Friday 29 March 2013

Monarch Metamorphosis Collection

What could be in this little calico cotton drawstring bag? A surprise!

Four hand-knitted items which I have been hinting at for a few weeks: a leaf and egg, a monarch caterpillar, a chrysallis, and finally the monarch butterfly. I think children would love them, but perhaps that is just the teacher in me. My son is especially interested in all aspects of nature. I love buying my own children anything that is handmade and educational.

I have had the idea of making a small educational toy set for a while. Although my Monarch Butterfly pattern has been fairly popular, it does take quite a bit of work. I wanted to make it available as a finished item to anyone who might find the knitting (and embroidery) a little bit intimidating.

I have only made two of these metamorphosis sets so far, and they will be for sale in my Etsy shop. I'm in the process trying to expand the knitted items section of my shop. But am really trying to keep the items unique and quirky. So most of the items are one-offs. Much more fun for me if I can make items that are individual. In fact this collection is the only one where I have two identical sets for sale.

Thursday 21 March 2013

Leafy Cowl

Just a short post. We've had visitors, so I've been a bit preoccupied. This is the adult version of my leafy cowl. I thought I would try some autumnal colours, even though we are still hoping for Spring here. The pattern will go on ravelry, but I need to take some photos on a model first. I had my friend's daughter Hattie lined up for this weekend, but when I went round she was laid up with a cold, so we had to postpone our photo shoot.. 

In the background is Noodle, my very, very needy cat. If there is a lap available then Noodle will almost immediately find it. She does not discriminate in any way.

Saturday 16 March 2013

The Egyptian Hippopotamus

As I wandered round the British Museum with my camera, I found the Egyptian rooms. Filled with many amazing things, I once again decided for the purpose of my blog I needed to focus. I was struck by this small statue of a hippo, which in some ways looks remarkably modern. And as I went around the various glass cases, I started to notice more and more hippos. 

I do not associate Egyptians with hippos. But apparently they lived on the banks of the River Nile in Ancient Egypt, and were greatly feared, but also respected, which eventually led to them being worshipped.

These are small hippos around the edge of this dish.

Two Egyptian gods were represented by the hippo: Tauret was a goddess of fertility, representing childbirth. Women wore hippo amulets round the neck for  protection. While Seth, a god of violence, who represented the destructive forces of the Nile like excessive flooding. This seems contradictory, but it is easy to understand if you consider that the home of the hippos, the River Nile, was the source of fertility in the land, but could also be destructive.

The hippo was also represented by quartz figures using a process known as faience. These figures were usually used as grave goods, serving as protective figures for one’s journey through the Nile into the afterlife. The faience hippopotami were often decorated with lotus flowers, reeds, and other plants found living along the Nile, and were usually a beautiful turquoise or green color. Unfortunately despite hunting I couldn't find one of these, so here is a link to a photo of one.

Saturday 9 March 2013

"I'm Henry The Eighth I Am ..."

We had a school trip to Hampton Court Palace this week. I have some great photos of my class, which unfortunately I don't have permission to post, but here are a few that I can.

As we arrived at the palace we were greeted by this man, and we were convinced he must be Henry VIII. He told us he wasn't, but just a guard. 

The children were all slightly obsessed with the idea that we might see a ghost as some parts of Hampton Court are reportedly haunted. Some were fearful about this, but most gleeful. I had reassured some of the nervous ones that we almost certainly would not see any Tudors. But as we were just about to enter the Royal Appartments, when to our shock out burst a very grumpy Henry VIII. He ordered us out of the way, and then disappeared at speed down the stairs with one of his wives. For me me this was one of the highlights of the trip.

Later we were also impressed with some beautiful paintings. This one we learned could not actually have been sat for, as Henry is flanked by Edward VI and his mother Jane Seymour, who died shortly after his birth.

I also thought you might like to see this rather interesting royal toilet. How many royal botties might have sat here?

Sorry if the pictures are not the greatest quality, as I was snapping very quickly, while making sure we didn't lose anyone. Any school trip where you come back with the same number of children you set off with is a success!

Friday 8 March 2013

These Boots Were Meant for Walking ...

I have been thinking about feet quite a lot lately. Before embarking on something new I decided to make just one more pair of Baby Bee Booties with this lovely soft pink wool that I found in my stash. They are a bit compulsive. These ones are for sale in my Etsy shop. I have decided to never make a duplicate pair, as it is much more fun making them individual in some way. The pattern for these boots is available on ravelry, Craftsy or Etsy, and you can get there through the links in my sidebar.

After posting about the Leafy Cowl last Friday I somehow got up from the computer, and I think because I'd been sitting on my foot, got it caught in the chair, and fell over. Ridiculous I know. (As I was near the computer, and not the phone, I did for a few moments think I might have to blog for HELP!) My right foot is now one enormous bruise. I thought about putting on a photo, but it is so horrible it would probably scare anyone from my blog for good.

It is on the mend now, but I was housebound for most of the weekend, and going a bit stir crazy. It really made me consider how hard it is for folk who can't get out and about for whatever reason. 

Friday 1 March 2013

Leafy Child's Cowl

I've been working away at a new pattern, which I've decided to call The Leafy Cowl. (I toyed with the idea of calling it either the Fairy Cowl, or Pixie Cowl, but I think I have finally settled on Leafy.) It is knitted in Debbie Bliss Blue Faced Leicester Aran, but other similar weight wools would work well. The pattern is now available on Ravelry. Just click on the links in my sidebar.

This pattern has some simple cabling on the neck section, as I wanted it to be really cosy. It also has a tension gauge, a recommended wool and yardage details. 

I usually call my knits quick, but the leaves (of which there are 25 in all) took me two evenings to knit. I guess you might say that is not really long, but I had to knit a few prototypes before I did this final version, so feel a bit leafed-out. Compared with some of my other patterns there is quite a lot of knitting (and also running in of ends).

Here is Little One in the cowl, and I am in the process of knitting an adult version. At first she was a very reluctant model, until she decided to draw up a modelling contract where she gets a percentage of any pattern sales. We haggled a bit, as she tried to also get a flat rate for each photo I took. Smart girl, but since I take about 10 bad photos for every OK one I didn't agree to this! Sorry about our slightly shabby side alley. Originally I had decided to take some fairy photos in the woods with Little One posed on a tree stump in a dress, but in the end preferred these ones taken at home at the side of the house. This is a cowl for a girl who might turn her hand to a bit of carpentry or DIY.

Little One is ten, although very small for her age. The cowl would fit most children between 4 and 13. Teenagers and adults should wait for the adult size pattern. The cowl has a stretchy double cast-on edge, which is very elastic. If you are not familiar with the double cast-on method I have made a photo tutorial, which I have put in a new knitting tips corner that will remain in my sidebar. I am also thinking of doing a separate Baby Leafy Cowl, probably in a softer finer wool.

I'm really happy with how the cowl has turned out. It will be so useful, as it smartens up any outfit, and is very cosy, and I hope it has a quirky stylishness. I drew some of my inspiration from the flower fairy books, by Cicely Mary Barker.