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


Thursday, July 02, 2009

flaming socks of fire

too damn hot
In this weather these feel like an appropriate knit. It got so hot, my socks caught fire!1!1 They're Charades (sorry, the non-ravelry link seems to have died) and the yarn was a Christmas present for me hand-dyed by Cat. Isn't is lovely? Don't think I've ever made anything out of hand-dyed yarn before so it was a new and exciting experience.

I'm a big fan of this pattern too, would definitely recommend it for hand dyed yarn. (You can still get it as a free ravelry download fortunately.) The slip stitch pattern breaks up the pooling / flashing / whatever you call it, and adds to the general chaotic effect. I think I messed up the heel a bit - it's the first time i've attempted a top down sock on two circulars and the pattern's written quite specifically for dpns. I stubbornly continued with the two circulars anyway and somehow seemed to end up with eight extra stitches after turning the heel. Oops. So the heel gusset is pretty big, but this is actually a really nice feature - the socks are super easy to put on and take off. And fortunately whatever I did wrong on the first sock, I did wrong in the same way on the second, so they are the same shape. Now I just need a bit of slightly cooler weather so I can wear them!

In other news, I am an extremely minor internet celebrity this week. I was interviewed by Girl and Dean at UK Ravelry Day, and some of it made its way into the video below. You can't see me but you can hear some of my inane witterings. Always weird hearing yourself, I sound like a bloke. Quite a funny little film though anyway.