The proposal for what started out as a baby accessory set, but was finally published as the Tiny Teddy Hat in Knit Now #48, and modelled on possibly the most grumpy baby ever! He just knows he’s being humiliated… This is so cute, and so ridiculously easy to make, it could even be used to teach a beginner how to knit.
Well! Time for my annual post!
And the big news is (1) I’m a qualified teacher – but no job yet because (2) I’ve moved back to Ireland; and (3) I’m re-branding myself as Thorn Maiden Designs, (4) have opened an Etsy shop, and (5) I have finally got a pattern for sale!!! I’ve also (6) begun self-publishing via Kindle Direct Publishing, but only have a couple of test patterns up atm.
The pattern is Santeenie, ab0ve. It’s a fully-featured snowsuit, also known as a onesie or all-in-one, for a 19″ reborn doll. It is constructed as one piece, except for the hood trim which is picked up, with raglan/saddled shoulders. It has the proper babywear pleating and buttoning down the legs, the little pouchy back for the nappy, attached scratch-mitts (which look HUGE, just as they should), and a long hood featuring icord embellished with a pompom. There’s a smidge of intarsia in creating a buckle on the ‘boots’, which are created as toe-up socks with a short-row heel.
I hope to resize it for real babies in time for next Christmas, and I have a range of other outfits planned.
Heck, I’m doing a tension square right now for my next pattern!
It’s gotta be. Nearly 5 months since my last post, and let me tell you I have not been idle.
The first report is of the Bob The Builder jumper, last seen almost two years ago. Hallelujah, it’s done. Good job I was making a big size – he’s still got room to grow into it! Forgive the look of misery on his face – I was committing the cardinal sin of interrupting his viewing of Ben 10…
So what else? Ah Christmas. Scarves and smoke ring kind of things, mittens that I stupidly didn’t photograph before they were handed over. Ah well. We went to Ireland for two weeks over Easter, giving Tiny Husband’s HR person heart failure at taking so much time off so early in the financial year. Several gauge-swatch bunnies, Ava’s pink hoodie and Adam’s Trellis cardi were finally given to their intended victims – or not in the latter case, as it was not originally intended for Adam… I’m just too much of a flibbertygibbet with crafts. But I suppose it makes up for being so staid and dull everywhere else.
The Mighty Offspring also benefitted from a Fat Controller hat. This is the top hat worn by Sir Topham Hatt, the eponymous director of trains on Sodor Island and Thomas the Tank Engine’s boss. I made this by laying out cash money – yes! coin of the realm! – for Dark Twist’s Miniature Top Hat pattern, then promptly ignoring most of it. I used Rowan Big Wool rather than a worsted, because, well, I didn’t really want a miniature, just a little’un for a little’un. I think there was some mad nonsense about felting it by boiling it, then plunging it into freezing cold water too, but I am here to tell you – do not waste your time on this pish. Throwing it in the washing machine on a boil wash cycle with a pair of jeans that have got a bit saggy in the arse is yer only man. All I got for that boiling and freezing nonsense is frizzy hair and chilblains, and the Offspring hiding in a corner with his fingers in his ears until Daddy came home. In a way, I’m sorry I didn’t just leave it the size it was, because he looks so cute in it, an Artful Dodger – which fits his personality a lot better these days. The remaining yarn was made into a pair of felted slippers, which spend too much time on the run to be snapped on camera!
Two more pairs of socks, one a green and beige on-the-fly Fair Isle (and I must get a pic of these on him), the other a Spidey pair. I’m really becoming quite inured to arachnids, as I also made him a pair of my Mitts-to-Mittens with the Spidey pattern – though Gordon knows where they are now. Probably in his special superhero chest, wherever and whatever that is this week. The Spidey socks were the last pair I made using the 52st pattern, as I’ve noticed they’re a bit baggy even on MO’s feet. The green and beige were made using a 48st version, which is quite snug. At that point I kind of stopped with the socks, partly because he really had enough for now, and partly due to a misunderstanding. I did buy some socks (they were cheap), big enough for his feet which of course meant they came up over his knees. Not too long after, we were having this little chat about socks and shoes, and he told me he didn’t like the socks I made him. Now, I didn’t at first factor in that ‘buy’ and ‘make’ probably mean much the same thing to a highly-verbal three-year-old who nonetheless only has a three-year-old’s understanding of the magical ways in which goods and services appear in his world. He has about ten lyrically-described birthdays a week – doesn’t mean he’s getting cake every day. Turns out he doesn’t like the long socks, only the Mommy socks… I have started again, as I see some of his socks are a bit small now. More of which anon.
