Life has been so busy this year! The weeks just fly by and before I have a chance to blink, we’re on to the next one. So I apologise for being so slack in my posts. I have a new job this year and it is very on and off and last minute and it’s taking some adjustment! However, in amongst the busyness of life, I am still creating and things are ticking away in the background.
I have continued with my sock experiments. With my first pair of socks, it was hard to judge the length of the foot for adding the toe, so I have ended up with one sock that is a tiny bit short (I’m sure it will stretch once I start wearing them – it’s been warm here and socks and flip flops are generally not a look I go for!). So, I decided that my next pair of socks would be toe up and knitted two at a time. I’ve taken both of my girls to the yarn store and they have chosen the yarn for their socks and have been told not to hold their breath for a quick finish!
I started with my older daughter’s socks. To make toe up, I needed to learn a new technique – Judy’s magic cast on http://knitty.com/ISSUEspring06/FEATmagiccaston.html. To be honest, I’m on my third sock doing this technique and I still don’t quite get it right unless I have the instructions close by, but I am getting there. I followed the instructions for two at a time socks but I just couldn’t get it to work – my tension was off and it was going to leave big holes in the toes. So, I decided to take it easy on myself and just do one at a time. That seems to have worked well, although I wasn’t able to avoid all of the counting of rows to have them the same, which was my aim. However, I have produced a lovely pair of socks that my daughter can’t wait to wear (she’s been told I have to photograph them before she can wear them!).
The yarn was another learning experience. I’m using Jawoll Mille “Luxe Sparkle” sock yarn. It doesn’t have a repeat of colours – anywhere! So, despite the fact that the socks come from the same ball of yarn, they are completely different! The colours are similar but they by no means match (for those that are conscious of wearing matching socks!). I like it, it’s quirky! And, I have lived for a long time with a man who refuses to wear matching socks! Yup, if he pulls matching socks out of the drawer, one goes back so he has an odd pair!
Toe up socks definitely worked well for getting the length of the foot part of the sock right, but it still hasn’t solved my problem of knowing how much I can knit of the leg before I need to switch to the cuff so I run out of yarn at the end of the sock and not before. If you have any clues on how to do this, please share! But for the moment my experiment continues. I’m now on my other daughter’s socks and she has decided she wants ones without heels at all, so another knitting experience is being added to my life!
As I’m sure you are aware by now, I love to challenge myself with my crochet and knit projects. I like to always be learning new things, trying different things and pushing myself to try harder things so I can grow and learn as a fibre artist. A while ago, I came across LillaBjorn’s Crochet. She has explored the world of overlay crochet – a term that was then unfamiliar to me. As you can see from the picture above, her designs have a lot of crochet that works back over what you have already done, creating a textured, 3d look with intricate detail. I loved it and have tried a small square that she has designed but when I saw this CAL for a bag (http://www.lillabjorncrochet.com/2016/08/peacock-tail-bag-cal-general-information.html), I knew I was going to make it! As I explained in a previous post the colours didn’t catch my eye, so I sat back and waited for awhile to see what colour combinations other people would come up with. When I saw these colours, I was sold!
It is an intricate and tricky design to follow and quite fiddly as you basically have to finish off each row and start again at the beginning for the next one. This, of course, means lots of ends to weave in. But, as I’ve learned over time, I try and weave them in as I go and then it is not an insurmountable task when I am finished! It was totally worth it though – I love the end result! It’s colourful and clever and interesting to look at.
I actually also went to the trouble of lining this bag. The instructions for the CAL include this part of the project. I’m not a huge sewer. I can do it if I put my mind to it but I’m certainly no seamstress but I was so happy with how this turned out! I even added a zip and it works! The final part was getting a strap for it. To be honest, we can buy handbag straps here, but they are very expensive and there is not a lot of choice in either style or colour. So, I went to my friend the internet and ordered a red strap to pick up on one of the colours in the bag. It was an anxious wait – as you know, colours can appear very different on screen to what they are in real life and red can be a tricky colour to match – it’s easy to get it a different shade and then it looks all wrong. But this time, I got it right. I was thrilled with the colour match when it arrived and it just finishes off the bag! I love how this bag looks and writing this post has reminded me that I need to use it! I think I spend all this time making things and then I don’t want to use them and get them dirty or ruined! However, then what would I be making them for??
