Stalling on baby booties

These baby booties took way longer to knit up than I wanted.  While it was exciting to return to a baby project and something I’d never tried before, a couple of things ended up stalling me, the booties and my blog.

In the ether, I’d heard of sock knitting two at a time. Without any pattern browsing, I thought to myself this must be done by knitting both socks onto one needle, doing the same row on the second sock immediately after doing the first.  The thought of getting two booties finished at the same time really appealed.  So I set off casting on both of them onto the one needle.  Hmm, I hadn’t thought of the fact that you would need two balls of the same wool.

Well the two skeins of wool I had looked the sameish enough.  However side by side on the needle, I started to see slight differences.  I imagined that the finished booties would not even look like a pair.

So I cast back onto 1 needle per booty, and proceeded to knit one at a time.

I found the process so tiresome and drawn out that it was taking me over three months to finish!  In the meantime I had lost a great chunk of data on the computer (including pictures for this post) and details of the charity that had required the booties.  Needless to say I was getting a little grumpy.

Luckily, it was an easy pattern (always the easiest patterns please!) with decreases in the centre.  I’d never knitted anything shaped before so found it nicely intriguing.

Sew them up along one side

and the shape becomes this cute little foot.

Trim with some ribbon and a cuff and bob’s your uncle.

On finishing all two pairs, I couldn’t tell the difference between the skeins of wool used.  So I could have done a pair on one needle after all!  Still growling.

All this frustration was getting me itching to do another project for a change of scenery, even just some more stash buster squares!  But I couldn’t get this going either, knowing that I had that other stalled thing lurking between the cushions.  Remember this?

Ahh I am in purgatory for not completing well.  I am scared to start something new.   I must have graduated to true yarnaholic with unfinished items scattered around the place.  Yes, perhaps it’s something to be proud of. 

Grannies, babies and a frog

This month I’ve had fun making granny squares for blankets and my first baby items.

I had a vague granny structure floating around in my head.  It wasn’t much of a pattern but I knew the principles.  I don’t think I’ve ever made the same granny square twice - it is rather a fluid concept for me.

I wanted my next square to show some variation, so I quickly glanced at a pattern.

I didn't use the pattern directly, I just improvised.  What I wanted was the little flower shape in the centre.    

Alas I was beaten once again when the flower shape disappeared somewhat with the next rounds.   

Next time I do squares, I am going to follow a pattern rigorously to see the difference!

I'm also learning about tension and the way I crochet: it isn’t always even. 

And it seems my tension is tight on average (but depending on the yarn I’m sure).  So when my improvised squares did not lay perfectly flat it was time to remedy with some blocking.

Luckily I had my blocking board from snowflaking  (I do miss making snowflakes and now they are even more alluring) so this was easy.   My blocking board is just a small cork noticeboard from the stationery shop, with the plastic packaging left on.  Simply use rust-resistant pins to hold the square in the shape desired and lightly spray with water.  It’s so satisfying that working with yarn provides this flexibility.

It would have been better if my pattern and tension were all on track from the word go.  I was able to only just save these squares, thanks to blocking.

The popularity of the granny square will never die out.  It is simple, looks great and best of all, enjoyable to make.  The other bonus is that there are countless variations to try.  I feel I will always be loyal to the iconic granny square.

Time to try my hand at something new so I had a go at a baby set for a women’s refuge.  This pattern used shell stitch which was a newey for me – easy and fun not unlike rounds of a granny.

And how good is it that babies are tiny, which makes garments a breeze to finish!  I quite liked the little angel look

but I also wanted to crack the whole pattern with the sleeves so kept going.

There was also a matching hat.

Seeing the little outfit brought much delight, and the cute factor was a bonus treat I didn’t anticipate.  I’d enjoyed it so much that I started to make a second one in variegated pink and white.

However, as I progressed,   I found that I had not counted my stitches and so the sleeves could not fit in properly.  I thought about a remedy with edging but I don’t think that was a good idea.
On top of all this, as I was crocheting I was often frowning, thinking the variegated yarn didn’t look that good with the shell stitch pattern. 

The solution I chose was to frog the whole thing – it sounds so uneventful but actually I had never done this before.

As I wound the last of it, I became a kid sucking up a delicious strand of spaghetti.  All my problems vanished, just like that.

And I would have this nice variegated yarn for another day. 

