Very occasionally crafting

elephant

Wow. I didn’t expect it to be April before I got around to posting here. I also didn’t expect to have so little to show! Looking back at the very few photos I’ve taken, this wee elephant got her face on 4th January, and then her trousers on the 18th. I finished her jumper on 12th April, and gifted her on 13th. So it’s been quite slow in terms of making anything around here.

I made her for my Physio. (I have a bad back, my Physio is amazing. She got me from not being able to stand to actually walking when I slipped 2 discs at the same time a few years ago.) I almost didn’t hand her over, because while my Physio is wonderful she’s also kinda no-nonsense. I thought she might think it was a bit weird — although we had been discussing knitting previously. But then I thought, well, she has a niece, she could always regift.

Anyway. I’m so glad I did. She was so pleased – and hilariously said she wasn’t even going to show her niece incase she wanted the the elephant for herself!

So that was lovely. And her happiness made my week. (It didn’t make her go easy on my back though. Goddamn that woman has fingers of steel.)

So anyway, work has rather taken over. By the time I’ve had a free evening or Saturday I’ve either been too tired, or there’s been something else that needed dealing with. I’m really hoping that this will calm down soon.

The plan now is also to try and make time for myself. Although I said that a week ago and there’s been no luck so far. Next week I’m travelling for work, so it’s out then too. But sometime soon.

So fingers crossed. Now I’ve posted hopefully I’ll be back soon with something more than backache to show for myself!

As predicted…

bunny_1

I’m really not feeling that great. I’ve been waking up around 4am every night for the last seven days with coughing fits. It’s getting really wearing. I’m kind of ok in the day, just this ridiculous chest cough at night. It’s steadfastly refusing to turn into something more, (like a proper cold) and just wearing me down bit by bit. Really tedious.

Anyway. That coupled with general ‘fear of starting a proper project’ and ‘oh my god, how did you end up with so much yarn?’ made me think I should take it easy yesterday and use up some more of the orange.

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Actually when you pair this orange with white, it’s nowhere near as horrible. If you pair it with anything else it’s either too milky (It’s Rowan Wool Cotton – they’re all kind of milky) or just too… orange. Perils of buying yarn online I think.

I made this bunny’s head last year but wasn’t thrilled with it. Yesterday I thought ‘use up more yarn! Do something easy, lazy and finish-able!’ And so I decided to finish this off. It is, of course, a Little Cotton Rabbits pattern. I have a feeling it might be one of the first ones that Julie (the designer) made available.

While I was knitting it, I thought many things, mostly:
• Oh my god, what have you become? You’re knitting an egg cosy. Are you like, 90?
• Umm, are you sure this is going to actually fit an egg? You know you knit really tightly,right?
• Friend [X] keeps chickens and has 2 which produce tiny eggs. You can give this to her! It’ll be O.K.
• Damn it! How is it even possible we have no eggs in the fridge?

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At 4.45am this morning I thought I should just get up, because lying down really wasn’t cutting it. As I made some honey and lemon what did I see in the fridge?! We did have eggs after all!

I did a little photoshoot there and then. It does it fit, just about – and you know what? I love it. It’s ridiculous, but I love it. I might even make another one. It’s really cheered me up.

 

Another catch up!

tatting_red

Sooooo… it’s been ages. I keep wanting to write something and then also wanting to spend my spare time as far away from the computer as possible. But I decided to bite the bullet – which also means on 23 Jan 2017 (which is my time zone, but clearly not WordPresses!), I get to wish anyone who is still out there a very happy new year!

This is a whirlwind tour of general stuff to get me back into the habit of posting again. Above is a little motif I made just before Christmas. I had some red thread already on a shuttle waiting to be used up. I didn’t like this thread originally (the pink really is pink) but it’s grown on me at last.

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This is a Scandinavian Santa (Ravelry link) that I made before Christmas. Actually, for me personally he’s harder than he looks! I’m not great at intarsia, but I really like him. I made a tiny alteration to the pattern in that I continued the top of his head as an icord and carried it over to make a hook. I like it. I did not like the one I made in red acrylic and ironed though. Especially not after he melted. Ahem.

roxy

After Christmas some friends and I went away for New Year. It’s become a tradition to get together, watch films, eat nice food and play board games for a few days. To get away from the world, relax and not worry about the horror that is new years eve and have to work out where on earth we’re supposed to go for the best time EVER. There’s a weird pressure for NYE and this takes it all away.

