Thursday, 23 December 2010
Christmas is almost upon us and I'm trying not to dwell too much on my impending return to work in January. Maternity leave seems to have just flown by and I can hardly believe that my daughter is six months old.
Christmas itself is likely to be a low key event this year; we've foregone the typical tour of the country which normally marks this time of year for us. The current weather aside, it just isn't practical to do flying visits on that kind of scale anymore. Instead we're looking forward to our first Christmas as a family at home together.
I haven't had much of an opportunity to update here lately because M is a lot more aware of her surroundings. Little hands seem to need to explore everything and the laptop is particularly exciting. All those buttons and a bright screen are enticing but the fact that Mummy is playing with it make the computer great fun.
I on the other hand am proving to be a bit of a meany. I just don't think drool and keyboards mix very well and no amount of excited shrieking has so far persuaded me otherwise.
Our difference in opinion regarding computer use is seriously impacting my time online. I can of course use the phone, but it's not the same thing at all.
I may be absent from the internet but I have managed to do a tiny amount of crochet. M has a keen eye for yarn and likes to handle (and nom) anything I'm working on - if this continues I foresee my daughter developing an interest in textiles! My usual approach to her assistance is to show M what I am working on and talk to her about it which seems to go down well.
While I hunted down suitable baby yarn I decided to have a go at crocheting a hat... for ME!!!
The last time I attempted to crochet a hat for myself it didn't end well but I was willing to give it another go. My life as a non hat person does seem like a bit of a wasted opportunity for endless crafting fun.
With limited stash diving and acquisition I opted for the top down or last in first out approach in my yarn choice. I picked up some Sirdar Hug from Mrs T's last spring with a chunky waistcoat in mind. As the nearest thing to hand it became hats.
Dave bought me a copy of Melody Griffiths' Crochet in No Time for my birthday which had a pattern for a simple hat called Cloche with Flower (Ravelry Link). All of the designs in this book are intended to be either quick or easily picked up and put down again so seem ideal for working around a small baby.
I had a go and the pattern actually worked. For me this was unusual because I always end up having to tweak a pattern before it works. Not in this case though. I worked this hat up exactly as written and got what I was expecting. No fuss. No need to puzzle over the instructions. No experimenting to test the pattern. It just worked. Wow! All i can say is a heartfelt well done to the designer.
And here is the result...
I tried the hat on and was shocked to discover I liked the result!!!
Sirdar Hug is a chunky yarn, 50 percent wool mix spun as a single ply so works like a roving. It has a very soft hand and I suspect would felt fairly easily. This hat was worked on a 7mm hook to achieve the specified gauge.
These photographs were taken in milder weather but having worn the hat in snow I can say it kept my head and ears toasty warm. Excellent stuff.
Thursday, 11 November 2010
It's 7:30 in the morning and I'm in a musing frame of mind and the phone is handy so I can write this.
With change in seasons my thoughts have been turning towards hats, particularly hats that I could crochet. Hats are after all small, quickly made and shouldn't be too difficult as projects worked around a small baby. In fact they sound ideal.
Why then am I having problems getting started?
I think the answer can be summed up as - my stash is not fit for purpose.
I've reluctantly come to this conclusion as I've tried to match patterns for baby hats to the yarns I actually own. Baby hats sound like a good idea after all because I have a baby, she's still young enough not to protest about my fashion choices on her behalf and lacking much in the way of hair she needs hats. The problem is that her little head is very sensitive and trying to get a warm, snugly but soft yarn in a colour I'm happy to put on a baby is proving a challenge.
Fingers crossed I find a suitable yarn soon or I may need to buy something. But if so, what sort of yarn should I be looking for?
This post was brought to you by a frustrated crocheting mummy with an inadequate stash.
Thursday, 28 October 2010
This is M's first cold and I think she's coped remarkably well - at least through the day. Nights have been a bit fraught as tiredness and feeling grotty have gotten a hold, but otherwise M has been quite chirpy about the whole thing.
