Pikachu times two

Wednesday, December 28, 2016
I'm blogging from my phone again. This is going to drive Michelle mad because my formatting will be wrong and my picture sizes all over the place (if you don't notice anything wrong, it's because she couldn't bear it and fixed everything up, she's good like that!).

It seems like ages since I last posted. The lead up to silly season was crazy this year and despite having most of the knitting finished well before time, these guys were still considered a WIP right up until the night of the 24th. Link to pattern is back in this blog post.

 

Another thing that Michelle would never do is, finish and gift a project ignoring a niggling suspicion that one detail is the wrong colour. I however committed this crime against pikachus.

 

Mr 8 whispered to me on Christmas morning "those black stripes are supposed to be brown but it really doesn't matter". 

I thought they were brown, I have brown felt, but when you are madly finishing an item on Christmas Eve rational thinking seems to go out of the window.   

 

The kids both love them. The dog covets them. 
The pattern was easy to follow, 

but remember...

*whisper* those stripes on the back are supposed to be brown *whisper*

Printable Calendar Project

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Teacher presents! I was at a loss this year, it's always a difficult balance between budget and something meaningful, or useful. This year we went handmade. There would be loads of things you could make by hand that would make a lovely gift, I'd never recommend food though after talking to teachers themselves, unless you have a special relationship and you already know they love your baking.

I decided to do a calendar, the Mr and I had already pulled together a calendar that we are selling locally, so I had the basic layout ready to work with. My idea was that the kids would customise the front covers with their own drawings. For my biggest, we scanned in an artwork he brought home, for my littlest, he drew a rainbow on each of the four calendars for his teachers. Big effort for a reluctant artist!

And then I figured hey this might be useful for others, I'll pop up a quick blog post with a printable pdf. It's too late for teacher gifts, but this could be a summer project for the kids, they could make their own calendars for next year. Or for yourself, just don't bother with the cover page at all?

For ours I bought clipboards from Officeworks, then modified them. I didn't want all the pages falling out each time the month changed, and I wanted it to hang easily. Hey presto, I pulled out the Dremel, ground off the rivets and the whole clip section came off easily. 
Then it's just a matter of printing out your pages and customising the front cover. Take it to office works to print on heavier paper if you fancy, I ran out of time to do that myself! Download the printable pdf file here.

Progress report - Pikachu update

One of the things I like most about Michelle being my craft buddy is that she demands progress updates, especially the projects with a deadline. She is the reason why I managed to get all those stockings finished in time for advent two years ago. The thought of reporting that I was behind schedule was enough to kick me up a gear.

I got a text today asking how the pikachus were going and I was able to report that one was stuffed and has ears and the other is waiting to be stuffed and needs ears. 

 
All that they need is arms, legs, a tail each and then facial features. 

I think I have about two hours of knitting time left  and then I shall whip out the felt and my glue gun and proceed to burn off my fingertips* as I attempt to give them faces. 


* this will most certainly involve swearing. 

Knitting and reading

Thursday, December 8, 2016
I was reading the yarn harlots blog the other day and she catalogued all the projects she needed to knit between now and Christmas. The list included: 2 sweaters, 2 cowls, a hat, some slippers and 4 pairs of socks!

Holy moly! And she isn't even panicking (yet!) 

Amittedly the sweaters are baby sweaters and the yarn harlot is an incredibly fast knitter (it's the reason she is a deity among my people) but that is a frightful list. However it did remind me that I haven't started my Christmas knitting yet.

Here's my list:

That's it! I have heaps of time.... honestly I decided on the pattern a month ago. Why haven't I started it?


 


Christmas knitted has commenced. 

I have also been delving into some history in my viewing and reading time. 

I've been watching 'The Crown' on Netflix which is an utterly fantastic portrayal of the Queens assent to the throne.  I highly recommend the show, it is fantastic and a person raised in England I knew quite a bit about this era but the show filled in a fair few gaps. 

I've been reading 'the butcher bird' sadly the time I've devoted to trying to: like the characters, care about the story, or overlook the blatant historical errors, is time I will never get back. I didn't even finish it. It's woeful. Don't read it. 

Happy Pompom Wreath

Sunday, December 4, 2016

It's a pompom wreath! I thought I'd have this finished to send to a friend for the beginning of Spring. Well I got that wrong! It isn't meant to be a Christmas wreath, it's meant to be a spring, or any time wreath, hence the colours. Or rather the colours I had inspired the purpose, pompoms are a great way to use up bits and pieces of yarn. Pretty sure I've talked about making them before, but I thought I'd share two methods I tried during this project. I'm still to try a method I feel gives a good result easily and - key point here - repeatably!

First one - these funny little half circle pompom makers. Just don't. As I suspected, they make half a pompom, or one very sparse pompom. The staff member in the shop I was in convinced me they make perfectly good pompoms, I don't remember her saying you have to tie two together to get a proper fluffy pompom. Perhaps they are pom makers, not pompom makers...


The next one came with the french knitting dolly I bought earlier this year. Nice dense pompom, but an awful lot of wasted yarn getting that egg shaped pompom into a circle. So the hunt continues!


