Friday, 19 August 2016

Two Down......

......but several more WIPs still on the needles/hook/wheel.

I sat down at my loom the other day and wove and wove and wove, until I'd finished the tea towels I started in June.

I had one long warp on the loom and did the first two-thirds(ish) of the weaving using white cotton for the weft.  Once I'd finished the ball of white I'd got on my shuttle stick, I had a decision to make.  I didn't really want to break into a new ball of white and I had a part ball of the yellow I'd used in the warp, and a part-ball of the turquoise.  So..... the last third (or just over) is part yellow and part turquoise.

Once I'd cut the woven fabric off the loom (after hem-stitching the last end), I measured it and decided to make it into three tea towels; two white and one yellow/blue.  First I zigzagged, using my sewing machine) across the fabric where each end of each towel would be and then I cut between the two lines of zigzg stitching.  After that, I hemmed each end by folding over twice and pinning and stitching first one line of straight stitching close to the inner edge of the hem and then a second line of straight stitching closer to the end of the tea towel, just to make sure the hems were secure.

And here they are, washed and dried.  They shrank a bit during washing, but they'll probably shrink a bit more over the next couple of washes as I usually put tea towels and dish/wash-cloths on a 60C cycle in my machine and dry them in the tumble dryer on the high heat setting.

I also finished a hat the other day.  It's the third time I've made The Boyfriend Hat  by Purl Soho and the third time I've cast on fewer stitches, on a bigger needle (I've made a note of my modifications on my Ravelry projects page for each hat).  I'd bought a skein of Caron Simply Soft Paints a while back as an impulse buy and, to be honest, I wasn't that enthusiastic about it when it turned up as it wasn't as bright as I thought it would be.  I started off thinking I could crochet a scarf, but that didn't work out, so got frogged and I decided to make another ribbed hat.

I thought that working a worsted weight yarn on 3.5mm needles, in K1, P1 ribbing would take ages as it felt quite hard on the hands, but in fact it turned out to be a quick knit, once I'd got going (especially whilst watching the Olympics) and I finished it on Wednesday evening, having cast on last Saturday.

DD2 has said she'd like it and, as it's difficult to get her to wear a hat in the winter, I'm going to let her have it.

In the meantime, I've started something new.  It's a crochet baby blanket and the yarn was a bargain (yes, I bought more yarn) and it was looking at me from the bag and I'm weak-willed when it comes to crafting!

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

A Few Finished Items

I think I've caught Startitis as the number of WIPs I've got at the moment seems to have increased rather than decreased:

- Hap for Harriet (been in hibernation for over a year; must remedy that);
- Ribbed hat (started because I was going to use the yarn for something else which didn't work out, so decided to make a hat from it instead);
- Crocheted blanket (another one where the yarn had started being something else it didn't want to be, so as it was out, got made into something else instead);
- Socks (one finished, need to cast on the second one);
- Woven tea towels (haven't touched these since before the school holidays started);
- Spinning (yarn for a sweater; two skeins done, halfway through the next and another 400g to go after that).

Listing them all like that makes it look so much worse than it really is, but helps to get my focus back and not cast on anything else.

I have finished a few things though:

Socks - two pairs.

This pair were made from a Regia Creativ sock blank that I bought in a sale a few years ago.  I'd never knitted from a sock blank before and it was an interesting experience.  I've got another two blanks, in different colours, which I might make into scarves instead of socks.

This pair were made from Drops Fabel (another sale purchase - from Wool Warehouse).  Fabel isn't the softest of yarn, but at less than £2 a 50g ball, I don't expect a silky-sock feel to it and it's a perfectly acceptable, workaday yarn.

Crocheted baby blanket.  One of the knitting ladies was making a blanket in the same Sirdar pattern  and she'd got a finished one in her bag and I liked it, so got the pattern, pulled out some Stylecraft Special DK from stash and off I went.  It was a quick crochet and rather satisfying to make.  The pattern doesn't specify a border, but I added a round of crab stitch/reverse DC - SC US) which I think finishes it off.

Here's a close-up of the mesh pattern:

Nice, isn't it.  So nice, in fact, that I started another one, that's very nearly finished.

I'm trying to keep DD2 occupied over the summer holidays.  She's had three days at the holiday club they run at her school, but that's finished now, so it's a case of trying to think of things to do when, in truth, all she really wants to do is go shopping so I can buy her more beads and lip glosses!  It's a bit of a struggle, but at least I've got DD1 home now.......

