Sunday, 23 October 2011

Latest FOs: Cushion Cover and Kindle Cosy

This cushion cover is one of the first crochet projects I started, but it languished unfinished for months after my local yarn shop stopped carrying the yarn I was using. (Note to self: don't start projects that you don't have enough yarn to finish! *wristslap*) Fortunately I managed to find the yarn elsewhere, and get this thing off my conscience. It still doesn't have any fastenings though, because really, who has the patience to fully finish things, when there is a new knitting or crochet project calling?

Not photographed in context, because my living room furniture is far too ugly.

I also made a protective cosy for my favourite toy - my Kindle. The outside is flat cotton, and the inside is polyester microfleece. In hindsight I wish I'd used batting sandwiched between two layers of flat cotton, because the microfleece produces fairly bulky seams. However, it looks nice and it does the job, so I'm not feeling very nitpicky about it. The button is covered with one of my quilter's cotton prints. I made it ages ago, and it was just sitting in a draw waiting for the right project to come along.

I love this fabric!

My well protected Kindle

I have a huge list of things I want to make, but it's all being pushed aside to make way for Christmas knitting. All these gorgeous socks coming off my needles, and I don't get to keep a single pair!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Flea Market Finds

Today's flea market find comes from a little second-hand shop in town, which is always full of interesting furniture and knick knacks. I stopped in yesterday for a browse, and found these little lovelies:

I'm not even sure what they are (coasters?), but I knew right away that they'd look wonderful on the wall of our newly painted dining room. And they do. If they are coasters, they're far too pretty to put a dripping mug of tea on.

According to the shop owner, there was also a yellow one but it got sold. :( I'm disappointed to miss out on the whole set, but who knows - maybe I'll find the yellow one in a charity shop someday.

You can see lots more flea market finds here!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Latest FO: Booties and Cardigan

I've mentioned before that a lot of my friends/relatives appear to be having babies at the moment. The result of this is that I've discovered the joy of making baby clothes. I think I may be addicted. If you like making garments but have a short attention span and a limited budget, then baby clothes are your friends.

This package has been safely delivered to my friend Sarah, who had a gorgeous little girl a few days ago:

The booties are made with sock yarn, using this pattern.

The cardigan is the lace version of this pattern, and I used superwash DK. It was my first time doing picot edging, and now I want to put picots on everything.

Speaking of warm clothing, there's a definite chill in the air now that summer's drawing to a close. Clearly, I'm going to have to knit (or crochet) a jumper for Dice - a daunting task, since there is SO MUCH of him. But I can't have him feeling left out when Freya and I are prancing around in our matching red jumpers.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Foster Boy

I brought my new foster boy home on Monday - an enormous 9-year-old greyhound. His name is Dice and he's a model of politeness and good behaviour. He doesn't go anywhere in the house or get on any furniture without being given permission first. If he were a person, he'd hold doors open for you and take his shoes off before coming inside.

9 is not especially elderly for a greyhound, but Dice has had a hard life, and seems much older. He has Irish racing tattoos, but I couldn't find any details of his races. He may have been bred for racing, and failed to make the grade. I think he must have been hit by a car (or something) at some point. Half of his tail is missing, his hips are all misaligned with bones sticking out where they shouldn't, and he's a bit unsteady on his legs. He's also quite alarmingly skinny, but we're fixing that.

The first couple of days were - forgive the pun - a bit dicey. Freya wasn't impressed with the enormous interloper, and growled and barked if he so much as moved in his sleep. On Tuesday there was an awful (but unrelated, I think) incident when Freya got carried away running in the fields, and went missing. After 45 minutes of frantic searching, calling and sobbing, I came home to grab my bike, and found her waiting on the front lawn. I think she must have run after a rabbit, and lost us. Clever girl, working out that if she navigated her way home, she would find me eventually.

