Archive for category Knitting Projects
A friend of mine has just started to learn to knit and it was her birthday last week so I knew just what to make her.
I went back to the pattern in ‘Stitch and Bitch’ that I’d shrunk down to make a roll for my new crochet hooks and made a full size one for her.
I didn’t leave my gorgeous knitting needles in though – I bought her some plain ones. I’m not that good a friend.
Possibly becoming adventurous beyond my burgeoning crochet ability I bought a kit from Black Sheep Wools who kindly deliver to France at a reasonable cost. I was tempted by those lovely colours. The yarn is James C. Brett DK Merino. It’s actually mostly acrylic – well, it is for a blanket that will need washing – but there is a 10% merino content so it feels lovely and soft and is great to work with.
I was daunted by the 162 chains as I’ve never yet managed to make even a small one without twisting it and then, getting my U.S. and U.K. terms mixed up, I did the foundation row in double treble crochet instead of treble but that is how it’s staying as I’m not re-doing that chain! It’s a nice easy pattern and perfect for me to get used to the whole technique of crochet.
This is it so far…..
….. and this is how I’m hoping it will end up.
Sara’s Highland Heather Blanket Kit – available from Black Sheep Wools here
Just in case you are thinking I’ve gone all ‘perfect’ over the weekend – think again.
It was Mlle. Tialys the Younger’s birthday on Friday and, flushed with success after making Nigella’s Madeira cake (feast your eyes here – no calories!), I had a go at her Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake (also from ‘How To Be A Domestic Goddess’).
If you think this looks a little like a pig’s breakfast, then you should see how it looked half an hour after it came out of the oven.
And you shall –
Nigella says the cake is so dense and damp it will sink a little when it comes out of the oven.
I don’t think she meant quite this much 😦
Some days I’m more of a domestic goddess than others.
I broke a few pieces off around the outside and it actually tasted good so I chopped it up into brownie sized damp, dense pieces and arranged them on a plate, sprinkled them with icing sugar and, because I couldn’t find the birthday candles, stuck a fancy straw in the top. Luckily my daughter is easily pleased especially when chocolate is involved. How fortunate was my friend who got a hand made knitting needle roll instead of a cake.
I Googled the recipe expecting to find loads of other, similar disasters but I didn’t. So, it’s just me then.
I know I have a follower who happens to be a baker and, if he’s managed to get past the knitting and crochet, perhaps he will have an idea of what went wrong. I think it was because I’m a lazy cow and, instead of creaming butter and sugar together by hand and adding the rest of the ingredients gradually, I did the whole thing in a stand mixer – although stage by stage and fairly gradually – so I might have beat too much air in.
Anyway, Sunday night we heated it up and had it with cream and it made a really nice dense, damp, chocolate pudding 🙂
Despite having six cats and three dogs roaming around the place, we put up a large ‘real’ Christmas tree in one room and a smaller ‘artificial tree’ in another. They survived – relatively unscathed – until the new kitten (don’t ask) discovered he could shin up the centre of the artificial one creating havoc and mayhem among any food and drink stuffed, semi-comatose humans in the vicinity who were then forced to move at an unwelcome rate in order to prevent bauble breakage on a massive scale. I suppose he found it all very amusing as, once achieved, he repeated it ad nauseum until, last night, I got fed up and took it down.
Having mulled (and drunk) enough red wine not to want to count the empty bottles, I decided to get up off my arse while still possible and hike up a small mountainside with the dogs. I made Mr. T. take a photo of me to show me wearing my hat that came in one of my Stitching Santa parcels. Despite the dark glasses and luminous dog harness I am not registered blind – just saying as I suddenly realised it might look like that. Stan’s harness actually says ‘Ball Junkie’ and not ‘Guide Dog’.
Ignore the clove stuck orange – she didn’t send me that – I was on the way to mull (yet more) wine when the photography urge came upon me.
Pippa had made some very useful pouches and a bag for me to keep stuff in and even a length of bias binding she had made. Can you spot the blue fabric in the middle? I did take larger photos of it but the colour didn’t come out right so this is the best view of it. It is boiled wool jersey which I have never used before. Any tips or suggestions on what to make with it? Pippa suggested a sweater. I have 1.5m and it has a slight stretch to it.
