sew

Knitting a log cabin

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It’s been an odd week and my crafting has been rather neglected. I was unwell for a few days and muzzy headedness is not conducive to sewing or knitting. I’ve been feeling a little nearer to ‘normal’ the last couple of days so my green sparkly jumper is, at least, wholly knitted though not quite sewn together (therefore not ready to show off here!). It’s difficult to sew it in poor light so I am being picky about when I work on it. Can’t wait to finish (said with actual glee rather than despair).

Alongside the green, a first size baby hat popped off my needles yesterday. I thought I’d try knitting a little log cabin blanket to compliment it. I have always loved fabric quilts in log cabin style. I started one many years ago when I knew little about which fabrics worked best but it made it no further than the first ’round’, pretty much a similar size to what you see below. Wish me luck this knitted one doesn’t go the same way! Both the hat and the blanket are using up yarn stash, this time Rico Baby DK (not a yarn promo, it’s what I have to hand). It’s sometimes lovely to use yarn and actually remember what you purchased it for in the first place. All these were for baby sweaters or a striped car seat blanket. Over the past six years or so there have been many baby gifts gifted. Perhaps my favourite was a pale green and white hoodie for my hairdresser’s little boy – I made a first size – he arrived rather large and couldn’t wear it for long! Oh talking of babies – remember last week’s cute grey jacket and hat ? The little chap who’s hopefully going to be snuggly in it arrived just before midnight yesterday, mother and son doing fine.

Looking forward to seeing more blogs with ‘show and tell’. Bye for now.

Playing chicken

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Knitters might take a guess at what ‘Playing Chicken’ means. Others might just think I am as mad as a snake and log off now …

So, my last post showed this gorgeous green glittery yarn and a plain green yarn together, mentioning I was going to add a little sparkle to January and beyond Christmas. Well, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. I have been progressing speedily with a jumper, the back and front finished, cuffed sleeve too. Now I realise I will may run out of yarn. I am carrying on knitting without knowing if I will have enough to finish it – otherwise known as ‘Playing Yarn Chicken’. The idea of continuing to use up my yarn stash was so attractive, I thought I had enough. I am knitting two strands together to make the correct yarn weight. Solution might be to undo part of the one finished full length sleeve and make two three-quarter length sleeves. Do you know how difficult this yarn is to disentangle? It’s wool, alpaca and a synthetic fibre. The wool and alpaca fluffs and grabs onto each other on it’s own strand as you knit, let alone how it clings onto the second strand. It’s a nightmare! Of course, the yarn is discontinued and I can’t get any more despite scanning the web for supplies, including from other’s stashes listed on knitting community sites. This could be a difficult lesson learned. I still need sparkle in my life though, so I shall continue with fingers crossed, though not when actually knitting!

Photo taken in the evening in poor light, compared to the daytime one from the last blog post!

I have also been doing a little sewing for a family member who is soon to be 2. Oh to be an innocent age! I have been reliably informed that 2 year olds still play with rag dolls. My take on it is that a sleepy ragdoll (with her eyes shut and a quilt) may help bedtime routines!

Love to see what other crafters are up to. January, dark, dreary, we need to ‘do’ nice things to make the days go quicker!

A handful of squares

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Many years ago, possibly more than six and less than ten, I remember playing around with textures and knitting a few odd squares. I never did anything more with them and they were lost into the ether of WIPs (Works in Progress) and UFOs (Unfinished Objects) – long lost, until recently. So rediscovering a few that complimented each other, I turned them into a small blanket for a doll’s pram. There are three little girls in my extended family who weren’t even twinkles until 4 years ago and I hope one of them has a dolly who needs to keep warm on chilly days! It wasn’t an exciting new project, the squares aren’t perfect but it means one less guilt trip when I dive into the mystery cupboard of yarn and sewing projects.

