Sunday, 9 January 2022

Getting it right

On my new quest to get knitting right, without the mistakes I ignore and put down to my excessive creativity, I have continued to be a serial unpicker. I loved knitting this hat in 4ply leftovers which now has no mistakes. The crown was not working out well with the decreases not matching up with the colourwork but I got there in the end. I feel better for knowing it is right.

but oh the ends... once it was complete, I popped it in my present box for next Christmas. I enjoyed working this pattern and hope to make some more.

After the hat, just before Christmas, I had a run of bad knitting luck. I started my new Avena sweater by Jennifer Steingass but my yarn choices were not a good match. I ordered a chestnut brown for the main body and a ball of king Cole riot to use as a graduated colour section. There were several problems, none of which stopped a capricorn like me from knitting on, the coloured yarn was too hairy and kept dragging on the brown working yarn making the twists for colourwork impossibly hard. I ploughed on. The next problem was that the coloured yarn was a much thinner DK gauge than the Drops Lima producing a very pixelated patterned section. 

It was when I stopped loving the yarn that the mistakes crept in. I knew a few rows were not right and I thought I could fudge the stitch count back to the correct number and use a crochet hook to turn any stitches from brown to the colour as I spotted them. But alas it was not working. It then felt an incredible waste of yarn and time not to make this beautiful jumper properly so I frogged the whole yoke which, by now, was only 4 rows from completion.

I ordered what I think will be a better colourway yarn and this time I will do a test square to check first. Because I knit every evening, I wanted to start a little filler knit while I waited for my new yarn to arrive. Step in this little baby waistcoat but even this was not without its woes. I knit two thirds of the back from a hand rolled ball of dark green yarn from the knitting basket, started a brand new ball of stylecraft to continue and found that the first bit I had used was not the same!!!!! It must have been a spare bit from one of the girls crochet bags that had been picked up off the floor and dropped in the nasket for hoovering purposes.

Frogged it. Swore a bit. Emptied the dishwasher. Went to bed.

Annnnyyway, this is the completed waistcoat which is for a friend of a friend who has paid me to knit it for her little boy. 

I dare not cast on my new Avena until I have a few successful makes under my belt so presently I am knitting another sheep hat because they give me such joy. Friends always offer to buy them from me when they see Andy wearing his so I thought I would get one on the needles. It is not profitable but it pays for my yarn or sometimes my yarn buying mistakes!

Are you knitting at the moment?

Jo xxxxx

Monday, 3 January 2022

Happy New Year! I like to make three crafting resolutions each year to keep my hobby interesting and challenging. Last year I decided to:

1) Learn to use the ruffler foot for my sewing machine... and do you know what? I still didn't use it so I guess in a whole year of sewing clothes for all of us, I just don't need it. I think maybe I have had it for so long that now my girls are in their teens, I have possibly missed that gathered-pretty-phase of their clothing choices. I can put this one to bed I reckon and never speak of such a thing again.
No regrets.

2)Make a dent in my fabric scraps especially the thin strips... this is actually going very well in the background although not to completion. I have made a strip quilt topper but it is a shade off a single bed size and now that I like the concept of it so much I want to make it into a double bed topper to store as a future wedding present. 

3)To sew a raincoat... Total success here, I made three. One for me, my mum and my youngest. It is the Eden raincoat by Tilly and the Buttons and Meg's was from a vintage pattern.

For 2022, I would like to improve some of my making.

1) To work with different fabrics. I have never used silk before because I am frightened of cutting it out so I would like to overcome this fear and of course have something beautiful to wear.

2) To stop knitting on when I know that something has gone wrong. I am an absolute sucker for it. Fudging each row until it gets right never happens but then I am always a little disappointed when I know there is a mistake. I am going to become a frogger starting with this yoked sweater. The black dots are all the mistakes. The one massive mistake is that the coloured yarn is too thin against the brown so I started making mistakes and not loving it enough to unpick them. 

3)To Crochet a chunky throw that has straight sides. I have been gifted some lovely yarn and I would like to use it well and keep my stitch count correct for each row. Sometimes I do slapdash crochet too!

Generally this year my sewing has improved in quality massively because I have been recording my makes for Minerva for freelance media content which will be released later this year. There is nothing better than videoing yourself sewing for others to learn from for making you sew properly! It has been my dream job and I am so looking forward to sewing more. 

Has it made you think of something you would like to finish, start or improve?

Happy New Year! Jo xxxx

Thursday, 23 December 2021

Welcome to my post. There is never a shortage of images to plop into an advent themed post. We like to indulge in our creative side at this time of year but no pressure, if it is not enjoyable, then we don't do it. 

 Decorating - the tree. For the first time in family life, I did not touch the tree. I put it up and the girls did it all by themselves.

Buying - one new carefully chosen tree decoration each year. 

Unwrapping - my nativity characters and placing them carefully in the stable by mate made for me about 20 years ago. I have crafty friends too!

Creating - a tree from bits of a tree! We don't have room for a tree in the porch but a big piece of a fir tree blew down in storm Arwen so Andy made a chicken wire cone shape on a pole set in cement and I chopped up said branch and shoved it into the holes. Ta Dah! narrow tree. The wreath has been made by my wonderful floral design mate Beth... I know more creative friends.

