Thursday, 20 August 2015

Inspiration

The good thing about clearing out all my WIPs, is that I can go through my stash and decide on new projects to knit. Last week, I sat down with my boxes of yarn and my pattern folders, and started to match up the two, waiting for inspiration to strike. Unfortunately, most of my stash is single balls, which makes it really hard to find good patterns. I love the search functions on Ravelry, as you can look for patterns using the yarn, or a similar yarn, and see how things worked out when someone else knitted the same pattern.


Eventually, I chose a couple of balls of Rowan Scottish Tweed 4ply. They were in slightly different shades of blue, but there wasn't much yardage on just one ball, so I decided to use them together. The Skye Hat pattern on Ravelry was free, and promised to use just one ball of yarn. As it turned out, I needed to use both the balls, which was perfect! I finished it off with a wee pom pom in bright pink. This is my new favourite hat. It was a bit of pain to knit, as there were so many stitches in 4ply, and if I did it again I'd maybe knit it in the round rather than flat. However, the pattern looks lovely even though it's quite simple, and it's so comfy and fits perfectly.



I also dug out some Rowan Handknit Cotton, picked up for £2 a ball in the John Lewis sale. It's the colour of sunshine, absolutely beautiful, and I wanted to knit something that would do it justice. Four balls wasn't enough for an adult garment, so I chose a baby pattern by Sublime. I've knitted this before lots of times, and have learnt from experience to knit the button bands as part of the garment, it's way too fiddly otherwise. Sewing up a garment with this cotton is hard because it's so thick, but it seemed to work out ok in the end.





Seven balls of yarn out of the stash - now to move on to my next project!

Monday, 10 August 2015

Clearout

Life's too short to knit things you don't like. I've been tidying up the house recently, and finding lots of projects that I started years ago. I just don't have any enthusiasm for these things any more, and I can't see myself wearing the finished products. What's the point in spending hours on a project you detest? No point, I decided, and I have charity shopped a good few items. Yesterday I got rid of a 4ply vintage sweater in progress, leaving only three WIPs. This is an unheard of situation for me, so of course I had to cast on a new project! These are the July Gloves from an old issue of The Knitter, using some Rowan Scottish Tweed 4ply in a nice rusty red colour. I got the yarn super cheap, and each glove takes a few hours to knit, so they're quite satisfying.



I also finished some other stash projects in the past couple of weeks. I used up the last of my red All Seasons Cotton, making a winter hat and a pair of cute mitts with wee bow buttons.




I had some more Rowan wool from a charity shop, tweedy Aran, which made a quick Brick sweater. There were a few problems with picking up stitches for the neckline, but I got there in the end!



Finally, I finished off the sleeves of a rather bright zigzag sweater from an old issue of Simply Knitting. This one's only been on the needles for a year, and I'm not sure I like it. It's got a mistake in the patterning on the front which I can't unsee, but I'm not unpicking it all to fix it. Although it's a bit full-on to look at, it's really warm, so I will probably wear it at some point.



Now to sort through the stash and find some more projects to add to my list!

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Busy July

I haven't blogged in a while, as I've been super busy - working, knitting, sleeping and generally trying to keep on top of everything. The weeks seem to be flying by, but luckily I've managed to be quite productive and get rid of a substantial amount of stash. I finally knitted up the rest of the yarn from the little selection I'd pulled out, making another Fuss Free Cardigan.



It's a great pattern, and then I bought more yarn and made another one, which found a home with a friend's new grandchild, along with a wee Felix cardigan. I'm really enjoying top-down knitting, and trying to avoid seaming as much as possible.



I still had some Drops Merino left, so I ended up knitting a Gidday Baby, finished off with strawberry buttons. Baby knits are so quick and satisfying!



Unfortunately my own children are way past the baby stage, and I took a long time to knit a Granny's Favourite for my daughter. She's very tall, so top down patterns are ideal for her, as you can knit the arms and body to the right size and extend them if necessary.





After all this baby and child knitting I finished up a commission for a friend - some Iron Man mitts which were super quick to crochet with DK yarn held double.



