Wednesday, 30 March 2016

yarn along

the secret project - not a secret for much longer undoubtedly
It's just a quick yarn along post today - I've been pretty busy which feels great, particularly as for some reason I've felt a little in a crafting slump this month, but that's gotta be just mentally because I think I'm doing as much as I usually do. 

I finished baby Jolteon this week, which was very satisfying! You can read more about him in yesterday's blog post. I've diligently started the Sophie Cardigan front panels again after my upsetting realisation that they were originally too narrow (I'm going much faster now because I know what the cables are all about!). 

But the best thing has to be how the secret project is coming together! Perhaps it's not so secret now if you take a look at the picture above, but why not carry the suspense along for a little longer, eh?

I also hope to finally get something new listed in the Etsy shop later today or tomorrow, so be sure to watch out there!

Ok, so the crafting slump may well all be in my head... :)

And of course I am still reading The Mad Ship, by Robin Hobb. It's just such a big read, and I do most of my reading on the bus to work, but with the long Easter weekend I haven't had a bash at it for a few days. Eagerly back on the task now though :) You can keep up with me on Goodreads as well.

Monday, 28 March 2016

fo: crochet baby jolteon

Pattern - Baby Jolteon
Ravelry project page - here
Here we are at the end of March, and I've just finished one of this month's crafty plans - which should probably tell you all you need to know about how the other has come on ... But of the two I had aimed to complete this month, crocheting another Pokemon was certainly the more exciting (if less productive) of the two. 

I have said it before, and I will say it again - I simply adore Evelyn Pham's patterns, they are the sort of geeky designs I aspire to be able to create one day (soon, if I can manage it). Even if you aren't one for crochet, you simply must check out her Deviant Art page and Instagram account - everything she makes is a work of art. 

Much like Squirtle and Eevee, Jolteon is made up of core crocheted body parts - body, head, ears and limbs - and has the same delicate shaping on the head for the nose and cheeks. This shaping really makes all the difference in the finished look and really helps to guide where you should attach the eyes and nose. 

The 'tail' was a little bit more difficult as there was no written instructions included in the pattern except for 'crochet some trianlges' - I think I muddled through however, using pictures of Jolteon himself. The ears have a little extra detail on the edge, made using a smaller crochet hook (though I forgot to switch back up to the larger crochet hook so the ears are possibly a little smaller than they should be - I think I get away with it though). The mane is simply cut out from felt and sewn/glued into place. 
Eyes and ear detail are cut from felt, sewn into place and then felted to make more secure, and to blend onto the amigurumi a little more nicely. Evelyn felts her details directly onto the dolls, but I'm not very good at that so this is the best I can do! I think it works very well, certainly worth the extra felting after cutting the shapes out.

I think the 'finish' on Jolteon isn't as good as on Eevee, by which I mean the added extras on top of the crocheted base, but that will be down to fur vs felt mostly. I actually think I made Jolteon the best and most neatly of the three Pokemon I have made from these patterns and as a result he is my (new and current) favourite. And I was hoping that Jolteon would turn out the same size as Eevee, but he is significantly smaller ... I must be working more tightly these days, or the yarn tension is totally off (even though both were double knit, they are different brands).

I am very happy, once again, with another crocheted Pokemon to add to my continually growing collection, and I am already thinking on which one I should do next. 
I can't recommend these patterns highly enough to any Pokemon fans out there!

Saturday, 26 March 2016

sophie cardigan progress

Well it's been a little while since I last updated you properly on the Sophie Cardigan and I'm getting my skates back on. Just a quick reminder, this is the project I started last month, based on a cardigan that my friend Sophie owns which I love, but couldn't find a pattern that inspired me to make it, so I am making one up.

As you can see in the pictures the back panel is now finished! I had originally knit this piece way too long and had to rip it back quite far down to start reshaping the armholes again. That was a little disheartening and complicated when it came to re-ordering the cable pattern back on the needles, but it looks like I managed it ok and it is totally worth it. I didn't want a long cardigan like I would have ended up with. I am aiming to knit simply an oversized cardigan.

