A promising start

Monday, October 30, 2017

Well it was a promising start, but now, I'm not so sure. Actually I feel rather disinclined to finish this project. It all started well. I bought the yarn from Spotlight whilst visiting Louise, and holiday yarn is the best. It was chunky and 50% cotton, the colours were nice. I pictured a two-tone square project, and big geometric design, a squishy cushion for the sofa. I enjoyed the process of trying to alter all the square patterns I'd seen to try to minimise the gaps. I'd always seen this as a cushion project, and didn't want to see the insert through the design. I tried the more continuous method for this type of square but didn't like the effect of having the second row be sort of 'wrong side' looking stitches.

Look how nice and square those squares look, I was probably thinking to myself. 

The squares turned out to be pretty big. It'd be a pretty big cushion, 60cm square. That will look huge in our living room! Not quite big enough for a floor cushion, although I could do it square sided.

Look how wobbly it is now. The squares are super puffy, I think there's too many stitches. There's definitely something not right with the square design. Or if there's not, then I should have blocked each square individually, because I can see when I go to block it now I'll have to be careful not to pull apart the intersections, and put 4 pins in there to hold the corners together. I feel very meh about the whole thing. It's been sitting waiting to block since mid-August. I might block it. And buy the fabric required to turn it into a cushion, and sew it up. Or I might put it in a bag and just consider it unfinished for a while, and move on and hopefully finish some things I feel quite good about to bolster my confidence again!

The forgotten one

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

It's been another year where great chunks of time whistle past and then it's September. I guess being in moving-house-limbo for 6 months didn't help. As it turns out, I keep forgetting that I even did this little project, TWICE, and I think I shared a photo of the second one I did in blue for my mother in law, but never the photos of the white one I did for me. I loved this thing it was like wearing a puffy neck cloud. I loved it so much it died already, stretched, pilled and probably in need of a wash. Then we moved and now I'm not even sure where it is. One day I'll have a look for it and see if it can be revived.

I had been playing around with all these cowl ideas, some quite close to the neck with more of a stitch-sampler design, then trying them on and realising they just didn't suit me. They didn't suit me or they way I wanted to wear something warm around my neck. I get cold, then hot, I need to be able to adjust, and layer. I also realised for me, simpler is best.

And do you know, can't even remember the specifics of making it now. It was awfully simple though, I'm sure you can see how it was done. It started with a chain, joined it, then it was up with a couple of chain stitches, over with one, then - probably a double crochet? - over with a chain, and so on. When you do the next round, join to the top of the double crochet, from memory, then chain 2 or 3, and on it goes. Took two balls of that Panda chunky yarn to do this, was left with almost nothing, which I like because I'm not keen on scraps.

Yeah, so not keen on modelling!

Stash down annual review - Year 1

Friday, August 11, 2017
It has been a year since I first hauled out all my stash and photographed it. I started the project because I was feeling overwhelmed by my stash and aware that I was running out of space in my tub. Obviously, I could start a new tub but then I'd have to store it somewhere, plus the little sensible voice in my head, the one I often ignore, told me that getting another tub would be the start of my steep decent towards SABLE*.

My plan was to focus more on the yarn I already have and work out how I could be using it. I didn't set myself the challenge of cold sheeping** because buying yarn makes me happy and I am realistic about my willpower (it has as much strength as a birthday candle facing a hurricane). Plus, the more room I have in my stash bucket the more yarn I am allowed to buy.

I've just had a quick look through my completed projects and discovered that I knit 8 projects in the last year from stash.

Here they are added in the order that my computer decided they should be added in (I've given up arguing with it)

Frisson - pattern   blog post

Carson's Campside Cardi - pattern - blog post

Teeny Tiny Jumper - pattern         -              blogpost

The Greenist Merman - pattern      -        blogpost 

Knotty Gloves - pattern         whoops I forgot to write a blog post!

Baby Kimono - pattern           -              blog post

Minecraft blanket Apparently - pattern             -       blog post

 Little hearts sweater - pattern         -          blogpost

and now for the bit that Michelle has been waiting for, the comparison.

Here is the picture from 2016

Here is what is left of the 2016 stash, it looks so great and i've used up heaps....scroll down!

And here it is with the acquisitions and gifts from the last year....

I am utterly delighted in what I have achieved in the last year and no longer feel overwhelmed by my stash.

In the next year, I will continue to chip away at my 2016 stash and eventually steek something, honestly, I've been saying that for years!

*Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy
**buying no yarn

Tidal blanket

Monday, July 31, 2017
It is finished! Ta daaa! The tidal blanket! And already gone, I gave it to my mum on Saturday. I miss it already, I loved this blanket, all cotton, but nice and heavy.

It took forever. But it was worth it. I did end up giving in before using all the yarn, which was my original plan. I should have had enough to make it the size of Lucy's (of Attic24) Ripple blanket. I was never going to do the border, I like the naked edges, and I love the ripple edges. Even with all my careful yarn planning, I suspect I was going to run out of the cream before any of the other colours. Plus, it took forever. I ended up measuring against myself, and stopped when it was long enough to have a good nap under on the sofa, even if you were stretched out. Being short, with a short mum, was a distinct advantage there.

