The best kind of Finished Project

I’ve not been around here for a long time; it’s been a very difficult few months. Fortunately there was a good reason for it, and I have the best kind of ‘finished object’ to show for it.

This is my gorgeous boy. We shall call him ‘Pepper’. He is just scrummy! Pumpkin and Pickle are absolutely smitten.

Pregnancy was awful, pretty much from start to finish. Hyperemesis (severe sickness) put paid to doing anything but surviving the first few months. Months of lying on the sofa hugely affected my mobility, and I suffered further complications towards the end, which led to Pepper arriving several weeks earlier than expected. The pandemic situation didn’t help much either, but he’s here safely and we are both doing well.

Most of the projects I had on the go last summer have remained untouched, but I did manage a couple of baby projects before Pepper arrived.

This is the ‘Bounce’ baby blanket by TinCanKnits. Made in Stylecraft Special DK, with the colours chosen in an attempt to recreate the original colours without splashing out on the official Rainbow Heirloom yarn kit. It’s super snuggly and soft and I’ve had some lovely compliments on it already.

This is Newborn Vertebrae by Kelly van Niekerk, a free pattern on Ravelry, which I knitted up using some leftover Cuddlebums Sparkle Sock (used for my hat back at the start of 2020) and the contrast edging is Lamington Lass Soft Sock which I bought from Etsy. It’s a perfect little cardi for keeping him warm whilst having some skin to skin cuddle time.

Right now, I’m enjoying all the snuggle time as much as possible, so my hands aren’t free for crafting, but I am looking forward to getting back to some of my previous projects in due course.

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.

Jack-in-a-hat

This picture is roughly titled: Self-portrait, or Jack-in-a-hat.20200331_220159

Terrible photo, I know, but it shows the hat and not too much of me, and the colours are actually pretty good, despite the shoddy lighting. I’m very pleased to have finished this one. I’m not usually a huge fan of variegated yarns, but this one has worked quite well without much pooling on the main body of the hat and it’s pretty.

I had a bit of a down day yesterday, feeling a bit under the weather physically and mentally, so a finished project win today feels extra good. And I also got to indulge in a little retail therapy today, ordering yarn for the baby blanket I’ve promised to knit for a friend. I’m a bit behind the times as she’s due in the next couple of weeks, but at least I actually have time to knit now, since I’ve been furloughed from work for the foreseeable. Yarn should arrive on my doorstep later this week, so I’ll give you a sneaky peek then and share my plan.

Hope you’re all staying safe and sane and healthy.

Finally finished!

Please forgive the utterly dreadful photo, but I just couldn’t wait to show you this. Its been about 2 years, and an awful lot of procrastination in the making, but today I finally knuckled down to sewing in the last few ends and attaching the buttons.

Loooooooook!

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It really needs blocking, but I’m so pleased it’s done that I’ve just thrown it on and started wearing it. I’ll block it when it gets washed.

Now I can allow myself to move on to other projects. Hooray!

What’s the longest you’ve worked on a project for?

A blogging bat-hat-strophe!

I suddenly seem to be back on a yarny kick at the moment.

Pumpkin was invited to the super-hero themed birthday party of a girl in his class. I was reliably informed that her favourite colours were also pink and purple, so I hit upon the idea of making a hat in pink and purple, with the logo of a famous superhero, which I imagine is not the kind of combination that is readily available on the highstreet!

I found a charted pattern for the logo on Ravelry, and set to work. I’ve never done colour work before, so that was an interesting new challenge. My tension was a bit shoddy, as I struggled to catch the floats in evenly, and so the final logo was a little puckered in places, but overall not a bad attempt.

Unfortunately, despite thinking constantly all the way through the knitting process that I needed to get a good photo of it for blogging, I totally failed to snap any shots of it whatsoever, so you’ll just have to imagine how great it looked!

Pumpkin was also an utter disaster on the feedback front. He couldn’t give me any indication as to the little girls reaction when he finally gave it to her in class (only a couple of weeks after the party by which I’d intended to have it completed!) . Luckily I stood next to her mum in the pick up queue yesterday afternoon, and she told me it had gone down very well. How nice and reassuring it is to know that your handknits are appreciated!

World Book Day also inspired me to craft. Being the super organised mother that I am, I asked the boys what they’d like to dress up as for World Book Day, oh, about 4pm the day before, so we ended up with rather low-key costuming. Pumpkin went as Mog from the books by Judith Kerr, simply wearing a white T shirt, and a grey zipped jumper and grey trousers. He reluctantly submitted to having whiskers drawn on with eyeliner, but refused point-blank to wear the cat-ears-on-a-headband that his daddy had lovingly made for him. “I’m NOT wearing a headband, mummy!”

