Crochet, tatting, knitting, patchwork, secrets and lies

Little man

You know some weeks, nothing seems to work? I got so frustrated finishing this chap on Friday that I threw him in the bin. My boyfriend spotted him in there yesterday and took him out – then gave me a telling off for being mean.

He’s supposed to be a little mismatched, his ears and eyes are different, but really, his jumper was actually supposed to fit. I had to unpick half of the jumper when I realised I’d mis-counted due to a phone call. Then I realised that even after re-making, the dimensions were never going to work. The nice cuffs were going to be hidden as the sleeves need rolling up, and don’t even talk about the neck… (I’m so pleased I guessed it all correctly for the giraffe – looking back it’s a miracle!)

lil_chap2

In the end I stitched him into the jumper at the back, so it kind of fits, but it’s not ideal. I also made him some trousers – it’s not that easy making trousers, is it?! I just guessed the shape; imagine two pieces of fabric shaped a bit like an upside-down ‘V’. I ended up cutting them in half and re-sewing down the centre to get the right shape – but I think I might understand a little more about trouser construction than I did before!

lil_chap3

Actually after all that I really like him. In real life he looks like quite a gentle, bookish soul. It’s really the jumper that does it. Now I can actually knit I think every crocheted toy needs a jumper. Due to the slightly delicate clothing construction he’s definitely not for playing with, so I think he’ll live with me. I have a feeling he’ll be happy on a bookshelf though – I just need to be nice and apologise for throwing him away. (!)

Patchwork

Before I started fixing him yesterday, I got the sewing machine out and had a bit of a play. I’d already decided what I wanted to make, but I fancied playing with a few scraps first. These were all small pieces from my scrap bag, but I think they go nicely together. Not sure what I’ll do with it yet.

needlecase

This is not the most inspiring photo, but I decided to make a needlecase, loosely based on this tutorial. The tatting has been knocking around for ages… Eeek, since 2013 in fact! I thought it might be nice making something a bit less girly for a change.

inside

This is what it’s like inside – a little pocket front and back, perfect for the essentials (like a rabbit). Don’t look too closely at the binding. Ahem.

inside2

Just like the previous one, this is all made of scraps – which includes the dreadful, cheap, synthetic felt. So just like the previous one I stitched around the edge of the pages, but this time with darker thread on one side. (Yes, that rabbit is hiding a mismatched corner… thanks for asking).

prev

I love how different the new case feels when compared to the old one. And talking of the old one… I use it all the time.

You know what I’ve noticed? Everyone who makes a needle case and then photographs it does what I did up there ^. They show a perfect selection of pins or needles, perfectly aligned. Who keeps a needle case like that?! No one, surely? Certainly no one that ever uses their needles.

reality

 

This is what the old needlecase looks like now. Its all bent out of shape and a mess.

But I love it.

 

Knitting and crochet, the best of friends

Knitting and crochet

This wee fellow is off to a new home tomorrow. He’s going to live with a little three year old girl, called Scarlett. I would be more concerned, but she’s taken excellent care of the monkey I made her in 2013, so fingers crossed! I hope she likes him and plays with him as much, and as carefully (!) as she does with the monkey.

A naked giraffe

Here he is, as naked as the day he was born, in all his crocheted glory. And looking rather embarrassed about it too. It’s a lovely pattern – although as ever, crocheting arms and legs drives me  bit nuts. I always end up missing a stitch somewhere along the way and having to add one or two back in later. If you are in any way giraffe inclined though, I would recommend the pattern and you can find it here. I chose green for mine, because I think it’s nice for little girls to know that colours other than pink are available!

Giraffe scarf

True to form, I made a giraffe scarf. It actually matches the one I made for the monkey, but I think that’s purely because I used the same logic by accident – “I should probably add something scarlet”. I’m nothing if not original…

But then I thought he looked a bit naked. And maybe a little cold. But what to make to warm up a giraffe, other than a scarlet scarf?

Jumper

A wooly jumper of course!

I was in a bit of a rush, as I desperately wanted to finish this in time for Scarlett’s birthday, so I chose a basic, one-coloured pattern. I was also worried I wouldn’t know how to make it, so I thought the simpler the better. In the end I went for another pattern from Little Cotton Rabbits and it’s great! It’s knitted flat, and you start with individual pieces, which come together at the chest. You have to stitch it together of course, but its not hard and looks great.

jumper backAnd look! There’s a little button fastening at the back, which means…

Arms up!

That it’s easy to get on and off again! Quite important I think.

I adjusted the pattern a little bit – longer arms etc – and I think if I were a more skilled knitter I’d’ve taken it in at the sides to suit his body shape a bit more, but in the end, I was quite pleased with it. It looks nice and cosy. The button at the front is just for decoration, incidentally.

Suave and warm

And so there he is. All nice and warm and ready to meet his new friends.

You know what’s also a little funny about this? This is the first jumper I’ve ever knitted! And yes, I am still working on the Brooklyn Tweed Boardwalk pattern, from ages ago! Must get started on that again now.

