Friday 10 April 2015

FO: Vineyard Lace Gloves

I had a bit of a sad moment last week. We had our first LRP event of the year, and it was a particularly wet and muddy weekend. Naturally, this meant my kit was also incredibly wet and muddy when I got home. This isn't usually a problem, as I have been relatively sensible in buying and making costume for the events which is machine washable. Including the handknits.

About three years ago, I made a gorgeous pair of gloves to wear at events, which were suitably elven in design to fit with my character, but modern and warm enough to keep my hands properly warm in the sometimes sub-zero temperatures.

They were the leafy fingerless gloves and I made them from Knit Picks Palette in a lovely deep green shade called Ivy. I have worn these gloves at every event I've attended since (even the ones in midsummer, as it still gets cold in the evenings). I had no qualms about throwing them in the washing machine; they survived every time when I washed them in the machine in our old house. So when we came back from the last event, I didn't even really think about it when I chucked them in the brand new washing machine in our new house.

Which was a mistake. My beautiful gloves, that have served me so faithfully, are a shrunken felted mess.

After moping about for a bit about this self made disaster (this is the first time I've ever ruined anything I've made!) I decided that the only thing for it would be to knit a replacement pair. I've not got long until the next event, and while I've got speedier with my knitting since I made these, they took me four months last time and I only have a few weeks. So I went on the hunt for a new pattern, one that would knit up quickly.

That meant heavier yarn, and losing the fingers. But I wanted to keep the green, and the leaves. And of course, for the new gloves to be made from definitely machine washable yarn!

These fit the bill perfectly. The pattern is a free pattern, found here. The yarn I have used is Cascade 220 Superwash, in the Lichen colourway. So quick and easy to knit up, I made these gloves in two days over the Easter weekend. They are warm and comfortable, and most importantly, should be machine washable!

Sunday 5 April 2015

Year of Projects 4: 5th April update

The house move is almost over! Having a large crossover in occupancy between our two houses has been quite useful, but I think a month was too long, as we still haven't handed the keys back on the old place. Almost feels like we can't get started on living here properly until we've given the old house back! We've got the cleaners in today (on Easter Sunday! We were amazed) and one more trip to the tip to get rid of the last few bits and pieces. But then we are done.

Some of you may have seen this before, if you follow me on Instagram (@supertinks). But I wanted to share it again because quite frankly, I think it's gorgeous. Check out my front door!

It's just as lovely from the inside as well, when the light hits it in the mornings.

It makes me smile every time I come home, which has to be a good thing. Even if I've had a terrible day at work, or if I've been soaked by rain walking home from the station, I get to my front door and it cheers me up.

My new craft/sitting room is coming on nicely. It is finally clear of all the random stuff that doesn't belong in it, so I can share some pictures at last.

I have deliberately left the wall above the sofa bare of pictures for now, as I intend to finish my Doctor Who cross stitch patterns and get them framed, and then they will hang along that wall in lovely matching frames.

It is so nice to finally have all of my crafting things in the same place. I've sort of arranged everything on the shelves for now, but need to go through each shelf one by one and work out a proper way to store everything on it, so that I can see what is there and access it easily.

We are planning a trip to Ikea next week, so will hopefully be able to pick up a variety of useful boxes and baskets then. I may also look at getting a sewing table to put in the bay window, but that is not a priority necessarily as the dining table is in the room next door.

I doubt I'll get much done to progress my list over the next few weeks, as I will be focusing on making things to improve the storage and aesthetic of my room. I am also already casting my mind forward and thinking about a different way to approach the fifth year of projects, which is now only three months away!

Sunday 15 March 2015

Year of Projects 4: 15th March update

Not much of an update from me at the moment as we are in full on house moving mode and everything has been packed away! We are moving on Thursday this week, so every spare second I have is being used to pack and tidy and throw things away.

I have kept one of my projects unpacked, however, as on Wednesday evening we will be taking the cat over to the new house, and will have an evening without TV, Internet or packing to keep us entertained. I figured Pogona was portable enough that I could keep it out and entertain myself with it once the cat is settled in for the night.

One thing I have noticed while sorting the house for the move is that my craft supplies have expanded somewhat since we moved in two years ago. They're taking up a lot more boxes than last time! Luckily, in the new house I get to have a whole room all to myself, for keeping all of my craft supplies in one place. It will have a sofa, and has a working fireplace, so will be nice and cosy. Will share pics once I am moved in and unpacked!

