Knitting and Crochet Blog Week

Egg Carton Sewing Box

Egg Carton Sewing Box

Welcome to the last day of Knitting & Crochet Blog Week 2012! I've had a great week. It's been such fun putting my posts together and I've really enjoyed visiting lots of new and lovely blogs. I hope you've enjoyed it too. I have to say a big thank you to Mr Myrtle and the kids. They've been very patient with me tapping away on the computer all week! Next week I think I'll have a bit of a rest... Well, after I let you know who has won the needlecase giveaway and which sweater you've chosen for me to knit! Oh, and updated you on my new designing adventures....

Today's theme is knitting vs. crochet. As you have no doubt gleaned, I LOVE knitting. It is my hands-down winner.  It makes me feel very excited and I'm a fairly animated person at the best of times. I'm told I talk quickly and walk fast. I'm chatty, and my head fills with creative ideas far more quickly than I can make them. Well, multiply all that by about 100 where knitting is concerned. Right now my hands are zipping all over the keyboard and my heart is beating fast. Knitting! Yippee!! What is there not to love? Yarn, patterns, crazy techniques, fabulous creations... bliss! 

Egg Carton Sewing Box

But, I am also an intrepid adventurer, especially where crafts are concerned and I don't like missing out when something seems fun. Have you seen some of the amazing crochet creations about? I want some of that too. So, I've had a go at crochet.

Egg Carton Sewing Box

I started with this wee egg. Cute isn't it? All through March I saw lots of sweet little eggs being made for Easter. Knitted, sewn, felted and crocheted. Eggs galore! I thought they looked delightful but didn't make any because I needed a reason to use my egg. I'm working at it, but I'm generally hesitant to make stuff that isn't useful, pretty as it might be. It probably has something to do with the vast number of things my kids make, and my aversion to dusting! Anyhow, Easter came and went and I didn't make any eggs....

And then this topic for today's post was announced and my sewing kit idea was born. I could combine crochet, a cute egg and usefulness all in one go! My egg could be a pincushion! I grabbed an old egg carton and found the best egg pattern on Greedy for Colour. If you haven't visited Kate and seen her knitted, sewn and crocheted creations, you must! Her blog is fabulous.

Egg Carton Sewing Box

The instructions were great and my wee egg didn't take too long. I used a cotton/wool blend from my stash and filled it with wool roving so it was nice and firm. I stuck it into the front of an egg carton with some super fabric glue so it shouldn't go anywhere!

Egg Carton Sewing Box

The rest of the egg carton I filled with all those necessary bits and bobs. I'm giving it to my dear niece for her 8th birthday, so it is a starter kit. There are some small scissors in a little padded pocket, a thimble, cotton, buttons, a pretty pink tape measure and I made a tiny needle case with yellow wool felt. Don't you just love those dolly pegs for the cotton? Oh, I think they are soooo sweet!

Egg Carton Sewing Box

I spent a happy afternoon with Nelly decorating the outside of the egg carton with tissue. We used lots of tiny pieces of torn pink and lavender tissue, layer upon layer, and lots of PVA glue. It really strengthens the box and the hinge, and adds a deep glossy colour. A bit more interesting than just paint.

But, it needed something more. So, I turned to the mother of all crochet blogs, Attic 24 for inspiration. And I found it! My lovely flower is from Lucy's flowers and leaves tutorial. Mine is a nervous little thing, a wee bit wobbly! I had to learn a few more stitches, but her instructions are fantastic and I got there in the end. I finished by sewing a running stitch in pink around the edges to pretty it up, and tie it in with my pink box.

And so, there you have it. A wee sewing box and my foray into the world of crochet! I would love to try more but I do have to work at the basics. It might be because I am left-handed, but I struggle with holding everything comfortably and achieving good tension. I knit right-handed and hold the yarn in my right hand wrapped around my little finger and over my index finger. With crochet, I hold the hook in my right hand and the yarn in my left. I find it really hard to get comfortable and let the yarn smoothly feed through my fingers. 

I'd love your help! Do you have any tips? Is it just me, or just practice? Can you point me in the direction of some good instructions? You can give me all your advice in the comments bit at the bottom of this post. Thank you!

Well folks, we're done. It's the end of Knitting & Crochet Blog Week 2012. Thank you everyone who popped in to see what I was up to. I hope you enjoyed my posts. I've loved your comments! If you want to see what else is happening today search 3KCBWDAY7. 