Been and gone!

bunny

I finished this little lady yesterday afternoon, and by midnight (or thereabouts) she was comfortably established in her new home. This is actually the third one I’ve made, but the first one that is fit for public viewing! They’re very fiddly to put together and I’ve never managed to get the others as neat as this, but I tried extra extra hard as she’s a mother’s day gift. I must admit, I was super happy with the way she turned out. Its the ‘Tiny Knitted Toys‘ pattern, from the brilliant Little Cotton Rabbits.

bunny_2

I know it looks a bit odd, but I do love this shot. A little work in progress…

bunny_3

The rabbit is knitted in some spare white cotton I had knocking about. I *think* it’s the cotton I had from the baby blanket all that time ago. Its actually a bit stiff, I think something more wooly could be easier to knit at that size.

bunny_5

The dress pattern is lovely. It’s actually got armholes and does up at the back with a tiny button. This was made with what I think is some red Rowan Cotton Glace. It has a tiny sheen to it – very good for small decorative things, and is a lovely deep colour.

I must admit, I think crochet is potentially neater for toys. Crochet feels made for creating three dimensional objects, and knitting seems to struggle a bit with that – but to be fair, this is a tiny toy. While I took a lot of care sewing this together, it’s never going to be as neat as a larger crochet toy, and so the dress does help with that a bit – covers up the mattress stitch at the back etc. That said, I feel like making another one. Right now.

hmm.

En garde!

Knitting with DPNs

Word is, there are actually people who *like* knitting with DPNs… that’s true, right? I didn’t make that up? All I can think is that it’s like your first taste of alcohol—you just can’t believe people get involved with this for pleasure. I am willing to believe that it could be possible, but right now it’s way more pain than pleasure. Give me the nice circular needles any day.

This is an iPhone sock, it’s me forcing myself to use DPNs but keeping it simple with a knit 2 / purl 2 rib. It’s also given me a wonderful chance to pick up dropped stitches with a crochet hook… Not exactly on purpose, but hey. Now I know it can be done. (And that knitting is just a weird collection of crocheted chains). I was going to say that if you never see this again, lets not mention it – but you know what? I should blog my terrible things too. Life isn’t perfect and it’s good to learn from your mistakes. Hopefully I’ll blog it good or bad.

crochet rose

This is a crocheted brooch I made for a friend. I like it actually. It’s a generic rose pattern, of which there are millions on the internet  – most of which are the same, but just start with a different number of chained stitches. The leaves are loosely based on those from Attic 24. I say loosely as I made this while watching The Shield (box set, we’ve just finished series 3), and I wasn’t really counting anything properly.

A while back I bought some brooch backs, but have yet to use them so this seemed like a good chance. Terrible photo and off centre stitching but…

brooch back

You can see that this is quite a nice back. It’s good and solid. It comes in two parts, one is a disc with holes in, to which you sew your fabric front and the other is what you can see here, which you attach to the first disc by folding little metal claws with pliers. I got the backs from eBay – must make more use of them.

tatting

I’ve had one long train journey this week, so I ended up making another of these—the beaded one. The other one I made just to see what it would be like with variegated thread. They are so nice to make I can’t stop. And they photograph so nicely!

tatting

Ahem. Anyway. Back to knitting and the gentle art of stabbing myself in the hand.

 

Knitting school!

knitting_1

Hello! It feels like it’s been ages since I posted here, which is not intentional. The house is still chaotic, work is nuts, everything is all over the place, but… Lets not talk about all that now! One of the great things about a crafty blog is that it’s a nice chance to get away from all that.

So.

I went to knitting school! At the end of last year I decided that it would be good to just learn the things I needed to know from a human being, instead of YouTube. I’ve taught myself a lot from YouTube (and will no doubt continue to) but I just thought, ‘go learn on some samples and THEN worry about making something. Stop not making things because they sound impossible.’ Also, hobbies are supposed to be fun, right? I thought it might be fun.

IT WAS GREAT. Three Saturdays in a row, from 10.30-4.30 with an hour for lunch. A nice small class of five people and one lovely teacher.  Claire is the editor of Inside Crochet, and she’s also written a variety of knitting and crochet books. If you’re in London and wanted to learn knitting (or crochet), I don’t think you could have a better teacher. She’s super-patient, the lessons are really well planned and I came away with a stack of reference material and a much better understanding of what I’m doing.

knitting_3

The course was for intermediate knitters. People who know how to knit and purl and are wondering what to do next. The two photos above are from the first week, where we looked at increases and decreases, and then applied that to lace. We made lots of small samples — learning by doing, which is the best way for a practical subject.

knitting_2

These are two samples from week two, where we looked at cables, and knitting in the round. I’ve been wanting to knit cables for ages. It’s nice to know they’re achievable! For knitting in the round we used circular needles and DPNs. I’ve made a baby hat, but can’t get a decent shot of it at the moment (no space in the house due to builders). I bought some Addi circular needles, and finally realised what people mean when they say how much they like a particular type of needle. These are SO nice to use it’s almost like a doing different craft. Amazing.

