Stress knitting

27Feb16

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

21Feb16

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!

 

 

 

 

 


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.

 

 


two

Happy New Year! Hope you had a good break over the holidays and your new year is going ok so far.  I’ve not been the best blogger, I have to admit, but wow, December was busy. In between work and travelling for work I did manage to race through some knitting.

I made this little chap:

whale.png

He is, I have decided, the gift for the baby I was knitting the original rabbit for. After thinking about it, I decided that you need something a baby can have a bit of a chew on, chuck about a bit, squeeze and pull in any direction. Something a more solid shape and construction seemed like a better idea, and so I went for this pattern. (Ravelry link).

Overall I enjoyed making him… until I got to the tail. It’s knitted on DPNs and just didn’t end up as neat as I would’ve liked. I also decided to sew on fabric eyes, rather than the usual plastic eyes (better for a baby). This was a bit of a pain as it turns out the black ‘craft felt’ from John Lewis is thin, disintegrates quite easily and is just… not very good quality. A lesson learned.

full_length

And back to the rabbits… What a delight to knit! I’m genuinely thrilled with how they’ve turned out. Of course there are things that could be better and neither was completely struggle-free but still they make me smile every time I look at them.

single

The pattern is from Little Cotton Rabbits. It’s the boy bunny with the piebald patch, although on these occasions I added the nose but not the patch. (I did make one head with the patch but wasn’t 100% happy with it. I’ll try it again another time though, because it is very cute). I just happened to have blue and white wool available for the jumpers and so I used that to match the pattern exactly.

They’re such a lovely size. They’re also exceptionally cute without being ‘twee’; no cartoony cutesy short cuts – no big eyes or overly large heads. Something about them being small but perfectly proportioned makes them even nicer.

I made the one with the scarf at the request of an ex-colleague. He said that the only thing his wife had said she actually wanted for her 50th birthday was “one of your knitted rabbits”. Which was of course very flattering but having only ever made one before I did say he’d have to turn a blind eye to the odd wrong stitch!

bums

Here’s a slightly odd picture of their bums! They each have a little tail that pops out of their shorts. You can also spot the tiny button I used to close their jumpers. I love that you can take these on and off. Seriously – the jumpers themselves are so cute they almost give you a heart attack.

If you’re thinking of making one for yourself and wondering if you can do it, the answer is yes, you probably can. The patterns are well written and illustrated with photos. Anything that isn’t a knit or a purl is also explained and very easy to google for a video tutorial should you need it. They’re knitted flat and stitched together, which for me made it even better. While I hate sewing, I hate small knitting on DPNs even more. Knitting them flat was almost – dare I say it – relaxing.

They take a while to stuff and to sew together, but personally, I found it easier / more enjoyable than sewing a crochet amigurumi. I crochet really tightly and getting a needle through crocheted fabric was always a horror. I did actually make the second rabbit and decide I wasn’t happy with the eyes. After a lot of ‘Really? At this hour? GO TO BED’ internal dialogue I decided to snip them out and redo them. I’m glad I did, he’s much nicer now. It’s always worth taking extra time on faces I think, no matter what type of toy you’re making.

If there was one problem with this pattern I would say that it’s *really* addictive. They’re now all I can think about. I’ve already bought the pattern for the elephant though, and so will try that next. I must admit, I’m not expecting to do so well on that one, so will definitely start with the head first and see how it goes. (For some reason I started with the feet for the rabbits).

Anyway. Happy new year! Here’s hoping we always have a chance to sneak in a little bit of time for ourselves this year.

 


bunny

This is another speedy post – my poor fingers are about to drop off! It’s been a wet & windy weekend in the UK, which has made it perfect for knitting. I think this is the first time I’ve had a chance to appreciate the mix of:

  • a free day
  • some lovely yarn – the proper woolly kind that makes you feel well wrapped-up
  • a manageable pattern, where I more-or-less know what I’m supposed to be doing.

If you were *super* interested in this blog, you’d know that I was making the piebald rabbit. He’s supposed to have a patch of colour over one eye. I actually made two ears and a head yesterday, but decided that while I hadn’t done a bad job of the intarsia (even if I do say so myself) it probably wasn’t secure enough to give to a child. I’ll try again with the next one. As it goes, it’s not that hard, but I just wasn’t 100% convinced it was fit for gifting.

Today I made a brand new head (with just the nose is a different colour, and stitched him all together. I also made some trousers:

Bunny & trousers

I have a feeling I made the body a couple of rows too long, so the trousers are a bit short in the body. (They’re meant to be short on the legs). That said, the tail is holding them up – I’ll post some photos next time when the light’s a little better.

Verdict so far though? I love him. And I’m struggling with the whole ‘should I *really* give him away?’ issue. We shall see.

He still needs a jumper but I really think my fingers might fall off if I knit another stitch.

If you’d like to knit your own, I honestly can’t recommend this pattern enough.

 


IMG_2197

Rather obviously, this is a work in progress. This is the Piebald Rabbit pattern from Little Cotton Rabbits. So far so good. The pattern is very well written, and I’m really hoping I can pull this off. I’m not 100% convinced it will be as lovely as hers, but if you never try these things you really never know.

What I am amazed about is how small he is! I guess I’ve only really ever seen these rabbits in isolation, so I thought they were biggish. Turns out when she says ‘Little Cotton Rabbits’ she’s not kidding! There’s a good and bad side to this.

Good side = I think if it works, it will be really cute.

Bad side = it’s *supposed* to be a gift for a new baby. It could be too small, or worse, I might decide that I like it too much to give it away…

We’ll see. This is of course assuming that I don’t screw it up. I decided to start with the body, mainly as I was due to go out last night and I knew I could pick that up and put it down again. I’ve made the complete leg, arm and foot today, and done the first batch of stitching. I did my best ever mattress stitch on the body, which I am very happy about. (That said, ‘best ever’ is really setting that bar low!) I didn’t do the arm that well, but I find it much easier stitching from the bottom up, rather than the top down. I’ll see how the second one goes. I’m giving it a break for now before my fingers fall off.

cascade 220

These are the yarns i’m using. It’s Cascade 220: Doeskin Heather 8012 and Aspen Heather 8011. They look different enough here, but knitted up they’re quite similar. I don’t think that will be a problem, but it does show the perils of just guessing how colours will work together when you buy them from photos online. I do like these colours though, they’re really gentle.

And on that note, time to run. More photos when there’s more to show.

 

 


Bearly there

06Sep15

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.