The yarn was Lily Sugar'n cream, in the three denim colour ways and the cream was flecked with a denim blue speckle. We moved house before I finished it, and I haven't quite got my photo spots sorted here yet. The walls are all yellow, which presents lil monochrome me with quite the dilemma. So the morning just before I gave it to mum, I had my son model it down our local beach. It's folded almost double here, to keep it off the sand.

And now I feel a bit lost without it, it was my grounding project that was always there.

Stash Down - Little hearts sweater

Saturday, July 22, 2017
Michelle has been 'subtly' reminding me that its almost a year since I started my stash down experiment. Michelle is madly keen for me to show off my before and after images of a year of trying not to buy yarn  (ha ha ha, which idiot thought that would work) and a year of focusing on the yarn I have to hand and using that shit up!

I, on the other hand, am being a bit perverse and making her wait exactly one year to see the results... I have a feeling she is going to be madly underwhelmed.

I have been in a bit of a knitting slump of late, I hate the sweater that I have been knitting for my son and will probably end up frogging it. I started a cushion cover in mosaic stitch but I'm not sure the yarn I have chosen is the right choice. ergh! So rather than sorting out either of those projects, I had a look through my yarn stash found myself holding some white 4ply baby yarn and remembered that a friend has just had her third daughter...Which if course lead me to start trawling through Ravelry and finding this gorgeous little sweater .

I love patterns which introduce me to new techniques and am often amused that I usually learn the most from the smallest projects. Soft toys and baby clothes seem to be chock full of interesting techniques.

Weirdly, I have never knit a bottom up sweater with seamless set in arms. This means that the arms are knit and then the stitches are left live on a piece of waste yarn to be added directly to the body just before the start of the yoke. I found adding the yarn to be a bit fiddly and resulted in a couple of holes that I needed to fix at the sewing up stage. I need to research better methods of attaching sleeves in this method because I'm sure some clever knitter has already figured this out.

The colourwork at the top is knit in the flat. When colourwork is knit in the round, I hold one colour in each hand and knit one yarn in Continental (picking) and the other in English (throwing).
Knitting colourwork flat means that you need to purl too, I've never learnt to purl in Continental style so cracked open youtube and set about teaching myself...it would seem that the knit stitch is easier to perfect in both English and Continental style!

The other technique I learnt was the Norwegian bind off, this is used on the neck edge. I found a tutorial on youTube and was soon whizzing through the last row of the sweater. The Norwegian bind off is a bit more stretchy than the usual bind off and has a nice appearance, almost like a understated Icord bind off. I like it a lot.

I can't wait to gift this to my friend this week (before her daughter grows).

I wonder if I have enough time to finish another stash down project before my year is up?!

Knitting is witchcraft

Friday, July 7, 2017
Sometimes projects utterly blow me away. Often its elaborate lace that seemingly just works; I mean how do designers create these designs with incredible lace sections and incorporate increases without losing the integrity of the lacework? Occasionally, however, a seemingly simple design which is easy to knit will take an unexpected turn and suddenly I am marveling again at the genius of knitwear designers.

Take this for example:

This is what happens when you follow this pattern. At this point, I had cast off and all that remained was to seam the arms, two sides and sew on the buttons.

Which resulted in this: 

isn't that insane?!

and aren't knitwear designers amazing.

The greenist Merman

Monday, June 26, 2017
In terms of creativity, one of the major points of difference between Michelle and myself is how we decide on our next project.

Michelle will be inspired by something she has seen, she will then start devising a plan for executing the object and, once she is sure she can achieve the look she is after, she will buy the yarn. Creative and logical. 

I, however, tend to find myself holding a single skein/cake/ball of yarn and wondering what I can make with it. I then trawl Ravelry trying to find a pattern that works with my yardage or is striped so I can use a contrast yarn to bump up my yardage. I then spend the whole of my knitting time fretting that  I don't have the necessary yardage. Sometimes it all works out OK, other times I have to wing it. 

One of my recent finished objects started out a little like this too. The yarn is from La Bien Aimee and the colourway is called Stephen the Mermaid. 

 It was a gift from my Mother-in-Law from a trip to Europe. Apparently she went into a parisian yarn store and announced that she was seeking 'the greenest green'. This is clearly a winning shopping technique. 

And so it was, that I found myself caressing the yarn (in a very creepy manner) when I realised that yarn called Stephen the Merman could only be used for a Stephen West pattern. My Ravelry trawl began. Typically, I didn't have enough yarn to make one of his bigger designs but I had quickly fallen in love with Batad which I thought would be perfect with the Ghost colourway from Bendigo Woollen Mills that was also sat stewing away in stash. 

