Monday, 23 December 2013

Handmade Christmas: Fabric Decorations

Last year, I showed you all the Christmas Tree decorations. This year, it's the turn of the fabric decorations. There is quite a bit of Christmas bunting around the house but found it difficult to get a good photograph, so you'll have to imagine how pretty it looks!

I did make some shelf bunting for the mantlepiece in the lounge. 

The tree is in a different position this year, which gives us a bit more room but big downside is I can't easily get to the knitting books in the case behind it!

I made a Christmas quilt that comes out a lot earlier than the rest of the decorations (at the start of Advent). It was hand pieced from lots of Christmas fabric scraps and machine quilted with a radiating star.

Christmas quilt

The most recent addition to the tree is a wee cheesy Christmas jumper - decorated with beads, sparkly thread and embroidery. The mini coat hanger was a struggle to make but it had to be done.

Mini Cheesy Christmas Jumper decoration

Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Photo / Diagram Tutorial: Double Estonian Cast On

A while ago, I made a photo tutorial for the Estonian Cast On. The Double Estonian Cast On is a simple variation of this. The edge is thicker and more decorative. It is ideal for 1 x 1 and 2 x 2 ribbing, as it wraps the base of the ribbing columns. It is firm, but stretchy - this makes it a great cast on for socks.

My Little Duck socks that I blogged about last week used the Double Estonian Cast On.

Double Estonian Cast On

The actual cast on is the same for both the single and double Estonian Cast on. It's just the starting bit that's a little different.

  1. As for any long tail cast on, measure out a long tail. I tend to use 1 inch per stitch for thicker yarn and 1/2 inch per stitch for DK weight and thinner; plus another 6 inches for luck! 
    Double Estonian Cast On Tutorial

  2. Instead of making a slip knot, fold the yarn again to the same length that you've measured. You should have 3 lengths folded instead of 2 for a long tailed cast on. Leave a bit extra at the tail end for sewing in the end.
  3. Double Estonian Cast On Tutorial
  4. Make a slip knot about 6 inches in from the tail, using two strands. This will leave two loops on your needle.
    Double Estonian Cast On Tutorial
  5. It should look something like this before you put it on the needle.
    Double Estonian Cast On Tutorial
  6. And look like this when it's on the needle.
    Double Estonian Cast On Tutorial

    And real life photo to show you what it should look like.

    Double Estonian Cast On Tutorial

  7. The double stranded part should be at the front of the needle and goes around your thumb and the strand attached to the ball goes around your forefinger.

  8. The double stranded slip knot counts as 1 stitch only

    Double Estonian Cast On Tutorial
  9. I'll repeat the original tutorial now. Though it will be slightly different because to make the wraps sit at the base of 2 x 2 columns, the first stitch needs to be done with the yarn wrapped clockwise first. The original tutorial was based on a 1 x 1 where it doesn't matter which way you go first ( so apologies for the photos having an extra stitch on them ).
    1. Place your hand into the sling shot position (like a long tailed cast on) but wrap the thumb yarn clockwise around your thumb.

    2. Insert your needle into the loop on your thumb from top to bottom

    3. Reach across over the top of the strand on your forefinger.

    4. Scoop this loop back through the loop on the thumb.

    5. Drop loop from the thumb and tighten stitch onto needle (again, not too tight). There should be a bar across the base of the cast on and the stitch just made.

    6. Place your fingers between the strands and tilt your hand back into a catapult position. This creates a cross on the thumb strand (the yarn goes anti-clockwise around your thumb).

    7. Insert your needle into the loop around your thumb from below.

    8. Reach across over the top of the strand on your forefinger.

    9. Scoop this loop back through the loop on the thumb.

    10. Drop the thumb strand and tighten the stitch onto the needle (not too tight though). You may recognise the previous steps, as it's the same as a regular long-tailed cast on.

    11. Repeat steps 1-10 until you have your required number of stitches. Remember, the two loops for the slip knot count as 1 stitch.

      For a sock, make sure you have the wraps on the right side of the work. This means that if you normally join in the round by swapping the first and last stitches, then the work will be facing the wrong way.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Little Ducks

I showed you a work in progress photo of my Little Duck Socks recently. Blogged here

Little Duck Socks in progress

They are now finished with plenty of time for Christmas.

