Sunday, 30 April 2017

Looking forward to May

We've not been having the best week here, the weather has been cold and grey and not at all like it should be. I'd been looking forward to Felicity going to preschool for longer morning sessions and having a bit more time to myself and then Cassie came down with chickenpox so I've had both of them home all week instead. It looks like Cassie should be back to school on Tuesday and then i just have to wait for Felicity to come down with it too. However, May is promising to be a super fun month so there is lots to look forward to.

Pox Child!

Today is the first day of a long weekend, so there's no work or school on Monday which is super useful as it's both the beginning of Me Made May and the latest Boo Knits Mystery Knitalong, Just Be You

Me Made May was really fun for me last year and also very useful when looking at my handmade wardrobe as a whole. I didnt actually find it too difficult to wear an item of handmade clothing every day so I wondered whether to bother again this year as it will probably be even less challenging but I do think it is a useful excercise for identifying wardrobe gaps and focussing on what I need to be making so I went ahead and made this pledge for this year:

"I Hannah of hannahknitsstuff sign up as a participant of Me Made May 2017. I endeavour to wear at least one me made item each day, with no outfit repeats for the duration of May 2017. I will be awarding myself bonus points for kids/husband also wearing handmade clothes,"

This is similar to the pledge I made last year, although I didn't deliberately try not to repeat my outfits. Essentially I will be trying as far as possible to largely wear only clothes I've made myself there are some things I will never bother making, like little jersey tank tops that I wear under shirts a lot so I just stuck with pledging to wear at least one item. Last year i discovered that i didn't have enough warm weather clothing and I found things more difficult towards the end if the month as the weather warmed so I'm currently working on sleeveless dresses and tops just to be sure I'm not caught out the same way again this year.

The main even in May will however be the Boo Knits MKAL. It is entitled Just Be You and there are 6 clues released between 1st and 19th May, which sounds pretty full on but I prefer that to having to wait for days for the next clue when I've completed the previous one. The suggested yarn for this one is Lichtfaden Meridian and as a massive treat for myself I waded into a Sunday afternoon Etsy update and found this one of a kind skein in Violet Grey calling me very strongly.

It made its way from Germany in just under a week and I have to say that it did not disappoint me at all. The purple is just beautiful and the yarn is shiny and drapey and just glows. I honestly cannot wait to get this stuff on my needles!

Picking beads was a a bit more difficult. I ordered 2 different types of beads to try out. Czech etched beads in Crystal Vitrail Light

and Toho Tanzanite Lined Crystal

and at the same time I ordered these Czech Etched Crystal Chrome which I had intended for another project altogether

Of course once I got them on the yarn it was clear that the Etched Crystal Chrome were the ones for me so I had to order a load more as i didnt have enough! Stu disagreed with me and was all for the Tohos but I decided that his eyes must be broken and have entirely disregarded his input.

So I'm all ready to go, roll on May!

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Sew Over It Nancy

As soon as I got the email from So Over It introducing the Nancy dress pattern I knew it was one of those patterns that I had to have. The dress isn't my usual type of thing bit for some reason it really appealed to me. I joined the Sew Over It PDF Club for a fiver and claimed this as my free pattern so I saved myself £2.50 on the pattern, well worth doing if one of their PDF only patterns is calling you.

I chose Version 2, which has a slightly lower neckline, entirely at random as I think both necklines are very nice. This dress has a lovely loose drapey shape, but is fitted through the bust and sleeves as well as the back which stops it being at all sack like or giving off maternity vibes. All the volume is added with the addition of side panels which are sewn in under the bust. I was initially concerned that the panels would be super fiddly to sew, but actually it was really simple and they slotted in with no trouble at all. With a patterned fabric like this you can't see that the panels are there at all, but the shape they give is really nice. They are off grain, however, so I left the dress to hang for a few days before hemming like a good girl. A total test of patience for me! I'm aware that these photos make it look like I did a terrible job of hemming this straight after all that, but it honestly doesn't look that bad in real life. I think that as I'm leant slightly over all of the fabric sort of pooled over on one side and make it look super lopsided. It really isn't though, unless of course I generally list to the other side as I go about my daily business!

There is no fastener in the back of this dress, save for a hook and eye. I made a right dogs dinner of sewing mine in and I really should do it again. Next time I'll stick in a ribbon loop and button or just use a snap. I really like the way it looks, the open back adding to the whole easy-breeziness of the dress.

