Thursday, December 24, 2009

happy christmas

rubbish christmas
Fortunately for the wee man, last year's christmas jumper still fits. Mostly due to me making it about fifty times too big originally. A little bit snug over that fat belly, he'll have to go easy on the roast potatoes, but he will be glad of its warmth this year... brrr! It looks like a scene from Doctor Zhivago outside, the trees are covered in ice right up to the top branches. Going out of the door is like walking into a vat of liquid nitrogen. Fortunately I have plenty of mince pies, knitting and wine to keep me occupied indoors.

A very merry christmas and a happy new year to you all! May santa bring you a sackful of yarn!

Friday, December 18, 2009


This, unless I have any more last minute harebrained ideas, marks the end of my festive knitting. Only prezzies for my sisters this year, because one sister asked for socks and the other one would be jealous if I didn't knit her something too. (My brother has fallen off the xmas knitting list because he doesn't wear the nice handknitted-in-wool-from-local-farm hat I made him, favouring a cheap shopbought acrylic one that doesn't even fit his head. Hmph.) My sisters have Very Different Tastes. One likes muted neutral colours, and would consider some shades of beige to be too garish. The other likes her colours as bright as physically possible, and would probably enjoy wearing a garment made of radium.

I highly doubt any of them will read this so ta-daaaa! Above are the rather unadventurous socks for Muted Sis. Made from recently acquired Regia 4ply in shade 'I can't remember'. (Whilst in my possession it was so fleetingly in a unknitted state that I'm afraid I have failed to put it into Ravelry or save the ball band). Just a plain toe up garter rib. Interestingly, though, they are much baggier than the last pair I made, despite using the same pattern, the same needles and almost exactly the same yarn. I don't know what has happened to my tension. Initially I blamed gin, but the second sock is just the same so I think I am just slowly turning into a Loose Woman.
Dayglo Sis is getting these mittens. They are made from some alpaca from the stash, aran-ish weight, multicoloured and brandless but beautiful (a gift from some friends who went to Patagonia on holiday). I've started making various things with it before and abandoned them because they didn't really suit the yarn. I wanted to do it justice - it is very soft and warm and quite short colour repeats, which I think come out rather well in this design. I winged the pattern, they are very simple. I couldn't tell you what I did, I was using a new strategy: 'I can't be bothered to write down what I am doing as I go along, so I will make them fairly soon after each other and trust myself to make the same decisions each time'. It nearly worked, and the resulting mittens will be ideal for anyone with one fat thumb and one thin thumb. My sister doesn't really fit this description, but maybe if I distract her with a small dance while she opens the present she'll never notice...


Saturday, December 05, 2009

super speedy sister sock

So I really wasn't going to do any Christmas knitting this year, as I have been dead busy with various Big Projects lately. (If you are wondering what, there is a hint here! I know, it's all quite exciting). Then my sister phoned a couple of days ago. I hadn't done any Christmas shopping so needed a quick run down on what her eleventy billion kids wanted from Auntie Rubbishknitter. She suggested, as there has been a dearth of income in this house of late, that I could make the kids something. I politely declined, as not only am I a bit strapped for time but they are mostly teenagers and probably excruciatingly embarrassed by my creations. So she reeled off a list of presents and mercifully, as they were all the sort of thing that could be easily achieved on a 10 minute Amazon spree, I was starting to feel a bit calmer and more organised about the whole Christmas thing. Until I asked her what she wanted, and she casually said, 'oh i don't mind, a pair of socks or something'.

To be fair, a non-knitter probably sees this as a pretty innocuous request, easily fulfillable in a supermarket if you're lazy. But someone like me is physically unable to buy socks as a Christmas present for a close family member. Especially when a recent Kemp's sale cleared out a load of Regia sock yarn at £1.20 a ball, some of which mysteriously found its way over my threshold. I may not have a lot of time these days but I wasn't Manchester Yarn Day Speed Knitting Champion for nothing! So I found myself hurriedly casting on for the fastest sock in the West. It's plain toe up garter rib using my old fave knitty universal sock pattern, and I have to say this is possibly the world's quickest sock to make. Look, two days of evening-only knitting in and I am nearly there on sock one! The trouble is, you see, this is a bit of a can of worms I have opened....I have another sister too, who is likely to get jealous. Good job I stocked up at Kemp's really ;)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