Little Duck Socks

The duck stitch pattern is from Mary Jane Mucklestone's 150 Scandinavian Knitting Designs. I did her workshop a few months ago. This is the first of lots of project ideas from the book.

Close up of Little Ducks

The rest of the sock is my design. I reversed the ducks for each sock (just for added cuteness!).

Mainly the socks were worked on 2.5mm needles - my new Nova Cubics DPNs, which I really enjoying working with. The stranded sections were done on a 3.00mm, so they didn't pinch in at that point. The change in gauge is obvious to me, especially on the toe but it does make them fit better ( I suppose I could have increased stitches instead - maybe next time).

I used a Double Estonian Cast On for the ribbing. I've been using the single Estonian Cast On for most ribbing at the moment, it makes a firm but stretchy cast on - plus it's quite decorative. I made a photo tutorial for the single Estonian Cast On here. I have plans to add an extra tutorial to this for the Double Estonian Cast On.

The other project swiftly on then off the needles again was Tricsi by Asa Tricosa. I used Debbie Bliss Blue Faced Leicester DK in gold. The pattern is very unusual. It's a top down cardigan. There isn't a seam at all on it, which is good. This does make it a complicated pattern though. However, it is a very detailed pattern with photos to guide you through the unusual construction. I didn't have any problems with it. The only slowing down point was Step 8, which explains all the increases up to where you separate for the sleeves. The instructions are all there but it's explained about 3 different ways including a chart. This is good and bad. The information is all there but you really do need to read through all of step 8 (as suggested) before you continue. 

Tricsi cardigan

I loved not having to pick up the neckband, it's all worked in as you go. There is a little bit of picking up but hardly any that go into double figures, so easy to work in.

I loved the fluted ribbing (it's not a standard rib but very pretty) on the back and on the sleeves.

Reverse of Tricsi cardigan

Sleeve detail on Tricsi cardigan

The cardigan is for a friend who is expecting in January but we've no idea what gender the baby is so I'm hoping this would suit either.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013


Just tying up a few loose ends here. These are few projects from the last couple of months that I haven't talked about much.

Remember this big Pile O' Knits, I'll show you a few that were in that pile.

The first is made from Paulina Popiolek's Orion Belt pattern, made from Katia Kiss. I really enjoyed this one. Even though it looks complicated, the majority is TV knitting, i.e. mainly knit and purl so I can watch TV at the same time. The Katia Kiss has a luster to it, so quite an interesting shawl in the end. I love the little celtic knots. Kiss Orion project page.

Secondly, a Bandana Cowl - Purl Soho, made from just 1 ball of Rowan Cocoon. I loved the Cocoon, it's very soft and squidgy. Cocoon Bandana project page.

Finally, the sweetest little Grampa cardigan. The pattern is Gramps by tincanknits, made from Rowan Felted Tweed Aran. I love the little details of the pockets and the elbow patches. The blurb for the pattern is brilliant - 
"And YES, despite reasonable common-sense notions, babies DO require pockets to store their tiny little pipes, and patches to prevent them from wearing holes through the elbows of their cardigans after years of use!"  Gramps by tincanknits.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Little Christmas Jumpers

The reindeer jumpers are finished. You may remember, I blogged about them. Well, now I have two very cute jumpers. The phrase that keeps coming to mind for the little one is "mini me". 

Both have little pompom noses, but it's the reverse of the jumpers which is the best!

That's two little people with their wardrobe ready for Christmas.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Yarndale Mug

After making this mug for when I'm at ceramics and enjoying it so much; I thought I'd make another for when I'm at A Good Yarn. We all had a lovely trip to Yarndale, so I've used the wonderful sheep logo as my inspiration.

There's a sheep on both sides. The biggest challenge was to try and match the colours because they are different before they are fired, compared to the finished result. Not exact but I'm very happy with it.

Of course, I have how I like my coffee on the mug. Here it is, just in case you want to make me a coffee!

A little "funny" that I made this week, my version of a heavily sealed envelope.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Ducks, Socks & Reindeers



And one very cute reindeer!

