21 April 2014

crazy randomness part 2

I wrote on a previous post about a collaboration with Ali from Random Wooliness. We decided to work on a joint project, pick a theme then work independently on a piece and reveal our results at Easter. The theme was "Spring", and we looked to the poem - "It's Spring" by John Foster for inspiration.......
It's Spring

It's spring
And the garden is changing its clothes,
Putting away
Its dark winter suits,
Its dull scarves
And drab brown overcoats. 

Now, it wraps itself in green shoots,
Slips on blouses
Sleeved with pink and white blossom,
Pulls on skirts of daffodil and primrose,
Snowdrop socks and purple crocus shoes,
Then dances in the sunlight.

John Foster 

Just to give us a bit of a challenge we decided to include something recycled (or from a charity shop) and also use a new technique in our final piece.
Well I've finished mine, here it is dancing in the sunlight...............


I decided to develop a previous idea where I had sewed yarn using water soluble fabric to make a bowl (to see previous post click here).
Instead of using yarn, I used the loopy threads which are produced when an overlocker does not sew onto fabric. This was my new technique. I was given the overlocker a while ago, but me and it are still getting acquainted....it takes me about an hour to thread it!.
I used the colours mentioned in the poem - green, pink, white, yellow and purple.
As well as the thread string from the overlocker, I added snippets of coloured silk, organza and chiffon, all recycled from previous projects, including embroidery and nuno felting.
This joint project was great fun, I cant wait to see what the other Ali has come up with.

Hope you are all having a nice Easter. Till next time, Ali.

13 April 2014

blossom easter tree

Thought I would share my blossom tree idea, which could be decorated and used for an Easter decoration.

It only requires minimal sewing, or if you prefer no sewing at all, as you can use a glue gun instead. The blossoms are simply fabric pompoms and I got to use my new gadget by Knitpro for the first time. 

If you are unsure about making pompoms have a look on youtube for a tutorial.
A pompom making gadget can be used or alternatively circles of card. For a tutorial using cardboard circles click here


fine pink fabric for blossoms (I used polyester chiffon, but an light fabric will do   even dress lining)
green fabric for leaves (I used organza)
baking parchment
pompom making gadget or card
green embroidery floss
sewing thread and needle or glue gun
easter decorations (optional)


My plastic circle was 3.5cms/1.5ins at the widest point.
Cut strips of the pink fabric, approximately 2cms/0.75ins wide. This is easier if you fold the fabric in a concertina way before cutting.

Wrap the fabric as you would for an ordinary yarn pompom, twisting the strips, making them thinner as you wind round the circle. 

Cut the fabric strips by inserting the scissors between the plastic or card circles, to form the pompom

The pompom is tied twice. Insert the green embroidery floss between the two circles. Tie the pompom round the middle, pulling very tight before knotting. The ends of the floss form the stamens of the blossom. Cut a longer piece and tie again. Knot at the opposite side this time and these longer ends will be used later to tie the blossom to the twig.

Remove the card or plastic rings and trim pompom cutting off any stray ends of fabric. Push into shape.
Separate the threads of the floss for the stamens and fluff threads up a bit.
Tie blossoms to twig with the longer floss ends.

Bondaweb two pieces of organza together, not forgetting to sandwich the fabric between two pieces of baking parchment before ironing.

Fold fabric in half and cut out in a leaf shape. make sure the base of the leaf is approximately 3cms/1.25ins wide or wide enough to wrap round twig.

To attach leaf to twig, wrap the base of the leaf around the twig and sew a few stitches through the two leaf layers to hold in place. Alternatively use a glue gun to hold the base of the leaf in place.

Place twigs in a vase.
Display as a floral arrangement or add a few Easter decorations to make into an Easter tree.

Have a great week, Ali.

31 March 2014

tips for double pointed needles

I have only been knitting in the round with DPNs for a few years now. I shied away from this type of knitting for a long time, as it was all toooo scary, but now I love it and it has become like second nature. It can feel a bit awkward and fiddly to start off, but with practise it does become easier.
The advantage of using DPNs is there are no bulky seams and less sewing at the assembly stage. A stockinette is produced, no need to knit and purl as it is all knit. This method is also necessary for small tubes, such as socks, gloves, the crown of hats etc. when circulars will not do.

What type of needles
I prefer carbon fibre needles as I am a very tight knitter and with these needles the stitches glide easily. However for beginners, bamboo or wooden DPNs are probably better as stitches wont slip off the end. Needles come in sets of four or five. I tend to use just the four needles and have the fifth as a spare.
Charity shops can be good to find needles, but take you needle gauge with you.

Casting on
Cast on all stitches onto one needle......

then transfer the stitches, redistributing them evenly among two of the other needles. Transfer them by slipping stitches purlwise. Firstly, slip a third of the stitches onto one of the free needles.

Then slip a further third onto another of the needles, leaving one free (working needle).