It was a delight to knit up and the mini model was keen to help show it off

Readers with sharp eyesight may notice that the bottom section is smaller than the others. I ran out of yarn. I decided that rather than rip back to the last grey section and finishing it short. I just knit as much as I could with the green yarn and then rather than following the pattern and doing a icord bind off. I started another grey pleat, following the instructions for the previous pleats and when I got to a place where a wrap and turn should have been, I instead did a double YO with the grey (This last paragraph only makes sense if you have the pattern, sorry)

The one on the left is my fudged version and the one on the right is as per the pattern. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out and it meant I got to use every last scrap of the green.

I bound off with a three needle bind off.

This was also another stash down project. Its kind of remarkable that in 6 weeks time I will have been a year since I took the original photo.

Bedside Table Upcycle

Sunday, June 11, 2017
Some time ago I mentioned to my Mother in law that I was thinking of getting the kids some bedside tables and that I had been keeping my eye out during council clean-up; for our foreign readers this is an amazing twice yearly service provided by the local Council (Michelle lives in the boondocks so she probably doesn't have one). Basically, the local Council invites you to put all your unwanted stuff out on the kerb and they pick it up and take it to the tip. The best thing about this is that everybody else prowls around and picks stuff out of your pile that they can re-use.

Anyway, I didn't find what I was looking for but my MIL had decided that she was going to update her bedroom and had two solid timber bedside tables that she no longer needed.

They were clearly so ugly that I couldn't bring myself to take any photos of it and then after posting it on Instagram I promptly deleted it. Anyway, as the hashtag says 'sturdy but ugly' and those brass effect handles ewww! They were the first thing to go, well when I say go, I mean removed and hoarded in the shed for future reuse.

Although I know I can use coverstain to paint directly over the existing finished I've never liked the finish it gives you and I don't believe it stands up to the abuse it gets in a kids bedroom. So instead I busted out the sander.

This was not one of my cleverer moments. No toes were lost in the making of this bedside table.

At first I thought the natural grain was pretty cool but then I realised it was looking at me. Creepy. 

A layer of undercoat was quickly applied.

The first bedside table was destined for Master F's room. He is a big fan of blue. Michelle helped devise a plan for the handles which were made by screwing hoops into the existing holes though which the rope was inserted and then knotted.

I wanted Miss K's bedside table to look completely different from Flynn's so I filled the existing draw handle holes and choose a different colour scheme. White on top, blue on the base and drilled new holes for the single central glass handles.

 I'm so pleased with them both and happily the kids love them. Apparently kids do like home-wares!

Crochet paper chain

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The crochet paper chain project is finished! Yay! However I'm pretty sure crochet paper chain wasn't on my 2017 project list was it? I need to go back and see how that list is coming along.

This project came about because I wanted something small to do to have a little break from the ripple blanket project, that would be easy to dip in and out of, and just like the bunting, it is intended as a donation for the handmade stall at our school fete in September. That may still seem like forever away, but it takes me a while to do things, plus we have to move house between now and then.

These photos were taken in Louise's ace photo taking spot when we went up to visit for a weekend.

The seed for this project was seeing SFMGS's crochet chain necklace, here.

And then as I was starting I saw a reference to Meet me at Mikes's post about crochet paper chain! I can't seem to find the actual post that I read first, it included a link to another paper chain project that was done granny square style, but as Pip said in that post, it's enough sometimes to see a picture of something to be inspired to go off and do things your own way.

I figured out what I wanted mine to look like, nice and flat (ok flat-ish) like proper paper chain, with each link a single colour, and after fiddling with so many cowls that had been worked in the round, it seemed logical to create these little colourful loops in the round too. It took me a couple of tries to find the tidiest method for me.

The Details

Now this isn't a pattern, because I don't know enough to write a pattern, but it will be a 'how I did it'.

I used Patons Cotton Blend yarn, in 7 colours to match ROYGBIV. Trust me, using orange was very difficult, as I loathe it so, but I managed. Because ROYGBIV.

I used a 4mm hook. I think this is a project where you want pretty tight stitches, so if your tension is a little loose, maybe go down half a hook size?

I created a chain of 40 stitches, joined the loop (you may want to experiment here to create a smooth join) and then double crochet (dc-UK or sc-US) into the back loop of each stitch until you complete your first round, then double crochet under both loops of each stitch until you have completed 6 rounds. At this point it can help to look up how to invisibly join, however I didn't find the tutorials I found much help, because they were for crocheting circles, not flat work in the round. I made my last stitch a slip stitch instead of a double crochet, which helped pull that step down a little. Careful with weaving in your ends that you don't just work back and forth near your start and end points, just that little bit more yarn can widen the appearance of your loop in that area. Spread out your weaving in ends away from your start and finish points. And then - here's the unexpected twist, I turn the loop inside out! You don't have to, but I prefer it that way.

By the end I was getting my start and end points pretty tidy!

It can feel a little awkward when you first work your second chain loop, because you have to join through your first finished paper chain loop. My tip is work in those ends as you go, every single time. It will make for less stuff going on in your hands!

Now that I'm done I love it, and think I may need to make some to keep. Maybe some rainbow for pulling out for birthdays, and metres and metres of the stuff for christmas. In white? Maybe white, pale grey, and some sparkly silver yarn, mmm lovely!
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