Tuesday 24 February 2015

Year of Projects 4: 24 February update

I wasn't sure I was going to be able to rustle up another FO for this week's update, especially after the success of a pair of socks in a week last week. With the socks off the needles, the only YoP projects I had on the go were all long term affairs. Pogona is progressing well, but hasn't changed enough to be worthy of having more photos taken. My test knit of my Star Trek charts for my nerdy sofa cushions hasn't got to an interesting stage yet, consisting mostly of a large rectangle of black stocking stitch, so there's no pictures of that either. And Chunari is still hibernating, although I did briefly get it out and look at it the other day. I really do need to be in the right mood for laceweight knitting!

The other night, however, I decided to cast on something else from my queue, something which would hopefully be a nice quick knit. The Jayne Cobb hat. Unfortunately, I didn't have a circular needle of the right length, so I had to cast on with DPNs, which made for a very awkward knitting process and rather slow progress.

However, I went to Unravel at the weekend (where I spent a lovely couple of hours wandering about the place with Sarah from Crafts from the Cwtch and Wink of A Creative Being). I only made a few purchases (which completely blew my budget out of the water).

Among all the yarn pretties, you will have noticed a new cable for my interchangeable needles. I now have a 16" cable, which means knitting hats of any size just became a whole lot easier! As soon as I got home, I fixed up the cable with my 7mm needles, and transferred the stitches across. Needless to say, the hat got knit a whole lot quicker after that!

More on the hat in a moment while I digress slightly to talk about the yarns I purchased. Despite not having yet knit a single stitch on the three Easyknits skeins I already own, I picked up two more. The first was definitely on my list of things to buy, a sushi sock roll to knit Jon's Orbit shawl with. I bought the pattern at Unravel last year, and have been holding off knitting it until I had the perfect gradiated skein of yarn to use. I spent a long time debating colours, but settled on Killer Queen, which is a gorgeous combination of electric blue, purple and pink. Of course, I spent so long at Jon's stand that I couldn't help myself, and another skein of Deeply Wicked sort of fell into my hands as well. Another electric blue, as I've grown fond of the colour since knitting my Arctic socks last week!

The third skein I picked up is something I've been wanting to get my hands on for a while. Indigodragonfly yarns have been on my want list for many years, and it's all Keri's fault. I've been reading about all the indigodragonfly yarns she uses for years, and long lamented its lack of availability in this country. But at Unravel last year I discovered that Aragon Yarns are the only UK stockist of this gorgeous yarn, so when I saw their name on the exhibitor list again this year I decided I was definitely going to walk away from the show with something. Not only is the yarn gorgeously soft (it's merino/cashmere/nylon - way too nice for socks if you ask me, I shall be using it for a shawl) and dyed in fantastic colours, it's the names of the colourways which really makes this yarn stand out. Each colour is named after a fabulously geeky quote. The colour I chose is My name is Indigo Montoya, which is a play on words on a quote from The Princess Bride. I'm not adding any of these yarns to my list this year, but I guarantee you that when July rolls around this year, this skein will be top of my list!

Anyhoo, back to my FO for the week. Once I'd switched to the circulars, I flew through the rest of the hat and finished it on Sunday morning.

I made a few modifications to the pattern as written, because I was working with a chunkier yarn and Jamie has a big head. I cast on 64 stitches, did 2x2 rib instead of 1x1 (mainly because I hate doing 1x1), and made the whole thing longer. It's got about 4 inches of orange after the inch of rib, and then 4 inches of yellow before the very sharp decreases. I also added a couple of rows of icord on the ear flaps before casting off.

Jamie claimed it didn't need a pom pom, but I wanted to stay true to the original hat as seen in Firefly. So he got a red and orange pom pom, but it's not particularly bulky. I'm pleased with the finished hat, and he loves it too. And more importantly, I can cross another FO off my list!

Friday 20 February 2015

Project bags

As mentioned previously I have been doing a lot of sewing lately. One of the things I have been making is project bags for my knitting and crochet projects. I usually have so many WIPs on the go, and they tend to be chucked in baskets or left lying around on the sofa, to become comfy beds for the cat. So making sure each one has a home when I'm not working on it is important.

It started out rather innocently, to be fair. I found a pattern, bought a couple of fat quarters on eBay because I liked the patterns, and chose lining fabric from my leftovers of coloured cotton from the shield banner I'd made earlier in the year.

The pattern is the No Guts Boxie Pouch and it is so simple and quick to make. I didn't use interfacing in my first attempt, as the fabric is a fairly sturdy cotton to begin with. I just love the cats and yarn print!

The second fat quarter was owls. I think, on reflection, these owls are a little too big for this size of project, but what I love about this one is the bright blue fabric I used for the lining. Sadly, I don't appear to have taken a picture of it! But it matches the very bright blue you can see in the owls.

