tatting

Keeping busy

I can’t help but think people with hobbies are the lucky ones. People who can get absorbed in something they love for hours at a time, figuring out how something works, how to get something right, or just building up to a steady rhythm. Doesn’t matter what the hobby is, if you can do it in your own home and you have the equipment, you’re one of the lucky ones.

I took up crafting again as an adult for various reasons. But I kept it up for my mental health. In the past my partner travelled for work a lot, so I’d go for weekends, half a week, or a week or two without seeing people outside of work. Not talking to anyone from a Friday night to a Monday morning. Crafting, making things, helped give a rhythm or focus to what sometimes felt like a never-ending stretch of time.

And despite the fact that he stopped travelling a few years back (right around the time I started – although I too have now stopped) I’ve kept the crafting up, more or less. I like having a focus outside of work. I like starting things and finishing them. I still think the daily grind of an office job provides very little satisfaction when it comes to finishing things. Making stuff of your own helps with that.

Even if the things you’re making aren’t that useful… I haven’t tatted anything in ages, but I made this at the weekend:

tatting

I enjoyed it, although the mistakes are a bit annoying. I really love the rhythm of shuttle tatting. Such a nice motion. I got a bit obsessed with the brilliant tatters on instagram for a while – they’re all very good, and so much more talented than I am. But at the end of the day, this is a job for a lot of them. It’s not a job for me. There’s no harm in settling down in a cup of tea and following someone else’s pattern. What I want isn’t to be the best ever pattern designer, it’s just to feel the motion of the thread and the shuttle in my hands. I’m still amazed I can make something like this at all. And all just from a ball of thread and some knots! Amazing.

And there’s still knitting. This one still needs the rest of her outfit. She has a really sweet face that I’ve not managed to capture in this photo, but I’m really pleased with her actually. And I like her white ear.

spare_pair

While I was making her some trousers I made another pair too. I have other animals to make as gifts, so I thought I’d go into batch production mode.

messy

The kitchen table is a mess. That’s 4 pairs of arms, one body, one finished foot and one foot in progress on the needles. For some reason I thought making multiples of each body part would be a good idea. I’m not sure if it was or not. Jury’s out. I think I need to make 2 rabbits, but then I had the idea that I’d like to make a silver fawn. Felt like the grey and the white together would look nice. We’ll see.

I’m still looking for the perfect shawl pattern. I can’t believe how much I’m enjoying wearing the shawl I made. I’d still like it to be a faction bigger, but now it’s been worn a bit it’s loosening and softening up nicely. I like this cowl – it looks like a decent kind of length, but I’m not sure about colourwork in the round. I’m half tempted to just try it with some stash yarn for a few rows and see how annoying I find it. I like this patterned cowl too – literally that one, I think the colours are great. But again, I’m still not sure how up for that much colourwork I am… We’ll see.

What are you making? Whether you’re super productive or super unproductive I hope you’re finding a rhythm that suits you. Stay safe and well.

 

 

A bear (left) behind

How on earth is it December? What a weird year. I can hardly remember… well, the summer even. It feels like so long ago. This year feels like it’s been 5 years in 12 months, without time to catch a breath. A never-ending stream of things that needed to be done. I’m not sure why, but it’s been a restless year. There’s been no rhyme or rhythm to it.

no_nose_bear

I haven’t had a lot of time to make anything, so the things I have made have happened a bit sporadically. I had a huge panic about the yarn I have just sitting around in boxes, so I made this wee bear, but she never got her own blog post.

Made from Lorna’s Laces sock yarn, she’s actually a really nice size. I think sock yarn could be a good weight for toys. I don’t love the stripes (bit busy), but they’re not as bad as they could be. The pattern (as is often the case) is from Little Cotton Rabbits.  In this photo she has no nose (how does she smell?! etc). I ummed-‘n’-ahhed a lot about whether or not to give her a nose, and seeing this photo I’m still not sure it was the right thing. I think she looks quite cute without it.

with_nose

Here she is with a nose, and with my favourite elephant for a size comparison. And here she is larking around with the rest of the gang…

gang

The dress was another random make to try and get rid of some cotton I don’t really like! To be honest it doesn’t really fit her – and nor does this pink jumper. Both a bit too big.

pink

I really did think about buying more yarn to make her some clothes, even though the whole point of making her was to use up yarn in the first place. As I type there are 2 arms, 2 legs, a body, 2 ears and an almost finished elephant’s head in the kitchen, using up more of the yarn stash. I think I started that in August maybe, but I just haven’t had any time to finish it off.