Keep stitches in the middle of needles to avoid them slipping off the end when they are not being worked.

Place work flat on the table, making sure stitches are not twisted and all of the "bumps" of the cast on stitches are facing inwards. The needles form an open triangle which needs to be joined.

Joining in the round
Knit the first stitch on needle 1 (the first cast on stitch) with needle 3 - the triangle is now joined.

Now start using needle 4 (working needle), knitting the remainder of the stitches on needle 1, as you would with straight knitting. The needle which once held the stitches is now free and can be used to knit the stitches on needle 2. Repeat this for the stitches on needle 3. The first round is complete.

The first row is quite tricky so work slowly.
Slide stitches to the centre of the needle when not in use, then slide them to the end when it is time for them to be knit.

Stitch markers
No need to buy fancy stitch markers, which inevitable end up down the back of the sofa. For a cheap alternative, just use scraps of yarn in a contrasting colour than the project. Cut a piece of yarn about 6 inches (15cms) long and make a slip knot, like the first stitch of casting on. Then trim the ends. I always insert the marker between the last stitch and the one before the last stitch, so I know that the round is completed. If you prefer not to use a marker, you can keep an eye on the cast on yarn end, as his indicates the end/beginning of a round.


Between needles
Work stitches tight at the beginning and end of needles, pulling the yarn tight to minimise the gap between needles. If this is not done there will be a noticeable vertical line, also known as laddering. Alternatively randomly move a couple of stitches back and forward at the end of the needles as you knit.

Hope this helps a bit and maybe encourage you to have a go with double pointed needles. My Chick and Nest pattern and also my Bunny Crème Egg Cosy pattern are knitted with DPNs and there is still time to knit before Easter.

 Bye for now, Ali.

  www.deramores.com/blog-awards: This blog entry is my submission to the Deramores Blog Awards 2014. Deramores is the UK’s number one online retailer of knitting and crochet supplies.

25 March 2014

barnardo's barney jumpers

Thanks to Helen who writes the blog Midget Gem Quilts I discovered that Barnardos (Northern Ireland) are looking for knitters to knit jumpers for their Barney Bear. The Barneys with jumpers are to be raffled later in the year as a fundraising event.
So I spent the weekend knitting up jumpers. I was able to have another go at Jeny Staiman's Surprisingly Stretch Bind Off. To see the video of this cast off click here. It is a very clever cast off technique and it is surprisingly stretchy, useful for sock tops, glove ends and in this case neck edges.

The pattern is straightforward enough and is available at local libraries and you can be creative as you want to be to make a unique jumper.

Jumpers have to be finished by the 30th May and again can be left for collection at your local library.
If you need any other information contact Barnardo's Community Fundraiser & Volunteer Manager Karen Kerr telephone 028 9067 2366.
Bye, Ali.

18 March 2014

passion for purple

Yesterday turned out to be a sortoff purple day.....

I started the day off with purple porridge. This is a favourite of mine, porridge sweetened with Ikea's blueberry jam and topped with a few blueberries mmmmh!

Then I headed out wearing my new purple boots, bought in the Christmas sale. These Gola boots are one of Liberty's collaborations and are made with a beautiful burgundy Liberty Art fabric - Petal and Bud.

The day was complete when I knitted a wee bit more of my latest purple scarf. The yarn is a very nice Louisa Harding self striping one - Amitola and the shade is "Berries". The pattern is one I have been wanting to have a go at for a while, it's called "Wingspan" and for more details click here.
Bye for now, Ali.

11 March 2014

crazy randomness

What I love about blogland is the chance to interact with other bloggers and be inspired by their posts. Once such blogger is Ali who writes Random Wooliness. Her projects are always colourful and a bit wacky......have a look at her blog click here
A wee while ago we decided it might be fun to do a joint project, pick a theme and then see what both of us would come up with.  Ali is a great ideas person and she came up with the title "Crazy Randomness". We are hoping to reveal our work at Easter and the theme is "Spring", looking to the poem - "It's Spring" by John Foster for inspiration.......
It's Spring

It's spring
And the garden is changing its clothes,
Putting away
Its dark winter suits,
Its dull scarves
And drab brown overcoats. 

Now, it wraps itself in green shoots,
Slips on blouses
Sleeved with pink and white blossom,
Pulls on skirts of daffodil and primrose,
Snowdrop socks and purple crocus shoes,
Then dances in the sunlight.

John Foster 

Just to give us a bit of a challenge we decided to include something recycled (or from a charity shop) and also a new technique in our final piece.
I've been in the garden today looking for inspiration as the weather has been very spring like.....

Can't wait to see what Ali comes up with! Have a great week everyone, Ali.

3 March 2014

new easter pattern

Just a quick post to say that I have released a new Easter knitting pattern - Babs and Bobby Bunny crème egg cover. I love these crème egg covers, they make great wee Easter gifts and can be used for Easter egg hunts. I have a two other free ones on my blog, but this one is for sale on my etsy shop or on my Ravelry page.

