Monday, 30 September 2013

Knitted Dolls by Arne and Carlos

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When Suzy Hausfrau put a little message on Facebook recently offering a gift voucher for signing up to their newsletter, I couldn't resist.  I had been to their site a few times, and despite enormous temptation had managed to keep my credit card firmly in my wallet, that was until the voucher offer!  

I've been investigating knitted dolls for a couple of months and was delighted to see they had the Arne and Carlos "Knitted Dolls" book in stock - perfect.  In no time at all my order was placed and it was only a few days later that I was at the post office impatiently waiting in line to collect my parcel.

This book is truly a delight and it's hard not to smile as you flick through the pages of gloriously detailed photographs.  Each doll seems to exude personality, the clothing is wonderfully on-trend (yes, they do have a pattern for a onsie) and the lovely story of the development of the book and patterns intertwine as you delve deeper among the pages.

For me the whole idea for knitting a doll and designer wardrobe is not only the cuteness factor, but also the chance to use up the yarn stash to some degree.  This of course is going to require a great deal of sorting through the Hope Chest, where the stash is stored, to see exactly what I have to work with.  The patterns are for Falk 4 ply wool and I'm quite certain that 4 ply isn't to be found in my stash and the 5 ply I have is in a limited palette of baby pastels.   I'm not adverse to using 8 ply, which I have in abundance, and making larger dolls as a result, but there's always a part of me that wants to use the yarn as listed.  I'm hoping for one of those rare occasions when I walk into a crafty type store and the exact thing I was looking for (in this case 4ply wool in a huge variety of colours) just happens to be on sale for $1.00 a ball.

Here's hoping!

Deb

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Friday, 27 September 2013

The Sock Commission

Pin It A little while ago, I knitted some mock cable socks for a friend at work for her significant birthday.  I am happy to say that she was really pleased with them and took them to show her Mum and Sister.  
They also liked them .. so much so that her sister requested a pair that she could send to her daughter currently studying - get this ..  fashion design in Florence!  I was a bit pleased with this.  Then my friend said that she would also like to send her niece a pair .. 
I could choose whatever socks in whatever colours so I set to work.

The first pair I chose to knit is a beautiful design call Nutkin in a sock wool that I can't recall.  When I first got my wool winder, I spent many hours winding my wool but forgot to keep the tags.  I have been saving this wool for a couple of years though and thought it was high time to use it.  This sock pattern would look fabulous in just about any colour at all.


I started following the pattern  but the picot edging didn't work for me and I didn't really have the time to keep trying this until I got it right - so, I gave up decided it was best to just push forward and did a standard K2, P2 ribbing instead.

I did the ribbing for 10 rows and then commenced the nutkin pattern and continued this up to the heel. I then modified the pattern for no other reason than the way I do it has become so familiar to me that I don't need to look at a pattern and so it is much quicker (the socks needed to be ready fairly soon ..)


Once I got to the heel, I then inserted my 'standard' sock pattern.


Divide for heel

Continue in pattern for 32 stitches. (2 pattern repeats)
 
Place the remaining 32 stitches on one needle as this needle will be the reinforced heel.

1st row: slip one, (K1, slip one as if to purl), rpt to end
2nd row: Slip one, Purl to end
Repeat rows 1 & 2 a further 15 times.

Turning the heel


K18, Slip 1, K1, psso, K1, turn

Slip 1, P5, P2tog, P1, turn
Knit across to the stitch before the gap (this is where you turned your row) Slip the first stitch before the gap, Knit the stitch on the other side of the gap, psso, K1, turn
Slip 1, Purl to the stitch before the gap, P2tog (the stitches either side of the gap), P1, turn

Continue in the manner until all the heel stitches have been used up, finishing with P2 on the wrong side.

Picking up stitches for the gusset.

Turn the knitting to the right side, knit across all heel flap stitches, then pick up and knit 16 stitches (to avoid any loose stitches, knit into the back of each stitch), continue along the top of the foot keeping the nutkin pattern correct, and then pick up and knit a further 16 stitches.

Arrange the stitches on your needles in the following way, the 1st lot of picked up stitches, and half the heel flap stitches on needle 1.  The remaining half of the heel stitches and the second lot of picked up stitches on needle 2.  (The middle of the heel flap now becomes the start of each row.)  Place the remaining 32 stitches (nutkin pattern) on one needle. (needle 3)

Decreasing the gusset.

The aim is to decrease along the gusset until you have the 64 stitches you started with.

Row 1:  Knit all stitches keeping the nutkin pattern correct

Row 2:  knit to 3 stitches before needle 3, K2tog, K1, Knit across needle 3 keeping nutkin pattern correct, K1, Slip 1, K1, psso, Knit.
Row 3:  Knit all stitches
Row 4:  As row 2.

