Hello 2014

Happy New Year! I hope you have all had a good time with friends and family over the festive period.

Do you have any plans or resolutions for 2014?

Rather than a resolution, this year I’ve decided to do monthly themes. I’m hoping that having something different to focus on each month means I won’t get bored or frustrated and I’ll be more productive with my time.

January is going to be all about organising, sorting and cataloguing my stash, projects and what I’m planning to make. I’m starting by taking a photo of all my works in progress so I can make project pages on Ravelry for them. I think I’m going to cringe at how many there are once I’m done, I suspect its probably way more than I thought it was…

This will then set me up to tackle February’s theme which is going to be to finish as many WIPs as I can. I’m still deciding on the monthly themes for the rest of the year, let me know if you have any good ideas!

I’m also planning on getting back into running again. I started last year with the Couch to 5k programme (NHS version) which went great and I was regularly doing 5k Park Runs by the summer. I also cycled to work (a round trip of 14 miles!) until an irresponsible dog walker caused me to come off my bike and break my big toe which scuppered my running until recently. This year I’m going to aim for a 10k run.

Yum!

I’ve been busy in the kitchen today:

Yummy Gingerbread

Just as yummy as a gingerbread house but I won’t feel guilty about ruining anything if I tuck into one or two of these!

The recipe is from the Great British Bake Off Christmas special and you can find it here. I divided the amount of ingredients by three which as you can see was still more than enough for a good sized batch. I definitely recommend the recipe, it was quick to make, tastes great and if you’ve got kids then I’m sure they’d have a lot of fun decorating them.

Happy Holidays!

Festive Knitting Promotion

The festive season is well and truly in full swing now, it’s my favourite time of the year. So many pretty decorations and good times to be had. The only bit I dislike is buying presents. I love giving presents but I find it so hard to find the right one to give someone. I always want to find something really special each year and when your loved ones don’t tell you exactly what they want it can be kind of tricky! My dad tried to help me out by saying he could do with a new alloy wheel scrubber but since I don’t think anyone has ever said “I really love that alloy wheel scrubber you got me for Christmas,” its safe to say he won’t be getting that.

If like me, you’ve not yet finished your Christmas gifts (or fancy a treat for yourself) then I may have something to help you out. Starting today and running over the weekend through until midnight (GMT) Monday (16/12/2013) I have 10% off my patterns. There’s no code to apply, simply check out through Ravelry and it will be automatically taken off.

Gloves

The fingerless gloves above are knit in an aran weight yarn so will only take a couple of evenings to knit up, perfect for last minute gifts. If you buy the collection with all 3 fingerless glove patterns you’ll pay just £7, saving £2 off the price if you were to buy them separately (10% off does not apply to this offer).

Georgeous Plum Yarn and a New Indie Dyer

I recently discovered Mellifera Yarns. I ordered Tuesday and this lovely package arrived Wednesday with faultless customer service from Mel.

New Yarn!

The yarn is a merino blend (75% Superwash Merino, 25% Nylon, 420m/460 yards) and I’ve decided its going to become a pair of socks but I’m still playing around with design ideas, twisted stitches? Mini cables? Slipped stitches? I can’t wait to get swatching and try them out!

Darn it!

I’ve got a few pairs of socks that have reached the ‘won’t survive another wearing’ stage and are awaiting repair. Darning them is one of those jobs that I’m always going to get around to doing and then never do, after all it’s boring and fiddy and I could be knitting instead!

There are several ways to fix a sock. For toes and after-thought/short-row heels you can simply snip a couple of threads of yarn, remove the offending heel/toe and pick up the live stitches to knit a new one. Or you can use Swiss darning which is a form of duplicate stitch to go over the weak spots and create a patch. And there’s also the more traditional darning technique of creating a frame using thread to make new stitches over a hole.

My heels are mainly heel flap and gusset and I don’t think they’d survive an attempt at Swiss darning however, last week I found Knit Picks’ tutorials on darning socks and realised that it would actually be very simple to just knit a patch onto the sock. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that before!

Before: (You can see why I didn’t want to attempt Swiss darning!)

This sock has no black in it.

After:

Darned!

With over 3 years of wearing and washing I had forgot how vibrant the colours originally were! I did wonder if I’d be able to feel the edges of the patch but I thankfully can’t, the heel feels a bit more padded than my other socks but its comfortable and will probably fade when the original sock heel wears away completely.