I also made him a woolly sweater, Crab Apple, based on Blue Garter’s Twisted Tree Pullover – with the usually mods for not having the right yarn in the right weight, etc., etc. – do I really have to say this? The pic does not do this justice – it is one of the things I am most proud of making – utterly gorgeous, beautiful stitch definition. I dread the day when he’s too big for it. In fact, I’m plotting how I can lengthen the sleeves and such to get a bit more wear out of it…
But the interesting bit is the yarn. I bought it out of the bargain bin at this market stall I go to. I’d seen other yarn like it before – similar weird rolled-up looking balls – but they didn’t appeal. Many of the colours were drab, and they looked like they were the work of a particularly ham-fisted beginning spinner: I’ve done a bit of spinning so I know whereof I speak here – all twisty and lumpy and bumpy, only singles and the fibre looked rank – nasty old ropy cottony looking stuff. However, this one day, there were 2 balls whose colour just demanded to come home with me, a beautiful vivid sap green. And at 69p for 2 balls in the sale, I wasn’t going to fight over it. Sadly, I had to get the brown because there was no more green, and I needed 3 balls in total, though I must say, it came together well in the end.
It was brutal to work with. I imagine knitting Brillo pad fibre would be easier on the hands. I switched from index to middle to ring finger flicking as blisters rose and fell, and even to my shame did the odd row Continental. I went through many times that 69p’s worth of Norwegian hand liniment. My hands turned green – the dye just seemed to brush off the yarn! and every dozen or so stitches I’d have to stop, grab the ball, and dangle the knitting from it to de-tangle it – it was horrifically overspun. Then I began to notice it was FELTING. Well, sort of getting that another-go-at-90deg look about it, at least. Then there was the quantities of hay I had to dig out of it… Finally, when I wet it to block it, it looked like the dye was just going to leave it completely – it absolutely gulched out of it for ages. The odd thing is, the colour wasn’t really affected – there’s a few white flecks that weren’t there before, but otherwise, it’s the same sap green that drew me in the first place.
Then I went to UK Ravelry Day in Coventry a few weeks ago – a grand day out which I will make mention of – but anyhoo, I was tootling around the rain-soaked stalls, mindful of my budget* but determined at least to beard Jamieson & Smith in their, er, stall, and cop a feel of a few fibres that shall remain nameless (dirty, dirty qivuit), when I just ceas’d all motion. I posed myself a few searching questions and ascertained that something had caught my surveillance attention out of my peripheral visual field. There was a little hurried conferring with longterm memory, with visual memory loudly denying all knowledge and blaming everyone else, and then finally reading comprehension and categoric memory kicked in with a few facts that hitherto had not been going to the same parties, all whilst, unbeknownst to the cerebrum, the legs had wafted me towards a stall I had just passed.
And there by the hokey were some balls with the same odd rolled-up shape to them. Same godawful ropy stuff, in glowing colours – multi-coloured in this case, but I was too stunned to hold that against them. Ye see, all that mental conferring and confabulating – putting of straw and blisters together with dye runs and felting, and marrying that to a chance flicker in the corner of my eye on a rainy Saturday in Coventry – had already told me what I would see written on the gracefully hand-painted sign beside them…
But it doesn’t end there… I have poured over Yarndex and online Noro sites, asked questions on fan forums, gone to yarn shops and looked and asked, and I’m no further forward. Noro’s not cornflakes – they don’t make yarn for anyone else, and no one else makes yarn for them. It looks like it might be Maiko 105 colourwise – but Maiko is a new range, and I bought this yarn before Maiko became available! Anyway, Maiko’s also supposed to be plied, not single. I’ve bought more in the interim (yes, even before UK Rav Day!) which has a different structure – 2 plies, evenly spun – but in colours that are closer to Cash Iroha, which is a single (not plied) yarn… So I don’t know what to think – and neither does anyone I’ve asked. It looks like it should be, but it’s not quite right… There’s only a few ‘solid’ Noro ranges, and the colours I’m finding are oh so close – but the weight and the construction is wrong, even for discontinued colours. Quality control reject? Pre-production run that didn’t get past the design stage? Did someone hit the saki too hard at the office party, and do the yarn factory equivalent of photocopying their bum? Or is it something completely different, that just happens to bear certain remarkable similarities? Employees trying to make a bit of extra cash on the side? Industrial espionage? Wool piracy?
Akk. I’m not used to putting in this much detective work and getting nowhere. Answers on a postcard?
* I was rushed to hospital with a suspected heart attack in May! It wasn’t – I have the heart of a GOD – but the health insurance policy gave me some free money for the two-day stay in hospital, which was my UK Rav budget…
Here Comes The Summer –
Woo-ooo, Here Comes The Summer!
