Friday, 16 October 2009
It took me two long months to knit, in between other things, and I can safely say that it will be a long time before I undertake another adult-sized sweater in 4ply yarn. However, I think the hard work involved is going to be worth it, because I LOVE this thing!
Look at the cute little ladybird buttons!
Sunday, 11 October 2009
Friday, 2 October 2009
1) I'm a professional actor, and fit in acting work around being a mum. This Christmas I'm touring as Smee in "Peter Pan" - can't wait to be a pirate!
2) I have an enormous stash of crafty things, and a notebook full of ideas, but never get enough time to do them all. Once the kids are in bed, I'm so tired that I generally just veg in front of the telly with a bit of knitting. I'm determined that one day I will try felting and beading though.
3) I used to work as a juggling teddy bear at Blair Drummond Safari Park. I hoped that sweating inside a fur fabric suit for eight hours a day would help me lose weight - no such luck! It was quite good fun though.
4) I've never been to school in my life, apart from to sit exams. I was home-educated from the start, and did all my GCSEs/A Levels through distance learning. Definitely the best thing my parents ever did for me.
5) I'm probably the biggest wimp in the world. I can't stand horror films, heights, dogs, wasps and rollercoasters - I do like spiders and snakes though.
6) When I was a kid I wanted to go to university and study Japanese. As it turned out, I trained as a nursery nurse and then went into acting - don't know what happened there!
7) I have a big family. My parents have ten siblings between them, and I'm the oldest of six. It makes family gatherings very big, noisy and fun.
8) I can raise one eyebrow, curl my tongue and make a noise like an owl hooting. Can't whistle in tune to save my life though.
9) I went to Milan on a college "research trip" (ie holiday) and did street theatre outside the cathedral in the middle of the night, then nearly got arrested and had to make a quick escape on the subway.
10) My favourite ever meal is lasagne followed by chocolate fudge cake. Very unhealthy but amazing!
Sunday, 27 September 2009
It's ridiculous! I'm getting close to the Ravelry term SABLE - Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy. In my defence, about 50% of this stash was given to me by elderly friends or people cleaning out their cupboards, so I haven't actively bought it all. Even so, I need to get it organised and start using it up.
I currently use Ravelry's stash organiser, which is a fantastic idea, but I find it hard to keep up to date. I never get round to uploading photos of my yarn, so then I start to forget what I have. I decided to revert to a good old fashioned low-tech notebook. I'm writing down the name and weight of the yarn, the meterage per ball, and the number of balls in stash. Then I'm attaching a small sample of the yarn to the side of the page, so that I can instantly remember what it looks and feels like. The notebook can then be used alongside my pattern collection when I'm trying to find yarn for new projects.
Believe it or not, I do have plans for most of the stuff in there. The only problem is that my brain knits faster than my hands, so it's going to be a while before yarn becomes finished objects. However, my aim for the next few weeks is to match yarn to patterns and try to find some sort of order in the chaos. Wish me luck!
Wednesday, 23 September 2009
There are so many amazing ideas inside this book, you could spend hours trying them all out. It's divided into sections for the four seasons, and the projects go along with this theme. I particularly loved a decorating idea for a patchwork wall, using wallpaper scraps or postcards. There's also a fantastic bag, made using old clothing labels sewn together in a patchwork design. The lining is created with the front of a shirt, and the buttons and buttonhole band form the fastening at the top of the bag.
If you're looking for inspiration I would highly recommend this book. It's whole philosophy is based around recycling, thrift and imagination, and there are plenty of projects that you can create with children as a family. The crafts covered include knitting, crochet, sewing and painting, so there's a little bit of everything.
Saturday, 19 September 2009
Now, I know it seems like a lot of stuff, but I paid only £15 for this whole pile of yarn, and it's worth almost £50! There's some soya, a lot of cotton, and a small ball of some beautiful sparkly pink fluffy stuff. I do have plans for the sparkly stuff, as I thought I might make a sequinned purse, but I don't know what I'm going to do with the rest yet. It will probably end up as clothes for my kids, or the blue cotton might possibly become a textured cushion. It's going to be fun finding things to make!