how I learned to stop worrying and love i-cord

damian, it's all for yooooou
Some quick, not very exciting but very necessary knits. I made a hat and mittens from 2 balls of James C Brett Merino DK, which seems to be the new budget merino in Abakhans, having superceded King Cole. It is both soft and cheap which is important for toddlerwear. The child seems to submit to wearing these quite happily - on a few occasions I have returned from walking the dog and found both hat and mittens to be still on the child, which is nothing short of miraculous. It must be comfortable to wear, or maybe it is just so bloody cold recently he is frozen into inactivity, a bit like Jack Nicholson in the final scene of The Shining. Pattern is winged, idea shamelessly based on Britt's impossibly cute tiny-mittens-on-a-string that she showed me the other day and a similar earflap hat which I had previously made for the child and has mysteriously disappeared. (I checked all the forlorn looking woollens on local railings to no avail).
Both are very simple. The hat is worked upwards from the brim in moss stitch, then in stocking stitch with purl ridges up to the crown where I did an 8 pointed decrease. I then picked up stitches around the brim above each ear and knitted triangles downwards until I had 4 stitches, then went into i-cord. I don't know why but I have had a bit of a mental block about i-cord up till now. I think I just overestimated the time it would take by about a squillion times. Previously I have always gone for crochet chains for ties, on time-saving grounds, but I was amazed to finish both hat and mittens-on-a-string including i-cord within a week of childnaptimes. It took, like half an hour to do the mitten string, which isn't long when sitting comfortably on the sofa in front of the telly. And I think the result is better - the cords are quite smooth and sturdy to the touch, and consequently take a few less microseconds to tie under the chin. Always a win when trying to shepherd a kicking screaming toddler away from the swings and into the pushchair. And I defy him to lose any of this iteration of warm things without a gargantuan effort. Btw if you are wondering, I didn't make the handsome cabled cardie in the top photo, that was Auntie Hilda. (But I did sew the patches onto the jeans after excessive crawling gave him ripped denim knees and a bit of an alarming 80s soft rocker look).


Thursday, November 12, 2009

box of delights

This is what the postman brought me yesterday. A big box of treats from my new favourite person Kate B! I think she took pity on me after seeing my jumper made from scraps. It's a ridiculously generous present, with looooads of yarn in this box. There's a whole toddlerjumpersworth of lovely navy blue aran weight wool, and some nice cheerfully bright skeins of sock yarn to bring a bit of colour to a grey drizzly day. I love it... thankyou very much Kate! What with this and my speed knitting win, the yarn cupboard is looking a lot healthier now, and I can start plotting some exciting new warm stuff.... yay! I'm not sure exactly what yet, but the awesome yellowy orangey skein on the left whispered to me that it might want to be a triangle scarf when it grows up.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

new things to squish

squish me
In case you were worried about the yarn levels in this house after the last post - it's all ok again! I went to Manchester Yarn Day, which was the funnest day out ever. So much lovely hand dyed and handspun yarn around, there were all kinds of opportunities for stroking, prodding and admiring. And lots of sitting around drinking tea, meeting nice people, chatting and knitting. I did a couple of the free workshops. There was one on spinning, by Kate from Green Eyed Monsters which was all kinds of awesome. Unfortunately, though, someone had stolen my fingers and replaced them with sausages immediately prior to the event. Everyone else seemed to end up with yarn, whereas I had an amorphous blob of an unknittable substance that veered crazily from sewing thread to candy floss in consistency. But it was immensely good fun. As was the Speed Knitting event. I got a bit overexcited about this and demanded a soundsystem playing Eye of the Tiger and a satin dressing gown with Rubbishknitter embroidered on the back. Sadly these weren't provided but somehow I managed to win!
cherry purse
The prize was a basket of lovely goodies from the Manchester Yarn Collective - one skein of 'just peachy' sock yarn and a cute cherry purse from Green Eyed Monsters, and a skein of yellow laceweight from Krafty Koala (the label fell off in the excitement but it is unbelievably soft - I think some sort of cashmere blend). I am clearly having an extremely lucky day and should probably do the lottery or something. So amazingly, I almost got away without spending any money, but unfortunately when I went up to the stall to say thankyou for my prize yarn I leaned on a skein of lovely soft chocolate brown merino sock yarn from Skeins and it was so soft and warm I accidentally bought it. Ah well, I managed to spend less than a tenner and it was a pretty awesome haul! And there is hope yet for spinning skillz in the family...
spinning skillz


Friday, November 06, 2009

the ghosts of knitmas past

jumper top view
We're still a bit brassic in this household, with neither myself nor Mr. Rubbishknitter currently able to locate any form of paid employment. The child is still a trifle too young to sweep chimneys and the dog has far too nervous a disposition to be of any use to anyone, having spent most of fireworks night trembling and hiding in the cupboard under the stairs.