The cable, complete up to the top of the panel, looks absolutely brilliant. If you want the pattern for the cable, I used this free Celtic Cable pattern. I will be adding a button band and neck band as one piece (I think) when the main sections of the cardigan are knit up, so the cast off row at the top will be more finished then.

So the next sections to work on had to be the front panels. I opted to do both the left and the right at the same time because, even though more complicated (particularly as I need to make the pattern up as I go), this is how I prefer to knit matching pieces now, it helps to ensure the length of the pieces match exactly. 

The main difficulty I've found with working on a project such as this (with no pattern and all design elements compiled by me) is the motivation to keep at it, especially when it gets quite difficult. The front panels have been difficult because I wanted 2 cables going up each one - one complex, similar to the back cable, and one simple 6-stitch cable. This, while working 2 pieces at the same time! I am no where near being able to design my own cables, so it was back to Pinterest to find a cable I thought would work. I eventually settled on a cable chart used in a 2014 issue of Let's Knit magazine for a cushion cover*. It seemed to incorporate exactly what I wanted, and I even knew I had the issue of the magazine in question somewhere so I didn't even need to print anything off! 

As you can see below, the cables started off looking pretty neat and I think they will make a good front of the cardigan.

I did the maths for the stitch counts and what not, cast on, and off I went. I confused myself a little bit with how I should be reading the chart with the left and right panels, making sure they mirrored each other in the way I wanted to, but I muddled through and knit what you can see above.

The best laid plans though ...

I wasn't totally happy with how close the more complex cable were to the edge of the piece, and though I kept telling myself it will all look fine once the button band was on there, it was an annoying niggle. And when  you are knitting something you aren't totally happy with, you don't really knit it that much and instead work on other projects! As a result I left the cardigan for a bit and then came back to it a week or so ago. I knit some more of the panels, then laid everything out for the pictures and to decide how best to shape the neckline. It was here I realised that the panels weren't nearly wide enough! I didn't really take into account how much the cables would pull all the work in together and make it more narrow.

I spent a few minutes trying to convince myself it was ok and I should just carry on and block block block them into shape. But I knew really I had to start on Thursday of this week I unravelled all my hard work (*tears*) and started again.

As hard as that was I already feel so much better with how they look! I've already worked up to the first section of the cable again and now I have a better idea of what I want and how long it will take I know I will catch back up with myself in no time, and I ought to be starting the sleeves within 2 weeks at the least (woo hoo!). I've also been able to add an extra 5 stitches to the other side of the complex cable so it is no longer right on the edge and it will look so very much better, and will help the neckline shaping as well. 

I don't think I will ever get tired of looking at this back cable - mmmmm
So that's where I am now. Pretty much as I was the last time I wrote about the cardigan - muddling through, and something had to be unravelled to be knit again. I think (hope) it will all be worth it though! Hope you agree - and if you have any helpful hints on how to shape a neckband let me know! I am going to work it as a deep V-neck I think.

*If I ever decided to write up this pattern as a free pattern/tutorial for the blog, Sarah Neal (editor of Let's Knit) has kindly given me permission to use the same cable pattern/chart. I emailed the magazine a few week's ago and she got back to me with some kind words about the blog too - that was a nice message to receive :)

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

yarn along

I promise you, it won't just all be yarn along posts for much longer on the blog! I've been very busy at work this past week (MUCH busier than is usual) and so haven't had the heart, or the inclination, to get back on the computer at the end of the day to do my blogging. As a result though, I've made significant progress in some of my larger projects, which should mean there are plenty of finished off posts coming your way, and even an exciting free, geeky crochet tutorial on the horizon!

I have been having a lot of fun on Pinterest though recently - I mean, I always do, but I'm going crazy for Pokemon Crochet at the moment and need to make more - must finish Jolteon first!