Thursday, 17 September 2009
Tuesday, 8 September 2009
I have a whole box of bright coloured acrylic yarn oddments in the loft, so I dug out a variety of colours and set to work. The pattern is below if anyone wants to have a go, and he loves the finished result!
Mobile Phone Case
You will need:
3.25mm knitting needles
4mm crochet hook
Yarn in your preferred colours - I used black as the main colour, and blue, pink, orange, purple, yellow and green as the contrast colours.
This case measures 4.5 x 3 inches.
Cast on 20 sts (this can be adjusted to make a wider or narrower case, but make the number divisible by two) and knit 2 rows in stocking stitch. All subsequent rows will also be in stocking stitch.
Row 1 - With the first contrast colour, knit two stitches. Then knit two stitches each in the second and third contrast colours. Repeat to the end of the row.
Row 2 - Purl this row, working all stitches in the same colours as previous row.
Rows 3 & 4 - Work two rows in with main colour.
Repeat rows 1 and 2 with the other three contrast colours.
*Knit 6 rows with the main colour. Knit 1 row in the first contrast colour.
Repeat from * 8 times, using each contrast colour in turn, and starting again from the beginning when all have been used once.
Knit 2 rows in main colour.
Fold the case in half so that the cast off edge is just under the checked piece of knitting, matching all stripes. Sew the side seams with backstitch, and weave in ends.
Edge the top opening and flap of the case with two rows of double crochet in the main colour, adding a chain loop in the centre of the flap on the second row.
Sew on a button to finish!
Designed by Torya Williams for ButterflySparkleDesigns, 2009. Please do not reproduce the pattern or the design for financial gain.
Wednesday, 26 August 2009
I did notice one pattern that I thought would look great knitted up as a modern garment. It's a sailor style top with a textured boat pattern and a classic sailor collar.
The pattern called for 3ply yarn and No. 9 needles, which seemed like an odd match to me. I went on the internet to find out some information about vintage yarns and knitting, and discovered a number of really useful websites. Kristen Rengren has written a whole series of articles about the subject, covering everything from yarn substitution to adapting gauge for a better fit. There's also a website called Skiff Vintage Knitting which has a lot of tips and tricks for deciphering the patterns.
I was quite lucky in that the pattern happened to be in my size already, so I didn't have to worry too much about adapting it. According to the websites I found, vintage 3ply is more like modern 4ply yarn. I swatched some grey Regia yarn with the No. 9 (3.75mm) needles, but the tension was just too loose. Then I remembered a cone of blue acrylic at the back of my stash, and swatched this with 3.25mm needles. It knitted up beautifully, so I got started!
The pattern is beautifully designed, with hems at the bottom and sleeve edges, and of course the lovely textured pattern. I think it's going to look quite cool with jeans when it's finished, and tie into the nautical trend that always seems to pop up again in fashion. Even if I never wear it, it's a fun experiment in vintage knitting, and I've learnt loads!
Monday, 17 August 2009
I made it in moss stitch with a double crochet edging on the flap, and a crochet hexagon on the back. The lining is made from yellow cotton, and there's a zip fastening under the poppered flap. It's perfect for holding money and cards, or using as a little evening clutch bag.
The colour scheme was inspired by 70s hippy style and citrus fruit, which might not be to everyone's taste, but I like it! I'm off to have a look through the rest of my purchases and do some more designing now.
Although, it's hard to find the time when there's something this cute to play with...
Sunday, 2 August 2009
The crocheting was easy enough to do once I got into it, but it took me a while to work out how to do the lining. I had to cut out pentagon shapes, and maths has never been my strong point. My old protractor was dug out for the first time since I did my GCSEs!
I'm inspired by the success of this project, so I'm working on a rug for the kids' room now, and would like to try a doily at some point. Crochet is more fun than I thought - now I just need to learn to do it without looking so I can watch telly at the same time!
