Thursday, 31 December 2015

2015 round up

I'm sure you are tired of hearing this, but I can't help but add my two pence to the pile; how fast did 2015 just melt away? Tonight I'm going to be welcoming in the new year at a video themed fancy dress party (oh yes, you read that correctly, so excited to dress up with my friends!) and if you follow me on Instagram you can see who I'm going to be, and I will try to share some pictures during the party too. 

Like most people as well I'm taking a little bit of time to look back on the year, and to think about how I might improve. I'm not one for New Years resolutions, but I am thinking on some sort of informal goals for myself that I can try to achieve in 2016. No need to worry about that until tomorrow though! Today I thought I would just compile some of my favourite posts and projects that I finished this year. 
And I would love to say thank you to everyone who reads this blog, has ever complimented my makes, bought anything (from me or any other small maker/designer) and here is to another great year of knitting, crochet, cosplay and blogging!

My favourite 2015 finished projects
Knitted Diplodocus Scarf - a birthday present for Ben that looks so awesome! He really loved it, which made up for the slightly endless stocking stitch (although it certainly filled my bus journeys to and from work).
Summer Tweed V-Neck - my first successfully finished jumper that I actually wear. It was a tricky pattern to read to, but once I had it all worked out it was so pleasing to get it worked up and finished, particularly with the lovely colour changing yarn.

Various crocheted Pokemon - including Eevee, Squirtle, Magikarp and Azurill
I love love love Pokemon, as perhaps you can guess. Perhaps an aim for 2016 should be to make even more, who should I make first hmm?

Knitted Eevee Hat - one of those projects that was in my mind for months and months, and then when I finally gave it the time it came out exactly how I hoped it would! Everyone complimented this hat a lot, and every one I made to sell on Etsy sold really quickly, so I need to get my skates on and make more next year. 
Crocheted Jedi Totoro - this was one of those patterns I stumbled across on Ravelry and knew that id I didn't make him my life wouldn't be complete! Combining two of my favourite things - Totoro and Star Wars in a amigurumi full of life, pure crochet bliss. 
My favourite 2015 blog posts 
Can I call myself a super fan? This was a short reflective post about the Tom Felton BBC documentary about 'super fans' and comic cons, and the lengths that fans of shows and films and books that I love will take their appreciation on the shows. Writing about how I thought this applied to me was fun, and reminded me of writing good essays at university (such a dork).

London Comic Con; The Stuff and The Cosplay London in May was a huge, fun comic con at which I took so many great pictures, and I really love seeing all the costumes and dressing up myself, as well as coveting pretty much everything available to buy there.  

A day in Blackpool This was a post that is a little different from my usual post topics, where I spent the day in Blackpool with Ben practising my photography. Some of the pictures we ended up taking were really splendid (if amateurish, but that's fine!) and everything looks good in black and white after all

Thanks for reading everyone! Have a great, safe New Years Eve and come back tomorrow when I start sharing crafty plans again, and some very loose goals for 2016.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

the geeky knitter christmas craft swap - round up!

First things first - a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all readers of the geeky knitter! I've been very quiet this and last month, mainly because I had several large Christmas presents to finish and every spare minute of my day was spent on them! I will show you some nice pictures of the best ones early January - right now I am busy preparing costumes for me and Ben; we are going to a video game themed New Year's Eve party, VERY excited!

I wanted to catch up with you all now though to let you know that the first ever craft swap that I have hosted has been a resounding success! Although I only had 10 people sign up (11 swappers including me) I got to know a lot of the participants (those I didn't already know of course), no complaints as far as I can tell, and some beautiful items were made and sent out pretty much on time! 