Life has been crazy lately! Very crazy! I have a number of projects that I’ve completed and am keen to share with you all but photographing them and getting them on the blog just seems to be an insurmountable task. So today, I am going to look back to an older project. My youngest daughter is not your conventional girly girl. She loves blue, dinosaurs and teenage mutant ninja turtles! I decided that I wanted to make her her own turtle to cuddle and love. I searched the internet and found a great pattern by wolf dreamer ( http://www.wolfdreameroth.com/2011/03/tmnt-michaelangelo.html). It was the most realistic pattern I could find and I loved it. So I set about making it. It was fiddly, with lots of little bits and pieces and I despaired of ever finishing it but I kept going and ended up with this critter. She loved him!
I vowed I would never make another. I went back on that. My daughter has a little friend who is just like her. I made her the same one for her birthday. I vowed that was the last one. Uh uh. My oldest daughter was invited to a birthday party for one of the boys in her class. His favourite turtle was Leonardo, so I had to alter the pattern myself to create his swords but I did an admirable job. He too loved his turtle. His Mum told me later that he said he was going to keep it as an heirloom for his children! What a sweetheart! That one was my last but I’m pretty proud of how they turned out!
I think I have decided that I love making baby blankets! I make a lot. It’s probably because you can make something that really packs a punch, but it’s not so big that it becomes overwhelming or takes too long to make. Recently, a friend of mine announced that she was going to be a grandmother! I’ve had a bit to do with her daughter over a number of years and decided to make her a blanket. I had also seen this particular design (https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/stripe-blanket) and had had it simmering away in the back of my mind waiting until I found the perfect person to make it for. My opportunity had come. I sussed out the colours of the nursery (grey and white), added in a lemon yellow as the pattern required a third colour and got the yarn ordered. I made it using Stylecraft Special dk (yes, I know, I’m an addict. I just love this yarn, soft but washable and practical!).
It took a little while to get the hang of the pattern, but once that was firmly embedded in my brain, the blanket made up surprisingly quickly. As I had plenty of time to make it, I used it as my “take along” project, so it took longer than I was expecting to make, but at the same time, I only worked on it in small dribs and drabs. I had to adjust the pattern a little by adding a few extra repeats as the yarn called for in the pattern was a larger ply than the Stylecraft Special dk. I was also surprised by how “yarn efficient” this pattern was. I had to guess as to how much yarn I would need due to the ply difference and I was concerned it might be a yarn eater due to the solidness of it but I had so much yarn left over at the end that I could easily make another one!
I am thrilled with the finished piece. It looks so effective for something so simple and it was soothing to work on because of the repetitiveness of the pattern (it made a nice change from the more challenging projects I usually attempt!). I am definitely going to make another one of these, I’m just deciding on the colourway and who it might be for! I would recommend this pattern to you if you need to make up a baby blanket.
I have been knitting since I was a child when my Mum taught me (thanks Mum!). For many years, I have wanted to knit myself a pair of socks. I have even gone so far as to purchase a book about knitting socks and starting a pair but I was using 8 ply yarn (dk weight) and I could very quickly tell that it was going to be too bulky and not work so I put them down, never to be worked on again! In the last few years, the internet and my growing circle of like minded friends has exposed me to the possibility of purchasing sock yarn and has opened doors to where to buy it from. So, one of my intentions when on our great yarn buying trip last year was to buy some sock yarn. I settled on some Schachenmayr “Regia – color” in 4 ply. I bought two 100g balls because I have large feet (size 12) and was worried I wouldn’t get a full pair out of one (and Melbourne is a bit far away to pop in for another ball!).
This year, I have finally had a chance to try making them. I downloaded a pattern from the Schachenmayr website and began. I started them a couple of times because the first cuff didn’t look like it would be able to fit over my heel. So, I started again one size up and with my new KnitPro Zing double point needles in a 2.5mm (one size larger than I’d been using). This size was much better and I zoomed along until I was ready to begin the heel. It was here that I discovered my pattern was more guidelines and I couldn’t understand what it was directing. I admit, I nearly gave up. One of the knitting groups I attend is run by a lady with a lot of experience with sock knitting, so I thought I could put them on hold and ask her when our group resumes. But that felt too easy. I dug out my sock knitting book, and googled sock patterns and found a great one from Winwick Mum (http://www.winwickmum.co.uk/2014/05/basic-sock-pattern-and-tutorial.html). Between the two, I conquered those heels and was able to complete my sock! It was a big accomplishment! And here I wanted to take a break. Remember, I’m not good at focusing on one project for too long! Thankfully, one of my friends from my crochet group encouraged me to complete the second sock (thanks Laura!) and I have! And I’m glad I did. Although I made one straight after the other, I’m sure I did it slightly differently – I’m just thankful that they are the same. I think my next challenge will be making two socks at once so I know they’re exactly the same. And making them toe up – I was worried I’d run out of yarn and in the end I could have made them longer ( the top picture shows my remaining yarn!). Then, making socks for my girls, because they both really like them! I can see I have only just begun this journey into cozy toes!
