Thursday, 26 June 2008

Erika Knight

I went for a walk at lunchtime today in the beautiful sunshine and, instead of having a starbucks in the park, found myself going into WH Smiths to look for a knitting book (this has now officially reached obsessive levels!), When I came across this book by Erika Knight, who was the author of the knit and purl stitch book I love. The photos in this book are so colourful and enticing I just couldn't resist!

Three projects in particular grabbed my attention - the funky purple and pink throw on the cool, the knitted chair cover below, and the knitted bag underneath that. All so lush and comforting!

I'd say if you were looking for an inspiring book full of a variety of different projects to work on then you should definetely buy this book!

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Knit and Purl

Thought I'd have a bit of a play with my dark wool. The baby blanket I'm making is 60% light pink and 40% dark wool so I'll have more darker than lighter pink wool at the end of the project. I also don't like the dark pink wool. The texture is quite harsh so I've decided to use it up.

The stitch above is called loop pattern. I made up two more swatches than I'm showing here, and this was my favourite of them all. The holes are made by slipping every other stitch on the left needle (simply pass the loop from the left needle onto the right). All you do is cast on a multiple of 2 stitches (2,4,6,8) and add on two more. Then, knit the first row, the 2nd row is *K1, sl 1: rep from * to last 2 sts, K2, then 3rd row knit, then 4th row K2 *sl 1, K1, rep from * to end.

It was really good to knit as you do half the knitting you would normally do. I also love the holes in the knitting, it gives it real texture. Maybe this would be a good stitch for a summer hat to make it cooler.

This was quite an interesting stitch, but didn't impress me much. It's called Alternated Smooth Stitch and Tier, which tells you all you should know already! It looked great in the book, but then I am using up wool I don't like, so maybe it's that. It curled like ribbing does so wouldn't be good for anything you wanted to lie flat, like a scarf or a blanket. With any number of stitches, cast on and knit the 1st, 3rd and 4th rows, not forgetting to purl the 2nd. Then repeat.

This was the most complicated stitch to do in the whole book...each one of 48 rows are totally different, so you can't just learn the pattern and relax. I'm not going anywhere near this until a very competent knitter! All the stiches were taken from this book, which I wholeheartedly recommend to all knitters, whether beginners or experienced knitters. It's fab!

Soft handmade blankets..

This is my baby blanket that I keep wittering on about. I decided after making my blanket below, to knit continuous rows of alternating colours so that I would only have to sew the rows together rather than each square. It's working fine so far. As you can see it's in garter stitch which I've stayed with for a long time (2 months, although it seems longer!). As you will see from the previous post, I have since progressed to purling and am, after a few false starts ribbing ok now I think. I am halfway through now, and have two more rows to knit. The blanket will measure about 50 x 60cm when finished. I may give it away to charity or keep it in for a present, I'm not sure.

This is my lush blue and cream blanket knitted from Wendy wool...don't you just want to rest your head on it and go to sleep? It's taking a long time to knit, although stitching it together as I'm going along is encouraging me as I can see how quickly it's's not so bad. I want to knit a couple of cushion covers to go with it and use the free wooden buttons simply knitting magazine gave away last month. They'll look very natural and fab with the blanket in my room.

I have a bit of a thing about shops not selling blankets anymore, but selling those horrible fleece things instead. Whatever happened to proper blankets? Or is just that I slept in a blanket crocheted by my Gran? It was black around the edges and had quite retro cool blues and yellows in it. When I learnt it was homemade at an age when I became interested that was it. I've had a quest to create a beautiful blanket ever since, just never had the money to create one myself. I'll admit, this blanket will be very expensive when finished.

As you can see from the photo I have to organise my wool and somewhere to store my blanket during the next few months when knitting it, otherwise it will spoil. I'm so lazy at organising my craft stuff, whenever I'm in the mood to do something with it I'd much rather be creating something than filing stuff away...that's just not chilling out to me...

I also wanted to crochet a lavender bag as after putting an ad on the intranet at work I now have quite a lot of free dried lavender (thanks again if you're reading this) so that is an upcoming project that will help store the blanket safely from moths.

