Tatting, embroidery, colourwork and a swatch

urchins

Hello! Just a quick and varied update… I actually made this a while ago, but haven’t had a chance to post it here. It’s a lavender bag — of course — made with the little tatted ‘urchins’ and some simple embroidery. I often think this kind of fabric is too open, but it’s perfect for a lavender bag as it keeps the lavender in and lets the scent out.

lavender

Here’s a rather terrible picture of the whole thing. I used a linen strip at one end, and it’s also backed with linen. I quite like the more geometric nature of this, and when you see it in real life, it’s quite delicate. I was thinking of the running stitches of shashiko when I made it, which is yet another thing I quite fancy trying but haven’t had any time for…

beads

This was a quick experiment from this morning. The stitch count needs adjusting but it seems to work. Basically I’d not tatted around a central bead before so I wanted to try that. I think it’s ok on this thread (still the thread from Katy!) but anything thinner will probably be too much- it ends up disappearing inside the bead. These yellow beads I bought on a whim. They’re ridiculously bright, but they feel really ‘springy’ –  we’ve had daffodils and primroses recently, and there’s currently bright yellow dandelions everywhere. There’s also loads of bluebells in the woods, which are a complete delight:

bluebells

I’m using the bluebells as a bribe to get myself running regularly. It’s so lovely to run in the woods — we’ve had a little spell of sunny weather in the UK and the light through the trees, the bright blue flowers, and the smell of spring has been fantastic.

colourwork

That aside, I’m also doing a little knitting experiment. I thought I would try colourwork in the round as I need another case for a phone. I have an iPhone already and the new job insists I also have a Blackberry. It’s all very formal on occasion, and I kind of like to amuse myself with slightly terrible bits of hand knitting in my bag. I’m making this up as I go, both the structure and the pattern. Already I’m worried that the pattern is far too big for the size of pouch I need, so I’ll probably have to adapt it. I’m also worried  that the final thing will be too tight—but not *that* worried to be honest—if it doesn’t work I’ll use something else. The job itself is stressful enough with out worrying about hobbies aswell!

swatch

There’s also this, which I’m pretty sure is one of the loveliest things you’ve seen all day, right? I actually took this last week, its a swatch gauge for what *will* become my first knitted garment. I don’t know why but starting it seems terrifying and so I keep putting it off. It’s this Boardwalk pattern from Brooklyn Tweed. Everyone (on Ravelry) seems to find it really easy but… I’m just being an idiot. I just need to get on with it.

So there we have it. There is a bit more which I’ve not had time to write about, but nothing that can’t wait. Hope you’ve all had good weekends (long weekends here in the UK) and that whatever you’re doing is fun, tricky enough to be interesting but not tricky enough to make you worry about it 🙂

See you soon.

 

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.

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.

 

Knitting school!

knitting_1

Hello! It feels like it’s been ages since I posted here, which is not intentional. The house is still chaotic, work is nuts, everything is all over the place, but… Lets not talk about all that now! One of the great things about a crafty blog is that it’s a nice chance to get away from all that.

So.

I went to knitting school! At the end of last year I decided that it would be good to just learn the things I needed to know from a human being, instead of YouTube. I’ve taught myself a lot from YouTube (and will no doubt continue to) but I just thought, ‘go learn on some samples and THEN worry about making something. Stop not making things because they sound impossible.’ Also, hobbies are supposed to be fun, right? I thought it might be fun.

IT WAS GREAT. Three Saturdays in a row, from 10.30-4.30 with an hour for lunch. A nice small class of five people and one lovely teacher.  Claire is the editor of Inside Crochet, and she’s also written a variety of knitting and crochet books. If you’re in London and wanted to learn knitting (or crochet), I don’t think you could have a better teacher. She’s super-patient, the lessons are really well planned and I came away with a stack of reference material and a much better understanding of what I’m doing.

knitting_3

The course was for intermediate knitters. People who know how to knit and purl and are wondering what to do next. The two photos above are from the first week, where we looked at increases and decreases, and then applied that to lace. We made lots of small samples — learning by doing, which is the best way for a practical subject.

knitting_2

These are two samples from week two, where we looked at cables, and knitting in the round. I’ve been wanting to knit cables for ages. It’s nice to know they’re achievable! For knitting in the round we used circular needles and DPNs. I’ve made a baby hat, but can’t get a decent shot of it at the moment (no space in the house due to builders). I bought some Addi circular needles, and finally realised what people mean when they say how much they like a particular type of needle. These are SO nice to use it’s almost like a doing different craft. Amazing.

