Friday, 24 January 2020

Trying to be a monogamous knitter

Some things are easier said than done: knitting exclusively from stash, walking into a yarn shop and leaving without purchasing anything, buying the perfect shade of red yarn, and getting through the pile of works in progress (WIPs). As you might have established if you have paid any attention to this blog or my Instagram, I am far from a monogamous knitter. I usually have three or four active WIPs, and many others hiding in various locations about my house. There are lots of reasons for the multiple WIPs - each WIP usually involves a different technique, is at a different stage in the design process, or requires a different level of attention. Some WIPs were started with great enthusiasm that waned after the initial burst, or something went wrong with them that meant they moved to the abandoned pile...

One of my aims for this year is to work through the pile of WIPs and to either finish them, or abandon them forever and reclaim the materials for something else (one pair of socks has already been unravelled and the yarn nabbed for another project). Since the start of January I have been working almost exclusively on three projects. The first was an adult-size intarsia jumper, which is finished and has been sent to the publisher for photography. I will confess that the jumper had to come to the top of the list as it was due in the publisher's offices within the first week of the year, and nothing focuses the mind quite like a deadline.



The second project of the year is a blanket, made up of individual blocks that are seamed at the end. I have carried these blocks about with me everywhere I have been for the past fortnight, and I have loved crossing each block off my list as I have cast it off. Very satisfying indeed. However, I can't quite call it monogamous knitting, as I own three pairs of needles in the right size, and all of them have had blanket blocks on them at some point this week! Apparently knitting the same thing over and over again is more fun if you can have three half-finished blocks on the needles at the same time. I'm not quite sure how that works, but it seems easier to me.




While my blanket blocks are very portable, I can't work on them in the dark (there are increases and decreases that I have to look at to keep track of), so on the occasions I have been to the cinema this year (twice), I have taken something else with me: my Halloween socks.* These socks were meant to be finished in October (obviously), but I mislaid them. I had them in my husband's car one Sunday morning, and when I went to unload the car, the project bag was gone. I was annoyed about it at the time, as I couldn't for the life of me think where they'd gone, but I reconciled myself to the bag never coming back and moved on. Over Christmas I found the bag, hiding in the bag of bags for life in the understairs cupboard. Hooray! I'm knitting these as tube socks, then adding in the heels, toes and cuffs at the end, so they really are straight-forward knitting in the round, perfect for those times when I can knit, but can't pay any attention to what I'm knitting.


I think this three-project month is as monogamous as my knitting will ever get. I admire anyone who can cast on one project and work on it until it is completed, but that's really not my thing. Having said that, it would be quite nice to get some finished objects off the needles, and clearly the way to do that is to actually knit on the items, so maybe my future does hold some more almost-monogamous knitting...

*Yarn is by Strawberry Fields Yarns. The Ravelry project page can be found here.

Monday, 20 January 2020

The sustainable craftalong: Introduction

At the start of the year, I said that my crafting word for 2020 is SUSTAINABLE


In this context, sustainability means making sure that my crafting is not wasteful, and is a little more considerate towards the environment. With this in mind, I am hosting the Sustainable craftalong in 2020.

You can take sustainable crafting to mean whatever you want. I am aiming for:
  • Working mostly from stash
  • If I buy something, using it straight away, rather than hoarding it
  • Finishing my works in progress
  • Considering the purpose of what I am making - will I be able to make use of the finished object at least 30 times?
  • Trying to buy crafting materials that come from renewable sources: either recycled materials, or natural materials
  • Selling or donating any craft materials that I know I'm not going to use
I'm sure that as the Craftalong progresses, everyone will come up with their own sustainable crafting ideas, and it'll be really interesting to see what everyone thinks of.

You will note that I have called this the Sustainable craftalong, so all crafts are welcome, including knitting, sewing, crochet, weaving, papercraft, anything you like!

The Sustainable craftalong will be taking place in my Ravelry group, and on Instagram. There will be two threads on Ravelry: one chatter thread and one finished object thread.  On Instagram, use the hashtag #sustainablecraftalong

Every quarter (at the end of March, June, September and December) I will be drawing one winner from each of the chatter thread, finished object thread and Instagram. In each of your entries, I want you to tell me what makes your project sustainable. In the interest of reducing waste, prizes will be digital pattern prizes - I will gift each winner a pattern of their choice from Ravelry up to the value 10 USD (prizes can be from any designer on Ravelry, not just me).

Happy crafting!

Friday, 17 January 2020

The December 2019 FO-down!

I completed a lot of projects in December, all of them presents, so I couldn't share them as I finished them. To make up for this, here are all the projects I finished in December!*

1. A Christmas pudding hat


Years ago, I made a Christmas pudding hat for my friend's son. I think I made it when he was 18 months old, and he's now 8. He has worn the hat every December since then. At the start of December, his mum sent me a photo of him wearing his (now rather snug) hat, saying he still enjoyed wearing it, and that he shared it with his younger sister. This is clearly a very knitworthy child, so I immediately offered to knit a new, larger hat that he can wear for future Christmases.