I also finished my own winter mittens, using Drops Lima. They're a bit baggy, but they should be quite warm. The moss stitch feels lovely and textured, but it's my least favourite stitch to work. I don't have the patience to learn Continental knitting, so moss stitch just seems very cumbersome to do.


After all that knitting I did a wee bit of crochet for a change, working up a couple of dishcloths. These are in Anchor Style Creativa, which is nice and solid when crocheted. I used an easy pattern with a V stitch, created with half trebles.



Then I started looking at my stash again, and pulled out a packet of Rowan All Seasons Cotton that's been sitting there for years. I picked the Deauville pattern by Nick Atkinson, and decided to make it two sizes too big so it would be nice and baggy. The crossed stitch pattern was way too complicated, so after a few disastrous attempts I decided that I couldn't be bothered, and substituted a garter stripe instead. This made the sizing all wrong, so I had to rewrite the raglan shaping to make it all work out. I'm happy with the finished sweater, but I might have to reinforce the neckline so it doesn't stretch.


There were still four balls of yarn left, so I knitted up some really cute owl mittens from an old issue of Simply Knitting - these only took two hours to make! The rest will become some kind of hat.



It's reassuring to see how much I've actually managed to knit in a month, as sometimes the stash pile seems invincible!

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Star Wars Crochet

There's a fabulous new crochet kit out, featuring 12 characters from Star Wars, and designed by Lucy Collin. I had a couple of requests to make some of the characters, so I spent a few days frantically crocheting and managed to complete five of them. The patterns are pretty easy, and like most amigurumi, if something isn't clear you can generally fudge it and still get a good result. They were really quick to make, each one taking about three or four hours in total.

Here are Luke Skywalker, Yoda and a storm trooper. Luke was made with my own yarn, but the yarn for the others was included in the kit. I used DK acrylic, which seemed to work out perfectly. 






I also made Han Solo and Chewbacca, using my own DK yarn and the safety eyes from the kit. I wasn't 100% happy with Chewie's look, as his head seemed a bit funny shaped when I'd finished with him. I loved making him furry though, you just use a wire brush to fluff up the yarn - simple but effective! 



The kit also includes patterns for Princess Leia, Jabba the Hutt, Boba Fett, C3P0, R2D2, Darth Vader and Wicket the Ewok, so I'll probably go back and make some more another time. They're so quick to complete, and small enough to make good last minute presents for a Star Wars fan.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

From Yarn To Garment

This little pile of yarn is the latest selection I pulled out of my stash. There's some purple Drops Lima, oddments of Patons Diploma Gold DK in purple, green, pink and white, and also some Drops Extra Fine Merino DK in blue and white. Lots of bits and pieces, only really enough to make baby garments and accessories.


With the purple and green Diploma Gold, I made a Gidday Baby sweater. I've got really into top down construction recently, and I wanted to try this sweater because the garter stitch yoke in contrasting colours looked so lovely! The sweater is quite narrow in the body, but I think it should fit a 3 month old baby. The baby version of the pattern comes free, which is an advantage, and you can also buy a version with children's and adults' sizes. 



With the rest of the Diploma Gold I made another top down garment, a wee baby dress. This is designed with a back opening and a simple feather and fan patterned skirt. The skirt was supposed to be knitted flat, but I adapted it to knit in the round to save me the bother of sewing it up. This project was really using up every single scrap of yarn, so the stripes aren't completely even, and the skirt is probably a bit short. However, I think it will work well as a longer top for a small baby.



I've also knitted up the Drops Extra Fine Merino, but will have to go and buy some more buttons before I can blog about that. The stash is decreasing, slowly but surely! 

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Hinagiku

Today I finished my Hinagiku hat. I love the daisy pattern - it took a wee while to get used to, but as soon as the pattern starts to appear it's really easy to knit.


I added a little pompom on the top to use up some extra yarn, and also because it looks a bit bare without it. I got my daughter to model it for these pictures, as I'm rubbish at taking a good selfie! 


