I went home to Devon this weekend and spent the time in a very pleasant manner, working on my projects, drawing, visiting my grandmothers, eating good food and drinking too much good Devon ale. It was lovely being home – especially as I got the train to and from the county, giving me lots of crafting time!
I did manage to find some GORGEOUS green yarn which is perfect for my joins – remember this photo for the colours?
Granny Squares Progress
I have made tonnes of progress with my granny squares, with the first 24 complete and nearly crocheted together. The joining process took a lot of research on my part, and was a bit mind-boggling as I discovered there are about a hundred different ways to join them.
I went for the granny join, using this tutorial to choose. There were a number of reasons for choosing this one – first and foremost, I am concerned that the blanket will not be big enough and I wanted a join that will give me as much of an increase in space as possible!
Other factors leading to this decision – I liked the idea of making the join ‘part’ of the squares rather than A Border, the tutorial was fairly easy to follow considering I was on a train and had limited space and only my phone to read for the instructions – and it meant I didn’t have to learn any fancy new crochet techniques!
The blanket is working up quickly and I am pleased with it so far. I love the colours, and I am so happy I didn’t shy away from doing a radically different colour border as I absolutely adore the way it looks.
Other Weekend Antics
Wonder-Mum and I spent a while at home drawing and watching the Grand National on Saturday. I was feeling a bit distracted, and alternated between crocheting my granny squares and drawing – resulting in a drawing I’m not extremely happy with, but not totally unhappy either.
It was a wonderful way to spend the weekend, and I’m INTO drawing again. It’s been a while!
In other news – did you watch the Great British Sewing Bee Finale last night? What do you think? I was rooting for someone else, but I think the winner deserved her success too. Congratulations to all of them!
In my April Resolutions post the other day, I mentioned that I had a finished object; and can now reveal that it is Hitchhiker!
Hitchhiker – a completed shawl
The last time I talked about this project, I was lamenting the fact that the colours didn’t blend into each other nicely. When I finished it and put it on, I realised that this did not matter even a little bit. You just can’t see the joins between the colours – so no stress there!
I finished it on Sunday, making it a little bit over a month from start to completion of the project; not too bad going considering I seriously lost my knitting mojo halfway through March!
I love this project, although the final shawl is a little short for my liking. I’m not entirely sure how to wear it so I am wearing it like a scarf with the widest point covering my chest/neck/v-in-my-collar region. Wrapping it around twice leaves tiny little ends that unwrap and create nasty gaps where cold air can get in, and wrapping it once leaves long ends and doesn’t quite cover everything I want to be covered. I guess my question here is: can anyone enlighten me on how to wear a Hitchhiker?
The yarn is Desert Vista Dyeworks Voir in the Northern Lights colourway. It is 100% merino, 100% soft, and absolutely gorgeous. The colours have definitely grown on me, and despite declaring that I would not be buying from them again, I have my eye on this one…
The yarn was fingering weight, which is lovely for a slightly more delicate accessory – especially as summer is approaching with glee. I might explore making it in a dk weight next (there will definitely be a next one) and seeing if that makes it a bit bulkier and suitable for a London winter for the next one.
Here is the explanation from the designer, Martina Behm, for the name of the shawl. This is copied directly from the pattern page on Ravelry, where you can buy it for EUR 3.20.
The name? Well, if you use a 150 g skein of Wollmeise 100% Merino for this, you can make how many teeth? That‘s right, 42. The answer to the question about the universe and everything, according to Douglas Adams’ wonderful book “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. So don‘t forget your towel, and happy knitting!
So, that’s it! Not too bad, and now I feel much more motivated to move towards finishing more projects. Hurrah!
PS Haven’t read The Hitchhiker’s Guide? Go get it from the library. Now.
It’s the time of the year again – the beginning of a new month and time to set my resolutions for April 2014. Before I start on that though, I thought I would look back at last year and how things went in April 2013.
April 2013 Resolutions
My resolutions were:
Knit three different sock patterns.
Knit something with beads in it.
Find a suitable pattern for Wonder-Mum‘s Big Birthday.
Make a wool hackle.
It’s really interesting looking at these because it is a mark of how far I have come in the last year. I failed on all four of these – I knitted one sock pattern (Cadence), and have still not knitted anything with beads in it. Nor do I own a wool hackle. I did find a suitable pattern for Wonder-Mum’s birthday, but it was one I’d picked out years ago and I only decided on it a few weeks ago and now don’t have time to make it.
I think it’s a really good reminder to myself to go back and have a look at this – because I have been worrying I’m not giving myself enough goals (I’m very much a ‘get home and have a nap…ALL NIGHT’ kind of person) but it’s important to remember I’m setting myself achievable goals. With that in mind, I can think back to March 2014….
