Tuesday 28 April 2015

Baby Pink

This is probably my favourite earring pattern at the moment.  I wear a pair often and of course, the advantage of making them yourself is that you can match any outfit and colour you wish, stash permitting.

I was talking with a friend yesterday and she commented how pretty my earrings were (I was wearing a pair in turquoise) and it so happens that her birthday was coming up…. so I made her a pair.  I did check and she was lacking in the pink department so I made her this pair in baby pink (Lizbeth 619).

I like how the big pearl nestles in the centre of the three-dimensional flower.  These earrings are not flat and the layered design helps them keep their shape when worn.

Apart from that, I'm still knitting!  My son's green sweater is nearly finished and the socks are completed too.  I'll take photos for the next blogpost.

Best wishes,

Monday 20 April 2015

So Clever… So Easy!

It was great to get everyone's replies on the previous post, thank you!  You know the green socks?  Well, they had been on the needle for so long that I couldn't even remember how I cast them on.  So I started searching for toe-up cast-on methods (already thinking of the next pair) and decided to try the Turkish cast-on… what a revelation!  So easy, so clever.  I love it.

Makes a perfectly invisible start to the toe shaping, it all looks seamless and is easy to execute in my opinion.  I also found a new way to increase which I'd not used before:  knitting into the stitch below and then into the following stitch to increase one.  Looks nice.  Also easier to do than picking up the strand between two stitches and knitting into the back of it or knitting front and back into the same stitch which makes a little bump at the base of the new stitch.

I love finding out new tricks and techniques.  Don't you?  I feel so lucky to have ALL that information available at my fingertips (thank you internet!)... just a few clicks… and you can discover all sorts of new things you never knew existed.  Isn't it amazing?

Best wishes,

Wednesday 15 April 2015

I Love Circular!

Knitting that is… and needles.

I've been using circular needles for years and they just suit the way I knit.  I also find they make your knitting more portable (easier to stuff into a travel or handbag than long straight needles) and I just prefer knitting in the round and not having to sew pieces together afterwards.  It also means you can "knit" all the way, no need to purl - which makes knitting faster for me.

I convert patterns, like the one I'm knitting for my son now so that I can knit them in the round.  It's not difficult really and raglan sleeves are well suited to it.

I was just happily knitting away with a new circular needle today and marvelling at how smooth and pleasant to use it was so I thought I'd make a blogpost about it.  I also started work again on a pair of socks "toe-up-two-at-the-same-time" (first time using that method for me) which had been on the needle for quite some time.  I discovered how much I enjoy knitting with the fine wood tips on the sock needle, they are very smooth and practically silent.

When working something smaller like a sleeve or a sock, you can either use a longer cable length and work using the "magic loop" method (not the same "magic loop" as used in tatting!) or you can use two circular needles.  The advantage I have found with using two needles is that when you start the next round, your first stitch can be tightened against the needle you are no longer using, instead of having to tighten it against the cable (if using only one needle).  Tightening against the cable means your first stitch is a bit tighter than the others and you have to fiddle a bit to push it back onto the needle when you swap sides.  So now I'm using two circulars to complete the sleeve and it's working really well.  Nearly done.

Once you have made the first couple of stitches,
you can pull on the needle not in use and let it dangle until you need it again.

I'm enjoying my "knitting phase" at the moment.  Especially as I'm getting more and more used to my new way of knitting.

How about you?  Are you a fan of circulars?  Or do you prefer straights?  Short ones or long ones?

Best wishes,

Monday 13 April 2015

Old Dog New Tricks? Yes, yes, yes!

First of all, I will start with tatting.  Ben Fikkert.  :-(  I'm disappointed.  I cannot get this little oval doily to work at all for me.  The first rounds were already frilling a bit though I think I can sort that out with a light pressing… but that outer round!!!  No, no, no!  It doesn't work at all.  Not one bit.

There is no chance this will ever lay flat.  Even with LOTS of coaxing.  The rings are all overlapping.  I looked and looked at the pattern and I have followed it correctly.  I must tat very differently from Mr. Fikkert.  This will take a lot of amending to make it work for me.  It's now on the back burner.  Sad face.

On a positive note, I have finished my red cardigan while on our week's Easter holiday.  But I have not yet attached buttons to it.  Thank you for all your nice comments about the tatted frogs but I'm not convinced I will like the black contrast after all.  It makes it look a little too oriental (nothing wrong with that but I'm not sure that's the look I'm after for this cardigan).  Could be I just use the buttons on their own… or I may try the frogs in a different colour (though I'm limited in the number of size 10 colours I have).  Will update when I make a decision.  For now I'm enjoying wearing it buttonless!

Lastly, I have started a new knitting project.  My youngest (boy) said - to my delight - that he wanted a sweater for his birthday next month.  He came with me to the wool shop and chose the colour - a very bright shade of grass green!  But he wanted me to choose the pattern and surprise him.  He likes nature and bugs so I decided to make a diamond/leaf pattern on the front of the sweater which I thought would suit the bright green colour nicely.

I also decided to knit it in the round (my favourite way to work) and am now up to the armholes so I have put this part aside and have now started on the sleeves.

Now for the title of this post "Old Dog New Tricks"…  I completely changed the way I tat a few years ago when I started tatting again.  More efficient, faster.  Then when I enjoyed making my crochet blankets (and other items), I also changed the way I crochet.  Going from the pencil hold to the knife hold which I find much easier on the wrists and also much more efficient.  So NEXT, I had been revisiting the way I knit.  I tried all sorts of different things (some of you will have seen my musings on this and thank you to all of you for comments and to Megan for sending me knitting pins to try!).  I tried holding the yarn with the right hand and with the left hand.  I have finally come up with what works for me.  Everybody says continental knitting is more efficient… perhaps yes, but for the knit stitch only.  The purl stitch always looks cumbersome and difficult to make.  So I'm now still knitting English style (throwing) but I don't "throw" anymore.  I have modified my hand hold so that I never let go of the needle while I knit.  I now hold closer to the tip of the needle and just do a little flick of the index finger to get the wool around the needle.  It's a much smaller movement, quicker and more efficient.

So there you go.  You may have worked the same way for many many years and think you are completely set in your style and that you can't change.  But you can if you want to.  I like efficiency - in all things.  Needlework projects always involve a lot of time so if I can speed things up a bit, it's a good thing as far as I'm concerned.  I'm happy to have persevered (it felt very awkward at first to change the way I knit - you have to put up with being slower to start with before you get comfortable with a new style) and am now happy this new way of knitting is much better, and getting quicker, for me.

Old Dogs New Tricks?  Definitely.

Best wishes,

Thursday 2 April 2015

Sleeves? Yes!

I had another go at making the sleeves on my red cardigan.  Fourth try!  But I think it's working out this time.  I'm crocheting both sleeves simultaneously because I am making it up as I go and I want both sleeves to work out the same.  I'm past the elbow now so not too much more to go.

That bright red is incredibly hard to photograph!

So then I thought it was time I contemplated closures…  I made a sample frog closure from Marilee's book "Up and Tat 'Em".  Looking for a button in my box, I found this interesting metal closure.  What do you think?  I think I'm still going to go with the tatted frogs - yes?  Should I try them in a different colour?  Or do you like black?  It needs to be contrasting but I wondered if ecru might look nice as well...

Best wishes,