Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The Problem with Mods

I thought I was being clever, crafty even, for thinking that I could take a pattern and make a few modifications. It would all be fine. Nope, wrong! I cast on a simple cardigan, made a few mods while knitting the back; shortening the length and adjusting some shaping. I cast on the first front section and it was going fine until this happened:

Check out how the ribbing on the front section (on the right) is two rows longer than the ribbing on the back? And in Aran weight yarn two rows is the difference of a whole centimetre, not something you can easily hide or get away with. From this picture you can't exactly see but I'd almost knitted the whole front section before I noticed this stupid mistake. I wrestled with weather I should rip back or live with the mistake, but eventually did the next best thing and called my knitting guru Wendy, she'd know what to do. In her wisdom she suggested knitting a ribbed swatch, cutting through row two of the rib, picking up the live stitches and then casting them off.  I gave it a shot and it worked! 

As I'd practice on the swatch I was confident in getting stuck in with the actual garment but I'm not going to lie, cutting through my silk cotton stitches was not a pleasurable experience. Especially as I'm making all of the mods to ensure I have enough yarn to finish the project and this would potentially waste precious yarn. But it worked and now I have matching ribbing on the front and back sections. Thanks Wendy!

PS: While trying to take the 2nd photo someone decided to stand on my project. I let it slide, this time...

Monday, 28 January 2013


This is the Charlotte cardigan from Millamia Wonderland that I bought the pattern and yarn for over a year ago at Ally Pally 2011! I knew I wasn't going to have time to knit it immediately so bought enough yarn for the next size up form what Flo was wearing at the time. Thankfully she is a slip of a girl and so despite knitting this in size 2-3 and Flo being 3 years old in about a months time, this should still fit her for a while to come. Fingers crossed through next winter. 

Learning from my previous mistakes when knitting for Flo I'm glad this cardi is nice a long and so hopefully won't be looking like a crop top any time soon as her Starr cardigan did. I can also remove the belt loops and re-position or leave the off all together should I need to as her growing picks up speed.

The pattern for size 2-3 specified 6 balls but I needed to buy an extra ball to finish off the belt. There were also meant to be pockets but I decided not to make them - what do 2-3 year olds need pockets for anyway?

One of my main challenges with the project seems to have been getting Flo into the cardigan, to stand still and look presentable enough for me to take a picture of her wearing it. I had to bribe her to wear it and then ended up with just one, sort of useable shot above. All of the others were either of her back running away or something like the one below.

The Millamia yarns and patterns are just gorgeous and I recommend them to anyone. I especially love their colours which are so modern and wearable. They range from muted shades to eye popping colours and look so lovely on kids.

The last Millamia pattern I made before this was back in 2010 when I made the Emil babygrow. My, hasn't Flo grown?

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Yarn Play Time

It's going to be a while until Flo gets the hang of actually learning to knit. The best she can do at the moment is use my needles as drum sticks and drag yarn around the flat, unraveling it as she goes. However, while trailing Pintrest one day I found a nice activity which I felt made good use of my huge stash of crappy acrylic yarn and at least gets her involved in Mummy's hobby.

Pintrest is full of this kind of stuff and if you can get past the 'American Mom' tone of it all you can usually find some good activities for little ones. This one involves chopping up different lengths of your crappy yarn. I got Flo to wield the scissors and asked her if she wanted the lengths longer or shorter as we cut. I also got her to pick out the colours she wanted etc. It actually was a really fun bit of the activity despite not really being the main part of it.

We then mixed up some PVA with a bit of water and used our hands to slosh it about in a mixing bowl.  Then we dipped in and swished about the different yarns bit by bit and dangled them into a fairy cake tin. At the end I added a bit of undiluted PVA on top of each 'flower' of yarn, just to make sure they'd come out stiff enough. We left them to dry out for a couple of days, checking on progress with a poke here and there.

Once dry I thread them together on another piece of yarn and strung them up in the front room. You could also use them as rosettes, badges, gift tags, put them on top of pipe cleaners to make a bunch of flowers, the possibilities are endless.

Monday, 14 January 2013

The Kindness of Knitters

A few months back I blogged about the high street takes on knitted ceramics that I noticed popping up all over the place. Kathy, who is a fellow knitter and blogger from Houston, Texas, commented that the US store Target had another version and posted a link. I love to get comments, it reminds me that someone is reading! So this in itself made me happy. Then out of nowhere I get a package in the post. Wondering what I've ordered online and forgotten about, I opened it to find the very same vase with a note form Kathy. She found the vase on sale in Target and decided to buy it and sent it to me! I am totally bowled over by this random act of loveliness and so I want to sincerely thank Kathy. It really made my day/ week/ month to know that people can be so kind.

Also today I was updating my progress on the Charlotte Cardigan that I am making for Flo and realised that I have hit 100 projects in my Ravelry Notebook. It feels like there should be some kind of fanfare or party poppers going off but I shall just pat myself on the back instead and look forward to the next hundred.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Oops! Ally Pally 2012

I am slightly ashamed that it has taken me this long to get round to writing about this. I won't even try to make an excuse!

Ruth and Belinda
Mum and I made our way to Ally Pally back in October ready with our game plan, packed lunch and a limited amount of cash. As we made our way round we saw some old faces and met some new ones too. My favourite new face was Ruth and Belinda who I'd never come across before. Their original hand knit designs and kits were stunning. I think the fact that all the yarn and everything on their stall was cream meant that it really stood out for me. All of their yarn is undyed which means you can enjoy the fibre in it's natural colour or choose to dye it any colour you fancy. It certainly made for a stand out stall.

