Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

The lovely Mrs Bishop from Mrs Bishop’s Bakes and Banters has nominated me for this award. She’s an absolute sweetheart for doing so – follow the link to see her blog entry.

So the rules are simple – answer Mrs. Bishop’s 10 questions and nominate some women bloggers.

Here it goes…

1. What is your signature bake?
Most definitely my version of Nigella Lawson’s Banana bread. It is the simplest, moistest, bestest banana bread ever which is impossible to ruin. You can dress it up with a topping or leave it in a tin for after school treats for days. I’ve not yet  met anyone who didn’t like it.
 
2. If you had to choose only one film to watch for the rest of time, and no others, what would you choose?
Erm. Ahh. Ohh. This is a hard one. However, I think it would be City of Angels with Nicholas Cage and Meg Ryan. I blub every time I see it – lots and lots of things I love about it. Close second is When Harry met Sally. Need I say more?
 
3. What is your favourite home cooked dinner, and why?
Absolutely anything cooked by my hubby as it has a very special ingredient. Love.
 
4. Do you have a favourite artist or piece of artwork?
I absolutely adore Sylvie Guillem. She is simply the most elegant, most beautifully graceful dancer ever. I could watch her perform for ever.
 
5. What’s your tipple of choice?
Mulled wine in the winter and Sangria in the summer.
 
6. Do you collect anything?
Vintage knitting and crochet patterns, yarn and knitty experiences.
 
7. What are you reading at the moment?
The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco.
 
8. Do you have a dream job? Or are you lucky enough to already do your dream job?
I dream of a job where I have autonomy and respect, where I enjoy my colleagues’ company and which does not fill me with dread each Sunday evening. This is a far cry from my current job. I am on the hunt.
 
9. What is your favourite item of clothing in your current wardrobe and why?
I recently bought a white, dove grey, steel grey colour block knitted dress in the fluffiest yarn ever. I realise I look like a hairy potato when I wear it but I don’t care. It makes me smile and keeps me warm and reminds me of the days when I could get away with wearing clingy clothes.
 
10. Who is your most embarrassing celebrity crush? (Let’s face it girls, we’re never too old for a crush!)
Well I’m old enough to have a hugely long list. I remember my first crush was on Kevin Keegan (just look it up, it’s too embarrassing). Then when I was at Uni I really fancied Timothy Dalton for his piercing blue eyes and Rupert Everett for those beautiful looks. Then there was a brief fling with Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral days only and I really still rather like Jean Reno – well, there is NOTHING wrong with a big nose.
award
I’m afraid I’m a let-down when it comes to nominations. My time to read others’ blogs is non-existent. However, these lovely ladies have kept with me through thick and thin. So I nominate:
  1. All Night Knits
  2. Lollyknits
  3. Feel Good Knitting

(Thank you ladies!)

Here are my 10 questions:

  1. What’s your biggest WIP failure?
  2. Knit or Crochet?
  3. Do you think knitting/crochet should be taught at school?
  4. Why do you knit/crochet?
  5. What’s your best knit/crochet tip?
  6. What’s your worst chore ever?
  7. What time of day is your favourite?
  8. If you didn’t knit/crochet, what would you do?
  9. One fact about you.
  10. Christmas or Summer Holidays?

Thanks again Mrs. Bishop – don’t giggle too much at my answers!

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WIPs

I’ve been pretty good recently – in fact over the summer holiday I finished all, or practically all of the WIPs I had hiding. It allowed me to mentally free myself for a burst of creativity. I’m now involved in a bit of a long-term project – sister’s blanket, but in the meanwhile, I’m casting longing glances towards the green pastures of a new project. And I have cast on two things which are feeling unloved and unfinished right now.

