I went to a peculiar crochet event at the Natural History Museum recently. In order to celebrate replacing the famous dinosaur skeleton in their great hall with the bones of a blue whale named Hope, Toft designed a special kit to make a crocheted version. Here’s what we were emulating.
And here I am hooking underneath her.
In terms of amigurumi, I’ve only ever trial crocheted some simple spheres before, so the whale was quite a step up. I made a few mistakes, especially with the decreases, but I remembered my friend Anna’s advice that crochet is very forgiving and ploughed on. I don’t think the errors notice too much.
This is actually the bonus pattern, Blue the whale calf. I’m pretty pleased with it as my my first crocheted toy. I’ll probably have a go at the full size whale one day.
Kits exclusive to the Natural History Museum in London.
Pattern not currently featured on Ravelry.
I realised that I haven’t posted a satisfactory knitting update in some time, so here is my attempt to redress the balance. My knitting libido (knitbido?) is still quite low this year. I wonder if that’s due in part to taking a sabbatical from the HPKCHC. I’m still working on most of the projects I mentioned in my will-it-ever-end Wednesday post.
I’m still making slow but steady progress on my League sweater. I have finished the back, and I just did the second set of decreases on the front, which means I’m over halfway towards starting the armhole shaping, which is a little more interesting.
I’ve still got both sleeves to do next, so this jumper isn’t going to be finished any time soon. That’s okay, because it’s not woolly jumper weather right now, but if I continue at this pace, maybe I can have it finished for the autumn.
I’ve also made a small amount of progress on this cardigan. I’ve finished the waist increases. I’m going to add some shaping at the back hem for interest.
The most exciting knitting on my needles is the swatch I’m making for a possible Humboldt sweater. This pattern, in particular the use of marl, has really grown on me as the designer occasionally posts about in on Instagram. I’m thinking this would be a lovely cropped jumper to wear over dresses- less boring and warmer than a cardigan. I would probably knit this in Lemonade Shop speckled yarns, like the purple used in the swatch, so this sweater would be a pretty big financial investment. However, I also think that a sweater like this in worsted weight yarn would spark my interest more than the two small gauge projects I’ve got on the go at the moment. Plus, it would plug a gap in my wardrobe.
If you believe in psychodynamic ideas, you believe that many aspects of a person’s life can reflect their inner conflicts. Sometimes it strikes me that my approach to craft reflects what’s going on in the rest of my life. Last year, knitting was often a form of escape for me. Having finally finished my doctorate, I sought a sense of achievement from completing highly complex and technical knits, which were also a way for me to avoid other aspects of my life that I find stressful and distasteful. Some people bury their head in the sand. I bury mine in five skeins of the finest cashmere and alpaca blend.
I had some unexpected knitting time a couple of weekends ago and I noticed a common theme in my works-in-progress. I am currently in the middle of:
At the moment, all of these projects seem like they’ll never end. All of them have been on the needles or hook for a while, not seeming to get nearer completion. I’m not feeling hugely satisfied with any of them. Especially with the sweaters, I’m not even sure if I like the colours.
Many of the questions that I have about my knitting projects could also be asked about my life. Will the finished project resemble what I hoped it would? Will I be happy with it? Am I rushing through the process, not really enjoying it, focusing too much on the outcome? It can be difficult to be at the wrong end of your twenties and still uncertain about whether you’re on the correct path in life.
For the time being in life, to borrow an unbelievably overused phrase, it’s a case of keep calm and carry on. In craft, I must keep calm and carry yarn.
I finished crocheting my basket out of Jersey Be Good t-shirt yarn. It came out really well!
I’m not entirely sure if this object is really finished. I stopped because I ran out of yarn. The basket is big enough to be useful, so I’m not going to buy yarn specifically to finish it. The good thing about crochet is that I can leave it like this for now, and add more rounds if I decide I want the basket to be taller.
I followed the pattern pretty much exactly. Using JBG held double, this yielded a basket that is
The yarn ran out partway through row 20.
