Monday 30 September 2013

Solar Flare Mug Rugs

I am slipping behind with Samelia's Mum's 52 Week Scrap Challenge. Nevertheless I am really pleased with my version of Sunny Mug Rugs from Week 8.

Once again I have slightly gone my own way. I have written before about my difficulty learning free motion machine sewing. I so love the results (other peoples' I mean), but it is clearly quite a skill, that I have not yet mastered. 

I also think I find it hard because not only have I not mastered the technique, but it also goes against my natural instinct, which is to have everything neat and tidy, even stitches, and no raw edges. Ok, I admit it, I'm probably a bit repressed.

I decided to make a set of four mug rugs, and partly because of the amount of material and wadding I had, to make them a bit smaller than Samelia's mums. I did intend to sew the points of the sun, and started with my centre circles, using a really bright fabric which used to be a lovely wrap-around skirt, but unfortunately I have expanded and it no longer wraps around me. 

As you can see my stitching went completely messy. But at least I do know why. My rugs were too small to fit in the embroidery ring, and I have not been able find a darning foot that fits my sewing machine. I was a bit distraught, and tempted to throw them in the bin, but then hubby said that they actually did look very sun-like - just like the solar flares that you see in photographs. So I decided to just go with it, and added some even more eratic edging. They didn't seem to need points, but I did hand sew some little twinkly gold stars.

And then I could let my inner repressed sewer, who likes everything to be neat, tidy and in boxes, express herself by sewing on different coloured binding. 

Time for a nice cup of tea I think, with a cheese and chive muffin.

Thursday 26 September 2013

Fair Isle and Fingerless

I have been knitting gloves this week. There seem to be so many patterns around for fingerless gloves and wristwarmers. Is it because we all need our fingers more these days? Tapping our PIN numbers in or texting while we are on the go. The reason I love them is they are so handy when your are out in the cold and taking photographs.

I found this pattern in a book in my local library, called Mollie Makes Christmas. It was full of lots of seasonal craft ideas, not just knitting. They are a pretty easy Fair Isle, as you never have more than two colours on each row.

This pair caused me some stress, as I thought I was going to run out of the brown wool. I didn't, but I spent much of the second glove thinking how I might have to adjust the pattern or unravel the first glove.

My daughter then said she would like a pair. So for her gloves I did alter the pattern a little. Her hands are smaller than mine, so I shortened the gloves. I missed off the garter stitch at the end, which was probably a mistake, as you can see they curl up a bit. I also reduced the colours, from seven on my gloves to just four, as I thought it would look a bit nicer. And less ends to run in! You will also see that I knitted the thumb in stocking stitch, as she said she would prefer this, and I think it does look nicer. 

The palm of the gloves is knitted in double rib.

Fair Isle Gloves Can Be Cool!

Saturday 21 September 2013

Peace and Love

I took both these photographs on a trip up to central London this summer. They sort of seemed to go together. 

In the first the street artists were letting tourists help draw their own country's flag, and then there was a sort of competition to see which nation would have the most coins.
This statue of Nelson Mandela is at the Southbank Centre.

Friday 20 September 2013

Snowdrop Shoes

Sorry guys, but I told you there were some more baby shoes in the pipeline. Once again knitted from my own pattern, these snowdrops are not very seasonal for England, but I am sure there are snowdrops blooming somewhere in the world. 

These were knitted in a lovely skein of Rowan wool, given to me by my sister in her pre-moving destash. She gave me some other skeins, in some lovely gentle colours which I am also going to knit up into little shoes.

Saturday 14 September 2013

Reminder of Summer

Since autumn definitely seems to have arrived here with a bit of a blast, I thought I would post this photo as a reminder of summer. I did not see many ladybirds (ladybugs if you are in the States) this year, but snapped this one in my back garden.

Friday 13 September 2013

Conkers Revisited

Last year at about this time I wrote about conkers. There was quite a bit of interest in the game of conkers, and apologies for repeating some of the photos and information below.

Conkers are the fruit of the horse chestnut tree. Finding a spikey green case,  slightly split open, and removing a shiny conker from its white cushion, is one of the pleasures of autumn. But it has been on my mind that my pattern did not include the conker case. So I have reworked the pattern adding a shell section. So now you can make a lovely little home for your conkers. The new pattern is available on ravelry.