Continue until needles 2 & 3 contain 16 stitches each.


Continue knitting until the foot measures 3cm from the end of the toes (approx 7cm for a small/medium ladies size).  It is best to try and finish at the end of the nutkin pattern.

Decreasing for the toes

Knit one round plain.  (no nutkin pattern - from here on, it is just plain knitting)


Decrease round:

Needle 2—K to 3 sts from end  K2tog, K1. 


Needle 3—K first stitch, Sl1, psso, knit to 3 sts from end  K2tog, K1. 

Needle 1—K1, Sl1, psso, K to end.



Second row: Knit to end



Continue until 16 stitches remain.  8 on needle 2, and 4 on needles 1 & 3.

Combine needles 1 & 3 so you have 8 stitches on each needle and cast off using kitchener stitch.



If you have never tried kitchener stitch, it's a great way to finish a sock.  Nice and neat and strong.


Here is a great link for learning how to do it.  Kitchener Stitch Instructions.

Now it's onto the second pair of socks and I'm sensing something in a liquorice theme - maybe.

Happy knitting,

Louise

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Monday, 23 September 2013

Garage Sale Trail

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It's that time of the year again!  Four years since the garage sale trail started in Bondi, Sydney, this now nationwide event is quickly gaining momentum and I'm delighted to announce that we'll be having a garage sale all of our very own this year.  We've been decluttering, sorting through boxes that have remained unopened since we moved to Melbourne six years ago and generally trying to persuade our children to go through their bedrooms and remove anything they've grown out of.

So far our indoor pile of junk great stuff, looks like this:














We're also the proud owners of  an equally mountainous heap of outdoor rubbish  preloved items, and as the piles grow I'm beginning to wonder how we've been storing everything for all this time.

The date for the big event is Saturday the 26th of October so if you're in Australia, take a moment to visit the website at http://www.garagesaletrail.com.au/ .  It's sure to be a great day to meet people in your neighbourhood, pick up some wonderful bargains and maybe even have a garage sale all of your very own.

*Disclaimer - while you may expect that a craft blogger would have some scraps of fabric or spare skeins of wool to sell, I'm afraid I'm not planning on selling any of my precious stash.  There's some things that you just can't put a price on!!



Happy Garage Sale Trailing

Deb

Thanks so much for visiting.  We'd love to have you join us on Facebook , Pinterest  & Ravelry too. - See more at: http://fitzbirch.blogspot.com.au/#sthash.UiTLnVsM.dpuf
Thanks so much for visiting.  We'd love to have you join us on Facebook , Pinterest  & Ravelry too. - See more at: http://fitzbirch.blogspot.com.au/#sthash.UiTLnVsM.dpuf

Thanks so much for visiting.  We'd love to have you join us on Facebook , Pinterest  & Ravelry too.
- See more at: http://fitzbirch.blogspot.com.au/#sthash.UiTLnVsM.dpuf
Thanks so much for visiting.  We'd love to have you join us on - See more at: http://fitzbirch.blogspot.com.au/#sthash.UiTLnVsM.dpuf
Thanks so much for visiting.  We'd love to have you join us on Facebook , Pinterest  & Ravelry too. - See more at: http://fitzbirch.blogspot.com.au/#sthash.UiTLnVsM.dpuf

Thanks so much for visiting.  We'd love to have you join us on Facebook , Pinterest  & Ravelry too.
- See more at: http://fitzbirch.blogspot.com.au/#sthash.UiTLnVsM.dpuf

Thanks so much for visiting.  We'd love to have you join us on Facebook , Pinterest  & Ravelry too.
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Friday, 20 September 2013

The Ghosts of Glasses Past

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I've been wearing reading glasses for a long time now, and while many of my previous pairs have been donated to various optometry programs it appears their cases were not, something I discovered recently when I was going through our hall cupboard!

I honestly don't know how I've ended up collecting so many cases, but something had to be done and rather than simply discard them, I thought a little fabric covering and a glasses case could easily be transformed into a little carry all for all manner of things.



For this project I selected a fat quarter of fabric (purchased from my local discount store), fabric stiffener/glue, tailors chalk, scissors and a little sewing kit which was soon to have a new home inside my old glasses case.








Fabric stiffener/glue can be a messy business, so I lined my table with an industrial sized roll of cling film, marked and cut the fabric to size and then glued everything in place.  Once it was dry, I simply added our little sewing kit and I had a perfect bottom-of-the-travel-bag-accessory...














.... or in this case it's a bottom-of-the-ballet-bag-necessity.