Hurrah for The Undertones! Thirty-odd years on, I still find myself singing this one at some point during the sultry hell that is the British Summer – usually while out frying eggs on the pavement.
School closed on Tuesday, after 3 days of end-of-years jollies for the kids, including school trips, the disco, and Sports Day, which was a Gladiators-style challenge between staff and students. I did not join in, partly because I wasn’t asked, and partly because I had serious misgivings about the whole thing. Far too many opportunities for harm, given the nature of the little hoodlums. I did have several offers, mainly from the Yr 10 boys, to take me down. Ummm, boys – you do realise I’m Irish? 8 years military? and the body-building/power-lifting thing I did that 15 years on still has me looking like a drag queen in a frock? Frankly I don’t trust myself to stand there and take it like a good teacher if one of them decided to assault me for real. So I don’t put myself in that situation.
I have plans for the summer – swapping bedrooms with the Offspring, for a start. They are about the same size – his current room is very slightly larger. I did some calculations and figured out our furniture would fit better in his and vice versa, and since ours is further from the living room there’d be less chance of him being disturbed by conversation, tv, etc. I have to paint out the feature wall in our room and put a mural on instead (Thomas the Tank Engine?), then totally repaint his room for us. I’ve arranged to borrow an overhead projector from school for the mural – I just need to sort out printing a suitable image on acetate. Quite looking forward to it, though I’ve no idea how to keep IBC out of the way while I do it!
I wanted to say a few words on the subject of converting flat knitting patterns to knitting in the round. But I think I shall write a knol on the topic. A list of my knols are on the sidebar, just below my pattern(s) – please note, not all are complete!
So, dear reader, to knitting: the Hoodie for IBC is completed. He calls it his ‘special coat’, bless. And two more pairs of socks, one in the Aston Villa colour scheme, the other a simple claret rib with a stocking stitch heel, toe and footbed. The final pair in AVFC colours – a ribbed Fibonacci sequence pattern – are on the needles as we speak. After that, we get onto other colours, woo-hoo!
I have also completed the Presto Chango for my colleague. I made the 6m size because she told me her medicos said the baby would be about 10lb. I did speak briefly of my own experience of expecting a 14lb+ monster – multiple scans, hysterical midwives (my favourite knitting tape measure is the one dropped by the midwife as she ran out of the room shouting for an ambulance*), planned inducing, etc., only to pop a medium-sized 8lb-er, but she was not having any of it, she was having a big un. I held my peace as it was announced in briefing that she had had a 6lb 3oz boy… At least the Presto Chango will fit him – eventually!
I’ve since begun a second Presto Chango for my niece. It’ll be different. I’m doing it more or less in the round, with lace sleeves, and the inserts will obviously be different too. No pics yet.
That’s about it for now
* – Max bump size at full term: 40-42cm. My bump size with 3 weeks to go: 48cm. Cue a fortnight of to-ing and fro-ing to the hospital, observation stays, more flippin’ scans. I went a little crazy, as detailed in my LJ… starting here…
I made a new knitter…
About a fortnight ago, my son, aged 2yrs 8 months, demanding to “do knittings”. I grabbed the camphone, then got out an old pair of needles and my bag of scraps (priorities, m’dears, priorities). He picked the “lello woo” himself because it looked like Josie Jump! He’s still asking for his knittings occasionally, though we’ve moved on to pink wool after an unfortunate potty-related incident with Josie…
So far, I am tackling the light blue and claret shades, which are coming up at a gauge of about 12st / in. The first is the striped pair: just 4-row stripes, one of which is split across the heel. Both colours are held together on the heel and toe. I’m planning to make two more pairs in this colour combination, one of which is almost finished – again stripes, but in the combination AABAA BBABB. These are the strip colours of Aston Villa, a football club here in our fair city of Birmingham. A few years ago, The Villa were going through a reversal of fortunes – good or bad I can’t say – and there was a slogan about it – again it may have been coming from disappointed fans or enraged supporters of other teams, I don’t know. The slogan was “Sh*t on The Villa”, from which I named this project “Socks on The Villa”. I’m such a wit.
The second pair is in the light blue only, with a little mock cable running down the sides – k through back of 2nd stitch on left needle, k through front of 1st stitch and 2nd stitch and remove from l needle. The next pair will be in claret, and I’m toying with making them ribbed on the leg.
