Friday, 19 October 2012

Not A Happy Chappy!

I was out yarn shopping yesterday which is always fatal. They didn't have any of the yarn I was looking for left but I still didn't go away empty handed. I did buy yarn that was a Christmas present but on a whim I also picked up a ball of Patons, 'Fab Big'. Another one of those yarns that has a scarf pattern on the ball band. I saw it in pink and thought my sister would like it. The pattern was very easy to follow and knits up very quickly. I started it last night and finished it this morning. I would have finished it in one day if I didn't have an exam. Plus it's one of those loop scarf which I thought my sister would appreciate (she loves her winter woolies).

Sadly I don't think the pattern quite delivered what it promised. The loop scarf was far shorter than what the pattern and images on the ball band suggested it would be. There is now way to wrap it round the head again. At least not without throttling yourself. In the image above I have actually folded it in half just so that it sits. My advice if you are knitting this up is to start with far fewer stitches. You will get the length you will need. Plus if you don't want to wrap it again it will sit better without folding. Otherwise you will need at least half the ball of yarn again. It's not a Christmas present but hopefully my sister will like it anyways.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Warning! Potentially Ugly Socks!

It's probably the artist in her but my sister loves the strangest colour combinations. The wackier the better. So when I saw this Regia yarn in the sale I had to pick it up and knew they would become socks for my sister. However, as I began to knit the more I was unsure of the colours. Thought it might be too much even for my sister. I was pretty sure I was knitting the ugliest socks in the world. Now that they are finished though I feel better about them and maybe red, pink, orange, white and grey do all go together.....maybe.

This time I used a pattern from The Bigh Book Of Socks by Kathleen Taylor. This is probably my most recent sock book purchase and since it was at the top of the pile it was the one I went to first. The pattern I chose is called Purl Spiral socks (actually adult and yarn type is in the title but I'm not writing that). I call them swirly socks.

You can sort of see the pattern here. It's very basic and follows a six row repeat. All you really need to do is keep track of what row you are on. I kept track of how many repeats too to save me from measuring the second sock. I am very lazy and to be honest I'm always losing my measuring tapes. The purl stitch creates the pattern and I think it sets the yarn off. So much so that this is the first time that I have ever ensured that both socks are the same by casting on at the same point in the pattern of the yarn (I repeat, I am lazy). I also cut off the yarn after finishing the heel and reattached it at the point where the colours would continue in the same repeats along the front of the sock.

The pattern doesn't follow along the soul of the sock but I kind of like the effect there too. I like the fact that the grey section started at the heel there. That was pure accident. The result is that I kind of like the socks and more importantly I think my sister will too.

As for the book itself. I do like a lot of the patterns in there and I know that I will be using more than a few of them. The pattern was very easy to follow and I think a beginner could do this no problem. Ideal for anyone who decides they are bored with the basic pattern but want to move on to something simple. I have two criticisms. The first is with the heel section. It's the first time I have used short row heels for cuff down socks (have used it for toe up socks). The pattern said not to use the wrap method which is the one that I am used to. It's explanation is that the book way prevents gaps. However, that's not what I found. I found that it was a lot looser and the wrap method felt easier to follow. Maybe because it's what I am used to. In both socks though I found I made mistakes (not that my sister will notice).

The second criticism involves the layout of the book. Photo's of the socks aren't necessarily with the pattern. It could be at the start of the section grouped with other socks. This makes it difficult to find the pattern to match the photo (I am sure there is one photo in there not labeled and so not sure which patterns the socks belong to). Unlike in most sock books it doesn't give instructions for how many stitches to cast on, what sort of cuff to knit and instructions for the heel. Instead it sends you to earlier patterns that contain stitch numbers and cuff instructions. Or to the back where all the instructions for different heels are found. Makes for a lot of  flicking back and forward which is a little annoying. I think the rational behind it is that more patterns will fit into the book that way.

Having said that I still liked the book and many of the patterns. As I said, the patterns are easy enough to follow and there is something in there for both beginner and expert sock knitter.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The Hitchhiker

Every time I write about this pattern I have Kenny Rogers, The Gambler, in my head. No idea why.

This scarf pattern was first discovered by a friend of mine who is known for finding interesting new scarf patterns. I have a friend known as the sock lady and in this way this friend should be known as the scarf lady. The pattern is by Martina Behm and you can buy it from ravelry for about £2.50. I love the pattern. It's so simple and yet effective. It's an 8 row repeat and all you need to know is how to increase, purl, knit and cast off. It's as simple as that.

