Friday, 28 June 2013

Introducing my new favourite knit!

Let me introduce you to King Cole pattern number 3491.  My first pattern with lace and using cotton and my third ever garment.

                                   
    
I had been eyeing it up for a while but refused to pick up another project until I had used my stash.  This was a terrible idea because I just fell out with knitting, therefore I went and purchased the pattern, some lovely pink yarn and cast on straight away.  It grew pretty quickly and before I knew it I was making the increases.

Here is where I met my first obstacle.  I had never worked with cotton before and found it quite slippy, I worked my increases how I have before but they just looked holey and quite frankly awful so I ripped it back!  I experimented with yarn overs, make ones but eventually settled with making stitches using the cable cast on method, it worked so I stuck with it.

Then I came to the pattern at the top.  To make the bobble the pattern says you are to P3Tog then K1P1K1 all in the next single stitch.  I thought this sounded like it would be easier if I reversed it to K3Tog then P1K1P1... It wasn't and I kept pushing my stitches off the needle when trying to K3Tog.  So it got ripped again and followed as the pattern states.

                    

My next problem was decreasing for the neckline but continuing the pattern, in the end (and with a little advice) I followed the decreases as they are most important and then the pattern fitted around them if it could.  I did make an error in the back and couldn't for the life of me find it so I carried on with it, it has been pointed out to me since but it is so minor I really don't care at all, plus it is on the back so I don't have to look at it.

I cast on the front and got this done an awful lot quicker than the back, that tends to be the way with me, the second half is more exciting because it is the last half.  I worked with the remainder of the ball I had from the front which in hindsight I wish I hadn't.  Somehow I lost a stitch when I introduced the new yarn, I think due to the slipperiness.  I did recover it but something went awry somewhere.  Then when I sewed the ends in it snagged and I have a little imperfection in the front.  I have stitched in some fake stitches to cover the error but I still know it is there which is a little disappointing.

                                  

Shortly after starting the back I read a Facebook status from A Stash Addict about how twisting the stitch made from a yarn over closes the hole.  It does and my increases were so much neater this time!
   
Once the front was finished which I have to admit I found a lot easier than the back it was time to pick up to stitch the neckline and armbands and then sew up.  This was all entirely disaster free and completely painless and I have to admit I adore the finished article.

                     
 
I wore this lovely top to work today with a longer vest underneath.  As I walked to pop some post in an office I was stopped to be told how lovely it was.  I was over the moon, I announced excitedly "I made it!" and then a long conversation about knitting ensued.  Such a big compliment.  Nothing quite like wearing handmade clothes that people envy.  It was also pointed out that the bobbles look like raspberries, they really do, just lovely.

I would highly recommend this pattern to anybody looking for a simple but slightly challenging knit, it provided me with many opportunities to try to fix things and learn about knitting with cotton and a lace pattern.  It combines simple stocking stitch with a more detailed lace stitch.  I am acutely aware there are much more complicated lace patterns but for a first attempt this is a nice achievable target.  The pattern on the other side of the leaflet is quite nice so watch this space as there may be another one in the making.

Happy Stitching. X

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Peter Cushion

Last Saturday I was sat chatting to Eleanor when I spotted a reduced ball of Cygnet Grousemoor Chunky.  The colour was just perfect for my lounge (when it is finished) so I thought I would have it, despite being on a strict no more yarn diet.

I had in mind a little cushion that was in the loft with a cover made of what used to be this top.  This photo is at least 7yrs old now...wow!

                                                

Anyway...this did not go in any room so it was time to revamp it to use again so I got started.

        

I had to look up the gauge for the yarn which was 12 stitches for every 4" on 5-5.5mm needles.  From here I surmised I would need to cast on approximately 40 on 6mm needles.  I probably should have cast on 45 to be honest though.  

Once I had cast on I decided on a cable pattern.  I split the 40 stitches up into 2 blocks of 10 at the edge and a block of 20 in the middle and decided on smaller cable two to the fronts on the edges and a larger cable five to the back in the centre.  Then I knitted until I had almost run out.

It was a bit of a squeeze to fit the cushion in, the cover is pulled quite tight however I quite like this effect...more than I thought I would...because it pulls out the cables and makes the cushion feel very sturdy.

And here it is.

      

I put my scissors in to give some perspective as one ball certainly wouldn't make a big cushion.

As for the name, a colleague suggested I name my cushion Peter after the actor Peter Cushing so I did.
 
        

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Bath fizzies!

It's probably a well known fact by now that I love a relaxing soak in the tub.  Probably not so widely known that I did an aromatherapy course a couple of years ago and LOVED it!  I learnt a lot but I won't bang on about it too much.  Just after the course I was sent a recipe to make bath fizzies, lovely little blocks of smelly, fizzy delightfulness.  Here is the recipe for you to try. Very easy and they make great, cheap and exciting homemade gifts. 

The recipe calls for citric acid which can only be purchased from chemists in small amounts due to the fact it is used to bulk up illegal drugs, just a warning incase you plan on buying more than one box, don't want you being looked at like a dodgy drug dealer when in actual fact you are making smelly bath fizzies.  As for the essential oils, be sure to choose a smell you like, this can be absolutely anything and most essential oils can be picked up cheaply and easily, my fave combo is lavender, geranium and bergamot.  If you are suffering any ill health or are pregnant then please be careful or just don't make these as essential oils can have a surprising effect.  Maybe some cosmetic grade fragrances would be a better idea.

Scented Bath fizzies

Makes around 25
Takes 30 mins (plus 36-60 hours drying time)

100g cornflour
300g bicarbonate of soda
200g citric acid (available from chemists)
Essential oil
Small spray bottle
Food colouring (optional)
Ice cube tray
Old jam jar with screw lid

1. Sieve the cornflower and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl, add the citric acid and mix with a stainless steel spoon.  Add the essential oil, one drop at a time until you are happy with the mixtures smell.  Keep stirring the mixture as you add the oil.

2. Fill the spray bottle with water and if you want coloured bath fizzies add a few drops of food colouring to it.  Spritz the mixture lightly with the water, stirring after each spritz until damp.  Squeeze a little of the mixture into your hand and if it holds together, it’s ready for use.  If not, spritz and stir again until the mixture bonds together.  If it starts fizzing, it means you have added too much water and will have to start again.

3. Spoon the mixture into an ice-cube tray and leave at room temperature overnight.  Pop the cubes out of the tray and leave a further 24 – 48 hours to harden at room temperature, then transfer to a clean jam jar.

4. Cover the jars lid with a piece of pretty paper just bigger than the lid and glue in place on the underside.  Screw on the lid and attach a label with the following instructions:
‘add two tablets to your bath water and watch them fizz!’

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