knitting_4

This is from yesterday when we looked at Fair Isle, Intarsia and also different cast on/off methods. There are a few more samples but I’ve tucked them away in my reference folder. So, all in all, lots of good lessons learnt! I’ve become addicted to Ravelry again, trying to decide what to make next. I cannot wait for the building work to be finished so I can actually get to my needles.

crochet

These little chaps are off to new homes soon. The poor bear has been hanging around hoping for a new family for a long time, and the mouse arrived the other week. I hate to say it, neither of them are perfect, but I have found a place that will make them welcome, I think. I spotted this appeal from the Lincolnshire Police. They’re after knitted and crochet bears (I hope they don’t mind the mouse!) to: “…console children involved in a road traffic accident until emergency services can deal with the accident situation.  They help to keep children calm in what is sometimes a frightening experience.”

What a lovely thing to do for kids in a horrible situation! So these two will be off soon. They look rather nervous, I must admit but I think this is the reason:

crochet2

The house is so upside down at the moment that some of the kitchen and all of the hall is in our bedroom. This is the only space available to take a photograph! I think they were concerned they were about to get crushed.

I hope you’re all doing ok and if you’re in the UK you’re staying safe and dry. See you soon, I hope!

 

 

Cloudy with a chance of knitting

Blanket

First finished project of the year… Although I did in fact start it last year. This is the Maxi Cosi baby blanket I started in November. It’s a simple pattern, but it really did take a while…

blanket_2

To begin, if you make it exactly as per the pattern, it’s tiny—dollsized, really. So I started several times to try and get it to an acceptable width (in the end I cast on 175 – the pattern suggests 96). Then I realised the needles I was using were just too short, so I had to order more. I also went up a size as I knit really tightly. Around this time I realised why crocheted baby blankets are so popular – doesn’t matter how long the hook is and boy, do they work up quicker! The pattern is nice, but I think I’m not in love with garter stitch borders. Maybe I’m just not a good enough knitter yet for them to look good.

blanket_3

There are several versions on Ravelry with fabric backs. I’m not sure why but I really do like the mix of fabric with knitting, so I scoured various fabric shops online for something that would be nice for a baby. In the end I thought clouds would be nice – dreamy and peaceful, which is what you hope for a baby… even if it’s not what you actually *get*. I blocked the blanket with wires before I added the fabric to the back.

blanket_43

I must admit, I love this fabric. It’s from Cloud 9, by Eloise Renouf. I took a real chance on the colour working with the yarn, but in the end I think it was a successful gamble. It’s bright and cheery, but not too garish. We’re in the process of having our kitchen done at home, which means we have no flat surface in the house — even the floor is a little tricky. In the end I managed to cut the fabric on the floor and the ironing board and I stitched it on my knee yesterday. I was worried that the stitching would  be hard, but in the end I think it was one of the more enjoyable parts of the project, as it really made it come to life.

It has yet to be gifted… Hopefully that will come soon.

Its been a bit tough to make anything recently. The trains into work are so delayed and disorganised at moment when they do arrive they’re overcrowded, so I rarely get a seat, so no tatting. The house is so up in the air there’s no room or time for anything else. Hopefully at least one of these problems will be fixed soon.

 

2013; tatting, sewing, travel and monkeys

tatting with beads
Well, hello! Happy new year to you and yours!

If you’re a WordPress user you’ll’ve received an end-of-year review of your blog. I was shocked to see that I’d only posted 19 times last year! I thought surely I’ve been busier than that? I’ve never done my own end-of-year post before, but as it’s nice and warm inside and horrible out there I thought today might be the time to start, so here goes. A quick look at what I actually did do last year…

Tatting
As you can see above, this was the year of the bead! I found a hook small enough to work with seed beads and size 80 threads, and there’s been no stopping me! I also finally worked out how to get the beads to pop above the chain rather than in them. It seems once I’d started, I couldn’t stop.

r_self
I also decided to try and work on my own patterns this year. Admittedly I only ever got to do this on the work commute, and refused to use a pen to plan things out first, so I only got this far, but I had fun anyway! I finished an edging pattern, which I made available here – and I even spotted someone using it. I do plan to continue working on my own designs this year, so we’ll see how that goes.

