Summer Holiday Parallel Universe

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LouBug and I are currently living in a parallel universe…We’re both at the start of the long school summer break, and have weeks and weeks yawning in front of us, but that is where the similarity ends…

LouBug has metaphorically kissed goodbye to her brood of children and skipped merrily into the joyous expanse of the summer break – au revoir pupils, this teacher has clocked off!

A swift phone call to LouBug HQ confirmed my fears that her only foray into “multi tasking” over the coming weeks will be reading her Kindle and knitting at the same time.

I, on the other hand, have skipped headlong into a chief supervisory role of two school’s-out-for-summer giddy boys. Yes, I know I birthed them and should brave the summer as one would stand firm against the ravages of a tornado…but please allow me just this one moment of wailing WHERE HAS ALL MY TIME GONE?!!

My case in point: The Scarf.

Several blog posts ago (back in the heady days of term time), I mused as to how I might create a wonderous lace pattern scarf. I did give it a go, efforts documented below:

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Yes, you might well laugh, but this took ages. LouBug confirmed my fear, that this is the reality of knitting with cobwebs and that progress would be sloooooooow.

The combination of my current summer holiday time Hoover reality, and my need for near instant knitting gratification has lead me to The Cheat. LouBug has let me into a little knitting secret…Apparently you can fake lace knitting with some fine yarn, large needles, good blocking and rapid garter stitch.

My efforts above (shown again below, for those readers with stamina who have reached this far but can’t face scrolling back up), aren’t that inspiring.

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It has a slight dish cloth aura, which really wasn’t the look I was after. Back to the drawing board. The Debbie Bliss yarn is too nice to waste, so although it pains me I shall be ripping it back and starting again with something new…ho hum.

KnitWit

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Oh Yeah, Wait a Minute Mr Postman…

rowan cotton classics

Have you a Rowan Patterns Cotton Classics book in your bag for meeeee? Why, yes you do!

After much (im)patient waiting (including a badgering email to the Knit Today office), finally my prize is here! A copy of Rowan Cotton Classics plopped through my letterbox today – a prize for having a letter published in their magazine (original Knit Today Fame! musing here).

A brief flick through the pages so far, and I confess I am slightly daunted by the prospect of knitting an entire jumper, but the patterns certainly are nice. Perhaps it is my knitterly duty to pass this book on to my knitting elders to make better use of it, at least until I am past the knitting-of-small-things stage.

Santa may be coming early this year LouBug!

KnitWit

Knitting Day Trip

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It is entirely possible for me to go somewhere and not buy yarn…

Really, it is!

Ok, so the evidence is not looking good, but I would not like to create the illusion of mounting debt and windows being blocked by piles of yarn.

Some of this is helped by my sock yarn addiction. Sock yarn is (relatively) cheap, you only need 100g, uses up quickly and doesn’t take up much storage room. On those rare occasions I let Mr LouBug see the stash being aired I do point out to him that if this was sweater yarn we would need to hire a storage unit. I do ignore the mutterings that, if it was in a storage unit, he wouldn’t mind so much.

I am glad that I can get the fun of buying for a new project without breaking the bank and worrying about how to hide it. I am also reasonably good at operating a “one in one out” rule (sort of) and splurges are usually balanced by fasts.

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So, taking advantage of the sun, we went on a nice little jaunt on the weekend to Long Melford and then onto Lavernham. For those of you not local, basically picture Tudor houses, 4X4s and tea rooms (which we naturally investigated). Long Melford has a lovely bead shop The Bead Boutique and I was able to feed my stitch marker obsession by buying up some cute Mary Quant style flowers and little tiny Fimo fruit.

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Lavernham has a fantastic shop Café Knit, which rather handily also sells coffee and Rocky Road (perfect for keeping Mr LouBug happy). It is a lovely shop and is definitely more of a delicatessen style yarn shop (not a squeak of acrylic to be seen) full of yummy yarns in a range of good colours.

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I got myself a nice little haul, and I am especially pleased with my new “stitch dots”.

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These are slotted into your work (a bit like cuff links) and are brilliant for large projects (paging “grannies garden” giant square). You can use them to mark you progress, and (more importantly) feel like you are making some! I already have a couple but they are often parked in projects and it is good to have spares to bling up projects.

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Flushed with success on my mighty mittens (the purple and green colourwork ones), I have bought two perfect shades of blue alpaca. I am going to use the basic mitten recipe I worked out from the mighty mittens and have a go with this wave pattern (The Harmony Guides: Colourwork Stitches: 250 Designs to Knit by Susie Johns). The main change to my recipe is that this time I am going to include a “thumb gusset”. This basically means you are increasing from the wrist to the thumb, which should allow more wiggle room in the palm. Fingers crossed I have enough yarn!