Anyway. A week later, Freya is being much more tolerant, and Dice has really come out of his shell. He's gone from spending 99% of the time lying on his bed, to following me around the house, coming to me for cuddles and even playing with his toy a bit. I hope we can find him a nice home.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Flea Market Finds

My first ever Flea Market Finds contribution comes from a delightful shopping trip with my good friend Gemma. We'd both been feeling a bit stressed out with work, and thought that a day browsing the charity shops of Shrewsbury - and drinking large quantities of tea - would be the perfect tonic. It certainly did the trick for me!

Lots of people seem to be having babies at the moment (is there something in the air?), and I thought the little cardigan would be a nice gift for a new baby. Being a vintage pattern, it is of course all done the proper (read: difficult) way. No circular knitting or short-cuts to be found here! I also got some cute purple beads, and a Dixie Chicks single (which was actually a gift from Gemma, thank you hun!)

I did rather well on the clothing front, too:

I was really taken with this lovely lace-edged waistcoat, which I picked up for £3.50. It wasn't until I got home that I noticed it still had the original tags on, including a £26 price tag!

I liked the colours and shape of this shirt/dress.

This jumper is possibly my favourite find of the day. I love everything about it: the colour; the gorgeously soft fabric; the asymmetrical neck; the covered button; the flared sleeves... literally everything. It is as if I imagined my ideal jumper and it materialised in front of me with a £3.50 price tag. This is what charity shopping is all about!

Finally, I picked up a few non flea market bargains:

Cheap and cheerful acrylic yarn to finish a crochet cushion cover I've been working on; beautiful half-price sock yarn (including Kaffe Fassett Regia!); three pretty Paperchase postcards; some basic black leggings and a basic yellow tank top.

It was a really lovely day, and exactly what I needed to de-stress. You can find more flea market finds here.

Tomorrow is kind of a big day for me. I've volunteered myself as a fosterer for the local greyhound rescue branch, and tomorrow Freya (my greyhound/whippet cross) and I are going to meet potential foster dogs. It's something I've wanted to do for a few years, and now the time seems right. I keep looking at the dogs on the website and wondering which one will be coming to live with me - it's very exciting and a little daunting! I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Latest FO: Sock Commission

Last Christmas my Mum asked for a pair of hand knit socks, and I was only too happy to oblige. That particular pair of socks was my first attempt at a short row heel and toe, and the result was... well... let's just say that short rows and socks are not a good combination for me. Fortunately, the gorgeousness of the yarn was enough to divert the eye from the too-visible short row wraps.

Mum, bless her, was nevertheless delighted with them, and wore them all winter long. During some kind of social gathering, her best friend noticed them, and asked where she'd bought them. Finding out that I'd made them, she said something along the lines of: "ooh, if I bought the yarn, would she knit some for me? And I'd also like a pair for [daughter], and a pair for [friend]..."

I'm not sure she quite understood the amount of work she was asking me to undertake, but I'm all for spreading the sock love. So of course I said yes. And then, obviously, I had to go to the yarn shop and buy beautiful sock yarn with somebody else's money - such a tedious chore! *cough*

This week, I finally finished the last pair of socks. And because I'm incredibly anal, I also blocked and made packaging for them. This is the end result:

I hope she loves them. They are definitely prettier than the short-row attempt I made for Mum. (I plan to make her some new ones this Christmas.)

So, what am I planning to knit now that I've completed four pairs of socks in quick succession? (I made a pair for my sister too.) Why, more socks of course! I definitely need to make another pair of Monkeys, because I only got to wear my first pair once. They were beautiful, and they got wrecked in their very first wash. Sodding Adrafil - superwash wool is not supposed to felt at 40 degrees!

I also want to make some Jaywalkers, because I believe they are the perfect pattern for the ball of King Cole Zig-Zag I currently have in my stash. I get horrible pooling with that yarn when I do a regular stockinette sock, unless I deliberately make it too big. I'm hoping the extra stitches involved in the chevron design will compensate for that.

Incidentally, my 2.5mm DPNs are the only needles that don't ever get put away, because there is always a sock on them...

Monday, 1 August 2011

July Finds

July was an unintentionally spendy month - I feel like I singlehandedly propped up the British economy for a while there. Fortunately, most of it came from charity shops and sales, so my bank account isn't weeping TOO loudly about it. Still, I must be more restrained in August!

