Friday, 21 December 2012

Emily's blanket, and where it's going next

So I rectangled-off the crochet blanket. I did a crochet border round the whole thing - one row of treble crochet in white, one row in a coloured variegated yarn (I think it's Sirdar Crofter?) and another row of white. Then I wanted to do something different.

If you follow my crochet and knitted blankets board on Pinterest you might have seen this garter stitch striped blanket from completely cauchy. I love that blanket, I love it so, so much. But I know my own attention span and I know I'd never finish a full bed-sized knitted blanket (much like I haven't finished this crochet one!). A border though, I thought I could manage that. So here we go.

My coloured DK yarn was all thrown in a big bag so I sorted it out and wound it all up, the bigger balls:

And the littler ones:

Then I cast on 25 stitches and started going. The only rule is I have to change the colour on the right side. I try to balance the colours and the lights/darks but I don't really have a plan, just choose whatever seems like it would work next or that I haven't used in a while.

I think it's turning out pretty well! I'm not going to sew it onto the blanket until it's finished, because that will make it too bulky to work on I think. I'll just have to watch out for when I need to turn a corner. And after the garter stitch is finished, I'm not sure if it'll need something else as a final border just to finish it off. We'll see.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Knitting Pattern: Arundel Gloves

My new glove knitting pattern is finally finished!

These gloves feature a lace cuff (knit flat):

And an arrow design on the back of the hand, made using twisted stitches:

There are also instructions for a covered buttonhole on a finger of your choice, so you can use your smartphone on cold days without taking the whole glove off!

You can buy the pattern now through Ravelry - you don't need a Ravelry account.

Monday, 10 December 2012

I knitted a hat

I made myself a new hat!

That is me on the right.

It's a basic woolly hat with a ribbed brim. I used some cream-coloured aran yarn (Sirdar Denim, I think? The band is long gone), held double with a different coloured aran or chunky yarn, whatever I had hanging about the place, in four-row stripes. 8mm needles. I think maybe it needs a bobble to finish it off.

Linking up with Handmade Monday again today, why not go and take a look at all the lovely blogs!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Friday, 30 November 2012

WIP Friday: Emily's Blanket

Do you remember the crochet blanket I was making for Emily's eventual bed? I'm afraid to say it still looks pretty much the same as it did back when I first talked about it.

I love the squares I've done so far and I think it looks brilliant but I got onto other things and this got put to one side.

I don't like having projects hanging about. UFOs stress me out. This blanket was in its bag, then I put the yarn away upstairs and the blanket-part was lying on the back of the sofa, where it does look lovely, but every time I saw it I'd think about how much work there was left to do on it. So I'm weighing up my options on what to do with it.

Option 1: Finish it. The problem is I don't know if this will ever happen. More likely it will hang around for years, making me feel guilty and stressed because it's another thing I need to do.

Option 2: Square it off (or oblong it off) with a few more smaller squares and use it as a decorative piece for the sofa. Pretty but I'd like it to be functional.

Option 3: Make it a bit wider - another big-square wider or so - and it can be a bed runner. Again, would look nice but not very useful and would get thrown on the floor a lot I think.

Option 4: Square/oblong it off, then make it a bit larger with a wide border or two, and it can be a sofa blanket. I have a crochet sofa blanket, but it keeps disappearing.

Writing it all out like that has helped me see what I want to do. Option 4 it is. Time to think about borders.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Why I don't knit Christmas presents

There's an advert on UK TV at the moment for I think Phones4U (or someone similar - anyway it's working on the principle that what everyone wants for Christmas is a shiny new mobile). In one scene, a granny is shown knitting in front of the fire and she says 'I knit all my Christmas presents.' The voiceover replies 'Well, you shouldn't,' and my husband laughs.

I don't knit Christmas presents. I have knitted a few birthday presents in the past - a couple of pairs of socks for friends and a scarf for my mother-in-law - all specifically requested by the recipient. And I knit for new babies. But it seems from Ravelry and the blogs I read that every other knitter is knitting away furiously on an unending pile of scarfs and socks and thingymabobs to give to their entire extended family. I don't do that.