Now that I'm leaving the safe confines of garter stitch I feel quite wistful when looking at these projects!

The big sneeze!

My first chance to sit and have a rest after wrestling with a baby hat I’m knitting for a Save the Children campaign. I don't think I have to concentrate so much when I do anything else, apart from learning to drive! I’ve made the worst choice of (100%) wool possible for someone who suffers from sinusitis and hayfever and have now sneezed a total of 31* times since this morning. I feel so exhausted and thirsty I may as well have a cold! Hopefully the Tibetan newborn baby I’m determined to knit the hat for won’t experience the same symptoms. Perhaps I’ll wash it through before I send it…Knitting ain’t easy y’know!

Sitting with an excellent view of our garden, it seems the apple blossom in the corner overhanging the shed has merged into something rather more tasty and useful. A blackbird has been popping in and out of the tree for the last 30 minutes returning with all manner of berries and twigs, busily building a home for itself. No architect or planning department needed! There is such an array of flowers, bushes and wildlife in our relatively small town garden one wonders why anyone would ever say building houses reduces green spaces and wildlife…the field further down the street by the busy road, I’m sure, won’t have as much to offer.

When people moan about the price of fruit and veg these days I’m always reminded of how my dad made our back garden our fruitbowl, all for the price of a few seeds. Amongst the food he crammed into our garden when we were growing up were apples, blackcurrants, strawberries, potatoes, lettuce, sweet peas, and carrots besides much else and quite a large lawn to boot! I’m sure less people garden now and I’m sure children would benefit if more people took it up again. The joy I felt as a child of rummaging around in the earth for potatoes really taught me about being self sufficient.

It’s a lesson you can easily apply to life in general. Particularly during a recession!

*3 more times since writing this

Sunday, 15 June 2008

My first felt stuffie!

This is one of my first forays into sewing and felt! It must have been made when at primary school, but we can't work out when. The sewing is awful and it looks like I had a bit of a struggle with the sequin for an eye thing too. The back is even more awful! Nice colour though...


This has been totally inspired by Future Girl. I would never have thought of making a lacy bracelet out of a piece of edging - but thinking back to when friendship bracelets were cool, I suppose they were bits of material worn round your wrist!

The whole stash below only cost me £2.26 - I just went through the entire collection of edging in the sewing shop and picked out what I liked. Like Future Girl, I cut the lace off to the required size, stitched a button on and a hoop on the other end - the whole process took 5 minutes. You might think it's a bit simple...but sometimes when accessorizing an outfit, simple is best!

Thursday, 12 June 2008

African Woman

Even after all my experiments with knitting and making things from felt, I still love to come back to my first love, cross stitch. Stitching little patterns doesn't take so much of my time as I know how to do it so well it almost does itself!

This is from the same magazine, the World of Cross Stitching, as the African Elephant I stitched a few months ago. I didn't follow the suggested DMC threads and rummaged around in my own collection instead. I was worried this would alter the look of her when finished, but she looks ok. I also added a few beads as you can see to jazz her clothes up a bit, which weren't in the original pattern.

You can't see it from this picture, but I mounted her on a blue card, which when put with the Elephant, looks pretty darned cool!

Sunday, 8 June 2008


Last Wednesday I gave you a sneak peek at a felt project I was working on. Well, here it is, adapted from a free pattern I found online. The strawberries were the most exciting aspect of the cake. I couldn't believe how easy they were to do. We just happened to have a delicious sweet-smelling punnet in the fridge at the time I was wondering what colour I should stitch the seeds. For the whole cake I used whipstitch to sew the bottom and top to the side. I wanted to try the same principle on green felt to see if I could make a pear, and an apple. I've managed to make a cherry but that's easy...

I could make a tutorial for a future blog post now that I have a nice new camera!