Monday, 27 July 2009
My dad had helped me to lift a row of potatoes the other day, and it looks like we'll have a good sized crop of them as well.
Put them together with a bit of fish, and we had a lovely meal.
I'm looking forward to getting the rest of the crop, and expanding the vegetable garden next year. This year I just planted strawberries, peas, potatoes and onions. However, I've got a raspberry bush which should be ready to fruit next autumn, and there's rhubarb at the bottom of the garden as well. I'd like to have a try at carrots and tomatoes, and I would love an apple tree. Roll on self-sufficiency!
Friday, 17 July 2009
This is the first award I've ever had, and I'm so pleased! The rules of the award are as follows -
1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link.
2. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you love and/or have newly discovered.
3. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.
4. Use the One Lovely Blog award picture from my blog, on your blog to let everyone know that you have one lovely Blog!
I'm going to pass it on to:
Tuesday, 23 June 2009
I decided to start by getting everything out on the floor and making some sort of colour wheel so that I could see what was there. I'm no artist, so the colour wheel was made entirely from memory, and might not be 100% accurate!
I discovered that there were some largish balls that might make a little bag or perhaps a pair of baby bootees. Other scraps are so small that they would need to be combined in a patchwork design, or knitted in stripes.
I love the deep pink colours that I found - some scraps of cashmere and merino, one ball of novelty silky yarn, and vintage crepe from the 1950s.
Then I discovered sea-green mohair, some slubby dark green wool, and Lister Lee Bri-Nylon in a lurid yellow colour. I dread to think how this would have looked when knitted up into a whole garment!
Some beautiful soft fluffy yellow angora made me think of Easter chicks, so maybe there's a toy just waiting to be knitted up there.
Then I came across this mix of fibres in cool, calming shades - speckly tweed wool, soft dove grey bamboo, and fuzzy lilac mohair.
So what will I do with these oddments? First of all they went into a clear plastic box, rather than being consigned to the binbag. Then I went looking for pattern links and ideas that used lots of colours. One of my favourites has to be Miaou's fish blanket, a riot of colours and giving off an air of rainbow cheerfulness. I don't know if I have the patience for this type of project though!
I also love Attic 24's crochet hexagons, although I think I'd need to use yarns that were all the same type in order to get a good finished effect. Alternatively, I'm really inspired by these freeform crochet ideas. The mix of colours and textures would be perfect for my assortment of yarns, and I could create a wall hanging or some really unique artwork.
On the other hand, I may throw a whole load of colours together and see if inspiration strikes me - if anyone has any ideas for using up random scraps of yarn, feel free to send me a link and let me know!
Saturday, 20 June 2009
It's Alan Dart's fantastic Cyber Sam robot, published in last month's Simply Knitting magazine! Of course, my son fell in love with him straight away, so I set about making a toddler friendly version. Alan's patterns always look so complex, but are actually quite simple when you get going. The whole thing took me two days to make, and most of that was sewing up time.
The original version was meant to have aerials made out of cotton buds, and cardboard stiffeners in his feet, but I left those bits out so that it would be machine washable. I also adapted the face a bit to make it more friendly, and here's the finished result!
It was a great project to use up some of my acrylic stash, and as the pattern suggests, you could make it in so many different colours. I love the design of the arms and legs, because you can move all the joints to create a properly poseable toy. Although you can't see in this picture, there are little knitted rivets at each joint as well - such attention to detail! I'm a real Alan Dart fan now, and I'm off to make up some of his snuggly bugs from the latest edition of Simply Knitting, to use up a bit more of that stash.
Tuesday, 16 June 2009
3-6 months, with head circumference approx. 36-38 cm.
1 x Patons Eco Cotton shade 00110, 100% cotton, 130m/142yds per 50g ball (Yarn A)
1 x Freedom Sincere DK shade 603, 100% cotton, 115m/126yds per 50g ball (Yarn B)
1 pair 3.25mm needles
24sts x 32 rows – 10cm/4in in stocking stitch with yarn A.