I think I really needed the break this year. I really relaxed and enjoyed every minute of it. I can’t say I didn’t check work emails, but I left the responses that were longer than a few lines until I got home.

cinema

The place we rented was amazing. It had its own private cinema! Above is a picture of the bar and above that the entrance to the cinema. It’s actually open to the public as a not-for-profit cinema at certain times of the year, but when it’s not in use, guests at the house can use it.

library

And this is a slight panoramic view of the library. It’s actually not original – all put in by the current owners, but it was such a lovely room. A proper mix of old and new books (which looked like they’d been bought to be read, not for show) and a comfy sofa and chairs. I snuck in there late at night for a bit of quiet time on my own and did a little knitting…

aran

Little being the operative word. I made this jumper (above) as I have one bunny that is still waiting to be clothed. (Ravelry link for the pattern.)

blue_bunny

And FINALLY this one has been gifted. I finished her late last year but only got to give her to her rightful owner last week. She’s a wedding gift to an old school friend. She got married last summer, with dyed blue hair, wearing a studded leather jacket and carrying a Lulu Guinness disco ball handbag. Admittedly her handbag was a little more sophisticated than the bunny’s but you can’t have everything. She has a little skull bead on the front go her dress as my friend’s engagement ring has a skull either side. She was very well received and I believe is happy in her new home! (Incase you don’t know the bunny pattern is Little Cotton Rabbits.)

cable

I received Norah Gaughan‘s Knitted Cable Sourcebook for Christmas (it’s really nice). This is my first attempt at a scarf using one of the cable patterns. As it happens, the cable was fine – it’s really not a hard repeat even though it looks a little complicated. I hate the edges though. Also this isn’t wool so I don’t think any sense can be blocked/knocked into it. It’s half frogged as I type. I’ll come up with a better plan for the edges, and do a basic panel either side, I think. Just needs 10 minutes of concentration to come up with a proper plan.

colours

I took this photo over new year, because I really like the colours. It’s one of the first times I’ve had a photo in the back of my mind when deciding what to do with my tatting:

beaded

I know – not the same but sometimes you have to work with what you’ve got! The photo inspired me to pick the black beads for the centre, and actually I think they work quite well… even if I do say so myself.

So there we are. All caught up… Ah, except for one thing. Remember my first Little Cotton Rabbit? The one I couldn’t quite part with? He’s finally found a new home. Gone to live with a little girl who needed a bit of friendly company. He’s been named. She’s called him Starlight 🙂

Happy new year. I think we’re all in for a bumpy ride, but we can get through it together, right?

Rabbit round-up (and elephants too)

Well, here we are, back again in an Autumnal England. The colours are beautiful and it’s freezing cold! I left Athens one week and one day ago and I’ve had a raging cold ever since. Hopefully that will go in the next few days, as I think tissue demand is higher supply and if this continues, the end won’t be pretty.

Athens was a brilliant adventure. Hard work, but amazing to be able to live another life for a while. I was only supposed to go for three months, but decided to stay for eight. We travelled around when we could (which wasn’t quite as much as I’d’ve liked), and explored the Peloponnese, Crete, Deplhi and finally the Metéora. The Metérora monasteries might be one of my favourite places to explore. Breathtakingly beautiful. The weather was a little crazy when we were there (we literally had our head in the clouds at times) but it was magical none-the-less. This photo, taken on an iPhone, doesn’t really do it justice, but I’ll share anyway…

meteora_1

I also had a lot of time to myself in Athens. The Mister is a freelancer and so was sometimes able to visit for a few weeks, an other times he had to head back home (or to Germany where his work sometimes takes him). Before I went I took my first steps into trying out the patterns by Little Cotton Rabbits. Actually they’re the perfect thing to take away… I ended up making rather a lot.

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This is an in-progress shot, taken on the mustardy-coloured leather sofa in the front room in Athens and these two are the end result, taken on our pink window sill:

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The one on the left should be going to a new home later this week. The one on the right was gifted to my mum on a quick visit back in the summer.

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This little lady had three different dresses, before finally settling back with the first one. After the addition of a cardigan it seemed the original suited her best after all, and she’s also gone to a new home.

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This one (mentioned in my previous post) was just a head for quite some time. She has a piebald patch, made with intarsia. Its not the neatest knitting, but she’s got such a kind face when you see her in real life it seemed a bit mean not to give her a body! As she’s not the neatest bunny she’s staying with me for a while, until I can find someone who loves her just as she is, imperfections and all.

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This little fella is exactly that. Little. I made him on 2.75 needles, rather than 3 and it made quite a difference somehow. He’s really compact and petite! I like him a lot, and he is waiting to be gifted to a gentleman at xmas. I think his jumper is the neatest I’ve ever made. I sort of made him as I wanted to make a brown elephant, rather than a grey one and actually I think the colour works quite nicely.