......  DD1 plays in two youth orchestras and each year, at least one of them goes abroad on a tour (as well as having a couple of workshops during the Christmas and Easter school holidays).  This year, they went on tour to Hungary, so last weekend her case was packed, clarinet cleaned, snacks added to her hand luggage, passport, currencies and European Health Card put in her handbag and I went to work and hubby and DD2 took her to the drop-off point and that was the last I saw of her until they got back yesterday afternoon.  She seems to have had a good time (she usually does; she blossoms when shes in the company of like-minded young people as she's not particularly girly - unlike her sister), although travelling 24 hrs each way on a coach meant she didn't get much sleep on either journey and was in bed early last night, sleeping for 12 hours.  I've just got to start saving for next year's tour now as it's Essex Music Services 60th anniversary next year, I believe, and there are rumours they're going to be "doing something a bit special".

DD1 has another music workshop next week.  It's a residential one, but at a school that's only about six miles away, but it's also GCSE exam results day next Thursday, so I'll pick her up after breakfast, whizz up to her school so she can get her results and then whizz her back to the music thing.

Just noticed out of the window that my mother's arrived to visit, so I'd better go!

Tuesday, 2 August 2016


I'm not a natural seamstress.  I find it quite bitty and fiddly and I wonder if it's because I'm left-handed and sewing machines seem to be designed for right-handed people.

Anyway, I can sew, but don't do it very often, but am determined to rectify this and make more things.  I buy fabric with the intention of sewing it into something wearable, but then it gets put with the rest of the fabric I've bought and I get out some yarn and needles or hook instead.

Last week, I traced off the pattern for the pyjama bottoms from the Tilly and the Buttons book, cut out the pieces and got to it.  I was fairly pleased with the results and DD1 has worn them a few times since.  DD1 doesn't really like traditional pyjama tops and prefers a simple vest-type t-shirt to wear with pyjama bottoms, so I don't have to fiddle about with making any tops!

I know the legs don't look even, but I promise they are (well, within a millimetre or two).  The fabric was a remnant I bought from a local shop.  I didn't have enough fabric to cut out the full length of the pattern, but DD1 isn't overly tall (at 16, she's 5' 3" and doesn't think she's going to grow much taller, if at all) and it turned out that these were the perfect length for her.

Of course, having made the PJ pants for her sister, DD2 wanted me to make something for her.  Every time we go shopping, she tries to get me to buy new hairbands and hair accessories and recently I've been resisting her efforts to get me to buy hair scrunchies as, at around £4 each (and she needs two because she puts her hair in bunches most days) I resent spending that much money on what amounts to a rectangle of fabric and a few inches of elastic.

So..... upstairs we went, to choose some fabric.  That done, a tutorial was found on YouTube, two rectangles cut out and a couple of lengths of thin elastic snipped off.  Then I started sewing.  The first two seams were fine, then I did some clever folding, as per the video's instructions, and started sewing the fabric into a tube along the long edge.  The first half was fine and I felt rather pleased with myself.  I pulled the fabric round to do the second half and disaster struck...........

............  I took my foot off the pedal of my sewing machine and.... nothing happened.  It didn't stop!  In fact, it started racing along, so I switched the machine to off and unplugged it.  Then I unpicked the runaway sewing it had done on the scrunchie.  I got a piece of scrap fabric and switched the machine on again...... and off it went again.  It was like it had been possessed by a demon (actually, it was the suppressors/capacitors --- or something like that --- but I like the possession theory better!).

I did what every 21st Century home crafter would do.  I Googled "sewing machine won't stop running".  Several sites suggested the food controller had malfunctioned.  It looked as though a new controller would be required, so I phoned the local sewing machine stockist, found out they had one and went in the next day and bought one (bye bye £35).

What happened to the second scrunchie?  I sewed it by hand!

At least she's pleased with them.  I can see more scrunchies being made as I have various bits of fabric I can use.  Next time, I might make the rectangle of fabric a bit longer, for more scrunch.

I haven't tried the new foot controller for my machine; I'm working my way up to that.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016


I've been finishing up some things that just needed ends sewing in then a wash and dry.

Blankets for the premature baby unit at a local hospital (they're small; 13-15 inches wide):

Left: Attic24 Neat Ripple, modified to add a treble/double crochet either side of the increases/decreases.

Centre:  Treble/double crochet, worked through the back loop only.

