Thursday, 28 February 2013

Recycled Wedding Vases

For my wedding all the table centre pieces were little hurricane lamp style vases filled with roses. I gave most of them away after the wedding to the guests but I kept two for myself. They'd been kicking around and not getting used. So I decided to decorate them with glass paints so they could be used for either vases or decorative candle holders. I made these awhile ago and didn't share them.

The glass paint was a little tricky to master. It worked better with smaller areas to paint, as the brush strokes were very obvious. Plus, I didn't have a simple way to draw directly onto the glass. You can draw on paper and put this inside the glass but this didn't appeal. So I did some freehand painting, which was very interesting and quite cathartic.

The first is a meandering vine with little flowers.

The second is meant to be meadow flowers. The blue flowers are my version of little cornflowers and the pink ones are a (very) artistic impression of a daisy.

On a more fibre related note, I won a blog competition last week - the blog was HilltopCloud's The View from the Hill. I had a very exciting thud on the doormat and received the latest copy of the YarnMaker. The magazine contains a pattern created by Katie of HilltopCloud, which is stunning and a brilliant use of tailspun yarn. I've been meaning to try this magazine for awhile and I'm very impressed with the quality of it and all the interesting articles too.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Twisted Decreases

I'm doing Sockdown again, this month. You'd have thought I'd been all socked out by now. I'm doing a pattern from the "Underappreciated" category - so any sock pattern that has less than 15 projects on Ravelry. I'm doing Phaeodaria by Hunter Hammersen, which is absolutely gorgeous and have no idea why it hasn't got more projects - though it's a relatively recent release. Incidently, the pattern was in the Sock Report, which are all patterns using sock weight yarn and there are some really gorgeous patterns in it. I "accidently" (imagine I said this with lots of irony!) bought all the patterns.

It's a twisted cable pattern and there are a couple of stitches that I'd not encountered before. Twisted decreases - described in the pattern by k2tog tbl and ssk tbl. I thought k2tog tbl was pretty self explanatory but was struggling to find a clear description of a ssk tbl. If you slip, slip and knit through the back loops, then in my mind that is what a regular ssk is. I later found out that it was a technical issue, if you're using any of the Sock Report patterns on an iPad, the interactive parts to the instructions don't show up in some apps. They work fine in GoodReader. I didn't realise until researching this blog that there was an interactive description of the techniques for these stitches; so the information is all there.

I tried to do a bit of research myself but information seemed to be a little sparse.

These are the versions of ssk tbl that I found.
  • Slip one purlwise, then next stitch knitwise and knit them together through the back loop;or
  • Slip both stitches knitwise one at a time, then back on the left needle and k2tog.
So I contacted the designer. It's not something I've done before and was exceedingly pleased with the super fast and clear response. I got an email back within half an hour! I was guided towards this video, which sorted me out nicely.

I'm going to describe them as left leaning twisted decrease and right leaning twisted decrease because otherwise I found it all a bit confusing - with people using different terms.

This is what I ended up doing:

Left leaning twisted decrease -  slip one purlwise, slip one knitwise, move both stitches back to the left hand needle and k2tog.
Right leaning twisted decrease - slip one knitwise, slip one purlwise and knit together through the back loops

Here is a close up of where I've used the twisted decreases, as you can see it allows you to use a decrease and move the twisted stitch without cables and still keep the column of twisted stitches going. 

The socks are now finished and already had a trip out. Oh and the other nice thing is the photo was requested to go on the pattern page on Ravelry, which is always lovely.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

FO: Black Mojitos

I finally got around to using my yarn that I picked up at the Big Coffee Morning yarn swap at A Good Yarn. Nicsknots brought this gorgeous Easy Knits skein to swap and I was lucky enough for my ticket to be drawn first.

The pattern is Rubbish Mojitos by Woolly Wormhead. I was very impressed with the pattern for the Mystery KAL this year and thought I'd try another.

I didn't realise the crown had such beautiful swirls on it before I started. So that was a lovely surprise.

The yarn ended up make spirals for the main body of the hat, which I thought was cool. Though being mainly purl stitch it hides it a bit.

For some reason I decided that I was going to knit the hat inside out; so I was mainly using knit stitches instead of purling. Not that I have any particular objection to purling. I think it was more an exercise to see if I could work out how to reverse the knitting.

I read the instructions from the end of the round and worked out what would be worked on the wrong side - swap knit for purl and vice versa.

The cable stitches were a little more complicated to work out. After a bit of playing about on my needles, it turned out that the reverse of the first two cables is the same as the original instructions. The cable decrease, on the other hand, was different. I cable without a cable needle and I just ended up moving the stitches around on my needle for it to work.

If I were using a cable needle then the instruction would be to slip the first knit stitch wyib, place purl stitch on cable needle held to the back, slip knit stitch back to left needle and knit two stitches together, then purl stitch from cable needle.

The moving of the marker is a bit hard to follow in reverse but as long as the single purl column lines up, then it doesn't matter too much if you're a stitch off.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Review: Knit Pro Karbonz knitting needles

I recently purchased some Knit Pro Karbonz DPNs.

For a start off, they are a work of art. I think they look sleek and quite unusual.

My usual DPNs are the Knit Pro Nova metal ones. I prefer the metal ones to wooden because the stitches move quicker, it speeds up my knitting and I enjoy the process more with metal needles.

I've knitted a pair of socks in the Karbonz. The pros are that I can see is they are lightweight, flexible, warm to the touch (a benefit for those with arthritis or other issues with their hands) and the stitches are less likely to drop off the needles (they have a similar surface to wood, which is a bit more clingy than metal). In general, I prefer them to wooden needles. Though lightweight, they have a better balance to them than say the Symfonie wooden range. They have the benefits of wooden needles but with the extra pointyness of metal needles. If you are a knitter that prefers wooden needles then it is seems to be a good middle ground between the metal and wooden ones.

Top needle: Karbonz
Bottom needle: Nova
Shows same size needle.

The only downside is the join between the metal tips and the carbon. Don't get me wrong the yarn doesn't catch at the join, it's a smooth join but I'm aware of the difference with how the stitches move from one to the other. I'm perhaps being a little too picky with this and it doesn't put me off them. Though, (especially with the higher purchase price), I won't be changing all my current Nova needles to the Karbonz.

I'll be quite happy to use the current set I have. I've compared them to other Knit Pro needles, as I thought this was fairest since it focused more on material than make. I have other makes of needles too such as HiyaHiya and Addi, which I've always been happy with too. Knit Pro seem to strike a good balance between quality and value for money.

 A little photo of my current WIP, made using my Karbonz.