Being on the rock'n'roll means my credit card is gathering a fine layer of dust and my yarn cupboard is looking considerably less full than usual. So I have resorted to stuff like this jumper, which is made from all the leftover bits of machine washable dk yarn I have been able to find in there. Pattern is Five Fruits by Amanda Kerr (sorry, no non-ravelry link since the demise of magknits), although my colour scheme is a lot more random than suggested and would indicate to me that the fruit should really just be tipped straight into the compost bin. I made mine a bit bigger than the biggest size and made turn back cuffs for extra growing room. It was super easy and quick, just a straightforward top down raglan. The great thing is that, as well as using up a load of remnants, I can play Knitting Reminiscences by looking at the stripes. Most of them are left over from hats from ages ago. I do seem to make a lot of hats. There is a nice soft stripe of Rowan Cashsoft dk in beige left over from my Deep V tank top (which is complete bar the steek finishing, although as I have worn it twice already without bothering to do this, maybe I should give up on the finishing and count it as done.) I have no idea where the purple came from. Kate B if she is reading this will be distressed to learn that I have never yet made anything purple. (Nothing personal against it, just there are lots of colours out there that I like!) I think maybe I bought it ages ago when learning to knit, it was some kind of inexpensive looking wool / acrylic blend.

mining for bogeysflitting between scenes of destruction
Anyway, the wee man is warm and so are my hands because I haven't needed to take them out of my pockets! (OK that doesn't entirely work because I needed my hands to knit the jumper, but you know what I mean. And strictly speaking I had to buy buttons and one extra ball of blue but they don't count, right). Apologies for photo blurriness, it's remarkably difficult to photograph a toddler whilst he rampages round the house at high speed hellbent on destruction.


Friday, October 16, 2009

a small treat

mmmm soft
Well, after all those wool/acrylic squares for the Macmillan blanket, I really wanted to have a go on something soft and lovely. This hat came from a single skein of 100% alpaca handspun that I bought on UK Ravelry Day from Six Swans. It's so unbelievably soft, knitting with it was like jumping into a river of marshmallows. I was kind of gutted to finish the hat. It was originally intended to be for the baby, but soon after I cast on, I realised it was a little on the big side. Then the voice of Satan started whispering things in my ear like 'he'll only grow out of it' and 'babies wouldn't appreciate the fineness of this handspun anyway'. After a while, I started to agree with Satan. So it's mine! Unlucky, kiddo.

I didn't use a pattern, and kept it extremely simple, I think it's better to let the loveliness of the handspun speak for itself. It's just 80 stitches, knitted in the round, stocking stitch with a couple of rows of garter stitch at the start to stop the edge curling, and an 8 point type decrease at the crown. And now I have warm ears! Hooray.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

crafty balls up of the day

how not to make a cushion
Top tip. When attempting to sew a cushion cover, if you have just put in a zip down one side and are feeling quite pleased with yourself. Before putting right sides together and sewing round the other three edges, it might be an idea to open said zip. Otherwise, as any numpty can plainly see, you are going to have extreme difficulty turning the thing inside out. Leaving you with something that is neither decorative nor useful. *Reaches sheepishly for seam ripper*.

I had hoped I could accomplish a simple cushion cover without recourse to an internet tutorial, but clearly I still need google to hold my hand through this area of textile adventuring.
Maybe I should change my name by deed poll to once-rubbish-now-probably-fairly-average-knitter-but-still-mindbogglingly-thick-at-sewing. Catchy! I bet that userid is still available on ravelry too.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

field of dreams

grassy sunny lovely
It is a lovely day today. The beauty of the sunshine, however, was slightly lost on me earlier this morning. Waking up to such lovely early morning light, Mr. Rubbishknitter had decided to take some photos of the autumn mist, and during the process had dropped my much treasured macro lens out of his pocket and lost it somewhere in a field. They're not cheap, so it could have been an ignominious end for this blog, and my ongoing attempts at taking nice photographs. In horror, I followed him down to said field and scrabbled around in the damp grass for a while. It was mostly a lot longer than the grass in this picture, and quite good at hiding a camera lens. The exquisite morning light shone most elegantly onto our sad faces. Then in a moment of huge relief, I found it. It was a bit soggy and covered in condensation but, miraculously, seems to have cleaned up ok. The lens lives to blog another day!!!1!1

To celebrate, I took some pictures of knitting with an outrrrrrageously shallow depth of field.
So recently, I've mostly been doing a lot of warm but not very exciting stocking stitch squares for a blanket for Macmillan. A few of us from knitting group thought it would be a nice thing to do a charidee project. The website suggests you organise a Coffee Morning to do the sewing up of the different squares, but we thought it might be more fun to have a Beer Afternoon instead.
tweedy vines
In the stuff-for-me category, this is the Trellis and Vines Pullover from the Fall 2009 issue of Interweave Knits. I was possibly a bit rash casting on so quickly after the pattern was released, as sometimes you end up being a bit of a guinea pig, but I couldn't resist. This yarn is Forsell Touch of Silk DK, some ancient long-discontinued line which was mega cheap from Silver Viscount - £4 a cone I think, which is like, nearly as cheap as air, so I bought two. It feels a tiny bit scratchy, but I've heard it softens up after washing. The photos on the website weren't the clearest so I took my chances with the colourway 'Blarney' and bejaysus! It was a pretty tweedy green.

