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.
I think it’s the face..
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?
Nah, one thread at a time takes ages. Just bundle up the yarn into about 10 threads at a time and wrap it round.
“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.
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.
And a colourwork hat with a comedy pom pom (sorry, another bad picture).
There are also extra bobbins on the wall for hanging yarn which seems like a good reason for making more yarn.
(photo by Mat Foster)
Time to get back to the knitting
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.
Only question now is, what should she make with it?
(sorry, blurry pictures)
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.
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.
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).
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..
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.
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)
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)
You may remember we had a Special Arrival for whom I had great pleasure in making in a baby blanket. Well, earlier this year we had Special Arrival 2. A dilemma: another large baby blanket? They already have one… So this time I went for a smaller cot size blanket.
Yet another Anne Hanson pattern, this one is called Sky Ladder. What was especially pleasing: I had enough of the same yarn left over the Special Arrival 2 has a cot blanket in the same yarn and colourway as his brother. Which is good because he’s an especially nice one.
Still reporting on last year’s knitting. This was a pair of projects for my sister which provided a bit of a learning opportunity for me.
She bought the yarn – always a good beginning, and made a good choice: Rowan felted tweed. It’s a cashmere/alpaca/nylon blend and really nice to knit with. Very soft and cosy. Just right for a scarf/hat combo.
The scarf pattern Peu do Pluie by Anne Hanson, already in my libray was a good choice and worked well. My sister had chosen two co-ordinating colours, so just a little of one with the main body of the scarf with the other.
The hat: Woolly Wormhead’s Elourne, one I’d made before. The complicating factor was that this hat pattern calls for much thicker yarn. But I had the perfect solution: use a strand of each colour to create a thicker yarn and combine the two colours without trying to combine different colours in different parts of the pattern which I suspected wouldn’t work that well. And it did work. It looked nice. But it was itchy. Turns out any fibre that has some courser strands in it has this potential, and I think holding it double and at a fairly tight gauge just makes the fibres pop a bit, giving extra itch.
But it’s ok, she can wear it when it’s really cold…
When I decided I wanted to make a cardigan for Myrtle I knew she would have to be fundamentally involved in all the choices we would make along the way about the finished product. I had a pattern in mind that she was easily persuaded to; the wee wildflower cardigan by Alana Dakos and she was keen I spun the wool for her. After spinning a skein of yarn from a Portland fleece I realised there was no way she would ever wear anything made from that. To be honest I wouldn’t want to wear it next to my skin either. It was course and itchy, quite like Shetland. It’ll probably be good and hardwearing for accessories, but definitely not something from which to make a cardigan.
So instead I bought some undyed merino in a fingering weight and together we dyed it. Myrtle is very clear on her colour preferences. They are quite different to mine. But I wasn’t going to be wearing this cardigan. So purple and pink it was. I tried a new method to get a variegated yarn this time, adding small amounts of pink and purple through the dyeing process to get a more subtly variegated yarn than I have achieved previously. I was quite pleased with the result, and more importantly so was Myrtle.
Which just left knitting it. The pattern was fun, and mostly straightforward. The pockets were interesting to make and make for a really pretty detail. I did end up making four sleeves though. Not sure whether there was an error in my gauge (I did swatch and the rest of the cardigan came out right so that was a bit odd) but each sleeve only took about a day so it wasn’t a big problem. On first try Myrtle didn’t seem very sure but she has since worn it loads. Happy all round.
She was initially quite a reluctant model..
But then started enjoying herself a bit more. Wow she’s looking grown all big.