This came from one of my favourite charity shops in town:

I paid £2.99 for the fabric, and there must be nearly three metres of it - more than enough to make a summer dress! I'm not sure what it's made from, but it has a nice drape and a bit of a sheen to it - rayon perhaps? The black buttons are for a baby cardigan that I will post about another time, and I just thought the purple spherical buttons were fun. They'll be cute on chunky knit mittens or a neckwarmer or something.

A few days later, my friend Gemma and I decided to pop into a new charity shop that recently opened, and I found this:

It was £8, which seemed a bit steep for a charity shop dress, but I loved it so much that I couldn't bear to leave it there. Besides, when I went to pay for it, the shop assistant knocked it down to £6, leaving me with a nice clear conscience! It's a very flattering dress, and really, you cannot have too many polka dot items.

Then I happened to be in Shrewsbury with my parents while the Next sale was on, and Mum wanted to go in and see what was left. I swear I had no intention of buying anything, but then my eyes locked onto these beauties:

HALF PRICE YELLOW WEDGES OMG. Mum said I should get them, and my arm didn't need much twisting. They look great with the polka dot dress, so it was obviously meant to be, right? RIGHT.

I also bought quite a lot of yarn. Our local yarn shop has been sorely lacking in bright acrylic lately, and I'll be darned if I'm going to make a chair cover from £5-per-ball merino. Gemma and I had a tip from one of the Stitch and Bitch ladies, and ended up driving out to a superstore in pursuit of cheap and cheerful yarn. This is what we found:

Not only are the colours fabulous, it's also one of the nicest feeling acrylic yarns I've ever found. My chair cover is going to be AWESOME.

Finally, my MIL came over from the States to visit, and we spent a few days in York. After we'd visited all the museums, I managed to persuade partner and MIL to let me run off to the yarn shops for a while. Seeing how excited I got at the prospect of yarn, my MIL gave me £20 to spend on yarn as an early Christmas present. A yarngasm ensued!

*Drool* Sock yarn is like crack cocaine to me.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with this yet, I just loved the colours. Maybe a cowl?

I'm selling a bunch of clothes on eBay to try and make up for all this profligacy, and fund my sock yarn habit. I have high hopes for my old purple Doc Martens.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Indian Textiles

When I was studying for my degree, one of my favourite modules was Cultural Perspectives in Textiles. For the first time since GCSE art, we were told to forget about concepts and justification of our ideas. Instead we were to toss away our art theory books and celebrate colour, pattern and texture. The more decorative, the better.

I looked forward to my Cultural Perspectives lectures every week, because I was free to do what I always enjoyed the most - make something just because it looked pretty. Here are some of my pieces from the module.

Kantha Sample

I made this piece using traditional Indian Kantha stitching. Kantha is based entirely on running stitch, and was orignally used to layer old saris together to create blankets. This piece uses border designs, beading and cutting-away.

Shisha Sample

Shisha is mirror work - using embroidery thread, you make a decorative surround to hold the mirror firmly in place. The best Shisha work holds the mirror so firmly that it's impossible to remove without cutting the fabric or thread. It is notoriously tricky! My first few attempts were disasterous, but when it finally clicked I was quite addicted.

Tree of Life

This is a traditional Indian motif. The piece is acrylic on canvas and incorporates block printing with acrylic paint, beads and sequins.


This piece was inspired by Hindu wedding ceremonies. I'm not normally a fan of weddings, but Hindu weddings are so vibrant and colourful that you can't help being swept up in them. During the module I found myself buying Asian wedding magazines just for the gorgeous images! The title "Vivaah" was hurriedly slapped on it when it went into an exhibition in 2009 - it means "marriage" in Hindi.

There are more samples like this scattered around the walls of my sewing room - I do enjoy having a bit of colour to inspire me while I'm working.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Latest FO - Comfort Slippers

My local yarn shop has a bargain section where they sell odd or discontinued balls of yarn very cheaply. My knitting/crocheting friends and I love it, because you can get amazing yarn for very little money; the downside is that there are usually only one or two balls, so you have to pick your projects carefully.

