Monday, 19 March 2012

about the wristband

of course I didn't take step-by-step photos, because that idea always comes after I finished something.... but making the strap for the watch is really easy. I cast on a few stitches, worked the band straight in linen stitch and formed a tip by decreasing one stitch on each side, until only three were left (don't ask me how many stitches I cast on, I can't remember. not that many, maybe 9 or 11 or thereabouts? depends on desired width and yarn thickness anyway - and maybe the pattern you choose). I darned in the threads and started to work an attached i-cord over 3 stitches along the sides (start anywhere you like) the loop is formed by knitting a normal i-cord for some rows - until the strap is long enough to form the loop you'll need. then keep working the attached i-cord until you are back from where you started (you might want to fix the i-cord loop with a few stitches later, if needed to make it look neat). fix both "ends" together with kitchener - that's it. you can embroider, attach beads or embellish any way you fancy - or not at all. attach watch part and button/bead or any other closure - and enjoy wearing it! that's all there is to it - nothing fancy at all. if your loop part stretches or you made it too long in the first place - don't worry, just wind it around itself once or twice before pushing over the button.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

should I be worried?

today is mother's day over here. and I am starting to worry a bit! other mums seem to receive chocolates and bunches of flowers. I receive gardening mags and a potted gooseberry:) well, ok, I have to admit that I don't like cut flowers anyway - and it's the right time to get new ideas for all those gardening jobs! at least we have nice weather today - it's quite nippy, but mostly sunny (apart from a few hefty showers, but they moved elsewhere quickly enough). and it's supposed to go milder over the next few days.... I can live with that!
on the craft front - I still have to show a few finished items. so here they come:
 this is the "bird" quilt I made in january. I think the recipient liked it; it's backed with fleece, so nice and cozy - though I should have started it way earlier - to do a better job with the quilting. as it was, I only had time to quilt (by machine) inside the larger green squares. with more time I could have done nice feather or bird patterns - by hand.... and if I had a large board to put my blocks up - I might have realized that I did a botched job with spreading out the birds... there were 3 different designs and I should have put the birds in either looking in the same direction - or away from each other. not both.... well, what's done is done. but I freely admit that there are more skilled patchworkers and quilters around:)
I also used up the first ball of opal "van gogh sternennacht" yarn. I liked the blues in that ball - but during knitting I thought it might just as well be named "koi carps in a pond"... I started to knit on the train, without any pattern - and suddenly didn't fancy knitting stockinette. so I started a few simple lines.. which became rather boring after a little while:) which is why I added another few.... in hindsight I should have turned the leg part over - I think I prefer the look of the wrong side!

 anyway, they fit and they're warm - and cheery enough. I have another ball of van gogh yarn - darker blues and some yellows, inspired by van gogh's "Terrasse du cafe le soir". but I decided to finish two other sock projects first, while I started to dye and blend a few other colours for my "museum sock project".... which gives me time to think up a nicer pattern for the second batch of van gogh yarn:)
I also finished the cross stitch picture "generosity", which I had for some time. this was supposed to be a "no brainer"... but it was quite annoying in the end! I took it with me as a travel project, checked the back of the pattern for the yarn list and found I had everything I needed. off I went.... when I wanted to start embroidering - I found that the inner list of yarns had one more colour on it - and one I needed quite often! and of course didn't bring.... also there are several mistakes in the chart, nothing dramatic, but I think if you sell patterns - you should take a bit more care before sending them off to the printers. and on the small photo attached to the pattern it looks as if some areas have been done with multicolour yarn, which looks quite different.   anyway - I finished it in time for a birthday present - and I think the new owner liked it; she didn't know about the hiccups! I am finishing with winter for now though - I want "springier" looking projects....

another small project was to change the band of a wristwatch I received as a gift (for a sub)... I don't like wearing tight leather bands, so I decided to be inspired by "sprotte" and exchanged it for a handmade one. I cut off the leather and knitted a band out of handdyed silk, which I received some time back from a friend in wales. there were several small skeins and at first I didn't know what to do with them. but I thought the grey/earthen tones work ok with the silver/grey of the watch. I also found a suitable mother-of-pearl button to close it.

if I had to do it again, I'd change several things. I'd finish both ends with tips. I'd make them overlap properly (but I didn't have more grey silk for the base...). and I wouldn't attach the watch and then use the same thread for embroidery! which was idiotic - because if I have to wash the band, I have to take off the watch. which of course means that I'll also cut away the yarn of the embroidery close by:( lesson learned.....anyway, it's very nice to wear, soft and smooth - and warm at the same time. but not restrictive!

of course it wasn't all textile fun during the last few weeks! we still had to empty the polytunnel of about 60 large sacks of rubbish. mostly from the roof renovation after the rat damage! we ordered a skip - which didn't fit down the road to the house:( eventually the driver dropped it at the top of the road, which meant that essentially our road was blocked for 4 days. luckily the postman was able to drive up to the house from the bottom of the road. and we scraped past the one side with our bikes:) it was a job to pack all the bags into a wheelbarrow and push it uphill to the skip - but the job is done now and my polytunnel is free of the stuff - and going to be used again for its original purpose! Dobby had to sniff the whole thing out properly - of course!

