The Power of Chunky


Well, Cat has already voted with his bottom. He tried to move onto the new Granny’s Garden blanket while I was still working on it. With each side being really, extraordinary and ridiculously long he did quickly wise up to the fact that I didn’t need to move the blanket much and so made it his mission to settle quickly and stubbornly as soon as I got it out.


So here it is, the finished item (not bad for 1kg of sale yarn). Slightly hard to photograph, but you get the idea. The flowers aren’t sewn on yet, but the plan is to get to about 20 so I can have some kind of plan behind the first batch. I figure that I can then sew them on as I go.


In the end, I opted for a border as it looked a bit unfinished without one (for the curious it is left-over yarn from my Big Green Jumper held double with some green eyelash yarn, got to love stash diving!). The eyelash yarn is a bit scratchy, but it does work well colour-wise.


I’m sure you will hear more about the flowers over the next few weeks (as I have fallen back in obsession with them). While idling through my patterns I really wanted a daisy, and then remembered my flower loom. This was bought an age ago (Clover for the curious) and I used it to knock out really quick flowers (each one takes about 15 mins).


I went off the loom originally because you are a bit limited to the type and style of flower but it sure makes a pretty daisy! I think I will also use it to make a dandelion and maybe a marigold.


I also re-vampt a black rose I reclaimed (nice flower, but next to invisible against the dark green) and I think you will agree that it is definitely more eye-catching with the red tips.


This has a reclaimed centre (from the flower scarf I disassembled) and I like the way it now looks a bit like a tropical flower. The orange was actually free yarn (25g) and surprisingly took all of it, making a nice big flower.


I have also played with other flowers from that scarf (there were a lot of the same style which didn’t fit in with my crazy English garden theme). I am pleased with the results, especially when I played with stacking them to make a more 3D look.

Anyone any thoughts on what else I could make? I’m thinking maybe a daffodil next and there is an interesting sunflower pattern I want to try. Oh the agony of choice!



Secret Santa (with a bit of cat shaming)


Oddly, this is going to be a post without any pictures of knitting, so I thought I would get a little cat shaming in. This is the rather unexpected view I got from Cat when I looked upwards in our utility room. Sadly I was too slow to get the full belly sprawl, which we were treated to moments before, which looked like an oddly coloured mess of candy floss – with little tiny feet….


So why the lack of knitting pictures (I hear you ask)? Well, I am well into my Christmas knitting frenzy and I do like to give surprises as well as woolly goodness. There will be no pictures until everything has been unwrapped. All I can say at this stage is that I am on track and still knitting other things (a good sign, as panic mode is best detected by the absence of knitting for myself).


So here are my top tips for surviving Christmas knitting

1: Plan early and realistically. You will never knit everyone you know a sweater (you know I’m right).

2: Look hard at your list and answer three key questions

(a) Do they appreciate my work?
(b) Have I fallen into the “but I make them something every year so now I have to” trap?
(c) Will they look after it (although, admittedly, acrylic might solve that problem)?

Remember, better to make two fantastic things and be well received than kill yourself making 20 gifts that are treated like a joke. Feel free to put some people on a “reserves” list, if you do get time then go for it!

3: Give yourself a time budget of a project a month and then count backwards from December (don’t try to count December as life tends to get in the way of any serious knitting time, whether it is turkeys or work parties). If you find yourself counting past the current month, then re-examine your knit list and then prioritise (you have my permission to be ruthless).

4: Using that time budget of a month, realistically work out what your actual knitting time will be. Then half it and half it again. Trust me, you will be overly optimistic on your time budget.

5: Pick a project that will fit that time budget and be honest about how much time it takes *you* to knit it. Aunty June may love your shawls but birthdays are good gift occasions too (and are more spread out). Hats are surprisingly fast, cute and useful. Face cloths (with fancy soap) can be personalised and made in an evening. Phone cosies can also be fun, cute and useful.

Anyone else got any knitting for Christmas advice? Or perhaps some epic deadline fails to share (I myself am still finishing a scarf that was supposed to be on last year’s list, fingers crossed for this year).


Pattern Cheating?


Is this cheating? Does anyone know? I realise that my efforts haven’t resulted in the most complicated scarf pattern in the world, but it is my first real attempt at knitting “off-piste” (on purpose…).