The first one is a lace jumper. Feeling flushed with having finished my first lace project, I fell in love with an all over lace number and decided to start straight away. I was doing fantastically, until I crashed and burnt on the fourth round of repeats. I missed some stitches and the entire pattern stopped making sense. So I ripped out and started again. Guess what, the same thing happened at exactly the same place…I suppose I will have to re-start again. Again. I’m working on putting in a life line before I rip back to save some of the work at least. It’s a real shame as after this row of repeats, you start the body and I have some plans to come off pattern on that!
WIP1The second started as a bit of fun. Since I have accumulated quite a stash of scarf yarn, I wanted to make something different from it. Those ruffle scarves must be on the way out by now! So I was thinking a large cushion with ruffles at the front. Once you work out how to hold the two yarns together and how frequently you have to use the ruffles, it’s pretty brainless knitting but very slow. I’ve sort of lost interest with this one. It’s hard to see but I have half of the back of the cushion done and about a third of the front. I need to plough on …
WIP2Perhaps these will be done next Summer?!

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New Inspiration

So I’m bored. I’ve done as much Christmas knitting as I can muster. I am making good headway with my sister’s wedding present. And I’m a bit bored. I’m looking for the next challenge to get my teeth into. Something that will make me rush chores so I can pick up my needles again. So I’ve started looking around for the next project. I know that I have a list of “requests” but they’ve waited this long so I guess a few ore weeks won’t matter…

I always enjoy seamless knitting. My first jumper I ever knitted was this beautiful top down seamless cabled number – Baby Cables and Big Ones Too by Suvi Simola:

 

 

top down jumperOf course I changed the pattern a bit – added a waist seam and a picot edging on the hem. Since I’ve enjoyed this type of knitting, I’ve been looking for something similar.

How about this scabbard from Stitch Diva?
ScabbardOr perhaps this slightly fluffier number by Svetlana Volkova?
laceThen again, I should perhaps make something for the party season – a Stitch in Time: Vintage Knitting Patterns 1930-59 Volume 2.
christmas laceAnd then, I’ve not tried beading yet…look at this effortlessly elegant cardigan from Kate Davies.
beadedChoices. Choices.

What’s on your needles at the moment?

 

 

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Felted Christmas Stocking – a Pattern

It’s been a while since I’ve played around with felting yarn – the last time was when I made a felted bag which is well-loved. That was my first time felting for a large project – I didn’t dare take any photos of the pre-felted fabric as I thought that I just got it really wrong. The whole thing was HUGE.

This time I didn’t make the same mistake and I took photos of the whole process – it was the work of one afternoon/evening – so this is most definitely a quick project. The stocking is knitted flat and then sewn together prior to felting.

Felted Christmas Stocking
You will need about 150 m of felting yarn (about 3  x 50g skeins) in the colours of your choice and knitting needles suggested by your yarn.

Cast on felting

Using the colour you want for the cuff, cast on 50 stitches. Purl 1 row. Work in stocking stitch for 16 cm. End with a knit row. Cut yarn, leaving a long tail.

On to the sockChange to colour for the stocking and work in stocking stitch for an additional 26 cm, ending with a knit row.
Purl 14 stitches; slip remaining 36 stitches onto stitch holder. Turn and work in stocking stitch for additional 15 rows, ending with a knit row.

Heel flap 1
Row 1: Purl 3, purl 2 together, purl 1, turn work (leave remaining 8 stitches on needle).
Row 2 and all right-side rows: Slip first stitch knitwise, knit to end of row.
Row 3: Purl 4, purl 2 together, purl 1, turn work.
Row 5: Purl 5, purl 2 together, purl 1, turn.
Row 7: Purl 6, purl 2 together, purl 1, turn.
Row 9: Purl 7, purl 2 together, purl 1, cut yarn. You will have 9 stitches on the needle. Slip them onto a second stitch holder.

Heel flap 2
Starting at other edge of stocking, slip 14 stitches purlwise from first stitch holder onto tapestry needle (leave center 22 stitches on holder). With wrong side facing, rejoin yarn at 14th stitch; purl to end of row. Work in stocking stitch for additional 14 rows.