I have started a little jacket for him as well, purely because I fell in love with the yarn… And it’s variegated!! Quelle horreur! Teddy Colorama Colour Keyed Chunky. Actually, I fell in love with the DK, then noticed the same colourways were available in chunky. It’s a simply beautiful melange of greens, creams and browns, some long runs and some short giving stripes, spots and chevrons. Of course the gauge is all off. The pattern calls for 10st x 13r on 9mm needles, which would be too large for this yarn, which is on the low end of chunky. The ballband recommends 3.75mm needles (15st x 20r) – ridiculously tiny for chunky yarn. I’m getting 14.5st x 20r on 6mm needles. I also decided to Zimmermann it – knitting seamlessly. Except for the pockets which I didn’t stop to understand – they’re attached at the bottom as per pattern (but there’s a BO edge in the body), and at the top as per a sort-of 3-needle bind-off of mine own devising which isn’t BO but instead melds into the body. If I had taken time to understand the pattern I would probably have done some sort of pick-up and bind off to anchor the side of the pocket, and possibly a Fig-8 cast-on onto a dpn at the bottom to knit the whole pocket attached, which would have the added advantage of not interrupting the striping-ness of the yarn. Sadly, it was all on my snazzy new computer which decided to die, so I’m a little stalled until it’s fixed.
Finally, for a colleague who’s going on maternity leave soon, there’s a Presto Chango, one of the cleverest ideas I’ve ever seen for babywear. The body is in blue Robin Bonny Babe Aran, and the insert(s) is (are) a mystery Aranweight cotton found in the Bullring. I just have to knit one more insert, for which I’m checking through my Aran pattern books. She’s expecting a boy, and the pattern’s lace insert looks a bit girly to me… Not that she’s likely to put it on the child – from the sounds of things, the sprog won’t see anything less than Armani. And that’s just the nappies.
I had a clever idea, aka hints n tips, recently. Using i-cord to re-create the effect of Aran barleytwists if you don’t do Aran knitting, or to create your own non-canon shapes and designs. Just make huge quantities of i-cord (a job for a child with a new French Dolly?), lay it out in the shape, then sew to the knitted piece.
Gosh I’m good.
Foot Loose! Fibonacci
Yet another pair of socks for my mightily hoofed offspring. Ye gods I am bored with this sock business. The only thing they have going for them is that they are handy bus projects for my 10-minute commute. But I shall persevere until he has a reasonable supply – by which time he’ll probably need bigger socks – because today, for the first time EVAR, he has been willing, nay, demanding to wear something I’ve made him – yes, these socks. Ripped from my hands as I tried to finish weaving in the ends, which is nice because it’s not my favourite task, with shouts of “Mommy, put a socks on!” Guess they won’t get blocked for a while then. He pootled around the house until bedtime, when he adamantly refused to have them taken off. Half an hour after we put him to bed, I looked in on him. He was sitting on the floor, facing the window, chatting to his socks…
Again based on the Lion Brand pattern but modified for gauge as described previously, these are the Fibonacci socks I mentioned. So what’s Fibonacci when it’s at home? Well, HE discovered a sequence of numbers where each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers, hence 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21, etc. So what? So, most flowers have a ‘Fibonacci’ number of petals. Fibonacci numbers also show up in the shapes of coastlines and clouds and other natural phenomena. Also, if you divide each number by the previous number, you get a result that is very close to the Golden Number/Section/Phi/Divine Proportion (1.618), whereby all sorts of The Weird And The Wonderful… ~Cue Twilight Zone music~. It’s all terribly amazing until you realise that mathematics exists to describe the universe. So it’s not exactly surprising when the universe just happens to conform with the maths, is it?
It is a little sad that this glorious stuff is too complicated to explain to kids who think maths is boring.
I have also – in two days! – completed a Valkyrie helmet for my cousin’s daughter Anna, who is a cute chubby little Brunhilde. It’s based on a Viking Girl Hat I saw on Ravelry. However the thought of forking over $24.50 for a kit had the predictable effect on my bowels, so I reverse-engineered it from the photos. I couldn’t tell for sure if there were horns or wings on it in the photos, but as a Viking re-enactor, I couldn’t in conscience put horns on it so wings they are.
I wanted a smooth, helm-like shape with no obvious decreases. To get this, I phase-shifted the decreases on each round (i.e., starting at the 1st stitch on one dec round, and on the 7th, 5th, 3rd stitch on the alternate dec round). The plaits are i-corded, though I thought about French-knitting them. In the end, though, I had the dpns in my hand, but the bobbins were somewhere in my knitting boxes…
(Modelled by my vintage fully-working Oopsie Daisy, with original outfit, for those interested in such things.)
BS Johnson, socks, and a hoodie
What a boring title.
