Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Another One Bites the Dust!

It's the end of January and I have another item off my bucket list. That makes two and two was my goal. This Mandala rug was the main one I wanted to do. I knew I would be buying the yarn to do this at some point this year. In a post about new stash I had shown you a picture of the Boodles t-shirt yarn. Here it is all crocheted up into the rug. I am again proud of myself for being able to follow the pattern. Especially since it was in American terminology. In truth it was made up entirely of trebles and chains so it wasn't that hard.

It was actually hardest on my poor arms. The hook I needed was so big that none of the stores had it and I had to order it on line. You can see the difference between the 15mm and the 4mm I used for the baby blankets. You can't quite hold it the same way. It meant I had to take breaks from it. Although I would crochet to the point where my arm was in agony. It was just too fun watching it grow.

 It's big enough for me to sit in the middle of. I think it's just a nice size. To be honest it should have been two or three rounds bigger but this was already taking up more yarn than planned and I wasn't for buying more.

The reason being is that I do not recommend Boodles t-shirt yarn. The original pattern recommended zpaggetti yarn. That was the yarn that I was originally going to get because it offered more colours. However, as you seen already, I spotted the exact colours I wanted in the Boodles and I couldn't help myself. It meant I could have the yarn there and then rather than order it. This is why it doesn't pay to be impatient. This rug took up 4 1/2 balls of yarn where the pattern said 3. Keeping in mind I stopped two or three rows earlier in the pattern. The red ball was significantly smaller than the blue but I though I would have enough to do a few rounds in the middle and then the edging. The red only lasted for half the edging and then I had to take it out.

Just as annoying is the quality. There are constant joins through it. In some places they were tied together and in others they were badly stitched with white thread. The yarn also went incredibly thin  in places which has distorted some of my stitches. Probably to the thickness of a DK type yarn. Then there is the colours. You can see from this that the last round and the border is done in a different shade of blue. It would seem that boodles doesn't differentiate between shades. It just lists everything as blue. I ordered more online. The photo was the same shade that I had used and I received a very pale blue. I thought this was just a mistake of the store but when I went into the store I saw that there were three distinct shades of blue and they were all listed as the same colourway. The border was the closest I could get to mine.

In short, I loved the pattern. I am very pleased with the end result. I would like to do this again but I will be more patient next time and stick with the recommended yarn. A friend of mine has used the both this and the zpaggetti and has said there is a huge difference in quality.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Pins I Love - Socks

It had to be done. If I was going to collect pins it was only right that I should base a post around socks. All of these have links to patterns on ravelry. Only two of them are free though. The rest you will have to pay for. This first one is by the famous Elizabeth Zimmerman. I think most knitters know of or have heard of her. These are more slippers than socks but I had to add them. First because it's Elizabeth Zimmerman. Second they are just so pretty! As always, click on the image and it will take you direct to the pattern on ravelry.

The second pair is truly gorgeous. Orange isn't usually my colour but the brightness suits the sock. It's called "Water for the Elephants" and was designed by Rose Hiver. It doesn't look like she has a blog but she has lots of lovely designs on ravelry. Best of all this one is free. I find it hard to believe as I think people would pay for this pattern. It won't stop me from taking advantage of it though.

Another free sock pattern. This one is a little more subtle but I quite like the muted tones. It was designed by Julia Mueler and is called "Dark Isle Socks". They are also a little longer and I think they would make a good sock for underneath boots.

Not a colourway pattern this time but a lace one. I love a lace pattern and this one is very pretty. Not sure I would use such a bright pink but I do like the effect of the lace. This one is called "Cavalcade Socks" and is designed by Tanis Lavallee.

I love this pattern. I love the colour of the yarn and I think it compliments the sock nicely. If it looks like a familiar design to you it's because it's by Cookie A. I love her designs and I think you can usually tell her designs from others. This one you can purchase straight from ravelry. I might have to put this one on my wish list.

