Thursday, 7 June 2012

Knitting Pattern - Cabled Legwarmers

I didn't think in June that I would be writing about leg warmers. Yes - leg warmers...

The weather in Wales is changeable at the best of times, but so far in 2012 we have had terrible cold, raging storms, baking hot sunshine and drought all mixed up so in 1 day you can have heavy rain followed by hot sunshine (It happened yesterday!)

I actually got so cold the other day I put on my trusty leg warmers. In the winter I have these on either underneath my trousers if they are wide leg, or if I'm wearing skinny jeans they go on top Flash Dance style.

I designed this pattern to enter a pattern making competition last year. It's the first time I'd written a full pattern with a chart to go with it. The cables go in different directions on each leg which looks cool.

I loved how these turned out - the photos I have is awful, and I gave them away as a present afterwards, so I'll have to try and track down a better picture - or you can share one of your pics with me after you have made a pair!

You can find the pattern details on Ravelry "Helter Skelter Cabled Leg Warmers" - and my other patterns are listed on my Ravelry page


Saturday, 19 May 2012

The dark art of Crochet...

I've been vowing to learn how to crochet for the last few years now. I found myself avoiding any of the cool knitting patterns on Ravelry which had the slightest hint of crochet in them. I tried YouTube videos, books, friends giving me pointers - nothing seemed to work.

In desperation I turned to a crochet class run by Calon Yarns in Cardiff. If anyone was going to teach me how to crack this crochet lark it was going to be Lynne. Her shop is a treasure trove of gorgeous yarn, friendly service and sofas to sit and chat with your yarn project of choice. My classes are for 2 hours on a Tuesday night for 5 weeks.

This is how it has gone so far:
First session: was a bit nervous - I didn't want to look foolish from not understanding anything. Luckily the other guys there were in the same position, so that put me at ease. With the course came a crochet needle, practice yarn for use in class and plenty of cups of tea. I couldn't hold the hook, tension the yarn or get the foundation row going as my chain was so tight.

Second session: worked on getting past the dreaded foundation chain and how to do some rows of double crochet (UK terminology) and then triple crochet stitches. It was at this point that it started to click - I could see where the hook needed to go to create the stitch which I couldn't see before, and once past the foundation chain my tension was much better.

Third session: worked on how to work in the round and my first attempt at a granny square. Working this way suits me better than straight lines I think - I really got into a rhythm making the granny squares. That weekend at home I made 9 of them whilst husband was out playing football. 

Fourth session: worked on stitching pieces together, increasing and decreasing, making a wave pattern and started on following a basic pattern for a crochet flower. I've decided I like crochet charts rather than written patterns - I hate knitting patterns so it goes that I'm not a fan of crochet ones either. I've decided I'm going to be a free-form crocheter and make it up as I go.

Session five will be taking place next week. I can't believe after 3 years of failed attempts after 4 two hour sessions on a Tuesday night I've got the hang of the basics. I'm no expert by far but I have managed to make this blanket over the last week:

It is basically a giant granny square, with a double crochet border in a lovely multicoloured green, blue and purple yarn. It's not perfect, but it's turned out way better than I thought.

I'd say that I'm still a knit-a-holic at heart, but now with a bit of crochet on the side world domination can't be too far away!


Monday, 7 May 2012

Solving little problems every day...

So - it's been a while!

A lot has been happening in 2012 so far. I've been pretty exhausted and burnt out at times - and that doesn't make for great blog reading. So now I'm back on my feet (literally) I can fill you in on what's been happening.

Most notable being that I have been into hospital to have keyhole surgery on my hip. It wasn't as bad as it sounds - and it's feeling a lot better already, but I've got to be on crutches for 4 more weeks (10 in all) and it is still pretty sore. I've got two little scars on my right hip. Lucky to have such a great team locally who operated on me so professionally.

As you may realise I'm not the kind of person who would want to spend 10 weeks on a pair of uncomfortable dull grey crutches, so I managed to buy some comfy ergonomic ones on-line that are shaped to your hand - much much more comfy. And they come in this great teal colour so much less boring!

One thing I figured out quite quickly was that carrying a shoulder bag doesn't work with crutches - it kept falling off my shoulder every time I took a few steps. A messenger style satchel was OK but got in the way as I was walking. I've got a little backpack for going out and about - but when you just want to take your purse, some lip balm and your phone it was too big.

So I came up with this little bag that hangs from the handle of the crutch. It's made from oilcloth so it is pretty water resistant (which is great in the wet spring weather we have been having) and fastens to the crutch with Velcro and to the handles via some cotton loops. The flap closes with a pop fastener. There is a little pocket inside for my phone so it doesn't get lost at the bottom of the bag.

Its first big test was when we went to Plymouth on the south west coast on holiday this Bank holiday weekend. It's our second wedding anniversary (seems like yesterday I was having my handmade wedding!) and we like to take a little holiday to celebrate. As you can see it was pretty chilly for May but the little crutch-bag held up really well. 

I love being by the seaside - the South West coast is stunning. Plymouth is right on the border between Devon and Cornwall. We went to see the Eden Project - it has an indoor Rainforest biome with lots of tropical plants (very hot though!), a land train, stunning plants and lots of info on climate and environment. 

We also enjoyed a trip to the River Cottage Restaurant, Plymouth Hoe and a boat trip around the docks. Very glad I brought my knitted hat - beautiful but pretty cold!

I'm counting down until I'm able to get off these crutches - 4(ish) more weeks to go then I am free! 


Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Free Knitting Pattern: Seed Stitch Hat

This is one of my favourite hats to put in my pocket - warm enough to keep your head cosy on cold days, but light enough to wear past winter months. You can also take a look at an easy pattern for using up leftover yarn for matching fingerless gloves

Again like most of my patterns there is no set size or yarn type - I have used double knit weight yarn which means the hat has a slouchy fit. The hat above was knitted using Patons Smoothie yarn - an acrylic yarn with a smooth silky touch.

You will need:
  • 1 x 100g ball of DK Double knit yarn - I have used Patons Smoothie
  • 1 x 5mm 16" circular needle (slightly larger than the yarn states so that the knit is looser)
  • A stitch marker
  • Scissors and a needle to weave in ends

1. Cast on 88 stitches (this will fit loosely on a 22" circumference head - to make it bigger or smaller add or take away in multiples of 4 e.g. 80, 84, 92)

2. Make sure your work is not twisted, thread on your stitch marker and join work together, working your first round in double rib stitch (k2, p2 to the end of the round)

3. Continue knitting double rib rounds (k2, p2) until your work measures 1.5 inches long. On your last stitch of the last round pick up a stitch (m1) so you will have an odd number of stitches on your needle (e.g 89 stitches) This is the headband section finished.

4. For your next row, work in moss / seed stitch (k1, p1* k1) ending on a knit stitch. From this point onward knit as if you are making one long continuous row - after every knit stitch will follow a purl stitch - as there is an odd number of stitches on the needle the moss / seed stitch pattern will work up automatically. 

n.b. The stitch marker is there to remind you where you started but it doesn't mean you need to restart the pattern every time - if you end on a knit stitch at the end of the round your next stitch will be a purl stitch. You will get into a rhythm of k, p, k, p, k, p, k...until you get a bit dizzy!

5. Continue knitting in moss / seed stitch until your work measures 8" (21cm) in total (including the ribbed part). If you have increased the size of your hat by a lot you will want to make the hat longer, and smaller if you are making a small hat e.g. for a child.

6. On your next round decrease by knitting two stitches together (k2tog*, k1) ending on a knit stitch.

7. Cut a long tail from your ball and using your needle thread the needle through the stitches left on your needle and take them off the needle as you go. Pull together tightly and secure by stitching the tail into the back of the hat and weaving the end in.

8. Weave the other tail end from casting into the piece.

...and there you go - a finished hat!

Please let me know if you spot any issues or have any feedback.


Saturday, 14 January 2012

Free Knitting Pattern: Beau Bow Headband

These headbands are so cute, and dead easy to make - be that for little girls or little girls at heart. As the band itself is ribbed it will sit comfortably on the head without moving. It's a good way to use up those smaller balls of yarn that you really like, but are just too small to make a hat from.

Here is the pattern:

You will need:
  • up to 50g yarn depending on the size of the headband you'd like to make - the one above was knitted out of DK yarn and used just under 50g in all.
  • circular needle or DPN of the correct size for the yarn used to make the headband - I used 4mm circular needles 
  • Straight needles of the correct size for the bow - I used 4mm needles 
  • Sewing needle - large eye and blunt ended  for sewing up

This will make a headband for a small - medium adult / teen out of DK yarn as above. To make it bigger or smaller add or take away stitches in multiples of 4. If using chunkier yarn and larger needles you will need to cast on less. Remember it is rib stitch and it will stretch to put it on. My head is 22 inches in circumference and this fits me fine as a very rough guide.

1. CO 84 stitches using your preferred cast on method loosely - you will loose the stretch in the headband if you cast on too tightly.

