Busy/not busy

I’ve neglected this blog a little (ok, a lot) as I’m still in craft limbo. I talked before about not being able to settle into a project and it’s still the same. Starting and then not understanding a human-sized pattern hasn’t helped:

delayed

This was going to be my go-to project for a bit. ‘Go-to’ projects are good I think – you know what you’re working on, there’s no decision to be made you can just pick it up and carry on. You just relax into it and the process itself is relaxing. Getting stuck means that I kind of feel bad for not persevering, but then after a busy week at work I’m not sure I can face the perseverance. Then what do do? Not skilled enough to make what I’m supposed to be making, but still want to make something… so…

I made this chap recently:

sketch

And actually, he’s very badly knitted, but I am a bit in love with him. He started out with a pink embroidered nose, which I disliked, so I left him as just a head for ages. A visiting friend picked up the head and berated me for not giving him a body. Feeling bad I unpicked the pink nose and did as I was told. (Who knew you could also unpick a nose…)

knitwit

I think he’s a really nice size. And also, maybe I’m really just a kid who hasn’t grown up… I really like making toys. That said, this Millennium Falcon belongs to the Mr:

millenium

Aside from that, I stitched up a few lavender bags from the tatting I had lying around:

offcentre

This is kind of hilarious because honestly, that little ribbon is so off centre it’s a miracle it’s even in the shot at all. The power of photography, eh? I did get a bit impatient with the sewing machine. I always want to be better at things than I am.

Time this year has also been taken up in other ways. I’ve worked on our little garden a lot, and it’s been really lovely to watch it grow. On a work trip to Boston (USA) earlier in the year I had a spare Sunday afternoon and walked to the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum. There is a central garden inside the house, and many of the balconies had window boxes full of beautiful trailing nasturtiums.

nas_1

The lighting was a little tricky, but hopefully you get the idea. (And yes, it does look very Italian, despite being in the USA). I came home and immediately planted a packet of mixed nasturtium seeds, all of which dutifully sprang forth.

nas_3

People talk about ‘splashes of colour’ – I’m not sure there’s a more apt description. This photo was taken a week or so ago. They look a bit battered today as the rain has been so heavy this weekend. I’ve also been baking a fair bit.

biscuits

These are ridiculously easy ginger biscuits. A little darker than usual as I ran out of sugar and added some black treacle. (Good move). Baking has all the joy of craft I think, with the massive added bonus that you can eat it at the end…

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?

Knitting and tatting roundup!

new dress

I am still in Athens and still knitting! Just not looking at my laptop that much at the weekends, hence the silence. I finally managed to make the new Greek elephant a lighter dress (on the left). It’s made in cotton, which I bought from a great yarn shop in Athens. I had a weekend to myself a while back, so packed up my elephants and took them on a walking adventure. The yarn shop was wonderful – but so was the owner, who took one look at the elephants and said ‘Little Cotton Rabbits!’ He’d actually spoken to Julie (the pattern creator) via Flickr quite a few years ago. I bought some cotton just to try out, and it’s very nice. I’m undecided as to whether or not this dress suits this elephant, but we shall see.

small rabbit

I also made this small rabbit. He’s actually made on DPNs, which always ends up being way more stressful than a hobby should be, I think—but I do really like him. He’s very solid. I’m thinking he needs some clothes, but not entirely sure where to start with that. Maybe I’ll scale down some clothes from the Little Cotton Rabbits bunny pattern? Not sure. Never having gotten around to making human clothes, I’m not 100% sure how these things work!

scale

Just for scale, here’s the small rabbit next to just the feet of a Little Cotton Rabbits rabbit (Which is still a WIP as a type).

THIS is just the head of a new bunny with a piebald patch, made with/by/via (?) intarsia. As you can see, I’m not great at it – so I think I’ll keep this as an experiment:

intarsia

It’s annoying actually, because it’s very cute really – but I’ve managed to make the body much neater than usual, so I don’t want it to have a messy head! I’m making these as gifts, so I’d like them to be as neat as possible. I’ve got two bodies with legs sitting next to me as a type. It’s a bit of a production line at the moment. Slightly worried that I’ll run out of stuffing soon, but I’ll have to cross that bridge when I come to it.

I’ve also been thinking about tatting a lot recently, as I’ve only been knitting. For a moment I did wonder if I was forgetting how to do it, so after getting back from a huge walk yesterday to / from Athens central market (via the wine shop) I relaxed on the sofa with some tatting thread:

tats

I was feeling too lazy to attach beads but might do that next time. This is my own pattern, so I’m glad it worked out. Could do with a bit of adjusting but I think it’s quite pretty. I’m not sure why, but I got into the habit of tatting all the bottom rings first and then the upper rings on top after. If you do them alternately as you go it’s much neater. Looking back at old photos, I think I’d changed my technique for the worse, for some reason? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ fixed now, hopefully! Will adjust it a bit and try it with beads next time.