Heel Turn
Row 1: Knit 3, slip slip knit decrease, knit 1, turn work (leave remaining 8 stitches on needle).
Row 2 and all wrong-side rows: Slip first stitch purlwise, purl to end.
Row 3: Knit 4, slip slip knit, knit 1, turn.
Row 5: Knit 5, slip slip knit, knit 1, turn.
Row 7: Knit 6, slip slip knit, knit 1, turn.
Row 9: Knit 7, slip slip knit, knit 1 (do not turn). With 9 stitches on needle, pick up 9 stitches along side of heel flap; knit across centre 22 stitches from stitch holder; pick up 9 stitches along side of first heel flap; knit remaining 9 stitches from holder. (58 stitches)

turning the heel

Gusset Shaping
Row 1 and all odd-number rows: Purl across all stitches.
Row 2: Knit 17, knit 2 together, knit 20, slip slip knit, knit 17.
Row 4: Knit 16, knit 2 together, knit 20, slip slip knit, knit 16.
Row 6: Knit 15, knit 2 together, knit 20, slip slip knit, knit 15.
Row 8: Knit 14, knit 2 together, knit 20, slip slip knit, knit 14.
Row 10: Knit 13, knit 2 together, knit 20, slip slip knit, knit 13. (48 stitches)
Work in stocking stitch for 12 cm. End with purl row.

Toe Shaping
Row 1: [Knit 6, knit 2 together] 6 times. (42 stitches)
Row 2 and all wrong-side rows: Purl.
Row 3: [Knit 5, knit 2 together] 6 times. (36 stitches)
Row 5: [Knit 4, knit 2 together] 6 times. (30 stitches)
Row 7: [Knit 3, knit 2 together] 6 times. (24 stitches)
Row 9: [Knit 2, knit 2 together] 6 times. (18 stitches)
Row 11: [Knit 1, knit 2 together] 6 times. (12 stitches)
Row 13: [Knit 2 together] 6 times. (6 stitches)

finished stocking

Cut yarn with long tail, thread through remaining stitches and pull tight. Work off all ends. Seam together loosely.

My finished item was 21.5″ from heel to top of stocking and 12″ from heel to toe. Don’t be put off, felting does magic things.
Felt according to your yarn’s instructions. Add ribbon to hang with.

Hang up on Christmas Eve.

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Progress on the Wedding Blanket

Since mid-September, I’ve made good progress with the blanket for my sister’s wedding present – I am almost half way with the blanket itself. So far it has not posed too many challenges, just a question of counting. A lot. And I’m really happy to have chosen a pattern that varies in knitting techniques. There is some hope that I will still be sane at the end of the project.

Here is the progress report.
Cast On:
Cast on

Look, tree trunks:Look - tree trunksHere come the Trees of Life:
 Here come the Trees of Life
Intertwining Branches eat yarn!
Trees of LifeThe first row of flowers in the flower garden – avoided the shortage of yarn by introducing a new colour:

Flower Garden

 

On to the first round of repeating the pattern from the start. Getting the hang of this…

On to second repeatSo now I know it is physically possible to finish this thing in time for the wedding next year, I’ve started thinking about two things.

1. What edging to use?
The pattern suggests a leaf pattern. This is beautiful but I want to simplify the feel of the finished blanket and make it more streamlined. I think the bias binding trim looks quite nice.
bias binding trim

Or perhaps the zig zag trim.
zig zag trimThe advantage is that I could attach both trims directly to the blanket without having to sew on.
Any alternate ideas?

2. How big can a knitted item be before it looks really weird to be taking it out on a train and knitting it?!
What do you think?

Thanks for the collective wisdom.

 

 

 

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Chunky Ribbed Body Warmer – a Pattern

I don’t think it’s possible to have too many short jackets to keep your upper body warm but leave your arms free to do things. Autumn is the perfect season for this sort of clothing and chunky yarn and ribbing the perfect combination of speed and beauty to get the knitting done. I’m really pleased with this body warmer as it’s stylish to wear and fun to make. I’m thinking of perhaps a longer version…
Body warmer

I’ve written the pattern to be flexible for beginner knitters. Hope this helps!

