Maybe just one more…?

Despite having many MANY projects on the go, I couldn’t quite resist picking up just one more.

I can’t recall how I first discovered Awesome Pattern Studio. I think a friend may have done one of the cityscape designs, or the local yarn shop posted about their stock of different designs, or maybe I came across them when perusing various online craft shops. However it may be, I have always liked the designs and found myself tempted despite never having done cross stitch before (except perhaps a small kit when I was a child). I’ve always told myself I really don’t need to start another craft, and just enjoyed looking at the designs online.

A few weeks ago, I was thinking about things to keep the boys occupied at home and the local yarn shop posted about kids craft kits. We’d all just enjoyed watching the Sewing Bee, and Pumpkin was doing a little sewing project as part of his schoolwork, so I thought they might enjoy a little cross stitch kit each. I enquired with the shop, but sadly the designs the boys had chosen were no longer available, so I abandoned the idea. Only, I found myself coming back to it again and the boys were still keen, so we looked on Etsy for something similar. They ended up choosing the Drama Llama and the Snuggle Monster cat designs from Ellbie co.

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So since they were getting lovely cross stitch kits, I figured it was only right that I have a project to work alongside them so I could learn too and be on hand to help them should they need it.

Helllooooo Awesome Pattern Studio!

The kits arrived and I spent a few hours quizzing my cross-stitching friend for tips, and perusing ‘FlossTube’ (apparently that’s a thing for cross stitchers on YouTube!) to learn how to get started and then together we jumped right in.

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The boys kits are quite advanced for them – I didn’t realise til we unpacked them that they’re suggested for 14+ – but both of them seem to have got the hang of reading the pattern and making the stitches, so I think they’ll be fine as long as they keep working on them.

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And mine? I absolutely love it. It’s easy to pick up and put down, but kind of addictive too. I can just do a few stitches, or sit for hours! It’s got a pull to it because I’m enjoying seeing the shapes emerge and the way the colours play together, and it’s weirdly soothing and meditative, which is exactly the kind of project I need right now.

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Pick a project!

Knitting a baby blanket at the start of lockdown was great as it really gave me something to focus on and keep me emotionally and mentally level. Since then, my creativity has been all over the place as I’ve struggled to focus on any one thing for very long. That’s not to say I haven’t been creative, it’s just that it’s been channelled in so many different directions that I don’t have much in the way of anything finished to show for it.

We’ve made some progress with our study, which we’ve been working on for about 3 years now! Mr Jack is using it full time for work now, but at least he has a good desk to use. We’ve also put up a bookcase in there which is intended to house as much of my crafty stuff as possible, sewing machines, fabric, notions, yarn, knitting and anything else you can think of.

Speaking of sewing, the boys and I enjoyed watching the Sewing Bee together this year, and as a result I’ve started following more sewists on Instagram, and discovered The Fold line website and its related Facebook group which is such a helpful resource.

I have lots of fabric lined up for various projects which have never quite made it to the cutting board. I’m hoping I might work my way through a few of them, but it’s hard to find the space to lay everything out when everyone needs the table for school work and activities and family meal times.

I have managed to produce a pair of Hudson pants which, while far from perfect (they may yet make their way back to the sewing machine for some alterations) have been a welcome addition to my lockdown wardrobe. Next up will be an Ogden cami using a black and green rayon challis.

I have of course also made a few face masks, but need to churn out a few more now that they’ve been made compulsory in shops here from next week.

I’ve enjoyed watching a few gentle TV programmes, including The Repair Shop where professional craftspeople lovingly restore precious family heirlooms and items of sentimental value to their owners. And I’ve taken inspiration from Your Home Made Perfect, where two architects use virtual reality to showcase their designs for the remodelling of people’s homes.

I’ve been learning how to use SketchUp, a computer aided design programme, which will be useful to me for my job, but has proved brilliant for helping me redesign my living room, for which I’ve had ideas rumbling round my head for a couple of years now, but have previously been unable to pin down to a coherent overall plan. It’ll be another long term project to get it all done, but we’ve already started working on it.

Then there’s the kitchen. We’re not making any drastic changes, just adding in one new drawer unit and moving an under-counter shelf unit around, but it’s been anything but straightforward to do. Why is it that the jobs you think will be easy almost never are!?

There’s been homeschooling and school related projects, growing veggies, planning woodworking projects, (I miss work and power tools!) and Pumpkin is desperate to build a go kart.

Amongst all of these, and other projects I have still been knitting, very slowly, a pair of socks for Pumpkin, the pattern for which had been in my Ravelry queue for several years. This week I finally cast them off, completed the detailing and sewed all the ends in. It does feel good to finish something!

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A quick fix

The weather has been a little chilled this week. Today I picked up my crazy stripes cardigan to keep me warm and as I lifted it up to throw it on, the light from the window behind it illuminated a hole! I cannot fathom how it came to be, but I’m glad I spotted it.

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Fortunately, having been digging around in my stash just last night, I knew I had leftovers that could be used for a quick fix.

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A little duplicate stitch, running out a few stitches either side of the hole, weave in the ends, and voila!. No harm done.