XXX




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Little Challenges

If you've visited Truly Myrtle before, you'll know that I sew as well as knit. I do use sewing patterns, but more often than not these days... I just make things up myself.... usually as I go along. On the other hand, when I knit I don't have quite the same confidence and usually follow a pattern, changing it only a little, and only sometimes... 

I have dipped my toe (albeit my littlest one!) into the world of knitwear design recently and published my very first (free) pattern Flower Power Headband, which was super fun, but aside from that, have experimented with pattern writing only a little. But, today, day six of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, I declare that everything is about to change! I am going to fetch my calculator, my yarn and my needles, gather my numerous books around me, ask lots of questions on Ravelry, and most importantly of all, ignore my fear and have a go at designing something lovely. Oh yes, I am.


Tess Cardy

Do you remember this lovely ball of yarn? It's Artesano 4ply Alpaca in Anemone from Peru. The ball is a little smaller now because I have knitted a swatch. This little swatch is the beginning of my challenge. To design something lovely. But what?

Maggie Righetti introduced me to the idea of listening to what my yarn is telling me, in her book Sweater Design in Plain English. I love this idea. It feels like such an organic approach and for me, removes some of the pressure to "get it right". So I knitted, and tried to listen. Sure enough, this yarn let me know what it needed.

Tess Cardy

It doesn't want to be knitted into a baby hat, like I had thought. It wants to be a wee summery cardigan for a little girl. Hmmm. Okay. What else? It wants slightly puffed sleeves, in garter stitch. It's happy for the rest of its body to be stocking stitch, provided it has a pretty, curved border. It's thinking moss stitch, or something like that. Maybe some eyelets. It might like a button closure, but only one, and it hasn't definitely decided that yet.

Pretty cool huh?! But now it's up to me to get this pattern rolling. To get started, my books tell me, I need to grab a ruler.

Tess Cardy

This is where I start to waiver. (And, looking at that photo, so does my knitting!) Am I counting correctly? It all depends on the swatch right? Accurate numbers and all that. I am more of a big picture, ideas person. Detail is not my strongest point. I am hoping to glean some knowledge from your experience. Will you help me learn? Will you tell me your design tips and let me know if I am going wrong!

Sorry to the folks who love inches, but I work in metric in my head and, as I'm feeling slight panic right now, to avoid any extra stress, I'm going with centimetres. I can convert it all to inches later... My blocked swatch tells me that in size 3mm needles, my yarn knits into a nice looking stocking stitch and its gauge measures 28.5 stitches over 10cm. So far so good.

Tess Cardy

It's slightly different in the garter stitch, where it measures 26 stitches over 10cm. It's fuller where there is garter, perfect for the sleeves. 


Tess Cardy

Lengthwise I have made a bit of a boo boo because I didn't knit quite enough, only 9.5cm. Whoops! Oh well, it's measuring 35 rows over that 9.5cms. Let's hope that doesn't totally muck things up... will it?

So, hopefully that's my first bit done. Swatch and gauge. My next task is to pin down the littlest person in our house and measure her. This sounds like the easy part. You might be surprised. I thought I'd make something for her for Project Run & Play this week. I know, am I crazy doing that as well as Knitting Blog Week, or what? Anyhow, it turns out I am. She flatly refused to try on the partly finished dress I'd made her out of beautiful red wool (more recycled Sweater... Earth Week, upcycling, my perfect challenge!) and I had to abandon the idea. If she wouldn't even put on the dress, there was no chance this two year old could be persuaded to pose for photos.

But back to my lovely design challenge. Given that I tend to invent stuff as I go along, I thought I'd make this challenge a little one ....that way there will be less to frog... And anyway, my yarn told me it wanted to be snuggled around a very little person.

If you want to see more challenging day six posts search KCBWDAY6. I'll see you tomorrow for the last of my Knitting and Crochet Blog Week posts for 2012. It's a knitting vs. crochet thing.... ever seen me crochet? In the meantime, don't forget to enter my giveaway or to vote in my Select-A-Sweater if you haven't already! X




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Select-A-Sweater

A little bird told me that there will be another summer sweater knit along over at Luvinthemommyhood in a couple of months. Despite my "re-knit", I am really having a ball with the tops, tanks & tees knit along. It's great fun to be knitting with other people, I'm enjoying the chit chat on the knit-along Ravelry thread and it's certainly keeping me at it. So, I'm definitely joining in next time. Oooo la la! More selfish stuff. You know it's just what I love, but shhhh, don't tell the kids.

