Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Inspiration

The urge to "nest" is making me do strange things. The other day I decided to sort out my bin liner of scrap pieces of yarn. This bag is full of wool, cotton, acrylic, bamboo - all kinds of fibres, colours, shapes and sizes of balls, from mohair to boucle and everything in between. I've always intended to have a look through it and make something beautiful with all the different colours, but I never got round to starting the job.

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

Cyber Sam

Can you guess what this is going to be?



















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

Topknot Hat Free Pattern

I loved the natural colours of these yarns, and wanted to create a hat that reflected the earthy theme in its design. This topknot hat is like a little pumpkin with a stalk, and will look cute on a boy or a girl. The yarns are soft and pure organic cottons, but also machine washable, a great bonus for new mums!














Size


3-6 months, with head circumference approx. 36-38 cm.

Materials needed

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

Tension

24sts x 32 rows – 10cm/4in in stocking stitch with yarn A.

Abbreviations

K - knit
K2tog - knit 2 stitches together
P - purl
RS - right side
St(s) - stitch(es)
St st - stocking stitch


Pattern Instructions


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

Mitered square blanket

I've been working on this blanket for a wee while now, and decided to get it finished off before the baby arrives. It's been a great project to use up stash cotton, and I'm happy with the way the colours work together. Unfortunately, I laid it out on the floor to see what my husband thought, and he pointed out that one of the mitered squares is slanted in the wrong direction! My inner perfectionist has serious problems with this, but there's no way I'm unpicking the whole thing just to re-angle one square.



















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

Gifts for baby Harry

I found out the other day that one of my ex-workmates had become a father for the first time. I love any excuse to make baby gifts, so I had a look through my patterns and planned a wee present. I decided to go with a brown/natural theme rather than the traditional boyish blue, which gave me an excuse to go yarn shopping.

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

Stash burning!

I have a confession to make - I have a ridiculously large stash of yarn in my loft. When I say large, I really mean large - at the moment it fills 10 stacking boxes, a bin bag, and a big crate. In my defence, I didn't buy most of it. I live in the town where Patons' yarns were originally produced, and when the mill closed down my mum bought up loads of the stock. As she doesn't knit much, I took at lot of it off her hands. Then other people found out that I knit, and offered me their excess stash. Then there's Freecycle, charity shops, etc etc - the stash just keeps growing!

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!