Travelling elephants

eles

Well, it was obviously going to happen… one elephant would become two. Nell (on the left) is joined by her new – I guess, technically speaking, Greek sister! We moved to Athens at the beginning of the month, and I couldn’t quite bear to leave Nell behind, so she packed her trunk and came with me. I had some time on my hands last weekend in between going here for a quick run…

stadium

and here for a quick look at the view…

lycabettus

So got I out the knitting needles.

I’m just in Greece for work for a few months, but renting an apartment, which makes it feel a little more like home. I thought long and hard about what crafty things to take and settled on some wool for toy making, as I’ve been enjoying it so much. I even managed to squeeze in some toy stuffing! No buttons though…

wait

(I like this photo. The light is terrible but it looks a little like Nell is saying “Wait… I think someone is coming. Pretend you’re just a toy!”)

Actually the wool I bought is good for the bodies but too heavy for the clothes. The pale blue dress is quite thick – it feels like it would make a nice jumper for me, but is a bit too much for a small elephant. I should get some cotton, as the pattern recommends.

I’ve really enjoyed making these though. I must admit, I find stranded colour work a little stressful —so much counting and the threads get all intertwined, which drives me a bit nuts. I love the look of fair isle but how it doesn’t drive people insane I just don’t know.

I’m not sure how much time I’ll have over the coming months to knit some more, but I was wondering if I should make a girl rabbit next? My own wee rabbit is all packed away in England, but maybe he’d like me to bring back a friend? We shall see.

I also got a chance to do a speedy bit of tatting the other day. It feels like it’s been AGES. So long in fact that I’d forgotten the pattern. Once I got going it was fine though:

tatting

That said, I completely forgot to string any beads!

More tatted sketches (more noodling about)

sketches

I’ve been quiet on the blogging front recently as a few other odds and ends have taken over at the weekends. Mostly, but not always of the work variety. That said, I’ve also been getting in to baking (for some strange reason), and I’ve now made the no knead loaf, a couple of white cobbs, and an oat and linseed loaf. All of them have been edible, although I must admit to a slight panic at the first white cobb which needed a *lot* of flour adding as that was way too much water. If you try that recipe, add the water in bit by bit as you might not need all of it.

Anyway. I digress. Ive also been working on my own tatting ideas recently. I’ve managed to snatch a little bit of time here and there, and I’m really enjoying it.

sketches1

I’ve been looking at layering the tatting as I’ve seen quite a lot of it about and I really like it. Mostly people use this technique for jewellery, but as I’ve mentioned before, while I love it to look at tatted jewellery it ends up being way bigger in size than anything I would normally wear.

sketches2

I’m a fan of square designs so I ended up moving in that direction. These are all variations on a theme…

sketches4

And this was the outcome of those ideas. They’re not sewn down or blocked so they’re a bit wonky, but you get the idea. As you can probably see, they’re made up of two sections, loosely threaded through. I did expand one out to secure the second section in, but it all got a bit unfocussed so I stopped. Looking at it now (not sure why I didn’t take a photo) it’s not as bad as I thought – I might go back to it. Either way I quite like these little squares. I think they’ll look nice when they’re sewn down.

sketches3

These are based on the idea of a crown, as it suddenly occurred to me that each corner was quite crown like…

sketches5

And this is the outcome of that.  I can’t seem to get a good photo of the black one but I really like it. It feels quite solid. The black thread is still size 80 but the dye really affects the thread and it’s a bit stiffer than the ecru. I think it would work well on black fabric, and possibly beaded, so that’s probably the plan.

sketches6

But in the meantime I have a little pile of thread-and-bead jewels. I keep looking at them and wondering what to do next. 

IMG_0750

Always amazes me that I can make something like this with a ball of thread and two shuttles.

I’ve also started tatting on my commute again. New journey and a different train means I can sometimes get a seat, which is really nice. First few times it felt a bit weird – I’ve not tatted that much in public for a while. Then you realise everyone’s so engrossed in their phones and Facebook you could be sitting there naked or on fire and no one would look at you – so there’s no real need to be self-conscious.

Patchwork and tatting to beat the rain

quilt_3Hello! It’s a wet and windy weekend in the UK, and due to my other half being away for work I’ve had time to get on and make an eye-wateringly cheerful quilt top, in record time. Not only that, but it’s much less wonky (so far) than my previous quilting efforts. I bought this fabric at the Knit and Stitch show in Ally Pally (London). It was a pack of quite tightly-rolled fat quarters – so you couldn’t really see what you were getting – which worked out at £12 a pack or £20 for two. As a lady next to me was contemplating a pack at the same time, I said, “let’s buy them together and we both save £2”, which is what we did.

quilt_2

Sorry – terrible lighting, don’t really have anywhere I can photograph a quilt.

