Welcome

Hello and welcome to my little corner of the internet. I intend to use this blog as a showcase for my latest crafting endeavours and to provide detailed reviews of patterns, kits and accessories on the market along with details on where to find everything yourself, should I inspire you to try it out. Please feel free to comment on my posts, provide your own thoughts on the subject, answer questions and even suggest posts.

It has always been my goal to add a post every Wednesday, but due to current circumstances posts may be as scarce as once a month. Appologies and I hope to return to my weekly posting shortly.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Doggy Doo bag holders

My mother is heavily involved with a charity called safe and sound, it's an animal charity that takes pound dogs off of death row and puts them in shelters. Why? Well because according to UK law, pound dogs can be terminated if they are unclaimed after a week. That means healthy dogs are being murdered on a daily basis. It's quite sick and it makes everyone in my family really very angry! So my mum, runs a fundraiser on facebook. It's really easy and it makes a difference. Basically it's an online charity shop, but she's always struggling to find enough items to sell.  I try and help out by donating things I have laying around but... well I also like to knit. Items for gods and people sell really well, but not baby stuff which is my go to quick project, so I had to find some new ideas. Initially I was going to put together some dog treat bags but then this caught my attention:
 

Pattern: Doggie poo bag pouch
Designer: Kathy Glaes
Available from: Ravelry
Price: Free download

 

I think these are my new favourite stash buster! They're really quick and easy to make and they only require tiny amounts of 4ply yarn, so they use up all those pretty remnants left over from shawls and other larger items where the yarn is just too yummy to waste. The bag is worked in the round, starting at the top and working down, then an i-cord is made for the drawstring. It's really easy to master and shouldn't take you more than a few hours to make one of these babies.

The benefit to these is it's just so much prettier than having poo bags on display. I don't know how well they'll sell but I'm having a red one to go with my dogs outfit and a black one to go with mine. Since my black dog is always dressed in red and black goes with pretty much everything I own. I think they'll look pretty nifty, and be a heck of a lot more durable than those plastic bone shaped dispensers that we've already managed to destroy.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Playing with Variegated threads

Variegated threads are my treasures! I've got the full set of Anchor, the full set of DMC and only a few dozen hand dyed pretties. I LOVE them! They're so beautiful!  Sadly, they're really not that commonly used in the designs I tend to stitch. It's one of the reasons I'm very glad that my grandmother took the time to sit down with me and teach me about card making. She got me started in both crafts and mini designs like these by Joan Elliott make perfect card decorations.

They're about 20 stitches either way, give or take a stitch, so quite small, and they were designed to be stitched in solid black. That makes them the perfect candidate for Variegated threads! They're stitched on salvaged aida. Which basically means...those horrible free gifts you get on the front of the magazine that you're never going to stitch, but you can't pass on to someone who'll like them because the chart is in the magazine? I dismantle them, the fabric goes into one bag, the threads into my stash and the needles into my tin. They're great for small designs like this, and really cost effective.
DMC 69

First up was this kitty. The aida has a slight cream tint to it and I opted for shades of brown with a slight amber hint to them. It was either that or my shades of grey, but I like the reddish browns better, and I think they work really well. Now in case you're thinking it looks sort of Chinese, the design is from Joan Elliott's oriental collection.

For this design I used two strands of cotton held together and worked each stitch individually in a circular motion. I started in the right side of the cats face and worked around keeping the darker colours to the left of the piece where possible which gives the finished piece the impression of being lit from the bottom right.

DMC 52
I chose purple for this design purely because...it was the colour that I picked. The best thing about butterflies is that they work with any colour and any layout. So again I held two threads together, and worked each stitch separately, but instead of trying to get the stitches to fall a certain way, I simply started at the butterfly's head and worked my way through, working the outlines of the larger wings and then filling them in diagonally. It breaks the colour up on the wings and gives the piece a bit of interest.
DMC E135
I really wanted to use a metallic Variegated thread, but I'm not a metallic person mostly because my first foray into them was with DMC metallics. I loathe DMC metallics with a passion! They're the worst threads in the world to work with! They feel like steel cables, they rip your fingers to pieces and they fray like there's no tomorrow. Literally, two stitches in and the fraying begins! They are diabolical! The thing is, there's no reason for it! No other brand of metallic thread even comes close to these, unfortunately, I didn't ave any other metallic variegated. So I attempted it. Holding one thread double and working each stitch individually i let the colours fall where they liked and got this dappled effect, with most threads having both colours in them and only a couple being solid.

By the end I was in tears, my fingers were red and raw and painful and even my husband was exclaiming how terrible the threads were with the fraying and the tangling. So I let him touch them and he was appalled that I would even think to work with it! It's disgusting and DMC should be ashamed of it's metallic range! I'm emptying them out of my stash for good now and replacing them with better brands.

DMC 51
The last finish of the post is this carp, who my husband cleverly named "e diem" and for those of you who don't get it Carpe diem means seize the day.

Once again, two threads held double, worked from the tail in straight rows to the head, then I went back and did the fins. This gives a more striped effect but because of the size it also works as a light source again.