Also in the parcel was a useful pattern and one of her lovely knitted hats which I am modelling for you in the above dog walking picture just to prove to her that I will actually wear it – she seemed doubtful for some reason.
As I’m a knitting person as well as a sewing one, I thought I’d go for the knitting Santa too and, just in the nick of time, a day or two before Christmas, my package from Anne in Australia arrived.
(There’s that orange again – don’t worry you won’t see it again as it is now saturated with spiced wine – a bit like me – at the bottom of the bin)
Anne chose two lovely hanks of wool from Plant Craft Cottage in the Botanic Gardens in Melbourne where the yarn is hand dyed – these ones with eucalyptus leaves apparently – so I’m now looking for something to knit with them – there is 25g of each colour, it is 8 ply Australian wool, needle size 4mm and gauge 22st to 10cm. Any ideas knitting friends?
Three beautiful ceramic buttons were in the package
Plus a lovely pencil drawing of a shell from Anne who is a talented nature and botanic artist so I’m very happy to have a little example of her work.
I was chuffed to bits to receive all these generous gifts and thanks again to Sheila for organising us all. Sign me up again for next year!!
There was another gift that wasn’t quite so successful. A few days before Christmas I went out to lunch with a friend of mine and we browsed about in some shops for a while. We went into a home décor shop where each section was themed by colour and, as we passed through the orange and yellow ‘retro’ section she said ‘I can’t stand those two colours – I wouldn’t have them in my house’
Which was a shame because this was what was in the gift bag I’d handed her to put under her tree when I picked her up at her house earlier.
A more successful gift was this satchel that Mr. Tialys made for a close friend of ours who spent Christmas Day with us this year.
It is modelling for me on the bonnet/hood of her car as she was leaving the next morning with the bag stashed in her boot/trunk and I remembered I hadn’t recorded it for posterity and made her unpack it again.
So, that is that for another year. I have made a couple of New Year’s resolutions but, after the disasters last year of my Firsty February (where I attempted not to drink any alcohol for a month and failed) and my Fabric Fast (which lasted 4 months instead of my pledged twelve) I will let you know what this year’s ones are if I actually manage to keep them and, if I don’t, nobody but me will be any the wiser.
Have a brilliant 2017 and I hope everything you wish for comes true.
The first snow has appeared on the mountains opposite our house. Despite taking this from my bedroom window on the top floor, I couldn’t omit the wires but there you go – that’s the reality, I won’t whitewash it. I could have gone out in the back garden and taken it I suppose but I happened to be in the bedroom when the photography mood came upon me.
Anyway, with the snow my knitting mojo comes back into play although this embryonic lacy scarf doesn’t look as if it would keep anybody particularly warm but I had a 25g ball of Rowan Kidsilk Haze left over from the boyfriend cardigan I made last year and Sheila at Sewchet made some beautiful scarves with this pattern last year so I was inspired. I’ve never knitted lace before and I found the first few rows a little difficult – I kept losing count of the stitches because the yarn is so fine – but once the pattern started to establish itself I was away. I didn’t thread beads on to the first row as the pattern (available here for free) has you do because I’m not sure the intended recipient is a ‘beady’ person and also, that might have been a step too far for my tolerance with ‘fiddly’.
What bothers me a little is how this scarf is going to grow long enough to go round somebody’s neck. I appear to have used about a third of the 25g ball already and it’s supposed to end up around 53inches (135cm) long and the bit above is only about 8 inches so I can’t see that happening. Does a miracle happen at the blocking stage?
Unlike with sewing, I don’t normally have two knitting projects on the go at once but, as the lace will be a gift, I had to make a start on it and I had already begun a second Drew (boyfriend cardigan) in a different colourway as I already had half the yarn I needed to make another one. As you can see below, the fine Kidsilk Haze is knitted together with Rowan Kid Classic so is much easier to handle than the skinny one on its own.