I had to improvise with the pattern a bit; originally I wanted it all to be colour and pattern with no plain solids in there, but I used up all the fabric and it was a bit small so I added the sashing in. The sashing is actually a pale turquoise left over from quilt two, which is quite handy.

quilt_4

At the edge of one of the pieces it said “Flea Market Fancy”, and I was just in the process of discovering that the collection was based on retro designs, when my boyfriend arrived home, looked at it and said ‘Nice… have we gone back to the seventies?” It *is* a bit seventies, but I still love how bright and cheerful it is. To be honest, they’re not the usual kind of fabrics I’d choose.

Which leads me to the William Morris quilt, which I started here. Believe it or not, I’ve actually finished the top of that too, just not had time to take the pictures. Next I need an expensive trip to the quilting shop, to buy batting and backing fabric.

quilt_6

Actually, looking at the light on these photos, it doesn’t do it any favours. I promise you it’s nicer in real life! This was a pile at the start of Saturday. It was a lot bigger by the end. For once, as I was making squares, I measured them up and trimmed them down properly.

tatting

On a more restrained note, I also got a little bit of time to tat the other week. This is a new pattern that I’ve been working on. Not there yet actually, but almost. And on that note, better run. More things to do.

Hope you had a good weekend too.

 

Stealing the sunshine

autumn tatting

I’ve got some time to myself today, so this is a speedy post. I’ve travelled a bit for work over the past few weeks (one train journey alone was 5.5hours) so I’ve had a bit of time to tat. I’ve been getting to grips with layered tatting (often called ANKARS, I think) and using the tiny beads I bought. This is made with coppery beads and one of my favourite variegated threads in size 80, bought from Yarnplayer. I love how autumnal these colours are. I must admit, it feels like work stole the summer, so I’m looking forward to autumn.

sunshine on tattingThis is a test tat. I found a Tina Frauberger vintage pattern and I’ve been trying to work out the stitch count. Basically the book is in German – and I didn’t have it with me on my travels, so I guessed what I could. It’s not bad. Having the image in front of me will help get it right though! The sun was starting to come out as I took this shot.

pink tatting in the sun

And the sun made it out for this one! Same pattern as the one above – also in size 80. Its interesting actually, the hand dyed thread is much more sturdy than this one, not sure why. I don’t know if it’s the same thread (DMC special dentelles) , and the dying makes it stiffer, or a different basic thread to begin with? Either way, I quite like the difference. I wish the regular undyed thread was a little stiffer.

Same motif tatted in different stitch counts

I decided to make the same motif in a different size. I have half a mind to tat another and then join them to make a necklace… except that I don’t wear pink, or necklaces. We shall see.

size of size 80 tatting thread

Here’s an idea of the size of the smaller one. I see a lot of tatted earrings about at the moment, and I know they’re done in thicker thread. I can only assume that they’re stiffer, but HUGE.

Anyway. On with the day! I’m off to try and make the most of it, for once 🙂

 

Making a (lacy, beady) mess

mess

My journey to work has changed in the last couple of months. These days I can’t guarantee a seat, and often I need to change trains. In the past I had an unbroken journey of at least 20 minutes within an hour-1.5 hour commute. This means no tatting time. I have missed it, mainly because I’ve watched myself become like everyone else… someone glued to their smartphone. I catch up on emails, reply to the ones I can, think about the ones I can’t, think about the work just passed and work out how the day will pan out tomorrow. To be honest, I don’t think it’s at all healthy. I think we could all use a break, but this is the future we have invented for ourselves. Always connected. Always able to think about work no matter where we are.

oops

Yesterday I had some time at home. I listened (somewhat ironically) to a BBC show, The Digital Human, while I worked on the tatting pattern I made a while back. I really love this blue with the yellow beads, and wanted to see how this would work out. Actually, I think the blue could be a little stronger, it’s very pale—and how did it work out? As I went to finish it today I spotted yesterday’s wrong join. Its not possible to save it, so it’s one for the chop. I’ll keep it for a few days and then cut it up I guess, to save the beads.