2. Make sure your work is not twisted and join together.

3. Row 1: K2, P2* repeat until the end of the round, finishing on a P stitch.

4. Repeat until the work measures 3 inches or desired width, and cast off in rib stitch loosely- again to make sure the work remains stretchy.

5. Weave in the ends using your sewing needle to help.


If you want a smaller or bigger bow just cast on more or less stitches. This is the size of the bow on the headband pictured above.

1. Cast on 20 stitches to your straight needles - try not to do this too tightly

2. Work in garter stitch (K all stitches) for all rows until the piece measures 5 inches long or desired length. Cast off and weave in ends. 

Bow Ribbon (middle piece):

1. Cast on 10 stitches to your straight needles. 

2. Row 1: K1 P1

3. Repeat row 1 until piece measures 4 inches long and cast off, leaving a tail at the end for joining the piece together. If you have made a chunkier headband or larger bow you may need to make this piece a bit longer. Test it as you go along to make sure it will fit around your work.

Making up:

1. Take the headband and where you cast on and off place the bow over the joins to cover them up. 

2. Take the ribbon piece and place it around the headband and bow so that the bow is held in place. It will gather the bow and headband a bit as shown in the picture. 

3. Take your blunt needle and thread the tail thread on your bow ribbon. Sew together the cast on and cast off edges of the row ribbon so that the bow is held in place on the headband. Sew in any threads left over.

4. Play with the bow until it sits where you'd like it to be then try it on! 

You can wear it with the bow on top or to one side. You can experiment with different yarns, colours etc. - why not have the bow a contrasting colour to the headband? Lots of different options. Please give me your feedback on the pattern or if you have any suggestions or improvements


Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Happy New Year!

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda!

The end of 2011 has been non stop - I started a new busy full time job in September which has kept me away from crafting for far too long. My fingers have been itching to get back to making things and Christmas 2011 gave me a great excuse to get knitting and sewing to create gifts for all my family and friends.

I've made some great little pieces for people including my famous fabric and hessian shopping bags which went down really well this year. This one is made of duck egg blue fabric with leaves on the outside and a heavy creamy cotton on the inside. Tempted to keep this one for me!!

I've also been making myself a scarf in a gorgeous rust colour yarn - I've been knitting this scarf since the start of September and I'm only about a quarter of the way done. I really want to finish it before the winter is over as I know it's going to go really well with my navy coat. I think I have enough yarn left on the ball to make some gloves or a little beanie hat to go with it, but we'll see:

The best handmade present I've had this year (actually if I think about it it's one of 2 lovely handmade presents I had off friends this year) is this gorgeous hand crocheted giant circle scarf / cowl with matching hand knitted hat. It's a gorgeous raspberry pink (not girly girly) and the yarn is variegated so it goes fat then thin so gives a great texture to the piece. Zoe has promised to try and get me crocheting for 2012 - I completely failed in 2011 in my attempts and just didn't have the time to stick it out. 2012 WILL be the year I get crochet!!

*** Note: Every single picture I've taken shows these as purple. As lovely as this colour looks these are actually a fab heather / raspberry pink. Either way they are lovely and she is silly talented! Check out her new Etsy shop to get your hands on a piece for yourself***

My other mission for 2012 is to properly get to grips with the double pointed needle. It's an odd one - I've mastered most other techniques fine but there is something about the dreaded double pointed needle that has foxed me. I think I may have to enrol in a Calon Yarns short course to teach me. I'm lucky enough to live around the corner from an amazing yarn shop here in Cardiff where they sell great yarn and run classes in lots of different crafty mediums. Throw in some mulled wine, minced pies and a sofa to sit and knit on and Zoe and I were entertained for a great few hours of crafty fun. Look how cool the shop is?!

We also need to start back up our craft night. There is a group of 3 or 4 of us who mostly live locally, and like to take our minds off the stresses and strains of work and the daily grind and sit, chat, craft and munch on some tasty treats. It must have been the summer when we met up properly last - again life and ill health keeps getting in the way. It's great to meet up with friends and spend a night in. Everyone usually brings their dogs too which is always funny in a small space!

Well, this scarf will eventually get finished - not sure if it will have tassels; at the moment I'm leaning towards no. The bobbly pattern is the interesting bit and I think tassels could distract from that... Please let me know what you think on this!

I've also missed having the time, energy, mindset and inclination to write a blog post. I think it's quite daunting to start typing if you haven't done it in a while but I think with a new year and after de-stressing a bit after the holidays I'm ready to dip back in to writing again - plus I wanted to wish you all a Happy New Year!