Happy Sewing

Deb


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Monday, 16 September 2013

Spinning Separate Colours

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Microwaved Dyeing
I am having a lot of fun dyeing roving.  I have spent a lot of hours in the kitchen with bubbling saucepans and tubs of dye on my fledgling hobby.  

I dyed a few plaits of roving in some plain colours but then I stumbled across a few you-tube videos describing how you can dye roving in the microwave and I wasted no time giving it a go.

I only have one microwave - a few of the dyers on the videos were advocating having a machine expressly for this purpose.  Mine is quite old so I thought - nothing to lose .. 

While I was soaking the plait of roving, I covered my island bench in glad wrap and decided on 3 colours, magenta, wattle and blue.  Rather haphazardly, I started dying sections using an old plastic bottle.  I didn't put too much effort into it as I was really not sure if the roving (and indeed the microwave) would survive this dyeing method.

Once I was happy that all the roving had some colour, I wrapped it up securely in the glad wrap (or cling film in some parts of the world) and popped it in the microwave on high for 5 mins.  Make sure that you have it in a bowl in case there are some leaks - I can see why a second microwave would be a good idea.   

You can imagine my surprise (and delight) when the roving came out in all the shades of the rainbow.  I was thrilled and couldn't wait for it to dry.

Just out of the microwave .. 
But how do you spin with it?  I was a bit daunted as I didn't think it was simply a case of picking up one end and spinning.  I searched the internet seeking inspiration and I eventually found exactly what I was looking for at Craftsy.

They had a class called 'Spinning Dyed Fibers' so I enrolled.

I then spent a number of fascinated hours watching Felicia and learning how to use the colours in the fibre to achieve all manner of different effects.  

Separating the plait of roving

So, time to get started.  When I undid the plait and laid out the roving, I  seemed to have very definite changes of colour alternating between the magenta and blue and used this as my start.

I took the top piece of roving and divided it into 5 strips  and started spinning these to keep the colours 'clean'.  That is, the spun wool would just have these colours in it with no blues etc.

Keeping colours separate
Separating Magenta
Spinning blue and yellow

I then repeated the process with the second piece of roving to keep the blue and magenta separate from the yellow.  In essence, I was trying to keep as much of the colour from blending into a muddied hue. 

I kept repeating the process of spinning the separated colours of roving, all the while getting more and more excited at what was appearing on the bobbin.

Once I had finished spinning, it came time to ply. Rather than ply 2 bobbins together (this was always going to be tricky as I only had one bobbin of this homespun), the craftsy course taught me how to Navajo Ply.  This is a chain 3 ply.  To put it very simply, you create a loop (or chain), reach in and grab the homespun and the 3 strands spin together.  Got that?  I honestly don't think there is anyway I could verbally describe how to do this so the written instructions can be found here at Knitty or the Yarn Wench.  If it all gets too much and you need to see someone doing it, then I can't recommend the Craftsy class enough.  The Knit Girlls tutorial is also fantastic.  This method allows you to ply in sections which means you can keep colours together - or at least try to.
Spun Circus
Navajo Plying



















In the end, I managed to keep some blocks of colour separate and, consequently, my dyed roving has gone from 'rainbow' to 'circus'.

Happy Spinning

Louise



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Friday, 13 September 2013

Lego Soap Saver

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Quite a while ago now, I promised one of my children a Lego blanket (you can read about it here).  I'm sad to say that it has yet to eventuate.  I've crocheted up a few bricks here and there, but nowhere near enough to make even a lap rug, let alone a full sized blanket.  I'd love to be able to tell you that after all this time my son  has forgotten the promise made long ago -  but he hasn't -  and when he sees me crochet hook in hand he does sometimes mention, without subtlety I might add, the fact that his blanket doesn't look like it will be finished anytime soon.

...perhaps a little Lego project can keep him happy for a while?

The inspiration for our Lego Soap Saver comes from a pretty project by MooglyBlog.com .  The link takes you to their lovely pampering soap saver and when I came across the photo of their bobble crochet on Pinterest I thought it could easily be adapted to form a Lego shape.  Naturally, I didn't have bright cottons in my yarn stash so a quick trip to Lincraft was in order and home I came with bright red and blue "Coton-A" yarns.

I don't know if it happens in most families, but in ours each child seems to be associated with different colours, and while not set in stone, the purchase of lunch boxes, bedding and sometimes even underwear seems to take on a colour coded feel.  My child who currently lacks a Lego blanket has been mostly red and so naturally my instinct was to try a red soap saver first.

