Saturday, January 19, 2013

Cashmere! Crochet! Cushion

This was a pretty big achievement in crochet for me. My first foray into triple trebles (and beyond - up to quintuples I think, though by that point I had a good handle of the logic of it). Actually, 'working behind each petal' was much more of a stumbling block. It took a few trial goes of the first several rounds before I felt I was getting it. And I was so focused on the crochet challenge and happy to get it done in time, that I enormously underestimated the other challenge at hand, that of knitting the cushion cover itself in a few days. With the regrettable result that the very dearly loved person left waiting for a Christmas present was the same one who last Christmas received one sock and the promise of another before it would be cold enough to wear them. Oops.
Minor variations from the pattern: I didn't do the outer (chain) rounds of the flower because I just liked the simpler design. Similarly I liked the idea of doing it all in one colour instead of contrasting flower and background.  The wool is more of that lovely green Patons Romance. I  didn't follow the pattern for the cushion cover, I just (ha!) went for the size of insert I already had, and made it removable, with a button closure. (I think I've figured out the better way to do that since last time. That one was posed fairly nicely for the photo but actually tended to gape too much.)
And just "making it the right size" turned out to be not so easy. A lot of the delay came about because I was overly concerned about making sure the cushion would end up looking well-stuffed (so the flower would pop out nicely) and I overestimated how small the cover should be relative to the filling. I knit the whole thing once, way too small, partly in a pre-Christmas frenzy. Then when I knit it again, still aiming for a 40cm insert, I ended up needing a 35cm one instead. And all was well in the end.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Yes, I do knit tea cosies

Oy. Hello! Happy New Year! So I had a few weeks off work, during which I was first busy, and then very relaxed and kinda trying to be task focused but not really succeeding.
Here is a little tea cosy I made for my parents for Christmas. It's will not, I think, be the only one I make for them. I think I need to do something more outrageous and embellished. But they have at least three teapots (I went round one day while they were out of town and measured them all) so there is plenty of scope for that to happen.

I think I am a bit too easily tempted by small projects. I have several bigger projects on the go, as well as certain garments I'm just dying to make (and have the yarn lined up for).  But between the felting - another deadline/opportunity looms and I need to get in gear to make the most of it - and the tempting little gifts here and there, those bigger things spend so much of the time waiting (then becoming mental blocks).
Lizard ridge tea cosy 2

Back when I was knitting my second ever tea cosy (by request), I was cranking it out at a party and someone said, with a pleased tone, 'oh, do you knit tea cosies?' Not if I can help it, was my instinctive response.

And it's not true, cause of course I can help it and yet here I am doing it again. I'm perfectly happy knitting a tea cosy. I just want to also make a variety of other things in between tea cosies.

Anyway, this is made from Noro Kureyon, using the Lizard Ridge afghan/blanket pattern designed for just this wool. I just started a square as written in the pattern, and when it was almost tall enough, did a couple of rows with decreases to taper it, and a row of eyelets. Did it all again for the other side and sewed the two together. It is a bit baggy, but my stunt teapot is a bit smaller than the target. Also I couldn't take the time, in the madness of late December, to reconfigure the pattern to be narrower.

I'd love to work out a feasible way to make a tea cosy in the round - so much of each side is the hole for the handle or spout that it seems easier to make two flat pieces. But the way this pattern works with the self striping wool meant that the two sides look very different to each other. The only way I can think of making it in the round would be to steek the slits in either side. I've never done a steek - could be a good opportunity to try it, though it seems like a lot of fuss for a tea cosy!

Friday, January 04, 2013


I made seasonally inappropriate Christmas presents for my mum and sisters this year. After a couple of mild years, we are finally having a proper hot summer. We might even be edging into a heatwave. The current forecast is for over a week of consecutive days over 30 degrees, with a few in the very high 30s.

Anyway, Christmas will always be in summer, so I didn't worry too much about it. I had certain things I wanted to knit for them, and each of these projects was a follow-up in some way to a previous project this year.

Sister E's purple cabled cowl sat so nicely at first, but after a couple of wears it rolled up into a large doughnut, and she has to use a brooch to keep it positioned. We had settled on the cowl idea after talking about what she likes in a small scarf - something she can throw on and not have to pin, tie or arrange - so I was really disappointed (though she insists she still likes wearing it).
I showed her a few pictures and we both liked Sev[en]circle by Kirsten Johnstone. After the doughnut problem, the way this pattern uses the rolling tendency of knitted stockinette fabric was an added bonus. It's a really clever, and simple, pattern. All the circles are joined at the back - I forgot to photograph this, but you can see many examples on Ravelry. There is lots of casting on and off, other than that, beautiful mindless knitting, so it was a good travel project. It's also very easy to customise. Once you see how it works it's easy to amend it to have shorter or longer loops, or both. And I think I only did six circles. I also found (like others have) that eight rows was enough to make a good roll - the pattern calls for ten, but I was trying to make the yarn (Patons Romance merino/cashmere) go further.  I've just finished another one for me, and now everyone else wants one too! I think I'm likely to start another when I take a trip somewhere, or need a simple project in between other things.

Then there was the Teal leaves scarf, which is wearable, but in the smaller gauge it wasn't really what sister D had envisioned. I went in search of bulky wool and did it again (so quick!) as the designer intended. It's Naturally Harmony 14ply on 8mm needles. I was really looking for a colour, not white, but decided I could give it to her for Christmas and then offer to dye it later. But she actually liked it that way it is (and it looks good on her).

The pattern for Mum was easy to choose too, because she had originally pointed it out to me - not something she has really done often. These are the Mica Mitts by Laura Nelkin (sans beads). I had enough Katia baby merino leftover from Mum's Chadwick shawl, and I liked the idea that the mitts would match the shawl in colour, though not particularly in style. I don't like things to be to matchy-matchy.

This is a great pattern too, and the lace motif looks pretty fancy for how simple it really is to knit.  Mum's not too much of a lace person, but these really suit her.