Thursday, May 14, 2015

Blue Socks

Another pair of hand knitted socks to the collection.

This pair was started because I needed something crafty to do on a recent weekend away. I always have to think about where I will be going, how long for, what's the reason I am going, etc etc to know what to take with me to do. If I know I am going some place where the lighting is good, I can take stitching. But if I am not sure about the lighting, then knitting is always a good choice.  Depending where I am going and for how long, I have been known to take lighting with me.

My original plan was to knit a very plain pair of socks, that way I wouldn't have to think. To begin with it was just a rib, then plain stocking stitch. As it was only a weekend away, the harder thinking of the heel would happen when I came home.

When I did come home, I found this pattern from Knit Picks and it was free.  I am always a bit wary of free patterns, I tend to think they have a problem somewhere, but hey, I am clever & could overcome any problem. So I pulled my started plain sock undone, and started on this pattern.

Mmmmmm.......... my instinct about free patterns is correct. It wasn't that there was mistakes, it was just hard to read and I feel it could have been written clearer. The fact that I left the pattern digital, and worked from my tablet may have something to do with it too, swiping back and forth to read the pattern wasn't fun.

There were a few other issues along the way, some pattern related, some needle related, some yarn related, but in the end I got there. They are made from a 4ply pure wool, and I didn't quite have enough for my socks, so hence the toes are a slight different colour. But who will notice? They will be hidden inside my boots keeping my toes warm.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Baby Accessories

This is some quick knitting I have done for a new little baby girl.

The yarn is Shepherd Baby Wool Merino 4ply. The pattern for the booties and mittens came from an old book in my library called "Payton's Babytime", while the pattern for the hat is one I made up by myself.

In the pattern book the hat was a bonnet, and I am not sure that babies seem to wear bonnets any more, the fashion seems to be little hats or those horrid elastic head bands with flowers. To me, little hats are much more practical and comfortable for tiny newborns.

So what did I do to arrive at this little hat? I had a collection of baby hat patterns that I had found on the net, and I searched through them until I found one in 4 ply. Most of them were in 8 ply believe it or not! Who knits things for little babies in 8 ply? Anyway, once I found a basic pattern, I adjusted the stitches slightly to accommodate the pattern. It was only a change of a few stitches larger which wasn't a big deal, better to be too big than too small. From there I followed the pattern in my book to arrive at the pretty picot edge and rows of patterning. Then I jumped back to the basic hat pattern for the height and shaping at the top. The shaping was off at the beginning by a few stitches, but cannot be noticed in the finished article.

This cute little set is now with it's new owner.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

A Baby Mobile

A cute little baby mobile that I made for my new great niece.

The inspiration for this mobile started two years ago when another of my great nieces was born. I had made her this baby shawl, and when visiting, asked her mother if she needed anything else. The answer came back "a mobile". My niece had been trying to make one, but with a new baby she was having difficulty. So the conversation started about colours, and what she wanted on the mobile...... ........owls. I possibly would have done something different, but owls were, and still are,  very poplar.

I needed inspiration, so hunted around on the net for owl pics. Of course there were heaps, I just had to pick one. Once I chose a pic, I had to work out fabrics and how it was actually going to be constructed, etc etc. I had fabrics of course, that was no drama, and working out the pattern for the construction of the owls was no big deal. The eye area and the chest pieces were to be appliquéd, but what about those half moon eyes, the beak, and the feet? They were all so tiny! I thought about using  felt but how to apply? Glue is messy and I thought they would be too fiddly to hand stitch on. Then one day I had a brain wave that I could use my digitizing program and machine embroider them!

Digitizing is a whole different world, and these little eyes and beaks needed to be an exact size and spacing. It took me two attempts, the first one being slightly too big and slightly too far apart, but I eventually got there. Scanning my pattern and placing it as a backdrop in  my digitizing program  certainly helped. Thank goodness for testing first! I also digitized the eyes and beak in two different colours. This would stop the machine so I could put whatever colour I wanted in the needle.

So once I had the eyes and beak sorted, I could make a start. The owls were going to be double sided and slightly padded, six hanging, so that made 12 owls total. I wanted them all the same, but all different, if that makes sense. So they were all the same shape , size and design, I just changed the colours around and put different designs on their chests.

The designs on the chest were just fancy machine stitches, stitches I very rarely use. I started playing to see what effects I could get if I mirrored or flipped the patterns. Yes, my sewing machine has this wonderful feature available. At first I had picked out sewing threads and machine embroidery threads in plain colours to match the fabrics, but then I dug out a variegated machine embroidery thread that I had dismissed previously and tried it on a sample. Why didn't I use this before? It looked so good!

One of the fabrics had a small pattern of circles on it. I had to be careful which machine stitch to use on it so that it enhanced the circles, not conflict with them. So I chose an eyelet that I found in amongst all the buttonholes. I think it worked well on the printed fabric.

Once the chest pieces were decorated, I could appliqué them to the background, appliqué the eye sections, then stitch out the eyes and beaks. At this stage they were still on squares of fabrics and they were screaming to be made into a quilt, but this was not the end purpose, so I soldiered on.

The owls were then carefully placed back to back with padding in between, so everything matched, then carefully stitched around the owl outline, and cut to shape.  It was at this stage that I placed the feet . I had agonized over these feet the same as the eyes and beak. Once again  I had thought of felt, but as the feet were hanging, I thought the felt may pull out, it was very tiny. So another brain wave said digitize! This time it was the feet outline, in a small stitch length, stitched onto two layers of fabric vlysafixed together. I felt that this would be stronger than felt. Once digitized, stitched and cut out, they were stitched onto the base of the owl, then satin stitched in place as I satin stitched the edges of the owls. Finito!

Well not quite. Once again I had agonized over how to hang them. My initial thought was dowel, painted to match, with tiny holes drilled to tie the owls to the dowel with fishing line. I wanted them to turn and swing, another problem to solve. DH to the rescue with his  fishing and hardware knowledge. 

I had found an old lampshade ring in my stash, so ended up padding it and covering it with matching fabric, This saved drilling holes in tiny pieces of dowel and messy painting. My part done, the rest was up to DH who supplied fishing swivels to let the owls spin, fishing line to hang, and the knowledge of how to tie knots so they didn't come undone.

This is a one of a kind mobile which is now entertaining is new owner. Would I make another one? Maybe, but it would have to be different. At least I now know about the uses of fishing swivels.