Having had more time at home recently I’ve had the inclination to sort out cupboards. In the kitchen those chipped pots have been chucked, the plastic tubs now have matching lids and I have stock of store cupboard herbs and essentials. I’ve found a few things to cook that I didn’t even remember buying! I know I am amongst the many who have taken the opportunity of lockdown to take stock of many things in their lives, sorting cupboards is just a very little of it.

My enthusiasm has slowed a little, I guess the ‘novelty’ has worn off, but I am still trying to go through my craft projects and use my stash as much as possible. As I am making decisions about what to finish or abandon it has been beautifully warm here in the south east of the UK, like summer come early. I was tempted to start a new summer project and thought perhaps it was a little deserved after my sorting and stacking. If I learned something new along the way then it counted as ‘improving my mind’ and not ‘wasting my time’ and I reckon that’s ok as a little reward.

Thus, a crochet top has become a new WIP. I have patiently learned The Magic Loop. There’s been trial and error with pattern reading (US vs UK crochet terms) and keeping tension. Crochet is still quite a new hobby. This is the beginning of what I hope will become a droopy top to be worn over a summer vest.

During the coronavirus lockdown I try to think of positive things to keep busy. I value my family more, I value what we have and I think about the future, being kinder to each other. I hope others are finding similar solace.

Today should have been a different day

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I should have been having surgery today. It was postponed in this current crisis. I totally understand why it’s not going ahead. I am glad not to have to risk being in a hospital perhaps rife with coronavirus and staff over stretched. I am glad not to have to face recovery without visitors coming in to cheer me up. I am glad I don’t have some life threatening condition that has to be ignored.

However, I am also a little sad. I am sad that this week isn’t happening the way I’d planned. I am sad that the recuperation at home with my husband to hand isn’t going to happen, although my husband is actually at home and working. I am sad that the mid term future might mean a holiday cancelled, surgery rebooked, help at hand different than expected. I am sad that my life will not change for several months, my condition won’t be fixed for a while.

I needed to say all this but I am fine. As the day progresses I shall craft a little, spend time with family, thank my lucky stars we are all safe. These few weeks have made me value some things a lot more.

It is perfectly acceptable to admit if you aren’t happy about everything. I am a woman, with many female friends, locked down in a house with a husband and grown up son. I know I, and friends too, use each other for sounding boards, to as I like to say ‘put the world to rights’. We are all in acceptance of what is going on right now and look forward to life after Corona and what it brings us, even if life is a little different from before.

So hopefully over the next few days they’ll be more posts with photos of knits and sewing projects, just maybe not today. Today there’s just a selection of needles ready to be donated to a second hand shop. One tiny part of my sorting out my craft stash!

Using the stash

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I keep thinking I’ll have a huge sort out of my fabric stash as well as my yarn stash. It’s not quite happened yet. However, as I am thinking about it, idly looking through boxes, moving things about mostly rather than having a ‘keep it’ or ‘lose it’ pile. I am discovering fabrics I’d forgotten all about. After this lockdown I will truly be reconsidering my buying habits. Much of my stash was acquired when I worked in either haberdashery or yarn companies – treats to myself, usually at discounted rates – well, who could resist?! I also love a knit and/or stitch fair and there are bargains to be had or things you have never seen before – with a little encouragement from friends I often come back from one of those with treats too (who am I kidding, I don’t need encouragement).

Last week I was enjoying sunny weather, bestowing the fact it was a good day to dry laundry on the clothes line (little things make me happy). Sadly the bag that holds my pegs decided she’d had enough and fell apart leaving pegs strewn about the lawn and me scrabbling around picking them up. I’d made it several years ago, decorated with my first attempt at free motion embroidery and I remember it had been a nightmare to construct to not get the pocket with it’s picture inside out. So what better time to make another one – use up some of my stash perhaps? It’s not as if I have plans to go anywhere right now (ground hog day, going a little crazy at times).