The pattern is great fun so far, nice and quick in a top down raglan stylee. I'm determined to get it done this winter, and break free from my usual pattern of finishing a big pile of warm things in spring when they are no longer necessary.


Thursday, October 01, 2009

the owls are not what they seem

too whit too whatnow?
Well I've finally got to the end of the baby gift knitting, for now! I couldn't resist this little pattern. So cute, and yet so much less effort than the adult version. It's Owlet, by Kate Davies. I knitted it in exactly the recommended yarn, Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran, in exactly the same colour as she used. This may have displayed something of a poverty of imagination on my part, but the mother of the child likes both mustardy yellow and owls, so when I stumbled across this pattern I knew it was spot on. The yarn isn't cheap but it is very lovely - it's really springy soft superwash merino, and I only needed three balls for the 6-9 month size. It was a super quick knit too. I've never done a bottom up raglan before and it was a little fiddly joining the sleeves in but worked pretty well and there was almost no sewing up at the end.

i'm watching you
The only departure from the prescribed pattern was the owl eyes. I had intended to use buttons as the pattern suggested, and got some of the smallest ones I could find. But they still looked a bit big for their faces, and not in a cutesy manga type way. The impression they gave was more like, I'm a top predator with super bionic night vision and I'm going to swoop down and break your arm. This wasn't quite the right sort of ambience for an item of baby clothing. So I rummaged through my drawer of craft related tat and found these plain wooden beads, which had a much less sinister air. It would probably have been easier if I'd thought about this during the actual knitting bit rather than when I'd cast off, then I could have had the option of knitting the beads in somehow. As it was I strung them all onto a piece of thin but super strong quilting cotton and sewed it invisibly round the circumference of the jumper afterwards, tying it in about 150 knots so the eyes don't all simultaneously fall off if the baby sneezes.
beady beady eyes
Not possible to get modelled photos yet unfortunately, so I don't know how the fit is. But the jumper does look like it would accommodate a fat baby belly quite nicely. It was great fun to make - I may even have to do another one for my wee man.


Monday, September 28, 2009

jammy winner

two is today's magic number
I was only joking about rolling a dice to pick the winner, but pleasingly, I got 6 comments which made it very easy. This was the result, so I guess Manuel gets the jam! I would say congratulations but it's really not worth getting too excited about. I'll send you an email to find out where to post this sugary fruity goodness... in the meantime I suggest you stock up on crumpets!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I can't quite believe I've managed to maintain this serialisation of inane witterings for 100 posts, but blogger assures me I have. I believe it's traditional to do some kind of giveaway at this point. Unfortunately I don't really have anything exciting in the way of surplus yarn at the moment, I'm afraid - I've been reduced to buying sock yarn at lidl this week (only in Ireland at the moment I think? I was over visiting the inlaws). I do have a Jam Mountain though. So I am offering a free jar of super duper homemade gooseberry and elderflower yumminess to anyone who reads this!

I will select a winner at random by rolling a huge dice with as many sides as there are comments on this post. It probably won't be that big a dice, given how many readers I have - in fact it might be some sort of physics-defying moebiusdice. I'm prepared to post this anywhere in the world, although again this is rather quixotic as most of my readers live within about a 3 mile radius because I have lovely readers everywhere! I don't even know what this jam tastes like, it might well be minging. It was made this summer from the gooseberry bush on my allotment and scrumped neighbourhood elderflowers. It should keep for a year or so if you keep it in the fridge and remember to use a clean knife each time. From tilting the jar it looks pretty well set but I won't accept responsibility for any chisels you may break trying to get it out. Previous attempts have been quite pleasantly tangy and marmaladey tasting, so hopefully it will taste ok. To have a chance to win this delicious treat just comment below!1!!1 I'll announce the winner next week.


