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!

 

 

 

 

 

And then there were two!

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.

 

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).

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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.

Busy knitting

hedgie4

I didn’t mean the first post of the new year to be so late, OR to start with another hedgehog (for it is a different one). But time flies, the winter light is terrible, and before you know it, February is here and everyone thinks you’ll never return.

But lo! I have come back. Armed with nothing but an iphone for now. So apologies for the terrible photos.

This hedgehog pattern is so cute. Its quick and takes up very little wool too, hence being exactly the same yarn as the last one! I’d like to make a much bigger one now. They really do have the best little faces:

hedgie5

I’d also like to try out one of the bigger toy patterns from Little Cotton Rabbits. I’m not sure if I have the skills yet, but I am very tempted. (But which one?)

That aside, I’ve also been knitting other gifts. I made this baby hat:

hat_1

Which is also a nice (free) pattern, over on Ravelry. Try as I might, I cannot get the green sections to stand up in the same way as the main photo on Ravelry, but having looked at a lot of pictures of other people’s work I am not alone. I even tried a few of the suggested fixes, and none of those worked either. That said I was still very pleased with it. For once I think I made the stalk too long. You know when you get bored making things like that so you *force* yourself to carry on? I think after all that I could’ve let myself off.

hat_2

I was a bit worried that it was too small, but I stretched it over this bowl and it proved to be bigger than it looks! Not being around babies that often I don’t have an inbuilt baby measurement monitor. I mean, it’s a pretty small hat, but… aren’t babies small? I handed it over before the birth so the baby (a little boy, but they didn’t know pre-birth) could wear it immediately!

boot

I also made this baby boot – from this free pattern. I chose it because I could use the same yarn as the hat, but in the end, I didn’t make the other one… Although it actually looks ok here, I didn’t like it, and I thought it made the hat look bad! (You can’t tell from my awful photos but the hat was surprisingly neat.)

To be honest I think i’m just not that keen on so much garter stitch. I’m just about ok with the hedgehog, but generally it never looks as neat and even for me as stockinette.

I did a stretchy bind off for the green cuff at the top, which was a first for me. If you’re thinking of making this, I would recommend it. The boots might be a little tight otherwise.

giraffe

And I made this little chap. But more of him next time, because he has a scarf and a wooly jumper and I have yet to take photos of those!

So that’s me all caught up, I think?

Hope you all have brilliant weekends.

Stress bunnies

tiny

You know when you have a lot on your mind and you can’t sit idle but you can’t concentrate on anything either? That’s when simple patterns really come in to their own. Just basic counting, with the odd ‘knit 2 together’ or something every now and again. I made one of these last weekend for a gift, another because I wanted to check the previous one wasn’t a fluke and another three to keep me busy in-between dealing with work-related phonecalls and emails.

I wont go in to the gory details but I am about to start a new contract… for a variety of reasons its been delayed several times, and thus I’m not working, but I’m not on holiday either. I need to be available to answer calls and emails, and perhaps have meetings, and so I can neither relax, nor work (nor make any money!). Its been a bit of a frustrating time. Last week was particularly frustrating and so while I couldn’t do nothing I couldn’t quite face starting something new either.

bunnies

I found some odds and ends of wool that needed using up. I have to say that it’s a lot easier making these in soft wool than it is in cotton. It’s also a lot easier to stitch them together. Making so many arms and legs also gave me a chance to improve my i-cord knitting too.

back

I knitted them all flat and mattress-stitched them together, except for the one above. I knitted her in the round on DPNs. Can’t decide it it was better or worse really… Much more fiddly, but perhaps a neater finish? Its also a little harder to sew the face as you’re stitching into a tube. I think I’d say it depends on your attitude to DPNs – if you hate them its definitely not worth it!

dress
I do love making the dresses though. They’re so simple but so detailed – the arm holes, the tiny button/loop and any kind of decoration you fancy.

The blue bunnies are made in the weirdest colour wool. I think on a good day you’d call it ‘duck egg’. On a bad day you’d call it ‘grubby’. If it’s next to something *really* white then you can see that it’s quite a nice pale blue. If its next to any other colour at all, it just looks like it was probably a nice colour once, but it’s got really dirty since. I’m not sure why I bought it – must’ve been one of the rare times when it really did look duck egg.

phone_1

As promised, this is the finished iphone case – I said I’d blog it good or bad. In the end it’s turned out somewhere in the middle. Its not great looking, but its not awful either. It is exactly the right size though (luck, not design), and it’s quite dense fabric so works quite well. Its a basic Rowan 4 ply on 2.75 needles, so it’s quite thick. I finished it off with Kitchener Stitch – not particularly well, but that’s partly because I kept confusing myself. I think this video tutorial is really good – despite my general cackhandedness. Another plus – I’ve used up even more of the weird colour wool.

Again, if you want to make bunnies of your own, this is the pattern.

Hope you’ve all had great weekends. See you soon!

PS: Do any of you have any patterns you go to over n’ over? I tatt Mary Konior’s posy pattern on repeat quite a lot, and of course crochet the monkeys – but they’re just good gifts, rather then stress-busters…

 

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.