If you want to make a basket, you will need four cones of JBG, or about 400 yards total of t-shirt yarn. I think it would be a lot of fun to make a basket like this using old t-shirts. You could make the yarn thicker so that it wouldn’t have to be held double that way.
The pattern I used is okay. I spent a lot of time searching Ravelry to find a free crocheted basket pattern and this seemed like the best. My only criticism is that the bottom of the basket isn’t completely flat. There must be a different way to crochet a flat circle. This may also be a tension issue but I don’t know since I’m inexperienced with crochet. I blocked the bottom of the basket, which helped, but I wouldn’t really recommend doing this because the fabric is so thick, it took several days to dry and started to smell a bit musty.
Pattern: Neon touch baskets (FREE!)
Yarn: About three cones of Jersey Be Good by Wool and the Gang
I quickly crocheted this Innocent hat a couple of weeks ago as my last project for the HPKCHC before taking a sabbatical. I think I’ve benefitted a lot from the Cup adding a community and competition element to the highly solitary craft of knitting. However, I have a lot of other priorities in my life at the moment, and I think I’m using knitting too much as an avoidance strategy. Next year I will continue to knit, of course. Knitting has really become part of my identity. I’ll just be doing it purely on my own terms, which is how I like it really.
Anyway, back to the hat. I am half Jamaican so this is totes not cultural appropriation.
Ably modelled by Arya Stark.
I followed a really rubbish pattern in a book of egg cosy patterns I have for some unfathomable reason. I thought about writing it up, but I’m sure Ravelry is already awash with super simple crochet patterns for Innocent hats. This one was great as is only took me about half an hour in total, including getting angry because I was struggling with the pattern.
Pattern: Jamaican me a hat (personal pattern)
Yarn: Ends of Jamieson & Smith 2-ply jumper weight, held double
Crochet hook: 3.5mm I think
Now that I have a room big enough for shelves, I’m free think about handmade storage solutions. One thing in particular that I need is a better way to store my current works-in-progress, and yarn and fabric that I’m thinking of using soon. Currently they’re in a big pile on my shelf, which looks messy and is an inefficient use of space.
I’m super excited to be able to use the yarn my friend Natalia kindly brought me from Scotland. This yarn is super cool, with each ply in a different colour of the rainbow. I’m using a small crochet hook to give a stiff fabric that should hold its shape.
I’m currently at 60 stitches and I’m just going to keep increasing until the circle is the right diameter to fit on my shelf. I think I’ll block the base after that so it’s nice and flat before I make the sides of the basket. I believe that the pattern I’m using is meant to produce a flat circle, but it’s curling up at the edges. This is most likely due to a combination of my basic crochet skills and the unusual yarn/hook size combination I’ve chosen.
Update: Here the base is blocking. I increased until I had 120 stitches around and the basket should fit nicely on my shelf.
I’m also using the Jersey Be Good left over from my Hold Tight clutch bag to make a second basket. I’m using a larger 8mm hook with this super bulky yarn.
I wasn’t entirely happy with this base so I decided to try holding the yarn double. Although this makes it much more difficult to crochet, I prefer the result. Both circles have the same number of stitches so you can see the difference that doubling the yarn makes.
The new technique I learned for this pattern is the awesomely named ‘magic ring’, which allows the centre of a crochet project not to have a hole in the middle. It’s pretty simple but I found a lot of the tutorials confusing to follow. This is the one I liked the best.
Pattern: Neon touch baskets (free pattern)
This week I finally finished making a knitted toy elephant I started working on a while ago with the yarn I had left over from the first pair of socks I ever made. This is as far as I got.
The problem was the ears, which the pattern instructs to crochet. I found this a bit of a stumbling block. In between putting the elephant down and learning to crochet, I managed to lose or throw away the remaining yarn, so I had to improvise. I did a few practice ears trying out weights of yarn.
The one on the right was done with the yarn held double. I then decided that I would prefer green to pink ears. Also I think I have laid the ears backwards in this pic. Oops. I did this project as part of the HPKCHC Headmistress Challenge, which had a garden theme and so I took the finished pictures in my pumpkin patch.