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

of mice and daisies

daisy, daisy, give me your answer do
I have two baby showers this week so there has been smoke coming off my knitting needles. In the nick of time, I have now finished Anouk. This was awesome fun. The great thing about this pattern is that it's endlessly customisable. Looking at the ravelry pages for it, there are so many very very different versions. And it's dead quick to make in aran weight yarn - I can see why it's so popular! So I thought about it for a while, surveyed my crafty stash cupboard and this was my effort.

It's quite a minimalist version of the pattern really. This is for a mate of mine who asked for a theme of mice and / or daisies. I was going to try and incorporate both mice and daisies but in the end decided to go for a very simple approach. Mostly because daisies are easier than mice. But it's tricky because my friend is one of those effortlessly stylish people, who always wears muted colours, dresses in an understated way and looks awesome. She has, like, proper outfits that co-ordinate and stuff. She'll spend ages putting on makeup and when she comes out of the bathroom you can't actually see it but she'll just look really stunning. (Unlike me, who tends to look more like Robert Smith). So I didn't want to give her some sort of tacky bad-acid-flashback-with-clashing-dayglo-colours childrens clothing nightmare - a 'less is more' approach is definitely her style. I hope I haven't gone too far the other way - the brown cotton when fashioned into a dress has a kind of potato-sack look which maybe isn't what every proud parent is striving for.

pinnydaisy detail
So anyway I left off the pocket and replaced the intarsia flower with three little daisies. At the bottom of each stalk, I slipped three stitches as I changed to the brown colour, and cabled each end stitch to the left and right to give a sort of splayed leaves type thing. I was quite pleased with this effect, but unfortunately hadn't thought far beyond this particular row, and after much headscratching I gave up trying to knit the rest of the flower. The stem is duplicate stitched on and the flower is embroidered very simply using white stranded cotton, with a tiny yellow bead in the middle.

The other awesome thing about this pattern is that it should last for a while. It's designed to change from a dress to a tunic as the child grows, and the side tabs have two buttonholes so it will accommodate a fat baby belly. I made the 6 months size but it should last till well over a year.

Apologies for the lack of modelled photos - it always annoys me when a picture of a garment is shown on the hanger - but the child for whom this is intended isn't born yet. I'll maybe sneak round with a camera once the young lady has made her appearance.


Thursday, September 03, 2009

shoe fail, pinny win

where's me mug of cocoa
I know conventional parenting hegemony wisdom dictates that babies should be decked out in pretty pastel hues of blue or pink. But I much prefer to dress tiny people like their outfits were sourced from the comfort-for-old-people section at the back of the sunday supplements. It just amuses me. So I was very pleased with the look of these baby shoes. Rubbishknitterjunior is on the verge of walking, a little too timid to let go of furniture / mother's legs yet, but socks just aren't really enough on their own any more. I thought I could save a few bob in this transitional phase by sewing up these shoes out of some scraps. Only slight issues being that I don't have a printer to print out the pattern pieces, and my child is 1 year old and rather too large of foot for these anyway. In a moment of foolhardiness I thought both problems could be solved by drawing round the foot using a crayon onto some greaseproof paper and sketching the remaining bits freehand, whilst keeping one eye on the web page with the pattern on. It was one of those quick, scrap using type projects that can be accomplished in a couple of naptimes anyway, so I thought it was worth a try. I made the shoes, and then, guttingly, realised that the child had been clenching up his toes when I had drawn round the foot. (Little blighter must have changed his Plantar reflex without giving me any notice.) Those chubby plates of meat just weren't up for being crammed into their nice new cosy corduroy slippers, despite many attempts. Shoe Fail. I might actually have to go to a proper shop. But I know lots of smaller babies of various sizes, and these have been passed on to rubbishknitterjuniorcousin. Rubbishknittercousinjunior. This is getting a bit confusing now, but hopefully you know what I mean.

hms pinafore
Since then I've been enjoying a bit of quiet knitting in the form of Anouk for a friend who is due to give birth in a couple of weeks. She's having a girl, obv. Weirdly, this was in my ravelry queue once before - when I was pregnant and they told me at the 20 week scan I was having a girl. I wasn't. I was a bit gutted at having to unqueue it then, so it's nice to have the opportunity to make it again now. It's for a close friend who knows me well enough to request themes for potential knitted gifts - she asked for mice and/or daisies. It's unusual and quite nice to have such specific requirements, although I haven't quite decided how I'm going to implement them. I think with duplicate stitch and / or embroidery. I am very much enjoying making this so far. It's using up a big cone of some old mystery aran weight cotton than a friend destashed ages ago. I used some of it in my stripy brown baby blanket, which has lasted through many, many machine washes - it's good to be able to feel confident in the longevity of a gift.