Each design took only a couple of hours while I was watching the tv and were completed within a day. They're fantastic small projects and the variegated threads really work well with them! These will all be turned into cards at some point, so maybe you'll see them again in a later post. But for now, that's enough playing with pretties. Time to get back to work.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

My favourite thing...

I have always had a wool sensitivity, it started when I was little and my earliest memory of it is laid in bed folding my duvet and sheets in such a way that prevents me from accidentally touching the wool blanket during the night. I'd start out with everything evenly placed ontop of the layer below and end up getting out of bed and dragging things and folding them for about twenty minutes. The sensitivity has only grown over the years and so I was VERY pleased to find that knitting yarns were not necessarily wool. Over the years I've stumbled upon a few wools. Most have been a nightmare and served only to reinforce my wool hatred, some have been unpleasent, but still within the realms of my endurance. Only one type of wool has ever been my friend...Merino. Unfortunately, when I told my eco warrior of a sister that I use Merino wool she decided to tell me about something called mulesing and that the majority of Merino farmers use the method. I felt a bit sick and promptly swore off irresponsible Merino wool. Now that's great in theory but in order to avoid the practice my merino costs sort of double... So I can no longer use that as my staple wool, I needed a new wool. A wonderful lady suggested BFL which is good because that's a pretty common sheep here, where the practice is illegal, meaning no guilt and no import price. All that's left is to see if I can actually stand to work with it. Only one way to find out, give it a go...

 
Brand: Rosies moments
Item: Blue faced Leicester
Available from: Rosies moments - Etsy shop
Price: £11

Designer: Andrea Jurgrau
Pattern: Saint-Michel Beret: A Little Flower Remix
Available from: Ravelry
Price: free

A wonderful lady sent me this yarn through the post to see if I could work with it. I have to say, I was absolutely delighted to receive it! The colour is absolutely gorgeous and it's packaged with love. I mean it, Rosies moments took a lot of care preparing this yarn to be shipped out, the label is beautiful, the yarn was completely knot free and easy to wind (You know, until I stopped halfway through, put it in my bag and tangled it myself)and there was even a small packet of Lavender attached to the label making it smell delicious!

Thankfully winding my new precious was a very pleasant job, the wool was so soft and squishy, I couldn't wait to work with it. I firmly believed that this would be my new staple. I loved it so much! It needed the perfect pattern to go with it! Queue this little beauty of a pattern, It's a small enough design and only used half of my yarn, meaning if I struggled I would be able to finish pretty quickly and reduce the harm to my poor digits, the vast areas of plain stitching show off the yarns gradient, while the lace centre really adds an extra touch of wow! It  is the perfect pattern for this wool.

So I cast on and fell in love! I adore this yarn! My love for it's texture only increased, and it's so very warm! I was disappointed when I finally finished! Not just because of the yarn, the pattern itself was really nice to work with, but mostly yes, because of the yarn. I just wanted to keep knitting with it! However, once I was done, the hat looked more like an overturned fish bowl than a beret, so I desperately needed to block it. I did that using a dinner plate and that did the job. I was pleasantly surprised!

Soft. Warm. Comfortable. Beautiful. Easy to use. Easy to block. My new favourite hat, I think I'll be making some mittens to match seeing as the yardage was severely over estimated and what should have been a tight make actually only used half of my wool!

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Woodland mitts

Designer: Mia Heikkinen
Pattern: Oddity
Available from: Ravelry
Price: Free
If you're looking for a small project to work on in front of the television, this is not the project you want. Ordinarily I am a huge fan of cables, so when I saw this I fell in love, I thought it was the perfect small project and passed it over to my husband who agreed. The gloves are for him, so he had the final say. Eagerly I cast on with my beautiful cotton Aracunia that "he chose" (read; I showed him and he liked it) and sat twisting my rib quite happily on the bus, watching tv and chatting away...obviously not all at the same time!  Well as I expected I loved the process, the cables were looking beautiful and it was growing well. I'd had to go up a needle size to get it to fit my husbands hands, but everything was going perfectly.

Then it just continued. Nothing really wrong with the pattern, except a couple of clarity issues and a knit stitch on row 31of the right (M) chart when it should be a purl stitch, but it just was not a forgiving pattern and my wrists began to protest and my eyes began to go crossed. As such, I had to keep putting it down, stretching my hands and looking at something else.

Finally I finished the first mit and then realized that I had it all to do over again! I now hate this pattern, but only because it makes my wrists hurt so much. But then, weak wrists seem to run in my family and both my mother and sister have had surgery on their wrists because of it, while I actually keep a wrist brace to hand, so maybe it's just me. Maybe it's just my weak wrists, but it sapped all the enjoyment out of this for me.

One final thing to note about this pattern...These mitts are incredibly stretchy. They look really long and narrow in the top photograph, but as you can see, they fit my husbands rather large baby hands perfectly. That's the twisted rib, it's continued the entire length of the palm as well as along the edges so it stretches a lot...or rather shrinks a lot when not on the hands.