Sunday, 28 April 2013

Day Seven: The Year Ahead

"One year from now, when the 5th Knitting & Crochet Blog Week rolls around, where do you hope your crafting will have taken you to? What new skills, projects and experiences do you hope you might have conquered or tried?"

On a whole, I've done a good majority of the different knitting styles out there. The one I've been meaning to do for a long time is to try Double Knitting. I've skirted around the technique, such as knitting two socks at a time (one inside the other) which is the same way of knitting but you keep one yarn to the front and one at the back at all times (instead of swapping the colours) and I've done brioche knitting too.

I've got two Zauberballs sat waiting in anticipation and that's something I'd like to do sooner rather than later.

The other technique I would like to try is on the crochet side. I'd like to cover a piece of furniture in crochet motifs. I have a footstool that was my Grandad's that's looking a bit tired, I covered it in fabric awhile ago but it needs re-doing. I thought crochet would lend itself well. For an idea of what I mean, try these searches on Ravelry, stools or chairs. This one in particular was what got me interested in the idea.

I'm not sure whether either of these will happen in the next year, but I do want to try them at some point.

This is the first time I've done Knitting and Crochet Blog Week and it's been a lot of fun. I hope I have time next year to participate.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Day Six: Favourite Tools

"Write about your favourite knitting or crochet (or spinning, etc) tool. It can either be a tool directly involved in your craft (knitting needles or crochet hook) or something that makes your craft more pleasurable – be it a special lamp, or stitch markers."

My favourite tools... I'm not sure whether I have favourites because everything I use has its purpose. If I'm in a hurry and want the bare minimum with me, then I would grab my scissors, my sewing needle case and my favourite crochet hook (as well as my knitting, of course).

Scissors needle case and crochet hook

I've had these awhile, so excuse their condition. The scissors are little Fiskar ones: I have two pairs. One in my knitting bag and one in my sewing bag. The first pair I've had for at least 12 years and they are still as sharp as when I bought them. Attached to the scissors is a hardanger scissor keeper that I made a long time ago at a workshop. Originally, it had a tassel but that's long since disappeared.

Scissors and hardanger scissor keeper

My needle case is made of two little folded fabric squares sewn together. It's a similar block to cathedral window but is contained to one square. The instructions for the square can be found in  Cathedral Window Quilts: The Classic Folded Technique and a Wealth of Variations by Lynne Edwards. The book is fabulous and I've made lots of different things from it, including some lovely little pincushions. Here's a few bits that I've made using Cathedral Window blocks - cushion and a wallhanging.

Cathedral Window needle caseOpen cathedral window needle case

Needle case with pins and needles

There's a needle for all occasions. Several knitting sewing needles, darning needles, tapestry needles, betweens, sewing needles, glass headed pins and knitters' pins.

I'd not really noticed that there was a bit of a purple theme going on.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Day Five: Wolf and Sheep's Clothing Cartoon

"It’s the annual challenge to blog in a way different to how you normally blog. You may choose to create a podcast, or vlog, create a wordless post or write in verse. You've already stretched your wings with an infographic, now it's time to freestyle."

If any of you have received a postcard from me, then you'll recognise the style here. Instead of writing out "Wish you were here", I tend to do a funny cartoon on the back of the postcard. Hopefully entertaining the postman at the same time. So with a little inspiration from Mr, here's a knitting/sheep related one for you.

Wolf and Sheep's Clothing Cartoon 4kcbwday5

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Day Four: Colour Review

"What are your favourite colours for knitted or crocheted projects. Have a think about what colours you seem to favour when yarn shopping and crafting."

"Only after writing this part of your post should you then actually look to see what colours you have used in your projects. Make a quick tally of what colours you have used in your projects over the past year and compare it to the colours you have written about. Compare this, in turn, to the colours that are most dominant in your yarn stash – do they correlate?"

"Now think back to your house animal - do the colours you have chosen relate to your animal in anyway - if you are in the house of peacock, for example, are your projects often multicoloured and bright?"

Colour... I think that's what draws me to knitting and why I like colourwork so much. Whenever, I look at a colour chart I always get drawn to blues and greens and I think this translates into what yarn I buy. I do like my mustard yellow though, especially with blue or green.