The bunnies are knitted with dpns, except for the tail and ears which are knitted flat on two needles.

It has to be said that no crème eggs were harmed in the making of this pattern ....ok its a fib.......maybe just one or two!

Bye for now, Ali.

28 February 2014

yarn end bowl

This wee bowl is made up of yarn ends from a previous knitting project. It's easy quick and good fun to make. I have mine sitting on my beside table and I'm using it to keep small pieces of jewellery in.


small pieces of yarn or thread
water soluble fabric (heavy weight such as "Romeo") - 2 pieces larger than embroidery hoop
cling film
embroidery hoop
sewing thread
sewing machine

Place one piece of water soluble fabric over one ring of the hoop, Arrange yarn / threads on top. There is a particular type of water soluble called "aquabond"which is sticky on one side and this makes the arrangement of yarn etc much easier. Scraps of organza, fabric and nets could also be used in the arrangement. Make sure the central area is well covered as this will be the base of the bowl.

Then place the second layer of water soluble on top to form a sandwich and place inside hoop, making sure it is taut.

Free machine over all the yarns making sure that stitching is dense enough to cover all of the yarns. Any yarn not caught by stitching will fall off one the water soluble fabric is removed. I used a circular design for free machining. 

Remove work from hoop and then to dissolve rinse under tepid water. Keep rinsing, removing as much of the water soluble as possible.
The stitched yarn ends will be sticky enough to mould into shape. Put cling film over a bowl or glass before moulding the work on top. Rearrange the stray edges as necessary.
 Leave to dry and then remove from bowl.

Till next time, Ali.

22 February 2014

winter woollies

I know I should be writing about the arrival of spring, with photos of pretty spring flowers, but this post is about knitted winter accessories. Unfortunately, it is still cold enough to wear them here! I saw a pattern for Union Jack mitts back in December and thought I'd like to have a go. I knew it was going to be a challenge as the pattern required carrying three floats at the back of the work. I had several false starts as my tension for the floats was too tight. I did eventually finish the mitts, although I'm not particularly happy with the end result. The pattern is by Suzanne Stallard and for details click here. The photo on the right shows the inside of the mitts.

Once I had finished the mitts I wanted to knit a matching scarf. Ravelry is great for sourcing patterns and I saw a nice pattern for a scarf knitted sideways by Barbara Albright click here. The pattern is published in a book which I didn't have, but from the photo it was clear that the scarf was knit lengthwise, using garter stitch. I used a different colour for each row and left a long yarn tail at the beginning and end of the row, which I later knotted to make a fringe.

Both the scarf and the mitts were knitted using Drops Lima, bought in the Textile Studio, Ballyhackamore. A beautiful soft yarn, 65% wool, 35% alpaca, which was lovely to work with.

After trimming the fringe I had lots of end yarn bits and I'll be making them into something, but that's for the next post.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend, Ali

15 February 2014

bellinter house

I was lucky enough to spend a few days down South last week. We stayed at Bellinter house, Navan. It was a home from home - mismatched furniture, a few cobwebs and the odd light bulb needing changing. Sounds as if I'm painting a negative picture but far from it, it was great.  The weather just like home was grim, so a but dark for photos but I thought I would share some of them..........
grand entrance
nice fireplaces in every room
the library
wellies to explore the banks of the Boyne, pity the weather hadn't have
 been better
the drawing room (I snuck into this photo too)
And that was Ballinter house, till next time. It would be a beautiful wedding venue and for the website click here.
Enjoy the rest of the weekend, Ali.

11 February 2014

painted bondaweb heart

I recently heard a talk by the experimental textile artist Kim Thittichai and was most inspired by her work. She explained how to create a surface using pelmet Vilene and painted bondaweb. To see her blog click here.
I thought I would make use of her technique to make my Valentine card this year.

Firstly, I painted pelmet Vilene with Koh-I-Noor dye (I'm very fond of this wee palatte, with its vibrant colours, it is also very easy and convenient to use for small areas).

Then I painted the bondaweb on the "glue" rough side with watery acrylic paint (any water based paint will do). Once the bondaweb is wet, it crinkles in lines in one direction.

To fuse the two together, I made a sandwich - baking parchment on the bottom, pelmet Vilene, then bondaweb with the painted side down and finally baking parchment on the top.
 Once ironed, the paper backing on the bondaweb was removed.

To add a bit of bling, glitter was sprinkled on and foil ironed on with the tip of the iron. Then I ironed the whole piece again, not forgetting the baking parchment.
The end result is an interesting surface which can be cut with scissors and stitched. Painted bondaweb can also be fused onto fabric.

To make the card I sewed the three hearts in a continuous line without cutting the thread between them.Then I machine stitched them onto the actual card.

 I made a fabric envelope using Messy Jesse's  instructions, click here.

Bye for now, Ali.