Last year I knit a jumper while my Mum was visiting because she knits and we can have some mother daughter bonding time over the needles. I sort of knew I wasn’t going to like it much so, once finished, it languished in my ‘I Like Big Balls and I Cannot Lie’ knitting bag all summer waiting to be sewn up.
The sleeves were supposed to be holey too but I didn’t do that for a reason I now can’t remember but I’m glad anyway.
It’s O.K. but I don’t love it.
What I do like is the shape – it’s quite hard to find a knitting pattern that is fitted and has a nice scoop neck.
The yarn – and pattern – is from James C. Brett and it’s called Marble Chunky, in case you’re interested.
I like the variegated colour and, if I were to knit it again, which I won’t, but if I did, I would omit the holes from the front too.
As with the vast majority of my knitted garments, I will probably only wear this ‘around the house’ as, although I love to knit, I’m not a big knitwear wearer. Bizarre I know.
It’s always good to end with a cat (or dog) photo in my opinion so here is one of Mac who climbed into my antique bowl while I was trying to photograph it for my shop. (It is a very big bowl)
I was going to use it as a product photo but thought it might put people off who are allergic to cats but it was too cute to waste so I’m sharing it with you instead.
Remember the fuss I made trying to choose between two different colours of yarn to make the ‘boyfriend’ cardigan from the knitting book Storm by Kim Hargreaves? I blogged about it back at the end of last year and, having canvassed your opinions, I went with my instincts anyway and chose the dark grey fine mohair instead of the purple to knit together with the pale grey thicker ‘base’ yarn and here’s the result.
(Note that I have opted not to frighten the horses and, as promised, haven’t styled it with shorts and ankle boots as they did with the (very young) model in the book for which, I’m sure you are truly grateful.)
It’s soft and squishy and nicely oversized but not by too much . My worries about the sleeves only fitting an orangutan were unfounded – it’s just that, being raglan sleeves, they seemed to go on forever when they were on my needles.
Here it looks a bit like your Grandad’s cardie rather than your boyfriend’s but I like the stitch used which gives you that wide rib stitch effect in relief.
I sewed the silver metal buttons on then, for a touch of femininity and also for strength, I backed them with some little floral buttons.
I really am pleased with it and to prove to Kate who always tells me off for being too self critical that I can, in fact, be proud of my work, I’m not going to point out any faults because there aren’t any. Ha!!
This is what’s on my needles at the moment but, even though, I like the yarn (James C. Brett Marble Chunky) and it knits up quickly and is reasonably priced and even though it’s fairly unusual to find a knitting pattern for a jumper with a scooped neck and a fitted shape I know I’m not going to love it as much.
The yarn for the cardigan was Rowan Kid Classic – a wool and mohair blend and Rowan Kidsilk Haze, a mohair and silk blend which were knitted together and it has produced such a soft, luxurious garment that anything made with acryclic is going to pale into comparison. Having said that, the Rowan yarn was expensive – despite me scoring both the yarns on Ebay – so, unless you’re going for a ‘special’ knitted item, I guess the cheaper yarns will always have their place. Of course, I do still have the purple Kidsilk Haze I didn’t use for this cardigan so I might keep my eye open for some coordinating Kid Classic in the sales and then I can make another one in a purple shade – if I can face those never ending sleeves again that is.
Mac, the kitten, likes it anyway. He appeared from nowhere. Knitting and cats – it really is like moths to a flame.
How do you feel about knitting (or crochet) yarns? Do you prefer to wait until you can splash out a bit and use the best quality or do you prefer acrylic blends for their easy care qualities which, for some projects is a big consideration of course, or perhaps you can’t wear wool next to your skin?
I wasn’t really being greedy by entering both the Stitching Santa and Knitting Santa organized by Sheila of Sewchet because it meant I also had to send out two packages but in for a penny in for a pound as I never say outside of blogland and why have one surprise gift when you can have two?
