Saturday, 27 February 2016

fo: stash buster blanket

 Ravelry project page - here
One of this month's crafty plans was to finish my stash buster blanket - and I managed this a little over 2 weeks ago. It's taken a long time to find the right light and time to take the pictures (that I could manage) and finally share this epic project with you. 

I started the blanket in July 2015 when I stumbled across this project on Ravelry and immediately wanted something like this blanket for myself. I wanted to make it as colourful as I possibly could, but didn't want to buy any extra yarn as I desperately needed (and, admittedly, still need) to make a significant dent in my yarn stash - hence the name of the blanket. I have a crazy amount of double knit weight yarn stashed, and lots and lots of colours I either had no idea what to use for, or not enough for a single project, so easy peasy off I went. 
I didn't do a tension square as, being a personal project to use up lots of yarn and a giant blanket I figured it wouldn't matter too much! I used a3.5mm crochet hook, and the finished blanket is 215 cm x 215 cm large (without blocking - way too big for that!). 

Apart from using the project on Ravelry as a guide, I didn't follow any set pattern. I started off aiming to make 6 large, traditional granny squares as in the original project to make the blanket, and finished my first square working 26 rounds in different colours. Having decided on the size for the square I thought that 9 might make a nicer blanket, and by nicer I mean giant and cuddly and easier to wrap myself in when its cold! 9 would also make a well-sized, square blanket which would easily cover a double bed spread or the back of a sofa better than a single bed sized blanket would. 

The colours I chose as I went along, with little/no planning at all. I was aiming purely to use up yarn, to make the blanket as colourful as I could, and I didn't want to worry about planning or anything like that, and considering the blanket was just for myself that seemed fair enough. It worked out pretty well. I did plan 2 of the squares a little more than the rest, because I opted to make them more patterned in an attempt to use up some colours that I had the most of (browns, pinks, and camouflage yarn I bought from a charity shop years ago). 

Now that the blanket is finished I probably wouldn't have done those 2 planned squares as I prefer the others considerably more, however I still love the blanket!

I joined the squares together using a simple, right side line of single crochet (UK double crochet) with pink yarn, using the step by step guide on Cherry Heart Crochet Corner. I then did a border of pink double crochet (UK triple crochet) around the whole blanket, followed by a border of navy double crochet to finish the blanket and just frame all the squares together. 

Super super happy with how this blanket turned out. I probably need to make 3 more to make a significant dent in the stash, but hey ho I made an effort :) perhaps it's finally time to attempt to make a granny square jacket? Just one for round the house though if its to look like the blanket above me thinks. 

Monday, 22 February 2016

knit in progress - sophie cardigan

I thought you might be interested in how I'm getting on with one of my crafty plans for this month - knitting a chunky cabled cardigan with some scrumptious Sirdar chunky yarn, a wonderful combination of wool, cotton and acrylic. 

When I first set out to start working on the cardigan, having already decided what yarn to use, I assumed I would find a great pattern online, download it, and off I would go. I even had my eye on the style of cardigan I really wanted to knit. My friend Sophie has a lovely M&S cardigan that just fits so nicely and hangs really well, and I love the cables on it.

Unfortunately I simply couldn't find a pattern that appealed to me or matched Sophie's cardigan. Not on Ravelry, not on Pinterest, not in my books, not anywhere. I was feeling a little like I'd fallen at the first hurdle.

Then, a niggling thought grew in my head, one that, once comprehended and given time, just couldn't be denied -  'why I don't I try and copy Sophie's cardigan myself, and make my own pattern?'

And so, I've found myself muddling to knit a chunky, cable-knit cardigan, with no pattern except copious amounts of pictures and measurements and far fewer swatches than should be allowed when trying to knit your own cardigan. I took my measurements, my pictures, my swatches, and I have begun the Sophie Cardigan.

I was luckily able to nail the tension pretty much straight away. I just counted the stitches in a 10cm x 10cm square on Sophie's existing cardigan and did my best to match that. I did this with 6.5mm knitting needles and the Faroe yarn - and because I'm making it up as I go I figure a few rows or stitches here or there can be rectified as I work (to the horror of all professional knitwear designers out there).

The above picture is my progress much earlier last week on the cardigan. I actually intended to have this post up days ago, but I've been pretty bed-ridden with the flu for 6 days and haven't been able to do anything. Yesterday was actually the first day I was even able to knit.

I will be sure to get some better pictures of the original cardigan itself soon, so you can see what I am modelling this on, but for now you can probably guess that the back piece has the main design point of a complex cable up the centre. I didn't know how to replicate Sophie's cable, so instead I scoured Pinterest and decided on this traditional Celtic Cable. It's grown substantially since this picture and it looks pretty neat!

My main concern with doing my own thing is the sleeves. I'm actually at the arm hole shaping now for the back panel and found this very informative video on YouTube. It seems a very simplified model on how to shape the sleeves, but as this is my first rodeo and I'm doing a baggy (as opposed to fitted) cardigan, this should serve my needs - I hope!

In fact, I've been so worried about the sleeves that I didn't realise my measurements have been off. Yesterday I finally felt up to a day of knitting in bed (bliss) and I set myself 48cm of knitting before shaping the armholes. With hindsight this should absolutely be 38cm! Tonight will be some careful ripping back - it's going to be a nightmare to work out where I am in the cable repeat ... at least this means my wool supply should go further than I thought :)

Except for this mistake, I am feeling very positive with the progress I've made so far, The texture of the yarn in moss stitch is so soft and glorious, and the cable is popping out nicely considering the variety of colours and textures that are emerging from the knitting. I was a little nervous it would get lost in the busy look of the cardigan but I think it's working quite well.