As ever, I'm linking up to Ginny's weekly Yarn Along (though last week I actually forgot to add my link - duh - so if you missed last week's update you can find it here).

I've made some significant progress up the front panels of the Sophie Cardigan - finally I know. Enough so that I will write a more detailed post on this at the weekend. I never tire of the wool that I am currently using, it feels so lovely and the colours are just the right amount of fun :)

The grand total of squares for the secret project is now at 199 (man I wish I did one more yesterday so I could say 200!!). I am just about 20 or so short from being ready to put this together, (with the option at another 70 more ... ) but I've given you a sneak peak of what to expect when it all comes together. Going to put some films on this weekend and weave in all those ends. Oh god, all those ends!!

I've finished the first book of The Liveship Trader trilogy by Robin Hobb, and so begins book two The Mad Ship. WELL what excitement the first book ended on. Hobb finished the first book off just enough that I'm not left frustrated that I desperately need to get on book two straight away, but enough happened at the climax to keep me in awe and, with characters becoming more in some ways and less in others, I'm intrigued to find out what will be happening and how more lives will become entwined. 

Find me on Goodreads.

In other news, I finished House of Cards Series 4 a few days ago - pheeewwweeeee, the Underwoods never fail to entertain while simultaneously make me feel uncomfortable at what I'm watching, and grossly fascinated. The series ended on SUCH a note (no spoilers!) and I'm cursing the inevitable long wait we have for series 5 now. 

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

yarn along

I'm always slightly disappointed if, when Wednesday rolls around, the day isn't especially windy, because I do love to channel Winnie the Pooh in wishing everyone a happy 'winds-day'. I ought not to complain: the sun is shining here in Stockport and has been for a couple of days (vastly lifting my day to day mood, even though I love winter - bizarre I know) - but its the little things that help carry use through hump-day. 

As lacking as we are in windy weather, at least I can wish you a happy yarn along day!

Even though I've set myself both a personal, and a 'productive' (i.e. design/money saving related) crafty goal for this month, nothing will stop me when I see something, or have an idea, and need to start work on it as soon as I possibly can - to the point I sketch and work out dimensions at my desk at work while wishing I could get started at home. I've designed a geeky baby-sized blanket which I am furiously working on during my morning and evening commute as I want to show you all as soon as possible - I think it should be pretty neat!

So, I've started this new design project, while still picking up the Sophie Cardigan on the odd evening (man the cable's are really just enveloping my life - I must update you on that soon) and baby Jolteon has sort of fallen to the wayside. He at least doesn't have much left to do before he is finished so that's fine.  

I just want (need) to crochet so many of these mini-squares!

If my maths is correct, I will need (either) 300 or 228 squares - all will be revealed in due course. 

My Instagram followers will also have seen the progress I've been making on my Fairy Tale Cape - this is a big sewing project, but still worth mentioning because it's taking up a lot of my time (in a good way!). I've also cut the pieces for a pair of lounge trousers at my weekly dressmaking class, and I swear I've never been more excited to see pattern pieces on the table! Hopefully they will be good enough to show you when they are finished. 

I'm still making my way through Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb. Over 750 pages in, the story is getting much more complex and tense, and the end is in sight. After a long book I usually like to break it up with a short easy book, but I might just have to progress straight onto book 2 of the trilogy! I need to know what happens with the ship, it's all building up to something ...

Be sure to find me on Goodreads - particularly you fantasy and historical fiction fans!

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

yarn along

Well goodness me, I haven't done a yarn along post since November when I finished the Spice of Life blanket. I've been focussing more on finished off posts, but I realised yesterday that, this month, last month, and I am sure in the coming months, all of my projects are pretty big ones and the gaps between my blog posts are widening somewhat. What better way to get back on track than to jump back on Ginny's weekly yarn along

Any die hard readers out there (if there are any) may recall, if they try very very hard to, that I sort-of off-hand mentioned a knitted blanket that has forever been in my WIP pile. I started this blanket in my final year of university (2013) and I must say that since May 2014 not too much has changed. I've been knitting the odd square again for the blanket, and I'm sure my interest in this will falter again shortly but best to cultivate it while I can!