Right: Knitted.  Row 1 is knit all stitches, Row 2 is purl 5, knit 4 (with a garter stitch border of 5 stitches, the first stitch of each row being slipped).

All three blankets are made using King Cole CandyStripe yarn which is a DK variegated acrylic.

I finished a blanket I crocheted using the Vintage Vertical Stripe pattern, crocheting stripes of varying width, using up part-balls of DK acrylic I'd got left over from other projects.

I finished the Neat Ripple blanket I started back in the spring.  Two-thirds of this had to be re-done after I'd finished the main part and DD2 decided to 'help' me by snipping off all the yarn ends close to the work........ before I'd had a chance to darn them in.  She wasn't my most favourite person that day as I'm sure you can imagine!

Today, I finished the yarn I've been spinning on my wheel for the last four or so months.  I've been very unproductive over the last 18 months when it comes to spinning, so I've taken the opportunity of the Tour de Fleece (a brief explanation if you need one is here).  I haven't joined any TdF groups on Ravelry but am doing it my own way, spinning Mon-Fri as I work on Sat and Sun, which means my time before work is limited and I'm too tired to spin after I've done my shift.

This was earlier today and I've now finished plying this bobbin, so it can be wound off, skeined and measured.  It's destined to be one of the colours in a Keith Moon sweater (a Kate Davies design).  My other colour will be an emerald green and the main colour will be natural/cream.

I need to get on and card the green so I can spin it.  The cream (500g of it - eek!) I'll spin from the big 'bump' of fibre I bought from World of Wool (all three colours are merino).

I've also got another few bits on the needle, hook and loom, plus one 13-year-old daughter badgering me to start knitting the cardigan she wants (I'll tell you about that one another time).

Off to make dinner now, although as I've been chopping back prickly things in the garden today, everyone's getting something easy.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Lethargy has set in

I promised myself I'd be more diligent when it came to blogging, but I've been feeling very lethargic and a bit 'bleurgh' in recent weeks.  There's been a lot going on here with getting DD2 getting prepared and her things ready and packed for her school's annual camp last week (they had to come back a day early because the heavy rain meant they got flooded last Wednesday night), plus DD1 has been sitting her GCSE and other exams (last one was this Monday) so maybe that's why.  In any case, I've been flitting between crafting projects and not really seeing much progress on any of them.

I have finished a couple of things.

A pair of plain socks in Drops Fabel:

I've noticed in recent weeks that some of my socks are looking worn and/or faded, so I'm trying to replenish my stock.  As I usually do with self-striping and self-patterning yarn, I've knitted a plain pair of socks.  This pair, however, are made from two 50g balls of Drops Fabel sock yarn, starting a new ball for each sock.  I noticed when I was about halfway up the leg of the second sock though, that the balls had been wound in different directions, so the striping goes in opposite ways to the first one.  Not that I mind as I never try to match the colours of socks.

I've also crocheted a new cover for my big round cushion.  I made an African Violet cover for the cushion a few years ago, but it was starting to get a bit bobbly and look a bit tired (and DH was never overly keen on it anyway):

I'd bought some Drops Muskat cotton yarn with the intention of weaving it into tea towels, but when it arrived I realised I'd made a mistake as it's mercerised, which means it's not absorbent.  So.... as I'd bought beige and burgundy and the walls in our lounge are beige and the curtains are burgundy, I decided to update the cushion, so ordered some more.  I'd liked the Spiral Cushion pattern by Matt Farci since I'd seen it on his blog (According to Matt, although he's moved over to Boys & Bunting with his partner Dennis now), so decided to make that.  It's an interesting construction.  A circular spiral is crocheted in half-treble (half-DC US) and then a contrast colour is used to slip stitch around the first circle, which is very effective.  

One half I crocheted in burgundy, with a beige contrast.....

... and then I reversed the colours for the second side:

I thought about putting a zip in it, but decided that as the cushion pad is feather-filled and so machine washable and can be dried in the tumble dryer, I'd just crochet it together all around.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

A Happy Scarf

I did a semi-organisation of my stash last week, partly to try and get it a bit more ordered but also to remind myself of the yarn I've got.

Whilst going through it, I found one of my early hand-spun yarns and also the leftover part balls of King Cole Merino DK that I'd used to make Lucy hats for my Mum and older sister.  I got the yarns out and put the King Cole next to the hand-spun to see which colours went best as I had in mind a woven scarf.