I followed the pattern from Moogly Blog exactly except for the following changes:

Round 4:  Ch 1. [Sc in next st, dc in next st] 5 times. Sc in next 1 st. HDC 3times, CL in next, HDC 2 times, CL in next stitch HDC 3 times in last st, and join to first sc with sl st. Turn. (22 sts)

Round 5: Ch 1.  [Sc in next st, dc in next st] 5 times. HDC 12 times Join to first sc with sl st. Turn. (22 sts)

repeat rounds 4 and 5 a further 2 times.

Round 10, 11 and 12:  as per round 5

Finish as per Moogly Pattern.


I'm hoping our new soap saver will encourage cleanliness and so I've added some decedent and divine smelling goats milk soap we picked up on a recent trip to Yarra Glen

Happy Crocheting

Deb


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Monday, 9 September 2013

Crafty Style Fundraising

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Cake stalls, sausage sizzles and egg and bacon roll stands seem to be the staple of school fundraising events these days, so you can  imagine my delight this term when an email arrived in my inbox calling for donations of cakes or "hand made goods if you are a crafty talented person".  To be honest I was a little put off by the addition of "talented", but decided that the school had asked for hand made goods and therefore I would deliver, hoping all the while that there would not be an aptitude test for talent and that I could nonchalantly  sneak my wares into the school  office - or better yet my child could sneak them into the school office and they could take the talent aptitude test on my behalf should one eventuate.

I've been working with Knitting Ribbon (sometimes called Craftlon or Knitlon, depending on where you live) lately in an attempt to use this long forgotten medium in ways that take it from the 1970's to now, and having a few rolls remaining I thought I could quickly come up with a basket of goodies using what I had on hand.  My main aim being to have as many pieces as possible for the school to sell, all the while knowing that I had less than a week to come up with something that people would want to buy.

One super quick and easy project is making Flower Hair Clips on the flower loom.  We've made them before (you can find the instructions here ) and it's simply a case of making the flowers and attaching a hair slide/barrette through the back of the flower to make a really pretty accessory.  While I added a sparkly bead to the centre of our previous attempts, I'm was a bit worried about small parts if these were to get into the hands of little ones, so left the beads off for this batch and I still think they look quite lovely.

I was quite content to do a whole basket of lovely little flowers, but then I was chatting to Louise who mentioned how headbands would also be good and while I mumbled and grumbled about it for an hour or so, finally decided that the basket would look great with an assortment of hair accessories, so out came my crochet hook and headbands were quickly added.  My pattern for these is very simple ( to fit a child's head):

Using a 5.5 crochet hook, Chain 55, Slip stitch into first chain to form a circle.
Round 1. Chain one, skip first chain and single crochet into each chain in circle. When you reach the end, Slip stitch into first SC of round
Repeat round 1 a further 3 times.  
Cast off and sew flower in place.

Sadly, I'll be elsewhere when the fundraising event takes place, which is probably a good thing as it's quite nerve wracking standing around waiting to see if your goods sell.  Honestly, I've got no idea how folk with their own craft stalls do it!

Happy Fundraising

Deb

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Friday, 6 September 2013

Mock Cable Socks

Pin It A dear friend of mine has a significant birthday coming up.  We have never exchanged gifts before - just hearty best wishes on the day.  This is a very significant one though - 50!.  A well meaning Happy Birthday just won't be enough as far as I am concerned so it is time for my old stand by - hand knitted socks.


When I was holidaying down south and happened upon a spinning shop, I also used it as an excuse to add to my sock wool stash.  I came across some standard sock wool (4ply) in beautiful shades of pinks and greens with a slight touch of blue for good measure.  It was lovely and I knew instantly where this wool was destined.


Materials

100g ball of sock wool
5 x 2.75mm sock knitting needles/dpns

Abbreviations


MC - Mock cable

Knit into the back of the second stitch on the left needle, keep on the needle and then knit into the front of the first stitch on the left needle.  Slip both off at the same time.

Pattern

Right Foot
Cast on 64 stitches and divide evenly onto 4 needles.
Join in the round ensuring that the knitting is not twisted.

1st row:  K2, P2 to end
rpt until ribbing measures 4cm.

Pattern

1st row: K2, P2, MC, P2, MC, P2, Knit to end
2nd row: K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, knit to end
3rd row: as 2nd
4th row: as 2nd
5th row: as 2nd
6th row: as Row 1.

Continue in established pattern until the sock is 18cm long.


Divide for heel

Continue in pattern for 32 stitches.  Place the remaining 32 stitches on one needle.

1st row: slip one, (K1, slip one as if to purl), rpt to end
2nd row: Slip one, Purl to end
Repeat rows 1 & 2 a further 15 times.

