The eyes have it

elephant_1

After the total joy of making two rabbits (one hopefully now settled into his new home) I decided to take a risk on an elephant. I say ‘take a risk’ as she looks pretty complicated to me—I didn’t want to just assume this would be a breeze, and then get super frustrated. I still consider myself a new knitter to be honest, and there’s lots of techniques I don’t know or need to look up each time.

With the bunnies I started on the feet as they seemed like the most complicated part. With this one I started on the head, because if you can’t get that right you’re kind of stuck. My first effort was shaping up nicely… until I realised I was rushing a lot and had missed a complete 10 rows! I’d already got onto the ears and couldn’t work out why there were so enormous. They weren’t, her head was too small. I started again.

elephant_2

The second time, I found shaping the trunk a little hard – you need to pull on the wool that you’re sewing the seam with, to make the trunk curl. It snapped. If you’re doing this yourself, I’d definitely recommend strong yarn for that bit of seaming (as it says in the pattern), or curling it about 10 stitches a time as you sew, instead of in one go when you get to the end.

Once I’d made the head, I stitched the eyes… And I just didn’t like them. Eyes are SO important, and can really make or break a toy (as I know I’ve said before.) They just weren’t in the right position. After living with them for a day and looking at everyone else’s in Ravelry I decided to unpick them. Then she had no eyes for a couple of weeks. At this point I was kind of disappointed as I just didn’t think I’d get them right, but I made the rest of the body anyway.

I was going to give her solid coloured tights and then changed my mind, which is why she has that darker blue band around her tummy. Also, I changed colour too soon – there’s a rogue dark blue row that shouldn’t be there. I found the shoes relatively easy to knit, but tricky to sew together neatly. One is good, the other not so good. They definitely get better with practise I think. Same goes with stitching the legs to the body.

I’ve looked at a *lot* of others on Ravelry and there’s definitely a technique to attaching the legs to the body that I don’t have yet. But that’s not so bad… a good reason to make another one!

elephant_3

With the eyes I suddenly had a brainwave – its not that much of a revelation to most, but it worked a treat for me. I got some pins with the round plastic balls for a head. I spent ages positioning and repositioning them. Finally when I thought they were in the right place I stitched the knots in — and it worked! She went from being a bit of a problem to something I was super excited about making. It’s amazing what a difference it makes! It transforms a project from ‘some knitting’ into a little character of her own.

Last night I stitched her all together. (Probably not a good idea after a long day but I had a free evening.) I’m so pleased with her! Looking at the attachment of the legs to the body this morning I’m a bit less thrilled, but she’s such a lovely little character. I still can’t get over the fact I’ve managed to get enough skills to make something so nice. It’s like being given a gift. I’ve really enjoyed making her (despite the ups and downs) and there’s still a dress to come.

There’s something brilliant about being really into the thing you’re making. Its so nice to have something non-stressful to think about. I think it’s something to do with gaining new skills too, you think about it a bit on the way to work maybe, instead of worrying about this document or that meeting. You sneak a few rows in here or there and get to see a bit more life come to pass…

And on that note, time to start the 90 minute commute and think about what colours her dress should be. Hope all’s well with you.

 

 

And then there were two!

two

Happy New Year! Hope you had a good break over the holidays and your new year is going ok so far.  I’ve not been the best blogger, I have to admit, but wow, December was busy. In between work and travelling for work I did manage to race through some knitting.

I made this little chap:

whale.png

He is, I have decided, the gift for the baby I was knitting the original rabbit for. After thinking about it, I decided that you need something a baby can have a bit of a chew on, chuck about a bit, squeeze and pull in any direction. Something a more solid shape and construction seemed like a better idea, and so I went for this pattern. (Ravelry link).

Overall I enjoyed making him… until I got to the tail. It’s knitted on DPNs and just didn’t end up as neat as I would’ve liked. I also decided to sew on fabric eyes, rather than the usual plastic eyes (better for a baby). This was a bit of a pain as it turns out the black ‘craft felt’ from John Lewis is thin, disintegrates quite easily and is just… not very good quality. A lesson learned.