Yesterday I got out my loom for the first time since last November or early December and used the King Cole yarn to make a striped warp:

I ran out of the warp yarn before I could finish the last stripe of the olive green, so put in an extra bottle green one, because I decided it wasn't the end of the world if it wasn't completely symmetrical.

Then I got weaving.  And I wove and I wove and I wove, using the handspun for the weft:

By the time the girls went to bed, I'd got to the end of the warp, so hem-stitched it and cut the scarf off the loom.

After dinner, I settled down to watch an (old) episode of Midsomer Murders and decided to do a twisted fringe.  It was a bit fiddly (there are machines you can buy that make the job a bit quicker and easier) but wasn't too bad to do once I'd got into a rhythm and then I snipped the ends off so it was all even and then dunked it in a basin of warm water to soak while I had a cup of tea.

After squishing it in a towel to take out the excess water, I folded the scarf and put it in my airing cupboard overnight and mid-morning today, I took it out, smoothed it and snapped a photo:


It could do with a press to smooth it out, but I wasn't going to get out my ironing board and iron just for one scarf, so that can wait.

I'm rather pleased with it.  Can you tell?

I've got another of my earlier hand-spun yarns, plus two 50g balls of a blue DK yarn (Sirdar Balmoral, I think) which will probably get similar treatment, although I might use my bigger (8 threads per inch) heddle to make a drapier fabric.

I've also made two more hedgehogs and am being badgered to make another one (my orders are to knit a gold one next, with a white face and feet):

I feel like I'm on a production line with these!  After the gold one, I've only got one ball of tinsel yarn left, so hopefully I'll get a break (although they don't take that long to make).

Wednesday, 6 April 2016


I have plans to organise my yarn stash once the girls are back at school next week, following the two-week Easter break as it's in a bit of a mess, with various bags of yarn dotted around the house.

Having had a look in the box that houses all my acrylic DK yarn, I saw that there were quite a lot of part-balls in various colours, left over from other projects.  Some of these balls were 20g; others 50-60g.  I'm also finding that my shoulder's more comfortable with me crocheting than knitting at the moment (and an extremely busy Easter Sunday at work -- it's the busiest day of the year for the Tesco Express where I work because all the big supermarkets are closed for the day -- took its toll on my shoulder as well) so I put all of the pastel, lighter colours of yarn into a bag, along with three balls of cream DK that I'd got, pulled out a 4mm hook and started rippling.

This is what I've come up with:

It still needs an edge, but I'm rather pleased with it.  It's ten 14-stitch ripples wide (using the Attic 24 Neat Ripple pattern) and there are six rows of colour, followed by four rows alternating cream with colour and, as you can see, every other 'block' is cream.  It's a bit lighter than the photo shows; the yellow and green aren't as dark as they seem on screen.  I've now run out of the cream though (it's Hayfield/Sirdar Bonus Baby DK), so will either have to buy another ball or two, which rather defeats the object of stashbusting, or I'll use some cream Stylecraft Special DK that I've got to do a narrow border, which will neaten everything up.

So, having finished the main part of that blanket, I still had light colour yarn left over, so I got out a 4.5mm hook and have started making a version of the Vintage Vertical Stripe blanket (except my stripes will be horizontal!).  This is completely mindless crocheting -- just row after row of treble (double US terms) stitches, going into the space between the stitches of the previous row, rather than going into the V at the top of the previous stitches.   As it's so easy to do while watching television and can be picked up and put down very easily,  it's working up fairly fast.  

Again, the photo looks darker than the blanket is (it's a very dreary day today).  

I'm just crocheting backwards and forwards until the yarn of the part-balls runs out, giving stripes of differing heights.  I had a couple of whole balls and one or two where I'd only used a bit of yarn, so I've wound those into smaller balls which will give more stripes.  I'll put a border around this one as well.  A border makes everything look much neater, don't you think?

I did start a new knitting project, a second Relax sweater, but having done a few rows of the bottom ribbing, I decided I didn't like the cast on I'd used as it was too loose and looked sloppy, so I'm going to frog and start over...... but that can wait until next week when DD2 is back at school.  She had a very good first week of the school holiday, but this week..... well; I'm not sure what's going on with her, to be honest.  Her behaviour has been challenging and she seems to be getting very easily upset by all sorts of noises.  Hopefully once she's back into the routine of school she'll settle down again.  Fingers crossed.