A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

WiP Wednesday: Peerie Flooers mittens

Last week I posted the sketch of my design for these convertible gloves. In one of my frequent fits of chronological optimism, I had hoped to have these finished on Sunday as part of my Order of the Phoenix mission for the Harry Potter Knitting and Crochet House Cup. This is where I managed to get.

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This is glove one so I’m not even close! I changed a few elements of the design as I knit, especially after reading a very interesting article about selecting shades for colour work by the inspirational Jared Flood. Right now I’m not 100% in love with how these are looking so I think I’ll finish the thumb and leave them to hibernate for a few weeks.
Here are a few process pics. I do love the method for lining the glove, it’s very clever and neat even if it did almost cause my head to explode.

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WIP Wednesday: Waterlily top

On my needles at the moment is the beautiful Waterlily top. I decided to go with the recommended yarn, which is Islington by Kettle Yarn Co and stunningly beautiful. I chose the off-white colourway as I’m still on a white clothing kick inspired by Olivia Pope in Scandal. It does make me anxious about knitting on the bus though!

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I’m adding a little shaping and I’ve just finished knitting up to the narrowest part of my waist. It’s just subtle shaping, no bust darts as I’m also trying to embrace positive ease a bit more this year. I was hoping to have this finished before I go away but since I leave in three weeks that may be slightly ambitious!
I’m also working on some mittens to go with my Peerie Flooers hat. I have lots of yarn left over, but mainly in the brighter colours rather than the background shades. I’ve sketched a template so I can play around with some different ideas. What do you think?

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I don’t want the colours to be too crazy as I have a red coat.

As I mentioned in one of the hat posts, the wool is a little bit scratchy and the pattern includes a lining that is knit in much softer yarn (I’m using baby alpaca). I decided to cast on the first glove yesterday. The instructions say to do a provisional cast on, then join in the round and knit the lining, which I thought would take an hour or so. Dear god, it was the most traumatic knitting experience I’ve had in years! I did a provisional cast on once before for my cabled cowl, and used the method on Knitty. When I tried this time, the lining yarn got all tangled with the waste yarn holding my stitches and was a real mess. When I joined to work in the round, it was an absolute tangled disaster and I had to rip it out.

Following a quick Google, I decided to follow someone’s advice and knit a few rows straight before joining to work in the round to avoid tangling. This is the lining so a little untidiness won’t be seen anyway. Somehow I managed to cast on the wrong number of stitches, so I had to frog again. On try three, I worked three rows straight and then joined to work in the round… and managed to twist the edge. Rip it rip it! By this time I was getting pretty irate but I was determined to get this glove on the needles if it killed me.

And zen. Try four finally worked. This time, I knit 7 rows straight to make it easier to join in the round without twisting the edge. I’ve done the lining now and it only took 4 hours.

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Although this was a frustrating experience, I hope it will improve my knitting in the long run. I have to do a long provisional cast on for the big cardigan project I have planned for autumn, so it’s all practice.

FO Friday: Peerie Flooers Hat

I’m really pleased to have finished my first Fair Isle knitting project, and I think it turned out wonderfully. Here’s a shot of the crown.

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Such a beautiful design! I wanted a slouchy beret kind of look rather than a close-fitting cap so I’m blocking it over a dinner plate. Some of the flowers are a bit stretched but I hope this will give the effect I’m going for.

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The hat is slightly baggier than I had intended but this will be great for winter when I often want to tuck all my hair away when it’s cold and wet. Here I am modelling with my signature weird facial expression.

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Further craft knife adventures

I designed this paper cut for a competition run by the university I technically attend. They decided, after we submitted, that it would be nice to give students a card when they hand in and further we, the students who left the office with nothing but horrible memories, would be best placed to design that card. Unfortunately I’m a total sucker for an excuse to make stuff so I had a go.

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Even though there are quite a few mistakes (including two areas where I had to stick sections of text back together!) overall I’m happy with this piece. I like to see myself really ambitious craft challenges sometimes, and this was definitely one of the hardest!
It took about two or three hours to do the preparation- designing, drawing up the final composition, transferring it to tracing paper and then onto the final piece of card. The actual cutting took about eight hours in total. By the end I had a really sore back from sitting hunched over my cutting mat as well as an impressive blister on my index finger. I would have looked like a hybrid of Quasimodo and ET as I hobbled around showing people my injured finger. Craft is so cool.
Here is yet another GIF of my work on my Tumblr. And now for some progress pics.
Initial sketch

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Final design

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Transferring the reversed design onto card.

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This is what it looked like once I had cut out the design.

