Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Wave crest pattern Cardie

This is not finished yet, and therefore my first blog on a work in progress, or WIP.

I was going to only blog about completed projects but could not resist it - I am really happy with the pattern (from a German knitting magazine called 'Verena', the Winter 2009 edition, model 10), the wave pattern is lovely! I am managing to get a fairly smooth fabric too, I must be putting the right amount of tension on the thread when I carry it at the back.

I must say though that I am heavily adapting the cardigan. I am using six colours: three greys and two pinks with aubergine as the third colour. The magazine uses four, one of them a very bright turquoise. I do like this colour combination but I was looking for a pattern to use for my six colours, the yarn came first!  I am really pleased with this:

My adaptation involves four plain knitted rows between each of the three colour work patterns rows instead of two as per the pattern. Much easier to knit (and quicker) and it makes the finished article look less busy, not as fussy! I prefer that.

I started following the pattern instruction, casting on the back piece. Then I started changing things by using a hollow hem as for the black Fern tank top - it is very useful if you might need an elastic and you can use one even if you don't strictly need it, just to weigh the hem down. I like how these hems look: the purl row at the hem is very nice and neat. I love the simpleness of it. And it doesn't curl up as much as plain stocking stitch does (the hem still stubbornly turns up though, I need to block this soon, it's driving me crazy. I already hang it up by the hem and hope that the increasing weight will straighten this out but that hasn't happened just yet).

Then I started the colour work. The first row, a right side knitted row, was absolutely fine: three stitches in mid grey, three stitches in aubergine. Easy. Then I turned the work to do the purl row: one grey, one aubergine, two grey, two aubergine and so on... Oh-oh! Hang on, where was I? I only got terribly mixed up about what, when, where... You just can't see what you are doing on a wrong side, those threads you carry at the back tend to block the view!
I didn't even finish the row because I got seriously fed up and decided that I'd lose the will to live before I ever finished the project. So I knitted back, cast on one of the front pieces on the same circular needle (a very loud cheer for circ needles!), knitted that to the same point in the pattern (I had to re-feed it to the correct place on the needle in the process), cast on the second front piece (managing to get the placement right, wahey!), knitted that up to the same row and then with all three pieces (in the correct orientation) still on the circular needle, I just carried on knitting round as if it was all one piece - going round and round.  So much easier, what a huge relief!

What I also did once I finished the hemming part of each front, was to cast on six stitches each (twelve stitches at centre front). I want to use the steek technique to make this cardigan: I will use a sewing machine to put a double seam each down the middle and then cut through the fabric between those stitch lines. Scary stuff! Each of the six stitches will then turn into an inner facing.
That's the plan anyway, wish me luck.

I'm looking forward to finding out how I'll do, I've never used steeks before.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Fringed bead bracelet

One of my craft likes is bead weaving. This bracelet is actually black 'in real life', but I couldn't take a photo that showed enough details without flash - so this photo makes it look rather silver, which unfortunately it is not. Black beads are nice too, and the colour is suited to the fringe effect of the bead strings:

This is a woven bracelet out of six seed beads across - then the second and fifth row only have the fringe strings added to them.  The technique for weaving the basic band may be called Ndebele, I am not too sure about that: it involves going through two beads in the previous row, then picking up two new beads and going through the next two beads of the previous row - the thread goes along in a snake like wave and not a spiral. This means that the most recent row will have little gaps before and after every two beads. These get closed in each subsequent row, and the top row is sewn shut by putting the thread through once more, but transposed by one bead.
Each bead pair leans a little towards each other, this can be even used to good effect. It doesn't make any difference here because the fringes hide the basic band.

I have the pattern and idea from a bracelet on the Internet, I am sorry to say that I can't find it again so I can't credit the designer. If you have more info let me know and I will add it. The designer called this her 'caterpillar' bracelet and the same site also had a Ndebele bracelet with half circles in two colours, very pretty too!  I made that two tone bracelet as well and will blog about it soon.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Hexagon Fern tank top in black

This is the first top I made using just the stitch pattern: Hexagonal Fern from Barbara G. Walker's book: "Charted Knitting Designs", otherwise also known as her Third Treasury of Knitting Patterns. I must look up what the exact title is!

