Sunday, 28 November 2010

Quilted Things: blue & purple container

I just realised that I never blogged about my second quilting project (not counting the pot-holders) from last year.

Here it is:

A view of the inside:

And the whole thing laid flat (I inserted a zipper across the diagonal in the bottom layer):

Here are a few views of the assembly process:

I since discovered that I am not using the correct techniques because I am basically self-taught.  I had tried to find classes before I started but didn't find any in or easily reachable from central London, or they took place at the wrong time of day.  There were some really nice ones I found: a whole weekend thing with accommodation which sounds really wonderful, however, way beyond my financial means.

I then tried my favourite method of learning something: self teaching from books.  I found a good book which does cover basics - but unfortunately at several points I just didn't follow the explanations.  I was left bewildered and confused!  And I like to think of myself as someone who does pick things up easily.  But quilting is very much something that you learn easily when someone shows you, but it is not at all easy to describe.  Even diagrams or photos don't necessarily help.

I also kept going onto the Internet (sites like and did find quite a bit of information that I could follow - like chain-piecing, or how to do the inside pattern.  The one thing I didn't think to try YouTube!  Would have been too easy I suppose.  That's the place I finally learnt how to attach the binding that goes round the edge, something I hadn't figured out yet with this project (but I have since!).

I don't think that it mattered too much with this project that I didn't have a clue what I was doing.  I think my idea for putting a zip into the bottom (to lie the whole thing flat when not in use) is, not to put too fine a point on it, rather fabulous.  Imminently practical anyway...

The idea was to make a container you can put into the boot of your car: any of those loose items that keep rolling about in there (you know: loaf of bread, a couple of water bottles, bunch of bananas, that sort of thing: the stuff you end up putting down separately because you've run out of space in your grocery bags or collapsible boot boxes) - you can just chuck them into that, fold the top over a bit, and Bob's your uncle!

It was a present (Christmas last year) and my Mum was delighted.  I have the sneaking suspicion that she likes everything I make for her, but I also feel that she was really taken with this...

So much so that she declared it was much too nice for putting into her car!  She would, at times, use it unzippered, as a quilt, in the house too.  That's fine, I'm very pleased that she is finding more uses for this than intended, but it was meant to live in the car!

I guess the best thing to do would be for me to make her a proper quilt, wouldn't it?  Sounds like a really good idea... {update to follow}

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

As requested... Madelinetosh Vintage kerchief

Fridica wondered what I would do with my new Madelinetosh Vintage yarn.  Here it is: my Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief.  I think the Thunderstorm colourway is perfect for this!

YarnMadelinetosh Vintage (worsted)
PatternThe Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief

I made the same kerchief as a present for a friend before:

YarnColinette Jitterbug in Raspberry
Needles4 mm

With one project off the needles, I started a new one (as you do):

I am calling this my Chrysanthemum shawl.  You can't see the flower shapes that well just yet, the inner pattern looks a bit like something woven, the flower shapes then follow on - but I am still within the first repeat, so not that much to show just yet.

The pattern is Sanne Kalkman's Percy Shawl pattern on Ravelry, - I am thinking of leaving the edge pattern out and instead continuing the Chart B flower pattern for most of the shawl and just binding off in a straight edge.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

My crafty state of play

Part II.  It's November and I still have as many works in progress projects as I did in June.  Some of them still the same ones, some of them are new.

My aqua Malabrigo shawl is finished as is my heathered blue Niebling shawl.  The Alpaca shawl in dark red is also done - do I detect a pattern here that I managed to finish the three shawls out of these five projects and left the two garments incompleted?  I'm not even wearing any of these three shawls very often - and I would get more use out of these:

My EZ 'Green' Sweater

The Debbie Bliss Prima halterneck summer top
The Dolman Sleeve cardigan (otherwise knows as the Elizabeth Zimmermann Green Sweater) just needs some buttons and button loops adding, and the Halterneck Summer Top needs straps.