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I also got some denim blue “Artesano” sock yarn, not a brand I have used before, but solid shades are surprisingly hard to find (and very useful for complex stitch patterns). I am more than willing to give it a whirl.

As you can see from the photo, I think I was very restrained. There was a healthy amount of lace weight yarn whispering in my ear, and some lovely Noro sock yarn just sitting up and begging (like the last puppy in the pound) to be taken home.

LouBug

Faster Than A Speeding Bug

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I freely admit that I can be a bit flighty when it comes to projects, and that I only tend to make a pattern once (apart from the odd pair of socks).

Most of this is rooted in the length of time it takes to complete the project and my reluctance to dilute the “one in existence” magic that knitting can give. A large part of the fun for me is the planning and the dreaming of new possibilities and then the satisfaction (or screaming frustration) attached to seeing them in action. I often only get through the tough last sections of a project by dreaming and plotting my next one along.

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In a universe-shifting moment, I have made a shrug that took a matter of days to make and took very little planning. This has propelled me into making not only a second one (purple) but soon-to-be started thirdsy helping of blue shrug goodness.

This is a really useful shrug as it can be crushed into a small ball in a bag, hides my wobbly upper arms and allows free air flow – but I do admit that it is a comedy tan line waiting to happen.

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This shrug has also made me re-appraise my crochet reluctance. The case against me and crochet is that I find it a bit too fiddley for TV watching, eats yarn and the fabric can have a poor drape (which annoys me). All of this falls under, “It’s not you it’s me” and I am forced to admit that I might have been a bit hasty.

After-all, I do like crochet 3D items (bags and toys) as the stiff fabric does lend itself to shaped items. I also like granny squares: They are quick, quirky and I can knock them out without much brain work (although my giant green granny square can only be worked on for about an hour before the heat drives me back to lighter projects).

Looking at projects I have made over the last few years I seem to prefer knitting, but I definitely have more crochet items than I realised. Basically they sneaked in because they were the best method for the job in hand.

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This shrug is a case in point. The back is lattice crochet and I made it in one evening (a fact that blows my tiny mind).

Being lattice work, it was quite easy as there is a big gap to aim for and not the normal fiddley inside the stitch to get to, making it good TV work. But the trim is knitted, which gives a more elastic and drapey fabric (it took about two to three evenings to finish).

Anyone else out there a secret crocheter?

LouBug

Well, I Blame KnitWit…

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I refuse to believe this is my fault. I was all set up to knit my hearts shrug, socks, bath mitt and lacy scarf. All nice, physically light projects and all suitable for the hot summer weather. All made from cottons, linens or 4ply yarn and all things that can be kept out of my lap to prevent me melting into a sad little heap. Such fine plans. And then KnitWit rather meanly shows me photos of fibre flower making. How selfish is that?

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This (naturally) led me to review my flower books and from there I now want to make more flowers. My inner five-year-old will not let up, it wants flowers and it wants them NOW!

It is a demanding creature and even buying more flower books hasn’t shut it up. I’ve got 75 Birds and Butterflies to Knit & Crochet by Lesley Stanfield and Quick Knit Flower Frenzy: 17 Mix & Match Knitted Flowers by Annie’s.

Accepting my fate, I then started to look at old flower scarves and brooches and worked out whether I really need another one. So far so crazy.

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So, I was content to simply make some more flowers and then LYS (Franklin’s) had a yarn sale. If you can walk past those magic words then you are stronger than me. My plans for a few brooches has been blasted out of the water – they had chunky 50% merino/acrylic in the perfect shade of dark green, and if that wasn’t tempting enough it was at 50% off.

Seriously, is this a conspiracy? How can I possibly not make a double bed throw out of dark green that will be covered in flowers?

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So, here is the plan (heat exhaustion allowing). I am going to make a giant green granny square and cover it in flowers (I might resist making all 207 mentioned in the books), with the odd butterfly and ladybird. It shall be beautiful and as it is chunky, it should work up relatively quickly.

I have deconstructed a little-worn flower scarf (nothing against it, I just made a better one that got worn more). This will give me a 15 flower head start, and I figure that I can make as many or as few flowers as I want.

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The genius of this plan is that if I get distracted onto another project (*gasps from the back row*), I can add to it over time but still have a finished object. With luck, it should be ready in time for the winter – and who can resist snuggling up under flowers in the winter?

