Saturday 18 August 2012

A tempory bind

So you've all heard the rumours that I enjoy cross-stitch. Thought I'd provide a bit of proof that I actually do enjoy this craft. While I'm at it, I thought I'd share a quick tip I use to keep my head when there are lots of colours in the design.

I take a scrap piece of A4 paper that's usually been printed on one side. I'm all for reusing printed paper. I fold it in half with the printed side on the inside, then fold the halves again. I end up with a piece of paper a quarter of the size with the blank side facing outwards. Then I grab my punch and punch a number of holes in the paper along the open side. Next I take a pen and jot down the numbers of the colours next to a hole. I also make a note of which pattern it relates to. Then I thread that particular colour through and loop it around the paper to secure it.

It means I never loose any of the project's thread and I always know which colour is which, even months later when I eventually get back to that project.

Saturday 28 July 2012

It's a boy!

A while back I shared my pattern adapting baby hat with ear flaps. It's been a favourite pattern of mine and all the moms who've received it. So far all the little recipients have been little girls. Well, would you know it a colleague is expecting and she knows it's a boy. How to adapt this wonderful pattern so a little man will be happy to wear it?

First things first. Colour makes a huge impact on perception of "girly" factor. The original pattern called for pink, yellow, white, and lilac - all pastels. Just not macho enough. Digging through my wool stash, I came up with some bold bright colours: orange, blue, yellow, and red.


The second hurdle to overcome - hearts. No self-respecting little boy would be caught dead in hearts no matter what colour they were. I didn't want to have to work out a replacement pattern as it was only six rows that needed changing. What better way to replace the pattern than using existing elements. I decided to pick out the middle five rows from the snowflake, and work in the additional row in the top band in order to keep the same number of rows before decreasing for the top of the hat.
Now there's no way this little chap will be mistaken for a girl!

Friday 22 June 2012

I've got a tension headache!

Are you one of those gang-ho type knitters? The kind who grabs any wool available and the indicated size of knitting needles and just gets on with it? I know I've often just ignored the tension square details given in the pattern, but to be fair this is only where the size of the finished article really doesn't matter. I tend to do this when knitting toys, as long as I know I have more than enough wool to complete the item. I do find them to be a tedious afair, rather dull, yet utterly essential in the knitting process. Ever wondered why that fabulous bolero, the one you spent so long knitting, doesn't fit? The answer my friend is in the tension.

Some of you may be wondering, what is a tension square? These are usually made up by knitting a 10cm square of the particular pattern stitch used in your project. The goal is to get the same number of stitches and rows in the 10cm square as indicated in the pattern. This is a sure fire way of ensuring that the completed article will turn out the same size as the designer intended. How to achieve this goal is the tedious part - it invloves possibly knitting a number of tensions squares until you get it right.

To get it just right, cast on the number of stitches required for the tension square plus 6 more stitches. Do this with the recommended yarn and needles as specified in the pattern. Make sure you knit as you would normally, not too tight and not too loose. This should result in you being able to maintain the correct tention throughout the project. Continue to knit in whatever pattern is given for the tension square(usually stocking stitch), and continue to knit for about 14cm and cast off. Now comes the measuring. If you find that the required number of stitches actually measures more than 10cm, your garment is going to turn out larger than you want. Change your knitting needles for a size smaller and try knitting the tension square again. If the number of stitches measures less than 10cm, you guessed it - that item is going to be too small. Increase your knitting needle size and start again. If you are lucky, you only need to knit two tension squares.

One more benefit of knitting a tension square is seeing how it responds to being washed. This will answer the questions that may plague your mind. Will the colours run? Will it shrink in the wash? Will it felt? A bit of effort required, but worth the peace of mind knowing all the hours spent will not be in vain when your item fits first time. Not only that, but you'll know how best to care for it to ensure it brings you pleasure for years to come.

Saturday 12 May 2012

Too precious

Whilst sorting through all my craft things, I came across a box with all my cross-stitch patterns and a number of projects in various states of incompletion. I pulled out an absolute treasure. Boy, did this send me on a trip down memory lane. I took it upon myself to educate my children in the finer aspects of crafts when they were younger. I tried to teach them how to knit, crochet and sew, which they went along with up to the point of frustration. Obviously lacking the same level of passion, they had varying degrees of success.

