October Montage

This month I have shown you a variety of things.

There has been a bit of crochet and I have shown you my blanket at two different stages and a crochet celtic knot style napkin ring. I also revealed my finished knitted waistcoat.October montageI have aquired two new lots of yarn this month; one of which was a giveaway prize. And lastly, but definitely not least, I have shared lots of photographs from my ‘Danube Adventure’. These have covered the ship, Esztergom, Bratislava and Dürnstein.

Even more yarn!

A little while ago I went in for Angela of http://wishiwerestitching.sg ‘s giveaway for some fascinating yarn and ‘I WON!’

It came yesterday and I took some quick photographs as I excitedly opened the parcel.

ParcelAll those pretty stamps!

And inside pretty too! Inside parcelEven some ‘almost rainbow’ tape. Almost rainbow tapeI say ‘almost rainbow’ because they have left out yellow and put in pink! [Lots of people don’t seem to realise that pink is not part of a rainbow.] But such lovely sticky tape.

As well as the yarn there was this crochet hook. Crochet hookA comfort one and in a new size. Will be great to try it out. So generous!

And lastly, the yarn. YarnHave yet to work out the details of hook/needle to use etc. as much of the writing is in Japanese.

But it is beautiful yarn. Close up of yarnShiny with little specs of colour.

Angela made socks with it but I feel maybe I should use it for something to really show it off, maybe a summer scarf. I think knitting may be a better choice than crochet but maybe I should experiment with the little extra ball.

And if you wanted to buy some Angela has it for sale here – http://wishiwerestitching.tictail.com/product/lithos-hamanaka in eight different shades!

Purchase for a new project!

I have just bought some more wool.

Well when you know what you want for a project and you find it is on sale at a reduced price; what do you do?

It came as a big squashy package. Squashy parcelInside 20 balls! Yes 20. Balls of yarnThis is the same yarn as one of those I was using for my waistcoatYarn for waiscoatand in the same colour too.

It is a lovely smooth soft wool. Ideal for what I want to make. I wasn’t sure about the colour but from buying this colour I knew that they look much more vibrant on the screen and I didn’t want anything too dull, so this seemed a good choice.

So what am I making?

Well years ago when I was a size 12, I bought this fleecy jumper. Fleecy topIt was a size 14/16 but I liked the style and I liked the colour, it was only £5 and this was the only size they had. It was lovely and roomy and comfortable to wear and it still is even though I am now size 14/16!

When it got a bit shabby it was relegated to being a housework jumper and more recently I have started wearing it as a bed jacket when I sit up in bed and read.

So the idea is to knit myself a bed jacket in a similar size and style. I have been looking for a suitable pattern for a while and then recently I found this one on  Ravelry – Amused by Jordana Paige

It has cables! so that could be a good challenge and it is top down, no seams! so that should be good too.

Having made the Miette cardigan and the waistcoat and found both of them fairly fitting. I am going to make this in ‘1X’ even though that is much more than my bust size and leave out the rib. I will probably replace the rib with stocking stitch with a garter stitch border.

I will finish my blanket first but since the cardigan I want to make is for the summer, I will probably start this next.

The Knitting Pattern Expedition

I was given some lovely blue/green 4ply sock wool. More than enough for a pair of socks! Merino sock woolNow years ago my mother made herself a cardigan that I inherited, and love wearing, but which is getting a bit old and I had long planned to make a replacement.CardiganNow this wool seemed to be just the thing for this project but what about a pattern?

I searched my mother’s old pattern’s thoroughly but couldn’t find one for this cardigan.

I looked on line and found a Sirdar pattern that was similar in that it was 4ply and had raglan sleeves, which I love, but seem to be less common.

I discovered that this pattern was for sale in a shop in nearby Hythe. Now I have heard about this shop and how wonderful it is so I decided that it was time for a visit.

I suggested to my friend that we might go together and we chose a mutually convenient day.

The weather has not been too good lately so when we set off it was a bit overcast as you can see in the photographs.

