Monkey (and other) business

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I meant to post something here last week, but by the time I got around to getting started it was too dark to take any photos.

Another mixed bag this week – odds and ends of things. Above is my current train tatting – still on the daisies, but this time pink. I just loaded up the shuttles with what looked like a sensible about of thread, and will carry on until it runs out. It’s lovely to tat like this – there’s a few onion rings in there as leaves (not shown above), and a few standard daisies as well. It’s just a bit of meandering about, no set pattern, which is quite nice for a change. I was thinking about getting some gauze, the kind people makes scarves from, and tatting an edging for it… I thought it could be a good ongoing project, perhaps?

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In stark contrast, here’s a new drawstring bag I made! For christmas I received an extremely generous gift – a voucher for the Make Lounge. I spent a long time thinking about the type of class I’d like to take, and in the end, decided on screen printing. I wanted something that would be fun, but that I could possibly do at home. (I thought long and hard about sewing, but classes are all taught on an electric machine, and it felt weird being unfaithful to my Singer!) Then of course, I needed to think of something to print, so drew a monkey, and some elephants:

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Now, the thing with this type of screen printing is that you have to cut it by hand — and we didn’t have time to do repeat patterns, and so I adapted the characters a little on the night. (I prefer the planned monkey, but went a bit nuts and cut it differently by accident!) 

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Unlike everyone else, I took some calico with me, and screen printed a couple of extra prints. I wasn’t too sure – I’m still not too sure – what to do with them, but once you’ve got the screen working, seems a bit nuts not to make the most of it. I pre-washed the calico, and flippin’ eck, it’s not easy to iron, is it? Yes, I DID iron it while it was still damp, but to no avail. Amusingly, I saw that Patch had the same issues last week.

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They gave as a little bag to screenprint, which you can see on the left. It’s really cute – child sized. I also have a tea towel with a monkey on each end.

It was a great evening – amazing how fast you can relax and forget about work and all your troubles when you have something fun to do! I’m not sure if I will screen print at home – does require space, and creates a lot of mess, but it did get me thinking about lino printing, which I’ve not done since college, and used to love. I know you can do that with a roller for the ink and the back of a spoon for a press, so we shall see…

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And finally, I thought I’d use up a few scraps, and try a log cabin lavender bag. As you can see, this ended up rectangular rather than square as I decided it was getting too big. The patch with the ‘7685’ on it is the selvedge of the dotted fabric, which I quite like. It’s an odd little thing, but quite cute in real life. Now it lives in the monkey bag with the other scraps and makes them smell nice.

Hope you’re all having good weekends!

 

 

Odds n’ ends

hippy

Hello! I’ve had a few days off, weekends away, and various house guests, which is why I’ve been a bit quiet recently. I have been tatting a tiny bit, although not as much as I’d like – mainly as I can’t always get a seat on the train, which is where I usually tat. Spare evenings are still taken up with The Knitted Scarf, which is coming along nicely. (Although not without a fair bit of unpicking, whilst trying to watch Alien in the dark. Unpicking knitting is quite frustrating, isn’t it? Not so with crochet.)

Above is the trusty Stormtrooper, engaged in a bit of a scrap with some train end-of-shuttle doodles. I do like these daisy chains…

daisy chain

These are size 80 thread… I’ve not really decided what to do with them yet.

daisy2

They’re not that big. Perhaps the right size for a bracelet or a necklace, but a bit delicate. I’ll stitch them on to something, I think. Not sure what yet, but it would be nice to use them for something.

piggy post

This little piggy is currently in transit. He lived on the shelf for a little while, and then decided it was time to head out. I love making things for people – but I just can’t make them to order! Ages ago, after a lot of not-so-subtle hints, I made my friend and elephant. Her mum and I were with her when she opened it, and her mum really seemed to love it. I always meant to make her one too, and then time wore on and I forgot. As I was wondering what should become of the pig, it dawned on me that maybe she would like it, so off he popped in the post. Hopefully she’ll get it next week. It’s always a bit tricky as they’re not *that* sturdy, so they’re not really toys for very little kids. They’re shelf dwellers really, but they do like to be loved. I hope she likes him.