I have a board dedicated just to knitty socks and for now it's the ones with colour work which appeal to me most. Sadly not all of them link to patterns. However, I have plenty of books and I should really look out one and have a go. Which one is your favourite?

Friday, 24 January 2014

More Baby Blankets!

I was hoping that by this point I would have something to show you that I am a might bit proud of. However, I ran out of yarn. I ordered more thinking it would only take a few days but it took a week. It finally arrived today and it's completely the wrong shade. I just have to hope the store has the right colour when I return it. This really has nothing to do with this post but I needed to vent my frustrations.

In other news I finished three more baby blankets for my friends preemie charity. She is collecting preemie hats and blankets from members of the online group and then sending them off to two charities. The first photo I stole from my knitting group blog page. The photo's I originally took made the red far too bright thanks to the lighting (bring on the longer days). The red was leftover from another charity I knitted for (hope to have photo's from that soon). I thought that would make the blankets nice and bright.

This white is the last one I am handing in as I have another charity to knit for. I had originally planned to make a large granny blanket for myself. This would be something else off my bucket list. I love that slate blue. Even though it's basic acrylic it is so soft and I love the colour. I also love the minimalist style and had planned mainly white with a strip of blue every tenth round. The truth is, that as much as I love the blue it wouldn't really fit with the colours that I am planning for my flat.

So I edged it off and handed it in to Lisa. I think this blanket might be my favourite of the five that I have handed in. It's not as brightly coloured as the others but hopefully someone will like it. I can use the rest of the blue for the knitting groups charity.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Pins I Love 2.

Another pinterest update. I have an actual theme this time. If you guess crochet you would have guessed correctly. My love of crochet continues to grow just now. I seem to spend most of my time working with a hook rather than a set of dpns these days. So these pins are all about crochet. This first image combines three of my loves; cushions, crochet and buttons. Sadly, when I went investigating, I discovered that this pattern is no longer available. So I have nothing to link it too. The rest though are all linked to free patterns. So just click on the images.

I am cheating with this one. I actually pinned this some time ago. This week I did pin a baby blanket using the solid granny that I like so much. The pattern was based on this one though so I thought it best to link to the original. You will notice that the centres of these squares start off circular. The pattern comes form a website called The Purl Bee. I love visiting this website. They usually feature simplistic designs with touches of colour. I love this rainbow blanket though. Who doesn't love a rainbow?

I'm not sure I like the colours in this one. It's a little too bright even for me. I would also prefer that the entire cushion was made out of the crochet squares. I love the ruffle pattern though. I imagine that would feel so comfy and squidgy. Very comforting! I also think that it would make a good wash cloth design. I might have seen that on pinterest already. I doubt I came up with that myself. I just noticed that I lied about this pattern being available. The image is instead link to the flickr page belonging to the person who made this. It's actually designed by the same person who wrote the book "Granny Square Love", Sarah London. I think I have that book somewhere but you can visit her webpage here.

Now this one is linked to the pattern. It's in US abbreviations but just substitute double crochet for treble and you should be fine. I love the look of these. I think it's the contrast between the gray and the brighter colours. I think I will definitely be trying it at some point. I think there are a few free patterns on this page so might be worth checking out.

I love this scarf. I love both the colour and the design. This type of crochet is called broomstick.  The page says that it is easy but I have my doubts. Won't stop me from trying (at some point). Best of all it's available on ravelry and it's free! Have I mentioned my love of ravelry?

This laptop cover is also done in crochet and is also free on ravelry. I have promised myself many times to make a laptop cover (my laptop is still not playing) or a cover for my iPad. One day I will. What I love about this one is that it's done in cables. I love cables but have never attempted to do crochet cables. Would be interesting to have a go.

I'm not going to lie, I haven't done anything about the pins I posted last week. Only so many hours in the day. My talented mother on the other hand made the most amazing chicken noodle soup. I can tell you for a fact that it was amazing. She used Mary Berry's recipe though rather than the one I posted.