The pattern calls for sock yarn and I picked out the Zitron Trekking XXL from my stash. I loved the blues and greens and thought it would make an effective stripy pattern. Which it did. Another reason to love the pattern (if you use patterning sock yarn) is that the effect of the yarn changes as the scarf grows. This scarf is for me and I am looking forward to it being cold enough to wear it.

My sister liked the scarf and I believe even threatened to pinch it. I couldn't have that so I have knitted one up for her Christmas. Knitting two in a row you would think I would have grown bored of it but not at all.

This time I used Noro Kureyon sock yarn. I bought this in a sale ages ago knowing that I would have to use it for my sister who loves pink and black. At first I was unsure whether or not to use it for the scarf. Even in a sale it's quite expensive and the pattern would have to be special to use it on. Glad I did though. If you have seen socks knitted for my sister in previous posts you will know she has tiny feet. So tiny that the socks would have turned out mainly pink and the rest of those colours would have gone unnoticed (unless of course I made her socks uneven). The scarf however starts off all in pink and slowly the other colours emerge until you get this stripey effect at the end. It certainly made knitting it more interesting.

I love Noro yarn. I love the colours which are always bright and unexpected. The downside to it is that it's a little harsh from being over-dyed. The thickness through out is also uneven. This all however, works perfectly for the scarf.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Camper Vanning It!

This is mainly what I have been working on the last few months and is now my pride and joy. I was needing something simple whilst I was busy with other things. Something that didn't require a lot of concentration and I could just pick up whenever I had a little time. When I saw this pattern in Cross Stitcher a few issues ago it immediately caught my eye. I'm not usually an orange person but I fell in love with it anyway. The huge blocks of colour were also perfect.

I finished it two weeks ago and I honestly can't stop looking at it. I am even tempted to eventually stitch the blue camper van which was in the same issue. The downside was all the back stitching. Normally I would resent doing all that (any stitcher will tell you it's the boring bit). However, the pattern wouldn't work without it and I liked watching it develop.

The one in the Cross Stitcher had been turned into a cushion and I decided to do the same. I had hoped for an orange flower fabric that screamed 70's but I couldn't find any and I was too impatient to shop around. Instead I went for a rather bright orange. On it's own it's too bright and I had my doubts (like I said, not usually an orange person). However, it fitted the design perfectly.

If any of you follow me on instagram or twitter you will have possibly seen photo updates of the project. I asked people to guess what the orange blob was. When it got to this stage someone suggested that it was two elephants having a face off. Have to say it does look a bit like that. A few people agreed and after that I was often asked how my elephants were getting on.

The pattern was from issue 254 of Cross Stitcher. It was very easy to follow. A perfect pattern for someone relatively new to cross stitch who wants to try something bigger. Or like me you don't have the time to concentrate on it.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Sock Pillow

A while ago I blogged about a challenge hosted by my knitting group called Odds n Ends. The challenge was to create something using leftovers only. This was perfect since I had been wanting to do something with my leftover sock yarn. It was far too pretty to throw out. The plan was to make lots of granny squares and bring them together to create a blanket. However, I didn't have enough white to do that and buying more would have been cheating. So as you can see I made do with a cushion instead.

From these odds and ends I had crocheted about 100 squares. From that I picked out 32 and stitched them together with what remained of the white. I have to say there was just enough to do that and do the border that I love so much.

Here it is on the night of the challenge along with my photo of the scraps and a wee blurb about it. I gave it the glamorous name of sock pillow. I still have a bag of leftovers and quite a few squares so I am going to keep going. I don't need to worry any more about replacing the white to tie it all together. So hopefully I will eventually have a sock blanket to go with my sock pillow.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Multnomah (the baby gift replacement)

Oops, it's been a few months since I last posted here. I thought that maybe I would have quite a lot to show you but it seems my crafting has been only slightly more productive than my blogging. Having said that I do have a few things to show you and first up is this shawl I knitted for a friend. The truth is this yarn was supposed to be used to knit a baby present for the same friend. I was on placement at uni on the run up to the baby shower we had for her which is why I didn't get the baby gift done in time. Turns out it was a big disaster anyway (as all my baby knitting seems to be unless it's a blanket, socks or hats). I still had all this leftover yarn and I decided to use it to knit something for the new mum.

The shawl is called Multnomah and was designed by Kate Ray. It's a simple design involving increased stitches, garter stitch and then a fan stitch. I think the fan stitching is quite effective. The pattern itself is very easy to follow and I found that I had knitted it up in next to no time. In the end the number of stitches on the pins was the only thing that slowed me down. If I have one piece of advice though it's to hunt out proper stitch markers. I made do with paper clips since I was too lazy to look for mine (still can't find them). It became a task just to stop them from causing pulls. I don't recommend it.