Growing up in a country where most knitting instructions come with a handy chart, those charts have a cosy and familiar feel to them. I like knitting charts because you can see how the pattern stacks up vertically and it makes it much easier to "read" your actual piece of knitting - either to establish where you are in the pattern, or where you went wrong!  I have not following instructions that are written out line by line very much. I tend to get lost and do the wrong bits, or the right ones too often! It usually works out as a heck of a mess before I 'understand' the pattern and can try to knit it from memory.

I saw this stitch pattern and really liked its structure, and how it looks as well of course! I decided to make something like a tank top in this but I didn't have an actual tank top pattern to follow. Being on holiday also meant that I didn't have access to proper pattern making paper so I used Mum's greaseproof. Rather interestingly I found that you can't stick greaseproof paper together with sellotape: the tape just literally slides off! I also tried to Prit Stick with slightly more initial success but this glue was not doing a much better job either. I didn't have any paper adhesive like Uhu around either so  I ended up basting the two strips of greaseproof together with big cross stitches, and that definitely holds it!

I took my measurements and drew them up for the back piece, drawing in arm holes and neckline free-handedly. It worked well enough. I knitted the front to the same measurements, except for neckline. And the finished article fits pretty darn good, even if I say so myself! I'm actually pretty chuffed with this.  Best thing: I'll be able to use the same paper pattern (sewn together as it is) again for another project, wahey! I think that I might want to design patterns (really basic ones of course) in future?! We'll see...

Oval quilted container

This is my first bigger quilting project: an open container to chuck all those pesky clothes hangers into that you do need but don’t know what to do with when not used. It annoyed me no end to have them about the place: they always get tangled up and make the place look untidy.

So something big enough to keep them in, and best of all: keep them out of sight!, that would be a very nice item to have. In contrast to an old travel bag that I used for the same purpose on occasion, a purpose built container could even look pretty!
So I got stuck in on the project, making it up as I went along! Best way, really. (And lots of fun!)

I found a block pattern that is also known as ‘Broken Branch’ but I don’t like that name at all. I’m sure I found a variation of this named something like ‘Tree of Life’ but I just can’t find the web site for reference. Typical.
I made four largish panels using these blocks and sewed two of them together for the front and back respectively. I really liked using plain fabrics to bring out the beautiful colour combination in the one patterned fabric I used. I wanted to use more than one pattern but couldn’t find one in my stash that wouldn’t have distracted from this one.

Two panels each side with two of the main blocks.

Here are some detail views:

I made chevron pieces for the narrower sides, and then couldn’t help myself: I had to make a border to attach to the bottom all round, and also another one for the inside. The inside border was inspired by borders called ‘Seminole’ on the Quilter Community website -

It wasn’t until it was time to sew it all together that it finally dawned on me that I made this container much bigger than planned. There isn’t just space for two stacks of clothes hangers side by side, but for a whole baby elephant! That was not quite what I had in mind (don’t things usually come out a lot smaller than expected?) but I like it a lot. I have space to store other things too! Woo-hoo.

Here it is in all its glory, with ends folded inwards:

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Skittish A-Line Skirt in silver grey

This was supposed to be the bell shaped skirt (free pattern published on but the bottom flare seems to have dropped out due to the heaviness of the yarn. The hemline is still quite flared, much more than I would like. The skirt does look a bit like it's skitting about!

The yarn is the silver grey colourway in Gedifra Samina. I like this yarn because it looks lovely and glossy but I must say that I much prefer it in black. The reason being that the yarn is 75% wool (the inner core of the thread) and 25% nylon (that's the much thinner thread encasing the inner core, sort of knitted around it!) and if the nylon thread breaks or moves about then the much darker wool thread inside pokes out. Unfortunately those little bulges are quite noticeable and I should think that this is only going to get worse with wear. I have poked the bulges back into the stitches and with a bit of pulling and prodding towards the wrong side - but I am not at all sure how long it'll stay this way.
The pattern promises a very comfortable skirt, and they are spot on about that! The skirt is very nice to wear, with one caveat: it can do with a slip underneath because the star stitch pattern does leave some gaps that make the skirt see-through in places.

