Thursday, February 26, 2009


ow, my shoulder/arm/neck hurts
This site made me laugh today, despite being a bit under the weather at the moment... pictures of people's desks... go and send yours! People with a keen eye for knitting-related internets timewastery will note that I am viewing the ravelry messageboards here. (Click the picture for the full explanation of this somewhat uncomfortable setup on desked).

Saturday, February 14, 2009

there has also been knitting

swirly swirly hat
In the form of this hat. From a Finnish pattern - Imitaatio BB:n Tiinan piposta
by Lauran Blogi (helpfully translated into English, and found on Ravelry). I picked up a skein of
Araucania Azapa at the Stitch and Creative Crafts Show at Manchester Central. I really, really didn't need any more yarn, but I decided it was acceptable to buy some if:

a) it's only one skein
b) you cast on for something the same day and
c) you are selflessly making a birthday prezzie for a friend.

So here it is! Nice quick knit and I like the simplicity of this pattern. The yarn is a pleasingly fat chunky single ply wool / alpaca / silk blend, nice and gentle on the fingers. A bit like knitting with roving, or a very long udon noodle. Should be lovely and cosy, and there is enough yarn left from the single skein for a small snood as well. Maybe. Or a very very short scarf.

swirly hat close up
Last year at the Stitch and Creative Crafts show, I went to buy yarn and came away with loads of sewing stuff as there was lots more of that around. This year, dizzy with the success from the completion of my quilt, I was looking for sewing stuff, but found piles of very tempting yarn instead. There were a couple of sewing stalls, I managed to get a rotary cutter as well. (And managed to cut my finger with it literally seconds after getting it out of the packet - doh!).

mega giga close up
I'm also rather pleased with this macro lens which I have sneakily borrowed from my cousin. You can get rather a lot more close-up detail with this thing. Woooah.... look the depth of field on that! it's, like, one stitch...

Happy Valentine's Day everybody. I hope the postman brought you sacksful of cards from admiring suitors.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

lookeylikeys #0003

my quilt
stingraaay stingray
A quilt i just madeAaargh it's a stingray!!1!!1

So I finally finished the quilt. I did the piecing for the top, got a little nervous of doing the actual quilting, stashed it on top of the wardrobe for a bit then got rather embarrassed when people started asking how I was getting on with it. So I gritted my teeth, bravely dusted down the sewing machine and started the actual quilting bit. And realised many things in the process.

  • My quilt looks a bit like a stingray. Or a magic carpet. Not terribly flat at any rate. But it has character mmmkay.

  • I understand now why people enjoy this so much as a hobby. I am pants at it, and was terrified of starting the actual quilting bit and ballsing everything up. But on a snowy day, getting out a quilt to work on is the loveliest thing. It's a bit like being a student again and deciding you can't be bothered getting out of bed that day. Just really warm and snuggly and comforting. I was sort of sad when it was finished.

  • It is not a betrayal of the sewing machine to handstitch small bits of the quilt. Like the binding. Particularly if machine stitching a bit will result in you veering wildly off course, missing stuff and having to fix loads of it by hand later anyway. It really doesn't mean you aren't getting your value for money out of the big shiny machine if you have to whip out the small pointy metal thing. Hell, it could even be quite relaxing, if you are sprawling under the quilt on a comfy sofa.

  • When quilting, it's really not a great idea to pick a ridiculously bright acid green colour thread. It may be the poshest looking cotton you have in the drawer but that is not enough of a reason. Inconspicuous, stealthy thread would be the thing. That spool of invisible thread, that you have been carrying round pointlessly for about 7 house moves but never found a use for, and keeps falling out of the drawer and unwinding itself all over the floor with hilarious consequences as you can't see it to wind it back up again? This was possibly the one time it would have been useful.

  • Tacking is your friend. Rather than desperately trying to hold things together in front of the needle then nearly sewing over your finger. Pinning is good but not if the thing you are making is a couple of inches thick in its unquilted state. (I have a feeling there are some kind of special pins for quilting but I don't have any of these)

  • However rubbish the attempt, and however wonky the seams, it is worth having a go at making new kinds of things, because you will probably be able to use them even if they are not perfect. I am very pleased that I got to the end of this and have a functional thing. (Although I haven't dared put it through the washing machine yet - there is every possibility it would fall apart into tiny quilty shards)

  • You are not the sewing equivalent of Lewis Hamilton. The machine is a lot like a formula one car actually. It allows you to reach dizzying speeds, but if you try it you will just end up in a tangle. It is very tempting to put your pedal to the metal, but not a very good idea.

The fabric is Summer's Basket of Flowers by Terry Thompson for Moda. It all came in rather handy pre-cut squares, so a bit of a cheat really. The border and binding are just random other bits of cotton from the Local Fabric Store.


Monday, February 02, 2009

Maslow's hierarchy of craft-related needs

I seem to have fallen off the bottom of it recently. If knitting things of intricate beauty, taking photos and blogging are at the top, and urgently making warm stuff to keep your family's extremities from falling off during blizzards is at the bottom. (Maslow's hierarchy is defined here if you've never studied psychology. Obviously he wasn't originally talking about knitting, more about life in general). So I've been mostly spending January being distracted from my major WIPs by small but important projects for the warmness and general wellbeing of those around me.

Like the above tiny baby socks made out of DK yarn scraps. Pattern is Socks in a box from the January issue of Knitting magazine. I've never read this before but I rather enjoyed it - I bought the mag, cast on and finished this project on the same day - don't think that's ever happened before with a magazine. They're just like normal socks to knit, but gratifyingly swift. Not quite as awesome at staying on as Christine's stay on baby booties, but they took almost no time at all and used up tiny bits of yarn that were otherwise utterly useless.
hat of boringness
I also had to fulfil a request for head warming gear from Mr. Rubbishknitter, so made this manly muted coloured hat. It's just a plain 1x1 rib beanie from Rowan Pure Wool DK. I thought it would be a tedious knit but it is the loveliest yarn ever I have to say, so it was actually a pleasure. Really springy and light but warm merino, feels lovely against the skin. (Yes, I have stolen this hat a couple of times to walk the dog, although pleasingly it is rarely off the big fella's head.) File under boring-but-useful. Oh - and I did have something of a hat-knitting epiphany - I knitted it on two circulars. Honestly, how much unnecessary hassle have I caused myself in the past by using dpns for this? Constantly picking up dropped stitches off the ends, and wondering if it's going to fit, but not really knowing until I reach the crown because I am too lazy to put all the stitches on scrap yarn. With two circulars you can cast on, knit a couple of rows of ribbing and check fit straight away while it's still on the needles! Easy enough to start again at that stage if it isn't totally perfect... I feel like something of an idiot for my previous slapdash trial and error approach. No more giving away failed hats I had earmarked for my large-headed self to children! I can see more hat knitting in my not too distant future...

I'm also in a frenzy of activity to finish the baby's quilt, as my mother in law pointed out winter is nearly over and he might not fit it next year... and it's gone mightily cold in the nights round here... it's quite laughably amateurish looking but excitingly, I'm nearly there....