Saturday, 26 July 2014

Falling Leaves Crochet Cowl

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In between ballet class, school, study and wearing Fitzbirch creations so that I can take a photo of them for this blog, Andie , the youngest of the Fitzbirch nieces, is want to do a bit of craft herself.  Recently this has involved loom bands and washi tape (not at the same time!), but this weekend she discovered the bag of homespun yarn that Louise had left with us on her last visit and crochet hook in hand a new project came together.



First there was the task of winding the wool, something much loathed in this household after recent disasters.  Thankfully, Louise's yarn winds beautifully and so it was really simple and quick...hooray.

The pattern Andie chose was the Open Checkers Stitch from New Stitch a Day






Pattern:

Using a 12mm hook and thick yarn, chain 18.  
Continue with Open Checkers Stitch until desired length is reached
Join the beginning to the end of project using a row of single crochet
Weave in ends

Andie was really thrilled to be modelling her own creation for a change and decided on the name "Falling Leaves Cowl"  for the soft Autumn tones in the wool that Louise had dyed and spun herself.

Now with a busy end of the school term coming up, I think we might have to wait until the holidays before Andie's next project

Happy Crocheting

Deb and Andie

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Sunday, 20 July 2014

Tour de New Zealand (AKA Honeymoon) Beanie

Pin It The first skein of yarn from my 'Tour de Fleece' spinning was earmarked for a colourful beanie for New Zealand.  

It is going to be cold and I have been given a wonderfully warm coat - 3 layers that should keep all the cold wind out.  The only issue is that it is black.  So when my first skein was spinning into something quite colourful, I knew it would make a great contrast to the dependable dark coat.

This hat knitted up comfortably in one evening and not only was it very easy, but it is extraordinarily warm.  I loved it.

The next day was a glorious winter day. Sun shining all morning but a drop in temperature in the afternoon.  Peter had spent a relaxing afternoon in this sunshine reading and when he came inside, I noticed he was wearing my beanie.

"Hey, this is a great hat" he said.
"Thank you", I replied.  "It's my new hat for New Zealand"
"Can I have one?" he said.  "It fits perfectly because it covers my ears and keeps them and the rest of my head really warm"
"OK" I said.  "I'll spin some more wool and make another one".
"umm, actually, I really like this one - It looks like something you would buy from a surf shop.  Can I have this one?" he asked

How could I say no?  

Luckily, it's the tour de fleece so there should be plenty of wool to make another one

PATTERN

Abbreviations.
M1 - Work to the place where the increase is to be made. Insert the left needle from front to back into the horizontal strand between the two stitches.  Knit the stitch through the back loop.

Using the WPI (wraps per inch), my homespun was somewhere between 8 and 10ply (Dk and worsted weight).

Using a set of 5.5mm DPN's, Cast on 76 stitches. 


Establish a K2, P2 rib pattern and join in the round.
Knit the rib pattern for 10 rows.

Next row:  Knit, increasing 12 stitches evenly around the beanie (88 stitches) using the M1 method.
Continue to knit until the hat measures 17cm from the cast on.  This will make a loose fitting, slouchier beanie.  Reduce this measurement if you want a tighter fit.

Next row:  K8, K2tog to end
Next row:  Knit
Next row:  K7, K2tog to end
Next row:  Knit
Next row:  K6, K2tog to end
Next row:  Knit
Next row:  K5 K2tog to end
Next row:  Knit
Next row:  K4, K2tog to end
Next row:  Knit
Next row:  K3, K2tog to end
Next row:  Knit
Next row:  K2, K2tog to end
Next row:  Knit
Next row:  K1, K2tog to end
Next row:  K2tog to end


Thread a wool needle with the yarn and pull the remaining stitches to close.  Weave in any loose threads from the cast on and the finish and you are ready to go.

Happy Knitting and Spinning,
Louise

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Sunday, 13 July 2014

French Square Scarf

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When I first learnt to crochet, I was thrilled to just be able to chain a few new stitches together and as my skill level progressed I discovered there's no feeling quite like gazing at the first Granny Square you've ever made.  











When I went yarn shopping recently and picked up some Manos Del Urugauy "Clara" I knew it called for something a little more refined than my usual simple stitches though, and so turned to my new favourite crochet stitch finder, New Stitch A Day.









After a quick search I discovered the lovely French Square Motif and so once the process of winding the wool was over, I began crocheting away at what really is quite a simple pattern.












To make my scarf I crocheted 28 motifs, blocked them and then sewed them together at the corners to form a long rectangle.  The yarn is beautiful to work with (once the ball winding process is out of the way - you can read all about that troublesome activity here).











I'm really delighted with the end result.  The scarf is soft and delicate, making it perfect accessory to wear in  all types of weather. 