Pattern:
You will need around 200 g of chunky yarn – yarn that needs 8mm knitting needles. Although gauge is really not essential for this item, if your yarn is not chunky enough, the body warmer will be smaller. I used an aran weight yarn and  a DK weight yarn and probably could have sized up to two aran weights held together!
Size 8mm circular knitting needles.
Some scrap yarn if you are using a temporary cast on option.
Body warmer - back

The pattern is cast on at the top of the back – the pattern is for small to medium sizes. If you need large, I haven’t sized up for this pattern, but in this size yarn, would expect an additional 16-18 stitches would be sufficient. This is a VERY stretchy garment because of the ribbing. Don’t be afraid that it will be too small!
Cast on loosely 66 sts. There is an option to use a provisional cast on (use a contrasting colour yarn) if you fancy a bit more of a challenge later.
Knit in 2 x 2 rib (k2, p2) pattern for 26 cm without joining in the round.
At the end of the last row, cast on two stitches.
You will now join the cast on row (or your live stitches from under the provisional cast on), to form what my son called “a hat for a cold teddy bear” i.e. you are making the arm holes.
joined body warmerIf you have a solid cast on row, pick up 66 stitches from the cast on row. If you have a provisional cast on, unpick the cast on row and put the live stitches straight on your needles.
Cast on two extra stitches.
Place marker and join to knit in the round.
Continue in 2 x 2 rib for 6 cms.
Increase holesNext round, make 1 stitch in between each k stitches i.e. k1, m1, k1, p2 repeat. On each make 1, if you like to make a slightly airy feel to this garment, do not knit in the back of the loop. This will leave a neat hole and will lighten the fabric.
Continue to knit the stitches as you see them i.e. k3, p2 for 6 cms.
Next round, make 1 stitch in between each p stitches i.e. k3, p1, m1, p1 repeat. Again, don’t purl into the back of the loop if you want that hole!
Continue to knit the stitches as you see them i.e. k3, p3 for 6 cms.
Body warmer

Check  to see if the body warmer is as long/wide as  you want it to be. I cast off very loosely at this stage. If you want the body warmer to longer/wider, carry on knitting but use 1 x 1 ribbing (k1, p1) from here on to make sure the yarn doesn’t stretch out of shape when you’re wearing it. If you want to jazz it up, you could change to another colour yarn at this stage as long as you make sure it’s the same gauge!

Carry on knitting in 1 x 1 rib until you’re happy and then cast off. Loosely.
Do remember that the more you knit, the wider the collar will be too! Go on, play around with this pattern.
Body warmer worn

I’m loving my body warmer and this is one I’m not selling or giving away.

 

Posted in Knitting, Patterns, ribbing | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Happy Halloween!

Pumpkins

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Lacy Scarf for Knitting Looms – a pattern

I’ve not played around with the knitting loom for quite a while and this poor scarf was left abandoned until recently. Here it is finally looking lacy and warm.Lacy loom scarf

After all the delay, it was actually really quick to make and once in the swing of things, the lace pattern is very easy to memorise.

Pattern:
You will need to use the red knitting loom with some chunky yarn – around 150 – 200 g.
Cast on all the pegs and start Rows 1 of the lace pattern.
lace patternLace pattern:
Row 1 & 3 E-wrap all pegs
Row 2 and 4 are worked making an eight figure between pegs, the following way:
Row 2 Skip first peg,e-wrap peg 2 ,back to peg 1 and e-wrap,with yarn behind pegs skip pegs 2 and 3 and e-wrap peg 4,back to peg 3 and e-wrap,with yarn behind pegs skip 4 and 5 ,e-wrap peg 6,repeat to last peg.Yarn will finish in the penultimate peg.
Row 4 E-wrap first peg,skip peg 2 and e-wrap peg 3,back to peg 2 e-wrap it,with yarn behind pegs skip pegs 3 and 4 ,e-wrap peg 5,back to peg 4 and e-wrap it,skip pegs 5 and 6,e-wrap peg 7,and so on to penultimate peg,e-wrap last peg.
Repeat rows 1-4 eleven more times.
Lace and e-wrap