K - knit
K2tog - knit 2 stitches together
P - purl
RS - right side
St(s) - stitch(es)
St st - stocking stitch
Cast on 90sts using A, and work 4 rows st st, beginning with a K row.
Next row (RS) – K16, K2tog, K17, K2tog, K16, K2tog, K17, K2tog, K16 (86sts).
Work 5 rows st st, beginning with a P row.
Change to B, and work 4 rows K2 P2 rib.
Change to A, and work 18 rows st st, beginning with a K row.
Decrease for top of hat
Row 1 – *K4, K2tog, rep. from * to last 2sts, K2(72sts).
2nd and every alt row – P to end.
Row 3 - *K3, K2tog, rep. from * to last 2sts, K2(58sts)
Row 5 - *K2, K2tog, rep. from * to last 2sts, K2(44sts)
Row 7 - *K1, K2tog, rep. from * to last 2sts, K2(30sts)
Row 8 – P to end.
Change to yarn B and work 2 rows st st beginning with a K row.
Next row – K2tog to end (15sts).
Next row – *K2tog, rep. from * to last st, K1 (8sts).
Work 3 rows st st, beginning with a P row.
Next row – K2tog to end (4sts).
P 1 row.
Cut yarn, leaving a long tail, pull through remaining sts and draw up tightly to secure. Sew the seam with a narrow backstitch. Work blanket stitch round the cast on edge with colour B to finish.
Designed by Torya Williams for ButterflySparkleDesigns, 2009. Please do not reproduce the pattern or the design for financial gain.
Friday, 12 June 2009
I made the squares by casting on 66 stitches and knitting one row (on the wrong side). I then did the mitered square pattern until there were 2 stitches left, and knitted the two together. They're really easy squares to do, so great mindless telly-watching knitting. There are only two rows -
Row 1 - K to centre 4 sts, K2tog twice, K to end.
Row 2 - K to end
I used the tutorial on this blog as inspiration.
I joined the finished squares together by crocheting them, which saved my sanity by eliminating a lot of sewing up. Then I edged the whole blanket with 5 rows of double crochet. The yarns were a real mix - Avanti Cotton, Rowan Handknit DK Cotton, and some unidentified charity shop finds. However, they all appear to have knitted up to a reasonably similar tension and work well together.
Sunday, 7 June 2009
Here's the completed present -
I made the teddy bear from a pattern that was free with this month's Knitting magazine. Designed by Emma King, it came as either a ballerina or a pirate bear. I took the basic pattern and made it in Freedom Sincere DK, a gorgeous soft organic cotton. Then I cut out little patches from denim with pinking shears and hand-embroidered a satin stitch H on the tummy patch, as the baby's name is Harry.
The socks were from an amazing book, packed full of adorable designs - Cute Knits for Baby Feet by Sue Whiting. I made the pattern "Socks in a Box", in a 3-6 months size to allow for growing room. The yarn was Patons' Eco Cotton, in a lovely variegated brown and cream colour with orange flecks. I had a few problems with the wrap and turn technique and grafting the toes, as the socks are just so tiny. I forgot how small baby feet can be!
Finally, I decided to make a wee beanie hat with the remaining yarn. I wanted something that would be wearable in summer and autumn, and would fit a 3-6 months size. There are many beanie hat patterns around, but I just decided to make up my own, after measuring a baby hat that I had lying around. I was really happy with the result, and will probably write up the pattern when I get a chance.
I wanted all the packaging to tie in with the theme, so I made tags with brown paper and attached them to the gifts with raffia. I also made a little card with brown cardboard and denim, and then wrapped the whole thing up in brown paper. I hope they like it, and I can't wait to see some cute baby pictures!