The main reason is just that me being a knitter does not necessarily mean that the people around me want to receive knitted things. Not that I'm surrounded by ungrateful louts, but if I knit a lovely pair of socks for everyone I know that most wouldn't be appreciated. The only people who know how much work goes into knitting pair of socks are quite capable of knitting their own. I love, truly love, to give and receive handmade gifts, but I know that not many people feel the same way. A gift should be what the recipient wants to receive, not what the giver wants to give.

The other main issue is time. Sample knitting and the things I want to make for myself and the girls (who really do appreciate it, and love the things I make them just because I made them) take up all my spare time. Knitting Christmas presents would cause me a huge amount of stress and turn my leisure time into another 'to do', with a deadline. A deadline that is already stressful enough (there will be seventeen people in my house on Christmas day! Fourteen of them adults. Fortunately I'm not doing the cooking).

And the final point is that it doesn't even save any money, really. I don't have a huge stash I can draw from so I'd have to buy the materials specially. So I might as well just buy a present and wrap it up. Something they'll like, or at least if they don't, I won't feel personally rejected!

Do you knit (or crochet, or sew, or otherwise) Christmas presents? For everybody or a few special people? Am I just lazy?

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Recipe: Pizza

Not a lot to blog about this week! I'm afraid I've become one of those terribly annoying bloggers with Secret Knitting. Also we all have terrible colds and just want to lie about like sausages. I need to stand up in a bit though and make some pizza dough. So for want of something to blog about, here's how I make pizzas.

For the dough

This needs to be made at least 2-3 hours before you want to eat. In the morning or early afternoon is fine, and it also freezes really well. This recipe makes enough for about 4 large pizzas so I usually freeze half of it then I don't have to make it next time.

3.5 cups of flour
2 packets dry active yeast
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
1 tsp oil

Put flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a stand mixer bowl fitted with a dough hook. Turn on and add water gradually while the mixer is running. Once it's made a nice dough, leave to mix for another 5-10 minutes, then turn off. Remove hook. Make dough into a ball and roll in the oil. Cover bowl with cling film and put it somewhere warm (like the airing cupboard) to rise.

For the tomato sauce

About half an hour before you want to eat, empty a can of chopped tomatoes into the blender and blend until smooth. Tip into a saucepan and warm over a medium heat, along with a generous shake of dried Italian herbs and a squirt of tomato puree.

To make up

Preheat the oven to 180C. Flour the working surface and grease your baking trays. Roll out about a quarter of the dough into a pizza shape and put on the tray. Add sauce, cheese (I usually use grated mozarella from a bag) and whatever toppings you like (we like pepperoni). Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes.

Pizza! Yum. I'd better get on and make that dough instead of just talking about it.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Salt Dough Christmas Decorations

Laura was at home yesterday as her school was a polling station and I was surprised to find that having both girls here meant less intervention from me, not more - they played together so nicely! And for so long! I got lots of work done.

I did have one activity planned though. In the morning I made up some salt dough (half a cup of salt, half a cup of water, a cup of flour) and the girls rolled it out and cut out shapes. Over lunchtime I dried them out in the oven, then the girls painted them. An hour or two later and it was time for glitter glue and sequins. Now I just need to put some yarn loops on them and they are ready for the Christmas tree!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Baking time

A little bit ago my sister Jen posted this cookie recipe on her blog. I had most of the ingredients so I bought some Smarties and gave it a go.

Yum yum!

This recipe makes delicious cookies, lovely and chewy in the middle. I've tried a few more variations since then. I replaced a bit of the flour with cocoa and added some peppermint essence and dark chocolate - that was OK, but using mint-flavoured chocolate would have been easier and more effective. I put some bits of bonfire toffee in with the plain mixture and the toffee melted and make the whole cookie chewy and toffee-flavoured, will definitely do that one again! And peanut M&Ms are a good addition although they were a bit big and chunky for the cookies, I might bash them up a bit next time.