Oh and I made another pirate hat. For my nephew's birthday. I couldn't help it. It was the funnest pattern evah. I love the way you can fine tune the fit with the provisional cast on - this was a teeny tiny bit small (large heads run in the family) so I added a few rows of garter stitch to the brim before knitting the lining. He appraised it as Well Good Knitting.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

pimp my ride

teh most awsum chair!
I've been a bit quiet lately, partly because someone borrowed our camera to take on holiday and I'm not an interesting enough writer to make a blog worthwhile without pikshers, and partly because my time has been diverted to essential but fairly unexciting projects such as this. I thought I'd mention it though, because it's one of those crazy half baked ideas that seemed to work against all the odds, and other brassic mothers might appreciate knowing it is feasible.

The car seat in the picture had been not-so-gently used by seven of my nieces and nephews before it made it down the handmedown chain to rubbishknitterjunior. The amount of bouncing around had taken its toll on the upholstery as you see. The day I acquired it, Mr. Rubbishknitter was throwing out a perfectly good shirt with a slightly worn collar. These were the ingredients that combined with one sewing machine, some thread and a lack of general sewing expertise to form the half baked idea.
Pimped. Sort of.
I drew the pieces of the original seat cover onto tracing paper to make a sort of pattern, then arranged them onto the shirt, adding seam allowances before I cut the pieces out. I sewed them all together to make a new template - there was just enough shirt to cover the really knackered areas. The really big holes I covered with iron on interfacing, then I sewed the new cover over the worn parts of the old one. This was much easier than making a whole new one as I didn't have to worry about any of the velcro or elastic fastenings. I then attempted to quilt the thing together, although my original draft of a pattern wasn't really accurate enough and there are all sorts of wibbly baggy bits of surplus fabric.

But all in all, I'm quite pleased because it looks like it will now withstand a machine wash, which was my only aim really. And I have saved a Large Amount of coin. Car seats these days seem to cost possibly more than my car is worth. So clearly I was now able to treat myself to something else instead! What could that thing be? You are probably wondering.
bundle of joy
MOAR SEWINGZ!11! I've been stalking the clothkits site forever, fondly stroking the rather too expensive kits without buying anything. Then they had a sale in which one of the skirt kits was half price. Win! And the top thing in the picture is a purse and pencil case kit. Yes, I got a little carried away. I've always felt that you could make these things for a fraction of the price by just buying the fabric and notions yourself. And this is almost certainly true, but I need my hand holding a bit with sewing, and i've heard these kits have nice clear instructions, so hopefully this will be a good learning experience. And anyway look at that parcel! Black crepe paper! And some of it is wrapped in a measuring-tape ribbon!11!1 It's been a long time since the postman brought anything that exciting!


Sunday, August 09, 2009

yo ho ho and a bottle of milk

Literally everyone I know is pregnant at the moment, it's like the Midwich Cuckoos. So I have a lot of baby gift knitting to do. And in a remarkable stroke of fortune at knitting group the other week, a lady walked in with a massive pile of yarn she wanted to get rid of. We spread it all out on the table, it immediately disappeared behind a blur of limbs and a sort of feeding frenzy ensued, after which I emerged with a cone of mysterious black 4plyish acrylic. Paired with a neverending ball of cream coloured baby type acrylic, that has been in my cupboard for about 2 years and incorporated in tiny quantities into about 50 projects, it was ideal for this hat.

It's We Call Them Pirates, sort of. I had to make it smaller, obv, and I wasn't about to buy thinner yarn or wreck my wrists wrestling with tiny needles, so I missed out the vertical stripes. I just chopped off the right hand 4 stitches of the chart, so I cast on 112 stitches instead of 128. I also got a bit bored knitting the lining, so mine is only about an inch long - more of a knitted hem. It's stranded anyway so it's going to be pretty warm, the baby isn't planning on any arctic expeditions AFAIK. I've not done this sort of finish before - it used a provisional cast on to knit up the lining after finishing the main bit of hat. It sounds a bit faffy but I must say I do like the result - it has a nice sturdy feel to it, and it really didn't take that long. The skull and crossbones bit was loads of fun. I can sense more of these hats in my future. Modelled by rubbishknitterjunior with a bit of negative ease - he is one now, it should be about right for a normal head sized 6 month old.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009


eat it quick
Important to keep the chill off your electrical goods I feel. If anyone is wondering what happened to the recycled bit of green embroidery thread I was wittering on about in the previous post, here it is! On a sock for my niece's ipod. I ummed and ahhed about music based motifs for a while, but couldn't think of anything really suitable. You could maybe embroider a big treble clef on or something but then it would look like a bad 80s nightclub. And there's not enough space on it to do anything too fancy. Whereas a 16x16 pixel image from the world of retro gaming fits perfectly. Anyway, you can play games on ipods can't you, and my niece likes Mario Kart. So a 1up mushroom it is.