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I’ve been inspired by the work of Paper Panda, which is where I got the idea for the rainbow. It was fiddly to do at first but I got the hang of it after a couple of colours.

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The final stage was to add the backing. If I had photo editing software, I would probably clean it up a bit, but I can live with the flaws. They prove it’s handmade.

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FO Friday: Conchita Wurst knitted beards

I can’t believe I forgot to post about knitting these beards considering how much joy they gave. I had to miss out on Eurovision this year due to the thesis but I was, of course, aware of the landslide victory for Conchita against a backdrop of conservative disapproval. By wonderful coincidence, I happened to be visiting Vienna very shortly afterwards and my friends and I felt that a show of solidarity for Conchita was as essential as sausage consumption. A beard is a wonderfully quick and fun project that only requires a very basic understanding of knitting. Since I had orange, yellow and black yarn in my stash I decided to coordinate the beards to our hair colours. Here we are under the benevolent/constipated watch of Freud.

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These beards took under two hours each to knit, including finishing. I’m going to include a simple pattern as the one on Ravelry is a bit dodgy.
Materials

  • About 30g (30m/yards) chunky yarn OR 60m/yards worsted/aran weight yarn held double
  • 5mm needles
  • Tapestry needle

Pattern

Note: Always slip the first stitch purlwise

Row 1. Cast on 42 stitches

Rows 2 & 3. Sl(ip) 1, K end

Row 4. Sl 1, K16, cast off 12, K to end

Row 5. Sl 1, K to gap, cast on 12, K to end (42 sts total)

Rows 6-14. Sl 1, K to end

At this point, measure. The beard should reach the the bottom of your chin when held to your face to ensure a good fit. Knit a few more rows if you have a longer chin.

Row 15-20. Sl 1, K2tog 3 times, K to last 7 sts, K2tog 3 times, K

Row 21 Cast off remaining stitches (there should be 12)

I left long tails on both ends. You can crochet a long chain and either use it to tie around the head or make little loops to attach to the ears (this works well if you wear glasses).

Alternatively, sew the beard into a hat, it will be easy to remove.

Conchita says relax.

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WIP Wednesday: Peerie Flooers Fair Isle Hat

I couldn’t resist this gorgeous knitting pattern when Kate Davies featured it on her blog. The tiny flowers and the colours just spoke to me. Best of all, it came as a kit, saving me the agony of selecting coordinating colours. I like the little balls of Jamieson and Smith wool in their bright but somehow organic colours.

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I realised that I’ve never really knit with straight up wool. I tend to use soft blends, but two of my current projects are introducing me to the joy of sheep. I do find this wool a bit scratchy, which is a bit worrying as I have plans for coordinating mittens. I may have to line them.
The rim of the hat is in corrugated rib, which was a nice way of getting used to knitting Fair Isle. Each row uses two colours to prevent wool tangle and you carry the unused colour behind the stitches in the contrast colour- these are called floats. A lot of the skill in the technique is in maintaining a good tension so the floats don’t affect the texture of the fabric.

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As well as the completed ribbing you can see the floats on the wrong side of my fabric.
I’m about half way through the hat at the moment and I’m loving the flower pattern.

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How to: Blueberry and ricotta pound cake

I spotted this recipe for blueberry custard cake on Pinterest when I first joined and finally I tried it out. This cake is absolutely delicious, really moist with a pronounced custard flavour and the sweetness is balanced by the pops of blueberry goodness. Yum.

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This cake tastes great but it just doesn’t look the same as my inspiration recipe. The only changes I made were to use self-raising flour and frozen blueberries rather than fresh. I might try it again using fresh blueberries to see if that makes a difference. I love the texture, it’s really moist and custardy.
Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups self raising flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 250g (1 1/4 cups) ricotta
  • 3 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups fresh blueberries

Method
1. Preheat oven to 175C (350F)
2. Grease a 9×5″ loaf tin
3. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
4. Add the ricotta slowly, perhaps a quarter of the tub at a time. Don’t worry if the mixture starts to appear curdled.
5. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until just blended.
6. Add vanilla
7. Stir the salt and nutmeg into the flour, then slowly add the dry ingredients into the batter, about a quarter at a time, mixing between additions.

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8. Gently fold in the blueberries

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9. Transfer to the prepared tin and level the top.
10. Bake for 30mins, then lower oven temperature to 150C (325F) and bake for a further 30-40mins, until a knife inserted into the cake shows only a few moist crumbs.
11. Allow cake to cool in the tin for 20mins- be patient!- then remove to cool completely on a wire rack.

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