I had a pile of upholstery/thicker than cotton/non stretch fabrics. I bought this one at the Alexandra Palace Stitch and Knitting Show two years ago. Perfect! And for once a project worked first time and I love it. It was simple I know, but making something inside out and pulling it through a hole from one side to another often phases me, especially if I’ve then still got to insert something inside to enhance it- on this occasion a hanger! I have had chronic bag making fails which involved a lot of unpicking seams.

Perhaps not the most interesting ‘show and tell’ but I have used some of my stash and it’s useful too!

Then there was a dive into my yarn stash. Another new family baby due this summer. You might not be able to see the subtle differences in this photo but there is a pale grey and pale minty green hoodie on it’s way for a baby boy. I possibly would not have selected these two together but they work nicely.

Looking forward to seeing everyone else’s lockdown makes. I have a good friend involved in a community project making a quilt during this corona virus lockdown – they are searching for a name for it that sounds inspiring and thoughtful rather than sad and depressing. Any thoughts anyone?

I look forward whilst I glance back

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The start of a new project, with an unimpressed helper! Using DROPS yarn.

Returning from a New Year break in rural France I feel fired up to get on with new projects, tidy up old ones and reflect back on the successes and failures, craftwise, of 2019. A few days in the countryside with added trips to the coast has fed my imagination!

I am still on a journey to use up my stash of wool. I cast on my latest project 24th December, just after I’d finished my final Christmas gifts. Using Nepal and Alaska by DROPS Design and who doesn’t love a stripe or two?!

I was quite prolific last year, although there were gaps in creativity and not everything was a triumph. Luckily I blogged quite bit so there are truths to be told here and I realise some things didn’t even make it the page. I also learned a few things, one of which was a new crochet stitch. I have now made four things with hooks rather than knitting sticks, adding a different dimension to my crafting bow.

A mini summary of 2019 makes is:

Helping a friend with a baby knit project, knitting hats for the homeless, four baby/toddler cardigans, one set of booties, one scarf, one dreadful lacy top, handsewing a big handful of patchwork hexagons, machine sewing other patchwork (part of a throw and three elephants), bunting and Christmas decorations, two hats for a 3 year old, a baby tunic dress in clashing colours, and two crochet blankets (one a gift for MIL, brownie points here!) , and adding a big applique ‘M’ to a little girls’ book bag.

So onwards into 2020 what plans are afoot for all? Crafting – I intend to learn at least one new thing, not sure what it is yet!

A patchwork pig made for a table sale in 2019

One Christmas gift looped, charity sewn up and I’m still crafting a rainbow

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The rainbow crochet blanket in my last post has been on temporary hold but it still takes pride of place in my cosy crafting nook and has a ‘turn’ once a day, albeit only a row (all 250 loops). I am determined it won’t be long before it’s finished.

Instead of my usual admission (or despair) that a new project ‘accidently’ jumped into my hands (it’s the lure of new yarn or the rediscovery of yarn or fabric in my stash that tempts me…), I am surprisingly pleased more than one did and I have finished these new projects quickly. So quickly I am having a little show and tell here.

With the festive season on it’s way I crocheted a Christmas lap blanket for the MIL. I haven’t crocheted much before but after a couple of wobbles I had the pace of shell stitch in the bag. Using James C Brett Marble Chunky yarn made it fast hooking and it self patterns no changes of colour nor ends to sew in (unlike the rainbow blanket, there are lots!).

Then onto a little playing with fabric.

Ready for part of a charity Christmas tree decoration project I sewed some mini bunting and pumpkin pincushions.

In the run up to Christmas our local churches will have decorated trees donated by local businesses and groups and anyone can go along and admire them (hopefully they will anyway). My Thursday morning crafting group (we all take various ‘talents’ to the table) will be decorating a non traditional tree in an alternative crafting style – not necessarily with a Christmas theme as you might be able to tell. I loved making these and an added bonus was that the fabric came from my stash and one of my promises to myself for 2018 was to reduce the stash it helped a little (a very little but still a little!)