markers

I did finally make a human sized jumper though! But it was for a very small human. A friend had a baby, and it seemed like a sensible, and hopefully nice thing to make a little jumper. There were a lot of stitch markers involved which almost gave me a nervous breakdown in the beginning, but once I got going, really helped.

progress

There’s a small cable down the front, which made it a bit more interesting to knit. The sleeves were a horror though – I just could not get nice purled cuffs when I was knitting in the round. I was on DPNs (ie, not using the magic loop on circulars) and I’m not sure if it’s just harder on DPNs or I was doing something really wrong, but after 3 attempts, I decided to go for ribbed cuffs. (You don’t even want to know about the language that got me through this phase.) After a severe bit of blocking it turned out ok, I think. Not perfect, but just about ok enough to gift.

blocked

Actually the mother of the recipient wrote me an incredibly nice thank you note. The baby is still a bit small to wear this (it’s for 3-6 months I think) so we’ll all have to wait a bit longer to see if it’s actually functional at all!

I recently moved house. And I also recently had to go away for a week for work. Could I find my tatting bag? No I could not. It’s somewhere in the house purposefully placed so I can find it easily. WHERE THOUGH?! Where is it? I just can’t figure it out. This means I travelled with nothing but a book for entertainment, which must be the first time in years. Tatting is so small, you can always find room for it so I take it with me almost everywhere. It feels weird not having shuttles to hand even if I haven’t been tatting for a while. I’ll have to start yet another hunt. I haven’t made a single tatted snowflake this year.

And on that note, I should go. There are obviously, more Things That Need To Be Done. I hope that wherever you are, you have a good holiday season, and a great new year!

 

 

 

 

As predicted…

bunny_1

I’m really not feeling that great. I’ve been waking up around 4am every night for the last seven days with coughing fits. It’s getting really wearing. I’m kind of ok in the day, just this ridiculous chest cough at night. It’s steadfastly refusing to turn into something more, (like a proper cold) and just wearing me down bit by bit. Really tedious.

Anyway. That coupled with general ‘fear of starting a proper project’ and ‘oh my god, how did you end up with so much yarn?’ made me think I should take it easy yesterday and use up some more of the orange.

bunny_2

Actually when you pair this orange with white, it’s nowhere near as horrible. If you pair it with anything else it’s either too milky (It’s Rowan Wool Cotton – they’re all kind of milky) or just too… orange. Perils of buying yarn online I think.

I made this bunny’s head last year but wasn’t thrilled with it. Yesterday I thought ‘use up more yarn! Do something easy, lazy and finish-able!’ And so I decided to finish this off. It is, of course, a Little Cotton Rabbits pattern. I have a feeling it might be one of the first ones that Julie (the designer) made available.

While I was knitting it, I thought many things, mostly:
• Oh my god, what have you become? You’re knitting an egg cosy. Are you like, 90?
• Umm, are you sure this is going to actually fit an egg? You know you knit really tightly,right?
• Friend [X] keeps chickens and has 2 which produce tiny eggs. You can give this to her! It’ll be O.K.
• Damn it! How is it even possible we have no eggs in the fridge?

bunny_3

At 4.45am this morning I thought I should just get up, because lying down really wasn’t cutting it. As I made some honey and lemon what did I see in the fridge?! We did have eggs after all!

I did a little photoshoot there and then. It does it fit, just about – and you know what? I love it. It’s ridiculous, but I love it. I might even make another one. It’s really cheered me up.

 

Fidgeting

I can’t think of a better word to describe my current crafting status. After a year of knitting lots of toys from Little Cotton Rabbits patterns, I’ve free fallen (is that a phrase?) into a few months of not being sure what to make next.

tatting_1

I decided I should sew some of the pieces of tatting I have lying around on to fabric – an example of which is shown above.The creases in the fabric are a rather desperate attempt to sew this on straight. Honestly, sewing really is not one of my main skills. (I think my main one is eating, to be frank.) This actually looks better in real life – it’s almost perfectly monochrome, which I really like.

tatting_2

This is wonkier. It’s ok – but I think I would be happier if it were a little more regular. One exciting thing though, I had to travel for work the other week and had a free Sunday in a foreign town. I took my jet-lagged self off for a long walk to a craft shop and bought myself some beading needles! The one in the photo is a regular needle, and it only fits through 40% of the beads. I have higher hopes for the beading needles!

tatting_3

This is actually a project I took on the plane for the trip. In the end I slept (badly) and only got 10 minutes to work on this in the hotel one morning. It’s finished (not in this photo) but I’ve not done anything with it yet. If you’re the tatting type, the overlapping rings were made alternately, (back ring / front ring / back ring etc). Previously I’ve made the back rings first and tatted the top rings second. It’s neater doing them alternately, but much tighter in the centre if you make the back rings first/ front rings second (is this making any sense?). It’s not a major revelation but… thought I’d share it anyway.