LouBug

The Knitted Bib

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I have accidentally knitted myself a bib. It was supposed to be an 8 triangle ‘Wingspan’ knitted shawl thing, but a couple of things have got in the way of its completion. Read on, weary reader…read on…

1. An easy mistake to make (if you’re a half-wit, or indeed a KnitWit), but I didn’t process a crucial piece of information during the early days of pattern study. Turns out if you double the ply (requested yarn was sock yarn, I used DK), then apparently you double the weight.

This was relayed to me by my mathematically challenged sister, LouBug, when it was way too late. I, with the ‘ology’ degree, failed to compute this. The natural conclusion to this oversight has been that my 100g of DK didn’t get me very far and my ‘shawl’ has only 3 triangles, not the promised 8. Boo hoo.

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2. Buy more yarn! I hear you all cry. Well, that would be the obvious thing to do. Looking at the striped horror, I prefer to cut my losses. Five more triangles probably wouldn’t add much to this item, the stripes aren’t great and I don’t love it enough to plough on. A bib it is then. I haven’t been put off though – I would definitely attempt this again…WITH SOCK YARN!

3. Once this decision had been made I decided to go ‘off-piste’ a little. Flush with excitement at my newly acquired skill of turning my work and casting on new stitches, I fashioned myself a short tie in order to secure the bib around my neck in case I decided to every wear it. Which is unlikely, fear not. Retract your hovering dialling finger, the fashion police are not needed.

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Rows and rows of garter stitch have also helped my general knitting abilities. I am excited to report that I have trumped LouBug’s “I can knit whilst reading my Kindle” and proudly broadcast that I can knit and read and actually follow a French TV series with SUBTITLES. Ha!

For anyone who has not been watching The Returned, your life is all the poorer.

KnitWit

Top 4 Fibre Flower Books

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With KnitWit’s latest foray into the world of fake flowers, I decided to do a book review on fibre flowers. I freely admit that my first attempt at fibre flowers came about as I got a free magazine booklet on crocheted flowers and then wondered what the heck I was going to use it for. I then had a fancy for a new tea cosy and was very pleased that my plan for “an English country garden” themed cosy could be achieved firstly from scrap stash and then with the new booklet. Nothing quite like instant gratification!

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This then led to a minor obsession spree resulting in many brooches, bag charms and even a garden themed inside door-mat.

Flowers have the twin delights of being both quick and thrifty, as they are fantastic for using up those small pieces of yarn that we hoard like dragon gold. I find them really useful for making quick “thank you” style brooch gifts (knitted cupcakes are also good for this) as it can be made in an evening and always raise a smile.

(1 & 2) Crocheted Flowers (Twenty to Make) Jan Ollis Twenty to Make: Knitted Flowers Susie Johns

Jan Ollis

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As I am sure you have gathered, I love this series (no I don’t have any shares in it!), as it tells you everything you need across a double page spread.

Both these books take advantage of using different types of yarn (for example using eye lash yarn to make the centres), as well as beads to add detail. I find these books especially useful for brooches as there is a good spread of shapes/styles of flowers and with 20 in each book it is easier to settle on a flower (as it is easy to be overwhelmed with too much choice!).

The size of the books also makes them perfect for slipping into a project bag to take along to knit nights.

(3) 100 Flowers to Knit and Crochet Lesley Stanfield

Lesley Stanfield

Obviously this is a book on crocheted and knitted flowers! But this also has a few patterns for things like leaves, veg and bugs (which are useful embellishment items).

I particularly like the way this book has a gallery section at the front that has divided the flowers by colour, as this makes it useful to browse for us folk that don’t know our flowers by name.

The flowers are a good match for their real world counter-parts in both colour, look and size. The size thing is useful as it makes it easier to combine “bouquets”. I have a plan for a pillow that looks like a flowerbed (mud with worms at the bottom and then up to the flowers).

The back of the book has 10 ideas for things to use them for (mainly embellishments) which is good inspiration.

(4) 50 Sunflowers to Knit, Crochet and Felt Kristin Nicholas

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Again, no prizes for guessing what the patterns are! As with the last book, there are also a few patterns on bugs and leaves. The layout is similar (despite being by different people and different publishers) with a ‘how to’, a gallery, patterns and uses (12 ideas).

I found it to be a good companion book with the last book as these flowers tend (obviously) to be much larger and with that you can play with the construction and embellishments.

Book I am most likely to recommend to a beginner

Either of the 20 to make books (depending on the preference of the crafter) as they are cheap and cheerful.

Book I most use

The 100 flowers as it is comprehensive and nice to flick through while planning projects.

LouBug

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