I have a plan to create a basket weave scarf. The reason I am wondering whether this is just a big-fat-cheat, is that I have borrowed the stitch repeats for basket weave stitch from Nicky Epstein’s great book (Knitting Block by Block).


There is a recipe in there on how to do a square (45 rows by 45 rows), of basket weave. For those of you whose knitting knowledge is even poorer than mine (anyone?), basket weave looks very complicated but appears to be just made up of k5, p5 repeats.

So, anyway, after much complaint about cold necks and a minor scuffle over the (previously rejected, and now hotly fought over) woolly scarf of last year (see post on ‘knitted gifts and ungrateful swines!’), I have decided to knit another boy scarf.

Rejected scarf, inexplicably now let into the fold

I’ve got a reasonable amount of Wendy merino chunky left in soft grey, the same wool used for the triumph which was the koala hat.


Rather than 45 rows, I have gone for 35 rows to fit a little neck (and still be able to accommodate the k5, *p5, k5* basket weave pattern). And rather than just create a square, I’m just going to keep knitting until I get a decent length, sew a name label onto it and release it into the wild. Whether it will return or not is anyone’s guess. Come winter our local walls and posts are decorated with discarded winter hats and orphaned mittens.

Not strictly a pattern then, maybe just half poached/half made-up. A new knitting category! I shall post the pattern once the scarf is complete.




This shrug is a hybrid of two techniques, with the main back piece crocheted and the trim knitted. Oddly, many people hold “views” on combining these techniques (perhaps borne of snobbish attitudes towards whichever one they don’t do). But I say, let us fibre craft together!


Like many hybrids, it takes advantage of the benefits given by both parents. The crochet grows very quickly and gives a relaxed airy panel and the knitted trim gives an elastic edge with good drape.

This works-up nice and quickly (the crochet panel can be done in an evening, but the knitting takes longer) and is a good stash buster.

Good for smartening up a sun dress, but watch out for comedy tan lines!

Free Pattern CroKnit shrug

For more free LouBugKnits patterns see our free pattern page.

Quasimodo Cardi


Ok, so this post is a bit of a cheat. As I have mentioned, I have been a touch busy and my knitting has been focused on ‘Granny’s Garden’ and the stress sock I mentioned in my last post. So I thought I would give a mid-project report on my purple cardi that I haven’t touched since term kicked off.


Knitted out of Rowan “calmer” (DK, 75% cotton, 25% microfibre) bought in last year’s Franklins (my LYS) summer sale – it is based on my first ever cardi.

This first cardi was a disaster in yarn substitution, that resulted in a whole project frog (because I don’t have a Quasimodo style hump and so didn’t need the back to have the room to fit one). It led to my first ever make-it-up-as-you-go-along (but keep meticulous notes) project.

I love that cardi, but I lacked knitter-knowledge about how to care for it.

I started by hand-washing it (and squeezing the water out by using towels and my body weight). Annoyingly it took so long to dry (as I was scared about putting it on a radiator), that it would smell slightly damp when worn.

I then went the other way and machine washed it on a 40 degree wash. Finally I have settled on actually using the 30 degree wool cycle, which unsurprisingly is the best fit. So far so good, but when I stumbled across a ball of the same yarn in a LYS I was saddened to realise that the cardi had lost colour, bounce and softness in my care. So I did what any knitter would do, I am making a new, similar one in a different colour!


The waist decreases went well and I was pleased to see how much nicer they were compared to the original (nope, I’m not going to show you – yes they were that sloppy and a girl has some pride!).

Feeling clever, I decided to have a go at improving the fit around my boobs by using short-row darts to create a pocket of extra fabric in the appropriate place.


After a little trial and error, I managed to get an even increase and made me a little booby pocket. But (and we all knew there was a ‘but’ lurking here somewhere), while trying it on to check the armpit to shoulder length I realised that frogging time was coming. The first issue was that as the yarn had such good stitch definition, the line of increases stood out like a scar which created an odd zig-zag across the front.


In theory the darts worked, in theory they did allow the cardi to have a nicer fit across my body as there was no stretching over my boobs to spoil the drape line. But, if the darts moved, even a slight bit, even by a shrug of my shoulders, then they became freaky little puckers of fabric.

It looked even more stupid when the cardi was allowed to fall open and suddenly the darts became screamingly obviously odd. On the plus side, I did catch it before I finished the back, on the downside I did have to frog 50 rows (including my armpit shaping) *sigh*. So I think this will be more a spring cardi than an autumn cardi afterall.