Dive right in!
The yarn dive at Black Sheet yarns was as always the most mental part of the day. Mum dove in and came up with 2 lots of baby yarn for the new additions to the family. I managed to restrain myself by thinking of what the Mr would say if I came back with another pack of 10 balls ready to stack on top of the mound of packs already stuffed into our bedroom storage. I've also been very good in the sales this year and haven't bought any yarn, despite going to both Liberty and John Lewis in the sales. Patting myself on the back for that.

All I came away with purchase wise was some cable needles, an off cut of Disney Tinkerbell print fabric, the advent calendar panel and the pop and slot nativity set by Clare Beaton.

Sue Walton creation
The fantastic student showcases and inspirational artists works dotted around as usual. Some of the quilts were breathtaking although I think my favourite showcase was the gorgeous table set out with crazy forks, chandeliers, cups and plates. I have since looked into the artist who made it, Sue Walton. The work is called Jabberwocky and she describes it as:
"A surreal tableau inspired by the vivid imagination of Lewis Carroll.  Sculptured felt combined with contrasting and diverse materials lead to bizarre and surprisingly unanticipated arrangements, where stylised flower forms represent the food and drink."
It's the artists like this that really inspire me at these shows and keep me coming back for more.

Unfinished jacket with needles still attached
Out in the Palm Court sat The Tales of the Unfinishable Extravaganza which was a tent made up of peoples unfinished projects, be they knitted, sewn, felted or any craft. It was something we can all relate to no matter what craft you prefer; sometimes you just never get round to finishing that project. It was fascinating walking in and around the tent reading and hearing the stories of each doomed project and how it had ended up as part of the tent. Some stories were sad, of death, loss and abandonment and others were funny, uplifting and thought provoking. My favourite tales were of those that have taken years to reach the tent. Many attempts to finish the project with it being handed from one person to the next in an attempt to complete it. Perhaps something are destined to remain unfinished?

A single cabled sleeve, some embroidery and patch work
It was a great show and of course I'll be heading back next year for more. Perhaps I'll have made more room for yarn by then.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

The End is Far

I have been walking past this crochet sign in Kingly Street for about a month now. It gets me thinking every morning about who made it, for what purpose and what it means.

Most mornings I like to think that it's an optimistic message; the end of the world is far away, enjoy life! But at the end of the day I tend to go with; Life is long and hard. This will go on and on, FOREVER!

I like the camouflage crochet background and the lettering. The lurid colours with the white joined up lettering really pops out at you. Plus I just really like neon pink. Very punk.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

You Mug!

As a last minute handmade gift this year I whipped up some simple crochet mug cosies for some needy people. By needy what I mean is that their hot beverage of choice is often in danger of becoming cold. HEAVENS FORBID! So I wanted to be their own personal hero and save their drinks from this evil.

I made one each for my two Sisters in law who have both recently had babies. Double Nephew whammy! Entering into parenthood they are not fully aware of the half finished cold cups of tea and coffee that await them, so I swooped in with the mug cosies and BAM, problem solved. One of the cosies (which is not in the above photo) was made with the same yarn I used to make my Nephew's squishy cardigan so when he wears his cardi and she has a hot drink they'll match! That's not odd right?

The other two were for my lovely friend Shan and her husband Marc who bought their first home together last year. Although it is a truly gorgeous house, it needs a lot, and I mean a lot of work done to it and so it can get a little chilly and even wet with all those leaks! So I thought some mug cosies were in order for them too. Nothing gets DIY done like a hot cup of tea.

The pattern was super simple and quick to make. The longest part of the process was choosing which fastening to sew on! You can find the free pattern by Marion Hassold on Ravelry here.

The photo above was taken in front of my well organised but now bulging collection of Knitting Magazine issues that my monthly column Purl About Town appears in. It's crazy to think that I've been in the magazine for so long and that they have chucked me out yet! In fact I have now been around for such a long time that I appear in their 'Meet the Team' of contributors on their website. Thanks Knitting Magazine!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

2012 Knitting Round Up.

Happy New Year to you all!

Last year I did a 2011 round up post, but I found the most telling part to be the list of knitting projects completed that year. So here's how 2012 looked Knitting project-wise:

I started out the year knitting some boobs
Completed a vintage crochet cap for a friend
Made a little top for myself
Spent a lot of time knitting a baby shawl (like 4 months!)
Then smashed out a jumper for Flo in 11 days
Some initialed washcloths for little people
A Ravellenics Ishbel scarf
A cute cardi for my first ever Nephew
Hat for my photographer and good friend
Baby dress for a yet to be born small person
Finishing it all off with a cardi for my second ever Nephew. Typical, you wait for ages for one and then 2 come along at once!

Looking back at this years list vs. last years I've actually matched the number of projects completed, which is nice. Interestingly both lists show that on average I am making one top for me, one blanket, at least two baby cardigans and at least one hat for a friend each year. I wonder if I'll match it again this year?

My 2013 knitting has got off to a great start with a Milla Mia cardigan for Flo flying off the needles. It must be that new year feeling spurring me on as I had no time for knitting over Christmas at all. Here's hoping I'm on a roll.

Bye bye 2012, it was fun. Hello 2013,