Saturday, 6 June 2009
Over on Ravelry there's a thread where people are flashing their stash, posting a photo of the whole thing altogether. I couldn't do that without some major reshuffling, but I decided to have a look in the boxes and see if I could actually use some of it. As it happened, I found five big 250g balls of baby acrylic yarn, which I had bought when Aldi was doing a craft offer. I've knitted in the past for the charity Bonnie Babies, so I decided to use up the yarn by making some clothes for them.
For those who haven't heard of them, Bonnie Babies are a brilliant Scottish charity who make clothes for premature babies in hospitals, as well as blankets and burial garments for the little ones who sadly don't make it. They send to hospitals all over the UK, to a neonatal unit in Rwanda, and to Blythswood Care as well. They're being supported by John Lewis in Edinburgh and Glasgow, so if you're in the area you might see their patterns and information on display in the stores. I dug out some premature sized patterns and got knitting, starting on May 11. I finished the last ball today (well, I cheated a bit - about 75g of the white was so tangled up that I threw it away) so that's almost 1250g of yarn used in less than a month!
Now I'm going to finish up my other projects currently on the go, and I also have a baby gift to make for a little boy who was born the other day. Then I'll have a look through the stash and see if I can clear some more out of the way - leaving me room to buy more of course!
Monday, 25 May 2009
I ripped open the leg seams of the jeans and sewed them together front and back to make a square bag shape. Then I stitched down the pocket linings at the front to make solid pockets, and sewed the zip and fly shut. I had a black and white skirt that I got in a charity shop, which I used to make the lining -
The handles were two strips of denim, folded in half, stitched together and then turned right sides out. I stitched them flat and attached them with a solid backstitch. After that I added a felt applique - probably should have done this bit first, but it was an afterthought as I thought the bag looked a bit plain. I also added a necklace from my goth days as a bag charm.
She usually wears mainly black, so I was slightly worried that it wouldn't quite be to her taste, but she seemed to really like it when I gave it to her today. I still have another pair of jeans left in my fabric stash, so might have a go at making another bag now I know what I'm doing.
Friday, 22 May 2009
The knitting machine is a Bond one, and looks as if it dates from the 70s. I've not had it out of the box yet, but it looks as if all the bits are there, and there should be instructions that I can follow. The looms are a bit more confusing though. This one is a children's toy, probably from the 60s.
There are basic instructions inside the box, which are beautifully old-fashioned. The user is advised to start off with scraps of wool from "Mother's sewing box". There is supposed to be a pattern book included, which has obviously gone missing at some point, but I think I should be able to work out how to thread and use the loom, as everything else appears to be there.
The other loom is much more confusing though. This one is larger, about 12 by 18 inches. It has a project on it already, made with string, raffia and wool.
I'm not sure how it's supposed to work though. I don't really know much about weaving looms, but I thought that you should be able to wind the completed work round one end, so that you could make a piece of cloth that's longer than the length of the loom. There are also these pieces of cloth attached to rollers at either end, which have wooden slats tied to the edges of them.
I don't have a box or any instructions for this loom, so I'm not sure how to identify it. If anyone knows how to use it, or can point me in the right direction for some advice, that would be really helpful! I can't wait to get experimenting.
Monday, 18 May 2009
Of course, I'm getting really broody with the due date approaching so fast. Also, Vonnie from Adventures of a Lady in Training has just had the most gorgeous new baby girl, so I'm even more desperate to meet my own little one after seeing the pictures. I've also been knitting a lot recently for Bonnie Babies charity, doing premature and newborn size cardigans to try and use up the masses of baby acrylic I have in my stash. Here are a couple of things I've been working on in the past few days. This jacket was from an old King Cole pattern.
This little cardigan took ages to do because it had separate button and buttonhole bands. I remember now why I usually avoid those kind of patterns!
On the needles just now is a garter stitch baby blanket, the sort that is worked like a giant dishcloth, from corner to corner. The pattern calls for a knitted lace edging, but I haven't got the patience for that, so I think I'll be trying out my rusty crochet skills and making some sort of basic crocheted edge just to finish it off.