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Archive for October, 2012

Back in the summer (I use the term loosely), I attended a class at the lovely Grace and Jacob, taught by the very talented Bryony to learn how to make fabric flowers, having seen a sample in the shop and been fascinated by them.

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It wasn’t nearly as hard as I’d thought it might be, and within an hour we’d all made our first flower.

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Which was soon joined by a second, with pointy petals this time.

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And then a third, with pointy folded petals. We sewed pins on the backs, and they’ve been happily adorning my denim jacket ever since – and are only a little the worse for wear!

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But what I really wanted to do was to make a bunch of flowers to put in a vase. I’d chosen these fabrics because they’re from the same range I used to make baby quilts last year, and I had leftovers. Which I attacked as soon as I got home, and before I knew it I had lots of flowers – it’s strangely addictive, especially when you realise that you can combine different shapes and sizes of petals, and mix fabrics, the possibilities are endless.

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A few close ups of different combinations and sizes of petals –

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I covered the stems of these with florists tape, but it was horrible sticky stuff (or at least the roll I got was!) and since then I’ve only used it for holding bunches together.

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Like this one. A tiny bunch (the whole thing including the vase is only about seven inches tall) using silk leftovers from the cushion I made last year. These flowers are great for fabric scraps, I’ll never throw any away again! And as the scraps get smaller, so do the flowers…

One thing I did find with the silk though was that it frayed like mad, so when I decided to make a bigger bunch for my mum’s birthday, I used bondaweb on the back of the silk before cutting it to hold it together, which worked much better, and stiffened the silk slightly too.

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I also had leftovers of some Kaffe Fassett paperweight fabric in red, so I bought a couple more fat quarters in lime green and blue to go with it, and made this bunch. It was going to be for my desk at work, but we’ve recently adopted a clear desk policy (which is a complete nightmare to untidy me) in preparation to our move to a new headquarters building where we’ll all be hotdesking. I am so not looking forward to that! But anyway, back to the flowers.

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My next project is to make a Christmas wreath, using a polystyrene circle. I’ve made five flowers for it so far, I should be able to make enough in the next two months to finish it!

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They’ve all got a u-shaped piece of wire on the back, going through the shank of the central button, so they’ll just push into the polystyrene. Well, that’s the theory, anyway!

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Oh dear, this has been a very neglected blog of late. I’ve not been feeling brilliant, and I find that whenever I feel a bit down, my words are the first thing to go – I try and write, but it all just comes out very stilted and I give up. I’m still not quite right, but I’m feeling a bit better, and I managed to take some photos today which don’t make me look dreadful (as most of the last lot did), so I’ll start trying to catch up on what I’ve been knitting.

Starting with the most recent and working back (because that’s the most logical way to work, obviously), here’s a little shawl in the beautiful Kidsilk Stripe from Rowan.

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I’ve been lusting after this colourway (twilight) for ages, and I finally cracked and treated myself to a ball a couple of months ago. This very simple pattern – mostly stocking stitch with an easy lace edging – seemed perfect for showing off the amazing colours in the yarn (the colours haven’t come out brilliantly in the photos, the stripe above the lime green is actually a beautiful purple, and the stipe which looks purple is more muted. But you get the idea).

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The Kidsilk Stripe seems expensive at £18 per ball, but it’s a 50g ball (compared to 25g for regular Kidsilk Haze), and this shawl only took one ball. So pricy but not extortionate. Unfortunately I have a yearning to make a cardigan or jumper out of this colourway, which is going to take at least three balls. Hmm, better start saving up!

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Next up is a huuuuugggge shawl, in a merino/possum mix yarn, and Noro Silk Garden. I bought the possum a few years ago, from the Knittery in Australia when they were closing down, and I’ve been waiting for the perfect project for it ever since. Similarly three balls of Silk Garden in a long discontinued colourway have been sitting in my stash, and this was the perfect opportunity to put them together.

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The pattern is Sonia’s Shawl, and it calls for equal amounts of yarn. I had 640m (in four skeins) of one, and 300m of the other, so I used the first skein of the possum at the top of the shawl, then striped the silk garden with the next two skeins, and used the last skein and a bit to do a garter stitch border.

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To say I’m happy with this would be something of an understatement – it’s one of my favourite things of everything I’ve knitted. It’s going to live on my sofa in the winter, and keep either my shoulders or my legs warm, and if it gets really cold it’ll go over my coat as a lovely snuggly furry layer :)

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And it’s why I love Noro so much – you can do an incredibly simple pattern and the wonderful colours make it look absolutely stunning.

(Pause for a slight interruption – this is another reason it’s sometimes hard to blog –

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Someone thinks that the space between the laptop and my face is her space. Thankfully she never stays very long!)

And back to the knitting. Continuing the shawl theme, when I saw the Leftie pattern I couldn’t resist starting one pretty much straight away.

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The pattern’s written to use up leftovers, using a different yarn for each leaf (hence the name Leftie), but the thought of all those ends to sew in had me running away screaming, so I had to come up with a plan b. Which was to use handspun yarn, and it worked perfectly! This was a skein I’d spun a couple of years ago, and then gone off as all the colours seemed to merge together in the skein. Thankfully when I started knitting they sorted themselves out again – and because the leaves are done with short rows all at once, you’re only using a short length of the yarn and the colours came out fairly clear. If that makes sense!

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This is the whole thing once it was done – you start at the small end and the rows get longer, then you stop once you lose the will to live. Which was after 30 leaves in my case. The pattern’s written for fingering weight, but I used DK, largely because I bought a huge amount of cheap wool/alpaca mix from Kemps a while ago, and wanted to use it up. Well, make a start, anyway.

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And this is the shawl in action – it’s very cosy!

Last up on today’s photo session was a shawl I finished a while ago, but failed to photograph in any sort of flattering fashion. I had better luck today, thankfully!

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The knitting world went mad last year when Kate Middleton was photographed just after her wedding wearing a shawl with a frilled edge.

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There are now lots of patterns for similar shawls on Ravelry, but none of them seemed quite what I wanted until I saw Atlantic Storm. It’s a very plain shawl – Kate’s was patterned in the body, but I thought that would be too much with this DK weight yarn, so I wanted to stick to stocking stitch.

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It’s a shallow triangle, increasing at the ends of three rows out of every four, then stitches are picked up along the top and then a couple of rows of increases worked until there were – wait for it – over 1800 stitches for the edging. Which is all in 1×1 rib. Thankfully I was watching tennis at the time, so I needed mindless knitting. I just slogged away at it until I’d done 19 rows, then thought about casting off. I knew I didn’t want to do a standard cast off, which always looks odd on rib to me, and the only other one I could find in most places was a sewn tubular one. Which is fine for the edges of garments where you have under 100 stitches, but the thought of doing 1800 stitches filled me with dread, not to mention how many ends I’d have to sew in.

So I did some more searching on Ravelry forums, and came up with a link to Techknitter’s fake tubular bind off. Which is a bit more fiddly than a regular one, but gives a lovely edge.

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It’s not a stretchy cast off, so I’m not sure how useful it’d be for garments, but it was perfect for this. The section in the middle of the photo above is actually the right side, but I decided that I liked the reverse better, so I cast off the other way round the circle. And about five hours (!) later I was finally done.

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The yarn’s Rowan Cashcotton DK, which is lovely and soft. The 18% angora content does mean that it will spend the next five years shedding over everything it comes in contact with, but hey, soft!

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Why do cats always stand on knitting the minute you put it on the floor?

And I think that’s enough for tonight! There is more to come, but I think that’s plenty for one post. I’ll try not to leave the next one so long, honest…

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