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And back to the rabbits… What a delight to knit! I’m genuinely thrilled with how they’ve turned out. Of course there are things that could be better and neither was completely struggle-free but still they make me smile every time I look at them.

single

The pattern is from Little Cotton Rabbits. It’s the boy bunny with the piebald patch, although on these occasions I added the nose but not the patch. (I did make one head with the patch but wasn’t 100% happy with it. I’ll try it again another time though, because it is very cute). I just happened to have blue and white wool available for the jumpers and so I used that to match the pattern exactly.

They’re such a lovely size. They’re also exceptionally cute without being ‘twee’; no cartoony cutesy short cuts – no big eyes or overly large heads. Something about them being small but perfectly proportioned makes them even nicer.

I made the one with the scarf at the request of an ex-colleague. He said that the only thing his wife had said she actually wanted for her 50th birthday was “one of your knitted rabbits”. Which was of course very flattering but having only ever made one before I did say he’d have to turn a blind eye to the odd wrong stitch!

bums

Here’s a slightly odd picture of their bums! They each have a little tail that pops out of their shorts. You can also spot the tiny button I used to close their jumpers. I love that you can take these on and off. Seriously – the jumpers themselves are so cute they almost give you a heart attack.

If you’re thinking of making one for yourself and wondering if you can do it, the answer is yes, you probably can. The patterns are well written and illustrated with photos. Anything that isn’t a knit or a purl is also explained and very easy to google for a video tutorial should you need it. They’re knitted flat and stitched together, which for me made it even better. While I hate sewing, I hate small knitting on DPNs even more. Knitting them flat was almost – dare I say it – relaxing.

They take a while to stuff and to sew together, but personally, I found it easier / more enjoyable than sewing a crochet amigurumi. I crochet really tightly and getting a needle through crocheted fabric was always a horror. I did actually make the second rabbit and decide I wasn’t happy with the eyes. After a lot of ‘Really? At this hour? GO TO BED’ internal dialogue I decided to snip them out and redo them. I’m glad I did, he’s much nicer now. It’s always worth taking extra time on faces I think, no matter what type of toy you’re making.

If there was one problem with this pattern I would say that it’s *really* addictive. They’re now all I can think about. I’ve already bought the pattern for the elephant though, and so will try that next. I must admit, I’m not expecting to do so well on that one, so will definitely start with the head first and see how it goes. (For some reason I started with the feet for the rabbits).

Anyway. Happy new year! Here’s hoping we always have a chance to sneak in a little bit of time for ourselves this year.

 

Little woollen rabbit: almost there!

bunny

This is another speedy post – my poor fingers are about to drop off! It’s been a wet & windy weekend in the UK, which has made it perfect for knitting. I think this is the first time I’ve had a chance to appreciate the mix of:

  • a free day
  • some lovely yarn – the proper woolly kind that makes you feel well wrapped-up
  • a manageable pattern, where I more-or-less know what I’m supposed to be doing.

If you were *super* interested in this blog, you’d know that I was making the piebald rabbit. He’s supposed to have a patch of colour over one eye. I actually made two ears and a head yesterday, but decided that while I hadn’t done a bad job of the intarsia (even if I do say so myself) it probably wasn’t secure enough to give to a child. I’ll try again with the next one. As it goes, it’s not that hard, but I just wasn’t 100% convinced it was fit for gifting.

Today I made a brand new head (with just the nose is a different colour, and stitched him all together. I also made some trousers:

Bunny & trousers

I have a feeling I made the body a couple of rows too long, so the trousers are a bit short in the body. (They’re meant to be short on the legs). That said, the tail is holding them up – I’ll post some photos next time when the light’s a little better.

Verdict so far though? I love him. And I’m struggling with the whole ‘should I *really* give him away?’ issue. We shall see.

He still needs a jumper but I really think my fingers might fall off if I knit another stitch.

If you’d like to knit your own, I honestly can’t recommend this pattern enough.

