Tuesday, 26 February 2013

February Stash Buster Complete

It's nearly the end of February and I can't say I'm sorry. It's been a cold, mainly grey and dreary month and I'm fed up with winter. So my own little Spring starts today (forget the weather). I've had enough of sitting about. It's off to the gym for me this afternoon and there is going to be a new speed and purposefulness in my step from now on. So, to conclude February, here are the Stash Busters I've achieved this month.
The two hats were speedily knit up
from the oddments left over from a very big Stash Buster project than I have actually finished but I'm keeping back to count as part of the March achievements (that's not cheating, just prudent planning, right?) In case you are a new reader, all these projects are made from the otherwise unusable oddments that have accumulated over the years and I aim to make one item a week until the end of December. All 52 itmes will then be donated to Greenfields Africa where they are given to new Mum's as an incentive to attend ante natal classes or just to very needs recipients. By my calculation, this is week 9, so I'm slightly ahead of the game.
So, what else have I been doing, apart from getting frustrated that Spring is still only round the corner and I can't yet get out into my greenhouse and plant seeds whilst feeling the warmth of the sun on my back, dreaming of all the organic goodness we are going to eat in the summer?!!
Well, the dress pattern testing I did was an unmitigated disaster!! It started off so well, and I so loved all the processes of dressmaking, as I always do, from laying out the pattern, cutting it out and sewing and pressing (Yes, I love pressing seams in something I'm sewing. It's completely different to ironing the laundry.... OK, so you don't believe me, but it's true!). BUT, it just did not fit! Unfortunately I'm not allowed to show you photos until the pattern is launched, but I sent in my feedback and explained that the UK size 12 I had made, should, according to their measurements given, be the right size, whereas in actual fact it swamped me! The bust darts were in the wrong place for me and I took it in at the sides so many times that it had lost it's shape before I was happy with it. I've had to walk away from it and I hope to come back to it with fresh eyes in a few weeks time and make a size 10 bodice and hope and pray I can turn it into something I like enough to wear. If I can just get it to fit, it's a nice flattering shape and will be very useful during the long hot days of summer (I live in hope!!) And maybe second time round I'll be allowed to show some photos!
Also, I've been wrestling with my next new knitting pattern for the Etsy Shop.
Actually, I should clarify that...the designing and knitting was a breeze.... it is the typing up of the pattern I've been wrestling with! I have spent far, far to long taking stage by stage photos and annotating them in Picmonkey to make a step by step tutorial of the lace stitch I've used
It's a simple and effective pattern, but it's taken hours to show it pictorially, especially as I've included both knit flat and knit in the round instructions. But then as someone once said to me, it's the effort it takes that makes it worth doing in the first place. That has definitely needed to be my mantra this week.
Here's hoping March brings some warmth and colour into all our lives..... till next time, Julie
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Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Busy, busy, busy

Phew, it's busy, busy, busy here in my little world of crafting. It's also turned very spring-like - longer daylight hours, more sunshine than we've seen for weeks and consequently I've got bags of energy.
I'm multi tasking the max!
First off is the only finish so far this month in my Stash busting Challenge.
It's a sweater for a baby boy, with button opening across the neck and it's knitted in oddments of organic cotton. I wasn't sure I would have enough of the turquoise yarn, hence the stripes, which I really like. I didn't like sewing in the ends though, I'm never happy with the finish when I'm using cotton. There is always more bulk in the seam than I would really like, even though I split the yarn and sew in two opposite directions.
I have a lot of works in progress though - a crochet blanket that is all done apart from sewing in the ends and a baby quilt that just needs the binding, so there will be more photos of stashbusters soon.
Speaking of photos, I'm feeling really frustrated with my Iphone..... Grrrrr!.....I have just spent the last two days at a craft trade show in Birmingham. Aisle after aisle of knitting, sewing, papercrafting heaven.....
I took dozens of photographs with the specific aim of sharing all the wonderful eye candy with you all only to spend hours trying ..... and failing to upload them to my laptop successfully. For some reason that I can't understand they all reduce drastically in size in the transfer and are totally useless for blogging purposes. I'm going to have to sweet talk my son or his girlfriend into showing me what I'm doing wrong.
I'm also busy dressmaking! I volunteered to be a pattern tester for a new British design team called Gather. They send me the pattern and instructions and I follow it to the letter, noting as I go how clear it is, where it might have needed more detail, spotting any errors etc.
It's great fun, very relaxing and I get a summer dress into the bargain.
I'm a very lucky girl!
Oh, and did I say I've almost finished another hat pattern for the Etsy shop too ?
Apparently we are going to return to winter weather by the end of the week, so I shall make hay whilst the sun shines, as the expression says and keep on multi tasking while I've got all this energy :)
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Monday, 11 February 2013

Stash Buster Baby Socks Knitting Pattern

I am really pleased that I found a good use for the 4ply mercerised cotton yarn that needed using up. I pared a bootie pattern down to the very basics to make this a quick to knit baby sock. There is nothing fancy about this - no little cuff, no cute patterning - just a basic sock that, hopefully, will stay on as well as any sock stays on a wriggling, kicking baby!
Once I had the pattern sorted, they took no time at all to knit. I would knit during a coffee break mid morning, one with a cup of tea in the afternnoon and then sew them up in the evening.
They are knit flat. I experimented with finishes. I tried a three needle bind off, kitchener stitch and a regular cast off and seaming.
I went for the regular cast off in the end. It was the quickest to work, and being 4 ply I could get the seam nice and flat. If I was making them for my own grandkids I would probably uses Kitchener stitch (there are plenty of Youtube tutorials out there for this if you've never done it before- it's also called grafting. You can hardly notice the join when it's done, but it does take time and effort)
I was really pleased that I mangaed to get 5 little pairs of socks out of the nearly  full ball of 4 ply yarn that I had.
I've written up my pattern for these and you can download the PDF here
I've also added it to the Knitting Patterns bar at the top of the blog, so you can access it even when this post is well and truly buried under a pile of others.
Happy knitting!

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