The most fun way to get to Hythe from Southamton is to take the ferry.

Here is the view back to Southampton as we set out.Looking back to SouthamptonWe chose to sit outsideHythe ferryand on the way we saw this rather ugly container shipContainer shipand people who were out sailing.People out sailingAfter about fifteen minutes we were approaching Hythe pier.Approaching HytheWe then took the little train to travel along the pier.Hythe ferry trainHere you can see the entrance in Hythe.Hythe ferry entranceWe then turned and went into the town.Hythe townWe found the shop – “Shirley Wools”Shirley Wools(A closer view of the window.)Shirley Wools shop windowand went inside.Lots of yarnsAs you can see they have a good selection of yarns, needles and other itemsOther stuffand a wonderful display of buttons and threads.Buttons and threadsThis is where they keep the books of patterns.

I bought this pattern and a ball of cotton yarn.Pattern and yarn(I don’t really need any other yarn at present though it was all tempting!)

After this we went and had lunch in a nearby cafe. I had the all-day breakfast All day breakfastand my friend the sausage, egg, beans and chips.Sausage, egg, beans & chipsI decided to finish up with a ‘Millionaire’s shortbread’ icecream Icecream(10p cheaper if you had it ‘to go’.) Delicious! all that fudge and shortbread pieces and chocolate chips.

We went for a wander. However by this time the weather had taken a turn for the worse and I didn’t dare risk taking photographs, as it began to rain, though I did take a quick one of this cottage Cottageand this lonely seagull.

Seagull(This is cropped, I could never have got this close!)

On the way back we sat inside the ferry and looked out at the rain.Return journey

I bought the cotton yarn because the dishcloth I made two and a half years ago.Original dishclothwas finally showing it’s age Old dishclothand might not last much longer.

So I made a new one with this cotton. New dishclothIt may not last as long as the original which was made with proper ‘dishcloth cotton’ but I fancied a pretty one.

The pattern is just rows of trebles (US-dcs) and as I wanted a pretty but not impractical border I decided to go to this bookCrochet edgings bookand close this edging. Edging patternI left off the last row as I wanted a robust outer edge.

Hope you enjoyed coming with me. Don’t expect the cardigan to appear very soon, as it is more for the summer, but I do hope to start it within the next year.

A Crafty Week – Day 1

If I have seemed to be less present on blogs this last week it is because I have had my granddaughter to stay for just over a week.

She came equiped with all sorts of craft materials.Craft materialsI would have loved for us to make something with that material but I wasn’t sure what and we had plenty of other things to do. (She had rescued them from the bin at school! she told me.)

Plus some craft booksCraft booksand colouring books.Colouring book

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I had planned a few outings but Monday was a miserable day so we settled down to some crafting.

Last summer I saw what I thought was a neat idea for using up scraps of yarn. (I think I probably saw it here:- http://marrose-ccc.com/tutorials-2/yarn-ends-bowl/ ) and since then I have been saving up my cut off ends and really short scraps of yarn.

The detail on the web used a home-made paste but I decided to use diluted PVA glue like I had for my crochet baubles.GlueI had bought this at Hobbtcraft and I mixed it half and half with some water.

I covered table and chairs for protection and spread my yarn scraps out on a tray on the kitchen/dining table.Tray of yarn endsThis is just the ones that were left so you can see that there is plenty to make more bowls.

I covered a pyrex pudding bowl and a small glass dish with cling film and we dunked the ends in the glue mixture and spread over the surface.

I used a random placement more like the one I had seenClose-up of my bowlbut Louisa had her own ideas.Close-up of Louisa's bowlHere they are together after drying in the airing cupboard for a few days.Two bowlsHer’s had some gaps in it that I though made it vulnerable to breaking apartGaps in yarnso she let me wrap some yarn round the outside to protect it.Yarn wound roundThis was left to dry for another day or two.

Now the trickiest part was getting them off the bowls.