So, that’s been my mischief for a couple of weeks. What’s been yours?

Despair! Knitting WIP. Lifelines. More holes than a cheese grater.

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Oh despair! I recently started another new project – yes, I know I told myself and everyone here that I would not start something new until I had more finished projects .. there was a good reason for this one though and I used yarn from my stash which justified it.

I had a five hour car journey ahead of me. I thought I’d stretch myself, try something a little different. ‘What could go wrong?’ Ha! Lots it turns out!

My latest WIP had got to the stage of sewing up. Who can sew up knitting in a car? If there is anyone who can, please give me hints on how to keep pieces straight on my lap and not lose marker pins and sewing needles in the footwell – I am all ears. Note, I’d be the passenger not the driver, of course! I chose a new project over the sewing up this time.

I did about a third on the journey

I hadn’t made anything lacy in a very long time and realised early on it’s probably because I prefer simple knits. I am using a vintage pattern but am not using vintage cotton and I am adjusting size and shaping. The gauge is slightly off (it grows in length but the width seems ok). I am making it longer than the pattern says so I did two borders rather than one. I went wrong a lot, ripped it back, reknit it. I did not mark off some rows as I knitted, I counted wrong. You name it, I did it! The yellow lines are lifelines, thank goodness I knew about those and had spare yarn with me (of course, I never travel with the bare minimum, not only in my craft bag).

I am now onto the armhole shaping. I am a triangle, a lot less wide at the shoulder than Mrs Average (who is Mrs Average, by the way?). Therefore narrowing the shoulder line involves more counting. Whilst the main body lace is easier than the border, knitting when weary means another lifeline after going wrong again, missing out a row, losing a stitch several rows back (how did I not notice? possibly a missed YO somewhere). I think this may be one of those projects that will take a long time.

Note to self, future car journeys, knit small and easy! Our final destination was to our house in France. We had a glorious weekend of sunshine and R&R, despite the knitting calamity on the way.

Since then, we had a wedding to go to back here in the UK. These fairy lights are just a snippet of the day I wanted to share here. Fantastic day, lovely party, love a wedding!

Little Finished Knits

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It’s been a busy few days, woolly-wise. One baby jacket finished (loved doing the fluted bands!). A pair of booties have hopped off the needles too. The new baby in the family arrived yesterday and the gifts are ready – she was little so she might even fit into the prem baby cardigan and hat I made in a hurry just before Christmas when we were warned she might have been on her way.

So today it’s back to my other WIPs. The weather has turned bitterly cold so I have a great excuse to sit in the warm with pins and yarn and not venture outside too often. I am feeling proud to have finished something speedily (not the usual for me!) and I wish fellow crafters equal success with their current projects.

Crafting success !

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I want to shout from the rooftops – well, from my sofa actually. After yesterday’s failed knitting attempts my mojo came back today, and with it clear thinking. Picking up stitches around the armholes was a doddle. I undid the mega disastrous neckline – something I hadn’t even considered yesterday – repicked up stitches, reknit it, still not perfect but definitely not as ‘cobbled’ together as it was first time round. I even found the perfect buttons. Not blocked yet but feeling proud so wanted to share.

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Moving on, I’ve even revisited my pile of WIPs and organised them into some kind of better order. Here’s the next one to finish this week – a baby cardigan for imminent family arrival, loving the fluted edging. I have to admit it’s the next part that I take a deep breath for – sewing up an button band -but I am on a roll and it WILL be done.

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I’ve started a great book too – this was after my mojo came back – wish I’d read it last week! So far, loving it. If anyone has already read this, think of me as ‘Miss Marple’ today. More about this will follow another day for those who have no idea what that means!

I’ve always known the calm knitting brings – this isn’t a new thing, just sometimes we all need reminding. Signing off for now. Knitting calling.