The yarn is unbelievably soft Rowan Alpaca Colour, so I might not use this hat for everyday wear, just in case it falls apart too quickly. Such a fun knit though, and it's nice to have a hand knitted hat again, seeing as I have lost all the previous ones I've made!

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Fuss Free Knitting

I finally used up all the brown and yellow cotton in my stash! This project was the Fuss Free Baby Cardigan, a simple top-down raglan with mid-length sleeves and a buttoned-up front. It was a super quick and easy knit, striped so that I could make best use out of the yarn. I would have made the sleeves longer, but I ran out of yellow. I sewed on wee wooden buttons from John Lewis as a finishing touch.



Sunday, 10 May 2015

Cables <3

Cables are one of those things that I hate doing at the time, but love looking at afterwards. I'm still on my quest to knit through my stash, and I used some more of the brown and yellow cotton from Noah Sweater for this next project. The pattern is the Cabled Baby Vest from the beautiful Purl Bee blog by Purl Soho. It's a really simple pattern, knitted in the round, with a button opening at the shoulder - always great for baby knits. I was a bit concerned about the size when I started knitting, as it seemed really big, but it worked out ok in the end.


Despite my best efforts to reduce my stash, I received a delivery from Wool Warehouse this week. So much lovely wool to play with! It's all from Drops, mostly merino, and I'll be using it for a bunch of new designs that I hope to be working on soon. 


I also acquired a second hand mannequin, which will be really useful whenever I get the time to do any more sewing. The days of pinning things to myself in front of a mirror are over! I've got the Tilly and the Buttons book "Love at First Stitch", and now that I've sorted out all my fabric I might just start working my way through the projects. 


Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Ruthless

You know when you decide to tidy up, but the more you tidy up the more you think you're just shuffling clutter around, so you decide to have a clear out? I've had one of those days today. I started by pulling all my boxes of yarn and fabric out of the cupboard. Looking at them in one place, there did seem to be a lot of stash. This is normal, right? I'm not just a crazy craft hoarder?


I started out by sorting through all of my fabric. The best thing about having a clear out is that you find all the things you'd forgotten about - like some of these gems! I love vintage fabrics, and all of these were picked up in charity shops or car boot sales. The 70's sunflower print at the bottom right was a pair of curtains, the tartan is a man's scarf, and the psychedelic prints are original pieces of fabric from the Magpie's Nest in Glasgow. 


Not everything was lovely and exciting though. I found some bits of fabric that I would never realistically use. It felt really good to be totally ruthless and chuck lots of stuff away! I mean, look at some of this stuff! There's a nice bit of tartan skirt, but it's too bobbly to use. Some shiny upholstery fabric, a few loud prints, nothing that I'll miss. I also consigned a knitting kit to the charity shop bag - Alan Dart's knitted chess set. I don't see myself wanting to knit a chess set any time soon, so it might as well go to someone else who will love it. 


After the fabric, I moved onto my yarn stash. I've sorted this out loads of times recently, but I just couldn't bear to throw things away. I had lots of cream yarn that didn't match, some nondescript baby wool, and some odds and ends and half balls from other projects. If I had the time, I'd sit down and make some kind of multi coloured crochet thingy, or find patterns for using up scraps of yarn. However, I have a long list of exciting things to knit, and I don't want to waste any time on knitting that makes me feel meh! Someone else will rake through this stuff in a charity shop and feel inspired, so into the bin bag it went. I also got rid of a silk scarf painting kit. This kit was given to my mum about 20 years ago, she passed it on to me, and I shoved it in a box and forgot about it. Definitely one to add to the clear out pile. 


Once I'd got rid of all the stuff I didn't want, I made a list of all my remaining yarn. There's so much! It doesn't look like much in the box, but once it's all listed, it's still a ridiculous amount. Maybe more ruthlessness will be needed in the future. I've taken some pictures, and listed everything in this post - not necessarily because I think anyone who reads this blog will be interested, but because I need to keep a list for myself and updating Ravelry takes AGES. And if you're one of those people, like myself, who likes to have a virtual poke around in someone else's stash, enjoy! 


