Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Itty Bitty Hats (FO) (warning: contains images of very small & cute hats)

Yo ho ho me hearties.

As you (both? all?) know I have a healthy stash that I try to keep tamed and somewhat under control. Ahem.

Now and again I get the urge to use up a few scraps of yarn and make some baby hats using my common or garden baby beanie pattern. Sometimes I make the hats for people and babies that I know, and sometimes I make them just for the hell of it. After all, what's not to like about knitting round and round a few times, making an itty bitty stalk and ta-da! a hat appears? 

I kid myself that I'm stash busting when I do this, but really? Each hat probably uses 20g of yarn, so it aint going to make much of a dent. But do I mind?

Not in the slightest.

4 of these dudes have sprung off my needles lately, although I can only find pics of 2 of them. They share a colour palette, and have consumed the last remains of some sock yarn used for other projects, like thesethese and this

I'll be donating these to the folks at the Pregnancy & Parents Centre to help them raise funds. 

Sunday, 15 February 2015

The easiest cowl in the world (tutorial?)

I promised the other day that I had unvented the easiest cowl in the world, And, here it is. 
It seems completely fraudulent to call this a tutorial, since it is so blinkin' easy. 

Are you ready?

Wait. Before I begin with the tute, I should go back to the beginning of the story. A wee while ago, my dear 8 yr old son asked me for a cowl. He wanted it to wind round his head like a ninja, and asked for one in (navy) blue - that's a school colour since this boy is a model pupil and takes school life pretty seriously. Anyways, I thought: simples - I can knit, so I will knit him a cowl. 

And then Christmas came ... and went ... and there was no cowl. There were not even any beginnings of a cowl. I had yarn, and a pattern (probably), but no time or mojo to fit it into my life.

Fortunately for me, the bean has a birthday every year (who knew?) and this happens to be at the end of January. So, I just let the Christmas cowl thing slide, knowing I had another cowl-gifting opportunity racing towards me. 

I was going to nail this thing. Like a boss.

A day or three before the birthday, there was still no sign of a cowl starting. But, I  had a plan. 

When I was pregnant with little bean, I stole a couple of man sweaters from my husband. He discarded them because they had a weeny hole in one elbow, and he couldn't bring himself to wear them in public (wimp). They were great maternity wear - fine merino wool - long enough to cover the bump, warm and generally very comfy. I carried on wearing them after I stopped being pregnant too - and one of them was just starting to go into holes under the arms. 

A light bulb came on, and I just went with it. (Here's the tute: concentrate)

First, I got the sweater onto the slab table. And I started to cut. I cut along two lines: one under the arms, and one above the bottom ribbing

[sorry about the rubbish iphone pictures - I was half way through before I even thought of taking a photo]

Snip, snip went my scissors. 

I was left with a nice tube of stretchy knitted fabric. My plan was then to sew along the cut edges and somehow fold it over and secure it, making a really cosy double layer cowl.

Can you see what is coming next?  Yep. That's right: I didn't DO anything else. I just left it. The edges seemed to be stable enough without stitching (they have rolled), it was nice and stretchy, and I thought the depth of fabric just made it better for ninja poses. 

I styled it on a hanger just to see if it worked. 

[Yeah, navy blue is a total badass to photograph]. A total success, no? 

All I can say is this - I cut off the arms and hem of a man's sweater to make a cowl. And THAT WAS IT. 

It has been worn by the bean, more than a few times. He favours the double wrap. It hasn't fallen apart yet, and I haven't been able to steal it #sadface

Just in case you are wondering: this is a regular fine merino knit (machine washable) from Marks and Sparks. I didn't treat it in any way, e.g. by felting. Job done.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

More or less: overcoming stuffocation

A long time ago, when we first moved into our place, we made a mental list of the things we were going to do to turn it into our sort of place. We have done most of them (taken out the green carpets; strip off the textured wall paper; install new bathroom; put french doors into kitchen; install wooden floors, etc, etc). 

This week we got started on the last project of all - our bedroom. It had a giant and very useful built in wardrobe where we hid a LOT of stuff. But, it took up a lot of floor space in the room, was seriously ugly and just wasn't in the right place.

On Monday some fellas came and dismantled the wardrobe (we could have done it ourselves, but I had nightmares about the full height mirror doors breaking and cutting everyone). They also ripped up the floor, insulated underneath and put down a new floor which is level and draft free. We have moved our bed back in (cos the sofa bed is seriously uncomfy - who knew?) and now have to make a plan about decorating. We have some wallpaper lined up, and know our paint colours, so we 'just' need a bit of time to do it. 

This year's spring clean and sort out has been influenced by this project. The new wardrobe, when it is built, will be smaller than the last one. So I have been doing my best to pare back clothes and 'stuff'. There's been quite a few articles about de-cluttering and stuffocation recently, and this - plus Bea Johnson the zero waste advocate - have inspired me to think about enoughness. How many sets of sheets and pillowcases is enough? How many skirts? How many dresses?

