Recent knits

Since my sister got me into knitting, I have become a bit obsessed.  As I have said previously, it is the perfect meditation after a busy, stressful day at work, and since my knitting has improved with practice I am really enjoying trying out new techniques.  My recent projects include my orange cowl, which is very lovely and soft, and was quite a time-consuming project.  It is essentially a big rectangle, which you knit from the wide edge, so each row was over 200 stitches!  At the beginning, it took me 15 minutes to knit a row, and by the end I was down to around 10 minutes.

For my last birthday, Lizzie got me the wool and pattern to knit my own pink cashmere bed socks, and they were my first introduction to cabling.  When I look at them now I can see the unevenness as I struggled to find the right way to hold the wool, and keep the tension even (I knitted them before the cowl) but I am still proud of my first proper knitting project.

The wool for my cowl was so gorgeous I bought some in a different colour just on a whim, and then decided to make wrist-warmers with it, to keep my hands and wrists warm while I knit (how very circular).  I have just finished them and am very pleased.  Next project!

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A lovely Christmas present

My mum has just retired, so naturally she is busier than ever.  One of her many current projects involves honing her skills as a potter, and thus I am the grateful recipient of an increasing (but not yet large) number of pieces of pottery.

She gave me this bowl for Christmas, together with a dish and a little pot which are also very lovely.


A little hat

I have been doing lots of knitting recently.  It is calming and meditative, a counterpoint to a busy day spent in front of a screen and piles of paper, speaking to people and reading and writing.  I love the feeling of the wool in my hands, and watching progress being made (sometimes veeerrry slowly, sometimes surprisingly quickly!)

One recent project was a little hat for a newborn, which I will shortly send to my colleague who has just had a little baby boy.  It has a bit of lace in it, which might be slightly ‘girly’, but I’m sure we don’t need to be so gender-prescriptive at this stage (or indeed at any stage).

The pattern is here: the story of a hat.  I used Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, a lovely soft washable wool blend.  I might scale it up and knit it for myself…


Continuation of themes: Valentine’s Day and paper garlands

I am unapologetic about my current enthusiasm for paper garlands and chains.  They are just so visually effective!  For Valentine’s Day I tried out a paper chain instead of garlands (bonus: no lugging out the sewing machine).  I cut a strip of thinnish red craft paper with fibre bits in it that looked like it would be absorbent and fold well, and painted tiny little gold hearts all over it randomly.  When I say ‘painted tiny little hearts’, I mean made little ‘V’ shapes with a small fat paintbrush that would, from a glance, look like hearts.

Then I folded it in a zigzag to make a paper chain, being (mostly) careful to make all the folds the same size.  I cut it into a heart, and voila!

A sweet little paper heart chain, which I then glued into a card.  I glued the right-hand side down, then folded the hearts down onto the card and put glue on the back of the top-most one, then closed the card on the stack to make sure it would open and close properly.

And with that, I will conclude Valentine’s Day for this year.  I think I’ve now properly outed myself as a devotee of all things sweet and pink, as if it wasn’t obvious before!

Golden garlands

In my last post I mentioned some paper garlands I’d sewn for christmas decorations- here they are.

I used up the last of a little pot of Windsor & Newton gold ink which I’ve had for about 10 years by using a big brush to paint rough stripes across some watercolour paper.  I then exercised my scissor-muscles cutting out rough circles from the paper, and fed those through the sewing machine with cream thread.

I think I should probably take them down now, or they won’t look christmassy when I put them up in 10 months time!

Birthday bunting x 2

A long time ago I came across a blog that showed a paper banner made by feeding bits of paper through the sewing machine, which seemed a deceptively easy way to make something very decorative.  I mentally filed it away and thought no more of it until I was playing around with bits of paper to make my mum a birthday card, and thought I’d have a go at making some bunting, which seems to be all over the place in cutesy crafty blogs.  This paper-sewing method seemed to be a way of indulging in a bit of bunting frivolity without making too serious a time commitment to an affection (or affectation) for all things cute.

Making the bunting involved painting some watercolour paper in rainbow washes of colour, waiting for it to dry, and then cutting it into triangles.  I stacked up all the triangles, sat down at the sewing machine, and fed them through.  There were a few snags figuring out the machine’s tolerance for sewing paper and dropping stitches (which is how to get the little bit of space in between each piece of paper) but I got there in the end.

The result made me happier than I have been with a craft project for a long time, mostly because I wasn’t expecting it to actually work.  With most projects I have a vision of how I want it to look, and then I’m a bit disappointed when it necessarily looks different to how I’d imagined it.  This bunting was BETTER than I’d imagined.  Proof that the easiest way to exceed expectations is to lower them first!  I was so pleased, in fact, that I proceeded to make some for my dad for his birthday, and also make some christmas garlands along a similar theme which I’ll take a photo of at some point as they are, in late January, still hanging up in the flat.  I take the view that white and gold garlands are not season-specific, myself.

I neglected to take photos of the completed bunting I made my dad, but I was a bit more experimental with the colours and took a photo of the finished ‘painting’ before the paper was cut into triangles:

I painted this sheet by doing stripes of blue, stripes of orange, etc all quite spaced out, and then trying to fill them in with colours that would contrast next to one another.  A sort of random-yet-planned colour splash.  Up until the final few stripes were applied, I was not happy with how it was turning out and almost scrumpled it up to start again, but once I’d finished I was glad I hadn’t.

The result was very cheerful, and I am sure to be deploying this particular crafty idea for celebratory events in the future!


Knitting appreciation

My sister Lizzie is a champion knitter (as is my mummy also.. see her posts here and here about her beautiful lacy knitting, some of which I was lucky enough to be the recipient of!)  Lizzie is also very patient with my demands and commissions for various knitted items, the latest two being mug cosies and a hot water bottle cover.  These are still in the design and manufacturing stages (I hope, unless she’s decided not to make them after all!) but I am already the proud possessor of a fantastic tea cosy.

She doesn’t have a blog, preferring to spend her time actually knitting (very sensible, I think), so I thought I would show off her superior knitting skills here.  Below is a photo of the tea cosy in its proper milieu, on the breakfast table with my egg, which was ably prepared for me by Mr. Meg who suggested I point out what an ‘eggspert’ he has become with things like poached eggs.  And he’s right- I wasn’t quick enough to photograph his poached eggs before they were in his belly, but they did look astoundingly tasty.

So, returning to knitting, Lizzie and I were very excited to spot some ‘guerrilla knitting’ in Munich.  I had seen some before in the UK, but am very impressed that it’s such an international phenomenon.  The cleverest one I’ve come across so far was in Bristol, where until recently there were painted gorillas scattered around the city as a public art project and then auctioned off to raise money for the Bristol Zoo.  I spotted one of these sculptures wearing a knitted bikini, which would be what can only be described as ‘gorilla guerrilla knitting’.  Brilliant.  Sadly I had no camera with me, but I was better prepared this time.

Isn’t it wonderful?  A bit of whimsy and random beauty on the street, for all to enjoy.  And an excellent use of yarns which might not have such obvious everyday application, at least not in my wardrobe.

I think this one is a bit of guerrilla knitting and also guerrilla painting of some kind.  As a not-terribly-great knitter who could perhaps contribute to this trend in some other medium, I was interested to see this approach.

So, keep your eyes peeled for random bits of knitting adorning objects in your city…