Taking scissors to your knitting

..by which I mean steeking. The other interesting thing about the colourwork baby blanket was the construction. As you will probably know, colourwork knitting is almost always done in the round to avoid purling with two colours. This seems to be so ubiquitous that when I tried to find out about how to purl basically everything said not to try. This would sometimes be enough to provoke me to try but sometimes it is worth listening to people who know and I figured this was probably one of those times.

When designing a blanket like this, you have to add some stitches to make the steek. I added 12 so had a really wide strip which would be folded over once cut and sewed down, making a reinforced edge. It was pretty scary, because you can’t really practise this much. You spend hours and hours on your piece, and then you sit there looking at it with a pair of scissors in your hand. I did have a go at cutting a swatch to prove the principle to myself. Knitting unravels along the rows horizontally, not up the rows vertically, so cutting vertically makes a cut along a line that the stitches don’t really want to unravel along. Use a sticky yarn (like Shetland) and the whole thing holds together.

It worked with the swatch and, snip, snip, it worked with the blanket. Phew! You can imagine the relief once those rows are sewed down. So relieved I forgot to take pictures.

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First foray into colourwork design

When a new baby comes along, I tend to want to knit it something nice. When it’s a new baby in the family, I try to make it really special. Ben’s brother and his wife live in New Zealand and were expecting their baby in December. Summer. It’s usually quite hot there.

So I decided to make the kind of blanket that would be hard wearing for lying on the floor on, or would work as a wall hanging, and I really wanted to design it myself.

Two colours seemed like a good option for a first try, making it a bit more straight forward and avoiding any problematic colour clashing.

New Zealand is quite far away from here but the thing above all that binds us all together is our faith so I wanted to take themes from the Bible and design them into the blanket, creating a piece for the baby that would show them what we believe and hope for.

It was trickier than I expected to get the designs right, and Ben helped me quite a bit as he was better at seeing what would work in little knitted square shapes but here it is:

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And this is what it means:

At each end there are 12 sections for the 12 tribes/disciples. Each is made of 3×3 stitches – a threefold cord is not quickly broken. And the cable comes on row seven – in 7 days God finished his work.

Next I did lots of stars, for the spiritual seed of Abraham. These were repeated across the blanket because they will be many.

Then comes the hearts – Love Yahweh your God with all your heart.

Finally lots of trees (we have two children named after trees) because the man who trusts in God is like a tree planted by streams of water (instead of the briar there will be a myrtle tree).

The whole thing is doubled, because, as with Pharaoh’s dreams God’s word is true.

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A blanket because of Ravelry

There have been quite a few babies in our life over the last little while so there’s been quite a bit of baby blanket knitting.

There were a couple of interesting things about this blanket and the first is that I would never have made it based on the picture for the pattern alone. Here; all pastels and baby vomit. Really not my thing. However, in the projects section where you can see how other people have made it, two really important discoveries. In the right colours this can look really good. And knit in the right (slightly cleverer than the pattern) way this can be a simple and fun knit with no extra border to knit.

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The pattern calls for edging where you pick up the stitches when you’ve finished and knit several very, very long rows. I wanted to use the same colour yarn for the slipped stitches and for the edging so that also made it more difficult to work out when to stop, getting as much blanket for the yarn I had as possible without running out. However, on one of the projects someone described a clever way of essentially binding the main body of the knitting to the border as you knit it alongside, with an separate ball. Apparently this is called Intrasia knitting. It’s a lot simpler than it sounds, you just cross over the yarn you’re using for the body of the blanket with the yarn for the edge whenever you switch between the two (every row). This binds it all together and when you cast off, you are done.

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One of those things that sounds tricky and complicated, and looks like nothing at all.

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Nice yarn to knit with too (from meadowyarn.co.uk – nice online shop, and free tea with your order).

(sorry for the horrid blurry photos. makes your eyes go a bit strange)

Sock yarn rabbit

Very strange thing, knitted toys. We have three, all hand made by Someone Else. They are special. They are loved. They are Horse Donkin, Mouse in a Bag and Mr. Fishamachoo. You definitely can’t buy these in a shop.

And yet I have never wanted to knit a toy. I found myself knitting a rabbit because Myrtle was completely adamant that this was her heart’s desire and she had given me the yarn for my birthday. Two years ago. I did not want to knit this rabbit.

I chose my pattern carefully. I was not going to have patience with a pattern that wasn’t completely clear and straight forward, or one that involved endless sewing up. Susan B. Anderson is a designer you can be confident and everyone who has knit this rabbit seemed to love it. Not me. I just don’t like knitting toys. Which is a problem because Myrtle is really, really happy with her rabbit. It’s called Poppy “because my imaginary friend is called Popper”, which is all you need to know.

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I think it’s the face..

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Pom pom pfffrhpphh

Not all that glamourous or interesting, pom poms. And pretty tedious to make. Which is why some people have invented this kind of thing: pom pom makers.

