Studio Revamp

In preparation for the arrival of the Great Wheel, my studio workspace was due a revamp.  Time to get rid of the pile of cardboard boxes and containers where I stored my yarn collection.

My studio

Before

The OH redecorated the entire room and built 15 cubbyholes into the alcove.

After

After

I realise the yarn collection is quite modest by most knitters’ standards, but I confess there is an overflow in my wardrobe…

Till next time,

L x

 

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There’s a Cat in my Knitting

Cat-loving knitters, how often does this happen to you?

It's not finished yet, Herbie

It’s not finished yet, Herbie

There’s a cat in my knitting again.

He knows it’s a sure fire way of getting my attention.

If there’s no knitting around, then my desk will do just fine.

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Excuse me Herbie! Trying to work here!

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That’s it,  move over. Sit on Bagpuss. Let me get on.

Zzzzz....

Zzzzz….

If only our lives were as simple as the feline’s!

Till next time,

L x

A Week in my Studio

I just had the luxury of spending the entire week in my studio, having taken some long overdue leave from the FTJ (full time job). Allowing myself more or less all day to plan, create, and knit has been wonderful.

You can see from the sheer amount of clutter on the desk that a few projects are in progress.

Works in progress

A knitting pattern is ready to be posted, there are sample basket bases, a part-finished knitted handbag, some completed cotton cloths, double pins, needles, thread, and a pile of spiral coasters. I am loving the spiral coasters, even though they are not knitted, just sewn in place. I decided to take some pictures of them, with Larry’s help.

Thanks for helping, Larry!

Thanks for helping, Larry!

That's better!

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I think the cats have enjoyed having me around the house all day. There is usually one or two hanging out with me, either on my lap or in one of the baskets.

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The FTJ next week is going to be insane, as I will have loads of catching up to do plus lots of preparation for a trade event next Friday. But I must try to harness this week’s creativity and motivation, and continue with it in every spare moment.

I’ve got to design more patterns!

Happy crafting!

Till next time,

L x

Knitted Basket Progress

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It was going to be such a quick and easy project.  Just working part of a pattern I had already written, using super-chunky yarn on oversized needles.  I actually thought I could get it right in one or two goes.  How naive was that, I see now, after losing count of the number of attempts I have made to get it perfect.

The issue I have grappled with is getting the circular base to lie completely flat. The usual pattern of increases led to terrible puckering. Once I reached the sides and went vertical, it was relatively simple.  But I didn’t know if the base would lie flat until I had finished the sides. To save time, adjustment after adjustment, I just worked 4 or 5 side rows and pulled the needles out so that I could check the lie of the base. I realised early on that I had to work fewer increases to avoid puckering. But the exact pattern of increases was a matter of trial and error.  At the same time, I didn’t want to end up with too few stitches to knit the sides. Working out a happy balance between these two requirements was my problem. Finally I have written a pattern of increases that I am fairly happy with.

Whilst working with this yarn Monty is never far away. He is irresistibly drawn to it for some reason. Perhaps he likes the smell of pure wool. If I put my work down for a while, this is what I find when I return:

I like this!

I like this!

When I have finished yet another prototype, he comes to inspect it.

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He gets in and treads up and down for a bit before wrapping his tail neatly around his legs. I can tell he’s dying to make a proper bed in it…

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…if only it were bigger!

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I’m working on it Monty, I promise. This is the largest size I can make with my existing tools. My next step is to get rid of the seam and go circular. But I need lots of enormous double pins for this which will take a while to find….

Till next time,

L x

Knitting a cat

For a long time I have wanted to combine my two favourite things and knit a cat. If only I could get around to working out how to do it. Of course, I could have just bought a pattern and knitted a cat. But for me that would be a cop-out. I’m supposed to be a designer, after all. I looked around the web for knitted cat patterns. There weren’t very many out there, and in any case, typical me, I wanted to do it in my own way.

There are so many creative decisions to be made for a project like this. Firstly I had to decide how much detail to include. I could knit a blob with ears and a tail and it could be a cat. Or I could go for a lifelike, every-last-detail design. The more detail you include, the more parts there are to knit and sew together. You could end up with a complicated design which requires a lot of tiresome fiddling around. It might be a great result, but complex construction can be very off-putting.

So I had to decide on a basic shape, and then decide which details should be included whilst keeping the design as simple as possible.  I took some time out from the studio and had a cup of tea in the garden. I have a cute garden ornament in the shape of a cat. Actually, it is not in the shape of a cat at all, it is just a sphere with a cat’s face on it and a couple of ears. Uh….bingo! There was my knitted cat, right there. Inspiration strikes!

I really wanted to nail this design so I took the rest of the week off my day job and shut myself in the studio. I knitted for 8 hours with barely a break. I got a blister on my left index finger where I push at the needle with every stitch. I didn’t even realise I did this!

Herbie helping me in the studio

I worked the bottom circle in the same way as my cupcake. With some well-placed shaping, I added a snout panel – a protrusion to indicate the cat’s muzzle. I knitted up a couple of test snout panels before I was happy with the size and shape.

The decreases for closing the cat’s head were tricky to get right. I can only work out shapings like this by writing out every stitch on squared paper and counting out the decreases row by row. I wasn’t sure how steep the sloping should be. The first attempt wasn’t right so it got unpicked. More squared paper. I tried again, not sure if the snout panel was at the right height or not. Fortunately this time the shaping worked well, and it so happened that the snout panel landed neatly in the centre of two decreases, as if I had planned it. A lucky accident like that spurs you on.

The ears were easy, but the paws took five attempts to get right. It had to be a strange shape with corners which when folded over achieved exactly the shape I was after. Next job was the face. There was no getting away from it – it had to be embroidered on, and it had to be right, because the whole design depended on an appealing face. Several attempts later, I was satisfied with it. Then I added a tail, and voila!

 

I’m already looking at my yarn stash and sizing up which yarns to use on the next version. I may go fluffy.

I love the patterns which emerge in stocking stitch when you are shaping with increases and decreases. Those fluid vertical lines merge and separate in a very pleasing way.  Knitters, you know what I’m talking about….

Till next time,

Lx

Creative Space

To be creative, you need the time, space and inspiration to express yourself in your chosen medium.  If you are trying to create around a full time job and other commitments, that time and space are all the more precious.  I am loving my new workroom!

Due to a massive re-organisation of stuff upstairs, I now have a whole room for my creative space.  You don’t really need a lot of room to knit in, but it makes a difference when you are surrounded by the yarn and objects of your choice, rather than someone else’s gear relating to their project.  This room was previously a music studio, but that has gradually been moved downstairs.  A few bulky bits of gear were left, but after nearly 2 years of no use at all, we decided to clear it all out.  OH built me a worktable using the leftover piece of beech kitchen worktop and beeswaxed the surface.  I re-organised my yarn stash and gathered all my knitting books and resources together on the shelves.  It’s a fantastic hangout for me and the lads, when music stuff is happening downstairs.

Workroom Larry

From my chair I can see every ball of yarn in the stash.  Which tells me that I’m going to need more shelves.

I also have space for my spinning wheel.  I haven’t learned how to spin yet, and my wheel needs some attention, but for now it’s a beautiful and inspirational object and I love it.

Spinning Wheel

The stand next to it is a 1930’s cake stand.  I can just imagine it loaded with cakes, and the waitress in a frilly apron….  So where better to keep my knitted cake samples, in cake tins, on the cake stand.

Having said that, I feel that I’ve ‘done’ cakes, and it’s time I moved on.  I have a few ideas in the pipeline, but creative decisions take me a long time.  Hopefully my new creative space will help me to get moving.

Till next time,

L x