First I want to show you what I made and sent out to Leigh, and then a lot of swappers have kindly sent and shared pictures of all their makes and given me permission to share them with you so you can see what we got up to!
And before I get to the pictures, I will certainly be hosting more swaps next year! In a few month's time I think I will have an international geeky-themed swap (theme to be finalised) so watch this space, and also another Christmas swap will be had next year.
The items I sent:
A hand coloured Christmas Card, using black ink pen.
A mildy terrifying crocheted Bulbasuar (I couldn't get the eyes!!) - you can find the pattern here.
Knitted cable beret - inspired by Mary Margaret's hats in the first season of Once Upon a Time. This was the 'big' knitted gift in the swap and I really hope Leigh likes it/got the OUaT reference! You can find the pattern here.
Knitted Christmas bauble - a pattern from my Arne & Carlos book 55 Christmas Balls to Knit
Some extra stationary bits and pieces
 Some other items that were sent:
Cath sent to Joan
Elise sent to Philippa
Just some of what Joan sent to Cath
Leigh sent to Tina
Just some of what Marc sent to Rhiannon.
Tina sent to me - I love it all!
Phewee - what a fantastic haul, don't you think? Everyone has put some spectacular thought and effort into the swap and I am so delighted with how everyone got on! I really can't wait to sort another craft swap in 2016, and once again thank you to everyone who took part this year - well done guys! 

Sunday, 13 December 2015

fun-to-make christmas holiday crafts (guest post)

A week or so ago I was approached by Amy, who had read my blog and asked if she could write a guest post for me. We emailed back and forth a little (thank you Amy for your patience with me!) and I am delighted to share with you the Fun-to-Make Christmas Holiday Crafts ideas that Amy has so wonderfully compiled!
All of these crafts would be ideal last minute gifts and decorations, particularly if, like me (and every knitter ever) you have an abundance of yarn lying around just waiting to be used! But enough from me - over to Amy! 
And if you want to get in touch about possibly writing a guest post as well, don't hesitate to email me -
Fun-to-Make Christmas Holiday Crafts

Christmas is the best time of the year for many reasons, but home decorating is something we all look forward to. While you are deciding on Christmas tree colours combination, consider also some modern decorating ideas for the rest of your home. Yarn is a perfect wintry choice for holiday ornaments, it fits into modern decorating trends perfectly and you can get cheap yarn online, and from various other retailers depending on which country you are in!
If you are not sure what to do with yarn, here are some suggestions.
1. Yarn-Wrapped Letter Ornaments
image source
For a large yarn-wrapped monogram you will need cardboard (you can use an empty cereal box), a few balls of yarn in different colours, pencil, ruler, scissors, and some tape. First, draw the letter on the cardboard, then cut it out. Use thicker cardboard to get a 3-dimensional letter. Choose three different colours of yarn. You might want to stick to the traditional Christmas red-green-white combination, or try something original. Tie the ends of the three balls together, secure them with masking tape and simply wrap the yarn around the cardboard letter.
2. Embroidery Hoop Wall Decoration
image source
Embroidery hoops are a very versatile DIY way to decorate your home. Even kids can get crafty with them easily. Make an embroidery hoop wreath for your door, or a photo frame. With some chalkboard fabric and a hoop, you can make clever signs for your kitchen, for example, or make a bulletin board with cork, or simply stretch a fabric in the hoop, and make art with stencils and paint. Use different sized hoops to add dynamics to your walls.

3. Yarn-Wrapped Bottle
image source
A little glue and some old bottles can turn into a perfect centrepiece of your holiday home. Choose the colour of yarn smartly to match your Christmas tree. You will also need some multipurpose glue to cover the surface of the bottle in order for the yarn to stay in place. Start wrapping. Do not cover the entire bottle with glue immediately because the glue will dry. Go piece by piece. Once you have wrapped the whole bottle, do not forget to add a large dab of glue to the edge of the yarn to secure it. Repeat the steps if you have more bottles.
4. Yarn-Wrapped Flatware 
image source
Dress up your table for the occasion. Start with flatware handles. Do it in one colour, in contrasting colours, stripped, or create the ombre effect. It looks good both on wooden or silver flatware. To create the ombre effect, pick three shades of one colour, take the darkest shade of embroidery floss first, glue its end to the back of the utensil handle and wrap about 1/3 up the handle. Continue by twisting the darkest floss with the second darkest shade, wrap them together three or four times and move on with the second darkest shade. Repeat with the third and lightest shade. 
This is just the beginning. Employ your imagination to make the most original ornaments while having fun.

About the Author

Amy Mia Goldsmith is a literature graduate with a lot of different interests in life. She and her husband love DIY projects and design. You can contact her at her Facebook page or Twitter account.