I did fairly well – I didn’t get to the lace section on Erquy, but I did get 2/3rds of the way there. I got to the sleeves on Garland and I certainly worked on some long-term projects, with two FO’s and some substantial progress on the Gigantic Blankie. I also learned to crochet – so March was busy and successful!
I’ve now decided on my April 2014 Resolutions…
April 2014 Resolutions
With achievable at the helm, we have the following.
Work on existing projects but DO NOT CAST ON ANY NEW PROJECTS.
The third one is particularly important – I don’t know if I could even complete a single sleeve of Garland, so I don’t want to set anything specific for that, and the same for Gigantic Blankie. Given that I cast on Hitchhiker and Granny Squares Galore in March, I want to give myself that restriction so that I can start MAY with a clear conscience that any lingering bits have been worked on.
And yes, I have an FO to reveal on Friday!
So that’s it for now. Don’t forget to check out the Resolutions Group on Ravelry to make your own and have a productive month!
I have been really getting into the homemaker spirit recently, with many happy hours being spent on the websites Gumtree, Ebay, Argos and IKEA browsing furniture and imagining ways to make home more comfortable.
Mental health issues aside, it’s always nice to have a comfy home, right? In fact, a pin that I added to my profile in a spate of “I want all the things” has become my most pinned pin on Pinterest…
Homemaker rocking chair
While I’ve been rearranging the flat with abandon, I made a chair-sized space in our room which needed something I could sit in and knit while reading or similar. Ever since that day I have been searching for a rocking chair or small easy chair.
I finally found one this weekend – advertised as an upcycling project on Gumtree, it was just a 6 minute drive from our flat. At £20, I couldn’t say no. I picked it up last night and brought it home.
It is rather bigger than I thought it would be, and it sits very low, which is fantastic for my short legs! The seat is nice and wide – there is no constriction of my child-bearing hips (ahem) and the vertical poles at the back are nicely placed so they don’t hurt my spine.
It does need some work rather badly – this stenciling has got to go – and I haven’t decided if I’m going to paint it white or just sand it and then varnish it. I could also use my Dremel to put some beautiful designs in it…what do you think?
For the moment, I have found a good way to free up some storage on my book-cases, and hide the slightly offensive sight. They look happy, don’t they?!
This week I am ‘wasting my time’, working on Granny Squares. I call this wasting my time because it corresponds to none of my March Resolutions – however, I have pretty much realised I’ve gone as far as I will go with those particular projects, and it is now time for me to spend a few days relaxing with something that is no pressure.
Although I may still try pick up Erquy, I haven’t decided.
I think I have progressed rather a lot…I now have five in pretty purple yarns that I bought last Friday for a baby blanket, and a schematic laid out for 24 squares to give me all of the combinations of the four colours. I was originally going to do them all starting with the pale purple in the middle, with the gradient to the darkest purple (the middle left square) but realised I would end up with funky yarn quantity requirements with that scheme, so I changed my plans.
I may decide to do 48 and have two of each combination, or I may buy more yarn in complementary colours (possibly a green) and combine the blanket that way. I may decide to just stick with the 24 – the baby is due in June and I have a lot to do between now and then, so I may not finish by then if I get too ambitious.
My printer didn’t give a true-to-screen printout of my colour-scheme, which is a little annoying – I tried it three times with about five different combinations of settings, but I’ve decided to cut my losses and keep it as is.
I haven’t decided what colour the borders between the squares is going to be yet – the baby is a little girl and the obvious choice is going for a complementary pink, but I am really against getting too stereotypical here. If I stick with just the purple squares, I will go for a green border in all likelihood. I am really inspired by the colours in this photo.
I’m finding each one a little easier, but it’s still not easier than knitting, as many people have told me it will get…I don’t think I’ve been converted, but I am definitely enjoying having a new skill!
It was a wonderful weekend. I made some good progress on Garland and I got a haircut that I will admit, I’m a little in love with. I haven’t had a fringe since I was 10!! Adore.
Garland – finished for March!
I am exceedingly pleased to say that I finished the body of Garland last night and reached my March goal of ‘get to the sleeves’ on Garland. I was going to put it into hibernation for a while, but it will be perfect for this strange spring weather we are having at the moment, so I think I may make a push to finish it in early April.
I love working with Kidsilk Haze, and the fabric it makes is so gorgeous. Soft and smooth and silky, and the strands of silk in the yarn give it a sheen that is second to none. However. I find that if I am not very careful with it, it’s really easy to pull the stitches around a create fairly large ‘holes’ in the work.