Overall I don't have a lot more to say about this dress, I really like it, it is super comfortable and very quick and easy to make. Mostly I just love it for the way it billows around me as I sweep down the stairs! Like my Sew Over it Heather dress it is a little snug in the sleeves, but whether that's because I chose the wrong size or because I have disproportionately huge arms I don't know. It's perfectly wearable, just a little fitting niggle I need to work out for next time. The fabric is a black anchor print viscose I bought recently. I always keep a stock of viscose with fun prints on to hand because its one of my favourite things to wear and with summer coming expect to see a lot more floaty viscose dresses right here.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

2017 Boo Challenge: Kindred Spirit

Well knock me down with a feather I've only gone and finished shawl number six of my Boo shawl challenge!

Just to mix things up a little I set aside the beads, took a break from lace and chose Kindred Spirit for my 6th shawl.
As soon as I saw this pattern I knew it would be a perfect showcase for some of my handspun yarn as well as using up some of the mohair in my stash.  This yarn is particularly special as it was actually years in the making so I'm very glad to use it!
The fibre was a sparkly BFL blend that I bought years ago and began spinning on a drop spindle, long before I even thought of buying a wheel.  The fibre had lovely long chunks of colour so when I finshed spinning it I decided to try my hand at chain plying to preserve the colour changes.  Long story short, that did not go well and my next 'logical' move was to pre-chain the singles before adding the twist separately once it had all been chained.  Yep.  Unsurprisingly any enthusiasm I had for that task wore off quickly and the whole thing got set aside for a very long time.  Eventually I mastered chain plying on the wheel, plyed up the section of prechained singles and the chain plyed the rest as I went.  Happily it turned out really nicely, the colours are perfect and the yarn has a really lovely shimmer to it.  I chose some black mohair from the stash to complement it for this shawl.
Because this was handspun I didn't want to waste a single yard which led to me carelessly not leaving enough to complete the border properly.  Whoops!  I considered switching to the contrast yarn and continuing but in the end I just decided to go with a shortened border and I think it looks fine.  I was beginning to lose interest by that point any way - obviously missing my lace and beads!  This is a lovely shawl anyhow, perfect for when I need something a bit snugglier than lace but still slightly sheer and delicate looking.  I'd like to make this again with less contrast between the main and contrast yarn for a very different look.  All in all I'm very happy, but excuse my while I go break out the beads for the next one!

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Miss Daisy

More tiny knitting today! With a new baby brother cramping her style I figure my niece Alice deserved some new knitwear too. I've had Miss Daisy by Lisa Chemery on my to knit list for an age so I thought this was the perfect time to go for it.

I used DROPS Loves You 5 again for this, in a very memorable shade of green. Nothing like eye searing acid green to chase away all memories of rainbows!

I'll admit that knitting this did seem like a bit of a slog. The raglan section was really fast but then you pick up stitches all around and knit the shawl collar and lower back all together in the round. The rows seem pretty long at this point and then you double your stitches and they get even longer. It was pretty inevitable that whatever I knitted after doing a bunch of tiny baby clothes it was going to seem epic, but this probably wasn't the best choice. Once that bit was done the sleeves went super quickly and all in all this only took 5 days of fairly leisurely knitting, so I'm aware that it seemed to take longer than it did in reality.

With the ends all woven in, it was time to choose a button which is always a fun task for me. I was very surprised by how many colours look really good with acid green! I toyed with bright pink, turquoise, purple and white but in the end I picked one that matched perfectly instead. I felt that all the other colours looked fab but drew the eye too much and rather stole the show. I'd love to make a plainer cardigan in a similar shade and let the buttons be the stars but on this occasion it didn't feel right. The button I picked does have a nice little pattern on it, so it's not completely plain. It's also nice to use one of the random single buttons that I have in the stash because I so often need a whole set and the ones with no friends always get overlooked.

Overall I'm happy with this, I think it will be a while before I knit another because it felt like a whole lot of never-ending ribbing but it's a pretty cardigan and I would love to knit one for Felicity before she gets too much bigger. She'll want purple though, always purple!

Friday, 7 April 2017

Rainbows, rainbows, everywhere

After I'd finished the rainbow blanket for my nephew I was left with rather a lot of rainbow yarn and rather than let it sit and wonder what to do with it I wanted to just cover this baby with rainbows.  I'm a massive fan of Mothercare's Little Bird collection and I know my SIL is too so I was really aiming for that sort of vibe when I was planning these projects.

