Saturday, 14 August 2010

This week I have been mostly...

...making coil bowls and taking pictures of random things while out and about in London. And knitting of course. Random first.
Crayon Shoes
Pooch thinks it is wrong to take pictures of people on the tube without asking them. And I agree that taking pics of people's faces or up their skirts or something is very dodgy. But I think bags is justifiable. And shirt pockets when suitably positioned.
What would YOU keep in that pocket?
Is it possible the bag says something in braille?
An adult woman was using this. Perfect

Thinking back to the bracelets - when I channelled by inner-17-year-old - I took another challenge on this week and finally made some coil bowls. I'd bought the stuff about 5 years ago but had convinced myself it would damage my sewing machine. But then I saw them being demonstrated again at Knit Nation. 
It really was that easy just to run one up. A few 1" strips (much less than I would have thought too) and there I was. And it is already in use at work!
Then to top it all Pooch asked me to make him one - he never asks me to make him things!? He wanted turquoise. 
I used up some other bits and bobs too to make stripes. 

It is Pete's birthday today and so I finally finished the zip of the Steggie I made for him. There is a party tomorrow so I just hope it fits. 

I've also been doing some more 'normal' knitting too. Using the unique sheep yarn I bought online about 6 months ago, but then was reminded about when I saw it for sale at Knit Nation. 
I may not have bought much there but it certainly has caused me to get crafty! The socks use 4 mini skeins which I move between to get the colour variation. It's not seamless but I quite like the effect. These are the first xmas presents I have made - which reminds me! I'll post the winner of the podcast competition very soon....

Friday, 13 August 2010

Knitting Bag from a Scarf

I bought some beautiful vintage scarves when my sister was here a few weeks ago. I thought at the time they would make good knitting bags. Here is the story of what happened to the first one.

  • Scarf - big enough to be folded in two and make a bag. 
  • Lining - same size as the part of the scarf you want to use.
These can be any materials at all but two slippery materials will be harder to sew than one slippery and one cotton type or two cottons.
  • Ribbon for drawstring - you need 4.5 x the width of the bag
  • pins, thread, scissors (rotary cutter etc makes straight cuts easier but not essential)
I gathered my materials together. I used a cotton FQ as the lining but you could be cunning and use another scarf.
I liked the red band at the top of the scarf so I used the two ends and cut out the middle.
I wasn't paying any attention to measurements - I just cut a length that looked good in relation to the width of the scarf. I cut the lining the same size.

I put the lining right sides together and sew straight round 3 sides, leaving the top open. Then I put the right sides of the scarf together and sewed across the bottom and then up the sides - but leaving about 1cm unsewn where the red band started to add the fastening later on. See cunning digram.
Red arrows show where the line of stitches skips a centimetre.

For me, this is the most difficult step because it totally defies logic and I don't have a picture because I did it wrong (again) the first time and had to rip back and start again. So...deep breath. Turn your lining right side out and press the seams. Leaving the scarf with right sides together. put the lining pouch inside the scarf pouch and match up the top edges. Pin around the edge so you end up with the right sides of your lining and scarf together but hidden from view.

Sew around the top of the bag leaving an gap big enough to pull the whole thing inside out through. I'd say about 2.5 inches but it's up to you. If this is your first one leave a bigger gap.

Pull your bag inside out using the gap you left. This is mine, with a yellow circle showing the gap.
This can be quite fiddly but is worth taking time over. You could iron it at this point but I'm not big into ironing so I skipped that.

Push your lining inside the bag and smooth everything into place.
You'll still have that hole, but we're about to close that. You are going to sew a line of stitching around the outside edge of the bag to keep the lining secure and smooth inside so pin it to start you off and then sew just a few mm from the edge.  Action shot.

You are now going to sew two more rows of straight stitches around your bag to create a cranny for the ribbon to run through. Take a good look at this technical diagram:
The green circle is where in step 2 we left a little gap when sewing the sides of the scarf. The yellow oblong shows the stitching around the edge of the bag (no laughing at my messy stitching) from step 6. So that leaves the two blue oblongs to show where the cranny stitching goes.  How far apart the two rows are depend on how thick your ribbon is. I used skinny ribbon and so mine was about 1cm. Try and keep it even all the way round.

Almost there. Using a bodkin or some other needle, thread it with half your ribbon then poke it through the gap from step 2 on one side.
You are going to go all the way around the bag without coming out of the gap on the other side, so you'll end with the bodkin appearing again from the same place where it went in. Now flip the bag over and do the same thing with the other half of your ribbon. If you've used thick ribbon take a minute to make sure it's laying flat inside the cranny, then tie the protruding ends together to make sure they don't get lost.
Ta da!

