Speedy Ripples

Pumpkin’s teacher is going off on maternity leave at the end of next week, so I thought I’d better whip something up quick. (Yes, I have known about it for months and I definitely should have started it sooner!) I’ve made a couple of blankets before for Pickle, using Attic 24’s Neat Ripple Pattern and Stylecraft Special DK. Stylecraft is great for baby blankets. Soft and easy to wash, and wears pretty well, and I have plenty of leftovers to choose from. The ripple pattern is simple but effective, rhythmic and relaxing to hook, so the choice was pretty much made for me.

I have no idea if she’s having a girl or a boy, so I tried to pick a fairly neutral colour scheme. I’m not the best at picking colours (though a little better than Pumpkin who wanted yellow, red, purple, pink and blue. Or ALL the colours.) but I think these ones work pretty well together. Yellow had to be included as it’s Pumpkin’s favourite colour, and I think it just lifts the others from being too much in the cool blue spectrum.

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A starting chain of 84 gives a great width for a small car seat or carry cot sized blanket. I began work on it yesterday evening, and a couple of hours this morning has put me at a third of the way through.

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I think I might just about manage to get it finished in time! Paired with a handmade card from Pumpkin, it’ll be a lovely gift.

How do you make colour selections for this kind of project? Do you have any tips or tools that you use to help you?

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FO: The little desk that refused to give up hope

Once upon a time, there was a sad little desk tucked away in a junk furniture shop.

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The little desk was desperate to be pretty and loved, so it was overjoyed to be offered the chance of a new home.

The little desk was sanded down in the summer sunshine in the garden, and enjoyed the feel of its first fresh coat of paint.

But the weather changed, and the garden was no longer a safe place for the little desk, and neither was the garage. It took up its place in the hallway, but felt sad at being only half finished and poorly used. It looked on forlornly as its screws and fittings were misplaced, its wax overcoat was stashed in the coat cupboard and its beautiful paper dress was left in a roll on a bedroom floor.

But, eventually, time was found and the little desk was coaxed out for its final makeover. The fittings were found and screws were replaced. The paper dress was made bespoke, and the wax overcoat completed the look.

Just as the little desk was almost ready for its photoshoot, a small ogre came and pushed the little desk right over! The poor little desk feared that all was lost, but it was soon picked up and its wounds tended to, before being invited to take its rightful place.

It was still feeling a little grey…

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…but it soon realised that this was home, and gradually it bloomed…

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…into a beautiful thing.

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Baskets were found to fill its shelves and give it purpose once more.

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And the little desk lived happily ever after.

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The end.

Paint: Autentico Vintage Chalk Paint, Pigeon Grey and Antique Turquoise

Wax: Autentico Furniture Wax, Clear

Paper: Opera Wallpaper, Retro Leaf Teal/Green (glued with Mod Podge Matte)

Handles and Fittings: Original

Baskets: IKEA

Unravel 2015

unravel, a festival of knitting, at Farnham Maltings Click for website

unravel, a festival of knitting, at Farnham Maltings
Click for website

Today I went to Unravel at Farnham Maltings with my new-to-crochet friend (we shall henceforth call her ‘Klutz’, to keep things simple!)

I have never been to a yarn festival before and, oh my! what a feast for the eyes! So much gorgeous yarn, and so many stallholders positively inviting us to come in and squish it all. Beautiful patterns, hooks, needles and notions galore, and oooh! buttons! We both felt rather traitorous that neither of us was wearing a handknit anything!

We were tempted by many things.

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Gorgeous grads

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What do you even do with linen yarn?

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Beautiful fibre – no, I am not even looking down the spinning road…

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Rows of rich earthy colours

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Ooooh I want the whole rainbow!

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But we were very restrained. I went armed with a shopping list, and Klutz formed her shopping list over a coffee after we’d had a good look round at all the stalls and consulted Ravelry.

Klutz, though tempted to branch off into knitting territory, very sensibly stuck to her guns and took a crochet only approach, settling on a gorgeously simple scarf pattern from Baa Ram Ewe and some pretty sparkly sock yarn to make it with.

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I forgot to mention to her that skeins have to be wound into balls, but a hand-winding lesson over lunch in a nearby pub sorted that out sharpish.

And here’s my little pile of goodies

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Two skeins of BFL/Nylon Sock in Charcoal, and two of 100% Merino in Teal from Debonnaire for my next project Stripes Gone Crazy, along with a couple of longer cables for my Knitpro interchangeables, and a free hat pattern for good measure.

Now I have a real incentive to get my cardigan finished. I’m not even winding these babies until I’m done with that one.

How do you fare at yarn festivals? Do you exercise restraint and stick to a shopping list, or do you succumb to the delights of aaaalllll the pretties?

Sneaky peek

Pumpkin and Pickle have been packed off to their grandparents for the week. I took them up and stayed a couple of nights, and just look what greeted me on the side table in my room.

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My grandmother’s bowl of cotton reels.

So, aside from rehearsals in the evenings – I should really tell you about those some time – Mr Jack and I have the best part of a week of child-free time to ourselves. Bliss! Well, if bliss involves wading through piles of paperwork and attempting to reclaim the house from under piles of unopened post, children’s drawings (many many many of them!), and general stuff. I’m sure it must be breeding.

But! On the plus-side, it has given me the opportunity to return to my little desk that I started painting way waaaaay back in the summer, and still haven’t finished.

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So here’s a little sneaky peek at what I’m working on, and hopefully I’ll have some finished pictures to show you by the end of the week.

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Do you have a project that you’ve been desperate to finish but just unable to find the time to dedicate to working on it?

Speaking of which, I’ve finally tracked down and purchased another ball of yarn for my cardigan, so I may have another finished object to show you before long!