Happy crocheting

Deb










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Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Cluster Crochet Cowl

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I've reached the point where I'm determined not to buy anymore yarn until I've made some sort of inroads into using up my yarn stash.  The trunk that I use for storage currently resembles a bomb sight and rather than take everything out to reorganise it, I've figured it might be easier to just grab some yarn every now and again and use it, hopeful that one day it might actually come to the point where it magically looks neat and tidy.  I remain forever the optimist!

On top of the yarn stash this week sat the yarny remnants of a recent loom knit project.  I had about a ball and three quarters of Sidar Denim Ultra, a super chunky yarn that translates to about a 20 ply With such a small amount to work with, I thought a beanie or a cowl were probably my only options clothing wise and finally settled on a cluster design cowl which I thought would work better than a hat, given the thickness of the yarn.

Using a super chunky yarn of your choice and a 12 mm crochet hook

The cluster pattern:

Cl:  Yarn over, (insert hook into required stitch, yarn over, pull up a loop)  repeat three times, yarn over and pull through all seven stitches on hook.  Chain one to close cluster.








The cowl pattern is then:

Chain 45
Row 1:  cl into 3rd chain from hook, skip one chain, cl into next chain, repeat and cluster in last chain
Row 2-7:  Chain 2, turn, cl into space between clusters on previous row and repeat into each space across row.

To complete project:
Twist the length of crochet fabric once and slip stitch the end seams together to form cowl.


This project got a little scary towards the end, the last row was a nervous battle with the yarn looking like it wasn't going to last the distance and me willing it to get to the last cluster in the row.  Eventually we called a truce,  where we managed to end the row with just centimetres of yarn to spare and then sewing up the seam with cotton.  


Sadly, removing a ball and three quarters of yarn from my stash doesn't seem to have made much difference.  I think there might be a long way to go before it reaches neat and tidy status!

Happy crocheting

Deb



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Saturday, 5 July 2014

Fauxlags

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Beautiful, fluffy 'Fauxlags'
As a new spinner, any tips that come my way are greatly appreciated and I saw something the other day on Pinterest that I had never even thought or heard about. However, now that I know, it has transformed my spinning.

I saw a pin on Fauxlags and thought what on earth are these?  Well, it is a way of making a smooth combed roving into rolags for ease of spinning.   Certainly a lot easier (although less authentic) than my first attempt.

Test Spin
Previously, I have been separating my tops lengthways into thirds and then separating each piece into half – effectively creating some sort of pencil roving.  When I saw just how easy this method was, I set about transforming my stash of ‘Tour de Fleece’.

Method

 




Materials - Combed top, smooth rolling pin (eg, PVC pipe)
















Step 1.  Quite simply, you smooth out the top and firmly ‘pull’ on it to loosen the strands.  Just enough for you to feel the ‘give’ and for a bit of ease and movement but not enough to separate.









Step 2.  Using your ‘roller’, roll the combed top over the roller once, press firmly on the roller to hold in place and gently break off the roving.  Then slide off for a lovely, fluffy ‘fauxlag’.


I originally used a wooden ravioli roller but the fauxlags would snag on it and in the end, my Dad hit on the idea of some PVC piping we had used for our reticulation.  A good scrub and it was absolutely perfect.  The fauxlags slide off beautifully.

Voila .. a combed top rolag – or fauxlag as it’s known in the business.

Happy Spinning,

Louise





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Monday, 30 June 2014

Leafy Garden Rib Socks

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Leafy Garden Rib Socks
On of my favourite yarns of all time is Zauberballs 'Floral Garden'.  I started crochetingsome flowers with it and .. well, it was love at first petal.

I have spent quite a bit of time quilting lately but a few days ago the urge to knit something was too powerful (and who am I to resist?) so I reached for the prettiest ball of wool I could find in my stash and set about designing a pair of socks that would do it justice.

The design had to have a 'garden' theme so .. here they are.  Leafy Rib Socks.

This sock is ideal to wear with boots.  The ribbing and the leaves create a really nice thickness.

Abbreviations

K - Knit
P - Purl
YO - Yarn Over
Sl2k1P - Slip 2 stitches as if you were about to work a K2tog, Knit 1 then pass both slipped stitches over the knitted stitch
K2tog - Knit 2 stitches together
ssk - slip 1 stitch knitwise, then slip another stitch purlwise, place the LHS needle back through the front of these stitches and then knit them together.


Materials

2 x balls/skeins of Zauberball 'Floral Garden'
set of 2.5mm sock knitting DPNs
Pattern Designing



Pattern

Cast on 80 stitches and divide evenly between 4 needles. (20 on each needle)

Establish a K1 P1 rib and, being careful not to twist, join in the round.

Continue until rib measures 6cm.
Row 1:
K1, P1, YO K1 YO, (P1 K1) twice, P1

Row 2: 
(and every even row) Knit all knit stitches and purl all purl stitches 
Yarn Overs are a knit stitch.