I showed you my gifts from my stitching santa (Susanna) a couple of days ago here. My secret Santa for the knitting section turned out to be Nikki of SewingNikki who blogs here and also has a pretty Etsy shop here. As France does not have a public holiday on Boxing Day like us Brits, the postman came and bought this festive looking bundle. It was actually really nice to have an extra pressie to open when I’d gorged myself with all the others on Christmas Day.
Two handmade felt bags were inside the package – lovely in themselves but holding yet more surprises.
A sweet smelling owl, some buttons – you can never have enough! – and an intriguing item made from a twisted vintage metal knitting needle. Is it a hatpin, a stitch holder – help me Nikki – I love it anyway!
Some knitting needles in the roll and, in a blatant attempt to lure me back to the dreaded crochet, a couple of pretty pink crochet hooks. Also some cute earrings which Nikki also sells in her shop.
However, my favourite, favourite gift was this splendid pattern for cushions, complete with four balls of navy aran yarn to knit one with. Spookily enough, I was looking at buying this pattern just before Christmas as I have so much fun knitting my huge cable blankets, I wanted to knit cushions to go with them. I particularly like the design on the centre one on the chair as the middle cable is one I haven’t tackled before.
Thank you Nikki, I love everything.
Like a fool, I didn’t photograph my gifts before wrapping them up and sending them to the bloggers I had been paired with but, if you are interested, they have both done my job for me and blogged about what I sent them here and here. I’ll know better next year and there will be a next year as it was a really fun swap. Thank you Sheila for all your hard work in organising us all.
Sorry, I couldn’t resist that title with my lead photo.
My Mum has been visiting and, usually, I save up or start a knitting project to be companionable as she always brings some knitting. However, this time, she has decided she wants to get into sewing and so I have been helping her with some of the basics – and I mean the real basics. She wanted to go into the only local fabric shop so I had to walk past the fabric with my eyes straight ahead (due to fabric fast) until I got to the woolly bit. There’s not much choice to be honest and it’s all Bergère de France stuff which I can take or leave and what stock they do have is of the more
boring standard variety and nothing to get excited about. However, they did have two very large sheep made of wood with thick woollen fleeces. They were a bit pricey but then I spotted the mini one with hanging string and Mum added it to her magnetic pincushion and cord purchases* and gave it to me as a little gift.
I mentioned before that I was planning on knitting a Kim Hargreaves pattern called ‘Drew’ which is from her ‘Storm’ pattern book. It is a little different from the humungus blankets I’ve been knitting in that it is only two strands of wool (not six) and quite skinny wool at that. The needles are 4mm and 5mm rather than 20mm so I’m finding the transition – and rate of growth – a little hard.
From this –
Should keep me going for a while.
The yarn used is one strand of Rowan Kidsilk Haze and a one of Kid Classic- both with mohair – and they are delightfully soft and luxurious and, therefore, expensive. I found the Kid Classic in a pale grey – exactly 11 balls which is what the pattern calls for – on Ebay and bid high (although not as high as it would be full price) in order to knock the competition out of the water. Which I did. Just. Then I found the dark grey Kidsilk Haze from another seller and it was, miraculously, only £4 a ball. So I bought it and waited. Then I got an email to say the Hazy one was out of stock but should be in by the end of the week. Then they cancelled the order and refunded me. I was not a happy knitter. So I sent them an email and complained because I don’t like it when people sell you stuff they haven’t even got in stock.
Meanwhile, I scoured the internet to find some more hazy stuff because I wanted to knit the cardi but didn’t want to pay umpteen pounds for it. Of course, I had to find a colour that went with the light grey as you knit the two strands together. I found a young lad selling some of his mother’s yarn stash and it wasn’t a bad price so I bought it to see how it would look and I figured, if I didn’t like it, a bargain would still have been struck and I could use it on another project.
Then, the seller of the dark grey – chastened by my complaint no doubt – came back and said it would be coming back into stock and, when it did, they would send it to me free of charge. So, to cut a long story not very short, I ended up with both hazy ones and made a swatch with both to see which combination I liked best and I was going to ask you which you preferred.
but please don’t answer me now, unless you were going to say the second one because, as you can see by the continuation from rib into pattern, I decided on the dark grey.
