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Saturday, 25 January 2014

Architecture

I had such a positive response to my Our House, that I decided to have a go at designing a house pattern.  So my new interest is architecture. You may see me wandering around my local neighbourhood, gazing upwards at the angle of a roof, or pondering the shape of a window. Or perhaps peering down the side of your house to see what interesting objects you have stored there.


I have come up with the Little Woollie House Pattern. I was keen to have chimneys, and a dormer window, but have made the pattern fairly flexible. You can vary the number of storeys, and whether you have one, two or no dormer windows.

The main walls of Little Woollie House are knitted in the round on five doublepoints. For the roof and gable ends you knit on two needles. There is very little sewing up, which I hope will please some people.

Compared to my Our House, I have taken more care with the doors and windows, and the pattern contains a chart to help you with their size and position, although again you may not want to stick to this. The pattern also includes knitting instructions on how to make a little bird for the roof.


I think the fun with making a Little Woollie House is adding the details. These are embroidered on once the basic house is completed, and use nothing more complicated than backstitch, stem stitch, french knots, and blanket stitch. You can find permanent phototutorials for these stitches on my blog in the righthand sidebar. The pattern does not contain detailed instructions for everything I have added to my houses, but I hope that the photos will give people a good starting point. I have a few mores ideas, and particularly like mixing the traditional and modern. Perhaps a knocked over dustbin at the side of the house, with a fox looking guilty!

I have gone a bit to town (pun intended) on my samples houses.

The single storey Croft has slightly smaller windows and a sheep grazing round the back, and a satellite dish for those long Scottish evenings.


On my two storey Town Houses I have experimented with the windows: window boxes below, or brickwork above. One house has is a bicycle parked at the side, a ladder, and a little white cat. The other one has large tree at the side, a dove on the roof, and a little black cat.







The wool I used for these two houses and the croft are both James C. Brett - Marble. I found this wool in a small hardware shop, in a rack between various buckets and brushes. I have not seen it for sale in other shops, but I really love how the colour changes to give a natural weathered look, and with a bit of research you can find this wool online. Although any doubleknit wool will work.


And finally what I call the Grand House has a blackbird on the roof, and large tree with squirrel and swing at the back. Hubby, ever practical, says that it worries him as the tree is much too close to the foundations.





I have enjoyed making these house so much, and hope that anyone who has a go at making a house from my pattern will link their project back to the pattern or me, as I would love to see them. My sample houses are off to Etsy, and the Little Woollie House pattern is available on Craftsy, ravelry and Etsy.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Socks, Socks, Socks


I'm feeling rather pleased with myself. I have knitted my first ever pair of socks. This was on my list of things to knit last year, 2013, but I didn't get round to it. So I decided to get off to a better start for 2014, and at least do one of the knits I have planned early on.


These are knitted from Business Casual by Tanis Lavallee, a free pattern on ravelry.  I didn't use the recommended wool, but some Rowan wool cotton 4ply that I had. I did knit a gauge swatch (unusual for me), but when I had completed the cuff of the first sock I realised that I just couldn't squeeze my chubby ankles comfortably in. So I decided to knit them for my daughter, and as you can see they are a perfect fit for her. I think I had problems because the wool I used is 50% cotton and doesn't have much stretch, but would welcome any general advice on wool that is good for socks, and substituting wools.


These socks are knitted on four needles, and I love the look of the cable diamonds, and the heels. 

Socks do take a lot of knitting. My family kept teasing me for the amount of effort I was putting in for something that you can buy relatively cheaply. But I think the end result is rather fine. I do understand now why are grannies spent so much effort darning. If you have spent a week handknitting a pair socks then I think you do whatever is necessary to keep them going.


I did a lot of knitting of these on our New Year trip to Devon. Does anyone else knit in the car on long journeys? I usually knit something a bit more straightforward when travelling, and I did struggle a bit with all the needles and the cabling. But I don't like travelling on the motorway much so it kept me preoccupied.


One of my Christmas gifts from my sister-in-law was this lovely book of socks patterns. So expect some more socks, socks, socks, later in the year.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Our House ...


Inbetween all the Christmas festivities I have been knitting and embroidering away on a project which is really just for the fun of it. This is Our House ... In the Middle of Our Street. (Is that song is known outside the UK?) 