Thursday, 10 December 2015

knitting & stitching show - harrogate

Towards the end of November (Thursday 26th if you want to be exact) I spent the day at the Knitting & Stitching Show, in Harrogate. This was a reasonably last minute thing - I actually joined a college day trip to the show, the college I went to a few years ago and that my sister now works at (took a class coach and everything!) and I asked dad if the ticket and some pennies could be my birthday present (which was 2 days ago - oh, thank you so much! :p )

What what what an excellent choice that was! Think, comic-con, but just a little slower (I, and the rest of the college trip, we most certainly at the lower end of the age spectrum - just an observation), with fewer costumes, and filled with SO MANY MORE temptations! And also SO MUCH BIGGER - it was held at the Harrogate International Centre, and from what I could tell it filled up the whole darn centre! I think there were 6 halls in all, 5 of which were filled to bursting with knitting, crochet, dyers, spinning, needle felting, sewing, quilting (you get the picture), and 1 hall devoted to workshops and various guilds. There was a lot to look at and a lot to wander through - which is amazing, as long as you don't desperately need a wee after a 2 hour coach journey and a large flask of coffee ...

crocheted flamingo at Toft - I was told, if I remember correctly, it took 6 people a week to crochet this 6 foot (at least!) bird

The Toft stand had to be one of my most favourite stands of the show. Do you know Edward's Menagerie? I have the book, but have yet to get round to allowing myself to make something from it - just feast your eyes on all of these gorgeous toys, and sumptuous balls of wool. I almost almost almost bought myself a kit, but alas I was too 'sensible' (stupid?) for my own good.

In the end, because I don't know terribly much about Indy yarns and what to do with luxury, expensive skeins, I treated myself to two bulk packs from the 'pile up' at Black Sheep Wools (a website I know and like). I bought a Rico and a Sirdar pack, ought to get a couple of jumpers out of them one day. The lovely chap who sold them to me also knocked a little off the price, because he saw me snapping pictures and asked why. I told him about my blog (and how it's just a hobby) and also that I finished a spice of life blanket a month ago (gosh time flies) and he was kind enough to round the price down ever so slightly - not loads, but enough that I thoroughly appreciated the gesture.

mmm so - much - yarn 
I had such a wonderful day and I am delighted to report that I spent all of my birthday money on wool and fabric - as it should be for a geeky knitter, who is currently attending a Tuesday evening dressmaking course and loving it. Side note - I am working on a complicated dress which, when finished, might even be good enough to share and this little patch of internet, what do you think? 

I will definitely be wanting to attend next year's show (1st-4th December, even closer to my birthday! Coincidence?) and couldn't recommend visiting the show enough, just make sure you have plenty of pocket money saved up for it!

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

fo: knitted christmas decorations

Patterns -'Running Reindeer' Christmas Ball by Arne & Carlos
                   Mini Christmas Stocking by Julie Williams
                   Christmas Pud by Sue Stratford

This was a set ordered by my brother's girlfriend, as a Christmas gift for a friend of hers. These are actually the first lot of Christmas decorations I have had a chance to knit this year, and it is all very dangerous now because I want to keep knitting them to go with all my gifts for friends/family, and to cover my tree (ashamedly this isn't up yet because we are expecting new curtains - as soon as they are up though BOOM Christmas in the house!). I will just have to stick with what time I have!

These were such fun to work up, all on 3.25mm needles, with various DK weight yarn, and the size of the projects meant I only needed to dive into my stash to get what I needed. I am a tight knitter and, even though I think all the patterns call for 3/3.25mm needles and 4-Ply yarn, I don't ever have this to hand so the DK worked almost to scale. Who does tension squares for this sort of thing anyway?

I was very excited when she got in touch with me, particularly about the Arne & Carlos ball, as I treated myself to 55 Christmas Balls to Knit last month and hadn't quite got round to having a go at any yet. Since knitting this set, I've done the Reindeer 3 times - quite ready to try one of the other 54 to choose from! I can't handle double pointed needles at the moment though, particularly as I do a lot of knitting while waiting for the bus to and from work. Luckily I managed to knit the Arne & Carlos on circular needles, using the magic loop method. Surprisingly, the Christmas pud is knitted flat and sewn up - doesn't look it, right?!