I've also had a birthday which passed fairly quietly this year - not that my birthdays are ever really raucous affairs! We did manage to get together with friends for lunch last Saturday which was good. I also received a good haul of crochet books for which I am grateful. So far I've only really had time to glance through them but they're all focused on small projects which can be squeezed in as and to when around M.
All of which means I really do need to get on and make some stuff.
Following on from the success of the Flaming Hot Booties I decided to make another pair!
This time I did a little stash diving, rummaging in my sock yarn hoard and pulling out two solid balls. One of the joys of sock knitting is watching a self striping or patterned yarn do its thing, as a result I don't own many solid colours. In fact I only had three colours to choose from - pink, yellow or grey. The pink had a bit of silk mixed in, so wasn't ideal for booties so I put it aside, leaving me with the yellow and grey. Hopefully the result looks bright and cheery.
The sock yarn in both cases is a standard Regia 4 ply; 75 percent wool, 25 nylon making it both warm and durable. The same 3mm hook was used and because the booties followed on quickly from the previous pair they were easy to work.
Once more the pattern is Little Feet by Joan Nossa (Ravelry Link) but learning from experience I reworked the stitch count to make joining the sole easier. I also rang the changes a little adding a scalloped edge to the cuff rather than picot. The resulting booties fit a foot up to 11cm long which should fit between 3 and 6 months I hope.
Changes I made to the pattern are as follows.
I started the top of the foot with a sliding loop rather than a chain, just because that’s my preference.
I had to resize it to fit a 4 month baby foot as follows…
- 8 inc rounds on the top of the foot, to give me an extra 5mm of growing room
- R9 - (2scx1, scx6) x4, 2scx1, 33ch leaving 11 st gap
- R10 - (2scx6, 2sc1) x4, sc until end
- 10 rounds of sc rather than 6 as per original pattern (72 st)
- Pick up sts for ankle and work 14 rows
- Work scallop edging - ss, (3sc into next st, ss) repeat in brackets until end
Work sole as per pattern, except
- R6 - (2scx1) x4, 12sc, (2scx1) x12, 12sc, (2scx1) x8 (72 st)
- R7 - work sc around
Note - all mods follow original pattern writing style and assume American notation… So 2scx1 means “2dc into next st”
Again, a good little project easily worked around a baby and made up fairly quickly. Using solid colours makes them appear more chunky somehow, despite this pair being only marginally larger than the first. M likes them and has indicated they are very nom-able!
Friday, 15 October 2010
Our garden is fairly secure from the front, the only access being via a side gate and a tiny bit of fence, both of which are six foot tall. Imagine our surprise last week when we discovered a muddy footprint on top of it. Surprise turned to irritation when we realised our garden bench was missing.
It took Dave some time to find the bench where some bods unknown had tucked it behind our shed. Along with the bench we found coke and beer bottles suggesting a group of someones had had a little private party at the bottom of our garden. We back onto several properties all of which are fenced to different standards which would make accessing the garden difficult which was why they apparently came over the gate. Our big question was why?
We contacted the police who said our prowlers were most likely just kids looking for somewhere private to hang out. My response was that our garden seemed an odd place to choose, given how difficult it is to access. I asked if there could be something more sinister behind it - like someone scoping out houses or gardens for burglary but was laughed at and told no, very unlikely.
They came back and this time were prepared.
They took down a section of fence at the back of the garden to give themselves easy access via a back neighbour who's side gate was open and removed the shed doors. They then had a leisurely rummage through our shed contents helping themselves to some large items and pretty much clearing us out on camping gear.
The lucky toerags haul included - a gents bicycle, a ladies bicycle, 2 camping stoves, 4 tents (ranging in size from a 6 to a 2 man), a garden strimmer, an electric pump, a collection of camping chairs, a travel cot, tools and a turquoise silk ball gown which stank of smoke so was airing in the shed.
To shift all that stuff we think means there must have been at least two people involved and they must have had either a very large car or a van to cart it off.
So far the police response has been less than sympathetic with the officer Dave spoke to being a bit flippant about the whole thing. The impression I'm left with is that in the scheme of things it's unimportant other than as a statistic. The police won't even investigate, so the culprits are pretty much certain to get away with it unless caught red handed with our stuff.
We are not happy campers.