The shell is knitted on just two straight needles and in two pieces: green and cream. So the only sewing up is joining the inner and outer shells. There is some short row knitting to create the curves. As you will see I have made two variations: a half shell, which is how I often find a conker on the ground, or the two halves sewn together so you can have your conker just peeping out.

The game conkers is played between two people. A hole is made in the conkers, and they are threaded on a piece of string. They take turns hitting each others conker with their own. Each player holds their conker out in front of themselves, and the other player takes a swing at it with their conker. The conker that breaks the other one is the victor. The dangers are that you can be hit by swinging conkers, which are quite hard, or being hit by flying shards of conkers when the hit is successful. Hard conkers usually win, but it is considered cheating to harden your conker artificially.  Apparently Michael Palin of Monty Python was disqualified from a conkers competition for baking his conker and soaking it in vinegar.

Then there is the whole business of scoring. A conker that defeats another is a oner, etc. But if a conker beats another conker, it also takes on that conker's score. So if a twoer beats a threer, it would become a fiver. It is that conker that takes the title, not the human swinging it! 

My new improved conker pattern and the horsechestnut leaf pattern are available on ravelry separately, or with a discount if you buy both together. Also my samples are available in my Etsy shop.

 Happy Autumn Conkering

If you haven't seen my little giveaway please Click Here. Thank you to everyone who has entered. Some of your entries have really made me laugh. There are still two weeks until I announce the winner. I would love to see some more entries from crocheters.

Friday 6 September 2013

Birdie Bucket Bag

I've been busy on the 52 Week Scrap Challenge again. This weeks challenge was to make a mini quilt, and I have only kept to the challenge loosely, as I decided to incorporate my applique birds into a bucket bag for my knitting projects. 

I did keep to the idea of using scraps, as this was all made with fabric I already had. You may notice my favourite vintage curtain fabric. I still have a whole untouched curtain of this fabric, so it may well turn up again. I love the gentle green, and the fact it is genuinely old, gives it a lovely soft feel. The cream is leftover fabric from some chair covers that I made.

For the birdies I used a mixture of spots and flowers. I wish now that I had photographed them in a line, before sewing the bag, but I forgot. The brown zigzag they are sitting on is meant to be a branch. Despite trying I just can't get to grips with free motion machine embroidery, so I edged the birds with a zigzag stitch, and then handsewed the beaks and feathers. 

The bag is made from a free tutorial from Craftsy. This is the first time I have followed a Craftsy lesson, and I'm sure will not be the last. It was very nice been shown all the sewing techniques, and it was easy to download the video and the paper pattern etc. I think this is going to be so useful for my knitting projects, and I can see myself making other bags for storage. Can you see the special pockets for my knitting needles?

Tuesday 3 September 2013

Unusual Uses For Knitting Needles - Giveaway and Linky

Have you ever had to put your knitting needles to an interesting or unusual use? This is my son who borrowed my needles to extract some snails from their shells in France. They did seem perfect for the job.

One of the reasons I find these pictures so funny are that he used to be the fussiest eater ever, but suddenly seems completely up for trying anything new. We also cooked scallops and mussels on our holiday, both of which he wolfed down. Although I like shell fish, I couldn't quite face the snails, so he had the lot.

I expect you will also notice the broken arm. He now has his cast off. Hubby is hard at work cooking something that is not snails in the back ground.

So if you have ever used your knitting needles or crochet hooks for anything unusual or a bit whacky then let me know. I was thinking I would give a prize for the strangest or funniest use. Given my photos I think the prize will be one of my knitted spiral shells. 

No limit on where you live, and I will announce the winner on 30th September. So to enter you can either leave a comment on my post, or on my GinxCraft Facebook page, or even better write a post about it and link it below. I have not done a linky page, so this is a bit of an experiment for me with the software. 

Let me know any of the above ways, and I have decided to let my son be the judge of the winner or winners!

Also apologies for the change in look of my blog. I somehow wiped the setting when doing the linky code, and although I have tried to reconstruct it, have not quite managed to get the same look. Perhaps I was due for a bit of a change.

I am also linking these shots to Saturday Snapshot at West Metro Mommy. Although I know most of you aren't knitters or into crochet, I thought you might find these pictures funny.