I just took the plunge…

…back into knitting, big time.  I had a word with myself, and went and ordered a load of natural wool tops from World of Wool.  I don’t know if it’s right for my project, so I will need to experiment, but this is the start of a creative journey, something that’s been missing for too long.

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Why on earth I chose to do it now, when I am busier than ever, I don’t know.  I checked back at my last knitting notes, when I was trying to source some alternative giant natural yarns, and I was shocked to find that I wrote them two years ago.  The article I stumbled across the other day, about knitting being really good for you, was undoubtedly needling away at my subconscious.

I can’t wait for my new yarn to arrive.  Actually it’s not even yarn yet, I will have to make it into yarn myself.  I will felt it into the size I need to fit the needles I have, and then test its strength and softness.  I’ve never custom-made my own yarn before so this is another dimension.

It’s time to stop prioritising everything else, get something on the needles and see where it takes me.

 

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Between projects

Yes, I am currently ‘resting’ from creativity. I am very much between projects. But I am spending a lot of time in my studio – my favourite place – planning.

Corner of my studio

Corner of my studio

In a surge of efficiency I finished off a few projects which were mostly done but required tweaking and finishing touches. I had some giant wool scraps which I turned into this lovely bunting:

Spiral wool bunting

Spiral wool bunting

A while ago I made this little ghostie from an old Jean Greenhowe pattern, and I never got round to sewing on the eyes, because embroidery isn’t my strong point. So instead I finished him off with some cool sunglasses, which made him very jolly indeed, as you can see.

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It is very nice to have objects about you which inspire and encourage. In my studio, these include my giant knitting needles hand-crafted by my Uncle, and the note he sent me in the parcel:

'Happy Knitting!'

‘Happy Knitting!’

My workbench is more or less clear and ready for me to start something new. Now all I need is a clear mind and a few free hours to get my notebooks out and start creating again.

Wishing you all the best with your creativity over the coming weeks!

Till next time,

L x

New Baskets are Ready

New 100% wool baskets are ready and listed for sale.

9-inch square basket

9-inch square basket

9-inch round basket

9-inch round basket

11-inch round basket

11-inch round basket

18-inch round basket

18-inch round basket

Carefully designed and made over many weeks, these baskets have all manner of uses.  The wool is semi-felted and slightly spun, giving a firm structural finish but retaining its natural softness. As readers of previous posts will know, cats love them. There is a faint scent of fleecy wool about them which seems irresistible to felines. And of course they are snug and warm. If your cat has ever made a little nest on your woolly jumper, your cat will love these baskets.

Larry likes it

Larry likes it

Monty takes 3 in one go

Monty takes 3 in one go

Herbie snuggles down before I've had a chance to cast off

Herbie snuggles down before I’ve even had a chance to cast off

They also make great work baskets, ideal for holding all your bits and pieces for a small project.

Basket will grip your knitting needles and keep them safe

Basket will grip your knitting needles and keep them safe

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I have had a lot of fun making these, and I hope you like them!

Till next time,

L x

Extreme Knitting Basket is Finished! And Snow.

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I finally got this project finished! I’m very happy with it and so are my crew. Now I have a firm pattern in 3 different sizes. I’m also thinking of what else I can make with this fibre. I love its bold, sculptural quality which could lend itself to other projects.

We had a lot of snow yesterday and a ton more overnight. This was the view from our window this morning.

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There was no chance of getting the car out so I tackled Saturday shopping on foot with a rucksack. Fortunately I didn’t need anything ridiculously heavy, like cat litter. And there are lots of really good shops fairly nearby.

There was up to a foot of snow, and it was still coming down. There were no buses running and only a few cars sliding about on the main roads. I decided to take a small detour to Ken’s to see if he wanted me to take the dogs out. They were delighted and he got Harry and Dixie ready with their smart brown overcoats on.

We headed to the park down the road from Ken’s house, and my goodness, the snow was deep! It was heavy going for the two little dogs but they were up for it. They hadn’t been out for a walk since Tuesday.

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They had to leap over the snow in order to get across it. It was quite comical but then I realised the poor things were dragging great big snowballs around after them. So I gave them a couple of treats and pulled the worst of it out of their fur. We found the path and passed a family having a great time building an igloo. An igloo, in Sheffield, on 23rd of March. They were using their plastic recycling box as a mould for the ‘bricks’, and making a very good job of it.

I took the boys back home and walked home myself, laden with shopping. We thought it was time Larry went in the garden. He is a Maine Coon after all.

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He made it down to the gate and back. Meanwhile, Herbie and Monty discovered that the new cat basket is big enough to share.

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Till next time,

L x

The Last of the Snow

Here in Sheffield, UK we are enjoying a glorious weekend of bright sunshine and mild temperatures.  Yet only 4 days ago it was like this:

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I went on a sales trip to Scotland, in some trepidation as to how bad the weather might be further north. To reach the motorway, we have to cross the Pennine Hills. There are two routes across this region: steep, rocky and breathtakingly beautiful hills which pass for mountains around here. The Woodhead Pass was closed, but surprisingly the aptly-named Snake Pass was declared open. At the summit, the road travels across a flat and desolate plateau, and we found it only just passable: covered by a thin layer of snow and  narrowed to a single track. Once safely down from the mountains and back in civilisation, skirting the city of Manchester there was no snow at all. We visited Glasgow, Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy, Dundee and Perth, all completely snow-free, and we were most relieved. Back in Sheffield, next day, another blizzard hit, and despite lots of grit and salt on the roads traffic was at a standstill by five o’clock so once again I walked home trying not to slip over.

It is delightful to at last be able to enjoy some fresh air in the garden and feel the warmth of the sun whilst sweeping up leaves and thinking about doing a spot of pruning. New buds are coming through and I haven’t even dead-headed the hydrangeas yet. It has certainly been a long and snowy winter. I’m looking forward to getting out and about with my dog-walking buddies.

Knitting is on hold at the moment unfortunately. I am waiting to hear from my Uncle about making some oversized double pins for me. He hasn’t actually said ‘no’, so I hope he will be able to say a definite ‘yes’. My pattern is almost perfected and written out, after lots of trial and error and more prototypes than I can remember.  So as soon as I have needles, I will be flying.

In the meantime, I have a nice little project on which is to design and make a set of clothes for my friend’s little girl’s bunny. Mrs Bun-Bun has had all her pink fur cuddled away and she’s looking quite naked. A skirt, a jacket and a hat are needed to restore dignity.

Till next time,

L x

 

So many ideas…so little time

Ideas are like buses.  None for ages, and then several come along at once.  Each one requires careful research into materials and methods. I have made a start on the knitted cat.  But there’s a long way to go before I am happy with my design. I have been making my brain ache trying to design a construction which involves fewer pieces to sew together, whilst giving a satisfying result which is not too awkward to make up. This is a work in progress. I found this yarn in my local yarn shop:

 

which said, ‘Knit me into a cat!’ So I snapped it up, and it’s waiting in the stash for me.

I also want to start selling finished items rather than just the patterns for my designs. As my time is limited, these items need to be simpler in design so that I can make them fairly quickly. There are some beautiful soft cotton yarns which I’m very drawn to….and I ended up ordering 12 balls of this:

Beautiful organic cotton in gentle colours. Yum!

I have done lot of pattern research recently and have knitted several swatches of reversible stitches. There’s no wrong side! How cool is that?

Any of these would look stunning as a scarf, in the right yarn.

Meanwhile, my extreme knitting project is on the back burner, awaiting some extreme circular needles. I couldn’t find any for sale in the UK that were big enough. So I asked my uncle. He is a very skilled carpenter, so turning some wood to the correct size, shaping the ends and attaching them with plastic piping is well within his capabilities. He very kindly agreed to help me. So, as soon as my new circulars are ready, extreme knitting is back on. Can’t wait for that!

Happy knitting!

Till next time,

L x

 

Extreme Knitting Cushion

I made a cushion.  Not a cushion cover, but an entire cushion, in one.  This is extreme knitting, folks!

Rocking chair with cushion

I started with a 400g ball of aran weight yarn.  I needed 20 strands, so I took my digital kitchen scales and started winding into 20g balls.  I was expecting a ‘baker’s dozen’ of yarn, but was surprised to find that my 20th, final ball of yarn weighed only 13 grams.  So actually the  ‘400g’ ball was 393g.  Bah!

I placed the 20 strands together, threw the 20 balls into a box, and started to cast on.

I used the knit cast-on, and I deliberately twisted the yarn a bit with each new stitch, to give a nice firm edge.  One stitch equals 2.6cm (one inch), so only 17 stitches were needed.

I discovered that the essential thing with this technique is to keep all 20 strands as even as possible.  With every stitch I was combing through the yarn with my fingers to keep it straight.  Each time I wound it around the needle, it formed a natural twist.  The twist gradually built up down the yarn as I progressed.  Every couple of rows some untwisting and untangling was required.

It took me 3 false starts before I was happy with the tension.  I didn’t know how many rows I would be able to work, so I just kept going until I ran out of yarn.  I was about 4 rows short of a perfect fit for my kitchen chairs.  So really I need 500g for a complete cushion.

The cats were fascinated by what I was up to.  A large cardboard box is one of their favourite things in the world!  And it was filled with little balls of yarn – second favourite. And said balls of yarn were being constantly jiggled about!  This was heaven in a box for them so I had to distract them with loads of other toys and then wait till they were sleepy.

What I like about this cushion is that it’s firm and soft, and it doesn’t look like you’ve just knitted a rectangle in garter stitch.  It doesn’t really look like garter stitch at all.  Just big, chunky ridges of yarn.

Hope you are seeing some progress with your own projects,

Till next time,

L x