Thing with this is I am not really into pom poms. I think I’ve made two in the last ten years. They have both been in the last 3 months, but this is not the beginning of an obsession. Now admittedly those pom pom makers are really cheap but they also epitomise why we as a family are doing 100 days without buying anything we don’t need. Like this person here. What we definitely don’t need is more stuff, especially more plastic stuff. Also I have found my own really much quicker way of making pom poms.

Warning: not suitable for perfectionists and people who like order.

I think most people know how you make a pom pom. If not, look here.

I figured as I was making my pom pom, which is for a rabbit which has not been my best friend (more on that another time) that pom pom making is about a lot of wrapping and then a lot of hacking. As long as the middle is tied tightly surely this doesn’t need to be just one thread at a time, right?

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Nah, one thread at a time takes ages. Just bundle up the yarn into about 10 threads at a time and wrap it round.

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“If you’re going to do something do it perfectly” is not something that was ever said to me as a child. And sometimes I think that’s not such a bad thing.

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End of a hiatus

Hello. Here I am again. It’s been a while. Thanks to those people who have kept checking for updates so that I felt like maybe I should write some more.

Although there’s not been much blogging, there’s been lots of knitting and quite a lot of spinning.

There’s been ways of fixing yarn which have been a bit ridiculous (you can just stick it in the steamer if you want to steam it to fix the twist); this is completely unnecessary:

There was this really nice shawl pattern made with the yarn I bought at Wonderwool quite a while ago now.

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And a colourwork hat with a comedy pom pom (sorry, another bad picture).

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There are also extra bobbins on the wall for hanging yarn which seems like a good reason for making more yarn.

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Time to get back to the knitting 🙂

 

Sort of like ice cream

Back in May I had a whole day to myself. I slept a lot, and had an Indian take away and in between I did a lot of spinning. 100g of fibre in a day. It was a beautiful, relaxing, restful day. And I know another mum of young who I reckon could really do with a day like that. So this yarn is for her. I bought it pre-dyed and spinning it made me think of ice cream. The kind of yarn that just needs a squish sometimes and makes you feel a little happier just looking at it.

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Only question now is, what should she make with it?

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(sorry, blurry pictures)

Babies do have big heads

Another blog post, news of another baby – this time a cousin to our neighbours and a little boy. A really cute one. I just didn’t know what I wanted to make for this little guy until I met him and then a design came ready formed in my mind.  A jumper. With plenty of room for his head. His head is entirely normal sized for a baby, but I remember with my kids that a determining factor in whether they wore a jumper was whether the head hole was big enough to enable me to put the jumper on the baby easily. No baby likes a prolonged “jumper stuck on head” moment.

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I was pretty pleased with my solution. A dipping neckline and stand up collar made by knitting the collar flat and joining in the round for the body of the jumper. Then crocheting round to get a nice neat finish. It worked! And a tiny pocket. This is a kid who can wear orange.

The swoosh and the ahh

I go through phases in crafting.  A knitting project takes me and that’s all I’ll work on until it’s done. Lately it’s been spinning. I guess partly that’s because I’m looking forward to holiday season (last day of school today – yay!) where we will be travelling a lot with lots of yarn and no spinning wheel. So now I do have quite a bit of yarn and holidays are looking sweet.

I think one of the reasons a particular project grabs me is the prospect of what I’ll learn through that project; a new knitting technique or something new in spinning. A spinning technique I’ve wanted to master for a while is the long draw. I’d read that it’s pretty addictive, and that’s been my experience too. It’s all about the Swoosh and the Ahh. When it goes right, you move your right hand rapidly away from the spinning wheel with the fibre held fairly gently and swoosh, ahh, a lovely piece of a single appears before you. Goes perfectly with tennis (it would have been great to see Federer win, but Djokovic just managed more swoosh and ahh).

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I’d say my best success so far to date has been 100g of merino (easy spinning) which I hand dyed. This time I tried dying the fibre rather than the yarn and I preferred the result. Less pooling, and you can choose the bits of fibre you spin to create the colour effects you want.

And a friend bought me a stamp so I can make labels..

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Crocuses for a March baby

Seems like there’s lots of baby news around here. I mean, not right here, just to be clear. More like next door. We have the best next door neighbours that there are. So good they let us share their garden. Which is to say we cut down the hedge and share the double garden. It is great. They are great. So they were definitely eligible for a blanket when they announced the arrival of a beautiful baby girl. She was due in March, just as all the crocuses round here are helping us remember what spring looks like and will be coming soon (I know, now it’s July; I’ve been busy..). So Anne Hanson’s Crocus Patch seemed like the right choice.

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I really enjoyed this pattern. Interesting enough to keep me on my toes but also predictable enough to be relaxing; the kind of pattern you can settle into.

Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

What is extra pleasing is that I have spotted the blanket around the place, chilling out on the floor and on the back of the sofa: evidence it Is Used. A knitter’s heart’s desire – not just stuck in a draw somewhere.

Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

Made with Repix (http://repix.it)