I didn't manage to get the hat finished in time to be worn this Christmas, but I did put it in the post earlier in the week having finished it just before New Year. Obviously I did this (a) so that hat could be appreciated and admired, and (b) so that I was no longer responsible for having to locate that hat in November and making sure it can be worn in December. I know that hat has now arrived at its destination and is much appreciated by its owner.

Christmas pudding hat Ravelry project page

2. Rainbow Puerperium, mark II
 

In Spring last year, one of my friends had a baby boy. She already had two boys, but I decided that I would like to knit something for the new arrival that could be his, rather than a hand me down. While she was pregnant, she didn't know the sex of the baby, so I challenged myself to knit something gender-neutral, and went for a modification of one of my old favourites, the Beyond Puerperium.

Beyond Puerperium is a basic cardigan, with buttons down one edge of the front, rather than down the centre. This allows lots of opportunity for customisation. I decided to knit the cardigan in navy blue, with some cream garter ridges and a little crocheted rainbow motif. The finished cardigan went down so well, that when the baby had grown out of the first cardigan, his mum asked (very nicely) if I would consider making a larger one for him. Obviously I obliged!

The second cardigan is bigger, and the buttons are more widely-spaced. I used a larger crochet hook for the motif than I did for the first cardigan to make the rainbow a tiny bit bigger. I also used a different navy blue yarn, but this was completely down to what I had to hand rather than any preference, and the new cardigan is a little darker than the first. The cream and rainbow yarns were leftovers from assorted baby blankets, and I had about a metre of cream yarn at the end of the cardigan, which was cutting it finer than I had planned! I do like it when I can use up a whole scrap of yarn though.

Beyond Puerperium, mark II Ravelry project page

3. Two Granny's Favourites




Granny's Favourite is one of my most knitted patterns. It's by Australian designer Georgie Nicholson and it is excellent, ranging from baby sizes to age 12, and having lots of different length options for both the body and the sleeves, and as it's knitted from the top down, you can use every last scrap of yarn you have. A friend requested matching cardigans as Christmas presents for her twin nieces, so I decided to knit two Granny's Favourites. I used Stylecraft Special DK in Aspen for one and Lavender for the other, and the cardigans turned out really cute.

I did make one fairly major modification: I removed the lace from the bottoms of the sleeves and tapered the sleeves instead, as I find the cuffs rather loose as written.

I shared these on Instagram a couple of weeks ago to lots of positive reception, and a hint from my sister that my twin nieces would love some matching cardigans, so I fully expect to be returning to this pattern in the near future.

Granny's Favourite 1 Ravelry project page
Granny's Favourite 2 Ravelry project page

4. A Triangulation hat


I made my first Triangulation hat just before my youngest was born, and, as often happens, I shared some preview photos with my friend Amy. Amy said she loved it, so I offered to make one for her. Bearing in mind my daughter has already had her first birthday, this project was a little overdue!

I had intended having this hat ready for Christmas, and the knitting was complete, but we got waylaid by assorted illnesses, and the hat became a New Year present instead.

The hat has gone down well, with Amy's partner borrowing it too, so I'm going to make one for him when he gets back to me with the colours he'd like me to use!

Triangulaton hat Ravelry project page

5. A Ravenclaw scarf


In October or November, I had lunch with a friend who was telling me that her son was really enjoying reading the Harry Potter books. Somehow I found myself offering to knit her son a house scarf, even though I hate knitting scarves!

I didn't follow a pattern for the scarf, instead I grabbed a scarf I'd made for my husband years ago and copied that. 6 feet of 2 x 2 ribbing isn't really my idea of fun, but the stripes made it feel like the scarf was growing quite quickly, and the scarf was finished in under two weeks. While the finished scarf looks great (and is getting a lot of wear), I shan't be offering to knit another in the near future!

Ravenclaw scarf Ravelry project page

What did you knit in December? Were you cracking on with gift knitting, or did you knit something fabulous for yourself?

*If you want to know more about the patterns and yarns used, etc. I've put links to the Ravelry project pages at the end of each description. You can find full details by following the links.

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Cloud along... update

In October, I started the Cloud along..., a knit and crochet along for my Fluffy white clouds patterns. The Cloud along... was meant to run until the end of 2019, but life got in the way and I didn't finish my blanket. Oops.

Rather than close the Cloud along... with no finished blankets, I have decided to grant it an extension. The Cloud along... will now finish on February 14th 2020, which gives you roughly six extra weeks to finish your blanket! Perfect if you have a new baby, or nephling arriving in the near future, or if you want a new project that will brighten up your day while you wait for Spring to arrive.