In other news, I went to Yorkshire for a few days which was lovely. I had a brilliant time (seaside, countryside, cream teas and brilliant company!). We went to Nunnington Hall, and spotted this lovely crewel work:

crewel

There were three panels, all quite large and they were beautifully done. They had chunky stitching and felt quite free-form, although they were carefully planned out with lighter stitches before they were filled in. I loved the feel of them though (visual – I didn’t touch them!) As I’ve said before, I’m not a needle worker, but I would potentially make an exception for something like this… Like I need another hobby!

Monkeys, crochet, tatting, sewing, triumph and failure

Finished monkey

Yes, this post has something for everyone. Or at least something for everyone who likes a bit of craft – otherwise, look away now.

I was of course making a pig, last time I posted. It’s still at the head stage, because the Ipad refuses to display the second page of the pattern, and I’ve not really been sitting at my other mac, which displays it perfectly. I will finish it, but over Easter as I was away visiting family, I grabbed two balls of yarn and a hook and decided I’d try out some yarn I bought for monkey making a while back.

Relaxing
(Look at her there – relaxing mid-photoshoot! Honestly. It was quite hard to get her to pay any attentional at all.)

The yarn was £2.00 a ball and is Rowan hand knit cotton. I must admit, I don’t love it for this kind of thing, I’ve decided. Two main reasons:
• I crochet really tightly anyway (which is actually very good for making toys) but it makes some yarns tough on the fingers – and this is one of them.
• The stitch definition is a bit too good! Its an odd negative, I know, but I think sometimes the fact it shouts ‘I’ve been crocheted!’ can really get in the way of the character of the toy. Something a little fuzzier is probably better.
While I was away, I made all the boring no-brainer bits: ears, mouth, hands, feet and I started on the rest of the head. I finished the head in the week and today I forced myself to make all the limbs and sew it together. Sewing of course, being the worst job of all.

Usually I put scarves on my monkeys, but today, with sore fingers, I couldn’t face crocheting anything else. Out of the blue I decided to make a dress instead. The monkey is actually an odd colour in real life, and just as I was about to chop up some linen, my head said ‘umm, you’re doing this in a rush, with no idea what you’re doing. Use something you don’t care about’. For once I listened and used a bit of old sheet instead. I must admit, I’ve done a dreadful job on the dress sewing! It’s appalling – and worse – the monkey is trapped inside. I had to sew her in, which is something I really don’t like (it’s sloppy, I think). Having said that – Look at her! She’s hilarious. As I sat down to sew her in, I spotted the crochet flower – it’s been knocking about on my desk for ages – I crocheted it in tatting thread a while back.

flower

I makes a big difference I think. Without it, she looks like she’s in very drab school uniform. Having said all that, I quite like the overall effect, and so I’m going to ponder on it all and probably remake the dress, but better. I did a quick google search before hand incidentally, and found this tutorial. It’s not brilliant, but gave me enough confidence to have a go. I didn’t pin anything or measure anything… it shows. Next time.

If you wanted to crochet your own monkey, I used this pattern again, and just personalised it a bit as I went. So that’s the crochet – and the sort of triumph, on to the tatting / sewing / failure next.

Before Easter I thought I would try making a ‘lunch bag’ style bag, to put tatting on. Most of the tutorials I’ve seen have all been for bags in one colour, but I wanted side panels on mine.

side panel

Only thing is, I also lined it, and by the time I’d finished, it doesn’t really fold over properly, which is really annoying. I think it’s all too small for the thickness of the fabric.

fold

I know it needs a button – but even with it, it’s a very clumsy looking thing – so back to the drawing board on that one.

Also, I’ve been trying out using tatting for a brooch – and I’m not keen on that either!
brooch

This is it 3/4 done – but I’m still thinking about whether to finish it or take it apart. I made the edging in the week (my own pattern, for once) – but it’s really there to hide the fact the circle isn’t perfect. So… how do people make and hem circular brooches? Actually, even as I typed that I think I probably know the answer to that one. They’re better at sewing than me 🙂

Never mind. You don’t know these things till you try ’em.