Linking up with Handmade Monday again, lots of lovely blogs there as always!

Friday, 9 November 2012

In progress

My linen stitch scarf is continuing nicely:

And my spindle is filling up:

It's not that easy to see but I think it's much more consistent in width than the previous yarn.

Oh, and there's this. Always this.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Tiny winter cardigans

I had a message from someone who wanted two Lati Yellow winter cardigans, but not in the usual red and white. Instead she wanted cream and pink

And grey and lilac

Taking pictures in autumn it was hard to get the colours to show up - there is pink in the top one, honestly! But these two little cardigans are now ready to go, I hope she likes them!

Joining up with Handmade Monday again, go and take a look at all the lovely blogs!

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Monday, 29 October 2012

More spinning

I made some yarn! Proper yarn. Don't look at it too closely and it looks fairly impressive, I think. I even managed to twist it up pretty neatly.

Towards the end of spinning this yarn I was starting to feel like I had the knack of it, it would go wonderfully for a bit, then I'd stuff it up, then I'd have another while of it going beautifully, then it'd go too thin and break and the spindle would go flying across the living room and startle the cat. But I think I'm ready to start the pretty roving I bought in London now.

Joining in with Handmade Monday again, do go and take a look!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Crochet squares

I recently found some 6" blanket squares that I made back when I was first learning to crochet. A lot of those got used up in the Big Blue Throw but there were still a few left over.

I looked around online to see if any charity would want them but they all seem to take 8" squares, not 6" ones. Fortunately that was not too difficult to sort out!

Now I just need to decide where I'm going to send them.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Monday, 22 October 2012

Linen Stitch Scarf

So I have started a new knitting project, but it doesn't use any of my new yarn! That is still being looked at and swatched and pondered over. In the meantime, I've started a linen stitch scarf using the contents of my 4-ply and sock yarn stash box.

I love linen stitch; it's time-consuming and grows slowly but it makes such a lovely fabric. And I love how you can take a big pile of yarn in all different colours, like this:

And end up with all the colours mixed beautifully:

This will keep my fingers busy while I'm thinking about all the lovely things I could make from my new yarn! And it's easy to pick up when I have a few minutes.

Linking up with Handmade Monday again, go and take a look at all the lovely blogs!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Reasons to be cheerful

(via Mum of All Trades)

I'm somehow between major knitting projects at the moment, which means I could knit ANYTHING. I've been doing some swatching with my new yarns and there is so much lovely potential.

Mark made two delicious ginger cakes last night.

Emmy snuggling up for a kiss (very flash-y, sorry)

Laura is happily making robots, Emily is drawing, I'm about to put the kettle on. Happy Sunday morning!

Monday, 15 October 2012

Knitting & Stitching Show 2012

So on Saturday Mum and I went to the Knitting & Stitching Show at the Alexandra Palace in London. We've decided this now has to be a regular annual thing for us as we both have such a good time!

We got the tube to Wood Green then the W3 bus up to the Alexandra Palace. There are shuttle buses for the show but they were very busy so we took the normal bus (we both had Travelcards so it didn't cost us anything). At Wood Green station I spotted this lovely grill on the platform and couldn't resist taking a photo:

The show was brilliant. So much too look at, our main focus was the yarn but we also saw many pretty buttons, ribbons, fabric and accessories. My lovely husband had saved up some spending money for me so I was able to get a few things, they will probably see me through to next year's show to be honest!

We had our dinner at the Pizza Express opposite St Pancras. The old building, which has now been completely restored, looks so beautiful. The inside of the station is stunning too. Much nicer to arrive there on a Thameslink train than previously when you alighted in a basement at Kings Cross.

And now most importantly, what did I buy? Lots of pretty colours!

James C. Brett Moonlight Sonata in a blue/green/yellow/sparkles mix. I love the glittery bits, which aren't showing up in the photo unfortunately. This will be a scarf.