From top left - Aktiv sock yarn x 7, Drops Alpaca x 5 - one each of green, yellow, orange, white and grey, Regia sock yarn x 6, Drops Garnstudio Baby-ull x 1, unidentified garish sock yarn x 1, Drops Alaska x 1, Sirdar Escape x 1, Rowan Felted Tweed x 1 in purple and 0.5 in green. 


Rowan Scottish Tweed 4ply - one blue and one light blue, Drops Lima x 2, Drops Extra Fine Merino x 2 - one in blue and one in white, multicoloured sock yarn x 2, Diploma Gold DK - 2 x lavender and 1 each of white, pink, purple and green, Rowan Scottish Tweed 4ply - 1 x orange and 2 x red, Sirdar Snuggly 4ply x 1. 


Sirdar Country Style DK x 2 - pink and purple, Regia sock yarn x 1.5, Drops Cotton Merino x 1.5, random green 4ply x 1, Debbie Bliss Pure Silk x 1, painfully pink DK x 1, unidentified 4ply x 6.5, Drops Karisma - half a ball each in red and mustard, Diploma Gold DK x 1. 


Rowan Milk Cotton DK x 6, Sirdar Simply Recycled x 3, mustard yellow 4ply in 200g skeins x 2, Rowan All Seasons Cotton DK x 14, Patons 100% Cotton 4ply x 1 in each of blue, purple and pink, Rowan Handknit Cotton x 2, Anchor Style Creativa x 2, RYC Luxury Cotton DK x 2, Rowan Calmer x 1, Rowan Cotton Glace x 1.5, Patons 100% Cotton DK x 2, Sirdar Baby Speckle x 2, Wendy Supreme Cotton 4ply x 1.5, Rowan Fine Milk Cotton x 1, random 4ply cotton in white, blue and navy.

There's also some New Lanark Aran - 5 x blue and 2 x heathery purple, Sirdar Country Style DK x 10  in purple, Sirdar Country Style 4ply x 7 in purple, Patons Diploma Gold DK x 10 in black, Charisma Highland Aran x 20 in blue, Rowan Tweed Aran x 2 in red and 6 in navy, and Patons Linen Shadow x 16 in cream and 12 in green. The linen shadow might be the next to go, if I can't find a suitable pattern for it. 

Now to find patterns to use up all this stash!

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Never Ending Stash

The stash is getting smaller. The pile of baby knits is getting larger. This week, I used some My First Regia to knit two pairs of tiny baby socks, the Pieces of Eight pattern. The pattern is really quick and easy, and the socks have a long ribbed cuff which helps them to stay on wriggly baby feet. I still have loads of the yarn left, so I might make a little hat or something. Just now, I've had enough of tiny needles and tiny yarn, so I moved on to something a bit different. 



Here's a Debbie Bliss pattern, the Pixie Hat from Simply Baby. I have massive issues with this pattern! The sizing is way off, so the hat doesn't stay on a child's head, especially as the whole thing is so long. I knitted the 0-3 months size, and it almost fitted my 5 year old, who is closer to the size of the average 7 year old. It was a bit modified - I knitted the hat up till the decreases, and then deviated from the pattern to create a normal hat rather than the pixie style. I do love the cashmerino yarn though, it's so soft, and looks really smooth when knitted up. 



There was still half a ball of cashmerino left, so I made the Two Tone Socks from the same book, just in one colour. These are also quite big, but really super quick to make, only about an hour of knitting time each. 



Unfortunately, despite clearing three balls of yarn out of my stash, I went to Jenners today and looked at the sale yarn. There were so many things I could have bought, at bargain prices starting from £1. In the end, I chose this Rowan Alpaca Colour in a beautiful greeny-blue shade. It's going to become a hat, possibly the Hinagiku, and probably a pair of mitts if there's enough left. 



Every time I get rid of some yarn, I seem to buy more, it's a never ending cycle!