I’m in the middle of remaking this in red thread. It’s a fantastic colour and looks great on black, but my phone camera has no idea what to do with such intense colours. I’ll work out how to take a photo if it ends up looking ok when it’s finished.

blue

I did finish this chap’s trousers. He’d been waiting a long time as I made him when I was living in Athens! The jumper was made at new year. He’s quite nice, even if I do say so myself. Trying to work out where he should live.

experiment

This one was a bit of an experiment, combining bits from different patterns really. I want to make a small rabbit and felt it (just in the washing machine). I’ve not felted this as it was made from old stash yarn and I can’t completely remember what it’s made of. The head was made on DPNs and I *think* I made the body flat and stitched it. I say ‘think’ because the join is so good, I sort of can’t see it – and seriously, I don’t think I’m that good at mattress stitch. It possible pixies came in over night and sewed this one up for me.

small_bunny

A confession: I hate this orange cotton.
A fact: so does this grey rabbit.

I tried so hard to work out a jumper that might fit him, but I have no idea how jumpers really work. Eventually I managed to make this dress, and the grey rabbit absolutely refused to wear it. After all that effort, someone had to wear it, so the other one finally got some clothes.

But what next? Well, tatting, but that’s just small odds and ends at a time. The next project is going to be a human sized jumper. I don’t have high hopes actually but I will try. This one is top down (ages ago I tried something which was bottom up, and didn’t finish it). I’m hoping that being able to try it as I go might mean I can make something human-wearable. We shall see. I needed to buy a new length circular needle which I’m hoping might arrive in time for the weekend. If not… maybe another Little Cotton Rabbit?
¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

 

 

 

Another catch up!

tatting_red

Sooooo… it’s been ages. I keep wanting to write something and then also wanting to spend my spare time as far away from the computer as possible. But I decided to bite the bullet – which also means on 23 Jan 2017 (which is my time zone, but clearly not WordPresses!), I get to wish anyone who is still out there a very happy new year!

This is a whirlwind tour of general stuff to get me back into the habit of posting again. Above is a little motif I made just before Christmas. I had some red thread already on a shuttle waiting to be used up. I didn’t like this thread originally (the pink really is pink) but it’s grown on me at last.

scandi_santa

This is a Scandinavian Santa (Ravelry link) that I made before Christmas. Actually, for me personally he’s harder than he looks! I’m not great at intarsia, but I really like him. I made a tiny alteration to the pattern in that I continued the top of his head as an icord and carried it over to make a hook. I like it. I did not like the one I made in red acrylic and ironed though. Especially not after he melted. Ahem.

roxy

After Christmas some friends and I went away for New Year. It’s become a tradition to get together, watch films, eat nice food and play board games for a few days. To get away from the world, relax and not worry about the horror that is new years eve and have to work out where on earth we’re supposed to go for the best time EVER. There’s a weird pressure for NYE and this takes it all away.

I think I really needed the break this year. I really relaxed and enjoyed every minute of it. I can’t say I didn’t check work emails, but I left the responses that were longer than a few lines until I got home.

cinema

The place we rented was amazing. It had its own private cinema! Above is a picture of the bar and above that the entrance to the cinema. It’s actually open to the public as a not-for-profit cinema at certain times of the year, but when it’s not in use, guests at the house can use it.

library

And this is a slight panoramic view of the library. It’s actually not original – all put in by the current owners, but it was such a lovely room. A proper mix of old and new books (which looked like they’d been bought to be read, not for show) and a comfy sofa and chairs. I snuck in there late at night for a bit of quiet time on my own and did a little knitting…

aran

Little being the operative word. I made this jumper (above) as I have one bunny that is still waiting to be clothed. (Ravelry link for the pattern.)