Trips abroad
This was another year where living in Europe brings huge benefits! Nice places to visit and nothing to far away. I was lucky enough to visit (clockwise from top left):

Barcelona –  A lovely, relaxed trip with old work colleagues who have become friends. A visit to the Sagrada Familia was a real treat; it’s the first time I’ve been back since the new windows and roof were finished. The colours and shapes are really breathtaking.

Skelleftea, Sweden, for work. This was a beautiful place, and the first time I’ve experienced 24 hour daylight! I was made so incredibly welcome too, met some really interesting people and had some great food.

r_travel
Venice – one of my best friends lives in a town just outside Venice, and so I spent a week with him. A great week of hanging out, visiting the Biennale, and enjoying/melting in the boiling sunshine.

France – my partner’s family live here, and so we visited his family for Christmas. The photo is taken in Villebois-Lavalette. I love this chateau – it looks a little bit like one you might draw for a children’s book.

Monkeys
Yes indeed, where would we be without crocheted monkeys? They continue to be my go-to gift, although I have a feeling I might’ve made everyone I know a monkey soon! I actually made 5 in total, I think – there’s a twin for the one on the top right. I also made two bears.

r_monkeys

Sewing
The reason I started using a sewing machine originally was to try and make use of my tatting. My obsession with lavender bags didn’t abate in 2013 as you can see! I’m still not sure there’s a straight edged one among them.

I also tried my hand at embellishing with embroidery, which on reflection, I like a lot. I used the piece on the top right for a bag.

r_sew

And finally, I managed to shorten a very light pair of curtains, and finish my second quilt. Phew!

Maybe 2013 was busier than 19 posts suggests? If you stuck it out this far, thank you for indulging me. And now, I *think* it’s stopped raining for 5 minutes. I’m going to rush out for a short, damp run, while I can. When I get back, I still have a friends baby blanket to finish.

RUN!

Speedy tatted snowflakes

tatted ring

I know everyone says this every single year, but really… Where does December go? It’s there one minute and a minute later it’s the last Christmas post and too late to make anything! Every year I plan to make snowflakes to send and it’s always stressful as I leave it so late. I did manage to send out three – which I didn’t have time to photograph (two were Jon Yusoff‘s patterns). The extra one above I finished this morning.

I think I said this last year; that I would make a surplus of snowflakes over Christmas and save them to send *next* year. I might actually do that. We shall see. That said, I’m still trying to knit that baby blanket. It’s grown a little bit since I last posted, but not really enough to write home about. It’s going to be my Christmas/New year project — I should be able to work on it and chat at the same time. I hope so anyway.

So this is just a speedy post as I wont get a chance to post again before Christmas. I just wanted to say a quick thank you for the lovely comments and likes of the last year – it’s so nice to know people are out there! Thank you for your encouragement.

Hope whatever your religion you get a chance to rest and relax a bit, and if rest isn’t on the cards, then I hope you get to enjoy some family time (which I think we all know is rarely restful!) Happy holidays.

 

 

 

Quilt Two: done!

QuiltSo, I’ve finished my quilt at last! It was so close to being finished last Sunday night. I had about 20 cm of hand binding to finish, but needed to reload the needle, and it was just too late in the evening. I finally managed to get the time today.

There are some spectacularly wonky lines on it, which I’ll try and avoid showing you, but despite that I actually really like it. Don’t get me wrong, it really does have issues with wonky quilting, but I know for a fact that I just couldn’t’ve done it any better on the little machine I was using. And more to the point, I really enjoyed making this, which is the point of it all… right?

quilt close upThe colours are very different to the previous one — that was all browns and more natural colours. I’ve used up some of the brown from that one on this too, but mixed it with turquoise, pink and grey. I actually had most of this fabric knocking around the house — except for the dark outer border, which I bought after a rather stressful search at the knitting and stitching show. Who would think it would be THAT hard to buy dark grey fabric with a subtle pattern? Sheesh! You’d think I was looking for the still-glowing feathers of a flaming firebird! (I’ve been reading Russian fairytales recently). Thankfully my shopping buddy spotted it right at the end of the day and solved all my problems.

quilt distanceWhen I planned this out, it was more evenly tonally spaced, but every time I packed up sections after a session, I packed it differently, so every time I had to lay it all out again from scratch! (I know, I know. Can’t be organised *all* the time.) It was patched together using the 9 patch block umm… plan. So three rows of three and then stitched up from there. I like this as a technique – and there’s a million tutorials on YouTube for it.

back

This is a rather terrible shot of the back — but you get the general idea. I was doing everything I could do use up what I had. I’m not 100% sure the blue-grey goes with it, but quilts are supposed to be a *bit* mix and match… aren’t they?