For the sheets and pillowcases, the number appears to be 4. I decided that 4 duvet covers and 4 sets of sheets and pillowcases for our bed would be enough. Taking into account the possibility of spills/accidents, I couldn't imagine we'd ever get through 4 lots without being able to wash some. Amazingly, over 10 years of married life we have acquired quite a lot of linen. Some came from my house, some came from DH's flat, some came from his parents - when they were having a clear out - and we have bought one or two things together. Deep in my heart, I wanted to hang onto a lot of this, for future unspecified sewing/quilting projects. But I have already got quite a lot of stuff set aside for future unspecified sewing/quilting projects, so I let it go. I think there were two large bags of linen and towels that went to the charity shop that day. 

Now that the dust has settled on the empty bedroom, we'll be organising some temporary storage for our clothes. I'm planning to use the enoughness test to help me whittle down my wardrobe. I regularly sift out the odd garment here and there, but my plan is to be a bit more systematic this time. I don't think 4 will be the magic number in relation to clothes, but I wonder what is...?

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Picture less

There are numerous posts waiting to be blogged. Some crafty things have been happening, and there was a birthday (8, EIGHT!!) but there is a technical sort of thing which is just making it difficult to get the words and pictures to appear together. At the same time.

I tried harrumphing, but to no avail. So, I'll just have to go naked. pictureless.  my syllables bare and unadorned,

In other news: my brother is in china, building a machine that makes batteries. It amuses me that he is      swimming against the tide like that - exporting to china - when most things come from China!  He says: it is cold, and never eat anything on the special menu.

It's cold here too, although we have been mostly without snow.

I have unvented the quickest cowl ever. It's super easy, and it takes about 2 minutes. I will post the instructions when I get the darn blog to work straight.

Friday, 16 January 2015

I'm giving it 24 hours

Here's the thing: yesterday my voice started making its way down towards the bass clef. I fad some phone calls to make, and it was mildly alarming when each 'hello' was deeper and huskier than the last! I coughed a bit, and needed a hanky and soon realised I had a cold.

It's unfortunate because my weekends involve lots of work and preparation for Mondays. It's going to be happening for the next 11 weeks too, so I have already said goodbye to my weekend evenings  for the next while. I need to function over the weekend, so that I can function on Mondays. I'm giving this pesky cold 24 hours to vacate my premises. I will be throwing everything at it: gallons of tea and other hot drinks; drugs; soothing baths  and anything else I can think of.

Some restorative and mindless knitting might also be on the agenda...

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Jolly Holly (FO)

December was a super crazy work month, so I had barely time to breathe let alone craft or blog. But, because I work part-time and have one day a week at home with children, there was at least a few minutes here and there to make some little things with them. 

Inspired by something I saw somewhere (the exact source escapes me now) we made a couple of Jolly Holly brooches to give as teacher gifts.

I used a cookie cutter for the basic shape, then cut it out in two colours of felt, one slightly larger than the other. We sewed along the midline with some embroidery thread, and then added a red button or bell for the berry. 

My 7 yr old managed the sewing himself, but my 5 yr old found it a bit hard, so I had to help. 

I sewed on the bell/button and attached a safety pin to the back, but a more confident child sewer might be able to do that herself. 

We pinned the finished brooches on cards so that they doubled as Christmas cards. Simple and sweet!

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Stash Busting New Year Styley (FO)

The New Year arrived at our house along with the spring cleaning and sorting bug. Over the weekend there was a flurry of cleaning, sorting, recycling and general tidying up. 

Several cupboards and bed bases were sorted and organised, and two or three bags of stuff left the house never to return. My daughter's bed base is the home to part (ahem) of my fabric stash. Because I have been making a few things here and there, I thought I might be able to fit another chunk of the stash in there too, and I did my best to make that happen. 

I failed. 

I have quite a lot of nearly worn-out clothes which I have put aside for upcycling into something else. This included a pair of pyjamas of mine in a nice red/grey check with a sparkly. As everyone else in the family was happily occupied, I took the opportunity to upcycle these pjs into something useful.

First I cut the trousers and top into useable pieces of fabric that were roughly square or rectangular. I left hem finishes where appropriate.

Then after a quick iron, I set about making a set of fabric gift bags to add the pile we use for Christmas and birthdays. I have been making these bags for a couple of years now, inspired by Soule Mama. They make wrapping gifts pretty quick - no hunting for paper or tape or scissors - and make tidying up a breeze too: fold up and put back in the box. Easy! 

Wherever possible I used existing hem/edge finishes for the opening of the bags, and I worked with existing seams too, to minimise my sewing effort. I have learned not to make the bags too small, so aimed for something that is at least big enough to fit a novel. I ended up with 7 bags of various sizes.

It didn't make much of a difference to the fabric stash under my daughters bed, but it's a start. One thing dealt with. And, as we didn't have enough fabric bags for all of our Christmas wrapping, it'll be a good addition to that stash...