Another problem I had was with the pattern because when I did the swatch, I cast on 21 sts and knit 28 rows over the pattern, as instructed to obtain a 10cm square . However the pattern just wasn’t working out so I contacted the Kim Hargreaves U.K. site and
begged asked for help. Apparently, the pattern is worked out in sets of 4 stitches plus 3 and they suggested I cast on 27 stitches and try again. Which I did and it worked. But, dear knitters, should I have known this? If the swatch is knitted over the pattern is it normal to have to work out the pattern first before casting on for the test square? I have never come across this before. Shouldn’t they just have you do the swatch in stocking stitch or something. Is it me? I will say though, that I was impressed with the speed with which they answered my query.
Now I’m back up to the workroom to help make another *drawstring bag 😉
Back in May, my friend of umpteen years had a very significant birthday ending in a ‘0’ and I’m sure she won’t mind me saying that it wasn’t her 20th – or even her 30th – but I’ll stop there.
I knew I wouldn’t be seeing her until June as she spends half the year in the U.K. and half in France so I started making a gift for her. Something fairly traumatic delayed her getting here until this month and, yesterday, we met up and I was finally able to hand over her present. It would only fit in a humungus carrier bag that I had bought last Christmas for some reason I can’t remember.
I couldn’t resist knitting another giant blanket and, this time, I chose a rusty orange colour that I knew would go with the décor in her flat in the U.K.
When I gave it to her she cried. I think it was because she was happy but it might have been because it is so hot here at the moment a blanket is about as much use as a chocolate teapot.
Then we went out for dinner here……
and, after a glass of something sparkly on the terrace, went out into the cloisters of the abbey which was set up with tables for the evening meal.
Then, because we couldn’t drink anything else as I was driving (she could have but kindly abstained so as not to make me jealous) we polished off a bottle of sparkly when we got back to her house and stayed up until the small hours chatting and reminiscing and laughing fit to burst about things I can’t recall now. I had a slight headache this morning but it was worth it.
Next blanket will be for my Mum who has a birthday in September. The only trouble is, we are forecast to have even hotter temperatures in August so I’m not sure I’ll be able to survive partially submerged under almost 3kg of yarn – it might have to be her Christmas gift instead.
The photos of the beautiful Abbey are from the owners’ website (click on photos to see more) as is this description – L’Abbaye-Château de Camon is an ancient Benedictine monastery dating back to the tenth century. It is situated in the beautiful village of Camon in the foothills of the Pyrénées. Surrounded by forest and pasture it is only a ten minute drive from the medieval town of Mirepoix. In the heart of Cathar country this historic monument is now a luxury chambres d’hôtes.
It almost makes me want to get married again so I could have my wedding reception there.
I know I’m English and we call pants ‘trousers’ but I do like a touch of alliteration and I have some readers from the States so, if you thought this was going to be about men’s knickers, sorry to disappoint. The reality is much less exciting I’m afraid, being more concerned with knitted stuff so there you have your heads up and can leave without anybody ever knowing you were here.
Here’s a very French village photo for you. It is my lonely stall set up outside the Mairie (town hall) a couple of weeks ago. It does look like I’m Billy No Mates but, inside there were lots of other stalls raising money for Dog Rescue Carcassonne. I chose to set up outside partly because it was a lovely sunny morning and partly because I had to leave early to take my Mum back to the airport so I sold a few dog collars and bandanas and said my goodbyes without creating havoc inside amongst the other stalls.
So, when my Mum visits, I knit to be more sociable and generally only use the computer or sew when she is catching some ‘Zs’ which is fairly often these days it has to be said.
This is my second completed humungus cable blanket. It is a subtle, flecked duck egg blue but I couldn’t, for the life of me, get that colour to come out properly in the photograph so it looks much more like a light grey, which it isn’t. I did try – I even turned off the ‘auto’ setting and dipped into the realms of manually setting the aperture and all that scary stuff . Any photography tips on how to tackle this sort of problem would be gratefully received.
It’s actually like this.
