Yarn Gone Bad

badyarn

I have always said that there is no such thing as bad yarn, just bad project matches. Unfortunately, that makes it hard to get rid of ugly yarns, but it has (on occasion) paid off with deep-sea stash dives unearthing unlikely (but perfect) yarns. My best success story is a pale pink cotton yarn that made a hideous crochet spiral scarf (I now realise that the pattern called for 4ply mohair, not DK cotton). It could have doubled as a pot scrubber and sat around my neck like a dead tentacle. This went on to be frogged and sent back into the stash (to think about what it had done) and eventually went on to make my favourite hearts and diamond shrug, which has now been washed to tatty and still worn. Good yarn. Bad pattern. Lesson learned.

badyarn2

In a break from shawls (because I have started to chain knit them) and in an effort to tidy up the yarn pile, I decided to cast on a quick stash busting granny square blanket. So, time to tie on a safety line and delve deep in the stash. And sure enough, deep in the lower strata I found a bag of semi-forgotten yarn in just about the right quantity.

badyarn3

This yarn is ok, but it was a gift from another knitter and in the balance of things not something I would have bought for myself. The colour is fine but I am all about the texture and it feels like old cotton wool/candy floss with an odd “crackle” feel to it. Yep, it is 80s acrylic at its finest, and with a slight mock-mohair halo. But never one to look gift yarn in the mouth, I accepted it but it quickly sunk deep into the stash with barely a ripple (a bit like the car/swamp moment in Psycho).

badyarn4

Near it (perhaps for emotional support) was an equally texture-hideous yarn. Bought because I really cannot resist sparkly yarn that was 50% off and then (as the yarn fumes receded) slightly regretted it as I couldn’t imagine having it near my face and hair in the originally planned scarf. Static nightmare. Together, however, and in a blanket I spot a win.

badyarn6

So the plan is to use the four different sparkle yarns to break up the wide stripes of the red. Time will tell if there is enough yarn for a full bed blanket but I can always do something clever on the boarder to make it wider.

LouBug

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

And In With The New…Knitting

newknit

During Easter I took the time to give the stash a bit of an airing and (predictably) now cast on a pile of things. I have even bagged up some Christmas sock knits (yes, I do know it is May). I had the slightly embarrassing conversation with Mummy KnitBug where I revealed the full extent of where the stash went (which is basically like admitting to how much you weigh, although it is possible that I might actually weight less than the stash – what a frightening thought….). The conversation started with asking what colour she wanted, which she said could be anything I could spare from the stash. This then led me to admit that she could pretty much name any colour and I would have it (for example I have a few different shades of purple) and yes, I did in fact have the requested bright pink/blue.

newknit2

Dolly Mix has progressed well, and has got the planned 6×6 (36) squares completed; to cover a double bed I think I need about 12×12 (144) squares but I knew before I started that there wasn’t going to be enough to do this in one hit. The point of the blanket is to use up scrap DK (from projects, free magazine yarn or from knit kits that don’t catch my eye) and not buy more yarn! So (as planned) I am now going to rest it until the summer to give me time to generate more scrap DK acrylic.

newknit3

One potential source of yarn is the now started crochet kit by Attic24 bought at last year’s Ally Pally. I usually resist kits, as in my heart I know that I can do it cheaper (or in a better colour, material or with massive design changes) but I would have bought the finished blanket (if available) as it is such a perfect balance of colours. For once I “want that one” and have no planned changes. I am still very much at the starting blocks, but given that projects can languish for years, a six month wait is practically a rush starter. I am considerably slower on crochet that knitting, so it might be done for winter (2015? 2017? 2049?). Hopefully I will speed up as I go and chew through all 84 rows (with 213 stitches per row) nice and quickly.