And talking of colour…

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This wee chap is also made on 2.75 needles as a bit of an experiment. I did actually buy this colour with the idea of making a blue bunny or elephant but thought that despite the yarn being technically the same size as the brown, it felt a lot thicker. In the end I decided to try it anyway and I like it. I know the jumper doesn’t suit him, I’ll make him a cream one I think, but I think blue is a good colour for a bunny!

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And talking of the jumper, I really enjoyed making this! It’s another Little Cotton Rabbits pattern. This is my first real venture in to cable knitting and I have a feeling that I like cables more than colour work. I’m going to make another one to test that theory but I think this is more successful than my colour work so far… time will tell. (I get really annoyed by the tightness of colour work, no matter how hard I try to keep it loose.)

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I think this could be the colour work I’m suited to best! It’s for a tiny xmas stocking—rather embarrassingly it’s yet another pattern by Little Cotton Rabbits, but this one is free. You see, once you have the yarn and the needles, you can make all kinds of things…

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This elephant was made as knitting therapy before I went and kept me company throughout. I love her to bits actually.

Now I’m back I have one more bunny to make, and then I’ll try moving on to something new. Maybe finally a human-sized jumper or something? I’ve loved making these though, they’ve been everything I needed. Complex enough, relaxing enough and delightful enough. They’ve kept me interested and motivated and given my head a little space when I needed it most. There’s a lot to be said for knitting as therapy so thank you to my Nan for teaching my Mum, and my Mum for teaching me (even though she’d rather be doing embroidery herself ;o)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stress knitting

cardigan_1

There’s a lot going on at work at the moment, which I’ll probably talk about another time. Loads to think about and various different things that need to get done, both here and in other countries. So, I have made FULL use of the fact that knitting is a relaxing pastime! It’s nice to have something to focus on that keeps your brain still for a couple of rows at a time.

dpns

Over this week I’ve been making the cardigan (from this pattern). This is actually the second version—the first one was a kind of yellow (although I’m not 100% sure if it’s a good yellow) and a bit fluffy, despite being the same brand / size / make as the blue wool in this pic. I knitted the body on 3mm needles and it was a bit big. It looked like a padded life jacket to be honest, so I frogged it and started again.

This was on 2.5mm straights and these *lethal* looking 2.75 dpns. I kind of love these needles for the fact they’re just pointy metal sticks (no frills, no details), but honestly, they could have your eye out.

cardigan_2

Its a very cute little cardigan. A little fiddly – I’ve not really knitted anything quite like this before, as the jumpers are constructed in a different way. I do understand why people like knitting top down jumpers now though, being able to try them on is great, even if it’s not you that’s doing the trying!

I’m still not a huge fan of repeated knit stitch, as it never looks as even as I’d like. How do you get a neat edge? This is ok but I’d prefer it if I could get that central edge neater… Anyone have any tips about that? Again I used the teeny tiny buttons, and they are the perfect size. The two dark ones match the buttons on her shoes, and there’s one bright red one in the middle.

cardigan_3

She does look very cute with it on. A bit like she’s all ready for her first day at school. The only downside is that I’m still in love with her dress!

 

Getting dressed

dressed_1

Yesterday was a bit of a weird one here, a bit disjointed. Weirdly I ended up with a  lot of time to sit and knit while the world moved awkwardly around me, and so I set to work making Nell’s dress. (I’ve decided she’s called Nell. She doesn’t seem to mind).

While there is a dress that comes with the elephant pattern, I really like the dresses I’ve seen on Ravelry with capped sleeves, so I splashed out and bought the seasonal dress pattern, which has lots of different charts. Deciding which chart to go for is tricky, and in which colours—and then if you’re going to modify the way you use the colours… there’s a lot of choice. In the end I went for the blue to match the shoes (probably wouldn’t match shoes and main colour of dress again actually – which she’s sitting down there’s a lot of blue) and added the brighter green to make it a bit more cheerful. I knew I wanted the green at  the top.

nell_dressThe given pattern for this dress has a solid colour all the way to the top – so I wasn’t completely sure when I should switch. The capped sleeves are made by wrapping the yarn to create more stitches, something I really wasn’t convinced I would get to work. Despite that, for some reason I decided to change when purling in to these wrapped stitches—and as it happens, it gives a really nice contrasting edge to the sleeves! Amazing. Anyone would think I had some idea what I’m doing (I don’t.)

nell_feet

I also added little buttons to her shoes. I wasn’t 100% sure I’d be able to do that, but knitting is so much more flexible than crochet it wasn’t too hard to bend her feet around and squeeze the needle through. I love these teeny tiny buttons. The people that make them must be amazed that anyone can find a use for a button so small.

friends

You can see that I need practise on the colour work – the tension is a bit ropey. Also you *really* need to concentrate! I used the point of a pair of scissors to point at every stitch on the chart as I worked, otherwise you look up for a sec, look down and have no idea where you are.