It might help if I picked out some buttons, maybe that would motivate me?  For the Summer Top I need an idea of what pattern I want to use to make nice broad straps.  They should hide the bra straps and could be in quite a fancy pattern, I'd love something like a square with four leaves in the round, and adding as many squares as are needed to get the length of the straps.

Some of my other 'almost there' projects are these:

Also Debbie Bliss Prima

Trachtentuch B by Engeln
Bamboo summer top

The green Prima top has wing sleeves, they are not attached all the way round.  I need to neaten up the raw edges of the arm scye, they look awful just now.

The Trachtentuch needs to be cast off and then I want to dye this.  It is undyed sock yarn from Violet Green - I haven't made my mind up yet what colour I want this to be.  I am toying with either a rosé (a muted pink) or a brown that's in between a rich chocolatey to a dark cocoa bean brown?

And the Bamboo summer top needs some flower petals adding to the stalks (my gauge was out by so much that I didn't want to insert bobbles only to find later that I didn't like their placement) and then I want to dye this as well.  The chalky blue colour doesn't do anything for my complexion (I look a bit ill in it) so I'd like this to be a darker blue.

And these are just some of my items that are close to completion but languishing in WIP hell for now!

Wollmeise Arrived at Loop!

It's not fair!  I had such good intentions to rein in my out-of-control yarn stash buying and Loop goes and gets Wollmeise!  As of today, Sat 6 November.

So of course I had to go and check it out, I'd have kicked myself if I hadn't and then come across other people's reports on what I missed out on...  I think I may have become a yarn 'collector' {cough} even if that's blantantly such a very lame excuse...

So here we go.  I splurged on Wollmeise 100% Merino Superwash (superwash! Great!) in a lovely bright mid pink called Tutu Dark.  The skein is a generous 150g and cost £22 (making it £7 something for 50g).  The needle size given is 2.0-2.5 mm.

I'm thinking Christmas present (pss!) and shawl, and therefore in at least 3.25 mm... my fingers are starting to itch to start this...

Then I bought the Wollmeise Lacegarn as well (Garn is German for yarn) - the price for this seems a bit high at £36.50 but it is 300g (making it £6 for 50g) and a whooping 1722 yards.  It was the colour as well as the name of the colour that pushed me into buying this.

I love the way Wollmeise names her yarns: this one is called 'Ein klein wenig verrucht'.  Now I do know German but I was a bit stumped at the time, I was thinking of 'verraucht' which would mean 'smokey' - but it is 'verrucht' instead.  That means disreputable, profligate or wicked.  It makes me think of 1920s Berlin nightclubs, Liza Minelli in Cabaret, that sort of thing.  Which is where we're back to smokey again... Oh well.

I love the idea of having a 'disreputable' yarn!  Now I just need an idea of what to make with it... Inspiration will undoubtedly strike.

While I was there I couldn't resist looking around in case anything else wanted to jump off the shelves and into my hands.  Of course there was something:

Madelinetosh Vintage - in colourway: Thunderstorm. It is quite black and grey but there are undertones of blue in there too.  Gorgeous!  I couldn't leave that behind.  Plus I got another notch on my loyalty card.  I'm such a sucker for that...  They must have invented that with me in mind.

This says 4.25-4.5 mm and is also superwash merino (I like that a lot!)

I'm in yarn heaven!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Trachtentuch A by Erich Engeln

This pattern is for an old-fashioned shawlette that used to be worn with a Dirndl (the folk dress of women in the Tyrol or in Bavaria) - I suspect that those ends would get tucked into the generously cut neckline of the Dirndl top, whichwould explain why they extend quite so far diagonally across.  Or perhaps into a belt?

I loved knitting this.  It was fun and quick.

The edges make this a bit of an odd shape - every two rows you increase by six stitches: one each side of the centre stitch, as well as another two stitches at each edge.  It makes the ends of this shawlette dangle down and start to twist in a spiral.