Swap to e-wrap stitches for around 50 cms. You can purl, knit, purl on the first and last three pegs each time to produce a seed stitch. This will help the scarf from curling in the middle. I also added a hole in the middle of the scarf to tuck in the end rather than tieing it, but this is also not necessary. If you want to make the hole just work half of the loom for about 15 cms, cut yarn and go back to the other half of scarf, rejoin yarn. Work to the same length and then e-wrap all the way round the following rows.
Finished lace loom scarf

Knit rows 1-4 of lace pattern 12 times.
Cast off and you’re done!

 

Posted in knitting looms, Lace, Patterns | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Light and Airy Easy Wrap

I firmly believe that each yarn was made for a specific project. I have some lovely yarns that have been sitting on the shelf for years as I’ve not quite found the right project. I know that I sound completely barmy but yarn “tells” you when it’s the right project. That feeling when you’re struggling and fighting to get something done and it just doesn’t look right in the end – it’s because it’s the wrong marriage of yarn and item. Stop knitting and wait for inspiration.

I’ve had this yarn for a while. It’s a scarf yarn from Adriafil called Wally. adriafil wally

I love the mid-blue and pop of acid green. There is a video tutorial on YouTube on how to make a cowl with it. It has great music too. But for some reason, I could just not follow it. My cowl just looked wrong and I ended up feeling really frustrated.

And then there is this yarn

cannes

It’s a mohair mixed with sparkly thread, and it’s the same acid green as the yarn in Wally. I’m not sure why it took me so long to marry the two, but I finally did it and I’m really happy with the result.

IMAG0115_1

I loosely crochet the strips together on the wrong side

IMAG0120

And left a gordian knot at the end to give the wrap some weight – this was created naturally from the process of crocheting the strips together.

IMAG0121

I’m pleased that this has finally come together – it’s really simple and has opened up the strips to show the lacy ladder effect. Perfect for windy days. I’m sure you have some scarf yarn in your stash – let me know how you’re upcycling yours!

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A new stitch for me – Herringbone

I’ve discovered a lovely new stitch and I just had to share it. I’m sure many of you have seen it and even knitted it but here it is anyway:

herringbone It is lovely and tactile and makes the knitted fabric look woven, almost like a textile. It is perfect for slightly “thin” yarns, the ones that seem to lack body and knit up into floppy fabrics that don’t hold their shape well. As the stitch is made by knitting stitches together, it produces a thick fabric, so beware, if you’re using chunky yarn, size up your needles otherwise you will end up with a very firm fabric closer to body armour than knitting!

Here’s my version – a bit wobbly but it is the first time!

My herringbone

The herringbone is such a showy stitch, I just love it.

purlcity yarns

Purl City Yarns version – gorgeous

herringbone hat

Herringbone aviator hat on Craftsy

Wow

This is so special – wow

So, here is how to do it in the round:

Once you’ve cast on (even number of stitches)
Round 1: *K2tog and slip only the first stitch off the left needle, repeat from * until 1 stitch remains. Slip your stitch marker and k2tog, slipping only the first stitch off the left needle. Replace stitch marker to the right of the first stitch on the right needle.
Round 2: *K2tog through the back loop (K2tog tbl), slipping the first stitch off the left needle, repeat from * to last stitch. Remove the stitch marker and k2tog tbl, slipping the first stitch off the left needle. Place the stitch marker to the right of the first stitch on the right needle.
Repeat until you’re done. Cast off.

And here is how to do it flat:

Row 1 (RS): K1 (edge st in garter st), *K2tog through back loops slipping the first stitch off the left needle, repeat from * until 2 sts remain on row, K1, K1 (edge st in garter st).
Row 2 (WS): K1, *P2tog slipping the first stitch off the left needle, repeat from * until 2 sts remain on row, P1, K1 edge st.
Repeat rows 1 and 2 until you’re done. Cast off.

Let me know how you get on!

 

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