This afternoon was British Summer Time, so I forced my significant Creature of the Night out of his tenebrous cellar, blinking and meeping, into the lacklustre light to model his Bloody Stupid Johnson hat. But it was worth it: despite his wailing and chittering, and his frequent swinges into the shadows to check for tell-tale signs of ash forming on his pallid skin from the influence of the evil Day Star, the cables showed up well.
As for him – anyone would think I’d asked him to bathe, for sheeshs’ sake. Honestly.
Also forthcoming, more pics of the Ba’s socks. Not a lot to say here – they’re based on Lion Brand’s Child’s Solid Socks pattern (you might have to register to look, though it is a freebie). Not having Woolease within several thousand miles, I’ve been using what I have to hand – DK in the case of the beige ones in the previous post (Robin DK) and the dark brown (Patons Fab) and red (mystery) pairs here, and 2-ply pure wool, double-stranded, for the striped pair. Even in the DK pairs, there have had to be slight alterations as none of the yarns are the same gauge – brown and beige were 24st per 4in, close enough that I could use the pattern sizes given, but the red yarn was 26st/4in, so I had to go up to 44st cast-on.
At this point I unvented a 50-50% rule for turning the heel – half the stitches are used to work the heel, short-rowed down to a quarter overall. It may not be pretty, or anthropometrically accurate, but it works. The blue and yellow striped pair had a gauge of 32st/4in, even with the yarn doubled, and follow this rule. I have a Fibonacci striped pair on the needles right now, blue and yellow in alternating 1,2,3,5, and 8-row paired stripes, with the final 8-row split across the heel in the other colour, then 5,3,2, and 1-row paired stripes down to the toe – though I’ve had to do 4 rows of alternating-stitch colour changes to make the footbed long enough.
That turned out to be more than I thought. I’m planning to make a few more pairs.
I also got round to making His Wee Nibs’ Sirdar Bigga weskit. I’ve called it the Bookem Dano, as it is the Hawaii colourway (groan!). It took almost 2 balls. I hadn’t intended to put buttons on it, but I think I might try a duffle set, with a loop instead of buttonholes. I’ve unplied the remaining yarn and am hoping it will be enough for the Berroco Kap with a bit of fudging. It’s like the hat worn by Grandad Tumble, from the Mr Tumble series on cBeebies, which HWN loves, and I’m hoping he’ll like a Grandad Tumble hat…
One last thing: my niece Ava’s Little Pink Riding Hoodie, from Drops Design, using that weird pink mystery yarn I got in the Bull-ring. Quite a quick knit really, slowed down by my crappity attitude towards the sewing (~shudder~). The first pic shows it right side out, the second inside out, and the third is a close-up of the hairiest part of the sewing (~shudder~) around the armhole. Just to show that, actually, I am not such a crapilicious seamstress* as I fear myself to be. Go on, find a stitch. Yeah, you. See any? Do ya? DO YA? No.
That is not half bad for an awkward seam in a bulky, 6wpi yarn. I kind of mattress-stitched it from the right side, using a nylon-y fibre with cellophane strips which I unplied from the yarn itself. Y’see, I really can sew. I know all the moves. I know lingerie techniques lost before La Revolution. My homies called me Madame St Cyr down le ‘Ood. I used to have a little notebook with beautifully stitched and pinked samples of my needlework. Exquisite, it was. Of course, for every charming little gingham sampliaire in it, there were twenty blood- and tear-stain’d rejects, pin-rusted and spraying pulled threads, lying in a bin somewhere…
Now I just have to screw my courage to the sticking place and line the blasted thing.
* – Having started the post with the Terry Pratchett-inspired hat, I feel I should probably point out that when I say ‘seamstress’, I do mean the female personages wot sew, not the ladies of negotiable affection…
ETA: I have Kool-Aid! w00t!
I should probably post more than once a month…
My dad died a year ago. We were not close, and disagreed about most stuff. I don’t recall him ever calling me by my name, and he certainly didn’t know where I lived – not just that he couldn’t remember my address off the top of his head: he didn’t know what country I was in, let alone what city. He only began to warm up a bit when my son was born, the image of him as a child. There was no broken home or damaged relationship to explain this. He simply wasn’t interested in his daughters. We were the waste product of having real children – sons. My sister lived nearby and was able to force some recognition out of him. In many ways I regarded him as a rather eccentric relative that I didn’t see much. I was fond of him and recognised his good qualities, even though I knew they would never be applied in my direction. He was a good man, loyal to a fault, kind, tolerant and good with children. I wasn’t terribly upset, just shocked when he died. Now mostly I’m angry at him for dying at only 69 and denying my son the chance to get to know him.
