Saturday, 6 March 2021

Snowflake Placemats and Coasters

Well over a year ago now, I started a project to knit a set of placemats and coasters to replace the tatty ones we currently use.

In May 2019 I posted my first completed coaster and confidently suggested that it wouldn't take long to finish the rest off, including a table runner too.

Although they were reasonably easy to create they were also a little tedious, and while I wanted the finished thing I wasn't enjoying making them as much as I could have, so more interesting project kept pushing them down the pile.

However once we kicked off the new kitchen project (Jult 2020) I knew I had to get them finished in time for moving back in. Now I had some motivation it was easier to get on with it.  Plus I suddenly realised that without meaning to we'd chosen the unit colour to match the wool!  Perfect.

With a massive delay waiting for the new bifold doors to be installed I finally finished them with time to spare meaning they were knitted, blocked out and ready to go when we moved back into the kitchen (Feb 2021), a lovely set a placemats and coasters.  I gave up on the idea of a table runner knowing I'd never get it finished!

I used Martin Storey's Snowflack pattern and Rowan Felted Tweed. One ball of main coloured wool was enough for a placemant and a coaster.

Sunday, 28 February 2021

The Sky Blanket - February

 

And so the Sky Blanket continues.

Each square takes about 30 minutes to knit and then sew to the last one.  By sewing them as I go I hope to have far less sewing up to do at the end as it is my least favourate thing to do. 

The last 3 days have been gorgeous
I've sewn a button to the first square to help me remember where I started and hopefully put every square in the right place.  I've also got a spreadsheet with each square marked.  As I complete a square I colour it in and then bold the lines between squares to show they have been stitched together. 

 

Although I do look at the sky at lunchtime, I do find myself influences by what it does during the rest of the day. For instance in February we've had 2 rainbows!  I really wanted to include them in my squares, but rainbows don't tend to happen at midday - they happen when the sun's rays are at a lower angle, but I've included them anyway.

 

So far I'm managing to keep up, mostly due to the fact we are still in lockdown and I have nowhere else to be.  I hope I can keep it up once we come out of lockdown and life starts up again.

Saturday, 20 February 2021

New Kitchen

 

When we bought the house, 5 years ago now, the kitchen was a huge selling point for me.  Very spacious, with lots of work surface and still room for a table and a range cooker. 

I loved it.  My only ambitions for it was to add a decorative door to the freezer and kick boards to the cupboards. But to do that ‘im outdoors would need some space to work so we had to build a workshop first. 

 

However as we lived with it we realised there were some other shortcomings. It was very cold in winter, and there wasn’t a proper extractor fan over the cooker. The floor was getting very sponge, the kitchen door had gaps round it and we kept finding slug tails on the worksurface!

 

I can’t remember now which of us suggested bifold doors across the end wall, but once it was said it couldn’t be unsaid and I started thinking about how the layout would have to change to make it work, that wall currently having the oven and sink against it.

 

This was around the same time that I was sitting on the sofa with a fire going, thinking about running a marathon in Scotland as I watched the snow come down outside. 

Once I’d cracked the layout issue it was a case of working out if it was worth it. But we were going to have to do something in there, even if just to sort the floor out, so we decided we might as well do it properly.

This was a much bigger project than the others we’ve tackled so far and involved more trades too, meaning we’ve had to schedule work in rather than doing it all ourselves. However it’s been lovely to support our local community following on from lockdown when so many people couldn’t work, including ‘im outdoors, as much from lack of supplies as anything.  

So after 2 years of planning and then thinking it wouldn’t be going ahead due to Covid it was pretty exciting to start the project last June by having the roof replaced and 3 skylights fitted.  This all happened without taking the internal ceiling down so we could continue to use the kitchen.

At this point we could have stopped if needed, but everyone assured us that there wouldn’t be any issues, even with Covid, so at the end of July we empted the kitchen (turning the living room into a ‘kitchen’ with the utility room for water/washing up) and knocked the end wall out!