 

Little woollen rabbits (I hope)

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Rather obviously, this is a work in progress. This is the Piebald Rabbit pattern from Little Cotton Rabbits. So far so good. The pattern is very well written, and I’m really hoping I can pull this off. I’m not 100% convinced it will be as lovely as hers, but if you never try these things you really never know.

What I am amazed about is how small he is! I guess I’ve only really ever seen these rabbits in isolation, so I thought they were biggish. Turns out when she says ‘Little Cotton Rabbits’ she’s not kidding! There’s a good and bad side to this.

Good side = I think if it works, it will be really cute.

Bad side = it’s *supposed* to be a gift for a new baby. It could be too small, or worse, I might decide that I like it too much to give it away…

We’ll see. This is of course assuming that I don’t screw it up. I decided to start with the body, mainly as I was due to go out last night and I knew I could pick that up and put it down again. I’ve made the complete leg, arm and foot today, and done the first batch of stitching. I did my best ever mattress stitch on the body, which I am very happy about. (That said, ‘best ever’ is really setting that bar low!) I didn’t do the arm that well, but I find it much easier stitching from the bottom up, rather than the top down. I’ll see how the second one goes. I’m giving it a break for now before my fingers fall off.

cascade 220

These are the yarns i’m using. It’s Cascade 220: Doeskin Heather 8012 and Aspen Heather 8011. They look different enough here, but knitted up they’re quite similar. I don’t think that will be a problem, but it does show the perils of just guessing how colours will work together when you buy them from photos online. I do like these colours though, they’re really gentle.

And on that note, time to run. More photos when there’s more to show.

 

 

Bearly there

bear

I can’t believe how long it’s been since my last post. I was so productive, and then suddenly it all went to pot! Not entirely sure what’s been going on. This is just a quick catch up, really.

I finished off this little fellow a couple of weeks ago. He’s sitting in an egg cup (a gift for ‘me’ from by boyfriend… While I like it a lot, I can’t help thinking this was’t entirely selfless giving).

When I finished this I wasn’t 100% impressed. I didn’t knit him that well, and to be honest, his body ends up a tiny bit pointy at the top, which gives him a weird neck. I tried to get around that when I stitched his head on, but it’s not great. Also, I made the scarf way to long. NO idea how that happened, because it was SO tedious to knit.

But… but…

bear 2

Despite all that, he’s actually *really* cute. Not neat enough to give away, but I really like him. I keep picking him up to have a little look. Might knit another one, but neater this time. Here’s the pattern on Ravelry. (Sorry about the quality of late night iPhone photos.)

tatting in colour

These are some rating experiments I’ve also been doing. I treated myself to some new threads (always DMC size 80 – just different colours). The colours are lovely. I’m trying to work out using beads in different ways and also, folded rings. In the ecru example I managed rather excellently to put the beads on the bottom row of rings rather than the top! This means you can’t see them. At all. That’s what happens when you start something new on a train after a day’s work, while not quite thinking. I like the beads in the centre of the folded rings though, so will persevere…

Right now, in fact.

Hope you’re having / have had a good weekend.

 

Crochet, tatting, knitting, patchwork, secrets and lies

Little man

You know some weeks, nothing seems to work? I got so frustrated finishing this chap on Friday that I threw him in the bin. My boyfriend spotted him in there yesterday and took him out – then gave me a telling off for being mean.

He’s supposed to be a little mismatched, his ears and eyes are different, but really, his jumper was actually supposed to fit. I had to unpick half of the jumper when I realised I’d mis-counted due to a phone call. Then I realised that even after re-making, the dimensions were never going to work. The nice cuffs were going to be hidden as the sleeves need rolling up, and don’t even talk about the neck… (I’m so pleased I guessed it all correctly for the giraffe – looking back it’s a miracle!)

lil_chap2

In the end I stitched him into the jumper at the back, so it kind of fits, but it’s not ideal. I also made him some trousers – it’s not that easy making trousers, is it?! I just guessed the shape; imagine two pieces of fabric shaped a bit like an upside-down ‘V’. I ended up cutting them in half and re-sewing down the centre to get the right shape – but I think I might understand a little more about trouser construction than I did before!

lil_chap3

Actually after all that I really like him. In real life he looks like quite a gentle, bookish soul. It’s really the jumper that does it. Now I can actually knit I think every crocheted toy needs a jumper. Due to the slightly delicate clothing construction he’s definitely not for playing with, so I think he’ll live with me. I have a feeling he’ll be happy on a bookshelf though – I just need to be nice and apologise for throwing him away. (!)