newknit4

Last (but not least) I have now flown through the blue yonder shawl. This is from the very lovely 4ply that KnitWit bought me at Christmas (which is incredibly soft) and I chose “Timpani” from Sock Yarn Shawls. This starts off with a plain section, which should show off the subtle blue/lavender purple colour wash and then ends with an interlocking rectangle lace trim. Things got a bit interesting when I completed the original number of repeats, popped in a little lifeline and then attempted to squeak in another pattern repeat before the trim. For those that heard the howl of frustration, I didn’t! but my trusty life-line meant that it was annoying and not soul destroying.

newknit5

As a top tip, I have used dental floss for my life-line; not as random as it sounds! The hive mind of Ravelry rates it for life-line as it is slightly waxed (making it easy to remove), stronger than sewing thread (so less likely to snap) and easy to stash in your notions case. However, the minty fresh aroma is definitely a little odd with the lavender scent generated by the anti-moth herb bag.   Let us hope the smell fades over time!

LouBug

 

 

 

 

Hitting the Knitting Kits

kit

With the Christmas knitting finished on time and now safely delivered, I can now turn my attention to my backlog of Let’s Knit kits. I really like these little kits as they are cute and self-contained (hopefully I can remember where I put all the patterns!) and perfect for short-goal knitting.

kit2

I have wanted to make some of these things for a couple of years now, but either crazy Christmas knitting, or post-Christmas casting on have always go in the way. I’m sure everyone has a bit of a post-Christmas casting on frenzy; when all those big projects you dream about while knitting for others are meticulously planned, bagged and desperate to start. But the problem is that big things take time to finish and this year I have decided to give into my inner five-year old and knit a few quick things as well.

kit3

First up is going to be this angel kit. Ok, so Christmas may have passed, but it can be stored away as the chances of it being knitted next year in the Christmas run up are as tragically unlikely as they were this year. Lucky for me, my teacher instincts were firing up and sparking and I put the pattern with the kit before bagging it up!

kit4

I have now crocheted a wreath (inside is a cunningly placed foam pipe-lagging formed round a coat hanger) with shop bought pompom threaded off it. The original plan was quite ambitious but I have decided that life is too short to make 20 different designed snowflakes and I am going to settle for felt stars and the angel instead.

kit5

If the snowflakes happen in the future, well, I can easily take the stars off, but for the moment I just want it done. The only modification I am planning is to knit a base on the angel and stuff it as it will make it easier to attach to the ring. I might also include some sparkly yarn on the wings (possibly even some Crystal Barbie style thread) and I am tempted to use plastic eyes but I shall see if it makes the angel creepy!

Failing that, there is always next Christmas…

LouBug

Deramores Blog Awards 2014

DeramoreWebsite

Wow here we are (bottom, third in from the left) – the results are in!

Honourable mention for the LouBugKnits Blog for the Deramores Blog Awards 2014!

“Highly commended by the judges”

Our runner-up blog post featured Oliver the Fox Pillow, and our “Pass it On” tips for a professional finish. Congratulations to the winners, The Twisted Yarn, who won the knitting category, and Betsy Makes , winner of the crochet category.

LetsGetCraftingCongrats  FreePattern

I know LouBug really enjoyed writing the post, with a little editing from me, KnitWit. We certainly enjoyed knitting the fox pillows!

Thank you to all who clicked through and read the blog – we’ve had a record ‘page view’ today of 738 (and counting!). If you like what you’ve read, please follow us on Twitter (@LouBugKnits) or have our blog emailed to your inbox (details on the right-hand-side).

DeramoreFavourite

LouBug often posts free patterns, and you can follow LouBug on Ravelry, and me (KnitWit aka Stitchbotch) on Ravelry as well. LouBug has also created a handy Library of Well-Loved Knitting Books for honest reviews on some great knitting books & patterns which are out there.

Congratulations again to all the winners and “honourable mentions”!

KnitWit

Diagnosis Foxy: Advice for a professional-looking finish

comp

One pattern. Two knitters. Three balls of yarn. How could the results be so different?