I dug out some ancient 4ply sock yarn, knitted a 40-stitch stocking stitch tube, and cross stitched the mushroom over the top. I used to make loads of this sort of thing but haven't done it for a while - it's great fun! Only took a couple of days, so she may even get it in time for her birthday. The finished sock is modelled on a chocolate bar which is going in the post with it. (Yes, i did spend ages in the shop, looking at all the chocolate bars from various angles like a stoner, trying to find one which was the same dimensions as an ipod. This one was closest!)


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

crafty nostalgia

the ghost of craftmas past
I have a small messy pile of embroidery thread at the back of a drawer, that has been with me since my teenage years and moved house with me many times. Some of it is many, many years old, and was probably stolen from my mother's sewing basket. I rarely delve into it, but today I was looking for some green when I found this at the bottom of the pile. Blimey. Remember friendship bracelets?!

I had forgotten they ever existed, but stumbling across this, it all came flooding back. You put the Frank and Walters or something on the stereo and safety pin the top to your jeans. Make criss crossing knotty patterns, swap them with your mates (or, secretly make a load for yourself and pretend you're reeeeally popular) and bob's your uncle - you've amassed an armful of atrocious amateur art! I seem to remember having loads at one point, but they all must have fallen apart long ago. I don't know what happened with this embryonic one, it must be about 15 years old. Maybe I had a row with its intended recipient or maybe I just got bored of the whole thing. Glad I found it though, it has a good long bit of green in and frankly I didn't fancy going out in that rain just to buy embroidery thread. Gonna need to sharpen my nails to unpick those knots though!


Friday, July 24, 2009


dish trapezoid
I had a small amount of leftover aran weight cotton, so I started knitting this dishcloth before last Christmas, thinking it would go in my sister's stocking. (It's a bit of a lame family running joke, that we give each other washing up related gifts, to ease the pain of post-meal clearup.) Anyway, I failed to finish it in time. How I'm not quite sure, it's really a one-evening in front of the telly sort of a task. After that it got buried under a pile of yarn and forgotten about until a few days ago when I stumbled across it. So I finished it off, but something weird seems to have happened to my gauge. Can you see? It's a dish trapezoid!!1! I can only attribute this to a more relaxed, summery state of mind, compared with the stress of the pre-Christmas build up. Ah well. I'm too relaxed now, evidently, to worry about it. The pattern is Ball Band Dishcloth, very quick and easy, I can recommend it to anyone else insane enough to want to knit a dishcloth. (Lordy - 5460 other people on ravelry appaz)
mini fiery socks
I also had to make a slightly bigger pair of unpulloffable baby socks, and there was a wee bit of fiery hand dyed yarn left, so I made these. It's become a bit of an arms race between me and the baby to stop him indulging in his favourite game of pull-my-socks-off-and-eat-them. He is a veritable sock Houdini these days. After my last pair of socks with ties, the little blighter has learned to undo a bow. With these socks I have been forced to deploy my fiercest weapon - the double bow. Bwah hah hah haaaaah! It's working pretty well so far. This pattern is made up by me - I should maybe have a quick go at writing it up, it's a very useful one. Dead quick - takes a couple of hours, uses up the little bits of sock yarn you always have left over after making a pair for yourself, they're nice and cosy and they stay on a lot better than shop bought baby socks. Although there are myriads of other similar patterns out there and they're really not rocket science - I just winged my own because I was on holiday without internets access the first time I made them.

Now the wee fella is standing up and about to start walking, I am contemplating some sort of sticky sole solution for indoor adventures - I have a lot of slippery bare floorboards in the house, which make an alarming noise when his head connects with them. Maybe puffy paint or sew on soles will help - we will see.


Tuesday, July 07, 2009

pacman dungarees

dungies front viewdungies back view
So I finished my first evah sewing pattern!!1!1 How exciting. It is Burda 9652, picked because it claimed to be Very Easy. I wouldn't quite go that far, as I don't really have much experience of this sort of thing, but I seem to have got through it ok. There were some sentences I had to read several times, particularly during late night beer assisted sewing sessions, but generally it was pretty straightforward.