Scrapbusting - the last of my Christmas themed fabric scraps. I don't ever actually recall buying Christmas fabric but I think it was probably in some donated fabric bags I get from time to time. 
You sew all the scrap strips together in one piece then cut out triangles. 

Sewing - a new set of eight napkins. I fell in love with the nature inspired fabric, the colour palette and the fact that it was not overtly Christmassy so they would have all year round use. I have a set of four white ones I bought in Eygpt when I was travelling in my 20's so now I have twelve which coordinate.

Knocking - up four crackers. I really love crackers but when I look at them in the shops now I just can't see past that much waste packaging for such frippery. The trumpets were prised off last years crackers, waste packaging tubes are inside and I used some tissue I had saved from a present wrap them up. I used to have some snaps but I must have used them all so this year we have silent crackers.

Opening - the box of Christmas cards I made last January. After I have taken the cards down, in the cold days of January, I like to make all of my Christmas cards for the next year using my favourite ones with added stickers, sticky gems and sentiments. Sometimes I delve into my stamp sets and make some from my own ideas. 

Struggling - with some daylight. It has been so dark here of late, barely getting light until lunchtime then very quickly entering dusk light again by 2:30pm. I feel almost Scandinavian.

Baking - Cherry Bakwell Cake eaten warm with cream as a dessert and then cold the next day with tea. On low light days the only thing that gets me moving is baking. The girls and I spent a lovely afternoon decorating cakes to give as presents. They love doing it and the older they get the less stressful it is for me and the more rewarding it is for them. Heidi made the wreath cake, Megan made the parcel cake for her uncle and I did the candy cane cake using a mash up of whatever was left over.

Wasting - not a thing! Hence the final design. Not enough fondant or royal icing for the whole cake as well as not enough icing left in the icing bag for a base line. I ended up peeling all the fondant bits left over from the girls designs off the worktop, then started to roll them up. While rolling a sausage shape, inspiration struck like lightning when I curled the top over and considered that my work here was done. Instant Candy cane! 

Finishing - my fur backed sweatshirt fabric Juno Pyjamas. The word cosy simply isn't enough to describe them but I don't know a word more cosy than cosy; suggestions welcome. Seriously good knitting pyjamas I can tell you. I have a winter plan for this donated Stylecraft chunky yarn stash which I will show you soon.

Enjoying - time outside on brighter days. We did have a few bright frosts earlier on in the month when I loved taking the dog out for a long walk with my camera.

Spotting - the moon shining out on a frosty morning. A different view for you to enjoy today, this one is from the back garden towards The Stiperstones which is the grey, low hill line to the right behind the wooded one.  

Thank you for calling in throughout the year, your supportive comments and interest in what I do. I am off to look at your beautiful Christmas tree photos and read your crafty endeavors to fill me with seasonal cheer. Best Wishes to you all!

Love from Jo x

Monday, 13 December 2021

It's All About the Scraps

It has been such a finishing kind of week. You get those sometimes, where knuckling down and getting things to the very end seems woeful in your mind but then it doesn't really take very long.

I think I have falsely shown you this as a finish in the past but really I knew after 'finishing' it that the large grey border swallowed up the patchwork centre and needed more work. I started to machine stitch it but it just made a huge pucker at the end of each row. This is when I might have shoved it in a bin bag for a day when I felt more motivated/less sweary.

I got it out again earlier this year and began hand quilting it. I really made some progress and then, as any hand quilter will know, I got a touch of RSI in my hands. Away it went, for a second time, back in the black bin bag.

Things started to get a bit more crucial of late because this quilt is for my friend's son on his 18th birthday which is a week away! Out is came for the third time however, to my surprise, it took me one more evening of stitching to finish it. The back features some of his old shirts which he doesn't know his mum gave me for the quilt. It will either feel like a big surprise or that I have been stalking him by stealing shirts off the washing line! All wrapped up and ready to go now.

Finishing something arduous always makes me believe I can do anything. On Saturday afternoon the girls had a friend to play so I had couple of hours thinking about how to join these scrappy strips together which the girls and I made in January 2021 school lockdown. 

I hope some of the followers here can spot some of their gifted fabrics. These are the long strips which I collect from sewing;anything rectangular gets sorted into the 'strips' box. At the end of the afternoon I had sewn the ready-made long strips together and assessed that I need about four more to make a single quilt. A long way off yet but a very satisfying afternoon of enjoying the quilting process rather than the eventual outcome.

Another scrappy Ski hat (Free pattern) flew off the needles this week. One more for the present box. Making the pom pom even used up the last of some balls completely without a scrap of waste.

Finally, for myself, I have completed a crocheted sock yarn shawl. The pattern is on my sidebar if you have scraps of sock yarn or 4 ply to use up but it would work for any yarn. It has been a year long project (from last Christmas I think) to use up all of the sock yarn ball ends. Between larger projects, I would add a row here and there to use the yarn up to the very end. Recently, I have added some of the 4ply wool from Heidi's fair isle jumper and leftovers of leftovers from the socks. It is finished with some bought pom pom trim. Well why not?

Honestly, I think I love creating with the leftovers more than the initial product choice! Are you making for Christmas?

Jo xxxx