Monday, 11 October 2010
With autumn well under way and winter drawing in, my thoughts turned to slippers. Specifically I was thinking how cold my own feet get during the winter months and how cotton socks just don't cut it in terms of keeping my toes toasty warm.
So the search was on for baby slippers that could be worn over cotton socks both indoors and outside. M doesn't need much in the way of a sole since she is a long way off walking, let alone running about outside, hence providing the slipper is substantial enough it should do for outside use.
I don't have much experience with babies in general, but in M's case she is a very enthusiastic foot kicker. For any slipper to have a chance of staying put it would need to have a cuff around the ankle... And so what I obviously needed were booties.
After a trawl through Ravelry's pattern database I eventually settled on Little Feet (Ravelry Link) by Joana Nossa.
Little Feet are worked in a spiral, starting on top of the foot and then extending around the heel before working down towards the sole. The yarn is cut and rejoined to work the cuff, while the sole is made separately then attached to the body of the shoe. The bootie is finished off with a picot edging around the cuff.
The result is a rather robust looking bootie.
M's feet are not that big and didn't need a huge amount of yarn so I made these booties using left over sock yarn. The yarn in this case was originally used for my very first pair of socks. It's a standard Regia 4 ply, 75% wool and machine washable - so should be very cosy and fairly durable.
Being the left over yarn from another project, I can only estimate but would say I used approximately half a ball or 25g to make both booties. I don't have the ball band so don't have details of the colourway but it's made up of eye catching reds, pinks, orange and grey; very cheery and I love the way the colours work together. That the colours match a little on both booties is a happy consequence of having tried to match them up on the original pair of socks. Since I was using the remnants of two 50g balls, each had ended in a similar place in the colour striping which is why these two booties look similar.
I used a 3mm hook to make the gauge specified by the pattern and sized up to fit M's non newborn foot. Hence the pattern mods were as follows...
- I started the top of the foot with a sliding loop rather than a chain, just because that’s my preference.
While I followed the pattern, I had to resize it to fit a 4 month baby foot as follows…
- 8 inc rounds on the top of the foot, to give me an extra 5mm of growing room
- R9 - (2scx1, scx6) x4, 2scx1, 30ch leaving 11 st gap
- R10 - (2scx6, 2sc1) x4, sc until end
- 8 rounds of sc rather than 6 as per original pattern (69 st)
- Pick up sts for ankle and work 14 rows
Work sole as per pattern, except
- R6 - (2scx1) x4, 12sc, 2scx1, 1sc, (2scx1) x9, 1sc, 12sc, (2scx1) x7, 1sc (69 st)
- R7 - work sc around
Finish as per pattern and add picot edging.This gave me a bootie to fit a foot approx 11cm long which will hopefully mean there is a little growing room while not being too big for my 16 week old baby.
The overall result is a striking, colourful bootie which I'm hoping will stay on despite vigorous foot and leg kicking on the part of M.
Initial tests suggest they'll do nicely and here you can see them in action.
This is the first time I've tried to photograph knitware on a baby and it is more difficult than I thought it would be. M, bless her, loves waving her feet especially when excited (and who wouldn't be excited by a pair of crocheted slippers?), hence most of the shots I took came out very blurry. These were the best of the lot so hopefully they do the booties justice.
I thoroughly enjoyed making these booties. The pattern was a little difficult to read but the pictures showing the construction helped a lot. Since I was resizing, it was more important that I understood how to put the shoe together than following the pattern exactly as written. My notes reflect the style of the original pattern which they're intended to compliment.
I would certainly give these booties another go, sizing up again as needed. All in all, a fun, quick and importantly small project.
Friday, 8 October 2010
This was a fantastic revelation because M has a voracious appetite and as a result I'm often stranded for hours, sitting still while I feed her. I've tried reading at the same time but found the activity too relaxing, which in my sleep deprived state was just making me drowsy.
Crochet on the other hand requires my brain to stay engaged so isn't having the same effect. Of course the other bonus is that I get to indulge my inherent need to 'make stuff' - albeit small stuff and very slowly!
So small crocheted items are now a possibility and hence there may well be activity which is blog worthy again.
Mind you finding time to type anything up or process photographs is perhaps another matter... Although I've discovered I can type up text on my mobile phone which certainly opens up possibilities.
Wednesday, 4 August 2010
The Saturday after my last posting was the first Saturday of Knitting in Public week which saw Dave and myself in Coventry's Memorial Park with my fellow Knit-Wits having a picnic. I made chocolate and prune brownies a la Delia (very yummy combination I assure you); I also took a savoury option but those brownies provided valuable sustenance in the days that followed, so I consider them to be a good call and a valuable dietary supplement to hospital food.
I finished a sock, bar grafting the toe closed... I also worked on a baby cardigan which I rather optimistically hoped to get done before the new arrival put in an appearance. The weather was glorious, ideal weather for a picnic and it was a good day.
The next day, the eviction notice was served on the baby and I went into labour.
Things dragged on a bit. After some to'ing and fro'ing from the hospital over the next three days, minor complications and an emergency c-section later, my latest work-in-progress was introduced to the world (albeit reluctantly, she was very comfy where she was).
This is Meredith who has become central to my days and nights since her debut.
After a rough introduction to motherhood, I'm finally showing signs of healing while Meredith is growing before my eyes... I'd swear she's putting on the cm's (and indeed ounces) overnight!
What I'd not really understood was just how all consuming and 24 hours looking after a small baby was. Or that my hands, arms or indeed body no longer belong to me but have been annexed by a small and exceptionally cute person.
One day... I may have two hands free again, but until then there is no knitting, crocheting, sewing or spinning happening... I can however distract myself with cute baby photos!
And one more to finish...
Wednesday, 9 June 2010
At the end of last week, my mother took me completely by surprise when a large parcel was delivered by the postman. Inside it was crammed with blankets and baby cardigans, so time to give another shout of thank you for more baby gifts.
My mother, who doesn't really knit very much, made a sweet little lemon cardigan, trimmed with ribbon...
Isn't it lovely?
She also crocheted a double layer blanket in yellow and white - I didn't know my mother could crochet, so that was a double surprise. It's gorgeous and sure to be useful if the good old British summer continues to be as unpredictable as ever!
There were also several cardigans and a couple of blankets knitted by my mother's friends, plus a stack of blankets passed along by my little brother from when his daughter was a baby.
So a big thank you to my Mum, my brother Gary and my Mum's friends.
In the meantime, I've actually had a go at making a baby cardigan myself. I decided to make something simple and dithered for a while as to what exactly I should make. Then Dave came back from one of his usual wanders around a charity shop bearing a gift in the form of a book called Baby Gifts, The Australian Womens Weekly Craft Library. Inside I found a pattern for a simple garter stitch cardigan, so I had a go and here is the result.
I knitted this one up in Paton's Cotton DK, left over from my Tiramisu blanket; the pattern called for 4mm needles, but being a tightish knitter I used 4.5mm so that I made gauge. I knit the 0-3 months size, so it should be wearable straight away and followed the pattern as best I could, but have to say it didn't seem to be terribly accurate.
First problem was with the fronts, with the instructions for left and right rather confused. The pattern writer had assumed they'd be mirror images of each other, adjusting stitch/row counts accordingly, but then seemed to forget they'd done so half way through so there was no way they'd work.
Next up, the instructions to pick up stitches for the bands wouldn't work no matter how I tried, so in the end I just picked up what seemed like a good number and placed button holes myself. I think it turned out OK and the little duck buttons seem to sit well, so hopefully I got it about right.
Finally, I was concerned about how much bulk was being added to the shoulder and underarm area on such a tiny garment, so decided to pick up stitches at the shoulder and knit towards the wrist.
I studied the original sleeve instructions and then picked up 40 stitches, knitted 12 rows before decreasing one stitch at the beginning and end of the next row. The pattern didn't say which kinds of decreases should be used, so I just knit two stitches together. After that, I continued to knit, repeating the decrease row every fourth row until I had 30 stitches left. Then I knit another 3 rows before casting off.
I don't really have a lot of experience with seaming knitting, particularly garter stitch but I had a go with mattress stitch, discovering it doesn't produce as smooth a seam as I'd like. Still, I think it's serviceable and not too shoddy for my first knitted cardigan and baby garment. Not as good as the one's made for me, but I'm fairly pleased with the end result and I'm sure the baby won't notice!
Wednesday, 2 June 2010
I'm a bit behind with blogging due to ongoing exhaustion, but since I'm enjoying a slight respite - here I am!
Last Wednesday I didn't make it to the regular gathering of the Coventry Knit-Wits. I got home from work, collapsed on the sofa and just couldn't motivate myself to make a move. Instead I stayed where I was, idly flicking through knitting books and generally relaxing, which was very much needed.
Half asleep I was rather surprised when Jane called and asked if she could drop round to see me... There were baby gifts from the group waiting for me!
First up, we have two dungaree sets from Jane with instructions to pick one once the baby arrives.
Aren't they sweet?
Then there was a matinee jacket from Dee along with some bath-time toiletries for me.
The jacket is very delicate and tiny looking, with a little bit of sparkle from a shiny yarn worked into the ply. It really is quite lovely.
Finally, the whole group had been secretly working on squares which were then turned into a quilt. The result is absolutely gorgeous and I love it. Dave said he was impressed as well. It really is beautiful - thank you to everyone who contributed to it and a special thank you to Christina for putting the quilt together.
Sunday, 23 May 2010
In between all that, I've continued to work and so as I fast approach maternity leave I've been trying to squeeze in a little time to make something, anything. With my much diminished mojo that is easier said than done!
As might be expected, baby related things are very much on my mind at the moment so I thought I'd have a go at making a baby blanket suitable for a pram, moses basket or crib. I've had the Tiramisu Baby Blanket (Ravelry Link) by Alicia Paulson in my queue for a long time and so I went stash diving and had a go.
This is my version of Tiramisu.
It's worked in Patons Cotton DK in a natural cotton sort of shade, so a creamy white on a 6mm hook. I didn't quite make gauge, but didn't want to go up any further in terms of hook size since I was using a thinner yarn than the pattern calls for and I wanted to keep some 'springiness' and spoing in the finished fabric.
Here is a close up of the stitch pattern which is very easy to do and really didn't require much mental effort, which was a good thing. I added the border as specified by the pattern but decided against the ribbon since I'd worry about it working loose.
Over all a nice little blanket, easily made up and quite quick to make.
Tuesday, 6 April 2010
Here we have my version of the Cinnabar Cardigan (Ravelry Link) from Everyday Crochet by Doris Chan.
The yarn is James C. Brett Denim with Wool in an Aran weight, which I picked up from a trader at a Machine Knitters Guild event about 18 months ago. I used one ball (400g) and I worked the bulk of the cardigan on a 7mm hook to achive gauge with a 6.5mm hook for the borders.
I chose to make the smallest size, so that's to give a finished bust measurement of 35 inches or 88 cm - this is based on my normal sizing so the resulting cardi fits me properly in the shoulders otherwise I would have been drowned in fabric.
As I wanted this cardigan for both maternity and normal wear, I decided to lengthen the body by adding four rows before starting on the band. The longer line just looks better with the bump, but hopefully not so long it will look silly once I return to something resembling my normal proportions.
Rather than relying on a pin or a removable fastening which might not work well with a baby, I added button holes and three buttons which I picked up from Mrs T's (Ravelry Link). The buttons are actually purple, but take on the blue of the yarn which softens them so they work well with the overall colour of the garment.
I also decided to skip the sleeve tapering, giving me looser arms but deliberately shortened them slightly as I hate my cuffs dragging in things.
Other than that though, the cardigan is made up as per the pattern and I'm quite pleased with the final result. It fits well across the shoulders and I think the colour works well on me, although not one I'd have normally chosen. Not at all bad for my first ever cardigan.
Monday, 5 April 2010
The week started with fitters from British Gas turning up to replace my ancient gas boiler with a new, energy efficient one. Naturally the mains gas pipe needed to be replaced and Monday morning started with an animated discussion about where the pipe was to be run. The gas fitter wanted to run it along the outside of the building at about head height, all the way around the house to my kitchen where he'd poke it through the wall.
I vetoed this idea, sticking to my guns, refusing to give permission and pursuing other routes until eventually the fitter relented. The final route for the pipe took it up the wall, under the bedroom floors, through the house and dropping through the kitchen ceiling. Once agreement had been struck work began and my house turned into a building site.
I've got to admit though, once the fitters got started they got on with it and were done by 1pm the next day! There was one incident in the shed involving a tin of paint but otherwise things went fairly smoothly. The worksheets the fitters had didn't match my invoices which left them a bit disgruntled, but since I had written evidence of what I'd ordered, they had no choice but to do as was on my paper work.
So all sorted and we now have heating and hot water once more.
This weekend is the first Maelstrom event of the year and quite possibly the only one Dave is going to make, so I've been left to my own devices for a few days. Saturday saw me head off to Stratford with Richard to visit the Butterfly Farm which is a five minute walk from the town centre.
The Butterfly Farm isn't huge, consisting of one large hot house and a couple of specialist buildings housing caterpillars, spiders and various insects.
Once inside the hot house there were butterflies everywhere, quite happily fluttering around visitors and landing on anyone who looked vaguely interesting.
Richard proved to be a great hit with the butterflies - here he is with a new friend and trying to take a photo...
For once, I took lots of pictures although only about half of them came out as the butterflies wouldn't stay still, were quite small and the light levels in the hot house were not great.
However, some of my favourites were these...
There were also a lot of birds in the hot house, all apparently chosen for their non insect eating ways.
And some very big carp.
Plus at least one iguana who was very curious to see what everyone was doing.
If you want to look at all the pictures I took, they can be found over at Picassa - here.
|Stratford Butterfly Farm|
A nice place to visit and one I could see me dragging Dave around at some point.
Saturday, 27 March 2010
A knot! In my self striping sock yarn!
Which means it's going to disrupt my stripes.
The sudden jump from white to pink, when that pink repeats in two patterns would be difficult to match up for the second sock and the fact that I only have a single ball of the yarn means I don't have much leeway for maneuvering.
This means this pair of socks will be fraternal rather than identical twins; the stripes will not match up at all. Those who know me, know how I love my stripes to match on both socks so will know this is something of a blow.
For future reference, the yarn in question is Wendy Happy (Ravelry Link). It's a pretty bamboo sock yarn and I fell for it a while back, buying several different colourways. At the moment I'm finding the name rather ironic. Knots in self striping sock yarn do not make me 'happy'... In fact they are very frustrating!
Ah well... Rant over.
Sunday, 14 March 2010
You're looking at the top of the door frame which Dave began stripping the paint from earlier this week. If you look carefully you can see horizontal tracks running across it and rather than having a nice crisp door frame shape, the whole thing is rather crumbly.
We're thinking woodworm. Ancient woodworm, which was probably there before the many, many layers of paint were applied directly over the top, covering the exit holes the adult beetles would have escaped through. Oddly, the woodworm only seems to have affected a four foot section of the upright and only certain bits of it, leaving the majority of the frame untouched.
I've contacted our usual handyman who in turn has put out a call to his woodworking mate... we're waiting on a visit for a verdict, but I suspect that we'll need to replace the entire frame. Can you hear me sighing?
In other news, there has been some very slow crafting going on. For example, I'm close to finishing this cardigan.
This is my version of Doris Chan's Cinnabar cardigan, which has been waiting for sleeves for the past couple of weeks. I've added button holes to the top (hence the markers) of the band running up the front, so I'm hoping it will work as a maternity cardi rather than having to wait until I return to my more usual dimensions before I can wear it.
Naturally, since I need to concentrate on making sleeves... I cast on a sock.
These are intended to be something pretty for me and are plain socks, knit up in Wendy Happy, which is bamboo with the usual 25% nylon you'd expect in a sock yarn. So far I'm enjoying knitting this first sock, watching the colours play out is captivating me in the usual way and not having to really think about the pattern is a serious bonus.
So who knows, maybe I'll get it finished fairly quickly?