The socks that have worn out quickest have been (perhaps unsurprisingly) pure wool socks, either 100% Merino or Blue Faced Leicester. I’m not saying I’ll never knit 100% wool socks ever again, they did alright for a few years not weeks, but I’ll certainly think twice now before using a yarn without any nylon for socks.

Meet Frederick the Snowman

Or Fred to his friends.

Fred the Snowman

He’s a very happy chap.

Fred the Snowman

He even has his own Wooly Wormhead Minikins hat.

Fred the Snowman Plus Minikins hat

But it doesn’t fit him very well. So he gave it to Zingy, who now refuses to take it off.

Fred gave the hat to Zingy

If you’d like to make your own Snowman, here’s the pattern. If you make him, please do come back here and share your photos! I’d love to see lots of friends of Fred!

Materials
25g DK weight yarn (I used Jarol Heritage, 55% Wool, 25% Acrylic, 20% Nylon, 247m/100g))
10g DK weight yarn in red (I used Drops Karisma, 100% wool, 100m/50g)
3mm (US#2.5) dpns or circular needle.
Toy Filling
3 buttons (safety buttons if giving to a child) or felt
Thread for smile and sewing on buttons
Small fabric sachet with PVC beanbag granules (Optional) (SEE BELOW)
Darning needle

Gauge
24 sts and 32 rows to 4″ (Not essential as long as it is tight enough that no stuffing shows through.)

Size
Fred stands ~12cm (4.75″) tall.

Abbreviations

CO – Cast on
k – Knit
st – Stitch
sts – Stitches
kfb – Knit into front and back of stitch
k2tog – Knit two together
rep. – Repeat instructions in brackets
sl1 – Slip 1 stitch

Pattern

(Fred is knit from the bottom up.)
CO 6 st.
Knit 1 row. Join to work in the round taking care not to twist your stitches.
Round 1: kfb all sts. (12 sts)
Round 2: (kfb, k1) rep. to end. (18 sts)
Round 3: (kfb, k2) rep. to end. (24 sts)
Round 4: (kfb, k3) rep. to end. (30 sts)
Round 5: (kfb, k4) rep. to end. (36 sts)
Round 6: (kfb, k5) rep. to end. (42 sts)
Round 7: (kfb, k6) rep. to end. (48 sts)
Round 8: (kfb, k7) rep. to end. (54 sts)

Rounds 9-26: knit

At this point if you are using a small sachet to give him a bit of weight put it in now.

Round 27: (k7, k2tog) rep. to end. (48 sts)
Round 28: (k6, k2tog) rep. to end. (42 sts)
Round 29: (k5, k2tog) rep. to end. (36 sts)
Round 30: (k2tog) rep. to end.
Round 31: knit
Round 32: (kfb) rep. to end.
Round 33: (kfb, k5) rep. to end. (42 sts)
Round 34: (kfb, k6) rep. to end. (48 sts)
Round 35: (kfb, k7) rep. to end. (54 sts)

Rounds 36 – 49: knit

At this point, stuff Fred’s bottom half and sew on any facial features. Gently stuff Fred’s head. Don’t worry about stuffing his head fully at this point, it will make it difficult to knit, you can add small amounts gradually to finish him off as you come to close his head.

Round 50: (k7, k2tog) rep. to end. (48 sts)
Round 51: (k6, k2tog) rep. to end. (42 sts)
Round 52: (k5, k2tog) rep. to end. (36 sts)
Round 53: (k4, k2tog) rep. to end. (30 sts)
Round 54: (k3, k2tog) rep. to end. (24 sts)
Round 55: (k2, k2tog) rep. to end. (18 sts)
Round 56: (k1, k2tog) rep. to end. (12 sts)
Round 57: (k2tog) rep. to end. (6 sts)
Break yarn, thread through remaining 6 sts. and sew in end. Sit back and admire for a moment.

Scarf

CO 6 sts.
Row 1: sl1 purlwise, knit to end.
Repeat last row until scarf is desired length. Cast off. Sew in all ends.

Hat

Minikins hat

Mini PomPoms

I’ve seen this done with a fork but I wanted slightly smaller pompoms. Grab two pencils and tuck the end of the yarn between them.

Mini Pompom #1

Wrap and wrap and wrap. Make sure the wraps aren’t too spread out. Then using some thread, go between the pencils and tie. Gently slip the pencils out, tighten and secure the knot.

Mini Pompom #2

Using some small scissors snip through the loops.