blue_bunny

And FINALLY this one has been gifted. I finished her late last year but only got to give her to her rightful owner last week. She’s a wedding gift to an old school friend. She got married last summer, with dyed blue hair, wearing a studded leather jacket and carrying a Lulu Guinness disco ball handbag. Admittedly her handbag was a little more sophisticated than the bunny’s but you can’t have everything. She has a little skull bead on the front go her dress as my friend’s engagement ring has a skull either side. She was very well received and I believe is happy in her new home! (Incase you don’t know the bunny pattern is Little Cotton Rabbits.)

cable

I received Norah Gaughan‘s Knitted Cable Sourcebook for Christmas (it’s really nice). This is my first attempt at a scarf using one of the cable patterns. As it happens, the cable was fine – it’s really not a hard repeat even though it looks a little complicated. I hate the edges though. Also this isn’t wool so I don’t think any sense can be blocked/knocked into it. It’s half frogged as I type. I’ll come up with a better plan for the edges, and do a basic panel either side, I think. Just needs 10 minutes of concentration to come up with a proper plan.

colours

I took this photo over new year, because I really like the colours. It’s one of the first times I’ve had a photo in the back of my mind when deciding what to do with my tatting:

beaded

I know – not the same but sometimes you have to work with what you’ve got! The photo inspired me to pick the black beads for the centre, and actually I think they work quite well… even if I do say so myself.

So there we are. All caught up… Ah, except for one thing. Remember my first Little Cotton Rabbit? The one I couldn’t quite part with? He’s finally found a new home. Gone to live with a little girl who needed a bit of friendly company. He’s been named. She’s called him Starlight 🙂

Happy new year. I think we’re all in for a bumpy ride, but we can get through it together, right?

Rabbit round-up (and elephants too)

Well, here we are, back again in an Autumnal England. The colours are beautiful and it’s freezing cold! I left Athens one week and one day ago and I’ve had a raging cold ever since. Hopefully that will go in the next few days, as I think tissue demand is higher supply and if this continues, the end won’t be pretty.

Athens was a brilliant adventure. Hard work, but amazing to be able to live another life for a while. I was only supposed to go for three months, but decided to stay for eight. We travelled around when we could (which wasn’t quite as much as I’d’ve liked), and explored the Peloponnese, Crete, Deplhi and finally the Metéora. The Metérora monasteries might be one of my favourite places to explore. Breathtakingly beautiful. The weather was a little crazy when we were there (we literally had our head in the clouds at times) but it was magical none-the-less. This photo, taken on an iPhone, doesn’t really do it justice, but I’ll share anyway…

meteora_1

I also had a lot of time to myself in Athens. The Mister is a freelancer and so was sometimes able to visit for a few weeks, an other times he had to head back home (or to Germany where his work sometimes takes him). Before I went I took my first steps into trying out the patterns by Little Cotton Rabbits. Actually they’re the perfect thing to take away… I ended up making rather a lot.

img_3696

This is an in-progress shot, taken on the mustardy-coloured leather sofa in the front room in Athens and these two are the end result, taken on our pink window sill:

img_3827

The one on the left should be going to a new home later this week. The one on the right was gifted to my mum on a quick visit back in the summer.

img_3908

This little lady had three different dresses, before finally settling back with the first one. After the addition of a cardigan it seemed the original suited her best after all, and she’s also gone to a new home.

img_4835

This one (mentioned in my previous post) was just a head for quite some time. She has a piebald patch, made with intarsia. Its not the neatest knitting, but she’s got such a kind face when you see her in real life it seemed a bit mean not to give her a body! As she’s not the neatest bunny she’s staying with me for a while, until I can find someone who loves her just as she is, imperfections and all.

img_4839

This little fella is exactly that. Little. I made him on 2.75 needles, rather than 3 and it made quite a difference somehow. He’s really compact and petite! I like him a lot, and he is waiting to be gifted to a gentleman at xmas. I think his jumper is the neatest I’ve ever made. I sort of made him as I wanted to make a brown elephant, rather than a grey one and actually I think the colour works quite nicely.

And talking of colour…

img_4794

This wee chap is also made on 2.75 needles as a bit of an experiment. I did actually buy this colour with the idea of making a blue bunny or elephant but thought that despite the yarn being technically the same size as the brown, it felt a lot thicker. In the end I decided to try it anyway and I like it. I know the jumper doesn’t suit him, I’ll make him a cream one I think, but I think blue is a good colour for a bunny!

img_4470

And talking of the jumper, I really enjoyed making this! It’s another Little Cotton Rabbits pattern. This is my first real venture in to cable knitting and I have a feeling that I like cables more than colour work. I’m going to make another one to test that theory but I think this is more successful than my colour work so far… time will tell. (I get really annoyed by the tightness of colour work, no matter how hard I try to keep it loose.)

img_4389

I think this could be the colour work I’m suited to best! It’s for a tiny xmas stocking—rather embarrassingly it’s yet another pattern by Little Cotton Rabbits, but this one is free. You see, once you have the yarn and the needles, you can make all kinds of things…

img_4402

This elephant was made as knitting therapy before I went and kept me company throughout. I love her to bits actually.