Blocking nerves

I always get nervous when it comes to the final step in a knit project – blocking. Not so much the blocking bit, but the washing bit. So nervous that I usually skip the step entirely.

When you’ve spent so many hours working on something, the thought of it possibly felting, or otherwise going horribly wrong is quite nerve-wracking.

But, it had to be done, so after a couple of days procrastinating, I tried not to think about it too much and threw* it in the machine.

*carefully placed inside a mesh laundry bag, with nothing else in the machine, having checked and double checked all settings and the detergent, cross-referenced with all useful advice I could find in a quick Google search.

It emerged feeling lighter and softer and floppier than it went in, and has stretched out beautifully and so much bigger than I thought. I love it!

Can’t wait to get this packed up nicely and sent off to my friend.

The final stretch, and a treat for me.

The end is in sight; I am on to the final edging of the blanket!

A little maths meant that I had to cut short the main body of the blanket by one repeat, as I wouldn’t have had enough yarn to do the last repeat as well as the edging. I’ll probably now end up with a little more leftover than I’d like, but not enough to do much with. Ah well.

Hopefully I can get the knitting finished in the next couple of days and then washed and blocked ready to package up and send to its new owner by the end of next week.

During the knitting process, I find stitch markers hugely helpful to keep track of where I am in a pattern. I have some gorgeous plain silver ones I purchased at Unravel a few years ago, but for this project I ideally needed markers in two different designs to show the different repeat points. I have some crochet stitch markers too, from Sconch, but the claw attachment was too small to fit over my 4.5mm needles, and the coloured plastic Pony ones were way too big and clunky – they got in my way more than being helpful. I tried using small loops of scrap yarn, but they were also a pain, and left different coloured fibres caught in the knitting. So what’s a girl to do? Time to treat myself to some new ones!

I tried Sconch, but she had nothing large enough to fit my needles. I tried various other online shops and found nothing suitable, so I turned to Etsy and treated myself to not one, but two sets of gorgeous stitch markers from the lovely The Woolly Tangle.

Some plain rings in three different colours.

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And these gorgeous honeycomb and bee ones.

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They were exactly what I wanted.

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Good call

Sometimes, it’s just good to know you’ve made the right decision.

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I’m so much happier with how this looks now, after ripping and re-knitting with two fewer garter ridges. I’ve gone way past the point I had previously got to and my mojo is back. It was absolutely the right call to make. Phew!

Stewing

I’ve spent all day stewing over what to do about the edging. Do I hate it enough to be bothered ripping it back and carefully catching all the original edge stitches back onto a needle, or is it bearable enough that I can just continue and hope it blocks out ok at the end?

Friends, I have not knit a single stitch today, or most of yesterday, and I want this thing done so I can gift it as soon as possible. Not knitting is Not. Good. Clearly I don’t like it enough, and the only answer is to riiiiipppp!!!

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I have successfully caught all the stitches up (I think! Better count.) and am ready to begin again. Phew. Here’s hoping my intended fix makes the intended difference.

Garter grumbles

Little Tern is coming along apace. I have knit two full balls already and the main body of the blanket is almost two thirds done. I’ve now started work on the first knitted on border, picking up my provisional cast on edge as I go, to calculate how much yarn the final border will take, so I can use as much yarn as possible for the body without running the risk of not having enough to complete it at the end.

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I’m enjoying the lace section, though I’m not totally happy with how it sits on the end of the blanket. I feel like there are too many garter rows and it doesn’t quite match in with the garter edges in the body section. I’m debating whether to rip it back and begin the lacework again with one or maybe even two less garter ridges, but not sure if its worth the effort, or if it might block out and look better at the end anyway. What do you think?

Garden knitting

How lucky am I!? My yarn arrived this week, along with the beautiful weather, and I’ve got all the time I please to sit in the garden and knit a baby blanket.

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This is Little Tern by TinCanKnits, in Cascade 220 Superwash Merino in Dark Berry. The yarn is super soft and mega squishy DK weight. It’s quite chonky in comparison to the sock yarn I’ve been used to knitting recently, but it’ll make a lovely squishy bubba blanket.

My garden isn’t very photogenic at the moment, but I’ve also been spending more time doing actual gardening. We have some wooden-framed veg boxes set in the lawn which haven’t seen much use since we moved here, (we managed a few mange tout last yesr, and a pumpkin the year before) but we’ve decided to make a more concerted effort to grow some veg this year. Anyone else getting more veg inclined at the mo?

I took at tip from Phil at The Twisted Yarn and have been growing a few things from kitchen scraps on the windowsill. The leeks and parsnips are sprouting merrily, so will be interesting to see if we can grow actual full size veg from them.

I’ve also got a few packets of flower seeds, so maybe we can have some colour in the garden a bit later in the year.

Baby, don’t wait for me

Yarn has not been forthcoming this week, so the baby blanket will have to wait a few more days. I can’t say the same for the baby it’s intended for, as she made her appearance yesterday and is doing well.

In the meantime, I dug out my big box of long untouched Stylecraft Special DK, and got to work crocheting a seriously frivolous item. Any guesses what this is?

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