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!

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A quick tatting catch up

red snowflakeHello! It’s been ages since I last posted, but not for the lack of activity, mostly for the lack of light to take photos with. I’m supposed to be working on a presentation right now, so of course seeing a little bit of sunshine pop out makes this an excellent procrastination moment.

Above is my first snowflake of the year, using up that slightly odd variegated thread. This is one of Jon’s patterns, from her snowflake book – apologies, I can’t seem to find a direct link to it on her site, but her patterns are all well written and beautifully put together. You’ll see that now I’ve got a bit more experience with beads they’re on everything!

port isaac

In the time since I last posted, I did manage to have a few days away. We went to Port Isaac in Cornall, which was lovely. Above was the view from our bedroom window. Fans of British TV might find it familiar; the building on the left is the school in Doc Martin, and loads of the show is filmed around here.  That said, we appreciated it more for its general loveliness as a village than a TV set, having never seen the show…

I’ve been working on a few different things – a quilt, which I’ll talk about in another post, a knitted baby blanket (beyond frustrating, and it’s not even a difficult pattern), and some more tatted motifs.

pinkThis is the correct version of the motif in the previous post. I stitched on the beads here, rather than add them to the tatting as I went along…

greenIt’s amazing how different the same motif looks in different colours, I think. The dark outline isn’t ideal – I think it relies on very strict blocking to make it work (something I haven’t done!)

This version below is tatted with beads – can I get a good photo of it? Nope. But the red beads really glow in real life – you’ll have to trust me on that:

black

I wrote down the pattern as I made this, and then realised of course, I’d made two versions on the pattern. This one is not the same as the ones above. Not sure which I prefer really, and so I’m not really ready to share the pattern yet. Thank you for the offers of help with this though, very kind.

triThis version just has three repeats of the main motif. I’d like to say it was on purpose – it wasn’t, but it was an interesting exercise! I love these beads with this thread, incidentally. They were bought separately but go so well together. I bought them in a random craft shop, but they’re made by Mill Hill, and are ‘seed petite beads‘. They’re pretty small, but amazingly I can still get that tiny crochet hook through most of them.

This is the three motifs together. I love how ‘goth’ the black one is.

three motifs
These are all tatted in size 80 thread. I tried holding the black one up as a pendent to see what it would look like – and it’s huge! Seeing as most tatted jewellery tends to be in much thicker thread, its made me wonder if all tatted jewellery is gigantic?

In other news, I also managed to shorten some curtains on my tiny sewing machine (it’s a bit like this). I’d been putting it off forever, but actually it was no where near as bad as I thought it would be. No major incidents, everyone still has their limbs and digits attached.

curtainsHope everything’s good with you guys. Next time: the quilt. (I hope).

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instatatting

Train Sketch

Well – as you can probably see, that is not a photo of a quilt in progress –  nor a small crochet bear. It *is* an instagram snap of some tatting, taken on the train. I was sketching a new design, but I’m not sure it’s working. The green and white bit to the left of centre reminds me of snowdrops so that would be the best way to take it perhaps. We’ll see.

I’ve been working on a new quilt today, and so when the light was best for photographs, I was busy at the machine. Now I feel like telling you more about the quilt and the small crochet bear I’ve also made but it’s too dark for photos with my grumpy camera! Apologies.

bracelet

Again another Instagram shot. I made this yesterday from a Japanese pattern. I added the beads just to test something out – which worked. I’ve got a longer post to come about beads, but it needs more photos to explain, so… next time.

In other news, I ran my second 10k, and it was fine! I didn’t want to drop dead at the end of it, and I’m probably doing another one in November. It’s also the Knitting and Stitching Show next weekend, and I’m going with a friend, and looking forward to it immensely.

See you soon, I hope, with better photos 🙂

 

Doodling tatting patterns

pre blocking

There’s something about pre-blocked tatting that I really like. The slight shape to things makes it feel a little bit more alive… Maybe more like leaves or something you’d find in nature…

Hello! It’s been a while, and I’m not sure why. I think I’ve not had a chance to finish anything for ages and so I’ve not felt like I’ve had a lot to write about. That said, I ran my first 10k a few weeks ago, and I’m due to do another one soon – so I have finished *something* at least!

pink

I’m still working on my own tatting designs, and I’m enjoying it actually. I used to think it was more meditative working on other people’s patterns – something you don’t need to think too much about but you know will all work out, but recently I’ve been enjoying working on my own things; more like physical doodles. I can’t ever seem to get enthusiastic about drawing out tatting ideas before I start, and so I’ve really just been doodling in thread and developing the theme from the edging I made a few posts back. I found the pink (in my head I call it ‘ballet slipper pink’) thread above knocking about in my tatting box. It’s such a beautiful, delicate pink I can only think that my mum must’ve given it to me – I can’t think it would be something I’d buy – but I love it with the white.

alternate versionsHere’s some other versions of the same pattern. That yellow is a variegated thread – the one I’ve used and really liked before. (These are all tatted in size 80 DMC).