I think this was because the cling film clung so well to the bowl. Next time I think I will smear some vaseline or similar over the part of the bowl to be covered, under the cling film, so it is only holding in place inside the bowl.

I eased them very gently with a thin knife and my fingers. Here is Louisa’s bowlInside Louisa's bowland another view from the side.Side view of Louisa's bowlThe inside of my bowlInside my bowland sitting on my window sill.My bowl on window sillOf course life wasn’t just about crafting and later we went for a walk and then came home and Louisa picked up where she had left off last summer with Syberia II.Playing Syberia IIWe also started some crochet but what that turned into I will show you later.

Matching socks finished!

Matching socksWell they almost match! If you look closely you can see that the fairisle imitation part has knitted up slightly differently in each sock.

These socks along with at least one other project have taken rather longer to reach completion than I envisaged originally. As far as the socks are concerned this is because at one point it hurt so much to knit them that I had to give up. Not sure why later it didn’t hurt any more but glad to discover that I don’t have to give up knitting socks! 😀

It is always hard to photograph one’s own feet but here are a couple of pictures of me wearing the socks.

This was the easier one to take!Socks from above
and holding the camera out in front.
Socks from frontHere are the ones I made earlier.Original socksThese were meant to match too which is why both pairs are shorter than I normally make socks. (I can now calculate that 100g of this particular yarn should contain eight repeats of the colour sequence.)

The reason the original socks don’t match can be shown in this photograph.Comparison of both pairsCan you see the arrows? I made the original sock (labelled – first sock) and when I got to a colour repeat I cast off.

You can see that the second sock starts with perhaps a little more of the dark blue (as I didn’t know exactly how far into the blue I was at the start of the ball – I knit toe up socks with short row toes so I start under the toe).

Then the bad bit! There was a join not long after the end of the blue. I have now worked out that there was quite a length of yarn missing from the colourway sequence as shown roughly by the piece between the two arrows. So of course that mucked things up!

Luckily there were no more joins so I was able to make a matching pair with the rest of the yarn.

This means that I have now managed to make four socks out of one 100g ball! At £6.39 a ball which is £3.20 a pair that isn’t too bad!

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For the geeks among you, you might like to know that I didn’t cast off the first of the matching socks before I finished the second one. I calculated that there should be enough to make the second sock by weighing the sock and comparing it to the weight of the remaining yarn but just to be safe I left them joined by a length of yarn so I could undo a bit if the second sock didn’t get to be as long.

However there was enough for the second sock with just a tiny bit of yarn left over!

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It is worth noting that these socks are made with Rico Design Superba Bamboo which has only 50% wool and then 25% viscose, which I have been told is where the bamboo comes in. This makes them lighter and cooler than the other wool socks I have made so they are quite good for summer along with the cotton ones I made.

Now the heels!

With the second pair I experimented with a new way of doing the heels as I showed you here. New style heel(Original post including link to pattern here:- https://rainbowjunkiecorner.wordpress.com/2015/02/03/a-new-sort-of-heel/)

I am not likely to use this method in future because I don’t like the way it looks, at least when I use it, (The second heel was not much better,) though it does have one advantage which is that if you make a mess of the second part of the heel (as I did on the second sock) you only have to go back to half way instead of redoing the whole heel. (I normally make a short row heel.)

I’ve been spending money again!

Yarn for blanket and edgeI have finally got around to buying the yarn for my blanket: all the colours I told you about plus silver and lavender to make a subdued border.

I won’t be starting making the blanket just yet though as I have a few other projects I would like to finish first.

However I had only just ordered this when I realised that with the arthritis in my hands gripping my 1.25mm hook to crochet with #10 crochet cotton, while playing around with fish bookmarks, was hurting my thumb because I had to press hard to grip the hook.

I had heard of ergonomic crochet hooks so I started to explore them on-line and in the meantime I tried an experiment by fitting my hook inside an old mascara tube.Improvised ergonomic hookI found that this was easier to hold as the major part of holding the hook could then be done with my ring and little finger and I need only use a slight pressure on my thumb to guide the hook. Of course this wasn’t a long term solution as the part of the hook sticking out was too long and the thumb grip was in a bad position.