Mum is lonely since he’s gone. She has a lot of support in her church, and always had a life apart from him, so she is bearing up well. But she doesn’t have to run around after him any more – checking that he’s taken his pills, has his wallet, isn’t eating junk (he was a diabetic), etc. – and is a bit lost. They spent a lot of time together and they talked about everything under the sun. Except food. Dad could get her to stay off the subject of food for hours – I wish I knew his secret. She was on the phone daily over the anniversary weekend of his death, even though my brothers and sister were there for her. Not to talk about him – she didn’t mention his name once, even when she phoned minutes before the actual time of his death. I can’t have been much comfort, I just let her blather on.
Tiny Husband is in a poor way atm. He fell over in the car park at work a fortnight ago and wrenched every joint in his body and a handful of ribs. He had spectacular bruises from wrist to elbow on both arms but otherwise was okay (!). Then his calf muscle began to hurt. It bruised and swoll up about twice its size. He went to the Haemophilia Unit several times and was sent away because it was clearly a bruise, not a bleed. Finally they gave him Factor, crutches and 3 different painkillers including codeine phosphate, and an appointment for physiotherapy. It looked like it was working, but over the weekend it swoll up again: he spent Sunday at the unit, and had to go back the following morning. They didn’t keep him in then on condition he went home and rested. So he lied to them and went to work anyway.
Today at work, he had Disability Awareness training on blindness – how not to be patronising towards disabled people. Though come to think of it, One is not sure how he can tell people are blind over the phone. The chap had the grace to look embarrassed as he delivered his spiel to the guy on crutches…
It’s been a knackering few weeks. Emotional turmoil, and the bulk of the housework, shopping and childcare to do as well – TH is very useful about the place, deffo no Elektra complex in this marriage. However, I’ve managed to do quite a bit recently.
I’m just finishing a third pair of socks for Ickle Baby Cthulhu. They’re just quick acrylic knits. His feet are very broad but not big, so it’s a struggle getting his (shop-bought) socks on. I’ve been using DK yarn, but that’s a bit bulky. I’ve some 2-ply pure wool I might try next.
I also made a Bloody Stupid Johnson hat for TH for our wedding anniversary. The pattern’s not 100% clear here and there, and I goofed a bit on the crown. Also, the head band is supposed to be grafted but with the cabling that’s just as messy as sewing it. So I did. It turned out fine, a bit better if anything as it’s longer to the crown than it should be. Just like TH.
I really ought to have finished the Drops Hooded Cardigan from the Bullring mystery cotton blend for my niece, but decided it really needed to be lined. And that, as we know too well peeps, means sewing (~shudder~).
More specifically it means finding something to line it with, which translated into a couple of weekends bombing round the Rag Market. Then a few more weeks umming and ahhing as I tried to figure out the best way to line it – before or after assembling the pieces? during, whilst sewing it into the seams? and when should I knit (and line) the hood – before or after or…? Oh the dilemma. Trilemma? – there are 3 options. See how I suffer for my art? Oh the PAIN!!!!!!!!
Cillian’s Trellis Cardi is also finished, apart from tidying up the ends from sewing on the buttons. As he’s now 15 months, this may have to become Adam’s Trellis Cardi – depends on which size I made. Durned if I can remember. I also have a crocheted knitting-needle roll (OH! the irony…) almost done, just a closure to do. I also found this very, very old (well, from just after I restarted crafting) project lurking in plain sight on the Baba’s bedroom floor: a rug crocheted from old sweatpants*!! My sister sends me these things even though she knows I don’t wear them (?!?!). So I cut off the cuffs and waistband, slit them up the inside leg and one side-seam, then cut them up into a single strip about 1″ thick, which I crocheted up with the thickest crochet hook I had – an 8mm I think. It would have looked neater if I’d rolled the strips so only the ‘knit’ outer was visible, not the fleecy lining, but PATIENCE IS NOT MY VIRTUE DAMMIT!!!!!!! The Ba used to lie on it for his kicky sessions before he was mobile – more comfy than the hardwood floors. Now he uses it to slide along the same floors, wheee!
What else? Plans for making a bunny from a swatch. Oh yes, and I’m now a Proper Ol Designer, Ravelry-accredited n evrathang! My totally amazing scrunchie pattern has been downloaded loads! LOADS! more than I thought it would be… both from my Ravelry Designer shop and from the linky on the sidebar here. Well, shucks. Thanks to all the lovely people who thought it worth the bandwidth. Srsly! Now I’ll have to put some more up. TH has been on at me to write up the pattern for my Corset Cosy, and there’s the neck-warmer thingy, maybe the toddler gloves…
More pics to add later!