Initially I was just making these in the downtime from other projects, collecting a bright cheerful bunch of wooly balls. Then November came and I figured I'd better get this thing finished or it would need to be a winter wreath! I settled on a foam wreath form to attach the pompoms, and wrapped it in yarn too, burning my finger with hot glue in the process (sign of a top notch craft project I hear).


Which led to the big dilemma - I hadn't really planned any of this so as I reached the end of hot gluing the pompoms on to the wreath, I realised I still needed at least one more! Not happy with this first end result at all. You can see the gappy nature of the lower left hand side. Plus there was something about it that felt a bit off-kilter. Luckily Louise rescued me with yarn and some positive feedback at this point or I might have torn the thing up to salvage the foam.


Some bright aqua yarn to the rescue, and once the gap seems plugged, I pulled the blue two-tone and popped an aqua pompom there as well. Much happier with this result! Thank you Louise! The wreath has been other hastily packaged and is off to the post office as I type. Gosh I hope it arrives in reasonable shape.


Just before I go, Mr has been a busy bee in the veg patch, and needed the space where the boys carrots were to plant a million other seedlings. Check out his haul!

Easy Crochet Cowl

Monday, November 28, 2016

This project kind of took me by surprise. I went to Spotlight, even though I have some Paintbox cotton yarn in the post from Love Crochet. When will that arrive I wonder? I thought it would be here by now! Is it coming from England? So there I was in Spotlight, looking for something else, stickers I think, and fabric, and some Lion brand kitchen cotton, none of which I bought. In fact I only found some nice fabric at the end, once the boys had become truly shop crazed and we had to go. And this big soft chunky cotton acrylic stuff was looking at me, and it was so nice and squishy, and I was thinking of those big knitting needles I have now. Except then a project popped into my head, the Mr needs a cowl! He likes to sleep in them when it's chilly or if he is sick. So I grabbed three balls, having no idea if that was enough or too much or how to crochet a cowl.



Something I'd like to do is learn how to read a crochet pattern, but I suspect I'll need help. Maybe it's a lack of concentration so far, but they just seem like gobbledegook at the moment. I started googling for a pattern, and realised I didn't even know what most stitches look like or how to do them, so I took the first part "make 45 chain stitches" and decided I'd figure the rest out.

I made 45 chain stitches, then looked up how to do a double crochet stitch (UK) on Shelley Husband's Youtube channel, very handy for a crochet beginner like me. When it came time to do the second round of stitches I thought about the way you do chain stitches for the first part of a cluster when you are starting a new round on a granny square, and decided to go up two chain stitches. Something the more clever pants crocheters out there may notice is that I managed to increase stitches in my first few rounds. I also ran out of yarn a bit too early, I would have liked 12 rows and didn't quite make it. Below are the front and back shots when I'd completed 8 rows. Oh and I'm hooking only into the back of the stitch, so on one side of the fabric I get a definite line pattern. See? So much to learn. I decided I liked that so when I frogged the whole thing and started again, I kept doing it that way.


The second attempt I used only 40 stitches, but made them a little looser, my first attempt had a very stiff edge. I managed to not increase stitches this time, and got 12 rows out of the one ball. And so much quicker the second time. I didn't think I'd get this done before Christmas, and I made it twice in less than 24 hours. So darn happy with that!


Those pics show the 'join', even though it's not really a join, as it was continuous, from both sides of the fabric. MUCH neater the second time! The line definitely jigs up though doesn't it? Ends weaved in and it is nice and snug on Mr, and if I didn't mind things close around my neck pretty cosy on me too! I do have two balls left, so I'm thinking of upscaling it for me. Looser and wider. Or I could just make the Mr two more so he doesn't complain about not being able to find one? Maybe do one in all cotton for me?


And speaking of Christmas, I'm thoroughly over school lunch boxes. Only 3 weeks to go.



M's Blanket

Wednesday, November 23, 2016
After 18 months of love ( (c) Amanda Prior Photography) 

While I was at Amanda's House the other day photographing my Log Cabin Blanket she decided that she would also like to take a photo of the blanket I had knit and gifted to her on the birth of her son. As you can see he has grown a bit.

The blanket is made up of a series of square, some were from this pattern.

( (c) Amanda Prior Photography) 

Others were adapted dishcloths.

The yarn was luxury 10ply by Bendigo Woollen Mills which is probably one of my favourite yarns soft, squishy, reasonably priced and machine washable. Actually that last one is probably the most important when gifting an item for a baby and I remember having to prove to Amanda (by photographing the yarn tag) that it was ok to throw in the washing machine.

The blanket has held up well from 18 months of daily use, it is very well loved.



before 18 months of love

 (These last three photo were by me - did you guess?)

Sunshine Granny Blanket

Thursday, November 17, 2016

He's not the only one who is happy this blanket is finished! My next project will be a lot smaller that's for sure. This is the little brother to the Big Granny I completed earlier, early August if this blog is anything to go by. I'm pretty darn happy I managed to complete both blankets this year! I am VERY slow at crochet, and knitting, perhaps because I don't do enough, but I suspect also technique? After a few nights of trying to get this one finished my right arm and wrist were a bit sore.