I think the chocolate cake (baked this time:) should be ready by now - and when it's cooled down I am presenting it to myself for mother's day! I am also still working on the shawl "in the pink" (in white:) - but I've reached the outer border = plain sailing and a 10 row repeat (85 repeats though....). after knitting and blocking this I hopefully have enough silk/wool dyed to start the spinning for my museum socks! I tried a light green (dyed with reed flowers) yesterday, navajo-plied it - and it's just the right thickness for socks. but first - I use the small sample to knit/crochet a few more flowers... daffodils, daisies etc.... it's spring after all!

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

crochet, crochet and more crochet

maybe it's just me, but sometimes I get bitten by a "textile bug" and can't stop it anymore. right now it's crochet. ok, not without reason. I am supposed to do a demonstration about tunisian crochet at our groups' meeting at the end of march. and I wanted to do a sample or two. which I did. only - now I can't stop trying out as many patterns as I have popping into my head. and to make it worse - I have two new books about it as well:) I'd say the crochetmania will wane eventually - but right now I have hooks and yarn balls everywhere.

this was the first square. fine cotton, which I doubled up. this is one of the basic stitches, tunisian knit stitch, which looks very much like stockinette in knitting, but feels quite different. it makes a dense and quite thick fabric.
the second square is in the basic tunisian stitch, the most distinctive one, I think. it's very easy to do and the fabric isn't quite as thick as the one in knit stitch. eventually I'll put the two of them together (and make another one) to be used as a potholder. when you just start with a normal row of chain stitches, tunisian crochet rolls up quite strongly. to avoid that you can pick up the stitches from the chain into the single loop on the back - a bit like a provisional cast-on in knitting. it rolls a bit less - and makes the first row look much neater!

 I also made two samples from wool, a singles yarn (commercial) that I dyed ages ago. the red on the left is brazilwood, the brown done with tree lichen (the yarn still smells nice, after years in storage!). the right is a natural dye as well - but because I dyed so many different yellows over the years - it could be anything, I have no idea (and yes, that happens, when I think I'll remember - but of course I won't after some time:))
the samples will show not only the different stitches, but also the effect on the knitting. some are very elastic, some are stiff as a board, others look like knitting and so on... because they are so uneven, I will rip them out again after the demonstration. but working them made me remember that I had planned to crochet a bag in the wavy pattern from bottom left! in blues and sea greens....

early this morning I woke up with the thought that I should to tunisian in a circular project. I figured that short rows should work out well - and they did. the circle is finished now - but I think it turned out a bit too large for a mug rug, even if  I felt it! anyway, doing it is very easy and a bigger one  might make a nice pillow - though maybe not in a circus colour combination like this!

I am also crocheting flowers out of leftover plant dyed yarns. another group, who meets at the museum is collecting textile flowers for a project (not sure exactly what!) and they asked our group if some of us would like to participate. I found a very easy pattern to do and started to crochet. I'll do a flower here and there, when I have a tea break etc. - though the irish rose pattern takes a bit longer than that (the red one at the bottom). when I dug out some of the balls, I came across the fine singles yarn that I inherited from an elderly knitter, who lives on the Isle of Arran in Scotland. I'd love to get my hands on some more of those cones, but I don't know which company made it.  it's soft but strong enough to dye and knit nicely. about sock yarn strength and undyed natural white.... this was the very first yarn I tried to dye with natural colours - and I became hooked on all the lovely colours I was able to dye!

to prove that it's not all crochet in this house - here is a chocolate cake that was a firm favourite during my childhood years. it's extremely rich, because the chocolate mix is made from coconut fat, cocoa, sugar and egg (and a bit of rum!). but it does taste nice, as long as taken in small doses:) I hadn't made it before since I moved over here, but when I came home from a trip to Germany, I brought the right fat for it (not available here, the coconut palm oil over here is not purified and still tastes of coconut) and also the biscuits needed, but I think after making two in the last 4 weeks - it should be enough for some time to come!
of course I also finished the quilt and some other things, but I'll leave that for the next entry.... and over here spring has truly started - so gardening jobs are on the to-do list as well! the garden is full of daffodils - and all the berberis shrubs are clad in orange right now!