It kind of set me off on a road, though, as I found myself buying fat quarter bundles in Fabric Land and Hobbycraft, and a selection of contrasting zips from eBay...

I now have nine more bags I can make! I am going to experiment with some other patterns, and not make 9 more identical bags. But most of them will be of a similar style I think. I found a set of fat quarters featuring slightly smaller owls so hopefully they will look more sensible on a small project like these bags.

Wednesday 18 February 2015

Great Ideas, Cunning Plans

It's no secret that I love stationery. My husband knows this well, and so every Christmas I get something interesting in my stocking. This year was no exception, as I got the Happy Jackson notebook you see above, as well as quite possibly the coolest gadget I have ever owned - an electric pencil sharpener! I spent a good portion of Christmas Day/Boxing Day sat cross legged on my living room floor, merrily sharpening all of my coloured pencils.

I decided straight away that I would indeed use this notebook to keep track of my ideas and plans, so it has become my place for noting down ideas for patterns, new ways to organise my craft spaces etc. I've been going a bit crazy on Pinterest of late, particularly my Sewing board. I was looking for a pattern for a DPN roll, and an interchangeable needle roll, and nothing I found was quite right. So, I picked tutorials which were roughly what I was after, and got out my notebook and pencil to sketch out my cunning plans.

I started with the DPN roll, as that seemed the more straightforward of the two. I had picked up a gorgeous set of fat quarters while shopping for fabric for costumes, and decided straight away that this was the project to use it in.

I have three different height pockets, so there is space for the longest, shortest and inbetweenist needles in my collection.

The only thing I forgot to do was add the ribbon to tie it shut before I did my side seam! I'm not too bothered, as the weight of the needles inside holds it shut when it's rolled up and sitting on the shelf with the rest of my needles. This roll has more space in it than the one I was using previously, which had been a free gift in a magazine, and is now being used to house my straight needles.

The interchangeable needle case was a little trickier. I looked at tutorial after tutorial, and in the end decided I would just have to decide exactly what I needed my roll to be, and figure it out myself. And that is exactly what I did.

The new and exciting technique used for this project was piping. I'd never done piping before, but happened to have a load of left over black bias binding and some old string kicking about from previous projects. I found a tutorial on Pinterest and just cracked on with it. The end result is, I am pleased to say, not that bad. The bit where the piping crosses over itself and dives into the seam is hidden by the ribbon when the roll is done up.

Inside, there are pockets for each pair of needles I got with my set of Knit Pro interchangeable needles, three pockets for the three different lengths of cable and a closeable pocked which houses the tightening keys and cable ends. So much nicer than the clear plastic case that came with the set!

I have to say, now that I have the space to sew, I am remembering how much I love doing it! And all of the non-clothing projects I have done so far have been so quick and easy, with brilliant results. I am also already developing something of a fat quarter habit, which is dangerous!

Monday 16 February 2015

Year of Projects 4: 16th February update

A day late with an update this week, but I couldn't not stop by and share my sock progress! Last week I shared a photo of my red and white stripey socks, and I am pleased to report that I actually finished them later on that day.

Buoyed by my socky success, I immediately wound another skein of sock yarn and cast on another pair of socks. This time using a skein of Candy Skein yarn I bought back in January 2012. It's the sock club colourway from that month, Arctic Mint. If memory serves, this was one of the earliest sock club colours that Tami did.

I took the above picture yesterday morning, in preparation for writing a post then about how amazed I was that I'd knit a sock and a half in a week. However, the rugby kicked off before I managed to get the photos onto the computer, and by the time the game was over...

I knit a pair of socks in a week! I'm so pleased with myself. The pattern is Bandwagon Socks by Phreadde Davis, which is more of a recipe for the socks than a pattern per se, as most of the elements for the pattern come from other patterns. So I didn't feel so bad about making my own modifications.

First up, I have tried and failed on numerous occasions to get to grips with Judy's magic cast on, and therefore replaced the toe with my now standard short row toe. Second, I looked at the instructions in the pattern for the toe up gusseted heel, but didn't feel confident enough about them to try to follow them. So I stuck with what I know, and substituted a short row heel as well.

The rest then became second nature, as I know exactly how many rows I need to knit for the foot to fit me, when I've got fingering weight yarn, 2.5mm needles and have cast on for 64 stitches! The only other modification I made was to adjust where in the chart I started when I got to the second sock, as I wanted them to be matching. So I started the chart halfway through on foot 2, so that when I wore the socks the zig zag of the yarn overs would be mirror opposites.

I'm incredibly pleased with these socks, and the surprising realisation that it was actually quicker to knit patterned socks than it was to knit plain ones! I plan to wear them to Unravel on Saturday, if I make it.
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