Things like putting in the underfloor heating and some of the electrics happened and then we had to wait for the windows and the massive doors.

They were due mid September but due to issues with supplies it was the beginning of November before they arrived and were fitted!  After all this waiting when we couldn’t do anything as it wasn’t water tight we swung into action, insulating, plasterboarding, finishing the electrics and getting everything ready so the plasterers could do their thing at the beginning of December.

Suddenly we had something that actually resembled a room again!  A lick of paint and before Christmas the kitchen units and appliances were delivered.  Best Christmas present ever!

We've tried to keep and re-use as much of the old kitchen as possible, so now ‘im outdoors had the fun job of fitting it all together like a massive puzzle.  

 

If that wasn’t enough we’d also decided to make our own worktops from concrete!  We had black stone worktops in the old kitchen, which I loved but wouldn’t fit in the new space.  Concrete would give us that solid feel and hopefully a nice finish.

They took a little more work than a normal worktop and had to be made one at a time in sections, but I really love them. 'im outdoors got such a good finish on them, they reflect the tiles!  But man they were heavy and I’m glad we only had to lift them a few inches to get them in place.

With the worktops in place we could tile the walls and do the last little bits and bobs.

 

Suddenly we had a kitchen and I could fill it up with all our stuff and a selection of plants and finally allow the living room to be a living room again.

The whole thing took over 6 months to complete and has been a little trying at times.  But we are incredibly lucky that we’ve had the space to allow us to function in a relatively civilised way and that ‘im outdoors has been able to do so much of it himself.  

I’d like some time to enjoy the house being back to normal, but rewiring starts next week - we decided it was best just to get it done.  Then we can start to think about the garden!

Saturday, 6 February 2021

Silver Kumihimo Bracelet

 

Following on from the black and silver kumihimo bracelet, I had a request for a plain silver version.  'No problem' I said, and with no pattern to worry about soon had myself a pretty silver bracelet. It went down very well, to the point where it caught someone else's eye, so maybe now I need to make another one! 



Sunday, 31 January 2021

The Sky Blanket - January

 

I had big plans for 2021!  This month I turned 40 and I had planned to use the whole year to celebrate by doing some new activity each month.

Of course with the country going into lockdown I failed at the first hurdle, with a tropical holiday cancelled and other activities not possible, even a walk on the beach.

But I had been aware that this might be the case and had a Plan B. 

 

I've decided to make a sky blanket.  This means knitting a square of 'sky' every day for the year and sewing them all together to make a blanket.  Each square is knitted in the colour of the sky for that day (recorded at lunch time) giving you a representation of the weather for the year in a blanket.

I first saw the idea on the Bugs and Fishes blog and kept it as an idea for a time like this.

Laura isn't really a knitter (check out her felt makes - they are amazing) so she kept it simple knitting all her squares in garter stitch.  She used 2 strands of DK yarn which gives greater flexability over the colours and a nice chunky square.

 

But while I liked her chunky squares I'm not a massive fan of garter stitch and so made a few modifications for my own blanket.

A star button to mark the first square
 

Firstly I've been learning to meditate over the last year.  One of the examples they use is that the sky is always there and your thoughts are like the clouds that come and go throughout the day.  I find this a really useful thing to remember when I'm struggling and so in my blanket I wanted the sky squares - the days were there isn't a cloud in the sky, to be more solid than the garter stitch which I do think lends itself to clouds very well, so I decided to knit them in stocking stitch.

The second square was inspired by this
 

Secondly I was struggling a little about what to do on those days were you've got a lovely blue sky but a little cloud (see above image).  Could I combine the stocking stitch and the garter stitch?  Talking to my friend Katie, she suggested I try chatelaine stitch which gives little lumpy clouds.  With a little modification with the colours I got a square that had both stocking stich and garter stitch.