Pickle wanted to go as The Little Red Train, from the book sby Benedict Blathwayt, but since I didn’t fancy being up til the small hours engineering a train costume from a cardboard box, nor did I relish the thought of sending the child to nursery in such a costume, I persuaded him to go as Duffy Driver from the books instead. He was amenable, so a white shirt, blue trousers and (mostly) blue zipped top formed the basis of the costume. We dispensed with the necessity for a hat, since Duffy rarely seems to wear his, and the only thing that was required to complete the outift was a red tie. Short on time and short on materials, I settled on crochet as the quickest means of producing a tie. And sure enough, by the end of the day I had this:

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I’m not sure how fashionable a crochet tie might be, but a 2 year old fortunately doesn’t seem to mind, and he looked very smart!

Meet Toothless

Work on the Clanger has stalled, and it’s currently looking like a rather strange pink penguin.

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Instead, I have been working on the annual cake-creation for the Pumpkin’s birthday. He’s been very into ‘Dragons: Riders of Berk’ on CBBC recently, which is part of the same franchise as the ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ films, so he decided a couple of months ago that he wanted his party to be themed along those lines, including and especially, his cake.

I thought I could get away with the easy option of just stacking a couple of cakes to make the Island of Berk, and buying a couple of figurines or toys of Hiccup and Toothless to stick on the top, which he could then keep to play with afterward, but I scoured the shops for something suitable and couldn’t find what I wanted. So that left me with the not-so-easy option of attempting to make an actual Toothless Cake! For those of you not familiar with him, this is Toothless:

Toothless

A quick scan of google images and Pinterest showed me many rather impressive creations, and some less successful ones! Fortunately, some kind person has made an excellent Youtube tutorial, demonstrating exactly how to go about making Toothless in cake form.

I started with two large chocolate mud cakes (recipe here) and glued them together with chocolate ganache (recipe here). I’ve never carved a cake before, but once I got started, and with the tutorial for reference, it was actually alot easier than I expected it to be, and really quite satisfying seeing the dragon shape emerge.

IMG_3731 IMG_3733 IMG_3737Once the basic shape was there he was covered in ganache and left to chill out in the fridge overnight.

Covering him in fondant was more of a challenge. I started out trying to cover him using as few pieces of fondant as possible, but it was really hard to roll out a 2D shape that was the right size and shape to cover a 3D cake. I tried to cover the whole tail in one piece a couple of times, but ended up doing it in 2 pieces. Once I realised that actually it was possible to blend the two pieces so you couldn’t even see where the join was, the whole thing became much easier¬† and far less daunting to do. I think I used 3 pieces to cover the body in the end, and did most of the legs separately. The head was all done in one go though, including his ears and horns at the back of his head. Once the black icing was on, he only needed a few small extra details – eyes, claws, spines, tail fins and wings, and he was all done!

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I would have liked him to have a bit more texture to his skin, but there was no easy way to do it, so he stayed smooth-skinned. I also made some cupcakes with printed toppers of other characters from the show, which complemented the cake nicely.

IMAG2857 IMAG2860I received some lovely compliments from the grown-ups at the party, including a near-commission. The cupcakes went down well with kids and adults alike, and the kids mostly knew who the cake was meant to be! But the best moment was seeing the look on Pumpkin’s face when I held his hand and brought him to see the cake laid out on the table. He happily went round telling everyone that ‘Mummy said she couldn’t make a cake like that, but she did it!’¬† If that’s not the best kind of encouragement for trying something new and challenging, I don’t know what is!?

Snuggly

I realised I was rather chilly this evening whilst putting Pumpkin to bed. I found myself mentally skimming through my wardrobe for an appropriate jumper or cardigan I could throw on for the evening, and you know which one sprang to mind? Yes, my newly finished cardigan of doom snuggliness!

It’s been finished for a week now, and I still haven’t managed to get any decent photos, so here’s a quick shot I took on my phone, and a close up of the buttons I used.

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As you can see, it’s a little short in the body, which is a little frustrating, given that I thought I had added some extra length into it, but it’s certainly not a fatal flaw. The sleeves are lovely and long, so I can tuck my hands into them to keep warm.

The collar is a little gapey at the back of the neck, but again, not fatal. The fit around the waist could also have been a little closer, but it has a bit of shape to it, and a bit of ease means it’ll fit over layers of clothing in the winter without being too bulky.

All in all, it’s really not bad for my first ever knitted garment!

It’s done!

It’s done, it’s done!

The cardigan of never-ending doom is really, truly, actually, completely, wearably finished! Buttons and everything.

It won’t win any prizes, and I may not even wear it out of the house! But it is finished. Hurrah!

Pictures to follow, hopefully.

Excuse me while I happy-dance around the room.

Maybe now I can allow myself to work on some other things again and more regular blogging may resume.