Who's that Pokemon?! Well it's not too much of a surprise as crocheting this little guy is one of my crafty plans for March. So here you see the progress I'm making on Baby Jolteon - I do love Evelyn's patterns so much and aspire to write my own as great as hers one day!

I'm also slowly working my way up the front 2 panels of my Sophie Cardigan - I've opted for 2 cables on each panel, and working both panels at the same time, so progress is understandably slow!

Completely unrelated to knitting or crochet as well, I'm sewing myself this Fairy Tale Cape using some lovely brown wool-like fabric, and a cheerful lining (with little images of forest creatures!) which I hope to show you in a week or so once finished. It should be great to wear, once spring starts peeping out of hibernation - did anyone else have crazy snow last Friday? 

I'm currently reading Ship of Magic (Book 1 of The Liveship Traders trilogy) by Robin Hobb. This is an epic fantasy, centred around a Liveship trader family, while following the tales of other characters in the world (sea serpents included!). Liveships are fashioned out of 'wizardwood' and, once 'quickened', they become self-aware and almost alive. This is a wonderful story, filled with great characters and character development, and well-balanced between men and women and the various struggles they face in the world created by Hobb. It's a bit of a beast (I'm currently on page 566 of 880) but once you get drawn it it's totally worth it! Big recommendation for epic fantasy fans, and anyone looking for a great female author.

Don't forget that you can find me on Goodreads

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

february crafting update, and crafty plans for march

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?
February has been a pretty productive month craftily speaking -  something I feel very pleased about considering that I was ill in bed for almost a week, and also had a mini-holiday with Ben in York for 4 days (BLISS!) in which I drank too many cocktails to knit effectively. I set myself 2 goals - I completed one and made a significant start on the other!

Finish the stash buster blanket
As you can see in the picture above, voilĂ ! I finished the blanket about half-way through February and you can read more about it, and see plenty more colourful pictures, on the blog post I've written about it. I'm actually sat with the blanket over my legs right now and I am really delighted with it! Lots of lovely compliments have been paid too which is so lovely, thank you guys!
Knit (or start) a chunky cabled cardigan
Now this is a heck of a lot more exciting than I intended it to be! If you read my post about this project earlier in the month, you'll have read that, being unable to find a good enough pattern for the yarn and what I envisioned, I've instead decided to knit my own cardigan, with no pattern and only copying a cardigan I really like which my friend Sophie owns. I'm calling this the Sophie Cardigan and I have now completed the back panel. I'm waiting to make a start on the front panels before I share some more updates with you. 
And so, to this month's plans. I've again decided to set myself two goals, as well as working on other things (such as the Sophie Cardigan) as I go. 

Crochet another baby Pokemon 
If you recall, last year I crocheted quite a number of Pokemon. My favourites are easily the baby Pokemon designed by Evelyn Pham - she designs perfect amigurumi based on things that I love (Disney, Pokemon, Totoro, Spirited Away eeeep you absolutely need to follow her on Instagram by the way) - and I've already made Eevee and Squirtle. I would love to make all the Eeveelutions and so this month I want to get on with that and work on Jolteon.  
List at least 2 new products on our Etsy shop 
If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen that I was working on something a little different, with a view to selling it on Etsy. I've not listed it yet because I'm struggling to get good pictures, but I aim to do better this month (more daylight!) and while I'm at it I have a few ideas that I need to just get behind, get the momentum, and start filling up mine and Ben's Etsy shop more. 
Don't forget, we already have plenty up for sale and you can always find our shop via the button on the right!
Have you got any crafty plans for this month?