So, because I just can't help myself... I've started looking for a pattern already. Choices, choices! I can't cope. I've managed to narrow it down to TEN lovely sweaters. Okay, nine lovely sweaters and a capelet (does that count? Oh well, it's in). Now, I need your help. 

Will you please pick the sweater you would like to see me knit? Pretty please? They're lined up below for you to see and links to pattern details are below each photo. You can vote, in the poll on the right sidebar. Click on your favourite, or even favourites. Because I understand the lure of lovely patterns I'll let you vote more than once. Who knows? If there's a tie, I might have to knit two ;)

Voting will be open until the end of the weekend. I'll let you know which one has won next week, and then I'll start drooling over yarn and knitting my swatch!

So, here they are - the lovely line up.... in alphabetical order... 


Flowing Lines

Ingenue

Kerrera

Laika

Lanata
Image copyright - Jane Heller



Twiggy Cardigan

01
White light by Veera



 Aren't they just fabulous?!
Right, let the voting commence!
Thank you X






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Knitting - whatever the weather

Well, I don't know about you, but I knit whatever the weather. Hot, cold or in between, click, click, click go my needles. One very hot summer a few years ago I knitted beside beaches and swimming pools all over Europe. I did get a few funny looks, but I hid behind my sunglasses and managed to get a bunch of cardigans and sweaters finished for my two big kids, ready for their first cold English winter. 

Usually I knit according to the weather outside. Or at least I save bigger projects for cooler weather. Last year I knitted a couple of pairs of socks while we were camping. In really hot weather they are the perfect item to knit. Light and small, quick satisfaction.
In contrast, during the winter, nothing is nicer than a lap full of scrummy warm wool.

So, what is on my needles during this wet and chilly spring weather we're having now?


Silver buttercup

My "main" knitting is my silver Buttercup for the luvinthemommyhood tops, tanks & tees knit along. To be honest I have had mixed feelings about this knit. I started with a hiss and a roar; zooming down from the neck, joining it in the round, enjoying the lace along the front and then splitting the body from the sleeves. And then I tried it on and... it was too big! 

You see, I am at the bottom end of one size, but the next size down is just too small. I contemplated going down a size but then thought to check my gauge. What was this! I was off.... by TWO whole stitches!!! How did that happen? My swatch was okay... I even did the fancy swatching in the round technique suggested by Jane Richmond. In the end, I decided it was the toddler's fault. She jumps on and off my lap in the evenings and my knitting goes all lax.

So I frogged the lot. Went down a couple of needle sizes and started again. I am using my metal tips this time and although they are faster to knit with, I've made slower progress. I think it is because it's the second time round and I've lost my va va voom. 
I'm finally just past the point I was when I unpicked the lot. I'm heading down the body again. Setting aside that niggling thought that I should be finished by now.... I think I'm starting to feel the love again...


whispi

My Wispi is also still ticking along. It's on a holder right now because I've pinched the needle tips for my Buttercup. But it is slooooowly growing. I did say this would be background knitting, and it is! I pick it up when I don't have something else handy... I'm still loving the colour!


So far, I've made it down the arm and am working my way across my back. Remember how I had plans to adjust the pattern? I want longer, fitted sleeves and I've knitted them in the round. So far, my number crunching is working out okay. I'm knitting the Women's medium size and I cast on 52 stitches instead of the 78 required. I popped a stitch marker bang in the middle and knitted in the round,  increasing either side of the marker every 8 rows, until I had 78 stitches. I've used the Elizabeth Zimmerman M1 increase which looks great. Once I reached 78 stitches I tried the sleeve on and decided that I wanted it even longer, so I kept knitting round after round, trying it on, then knitting more and more, until it was as long as I wanted it. In the end I have a super long sleeve, 53.5cm/21" from my armpit to cuff.


Now I am following the pattern, knitting flat, till I get to the other side of the back. Then I have to remember what I did for the first sleeve.... and do it backwards. Wish me luck!





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3KCBWDAY4

Heroes


I cannot imagine life without knitting. Making things with needles and yarn is the very stuff of life... sound mad? Probably, but it feels good.

It's day three of Knitting and Crochet Blog week. Have you been enjoying all the different posts? I have. If you want to search to see what others are writing each day on their blogs, today's search code is 3KCBWDAY3. For other days, see the search codes listed at the bottom of my post.

Today the theme is Knitting Heroes. Ah, knitting heroes, I have a few....

Obviously, there are the designers.

wray14
Lily Kate wearing Wray by Lily Kate France (image used with permission)

Take Lily Kate France. She's a whizz. Talented knitter. Fabulous, inspiring designs. And, I'm sure she's sick of hearing it... but she's 14 years old.

To me she represents the exciting future of knitting. Knitting is okay again. It's not just the domain of elderly ladies and mums-to-be. Young, vibrant designers are creating beautiful patterns for young, vibrant knitters.


Flowing Lines
Veera wearing Flowing lines by Veera Välimäki (image used with permission)

And, Finnish designer Veera Välimäki. I've mentioned her before. Veera's patterns are interesting in their construction and very stylish. Knitwear is for wearing again! Beautiful handmade garments are desirable. Even better, we can make them ourselves.

mc2
McCafferty by Lily Kate Frances (image used with permission)

Of course there are others. Designers I avidly follow, waiting for their next fabulous creation. Patterns I'm itching to knit and techniques I'd love to try. There's Ysolda (of course!), Gudrun Johnston, Jane Richmond, Thea Coleman and Hannah Fettig, to name just a few.

But for me, Lily Kate and Veera represent just what I love about knitting in 2012. Knitting is fresh, exciting and very much alive!


Veera - Something Sliver
Something Sliver by Veera Välimäki (image used with permission)

Then, there are the writers. Interesting, captivating and fascinating, they write about the ins and outs of technique interspersed with knitterly tales. Can you believe it!!! Neither could I. I was especially excited when I found out about knitting podcasters. Yip, you read me right. Podcasters. You too can listen to knitting talk. My favourites are Nevernotknitting, IMake and The Electric Sheep by Hoxton Handmade. But, have a look around for yourself, there are gazillions!

At this point I should probably backtrack and mention that the knitting festival Knit Nation changed my life. No, it really did! I first went in 2010 and it was AMAZING! I was completely blown away by the numbers of people, the range of yarn, everything. Here was a huge hall of "normal" looking people obsessed with yarn and sticks. They were just like me. I couldn't believe it.

You see, I've always knitted. I tinkered around as a kid making up stitches and combining colours. I've made my fair share of ridiculously long scarves and boxy jumpers. For the last ten years I've done a ton of knitting. Mostly for my kids. Mostly from old patterns and New Zealand yarn. But, prior to that fateful day in 2010 when I was lucky enough to spend the day at Knit Nation, my fourth baby in a sling, I knew only a few knitters. I had just found out about Ravelry, only a week or so before, but was bamboozled and hadn't had a proper look. I'd never heard of independent designers or indie dyers. I nearly died with excitement. And, when I got home, I announced to Mr Myrtle that there would be no more babies. I had too much knitting to do.

"I should have sent you years ago" Mr Myrtle laughed.

hinksey
Hinksey by Lily Kate Frances (image used with permission)

And then I learned of Elizabeth Zimmerman, Barbara Walker, Maggie Righetti... giants of the knitting world. Where had I been?! Never mind. I was here now.

Elizabeth Zimmerman in particular really strikes a chord with me. Her books of "patterns" read like stories and I frequently find myself laughing out loud. You can't help but feel good when you find out that someone else knits on car journeys and grabs a few rows while waiting for the dinner to cook. I thoroughly recommend finding her books if you haven't already.


Veera - Still Light Tunic
Still light tunic by Veera Välimäki (image used with permission)

And so, these are some of my knitting heroes. Designers, writers and icons. But, there are many more...

My Grandmother and my mum were the first, and, for a long time, the only knitters in my life. My first heroes. My grandmother taught me to knit and my mum has a yarn and pattern collection that is worthy of a museum. You'll find her every evening with knitting in her hands. And, weekend mornings where will she be? Propped up in bed, tea and toast, listening to the radio.... knitting.

These days I am lucky to have found many more knitting heroes. Everyday knitters just like me, chat on Ravelry 24/7, about knitting, the ins and outs of stitches, techniques, patterns and accessories. We oooh and ahhh over beautiful yarn and lovely needles. We admire each other's projects. These are my everyday knitting heroes, from all over the globe... and, I love it!

So, if you're after some knitting heroes of your own and you haven't joined Ravelry, go, do it now, it’s free! And, if making things with yarn and needles makes you feel good, alive even, then you are my Hero!

See you tomorrow X





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