Turning the heel


K18, Slip 1, K1, psso, K1, turn

Slip 1, P5, P2tog, P1, turn
Knit across to the stitch before the gap (this is where you turned your row) Slip the first stitch before the gap, Knit the stitch on the other side of the gap, psso, K1, turn
Slip 1, Purl to the stitch before the gap, P2tog (the stitches either side of the gap), P1, turn

Continue in the manner until all the heel stitches have been used up, finishing with P2 on the wrong side.



Picking up stitches for the gusset.


Turn the knitting to the right side, knit across all heel flap stitches, then pick up and knit 16 stitches (to avoid any loose stitches, knit into the back of each stitch), continue along the top of the foot keeping the mock cable pattern correct, pick up and knit 16 stitches.


Arrange the stitches on your needles in the following way, the 1st lot of picked up stitches, and half the heel flap stitches on needle 1.  The remaining half of the heel stitches and the second lot of picked up stitches on needle 2.  The middle of the heel flap now becomes the start of each row.  Place the remaining 32 stitches on one needle. (needle 3)



Decreasing the gusset.


The aim is to decrease along the gusset until you have 64 stitches.


Row 1:  Knit all stitches

Row 2:  knit to 3 stitches before needle 3, K2tog, K1, Knit across needle 3 keeping mock cable pattern correct, K1, Slip 1, K1, psso, Knit.
Row 3:  Knit all stitches
Row 4:  As row 2.

Continue until needles 2 & 3 contain 16 stitches each.


Continue knitting until the foot measures 3cm from the end of the toes (approx 7cm for a small/medium ladies size).



Decreasing for the toes


Knit one round plain.  (No ribbing)



Decrease round:



Needle 2—K to 3 sts from end  K2tog, K1. 


Needle 3—K first stitch, Sl1, psso, knit to 3 sts from end  K2tog, K1. 

Needle 1—K1, Sl1, psso, K to end.

Second row: Knit to end

Continue until 16 stitches remain.  8 on needle 2, and 4 on needles 1 & 3.
Combine needles 1 & 3 so you have 8 stitches on each needle and cast off using kitchener stitch.

If you have never tried kitchener stitch, it's a great way to finish a sock.  Nice and neat and strong.

Here is a great link for learning how to do it.  Kitchener Stitch Instructions.

Left Foot
Cast on 64 stitches and divide evenly onto 4 needles.
Join in the round ensuring that the knitting is not twisted.

1st row:  K2, P2 to end
rpt until ribbing measures 4cm.

Pattern

1st row: K6, P2 MC, P2, MC, P2, Knit to end
2nd row: K6, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, knit to end
3rd row: as 2nd row
4th row: as 2nd row
5th row: as 2nd row
6th row: as Row 1.

Continue as for Right foot.

Happy sock knitting,
Louise

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Monday, 2 September 2013

Classic Accessories for Ballet Class

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If you have a budding ballerina in your family, you'll probably be familiar with just how important a well put together outfit is for class.  Leotards, despite their ever increasing complexity, are still quite plain and so adding a little accessory (or two) can be the perfect way to add a  bit of individual style.  

We've put together a list of crafts from Fitzbirch that are specifically designed for dance class, and all of them include free patterns and tutorials.  




Having a bad ballet bun hair day?  These simple crochet bun covers will hide a multitude of sins and are really quite simple to make.  Choose wool to match your class leotard colour and you'll go from "What have you done to your hair", to "that's so pretty" quicker than you can double crochet.










Even if you're not a knitter, loom knitting is a fabulous way to make leg warmers and are so easy that even a young ballerina could quickly put a pair together.  We chose to go for stripes with our pattern, but really these would be just as good plain as the texture is enough to add a touch of shabby chic which is so often seen in professional companies.





 
Classic Ballet Hair Bows

Come exam time, many ballet schools ask for a formal bow and here's an easy guide to making them yourself.  A glue gun, ribbon and a hair slide is all you need for a perfectly groomed look come exam day, or any class really!











Crochet Ballet Slippers

Every ballerina needs to relax and there's no better way than lounging about in these fantastic crochet slippers.  It's been suggested they might make wonderful pointe overshoes as well.





 







If your leotard colour isn't standard, finding hair accessories in the dance stores can be tricky.  Here we took some shop bought ribbon roses, although to be honest they are quite simple to make from scratch, buying them just makes the whole job a little quicker.  We sewed them onto matching ribbon and left enough length to tie a bow underneath. 






Onsie

Last, but not least and certainly not  just for dance, a onsie is fantastic for after class to keep warm, we used  a McCall's pattern and zebra print fleece to create a fashion piece all of our very own.



Happy dancing

Deb and Louise

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