* aka fleece-lined track suit trousers. Aka Fat Couture. Aka Oxfam-bin fashion for the woman who’s given up the struggle with weight, pregnancy, baby puke, personal hygiene…
The Staff of Life
Or not, as the case may be. If you can’t eat wheat, does that mean you’re dead?
A departure from crafting. But not from creating…??
I can’t eat wheat. I’m not coeliac, it’s just IBS, but I do often eat gluten-free products for coeliacs. However, I’m violently allergic (projectile vomiting, as opposed to the flu-ey symptoms I get from wheat) to buckwheat, a major coeliac staple, especially in brown, high fibre and multigrain baked goods. For some reason, buckwheat is very occasionally listed by other names, including its name in other languages. I recently had a horrific experience thanks to Doves Farm’s Plain White Flour, which lists buckwheat as ‘sarrasin’ – the French word. Oddly, they call it buckwheat on the Brown Bread Flour. Thanks, Doves Farm! Also, as I learned to my cost – or rather my mum’s cost, since she’d bought the stuff in advance of my visiting – these days, not all coeliac foods are wheat-free: those clever clever food scientists have worked out how to remove the gluten from wheat, which can then be used to make gluten-free foods! Great for the coeliacs, not great at all for me. And tbh, the stuff looked as bad as the wheat- and gluten-free food.
Nowadays it’s a lot better for me. At least now I can buy gluten-free food in supermarkets, rather than having to trek into the city centre to go to the big Boots, and food labels now list wheat in the short health warning section of the label. Of course they also plaster the shelves with Look! Gluten Free! signs. My poor mother (who ought to know better, she’s a Trinity graduate, ffs) has been robbed blind buying special gluten-free apples, chicken, lettuce and sellotape for my visits. Recently though, I’ve been getting fed up with the stodgy fare available to me, happy as I am that it’s there. But sometimes I want soda bread. Or a sandwich bread that doesn’t need to be toasted (although I sound a rousing hurrah for Sainsbury’s part-baked baguette). And I’ve never found anything, buckwheat-filled or not, that substitutes for the dense nutty brick that is the Irish Wheaten Soda. Thing is, I’m not a great baker, and I don’t enjoy yeast baking. Stovetop cooking generally I’m fine at, and I’ve mastered roasts now that I have people to cook for, but the results from the oven are disappointing. My cakes, buns and breads don’t rise well, although my pastry and biscuits are surprisingly good considering these are supposed to be harder to make. I used to have a very basic bread machine, but results were not great. When the element died, I didn’t bother replacing it.
However, I’ve heard great things about the Panasonic bread machines, and there are now dedicated cookery books for gluten-free bread machine baking. I ummed and ahhed for a while over the price – £70+ – and then LIDL had a Bifinett bread machine on offer for only £25 which appeared to be more or less identical to the Panasonic in function. So I dispatched Tiny Husband to purchase one, and yesterday I gave it a trial run using Dove’s Farm White Bread Flour (“sarrasin”-free!) and quick acting yeast, and the basic bread-making programme No. 1 as per the recipe for breadmakers on the Dove’s Farm pack, selecting a medium-coloured finish.
The result was fabulous. A squarish well-risen, easily-cut loaf, moist, with a defined but not overly chewy or crispy crust. The centre is not dissimilar in appearance to the sliced pan loaves of my Irish childhood, Knutty Krust and so forth, with medium-sized air bubbles, but with a firmer texture closer to that of British pans (KK slices were sadly limp). It ate well straight from the oven, cooled with butter and with butter and jam, and toasted and buttered this morning. The butter sank in nicely instead of melting into a puddle on top to splatter my work blouse minutes before I have to lasso the baby and run out the door. A little crusty this evening, but I had left it out on the counter, uncovered, since I took it out of the machine.
I’m really impressed. Especially so since the programme I used wasn’t even the gluten-free programme! The only thing that’s inferior to the Panasonic machines is that there’s no facility to add fruit or nuts automatically during baking, though you can set it to beep at the right time. However, this feature has only been present in the last two Panasonic models anyway. I’m looking forward to trying out other recipes – maybe even trying the pasta programme!
Fibre crafts wise, Cillian’s Trellis cardi is finally done, blocked and sewn, and is only sans buttons. It’ll need a re-block. Boobie #2 of the Silk Slip is almost done as well.