You know what? It’s no biggie. If there’s one thing about tatting with thin thread, it’s that you have to take the rough with the smooth.  I was definitely tatting this one for the process, not the product. I wanted to keep my hands busy and at the moment work is exhausting, so I didn’t have the brain power to work a sewing machine to complete anything more complicated.

simple

I had some thread to use up at the end of the shuttle so I tatted this. I love these tiny pieces. Just need to work out what to do with them…

more

I like them so much I made a couple more. Sometimes, small, simple and satisfying is what you need.

crown

I tried out a simple crown pattern too, still needs some work, and I may or may not work it out. We’ll see. I don’t need it for anything, just idle curiosity. I’m tempted to embellish them with embroidery maybe? Dunno.

So really, I have nothing much to show for a fair few hours tatting. This weekend it’s been all about the process and not the product. That said, I look at the mess in that photo, and I look at the sunny table full of thread, beads and lace where I was working and I think ‘that’s ok; its pretty, it’s my mess and it’s enough for now’. I’m pretty lucky.

And with that, I should go for a run. I’ve been putting it off  *all day*. (Although guys, cut me some slack, I did go yesterday 🙂 )

 

 

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.

 

Tatting, biscuits and running

small tatted rings

I haven’t had a chance to tat for *ages*. I’m not sure what on earth is going on with the trains but since the new year they’ve been late and/or overcrowded, which means no seat—which in turn means no tatting. I can, and have, tatted standing up on the train before, but recently the journeys have been the kind when you’ve needed to hold on with all your might and all your limbs.

tatted close up

That said, I’ve gone back to an old tactic over the last week or so. If there are two trains heading for home in the evening, I take the second one. The extra wait occasionally means there’s a slight chance of a seat. All of this is almost a moot point though, as I’m in the middle of changing jobs, so who knows what my new journey will be like..! We shall see. Anyway, I did some tatting!

size and scale

The one above is a tester. Forgive my horrible hand, but I thought it would be useful to get a sense of scale. As much as I love closeup shots, you can’t tell how big they are at all. For the record, they’re pretty small. This is size 80 thread. They’re lovely and solid though. In all but the testers, the rings interlock, which makes them feel quite sturdy. The one directly above was when I was wondering how to fix the last ring. The answer? Not like that! It needs to be a self closing mock ring.

thread and shuttle

Something about them makes me think of sea urchin shells, not sure why. Not even sure what I’ll do with them yet, but they’re really nice to tat (mindless, until the last two rings which is just what I need at the moment.)

So that’s that.

tatted experiments

In other news, I sent a little package of older tatting experiments off in the post to a friend and his three children. I dropped him a quick email to ask if his children were still at the gluing and sticking stage, and he replied that they were. These odds and ends are nice, but not perfect — just experiments with different threads, things that are almost ok but not quite… you know the kind of thing. Feels awful to throw them away, but you can’t think what to do with them. I think they’ll be great for collaging or scrapbooking or something, so off they went. He received them yesterday and seemed very happy, so that’s all good.

biscuits

Now, if you can work out what these are I will be AMAZED. Any ideas? No? Well, they’re biscuits baked in the shape of Nürburgring, which is, broadly speaking a race circuit in Germany. My boyfriend bought ‘me’ a cookie cutter in the shape of the track when he went on a visit for work. He finds it hilarious to buy me domestic gifts because, well, I’m just not that domesticated.

I do not bake — seriously, I am not a baker. I am however an eater. These are the first cookies/biscuits I have ever made, and they are delicious. The simplest recipe ever — but if I can help it I’ll never bake again. The main reasons for this being:
1) I know how much butter is in them
2) there would’ve been more had I not eaten a stack of the dough in the process (don’t panic, there are more than shown in the photo!)
3) see point 2

I have a lot of hobbies. I make all kind of things. A hobby that produces surplus sweet food seems like madness to me, I’ll end up the size of a house! (These were biscuits for his birthday.)

ON THE OTHER HAND, I went for an 8k run on Friday and a 7k one on saturday. Last year I completed my first, second and third 10k races. It was hard work, a lot of fun, and really good to have something away from work to strive for. I don’t think I’ve ever felt quite the sense of achievement as when I ran my first 10k. It was, frankly, amazing, and possibly the highlight of my year. This year it’s been harder to get out there. I was ill for a few weeks, I was injured for a few weeks, then I was ‘too busy’. A chance reading of this point from Night’s Watch made me buck my ideas up though. She’s running in ice and snow, and yet I can’t run in a slight chilly wind? Sheesh! So. I’m back on that again. I’m running super-slowly just to get out there and enjoy it at the moment. I’ll worry about speed in a month or so.

So that’s me up to date. (There was knitting but I frogged it. Hopefully next time).

Hope you’re well. Thanks for stopping by!