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Cross-stitch cards

I found this book in a charity shop at £2. I opened it and wanted to stitch all the designs there and then in the shop! Modern cross stitch books are not very easy to find, and I won't waste a tenner on a book when I only like half the designs. These designs are fab! Every occasion imaginable is catered for - from diwali to US Independence day to the cutest designs for baby birthdays. She's also included a great set of funky borders at the back with two alphabets for you to play around with her patterns and customise. I also love the fact that she hasn't patronised the reader by telling us what colour or size of card to use. You wouldn't think this book is 14 years old.

A real reminder that all you need are pencils, graph paper and imagination.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Hey! Come join me back in the seventies!

Continuing the latest trend I have of jumping in at the deep end with crafting, I saw there was a half price sale on vogue sewing patterns and bought one. As I always seem to end up spending a few pounds extra than I intend to on crafts, of course I ended up buying another one, in a different range, at full whack. But I made sure they were classic designs that I would really wear to death when finishing them!
I totally adore these tops. I went mad as soon as I saw them online, especially the one that is featured in yellow in the picture. I love the way the hemline hangs so elegantly.

I've never attempted to make my own clothing before but I've been inspired by a few people who go out of their way to tell me how easy it is. I should imagine that once you choose your fabric and read through the sewing pattern everything will be fine. Patience, as usual with any craft, will be a virtue.

Normally, when I'm this excited about a project it works out perfectly. I think I'll attempt the PJ bottoms first of all, (in a much funkier material than is shown!) as they looked easier in the pattern. I'm sure it will be much simpler than trying on ten pairs of PJs in various shops and finding none in my size/a material/a texture that I like.

This project will, unlike the previous one I started yesterday, take more than a week to complete, more like a couple of months, but I'll tell you how it goes!

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Can you guess what it is yet?

Can you guess what I'm making? It's so exciting! I even took a photo with my rubbish camera to show you! I'm totally going to go to town on this. I've already raided my bead collection and it's going to look totally fab! Easy to make and highly effective - a great combination.

I'll tell you what it is in a week or so, I promise!

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Running before I can walk

I'm not sure if I have any fans, or indeed readers, of this blog. If I do (even if there is just one of you so far) and you've been disappointed I do apologise.

Two things are holding me back from blogging in this blog:

1. I already have a blog which has become more successful in recent months. Whenever I have a spare moment to blog my attention will always go to that one, and I don't really feel inspired by this blog yet as I haven't got the design how I want, and

2. I don't have a digital camera and am surviving with my mobile phone. This makes it impossible to blog on crafts as most of the blog posts I read on the internet are composed of 60-70% photos sometimes, and good photos at that. Or perhaps they just look great to me as I don't own a proper camera! Good photography or at least a good camera looks to be essential to craft blogging and I must stop buying craft materials for a month or so in order to save up for one. As usual, with me, I'll want the absolute best that I can afford and won't scrimp! A hard task!

In the meantime, I've decided not to put anymore photos up of my projects as I don't think my camera phone which lacks a flash will do my work justice one bit. In fact I took a picture of an african woman I finished in cross stitch which was quite eye-catching against a blue background but which looked naff and dingy when photographed. Not surprising really.

I've nearly finished my raspberry ripple scarf (my first ever scarf!) which I hope to be able to show you soon. As I raced ahead with projects as soon as I learnt how to knit my first three projects are all in garter stitch. My second project, a huge cream and blue chequered blanket is great but the cream wool stinks. It's very expensive, and if I'd taken a bit more time planning it I may have washed the wool through to see if I could fade the smell a bit! As it is I'll have a hard time doing anything but taking it to the dry cleaners as it's dark blue and cream. Doh!

My third project is a baby blanket, my first project with wool that is 100% acrylic. It was slightly cheaper and much easier to knit with. This is also chequered dark pink and light pink. I think I need to start planning projects better with some graph paper and coloured pencils!

Oh, and I've learnt the purl stitch, and am nearly at the stage where I understand a knitting pattern, thanks a great deal to this book:

I paid full whack for this book and didn't realise I could have got it £5 cheaper on amazon. I can still only do patterns that involve a whole row of purl and a whole row of knit. I can't do knit one purl one knit one yet, for some reason my wool gets in a giant knot. I will watch more tutorials and progress steadily I'm sure.

See what I mean about the lack of a flash?
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