Perhaps, I should say a little more than that. The ducks are from Mary Jane Mucklestone's 150 Scandinavian Knitting Designs and I'm designing a sock around it. I did Mary Jane's workshop recently and was inspired to try some patterns out.There will be some gansey-like texture in there and at least two rows of ducks. It's been frogged a bit because I keep changing my mind. There's a good chance when you see it next time, they'll look different again.

The socks are made with Regia Design Line by Erika Knight and made for giant feet.  They're plain vanilla socks that I carry around with me, so they don't get as much knitting time in one go. One Christmas present many more to go.

And the reindeer is the start of a King Cole Christmas jumper. When he's finished, he'll have a lovely red pompom for his nose. I need to make two though. The one in the picture is for big brother but I need to make a smaller one for his new sister. 

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

A shocking amount!

The lovely Nicsknots is doing a great competition called "How much do you have in your project bag?". I thought it was a fab idea for a blog post. Embarrassingly, I think my answer is "A shocking amount!". I don't think I've ever gotten everything out at once and I was stunned on just how much I had.

Recently, I've been using a small Cath Kidston Tote that was a Christmas present. I like it because it has a firm base and sits where it's put. This is the bag I grab when I'm going out, whether it be to Knit and Natter, visiting family, road trip etc.

Cath Kidston project bag

Can you believe all this was in that small bag?

  • There's my Nicsknots Miya bag (which contains a secret project, so I won't show you) and my Nicsknots notions case, which I blogged about here.
  • Micro scales for weighing yarn.
  • Some embroidery threads and snips.
  • A teaspoon! No idea why.
  • Bag of yarn ends. I save these for a friend who knots them together and makes bags from them.
  • Two needle cases. One is all my Knit Pro circulars and the other is a full set of Chiagoo needles.
  • There's my iPad mini, which has all my knitting patterns on it.

  • My next two projects, just in case. Is it just me that lives in fear of finishing my current project and having no knitting with me?
One is a pair of socks for a Christmas present with the pattern for little ducks from Mary Jane Mucklestone's 150 Scandinavian Knitting Designs. I might add a bit of texture too. With a set of Nova Cubics DPNs to try out.

  • The other is handspun yarn and some Easyknits (that I got from A Good Yarn's yarn swap and I believe it was Nicsknots that brought it) for a pair of Narwhal mittens by Ysolda

Also the contents of the notions case was a shocking amout!

  • Calculator
  • Quilter's Guild tape measure
  • Needle case
  • Scissors
  • Plasters. Just so nothing stops me from knitting!
  • Assorted crochet hooks
  • Spare DPN
  • Grid ruler (for swatches)
  • Purple uniball pen
  • Handmade wooden celtic pen (made by Mr)
  • Cotton Thread
  • Waste Yarn
  • Cable needle
  • Handmade passementerie buttons that I made ages ago and for some reason been carrying around with me
  • Knit pro cable key
  • Fripperies and Bibelots stitch markers from Fibre East
  • Needle puller from Cotton Patch
See what I mean, a shocking amount!

Friday, 25 October 2013

Scandinavian Knitting

Last week, I ventured off to Baa Ram Ewe in Harrogate for a Scandinavian Knitting workshop with Mary Jane Mucklestone. After a scrummy lunch at Wagamama. I wandered down to the shop. I've been to the one at Leeds plenty of times but not yet had a chance to go to the Harrogate shop.

The shop was gorgeous. It was very light and a riot of colour. Details for the shops here. The workshop was held downstairs in the basement and it really was fantastic. Mary Jane was lovely and very knowledgeable. She'd brought all the samples from the book, 150 Scandinavian Knitting Designs and it was really interesting to see and feel what they were like.

150 Scandinavian Knitting Designs by Mary Jane Mucklestone

The main parts of the workshop were learning No Purl Garter Stitch in the round and Norwegian Purl. I normally work stranded knitting with a yarn in each hand, but under Mary Jane's guidance had a go at trying both yarns in my left hand. I think it'll take some practice to get it right but it is always good to have another way of knitting in your skill set. There was lots of other information about the history, steeks, weaving etc. If you ever get a chance to do one of her workshops, I definitely recommend it - she knows her stuff!

I even got my book signed and a complementary badge!

Mary Jane Mucklestone badge

I have plans to make a Scandinavian inspired hot water bottle cover using several of the designs from Mary Jane's book.

This is the before picture...