Mixing Colours

Colour isn’t something I think about too much, my priority is to work through my stash the best I can.   It is made up of donations and charity packs that I pick up whenever they’re available, so I don’t have much say in the colour choices.
We saw my getting into colour darning last time

 And I did once purchase a pack of cottons only for their colour appeal

I dived straight in to making some squares, curious about how random combinations would turn out.  I do have a taste for eclectic and bright colours all mixing together.  This lovely sample from Le Monde de Sucrette

So this is how some of my squarish squares came together

Another basic which I’d never really ventured into till now was variegated yarn.  This is what I had in my stash

I set out to make some blanket squares, this yarn being especially soft.  What a pleasant surprise it was to see the colours all weaving themselves together!

And I was even more delighted by the way I kept getting different squares.  I can’t tell you how much fun this was!

So I am definitely a new convert to variegated yarn.   Here are some gloves from Etsy – I had bought them because I liked the colours, without having given much thought to the fact that they were simply made with a nice variegated colour combination.

OK in the meantime I made 2 new crochet hat patterns in Indigenous colours – so beautifully bold.  A chunky dc rib crochet beanie.  

It was interesting improvising the mix and match colour edging.   

The pattern (single colour only) can be found on Ravelry here (US terms).  

I also made a summer slouchy beanie with plenty of ‘holes’ which is great for the warmer weather, the pattern here.

So I’ve had adventures with cotton colours, variegated yarn and a couple of new patterns.  Here is a little indulgence from a brill ethical shop, Darn Good Yarn:  recycled silk, handwoven hemp, and newspaper yarn.  The possibilities await.... 

Winter Work

As most know, winter is a time to get cosy and right into all your woolly yarn.  During winter I feel really driven just by wanting to be warm.  While we ourselves rush inside to turn the heater on, it’s unbearable to imagine how people in need must be feeling.  What a good way to get motivated!

First, I had to do some urgent darning before all that winter wool and leather wore our holes even bigger. 

I learnt that it’s better to match the thread ply to the fabric.  I had fun with colours but this darn turned out a bit too heavy.

I also fixed a hole in a padded silk jacket in boro / kantha style, hand-sewing running stitch over the patch.  It worked well over this type of tear, which had gone beyond the seam, was fraying the fabric and exposing the innards. 

I only learned this from lovingly examining some pieces from India and my pinterest collecting.

For my charity work, there was a call for blanket squares and winter wear for men.  My first charity square was over year ago, and had taken months of slow beginner knitting, re-teaching my fingers what they had to do.

When I had finished that one, I had planned to make my next square a diagonal.  But somehow, other techniques had led me to distraction and I didn’t quite get to doing it till now.  So it was good to finally take this on and understand increase and decrease, and see how something so beautifully simple can create a whole new pattern. 

I finished it off with some crochet edging which made a pleasing result; decorative but keeping within the men’s blanket brief.

I made two beanies for my charity, one crochet and one knit.  Both were patterns I’d never done before.

It was nice to return to the lovely yarn I’d used on my first solid square.  This beanie is worked in the round, not unlike the beret, but with tighter decreases.  When I started off, I didn’t really believe how it would form the right shape when finished.

The knit beanie was with two strands of yarn together, which was handy for making fast work.  

It was fun seeing how the unpredictable colours would turn out, and I blended in a bright and dark blue with the black to add some variation, without exactly creating stripes.

 It is a rectangle with decreases to shape the crown, and a sewn seam.

It was interesting threading through the top stitches and pulling it tight to create the top closing.

New skills all the time
One of the reasons this hobby is so enjoyable is because you get to learn so many different things.  I wonder if one day I’ll be able to churn out ten beanies in a day (I kid you not, I am sure many people in my charity thrive on this kind of production rate!)  So I knocked out my first pair of knitted fingerless gloves, which were very satisfying, in that they didn’t take too long, they are practical and compact.  (I will have to save scarves for when I graduate to the next level – notice I have not made one since the first time).

The experience of making the vest has got me curious and confident enough to advance into new territory.  I am trying out knitting a child’s jumper in the round.

This will be for Wool-Aid, who are based overseas, which means that I can delight in using a 10-12 ply yarn during our winter while they slow down for their summer.  And the fact that they always use pure wool increases the pleasure for both maker and receiver.  I do feel a little nervous about doing the neckline and arms, we will see how they turn out in the next post (or 2…. or 3…)

What a blessing to have found charity making.  There can only be winners all round.