This one didn't end up as big as the first one, the yellow yarn ran out quicker than I expected and I decided to let it go at that and not buy anymore yarn for it. When I reached the last ball of yellow - which was primarily reserved for pompoms - I finished it off. And please don't say 'you could have made white pompoms' or anything like that. You know me. I scaled the pompoms down a little too, and I think they came out just right for the size of the blanket and the size of the owner of the blanket!

I'm still in love with pompoms, I think they'll feature in an upcoming project again...

Log cabin blanket

Thursday, November 10, 2016
 
( (c) Amanda Prior Photography) 

I was recently rummaging around in my craft cupboard (this is a rather grand name for the reality of the cramped little space which houses all my crafty crap) when I found a stash of knitting blocks from a project I started in 2012.

I actually think that this project was the start of my fearless knitting phase. In case you don't know, most people start off as fearful knitters,  scared of new techniques and frequently proclaiming that certain things are beyond their skill set. Then, all in our time, we become fearless knitters; projects are chosen based on an unknown skill or because they employ new way of doing a previously learnt techniques. Armed with YouTube, or more experienced friends, we set off to conquer this knitting thing. Sometimes we are delighted and use a skill over and over again. Other times, we chalk it up to experience and decide it's not necessary to do that ever again (entrelac, I'm looking at you!).

This project was my introduction to picking up stitches. You only pick up a few at a time but you do it so frequently you can declare yourself a grand master after 3 blocks. 

Based on the classic log cabin quilt this project is really quite stunning and a great stash buster. 

So why did it get thrown into the craft cupboard and told not to come out until it was ready to apologize for its transgressions? Well, it wasn't the blankets fault, it was mine. 

 
( (c) Amanda Prior Photography) 

 I somehow misunderstood the pattern. You see that grey border around the edge? Well that is supposed to be another row of brightly coloured block. I had got excited and introduced the grey too soon. 

So, I put it away for its first rest. Then I had this idea that I would create a giant F out of the stuffed up squares and knit brightly coloured blocks as per the pattern. 
 

 (Crap photo by me no (c) needed)

Sadly, when I started up again I discovered that my gauge had changed or I was using different needles (you may remember in a previous blog I mentioned the importance of throwing the needles into timeout with the project; this is why.) 

So back into pergatory it went. 

And there is stayed until recently when I was procrastinating and avoiding some essential task, probably housework.  I laid them on the floor, realized they would look good as a baby blanket. At Michelle's insistence the black borders came off and then the sewing began. 

 


I got to this point and hoped I was done, another picture message to Michelle was responded to with a phone call telling me it needed a border (I already knew, I was just being lazy)

 
( (c) Amanda Prior Photography) 

And tada, here it is, ready for steam blocking and  gifting.


 

Regular readers may be surprised by the recent improvements in some of my photos...I didn't take them. My amazing friend Amanda Prior (you can find her on Instagram as Amandaprior or go to her website at www.amandaprior.com) took them for me. I'm very lucky to have such a talented, supportive, generous friend. 

 The professional at work! 

Inherited craft stash

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Mum visited recently, and in the way folks seem to do, Mum brought up bits and bobs to pass on to me. My grandparents passed away in the last few years so there are still a few things Mum has been waiting to bring up. I love having some bits and pieces to remember them by. My grandfather's plane, actually a fancy bit of kit, and appears in pretty good condition. Hopefully David and I will put it to use.


My grandma's newest sewing machine. I think she used this twice, and from then on would wait for me to visit and I would fix things using it for her.


The 'sewing kit', actually a fairly random collection of sewing and craft stuff! Bit exciting!




Hello big boys! One step closer to doing a big chunky knit, I'm thrilled to find these, and did you spot the slightly smaller pair in there too?




What even is this stuff? Sock darning yarn? And there was a little tool in the box, was that a sock darning tool? I haven't looked through the button jar yet, but I love an old jar of buttons.


Ooh I wondered where this had got to. I leant it to Mum ages ago. Nice stuff in this book.



A bag of sequins and tiny pins! This stuff was actually mine from when I was about 10 years old. I used to make these sequin covered Christmas baubles, using a styrofoam ball and those tiny little pins.



Last but definitely not least. I used this machine with my grandma. That little hole in the front of the timber base, top the right, is for a knee lever. No foot pedal! It's a large bent and formed pice of metal bar that comes out and bends down over the edge of the table, and you wobble your knee back and forth to make the machine go. But here's the bad news, I haven't found the power cable for it anywhere amongst this stuff. I'm a little devastated about that. Here is a shot showing the place you plug in the cord...


The whole machine is hinged to the base, I've flipped it up but no luck, no cord hidden in there. There is that last metal plate, to the right, I haven't unscrewed that yet, but as it is screwed down, probably it isn't cord storage, and probably shouldn't be messed with. So that's a real shame, if it worked I have an excellent reason to hang on to it, even though it weighs a tonne. As a non-working memento, well I hope I can hang on to it through the next move! I wonder if an electrician can sort this sort of thing out?

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