If Poirot were a knitter (you just know he would make heirloom shawls), even he would puzzle at this. It is the eternal mystery of knitting that even with the same materials (indeed even with the exact same needles), two knitters will produce subtly different work. Some of us knit tighter, some of us knit looser, some of us closely follow a pattern and some of us purposely go off-pattern and run into the woods screaming “They will never take me alive!”

comp2

It all started innocently enough. As readers of our blog will know, both my sister (KnitWit) and I (LouBug) spotted the Oliver Fox Pillow pattern in our latest copy of Let’s Knit magazine. Old habits die hard, and despite both of us now being proper grown-ups (we have mortgages and everything!), we both decided to make it…but in a competitive way. Yes, competitive in that special way that only siblings can manage – the one where you both end up being 9-years-old again.

Being the youngest and more sensible sister, I sourced the yarn (which we were able to split between us). I loved the idea of a Knit-Off, largely because my sister is very competitive and likes to win, but actually had little chance of winning. I have been knitting for a clear decade longer and I quietly decided to wipe the floor with her. See, I told you – back to being at school.

comp3

I did feel a bit mean (for a whole minute) that I was able to knit two in the time she took to knit about a half of one, but I felt genuinely sorry for the fact that despite the colour-work going surprisingly well for a novice, her foxy delight looked decidedly…off.

comp4

KnitWit was not a happy bunny when she put her one next to mine, in a brief (yet touching) reunion of all three fox pillows. Perhaps the kind of bunny that was, well, faced with a “skulk” of foxes. “Why so teeny?!” she whined. Yes, weirdly her one did look a little bijou compared to mine.

wpid-1398165247601.jpg

It clearly isn’t nice being proud of a new skill and then realising that someone else has done much better. I suppose I was lucky, when I was honing my knitting skills I didn’t really have anyone to compare my efforts to, much like a beast left to evolve on the Galapagos Islands free from predator pressure. KnitWit’s knitting was actually very good, but the finishing up somewhat let the side down spoiling an otherwise great bit of intarsia. So, being a gracious winner, I put on my (knitted) thinking cap and decided to diagnose some of KnitWit’s pillow problems.

So, Diagnosis Foxy began in earnest. Pass the mortar board dear sister, my ‘professional-looking finish’ knowledge is poised and I am ready to “Pass It On”:

1: Block it

I was knitting for years before I realised the massive difference blocking can make. This is the reason that my pillow is bigger and less saggy than KnitWit’s one. By stretching it out, wetting it, stretching it some more and leaving it to dry, you help the stitches to settle and even out. It also helps to even out the colour-work joins and neaten up the edges and ear points. Yes it is tedious and yes you do have to be patient and wait a day before sewing up. But unpick it, dampen it (plant sprays work well) and pin it out. After a couple of hours, shape, damp and re-stretch it (at least twice).

Novice KnitWit is more than capable of this feat of knitting prowess, now that she has moved on from using drawing pins (thanks largely to a horrified mother-in-law swiftly purchasing proper pins, as one might offer a food parcel to the needy).

comp5

2: Seam it properly

Even Mr KnitWit commented on your interesting approach to making up knit pieces. It isn’t fabric, and turning it inside out and stitching it together with big woolly stitches adds bulk to the join. For my pillows I crocheted the pieces together (which also created a pleasing piped edge), but failing that, mattress stitch is your new friend. Done well it will magically disappear and look like it was knitted in the round.

I can imagine KnitWit’s response to my request for her to un-pick her hard work – unprintable on this blog, of course.

comp6

3: Buy a pillow pad

I am all for recycling old bed pillows for stuffing, but for this type of project you need the shaping that a properly made pillow pad has. This will avoid the (frankly weird) lumps that KnitWit’s fox pillow had. The pillow pad also has the advantage of having a white fabric case which helps the colours shine out and avoids wispy leaky threads.

Having said that, it was only for the saving grace of KnitWit’s mother-in-law donating pillow stuffing that saved her fox pillow from being stuffed with old socks, or left-over yarn…

comp7

I hope that this advice has been useful – advice gleaned from experience and from my wonderful Knit Club friends over the years. Just a few finishing-up pointers can make all the difference, allowing a knitting project to be rightfully and proudly displayed – and not hidden!