Cancer sucks. Everyone agrees and I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t been touched by it in some way. This week it has touched our lives again. We attended the funeral of a friend whom it took and my aunt passed away after a long fight with it. It’s so frustrating to have a disease that is so prolific but we can’t yet fix. So, I decided to share with you my Connie’s ray of hope mandala (https://theloopystitch.com/the-loopy-stitch-cal/). This pattern was inspired by the passing of Actor Samuel Johnson’s sister, Connie. Together, they have raised millions to fund cancer research with their Love your sister campaign (http://www.loveyoursister.org/).
I saw this CAL last year but didn’t have time to try it. This year I have! And I had the perfect ball of yarn to use. It was one that I bought in Melbourne, that I didn’t have solid plans for – I just liked it. It’s a variegated cotton by Katia. I didn’t quite have enough to finish it, but I managed to find some purple in my stash that matched well enough! I loved working on this. It’s so pretty and made up really quickly and easily. This is the first time that I have attached anything to a wire frame. That part was a bit time consuming and the first couple of rows after that were a bit fiddle but I’m hooked! I definitely want to make more of these in a variety of yarns, colours and sizes to make a beautiful display on my wall!
I’m excited to share with you the first of my Christmas presents! My sister is a fan of Belle from Beauty and the Beast (this made things easier as I was a Little Mermaid fan, so there was no fighting!). I came across these Princess Dress Blankets (https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/princess-dress-blanket-yellow) and I wanted to make one for her for Christmas. As the yarn used is #4 weight, which is virtually impossible to get here, it took awhile to gather my supplies, but, finally, with the help of one of my American friends, I was able to get a contrasting gold that actually looked nice with the lemon and I was ready to begin. It still took a little while before I could bring myself to start it – it seemed like a fairly big project, thus time-consuming and I just didn’t have the heart for it. It eventually got to the point that if I didn’t get it started, I wasn’t going to get it finished for Christmas, so it was begun. I started it numerous times, trying to get the sizing right and the colour placement. I decided that I wanted to switch the colours up a bit from the original pattern so it was a more accurate match to the film. Once I had all that figured out, the bodice worked up really quickly and I was encouraged that this project may not be as time-consuming as I had feared. Then, I started the bodice. Although the pattern repeats to a certain degree, it was not one that was a smooth repeat that got stuck in my head and I could power on with. It was a fairly slow and laborious design that required a lot of concentration (a lot of frogging was involved!). There is a mistake in there somewhere. I can see it and, although it bothers me, I didn’t have the heart to frog back to it and fix it. My sister is not a crocheter, so I know it isn’t going to bother her! I read once in a book that mistakes make a piece unique – slightly different from all the others that people have made. I’m going with that, and mine is unique! Anyway, I finally finished it (the weather was warming up and I was glad to have it finished so I could concentrate on smaller things that were cooler to work on!) and I’m quite happy with the end result. My sister was pleased with her present – she’s just going to have to wait awhile before she can use it (the weather here has been in the high 30 – 40 degrees Celsius for the last week and there’s not much relief in sight!). P.S. the lady in the photo is not my sister! She is a friend who was gracious enough to be a model for me!
After completing last year’s projects, I had one of those “I just don’t know what to do” slumps in my crochet. I wandered around aimlessly looking at my yarn but not coming up with anything interesting to make that really inspired me. Thankfully, that slump has passed! I’ve already completed a few smaller projects that I am really looking forward to sharing with you – along with my Christmas projects. I’m off to a successful start for the year!
In amongst all that I have a friend whose daughter had her birthday on the weekend. It was early in the week when I had the thought that I had forgotten to buy a present. This friend is one of those rare people who TRULY appreciates hand-made items, so I thought that I might make something for her. The next question was what. I didn’t have much time before the party, so it needed to be quick but also effective and interesting. And then I remembered that I had seen these little critters by Lalylala (http://www.lalylala.com/). I am not a butterfly lover (I hear you gasping – it’s a childhood trauma thing!) but I have always loved the electric blue of Ulysses butterflies, so I settled on this one.
It was so much fun to make. It made up really quickly (so you felt you were getting somewhere) and the instructions were fairly easy to follow. The only part I struggled a little on was the edging of the wings (and that was down to my left-handedness) otherwise, it made up just as the pattern said!
The part I love about it is that the hat and the wings come off, so you can have a caterpillar that transforms into a butterfly (there is a pattern for a cocoon but I didn’t have time to make that as well!).
It’s such a sweet little thing and I’d definitely recommend her patterns! I also gave the wings a quick blocking, and I had to include this picture because it looked like a museum specimen laid out!