Fill with wool or whatever else tickles your fancy and feel proud of your achievement!

This would also serve well as a toiletries bag, or for clothes pegs, or toys, or sweets, or as a lavender sachet for drawers or....practically anything really!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

When the little voice tells you that you can’t

I have been a long time admirer of the recycled knitting needle bracelets made by Sassafras Creations on Etsy ( I have a blue one and a red one and she was doing some biros about 3 years ago that I always wanted but never got, but that’s not really the point. I got my bracelets at different times over the last couple of years and I wear them often.

(Figurines available here - no affiliation.)

Then I got to thinking, “It’s a bent knitting needle. I have knitting needles. I could bend one.” And I did have the needles but then the little voice started telling me how hard it would be. I would need to heat the metal needles to get them to bend smoothly.

“OK,” I thought, “I’ll use the oven”.

But if I heated metal needles in the oven the coating might burn or smoke or melt or something.

“OK,” I thought, “I’ll do one and see what happens.”

But they are not all made by the same company. What works with one needle might not work with another and the next one might melt and ruin the oven.

“Well” I thought, “I’ll just give it a go.”

When you bend the needle it will be hot and you’ll burn yourself. And if you use a cloth or gloves you won’t be able to get a good enough grip on the needle and it will go wrong.

“That is quite offputting.” I thought to myself. “But a teatowel should be fine.”

When you bend it, it might snap and bits will fly off into your eyes and blind you.

“Yes that is very offputting.” I thought. “I’d better wait til I have some eye protection.”

And so on. So of course then about 6 months passes and I still haven’t so much as moved a knitting needle near the oven.

Yesterday is when everything changed. I had had a fairly bloody day and was grumpy. I’d had enough of listening to ‘the man’ and wanted to stick two fingers up to the world and do what I wanted – much like a 17 year old. I was, in fact, in a perfect mood to quell the little voices. I was also, and this is important, wearing one of my Sassafras bracelets.

So I got home. I got a plastic beaker. I retrieved one of my pretty metal needles form my stash. I bent it round the beaker. It didn’t bend perfectly so I bent it a bit more by hand. And it was good.
(Sassafras needle is blue, obviously)

Then I did some more.
And yes, they're not as good as the professional one, but then they didn't cost me anything and took about 5 minutes. And if I heated them up and used a proper vice and all that jazz they probably would look better. But I think they look pretty good as they are.

So to summarise, sometimes it is good to channel your inner 17 year old. And if you're reading this and you are 17, it all gets worse from here. Chin up.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Knit Camp News

I feel so sorry for the Unhappy KnitCampers. I decided long ago that Stirling was too far to go for a knit holiday and that it was going to cost too much. I did feel the lure of all those top name teachers and the Ravelry linkage but it was just too much hassle. I have never been so happy not to be attending a knitfest.

The first I heard was at Knit Nation a few weeks ago in London where there were mutterings about mass pullouts by tutors who had only just been sent their contracts (3 weeks before the event) and had balked at the gagging clauses forbidding them to make any negative comments about the event before, during or after. Then there was the news that the organiser had offered to pay Casey and Jess (the Ravelry owners) half their airfare and then refused once the flights were booked. So they are now in Edinburgh (with Ysolda and having Ravelry meet ups with groups in Edinburgh on the 14th and Glasgow on the 15th) but not attending the event. Meanwhile the organiser was still using the Ravelry name and not saying which tutors had pulled out.

Fast forward to last night and I get a text asking me if I've seen the latest - one tutor deported at Glasgow Airport and another diverted to Ireland because there are no work permits. So I go onto Ravelry this morning and wowsers - is there one big mess brewing. I wouldn't want to quote out of context so have a look here at the discussions forum for the latest. Things were certainly not helped when the organiser complained about people hassling her for information. Her post was neatly hemmed in by others from people literally crying because they had been looking forward to the event so much and it was now in tatters.

If you are on your way up there I would strongly recommend you go onto Ravelry as there seems to be little to no communication going out to all the paying attendees about cancelled classes. The latest I read was that the classes with European tutors were on, but everything else was somewhat up in the air. There is some handy advice about refunds and what your legal position is in other threads on the forum.

I would love to hear form those of you who are for the tag #knitcamp on twitter (no account needed) for the latest news. The official blog is here, but somewhat out of date. The official website is, um, down.
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