratch, but I did note some making possibilities, which haven’t been there before, and which I have always been keen to try my hands at. So, one of the things I always wanted to make – just never needed to – is some knit or crochet baskets to store things on bathroom shelves. And now that I started looking at baskets… I feel the absolute need for a knitting basket sitting next to the couch as well. Who doesn’t?

The funny thing is that, even with such simple items, Pintrest and Ravelry offer an endless amount of variations to get lost amongst. So, in what follows, I’m going to record some of the things I have in mind.

basket collage

  1. Knit or crochet? At this point I’m certainly more comfortable with knitting as a technique, although simple crochet in the round does not scare me either. While, I think, a crochet basket is probably more sturdy, knitting can render more fun textures. I think I’ll go with knitting for the bathroom containers, and maybe crochet for the knitting basket. I love the simplicity of the garter stitch bread basket by Drops Design, but I also quite like the idea of using different stitch patterns for each individual container as in Erin Black’s Chunky Knit Basket Set.
  2. Felted or not? A few days ago I had a quick look around in one of the cafés here which doubles as a small shop selling designer items. The one thing that absolutely stole my heart was a round two-coloured felted basket. I really thought that would be just the perfect yarn basket… I’ve never tried felting though. Well, I kind of like the look of Jem Weston’s Felted Toy Basket, which does in fact resemble the one I saw – only that was round. I might prefer more contrasting colours though, like in the case of Lena Skvargerson’s Triplet Baskets. In any case, felting is an option only in the case of my future knitting basket, as the bathroom containers will be made of cotton.
  3. Colourwork? From the moment I saw it, I know I needed to make something like Drop Design’s Quito. The colours are so bathroomy… they remind me of a summer day on the beach. This can be an extra addition to monochrome knit containers? Will see, will see… For the knitting basket, I’m almost sure that I’ll go with two colours as in the previous images.

Tutorial Thursday: Free patterns online

I did start to write a post for this week’s Tutorial Tuesday, but I was in some serious lack of inspiration to finish it. Plus, I used up some of the precious tutorial writing time on getting a friend started on knitting her first hat! So that was Tutorial Tuesday Live!

For today’s post, however, it has occurred to me to speak about free patterns and how to find them, which is also kind of tutorially… So, Tutorial Thursday.

All knitters love free patterns, I think (oh, how much, we’d love free yarn… ;)) I was especially desperate to find them when I was starting out, as I didn’t have much idea of how to knit anything, but I also didn’t really feel like making an investment on something I wasn’t really sure whether I was ever going to finish. The thing, though, is that when you are new to knitting, you are also new to knitting resources, so it took me a while to figure out things beyond Google searches usually directing to personal blogs of truly generous craft and knitting enthusiasts. So here are some ideas of where to look, as well as some specific places I’ve found really worthwhile:

Knitting blogs:

I’m so amazed at how social knitting is! Yes, it can be a lonely and meditative activity, curled up on your couch stitching away in silence. But for many, knitting is also about showing your talent to the world, sharing your experience and getting to know people. Many of us may not have real life knitter friends, but we do have online friends and acquaintances. Plus, there are incredible people who do put a lot of energy into sharing knowledge, techniques and creating a community.

For instance, I made my very first pompom beanie following the instructions from the Spanish blog Ohmothermine! and some other places I unfortunately didn’t bookmark, and can no longer remember. In any case, you can often Google a given technique or type of project and find detailed explanations.


My two Fringe Hatalong beanies

For bloggers and designers it is also common to set up so called Knitalong (KAL) events, where a given pattern or set of patterns is proposed to be knit together with the followers of the site. This can be really engaging as well as helpful, since you can ask for advice, share your advance, and ultimately, learn loads from other knitters. One such initiative is the Hatalong series proposed by the Fringe Association blog, while the Spanish Things to Knit blog invites readers for monthly challenges providing either the translated version of a free English language pattern or a pattern designed by the author.


If you are a knitter and you don’t have a Ravelry account, you’ve simply got to have one. Ravelry is knitters’ heaven and hell at the same time. Heaven because you can find literally anything – yarn info, patterns, designers, you name it – and hell because you just cannot get off it. It is relatively easy to spend/waste precious knitting hours browsing patterns and projects and just marvelling on other people’s creativity.