The star stitch itself was interesting to knit: you knit five stitches together but don't slip them off the needle, you do a yarnover, knit the same five stitches together for a third stitch, do another yarnover and a third time knitting the fives stitches together and then finally slip those fives stitches off the left needle. You make five stitches out of five stitches. The result is a sort of star shape.
It is very difficult to knit off those five stitches three times with normal tension. I found that even if I knitted the five stitches very loosely in the round before, the stitches just weren't long enough to do this star stitch easily. It became a major headache. The best way to overcome this is, in the row preceding the star stitch, to knit either one or even two of the five stitches off with a double loop (wrapping the yarn over the right needle a second time before pulling the thread through the stitch on the left needle, then slipping the stitch off the left needle. The stitch on the right needle has an extra loop over the right needle - if this makes sense!) - then dropping the extra loop when knitting the star stitch row: slipping the five stitches from the left needle to the right and slipping the wrapped loops in the process, then put these five stitches that are now longer than before back on the left needle to knit off the five stitches together for the star stitch. That's the best method to avoid struggling with five stitches that are just too tight to cope with.
In the star increase round that asks for four stitches to be knitted together, making five out of four stitches, - I only added one extra loop, a second one was not necessary.

It was lots of fun to knit this and it only took me two weeks too. It was nice being able to insert the waist elastic before I finished knitting the whole thing - I have huge problems with WIP-finishing and I find that if I do as much weaving in of ends, sewing up bits and inserting elastic as early as I can, then the last bit of weaving in the last loose thread is so much easier due to it being bearable!
I think I am going to knit this skirt again, in a different yarn and colour. I may replace the star stitch stripes with cables, not twisting the same direction but towards each other. I'll just have to smuggle the 'invisible' increases in there somewhere!

Sunday, 17 January 2010

My first quilted block

This is the very first block I ever quilted. The pattern is called Paths and Stiles.

This is still a block because I haven't actually done anything with it yet (that would be way too 'over achieving' now, wouldn't it...). I made two, one for each side of a pot holder. A binding strip and a bit of wadding would do wonders for finishing this...
I'm not all that bad on ideas and inspiration, but the follow-through, oh boy, that's not my forte.
It didn't help that I wanted to start on quilting a big item: an open container to throw stuff into, sort of a storage box: blog post to follow.

Here's some of the steps of my practice piece:

The colour of the centre patch is navy, which is not very clear to see in the photo - it ties in with the blue of the pink and blue patterned fabric.  I am very happy with the colour and pattern combination of this block.  I find that I prefer patchwork with lots of plain uni-coloured fabrics in it, they allow the eye to 'rest' and avoid the quilt looking too busy.

Quilting Bee - shop

Finally! I finally managed to get myself to The Quilting Bee shop in Enfield. Glorious quilting fabrics! They have a really nice range of fabrics, quite a few well-known brands but best of all: there is at least one fabric in each and every colour you could possibly want. Fantastic!
I'll definitely be back, very soon.

Drudging through rain and nasty weather, having gotten lost on on my way to another stop in Enfield, it 'only' took me three buses to get to Links Side - I felt like a drowned rat by the time I stepped through the door! Imagine my delight at being offered a cup of tea! They even have a loo, just in case, so if that's not service I don't know what is! (The return journey was ridiculously quick'n'easy, note to self: next time just go straight there!)

I spent way too much money (as you do) but I came away with fabrics that I would have bought anyway, just not all at once. There was another one in a lovely red that I've got my beady eye on, but that'll have to keep till next time!

I went on Saturday just gone, a quilting group meets in the shop (not sure how often) and the offer of that restorative cuppa plus everyone chatting and knowing that you have all the time in the world to make your choice: it's just sheer bliss! Chris from the shop is lovely. And although it is a little bit of a treck up to Enfield, I am going to be buying quite a lot more from them, I'm sure of it!

Directions: go to Oakwood tube station (Piccadilly line), take bus 307 or 121 from stop C just outside the station (the other side of the road than the station, the bus should go off to your right on Enfield Road). You'll pass a large open green area, then get off at the Links Side stop, which in turn is just outside the shop, literally. The photo above was taken within five metres of the bus stop shelter. TfL says it takes 13 minutes, but I felt it was less long than that.