It’s not easy being green

Greetings if you are visiting from The Twisted Yarn‘s utterly bonkers Escher post. It’s caused a lovely flurry of visitors to my little corner of the world, so hello!

This is CBeebies Peter Rabbit. It has the most amusingly epic theme tune for a kids TV show, but don’t worry, I won’t sing it to you. I’ve watched it for quite a while with my boys, but it wasn’t until Pumpkin was invited to a friend’s birthday party with a Peter Rabbit theme, that I really noticed little Benjamin Bunny’s lovely green hat.

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Benjamin Bunny – he has a pretty cute little brown leather jacket too.

I’ve never knitted a hat before, but as usual I thought ‘how hard can it be?’. I couldn’t find anything that was specifically a Benjamin Bunny pattern, so I opted for the most basic hat pattern I could find and went from there. Finding a suitable yarn was my first big challenge. I wanted something chunky so that it would work up quickly, but there was a definite lack of any nice greens available in any of my local(ish) yarn shops. I opted for a bluey green in King Cole’s big value chunky in Seaspray.

I started knitting before Christmas and then got distracted by other projects, so of course by the time I came back to it, I’d forgotten that I was working from an adult hat pattern and needed to leave out a couple of increase rows. I knitted on, but have now ended up with a hat that is too big for Pumpkin, but doesn’t suit Mr Jack as a plain beanie (strangely, he’s not keen on wearing a Benjamin Bunny hat with a big red pompom on top).

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It’s a hat, but not the hat I wanted.

So I’ve taken pictures and will chalk it up to a ‘learning experience’ and part of the ‘design’ process. Yes. And now it’s time to riiiiiiiip-it riiiiiippppp-it.

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Off we go – just look at those ribbing stitches celebrating their freedom!

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That’s a big pile of yarn!

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Ahhhhhh… and a neatly wound ball, ready to begin again.

It’s frustrating, but also strangley satisfying to rip out so much. Hopefully I’ll have learnt from my mistakes and the second attempt will work beautifully. Do you think there’s any market for writing up a Benjamin Bunny hat pattern?

Unravel and Sharing the Love

Last week my friend asked me to teach her to crochet. Completely out of the blue. She’s known I crochet and knit for a long time, but I never really thought she was interested in trying it herself. But how lovely to be asked!

So off we went on Friday evening and found a cosy corner in a pub, and got to work. I love being able to teach things that I love doing, to people who are genuinely interested. We started with chains and a bit of single crochet and double crochet, and then moved on to Granny Squares. It just seemed right, since that was what my Granny first taught me when I learnt to crochet around 20 years ago!

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Taking a break from teaching crochet with a spot of knitting while the drinks were replenished.

My friend seems to have taken to it like a duck to water, and by the end of the evening she had a granny square with three very neat rounds. She’s since added several more rounds to that original square and has started work on squares for a blanket. I’ll have to start planning another lesson!

unravel, a festival of knitting, at Farnham Maltings Click for website

Image from: unravel, a festival of knitting, at Farnham Maltings
Click for website

After our lesson, my friend found out about Unravel, a festival of knitting, held in Farnham, which is not far from where we live. I’d heard of it before, but have never been and didn’t realise it was coming up so soon, but we’re hoping to go along together at the end of February.

Are you heading to Unravel? What would you pick as a first project to teach a beginner?

Time for a round-up

I haven’t managed to track down any of the Stylecraft Special Aran that I need for my so-very-nearly-finished cardigan without resorting to online purchasing, which may well be a dangerous game, so I’ve moved onto other things.

Pumpkin requested a scarf, so I’ve mostly been busy working on that.

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It certainly won’t win any awards, but the boy seems to like it, so it’s good enough. It’s his favourite colours, and designed with a loop at one end that he can tuck the other end through, which should help to keep it on better than just having it wound around his neck. I did a sort of horizontal ribbing effect which I thought would make it a bit cushier and cosier around his neck. It actually made it quite stretchy, so it’s ended up much longer than I intended, and the narrower section of 1×1 ribbing that was supposed to help keep it in place in the loop actually overshoots it by quite a long way. Never mind. It’s all a learning process.

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Rather an untidy edge.

Speaking of learning, does anyone know why the edge of my knitting does this strange thing with one large loop and one loop pulled tight and what I can do to make the edge neater?

After the scarf, I ventured back to my crochet hooks and worked on keeping a promise I’d made before Christmas to make an Elsa/Frozen inspired hat for the seven year old daughter of a very good friend of mine.

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I used pictures on google and pinterest for inspiration, but didn’t follow any particular pattern. I’ve not made a hat for a while, and it took several attempts to get the right combination of stitch type and number of increases to get the shape right, but I got there eventually and little Miss Elsa was really happy with her surprise gift.

This cute little ducky fell off my hook next.

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I’m a member of a crochet group on Facebook which sets challenges every month or so, and the challenge for January was linked to The Little Yellow Duck Project (see website here for details).

“The Little Yellow Duck Project involves people around the world handcrafting little yellow duck gifts as random acts of kindness that are left in public places for others to find. A special tag on each one invites the finder to take their gift home to brighten their day and to visit this website to register where they found their gift. We hope that the stories and information found here will encourage them to pledge their own random act of kindness by registering to donate blood, bone marrow, organs tissues.”

So this little guy just needs a tag (when my printer feels like behaving) and then he’ll be sent off on an adventure somewhere.

Now I’m happily settled into the stockinette rhythms of my first knitted hat, and trying to learn the art of knitting without having to watch what I’m doing all the time, so I can watch TV at the same time. Speaking of which, I’m off to watch Castle. Have a lovely evening!