Drunk on the excitement of actually finding the pattern comprehensible, and possibly the aforementioned beer, I may have got sliiiightly carried away with the applique there.
Pacman is being chased by Inky on the back. On the front are some bonus cherries. (I originally fancied an apple or a strawberry, but they would have been trickier, and Mr. Rubbishknitter didn't believe me that you ever got these as bonuses. Obviously because he wasn't as awesome a player as I was). It seemed important at the time for my son to fully appreciate the marvels of the 8 bit era of computer gaming. I started by copying the original pacman sprites onto graph paper. Being incredibly anal I like representations of classic video games to be pixel perfect, and I even toyed with the idea of cutting the characters out with blocky edges, but I doubt I would have been able to get it neat enough, so I rounded out the edges of each original sprite for a slightly cuddlier effect. There are much more suitable ways of representing pixels accurately in the world of textiles - cross stitch, crochet, knitting - so I thought it might work better just to do something simpler.

I made the appliques using bits of scrap fabric. Using a double thickness of each, I drew round my graph paper templates and machine stitched them together nearly all the way round. I trimmed the edges, turned them inside out and hand-slipstitched them onto the pocket pieces. I know this is probably a weird way to do applique. But the scraps of fabric were cheap and flimsy, and after some earlier flirtations I'm now getting a bit bored of zigzag stitch. My previous rubbish attempts at applique have been a bit fally-aparty after a couple of washes. Crapplique, if you will. As this garment is for a child who likes to drag himself around the floor all day, pausing occasionally to dribble chewed up biscuit or throw up on himself, it was imperative that they withstand a few machine washes. So for the teeny tiny details, like Inky's eyes and the cherry stalks, I hand embroidered them on. Yes, it took a while, but it was damn good fun, and each pocket made a pleasingly portable project for sitting in the sun with.
wot no power pills?om nom nom
I put buttons at the top instead of poppers because I thought they might hold up to a bit more bouncing around. The other major modification I did was to put poppers along the inside leg seams for ease of nappy changing. I bought a pair of baby dungarees recently from a high street shop, marvelling at the cheapness, then was horrified to realise i had to wrestle the child all the way out of and back into them every time he relieved himself. So this time, poppers it had to be. In the past, I have always used those ones that you have to hand sew on, and the way I attach them they generally fall off quite regularly, causing the air around me to turn blue. This time, this time I would conquer the art of the reclosable seam. I was highly enthused by the idea of popper tape, but could only find it available in white, which would have looked a bit weird on such dark fabric. Dying it could have been an answer but I spotted some dark brown bias binding in the exact right shade in my local fabric shop so opted for making my own using this and a pack of hammerable innable poppers. This turned out to be quite a learning experience. I learnt the following things, which may be useful to others:
buttonpop pop pop those poppers

  • At all costs, avoid wielding the hammer too close to your fingers. shudder

  • You should, however, avoid concentrating on finger avoidance so hard that you fail to notice you have hammered in 4 poppers in a row upside down.

  • Do not hammer on a pine table. You will leave little popper-shaped impressions. Also when you hammer the table, the loose poppers that are lying around on it are liable to jump off in fear.

  • Avoid making popper tape out of a single thickness of bias binding or other flimsy fabric. You need to put some heavy duty interfacing behind it before putting the poppers in. Otherwise, your first attempt to open your nice new popper tape will be greeted with a rrrRRRIP! noise that may make you cry.

  • I tried a couple of types but the Prym ones were the best - sturdier, more difficult to accidentally hammer in upside down if you are being a bit stupid, and, crucially, slightly shinier.

  • Maybe not a good idea to try and machine sew over poppers.

So after several popperfails, I am pleased to report the end result is sturdy and easily openable. Phew!

To verify the general sturdiness, here's a few action shots of the dungarees, as modelled by rubbishknitterjunior. I think he likes them.


Monday, July 06, 2009

yarn avoidance fail

buttony goodness
Well, I knew it was the John Lewis sale this week... and I needed some buttons for the dungarees. So off I went, reciting in my head the mantra 'you only need buttons'. I went for these rather simple buttons in the end - they go nicely with the colour scheme, and there is some rather hectic applique going on elsewhere so I thought attention seeking buttons might be a bit over the top. Quite pleased with these ones - cheap and simple but pleasing.

mmmm silky
What I definitely didn't go to John Lewis for, was any of this. But somehow it seems to have happened anyway. Debbie Bliss Pure Silk half price, in decent colours? It was literally impossible to walk past the bargain bin. I'm sure it will get used... I have about 50 bazillion pregnant friends at the moment, and a new copy of Woolly Wormhead's baby hat book, so small amounts of luxury yarn are handy.

The worrying thing is that I need some more poppers* too (I hammered in some of the first lot a bit overenthusiastically). So I have to go back. Do I have the willpower to resist the bargain bin a second time?! I hope so...

*as in snap fasteners obv, not the intoxicating substance which makes you turn purple