At the distance in the photos, it isn’t at all obvious, so that is a bit of a blessing, but as someone who is fairly clumsy, this really drives home the point that I am going to have to be a bit careful how I treat it when it is on – and make sure I stop catching clothes on that door catch in my bosses office everytime I walk in and out!
Just a note on the pattern – the official pattern instructs you to graft the shoulder seams, and I did this with our favourite kitchener stitch with no problem. I didn’t leave long enough tails, however – so if you decide to make yourself one, make sure you leave long tails for grafting.
One of the lovely girls from Loop, Sonja (who is also a talented designer, check out her work here), has made her own Garland and did a three-needle bind-off for her shoulder seam. She thought this would be stronger, and although I loved the thinking behind it, I didn’t have enough of my knitting gubbins around me (i.e. another needle) to accomplish this when I was ready to go. I’d been putting off the seams for a while – with the momentum behind me, I didn’t want to pause for anything!
I thought it was going to be far too big and swamp me (remember the below photo?) but I really like it on. I’m feeling very enthusiastic about it again – who knew what a change a week could make!
The bad news is that with the purchase of new yarn and having learned a new skill (more info here), I am now losing motivation to work on Hitchhiker and Garland. As much as I love these projects, I am so excited to move on to new things…
The good news is that I have made *some* progress – thank God for my commute and Time Team!
The last time you saw Hitchhiker, it looked like this:
I have made quite a bit of progress – the majority because it is all garter stitch except each end, so it is nice and easy to blast through when I’m reading. I am enjoying knitting it, even though I am super keen to finish – I used to finish three points every tube journey, now it’s more like three rows!
The yarn is from Desert Vista Dyeworks in the States, and one of their gradient yarns. When I ordered it, I had in mind a gradient that was very smooth, with the colours blending one into the other, similar to Whippoorwill by Sarah from Crafts from the Cwtch (this shawl has recently achieved fame – find out more here!)
I’m a bit saddened by the fact that it is in fact not a smooth gradient, and given the choice I wouldn’t order from them again. The yarn is really, really lovely to work with, but the way the colours work together aren’t my cup of tea and I may actually gift Hitchhiker rather than keep it myself.
Do not let this put you off the yarn if you don’t mind this type of colour change! Right, enough negativity.
Oh, Garland. Miles and miles of stocking stitch in the finest yarn I have ever had the pleasure of using. I can’t really show you any ‘progress’ as such, as it won’t be obvious in a photo – but I am very worried that I am just knitting FAR more fabric than I need.
Even if it is too big, this is one item that will not be going anywhere but right in my cupboard at home. I love the fabric, I love the drape, I love the colour…I can’t wait to finish it, even if the miles of stocking stitch are getting a little bit on top of me!
My March Resolution is to get to the sleeves – I anticipate I will reach that milestone tonight. Hurrah!
Does anyone else have any experience of working with Kidsilk Haze? It has to be one of my favourite ever yarns.
I did eight hours with them, passed on some knitting skillz, learned some new skillz myself, and had a thoroughly pleasant time!
Teaching and learning skills with the UKHKA
So, what did this involve? Basically, sitting on the lovely stand in a corner of the exhibition hall, with trees decorated with knitted leaves, teaching passers-by to knit said leaves. The first day, Saturday, I was a bit quiet – there were many people coming on to the stand to learn something new, but about 95% of them were knitters looking to learn how to crochet.
I worked on Hitchhiker for a while, then decided this was the perfect time for me to join the crowd. I sat down with one of the other volunteers, and by the end of the morning I had made this.
I have had a few disastrous attempts at learning to crochet before…this was much better! I bought myself a crochet hook with a handle (much, much more comfortable) and some muted yarns for a tonal blanket, and have been working on a granny square since. (There’s an excellent tutorial here which I used to remind myself.)
On Sunday, I turned up and the first person I taught was indeed a girl who wanted to learn to knit. This was completed successfully in about an hour, and she took her little leaf off with her a little proudly. I was then approached by a woman wanting to learn to make a granny square. We went through the pattern – she was an experienced crocheter and just wanted to learn the steps, and off she went happy.
Then the big challenge came. One knitter turned up wanting to learn to crochet from scratch. I explained it was a little like the blind leading the blind, but I was game if she was. She was, and we sat down and got to work. Shortly afterwards, we were joined by the sweetest two women, and I got them started as well.
Two and a half hours later, we had three slightly clumsy but beautiful granny squares. I have never been so proud of a group of people – them for managing it, and me for not falling to pieces!!
I was then sent off to experience the rest of the show.
The Knitting and Stitching Show
I had fun at this show last year, but it was a little overwhelming, There were *so* many people and stalls, and I just got lost in it all. This year was much, much better. There were a lot more knitting vendors, and the quality of their stalls was much improved.