The yarn is actually a sock yarn that I have used many times before just not in this colourway. It's Happy by Wendy and the colourway is called partie. The photograph is actually an accurate depiction of the colours (my camera normally hates purples of any sort). As I am sure I have said before it's great to knit with. So silky and smooth but can split if you're not careful. It's also a nightmare to use when knitting socks at has a tendency to ladder.

Anyway, a very easy pattern and I think it would be fantastic for anyone relatively new to knitting who would like to try a shawl. It's easy to follow and the stitches used are basic for the most part. If you are on ravelry you can find the patter here.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Granny Stripes and More Cotton!

Ever get the feeling that the bag of cotton is endless? This is yet another cushion from that stash in my attempt to use it up. The third one to be exact. I decided to go for stripes this time. My friend Donna taught me how to crochet granny stripes at last years knitting weekend away. About time I used what I learned.

I even managed to use buttons from my stash this time. In other words I wasn't lazy and hunted through the case to find buttons that match. I love my button tin (which is actually a cute mini case rather than a tin). I love looking through it. I do not love trying to find matching buttons if they aren't staring me in the face straight away. Anyways, I am pleased with them. The only thing I think I should have done is made the flap at the back shorter. What I did was make one large rectangle and then crocheted the sides together so that is looked almost like an envelope. I liked the idea of the flap being long enough to almost reach the bottom of the cushion. However, it's creates gaps at the sides and only buttons running up them will fix that. Would need to get new buttons for that so just going to leave it. i can live with it.

A close up of the stripy goodness. I did each stripe different and I had colours in the same group together with white between each. I quite like the effect. Although my friend taught me how to do this I have seen a good tutorial on one of my favourite blogs if you are interested. It's by Attic 24 (everyone should visit that blog) and you can see it here.

Since I am now in love with instagram here is a photo I took with that. The dangly bit in the bottom corner is a shoe lace from under the table and not my cushion. Apologies for the blurriness. My batter was running out and I didn't pay much attention to how it turned out. Oh, and if you can make it out I did the fan edging again.

I probably have enough to do just one more cushion but I am setting the cotton aside for now.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Circular Granny Cushion!

After finishing the cushion for my sister I decided to make another cushion with all that cotton. This time I kept going with the circular pattern to make a circular cushion. It was actually pretty easy to do since I already had the translation straight in my head. I probably would have finished it in a weekend had I it not been for other things getting in the way. As it was it took me about a week.

I didn't really think about the colours again. I just tried to make sure I used them all and if you look closely both sides are different. This time I didn't do the edging that I love and I am actually quite glad of that. I made the cushion pad myself and sadly it's a little on the small side. My poor cushion cover is a little baggy. I am going to have to make another and unpick the edging to insert it. The moral of that story is never trust a compas! Or, never trust my math skills maybe (especially since I didn't use any).

Oh, and a close up. My mum is now the proud owner. I hadn't planned on giving it away but when I offered it to my mum she was very excited about it. It moves to another space when she is having a cup of coffee. If you want the pattern it is actually called the Granny Mandala and was once again courtesy of Crochet With Raymond.

I still have  A LOT of cotton left and I am thinking yet another cushion. This time possibly granny stripes and I will keep it for myself.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Blind Leading the Blind?

When I was crocheting my squares together last week a few friends from my knitting group were asking how to make the ridge. It's a little hard to talk someone through it when you are on the other side of the table and the only one doing it. I offered to make my mum one of these cushions (it was either that or she was going to pinch my sister's) so thought I could show friends how I did it if we made one together.

I've turned it into a double class. I said that if people were interested I could show them how to do the circular grannies whilst we were there. A few have said yes and I thought that would be no problem at all. That is until I tried to translate the American pattern in British. My weakness is crochet patterns. I'm a little new at being able to follow them so translating might be more than I can handle. It's all written out read for tonight but it's maybe just as well that I will be showing my friends how to do it rather than just handing out the pattern.

Fingers crossed it will all go well and hopefully I will have some finished photo's at some point.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Easter Granny Square Cushion

Remember these a few posts back? I was learning to crochet circles a few weeks ago thanks to pinterest.

Those squares eventually became lots of squares. 32 to be exact. Every single one of them different.

This is what they look like all put together. I am so pleased with the way it turned out. I used every colour in that bag and somehow they all seemed to go together. They aren't colours I would normally put in one project.

I even copied the edging from the Cath Kidston. In the cotton it's a little more subtle. I quite like it though. Hopefully my sister will to as it is for her. I have a load more of this cotton left so I am working on something else. If that doesn't use it up then I have more plans for it.