bindingThis is the ladder stitch I used to hand bind the back. I came across this tutorial, which is so simple, obvious and great. Previously I’d just used whip stitch or ‘tiny stitches’ as some tutorials say, but this is so much better! Seriously, you can hardly see the stitches. I’m not sure what it is, but binding is my favourite thing about the look of quilts. (Not the making of). There’s something about a quilt’s binding that just makes it look extra cosy:

binding 2

This is both quilts together – I use the pinwheel quilt a lot in the evenings when it’s a bit chilly. Slightly worried that my boyfriend has started calling the new one ‘his’. I did say I’d make him one – not sure this is it though…

bothNow – the reason I made this quilt in squares is because I bought this at the quilting show earlier this year, with some birthday money from my Mum:

fringe maker

Sorry – terrible photo, the light’s been all over the place today. It’s a fringe maker, and I got mine from the quilting show, but it looks like you can get them on Amazon too. Oh my god – if you’re anything like me and can’t measure things or hate measuring things—or if by the time you’ve cut it it’s nothing like the piece you actually measured, this is AMAZING. It’s got a slit for your rotary cutter every 1/2 inch. Just line up the edges with the edge of your fabric and away you go. I love it. (They’re not paying me to say this, but I wish they would.) It made chopping up the squares for the quilt super-easy. So there you have it. Get one.

Other things learnt while making the quilt:
• Quilting straight lines is harder than quilting wiggly ones. I reckon people quilt wiggles as a get-out-of-jail-free card 😉
• If you’re rubbish at quilting, all-colour quilts make life harder. The pinwheel quilt looks neater in real life, because I quilted in cream, on the cream sides of the pinwheels. This time, there was no colour thread that was ideal as it had to cross both light and dark colours. This means that when your lines are wonky, they’re more noticeable.
• Use ladder stitch for binding.

blanketNow I need to get back to knitting a baby blanket. This has been a real pain. The cotton is really splitty, and… I dunno. It’s just been misbehaving. Trust me.

Also, like a lot of tatters at this time of the year, I’m furiously tatting christmas snowflakes! Panic!

See you soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hooked on beads

Lavender bag pink

After tatting a million versions of my own pattern, I sat down to make this a few weeks ago, missed off  a ring and ended up with a more open wreath shape than I was expecting. I stuck with it though, and I think it’s fine (not perfect, but fine). I added the beads to this as I stitched it, which in some instances, I think I prefer…

White lavender bagThis is my own pattern tatted correctly this time – you can see how much tighter it is, and again I added the beads as I stitched it. This is tatted in size 80.

mini cushionBoth of these are made with envelope backs, and both have a little strip of fabric across the opening, which I quite like. I think I like this method for lavender bags actually, but it does take a bit more time – and you have to make a little cushion of the lavender to go inside. I was really tired when I sewed these together though and managed to completely confuse myself. I made such a nice neat hem for the inside piece (the one under the coloured one), so tiny – and then stitched it on back to front so the hem is inside and the rough edge faces outside! You win some you lose some.

bagsI think they look fine though.  I worked on the pattern so much there’s actually another two to come in different colours! I just need to stitch them first.

flowers

I’d always thought that certain methods of using beads wouldn’t be possible as I like to use size 80 thread, and the beads that work best with it are tiny. Certain methods — like you can see in the picture here — require you to pull a loop of thread up through a seed bead, with a hook. How on earth do you find a hook small enough to go through a seed beed? The answer? By accident.

hook(Excuse my gluey finger – I’d previously been doing some DIY). I bought this hook from Jane Eborall. To be honest, when I bought it I don’t think I’d really grasped *quite* how small it was. If you try and look at it when it’s in your hand — really look at it — you go cross eyed! It’s absolutely weeny. It’s so tiny that when it arrived I wasn’t that  sure I’d use it, which is a massive shame, as I really like it. As a day to day hook it can split the thread, but I was thinking about beads recently and suddenly it hit me! I HAVE A HOOK THAT MIGHT WORK! And lo and behold, it is *perfect*. So, thank you Jane – thank you for emailing me when they arrived in your shop, and thank you for knowing what I needed better than I did!

Now I just need to work on some patterns with beads – but I feel like a whole new world has opened up! There is of course a downside — tiny tiny beads don’t mix that well with bumpy train rides, which is where I tat the most. But I’ll work on that.

Have a great weekend!