Ickle Baby Cthulhu won’t wear gloves. Whereas he has the wit to come in from the cold at home, travelling in the cold weather* can be a problem, notably the childminder run. As I don’t drive (yet), this involves a trip across a straight-from-the-Urals windswept quarter-mile twice a day. It doesn’t take long, 10mins or so at speed, but sometimes his normally toasty little hands freeze. Need I mention that he won’t tolerate a Cozy-Toez(TM) or similar? Only his ‘Bilankent’ will do, a manky old third-hand ripped-up crib duvet with the stuffing hanging out to which he’s taken a fancy simply because his little girlfriend at the childminder’s has a blankie too (for the same reason, he also has to travel with Mooly Cow or Sleepy Hippo, and all attempts to separate him from his dummy are doomed. Peer pressure is a terrible thing. They even swap dummies from sheer lurve. And pink dummies can cause all sorts of misunderstandings).
I’ve bought numerous mittens, even attached them with string through his coats, to no avail. He cunningly manages to lose at least one in the 10-min journey. Now with the tantrums, getting them on him involves holding him down as he’s howling No! No! No! and the ringlets slap into my face and the beefy little fists flail and the boots land in painfully intimate areas – let’s just say I’m not winning this particular battle.
Daddy, on the other hand (no pun intended. Well, maybe), has his Purple Pirate gloves from a few posts back, and Daddy Can Do No Wrong. Not like boring old Mommy and her stupid mitts! He will happily wear one of Daddy’s gloves for some considerable time, admiring the ‘Piwate’ and shouting “Yarrrh!” intermittently. So cunning old boring Mommy had an idea. A psychology PhD has some uses after all!
So Christmas Day evening, I cast on a pair of purple mitts for him, and finished them last night – two days! Based on a vintage pattern, with some mods. Okay, a lot. The cuff is shorter, the thumb is longer, and the top isn’t decreased to a rounded cap. Instead, it is a ‘finger muff’, a portion of loose ribbing made with the larger size dpns used for the stocking stitch. This muff can be folded back for a fingerless mitt, or rolled up for warmth. The link to the free pattern with these modifications is available on the right, under Knitzsche’s Patterns – please note the copyright notice is a bit stricter than the one for the Hair Scrunchies.
They’re too small for the skull and crossbones motif on Daddy’s gloves and I was in too much of a rush to modify. I had hoped instead to put in an intarsia Makka Pakka (face only!), but wouldn’t you know it, I’m permanently low on boring browns in my stash. So I decided to Swiss darn the image using some chenille I have in cream, nutmeg, and black – not the taupe/beige/snoooooore needed, but close enough for a 2-year-old. Sadly I am piss-poor at eye-needlework. The darning did not work, possibly because the chenille was just too different to the DK – flat, ribbony and downright uncooperative – but more likely due to my sewing crapulescence.
So instead I was forced to ~shudder~ For-Real embroider the image on, backstitching 3 times across each stitch in the pattern. I would like to record that each stitch was lovingly crafted with a mother’s blessings for her beloved only child, but it would be an infamous lie. Rather, each was filled with blood and cusswords the like of which would shame a sailor as I yelped and stabbed my way through the 47 piddling knit stitches of the design. The imprecations and involuntary donations continued through the simple 2-st smile and french-knot eyes. HOW do you stab yourself with a tapestry needle, I ask you? Once on the going in, once on the way out is how. Grrraaah!
So Makka Pakka only appears on one mitt. Tiny husband did me the good service of removing the tapestry needle from my self-inflicted stigmata and taking me to bed before I could put out an eye or circumcise something.
His little nibs was quite pleased. He even wore them for a long period, exclaiming over Makka Makka (as he calls it), and enquiring in hushed and worried tones as to Makka Makka’s absence on the second glove… Ooops. I told him that that Makka Pakka had gone to bed (as it does! end of every episode) and that seemed to satisfy him.
While doing this I was reminded of how much I love working with dpns. Straight needles don’t inspire this love. I need 30cm+ needles for most projects, but my forearms are so short I get little bruises on my biceps where the ends dig in. I’ve never found a comfortable, natural way of knitting that avoids this. Dpns are different. they’re short, barely longer than my big man-hands. And I simply adore the juggling of the needles and the speed I can build up, way faster than straights. I feel the same about cable needles. I love ’em. I LOOOOOVE them. I have all sorts, shapes, colours, compositions, but sometimes I use toothpicks, broken dpns, matches, just to live dangerously. Sometimes I store the cable needle in a piercing. Sometimes I light the match. I know two (or 3-ish) ways to do cables without cable needles, all of which feel uncomfortable and inappropriate, and deprive me of the joy of cable-needle juggling. Hurrah for cable needles!
That is all.
* FYI, while we don’t get the spectacular snowfalls of some parts of the world, winter night temperatures of -10degC (14degF) to -20degC (-4degF) are getting to be normal here in Brum. People die walking home from work because public transport shuts down.
** I never bother about rows per inch, preferring instead to measure and/or fit.