If you want to learn how to do those granny squares there is a great tutorial on a blog called Crochet With Raymond. That's where I learned. They are actually called grandala squares but I call them circular squares. The tutorial is good although it took some getting used to. Fellow Brit's dc is what we would call a treble.

Oh, and if you are on pinterest say hello. You'll find me there under Karensi1.

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Cath Kidston Granny Square Cushion

I bought the Cath Kidston crochet tin a while back and it contained the yarn and instructions on how to make this cushion. The 9 squares I finished months ago but the back piece took a little longer because there wasn't enough yarn in the kit to finish it. I got about half way when I ran out of two main colours and new I didn't have enough of the rest to substitute it. In fact I was sure I was going to run out of another two before I was done.

I had no way of matching it up without buying another tin. It wasn't that expensive but out of principle I refused to do that. So instead I tried to match up two of the colours and start again with the back. I picked red and blue because I love those colours together. I've seen so many craft projects on pintrest with them together. Unfortunately I had to go with the closest match so the red is a little too deep and the blue a little too pale. I like the way it turned out though and love the big red buttons I picked out to match.

It then sat for about or month or so because I couldn't get a cushion pad the right size. I decided to make my own but then had problems getting stuffing. On Thursday I finally got some, made the pad and stitched the together. When I read the instructions for the edging I was a little wary as to how it was going to turn out. There had already been a mistake earlier and I wondered if this was going to be another one. It didn't make sense to me to skip stitches. Since I am far from a crochet expert though I just went with and love how it turned out. I have fallen a little in love with this edging and I will definitely be using it again.

So this is the Crochet tin and everything that came with it. For the first time ever I am extremely disappointed with Cath Kidston. As I said there wasn't enough yarn to finish it. It was also of very poor quality. It split easily and didn't crochet well. The pattern along with it also contained a mistake (although these things do happen). The booklet was very basic and cheaply made. The only good thing about it was that it suggested to put colours together I wouldn't have the courage to otherwise. That and of course learning a knew edging. It wasn't that expensive though. In the end what you are really paying for is the pretty tin. If you are experienced at crochet I don't recommend it. You could probably do it yourself just by looking at the image. I would say it is okay for beginners but keep in mind that the yarn will split and might look messy.

I should point out that I have several Cath Kidston books which came with projects and I have never been disappointed with those.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Thank You Helen!

I don't think I ever mentioned it here but after Christmas I had a ruthless clear out of all my craft supplies. I basically got rid of everything that I knew I wasn't going to use but somehow I was hanging on to it. I created a large bag of supplies for my sister who I knew would use it in work. I created another large bag for the knitting group swap night. My mum got a few bits and pieces too. My scrapbook supplies went to my friend Helen though. Again I knew she would use them and some of them have been used to teach another friend to scrapbook. As a thank you Helen made me this lovely card. This is getting saved along with other hand made cards I've collected. For now though it has pride of place on my shelf. Thank you Helen.

Helen is one of the members of my knitting group and you can see her other talents (along with other members) here.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

What I learned and What I'm Up To!

On Saturday my knitting group held one of it's craft days and as usual we had various lessons lined up. I think that last time I only took part in one class. This time it was two. The first one was on Sashiko quilting (pronounced Sashko). This is traditionally done with white stitching on blue fabric. The stitch used is just your basic running stitch and you follow the pattern round in a way that you have as little binding off of the thread as possible. Obviously we weren't going to learn quilting in one day but I was able to make a coaster.  The one above was the one I made which then went to my mum since she couldn't be there that day.

We also got to take kits home and I picked out this blue one. I did this after I got home on Saturday night whilst I taught my mum how to do it. There is something therapeutic about stitching these. Once the pattern is drawn out (thankfully that part was done for me) the stitching is relatively simple. You can do it in front of the TV without having to really think about it. Since my sisters living room is blue this one is going to her as part of her hand made Easter.

I also learned how to make a doily using a 2mm crochet hook and some crochet cotton. I actually found this a lot easier to do than I thought I would. The pattern was in the form of a chart which I think helped since I'm used to those from knitting socks. Plus the stitches were just your basic chain, doubles and trebles. I might have a shot at something more complicated next.

Having learned all that I also taught myself something new (I can thank pinterest for that). I have been wondering what to do with all my spare cotton since I no longer sell baby socks. I decided to make the circular granny squares and they will eventually become part of my sisters hand made Easter.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Happy Mothers Day!

Can you guess the theme I went with for this Mothers Day? I decided to go with my mum's favourite colour. There is something handmade in there. I just managed to finish a pair of socks knitted for my mum.