I haven’t given up on the idea of darts (as they did work when in the right place), but I think I will only try it again on a jumper with a yarn with a halo (ie slightly fuzzy) to hide the line.

Anyone else tried to do darts? Are they worth it, or has everyone else also ended up frogging them?


Hi-Tech Knitting


Any knitting nerds out there? Perhaps ones that enjoy knitting scarves and hats, whilst watching Star Trek (I’m looking at you LouBug…)?

A special treat for me last week – and a welcome break from padded rooms full of hyped-up children and poor coffee – I went to the Design Museum in London. Such exciting cultural outings are not a normal occurrence for me – the feeling that I was somehow “bunking off” my normal daily duties only added to my glee.

Buried amongst the stuff I didn’t really understand, was a small section on hi-tech knitting which caught my eye. Full credit goes to the Design Museum for the following text and associated images.

For your perusal. Enjoy.

adiZero Primeknit
manufactured by Adidas (image above)

“Using an innovative digital knitting process the entire upper element of the Primeknit is made in a single piece. A carefully constructed pattern is knitted using fused yarn to create a form that wraps around the foot. The performance of the material and the knitting pattern provides varying degrees of stiffness and flexibility, offering support where it is needed without additional reinforcements or lining.”


Digital Knitting and Weaving (image above)

“The weaving and textile industries were one of the earliest to mechanise their manufacturing processes. The Jacquard loom, invented in 1801, was the first machine capable of manufacturing according to a set of instructions. These early looms were controlled by a series of linked cards with holes punched out in various places that could be read by the machine. In this sense the Jacquard loom was the first digitally programmable machine – albeit mechanically digital as opposed to electronically digital.

Looms have been controlled by these basic principles for over 200 years. While modern looms take digital instruction direct from computer files and electronic designs, the essential process remains the same.”


Butterflies and Hurricanes


I love it when a plan comes together. As expected, my first full teaching week has been a hurricane of activity, choca-block full of the things I want to get done before the first batch of marking floods in.

I always say that teaching is like a play, all the audience see is a few hours of on-stage performance and they judge your working day against that. What they don’t see is the actors learning lines (or teachers writing activity sheets); the sets being built (or the after school meetings we have on sharing the latest methods); the costumes being made (or the adapting lesson plans/activity sheets to fit the ability group in front of you); and the make-up being put on (or crunching the data to make sure that the group is progressing ok).

Then the stage is set, the performance given and then the marking begins!


So the plan was to give myself small achievable goals along-side pecking at larger projects.

I have been making small items to put on my ever-growing “Granny’s Garden” throw (1 ball to go, roughly 1 hour per row, fingers crossed it is finished this weekend).

I have taken a couple of evenings out to make a big blue butterfly. In the picture it is next to the fridge magnet of the one that landed on my chest in the butterfly house on my birthday outing (see the April post “Butterflies and Dinosaurs“).

The pattern in from 75 Birds and Butterflies to Knit & Crochet by Lesley Stanfield (it is the big blue one at the bottom of the picture at the start of this post).

I added the black trim and I am debating about embroidering some white dots, but I am not sure if it works better being simple. Any thoughts?

Hurricane 3

I have also managed to finish the first sock of my stress buster socks. In my hazy and relaxed summer break I clean forgot to do my online renewal of my food hygiene certificate, so I accepted my fate and knocked that out on Saturday morning (I really know how to party!).

For those who haven’t had the pleasure of doing this, it is a *fun* packed four-hour online course with tests at the end of each section and instructional games to play as you go. Never have I been more grateful that I can multi-task!

I was more than able to knit away at this sock during the video lectures and more than able to put down and pick up the sock as I needed to inter-act with the program.

I am pleased to report that I scored 100% on all 10 module tests and 100% on the final exam! And, because I could knit away, I did not chew at the furniture anytime I was left waiting for things to load (2 minutes is an age when watching a progress bar).


On a side note, I am also ridiculously pleased that despite this being a stash-dive-needles-grabbing kind of project, I have accidentally managed to perfectly colour co-ordinate my sock with the little owl iron-on patch on the project bag. I have been pecking at this for a week and I suddenly noticed it while grafting the toe. Simple pleasures for simple minds!


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