I'm keeping as detailed notes as possible in the hopes that I may be able to transfer this into a written pattern for the blog one day. Though I need to get my measurements under control, and really ought to test knit ... and it will only be one size (no way am I ready for sizing yet!) ... so don't get your hopes up.

Anyway, I hope to keep you updated and share some pictures once I have the back panel finished and get started on the front (armhole AND neck line shaping at the same time? What could possibly go wrong... ). In the mean time you can keep up with my progress over on the Ravelry project page. 

Sunday, 14 February 2016

fo: olivier the elephant

Pattern - Olivier
Yarn - black and white DK yarn from stash
Ravelry project page - here

Do you remember Nelly the elephant? Lord she was almost 2 years ago now! Well if you recall I made her for a friend, who liked her so much that before Christmas she requested I crochet her another elephant to give as a gift this Valentines Day. I finished Olivier last month and sent him down to London to be with his new owner, who should have him by now, so it's ok to introduce you.

I considered using the same pattern from All About Ami (translated) as I did for Nelly, however my friend ordered a black and white elephant, so I knew using a pattern which had separate body parts would be the best way to make a neat black and white elephant. Plus I always prefer trying new patterns.

Why black and white you say? Well it's all part of a story that occurred a few months ago and isn't really my place to retell, but it's now an in-joke referring to 'the elephant in the room' which makes for a cute (slightly jokey), personal Valentine's Day gift.

I say cute, I think the pattern is quite adorable. It is a free pattern which is very easy to follow. In order to personalise the colours I simply decided before I started which sections of his body should be black and white (trying to have each colour touching the other rather than itself) and got on with it. I only had to make one colour change on the body so it was truly a black and white elephant, rather than say a black elephant with white limbs. I used slightly too-large safety eyes to finish, mainly because they were what I had in the house, and also my personal preference is against small beadlike objects.

Give his large eyes I'd say he's come out rather well, and hopefully his new owners agree! There's just a lot of character in the shape of this pattern which translates very well into the amigurumi, and I would recommend it for any elephant fans. 

Monday, 8 February 2016

online knitter of the year 2016

I am so delighted to tell you (if you hadn't already heard on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook) that I have been awarded, along with 4 others, the award of Online Knitter of the Year in a competition hosted by Knit Now magazine! 

This was a competition that was open to readers before Christmas, and of course I entered the blog, along with 100 words as to why I thought I deserved to win. I quite cheerfully forgot all about the competition after hoping for a few weeks, and then 2 or 3 weeks ago I received an email from Kate Heppell (the editor) informing me that I had won! She asked that all winners keep hush hush until Issue 57 was sent out to subscribers on 1st February, and then the exciting tweet above meant I could start telling everyone!

there's my name!
As well as having my name and blog link printed in the magazine, I've also won a trip to Sirdar in West Yorkshire - which times beautifully with this month's crafty challenge, in that the cardigan I want to knit will be done using their super bulky Faroe yarn (I've knit hats with this before and do enjoy using it and how it looks). I don't know when the trip will be yet, but if I can get my skates on perhaps I can model the cardigan there. 

I will also be featured in a future issue of the magazine and will be able to attend a photo shoot. Finally I get to use the rather lovely button on my blog to the right there.

Thank you to Kate and Knit Now for this honour, I am still so excited and delighted and can't quite believe it! Stay tuned for more information about what I get up to on the back of this, and welcome to all new readers of the geeky knitter - I hope you enjoy my blog! :)

Monday, 1 February 2016

january crafting update, and crafty plans for february

Every month I aim to set myself, and complete, a ‘crafty challenge’ – a personal goal to help improve my knitting and crochet, and to embolden me to react to all the patterns and inspiration that is available on the internet! By sharing this with you I feel more encouraged to branch out and do these challenges by the end of the same month, and hopefully you will be interested in what I am working. Perhaps it will help inspire you to try something new as well?
8 of 9 giant granny squares completed
First of the month on the first day of the week - works out very tidy if you ask me. Unfortunately, my crafty plans for January haven't gone quite as tidily ... 

Do not cast on/hook up anything new - only work on current WIPS and aim to finish at least 1
Actually, in fairness, I did finish a WIP last month - the magnanimity cowl. This was definitely the project I had closest to completion anyway so it would have been embarrassing had I not finished it really, and in this I satisfied the aim to complete one project. 

That's pretty much where the success rate of last month stopped though. 

I did a lot of work on the stash buster blanket, but apart from this I didn't pick up a single other WIP :( I wanted to, but I had other things that were very pressing: I was asked to design a pattern for a Mother's Day inspiration guide; I fulfilled an order (more on this later this month); I started working on a new Eevee hat to sell (and didn't even finish); and I have 4 gifts that needed knitting ASAP and so had to cast these on (2 and half finished - need to get my skates on!).

So, alas, for me this month wasn't incredibly successful ... oh what am I saying, if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you will be aware of some rather exciting news to do with this blog! I will write a proper post on this later though ;)   

Anyway, now to this month's goals.

Finish the stash buster blanket
I started this in July 2015, and I made a lot of progress on this last month, so I really ought to finish it in February, while it's still cold and I can appreciate it on my bed! I only have one more giant square to crochet, then a LOT of ends to weave in and to join it all up! 
Knit (or start) a chunky cabled cardigan
You may remember that in November I visited the Knitting & Stitching Show in Harrogate, and I told you I bought myself lots of lovely things. This included a yarn pack of Sirdar Faroe Chunky, which I have knit with before, and I am eager to make a nice chunky cardigan with it. This should knit up quickly, if I can find the ideal pattern, and I would love to have this to lounge around in!
Here is to a more successful month, not only with my crafty plans, but in other exciting news as well! Stay tuned ;)