I really love the house where I live. Nearly all the best bits of my life have happened while living in this house. Despite its age, over a hundred years, it is cosy in winter, and lovely and cool in the summer. 


When my husband and I moved in, our elderly neighbours who had lived next door for many, many years, told us that this house had always been a lucky house (especially for babies, wink, wink!). And that proved true.


I was mainly inspired by the grey/pink flecked wool, which I have been using for another project and had a little left over, and thought would be perfect for the brickwork.

 
This is a slightly simplified, and idealised version of my house. Although I have tried to stick fairly strictly to reality, our house does not always have window boxes in full bloom, or a pink rose climbing up the back. It does have a spike on the front, whereas a lot of the other houses in the street have lost their spikes over the years. And the front bay window and door are pretty true to life. Also there is often a little black cat skulking around and a pigeon on the roof. 


The sizes of the windows also went a bit wrong, but I sort of like the wonkiness, which reminds me of the crooked house in the nursery rhyme.


My family kept coming up with other ideas. A satellite dish on top would be funny, or a bicycle parked at the side. So I may have a go at another house. I hope you like this project, which is going to sit for a while on the mantlepiece in the real house.



Wednesday, 1 January 2014

New Year - Resolutions and Plans

Happy New Year!

I hope 2014 brings you lots of creative joy.

I have made a few Ginx Craft New Year's resolutions. Maybe resolutions is not quite the right word, and perhaps I should just say rough plans.

I made a similar list (not online but jotted in a notebook) last year at this time. Unfortunately I can't find that list from 2013, so I guess my first resolution is to be a bit better organised.

I do remember most of what was on that list, and know there are some things that I never even got going on. They will just get moved on to the 2014 list. 

I still have (shock horror!) not knitted an adult size pair of socks. 

Socks I am planning to knit

And I would still like to learn to crochet. I did make an attempt back in the summer, and ended up with a tight little ball of nothing. But I have also not given up on this either.


I also had a list of ideas for knitting pattern designs, and did complete many of these.  Even in this area I had some hits, and some misses. But pattern design is what I want to concentrate on in 2014. 


So there are going to be more patterns, and less or almost no, churning out knits for craft fairs. (This decision was helped by the evening when I sat for what seemed hours in a school hall, only to get home and found I had sold more online from my Etsy shop in that time.)


My other resolution was to try and get across other computer platforms. (Is that even the right word?) I have set up a Ginx Craft facebook page, which I feel at least gives my friends and family the choice on whether they want to follow my crafting, and has attracted some new followers. I have also got to grips with Pinterest in a small way, but Twitter is something I haven't yet tried, but will perhaps be on the 2014 to do list. I feel I am more visual that wordy, and will tweeting leave any time left to actually make anything. 


My other area where I have mixed success is online sales of products. On Etsy I have done quite well. I prefer to only sell things that I have already made. And although my overall sales are low, this suits me as I love being creative and don't want knitting to become a chore. I am extremely happy with my 100% positive feedback on Etsy. In the middle of the year I thought I would dip my toe in Folksy, but my little shop there remained almost unviewed, and with no sales. I think I should have looked harder into promoting it. But as most of my products are unique one-offs, it worried me having two shops online. What if I put a unique item in both shops, and they both sold on the same day? So in 2014 I am going to just run my Etsy shop, and still with the tricky considerations of postage costs and pricing, am going to try and concentrate on even more quirky, unique makes.

Other things I have really enjoyed this year is my continued interest in photography. So I hope to switch off the auto button a bit more in 2014, and get to grips with some of the more technical aspects. I would love to do a photography course .... So I going to continue to try to have my camera with me at all times, take loads of photos, but then be discerning about the ones I keep, and even more so with the ones posted on my blog.


In 2014 I also hope to work more on sewing and embroidery, and what happened to the kid's craft section of my blog. I guess my own children have just grown up quite a lot. My daughter and I are toying with the idea of a tween fashion section.

But for me the fun thing about crafting, and blogging about crafting, is that you don't know exactly where you are going. A year ago I had no idea that I was going to spend so much time in 2013 knitting fairies and tiny icon dolls. So despite my rough plan jottings for 2014, I don't really know what direction Ginx Craft will go this year. "Such fun ...."