I used:
YarnFour Seasons Hot Socks Spectra
Needles3.25mm circular
PatternTrachtentuch A by Erich Engeln

I bought the yarn from a stall at an annual fair in Germany.  I had never heard of the company Gründl and thought it was something like Noro or Lana Grossa instead.  Isn't it nice when you discover a new yarn kind of by accident!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Finally finished!

I am very happy: my black Brioche stitch neckwarmer is -finally- finished!

I need to go back a bit to explain the 'finally' part of it.  I started knitting about 30 or so years ago, give or take.  Then about a good dozen years ago, I stopped.  I know why: I got stuck when I knit my first self-designed (literally off the top of my head) top-down garment: the Black and White "Piano Key" top because I didn't know how to do the underarm area.  (I later learnt that you need to cast on about two inches of new stitches, knit into the sleeves on one side of it, and into the body on the other)

My hiatus from knitting found an end with this project: a simple scarf.  At the time I had aimlessly searched for the word 'spiral' on Google images.  Up came this photo on Red Threads blog, well eventually.  I really liked those buttons and then I looked at the neckwarmer too: nice!

For some reason that was enough to inspire me.  I had seen the yarn shop All the Fun of the Fair on the Internet and thought the name was fun.  Now I had a reason to go check it out.

I got some Patons Smoothie DK yarn in black.  It is gorgeous and glossy, I love black (I know: a very un-knitterly thing), it wasn't too expensive so I thought: I might as well.

That's how I began to knit again after that long time.  I just didn't understand the instructions for Brioche stitch in the pattern.  Not being used to reading pattern instructions in English (it is not my mother tongue) I got stuck at 'slip a stitch'.  Hunh?  How does that work?  Slip a stitch, in what direction? From what needle, and where to?  Surely it can't mean to slip a stitch off the needle and drop it, can it?

Back onto the Internet, trying to find a clever site that would tell me.  Un-unh, nothing doing.  But I found the website for a London-based knitting group that teaches.  Aha! Sounds like a good idea.  So off I went to my first knitting group meeting at Leon's with Stitch London (still called Stitch & Bitch at the time) - back in September 2009.

I found out that there was no dropping of stitches of the needle involved, slipping meant just that: slip off the left needle onto the right needle, without knitting the stitch.  Oh!  Is that all?
Brioche further involves a yarnover laid actually over that slipped stitch.  Same thing if you just purl it off and, in the next row, knit into the row below.  I prefer placing the yarn as if to purl (resulting in the yarnover) and slipping the stitch off.  That just makes more sense to me.

In January 2010 I finally attached the loops for the buttons.  Only I stuck them onto the wrong bit of the scarf, silly me.  I picked the project back up, finally (see what I mean?) in October.  ...and managed to pull a thread about two inches from the end across the entire width of the scarf because I couldn't find the loose end I'd already woven in.  Oh, woe me!

I had to unravel those two inches and re-knit them (that really pissed me off, this project was beginning to grate!).  Then I -finally- attached the button loops in the right place (yay!) and as of the Sunday just gone I -only- had to find some suitable buttons and actually sew them on.  Then I would be done. Phew...

But my mother's eldest daughter ain't dim (err, some of the time...) - that fiasco with the wrong loop placement has taught me a thing or two (give someone enough time and they actually learn!) - I wasn't about to sew those buttons on in the wrong place.  But I had a feeling that the scarf might win again... so I didn't.  Sew them on I mean.

Instead, and here's where the clever bit comes in: instead, I sewed a smaller button under the button itself, but not too close: connected by a bit of thread.  Do you call this connecting link thing a shank?  I'm not sure.  (PS: crikey, I think shank is even right!)

Here's what it looks like:


Neat, eh?

Advantage: I can slip those smaller buttons into the scarf fabric anywhere I like.  If the first placement doesn't suit, then I can move it.  Success!