Please feel free to take this advice and “Pass it On”!

LouBug

www.deramores.com/blog-awards

This blog entry is my submission to the Deramores Blog Awards 2014. Deramores is the UK’s number one online retailer of knitting and crochet supplies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Small Knitted Delights

don

After the fun of knitting the foxy pillows I have decided to finally give into my inner five-year-old and knit some things just for whimsy.  This may sound an odd thing, but I do tend to knit practical things (socks, scarves, jumpers etc), as a part of me doesn’t see the point of knitting things for myself without a use.  Needing to find a use for things doesn’t always mean I knit boring things, after all my Granny’s Garden blanket was mainly an excuse to find a home for my knitted flowers.

don2

After finishing the blanket and sewing on the pre-existing flowers I kind of ran out of steam to make any more and I forgot what fun they are to make.  It was really nice coming home in the sun on Friday and casting on a little daffodil and finishing it barely an hour later (although I think I may need to add a sixth petal!).  That kind of quick-win did boggle me (after all I usually count project time in days if not months) and I will freely admit that barely a cup of tea later I cast on a donut.

don3

I made some knitted cakes for a birthday present a few years ago and I always meant to make myself some (as they were fun to make) especially when KnitWit started making them.  Now, technically this is a pin cushion (after all it must have a sensible use….), but really it is a stress relief knit.  I am especially pleased with the effect of holding a boucle yarn together with a plain to get the iced white/sugar frosted effect.  An evening’s work later and I was reeling from the fact that I had two new finished things.

don4

I then considered all my plans for knitted Christmas decorations that got pushed out of the way in December, and I have decided to knit them.  Yes, I realise it is March, but when the weather is cold my mind turns to ways to keep warm (and the great Christmas knit is a time of great Time Hoovering).

don5

So here is the first thing on the way, it will be a crocheted wreath in blue with white snowflakes on it.  Keen eyes will spot that I have padded out a coat hanger with pipe lagging, but I have made work for myself by joining the crochet in the round (I wanted to avoid a seam line) as I keep having to get out of the way of the damn thing.

don6

I am also in the mood for something silly and big, so I think the time has come to knit a dinosaur.

don7

Yep, you heard me.  I plan to knit a bright purple stegosaurus, for absolutely no reason other than it looks fun.  I might put a weight in the feet and put it to use as a door stop (so that it has the illusion of usefulness).

Viva la revolution!

LouBug

 

Nope, it really isn’t a Knitted Hat…

hat

Well, the dust has settled from Ally Pally and I am keen to justify my yarn spending by starting new projects. This is tied up in the warped logic that if the yarn doesn’t actually enter the main stash then (technically) I can’t be judged by Cat and Mr LouBug for yarn hoarding.

hat2

First up is actually my cheapest yarn. Technically free (I got it when I renewed my Let’s Knit subscription). I give you King Cole’s “Funky Felts” yarn (the pink one on the left). It is a funny fibre as it is basically acrylic fleece cut into a 1cm strip.

hat3

A nice quick make (started and finished on Sunday). Here it is, hot off the needles (or hook in this case), my first made item, a crocheted yarn bowl for me to take to knit nights.

It is designed to live in my knit bag, nicely folded up poised to spring into action and keep my yarn from rolling all the way to the bar.

hat4

The yarn I made it with was actually quite lovely to work with. It was very soft and it had a nice spring to it (making it good for crochet). It would be good to make other structural items (bags, cat baskets etc) and should work for garments if it was knitted. I will admit that I am basing the design on a similar bowl I saw made from “Hoopla” but I think that this actually came out nicer as it has more “bounce”.

hat5

To help keep it nice and clean, I have added a PVC print piece of fabric (stash dove from my fabric box) and a loop and button to stop it getting crushed.

Worryingly, Mr LouBug did think it was a hat and was very polite about how it looked (especially as I put it on my head to help stretch it out). It did worry me – if he could be nice about that, then what disasters has he politely let pass?!

LouBug

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: