Archive for January, 2013

Amongst the many projects I currently have going on at the same time, I recently drafted my own knitting pattern to make a hat for a friend.  Based on the Winter Blechy Hat – a hat that players of popular internet game Neopets can dress their pets in – the hat was a lot of fun to knit, and learning to draft my own pattern was very interesting, especially considering the number of different knitting techniques I used in it.

Anyway, I was pleased enough with the result that I decided to share the pattern!  Pop over to Ravelry to download my free pattern, the Winter Blechy Hat.

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I already shared the cute little skein of rainbow merino I spun up.  For those who don’t remember, I was given a lovely 50g fibre sample pack for Christmas, which included about 5g each of 10 colours from indigo, through seafoam green to violet.  There wasn’t enough of any one colour to make something with, and I don’t know how to felt yet, so I spun the whole lot up into this pretty skein

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Initially, I knit the whole thing up into a very simple rectangle, just to see how the colours looked.  It was pretty, but too small and dense to do anything with except possibly sew up into a pillow-shaped cat toy.  And I didn’t want to waste such lovely yarn on something like that!

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So, in the end, I frogged the sample back and decided to do something different.  I used a very, very simple lace pattern, picked some larger needles, and knit myself a stretchy, soft, lace neck-warmer.  A few buttons make it fastenable, and the lace pattern means I didn’t need to add buttonholes for them.

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Of course, what you’re looking at here are some hastily-taken night photos, so not the clearest, but I was so pleased with the end result that I had to share it right away!

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A Few Things!

Posted: 25/01/2013 in Uncategorized

Just a quick post to update on some works-in-progress.  First, those promised photos of what the January embroidery sampler looks like, now it’s been stitched down onto some backing fabric.

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I really like the nautical look that the blue/white stripes give, with the red contrast stitching.  It’s a simple enough job – I cut a hole in the striped fabric and laid it over the embroidery, pinned them together and hooped the whole thing, then used a knotted blanket stitch to hold them together.

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Next, some pictures of my current spinning work.  Here is a 100g skein of singles of my lovely, custom plummy fibre. 

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I’m not sure if I want to ply the yarn or not, yet.  It’s a little uneven in weight across the length, so plying would help that, but right now it’s such a lovely, fine yarn considering it’s spun on a bulky ashford drop spindle, and it’d be a shame to lose that delicate fluffiness.

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I also really like how clearly you can see the colour blending in it, now it’s spun, and I know plying it would make that harder to detect.  Right now there’s such depth of colour, with flashes of black and pink in the deep purple.

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Finally, something a little fun and silly.  A friend asked me to knit them the Winter Blechy Hat – a clothing item players can buy to dress their avatar, in the internet game Neopets.  I initially thought I could knit it based off an existing pattern I had, but in the end I had to modify it so much it was pretty much an entirely new pattern.

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Apologies for the poor photo quality – bright reds are really hard to photograph – they so often turn pink!  The hat is knit, with thrums in the double-layered earflaps, a handmade bobble and crochet details.

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Of course, I’ve stuffed the tail in the above photos to show the shape better.  Here is a more true-to-colour photo of it hastily shoved on my other half’s head!

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So that’s it, for now!  I’m also making excellent progress on a sleeveless cardigan thing for my mother-in-law, but I keep forgetting to take photos of that!

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I’m making good progress on the entry for January!  The sampler is pretty much done, and I’m just finishing up the text on it.  Found a lovely blue and white striped fabric in my stash which helped with the nautical themed colours to fix the sampler onto, and I’ll probably use the same fabric as the base for my diary page, so the two will match.

My concept for the diary page is pretty much entirely settled now.  I’ve made a few different sketches, and I’m confident I know what I’m doing with it.  As soon as I make decent headway embroidering that page I’ll share it here, too.

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I also have a broad theme figured out for February.  Good things are happening now, and I want February’s entry to be all about that.  I’ve been selling some of my writing, my mother is in the UK for a long-overdue visit and I might be getting a chance at a job – albeit only part time, and only for 3 months, but it’s something to put on my CV!  So February entry is going to be all about the good things we’re working towards in this house.

I’m not yet certain what stitch I want to focus on for the February sampler.  Maybe chain stitch, since like buttonhole/blanket stitch it has so many fun variations.  I think my favourites are alternating barred chain and wheatear stitch, but it’d be interesting to see what other variations there are.  I know I’ve never yet done any of the textural, thick variations.

Watch this space!

Yesterday I talked about how a person could gather supplies and information to enable them to learn their first knitting project.  Today, I’m going to talk about how to take that further.

Once you have a couple of projects under your belt, and have mastered knit and purl well enough to do them without thinking about it too much, it can be tempting to jump in and try for something exciting.  Then, when the latest project goes wrong for the third time and you throw it away in frustration, it can be easy to give up.  That’s where most people end up, and it’s the reason so many people relearn the basics over and over again, without ever getting to the point where they can make something more complex than a plain scarf.

One of the best resources you can have is a good support network to lean on for help, advice and encouragement.  But where do you go for that, if your friends and family aren’t crafters?  Once again, the internet steps in,

First, don’t rush.  When you pick a new pattern, there will be a list of stitch abbreviations at the front.  Note these, and if there are any referring to techniques you aren’t familiar with, go back on Youtube and I guarantee there will be at least half a dozen videos made by knitters, showing you how those techniques work.  Bookmark those, save them to a playlist, and watch them as you work on the pattern, until you’re comfortable enough with the techniques to have them memorised.

I mentioned Ravelry yesterday, specifically as a resource for free patterns, but they offer much more than that.  In addition to keeping databases of patterns and different types of yarn, Ravelry provides a community.  The first and most logical step is to make sure you create a project on Ravelry to help you track each knitting project you take on.  This can be linked to the yarn you’re using, the pattern, and updated with personal notes detailing your progress, as well as photos.  You can then easily compare your project to those made by others working on the same pattern, to see if anyone else has had similar issues.

But best of all, are the “groups”.  Joining different groups on Ravelry gives users access to miniature forums themed around different issues.  I, personally, belong to several including a group for UK spinners, a group for plus-size women trying to make their own clothes and several groups specifically for getting advice, and for helping learners.  I recommend anyone taking up knitting (or indeed crochet) join Ravelry and get involved with the groups on there.

But maybe you’re not the sort of person who likes chatting online.  Maybe you’ve watched all the videos but still can’t make sense of something, and you need someone to guide you through the work.  Meetup,com may be the website for you.  Meetup is a website designed to help people find like-minded friends and get together in groups, usually themed around mutual interests.  There are local Meetup groups for people that like walking, for writers, for dog-owners.  And there are Meetup groups for knitters.  Most groups get together regularly, with group members paying some token amount like £1 to cover the cost of hosting the group.  It is well worth browsing Meetup to see if there are crafting groups in your area.

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Next step is going to be expanding your collection of supplies.  As soon as you move beyond beginner patterns you’ll find yourself working with different yarn weights and different sized needles.  I’m going to suggest you go straight back to Ebay for your knitting needles, but this time look for bamboo needles sold as sets.  I said yesterday that, aside from the knitting needles I inherited from my grandmother and a few lucky finds from charity shops, my entire needle collection is bamboo,  That’s true, but I didn’t buy them in individual sizes.  Instead I grabbed listings like this one, this one and this one.  For less than the price of a new bra, you’ve just found a full set of sizes for all three types of knitting needle, which will provide you with the materials you’ll need for almost any knitting project.

Once you have these, it’s really only the yarn that’ll cost you money.  That, and sometimes there will be a knitting pattern you want that costs money.  I highly recommend asking for vouchers for online knitting shops and even for Ravelry for your Christmas and birthday gifts.  Also, watch sales on Ebay.  There are always knitters selling bags of unused, labeled yarn in perfect condition.  Pick up bargains as you see them and keep them at home for the perfect project.  Just make sure the yarns are of a weight you’ve knitted before, or that is required for a pattern you’ve been wanting to try.  There’s nothing worse than having a massive stash of lovely laceweight yarn, when you’ve found you don’t have the patience for anything finer than DK or worsted.