And here’s a little story to finish. I ended up showing photos of some of the toys to my team at work. As I get a bit embarrassed about it (not everyone gets knitting!), I usually end up saying something kind of self deprecating. I said ‘I should probably make something useful – like a jumper or something!’. To which one of my team replied ‘NO! Why would you do that? You can just buy a jumper, you don’t need to make things like that. It sounds too stressful, you’ll get burnt out. You should use your time to make nice things that you enjoy, it doesn’t matter if they’re useful!’. And actually I do agree. It’s a hobby, right? It’s supposed to be fun, and you *should* be making whatever makes you happy. Pointless toys are less pointless when the point is enjoying yourself 😉

Hope wherever you are you’re enjoying what you’re making too.

Oh! And PS: I haven’t told anyone this (much like I’ve only told about 2 people that I have a blog) but I’ve got a crafty instagram account. If you have too, I’ll see you there: I’m occasionalcrafter
(
sorry about the duplicate photos!)

 

 

Bearly there

bear

I can’t believe how long it’s been since my last post. I was so productive, and then suddenly it all went to pot! Not entirely sure what’s been going on. This is just a quick catch up, really.

I finished off this little fellow a couple of weeks ago. He’s sitting in an egg cup (a gift for ‘me’ from by boyfriend… While I like it a lot, I can’t help thinking this was’t entirely selfless giving).

When I finished this I wasn’t 100% impressed. I didn’t knit him that well, and to be honest, his body ends up a tiny bit pointy at the top, which gives him a weird neck. I tried to get around that when I stitched his head on, but it’s not great. Also, I made the scarf way to long. NO idea how that happened, because it was SO tedious to knit.

But… but…

bear 2

Despite all that, he’s actually *really* cute. Not neat enough to give away, but I really like him. I keep picking him up to have a little look. Might knit another one, but neater this time. Here’s the pattern on Ravelry. (Sorry about the quality of late night iPhone photos.)

tatting in colour

These are some rating experiments I’ve also been doing. I treated myself to some new threads (always DMC size 80 – just different colours). The colours are lovely. I’m trying to work out using beads in different ways and also, folded rings. In the ecru example I managed rather excellently to put the beads on the bottom row of rings rather than the top! This means you can’t see them. At all. That’s what happens when you start something new on a train after a day’s work, while not quite thinking. I like the beads in the centre of the folded rings though, so will persevere…

Right now, in fact.

Hope you’re having / have had a good weekend.

 

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.

Zipping about again

I bought this bird fabric a while ago on Etsy, on a bit of a whim. Today I decided I was going to make a zip pouch, and the plan was absolutely to use up the green fabrics I had left over from the spaceinvaders monitor cover the other week.

pouch_1

Then I opened the drawer to get out the cotton twill I bought ages ago for interlining, and saw the bird fabric and changed my mind. Its really lovely. Its almost like a very stiff linen, it’s not a regular cotton print. It actually creases really easily so it’s been ironed a million times. Its stiffness makes it great for something that might get thrown about a bit but its excellent creasing ability is a bit of a pain.

zipper_1

I had this pink zipper knocking around, which is actually not a bad match for the details on the birds. That said, it can look a bit too pink in a certain light. But hey, it’s just a zip, and I kinda like it being so bright – it feels like a feature.


zipper_2

Last time I made a pouch I used the hand-cranked Singer sewing machine, because I thought it had a zipper foot. It didn’t. This time I used the John Lewis Mini (its a bit like this) and it is also without a zipper foot. Actually I think that Elizabeth’s Hartman’s Zipper Pouch Pattern is so good that if you follow her instructions you can live without one. I’m sure it’s not perfect but it seems to work for me.

Its a great pattern, and I like the nice neat ends it gives the zipper. (Although you can see the stitching is a wee bit wonky there!) I must admit – I didn’t do a great job on the zipper pull. I found topstitching it really tricky – its not at all straight, but I’m trying to ignore that. I didn’t make a pull last time.

both

Here’s the first and second side by side. The monkey pouch is full of ribbons! It puts a smile on my face for the fabric AND the contents 🙂 Not sure yet what I’ll keep in the bird pouch. Looking at it now, I kinda think it looks better in real life… you’ll have to trust me on that. I’m not sure why I like zipper pouches so much, but there’s something really nice about them. There’s a woman on Etsy who screen prints fabrics which I really like, and I’ve almost bought a pouch from her a million times. I stopped myself because I don’t really need more, and the shipping is a bit expensive from Canada. If you live a bit nearer though, I think her work is lovely.

neat

Sorry – this is a totally gratuitous shot, and it’s not even from today. Look at it! Its so neat! I doubt I’ll ever match that on anything ever again.

Anyway…

tatting

 

Still experimenting with tatting patterns, but that’s for another post.

dodge

Annnnnd, I made some jammy dodgers in a fit of trying to seem productive on a day when my leg was driving me a little nuts. Hope you’ve had a good weekend wherever you may be.