Patchwork

Before I started fixing him yesterday, I got the sewing machine out and had a bit of a play. I’d already decided what I wanted to make, but I fancied playing with a few scraps first. These were all small pieces from my scrap bag, but I think they go nicely together. Not sure what I’ll do with it yet.

needlecase

This is not the most inspiring photo, but I decided to make a needlecase, loosely based on this tutorial. The tatting has been knocking around for ages… Eeek, since 2013 in fact! I thought it might be nice making something a bit less girly for a change.

inside

This is what it’s like inside – a little pocket front and back, perfect for the essentials (like a rabbit). Don’t look too closely at the binding. Ahem.

inside2

Just like the previous one, this is all made of scraps – which includes the dreadful, cheap, synthetic felt. So just like the previous one I stitched around the edge of the pages, but this time with darker thread on one side. (Yes, that rabbit is hiding a mismatched corner… thanks for asking).

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I love how different the new case feels when compared to the old one. And talking of the old one… I use it all the time.

You know what I’ve noticed? Everyone who makes a needle case and then photographs it does what I did up there ^. They show a perfect selection of pins or needles, perfectly aligned. Who keeps a needle case like that?! No one, surely? Certainly no one that ever uses their needles.

reality

 

This is what the old needlecase looks like now. Its all bent out of shape and a mess.

But I love it.

 

Knitting and crochet, the best of friends

Knitting and crochet

This wee fellow is off to a new home tomorrow. He’s going to live with a little three year old girl, called Scarlett. I would be more concerned, but she’s taken excellent care of the monkey I made her in 2013, so fingers crossed! I hope she likes him and plays with him as much, and as carefully (!) as she does with the monkey.

A naked giraffe

Here he is, as naked as the day he was born, in all his crocheted glory. And looking rather embarrassed about it too. It’s a lovely pattern – although as ever, crocheting arms and legs drives me  bit nuts. I always end up missing a stitch somewhere along the way and having to add one or two back in later. If you are in any way giraffe inclined though, I would recommend the pattern and you can find it here. I chose green for mine, because I think it’s nice for little girls to know that colours other than pink are available!

Giraffe scarf

True to form, I made a giraffe scarf. It actually matches the one I made for the monkey, but I think that’s purely because I used the same logic by accident – “I should probably add something scarlet”. I’m nothing if not original…

But then I thought he looked a bit naked. And maybe a little cold. But what to make to warm up a giraffe, other than a scarlet scarf?

Jumper

A wooly jumper of course!

I was in a bit of a rush, as I desperately wanted to finish this in time for Scarlett’s birthday, so I chose a basic, one-coloured pattern. I was also worried I wouldn’t know how to make it, so I thought the simpler the better. In the end I went for another pattern from Little Cotton Rabbits and it’s great! It’s knitted flat, and you start with individual pieces, which come together at the chest. You have to stitch it together of course, but its not hard and looks great.

jumper backAnd look! There’s a little button fastening at the back, which means…

Arms up!

That it’s easy to get on and off again! Quite important I think.

I adjusted the pattern a little bit – longer arms etc – and I think if I were a more skilled knitter I’d’ve taken it in at the sides to suit his body shape a bit more, but in the end, I was quite pleased with it. It looks nice and cosy. The button at the front is just for decoration, incidentally.

Suave and warm

And so there he is. All nice and warm and ready to meet his new friends.

You know what’s also a little funny about this? This is the first jumper I’ve ever knitted! And yes, I am still working on the Brooklyn Tweed Boardwalk pattern, from ages ago! Must get started on that again now.

Busy knitting

hedgie4

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

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

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

hedgie5

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

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

hat_1

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

hat_2

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

boot

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

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

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

giraffe

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

So that’s me all caught up, I think?

