Showing posts with label fancy yarns. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fancy yarns. Show all posts

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A boo, frou-frou, and a big Bamboo

Well, I didn't get to the wedding - by the time I got clearance from the school, it would have cost over 300 pounds for self and offspring, and would have involved travelling at stupid o'clock. So I took the day off anyway and spent it doing computery stuff. I installed a new hard drive (250g) in the old computer, discovering along the way that I didn't have a particular cable I needed. I also discovered there was no point in transferring the Firewire card to the new computer as it has an unconnected 1394 port in the front panel - it would cost a few pounds to install one. So the FW card goes back in the old computer. The old 20g hard drive is now in a portable powered fanned external case. May use it purely for music.

Crafting: clicky to my first pattern, for hair scrunchies, on the right sidebar! Though this is a bit of a cheat, to get myself linked on Ravelry as a designer - shh! don't tell anyone! I do intend to produce patterns but haven't got round to it yet.

It came through one of those D'oh! moments - when you realise the answer has been staring you in the face. I have very fine, flyaway hair. It needs to be restrained in a lot of situations - housework, work, nappy-changing, etc. The only product that will keep the hair in place is Brylcreem - half a jar usually does the trick, but it's not a look I'm keen on. Any fixings you care to mention - combs, ribbons, elastics, kirby-grips - either fall out, or damage my hair. The only thing that stands a chance of staying in place without snapping the hair are scrunchies. For some reason, though, the few that I can find are usually in hideous colours.

So I was about to throw out an old fuzzy black one, randomly wishing I could get more and thinking the fuzzy would make a nice scarf, when it hit me I could make the blasted things with fancy yarns... D'oh! Hence the pattern - crochet, if you're interested. On the plus side, since I'd got the fancy yarns to make scarves for myself, all the scrunchies have mysteriously turned out to be in lovely colours that tone with my wardrobe!

I have also put together a shortie scarf/ruff affair. I've found a scarf to be too long and gappy for some of my winter coats, and thought that a big-collared jumper would work better - only without the jumper... so I knit this collar-and-yoke thingy in Sirdar Bigga (Etna colourway), which I found unbanded in the Bull-Ring for 69p. It's a 2x2 rib on the collar, 3x3 rib on the yoke by picking up the bar between the paired knits and purls. Finished with a belt buckle from the same source.

Finally - another Bull-Ring bargain: pure bamboo yarn, unbanded, also 69p. They had the same stuff on the shelves. I thought I'd just try a little random swatching to see what it was like to knit with, then I saw Knitting magazine had printed one of Joan McGowan-Michael's patterns from Knitting Lingerie Style - Silk Slip. It's basically just a bra: you sew a silk 'skirt' to it. I'm almost finished the first cup, after a few modifications for my voluptuousness. The straps are supposed to be single crochet, but I think I might use the lace bit to knit thicker straps for comfort. I'm also uncomfortable about sewing (!) so the skirt may wind up being knitted too...



Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Yarn!

Er, Year...

Yarn's been on my mind recently.

Well duh...

I'm having a bit of a crisis..

I hates the coloured-up yarn... but... I have happily knitted up stuff in the coloured-up yarn, and loved it. This is causing my head pain.

I've also just bought these - unbanded mystery yarn from the Bullring yarne shoppe. Pink in shades from Baby to Crack Ho with flashes of toffee to keep it tasteful, and what initially looks to be silver tinselly bits woven in, but on closer inspection is tiny strips of clear cellophane-type material. Sounds ... DIRE. But actually quite nice. Something for Niece #1 possibly. The second a boucle in Browns, all the way from ecru to taupe. Woo! (Oh yes, in case I forgot to mensh, not loving the boucle slubby nubby stuff either). I shall make a camel from it (I am hoping to make a Noah's Ark and a Nativity scene this year), or maybe some sheep. I have also been deeply taken by this (scroll down to Liquorice). And today I almost bought a green, white and orange mohair in Rackham's sale - my father would be pirouetting in his grave, no mean feat for a man who made Triple H look petite. Sorry, petit. Hell no - I DO mean petite. Ma daddy was a MAN.

Admittedly, I'm thinking scarves, kiddie stuff, weird amigurumi toy stuff - where the maddcolorz either don't really matter or are absolutely essential to the project. I'd never do a sweater in the tricolour mohair f'rinstance (well, not for a grown-up. E.g., me, or someone my age or younger and more than, say, 10. My mum - maybe. If she acted her age). But I'd make myself a shrug in the pinky. And even contemplate a big ol' sudden-cold-snap-and-the-heating-dies cardi/jacket in the Liquorice. What gives, as our colonial cousins would say?

I'm struggling with this. Okay, first off, if we're talking animals (camels, sheep, etc), then anything goes for the effect. Kids, again, well the girlies love the spangles, and the boys haven't fallen into the Boring Man-Rut yet. Scarves - anything goes. They're an accessory, so you might want to make one scarf matching several different outfits - multicoloured is therefore good. Shawls and wraps, OTH, look nasty in multis*. Like you were using up all the leftovers in your stash - nothing wrong with that, just, well. But could you not make a Fair Isle at least? Make it look less like a desparate "oh shite, I'm running out of wool so I'll just make a Dr Who scarf type thing" project. Not that I'D EVAR use a shawl anyhoo**.

It's the Liquorice cardi that throws me.

So, let's approach this from the other side. Arans do not need maddcolorz. In fact, anything with a stitch pattern, even something as basic as basketweave, doesn't need maddcolorz. I go so far as to say knitted lace doesn't need maddcolorz, though I've only done one lace pattern myself. So, anything with textural or sculptural qualities should be done in one colour - not multi-coloured, tweed, flecked, handpainted, etc. If it's just acres of stockinette, go for it. If it's kiddy, or special- occasion like a shrug or do-it-all like a scarf - go for it. If it's for an elderly person - take your pick. Toys, intarsia, Fair Isle, it goes without saying.

That Liquorice cardi is still bugging me...

Ta ta

* Please note these are the opinions of the author, expressed after 6 beers, 2 bottles of wine, and a hefty brandy in the early hours of New Year's Day, and are not meant to be taken seriously as meaning anything. If you handpaint/dye your own yarn, The Author is deeply jealous of you and wishes she had a more co-operative toddler so she could do likewise. If you are enamoured of the maddcolorz yarn and never use anything else - well, so does The Author. Okay she does use other stuff and MAKES A BIG THANG OF IT, but she breaks her own rulez lotz tuu.

** I've been reading some interesting Ravelry threads on attitudes towards knitting, crochet, handcrafts generally. One thing that pops out is that all the handcrafts are associated with being poor, lower-class, etc. That's shawls to me. They're for people who can't afford proper warm coats, or decent heating in their homes (I include here home-made coats, and self-felled timber or self-dug turf fires - whatever). Afghans fall in the same category. People who need shawls or afghans to stay warm are people who can't (because of age or infirmity) or won't (because of laziness) provide the needful for themselves. I'm a snob.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

This WILL have HAS pics...

Eventually... The pics are taken and awaiting upload from my phone.

The scarf is finished, ends woven in, washed and blocked. The rather stringy, fine mohair bloomed nicely - the resulting fabric appears solid until you look closely, allowing the lace flowers stand out well. The pics don't really do justice - I was hoping to hang it by a window so you could see the light coming through, but had to settle for laying it on white paper. I shall hand it over on Thursday rather than Friday as she has a do to go to and might like to wear it.

My sister's bag is boarded, lined and sewn up, and lacks only the fastening. The specs cases for Mum and MIL are finished too, including the label inside. These won't be in time for Christmas unfortunately. I won't even get them off until Saturday.

I'm also well into Libby's amigurumi unicorn - head and body completed to the start of the bum, and stuffed as far as possible. I still have a little time to work on it, as I won't see them until after Christmas Day anyway. I'm not entirely thrilled with the shape, as the head and neck extend more or less straight out from the body making it look more like a goose than a horse. Before I started, I did think it needed some short-rowing where the lower neck reaches the body - i.e., no building up of the back until the chest is in place. That would mean turning the work and working backwards. I can't see an amigurumi way of doing it, except maybe by making the pieces separately and sewing them together in the right configuration. There's a lot of shaping involved and correct stuffing is crucial.

ION, the deputy head was most distressed to see me knitting during break. Apparently I should be planning lessons. It has been pointed out that I am not in fact a qualified teacher, have no regular classes and therefore do not have PPA time, and am in possession of a contract that specifically forbids me from planning lessons (even though I DO, because there's usually no coverwork). So he gave it as his opinion that I should be doing anything but knitting. Possibly helping out in the canteen, or cleaning the toilets then.

No scarf for him!

If he had any sense, he'd be begging me to run an after-school club for the tards...


Monday, November 26, 2007

Christmas Bag

Finished the first Christmas bag (for my sister), but it still needs to be lined. Also the instructions call for a fancy button, but I'm leaning towards a couple of plain satchel fastenings.

Also some pics of double-knitting, which I larned masel on a trip to Ireland recently. It's just a practice piece. I've put together some designs for baby blankies, one of which is just on the needles but there's no urgency to complete.

I have also decided to make spectacle cases for Mum and MIL - both occasionally wear glasses and are always losing them. So I got some cheap cases at the weekend and have already knitted a cover for one in Paton's Lush in Autumn, a bright red-yellow-purple mix. Try losing that. The second is half-complete. I may do a mobile phone cosy for SIL.

My friend's daughter has become fascinated by unicorns. And guess what pattern appeared in the last issue of Crochet??! Must start pull-caking the chenille. Wish I could remember what size hook I used last time.

And it turns out Friday is not a training day as I'd thought, but a real, honest-to-goodness day off!! So I'll go into town and get some supplies at the Bullring - lining fabric, fasteners, maybe craft glue - and probably Abraham's Santa present.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

New work

Since the last post, I started my first ever lace knitting project, began the Christmas knitathon, am not substantially further on with the Bob the Builder jumper, and went back to Ireland for a night... It was about the right length of time for a visit home!

My big baby brother turned 40 at the end of October, but the surprise party was on the 10th November. And surprise it was - he's been like a wasp since his actual birthday because nobody made any fuss, just the odd card and well-wishing, a small token present or two. Organising the party was no mean feat for his wife, as he has been off work with a broken arm for the last few weeks and was underfoot every time she tried to write an invitation or make a phone call. But he was completely fooled. The only tricky bit was that they had to send him into the North on the day on a series of pointless but "urgent" errands, and of course I was coming down from Aldergrove to Kesh, along any route he might take, staying with my sister who he might drop in on for a cup of tea... Any other guest seen travelling down could be explained, but why would I be coming over to Ireland in secret??? It was a good night, there shall be YouTube evidence of the big man DANCING as soon as YouTube deigns to co-operate, and Mum was looking more relaxed, younger and less strained than she has done for years.

I don't think we're fully aware yet of the toll on her of caring for Dad in the last few years. None of us knew she had to dress him, for example. I knew she was bathing him, but thought that was just back-scrubbing where he couldn't reach - ffs TH does that for me! It seems he was more incapacitated than he let on to anyone. The unravelling of his life continues.

So, to wips: the lace scarf was inspired by a cone of black mohair (or fluffy string) I found dumped outside a late neighbour's house. How grue is that?! She must have been a machine knitter, because there were other bits and bobs - including pieces of knitting machine - lying about, obviously fallen out of bins and not picked up by our delightful and hard-working binmen. The scarf pattern is merely of 8x6-petal flowers with a garter-stitch border, nothing exciting. However it has been frogged about 6 times to date: I have only managed to do 3 rows of flowers, and one of those has only 7 flowers on it. The next row would have had only 5, as the total number of stitches had dropped from 64 to 44! I have no idea how this happened. It's not as if I'm not well used to textured patterns. It's not like I can't count! I checked and rechecked and double-checked the pattern, the number of stitches on the needle, counted and re-counted the pattern stitches off and checked again that the fluffiness or the yos weren't 'creating' stitches - and still I either had too many stitches or too few at the end of each row. The only row that work out right is the one where the Offspring was torturing me for walks and purpo juice and cuggles. If it ever works, I'll give it to the Offspring's childminder.

The knitathon is just to make little token gifts for Mum, my sis, and my MIL. Last year I made a skinny scarf and gloves set in eyelash yarn for them - the gloves were actually purchased black fleece jobs, but I knitted matching eyelash-yarn cuffs for them. And didn't take pics - pity, as it was quite effective. This year, I saw an interesting pattern in Simply Knitting mag. Weeell, pattern. Anyhoo. Tis a baggie. Supposedly, a bedroom cushion (does anyone really have these things, unless they're selling the house?) which doubles as a nightwear holder (again, does ANYONE use these things?), which presumably provides the cushiony goodness, otherwise you wind up with a nightie case and a teeny cushionpad lying on the floor. There's 2 yarns, and something goin on between them. Naturally, the two yarns are only available on the second moon of Tau Ceti 6 during the bicentennial eclipse, but only to quadripeds. But I got some Patons Lush (surprisingly soft) to substitute for the sparkly yarn, and for the other I've quadruple-plied some thin chenille from the stash. That's looking good, like sari yarn. I'll make up two versions, one in blues on eau-de-nil chenille, and the other in autumn colours on wine chenille. I figure I'll just give them, they can use them as they want. In my sis's case, (blue/eau-de-nil version) I hope she will use it to pick out colours for her bedroom in the new house. Please God. Anything so long as next visit I don't have to wander around saying how well I think donkey pink, terracotta and putty beige go together (*shudder*).

On Bob, I'm about halfway up the helmet bit on the front, having begun working flat from the armholes. Ho hum. Erm. That's about it.

And I should be Ravelry -bound in the next couple of days!!!


Ravelry update:

  • You signed up on October 19, 2007
  • You are #46355 on the list.
  • 510 people are ahead of you in line.
  • 10365 people are behind you in line.
  • 79% of the list has been invited so far

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


This is my first attempt at designing something from scratch!!! Details are sketchy below, as I want to market this in some form, either the item itself or the pattern based on it. So be warned this is copyright to me, do not copy, or attempt to recreate/sell or otherwise use the details here for personal gain: this is simply a record for information only.

Though that should be from scratch-ish, now that I think of it... the sleeves from elbow to wrist are the same as those of the shrug I made my sister - using needles of different sizes to create a lacy effect. However, with this the lower sleeves start wide, and are reduced towards the elbow. There's ribbons threaded through at the elbow.

The top however is solid, small needles throughout, with stitches increased towards the middle and then reduced towards the opposite sleeve, where the large needle is re-introduced and stitch number is increased towards the wrist. In the centre portion, a circle for the head is removed by placing stitches on a small circular needle to be knitted up later as a collar. Mine is Dracula's cloak-shaped, with points that stick up round my head, but I have plans for other shapes, including a Scottish Widow's hood. I also have plans for a tight-sleeved (possibly gloved) cyber version in fluorescent colours and stripes, and possibly an open-fronted all-lace one in some yummy Astrakhan wool.

The inspiration is shown in the second photo. Us gothy types can suffer a degree of discomfort as a result of our dress, especially when the weather is too mild for a heavy coat but still chilly enough to require some covering over bosoms and arms. I could see a less ornate version being suitable for wear over strappy summer tops for those barbeques on a breezy summer twilight. It's not really a poncho, too short even for a cropped sweater - it should not obscure the delightful outfit below it: about nipple-length is right.

I call it the Corset Cosy (TM).

Ay thenk yew.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Eyelash Shrug

My sister was invited to a rather posh wedding a while ago. She really had nothing suitable to wear - she lives in trackies and trainers and has virtually nothing else. Over the years of trackiedom she'd also lost all sense of glamour, colour, shape, etc and had a hard time finding something to wear. She hadn't even tried on clothes in the shop in about 9 years! Since her evil ex took over her life and decreed that any attempt at looking nice clearly meant she was trying to pick up other men...

In the end she found something that tbh sounded like a trackie dress - i.e., thoroughly lacking in oomph. More phmoo really. Blackish-brown, straight-fitting (which means loose on her), nothing interesting in the way of pattern, fabric, embellishment.

About a week beforehand, she was complaining on the phone to me that she was worried that it wasn't 'grand' enough for the bash, wondering if she should go out and look for something else. And I had an inspiration. I had some lovely glossy black eyelash yarn that I'd bought intending to make myself a shrug, but I hadn't got round to it. Without saying a word to her about this, I figured if I really went for it, I could make it up over the weekend, post it on Monday, and she'd have it Wednesday at the latest. I got off the phone as fast as possible, mumbling something about her not being an important member of the wedding party or anything, who was going to notice what she wore, yada yada. Whipped out the needles and yarn and cast on loosely - Long-tail Cast-On works for me.

The pattern is based loosely around one that I lost yonks ago, no idea where I got it in the first place. It is however burned into my brain for all eternity. Well, sort of. Start by casting on 34st, increase 1st on BOTH ends of every 3rd row by making 1 (M1) into the second st from either end, until there's a total of 50st. Then continue straight for the required length, and start decreasing (k2tog the 2nd and 3rd sts from either end) on every 3rd row until there are 34st left, cast off. See? easy peasy.

I do not, of course, remember the yarn weight, needle size, gauge... But shrugs are flexible! That is the beauty of the things! They do not HAVE to have wrist-length sleeves, they CAN be a bit skimpy, so even if you totally foul up the gauge, or don't have the measurements of the recipient, or any of the millions of other things that can go wrong, it doesn't matter!! A shrug in its simplest form is just a wide rectangle, long enough on its long side to go across the recipient's back - but if it isn't, just borrow a bit off each sleeve so they're shorter. It doesn't matter. I do have one handy hint though - if it's to be a surprise gift, you can get a rough idea of the right size by finding out how TALL the recipient is. The distance from fingertip to fingertip of outstretched arms is equal to height. Knock off 6-8in for the length of the (adult) hands and you have an idea how long the shrug should be from cuff to cuff.

For example, I'm 5'6", with biggish hands, roughly 7in.
5'6" = 66in, minus 2 hands at 7in each (14in) = 52" from wrist to wrist.
Anything shorter than this is fine for a shrug.

I think it was a simple lace pattern - yarn-over between stitches on one row, drop the yarn-over on the next, repeat till you're fit to be tied with boredom - but, obviously, I is not jiggy wit da boredom. As the groovy young things say. And the effect of any lace stitch is wasted with eyelash anyway, as the fluffs hide everything but the 'hole'. So I used one 10mm needle to simulate the yarn-over rows and a 4mm needle for the 'drop' rows.

Wow! Two top tips in one post!

I only did the lacy bit up to approximately the elbows, then switched to two 4mm needles for the section over the upper arms and back, then back to the 10mm and 4mm needles for the other sleeve. Suspended bind-off gives a nice loose edge for this project. Sew up the lacy section of both sleeves right up to about 1-2in of the non-lacy middle section. The type of sewing up doesn't really matter, as the fluffiness of the yarn disguises the neatiness/tidiness of the stitchwork - I've even crocheted up the sleeves on some of these shrugs and it's not noticeable. Then, to tart it up a bit, I threaded a length of 1in black ribbon through the top row of holes in the lace and tied it in a bow opposite the seam - the bow is then on the outside of the arm. Finito!

Sister was thrilled with it, and got loads of compliments at the wedding. So much so that she went all Hyacinth Bucket and told people that she had a "little woman" run it up for her! and no, she didn't really want to say who, or how much her "treasure" charged. Mainly because she had no idea how much something like that WOULD cost, although I think she was alarmed at the figures people were suggesting, to try to winkle the info out of her - "was it more than £150? that's what X charged for my twinset last year and it wasn't this nice", etc. (Sis and I are both frequently alarmed by what people will pay for clothes that aren't anything special. The tight-fisted gene is a terrible curse sometimes). She even got asked if the entire ensemble was run up by her "little woman"!

Not bad for a Primark outfit and a few balls of yarn from a poundshop...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


My beloved big-baby brother occasionally sends Mother off on holidays - his sister-in-law works for an airline so she can arrange cheap flights. Last year he sent her over to me for a while. Very sweet of him - he is a lovely person - but Mum is not a good guest. We don't have a car, and Mother is the sort who would drive to the loo if she could get the car indoors. She's also from a generation of women who never set foot in houses of ill-repute (pubs to the rest of us), and cinema, theatre, etc., is out as she has the attention span of a goldfish with ADD so anything longer than 30mins stops making sense to her. Not to mention her inability to tolerate silences, which must be filled at all costs - this extends to the afore-mentioned cinema, theatre and indeed tv once she's lost track of the plot. She once kept me on the phone for 4 hours and 23 minutes on a Saturday afternoon despite my frequent requests to go and do my shopping, laundry, visit the toilet...

All this would not be too bad if her conversation were interesting - and it could be: she is an intelligent, well-educated person with an interesting life. However, her conversation revolves around soaps which I never watch, and food. Specifically, everything that has entered her mouth and the mouths of all her acquaintances within living memory*. I have IBS and cannot eat wheat, buckwheat, sweetcorn, rye, oats, and cabbage, and since I fell pregnant I've had severe heartburn when I even think about cream, bananas, smoked fish, cheese, citrus fruit, fruit salad... Guess how much I like talking about food. She doesn't ask how I'm doing, and could not tell you one thing that I'm interested in, because I don't get to talk to her, I am talked at. I usually tune her out and just go "ah-ha, mm-hm, oh, dear", and get on with the dishes, marking, having a bath, whatever.

So she came over for a week or so in the summer. I took her shopping a couple of days, once into town which was maddening - 20mins to get to the bus stop 50 ft from the front door? We got as far as Boots before the shops shut - and once along Stirchley high street. One of the shops we got to was a cheapie shop that sells remainders from catalogues. I've got some good stuff there in the past - leather trousers for £10, a suit for £5 - though they generally have a bigger range of 18-plus size clothes. Anyway, she got a lovely swirly patterned skirt and, after a lot of persuasion, a pink suede jacket, both of which looked gorgeous on her.

A while after she'd gone home, I saw some fancy yarns on sale, so I made her 3 scarves, all in pink. The first, at the top is pink and white ostrich yarn, which I made a keyhole scarf out of - there's a hole about one-third of the way in that you can loop the other end of the scarf through, done by knitting half the stitches on the needle up to the required length of the hole, then put them on a stitch holder and breaking off the yarn, and knitting the other half of the stitches to the same length, then joining the two sides together and knitting to the end. I found this yarn very hard to work with. It seemed to lose a lot of fluff - even though it's not fluffy as such - which got into my eyes and nose and irritated them.

The yarn for the second scarf, in the second and third pics, was like bunting! A long string, with little square 'flags', in a range of pinks from palest off-white to a deep plummy purple, at roughly one-inch intervals. Although choosing the needles was tricky - the band said 8mm - it worked up quite easily on one 4mm and one 10mm, to enhance the lacy effect.

The final scarf, in pic 4, was in pink-and-white eyelash. It's just an ordinary rectangular scarf, nothing fancy. I really liked working with this: it flowed well, and produced a lovely furry effect, though counting the stitches was difficult. I've acquired a huge stash of it in a variety of colours, of which more later!

All of these were knitted when I was still working nights at the Hub, hence the model - a very scary Angel left over from the Christmas display in the church next door!

Tra fn

* - Really. The menu from the wedding of the stepdaughter of a cousin of her next door neighbour but one, which was not attended by my mother or her neighbour, was the object of one of our recent telephone conversations.