The yarn used is by Schollers Stahl and is called Fortissima Color. I thought it was German but having read the label it actually says made in Italy. I just picked it out because of the reds that run through it. It was lovely to knit with. No splitting or tangling and is made 75% of pure wool. It's also machine washable which is always a bonus.

The pattern I got from the book I mentioned last time, Knitting on the Road by Nancy Bush. This particular pattern is called Whitby and, funnily enough, is inspired by Whitby in England. The pattern is based on a pattern found on a sailor's gansy. I picked it though because of the cables. I love cables but always seem to pick lace patterns. Knitting this was a nice change. It was also relatively easy to follow. So simple I actually got carried away and the foot is a little long for my mum who has tiny feet. The legs look narrow because of the rib pattern.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Easter Chicks!

So this last week everything else has been put aside to knit these chicks. A friend from my knitting group sent me the pattern and I have been hooked since.

The yarn used is called sprinkles by King Cole. To make the chicks hold their shape you have to use 3 1/4mm needles. The band around the yarn recommends knitting it with 6mm. As a result it made for some very tight knitting and some very sore fingers. Worth it though. On average you can get four chicks out of one ball. I managed five but I think I am quite a tight knitter. I also gave them larger beaks than I was supposed to. I think it gives them more character. The chick at the top has been given away already. One is for my sister and I haven't yet decided where the other three are going.

Oh, and the best part? They hold chocolate.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Socks....Just Because.

Months and months ago I promised a friend a pair of hand-knitted socks. Then another friend gave me some sock yarn that she didn't want and I knew straight away that the friend in need of socks would like it. I have to confess that they had been on the pins for months and I just finished them at the weekend. My excuse is that birthday gifts got in the way.

Anyways, because of the pattern of the yarn I used just the basic sock pattern. I felt that it would show off the fair isle effect better which it did. Plus I started them when I had little time and needed a project that required little thinking. Sadly I don't know what the yarn is as I got it without the band. I can tell you though that it is extremely soft. Perfect for feet. I love the colours too. The bright blues and greens really stood out against the darker shades. Made it lovely to watch it knit up. I'm almost sad that I finished them. My friend was delighted with them and didn't even give me a hard time for it taking so long.

Oh, and another photo just to prove that I do knit more than one sock.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Knitting Group Love!

About a month ago one of my friends from my knitting group asked us to knit jumpers for a charity. A friend from her church was knitting them for children with Aids in Africa. She asked my friend if any of us would be interested in knitting some. I have to confess I was unable to join in due to demands from my course (plus no one would want a jumper knitted by me) but everyone in the group took to it and I had to share. In the space of just a month 126 jumpers were knitted. A few got people from their work into it. Most even have matching hats. The lady collecting was just hoping for maybe one from each of us so I'm sure she will be in for a surprise. Normally I don't post about my groups activities here but I had to share this one.

If you are interested you can see more about the group from our blog here (although I have yet to post about this there).

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Twin Socks

I haven't just been stash buying. I have also been using some up. Actually both pairs of socks were knitted with the last of  my stash before I bought more. The yarn is by Regia and is called Hand-Dye Effect. Not my favourite yarn to knit with but I have used it before and I do like the end result. The blue and the purple are my favourite colours from the range. If you do use it be warned that it splits very easily. I also recommend re-winding it as it has a tendency to tangle too because of the way it has been wound in the first place.

Both pairs were knitted for friends. The blue pair was a birthday present and the purple was a surprise. I think I had promised them both socks a while back so may have been a surprise to them both finally getting them. They look a little long in the foot (and probably are) but I wanted to get to the end of the diamond patter before finishing the sock.

You can see a close up of the diamond pattern above. It's a lace pattern and is honestly easier to knit than it looks. I've knitted this a few times and have never had problems with it once I got into a rhythm.

The pattern is called New England and is from one of my favourite sock knitting books, Knitting On The Road by Nancy Bush. I say one of my favourites but I have only ever knitted this one pattern. I have good intentions of trying on of the others but I love this one so much I can't help it. I did consider a different one with the purple but the yarn just didn't work with that pattern. 

I love this book because there are so many different patterns to choose from. Each one is inspired by a different area and with an explanation as to why. The pattern itself has a page of easy to follow instructions and then the chart is over a double page. Making it very easy to read. I know not everyone likes charts but I prefer them. Plus because it's spiral bound it lies flat making it easier to work from. The images of the socks are fantastic too so that you can see the pattern in detail. There is also a pattern for every taste; colour work, lace, cables and some with only a small amount of detail. I don't think it's for the first time sock knitter but good if you want to branch out from the basic sock pattern.