My reading of different people’s opinions on-line and squinting at the photographs led to believe that the best bet for an ergonomic hook would be the Clover Soft Touch hook. I found that one of the suppliers I use from time to time had them but of course the postage was almost as much as the cost of the hook.

Of course this means one has to think about what else one might buy to make the postage less of a burden!

I decided to buy two hooks the 1.25mm and the other steel hook I use most often: the 1.00mm, but I also had a look at what else they had and discovered that they had sock wool in a Sale for about half price!

Sock wool is one of those things where the most interesting colour mixes are to be found on-line rather than in the shops near me but where the cost of postage is offputting, so of course I had to look and found two sorts where the colours particularly appealed and I just had to buy enough to make one pair in each!Sock yarnYes I know I have enough socks now but it’s not as if sock yarn goes off!

While I was at it I also bought some safety eyesSafety eyesbecause I should have used them for the little bear I showed you but couldn’t buy any locally. So now I will have some as I am sure to make more small animals in future.

These are the hooks I bought.Ergonomic hooksThe ends are a good shape for me and I find them easy to crochet with. My biggest fear in buying these was that the handles would be great but the hook part would just not suit. They have little protective caps for the hooks too, just like my mother’s steel hook used to have.

The thumb grip in in the right place and comfortable to hold. The only slight issue I had with them was that the part that you hold in your hand if you are a ‘knife hold’ person like me was a bit thin and flat and not as comfortable to grip as my mascara holder.

Short term I have solved this with an old inner tube from some shir elastic that fortuitously I had lying around since I elasticated the trousers for the doll.Hook with tubeFor long term I have bought these pencil grips.Pencil gripsThey look like they will solve the hold problem.Hooks with gripsThe remainder may help with writing too because I have found that these days after a sentence or two my wrists feel uncomfortable!

Choosing colours for a new blanket

I love making blankets though I need to have a purpose in making them.

I have been using the CAL blanket for snuggling on the sofa over the winter but it is really too big so I have decided that I need a blanket about 4ft x 6ft and if I start making it over the summer it may not be ready for next winter but making it may help keep me warm! Something random stripey I thought using my granny ripple as that will have nice thermal holes in it.

Well, as you know, for me planning is half the fun with a knitting or crochet project and I have found a new help to planning when I use the popular Stylecraft Special DK acrylic, that I like because it comes in so many colours.

Recently I found a post on the “Attic 24” blog – HERE – where she describes how she has wound pieces of Stylecraft Special DK yarn round wooden pegs to help with choosing colours for projects and deciding which order to use colours for blankets.

I thought this was a great idea but I didn’t have any wooden pegs so I bought a pack of ‘Craft sticks’ and wound yarn round these. Craft sticks[If you like to use Stylecraft Special DK yarn for your projects and like this idea but don’t want to go to the trouble of all that winding you can buy a set like Lucy made here for £5.99. – http://www.countrycrafts.org.uk/specialdk.htm bottom of page on the left.]

I settled down with my craft sticks and thought about what I wanted. I had sixty-three colours to choose from.63 coloursI decided that I would make something a little more subdued than my ‘spectrum’ set of coloursSpectrum coloursand decided to leave out these colours definitely.Not allowed coloursThe top three because they were too bright and the bottom two because they were too dark.

I also am not especially fond of pink though I like to wear pink T-shirts as I think they suit me.

So I came up with this as a start. (I think sixteen colours will be about right for the basic blanket though I may need more for the edge.)Original coloursBut I decided it lacked ‘zing’ so I removed these coloursRejectsand substituted these instead.Substitutesgiving this –New coloursI tried a comparison using the computer.Colour comparisonthe new colours are on the left.

What do you think? Will this make a pleasing blanket? Or would you make some more changes?

Scintillating socks!