I like the lazy way of adding several colours with variegated yarns. I prefer the longer stretches of colour such as Zauberballs rather than the Fair Isle effect yarns. The Fair Isle effect yarns work beautifully for plain knitting but I don't often do much of that. For a long time, I was like a magpie with these sorts of yarns. More recently though, I like using solids or semi solids because they really do show the pattern better.

I wear a lot of navy blue, grey, brown and black but I can add that blast of colour with my knitting. I try to steer clear of really dark colours for knitting because it hides the texture of the pattern. Though it'd be fine for a plain stocking stitch or garter stitch pattern.

One range of colours, I really tend to steer clear of are pastel colours. Don't have a strong reason why, it's just they don't appeal to me as much as vibrant and bright colours. Thinking about it, I perhaps associate them with baby clothes; not that I use them for baby clothes either.

Here's a few recent projects that were made for myself in my favourite colours.


Looking through my completed projects on Ravelry (there's a lot more but I don't always put them on), you can see that I've used a fair amount of variegated yarn (there isn't a html code for variegated (or at least not one that works on infogram, so excuse the dark blue) and then my blues and greens. I didn't think I had used as much red as I seem to have done, though a lot of those projects have been for other people. Not that I don't like red but it rarely seems to be my first choice. The other thing is I'd always say my favourite colour was blue but apparently it's green!! Though Mr's favourite is green - so maybe that's why it's pipped the blue.


Searching through my stash, I've only included full balls and only marked it once even if I have lots of the same yarn.

Blue and green at the top again, not a huge surprise. The variegated has slipped down a lot and most of that is  probably handspun from variegated roving or maybe an odd ball of sock yarn.

I seem to have a fair bit of pink, never thought I was much of a pink girl. None of it's baby pink though, hot and raspberry pink mainly.

The one ball of red is some I hand dyed, so I'm right in thinking I don't often buy it for myself. No black in the stash - black isn't hugely knitting friendly though. Very hard to see your knitting and spot mistakes.

I don't think my colour choices particularly relate to the House of Monkey; except maybe if my monkey was wearing a bright Fair Isle jumper. The blues/greens do relate more to House of Manatee though. Can I change Houses?

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Day Three: Cast On Flow Chart

"There are many ways of conveying information on a blog; text and images being the two most widely used. Many infographics combine both these elements to provide a visual way of presenting text information."

"Make your own infogaphic (no fancy imaging software needed, you can draw it on paper and photograph it if you want) to convey any element of your craft(s). It can be just for fun or a thoroughly researched presentation of an idea/finding. "

Cast on flow chart

This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the cast ons out there. I haven't included many two colour ones or all the different versions of tubular cast ons. I'm sure there are plenty I've missed off but hopefully it's a bit of fun and it might help you discover a new cast on.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Day Two: Chester the Chimp

"Your task today is to either think of or research a project that embodies that house/animal. It could be a knitting or crochet pattern – either of the animal itself or something that makes you think of the qualities of that house.

Alternatively it could be a type or colour of yarn, or a single button. Whatever you choose, decide upon a project and blog about how and why it relates to your house/creature."

So the House of Monkey needs a mascot.
Here's Chester the Chimp.

Chester the Chimp

I thought he should be a teeny tiny chimp. I'd use sock yarn to make him. His arms and legs will be i-Cord increasing at the bottom to create hands and feet. Chester has a stripy vest, which would probably work well made from self-striping sock yarn.

It might be tricky to do the detail on his face and his eyes will probably have to be made from felt.
He does have a bit of character, perhaps he should be called Cheeky Chester.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Day One: The House Cup

The House of Bee: Bees are busy and industrious, but can flit from one interesting project to the next as bright shiny things capture their interest.
The House of Manatee: Manatees are gentle, calm and cuddly. Relaxed and unflashy they represent the comfort and soft side of knitting and crochet.
The House of Monkey: Intelligent and with a fun loving side, Monkeys like to be challenged with every project presenting them with something new and interesting.
The House of Peacock: Peacocks take something good and make it brilliant. Buttons, embellishments and a bit of sparkle prove that perfection lies in the details – like a Peacock's Tail.

Which House am I?

I'm definitely not a Bee. I'm a starter and a finisher and 90% of the time I stick to the project I'm doing until the bitter end. There are a few occasions where I've frogged or had to start another project because it's needed for a present.