Friday, 17 January 2014

One Box Ticked!

The other day I picked up this months edition of Simply Crochet. I have maybe bought this magazine once before. I don't do a lot of crochet and I find it difficult to follow crochet patterns. This tends to put me off (I think it comes from starting off as a knitter first). I picked up this one though because my friends business was being advertised and I wanted to see it. Lets face it, I really only need the slightest excuse to pick up a crafting magazine.

There was a section on decorating your craft space. There were quite a few things in there that I liked. One of them was a lacy border for embroidery hoops. Normally this sort of thing wouldn't appeal but tastes change. Plus I am working on a camper van cross stitch which is going to be framed in a hoop and thought that this would be perfect. I did the medium size in white with pink to match the cross stitch. I am so proud of myself that I managed it. And it's not a granny square! That means I can actually tick something off my bucket list.

I'm not going to lie, it wasn't easy. Doing the initial double crochet around the hoop was both awkward and sore on the hand. The third row I had to do about three times before I got it right. That was down to my lack of experience in reading patterns. The photo above was my first attempt at that row. I did eventually get it and although it took me all afternoon I am pleased with the result.

Since I got the hang of it I then decided to do the bigger lacy hoop border for the frog prince cross stitch I did last year. I had picked out white with a black border. I forgot that the fabric of the cross stitch was an off white so it looks a little odd. Plus the hoop is really a little too small for that design. However, I got it right first time so it stays for now.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Knitting Class 1 & 2!

Last night was the second lesson for my sock class. It saw the first pair of socks completed. I am so excited and they look fab. The lady who finished these is now half way through her second pair. I wonder if I have created another sock monster! I can't take all of the credit. She had been given a basic sock pattern by Helen and she had managed up to the heel by the time the first class started. With my notes she managed the heel on her own. Last night she just needed me to show her how to graft the toe as it is easier to see someone do it than follow the instructions. I am actually thinking of making a small youtube video with that in mind. Looking at these socks though you would never think this was her first time knitting them.

Week one went off to a good start. I know the ladies might say otherwise but I thought they did well. The hardest part is getting used to the tiny needles and working with so many of them. I don't think any of them believed me that after a few rows it would get easier and not to be put off by the start.

You can see my mum here going great guns. To be fair to the other ladies she has knitted sock before. This is really just a refresher course and I promised to teach her an alternative toe.

Last night I had three more ladies joining in. By this point I knew people would be at different stages. We all work at different paces and I wasn't going to stop people from working beyond the stage I asked them to. I want people to be enthusiastic and so I was expecting this. The three ladies sat together so that it would be easier for me to talk them through each stage. To be honest they didn't need much. After that initial row they were off and actually got into it. I was even told that they might not need the Valium they thought they would after all.

This lady is using metal needles because the bamboo needles irritate her hands. I thought this would make it slightly harder for her. The metal tends to be heavier plus metal needles are a lot longer. This can weigh down the knitting which causes problems at the start of the sock. She managed no problem with them though. I absolutely love the way this sock is knitting up.

This lovely lady was adamant last week that she was packing it all in. She had to walk away from it a few times. Determined to do her homework though she kept going. She is quite chuffed that she has managed it so far although isn't happy with the way it looks. For a first sock I think it looks amazing.

Lastly my mum turned the heel last night. This is my friends hand-dyed yarn that I rave and rave about. This is the one I got my mum for her Christmas. Love the way the pattern is turning out. So pretty!

I'm looking forward to next week to see how everyone gets on. I have notes to write up for a short row heel for another lady and I am considering the Youtube videos for the people online who have asked me for my notes. Just as well I have a few weeks off before I am back to uni.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Pins I love

As promised some Pins I love. I was going to have this all planned out with possibly a theme. Definitely everything was going to be linked to tutorials. However, my essays (did you know I had essays) decided enough was enough and they needed my attention. They are all in now and I can do this without that niggling guilty feeling. All that means is that this post isn't planned out in the slightest. I have no idea what I am going to put here as yet. Fun, huh? I will be a good girl though and tell you that none of these images are mine and if you click on each of them it will take you direct to the source.