I love hand knitted decorations so much, and I am really glad someone else did enough to ask me to make them! They are satisfying to make, and a joy to look at, particularly the more intricately patterned ones. They all look quite good together as a set as well, so hopefully the recipient will enjoy them on their tree this year.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

candy cane headband - free knitting pattern

A few weeks ago I was approached by Wren Kitchens, who told me about a new campaign the company were launching called #24DaysofWren, in which people like myself would share some how-to Christmas DIY blog posts to encourage people to get into the spirit of making something creative this Christmas! You can find the lovely interactive calendar here.
Being a knitting blog, it only made sense that I should write a knitting pattern to share, and the great news is that regular readers of the geeky knitter of course get to take advantage of this too! I've always wanted to try my hand at knitting cables with more than one colour, and inspired by my own chunky cable knit headband pattern I made some changes to bring you this candy cane inspired knitted headband.
If you aren't a beginner, by all means scroll straight down to the pattern! For knitting newbies though, be sure to read some of the instructions I give below the picture.
For all you new readers and knitting newbies, before trying this pattern out it would be worth looking up some of the below links to help get you into knitting. 
  • Learn how to knit with Knitting Help or Learn with Leanne via the Love Knitting blog
  • Practice your cable knitting with my easy to follow, chunky cable knit headband pattern
  • An introduction to knitting cables with 2 colours from Modernly Vintage. I will do my best to explain as we go in the pattern below, but this might help you to get your head round the idea first!
  • The Idiot's Guide can help you with the colour work, although not strictly intarsia knitting, the twisting of the different colours behind your work will help to minimise gaps - and no, I do not think you are an idiot!!

Finished Size
This pattern will fit an adult's head, with the finished circumference about 54cm/21 1/2 inches - it's quite a loose fit, but is so thick it will still keep your head warm! Use smaller needles/yarn if knitting for a child and adjust your length accordingly.
10 stitches x 12 rows = 10cm x 10cm in stocking stitch

9.5mm straight knitting needles (or to match tension)
Large cable needle
Chunky red yarn (I used Cygnet Seriously Chunky)
Chunky white yarn (I used Cygnet Seriously Chunky)
Tapestry needle 
We are working with 2 different colours so I will refer to colour A (white) and colour B (red). You could try swapping these round, or substituting your own colour choice if you're not looking for a Christmas headband. 
Between colour changes, twist your 2 yarn strands behind your work once so to minimise gaps in your knitting. Don't do this too tight - with the chunky yarn you should be ok :) I've tried to take pictures of the twisting yarn, but check The Idiot's Guide if you need some help. 
k = knit
p = purl
C4B = slip next 4 stitches to cable needle, hold behind your work, knit next 4 from other needle and then knit 4 from the cable needle 
Cast on 12 stitches with A
Row 1 - knit
Row 2 - knit
Row 3 - p2, k4, k4 with B, p2 with A (from now on, always knit colour A on A, and colour B on B)
Row 4 - k2, p4 with B, p4 with A, k2
after row 3 your work should look something like this
Row 5 - p2, C4B (A), k4 (B), k4 from cable needle (A), p2
Row 6 - k2, p4, p4 (B), k2 (A)
Row 7 - p2, k4 (B), k4 (A), p2
Row 8 - k2, p4, p4 (B), k2 (A)
Row 9 - as row 7
Row 10 - as row 8
Row 11 - p2, C4B (B), k4 (A), k4 from cable needle (B), p2 (A)
Row 12 - k2, p4 (B), p4 (A), k2
Row 13 - p2, k4, k4 (B), p2 (A)
Row 14 - k2, p4 (B), p4 (A), k2
Row 15 - as row 13
Row 16 - as row 14
Repeat the cable pattern as shown between ** ** until the piece measures just around your head. I repeated the pattern 3 times, less the last 2 rows.
TO FINISH - knit one row in colour A, then cast off and sew ends together.
cable pattern - Rows 5-16
in the two pictures above you can see how I've twisted the yarn between colour changes.You don't need to pull too tight on chunky yarn, it does the work for you!
the back of your headband will look something like this
the finished headband laid out before sewing
 And there you have your very own candy cane style headband! It does wear a little big and bright, but what better way to celebrate Christmas! If you spot any problems with the pattern or have any questions do drop me a comment or email and I will do my best to help out!
This pattern can be found in the Ravelry database here.