A couple of days looking for bits of blue big enough to make a sailor trousers


 But then I wasn't sure if it was quite right, but again talking to Katie she reminded me that its only a representation and as we talked more we agreed that is also kinda based on how it made me feel.  So a couple of days have been knitted in dark grey as they were dismal and wet, although they might not have been any greyer than other days.  And a couple (so far) were knitted solid blue even though it had been cloudy in the morning, as I took Milo for a walk in the blue bit.

A day of snow and a day of sunshine

It's an interesting project and I'm curious to see how it progresses throughout the year and what modifications I might need to make as we move from cold wet January to something a little warmer (hopefully!).

Saturday, 23 January 2021

Basic Norwegian Star Hats

 

I thought it might be nice to knit everyone hats for Christmas this year (2020).  It took me ages to find a pattern that I liked, but I finally found one on Ravelry.

Then I just had to work out what colours everyone would like and get knitting.

I used Paintbox yarns in Simply Aran.  The yarn is soft and easy to use and comes in some amazing colours - really bright.

My first attempt against a proper sized hat
 

I didn't bother with a swatch, which meant the first hat came out massive!  So I down sized my needles and tried again.  This time the result was exactly what I was looking for so I got on with knitting the hats.

I started with one for me to make sure the pattern really worked.  I'd decided on yellow to match some gloves I wanted to make, but they had to wait until Christmas gifts were done.

A started hat and a broken needle
 

I then got cracking with gifts for my parents, sisters partner and 'im outdoors.  However I hit a bit of a problem when Milo stood on and broke one of my needles half way though my second hat!

 

Luckily the internet saved me and the new needle was with me within days, giving me time to finish another project while I waitied. 

The hats also gave me a reason to get a set of pompom makers, which are so easy to use I wish I'd bought some years ago!

 

The only problem left was getting presents to recipients when most of the country is locked down and we are encourage to stay home.  Royal Mail to the rescue.

Saturday, 16 January 2021

Yellow Fingerless Gloves

 

Last September as it started getting cooler in the evenings when taking Milo for a walk, I found myself thinking about a pair of yellow fingerless gloves I was given for my (10th?) birthday.

I seem to remember that I wore them until they had holes in them and had to be thrown away.  I also remember they were perfect for riding my bike! 

 

Anyway, I decided that I'd like to make myself a new pair and set about finding a pattern.  I then promised myself that I would knit them once I had finished all my Christmas knitting.  This took much longer that I'd thought and so it is only now that I've finally done it.

And they are so perfect.  I managed to find just the right coloured wool - Paintbox Yarns Simply DK in Mustard Yellow.  And although bigger than the originals they look just the same. 

The pattern was knitted flat, which was a bit of a shock having spent the last couple of months knitting in the round, but they were easy to make and once I made sure to cast off really really loosely they came out great, with only a little bit of sewing up. 

 

I'm tempted to make others in other colours.  Black might be sensible, seeing as I have a black dog?

But they are also perfect as this month I celebrate my 40th birthday; life after all is a wheel.

Saturday, 9 January 2021

Fugue Hat and Mittens

 

I thought it might be nice to knit everyone hats for Christmas this year (2020).  While I knitted quite basic hats for everyone else I wanted something a little bit special for my little sister.  Kate Davies Fugue design seemed the perfect solution.

 

It consists of a hat (or tam) and a pair of mittens.  Each incorporates a vikkel braid, something I had not tried before, but as is always the way, was much easier than it looks. 

Vikkel braid
 

They were all knitted in the round and I really enjoyed making them.

When I came to the last mitten I was concerned that I wouldn't have enough of the dark wool, so I switched the pattern round using the lighter coloured wool as the main colour.  I actually think they make a lovely pair.

I used Cascade Yarns 220 Superwash Sport which is a soft yarn but it did separate a little bit when I was knitting with it meaning you had to be very careful about catching all of the yarn you were working with.  But it is washable, important for something like this.

 

I'm very pleased with the end result, I love how complex the pattern looks, I just hope my sister likes them too.