First up its Brain from Pinky and the Brain. I spotted this today on my pinterest feed. I LOVED Pinky and the Brain and I love this cross stitch. The link takes you to craftster (which I used to stalk regularly but have fallen away from it). It's not linked to a pattern, sorry, but I think the person who made this adapted it from something else.

Yesterday I created a new pinterest board to feed my love of camper vans. I don't know where this love of camper vans has come from since I get travel sick. I just love their retro look. I only became aware that I loved them when I stitched those cushions last year. This cushion was done in applique. Again, there is no pattern. This beautiful cushion is a product of lynseyhunter via etsy (click on the picture).

I have a bit of a crochet obsession going on just now. I was going to post something with the solid granny which I am loving just now. The image I was thinking off just links to a collection of images on tumblr. I would rather link to the person who created it. So instead here is a rose blanket. There is a pattern which you can buy from Sweetcrocheterie on etsy. It's in dollars so I am assuming that it will be in American crochet terminology. Easy to translate though if you do a wee google search. This is stunning. I love the colours. I think though I would like it as a cushion rather than a blanket. I think it's a bit of a yarn eater too. Worth it though. If you click on the makers name it will take you to her etsy page. I can't get the photo to link.

Got the picture linking in this one! I am a sucker for a paper craft. I don't do it that often. The most I do is decorate my academic diary with washi tape or mess about with my craft filofax. This was posted on a blog that all Swiss. I don't know what it says but pinterest says that it gives ideas for decorating wrapped gifts. This one makes use of bunting made from washi tape. I would love to decorate my own gift wrap but I am never going to have the time for it. Instead I might use this idea to decorate my filofax. Or possibly a letter to my sister.

Last one is from another relatively new board I created. I love soup and I've started collecting recipes. I haven't attempted any yet a soup is the speciality of others in the family. This chicken noodle soup looks so yummy though. It comes from a blog called Feasting at Home and it includes the recipe.

This is just a small sample of what I have been oohing and aahing over. I am never off it so there will be plenty to choose from for next week. Maybe it will be more organised, who knows.

Would love to hear if you have any favourite pins or if you have fallen in love with something and created a board around it.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

First Finish of the Year!

This is my first attempt at blogging from my iPad. The truth is my laptop and I had a little falling out over tea. Not the first time I have to say. I am hoping like last time it will come out of its huff after a week of drying out. Unlike last time I had backed up my essays.

In the meantime I thought I would share my first finishes of the year. You caught a glimpse of it in my last post. As I said then I took a fancy to some crochet after seeing some lovely images on Instagram. Two baby blankets for a crochet along. Blankets and hats are being made for premature babies.

I took the opportunity to learn a new pattern. It's called a solid granny. I thought i was being clever and moving away from the granny. It's just another take on it. So not sure I can claim this as something off my bucket list. I used the yarn I had leftover from the mug cosies which is so lovely and soft but acrylic too. I know, the high brow knitters are cringing at the acrylic but it really is so very soft. Plus, it has to be acrylic. The hospitals request it as it can be washed in high temperatures.

I didn't have enough of the blue and so edged it in a darker blue. I used the fan edging I am so fond of as a border. I enjoyed it so much I did the same again withe purple and edged it with the small amount of white I had left. I did pin them but they still had a slight wave. I was unable to have them pinned for as long as I would have liked. I quite like the end result though.

Hmmm, well that was a big fat waste of time. In the end I had to borrow my dad's computer to add the photo's again as they were fuzzy the first time and edit the font. Never mind, I use the iPad for just about everything else.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

I Am Teaching!