One visit, I found a gorgeous ball of variegated sock yarn for £1. It was only 50g, not enough to make a pair of socks, so I hung onto it for months wondering what to do with it.

Then one day I was browsing through Ravelry, and found the comfort slippers pattern. I immediately knew what my little odd ball of sock yarn was destined to be!

I'm really pleased with how they turned out - they'll be perfect for summer evenings, when I want my feet to be cosy but don't want to spoil my summery look with huge furry boots.

After a little bit of wear they became slightly loose, so I threaded clear sock elastic through the cuff and around the garter edge. This makes ALL the difference! The fit is nice and snug now, and they stay in place beautifully.

I would definitely recommend the pattern, especially as all the proceeds go to the Japanese Red Cross. I'm sure I'll be making lots more of these. They would be nice/fast gifts, and a great way of using up those sock yarn remnants!

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Quest for the Perfect Sock

I think starting a new blog broke my computer. Fortunately my significant other is a computer nerd, and managed to fix my desperately sick laptop in just a couple of days. If you're not lucky enough to have a computer nerd as your significant other, I highly recommend becoming very good friends with one.

This is what I'm working on at the moment:

The yarn is Hot Socks Circus, and it smells as delicious as it looks. (Yes, I like the smell of sheep. Don't judge me.)

If you already know me, you won't be at all surprised that I'm knitting a pair of socks. I almost always have at least one pair of socks on the go. I knit my first pair last August (during the World Cup), and have now made approximately 14 pairs - I say approximately, because I lost count after 11 or 12.

Knitting the perfect pair of socks has become an obsession of mine. I am determined that one day I will knit a sock that is SO neat, comfortable and well-fitting, that I will look at it and not be able to see anything that needs improvement. That will be the blueprint for every future sock that I knit. I'm still a long way from that point, but I'm sure having a lot of fun getting there.

Every time I knit a pair of socks, I do something a little differently. Try a new cast-on, turn the heel a bit differently, do a different toe. The current pair is a return to cuff-down after several months of trying to perfect toe-up with short-row heel and toe. I really wanted the short-rows to work because they mimick commercially made socks, but mine never look neat enough or match on both sides. Going back to cuff-down feels like coming home.

Here is my current sock formula:

  • 56 stitches, twisted German cast-on over a 3mm needle
  • 2.5mm needles for the rest of the sock
  • 1 x 1 twisted rib cuff, 2 inches deep (To make twisted rib, knit into the BACK of every knit stitch. It twists the stitch around, tightening it up and creating lovely neat, deep ribs.)
  • Stockinette stitch for leg and foot
  • 7 inch leg
  • Reinforced heel flap of 28 stitches (on WS row, slip every other purl stitch)
  • Pick up extra stitches in corners, knit through back loop to tighten up and minimise holes
  • Toe from Kim Goddard's beginner sock pattern
My next mission is to find a good way of disguising the "jog" at the cast-on join. It always looks fairly obvious with the Twisted German cast-on, no matter how clever I try to be about darning the end in.

Only 3.5 more pairs to make for other people, then I can make some for me again!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Birth of a blog

This afternoon I had a very interesting conversation with my lovely friend Gemma (over tea and a scone) about creative blogging. While I have a blog for my business, it never really seemed like the right place to share my knitting, crochet and other crafting endeavours. I realised I wanted a little creative nook. Somewhere to go when I make something awesome and want to do a happy dance, or when a project goes horribly wrong and I feel the need to have a very public tantrum.

And so this blog was born. It's like a brand new sketchbook - shiny and blank and kind of intimidating. I think it will primarily be a craft/project blog, but I'm sure a few other things will slip in too. Dog training. Tea enthusing. Maybe even CSI fangirl moments.

The dog silhouette on the right is my greyhound/whippet cross, Freya. Freya and porcelain are fairly incompatible, hence the blog name. Freya is the recipient of many of my knitting and crochet projects. She doesn't seem to mind.

Please be gentle with the noob!