Being productive?

So all 3 cats have ‘had a go’ in the new giant wool cat beds.  They don’t need much persuading, especially if I place the bed in a high status location, like in front of the radiator or on top of the piano.  Uncle Herbert was pretty happy about his snooze here.

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Early on in lockdown I got a bit frustrated with being being unproductive, when I suddenly had all this time on my hands.  There are lots of articles in the news about how to use this strange gift of time, if you’re not doing your day job.  Some people even suggest that, hey, don’t feel under pressure to be productive, just enjoy your unproductiveness, you’ll never get another chance.   Well that didn’t sit well with me.  So after doing all the obvious lockdown activities like clearing the garden and re-acquainting myself with home baking, I refreshed this blog and set up knittingrev.com.  Time well spent!

Then, over the last 2 weeks I’ve been focussing on my art print business, Go To Design.  Wow, it really needed a re-vamp.  I have a website but most of my sales & traffic is on Etsy, Ebay and Amazon.  It’s been great to have the time and the head space to really think about the images I’m listing and adding new ones.  Categories, tags and descriptions have been spruced up, and 150 new images are now live, with another 100 to come.

I select images based on well known artists who are out of copyright.  I have to decide which artworks would make a good piece of framed wall art.  I get such a buzz when one of the new images sells!  It’s not always the image I would expect.  For example, floral still life pictures aren’t the greatest sellers, but this one sold straight away.  ‘Peonies, 1920’ by Charles Rennie Mackitnosh.

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To take a break from all this at-the-computer time, I am doing a Zoom pilates class but best of all I get to walk Meggie and Badger 3 times a week.  The weather has been sunny and the bluebells are glorious right now!  Here is Megs in our local woods, with her happy collie face.  She’s the most beautiful girl in the world!

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I can’t mention Meggie & Badger without giving a shout-out to The Cinnamon Trust.  I am a registered volunteer with them, and they do the most amazing work to help the elderly and terminally ill to keep their pets.  They celebrate and promote the special bond between people and their companion animals, recognising the benefits to physical and mental health.  Taking the dogs for a romp through the woods is a joy and a wonderful mood lift!

Hope you are all keeping well and finding ways to get through,

L x

 

Cat basket in progress

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For a knitting pattern to be successful, it has to be thoroughly tested.  Just as important, it must be easy to find the tools and materials needed to make it.

My giant wool cat basket is knitted in the round.  I’ve always made it using large 20mm doublepins.  Back in 2012, you couldn’t buy oversized doublepins anywhere, so I asked my Uncle to make some for me.  Many cat basket orders later, and a change of wool supply, I am still happily knitting these on the oversized doublepins.

Since then, extreme knitting has come on in leaps and bounds.  There are lots of giant yarns available from specialist suppliers, in both wool and acrylic.  You can even get giant circular needles for making those eye-popping blankets and throws.  But you still can’t get giant doublepins.  So how was I going to make my pattern appealing to knitters, if the tools for the job were not available?

Then I discovered the Magic Loop method.  This is how you can knit even the smallest circumference on any length of circular needles.  I tried it and found it really simple.  I knitted the whole basket this way and it worked a treat.  Then I knitted the whole basket in reverse – from the outer rim to the centre.  That worked too!

Next is to test knit the basket again, using 1kg of easily available arm knitting yarn.  Step forward Dove Grey acrylic from Woolly Mahoosive!  Let’s see how the basket knits up with this yarn…watch this space!

Giant Knitting Cat Baskets are here!

…and they’ve been well and truly road-tested by all three crew members.  I think we have the seal of approval.

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It was useful to make two baskets.  One came out a bit tighter than the other, and that turned out to be the best one.  This is because, over a few days’ constant use, they stretch.  So the looser basket has ended up a bit on the floppy side, and the tighter basket is just about right.  Also, as I knitted the base more tightly, the sides appear taller.

The crew spent hours lounging around in their new beds, which enabled us to take lots of scrumptious photos of them.  My partner is a professional photographer (thesheffieldlens.com) – I am sure you can tell which are his pictures and which one is off my iphone!

I am excited to make the next batch.  I might try a different colour, or at least, a different sheep….

Giant Knitting Cat Baskets here soon!

The new yarn is on the needles, and the cat basket is in progress…

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Wow this yarn is even better than I expected.  It’s bigger and thicker than the yarn I used for the original baskets.  And it knits up fine using the needles I already have.  So I don’t have to order a load more knitting needles to be custom-made in bigger sizes.

I have amended my pattern slightly to accommodate the thicker yarn.  I was a bit worried that I hadn’t maintained an even thickness and twist on all of it.  After all, the wet felting was a bit of an experiment.  But working the yarn, it doesn’t seem to matter.  There is enough twist and felting to give it a bit of structure.  In fact, I think it performs even better than the old yarn.

 

It’s easier to get a flatter base.

It’s softer, less like rope.  More like a big, squishy soft strand.

It’s got that characteristic, fleecy scent.

The stitches are massive, with loads more visual impact.

And….the cats love it.

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It’s not finished yet, Monty.

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Make your own giant yarn

Today I wet felted the whole batch of texel wool roving, to make my own version of giant yarn.  If it works, the cat baskets are back on.  This is a very exciting prospect for me, and worth the effort.

And it took quite a bit of effort too, transforming this

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into this

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and hanging it out to dry.

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Three and a half kilos of wet wool is really heavy, as I found when I lugged it down the stairs and into the garden.  It drips a lot, so that was the best place for it.

It took me about 4 hours to process the whole batch, including a couple of false starts and working out the best approach. There is nothing online that shows you how to do this (believe me, I looked!)  So it was a matter of trial and error.  I can see how my technique improved as I went along.  I needed to achieve an even thickness of yarn whilst not disrupting the fibres too much.  From about halfway through, I was happy with the result.

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The new yarn is a lot thicker than the yarn I used before, so I will need to re-write my patterns and possibly use larger doublepins than the set I have now.  Giant wooden knitting needles are easily available, as are giant circulars, but giant doublepins are rare so will probably need to be custom-made….

I’m very excited about getting my new yarn onto some needles soon!  Watch this space…