Manatee? Oh I would love to be a manatee. I have a penchant for them, since I went on holiday in Florida. Here's a photo I took there. Think I was about 11 at the time.

 I often knit something for warmth but honestly can't say it's me.

A Peacock? On occasion. I like to add those extra finishing touches to make the item extra special.

But, I'm going to have to say I'm a Monkey. My raison d'etre is to challenge myself and continually improve my knowledge. I can sit down and make several of the same item (if there's a reason to) but it doesn't inspire me. There aren't many aspects of knitting I haven't tried at least once. Fun loving side? I do like a knit with a sense of humour. How about my Lego Man with his Christmas Hat, Fu Manchu, G's Kercheif, That Christmas Jumper with the cheeky bit of holly on the bottom and my Fish Hat [Dead or Alive?]

House of Monkey, it is.

Friday, 12 April 2013

My Mug

I have my finished mug from Mug Painting evening. The tea bag stand is being re-fired, so I'll show you that another time.

Before firing

After firing, the colours really change. They look dull and chalky but the glaze becomes vibrant once fired.

I added how I like my coffee on the handle too.

A short blog, this week, but I've been preparing for blog week. So hopefully you'll get 7 days of blogs from me that week. For more information, click here.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Swatch, swatch, swatch....

Oh swatches. Knitters do seem to love to hate them. I love to swatch - I must be weird. 
What I tend to do is, while I'm knitting a current project and I have that moment where I'm either bored or a little frustrated with what I'm doing. I get a ball of yarn for my next project and make a swatch. I get to play with my new yarn and also, make sure that what I'm going to do next is going to fit.

A swatch doesn't take long to make - probably half an hour at most and I'd rather do that than have to reknit the garment. Just cus I'm lovely and a little bit bossy, I'm going to tell you how I make my swatches. Little teeny swatches aren't the most helpful of things, because they'll lie to you. A good hearty sized swatch will pay you back that bit of extra effort.

Let's say the pattern states that the gauge, that it's worked to is 22 stitches by 30 rows in stocking stitch across 4" [10cm] on 4.00 mm needles in a DK weight yarn.

What I'd tend to do is cast on about double the stitches, so something like 44 stitches (it doesn't need to be exact - I'd probably round down to 40).

Knit 3 rows. 
For the main part, every row should start and end with 2 knit stitches, to give a helpful garter stitch border (this makes it lie flat, so much easier to measure it). So my first wrong side row would be, k2, purl to last 2 stitches, k2. 

Here's a brilliant tip that I picked up from Ysolda Teague's Little Red in the City. By using yos, k2tog and p stitches you can mark what size needle you are using. I've found this really useful, for when I've done several swatches on different sizes or if months/years down the line I use the same yarn again, I don't have to do another swatch because all the information is there. So for this example ...

On my next row, I'd knit a few stitches past the border then, (yo, k2tog) four times, knit to the end. If the needle size was 3.75mm, then I would change it to (yo, k2tog) three times, then, (k1, p1) three times. Each yo represents a full mm and each purl bump is 0.25mm. Think this sounds far more complicated than it is to knit.

Knit the swatch in stocking stitch with the garter stitch border until the piece measures around about 6"  (I can be a little lazy sometimes with this and only get to about 4/5"). Knit 3 rows in garter stitch and cast off.

I always treat my swatch as I would the finished garment, which means that generally I'll wash and block the swatch. It is useful to measure your swatch before blocking, so you can check your knitting isn't going off gauge.

Use a ruler (not a tape measure - it'll be more accurate), and count how many rows and stitches you have in a 4" square. It can help to mark with pins, where you start and finish counting. Remember to count 1/4 and 1/2 stitches as this does make a difference to the size of the garment.

Generally, I'll see how far off the swatch is and alter the pattern to fit, but if you're not comfortable with that then reswatch on a different size needle to get gauge. Go up a needle size if you have more stitches in 4" or down a needle size if you have less stitches in 4".

Sometimes, if the pattern is complicated, I'll do another swatch in the stitch pattern too. It does sometimes depend on what information the designer has given you for the swatches. I always think it's a good pattern if they give you a swatch for stocking stitch and for any stitch pattern (if it's different).

Swatching can be fun (really) and take away the frustration of spending months on a project, to find it doesn't fit. 

That's the end of the teacher bit. Here's a sneak peak for a upcoming pattern: