A Christmas elf

merry_xmas

In the end, I did manage to fit in a tiny bit of Christmas knitting! This is a little elf ornament, mercifully knitted flat and then stitched up at the back. He’s relatively quick to make – as always the thing that takes the longest time is the finishing off. I do like the little collar though and the fact you can use the cast on yarn to crochet into a chain to hang him with.

The pattern is called Little Pixies and is by Amanda Berry. I kind of wonder if he should have legs actually, but when he’s hung up, he looks fine. He’s knitted on 2.75mm needles, and works out at a really nice size. Might make more. (Maybe I should do them right now, and then they’ll be done for next Christmas? I still can’t find my tatting bag so we’re still snowflake free).

In the meantime, the yarn I thought I had, which I was going to use to knit a baby hat over Christmas, I didn’t have at all. Seems I’ve used it all up. I started another hat, keeping fingers crossed that I had enough yarn to complete it, then went wrong while TV knitting and so am down from about 25 rows in, to 5. Ah well. This is why I don’t get paid to knit.

Onwards! Happy new year!

Fidgeting

I can’t think of a better word to describe my current crafting status. After a year of knitting lots of toys from Little Cotton Rabbits patterns, I’ve free fallen (is that a phrase?) into a few months of not being sure what to make next.

tatting_1

I decided I should sew some of the pieces of tatting I have lying around on to fabric – an example of which is shown above.The creases in the fabric are a rather desperate attempt to sew this on straight. Honestly, sewing really is not one of my main skills. (I think my main one is eating, to be frank.) This actually looks better in real life – it’s almost perfectly monochrome, which I really like.

tatting_2

This is wonkier. It’s ok – but I think I would be happier if it were a little more regular. One exciting thing though, I had to travel for work the other week and had a free Sunday in a foreign town. I took my jet-lagged self off for a long walk to a craft shop and bought myself some beading needles! The one in the photo is a regular needle, and it only fits through 40% of the beads. I have higher hopes for the beading needles!

tatting_3

This is actually a project I took on the plane for the trip. In the end I slept (badly) and only got 10 minutes to work on this in the hotel one morning. It’s finished (not in this photo) but I’ve not done anything with it yet. If you’re the tatting type, the overlapping rings were made alternately, (back ring / front ring / back ring etc). Previously I’ve made the back rings first and tatted the top rings second. It’s neater doing them alternately, but much tighter in the centre if you make the back rings first/ front rings second (is this making any sense?). It’s not a major revelation but… thought I’d share it anyway.

I’m in the middle of remaking this in red thread. It’s a fantastic colour and looks great on black, but my phone camera has no idea what to do with such intense colours. I’ll work out how to take a photo if it ends up looking ok when it’s finished.

blue

I did finish this chap’s trousers. He’d been waiting a long time as I made him when I was living in Athens! The jumper was made at new year. He’s quite nice, even if I do say so myself. Trying to work out where he should live.

experiment

This one was a bit of an experiment, combining bits from different patterns really. I want to make a small rabbit and felt it (just in the washing machine). I’ve not felted this as it was made from old stash yarn and I can’t completely remember what it’s made of. The head was made on DPNs and I *think* I made the body flat and stitched it. I say ‘think’ because the join is so good, I sort of can’t see it – and seriously, I don’t think I’m that good at mattress stitch. It possible pixies came in over night and sewed this one up for me.

small_bunny

A confession: I hate this orange cotton.
A fact: so does this grey rabbit.

I tried so hard to work out a jumper that might fit him, but I have no idea how jumpers really work. Eventually I managed to make this dress, and the grey rabbit absolutely refused to wear it. After all that effort, someone had to wear it, so the other one finally got some clothes.

But what next? Well, tatting, but that’s just small odds and ends at a time. The next project is going to be a human sized jumper. I don’t have high hopes actually but I will try. This one is top down (ages ago I tried something which was bottom up, and didn’t finish it). I’m hoping that being able to try it as I go might mean I can make something human-wearable. We shall see. I needed to buy a new length circular needle which I’m hoping might arrive in time for the weekend. If not… maybe another Little Cotton Rabbit?
¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

 

 

 

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.

scandi_santa

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?

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.

 

 

A herd of tatted lavender bags

tatted lavender bags

Do you think you could call them a herd? Not entirely sure, but they’re certainly gathering. Things have changed again work-wise for me, so I’m back to a regular commute. Even better, I’m back to a regular commute that more often than not affords me a seat, which is great news. It’s also exceptionally slow, due to engineering works, which is less great (but very British, to be honest). This means I have more time to tat.

Tatting on my leg

There you can see an over processed iPhone photo taken while I was tatting on the train. I’ve been working on my own patterns a lot, using the ANKARS technique of overlapping rings. I must admit, I’m really enjoying it.

Adding beads

This bit is always less fun – not sure why but the sewing drives me a little nuts. Some beads I add as I tat, others I’ve started sewing in at the end…

Waiting...

Last weekend I finally had enough time, and enough semi-complete pieces to get out the sewing machine. What I *didn’t* have is any fresh lavender. The stuff I have is getting on a bit now, and I was a little concerned. That said, it’s performed admirably, and the corner of the house where they’re currently all piled up smells amazing.

Envelope back

I decided to go for envelope backs on the bags – partly due to the concern of the lavender not being fresh and needing to be replaced, and partly because it gives me a higher chance of finishing the edges neatly. If you do it like this, there’s no need to hand finish the edges! They also look kinda cute – but I neglected to take a photo… sorry about that.

result

In the end I made six complete bags. I have another two that still need to be stitched on to fabric – and I got some new thread at the weekend, so there could be more to come. Not 100% sure what to do with them all right now, but… well… as I said, that corner of the house smells amazing.

collection

And there’s still more tatting knocking about that needs to be ‘dealt with’… But as it goes, there are worse things to worry about.