Now I’m back I have one more bunny to make, and then I’ll try moving on to something new. Maybe finally a human-sized jumper or something? I’ve loved making these though, they’ve been everything I needed. Complex enough, relaxing enough and delightful enough. They’ve kept me interested and motivated and given my head a little space when I needed it most. There’s a lot to be said for knitting as therapy so thank you to my Nan for teaching my Mum, and my Mum for teaching me (even though she’d rather be doing embroidery herself ;o)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knitting and tatting roundup!

new dress

I am still in Athens and still knitting! Just not looking at my laptop that much at the weekends, hence the silence. I finally managed to make the new Greek elephant a lighter dress (on the left). It’s made in cotton, which I bought from a great yarn shop in Athens. I had a weekend to myself a while back, so packed up my elephants and took them on a walking adventure. The yarn shop was wonderful – but so was the owner, who took one look at the elephants and said ‘Little Cotton Rabbits!’ He’d actually spoken to Julie (the pattern creator) via Flickr quite a few years ago. I bought some cotton just to try out, and it’s very nice. I’m undecided as to whether or not this dress suits this elephant, but we shall see.

small rabbit

I also made this small rabbit. He’s actually made on DPNs, which always ends up being way more stressful than a hobby should be, I think—but I do really like him. He’s very solid. I’m thinking he needs some clothes, but not entirely sure where to start with that. Maybe I’ll scale down some clothes from the Little Cotton Rabbits bunny pattern? Not sure. Never having gotten around to making human clothes, I’m not 100% sure how these things work!

scale

Just for scale, here’s the small rabbit next to just the feet of a Little Cotton Rabbits rabbit (Which is still a WIP as a type).

THIS is just the head of a new bunny with a piebald patch, made with/by/via (?) intarsia. As you can see, I’m not great at it – so I think I’ll keep this as an experiment:

intarsia

It’s annoying actually, because it’s very cute really – but I’ve managed to make the body much neater than usual, so I don’t want it to have a messy head! I’m making these as gifts, so I’d like them to be as neat as possible. I’ve got two bodies with legs sitting next to me as a type. It’s a bit of a production line at the moment. Slightly worried that I’ll run out of stuffing soon, but I’ll have to cross that bridge when I come to it.

I’ve also been thinking about tatting a lot recently, as I’ve only been knitting. For a moment I did wonder if I was forgetting how to do it, so after getting back from a huge walk yesterday to / from Athens central market (via the wine shop) I relaxed on the sofa with some tatting thread:

tats

I was feeling too lazy to attach beads but might do that next time. This is my own pattern, so I’m glad it worked out. Could do with a bit of adjusting but I think it’s quite pretty. I’m not sure why, but I got into the habit of tatting all the bottom rings first and then the upper rings on top after. If you do them alternately as you go it’s much neater. Looking back at old photos, I think I’d changed my technique for the worse, for some reason? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ fixed now, hopefully! Will adjust it a bit and try it with beads next time.

And here’s a little story to finish. I ended up showing photos of some of the toys to my team at work. As I get a bit embarrassed about it (not everyone gets knitting!), I usually end up saying something kind of self deprecating. I said ‘I should probably make something useful – like a jumper or something!’. To which one of my team replied ‘NO! Why would you do that? You can just buy a jumper, you don’t need to make things like that. It sounds too stressful, you’ll get burnt out. You should use your time to make nice things that you enjoy, it doesn’t matter if they’re useful!’. And actually I do agree. It’s a hobby, right? It’s supposed to be fun, and you *should* be making whatever makes you happy. Pointless toys are less pointless when the point is enjoying yourself 😉

Hope wherever you are you’re enjoying what you’re making too.

Oh! And PS: I haven’t told anyone this (much like I’ve only told about 2 people that I have a blog) but I’ve got a crafty instagram account. If you have too, I’ll see you there: I’m occasionalcrafter
(
sorry about the duplicate photos!)

 

 

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!

Stress knitting

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

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!