Tuesday, 26 January 2016

9

It's the bean's birthday! Happy Birthday to you, sunshine. 



My how you've grown!

  


Friday, 22 January 2016

Comfort knitting

It's cold out, and grey and damp (we had some snow for a day or two, but now it's gone), and I need something to sustain myself through these short January days. So I've got me a bit of comfort knitting, it's very plain and simple. 





I'm going round and round on a circular needle, with 100g of sock yarn. It's meditative and sort of slow, because you can't see it growing.  Before you ask, it's that famous brand can't remember, in the colourway no idea. 

I'm knitting a loooong tube  - and will just keep going until I run out of yarn (I weighed things this morning, there was still 46g of yarn left in the ball). When I do run out, I'll graft the two ends of the tube together to make a soft and purpley cowl. Yum. 

 

Monday, 18 January 2016

Mending Monday 2016 #1

Hello chaps.

The new year has heightened my desire to mend stuff. Or, maybe it's just that I'm in tidying up mode and have been sorting things out like a demon. Anywayz, sometime in the Christmas melee, I got my sock needlez out and rummaged in the darkest corners of my knitting bag for a pair of socks that needed repairz. 

(Sorry about the z thing, I'll stop now. Promize)



Here they are in all their newly knitted glory sometime ago (2011 I think!). But they were getting dangerously thin on the ball of the foot, and needed some repairs. Of course, I decided not to darn the darn things, but rather to reknit a goodly portion of the foot.

I chose the spot, snipped a single stitch and then carefully picked up the live stitches with my needles.



As the original socks are striped using two yarns, I picked out two sympathetic yarn colours from the stash and got to work. They aren't a perfect match, but hey, these dudes will be on my feet and unless I am at home, they will be inside my shoes and Noone Will Ever Know.  Okay? 

This time I alternated the colours stitch by stitch rather than round by round to give a thicker and more durable fabric. I did this before with my socksperimental socks
and the man socks with a squidgy toe. Scientists have not yet reported on the outcomes of these important sock trials; an independent commission has been established to examine the reasons for the non-reporting. It is expected that resignations will follow. 

Where was I? Oh yes, re-socking: a surpisingly short time later (silent witness anyone?) the blighters were done and on my feet.  Hurrah for mending. Hurrah for hand-knitted socks. Hurrah for extensive sock yarn collections. Hurrah for me! 





Ahem. 

My reward for mending these socks is to make myself a cowlowlowlowl. Not sure about the pattern yet, but have picked out the yarn...




Friday, 15 January 2016

Bag Lady (FO)

Christmas was a bit of a crafting disaster this year.  I don't think any of the craft projects I planned actually came to anything, so the only things that got made were fudge and peppermint bark (which were both excellent by the way).

No-one noticed about the crafty stuff. 

Sniff.

Even if I didn't finish anything in time for Christmas, I did start a few things, and one afternoon -  before the big day - I cut out a wee pile of these fat-quarter shopping bags. I was given some fat quarters by my MIL a year or two back, and this seemed like a perfect project for those particular bits of fabric. 

Last week I summoned up the effort to get the sewing machine out and start stitching. For something so simple, there seemed to be a lot of sewing to do, and it took me two whole evenings to progress from a pile of fabric shapes to three finished bags!

Let's just go through the details then. These bags have a handle facing, which is finished at the raw edge (2 seams), attached to the bag fabric (6 seams), then joined at the handles (2 seams), and top stitched (3 seams). After that the sides and bottom of the bag are finished with French seams (6 seams) and the corners bagged out, again with French seams (4 seams). 

Add to that pressing, turning inside/outside and pinning (where required). All together it's a lot of small seams to stitch and restitch, and takes a bit of time. A 20 minute tote this ain't. 

Sigh.

I  cut out 4 bags, but because I am very stupid a design visionary, on the first one I omitted to place the fold of the pattern piece on the fold of the fabric and ended up with some different shaped pieces. I decided to leave my hacked version to last, and made up the other three as per the instructions. 

I say that as if I followed the instructions to the letter, but I didn't. We'll just gloss over the other mistake I made with the French seams shall we, oh, and the fact that I completely forgot about the elastic loops too? Ye-es. 