Patterned socks

Or should it be scintillating sock wool? I think this is the most exciting and clever sock wool I have knitted so far. Here it is on the right.

Sock yarn

Rico Design Superba Bamboo sock wool – 50% Merino Superwash, 25% Polyamide, 25% Viscose in ‘purple mix’. No it doesn’t contain bamboo though I did find bamboo listed as one component on one web site.

Conversely I have to say that the wool on the left is the most difficult to work with sock wool I have ever tried to use and I had to give up making a sock with it as I got in a mess when I tried to undo and redo a couple of stitches on the row below. It is fluffy and meshes together very strongly and part of the yarn is so dark it is almost black and so makes it very hard for my old eyes to see the stitches.

I had planned to make the socks to match and I very carefully noted where in the pattern I was at the beginning of the first sock and finished the first sock a little sooner than I normally would so as to start the second sock at the same point.

However

A few rows in there was a knot!!!! I hate knots in yarn. I did leave the knot still hoping the pattern would be the same but it wasn’t.

Only plus point is that by making slightly shorter socks I actually have only used half the ball so can make a second pair! Yay!

So here are the socks being worn.

Patterned socks being worn

And how they look to me.

Patterned socks as they look to me

I am now making another pair of socks, though these are a present, but I have realised, as I should have done before, that when using a single circular needle to make socks as I do, there is no need to put half the stitches on a holder and the other half on straight needles when working a short row heel.

As in the picture below. (Showing holder side.)

Stitches split between holder and straight needle

You can just do it all on the same needle thus saving time and effort. I have made one sock that way and will be doing the same for the second one.

I have also found a Rico pattern that has a slightly different way of doing a short row heel that doesn’t look quite as smooth as the method I use now but may make the problem of the yarn pulling or creating holes where the heel joins the front go away.

A bad version below where my attempt to avoid a hole made a mess.

Messy avoiding a hole

I am going to try this new pattern next time I make some socks for myself.

A coat of many colours!

A little while ago I saw this post – http://www.craftsbythesea.co.uk/category/hand-made/ and was fascinated by the texture and the combination of plain and multicolour yarn.

I found that the pattern was on ravelry and came from here – http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/earhart-2

The more I revisted the pattern the more I liked it and although it actually cost money!! I decided that I had to buy it but only if I could find a way of using it for a waiscoat, as having just finished my Miette cardigan I didn’t feel that I needed another one.

Searching through the waistcoat patterns. I found this – http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/123-10-waistcoat-with-cables-in-nepal which looked as if it might be compatible.

So I bought the pattern. I knew I was going to have to buy some new points for my circular needles so although I don’t normally bother with a tension square, as I knit pretty much to standard tension, I decided to knit one. I was having to use different yarns that those suggested in the pattern and it wasn’t just straight stocking stitch so this seemed a wise choice.

The yarns are the one you saw that I had bought recently.

0304-newyarn

The plain coloured one is Drops Big Merino (aran)- Plum. I bought six 50g balls. The multicolour yarn is King Cole Riot (chunky)  –  Cool. I bough three 100g balls. They are both lovely soft yarns. The Drops in pure wool and the King Cole a mixture of wool and soft acrylic. The King Cole has a long repeat for the colours which is necessary if you want a stripey rather than a spotty effect.

I am hoping that this will be the right amount.

My first attempt was just not right! This is what should have been the ‘right’ side!

Knitting mistake

It took me a while to work out why. But it was all to do with how you carried the yarn when slipping stitches.

So when I worked that out! So much better!

Tweed pattern

This shows my attempt with two different sizes of needles. The pattern specifies 28 rows to 4″/10cm and 6mm needles gave me about the right width but only about 3.5″ in height, so I tried 7mm. However a quick count of the rows on the sleeves suggested that it was more like 32 rows for 4″. So I am going with 6mm.

I have now knitted about the first six inches and am pleased with how it is turning out.

Work to dateI love the way the pattern is interesting without being too tricky and how the changing colours create continual interest so it doesn’t become boring.