I love this blanket so much. I’ve already ordered enough yarn to make another two which is a bit mad because, now the summer is starting to kick in, I shall probably die of heat and suffocation under more than 2kg of wool.
This light and airy baby blanket, on the other hand, is made using the same size needles – 20mm – but with only one strand of yarn rather than six strands, as used in the humungus one, so it is more ‘summer friendly’. Having no babies any more, I had to use this bear as a model. I could have used one of my baby mannequins but they are far too creepy – the bear looks cuter, trust me.
To supplement my dog collars and bandanas range, I thought I’d have a go at knitting some dog coats. I know it is the wrong time of year but you know how quickly the year passes and soon it will be time for those who like or need to put a little jumper on their dog to do so again.
This is James C. Brett Marble Chunky and it is great to knit with and comes up with some lovely colour variations. The grey one at the top has been a little overshadowed by the lovely, rust and teal tones of the one beneath but it is still smart and for the less ‘showy’ dog about town. My problem is, I made these two versions in a ‘medium’ size and my own dogs are larger than that and nobody I know has ‘medium’ dogs – only large or small. I feel like taking one out and about with me and, when I see somebody with an appropriately sized dog, ask if I can put a little knitted coat on their pet and take a photo.
That way madness lies.
Anyway, Flo, having graciously tried on the grey coat but finding it a little snug, continued with her collar modelling and, although this photo was no good to show off the collar, as it wasn’t properly in focus, it’s such a gorgeous one of her I had to include it anyway.
You’re probably past caring by now but, just in case you were wondering about the title, I no longer have any excuse not to get started on a pair of trousers (pants!) for my daughter. I have the pattern, I have the fabric, I have the zip. It’s just that I’ve never made trousers before and my daughter is not a ‘standard’ size and I suspect I might be better at procrastination than pants making.
Anybody remember H.R.PufnStuff? A sort of weird, psychadelic, Saturday morning cartoon from 1969/1970 with a young Jack Wild.
This is the wonderful Witchipoo and she’s wearing what appear to be my last pair of socks.
I’ll spare you a YouTube link because you will have the theme tune in your head for ever more – as I do, along with the one from the Banana Splits.
This is my latest finished pair of socks – they are on sock blockers in case you were wondering whether I’d been run over by a steamroller.
I’ve written before about ‘second sock syndrome’ – where you finish one sock and can’t be arsed to make the next one – which is why I always make two at the same time but now I appear to be suffering from ‘Witchipoo sock syndrome’. Will the pointy hat be next?
These are my bright and lovely sock blockers from this Etsy shop. Now that I have them I must make more socks but perhaps my next ones will be plain – I’m going to be singing that song for at least a week now.
Have you got any songs from the T.V. programmes of your youth that you can still remember all the words to?
I know boyfriend jeans and boyfriend cardigans exist but, until now, I wasn’t sure about boyfriend blazers. Anyway, I appear to have knitted one. Which is unfortunate as I haven’t got a boyfriend. I have got a husband but he’s 6’4″ so that might be a bit of a stretch – literally. Plus, I’m not sure it’s his colour.
I’ve had some trials and tribulations with this jacket and, if you are interested, I have gone into more detail on my Ravelry page here .
Suffice it to say, I won’t be putting in a back vent again
and I won’t be dividing the sleeves for cuffs again just sewing on buttons in the appropriate place.
Love that double moss stitch and those buttons though.
The reason it I’m calling it a ‘boyfriend blazer’ is because it’s too big for me – mostly in the sleeves. Maybe my fault as I used a different yarn although I did do a swatch beforehand and the gauge seemed fine.
I will wear it though as I love it. The stitch and the chunky yarn really make it feel like a jacket rather than a cardigan. I’ve ordered some more yarn, this time in a denim blue colour. I will do another swatch and make the next size down.
The pattern is Shale by Kim Hargreaves from her collection called ‘Storm’ – a great collection of patterns, almost all of which I’d like to knit.
The recommended wool is Rowan Big Wool, I used Sirdar Denim Ultra in blackberry (much cheaper and is great to knit with). It’s on 8mm needles, though I used 7mm to get the right gauge.