knitting_4

This is from yesterday when we looked at Fair Isle, Intarsia and also different cast on/off methods. There are a few more samples but I’ve tucked them away in my reference folder. So, all in all, lots of good lessons learnt! I’ve become addicted to Ravelry again, trying to decide what to make next. I cannot wait for the building work to be finished so I can actually get to my needles.

crochet

These little chaps are off to new homes soon. The poor bear has been hanging around hoping for a new family for a long time, and the mouse arrived the other week. I hate to say it, neither of them are perfect, but I have found a place that will make them welcome, I think. I spotted this appeal from the Lincolnshire Police. They’re after knitted and crochet bears (I hope they don’t mind the mouse!) to: “…console children involved in a road traffic accident until emergency services can deal with the accident situation.  They help to keep children calm in what is sometimes a frightening experience.”

What a lovely thing to do for kids in a horrible situation! So these two will be off soon. They look rather nervous, I must admit but I think this is the reason:

crochet2

The house is so upside down at the moment that some of the kitchen and all of the hall is in our bedroom. This is the only space available to take a photograph! I think they were concerned they were about to get crushed.

I hope you’re all doing ok and if you’re in the UK you’re staying safe and dry. See you soon, I hope!

 

 

2013; tatting, sewing, travel and monkeys

tatting with beads
Well, hello! Happy new year to you and yours!

If you’re a WordPress user you’ll’ve received an end-of-year review of your blog. I was shocked to see that I’d only posted 19 times last year! I thought surely I’ve been busier than that? I’ve never done my own end-of-year post before, but as it’s nice and warm inside and horrible out there I thought today might be the time to start, so here goes. A quick look at what I actually did do last year…

Tatting
As you can see above, this was the year of the bead! I found a hook small enough to work with seed beads and size 80 threads, and there’s been no stopping me! I also finally worked out how to get the beads to pop above the chain rather than in them. It seems once I’d started, I couldn’t stop.

r_self
I also decided to try and work on my own patterns this year. Admittedly I only ever got to do this on the work commute, and refused to use a pen to plan things out first, so I only got this far, but I had fun anyway! I finished an edging pattern, which I made available here – and I even spotted someone using it. I do plan to continue working on my own designs this year, so we’ll see how that goes.

Trips abroad
This was another year where living in Europe brings huge benefits! Nice places to visit and nothing to far away. I was lucky enough to visit (clockwise from top left):

Barcelona –  A lovely, relaxed trip with old work colleagues who have become friends. A visit to the Sagrada Familia was a real treat; it’s the first time I’ve been back since the new windows and roof were finished. The colours and shapes are really breathtaking.

Skelleftea, Sweden, for work. This was a beautiful place, and the first time I’ve experienced 24 hour daylight! I was made so incredibly welcome too, met some really interesting people and had some great food.

r_travel
Venice – one of my best friends lives in a town just outside Venice, and so I spent a week with him. A great week of hanging out, visiting the Biennale, and enjoying/melting in the boiling sunshine.

France – my partner’s family live here, and so we visited his family for Christmas. The photo is taken in Villebois-Lavalette. I love this chateau – it looks a little bit like one you might draw for a children’s book.

Monkeys
Yes indeed, where would we be without crocheted monkeys? They continue to be my go-to gift, although I have a feeling I might’ve made everyone I know a monkey soon! I actually made 5 in total, I think – there’s a twin for the one on the top right. I also made two bears.

r_monkeys

Sewing
The reason I started using a sewing machine originally was to try and make use of my tatting. My obsession with lavender bags didn’t abate in 2013 as you can see! I’m still not sure there’s a straight edged one among them.

I also tried my hand at embellishing with embroidery, which on reflection, I like a lot. I used the piece on the top right for a bag.

r_sew

And finally, I managed to shorten a very light pair of curtains, and finish my second quilt. Phew!

Maybe 2013 was busier than 19 posts suggests? If you stuck it out this far, thank you for indulging me. And now, I *think* it’s stopped raining for 5 minutes. I’m going to rush out for a short, damp run, while I can. When I get back, I still have a friends baby blanket to finish.

RUN!

Bearly there

Hello bear

This is just a speedy post as I should be doing about five other things. Its seems like today has been really busy but I’m not even sure I’ve got anything done… Gah. Never mind.

Anyway, this is the little bear I crocheted the other week. He’s quite small…

bear_2He fits into the palm of your hand. This one is made from some un-named crochet cotton I bought at a Knit & Stitch show a few years back. It’s quite nice to crochet actually, but I’m not sure ‘invisible decreases’ quite live up to their name. The stitch definition on this thread is quite clear, so you can see every decrease, ‘invisible’ or otherwise…

bear_3

He’s quite a bit smaller than the last one though – and I ended up changing the arms on the pattern, as for me personally, I think they’re just a bit too bulky. It’s a nice pattern though – I really love the legs and feet. Looking at it again, I think it’s probably better in a chunkier, more even yarn.

bear_4

still, you live and learn! Here is is sitting atop my most recent tatting exploits, more of which will come in the next post. Better go for now. Hope you’re having good weekends!