In other more exciting news – I’m learning to knit! I asked specifically for no chocolate this Easter, and so instead of an egg, my mum gave me a massive ball of practise yarn, a pair of needles and some of her time in teaching me. She’s a brilliant knitter, but doesn’t enjoy it, so it was very sweet of her to put herself through it. What a lovely present. I’ve been forcing myself to get that monkey finished all week, so I can get on with trying to knit a scarf! I’ve got the basics of knit and perl, and I can just about cast on and off (with a bit of prompting). Needless to say I have grand ambitions but like all these things, *trying* to take it one step at a time.

Phew.

Tiny crochet flowers

Hello – it’s been a wee while, but I am still here. I’ve managed to lose the charger for my camera, so have to wait until I can twist someone’s arm to take shots for me at the moment, and luckily, today was the day.

After making the charm I mentioned in my previous post, I got a bit addicted. I switched the pattern to one I found for crocheted coasters, and with a bit of adjustment, found they work really nicely as a little bracelet:

bracelet

I tried it with more than two flowers – but it gets a bit too much. One or two flowers works best I think.

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Only problem with that is that they are really addictive. If you’ve made one, before you know it you’ve made at least four. I was using DMC size 12 and size 80 thread – the blue variegated one is hand dyed thread, from Yarnplayers store. (I actually bought it for tatting but am in the middle of a project using an ecru thread, and was itching to try it!).

Aside from that, I’ve been wrestling with these baby moccasins. The pattern is great – but I’m having huge problems finding suitable wool, for some reason. I made one shoe with wool I thought would be ok, in the biggest size, on a bigger hook, and it was still a bit… flat. So ditched that, bought some new wool, which is lovely – but I still think it could do with being thicker. (The laces are also too long – ignore that for now).

shoe

I’m really in two minds about this. It’s ‘ok’ – but I hate the thought of giving people something ‘ok’ that they’re then forced to be enthusiastic over. Do you know what i mean? I’d rather not give people something that’s secretly a bit rubbish. We’ll see.

Aside from that, I’m making a bigger piece of tatting on my daily commute (a Mary Konior repeat pattern) and a crochet hook case, which I’m just about to block, before I attempt to sew the inside… It’s my first sewing machine project, and a chance to try out my reconditioned hand-cranked Singer, so wish me luck… (I’m scared of sewing machines). Oh! Also, I managed to get to April’s Ravelry meet, which was really nice. I really hope I can make a few more this year.

How does your tatting grow?

As I mentioned in my last post, the garden has been going nuts recently. We’ve had a ton of hot weather in the UK – and the occasional heavy rain shower – so everything has been growing like crazy. A few months ago I potted up some cheap bedding plants, kept my fingers crossed I’d find someone to water them when I was working away, and tried to ignore the fact that the rest of the garden looks terrible. Well, the rest of the garden still does look terrible, but the bedding plants looks amazing. They make me smile every day. I nipped out there just a minute ago to take a picture, and look what I found…

Tatted flower

If I’d known tatting was that easy to grow, I’d’ve done it earlier!

Tatted flowers 2

It is, of course, the centre of a Primrose Path doily, by Mary Konior. It’s the only bit of tatting I managed to do on my days off, which is a bit of a shame, but couldn’t be helped. It’s really pretty though, even if I do say so myself. I used the Shoe Lace Trick (SLT) on this a lot, because I wanted the centre rings to be the darker colour, and it worked really well. One of those things I’d read about before but wasn’t 100% sure I could see a use for.

I’ve earmarked this for someone as it is, because I think they might be able to make something quite nice out of it, and the full doily really is best left as a doily rather than a starting point for something else. (If that makes any sense?) I still intend to make the full thing though.

venus thread

I mentioned before I’d bought the Venus Thread in size 70 to try it out… and umm, I really don’t like it! I love the soft greys, but the thread produces rings that are really difficult to close – does anyone else find this? I abandoned the intended 2 colours, shown above, and thought I’d make my life (and my commute, which is where I tatt most) easier, by just using one ball and one shuttle. We’ll see if I make it through!

I also bought Jon’s Tatting with Rings book a little while ago. I purchased the PDF version (which arrived very promptly via email) and printed it all out asap. It looks wonderful – now I just need the time to start! Since having a few days off everything has become 10 times busier, which means… I’d better get back to it actually.

No rest for the wicked. (And clearly, I’ve been very wicked).