I volunteered to teach socks again. Not sure who I can blame for this. There are a few people from my knitting group who mentioned they were interested. Last time this happened I sent round a sheet and three people sat in on the lesson. I thought this time would be similar. Never mind the fact that our little group has almost doubled in size since then (the mailing list I send out has 50 emails on it, although not all make it along). So obviously I was wrong. I have 10 people on my sign up sheet.

This has just given me the excuse I needed to gather together all the wee bits and bobs I've learned over the last few years knitting socks. Previously I handed out the basic pattern I learned from myself and then knitted alongside the others and explained the steps. This time I decided to re-write the pattern with explanations.


I started by knitting one sock over the Christmas period and taking photo's at each progression point. All the areas that I remembered caused me difficulty. I haven't had the chance to proof read it because I am also working on essays (which I should probably be doing now). I imagine there will be some typos in there but since I will be there with them we can work around it. I'll take notes of changes and adapt it as there are a few others who have expressed interest but don't live in Glasgow. Fingers crossed it will work and the lovely ladies relying on my will have a pair of socks by the end of it all.

The sock lessons will take place over a period of weeks. We only have so much time at the knitting group and I'm aware that everyone will be working at a different pace. Sadly that will also mean homework. I am a hard task master. I will be knitting my second sock alongside the others. Sometimes it's easier to have something on hand to demonstrate. I've even included an alternative toe as my mum is joining in. She has knitted socks in the past and would like to learn a different technique.

Look out for how I get on (those poor people).

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Purchases, Pinnings and Sneak Peaks!

I hope everyone had a lovely New Year. Mine was spent as planned. In my jammies with my sister, DVDs, food and a few drinks. I also did a bit of knitting. Reluctantly my nose is back in the books but I am taking some time out to relax too.

Like yesterday, I met my friend Clare for coffee in the morning and we did a wee bit of shopping. I'm not going to lie, there was also cake. We ended up in hobbycraft which I had intended. I wanted to pick up some acrylic yarn for a crochet along (yes another one). As it had to be acrylic I wasn't going to be spending much. I had no intentions of buying anything else so intentionally left a voucher I had behind. When will I ever learn that I have no will power? As soon as I stepped in the store I saw they have created a display with their t-shirt yarn. Plus they had the colours I want for the mandala rug. How could I walk away with Christmas money in my pocket? Fingers cross this will be enough as this was the last red in the shade that I like on the shelf. It's also smaller than the other hanks (a friend of mine warned me that despite the labels the yardage on each of the hanks of boodles differ - most annoying).

I got the acrylic I wanted too and some glue sticks. I was then going to pick up a few other things to help me tick off things on my bucket list. See, now that I have created one I have an obsession about making sure I do it all. Even though my common sense tells me otherwise. I forgot the other things which is maybe just as well. Just because I have the means to do the projects doesn't mean it's going to get done. I only have so many pairs of hands.

I can also only have so many projects on the go at once. Just now I have three pairs of socks half finished. Two pairs are for the sock lesson I am preparing and one is because I wanted to knit something comfy. I really should cast on that second comfy sock. I can't start the other two before the class.

Thanks to instagram I also took a fancy to doing some crochet. This is the problem with instagram. So many lovely pics of what people are working on. I am weak people! If you remember back to the mood blanket it was part of a crochet along. The same group are doing another but this time it's for charity. Making hats and blankets for premature babies. A good cause! Plus, I get to use up some of my leftover yarn. All the justification I needed to ignore that little voice in my head telling me I should really be finishing other things. It's this project I needed the acrylic for because it has to be washed in high temperatures. It's fairly quick to do and it's for a good cause. Almost finished the first one.

Another great method of procrastination is Pinterest. It's no secret that I am a fan. I could spend hours on it and have done. It's a great fount of inspiration and I may even have made one or two things from pins (although don't ask me what because I can't remember). Anyway, I am thinking of doing weekly posts of some of my favourite pins. The problem is choosing them. I might try and strictly only list pins that are linked to tutorials or patterns. We shall see.