Hope you all have brilliant weekends.

Seasonal tidings

hedgehog

Hello! This is just a quick post to wish you a happy new year while I get a chance. Thank you to everyone who’s stopped by this past year and shared a thought or a quick comment, it’s been much appreciated.

I had a hectic few weeks in the run up to Christmas, but a large amount of work-travel meant a lot of waiting for planes, trains and automobiles (or that kind of thing) and so I did manage to tat a few snowflakes for people. I did not, however, manage to take a snap of them before I sent them off. This year they’ve been very well received though, which is really nice.

Just before Christmas I managed to make the little chap you can see hiding in the lemons up there ^. I absolutely love him! He’s not the neatest hedgehog ever made, but heavens, what a CUTE pattern. It’s by Little Cotton Rabbits, and you can find it on Ravelry, or Etsy. He’s quite quick to make, and his nose is just lovely. He was a gift for my mum, and I think she liked him, so I’m glad he’s gone to a good home. I also made a strawberry (from this pattern) for a friend, to bring a little bit of summer back to the dark winter months. I found out that I’d actually made the others one row short every time! It’s amazing what you spot when you’re concentrating on someone else’s behalf.

starToday I learnt how to make these. My mum happened to have the strips of paper, and we figured it out from memory (hers), You tube, brute force (mine), and sheer determination. Sheesh, they’re not easy when you start! I’ve made another four this evening to decorate gifts yet to be given. I think I might actually need to make them once a month or something, so I don’t forget. I’m not sure I could cope with learning all over again. There is something quite magical about origami though. Tuck, fold, fold, tuck, fold, fold…. ping! An origami star. (Not counting the swearing, if course).

Anyway. That’s all for now. I hope you’re enjoying the holidays – here’s to a happy, healthy and productive new year.

Catching up

sept_1

Well, time certainly flies. Or at least it moves on, whether you’re having fun or not! I haven’t meant to leave it so long between posts, but work and weekends have intermingled a bit this summer, and I haven’t had a lot of time for myself. Also, the change in my morning commute has affected my productivity much more than expected—I’ve barely had any time to tat. I did manage to make this with a few snatched minutes while waiting for a lift to the station over the last week or so though, and I’ve enjoyed working with these petite seed beads. This is size 80 thread, and so the beads are smaller than regular seed beads.

sept_2

When I have had time to make things, for some reason I’ve gone for the mainly useless! I’ve made a few more stress  bunnies to give away — often to people who are stressed themselves, and last weekend I made a little time to try out this strawberry pattern. (Yes, hers are much neater than mine!) I actually tried this some time ago, but couldn’t get the hang of it at all. This time around it went much better – they’re not perfect, but there’s something about them that I really like. Lots of people make the cord stalk really long, so the leaf pokes out of the top of a book and the strawberry the bottom, but I decided the yarn was too thick and I got a bit bored Icording – so…

sept_3

What I have instead is a cord long enough to tie a little strawberry bundle. No use to anyone, but it makes me happy.

A few months back I did manage to make something more useful. I had a weekend to myself and so made this bucket-style drawstring bag

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The striped fabric is upholstery weight, bought as a cheap remnant. Its great for this kind of bag as it stands up on its own…

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I’m using it as a knitting bag, it’s big enough to keep quite a few balls of wool, needles and a printed pattern inside. Its also the kind of bag you can leave the ball of yarn in while you knit, to stop it rolling off.

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I was really pleased with the colour of the drawstring too. I saved it from a paper carrier bag – I can’t even remember which shop it was from now, but it was the perfect match! I always save these cords, they’re great for things like this.

sept_7

And finally, this is one of my sunflowers. I’ve grown about 8 this year and I’ve really enjoyed watching them grow. As I’ve been away for work quite a lot, every time I get home I’ve rushed into the garden to see how they’re doing 🙂 I’ve also grown chillies and tomatoes, and I’ve loved that too. I don’t know why I had a few summers off the sunflowers, but must remember to grow them again next year.

Hope you’re all well out there and have had a great summer. With any luck I’ll be back again soon.