If my son knew I was sharing this .... I would be so dead! I might as well go all out and put it up on my Facebook for fun. When he was about 9 or 10, I tried to teach him cross-stitch. Seeing as he liked animals, I gave him a really small dog to stitch. If I recall correctly, he did remarkably well, with me to the rescue only a couple of times. I'd forgotten he'd presented his completed project back to me in the form of a hand made card. I just had to share.

On the back of his card he told me I Rock! If that doesn't warm the heart, nothing will.

Saturday 7 April 2012

Convert denim jeans into a skirt

I'm one of those people who struggle to find jeans that fit nicely. When I do find a pair, I'm afraid I wear them out on the inside thighs due to over use. I've currently got about 3 pairs of jeans that I can no longer wear in public.

I've been on the lookout for ideas on how to reclaim them, and I'm not a fan of cutting them into shorts. I did however come across a great tutorial on how to turn them into skirts instead. Thought I'd share this and maybe you too could rescue a pair of your favourite jeans.

Saturday 24 March 2012

Adapting a baby hat to add ear flaps

I often buy knitting magazines for inspiration. Most of them include 'free' items, such as wool or stich markers, in addition to the patterns. I like to use the wool for small projects like knitting baby hats for expectant colleagues. One of my favourite patterns comes from the January 2012 'Lets Knit' magazine available in the UK. It's a fair isle pattern called 'Faith', but I've found that in the chilly winter months here in the north of Scotland, baby hats should really have ear flaps.

Luckily the same pattern pull out included a pattern called 'Maisie' which did have ear flaps. That got me thinking about how I could combine the two patterns to add ear flaps to the pattern I wanted to knit.

Pattern adapting to the rescue!
You could apply this to any baby hat pattern designed to fit 0-6 months, knitting from the brim up, using yarn equivilant to Sidar Snuggly DK, and knitting stocking stitch at a tention of 19 sts x 26 rows on 10 mm needles. I include the pattern for knitting the ear flaps so you can adapt any pattern you already have.
Ear Flap (make two)
  • Using 3.25mm needles, cast on two stitches
  • Next row: kfb*, k1 [3 sts]
  • Next row: k
  • Next row: kfb, k to last st, kfb [5 sts]
  • Next row: k
  • Next row: Rep last two rows until you have 19 sts
  • Break yarn, leave sts on spare needle

Technicalities over, this is how I did it. With my ear flaps in hand and a total of 38 stitches, I subtracted this number from the total number of stitches I needed to cast on for my hat pattern which is knitted in the round (in this case it was 80 stitches in total). I then took this figure and halved it to give me the number of stitches I needed to cast on inbetween my ear flaps. That meant I cast on 21 stitches, then transfered over the 19 stitches from my first ear flap, cast on another 21 stitches, and transfered over the 19 stitches from my second ear flap, joined the round and jumped straight into the first row of my hat pattern.

If your pattern is not in the round, you would need to do the following. Halve the number of stitches you need to cast on between the ear flaps, which was 21 stitches, and cast on this number of stitches. Obviously, if the number is not a whole number, as is the case in my example, you need to round up to the next whole number and cast on that many stitches (in this case 11). Now transfer over the first ear flap, cast on the number of stitches between ear flaps (21 stitches), transfer over the second ear flap, and then cast on one less stitch than what you cast on first (this would be 10).

This is the finished project.

Saturday 18 February 2012

Warm feet

In case you're wondering, I do enjoy crochet, but I'm finally getting into knitting. It might have something to do with the wonderful climate here in Scotland. Knitting actually contributes to keeping my lap warm. Knitting on the tropical east coast of South Africa just wasn't practical. What with humidity of 110 half the year, and it being far too warm to actually wear anything I'd made.

I have to admit that I've usually got about 3 or 4 projects on the go at any given moment. It's in case I get bored with my current project. I can then pick up something else and get on with that instead. I thought I'd share some photos of a recently completed project. A pair of merino wool Norwegian socks. Admittedly started a year ago, but worth it. I've already worn them over 5 times this winter and they really kept my toes cosy with my sheepskin boots. Ah ... bliss ... warm feet!

Monday 13 February 2012


Well Hello All,

Welcome to my blog. I've been crafting for my whole adult life, doing one thing or another. From sewing my own clothes, cross-stitching cards, crocheting toys, to knitting socks. I want to use this blog as a place to record some of my projects, hopefully inspiring others to take up a craft so they too can be creative and have fun.

I won't make any promises I can't keep, so fair warning - I might not get to update this too often.