A short flick through my Ravelry faves served up Short Notice and Bug Warmer by Taiga Hilliard.  These patterns are the perfect blank canvas for stripes and looked quick and simple.  I wanted to use neutralish background colours with a single rainbow splashed across the chest and I think it's worked really well.
My first project was a Short Notice in Grey.  I actually started it while I was waiting for the extra yarn for the border of Alfred's blanket but as I had some grey DROPS Paris in the stash I decided to get going on this in the meantime.  I only had one ball of the grey and I wasn't sure how far it would go, but I set out by knitting a 2 row stripe of each of the rainbow colours to see where I'd end up.  As I was nearing the end of the body it became quite clear that I wasn't quite going to have enough so I ripped back and switched to 3 row stripes instead.  I still only had enough for short sleeves but I was glad to have used the yarn up as it had been in the stash for a while!  I did much prefer the look of the smaller stripes, but this still turned out cute and it meant that I didn't end up with all of the ends on one side.
I chose little rainbow buttons because you can never have enough rainbows!
Next up, Bug Warmer.  I'd chosen this turquoise for a sort of sky effect and I was tempted to add some white clouds around the hem and cuffs, but ultimately I couldn't be bothered, so I didn't!  I used DROPS Loves You 5 for this, along with the rainbow Paris scraps.  This was an even quicker knit than Short Notice due to the open front and is a perfect pattern if you need an near instant baby gift.  I had plenty of yarn this time so I did full length sleeves.  Cute huh?
After that I had a quick break from cardis and rainbows and knit a little Julian vest in yellow DROPS Paris.  I'd knit one of these in grey for Alice and it had been very well received.  I knew that one was all washed and ready for the new baby to wear so I made this one in 3 month size for when he grows out of the grey one.  I love this pattern, I've knitted it three times and I'll probably keep knitting them for any babies that cross my path, it's just adorable.
And last but not least, another Short Notice in white to match the blanket.  I actually cast on for this one as soon as I'd heard that Alfred had arrived.  At just under the 10lb mark I figured that he might be needing bigger clothes sooner rather than later so I thought I'd quickly whip up one of these in the 3 month size too.
This one has slightly different rainbow buttons, but still rainbows because apparently I can't help myself (and I seem to have loads in my button tin) and I think they look super.
So all in all I have made a great big pile of rainbows and I couldn't be happier with it all.  I will admit that the sheer number of ends I have had to weave in has been a flaming nightmare a little overwhelming but it's totally been worth it.  I still have a fair bit of rainbow yarn left but I'm going to put it aside for the time being and concentrate on solid colours for a bit because I just can't weave in any more ends for a while!

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Rainbow Blanket

Exciting news, I'm an auntie again!  And now that my NEPHEW Alfred has arrived and has received his blanket I can finally share it with you.
It felt like I'd barely finished knitting a blanket for my niece Alice when my brother and SIL announced that they were expecting number 2.  Alfred arrived exactly 1 year and 2 months after his sister so I'm only barely exaggerating!  Despite feeling like I needed a bigger rest than that between blankets I went ahead and started looking at patterns to give myself lots of time pick just the right one.  This is a lengthy process for me, a blanket is a big project so it has to be something I will enjoy knitting, with a finished object that will bring me joy whenever I see it.  In this case it also had to be unisex without using colours which would bore me to death.  Alice's blanket had been very well received, to the point where my SIL has stated quite clearly that Alice will not be taking it away with her when she leaves home!  The temptation to just knit a second version of that blanket was strong but I decided to look for something similar instead.
Alice's Mosaic blanket as modelled by Cassie
In the end I plumped for Tickled Pink from 60 Quick Baby Blankets.  There are loads of cute patterns in this book so I didn't really mind buying a book for just one pattern.  Obviously I wasn't actually going to use pink, plumping instead for all of the colours of the rainbow.
I used DROPS Paris again because I really liked it for Alice's blanket.  It's really snuggly, washes well and cotton is perfect for my brother's flat which gets very hot all year round.  I had to guess how much yarn I would need as I was using more colours than the blanket in the book.  I ordered 2 balls of each colour and 6 of the white and hoped that would do the trick.  As it turns out, I could have stopped knitting after I reached the end of the coloured balls and I ran out of white half way through the border so unfortunately my estimates were way off!  I did do one stripe of each colour from the 2nd balls just to justify having bought them but I so much left that I've made a whole heap of rainbow baby clothes to show off soon.
Unfortunately the pattern for this blanket is shocking awful, there are loads of errata and the border instructions defy logic.  However this is a really simple blanket and it's easy to get the gist of the stitch pattern and then do your own thing. I basically cast on until it looked wide enough and then knit until the length looked proportionally right and I'd finished a complete rainbow.  I then  picked up 2 in every 3 stitches along the sides and knit on each border separately.  I'm really pleased with how it turned out, so much so that I was very sorely tempted to keep it for myself!  Nevertheless I handed it over, a very special blanket for a very special boy.  I hope he loves it as much as I do.
Lissy for size reference