Friday, 28 September 2012

A bit of cottage chic


A couple of weeks ago I was thinking about new products for my etsy shops.  I think just lately I have been swept away with the whole baby thing and knitting machines, and it was definately time I knuckled down and did some good old fashioned 'hard' work! I say 'hard' but its not truly hard in the sense of the word, because crafting always has remained a pleasure for me.

I decided it was time to go back to my roots, you know the old 'stick with what you know' theme, and I came up with this design.  Simply a panel of four granny squares set on a white background to make them really pop and a granny stripe boarder.  I haven't made anything homey in such a long time it really was a pleasure!!! The colours I've used are some of my absolute favourite, and I think they look really well combined together.  A bit of cottage oldie-worldy charm for your home <3 font="font">

The back is just simple stripey bands of colours :)  I actually really like this design too and might make some more like this.  A nice little pop of colour.  I like designing cushions that have different fronts and back, because I'm often changing the 'look' of my own home, and with these you kind of get two 'looks' for the price of one!

I tried to get a bit of a closer look at the buttons on the back of the cushion, they are ones I've had in my button stash so they're a bit mis-matched but I think the colours are really happy and complimnetary!

A nice little happy pop of granny chic for your home :)

The cushion cover is available to buy in my etsy shop now!
I think it would make a nice little gift for someone who's decorating a nursery for a baby girl, something a bit different to give at a baby shower!

It felt good to get back to my roots again and get a bit of crochet on the go.  I think that my crochet skills have far surpassed my knitting ones, even though I started knitting when I was just a little girl and crochet when I was a teenager.  My aunt taught me how to crochet, I used to go stay at her house sometimes at the weekend, we would have a chinese and she would show me how to crochet.  She could only do granny squares, but I was immediatley smitten! I've since self taught my self crochet.  I am left handed too so instead of working anti-clockwise, I just go clockwise or from left to right.  I don't really think it has made a difference to anything that I've produced so far, except that my stitches lean the opposite way :)
For anyone wanting to learn how to crochet, I would say give it a go, you can get a couple of hooks fairly cheaply nowadays, maybe start with a 4mm and something a bit larger so that you can see you stitches when you practise.  There are a host of tutorials all over the web, and videos on you tube that show you a variety of techniques for beginning chains and stitches etc.  I always found it easier to read charts often found in the japanese crochet books to begin with rather than written instructions, but again, that's probably more to do with my left handed-ness than anything else.

If you're in doubt about whether crochet is for you, why not check out some of the amazing things people have made over on pintrest or flickr, its not all granny squares you know!

Happy crocheting xxx

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Knitware designer

I'm totally frustrated that I found some reasonably cheap software for drafting my own machine knitting patterns, with a free demo trial before you buy thingy and I cannot get it to download on my laptop ughhhhhhhh!

*bangs head on table several times*

Its sooooo annoying, because other people seem to have managed it perfectly well, and because design a knit software costs too much for my almost non existant budget to cope with.

Also, I'm having problems understanding what a knit radar is and whether it will work on any knitting machine? I mean that would be so useful to chart your own patterns in that way but with my modest machine I don't think it will work?!

It's so frustrating the lack of comprehensive machine knitting information for the 'newbie', most people assume you already have all the know how!

Ok, breathe, rant over!

I'm going to uninstall all the files I just downloaded but can't open *grimace*

I wish I was more tech savvy lol

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

All things fair isle


 Just recently I seem to have gone completely dotty over all things fair isle! I've always secretly haboured desires to knit myself a pair of amazing patterned nordic style mittens such as the ones pictured above, in fact, I think I seem to recall that one of my crafty new years resolutions this year was to learn fair isle techniques.  I've always been put off before having visions of my knitting ending up in a big tangly mess :)  Since getting my knitmaster, fair isle has been cropping up in my thoughts more and more often, and as soon as a new yarn buying opportunity presents itself, I may well indulge in a bit of machine - knitty - fair isle action! Also, I may point out that I have never before knit on dpns, so nothing too ambitious here!

There's something very christmassy about fair isle don't you think?  I wondered if there was a crochet version of fair isle, I've tried various methods of trying to crochet with two different colours and it's never really worked for me! I don't know if this is something to do with my left handedness? After a walk in the woods this morning with baby g and the mr I realised that its getting a tad nippy out and about right now, and it may well be time for a mitteny/ scarf project.  I found the above crochet mittens whilst searching for patterns online, its from the crochet now or crochet today website, I cant really remember which one, and seems to be the closest thing I've come across to Nordic Mittens crochet style.  I must admit I'm not really keen to be honest, they just look so much better knitted!

This blanket, did however catch my eye, its crochet and fair isle ish, I wonder how this was acheived? It's opened up a whole new realm of hookey opportunities that I feel I must explore.  Crochet fair isle sounds like it would be soooooo much easier than knitty fair isle, and even easier than knitty fair isle on dpns!!!  I'm excitedly trying to find some form of instruction so that I can commence hooking soon! At the minute I've been knitting baby clothes on the machine, and making up some new cushion covers for my etsy shops.  Now that the chilly weather has started to set in I feel like I need to update my shop products, so it will be hooks away from me :)

Have a good week folks xx

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Machine Knitting Adventures

You may remember a few weeks back I posted about my little forray into the world of machine knitting, and that it didn't really start too well.  Today, I'm picking up the tale.  At the time when I bid on the bond knitting machine, because I kept getting pipped at the post for a number of knitting machines, I also bid on a knitmaster 4500. And won. This model is super vintage, and dates all the way back from the 1950s.  After winning the machine, there was a little confusion when it didnt arrive for ages, and instead I opened a package containing a retro red lamp, you can imagine my disappointment.  The ebay seller had gotten her two parcels mixed up and arranged for the lamp to be picked up and re-delivered to its new owner, and likewise with my knitting machine.  Well I waited and waited and waited and still it didn't arrive, after a few frantic emails back and forth the kind lady agreed to a full refund, she then happened to get in touch with the woman who my parcel had been wrongly sent to and got a tracking number and the parcel had been accidently posted to my lovely next door neighbours, who thank-fully had kept the parcel thinking it belonged to the previous owner of their house and that she would call and collect it! Imagine my delight!!! My vintage knitmaster came in its original packaging, and it was verrrrrry dirty/dusty/unloved.  I cleaned and polished and scrubbed all the dust and dirt away and gave the machine a good oiling, I've also had to re-arrange some of the needles which were broken and place these towards the outer edges.  Now my knitmaster works! And, more importantly I can knit on it!!