Mini Pompom #3

Fluff up and trim any scraggly bits.

Mini Pompom #4

Enjoy!

Adding a Sachet

Using a small piece of fabric in a white or light colour and draw a circle roughly the size of your snowman’s base. I drew around my tin of pins but you can draw freehand, no one will see this sachet! Cut around the circle leaving a small gap.

DSC_2854

Pin together and sew along your line leaving a small gap to fill your sachet (you might want to leave a slightly bigger gap than I did, it was a bit fiddly!)

DSC_2856

Fill with PVC beanbag granules, a funnel is handy here. I improvised one out of paper. You can use lentils or dried peas however there is a chance they could harbour mites and you must avoid it getting damp. Hand stitch the small gap closed ensuring your stitches are close enough that the filling can’t escape.

DSC_2857

Now its ready to go in Fred’s bottom!

Christmas Sewing Update The Second

Last week’s Christmas sewing session was very productive, but not completed, hence the lack of photos. Over the course of the week I’ve slowly been finishing what I started and I’m now finally ready to share.

DSC_2856

The trees are either going to be hung as a garland or as individual decorations, I’m not quite sure yet. But as a novice sewist I’m quite impressed with what I’ve done and how neat it all looks. My seams are usually fairly straight but I often struggle with tension. I didn’t really have that problem this time, maybe I’m *gasp* improving?!

DSC_2854

I was a little wary of sewing the heart, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to make the blanket stitches neat enough for my perfectionist ways but I think I did alright! And it was very relaxing, carefully stitching it together whilst listening to a podcast (I’m slooowly catching up on the lovely A Playful Day). I’m thinking I might have to make another one.

This weekend I’m taking on the challenge of patchwork and making a gorgeous Christmas cushion cover for my sofa. I’ve picked a very straightforward pattern so I’m hoping the hardest bit will be picking out the squares of fabric.

But if you think I’ve abandoned knitting, think again. Check back here later as I have a very cute little character that I’d like to you to meet.

And a pattern.

And mini pom-poms.

Christmas Sewing Update

My living room is now my ad hoc sewing room.

My ad hoc sewing room

Boxes of fabric, threads, stuffing, the ironing board and a few knitting projects are all behind the camera. It really has taken over the whole room and it is brilliant! I’ve got Christmas songs on and a Yankee Mulling Spices burning. I’m in my element.

But the big question is, have I actually made anything? Well, I’ve made some templates, done some cutting and threaded up the sewing machines. It’s looking promising, check back later to see the results!

And in the meantime, don’t forget to use festive10 at the checkout and get 10% off all my patterns for today.

Festive Pattern Promotion

As promised, to celebrate the start of the most festive month of the year and my day of Christmas sewing I’m running a special promotion on my patterns today (Saturday) for readers of my blog and twitter. For one day only (until midnight GMT 01/12/12), get 10% off all my patterns! Just use the code festive10 when you check out.

But wait, it gets better! This promotion can still be used with my current offer on my new fingerless gloves patterns. So instead of getting 3 for £7 (saving yourself £2) you can get all three for £6.30 (which google tells me is roughly $10.10) These gloves are really cute and are knit in an aran weight yarn so they almost fly off the needles, perfect for busy festive knitters.

Gloves

You can see my patterns here. And if you want the code festive10 put directly into your basket follow this link.

I’ll post at the end of the day with (hopefully!) some pictures of lovely handmade Christmas decorations. I’d love to hear from you too if you’re doing something creative today!

Help Me with My Christmas Sewing?

Last year I bought some Christmas fabrics with the intention of making some decorations and/or cards from them. Well, you know what they say about good intentions. I only managed to get part of a heart decoration done as I struggled to get the zigzag stitching neat enough for my perfectionist ways and eventually abandoned it to go back to my knitting.

This year though, I am determined to finish that heart and do something with my other pieces of fabric. So I’m dusting off the machine and having a day of stitching on Saturday.

Can anyone recommend me some ideas and/or tutorials on Christmas sewing? I’d love to have a go at some patchwork with the little squares but I don’t know of any easy projects other than a mini quilt? I’d also love to see any pictures of decorations you’ve made yourselves!

As a thank you and to celebrate the start of the festive season and my day of Christmas sewing I’m also planning on running a special promotion on my patterns on Saturday. This will be exclusive to readers of my blog and my twitter followers so make sure you check back here Saturday!

Christmas stuff