So, here they are: three pretty cute bags. 





The flowery ones have been sent off to live with my parents. The green one is for my brother, and should soon be joined by the design hacked alter-ego version (when I get off my a*se to sew it up, ahem). 

So, my overall verdict: a nice project to do if you don't mind spending a bit of time sewing seams, and you have some fat quarters to 'use' up. Things might go a bit quicker with the overlocker perhaps, so I might try that for bag four.  (I did pink all my raw edges, just because). 

I like the integral handles and the handle facing - because, well I might be over those webbing or self-fabric handles that most shopping bags have and which inevitably break/wear through. 

I guess the bottom will fall out of these first...
















Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Stash. Bust.


Howdy folks. 

Some kind of crazy tidying and organising bug got me over the holidays, and even before the New Year bells rang, I began whittling away at the accumulations of things around me, those little drifts of stuff that collect here and there, in a drawer, on a window ledge, above a fire. Then when the rain stopped long enough for me to sprint across the garden to the shed, I tackled a stash. 

[Side note: not The stash, but A stash - more specifically my stash of yarn.]

Last year, we remodelled our bedroom and substituted a gargantuan built-in wardrobe for something slightly smaller. While all of that was happening, my stash of yarn - organised into 4 clear plastic boxes - was sent to the shed to await repatriation. Over the summer my knitting mojo has been fairly elusive and not much has happened (see this if you don't believe me), but with Christmas and all, I picked up my needles again and the mojo was back. 

Kondo's approach to tidying/decluttering is to discard first and then organise. She advocates gathering things into one place, and handling everything as you decide whether to keep or not. Her test involves asking yourself if something gives you joy. For the stash I used a 'do I want to knit with this?' test. 

It was surprisingly easy to part with a lot of stuff: novelty bobbly yarns; squeaky acrylic; single balls of chunky yarn; half a pack of green wool yarn - I used the other half to knit a nice cardigan, but couldn't imagine making anything else in that colour; a whole pile of slubbed cotton yarn in bright pink, and something similar in black which I've had since the 1990s, Habu paper yarn which I've had for about 5 years but never worked out what I would do with...

I also let go of two very lovely handknit Aran sweaters that my maternal grandmother made. They were made for my dad, and I have had them for at least 10 years. I tried them on (again). They still made me look like a lumpy sausage. My husband tried them on too. They made him look like a badly dressed schoolboy, wearing a too small hand me down. I hope they find good new homes with people that they fit.  

Other things were definitely on the keep pile - all of my nice hand dyed sock yarn, and plain 4 ply for baby things, small piles of nice DK yarn, some odds and ends of mohair, and some cones of grey and teal yarn that I have distant plans for. I managed to hunt out all the little project bags concealed around the house and gather them together. 

The end result was a big pile of things 

To 

Go

Away.



We donated it to a local charity shop later that day (the Bethany Shop next to Summerhall in case you are interested). 

And, the rest of the yarn was organised into 2 clear plastic boxes, and stowed without drama in the wardrobe. Tada! 




One box is mostly DK or heavier weight yarn, and the other is 4 ply, sock yarn, lace weight and other special skeins. 

It's nice having my yarn nearby again, so I can squish it whenever I want. It feels like a good to be clearing out and clarifying like this. 

My next target is books, and then after that I will have to take on 

the 
fabric 
stash. 

Cue scary music.  






Saturday, 9 January 2016

2016: making stuff happen

The theme for this year is making stuff happen. It's easy to make plans, but this year is about really doing it.

There are a few big things that we are trying to do which will affect the whole family (to do with where we live), and there are lots of crafty goals too.

This is the crafty list (believe me, you don't want to see the Other List - it's very long and very dull):

1. Tame the stashes (yarn and fabric, oh and patterns and craft books)
Progress: The yarn stash has already been halved; fabric is up next...

2. Use the stash!
Progress: one knitted WIP

3. Make some things to fill gaps in my wardrobe: 2 jersey skirts for work, one black, one blue; make a cowl and a new hat; use some of the jersey in the stash to make some tops for work.
Progress: pattern for skirt ordered.

4. Finish the UFOs
Progress: currently working on some sock repairs and some sewing that was cut out before Christmas but not completed.

5. Continue to work on mending,  exploring different techniques and making mending a social thing too by doing it with friends.
Progress: have invited a friend to come over for a mending session after she complained about holes in the knees of her son's trousers.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Scrap Hat Recipe (free pattern for a stashbusting hat)

Dearest knitters, verily I say unto you, 'tis the season for elving. And, because of that I thought I would share my recipe for my scrap hats. This is not really a pattern - it has not been tested by test knitters, or tech-edited or checked for mistakes - it's just a loose set of instructions. The extra bonus is that you don't need to buy any yarn for this, just use your scraps!!


Size
This is a one-size hat for a man or woman. Actual hat size is in the region of 58cm. 

Yarn
You will need approximately 75g of double knit yarn in colours of your choosing. I find it easiest to group together like colours (e.g. shades of blue, or shades of green) with one or two contrasting colours for interest. If you want to add a knitted lining, you will need more yarn. I usually make my linings in one colour - just choose something that will be comfortable to wear next to the skin. 

As the hat is textured, it is also possible to include heavier and lighter yarns.  I find knitting with 2 strands of 4 ply yarn works well, although one strand can be tolerated in small doses. Chunky or aran weight yarns can be similarly tolerated in small doses.



Gauge
something like 18 stitches to 10cm worked in st st in the round on 3.75mm needles.

Instructions
Cast on 100 stitches using a 3.75mm circular needle (or DPNs) and using DK yarn. If I do add on a few stitches for a bigger hat/head then I make sure I use a multiple of 4 - just to make working out the decreases a lot easier!

Knit until work measures 5 cm. This will make the roll up brim of the hat.

On the next round begin your first purl band, and purl for at least 2 rounds. 

Knit a few rounds, and then purl again as your fancy takes you.

Continue to alternate between knit bands and purl bands. I tend to make my purl bands between one round and 3 rounds and my knit bands a bit more than that. I don’t count the rounds between bands, but alternate by eye.

Change colour whenever you feel the urge or your current scrap of yarn comes to an end. Since the whole point of this hat is to use up yarn then there is no need to count stitches, rounds or master the jogless join.  When changing colours you can either employ your usual yarn joining technique and weaving in ends as you go or do what I do and knit the old yarn with the new yarn for a few stitches. This might be seen as slovenly, but in a project like this perfection is not necessary and I like the variegation you get when you knit two yarns together. Do what you have to…

Continue until the work measures approximately 18cm finishing with a purl band of 3 rounds (roughly).

On the next knit round, begin to shape the crown as follows:
*k2tog tbl, k21, k2tog , rep from * until end.
Next alt round: *k2 tog tbl, K19, k2tog rep from * until end.
Next  altround: *k2 tog tbl, k17, k2 tog rep from * until end.

Keeping pattern correct, work crown decreases until…

For a flat topped hat suitable for a bobble
… only 8 stitches remain, then break yarn, run tail through stitches and pull tight, sewing in end firmly to secure the top of the hat. A bobble if desired.

For a hat with a stalk
… work until 4 stitches remain then knit a few cm of i-cord before casting off. I like to tie a knot in my i-cord stalks, so I normally make the stalk about 10cm or so.

For a hat with a tassle,
… work crown decreases until only 2 stitches remain then work 15cm of i-cord, cast off and attach a suitable tassel to the end of your i-cord.

Weave in ends, wash hat gently, shape and dry.

If you want to add a knitted lining, then it's fairly straightforward: pick up stitches inside the brim of the hat. The round where the outer hat changes from stocking stitch to reverse stocking stitch provides a useful place to pick up these inner stitches. Knit the lining using your preferred rib pattern - I use either 2x2 rib or 2x1 rib, just depending on my mood. Knit until the lining reaches the start of the crown shaping on the outer hat, then work crown decreases. I usually work these as follows:

round 1: *knit 2bl, knit 8 , repeat from * to end.
round 2: work in pattern
round 3: *knit 2tbl, knit 7, repeat from * to end. 
round 4: work in pattern..

Keep this going until you have only 3 stitches between decreases, then decrease every round. when there are only 8 or so stitches left, then break yarn, pull through and close up. It should look something like this.... 



Happy knitting folks! I'd love to hear about any scrap hats that you make....