Row 3: 
K1, P1, YO K3 YO, (P1, K1) twice, P1
Taking Shape

Row 5:
K1, P1, YO K5 YO (P1, K1) twice, P1

Row: 7
K1, P1, ssk, K3, K2tog, (P1, K1) twice, P1

Row 9:
K1, P1, ssk, K1, K2tog, (P1, K1) twice,P1

Row 11:
K1, P1, Sl2k1P, (P1, K1) twice, P1

Row 13:
(K1, P1) 3 times, YO K1 YO, P1

Row 15:
(K1, P1) 3 times, YO K3 YO, P1

Row 17:
(K1, P1) 3 times, YO K5 YO, P1

Row 19:
(K1, P1) 3 times, ssk, K3, K2tog, P1

Row 21:
(K1, P1) 3 times, ssk, K1, K2tog, P1

Row 23:
(K1, P1) 3 times, Sl2k1P, P1

Row 24: as row 2

Rows 1-24 form the leaf pattern.

Repeat the pattern 2 more times (3 repeats in total) and then divide the stitches for the heel.


Heel Shaping

Row 1:   Slip 1, Knit 1 to the end of the turned row.
Row 2:   Slip 1 Purlwise, P 39 Stitches, turn


Repeat rows 1 & 2 a further 18 times.

Heel Turning

Row 1: Knit 22, slip 1, K1, PSSO, K1 turn
Row 2: Purl 5, P2tog, P1, turn
Row 3, Knit to the stitch before the 'gap'.  Close the gap by 'slip1, K1, PSSO, K1', turn
Row 4: Purl to the stitch before the gap.  Close the gap by 'P2tog, P1, turn'

Repeat rows 3 & 4 until all the stitches are used, ending on a purl row.


Gusset

Row 1:  Knit across the stitches that are left from the heel turning and then pick up and knit 20 stitches.     By slipping the first stitch of the heel shaping rows, you will have created a chain edge.  Slip the needle through the chain to pick and knit the stitches.  Continue in the established rib pattern across the instep until you get to the other side of the heel shaping rows.  Using the same method, pick up each chain stitch and knit.  Knit to the end of the row.

Row 2:  Knit until there are 3 stitches left before the rib pattern begins, K2tog, K1.  Continue  the established pattern until you reach the gusset stitches.  K1, SSK, K to the end of the row.

Repeat these 2 rows until you have a total of 80 stitches again.

Continue in the established pattern minus any decreasing until the sock is approximately 6cm shorter than the foot that the sock is designed for.  The pattern should end on a row 11 or 23 to give a neat finish to the pattern and ensure you end up with the correct amount of stitches to start the decreasing for the toe.


Toe Shaping

Row 1: Knit to 3 stitches before the established pattern (last 3 stitches on the needle).  
K2tog, K1, K1, SSK. Knit all stitches across the pattern in plain stitch to the last 3.  The pattern has now ended and its plain stitch to the end. K2tog, K1, K1, SSK.
Row 2: Knit all stitches.

Repeat Rows 1 & 2 until you are left with 16 stitches.

Using the Kitchener Stitch, bind off and secure any loose ends.

Previous posts about socks can be found here.

Happy Sock Knitting,
Louise

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Saturday, 28 June 2014

Lone Star

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Finished Lone Star Quilt using 'Josephine' Jelly roll.
I am well and truly hooked on quilting (and knitting and spinning - the list goes on) but I am struggling with just how hard it is to achieve a good quilt.  I gave up on perfection - my temper is too short - but I just can't seem to achieve an all round good quilt.  Either the piecing is OK and I mess up the quilting or the quilting is OK but the piecing wasn't so good.  It can be frustrating!  I'm sure I'm not alone there -- am I?  

In times of crisis, I turn to Craftsy and try to gain some knowledge through their courses.  I love them and have learned so much but nothing helps more than hands on practice.


Practicing my perfect points



I did Kimberley Einmos ' Magical Jelly Rolls' and she showed me how to make a lone star. It hardly used up any of the jelly roll (Josephine by Moda Fabrics) so I made 4.

Then I did Leah Day's 'Free Motion Fillers' to help me with the machine quilting.  I think I have mastered stipple stitch - but I can't be too sure.


Getting the hang of stipple stitch
Then I moved onto Jenny Doan's 'Quilting Quickly' and picked up a multitude of good ideas and I am currently watching Ann Peterson's 'Beyond Basic Machine Quilting' .. this is after watching 'Quilting Big Quilts on Small machines'.  

There can be no doubt that I have done my homework.  I just can't remember it being this difficult when Deb and I were quilting 15 or so years ago.  Admittedly, we hand quilted and admittedly I am using a new machine that I am still getting used to. 

Still, I persevere in the quest for a quilt with no puckers, perfect points, straight borders and even quilting.

My Mum was visiting and I dejectedly showed her the progress of my Lone Star quilt and she said it was lovely.  "But look" I said as I pointed out every flaw I had made.  She looked non-plussed and said it still looked lovely and that she would love to have it.     Mums are good like that aren't they?  So I finished it off, much happier with the progress and very pleased that it was going to a good home.

Happy Quilting,
Louise



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