The one on the left here (below) was made by accident – a post bacon-sandwich induced haze I think. I missed off a ring on the first main flower so had to adapt the pattern as I went along…

oopsIt worked out ok I guess. There’s one other variation of this pattern too – more rectangular:

rectangleI just need some spare time to turn these in to finished pieces – I have a few ideas, but so many other things that need to be done first! Talking of which, I need to go for a run right now, come back and do some day-job work, so I’d better get gone.

See you soon, I hope.

 

Warm weather, woolies

Bear

It’s been a funny month or so. My partner has been away for work for 3 weeks, and even more weekends, and so its been rather quiet. It’s given me some time to get on with a few things (and not get on with others – like the garden, ahem). I made this bear over two weekends, and I must admit, I’m in two minds about it. I like the fact that he’s shaped like a traditional bear, but I’m not at all keen on his arms. I’ll make it again at some point and see if I can make a better job of it. I like his feet, and his little tail though:

tail

That aside, I’ve made a knitted dress for one of the monkeys. I can’t even remember what made me look up a pattern actually, but I found this one (Ravelry Link), which is perfect – knitted flat, and very basic:

dress

Actually I’ve discovered I do my yarn-over-knit-one’s backwards, but at least I’ve worked that out now and can fix it for next time. I also finally found a use for one of the tiny crochet roses I made about a year ago:

rose

Oh, and I knitted this on these cheap blue knitting needles from Tiger. (Tiger is that store that you only buy things you didn’t know you needed from, because their stock changes often and is always *really* random.) I only mention it, as I love the colour of the needles with the yellow – the paint’s already flaking off!

needle

I like the idea of being able to take a toys clothes on and off – never seems entirely fair to trap them inside, so this one has little buttons at the back:

buttons

Not the neatest knitting in the world, but I don’t think she minds… I also made this little chap. I wasn’t concentrating properly when I made his head, and so he’s a row smaller than he should be – but for some reason i really like this one. He’s a really happy little chap.

monkey

He already has a home to go to, and he’s been waiting SO patiently. I hope he gets to go soon, or he’ll have to go by post, and no one likes travelling by post.

And finally, I’m itching to use this fabric, so I’ll wish you a pleasant rest-of-sunday, and see you all soon.

fabric

 

 

 

 

 

 

My first tatting pattern…

Yellow and white tatting

Well, the good news is, I’ve got back to tatting on the train again. The bad news is that I decided to finish something off at home earlier and I messed it up! I was listening to a podcast and must’ve stopped concentrating; made and closed the wrong ring — and in thread size 80 I’m not sure I can face battling it open again. I’ll work out what to do with it later. There it is though, and despite me being an idiot, it does photograph well.

Variegated thread

The yellow is a variegated thread, which in this instance, I really like. I only bought it as Roseground where I buy my ecru thread didn’t seem to have a solid yellow in DMC 80 at the time, and it seemed silly to pay postage on just one ball of thread! But you know how that goes…

Red Variegated

I ended up buying some red too, and it’s horrible! I guess if you only use the red and don’t combine it with anything it could be ok, but yeuck. This was just a tatting test to work out a pattern, but it’s so hideous I can’t bring myself to finish it. If there’s anyone in the UK who really loves red/pink variegated thread and will do something much nicer than this with it, shout, and it’s yours 🙂 (And i wont judge you – I’ve probably just chosen to use it badly).

I had a little play with some other colours and shapes too:

Blue green

The pattern didn’t work out on this one but I like the colours. I was using up the ends of two shuttles…

tatted daisy

I had a play around with something more daisy-like too. I really love that yolk-yellow. Not sold on the pattern yet, but might go back to it another time.

Anyway. The outcome of all of this, is that I think I’m done with that pattern. So if you fancied making it too, it works in one or two colours and comes out like this (it’s not stitched on, in this shot):

curtain edging tattingHere’s the pattern – let me know if you try it – and if you spot any mistakes!

free tatting pattern

Phew!

phew