The pattern actually recommends cotton for the elephant and the clothes. You can see that I’ve used wool for both, as that’s what I had available. I like Nell (the elephant) in wool, but you can already see that the dress is way too fluffy (and will probably pile). It kind of loses the detail. Seeing as I’m already planning more—they’re really addictive—I’ll probably use up the wool I have but think about buying cotton to try at some point.

final

After making the rabbits, I honestly didn’t think I could be more thrilled with a toy, but I’m so pleased with her! The pattern is amazing. I really didn’t think you could get knitting to be as nicely 3d as you can with crochet. And no DNPs! The construction and shaping is really clever. I have no idea how long it must’ve taken Julie to figure out these patterns and then write them down, but she deserves every penny and all the praise she gets! I won’t say they’re easy, but they’re definitely manageable, and watching them come together is a lot of fun.

Question now is… do I make her a little cardigan as well? Maybe I should actually do something useful first, like clean the house… Hmm.

Happy sunday!

 

 

 

 

 

The eyes have it

elephant_1

After the total joy of making two rabbits (one hopefully now settled into his new home) I decided to take a risk on an elephant. I say ‘take a risk’ as she looks pretty complicated to me—I didn’t want to just assume this would be a breeze, and then get super frustrated. I still consider myself a new knitter to be honest, and there’s lots of techniques I don’t know or need to look up each time.

With the bunnies I started on the feet as they seemed like the most complicated part. With this one I started on the head, because if you can’t get that right you’re kind of stuck. My first effort was shaping up nicely… until I realised I was rushing a lot and had missed a complete 10 rows! I’d already got onto the ears and couldn’t work out why there were so enormous. They weren’t, her head was too small. I started again.

elephant_2

The second time, I found shaping the trunk a little hard – you need to pull on the wool that you’re sewing the seam with, to make the trunk curl. It snapped. If you’re doing this yourself, I’d definitely recommend strong yarn for that bit of seaming (as it says in the pattern), or curling it about 10 stitches a time as you sew, instead of in one go when you get to the end.

Once I’d made the head, I stitched the eyes… And I just didn’t like them. Eyes are SO important, and can really make or break a toy (as I know I’ve said before.) They just weren’t in the right position. After living with them for a day and looking at everyone else’s in Ravelry I decided to unpick them. Then she had no eyes for a couple of weeks. At this point I was kind of disappointed as I just didn’t think I’d get them right, but I made the rest of the body anyway.

I was going to give her solid coloured tights and then changed my mind, which is why she has that darker blue band around her tummy. Also, I changed colour too soon – there’s a rogue dark blue row that shouldn’t be there. I found the shoes relatively easy to knit, but tricky to sew together neatly. One is good, the other not so good. They definitely get better with practise I think. Same goes with stitching the legs to the body.

I’ve looked at a *lot* of others on Ravelry and there’s definitely a technique to attaching the legs to the body that I don’t have yet. But that’s not so bad… a good reason to make another one!

elephant_3

With the eyes I suddenly had a brainwave – its not that much of a revelation to most, but it worked a treat for me. I got some pins with the round plastic balls for a head. I spent ages positioning and repositioning them. Finally when I thought they were in the right place I stitched the knots in — and it worked! She went from being a bit of a problem to something I was super excited about making. It’s amazing what a difference it makes! It transforms a project from ‘some knitting’ into a little character of her own.

Last night I stitched her all together. (Probably not a good idea after a long day but I had a free evening.) I’m so pleased with her! Looking at the attachment of the legs to the body this morning I’m a bit less thrilled, but she’s such a lovely little character. I still can’t get over the fact I’ve managed to get enough skills to make something so nice. It’s like being given a gift. I’ve really enjoyed making her (despite the ups and downs) and there’s still a dress to come.

There’s something brilliant about being really into the thing you’re making. Its so nice to have something non-stressful to think about. I think it’s something to do with gaining new skills too, you think about it a bit on the way to work maybe, instead of worrying about this document or that meeting. You sneak a few rows in here or there and get to see a bit more life come to pass…

And on that note, time to start the 90 minute commute and think about what colours her dress should be. Hope all’s well with you.