Drops Delight in a pink/purple mix. I've seen the Drops patterns online of course but never seen the yarn for sale in the UK before. This stall was very popular, after picking up one ball I got elbowed out of the way and had to fight my way back to the shelf to get the second! This will be socks.

Malabrigo Sock in Tizano Red. My first Malabrigo! I've heard a lot about their yarns but not seen them in person before. Gorgeous yarn in a beautiful red. Destined to be another pair of socks.

And finally, some dyed wool tops for spinning. They had a huge range of colours and it was very difficult to choose! I have 100g total so hopefully that will be enough for a scarf or a hat.

I do have a couple of things I want to finish before I can dive in with this new yarn, so I've put it all on the shelves above my desk so I can look at it and enjoy it until I have a chance to use it.

Friday, 12 October 2012

In which I prove that I actually did the things I said I would do

Laura's jumper!

Laura loves the jumper and wants to wear it all the time. Still love that flower.

And Emily's sleeves!

I was sure I was using the same yarn to extend the sleeves, but it really doesn't match, does it? Has the cardigan faded that much? Or is it in fact a different ball of yarn? I really don't know. The sleeves are both the same though so I've decided to let it go. It's not as if Emily cares, and now she has warm wrists.

And tomorrow we (me and my Mum) are going to the Knitting & Stitching Show! I'm very excited. Last year we had such a great day out. I hope this year is just as good. I will tell you all about it on Monday.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Monday, 8 October 2012

Monday jumpers

Laura's jumper is nearly finished, just needs sewing up. Hopefully I will get that finished today and she can try it on later. Always a bit nerve-wracking making an item of clothing for someone.

Very long time readers may remember this cardigan I made for Laura back in 2009. Emily wears it now, and it still fits her fine round the body, but the sleeves are too short. I have more of the yarn so later today or tomorrow I'm going to cut off the blue sleeve edging, pick up and knit the cream sleeve longer, then add a new edging. I still love that little cardigan - so simple and quick, but so cosy and easy to wear. Definitely worth the time to make it fit a bit better.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Emily's Trousers

Emily is a bum-shuffler. Her preferred method of locomotion is to sit on her bum and pull herself along with her feet. She's been doing this for over a year now and, as you might imagine, it has rather a detrimental effect on her trousers.

(she very rarely wears dresses - bare legs on the floor get sore, and tights develop holes after a couple of wearings)

I'm loathe to buy her new trousers, as she will surely be walking soon (surely) (oh please) and then I can buy new ones knowing that they are safe from holes. So I collected her best, warmest pairs of trousers, and found some thick bits of fabric, and made some patches.

Then I sewed them in place with three rows of coloured stitching. By hand, because using the machine on toddler-sized trousers seemed far too fiddly.

Emily is helpfully showing you the new patches. 'Trousers!' she says. It's a good job she's so adorable.

(and to forestall some of the comments, yes, her doctor is aware that she's not walking. It's all under control)

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Monday, 1 October 2012

Happy October!

I've finished the front of Laura's jumper. Here's the flower:

Just the sleeves to go.

I made some bread this morning because I found a half-used packet of seedy bread flour in the cupboard. I just used the recipe on the packet and it turned out quite yummy although possibly I should have left it to rise for a bit longer. I don't really have the patience for bread I think. But it was nice with soup.

I'm linking up with Handmade Monday again, why not take a look at all the lovely blogs linked up.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Lacy Sweater for Laura

Laura's jumpers are getting a bit tight so I turned to Ravelry to find a suitable pattern for a new one. In the end I chose the Lacy Sweater by Zoƫ Mellor - I love the flower motif on the front! So far I've finished the back and started on the edging for the front. It's a Rowan pattern and knit traditionally in pieces but that's fine by me, I don't mind a bit of seaming.

The yarn is some that I got from Freecycle a couple of years ago. It's acrylic but feels quite soft and is nice to knit with. Laura loves the pattern so hopefully she will like the finished jumper too!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012