In the above picture, the hat (my first machine knitting project) was made using the machine, It made up soooo quick.  I can tell you it's quite a work out zipping the carriage back and forth across the needles, towards the end I was flying weeeeeee!!!!

I dont think machine knitting can ever replace hand knitting though, and I still use my sticks just as much the little booties in the set were hand knit ::

Cute huh?! The pattern was from my highly coveted Bergere pattern book.  I really love the patterns in these books, but sometimes I really struggle to read and make sense of the pattern, they're a bit more abbreviated than usual patterns!

Still, I think they turned out fine!

They are knitted with 4ply yarn which I held double for the booties so they are a bit thicker and snugglier :)

The set is available in my storms end etsy shop.

I'm already well ahead with my next project which is currently blocking on my ironing board.  I can't wait to take some pictures!!! eeek!!!
I'm hoping that I will be able to do some fair isle designs on the knitting machine too, although I'm not sure how difficult this would be, because its an old machine it doesn't have any fancy pants punch card attachments or anything, so it would all have to be done by hand in much the same way as normal knitting.  I would definately recommend a vintage knitmaster to anyone considering dipping into machine knitting, a) because you can pick them up fairly cheaply from the internet - mine cost me £10 from ebay b)there's nothing too technical, no having to replace pesky sponge bars like you do with newer machines, no having to hang claw weights because it has ingenious sinker plates to maintain tension (good for when your knitting something tidgy like socks) so you can use it without having to have too much know how and little outlay, then if you love it you can always 'upgrade' to something a bit more modern! Knitting machines are a real help if your making things like blankets or jumpers when you need to make lots of rows of stocking stitch and if you get you're guage swatches right you can transfer your knitting back on to normal needles to do fancy stitches or complicated shaping.

I am dissappointed with the lack of 'modern' patterns available, I mean I know there are alot of older ladies who knit on these things, but us 20 - somethings would like something to wear too! Also alot of 'machine' knitting blogs/posts on the internet all say how easy it is to convert hand knitted patterns to machine knit, but thats all they say, no elaboration on to how you might go about doing this, its all a bit assumed! The other thing that was quite annoying is that I really wanted some books from amazon about using a knitting machine but they were priced at like £50-60, crazy huh?! There's also knitting pattern drafting software you can get for your comeputer, but this is quite pricey again, costing hundreds of pounds, I think it would be a good investment if you could afford it though.

Well, I will keep you updated on all my crafty happenings soon! :)
Take care my lovelies xx

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Surviving the summer holidays

So, the summer holidays have come swiftly to and end and I SURVIVED!!!! I did manage to fit quite a few makes into the holiday period, some photographed, more not.  Mostly though our holidays have been given over to having fun on a budget (not the easiest of tasks) and I think we came up trumps! Lots of visits to our newly discovered, fairly local park which has lots of super cool things to play on, and a skatepark to keep the bigger kids entertained and out of the way :)  Baby G can now slide down the slide on his belly all by himself (woohoo) and its his absolute most favourite thing to do.  We had fun in our garden, at the beach, and at the woods.  We had picnics and sometimes macdonalds as a treat, we've even had barbeques and alfresco dining, and eating in homemade tents, mostly though we've had lots of family fun, just as it should be!
On the making front, I've made lots of these little guys ::

 I made the pattern myself, I'm sooo proud!  They are cute little owl cozy's and a great little project to use up left over yarn, I made mine to fit an iphone but I think the pattern could easily be adapted to fit other phones.  Too cute!!

I also made these::

 I found the pattern for a hello kitty granny square floating around on ravelry and just HAD to try it out! I <3 a="a" and="and" cute="cute" font="font" have="have" hello="hello" i="i" kitty="kitty" look="look" made="made" massive="massive" of="of" pile="pile" really="really" the="the" them="them" think="think">
Some of them have been transformed into cute little coin purses like this one

It has the kitty motif for the front and then a floral granny motif for the back, its lined with matching felt so your pennies dont fall out before you get to the shop :)

They are only really small, just the size of a regular granny square about 6/7" but good for slipping a bit of change in for pocket money, dinner money, etc.  Did I mention that they're really, really cute?

I'm also part way through a hello kitty bag, which is currently on hold pending more yarn :(

I thought I'd share a few snaps with you of some of our holiday adventures.  This is a real hidden gem in the lincolshire countryside and a place I've visited very often called Elsham Hall.  Its a beautiful countryside walk with a huge lake where you can feed the fish and ducks, a little farm with animals and a ig playground with lots of play equipment!

Here are the boys feeding the ducks and fish, Baby G got a little excited and got very near the edge of the lake more than once!

This super house was one that had been rescued from someone's garden, it dates from the 1700s and most of the interior is original, the outer walls have been plastered with a kind of mud, hence it being called the 'mud' cottage.  It's been erected using traditional techniques and would have been a typical agricultural workers cottage.

The walk takes you right around the lake past formal gardens and a butterfly garden.
I think its just stunning, don't you?