I think the thing I loved the most was the set-up of stalls. In general, things were a bit more professional, the knitting sections seemed mostly grouped together, rather than interspersed haphazardly among the sewing stalls, and the stand decorations were great. Special kudos to Toft Alpaca for their hanging knits, and crochet amigurumi!
I visited UK Alpaca and bought some yarn for a super-secret project that has to be completed in the next month…if I managed to make the Weasley Sweater in this time, I anticipate I should manage it…but it will definitely be a challenge! I have wanted to start this project for the longest time, but never felt I had found the right yarn, so when I walked away trying not to make an impulse buy, I thought I would really regret it and ran straight back to buy it. I also bought myself some new Chiagoos. Cos they were cheap!
I wandered around a bit more, but having a lack of money and being desperately hungry for some spaghetti, I made my way out and continued on my merry weekend!
It was a wonderful weekend, and I am so pleased to have been included with the UKHKA. They are a fantastic organisation, particularly when it comes to children. If you are looking to start a knitting group, do check out their tips on their website!
Did any of you make it to the show?
* This photo is from a previous show! I do not have one for this year, and I took this photo from the Toft Alpaca Twitter Feed.
So, it’s been a week since I last posted, and you only get a progress report for my March Resolutions. Isn’t that boring? Not really – I’ve been in Berlin for work, and got back to stacks of admin to sort out and haven’t had a chance to breath since!
Incidentally, Berlin was amazing. I got to practice my admittedly rusty German (the highlight of this was negotiating use of a loo in a Chinese restaurant in German where the Chinese proprietors didn’t speak a word of English and had heavily accented German…after a drink or two), and JS took me on a walking tour which encompassed much of Berlin and ended with the best ice cream I’ve had for a while.
I have made a bit of progress. Although I haven’t worked on Erquy at all, I’ve completed the back section and one of the back shoulders on Garland. This thing takes love, let me tell you. It has taken me literally hours and hours and hours. I can’t wait to see it finished!!
As for the long-term projects, I have already shown off my Patchwork Blanket and the start of Hitchhiker, which is going well and is currently my ‘in-bag’ project. I have also been working on the Gigantic Blankie on and off, and it is currently at this size!
The Gigantic Blankie is extremely heavy, and will definitely be a mid-winter essential when it is done!
I have also managed to cobble together a dress, which is probably a size too big for me. Having finished it, I am reluctant to take in the seams at the moment…and with some careful accessorising I think I may be able to get away with it for now.
That said, I have decided what I would like my ‘big purchase’ this year to be – a combination sewing/embroidery machine. I’m looking for recommendations – the most clear I have had so far is “anything Janome”, which while appreciated is an extremely expensive option…anybody got any thoughts?
PS If you’re going to be at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Olympia on Saturday and Sunday (the 15th & 16th of March), look out for me! I’ll be on the UKHA stand, teaching passers-by how to knit!
My gran and I started making a patchwork blanket long, long ago – I was enamoured by the idea of having loads of squares to sew together, and she enjoyed having easy garter stitch things to knit in front of the TV. All was going swimmingly.
Until I received a delivery of a bag full of squares. Fifty-five squares, to be exact.
This delivery made its appearance on the first of March in 2008. I only know this because of my Ravelry page, where I recorded the information. I had eight squares of my own, and decided that a 9 x 7 square blanket would do, and that I did not have to make any more.
I had never sewn garter stitch squares together before, and I started using a method I used when I was about 8 and hand-sewing things. This went: needle up and through, space of about 5 mm, needle down and through, space of about 5 mm – repeat. I now use the same stitch for basting things together when I’m sewing…
This was, to be polite, incredibly frustrating, and the project got put away for a while. I then made a pillow for my gran, and learned about the wonders of mattress stitch. Determined to apply the same principles to the patchwork blanket, I unpicked everything and started again.
Success followed! It wasn’t a hard project – it just took a lot of time when I worked on it, and spent even longer amounts of time in a basket sitting in plain sight and waiting for me to pick it up again. The last time I worked on this blanket, in fact, was April 2013…
I am currently watching Breaking Bad, and determined to do something useful while I do so - I am so pleased to say that I have finally, after six years and one day, finished sewing it together.
I think I may still sew a backing fabric on to it, but I have other WIPs that have been languishing for years, and I am going to finish them before I go back to what is essentially, finally, a completed blanket.
Do you have any projects like this? My mum has now asked me to make her a throw for a sofa in this style…argh! Think the knitting machine may make another appearance…
Welcome to Plutonium Muffins; a blog about knitting, spinning, some general craft, and life as a twenty-something year old trying to figure out how vintage and traditional pursuits fit into the twenty-first century.
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