Until I cast off my blanket, you can get 20% off either the knitted or crochet designs with the code CLOUDALONG

Both options can be found here: https://www.ravelry.com/bundles/cloud-along

Head to my Ravelry group to find out more and to join in.

Saturday, 11 January 2020

One (two) for the chenille lovers...

As a teenager, I owned a beautiful red chenille sweater. It was cropped and had full length sleeves, and was like wearing a hug. I have no idea what happened to that jumper (I vaguely recall that it was handed down to my sister at some point), but while I had it, I wore it to death. Last year, I Like Knitting magazine* put out a call for designs using chenille yarns, and I leapt at the chance to recreate that original jumper.


The Junie chenille sweater takes its inspiration from the jumper of my teenage years, updated for 2020: a sweater made of chenille is like wearing a hug! Junie is written for two lengths – the shorter of the two is designed to be quite cropped, while the longer version offers a little more coverage. Both options are cosy and cute!


This sweater is worked in the round from the bottom up as far as the armholes, then the work is split and the front and back worked separately before joining again at the shoulder seams, after which the neckband is worked from stitches that were placed on hold during the shaping of the neckline. The neckline and hem are shaped using short rows. The stitches for the sleeves are picked up around the armholes and knitted from the top down.


Junie is knitted in Premier Yarns Retro Velvet,** which is a super-chunky weight yarn, making for really speedy knitting. The pattern is written for finished bust sizes 36.5 (44.25, 52.5, 60.25, 68.5)” in short and long lengths. I recommend choosing a size with 4-8” positive ease for a relaxed fit.

I'm really sad that the sample for this one is not in my size, as I really wanted to wear the sample as soon as it came off the needles!

Full details of the pattern can be found on the Ravelry page, which can be found here.

Not content with designing just one chenille piece, I also designed the Billie chenille hat.


Billie utilises the lightweight but cosy texture of chenille with a braided cable for a look that is perfect for winter. It’s a beanie style hat with a slight slouch and a faux fur pom to top it off. The pattern is worked in the round from the bottom up.


Billie is knitted in James C. Brett Flutterby Chunky,** making this hat a project you can knit up in just an evening.


Full details for the Billie hat can be found on the Ravelry page.

Want to see my other designs in I Like Knitting magazine? You can see them all here.**


*I Like Knitting is an electronic magazine that can be viewed online via a subscription model. Full details can be found here.**

**Affiliate link.

All images copyright I Like Knitting magazine.

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Welcome to 2020!

Hello! Welcome to 2020! A new year and a new decade.


I was filled with New Year optimism, but that was rather dampened by my youngest getting chicken pox earlier this week (her big sister had it over the Christmas holidays). January is already feeling like a long month, and we're only a little over a week in... Only one child left to catch the pox, then hopefully we won't have to deal with it again (I am reposnding with a 'la la la, I'm not listening' to anyone who is telling me their child has had the dreaded pox more than once).


I think there's probably time to fit in Happy New Year before it becomes seasoally-inappropriate, so Happy New Year to you! Do you have any resolutions? I've decided not to, as I fail at them alarmingly quickly. I do have a crafting-word of the year though, and that word is SUSTAINABLE. I have lots of ideas to do with that theme, which I'll tell you about in due course, but for now I am starting with keeping better track of all the works in progress (WIPs), of which there are many. Surely there is nothing more sustainable than finishing something that you've already started rather than casting on something new? Hopefully I might be able to share some finished objects (FOs) in the very near future...


Hope 2020 is good to you. Happy crafting.


Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Love texture, you'll love the Tilted cushion!

Hello! I’m back today to show you the second pattern* I have in issue 110 of Knit Now, which is on sale now.



My Tilted cushion is a gorgeously squishy textured cushion cover, fastened with big buttons across the back. The texture is created using offset garter ridges on a stocking stitch background, so the cushion is easy enough for even a beginner to complete.

The Tilted cushion is knitted as a single strip, which is seamed at the end and fastened with buttons and buttonholes that are knitted at the start and end of the main body of the cushion.

The cushion is knitted using Deramores Studio Chunky, which I hadn’t used before, but will definitely be using again. The yarn is 100% acrylic, machine washable and has a fantastic plump rounded structure that really makes the stitches pop.

The great thing about knitting with chunky weight yarn is that it knits up really fast - you could cast this on today and you’ll definitely have time to make a few before Christmas. The pattern is printed in the supplement that comes with issue 110 of Knit Now magazine, which features plenty of patterns knitted in chunky weight yarn, so even if this pattern isn’t your cup of tea, then there are plenty of other quick and easy options to choose from.



The pattern is available in issue 110 of Knit Now, which is available now. If you live outside the U.K., or can’t find a copy can buy one online, or you can purchase a digital edition.

Want to queue or favourite the pattern on Ravelry? The pattern page can be found here.