Finding free patterns on Ravelry is easy. Once you hop on the pattern tab and carry out a search, all you have to do is tick the box next to “Free” in the window with the heading “Availability” on the left side, et voilà. You’ll probably have more than enough to look at and to get lost. My recommendation is that, before settling on something, you should also checkout the projects that have been made of a given pattern. This may give you a more realistic picture of what you are in for, as well as some yarn and colour ideas, and tips on what may go wrong.  

Websites of yarn brands, yarn shops and designers:

Yarn brands, yarn shops and designers have to promote themselves, and what better way to do this than to offer free goodies. My first “serious” knitting project was the Aidez sweater by Cirilia Rose offered for free by Berroco. I truly believe that had this not been a free pattern, I would have never embarked on the journey – thinking that there might not have been a point in buying an actual knitting pattern I quite possibly cannot make sense of. This adventure, however, taught me that knitting patterns are not written in undecipherable code, and that all is more easier than it seems – or at least worth trying.

Besides the Berroco pattern library, other good resources of free patterns are the Purl Soho website, which features modern and, for my delight, colourful designs, and the web of the Drops yarn brand, where patterns are published in multiple languages (even in Hungarian!). A brand new discovery of mine is Pickles yarn,  who publish really cool free patterns in Norwegian. I think Google Translate might be able to solve the language barrier, although, they also seem to be selling English language patterns for a modest price of 2$.

Online knitting magazines

I’m not at all knowledgeable on this ground, but quite recently I’ve come across Knitty, an online knitting magazine that appears to be completely free.  As a matter of fact, I found them while browsing colourwork sweaters on Ravelry, and found the Oranje Cardigan by Ann Weaver I’m quite keen on at the moment.


The Oranje cardigan. Photo by Ann Weaver.

So, I’ve told you about a bunch of free knitting goodness, and I’m sure this is not even a fraction of what you might already be familiar with. Some concluding remarks are in order though.

There is much out there that is free, and, as I’ve already said, this is pretty awesome not only because it’s free, but also because it can kind of give us a push to get out of our comfort zone and try the “impossible”. However, we should not forget that designers also have to make a living. Hence, while I obviously do appreciate free give-away patterns and KALs, I urge you to keep this in mind, and thank these wonderful people for their efforts by paying their work.

Another point is that I think as we grow as knitters, we do all realize that what we want is to knit, and to knit the exact thing we like, instead of a compromise. After all, knitting takes up much of our free time, so it’s best to do it wisely. In this sense investing in the right pattern(s) is an investment in our time and enjoyment.



My woolventures: Long-legged bunny by Kristi Tullus

Yes, I’ve even be tempted to venture into the realm of amigurumi. I don’t quite remember how it happened. Fair enough, as a kid I was utterly obsessed with cute plush animal figures, and amigurumis are by definition cute. And something new to try out – somehow I think I’d always wanted to give a go at making toys. In any case, I somehow came across this very cute free patten by Kristi Tullus.


The first crochet bunny and his little sister in the making

On the first run, I gave it a go in a wool-alpaca blend yarn back around Februray this year. I think I didn’t get the head quite right, since as a complete newbie I struggled to understand where rounds began an ended in a circular crochet project. Also, even though there is a warning to sew the legs a bit towards the front of the body, I mustn’t have got that either, since the bunny now tends to struggle to keep the balance while seated. It still is cute, of course 😉

This little one was sent to Wellington in a parcel

This little one was sent to Wellington in a parcel

The second and third bunny attempts were more justified, as they were made for two friends or rather their new born babies. This time, I used a cotton yarn – assuming that this way the toys can be more easily cleaned, and made the floppy eared version. One bunny now lives with its little owner in Wellington, New Zealand, while the other – crocheted more recently during our brief trip to Maastricht – found its new home in Budapest, Hungary.

Once we are settled in our future home, I’m sure I’m going to make use of more of Kristi’s well-written patterns to create some cheerful decoration – and more baby gifts, as they just keep coming. I can only recommend them to anyone interested to have a shot at amigurumi.

And this one helped me survive a 32k trail run... and earn second place

And this one helped me survive a 32k trail run… and earn second place